Boston: The center of the winning sports universe

A decade ago, Boston was Loserville.

No championships, no parades, no nothin'.

There hadn't been a celebration since the Celtics won it all in 1986. The Bruins hadn't won since 1972, the Red Sox since World War I and the Patriots -- well, the Patriots had never won anything.

And now? Now we're spoiled. Boston has become Title Town. Miss the latest championship? Starved for another winner? No problem -- like buses on a busy route, there should be another one coming along in a minute or two.

Or so it seems. The drought is over and championships are almost commonplace. The Red Sox have won two of the past four World Series -- the only team to win more than twice in the new century -- and seem positioned to win some more, with or without Johan Santana.

The Patriots can't be beat -- literally. Having won half of the past six Super Bowls, they're the favorites to win another in two months. They haven't lost a meaningful game since last January and with two more wins, can lay claim to the greatest regular season in football history.

The Celtics aren't just relevant again -- they're a revelation, off to the greatest start in franchise history (20-3). After losing 18 straight at one point last season, they seem destined for a spot in the Eastern Conference championship, at minimum.

Even the Bruins, who've gone longer between championships than any of the teams in town, are competitive again and, on most nights, quite entertaining.

So, to what do we owe this sudden spate of good fortune? Is this some sort of payback for the soul-crushing defeats that visited the fan base like some plague, a bit of karmic retribution for Buckner, too many men on the ice and Ben Dreith?


What does seem clear is that the recent run of sports success has gone a long way in curing the region's innate Calvinist tendencies. Once conditioned to expect the worst -- with the accompanying realization that the worst was exactly what they deserved -- Boston fans have been transformed from long-suffering cynics to cockeyed optimists.

Think of it. There are grade school children who don't know the Red Sox as anything but winners, a notion that would strike their grandparents as laughable. Those same Patriots who made losing an art form, who twice in 20 years were coached in postseason games by men who had already committed to other teams, are now a modern-day dynasty.

Of course, winning comes with a whole new set of problems. To wit: Everyone hates you.

The Red Sox are dangerously close to becoming the Yankees -- a financial empire with unlimited resources for whom winning becomes so routine that it becomes joyless. The Patriots, tarnished by the still-smoldering Spygate, have engendered national ill will from opponents to pundits. For some, they have become too good for their own good.

And should the Celtics continue their renaissance, it won't be long before Spike Lee feels compelled to hate them again. Then, and only then, will they have arrived.

All this success can be troubling and already there are alarming signs of hubris. After routinely blowing out opponents for the first half of the season, the Patriots have survived three close calls in the past four weeks, setting off alarms that they've misplaced the ability to finish teams off.

The Celtics lost by two to Detroit at home the other night, prompting a daylong dissection of Doc Rivers' coaching strategy. The feel-good atmosphere surrounding the Red Sox could dissipate in a hurry with a three-game losing streak in April.

If the Celtics can win the NBA Finals in June, Boston could have itself the first Triple Crown of titles in modern memory -- three champions in three different sports in the same town. All within the span of nine months.

But that's getting ahead. This can't last forever, which should be a sobering thought for fans in Boston -- and mild succor for those in Miami.

Sean McAdam of The Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.