Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is It 1967 For the Bruins?

A friend asked the following question after the Bruins made their comeback Saturday night; "Does this series at all remind you of the '67 World Series?". My immediate answer was, "Only if they win the series." Promising a recap / thought on that I have probably thought about sixteen hundred ways to make this post (ok, slight exaggeration). Herewith, are my thoughts on this Bruins team and the '67 Sox.

In 1967 I was still in elementary school in a very, very small town in the middle of Arkansas. My father was not a huge sport fan, but he enjoyed baseball and taught me how to follow teams from afar by looking at the box scores. This led to my first experience with algebra, but that is a story for another time. So, even though I remember the 1967 season and the World Series I followed that season from afar and I have to rely on accounts from friends, written stories and various shows that have high lighted the role that team had in the rebirth of Red Sox mania.

Without a doubt, that team brought the Sox back into the forefront of the Boston area. Decades had passed since the last time the Sox had made the World Series and the team was not really expected to make the series that year, but game after game the team had battled, staying in the pennant race. Yaz was having a triple crown season and late in the season seemed to come up with big hit after big hit. Still the race went down to the wire with 4 teams going into final weekend with a chance to win the division.

There was more to that season though than Yaz though. Looking at 1967 from Baseball Race you can see that on 7/9 the Sox were 6.0 games back of the White Sox, in 5th place at 41-39. The first day after the all star break they split a double header with the Orioles. The win in the first game made them 42-39, so they were on pace for an 84 win season. Nothing to really be excited about. Then the magic started to happen.

One week later the Sox were 48-40 and trailed the White Sox by 1.5 games and sitting in 3rd place. Another week went by and the Sox were at 54-41 and had trimmed the lead down to 1.0 games and were in 2nd place. The pennant race was on!

Two spectacular weeks and the Sox were on a major roll, 13 and 2 in those two weeks. That is went the excitement hit Boston. By the trading deadline, Boston was still in 2nd place 2.0 games back. By the end of August, the Sox were in first place .5 games ahead of Minnesota. From that point on, only the Angels would play better (.5 games) for the rest of the season.

Still, they needed a good finish. After splitting two games with Cleveland, the Twins came to Boston with a 1.0 game lead. Two wins later and the Sox were finally back in the World Series. Baseball was back on the map in Boston.

So, how does this relate to the Bruins?

Different level of frustration. In 1967 you had to win the American League to make the playoffs, which oh yeah, was the World Series. The Bruins had the best record of the East in the 2001-2002 season. They were the #1 seed and were set to play the #8 seed Canadians. That is a short time period, and of course they Bruins made the playoffs for the '02-'03, '03-'04, and '04-'05 seasons.

Two seasons of missing the playoffs is not the same as waiting decades.

The frustration with the Bruins has been that they kept on losing in the first round. The frustration is that the Bruins seemed to be discombobulated in the office. So, I think I will stick with my first answer, if the Bruins win this series then the magic will be back. Right now, there is excitement, but is it at the level of '67? I don't think so! No, to really get back on the map, the Bruins need to win this series, then the buzz will be about Hockey and next year the Bruins will see a return of their fans.

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