As Thursdays go, this one was a sporting beauty

It was only one day, but it ought to be enshrined in the annals of epic New England sporting festivals, or at least accorded a footnote. The day was Thursday, the 7th of October, 2017, when in a gluttonous rage we were obliged to bounce from the Sox-Astros to the Bruins-Preds to the Pats-Bucs, with too many sidelong glances at the Yanks-Indians, all of it crashing together in a mindless cacophony. To have abided it all and survived was truly Homeric.  

Admit it, old Sport, you succumbed, furiously flipping up and down the dial often enough to get a whiff of everything and not enough of anything.

Dumb as I well knew it to be, I played the silly game feeling, after nine hours of ceaseless din, profoundly addled and having no sure grip on anything I’d witnessed other than the opening Sox-Astros number, which of course was entirely worth missing but had the dial all to itself for a couple of hours.

There are some left in the culture who disdain such nonsense. Doubtless, a sainted few, contemptuous of the conventional wisdom, were able to rise above it all, opting instead for re-runs of Masterpiece Theatre gleaned from Netflix. But a sampling of like-minded spirits, some of whom actually know better, affirms that I was not alone in this madness. It was the couch potato’s ultimate capitulation to television’s boundless capacity for overwhelming us with wretched excess.

So where does it leave us?

A couple of days and many more benumbing hours transfixed before the tube finds the diehards lamenting another failed Red Sox season that ended with the customary bitterness amidst demands the manager be tarred and feathered. The thoroughly spoiled Nation seethes, unable to consider the possibility that maybe the Astros are simply better. ‘Tis ever thus where baseball is concerned hereabouts. Give them credit. This time, they didn’t get blanked.

Meanwhile down in New York, the Yankees dramatically hang on (as of this writing), having shaken off a devastating loss that would have crushed a lesser team and forcing an epic finale back in Cleveland with the seemingly anointed Indians looking stunned. Ah, the irony of it.  As old pal Ned Martin used to say, “Mercy!”

In a normal season in this ongoing New England sporting renaissance, the Patriots would be quick to render the follies of others forgettable. But  this season is shaping up as anything but normal for a Patriots team widely predicted to be capable of going 16-0, near-perfection. For a better measure of the true state of things for Bill Belichick’s kids, consider that with near a third of the regular season in the books, they are tied in their soft-touch division with the Buffalo Bills, who’ve been moribund for a generation, and the heavily loathed New York Jets, widely predicted to go 0-16.

Of course, it’s first place that all three are tied for, although I wouldn’t bet the ranch that’s where the regular season will end, if I were you. And yet, is it too early to wonder if maybe whatever ails these guys might be more profound than you, as well as a lot of the alleged savants, think?

Given their reign of football terror these last 15 years, and Coach Belichick’s lofty stature in the ranks of contemporary genius, few who hold day jobs in the sporting media dare utter such heresy. Which helps explain why many appeared impressed with their narrow escape from disaster in Tampa. There seemed little regard for the fact that had the mediocre Bucs not near laughably botched the game’s final play, the Patriots could have suffered the most egregious loss of the Belichick era. They came that close to inducing sheer panic in ever-adoring Patriot Nation. 

Granted, while cutting back and forth from the baseball to the hockey and over to the football all night, I could have missed something, but it sure looked to me that as Patriot victories go, this one was ugly, a true mullion! I tell you, something’s askew in the state of Foxborough.

In the background, and unfortunately off the radar of most, were the Bruins. But it was their season’s opener, pumped up to be something akin to a Holy Day of Obligation by our baseball and football teams, still worthy of noting even if the Bruins tend to be less demanding about these things as well as less pretentious. But will they be much improved. Ah now, that is the question?

To which there is only one answer after one game of a new season, however nicely won. Who knows?

Stuck in the middle of the pack on the very edge of mediocrity the last three seasons, the Bruins embark on a both perfectly reasonable and profoundly uncertain youth kick. Five rookies, their average age barely 21, graced the season-opening roster, with three more perched in the wings, and upwards of another dozen, according to talent scouts, down on the farm. Hockey men appear mighty impressed with the Bruins’ system’s depth and quality.  

Mind you, it’s too early to book the parade.  Projecting how young hockey talent might pan out in the big leagues is the trickiest such exercise in sport. In no other game are prospects less predictable. The Bruins may have a dozen NHL-worthy kids in their system, but is there a star in the mix? Stars make the difference.

A year ago, everyone was bemoaning the loss of Harvard hotshot Jimmy Vesey, who spurned the Bruins and opted for the Rangers amidst predictions his next stop would be the Hall of Fame. This year the kid just barely made the Rangers roster… on the fourth line.

That’s worth keeping in mind while pondering the infinite promise of Anders Bjork. And we will!