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Boston: Hub of the Sporting World

City Features Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, More

By Michael Stankiewicz

The 1988 Harvard fall sports season is under way and with it comes the hootin' and hollerin' at Soldiers Field, Ohiri Field, Blodgett Pool and the Palmer-Dixon Tennis Center.

But don't forget about the other sports events around town this fall.

Rollin' Sox

Okay, so the commissioner of baseball is going to be a Boola-Boola Bulldog from Yale. That's okay, you can still go to a baseball game.

And the prime sports attraction in Boston these days is...surprise...the Red Sox, who have finally caught the Detroit Tigers and moved into first place in the American League's Eastern Division. Make your reservations now, because tickets are scarce for the few remaining Boston home games this month.

Manager Joe (I never played second base for the Cincinnati Reds) Morgan's hiring as "interim manager" after the All-Star break preceded the Red Sox' surge to the top of the standings. The bats of Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Ellis Burks and Mike Greenwell and the pitching of Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst have been the strength of the Sox' winning this late summer. The signing of designated hitter Larry Parrish has been a gold mine for Morgan so far.

The Red Sox have also received a lot of help from their "competitors" this year, as both the Tigers and the New York Yankees have self-destructed in the race for the Eastern Division crown. Boston once again has put itself in prime position to break its fans' hearts in the Fall Classic but maybe, just maybe...snap out of it, you're dreaming again.

Standing Pat

The National Football League season is under way and the local favorites, the New England Patriots, are off to a great start following their 28-3 demolition of the New York Jets in a driving rainstorm last weekend.

The prospects for the Patriots' season may not be that bright, though, considering the Jets would have a tough time beating Columbia.

The team has changed very few faces from a squad that struggled to win less than half of its games last year. Rookie John Stephens' combination of power and speed is expected to give a mediocre running game a big threat, but without an effective offensive line, don't expect too much.

New England will once again have to depend on the wonderfully preserved arm of Steve Grogan to return to the playoffs this year. Grogan showed no signs of losing his accuracy as he threw two touchdowns to Irving Fryar in the Patriot's opening-day win.

The biggest weakness on the defensive front for the Patriots this year will be the defensive line, putting even more pressure on Andre Tippett and the secondary. The loss of Kenneth Sims for the year due to an Achilles tendon tear was not exactly at the top of Coach Raymond Berry's Christmas list.

The biggest change this year for the Patriots may be their owner. With razor magnate Victor Kiam ready to purchase the team, expect Sullivan Stadium to be renamed Remington Stadium by next September.

Big Green Machine

Yes, Boston's biggest attraction, Larry Bird, is back to start another quest for the NBA Championship, and yes, the same cast of characters around him are also back...one year wiser, one year more experienced, and one year older.

One may consider last season the beginning of the end for the Boston Celtics, who still dominated the Eastern Conference during the regular season, but were clearly outclassed in the play-offs by the Detroit Pistons. The Celtic skeptics point to K.C. Jones' resignation as another indication of their new status as the league's fallen giant.

However, under new Coach Jimmy Rodgers, and with Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge back, it's safe to expect another Eastern Division crown in 1988-'89 for the Celtics. Only the New York Knicks, who added Charles Oakley and Rod Strickland in the offseason, appear capable of winning more games than the Celtics this year.

But don't plan on hoppin' on the T and heading over to the Garden to catch a Celtics game this year. One more thing that has remained constant is the ticket availability for Boston games. You'd probably have a better chance of finding a Celtics' ticket in the street than at the box office.

Big, Bad Bruins

One team you still can get tickets for are the Boston Bruins. Not many people remember it these days, but the Bruins did make it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

Come on...you remember now, the "Fog Game" which never was in the Boston Garden last June. Maybe now the Boston Garden will be renovated after the city lost a Stanley Cup game to the aging facilities at the Garden.

The Bruins return a solid team, under the guidance of Coach Terry O'Reilly. The Bruins may be considered one of the early National League favorites to dethrone the Edmonton Oilers after Wayne Gretzky made like the Oakland Raiders and left Edmonton this summer for warmer climes in Beverly Hills.

All the Sports that Fits

Boston comes equipped with several excellent publications which provide good sports coverage. The Boston Globe has one of the finest, if not the finest, sports pages in the country. Leigh Montville is a first-rate columnist. The Herald puts a flashier twist on the sports news. And, if you want statistics, you can always pick up a copy of USA Today.

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