Dual dynasty

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Dual dynasty

The Red Sox and Patriots are dominating their respective sports.

The Red Sox and Patriots are dominating their respective sports.

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The Red Sox and Patriots are dominating their respective sports.

The AMSA Voice graphic

The AMSA Voice graphic

The Red Sox and Patriots are dominating their respective sports.

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Death, taxes, and another year of domination by the New England Patriots, who quietly went about their business yet again this season, sweeping aside teams trying in vain to get in their way. Their blue collar work ethic and fiery competitiveness have landed them in yet another Super Bowl, where they will face the Los Angeles Rams today in Atlanta.

After already having dispatched the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC divisional round game, combined with the Boston Red Sox beating the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series in the fall, a simple, time-honored, powerful chant has been heard in the streets of Boston and across New England.

“Beat L.A.!”

Originating from the 1982 deciding Eastern Conference Final game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers (when fans in the Boston Garden, seeing their team was doomed, urged the Sixers to go on and beat the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers), the chant shines a light on antipathy Boston fans have for Los Angeles. The World Series and now Super Bowl LIII have rekindled the chant and the coastal rivalry.

The Boston Red Sox brought home a World Series ring on Oct. 28, making it their fourth in fewer than 15 years. The dominance they have displayed places them in elite company — so much so that it begs a question: Are the current Red Sox dominant enough to be considered a dynasty, and does it compare to the Patriots’ success?

Well, what is a dynasty anyway? It needs some context. In sports, when a team wins multiple championships in a short period of time it is usually considered a dynasty. In baseball, the New York Yankees — to the chagrin of Red Sox fans — are considered the gold standard, having won 40 American League pennants and 27 championships over the past century.

But over the past 15 years, no team has had more success than the Red Sox, which is why they are often referred to as the best team of the decade about to conclude. The interesting thing about the sustained success of both the Red Sox and Patriots is that, contrary to dynasties of the past, they have remained dominant despite a changing cast of characters.

Google image/Creative Commons license
Outfielder Mookie Betts is among the latest crop of stars for the Red Sox.

Comparing the Red Sox rosters from 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018 reveals a bevy of names — including different star players, which is highly unusual. It makes the very definition of “dynasty” — “a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field,” according to Merriam-Webster — a kind of paradox.

Only in Boston can there be a hesitance to call these latest Red Sox a dynasty because of the region’s history of sporting success. The Celtics have won the most banners in NBA history, the Bruins have won the fourth most Stanley Cups in NHL history and are a perennial power, and the Patriots have redefined NFL dominance with five Super Bowl championships in 17 years to go with 10 consecutive AFC East titles and eight straight appearances in the AFC Championship Game.

The fact that this sustained success has come with just two constants — coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady — is mind-boggling. NFL dynasties of the past involved a team with a core group of players staying together for years, perhaps with the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers — often considered the greatest team of all time — as the best example. The Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years with a host of the same Hall of Famers.

Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd perfectly put the Patriots’ long-term success in perspective on his show “The Herd.”

“Here’s how long this thing has lasted: LaDainian Tomlinson got drafted in 2001, the same year the dynasty started,” Cowherd said. “He played his entire career, then retired, then waited the mandatory five years and was voted into the Hall of Fame. And [the Patriots’ success] is still going.”

Also of note among things that get lost amid all the triumphs: The Patriots are the only team to have a perfect record in a 16-game regular season (2007) and they have made the playoffs 16 times in the past 18  years. It is far and away the greatest success of the Super Bowl era.

So, dynasties? Boston has them in the Red Sox and Patriots. Enjoy it while it lasts, New England, before this good thing, like all good things, inevitably ends.

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