By: Bob George/
August 01, 2007

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Next thing you know, reports will come out of Buffalo that Jeremy Jacobs will need to get on the Internet and find out the proper protocol on how to parade the Stanley Cup around the ice after winning it.

Maybe your heads are still spinning out there, and rightfully so. On one day, August 31, the Red Sox acquired former Dodger closer Eric Gagne from Texas, and the Celtics picked up forward Kevin Garnett from Minnesota in the biggest trade for one guy since Marion Motley. Now everyone is planning one duck boat rally after another, to the point where you might be having delusions of Johnny Bucyk doing in 1972 what hasn't been done since by a Bruin team.

You have the Patriots at the onset of training camp, beginning what everyone assumes will at least be a trip to the Super Bowl. You have the Red Sox, with everyone completely writing off the Yankees and giving the division title, as well as the pennant, to the Olde Towne Team. Now you have the Celtics and that awesome sight of Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce standing together and holding up those Celtic jerseys, and everyone is talking about the second coming of the Big Three and putting the Celtics at the very least in the NBA Finals.

Time for all of us to take some quacking lessons, no?

This region hasn't been starved for titles lately. We have seen four duck boat rallies since February of 2002, three by the Patriots and one by the Red Sox. Yet everyone out there is acting like it's been since 1918 that anyone won anything. Granted, it was an extraordinary day on Tuesday in these parts, and the mere thought of Garnett and Allen coming to Boston and making the Celtics relevant again is alone cause for major celebration.

But while everyone out there is already making their plans to see all three teams in their league finals already, here's just a little bit of thought balancing for all of you just to keep things in their proper perspective. We'll look at the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots, why you should be excited, and why you should be cautious as well.


Why you should be excited: There is no question that the mere sight of Pierce, Allen and Garnett together at yesterday's press conference quickens a lot of dormant basketball pulses in the area. Many fans out there pine for the days of 16 titles in 40 years, the tradition known as "Celtic Pride", and the times when winning was a mere rite of passage and not a novelty. The Celtics have not been themselves since the deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, and now that Red Auerbach is gone, the Celtics are making the best attempt yet to remake themselves and rewrite their history books.

Garnett still doesn't give the Celtics the center they have lacked since the retirement of Robert Parish, but he's the best big man the Celtics have had since. Garnett's numbers place him among the best in the history of the game. Allen gives the Celtics the best pure scoring threat since Larry Bird.

And how poetic is it that the opposing general manager that delivered Garnett to the Celtics is Kevin McHale, who was there for the 16th and most recent Celtic coronation.

Why you should be cautious: The Celtics sent practically their whole team to Minnesota for Garnett. Losing Al Jefferson was huge. What the Celtics are left with is a team that will rely more heavily on the new Big Three than anyone perhaps realizes. Is Rajon Rondo ready to take over as quarterback of this offense? Is Kendrick Perkins the long-term answer at center? After the Big Three, there is a huge dropoff on the roster.

Be careful of all the prognosticators that put the Celtics in the NBA Finals already. Even if that be true, remember that Cleveland was slaughtered in four straight by San Antonio in the finals. Winning the Eastern Conference is nice, but it isn't that big a deal. The power of the NBA is still in the west. When the Celtics look like they could actually take a west team deep in a playoff series, then get excited.

Red Sox

Why you should get excited: Face it, the Sox now have one awesome bullpen. Gagne seems to be okay with sharing setup duties with Hideki Okajima and closing duties with Jonathan Papelbon. It shortens the game greatly for Terry Francona, and it didn't cost the Sox very much (talk about getting max value for Kason Gabbard).

With Curt Schilling coming back soon, and with Jon Lester on the rebound following his bout with cancer, the Sox have a solid starting rotation, one which should avoid long losing streaks. The Sox have the best pitching staff in the American League, and in September and October, it's pitching that gets the job done for you.

Why you should be cautious: Gagne won't be of any help if the Sox keep losing games like Tuesday night, where guys like Eric Bedard turn what is supposed to be the best offense in the league into a one-man show. Or where Josh Beckett pitches his best game of the year but loses 1-0 to someone named Fausto Carmona. The Red Sox are still hamstrung at the plate at times, with some key offensive players still having problems getting untracked at the plate (J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo) and their two big boppers (David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez) suffering dropoffs from their career norms and/or five-year averages.

And quit writing off the Yankees. With all the problems they have had, with all the plaudits given the Sox, they are only seven games back as we head into August. If the Red Sox continue to be plagued with games here and there with difficulty scoring runs, the Yankees will hang around and could conceivably catch the Sox in September. The Yankees are 4-2 against the Red Sox in their last six meetings, and an ill-timed sweep in late August or September is not out of the question.


Why you should get excited: All the offseason acquisitions are mind-boggling. The wide receiver corps may be the best in team history. Randy Moss has made it through the first few days of training camp and no bad reports have come out yet. The Patriots needed to address certain areas, and they did.

The loss to Indianapolis in January will still be on the minds of the veterans, and it still stings. The Patriots came so close to making it to the Super Bowl last year, and that alone will drive an already great team to even higher levels.

Why you should be cautious: In truth, the only cloud hanging over the Patriots is the Asante Samuel situation. Should he decide to sit out the season, it will leave a huge void at the cornerback position and inspire defenses to throw lots against the Patriots. If Samuel capitulates and signs for the franchise tender, however, it means that the Patriots will return the interception co-leader bent once again on putting up big numbers.

One final thing: Be careful before you hop on the bandwagons of Moss and Donte Stallworth. The Patriots may be the perfect organization for them, but they both have a lot to prove and both could blow up in the Patriots' faces if the wrong chain of events happens to either man.