What Scott Brown Can Learn From Pedro … And Clement
|01.20.10 at 11:13 am ET|
And the winner is…Scott Brown. (Hopefully this isn’t breaking news to you at this point).
The race to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat has finally come to a conclusion. No more negative ads of he said, she said. No more advertisements in general, dominating the radio and television airwaves every second of our lives.
No more phone calls. Thank goodness no more phone calls. Scott Brown, Martha Coakley and their supporters will not be making you look twice at your caller ID before picking up the phone. The question “Who do I know from this area code?” will no longer be relevant in your life at this moment.
Love him or hate him, Ted Kennedy was the face of Massachusetts’ politics during his long career. He held his Senate post for nearly five decades, up until his death in August of 2009, and his legacy will always live on in this state. Brown will have a daunting task of making the people of Massachusetts forget about Kennedy, while trying to make a name for himself.
Just like replacing Kennedy, replacing a Boston sports legend is a hard thing to do. Some replacements fall on their face, while others strive and make life after those legends a little bit easier to deal with.
Here is a look at how some Boston sports legends were replaced after their great careers.
The Original Big Three: Bird, McHale and Parish.
Things were pretty good for Celtics fans during the 1980s. Every time these three took the court, something special could potentially happen. Bird was the obvious ringleader of this trio, as he captured three straight MVPs (’84-’86) and led the Celtics to three banners during his tenure. With McHale and Parish on the floor, he could really show-off his famous passing skills to keep everyone involved.
The Celtics were primed to keep the legacy of the trio going when they selected Len Bias No. 2 in the 1986 draft, but his unfortunate death on draft night signaled that the heir-apparent would never step on the parquet.
The C’s floundered after Bird, McHale and Parish left. Another possible replacement, Reggie Lewis, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1993 and now there definitely wasn’t an answer for the post “Big Three” era.
It took 22 years for the Celtics to get back on top with the “New Big Three” of Garnett, Pierce and Allen, but for all those years, the back-up plans kept falling through, and the Green lost it’s spot as top dog in Boston during that period.
Clemens burst on the scene in 1986, winning his first Cy Young and winning the AL MVP while leading the Sox back to the World Series. (We all know what happened there.)
He was “the” pitcher to watch during his stint in Boston, and seemed destined to be a Red Sox for life, but a late-career spat with GM Dan Duquette forced “The Rocket” out of town and eventually into the arms of the hated Yankees, after a stint with the Blue Jays.
Clemens still sits on top of the Red Sox win list with 192 victories, but if Tim Wakefield stays healthy and productive for a few more seasons, that record could fall.
As far as replacements go, the Red Sox did pretty well. Clemens’ departure paved the way for a trade with the Montreal Expos for a wiry-young man named Pedro Martinez. Pedro proved a more than worthy successor to the Rocket, even as the thought of those two guys in the same rotation was tantalizing.
Pedro went on to claim the Cy Young after a 23-4 season with a 2.07 ERA in 1999, still one of the greatest seasons by any pitcher in the history of baseball. Pedro also became an all-day event when he took the mound, and the party would last until the night, usually leaving the Fenway faithful happy customers.
He also brought flair to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, and some of his quotes were just legendary.
Replacing him is next on our list.
Matt Clement and David Wells. Those were the two guys who tried to fill Pedro’s shoes. Granted, it was the right move not to offer Pedro all that money and all those years with his physical conditions (as the Mets came to discover over the next four years), but the 2005 team missed the Pedro flair, especially coming off a 2004 World Series win.
Clement showed flashes in the beginning of the 2005 season, going 10-2 and getting an All-Star nod, but who can forget the infamous night at Tropicana Field that pretty much ended his Red Sox career?
Wells was serviceable for the Red Sox in his brief stint, proving that he did look pretty good in a Sox uniform. He won 15 games in 2005, but overall, filling the shoes of the great Pedro Martinez proved impossible to do that first year after he left.
Let’s face it. The Patriots were terrible before Bledsoe came to town. The Patriots nabbed him out of Washington State with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and from there, the fate of the franchise changed.
Bledsoe had a powerful arm, and was the Patriots all-time leader in passing yards with 29,657 yards and threw 166 touchdowns while donning the Elvis helmet. He and Bill Parcells led the Pats to an AFC Championship crown in 1996, before being displaced by Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers — check that, Desmond Howard and the Green Bay Packers — in the Super Bowl.
Bledsoe signed the richest contract in Patriots history at 10 years $103 million before the 2001 season, but then this happened:
The rest is history. Tom Brady comes in, leads the Patriots to the Super Bowl that season, and Bledsoe is shipped out of town. Brady probably did the best fill-in job of any legend in the history of Boston. Does anyone think about Bledsoe and his Patriots days anymore? Does anyone remember the team that Bledsoe brought to that Super Bowl in 1996?
No, because Tom Brady has been, well, Tom Brady. Three rings, a near perfect season in 2007 in which he threw 50 touchdowns (an NFL record), and one supermodel wife later, Bledsoe is an afterthought.
After suffering a knee injury in 2008, Brady responded nicely in 2009. Other than the terrible ending to the season this past year, Brady should enjoy more success down the road.
This topic will be discussed for years and years to come, because athletes can’t play forever. Someone will always have to fill-in once the golden years of a legend in Boston are over. The “New Big Three” will have to be replaced. Tom Brady (gulp) will one day no longer be the signal-caller for the Patriots. (Of course, Matt Cassell probably deserves a place on the all fill-in team as well for his work in 2008.)
Scott Brown’s task will be challenging. Years from now, we will know whether he became more Brady or Clement.
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