December 6, 2007 / 1:14 AM / in 10 years

Boston sheds its "Loserville" tag in a big way

<p>Boston Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon celebrates after striking out Colorado Rockies Seth Smith to win Major League Baseball's World Series during the ninth inning of Game 4 in Denver in this October 28, 2007 file photo. Boston was branded "Loserville" by a newspaper columnist just over a decade ago but a turnaround in the fortunes of its sports teams has transformed it into a city of winners. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston was branded “Loserville” by a newspaper columnist just over a decade ago but a turnaround in the fortunes of its sports teams has transformed it into a city of winners.

The resurgent Boston Celtics have the NBA’s best record, the New England Patriots are unbeaten in the NFL this season, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and the New England Revolution appeared in their third successive MLS Cup final.

Although the Revolution lost the MLS title game 2-1 to Houston Dynamo last month, their fourth successive trip to the league’s championship game without a win, they continued to be part of an astounding run by the city’s teams.

”All the organizations (in Boston) are doing the right thing,“ Revolution forward Khano Smith said after the defeat. ”I guess it’s just coming together at one time. I guess we let them down today.

“It’s the Patriots’ turn next time and then the Celtics.”

The Celtics have the NBA’s best record at 14-2, while the 12-0 Patriots of the NFL are threatening to become the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to roll through the regular season unbeaten.

TURNAROUND

Robert Kraft owns both the Patriots and Revolution and is one of the men largely responsible for turning things around on the local sports scene. He attended the MLS Cup on November 18 and then flew to Buffalo to watch his football team blast the Bills.

On the same day, the World Series trophy was doing a charity event with Red Sox player David Ortiz at a local supermarket -- weeks after the Sox won their second World Series in four seasons. The first one, in 2004, was their first since 1918.

The Patriots have won three of the last six Super Bowls and are seen as a solid bet to win a fourth.

The Celtics, the signature franchise of the NBA, have been suffering a prolonged drought since the troika of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish broke up 15 years ago. Their last NBA title was in 1986.

Things started to change when this off-season McHale, now the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, traded one of the best players in the game, Kevin Garnett, to Boston for five players and two draft choices.

Immediately, the Celtics rebounded from their status of being invisible in town to being the rage and tickets disappeared rapidly.

TAKING LESS

The Red Sox re-signed veteran pitcher Curt Schilling to a one-year deal and then kept free agent third baseman Mike Lowell in town via a three-year contract, with Lowell turning down the chance for more money and years elsewhere.

It was not long ago that free agents did not want to make Boston their home. Now, free agents are taking less to stay.

“How cool is that?” Schilling wrote on his blog. “Leaving years and dollars on the table to come back here for three more years, good stuff. Pretty nice to think you are fans in a town that is now a desired destination for athletes across major sports. Come a long way for sure.”

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino cannot recall seeing anything like this.

“The closest thing I have seen to this occurred in my home town of Pittsburgh in the late ‘70s with the (NFL) Steelers dominance (four titles in six years, the last in 1980) and the Pirates World Series championship (in 1979),” Lucchino told Reuters via e-mail.

”But this run here is even more intense and more widespread.

“I like to think New Englanders everywhere deserve this good fortune, to balance the historical scales.”

Editing by Sonia Oxley

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