When it's all said and done -- Friday, actually -- we can look back at the year in sports for Boston teams as one with mixed results.
We saw everything from champions (Boston College men's hockey) to near-champions (Celtics), from high expectations (Bruins, Red Sox) to huge disappointments (Bruins, Red Sox), and never-ending machines (Patriots).
This year brought a lot of new faces to Boston (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford an Shaquille O'Neal) and seen old ones prove they're still at the top of their game (Tom Brady and Tim Thomas). We've seen old friends leave town as well (Randy Moss), and seen old ones come right back and never miss a beat (Deion Branch). Superstars have emerged (Rajon Rondo) and super-duds have made their own cases (John Lackey).
And yet, we're still asking the question: Who is that Darnell McDonald guy?
Hey, it's no 2007, but 2010 was a pretty good year for the teams in Boston. And for the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics, they are hoping 2010 success carries over into 2011. Here are the top five stories from the year in sports in the Boston area:
5. Red Sox Are Champions of the Offseason
On the field, the Boston Red Sox were not nearly the best team in baseball. It was a year of ups and downs for the Red Sox, ending in a trip home in October -- not to the playoffs. But off the field -- and on the hot stove -- there wasn't anyone better than the Red Sox.
After the disappointing 2010 campaign, General Manager Theo Epstein made a splash by trading for former Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez. Epstein had to give up three big prospects, including pitcher Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, but Gonzalez is a player Theo has been wanting for (literally) years. Now he's the Sox' every day first baseman.
To make the offseason even sweeter, the Sox signed former Rays left fielder Carl Crawford for a mere $142 million. OK, "mere" may not be the word to describe that contract. But now the Sox have one of the most electrifying players in baseball in their outfield for the next seven years. And now all of a sudden, a postseason appearance is a necessity with this talented club.
4. Randy Who?: Patriots Best Team In NFL Heading Into 2011
A funny thing happened in early October: an NFL team in the midst of trying to make a run for the playoffs traded arguably their most talented wide receiver, a future Hall of Famer.
And that team got better.
We're talking about the Patriots and Randy Moss, of course. Just days after Moss went catch-less in a Patriots win against the Dolphins, Moss was shipped to Minnesota for a third-round draft pick. Stepping into his place was Deion Branch, whom the Patriots traded for from the Seahawks shortly after the Moss deal, and a couple of impact rookie tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
The Patriots are 9-1 since Moss was traded. And Moss, well, he's on the Titans now, after being cut by the Vikings just four games after the trade. Moss is averaging 37.5 yards per game this year, a career-low.
3. Boston College Men's Hockey Wins NCAA Championship
The Eagles just had to go and do it again.
Boston College won its second NCAA men's hockey championship in three years by defeating Wisconsin in the finals, 5-0. The Eagles scored four goals in the third period to nail down the championship win, a year after their rival Boston University won the title. John Muse made 30 saves to lead BC to the victory.
Can they do it again? The Eagles are currently 11-5 an look to make another trip to the Final Four in 2011.
2. Another Go-round in the Celtics-Lakers Rivalry
The Celtics went through a tough road -- first the Hawks, then the Cavs with LeBron James and finally the Magic -- to renew the Celtics-Lakers rivalry one more time.
Even losing center Kendrick Perkins early in Game 6, the Celtics were able to push the top-seeded Lakers to a Game 7. But on their home court, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant were too much to handle as they won their 16th NBA championship with an 83-79 victory.
So how do the Celtics respond? They re-sign Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and bring in a big name -- Shaq -- to make a run in 2011. Now the Celtics are 24-5 and own the best record in the Eastern Conference.
1. Bruins Blow 3-0 Series Lead to Flyers
The Boston Bruins made history this year -- but nothing they should be proud of.
Just four professional sports in the history of, well, sports, have ever blown a 3-0 series lead and lost the series, 4-3. The Red Sox were one of the teams to pull off the 4-0 run in the 2004 ALCS. And now the Bruins make it five.
An ugly, horrible five.
Here's what made it worse: the Bruins actually had a 3-0 lead in the decisive Game 7. And, just like the series lead, that was blown.
The Bruins may have won the first professional game of the 2010 year (beating the Flyers in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1), but that won't be their legacy for 2010.
Or, for that matter, history.