With Mookie Betts being traded to the Dodgers in February and Tom Brady signing as a free agent with the Buccaneers in March, who is the new Face of Boston Sports?
The question isn’t just about who is the best player, rather the athlete with the “it” factor which crosses over to even nonsports fans.
Let’s begin with the team that has the most candidates, the Boston Bruins.
Now in his 16th season, Patrice Bergeron is the longest-serving athlete in the city. Bergeron is the consummate professional but his game is more subtle than dynamic.
Zdeno Chara is actually a year older than the recently departed Brady. But as more of a stay at home defenseman, Chara doesn’t produce highlights like the greatest blueliners in Bruins’ history, Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque.
Tuukka Rask has been an elite goaltender for nearly a decade. But he hasn’t been able to parlay some strong postseason success into a Stanley Cup.
Brad Marchand may be the best all-around player on the squad. But since he is so despised by the opposition, can he be the face of a city?
If “MassHoles” had their choice, Marchand would win in a landslide.
Without question, the most exciting player on the Bruins is David Pastrnak, who was on pace to score 56 goals this season. Only 23, “Pasta” has not yet reached his ceiling while the previously mentioned teammates are in the third period of their respective careers.
My Bruins choice is Pastrnak.
— Big Bad Bruins Podcast (@BigBadBruinsPod) February 20, 2020
If hockey returns this year and Pastrnak has a productive postseason and the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, he will be the toast of the town. A native of the Czech Republic, Pastrnak’s accent is quite endearing. His quirky personality is also a plus.
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The biggest star on the Celtics is Jayson Tatum. Kemba Walker and Jaylon Brown are comparable as players, but Tatum has the proverbial “highest” ceiling of the three. Only 22, Tatum has the ability to become a top 10 player as well as a potential scoring champ.
The Red Sox candidate is shortstop Xander Bogaerts who is coming off his best season. In 2019. Bogaerts hit .309 with 33 Home Runs and 117 RBI to go along with an outstanding .939 OPS. Xander finished 5th in MVP voting and won his first Silver Slugger Award.
Among the many things that make Xander a contender for this title is that he took a hometown discount on a six-year $120 million contract extension last spring. He clearly loves playing here.
Bogaerts is also a two time World Series Champion, is perhaps Boston’s best-looking athlete and plays the most glamorous position in baseball. Shortstop.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the face of the Patriots is NOT Tom Brady. The quarterback is the de facto CEO of an NFL franchise. Not now in Foxboro.
The best player on the Patriots is Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore is a Super Bowl Champion and a high character guy. But, he plays a position where if the opposition avoids him he can’t make many if any game-changing plays. While Gilmore is the best in the league at what he does he is not as dynamic on and off the field as former Falcons, 49ers and Cowboys legend Cornerback Deion Sanders.
The biggest stars in the NFL are mostly quarterbacks with wide receivers, a few running nacks and edge rushers sprinkled in.
So the ‘Final Four’ of this exercise is David Pasternak, Jayson Tatum, Xander Bogaerts and Stephon Gilmore. Bogaerts and Gilmore are the most accomplished and are right in their respective primes. But both lack the sizzle to be the Face of America’s best sports city.
The winner comes down to two young guns who have not reached their vast potential. Pastrnak may be closer to winning a championship, but Tatum plays a sport that is tailor-made for larger than life superstars. Tatum doesn’t have the personality of Pastrnak but he has barely scratched the surface of his limitless potential.
In the glorious history of the Celtics, they have never had a league scoring champion. Tatum could be their first.
In a poll conducted on twitter, @johnsap, Tatum barely outdistanced Pastrnak 43% to 34%. Gilmore received 15% of the vote. Bogaerts 8%.
I wholeheartedly agree with this poll. In a narrow decision, its Jayson Tatum over David Pastrnak as the new ‘Face of Boston Sports’.
John Sapochetti is Co-Host
Of The “SAP & KAT SHOW”
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