The worst part for fans (or me, at least) about the gut wrenching Gordon Hayward injury is that we've all been there before. An injury at the start of the season that changes the entire outlook of the year.
The first one I remember is the Nomar Garciaparra wrist injury during spring training in 2001. That was supposed to be the Red Sox year. They had the best pitcher in the history of baseball. Nomar was the two-time defending batting champ, and the Sox added Manny Ramirez, the best power hitter out there, during the offseason. This was going to be the year they finally won! Then, a single injury crushed the season.
Same thing happened to the Patriots in 2008. They were coming off an undefeated regular season, and had some unfinished business to take care of. That was looking to be a pretty special season. But, then Tom Brady was lost for the season during the first series of the year, and everything changed. Suddenly they weren't battling for a perfect season, they were battling for a playoff spot. A battle they eventually lost.
Incredibly, it happened again to the Patriots this very season. They were once again starting a season with talks of perfection in the air. This team was loaded and ready to do something special. Then, Julian Edelman went down during training camp. Out for the season. Suddenly, something very special turned into something very good. Sure, they're still probably favored to with the title. But, this was going to be historically good. And now it's not.
So, maybe it's the back to back that makes the Hayward injury sting so much. Maybe it's the fact that the season was altered once again for a Boston team. Suddenly a team the had a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals as a base expectation with a decent shot at the finals lowers that bar a bit. Making the ECF is suddenly a little trickier. Advancing to the finals would be pretty long odds. The whole character of the team has changed. Before it really even got started. I can't help but feel cheated. Like I missed the opportunity to have a very special season. I feel like I missed a golden opportunity.
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