Boston sports fans have a difficult but not unfamiliar decision looming on Sunday night.
The New England Patriots are playing host to the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m., during which time the Boston Red Sox will be well underway in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series vs. the Houston Astros. First pitch at Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:09 p.m.
Scheduling conflicts are commonplace across the sporting universe, unavoidable in markets with multiple professional teams. The Boston metropolitan area is one of 13 in the United States with at least one NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL franchise within its limits.
But not all markets are created equal, certainly not since the turn of the century. Though none have had the sustained success of the Patriots, the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins who have all won championships since 2004, and it’s not lost on members of the Patriots just how passionate the fan base is.
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“I mean, that’s pretty nuts,” Patriots Rob Gronkowski said upon learning of the time conflict. “But you know Boston sports fans, they’re going to have two TVs. The Red Sox game right there and the Patriots game right there and you know, probably halftime of our game, the Red Sox game will be up or something. You’ve got to give them credit. Our fans, those Boston fans, New England fans, they’re die-hard fans. Not just for football but for every sport around here. So you know they’ll find a way to watch both.”
All week, players in New England’s locker room could be seen donning Red Sox apparel.
Long snapper Joe Cardona wore a Fenway Park T-shirt with the Citgo sign, while lineman Ted Karras had another generic Red Sox T-shirt. Julian Edelman rocked a Mookie Betts jersey – and later Celtics shorts – on Friday and recorded a message of support for the Red Sox as they prepare for the ALCS.
But do all members of the Patriots have pennant fever when it comes to the Red Sox?
Stephon Gilmore certainly does, given the fact that his former classmate at the University of South Carolina -- Jackie Bradley Jr. -- patrols center field for them.
“I watch him and support him, I’m happy for him,” Gilmore said.
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Gilmore grew up in South Carolina as an Atlanta Braves fan, the closest professional baseball team to the area. He said that if the Red Sox ever played the Braves in the World Series, he’d go with the Sox at this point.
“It’s really been exciting, it’s one of my favorite parts about my time here in New England, the culture of the Red Sox,” said Matthew Slater, a native of southern California now in his 11th season in Foxboro. “The history, the fans, it’s really cool for them to be able to advance. They’ve had such a great season and we’re all pulling for them, wishing them the best.”
Tom Brady, a Bay Area native, is also a Milwaukee Brewers fan, according to a piece by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. The Brewers are in the NLCS facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, posing a potentially difficult decision for TB12 in a few weeks.
While LaAdrian Waddle is a native of the Houston area, he said he’s not the biggest baseball fan and thus won’t have to truly choose sides between the Red Sox and Astros. But he did add that he thinks once a player comes to Foxboro, it’s not hard to latch on to the other local teams for a variety of reasons.
“I think the success and just how passionate people are around here, people are passionate about all of the sports teams – not just football,” Waddle said. “It’s always great to see that kind of support. I know those guys appreciate support from other teams and we appreciate support from them.”
Phillip Dorsett, who keeps a vintage Andre Dawson Florida Marlins jersey in his locker, said he was able to watch the Red Sox close out the Yankees on Tuesday night. A native of south Florida, Dorsett enjoys baseball but his true passion – other than football – is basketball.
Always a fan of Kyrie Irving, Dorsett was traded to the Patriots just weeks after the Celtics brought Irving in during the summer of 2017.
“I was happy when I heard he got traded here, and then I got traded here, I was like ‘oh snap, I get to watch Kyrie play,’” Dorsett said.
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“I’d probably wear a Kyrie jersey,” Dorsett admitted. “You can’t do both.”
With the Red Sox guaranteed to play at least through next Wednesday, it’s guaranteed that all four Boston area professional teams will be active at the same time (the Celtics open up on Tuesday).
Barring a rainout in baseball, there unfortunately doesn’t appear to be any scenario in which the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics are all active on the same day this month. There will be a 24-hour stretch in which all four play a game, should the Red Sox need to play a sixth game in the ALCS, on Saturday, Oct. 20 and extending into the next day.
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If that’s the case, TV remotes in the area will be getting an even heavier workload than this week.
“That’s what they’ve got that ‘previous channel’ button for,” Slater said.