Sports stakes are high in Boston this weekend
On Sunday morning, you will head to Gillette Stadium on a tour bus along Route 1, just a baby step on America's oldest highway, whose expanse stretches from Maine to Miami, and watch the leaves change. That means this is the beginning. In football, fall is just the start. There are no absolutes now.You are Norv Turner, and the team you will play is the New England Patriots. They are the reason you're even sitting on this bus in the first place. You're the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, and you wouldn't be here right now if it hadn't all fallen apart on that 53-degree day in San Diego last January the last time the Chargers played the Patriots, when New England won the AFC Divisional Playoff game 24-21. For the first time in your life, "if" is your ally. If the Chargers had turned their first-half dominance into points that day, if Marlon McCree hadn't dropped the interception that should have sealed the game, if the Chargers had won -- the Patriots, and not San Diego, would be feeling the greater pressure to win this rematch.
Not too far away this weekend in Boston, you walk along the Fens, along the Muddy River Basin and past the statue of John Boyle O'Reilly, the Irish poet-activist who in the late 1880s watched the struggle for work and status pit the poor Irish against poor blacks and saw in their common poverty hope and strength. His was an unrealized vision that Boston would again be a place of revolution, this time a joyous multi-racial class uprising 100 years before its time against the Brahmin bluebloods who always controlled the money and kept everybody else down. The leaves are changing, which signifies an end instead of a beginning, because this is the part of town where baseball is played.Important baseball games weren't supposed to commence for another few weeks, when the Red Sox -- after a satisfying wire-to-wire division title run -- begin their half of the two American League Division Series. But the Yankees are here and the lead is close and the Bostonian in you feels an unwelcome tease, not unlike a whip of cold air on a great day to remind you that, in New England, winter is always the next season. The unwelcome tease is the fact that, yes, the Yankees could still win the AL East; and, yes, everything that seemed so certain can be taken away, and taken away by them, once again.
A high-pressure system is hovering over the sports world this weekend, with marquee matchups everywhere on the horizon.
Overview• It's Make Or Break Weekend
• Bryant: High stakes in Boston
• Vote: Who's going to win?
Yankees at Red Sox• McAdam: The kids are all right
• Friday preview: Pettitte vs. Dice-K
Cubs at Cardinals• Sutcliffe's keys for Cubs
• Friday preview: Zambrano vs. Wainwright
Michigan at Notre Dame• Curry: Two monsters are hurting
• Hooley: Carr on very bumpy road
• Forde: Credit check for the Irish
• GameDay Kickoff: Pressure points
• Bottom 10: Pillow fight of the week
USC at Nebraska• Griffin: Huskers out to make statement
• Miller: Nebraska priority No. 1 for USC
• Preview: No. 1 lands in Lincoln
• Scouts' pick: USC 28, Nebraska 17
Chargers at Patriots• Clayton: Early playoff implications
• Preview: Heavyweight rematch in AFC
• Scouts Inc.'s breakdown
• Scouts' pick: Pats 20, Chargers 17
• Spy scandal overshadows game
WNBA Finals Game 5• Voepel: Title on line for Shock, Mercury
• Voepel: Ford unlikely to play
• Voepel: Going the distance again
• Phoenix forces Game 5
FedEx Cup• On the Tee: Full tourney preview
• Sobel: Time is right for FedEx
• First-round recap: Tiger 2 back
• The "Super Bowl" of golf?
Nextel Cup• Blount: Contenders need fast start
• Chase Tales: Consistency is key
• Surround: Sylvania 300