Sometimes it's good to finish as second best. Just like the Boston (Mass.) Cathedral High football team.
Weeks after falling short in a state title game after a controversial penalty negated a prospective game-winning touchdown, Cathedral was honored with a star-studded reception hosted by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. With Patriots legend Tedy Bruschi, Red Sox president Larry Luchino and new manager Bobby Valentine, and Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani just some of the sports luminaries in attendance, Cathedral and penalized quarterback Matthew Owens were feted as rightful state champs even though they never got the chance to house the Division 4A trophy. Owens, as you may recall, was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for raising his fist on a potential game-winning touchdown run that was negated by the penalty.
Among the honors Owens received were well-earned plaudits from all the afternoon's speakers and the most special invitation a Boston teen could receive: A standing offer to throw out a first pitch at a forthcoming Red Sox game.
As if there was any question what Owens was most excited about, that was quickly quelled when he spoke with the Boston Globe. After all, it's not every day someone gets the chance to perform what is basically a Boston fan's version of being a seminary student offered the opening lines of a mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City.
"Two words: First pitch," Owens told the Globe.
For his part, Menino echoed his original statement that he felt Cathedral had been cheated out of a title that was rightfully theirs.
"I think there was a little injustice there," Menino told the media at the luncheon, which was hosted by Legal Seafoods in the city's Seaport District. "I mean we all played sports. We all showed some excitement. For the young man to do what he did, he was excited."
In his first public appearance in the city since being named manager of the Red Sox -- which many would consider an homage in itself to what Cathedral had achieved -- Valentine said that the team should celebrate and remember the season as the champions they should have been.
"You're here today because of what you did, not what you didn't do," Valentine said. "You're here because you're champions."
Not a bad gig for a team that finished as runners-up.