Posts filed under ‘sports’

Fenway frustration, soccer salvation?

Yeah, I’m impressed the Boston Red Sox scored 10 runs in an inning. And yeah, I’m impressed they ultimately put up 19 runs in their victory over the visiting Texas Rangers. But c’mon … do we need games like these?

Maybe they remind us what a delight good pitching is. We certainly didn’t see much of it from either side — although kudos go to Hideki Okajima for providing some bullpen stability in the late innings. And the game, being so long, showed us baseball’s power to make players both hero and goat in the same game, like Kevin Youkilis, who delivered the game-winning homer in the bottom of the eighth, and whose error in the top of the ninth resulted in what eventually became the Rangers’ last run.

I like baseball and I’ll be a Red Sox fan despite the team’s history of heartache (or maybe because of it). But I’m thinking of changing my ways.

Let’s see. Where could I find a sport where there’s …

a) Relatively little scoring to make spectators appreciate the scores their team gets?

b) A defined time limit so fans don’t have to stay up late, persevering through pitching changes?

c) The willingness to say, “Okay, this game’s gone on too long, we’ll call it a tie”?

Someone get me tickets to Gillette Stadium for a Revs game, pronto!


August 13, 2008 at 5:56 am Leave a comment

Doc Rivers ‘endorses’ Obama

After guiding his team to an NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussed the victory on WEEI-AM (850). Asked whether his team could repeat, Rivers invoked a motto associated with Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president.
Rivers and Obama are two African-American leaders who have enjoyed success this year. The Celtics, during their history, showed progressive thinking on race relations. Thanks to the late team patriarch Red Auerbach, the Celtics became the first in the NBA to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper) and hire an African-American coach (Bill Russell). This commitment to equality will prove a more enduring testament to Celtic excellence than Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers (though it was remarkable to watch the 131-92 romp).

June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm 2 comments

No-hit wonder by Lester

Add Jon Lester to the list of Boston Red Sox pitchers to have thrown no-hitters this decade, joining Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, and Clay Buchholz. Another sign Sox fans are getting spoiled. After Dave Morehead threw one in 1965, no Boston pitcher (OK, Matt Young) achieved the feat for the rest of the previous century. While I lament the homer-happy offenses of today’s teams, I don’t mind seeing pitchers dominate. Especially pitchers who have prevailed against personal adversity, which has been the case with Lester, a cancer survivor.

May 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Twelve fourth-quarter points

That’s what damaged the Celtics’ chances in an 88-77 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of their Eastern Conference playoff semifinal series. Cleveland star LeBron James impressed with a 21-point night as his team evened their series at two games apiece. Boston still can’t win on the road (0-5).

What’s more vexing is the way commentators ooh and aah over James’ baskets. It’s like they’ve never seen someone make a layup before and hang from the rim for two minutes. If the Celtics can solve the Cleveland defense and silence James and his sycophants in the remaining games of this series, they can celebrate for doing all basketball fans a favor.

May 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

Bruins’ Stanley Cup drought continues…

…but not without some encouraging results.

Yes, Boston lost a 5-0 debacle to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday at Bell Centre. Le Tricolore clinched a trip to the next round of the playoffs and ended the Bruins’ season, four games to three. The Kostitsyn brothers, Andrei and Sergei, accounted for three goals.

Still, the Bruins rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 series deficits. Projects for next year: Stay healthy. Get back to the playoffs. Try to take a series lead in games so you don’t expend energy on constant comebacks.

April 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

A Bruins, Celtics playoff panorama

Boston’s basketball and hockey teams can sure generate postseason excitement after years of missing the playoffs. The Bruins haven’t made the postseason since 2004, while the Celtics last visited the playoffs in 2005. Now both teams are back.

They’re also looking at championship droughts (relatively speaking, of course, given the Red Sox’ 86 years between titles). The Bruins’ most recent Stanley Cup came in 1972, while the Celtics won their latest National Basketball Association championship in 1986. Can these teams buck precedent?

For the Bruins, they will have to evoke the resilience of last year’s Red Sox, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series. The Bruins trailed the Montreal Canadiens, their Eastern Conference quarterfinal foe, by the same margin before winning 5-1 on Wednesday night. Two more wins for the eighth-seeded B’s, and they can stun the No. 1 Habs.

The Celtics have a heap of high expectations to fulfill as they begin the playoffs. For a team that won just 24 games last season, they sure bounced back quickly, with an NBA-record 42-game turnaround in 2007-08. Can the Celtics’ new top trio, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett — none of whom has won a championship — continue to delight fans in the postseason? We’ll find out as the top-seeded Celtics begin the playoffs against the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm 1 comment

Remembering Jackie Robinson

Sixty-one years ago today, Jackie Robinson began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League. Robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues and is justly celebrated for doing so. Members of current big-league rosters, including three representatives of the Boston Red Sox, will wear Robinson’s retired number 42 today.

It is right that major-league baseball recognizes Robinson, and yet it seems that the big leagues — and the Red Sox — can do more. Stories in the Boston press referencing the Red Sox tribute can note that the Robinson anniversary of April 15 comes a day before a more odious anniversary — that of April 16, 1945, when the Sox staged a sham tryout for three African-American players (including Robinson) at Fenway Park. Pressured by Boston city councilor Isidore Muchnick and sportswriter Wendell Smith, members of the Sox front office watched three potential pioneers … and then did not sign them. Even worse, instead of becoming the first major-league baseball team to integrate, the Red Sox became the last (in 1959, when Elijah “Pumpsie” Green took the field at Fenway).

A few parting points: First, the media acts arrogantly when it claims that Robinson broke the color line for all of baseball. Media members imply that the only legitimate system of professional baseball in the US in the early 20th century was the all-white major leagues, but during those decades, Negro League teams also earned respect and fans. Because they did not survive the integration of the American and National Leagues, the media’s memory evaporates concerning the Negro Leagues. Why doesn’t organized baseball celebrate the first white player to play for a Negro League team (Eddie Klepp, Cleveland Buckeyes, 1946) as much as it celebrates Robinson’s belated debut?

Secondly, one critique of the Red Sox for their delay in signing African-American players is that had it done so, it might have broken the Curse of the Bambino sooner. This does not get at the reason why it was wrong for the Sox to postpone signing an African-American player: It ought to have been about justice, not about winning. Players deserve consideration for a spot on a major-league team based on performance, not on their background. Was Ernie Banks any less of a ballplayer because he never won a World Series? The focus of media members and fans should be on fairness here.

April 15, 2008 at 4:33 pm 1 comment

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