|08.18.09 at 2:40 pm ET|
Good morning New England!
Last night, as most you were likely fast asleep, top major league pitching prospect, Stephen Strasburg became the highest paid baseball draftee in the history of the game. Now the property of the Washington Nationals, the newly-signed hurler inked a record-high 4-year $15.1 million deal late last night.
Strasburg’s deal eclipsed the old record held by Mark Prior’s contract, a five-year $10.5 million deal back in 2001. With such a rich deal, it’s no wonder who Strasburg’s agent is, as super-agent Scott Boras helped get the deal signed, sealed, and delivered.
Even with how rich Strasburg’s deal is, he isn’t the first athlete to sign a lucrative deal before stepping foot on the field of play. As the ink is undoubtedly still drying on Strasburg’s contract, it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane and look at the some other young athletes who got well-paid long before they played.
The year was 2003, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the verge of selecting can’t-miss hoop prospect and Buckeye State product, Lebron James. James, who would later become an NBA superstar shortly thereafter, struck endorsement deals before he had even received his high school diploma from Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
Lebron inked a seven-year $90 million deal with Nike, and one with Upper Deck. James is reportedly being paid $1 million per year for his image to be on trading cards.
In the not-so-financially-powerful world of MLS, 14-year-old soccer phenomFreddy Adu became both the highest-paid and youngest player in the American soccer league. Adu’s rookie deal was for four years and $2 million deal.
Not exactly of David Beckham’s stature, but for MLS, it literally was a big deal. After all, he did appear on MTV’s Total Request Live shortly after signing that deal.
It’s not all fun and games with professional teams offering huge contracts to rookie players. In fact, this very practice has become controversial in the National Football League.
Last year, former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan signed a six-year, $72 million deal with an Atlanta Falcons franchise still reeling from the outrage of Michael Vick’s dogfighting and head coach Bobby Petrino’s abrupt exit from the sidelines. With the deal, Ryan went from starring on the gridiron at the Heights, to the heights of being one of the highest-paid players in the sport before even stepping on the Georgia Dome’s turf.
Money surely does talk in the NFL, as players like 49ers draftee Michael Crabtree are making their actions speak louder than words. The Texas Tech product has reportedly threatened to sit out this season and enter next year’s draft if he doesn’t get a contract that is to his satisfaction.
It has almost become unfathomable that athletes who have yet to prove themselves on a professional level, have truly hit the jackpot. Even Gordon Gekko doesn’t endorse that kind of greed.
|08.18.09 at 8:41 am ET|
After an 11-day break from game action the Revs are gearing up for a trip to Seattle against the Sounders on Thursday night followed by a Sunday game at Gillette against Real Salt Lake. The 6-6-6 Revs will play their first-ever game in Seattle.
Seattle sits at second in the Western Division and haven’t lost at home in Qwest Field since April, where they average about 20,000 fans per game. The travel and the new field will add an extra variable to the Revs game.
“It’s a problem,” head coach Steve Nicol said. “It’s a long trip but at the same time they have to do it as well. I think going there isn’t the problem. I think the biggest problem is Sunday, we’re going again on Sunday. Had we just been going there to play then have a free week, but I mean apart from Sunday, Thursday’s going to be a real tough game they’ve been great at home.”
Nicol will miss his second game in a row on Thursday because of the two-game suspension he received after being issued a red card on August 1 against Toronto FC at Gillette. Nicol will travel with the team but will not have any contact before or during the game with assistant coach Paul Mariner taking over for the second straight game.
The team also learned earlier in the week that forward Taylor Twellman will miss the rest of the season while recovering from concussive symptoms he suffered in a game a year ago this August. Twellman had been on the disabled list retroactive to June 26 after appearing in two games, including the one in which he scored his 100th career goal.
“We kind of had a feeling it was going to end up like that,” midfielder Steve Ralston said. “Obviously we were hoping for the better but we understand how important it is for him just to get healthy and if that means to wait and come back to play next year that’s great. The most important thing is his health. You can’t replace a player like that. We all try to step up, score some more g0als.”
The trip to Seattle is the only road game for the month of August. The Revs will play three home games in a row starting Sunday with Real Salt Lake followed by San Jose and Kansas City. New England still has games in hand against every team in the Eastern Division.
“Earlier in the season you can get away with a bad performances or missed chances,” Ralston said. “But we’re in the part of the season here where we need to be focused and everything needs to be better. We’ve done quite well at home this season so hopefully we’ll do good during that stretch but we usually don’t look that far down the road. Honestly we’re looking forward to Thursday and playing Seattle but it will be nice to be at home and play in front of our fans.”
|08.18.09 at 8:38 am ET|
For the last 41 years, American homes have been transfixed by what has become an American institution, 60 Minutes on CBS. The television news-magazine has covered everyone and everything making global headlines, from Richard Nixon to the latest scientific breakthroughs to current president Barack Obama.
In recent years, the world of sports has seemingly bought a time-share on the show. Steroid scandals polluting professional diamonds and America’s high schools, college football coaches aiming to help the community around their schools, a look at the impact the NBA’s most famous name has, and the controversial Michael Vick have all been recently examined by the country’s longest running prime-time television program.
On Sunday, 60 Minutes correspondent James Brown interviewed Michael Vick after the Virginia Tech alum signed a contract to return to the gridiron after being imprisoned on dogfighting charges. The interview was the first one-on-one that Vick had done since going to jail in 2007.
Vick appeared on the show with a representative for the Humane Society and his NFL-assigned advisor, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. In case you missed last night’s piece, the interview can be seen below in two parts.
In March, LeBron James was interviewed for a segment on the show that examined the hardwood superstar. What most will remember from this piece was Lebron’s half court behind-the-back shot that was used in promos for the show.
Interviewer Steve Kroft even went to Lebron’s hometown of Akron, Ohio, to get a better sense of the athlete. James told Kroft that he wants to become a global brand like his NBA hero, Michael Jordan.
If you missed that piece, check it out below.
Even former Patriots coach, Pete Carroll has appeared on the show. 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts looked at the coach and his work on the mean streets of Los Angeles.
Carroll goes into some of the poorest neighborhoods of the City of Angels and aims to help decrease gang violence in Los Angeles. Here’s Pitts’ take on coach Carroll.
Makes you think he’s a better guy than those consecutive 10-6, 9-7, and 8-8 seasons would indicate, doesn’t it?
Finally, President Obama has even chimed in on the world of sports not long after his historic win in the 2008 Election. An avid sports fan in his own right, Obama told Steve Kroft that he would like to see a playoff system to determine a college football national champion.
Aside from meeting each and every champion thanks to visits to the White House, Barack Obama clearly looks like the first fan.
|08.15.09 at 6:01 pm ET|
Exactly one year ago today, Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay were making history in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics.
Today, the two track stars find themselves in Berlin at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics – this time, reliving history.
Both men cruised into the semifinals of the world championship’s 100 meters: Gay, the three-time world champion from the U.S., won his quarterfinal in 9.98 seconds while Bolt, the three-time Olympic champion from Jamaica, finished second in his heat at 10.03.
Still, as the week’s most prominent headline seems to be the matchup between these two running heavyweights, there’s no doubting the underlying historical significance of their competing in Berlin, where Jesse Owens won four gold medals during Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.
Hitler and his Nazi Germany anticipated the games that year to exhibit to the world at large the emergence of a new superpower and, above all else, the superiority of the Aryan race as demonstrated through athletic competition. But much to the chagrin of the ruthless dictator, Owens had other plans as he went on to win the 100-meter sprint, the 200-meter sprint, the 4×100-meter relay, and the long jump. The infamous moment coming when Hitler refused to acknowledge Owens’ accomplishments by neither applauding nor shaking his hand after the games.
However, Owens memorably conceded that it wasn’t Hitler’s snub that irked him most, but rather his own country’s lack of progress when it came to race issues. The Olympic-champion had this to say in an article by ESPN.com’s Larry Schwartz:
“When I returned to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus,” Owens said. “I had to go to the back door. I couldn’t live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.”
Almost 30 years since his death, the U.S. is a different country from the one Owens described in the quote above. Civil rights have become a permanent institution in the country’s structure, and race relations in general are nothing near what they were in the 1930s. Owens, too, has received his due honor in the form of a Medal of Freedom from President Ford, the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Bush the first, and perhaps most notably, a street in Berlin re-named Jesse-Owens-Allee.
During the 2009 world championships, members of the U.S. team will wear “JO” on their uniforms in tribute to Owens.
“The JO on the uniform is basically just letting me know it’s bigger than me just going out and running for myself,” said LaShawn Merritt, the reigning Olympic champion in the men’s 400 meters, in a recent New York Time’s article.
As Bolt and Gay prepare to potentially face each other in what would be a global showdown for the ages, there’s no doubting Owens will be on everyone’s minds in Berlin. Bolt, he said, is going to use that for some inspiration:
“It’s going to be big because Jesse Owens made history here. I’m going to come here and try to do the same, try to make great things happen.”
|08.15.09 at 7:11 am ET|
By DAN ROWINSKI
CHESTNUT HILL — Life is getting interesting for the football mavens over on Chestnut Hill. A new regime has begun as Frank Spaziani takes the reins of the Boston College squad after the Jeff Jagodzinski dismissal and the team looks forward to another campaign. Yet, nothing is settled in the Land Of The Eagle, especially at the most important position on the field; quarterback.
The Eagles are still trying to find the successor to Matt Ryan, who now plies his wares professionally in Atlanta, and the most experienced incumbent, Dominique Davis, has transferred after being suspended for academic reasons. That leaves four young men (well, one not so young) for Spaziani to work out and choose before the season opener against Northeastern on September 5th.
“We have a very cloudy picture at quarterback and we feel we are at the best position we can be at this point,” Spaziani said. “We have a few young men competing and we hope to get this thing sorted out relatively soon.”
The most interesting story of this group is Dave Shinskie, coming back to school at age 25 after playing seven seasons of minor league baseball, but he will also battle redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle, son of five-time Pro Bowler Jessie Tuggle, junior Codi Boek and true freshman Michael Marscovetra.
|08.15.09 at 6:58 am ET|
Five things we learned on the first day of the Frank Spaziani Era at Boston College:
SPAZIANI IS A MASTER MOTIVATOR
Just listening to him talk at Boston College’s media day on Friday will convince anyone of that. Now, he’ll need every bit of his inspirational skills to keep BC in the mix of the Atlantic Coast Conference and among the elite BCS programs.
He moves up to head coach after 10 years as a defensive coordinator and inherits a program that has no quarterback with starting experience at Division I. His team’s emotional leader is out for the year battling cancer. Another star linebacker is out for now, trying to hurry back from an Achilles tendon injury.
But don’t think Spaziani isn’t excited for his first college head coaching job at the age of 62.
“I’m real excited,” he said on Friday at Chestnut Hill. “Can’t you tell? It is very exciting. It’s invigorating, it really is. It’s a new job, new experience. It’s a lot of energy, a lot of energy. It’s like anything, writing a new story or covering something different, you’re energized by it.
“My personality is what it is. There’s obviously different timeframes with the players. By that I mean there’s just being with the defense more and more intimate as you are as a head coach. A lot of stuff has to be delegated but I think they’ll get my message,” he added.
All of this came after accepting the job in less than ideal conditions. It was on Jan. 12 that he officially replaced Jeff Jagodzinski, who was ‘allowed’ to pursue other employment opportunities when he interviewed for the Jets head coaching job.
But none of that kept the Eagles from their first full practice in pads on Friday as they point toward Sept. 5 and a date with Northeastern at Alumni Stadium.
“There are going to be problems with any job,” Spaziani said. “No one needs to feel sorry for us. What I inherited? What I inherited was a great job at a great university with great people and great players.
“Now, do we have our work cut out for us? Yes. Do we have a plan? Yes. Is the future bright? Yes. So, there’s a lot of positive things. Sometimes you have to manage the expectations. The problems are always there. Winning minimizes the problems. Losing magnifies them but the problems are ALWAYS there and we have to manage them and we’ll do the best we can.
“We expect to compete every week and we expect every Friday night when we go to bed before the game wake up expecting to win, simple. And we expect to be as good as we possibly can be,” he said.
ALL EYES ON ARE THE QB (POSITION)
In early June, 25-year-old Dave Shinskie, fresh from being released by the Minnesota Twins, announced he was coming to Boston College to compete for the starting QB job. He played at Mount Carmel High in Pennsylvania. He will compete with Codi Boek and Jesse Tuggle’s son Justin.
Dominique Davis, the only other returning quarterback was dismissed from the team because of academic reasons earlier this year.
Others likely to get snaps here and there are Billy Flutie and true freshman Michael Marscorvetra.
“Obviously, the quarterback is an important part of a football team,” Spaziani said. “It’s like pitchers in baseball, when you’ve got good pitching, the whole team looks well. We have a very cloudy picture at quarterback. We feel that we are in the best position we can be in at this point.
“We have four young men competing and we hope to get this thing sorted out relatively soon because that’s what we need to do. As we’ve told the players, you’re evaluated on everything you do in this program, everything you do. We’re evaluating them, formulating opinions. You have to go out there and toe the rubber and see what happens.”
It’s hard to believe this program is just two years removed from Matt Ryan.
“Just common sense would say because of our inexperience there, we’re going to have to manage the team and have a guy manage what we want,” Spaziani said. “I’ve got some great offensive coaches and we’re going to do what we can handle. I don’t think I ever coached asking kids to do stuff they can’t do. The more they can handle, the more they’ll do.
“I’ve seen a mature 25-year-old that’s been out on the field and is taking his responsibility seriously and is doing the best he can.”
THE EAGLES WITH BE MOTIVATED BY BEING PICKED FOURTH IN THE ATLANTIC DIVISION OF THE ACC
“It’s kind of early,” Spaziani said. “We haven’t really done football. We’ve been teaching and some guys have surprised me by how much they’ve learned. We’ll see some surprises early on.
“I’ve always differed with the ‘overachieving’ (label). I don’t think anybody ever does more than they’re capable of doing. We have people that are capable of winning football games and it’s our job to get them to that point where they can win them. Prognosticating is for other people. We have to prepare ourselves to get ready to do the job.
“You guys look at the depth chart and you look at who we’ve lost, who we have coming in, where we’re at and make assessments. Our guys see the same thing but we expect a little bit different. Our guys understand where they are, why they’re there. They have a clear picture of where they have to go and we have to plan how to get there. It’s now up to us to implement it and then to do it. Ultimately, it comes down to the players doing it and taking ownership of their team and they can accomplish whatever they want,” he said.
YOU SHOULD GET TO KNOW MONTEL HARRIS
The tailback could be the most important player on the team. If the sophomore can improve upon his freshman-record 900 yards rushing from last season, that will go a long way to taking the pressure of Shinskie or whomever is calling the signals. One huge advantage will be the offensive line he is running behind, which has five players returning including NFL prospects Matt Tennant, the center, and left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
“Obviously, it would help a lot,” Spaziani said. “Whenever you have to replace some area on the team, someone steps in and replaces that. Whether they’re 100 percent of the production that you used to have, or they’re 120 percent of the production or they’re 80 percent and if it’s below that percentage, then other people have to produce. I would expect Montel to, because he’s young, be a better player than he was last year and whatever percentage is will help offset whatever we’ve lost or whatever we need at other positions.”
MARK HERZLICH AND MIKE MCLAUGHLIN WILL INSPIRE FROM THE SIDELINES
The inside of the media guide is an open letter from Herzlich about his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a malignant cancer of the soft tissue or bone and how his passion of football remains even in the light of the battle of his life.
“I just talked with him a couple of days ago. (Def. coordinator) Billy McGovern talks to him daily,” Spaziani said. “I call Mark once a week. He’s getting his treatment and it’s going well. I guess they’re waiting for this segment of it to be completed to re-evaluate what the next step is. I believe he told me he’s planning on being back here September 2nd, the sooner, the better for all of us.”
One of the best linebackers in the nation at the time of diagnosis, Herzlich is receiving treatment and is aiming for a return in 2010.
“It’s only got to be positive,” added the coach. “Exactly what it is, that’s hard to say. Just having him around, his confidence and encouraging guys is all part of the leadership we miss and we need.”
Meanwhile, another linebacker Mike McLaughlin is facing another battle, though certainly not life-threatening. BC’s second-leading tackler last season is recovering from a torn Achilles this spring and is hopeful to return in the first four-to-six weeks of the season.
“He’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing and he’s where he’s supposed to be,” Spaziani said. “It’s a matter of him tolerating certain things and that will dictate when he gets back on the field and we’re all hoping that’s sooner than later. Because of our injury situation at linebacker, I would expect somebody, some younger person, to emerge over there. Now, what impact they’re going to have, I don’t know. But just because of the bodies over there, maybe defensive line.
“I think this is a nice group. They’re physically a nice group. Physically, they’re all there. Right now, it’s mental. It’s how you handle a lot of stuff.”
|08.14.09 at 11:08 am ET|
Music has a way of finding its way into sports. Whether it’s the techno that’s played following a goal in the NHL, the chorus of “ole, ole, ole, ole” sung by passionate soccer (or Canadiens) fans, or the crazy guy with the kazoo at Fenway, sport and song go hand-in-hand. The song for today? I’m thinking Vince Gill’s “One More Last Chance.”
With Michael Vick set to return to the field for the first time since 2006– and everyone talking about it– it’s the only logical choice.
After dogfighting charges in 2007 landed him behind bars and in home confinement for 23 months, Vick has signed a $1.6 million deal with the Eagles that at the very least will bring plenty of attention to Lincoln Financial Field. Tony Dungy says he’s a changed person, but is he really? More importantly, does it matter?
Earlier this morning, Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid sat at a podium with Vick and Dungy as the two legendary coaches discussed the reform that the scrambling quarterback has faced. As Dungy says that Vick wants to “be a role model for young kids,” how can one not shake their head? I’m not talking about writing off Vick’s quest to be a better person– everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of how many dogs they’ve neglected/killed– but is signing an NFL contract about being a good person?
This isn’t to say that the NFL is a league of criminals. Roger Goodell– love him or hate him– has done a fantastic job of flexing the league’s muscle on those who take advantage of their celebrity, but isn’t the game about what you do on the field? Philadelphia must have thought so if they were willing to take on the media storm that surrounds the acquisition.
Apparently the Eagles weren’t the only team that were interested in bringing in the ’01 top pick. The Bengals (shocker) were also willing to turn a blind eye to his criminal past and give Vick the second chance he had been looking for.
How have these things worked out in the past? The Cowboys famously brought in Adam “Pac Man” Jones via trade in April of ’08 and were burned when it turned out that he had more of a rap sheet than was initially thought. End result? Snip, snip. Last season, the Cowboys also took chance on defensive tackle Tank Johnson, of DUI/weapons/you-name-it fame. Johnson has since signed with the Bengals, a safe-haven for NFL wrong-doers. Now for a run-down on Cincinnati’s history with law-breaking players.
The Benga– ah, forget it. I’m pretty sure they’re in contact with the creators of 24 to find the guy who played Habib Marwan just so they can be that more dangerous.
In his introductory press conference, Vick said that prison helped him reach a turning point in his ways. Whether you want to believe that or not, it’s hell of a lot better than when Vick spoke in ’07 about the sacrifices he was prepared to make regarding the company he keeps.
“If I’ve got to be fishing or playing golf every day to keep myself away from everybody else, that’s what I’m gonna be doing,” Vick said.
Poor guy. At the very least Vick is displaying what could at least be interpreted as remorse.
It would be naive to think that nobody– whether it be PETA, angry Falcons fans, etc.– will criticize this move. However, now that Vick’s in Philadelphia, he has the support of at least 52 people. As far as Atlanta goes, those who invested money on No. 7 jerseys are licking their chops as they wait for Dec. 6.
What will the future hold for Vick? Will he make contributions as a receiver/back? Will the Eagles exercise pick up his option for a second season? Will he end up falling into old patterns and be the next Adam Jones? The questions are flying, and Vick has given the most important answer.
“You only get one shot at a second chance.”
So let’s operate under the assumption that Vick is just a football player. The man has paid his price, filed for bankruptcy, and wants to start anew. He may not be able to be a quarterback, but let’s at least give him the opportunity to be a professional.
|08.13.09 at 2:10 pm ET|
The scene at Cambridge’s St. Peter’s Field this past Monday could have very easily been confused for that of Ray Kinsella’s Iowa farm turned baseball Valhalla.
As WEEI’s Big Show listeners have heard on many a “Last Call,” Boston Herald columnist and frequent guest Steve Buckley has been promoting for months, the 16th annual Oldtime Baseball Game will take place on Thursday night in Cambridge. The game has been a summer baseball tradition in Cambridge since its inception in 1994.
That summer 15 years ago, Major League Baseball was mired in a work stoppage that even cancelled World Series. As enthusiasm for the professional variety of the game was waning, Buckley unintentionally got the ball rolling on what has become a local late-summer tradition.
As a host of a show on WEEI, Buckley very hastily suggested that he and his listeners have their own game to outweigh the negative effects of the strike. Little did he know that such a comment would strike a chord with so many in New England.
People called the show and pledge donations to take to the field. Paul Ryder of the Cambridge Park and Recreation even donated the use of St. Peter’s Field, which set the stage for baseball to played during the 1994 strike.
However, there needed to be a charitable cause to help fuel the game. The first charitable cause was to help pay for college scholarships for the children of Cambridge postal worker Eddie Fitzmaurice. Fitzmaurice was killed in a motor vehicle accident. The game’s proeceeds helped start a scholarship fund for the late postal worker’s two children.
This year’s charitable cause for the game is Hospitality Homes. The organization provides temporary housing for patients and families undergoing medical care in the Boston area.
The game’s charitable partner changes each summer. The Oldtime Game’s players, including former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni, believe the charity tie-in gives the game some extra incentive for good play.
“Seeing as though it’s for a good cause, it’s not life or death and it’s not the big leagues,” Merloni said. “But the pressure is still there because you don’t want to be the guy kicking balls and striking out.”
In addition to the charitable donations of the monetary variety, many local citizens and companies, like Royal White Laundry, donate their time and services. It clearly takes a village to raise the annual game.
“Everyone sees it as something that’s parochial, provencial, and local,” said Buckley. “This is all people who love baseball.”
Merloni isn’t the only local luminary to lace up the spikes for this year’s contest, as Massachusetts State Senator Anthony Galluccio is also playing in the game. Like Merloni, this is Galluccio’s second consecutive appearance.
Aside from the charitable aspects of the contest, Senator Galluccio is playing in this year’s game to settle a small score with Cambridge native Bobby Fournier that dates back to last year.
“I had come back from vacation and I found out that he was going around the city saying that he was going to strike me out,” the Senator said. “I didn’t realize he had made this prediction, so it upped the ante a lot.”
Last year’s one at-bat showdown saw Senator Galluccio make contact on the first pitch he saw from the Salem State hurler. However, Senator Galluccio grounded out in his only at-bat last year.
Monday’s media day gave the local press a chance to see the players of tomorrow in the uniforms of yesterday. Merloni will be wearing the game’s oldest throwback uniform, representing the 1890 Boston Beaneaters .
Those uniforms made their debut during the 1998 game. According to Buckley, the uniforms were donated by Technical Personnel Services.
According to Buckley, the Beaneaters were an entrant of the Players League, and were the pennant-winning squad in the league’s only year of existence.
What began as a truly organic idea to deviate from the frustrations felt by baseball fans in the greater Boston area during one of professional baseball’s darkest and lowest points in its history, has turned out to become a summer tradition in the city of Cambridge.
If Steve Buckley and friends build it, history (much like that of the national pastime being celebrated at the game) has shown that many people will come.
For more information please visit the Oldtime Baseball Game official website.
|08.13.09 at 10:57 am ET|
Last night, a trio of star pitchers took major league mounds, all of whom bear significance around these parts. Pedro Martinez, Josh Beckett, and Felix Hernandez all looked damn good in the process on a sports night that evoked reminiscing, a shade more faith for this season, and intrigue for what may happen in the future.
Martinez, who won Cy Young awards (and nearly an MVP award) with the Sox in ’99 and ’00, got his Phillies career off to a good start, as he tossed five innings in a win over the Cubs that was all-but assured after an eight-run Phillies fourth made the score 12-1. Working with less-dangerous a repertoire than he had in Montreal and Boston, Martinez struck out five and allowed seven hits on 99 pitches. Not quite up to par with his debut with the Red Sox in ’98, in which he fanned 11 Athletics over seven shutout innings, or with the Mets (12 strikeouts through six), but it sure was pleasing to see No. 45 out there once again.
Though Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer described Martinez as being “spent by the fifth,” the game had much more to offer in terms of both offense and an ejected fan (throwing a beer on someone on a routine fly ball? Bartman made Cubs fans look like losers, but this guy just made them look like a-holes).
Meanwhile, just over an hour before the cameras began flashing on Martinez in Chicago, Josh Beckett continued what at this point is a serious campain for a Cy Young of his own. Facing the Tigers in the third game of a four-game set, Beckett carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and ended up lasting seven. Solo shots from Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames provided the only offense for the Tigers as Becket improved to 14-4 with an ERA of 3.10.
While Wednesday night’s start paled in comparison to the domination displayed on June 3 in Detroit (7.2 IP, 0 ER, 9 SO), Beckett’s consistency since the beginning of May undoubtedly has the attention of the BBWAA. His low ERA (currently fifth-best in the American League) 145 strikeouts (also fifth), and majors-leading victory total stand a good chance at delivering Boston their first Cy Young winner since Martinez.
According to the Neyer/James Cy Young predictor formula, Beckett would indeed take home the distinction should the season end today. He would finish just ahead of Hernandez, who pitched seven shutout innings in a game that the Mariners won in 14 innings.
Is Beckett more deserving than the 12-4 Hernandez, who has tossed more innings (165.1), notched more strikeouts (158), and has a lower ERA (2.72)? It certainly helps that Beckett is pitching for a team that plans on competing when the leaves fall.
In fact, it is impressive that Hernandez has been able to win as many games as he has this season with the Mariners, considering that among AL pitchers who have tossed 100 or more innings, King Felix’ run support average of 6.10 ranks him 34th out of 42.
Even if Hernandez is second to Beckett this year in Cy Young voting, the 23-year-old’s future figures to see him compete for the award on a yearly basis. Might those years come in a Red Sox uniform?
It’s no secret that the Red Sox tried to make a blockbuster deal for Hernandez at the trade deadline, but were rebuffed after basically offering the Mariners their pick of the litter. After the deadline passed, however, Boston GM Theo Epstein spoke of how he felt “groundwork” had been laid for an offseason deal. Is the Hernandez deal the one of which he spoke? If so, it should come as no surprise.
Hernandez, who has been pitching in the majors since the ripe old age of 19, can become a free agent following the 2011 season, at which point he will be just 25 years old. Knowing that he will be able command quite the contract, it would be wise for the Mariners to evaluate their chances of retaining his services long-term. If their chances look bleak, trading him for a young core of future starters might be the right move. The Red Sox are obviously seasoned veterans in such deals, as they were able to get both Martinez and Beckett early on their careers from clubs that could not afford them down the road.
It might be reading too far into things, but with Beckett’s contract set to expire following next season, a deal for Hernandez would secure a young ace to pair with Jon Lester for years to come. Call it getting too excited about a deal that was turned down, call it wishful thinking, but I call it groundwork. That might be all the Sox need to land a stud via trade once again.
|08.12.09 at 12:03 pm ET|
Good Morning New England!
After a frustrating weekend in the Bronx, something needed to liven up the 2009 Boston Red Sox. Last night at Fenway Park, the team might’ve found their source for reinvigoration.
Last night became fight night at Fenway Park as Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello mixing it up after the 20-year-old Tigers righty hit the Sox first baseman during the second inning of last night’s game. In case you somehow missed last night’s slugfest, check it out below.
The stroll down memory lane with regards to Red Sox-related fights is a relatively short one. Last year during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Coco Crisp charged the mound against James Shields.
Crisp threw a haymaker at Shields and missed in the ’08 scrum. This wasn’t the first fight between the Sox and the Rays — just ask Pedro Martinez and Gerald Williams.
Martinez, who also makes his first start for the Phillies tonight, plunked Williams, which caused the then Devil Ray to charge the mound against the lanky righthander.
Aside from Martinez using his glove as both a weapon and a shield, the LEEInks two favorite parts of this brawl comes courtesy of former Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette. In interviews after the brawl, the Duke called Williams a “thug”, and Martinez channeled a little Tom Hanks and reminded us all that there’s no crying in baseball.
The LEEInks can’t help but find some similiarities between last night’s fight and the Alex Rodriguez-Jason Varitek fight on July 24, 2004.
On the fifth anniversary of that fateful game WEEI.com’s own Alex Speier took a look back at that afternoon’s events. Could last night’s brawl be the spark this year’s Sox need to mount a run to the World Series?
Brawling to help bond a team towards a playoff run wasn’t invented in 2004 though, as former Sox manager Dick Williams saw with his 1984 San Diego Padres in a game against the Atlanta Braves . The fight brought 13 ejections on the field and five off of it, and a shirtless Ed Whitson jawing with fans in Atlanta.
Walkoff Walk recounts the 25th anniversary of this fight on their blog today. They also have an embedded link to video of the fras on their site.
Brawling isn’t restricted to the big league version of the Red Sox either. In 2001, Red Sox farmhand Izzy Alcantara goes all Karate Kid on an opposing catcher before charging the mound in a game in Pawtucket.
Red Sox pitchers have been on the recieving end of mound charges as well. Just ask Aaron Sele, as Chicago’s George Bell charged the mound back in 1993.
Thankfully for Sele, Mo Vaughn did his best Andre Tippett impression and tackled Bell who, like Coco Crisp a decade and a half later, missed a haymaker. For more ”base-brawls” including a few mentioned in this space, check out Sportscenter’s top ten list here.
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