|06.24.09 at 1:46 pm ET|
Welcome back to the LEEInks for a look at the Hockey Hall of Fame class. Yesterday, the Toronto shrine announced that Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, and Lou Lamoriello will be inducted next fall.
This is a star-studded class to say the very least, and New England hockey fans couldn’t be more pleased to see Leetch, a New England favorite, make it to the Hall of Fame. The stalwart defenseman played his final season with the Bruins, and played one season of college hockey at Boston College in 1986-87.
Leetch is one of only five defensemen to tally a 100-point season. In 1991-92, Leetch notched a whopping 80 assists for the Rangers en route to a 102-point campaign.
Leetch also holds the distinction of being the only American and first non-Canadian-born player to win the Conn Smythe trophy in 1994. That year the Blue Shirts ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought.
Robitaille was a standout forward for the Kings, Penguins, Rangers, and Red Wings. Robitaille, didn’t get as much publicity as another Kings teammate, but Lucky Luc finished his careeer with 1,394 points, most for any left wing.
Robitaille’s name even became a part of a title for a song by Swedish rock band Mando Diao. At last check, the Great One has yet to be mentioned by the Scandinavian Indie-rock scene. (Take that, Gretzky!)
Yzerman wore the captain’s “C” for an NHL record two decades in Detroit. Stevie Y became captain at the tender age of 21, an age when his playoff beard was no doubt entirely unimpressive.
However, Yzerman was involved in one of the uglier fan moments at the old Boston Garden. The stoic Red Wings captain was punched in the eye at the Garden, and WEEI’s own John Dennis told Boston about it in this 1980′s clip from Channel 7.
Brett Hull will likely be remembered by hockey fans for this goal, but it certainly should be the 741 he potted throughout a stellar 19-year career.
Hull and his father Bobby, will be the first ever father-son pair to be inducted in Toronto. Certainly an achievement for a sport that starts with fathers and sons on a mini-mite level.
Finally, Rhode Island’s Lou Lamoriello, the architect of the New Jersey Devils’ Stanley Cup teams of the last 20 years, will be going into the Hall’s Builder’s category. As Athletic Director at Providence College, Lamoriello even hired this guy to be his basketball coach for the Friars.
Could be worse, he could’ve fired Jack Adams Award winner Claude Julien midway through a season, and replaced him with himself. Oh, wait a minute…
Despite any past mistakes these five men may have had during their careers, they’ve certainly deserved their inductions. Congrats to the star-studded class of 2009!
|06.23.09 at 3:48 pm ET|
If you didn’t get a chance to see the historic Wimbledon final of 2008, you really missed something special. Any sports fan that watched this terrific match where young phenom Rafael Nadal defeated defending 5-time consecutive champion Roger Federer was instantly captivated by not only the class that both players showed, but also the level of which their play was at.
With the tournament starting up again this week, let’s put in perspective how great last year’s final really was.
The 4-hour 48-minute epic battle is considered by many to be the best tennis match ever. The match had everything that a tennis fan could ask for: scintillating tennis, dramatic twists and turns, and sportsmanship on and off the court.
Former world number one player and now commentator, John McEnroe, offered his words about the final, saying that indeed it was the best ever.
But I would even go as far as to say it was the greatest sporting event to take place in the past year.
Since the match, we have seen other tightly contested finals in the NFL, NHL, and Champions League. But none of them could match how great the intensity that every point brought.
Throughout the whole match, this kind of intensity was shown at all times by both players. The drive that both of them had to win was incredible and they completely sacrificed their bodies for every point, every ball, in order to be crowned a champion.
They were hampered by darkness, rain delays, fatigue, and emotions. The match was also historic because those rain delays will never be seen again at Wimbledon. This year, the club will unveil a new retractable roof that has been build over Centre Court so that no matter the conditions, matches can still continue during rain or shine.
Nadal had been on record saying that Wimbledon was his number one goal and he would do anything to win just once at the All England Club. It took him what seemed like forever but he finally captured victory.
Just last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins captured the Stanley Cup Final by defeating the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit in game seven of the series. Many fans, including myself, believe that a game seven in the Cup Finals is one of the best moments that sports can ever produce. But that entire series still pales in comparison to what was witnessed that day at Wimbledon.
The match’s score in itself just shows how tightly contested the match was. A true five setter, the final was: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7.
In the cup finals, games were decided in regulation and the players, while still giving their all, did not have to experience any rain delays or tough conditions. Towards the end of the match, it was getting so dark that both players had a tough time seeing the ball, but neither player wanted to stop the match. They just kept playing and playing.
Another sporting event that reminds me of last year’s final was during the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament this year when Syracuse outlasted UConn in an outstanding six overtimes. But the difference between the two is that neither Syracuse or UConn went on to win the tournament. The game itself was fantastic but in the end it didn’t count for that much.
This match marked the end of Federer’s 5-year run as Wimbledon champion and also can be looked at as a turning point in his career. Nadal went on to claim the number one ranking soon after and in many fans eyes, became the best player in the world when he won that match. Neither Syracuse or UConn could say that they were the best this year, as that title clearly belonged to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
However in light of recent events at the 2009 French Open, the storyline going into Wimbledon this year is a bit different. After winning the French for four consecutive years from 2005-2008, this year proved to be different for Nadal, as he was upended in the fourth round by Robin Soderling. This paved the way for Federer to take down Soderling in the finals and win his first ever French Open title, completing the coveted career grand slam. A title that many believed he would never capture with Rafa standing in his way.
Greg Garber of ESPN.com also looked into reliving last year’s match in his latest column, shown here.
So the stage is set for this year’s tournament. But before it starts, take a look at this video for a sample of what transpired last year, and why nothing may ever top that superb match.
|06.23.09 at 11:06 am ET|
Welcome to a noon edition of the LEEInks! Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the newest Red Sox opponent, the hapless Washington Nationals.
The Nationals come into Tuesday’s game with a worst-in-baseball 20-46 record. The team has basically taken up residence in the NL East basement since the team’s inception.
In recent months, the team has become the subject of some fairly famous quotes. Last fall, presidential “hopeful” Ralph Nader even poked fun at the Nationals expense.
When Nader was told that the Washington Post wasn’t covering his campaign because he simply can’t win, Nader then asked the reporter, “Why do you cover the Washington Nationals?” You know it’s bad when Ralph Nader takes a potshot at you.
The Nationals are also the subject of arguably the greatest quote in the history of words. The quote comes from old friend and part-time lawn bowler, Julian Tavarez.
“Why did I sign with the Nationals? When you go to a club at 4 in the morning, and you’re just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J. Lo. And to me this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It’s 4 in the morning. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me.”
This team has even had a notable “wardrobe malfunction.” Not exactly Janet Jackson, but still embarassing.
The Nationals boast a roster with some familiar names on it, including old friend Josh Bard behind the plate. The Nats also feature standout third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (who had a 30-hitting streak snapped earlier in the year), and home run/strikeout machine Adam Dunn.
However, as much as this team can’t seem to get anything right on the field, they’ve found a way to get one small entertainment-related thing right. Like, Milwaukee’s sausage races at Miller Park, the Nationals have American presidents race around the warning track.
Finally, two summers ago, the Nationals were part of one of baseball’s most historic, yet ultimately controversial, moments when pitcher Mike Bacsik threw this pitch in San Francisco.
With all of that said, please welcome your Washington Nationals. Or maybe today it’s the Washington “Natinals.”
You simply never know with this team.
|06.22.09 at 2:58 pm ET|
“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The Grateful Dead lyric is certainly apropos when talking about Manny Ramirez and his antics. This week, the big Manny Ramirez news has been his impending minor league rehab stint at Triple-A Albuquerque, which starts Tuesday night.
Looking at the Isotopes roster, there are a handful of players with major-league credentials, most notably outfielder Jason Repko, infielder Blake DeWitt, and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. Isotopes fans certainly should be used to having a bona fide major league talent right in their midst.
Isotopes fans are overflowing with excitement. Albuquerque Journal columnist Rick Wright isn’t so excited for Manny’s arrival to Isotopes Park.
However, in an effort to combat all of the drama surrounding Manny’s minor-league stint, Los Angeles Times blogger Jon Weisman makes the case that Ramirez needs and even deserves this minor league stint. This isn’t a special case, as Weisman points out that another former Red Sox player found to have used PED’s, J.C. Romero, also had a short minor-league rehab before making his return to the Phillies.
While Ramirez’ first stop in the minors occurred without incident (other than his extraordinary accomplishments on the field), according to Madison Taylor, his most recent trip to the minors was a memorable one. This is Manny’s first return to the wonderful world of minor league baseball since a 2002 rehab stint in Pawtucket. That four-game rehab stint was infamously known for Manny losing a $15,000 earring while sliding headfirst into third base. According to accounts of the incident – including this compendium of infamous Manny Moments on boston.com – PawSox players and the Syracuse ground’s crew spent ample time after the game looking for the jewelry in question, to no avail. Nonetheless, Ramirez seemed unbothered by the lost bling: in fact, he showed every sign of wanting to stay in Pawtucket beyond a seemingly interminable 11-game stint.
For a complete look at Manny’s minor and major league stats, check this out.
Manny’s rehab stint begins tomorrow as he dons Isotopes red before wearing Dodger Blue on July 3. Let’s all just hope he doesn’t lose more expensive jewelery while he’s down in Triple-A this time.
|06.19.09 at 3:56 pm ET|
Friday night at Fenway will be a duel between two seemingly lackluster Japanese pitchers, as the Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka faces off against fellow countryman Kenshin Kawakami.
The Braves’ 33-year-old rookie pitcher, who signed a three-year deal in January, hasn’t pitched quite as well as was anticipated at the beginning of the season (he was sporting a 3-6 record with a 4.54 ERA and 54 strikeouts coming into Friday night’s game). But the former Chunichi Dragon is well known as a crafty veteran with a slow curveball, a sharp cutter, and a pretty decent fastball.
Throughout his illustrious 10-year career in Japan, Kawakami established himself as one of the country’s most dominant pitchers and, above all else, a true leader with a desire to win. In 1998, Kawakami was named Nippon Professional Baseball’s Rookie of the Year after going 14-6 with a 2.57 ERA, and only a year later led the Dragons to the Central League title. He was named league MVP in 2004 after going 17-7 with a 3.32 ERA, and also received the Eiji Sawamura Award as Japan’s best pitcher.
Though it took all of nine years and several failed attempts, Kawakami finally helped lead the 2007 Dragons to their first championship in 53 years, as they beat the Nippon Ham Fighters in five games. Also on the Dragons’ roster was current Chicago Cubs star centerfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
Finally in 2009, Kawakami made the jump to the MLB and has since been pitching for Atlanta. While his record may not indicate so, Kawakami has been a pretty reliable starter for the Braves this season. Since May 5, he has not given up more than 3 earned runs in a start, and has averaged a 3.51 ERA in the months of May and June. On May 22 in a game against Toronto, Kawakami outdueled Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay in an eight-inning effort that resulted in a 1-0 Braves win. Tonight we’ll see if he can do it again against his slumping Japanese counterpart, whose decline from last season has been drastic.
In seven starts this season, Matsuzaka has a 1-4 record with a bloated 7.55 ERA.
|06.19.09 at 11:21 am ET|
Good afternoon and welcome to the Friday afternoon LEEInks! Today, the LEEInks makes a special stop to LeLacheur Park in the All-American City of Lowell,
Tonight, the Spinners get their season off and running when the face off with the Vermont Lake Monsters for a three-game set. Yeiper Castillo gets the ball for Lowell in a 7:05 start time.
One of the biggest attractions to minor league baseball is game-night promotions. Keeping with traditon, this season, the Spinners have some awesome ones lined up for this year.
For starters, the Spinners have procured one of the most famous vehicles in cartoon history to be parked outside of the stadium. That’s right, LeLacheur Park will have the Mystery Machine parked outside its doors.
Also, The Spinners will have former Red Sox thirdbaseman and Hall-Of-Famer Wade Boggs will be making an appearance at the ballpark as guest bartender. Boggs will be slinging his favorite brew, Miller Lite at the park.
The Spinners have had an illustrious history of promotions in the past. Who can forget “Mike” Lowell night?
Just check out the third baseman in a “Mike” Lowell Spinners jersey. Not a bad look, eh?
However, the most famous Spinners promotion in recent years has to be Yankees Elimination. So famous in fact, SI’s Steve Rushin wrote about it in a 2006 issue of the magazine.
For a list of the family-friendly fare offered by the Spinners this season consult the Spinners Promotions site here. Hope to see you this summer at LeLacheur Park for a sweet summer of promotions!
|06.18.09 at 10:38 am ET|
Bobby Orr’s guest appearance in the Green Monster was a great moment for Sox fans, but it meant more to Jason Bay.
Think the Sox gave the fellow Canadian and lifelong hockey fan this surprise (which was ruined by J.D. Drew, as Mike Petraglia documents) because they were in a sentimental mood? Or might it just have had something to do with the fact that the left fielder is having a career year in what could be his last in Boston? Given past negotiation tactics, I’m betting everything I’ve got on the latter.
After all, this wouldn’t be the first time the Sox used Orr to get a player to put the pen to the paper. Think back to the winter of 2003, when the Theo Epstein was pulling out all the stops to sign reigning AL Fireman of the Year and puckhead Keith Foulke. What was the selling point for No. 29? A telephone call from No. 4 (and $20.25 million, but what’s money got to do with it?).
The Boston sports scene has seen how deals can be made or broken by just one person. Here are a few more examples.
Power of one: Ray Allen
Remember that whole “Kevin Garnett probably won’t get traded because the Lakers aren’t offering enough and KG doesn’t want to go to Boston” thing? That all changed on June 28, 2007. As everyone knows, the Celtics got hosed in the lottery and elected to flip the fifth pick, along with Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West, for Ray Allen and a second-round pick on draft night. At the time it was a confusing move– nobody quite knew if a team based around Pierce, Allen, and Al Jefferson was good enough to win the East. But the deal proved to pave the way for Kevin Garnett, who embraced the trade to Boston and promptly signed an extension.
(For what it’s worth, the second-rounder the Green acquired in the deal was used to take some tub out of LSU named Glen Davis. Tommy point.)
Power of one: Theo Epstein
The Phillies or Yankees, huh? Schilling was singing a different tune when the second-year GM did the unthinkable by spending Thanksgiving with the ace in an effort to get him to come to Boston. One day later, the hurler was loading up on Dunkins and learning a knew dialect.
Power of one: Curt Schilling
This one goes to Schilling on a technicality. Theo was behind the ploy to act like the Sox were all over Carl Pavano in an attempt to get the Bombers to overpay for him, but it was a meeting with Schilling that ultimately led to the $39.95 million deal from New York. There’s no way the Red Sox could have expected him to be as catastrophic (and unhealthy) as he was in his four years as a Yankee (9-8, 5.00 ERA in just 26 starts, missed entire 2006 season), but the bottom line is that the Red Sox never offered him a contract despite making every effort to be seen with the guy.
Power of one: Curt Schilling
Yeah, No. 38 is a popular one on this list. Apparently he wasn’t so popular with former teammate Randy Johnson when the Red Sox were vying for his services at the All-Star break in 2004. Rumors began circulating that Johnson was annoyed by Schilling when the lefty made a comment about changing his phone number after Schilling’s trade to Boston. In the end it wasn’t a huge get for the Yankees and no, John Kruk, Johnson didn’t have a 30-win season in the Bronx.
Boston isn’t the only town that sees a player’s decision being affected by just one person [see: Roger Clemens (Andy Pettitte), Paul Kariya (Teemu Selanne)]. In an age where ”bromance” is an even more commonly used made-up word than “staycation,” it only makes sense for these guys to be so easily-impacted by one dude. Red Sox fans can only hope that Orr will come up big once again.
|06.17.09 at 9:06 pm ET|
This morning we learned through Kevin Love’s Twitter that Timberwolves head coach Kevin McHale would not be returning. Last weekend Shaq tweeted congratulations to Kobe and Phil Jackson for the Lakers’ Championship win.
It was only a matter of time before the Twitter explosion made its way to the Boston sports scene. Now some of our favorite players, managers and even owners Tweet to keep you busy when you should be working. Let’s take a look at some of the most animated Boston Tweeters in the Boston sports world:
You can always count on the Sox most vocal owner to add his two cents. Just a few weeks ago when the Sox were sweeping the Yanks at Fenway, he got a little too excited with his Tweets, causing a ruckus with Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Henry’s Twitter account revealed a post on June 11 with the words “the MT curse?”, an intimation the Yankees had been cursed since their acquistion of Teixeira — they’ve lost their first eight contests against the Sox this season. When Teixeira was informed of the Tweet, he said he didn’t want to become involved in a war of words with a “seventy-something-year-old-man,” referring to the 59-year-old Henry. Henry’s response the next day, “Hope I didn’t hurt Mark’s feelings!” May the drama continue…
Surprise, surprise — Did you really think Curt would pass up an opportunity to share his thoughts with everyone? This is Curt’s dream come true. The ever vocal Schilling mainly posts about the Sox, his own Fantasy baseball team and his family. Last Saturday he tweeted, “Don’t blink, or you’ll miss Lester rising into the top 3-4 pitchers in baseball in the next 30 days.” You can be sure he’ll have something to say about the recent steroid allegations laid on Sammy Sosa.
Who would have thought the big man had so much to say? Wilfork updates his Twitter almost daily, even while skipping the Patriots’ organized team activities in the beginning of June because of a dispute over his contract situation. He took time to Tweet about the departure of former teammate Rodney Harrison, saying, “rodney is a great guy on and off the field he will be missed.” Wilfork recently posted about his BBQ raffle to raise awareness for diabetes and his early Father’s Day gift to watch the US Open at Bethpage Black this weekend.
Still no Tom Brady Twitter as of yet — that would have been an interesting offseason to follow. But maybe one of his favorite running backs can persuade him to create an account. Maroney Tweeted about his excitement for camp at the end of May, “Just got done wit day 3 of camp…. I got a to keep working hard to get ready for the season.”
After updating his Twitter almost daily during the season about the Celtics playoff run, Kevin Garnett’s health (“Looks KG gonna b out another week or two but have no fear 34 is still here” on March 31) and Ray Allen’s play (“Man what a Game and Jesus Shuttleworth comes thru again” on April 1), Paul’s tweets have slowed up lately, but he unloaded with this gem during the NBA Finals — “Lakers vs orlando. Looked like a german sherperd vs a poodle that’s ok the rotwieler celtics will b back in 2o10.”
|06.17.09 at 10:01 am ET|
Good Wednesday morning to you New England!
Consider this morning’s LEEInks entry, your mid-morning tee time as we’re going to dive right into all things US Open. Tomorrow, our nation’s championship will get underway in Farmingdale, New York on the famed Bethpage Black course.
In recent years, the US Open has become the tournament to watch for golf fans. Last year’s tournament at Torrey Pines has already reached legendary status.
That tournament had everything you could possibly look for in a great sports film. You had the best golfer in the world battling a knee injury and an unheralded “people’s champion” in Rocco Mediate.
That very brief summary doesn’t even include the 18-hole playoff the next morning! Woods and Mediate were still deadlocked after 90 holes, they needed one more hole to play before someone went home with the hardware.
In case you don’t remember the scene, check out Tiger’s birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force the playoff. It certainly was one of the best sports moments of 2008.
This year’s open has as deep of a field as possible. From PGA course professionals to Tiger and Phil, this field is filled to the brim with some of the best golf money can buy.
Far and away the best threesome of the day tees off at 8:06 tomorrow morning on Bethpage Black’s first tee. Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, and Masters champion Angel Cabrera get the ball rolling on this year’s tournament.
Bethpage Black, a public course on Long Island, was the scene of another memorable US Open in 2002. Naturally, Tiger took home the Open.
Newsday has an awesome smattering of US Open material on their website including an interactive look at Bethpage’s layout. You can even find the betting odds on who will win the US Open on the internet as well this morning.
Speaking of which, who aside from the ovious Tiger Woods choice does the LEEInks think will take the cake at Bethpage Black? After his performance on final round sunday at Sawgrass earlier this spring, keep an eye on Henrik Stenson.
I think Stenson will be reliable like another Swedish product, a Volvo.
Hope you enjoy this gorgeous June morning across the region. Stay Classy, New England
|06.16.09 at 4:39 pm ET|
While football purists might believe that a love for the game is all that sustains the players they adore and admire, it’s wishful thinking to assume that money doesn’t play a significant role too. Once you get past the sentimentality – Favre’s emotional retirement speech, T.O.’s tearful defense of Tony Romo, Rudy – it’s safe to say that a considerable element of football revolves around dollars and cents.
Now money may not buy you or me happiness, but it seems in the NFL it can buy a quarterback’s happiness.
Donovan McNabb, the Eagles’ 33-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback, wasn’t too content at the end of last season with his $19 million contract that runs through 2010. So management gave him a raise upwards of $5 million, and all of a sudden their franchise player is all smiles. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning isn’t too displeased either with the $29 million he’ll be making over the next two years (hopefully his MasterCard bills will be set for life).
But one big name quarterback could soon change his typically team-first attitude when he takes a look at what his counterparts are raking in. In a recent edition of “Monday Morning Quarterback,” SI’s Peter King pointed out that New England’s golden boy Tom Brady is set to make $14.5 million over the next two years, far less than both McNabb and Manning, and even less than former Pats backup Matt Cassel, who’ll make nearly $15 million just next year as the second-highest paid NFL QB in 2009 (as of right now, of course). It’s not like Brady to make a fuss about financial issues, but after years of making sacrifices for the team, it’s not farfetched to imagine he’ll want a little compensation. So far, agent Don Yee has kept quiet.
Problem is, the Pats may not necessarily have the luxury of giving Brady a contract extension to match those of his pigskin-tossing colleagues. Following the 2009 season, the team will have 30 free agent players to negotiate with, according to patscap.com. The most notable of the free agents include Richard Seymour, Ben Watson, Stephen Gostkowski, Tedy Bruschi, and Vince Wilfork – who has recently stipulated his desire for a long-term contract extension. Wilfork is likely looking for something in the neighborhood of the five-year $30 million contract Kris Jenkins received from the Jets last February, rather than the Albert Haynesworth approach of a salary increase for 2009 and a guarantee not to slap him with a franchise tag in 2010.
Bill Belichick and the Pats have always been savvy when it comes to financial matters, often promoting team unity by having one player restructure his contract in order to re-sign a teammate. Brady did it for Randy Moss in 2007, but will someone else return the favor in 2009 or beyond? If not, Brady might just finally become mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.
- jeff on Jets RB Mike Goodson arrested on weapons, drug charges
- Franky on Stopped Boston Marathon runners invited back for 2014
- Uncle Buck on Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: ‘Bickering’ Knicks look to regroup for Game 4 against Pacers
- David Stern on Monday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James gets defensive after criticism from Bulls
- Matt on Monday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James gets defensive after criticism from Bulls
- bruinman86 on Friday’s Morning Mashup: Tim Tebow unsure about future
- jimi krystle on Friday’s Morning Mashup: Tim Tebow unsure about future
- Mike on Friday’s Morning Mashup: Tim Tebow unsure about future
- Russ on Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Umpires in Cleveland blow game-tying home run call
- FireGuyFrank on Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Umpires in Cleveland blow game-tying home run call