|03.19.10 at 7:22 am ET|
Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
How are your brackets looking? Hope you didn’t put your faith in the Big East, as the nation’s best conference had a disastrous day Thursday in a memorable opening to the NCAA tournament.
Mike Miller of NBCSports’ Beyond the Arc blog has a recap of the Big East nightmare, which included upset losses by third-seeded Georgetown (to 14th-seeded Ohio), sixth-seeded Notre Dame (to 11th-seeded Old Dominion) and sixth-seeded Marquette (to 11th-seeded Washington). And No. 2 seed Villanova had to rally for an overtime win over 15th-seeded Robert Morris, a win that was aided by some questionable calls.
Four more Big East teams are in action today: No. 1 seed Syracuse, No. 2 seed West Virginia, No. 3 seed Pitt and No. 8 seed Louisville.
BASEBALL: Alex Speier looks at Kevin Youkilis’ inability to be recognized as one of the league’s top players. There were positive reports coming out of Arizona after Ryan Westmoreland’s brain surgery.
A day after acknowledging he failed a drug test for cocaine last year, Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted he used marijuana and amphetamines while he was a player.
FOOTBALL: Cris Price looks at the Patriots’ new tight end acquisition, Alge Crumpler. D.J. Bean profiles Penn State’s Jared Odrick. Scot McCloughan may or may not still be the general manager of the 49ers.
BASKETBALL: Jessica Camerato looks at Brian Scalabrine’s contributions to the team and his uncertain future. The Magic blew a big lead but beat the Heat in overtime. Carmelo Anthony lifted the Nuggets over the Hornets.
Thursday was perhaps the most memorable opening day in NCAA tournament history. Click here for recaps on all the upsets and great finishes.
The Thrashers gained ground on the Bruins by beating the Senators. The Hurricanes beat the Capitals in overtime. Paul Kariya scored his 400th goal in the Blues’ win over the Rangers. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton will be out about eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski was suspended eight games for delivering a hit to the head area of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
MISC.: Tiger Woods’ latest embarrassment came when a porn star released sexually explicit text messages purportedly from the golfer.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 19, 2003, which Bruins coach was fired by general manager Mike O’Connell, who took over on an interim basis?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s my job. I know my job. So it was addressed immediately and then it was out of the way.” — Shawn Thornton, on his fight with Penguins villain Matt Cooke Thursday night
STAT OF THE DAY: 42 — Years since the Penguins shut out the Bruins in Boston, before Thursday night’s 3-0 decision
‘NET RESULTS: Injured Hornets guard Chris Paul has a little time on his hands, apparently.
Skip to the 1:20 mark for a Valparaiso-like 3-pointer to win this NAIA Division 2 national semifinal.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Robbie Ftorek
SOOTHING SOUNDS: Clarence “Frogman” Henry is 73 today.
|03.19.10 at 6:05 am ET|
After ranting and raving throughout the first day of the NCAA tournament, WEEI.com columnist Kirk Minihane is doing it all again Friday. Come join the fun at high noon. (Click here to see all the hijinks from Thursday afternoon’s March Madness.)
|03.18.10 at 10:14 am ET|
Join WEEI.com columnist Kirk Minihane as he live-blogs the first wave of NCAA tournament games. The fun begins at high noon.
|03.18.10 at 6:58 am ET|
Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
The divisiveness in the U.S. House of Representatives continued this week, with Republicans refusing to OK a resolution suggested by a Maryland Democrat to congratulate the University of Maryland basketball team for a great season that earned the Terps a spot in the NCAA tournament.
The Republicans had two legitimate points: 1) There are 65 teams in the NCAA tournament, so why should they recognize only one? 2) The Terps have a graduation rate of 8 percent, lowest of all the teams in the tournament.
This is what the politicians in Washington were arguing about this week. Just in case you were wondering.
BASEBALL: John Lackey had another good outing for the Red Sox. Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted using cocaine last year. Mariners lefty Cliff Lee was suspended five regular-season games for a spring training beanball. The Nationals cut outfielder Elijah Dukes.
FOOTBALL: D.J. Bean has another mock draft. Tim Tebow debuted his new throwing motion at Florida’s pro day. NFL owners will vote next week on a new format for overtime in playoff games. The Cardinals signed former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson. The Dolphins signed offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
Florida coach Urban Meyer is back from his leave of absence.
BASKETBALL: The Celtics beat the Knicks. Paul Flannery has the Three-Pointer analysis. The Cavaliers clinched the Central Division title. The Magic crushed the Spurs. Chris Bosh hit a late jumper to lift the Raptors over the Hawks. The Clippers upended the Bucks. Aaron Brooks was 7-for-7 on 3-pointers in the Rockets’ win over the Grizzlies. The NBA Board of Governors approved Michael Jordan as owner of the Bobcats.
HOCKEY: The Bruins host the Penguins, and Matt Cooke should get a warm reception at the Garden. The Devils completed a season sweep of the Pens. The Ducks beat the Blackhawks, who lost another player to a rough hit. Rene Bourque lifted the Flames over the Avalanche.
GOLF: Tiger Woods update.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 18, 1953, National League owners unanimously approved the relocation of the Boston Braves to Milwaukee. Who is the only player to have played for the Braves while they were based in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, where they moved after the 1965 season?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I made a huge mistake and it almost caused me to lose everything I have worked for all of my life. I am not here to make excuses. There are none.” — Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, on testing positive for cocaine last season
STAT OF THE DAY: 96 — Points by the Celtics reserves in the last two games (35 Thursday night vs. the Knicks)
‘NET RESULTS: Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash is back with another video.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Eddie Mathews
SOOTHING SOUNDS: Charlie Pride is 72 today.
|03.17.10 at 8:34 pm ET|
March Madness starts Thursday, and for New Englanders there has been some pretty good action right here at home. This year the drama will unfold in Providence, with eight teams looking to make some noise in the NCAAs.
Villanova and Robert Morris will get things kicked off, with Richmond and St. Mary’s finishing off the afternoon play. In the night session, Georgetown and Ohio meet, and Tennessee takes on San Diego State to end a long day of first-round action.
But will the games live up to the Madness hype this year? New England has seen some wild and crazy games in recent years, and here is a look at some of the more memorable games played in the area.
Villanova vs. Pittsburgh, 2009
Everyone knew this game would be a heavyweight battle between two of the top teams in the Big East. The Big East has become maybe the toughest and most dominating conference in all of the land, and these two teams were playing some great basketball heading into the Elite Eight.
The bright lights of the TD Garden were shining down on DeJuan Blair and the rest of the star-studded No. 1 seed Panthers, but it was Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds who stole the show.
Pitt’s Levance Fields nailed two big free throws to tie the score with 5.5 seconds remaining. The Wildcats initially had some trouble inbounding the ball, but Reynolds took a shovel pass and bolted up the court. His contested runner in the lane dropped with next to no time left on the clock, vaulting Villanova into the Final Four and crushing the Panthers’ dreams of a title.
Reynolds decided to stay for his senior year, and he finds himself back in New England for another go around this season. Does he still have some magic left in the tank to get the struggling Wildcats through another New England bracket? We’ll find out in a few days.
Syracuse vs. Vermont, 2005
The Orangemen were playing some inspired basketball heading into the tournament and were a sneaky pick to make the Final Four after their win in the Big East Tournament. Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara were going to prove that they could win an NCAA title without Carmelo Anthony. But a funny thing happened on the way to the title.
The 13th-seeded Vermont Catamounts took them out in the first round at the DCU Center in Worcester. This game went into overtime, and Catamounts guard T.J. Sorrentine just went off. Remember this sequence in the OT?
The fans clearly were behind the New England team in this one, as they shouted chants of “U-V-M,” and the Cuse had to feel like it was playing a legit away game. This goes down as one of the bigger first-round upsets in the history of the tournament, and what do you know … the two teams match up again in the first round of this year’s tourney. Luckily for Syracuse, the Catamounts aren’t playing in New England and Sorrentine isn’t around to drop treys from all over the court.
NC State vs. UConn, 2005
This wasn’t as startling as the Jimmy Valvano upset, but the 10th-seeded Wolfpack knocked out the defending champion and No. 2 seed Huskies at the DCU Center in 2005. The Wolfpack didn’t want to the Catamounts to be the only spoilers in Worcester that year.
Julius Hodge, who helped the Wolfpack make a run to the semifinals in the ACC tournament, kept the good times rolling with a last-second shot to stun the Huskies. UConn tied things up at 62 with only 15.8 seconds remaining in the game and Hodge went to work.
Just how did he put that one in? He was hit by not one, but two defenders on the play and somehow had enough strength to get the bucket up and in. Hodge drained the freebie to finish off the and-one, and the Huskies could not tie it up.
There must have been some upset magic in the DCU Center that year, because two Big East teams, who had aspirations of making it far in the tourney, were knocked out by lesser opponents. That’s March Madness for you.
|03.17.10 at 11:30 am ET|
PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf, which will take place on the sport’s biggest stage: Augusta National. Woods will make his return to golf on Thursday, April 8, in an event that Faxon believes will be “all-time hoopla for golf.”
Faxon said he is surprised that Tiger will not play another tournament before the Masters. “Going into play a major for the first time in however many months is going to be tough,” Faxon said. “But Tiger has been great at controlling his environment forever, and if you are going to play in any PGA tournament, this is the best place to go.”
Faxon also speculated on what the time off might do to Tiger’s game. “Do I think he’ll play great? I don’t know, but he has been a guy that has always liked to show how strong he is mentally and how good he is at the game,” he said. “I am sure he is spending every waking minute of his life right now saying, ‘I can put these people in their place and show them that I can still win.’ ”
Faxon added that he is not sure if Tiger will be in contention come Sunday because the pressure on him will be tremendous. However, according to Faxon the first round will be Tiger’s most difficult test. “I think that first tee shot for him, that is going to be the hardest moment for him,” he said. “If he gets to the point where he is playing on Sunday and he is a couple of shots off the lead and he is playing with Phil [Mickelson] or Vijay [Singh], that will be the easier part for him.”
To listen to the interview, click here. A full transcript is below.
Are you surprised that Tiger is going to try to hit the ground running at Augusta?
I really am. It made sense to me that he could play a little tournament at Isleworth, stay at home and get some of the cobwebs out, play at [Arnold Palmer's] tournament where he won last year and just get loosened up. Because going into play a major for the first time in however many months is going to be tough. But Tiger has been great at controlling his environment forever and if you are going to play in any PGA tournament, this is the best place to go. I am sure he is going to want to be able to not answer the questions he is going to have to answer.
Why is he playing the Masters?
Well, I think there are a couple of theories. We all know he wants to win majors. He has probably given himself time to practice and get where he feels comfortable. And I’m sure he has his little reasons. Like, we know when he goes to the Masters, all the tabloid media won’t be there; they are not going to get inside the gates to ask him about his private life, and he is not going to answer those questions anyway. But I think it will be a more controlled crowd at Augusta. You won’t hear the heckling, and if someone says something wrong, the Masters has the ability to take those people off the premises right away.
And I think if you look at his history of what has been going on, he might be mad — as silly as this may sound — he might be mad at an article or interview at NBC and thought that, “You know what? I might just not show up at a tournament for NBC.” Because I heard that theory from the NBC guys. They were kind of worried that the “Today” show did an article that could have got him upset so he decided just to start at a CBS tournament.
This is certainly going to be a circus-like atmosphere. Don’t you think there could be some kind of incident at Augusta?
Absolutely. The Masters is certainly the most difficult place for this to happen. If you remember years ago where Ray Floyd won the Masters, that was the first time you heard anybody yell, “You the man” at the 15th tee. You’re not going to stop someone who has had a few beers or playing to a coup because you don’t know who it is going to be. Our great friend Jim McCabe, who was a longtime Globe writer and now is at Golf Week magazine, sent me a text the other day wondering if Tiger could actually stay in one of the cabins at Augusta. Because somebody is going to find out where he is staying for the week, and I don’t know how you guard that unless you are in a gated community. And I’ve never heard about a player staying on campus except for the amateurs who stay up top, and we call that the Crow’s Nest.
Sean McManus has already said that CBS is not going to cover his personal life. But what is to keep CBS from showing some bimbo who comes out and plants a kiss on his cheek on the 18th green? Because I think something like that is going to happen.
I do too, Gerry, and I just hope it is not John. Last week, Dan Hicks said when they did their first telecast after all the transgressions, after his statement, they covered the Chevron World Championship, which is Tiger’s tournament in California. And they were told by NBC brass upstairs that, “This is not going to be anything we are going to talk about. We are just going to talk about the injury he had during the car accident, and then it is just going to be about golf.” So NBC golf did the right thing and just talked about golf that week. I think that is what CBS is going to do. They are going to talk about him just playing. They will have to say, “Coming back from any kind of break is tough, let alone to a Masters.” Everybody is going to speculate whether he can play well after this much time off. We have seen him play well after time off. I just think everybody at the Masters — on the one hand they are elated that he is coming back and they will get so much press, not that they are going to need it, but on the other hand they are looking at how they are going to prevent anything like that happening.
This would be like Albert Pujols taking 2-3 weeks of batting practice and infield drills and then jumping into a playoff game. It is different when you play competitively than hitting balls for three or four weeks.
Well, Tiger has won four Masters anyway. I think this is way more difficult, giving all the circumstances — time away, coverage. Nobody else would ever think to do something like this. So I don’t know really what to expect. Do I think he’ll play great? I don’t know, but he has been a guy that has always liked to show how strong he is mentally and how good he is at the game. I am sure he is spending every waking minute of his life right now saying, “I can put these people in their place and show them that I can still win.” It can happen, and I will tell you that I wouldn’t be the most surprised person in the world. I would be surprised, but it is just going to be so unbelievably interesting to watch.
You expect him to make the cut, right?
And do you expect him to be in contention on Sunday?
Well, it is hard to say that. You can’t simulate the on-course pressure, that tournament pressure, back home and you will never see the conditions you will see at Augusta anywhere else. You will never find greens that have the speed and the slope these have anywhere else. And I am sure he will make a trip up there or two, either with friends or with Steve Williams, his caddy. He will make sure he is prepared, because even the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice rounds, that is kind of open to the public. There are more people there on those days and less screening of who they are.
Won’t there be hecklers at the par 3?
Yeah, but he won’t play the par 3.
If he were to go there and play a round with a few friends today, would he play better than he would on Sunday paired with Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh?
I think the pressure he is going to face is going to be more on the first day. If he gets to the point where he is in contention on Sunday then he has already passed the test of getting through the gate, looking at the media, talking to the media, seeing his fellow competitors … I think that first tee shot for him, that is going to be the hardest moment for him. If he gets to the point where he is playing on Sunday and he is a couple of shots off the lead and he is playing with Phil or Vijay, that will be the easier part for him. I think it is the first few days, seeing his friends from the tour and he will have to go do a media press conference. That is required out of almost all the top players. That will be something to see.
Will you be more interested in that press conference or the first round?
I would much rather see that first round. See his first few shots to see what he is working on in his game with Hank [Haney] right now and whether it holds up under Masters pressure, because you know there is tournament pressure, there is majors pressure and for someone like Tiger there is Masters pressure. It is hard to describe.
Do guys like Tiger rent a house down there?
Well, there are a few beautiful areas down there at Augusta and about 80 to 90 percent of the players are renting houses. A lot of the players use the same homes over and over again. There are a few, but not many, gated communities. He will have to stay in a place that is contained. There is no way he is staying at a hotel, that’s for sure.
Do you think Tiger’s impenetrable armor shows some chinks on that first tee? Do you think there will be some fear there?
Absolutely. I don’t know if it is fear from that first tee shot and whether it can find the fairway or not, but obviously he is human and he is going to be very self-conscious of what happened. I’m sure he feels terrible about all this stuff, but he is going to want to get out and get inside the ropes. Every player, when they talk about the troubles they are going through they want to get inside the ropes.
Do you think he is kind of sticking to Arnold Palmer here? Do you think it would have reflected well to other golfers if he played at Bay Hill?
I would think so. Arnold would be the No. 1 guy any PGA tour player — and I put Jack [Nicklaus] right next to him — but if this guy called and you see Arnold’s name on your cell, you answer it on the first ring and you say, “Yes, Mr. Palmer.” I’m sure he has had conversations with Arnold about his reasons why. You know, the Tavistock Cup, which is a Monday and Tuesday of Bay Hill, is a two-club tournament at Isleworth and Lake Nona where a lot of players live. They have this tournament between the two clubs and the owner Joe Lewis is a great friend of Tiger, so he’s had to have the same conversation with Joe and Arnold about his reasons.
How does the tournament committee decide who his playing partners are?
Can you image the feelings his playing partners are going to have? I listened to Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry last night and they said they would love to play with him and they welcome him back with open arms. This is good for the game of golf, that Tiger’s coming back. This first pairing — and it is threesomes now, the Masters used to be twosomes — it is going to have a huge affect on things. And if you remember the way the Masters does their pairings, a lot of times the past champions are paired with amateurs. Tiger has played with an amateur quite a bit the last few years, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets an amateur and if he is also paired with a good friend of his.
Well, a guy like Stricker who is friendly with and who he has enjoyed playing with at Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups.
Just from a historical standpoint, so you could have a front row seat, wouldn’t you see some value in being in that pairing on Thursday morning?
Absolutely. That would be something you can talk about forever. There will be a lot of TV sets on that Thursday afternoon while people are at work, hoping they can witness what is going on. And I am sure they will find a way to get some cameras on him walking out of the locker room and on the range. It is going to be all-time hoopla for golf, for sure.
|03.17.10 at 6:35 am ET|
Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
Apparently giving in to the firestorm of criticism since Matt Cooke’s hit knocked out Bruins forward Marc Savard but did not lead to any punishment, the NHL is trying to get a rule barring blindside hits to the head passed before the end of this season.
The league’s general managers met last week and discussed adding the rule for next season, but now they are trying to fast-track it.
“It’s a process that has never been done before in the season,” NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell told the Toronto Globe and Mail in a story published online early Wednesday. “But this is so important an issue that if we can possibly avoid just one concussion, we should do this.”
BASEBALL: Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland had brain surgery, and his teammates talked about the anxiousness of the situation. Alex Speier takes a look at pitching prospect Felix Doubront. John Smoltz will become an analyst on TV, although he said he isn’t officially retired. Former Yankee Chuck Knoblauch pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault on his common-law wife.
Jerry Thornton addresses the criticism from his column on stat geeks last week.
BASKETBALL: Kirk Minihane writes about Rasheed Wallace’s “lost season” with the Celtics. The Suns scored 152 points in a win over the Timberwolves. LeBron James had a triple double in the Cavaliers’ win over the Pistons.
HOCKEY: The Bruins beat the Hurricanes. Mike Petraglia has the analysis. Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell will miss 7-8 weeks with a broken collarbone and a fractured rib. Meanwhile, Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, whose hit led to Campbell’s injury, expressed disappointment with his two-game suspension.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 17, 1968, the Bruins scored thee goals in the final three minutes of the game to beat Montreal, 3-1, and clinch their first playoff berth in nine years, starting an impressive steak of playoff appearances. The B’s went on to quality for the playoffs how many years in row?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.” — Tiger Woods, who will return to action at The Masters
STAT OF THE DAY: 22 — Bruins forward Mark Recchi’s rank on the NHL’s career goal-scoring list after he tied Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur with his 560th tally in Tuesday night’s win over the Hurricanes
‘NET RESULTS: Backflip basketball shot. The degree of difficulty on this is off the charts.
TRIVIA ANSWER: 29
SOOTHING SOUNDS: John Sebastian, former lead singer of the Lovin’ Spoonful, is 66 today.
|03.16.10 at 4:23 pm ET|
It didn’t take very long — three months and five days to be exact — but Tiger Woods is finally back.
On March 15, the troubled superstar formally announced that he will be making his return to the game of golf during this years’ Masters tournament, held April 8-11. It’s an announcement that was anticipated by some, expected by most, but no doubt heard by all.
And that’s because for the greater part of the past three months, the news wire has been filled with Tiger’s name. It all started on that fateful night when he was pulled from his 2009 Cadillac SUV after striking a fire hydrant, and it only got worse from then on.
All sorts of accusations stemmed from the crash — many proven to be true, but all lending a hand in Tiger’s fall from grace. Now, after being linked sexually with as many as 20 women, Woods has seen his legacy become tarnished, his image shattered and his life changed forever.
But he’s back. He’s back where he belongs.
In less than one month’s time, Tiger Woods will be back on the green, a place where only he can set himself right — where only he can make things better. It may not help his legacy. It might not even help repair his public image. But for himself — for Tiger Woods — it might make all the difference in the world.
As for the rest of the sporting world, triumphant returns are nothing new. From Lance Armstrong to Michael Jordan, and even slightly less star-struck figures such as Jon Lester, stepping away from sports sometimes is a necessity.
Because sometimes — for whatever reasons, some less ideal than others — sports has to take a back seat to reality. It is, after all, simply the toy store of life. A place where that reality sits on the sidelines and everything else takes over. Read the rest of this entry »
|03.16.10 at 5:56 am ET|
Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.
The man who shot nude videos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was sentenced Monday to 2-1/2 years in prison and received no sympathy from his victim. Michael David Barrett, a 48-year-old Illinois insurance executive who pleaded guilty in December to interstate stalking, made a tearful apology prior to the sentencing, but Andrews wasn’t buying it.
“You violated me and you violated all women,” Andrews told Barrett. “You are a sexual predator, a sexual deviant and they should lock you up.” Andrews urged the judge at the hearing for a harsher sentence and said she fears for her life every time she enters a hotel. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real said he gave Barrett the maximum sentence under the law.
Ryan Howard did not respond kindly to an ESPN report that the Phillies considered trying to trade their star slugger to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols. Mariners lefty Cliff Lee was ejected for throwing at Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder. The Dodgers sent reliever Eric Gagne to the minors.
The Giants won the NFL’s coin flip to open the new Giants Stadium, but the Jets aren’t happy with the process.
Fired University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt is suing the school.
BASKETBALL: The Celtics beat the Pistons. Paul Flannery has the Three-Pointer of Things We Learned. The Lakers edged the Warriors. The Rockets beat the Nuggets on an Aaron Brooks jumper with 2.9 seconds left. The Jazz routed the Wizards. Shaquille O’Neal rejoined the Cavaliers after resting his surgically repaired thumb at home.
Suspended Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said he deserved to be punished for bringing guns to the locker room.
Kirk Minihane has a look at the NCAA tournament. The chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee defended the picks. The mother of Murray State reserve guard Picasso Simmons was killed in a car crash Monday, as the team prepared to leave for the NCAA tournament. Iowa fired coach Todd Lickliter. Charlotte fired Bobby Lutz. UConn coach Jim Calhoun said he is not retiring.
The women’s bracket was released Monday night, with UConn leading the way.
MISC.: David Beckham is expected to miss about six months with a torn Achilles tendon.
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 16, 1960, the Red Sox traded this catcher to the Cleveland Indians, but he chose to retire instead, as he had just started a new business venture in Boston. Who is he?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “There’s nothing I can do right now. He just fell and this happens.” — Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, after being suspended two games for his hit on Chicago’s Brian Campbell
STAT OF THE DAY: 15 — Points for new Celtic Michael Finley in Monday’s win over the Pistons
‘NET RESULTS: High school star Trey Starks finishes an alley-oop by jumping over the head of a player 7 inches taller.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Sammy White, who owned a bowling alley in Brighton
SOOTHING SOUNDS: Jerry Jeff Walker is 68 today.
|03.15.10 at 3:44 pm ET|
All was quiet on the Red Sox front this spring, but the injury bug has crept into Fort Myers over the past week. News of Jed Lowrie’s accelerated heartbeat and other ailments have sent some scares into the Red Sox brass for the future of this ball club.
But what about the here and now? What about Daisuke Matsuzaka? Supposedly, he was in the best shape of his career heading into spring training, but since he’s been in camp the only thing talked about is a bad back, stiff neck or inability to throw a bullpen session. Matsuzaka said he wanted to pitch until he was 40 years old, but Red Sox Nation would take 40 pitches from a mound to a catcher in a full squat out of the $100 million man.
The goal of spring training is to get ready for the long, grueling monster that is the MLB regular season. So any manager will tell you that getting through healthy, especially getting the important pieces through healthy, is goal numero uno.
But the injury bug takes no prisoners and does not care if the Red Sox have hopes of hoisting another World Series trophy in October. Here are a few cases where some players couldn’t get out of the spring to help the Sox win the whole thing. (Note: We may have to take a trip in the way back machine.)
In 2001 there were two constants on the Red Sox: Pedro Martinez on the mound and Garciaparra at the plate. Everyone will remember the Sports Illustrated cover of Nomar with his shirt off and everyone will remember the SI cover jinx because Nomar was a non-factor in the 2001 season.
Garciaparra showed up to camp raring to go after hitting .372 and .357 in the previous two seasons, but a split tendon in his wrist cooled any thought of him continuing his torrid pace through the AL.
Newly acquired Manny Ramirez and Garciaparra were supposed to provide the 1-2 punch that would finally break that wicked curse — that shall not be named — but Garciaparra had surgery on the wrist, which some could say ultimately led to his decline in Boston.
Garciaparra only appeared in 21 games that season, batting .289 and never allowing Sox fans to see what he and Manny could accomplish. The star shortstop would only last 2-1/2 more seasons at Fenway before being shipped out of town in 2004.
You know the history. Red Sox win. Garciaparra never really gets the ring in Boston and, until he retired as a Red Sox last week, may have had one of the saddest endings for a superstar in this city’s history.
This year’s Red Sox spring training is a drama-free zone, but this wasn’t the case in 1991 when Boggs reportedly fell out of a moving vehicle driven by his wife.
According to reports, Boggs was in the passenger seat and he told police that he “fell” out of the truck after the couple was leaving a restaurant. Apparently Boggs didn’t have the child safety locks on in the car that night.
Boggs did not suffer any major injuries during the “falling out,” but imagine if he got hurt and missed significant time. If Dan Duquette were GM, he’d probably have had Boggs followed if he was getting gas or going to the store to buy cowboy boots.
But for a chunk of Red Sox fans, this may have been forgotten. All Boggs did that season was hit .332 with an OBP of .421, and he rocked an awesome mustache. Lesson to all you troublemakers on the Red Sox. Hit or pitch well, all is forgotten.
On March 1, 1954, the injury bug even hit Williams. The man survived wars, but while diving for a ball he separated his shoulder and broke his collarbone during the first day of spring training.
This just proves the injury bug has no conscience. The man was a war hero, was the greatest hitter of all time and did noble work to help start the Jimmy Fund. And this is whom the injury bug went after.
The Splendid Splinter missed some time that season, but when he came back he hit, batting .345 in 117 games. However, the Red Sox did not win the World Series, as if you didn’t already know that.
While not a star like the players listed above, Eshelman suffered a freak accident during spring training in 1996. According to reports, the Red Sox pitcher burned both of his hands while trying to put out a fire in his spring training hotel room. Eshelman later said the fire was started by a candle his wife lit in the bathroom.
Eshelman’s right hand, his non-pitching hand, was hurt the most in the strange accident, so that can’t really explain his career path. The left-hander only lasted three seasons in the big leagues, all with the Red Sox, posting a 7.08 ERA the year he suffered the second-degree burns.
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