|04.17.09 at 3:55 pm ET|
With Henry Louis
WEEI.com’s “Sports, Leadership & Life” page is a new column highlighting sports beyond the statistics and final scores. Its goal is to explore and bring to light the lessons that sports offer us every day. The columns are written by various individuals from the New England area who are leaders in their fields of business, culture, sports, and politics. You get a chance to hear from sports legends such as the Boston Bruins’ Cam Neely, local business owners such as Legal Seafood’s Roger Berkowitz, and celebrities such as Yes Dear’s Mike O’Malley. The page acts as a glance beyond what the flashy sports culture of the primetime might give us every day. It allows us to look thoughtfully at issues such as hard work, perseverance, community building, and teamwork, an issue highlighted in a recent column written by John Jacobs.
John Jacobs, along with his brother Bert, is the founder of the Life Is Good clothing and apparel brand. The smiley faces and feel-good sayings of the company are iconic in the New England area and can be purchased and seen worldwide. John wrote an article highlighting the importance and use of teamwork and community on the “Sports, Leadership & Life” column. He starts the article talking about his personal experiences in Pop Warner football, looking nostalgically at what his past days of childhood football gave him in terms of life values. But quickly after his look at the past, John really begins to write in a way that reflects the essence of the column. Community becomes his main focus in the article, saying that sports give us practice for things such as inter-office teamwork, family based connections, and even just chatting with friends. The article begins to sound like the scene from Hoosiers, where Gene Hackman gives his team that famous motivational speech (yeah, the same one played at the beginning of every Celtics game).
The article is breath of fresh air. It really makes you think of how the people you work with or the friends you associate with are on your team, and how you work together to accomplish all kinds of things. John’s article makes me think of the cliché idea that life is a game, and that everyone around me is on my team.
He goes on to mention how various Boston sports teams have united together in past experiences, such as when the Patriots chose to be introduced as a team in their Super Bowl wins of the recent dynasty.
The necessity for teamwork and community can be applied to this Celtics postseason. With the injury to KG and heart attack suffered by Danny Ainge (we all hope that you have a quick and healthy recovery), the Celtics could benefit from a look at John’s column. John writes that we can’t truly achieve anything alone and the Celtics need to realize that amidst this adversity that they are facing, they need to, now more than ever, come together as a team, on the court, but more importantly, off the court. John’s article gives us a glance at what the WEEI.com “Sports, Leadership & Life” column is all about. The importance of sports beyond the sport itself.
|04.16.09 at 3:49 pm ET|
By Drew Scott
Before John Madden became the butt of an endless number of Frank Caliendo impressions, he was a heck of a head coach in the NFL and at the very least a very entertaining color analyst on seemingly every television network ever created.
Of all the sports broadcasters on television, none has ever utilized the Telestrator more effectively than John Madden. I have seen him use that famous yellow line to show the audience at home how to cut his favorite Thanksgiving meal, Turducken, and there are many examples on YouTube of Madden drawing some fairly inappropriate symbols on the screen. Oh and for those of you unfamiliar with Turducken, according to Wikipedia it is “a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken.”
I’m sure we can all see what John Madden loves so much about it.
In order to truly celebrate the career of this great man, I thought that I should collect some of John Madden’s most inspiring quotes (Thanks to ThinkExist.com):
“Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they’re bigger than everybody else, and that’s what makes them the biggest guys on the field.”
“Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.”
“A team should never practice on a field that is not lined. Your players have to become aware of the field’s boundaries.”
“The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”
For a little more serious take on Madden’s career check out this piece by Peter King.
Ken Murray from the Baltimore Sun discusses how Madden may have overstayed his welcome on television.
And as the producers of Frank TV begin to weep, I leave you with one more impersonation of Mr. Madden:
|04.16.09 at 1:18 pm ET|
By Drew Scott
When the Bulls got pounded by the Toronto Raptors last night 109-98, they assumed that their punishment for such a pathetic performance would be to face last year’s NBA champions instead of the Orlando Magic. However when the residents of Chicago awoke this morning, it seemed like Christmas had come early for Da Bulls. The Boston Celtics may technically be the defending champs, but are they really as scary without their best player on the court?
Doc Rivers discussed Kevin Garnett’s health today on the Dennis & Callahan morning show and said, “If he can’t get through biking and working out without swelling and stiffness and his leg locking up, I don’t see how he can play in the playoffs.” (The transcript for the interview is available here.)
When I read this quote, I envision Kevin Garnett screaming like he does at the end of the Jumbotron video intro that the Celtics came out to all of last year. Missing regular season games is hard enough for KG, but not rejoining his teammates for the playoffs? That must be just unbearable for the big man.
Just in case you weren’t depressed enough already after hearing about the Garnett injury, here are a few more journalists who have written the Celtics’ eulogy before the playoffs have even started.
Lynn Zinser from the Times lets us know why there is “a little less to cheer about in Boston.”
Bruce Jenkins from the San Franciso Chronicle informs us that without Garnett, the Celtics are doomed.
With the Bulls now in the proverbial bull’s-eye, it seemed appropriate to include a Derrick Rose highlight reel.
But surely the Celtics’ weakness won’t be exposed in a series against the Bulls. Right?
|04.14.09 at 2:44 pm ET|
Compiled by Drew Scott
Monday, Major League Baseball lost a man whose voice had been heard over the airwaves of Philadelphia since 1971. Harry Kalas called six no-hitters and every single one of Mike Schmidt’s 548 career home runs. He was inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, and was named Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Year eighteen times.
En route to the playoffs in 1993 and in 2008 Kalas helped to rally the Phillies fans with his rousing rendition of the song “High Hopes.” He also got to see his Fightin’ Phils capture the 2008 World Series as he provided play-by-play when Brad Lidge recorded the final out.
Some of the best players of this generation have come out and described what a great professional and a great human being Harry Kalas was as part of the Phillies family.
The broadcasting world has also been shook by Kalas’ passing, as legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker expresses his sadness.
This whole tragedy should remind us to appreciate and cherish the men and women that bring the game on the diamond to life over the radio and on our television screens. So in honor of Harry Kalas, I will take a look at some of the best active broadcasters in baseball today.
Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers: Scully gets a Doctorate from Pepperdine and speaks at their 2008 commencement:
Bob Uecker, Milwaukee Brewers: Uecker joins Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show:
Jon Miller, San Francisco Giants: The video is ridiculous, but the call is legendary:
Jerry Remy, Red Sox: Any Boston fan who watched the game last week when Remy was sick understands how lucky we are to have him:
|04.13.09 at 7:45 pm ET|
There may never have been a flash-in-the-pan like Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. The Northborough, Mass., native, who was found dead on his farm on Monday as a result of an apparent accident while working on a dump truck, enjoyed a singularly sensational and eccentric burst onto the scene.
The right-hander was named Rookie of the Year in 1976, going 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games as a 21-year-old in 1976. He made an otherwise terrible Tigers team a must-see appointment every time he took the mound, where he engaged in histrionics that one rarely encounters on the field.
He appeared to speak animatedly to the ball (though Fidrych later clarified that he was just talking to himself), jumped over foul lines, threw gum at opponents who scored against him and spoke with an untrained candor that endeared him to the country (and that, according to this Peter Gammons piece in Sports Illustrated, left him facing an endless succession of interview requests). After games, Jerry Green of Sports Illustrated wrote during his 1976 magic carpet ride, Fidrych would drink a milk followed by four beers.
His movement around the field earned him the nickname “The Bird,” which in turn earned him one of the great Sports Illustrated covers of the ’70s. Fidrych was a phenom in the most literal sense. Annie Leibovitz photographed him for a cover of Rolling Stone.
His explosion onto the scene came at the perfect time, Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press wrote back in 2006. But it was just that: an explosion, with nothing sustainable behind it.
Fidrych missed most of the first two months of the 1977 season while recovering from a knee injury, then pitched for fewer than seven weeks before injuring his rotator cuff. At the time, there was no option of Tommy John surgery available, and so Fidrych was left to try to comeback without benefit of the prized right arm that earned him 15 months of fame.
In a way, it made sense that Fidrych would follow a career path unlike any other. There have been 16 pitchers who won 19 or more games in a single season played primarily at the age of 21 or younger. Fidrych, who would go on to win just 10 more games, is the only one without benefit of another double-digit season in his major-league career.
Despite the brevity of his major-league career, his impact on the game was such that he is still remembered as one of the signature players of the 1970s. He was 54.
In this interview from 1985, Fidrych revisits his breath-taking but brief career.
|04.09.09 at 12:46 pm ET|
Compiled by Drew Scott
The Masters kicked off today, with Arnold Palmer hitting a ceremonial drive to start the proceedings. As much drama as their often is at Augusta National, you have to admit some of the advertising spots that ESPN puts together to build the hype are a little ridiculous.
Are you feeling that maybe you are a little bit too excited about the Masters? Well, maybe the theme music will settle you down a little bit … or put you to sleep:
Since we know that you can’t wait until 1:52 PM to watch Tiger tee off. Let’s take a look back at some of his most memorable shots at Augusta:
Somehow even when Tiger breaks a club, his shot still looks better than any ball I’ve ever hit.
The putt, the fist pump, it’s all there as Tiger wins the 2005 Masters.
Apparently Tiger helped the grounds crew at Augusta deal with a small gopher problem … well, sort of.
(Which reminds me, I think any golf-related blog post should be required to have a link to Bill Murray’s “Cinderella story” scene from “Caddyshack.”)
This doesn’t really constitute a great shot, but I do think it is effective in making anyone who plays golf realize how far off their game is from Tiger’s.
Words cannot describe this shot. When the ball sits at the lip of the hole, it almost looks like the Earth starts spinning a little faster so that Tiger can earn himself a green jacket.
|03.31.09 at 1:55 pm ET|
Compiled by Drew Scott
I was somewhat surprised to hear that Billy Gillespie had been let go by the Kentucky Wildcats, especially after I took a look at the riveting PSA that he put together for the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety:
But let’s be serious here — Gillespie is by no means the most interesting character in the soap opera that is unfolding in Lexington. It just so happens that the man who made basketball relevant again at the University of Massachusetts by taking the school to the Final Four in 1996 is apparently on the verge of taking one of the most high profile jobs in college basketball. Just in case you forgot how “committed” John Calipari was to the academic well being and success of his students, feel free to watch this nauseating video from his time at Memphis:
Is this the same Coach Calipari, whose basketball squad was stripped of that Final Four banner after Marcus Camby admitted to taking cash, clothes, and prostitutes from sports agents?
Wait, was Calipari talking about how much he stresses academics at Memphis? That’s interesting, because in 1994 The Boston Globe released a story that showed seven players on that UMass team were on academic probation.
To Coach Cal’s credit, during his tenure with Memphis he has actually had a better graduation rate over the last six years at 55 percent than the University of Kentucky has had at 38 percent. Still, during his time with the Tigers, Calipari has recruited a number of questionable players, including Sean Banks who was later arrested for using a cigarette to imprint a gang sign on a woman’s leg.
For more information on some Calipari’s questionable recruiting techniques and demeanor check out this article by Andrew Wolfson from the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Calipari just needs to understand that the spotlight shines brightly in Lexington. If the boosters, alumni, and student body start breathing down your neck, that dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare. Just ask Billy Gillespie.
As long as Coach Cal realizes that what works in Memphis and Amherst, doesn’t fly at Kentucky, he might be just the guy for the job. But I have this strange feeling that he is going to wish he stayed in Tennessee.
Top Coach Tirades of All Time (In no particular order)
So let’s start up the list of the best coach tirades with one that involves the aforementioned Calipari, John Chaney actually hated the man so much that he had a burning desire to kill him during this press conference:
Bobby Knight obviously needs a few spots on this list…So I will start with the prerequisite chair throwing incident and move on from there:
Bobby can actually see the future when looking through a “cheap piece of crystal” at a press conference:
Jim Calhoun was apparently a little disappointed that he didn’t get Ryan Gomes to play for UConn. He also enjoys dropping F Bombs. So if your in the mood for a curse-filled tirade click here. (Extremely NSFW)
And if you haven’t seen it enough times already on ESPN, feel free to watch Calhoun offer his “best advice” to reporter Ken Krayeske:
Coach Roy Williams just really wants journalists to start being nicer people:
And of course the granddaddy of them all, Dennis Green when he was coaching for… oh, wait. Dennis Green never coached college basketball. I think we can all look past that minor fact so we can watch one of the best freakouts in sports history:
|03.25.09 at 10:44 am ET|
Curt Schilling has let his words do his talking … until now!
|03.24.09 at 1:45 pm ET|
Compiled by Drew Scott
When Curt Schilling first arrived to play for the Sox, he was featured in a Dunkin’ Donuts where he put on a fake Boston accent, saying, “Play wicked hahd when I go to the pahk.” It is funny to think that ad could truly describe Curt Schilling’s career, but his relentless work ethic and preparation were two things that set him apart from the rest.
Here is Buster Olney discussing Schilling’s legacy:
And here are Peter Gammons thoughts:
With both men in agreement Curt deserves a spot in Cooperstown let’s take a look at Schilling’s career resume: 20 MLB Seasons with 5 teams (BAL, HOU, PHI, ARI, BOS); 216 career wins (80th all time); career ERA of 3.46; 3,116 K’s (15th all time); six-time all star selection (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004); three-time World Series Champion (2001, 2004, 2007); 2001 World Series MVP, and a postseason record of 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA.
What the baseball writers are saying:
Alex Speier on WEEI.com reminds us of the trade that brought Schill here.
If you need your fill of Schilling stats’ check out Gary Marbry’s post on the Nuggetpalooza blog on WEEI.com.
When Tom Verducci was asked whether or not Curt was the best postseason pitcher of all time, he had this to say: “You know, it’s hard to define the absolute best. Christy Mathewson was pretty darn good. But I would just go by his generation. I would pick him and John Smoltz as the best big-game pitchers of this generation.” Check out the rest of the article here.
In regards to Schilling’s Hall of Fame candidacy, Rob Neyer from ESPN writes, “I’m fairly sure there’s a rational argument to be made against Schilling. But I’m still waiting to see it.” To read the rest of his thoughts click here.
And this kid thinks that Curt should get in, and he is also very concerned about him having a good life after baseball:
Oh, and you didn’t think I could possibly resist posting something on the bloody sock, did you?
Regardless of whether or not Schilling makes it into the Hall he was a joy to watch and was an integral part of two Red Sox World Series Championships. He may have been outspoken and opinionated, but when he took the ball every fifth day you knew that you were going to get one of the most prepared pitchers in the game. Oh and if you happened to be facing him in the postseason as an opposing player, you might as well have just not shown up at the ballpark. Thanks for 20 great seasons, Curt.
|03.17.09 at 1:44 pm ET|
Before the season began, Boston College was picked to finish second to last in the ACC. Even the most confident BC fans were skeptical that the Eagles would be able to compete with the conference powerhouse teams like UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest. As the regular season drew to a close, with the Eagles losing a tightly contested one-point game to the Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament, most of those early season questions seemed to be answered.
Not only were the Eagles able to compete with the upper echelon teams in the ACC, but they went to Chapel Hill and stunned then No. 1 North Carolina in their first conference game. Then, on Feb. 15, they defeated the Blue Devils at Conte Forum 80-74. Even with those quality wins, this has been an Eagles’ team that at times has led fans to scratch their heads. In the early going they lost to the Billikens of St. Louis and they followed up that UNC win by losing at home by 12 to Harvard.
The one constant for the Eagles has been Tyrese Rice, who has averaged over 17 points and 5 assists per game. Joe Trapani and Rakim Sanders have shown at times that they can provide that second or third scoring option, but both will need to show more consistency if BC wants to have a shot of moving out of the first round and heading deeper into the tournament.
On Friday, BC will be facing a USC Trojans team that is picking up steam as they head into the NCAA tournament. They have won their last six in a row, with many of those wins coming against the top teams in the Pac-10. En route to winning the conference tournament they defeated California, UCLA, and Arizona St. on consecutive nights.
Freshman forward, DeMar DeRozan has been impressive of late, scoring 17 points or more in each of the last 3 conference tournament games. Junior forward, Taj Gibson has also posted impressive numbers throughout the season, averaging close to a double-double at around 14 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Now I realize that the stats are all well and good, but at the end of the day come tournament time only one question really matters: Who is moving on to the next round?
The answer is Boston College. Despite their inconsistency, the one thing that BC has shown throughout the course of this season is that they have no trouble getting up for the big games, and it doesn’t get any bigger than the NCAA tournament. Coach Al Skinner is 5-1 in the first round of the tournament, and Rice will easily be the best player on the court. Keep in mind that this is the same Tyrese Rice that almost single handedly beat the Tar Heels last year when he put up 46 points. Given the momentum that the Trojans built up in the Pac-10 tournament they certainly look like an attractive pick, but at the end of the day the Eagles will be the team moving on to the second round.
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