Archive for October, 2009

Love the Super Fan

Friday, October 30th, 2009

It used to be that Halloween was the one day an adult could put on a costume and walk around in public and not be ridiculed. While that may still be true, more recently Sunday has become a day for adults to play “dress up” as well. From September to February, Sundays, Mondays, and some Thursdays have also become costume days for some people. That’s right, we’re talking football season and those Super Fans who take their passion for their team to the next level. Since Halloween is tomorrow, let’s take a look at some of the more colorful football fans.

Oakland Raiders – Black Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to respect a fan base that dresses in football pads with spikes on them, skulls and black and silver face paint. Their “Black Hole” is infamous and notorious for making opposing kickers miss chip shot field goals. It’s just too bad they don’t have a better team to cheer.

Denver Broncos – Barrel Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have to love this. Quick breakdown: Cowboy hat, check. Megaphone to lead cheers, check. Winter gloves, check. No shirt, check. The mark of a true fan is how few clothes you wear depending on how cold the weather is. The Barrel Man is clearly a true fan. It takes a special commitment to only wear a barrel to a game played a mile above sea level.

Green Bay – Pope of Packerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fan pays attention to the details. First, he has the appropriate vestments for a Roman Catholic pope. Notice the years listed on the stole, years the Packers won a championship. His mitre (pointy hat) has an image of Vince Lombardi. If you worship the Packers, is Lombardi the messiah? One question. Where do you get a “cheese” bra?

Cleveland Browns – Dawg Pound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face paint is a mark of a true fan. A mask is along the same lines. The Dawg Pound is much like the Black Hole in its rowdiness but with less of an effect. Much respect to those who count themselves among the Dawg Pound, but when you cheer for the Browns it’s understandable why they wear masks.

Washington Redskins – The Hogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men in dresses wearing pig snouts. There is not much more to say about it. The origin of the Hogs actually has nothing to do with fans. It refers to their famous offensive line from the early 80s. These days the hogs in the stands seem to be more entertaining than those on the field.

New York Jets – Fireman Ed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He might be the ultimate fan. His costume is simple, a Jets jersey and a Jets-themed firefighter helmet. But his influence is legendary. Fireman Ed, who is actually a fireman, leads the famous Jets cheer “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!” In fact he’s so well known for his role in cheering the team that Coach Rex Ryan recognized his work after the week two win against the Patriots.

Super Fans can often add to the experience of going to a game. It’s interesting that the most memorable super fans cheer for teams that don’t do well, but perhaps when your team is in the cellar, you have to find other ways to entertain yourself. Did we miss a super fan? Let us know!

The Most Influential Man Himself

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Pedro Martinez is like an elephant: he never forgets. All of his greatest achievements and every one of his subtlest mistakes from his illustrious career are etched in the back of his mind clearer than the morning sky. In the days leading up to last night’s 3-1 Game 2 defeat to the Yankees, there is no question that Pedro distinctly remembered all of his triumphs and failures pitching at Yankee Stadium in the past. Although he was tagged with the loss, Pedro showed flashes of his glory days, striking out eight batters in six-plus innings of work allowing six hits and three earned runs.

Many say a pitcher naturally functions with a short-term memory, erasing any negativity lingering from a dismal outing. An ace is groomed to always look on the bright side, set his sights on the start ahead, and carry an optimistic outlook for the future. There is no dwelling on the past, no need to rekindle the discontent.

Yet, Pedro is an exception to that generalization. When Martinez took the podium before Game 1 of the World Series in front of a crowded room of reporters and media personnel, Pedro did not hesitate to refresh everyone’s memory of how the media battered and beleaguered his character, painting him as “the man New York loves to hate.” He showed no reluctance addressing the infamous Don Zimmer incident, nor did he stutter in the least when he denoted himself “the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium.”

Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and even Derek Jeter may have a degree of difficulty agreeing with that. But, hey, as Pedro says, “Go wake up the damn Bambino, maybe I’ll drill him in the [behind]. 

Still, Pedro has certainly left a sizable portion of his legacy permantly embedded in the old Yankee Stadium. His name will forever be engraved in the century-long history of the revered franchise. His memory will be passed along from generation to generation of Yankee fans. And some of his most controversial moments involving the fans, the players, and the coaches of New York will never be forgotten (and maybe never forgiven).

To the gratifying recollection of Boston fans, Pedro’s one-hit, 17-strikeout brilliance on Sept. 10, 1999, against the rivaled Yankees remains one of his finest moments as a member of the Red Sox. Allowing only a solo home run to Chili Davis, Pedro shrugged off the long ball and went on to turn in one of the best starts of his career. That year, Pedro was honored with the second of his three Cy Young Awards, winning the AL Triple Crown in pitching and finishing second in the AL MVP voting. Pedro was at the top of his game. He was arguably the most dominant pitcher of the era and continued to be a menace to the Yankees causing fans to despise his ability to so effortlessly silence the most lethal offense in all of baseball.

Then, in 2003, the tides began to shift. In the 2003 ALCS between the Red Sox and the Yankees, Pedro would be at the epicenter of brawls and the target of criticism. During Game 3, Pedro launched a fastball behind the head of Karim Garcia. From there, Pedro was Public Enemy No. 1. Among the shouts of dissatisfaction from the Yankee bench, Jorge Posada was one of the most vehement protesters, causing Pedro to single out the catcher by pointing to his temple with his right index finger. The Yankees interpreted this gesture as a foreshadowing of a future beaning, but Pedro meant that he would remember Posada’s objections, not necessarily fire a 95-MPH heater at his helmet.

Later in the game, Roger Clemens threw a ball high to Manny Ramirez, who overreacted to a ball that was over the plate and started approaching the mound accusing Clemens of intending to hit him. Benches cleared and the sight that would remain fixed in everyone’s mind was the image of Pedro tossing the 72-year-old Zimmer to the field.

New York would have its revenge. Taking the mound for Game 7, Pedro entered the 8th inning only six outs from securing a trip to the World Series for the Red Sox. Everyone knows the story. On fumes, Pedro was unable to hold a 5-2 lead, sending the game into extra innings, which would eventually end on an Aaron Boone walk-off in the bottom of the eleventh off of Tim Wakefield. Manager Grady Little would lose his job and some wondered if Pedro lost his confidence.

The next year, Pedro finally let out his built-up frustration with the Yankees by calling them his “Daddy” late in the season after back-to-back disappointing outings. Since then, a tirade of banners, shirts, and teases have flooded the stands of Yankee Stadium ridiculing the pitcher that once owned their team for years.

Last night, Pedro made his first appearance at the new Yankee Stadium. In the first six frames, the right-hander held the Yankees to two solo home runs courtesy of Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui before Charlie Manuel pulled a Grady Little and sent out Pedro one inning too long.

Still, upon his departure, Pedro left in high spirits, warmly smiling as he made his way back to the visitor’s dugout in the midst of a few “daddy” chants from the crowd at Yankee Stadium. He made sure to take in all the jeers and the cheers echoing throughout unwelcoming atmosphere. It was a start Pedro will never forget.

Friday’s Morning Mashup

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.

Before we get to the links, here’s a reminder that there will be football (futbol) at Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon, as the Revolution host the Chicago Fire in the opening game of the MLS playoffs. Tickets are still available.

BASEBALL: The Yankees beat Pedro Martinez and the Phillies, 3-1, in Game 2 of the World Series. Dan Guttenplan is impressed by Pedro’s performance but not surprised, as he predicted the stat line quite accurately (at the bottom of his NFL picks Wednesday). Curt Schilling talked to the Big Show about the World Series ad Pedro.

Derek Jeter was given the Roberto Clemente Award for on- and off-field excellence.

After some confusion and a Major League Baseball ruling, the Red Sox retained the rights to Reynaldo Rodriguez, a first baseman they acquired from the Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden Baseball League earlier this month. Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay checked in for a chat on WEEI.com yesterday.

FOOTBALL: Wes Welker has become the ultimate security blanket for the Patriots. Tom Brady was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month.

Green Bay is eagerly awaiting Brett Favre’s return Sunday. Browns fans are preparing a protest for a Nov. 16 game.

In New Orleans, former Patriots fullback Heath Evans is done for the season with a torn right knee ligament, and another former Patriot, Kyle Eckel, has been signed as his replacement. Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu had his season ended during surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. The Titans are switching to Vince Young at quarterback.

Dan Guttenplan presents his Week 8 NFL picks. D.J. Bean has his fantasy football can’t-pass-up matchups.

North Carolina knocked off No. 14 Virginia Tech on a field goal with no time left. Boston College is preparing for Central Michigan and talented quarterback Dan LeFevour.

BASKETBALL: The deadline for the Celtics to sign Rajon Rondo was moved to Monday. Michael Holley debuted his NBA power rankings and put the Lakers ahead of the Celtics. Doc Rivers appeared on Dennis & Callahan yesterday and talked about the Celtics’ early success and Glen Davis‘ woes.

The NBA says it will investigate the allegations made by rogue referee Tim Donaghy.

Kansas is ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason Top 25. Bob Knight will not attend his induction into the Indiana University Hall of Fame.

HOCKEY: The Bruins lost to the Devils, 2-1, on a goal with 1:26 remaining. Joe Haggerty has Three Things We Learned from the loss.

WEEI.com’s latest NHL power rankings are out, and the Bruins land at No. 17.

NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins will miss 2-3 weeks with a strained right shoulder.

HISTORIVIA: On Oct. 30, 1980, the NBA announced its 35th Anniversary All-Time Team. Red Auerbach was named the greatest coach, and three Celtics players were on the 11-man team. Who were the players?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I know they really want to root for me. It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees, that’s all. They love the fact that I compete. I’m a New Yorker, as well. If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here.” ‘€” Pedro Martinez, after pitching six innings in Game 2 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium

STAT OF THE DAY: 14 percent ‘€” The Bruins’ performance on the power play this season (6-for-42)

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED TRANSCRIPT OF THE DAY: On yesterday’s Dennis & Callahan show, Doc Rivers was asked if Wednesday night’s blowout win was useful. He got all political in his response, at least according to our automatically generated transcript:

“Apparently some sort mobile solutions didn’t who didn’t look so much. How little Americans — work or and so. And Obama didn’t want to social work most of the — set out. They’re running out by the principally blue moon did obviously.”

His actual response:

“It’€™s always useful this early in the season. We have a lot of things to work on. They didn’€™t play well, Charlotte, especially in the first half. It’€™s funny, I thought defensively we were really good, obviously.”

‘NET RESULTS: In honor of Halloween, here’s a mummy throwing out the first pitch/body part at a Dodgers game.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and Bill Russell, who was named the greatest player of all-time.

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Otis Williams of the Temptations is 68 today. That’s Otis at the 1:32 mark singing his one line in this song.

Thursday’s Morning Mashup

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.

Portions of disgraced referee Tim Donaghy’s book, “Blowing the Whistle,” have been published on the web, and this makes for some compelling reading. The book has been shelved by the publisher, apparently due to the threat of legal action by the NBA. But Deadspin printed a number of excerpts, including this:

Studying under Dick Bavetta for 13 years was like pursuing a graduate degree in advanced game manipulation. He knew how to marshal the tempo and tone of a game better than any referee in the league, by far. He also knew how to take subtle ‘€” and not so subtle ‘€” cues from the NBA front office and extend a playoff series or, worse yet, change the complexion of that series.

Donaghy accuses Bavetta of routinely making calls against teams that were building leads for the sole purpose of trying to keep games close.

Also:

To have a little fun at the expense of the worst troublemakers, the referees working the game would sometimes make a modest friendly wager amongst themselves: first ref to give one of the bad boys a technical foul wouldn’t have to tip the ball boy that night. … After the opening tip, it was hilarious as the three of us immediately focused our full attention on the intended victim, waiting for something, anything, to justify a technical foul. If the guy so much as looked at one of us and mumbled, we rang him up. Later in the referees’ locker room, we would down a couple of brews, eat some chicken wings, and laugh like hell.

And:

If Kobe Bryant had two fouls in the first or second quarter and went to the bench, one referee would tell the other two, “Kobe’s got two fouls. Let’s make sure that if we call a foul on him, it’s an obvious foul, because otherwise he’s gonna go back to the bench. If he is involved in a play where a foul is called, give the foul to another player.

Donaghy goes on to make specific allegations of biased refereeing ‘€” sometimes for reasons as silly as the officials betting each other to see who could go longest without making a foul call. Any player who ever disagreed with a referee is going to have a field day with this.

BASKETBALL: Even Donaghy would have had a difficult time keeping last night’s game close. The Celtics dominated the Bobcats to the tune of 92-59. Paul Flannery has Three Things We Learned, leading off with Rasheed Wallace fitting in nicely at the start of the season. Mike Petraglia has Charlotte coach Larry Brown admiring the Celtics’ effort. Kevin Garnett left midway through the third quarter after hitting the floor but is fine.

The Cavaliers fell to 0-2 with a loss in Toronto. Tuesday night, TNT had its most-watched opening night ever, thanks to the Celtics-Cavaliers and Lakers-Clippers doubleheader.

BASEBALL: Chase Utley hit two home runs and set a postseason record by reaching base for the 26th consecutive game, and Cliff Lee pitched a complete-game gem to give the Phillies a 6-1 victory over the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series. Alex Rodriguez struck out three times, in case you were wondering. Lou Merloni checks in with his analysis.

Yankees fans can take solace in the news that George Steinbrenner made a rare appearance at Yankee Stadium. And tonight they can vent their frustration by yelling at Phillies Game 2 starter Pedro Martinez, who yesterday talked about the 2003 Don Zimmer incident and his return to the Bronx.

Terry Francona appeared on Dale & Holley yesterday and talked about Brad Mills leaving his side and heading for Houston. Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay checks in for a chat on WEEI.com at noon today.

The McCourt saga in Los Angeles continues to get uglier, with Frank now accusing Jamie of adultery.

FOOTBALL: Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The Chiefs suspended Larry Johnson until Nov. 9.

Boston College players expressed surprise at the decisions by Josh Haden and Justin Tuggle to transfer.

HOCKEY: Patrice Bergeron is emerging as a quiet leader of the Bruins.

HISTORIVIA: On Oct. 29, 1977, this Celtic became the second player in NBA history with 10,000 field goals. Who is he?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that.” ‘€” Pedro Martinez, talking to reporters yesterday in New York

STAT OF THE DAY: 18 ‘€” The most points the Bobcats scored in any quarter last night against the Celtics. Charlotte scored 13 in the first quarter, 18 in the second, 10 in the third and 18 in the fourth for a total of 59, a franchise record for fewest points.

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED TRANSCRIPT OF THE DAY: Here’s a new feature we’re debuting. In WEEI.com’s audio on demand section, we have an automatically generated transcript feature for radio interviews. As it notes, the automated transcript “may not be 100 percent accurate.” In fact, often times it’s way off. But it’s interesting nonetheless.

Yesterday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on Dale & Holley and was asked what kind of manager Brad Mills will be with the Astros. According to the automated transcript, Francona replied:

“The auto mall. I’d don’t want Big East he could not complete recaps coaches don’t. Have a war on that you know you don’t want to be.”

For the record, Francona actually said: “You know, I don’€™t know. I know one thing, he’€™s cheap. He’€™s not going to pay for any cabs for his coaches. You’€™re going to have start working on that.”

‘NET RESULTS: Here’s Pedro Martinez with his good luck charm from the 2004 playoffs, 2-1/2-foot Nelson de la Rosa. The mini Dominican passed away in 2006, so Pedro must have found a new lucky friend considering how well he and the Phillies are doing this postseason.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: John Havlicek, who reached the milestone during a 103-98 loss at Cleveland

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Cedric Maxwell was called “Cornbread” in his younger days, but in his prime with the Celtics we also knew him as the “Rubberband Man.” So, to honor Max, here’s a memorable clip of Lynda Carter, aka Wonder Woman, performing “Rubberband Man” on “The Muppet Show.”

And here’s the real version, by the Spinners.

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.

The Celtics overcame a slow start and roared past the Cavaliers in their opener last night, 95-89. Check out our Green Street blog for bits about the game plus Glen Davis’ fight/injury and Rajon Rondo’s contract talks, which are ongoing.

BASKETBALL: Mike Petraglia has Three Things We Learned from the Celtics’ victory. Paul Flannery notes that the Big Three era previously has been free of distractions such as Davis’ fight. Owner Wyc Grousbeck appeared on The Big Show yesterday and was candid about his disappointment with Big Baby. Rondo and the C’s talked about a new contract but are far apart. The C’s return to action tonight at home against the Bobcats.

The Lakers received their rings and then beat the Clippers. Sacramento’s Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player in the NBA, is set to make his debut tonight.

A Hampton University player was killed in a shooting at a nightclub.

FOOTBALL: Kerry Byrne examines the Patriots season as we head into their bye week. Christopher Price has a piece called Upon Further Review in which he takes another look at Sunday’s game. Price also has his weekly mailbag. Bill Belichick appeared on The Big Show and talked about the London crowd.

D.J. Bean has his fantasy football report, Living With the Bye.

Larry Johnson apologized for his offensive comments, but the Chiefs told the running back to stay away.

Boston College quarterback Justin Tuggle and running back Josh Haden will transfer.

A Connecticut man was charged in the stabbing death of UConn cornerback Jasper Howard. Iowa running back Adam Robinson is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with an ankle injury. Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant remained suspended by the NCAA for lying to investigators about his Deion Sanders meeting.

BASEBALL: The World Series begins tonight in New York, with former Indians teammates Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia facing off. Pedro Martinez will start Game 2 for the Phillies. Dan Guttenplan makes his series predictions.

Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills is the new manager of the Astros. Jamie McCourt fired back at her husband by filing for divorce and asking for reinstatement as Dodgers CEO.

HOCKEY: Bruins forward David Krejci continues to show improvement after a slow start following an injury.

MISC: Andre Agassi has a book coming out, and in it he admits to using crustal meth and lying to tennis officials to avoid a suspension following a failed drug test.

HISTORIVIA: On Oct. 28, 1958, which infielder, in his first year with the Red Sox, was named Comeback Player of the Year after finishing second to Ted Williams for the highest batting average in the American League?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You’€™re not supposed to do that stuff when you’€™re a professional basketball player.” ‘€” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck on Glen Davis‘ fight

STAT OF THE DAY: 11 ‘€” Losing streak in Cleveland the Celtics snapped last night

‘NET RESULTS: With Halloween coming up, maybe this can help get the kids to eat more healthy.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Second baseman Pete Runnels, who his .322 (second in the AL to Ted Williams’ .328) after coming over from the Washington Senators, for whom he hit just .230 in 1957

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Just to show we can keep it (somewhat) current once in a while, Dave Tirio of Plain White T’s is 30 today. Here’s the song he wrote about a Columbia University track star he had a crush on.

And here’s the parody “Hey There, Trent Edwards” for all you Bills fans.

Summer of Celtics

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Much has taken place since May 17th, 2009, including trade talk, contract negotiations and drafts, just to name a few standard offseason activities for the Celtics. However, let’s not forget the not-so-standard offseason activities. With the 2009-10 NBA season kicking off, let’s take a look back at some of the best and worst stories to come out about the Big Green in the last five months.

9. Marbury loses it on the Internet

What started as a 24-hour look into his personal world turned into a summer-long escapade of bizarre behavior over the Internet. Stephon Marbury’s streaming video kept basketball fans entertained, confused, and slightly disturbed during the offseason. After turning down a one-year offer from the Celtics, Marbury professed his greatness in the NBA while eating Vaseline and having emotional breakdowns along the way. In the end, the guard ended up isolating himself and failing to secure a job this season.

8. Celtics draft … who?

Second-round draft picks, let alone the 58th overall selection, are hardly guaranteed to pan out. But the Celtics hope to have found a sleeper in the University of Tennessee-Martin’s Lester Hudson. The relatively unknown combo guard broke on to the college basketball scene when he recorded the first quadruple-double in NCAA history. Hudson had a bumpy road to the NBA and is embracing his opportunity in the pros by playing aggressive basketball. Will he one day join Ryan Gomes and Leon Powe as another one of Danny Ainge’s late-draft sleepers?

7. Leon Powe signs with Cavs

Leon Powe wanted to stay and he was under the impression the feeling was mutual. This summer, however, a blown knee came in between the C’s and the dedicated bench player. The Celtics reportedly told Powe they could not afford to wait for his recovery and declined the option on his contract. In turn, Powe gave his word to the Cavaliers and kept it when the C’s made him a late offer. Instead of jeering Powe for signing with the Celtics rivals, many noted his hard work and felt it was the Celtics, not Powe, who made the wrong decision.

6. Big Baby re-signs (and gets injured)

Glen Davis re-signed with the Celtics in August before a supposed bidding war could begin. In fact, the only real fanfare about the deal was a reported string of tweets from Davis’ twitter account complaining about the lack of progress on his contract. Of course, those turned out to be fake. If that weren’t enough attention for Davis, the recent altercation, which left him with a broken thumb and out of commission for 6 -8 weeks, won’t raise his stock in Waltham, especially in the “no non-sense” system the Cs maintain.

5. Marquis Daniels signs

The addition of Daniels directly benefits Paul Pierce. Not only does Daniels allow Piece to play fewer minutes and therefore be fresher down the stretch, his size also means he can defend or even play small forward. He can effectively fill the a role that was missing when James Posey left. Plus he can rap.

4. Is this Ray Allen’€™s last season with the C’€™s?

That is a sub-question under the larger question of whether or not this is the end for the “Big Three.” While each player is at a different stage in his individual contract, the fact that the players’ collective window for winning championships is closing is obvious. With Allen, his contract ends after this season. Of course, there are rumors about a contract extension and there isn’t anyone who would mind seeing Jesus Shuttlesworth throw on that green number 20. However, with the amount of young talent on the Celtics bench, the time might come after this season for Allen to step aside.

3. Rasheed Wallace joins the Celtics

Kevin Garnett’s injury at the end of the season, last year, showed the lack of depth in the Celtics front court. The addition of Rasheed Wallace changes all of that. Wallace brings an excellent outside shot as well as a big body who can also spell Garnett. Moreover, you have to love the way the Celtics pursued Wallace. Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and the the Big Three all went to Detroit to sell him on joing the C’s. How could anyone say no to that? As Garnett said, “It’s a perfect fit.”

2. The Rajon Rondo Contract and Trade Saga

This has the makings of an epic serial movie. Picture this: A young point guard with raw talent. He is thrust into a starting position on a pro team making a run at the championship. He performs admirably as the team goes all the way and wins everything. But, the success goes to his head. He breaks some team rules like being on time for meetings. Then there are the trade rumors, and he can’t understand why the team would want to ship him elsewhere. Then there is the contract dispute. Will he sign before the season starts? What happens if he goes to free agency? Stay tuned to find out!

1. KG’€™s road to recovery

It’s been a long five months for Kevin Garnett, during which he was on the sidelines watching the C’s lose to the Magic in seven games, which was followed by surgery and months of rehab. Now, exactly five months to the day of his surgery, Garnett gets to play in games that count. He’s expressed fatigue with the questions about his knee and excitement at the prospect of playing with Wallace and other players who joined the team this year. He’s even adjusted to a later practice schedule. All that being said, we learned from the preseason that he is ready. So let’s get to it.

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

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 Celtics open the season tonight in Cleveland. We’ve got plenty of coverage, leading off with 25 questions facing the team and the league for 2009-10. Find a list of all our coverage at the Green Street blog. Checking out reports from Cleveland, it seems the Cavaliers aren’t as excited about tonight’s opener, as they would prefer more time to get ready.

FOOTBALL: Chris Price examines the Patriots’ season to date and tries to figure out just how good this team is. Joe Zarbano has his weekly NFL power rankings, with the Patriots remaining at No. 6.

The Eagles handed the Redskins, 27-17, on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys signed linebacker DeMarcus Ware to a six-year, $78 million deal. Jets running back Leon Washington is out for the season with a broken leg. Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards was charged with assault stemming from an incident in Cleveland when he played for the Browns. Chiefs running back Larry Johnson continues to offend with his poor choice of words.

BASEBALL: Jason Bay’s agent discusses his client’s free agent possibilities and says Bay’s defense is not as bad as some have been making it seem. The Red Sox front office congratulated Jed Hoyer on being named Padres general manager. Mark McGwire joined Tony La Russa’s coaching staff in St. Louis.

Ally Mielnicki looks back at the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series championship, which was clinched five years ago tonight.

BASKETBALL: The Celtics will be without Glen Davis for 6-8 weeks after Big Baby broke his hand in an off-court incident. Rajon Rondo and the team talked about a contract extension but don’t sound close to completing a deal. Gary Marbry offers up a statistical look at the C’s.

No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin has a broken kneecap, and the Clippers forward could miss six weeks. The Heat will retire Tim Hardaway’s jersey Wednesday night. Cavs guard Delonte West is having some domestic issues with his wife. Ally Mielnicki recaps LeBron James’ interesting offseason.

HOCKEY: Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk will miss 3-5 weeks with a broken foot. The Devils lost defenseman Paul Martin and forward Jay Pandolfo for 4-6 weeks due to injuries. Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes agreed to sell his bankrupt franchise to the league.

HISTORIVIA: On Oct. 27, 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, finishing a sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis. Which Sox pitcher completed the trifecta of picking up wins in the closing games of the ALDS, ALCS and World Series?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s up to Mark how he wants to handle it. What we want him to do is coach our hitters, and if he does that well, we’re going to be happy.” ‘€” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, on how new hitting coach Mark McGwire will address questions about steroid use

STAT OF THE DAY: 16 ‘€” Consecutive games between the Celtics and Cavaliers that have been won by the home team

‘NET RESULTS: Here’s a video a guy took walking through Davis Square in Somerville five years ago tonight. For some reason, there were a lot of people hanging out in the street celebrating.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Derek Lowe

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran, is 51 today.

An Offseason Fit for a King

Monday, October 26th, 2009

LeBron James had quite an momentous offseason. He wanted thunder to go along with his lightning on the court, and his wish was granted in the form of Shaquille O’Neal. He yearned to share his words of wisdom with a struggling youth and Terrelle Pryor came knocking on his door. He had a bone to pick with Braylon Edwards and soon the wide receiver was given a one-way ticket to New York. He sought movie stardom and watched the documentary chronicling his pursuit of fame premiere on the big screen.

Perhaps the only dream that went unfulfilled for Lebron this offseason was his passionate desire to dunk on former President George W. Bush’s behind, as he said in an interview with Maxim magazine. Even so, perhaps one day soon James will be able to purchase the right to do just that — with free agency on the horizon, there could be a contract that exceeds the treasure of all kings (and Bushes?) combined in the not-so-distant future.

James’ offseason was anything but uneventful. After losing to the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron knew he needed a reinforcement. Contrary to popular belief, he was not a one-man show who could single-handedly defeat the Superman known as Dwight Howard and his Magic to deliver a championship to Cleveland. LeBron sought help and his request was granted.

On June 25, the Cavaliers sent Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a 2nd-round pick, and $500,000 to the Phoenix Suns for O’Neal — arguably the most dominant center in NBA history. It was a trade that was fit for a King. To be partnered with one of the best of all-time was exactly what James had ordered. He faced Shaq multiple times throughout his career and now he was one-half of the dynamic duo. Hey, he doesn’t even have to dance off against him anymore:

That would only be the beginning of LeBron’s frenzied offseason activites. Although the next saga of his summer proved more amusing to others than it did to James.

On July 6, during a night session at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio, Xavier‘s Jordan Crawford did the unthinkable and dunked on the King himself. A freelance photographer named Ryan Miller caught the two-handed jam by the college basketball player on the NBA MVP on tape, then watched as Nike officials confiscated the film. Whether it was an attempt to shield James from the embarassment of having an amateur dunk on His Highness or cover up any sign that the King has a kryptonite, Nike attempted to hide the video before the report was eventually released.

However, Crawford wasn’t the only one to challenge King James. In the early morning hours on Oct. 5, former Browns‘ wide receiver Braylon Edwards angered LeBron when he reportedly took a swipe at his friend, Edward Givens, in a Cleveland night club. Calling Edwards “childish” for his actions, LeBron suggested that some jealously existed between Edwards and his friends. In the days that followed, Edwards was traded from Cleveland to the Jets … although head coach Eric Mangini claimed it had nothing to do with the alleged punch.

If anyone happened to watch Ohio State‘s Terrelle Pryor throw for 239 yards with two touchdowns and rush for 104 and a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ win over Minnesota, then they may want to applaud LeBron (unless they are Michigan fans) for his remarkable mentoring skills. James took the young quarterback under his wing after suffering through a sophomore slump. Guiding Pryor on how to deal with balancing a celebrity lifestyle with on-the-field performance, LeBron made may have given Pryor the confidence he needs to excel going forward into the season.

Yet LeBron’s call to inspire did not cease there. Playing in a theater near you, “More than a Game” is a documentary narrating the story of LeBron James and his “Fab Five” in their improbable journey to claim a high school championship. Through all sorts of obstacles, James was able to rise from rags-to-riches and sit atop of the basketball world as “The Chosen One.” (For the trailer, if you so desire, click here.)

When Lebron squares off against the Celtics in the 2009-2010 season opener on his home court on Tuesday, all of the memorable offseason affairs and events that surrounded him will be pushed aside. When he opposes the Big Three and sees the shadow of a 2008 Championship glistening in the eyes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, his entire focus will center on delivering his first championship trophy to the city of Cleveland. 

LeBron has seemingly gotten everything else he’s wanted since the end of the last basketball season. Will the Larry O’Brien Trophy be next?

Monday’s Morning Mashup

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.

In case you are wondering how Sunday’s Patriots game went over with the locals in London, check out this London Times article here. The author, Nick Szczepanik, says he doesn’t think the league won over many converts. He also points out that the NFL’s new international website has a formula to help fans pick teams for which to root. You answer some questions and then the site suggests a team. Try it here, to make sure your allegiance is correctly placed.

FOOTBALL: To no one’s surprise, the Patriots routed the Buccaneers, 35-7, in London. Chris Price has Ten Things We Learned, leading off with the steady Wes Welker. Kirk Minihane says the blowouts are nice, but the real tests await after next week’s bye. Check the It Is What It Is blog for more notes and quotes from the Patriots.

Elsewhere in the NFL, the Cardinals knocked off the Giants at the Meadowlands, the unbeaten Saints rallied from an early 21-point deficit to beat the Dolphins by 12. The Steelers scored two defensive touchdowns and handed the Vikings their first loss of the year. Peyton Manning did not pass for 300 yards for a record-tying sixth straight game because he didn’t need to in the Colts’ rout of the Rams.

D.J. Bean has his fantasy football realizations from Week 7.

In college news, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford will have season-ending shoulder surgery and then plans to enter the NFL draft. Florida regained the top spot in the AP Top 25. Dan Rowinski has Five Things We Learned from Boston College’s tough loss at Notre Dame. The funeral for UConn cornerback Jasper Howard is today in Miami.

BASEBALL: The Yankees closed out the Angels in the ALCS for their 40th league title.

In other Yankees news, there’s an investigation into why the concrete in the ramps at the new Yankee Stadium is cracking.

The Phillies said Cliff Lee will start Game 1 of the World Series. The Indians named Manny Acta manager. Acta was fired by the Nationals in July. Japanese 18-year-old pitcher Yusei Kikuchi decided to stay in his home country after meeting with the Red Sox and seven other MLB teams.

ESPN fired Steve Phillips as a baseball analyst. Tony La Russa is considering his future with the Cardinals, and reportedly wants to bring in Mark McGwire as hitting coach.

BASKETBALL: Paul Flannery wonders if this is the last shot for the Celtics’ Big Three. Ray Allen received five stitches above his left eye after being accidentally elbowed by Kendrick Perkins at practice on Saturday.

NBA referees officially are headed back to work.

The ACC held its media day Sunday, and North Carolina and Duke were named co-favorites. Boston College was tabbed ninth of the 12 ACC teams.

Michael Jordan’s son Marcus, a freshman guard at the University of Central Florida, is making some waves by refusing to wear adidas sneakers despite the school’s contract. Jordan wants to wear his father’s signature Air Jordans.

HOCKEY: Joe Haggerty examines the Bruins’ early season struggles and has Three Things We Learned from the B’s impressive comeback Saturday night against the Senators.

SOCCER: The Revolution earned a playoff spot Sunday night, as Jeff Larentowicz scored in the 79th minute for a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew in the MLS regular-season finale.

HISTORIVIA: On Oct. 26, 1980, the Bruins tied the Winnipeg Jets, 7-7. Which Bruin scored a pair of goals, including the 200th of his career (which was spent entirely in Boston)?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think it’s a privilege to come over here and get to enjoy this type of experience. It will probably never happen again for us, so we’ll retire 1-0 internationally.” ‘€” Tom Brady, after the Patriots’ victory over the Bucs in London

STAT OF THE DAY: 11 ‘€” Consecutive losses by the Buccaneers, their worst streak since the franchise started with 26 consecutive losses in 1976 and ’77.

‘NET RESULTS: Here’s a collection of top 10 plays from the NBA preseason, with former Celtic Mikki Moore getting posterized at No. 1.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Don Marcotte, who finished with 230 career goals, which currently ranks 10th on the Bruins’ all-time list

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Natalie Merchant is 46 today.

Friday’s Morning Mashup

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup, where we’ll get you caught up on what’s going on in the sports world and beyond.

Isiah Thomas, showing the grace, maturity and professionalism that allowed him to be so successful as coach of the New York Knicks (that’s sarcasm, in case you don’t recognize it), ripped Magic Johnson yesterday. Thomas did his best to drive a wedge between Magic and Larry Bird, who co-wrote a forthcoming book with Jackie MacMullan. In the book, Magic criticizes Isiah. There are a couple of new allegations ‘€” such as Isiah questioning Magic’s sexuality after the Lakers star contracted the HIV virus ‘€” but a lot of it’s been reported before. What’s interesting is we haven’t heard it before from Magic, who was one of Isiah’s best friends ‘€” and one of his few friends, based on the apparent widespread dislike of Isiah by other NBA stars.

Here’s part of Isiah’s response from an interview with Sports Illustrated.

“Let’s be real. I’m not going to say the things Magic said in private about Larry, but I do know the public stance he’s taken [in becoming Bird's friend],” Thomas told SI.com. “I know that’s not how he felt about Larry Bird. Magic hated Larry, and he tried to make other people hate Larry. Magic was no friend of Larry Bird’s during that time. And his Laker teammates will tell you that. And I’m sure they’ve got to be disgusted with the way he’s carried on with this whole me-and-Larry bull.”

Isiah now will return to focusing on his current job, setting an example for the basketball players at Florida International University as coach.

BASEBALL: The Yankees were not able to close out the Angels, dropping a 7-6 decision and sending the ALCS back to New York for Game 6 Saturday night. Yankees starter A.J. Burnett feels he let down his team.

Finally, Major League Baseball has responded to complaints about umpiring, with an announcement that it will use only veteran umpires in the World Series.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s comments on Dennis & Callahan yesterday morning have been drawing a lot of interest. He’s taking some heat for his defense of J.D. Drew, insisting Drew has been a good value. Alex Speier further explains what Epstein was saying and shows how the stats back up the GM’s argument.

Hitting coach Dave Magadan chatted with WEEI.com readers yesterday. Tim Wakefield said his Wednesday surgery went well.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt fired his estranged wife, Jamie, as CEO of the team.

FOOTBALL: The Patriots spoke before departing for London, where they will face the Buccaneers on Sunday. Chris Price has his Five Things to Watch For Sunday.

Raiders coach Tom Cable will not face charges for breaking the jaw of assistant coach Randy Hanson. A Nevada judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was accused of raping a woman at a Lake Tahoe hotel.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing the construction of a 75,000-seat stadium that developers hope will lure an NFL team back to the Los Angeles area.

Dan Rowinski previews Saturday’s Boston College-Notre Dame game. UConn is trying to prepare for Saturday’s game against West Virginia, a week after the stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard.

The University of Minnesota apologized for its mascot making fun of a Penn State player who was praying in the end zone prior to Saturday’s game. Here’s the video, in case you’re bored. Not much to it.

HOCKEY: The Bruins picked up a point in a shootout loss to the Flyers. Joe Haggerty has his hat trick of Things We Learned.

Mark Recchi was named to a four-player committee that will conduct an investigation of the NHLPA’s internal operations.

Ducks forward Evgeny Artyukhin was suspended three games by the NHL for a slew-footing incident in Wednesday night’s game against the Stars.

The Kingston Frontenacs, a junior team in Ontario, normally wear uniforms that are similar to the Bruins’, as the original Frontenacs franchise used to be affiliated with the B’s a half-century ago. On Wednesday, as part of Military Appreciation Night, the team paid tribute to former Bruins coach and legendary television analyst Don Cherry with uniforms that honored Cherry’s taste for loud sport coats. Take a look. And you can purchase one of the jerseys as part of a charity auction.

BASKETBALL: Paul Flannery takes a look at Five Things We Learned from the Celtics preseason.

According to a report, the Celtics are unlikely to offer Michael Sweetney a guaranteed contract.

Hawks forward Al Horford followed up his Tuesday radio interview ‘€” when he accused Paul Pierce of reneging on a $10,000 wager on the 2008 playoffs ‘€” by Tweeting that it was a joke. Ha ha.

SOCCER: The Revolution are one of a few teams fighting for an MLS playoff spot as they head into the final weekend of the season.

MISC.: Dan Guttenplan says Deadspin went too far in its attacks on ESPN following the Steve Phillips suspension.

HISTORIVIA: Game 1 of the 2004 World Series was played five years ago today. The Red Sox took a 7-2 lead, but the Cardinals rallied to tie the game at 9 in the eighth. Which Red Sox player hit the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth for the 11-9 victory?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “From a straight objective standpoint, what he contributes offensively and what he contributes defensively, and add in baserunning so it’€™s the total value of the player, on a rate basis he was outstanding and there aren’€™t too many outfielders who compare to what he did.” ‘€” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein on the Dennis & Callahan show, talking about J.D. Drew

STAT OF THE DAY: 1 ‘€” Longest winning streak this season for the Bruins, who dropped to 4-4-1 with last night’s shootout loss to the Flyers

‘NET RESULTS: Here’s an inside look at London’s Wembley Stadium, where the Patriots will play the Buccaneers on Sunday.

HISTORIVIA ANSWER: Mark Bellhorn, hitting against reliever Julian Tavarez, homered off the Pesky Pole.

SOOTHING SOUNDS: What are the chances the fans will break into the soccer anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at Sunday’s Patriots game? One can only hope. Here’s Gerry and the Pacemakers performing the song at Wembley.