Archive for June, 2010

LEEInks list: Costly regular-season injuries in Boston sports

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The Red Sox have suffered some costly injuries this season. Over the weekend, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, pitcher Clay Buchholz and catcher Victor Martinez joined the current slew of Sox players who are sidelined. While the amount of time these players will sit still is in question, their efforts surely will be missed no matter how long they are out. Although the Red Sox still have lots of baseball to be played, the injured players’ absences could hurt the team in pursuing a playoff spot come September.

Below are other Boston athletes that also have experienced costly injuries and hurt their teams’ chances of reaching the playoffs or competing for a title.

Marc Savard – This past March, the Bruins were continuing their quest for a playoff spot when all of a sudden they lost one of their key players following an aggressive hit from Penguins forward Matt Cooke. Cooke’s blindside hit flattened Savard and resulted in the Bruins’ training staff carting the center off the ice. His concussion was so severe no one expected he would return for the remainder of the season, but Savard did return when the Bruins faced the Flyers in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After taking a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins would eventually lose the series in a heartbreaking Game 7.

Wes Welker – In Week 17 of the 2009 NFL season, Welker tore his ACL and MCL in the first quarter of a game against the Texans in Houston. He still finished the season with 123 receptions, a league-best total.  He would miss the remaining three quarters of the Patriots regular-season finale as well as the wild card game against the Ravens, which resulted in a Patriots loss.

Kevin Garnett –After landing awkwardly in the second quarter of a February 2009 game against the Jazz,  Garnett hobbled off the court and into the locker room for X-rays. Garnett would be diagnosed with a strained right knee and would not return until the following season. While he was out, he was a verbal presence on the bench, but the Celtics would not be the same without the “Big Ticket” and ended their season with a loss to the  Magic in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Rodney Harrison – During a marquee Monday night game in October 2008, the Patriots safety injured his right knee while attempting to tackle Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. Harrison remained on the Gillette Stadium grass waiting for a cart to come to his rescue. Waiving goodbye to the supportive fans while being chauffeured into the locker room, Harrison would never play another down of football again.

Tom Brady: In Week 1 of the 2008 season, Patriots fans turned their attention to Brady, who was knocked to the ground in an aggressive manner by Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. Rolling around on the grassy turf, Brady would be helped off the field and taken to get X-rays. The news broke the following day that he was officially done for the season, which allowed for backup quarterback Matt Cassel to attempt to lead the Patriots to another successful season. The Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs in Week 17, following their victory in Buffalo.

Patrice Bergeron: Experiencing an awful hit from behind by Philadelphia Flyers defensemen Randy Jones in October 2007, Bergeron laid completely still on the Bruins ice. Bergeron suffered a broken nose and concussion, but return for 64 games in 2008. As for the Bruins, they ended their season in heartbreaking fashion, losing 4-3 to Montreal in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Curt Schilling: Beginning the 2005 season on the disabled list, Schilling would return to the Sox as a bullpen pitcher in late July. Schilling struggled immensely but would work his way back into a starting role. Schilling finished the season with an overall record of 8-8 and nine saves. The Red Sox would make it to the postseason but eventually be swept in the American League Divisional Series by the Chicago White Sox.

Drew Bledsoe: Following a terrifying hit in Week 2 of the 2001 NFL season by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, Bledsoe suffered serious internal bleeding that sidelined him and paved the way for a future New England legend, Tom Brady. The Patriots would turn around their 1-3 start and finish 11-5, as well as capture their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Tony Conigliaro: On a warm August night in 1967, California Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton beaned  Conigliaro on his left cheekbone. The end result was a linear fracture on his cheek, a dislocated jaw and serious damage to his retina. Boston would eventually make it to the 1967 World Series but lose in seven games to the Cardinals.

Teddy Green: Coming off a successful season with the black and gold, Green was involved in a notorious stick-swinging incident with Blues forward Wayne Maki in a 1969 exhibition game. Green was severely hurt by Maki, who struck him on the head. Green endured a fractured skull and brain damage, which sidelined him for the entire season. In his absence, the Bruins won their fourth Stanley Cup. Green never played a single second of that particular season but had his named engraved on the trophy. He would return to the lineup the following season and then help the Bruins win the 1972 Stanley Cup.

Friday’s Morning Mashup

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

SATURDAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Giants, 7:10 p.m. (FOX, WEEI)
World Cup: United States vs. Ghana, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

SUNDAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Giants, 4:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

Bob Klapisch in the Bergen (N.J.) Record writes that it’s time to end the feud between the Yankees and Joe Torre. In the New York Post, George A. King III quotes Torre saying he’s sorry that Alex Rodriguez harbors some bitterness. Said A-Rod: “Business as usual. I am not going to get into that.”

♦ The New York Daily News has the Mets insisting that news of a sexual assault complaint against ace Johan Santana is not a distraction.

♦ NBA draft day is a time of promise and excitement. And for some teams, it’s a day to get ripped by fans and media. The Salt Lake Tribune recaps the negative reaction to the Jazz selecting Gordon Hayward with the No 9 pick. The Trail Blazers fired popular general manager Kevin Pritchard before Thursday’s draft, and John Canzano at The Oregonian isn’t among those who aren’t happy about it. Geoff Calkins in The Commercial Appeal blasts the Grizzlies for selling one of their picks, the latest slap in the face to Memphis fans.

♦ At FoxSports.com, Matt Cronin looks at the record tennis match that ended Thursday at Wimbledon and discusses how to avoid a repeat.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 25, 1993, the Bruins traded Andy Moog to the Dallas Stars for which goalie?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He’s a kid that’s 19 and we’re not counting on him to play a major role on this team.” — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on first-round draft pick Avery Bradley

STAT OF THE DAY: 6 — Three-home run games in the major leagues this season, after Dustin Pedroia joined the list Thursday night in the Red Sox’ win over the Rockies

‘NET RESULTS: No. 1 draft pick John Wall has his skills broken down by “Sports Science.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jon Casey

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Eddie Floyd is 75 today.

LEEInks list: Best Red Sox interleague games

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Love it or hate it, interleague play in Major League Baseball is again among us, meaning that at least for another few days American League pitchers will be forced to hit, National League batters will see time as designated hitters and fans will get to see matchups that they would have only previously seen in the World Series. Since its inception by commissioner Bud Selig during the 1997 season, interleague play, a concept that was created to help spread the game and help the fans, has long been a point of contention for players, managers and baseball purists alike.

Despite the nagging that comes up every year, interleague play has led to some great contests that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise, and the Red Sox, who were 137-106 all-time in interleague play as of Thursday, have been no exception. Here’s a look at some of the greatest Sox interleague games over the past 13 years.

10. Red Sox beat Mets 8-4 in Boston’s first-ever regular-season interleague game (June 13, 1997)

It doesn’t hurt to start to this list with the team’s first-ever regular-season game against an NL opponent, and it hurts even less when it was a Sox win. In Boston’s first game in an NL park since it played the very same Mets in the very same Shea Stadium in the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox surprisingly fared well. Every starter, except for pitcher Jeff Suppan, collected at least one hit, and Mo Vaughn, John Valentin and Troy O’Leary all hit homers en route to an 8-4 win. The Sox did show a little bit of inexperience though, as a mix-up in the lineup card had the pitcher’s spot in the order moved up to fifth after Bill Haselman pinch-hit for Suppan and then replaced Scott Hatteberg, the usual No. 5 hitter, behind the plate.

9. Josh Beckett hits HR in Sox’ 8-4 win in Philly (May 20, 2006)

Sure, an 8-4 win is nice (see above), but unless something spectacular happens, it’s usually not something to write home about. Well, in the seventh inning, starting pitcher Josh Beckett gave Boston its spectacular moment. After already having driven in a run in the previous inning, Beckett stepped up to the dish looking for more and got precisely what he wanted. He crushed a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left-center. It was Beckett’s third home run of his career, and it led to some comical silent treatment from his teammates when he returned to the dugout. It was the first home run hit by a Sox pitcher since the AL began using the DH in 1973. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Italy’s finest hour

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Italian players (in blue) are stunned as Slovakia celebrates Thursday's upset that knocked the defending World Cup champion Italians out of the tournament. (AP)

Boy, am I shocked that Italy got knocked out of the tournament so early. I had the Italians going at least to the finals. … No, really, I am really surprised. I promise …

OK, you got me. I had them getting bounced in the first game of the knockout round by the Netherlands. But any time you can knock out a team that is the exact reason Americans hate soccer — defensively driven, don’t try to score goals or be entertaining, and go down like a bag of bricks was dropped on their head every single time they are touched — you have to do it.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s karma for whatever Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane to get him to do the infamous head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final.

I despise the way the Azzurri play football, and thankfully Slovakia gave Italy the long dirt nap at the World Cup at least until 2014. It’s funny, too, because  statistically this was the easiest group in the entire World Cup. That’s a fact, not opinion, according to the FIFA world rankings. Italy finished at the bottom of the group,with two points, behind New Zealand with three, Slovakia with four and Paraguay with five.

Of course, I also think Marcello Lippi did his team no favors by selecting an aging squad with little creativity made up of many players who don’t have enough vision or imagination. The one player he had with that type of ability — Andrea Pirlo — went down with a calf injury just before the tournament, missed the first two games, then finally was able to come on as a sub in the second half of the last match vs. Slovakia, but by then it was too late. Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday’s Morning Mashup

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Rockies, 8:40 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ Despite beating the Celtics in the NBA finals, the Lakers have some issues to address. Kevin Ding in the Orange County Register writes about coach Phil Jackson, who said Wednesday he is “leaning toward retiring” and appears serious about it. Mark Heisler in The Los Angeles Times writes that the team is preparing to tighten the wallet, affecting personnel throughout the organization. He explains the reasons for the financial concern.

Henry Abbott at True Hoop has an interesting piece looking into the background of William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, confidant of LeBron James, John Calipari and others.

Mike Lopresti in USA Today writes that fate has not been kind to the No. 2 pick in the NBA, and he offers a number of examples.

Dave Hyde in the Florida Sun Sentinel writes that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is the problem, not manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was fired Wednesday.

♦ The New York Daily News looks at Alex Rodriguez not wanting to talk about former manager Joe Torre as the Yankees prepare to play Torre’s Dodgers this weekend.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 24, 1986, which Bruins star from the 1950s and ’60s was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This team embodies what the American spirit is about. We had a goal disallowed the other night, We had another good goal disallowed tonight. But we just keep going. And I think that’s what people admire so much about Americans. And I’m damn proud.” Landon Donovan, after his stoppage-time goal gave the United States a 1-0 victory over Algeria on Wednesday at the World Cup

STAT OF THE DAY: 8 — Years since the United States had last won a World Cup game

‘NET RESULTS: Braves third baseman Brooks Conrad takes a one-hopper down his shirt.

Ron Artest appeared on the “Lopez Tonight” and performed in a skit in which Helen Mirren played his psychiatrist before Game 7 against the Celtics.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Defenseman Leo Boivin

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Arthur Brown is 66 today.

World Cup roundup, 6/23: USA advances on dramatic goal

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Landon Donovan celebrates with teammate Edson Buddle after scoring in stoppage time to give the U.S. a 1-0 win over Algeria. (AP)

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

USA 1, Algeria 0 – It took more than the normal 90 minutes and a few more near-misses than any U.S. fan could stomach, but the Yanks were finally able to score in the 91st minute on a rebound goal from Landon Donovan. The win, coupled with England’s win, gave the U.S. five points and first place in Group C as it heads into the knockout stage for the first time since 2002. Donovan’s tally, his 44th in international competition, came after the U.S. failed to capitalize on several prime scoring chances, including several chances that either went just wide of an open net or right into the body of the Algerian keeper. Clint Dempsey put home a rebound of his own in the first half but was called offsides, despite replays that showed him even with the last Algerian defender. The Yanks will now face Ghana on Saturday in a rematch from the 2006 group stage while the Algerians are sent home for the third time in as many chances in their World Cup history.

England 1, Slovenia 0 – The English didn’t have to wait nearly as long as their rivals across the pond as Jermain Dafoe scored the only goal of the match in the first half. The one-goal win came as a relief to an English team who had entered the World Cup ranked third in the world but had failed to live up to its ranking after ties to both the U.S. and Algeria. Still, because it scored fewer goals than the U.S., England will have to settle for second place in the group as it heads onward to the Round of 16. Slovenia was the team that had led Group C with four points heading into Wednesday but will not advance following its only loss of this year’s World Cup.

Germany 1, Ghana 0 — Mesut Oezil put in a deep blast in the second half to give the Germans their second Cup win as they head into the next round as winners of Group D. Ghana certainly had plenty of chances of their own as they outshot the Germans 17-14 but couldn’t put home the equalizer. It too will advance to face the U.S. in the next round, making it the only team from Africa to move onto the knockout round of the international tournament so far.

Australia 2, Serbia 1 — After a scoreless first half from all four teams in Group D, both squads knew they had at least a shot to advance. Australia had the greatest response as it tallied both of its goals in the half’s first 30 minutes en route to its 2-1 win, but even that wasn’t enough as it lost out the chance to move on to Ghana, which also had four points but had a better goal differential after the three games of the group stage. Serbia, who needed to win the match because of Germany’s win if they wanted to advance, finished with three points.

OFF THE FIELD: Washington lawmakers momentarily postponed meetings on financial legislation to watch the last few minutes of the U.S.-Algeria match. The New York Times published a report that some of the French criticisms about their national team could be racially charged. An Italian politician was forced to apologize after claiming that Italy would “buy” a win in its upcoming game against Slovakia.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This team embodies what the American spirit is about. We had a goal disallowed the other night, We had another good goal disallowed tonight. But we just keep going. And I think that’s what people admire so much about Americans. And I’m damn proud.” — U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan on his team’s perseverance

STAT OF THE DAY: 1930 – The last time an American squad won its group in the World Cup. It was the first-ever World Cup.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Italy vs. Slovakia 10 a.m.

Paraguay vs. New Zealand 10 a.m.

Denmark vs. Japan 2:30 p.m.

Netherlands vs. Cameroon 2:30 p.m.

LEEInks list: Boston athletes who requested a trade

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Last week, offensive lineman Logan Mankins expressed his frustration with the Patriots by requesting a trade. As is often the case, money is the root of the player’s discontent. Other times, a lack of playing time leads to a request for change of scenery. And there are other reasons as well. Here are 10 Boston athletes who requested, demanded or pushed to be traded by their behavior.

10. Kyle McLaren – Dealing with injuries after seven years with the Bruins, McLaren was insulted when the Bruins proposed a two-way contract, a rarity for a veteran of McLaren’s stature. The former No. 9 overall pick asked for a trade, and his wish was granted when he was shipped to San Jose in 2002.

9. Jason Allison – The star center was coming off a 95-point season in 2000-01 and had inherited the role of captain from Bruins legend Ray Bourque. But when the teams disagreed on an appropriate yearly salary by a reported $2 million, Allison held out and made it clear he would not play for the Bruins at a discounted rate. Allison was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in October 2001, and he got his money: approximately $20 million for three years. In the Bruins’ defense, it should be noted that Allison hardly earned his money in LA, playing a year and a half and posting solid but unspectacular numbers before being sidelined by injuries.

8. Jay Payton – Payton joined the team before the 2005 season as a fourth outfielder. Only, he viewed himself as deserving of more regular playing time. In June, he asked to be traded. To force the Sox’ hand, he got into a confrontation with manager Terry Francona during a game in early July, complaining that he wasn’t hitting high enough in the order. He would then be designated for assignment and traded to Oakland. Once an official member of the A’s, Payton hit a home run in his first at-bat to begin his career on the right foot with the California ballclub. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for updates from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Rockies, 8:40 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

Forbes magazine conducted a poll of the most disliked active sports figures, and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick took top honors with a 69 percent dislike rate. He was followed by Raiders owner Al Davis (66 percent), Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (57), golfer Tiger Woods (53), Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (53), Cardinals batting coach Mark McGwire (48), Bills receiver Terrell Owens (47), Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (45), 76ers guard Allen Iverson (45) and Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas (44). Missing from this year’s list were Manny Ramirez (second last year) and Kobe Bryant (fifth in 2009).

♦ A statue of Mickey Mouse in a Red Sox uniform, one of 36 statues of the cartoon icon in major league outfits to promote the All-Star Game in Anaheim, was vandalized at its Southern California location. This story indicates it probably happened because the Red Sox are rivals with the Angels, but the damage was discovered the day after the Lakers beat the Celtics in the NBA finals, so that would seem to be a more likely reason.

Roy S. Johnson at ESPN.com writes about the Arizona immigration controversy and how it will effect Dominican players in the Arizona Rookie League.

Armando Galarraga, the Tigers pitcher who lost his perfect game on a bad call, told the New York Post he would like expanded use of instant replay in baseball.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 23, 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox won the longest game in baseball history. The resumption of the game, which started on April 19, ended quickly as the PawSox scored in the 33rd inning to beat the Rochester Red Wings. Which future Boston Red Sox player scored the winning run?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m slow. If he can get up, he has all the time in the world.” Mike Lowell, on his infield liner to end the Red Sox’ Tuesday night loss to the Rockies

STAT OF THE DAY: 1 — Host nations that have not advanced to the knockout round in World Cup history, as South Africa became the first such team this year

‘NET RESULTS: At Wimbledon, James Blake takes issue with ESPN’s Pam Shriver announcing his match too loudly and the two exchange words (skip to the 4:30 mark). Here’s more info about it.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Marty Barrett, on an RBI by Dave Koza

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Rosetta Hightower, formerly of the Orlons, is 66 today.

Nothing sadder in life than wasted talent

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

He may not have a pretty face, but I love that Irish accent.

I have a confession to make: I desperately miss Tommy Smyth at this 2010 World Cup. You know him as the brilliant little Irishman who made the phrase “bulges the old onion bag” famous when he was one of ESPN’s top commentators for the Champions League when ESPN still owned the Champions League broadcast rights (Fox Sports World now owns those rights in the States).

Smyth has been stuck in obscurity as ESPN’s top radio commentator for the U.S. games partnered alongside JP Dellacamera — one of the only real legitimate American soccer play-by-play guys going.

I’m not saying I think would be better than Martin Tyler or Ian Drake — the two play-by-play Brits who sound eerily similar — because they are terrific, really the best ESPN could have gotten.

But where Smyth would have been dynamite is in the studio gig because he is great at breaking down film clips in short segments — like Ron Jaworski does for ESPN’s NFL coverage — and then providing interesting insight, often with a funny delivery.

He would have been much better than the cast of characters ESPN has run out so far, from Ruud Gullit (OK so far) to Roberto Martinez to Jurgen Klinsmann to Steve McManaman and Alexi Lalas. Yes, all those guys have World Cup cache because they were all recent stars, but those guys are always necessarily the best to listen to. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. vs. Algeria: What to watch for

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Question day has arrived for the United States, less than 24 hours prior to a game against Algeria that will decide the men’s national team’s fate that’s set to start Wednesday at 10 a.m.

To date, the comeback kids have in large part looked pretty good, with spells of utter chaos and disorganization at the back — an area of concern before the World Cup without any relief during it — as well as moments of pure genius and precision looking as fluid as any world power going forward, connecting quick combination passing. And of course, the U.S. has been protected in goal by one of the best keepers in the tournament in Tim Howard.

The U.S. can advance into the knockout stage either as the top team or the second-place finisher with a slew of possibilities as listed below. Here, however, I will break down the match:

So who is this mysterious African team that drew nil-nil with England, a great result for the U.S.?

Algeria has conceded one goal in South Africa that one to Slovenia on a major goalkeeping gaffe by first-game starter Faouzi Chaouchi, The keeper misjudged by the bouncing oncoming shot from Robert Koren and tried to catch the ball instead of blocking it away. The ball slipped by his shoulder, essentially through his hands, and in. It wasn’t as poor as Robert Green’s mistake for England, but it was just as costly, for without that goal every team in Group C would be level on two points through two matches thus far. Read the rest of this entry »