"A good friend of mine used to say, 'This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' Think about that for a while."(Bull Durham)
There's No Crying in Baseball! (A League of Their Own)

A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz. ~Humphrey Bogart

26 August 2012

Strike Three!

On the heels of one of the largest monetary trade between teams in baseball history  -between the Red Sox and Dodgers -I have finally shut the door on the 2012 baseball season.  Now I know the trade was supposed to help to bring Red Sox Nation together and spark some interest in a truly unlikeable team, but I have watched as much of this train wreck as I can.

At the end of the 2011 season, a September that saw a monumental collapse, I didn't have an issue with "chicken and beer", I certainly didn't have an issue with the Manager, I didn't point fingers at The GM...I could point to one thing and one thing only -EGO!  The 2011 Boston Red Sox bought their own press-they believed they were the "Best Team Evah" and didn't think they really needed to show up to play or win games. So they didn't.  I had a real problem with how Tito Francona left this town and still do--it was unnecessarily ugly and rotten--and completely undeserved.  Perhaps it was time for him to go but but NOT that way. 

OK new season, new manager, 100th anniversary--let's feel better! Never happened, and never could.  Bobby Valentine was the wrong guy for the wrong time but I can't blame him.  Injuries, sure that can derail any team with any coaching staff...but 2012 was just September 2011 with 100th anniversary banners.  The players were pretty much the same and the attitude of entitlement and arrogance deepened. One would think, and we all expected, after the largest collapse in Red Sox history that there would be some humility, some sense of "we owe it to everyone including ourselves" to make up for last season---somehow the disconnect  never got reconnected and this season has been like Days of Our Lives night after night after night. I hung in there, I really did, having grown up with this team it is in your Red Sox Fan DNA to do that--but last week ended it all for me. 

 Johnny Pesky was the personification of the Boston Red Sox, more than just a former player and certainly more than a beloved elder statesman...he had seen it all and no one but no one was happier in 2004 than Mr Pesky.  His passing was not a shock but a loss for anyone who has ever watched a Red Sox game and certainly for those who wore a Red Sox uniform.  So to hear that only 4 current players attended his funeral-well that defined the "you guys don't get this do you" 2012 season for me.  Sorry fellas but that is where you lost me.

So... for the next couple of weeks til The Patriots take the field I will choose my baseball fictionally.  Instead of playing out the string with a team I can't care about I'll be watching popcorn style-

 Re-Watching Bull Durham, The Natural, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Moneyball, or 30 for 30: Four Days in October should make me feel better---even The Bad News Bears will be better than what this summer has brought to Fenway...seeya next year guys.

21 August 2010

Old Time, Best Time-The Old Time Baseball Game

These images may conjure up the "ideal" of Old Time Baseball, via Hollywood of course, but for those of us who were not around to watch the game played in flannel there is an annual event that brings back those days.  Each summer  on a Cambridge Massachusetts neighborhood field  The Old Time Baseball Game  is played to celebrate the game we love and its traditions "...offering a glimpse of what it was like in the old days, when hundreds of fans would turn out to root for their “town” team in various local semipro leagues."

What could be better than an August evening sitting watching baseball played for the "love of the game"...without the high tech flash, bazillion dollar contracts, whining superstars, huge ticket prices or lengthy television breaks  of today's pro game...baseball  where the game is the star.

Now in its 17th year, The Old Time Baseball Game is a terrific event which gives a loving  bow to baseball's past and a  look forward as young prospects, college players and even some retired pros take the field in original baseball uniforms in a small town game atmosphere at St. Peter's Field in Cambridge.

The original uniforms and the history take the spotlight but it is really the charity support that wins this game each year. A tip of the cap to Old Time Baseball founder and organizer Boston Herald columnist, sports commentator and baseball historian, Steve Buckley, author of Wicked Good Year for his all his work to make this annual fundraiser a special night for baseball lovers .
 This year's game will be played Wednesday August 25th at 7pm at St. Peter's Field on Sherman Street in Cambridge. For more information Visit  Old Time Baseball Game
Donations can be made to this year's recipient:
The Mary Jaye Cherella Memorial Fund for SIDS Research
c/o The Old Time Baseball Game

PO Box 727
North Andover, MA 01845

04 August 2010

As the Baseball Turns...

 "Just when you think you're out...they pull you back in..."

There have been more than a few times this baseball season that I have asked myself "Why am I watching this team??'' This team being the Boston Red Sox of course. 

A season that began with every baseball pundit choosing MY team to go all the way quickly settled in to see a sad looking spring with Papi not being able to find the baseball at the end of his bat.  As June moved along the boys played well but then the hometown team literally dropping like flies  One by one  key marquee players suffered injury after injury to the point the DL roster was longer than the team roster- and Red Sox manager Tito Francona it seemed was pulling guys off Yawkey Way  throwing a uniform on them and sending them out onto the field with a bat in their hand...who are these guys???...

...and then there is Mike Lowell.  The MVP of the 2007 world series has literally been living in no man's land for the majority of the season.   Recovering from hip injuries it was clear that Lowell could not take his spot at third base this year but the bat still flies. With Papi playing well and Yuke at first there simply was not a place to play Lowell...a close call trade to the Rangers never happened and so  on the bench  he sat waiting...waiting to play...waiting to be traded...waiting to play baseball. Coming off a stint on the DL the trade deadline came and went for Lowell, there were rumours of a trade to the Yankees and still Mikey Lowell was on the Boston bench, but not activated. Then... Youkilis injured his hand in what could be a season ending injury (which could also meant the end of the playoff chase for the Sox)...like the ingenue understudy waiting for the star to get sick Lowell was at that point Lowell was called in from the wings, the bench, and activated.

Last night Mike Lowell walked into the batter's box for the first time since June to a roaring crowd all on their feet...before that crowd could sit Lowell swung at the first pitch he saw and  knocked the ball out of the park for a 2 run homer...and yes the crowd went wild! 

Welcome back Mikie...but wait there's more, Mike Lowell was put on waivers today and John Lester was just pulled from the game in the 6th with what could be ...yes, another injury!...and so the baseball turns!

29 May 2010

A Leprachaun off the Bench-The Celtics Cast a Spell on the Magic

When Nate Robinson was traded from New York to the Boston Celtics most fans said "Huh"??  Nate Robinson??!!  just didn't seem to be the player this team needed.  Not young, not tall, not playing very much and he had never played in a post-season game.  The team was hurt,tired and playing ugly and the move just didn't seem to make any sense...til last night. This team that all the pundits said was too old, too banged up and on their way out shocked the basketball planet and are now on their way to where only they believed they would be heading-the NBA finals.

The Celtics did this by playing like Champions and looking like the best team in the NBA which they just may be-a far cry from the team that couldn't win a game down the stretch.  Seven weeks ago if anyone had said the Celtics would not only be in the NBA finals but would get their in a commanding way no one in the basketball world, or even the greenest fan, would have believed it. The team had a 27-27 record in the last 54 games of the season, consistently blowing leads in the 4th quarter and looking like they just couldn't finish a game. The Celtics were not on the radar screen as the playoffs approached..sure because of an early season win streak we would be there but it would be a train wreck...but this team was good in the early season, nothing changed with who they were, they didn't suddenly wake up and get old, but they looked it and we all were thinking its time to rebuild...Unless you were living inside the Celtics locker room and Doc Rivers was your coach.

Doc knew that winning games then wasn't what it was about --whether they liked it or not he sat his key players and limited their court time in those last weeks of the season, the team lost but Doc knew he just needed to get his team to the end, get them rested and get them healthy and then he would have the weapons he would need to sleigh the giants of the NBA one at a time including the King-LeBron James. He was right. By the start of the playoffs his group of banged up octogenarians looked like kids, Kevin Garnett played like he was 18 and the Big Three moved aside just enough to let the future roll through as Rajon Rondo led the team and blew away the competition.  The Celtics were where only they believed they belonged and they knew what they had to do as they startled  the teams they met...the Heat and the Cavaliers were taken care of  and with a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals it looked like a done deal-Beat LA. The Celtics,however, suddenly lost their defense and their drive and found themselves up only 3 games to 2.  Somehow someway The Orlando Magic came back from the dead and won two straight but Game 6 was on the garden floor-where real Magic can happen.  This town was a nervous wreck..deja vu all over again??  Injuries, fatigue,age,karma..The Bruins were up 3-0 after all and look where they landed. No one wearing green last night exhaled til the final 60 seconds, even with a lead as much as 22 it just never felt secure, we were just waiting for that 4th quarter crumble...but the Celtics had no intention of going back to Orlando-this was their 7th game.

We had not seen a whole lot of Mr. Robinson and what we saw just left us shaking our heads, but with his starting players in early foul trouble and his star point guard shaken up in the first quarter Doc Rivers brought in the player that he had told reporters would win "us a playoff game" and with 13 second quarter points he just very well may have done that.  Nate Robinson had only played about 16 minutes total in the playoffs but Doc Rivers kept telling him "Stay engaged. At some point you're going to win a game for us. I can't tell you when you're going to play, I can't tell you if you're going to play, on what night at least, but at some point you're going to win a game for us." Last night the player most people didn't even remember was on the team became the spark that sent the Magic home and this morning Boston is Mr. Robinson's neighborhood and the Celtics are in the NBA Finals! where they DO belong.

29 October 2009

On Pedro's Mound

"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..."

When Pedro Martinez left the Boston Red Sox it was literally breaking news. The press conference was carried live, stations interrupted programming-Pedro was gone.

Tonight he is back. Back on the biggest stage in baseball...The World Series, but not in a Red Sox uniform. Pedro is pitching on the mound at Yankee Stadium-it may not be the same Yankee Stadium that was the scene of the greatest heartbreak in Red Sox fan history---you remember, when "he who shall not be named" ...well never mind-too painful to go back...but the ghosts have followed Pedro to the new Yankee stadium-he is after all Pedro Martinez...and every broken hearted Red Sox fan will be watching a World Series we could care less about ---that was until we learned Pedro was pitching.

Since leaving Boston Pedro spent 4 years with the NY Mets, they were injury plagued years and difficult years personally for him as the consummate competitor could not pitch at his own level and it looked like perhaps it was the 9th inning for Pedro's career. He was not healthy, he lost his Dad, went home to be with his Mom and no one expected him to really pitch again at the big league level. Pedro,however, knew he would. He had made his dying father a promise that he would pitch again and so he got himself ready and put himself on the market--there were not a lot of takers at first but the world champion Phillies offered Pedie a chance to come back to the Big Show and be a starter. The Phillies are back in the World Series and Pedro Martinez starts Game 2.

If I blink his red and white uniform could be confused for a Red Sox uniform...oh how we miss Pedro! He was simply the best pitcher, the most electrifying athlete to ever to pitch at Fenway Park...when Pedro pitched it was an event-you didn't miss a Pedro start-and you were rarely disappointed. Pedro has 210 career wins against only 100 losses-if he lost he was probably hurting. Was he a Diva, sure but he earned that right. No matter the box score tonight, no matter the final score tonight, to watch the master at work again, to hopefully see Pedro strike out A-Rod will be an unexpected end of season treat.

"I said it before, when you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a purpose out there. "

17 May 2009

A Woman's Place...is Out in Front! Girl Power Wins the Preakness

"People don't think she can do it against the boys...but its not about gender, its about the best athlete...Gender doesn't matter. A thoroughbred wants to run! If a filly is as good as the colts, then she ought to compete..."-Jess Jackson, new owner of Rachel Alexandra

Her name is Rachel Alexandra, she is three years old, she never ran against boys, but yesterday she showed what Girl Power can do. The boys never really had a chance with her in the race!

In a field of thirteen horses entered into yesterday's 134th running of The Preakness Stakes she was the last to load into the starting gate,at post 13, and the first to cross the finish line. After a stumble coming through the gate she went from seventh to first in a blink of an eye and won by a length shaking off only one serious challenge down the stretch from Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird. She was a 9-5 favorite but no one thought she could seriously challenge the boys despite her convincing win at Kentucky Oaks. Her former owners refused to enter her into the Kentucky Derby assuming the conventional wisdom that a nice girl should not run with the rough boys.

It has been 85 years since a filly, Nellie Morse in 1924, won the Preakness. This race wasn't supposed to be for girls, her former owners were not going to enter her and rival owners tried to block her entry-maybe they saw what was coming? After a strong win in Kentucky Oaks she was sold and the new owners made the decision to enter her despite the advice that she should only run against other girls. Obviously she has something special as Calvin Borel,the winning jockey from the Kentucky Derby, opted to ride Rachel Alexandra and not Mine that Bird-"She's the best horse in the country right now,bar none," Borel said. You Go Girl! The Lady is a Champ!

08 June 2008

The Storyteller

Long before Sportscenter, the ESPN crawl and the SuperBowl Halftime extravaganza, in places that would never have 60,000 seat stadiums or 50 million dollar salaries, there was Wide World of Sports, and Jim McKay.

The world was much bigger in those days, and Wide World went to all corners, as the now famous opening told us each Saturday afternoon

...Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition…

On a portable black and white TV I watched every weekend as that ski jumper tumbled down that mountain -maybe this week he'll make it, nope. I tuned in to see Peggy, Dorothy, Nadia but was also treated to every sport imaginable from places I had to go look up in my encyclopedia...Wide World covered them all. The program was about sports, competition, achievement and especially the individuals who devoted their lives to becoming the best at their sport...not for glamour, or spectacle, or money but the grace of sport. The man who gave every sport he covered that grace was Jim McKay.

Jim McKay hosted Wide World from its inception in 1961 and was there each Saturday for most of its over 35 year history. This was not a play by play or a hype filled color analyst, this was a journalist, an eloquent gifted broadcaster who told the story, the story of the sport, the story of the place, the story of the athlete and the story and emotion of the moment you were witnessing. Jim McKay covered 12 Olympic games, major golf events, Triple Crown races...all with an eye for the "humanity" of sports. He understood that it isn't just about playing games, there is history, passion, dedication, determination and commitment behind the curtain. His presence and narration were genuine. His words were paint on canvas. His narration, defining.

In 1972 at the summer Olympics in Munich it was Jim McKay that told a waiting world the fate of the Israeli athletes taken hostage

When I was a kid my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone
The journalist told us the story of each of the athletes, the sports broadcaster stepped aside, and the man introduced a shocked nation to our first look at terrorism.

Jim McKay may have witnessed the evolution of the world of sports as it lost its innocence through his own medium, but he continued to peel back the glittery facades and packaging to reveal the humanity, emotion, drama and stories of the reality of competition. He made us care about the most obscure sporting events, he made us hold our breath as Jack Nicklaus walked up the green or Spend a Buck crossed the finish line. We cared to watch and listen and follow. These were not just games but the stories of athletes, filled with emotion and passion played out in quiet hours of preparation or in front of millions. Many in sports broadcasting have tried to be the next Jim McKay,emulate his style,none have succeeded, nor will they.

31 May 2008


Havlicek reminded the new generation, "With your jersey it carries a lot of great tradition. Go Celtics. Beat LA." (Boston Globe)

Fasten your seat belts...we are heading back to the future ..destination-Dream Date!

12 months ago if you had told any Boston sports fan that the Red Sox would win another World Series, the Patriots would go undefeated in the regular season and ...oh yeah, the Celtics would have the best record in the NBA and win the Eastern Conference championship, they might challenge you on the first two but as for the Celtics...they would laugh you out of the bar. It all came true! and last night the Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons clinching the Eastern Conference title and waking up the Leprechauns.

One year ago the Boston Celtics had won only 24 games all season and no one in Boston cared...it was too hard for anyone over say 35 to care and everyone else didn't remember or know they should care. The Celtics have not been in the finals since 1986...the whole planet has changed since then and in 22 years an entire generation has grown up in Boston without knowing what it is to be a Celtics fan.

There has been a lot to cheer about around here, beginning with the 2002 improbable Superbowl win of the Patriots, followed by the dream of the 2004 Red Sox World Series win that no one thought would ever happen. The word Dynasty has been loosely used, especially applied the Pats, but for those of us who grew up with a Green team in the playoffs year in and year out and watched banner after banner rise to the rafters there is only one real Dynasty in this town...but no one cared for over 22 years.

This generation of Boston fans is far from deprived. In fact they are growing up thinking the Patriots will always win and the Red Sox will always make the post season. They don't know pain! My crowd lived without much of a football franchise to cheer on a Sunday afternoon and being a Red Sox fan meant only heartache...for 86years.

What we did have, and yes we took it for granted, was a basketball team that played in a leaky, stifling hot, old building with pigeons flying in and out. They played on a magical parquet floor and year after year they won...16 championships brought by names that are spoken with reverence around these parts...Cousey, Havlicek, Cowens, Parrish, Mchale, the hick from French Lick-Larry Bird, and a man that defines the overused sports adage Legend...Bill Russell- all under the guiding eye of Red Auerbach. A win was not a win til Red lit his cigar, fire laws would probably have stopped him last night.

I grew up a Celtics fan, hard not to, but after losing my Dad 19 years ago I stopped watching the team, and then there was no reason to watch the team. I had not really watched a Celtics game for all those years of misery until last fall...curiosity drew me back and 62 wins kept me watching. Sean Grandy, the voice of the Celtics, would remind listeners each game, "this is not a dream...it is all really happening." Sean, it still feels like a dream and now we have come full circle. The Celtics are revisiting their past..they are meeting their fiercest and most glamorous rival, the LA Lakers in the NBA finals. The NBA and the networks are jumping for joy...but the real joy is in the hearts of those of us who have survived the long off season for Boston basketball. It is June and the Celtics are playing basketball-the world is back on track.

That old pigeon filled building is gone,in its place a building that has had a few too many corporate names but is now called The Garden once again...that may have helped turn things. Bird and Magic won't be running up and down the court, but trust me their presence will be recognized on both floors. Red Auerbach, the man who personified this dynasty, is also gone, though there can be no doubt he is watching this team,always his team. The Celtic fans in my life are gone as well, oh how they would have loved Kevin Garnett. I may not be able to sit and cheer well after my bedtime with Daddy and my brother this time around, but I am a Celtic fan again and I will bleed Green for all of us and chant with a smile filled with memories of special days...BEAT LA!