Red Sox, Celtics and Pride Week in Boston

Jason Collins spent time last season with the Boston Celtics (and he might be back next season) before he came out in a now famous Sports Illustrated story.  Last night Collins helped the Red Sox celebrate Pride Night by throwing out the first pitch to Manager John Farrell.  It should be noted that managers rarely do this.

The Boston Globe ran this story from the Associate Press

The 7-foot center was greeted with a nice applause when the PA announcer read the opening of the SI article: ‘‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’’

Wearing a Red Sox jersey with the No. 98 on the back, Collins threw out the first pitch to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz feels everyone should support each other based on how they act.

‘‘Nobody knows what is perfect and what is not,’’ Ortiz said, sitting at his locker about three hours before the game. ‘‘If you are respectful and you do what you’re supposed to do, it doesn’t matter what you are and what you come from, people should respect you and love you the same way.’’

Collins wears 98 on his jerseys to honor Matthew Shepard who was killed in 1998, a decision welcomed by Shepard’s parents.

2015 Pride Night at Fenway

2015 Pride Night at Fenway

Hey Danny and Doc, bring him back to the Celtics!

By the way, the Sox won on a walk-off 3 run homer by – David Ortiz.

Photograph Jim Davis/Globe Staff

One year in Boston

OK.  So maybe we are a little self-absorbed right now what with congratulating each other on how well we survived and how much money we have raised for the victims.  The police are at all the events (Sox, Bruins, etc.) being honored.  And maybe everyone is laughing at us for letting the entire City be locked down for an entire day, but it worked for us.  I can’t imagine it happening in New York or LA or Philly.  Maybe San Francisco.  But Boston is pretty connected and compact and if you shut down the public transit, it gets difficult for many people to move around.  I’m sure someone will do a study on why Bostonians pretty universally listened to Governor Deval Patrick.  I wasn’t even in town and I got an alert voice mail.  Maybe it went on too long, but that’s a judgement call and after the fact.  I have read that the “shelter in place” order was lifted on suggestion from President Obama – which might be true, but I’m not sure at this point.  There are still a lot of rumors flying around and as with Newtown, Sandy, and all the other horrific events, we will know the real story months and even years from now.

I was happy to see Brian McFadden’s take on the situation.

12 Months of Boston

12 Months of Boston

Yes, we are getting back to normal and there will be another Boston Marathon in 2014.  And we will learn the truth about what went on that horrible week.  But for now, the Sox are on a roll, the Bruins are in the playoffs and the Celtics stayed alive for another game.

Snowy Boston – Updated

 

Updated 2-3-2011: 

Here is the new Shaq-o-meter with the addition of Nate Robinson who is buried after yesterday’s snow, sheet, rain mix.

http://www.boston.com/news/weather/graphics/2011_snowfall/?p1=News_links

So how much snow is there?  We have piles at corners.  Snow is taking up a travel lane on many streets where the piles are now extending out into the parking spaces forcing cars to park in the right hand travel lane.  I’m waiting for the day when we have single lane roads and cars yield to each other.  Walking is difficult.  Where the sidewalks are cleared, one can walk, but beware when you have to cross a street.  No wonder people are walking in the streets!

Boston is now at 60.3 inches for the season and counting.  Nothing to do but to have some fun with it all.

We measure the snow level against Shaquille O’Neal.  http://www.boston.com/news/weather/graphics/2011_snowfall/?p1=News_links

In 1995-1996, I think we used Robert Parrish.

And we save our precious parking spaces.  As removed snow takes up more and more space this becomes more and more critical.  Yes, we all know that we technically have 48 hours after the last snowfall before the space saver is in danger of removal and we all know of the person who saves their space long after any trace of snow has disappeared, but right now it is a matter of survival to save the space in front of the house.  It is so bad, I had to tell my sister she had to find somewhere else to stay this weekend because there was no parking for her car.

Boston parking-spot savers

I think this person is cheating because they really didn’t clear the space, but then look at the mound behind the chair.

It is supposed to snow a couple of inches tonight and maybe more next Wednesday.  Shaq is going to be buried before winter ends.

Just like the movies

The Red Sox are really, really bad.  No pitching, no hitting, no defense.  Just losses.  Who would have thought just a week ago that the Sox would go into last night’s game 4-9.  4-9! 

How bad is it?  Look at this from the Boston Globe Extra Bases.  Sox batting with men on base.

0 for 7: Jeremy Hermida

0 for 5: Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro

0 for 3: Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis

0 for 2: Bill Hall, David Ortiz

0 for 1: Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek

That’s everybody on the roster, except for Jacoby Ellsbury and he hasn’t played since April 11. The last player to get a hit with a runner in scoring position was Hermida, who had a three-run double against the Twins on April 14.

As a team this season, the Red Sox are 16 for 99 (.162) with runners in scoring position including 1 for 8 with the bases loaded. Of the 15 home runs the Sox have hit, eight have come with the bases empty.

So what to do?  Put Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron on the DL and bring up Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald.  Reddick we know about, but who is McDonald?  We will soon find out.  Amalie Benjamin writes in the Globe

McDonald, who began the day not on the team’s 40-man roster and the game on the bench, did what the Red Sox have failed to do so often this season. With Jason Varitek having doubled his way ahead of McDonald, the pinch hitter slammed a 2-2 pitch into the seats above the Green Monster, pulling the Red Sox even with the Rangers at 6, inciting that crowd, and helping erase the memory of the nine stolen bases the Sox had given up earlier in the game

And those fans certainly knew his name by the time he came to bat in the ninth, with the bases loaded and two outs. They stood for him then, hoping and praying he could halt Boston’s five-game losing streak, and six-game skid at home. He did. McDonald’s high drive scraped the wall, sending Kevin Youkilis home for a much-needed 7-6 win

Darnell McDonald watches as his pinch-hit, two-run homer sails out of Fenway in the eighth.

Sox win!

Peter Abraham writes in his wrap up in the Globe

There are 100 reasons we all love baseball. Guys like Darnell McDonald and nights like tonight are right up there, aren’t they?McDonald was in a hotel in Boston this afternoon, waiting for a call he wasn’t sure was going to come. But when Jacoby Ellsbury had a painful round of batting practice, he was put on the disabled list and McDonald was summoned.

He joked before the game about being in an undisclosed location and that he had saved his receipts to bill the Red Sox for the snacks he had while waiting.

McDonald came off the bench in the eighth inning to pinch hit for Josh Reddick and cracked a two-run homer to tie the score. Then in the ninth, he delivered a two-out RBI single off the wall with the bases loaded. How cool is that?

His excited teammates — some who barely knew his name — chased him out to left field in their celebration.

McDonald is 31 and the Red Sox are his seventh organization since 2004. A former first-round pick of the Orioles in 1997, he has been kicking around pro ball for 13 years. The Sox invited him to spring training as a minor-league free agent. McDonald pulled an oblique muscle and ended up with only 17 at-bats.

It is just like the movies.  Veteran minor leaguer gets his chance and comes through.  Maybe he’s broken the evil spell on the Sox.

So let’s end this happy story with a this interesting factoid

* The Sox have won 100 of the 123 games Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon have both appeared in.

The realist in me says one win does not a season make.  Can they win again tonight?  And who will Dice-K play replace when he arrives from rehab?

Oh, yeah.  the Celtics also won last night to take a 2-1 lead in their playoff series.

Pitchers and Catchers Report Today

With the aging Celtics fading into an average team and snow on the ground outside my window, it is time to think about the Red Sox.

This was Wiley Miller’s Non Sequitur (which is set in Maine) from February 12.  Truck Day is when the equipment trucks load up at Fenway and head south.  People actually go watch and cheer.

The Boston Globe wrote

Sorry Punxsutawney Phil and your six-more-weeks-of-winter prediction, but if you live in New England and are a fan of Red Sox, a sure sign of spring has arrived — Truck Day!

But today is the day pitchers and catchers report which is yet another sign of spring to come.  A new season is always hopeful with new players and changes.  I understand that the Sox are going to be more defensive this year.  Just another thing to watch for as the season unfolds.

Will Dice-K stay healthy?  Do we have a shortstop?  Can Jacoby play left field?  What will happen to Mike Lowell?  Can Clay learn to pitch?  Will Pap get his groove back?  The answer to these questions and more as the season unfolds, but for now all things are possible.

World Series

So the Phillies are off to a good start and I’ll be pulling for Pedro (the former Red Sox ace) to help the Phillies win tonight.  There is a theory that Sox fans are watching the series hoping that the Phillies can beat the Yankees, that if the Phillies were playing the Angels we wouldn’t care so much.  Could be true.  But as Tony Mazzarotti wrote in today’s Boston Globe

The transformation of Rasheed Wallace is complete, the enemy of the people now serving as the man of the hour. As seamlessly as Wallace has joined the Celtics on the floor this season, he made a similarly fluid entry last night in his first home game at TD Garden.

In Boston, Rasheed now dresses in white.

“I didn’t know if the fans wanted to keep it personal and still call me those names or what,” Wallace mused in the wake of the Celtics’ 92-59 annihilation of the outmanned, overmatched and outclassed Charlotte Bobcats. “It was cool though.”

Cool, indeed. Cool as Wallace entered the game to chants of Sheeeeeeeeeeeeed with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, cool as Wallace drilled his first two shots, both 3–pointers, helping the Celtics build a 22-11 lead in the opening quarter. Cool even as Wallace dressed in front of his locker following the game, when he donned a black sweat jacket bearing the name and logo of the Philadelphia Phillies, as sure a sign as any that he has embraced Boston as firmly as Boston already has embraced him.

‘Sheed, it seems, plays by the same rules many of you do. If he is not necessarily rooting for the Red Sox, he is at least rooting for whoever is playing the Yankees.

The Celtics, by the way, are 2-0.

So to Red Sox fans, the New York Yankees are still the evil empire.

But why is today October 29 and just the 2nd game of the Series is being played tonight?  The answer is in provided by Tyler Kepner in a New York Times story from last Sunday.  Some of the reasons are:

¶When baseball scheduled the World Baseball Classic for March 2009, the players wanted two more weeks of spring training games after its conclusion. So pushing the Classic later would have further delayed the start of the regular season, and the players would not have been ready if it had started sooner.

¶The calendar did not help. Except for the Sunday night opener, the schedule always begins on a Monday, and the first Monday of April 2009 was the sixth. Teams do not want to start the season with a weekend series, because they already draw well on weekends. Opening on a Monday allows teams to sell out a weekday game that would otherwise be a hard sell.

¶The idea of starting the regular season in late March and playing only in warm-weather cities and domes is considered too problematic to be realistic. If both teams in New York and Chicago open on the road, that means overlapping home dates later. And the teams in warm-weather cities and domes would complain about losing dates for later in the season, when they can sell more tickets than they can in late March and early April.

¶The idea of shortening the regular season from 162 games is unrealistic, because teams would not willingly give away moneymaking home dates.

So you have a combination of greed and the quirks of the calendar that will have fans in New York and Philadelphia freezing in their seats.  And another thing:  Why no day games?

Rafael Nadal as a role model for young athletes

I’ve just come back from visiting my mother a 90 year old tennis fanantic.  I picked up last week’s New York Times Magazine and there, on the cover, is Rafael Nadal, the curremt number one in men’s tennis and as well as the current heartthrob for women.  I look at Nadal and Federer as Borg and McEnroe:  Borg was the pin-up but they could both play tennis.

What really stood out for me in the Times article by Cynthia Gorney is the discussion of Rafael Nadal’s character. Like many professional tennis players,  he has little formal education but he is educated in ways that are perhaps more important.

He signs the balls and the bare arms and the T-shirts. He rumples small boys’ hair. He waits while people press up alongside him to pose for snapshots. The Nadal personality stories that circulate among tournament fans are all variations on a single theme: the young man is educado, as they say in Spanish, not so much educated in the formal sense (Nadal left conventional schooling after he turned pro at 15), but courteous, respectful, raised by a family with its priorities in order. Nadal may have the on-court demeanor of a hit man, as far as the party across the net is concerned, but you will never see this champion hurl his racket during a match.

Nadal is coached by his uncle, Toni Nadal,  and still lives in Majorca in a small town surrounded by relatives.

“It’s about respect,” Toni told me. “It’s really easy for these guys to start thinking the world revolves around them. I never could have tolerated it if Rafael had become a good player and a bad example of a human being. I was at a symposium recently and a trainer said to me, ‘Look, if you ask a young player’s father which he’d rather get at the end of this process — a courteous person or the French Open champion — you know what that father is going to say.’ And I said: ‘No, that’s all wrong. Because if that player is brought up courteous, brought up as a respectful person, he’s got a better chance to reach the championship of the French Open — because it’s going to be easier for him to accomplish the hard work.’ ”

This is what is missing in someone like Kobe Bryant  who appears to think that live evolves around him.  It is not missing – although I think it came close to be missing – in Paul Pierce.  People talk about the current Red Sox team and call people like Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia boring, but they appear to have the sense of self that is missing in so many “stars”. 

Rafael Nadal spent three year ranked second in the world with only Roger Federer ahead of him. 

Nadal was a phenomenal No. 2. His No. 2-ness was heroic and inspirational, and he was known to mention it quite cheerfully in press conferences: “I’m not the best, but I am a very good No. 2 in the world.”

The world needs more of this kind of attitude from both the talented kids – and from their parents.