400 home runs.
No concern for any jinx here.
David Ortiz will soon become the sixth player to hit his 400th career home run while wearing a Red Sox uniform. Too bad his most memorable home run doesn't even count toward that total:
There are some clips you can never watch enough.
Ortiz burns as the brightest spot in an otherwise all-too-tepid and mediocre 2012 Red Sox season. He came to spring training lighter, leaner and meaner and has been slapping the ball ever since. He's no longer too proud to hit away from the shift and is gotten aggressive with lefties. He's swinging the most-powerful and consistent bat in the Red Sox lineup this season (21 home runs, 53 RBI, .308 average and an all-important 1.020 OPS after 75 games). Ortiz is posting these numbers at age 36 during a period of wide-spread PED testing - which makes them that much more impressive. Ortiz is on the ultimate performance-enhancing substance this season - a one-year contract.
Redemption. With his reported positive test for a banned substance in 2003, Ortiz will have to battle the steroid era asterisk when it comes time to talk Hall of Fame. Every home run will always carry some form of tiny doubt. But batters weren't the only ones who presumably used back in the day (even if they were acquitted of federal perjury charges). The entire game was being played on a warped scale and still Ortiz soared above his competition - especially in the clutch.
Oritz has a mostly-love-but-sometimes-hate relationship with fans. He's never spit at the Fenway Faithful, like Ted Williams did. But he has consistently complained about the "drama" involved playing for the Red Sox. Last week, Ortiz referred to Boston as being close to the "(expletive)hole that it used to be." It's that same "drama" propelling those Fenway "sellouts" and generating the revenue that allows his employers to pay him $14.58 million to do nothing but hit and play first base in National League ballparks. Last October, at the low-point of Chicken and Beer, Ortiz committed the nearly unforgivable sin of admitting he thought about playing for the Yankees because there was "too much drama" in Boston.
There's never any drama in New York.
Ortiz remains a rarity in Red Sox Lore - a non-white player who is widely viewed as the face of the franchise. He's joins Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn and Pedro Martinez on that wicked short list. It adds just another layer to his historic impact on the Red Sox franchise. Ortiz embodies many of the qualities we've always demanded of stars on the Red Sox - clutch performance, leadership, openness (sometimes to a fault), a willingness to accept blame and, most importantly, a dynamic personality. He does all the right things in the community and says what fans and teammates want and need to hear. This season, more importantly, he's kept the Red Sox a viable offense threat (the team is 2nd in the majors with 397 runs after 76 games) with the likes of Brent Lillibridge, Darnell McDonald, Scott Podsednik and Che-Hsuan Lin at various times in the starting lineup.
His players-only team-meeting of May 11 has been widely credited with sparking the Red Sox second turnaround of the season. And lost in the April weekend scarred by that historic 15-9 loss to the Yankees on April 21 when the Red Sox blew a nine-run lead, was this simple message tweeted after the Red Sox game the next night was mercifully rained out:
Stuck at the airport trying to go to Minnesota ....... It's don't matter we are the sox!!!!!! New england city of hope!!!!We will be back!!— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) April 23, 2012
Geographical glitch aside, it was a glimpse of hope amid a flood of hopelessness. The mark of a leader in 140 characters or less.
And there was this prediction sent hours before the Red Sox beat Justin Verlander on May 29:
Good day to get over 500!!!!See you guys at Fenway ....go sox...34— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) May 29, 2012
Profiles in courage - 2012 edition.
Ortiz's production this season has led to reasoned speculation that he might be around to hit No. 500 in a Red Sox uniform. My Red Sox psyche has enough trouble dealing with life after Labor Day, never mind into 2015. The biggest threat to Ortiz this season could be the return of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury to the lineup. With Ellsbury on base and Crawford in the on-deck circle, walking Ortiz will be looking better and better as his numbers get higher and higher. But those are lofty goals and speculative concerns most Red Sox fans will be happy to wrestle with.
2012 is becoming one long farewell tour in Boston - Jason Varitek, Tim Thomas, Tim Wakefield, possibly Ray Allen. Ortiz isn't going anywhere - at least until the final out to the World Series. It's poetically fitting that Ortiz is the final hold-over from the 2004 team since 341 of his first 399 career home runs came in a Red Sox uniform. Whether No. 450 comes with Boston, Tampa Bay or Anaheim, Ortiz and the Red Sox are forever linked.
As it should be.
As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
The debate over whether or not President Obama was "booed" or "Youuuuked" in Boston Monday night continues to rage. The answer probably depends on whether or not your ears are Red or Blue. This foolishness reinforces the long-standing position of this blog that sports and politics just don't mix, or mix well. Hard to determine what was more absurd: The president coming to Boston and poking at Red Sox fans when their team is in last place and his spokesman trying to spin that into a plus? Or Mitt Romney's campaign suggesting Obama should have congratulated the Red Sox for winning the 2004 and 2007 World Series? Red Sox fans stopped congratulating the Red Sox for winning the 2004 and 2007 World Series as soon as the team lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay F. Rays in 2008.
If the campaigns really want to appeal to fans, they should substitute Thomas and Ray Allen for Romney and Obama in the second presidential debate. Allen could definitely help Obama in Florida. Toss in Rachel Maddow and Glenn Beck as moderators and watch the carnage. It could be better than UFC 148.
Athletes who talk politics and politicians who use sports to try and connect with voters as fans all too often swing and miss. Athletes offer their political views to appear intelligent and broad-minded. Politicians on all sides of the aisle fumble the ball trying connect with voters by dropping sports references to sound like they're in touch. Having the Super Bowl, World Series or Olympic champs on the White House lawn is a slam dunk since everybody loves a winner. But too many times pols look awkward when they go jockular. The results usually range from uncomfortable to downright hilarious.
Often sports precede politics. Before becoming governor and president, George W. Bush owned the Texas Rangers and fired Manager Bobby Valentine. John Henry might end up following in Bush's footsteps without ever running for office.
We don't do politics here, but we'll mock and ridicule politicians whenever they try and muscle in our turf. We're always looking for an excuse to roll out some of these all-time classics. They're posted in no particular order - after this all-time classic "inonic" moment of Boston's Mayor Menino recalling Super Bowl champion Adam Varitek:
And lest we forget "KJ" and "Hondo":
Hizzoner once labeled Tom Brady's two favorite targets as “Rob Grabowski” and “Wes Wreckler” and tabbed the NBA commissioner "Donald Sterns":
Texas governor Rick Perry helped Tebowmania "jump the shark" during one of the Iowa GOP debates when he vowed to overcome his low standings in the polls by calling himself the "Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses":
That made Romney the Eli Manning of the GOP nomination process. In his closing statement during that same debate, Perry quoted a famous NFL player "whose name doesn't come to mind," who apparently said: "If you don't get your tail kicked every now and then, you're not playing at a high enough level." Bill Belichick would be proud.
Vice President Biden had two turnovers on the same play when during a Bay Area appearance he had the San Francisco Giants "on their way to the the Super Bowl" a few days before the San Francisco 49ers played the New York Giants in the NFC championship game.
There was the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's classic intro of home run kings "Mike McGwire" and "Sammy Sooser":
Sen. John Kerry's outspoken admiration of Red Sox slugger "Manny Ortez" (who hit 84 home runs in 2004 and eventually tested positive several times for PEDs) remains an essential part of Red Sox lore. Kerry also renamed "Lambert Field" in Wisconsin and lauded the home-state "Buckeyes" in Michigan while running for president. It didn't hurt as he carried both states in the 2004 election.
During a 2007 GOP debate, Romney recalled the decades of misery endured by Red Sox fans between World Series titles in 1918 and 2004:
The 2010 campaign for the U.S. senate, brought us Martha Coakley's accusation that Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan. She never said anything about his ability to blow $75 million of the state's money in Rhode Island and live to tell about it.
Several of the Democrats who were hoping to unseat Scott Brown struggled to answer the simple question of "In what years did the Red Sox win the World Series in this century?" We do get our correct answer in about 41 seconds thanks to Jim King:
While Obama was firm in his White Sox knowledge this week, both nominees dropped the ball making football analogies in 2008 during stops in Pennsylvania. John McCain subbed in the Steelers for the Packers during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh while recalling an oft-told story about his days as a POW. McCain apparently altered his story to suit a pro-Steelers crowd. A couple of months later, then-Senator Obama called Penn State the "Nittaly Lions":
If only that was the worst thing to call Penn State these days.
At least Obama knows his baseball, if not his crowd. The Youkilis deal was a bargain-basement swipe for the White Sox. No one heard the President lament the loss of Zach Stewart or fret about the "Curse of Brent Lillibridge."
The same can't be said of five-year-old Corban DeWitt, who was a little upset when he heard the news that Lillibridge was headed to Boston.
Hard to blame him. Red Sox fans react the same way when they realize Carl Crawford is under contract through 2017 and John Lackey is making $15.2 million this season and has the Red Sox on the hook for another two years.
And if you need more reason to cry - we're still 132 days away from the election.
As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at email@example.com. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
Here's a parting shot of Boston's Kevin Youkilis - who was traded to the White Sox Sunday - courtesy of Rick Porcello:
For the record, Youk's bull-rush and helmet-toss in 2009 earned him a five-game suspension. He should have been awarded a five-minute major and a free dinner at the "99 Restaurant."
The Red Sox got next to nothing in return for Youkilis, but he gave the team plenty during his nine seasons in Boston. Youk won two World Series rings while wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform. Only seven other people born in the 20th century can make that claim. Youkilis played all-out most of the time. His aggressive play took its toll on his body and the opposition. His reputation emerged relatively unscathed from 2011's carnage, only to find itself on the wrong side of the new boss early in 2012.
Since we can't blame this one on Gisele, Tim Thomas or Wes Welker, we'll just offer Julie Brady's husband good wishes and our hearty gratitude for his service to the Red Sox.
The final clip of Youkilis in a Red Sox uniform shows him walking off the field following his triple, complete with a dirt-stain on the seat of his pants. The cries of "Yoooouuuuuukkkkk," the standing ovation delivered by the home crowd and the hugs from his teammates were instantaneously classic:
Indeed, Dustin. That is how things are done around here.
Youkilis' next standing ovation is scheduled for Monday, July 16, when the White Sox visit Fenway Park.
Often, Youkilis' flair for the dramatic leaned on the melodramatic. Bobby Valentine questioned the legitimacy of Youkilis' heart and hustle a coupe of weeks into the season by claiming "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason." Youkilis' response: "The only time there has ever been a question is because I've been too emotional." Valentine apologized but the damage was done. The post-strikeout, angst-filled, bat glances were annoying. No, Kevin, it wasn't the bat's fault you missed that curveball.
And that batting stance. Kids, don't try this at home:
A three-time All-Star, Youkilis' overall athletic skill was rarely recognized or appreciated given its rarity on Yawkey Way. His ability to seamlessly move between third and first base was once considered an invaluable asset. It allowed the Red Sox to drive up the Yankees' price on Mark Teixeira and trade for Adrian Gonzalez (that may be good or bad). This is not Youkilis' baseball obituary, even if being sent to the South Side of Chicago can feel like a sentence to purgatory.
Beyond the tributes, Youkilis' exit is the first short sale in a rapidly collapsing market called the Red Sox roster.
How much will Boston have to pay to get rid of Josh Beckett? As much as possible. Any takers for Carl Crawford, Dice-K or Gonzalez? Didn't think so.
The Red Sox have never really gotten the whole "buy low, sell high" thing. Ideally, players should be dealt at close-to-peak value, not after they've been struggling with injuries for four years (Youk hasn't played more than 140 games since 2008), sent to the doghouse or left without a spot in the lineup even when they can play three or four positions (counting DH). This was a case of "buy low, sell after eating $5.5 million of the $6.6 million left on his contract." It's amazing it took Ben so long to move Youkilis. Sorry Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge, but the Red Sox shipped Youk to Chicago for a bag of Whiffle Balls.
The Red Sox don't have a single player - and yes, that includes Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury, who should be untouchable. Middlebrooks is hot, the third-baseman of the future. Nothing but upside. In other words, the type of player you need to move in order to land a Felix Hernandez.
How about a three-way deal with the Mariners and White Sox?
As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
They will delight sellout after sellout with deep bombs and clutch hits. This week's three-game sweep of the Marlins - who sleep with the fish in the National League East - demonstrated that. Global warming, meet Miami's bullpen Will Middlebrooks is just getting started. Thursday night's rampage was another preview of coming attractions. Meanwhile, Julie Brady's husband has earned himself a starring role in "Expendables II." The once-mighty Kevin Youkilis is hitting .225 in 41 games 13 RBI. Ben reportedly continues to work the phones and, sources say, the Red Sox are willing to eat most of the $6.89 million left on his deal. That's right - John Henry will pay you to take Youk off his hands. At least LeBron has guaranteed Henry's empire one championship this year.
Back to the good news. David Ortiz hasn't stopped all season. His bat has been the most consistent weapon the Red Sox have this side of their marketing department. The Red Sox have gotten minimal production from Adrian "Can't Get Much Worse" Gonzalez and nothing from the injured Jacoby Ellsbury or Carl Crawford. Upside potential all.
But we've also seen this screenplay before. It was all the rage last summer, when the Red Sox roared through May, June and July before peaking in August. And this team is six-games off last year's pace. The Red Sox starting pitching takes two months to find its stride, performs to expectation for a couple of months and then falls apart just in time to miss the postseason.
The 2012 Red Sox are fundamentally the same team that cracked in the mildly cool air of September 2011. The managerial change has had predictably little impact. Talk about a fractured clubhouse is a sideshow act. Every time time you hear "team chemistry" used an excuse for bad play on the field, just think of the 1977 Yankees. The Heat were at each other's throats about a month ago, too. Sure they will be able to put aside their differences long enough to participate in their championship parade once it stops raining in South Florida. The Red Sox imploded last year because they were not physically and mentally up to winning enough games over a 162-game season needed to make the playoffs.
Nothing has changed concerning the fundamental hole in these Red Sox - their starting pitching - as opposed to all their other flaws. Three mediocre outings by Dice-K - who physically appears to be doing well considering he's just a year off Tommy John surgery - will not make the Red Sox a legit playoff contender. It's almost impossible NOT to be in the race for the second wildcard and anything can happen in a one-game playoff at Tropicana Field or U.S Celluar Field. But the Red Sox are a long way away from being able to match up with any division winner in a five or seven-game series. It's going to come down to one of those wildcard spots for Boston - the division will be out of reach by the All-Star Break if current trends continue.
At least the Red Sox will be fun to watch now that it's summer. Lucky for Red Sox fans, fall is three months away.
The 2012 U.S. Open was remarkable in its unremarkable play. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were still alive at 7 p.m. but that's only because this tournament was being played in the Pacific Time Zone. Jim Furyk set back the cause of "5-Hour Energy" about 10 years by crumbling down the stretch. And Graeme McDowell's bid for an 18-hole playoff rolled wide left. It was pretty easy to embrace 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who's still wearing braces. Otherwise, it was a major catastrophe unless you like rooting for the course.
Webb Simpson was the last man sitting (in the clubhouse along with his wife) and emerged as the victor. But the highlight of the tournament came during Bob Costas' post-game interview when this British Birdman showed up not far from Alcatraz at The Olympic Club in San Francisco and offered a bird call for the ages. Union Jack, er, jerk.
Simpson took it in stride. He dropped a nice "enjoy the jail cell, pal" farewell after this wacky birdbrain was carted off.
Well played, Webb.
Theo Epstein's last-place Cubs beat Theo Epstein's last-place Red Sox 3-0 Friday at Wrigley Field. Ruined a perfectly good Friday afternoon. Two more games, both on national TV this weekend, coming up.
Dan Duquette's Orioles took the field Friday night for a shot at first place.
A year ago on Father's Day, the Bruins paraded the Stanley Cup into Fenway Park with all the splendor of the Allies marching into Paris. And like Europe after World War II, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Boston sports scene. The Bruins, Celtics and Patriots have all since reached the postseason and enjoyed various levels of success, if not leadership stability. The Red Sox, however, are giving Greece a run for its money when it comes to chaos and turmoil.
The Red Sox remain leaderless, clueless and are fast making 2012 pointless. Theo went out of his way this week to again shift the blame for the Red Sox 1,335-day playoff victory drought on "the Monster" or other demonic forces who also go by the name of Larry, Caroline and Wally.
Theo often gets too much credit for the Red Sox success in 2004 and 2007 and not enough of the blame and/or responsibility for the team's struggles since. He signed David Ortiz when some folks still knew him as David Arias, hustled to reel-in Curt Schilling (sorry Rhode Island taxpayers) in the wreckage or 2003 and showed major grit and baseballs pulling off the Nomar trade. His drafting skills (Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz among others) put Bill Belichick and Danny Ainge to shame. He gets half the applause/jeers for Josh Beckett since Jed and Ben made the trade that brought Beckett, Mike Lowell and that second 21st century ring to Boston. Theo did begrudgingly (as he would tell it) use John Henry money's to re-sign Beckett twice. By the way, Beckett has been scratched from Saturday's start because of shoulder inflammation. Look for him on the back-nine at Medinah sometime around noon.
Beckett aside, Theo's list of mega-flops would make the producers of "John Carter." "Heaven's Gate" and "Battleship" blush.
And coming to a big screen near you, Adrian Gonzalez. Among the players the Red Sox gave up for Gonzalez is Anthony Rizzo, who is back with Epstein and Jed Hoyer in the Cubs organization. After his first 60 games in Iowa this season, Rizzo had 22 HR and 57 RBI while batting .367 and led Class AAA in slugging (.753) and OPS (1.182). Malpractice suit anyone?
Rizzo could be this generation's Jeff Bagwell if the Cubs ever decide to call him up.
Theo would have us believe he was pressured into spending all that money foolishly by ownership and/or other forces that were only worried about pleasing the "Pink Hats" and NESN sponsors. Theo hasn't been in Chicago long enough to do much damage. He never planned to stay at Fenway forever and when he left that age-old complaint surfaced, through others of course, that poor little Theo didn't have time in nasty old Beantown to enjoy simple things in life like dinner with his family. Again, maybe he can have lunch with Steve Bartman after the Cubs win the World Series in 3004.
Theo's "the Devil made me do it" excuse for the Red Sox bloated and inefficient payroll screams loud and clear the reason why this team continues to go nowhere at full speed. The Red Sox are the same team that fell apart at the end of last season. Theo's fingerprints are all over the place at 4 Yawkey Way. And you know he just loved injecting himself back into the debate when he joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Felger and Mazz and WEEI's Dennis and Callahan this week. His passive-aggressive ego wouldn't have it any other way.
The new Red Sox manager, you know the one who was the biggest story in the offseason, has been relegated to a cameo role in this season's slow fade into obscurity. Bobby Valentine isn't the problem or the solution. That sentiment hasn't changed since Valentine was hired last fall. Not even Billy Martin in his prime could motivate this bunch.
Unmotivated on the field, the Red Sox are fast becoming dull to watch. Anger is fading into apathy. The countdown to Patriots vs. Titans (Sept. 9, 1 p.m. CBS) ticks louder with each lackluster affair. It's only a matter of time before Kevin Youkilis' slump can be officially linked to his marriage to Julie Brady. The Red Sox may trade Tom's brother-in-law to put him out of our misery. The Curse of Gisele is becoming a family affair.
Friday's loss was the first time Boston was shut out by the Cubs since the 1918 World Series (Correction: That series was played at Comiskey Park and not the current Wrigley Field as noted earlier). That Boston championship was followed by the Great Influenza Pandemic. Red Sox fever in 2012 is not quite as contagious. But it may just bore you to death. Dice-K, making his second start since Tommy John surgery, pitched just well enough to lose. Again. Three walks in the first inning. Theo's $103 million investment appears to be returning to form. At the same time, Theo wants a pass because he wasn't given enough freedom from ownership to develop players. If the Red Sox were so opposed to player development, how did Pedroia, Ellsbury, Buchholz and the rest of those players we laud Theo for drafting make it to the majors before being traded?
Theo spent the week hinting he was opposed to deals like the Gonzalez trade because the Red Sox needed the occasional bridge year to develop talent like Rizzo. First off, the Red Sox have had four bridge years since 2007, including 2011 - which was known as the "Jump off the Tobin Bridge Year."
Check out Theo from the day of the Gonzalez trade.
"He's one of very best hitters in the game, left-handed hitter, tremendous ability to control the strike zone, hit for power, power to all fields. His natural stroke is to the opposite field, which is a great fit for our ballpark. He hits the ball the other way, so he'll be using the wall, and we think he'll wear the wall out going from [pitcher-friendly] Petco [Park] to Fenway Park." - Theo Epstein, Dec. 7, 2010
Hardly sounds like someone who was coerced.
He was either insincere then or untruthful now.
Tom Brady's "Wicked Accent" video grabbed more than 1,202,000 views on "Funny or Die" and rated a very strong "Funny."
Now, self-proclaimed "superfan" Mike Mitchell brings us the behind-the-scenes-look at how the video was made in the clip above. He vows to protect Brady from "weirdo" fans and shows no shame in proclaiming mancrush on the Patriots quarterback.
Behind the scenes or in front of the camera, Brady shows his subdued sense of humor.
Here's the clip that started it all:
Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka is back after a year on the shelf recovering from Tommy John surgery. Word in Japan has it that he's undergone a remarkable transformation and is ready for some superhuman feats. At least that's according to the tall tales offered in this Nike ad posted on You Tube as part of its #NEWMATSUZAKA campaign.
Dice-K gave up four runs and five hits over five innings in his first start on Saturday, striking out eight and walking one against the Nationals. Lucky for these kids it was probably way past their bedtime Saturday night and/or well before they woke up Sunday morning. Those numbers are hardly the stuff of legends. But then again, Bryce Harper was born on Krypton.
"The Curse of the Bambino" began on Dec. 26, 1919 and lasted 84 years, 10 months and 1 day.
"The Curse of the Andino" sprung to life in the wee minutes of Sept. 29, 2011. Its next scheduled appearance is scheduled for Aug. 14, weather permitting.
"The Curse of the Perkino" enters stage three Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on ABC when Oklahoma City faces Miami in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Much deserved praise has been heaped upon the Celtics for their performance these past eight weeks. Now comes the painful recriminations of what should have been. Celtics fans went through this last year at this time. Yes, there may be nothing constructive to be gained from this exercise in re-hashing history. But sometimes, you just have to get this stuff out of your system.
"The Perkins Trade" has reached improper-noun status in Celtic Nation. For the record, Danny Ainge swapped Kendrick Perkins (along with Nate Robinson) for Jeff Green and the legendary Nenad Krstic on Feb. 24, 2011. In the wake of Boston's second-straight elimination by Miami and the rise of Oklahoma City to the finals, this deal has solidified its hold on top of any "Worst-Ever Celtics Trade" list. It definitely hurts the worst right now. Anytime you call something the "best" or "worst" it's open to debate. Maybe Danny Ainge can move Rajon Rondo for Larry Andersen or Danny Cater to dislodge himself from first place.FULL ENTRY
For 40 minutes Saturday night the Celtics played like champions.
Then time stopped - for Boston, at least.
The Heat just kept going - all the way to Oklahoma City. Good news, you can get your Thunder "Beat the Heat" t-shirts now, somewhere.
And when the Celtics were able to maintain an offense in their Game 7 101-88 loss in Miami, the Heat used Shane "Dead-Eye" Battier and Chris "Downtown" Bosh to stay in the game before LeBron James and D-Wade took over and shut the door on the Celtics "Impossible Dream" season.
In case you were wondering: It's Patriots at Titans, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. on CBS.FULL ENTRY
You're kidding me right? Really NBA? twitter.com/Toucherandrich…— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) June 9, 2012
The NBA had Oklahoma City Thunder "Beat the Heat" t-shirts (called a "Beat LA shirt on the site's headline) for sale on its website for a brief time Friday. This frame grab, tweeted by "Toucher and Rich" of 98.5 The Sports Hub, shows that someone at NBA Central has the Heat ticketed for the NBA Finals against the Western Conference champs.
One problem, Heat and Celtics play Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals Saturday night in Miami.
For those who think that Donald Sterns has put the fix in, these shirts might just be the conspiratorial proof needed. The link to the page shown on this frame was taken down about 30 minutes after it began to make the rounds on Twitter.
If that wasn't enough to make your Green blood boil - check out this frame grab of NBA.com's lead page from Friday night:
The headline of the lead column on the site by Shaun A. Powell reads: "'Please, please pretty please.' Sorry, Celtics fans, but a Heat-Thunder clash in the NBA Finals would be heaven for true hoops fans." Get it, only "true" hoops fans root for the Heat. In this nauseating piece of puff, Powell writes: "If the Heat win Saturday, basketball wins." It's not like the game needs discipline, defense and the ability to hit free-throws, never mind sound coaching.
As if a team like the Celtics, with three certain Hall of Famers (we'll check on Rondo in 10 years), needed bulletin board material, here it is. Now they just have to make sure those shirts are not back on sale again Saturday night.
It brought back the good old Boston "Beat L.A." chants of the 1980s. Never mind 2008 or 2010. The aged warriors get a sendoff for the ages. We own that, as much as we're owned by the one clown who decided to nail LeBron with a beverage after Game 6 against the Miami Heat. It couldn't have been Paul Pierce since he couldn't hit anything all night:
Lesson No. 4 For Sports Fans: "You don't beer a guy who just dropped 45 points on you in an elimination game. Even if he's LeBron James."
After acknowledging that single Masshole and taking responsibility for him, it's time to laud those who stuck around for that massive display of class. What happened at the Garden after Game 6 was spectacular. It was "good job, good effort" on a much larger and all-grown-up scale. It was also a nice emotional insurance policy just in case this was the last Garden appearance for all four of The Stones.
We'll know late Saturday night whether "Let's Go, Celtics" also means it's time for the Celtics Nation to begin a new epoch.
More pressing, it was definitely an early wake-up call for Game 7. The Celtics need to move early and often Saturday night. The "energy crisis" that kept them paralyzed while James wrecked the place cannot return for 48 seconds, never mind 48 minutes. "Pack for a Week" was written on the Celtics whiteboard and Doc Rivers said the team was bringing suits for Tuesday and Thursday as well as Saturday. The Celtics are thus prepared for a trip to Oklahoma City or week of heavy R&R on the South Beach club scene. We can only hope John Henry's pal and business partner LeBron will have plenty of free time on his hands and can throw out the first pitch in the opener when the Red Sox come to Miami on Monday.
Pierce, in the words of Steve McCloskey, picked the wrong time to give up scoring Thursday. Missing 14 of his 18 shots. He was an equal-opportunity offender, clanging three-pointers and flailing on layups. Not sure who had a worse Thursday - Chad Ochocinco, Curt Schilling or Pierce? Speaking of Ocho, there was no reason for him to turn in his playbook since he never bothered to pick it up in the first place.
The Celtics were doomed in Game 6 once Clay Buchholz finished his 125-pitch, complete-game shutout sometime in the second half as Boston hit its one athletic-miracle-per-night limit.
While LeBron gave his haters and everyone else a night to remember, Game 6 was a night to forget for Celtics fans, who were the only ones who actually showed up to perform. The Celtics could have used KJ and Hondo. And blaming Donald Sterns and his refs won't work if Boston loses Game 7 - even if Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo foul out in first quarter. Officiating in the NBA is joke at times, but it will be shallow excuse no matter what happens Saturday in South Beach. If the Celtics lose on a blown call, they have only themselves to blame for allowing this series to return to Miami when they had a shot to close it out at home.
This blog picked the Celtics in 7 before the series began. At least I'll be half right. Whether I'm a genius depends on how much Green means "go" Saturday night.
Update at 11 p.m. Wednesday: The real-life "good job, good effort" kid is 9-year-old Jack Meyer of Coral Gables, Fla., who tells the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel that he is a die-hard Heat fan. "For those people who thought I was being sarcastic, you're wrong," Meyer said. "I was being enthusiastic. I was saying the truth. I would never hurt the Heat's feelings like that."The Miami Heat had at least one young fan who was impressed with their loss in Game 5, supporting LeBron & Co. with cries of "good job...good effort" as they walked off the court after losing 94-90 to Boston.
Remember folks, it's only a game.
Especially when you lose.
At least they tried.
"Good job, good effort" may have also been the last words Daniel Bard heard before being shipped down to Pawtucket.
After the game, "Good Effort" was trending on Twitter and the parody account @GoodJobKid had more than 1,000 followers within 45 minutes of his first tweet.
To me this game ended in a tie. Boston and Miami each scored 10,000 hustle points.— Good Job Kid (@goodjobkid) June 6, 2012
Sure we'll be hearing that one at the Garden early and often on Thursday night.
It was freshman orientation week at Marquette University. We walked past several basketball players. A friend nodded toward the future Celtics coach and proclaimed that Rivers was going to get Marquette back to the Final Four. But that didn't occur until another stellar recruit from Chicagoland named Dwayne Wade stepped it up in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
Doc and D-Wade are in the NBA's Final Four this year. There will nothing about secretly rooting for D-Wade because we attended the same college. Especially when he's playing against the Celtics. Never was I so happy to see a Marquette grad miss a shot as I was when Red's Ghost, the Leprechaun and the Curse of LeBron teamed up to swat Wade's final 3-point attempt in Game 4.
It was even a tougher night for all 32 Heat fans in Miami-Dade county. In case you missed it, a riot broke out in South Beach as four Heat fans pulled up to a restaurant and double-parked, but then had to leave because the valet was on break. Or not.
Doc stands as a permanent pillar in Boston's Golden Epoch of Coaching. The three veteran tenured big-league coaches in the Bay State - Claude Julien, Bill Belichick and Rivers - have won rings in their current positions. No other pro market comes close to a pedigree like that, never mind going four-for-four before Tito took two to the back of the head. (After 54 games, Bobby Valentine has kept the fourth/last-place Red Sox interesting if nothing else.)
Sunday night, Belichick, Rivers, Pat Riley and Rajon Rondo were all inside the Garden. Not a bad coach in the bunch. Hard to say who's the best. We know it wasn't Erik Spoelstra. In that crowd, wearing his suit, the Hoodie still stands alone. Don't think Riley could have gone 11-5 with Tom Brady on the bench. And we'll never know how many practices he videotaped. (Yes, I know, but the line was too good not to use.)
Now it's a best-of-three between Boston and Miami. Rivers deserves as many kudos for the success of the Celtics as Belichick or Riley received for their roles in delivering those Super Bowl rings/crafting "Showtime." Riley does get extra credit for trademarking "Three-peat."
Doc's trademark has been steady leadership, an ability to manage super stars, coddle some massive egos and, quietly and without much notice, allow Rondo to become an on-floor assistant coach. Doc brought "Heart and Hustle" to Orlando in his first season as an NBA coach. That motto applies equally to this aged and seemingly ageless Celtics team, even if they appear moving in slow-motion during some of those losses.
Heading into this series, we detailed how the Celtics were "The Stones" in contrast to Miami's "Heatles." Riley and Spoelstra are struggling to find their rhythm without Ringo Bosh banging on the boards. Meanwhile, Doc has kept this broken-down band in perfect harmony, despite cries of injury, age and bad refs.
By the way, we shall hear no more carping about the officials calling fouls to help the Heat.
It may take years for that one to sink in. Sunday's game proved NBA refs are equal-opportunity offenders when it comes to incompetence, not to mention just too damn too old to keep up with the games they are officiating. There's no fix, although plenty needs to be fixed.
Home-court advantage carries atomic weight in the NBA playoffs. But kryptonite is green. South Beach is all about flash, style, flavor and pizzazz. The Heat bring raw talent and youth the Celtics simply can't match. The Celtics counter with a blue-collar swagger Bostonians everywhere love to love.
That's all due to the well-dressed coach and wicked smaht coach in the white collar. Imagine a team with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce "overachieving" and that's what the 2012 Celtics have become. Ask Mike Brown or any Lakers fan, it's not all about the talent. Boston's ability to persevere this spring and outlast its critics (although someone here picked the Celtics in 7) springs from Rivers' seasoned temperament and leadership skills. He never panics and rarely celebrates. He'll call out "Ray," "Kevin" or "Rondo" when needed, but won't throw his players under the bus. No one coaching basketball at any level is as good as Rivers is at drawing up plays on the spot for a last-second situation. Does Spolestra even know how to hold a clipboard?
No matter what happens to the Celtics over the next two or three games, one thing is 100 percent certain. There's no way they'll be out-coached.
Not a chance.
Among the staples of growing up in Boston during the 1970s and '80s was the nightly ritual of watching "Hogan's Heroes" on Channel 38.
Richard Dawson died over the weekend at 79. For many of us, he was first funny British guy we ever saw on TV. Much of the comedy on the show would not survive the political correctness filters and mores of 2012.
Talk about range. Here's "Newkirk" mocking Hilter . . .
. . . and imitating Churchill.
Thanks for your fictional service Corporal Peter Newkirk, and for entertaining us over so many years.
Goalie Tim Thomas un-friended the Bruins on Facebook Sunday.
Before you start feeling the hate, watch this:
Here's some of what Thomas wrote:
"At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F's.
Friends, Family, and Faith.
This is what I plan on doing over the course of the next year."
He worked in a plug for the ARP/POV training system and G-Form protective equipment before ending with:
"What does this portend for the future?
We'll see?...God's will be done.
What if God likes to workout at Planet Fitness and train in Under Armour?
Thomas forgot to mention the fourth "f." That would be the f-bomb he dropped on ownership for even thinking about trying to trade him.
Whether or not you're doubting Thomas' sincerity, his contributions to the Bruins during their 2011 Stanley Cup run have earned him eternal thanks and gratitude from everyone in Bruins Nation - whether you're Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian or 1/32nd Cherokee.
Judging by the reaction of many on Thomas' Facebook page, one might think it was his fault the Bruins went 39 years without a Stanley Cup.
Nope, credit for that one belongs to the all-of-a-sudden sainted Jacobs family and their utter mis-management of the franchise for the first 30-plus years of its stewardship.
The ownership familia who traded Phil Esposito, allowed Bobby Orr skate as a free-agent, forced Ray Bourque into two decades of title-less servitude before granting him asylum in Colorado and let Harry Sinden drive the Zamboni for three decades has found itself on the back end of Thomas' latest whim.
Thomas did something on the ice that Bourque never did - win a Stanley Cup in Boston. Yet there's little chance he'll be remembered with 1/10th the affection given to Bourque. Bourque gave up his number to honor Espo. Thomas called it quits, in part, due to his concern over the current European economic crisis. You decide which sacrifice was greater.
Connecting with "friends, family and faith" might not be Thomas' only motivating factor here.
Bruins ownership, we're to believe, is besides itself for not being able to pay Thomas the remaining $3 million on his contract - as opposed to shipping him off to Ohio or Alberta. Harvard Peter Chiarelli was so dumbstruck at being outfoxed by "Tea Party Timmy" that the Bruins GM forgot to take his phone off "echo" during Friday's conference call that confirmed reports the goalie was indeed thinking of sitting out next season.
Thomas has something that few athletes who ever wore a Bruins jersey have ever possessed and even fewer have used - leverage. When athletes like Thomas or Logan Mankins use that leverage and walk, ownership and fans get ticked off. "Hell, I'd go out there for one-100th that amount and be happy." Of course, you've never played in a Super Bowl with a torn ACL or stopped the Vancouver Canucks cold on their home ice in Game 7.
Thomas is doing what many people would love to do but can't afford - walk off the job until they get what they want from their boss. Columbus, start looking for another goalie.
Playing the "friends, family and faith" card is an easy move. It sure beats being called a "quitter." Not sure what's worse, an athlete who sticks around too long (see Jason Varitek) or someone like Thomas who walks while still under contract. Rarely do athletes exit at the perfect time. It's usually messy. This is no different. Thomas is far from the first "free-spirit" on the Boston sports scene. Bill Lee, Derek Sanderson and Ken Harrelson preceded him by several decades. He's just coming from a different right-field.
Too bad J.D. Drew never tried to re-connect with his "three fs" after that grand slam in 2007. Or how about John Lackey, Carl Crawford or Dice-K giving it a shot? That would have give John Henry more than enough money to re-stock the backfield in Liverpool.
From the Bruins' perspective, Thomas is being selfish and putting himself first. That's exactly what the Bruins' current ownership did while it allowed the old Boston Garden deteriorate into an embarrassing rodent-infested edifice with so many blocked seats its official sponsor was "Obstructed View." Even with a new building, the Jacobs family low-balled its top players for another decade. And it took another five or six years after the wallet cracked before a winner was put on the ice.
Thomas is helping out at least one of his teammates. Tuukka Rask's value increased exponentially with this decision. Tuukka will happily take Thomas to Finland or anywhere else he'd like to go pending the outcome on Nov. 4.
The $5 million "cap hit" dilemma is a smoke screen. Hard to believe there's no way the Bruins would not fight this if Thomas remains a no-show or try to restructure another contract to free up enough money to bring in a big name if needed. If free-agent "A" wants to come to Boston, the Bruins can always work out a "wink-wink, nod-nod" deal that they "re-negotiate" after Thomas' cap space is eventually cleared. Why is the NFL salary cap a joke but the NHL salary cap set in stone like the tax code? And once the Los Angeles Kings wrap up the Stanley Cup, the NHL collective bargaining agreement and everything in it is on the table - no doubt Don Jacobs can work something out with his fellow owners to mitigate Thomas' blow on the books.
Just a couple of weeks after taking the needle against Washington in the first round of the playoffs, the Bruins were named "Sports Team of the Year" for winning the Cup in 2011. Anyone who watched 10 minutes of the 2011 postseason knows that there was no other goalie on the planet at that time who could have done a better job in bringing the Cup back to Boston than Thomas. He is responsible for the 2011 Stanley Cup like Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon were responsible for the 2004 World Series trophy and Adam Vinatieri got a load of credit for the first two if not all three of New England's Super Bowl victories. They all left Boston/Foxborough under-less-than-ideal circumstances.
Strip away the bluster and emotion and every one of those decisions was based on one thing - money.
We don't do politics here, unless we're making fun of athletes trying to be serious about politics or Mayor Menino giving Varitek a Super Bowl ring. Still the best sports political video ever:
The most intense "good riddance" vitriol against Thomas appears to be coming from people who remain upset with his political views and/or his decision to skip the team's visit to the White House. The narrative continues that somehow the team fell apart because Thomas had the nerve to go public with his political views, which were old news to his teammates. We could also use that slightly-flawed logic to explain Ray Allen's lackluster performance during the playoffs on the fact that he addressed a fundraiser for the Commander in Chief last year and has been outspoken (along with Doc Rivers) about his support for the president. Doc and Ray are at odds with Danny Ainge when it comes to the 2012 campaign. But the only "D" that matters for them is "defending D-Wade."
The biggest Washington distractions for Bruins this season were the Capitals ability to score in overtime and the play of Braden Holtby. Thomas was good, not great, in the playoffs and the Bruins are on the back nine instead of gearing up for Game 3 against Los Angeles in part because of that.
After age 38, the only athletes who improve over time are knuckleballers and NASCAR drivers. Goalies, quarterbacks and shooting guards trend in the other direction. There's no denying Thomas slipped between the pipes this season. At times, it appeared his heart wasn't in it. If that's the case, be thankful he's getting out now.
Thomas could give the Bruins at least one more Cup run, if not two. But the Bruins are in great shape if he spends the next 18 months re-connecting to his family, campaigning for Mitt Romney or resting up to play for Team Glenn Beck in the 2014 Olympics. With Rask donning the mask, the Bruins should go at least as far in 2013 as they did in 2012.
So thanks for the memories, Tim.
It's Tuukka time.
Didn't have to.
Rondo stole the ball, he faked out the Heat, drove the lane, played defense, had 10 assists, pushed the tempo. If it was possible for him to play more complete a game than he did in Game 2 he accomplished in Boston's closer-than-it-should-have-been 101-91 victory over the Heat.
Boston, we have a series.
"My goal was to win by any means necessary," Rondo said. "My job is to be the leader out there, to be an extension of Doc."
Rondo, who played 96 minutes in about 51 hours starting Wednesday night, is nowhere close to being tired.
"I feel great," he said. Life is great when you're 26. His rebound and coast-to-coast drive and one with 4:28 to play put Boston up 95-82 gave the Celtics ample cushion to absorb Miami's final burst. Complete coverage.
Rondo's been the unlikeliest of superheroes for Boston ever since his breakdown and ejection in Game 1 against Atlanta. He was somber and succinct after losing Wednesday. Contrast that with the clown show put on by LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, who had no trouble yukking it up wearing their Tom Brady glasses despite failing miserably with the chance to put the Celtics away. Wade can always smile, he already has a ring.
After three games - this series is tied up at 1-1-1-1. Heat 1, Celtics 1, Rondo 1, refs 1. Friday's sweetness makes Game 2's loss just that much more bitter. A month into the playoffs, the Celtics also found their bench.
The Celtics generated offense from some unexpected sources - namely Keyon Dooling, and Marquis Daniels, who left a marquis d' excellence on the Garden floor by gunning, cutting and slashing their way for 16 points. The Celtics were a combined +24 with Dooling and Daniels. Stunning given the invisibility of the bench throughout the playoffs, not just in this series. The play of those two in particular paid dividends beyond the box score, lessening the impact of Miami's defense on the starters.
"I've been here three years," Daniels told Comcast Sports rookie reporter Brian Scalabrine. "I just know to keep moving when he's got the ball."
The raucous Garden crowd, well lubricated and loud long before the 8:30 tip helped move the home team as well.
KG: "Jungle was rockin' tonight. I wanna thank the fans who came out. The ----- Jungle was rocking' tonight. We loved it. We ---- loved it."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 2, 2012
Every member of The Big Four hit double figures, with Paul Pierce (23), Push-Ups Garnett (24) and Rondo (21) combining for 68 points. Truthfully, things could have been even better for the Celtics as Pierce missed 14 of his 21 attempts. Thanks to Rondo's ball movement early the Celtics were able to hammer away inside and finished with 58 points in the paint. The Celtics shot 50 percent (38 for 76) and Garnett hit on 10 of 16. Allen, thankfully, only took eight shots, hitting four, as the offense moved away from him except in those circumstances where he was either wide open or given a clear path to the basket.
The Heat wilted early and were never really in this thing despite the mini-scare in the fourth quarter. Boston's 24-point lead was too much for LeBron to overcome by himself. The Celtics winning this game was no surprise with the home crowd and all that. The big lead and coasting to the finish was not. While the non-call against D-Wade's rake of Rondo was pivotal in Game 2, there were no cries of corrupt officiating or refs taking payoffs from Pat Riley or David Sterleone at halftime. Funny how the fouls are evenly called (44-44) in a game that the Celtics win decisively, if not 100 percent comfortably.
No need for those Tim Donaghy masks - but they could always come in handy Sunday night at the Garden.
"The Green Hornet" and friends vow they'll be ready to defend their turf again in Game 4. NBA playoff series never really begin until the home team loses a game. Let's hope things don't get underway in this one until Tuesday in Miami.