I saw Gisele Bundchen for the first time outside the Patriots locker room after a 2007 game in San Diego. As reporters lined up for access to the players for post game reaction, I heard one writer say, "There she is...Gisele."
Glancing to my left, what I saw was a very normal looking woman, wearing blue jeans and no make up. I thought to myself, "no way." How could this be the world's most famous model? That's the Victoria's Secret girl? She stood alone, no entourage, no body guards. Giselle waited patiently for Tom Brady to emerge from the locker room. Reporters noticed them chatting before Brady boarded the team bus. They waved good-bye, and the rest is history.
For someone worth 300 million dollars, Gisele has managed to keep a low profile as Mrs. Brady. We sometimes see a photo snapped of the couple with their children. Vivian, and Benjamin are Gisele's children with Brady. Jack's mom is actress Bridget Moynhan, and Gisele loves him as her own.
Gisele made some noise as a football wife a few years ago when she stood up to a heckler after the Super Bowl in 2012, You remember, the game when the key pass down the stretch went off Wes Welker's's finger tips. After a Giant's fan taunted her about Brady's incompletion, Gisele shot back, "He can't throw it and catch it!"
The comment caused a firestorm of reaction pro and con. I loved it. It showed devotion, spirit and for lack of a better word, balls. No wonder she's such a great businesswoman. Gisele didn't get to be one of the world's wealthiest women by chance. She's as tough as any football player I've ever met, and I'm sure her husband would agree.
Gisele Bunchden is on the debut cover Porter Magazine. The Spring 2014 issue is "A Celebration of Incredible Women." Gisele lets us into her "private world" in the fourteen page spread. At age 33, she continues to wear lingerie like none other, and the photos are needless to say, amazing.
What interested me was the actual story that went with the photos. It's unusual to hear Gisele open up about her private life. I learned her work ethic came from her mother who worked as a bank cashier while raising Gisele and her five sisters.
"She'd wake up at 6am to make sure we were taken care of," Gisele said. " At the weekends, she woke up at 5 or 6 am. She would spend Saturday washing clothes. I think of her and it gives me strength."
Washing clothes for 6 girls? Gisele's mom deserves a medal of honor.
When speaking of Brady, Gisele says she is "lucky to be married to my best friend." " I am so happy for him, and he so happy for [my success]," she says. It's really about that partnership, that trust. I think that's what makes our relationship strong, that trust."
My favorite part of the article was to learn that Gisele is a "girl's girl."
"I am huge admirer of women, especially these days when women are expected to be everything, and do everything. I like to call them "warriors of love."
Now that's cool. Who wouldn't want to be a warrior of love?
Of course, Gisele doesn't face the same every day battles of many moms. Going to the office every day, or staying home, commuting, shopping, paying the bills, doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework and shlepping the kids to practice and games, is very hard work. It helps to have help.
It was refreshing to learn that the world's most famously photographed woman was humbled the day she became a mother. Like the rest of us, she learned in one beautiful moment how incredibly important her new job was.
" When Benny was born I realized that somebody needed me more than anyone ever had. And my life suddenly became about two lives instead of one. And when Vivi was born we became three. I admire my mother for raising six girls and always working. Being a career woman and a mother is a constant balancing act, but I think of my mother and it shows me I can always work harder. I can always do more."
(Can't tell you how many times I have heard Brady say the same thing about football)
And where does the strength come from?
"From accepting yourself, loving yourself, understanding yourself," Gisele says. " I wish for all women to realize how special and unique they are. That's what I want for my daughter, that's what I want for my kids, that's what I want for myself."
I like what Gisele had to say in this article. So go buy a copy of "Porter." You have to see the pictures.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
It's that time of year. The NFL has gone dark. The torch has been extinguished. March Madness is still weeks away. Opening Day is way down the road, and so are the NBA and NHL playoffs.
No worries. We have the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue to lift our spirits! Well, at least the guys do.
Hey, I get it. For 50 years this publication has helped millions of sports fans escape the winter doldrums. Nothing like hot babes on beautiful beaches to chase away those cold winter blues. Never mind that 99.9% of the male readers would never have a chance with one of these women. It's like looking at a menu at a five star restaurant and not being able to order.
As I flipped through the magazine, I was reminded several times that the anniversary issue is all about celebrating women- and I'm all for that.
I read that Heidi Klum is not only a swimsuit legend, she is also designs clothes, shoes and jewelry. She has become an author, actress, singer, painter and television producer.
That's great. Beauty and brains is a great combination. But I don't need to hear Swimsuit Issue editor MJ Day tell me "Heidi embodies what you hope every girl can achieve."
Please. Heidi also embodies a body most women could never dream of having. I can't imagine telling either of my daughters that they can grow up and be just like Heidi Klum. Especially not with a 5 foot 2 inch mother.
Like any woman of a certain age, it's fun to see how super models "mature." Still gorgeous at 4o, 50 or even 60 is both amazing and inspirational. These gals are blessed with great genes. They obviously take care of themselves, and their beauty should be appreciated whether we are male or female.
The fold out photo of "The Legends" is terrific- and not one of them is wearing a swimsuit!
I am not sure what I make of the "Barbie" tie in. It's a good move by Mattel, but I could do without their full page THANK YOU! which says:
"Here's to women of every generation- for breaking boundaries, living life in their own fashion, and continuing to prove that anything is possible."
Hmmm. One thing that will never be possible for most of us is looking like Barbie.
I did learn that the swimsuits featured on the first 6 pages were actually made to get wet. What an idea! Very practical indeed.
With almost 50% of the pro sport audience being female, I think it's time to level the playing field. Don't the ladies deserve a little eye candy too?
You could argue that Sports Illustrated features photos of sexy guys every week. The difference is they are not professional models striking evocotive poses on exotic beaches. It will be a cold day in Bora Bora before we see a sun bronzed Henrik Lundqvist laying in the the soft surf vamping for the camera.
Women get the winter blues too. Maybe next year Sports Illustrated will have a special section dedicated to the ladies. Lord knows, there are plenty of nice tushies in football uniforms, great abs on diving platforms, and wonderful pectorals on tennis courts. How about those speed skating thighs? Was anyone else wondering how those guys buy jeans with 32 inch waists and 36 inch quads?
It's all fun and playful just like the SI swimsuit issue. Here's hoping the editors will think about it for 2015. After 50 years it's time to mix it up.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
Thoughts while digesting my Super Bowl chili. No beans- always the way to go. Secret ingredient- sweet sausage combined with the ground beef. Lots of cumin seed, easy on the chili pepper. Dijon mustard and a cup of Burgundy wine give it flavor while simmering. (The rest of the red wine goes to the Cook.)
Was this the same Broncos team that booted the Patriots out of the Super Bowl? What does that say for the Patriots defense? I realize Wes Welker took out Aquib Talib, but it had to be more than that. Seattle pulverized Peyton Manning. They were all over him like a cheap suit. (Haven't heard that one for while.) The Patriots defense never came close to putting Peyton into a state of panic.
The NFC West, in particular Seattle and San Francisco are light years better than the cream of the AFC. Defense wins championships and we never saw a better example than Super Bowl XLVIII.
And Richard Sherman was right. Peyton Manning does throw "ducks." He forgot to say "wounded ducks." Manning said post game that he would not use the word "embarrassed." It's too insulting. Well how do "manhandled" and "annihilated" sound?
I have always liked Peyton Manning. He is definitely one of the best regular season quarterbacks ever. His commercials are real and funny. He is humble and talented. Nobody can hate on Peyton Manning.
But how does the same guy that has won five regular season MVP awards, passed for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards this past season look as lame as he did on Sunday? The answer comes in three words- I repeat. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Manning sets records, he wins MVP's, he rolls up numbers. It don't mean a thing if you don't get that bling.
Other Super Bowl notes:
-Wes Welker looked even more like a little kid with that over- sized helmet. (post concussion) I swear a couple of times he couldn't catch the ball because the helmet was slipping down over his eyes.
- The best moves of the night were delivered at halftime by Bruno Mars. That was a show I didn't want to end. The Red Hot Chili Peppers did not look as "hot" even in their bare chests. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. And we won't get into that Janet Jackson nipple thing. Wonder if the Red Hot Chili Peppers would have come out half naked it it were 22 degrees?
- I was happy for Pete Carroll for my own selfish reasons. The day Carroll was fired by the Patriots 14 years ago was one I will never forget as a reporter, as I stood in a frozen Foxboro Stadium parking lot. Carroll emerged from the Patriot's offices, and instead of making a bee line to his car, he walked over to the waiting reporters, the live news vans, and the vast line up of television and still cameras. He shook everyone's hand and said how nice it was to "work with you." He smiled and waved and said "thank you."
Good guys do finish first.
And finally, I got a laugh out of all the tweets and stories coming out of Sochi. American reporters in place to cover the Winter Games could not find a television anywhere to watch the Super Bowl. You think a country that spent 30 billion dollars to put on the Olympics couldn't figure out how to install satelite TV in a few bars and restuarants?
We need Pete Carroll to get over there and let Vladimir Putin try on his ring. Hopefully the Russian President will give it back.
These are the final days when athletes from all over the world are putting the finishing touches on their routines, sharpening their blades, packing up the snowboards, the skis and the bobsleds. These Olympians should be thinking about nothing else but doing their best, representing their countries proudly, and maybe even bringing home a medal. They are doing interviews with local television, print and digital media. And they are all getting the same question.
Will you feel safe going over there?
This is not the time for the best winter athletes in the world to be worrying about terrorism. They should be visualizing the Opening Ceremonies, competing on the world's biggest stage, and perhaps standing on a podium. Instead, they see or hear about the headlines every day that question Olympic security.
Some athletes, like the Bruin's Patrice Bergeron have said that unlike last time in Vancouver, his wife and family are staying home. I am sure Bergeron is not alone.
Now we have learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has installed his security system called the "ring of steel."
I found the "ring" analogy interesting given that the Olympic rings are the true symbol of this event. Now we have a ring of security.
Security personnel will total 100,000 people, including 40,000 police and 30,000 military. Putin said it will also include drones and six anti-missile systems.
That must really make the athletes and visitors feel safe. There is talk of suicide bombers, chemical weapons and a U.S. emergency plan to bring in war ships "just in case" there is need for evacuation.
Six months ago we were all making fun of Putin's ridiculous "anti-gay" legislation. The Russian leader was worried about public displays of homosexual affection as suicide bombers lined up outside a train station in Volograd- a mere 400 miles from Sochi.
I remember the security when I competed in the 76 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. It was the first Games held after the Munich massacre, where Israeli athletes were held hostage and killed inside the Olympic village.
When I arrived at the athletes village with my teamates, it had the appearance of a prison camp. For those who remember the TV show "Hogan's Heroes" I remember somebody saying that it looked like "Stalag 13." There were German shephard dogs pacing around tall brick walls topped with barbed wire. There were Austrian soldiers keeping watch with machine guns on their shoulders.
It wasn't exactly the kind of Olympic memory anyone wants to have.
This is the time for athletes to shine. Unfortunately, the Olympic Games also creates the perfect stage for political and violent theatre. These athletes have come too far, worked too hard, and sweated too much for anyone to spoil their Olympic dream.
Nothing should steal away what these athletes have earned. Let's hope the "ring of steel'' is unnecessary- if not, bullet proof.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
The Cinderella story for the Patriots did not end at midnight. It ended early in the third quarter. When Peyton Manning hit Demaryius Thomas with a three yard pass to make the score 20-3, the party was over. The golden carriage parked outside next to the Patriots buses had turned into a Pumpkin. Such an appropriate color for Denver. A sideline shot that lingered on Bill Belichick was not the picture of a man thinking to himself, "we can do this." The image was of a coach thinking, "this one could be over."
New England has been spoiled all year with miracle comebacks. It almost became routine. This time it felt different. There was plenty of time left, but it was clear who had the better horses. Peyton Manning was not going to fold this time, the Bronco's defense was not going to collapse, and Tom Brady was not going to pull another rabbit out of his helmet.
Plain and simple, the Patriots were undermanned, and overwhelmed. When Wes Welker took out Aqib Talib, the most important player in the the Patriots defensive backfield, the tide turned quickly. If this were basketball, Welker set a perfect pick.
"As it turned out, it was the key play of the game," said Belichick. "He's a key player for us."
Rarely do we see Belichick as sad and sorry as he was after Sunday's game. We have heard many times that he blames the coaching, but this time he really meant it. Belichick's voice cracked several times during his post game news conference as he gave credit to Peyton Manning and the Bronco's. Belichick also talked about how proud he was of his team. And he should be.
For an entire season the Patriots got it done with crazy glue and chicken wire. "Next man in" became their war cry- and it worked, until they got to Denver. Manning had an army of receivers, while Tom Brady did the best with what he had. Which was not much.
When the CBS cameras showed Robert Kraft and son Jonathon sitting with Jon Bon Jovi in the the luxury box, all I could think of was the rock star's most well known song. "Livin' on a Prayer." The only exception being the Patriots were not "half way there." They were never really in it.
Considering the number of wounded soldiers the Patriot lost throughout the season, along with the former teammate sitting in a jail cell, the Patriots gave us plenty to cheer about last season.
Tom Brady, has not lost his fast ball- he just didn't have it on Sunday. To me, (as a mother talking) he looked like he still had a touch of the flu. He was pale and his eyes were red. He looked sick. No excuses, I know.
Watching the Seattle/Niners game after the Patriots loss, I could not help but think, both these teams are so much better than the AFC. They just looked stronger, more accurate, more everything. What kind of chance would the Patriots have had over Pete Carroll's Seahawks? We will never know.
Unlike last year's playoff loss to the Ravens, this one does not hurt as much. The Patriots should of, could of, would of won that game- but blew it.
This time, they had no chance. Like Belichick himself said, "out-played, out-scored, out coached."
The Patriots were seriously out-manned. That kind of thing catches up to a team, and it finally did in Denver.
Cinderella went home in an orange pumpkin. The Patriots went home for good- no fairy tale ending this time. Prince Charming, Tom Brady is not giving up. He has plenty of time left to write a perfect ending.
He just can't do it alone.
The gauntlet was laid down by the reigning champion Max Aaron.
'The long program sets the men apart from the boys," Aaron said Thursday night. " I have the arsenal in jump content. I have five to six points on the next highest man. I am here to skate, and see where I land." (Translation: not on my butt)
Interesting to hear the word "arsenal" as part of the figure skating venacular. The men's competition was all about the collection or supply of munitions. Quads were to rule the day.
They did and they didn't.
Jeremy Abbott landed the biggest and best quad right off the bat, and hung on for dear life from there. The leader going into the long program almost had a deduction before he started. After a long hug with coach Yuka Sato, Abbott took is time getting to his mark. A skater only has one minute to get in place after his or her name is announced and the "shot clock" was winding down. I have never heard a skating audience count it down. Abbott made by one second.
Once Abbott got going, his program was performed in a controlled methodic style. Abbott had plenty in his arsenal. Even though at times the jumps leaned, or the landings were shaky. The 28-year-old seasoned veteran, looked like fighter going ten rounds. Nobody was going to to take this from him.
The best overall performance of the day was delivered by Jason Brown. Who gave this kid the heads up on the Irish theme?
The 18-year-old from Highland Park, Illinois came dressed in the perfect color for a revved up audience. Lucky Green. If a Celtic skate is going to work anywhere, it's Boston. Jason Brown's River Dance on ice was terrific. He had me after his footwork sequence, (now aptly called steps) What is so special about his skating is how he sets up his jumps. A back spiral on a huge outside edge is a whole different thing than the standard back crossover approach. It's not about the quad for Brown- he doesn't even attempt one. It's about performance. It is so rare in the men's event to see a skater actually entertain an audience the way Brown does. It's so fun to watch. Jason Brown is figure skating's version of Springsteen. Bruce just needs to get a pony tail.
Max Aaron put the heat on his competitors, being the first of the "fab four" to skate. Performing to the familiar music from "Carmen," Aaron planned two quads instead of his standard three. He stuck the first one in combination and touched and hand down on the other. The "king of quad" has a mighty big arsenal indeed. Most impressive to me is that he was still ripping off triples in the final minute of his program. Aaron perfectly executed a triple trifecta of flip,loop and toe in less than 45 seconds with time winding down. Understand, by this time most skaters legs are burning, along with their lungs. The former hockey player skates tough, plays hard and means business. Athlete first, artist next. It works for Max Aaron.
Two time silver medalist, Ross Miner was skating for pride. After finishing a disappointing 8th in the short program, the Vermont native and Watertown resident was out of contention. His program was set to the events of Marathon Monday and the week that followed. I wasn't quite sure how this would work, or how many judges would understand the theme. The music and choreography told a terrific story, and Miner delivered with passion, grit and resolve. It was a make and miss performance with beautiful jump combinations one minute and mistakes the next. It's mostly about the jumps for the guys, and Miner missed too many.
Honorable mention goes to Wakefield's Steven Carriere. After a 12th place finish in the short program, Carierre redeemed himself with a gutsy, performance in the long. He stood up on his quad, and did a "make up" triple axel. The Boston College junior gets points from me for keeping up his course load during his intensive training. Carriere fought for every landing. From one Eagle to another, I wish Steven well. When I asked him about his future plans, he said, "Theology. First thing tomorrow."
Call me old fashioned. I don't think figure skating needs to go quad crazy. How far can the revolution evolution go? All the way to Sochi and back. That's the answer.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
Dorothy Hamill, Dick Button and Michelle Kwan were all in the house. I might say all of them look like they can lace them up and rip off a triple toe with their eyes closed. There is something about figure skaters, they age well. As my buddy Peter Carruthers once said, "well pickled." Must be all those years in cold air.
The skating elite came out tonight to watch the Ladies Final at the US Figure Skating Championships on Saturday. Let's put it this way- the NFL playoffs were not a priority for this bunch. This chance only comes once every four years, and we never know when figure skating's latest ice queen will be crowned. Hamill and Kwan were two of the best, and it's fitting they were on hand to see America's next figure skating sweetheart crowned.
Gracie Gold lived up to the hype and to her wonderful skating name.
After an evening that featured more spills than thrills, Gold nailed it under pressure. She is the real deal folks, and America's best hope for an Olympic medal. The performance was close to flawless and seemed to get stronger and better as it went on. Gold pumped her fist three times after landing her final jump- a double axel.
This is why Gold is better than good. She skates with speed and power. She matches her athleticism with grace. (Just like her name) She is dynamic. She is a performer. She is developing the one trait that so far alluded her career. Consistency. Gold takes charge and commands the ice. She is a special skater, and her new coach Frank Carroll has worked his magic.
NBC is going to have a field day in Sochi with Grace Gold.
Polina Edmunds, a 15 year old that came out of nowhere to finish second in the short, proved she is no fluke. She skated a lyrical program marked by one flaw on a triple flip. Edmunds only get better, and she is very good now. Much in the Tara Lipinski mode, Edmunds is a jumping bean. It will be see how well she develops and matures on the ice. Nobody would have predicted Polina Edmunds would finish second best in this competition. Without a doubt Edmunds is the biggest surprise of the US Championships.
Ashley Wagner, skating to Romeo and Juliet fell on her first combination, a triple triple. She recovered nicely, then fell again. It was a tough night for the defending United States Champion, and not the kind of performance someone wants to have to the a month before the Olympics. Wagner showed some nice grit, and the judges kept her in the running, but she would be outdone by several skaters who followed her. Wagner still can make the Olympic team if skating officials think she is a better bet in Sochi than either Edmunds or third place finisher Mirai Nagasu.
Nagasu, skating to the theme from James Bond- was bold and beautiful. She laid her jumps down better than any other skater. I would have had her in second place. The 2010 Olympian is skating better than ever. Solid, just so solid
For most of the night it seemed to me the pressure on the top female skaters was too much too handle. The three that held it together best, were rewarded with medals.
Now, who gets to go to Sochi? Stay tuned.
Just watching the pair teams warm up, gives me butterflies. I remember the excitement I felt as a 19 year old skater, in second place with my partner. Bill Fauver and I were just one performance away from what every skater dreams about- the Olympics. The teams here in Boston were in the same situation we were, only two teams would represent the United States at the Games. We weren't supposed to be one of them, which took the pressure off.
The heat was absolutely on for hometown favorites Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, and they played into it beautifully.
Skating to a James Bond theme, there was nothing stealth about what they had planned. They've had a throw quad in their repitoire all year. No matter what, they were going for it. Things started on a positive note a stellar triple twist lift. Then the throw quad which landed in a splat. Remember in the new judging system, you get points for trying. Which is important. There were some glitches with the side by side jumps, but it didn't matter. This team promised each other going in that they would hold nothing back. Marissa told Simon not to worry about making a mistake, it didn't have to perfect, and it wasn't.
Castelli and Shnapir are competitors. What they lost in the side by jumps they made up with perfect side my side spins. Their lifts cover the entire ice. At the end of the day, they held their position in first which all that mattered.
Now they wait. The Olympic berth will not be announced until Sunday, when a committee decides who will go to Sochi. Castelli and Shnapir are not in until they receive a text message confirming it. Finding out you made the Olympic team by text? Times have changed.
"We did our job today , and it's out of our hands," said Castelli. "We will allow ourselves to celebrate when we know for sure."
Marissa Castelli reminds me so much of pairs great Kitty Carruthers, it's uncanny. Kitty and brother Peter won silver at the 1984 games in Sarajevo. Pound for pound they have to be the two toughest pair skaters ever. When I asked coach Bobby Martin about the resemblance, he agreed.
"She's a tough little Italian, what can I say?," said Martin.
The last team on the ice, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay were spectacular. In my mind, start to finish it was one of the best pair performances I have ever witnessed. Skating to the soundtrack from "Les Mis" this team nailed every throw and jump. Beyond that, they skated with emotion and energy- making it incredibly complete. When Zhang threw her arms in the air in three triumphant fist pumps on the final lift, the crowd was on it's feet.
Zhang and Bartholomay could not out- point the leaders, in what was a spectacular pairs event.
On a local note, Hingham's Gretchen Donlan and partner Andrew Speroff's program to the "Nutcracker" was beautiful, but flawed. She fell on the side by side triple, bobbled the side by side double axels, and touched her hand down on the a throw triple. I almost didn't care because their presentation was so good. This is a team that skates to every beat of their music, and has terrific chemistry. I really hope they stay at if for another four years because they have all the goods. The last five beats of their "Pas de Duex " were as dramatic as anything I have ever seen at the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. It gave me chills. They need to keep going.
Former U.S. Champions Caydee Denney and John Couglin skated a dramatic program to "Phantom of the Opera" They have huge throws and pulled a clean loop and flip. John had some trouble on his side by side jump combination, and their side by side sit spins were not in unison. Overall, it was an impressive performance, good enough for third place.
American pair skating has struggled on the international stage in recent years. I have a feeling that is about to change.
Minutes before the men's short program warm up at the US Figure Skating Championships, a video preview blasted from the TD Garden jumbo screen. The music was a perfect prelude to this event.
"Eye of the Tiger" was made famous by the Rocky movies. With no clear favorite, it's anyone's battle to win. It was also widely believed the knockout punch would come in the form of a quad jump.
Jason Brown didn't need one, and now I know why.
This ponytailed 19-year-old is fast becoming the hottest thing on ice. His program set to "The Question of You" by Prince brought the house down. The musical selection makes sense given he is on this way to becoming a figure skating rock star.
No quad, just a bunch of hot moves, fantastic spins and beautiful triples. Brown's skating is not a "program," it is a "performance." I am completely sold on this kid. I am not sure he will ever win the Olympics, although I am quite sure he could win "Dancing with the Stars." Tomorrow.
His short program was rewarded with a huge score of 87.47. I will take his skating over 100 shaky quads any day. Jason Brown is the total package. Good for him, and good for figure skating. There is too much emphasis on the quad. It bugs me that skaters get points "just for trying" the jump, even if they two-foot, touch a hand down, or heaven forbid, fall on it. That's crazy.
Boston's own Ross Miner did a smooth, well choreographed, classic program set to "The Way We Were." The program was flawed only by one popped jump, and it cost him in the scoring. His overall flow and spins were nicely done. Miner is sitting in eighth place, out of the running for Sochi.
First out in the final group was "old timer" Jeremy Abbott. The 28-year-old veteran has not lost his fastball, folks. The quad toe/triple toe came first. Check. Triple lutz. Check. Triple Axel check. His score of 99.86 put the 2010 Olympian in place to make the team again.
Max Aaron was the only skater left with a chance of catching Abbott. Aaron is a former hockey player, with a fearless attitude. He has said that he is not afraid of falling. Most skaters are. Aaron stepped up and delivered a spirited and energetic program to a Latin beat. It was not good enough to catch Abbott, or Richard Dornbush, or Brown.
Abbott, like Rocky Balboa is a fighter. He answered the bell with a stunning short program, and on Sunday he will have to come out swinging again. And he better be prepared to go the distance.
Other skating notes from Day 2:
• Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were terrific in their short dance. Skating to "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, the team looked like the world champions they are. She was the perfect Audrey Hepburn, and he was much cuter than Rex Harrison. They are on their way to gold in Sochi. I'm calling it now.
• After watching the ladies practice, I have to say Gracie Gold is impressive. She hit every triple jump and looks ready to win. Coaching legend Frank Carroll has been good for her. Let's see if she can hold up Saturday night. Two-time defending champion Ashley Wagner sits in fourth place. Wagner is the reason the women will be sending three skaters to Sochi, thanks to her success last year at World's.
Starting tomorrow these skaters will be playing for all the marbles- the Olympic team.
It's a big stage - and a slippery one.
This time, Gracie Gold did not crash and burn. She was as calm and cool as the music she skated to, "Piano Concerto."
Last year at the US Championships, Gold resolved into a bundle of nerves in the short and found herself in seventh place. A magnificent long program rocketed her all the way to second. This time, she is not going to need to pull 6 places to win a silver.
Everyone will be chasing her after her performance in the US Figure Skating Championship ladies short program Thursday at TD Garden.
Gold is known for her big jumps - and when she is on, she is really, really something to watch. Her jump combination was a triple lutz, triple toe. That is about as difficult as it gets, and she executed it flawlessly. Her rotation is so tight in her jumps she actually looks blurry.
The last time I saw anyone rotate that fast, it was 1998, when Tara Lipinski triple looped her way to Olympic gold in Nagano.
From the opening jump combination right through her final spin in the short program, Gold skated up to her name. She's got the goods make the podium in Sochi, something the American women have not done since 2006.
I have to say, I love Ashley Wagner's Pink Floyd music selection. It suits her womanly style. The problem was no amount of flair could make up for her botched jump combination. The program overall lacked a power punch.
We'll see if she comes out guns a blazing for the long program on Saturday night. Fourth place sounds very far away from first or second. Wagner will need a performance of a lifetime.
Mirai Nagasu was marvelous skating to "The Man I Love." She finishes everything, is polished right down to her fingertips, and pays attention to every detail. Nagasu was a member of the 2010 Olympic team, and is no stranger to big-time competition. She missed the podium by one place four years ago, and now in third place, she is in position become a two-time Olympian.
The final skater of the night proved to be the biggest surprise. Fifteen-year-old Polina Edmunds brought the house down with her spirited "Cha Cha Cha." This kid nailed her jumps, skated with terrific energy, and looked like she was having more fun than anyones in the building. She's sitting in second place.
I guess when you are 15, you don't think too much about this being "a final chance" to make the Olympics. She could skate eight more years easily.
Kudos to Christina Gao. She moved to Boston in 2010 to attend Harvard, is taking time off from her studies, and turned in an elegant program, including one of the best triple triples of the night. Gao moves effortlessly between her jumps, and everything's connected seamlessly. Coaches Mark Mitchell and Peter Johannson convinced her to compete another year, and now I know why.
I have to give Hannah Miller a shout-out. She represents the Lansing, (Michigan) Skating Club. Same little club that I represented from age 9 to 17. Miller is part of a terrific hockey family. Ryan and Drew Miller both play in the NHL. Those are some mighty fine skating genes.
Saturday night it will all come down to the prime time long program. We learned Thursday to expect the unexpected. Gracie Gold will win if she stays on her feet. She has the best name in skating.
Now she needs to live up to it.
The spilt triple twists were sky high. The throws were huge, and the side-by-side jumps impressive. Pair skating is a completely different event than it was in the days of Tai and Randy – or Cook and Fauver for that matter.
Side by side triples did not exist. Throw triples were not attempted, let alone landed. Not much has changed through the years with the lifts, spins and death spirals. It's a whole new world when it comes to the big tricks.
Nobody skated bigger or better in the short program than Marissa Castelli and partner Simon Shnapir. The hometown favorites were the last skaters to take the ice, and they did not disappoint the local faithful.
"I think when we first heard that Boston was the site for 2014 nationals we were nervous. We looked at each other like, “oh, no,” said Castelli. "Through success and failures, and we just want to make this special. Today was a great day. We thought we came up to the challenge."
Castelli and Shnaper have been together for eight years. The defending United States pairs champions owned the ice the second they stepped on it. Skating to Santana's "Black Magic Woman," they were sexy, smooth, and spell binding. The triple twist was a like a rocket launch and the landing was a soft as silk. Seconds later, they nailed their side-by-side triple jumps, then motored into the throw triple salchow.
Castelli's flight covered nearly the width of the ice, and the perfect landing was never in doubt.
I had to laugh when Castelli and Shnaper talked about their relationship in the post-skate news conference. All pair teams fight, my partner and I certainly did. So when Marissa and Simon were asked about their ups and downs it was clear that their career has not been a bed of roses – it's like a marriage, it takes work.
"Simon and I, we’ve had our ups and downs. We fight, everyone knows that about me, but we come together at the end of the day," said Castelli.
"Sometimes we thought we were going to give up on each other and we just looked at each other, took some time off and just came back together and said, “we’re not done, we’re not ready, we have more potential.” It’s just time and patience," said Shnapir.
The team of Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay find themselves in second place going into the long program. It was the same situation for my partner and I in our Olympic year. There wasn't much buzz about Felicia And Nathan going into the U.S Championships, now they are one great skate away from Sochi.
Zhang and Bartholomay skated like young lovers to Rogers and Hammerstien's "Carousel Waltz." It flowed, it was fast, fun and lyrical. Every element was executed flawlessly. Again, the throws were breathtaking. You know it's a great program when you don't want it to end. That's how I felt.
The way this sets up for Saturday's long program is how it should be. The long program will determine who stands on the podium. And third place won't be good enough for a ticket to Russia in February. Only two teams are going.
It's been a long time since any American pair team has won an Olympic medal. From what I saw in the pairs short program, this could be the year the United States plays hardball with the Russians and Chinese.
After watching the pairs short program, it seems to me there are several teams that are ready to compete with the big boys. American pair skating is making a comeback. It's about speed, power and fearlessness. Although it looks pretty, these skaters are tough.
Bring on the long. I heard rumblings that Marissa and Simon are pulling out their "quad" throw. Can't wait.
Handicapping this week's United States Figure Skating Championships in Boston is kind of like being tossed into the air for a triple twist for the first time. It's a pretty exciting flight, but you never really know how it's going to end up.
The only skaters who are a lock to win their event are ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. They are the reigning world champions, and the couple can literally "waltz" their way to to Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics will be held next month. When they get there, they still will be favored for gold against the best in the world.
We have seen big changes in the skating world over the past ten years. Recent champions are not household names. We remember Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Michelle Kwan for the women and Scott Hamilton, and Brian Boitano for the men.My Olympic teammates, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, ruled the pairs event in the day. Kitty and Peter Carruthers would follow in their footsteps. But these days there are very few "repeat" national champions who are a known quantity by the time they arrive at the Olympics.
For many years, the American favorites did not have to "sweat it out" at the US Championships, (then called Nationals) in an Olympic year. Dorothy Hamill was a lock back at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs when I was her teammate. So were Tai and Randy, Terry Kubica and the ice dance team of Colleen O'Connor and Jim Milns.
Then there were skaters like Alice Cook and Bill Fauver, who were supposed to finish 4th and ended up second. Off to the Olympics in a blink of an eye. I thought I would be going skiing the week after Nationals - instead we were scurrying for tickets for our families, breaking in new skates, and accepting keys to the city before we left for Innsbruck, Austria.
The world of figure skating has changed largely because of a new scoring system that practically eliminates the "subjective" factor in judging. The 6.0 went away after two judges played footsie during the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2004. If you need a reminder, a French judge told a Russian judge 'I will vote for your pair skaters if you do the same for our ice dancers.'
It was a scandal the sport of figure skating would not overcome without some serious rule changes.
I won't attempt in this column to explain the figure skating judging system in detail. Let's just say that today there is little room for personal preference at the scoring table. Every jump, spin, and piece of footwork, (now called steps) have an assigned a value. The judging comes on how the element is executed. I suggest anyone watching this week who is a casual skating fan try not to get caught up in this. If you don't know the difference between a triple lutz and a triple flip by now, you never will.
My own mother watched me skate competitively for 12 years and could never figure out the difference. It has to do with an inside edge on the flip takeoff versus the outside edge on the lutz. Sometimes lutzes turn into flips, which are worth fewer points – but I digress. Let's get to the skaters.
This week at TD Garden will be the equivalent of a figure skating free-for-all. Anything goes for the ladies, men's, and pairs.
Ladies first. The top three are going to Sochi. Here are my picks.
Ashley Wagner is the reigning two-time national champion in this event, which makes her the favorite. This 22-year-old missed the Olympic team by one place in 2010, and is primed to make her mark this year. Wagner had a terrific season on the international circuit last fall, finishing second in the Grand Prix final. Her short program – set to Pink Floyd's 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond' – is edgy, sexy, and fun. She skates like a woman, not a little girl, and this will help her.
Gracie Gold is flash and dash, and has by far the best skating name ever. She jumps big and is spectacular when she is "on." Lack of consistency has been a problem. If she stays on her feet, Gold will take the silver.
The third and final spot for the Olympic team can go several ways. I am going with Christina Gao. The 19-year-old moved to Boston from Cincinnati in 2012 to attend Harvard. After spending some time at the Skating Club of Boston, she was convinced to put her studies on hold and go for the Olympics. She has the goods, and obviously, the smarts.
In the men's division, only the top two are going to Sochi, and there are at least 6 legitimate contenders. In my mind, this event is impossible to handicap.
Ross Miner will be the Boston favorite. His long program depicts the events of the Boston Marathon bombing, the week that followed, and the resiliency of our city. Miner lives in Watertown, and was locked down in his home the day of the manhunt. He chose his music and this theme because of the personal and emotional impact of those events on him and his family.
Max Aaron is the defending national champion, and he is called the "king of quad." Aaron is athletic, tough, and a former hockey player. He needs to hit his jumps.
Jeremy Abbott is looking to become a two time Olympian. He was 9th in Vancouver.
Keep an eye on Adam Rippon. This guy does a triple lutz with both arms over his head. He is also has a classic style, great spins, and of course, the quad.
Steve Carriere is worthy of mention. He is from Wakefield, is a former world junior champion, and is attending Boston College while training at the Skating Club of Boston. Carriere can connect with the audience, and like Miner will have the home crowd behind him.
Again, the men's division is anyone's battle to win. Staying upright on the quads will be key.
And finally, my personal favorite event – the pairs. Any one of five teams can end up on the podium. Of the 12 teams competing, three are from Boston. Kudos to coach Bobby Martin, who has helped make Boston a pairs training mecca. (In my day, it was Wilmington, Del.)
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are the defending champs. Castelli is from Cranston, R.I., and Shnapir, an Emerson College student, is from Sudbury. They have quite the bag of tricks, including a throw triple axel.
Caydee Denny and John Coughlin missed last year's championships due to injury. However, the 2012 US champs looked good on the Grand Prix circuit and should contend.
Gretchen Donlan of Hingham and partner Andrew Speroff train side--by-side with Castelli and Shnapir here in Boston, and this could be their year. Their chemistry makes them special, along with a more classic pair style similar to Russian pairs greats Gordeeva and Grinkov.
Alexandria Shaughnessy of Duxbury and her partner Jimmy Morgan are new to the senior ranks. This competition will be a prelude to what they hope are bigger things to come down the road in 2018.
If you love figure skating, I suggest you try to attend some of the novice and junior competitions at the Boston Convention Center this week. It's truly special to see the younger skaters who will be tomorrow's stars. They still have the triple jumps, and are wonderful to watch.
The dream has to start somewhere, and for many young skaters it will be right here in Boston.
For the Olympic contenders, this could be the biggest week of their skating lives.
Next week the nation's finest skaters will descend on Boston for the US Figure Skating Championships.. Every four years this competition determines who will make the United States Olympic Figure Skating Team. It will be the most important competition in figure skating since the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
There are always certain "givens" regarding who makes the team. When I competed in 1976, there was no doubt Dorothy Hamill would travel to Innsbruck, Austria as America's number one skater. The pair team of Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner were also locks. Then there were those "expected" to make it. Ice dancers Colleen O'Connor and Jim Milns were America's best hope for an Olympic medal in that event, and they came home with the bronze. Sixteen-year-old Linda Fratianne had something Dorothy didn't – triple jumps. She was in for sure.
Then there are the skaters that have a slim chance, like Cook and Fauver.
My partner Bill and I had only been skating as a pair team for less than two years. We were fifth at the US Nationals the year before and every team that placed ahead of us was coming back. On top of that, the United States was only sending two pair teams that year. Our chances were basically nil.
With the pressure off, Bill and I skated our best short program ever at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Other teams made mistakes, which is killer in the short program, and we shockingly ended up in second place going into the final.
The point spread was tight enough for the teams in third and fourth place teams to catch us with a strong performance in the long.
For 24 hours Bill and I sat in second place, although we knew the chances were still slim that we would remain there.
We were the first to go in the final group and were happy to skate clean. Then we watched. Tai and Randy were next. The skated wonderfully and received marks that no one would surpass. Both teams chasing us did not have their best night. The scores came up after each team skated, although we wouldn't know the final results for what seemed an eternity.
Back in those days the results were not instant. There were actual accountants sitting in a room adding up the scores. It would take 20 minutes after the event ended for that scoreboard to light up.
And there it was.
The screaming, hugging, crying and laughing that followed will never be equaled in my life. My mom, my family, my friends were astonished. It was so unexpected, so thrilling and just so- yes, unbelievable.
We were going to the Olympics. The Olympics.
It happens every four years, and we will see it happen here in Boston. A skater will come out of nowhere and defy the odds. Anything can happen, and it will.
Dreams will come true – and a few will be completely unexpected.
The UFC world was rocked this week by the announcement of it’s 6 year reigning Welterweight Champion, George St. Pierre stepping away from the sport. GSP wil give up his title and leave the organization indefinitely he told the media on Friday but did not refer to the break as retiring, leaving the option open for a possible return.
“One day when I feel like it, I might come back,”St-Pierre said. “But right now I need a break”. “I don’t want to make nobody wait. I want to come back when I feel like it. I’ll become stronger when I will. It has to be up to me. It has to be on my terms”, he told Fox News.
It’s been said that GSP’s life had been consuming him. The pressures of the constant competition, which consumes him daily is a huge factor but what GSP is referring to as “personal issues” are the main reasons why the fighter is stepping away. St. Pierre who is tight-lipped about his personal life, says his life is a “zoo” and that he needs to “live a normal life for bit.”
There is however, some speculation swirling around from sites such as TMZ that St. Pierre’s father has fallen ill and he will spend more time with him minus the pressures of training. Another rumor floating around cyberspace, is that a woman in Canada is claiming to be pregnant by St. Pierre. The 32-year old champion had talked about taking a break dating back to last Fall. Firas Zahabi, head trainer at Tristar Gym, a place like a second home to GSP spoke to The MMA Hour stating:
“Before the Hendrick’s fight, he had mixed feelings. Right now he has the motiviation to take care of his personal issues. If he doesn’t, he’s going to end up depressed, alone. The guy has been fighting for too long, missing too many birthdays, too many weddings, too many life experiences.”
What Will Come of the Title?
The Welterweight division will press on, Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 on March 15 in Dallas for the title according to UFC president Dana White. He also weighed in on GSP and stepping away saying, “You can tell by the way he talks that the issues he deals with outside the Octagon are driving him nuts. He’s obsessing about them and they’re driving him crazy.”
St. Pierre at 32 is one of the most powerful, well rounded fighters in the UFC. He holds a record of 25-2-0 and has built a legacy with his career. Maybe he will return to try and pick up where he left off. Whether he does or not, GSP is satisfied with the career he has built and has become one of the best while doing it. In the MMA world, he will be missed.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
The Doc Rivers "love-in" at the TD Garden last night was one for the ages. The pre-game show featured shots of Doc walking into the building with the local and national media following his every move. Doc stopped to shake hands with reporters, and yes, he even hugged a few of them. Imagine Bill Belichick 20 years from now returning to Gillette Stadium and literally "embracing" the media.
We all loved Doc. He helped bring the Boston Celtics Championship #17. He put together the "new big three." He was the reason Kevin Garnett came to Boston. He brought in Ray Allen. He help turn Paul Pierce from a kid in trouble, into a man, a leader and a captain.
Beyond all this, Doc Rivers is a great guy. As a member of the media it was always a treat to get a Celtics practice assignment because it was a given Doc would say something "good." Doc genuinely liked talking to the media. He is smart, engaging and funny. He never dismissed a question with a non-answer. He was quick with a joke, forthright, and insightful in every interview situation.
Everyone loved Doc. The media, the fans, the owners, the GM, the trainers, the ball boys, right down to the Garden security people. Most importantly, his players loved him. Like a good father he could hand out tough love, and be respected for it.
The ovation last night at the Garden should come as no surprise. Who in their right mind could "boo" Doc Rivers?
Yes, he bolted last spring without saying good-bye. Remember this was all happening when the Bruins were making a run for the Cup, and Aaron Hernandez was hiding out in his house awaiting arrest. We woke up one day and heard Doc was leaving for the left coast. He was under contract, but decided a "rebuild" was not in his immediate future. It was up to the Clippers and Celtics to work out a deal, while Doc kept quiet.
"Obviously, I didn't like the way it played out," he said. "You can portray it any way you want, at the end of the day I felt after nine years, it was time for me to go. It's just time. there didn't have to be anything bad about that."
Doc received his first ovation two minutes before the conclusion of warm ups. He received his loudest ovation after a video montage appeared on the big board high above court side. The crowd went crazy, and Doc waved as he held back tears.
In the post game interview, the tears came back. Doc started to talk about the fan reaction, and was overcome with emotion. For the first time in memory the affable, talkative, Doc Rivers was speechless. After several starts and stops Doc said the words that he never had the chance to say last spring.
"That was just nice. It didn't surprise me because that's just the way - you've got to live here to understand that - that's just the way they are. It's an amazing fan base. It really is. And I want everything to go well for them."
Nine years is a long time in one place. Doc Rivers is starting over in LA. He knows as well as anyone else, the Clippers fans are not the Celtics fans. And there is no doubt, it's the fans in Boston that Doc will miss most.
By Paula Maloney, She's Game Sports
Nelson Mandela showed the world impossible courage from an early age. The former South African President passed away Thursday at the age of 95 and around the globe tears have been shed upon hearing the news. Fittingly, his funeral will be held in Johannesburg at the Soccer City Stadium on December 10th, an arena that he so loved. There will be a worldwide seated audience upon the venue where Mandela unified skins of color within the realm of sports.
"Sports has the power to change the world," was a refrain often repeated by Mandela. A lifelong sports devotee, he believed sports could bring attention to the oppression at hand in his beloved country.
Like a solid teammate, Mandela sought to unite his fellow South Africans and to reduce racial tensions. He recognized that sports could be instrumental in instilling all South Africans, black and white, with the sense of pride and unity one feels when competing together toward a common goal. Mandela hoped that that feeling of camaraderie would continue off the field.
Imprisoned for 27 years for opposing the minority white government, Mandela spent eighteen of those years in solitary confinement in a 7 foot by 7 foot cell on Robben Island. The iconic South African freedom fighter was a man who embodied optimism. Mandela credited this optimism as helping endure his long years of isolated confinement.
A soccer league was formed at the prison during Mandela's incarceration and he enjoyed viewing the games from his cell. A wall was then built to prevent him from watching the games. Mandela was not bitter, however, and instead used his imagination to quell his despair as he visualized the soccer games he could no longer see.
The selfless "father" of the prisoners appreciated the retellings of the prison soccer leaque matches after it had been played. He was a breathing example of a much tougher fight than his prison window being blocked by a wall. The players were soothed by playing soccer; Mandela was soothed by the joy that it brought his fellow inmates as it helped to ease their pain from being locked away from the outside world.
Mandela was freed from his personal purgatory on February 11, 1990 ,one month before I gave my birth to my first child. Black and whites were still segregated from one another in sports yet that was about to change.That moment in time brought myself and millions of others to loudly cheer and alternately cry.
In 1994, The man affectionately called " The Black Prince" was elected as the country's first black President of the post apartheid era.The sporting community took note as the country had endured boycotting in international events prior to Mandela's presidency.
He was an inspirational genius in the fact that he recognized that sports had the power to pull blacks and whites together. He knew that on a playing field players would get to know one another, appreciate one another, and ultimately value one another regardless of their skin color.
"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."
Those words were uttered by a man who was born into poverty yet rose to oppose the white power structure in South Africa.Mandela's dream of seeing unification on South African sporting fields came to fruition in 1995 with the hosting of various sporting events from the 1995 Rugby World Cup,the 2003 World Cricket Cup, and perhaps in the strongest nod to the visionary, the 201o Fifa Soccer World Cup.
The Rainbow Nation that Mandela envisioned was being played out in none other than a international sporting venue. What better way to honor one of the most transformational leaders of our time?
It has been said that this extraordinary man loved to run as a little boy. He surged far ahead of the pack at a young age, outran us all, and is forever in the lead. Former President Mandela's state funeral is on the sporting soils where mass democracy was showcased by South African soccer and rugby players alike. No two footprints left behind are the same and Mr. Nelson Mandela's footprints for equality will be difficult to replicate.
May the chanting of "Nelson, Nelson, Nelson, " be resonating for eternity . The world will be listening.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
I have covered football at every level. There are too many Patriots games to count. I enjoyed covering Boston College especially because it's my alma mater. Every Thanksgiving for over 20 years I was assigned a high school game with either a long tradition or a Super Bowl appearance on the line.
As a reporter, my job is to stay unbiased. "No cheering in the press box" was frequently announced before games.
With that said, I write this story as a fan, a mother, and a resident of small town America. Over the last four years I have sat in the aluminum stands of Alumni Field in Cohasset on many a fall Friday night. My daughter is a cheerleader. They practice and compete just like the football team, and as a parent I considered it my duty to show up and support both squads- the one on the field, and the one on the sidelines.
Watching the high school game took some getting used to. Where was the replay? In the press box there are dozens of televisions that show the play immediately after it happens. As a pro or big time college fan, there is always the Jumbotron. In high school, you better see it right the first time, because there are no cameras recording every play from ten different angles. I found myself constantly looking at the scoreboard thinking it would show the play again.
A few years ago, I became addicted to the television series "Friday Night Lights." I watched every episode on Netflix in a matter of weeks. Little did I know that I had Friday Night Lights right down the street.
Like Coach Taylor in the TV series, Cohasset has Coach "A," which is short for Afanasiw. Coach A also teaches history, my daughter reported to me one day as a freshman.
"You mean he has to coach and teach too?" I asked her. Her response was a huge eyeball roll, which any parent with teenagers will understand.
Watching "Friday Night Lights" religiously, I thought how nice it must be to play high school football in Texas. I have learned since that it's also great here in New England. Coach "A", like Coach Taylor, could yell, scream, and motivate players like football was the only thing that mattered. A minute later he would be giving a player a hug with the tenderness of a father. It's how boys become men.
The Skippers had a great year. A school that averages around 100 students in each grade is minuscule compared to Everett, BC High, or Newton North. Even though they are Division 6, they play big. Because the school is so small, many of the players are involved in multiple sports and get to know each other like family. Coach A credits this special bonding as a key to their success.
Say what you will about the new playoff system- I think it's great. The top seeded Skippers played three games to get to the Super Bowl, and it was a fun ride. Millis-Hopedale gave them a run for their money on their home field. A trip to a neutral site in Brockton was the stage for an epic battle with Saint Clement. The Anchormen of St. Clement, Sommerville had a roster of 37. Cohasset's football roster is 67, including 20 seniors.
Through it all I learned to appreciate the skill and confidence of high school players. Quarterback Chris Haggerty was rock solid, composed and accurate. Running back Cole Kissick kept the offense motor running. The two way player is such an anomoly in the pro and college game. It's standard fare in high school. I remember when Troy Brown managed it as a Patriot, and it was huge.
The Cohasset Skippers walked into Gillette Stadium early Saturday morning. Their match-up with Littleton was first on the slate of six Super Bowl championships to be played. Kick-off was 9:00am- not exactly primetime for the teenage body.
For the first time in history, the smaller divisions got to play at the the big house. For most of the players and cheerleaders, it will never get bigger or better than this.
But it was not to be for Cohasset. Littleton's offense was close to unstoppable. Final score 52-35.
I hope these young men know how fun they made it for us. How we so enjoyed watching them compete. All those practices, all those pasta dinners, all those wins, and all those friendships will be part of some great high school memories.
Football player ,coach, cheerleader, or parent, we learn to close a chapter.
Thank you Cohasset for giving us a great year. It was so much fun to go from reporter to fan. Cheering is a good thing. And this season we had lots to cheer about.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
On April 15, 2013 Roseann Sdoia stood at the Boston Marathon finish line waiting for her friends to come in. An avid runner, Roseann ran four to five times a week, 3 to 5 miles. In a matter of minutes her life would change forever when she lost her right leg in the bombings. After multiple surgeries and intense rehabilitation, Roseann learned to walk again on a prosthetic. At that point she wasn't thinking running would ever be an option.
Then she met Jothy.
Jothy Rosenberg lost his right leg to cancer at age 16. He learned to excel at other sports, but not running. The technology for a running prosthesis did not yet exist. And once it did, running led to falling. And falling for an amputee is both painful and dangerous.
It was Jothy who reached out to Roseann and asked if she would like to learn to run with him, and Roseann accepted the challenge. Their first training session on new running legs was eye opening.
"When I first tried it on, it felt completely different," said Roseann. "You have to be conscious every second, because even just standing it buckles. Once it starts buckling you can't stop it so you go right down. It's not 'if' I am going to fall, it's 'when' I am going to fall. You have to make sure to protect your good leg, because you need your good leg."
Not much has stopped Jothy from doing anything he wants through the years. The day he met Roseann he suggested they try a number of sports together. Roseann shook her head 'no' when swimming, biking and skiing were mentioned. She wanted a more level playing field.
As Jothy recalls, "She just turned to me and said, you know, I read a little about you, and I know you are not a runner, so I pick running because I'm a runner and I am going to kick your ass."
Roseann's first responder was Boston Firefighter Mike Meteria. The man who helped save her is now her boyfriend. Last summer in Nantucket he coined a phrase that Roseann will carry for life.
"We were in a restuarant, and some guy said 'we have a handicapped person coming through.' Mike just stopped and looked at him and said, "she is handi-capable."
"It's something I feel when I am in my own little bubble," says Roseann. "I don't feel handicapped at all. I feel handi-capable. And there is nothing I can't do except learn to run again, but that will come."
Each and every step of Roseann and Jothy's determined effort will be recorded. It will be produced as a documentary titled, "Who say Roseann Can't Run."
Please watch the video below. And if you would like to contribute to their efforts, visit Kickstarter.com and search Who Says Roseann Can't Run.
Follow me on Twitter @alicecooksports
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
After the Monday Night game in Carolina I made sure to watch every second of the Patriots 5th Quarter. There is nothing quite like watching the steam come out of Bill Belichick's ears as he takes the post game podium after a loss. In general, speaking to the press is probably at the rock bottom in things Belichick likes about his job. Coach B is not a man of many words when performing his post game obligation. He's more like a man about to get a tooth pulled without Novocain. Even in victory he can snarl at what he deems a dumb or inappropriate question.
I've been in those post game press conferences for many years. Belichick comes out, makes and opening comment, and if it's following a loss, there is usually an excruciating amount of time before someone asks the first question. Nobody wants to be the guy humiliated on live TV by asking a question that is answered with an "I don't know." Or a "I have to look at the tape." Or a "You saw the game." Or a reporter's worst nightmare, when he answers a question with a question- which Belichick did 8 times last night.
It can't be easy coming out to face the press just minutes after losing a game on a last second call- or in this case, non-call. Coach B does not like to have the officials decide the game. Here's how things got started in Monday's post game press conference.
The usual opening comments paraphrased:
"Well it was a tough game, came down to just a few plays here and they did more than we did. We had our chances, just got to do a better job, came up a little bit short…" (ya da ya da ya da) We've heard it a million times before.
Belichick answered 4 questions true to form. Then came 20 seconds of dead air. These awkward, pregnant pauses are nothing new. I liken them to a silent version of finger nails on a chalkboard. It is at this point that the ever polite and cool PR man Stacey James will then ask the press if there are any more questions. If somebody doesn't step up- it's usually a quick "thanks guys" and exit stage left.
It was then that a reporter (obviously from Carolina) made a remark, and did not ask a question. He was looking for a comment on "the fact that they played a team with a lot to prove in a pretty good atmosphere."
Ouch- we all knew what was coming next.
Belichick: "So what's the question?"
Reporter: "How do you feel about your team's performance?"
Belichick: "We came up short. It wasn't good enough. We just came up short. We have to do a better job. We just didn't make enough plays."
Another pause, and Stacey James try's to wrap it up. We are now 3 minutes into the news conference.
Then an amazing thing happened. Belichick turns to James who is off to the right, and say's "I'm ok. I'm ok."
It was clear that Bill Belichick had more to say. He wasn't getting off that podium yet. It was WBZ's Steve Burton who went back to the only subject that mattered.
Burton: "Did you get a sense of what the flag was for on the final play of the game?"
Burton: "No idea of what the flag was for?"
Belichick: "There was no explanation given to me."
Burton: "None whatsoever?"
Belichick: "No. The officials ran off the field, I didn't see anything. I've gone through that before, the last time I tried asking an official about a call, that was the wrong thing to do. So I have no idea".
Hallelujah! Now we got something here. Belichick was letting loose- saying something snippy. Thank God this thing didn't end a few minutes ago. Coach was having his say.
Burton: "Do you think you deserve an explanation?"
Belichick: "Like I've said, we've been down that road before. We didn't get one tonight, didn't get one at the Baltimore game. Guess that's the way they do it."
Batta bing! Belichick with another zing at the officials.
Belichick was just getting warmed up with the good stuff when someone changed the subject with a question about the running game. Buzz kill. A few reporters came in late and tried to ask again about the final play.
Belichick became evasive again. When asked if he would follow up with league, Belichick said, "Sure. It was the last play of the game. I don't know what happened. There was a flag thrown and then the game was over. I don't know."
A reporter too late to the party asked again for an explanation about the final play. Belichick was done.
" Yeah, that's the fourth time on that," he said.
My take on this is that Belichick decided three minutes into the news conference he had more to say. It wasn't just about getting an explanation on what happened last night, it became more about what happened to him last time when he tried to get answers from an official. The situation he was referring to was when he questioned a call vs Baltimore in 2012. Belichick was fined $50,000 for demanding an explanation, and you better believe he is still pissed.
Belichick may not be Mr. Congeniality, but he is a brilliant football coach. He has thrived on convincing his teams that it's "The Patriots against the world." The scheme has worked too. Remember Spy Gate in 2007? That only led to a perfect season. Belichick can use this controversy to light a fire under his team from here to the Super Bowl. This was a fairly meaningless non-conference game against Carolina. What the Patriots get out of it is another chip on their shoulders, which could be much more valuable that the "W".
Bill Belichick now has his fuel, and he is a master at getting his team to respond constructively to controversy. Let's see how far it plays out.. who knows, maybe all the way to the Meadowlands in February.
Follow Alice on Twitter @alicecooksports
By Paula Maloney, She's Game Sports
Bullying is often referred to as " gateway behavior" which can often lead to serious and sinister crimes . As a society, we have become rather programmed into thinking that bullying occurs solely in the halls of junior and senior high school. Think again.
The locker room of the Miami Dolphin's football team is taking center stage in the eyes of many for what is unfolding as a pathetic and sordid case of bullying and harassment.
The issue at hand is simple: Is this form of aggression, hostility, and threatening behavior exhibited by Miami Dolphin left guard Richie Incognito acceptable? Was the handwriting on the wall during his college playing years where he was briefly considered as a contender for the Remington Trophy, the award designated for the nation's top collegiate center?
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin finally handed down a suspension late Sunday night in regards to the alleged harassment Incognito has been exhibiting towards teammate Jonathon Martin. Are Philbin and the Dolphins organization responsible for this egregious form of workplace misconduct? Or did they encourage it?
Martin, a 6'5" 319 lb product of Stanford University, was switched off left tackle before the Patriots game last month. It is alleged that Martin has been the target of hazing and racial slurs led by Incognito. A transcript released suggests that Martin was physically threatened as Incognito bragged that " I will kill you " in addition to hitting up Martin to pay for extravagant dinners and hotels. Voicemail messages have indicated that Incognito made racial assuages in the direction of Martin's mother. Was Martin a victim lying in wait for the likes of Incognito who has the earmarkings of a textbook bully?
And just who is Richie Incognito?
Incognito came to be recognized on a national level as an offensive lineman while playing for the University of Nebraska. In 2003, Incognito was suspended for unspecified reasons and in 2004 was handed his second suspension for three counts of assault while at a party and repeated violations of team misconduct. He was picked up by the University of Oregon only to be let go as he failed to complete an anger-management course and follow the rules and regulations that were in place.
"His inability to control his emotions on and off the field is such a significant concern that he will likely slip in later rounds of the draft," stated the scouts at ESPN. Hindsight is 20/20 but the first half of this comment speaks volumes about to the traits he was openly exhibiting.
The St. Louis Rams picked up Incognito in late 2005, where he played for four seasons. He was regarded as one the NFL's dirtiest players. During that time he incurred nearly 40 penalties and several unnecessary roughness calls setting a benchmark for misconducts during that time span. He has the honor of being on a small list of pro football players deemed "DNC" or the proverbial " do not consider list" when rounding out team rosters.
Following a stint with the Buffalo Bills, Incognito was picked up by the Miami Dolphins to beef up their offensive line.
Incredulous to me is the fact that this big mouth, Pro Bowl lineman was elected to the Dolphin's Player's Council in 2010 to be a voice for his team peers. Some of Incognito's teammates have come to his defense over the last few days, adding more fuel to the debate.
"If you asked Jon Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would have said Richie Incognito," Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said yesterday to a throng of reporters after practice.
That statement is hard to believe, given what we know about Incognito's voice mails and texts to Martin, not to mention the money he allegedly extorted.
The last time the word incognito received warranted airtime was when Google announced the "incognito mode" for private browsing. No doubt the Dolphin's organization wishes that the private browsing's and infantile behavior of the locker room were not made public. Perhaps this case will highlight that bullying occurs in all aspects and walks of life, and it is not acceptable in any forum- be it junior high or pro football.
I am well aware that strong personalities prevail among alpha males playing football. The "boys will be boys" mentality is as old as the game. Incognito, with his unsurpassed history of violations, may have handed himself the proverbial pink slip. Martin is currently seeking treatment and questions linger as to why his teammates and others did not intervene.
This cancer known as bullying needs to be dealt with in a swift manner before it spreads. The current culture of the NFL is troubling and needs to be exposed to its core.
The NFL is the most powerful league in the world of sports. It has championed many causes. The investigators better get this one right, because what Richie Incognito did was all wrong.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
I was there in 2004 when they won in St. Louis, breaking an 86 year old curse. Thousands of Red Sox fans were there, but few who actually had a ticket. When the game ended, security opened the gates to Busch Stadium and told the fans on the street to "go on in, and celebrate with your team." It was a wonderful gesture by the friendly folks in St. Louis.
I was also there in 2007 when the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies. A walk off interview with Series MVP Mike Lowell was one of my proudest professional moments. It was another sweep, another champagne shower in another clubhouse thousands of miles from Boston.
Finally, the Red Sox brought the party home, and the timing could not have been more perfect. Our lovable boys of beard were right here where they should be, in the loving embrace of a city that has come full circle. Everyone loves a comeback, and this one represented much more than winning a trophy.
On April 20th 2013, David Ortiz took the microphone before a game and declared, "this is our f-king city, nobody is going to dictate our freedom." It was 5 days after the Marathon bombings. Our region was emotionally shattered. There were hundreds of victims in hospitals. There would be four funerals, and a river of tears.
Then came the stories of the heroes. The first responders. The people that did not flee, but stayed with the victims, using their belts and neck ties to stop the bleeding. The people that carried the injured to ambulances and medical personnel. There were more heroes at our area hospitals, treating the wounded, saving so many lives.
As the victims healed, the Red Sox played, and won a lot of games. The (617) Boston Strong jersey hung in their dugout. There was never a day or a moment the dead and the injured were not remembered.
Spring turned to summer and the healing continued. The bombing victims appeared at Fenway in wheelchairs or wearing prothesis. They threw out first pitches, they sang anthems, and they rejoiced with a team determined to give them something to smile about.
By July 25, 100 days after the bombing, the last Boston Marathon victim was released from the hospital. The Red Sox were half way through the season with all the makings of of a playoff team. Only 12 months earlier they had been a laughing stock, finishing the 2012 season with 69 wins. The manager was fired, the fans were disgusted, and spring training came and went without much hope.
What happened next few could have predicted.
This band of brothers grew beards, played hard, and won back the hearts their fans. They became a lovable bunch in total contrast to so many teams before them. Koji Uehara came out of nowhere as the unstoppable stopper. Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and David Ross were wonderful surprises. Kudos to GM Ben Cherrington for finding the talent and right mix. Jon Lester was a "horse." John Lackey re-invented himself. Dustin Pedroia led the league in attitude. It's amazing a heart that big can fit under a uniform so small.
And Big Papi. Like his name- he's the big Daddy. David Ortiz did it with his bat, and with his leadership. His impromtu dug out pep talk in the middle of Game 4 was the signature moment of the Series.
6 months ago, it was David Ortiz who set the stage when he dared the world to ever mess with Boston again. Nobody was going to stop the Red Sox this year.
From worst to first,the Red Sox rose from the ashes, and so has the city of Boston. There are too many heroes to count.
Follow me on Twitter @alicecooksports
By Justin McGrail, She's Game Sports
The Boston Red Sox are on the cusp of winning their third World Series in the last 10 years. They currently have a 3-2 series lead against the St. Louis Cardinals. This is the fourth meeting between these two teams, with St. Louis winning the first two matchups in 1946 & 1967 and Boston winning in 2004.
All five games of this series have been exciting and each has added something unique to the record books.
-Two hitters, David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, passed Babe Ruth in career post season home runs. Beltran sits at 9th all time with 16 homers. Ortiz hit two bombs so far this World Series and now sits tied with Jim Thome with 17 postseason jacks, good enough for 7th all time.
-Ortiz currently has a .733 batting average this World Series. That's the second highest single-series average in history. He also has the highest OPS (On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage) in World Series history (1.370). That's better than Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson. OPS adds hits (H), walks (BB), and hit by pitches (HBP) and divides that total by the total of at bats (AB), (BB), sacrifice flies (SF) and HBP. The equations look like this: H+BB+HBP/AB+BB+SF+HBP. Anything over 1.000 is really, really good. Ortiz also has 11 hits this World Series. That's only two shy of the single-series record.
-Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday became the second player in the last eight seasons with six home runs longer that 420 with his solo shot off Jon Lester in game five. The other is former Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.
-Game three ended in an obstruction call, which awarded the Cardinals the game-winning run. Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks got his legs entangled with Allen Craig of St. Louis after an overthrow from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Craig was thrown out at home but umpires decided that Middlebrooks obstructed Craig and awarded him home plate. That was the first time in World Series history a game has ended with an obstruction call.
-Game four ended with Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara picking off Cardinals rookie Kolten Wong. Wong entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the ninth with St. Louis down 4-2. It was the first World Series game to end on a pickoff.
-Red Sox starter Jon Lester joined Babe Ruth as the only two pitchers in Red Sox history with three World Series wins. Lester also became the fifth pitcher in MLB history to allow one run or fewer in at least his first three World Series starts, and the first since World War II ended in 1945. Additionally, his 16 and 1/3 scoreless innings streak was the third longest such streak in World Series history. Lester has a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings pitched, which is second all time in World Series history. Lester is the only active pitcher in the top 10 for career World Series ERA.
-Closer Koji Uehara is continuing his remarkable regular season with an equally amazing postseason. He's logged seven saves this posteason, tying him with four other closers. Of those seven saves, four of them were four or more outs. Only three other pitchers, Goose Gossage, Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon have recorded the same number of four out saves as Uehara. He could potentially surpass Rivera's record for most strikeouts without giving up a walk. Rivera has the record with 14 and Uehara is sitting at 15 with the World Series still going on.
The 2013 World Series has been one for the ages. Each game has provided something unique for the history books and Boston hopes to add another entry to the record books with its first World Series clinching win at Fenway Park since Reversing the Curse.
By Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
Bill Shields and I worked in the same newsroom for 25 years at WBZ. Born and bred in the heart of Texas, Billy never lost that southern drawl. He proudly displays his "Texas" decal on the rear window of his Jeep. Billy can make anyone laugh at any time. He never takes himself him too seriously in a business that breeds self absorption. He can be a pit bull reporter and a sweetheart at the same time. He is the only person I have ever seen who could put his feet on top of his desk, lean back, and take a "power nap" for ten minutes- complete with snoring. Everyone loves Billy.
Now he has lung cancer.
Bill shared the stunning news with this colleagues last week in an email shared with the station staff.
"You know how life is full of irony.. sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it can anger you," he wrote. "Well I find it frustratingly ironic that after finally quitting smoking (the 100th time), I have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Within a few days I will unleash my own aggression on the cancer. I will start chemo and radiation at Dana-Farber next week."
Two days before Bill's announcement, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman held a fundraiser at the Pine Brook Country Club in Weston. Over $150,000 was raised to benefit the Uniting Against Lung Cancer's national research program.
Raisman was also honoring her grandmother. Nancy Raisman died before she could see her grand daughter win Olympic gold.
"Just 8 months before the London Olympics my grandmother died," said Raisman. "The woman who encouraged me to fight so hard for my dreams wasn't there to see me reach the biggest dream I ever had."
It is impressive to see someone as young as Raisman (age 19) take on a cause and commit to making a difference. I first met Aly at the annual TD Garden "Tradition" event last month. When I thanked her for the interview, she told me about her fundraiser, took my business card, and said she would follow up. Which she did.
The event was hosted by Susan Wornick of WCVB fame, along with Channel 5's Heather Unruh, and Kiss 108's Matt Siegel. Also in attendance were Olympic Gold medalist Kayla Harrison, NHL Hall of Famer Brian Leetch, and Aly's coaches Silvia and Mahai Brestyan. Her special guests were Boston Marathon victim Jeff Bauman, and Carlos Arrendondo who heroically saved Jeff's life.
Raisman, after losing her grandmother is determined to help others fight the battle.
" It was important for me to her memory, as well as the countless others affected by lung cancer," she said. "This includes the patients and doctors who battle this terrible disease every day, the lung cancer survivors, and the families and friends of those individuals who lost their battle."
I am counting on my friend Bill Shields to win his battle.
"You guys know me," he said in his email. "Yet you might not know this: underneath my easygoing laughter is a street fighter (a few have witnessed it)... I will fight this with everything I have and win."
My vision is this:
Next year when Aly Raisman holds another event to raise funds for Uniting Against Lung Cancer, Bill Shields will be her special guest. Billy will be a living, breathing, completely healthy example of how it is possible to defeat lung cancer.
And my friend Bill Shields will be there to watch his boys play football, surf, graduate college, and start families of their own.
Good luck Billy- now go kick some butt.
follow on twitter @alicecooksports
By Paula Maloney, She's Game Sports
Bethany Hamilton. Devandra Jhejheria. Zach Hodskins. All three share a common denominator in their life. Each are outstanding athletes who 'make the impossible seem possible' in their respective fields of athletic endeavor. Hamilton as a world class surfer, Jhejheria as a world class javelin thrower, and Hodskins, who is defying all odds by being selected as a a preferred walk on for the University of Florida Men's basketball team.
All three compete with one arm.
Who is Zach Hodskins? The pride of Alpharetta, Georgia is being hailed as the " best one armed basketball player in the world." He caught the attention of Billy Donavon and John Calipari , Division I coaches at the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky respectively. Hodskins came off a sensational summer playing on the AAU circuit and caught the attention of the elite universities early on.
Alot of people counted Hodskins out on the court, yet he has proved the naysayers wrong. He has been selected as a preferred walk on for the Division I powerhouse University of Florida.
Hodskins can drain a three pointer, is an accurate passer and, quite simply, has got game. His work ethic is unparalled and his mantra is that " a disability will never hold him back."
"When I am out on the court I forget that my arm is not there." Passion and love for the sport helps me overcome all obstacles."
Zach has been turning heads since the tender age of six as he showcased his skills early on. This 6'4" 200 pound unassuming enigma played several sports but basketball caught his attention and a basketball became his best friend.
How has he been received on the court as a player missing his left arm below his elbow? " I have felt that a lot of players went easy on me, at first, and then slowly they could see that I could play." It would be fair to say that the word " pity" is not in his repertoire.
Zach, a native of Lexington, Kentucky hails J.J.Redick, the all time leading scorer for Duke University as someone he admires. Redick went on to play pro basketball for the Orlando Magic and currently is with the Los Angeles Clippers after a storied career playing under Coach Mike Kryzewski and the two recently spoke.
Redick publicly stated that " He did not expect to be a star but rather a team player."His humbleness yet ferocity on the court made him a player to aspire to in the eyes of Zach.
Athletes such as Hodskins need not be discounted due to their visually physical limitations. Hard work, determination and discipline are common traits seen in elite athletes and Zach is ready to showcase those hard earned results on the hardwood at the O'Connell Center.
"At Florida, I am going to have every opportunity to go on the floor and play." " If I work hard, Coach Donovan told me I will have a chance to play."
Zack Hodskins, you are a shooting star. I look forward to seeing your name on the Gator Nation and for several three pointers to be sunk from behind.
No doubt, this Gator will be leaving his mark on the court.
By Justin McGrail and Alice Cook, She's Game Sports
The Red Sox are baseball's comeback story of the year, and perhaps no player symbolizes the turn around better than Koji Uehara. The 38 year old relief pitcher wasn't the first option at closer heading into this season. He wasn't the second option either. The Sox acquired Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates and they also had Andrew Bailey healthy after missing last season due to injury. Hanrahan and Bailey both went down with different season-ending injuries and along came Koji.
Uehara has been stellar in his new role as the Red Sox closer, but his career path to the big leagues is more unorthodox than most. Most Japanese pitchers gain attention from scouts through Koshien, the national high school baseball tournament which is comparable to March Madness here in the states. Former Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka made his name in Koshien before playing professionally in Japan and the United States. Uehara didn't participate in Koshien. He wasn't even a pitcher in high school. He was an outfielder.
Japan's university testing for incoming students is very demanding. Uehara didn't pass his initial entrance exam so he spent the entire year studying. He didn't even play baseball at the time. To pay the bills, he took a job as a security guard. Baseball was the furthest thing from his mind. "I wasn't even playing at that point," he said. "My dream was to teach."
In that year off, Uehara read Nolan Ryan's "Pitching Bible". From it, he learned new weight training techniques that helped him bulk up, which in turn led to an uptick in his pitching velocity. He entered Osaka University of Health and Sports Sciences and picked up baseball again.
"My college was not really a baseball school," Uehara said, "so the manager told us just choose whatever position you want to play. The last year in high school, I pitched five innings and I thought it was fun. I thought pitching would be fun."
He began attracting scouts from the U.S. and Japan in his junior year and he eventually signed with the Japanese powerhouse Yomiuri Giants. In 1999, his rookie year, he won 20 games and won the Sawamura Award as Japan's best pro pitcher, the equivalent of the Cy Young Award. He won his second Sawamura Award in 2002 and was named an All-Star eight times in his 10 years playing in Japan.
Uehara signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009 and made it clear that he only wanted to be a starter. He had mediocre numbers as a starter and made two trips to the disabled list. He was moved to the bullpen in 2010 and converted 13 of 15 saves for a 96-loss team.
He was acquired by the Texas Rangers during the 2011 season to bolster their bullpen during their playoff run. Uehara gave up a home run in three consecutive playoff appearances, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to do so, and was subsequently left off the Rangers' World Series roster. His brought his numbers down in 2012, posting a 1.75 ERA in just 27 appearances due to a strained lat muscle.
He was signed as a free-agent by the Red Sox this past offseason and has been worth every penny.
"What he's doing is phenomenal," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's having a historic year."
The outfielder, turned pitcher, turned security guard, turned bullpen ace is also getting his wish to be a teacher. His lesson is a good one.
"Never give up."
Follow Alice on Twitter @alicecooksports