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I like Mike - former Bruins GM comes to the rescue

Posted by She's Game Sports October 27, 2012 06:40 AM

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Mike and Rosemary O'Connell carry the Stanley Cup to their hometown beach. (Photo credit: Rosemary O'Connell)


It was a beautiful October morning in New England.  The plan was to get on the 9:05 train to Boston for a doctor’s appointment that I  canceled three times, then meet a friend for lunch.

With coffee in hand, I parked my car at the commuter rail lot, stuck my dollar bills in the parking station and hopped on the train.  Settling in, I was looking forward to reading the morning papers which included all the stories on the Patriots-Jets game the day before and the upcoming debate that evening.  I pulled the papers from my bag, and remembered to get my wallet out to pay the conductor who would be down the aisle any second.  Then it happened.  I had no wallet.  Not in the bag, not stuck between the papers, not on my seat, not under the seat. My heart raced as I tried to retrace in my mind how I lost it.  I had it when I was stuffing the bills into the parking pay station. Now it was gone.

The train was making its first stop, and I raced to get off.  The conductor, noticing my complete panic mode asked if he could help.  ”Lost my wallet at the previous stop,” I said.  He replied, “Hey, don’t worry about it, you can pay next time.”  As I jumped off the train I yelled back, “I have to find that wallet… now!”

So there I was, a good two miles from my car and hopefully my wallet. The tracks were fenced off, so it was impossible to walk along them, not that I would any way. “Never go near train tracks.” I’ve been telling my kids that for 15  years.

The only way back was to walk on the shoulder of a highway.  There I was with my huge tote bag, 10-pound laptop, and high heeled boots, (that were definitely ‘not’ made for walking.)  I was overheated in my leather jacket because of my fast pace, so that went in my bag too.  Now sweating through my sweater, I realized there was no chance that wallet would still be there.  Looking at my watch, I knew I could not hoof it back to the train station in time to drive to Boston and be on time for my appointment. My day would be spent on the phone, canceling credit cards and replacing identification.  I wanted to either cuss or cry.  I was starting to do both.

Next thing I know a guy in a pick-up truck pulls over and says, “Alice, do you want a ride?”  I looked over and said, ” Yes! ”  This guy could have been a serial killer.  I didn’t care. I was getting in that truck.  He said my name, but that didn’t necessarily mean I knew him.  After all those years on local TV people sometimes say hello with my name, which is nice, but doesn’t mean I should be jumping in cars with them.

So I’m in the truck and I look over and realize the good Samaritan is Mike O’Connell, the former Boston Bruin, former Bruins GM, and  a fellow resident of my town.  ”Wow, I didn’t recognize you Mike,” I said, a  little embarrassed.  O’Connell looked like the guy in the Ford truck commercials- baseball cap, three day beard, barn jacket.

I told Mike what happened.  He took me back to the train station and to my car.  ”Do you want to go see if it’s still there?”  he asked.  I said, “Sure, why not?”  I had less than zero confidence I would ever see it again.

We walked over to the pay station; it was not there.  Then Mike looked under the pay board, and there it was, in the deep grass.  He crawled under the board, grabbed the wallet and handed it to me. I gave him a hug, a huge thanks, ran to my car and made my appointment on time.

Even though we live in the same town, I had not seen Mike O’Connell in some time.  After the LA Kings won the Cup last spring I saw Mike and his wife Rosemary out for a morning walk. I was on a run and on the other side of the street.  I yelled over “hey Mike, way to go!” with a big thumbs up. O’Connell is now with the Kings organization and he was part of the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship.  The old mug was in our little town last month courtesy of Mike O’Connell who took it to the  village common for all to touch and photograph.

It didn’t work out with the Mike O’Connell as the Bruin’s GM.  He joined the Kings six seasons ago with the title Pro Development an Special Assignments. O’Connell  is now a grandfather and enjoying  life in the same town where he grew up and learned how to play hockey.

As a player, O’Connell was a solid blue-liner for the Bruins from 1980-86.   He became GM of the Bruins in 2000, and was left holding the bag of a team that was a shell of its former self.  A half a dozen players left as free agents in the wake of the 2004-2005 lockout, and the Bruins paid the price. O’Connell was the guy who took the heat for trading Joe Thornton.   All these years later, the Bruins have their Cup, Mike O’Connell has his Cup and Joe Thornton is still waiting.

There are plenty of Mike O’Connell fingerprints on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins.   Both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron were drafted on O’Connell’s watch.  He acquired the draft pick that turned into Milan Lucic, and he was the only person in all of hockey that thought 29-year-old Tim Thomas wasn’t ready for the scrap heap.

One of my first stories as a reporter at WSBK, was a family feature on the O’Connell’s. It was 1982.  He wife Rose were proud parents of their first born- a baby girl.  That daughter has her own baby now, and Grandpa has his Cup.  Sometimes good guys do finish first.

The British slang the Patriots need to know

Posted by She's Game Sports October 26, 2012 09:26 AM

I've been to London twice, most recently in the summer of 2010. My daughter talked me into it after her high school graduation. As we took in the sights, the museums and the pubs for ten days, we also discovered that British English is a language of its own. Amazing how it could sound so proper and be so hilarious at the same time.

The following is a list of British slang the Patriots should be familiar with as they travel across the pond for the second time. Bill Belichick has made it clear that this is strictly a "business trip," so we'll try to keep it football related, not to be confused with soccer, which is their version of football. You know what I mean.

1. Arse over elbow - Like when we say head over heels. "Brandon Spikes just sent the Rams' Chris Givens arse over elbow. What a play."

2. Belt up - This is the British version of our "shut up." It's what Tom Brady should have said to "U Mad Bro" Richard Sherman walking off the field in Seattle.

3. Bender - A heavy drinking session. Rest assured there will be no "benders" for Patriots players while in London ... we think.

4. Blimey - An expression of surprise. "That was a blimey good play, don't you think chap?"

5. Bloody - A very useful word (but considered a swear by the British) to emphasize almost anything. "The defensive backs were bloody awful today." This is also a word that Americans should avoid saying. It's just all wrong without the accent.

6. Bomb - This is not a pass completion over 60 yards, although the expression does work in this instance because the British version means something is going really well or really fast.

7.Cheerio - Here this a breakfast cereal, over there it's a friendly way of saying goodbye. Imagine Belichick saying "cheerio" at the conclusion of his post game news conference. Right.

8.Cock up - I know what you're thinking. In Britain, it means you made a mistake. Really. Look it up.

9.Clear off - Over there it means get lost. It could come in handy from the Patriots sideline when they have too many men on the field.

10. Dishy - Our word for attractive or good looking. "Many women agree Tom Brady is dishy." Synonym: fit.

11. Get stuffed - We think of it as an excellent defensive play on the ball carrier. It's the British not-so-polite was of saying "go away."

12. Knees up - In England, if they are having a knees up, they are going to a party, as a opposed to a kneel down in football- a play designed to run out the clock

13. Leg it - A British term for run for it. Will the Patriots pass or leg it more?

14. Mate - Another word for friend. The Patriots have "team mates." Same kind of thing- we hope.

15. Mind the gap  - This expression has nothing to do with the 2-gap or 3-gap defense. The gap in England is that space between the train or tube platform and the train car. Our equivalent expression is "watch your step." Mind the gap is just so proper.

16. Piss poor - No explanation needed here.

17. Piss Up - A drinking session. Patriots fans making the trip are likely to have one of these.

18.Sack/sacked - In England it means getting fired. Same thing here. The fine fans in London will learn it also means flattening a quarterback.

19.Skive - What someone does to avoid something, like Tom Brady evading a sack. "Nice skive there by Brady."

20.Chuffed - Proud. Belichick will be so "chuffed" if his team plays well. Coach may wrap it up by saying something like this after the game (imagine Belichick saying this in a British accent):

"Coming here to London was the bee's knees (awesome). I fancied (liked) our approach, especially considering everyone was so knackered (tired) after the long flight. There are bits and bobs (various things) that we still have to work on. Nothing is easy peasy (easy) in this league. So we'll get back to Boston, try to get our batteries re-charged during the bye week and we'll see all you chaps again in a fortnight (two weeks). Cheers."

20 Questions with Bobby Valentine

Posted by She's Game Sports October 24, 2012 09:30 AM

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What would you ask Bobby Valentine if given the chance? (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

In case you missed it Tuesday night, Bobby Valentine spoke openly about the worst Red Sox season in nearly half a century for the first time since being fired as Red Sox manager. Valentine chose to voice his opinions on The Season Gone Wrong in typical Valentinian fashion: he appeared on national television as a guest on Bob Costas's "Costas Tonight" show.

The interview itself was a letdown. Costas failed to bring the heat. He asked questions in a way that made it seem as if Valentine was nothing more than a victim, and he was quite gentle on the former Sox manager. Instead of asking what the coaching staff could have done better, Costas asked if Valentine felt undermined or supported. He didn't press Valentine about his relationship with ownership or Ben Cherington, even after Valentine hinted that the relationship with Cherington was not ideal.

And so, since we were hoping for a bit more juicy details in the interview, we've come up with a list -- both serious and facetious -- of questions we would have asked Valentine if we were in Costas's shoes.


  1. In your opinion, what ultimately doomed the Red Sox in 2012?

  2. How many times did you play cribbage/trash-talk with Dustin Pedroia?

  3. Have you ever heard of suspending a player for throwing a temper tantrum and why did Alfredo Aceves' behavior reach the point that he required that type of punishment?

  4. Who has more swag, David Ortiz or his son?

  5. What happened between you and Kevin Youkilis, and what is the current state of your relationship?

  6. Which brand of antacid did you require during the season and at what point did you have to switch to the extra-strength version?

  7. When you say that David Ortiz gave up on the season, do you feel like any other players also gave up on the team/season? If so, who and when? We want names.

  8. Does John Henry always speak in that quiet, subdued voice? What does John Henry yelling sound like?

  9. What was managing Josh Beckett like and why did it not work out for him in Boston?

  10. WEEI or 98.5 The Sports Hub?

  11. Considering the amount of injuries the team had, would it have been possible/how could the team have finished better than last in the AL East?

  12. How hilarious would it have been to have you, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez in the same clubhouse?

  13. What is it like to manage a losing, crabby team knowing you'll be fired? What helped you finish out the season?

  14. Which players sent you text messages that made you cry? Which players never spoke to you again after the end of the season? We want names. And phone numbers. Possibly addresses as well.

  15. How close is this Red Sox team to making the necessary attitude changes needed before becoming a winning organization once again?

  16. Would you consider doing a duet with Taylor Swift about your break-up with the Red Sox? We hear she's good at writing break-up songs.

  17. How much of the drama reported by the media this season actually happened? What can you flat out confirm and flat out deny?

  18. Since you claim to have invented the wrap sandwiches, do you ask for free wraps when you go to restaurants that are not your own?

  19. Would you still have applied to be the manager of the Boston Red Sox last season had you known then what you know now about the organization and the players on the Red Sox?

  20. Obama or Romney?

That's our list. If you could have asked Bobby Valentine a question last night, what would you have asked? Or, how do you think Bobby Valentine would have answered some of these questions?

New TD Garden president Amy Latimer's road to the top

Posted by She's Game Sports October 22, 2012 12:56 PM

IMG_4898-200x300.jpgBy Kathryn Tappen, She's Game Sports

There's a bottomless mug that sits on one very important desk at the TD Garden which reads "It's all good."

The slogan is actually the motto that colleagues, friends, and family know Amy Latimer, newly appointed president of the TD Garden, lives by and is the reason it's on prominent display on her office desk in Boston.

On September 20th, Latimer's new title became official and very public.

"The outpouring of support was amazing," Latimer said. "It's exciting! My family is really proud. I was really touched by the Sports Business Journal and the lead story, "Chasing Amy." I got hundreds of emails, and I don't usually get shocked, but that shocked me."

But the fact of the matter is, Latimer shouldn't be shocked. She has worked for the TD Garden, one of the top sports and entertainment venues in the world, since its opening in 1995 and has now assumed the venue's top post -- not to the surprise of her colleagues.

NHL Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins President Cam Neely occupies the office next to Latimer at TD Garden and spends countless hours in meetings with her.

"Amy will do a fantastic job as President of the TD Garden as she has a great understanding of what it takes to be in this position to help run a building with two professional sports teams, as well as the numerous other events that the TD Garden hosts," said Neely. "Amy also has a wonderful working relationship with both TD Garden and Boston Bruins associates which will help make this transition for her much smoother."

The transition to her current role came about a year ago. Latimer, then Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the TD Garden and Boston Bruins, began to take on more responsibility, as former President John Wentzell transitioned into his role as President of Delaware North Companies Boston and Delaware North's operations in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Latimer, along with Hugh Lombardi, TD Garden's Sr. Vice President/General Manager, were co-leading the operation of the TD Garden.

"We got to be more involved with the human resources aspect of the business, gained more insight into the budgeting side, and had more communications with Delaware North from a global standpoint," Latimer said.

Latimer's day to day responsibility has certainly changed as she calls it, "shedding some of my Bruins." She recently spent three days visiting other venues to see how the TD Garden can make improvements for future opportunities in her own venue down the road.

"I'm taking care of the house now, more so than before."

And that house gets pretty busy. Home to the NHL's Boston Bruins and the NBA's Boston Celtics along with numerous concerts, sporting and entertainment events, the TD Garden facilitates showbiz for millions of people on a yearly basis.

But the fondest memories for Latimer in her 17 years on Causeway Street were the two championships won in a three-year span (Celtics - 2008, Bruins - 2011).

"I don't know what event matches the energy of the playoffs and in particular the Finals," she said. "It was electric. You start every season thinking this is the year for your team, and to see it come through and happen is an amazing ride. I wouldn't trade that experience or energy rush for the world.

"It was so important for us to capitalize on those playoffs, from a fan perspective and a business standpoint."

Her rise to the top in a male dominated industry is familiar territory for Latimer. A mother of three boys (Jackson, 14, Grant, 12, Harrison, almost 11), Latimer credits her supportive husband of 17 years, Jody, with helping to keep things in order in their life.

"He's a saint! Good husband," she said. "It's more of a partnership these days. There are people who have traditional roles in their marriage but if you have two parents who are working it is a balance. I take doctor appointments, Jody has dentists. There are responsibilities we both have, and that is really important.

"I try not to miss anything in my sons' lives. My kids get it. There are very few times where I have said to them, 'I'm not going to be there,' and they understand."

Despite making breakfast for her kids every day, baking on the weekend in her newly renovated kitchen, dusting off her antique collection of fine china and playing for her town's women's softball team 'Luscious Ladies' on Tuesday nights, the self-proclaimed "wanna-be Martha Stewart" doesn't try to pretend for a minute that she has it all.

In fact, she doesn't think that "having it all" exists.

"What exactly does that mean? I don't even know," Latimer said. "I'm tossed salad sometimes, like I didn't charge the camcorder or I can't find the camera and I need to ask a friend to take a picture of my kid. I've done that more than I care to, but really? My kid is not going to end up in therapy because of it."

With three active boys and her nephew all living under the same roof, getting everyone off to school is perhaps a more difficult task than the day to day grind of her job at the TD Garden.

"Oh my gosh, organized chaos!" she said. "Well the good news is there's not a lot of drama about clothing. The best thing about boys is it's food, ball and a roof over their head.

"I am such a fan of kids enjoying sports. In a team sport you learn very early that you can't pick your coach, which means you can't pick your boss. Most of the time you can't pick the other kids on the team so you have to learn to work with all these personalities for that same goal. Work-life balance early on in life is the best thing you can do for a kid, giving them all those tools to succeed in life."

So how did this Maryland gal and former University of Rhode Island basketball star do it?

"You work hard, and do your job, and it shines through," she said. "I have always believed that nice things happen to nice people."

Latimer's sense of humor, combined with her "It's all good" attitude is what makes people feel at ease around her. She approaches every day with a lighthearted mentality.

"There's an openness when people realize you are truly dedicated to your job, you want to do the best for the organization and have their best interest at hand," she said. "No one is going to stand in the way of that. It would be pretty tough."

Latimer sees the female role in team management increasing, especially with women occupying an analytical role within the business. She believes a woman can most certainly handle the operation on the team side and business side.

"I see many doors opening up in the future," she said. "It's exciting! I think there will be more and more women, I don't know when and I don't know who the next ones are, but I see women who are very bright and will be very successful in this industry."

U Mad Bro? Brady Bashing

Posted by She's Game Sports October 18, 2012 04:07 PM

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Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman posted this photo on Twitter, then deleted it, with the caption "U mad bro?" after Sunday's game. (Elaine Thompson-Associated Press)

Anyone can have a bad day - even Tom Brady. Two interceptions, two intentional groundings, and a bunch of bad passes made for one of Brady's worst outings in quite some time.

The Patriots had more problems than Brady last week. The secondary got burned to a crisp, coaching decisions were suspect and the running game hit a brick wall. There were issues across the board.

Somewhat surprisingly, a good portion of the Monday morning quarterbacking revolved around the quarterback.

The sports talk lines were lighting up - and this is what they were saying:
"Getting old." "Worn down." "Less arm strength." "Ducking under pressure." "Mental mistakes." "Throws into the dirt."

Wow. Brady bashing. That's something new around here - and totally ridiculous.

There is no question Brady's 395 yards were tarnished by the team's one for six in the red zone, and most importantly the final score. It was an uncharacteristic performance for sure, but let's not put the two-time Super Bowl MVP out to pasture just yet.

We have been spoiled through the years. People in New England have come to expect the miracles down the stretch, sticking the nail in the coffin, and the Patriots walking off with another win.

Brady can't do it all. His career-high 58 pass attempts meant nothing without a running game. 87 rushing yards on 26 carries won't cut it. If Brady is throwing it close to 60 times a game it can't be a good thing - no matter how many yards he's racking up.

It's not just fans and media picking on Brady, opposing players are getting into the fray. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, well known for his trash talking, posted a picture on his Twitter, which has since been deleted. The photo showed Sherman yapping at Brady as they walked off the field after the game. The caption said, "U mad bro?"

According to Sherman, Brady told him and a teammate to 'come see me after the game.' The Patriots were winning at the time.

On WEEI radio Tuesday, Brady said he didn't see Sherman after the game. (In the photo it looks like Brady's eyes are closed, so this could be true.)

Brady, as usual, took the high road.

"That's part of football," Brady told Dennis and Callahan. "Everyone is entitled to what they say and their behavior. We as Patriots have always handled it in a different way. But when you win, you can do whatever you want."

Sherman didn't stop with the Twitter comment. In the post game he had some words to say about Brady and the no huddle offense.

"Anytime you run a gimmick offense, you're a little bit afraid - you're not sound in what you are doing in your base stuff. There is a reason it's not effective, because there are great defenses out there who will stuff it."

A little bit afraid? Tom Brady... AFRAID? Right buddy. And who are you again? I never heard of Richard Sherman until he started flapping his mouth off.

So listen up people. No badmouthing Tom Brady. Especially if you have been paying attention the last 11 years.

Brady is a leader, he's a fighter, he's a winner and he still has his fastball. I like that he told Sherman to come see him after the game. It shows that he's cocky too - and there's nothing wrong with that.

With Rex Ryan and the Jets coming to town, maybe somebody should ask the Jets coach who he would rather have, Mark Sanchez or Tom Brady? Truth or dare.

I am picking the Patriots this week in a rout. "U mad?" Yeah, Brady is probably heated. And if anyone out there wants to talk about once great players who can't get it done -take a look at A-Rod. Now, that one is worth a discussion.
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NFL

Pete Carroll: the anti-Bill Belichick

Posted by She's Game Sports October 12, 2012 11:27 AM


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Pete Carroll will face his former team Sunday. (Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE)

If opposites attract, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick would be bosom buddies.

About the only thing that the two head coaches have in common is the New England Patriots. One has famously taken the team to the top three times and is considered a coaching genius. The other left town with a 27-21 record over three seasons, one playoff appearance and the same smile he arrived with.

Carroll and Belichick will face each other Sunday as opposing head coaches for the first time since 1994 when Coach Belichick was with the Browns and Coach Carroll was with the Jets. For the record, Belichick's team won that game, 27-7.

Pete Carroll's time with the Patriots was sandwiched between the imposing presence of Bill Parcells and the dour but effective nature of Bill Belichick.

I was there when each of these coaches was introduced, and it was Carroll's first presser that holds the big memory. As Carroll stood at the podium in the crowded room, a member of the media sneezed. Carroll looked over at the writer and said, "God bless you."

Right then I knew we weren't in Big Tunaville anymore.

Carroll is said to be the perfect college coach. At Southern Cal, his high fives, player hugging, and Heisman winners led him to national championships. It all worked perfectly in the world of boola boola, bowl games, and beautiful beaches. But when Carroll sensed the foul smell of an NCAA investigation, it was time to go. Pete left USC faster than you could shake a pom pom.

He took over as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010.

From the day he gushed the words "I am pumped and jacked" back with the Jets, Carroll has been viewed as a coach whose enthusiasm is maybe a bit over the top. He is definitely a guy who always sees the glass half full - even if the liquid it holds is toxic.

Carroll is not the type to strike fear into the hearts of his players or the media. There is a hesitancy to ask Bill Belichick the tough question- especially after a game- win or lose. Anyone who watches the Patriots 5th Quarter postgame show knows how awkward and brief those Q & A sessions can be.

No question was too inane for California Pete. I remember a writer asking Carroll about the dynamics of the coin toss. The question was, "Are you a heads guy or a tails guy?" And there was Pete, with his boyish grin answering, "Hmmm. I am definitely a tails guy." Everyone laughed, including Carroll.

On the day he was let go from the Patriots, the news vans were lined up in the Foxboro Stadium parking lot. Local TV stations figured they could at least get a shot of him walking out of the team offices for the final time. Instead of walking hastily to his car on one of the worst days of his life, Carroll approached the throng of reporters, photographers and cameramen. He shook each and everyone's hand and said thanks for everything.

Carroll owns the second-highest winning percentage among all Patriots coaches (.549). No need to tell anyone who leads the pack.

In 2007, Carroll was asked by Sports Illustrated about his experience with the Patriots. He said, "I was there for three years, and it was the hardest 10 years I ever had."

Carroll had some tough times in New England, but his memories aren't all bad.

"I loved living there and representing those fans. I thought they were awesome," said Carroll in a press conference earlier this week. "They were so intense and loved the team so much in all the sports, not just football. Whether it was basketball, hockey, baseball, this is a great fan base, and I loved being connected with them. And I appreciated it more the tougher they got on us, because I knew how much they loved it and how much they cared about it."

Pete Carroll did not work out for the Patriots. It doesn't make him a bad guy- just not the right guy. Two years after Carroll was fired, the Patriots were Super Bowl champions, and no team in football has had more success since.

The Patriots have the right guy to thank for it- Bill Belichick.

The last strike against Lance Armstrong

Posted by She's Game Sports October 11, 2012 02:36 PM


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Recent revelations about Lance Armstrong and doping create more doubts about his innocence. (photo from lancearmstrong.com)

I was on the golf course Wednesday when the "Breaking News" update came in on my phone.

Mistake number one on my part was checking my phone on the course. Mistake number two was wanting to believe Lance Armstrong back in August when he announced that he was giving up his fight against the latest wave of charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Like many others who watched history as Armstrong went on to win a record seven Tour de France titles, I felt sorry for the athlete we grew to love. I wanted to believe that he was telling the truth all along, but had given up on the legal war in his life.

After all, if Armstrong could fight the biggest battle of his life against cancer and win, why then could he not take on the agency who accused him of cheating?

The answer became abundantly clear on Wednesday.

As it turns out, a sports fan's worst nightmare came true. The New York Times reported, "The United States Anti-Doping Agency released details of its investigation of Lance Armstrong, calling it the most sophisticated doping program in recent sports history -- a program in which it said Armstrong played a key role by doping, supplying doping products and demanding that his top teammates dope so he could be successful."

And so the story goes. Another larger than life athlete bites the dust.

I grew up watching Lance Armstrong and his Tour de France greatness. I wasn't a fan of cycling, and I knew little about the sport. But he was compelling, a true competitor in every sense of the word, and a champion over, and over, and over again.

So now what? Armstrong's name becomes part of the ABC's of professional athletes who cheated their way to the top. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and so on and so on. I cringe to think of who might be next.

But the sad reality is that no one wins in this awful revelation. Millions of dollars were spent by the antidoping agency, as they've been gathering evidence on Armstrong for the past several years. What if that money was donated to charity? Let's for argument sake stick with Lance. In the past 15 years, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the largest athlete-named charity in the world, has raised $480 million.

What's left? Whether you believed Lance or not, we all have to accept the grim reality of the details released on Wednesday.

Lance wasn't superhuman after all.

I do not feel sorry for Lance Armstrong anymore. Rather now, I cannot begin to imagine the pain that Armstrong's fierce competitors, who missed out on the Tour de France title after decades of training and regime, are suffering. His former teammates, who risked greatness themselves in an effort to let a bonafide champ take the prize. The children who dreamed of being Lance Armstrong one day were duped. The fans no longer care to recall the memories and images of a dominant champion clad in yellow.

And the world is once again left to wonder: Are we witnessing greatness, or simply a mirage that is neither real nor honorable?

MLB

Grit, heart and the postseason: who to root for in the MLB playoffs

Posted by She's Game Sports October 10, 2012 07:10 PM

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Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy smiles in the dugout during last night's game. (Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE)

With the Red Sox season having mercifully ended nearly a week ago, it may seem like time for some to pretend that all of baseball has ended for a few months. It may seem like time to throw all of one’s passion into the Patriots, or into being vehemently angry over not having the ability to watch the Bruins.

But baseball is still here, and even though it is not in Boston, there is still a reason to watch this October. The drama of postseason play is universal as the story lines go further than just wins and loses. It’s about character, grit and everything that baseball fans love about the game.

It would be easy to say that Red Sox fans should automatically root for the team playing against the New York Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles are the underdog story of the postseason, and not just because they are playing against the so-called Evil Empire. Baltimore is making its first appearance in the postseason since 1997.

“Hey, this lineup here is a lineup that is a bunch of guys that are angry, want to play, want to win and ain’t taking no for an answer,” Baltimore’s center fielder Adam Jones told the media after the team defeated the Yankees on Monday.

That unbridled determination built the game. It is the reason why viewers become so emotionally attached to teams and players.

Yet, as much as the underdog story resonates with nearly everyone, and as much as every Red Sox fan would like to see the Yankees lose, there is a different team – one in the other American League series – that deserves some attention.

While the Red Sox season was continuing to crumble more than anyone could have predicted, the Oakland Athletics were going through something worse and on a more personal level. The A’s story goes further than baseball.

Just over a month ago, Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy suffered a life-threatening injury when he was hit in the head by a line drive. A mere three weeks after having brain surgery to save his life, while receiving the A’s nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award, McCarthy announced he would resume throwing the very next day.

Even after being there put him in a near-death situation, McCarthy will return to the mound.

That is true grit.

Last week, another A’s pitcher experienced a horrific life-altering experience when his newborn son suddenly passed away less than a day after he was born. Pat Neshek received the call from his wife during Oakland’s last regular season game that his son Gehrig had stopped breathing.

Neshek did not think he would return to baseball this season, but on Saturday he pitched in the seventh inning. Like the rest of his teammates, he wore a black patch on his sleeve with his son’s initials: GJN. After he retired the only two batters he faced, he patted the patch on his arm, and after looking to the sky found his wife in the crowd.

Neshek broke down in the dugout after pitching, but he did not regret going back to the game.

“I was hoping we’d win this game, but it will be a game I’ll remember forever,” Neshek said to the media after the A’s lost. “It was the right choice, it definitely was, being here.”

That is true heart.

While some might say that Neshek returned to the field too soon, baseball appears to be a part of his healing process, just like it can be for any fan going through a challenging time. The sport presents an opportunity to throw everything into a single pitch and remember what it is like to feel good about something.

Baseball is not perfect, and it is just a game. But these stories are real, human pieces to the larger puzzle that makes up the postseason. Winning the ALDS, or the American League or even the World Series will not stop McCarthy from remembering that moment when he was hit, nor will it heal the pain that Neshek and his wife feel.

But for a brief amount of time, a win can mean something more for them. It is not just another ring to add to the collection. It is a feel-good moment in a month of pain and heartache.

More than an underdog, the Athletics present an opportunity to support a team that needs some love as it heals.

Before you shut baseball out of your mind until the spring, think about those players that are a part of a larger cause. Remember the reasons why you fell in love with baseball, and consider, even for just one second, that maybe a win can be more than just defeating one’s opponent.

FULL ENTRY

Who needs whom in the NHL?

Posted by She's Game Sports October 8, 2012 01:41 PM


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Ilya Bryzgalov of the Philadelphia Flyers is one of many Russian players who has chosen to move to North America to play for the National Hockey League. Bryzgalov implied recently in an interview that NHLers might be tempted to remain in the Kontinental Hockey League overseas regardless of NHL labor disputes. (Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE)

Bobby Ryan is right: it's not really possible to pencil in lengthy CBA negotiations when you are busy scoring goals or blocking shots in Kladno, Magnitogorsk, or Geneva.

However, it's also not easy to tell over 1,000 active players to not work or stay active when the jobs they have committed to will not ask them back. There is always room on a European team's depth chart for a skilled player since the best of the best usually end up in North America. When North America won't have them, choosing Europe seems as easy as picking the ripest apple out of the basket. The play won't be quite as hard, the competition won't be quite as tough, but they're still going to make some money and stay conditioned.

The players don't need the NHL to make their livings, but they certainly want to base their careers there. It's the culture, the sheer amount of money, the stardom and the atmosphere of North American hockey that players aspired to become a part of before they ended up hearing their names called on draft day. The management and ownership of the League strives to maintain that in tandem with the NHLPA. And there's no bigger reminder that there are other fish in the sea than seeing your best talent continue to live their lives without the most competitive and popular hockey league in the world.

If it weren't just business, I'd say it was a bargaining chip. As if everyone who has left for Europe just said, "We don't need you. We can, in fact, get on without you." Unfortunately, it is just business, and most of the players know they will be back once all of this blows over - whether that's this month or next July.

It has been said that the fans have no stake in this because regardless of how many of us decide to not give the NHL our money or how loudly we voice our annoyance at the lack of hockey, the NHL will still be a multi-billion dollar business when the new CBA is negotiated. But both the fan involvement and the fact that the players don't necessarily need the NHL are worth considering in terms of the league's long-term viability. If every CBA negotiation is going to be like this, it might not even be worth it to hold up the National Hockey League as something great to aspire to -- not to mention that the business side of it will eventually begin to suffer.

So, when Bobby Ryan says that players defecting to Europe are "running from the problem", he kind of has a point. One can infer that Ryan and others who share his opinion still uphold the NHL and being an NHL player as things worth fighting for, and they see leaving for Europe as potentially endangering the League itself, not just, say, the first half of this season.

After all, while the players don't necessarily need this league, the league certainly needs them. The coexistence of a management and a players' union that so deeply, deeply lack trust between them is yet another red flag of an unhealthy business being sustained on poor practices.

In the meantime: the most solid, up-to-date news we actually have about the negotiations is the fact that deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA general counsel Steve Fehr actually spoke on the phone to discuss speaking again in order to schedule a time to speak this week. So they had a phone conversation to schedule a phone conversation to schedule a meeting, if we're to believe the press. These are the salient tidbits of gossip that we are hanging onto in early October.

And, even worse for North American hockey: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is stirring up controversy of his own by saying that Russian players might just stay in the KHL after the lockout is over, citing, in addition to the heartwarming prospect of playing in front of their hometowns as superstars, the fact that there is a great deal of money in corporate sponsorship in Russia, perhaps more than players might make in the NHL.

The various labor disputes on our side of the pond could certainly make the KHL an attractive destination for talented players, since the neither the KHL nor its predecessor, the Russian Superleague, suffered any notable labor dispute. While the RSL did not have a union, the Kontinental Hockey League Players Trade Union was formed upon the creation of the KHL in 2008. The KHL, it should be noted, has stricter rules in place than the NHL in some aspects, including a history of "forced" RFA contracts wherein players under 28 have been legally bound to sign offer sheets whether they want to or not, and such decisions were upheld by Russian courts. Maybe having a labor dispute in Russia is more trouble than it's worth, regardless of whether players are happy with the KHLPTU's end of the deal.

All of this speculation notwithstanding: the season was supposed to begin this week, and there is still no end in sight.

Bobby Valentine's final ride

Posted by She's Game Sports October 5, 2012 10:00 AM


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Bobby Valentine has had his final bike ride to Fenway Park. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

After the final game of the Red Sox's sorry 2012 season, Bobby Valentine was asked what he planned to do next. He said, "My plan now is to wake up and have a long bike ride."

Bobby Valentine is riding out of town the same way he rode in - on his bike.

Every morning during spring training Bobby would cruise in on his bike before the sun came up. The Red Sox equipment staff had to take the bike apart and put it back together in each city the team visited. Valentine lives less than a mile from Fenway Park, and he rode his bike to work every day. He stayed so late after a game one night that he got locked into the ballpark and couldn't get out. It was just Bobby and his bike trapped like rats.

We would be hard-pressed to every find another personality like Bobby V, and his unusual mode of transportation is just one of many things that makes the man completely unique. Love him or hate him, Valentine is anything but boring.

Here was a baseball manager that performed as a ballroom dancer at the 1964 World's Fair at age 14. He can salsa, he can cha cha, and he can do the sock hop. He claims to have invented the wrap sandwich. Unfortunately, Valentine is also really good at putting his foot in his mouth.

As Boston bids farewell to Bobby Valentine, let's take one more look at the 'best of Bobby.'

April 15

Valentine says he doesn't think Kevin Youkilis is "as physically or emotionally into the game." Youk was dumbfounded, and his team mate Dustin Pedroia famously said, "That's not how we do things around here" in response to Valentine publicly calling out Youk. Valentine apologized for the comment and reiterated his regret on the final day day of the season.

April 21

After the Red Sox blew a 9-0 lead and lost to the Yankees 15-9, Valentine said, "I think we've hit bottom, if this isn't the bottom, we'll find some new ends of the earth, I guess."

Be careful what you wish for- the Red Sox were not even close to the abyss.

July 30

After Red Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney punched a door and broke his pinkie finger, Valentine says, "boys will be boys." Instead of leaving it there, Bobby added that the door had other dents from a number of players who smashed their fist into it. "He must have went at it in the wrong direction," Valentine said of Sweeney.

August 1

It is revealed that earlier in the season, Valentine chided Will Middlebrooks after the rookie misplayed a couple of balls. Valentine's "nice inning, kid" remark went back to the owners and Valentine was left to explain to his bosses that he offered Middlebrooks words of support after the game. It was never revealed what player, coach or employee threw the manager under the bus in that situation.

September 5

A few days earlier, Valentine was late to the ballpark in Oakland after a 20-2 loss the night before. Valentine got stuck in Bay Area traffic after going to pick his son up in traffic. WEEI talk show host Glenn Ordway asked Bobby if he had checked out for the season, and Valentine (jokingly) said he would like to punch Ordway in the face.

September 12

Fresh off a suspension for slamming the door of the manager's office, pitcher Alfredo Aceves did not hand the ball to Valentine during a pitching change. Aceves took the "long way" back to the dugout in a sign of defiance to the manager. After the game Valentine said, "who cares if he showed me up? If I have to explain Aceves' actions, I'll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard."

September 14

With the Red Sox clearly on their way to their worst record since 1965, Valentine told the media, "This is the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."

Ouch.

It's been a tough and trying year for anyone associated with the Red Sox. Say this about Bobby Valentine: he is not boring. He said some stupid things, but the burden of this horrible team should not be put squarely on his shoulders. The blame pie is shared with the owners, the front office, the players, the coaches, which reminds me ...

October 3

Valentine is asked if he felt undermined by his coaches. "Yes," he said, "just what I feel."

Several days before the season ended, Valentine crashed his bike in Central Park while trying to read a text sent by Dustin Pedroia.

Fitting that his first ever bike accident would put a cap on this train wreck of a season.

Bobby Valentine's final ride

Posted by She's Game Sports October 5, 2012 10:00 AM


bv600.jpg

Bobby Valentine has had his final bike ride to Fenway Park. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

After the final game of the Red Sox's sorry 2012 season, Bobby Valentine was asked what he planned to do next. He said, "My plan now is to wake up and have a long bike ride."

Bobby Valentine is riding out of town the same way he rode in - on his bike.

Every morning during spring training Bobby would cruise in on his bike before the sun came up. The Red Sox equipment staff had to take the bike apart and put it back together in each city the team visited. Valentine lives less than a mile from Fenway Park, and he rode his bike to work every day. He stayed so late after a game one night that he got locked into the ballpark and couldn't get out. It was just Bobby and his bike trapped like rats.

We would be hard-pressed to every find another personality like Bobby V, and his unusual mode of transportation is just one of many things that makes the man completely unique. Love him or hate him, Valentine is anything but boring.

Here was a baseball manager that performed as a ballroom dancer at the 1964 World's Fair at age 14. He can salsa, he can cha cha, and he can do the sock hop. He claims to have invented the wrap sandwich. Unfortunately, Valentine is also really good at putting his foot in his mouth.

As Boston bids farewell to Bobby Valentine, let's take one more look at the 'best of Bobby.'

April 15

Valentine says he doesn't think Kevin Youkilis is "as physically or emotionally into the game." Youk was dumbfounded, and his team mate Dustin Pedroia famously said, "That's not how we do things around here" in response to Valentine publicly calling out Youk. Valentine apologized for the comment and reiterated his regret on the final day day of the season.

April 21

After the Red Sox blew a 9-0 lead and lost to the Yankees 15-9, Valentine said, "I think we've hit bottom, if this isn't the bottom, we'll find some new ends of the earth, I guess."

Be careful what you wish for- the Red Sox were not even close to the abyss.

July 30

After Red Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney punched a door and broke his pinkie finger, Valentine says, "boys will be boys." Instead of leaving it there, Bobby added that the door had other dents from a number of players who smashed their fist into it. "He must have went at it in the wrong direction," Valentine said of Sweeney.

August 1

It is revealed that earlier in the season, Valentine chided Will Middlebrooks after the rookie misplayed a couple of balls. Valentine's "nice inning, kid" remark went back to the owners and Valentine was left to explain to his bosses that he offered Middlebrooks words of support after the game. It was never revealed what player, coach or employee threw the manager under the bus in that situation.

September 5

A few days earlier, Valentine was late to the ballpark in Oakland after a 20-2 loss the night before. Valentine got stuck in Bay Area traffic after going to pick his son up in traffic. WEEI talk show host Glenn Ordway asked Bobby if he had checked out for the season, and Valentine (jokingly) said he would like to punch Ordway in the face.

September 12

Fresh off a suspension for slamming the door of the manager's office, pitcher Alfredo Aceves did not hand the ball to Valentine during a pitching change. Aceves took the "long way" back to the dugout in a sign of defiance to the manager. After the game Valentine said, "who cares if he showed me up? If I have to explain Aceves' actions, I'll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard."

September 14

With the Red Sox clearly on their way to their worst record since 1965, Valentine told the media, "This is the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball."

Ouch.

It's been a tough and trying year for anyone associated with the Red Sox. Say this about Bobby Valentine: he is not boring. He said some stupid things, but the burden of this horrible team should not be put squarely on his shoulders. The blame pie is shared with the owners, the front office, the players, the coaches, which reminds me ...

October 3

Valentine is asked if he felt undermined by his coaches. "Yes," he said, "just what I feel."

Several days before the season ended, Valentine crashed his bike in Central Park while trying to read a text sent by Dustin Pedroia.

Fitting that his first ever bike accident would put a cap on this train wreck of a season.

About the author

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