How hard is it to hit a fastball? Ask Nomar

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff September 28, 2012 05:14 PM

No, technically the correct answer is not, "Pretty tough, as the Red Sox proved all summer,'' though our judges will accept it.

How hard is it really to hit a fastball? Let's put it this way: It takes one-tenth of second just to locate a fastball traveling at over 90 miles per hour, and in that time it advances 12 feet.

That's one of the things you'll learn during a segment on a new series on Disney XD called "Disney XD ESPN Sport Science,'' which premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. We mention this because the program features Red Sox great Nomar Garciaparra participating in a fun experiment breaking down the difficulty, skill and science behind what it takes to hit a fastball.

The series is an offshoot of ESPN's Emmy Award-winning series Sport Science that uses science to uncover sports' biggest myths and mysteries. Other athletes who will be featured include Dwight Howard, Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis.

Check out the clip below to see how Nomar fares, and whether he still adjusts his batting gloves after every pitch.


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Tom Brady, Gisele star in new video promoting candy company

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff September 27, 2012 09:25 AM

We're not sure if Unreal Candy will outsell Gronk Flakes, but Tom Brady is back as a pitchman for the local healthy candy company in a new YouTube video posted earlier this week.

The Patriots star quarterback appears with his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, actor Matt Damon, musician John Legend, and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in the promotional video for the company founded by the Brookline father-and-son team of Michael and Nicky Bronner.

"You want to see me happy, let me open this thing up," Brady says while holding a candy bar. "I could eat about 10 of them."

Brady is also seen flicking a field goal through some finger uprights in one of the short clips he appears in.

This isn't the first video Brady has appeared in for the candy company. In July, Brady was featured in a video that showed him in a staring contest with surprised customers at a local CVS.

Report: NFL refs could return by this weekend

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 26, 2012 12:09 PM
The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have an agreement in principle "at hand" to end the lockout of the officials, a source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The two sides made enough progress Tuesday night that the regular officials could return to game action as soon as this weekend, according to the report. Replacement referees have been used for the first three weeks of the season.

Controversial calls
have been front-and-center in several key games. Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game ended with a questionable touchdown as Seattle's Golden Tate was awarded the score despite Green Bay's M.D. Jennings appearing to have possession and despite a non-call on Tate for pushing off another defender. Administering the rules in a timely fashion has also been an issue for the replacements.

The league and the union have been negotiating over compensation for the officials, with a pension plan being one of the sticking points. Sources told Mortensen that the final hurdle in getting a deal done is "about a little more money."

We'll bring you more on the story as it develops.

'Call It Maybe' mocks replacement refs

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 26, 2012 09:38 AM

You knew this was bound to happen.

Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" song has been spoofed hundreds of times on YouTube. The NFL's replacement referees were the latest to be mocked.

Comedians ridicule NFL over botched call

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 26, 2012 08:58 AM

The NFL replacement referees' game-ending controversial call on Monday Night Football that gave the Seahawks a victory over the Packers has taken the Internet by storm. Popular comedians have followed along, dissing the replacement referees left and right.

The Green Bay NBC affiliate used a replacement weather guy to retaliate the call against them and promoted it with #replacementweatherguy on Twitter. The fake forecast called for -200 degree weather at 7 a.m. and heated up to 346 degrees by noon. The video shows the real forecast afterward.

Jay Leno opened his show Tuesday night by touching on the replacement refs. His team inserted fake Seahawks players hoisting a referee on their shoulders in the video of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's postgame interview.



Jimmy Kimmel Live produced a feature called, "Are you smarter than a replacement referee?" A person from the show took to the streets with a fake video replay booth and asked pedestrians to make the call. After Kimmel showed the original play, audience members cheered. Kimmel responded, "People who don't care about justice I guess."

In an episode produced earlier this season Comedy Central's Conan O'Brien blasted the replacements by mocking them with fake referees. The fake refs read Spanish out of a fake NFL rule book and used made up hand signals.


Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert weighed in on the replacement referees earlier this year in his "Sports Report" segment. His editing team gave Eli Manning a whale tail piece of lingerie after showing a report that one of the replacements had previously refereed for the Lingerie Football League.

"The Late Show" host David Letterman also discussed the replacements on his "Top Ten Signs You're A Bad Referee" feature. The video can be seen by skipping ahead to the 14:21 mark here. The No. 1 reason? "You're hated everywhere but Seattle."

In addition to the "Call It Maybe" parody video, Flo-Rida's song "Whistle" was spoofed to mock the refs. Watch below.

Report: Celtics to sign Darko Milicic

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 20, 2012 10:37 AM

The Celtics will sign center Darko Milicic to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum, a league source tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

darkoreport.jpgMilicic was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, chosen ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. He has famously failed to live up to those lofty expectations, averaging 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds over his career. The 7-footer averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds for Minnesota last season.

Milicic becomes the 14th player under contract on the Celtics roster. He adds to the team's frontcourt depth, which is perhaps their biggest weakness. After Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, rookie Jared Sullinger, veteran center Jason Collins, and Milicic should all compete for playing time. Wilcox looks like the surest thing of that group, though Milicic and Sullinger have the chance to play valuable minutes. Jeff Green could also slide into the power forward role in some rotations.

Milicic is just 27-years-old. His signing leaves one roster spot open for end-of-the-roster players with non-guaranteed contracts like Kris Joseph, Dionte Christmas, and Jamar Smith.

Tim Wakefield, pitching greats turn out for 'Knuckleball!' premiere in Boston

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff September 19, 2012 08:51 AM
Tim Wakefield was back pitching in Boston yesterday, but instead of being on the mound, the 17-year Red Sox veteran was behind the mike talking about the new movie "Knuckleball!".

The documentary style film (read the Globe review), which follows the ups-and-downs of Wakefield and Mets knuckleballer R. A. Dickey throughout the 2011 season, had its VIP premiere last night at the Regal Fenway theater in Boston. Along with Wakefield, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro, former Texas Ranger Charlie Hough, and Belmont native and White Sox great Wilbur Wood attended the event.

Wakefield was asked how a foursome including himself, Niekro, Hough, and Wood would have fared as a rotation while in their prime. The 200-game winner replied: “We’d win more than we lose.”

Venerable sportscaster Bob Lobel and Boston Latino TV film critic Tim Estiloz hosted a Q&A session with the audience after the screening.

"The guys that are standing behind me now with Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro, and Wilbur Wood have been mentors of mine when I first started throwing [the knuckleball]," Wakefield said. "You'll see in the film it's a very close-knit fraternity. There's only a handful of guys that ever did it in the big leagues and it's a way that we share our thoughts and ideas with each other."

Wakefield spoke about the challenges of being filmed during the season while trying to win games, and specifically while going for his 200th win, which took eight tries.

"It can be a little invading, especially being an athlete and being so ritual, and superstitious, and being in such a routine like you don't want that interrupted but [directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg] did a fantastic job understanding that side of the game and learning that as the film was being done to make it a little easier."

Wakefield also spoke about the struggles that all the knuckleballers went through not only to make it to the big leagues, but to stay in the game when they had lost the magic touch.

"It was a struggle from Day 1 when we all started learning the knuckleball," Wakefield said. "Dealing with adversity with the pitch, dealing with nobody wanting you feeling like you're on a desert or deserted island by yourself, and I think one of the life lessons that I learned a long time ago from Phil [Niekro] was learn to accept your losses without being defeated. I think we call all use that adage in our life, because we all go through hard times in life and you can learn to accept those hard times and keep moving forward, never look behind you."

"Knuckleball!" premieres locally starting Friday, Sept. 21 at the Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline.

Read the Globe's Ty Burr's review of the documentary here.

Gronkowski's porn-star pal resurfaces

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 19, 2012 08:06 AM

An old friend of Rob Gronkowski may have stirred up a bit more trouble for the Pro Bowl tight end.

Deadspin reports that a tweet from the account of ex-porn star Britney Maclin, formerly known as Bibi Jones, included a link to a new racy photo of her with Gronk. Another tweet from her account said Gronkowski dropped potential touchdown passes against the Cardinals Sunday because he was thinking of her.

However a subsequent tweet indicated she may have been the victim of a prank: "Omg! I’m partying & these Boston took my phone so they could post those pics. [expletive deleted] This is gonna be drama."

Last October, a photo of Gronkowski and Jones apparently taken when they met during the Patriots' bye week was a hot topic.

Greg Norman: Tiger intimidated by Rory

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 19, 2012 07:39 AM

Greg Norman, once the No. 1 golfer in the world, believes Tiger Woods fears current No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

In an interview with Fox Sports, Norman said, “What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory. But I think he knows his time’s up and that’s normal.’’ Norman also noticed that Woods is far more friendly with McIlroy than he has been with his other rivals, a sign Norman portrays as insecurity.

Valentine calls Red Sox September roster 'weakest ever'

Posted by Robert Burgess September 14, 2012 07:47 PM

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine continues to raise eyebrows.

Before tonight's game in Toronto he was asked whether Boston could expect any additional call-ups from the Pawtucket Red Sox, who are making their way through the playoffs.

The manager said there might be one or two players that make it up to the big league team.

According to Boston Globe reporter Michael Vega, when asked if there was any specific area where the team needed help, Valentine said:


"Are you kidding? This is the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball. We could use help everywhere. We've got four outfielders and it's September, yeah. We've got four infielders, it's September -- of course. If there are people who could be brought up, we should bring 'em up, but I don't know that there's a lot of guys left.''

The Red Sox lost their 80th game of the season Thursday night against the Yankees. The Red Sox haven't lost 80 games in a year since 1997, and they haven't had 80 losses as of Sept. 13 since 1966 when they lost 90 games and finished in ninth place out of 10 American League teams.

The Red Sox have 18 games to go in the 2012 season.

What do you think of Valentine calling this team's roster the "weakest ever"? What kind of message does that send to the players and fans? Or was he just speaking the truth? Let us know in the comments below.

Josh Beckett thrown out at first from right field

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 14, 2012 07:42 AM

Former Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett thought he had an easy single when he lined a ball to right field in the third inning of the Dodgers' game Thursday against the Cardinals in Los Angeles. The right fielder had other plans.

Carlos Beltran took a few steps to his right to make the play and threw a strike to first base to beat Beckett by a step at first base.

Dodgers famed announcer Vin Scully's reaction? "Haven't seen that in a long, long time."

The Dodgers lost the game, 2-1, and fell two games behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card berth in the National League.

Beckett pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run on seven hits, with two walks and six strikeouts, but got no decision in the loss. In his four starts as a Dodger, the former Red Sox righty has a 3.38 ERA.

Reports: Connecticut's Jim Calhoun to retire

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 12, 2012 06:10 PM

University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun will announce his retirement Thursday at a 2 p.m. press conference, a source tells CBS Sports college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman. The story was first reported by Kevin Nathan, a reporter for Connecticut's NBC affiliate. Former UConn player and current assistant Kevin Ollie will be named interim head coach with a chance to earn the job full time, a source tells Kevin Duffy of the Connecticut Post.

The 70-year-old Calhoun has won three national championships, most recently in 2011. Health problems have plagued the coach in recent years, and UConn faces a postseason ban this season for failing to maintain an NCAA academic requirement. Calhoun won more than 600 games at UConn. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Calhoun was the coach of Northeastern University before coaching at UConn. He was born and raised in Braintree. Former Celtic Reggie Lewis played for Calhoun at Northeastern. Donyell Marshall, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Rudy Gay, and Kemba Walker are among Calhoun's former players who have gone on to have NBA success.

Reports: Harvard men's basketball players to withdraw following cheating scandal

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 11, 2012 12:38 PM

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Harvard forward Kyle Casey, above, will withdraw and miss the season. (AP Photo)

An academic cheating scandal involving nearly half of the 279 students enrolled in a Harvard University government course is beginning to affect some of the university's athletic teams, according to reports.

Kyle Casey, the leading scorer for Harvard's men's basketball team, will withdraw from school and miss the entire season, sources told SI.com's Luke Winn. Fellow co-captain Brandyn Curry is also expected to withdraw, a source tells the Herald's Dan Duggan. Casey averaged a team-high 11.4 points per game last season to lead Harvard to a 26-5 record, its first-ever Ivy League title, and its first NCAA tournament berth since 1946. Curry led Harvard with 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game and was a member of the All-Ivy League second team. Withdrawing from school now may give the two players a chance to retain a final year of eligibility.

The football team could also be affected. The Harvard Crimson, citing anonymous players on the team, reports that disciplinary action could soon be taken against some players.

“Coaches are taking certain steps to prepare us for the worst,” one player told The Crimson.

The college announced on Aug. 30 that its investigative board was looking into the actions of approximately 125 undergraduates on an exam for the class "Government 1310: Introduction to Congress." In describing the alleged cheating, the board said the students "may have committed acts of academic dishonesty, ranging from inappropriate collaboration to outright plagiarism, on a take-home final exam."

Aly Raisman injured in fall on uneven bars during gymnastics tour

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff September 10, 2012 09:44 AM


According to a report on WCVB-TV (Ch. 5), Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman injured herself while performing in the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions in Ontario, Calif. over the weekend.

The Needham native reportedly fell to her stomach on the arena's concrete floor during a routine on the uneven bars, but was able to walk out of the arena unassisted.

Fellow Olympian medalist McKayla Maroney was also injured after landing a layout dismount off the uneven bars. The gymnast, famous for her not-impressed smirk, was carried off the mat and, along with Raisman, did not return for the show's finale.

A source told NewsCenter 5 that Raisman is fine and is in San Diego, where the 40-city tour, which comes to Boston on Nov. 11, is scheduled to continue.

The Kellogg's Tour also includes Olympians Gabrielle Douglas, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber.

Rob Gronkowski misfires on spike after touchdown

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 9, 2012 02:55 PM

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski continued where he left off last year, grabbing a touchdown pass in the first half of the first game of the season against the Titans. As usual, Gronkowski went for the celebratory spike. But this time it didn't work out. Take a look at the video here.

After the failed spike, the play was reviewed and the touchdown was confirmed. Gronkowski got his second foot down in the corner of the end zone by inches.

Bobby Valentine tells WEEI host he'd like to punch him

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 5, 2012 03:33 PM
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made his weekly appearance on WEEI's Big Show Wednesday afternoon and did little to help the perception that the magnitude of the job has gotten to him.

During the interview, host Glenn Ordway asked Valentine if he had "checked out", and Valentine took issue with the question.

"What an embarrassing thing to say," said Valentine. "If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha. How's that sound? Is that like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing.

"Why would somebody even -- that's stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone's here, watching me go out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room -- how could someone in real life say that?"

Valentine was asked about the season as a whole and whether or not he'd like to return for another as the team's manager.

"This is what I chose to do," said Valentine. "I think it's been miserable, but it's also been part of my life's journey. You learn from misery."

On wanting to manage the Sox next season, Valentine said, "Of course. If that's what I'm asked to do, that's what I'm going to get paid to do."

The Red Sox are 63-74 this season, a disappointing fourth place in the American League East. In addition to poor performance on the field, Valentine's relationship with his players has come under fire.

Valentine also took issue with a report that he arrived at the ballpark late for a game Saturday night. Valentine reportedly got to the Oakland Coliseum around 4 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. start.

"I shouldn't have to explain that," said Valentine. "That pisses me off. Whoever wrote that knew what happened. They knew that my son was coming to see me for the first time in this lousy season and that I got to see him on the road, and that his flight was late, and that I was waiting at the airport in San Francisco for his flight to come in, and that I sent the lineup in and reported to my coaches that I was going to be a little late."

Valentine added, "Four o'clock, like that's so late for a 7:15 game. Joe Maddon gets there everyday at 4 o'clock, just for the record."

You can listen to the full audio of the interview on WEEI.com.

MLB promotion filmed at Fenway Park

Posted by Leonard Neslin September 5, 2012 11:24 AM

With the playoffs less than a month a way, the baseball season is heating up. If you tune in to national networks or attend a game, you're likely to bump into this commercial by Stand Up to Cancer that features celebrities Steve Carrell, Colin Hanks, and Ken Jeong, and was filmed at Fenway Park.

MLB Network, along with several other major networks, have agreed to air a one-hour special for the fundraiser on Friday. Many other big-name celebrities are also involved.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have donated $30 million to date for Stand Up to Cancer's new "Baseball Believes" campaign.

The promotion includes snippets of re-enactments the three celebs shot at Fenway Park of famous baseball plays, including Kirk Gibson's hobbled home run, Derek Jeter's flip-relay, and Willie Mays's over-the-shoulder catch.

Paul Ryan Time Calculator appears online

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 4, 2012 04:36 PM

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Runners dissatisfied with their marathon time need look no further than the latest Internet gizmo to get better in a flash.

The Paul Ryan Time Calculator has made its debut, a response to the vice-presidential candidate's recent fib about his finish time in a marathon. Users enter a time, choose a distance, and set their gender, and the interactive reduces the time along the same proportions Ryan did in a recent interview when asked about his running history.

Ryan claimed he ran a marathon in less than three hours. However, Runner's World magazine fact-checked his boast and found he had only ever run one marathon, and it took him more than four hours.

Ryan fessed up over the weekend.

The Paul Ryan Time Calculator was created by Erik Westlund, a graduate student in Baltimore who is also a high school cross-country and track coach.

"I was in the middle of reading a stack of boring research articles when the idea popped in my head. I thought it would be funny, certainly more funny than the endless back and forth of angry people on the Internet saying, 'Yes, it matters! He's a liar!'," Westlund said.

Westlund said it took him a few hours to create.

"Today it's kind of blown up beyond my expectations," he said.

Jason Repko makes amazing over-the-wall catch

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff September 4, 2012 10:57 AM


Did you see that catch Repko made?

While highlights from a Red Sox season of lows are few and far between, there was an amazing play that may have been the catch of the year down on the farm in Pawtucket on Sunday night.

Jason Repko, the 31-year-old minor league journeyman who has spent time with the Dodgers, Twins, and Red Sox, robbed Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Kosuke Fukodome of a grand slam when he sprinted to the left field warning track to make a tremendous leaping catch that carried him over the outfield wall at McCoy Stadium.

"It definitely felt good, but we still lost. I want to be happy about it, but you can’t be because you lost and you still feel down about the game," Repko said on Monday, via ESPNBoston.com. "All in all, when I got home and saw it on TV, I was like, 'that was kind of cool.' I enjoyed it, and to see it [on SportsCenter] was cool."

On the downside, Repko suffered a gash on his arm during the play, and the PawSox went on to lose to the Yankees's Triple-A affiliate, 6-2.

John Henry writes letter to Liverpool fans

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 3, 2012 04:02 PM
John Henry, principal owner of both the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC of soccer's Premier League, has written an open letter to Liverpool fans to address their dismay over the team's performance in the recent transfer market.

It is strikingly similar to a letter Red Sox president Larry Lucchino sent to season ticket holders at Major League Baseball's All-Star break. Both explain the team's strategy, both convey sympathy with fans, and both ask for their faith. Both express a commitment to winning.

Henry, however, appears to promise a championship.

"We will deliver what every long-term supporter of Liverpool Football Club aches for," Henry wrote.

One of Lucchino's closing lines was, "We want to play October Baseball this year."

According to The Independent, Liverpool fans were upset with Liverpool's inability to sign a new striker by Friday's transfer deadline while one of its own left the team.

"Friday's closure of the transfer window brought howls of criticism from disgruntled fans - still waiting for a decision on a new stadium -- after Brendan Rodgers's failure to secure a striker to replace misfit Andy Carroll, who was loaned out to West Ham 24 hours earlier," The Independent's Carl Markham wrote.

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