MLB All Star Game 2017

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Robinson Cano follows up his 2017 World Baseball Classic MVP by earning the same award in the 2017 Mid-Season Classic.

This time it didn’t count. Not that it ever should have, but with the ridiculous tie in the 2002 All-Star Game it was undeniable that something needed to change. For the first time since that fateful July night this evening’s game went back to being exactly what it is: an exhibition. A moment about fun, the love of the sport, and the game’s best, brightest, and in some cases youngest stars taking the biggest stage to put on a spectacle for its fans.

In what was a beautiful pitcher’s duel, ultimately decided in extra innings by a Robinson Cano solo shot for a 2-1 American League victory, I couldn’t help but spend most of the night thinking of the one pitcher who was only there in spirit. From the day that it was announced that somehow Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins had the winning bid for this contest the stars were aligning that their own brightest star would take the hill to start this game in his home ballpark. Of course, I’m referring to Jose Fernandez, the right-hander with an electric fastball, a devastating curve ball known as “the Defector” (perhaps a nod to his escape from Cuba, in which he saved his mother from drowning), and a smile that could light up any ballpark. As everyone who follows the game knows, Jose and a couple of his best friends perished in a tragic late night/early morning cocaine/crack/alcohol fueled boating accident back in the early morning hours of September 25, 2016 and in the process ended the career of one of the game’s most promising stars at the ripe age of 24. Tonight was supposed to be Jose’s night but a series of disastrous and irresponsibly reckless decisions took that away from us all, and even 10 months later the sting is still felt around baseball not to mention Little Havana.

For the players who were in attendance, there was a beautiful celebration of Latin Baseball appropriate enough for a showcase game in South Florida. Once the game started there was also an coming out party for some of the game’s top rookies, as well as a Yadi bomb, Mookie assist, Nelson Cruz umpire selfie, and some hair flips from a future Yankee outfielder. A Red Sox pitcher started the game (Chris Sale) and another won it (Craig Kimbrel) with a former Boston fan favorite (Andrew Miller) getting the save.

The All-Star game is a celebration of baseball, its culture, and its players. It gets a deserved night to itself as no other major sports are in season and it provides an opportunity for its host city to promote what makes it unique and special to the game. Tonight, while memorable and a fun night of the best of the best competing against each other, things certainly felt a little hollow like something was missing. We know you were watching, Nino.

Wayne Rooney Returns To Everton

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Rooney signing new contract with Everton 7.9.2017

Professional sports can be a very fickle form of entertainment. It’s something we watch to relax, to take our mind off other stressors, to get swept up emotionally into something that ultimately we have no control over. The definition of a fanatic is a “person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause” and well sports are both religious and political. And that’s what makes the news out of Goodison Park this morning a bittersweet and monumental moment.

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United’s and the England National Team’s captain and all team leading goal scorer is going home. Back to his hometown of Liverpool and back to wearing the familiar blues of Everton that he started wearing at just age 9 for their youth academy. This one hurts me personally, because while I not only allege that Rooney is my bastard cousin (my immediate family denies it but the resemblance is uncanny as you can see at the end of this post), he is also the reason that my love for Manchester United and for the sport of soccer continued to grow after the departure of the previous United captain Roy Keane. Both of these gentlemen and their passion for the game is why I picked back up the sport in high school and for that I’m forever grateful.

13 years ago, in August 2004, while still at the age of 18 years Rooney signed on with Manchester United after a £25.6 million transfer was agreed to by Everton. This was a then record for any player under the age of 20 and was a move that manager Sir Alex Ferguson really stuck his neck out to make. All these years later he’s won every honor available in English, Continental, and European Football with the exception of the European Super Cup. 559 matches, 253 goals scored and 16 trophies later it’s safe to say that the move paid off.

The goals, assists and awards speak for themselves. Rooney is a tremendous talent and he was an instrumental figure in the golden age of Manchester United football. In the years that he played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo the team was virtually unstoppable. What really separated Rooney from other players in his position is that while such a prolific finisher, the man cared about winning and team accolades above all else. The best example of this is how willing he was to move back on the pitch, many times taking on a supporting forward role instead of his preferred striker and eventually even taking claim as a winger and attacking midfielder. Many other scorers in his position typically are too stubborn to allow others the spotlight, but for Rooney in his prime his playmaking ability and creative vision on the field really opened the field for his teammates and attributed to the club’s success.

Unfortunately, like everything else all good things eventually come to an end. While still a very serviceable player over the past few years its undeniable that both his fitness and agility have been slowly declining. This is to be expected of players such as Rooney, who will turn 32 this upcoming season, but in his case it may have been hastened by his penchant for partying and for the odd smoke. Pair that with a £300,000 a week contract for an aging superstar and while difficult emotionally, it’s not very hard to see professionally while Manchester United has decided to part ways and continue their youth movement in a different direction.

Rooney will be taking about a 50% pay cut to return to his boyhood club and to continue his career over the next two seasons with Everton. He also hopes to return to form and continue his International career for one last go in Russia 2018. For many on my favorite Manchester United forum www.redcafe.net this move is a couple years too late, but in my personal opinion this was an inevitable business decision that was made at the proper time for both the club and player. It is a sad reality of professional sport where fans can either root for the laundry or for their favorite characters, and with today’s decision any true Red fan will continue to support their club while wishing Wazza the best of luck in the future.

Thank you, Wayne, for the memories. Good, bad, hat trick, red card, scandalous or frivolous there was never a dull moment over the past 13 years. And really, that’s all we can ask for from sports entertainment.

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Just some hooligan (me) keeping Wayne’s locker at Wembley warm.

USA – Panama Gold Cup Opener

Tonight 47,622 fans set a new attendance record for a soccer match in the state of Tennessee. Unfortunately, the good news ends almost there. In what was not the most entertaining match, The United States and Panama played to a 1-1 draw in their respective group stage openers, and while it’s a result that will do for both squads it does leave a lot to be desired, especially for the stars and stripes.

 

My Three Quick Notes:

  1. Dom Dwyer. The Sporting Kansas City forward has now made two caps (appearances) for the Senior U.S. Men’s National Team and he already has two goals to his ledger. Dwyer was the best player in last week’s Friendly against “new rival” Ghana, and while not playing a large role in tonight’s first half he did score the breakthrough goal for Bruce Arena’s team on this night 50 minutes in. Mark my words now: Dwyer will be on the 2018 World Cup roster and I believe he should play an instrumental role should the US advance in Russia.
  2. Kelyn Rowe. Much like Dwyer, Rowe made his second consecutive start and only his second overall appearance for the big club. And while not as pivotal a player as Dwyer had been in those two matches, Rowe did make an impact in tonight’s game. Rowe was the man-of-the-match in the first half tonight with a couple excellent chances, and he assisted on the lone goal scored in the second half. Unfortunately, Rowe did need to come off with cramps and could not finish the match, but he definitely provided a spark that the United States desperately needed. Rowe is also a fringe player who before last week has never gotten his chance with the Senior team, and while I’m not ready to assign a roster spot for Russia to him just yet displays like tonight do go a long way to earning those minutes.
  3. Cohesion. Cohesion. Cohesion. Look, I get it, the Gold Cup does kind of act as a tune-up for the larger world tournaments on the horizon. It still remains an international tournament to determine a champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean (no pirates). Coach Arena is also taking this opportunity to take a look at some players who may not have had this type of exposure in big competitions (see above), but at the same time it is also the last major competition and chance to iron out the kinks before taking it to the global stage. As Stuart Holden said as the final whistle blew, this team is still taking time to become a TEAM and to learn to play to each other’s strengths. Friendlies do provide somewhat of this opportunity to learn and feel each other out, but as this Gold Cup tournament continues I’d hope that these boys figure out how to play better together and understand where each other is on the pitch at all times. This is something that occurs naturally as you practice and play more with the same group of players, but that clock is ticking as we are now just 11 months away from first kick in Putin’s world.

NBA DRAFT 2017: The Live Blog

 

FOUR YEARS LATER….I’M BACKKKKKKK!!!!

In the first draft where the Boston Celtics had garnered the #1 overall pick I would be remiss not to bring back to the good ole fashioned live-blog. Here will be my thoughts as the night progresses in what is assured to be a franchise defining night for at least one team. How will your team do? Stick with me and find out with coverage beginning at 7pm from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

 

7:02 PM — Tonight’s coverage is brought to us by State Farm. Seems to be very appropriate as “The Process” has the Philadelphia 76ers on the clock with the first pick after a trade with Danny Ainge and Boston that has the Celtics continuing to stockpile picks while the 76ers look to continue their legacy of drafting players who will disappoint and leave Center City as a hockey town.

 

7:09 — Our first (Jason) Kidd vs. (Lonzo) Ball comparison. This a very accurate description, aside from the fact that Ball is 2 inches taller and a better shooter at this stage of his development than Kidd was coming out of Berkeley. The current Bucks coach worked his way to the top 10 all-time in three point field goals made, so if Lonzo can develop that aspect of his game he’ll be scary good. I already believe him to be the best player in this draft, but wouldn’t go near him with a 50 foot pole thanks for his pops Lavar and the “Big Baller Brand”.

7:19 — Porzingis. Pipe Dream. And Phil Jackson is the one holding the bowl. Nice try, Zen Master. Danny may love to gamble but not tonight old friend, not with that offer.

 

7:25 — Commissioner Silver explaining the process of announcing the picks to the crowd. Extremely complicated, of course. Can’t be having any “Moonlight” moments tonight, right Adam? He’s the best commissioner in all of professional sports for a reason.

 

7:28 — Jalen Rose speaking the truth about my man Jonathan Isaac from The Florida State University. Would be very surprised if the Celtics do select him, but no other player has received as much recent hype as the man who will have the best hair in pro basketball once his name is called this evening.

 

7:35 — It wouldn’t be a draft without booing of the man in charge before it begins. Draymond Green gets the loudest boos (deservedly, “kicknuts”) and little man Isaiah Thomas gets a mix of boos and cheers when recognized as the last pick of the 2011 draft, reiterating Adam Silver’s point that all picks tonight matter (except for the ones that get stashed in Europe never to be seen again).

 

7:40 — With the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft the Philadelphia Sixers select Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. No surprise here. Personally, I am not sold on Fultz and the fact that he led his Washington Huskies to a 9-22 record in the 2016-2017 season. Danny Ainge thought the exact same and had no misgivings or reservations about trading down from #1 overall to #3 to still get his man in this draft. The James Harden comparison seems a bit far fetched at this point as Harden was in the running for league MVP despite not playing a lick of defense, but Fultz may have the most upside in this draft and Philadelphia is willing to continue to suck for years while their young core develops. Cool jacket though, bro.

 

7:47 — Pick two is also an extremely predictable pick. Lonzo Ball ends up staying home and playing for the one team that his crazy father said he would, the Los Angeles Lakers. Between picks take a second and watch the video below, and you’ll see exactly what is going on with that family dynamic. In my opinion this is an exceptional pick, and with the gifted vision and passing ability that Lonzo already has spending some time around Magic Johnson could be instrumental in his development. Hopefully he realizes that his future and his career is in his hands and gets the heck away from his overbearing father, because as I mentioned earlier I do believe his is the most talented player who was available this evening.

7:52 — TRADE. And it’s Jimmy Butler. And not to the team I expected. I just had flashbacks to the 2007 NBA Draft and the trade that brought Jesus Shuttlesworth (sorry, traitor Ray Allen) to Boston. Excuse me while I go throw up as Butler is headed to Minnesota in exchange for young superstars Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and an exchange of draft picks.

7:54 — Boston Celtics time. With the third pick in the 2017 NBA DRAFT, Danny Ainge selects Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke University. Another young player who left Duke after just one season and at 19 years old. He’s been a top player his entire life and will probably be another project type player, whether he sticks around in Boston or is part of a package tonight or later on this offseason. I’m a bit surprised that Danny didn’t select Josh Jackson from Kansas with this pick, but congrats to Tatum who looks real good in that green leprechaun cap.

 

8:01 — The Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. Jackson is an energy player and an extremely valuable wing defender and he’ll be an outstanding fit with Devin Booker and the Suns. He needs to improve his shooting ability, but he is an electric talent and a grinder. Jalen Rose’s comparison to Warriors’ Andre Igoudala is a very good comparison, and any team would be ecstatic to have that type of player. Off court issues and an altercation with a Kansas women’s basketball player may be the only knock on the kid, but in the end he was selected where he probably would have been anyway.

8:09 — With the 5th pick, the Sacramento Kings select De’Aaron Fox, PG, University of Kentucky. Fox can score, period. He also led the SEC in assists in 2016-2017 and is another prodigy in the long line of John Calipari point guard recruits. Fox might be the most explosive offensive player in this draft and comes from the Russell Westbrook mold, so that should excite Kings fans should he still be with them by the end of the evening. Maybe most importantly, he is the fifth straight FRESHMAN to be selected tonight, as the NBA continues to lower its average age.

 

8:16 — Jonathan Isaac is staying in Florida. He will make the 3:30 hour trek to Orlando from Tallahassee, as Leonard Hamilton and the NOLES have another first round draft pick as the Orlando Magic make their pick at #6. 6’10”, 210 pounds, and still growing, Isaac continues to mature and develop in his game. He will need to continue to put on weight and toughness as he ages. Congrats to the Magic and to the Seminoles as this is an outstanding upside pick and a SIXTH straight frosh to be taken. Also, as an aside, the Magic do have the best jersey sponsorship deal as they stay in-house and will wear a Disney patch on their kits in 2017 and beyond. GO NOLES!

 

8:23 — With the 7th pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves picking for the Chicago Bulls have me saying “who?” for the first time this evening. Lauri Markkanen from the Arizona Wildcats is the pick, and what a surprise its another kid one year out of high school. The Finnish player garners a Channing Frye comparison (another Wildcat) but I’ll be honest with you and admit I didn’t watch too much Pac-12 hoops this past season.

 

8:29 — The Knicks go international, AGAIN. Frank Ntilkina is the pick, a point guard from France. On a day where the Knicks pissed off their last international pick this is a very curious selection, but Phil Jackson is busy sleeping and James Dolan is away at a music gig, so what do you expect from the atrocious Knickerbockers?

 

8:33 — Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State is the pick at #9 for the Dallas Mavericks. A point guard from the Tobacco Road, Smith has a 48 inch vertical and leads with his explosive and toughness. Jalen with the “Stevie Franchise” comparison is a beautiful sight to see, and the Mavs hope that Smith Jr. can provide more production than their last few point guard busts.

8:40 — Second trade of the night. With the 10th pick the Sacramento Kings select Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga though he will be headed to Portland in exchange for their next two picks. Collins had 69 (nice) blocks last season and is very athletic for a man of his size (7’0″, 230) The theme of the night, he is the first one-and-done in Gonzaga history and is a lottery pick despite not starting a game for Mark Few and the Zags.

8:47 — Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets pick up Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky, with the 11th pick of the night. Monk, along with soon to be picked Luke Kennard, is one of the top shooters in this draft class and he can truly light up the scoreboard. Monk is possibly the most athletic player in this draft but will need to improve his defensive game if he wants to earn the type of minutes allotted to most lottery picks. Monk will join Kemba Walker in a very fun backcourt of the future.

8:52 — DETROIT BASKETBALL….Andre Drummond is the face of the franchise, but after tonight, the aforementioned Luke Kennard will try to change that after being selected at number 12. A prolific scorer from Duke University and a 2-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio, Kennard is the type of player that you have to follow all over the court or he will burn you. As a lefty shooter, Kennard can fool you the first time you play against him as well.

8:59 — The Denver Nuggets select Donovan Mitchell, SG, Lousville with the 13th pick of the night. Mitchell will be headed to the Utah Jazz as part of a proposed trade. Mitchell is a top-notch defender and will bring some versatility to the Jazz who may be (hopefully) losing Gordon Hayward in free agency this off-season.

9:05 — With the final pick of the lottery portion of this draft, the Miami Heat take Bam Adebayo, PF/C, University of Kentucky. The third Wildcat from Lexington taken so far, “Bam” is the leader in the clubhouse for best name of the night. One of the top big men available, the 7’3″ wingspan on this young man will be a powerful tool at the next level for a man who had more dunks than Anthony Davis while rocking the blue and white. This is a great selection for the Heat to replace Chris Bosh, who due to his dinosaur heart will most likely never play another minute in the Association. Bam mentions “this is like our graduation” for Kentucky players and no truer words have ever been spoken.

9:12 — Portland, selecting for the Sacramento Kings as part of the earlier trade, make an outstanding pick in drafting Justin Jackson, SG, North Carolina at #15 overall. Jackson draws comparisons to Hall-Of-Famer George “Ice Man” Gervin and is a player who uses all of his 6’8″ frame and beautiful floater to light up the scoreboard. Jackson does need to learn to be more consistent and bring his energy every single night, but he is a fantastic pick for the Kings. He also just put a ring on his smoke-show girlfriend, so even if he does not succeed at the next level he’s lived up to his potential in life.

 

9:18 — The Bulls, on the clock for Minnesota, choose Justin Patton, C, from Creighton with the 16th pick. Patton was the Big East freshman of the year last season and is an unbelievable pick and roll talent as he continues to develop. This pick was part of the Jimmy Butler deal and has to be considered a win for the Wolves even as the give up the most explosive dunking guard in Lavine in the deal.

9:26 — The Milwaukee Bucks select DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan at 17. The Bucks are a team on the cusp of joining the elite ranks and Wilson is a player who they expect to help them reach new heights. Wilson is known for his short shorts and 7’3″ wingspan while standing at just 6’10”. Wilson is a finesse type player who will be an excellent fit with the system that J.Kidd and Bucks run and should be a very good compliment to the “Greek Freak” for the future.

 

9:32 — At 18, the Indiana Pacers select “just another White Guy” (according to Lavar Ball) T.J. Leaf from the UCLA Bruins. Leaf played just one year in Westwood but is a stretch four that is becoming ever so valuable in the current NBA landscape. Leaf has also grown a lot as a player, especially with his toughness, and will be a valuable player as the Pacers transition from their current core with the impending exit of superstar Paul George.

9:38 — With the 19th pick, the Atlanta Hawks select a power forward from Wake Forest University. No, it’s not Tim Duncan, it is John Collins. Collins was the 2016-2017 ACC Most Improver Player of the Year and is another pick and pop player which is an increasing frequency in the Association. Collins will still need to extend his shooting range and improve his defense, and again just be more tenacious in general as he makes the progression to the next level. Collins will replace fan favorite Dwight Howard who was traded earlier this week, so he will have big shoes to fill as he begins his NBA career.

9:43 — Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there’s another freshman off the board (the 14th of the night). At #20 the Kings will get Harry Giles, forward from Duke, via trade. Giles was one of the top high school prospects heading into last season, but due to injuries did not quite live up to his potential while playing for Coach K. Money talks and Giles decided to enter himself into tonight’s draft and while still a first round pick he probably expected to go higher in this meat market.

9:49 — Oklahoma City goes with a unique pick, Terrance Ferguson, an American who spent last season playing with kangaroos and exploring the world down under in Australia. He is a prolific shooter who decided to forego the typical NCAA feeder system and gain experience playing against grown men in a professional league right out of high school. He is a project type player, but should the shoe fit could be an excellent backcourt mate for Russell Westbrook or play the 3 and spread the floor for the Thunder for years to come.

9:55 — The hosts of tonight’s draft finally get to make their selection. In a draft where the Nets should have been in the drivers seat and selecting first overall, Brooklyn decided to enjoy a few of the last years of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and instead finished with a league worst 20 wins last season. Thanks again, Brooklyn. With the 22nd selection the Nets scoop up Jarrett Allen, C, University of Texas. Allen is yet another one-and-done player and is best known for his posterizing dunks. Allen has HUGE shoes to fill, as he will be replacing Brook Lopez who earlier this week was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a move that will be finalized in the very near future.

10:04 — OG Anunoby is the pick for Toronto at #23. While his name sounds more like a weed strain than an NBA player, Anunoby out of Indiana University, is a high flyer who knows how to use his length and athleticism to his advantage. As Jay Bilas points out, Anunoby has the potential to be a lock-down defender at the next level and should be an excellent fit in Toronto as he continues his development and his understanding of the game. He also promises to continue to rock the “short shorts”, bringing back some of the culture of 1980’s pro basketball.

10:10 — With the 24th pick, the Denver Nuggets by way of the Utah Jazz, select Tyler Lydon from the University of Syracuse. Lydon is yet another stretch four who will need to fill out his frame if he wants to have an extended career in the Association. Lydon is a great shooter but I would have preferred to see him spend more time progressing his inside game, but unfortunately with the way the sport is evolving we see more and more finesse players and less bruisers as the years go on.

10:19 – At 25, the Orlando Magic nab Andzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia. Sorry guys, I have nothing for you on this one, which is probably one of the reasons the Magic were looking to unload this pick. UPDATE — He is on the move to Philadelphia in exchange for a future pick.

10:25 — One of my favorite picks of the night. At #26 the Blazers select Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue. He’s the prototype power forward of old and is the throwback bruiser who knows how to get things done in the paint. The kid spent time in multiple homeless shelters as a kid which helped lead to his fearless attitude, and he’s not afraid to use his big frame to his advantage. Swanigan might be best rebounder in this class, and at 26 I would consider him a steal and an exceptional project for the future in Portland.

10:30 — Brooklyn is back on the clock, selecting for the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Brook Lopez for Timofey Mozgov/D’Angelo Russell salary dump. The pick is Kyle Kuzma, SF, Utah. Again, I didn’t get much of a chance to watch this kid last year but he was first team Pac-12 with 15 double-doubles and could grow into a role player for the Lakers. If not, no harm no foul as L.A. acquiring Lopez even as a rental makes this a fantastic trade for Los Angeles and opens up cap space for their expected 2018 offseason moves.

10:35 — Originally the Lakers pick, the 28th pick will be going to Utah. Tony Bradley, C, University of North Carolina is the pick. He’s another one-and-done who averaged 7 points and 5 boards a game in limited minutes for the Tarheels this past season. He is best known as a rebounder and was an effective player for the National Champions, but he will need to improve his footwork and post moves if he wants to become a legitimate player at the next level.

10:45 — The Spurs pull a shocker and draft a player who had just 1 D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school Derrick White from the Colorado Buffaloes, PG, is their selection, and is another player who will take a few years to develop to his true potential. Thankfully for White, the Spurs are a perfect fit for his game, as right they don’t really need another player but instead have picked up a project that may pay dividends in the future. As Jalen Rose mentions, the Spurs have the opportunity to “develop” White and will not need to thrust him into pressure situations for a few years.

 

10:49 — With the final pick of the first round, the Utah Jazz grab Josh Hart, SG, Villanova. Hart was the Big East player of the year last year, and like Derrick White selected just before him are the only two seniors selected in tonight’s first round. Hart is an Eagle Scout and a blue collar worker known just as well for his defensive prowess as his finishing ability.

 

 

With that selection, and this 3-plus hour first round it is time for me to step away for the evening. I will be back tomorrow with my recap of the second round and draft grades for the winners and losers of tonight’s draft. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my initial observations of tonight’s event, and I have to say it does feel good to get 3,300+ words back up here for the return of WeynethWorld. Thank you, all, and may your team make better selections in the second round than they did so far through tonight’s festivities.

 

2013 World Series Champions: Semi-Coherent Thoughts A Week Later

Koji celebrates the final out!

Koji celebrates the final out!


It has been a week since the Red Sox won the World Series, and every time I see the line score from the clinching game six on my phone’s MLB At Bat app, I wonder when Bud Selig is going to schedule games 7,8, and 9 to give the Cardinals a chance to come back in the series. To be fair, I would not mind seeing this group of guys play some more baseball this year, but really the fact that this magical season is over still hasn’t really hit me yet.
To anyone outside the organization it seemed very unlikely that the Red Sox would be riding the duckboats come November. Coming off the disasters of the past couple seasons I really thought it would take some time to love this team as much as I did before September 2011, but that all changed before summer really even started. Luckily, the key offseason acquisitions and the entire clubhouse culture change that they brought with them reminded us that baseball at its heart is a kids game played by men with overgrown beards, and the way that this team played with passion showed that yeah, these were big kids on that 90-foot diamond.
To give credit where credit is due, on the field it all started at the top with “Manager John” (Farrell). Farrell was pitching coach for the Red Sox from 2007-2010 and spent the Sox black hole seasons across the border gaining managerial experience with the Toronto Blue Jays. This experience, combined with the fantastic job done by the Red Sox front office in bringing in quality ballplayers and just as importantly quality people in David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, and Mike Carp really brought this team together to create the special season we all just witnessed. Every single player on this team was brought in to fill a specific role (including late season speedster pickup Quintin Berry), and all did their job without complaining.
Over a decade after clinching a World Series for the Angels, John Lackey closed out the Cardinals to win Boston a championship.

Over a decade after clinching a World Series for the Angels, John Lackey closed out the Cardinals to win Boston a championship.

Then there was John Lackey. When it was announced in October 2011 that Lackey would need Tommy John surgery all of Red Sox Nation rejoiced in the fact that he would miss an entire season. How wrong we all were, as in 2013 Lackey may have been the best 10-13 pitcher with a 3.52 ERA in baseball history. His 3-1 postseason record was just as surprising to most, but he believed in himself and even refused to be taken out of Game 6 in the 7th inning. It was that kind of year for Mr. Lackey. It was like that most of the guys on the 40 man roster this year.
The changes in culture and Boston baseball being fun again all took a back seat when another local sporting event, the Boston Marathon, was tragically bombed by the Tsarnaev brothers on April 15th, 2013. As is the case every year on Patriot’s Day (the 3rd Monday of April) the Red Sox started their day with an 11am first pitch against the Tampa Rays. That was a dramatic game punctuated by a Mike Napoli walk-off double, but just hours later a much more emotional and important event happened as two consecutive explosions went off near the finish line of the Marathon. The team was on their way to Logan Airport to catch a charter to Cleveland to play the Indians, but there is no doubt in my mind that this group of guys realized how important they were to the healing process of the city in the aftermath of this tragedy. No city loves their team as much as Bostonians love their Red Sox, and the “Boston Strong” ideals that this team and the One Fund Boston adopted really define this whole incredible championship drive. The Red Sox won for their “fucking” city and for something bigger than themselves, and that’s something truly rare to find these days in professional sports. No disrespect to the victims of this tragedy, but without the bombing I don’t think that the third trophy in 9 years would be sitting on Yawkey Way tonight.
Back on the diamond, it is really hard to explain what happened this season, besides everybody playing well beyond expectations. This was a season where almost every night the production came from an unlikely source, and when it really mattered you knew you could count on David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, or Shane Victorino. Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes were two of the biggest question marks going into the season and they both had more than their fair share of clutch hits, and even relatively unheard of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp won games singlehandedly for this team. Again, it was that kind of year.
In my 27 year relationship with sports, the 2004 Red Sox championship is my personal holy grail of sports watching that will not be topped until I have children of my own competing on the diamond or the soccer pitch. The 2007 World Series title was nice and added to the New England fan’s spoils, but this 2013 championship is one that I will never forget.
Thanks to Shane Victorino with a little help from his pal Bob Marley, the 2013 Red Sox reminded us that “Every Little Thing Gonna Be All Right”. For that, I am thankful.
Boston Strong.
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Stand Up To Cancer Takes Over Game Four

The Red Sox took Game Four 4-2 tonight to level the 2013 World Series at 2 games apiece. As awesome as the game was, I do want to take a second to appreciate the work of the “Stand Up to Cancer” organization. Their moment of silence with every fan, player, coach and everyone else in the Busch Stadium ballpark taking a moment to appreciate someone who they know who battled cancer was truly awe inspiring. I have no problem admitting that while the actual baseball game I was intending to watch already had me as an emotional wreck, the moment right before the start of the sixth inning took me over the edge as I remembered my father and everything that he did for me in his too short life. It was nine years ago tonight that I woke his ass up to ask him what he thought of manager Terry Francona when I came home from celebrating the Red Sox 2004 Championship, and of all the moments since his passing in 2009 I know tonight was one that would have hit him hardest since we also lost his sister JoAnne to that awful disease.

I hit two home runs in my first game back playing when we lost my aunt JoAnne back in 2002, and I know my old man has played a part in this incredible Red Sox run this season, but please take a moment to think about the people who’ve meant the most in your life because cancer fucking sucks.

Game Five is tomorrow night and I’ll try to recap the actual baseball before the game tomorrow, but let us all remember what is really important.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

World Series Games 2 and 3 Recap

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

The last two World Series games can be defined by a couple of defensive miscues from an unlikely source (Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Don’t worry Red Sox fans, I refuse to post the jarring videos of the errant throws ending up in left field, but let’s just say that I am extremely glad that David Ross is back in the lineup this evening. This is not the time of year that Tom Emanski’s name should be getting these type of mentions, but in this series where one play can truly be pointed to as the reason the outcomes have gone the way they have it is about time that the Sox play another clean game.

Game Four — Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97). 8 PM, Fox. Be there.