June 2008

Live From The Trop

“That’s it. The soap opera is over.”

That is what Manny Ramirez said earlier this afternoon, and he wasn’t talking about all the drama that developed between the Sox and Rays in Boston earlier this month. He was speaking of his own incident with venerable traveling secretary Jack McCormick in which Manny allegedly threw McCormick to the ground after an argument involving tickets.

I think that incident is pretty much over, but it’s too bad it had to happen in the first place. It’s unfortunate that McCormick had to be the recipient of what was — most likely — classless behavior by Ramirez. McCormick is one of the true good guys around the Red Sox, as anyone who is even remotely familiar with the inner workings of the team, is well aware of.

What isn’t over is the American League East. Far from it. These next three games should tell a lot about the Rays, and whether they have staying power to last in this race all summer. I think they have the talent to do so.

Masterson looked a little sluggish tonight. On the other hand, Clay Buchholz again sparked for Pawtucket this evening. As someone has already said to me shortly upon my arrival in Tampa, “Draw your own conclusions.” … Oh, by the way, Timlin had an easy 1-2-3 inning for the PawSox tonight. He can be activated as early as Thursday in New York.

DH David Ortiz today confirmed the inevitable. He won’t play in the All-Star Game.

Bags packed, AL East showdown awaits

You know it’s getaway day when the entire wall behind the visiting writers is filled with suitcases.

Yes, we’ll all be leaving Houston tonight — except for Worcester Telegram scribe Bill Ballou, who has a 12-mile run planned. The rest of us will touch down in Tampa near the midnight hour.

All that will be at stake is first place in the American League East. I’m not kidding when I say this is the biggest series in the short and unstoried history of Tropicana Field. The Rays won today meaning they will move into first if the Sox lose their finale in Houston.

Maybe Tampa will be even hotter than Houston. But again, we will be under a roof.

Still, nothing figures to be as hot as Dustin Pedroia’s bat. His latest hit — a solo shot over the wall in left — has put his average at .307.

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Yes, I’m in Houston. I’m out here in the country working on my southern accent. Guess what I had for lunch today? Texas-style BBQ? Mexican, perhaps? Wrong, and wrong.

Sushi. Yes, I’ll eat sushi anywhere, just ask Rob Bradford — my partner in sushi crime. We found a good spot today. OK, it wasn’t quite Japan sushi, or even California, Seattle, Fort Myers, New York or Boston, but still, it was pretty good.

This is a great stadium, one of the finer new facilities in baseball. I love that hill in center field right in front of the 436-foot mark. Forget about climbing the Rocky steps in Philly. I want to climb that hill and run down and see if I can do it without falling.

Dice-K  was on
the hill, and I know everyone was curious to see what he will bring
after the disaster of six days ago. Some of that curiosity ended in the
first inning when Matsuzaka struck out the side. Overall, the Dice-Man had it gong, giving up two hits and no runs over five innings.

J.D. Drew continues to do his best Yaz ’67 en fuego impersonation. He just launched another drive, high and deep to right. Three-run blast. Drew now has 11 homers in June, which, as you may recall, marks the amount of homers he hit in his entire first season in Boston.

Highlight of the game so far was the bottom of the seventh inning, when they cranked out the song “DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS”. One unnamed Boston writer clapped and sang along, while another said, “This is enough to make you vomit.” Good time had by all.

As, I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Coco Crisp suspension came down — reduced to five games. And what a shock that it neatly coincides that he will miss all three Red Sox-Rays games at the Trop.

In other news, Mike Timlin had his first rehab outing without a hitch on Thursday in Pawtucket and will toe the slab again on Thursday. Timlin is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 4 at Yankee Stadium.

Big Papi David Ortiz is here with the Red Sox, but still taking just light swings off the tee. No word yet on when he will advance to more aggressive cuts. Big Bart, as I like to call Bartolo Colon, is also with the team, but he hasn’t been cleared to start throwing yet.

Back from the woods

I’m back at Fenway after spending three awesome days in New Hampshire for a family vacation. There’s definitely something to be said for leaving the laptop at home and taking three days away from the internet.

I got in some whiffle ball, some swimming, some hot tubbing and just some general great relaxation. Also, high-low jack is a pretty good card game over a couple of chilly beverages, adult or otherwise. Anyone ever play that game?

I come back today feeling refreshed and ready for the long road trip.

And the Red Sox even stopped their habit of nightly rain delays to mark my return to the active lineup.

Pretty quiet night here at the park. David Ortiz took his “dry” swings but thinks he’s three weeks away from any type of real action.

According to ESPN, tonight’s matchup between Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnson is the oldest in Fenway history, though last September’s battle between Clemens and Schilling was close.

Schilling's season (and maybe career) over

Curt Schilling just announced he will have surgery on Monday, effectively ending his season, and perhaps his brilliant career.

The right-hander made the announcement in his typically unfiltered way — on WEEI-850 AM.

Here is a complete transcript

“We’ve had a rough couple of weeks so a lot of stuff has
happened over the last couple of days. I met with Dr. [Craig] Morgan in Philadelphia, who then
conferred with Dr. Gill. The setback got to a point where we had to make some
decisions. I’m going to have shoulder surgery on Monday of next week and then
we’re just going to kind of go from there.”

Surgery dr. morgan recommended at beginning of rehab?
“it’s  lot of things. I’m not exactly
sure. We’re still nailing down exactly what kind of surgery it’s going to be. ”

End your season? “Yeah. Yeah, it does.”

Characterize the setbacks? “Painful. I never could get
past a certain stage. The analogy I tried to use to explain to people where I
was at was, if you use a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 is pitching in a big league
game, I’m at about a 3 right now. if you used a pain scale of 1 to 10, I’m
probably at a 1 to 2 from a discomfort standpoint. When I try to make the move
in effort from 3 to 4, my pain goes from 1 or 2 to 7 or 8.”

Morgan right? “I don’t know, and, I don’t care. There’s a
chance – a lot of things could happen here. My season is over. There’s a pretty
decent chance that I’ve thrown my last pitch forever so I don’t care. It
doesn’t matter. I’m going into make it not hurt anymore, which is pretty much
all I care about.”

“the rehab, I got strong. Everybody involved is very
pleased and in some cases, Dr. Morgan’s case, is ecstatic with the amoung of
strength that I have in my shoulder. I remember making the comment a copule of
months ago, talking about it with people, my fear was that I’d get strong and
be able to do all this awesome strength stuff, but at the end of the day,
wouldn’t be able to pitch. that’s kind of what happened. Functionally, my
shoulder is incredibly strong. From a rehabilitation standpoint, if there isn’t
career-ending damage, you know, I’m in an incredibly good position to have
surgery. I can’t throw a pitch. when you’re a pitcher, that’s a problem.”

Surgery on the biceps? “yes, and then some other stuff. there’s a lot
of other stuff going on.”

Labrum and rotator cuff? “Yes and maybe. Until he goes in
there and gets done, anything is speculation other than the tendonesis. In my
mind, it got to a point where there are two possibilities. One of them is
surgery. And off of surgery, there are two potentials. I could wake up after
the surgery and be told, you know what, it’s been a good run but you’ve got no
shot at getting back out there, which is something that, to make this decision,
I had to be OK with. It’s a potentially likely scenario. The other one is, Ok,
we fixed it, but whatever happens between now and when you decide to pitch
again will be five times as much as you’ve ever had to do from  rehabilitation standpoint. Those are the two
surgery results. The third one, or the second option to me was, my career is
over today. If I don’t have surgery, my career is over today. So, you know,
I’ve had to kind of sit back and weigh those options and figure out what we
wanted to do.”

Pain all the time? “It started to get painful again, non-throwing
pain, which is a huge part of the equation. I went through four months of
strengthening with no pain whatsoever and I was excited about the fact that I
was not generating inflammation and pain given the intensity and the rigor with
which we were doing with the work. But at some point here, we got to a point
that I imagined we might get. I just hoped we’d get there at the end of the
process. Where throwing went from being 
kind of an uncomfortable thing to a downright painful thing. when the
pain increases, the amount of time it lingers afterwards changes. it’s starting
to move in that area.”

“it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do a case study.
I’m 41, I’ve got over 3,000 innings under my belt and there was a period of
time where those innings were stacked on top of each other for a lot of years.
I know, when you read an MRI and
it shows things, generally it shows the bare minimum. When you get opened up,
you add a lot to the mix. I’ve got some issues beyond the biceps, that I’m sure
will be fixed, and I’m pretty comfortable will be fixed, but I’m very ready for
other stuff to be wrong.”

Why pitch again? “I don’t know. Again, that’s part of the
decision making process at the end of the day. Under no circumstance would I do
anything to pitch next season as a whole. In a perfect world, if there was
minimal to negligible damage once it was opened up and I got fixed, coming back
next year would be something I would look at as an option depending on the time
and effort involved. But it wouldn’t be a full season. I would come back and
set it up, maybe to pitch the second half of the season. and again, that is
going to be a potential only if getting literally completely healthy is an
option.”

Why bother? “I’ve still got some fire. It’s one of those things where, take it for the way it’s intended, I don’t want it to end this way but
if this is the way it has to end, I’m ok with that. if it’s over and my last
pitch was in the 2007 World Series, honestly, I’m OK with that. I just cant’
stress enough where I am mentally with this. I have not a regret in the world.
None of this makes me bitter or angry or pissed. It is what it is. in that
sense, honestly, it’s very, very easy for me because of what I’ve been able to
experience compared to what I wanted when I first started my career. If I have
some say in how this is going to end, I want it to be different than it is
right now.”

“I’m smart enough to understand if I did everything I
wanted to do, and did everything I could do and needed to do and I was healthy
and was better than that 2007 end of the season guy and it wasn’t painful, I’ve
got a decent track record after September. Putting myself out there next
All-Star break as healthy, and auditioning for whoever is in contention and
pitching the final three months of the season kind of in a David Cone hired gun
kind of thing, I wouldn’t care where it was or what it was.  From a personal standpoint, my family is OK
with that.”

Wasn’t 2007 the perfect ending? “Yeah, well, it didn’t
unfortunately. Unfortunately my career ended with me taking a paycheck for six
months and not pitching. I feel good about the fact that I went back to them
and restructured the deal. Not getting paid to weigh in. Part of me feels bad
about the fact that all this happened to begin with. At some point and time
during this process, there was a lot of things in question about me from an
integrity-principal standpoint and I hope those things aren’t in question with
the people involved anymore. But I never intended for this to be the way it is.
I never misled anybody. We are where we are because I got hurt and I can’t
change that.”

Hang around the team still? “I would really like to pull
a Mark McGwire in a sense for my family’s sake and it’s probably the right
thing to do. From an outside of the Red Sox standpoint. I don’t know what the
club wants me to do. I don’t know what they’d like me to do, if anything. If we
have that discussion, I’m sure I’ll talk about it.”

Dr. Morgan will perform surgery? “Yeah. [in Delaware].”

“Dr. Gill was trying to accommodate a request to sit in
on the surgery and I apologize for not remembering his name, but the gentleman
who actually invented the procedure, the transfer of the bicep muscle, he’s at
UConn, is actually going to come down and sit in on it as well.”

Air out of balloon? “Don’t. It can’t. It shouldn’t. I’ve
been blessed a billion times over and I’ve been given far more than I ever
could have imagined. To be able to spend the last couple of years as a member
of this franchise and in front of these fans is a gift I’ll never be able to
repay so this is not a funeral. It’s not a bad thing. I’ve been given a billion
times more than I ever dreamed I could get, to be able to finish it here, if
that’s what happens, is OK. I have nothing but appreciation and love and
gratitude for the people that root for this team, and teammates of mine so it’s
not a bad thing.”

“This was unfortunate in the way it ends, but that’s
life. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not mad that I didn’t get to pick the way I walked
away. Part of that is my fault in a good and bad way. again, it’s not a bad
thing and I appreciate the condolences so to speak. I’ll give you a good
example. I’m talking to a woman named Bridget who is 31 years old and a picture
of perfect health and 25 weeks pregnant and has stage four cancer, and has six
to nine months to live. That’s tragedy. This is not. This is, 22 frickin years
I’ve been playing this game. Again, I would hate to think I’m not going to get
a shot. But if I don’t, I don’t.”
 
“This is all about perspective. Wouldn’t we all like to
throw a no-hitter in the World Series at the age of 40 in our last start and
walk way? Who wouldn’t. That’s not real life.”

NUMBER 17

No, not John Havlicek. The number 17 now has an entirely new meaning in the proud, storied history of the Boston Celtics.

On June 17, 2008, the Celtics won their 17th championship. This, on the birthday of the late Grady Rivers, whom son Doc had to bury back in November. This, after 22 years of no championships — and precious little good fortune — for the Green Machine. This, on the heels of a magical season in which Danny Ainge — a scrappy and championship Celtic during his own playing career — built a juggernaut of a team after dodging slings and arrows the previous four seasons.

This, my friends, was an absolute clinic. I’d probably have to go back to the third quarter of Game 5 against the Hawks in 1986 when the Celtics went on a 36-6 run to find a time when the team put on as thorough and as breathtaking a display of perfect basketball as they did tonight. You can not play a better game then the Celtics did tonight.

You look at this game, and you wonder what it would have been like for Johnny Most to call, or Red Auerbach to watch, or Dennis Johnson. This was vintage Celtics.

It was nice to see them do it at home in front of a joyous TD Banknorth Garden crowd. (Thanks to good friend Louise Cornetta for the excellent photo live from the scene).
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This was the first time the classy Doc Rivers tasted championship champagne — not to mention championship Gatorade. It was also the first time for Kevin Garnett, who changed everything when he arrived in July. And Paul Pierce, who played on a great Kansas team in college that couldn’t get it done, and stuck through some very hard times with the Celtics where he was on the brink of losing hope but he managed to stay the course. And Ray Allen, as sweet a pure shooter as any in Celtics history.

I must say, it was very interesting for me to take in this championship in the city of Philadelphia, a sports-crazed region that has not seen any of their teams win it since Moses Malone and Dr. J put the Sixers on their back way back in 1983. Imagine that? A complete quarter century without any championships. You can sort of feel the bitterness of the fans in Philly, who are every bit as passionate as Boston fans. For instance, when we were waiting to get into the clubhouse tonight, one of the Red Sox beat writers asked the security man if he could turn his TV on to the Celtics game while we were waiting. The security guy said, “I could, but I won’t.” Typical. Oh well.

It is simply amazing that the city of Boston has won no fewer than six championships since that night of February 3, 2002, when Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yarder boomed through the uprights, forever changing the atmosphere in a region that had so many bitter disappointments. Boston, quite simply, is the new winner-ville in sports.

You look at this Celtics roster and nearly every guy made a key contribution along the way.

Paul Pierce. All he did was take his game up about nine notches in the playoffs. He wouldn’t let them lose Game 7 against Cleveland. He wouldn’t let them lose Game 6 in Detroit or Game 4 in LA. And he didn’t let his knee injury in Game 1 keep him from taking over in crunch time. It’s so deserving for Pierce to be the MVP. Number 34 will hang proudly in the rafters some day. You can take that to the bank.

Kevin Garnett.  All KG did was change the entire culture of the franchise. He did it with attitude and he did it with defense. I was  a little rough on him after his nightmare in Game 5, but understand this about KG. The only reason he doesn’t come through sometimes is because he wants it so darned bad that he can’t channel it. There are worse crimes. And how touching was that moment where Kevin Garnett embraced BIll Russell after the game and said, “I got my own, I got my own.” Remember, Russell said if Garnett gave it his all but never won it all, he would share one of his rings with him. That’s no longer necessary.

Ray Allen. He felt like a fish out of water at times this season, deferring to a pair of potential Hall of Famers and sometimes losing his way. It seemed Ray had completely lost it in the first two rounds of the playoffs, only to find it in time to play his best basketball of the year in the final two rounds. Good stuff. His finishing drive in Game 4 will forever live in the annals of Celtics history.

Rajon Rondo. This was the big question mark when the season started. Could they win a championship with young Rondo at the point? There were plenty of highs and lows along the way, but Rondo finished with a spectacular clincher. And don’t forget that Kevin McHale asked for Rondo in the Garnett swap and Ainge flat-out refused.

Kendrick Perkins. He will never be Robert Parish, Dave Cowens or Bill Russell but he did all the dirty work down low. All in all, a great success story for a second round pick of Danny Ainge’s back in 2003.

James Posey.  I loved this signing from the day it was made. There are players and there are winners. This guy is a flat-out winner. How many big three’s did he stick in the playoffs? Too many to remember. Posey was in inspiration to this team on the floor and in the locker room.

Eddie House.  Perhaps the only real mistake Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers made all year was losing trust in House and going after Sam Cassell. In the end, House proved his worth. Yet another player who came up HUGE in the historic Game 4 comeback.

P.J. Brown. The guy was retired at the All-Star break. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen helped talk him into a comeback and Danny reeled him in. He played second star to Pierce in Game 7 against the Cavs. He was the tough veteran bench player this team needed down low.

Leon Powe. Game 2 of the Finals. Enuf said for this rags to riches story.

Glenn “Big Baby” Davis. Let’s not forget some of the big nights this guy had during the regular season. A steal where they got him in the draft. It was good to see him re-appear in the clincher. He will be heard from in the coming years.

So sit back and relish this moment and hope you don’t have to wait another 22 years to see another one. Parade on Thursday at 11 a.m.!!!!

Ian.

Yo Adrian, I did it

What do you during the day-time hours of a night game between the Red Sox and Phillies?

Perhaps you take a mile and a half walk to the historic art museum in downtown Philly and pay your respects to the epic Rocky statue.
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And after you’re done checking out the statue, the thing to do is to climb the Rocky steps. Yes, it can be done. I first did it last year with my three sons. I believe my oldest son Tyler sprinted the whole way with me to the top, while Ryan and Casey stopped for air in the middle. But on that day, it was about 100 degrees. Today was a perfect for such a trek. It was in the mid 70s with no humidity to speak of.

My friend Rob Bradford’s trek is now on Youtube for all the world to see.

It’s pretty humorous to see all the different people that climb those steps throughout the course of a day and then do the Rocky triumph dance when they’re done.

It was a good way to kill time on a day all of New England’s sporting public is looking to see the Celtics win banner No. 17. There was also a good lunch to be had at McCormick and Schmicks, where I went with the shrimp cocktail and a greek salad to make up for the collosally bad eating day that I had yesterday.

 Game 6 tips off in roughly an hour. Who gives the Lakers a chance tonight? I do. I’m not saying the Celtics will lose. I’m merely saying that there’s no reason Kobe isn’t capable of scoring 45 points tonight and willing the Lakers to victory. There’s also no reason that the Lakers can’t play their first great game of the series. Jeff Goldberg of Hartford Courant fame gives the Lakers zero chance. ZERO. GOOSE EGG.

I’ve been telling Jeff for two days now that anything is possible. Jeff notes the home team is 7-1 in Game 6 when leading 3-2 since the 1984-85 season, when the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 format. I tell Jeff that the beauty of sports is that ANYTHING is possible. Who would have thought the Red Sox could have come back from 3-0 in ’04?

Don’t count out the Lakers tonight. That’s all I’m saying.

Later,

Ian.

City of Brotherly Hate

Actually, it’s the City of Brotherly Love where I am right now. That was just me paying homage to the late, great Johnny Most. In the 1980s, he used to start his pregame intro in Philly like this:

“Hi there once again everybody, this is Johnny Most, high above  courtside, here in the city of Brotherly Hate, in the Spectrum in Philadelphia where the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers get ready for basketball battle. Both ballclubs are on the floor right now and this should be a real war.”

Got to love Johnny. But you couldn’t much love that Celtics loss last night. It would have been nice to see them win it in LA, but I guess Garnett wanted to force a Game 6. I’m sorry, I like KG and he did completely change the culture of the franchise. But I firmly believe he is the reason they didn’t win that game last night. Missed free throws, missed layups on tip-ins, dumb fouls, etc. I still don’t see this thing going 7. But stranger things have happened. Check out the 2004 ALCS for memories of just how much stranger.

As for today in Philadelphia, Big Bart Colon, who had very little juice on his fastball tonight, had to leave the game after four innings — and three home runs — with back stiffness. It must be contagious. Kevin Youkilis was scratched from the lineup at the last minute with muscle spasms in his mid back. Jason Varitek has been moved to the sixth spot in the lineup. The mighty Casey replaces Youk and hits seventh.

Manny is back in the lineup. His hamstring has sufficiently improved. The team is in a holding pattern regarding Schilling, who was disappointed by his throwing session on Friday. We should find out within the next 24 hours what is next for Schill, who did have a closed door meeting with Terry Francona today.

David Ortiz had his cast removed, replaced by a removable forearm splint. He should be able to start doing range of motion exercises by tomorrow.

Are any of you Brownie Points readers from the South Shore? The reason I ask is that I’m doing a book signing at the Hingham Barnes and Noble on Thursday night, beginning at 6. I’d love to see some of you there.

Ian.

Pap speaks out; Another Game 4 classic?

While most of the Red Sox have been tight-lipped regarding their feelings about the Tampa Bay Rays since the bench-clearing brawl a week ago, Jonathan Papelbon did not hold back while doing his weekly interview with Comcast SportsNet’s Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight.

The station was kind enough to send along a transcript of Pap’s comments that appeared on their airwaves.

On the Sox-Rays fight...

"In my opinion it is a bunch of bull what they did. All I got to say is
what comes around goes around. Payback is a [naughty word]. In my opinion, and
the way I feel right now, this thing isn't all settled and done. We
still got to play them a few more times and I know when we go into
Tropicana things will be a little different than when went in there last
time."
 
On the Rays staying in the race...

"Those guys have a lot of talent over there. As you can see, it's a war
when we go play those guys. It's the big leagues and you got guys that
can pitch over there and you got some guy that can hit so we've got to
do everything we can to stay atop of those guys and keep fending them
off because they can play."

Sounds good to me. I’ll at at the Trop for that series in early July. What an interesting journey that will be. Three games in Houston, three at Tampa and four in the Bronx against, what is the name of that team again, oh yeah, the Yankees.

I must say, I’m a little revved up about Celtics-Lakers Game 4 tonight. Watching and living through those three Celtics-Lakers tilts in the 1980s, Game 4 was easily the best game in each series. You can make a case for Game 2 in ’84, but there’s no discussion in ’85 or ’87. It’s non-negotiable, as Bob Ryan might say.

Let’s re-live it for a second here:

Game 4, 1984: The Celtics got their doors blown off in Game 3, losing 137-104. After the game, Larry Bird labeled himself and his teammates as sissies. “Magic and them guys were dunking and high fiving each other and you’d think somebody would put a stop to it. Until we get our hearts where we belong, we’re in trouble.”

McHale put the team’s heart in the right place, dropping Kurt Rambis to the floor in an epic Game 4 clothesline. The Celts were down by 10 at halftime and made a tremendous second-half comeback. In fact, they were down by five points with about a minute left. The Chief had a huge three-point play to get them within two and Bird went to the line on Jabbar’s sixth and final foul and tied it. Magic dribbled out the clock with a terrible pass, and Bird won it in overtime by sticking a fallaway jumper in Magic’s mug with 16 seconds left. And with the Lakers down by three and holding one last possession, M.L. Carr stole the inbounds pass and dunked it, putting an exclamation point on the win. He ran off the court screaming into the camera, “We’re coming back, that’s right, we’re coming back.” Bird’s assessment of the win? Were they sissies again? “No, we just played like a bunch of women tonight. We can still play a lot harder.” And so they did, winning that series in Seven.

Game 4, 1985: Just like in ’84, the Celtics were absolutely obliterated at the Forum in Game 3. Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Celtics again came back with a gutsy effort. Bird, nursing a sore elbow and a dislocated finger, had a terrible shooting series. But this was the one game he came through big-time. He had a couple of big steals in crunch time, keeping the Celtics close. Ainge hit two long range-jumpers in the last two minutes, the latter of which gave Boston a two-point lead. The Lakers went to Kareem with about 24 seconds left and he went for the sky hook. He missed, but Magic got the rebound and the putback. Tie ballgame. Celtics ball. They called time-out and then went to Bird from about 16 feet.

A double team swarmed at Bird with the clock ticking toward the finish. Bird swiftly kicked it back out to the late, great Dennis Johnson who nailed a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer. The Celtics mobbed each other as if they had won a championship. Somehow Johnny Most didn’t lose his voice screaming, “D.J. hits the jumper from the left side, it’s all over, Boston wins the all-important, portant game.” That’s right, Johnny skipped a syllable on his second “important”. Those were the days. Anyway, it was the last win of 1985 for the Celtics. And speaking of Dennis Johnson, here is a positively outstanding article written about the interesting legacy of one of my all-time favorite basketball players.

Game 4, 1987: One of the best pure basketball games I have ever seen. Just two Hall of Fame-caliber teams sticking big shot after big shot for 48 minutes. The Celtics, playing with a limping McHale and a limping Parish, were blown out in the first two games at the Forum.But they came up with a big win in Game 3, thanks to Greg Kite of all people shutting the Lakers down with great defense. Game 4 would determine whether or not an upset could be in the making. The Celtics seemed primed for a win, running the break, getting easy baskets and leading by 14 or 15 points at one point. But the Lakers kept chipping away. Still, it looked like the Celtics were going to pull it out. They went up by roughly eight points with three minutes left. But the Lakers went on another run.

The Lakers went up by one on an alley-oop play between Magic and Kareem. The Celtics had the ball and James Worthy decided to guard Bird by holding him by the jersey. Bird somehow snuck free and went to the left corner and drilled a three-pointer with 16 seconds left, putting Boston up by two points. The Garden was rocking. The Lakers had another crack at it. They got it into Kareem and he drove to the right and got fouled on a sky hook with five seconds left. Kareem knocked down the first, putting LA within one. Man, if he had just hit this free throw, history might have been reversed. The Celtics would have had the ball back with a chance to break the tie, or at the very worst, go to overtime. But no. Jabbar had to miss, and the rebound had to go out of bound off McHale’s slippery hands. The Lakers inbounded and Magic broke free for the most famous junior, junior skyhook in NBA Finals history. All net. He drove right through Bird, McHale and Parish. The Celtics had the ball back with two seconds left. DJ made the inbounds pass and I have no clue how, but Bird broke free along the left sideline. He fired it up with his momentum taking him right into the Lakers bench. The shot was down, and then up. Just missed. Ballgame. Unoficially, series over. What a basketball game.

Anyway, if those memories don’t get you primed for tonight, I don’t know what will.

Ian.

Boiling Boston

Here I am at steamy Fenway for a three-game set with the mighty Orioles. Beckett takes the mound tonight. Perfect conditions for a Texas flame-thrower.

Ortiz came into the clubhouse a little while ago, all sweaty from being outside. “I’m taking my shirt off. Not even the Dominican gets this hot.”

Ellsbury is back in the lineup. His wrist appears to be good to go.

Manny will be honored for No. 500 tonight, with fellow 500-homer slugger Eddie Murray taking part in the presentation.

Dice-K will throw a side tomorrow, and then another one by Friday, so I’d say it’s realistic to think he’ll be back in the rotation by next week. Also, does anyone need a last-minute Father’s Day gift? Here is a really cool idea. And here is another very cool item.

Great post by FOBP — Friend of Brownie Points — Kevin Czerwinski on some hidden gems the Red Sox found in the draft. Check it out.

More later,

Ian.

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