Results tagged ‘ Larry Bird ’

The night Pedroia vented

As a Boston sports follower, one of my most vivid memories was after Game 3 of the 1984 Finals, when a disgruntled Larry Bird lit into his Celtics teammates, saying they played like a “bunch of sissies” in a 137-104 loss to the Lakers.

Dustin Pedroia didn’t question anyone’s machismo, but he seemed to be at the end of his rope with the way the team is playing following Friday’s 10-3 loss to the Yankees. Maybe Pedroia’s words will have a similar impact as what Bird said under entirely different circumstances some 28 years ago.

“The first 100 games have been [expletive],” Pedroia said. “I mean, at two games under .500, we’re the Boston Red Sox. If everyone’s thrilled about where we’re at then we need to re-evaluate. Because I don’t like losing. I know everyone else doesn’t like losing, we got to play better man.”

At 49-51, 11 1/2 games back in the American League East and 5 1/2 back in the Wild Card standings, Pedroia still believes.

“I think we can. We got to play good, that’s the bottom line. We have great players, we just need to play good,” Pedroia said. “That’s it. We didn’t. Their guys did, late in the game they extended themselves from us. That’s what great teams do. We didn’t do anything. Our at-bats later in the game were not good. Swinging early in the count — heck, if their eighth-inning guy is going to come in the game, let’s at least get 25, 30 pitches so maybe he can’t pitch tomorrow. Do something productive. And we’re not doing that. That’s a sign of not a winning team. So those are the little things that we need to do better, and it’s frustrating.”

And please don’t tell Pedroia that injuries are a reason the team is where it is.

“When I was hurt, Pedro [Ciriaco] hit .400. When Carl was out, Nava hit .350,” said Pedroia. “The injuries, that’s an excuse. I’m not going to make one. These other guys shouldn’t either. We win as a team and we lose as a team. When injuries happen, guys have stepped up and played their butts off. They put us in a position to make a run. We got to play better, man, that’s it.”

Do Pedroia and his teammates discuss these type of things?

“Yeah, hell yeah we talk about it. We talk about everything man. We got good guys man, we got a good group of guys. We talk baseball all the time. We just got to settle in and play better man, that’s it,” Pedroia said.

Pedroia’s thoughts on what the front office might do between now and Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline?

“I don’t know. I don’t talk to them about stuff. As players, we’re focusing on trying to beat the Yankees right now. Our job is hard enough, we got to come out and execute,” Pedroia said. “Their job is to put the best players they can on the field.”

Pedroia knows the Red Sox can’t wait any longer to get hot.

“I still believe in us. I mean you have to. With the makeup of these guys and the way we work, I feel it’s only a matter of time. Hopefully we don’t just run out of it. You know what I mean, we got to go. We got to play well.”

Is there enough urgency?

“I hope. I can’t speak for everyone,” said Pedroia. “I feel urgency, talking to a lot of guys, we all do. We need to win. It’s not — that’s all we feel. Maybe that’s putting added pressure on guys to come out of their comfort zone and do things that they’re not capable of doing. Need to take a step back and relax. Got to win man.”

Game 4 goes into Celts not so great eight

Let’s take a brief break from the game of baseball, and the Red Sox.

As most of my long-time readers know, following the Boston Celtics — a team I don’t cover and therefore can be a fan of — is one of my biggest hobbies.

So yes, last night’s loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Semis was a crusher in every sense of the word. I started watching the Celtics in 1983-84, at the height of the Bird era. Last night’s game ranks as one of the eight worst Celtics losses I’ve ever endured.

Here is the complete list:

Game 4 of the ’87 Finals. The heroic and wounded Celtics are about to tie the Lakers 2-2 in the Finals, but they blow a 13 point lead in the last four minutes. Larry Bird hits a 3 with 16 seconds left to put them up by 2. They foul Kareem, who misses the second free throw but the rebound goes off McHale’s hand and goes out of bounds. Magic hits the hook shot. Bird somehow breaks free and gets a clean look (albeit falling off the court) at the buzzer and the ball goes in and out. Down 3-1, that series was over just like this one.

Game 6 of the ’85 Finals. Even down 3-2 in the Finals, Celts were in decent shape because they had both Games 6 and 7 at home, and at that point in the rivalry, the Lakers had still never beaten them in the Finals. But aside from McHale, nobody shows up. Lakers win the title on the parquet. Still makes me want to puke just thinking about it.

Game 5 of the ’88 Conference Finals against the Pistons: Very similar to last night. An aging team near the end of its run. Celts are leading comfortably most of the night but  run out of gas. They get a shot at the buzzer to win it in regulation but Bird misses it. Then they get smoked in OT (sound familiar)? The inevitable happens in Game 6. Pistons move on to the Finals. For all practical purposes, the original Big 3 era is over.

Game 5 of the ’90 First Round against the Knicks. They blow a 2-0 series lead and Ewing helps Knicks win Game 5 by banking in a 3. are you kidding me? Sadly, this was the last game of Dennis Johnson’s career, but he had a great game.

Game 4 of the ’92 Conference Semis against Cleveland. People forget that the Celtics were on a mega roll late in that season, led by a recharged Mchale, an ageless Parish, a blossoming Reggie Lewis and an inspired Ed Pinckney and an overachieving John Bagley. Bird is out for most of their late-season run, when they win something like 16 out of 17 and sweep the Pacers in the first round. Bird actually comes back for Game 4, the game i’m talking about, and a win would have put them up 3-1 in the series and set them up for a conference finals match with Jordan and the Bulls. Reggie gets fouled at the end of regulation. They don’t call it. in Overtime, Bird and Reggie run a give and go, and Bird somehow misses the layup!!! kind of like Rondo last night. Bad bad loss. Cavs end up winning the series in seven. Bird’s career ends after this series.

Game 4 of the ’02 Conference Finals against the Nets. The Celts make the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history to win Game 3. We all remember it. They are up 2-1 in the series. They have game 4 within their grasp but can’t seal the deal. Pierce misses a crucial free throw. Nets tie the series and win the series in six. So much for the honor of getting swept by the Lakers in the Finals.

Game 7 of last year’s Finals. I still can’t speak about it.

And last night.

We can take last night’s game off the list if they somehow come back to win this series, but at this hour, that isn’t feeling very likely.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, where Carl Crawford has increased his hitting streak to 10 games, and Jacoby Ellsbury has a 19-gamer going.

Memories abound as another homestand starts

There are certain dates that stick out in Red Sox history. April 29, 1986 falls into that category.

That was 25 years ago tonight, against the same opponent that is at Fenway tonight. That was the night Roger Clemens became the Rocket. It was the night a Red Sox team that was projected to be mediocre began to take on the feel of something special.

The 20-strikeout performance was one of the most breathtaking performances in history. I remember watching it on TV. I was 14 at the time and completely mesmerized by what I was watching. The Red Sox had never had a pitcher like this in my lifetime, or maybe anyone’s life time.

Not only was Clemens striking the Mariners out, he was simply blowing the ball by all of them. They weren’t even coming close.

The Celtics were playing the Hawks at the Garden that night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semis, so there was just a modest crowd of 13,444 that filed into Fenway.

But by the late innings, the place began to sound electric, even from TV.

Do you remember the Red Sox actually trailed that game 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh? Mike Moore was nasty that night for Seattle. But Dwight Evans took care of him with a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, and the night’s focus turned to the history that was unfolding.

Do you remember Don Baylor dropping the foul popup at first base? If he hadn’t dropped it, Clemens only strikes out 19.

Do you remember how young and thin Clemens was back then? It seemed like he would accomplish just about anything he wanted to in his career. Of course, there have been several twists and turns since then, but that’s not worth going into now.

That was a night that will live on, no matter what happened after. On the night of April 29, 1986, the two athletes that owned Boston were Larry Bird and Clemens. More people went to the Garden to watch Larry that night, but on that occasion, the big story unfolded at Fenway.

Here is the strikeout breakdown:

Phil Bradley whiffed four times; Ken Phelps, Ivan Calderon and Dave Henderson (remember him?) all K’d three times. Spike Owen and Jim Presley both struck out twice.  Gorman Thomas, Danny Tartabull and Steve Yeager each went down once.