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Thursday morning LEEInks

07.16.09 at 9:36 am ET
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Good morning New England, and hope you enjoyed your extra hour of sleep!

Let me explain. No new news, no Red Sox, no need for SportsCenter today. If you’re opening your laptop to view this as you turn on ESPN, close it and turn off the tube. Come back in an hour.

The Red Sox return to action (finally) tomorrow with a series in Toronto that will be marked by both a big debut and a couple of key returns.

While it is almost certainly a bigger deal that Boston will be getting the left side of their infield back in Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie, it is understandable for Sox fans to be more excited to see what Clay Buchholz can do in his first start of the season tomorrow when he goes up against Toronto’s Ricky Romero. Buchholz has posted a 2.36 ERA at Pawtucket while striking out 89 batters through 99 innings. His 0.98 WHIP is second in the International League.

While nobody expects Buchholz to repeat his 2007 no-hitter or May 25 one-hitter this season, he is very capable of doing something that only three Sox starters have done this season: pitch seven innings. In 29 combined starts between Brad Penny, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and John Smoltz, there has been a grand total of zero seven-inning outings. Buchholz has accomplished the feat five times this season at Triple A.

As for Lowrie, the shortstop has seemingly dealt with the unglamorous aspects of the business (injuries, trade rumors, etc.) more than he has dealt with actually playing the game. He said last night that he’s ready for that to change.

Confirming what anyone who has followed Joe Haggerty has already known for quite some time, the Bruins and NHL announced yesterday that the team will take on the Flyers on Jan. 1 at Fenway. This won’t be a game that you’ll want to be sitting in section 48 for. Though it will be far away from the ice, the Budweiser deck and Green Monster appear to be the best seats in the house for the event, barring any additional seating that will be added. Imagine that overhead view!

Between the Winter Classic thing unofficially being old news and the sight of the image to the right, the coolest thing of the day involving the Bruins has nothing to do with Fenway Park. The Golden Ticket Giveaway is something any Bruins/Celtics/anything at the Garden fan won’t want to miss.

If you’re going to make it out to any of the participating location, it won’t hurt to go the Michael Scott as Willy Wonka route. (It won’t help, but it won’t hurt.) Also there’s free chocolate. Everyone’s a winner!

With training camp just two short weeks away, WEEI.com’s Christopher Price has the latest news the Patriots continue to reach agreements with their ’09 draft class, including two of their three second rounders. Seventh-round defensive lineman Darryl Richard is the latest to agree to a deal, making him the fourth Patriots selection to come to an agreement. Top two picks Patrick Chung and Ron Brace remain unsigned.

[UPDATE: Price is reporting that Brace and the Pats are close on a four-year pact]

Speaking of signings, the New York Post is reporting that Jon Lester may not be the only flame-throwing lefty in Boston in the future. As if the Red Sox were thin on pitching prospects. Cue the classic “You can never have enough pitching.” Tell that to Buchholz.

That does it for this edition of LEEInks. Try to hang in there without the Sox and, for God’s sake, go find a golden ticket!

Read More: Buchholz, Lowrie, Winter Classic,

Revs at a loss

07.16.09 at 9:24 am ET
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The Revs have been playing in foreign territory of late not unlike the team’s newest edition Lithuanian forward Edgaras Jankauskas.

A year ago, the Revs had twice as many wins at this point in the season. This season, with a 4-5-5 MLS record (6-7-6 overall) and playmakers Taylor Twellman and Shalrie Joseph sidelined with injuries, the Revs are certainly scraping the barrel for goals and wins.

Jankauskas scored the Revs only strike of the game Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire in the semifinal match of SuperLiga 2009, but the 2008 defending SuperLiga champion Revolution could not put out the Fire as Chicago pulled ahead 2-1 in the 63rd minute after Darrius Barnes fouled the Fire’s Brian McBride setting up Cuauhtemoc Blanco for the go-ahead.

The Fire advance to the SuperLiga finals Aug. 5 in Chicago.

Jankauskas played for the full 90 minutes for the first time with the Revs, and first time in eight months. The forward took a cross from Chris Tierney, who was returning to game action after being sidelined with a sore left MCL, and shot it into the net before it deflected off a Chicago defender and knotted the game at one.

“I took the ball on the chest and I think the ball hit some defender’s back or leg and went into the net,” Jankauskas said. “So at that moment I had the luck that we lacked in the second half.”

Against Chicago, the Revs took a season-high 23 shots — 17 in the second half alone — keeping the heat on the Chicago defense. But they were unable to capitalize on any of the chances, many of which bounced off the post and cross bar or sailed high of the net.

Jankaukas came to the team on July 1 filling an international roster slot to help plug some of the holes that have left head coach Steve Nicol with an incomplete bench for eight of 18 games this season. The 34-year-old has more than 18 seasons of experience in European professional soccer and has been on the Lithuanian national team 54 times, scoring 10 goals along the way.

The Revs need that experience on the field. Nicol has continuously credited his team’s lackluster preformance this season to the numerous injuries and the young players who have been forced to prematurely fill those roles.

“I guess you could say we didn’t get what we deserved,” Nicol said of his team’s play on Wednesday. “We had chances and their goalie made a couple of great saves, but overall, we haven’t got what we deserved.”

The team will finally return to regular season MLS play this weekend against Chivas USA at Gillette. (New England has played in a league-low 14 games, with every other team having at least 16 games to their record.)

While Chivas will prove to be a tough opponent sitting at third in the Western standings with eight wins and 27 points, the Revs will try to regain their winning ways at home.

“Sometimes you’re just unlucky,” said New England’s Jeff Larentowicz. “I don’t know how many times we hit the frame but we created chances. We had Edgaras on the ball, we had everybody running off him, our wide guys played really well. Sometimes, it just doesn’t go your way.”

Philadelphia Votes for Pedro!

07.15.09 at 9:34 am ET
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Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Pedro Martinez back to the Big Leagues!

The lanky Dominican pitcher passed his physical yesterday and cleared the way for him to take the mound in the City of Brotherly Love on a $1-million, one-year deal. Admittedly, the Philly faithful won’t be getting an exact replica of the same dominant right-hander that Red Sox fans were devoted to for nearly a decade.

It’s fitting for Martinez to re-join the Majors the day after the All-Star Game, the very same stage in which he made an indelible mark on the game. Ten years ago, Martinez was selected to start the All-Star Game at Fenway Park.

Martinez started and struck out five of the first six batters including three former MVPs. This week, WEEI.com’s own Kirk Minihane recounted his memories of the 1999 Midsummer Classic.

As Red Sox fans were mired in a so-called curse, Martinez seemed to tempt the gods and a certain colossus of clout. Needless to say, Martinez tough talk to the Babe, didn’t bode well for the Sox that summer.

“I don’t believe in curses, wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him,” Martinez said to reporters in 2001. “Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass,” he added.

That season, Martinez spent much of it on the disabled list with a rotator cuff injury. Since those comments, Martinez has learned not to mess with the heavens.

Two years later, Martinez ruffled the feathers of another former Red Sox personality with later ties to a ballclub in the Bronx. As the Red Sox went into a heated ALCS game 3, Pedro plunked Karim Garcia in the back with a pitch.

In the following frame, Manny Ramirez charged the mound after taking exception to a high pitch from Yankees starter and noted headhunter Roger Clemens. Benches cleared and a brawl ensued.

However, Don Zimmer had it out for Martinez. Martinez, meanwhile introduced Zimmer to the Fenway turf.

Finally, a year later, Pedro and his Red Sox cohorts delivered New England its first World Series title in 86 years. What exactly was the Red Sox’ good luck charm during that magical run in October?

Better question: who was the lucky charm? Look no further than Martinez’s diminutive friend, the late Nelson De La Rosa.

Welcome back to Major League Baseball, Pedro Martinez.

Read More: Pedro Martinez,

Presidential First Pitches

07.14.09 at 12:46 pm ET
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In just his first year in office, President Barack Obama certainly has a lot on his plate.

A slumping economy to mend, two wars in the Middle East to command, a superpower nation to tend to — these are just a few of the issues he has faced since taking office in January. But Tuesday night, the commander in chief will face perhaps the most daunting task for any sitting president: reaching home plate.

Obama will become the first U.S. president to toss out the ceremonial first pitch at an All-Star Game since Gerald Ford in 1976. And while this is quite the honor, Obama better be sure his pitch doesn’€™t hit the dirt like political first pitches of baseball games past.

When it boils down to it, Americans will be loyal to any president regardless of party affiliation. It’€™s because we respect the democratic process and frown upon the instability of countries that become slaphappy with overthrowing their leaders in bloody coups.

But if the leader of the free world proves incapable of tossing a baseball from the mound to home plate, well ‘€¦ may God have mercy on his soul.

Like the defamation of an American flag or the denial of democratic rights, we just won’€™t stand for it. It’€™s simply un-American.

Surely Bostonians remember John Kerry’€™s first pitch at Fenway in the midst of the 2004 presidential election. Not only did the Massachusetts senator throw from in front of the mound, but he also failed to reach the plate as his ball sputtered out of control and finally made a dispirited descent into the dirt. The Fenway faithful booed the presidential candidate relentlessly, and Kerry went on to lose the general election by 34 electoral votes.

Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps Kerry should’€™ve stuck with soccer.

His opponent that year, former President George W. Bush, learned his lesson three years earlier. Following the attacks on September 11th, Bush threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium during Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. Prior to the game, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter warned the president of the backlash he’€™d receive if he threw from in front of the mound and bounced it.

Much to the chagrin of terrorists abroad, Bush reached home plate with astounding accuracy and the post-9/11 New York City crowd loved it. Then Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius said the president ‘€œhad a good arm.’€

But this issue of throwing from the mound has just recently been thrust into the political arena. Presidents formerly threw out the first pitch from their seats, as shown here with William Howard Taft, FDR, Ike, and as recently as Nixon in 1970.

It wasn’€™t until 1996 that President Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to pitch off the mound ‘€“ a feat that likely saved him during his impeachment trials in 1998.

So Tuesday, as the 44th president of the United States prepares to open the All-Star Game with the ceremonial first pitch, will he go down in history as a girly-man or a true all-American leader?

You Decide.

Read More: All-Star Game 2009, First Pitch, Obama,

Five things to do during your All-Star break…

07.14.09 at 11:42 am ET
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The torturous four day Red Sox-less week, otherwise known as the All-Star break, has begun.

The Sox haven’t played since Sunday, and they’re not playing again until Friday in Toronto when Clay Buchholz takes the mound. Some of you may have been desperate enough to watch last night’s Home Run Derby to get your baseball fix, while others may have used the “off-day” as a way to catch up on life outside of baseball.

While the All-Star break is a nice way for players to recuperate before the grind of the second half, it often leaves fans lost and confused with nothing to do. Every year the regulars — who faithfully watch every game, every night — are cut off cold turkey in mid-season for this break. The daily baseball schedule is a part of our lives, a welcome respite after a long day of work.

OK, it’s really not that bad yet. But as days three and four of this year’s break roll around, Red Sox fans may be looking for any kind of sports entertainment. So here is a list of things to do before the unofficial second half of the Red Sox season gets underway Friday night:

1. If you are in day two withdrawal already, and trying to avoid the All-Star Game tonight, you’re in luck — the Lowell Spinners are home tonight, taking on the Aberdeen Ironbirds at LaLacheur Park. Check out the Sox farm system for potential prospects Theo could offer up for Roy Halladay. One possibility is tonight’s scheduled starter Ryan Pressly, who is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in four starts. Desiginated hitter and (Newport, RI native) Ryan Westmoreland is hitting .284 with a home run and 12 RBI in 18 games. The Spinners had won four in a row before dropping the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday.

2. Try to make it down to a Cape League game to check out some future MLB prospects. Games start a 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Not only are the games free, but the college stars play harder than your average MLB player with numerous scouts looming in the stands. Promising starter Chris Sale will be on the mound Wednesday for the Yarmouth-Dennis against Cotuit. Sale is 3-1 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts. (On a side note, NESN has picked up a half-hour show called ‘Cape League on Deck’ airing Thursday’s at 5 p.m. It’s a magazine-style show covering the on-field and off-field happenings of the league and its players. Worth a watch.)

3. Get your Gillette fix by heading to Foxborough on Wednesday to watch the Revs take on the Chicago Fire for the SuperLiga 2009 semifinals . The Revs are defending champs of the 2008 SuperLiga tournament which pits the top four Mexican clubs against the top four MLS teams of the previous year. The Revs beat out Mexican teams Santos Laguna and Atlas last month, and tied with the Kansas City Wizards to advance them to Wednesday’s game against the Fire. After battling the Wizards to a scoreless tie in regular season MLS play this past Saturday, Wednesday’s game will be the second in eight days for the team who take on Chivas USA on Sunday.

4. If golf is more your style, Britsh Open first round coverage starts this Thursday at 7 a.m. on TNT. Two-time defending champion Padraig Harrington will tee off at 9:20 a.m. ET along with Jim Furyk and Geoff Ogilvy. Phil Mickelson announced last week that he is sitting out the 138th British Open to spend time with his wife who is battling cancer. Mickelson had appeared in 61 consecutive major starts, the longest active streak in PGA history. Tiger Woods will looking for a victory more so than ever after missing Open Championshp and PGA Championship finishing less than par in the Masters and US Open. With a win this weekend, Tiger could record his 15th major championship inching closer to Jack Nicklaus‘ record of 18.

5. Head down to Pawtucket on Thursday for a match against Indianapolis Indians . Jed Lowrie is still rehabbing with the Pawsox, and is 4-for-8 in his last two games. The International League All-Star game, in which the Pawsox will send relief pithcer Jose Vaquedano and closer Fernando Cabrera, takes place this Wednesday in Oregon. Pawtucket  looks to regain their winning ways after the All-Star break having lost their last five in a row slipping below .500 for the first time in the 2009 season. The Pawsox are facing the right kind of team to end their slump, as the Indians hold a 41-49 record and are on a three-game losing streak.

LEEInks Looks At The Home Run Derby

07.13.09 at 10:48 am ET
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It’s that time of year again! Time for baseball’s midsummer classic — the All-Star Game.

With it comes the jewel of the festivities, the Home Run Derby. The home run contest has been the most anticipated part of this three-day hiatus from the regular season since 1985.

In recent years, the contest has lacked a great deal of the luster it once had. This year, Major League Baseball had immense trouble finding an eighth competitor for tonight’s contest, until Tampa Bay’s (and Haverhill native) Carlos Pena stepped in.

How did this contest get its start? Most trace it back to the 1960 television show of the same name hosted by actor/announcer Mark Scott. The video below is a look at the show, which pits Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Duke Snider against Milwaukee’s Henry Aaron. Something tells me this Aaron fellow was destined for gopher ball greatness, even in 1960.

ESPN even revived the show for a short run in 2003. Jose Canseco was deemed the winner of the second running of the show.

The All-Star weekend incarnation of the Home Run Derby got going in 1985 during All-Star festivities at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. That year, Cincinnati’s Dave Parker was crowned champ, but had to fend off a star-studded stable of contenders including Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Dale Murphy, Cal Ripken Jr., Ryne Sandberg, and Steve Garvey.

Ever since, the contest has been a summertime staple, and has produced some pretty awesome moments in the 24 years since it’s inception.

Who can forget Ken Griffey Jr. hitting the Warehouse across from Camden Yards in 1993? Or Mark McGwire peppering the Mass Pike in 1999? McGwire belted 13 bombs in the first round that year, a new single round record at the time. However, with backwards cap and everything, Griffey stole the show and came away with the title on that warm July night at Fenway.

And every so often, the Home Run Derby will produce a whole new star in the baseball galaxy. Last year was no different with Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton’s first round of epic proportions. Hamilton hit 28 first-round homers last year off of his Legion ball coach, Clay Counsil. The scene was certainly a triumphant one, especially considering the demons that Hamilton fended off to reach that moment.

In case you don’t remember, let the video below jog your memory.

Tonight’s competitors from the American League are: Peña, Nelson Cruz, Brandon Inge and Joe Mauer. Swinging the stick for the Senior Circuit is a quartet of first basemen: Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

ESPN has introduced new technology for tonight’s contest, the Ball Track. Hopefully, this technology goes over much better than the Fox Trax puck back in the mid-90’s.

However, if all else fails, you could always watch the Derby and play the official 2009 Home Run Derby Drinking Game.

More from the International House of Soccer…

07.12.09 at 7:13 am ET
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A tripleheader of soccer action engulfed Gillette Stadium on Saturday, including the Revs first regular-season home match in over a month and a visit from the U.S. national team against Haiti for the CONCACAF Gold Cup series.

Leave it to the U.S. national team to give soccer fans and the Gillette crowd a run for its money. Stuart Holden’s bullet into the back of the net in the first minute of second half stoppage time tied a tumultuous game with Haiti at two and put the U.S. atop the Group B standings for the CONCACAF Gold Cup Saturday night in the second game of the tripleheader.

With vertical leaps of about four feet, the Haitians sprinted out to the field from the Gillette runway — followed by the calm, cool and collected Americans. The unmistakable international flavor of the game resonated with the air horns blaring, colorful flags whipping in the air and intricate chants bellowing through the stadium.

“They are very talented physically,” U.S. head coach Bob Bradley said of his Haitian opponents. “They are capable of doing creative, off-the-cuff things that catch you by surprise. They have special individual ability so we are very respectful of that and understand if we let the game become a wide open game if we let the game go their way its going to be very difficult.”

The U.S. wasted no time in scoring the first goal of the match six minutes into the game. Eventual game hero Holden sent a cross to Davy Arnaud, who placed it in the back of the net for the 1-0 advantage.

The U.S. held on for the rest of the first before an aggressive attack by Haiti putting them ahead just five minutes into the second half. Leonel Saint Preaux weaved his way around the U.S. defense and sent a cross to Sirin Vaniel who tipped it in for the tie. Four minutes later, Haiti took the lead on an unassisted shot in the corner of the net by Mones Chery.

“You have to have a way to keep the game in order, so I think we learned a good lesson,” Bradley said. “We scored an early goal, but I think it came so early we hadn’t found a rhythm in the game yet and as a result after that we were still trying to find that rhythm and they were able to take some plays and cause some trouble. We talked at halftime about regaining control and obviously coming out in the second half we did just the opposite.”

The Haitian defense remained solid throughout the second half protecting the meager one-goal lead. Haiti coach Jairo Rios said later that if his team had held out against the U.S. it would not only give them a chance for the Gold Cup but make a statement to America from one of the poorest countries in the world.

Yet the U.S. put the pressure on Haiti and maintained the ball for most of the second half making shot after shot but squandering multiple chances right in front of the net. Bradley inserted Charlie Davies, Brian Ching and Kyle Beckerman to help the offense, but it was Holden that scored the game-saver.

“We kept knocking at the door and the chance fell to me the last minute,” Holden said. “You just want to strike it as well as you can, keep it on target and if it doesnt go in give somebody else a chance but lucky enough I hit it well enough that it went in the back of the net. It was  great feeling but I was still hoping we’d have a couple extra to get the ball and get another goal.”

The U.S. advances to the next round facing the third placed team in group A or C.

Earlier in the evening, the Revolution and Kansas City Wizards came to 0-0 draw in their third head-to-head match in the last 29 days. In the tie, Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis recorded 11 saves breaking his own record of 10 recorded last June in a win over FC Dallas.

We’re at a point in the season where we need three points with all the changes and all the players being out,” Reis said. “We have to play to zero and make sure we’re not allowing teams to score because we’re having trouble scoring right now. Eleven saves is 11 saves, we’re at home so hopefully we wouldn’t have to make those saves but it’s nice to help the team out.”

The Revs defense held the game together as the Wizards combined for 16 shots, with 11 on goal. Kansas City applied constant pressure in the second half, with Jack Jewsbury forcing Reis to make two quick saves in same minute on a header and a sliding shot into the box.

The still injury riddled team took the field with six of its players on the injury list (Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, Chris Albright, Chris Tierney, Mauricio Castro and Amachi Igwe) with Wells Thompson suspended on yellow cards and Jay Heaps with the U.S. national team. The Revs have now played eight out of 18 games this season without a full bench forcing their youngest players to take the field in place of their top scorers.

A tired Steve Nicol once again attributed the lack of scoring to inexperience on the field.

“We’ve got a bunch of babies playing,” Nicol said. “They want to do this and that but they don’t know how. Unfortunately if they’re in the wrong spot it puts added pressure on everyone and it’s just a lot of stuff we could do better but because of the lack of experience we haven’t been able to.”

Steve Ralston made his return after right hamstring tightness sidelined him for three weeks, yet he could not jumpstart the offense trying to catch up to full game speed. The Revs newest addition, Lithuanian Edgaras Jankauskas, also played in his first MLS game at Gillette replacing Kheli Dube in the second half but also failed to spark the offense with most of the Revs shots sailing high and wide far from the net.

Honduras beat Grenada 4-0 in the final game of the night.

Is the payoff worth the prospects you lose?

07.09.09 at 11:12 am ET
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Now that Roy Halladay‘s name has been tossed out there as a possible trade target for the Red Sox, a very common argument is revisited: do you give up the prospects for the veteran?

There are two schools of thought here. The first is that it is safer to trade an unknown commodity for a known commodity. The second is that it is risky to sacrifice a potential career’s worth of stardom for a few years of service.

Plenty of fans were up in arms about shipping Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to Florida for Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota and that meaningless throw-in named Mike Lowell. The end result? Pretty amazing for both teams. The Red Sox got a World Series out of the deal, thanks to a dominant postseason performance by Beckett and WS MVP Lowell.

The Marlins? Well, aside from owning property on the DL, Sanchez threw a no-no in ’06. As for Ramirez, who did you take with the first overall pick this year in your fantasy league?

The Marlins/Red Sox trade is truly a rare case because it is such a clear-cut win-win. It is far more common that the result sway in favor of one team. For example, many prospect-obsessed fans were probably hesitant when the Sox shipped Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr. to Montreal in exchange for Pedro Martinez. A good trade for both teams? Hardly. Totally worth the hit Boston’s farm system took.

More recently, the Red Sox were in serious talks with the Twins about Johan Santana. It’s hard to say exactly what the deal would have been, but the consensus was that the Sox were offering Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden/Justin Masterson in addition to either Jon Lester or Jacoby Ellsbury. The Twins asked for both Lester and Ellsbury. Enter Facebook’s debut as voice of the fans.

As time goes on and Lester cements his status as a top-two starter, it will probably become clearer that the Sox made the right move in holding onto their guys. Nevertheless, the intense banter that took place among fans that offseason was outstanding. I know, where were Slugfests when you needed them?

How about the Coco Crisp trade? Pink hats were drooling at the notion of having a t-shirt that said “Coco” on the back, but anyone with a Baseball America Prospect Handbook was terrified of letting go of Andy Marte. End result? Everyone sucked. Except maybe Kelly Shoppach.

(Don’t call it a comeback– the 25-year-old Marte could finish the season at Columbus hitting .300 in the minors for the first time in his career. He’s currently at .319.)

The reason most fans are hell-bent on holding onto prospects is two-fold. First of all, they’ve seen the success with homegrown guys that could have been traded at one point (I do recall Ted Sarandis telling a young caller named DJ Bean that he was “disappointed” in people like him for not wanting to trade a shortstop prospect named Dustin Pedroia for Jason Schmidt). Secondly, they are aware of the great careers that Boston missed out on in the past.

Flashback to 1988. The Red Sox trade a couple of prospects for Mike Boddicker. The Sox got some great production (39 wins in two and a half seasons) out of Boddicker, so it all worked out for Boston, right? Sure, except the prospects were Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling.

If that wasn’t bad enough, you know what’s coming next. That’s right: Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen. This trade, along with perhaps Schilling, Pete Harnisch, and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis, is the worst-case scenario when general managers consider giving up young players. It’s a deal that gave the Red Sox 22 innings of middle relief and the Astros 449 homers. Not exactly a wash.

The list goes on and on, and it doesn’t only apply to baseball. Though they were immediately silenced by the final product, many Celtics fans were unhappy with the decision to ship a package of first-rounders and Al Jefferson in the Kevin Garnett deal. And an early second-round pick for Corey Dillon? Please. The endgame, of course, remains championships. If you get a ring out of the deal, there’s no looking back. Hanley Ramirez may go on to shatter all sorts of records, but the only record applying to the deal that matters in Boston is 4-0: Boston’s World Series record since the trade.

Do Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, and Lars Anderson all appear to have bright futures? Sure, but it’s also hard to pass on a rotation of Beckett, Halladay, Lester, Wakefield, and Penny/Smoltz.

Read More: Beckett, Halladay, Lester, schilling

Lights, Camera, Press Conference!

07.09.09 at 9:38 am ET
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A day after the Lakers did the same with Ron Artest, the Celtics are set to unveil one of the craziest players in the NBA today at 4 p.m. in Rasheed Wallace.

Greg Cameron gave Boston a technical introduction to Wallace on Monday, but there’s no doubt all eyes will be watching this afternoon as the big man is formally introduced.

Press conferences have always been something of a spectacle, but Boston has seen its fair share of introductions that put others to shame. Bill Parcells warranted the governor’s attention back in 1993, and remember the time the Sox brought that Matsuzaka guy over from Japan?

Very few thought John Smoltz would ever be introduced to a city outside of Georgia, so seeing the Braves legend in a Sox cap in January was a headline-grabber to say the least.

But enough about the Pats and Red Sox, this day is about the Celtics, who have had plenty of big-time introductions of their own. Before getting to the one that brought banner 17 to Boston, who could forget Rick Pitino? With fresh, new banners made up for the FleetCenter hanging behind him, the local hero was all but sworn in as Mayor of Boston. Dan Shaughnessy used up an entire column back in ’97 listing all of the things Pitino already knew about the town when he came here. By the time he left, he probably knew a few more things, including which retired players aren’t walking through a certain door.

The biggest non-international press conference in recent memory has to be the one that followed the Kevin Garnett acquisition. What made it so incredible was the way the Celtics went about it by re-introducing Paul Pierce and Ray Allen along with him. They weren’t pushing KG on Boston, they were pushing an idea, and one that the entire city believed in once they saw the new Big Three, Boston Three Party, or whatever else they wanted to be called.

The promotion of that idea continues as Wallace enters the fold. On Sunday Mike Mutnansky rightfully joked that the Celtics are borderline elderly these days, but thanks to what these three guys have done, nobody seems to care. Is there anybody left that still damns Ainge for giving up on Al Jefferson? Is anybody totally up in arms about letting Leon Powe go? The Celtics have placed an incredible emphasis on experience these last couple of years, and it’s led to fantastic results. And for those who do feel that old age will bite the Green in the you-know-what this season, Wallace at the very least can serve as tremendous insurance in case KG goes down again.

Whether it’s the delayed signing of J.D. Drew, or the poor translating at the Matsuzaka introduction, Boston has never shied away from a good ol’ press conference. Even when the Sox brought on a former enemy in David Wells, there were smiles across New England, and the affinity for introductions doesn’t end there.

Tell me you weren’t watching, fists-clenched each time as the Yankees introduced Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, and Mark Teixeira, and I’ll kindly tell you to get your morning links and videos elsewhere. Likewise, the folks in New York couldn’t have exactly been thrilled when Curt Schilling dropped his famous quote after hitchhiking from Arizona.

There may be no politicians or Japanese media surrounding Wallace as he holds up his green No. 30 jersey today, but one thing is for sure: you, along with the rest of New England and NBA fans, will be watching.

Read More: Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, kevin garnett, rasheed wallace

Hobbled Revs look for a win

07.08.09 at 2:40 pm ET
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When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s slogan that should be plastered on the  practice jerseys of the New England Revolution after playing through numerous injuries the past few weeks.

A strange loss last Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup against Harrisburg City — in which the Revs only fielded eight players at the end of the game — was followed by a 1-0 loss this past weekend to the L.A. Galaxy.

The Revs have not played at Gillette since a June 28 SuperLiga play contest (which was also when they recorded their last win). The difference between the home and road records this season is glaring — 5-1-2 at home and 1-4-3 on the road.

“When you’re on the road you need experience to win and we haven’t had that,” said head coach Steve Nicol said. “We’ve had a lot of rookies and young guys that don’t have that extra thing that you get with experience but certainly on the road that pulls you through and helps you win games. I think we saw that on Saturday. We should have gotten something from the game but that extra bit of experience in that final part kind of let us down.”

But the loss on Saturday in L.A. was anchored by good news with the return of defender Kevin Alston for a full 90 minutes of play and veteran defender Gabriel Badilla availability off the bench. Alston had been nursing tightness in his right hamstring and Badilla recovering from a buldging disk. Alston said his leg felt fine at practice today but that he was sore from the playing the full game.

Nicol is just hoping for a full team going into this Saturday’s match against Kansas City. The Revs and Wizards have already met twice in the last month, once during regular MLS play and once during a SuperLiga match.

“I think we want to play the game with eleven men,” Nicol said. “I think the last three games we’ve played them we’ve ended the game with ten men for a huge part of the game. I think first of all we want to keep everybody on the field and that will give us a better chance.”

Nicol hopes that Steve Ralston, who had been sidelined because of a right hamstring strain but was moved up to questionable, may be ready for the weekend. He was at practice Wednesday doing some drills with the team. Chris Tierney, who strained his left MCL in practice last Friday, sat out Saturday but also might be available against Kansas City. Mauricio Castro (left hamstring strain) and Chris Albright (left lateral meniscus tear) were at practice kicking a ball around.

“It will be good to have everybody back, but it’s nice to have choices now,” Nicol said.

The Revs will be short one more defender for this weekend’s match, but for good reason. Jay Heaps has been participating in the CONCACAF Gold Cup as a member of the U.S. National Team. The U.S. will play Haiti on Saturday night at Gillette following the Revs-Wizards match.

“Number one, it’s great for him,” Nicol said. “He’s put a lot of hard work in throughout the years and again he has been consistent the whole time and he’s basically getting his reward. He’s there on merit and he deserves to be there. Obviously for us here and this area it’s good to see your own, not only doing well, but doing it with the national team.”

Honduras and Grenada will round out the Gillette tripleheader after the U.S.-Haiti match.