Archive for September, 2008

Lowell looks good for Game 1
September 30, 2008

Mike Lowell just said that he would know after the first few minutes of taking grounders in todays practice whether he would be ready to go for tomorrow’s Game 1 of the playoffs.
After just watching him field grounders without a hitch of any kind- Lowell looks to be a go for Game 1 against the Angels which is great and very surprising news for the Red Sox and their fans.
He is in the cage hitting right now and looks good. Look for him to bat 6th or maybe even 7th tomorrow
-MD

JD Drew all set
September 30, 2008

JD Drew just pronounced himself 100 percent and ready to play tomorrow barring any unforeseen incident in practice which is beginning momentarily

I Love L-A
September 30, 2008

Not loving the Angels, just the city (truth be told -we flew into Long Beach-a wonderfully small airport and are staying in Anaheim). There is certainly a different laid back lifestyle here in Southern California that is very relaxing.

Supposed to be 85 degrees on Tuesday. We’ll sweat it out to bring you the health updates on Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew and Josh Beckett as soon as the Red Sox begin their workout at 4:00 eastern time.

Anaheim stadium is one of the best in the majors and we’ll show it to you tomorrow.
MD

The Boys Are Back In Town
September 29, 2008

Update: view the slideshow here.

One of my favorite movies is “Major League” and one of my favorite scenes is when Willie Mays Hays shows up out of the blue ready to play. All of the coaches give each other that quizzical “who is this guy?” look. Of course, security carries his bed outside in the middle of the night, until the starter’s gun awakens Hays, who goes on to win the sprints in his pajamas.

I feel like that’s what happened at Celtics Media Day today with veteran point guard Sam Cassell. Despite no word that Sam had re-signed, there he was, all smiles today in his sparkling white #28 jersey. We all turned to each other and said, “Well, I guess Sam’s back!” But would it really surprise anyone if the charismatic Cassell, who stole the show with a variety of jokes during other players’ interviews (at one point acting like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, hurling insults from the balcony), just showed up on his own?

Sam I Am Up In The Balcony

Sam I Am Up In The Balcony

Later, we learned Sam was actually planning to sign his new contract today, so there you go (and the team made an official announcement just after dinnertime). Not sure how much he can contribute to the team (in fact, some observers say he did more harm than good during the playoffs), but he’s definitely an entertaining presence in the locker room, and can provide a lot of veteran guidance to the young guards.

Media Day is basically the one shot the team gets to take photos of the guys in various poses for use in promotional materials and the Jumbotron pieces. It’s also our first chance to talk to them before training camp (at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island). While most of the media and players are milling about in the main gym, almost like a flea market, we had a different vantage point.

We were set up in the secondary gym which was quite a sight. As you walked in, you were immediately greeted by a well-lit giant blue screen which belonged to TNT. Each player came in and read lines for the ENTIRE season. When you see Kevin Garnett say “You’re watching the NBA Playoffs on TNT” in May, he taped that today.

Then it was over to a second giant blue screen. This one was doing double duty. First, the players had to strike a variety of poses for their animated profiles that you will see on CelticVision (the HD jumbotron) during the season. When asked to dribble and play with the ball a bit, some of the guys got a bit carried away, with Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo providing the most memorable ball tricks. Then the guys had to read lines for ESPN and ABC, which included Paul Pierce wishing every NBA fan a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… in September (presumably to air when the Celtics play the Lakers in LA on Christmas Day only on… Channel 5!).

We were the players final stop, and while most of them could rightfully have run away at that point after all of the pictures and script reading, they were all great to talk to. Kevin Garnett talked about how winning championships is addictive, and he has a craving for another one. When I asked him about mentoring Darius Miles, another high schooler-straight to the pros (remember the SI cover with both of them posing?), who didn’t fare so well, KG said that playing in a winning environment for the first time in his career could be a big help to Miles, and told me we shouldn’t be surprised when he delivers big things, hopefully filling that James Posey role for this year’s team.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share (without naming names) how the KG interview began. Kevin came over, all smiles, and shook my hand. He then went off on a hilarious rant (seriously, he was Chris Rock good today) about how the last reporter who had interviewed him had done him wrong by eating an “onion burger” before the interview. You know, the man has a point. In our rush to interview these athletes, do we ever take our personal hygiene into account? Can you imagine trying to answer questions from someone with chili breath? It ended with all of us joking that there should be breath mints, like when you leave a restaurant, in the media room. I would be lying if I said I didn’t start frantically searching my pockets for gum. No luck. Note to self: stick to crackers and soda water before all KG interviews.

Paul Pierce reported that he’s feeling great, which is good news. Rajon Rondo looked jacked… saying he had gained 7 pounds, but he’s clearly bulked up… Kendrick Perkins said he will take it easy in camp after undergoing shoulder surgery… he’s looking at the 3rd preseason game (in Manchester) as his on-court debut… Ray Allen told me that while winning a title and getting married in the offseason were great, it was the quiet time with his family that made this a special summer break… And just about all of the guys were united in saying they don’t care if their summers off are short, as long as they are winning titles in June.

Next stop: Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island for a week of practices. We’re going to make a couple of trips down, so check back for more reports.

–SI

Lester, Beckett & Daisuke
September 28, 2008

Those 3 will be the Red Sox starting pitchers in the first 3 games of the ALDS playoff series, but in what order? While a lot of people are lobbying for the order to be Beckett, Lester & Daisuke, not me.

With Lester going 11-1 at home this season, you pitch him game 1 so you can pitch him again in game 4 at home. Then you pitch Beckett in game 2 so you have him ready for a deciding game 5. Daisuke and his 18-3 record wil fit nicely in game 3 at Fenway where his only loss this year was todays meaningless game against the Yankees where he pitched good enough to win but got no support.

The official decision should come in the next 24 hours-hope they read my blog.
-MD

Lowell’s health not good
September 27, 2008

Mike Lowell’s return to the Red Sox line-up tonight was not encouraging at all in fact it ended up being very discouraging as he had one at bat and didn’t even make it halfway down to 1st before heading to the dugout. Lowell hit a fly ball to left field and struggled as he ran out of the batters box. This is NOT good for Red Sox fans.

At this stage I would be surprised if Lowell is even active for the 1st playoff series against the Angels, who tonight clinched the League’s best record (with Tampa’s loss). The Red Sox would love to be able to just take a chance that Lowell will get better as the series progresses, but they can not take a chance to have one less player on their roster.

The 2nd biggest decision the Red Sox have to make after whether to put Lowell on the playoff roster is who will play 1st base now that Youkilis looks like he will be moving from 1st to 3rd. Sean Casey did not look good at 1st base the other night opening the door for Mark Kotsay. Kotsay has not played alot of 1st base, but appears to be a pretty good athlete.

AS far as tonight’s game against the yankees- it’s 13-4 NY in the top of the 5th as the game has resumed. One more inning will make this game official and the loss will officially give Tampa the AL East crown- bring on the Angels.
-MD

Angels In The Outfield
September 26, 2008

Our friends in California are telling us that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ahem) are leaning toward picking “series A” in the Division Series should they finish with the best record.

That means, should the Red Sox wind up as the Wild Card, the playoff schedule would break down like this:

Wednesday 10/1 @ LAA
Friday 10/3 @ LAA
Sunday 10/5 @ BOS
Monday 10/6 @ BOS (if nec)
Wednesday 10/8 @ LAA (if nec)

All games will be on TBS.

What this means is that neither team will need a 4th starter (good news for the Red Sox, no Byrd or Wakefield needed… no big deal for the Angels, who run 5 deep with Garland and Weaver on the back end).

It also means that each team’s top bullpen guys can go every day with some semblance of rest. Good news for the Angels, who have new save king Francisco Rodriguez finishing games, and a solid crew in front of him… better news for the Red Sox, who have found getting to Jonathan Papelbon to be a challenge most nights.

All this adds up to me being a bit surprised the Angels didn’t pick the Thursday start, which plays to their strengths (deeper rotation and bullpen) and the Red Sox weaknesses (short rotation and questionable middle relief).

Celtics Individual Game Tickets On Sale
September 24, 2008

Here is the official press release:

BOSTON – Individual game tickets for each Celtics home game will go on sale Friday, September 26 at 10 a.m. Fans will be able to purchase tickets online at Celtics.com, by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX, or by visiting the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet. Due to overwhelming demand, fans are strongly encouraged to order early to increase their chances of securing tickets. Random number distribution will begin at approximately 9 a.m. at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office for fans choosing to purchase at that location.

For the second consecutive season, the Celtics have capped season ticket sales on loge and balcony levels and have now started a waiting list for fans desiring to purchase season tickets.

While loge and balcony season tickets are sold out, fans still have other ticketing options. Currently, a limited amount of Premium Club Seats, Suites and new 10 game memberships in “The Lofts” are available; giving fans a prime view of the court along with all-inclusive food and beverage amenities. Fans and companies interested in Premium Seating options including luxury suite nights for individual games may call 617-854-8018 for pricing and availability.

In addition, a limited amount of group tickets for 20 or more people are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling 866-4CELTIX.

In an effort to allow fair purchase for fans during the first day of sale, a four (4) ticket limit per person, per game, will be in effect for all Celtics home games. There will also be a three (3) game maximum per person. Ticket prices for Celtics home games start at just $10 in the Rite-Aid Pharmacy Family Section and there will be a two (2) ticket limit on $10 seats for all games during the first month of sales both online and at the Box Office.

Certified checks, money orders, cash and credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover) are acceptable forms of payment for tickets sold at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

Regular TD Banknorth Garden Box Office hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Tickets can also be purchased at any time on the Celtics website at Celtics.com or over the phone at 1-800-4NBA-TIX.

J D Drew back in line-up
September 24, 2008

In a very surprising move, Red Rox manager Tery Francona is inserting J D Drew back into the lineup for the 1st time in a month and a half.
On Monday Drew had an epideral for the 2nd time in a few weeks and this time it appears to have worked relaxing the spasms Drew has been suffering.
Drew took batting practice yesterday and looked very good. His return to the Red Sox line-up is a major boost for the playoffs which start next wednesday or thursday
MD

They’re In!
September 24, 2008

A brief, but wild celebration tonight for the Red Sox, who clinched the AL Wild Card (they still have an outside chance at winning the AL East, but its not looking good) with a 5-4 win over Cleveland. The defending world champions busted out the champagne and beer in the clubhouse before coming out onto the field and sharing the party with the fans. Click on over to the main page for dozens of slideshows, including shots from my first champagne bath.

–SI