Sports


The Boston Celtics!

Last night the Boston Celtics did something that they hadn’t done in about 20 years. They won their 60th basketball game, with a 92-77 win over the catatonic Pacers! It is a gross understatement to say that this has been a turnaround season — last year they Celt’s went a dismal 24-68, displaced at the bottom of the standings only by Memphis at 22-60. But this year’s team has made new believers our of many disenchanted Celtics past true believers!

How did this almost miraculous turnaround happen? Well, the key reason is acquisition of some talented, professional players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, among many others. Garnett and Allen have signaled that the Celtic management has tired of “wandering in the pro basketball desert”. As a result, management spent a few bucks to revitalize a team on the brink of eternal mediocrity. In Garnett, Allen, Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Sam Cassell and, of course veteran/captain Paul Pierce, the Celts field an immensely talented team. And this extends fully up and down the roster with guys like Scalabrine, Posey, Pollard, Brown, House and Pruitt…they have all contributed to this success.

I like the nose-to-the-grindstone attitude of this Celtics team. They are talented, but they’re not cocky and they don’t portray themselves as thugs or spoiled-brat, bling-laden individuals. They seem like a team whose players genuinely like each other and have committed themselves, top to bottom, to hard work.

And let’s not leave coach Doc Rivers’ steady leadership out of the equation. He suffered through some horrible years with a hodgepodge of talented and mediocre players, but he never experienced a coming together of talent and hard work in his team like he has this year. It’s great to see him finally get the satisfaction and recognition that he deserves.

I haven’t closely followed much Celtic’s basketball since the “Big Three” era. But I do tune in to the games and I follow the personalities. I haven’t seen much in the way of team talent, but rather random groupings of sometimes talented individuals. My hope is that the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics represent the start of a new legacy. A legacy based on hard work, professionalism and talent. They rightfully join the NE Patriots and the Boston Red Sox in this regard.

For the first time in many, many years I’m actually looking forward to the NBA playoffs! Go get ‘em Green!

Tasty crow!

I admit it. I made a huge mistake!

I pushed the Panic Button last week when I thought the Red Sox were going to blow their division lead and let the Yankees overtake them. Now, with the cushion of a weeks games being played…including the successful ALDS win by the Sox over the shell-shocked Angels…I watch the Yankees down 6-3 to the Indians in the 8th inning of Game 4 of their ALDS series…I realize the error of my misplaced tap of that button!

So, in an effort to appease the sports gods, I hereby eat some well earned crow!! I can’t promise that I won’t paw at the button again. But I surely won’t announce my intentions to the whole world (again) if I decide to do so!!!

GO SOX!!!

The story of the Buffalo Bills’ tight end Kevin Everett’s amazing recovery from a seemingly horrible injury is probably one of the best that has come down the road in a long time. Kevin was injured on September 9th, 2007 during a game against the Denver Broncos while attempting make a routine tackle. He had to be carried off the field, with no apparent feeling or motion in his extremities. Doctors later determined that his spinal cord was damaged in the area of his neck. And shortly after the game, based on their first examinations, the doctors were quite grim and downbeat about his chances to ever walk again. They were even fearful for his life, based on the gravity of the injury that he suffered. Based on the initial reports of his injury, I along with many others, I’m sure, prayed for him.

It is a mere three weeks since his injury, and a much more positive and hopeful prognosis awaits Kevin. Because of his doctor’s expertise in the area of spinal cord injuries (particularly of the type that Kevin suffered), he was given a new, non-traditional treatment in an all out effort to save his future mobility and quality of life. In a nutshell, he was subjected to a machine which lowers the body temperature in an effort to reduce or stop the damage that inevitably occurs to a person with a normal body temperature. Although experimental, and with few human studies to support its effectiveness, this cooling technique was applied to Kevin with his and his family’s assent. It may have been as much desperation and a willingness to try anything, but it was a thin ray of hope to Kevin in an otherwise grim situation, based on the success of the many animal trials using this technique to date.

In a story that I read today, the “confident” doctors expect Ken Everett to walk from the rehabilitation hospital/clinic where he was transferred today. This could happen “…in the next days or weeks, not months.”

What has happen to Kevin Everett since his catastrophic injury is so cool on so many levels. And miraculous! He has endured great personal pain and anguish, and he will never play football again, but the treatment afforded him will allow him to make so many more choices as to what he can do with the remainder of his life. It will be interesting to see how he progresses and what he eventually choses to do. Wanna bet that it’s connected with football in general and with the Buffalo Bills in particular?? I, for one, hope so!

Red Sox Panic Button!

OKAY. Uncle, uncle. It’s time to push the panic button!! Red Sox Nation must go to high alert after this week’s dreadful performance by the soon to be in 2nd place Boston Red Sox.

The hell you say, Tony? Second place?? You’re now thinking, with a puzzled look and furrowed brow “Certainly you’re a TRAITOR to RSN, and must be excoriated for your fickle attitude! You’re a fair weather fan!!” Well, the squad of nine are folding like a beach chair right before our eyes. Apparently a 10+ game lead wasn’t enough money in the bank for “Terry the Brain” and his faithful band of merry men. But just look at them, they’ve lost something since the first of September. It’s almost like they’ve forgotten that baseball is a participatory sport — they stand in the batters box, mesmerized by the ersatz Cy Youngs who face them on a nightly basis, and take strike-after-strike without so much as an effort-filled swing. It’s not only frustrating to watch, it’s sad.

Now, I don’t place the blame, if you can call what’s happened over the past month or so blame, on the individual players. Players will have slumps and peaks in their performance over time. But I do see a lack of management at the core of the problems encountered by the Sox. This isn’t a “this year’s” problem, either. It has happened consistently even through the World Series year of 2004. The management issue is the lack of attention to detail. The penchant to use the criteria of pitch count and day’s rest of pitchers as the be all-end all measurements of pitcher performance. Surely these are things to watch, but there has to be managerial judgment in the equation. When you pull a pitcher who has reached his performance groove in a particular game just for pitch count reasons, for a reliever with a known performance problem — it’s painfully obvious to the millions of viewers throughout New England that “Houston, we have a problem”. Sure, the managerial situation is far more complicated, but when I see the occasional dugout shots of Tito rocking back and forth like “Rain Man” while watching another game tank, it doesn’t fill me with much confidence that he can put the train back on the tracks.

The true test of management is not only what is done in the best of times, like when the team has a 10 game lead in the standings, but also in the worst of times — like after they’ve lost three games to the Blue Jays and two out of three to the Yankees. It will be interesting to see how Tito Francona handles this adversity. I don’t hold out much hope based on how he handled many “win-able” games earlier in the season. It appeared he just let them get away because they weren’t so important. Just how many games can you come back and win after being down 7-0 in the first inning? The answer is not many, yet that’s what happened probably 15 or 20 times over the course of the season. There are no throw-away games, Terry! And experimentation with ineffectual pitching staff just won’t cut it, either. Sorry Eric Gagne! And you can’t let personalities take precedence over winning — maybe a good shakeup will put some life back into the lineup. Sorry Manny!

Forty years ago we had the “Impossible Dream”. This year I fear we’re living through the “Most Probable Nightmare”. Hold onto your seats, it’s going to be a long, bumpy ride until the end. It will be interesting — and what’s frustrating is that it didn’t have to be this way. The way this Sox season has progressed reminds of an old Chinese curse: “May your life be filled with interesting times.” Sure, competition is part of life and you can’t control how well your competition performs. But you can control what you’re doing! And thereby make your situation less “interesting”.

So, for God’s sake Terry…enough of the rocking already! It’s time to take charge and lead the club, not watch in horror as things go to crap right before your eyes. It’s not too late, but at this point there is NO margin for error. I think I speak for all of RSN when I say that I enjoy a thriller and a nail biter, but only in a darkened theater, and certainly not every night. I’ll hope for the best, but I’ll keep my trusty Panic Button real close from now until season’s end.

Go…Sox…Tap…Tap…Tap…