White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NBA Black Book 2009

Ty Lawson
Dejuan Blair
Chase Budinger
Earl Clark

Sterling-I want to be on record saying I hated this draft.
Ricky Rubio- Yes I know he isn't coming to the states this year, but I also want to be on record as saying that Rubio will be a transcendant player, the Pistol Pete of this generation. Whenever he comes into the league.
Gerald Henderson Jr.
Dajuan Blair
Toney Douglas

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm all Healed Up.

It hit me last night. A wave of good feeling that the Red Sox haven't given me since about April. It was the sight of Tom Brady throwing the football on the field of Lincoln Financial Stadium. He was back in uniform for the first time "The Hit", and suddenly I could move on from Super Bowl 42. I know what you're thinking, this is either just a stale column idea or this guy is really overreacting, but hear me out.

When last season started, it was too soon. I had never invested more in a football season than I did in 2007. I looked forward to each game like it was a tropical vacation and watched each game like it was a playoff game. The '07 Patriots were so much fun to watch, with their "F*ck you touch downs" and offense that rolled over everybody all season. For a 5 week period between the last regular season game against the Giants and the Super Bowl, Football reached it's pinnacle of greatness for me. As big a baseball fan and more specifically a Red Sox fan, the Patriots jumped up to that Red Sox level during that time. And remember, while this was all happening in January of 2008, the Red Sox were only 2 monthes removed from winning a World Series. My buddy Sam summed up the feeling of the Boston sports fan's embarassment of riches by saying "We won a World Series last sunday and next sunday we get another big game to watch". Because really isn't that what it's all about to be a sports fan, don't you just want an important game to watch? That's the thing that would make being a Pittsburgh Pirates or a Kansas City Royals fan so hard, it's just that they don't have many games where everybody is thinking about that one game.

The loss of the perfect season in Super Bowl 42 was tough, really tough. It felt like the entire ride of absolute dominance was all for nothing. The offensive records set by Brady and Moss seemed insignificant, the perfect regular season didn't have the same ring as "Perfect Season". I had spent so much time reading about football and thinking about football during January of '08, that when it ended in a unfulfilling way, I felt stranded. A very small part of me wanted the next season to start right after the Pro Bowl and for the Patriots to go out and prove that the Super Bowl was a fluke and that they really could capture the "Perfect Season". Most of me however, didn't want to hear anything about football at all. I avoided it at the gym, I refused to watch Sports Center except when I was forced to at the restaurant I was producing a radio show in had it on three large plasmas. That night after work, my buddies Twan and Zach with whom I made my Pilgrimage to Foxborough with for the Sunday night game against the Eagles, met up and drowned our sorrows with wings and beer and talked about what exactly had happened the night before and tried to come up with reasons to go on. Some how I felt better, sitting there with wing sauce staining my fingers and beer on my breath, I knew the Patriots would be back the next year.
But was I ready for them? That was the question during the summer that I couldn't answer. In late July when the Fantasy Football magazines hit the shelves I didn't even want to look at them. When training camp started and Sports Center had reports from them I would change the channel. I just wasn't ready for some football. I tried to force myself to jump back into it for the season opener telling myself that a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. (Meaning that if the Patriots were to get back to the Super Bowl, we'd have to take it one week at a time.) When the unthinkable happened, I didn't react like I thought I would to something of that magnitude, first off I went into denial. I just refused to believe that Tom Brady was going to miss the season, it couldn't happen. I followed the season anyway and there were some memorable moments, by this time I was working in Augusta on the State Senate Campaigns and I watched most of the games at our office with the guys. It just wasn't the same vibe though. It was my first year out of college and football in college is an event every week. After a big Saturday night there is nothing better than going to brunch at noon, rushing back to set up your fantasy football team and watching the games all day in gym shorts and sweatshirts. It was very different living outside of that envirnment and thus harder to get into the season. When they had a chance to beat the Colts and didn't, it didn't have the sting that it would have had in the past. The highlight of the season was listening to Randy Moss's last second catch against the Jets to send the Thursday night game into overtime in my truck with my buddy Sam. They would lose that game and that was kind of the theme of the season. There was still the swagger of the Patriots and they could pretty much play with anybody (except Pittsburgh which did hurt) but they just didn't have Brady to get them over the hump. When they missed the playoffs it some how felt appropriate some how. The football gods were saying "You've had a great run, now it's time for the other shoe to drop. Think you're making the playoffs with the back up QB? Not a chance, but we'll make it close."
Then last week it happened. I was at Wal-Mart after being offered a great new job and I saw the rack of 2009 Fantasy Football mags. I started thumbing through them and picked one up and since then I've systematically studied the guide. It seems like so much has happened in the last year and a half since the Super Bowl in the desert. (A quick side note. After my freshmen year of college I worked at an all boys sports summer camp in Winthrop, Maine. One of the kids in my bunk, and one that I got along with pretty well, his father was the architect for the Arizona Cardinals new stadium. Was it destiny that the Patriots would win a Super Bowl there? Of course not, his dad has been a Giants Season ticket holder since about 1960. I knew we were doomed.)
The other day talking to my buddy Zach on the phone we hit a quick pause in the conversation after we had covered the Red Sox and Rick Pitino (we swapped Blue Chips quotes and some how made "Don't trap 4 and 5. Only trap 1, 2 and 3. Don't worry about the big guy, he's not going to handle it", dirty.) We both blurted out "I'm getting excited about football" and with that I knew I was finally ready for some football. But when I saw Tom Brady throw a deep ball to Randy Moss, guarded by former Patriot Asante Samuel, without a word saying "You left us and now you gotta pay". I knew the Patriots were back and so am I.

Sterling Pingree

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Memories you can't forget.

I know I haven't posted here in a while, but I just turned on my tv to the 1999 Home Run Derby at Fenway, and as I watch Jeromy Burnitz hit in the first round it has given me inspiration.

When Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games this season I was shocked. He's The Natural, the goofy guy that has all the talent in the world and wouldn't know what a steroid was if his life depended on it. How could he test positive? The more I thought about it the more frustrated I became. Manny has been my favorite player for years, I stuck with him even after he was traded to the Dodgers, enduring the ridicule of Sox fans.

Then I had a realization. What would I do if I had the chance to be great in the sport I loved as a youth, basketball? If I made the NBA and found something that could give me an advantage would I do it? As a sports reporter and anchor, if there was something I could take to make my highlights better, my writing witty, my questions deeper? And I found myself answering that yes I would, and in fact probably had at some point or another.

If that's the case, how can I judge baseball players for using steroids? The fact is we are all hypocrites if we do. 99% of us, if given the opportunity, would take something if we knew it would help us. Hell, we cheered them on as they hit homer after homer out of parks, McGwire and Sosa were glorified perhaps more than any other players in an individual season. They gave us what we wanted. Manny and David provided us with not just one but two World Series championships. Am I just supposed to forget those? The seasons Manny had, the goofy plays, the mammoth shots to give the Sox a win.

I can't, or more importantly, I won't. For better or worse, those memories are a part of me, just like Rex Chapman's miracle shot from the corner that convinced me I needed to practice 3 pointers falling out of bounds.

Players have always used whatever they can to improve their performance, whether it be different bats, "greenies" or steroids. As a society we are taught to do just that; perform at the highest level you can, oftentimes regardless of how you get to that point. To fault these players, to "taint" them, for what they have done, is wrong.

As I watch Mark McGwire hit shots over the green monster while Sammy Sosa watches a smile comes to my face, just like it did when I watched it live. It's just another memory I can't forget, and maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.

~Aaron Jackson

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How am I a Baseball Fan?

The best that I can tell, you start remembering stuff when you're about 5 years old. I have an exceptional memory, so I remember a few things from when I was just a bit younger: like the time Timmy walked out of the bathroom at preschool with his pants down, which is an unfortunate thing to remember. I was born in 1985, so the first things about sports that I remember are Super Bowl XXVI and the Braves- Blue Jays World Series. I remember staying up as late as I could to watch the 1993 World Series and then taping them when I went to bed and refusing to go to school until I saw the ending the next morning. I vividly remember watching those tapes and just as I was about to pop in the tape of game 6, I saw Sports Center first and Joe Carter's legendary home run.
Things were going good for me as a baseball fan, I loved watching it, I had friends that played too and even though Wade Boggs left the Red Sox I had developed a connection to Mo Vaughn. Then it happened, the Strike of '94. Coming off a terrific post season that saw the underrated NLCS between the Braves and Phillies and then the dramatic and also underrated World Series between Philadelphia and Toronto the canceling of the World Series was the worst possible thing that could happen to me when I was 8. I didn't understand what the labor dispute was all about or what the need for replacement players was, but I knew that I wasn't going to have the playoffs or the World Series.
Bill Simmons has said that there is a year in your life when sports means way too much and for me that year was 1995. I had been into the Patriots and Celtics, but the 1995 Red Sox were an everyday thing for me. Mo Vaughn entered idol status and Tim Wakefield was the trusty pitcher who seemed to never lose. (I had heard Clemens was good, but remember 1993 to 1995, I hadn't really seen why he was so good. Wakefield on the other hand started the season 14-1. Who knew 14 years later Wakefield would be an All-Star for the Red Sox.) I remember where I was when the Red Sox traded our phenom pitcher (Frankie Rodriguez) for Rick Aguilera, the final piece of the puzzle. My best friend Zach and I were at my camp and had heard about it while listening to the game. It was a big moment, we thought that this was all we needed. I also remember Zach trying to teach me how to properly say Aguilera, I don't think either of us ever got it right, but we thought we did. An American League East title and Mo Vaughn winning the MVP and we had reason again to be the biggest 8 year old baseball fans you'll ever see. Little did we know the pandoras box we were about to get into.
Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa supposedly brought baseball back to it's heights after the Strike of '94. They were everywhere all the time, you couldn't escape them if you tried. It was a great summer for Zach and I, Sox made the postseason again, this time armed with Mo, Nomar and Pedro and we even saw them win a playoff game, something that had not happened since 1986 (Zach was 1 and I was 10 monthes old). Then the other shoe dropped. McGuire was dirty, Sosa was dirty and the claimet to all the home run crowns, Barry Bonds, was dirty. Remember Roger Clemens? He was dirty too. Yet somehow in the wake of all of that, we persevered as baseball fans. Transfering our love of baseball into a love of the Red Sox, a much bigger thing. While the names of Giambi, Sheffield and Bonds were being torn down by somehting called Balco, we were busy following the first Red Sox world championship since 1918. None of our guys were being caught, so we didn't care, we followed the team and the team finally won. 9 years after we reached our peak, we reached the mountain top again ('04) and again ('07).
That's what made today so hard, David Ortiz, the most beloved Sox player of all-time (think about it and you really can't argue this) was tested positive for PED's in 2003. It hit Red Sox nation like the Ice Storm of 1998, the only difference was that knocked out phone lines and today my phone recieved 35 text messages in the 2 hours after the news broke and none of it had to do with the Red Sox afternoon game. The question that kept running through my head as I tried to process the news was, "How I am a Baseball fan?" I mean look at what has happened in baseball during my lifetime. It started with the World Series being canceled and then 3 years later we entered the steroid era. Maybe that's why now at the age of 23, I find myself looking at highlights and video's from the 1993, 1995 and 1997 World Series. Now everytime you fall in love with a team like the 2004 Red Sox, or a player like David Ortiz, something is happening where their name is being dragged through the mud. It's like everytime you date a woman, she sleeps with the town giggalo. It hurts everytime, you try to move on, but you always think about the giggalo when you think about her. Everytime I see David Ortiz or think back to the best parts of the 2004 and 2007 World Series teams, I'm going to remember that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were not on the up and up. Hell, going back to the beginning of this piece, even Mo Vaughn was named in the Mitchell Report. Though I sooth myself by saying he only did it for a week at the end of his run with the Mets and never during the glory days of my childhood.
I am a baseball fan because I watched the 1993 World Series and found out how great the postseason can be and how the memories can remind you of good times. Once you feel that, you just can't turn your back on it. I remember watching the Phillies take the lead in the 1993 NLCS at my friend Jason's house, I remember seeing Zach the next day at school after the Red Sox clinched the AL East and saw Mo Vaughn ride a police horse. (That's right, Mo started that in 1995, no Wade Boggs in 1996. Sorry Wade, you had your chance and you went to New York.) I remember listening to 10 years of Red Sox play off games starting in 1999 at Fryeburg Fair and hearing game winning home runs in 2003, 2007 and 2008. The older I get the more these memories mean to me and the more I remember things that happened to me because of baseball. So to answer my question, I'm a baseball fan, because I don't know how not to be.

Sterling Pingree

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Business is about to pick up

That's right, when things are weird with the Red Sox, as they are right now, Good Ole JR sums it up best. The Red Sox have lost 4 straight games, matching their longest such streak of the season and to top it all off the team made two trades. The first acquiring Adam Laroche for two minor leaguers who were destined to be trade chips.
The second the Red Sox, in the most inexplicable Cardinals move since the Cubs traded them Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio in 1964, the Cardinals decided to give Chris Duncan and a player to be named later for Julio Lugo and cash considerations. Cash considerations in this case should be called "Every dime of his contract because who would be dumb enough to trade for $9 million of Lugo".
If you're doing the math at home, that means the Red Sox as they stand right now before making roster adjustments to make room for Duncan and Laroche, have Youk, Laroche, Duncan and Kotsay at first base. Their outfield is a log jam as well with Drew, Ellsbury, Bay, Baldelli, Kotsay (technically he is an outfielder) and Duncan. Something's gotta give, but what is it?

My gut reaction when I heard about the Laroche trade was that somebody was hurt already. People were calling it "The Lowell Insurance Policy", (Just pennies a day, you too can get quality term life insurance) which is might be, but I just couldn't imagine Adam Laroche being the guy that you'd want to lean on if something happened to Mike Lowell. Scott Rolen yes, Adam Laroche no.
This could mean a lot of things, it could mean that Kotsay gets released, it could mean Duncan just became the biggest bat for the Pawtucket Red Sox. That seems like the most likely right now, but something big is going to happen. Theo even said as much and he never tips his hand in terms of trades that he wants to make. He said that they are still going to go after a "impact player" before the waiver period. Could this be Victor Martinez?
It doesn't seem so right now, seeing that the Red Sox have turned down a trade offer from Mark Shapiro, GM of the Indians that would send Clay Buchholz to Cleveland for Martinez. What this says to me though is that the Indians are looking to deal him and that they are talking to the Red Sox about him. Imagine if you will for a moment if the Red Sox could swing a deal trading less than Clay Buchholz for Victor Martinez? You get your catcher of the future and your impact bat of right now. An intriguing name to me is Cliff Lee, I'm not really sure why, but I'm very intrigued by the guy who won the Cy Young award last year. Rumor is that he could be bound for Milwaukee, though why would Cleveland trade the previous year's Cy winner to the Brewers?
They did exactly that last year?
Oh, well I guess Kevin Garnett was correct, anything is possible.

Sterling Pingree