Carl Beane, known to baseball fans as "the voice of Fenway Park," died Wednesday in a single-vehicle crash after suffering a heart attack in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, according to a statement from the Boston Red Sox.
The day begins with a count of the necessities for a joint operation with Afghan troops -- among them 85 halal MREs (Meals Ready To Eat). Around the tactical headquarters, soldiers of the 172nd Infantry get a taste of home before setting off into the wilder fringes of lawless Ghazni province.
Baseball's newest venue is officially open, and it's impossible to look at Marlins Park in Miami without thinking, That place looks like fun. The fish swimming in the backstop, the Jacques-Cousteau-meets-Timothy-Leary home run sculpture, the South Beach nightclub satellite behind the bullpen, the pop art installations scattered on the courses: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria isn't kidding when he says the ballpark he helped conceive and build "is meant to make you smile." Loria spent enough on free agents this winter to sound believable when he says he wants fans to focus on the game and the team. But, just in case your mind wanders, he made sure that baseball is not the only entertainment option at Marlins Park.
NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury's game-winning home run -- the one that may have resuscitated the Red Sox' season -- followed 13 innings of white-knuckle baseball that began with a faith-shaking three-run deficit in the first, which in turn was preceded by club's 18th loss of the month on Sunday afternoon.
It came as no surprise to anyone who is a baseball fan that last year on September 28 a flurry of articles marked the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' final game. Williams ended his career as few major leaguers do, with a home run in his final at bat.
No matter what happens on Thursday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox will come out of their series with the Yankees with a small lead for first place in the AL East with just under four weeks to play, setting the stage for what could be the greatest divisional race we've seen in nearly 20 years.
Professional sports teams are attempting at a furious rate to lure fans away from the comfort of their couches to live games. And sweet technological upgrades to their home venues become a bigger selling point every year.
This will be about Andre Dawson, the one player chosen this year by the Baseball Writers Association for the Hall of Fame, but there has to be a bit of set up first. I have this feeling that Dawson's induction this year -- and Jim Rice's induction last year and Jack Morris' climb up the charts -- has something to do with childhood and heroes.
BOSTON -- Three months ago, this Winter Classic matchup between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers was supposed to be a fight for first place in the Eastern Conference. Things, alas, don't always go as planned.
There's a sense that the NHL's Winter Classic outdoor game, which captures the attention of even non-hockey fans, is sure to move from novelty to boring, staid, or one-trick pony that's run its very limited course. It's mostly a media opinion and it's wrong -- so wrong, that to even put forth the argument is a fair indication that the Classic's critics have lost touch with their audience.
The NHL rarely gets it right. Professional hockey is a consensus Number Four (and we don't mean Bobby Orr 4) whenever we get around to ranking sports that grip the American mind. Like Ringo, hockey is always the caboose, rarely taken seriously and unable to compete with John, Paul and George.
BOSTON -- Those closest to Vladimir Guerrero call him Mula, a nickname that dates back to his childhood tending mules on the family farm in the Dominican Republic, but might as well refer to his legendary stubbornness. Legions of hitting coaches have tried to make him more selective at the plate and he has refused. Hordes of reporters have pestered him for interviews and he has declined. He might be baseball's most mysterious superstar, with the uncanny ability to hit pitches up at his eyes and down at his shoe-tops, but no inclination to explain how or why he does it.
1. Boston's offense looked anemic in Anaheim, but the truth is that the Red Sox have had a mediocre offense on the road all year. They hit only .257 away from home this season -- 27 points worse than they hit at Fenway Park -- and their slugging percentage was 80 points lower. They scored three runs or fewer on the road 33 times and were 4-29 in those games. They had a losing record (39-42) overall on the road.
Ziff isn't quite sure the term "road warrior" describes him properly. "It connotes hardship," he says. "I don't look at it that way. If I was going to the same office every day, that would be difficult."
While waiting to pitch for the first time this season, and the first time in his storied career for anyone other than the Atlanta Braves, time stood still for John Smoltz. He was done with his pregame warmup session early and all he could do now was wait. For the man who had already waited through more than a year of surgery, rehab and minor league tuneups to get back to this moment, the delay felt interminable. "Each minute seemed like 10 minutes," he would say later.
Because the Montreal Canadiens apparently haven't thanked fans profusely enough for their centennial season -- four games and out in the 2009 playoffs was barely what an earlier generation would have called a bread-and-butter note -- the 100th birthday party apparently will continue with an "indoor/outdoor" game in late November at Olympic Stadium.
The week that was saw the game's longest active playing streak end, the Reds win in a way they hadn't in over three decades and evidence that a ticket to Fenway Park is the hardest to come by in all of professional sports.
This weekend, when the Mets visit the Red Sox and the Yankees host the Phillies, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium will feature four teams with payrolls totaling $574 million. Allowing for inflation, this is as much as the 10 highest payrolls in baseball in 1997, the year of the first regular-season games between the National and American leagues.
When Jason Bay first found out Thursday that Manny Ramirez, the man whom he had replaced in left field at Fenway Park, had been suspended for failing a drug test, his first reaction was "I'm going to get a lot of questions about him and I don't even know him."
BOSTON -- It gets a little tiring for the Tampa Bay Rays, trying to prove themselves to everybody all the time. That's understandable, considering that for the first 10 years of their existence they proved nothing except that they couldn't prove anything.
The leather furniture was shoved neatly to the side. Huge sheets of plastic covered the couches and chairs and big screen TVs and everything else that needed covering. The cans of Budweiser were plentiful, the Brut icy cold, the music pumped to a volume that would make the surgeon general consider slapping warning labels on the whole ear-assaulting circus.
I awoke to an unexpected blanket of snow on Opening Day of the 1985 season. It was one of those Rockwell snowfalls, when winter in its last breaths hasn't the strength for anger any more. Boston glistened in the morning light, like a snowglobe on a windowsill. It was too pretty to last, of course, too fragile to hold back the changing of the seasons. Snowmelt would give way to baseball. It was as fresh a beginning as could possibly be imagined, especially for me, as I headed to Fenway Park for my first Opening Day as a baseball beat writer.
Every year around this time, the familiar wanderlust rises again. As if carried on a summer breeze, it floats in and wraps itself around us, pulling us toward the open road. The lucky ones among us give in to the urge and allow it to take us across the country, from stadium to stadium, ballgame to ballgame. The rest of us dream of the journey, promising ourselves that one of these days we'll get out there and discover America, one ballpark at a time.
Even with a World Series sweep in hand, the offseason has yet to begin at Fenway Park. There's still money to be made by the owners of the Boston Red Sox, and much of it has nothing to do with baseball.
1. It was obvious by the third inning of ALCS Game 6. The Fenway Park scoreboard spelled out the huge opportunity in front of Daisuke Matsuzaka: the Red Sox put up an inning-by-inning line score to that point -- 406 -- that is the area code of Opportunity. (Opportunity, Mont., that is.) It's your call, Daisuke.
1. A Massachusetts hospital has started the "Red Sox Babies" program. Each child born at the hospital receives free gear, including a Red Sox cap and a certificate good for a tour of Fenway Park when they reach 5 years old. It's assumed that the infants will develop the Red Sox fan's peculiar blend of insecurity and arrogance on their own.
"Fever Pitch," a fable that pits true love against baseball love, is one of the most ingratiating romantic comedies in quite some time, yet the fact that it was directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly almost works against it.