On Fox25 Sports Sunday Butch Stearns led off with Celtics and Bruins highlights. Rob Nikoleski reported from the Fleetcenter after another drubbing of the Celtics by the Spurs. Eric Williams getting tossed early was discussed. Playoff positioning for the Celtics was discussed and then for the Bruins, who also lost today. Going into the break Stearns wondered why the new stadium isn’t inducing free agents to sign with the Patriots. After the break, there was a look at the Red Sox today, beating the Blue Jays, which lead into a look at Pedro Martinez, who is a different player this spring than he was last year. Last year was encouraging to Pedro, and he’s healthy coming into this year, he has peace of mind, he can already use all his pitches without fear. He also understands the significance and responsibility of being the ace of the staff. Every time he steps on the mind he knows he has to lead by his example.
With March Madness right around the corner, Stearns looked at some NCAA tourney hopefuls in New England in Holy Cross, BU and Northeastern. That was followed by a look at Troy Bell’s last regular season home game yesterday. Levan Reid talked with Bell about the day. UConn coach Jim Calhoun giving him a hug as he came out and telling him he was one of the best players he’s ever coached against was a thrill. Winning the Big East tourney his sophomore year was another highlight. He can’t even begin to list who he’s going to miss the most there at BC. The coaching staff that gave him a chance to play, his great teammates. As for the next level, he’s always been the guy that people didn’t think could make it, so he’s sure it’s going to work out fine.
Stearns’ Last Blast was against the Patriots for not making any sort of splash in the Free Agent market. He lists all the misses. He blasts them especially for not bringing in David Boston for a look. He also mentioned the Bills giving Takeo Spikes the big contract and (paraphrasing) “because he was the transition player, the Bills have to give the Bengals their first round pick, a small price to pay for a tackling machine.” (Once again – the Transition tag simply means the team can match any offer its player gets, if it chooses not to match an offer it does not receive any compensation. First Borges, now Stearns making this error.)
Sports Xtra with Gene Lavanchy had the highlights of the day, along with the current playoff positioning of the Bruins and the Celtics, followed by Red Sox highlights and a look a Pedro. He came into camp demanded the option get picked up, claiming if the Red Sox did not do so, then they didn’t trust him, and he would move on when his contract was finished here. the Red Sox owners have a predicament facing them, but are hoping for an amicable agreement. After his performance this week, he seems healthy and very confident. The Red Sox owners have three weeks now to show that they trust him. College Hoops and other sports highlights followed.
The next segment had Kevin Paul Dupont in studio to talk hockey. Lyndon Byers was supposed to be there as well, but forgot. Lavanchy asked if this is the worst defensive hockey team that Dupont has seen…ever. Dupont agreed that it is a mess, there is more to this then just being tired, this is a real mess. He questions some of the defensive pairings, can’t understand Girard and Berard being put together. Will they pursue a defenseman at the trade deadline? Not a whole lot out there. But if there is someone out there of value, the Bruins may be force to give up Jeff Jillson for him. Jillson isn’t ready to help out right now, but has promise for the future. As for Ftorek, he’s still in the spotlight here, there may yet be a change, whether they fire him for bring in someone to work with the defense. Of course, Ftorek didn’t dump the starting goalie and best defenseman. If Ftorek is canned, Dupont feels O’Connell will take over. Lavanchy mentioned that Ftorek doesn’t make adjustments, management likely looks at this as an issue as well. With the talent here, the coach needs to be able to improvise at times. As for the players, Dupont doesn’t feel that this team has quit, they’ve had lose confidence, they’re confused at times, which is an indictment of the coach as well. Do they make the playoffs? Dupont feels they do, at the 7th or 8th slot. Dupont feels Ftorek would need to get to the Conference finals to save his job.
A look at NHL referee Paul Stewart was next, he will be the first American ref to work 1000 games this Saturday. A former player, he was an enforcer and a protector of Robbie Ftorek at one time in his career. He has a relationship with many of the players, Hal Gill joked that during games Stewart tells him how to play defense, and he tells him how to ref. His battle with cancer a few years ago left him with new appreciation, and his life has come full circle. The last segment was a comic look at possible PA candidates for the Red Sox, using movie clips from Ferris Bueller, the Waterboy, Airplane, and others.
Sports Final was hosted by Steve Burton and Dan Roche. Burton had an interview with Antoine Walker from after the game today who is positive heading into the stretch drive. Walker talked about Baker, great guy, considers a friend, he can come back and play, Walker feels he and Pierce need to make Baker more comfortable when he comes back…Pierce is hurting really bad, sometimes he can’t really even move well at all. Tough situation because they need him so they can make a push for playoff positioning, but they want him healthy for the playoffs too. They need both of the them, too much for one guy to handle. Home court is so important, the fans were incredible last year, stretch drive has big games. Hopes the fans are taking to him, he wants to be here for his whole career, thinks ownership will do a great job and loves playing for coach O’Brien. Roche and Burton talked about Walker’s maturity. Burton says Walker does not get enough credit in this town. Roche says they need another piece or two. Thought Baker or Rogers were it, but neither have been the answer. Next up were the Red Sox and Shea Hillenbrand, Gordon Edes was on via satellite, he thinks the portrayal of Hillenbrand as disgruntled or an unhappy camper is inaccurate. they talked some about the depth of the team, and where people are going to play. Edes says many feel having so many players isn’t a problem, but an asset. Edes doesn’t think Hillenbrand will be traded unless a team blows them away with an offer. Especially with how well he’s been hitting this spring. As for Pedro, Edes was blown away that Lou Piniella told him that the Mariners conceded games to Pedro. Were beaten before they even took the field. They moved onto talking about the Wells/Clemens situation in Yankee camp. Edes says Steinbrenner is in a tough spot because Wells is his boy, and after coming down so hard on Jeter and his night life, what can he say about Wells claiming to have been drunk while pitching his perfect game?
Next segment was the sad story of Joe Exter, the Merrimack goalie severely injured in a HockeyEast tournament game on Friday night. Bill Burt joined the panel, and gave an update, Exter has fluctuated between serious and critical condition, there has been a lot of swelling, he is still unconscious, never having regained consciousness since the hit. We should know more tomorrow, as the first 72 hours are the most critical, and usually the swelling goes down after that. But his condition has not really changed all that much. Burt says Exter is a league MVP candidate on a 7-13-4 squad. He’s kept them in games this year. Off the ice, he is the leader of the team, he proclaimed they would be a good team this year when all experts picked them for last. When he was hit, his helmet flew off, and then he hit his head off the ice twice. The coach has made sure to tell the guy who made the hit that it is not his fault, not to feel bad about this, but there is a lot of bad blood between these clubs.
The next segment was about a Worcester company that promises that deep freezing, cryogenically, golf clubs, can help a person’s gold game. they go to 300 hundred degree below zero and bring them back to room temperature. It changes the chemical makeup of the metal, and improves performance, namely distance, accuracy, less shock and bigger sweet spot. They don’t put them into liquid, that would chemically shock the metal, the temperature is brought down gradually using gas. He showed some golf balls that were treated as well, these are not legal for competitive play, but those who have used them say they go further and with better accuracy.