(Your guest blogger today is T.J. Donegan. For comments, criticisms, irrational hatred/love, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Good morning, sports fans. Sorry for the delay this morning, Vista decided it hated the internet. Always great when you go to the most expensive school in the country and their only response to “your wireless network doesn’t work with any laptop made in the last year” is “wow. That must really stink, huh?” Shoot me.
First of all I’d me remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic end to
Early April March Madness last night, with Kansas (upsetting? can you upset as a the “lower” one seed?) jetting past Memphis 75-68 in overtime after a great final three pointer to tie it in regulation. Memphis missed three free throws in the waning moments of the game and the sorry refrain that their shooting from the line would be their downfall actually came true in the end, even if it was uncharacteristically great FT shooting that actually got them to the final.
In the Boston sports scene, Daisuke Matsuzaka will take the mound as the Red Sox have their home opener after their ridiculously long opening road trip has now come to a close, seven (official) games and thousands of miles later.
Dan Shaughnessy has the players happy to finally get home and move in, with some updates on the changes to the park since last year. Gordon Edes talks about the World Series rings that will be handed out this afternoon before the game. Amalie Benjamin talks about the early struggles for both teams, both in last place, with the Tigers sputtering to an 0-6 start. Call me an optimist, but somehow I think the game might still draw a crowd.
Sarah M. Gantz went and talked with some of the more intrepid of you folks who camped out for those opening day tickets. David Abel looks at the tradition of having an F-16 flyover during the national anthem at the beginning of the season.
Tony Massarotti looks at the group of young players that makes up a large portion of this club and talks about their role on the team. Michael Silverman talks about the Red Sox bridging the generation gap that many big league clubs deal with as young players transition in and older players pass on their knowledge of the game. Massarotti also talks about Francona and his ability to relate and deal with both younger and older players alike. Everyone’s favorite radio host, Gerry Calahan, tosses blame around for this whole foolish 19-day roadtrip business and the poor start to the season. I agree with Calahan, but why he insists on blaming the players, too, for agreeing to go to Tokyo is beyond me. Yes, they agreed to go to Tokyo, but not when they knew they’d have to endure the gauntlet that’s been the last three weeks (not to mention the next three weeks).
Jeff Horrigan has Tito saying the roadtrip can’t be used as an excuse for a poor start to the season, that you have to deal with what you deal with. Awesome, Francona. Steve Buckley looks deeper at the Red Sox Youth Movement and its architect, Theo Epstein. Massarotti says this will be a banner day at Fenway, quite literally, and urges all of us to soak in the moment.
Joe McDonald has Francona urging his players soak up the atmosphere and enjoy themselves today, knowing they earned a celebration. Paul Kenyon talks about Timlin’s rehab start for the PawSox. Jeff Goldberg got some of the reaction from the players coming into the clubhouse (and seeing some of the changes) after the long trip. Paul Doyle has a great piece on a little boy from Uncasville embracing the Sox to get a little respite from the challenges of living with a genetic disorder that is robbing him of his eyesight at just seven years old.
Lenny Megliola has a nice column about today’s opening ceremonies. His basic message: let’s get on with business and remember how spoiled we really are to follow this team compared to, say, 86 years ago. Tom Caron has his column about opening day as well, saying the ring ceremony should give this team a little swagger, if not a reliable set-up reliever. The Patriot Ledger is live blogging opening day, today, check in here to keep up with the action throughout the afternoon. Mike Fine also throws in his $0.02 about the road trip from hell.
Howard Ulman from the AP also visited the clubhouse to get the player’s take on returning home, saying after some sleep in their own beds, they should be just fine. Red Sox Monster has a nice interview with Mike Lowell. Garry Brown also talks about the Sox Opener and how nice it feels for baseball to be back in Fenway. Dan Lamothe’s Red Sox Monster blog says he’s ready for baseball normalcy to return to Boston.
Joe Haggerty says today is all about turning the page and moving on to focus on this season, putting a nice end to the great run of last fall. Haggerty also talks about Dice-K coming up big, with three starts in the first eight games, to keep the Sox together while Beckett’s back healed. Jon Couture says he can barely remember the last time the Red Sox were home between spring training, the Japan trip, the return to spring training, and Toronto. Jennifer Toland has Ellsbury, the kid, rolling out of bed around noon, still not sure what time it is while the Red Sox prepare to open up the home park.
Amalie Benjamin’s notebook has Colon missing at least his next start with a strained right oblique. Horrigan’s notebook also has some details on the 2005 AL Cy Young winner’s strained side. The Boston.com Extra Bases blog has some helpful information for those of you going to the game today. Boston.com also ran an AP roundup of the games from yesterday and where the teams stand. The Herald’s Clubhouse Insider has the line from Timlin’s first of two Pawtucket appearances last night. Art Matone at the Projo Soxblog says baseball doesn’t really start in Boston until it, well, starts in Boston.
That’ll have to do for your opening day links. I’ll try and get back this afternoon with more updates from around the country but for your Celtics and Bruins links I’ll shoot you on over to Celtics Links and Bruins Links for your morning dose. There’s a lot of good stuff today, especially with Bergeron being cleared for contact (not ready to play yet, though) so be sure to check it out.
Enjoy the festivities and have a good one.