#DigSportsDesk - The Lede
Saturday's Alright in Boston
Notes & Quotes on DBChampionship
Tee-Off Day at DBChampionship
Notes and Quotes on the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship:
By TERRY LYONS
Red Sox Win Castillo Sweepstakes
The Red Sox signed Castillo to a seven-year deal worth $72.5 million. According to ESPN.com, he will earn $100,000 for the rest of this season; a base salary of $10.5 million in 2015-17; $11 million in 2018-19; and $13.5 million in 2020. He also gets a $5.4 million signing bonus.
The $72.5 million terms are a record number for a free-agent amateur, according to multiple media reports.
"This is a dream come true," said Castillo when he met with a packed media room at Fenway Park late Saturday afternoon, noting the recent success of fellow Cuban players in Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreau and new teammate Yoenis Cespedes who was recent;y acquired from the Oakland A's in a trade deadline blockbuster for former Boston ace Jon Lester.
"He's going through the final stages of a full exam here," manager John Farrell said. "There's still a number of administrative things that he's got to go through -- work visa, all that type of things. As far as a timeline, that'll be determined a little bit later."
The club hopes to get Castillo some at-bats with one of their minor league affiliates before he joins the big league club this season.
"I did get a chance to sit with him and talk with him this morning," Farrell said. "He's excited to be here. Glad the process has moved along to this point and excited to get started when that day comes. There's still some things he's got to work through."
Farrell said Castillo's body type reminds him of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, another Cuban star.
"He's obviously a very strong-looking athlete. Maybe a little bit shorter version of (Puig)" Farrell said. "You get a similar proportion to that type of body. What that means performance-wise, we'll see. We're confident in the athleticism and the overall strength."
Cherington said that the club's primary concerns will be to file for a work visa for Castillo, then have him work in Ft Myers on a program that will hopefully move him to game action before the end of the 2014 season. Cherington noted that, depending on the schedule for Red Sox minor league teams, Castillo might get work in the minors before playing at the MLB level.
Both the AAA Pawtucket PawSox and AA Portland Sea Dogs play regular season games through Sept. 1 but post season playoff schedules are yet to be determined.
When the Game Stands Tall
By TERRY LYONS (Special to Digital Sports Desk)
During these past few lazy days of summer, there's been a lot going on in the New England sports scene. The New England Patriots are firing up their preseason engines with coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady leading the way. The Boston Bruins and Celtics are scouring the earth for some added scoring, as each approach the 2014-15 season on opposite ends of the projected ladder. Over on Yawkey Way, Ben Cherington, the GM of the Boston Red Sox orchestrated a midseason coup, trading pitching ace Jon Lester and a slew of role-playing World Champions for some hope and home runs as a strategic first step in the re-engineering of the BoSox. One of Cherington's bosses, Tom Werner, is on the short list for consideration as Major League Baseball's new Commissioner. And, speaking of Commissioners, over in the western portion of the Commonwealth, the Basketball Hall of Fame is staging its annual tribute and the inductee of honor is former NBA Commissioner David Stern.
With all of that going on, I thought it was time to step back, maybe escape a bit from the reality that I won't be watching late October baseball at Fenway. So, with that in mind, there was one reliable ole' friend I could reach out to, in order to set my mind on a clear path from the Mass Pike of the depressing local sporting news, so I could look toward the future.
My inside source to all things sports - historical and soon-to-be imagined - provided some fan-friendly perspective as a real New Englander, one with appreciation of the past and the ability to see the future. Fittingly, like Stern, he was someone who had the credentials of a Commissioner but, they were mixed with the passion of a sports fan.
I needed to speak with Michael Chiklis, the actor.
Chiklis was born in Lowell, Mass, and gained wide notoriety as an actor when, from 1991-96, he played Tony Scali - 'The Commish.' Since that career-breaking role, he went on to star in "The Shield," and even played Curly in "The Three Stooges.” More recently, Chiklis starred in "The Fantastic Four" and he is currently filing FXs "American Horror Story: The Freak" in New Orleans. However, it was Chiklis' previous casting that was the more appropriate subject of discussion when we spoke by phone this past weekend, catching up as though we were old friends sitting in my West Village studio watching his "Commish" reruns, but talking about his soon-to-be-released film role, the portrayal of Terry Eidson an assistant coach to Bob Ladouceur in the true story of (Concord, California’s) De La Salle High School's 151-game winning streak, the backdrop for “When The Game Stands Tall,” a SONY Pictures release, hitting theatres nationwide on August 22.
First, Chiklis was sure to set the record straight when I brazenly asked if he continued to have ample time to follow sports, and in particular, Boston sports while he was so busy with life as a famous actor and jaunts between New Orleans and Los Angeles.
"I still am, and will always be, -- until my last breath -- an avid Boston sports fan," said Chiklis with an emphasis that might've been taught in drama class by Kurt Douglas. "I think one of the single greatest things about my celebrity is that it’s gained me access to my beloved Boston teams."
Where you at Fenway last fall, I asked?
"I was there. I was at Game 6. My wife and I went with my dear friend and his wife. We were there for the celebration, and we ended up going to the owner’s box after the game and had the greatest time in the world. It’s been wonderful. And, one of the most special things was that I lived out a "Jimmy Fallon moment" (noting the motion picture, Fever Pitch) when Curt Schilling brought me out onto the field right after we won in ’07 in Colorado. I was right on the field right after the win. To be that close in proximity to those guys, right there. I was standing there, literally, right with Mike Lowell’s brother while they gave him the MVP trophy on the field, I mean that’s incredibly special, it was insane. You’re right there, it’s historic stuff that’s happening, and you’re privy to it."
Chiklis then opined on the sport of football, being that the role of assistant coach Eidson was fresh in his mind. What is it about football, anything with the Patriots that made you particularly insightful to your role in the movie?
"Look," Chilkis said. "I’ve always grown up with the mentality that I’d rather be a good player on a championship team than the "franchise" player on a lousy team. When you see the way Coach B (his nickname for Belichick) coaches the team and the way he picks players, he’s never been about stars. One of the goose-bump moments of my life as a Patriots fan was in 2001 at the Superbowl when they introduced the (St. Louis Rams) 'Greatest Show on Turf' player by player. And then, after all of that fanfare, they went 'introducing the New England Patriots.' and they came out just as the Pats team. Every hair on my body stood up and I thought, 'we are winning this game.' Something about being a New Englander, we love the idea of a team, as opposed to the individual.
"We don’t like blow hards much."
"It’s about the way we’re raised, I guess," he continued. "In New England, if you get too far ahead of yourself, you’re going to get brought down to earth really quickly. When I was growing up, it was really instilled in me that it’s just a better experience in life to be yourself and not be a narcissist, but rather to be a part of a community. And our teams are like that. You look right and left of you and you feel that bond between the people. It’s an incredibly special thing, and you’ll get a feel for it in this movie, When The Game Stands Tall. You’ll see that camaraderie, that brotherhood that happens on a team. And you can see that in real life with the Patriots and Belichick when he speaks to the players coming into this team he says, 'You want to succeed? You want a ring on your finger? Then, you’re gonna plug into this system, we’ll all pull our weight, we’ll all do this together.'"
Chiklis was quick to put two-and-two together.
"Of course, superstars have emerged (in the New England Patriots' system) due to their level of commitment and play," said the actor. "Tom Brady couldn’t be a better example of a guy who’s all class, who never would say disparaging words about another player. But, it’s not about the other guy. It’s about his personal execution as it relates to the guys right and left of him and his commitment to them as a team. He knows that they can be relied upon. These guys can rely upon each other. They have each other’s backs. And that’s the kind of thing that makes your chest swell when you’re watching this movie. You can see that in the context of the picture.
"When you’re watching movies like 'Remember the Titans' or 'Rudy' or 'Miracle,' you’re always threatened by that fine line between 'too corny' and something that doesn’t make a mark. But, what I love about this movie is that it's not about the cliché version of 'two seconds left on the clock and he scores and the game’s over and we win.' The film we're so proud of doesn’t take it from that place. The De La Salle high school football team won 151 games in a row in twelve years which for anybody who knows sports, that’s ridiculous. It just doesn’t happen.
"There’s a reason why their formula was successful and they kept winning," noted Chiklis. "Sure they want to win their games, but the onus and the focus wasn't on winning games. It’s on making these boys into young men. They are conscionable, responsible, credible human beings and you rely upon them.
"I’m very passionate about the movie, I’m a supporting player in this movie, When the Game Stands Tall, but I love what it says."
You will too.
USA Basketball Moving Forward After Crisis
“This phase of the selection process was extremely difficult and very thorough, and it’s worth again mentioning that we are looking to select the best team, which are not necessarily the best players," said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball general manager.
Previous gold medal winners and perennial MVP candidates such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant declined to play for Team USA. Kevin Love, the All-Star power forward in trade talks that could send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Minnesota Timberwolves, left the team just before Las Vegas training camp began. Paul George, an MVP candidate last season who suffered a severe leg injury last Friday in a team scrimmage, is also not playing in the World Cup games.
George suffered a leg injury backpedaling on defense when his leg buckled in the ankle area. Some suggested the stanchion was too close to the court, but Colangelo tried to dispel that argument.
"The NBA All-Star Game was played on that court with those stanchions. The NBA Summer League is played there," Colangelo said Tuesday in a conference call. "The stanchion is not the issue here. Some people want to make it an issue, but it's not."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he had planned to play George significant minutes. Without the 6-foot-8 small forward and one of the team's top defenders, Team USA is likely to get smaller.
Krzyzewski has gone that route before, playing Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook at shooting guard with Chicago Bulls' guard Derrick Rose at the point. Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard could also work into that mix of starters with Kevin Durant becoming the "4" in a smaller lineup.
"We have to look at how we will do the perimeter, and it means that some of the guys who play the two will have to play the three. We will be a little smaller without Paul," Krzyzewski said Tuesday.
Colangelo said USA Basketball is not concerned the George injury will create "a shortage of players that want to play."
One option that isn't in play is Love, even though he could be traded to the Cavaliers or another team by Aug. 24, one week before the prelim round begins.
"Chances are ... that won't happen," Colangelo said.
Still, Love did not "disqualify himself" by leaving the team before training camp, Colangelo said. Team USA would need to weigh a "fairness factor" in deciding whether to allow Love to play after not participating in camp.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge also withdrew from Team USA.
NBA International Intrigue
Pack to Honor Favre
The Green Bay Packers will announce Monday that they will induct the quarterback in the team Hall of Fame and retire his No. 4 jersey, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported Sunday.
According to the newspaper, the Hall of Fame induction will occur in 2015, and the uniform-retirement ceremony also will happen in a future year, not 2014.
Brass from the team as well as the Packers Hall of Fame will make the announcement formally in a Monday media event at Lambeau Field. Favre is expected to participate via phone.
The honors seemingly were delayed because of friction between Favre and the team (and the team's fan base) after he concluded his career away from Green Bay.
Favre started an NFL-record 297 consecutive games, 253 of them with the Packers from 1992-2007. He spent 2008 with the New York Jets before playing two years for the Packers' rival, the Minnesota Vikings.
An 11-time Pro Bowl performer, Favre holds the NFL records for pass attempts, 10,169; pass completions, 6,30; passing yards, 71,838; and touchdown passes, 508. He also is the record holder for the most times sacked (525) and the most fumbles (166).
Favre began his career with four games (two starts) for the Atlanta Falcons, who made him a second-round draft pick in 1991.
Pacers Paul George Breaks Leg in Freak Injury
LAS VEGAS, August 2, 2014 -- Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George underwent surgery late Friday night after suffering a broken tibia and fibula during Team USA's showcase game Friday night on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. George was sprinting down court early in the fourth quarter to defend a layup attempt by Houston's James Harden when he landed awkwardly on his right leg, causing his leg to buckle and snap above his ankle. Reports said he suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula. Surgery was expected to last until early Saturday morning. Doctors were expected to place a pin in his leg.
After his successful surgery to repair the break, George is expected to remain in a Las Vegas hospital for two to three days. His recovery time before he can return to playing basketball is estimated to be at least 12 months.
Just after midnight, George tweeted: Thanks everybody for the love and support.. I'll be ok and be back better than ever!!! Love y'all!!
As medical personnel attended to George, players including Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose and fans inside the Thomas & Mack Center, were visibly upset. George's parents, who were in the arena, rushed to their son's side. A sobbing Kyrie Irving was consoled by his father. Harden appeared to be in shock. Saturday was supposed to be a cut-down day for Team USA as the 20-player pool was expected to be reduced to 14 or 15 players, but those plans are on hold after George's injury.
"Everything's on hold, and it should be," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else when there is an injury like this."
Players from around the league reacted with shock and many, including LeBron James, said they would say a prayer for George.
Praying for @Paul_George24 for not only the player he is but the person he is. Injuries are thee toughest part of sports, James tweeted.
Fellow USA teammate Harden, who George was trying to guard when he was injured, tweeted: Prayers go out to @Paul_George24 and his family! Keep ya head up G!
Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant also took to Twitter and tweeted, God bless u my brother @Paul_George24. Im hurt, praying for you. Praying for peace. Praying that God heals you in a supernatural way.
George, 24, is a two-time All-Star who averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season for the Pacers. Friday's game was canceled after George was treated on the court in front of a stunned and silenced crowd before being removed on a stretcher.
"There's no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances," Colangelo said. "Our first concern, our primary concern is Paul George. I want to reach out to the Indiana Pacers organization ... this is a tough blow not only for USA Basketball but the Indiana Pacers."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Friday night.
"It was difficult to watch the injury that Paul George sustained tonight while representing his country. The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the NBA are with Paul and his family."
Krzyzewski, who witnessed a similar horrific injury when Duke was playing Louisville in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and Cardinals guard Kevin Ware suffered a compound fracture of his leg, said the team's prayers and thoughts were with George and his family.
Colangelo said the injury is a very "tough blow" and a first for USA Basketball.
BOSTON, July 31, 2014 -- Boston Red Sox left-handed ace Jon Lester was traded to the Oakland A's Thursday morning as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane continues his all-in push for a World Series and Boston's hierarchy continues to dismantle the surprise winners of the 2013 World Series.
For Beane to acquire Lester, the A's part with All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a 28-year-old who served as the big bat in the middle of Oakland's balanced offense. Minus Cespedes, the A's might be required to make another move to bolster the offense. Lester gives Oakland a nearly unrivaled one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Beane acquired ace right-hander Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs and the rotation also includes Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, who could be frontline starters on other teams. The trade will send Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to the A's. Lester is ticketed for free agency at the end of the season, as is Samardzija. The A's approach of building from within was tossed out of the window with two blockbuster trades in the past 26 days.
Lester, 30, is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 149 strikeouts against 32 walks in 143 innings this season. He was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday in anticipation of a possible trade after the two sides publicly discussed calling off contract negotiations until the offseason. Boston will be short on starting pitching, especially lefties, and the club's 2015 projected depth chart shapes up as a mystery.
Lester was having a career year in his contract season. The St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers were known bidders for Lester. Lester said last week he would consider returning to Boston if he was traded away, but the Red Sox have not shown an interest in paying what is market value for their home-grown ace. Lester reportedly turned down a four-year contract worth more than $17 million per season in spring training.
The Red Sox will have Cespedes under contract for $10.5 million in 2015, the final year of his current deal. In his third major league season, Cespedes is batting .256 with 17 home runs and 67 RBI, and is a strong defensive outfielder. Plate discipline -- his on-base percentage was below .300 last season -- has been the biggest knock on Cespedes.
Gomes, 33, is hitting .234 with six home runs. He played for the Athletics in 2012, hitting .262 with 18 homers in 99 games.
The deal could signal a full-blown sell-off for the Red Sox, who traded right-handed starter Jake Peavy to the Giants last week and would be willing to move John Lackey's contract before Thursday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. Jason Hammel, also acquired in the deal with the Cubs, is having a tough go in the American League and could be moved if the A's aren't confident in their outfield depth. Beane's approach has almost always been anchored by the belief that pitching wins, dating to the high-profile starting rotation that included Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.
Baseball Hall of Fame Cuts Eligibility Window
That means players including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa will have less time to remain on Hall of Fame ballots.
The Hall of Fame is also installing a new balloting and registration process for Baseball Writers' Association of America voting members.
"The Board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant," Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. "We believe the BBWAA has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame -- player's record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity -- to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority. The Board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward."
The changes are effective immediately and will reflected voting in 2015. It is the first time since 1991 and second since 1985 that the Hall is implementing new voting rules.
The names of BBWAA members casting ballots will be made public with the election results. However, an individual's ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame. Voters must also complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct.
Three players with 11 to 15 years are still on ballots and will remain eligible: Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th) and Lee Smith (13th).
You Deserve a Break Today?
The NBA is using a week-long All-Star break as its model while it completes the schedule for this season.
However, the league may decide to continue its traditional four-day break before officially releasing the schedule.
One of the parameters of the week-long All-Star break is that each team would have to take on at least one additional back-to-back set of games.
Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James is among several players who have lobbied for a longer break. Silver told assembled media at the league's last All-Star game in February that he met with James and others to discuss the issue.
"One of the issues LeBron raised is a break during All-Star (Weekend)," Silver said. "(For) a guy like LeBron, All-Star Weekend is not a break for him in any way. He's going around the clock with a combination of things the league is asking him to do, personal commitments, and I think it makes sense if we can work in the schedule a few days so the All-Stars can get a break as well."
Silver also said that such a change in the schedule would require negotiating with the NBA players union.