- Created on 31 October 2013
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell holds up the championship trophy after Game 6 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to win the series. (AP Photo / Chris Carlson)
BOSTON (AP) -- More than an hour after the final out, players lingered on the field and fans stood by their seats, cheering, singing and applauding.
A celebration nearly a century in the making was unfolding at the old ballpark, a long-awaited moment generations of New Englanders had never been able to witness.
Turmoil to triumph. Worst to first. A clincher at Fenway Park.
David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox, baseball's bearded wonders, capped their remarkable turnaround by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to win their third World Series championship in 10 seasons.
When it was over, Ortiz took a microphone on the field and addressed the city, just as he did a week after the marathon bombings last April.
"This is for you, Boston. You guys deserve it," the Series MVP said. "We've been through a lot this year and this is for all of you and all those families who struggled."
And the Red Sox didn't even have to fly the trophy home. For the first time since Babe Ruth's team back in 1918, Boston won the title at Fenway. The 101-year-old stadium, oldest in the majors, was jammed with 38,447 singing, shouting fans anticipating a party that had been building for more than nine decades.
"Maybe they won't have to go another 95 years," said John Farrell, a champion in his first season as Boston's manager.
Shane Victorino, symbolic of these resilient Sox, returned from a stiff back and got Boston rolling with a three-run double off the Green Monster against rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Pumped with emotion, Victorino pounded his chest with both fists three times.
John Lackey became the first pitcher to start and win a Series clincher for two different teams, allowing one run over 6 2-3 innings 11 years after his Game 7 victory as an Angels rookie in 2002.
With fans roaring on every pitch and cameras flashing, Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out. The Japanese pitcher jumped into the arms of catcher David Ross while Red Sox players rushed from the dugout and bullpen as the Boston theme "Dirty Water" played on the public-address system.
There wasn't the "Cowboy Up!" comeback charm of "The Idiots" from 2004, who swept St. Louis to end an 86-year title drought. There wasn't that cool efficiency of the 2007 team that swept Colorado.
This time, they were Boston Strong - playing for a city shaken by tragedy.
"I don't think we put Boston on our back. I think we jumped on their back," Jonny Gomes said. "They wouldn't let us quit."
After a late-season collapse in 2011, the embarrassing revelations of a fried chicken-and-beer clubhouse culture that contributed to the ouster of manager Terry Francona, and the daily tumult of Bobby Valentine's one-year flop, these Red Sox grew on fans.
Just like the long whiskers on the players' faces, starting with Gomes' scruffy spring training beard.
"As soon as we went to Fort Myers, the movie's already been written," Gomes said. "All we had to do was press play, and this is what happened."
The only player remaining from the 2004 champs, Ortiz had himself a Ruthian World Series. He batted .688 (11 for 16) with two homers, six RBIs and eight walks - including four in the finale - for a .760 on-base percentage in 25 plate appearances, the second-highest in Series history.
"We have a lot of players with heart. We probably don't have the talent that we had in '07 and '04, but we have guys that are capable (of staying) focused and do the little things," Ortiz said.
Even slumping Stephen Drew delivered a big hit in Game 6, sending Wacha's first pitch of the fourth into the right-center bullpen for a 4-0 lead. By the time the inning was over, RBI singles by Mike Napoli and Victorino had made it 6-0, and the Red Sox were on their way.
"Hey, I missed two games. It's time to shine," Victorino said.
All over New England, from Connecticut's Housatonic River up to the Aroostook in Maine, Boston's eighth championship can be remembered for the beard-yanking bonding.
Fans bid up the average ticket price to over $1,000 on the resale market and some prime locations went for more than $10,000 each. Nearly all the Red Sox rooters stood in place for 30 minutes after the final out to view the presentation of the trophy and MVP award. A few thousand remained when a beaming Ortiz came back on the field with his son 75 minutes after the final out.
"It's so electric in here," Napoli said.
The win capped an emotional season for the Red Sox, one heavy with the memory of the events that unfolded on Patriots Day, when three people were killed and more than 260 wounded in bombing attacks at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox wore "Boston Strong" logos on their left sleeves, erected a large emblem on the Green Monster and moved the logo into the center-field grass as a constant reminder.
"It's hard for me to put sports over a tragedy like that," Lackey said, "but hopefully people that were affected by it can forget about it for a few hours at least."
Red, white and blue fireworks fired over the ballpark as Commissioner Bud Selig presented the World Series trophy to Red Sox owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, leaving a haze over the field.
"When the fireworks went off at the presentation of the trophy out there, when the ballpark was filled with smoke, it was completely surreal," Farrell said. "To be in this position, given where we've come from, reflecting back a year ago at this time, there's been a lot that's happened in 13 months."
Among the players blamed for the indifferent culture at the end of the Francona years, Lackey took the mound two days shy of the second anniversary of his elbow surgery and got his first Series win since the 2002 clincher. He pitched shutout ball until Carlos Beltran's RBI single in the seventh.
St. Louis had been seeking its second title in three seasons, but the Cardinals sputtered after arriving in Boston late Tuesday following a seven-hour flight delay caused by mechanical problems. Symbolic of the team's struggles, reliever Trevor Rosenthal tripped while throwing a pitch to Ortiz in the eighth, balking Dustin Pedroia to second.
"They were some frustrated guys in there, but overall you can't ask us to go about any better than how our guys did," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Not too many people expected us to do what we did."
Boston was a 30-1 underdog to win the World Series last winter, but joined the 1991 Minnesota Twins as the only teams to win titles one season after finishing in last place. Now, the Red Sox will raise another championship flag before their home opener next season April 4 against Milwaukee.
Gomes was looking forward to Saturday's parade.
"It's time," he said, "to queue the duck boats."
NOTES: Boston also won the Series at Fenway Park in 1912. The Red Sox won the first World Series in 1903 at the Huntington Avenue Grounds and in 1916 at Braves Field. ... Ortiz's Game 5 bat is going to the Hall of Fame along with Uehara's Series spikes, Ross' Series jacket and Farrell's Game 6 jacket. Gomes' Game 4 home-run bat arrived in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Wednesday.
- Created on 30 October 2013
This Aug. 4, 2012 file photo shows new football helmets that were given to a group of youth football players from the Akron Parents Pee Wee Football League, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not just a risk in football.
No one knows how often the youngest athletes suffer concussions, and it's not clear whether better headgear is going to be the answer.
A new report reveals big gaps in what is known about the risk of concussion in youth sports, especially for athletes who suit up before high school.
It's time to create a national system to track sports-related concussions and start answering those questions, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council concluded Wednesday.
Despite a decade of increasing awareness of the seriousness of concussions, the panel found that young athletes still face a "culture of resistance" to reporting the injury and staying on the sidelines until healed.
"Concussion is an injury that needs to be taken seriously. If an athlete has a torn ACL on the field, you don't expect him to tape it up and play," said IOM committee chairman Dr. Robert Graham, who directs the Aligning Forces for Quality national program office at George Washington University.
"We're moving in the right direction," Graham added.
But the panel found evidence, including testimony from a player accused by teammates of wimping out, that athletic programs' attention to concussions varies.
Reports of sports concussions are on the rise, amid increasing scrutiny in recent years and headlines about former professional players who suffered long-term impairment after repeated blows.
New guidelines make clear that no matter the athlete's age, anyone suspected of having a concussion needs to be taken out of play immediately and not allowed back until cleared by a medical professional.
Although millions of U.S. children and teenagers play either school or community sports, it's not clear exactly how many suffer concussions, in part because many go undiagnosed.
But Wednesday's report said among people 19 and younger, 250,000 reported treatment for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in 2009, up from 150,000 in 2001.
Rates vary by sport.
For male athletes in high school and college, concussion rates are highest for football, ice hockey, lacrosse and wrestling. For females, soccer, lacrosse and basketball head the list. Women's ice hockey has one of the highest reported concussion rates at the college level.
College and high school sports injuries are tracked fairly well, but there's no similar data to know how often younger children get concussions, whether on school teams or community leagues, the IOM panel said.
Could safety gear prevent kids' concussions?
Some equipment ads make that claim. But there's little scientific evidence that current sports helmet designs or other gear, such as face masks or headbands for soccer, really reduce the risk, the panel cautioned.
Still, it stressed that youngsters should wear helmets and other sport-appropriate safety gear, because they guard against other injuries, including skull fractures and face injuries.
"Parents deserve to know how safe their children's safety equipment really is," said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who is pushing legislation to curb false advertising and encourage improvements to sports equipment standards. "While we can't reduce every risk, we should do everything we can to stop misleading advertising that gives parents a false sense of security."
- Created on 30 October 2013
In his most candid interview since being suspended from the University of Notre Dame for the Fall 2013 semester, Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson sat down with Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated to open up about his "poor academic judgement" and his future with the program.
Golson, then a redshirt freshman, led the Irish to an undefeated regular season in 2012 before losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game. He finished the year with 2,703 total yards and 18 total touchdowns.
In May, it was announced that he had been suspended from the university for the Fall 2013 semester and that he wouldn't be eligible to play football this year. At the time, Golson gave the following statement, according to ESPN.com:
have been informed by the University of Notre Dame that due to my poor academic judgment that I have been suspended from the University for the 2013 Fall Term. I take full responsibility for my poor choices and will do all that is asked of me to regain the trust of my family, friends, teammates, coaches and the entire Notre Dame community.
Golson danced around getting too specific in his conversation with Staples, but he did reveal that his academic discretion had to do with an exam, as opposed to a paper or project, and that he exhibited poor judgement.
Later, after talking about how hard it's been to watch Notre Dame play without him this season—something he says has conjured mixed emotions—Golson explained that he's spent the fall working with QB guru George Whitfield, who has helped him alter some throwing mechanics.
Staples then asked why Golson opted not to pursue a junior college transfer (which would have allowed him to play this year) or leave for another FBS university, to which the quarterback responded:
My heart was set on going back to Notre Dame. Not necessarily to prove [anything] to anybody—just doing it for me. I felt like that's something that I started, and I didn't want to run away from...I was gonna face it.
Golson said he plans on returning to school as a "more polished individual," and that he's focused on improving in the classroom as well as on the football field.
The Irish are 6-2 this season with Tommy Rees playing quarterback, and they just squeaked in at No. 25 in the Week 10 BCS rankings.
- Created on 30 October 2013
After blocking a shot by Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose (1), Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) falls to the court during the second half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Heat won 107-95. (AP Photo / J Pat Carter)
MIAMI (AP) -- They got their rings before the game, then a challenge as it was winding down.
The Miami Heat responded to both.
Shane Battier went 4 for 4 from 3-point range, including a critical shot from the right corner with 1:33 remaining, and the Heat wasted most of what had been a 25-point lead before holding off Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls 107-95 Tuesday night in the season-opener for both teams.
"You never know what to expect when you're trying to keep the main thing the main thing, and that's the game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But you can't deny the emotions and what a special moment it was for everybody in the organization because we know how difficult that was and how harrowing that was last season. So it was great to actually get the win after that to cap off a very good night for the Miami Heat."
LeBron James had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Miami, which got its 2013 NBA championship rings and raised the franchise's third banner in a pregame ceremony. The Heat trailed 9-2 early, then outscored Chicago 52-24 over the remainder of the first half.
Rose finished with 12 points in 34 minutes in his first regular-season game since a serious knee injury in April 2012. Carlos Boozer had 31 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which got within eight points in the final minutes.
But Battier's right-corner 3 - a staple for the Heat - snuffed out the comeback, and Miami wasn't in trouble again.
"We're not trying to pull close. There were a lot of corrections that we have to make," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It always comes back to the same thing - our defense and our rebounding. And if we could have taken better care of the ball early on, we would have been in position to win down the stretch."
Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Battier finished with 14 and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each had 13 for Miami, which had seven players score in double figures. Ray Allen and Norris Cole each scored 11 for Miami.
Rose shot 4 for 15 for the Bulls.
"I think we had a lot to do with it," Allen said.
Said Rose: "If anything, I'm disappointed in the loss. My performance, I can easily change that by making shots and keep down the turnovers."
By halftime, Miami was rolling, up 54-33 - putting the game on pace for a 108-66 final, which would have exactly matched the score of the game in 2006 when Chicago came into Miami and spoiled the Heat franchise's first ring night.
Not this time, though the Bulls made it plenty interesting down the stretch.
A layup by Jimmy Butler with 5:34 left got the Bulls within 15, and after he missed the ensuing free throw, the rebound made its way to Kirk Hinrich - who made a 3-pointer that cut Miami's lead to 91-79.
Hinrich fouled out on the ensuing Miami possession. Wade scored seconds later, the Heat followed that with a stop, and James simply overpowered Luol Deng in the post on the next trip to restore the 16-point lead.
But again, the Bulls weren't done, cutting the lead to 95-87 on a drive by Boozer with 2:47 left. They would get no closer, and James raved about Miami's balance.
"It's a team game," James said. "That's what this team is put together for."
Rose's start was promising early, with two drives for impressive scores. The Bulls led 15-10 when Rose checked out for the first time with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.
When he returned, the lead was gone for good. The Heat outscored the Bulls 13-3 in Rose's first stint on the bench, turning a five-point lead into a five-point deficit, and by then the Heat were off and running.
Over a 4-minute stretch of the second quarter, everything changed.
Rose's surgically repaired knee might be fine, but in the basketball vernacular, Cole broke the ankles of the 2011 NBA MVP - starting a run that turned what was a tight game into a romp. Cole faked out Rose on the dribble, causing the Bulls' star to tumble, and the Heat reserve connected on an 18-foot jumper that sent the Miami bench leaping from its seats.
"There was a lot of emotions going on," Cole said.
That began the 17-0 run. The Bulls missed nine straight shots, Rose getting blocked by Bosh on one, and the Heat went to work. Miami shot 7 for 10 during the burst, which was capped with a driving layup by James with 4:23 left, and suddenly the Heat led 41-20.
It was a runaway, and became a grind-it-out win.
NOTES: Going back to last season's Eastern Conference semifinals, Miami has won five straight games over the Bulls. ... James is 31 points shy of 25,000 for his career, including regular-season and playoff games. He would be the 28th player in NBA history to reach that milestone.