The Patriots wrap up a second week of organized team activities in Foxborough on Thursday -- but Tom Brady plans on throwing the football around on Friday, too. Joined by teammates, celebrities, other athletes, and more, the quarterback will be at Harvard Stadium for the annual Tom Brady Football Challenge.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m., with the program starting 15 minutes earlier, and tickets are free (though they must be reserved here beforehand). The flag football game is held in conjunction with the Best Buddies Challenge, which will follow a day later, but Brady announced last month that money raised Friday night will be donated to the One Fund Boston and victims of April's marathon bombing.
As for Saturday's Best Buddies Challenge, it benefits an organization Brady has been involved with for 12 years, and is the first of four 2013 events nationally. It features a 100-mile bike ride winding from the JFK Presidential Library to Hyannis Port, though riders can join in Carver for the final 50 miles, or in Sandwich for the final 20 miles. The bikers will be joined along the way by cycling legend George Hincapie, while there's also a 5k run/walk that takes place in Hyannis Port, and that will be led by Olympic icon Carl Lewis.
Brady, who is the event chair, will be among those waiting for everybody at the finish line -- where all participants will celebrate at a private beach-side party with gourmet food, an open bar, celebrity guests, and concert by Dennis DeYoung (of Styx).
More than 1,500 people are expected to participate -- registration is still open -- including some of those who will benefit from the money raised in support of Best Buddies International, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Last year's Hyannis Port event raised $3 million-$4 million, according to Brady, who would like to see that number climb this time around.
"Hopefully we can do more this year," he said in a recent appearance on WEEI. "Come on out, it's a great event, a lot of my teammates will be there and it's really the highlight of my offseason."
Thanks in part to a couple of former Red Sox players, Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo weren't the only heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings throwing ceremonial first pitches from major-league mounds on Tuesday night.
About a month after Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss visited Aaron Hern in his room at Boston's Children's Hospital, their new team, the Oakland Athletics, welcomed the 12-year-old to open the festivities before the A's took on the rival Giants at O.co Coliseum. It had been just 43 days since Hern was standing near the finish line to watch his mother in her first Boston race when an explosion sent bits of shrapnel into his legs, leaving a particularly deep wound in his left thigh and necessitating a sequence of surgeries -- but when his parents forgot his crutches Tuesday night, he walked strongly to the mound and tossed the baseball to his new friend, Moss.
"The hospital visit by the A's was a special thing," Alan Hern, Aaron's father, told the Silicon Valley Mercury News. "It was a very cool thing for them to do. Aaron really hit it off with Moss. They talked about how it would be nice to meet under different circumstances."
The April 22 visit was arranged by Oakland first base coach Tye Waller, who accompanied the players to the hospital after learning that the sixth-grade student from Martinez, Calif., was among those injured. Moss and Reddick didn't hesitate, both having visited the hospital before during their days with the Sox, and understanding the way meeting a big-leaguer can brighten a kid's day.
Among his other visitors while at Children's was First Lady Michelle Obama, and once he returned home to the Oakland area, the Golden State Warriors gave Hern, his family, and his 10-year-old sister courtside seats for their playoff clincher against the Nuggets. Then came Tuesday's honor at the Coliseum.
And now he continues the process of just getting to be a 12-year-old again.
"He's back in school. He was at a pool party the other day with his friends from junior high. He's got an iPod Touch, too, so he's texting like all his friends," Alan Hern told the Mercury News.
"But he still has bad days. And it's hard to predict when they might come or what might set them off. It might be a song he hears or an image. Sometimes it's nothing at all."
As they continue their support of defender Kevin Alston, who was recently diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, the Revolution have joined with The Midnight Riders in giving a chance for fans of the club to put their knowledge of the Revs, of sports, and of pop culture to good use.
Thursday night at The Banshee in Dorchester they'll host a trivia night where all proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Alston himself is expected to attend, along with a number of teammates including Matt Reis, Kelyn Rowe, and Stephen McCarthy, and they'll be competing in a contest that offers giveaways and a variety of prizes, including Revolution tickets and autographed memorabilia. The Rev Girls will be there, too.
"As soon as we heard about Kevin and his diagnosis, we came to the team to help however we could,” said Fran Harrington, president of the Midnight Riders, which is an independent group of Revolution supporters. “Our first idea was a trivia night, which coincidentally was what the team had in mind as well, so we decided to combine our efforts and throw one trivia night to raise some money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and show our boy Kevin support.”
The 21-plus event begins at 7:30 p.m., with tickets available for purchase here. And if you can't make that event, but still want to support Alston, the Revolution are expected to announce soon that June 8 -- when the team plays DC United -- will be Kevin Alston Bobblehead Night.
A year ago Friday, Rajon Rondo was readying for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia, a contest in which he would post a triple-double and dominate the deciding fourth quarter of a clinching Celtics victory.
A year later, this time far away from his team and Coach Doc, Rondo found himself sitting next to another Rivers. Joan Rivers. And they were talking fashion, naturally.
While the NBA playoffs raged elsewhere, Rondo joined the E! network's Fashion Police for a six-minute segment that began with Rivers asking the 6-foot-1 guard if basketball people refer to him as the "Gary Coleman of the NBA," because knowing nothing except that he was a hoops player she was expecting him to be more like 7-foot-9.
Rivers admitted beforehand that she'd never previously heard of Rondo, but their mutual love for fashion and trends helped facilitate an interview that an easygoing Rondo seemed to enjoy. It began not with an update on the player's recovery after tearing his ACL in late January, but rather with the folks from the network that makes sure we keep up with the Kardashians seizing the chance for some subtle cross-promotion when Rivers asked Rondo what he did to provoke a fight with Kim's ex-husband, the Nets' Kris Humphries, early last season. Rondo laughed at the cracks, but eventually brushed it aside -- "I don't have a problem with Kris Humphries" -- and the conversation moved on to the more pressing matters at hand.
They talked about Rondo's internship with GQ last summer, about his favorite designers, and about attending New York Fashion Week, which Rondo said he plans to do again soon. Then they talked about a particular piece of the point guard's wardrobe, and let their panel of fashion plates debate whether he should trash or stash one of his more controversial pieces of clothing.
The item in question was the jacket he wore to his press conference after the Celts lost Game 5 to the Hawks in 2012. In case you need a refresher:
Ultimately an audience vote decided that Rondo should get rid of the garment, and instead of shoot it into the trash barrel himself, he passed it off to co-host Giuliana Rancic and let her put it home. (Typical Rondo: always chasing assists and trying to pad his stats.)
The best comment of the discussion, though, came from Rivers -- no relation to Doc, by the way -- who looked at the jacket and added one of the Celtics' rivals to a hit list that included LaToya Jackson, Gary Busey, Julianne Moore, and several others over the course of the show.
"It's a little too old," she said. "It's mostly black, and not accomplishing anything. I'm surprised that it doesn't play for the Lakers."
Jared Sullinger -- the rookie forward who the Celtics surely could've used in the playoffs, had he not been down with a back injury -- joined ex-players Walter McCarthy and Dana Barros among a group celebrating the 22nd year of the team's Stay in School program with more than 1,500 middle school students at Northeastern's Matthews Arena.
Celtics President Rich Gotham was also in attendance, as were executives from presenting sponsor Arbella Insurance and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson, for an assembly that was the culmination of a year in which the initiative's efforts focused on instilling P.R.I.D.E. -- which stands for Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Decisions, and Education. It was a message they delivered six times throughout the course of the season, according to the team's website, which indicates the Celtics participated in at least 35 community events between October and their playoff exit earlier this month.
Sullinger (pictured with McCarty above) was an active participant in those off-court activities during his first year in Boston -- and on the court he's confident he'll be even more active in year two, despite the surgery that has sidelined him since February. He hopes to be 100 percent by September or October, around the time training camp opens.
“I’ve got 10 weeks to get back to where I was or even better,” he told the Globe's Baxter Holmes on Thursday.
“Everybody says ‘back’ with a question mark, [but] you might as well put an X through that,” Sullinger continued. “Because I had surgery, I’m taking my time and getting back right. [There] won’t be no recurring injuries.”
The Red Sox will be in Baltimore for the middle game of a big series with the Orioles on June 15, so Fenway Park is available that day for anyone who'd like to take some swings or field balls off the Monster.
No, really. It's available.
All it takes to have that opportunity is a donation to the Jimmy Fund, part of which is a registration fee, but the rest of which is tax-deductible or could come by way of fundraising. A $750 donation gets one person onto the field for 30 minutes of fielding, a $2,000 donation gets 25 pitches at bat, and a $2,500 donation combines both of those packages into one experience. All of those also come with a bunch of other stuff, including a hat, shirt, and food, and if those who step up to the plate will have their names announced over the public address system while their name appears on the big screen in center field.
There are a couple of group packages available -- 24 people for $40,000, and six people for $18,000 -- while there's also an option to sponsor a patient. To learn how to do that, or for additional information on John Hancock Fenway Fantasy Day, click here.
* * *
The Jimmy Fund is also looking for full teams to help raise money by joining the Jimmy Fund Little League Program presented by Extra Innings. Now in its 27th year, the program raised more than $230,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute last summer, when 5,000 kids throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire participated in local tournament and fundraising efforts.
To learn more or to get involved, click here.
Boston considers itself a big-market sports town -- presenting its well-stocked trophy cases as an indication of its national import -- but Sports Illustrated released its 2013 list of the 50 highest-earning athletes in American sports on Tuesday, and not a single player among them takes his paycheck from one of this area's teams.
That, however, doesn't mean the list isn't interesting to people in these parts. Here it is, in its entirety (based on total earnings from salary, winnings, bonuses, and endorsements). And here are some notes when looking at the list through a local lens:
- There are three former Boston athletes on the list. Celtic-for-a-few-months Joe Johnson is No. 43. More interesting, though, are Adrian Gonzalez (No. 34) and Carl Crawford (No. 42), in large part because their presence here is due to the contracts they both received from the Red Sox. In a way, seeing them here makes last August's megatrade all the more remarkable, considering Boston GM Ben Cherington was able to unload all except about $12 million of not only his two biggest contracts, and two of baseball's biggest contracts, but a couple of the biggest contracts in all of American sports -- and still get stud pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa in return.
- It's not as though the deal crippled the Dodgers' ability to spend money, however. The club gave Zack Greinke an enormous contract when he was a free-agent this winter, so despite making a paltry $20,000 in endorsements, the righty ranks 10th with an income of $29,020,000. Matt Kemp is also on the list, so the Dodgers are represented by a total of four players who they'll pay a combined $92 million in 2013.
- Led by Kobe Bryant at No. 4, Los Angeles clubs currently employ eight of the 46 team-sport athletes. Vernon Wells would've been a ninth, but he was traded to the Yankees, giving New York a total of 10 players. Half of those are Yankees, and three of those Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter -- haven't played a game this season.
- The next-best represented cities are Detroit and Philadelphia, with four each. The Lions' Calvin Johnson is the only non-baseball player among that group. Other cities with multiple athletes on the list include Miami and San Francisco, with three each, as well as Chicago and (believe it or not) Tampa, with two each.
- The most notable absence from a Boston perspective is Tom Brady, especially considering there are two quarterbacks in the top eight -- No. 3 Drew Brees and No. 8 Peyton Manning -- and four on the list, with Matt Schaub 27th, while Eli Manning is 48th. And Brady's omission isn't because of the contract restructuring he did earlier this offseason. According to SI, for these calculations "salaries are based on current or most recently completed seasons; for instance, for NFL players the season that ended in February was used." So Brady isn't likely to appear in 2014, either, as reports indicate his salary for the upcoming season will be $1 million in addition to the $10 million bonus the Patriots will pay him.
- The only player to make the list from the AFC East is Bills' defensive end Mario Williams. His $25 million salary helps him rank 18th. The Yankees are the only players from the AL East on the list, while Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire join Brooklyn's Johnson as the only players from the Celtics' Atlantic division.
- Baseball is often criticized for its haves vs. have-nots system, though 11 of the 30 major-league franchises are represented on the list, including teams from Seattle (Felix Hernandez), Minnesota (Joe Mauer), and Cincinnati (Joey Votto).
- Of the 25 baseball players on the list, 11 are pitchers. Of the eight football players, the four non-QBs are WR Johnson, DE Williams, and the Buccaneers duo of WR Vincent Jackson and LG Carl Nicks. Of the 13 basketball players, only four are bigs.
- There are no hockey players on the list.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the only NASCAR driver on the list, though he slid from 8th last year to 49th this. His appearance is powered by an industry-leading $12 million in endorsements.
- Of the nine highest earners, LeBron James (No. 2) and Derrick Rose (No. 7) are the only athletes younger than 34 years old. Maybe not coincidentally, six of those top nine have missed significant time due to injury (Bryant, Tiger Woods, Rose, Manning, Rodriguez) or imprisonment (No. 1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.) over the past few years.
In addressing the crowd at Fenway Park's first home game after the Boston Marathon Bombing, David Ortiz delivered a most memorable quote. And now he's wielding those words to raise money for the victims of the attack.
The Red Sox designated hitter announced that in conjunction with Marucci Sports he'll be selling customized bats, and 100 percent of the net proceeds will be donated to the One Fund Boston and other sources of victim support. Available at BigPapi.com, the bats look pretty cool: The barrel is blue, and reads, "This is our f-ing city!" next to a silhouette of what appears to be Ortiz pointing skyward after a home run. Next to that, where a player's name would normally be printed, these bats say, "Never Forget. BOSTON STRONG. 4.15.13."
Unsigned bats are being sold for $125, while a $500 donation buys an autographed model. They can be shipped anywhere in the United States, and according to the order form it looks as though you can order up to 20 of each.
Ortiz also left a message on his site:
My Fellow Bostonians,
On April 15, 2013, nearly a decade after I first came to Boston, our city was attacked during one of Boston's most beloved events. Through the great bravery of our service men and women, and the strength of our citizens, Boston has and will continue to persevere through this tragedy. I wanted to figure out a way to do something to help the victims, so I reached out to my partner Marucci Sports who have created these bats to help raise money for those affected by this tragedy. 100% of the net proceeds from these sales will go to the OneFund and other victims of this terrible event. When I gave my speech during the pregame ceremony of our first game back, I fully meant the words I said. Let's get together as a city to show everyone that "nobody is gonna dictate our freedom!"
We won't know until some point late Monday night whether it was an omen -- or merely a coincidence. But already we know this: The Maple Leafs have eliminated the Bruins in the round of 16 ...
... of the NHL 14 Cover Vote currently being conducted by EA Sports.
In a battle of former second-overall picks, Toronto's James van Riemsdyk ousted Boston's Tyler Seguin in a left-bracket quarterfinal that went final on Sunday night -- not long after the real-life Leafs beat the in-the-flesh Bruins to force Monday's deciding Game 7 at TD Garden.
The former University of New Hampshire Wildcat assisted on both of Toronto's tallies in its 2-1 victory, and his five points over the first six games could only have helped him in the vote, which is decided by fans making their picks at NHL.com/covervote and on Twitter. Seguin, in the meantime, is still looking for his first point in the series despite 27 shots on goal and nearly 104 minutes of ice time.
Van Riemsdyk next takes on Martin Brodeur -- and if he wins that he could find himself up against teammate Joffrey Lupul in a battle for a finals berth, with Lupul taking on Pavel Datsyuk in the quarters.
That'd probably be fine with Seguin and the Bruins, though, as long as they're able to make sure the tussle be on a video game cover is the only competition the Leafs are still fighting to win after tonight, and Toronto's only triumph comes in a popularity contest. Omens be darned.
Manny Ramirez lasted only 17 at-bats as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, retiring from Major League Baseball after registering one hit and a failed drug test in five games. But if he'd only stuck around longer it looks like he might've fit in.
Joe Maddon's Rays are famous for their themed road trips, traveling to their next city in some sort of silly garb, and this week the team Ramirez is playing for in Taiwan decided to do the same thing. According to MLB.com's Dakota Gardner, the EDA Rhinos opted to wear Halloween costumes while riding the train along the coast of Taiwan.
And so, buying in completely, Manny was no longer being Manny. Manny was being the Hulk. With sunglasses. And toe shoes.
We can only assume the costume was as well-received as the ex-Red Sox slugger's home runs have been in the Far East. And that this isn't the last time Manny makes news merely by doing something goofy.
UPDATE: For more oft-hilarious tales of Manny's time in Taiwan, follow Brandon DuBreuil on Twitter, and check out his site dedicated to the subject, mannydoestaiwan.com. He reports the costumed ride was specifically mean for the rookies, and seeing that the soon-to-be-41-year-old Ramirez is technically one of those, he hopped on board. The site is full of good stuff, and definitely one to check back on as the CPBL season continues.
Looking for a place to take the mom in your life this Mother's Day? The Red Sox would like to suggest a visit to Fenway Park -- and for more than just a baseball game.
After the Sox and Blue Jays are finished with the ballpark on Sunday afternoon, the club will welcome mothers and their kids on to the infield to run the bases. In my case it'd be nothing short of a Mother's Day Miracle if my mother made it all the way around, considering I don't think she's run a total of 360 feet in the last 30 years, but there are alluring perks for those types of moms, too: Fenway tours will be free for women all weekend, while during Sunday's contest women can receive a complimentary chair massage, courtesy of Equinox Fitness, in the Champions Club located behind right field.
It's all part of a month-long celebration of "Women and Baseball," with the Sox planning to highlight that theme at each of May's 13 home games. Leading up to Mother's Day, events include the Red Sox Wives conducting a mystery grab bag fundraiser supporting the One Fund on May 9 and 10 -- with fans who donate $40 having a chance to “grab” an autographed baseball. The next day, Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, will be on hand as the Sox celebrate her native Rhode Island.
Of course, it might also be a good idea to get gifts for the moms in your life, and the Red Sox are currently offering discounts on jewelry and handbags bought through their team store.
There's also a new piece from Alex and Ani, the local brand that has created an exclusive expandable wire bangle to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the partnership between the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund. Pictured below, the bracelet is available in gold or silver, and can be purchased for $28 by going here or to an Alex and Ani store.
Each bangle is accompanied by a meaning card that is marked with three descriptive words -- legacy, teamwork, dedication -- and 20 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the bangle go directly to the Jimmy Fund. Might be a nice accessory to wear on a Sunday in the park.
A Division I-recruited pitcher who always dreamed of making it to the big leagues, David Mellor saw those hopes all but dashed in the summer of 1981, when he was run down by a car in the parking lot of a McDonald's and told he'd never walk normally again.
But determined to get there one way or the other, he still made it to the majors. And you're probably quite familiar -- perhaps occasionally in awe -- of his work.
Here's a look at Fenway Park's groundskeeper, as told by Buster Olney on ESPN's E:60 news show.