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Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:42

Happy trails, Youk!

Saying goodbye to a Red Sox favorite

As sports fans, we become attached to those who play for our beloved teams. While fandom has become more about rooting for laundry than individuals in recent years, we still develop feelings for the athletes who go out there day after day and do their best to contribute to the cause.

Alas, the day inevitably comes when we have to bid farewell to our favorites. That day arrived for Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was traded to the Chicago White Sox this weekend in exchange for pitcher Zach Stewart and utilityman Brent Lillibridge.

Youkilis has been a beloved member of the Red Sox since he was first called up from the minor leagues in 2004. He was a part of Boston's two 21st century World Series wins and a vital piece of the puzzle in 2007. He finished in the top six in MVP voting twice. He won one Gold Glove and could have easily won more, despite playing third base, first base, left fieldwhatever the team needed.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:38

Rubbing elbows with the greats

I recently had the good fortune to attend the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards ceremony in Salisbury, North Carolina. Winners from each state and their spouses converged on the southland, along with national honorees Dan Shulman of ESPN and former 'Sports Illustrated' writer Joe Posnanski and Hall of Fame inductees Bob Costas and John Feinstein. The four-day affair included a round-table discussion or two, a seminar, and a seemingly endless supply of food. For us small-town guys, it's an opportunity to not only rub elbows with the big names, but to meet up with peers from around the country, swap stories and share a lot of laughs.

A good deal of time was spent with New England colleagues Joe D'Ambrosio, who has broadcast UConn games for decades, and Jim Jeanotte, who will be inducted into the University of New Hampshire's Hall of Fame this coming Saturday. I also got to talk about northeast baseball's return to the College World Series with The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy. It was fun to connect with Bill Roth, the voice of Virginia Tech, whom I hadn't seen since my last trip to the awards weekend, and make new friends like Gene Deckerhoff, the legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State broadcaster, Pete Weber of the Nashville Predators, the Philadelphia Flyers' Jim Jackson, and Lyn Rollins of LSU. There's a level of camaraderie among play-by-play guys that's always enjoyable, as we share preferences about spotter sheets (the chart of staring players and substitutes) and horror stories about the worst press boxes we've encountered.

Published in The Sports Edge

I'm sure you've heard the saying: 'Opinions are like butts: everyone has one.' Well, when you're in sports talk radio or you write a sports column, in my opinion you really need one. An opinion that is. And some predictions too. Lots of both make for good radio. Some people must think you're a genius. The rest should regard you as something lower than a snake's belly. If you're in between you're radio vanilla and at some point you will be passed over for a new and more exciting flavor.

But above all else, you must embrace being wrong. It happens to everyone. I still remember Peter Gammons saying flat out there was no way the Red Sox would ever trade Manny Ramirez. Two weeks later, Manny was being Manny in LA.

Having written this column since 2007 and worked almost eight years doing sports talk radio on WZON and now on the FOX Sports Maine network with Rich Kimball, I've given a boatload of opinions and predictions. I got a few right. I bombed on a bunch too.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 15:34

An ambivalent NBA Finals prediction

A look ahead from someone who doesn't really care

I've long had a lukewarm relationship with the NBA. As a fan of sports in general and New England teams specifically, I check in with the Celtics from time to time throughout the season, but I rarely pay any real attention until the playoffs start and only then when the Celtics are in contention.

The 2012 Celtics took us on quite a ride, but they ultimately came up short, leaving us with a Miami Heat/Oklahoma City Thunder matchup in the finals. While this is admittedly the dream outcome for the NBA powers that be, most of my personal interest ticked away along with the final seconds of Celtics/Heat Game 7.

Still, it would be remiss of me not to engage my exceedingly inaccurate powers of prediction for this series, and so here's how I see it:

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 15:17

Bradley scores decision win over Pacquiao

LAS VEGAS - Timothy Bradley promised to shock, though the biggest shock in his fight with Manny Pacquiao came from the judges' scorecards.

In a fight Pacquiao seemed to have in hand, two judges decided otherwise, giving Bradley a split decision Saturday night and ending the Filipino fighter's remarkable seven-year unbeaten run.

Promoter Bob Arum fumed, the crowd at the MGM Grand arena booed, and Pacquiao seemed stunned when the decision was announced. Arum said there would be a November rematch, though he blasted the way the decision went down.

"I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight," said Arum, who handles both fighters.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:45

Red Sox Report Card May

There's no disputing that the 2012 Red Sox season has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. Sure, there have been extenuating circumstances the number of injuries has bordered on astounding but those problems are no different than those shared by half the teams in the league.

After a less-than-ideal start, the Sox spent the month of May slowly digging themselves out of the hole April put them in. In fits and starts, the team managed to drag itself above the .500 mark and enter June with a winning record.

Sure, they're still planted at the bottom of the division, but the American League East is going to be won by a war of attrition there are only a couple of games currently separating first from last. But if the Red Sox want to be a serious contender, they need to build on what successes they've had this month and find a way to make some significant upgrades.

Published in Report Card
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:21

More is not necessarily better

You only need to stroll down the cereal aisle at your local Hannaford to come to the realization that we have more choices than ever before about virtually everything in our lives. A mere generation ago a coffee was a coffee; your options were black and regular, and the idea of a grande mocha latte was as futuristic as the space cars the Jetsons drove. Today we are faced with a myriad of selections everywhere from food to the 500-channel television universe, and 'coffee shops' now have a menu larger than most restaurants of my youth.

Few areas of our lives have seen as exponential a growth in opportunities as youth sports and, much like what you see surfing through your cable choices, that isn't always a good thing. The other day I saw a sign advertising a new a baseball league for 4- and 5-year-olds. Surely that has to be a sign of an impending apocalypse. Here in 21st century America, if you're not playing organized sports by the time you've grown out of your Pull-Ups, you're behind the eight ball.

When I was four my athletic pursuits consisted of running from bumble bees, kicking cans and jumping up and down on my bed. Of course, that may be why my pro career never materialized. Had I only been in an organized league, with my name on my uniform, travelling to Altoona for the national 4-year-old championships, I would now be retired and living off my income from reverse mortgage ads, based on my popularity as a retired superstar athlete.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:17

Downtown' boomtown

Bangor radio show expands to three new markets

BANGOR Radio's Downtown is growing.

The Bangor-based radio show 'Downtown with Rich Kimball' is expanding its reach. Starting on June 25, the show which currently broadcasts on WAEI AM 910 will also be heard on three other Fox Sports Maine radio stations. WFAU AM 1280 in Gardiner/Augusta, WRKD AM 1450 in Rockland and WIGY FM 97.5 in Madison/Skowhegan are all joining the 'Downtown' family.

'Downtown with Rich Kimball' has been on the air for nine months now. Airing from 4 to 6 pm Monday through Friday, the show aims to be something a little different. It's a sports show, yes, but it isn't just about sports. There's a whole lot of community-oriented stuff; the arts are especially well-represented.

Published in Sports

Babe Ruth equals big bucks.

A baseball jersey worn by The Bambino sold for more than $4.4 million Sunday, a record for any item of sports memorabilia, according to the buyer and seller.

SCP Auctions, based in California, said the circa 1920 New York Yankees uniform top is the earliest known jersey worn by Ruth and it fetched $4,415,658 at the company's April auction, which ended Sunday. That price broke the previous record of $4,338,500 set in 2010 for James Naismith's founding rules of basketball.

Lelands.com said it submitted the winning bid for the jersey, which had been displayed for years at The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore. The road top has 'New York' written across the front and the Hall of Fame slugger wore it shortly after he was sold to the Yankees by the Boston Red Sox for $100,000 following the 1919 season.

Published in Sports

Bangor-based sports talk show Downtown with Rich Kimball will be available to a much larger audience starting next month. The 4:00-6:00 p.m. show has been airing on WAEI, AM 910 since September, will be heard on three other Fox Sports Maine stations beginning June 25. WFAU (AM 1280) in Gardiner/Augusta, WRKD (AM 1450) in Rockland, and WIGY (97.5 FM) in Madison/Skowhegan. 

"We're very excited to have the chance to reach a larger audience," said host Rich Kimball. "It's great to become a part of these long-established stations and also give our adverstisers access to three additional markets." Kimball said the show will continue to focus on coverage of Boston sports teams and the University of Maine programs and will look to provide information about events in the communities served by the new stations. "We really try and cover arts and entertainment in the Bangor area and we'll do the same with the new regions we'll be reaching," Kimball explained. 

Published in Sports
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