Bruins

Fenway Memories

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Fenway Memories

Fenway Park has seen a hell of a lot of history over these last 100 years. So much so that its almost impossible to look back and focus on just one game, one player or even one moment from the parks decorated past.

But thats what I wanted to do.

So, I sat down at my desk last night, closed my eyes and thought: OK Fenway Park! Whats the FIRST thing that pops into your head?

The answer was slightly weird and entirely unexpected.

Rico Brogna.

Yes, Rico Brogna.

THE Rico Brogna.

The man, the myth, the Brogna.

As you remember, Boston grabbed Brogna off waivers in August of 2000. At the time, he was only 30 years old, a solid first baseman and less than a season removed from back-to-back 20 homer100 RBI campaigns. Did I mention he was a local guy? Yes, Brogna was born in Turner Falls, and had grown up cheering for the Sox in Watertown. So all things considered, people were pretty excited to add him to the mix. (When youre making a run at the pennant, theres no such thing as too much insurance for Brian Daubach.)

But unfortunately, like many moves from that era (or every era), Brogna never panned out. He was never healthy, and never found a rhythm. He appeared in only 40 games, hit .193 and managed one measly home run.

Still, somehow, when I sat at my desk last night and played mental roulette with my Fenway memories, that ONE home run was the first thing that clicked.

It was August 14, and the Sox 59-54, four games back in the AL East were hosting the Rays. But more importantly, Pedro Martinez was on the mound. This was his third season in Boston; the height of reign as the leagues most dominant pitcher. Back then, it didnt matter who the Sox were playing the Yankees, the Devil Rays, the Park League All-Stars when Pedro was on the mound you did everything you could to be there. And on this night, I was. Section 13. Row EE.

Fast-forward to the ninth inning, and things had NOT gone as planned. Pedro had left the game after only four innings with a stiff right shoulder, but not before giving up a three-run homer to mighty Miguel Cairo. The Sox got three back in the sixth, but that was it. The teams moved to the bottom of the ninth, tied 3-3.

Heres what happened next: Darren Lewis led off with an HBP, stole second and moved to third on a sac fly by Trot Nixon. Then, Jason Varitek struck out. So now the winning run was on third, with two outs and the only two legitimate threats in the Sox line-up (Carl Everett and Nomar Garciaparra) were coming up next.

What did Tampa do? They intentionally walked Crazy Carl. They intentionally walk Nomar. They intentionally walked the bases loaded for the one and only Rico Brogna!

As you can imagine, the crowd was buzzing. Not only because the Sox were on the verge of victory, but also because the Rays had just intentionally walked the bases loaded! How dare they steal a Nomar at-bar from us?! How dare they disrespect our hometown Brogna?! Now, we were excited, but also a pretty angry. (Those two emotions dominated just about every summer back then, especially when the division was within reach.) Everyone was standing. Everyone was screaming. At this very moment, regardless of anything that was going on in anyone's life, Rico freaking Brogna was the only thing that mattered!

Five pitches later, he turned on a 2-2 fastball and sent a rocket into right field bullpen.

A walk off grand slam!

And Fenway went nuts.

Absolutely nuts.

I dont remember what song was playing in the background. I don't remember if Wally was doing a celebratory dance on the dugout. I don't remember anything but watching through a sea of waving hands and screaming fans as Brogna made his way around the bases. Back then, we didnt need songs or gimmicks or anything to help us love this team, or that stadium. Fenway and the Sox were all were had. Just a team and a ball park, and to be honest, neither of them were that good. But they were enough. They were always enough.

Especially on that night.

To be honest, I'm still not sure how or why Rico Brogna's walk grand slam was the first Fenway memory to come flying through my brain. But I'm glad it was.

Because that's how this park should be remembered. That's how I'll always remember it. Not for what it is today. You know, Fenway Sports Group's perverted Magic Kingdom. A cheap whore that Larry, John and company keep throwing money at and make-up on just so they can show it off to their horny old friends.

To be honest, these days I feel bad for Fenway. I hate what it's become.

But thankfully, these guys can't ruin what Fenway once was.

We'll always have the memories.

We'll always have Rico Brogna.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Talking Points: Signs point to Pastrnak busting out of mini-slump

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Talking Points: Signs point to Pastrnak busting out of mini-slump

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak netted the game-winner in the third period after getting freed up for a breakaway chance, and then throwing a double-move at Matt Murray before tucking one under his glove hand. It was the first goal in six games for Pastrnak, and it capped off a day when he topped 22 minutes of ice time, had a team-high five shots on net and battled through some physical play from the Penguins to get toward his offense. The 21-year-old continues to set the pace for the Bruins offensively, and has shown all the signs in the last couple of games that he’s busting out of whatever mini-slump was holding him down. Everybody knows that Pasta isn’t good for Thanksgiving, but it is certainly good for Black Friday.

BLACK EYE: A tough afternoon for former Boston College standout Brian Dumoulin, who got rocked by a couple of heavy Noel Acciari hits later in the game, finishing with a minus-2 rating while sitting on the ice for a couple of goals against. Dumoulin finished with three giveaways in 20:03 of ice time, managed only a single shot on net and was one of the weaker links on the ice for Pittsburgh in a game where they didn’t play too badly in the final 40 minutes. Dumoulin seems to struggle a bit when he comes back to Boston, and Black Friday afternoon was no exception.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were outplayed in the second period despite outshooting the Penguins by a 14-8 margin, and they watched as Pittsburgh pressed them for three goals in the middle 20 minutes. But in what turned out to be a very important play in the game, Matt Grzelcyk finished off a broken play in front of the net to score his first NHL goal on the Garden ice where he grew up skating. That goal allowed the Bruins to move into the second intermission with a tied hockey game, and set things up for the third period heroics where David Pastrnak scored the game-winner on a breakaway strike.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk put together another strong performance, and his line played a giant role in the Bruins jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. He set up the David Krejci goal that got the Bruins up and rolling in the first period, and then he also fed Krejci again in the second period on a shot attempt he fanned on in the slot. The puck drifted over to Matt Grzelcyk for Boston’s third goal, and it capped off a day where the rookie winger topped 18 minutes of ice time, had two assists and a plus-1 rating, finished with four shots on net and had a couple of hits in there for good measure.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – the placement the Bruins now have in the Atlantic Division after winning four games in a row, which puts them back into a playoff spot on the day after Thanksgiving. What a stunning turnaround it’s been over the last couple of weeks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “it’s exciting. You’re on NBC, you’re playing against the Stanley Cup Champions, everyone is watching, let’s put our best foot forward. I know it’s one of 82, but it’s a bigger one of 82 the way I look at it, and I think they felt the same way coming out [in the first period].” –Bruce Cassidy, on the strong start from the Black and Gold. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

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Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will turn to a familiar starting lineup as they try to get back on their winning ways following Wednesday’s loss at Miami.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Morris will be in the starting lineup tonight against Orlando, joining the usual Celtics foursome of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

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Morris’ availability tonight was not a given, similar to it being in question prior to Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
 
Morris has been dealing with soreness in his left knee which kept him out for the first eight games of the season and has limited his playing time since then.
 
Stevens said Morris will likely not play against Indiana on Saturday but no final decision has been made. Since returning to the lineup, the Celtics have played Morris with a minutes restriction in addition to not allowing him to play in any back-to-back games.

Morris has made it clear that he does not like having his playing time limited while not playing in any back-to-backs, but has repeatedly he understands why it is being done and won’t fight what the coaching and medical staff believe is best for him and the team.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE