Patriots

Valentine on Fenway: 'It's the baseball Land of Oz'

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Valentine on Fenway: 'It's the baseball Land of Oz'

BOSTON Although he grew up in Connecticut, Bobby Valentine never went to Fenway Park as a kid. But that didnt diminish his appreciation for the ancient ballpark, celebrating its 100th anniversary today.

The park has at least a life, Valentine said. It has a magic to it.Its the baseball Land of Oz. People dream of this place.

I would say that this ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world. And today I think there will be a memory created for me and everybody else whos here today. Im looking forward to it.

Im not sure I remember the first time I became aware of it, probably too long ago. But it was always there. I had Little League mates and high school mates who were huge Red Sox fans and always talked about Fenway. My uncle John was a huge red sox fan. It was always in the conversation, I would think. I never got to come here. I only saw one major league game as a kid. But it was in the conversation for sure.

With the Yankees, the descendants of the Highlanders who played that game against the Red Sox in 1912, at Fenway for todays game, affects the ambience. But the scores of Red Sox alumni on hand for the game is what makes it special, Valentine said.

The schedule makers must have known. I dont believe in coincidence, he said. I think it adds to the day of course, or takes away from the day, Im not sure. What adds to the day is so many of the ex-players are here. I saw 50 guys yesterday that I havent seen in umpteen years, and Ill see another 100 or so this afternoon. I think thats amazingly special.

I didnt look at the list. I should just go in and look at the list because there are some guys that knew me but I didnt know them when I knew them, or however you say that. Didnt recognize them. Oh, you are? Holy geez. Yeah. And we played together. They have a little advantage on me because theyve been in the post office lately and seen the most wanted photo of me. So its a little easier for them.

The Sox will wear 1912 replica uniforms, with no names or numbers on the backs.

"Havent put in on yet. I think theyre cool. And Ill see calves of players that Ive never seen before," Valentine said. "The hats are interesting, they take a little getting used to."

Valentine was at Fenway for the free open house on Thursday. The Sox estimated more the 53,000 people attended.

It wasnt billed as come and get Dustins autograph, Valentine said. It was billed as come to the park and its open for you to feel. Thats what I took from it. People were buying souvenirs of the ballpark. Its just different, not getting the autograph or the photograph of the player or the cracked bat. And I stayed around a while. I was amazed. I know theres probably a better word to describe what it was but I dont know what it is.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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