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Red Sox RP Hanrahan likes what he sees at Fenway

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Red Sox RP Hanrahan likes what he sees at Fenway

BOSTON (AP) New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan visited Fenway Park for first time in his life Tuesday.

Hanrahan, a fan of baseball history, arranged a guided tour - complete with a contingent of media following close behind. He started with the home clubhouse, walked out to left field to see behind the wall where the manual scoreboard is operated, then scaled the wall to check out the view from the Green Monster seats.

``I thought, `This place is amazing,''' he said. ``A lot bigger than I thought it was. Obviously a ton of history here.''

And the Red Sox expect Hanrahan to add to it.

Boston, which acquired him in a trade with the Pirates in December, introduced him on Tuesday at the classic ballpark.

``It's a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be,'' Hanrahan said. ``Obviously, they've put some money into it over the years.''

Hanrahan, 31, who went 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves last year in Pittsburgh, has his work cut out for him in Boston. The Red Sox finished 2012 at 69-93, last in the American League East. They have not been to the postseason since 2009 when they were swept by the Angels in the ALDS.

In his last two seasons, he helped lead a bit of a baseball renaissance in Pittsburgh, where attendance and interest jumped at PNC Park. Though the Pirates faded in both seasons down the stretch, he still posted 76 saves and a 2.24 ERA.

He also recorded 128 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .205 batting average in that span, and was named a National League All-Star both seasons. He and Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel are the only pitchers to collect at least 35 saves and post an ERA under 3.00 in both seasons.

``I think any baseball fan wants the chance to play here,'' he said, while also noting Boston's rivalry with the Yankees. ``They want a chance to play in that other place in New York (too). As a baseball player, and a fan, you want to experience that and I'm excited to get that feeling this year.''

Along with Angel Stadium, Target Field (Twins), and U.S Cellular Field (White Sox), Fenway is one of the four ballparks the right-hander has never pitched in.

Last season, Red Sox relievers posted a combined record of 21-21 with a 3.88 ERA, better than only three other American League teams. The total of 35 saves - better than only the Blue Jays' 29 in the AL - was one behind Hanrahan's total for the season

Either way, Hanrahan believes the Boston bullpen has potential.

``Andrew Miller's always been one of those guys to watch for to see what he's going to do,'' he said. ``There's a lot of arms that could get the job done at any time.

``I was looking at something on the plane where MLB Network had the top five bullpens and I was thinking they might throw us on there (too). We'll have to work our way onto there.

``But we belong there.''

Hanrahan, who pitched for the Nationals as well, is eager to make the jump to the AL, regardless of what people say about it.

``My job is to get three people out in the ninth inning before I give up the lead so I feel like I've been in some big games,'' he said. ``I feel like I've been in some tough spots. I'm not going to go out there and strike out the side every time. That's not the kind of pitcher that I am. I'm going to come after guys and I'm going to give up some hits and stuff like that. But no matter where you go, you're going to have doubters.

``So, I just try not to pay attention to that. My job is to go out there and save the victory for the team, and if we have a three-run lead, and I give up two runs, and we win that game, I'm going to be the same guy. I'm going to be happy that we won that game, and I think my laid-back personality will back that. And I like to have fun, too.''

One of the most memorable moments in his career, Hanrahan said, was on June 25, 2011, at PNC Park. Hanrahan, who likes to feed off the crowd, struck out then-Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez with the Pirates leading by two runs and a runner on second to end the game. The Pirates won two of three games in that interleague series. Hanrahan saved both victories.

``Every strikeout, to me, is awesome,'' he said. ``In 2011, that was the time that the Pirates, everyone knew their history and we were right there in the middle of it. That was a big series for us. That kind of showed us that we could play with anybody at the time.

``So, I think that's one of the things people remember.''

He hopes to create even more memories with his new team ... in his new park.

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We're still amazed by Michael Jordan's historic scoring night vs. New Jersey, days after turning 40-years-old

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We're still amazed by Michael Jordan's historic scoring night vs. New Jersey, days after turning 40-years-old

Sixteen years ago Michael Jordan delivered one of the most memorable performances of his two-year stint with the Washington Wizards. 

On February 21, 2003, Jordan dropped 43 points four days after his 40th birthday. The mark made the Jordan the first player older than 40 to record 40 points or more in a contest. 

It was also the fifth-most points he ever scored in a Wizards uniform. 

The record was made against the then-New Jersey Nets. Throughout the entire game the two teams went back-and-forth with 13 ties and 17 lead changes. That was until the Hall of Famer put the game away for Washington with the final go-ahead basket with 34 seconds to go. 

The Wizards won 89-86. 

"We hadn't really been playing well and coach has been really disappointed in the way we play and I had to take the leadership. I had to do everything I had to do to get this team to understand what winning is all about," Jordan said.

The 43 points was scored on 18-for-30 shooting, all within the 3pt arc. In the third quarter alone he scored 14 of the team's 25 points. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double in the contest with four steals, three assists and a block.

All 13 seasons of Jordan's career he had incredible feats. The season prior he recorded his final 50-point game at 38 years of age, which is also the oldest anyone's ever been to reach 50 points. And that came two months after he returned from retirement. 

The 2002-03 season was his last and this display was an attempt for Jordan to return to the postseason one final time. He had not been there since he was with the Chicago Bulls in 1998. 

"I've only got 28 games left in my career. I do whatever I've got to do to get into the playoffs."

Ultimately the Wizards did not make it to the playoffs with Jordan, but he sure left his mark on the organization. 

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America East Tournament Bracket 2019, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

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USA TODAY Sports

America East Tournament Bracket 2019, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

Last year's America East tournament allowed us to witness the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history when the No. 16 UMBC Retrivers upset the No. 1 overall seed, the Virginia Cavaliers. 

The 2019 America East tournament will likely have more eyeballs on it as a result. 

Once again this conference likely remains a single-bid league. After several seasons of the Vermont Catatmounts running away with the league and having at-large bid potential, their resume this season is lacking a quality win. That is not to say that Vermont is not good. To the contrary they are still the class of the America East conference. 

They do have one conference loss though... to UMBC on their home court. 

The Retrivers are also good again. So are the Stony Brook Seawolves, who may even be in line for an NIT at-large bid if they cannot get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

Unlike last season, there are question marks in Vermont's ability to make it to March Madness.

Oh and we're due for some fireworks. That memorable UMBC tournament upset would not have happened without another Retriver upset. Jarius Lyles nailed a miracle buzzer-beater to knock off the top seeded Vermont Catamounts for the 2018 championship and the automatic bid. 

AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT 2019 INFORMATION:

When is the 2019 America East Tournament?

The America East Tournament is March 9, 12, and 16. The America East Championship game is on Saturday, March 16.

Where is the 2019 America East Tournament?
The America East Tournament is hosted at the higher seed of each match-up. The No. 1 seed has homecourt advantage throughout the tournament.

How to watch the 2019 America East Tournament?

The America East Tournament has not announced where there tournament will be broadcast or streamed. 

Who is the defending 2018 America East Champion?

The UMBC Retreivers won the 2018 America East Tournament championship. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament and upset No. 1 seed Virginia.

AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT 2019 BRACKET:

America East Tournament Quarterfinals (3/9)
 - No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed
 - No. 2 seed vs. No. 7 seed
 - No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed
 - No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed

America East Tournament Semifinals (3/12)
 - Highest remaing seed vs. lowest remaining seed
 - Second highest remaining seed vs. second lowest remaining seed

America East Tournament Championship (3/16)
 - Semifinal winner vs. semifinal winner

AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT 2019 PREVIEW:

Preview will be released upon the completion of the 2019 regular season.

PICK: TBD

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