DATELINE: Bounty Hunters Come Cheap in DR
Bargain Basement Killers!
The price on David Ortiz’s head was reportedly only $6000 to be divided up by a dozen conspirator killers. Then, the number went up: no, not the bounty, but the number of plotters splitting the ante. The latest count from the Dominican Republic is there are ten co-conspirators. It’s almost like a county fair of killers. A few are still at large.
We are on our way to a baker’s dozen.
Maybe your money goes a lot farther in the Dominican Republic economy. If that cheap lifestyle is driving Americans to move to that crime-ridden country, they are living a cheapskate rich lifestyle.
We thought that assassination of Julius Caesar was a shoddy affair, but 2000 years later the attack on Ortiz is even more carnival-like. Instead of a forum, or even Fenway Park, Ortiz was shot in the back, a la Jesse James, in an outdoor bistro atmosphere.
No motive has been given for the crime. We cringe at the speculation. And none of it enhances Ortiz’s reputation as a moral paragon.
Friends now say that Ortiz counted on the general public to protect him from dangerous gang members or gangsters.
The best laid plans belong to mice, not men. No one could stop the bullet with Big Papi’s name on it.
If you think witness identification is a deterrent to crime, you have only to see killers blithely walk up to the large Ortiz and put the gun at gall bladder height. They did not care who saw them, or if they would be known.
What we have here is the polar opposite of the Aaron Hernandez case.
The motorcycle get-away driver was inept too. He skidded into the crowd, giving a mob the courage to beat him up. He professes to be a Big Papi fan.
Heavens, imagine what might have happened if the motorcycle driver had been a Yankee fan.
We come back to the low-ball price on Ortiz’s head. This was not the work of a head-hunter, but of a world where life is not only cheap, but it is on sale to anyone with a credit card limit under $8000. The killers planned to share the amount at a payoff of $1000 each, but as the number goes up, the slice of the pie drops to crumbs for a murder.
DATELINE: Celebrities Face Russian Roulette!
An assassination attempt on the life of Red Sox legend David Ortiz, known in the baseball world as Big Papi, is vaguely reminiscent of the attack on the life of John Lennon or Tupac Shakur.
Those two chilling actions of murder put a damper forever on how celebrities interacted with the public. Now, again, the fame or infamy of sports stars—and their relative accessibility to the general public may shut down appearances in informal settings.
David Ortiz has lived under a lucky star as athlete and pop hero. Next to Gronk, he is a New England fixture and dizzy icon.
Big Papi is enormously popular in Boston, and in fact was expected to attend a charity event in town this week. He keeps a high profile in the New England area, mainly owing to product endorsements and advertising, which likely provides income and attention.
However, Big Papi also put his local house up for sale this week in the Greater Boston suburbs. He was shot in the back in his native Dominican Republic, not Boston.
He became an American citizen a few years ago, and also defended Boston at a ceremony after the Boston Marathon bombing a few years back.
He was shot in the back by an assailant who clearly meant to kill him. The bullet went through his stomach. The shooter on a motorcycle, or someone presumed to be the gunman, was attacked by an incensed crowd at the night club where Ortiz had appeared.
Those familiar with the two countries sharing an island in the Caribbean call the DR a dangerous place. Americans have died there recently in mysterious hotel incidents.
What is clear is that the violence of the world and the social media attention celebrities receive internationally has made a new wrinkle for assaults or assassinations by deranged individuals with a sense of entitlement.
Big Papi may well survive this attack, but he will never be the same—nor will sports stars who may find themselves paying a heavy price for fame and bodyguards.
DATELINE: Cold Spy
Being of a certain generation, we have been asked about some of the accuracy of the movie The Catcher was a Spy.
Paul Rudd plays Moe Berg, an enigmatic athlete who finished his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1939. Pushing 40, he was pushed out of the locker room to make room for more rookies. And, the Sox had a few.
In the film, one rookie looks in the locker room with suspicion at Berg and notes his reservation about sharing a shower stall with a man with unclear sexual tendencies. Another veteran player (Lefty Grove?) tells him to keep it to himself.
Yet, this player seems to stalk Berg and follow him to some clandestine gay bar of 1939 in Boston. When he comes out (and we do not see what happens in this odd locale), he knows he is being followed—and confronts the young rookie.
He slugs him several times. The player is identified as the fictional Bill Dalton. No one by that name was on the Sox roster.
So, who was the offending rookie stalker?
The Red Sox had several notable rookies in that season with Berg: Ted Williams was the most famous (also known as the Garbo of the Dugout for his reclusiveness) and Bobby Doerr, one of Ted’s close friends, and Johnny Pesky, all future Hall of Famers.
Was it one of them who had a confrontation with Moe Berg?
You will be hard-pressed to find out something that was kept in the shadows by all concerned. Berg would never talk, and neither would Ted Williams. Berg reportedly offered Ted advice and insights on the greats he played with (and he told Ted he was most like Shoeless Joe Jackson of Field of Dreams).
If the incident is true, and we have no doubt about its veracity, you can now play To Tell the Truth. Alas, the real stalker will not stand up years after all have passed.
We put our money on Teddy Ballgame. The other two were amiable sorts and often thought to be mediators and peace-makers.
DATELINE: Moe Berg
Rudd/Berg at Fenway!
Move over, Mookie Betts: another Red Sox player is sharing the spotlight this year.
The Catcher was a Spy is the true story of the mysterious Boston Red Sox player who joined the OSS (early CIA) and was given an assignment to assassinate a Nazi scientist when he visited Switzerland.
Once again, Paul Rudd answers the call to the bullpen, and he manages to play Moe Berg, a Jewish American athlete. He is beginning, however, to look a little frayed around the edges.
If you grew up in Boston with baseball fans of your grandfather’s generation, the legend of Moe Berg was well-known. Now, it is available for all to see.
Berg was a secretive man by nature. Indeed, the first 15 minutes of the movie intimates he was gay and a closet figure of the 1930s. The movie must give us an R rating with a sex scene with his girlfriend after all that.
Moe was a .235 career hitter (though he says .245 later in the movie). He goes to Japan before the war with Babe Ruth’s all-stars to play exhibition games—and already is doing spy work on his own.
No one is able to slip under his radar. A stellar cast tries, including Jeff Daniels as his superior at OSS, Guy Pearce as his military associate, and Paul Giamatti as a scientist on the mission.
Berg spoke 12 languages fluently, went to Princeton and studied at the Sorbonne. No one they called him the Professor among his high-school drop-out teammates. Later, Dom DiMaggio played for the Sox and was also called the “Little Professor,” after Berg.
The scenes at Fenway Park in 1940 are quite accurate, and the film gives us a convincing world of 1940s in turmoil. It is not a great film, but certainly a worthy effort of the true story of the heroes of World War II, though Berg refused any commendations after the war.
He stayed reclusive to the end, and in character.
DATELINE: Stopping Black Candidates at Any Cost?
Go Suck on a Georgia Peach!
Like many deluded Americans, we thought racism, like smallpox, had been eradicated. Well, smallpox is back—and so is racism, thanks to a president who encourages it.
Racism, a sign at Fenway Park said, last year is “as American as baseball.” The sign was quickly removed, but its sentiment remains. No World Series victory deodorizes this stink.
Trump has encouraged white nationalists to arm themselves and travel to the border of Mexico to shoot unarmed women and children if they dare to cross the line in the dirt.
Your president (well, someone’s president Trump) has insulted every black woman he can find: latest is Michelle Obama whom he contends writes a book for money and must put in controversy. Those are his values all right. You only act for money. In most morality, that’s called bribery.
Trump has called every black female journalist he meets stupid, which goes with his view of black Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Gee, do we see a pattern here? Not if you live in Florida.
In Georgia, another Georgia Peach is running for governor and hates black women like his opponent Abrams. We note only that the original Georgia Peach was a virulent racist, so Kemp is in a grand old party tradition.
In the Citrus state where Anita Bryant used to spew hate, you now have resident Trump furious that his boy Rick Scott is having the election stolen. Trump’s other stooge, DeSantis, is forming a transition team to take over. It used to be called a coup d’etat, now it’s called a recount.
Racism is as American as the grandiose old party that kicked out Lincoln years ago.
It’s rather unusual for American history to have a robber baron and grand wizard rolled into one orange-hair orangutan in the “Whiter than White House.”
DATELINE: Field of Dreams at Fenway Again
Casey, not AC?
If you were to ask, we doubt we’d have said we would return to watching the Red Sox again. Our last blog on them was several years ago, but it is the World Series in Boston, again.
If you were to ask if writing about the managers might be a possibility,we might shrug. However, we realized that two former Sox players were now in back in Boston as managers: Yes, there was an aging star Dave Roberts, now with the Dodgers, and his counterpart Alex Cora.
Might we say there is Magic in the Moonlight at Fenway? Well, only because we saw Magic Johnson there in the stands, as an executive braintrust with the Los Angeles baseball team. Wasn’t he part of the Bird-Magic story in Boston?
No, wait, we were thinking of Moonlight Graham playing in Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner was sitting in the stands with James Earl Jones who played Terence Mann, the writer who wanted to play with these same Dodgers.
No, we were shocked to see Alex Cora, or AC as his players call him in the modern familiarity with supervisors and managers. He was running a talent-laden team that had replaced the previous manager for not winning a World Series.
When AC pulled the hot rookie Devers and replaced him with a pitch hitter named Nunez, we were more in marvel at the assortment of beards on the players. Yet, suddenly, AC became a genius before a national audience.
The last time we saw that it was someone in another era by the name of Casey Stengel. He managed the New York Yankees, another talent-laden team that kept winning. Stengel would pick a pinch-hitter out of a hat who would win the game.
Suddenly there was AC channeling Casey. How appropriate, if not poetic. AC picked the man to win the game with a homer to the Monster Seats. It was a ghost movie for baseball once again.
Once again, the Boston sports media has fallen down on the job.
Over the past year or so, there have been ample opportunities to ask owner Tom Werner, the media expert of the Red Sox and co-owner of the largest share with John Henry, about his dubious association with Bill Cosby.
You might better remember Werner as the man who decided to fire Voice of the Red Sox for years, Don Orsillo, for no reason except trust in his own good judgment and disregard of fans.
Now it’s come back to us in the age of #MeTooism, that Tom Werner was one of the first great enablers of actor and sexual predator Bill Cosby as a Hollywood TV producer.
Werner was the producer of the Cosby series from 1984 to 1992, making both men rich and giving Werner the opportunity to buy the Red Sox in subsequent years.
Tom Werner is not to become confused with Werner von Braun, the space scientist. They are heavens apart.
No member the media has asked Tom about how he enabled Cosby. No member of the media has asked him for his opinion on all of the charges against his former star and pal of the series.
Unlike the previous owner named Tom (that’s Tom Yawkey, folks), Tom Werner had no problems with hiring black people and using them to profit. Tom Werner has been instrumental behind the name change of Yawkey Way in Boston near Fenway Park, with its racist connotations, to turn back the clock to the original name, Jersey Street.
But, we digress.
What did Tom Werner know and when did he know it about Bill Cosby? No one seems to have asked him the question. So, we will.
Tom, did you have any idea about all the women that Bill Cosby was accosting?
Cosby was the Harvey Weinstein of the Dark Ages in Hollywood. Werner was apparently the man behind the curtain in those dark ages. For years he helped Cosby become a success.
If there are any Red Sox fans who belong to #MeToo’s movement, they should be asking about Werner too.
DATELINE: The Way in Boston
When you say the word “racism,” in Boston, you better smile, pardner.
Yes, the birds of a feather are in a snit over the name change on Jersey Street. It was once called Yawkey Way in honor of the Hall of Fame owner of the Boston Red Sox. He died in 1976, and the city of Boston, found it in its heart to name the little bypass in front of Fenway Park after its Southern gentleman, Tom, who tried to buy a World Series in the 1930s by hiring the best players. He failed.
The Colonel, as it were, in baseball, a game for white gentlemen, as it was once called.
Yes, right in Boston, you had an owner who was never truly part of Boston. He never showed up until after the season started and then sat in his high-above-field box like Nero.
He was instrumental in keeping the Red Sox lily white until Pumpsie Green showed up to sit on the bench for a few seasons. He was used as a pinch-runner most of the time. The Sox were the last team in the majors to sign a black man to play.
Race, if it was in the forefront of that Georgian peach, Yawkey’s mind, was never to advance civil rights of black people. He made Ty Cobb look progressive.
The Yawkey Way is not to be confused with the Patriot Way, under an owner who is the epitome of billionaires in Boston.
Uncle Tom Yawkey kept it white for as long as he could.
We have a memory of attending a Red Sox game in the early 1960s when the only black face we saw in the stands was Bill Russell of the champion Celtics. The Red Sox were never world champs under Yawkey.
When the game ended with another hideous Sox loss, I was behind Russell who was tall, silent, and dignified. Why was he there? Perhaps to see the second black Sox player, pitcher Earl Wilson. That is lost to memory, but Russell was the tallest man leaving the box seats. No one spoke to him, and we walked out of the park—and he went in one direction and I, the other way on then Jersey Street.
Wilson was later traded several weeks after complaining about racism to the Boston media.
We saw Russell at several games over that year, while Yawkey sat high above, looking down. In those days, celebrities did not join Colonel Yawkey in his perch, certainly not a black man.
We think now Russell showed up to make a point: he loved baseball and hated racism. He was the only black face in the crowd.
Imagine: 30,000 seats filled with white fans, and one black man.
And now there is a hulla-baseballoo because Boston wants to dump Yawkey Way in a place where black players were jeered just last season by racial taunts. The present owners want to change the name of Yawkey Way back Jersey Street.
It’s still Yawkey Way, no matter what you call it.
DATELINE: Pats Play Bums of the Week
Other than Gronk claiming he was about to have a fiesta, when in fact he actually seemed to enjoy a siesta, Gronk didn’t do much up in that rarified air. Many players were cramping and gasping for oxygen, likely having a locker room IV and banana.
The big news of the game was that history repeated itself. Way back in 1960, Ted Williams was pulled out of left field in the ninth inning and replaced by Carroll Hardy, a rather ignored utility player.
In Mexico City, Tom Brady was replaced with two minutes left in the game by Brian Hoyer, his long-time second banana. Belichick came to the conclusion that the thin air was not helpful to his most senior citizen on the team.
Hoyer has taken the chosen seat on Brady’s right hand on the bench during the game. Vacant since the loss of Julian Edelman, it seemed a natural for place for Hoyer. Not only that, no one ever deigns to talk to Brady during the game—excepting his personal coach Josh McDaniels.
There, for all to see, Brady was chatting with Hoyer during the game! It was definitely record-setting.
It was the most notable moment of a lackluster game. The Pats played, if memory serves, something akin to the Las Vegas Raiders with blue-eyed Derek Carr.
Other than that, the game was notable for a 62-yard field goal in the vacuum of mountain atmosphere, sort of like punting on the Moon.
The other notable gaffe was that NBC had the temerity to pull the game off the air in Boston. This resulted in a nasty reaction that caused NBC, gutless at best, to hastily return the rout telecast back on the tube for Patriot fans.
DATELINE: Great Rivalry about to be Born
Jayson Tatum & Steph Curry
Are we talking a new major rivalry? Boston and New England has had its fair share of giants in sports history. We have seen loyal opposition, and red coats.
In Boston, some fans believe it is happening again.
We are looking at something special on the famous Garden parquet floor under the green banners.
We can remember Bird & Magic. We know about Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Recently there was Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Some oldsters even remember Bobby Orr & Brad Park. How can we forget Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk?
We aren’t sure if David wore a Boston jersey when he took on Goliath on the Boston Common.
Yes, Yankees and Red Sox. Lakers and Celtics. Patriots and Broncos. Bruins and Rangers.
Tonight, we add Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics for this generation. We hope Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving can elevate us to sports Nirvana, even if Kyrie looks like the Masked Marvel for this game.
No doubt about it, the thought of a new Boston rivalry makes us giddy.
Throw in Kevin Durant, the man who didn’t like Green shorts. Throw in Jason Tatum, a phenom teenager who is the new Larry Bird.
We cannot emphasize that hyperbole is an understatement in anticipation of this benchmark game in legendary lore.
Yes, Charles Dickens said it best: it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. We had Trump; we had Brady. We had black lives mattering; we had white supremacist dolts. The times are a mess.
We pray that the worst of times will transform this sports moment into the best of times during one little basketball game, Golden State Warriors versus the Boston Celtics. Yummy.
DATELINE: Boston Under Attack
On occasion, you encounter a movie that is a burden to watch, but you feel utterly compelled to stay the course as your patriotic duty. Such a film is Patriots Day.
We were in our hometown Boston when the horrific Marathon bombing occurred and lived through the four days of wall-to-wall TV coverage in 2013. It seems like living self-torture through post-traumatic stress to watch and relive the movie version produced and starring Mark Wahlberg. As a Bostonian, he wanted to be sure the movie had a Boston perspective.
It does, almost to a point of caricature, with accents flowering and scenes filmed mostly on location. Watertown residents preferred not to relive the mayhem in their backyards, and a different set was used for those climactic scenes of a Wild West shootout with two local residents turned terrorists.
If there is much to admire in this docudrama, police and detective work as well as FBI heroism is top of the list. In a matter of hours, starting from scratch, an entire operation and manhunt was created with tireless work from police, hospital workers, and citizens.
The film probably will best be seen years from now with more perspective on events, like the film Parkland about the Kennedy assassination, made 50 years after it happened. The raw nerves of the Marathon event are too fresh, still, to not feel abused again by what we know as familiar names and places and inevitabilities.
Hollywood fireworks are not missing here: as the shootout with the terrorists is stunning. Performances of J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, are appropriately underplayed. Red Sox star and local celebrity David Ortiz plays himself.
If any question remains, it is how to handle the people who were most unhelpful: Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s American wife and Dzokhar’s pothead UMass friends. Their reputations should be mud forever, according to this movie. We would say they got off far too easily.
Since this film may be the ultimate history lesson for viewers of the future, it stands as a moment in time, close enough to events, to ensure its accuracy. If we know anything from documentary history, it is that time dilutes, distorts, and changes the perception of the age’s Zeitgeist.
We think this one will pass the test of time.
DATELINE: Sick of Baseball Already
The Red Sox have gone viral.
And it’s not pretty. A stomach virus is decimating the overrated team. Well, at least now they have an excuse when the season ends in disgrace.
Reports unlike any we have heard in our history of being a fan have come forth—upchucked like a bad meal. Not only have players run off the field like they were trying to bunt to reach base, but even the broadcaster bailed out of the booth with a case of trotting to the rest room.
Young athletes, in our estimation, live in close quarters with other men and may be susceptible to catching on with a team. We don’t recall such a decimation in Sox history.
Is there something in the bottled water in the clubhouse? Is it something in the Boston atmosphere? We also noted a few Celtics were recently sick—and even required hospitalization. Thank heavens for Obamacare.
We are taken aback at the hospital visits—as most young men in their primes and prone to six-pack abs are among the strongest of the species unless their occupation is to walk the runway.
What is causing the spate of dyspepsia among our Red Sox stars? We know that teams often now provide prepared meals taken on the road for their players—lest some visiting town sprinkle the dinners and snacks with an unknown substance.
In the meantime, the balls are being played with less than healthy members of the Red Sox.
DATELINE: Dumb Opening Acts
When an aging 40-year old superstar QB chases down a superstar tight end coming off back surgery, you have the potential for a Super Nova.
This is the kind of tale told when you sit around a campfire and explain it to your grandchildren at the end of the 21st century.
In space terms, that’s one Big Bang.
If you see stars falling out of Super Bowl LII, you may think Belichick’s mantra of “One More,” could take on all the elements of Greek tragedy.
If you like your bangs with medical accoutrements, you may be in a body cast up to your earlobes with a cast of super stupid stars.
Instead of the Alpha, jock humor will be the Omega of the Patriots firmament.
Many fans, and Bob Kraft too, must have looked aghast upon the Great Chase of Brady after Gronk who re-stole the infamous Super Bowl jersey. Only Bob Kraft saw millions of dollars going down on the Fenway short right field.
If you want to steal the fire from heaven, you could end up in Hades.
The last time we saw a chase like this, it was in a Buster Keaton silent film about the Civil War called The General. The old locomotive went into the drink—and that was that.
Imagine losing your two biggest NFL stars at an MLB ceremony. It would be like Hertz giving Avis a bunch of flat tires. If you want to kick the tires on Brady and Gronk, you might wonder how they manage to run the field when Tony Romo retires the same day at a median of their ages owing to injury.
On the other hand, you might like the feistiness of the young pup Brady, having discovered his second childhood, and the quick, nimble recovery of a man prone to back pain. You may like to live dangerously.
Fortunately, the Great Fenway Chase was about as scripted as a Three Stooges skit about a week back.
DATELINE: Dry Humor
We’ve been told in no uncertain terms to lay off David Ortiz. The Big Papi had to sit out a game in the hot Florida sun because it dehydrated him.
We hesitated to point out that old people all suffer from this because the body thermostat loses its effectiveness after a certain age. We just didn’t know that age was 39.
In our day, being 39 was thought to be a symbol of youth’s last glimmer. If 39 is the new 50, then Jack Benny has lost his funniest joke. And, the Red Sox have found it.
Some people questioned how a man who sits in the dugout during the game, under shade and next to the watercooler can possibly overheat.
Some people have wondered how a man whose entire career has avoided hot grass and sun-drenched playing fields could suddenly fail to avoid those.
Others are questioning the rigorous spring training regimen that Dudley Do-Right Farrell has imposed on his out of shape roster.
You might say that Ortiz should have spent the winter in Boston, shoveling out his car every day. He’d be far more sympathetic to the hot Florida sun.
But, a cadre of voters for including Big Papi in the Hall of Fame have accused us of cruelty and injustice. It’s almost as if we have taken umbrage at Deval Patrick for wanting $7500 a day to promote the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. How dare we deny a man his livelihood? How dare we attack an icon for being iconic?
Hey, we’d probably vote to convict Aaron Hernandez too. Call us callous.