Lucky You, Red Sox Fans: It’s Time to Cruise

bosoxWhat do some legendary former Red Sox players, WEEI broadcaster Joe Castiglione, Celebrity Cruise lines and you have in common? The opportunity to have an island-hopping romp together in January 2014, that’s what.

Beginning Jan. 12, 2,886 lucky passengers will leave the real world behind and set sail for seven nights in the Caribbean on one of Frommer’s 2011 “Best Cruise Ships,” the Celebrity Silhouette. This cruise news is a big deal for both Celebrity and Boston—so what can fans expect?

Destination Paradise

Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, the ship first sails to Cozumel, Mexico, for a full day on shore to do as you please. Next stop: George Town, Grand Cayman, for another full day of adventure or relaxation. On to Falmouth, Jamaica, for a day and then Labadee, Haiti (Celebrity’s own private island). Each town offers unique excursions:

  • Mexico: Take a secret river and cavern tour, ride an ATV for an off-road adventure through the jungle, go kayaking or simply relax on la playa (the beach)
  • Grand Cayman: Snorkle in crystal blue waters, visit Stingray City on a catamaran sail or relive the swashbuckling days on a boat complete with a crew acting out real pirate encounters
  • Jamaica: Hike a volcano or have a zipline and bobsled canopy tour through the tropical coastal forest
  • Labadee private island: Ride a coaster and jump on an in-water trampolines at the largest aqua park in the Caribbean, ride jet skis or parasail 400 feet above the sea

On the Ship

There is a full day at sea before arriving back in the U.S., which is a good thing. There are two exclusive cocktail parties for Boston fans to hobnob with some of the organization’s legends, including Castiglione. Drink martinis at a special tasting and karaoke into the night singing “Sweet Caroline” in tribute.

Toss a ball around with Keith Foulke; relax with a cocktail and BBQ with fellow Boston fans on the ship’s Lawn Club; paint a picture in the onboard art studio; grab a craft beer at Michael’s Club; go tax and duty-free shopping at stores of the most luxurious brands like Bvlgari and Versace; try your luck at blackjack in the onboard casino. And eat … eat really well, 24/7.

The trip starts at $910 for a stateroom and goes up from there, according to MLB.com. This price includes an onboard credit of $50, most meals, port charges, fitness centers and events on the ship.

The Partnership

Start looking for Celebrity banners at the games. The Red Sox have recognized the company as the team’s official cruise line. The partnership also includes experiences at Fenway Park, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Celebrity will become present in the park and four times a month will have fan giveaways
  • There will be chances to win tickets to this once in a lifetime trip
  • Each double play executed by the Red Sox this season get a fan $200 off a Celebrity cruise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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An Unlikely Fan

Neil Diamond is becoming a Boston Hero. First, he comes over to Fenway Park a few days after the Marathon Bombings to sing his “Sweet Caroline” song that we all know and love between innings at the park.  Yes, he was a little off key, but hey, he’s 72 years old. The thought was still there.  Don’t forget, he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He is not a Red Sox fan.

Now, Neil Diamond is donating this week’s sales from this hit song to the victims. The track sold 19,000 times. Even the Yankees and Toronto Raptors played this song in honor of Beantown in recent days. It’s nice to see everyone loving Boston, and loving our country. Too bad it had to happen like this! Have a good Thursday everyone.

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Red Sox Sellout Streak at Fenway Park: The End is Near

Say It Isn’t So: I wish I could, but according to Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino  and ESPNBoston.com the longest sellout streak in U.S. pro sports history is likely to end. Lucchino was quoted by ESPN saying ” It’s going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect. Some people have been guessing about it.” Lucchino said “Historically, for all of baseball, the second game of the season has been the toughest game to sell tickets for, so it could be as early as that. I have no doubt Opening Day will be a sellout.” (Opening day is April 8th, the second home game of the season is April 10th)

Going Streaking: Since it began back on May 15th of 2003 the Boston Red Sox have totaled 793 regular season consecutive sellouts. The Sox surpassed the previous record holding Portland Trailblazers mark of 744 this past June. During the nearly 10 year streak, the Red Sox have had seven 90 or more win seasons, six playoff appearances and two World Series championships.

Unfortunately during last few years of this stellar streak, the Red Sox haven’t made it to the post-season since 2009, saw a crippling September collapse in 2011 to miss the playoffs, and suffered a last place finish with a dismal 69-93 record in 2012.  As a result, ticket sales are down for the 2013 season.

Final Thoughts: While it would be sad to see this streak come to a close, one must remember that in sports, all good things must eventually come to an end. The Red Sox have held on to one of the most impressive streaks in sports history for nearly a decade. Regardless of when this streak ends, we will continue to watch, cheer, and believe in the Bo-Sox, the same as we always have.

Do you see the streak ending? When do you think it will end? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox, Napoli Finally Agree To 1 Year Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox have finally come to terms with free agent catcher Mike Napoli as the two sides agreed to a 1 year deal worth 5 million dollars with Napoli potentially earning 13 million dollars based on his regular season performance.

The original deal from the winter meetings signing was a 3 year deal worth 39 million dollars. However, after a hip injury surfaced from a failed physical, the deal went stale. After 6 weeks of  re-negotiating, Nap is on board now and will be used to help out primarily at first base. Napoli will likely also be catching some nights to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia a rest.

Naps Numbers: Napoli’s numbers fell slightly last season with a .227 batting average and 24 HR from his career year in 2011 when he hit .330 with 30 HR. The Red Sox also hope his numbers at Fenway Park continue, as Nap has hit 7 HR with 17 RBI and a .710 slugging percentage in 19 games at Boston. Napoli is a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI.

Final Thoughts: Nap should be a solid addition to the Red Sox clubhouse. If nothing else, Napoli offers flexibility for the roster, and a solid bat in a lineup that could certainly use some pop. Also, getting Napoli for 5 million dollars is an inexpensive move by Boston that should ultimately pay off. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t pan out and is gone at seasons end. What do you think? Will Napoli help the Red Sox or be another Bean-town bust? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Whip Up an Early Winter Meetings Deal

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Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox wasted no time on Monday in making a deal happen with free agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, as the MLB Winter Meetings kicked off in Nashville.

The Sox and Napoli have agreed to a three-year contract worth a reported 39 million dollars. With the signing of Napoli, the Sox now have flexibility at both the catcher and first base positions. Napoli will most likely play first if Boston plans to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the clubhouse. Should Boston trade Salty, Napoli would then likely catch with newly acquired back up catcher David Ross, and clubhouse young gun Ryan Lavarnway sharing time at the position.

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Nap’s Numbers: Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI, he’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Also, Napoli should fit into the batting lineup during home games just fine, as he is a .306 hitter with 7 HR and 17 RBI in 19 games at Fenway Park lifetime.

Final Thoughts: In my opinion this was a great move for the Sox as they’ve added another experienced veteran at a good price to not only help bolster the roster, but add flexibility as well. As always, I want to hear back from the fans on this one. What do you think about the Sox signing Napoli? Who should they sign next?

NHL= No Hope Left

Meaningless Meeting: It was more of the same this week, as the NHL and NHLPA failed once again to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides did not meet with one another, but rather met separately with federal mediators. Despite discussions lasting a total of six hours, no progress was made and no future talks are planned for now, according to sources.

At this point, the only thing that is getting accomplished is the cancellation of regular season games. All games through December 30th have been nixed. That’s almost half of the season gone (roughly 43 percent according to ESPN Stats).

Final Thoughts: Unless something can be done, and soon, I don’t foresee this lockout ending. With nearly half the season wiped out, and neither side budging (with federal mediators help mind you), I fear this season is all but lost. My advice to Boston fans: Watch pre-recorded Bruins games from last season, focus on the Celtics, and start a calendar countdown to opening day at Fenway (116 days by the way), because hockey isn’t being played anytime soon at the Garden.

Throwback Thursday: Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series Champs

ImageTo start this Throwback Thursday off right we must first go back a bit before the 2004 World Series, and relive “The Comeback” that was the 2004 ALCS.

The Boston Red Sox finished the 2004 season in second place in the American League East Division behind the New York Yankees to earn a wild card birth. The season was riddled with uncertainty as injuries plagued the roster, young gun general manager at the time Theo Epstein made bold trades at the deadline (shipping Nomar Garciaparra away for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, later trading a minor leaguer for Dave Roberts) and they had a terrible mid-season slump falling more than eight games back of the Yanks at one point.

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However, despite things looking dreary, the 2004 Boston Red Sox turned things around just in time to make the post-season as they won 22 of their last 25 games. Cabrera, Roberts and Mientkiewicz all played crucial roles in the Red Sox clubhouse during that stretch, and would continue to contribute in the postseason as well.

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After sweeping the then Anaheim Angels in the ALDS the Sox looked poised to finally overthrow the “Evil Empire” as they entered the ALCS against their arch nemesis. As you might remember the series didn’t exactly start the way we had hoped. Boston fell into a 3-0 hole the size of the Grand Canyon and it looked like there was no way out.

But just when the Fenway Faithful thought all hope was lost…something miraculous happened. The Boston Red Sox came to life and roared back into the series. Over the next four games minds were blown, sports writers and analysts were baffled, history was being written right before our very eyes, but no one could even begin to believe it.

Game 4 had the Sox season all but over. Going into the bottom of the 9th Boston trailed 4-3 and The Bronx Bombers had star closer Mariano Rivera on the mound. After Rivera walked Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts came in to pinch run and made the steal that would start the improbable comeback. Roberts would score on a Bill Mueller single to tie the game, and an extra innings two-run blast by David “Big Papi” Ortiz would clinch the first of four victories for the Sox.

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Game 5 was long and grueling, and was again capped off by Papi as he hit an extra innings RBI to score Johnny Damon. Game 6 had Curt Schilling and “The Bloody Sock”, in which Schilling put on an a brilliant pitching performance to capture another victory. Finally, Game 7 featured a grand salami from Johnny Damon which helped seal the crazy comeback, as the Sox won 10-3 and propelled themselves to their first World Series appearance since 1986.

To illustrate just how improbable this comeback was, it should be noted that only four teams in the history of sports with a seven game playoff series (MLB,NBA,NHL) have came back down 3 games in a championship series to win (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL, the 1975 New York Islanders NHL, the 2004 Boston Red Sox MLB, and 2010 Boston Bruins NHL, No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit).

After doing the unthinkable against the New York Yankees the Red Sox didn’t spend anytime relishing in defeating (and embarrassing) their rivals, but instead continued the calamity and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

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I’ll never forget the final out made by then closer Keith Foulke. With two away and the Sox up 3-0 on the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, you could certainly cut the tension with a butcher knife. We all remember where we were in that moment. The batter was Edgar Rentaria, who coincidentally donned the number 3 on his uniform, the very same number worn by Babe Ruth. Foulke got Rentaria to ground right back to the mound and the rest is history. Foulke flipped it over to Doug Mientkiewicz and those famous words, uttered by esteemed announcer Joe Buck, rang out on household televisions and sports bars across the country “Red Sox Fans have longed to hear it; The Boston Red Sox are World Champions”.

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This wasn’t just an 86-year-old curse being broken, this wasn’t just our first World Series title since 1918, this was so much more. This was what generation after generation of Red Sox fans had spent their whole lives waiting for, this was bigger than baseball, this was the one night that washed away decades of pain and suffering, that overshadowed all the spring training whispers of “this could be the year”. There was no catch, no hold up, no disappointment, only joy, celebration, and triumph.

The 2004 Boston Red Sox were unlike anything the sporting world had ever seen. They wrote their way into the history books one game at a time, in the cold nights of October, winning baseballs fall classic and the hearts of millions.

What was your favorite 2004 ALCS/World Series moment? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Legend DUI

By now, most of you have already heard that Red Sox great, Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk was arrested on charges of driving under the influence. He was found asleep behind the wheel in the middle of a cornfield. There was an open bottle of Vodka on the floor of his vehicle. Fisk was brought to the hospital and released from custody the next morning after posting bail.

During his 24 year playing career, Carlton Fisk is most remembered for running down the line, waving his home run fair during the 1975 World Series.

Farrell Introduced

John Farrell was officially introduced as the 46th manager of the Boston Red Sox today at noon. Everyone down the line from Owners, Chairmen, General Manager, and even former and current players were on board to congratulate Farrell. Most of them even stood up to say a few words about him and everyone spoke so highly of him. With much praise about his leadership skills and intelligence all around the game of baseball, it is no wonder why the Sox made this choice so quickly, as soon as they were given permission to speak to him from the Toronto Blue Jays.

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