McAdam: Sox must address 2011 before 2012 can begin

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McAdam: Sox must address 2011 before 2012 can begin

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They don't play their first game of consequence for almost another seven weeks. They won't play their first exhibition game for another 10 days.

In all likelihood, we won't know how good they are for several months.

But sometime in the next few days, we'll find out an awful lot about the 2012 Red Sox.

We'll learn about their character and resolve and humility and honesty. Who plays right field and who fills out the rest of the starting rotation -- and other honest-to-goodness baseball questions -- in due time.

For now, there are more important issues.

At some point in the next week, a parade of Red Sox players will take to the famed "picnic table," and answer questions from reporters. Naturally, there will be some inquiries about last season, about the September nose-dive that saw the Sox turn a 9 12 game lead in the wild card standings evaporate, and about the unprofessional behavior in the clubhouse.

How the Red Sox answer these questions will be revealing.

If there's a lot of defensive responses, and dismissive "That-was-last-year-I'm-focused-on-2012," answers, it will not bode well. If players angrily suggest that beer-swilling and chicken-chomping was, you know, not really that big of a deal, it will mean trouble.

And if some follow the lead of Josh Beckett and suggest that none of the frat-house activity was anybody's business and never should have been reported, then it could be a long season.

Before the Sox begin 2012, they need to finish 2011. They need to show some accountability and remorse. Maybe an apology is too much to ask, but some humility wouldn't hurt.

Understand, no one should be calling for players to publicly flog themselves as an act of contrition. What's needed here is closure, a recognition that, at the very least, things were not handled well in the dying weeks of the 2012 season.

They owe the loyal fan base that much.

The players can argue all they want that the spectacular crash-and-burn was about pitching poorly and hitting feebly, and to an extent, that's accurate. A few more timely hits and a handful of additional quality starts, and perhaps we never would have learned about the clubhouse hijinks in the first place.

But it's too late for that now. The secret is out and it can't be ignored.

All winter, as the players retreated from sight, there were consequences for others.

The manager for the last eight seasons was, depending on your perspective, either forced out or made to quit. The strength coach who was powerless to reverse the laziness of some marquee players was fired. The loyal bench coach, tainted by association, was not given consideration for the managerial vacancy. A clubhouse manager was demoted and re-assigned.

Meanwhile, there have been few ramifications for the players themselves. Blame it on the nature of the business, where guaranteed contracts present something of a protective force field for embarrassing misdeeds.

Others have spoken. The owners seem alternately incensed and contrite, vowing to repair the damage done to the franchise's brand. New manager Bobby Valentine has promised a fresh start and has seemingly visited every hamlet in New England to deliver the message.

But none of it will matter until the players involved take public responsibility and demonstrate that, yes, mistakes were made and lessons have been learned.

Through their attendance at Fenway and their loyal viewership on TV, Red Sox fans have made a huge investment -- both emotionally and financially -- to the team. They'd like to know that the players, too, care, and that what happened last season -- off the field, especially -- won't happen again.

Again, no self-flagellation is required, no teary soul-cleansing is necessary. But some taking of responsibility would seem to be to be order, an acknowledgement that, yes, in retrospect, professionalism was in short supply last year and that can't -- and won't -- happen again.

In other words, before the new season starts, some closure about how poorly last season ended is in order.

That hardly seems like too much to ask.

OFFSEASON

Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

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Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics turned quite a few heads when they used two of their three, first-round picks on International players.

They were part of a record-setting night for international players, with 15 being selected in the first round – the most ever in NBA history.

But like many international draft picks, it is far from a given that you’ll see either of Boston’s international first rounder picks Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic who were selected with the 16th and 23rd picks, respectively.

While it’s not uncommon for teams to draft international players in the first round and do so with the plan being to keep them overseas for another year or two, the potential hold-up for Boston’s two international picks has more to do with coming to terms on a buyout amount with their current teams.

“We’ve had initial discussions with their representatives,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, when I asked him about it during the team’s press conference to introduce the newest Celtics on Friday. “We have not concluded anything yet. We’re still in that discussion. And I’m not sure about summer (league).”

While it remains an option, a league source told CSNNE.com that it’s unlikely that either player will participate in either of Boston’s summer league squads which will play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Ainge agrees that there are a number of positives one can take from drafting an overseas player in the first round.

But the decision by Boston to draft Yabusele and Zizic in the first round had a lot to do with one thing – talent.

“The reason that these two guys are here, … is because they’re good players,” Ainge said. “The fact that they have people that want them on their teams on the International top level competition, tells you how good players they are. They could easily find jobs overseas at the top level. They’ve earned that reputation. They’re both very productive. Guerson very productive and Ante very good rebounding … now we’re trying to figure out the best way they can help us for their development. We’re working with their representatives on that plan.”

Yabusele, a 6-8, 275-pound power forward, averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. While appearing in 34 games last season, he grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.

Zizic, a 6-11, 250-pound center, distinguished himself as one of the better players in the Adriatic League this past season. He was voted by fans, media and coaches as the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect after averaging 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 24.8 minutes while shooting an impressive 60.7 percent from the field.

Bruins need Hayes to "take his game to another level"

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Bruins need Hayes to "take his game to another level"

BUFFALO -- With it appearing that Loui Eriksson is all but gone from the Bruins with the July 1 opening of free agency around the corner, B’s general manager Don Sweeney must find a way to replace the second-leading point man from last year’s hockey club. With or without a suitable Eriksson replacement at right wing via trade or free agency, the Bruins will also need greater production from their returning wingers on the right side.

That means 20-year-old David Pastrnak needs to have a breakthrough season after the Bruins knocked away attempts to extract him in trade discussions for a top-4 defenseman, and Jimmy Hayes needs to rebound from a streaky, disappointing first season in Boston. The 6-foot-6 Hayes slumped to 13 goals and 29 points in 75 games, and was a team-worst minus-12 while going through long stretches where it was hard to even notice him on the ice.

His GM said that needs to change next season with the Bruins counting on him to play more consistently, and be willing to play the big man’s game.

“We have internal candidates that might have to step up, and David is a player like that…Jimmy is a player like that. There’s no question we’re not a complete team right now,” said Sweeney. “So we’ll go to work now, and that could be through free agency, or through potential trade stuff. It could also be about the excitement if somebody pops from the development side of things. I think Jimmy had a pretty start to the year, but he really tailed off when the team needed him most. He should take some responsibility for that. We had a pretty frank discussion about that to challenge him to take his game to another level, and be able to help out a younger player.

“He played a lot with Ryan Spooner. I have to put ownership on Jimmy in terms of saying ‘Hey, I have to take more responsibility. It’s not just about finishing and scoring goals.’ He has the capacity to do that. He gets power play time and net-front time, and he needs to get to the hard areas of the ice with more consistency. It’s an area that he needs to continue to improve upon. We as an organization feel that we need to have players that are driven to get better.”

As far as the free agent options mentioned by Sweeney, Kyle Okposo and Troy Brouwer would be names to watch closely as they both fight the Black and Gold mold of winger with size, strength and finishing ability.

Clearly there’s no choice but for the 26-year-old Hayes to have a bounce-back season given that he’s signed for two years in Boston at $2.3 million per season, and that they need him with the right side of their forward group in flux. 

Ray Bourque arrested and charged with OUI Friday

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Ray Bourque arrested and charged with OUI Friday

Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was arrested in Andover this weekend, and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol according to multiple reports.

Andover Police told CBS Boston that the former Bruins and Avalanche defenseman was taken into custody around 11:30 p.m. Friday night on Lowell Street. The Bruins legend has lived on the North Shore with his family since retiring from the NHL, and has been a constant presence in the community at charitable events and Bruins functions.

Bourque was released on bail. No additional information was immediately available