Two longtime rivals help Boston sports years later

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Two longtime rivals help Boston sports years later

Kevin McHale and Magic Johnson were rivals in the 1980s as members of the dueling Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. They faced off in 19 games during three NBA Finals, with the Celtics winning the NBA title in 1984 and the Lakers taking it all in 1985 and 1987.

McHale fought to deliver championship triumph to Boston while Johnson was determined to deprive the Celtics of that glory. The division was clear-cut and it seemed unlikely they would have much in common besides their intense desires to win (often at the others expense).

Nearly 30 years later they share a new bond. This time, as front office executives involved in blockbuster trades with major impacts on Boston sports teams.

In just his first season as co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson was part of one of the biggest trades in baseball history. The Dodgers took on 271 million in salaries when they acquired Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto this weekend in exchange for James Loney, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., Allen Webster, and two players to be named later.

"This is an exciting day. We did this for our fans. We feel, of course, we want to win now, Johnson said in a press conference, according to the Los Angeles Times (link to: http:www.latimes.comsportsbaseballmlbdodgersla-sp-dn-dodgers-trade-magic...), also adding, "We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this league, and we understood that before we bought the team."

The payoff for each team? The Dodgers increased their chances of winning now. The Red Sox dumped major contracts, opened up salary space, and began a rebuilding process during a tumultuous season.

Five years earlier, McHale was in the opposite position of Johnson. As the Minnesota Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations, his team was struggling to achieve a winning record in spite of having one of the NBAs top stars on the roster. The Boston Celtics, like the Dodgers, were looking to win another title in the near future.

In July of 2007, McHale dealt Kevin Garnett to the Celtics and took on young players Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, and veteran Theo Ratliff. The Timberwolves also received two 2009 first round draft picks (used to select Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn).

"This trade is about improving the Minnesota Timberwolves and improving our team for the future," McHale said in a team statement. "The past few seasons our on-court performance has been disappointing to our fans, myself, Glen Taylor and the entire organization. Through this trade, we have obtained very talented, young players with a lot of potential, future flexibility with the salary cap and two future first-round NBA draft picks. This will not be an overnight fix, but it is the big step in renewing our commitment to build an exciting franchise for our fans."

The payoff for each team? The Timberwolves acquired young talent and began a rebuilding process which has included the acquisitions of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. The Celtics added Garnett, formed The New Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and won the 2008 NBA championship that season.

After battling on the parquet as foes in the 1980s, Johnson and McHale now share a unique commonality over 30 years later.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.