Boston Red Sox

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.

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.