Jacobs and Kraft: From one extreme to the other

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Jacobs and Kraft: From one extreme to the other

On Friday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Patriots owner Robert Kraft dedicated a permanently empty black seat to the memory of this nations service men and women who have been prisoners of war or have gone missing in action. It was a touching tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price for the preservation of the American way of life and just another example why the Krafts are widely regarded as the gold standard for owners in the realm of professional sports franchises.

On Friday in New York, Boston Bruins owner and Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs was doing his best to make sure that every seat at the TD Garden remains empty for the rest of this hockey season.

Has there ever been a larger dichotomy between a towns team owners in the history of professional sports?

On one hand you have Robert Kraft, who is almost universally loved. A rocky relationship with NFL coach-and-prostitute extraordinaire Bill Parcells, and a aborted move to Connecticut, are distant memories for fans who now adore the Krafts and their loving stewardship of New Englands NFL franchise. Their hard work and personal capital have built a new stadium and instilled a championship tradition into a franchise that used to be a laughingstock. The days of the superflush gave way to three Super Bowls and more than a decade of championship contention and relevance.

And on the other hand you have the Jacobs family. Since 1975 Jeremy and company have taken a successful and beloved franchise, rich with history and tradition, with undoubtedly the most loyal following in town, and done everything in their power to turn the fan base against them. The Jacobs legacy, as far as Bruins fans are concerned, is composed of miserly spending, invisible leadership and years of profitable mediocrity. This resulted in over 30 years of promise ending in failure and disappointment. The ledger being in the black was always more import than the Bruins being in contention. Forget one seat; Jacobs had to color half the seats in the then Fleet Center black so the vast number of MIA fans would be less evident to TV telecasts.

You would think that these two couldnt be in any more diametrical opposition than the above examples, but the gulf between the two only widens when you compare the roles Kraft and Jacobs have played in their leagues respective labor disputes.

Robert Kraft is widely credited as the man who instigated the deal between the NFL owners and the Players association during the 2011 NFL Lockout. In-between caring for his wife Myra as she battled terminal cancer, Robert Kraft worked to bridge the gap between the players and owners. Nobody who saw it will ever forget the announcement that ended the lockout where a haggard and drained Kraft was embraced by player rep Jeff Saturday and thanked personally for his role in bringing about labor peace. Football fans all over the country found out on that day what fans in New England already knew: That Robert Kraft loved the sport of football and was there for it and its fans when the sport needed him the most.

Jeremy Jacobs? He is widely regarded as the driving force behind not one but two crippling NHL work stoppages.

In 2004, JJs years of frugality at the expense of contention came to fruition as Jacobs and the rest of the owners finally got the salary cap he lusted for. No Bruins fan will ever forget Jacobs willfully killing off a season in exchange for his precious cap. Nor will they forget that in the process, the best Bruins squad in a decade was gutted during the lockout and it left the team woefully ill-equipped to contend afterwards. But in Jeremy Jacobss world, cost certainty made it all worth it. Bruins fans would beg to differ.

The Bruins suffered through a rebuilding process that included front office turnover, roster churning, and a period of fan apathy like no other. But after years of rebuilding, Jacobs had a sport experiencing record growth, a Stanley Cup and a new chance to rewrite his hockey legacy.

Once again labor related turmoil is threatening the NHL. With the blood feud to establish a hard salary cap behind them, the opportunity for compromise between the players and owners seemed attainable. The chance to mediate a settlement and complete his legacy rehabilitation was there to be had for Jacobs. But unfortunately, there was also a chance at more money.

Instead of stepping to the forefront to broker an agreement and save hockey from another cataclysmic event, Jeremy Jacobs is once again the leader of a cabal of hardline owners determined to line their pockets at the expense of the NHL and its fans. According to some reports, Jacobss mere presence at Fridays meetings may have derailed any recent progress.

Jacobs never was and never will be a caretaker of the game like Kraft. Hes never really been a fan, just a guy out to make a buck. In order to make more money Jacobs is again willing to risk the future of a contending team and a fragile niche sport. In his never-ending quest for a better deal, Jeremy Jacobs is more than willing to spit in the faces of the players the fans. When this mess gets sorted out there wont be a photo op of Sidney Crosby thanking Jacobs with a impromptu embrace, and if Sid the Kid did hug J.J. hed be wise to check for his wallet afterward.

On Friday in Foxboro, Robert Kraft once again proved that he and his family are worthy caretakers of the Patriots. A bust in Canton will bare his likeness because, like the POWMIA slogan, Robert Kraft has never forgotten his role as the caretaker his the team, the sport and the fans he serves.

On Friday in New York, Jeremy Jacobs proved he is once again willing to put his sport at risk for money. The Jacobs name will live in infamy and be forever synonymous with unquenchable greed. Jeremy Jacobs willfully and repeatedly damaged the NHL and the sport of hockey. For this he will never be forgotten or forgiven.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.