NESN Diary: One Boston Day, Jackie Robinson Day (And Other Random Thoughts)


April 15, 2020

April 15 is a day Bostonians never will forget.

Wednesday marked seven years since the Boston Marathon bombings claimed the lives of five people — Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, Dennis “DJ” Simmonds, Sean Collier and Krystle Campbell. It was a horrific day, and it’s easy to remember where you were when you heard the news.

The Boston Marathon is a day when thousands gather on Boylston Street to watch the runners while 37,371 fans pack Fenway Park for the traditional morning Patriots Day game. It’s an all-day affair that’s supposed to be filled with fun, laughter and just enjoying being with your friends.

But April 15, 2013 changed the way we view the Boston Marathon and Boston sports as a whole. The horror and tragic pictures remain engrained in our brains. But in the wake of such a tragedy, we saw people come together. We saw people put aside any and all differences to be there for one another, to reflect, to share memories of the victims.

People took to the streets to clap and cheer when the suspect was found in a Watertown, Mass. backyard hiding out in a boat. And even though Boston still was shaken from what had happened, it brought the city together … and sports helped us heal.

Of course, there was David Ortiz’s epic speech in the Red Sox’s first game back since the bombings. The team donned home jerseys that read “Boston” because, as Big Papi perfectly put it: “This is our (expletive) city.”

And then there was the chills-inducing moment when the TD Garden crowd began belting out the National Anthem prior to the Bruins’ game against the Buffalo Sabres just two days after the bombings.

This still gives me goosebumps.

The Red Sox went on to win the World Series just six months later, a championship that meant so much more than others in the past. Ortiz hit a grand slam in Game 2 that led to one of the most iconic radio calls from Dave O’Brien.

One of my personal favorites from the 2013 Red Sox season, though, was when Daniel Nava hit a go-ahead home run against the Kansas City Royals in the bottom of the eighth. A simple, “Boston, this is for you” from Don Orsillo once the ball officially was gone tied the moment together perfectly.

Even in our worst moments and our darkest days, sports have the power to make us feel better and are able to provide an escape (even if for a few hours) from the evil realities of the world.

And even though sports are on hold at the moment, moments like the ones above are important to look back on.

— Wednesday also marked Jackie Robinson day. The baseball legend broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball 73 years ago on April 15, 1947. Robinson paved the way for so many minorities, even to this day, including Jackie Bradley Jr., who expressed his gratitude for Robinson on Wednesday.

?Without him, there wouldn?t be a me,? Bradley Jr. continued. ?And for that, I?m truly grateful. So thank you, Jackie Robinson. And much respect to you, and your family.?

On this day, all 30 MLB teams wear the No. 42 in Robinson’s memory. Since that’s not possible this year, MLB Network aired Robinson-related games all day on their network.

— Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday explained how sports potentially could return this year.

Safely, of course.

?Nobody comes to the stadium. Put (the players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled, but have them tested like every single week and make sure they don?t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”

As a sports fan, I love this idea. But the safety and health of the players, their families and all the staff involved takes precedent.

— The NFL reportedly has been talking about contingency plans should the season not be able to start on time to the coronavirus outbreak.

OTAs have been indefinitely postponed, while the NFL Draft will be a virtual event beginning next Thursday. Some of the proposed ideas that reportedly have been talked about are a shortened season and playing in either empty or half-full stadiums.

— President Donald Trump held a call with some league commissioners and team owners Wednesday, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Topics discussed were restarting the NHL and NBA seasons, beginning the MLB season and seeing if the NFL season will be able to start on time.

President Trump did not go into detail about the call, but reiterated the desire to get the world of sports up and running once again.

— With Tom Brady out of New England, who will step up and mentor the younger players? Enter: Stephon Gilmore.

?I?m the oldest of six kids, so I always had to lead the way,? Gilmore said. ?I always had to lead by example, and I try to translate that onto the football field. ?Anybody in my locker room, especially the corners, will tell you that I?m willing to teach them everything I know. I try to help as much as I can, because eventually, I won?t be playing anymore. I want those guys to have great careers and do the same thing for the next generation.?

I’m pretty confident in the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year helping lead the way in the Patriots’ locker room. Especially going into a season without their star QB.

— Speaking of the Patriots, their former kicker joined “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday and talked about his reasoning for choosing to undergo season-ending hip surgery back in October.

?If I kept playing on it and I kept doing more and more damage on it, I was looking at being 40 and having hip replacement.”

Yeah, I’m with Gostkowski on this one.

The 36-year-old played in just four games for New England in 2019 and ultimately was cut by the team in March.

— And to end this on a positive note: MassLive’s Red Sox beat reporter Chris Cotillo decided to get involved and help those in need.

Cotillo took to Twitter to auction off some autographed items he collected over the years, while others have donated their own gems. The items go to the highest bidder after donating to the charity that was tagged in the tweet with the item.

It’s been so successful, in fact, that people have been reaching out wanting to donate their own items.


Kudos to Chris.

Stat Of The Day
Cal Ripken Jr. had one heck of a career.

Video Of The Day
Thank you, Jackie.

Tweet Of The Day
Good dogs (insert heart eyes emoji).

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
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