ALL EDITIONS SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 003 LENGTH: 315 words HEADLINE: Hub cop brings hockey to the desert BYLINE:BY MICHELE MCPHEE BODY:
At an army base in Tikrit, there is a spot that makes Boston cop Andrew Fay feel like he's behind the Bruins bench at the old Garden, rather than the deadly Sunni Triangle.
At the end of a dangerous day, soldiers at Fay's base are given a reprieve from the sweltering heat and blinding sandstorms at a makeshift street hockey rink created in the base's gym.
Players slap the ball into camouflage netting tied to posts. Dueling goalies duct-tape cardboard and strips of old mattresses to their knees for pads. Hockey sticks are fashioned from odd pieces of wood and metal.
Guys with Massachusetts accents thick as concrete are pitted against soldiers from New York and Philadelphia: Army compatriots but rink rivals. During each sweaty pick-up game, the soldiers' weapons are strewn on the sidelines, easily retrieved in case they are called into combat or come under fire.
``It didn't matter how bad the equipment was. It was a taste of home,'' said Fay, a National Guard staff sergeant. He was home on a brief leave to visit his wife, Elizabeth, and four children in West Roxbury.
Fay has spent nine months serving in Iraq, and is leaving Tuesday morning for another four months before his time there is up. He is one of eight Boston cops serving overseas.
But when Fay arrives back in Tikrit, the gym in the middle of the Sunni Triangle will look like the Boston Garden in its heyday. Yesterday, Bruins Vice President Charlie Jacobs outfitted Fay's team with brand-new gear at the TD BankNorth Garden as his four kids, Matthew, 19; Taylor, 13; Ryley, 6; and William, 5 looked on.
``This is utterly fantastic,'' Fay said. But as glad as he is to be bringing the gear to the guys overseas, it will be difficult to say goodbye to his kids.
``There is a job to do, a mission to complete,'' he said, his face serious. As Ryley clutched his finger and smiled at her daddy, he added, ``And hockey to play.'' LOAD-DATE: August 12, 2005
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The Boston Herald August 12, 2005 Friday
ALL EDITIONS SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 032 LENGTH: 320 words HEADLINE: Editorial;
No meeting in the middle BODY:
Cindy Sheehan has achieved what she set out to achieve when she dragged her sleeping bag to President Bush's Texas ranch this summer: drawing national media attention to her crusade against the Iraq war, which claimed the life of her 24-year-old son, Casey.
And let's be honest, isn't that what Sheehan's well-publicized campout is really all about?
More than a meeting with the president, which she is demanding, Sheehan went to Crawford in search of a broad platform from which to protest the administration's policy in Iraq. She found it.
She arrived on a bus emblazoned with the words, ``Impeachment Tour.''
She was escorted by a Greek chorus of 50 protesters chanting ``W Killed Her Son.''
Her story has appeared in all of the major newspapers and on the television networks.
But Sheehan says she won't leave Crawford until Bush meets with her again. Their first meeting came last year, when the president visited a group of families whose loved ones died in the war.
It must be tempting for Bush's staff to have him stroll down the dirt path to meet with this grieving mother.
But really - will the president be able to offer Cindy Sheehan any words that would ease her troubled mind?
He has already tried. After their first meeting, Sheehan told the Vacaville (Calif.) Reporter, that she knew Bush was sorry, that he is a man of faith who felt some of her family's pain and is sincere in wanting freedom for the Iraqis.
Today, she has changed her mind - and her story.
It's not surprising her anger over the war that claimed her son's life has deepened. But in a truly incredible revision of history, Sheehan now accuses the president of approaching their meeting last year ``like it was a party.''
Rather than offering her comfort, Sheehan says it made her more angry. In other words, it was a bust.
It's doubtful she would approach a second meeting with the commander in chief, a man she so obviously hates, in any other way. LOAD-DATE: August 12, 2005
ALL EDITIONS SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 006 LENGTH: 326 words HEADLINE: Soldier aid bills languish BYLINE: By DAVE WEDGE BODY:
State officials wasted no time symbolically dedicating a $15 million bridge in Westfield to the Massachusetts National Guard, but at least 30 bills to give Iraq vets improved benefits continue to collect dust on Beacon Hill.
Bills to give soldiers scholarships, tax breaks, better health care and pensions remain stuck in legislative committees.
``I think (the bills) need to be fast-tracked,'' said state Sen. Jack Hart (D-S. Boston), whose soldier brother-in-law heads to Iraq next week. ``We need to capitalize upon this sentiment, especially in light of the fact that we don't do a great job with veterans in this country.''
Several lawmakers yesterday acknowledged that the bills are stalled but said they expect swift action in the fall. State Rep. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) blamed delays on a glut of bills to help returning G.I.s, as well as changes in legislative committees.
``Something that's a no-brainer is kind of being kicked around,'' Brown said. ``Hopefully come September and October these will start to move faster.''
While the legislative logjam on actual benefits persists, a symbolic nod went ahead Saturday, when Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and Westfield representatives dedicated a refurbished Route 20 bridge to the Guard.
Becky Blais, a Framingham paramedic whose police officer husband is based in Tikrit, had to fight to continue her husband's municipal health benefits after he was deployed. A bill barring towns from denying benefits to municipal workers called to active duty is among the stalled legislation.
``These people obviously don't have anybody in their immediate circle affected by the war because if they did they would think a little differently,'' Blais said.
State Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), who is co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs, said the federal government is ``doing a lousy job'' with veterans funding but hopes lawmakers will pass a comprehensive soldiers' benefit package this fall. LOAD-DATE: August 9, 2005
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The Boston Herald August 8, 2005 Monday
ALL EDITIONS SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 022 LENGTH: 293 words HEADLINE: Editorial;
Peace of mind in time of war BODY:
The last thing any soldier dodging bullets in Iraq should have to worry about is whether his wife has enough money to pay the mortgage back home.
A bill moving through the Legislature would help, by creating a special fund to benefit military families in need - at no mandatory expense to taxpayers.
The state Senate has passed the bill, and the House should do the same when it resumes formal sessions in a few weeks.
The Military Families Relief Fund would be financed through a voluntary check-off on state income tax returns as well as through private donations. Families of Guard and Reserve members called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, would qualify for grants for rent, child care - even grocery bills.
The fund would be administered by a nonprofit set up in 2003 to support the families of recent call-ups.
At least 10 states have created similar funds, signed into law by Republicans and Democrats alike. In Illinois, more than $3 million has been distributed to 6,100 military families.
Some companies, along with state and municipal governments, continue to pay deployed soldiers their civilian or government salaries. But many don't, and those families encounter unexpected financial hardships during deployment.
The generosity of the American public is legendary, seen in the outpouring of millions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Now, in a time of war, people WANT to help, but too often they don't know who to give to. The fund would offer an easy option.
With thousands of volunteer soldiers sacrificing their family's financial security to protect the security of our nation, there is no more deserving group. LOAD-DATE: August 8, 2005
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ALL EDITIONS SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 022 LENGTH: 702 words HEADLINE: Letters to the editor BODY:
Wal-Mart rap unfair
I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart, and I am completely sympathetic to the Lynches' dilemma. However, the Herald's one-sided, poorly researched article unfairly casts Wal-Mart as the bad guy (Aug. 4).
While town variances are essentially geared to the repair of failed systems (which this one could be), it is still possible for a variance to be granted for compassionate reasons. If the Avon Board of Health refused the variance request, the Lynches can appeal directly to the Department of Environmental Protection.
As for connecting to a sewer line by tying into Wal-Mart piping, that in itself is not just something you can do on a whim. That's a private line. Both the DEP and the town would have to approve. How would connection and usage fees be calculated? Who would pay? How about Wal-Mart's liability?
While the Herald is right about health care costs devouring budgets, it's not just municipalities that we should be worried about (``Cities and towns hungry for reform,'' July 28).
Does the Herald actually think taking health care out of collective bargaining will help people? Members of negotiating teams try to do what is best. Both parties sit down in good faith to write a contract with give and take on each side.
The government should be looking at good affordable health care for everyone in the commonwealth, not just themselves. Maybe Senate President Robert Travaglini, Gov. Mitt Romney and other state lawmakers should show by example and start paying their fair share of the health care they have.
- Michael Goodson, North Adams
Vice President, IAFF Local 1781
`Terror' term too much
I am appalled at the Herald's spate of references to drunken drivers as terrorists (Editorial cartoon, Aug. 1). Has it simply become the fashionable term for anyone considered a bad guy?
A terrorist deliberately plans and carries out an action to cause mayhem, chaos and death. Terrorists are radicals motivated by particular agendas.
Drunken drivers might be meatheads, bozos, hazards to society and criminals, but please let's not get carried away with this near McCarthy-like trend of labeling any social undesirable a terrorist.
Who's next? Smokers?
- Iskander Koval, Dorchester
Church will outlast woes
Regarding Bonnie Erbe's column, this self-proclaimed non-Catholic but avid follower of church history should find solace and answers in the words of the renowned historian Will Durant: Everything was in flux but the church (``Peter's rock could be Catholism's big tent,'' Aug. 4).
Amid the revolutions, she faced resolutely the vital question that confronted her: Adjust her doctrine to the new ideas or stand un-moved and wait for the pendulum to bring men back, in humility and hunger, to her consolations and her authority? History illuminates her steadfast resolve. The Catholic church will always remain strong because of it.
Whether CIA agent Valerie Plame authorized or suggested that her husband investigate the Iraq-Niger uranium connection is irrelevant to the main issue of why Robert Novak named her (``It's the CIA that won't get the facts straight,'' Aug. 2).
Novak admits ignoring the admonition not to name her because no one in the CIA ``told me that Valerie Plame Wilson's disclosure would endanger herself or anybody,'' and that a little digging in public records would reveal it anyway. Why didn't Novak's often cited (by him) 48 years of experience prompt him to realize that Plame was irrelevant to whether her husband's now undisputed conclusion that there was no Iraq-Niger uranium link was accurate and that outing her as a CIA agent was potentially dangerous? My answer: Either Novak's extreme partisanship led him from caring, or worse.
- Eugene Lucarelli, Arlington
Coldplay is no U2
I enjoy Sarah Rodman's columns but think she has been swept up in media hype (``Is Coldplay the next U2?'' Aug. 5).
It is all a plot to push CD and ticket sales. Coldplay is one of the few who stand out among a dearth of talented rock acts today. U2 is in a league of their own. Their B-sides are better than Coldplay's singles.
Bring back the '70s and the '80s, when rock really meant something.
- Peter Robb, Holliston LOAD-DATE: August 8, 2005
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The Boston Herald August 7, 2005 Sunday
ALL EDITIONS SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. B06 LENGTH: 3277 words HEADLINE: COVERING ALL BASES;
Foundation built on strong young arms BYLINE: By Tony Massarotti BODY:
Amid the never-ending saga of the Manny Ramirez Chronicles, one of the most important developments of the 2005 Red Sox season took place last Sunday. With the team leading the American League East roughly three weeks after the All-Star break, the first two Red Sox pitchers in the game were Jon Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen, who, combined, are only five years older than David Wells.
So as the July 31 trading deadline came and went, the real story in Boston was not that Ramirez stayed. The real story was that the Papelbon, Delcarmen, Anibal Sanchez and Jon Lester all remained in the Red Sox organization, as did Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia and even Kelly Shoppach. And for the first time in a very long time, there is anticipation in Boston about legitimate, bona fide prospects who could be here for years to come.
That is what winning a World Series can do for you.
It can take the emphasis off the past and allow you to once again plan for the future.
``We're extremely excited about it,'' Sox general manager Theo Epstein said recently. ``Our long-term plan revolves around incorporating young talent from our farm system onto our big league roster every year. Now that we're starting to see it, it's exciting. It's a great feeling to have major league-ready players on the verge of helping the big league squad.''
Epstein believes that winning the World Series had no bearing on his decision-making as the recent trading deadline passed, but that is highly debatable. Had the Red Sox found themselves in first place amid an 87-year drought, the pressure to make a deal at the deadline would have been substantial. Epstein and his entire baseball operations staff have shown tremendous poise during their tenure in Boston, but Red Sox fans (pre-championship) were not nearly as rational as many of them are now.
So even if the Sox might not state it directly, here is the general truth: With relatively little available at the deadline, the Sox decided that their young pitchers, in particular, could have as much of an impact on their season as any potential trade acquisition. In the process, the Sox can allow Delcarmen and Papelbon, among others, to get acclimated to the major leagues. And assuming Sox manager Terry Francona employs discretion when using the youngsters - and Francona will - all of that can only help when the Sox show up for Spring Training 2006.
The Sox sacrifice nothing now. They stand to have big gains in the future. And they can do it all while fighting for a playoff spot on the heels of a World Series championship, a luxury that Dan Duquette never had.
Said Epstein when asked about the opportunity to develop young players: ``There's no replacement for drafting, signing and developing your own players.''
So really, how did the Red Sox get so off course? When Duquette took over the franchise in January 1994, he made the same promises that John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino did in December 2001. In Duquette's early years, the Red Sox drafted and developed Nomar Garciaparra and Carl Pavano, putting in place the two pieces (Pavano essentially became Pedro Martinez) that made the Red Sox what they are now. Duquette also traded for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, two fundamental contributors to last year's world title.
Then, somewhere along the way, the Sox stopped. As the Sox moved closer and closer to a championship, Duquette traded away more and more young talent in hopes of winning an elusive world title. It never happened. And by the time the 2001 Sox disintegrated beneath the hand of Joe Kerrigan, the Sox were that worst of all things:
Old, overpaid and hopeless.
Lest anyone forget, the Red Sox were once an organization celebrated for developing players, from Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, John Tudor, Mike Greenwell, Mo Vaughn, John Valentin and Ellis Burks to Garciaparra. But since the days of Pavano and Brian Rose, the Sox really have not had a crop of major pitching prospects available until now.
Does that mean the current crop of young Boston pitchers will turn into the Atlanta Braves of the early 1990s? No. Epstein, for one, recognizes that injuries and the law of averages will likely weed out a certain number of prospects, as is the case with any team. But all of that only makes depth all the more important, and for the first time in a very long time, the Red Sox have a collection of prospects, particularly on their pitching staffs.
Said Epstein of his young guns: ``Those guys could potentially form the foundation of our pitching staff for a very long time.''
It seems like a lifetime since the Red Sox have been able to say that.
A total collapse
It was probably a matter of time before the Baltimore Orioles parted ways with Lee Mazzilli, especially after speculation last year that Mazzilli would be replaced at the end of the season. That is never a good sign following the first year of a new manager's tenure, so only a surprising summer in Baltimore might have been able to save the manager.
That said, the Orioles' recent tumble in the American League East standings was a bit of a surprise. The possessors of a 42-28 record on June 21, the Orioles went a miserable 9-28 over the 37-game nosedive that ended with Mazzilli's dismissal. That kind of dip is not easy to do in a league defined by parity, particularly when neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees have shown an ability to pull away from the pack in the division.
Instead, the Orioles are the ones who pulled out, having dropped so far that they were actually closer to Tampa Bay than Boston as this weekend's series began.
Of course, all of that has only been the tip of the iceberg in Baltimore, where the last two weeks have produced an array of spectacular failures. First, the orioles believed they were on the verge of a a deal for A.J. Burnett only to have that deal blown apart when Sidney Ponson refused to go to Tampa Bay. Once Ponson agreed to a separate deal that would have sent him to San Diego, Baltimore was thwarted by Phil Nevin, who ended up in Texas. And then, amid it all, it was disclosed that first baseman Rafael Palmeiro had tested positive for steroids, the kind of distraction that an unraveling team did not need.
``It's certainly been interesting,'' said Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. ``It's not a week you want to have very often, for sure.''
Said GM Jim Beattie, speaking specifically of the decision on Mazzilli: ``It's not something that's been brewing for a long time, but obviously there's always a process where you're being evaluated when you're in (managerial) positions. The decision was really made (recently). This is not something where we're assigning blame necessarily. Everybody associated with the big league club - all of us in that room - we're all responsible in some way for where we are right now.''
And where they are is in an utter state of disarray.
Problems in the 'pen
The Red Sox keep saying that they expect Curt Schilling to return to the starting rotation this season, but they are not discounting the possibility that Schilling will remain in his current role. Much of that depends of the improvement of Keith Foulke, who will begin throwing from a mound this week.
Still, in the wake of the Schilling experiment, it is interesting to note that the Chicago Cubs have made a similar decision with Kerry Wood, who will remain in the bullpen until the end of the season. Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he is not certain as to how he will use Wood, but it is likely that Wood will get opportunities to close.
``Whenever they call me, I'll be ready,'' Wood said. ``I just like being out there, whether it's throwing six innings, eight innings or coming in and getting two guys out.''
Said Baker when asked where Wood will fit in his pitching order: ``It could be any time. Preferably from sixth inning on, but you don't know. It could be a couple innings.''
Given ther bullpen problems of teams like the Sox and Cubs, the decision is understandable. While the Cubs have obvious depth in their starting rotation, the Red Sox' strategy down the stretch run may be similar to the one employed by the 2002 Ananheim Angels, who won the World Series despite a thin starting rotation. So what manager Mike Scioscia did was get five innings out of starters like Kevin Appier, then rely on a deep bullpen to mix-and-match his way through the final four innings.
Depending on how things progress for Foulke and Schilling the rest of the way, do not be surprised if the Red Sox employ a similar approach. With the scheduled days off during the postseason, Francona could have a group of Schilling, Foulke, Chad Bradford, Mike Myers and Mike Timlin available, as well as Papelbon and Delcarmen. That is a lot of options for a manager to consider, creating all types of match-up possibilities that would give Francona an edge in close games. . . .
The Red Sox formally announced the departure of Mike Port several days ago, which should hardly come as a surprise given how little the Sox asked of him since Epstein was named general manager following the 2002 season. Port will now work directly with Joe Garagiola Jr. at the headquarters of Major League Baseball, pairing two of the nicer and truer gentelmen the game has known. . . .
Finally, albeit a week late, a sincere congratulations to colleague Peter Gammons of ESPN and formerly of the Boston Globe, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown last weekend. Gammons' credentials speak for themselves. And he will always be the standard against which all baseball reporters are measured.
Tony Massarotti can be reached at email@example.com.
Fastballs and curves
Not long after leaving the Red Sox for the San Diego Padres, former pitcher Bruce Hurst acknowledged that San Diego lacked the passion of the East Coast. Now, apparently, the Padres don't want the passion, either.
During a game at Petco Park last weekend, spectator Jose Enriquez was ejected by stadium security for being ``too loud,'' though it was WHAT Enriquez was saying more than HOW he was saying it.
``I wasn't cussing,'' Enriquez told the San Diego Union-Tribune while admitting that he was leading a chant against general manager Kevin Towers. ``I said `Towers sucks.' Now I'm being disrespectful because I'm saying the truth?''
Said another fan nearby: ``We're fighting for freedom in