Archive | October 2012

(At Least) One More Shot at Banner 18

The Boston Celtics will play a familiar role for the upcoming 2012-2013 NBA season: the old guard that no team wants to play a long playoff series against.

There are some new faces on the Green this year, and General Manager Danny Ainge has assembled a deeper team on paper that many believe can give the defending champion Miami Heat a run for their money in the playoffs.

“[Guard] Jason Terry and the return of [forward] Jeff Green were the biggest moves this offseason,” said Jay Pinsonnault, a 1996 graduate of Northeastern and former co-op student with the team. “Terry basically takes the place of Ray Allen as the legitimate outside threat, while the athleticism and skills of Green provides [Coach] Doc Rivers with another scoring option off the bench.”

After the aging Celtics came up short in a hard-fought seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, there were many questions surrounding how the team would be built going forward. The team selected college stand-outs forward Jared Sullinger from Ohio State University and center Fab Melo from Syracuse University in the 2012 draft back in June.

After the draft the Celtics signaled to the rest of the league they were making another run at a title by re-signing team centerpiece Kevin Garnett to a three-year deal that will most likely take him to the end of his career. Between Garnett, team captain Paul Pierce and the dynamic young point guard, Rajon Rondo, the Celtics will try to compensate for losing all-time three-point shot king Ray Allen in the offseason to the Heat. But Dover, New Hampshire’s WTSN-AM 1270 sports-talk show host Justin McIsaac believes Rondo is key to a successful season for Boston.

“Rondo has to continue emerge as the leader of this team. As far as Rondo goes, they go,” he said. “It will also come down to a couple of breaks like which team stays healthy. Pierce is not a spring chicken and neither is Garnett, so Doc needs to limit their minutes and keep them healthy for the playoffs.”

The Celtics will face increased competition from their Atlantic Division rivals who are anxious to end Boston’s five-year dominance of the division. The new Brooklyn Nets have vastly improved with the addition of Joe Johnson, and the Philadelphia 76ers now boast one of the best centers in the game, Andrew Bynum, according to Pinsonnault. Although Bynum is once again battling knee issues

“The Celtics are still the team to beat,” he said. “Yes their division got better but so did the Green with the additions of Terry, Courtney Lee and Darko [Milicic].”

This new depth has Boston’s fans excited for things to come.

“They definitely became a stronger and deeper team that will be fun to watch,” Northeastern student and lifelong Celtics fan, Sam Zorfas, a political science major at Northeastern 2015, said. “I think you’ll see Pierce, Garnett and Terry not rack up a lot of minutes in the regular season if they want a shot at a title.”

Sink or swim this season, the Celtics will be in the conversation for a championship, but may come up short to the Miami Heat again in the Easter Conference Finals said Pinsonnault. Regardless, fans like Zorfas feel more secure now than at the conclusion of last season because the team has a strong core moving forward as it transitions out of the “New Big 3” era.

“They have a really good core of young guys, and free agents will want to come play with Rondo,” he said. “The Celtics succeed because they play as a team and these young guys will learn from Pierce and Garnett and eventually grasp what makes this team so successful.”

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Historical Commission Saves House on Vineyard Street…. For Now.

In a city that prides itself in its history and turn-of-the-century buildings, Cambridge may soon be losing one of its elder residents.

On Oct. 4, the city historical commission in a 7-0 vote designated the house at 26-28 Vineyard St. as a “building of historical significance,” but that may not be enough to save the structure from being torn down. The house, built in the 1800’s is beginning to show signs of deterioration and according to architect Jookun Lim of Cambridge, it may be too costly to restore.

“When my client bought the property, we did not know tearing down the current building and constructing a new building was a possibility,” he said after the meeting.

Under a city ordinance there is a delay in all demolition projects if the building is more than 50 years old. Then, the historical commission votes to decide if the building has historical significance. If the commission members find it to be the case the project is delayed six months and until all permits for the replacement building have been approved. The commission members can also recommend a building to be considered for landmark status but that vote was not made Thursday. If no action is taken by the city in the six-month period the owner can go ahead and tear down the building.

“Significant is defined by the ordinance very broadly,” said Chairman William King. “It could be anything of individual significance or part of a development like an awning on a building. This house meets the criteria since it is preferably preserved.”

An Irish immigrant, Patrick Quigley, built the house back in the 1862. He was part of the original developers of the Auburn Hills subdivision in Watertown. Quigley and his relatives had bought numerous plots of land when the subdivision was settled in 1848.

In 1966 the owner, James Hazard, built an addition on the side of building. Recently, before Lim’s client, Gonzalo Artigas, bought the property this past summer, the house was used as a rental property.

“Preferably preserved,” is also a general term that in essence means the building is still standing and, if not barely up to safety codes, could be compliant with codes at a reasonable cost. But according to Lim, the house is in a state of disrepair, and needs plenty of work to be brought up to code because the building was almost condemned by the city two years ago. Lim said he would also have to rebuild the stairs.

“The ceilings were very low and I would have to raise the floor for any project,” he said. “After a while it felt like I’d be designing a building inside of a building, and thought it might be more cost effective to take down the building.”

Lim and Artigas presented a design for a contemporary two-unit town house at the meeting. The two units would be constructed next to each other in a staggered design. The property is located near the corner with May Street, and the neighborhood is composed mostly of colonial-era homes.

“I think this design will be different for the neighborhood but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said vice-chairman Bruce Irving. “We just need a more concrete design we all like.”

The two units would be joined in the middle because city law requires that buildings with more than one living unit must be one continuous structure.

However, members of the historical commission did not take issue with the newness of Lim’s design. They did take issue with his lack of a specific design for him to get approval from the commission, which would have by-passed the six month delay.

“What you have here is the beginning of the process, and we are here tonight to show you that we will work with you in that process,” said commission member Chandra Harrington.

Fran Bonacci, a neighborhood resident, was open to the idea of having a more modern-looking home on the street.

“I came here tonight just to better understand what their ideas for the property were,” she said after the meeting. “It’s a nice neighborhood and it’s not within the historic district, so they are not going to have to adhere to as many restrictions.”

According to King the commission will most likely not pursue making the house a landmark, and Lim claims he already has a head start on the project but may wait it out.

“I already have the design for the building done,” he said after the meeting. “We talked to a lawyer and he advised us just to wait the six months because if we come back to them with a design before then, they can pick it apart.”

Valentine, Still the Ringleader of Red Sox Circus?

Sports talk radio host, Justin McIsaac, knows a restless fan base when he sees it, and with impending uncertainty over their team’s manager, Red Sox’ fans are buzzing.

Host of “McIsaac on Sports,” a weekly sports talk show on WTSN-AM 1270 in Dover, N.H., McIsaac said that Red Sox manager, Bobby Valentine, has been put in a no-win situation by the organization. The players have not put their best effort forward this season on the field, and Valentine has been neutered by upper-management when it came to holding the players accountable according to McIsaac.

“It’s complex, because it’s not his fault his team has played so bad, and every time he tried to exercise his authority one of his players would run upstairs to tell [general manager Ben] Cherington,” said McIsaac. “However, he has done a horrible job with what he has been given and he must go for the sake of reviving the team. ”

The Red Sox will suffer their first losing season since 1997, when they went 78-84, and members of Red Sox nation and some media members agree the failure of this team will ultimately fall on Valentine’s head.

“In Boston the manager’s job is just as important off the field as it is on the field,” said Frank Coppola, sports editor of the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald. “As far as eliminating distractions, getting the most out of his roster and dealing with the media, I think he has been a complete failure.”

After 10 years out of Major League Baseball, Valentine was brought to Boston to clean up a toxic clubhouse. Some fans and media members questioned the move as an attempt to gain publicity when the team was not spending money on new players to fix the team.

“I was really surprised when he was hired because it struck me as more of a flair move by the team,” said Michael Dumont, 43, of Derry, N.H. “He has to be fired because he had his chance this year, and he lost control of the team early.”

With a 69-90 record, the 2012 season has been a disaster. And some fans blame Valentine for disrupting any chance of the team putting last year behind them. Most of McIsaac’s callers are in agreement that Valentine was not the sole reason for the team’s failure, but they acknowledge the Red Sox need to go in a different direction.

“The general feeling is, the record isn’t his fault, but he did not solve any issues on the team,” said McIsaac. “He could come across as clueless at times.”

On the players’ end, the Red Sox’ hopes for a rebound year hinged upon pitchers Josh Beckett and Jon Lester being top-flight starters, and they fell far short. In fact, before Beckett was shipped out to the Dodgers he had compiled a 5-11 record and possessed an earned run average north of six. Lester was not much better, going 4-7 in the first half of the season with an ERA worse than Beckett’s, topping off at seven. The hitters never got in any kind of rhythm, and the team never got on track. Valentine’s supporters would argue that this was a flawed team that any manager would fail in.

“This city does not understand Bobby Valentine, and the Red Sox aren’t the team for him,” Lewis Raibley, 21, a civil engineering major at Northeastern said. “I’m from New York, and he did a good job turning the Mets around. I do not think he was the right guy for the Boston job, but if the Red Sox were going to hire him they had to let Bobby Valentine be Bobby Valentine.”

Valentine may soon find himself sharing the same fate as his predecessor in being the scapegoat for the failure of the baseball team on the field.

“He has created too many distractions,” said Coppola. “Francona did so well managing all the distractions, especially with guys like Manny Ramirez in that locker room. On the field Valentine has done fine, but in Boston you have to do more than that.”

Some think this hectic situation represents the dysfunction that permeates the organization. For example, only four players on the roster attended team icon Johnny Pesky’s funeral back in late August in Swapscott, Mass. the day after the team came home from a road-trip.

“This problem starts at the top with [Team President] Larry Lucchino. The organization leaked information about Francona’s personal life on his way out the door,” Jon Campbell, a double major in Asian studies and sports management at the University Colorado and former Red Sox tour guide, said. “[Owner] John Henry is rarely ever in Boston because he spends all his time fixing his Liverpool soccer team, and Lucchino has done more harm to the team.”

The circus surrounding the Red Sox will stay in town for a while whether or not Valentine comes back. And if there is a new manager, fans like Dumont know the Red Sox need more than a coach to reverse their course.

“I think the team will be completely different next year,” he said. “It’s an ebb and flow with all of the teams in this town and right now the Red Sox are down — and it is by their own hand.”