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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Events’

Matsuzaka Looks Solid in Red Sox 2-1 Win

Posted by Ace Staff on April 2nd, 2008

Sometimes performing in front of a home crowd can add a lot of pressure on a pitcher. Last week, Dice-K Matsuzaka felt the heat and looked very shaky in front of over 44 thousand fans at the Tokyo Dome in his home country of Japan for the 2008 MLB season opener. Last night, Matsuzaka looked like a dominant force and led the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the two team’s stateside debut.  ”It’s only something I can say in hindsight, but it would have been nice to pitch like this back in Tokyo,” Matsuzaka said through a translator, noting he’s more comfortable starting his second season in the United States. “I guess you could say I’m getting more and more used to it, but I haven’t really thought about it. A lot of it is how people perceive me, and that might be one of the results.” Over 6 and 2/3 innings, Matsuzaka allowed only 2 hits, walked no one and recorded 9 strike outs. After allowing a leadoff home run to Jack Cust in the 2nd inning, the Sox temporary ace retired the next 17 batters he faced until he was relieved by fellow countryman Hideki Okajima in the 7th inning. Manager Terry Francona was very happy with the performance his second year pitcher provided for the ball club. “I thought he pitched with a lot of heart,” the skipper said. “He made a lot of good pitches. I thought the pitch to Cust was a pretty good pitch. He did a great job.” The Sox trailed 1-0 until Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI single scored Kevin Youkilis to tie the game 1-1 in the 5th inning. Youkilis was 3-4 on the night and plated both the Red Sox runs. The go ahead and winning run would come in the 6th inning when Jason Varitek slammed an RBI double to the right center field gap, knocking in Youkilis. The Sox captain came up with the big hit, but couldn’t say enough about his battery mate’s pitching effort in the win. “He had good command of his cutter and slider. He put himself ahead in the count and that enabled us to utilize his strengths,” Varitek said. “He threw strikes with both his slider and cutter, to righties and lefties, then late he had some pretty good life to his fastball.” Jonathan Papelbon recorded the last four outs, including striking out the side in the 9th inning for his second save on the year. In the final match up of this four game, two country, week long series, the Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound to face off against Oakland’s Rich Harden. The two faced each other in Tokyo, Japan in the second game of the season a week ago with Harden coming away with the victory. He pitched 6 strong innings allowing only 1 run on three hits. Following this series, the Red Sox head out to Toronto for a weekend series vs. the Blue Jays and then prepare to return home for their Opening Day at Fenway Park in which they will take on the Detroit Tigers on April 8th. During the pre-game ceremonies on opening day, the Red Sox will receive their 2007 World Series Championship rings. Tickets are still available for Red Sox home games this year!

Allen, Celtics Win 4th Straight

Posted by Ace Staff on April 2nd, 2008

Ray Allen knows that the Boston Celtics can play with anyone in the NBA. Last night, that unfortunate opponent happened to be the Chicago Bulls and Allen’s 22 point performance helped lift the Celtics to a 106-92 victory. The win also inches the team that much closer to locking up the # 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston is currently 6 games ahead of Detroit with only 8 regular season games remaining. Even with the best record in the NBA at 59-15, Allen believes that they aren’t the favorites coming out of the East. “It’s not like we won last year,” he said. “We’re all pretty much new to the situation.” He’s right, last year the Celtics had the 2nd worst record in the NBA at 24-58 and were hoping for either the 1 or 2 picks in the lottery draft trying to land one of the top prospects to begin a rebuilding phase for the organization. And as fate would have it, the Celtics ping pong logo ball did not come up until the 5th spot breaking every Celtics fan’s heart. With the off-season acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the draft day disappointment became a memory of the past, visions of the future began to look much brighter and an organization that was once a dominant force in the league was resurrected. The last two Celtics victories have proven that the team can win with both its defense and its offense. Over the weekend, the C’s held the Heat to 17 field goals and only 66 points on the night. That field goal total was the lowest in NBA history since the shot clock era. Last night, the Celtics nailed 14 three-point field goals and shot over 49% from the floor. They can do it all. “We knew what we were facing (against Boston),” Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas said. “I think everybody in the room knew what we were facing. They’re not the best team in the league, record-wise, for nothing.” Thomas scored 24 points, leading the Bulls in the losing effort. Allen shot 5 of 7 on the night from behind the arc, while fellow guard Paul Pierce hit 4 of 5 shots from three point land and ended up with 17 points. Kevin Garnett pitched in a solid 20 point effort and grabbed 7 boards in the win. “The 3-point line can be very tricky at times,” Allen said. “You have so many open looks, and I know I’m capable of making them. Paul knows he’s capable of making them, but I think there’s a stigma attached when you shoot too many threes—you’re settling. But the way our offense is, we go through the post. Sometimes, that’s the shot that’s available.” The Celtics are back in action again tonight when they travel back to Boston to take on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are battling for the final playoff spot in the East and currently are 3 games behind Atlanta in the standings but 4 of their remaining games are against teams with less then 30 wins, and they also have a key game vs. Atlanta. The Celtics on the other hand are going for win number 60 on the season, the last time the franchise had a 60 win year was in 1986 en route to their 16th NBA Title. Did someone say Green 17?

Bruce Springsteen Extends 2008 Tour

Posted by Ace Staff on March 28th, 2008

A Bruce Springsteen show is not like any other concert you’ve been to, it’s an experience. For decades crowds have packed arenas, stadiums, parks and venues to see the Boss live and no matter what they might have paid for their tickets, always come away satisfied with the performance. Bruce Springsteen always puts together an amazing set that goes well into the night and unlike many other entertainers, there is never a time limit to a show with “The Boss”. Springsteen’s current 2008 tour features 54 shows in 44 cities and 14 countries. The man will travel the globe to make sure all of his fans get a taste of his music. On average, a Bruce show will showcase 23-26 of his songs and last around 3 to 3 ½ hours long. He will mix in new music with classic favorites such as The Promised Land and Reason to Believe. During this current tour, Springsteen has ended each show with the widely popular hit song American Land. The Boss will continue to tour in North America for the month of April before he journeys overseas in late May to resume the tour in Europe. Springsteen’s tour will head back to North America in July for three shows at Giants Stadium and one show at Gillette Stadium. If you’ve been to a Springsteen show, you know that the first thought after its over is always, when is his next one? Hopefully for his fans, the Boss continues to tour for a very long time because he is truly one of the most entertaining performers of this generation. Check out the schedule and grab some Bruce Springsteen tickets today.

Impressive 2nd Half Effort Lifts Celtics Over Suns 117-97

Posted by Ace Staff on March 27th, 2008

The “M-V-P” chants reigned down on the parquet floor as Kevin Garnett hit two free-throws late in the fourth quarter in his 30 point effort that lifted the Boston Celtics over the Phoenix Suns 117-97 yesterday evening at the TD Banknorth Garden. This was Boston’s first win vs. the fierce Western Conference opponents in six tries, and only their third win against the team since 2001. In a game that was tied at the half 57-57, the Celtics came out and played an inspired type of basketball on the defensive end of the court that in return sparked their offensive production. The Suns were held to only 16 points in the 3rd quarter, an impressive stat considering they were coming off a 37 point 2nd quarter showing. “You could hear the guys when we walked in [the locker room at halftime] saying, ‘We need to do this, we need to do that,’ said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers on boston.com. “And we said, ‘We need to do what we’ve done all year. We’re making no changes.’ And we were very stern; I was very stern about that. That we’re not going to make a change. We’re going to play it our defense… And so we went over what they were doing, and we showed if we played our normal defense, that we’re able be a better team than trying to change. And they did that in the second half. And they were all great at it. So it was a great lesson for us.” After watching the Celtics performance last night, the rest of the NBA may have learned a lesson as well; you have to play hard for 48 minutes against this team or else you’re in for some serious trouble. All of the Celtics starters were in double figures for points, led by Garnett’s 30. Paul Pierce had another great performance dropping 27 points on 9-16 shooting from the field and perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line. Kendrick Perkins contributed with a double-double grabbing10 boards and netting 13 points. Ray Allen had a quiet night but still produced 14 points and recorded a season high 8 assists in the win. Rounding out the five, Rajon Rondo also scored 14 points with 6 assists but more importantly kept Suns PG and former MVP Steve Nash in check. “I just wanted to make Steve play defense on the opposite end,” said Rondo on boston.com. “I made a couple shots early, then I missed a couple, but I went back to it and still made my shots.” The Suns had won 7 in a row before making their East Coast swing and were welcomed with two games against the top two teams in the Conference; Detroit and Boston. Detroit handed them a 109-105 overtime loss on Monday and the Celtics added to their woes with last nights pounding. So, which team in the East is better? “It’s a toss-up,” said Nash after the loss. “Both are terrific teams; two of the favorites, that’s for sure.” Toss up or not, the Celtics currently hold a 6 game lead in the standings over the Pistons and with last nights win improve to a dominating 24-5 record against the Western Conference. Detroit’s record vs. the West currently stands at 20-8, the second best in the East only behind Boston’s. The Celtics are home again on Friday with a rematch against the New Orleans Hornets. Led by another MVP candidate Chris Paul, the Hornets beat Boston last week in New Orleans so the C’s will be looking to settle the score with another strong showing tomorrow night.

Dave Mathews to Kick Off Summer Tour in May

Posted by Ace Staff on March 26th, 2008

Ever since their first tour in 1994, Dave Mathews Band has been selling out shows across the country year after year. Their live sound draws large crowds to huge venues and along the way, the band has even recorded a few live albums during their tour stops. The 2008 Dave Mathews Band tour looks to be another great show to add to your calendar, and to accommodate fan requests, the band is even adding a few new stops where they will be playing shows at as well. One of the treats about this tour is going to be the band debuting songs from their newest album which has yet to be released. They are currently recording the tracks in the studio working with some artists including Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Alanis Morrissette. Former guitarist and good friend of the band Tim Reynolds will be playing on the album as well, making his first recording with DMB since the album “Before the Crowded Streets” was released in 1998. There are 54 shows scheduled during the summer tour, and DMB will be making stops in 40 different cities. The tour kicks off on May 30 at the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA and wraps up with three shows at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, CA on Sept. 5, 6 and 7. Some of the cities along the way where DBM will rock out include Hartford, CT, Mansfield, MA and George, WA. If you haven’t already, contact Ace Ticket today with any of your Dave Matthews ticket needs. Listed below are the tour dates and locations for the 2008 DBM summer tour! Fri 5/30 – Post-Gazette Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA  Sat 5/31 – Post-Gazette Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA  Tue 6/3 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ Wed 6/4 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ Fri 6/6 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL Sat 6/7 – Busch Stadium – St Louis, MI Mon 6/9 – DTE Energy Music Theatre – Clarkston, MI Tue 6/10 – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain – Scranton, PA Fri 6/13 – New England Dodge Music Center – Hartford, CT   Sat 6/14 – New England Dodge Music Center – Hartford, CT  Tue 6/17 – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – Darien Center, NY  Wed 6/18 – Molson Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON Canada Fri 6/20 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY Sat 6/21 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY Tue 6/24 – Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, MA Wed 6/25 – Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts – Mansfield, MA Fri 6/27 – Hersheypark Stadium – Hershey, PA Sat 6/28 – Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge – Bristow, VA Tue 7/1 – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Charlotte, NC Wed 7/2 – Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC Fri 7/4 – Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park – Charleston, SC Sat 7/5 – ROTHBURY – Rothbury, MI Mon 7/7 – Lakewood Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA Wed 7/9 – Ford Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL Fri 7/11 – Cruzan Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL Sat 7/12 – Cruzan Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL Sun 7/20 – Mile High Music Festival – Commerce City, CO Tue 7/22 – Qwest Center – Omaha, NE  Fri 7/25 – Verizon Wireless Music Center – Noblesville, IN Sat 7/26 – Verizon Wireless Music Center – Noblesville, IN Tue 7/29 – Crew Stadium – Columbus, OH Wed 7/30 – Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, OH Fri 8/1 – Louisville Slugger Field – Louisville, KY Sat 8/2 – AutoZone Park – Memphis, TN Tue 8/5 – Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, OH Thu 8/7 – Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater – Virginia Beach, VA  Sat 8/9 – Alpine Valley Music Theatre East – Troy, WI  Sun 8/10 – Alpine Valley Music Theatre East – Troy, WI Wed 8/13 – AT&T Bricktown Ballpark – Oklahoma City, OK Fri 8/15 – The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – The Woodlands, TX Sat 8/16 – Superpages.com Center – Dallas, TX Tue 8/19 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA Wed 8/20 – Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA Fri 8/22 – Coors Amphitheatre – Chula Vista, CA Sat 8/23 – Cricket Wireless Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ Mon 8/25 – Raley Field – West Sacramento, CA Wed 8/27 – USANA Amphitheatre – West Valley City, UT Fri 8/29 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA Sat 8/30 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA Sun 8/31 – Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA  Fri 9/5 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA Sat 9/6 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA Sun 9/7 – University of California, Berkeley – Greek Theatre Berkeley, CA

Red Sox Capture Season Opener With 6-5 Win in Japan

Posted by Ace Staff on March 25th, 2008

The reigning 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox picked up right where they left off with today’s 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the inaugural game of the 2008 MLB season. It took the Red Sox 10 innings, some late heroics, and a clutch hitting performance by Manny Ramirez to pick up the win in Tokyo, Japan, but the sold out Tokyo Dome crowd of 44,628 loved every minute of it. In his return home, Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka’s pitching performance was not at all like what the local fans remembered when the young hurler was last throwing for the Seibu Lions in 2006. Known for his arm strength, it was not uncommon for Matsuzaka to pitch a complete game and throw 140 pitches in his outing. Last season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made sure to monitor his pitch counts and only allowed the MLB rookie to go the distance on one occasion. In his season debut, Dice-K threw only 5 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 2 hits. He struck out 6 Athletics while allowing 5 walks on a total of 95 pitches, only 51 for strikes. Both of the earned runs he allowed were scored in the first inning, one coming on a Mark Ellis homerun that cleared the left-center field fence. The walks hurt him early, forcing him to pitch out of two bases loaded situations to get out of the first and second innings. The Sox trailed 2-0 until they came to bat in the 6th, plating 3 runs on 3 hits. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double to deep right. Kevin Youkilis followed up with a walk and both were driven in two batters later on Manny Ramirez’s first double of the season. Brandon Moss would pick up an RBI single that would score Ramirez to help the sox take a 3-2 lead. Moss, who was not in the original starting lineup, came up big in replacing J.D. Drew who was a game time scratch with lower back stiffness. Kyle Snyder replaced Matsuzaka in the 6th inning and gave up a lead off single to Bobby Crosby, followed by a home run to Jack Hannahan, which put the Athletics back on top 4-3. The duo of former Red Sox relief pitchers Alan Embree and Keith Foulke shut the Sox down in the 7th and 8th innings before handing the ball over to closer Huston Street for the 9th trying to preserve the win. After retiring Mike Lowell on a fly ball to center field, Street tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball by Brandon Moss which ultimately ended up landing over the right-field wall for Moss’s first major league home run, knotting the game at 4 a piece. Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless 9th to give the Sox a chance to win the game in extra innings. In the 10th, the Sox led off with a Julio Lugo infield single. A sacrifice bunt by Pedroia moved Lugo into scoring position with only one out. Youkilis would then strike out swinging, and the Athletics elected not to pitch to David Ortiz with two out, intentionally walking him to face Manny Ramirez. Not a good idea. Ramirez would lace a two out double to deep center-field knocking in Lugo and Ortiz for RBI’s number 3 and 4 on the day to put the Sox ahead for good. Jonathan Papelbon would come in and pitch the 10th to record his first save of the year. He allowed three hits and a run in what was a very shaky and nerve racking inning for Sox fans to watch, but in the end he was able to get Kurt Suzuki to ground out with two runners on base to close the game. Okajima recorded the win in front of his countrymen while Street took the loss. It wasn’t the prettiest victory you’ll see this season, but it was a win nonetheless and the Sox along with Red Sox Nation will take it without question. Tomorrow in the second game of two on the Japan trip, John Lester will take the hill for the Red Sox and square off against Oakland’s Rich Harden in a match up that features two pitchers who saw limited action last season due to long stints on the DL. Lester’s final outing last season was when we posted the victory in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series in Colorado. Baseball season is officially underway, which means Bostonians can get back to their lives and stop pretending they like the Bruins. From now until October, its all Sox, all the time! Red Sox tickets are available for all 2008 games.

Red Sox Tickets Top March Sales

Posted by Ace Staff on March 24th, 2008

While the Red Sox get set to open their 2008 season in Japan on Tuesday, Sox fans back home have been planning their own 2008 trips to the ballpark. As always, demand for Boston Red Sox tickets has been through the roof. March typically sees a large jump in Red Sox demand but this year’s demand is above average. One reason for this is the successful 2007 season the Sox had. Coming off another World Series win, Red Sox nation is anxious to start the 2008 season defending that title. Although high demand does make it hard to offer low prices on Red Sox tickets, Ace Ticket has been able to allocate several discount games for the 2008 season. Discount game availability will change throughout the season. For the latest Red Sox discount inventory check our Red Sox discount page. It usually goes with saying that Red Sox ticket sales will dominate the Spring and Summer months but the Celtics playoffs should make for a competitive April and May. Regardless of which team garners more demand, its a win-win for Boston sports fans.

Celtics Complete 3 Game Sweep in Texas

Posted by Ace Staff on March 21st, 2008

With last nights 94-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics accomplished something that hasn’t been done in seven years. That feat would be the good old fashion ‘Texas Sweep’ or when an NBA team comes in and beats the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks all in the same road trip. The last team to come into Texas and beat all three of the powerhouses was the Sacramento Kings in November 2001. The win didn’t come easy for the Celtics who trailed the majority of the second half, and even were down with less then one minute to play. Ray Allen nailed a 3-point field goal with :31 seconds left to pull the Celtics ahead 90-88 and they were then able to hold off the Mavs offensive attack for the remaining time on the clock. “This feels good,” said Allen on nba.com, who’d missed three games with a jammed left ankle. “It’s something for the rest of the NBA to watch.” The C’s capitalized on shooting very well from the charity stripe hitting 30 of 35 attempts (85.7%) on the night which helped balance out an ugly performance from the floor where they were only 30 for 87 (34.5%). The PG combination of Rajon Rondo and Sam Cassell combined for a dismal 1-16 shooting display which dragged the teams overall percentage down, but the effort was enough for a win. Paul Pierce had another solid performance recording a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebound. Kevin Garnett had equally impressive numbers with 20 points and 13 boards. Allen finished with 21 points and all the heroics that were needed to secure the victory. The Mavericks were led by PF’s Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard who scored 22 and 24 points in the losing effort. PG Jason Kidd was held to only 2 points and Dallas is now 0-7 to teams with winning records since he was traded to the team before the deadline. “We’re just right there in a lot of these games,” said Jerry Stackhouse on nba.com, who scored 17 points. “It’s disappointing to keep coming up short.” The loss was the second consecutive loss at home for the Mavericks, the first time that had happened all year. It doesn’t get any easier for Dallas, San Antonio is in town on Sunday and the Spurs have beaten the Mavericks in their last two meetings. Last night’s win was the Celtics 14th victory in 15 games. They are currently 4-0 on their road trip with one game remaining on Saturday vs. New Orleans. During the month of March they’ve held opponents to an amazing average of only 87 points per contest. During the ‘Texas Sweep’ the Celtics held All-Stars Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady and Jason Kidd to a total of 20 points, together the trio averages 52. Not bad, right? Not bad at all. The Celtics continue to roll with no plans to stop until a 17th banner is hoisted at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Bruins Continue to Struggle vs. Canadiens; Lose 4-2

Posted by Ace Staff on March 21st, 2008

It’s been a while since the Boston Bruins can remember what its like to beat the Montreal Canadiens, and nothing changed with last nights 4-2 defeat at the TD Banknorth Garden. With the loss, the Canadiens have now beaten the Bruins in ten straight games, tying a franchise record for consecutive wins over the B’s. The record could be extended when the two teams meet for their final regular season match up this Saturday night in Montreal, but not if the Bruins have something to say about it. “The onus is on us to change this,” Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward said on yahoo.com. “It sounds bad to say, but I thought we were better against them tonight. Shame on us if we are not ready for them on Saturday.” After a scoreless first period, Alexei Kovalev scored twice in four minutes for the Canadiens to put them in control. The goals were his 32nd and 33rd of the year. The Bruins were able to cut the lead in half before the 2nd period ended with a Mark Stuart goal only 27 seconds after Kovalev’s 2nd score, but continued to let the Canadiens dictate the play on the ice looking totally out matched and over powered. Montreal took a 3-1 lead on Michael Ryder’s 14th goal of the year only 6:47 into the 3rd period. The game was all but over after Andrei Kostitsyn’s 22nd goal with 8:47 left in the period. The Bruins gave fans a chance to cheer about something with a goal 3:05 left on the clock by Dennis Wideman. Too bad that at that point there were more Canadiens fans left in the stands then Bruins. Carey Price made 34 saves in the win for the Canadiens with another solid performance in net. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas stopped 26 shots but his second half of the season struggles continue. Thomas has allowed 22 goals in the month of March in only 6 games. “Some teams just play well against other teams, and that’s just the way it goes,” Price said on yahoo.com. With the win, the Canadiens move into the first place spot of the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins are clinging to their playoff life in the seventh spot, and have four teams within four points of them in the standings. Over the past 10 games, the B’s are only 2-5-3 and have not looked like a playoff caliber team. If the Bruins drop into the eight and final playoff spot, and the Canadiens hold their ground atop the Eastern Conference, the two teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs. That situation is very possible, and over the next few weeks the Bruins will do everything in their power to not let it happen. They’d much rather face New Jersey in the first round whom they have had some success against this year. But in the NHL, nothing is guaranteed so the Bruins playoff hopes lay in their own hands, well in their case, sticks.

Red Sox Ship Out to Tokyo For Season Opener

Posted by Ace Staff on March 20th, 2008

After stepping up to the plate for team coaches, staff and crew yesterday by refusing to take the field for a spring training game, the Red Sox are now safely on their way to Tokyo, Japan to kick off the season after threatening to boycott the trip entirely. The team learned earlier this week that players were the only ones receiving stipends for the time overseas, and voiced that if their staff was not taken care of as well, they would not step foot on any plane. Manager Terry Francona supported his player’s decision to not take the field in their spring training game until MLB resolved the issue for all parties planning to travel. “I want to make this real clear,” Francona said on redsox.com. “This was not a case of players being greedy. This was a case of players uniting together. I think that’s part of the reason we’re good. There was no disrespect to baseball. We made sure the Blue Jays knew that. It was a very difficult position everybody felt we were in and it got resolved.” The spring training game was delayed over an hour while representatives from the Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Players Association and MLB conversed until an agreement was reached to increase the stipend for the attending staffs on the trip. “It was a misunderstanding,” said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell on redsox.com. Francona actually spoke on the phone with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig twice during yesterday’s hectic midday happenings in Fort Meyers. Selig made it clear that his biggest concern was just to ensure that both games would be played in Japan in front of the sold out Tokyo Dome. An hour and four minutes after the scheduled first pitch of yesterday’s game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox finally took the field after they got the official word from MLB that their coaches, staff and crew would be compensated in Japan. The Blue Jays were very cooperative in waiting out the temporary boycott. “You don’t expect to see that, but I was kind of glad it happened and I was kind of impressed with those guys,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on redsox.com. “Not only are they a very talented team, they’ve got something special over there. That’s a team. They stuck their necks out for the coaching staff — those guys they admire and stand by — and that helps us all. There are only two teams that can get away with that: Boston and New York. That’s good to see.” With all of those issues behind them, the Red Sox set out to embark on another championship caliber season with high hopes to defend their 2007 World Series title. The club returns almost everyone from last year’s 40-man active roster and believes that the chemistry is there to make another magical run into the post-season. The Sox open the year with a few tough series that could set the tone for the season. First they will face the Athletics for two games in Japan, followed by two more games in Oakland the first week of April. A three game series against the pesky Blue Jays follows on the road, and will take place before the Sox return home to Boston and Fenway Park. Bostonians already have their calendars marked for April 8th, some may even consider it a holiday. It’s the day the boys come back to town, and not only that, it’s the day they receive their 2007 World Series rings. Trying to spoil the party will be the revamped Detroit Tigers lineup which features some new faces that make them another threat coming out of the AL Central.  Now if that’s not exciting enough, fans won’t have to wait much longer for more action because following the Tigers series, you guessed it, the New York Yankees are in town for their first visit of the season. Come on, what’s not to love about the next few weeks? To put it simply, that beautiful time of the year has come again, no not spring, baseball season. The only thing left to wait for, those two magical words that give every team the idea that this could be their year. A clean slate, a lineup full of optimism and a nation full of believers only means one thing, the time has come. It’s time to… Play Ball! Get your Red Sox tickets now.