Life and Times of a Sports Journalist: Peter Abraham

Day in and day out sports journalists all over the world are providing fans and media alike with the inside scoop when it comes to our favorite teams. From trades and injuries, to getting that big interview, these men and women are on the front line’s of the professional sports world. I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with 2 of Boston’s best and Sports Journalist Peter Abrahambrightest sports journalists in the game this week— Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, and Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com.

A Massachusetts native, Peter Abraham covers the Red Sox. He joined the staff in 2009 after spending nearly 10 years in New York covering the Mets and Yankees for the Journal News.

CW: Growing up in New England and attending U-Mass Amherst, I can imagine you were pretty excited about starting your career at the Boston Globe is 2009. After being at the Journal News for almost 10 years covering the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, what kind of emotions (if any) did you have knowing you were coming back to home to cover the Boston Red Sox?

PA: My biggest emotions were leaving a newspaper that had treated me very well and given me the opportunity of a lifetime to cover baseball. The editors at the Journal News were great mentors. But the Globe was the paper I read growing up and people like Peter Gammons, Bob Ryan, and Will McDonough were why I decided to go into journalism in the first place. I would have regretted not taking the opportunity to work there. In addition, it was an opportunity to work closer to home and see my family so much more often.

CW: How would you describe the differences between your time in New York and here in Boston?

PA: Covering the teams is about the same. The Mets and Yankees beats, in my experience, are more collegial. In Boston, for whatever reason, there’s more media attacking other people in the media. I’m still not sure why that is. The faux indignation on some topics is kind of comical. The other big difference is the demographics; there are 8 million people in New York and a good chunk of them don’t care much about baseball. In Boston, the interest in baseball is much more widespread and pretty much every Red Sox fan is sure they could run the team better than the people who do. It’s great to cover a team so many people care about.

CW: When 9/11 occurred you were covering the New York Mets, and when the Boston Marathon Tragedy occurred you were here covering the Sox. Would you mind speaking about your experiences during both events?

PA: The 9-11 attacks were more of a personal experience for me. Several of my friends lost people in the towers and I covered sporting events in New York afterward, including the Braves-Mets games when Piazza dramatically homered. In the days and weeks that followed, I was switched over to the news department for some assignments in Westchester including speaking to the families of some victims. It was heartbreaking to witness the funerals and other services.The Boston Marathon attacks were odd for me because I was in Cleveland covering the Red Sox for much of what happened in the days afterwards. It was a helpless feeling because I wanted to be home. In the time since, it has been a great privilege to meet people like Jeff Bauman at Fenway Park along with some of the officers who helped bring the Tsarnaev brothers to justice. As somebody who grew up in eastern Massachusetts, it was great to see how the region responded. Covering the 2013 Sox was a memorable time because you saw up close how the team helped the city move forward.

CW: Social Media, everyone is on it. Fans, media, players. Some people have called you snarky or rude when it comes to your interaction with fans on Twitter. I can imagine you get a ton of far-fetched, ridiculous and just overall dumb tweets and emails (I’ve probably tweeted a few, apologies) how do you go about responding to people, especially the Twitter trolls?

PA: I regret my Twitter persona, I’m sarcastic in person, but more in a playful way. On Twitter, it doesn’t translate and I falsely assume people would get I was goofing around. I should just stop looking at notifications. Ideally, it would be a way to get a sense of how fans think. But Twitter has no sense of humor or humanity. It’s a haven for the irrationally angry and easily offended. The other problem is Twitter has done a terrible job of policing abusive users. Women in the media should not be subjected to the trash they receive.

CW: I read one of your blog posts about your first MLB interview with Sox manager, John McNamara. Being rewarded for your hard work and getting to cover that game, did you feel at all discouraged after Johnny Mac told you to “get the $%#& out of my office”? Did that encounter prepare you for future interviews and how you go about talking with managers and players?

PA: I was too young and idealistic to be discouraged. A few writers there also told me what a crank McNamara was and to ignore it. The rest of the day was so great I didn’t let five minutes ruins it.

CW: For anyone wanting to get involved in reporting/sports journalism, what kind of advice would you give?

PA: Be broad-minded. Learn to write and report, develop your voice and contribute to any platform you can. Video, audio, social media, print, etc. Be completely platform-agnostic. Also don’t be afraid to work your way up. I covered thousands of high school, college, and minor league games before I got a big league beat. Don’t expect everything to come your way right away.

Two Boston Traditions: One City, One Heart

Boston Traditions

Boston is woven out of a fabric of a long and rich shared history; for those moments that belong to more than just a few of us, they are part of a history where recollections are shared. They belong not to individuals, but to all of Boston—indeed to all of New England. That’s part of what makes us different: who we are.

July 4th on the Esplanade, high school football on Thanksgiving, the Public Garden, hot summer days on Cape beaches, the MFA, the Pats, Celts, and B’s— we love and treasure them all. But of all our traditions, none shines brighter or more vividly than the Red Sox, or as we Bostonians say, the Sawwx. Once called the only common religion in New England, their sermons are publicly announced every day from April to October, with the rapt attention of a six state congregation attentively listening.

The Boston Marathon, more than a century old, who among us has not run in it, knew somebody who did, or cheered the athletes on. How many of us have not walked down from Fenway after the 11:00AM Monday morning game to cheer the runners on. Who does not mark the third Monday of each April by the words, “Marathon Day. Hey, Sox at 11:00 too!!”

And if there has always been some momentary crossover of these two great Boston traditions, in the year 2013, they truly intersected. In the wake of the pain, sorrow and shock of the Marathon bombings, it remained for a 6′ 3″ slugger from the Dominican Republic who called Boston home, to begin to give voice to our feelings. We all know what he said by now—most of us by heart. But what might David Ortiz have really meant? I think he was talking in part directly to the perpetrators.

To me anyway, what he was saying was “Is that all you got?”

You think you can knock Boston out with a couple of bombs? No way.

Then I think he was speaking to all of us. Scared, frustrated, and angry, the entire city was on lockdown. We were captives in our own homes and communities.

Ortiz said, “Be strong,” words now part of the national lexicon. I think what he may have meant was be strong together. Like a team. Like teammates. We are all sharing this.

So many suffered so much: the families and friends of the four who passed, and those who were maimed and so senselessly injured. But the juxtaposition of the stunning courage shown by first responders, ordinary citizens and the injured battling their way back seemed again to scream out.

“Is that all you got?”

As the spring turned to summer and then summer to fall, through every single action on and off the field, the 2013 Red Sox seemed to evolve into a proxy for how New England felt. We would never forget, and the Sox sought not to have us remember, but rather to honor. The ceremonies, hospital visits, observances and of course, how they played. Whenever it seemed they were down and out—they came back.

“Is that all you got?”

During the winter, thoughts started to turn to today’s Marathon. What would security be like? Surely the organizers would tighten down on scope and size. Guess what? They actually are allowing 9,000 more runners!

“Is that all you got?”

The horror and losses of Marathon Day 2013 will always be with us, but I think I know with great precision the exact moment when we stopped looking entirely backward, and began to look forward with hope and promise. Once again Boylston Street was lined with millions, surrounding this time not runners, but duck boats. When Johnny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia jumped off of theirs to place the World Series Championship trophy on the Marathon finish line, among the real heroes of that long-ago spring day, who did not take a deeper swallow?

“Is that all you got?”

In memory of: Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier

Sully’s Brand Raises Over $50,000 in Wake of Boston Marathon Bombings

boston marathon bombings

Courtesy of Sullysbrand.com

Sully’s Brand knew they had to do something after the Boston Marathon bombings. They knew they had to give back to a grieving community the only way they knew how: by creating a t-shirt everyone wants, and donating all proceeds of the sales to the One Fund.   Chris Wren opened Sully’s Brand, a t-shirt and souvenir company in 1999. They typically sell off-the-wall slogan t-shirts stating things sarcastic Bostonian’s think, such as “Keep Calm and Bergeron,” “Obi-Wan Jacoby,” and “You Got Rondo’d.” Aside from the comedy, Sully’s Brand finds a way to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in Boston. The Boston Marathon bombings were certainly not to be left out of the conversation starters on their shirts.

The days following the bombings were filled with solemnity.  Something significant that matched the magnitude of what we all experienced on Patriots’ Day. Wren decided to create a T-shirt that said it all, “Believe in Boston.”  This shirt conveyed that we would rebound from this tragedy through a show of strength, dignity, and community. As one of the first products put out to support the One Fund, the shirts quickly sold out. Sully’s Brand employees could barely keep up with demand, working plenty of overtime to fulfill orders.

All proceeds from each $20 t-shirt go directly to the one fund, “to raise money to help those families affected by the tragic events of the Boston Marathon,” states the mission statement of the organization developed in conjunction with Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino. John Hancock, a company located near the Boylston Street bombings, was one of its first donors.

Sully’s raised well over $50,000 selling 5,000 plus t-shirts, and counting, for the One Fund.  If you would like to purchase one of these shirts visit the Sully’s Brand T-shirts at http://www.sullysbrand.com/products/believe-in-boston-blue-and-gold-ribbon-t-shirt

Sully’s Brand has a strong reputation as a company that gives back to their community. Since 2004 they have supported golf tournaments, and put together gift baskets for silent auctions. Previous non-profits that Sully’s donated  items to for fundraising, include the Gabe Kapler Foundation, which raises awareness about domestic violence, the Claddaugh Fund, that benefits a number of non-profit organization such as the Gavin House, a recovery house for those affected by alcohol and drug addiction and the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, among many others. Sully’s does not just sell t-shirts; they also sell lanyards, bracelets, and cell phone cases.

Please support this great company and the city of Boston all at the same time by heading over to http://www.sullysbrand.com.

Stay strong Boston!

Mike Napoli Shines on a Dark Day for Boston

mike napoli

Mike Napoli was king of the day yesterday, until everything in Boston came to a screeching halt as bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Patriots’ Day is the ultimate sports day in Boston. Every year there is always the marathon, a Red Sox game, and perhaps a Celtics or Bruins game in the evening. The people of Boston come together around sports and to celebrate a battle that helped create this great nation.  The Red Sox battled yesterday, too, backs against the wall in a tie ball game against Tampa.

Then in the ninth inning Dustin Pedroia singles to get on base, and then Napoli hit a ball into center field through the crisp mid-April air. The Red Sox swept the series against Tampa.  The sports fans of Boston had another reason to be jubilant this Patriots Day. Unfortunately, this jubilation was short-lived as less than an hour later tragedy would strike.

There will always be good and evil in this world; we just never expect it to happen in our city, in our house. I love sports because they are a positive distraction. We turn to sports in times like these to take our minds off the pain for a bit. It is my duty to remind the people of Red Sox nation to remember how Napoli crushed that ball and created a walk-off win. He was a shining light during a dark day for our city.

Travesty, Fear and Sadness Have Hit the Bay State

travesty

Where were you when you heard what happened yesterday as two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon? I was driving, thinking, “What do I have to do the rest of the day?” It’s unfathomable. After all,  as I was thinking of something so simple and stressing out, many innocent bystanders were in the midst of a brutal attack on our city. It wasn’t until I called my aunt at 6 PM, I found out what really occurred.  Anger, frustration, devastation and panic were feelings that arose as her voice permeated through the phone.  After all, it was a beautiful day in Boston; perfect weather for the runners and perfect weather for the spectators. I remember attending the marathon as a little girl, with my family and family friends. We would always have a great time.  My sisters and I would walk around, vendor after vendor, we would fill our knapsacks with the free gimmicks and what nots, and we would cheer each of the runners on as they passed by.  It was a day when there was no school.  It was exciting. I always looked forward to the Boston Marathon.  Now, well, I feel as if every fond memory of those pastimes was taken from me in an instant, as one bomb after another exploded into the crowd.

WEEI, 93.7 has full coverage, all day today, of the travesty that took place at around 3 PM yesterday afternoon. I have been enveloped in it all morning – 176 injured, 3 dead and 17 in critical condition.  Martin Richard, the 8 year old boy who died, moments before the bomb went off, ran into the street to give his father who was on his way to finishing the marathon, a hug.  When he returned to his mother and sister, the bomb detonated and he was dead, his mother suffers from a brain injury and is in critical condition, and his younger sister’s leg was amputated. Those are the memories that many families will have as the Boston Marathon draws near year after year.  That’s what I am going to remember every time I think of the Boston Marathon now.  Not only did those responsible for these inhumane acts take lives and devastated families and friends of these victims, but they also took fond memories of the way it used to be, of the way it should have been, and of the way it should always be.

martin richard

Eight-year-old Martin Richard, pictured above, was killed in an explosion at the Boston Marathon as he waited to give his father a hug at the finishing line. Denise Richard suffered a brain injury and his younger sister lost a leg in the blast.

It’s crazy to think 45 minutes before the explosions fans were in the stands at Fenway Park cheering on the Boston Red Sox, who took another victory against the Rays. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Mike Napoli hit a two-run double which made it possible to win the game.