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Boston Celtics Featured Columnist: 02/13 - 08/13
Total Article Reads: 358,000
Total Articles Written: 71
Total Comments Written: 518
Named the No. 1 Boston Celtics Writer in April 2013
Named a Top Writer in February, March and May
Earned 92 Awards and Achievements for Reads/Debates
New home: Yahoo! Sports http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1732277/sloan_piva.html
Permanent home: @SloanPiva on Twitter
I'm Sloan (yes, like Sloane Peterson, Sloan Kettering, the Canadian rock band and the doctor from Grey's Anatomy). I'm probably the only one you'll ever meet.
I'm an avid New England sports fan, focused mainly on the Boston Celtics. However, I follow and write about all things NBA, NFL and MLB. When I was 10 years old, I wrote, edited, designed and published a quarterly hoops magazine called "Basketball Digest." Then I branched out to all sports. I guess I got bit by the journalism bug at a young age.
Fast forward 15 or so years later. I just finished my masters degree in Professional Writing from the University of Massachusetts, where I also received my undergraduate degree in communications/journalism in 2011.
I live right on the coast of southern New England, in the same general area I was born and raised. In my spare time, I like to work on my novel, hang out with my beautiful girlfriend and our crazy tuxedo cats, and take photographs of landscapes and sunsets. I also enjoy beer of any and all kinds.
I've worked as a writer for magazines, newspapers, event guides, websites and an NPR radio station. But B/R afforded me the rare ability to mesh my three main passions: sports, writing and opinion. I genuinely enjoyed my six months as a Boston Celtics featured columnist.
Mae West summed up my basic mantra: "you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
Thanks to everyone for their continued support. To follow me in the future, find me on Twitter @SloanPiva or watch for my articles on Yahoo! Sports at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1732277/sloan_piva.html.
Sloan - A few years ago I wrote this story about my experience in Fenway Park in a January blizzard. Sorry to cut and paste this beast in an email. Rod Haynes Seattle, WA
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, was a seven-minute walk from the navy ROTC unit where I was assigned instructor duty from late 1983 to early 1986. In the winter of 1984 I convinced my fellow staff colleagues going in on season tickets for upcoming Red Sox campaign would be a great way to enjoy summertime in Boston. I neglected to mention the quality of the team in those days was mediocre, at best. Everyone, including our Commanding Officer Captain Wills, instantly liked my idea and agreed to contribute to the cost of the tickets. Unlike today, season tickets for seats offering great views of the action down on the field were available at extremely reasonable prices back then. Our plan was to purchase two seats for the entire 1984 home schedule, a total of eighty one games.
One sunny morning, slipping and sliding my way through two foot-high mounds of gray slush and melting snow banks crowding the perimeter of Kenmore Square near University, I skidded my way up and over the frozen Massachusetts Turnpike overpass towards the Boston Red Sox ticket office on Yawkey Way. I passed by the Cask ‘N Flagon saloon, an oasis for the most knowledgeable baseball fans in New England. Cask patrons argued and debated every aspect of Red Sox baseball over mugs of cold beer and greasy burgers and fries throughout the year.
Entering the ticket office brought to mind the first time I passed through the ornate brick entrance to Fenway in the summer of 1967, when I was eleven years old. Dad and I walked up the narrow cement ramps and thickly painted railings leading to my introductory view of the playing field. My young senses were immediately overwhelmed by the color green; the grass, the outfield walls, the green awning ringing the interior of the ancient edifice itself. I was startled by how close the fans were to the game, even for those in the cheaper seats further back from the field. The Red Sox games I watched religiously on black and white television beginning that summer never suggested this kind of visual splendor. The intimacy between players and fans was much more tangible in real life, than on TV. Almost twenty years later, in the dead of winter, I was about to see my beloved park in a brand new way.
Coming into the ticket office from the cold, I was surprised to find two customers in line. But this was Boston, I reminded myself. Minutes later, Bill, the old man staring out at me from behind the ticket window, produced the faded seating chart of the park glued to a large board. Yellowing pieces of scotch tape covered holes in that chart where ticket sellers had picked out seats over the past two decades. We discussed various locations and ticket prices for twenty minutes since I was the last customer in line. I explained the importance of buying the perfect seats for my office mates, as I was already thinking ahead to the 1985 and 1986 baseball seasons. I must be sure to make them really satisfied this inaugural season for our staff.
Bill went on talking about the team’s prospects for 1984. We debated who would play where, how the pitching staff was coming along, and whether we’d finally get to the World Series for the first time in sixty-seven years. I quickly made a new friend after demonstrating my knowledge of, and passion for, Boston Red Sox baseball. Being in uniform helped, with Bill telling me about his wartime experiences fighting with General Patton’s Third Army in Germany in the final stages of World War II.
The old man suddenly leaned back and yelled at his buddy in the back room, “Hey, Chuck, watch da winda for ten minutes while I show dis navy lieutenant the paaak, will ya?” He motioned for me to follow him through a side door and we made our way deep into the building. Passing through a series of narrow hallways with peeling paint, I was surprised at how quickly we made it to a heavy door leading out to the playing field. Bill smiled, watching the anticipation build on my face.
He said, “Brace yourself, lieutenant. You’ve never seen her look like dis before,” as he swung the door open.
We stepped out onto one of the lower concourses on the third base side where I was shocked to find a foot of freshly fallen, pristine white snow in my path even though I had just walked through piles of the dirty, gray stuff on my way over to the park. With its light, granular consistency the snow had blown far past the overhanging roof that protected fans from the unpredictably chilly New England rains in early April and late September. Standing at the navy blue railing I swept aside a foot-long length of feathery snow crystals piled high on the railing. When I instinctively leaned over and blew a puff of the frozen stuff down onto the next row, a pile of ultra-fine white residue blasted upward onto my hair, glasses, and forehead. Bill slapped his knee laughing when he turned to see me covered in white stuff. I silently, sheepishly, wiped the snow and drops of water away as a sudden, wicked headache came on.
Gazing out towards the center and right field bleacher sections, I dreamt about holding a beer in my hand, hearing Fenway Park organist John Kiley pumping out pre-game tunes into the summer twilight. I scanned the infield, looking for the starched, bright white uniforms of Red Sox players dotting the deep, rich green infield grass of Fenway in July, the dark red-colored numbers on their backs with ‘Red Sox’ clean and sharp against the bright white background on their front sides. I could almost see the soft colors of green and red and blue mingling with the mouthwatering smells of hot dogs and popcorn, and peanuts amidst the excited murmur and explosive roar of the Fenway faithful. I imagined hearing the low drone of the play-by-play announcer informing fans of lineup changes that night and the cries of vendors hustling Cracker Jacks, lemonade, and cotton candy.
But, sadly, baseball was in deep hibernation. It would not be back for another three months.
Now I turned towards the swirling piles of white snow and thick gray ice draped over the outfield walls and seats. Even the huge CITGO sign looming over the Green Monster, an integral part of the park’s skyline for decades, stood dark and silent, splotched and abused by winter’s cruel grip. The famous Green Monster in left field, a thirty-seven foot vertically high metal wall, had wind-blown snow and ice clinging to its entire surface. The Monster looked more like a miniature glacier or an iceberg, than one of the most famous left field walls in the history of major league baseball. The massive blob of ice appearing to be three feet thick was a perfect practice site for mountain climbers equipped with crampons and ice axes, I told Bill. For five minutes I stood there transfixed before an icy white landscape of deathly silence, disturbed by an occasional cold wind softly whistling and blowing snow in weird swirls all around the interior of Fenway Park. Bill had seen this more than a few times, but he gazed out onto the field in wonderment like it was his first look at this baseball winter wonderland.
Although I can't say which team the Sox played or who won the game the night I first saw Fenway in June of 1967, at that moment I became a Boston Red Sox fan for life. The Red Sox were 100-1 long shots to win the pennant in April. They came within a single game of winning the World Series against the heavily-favored St. Louis Cardinals, but all of New England was still fascinated by the young upstart team led by their dictatorial, no-nonsense manager Dick Williams. In spite of the race riots in Boston and Providence that summer, the entire region followed their daily progress throughout the season. One June night my family was rudely awakened by a midnight telephone call. Dad angrily yanked the phone off the receiver to learn he was urgently needed in Boston. Three of his friends from Providence had gone to Fenway and drank too many beers at the game. Arrested in their for public drunkeness, they were calling my father to bail them out of jail. Dad dragged himself out of bed and made the trip north to rescue his friends. He was just as displeased about the episode than my mother was.
I told Bill about my three other Opening Day visits to Fenway and how much I looked forward to seeing the Red Sox pummel the Detroit Tigers in early April at the first game. I finally settled on a pair of seats behind the first base dugout, where the entire field could be seen without any obstructions. The cost being most reasonable, I knew my buddies would be pleased with my selection and they were. Still, the Red Sox were pummeled by Detroit on Opening Day 1984, a sign of things to come that season. The Tigers not only won thirty-four of their first forty games, they went on to win the World Series that year. It turned out to be one more season of mediocre baseball for the Fenway faithful, but we managed to have a great time, anyway.
One night in May I taught a class in the center field bleachers. Two days later Captain Wills called me into his office to chew me out for my blatant lack of decorum. Fenway Park was not the place to teach ROTC classes, he sternly lectured me. I was not to ever pull that kind of stunt again. I figured the verbal thrashing was worth it if some of the midshipmen appreciated the beauty, spirit, and integrity of Fenway Park the way I had over the past two decades.
Fenway Park opened its doors for the first time the same week that the TITANIC sank in the North Atlantic in the spring of 1912, the same week that now defunct Tiger Stadium in Detroit opened its doors. Long after I left Boston and, after that, the navy, the Red Sox finally did the impossible: they broke the ninety year curse by winning two World Series, in 2004 and 2007 under the leadership of even-tempered manager Terry Francona. Red Sox Nation is now institutionalized throughout America, with a presence in every ballpark in the American League whenever the Red Sox come to town.
More recently there have been serious discussions about knocking down Fenway to increase capacity since only around 36,000 fans squeeze in there on the best days. But instead of starting anew, the Red Sox have placed more seats on top of the Green Monster and in other places around the park. More renovations have modernized Fenway without ruining the unique character Sox fans have cherished for generations.
Fenway Park still has some life left in it, providing the storied setting for the travails of the Boston Red Sox that afflict the team to this very day.
I enjoy your Celtic articles Sloan.
The Most Unbreakable Sports Record is Johnny Vander Meer's two consecutive no-hitters.
I hear you about Shav, the more I see of him the more he looks like a matchup problem for players who underestimate his athletic ability. I like White even more now that I found out his ties to the team from playing with Crawford at Indiana, as well as Green and Wilcox in Seattle/OKC. But like you said I'll take them both, unfortunately PJ Browns don't grow on trees every year like the magical 08 season.
I'm definitely interested in writing articles at some point in the future. I consider myself to be an all around NBA fan, with a Celtics focus, but the draft is where I make my bread (not surprisingly that's where I came across your article).
So far my most successful work on the internet was a forum post on celticsblog about whether the C's should look into this raw African talent out of Greece named Giannis Adetokunbo for a draft and stash.
If I was to write that's probably where I'd start, I don't exactly have your wealth of experience by any stretch of the imagination but hopefully B/R would be interested in giving me a chance if the work's up to snuff.
Hey Sloan, I've been between computers so I've been B/R'ing from the phone and it's tough to see messages and especially since I'm still in the infancy of my profile.
Just read the Shavlick article and thought it was some really fantastic stuff, Seem's like he has the right attitude and who can argue with the CBA production. I myself however, am actually a pretty big DJ White supporter and was wondering what you thought about him.
I remember last year when he was with the bobcats, White shot something like 8/9 against us and I thought to myself he's either a stat padder or someone who could fit into a rotation as a reliable pick and pop big with a bit of athleticism. I don't think he wants it quite as bad as Randolph but on ther other hand seems to have a game more suited to a role player on this team.
We just signed him untill the end of the year so I ask you this, if you could only take one or the other would you keep Randolph with his hustle and grit or White with his smooth jumper and ability to play a bit higher above the rim?
Amazing piece on Shavlik Randolph man. Great work.
Hey Sloan, sorry I missed your last post. I was off work for a couple days, and then I just spaced out. My bad! Looks like you got the spacing figured out. Feel free to get in touch again anytime.
Hey Sloan, long time no see! All is indeed well. Still fighting the good fight with B/R. How is everything with you?
I'm finally a Featured Columnist now! Please check out my latest article, it's a little different because I did it blog style and another bonus article on fantasy football.
Please provide your excellent feedback!
The Yankees have put together an unbelievable streak of magical wins, but is Yankee Stadium and its short right field porch New York’s “magic wand?” Can sitting back and waiting for a solo HR really translate to October success?
Thanks in advance! I would love to hear your feedback and comments. Take care.
-Stephen (Heartbeat of the Bronx)