From Comcast SportsNetSYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- After his Syracuse Orange had run away to another victory, men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim turned his focus to a far more important matter. Boeheim said Tuesday that "what happened on my watch" will be revealed once police complete their inquiry into child molestation accusations against his former longtime assistant. "I never worried about my job status in 36 years," Boeheim said at his first postgame news conference since Bernie Fine was fired Sunday. "I do my job. What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch." Advocates for sex abuse victims said Boeheim should resign or be fired for adamantly defending Fine and verbally disparaging two former Syracuse ball boys, two of the three men who have accused Fine of molesting them. "Based on what I knew at that time, there were three investigations and nothing was corroborated," Boeheim said. "That was the basis for me saying what I said. I said what I knew at the time." He said he didn't regret backing Fine when the allegations were first made public. "I've been with him for 36 years, known him for 48 years, went to school with him," Boeheim said. "I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. That's what my reaction was. So be it." Fine has denied the allegations. Boeheim received a standing ovation when he walked onto the court that bears his name for the game against Eastern Michigan that the Orange won, 84-48. Boeheim said there's a misconception that he's bigger than the program because of his long tenure and great success. He has 863 career wins, fifth all-time in Division I. "If I was gone today, this program would be fine. This program would do great," he said. "Ten years from now, this program will do great. This is not Jim Boeheim. This is Syracuse University's basketball program. It is not about me. It never has been about me." Asked to comment on Boeheim's status earlier Tuesday, Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor said: "Coach Boeheim is our coach. ... We're very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it." After initially saying Fine's first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments Sunday. "What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found," Boeheim said in a statement. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse." One of the accusers, Bobby Davis, first contacted Syracuse police in 2002 regarding Fine, but there was no investigation because the statute of limitations had passed. Kevin Quinn, a Syracuse spokesman, said police did not inform the university of Davis' allegations then. On Tuesday, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said Dennis DuVal, a former SU basketball player who was police chief in 2002, knew of the allegations against Fine. Fowler said DuVal, who played for the Orange from 1972-74, was aware of Davis' accusations in 2002 that Fine sexually abused him. Because Davis said the abuse stopped 12 years earlier, Syracuse Det. Doug Fox told him the statute of limitations had passed, meaning an arrest was not possible. Fox advised his supervisor in the abused persons unit, but didn't file a formal report. The detective is still with the department, but not in the same unit. A phone message left with DuVal was not immediately returned. Fowler said Syracuse police will change their procedures moving forward. "I was not the chief in 2002 and I cannot change the procedures in place at that time or the way this matter was then handled," Fowler said in the statement. "But what I can and will do as chief today is ensure that moving forward all reports of sexual abuse are formally documented." On Nov. 17, Davis' allegations resurfaced. Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis said the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in the fifth or sixth grade. Boeheim said during his news conference that ball boys have never traveled with the team. A third accuser went public Sunday. Zach Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said he told police last week that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Now the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Secret Service have taken the lead in the Fine investigation. Also Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Fine's wife, Laurie. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine. During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation and she says she knew "everything that went on." On Tuesday night, Boeheim began his postgame news conference by reading a statement: "It's hard to put everything into words," Boeheim said. "I thought a lot today about different things. I'm saddened in many ways by what's unfolded, and I'm looking forward to a time when we can talk and learn from what has happened. "There is an important investigation going on, which I fully support, and I can't add anything to that by speaking more about that now," he said. "The investigation and all that we can learn from it is what is important." Before the game, some fans offered their support for Boeheim. "I feel sorry that he stuck up for a friend," said 40-year-old Mike Wong of Syracuse. "He was just sticking up for Bernie. He didn't understand the situation. I think the chancellor did the right thing." "It's sad," added 29-year-old Michael Knowles of Syracuse. "We've all stuck up for a friend and then realized we shouldn't have. He (Boeheim) didn't do anything wrong." Not everyone agrees. In the last home game against Colgate 10 days ago, Fine's customary seat was left vacant, and players tapped it as a symbolic gesture in support of Fine. On Tuesday night, there was no empty seat. And the Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, was pushing for another empty seat. "We want to keep saying that Jim Boeheim should resign or be fired," Hoatson said.
The Cubs felt so nervous just before a 7:09 first pitch on Saturday night that Javier Baez found the camera looking into the home dugout, waved with a big smile and started pumping his fist, hamming it up for the video board as Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” blasted through the Wrigley Field sound system.
The Cubs then ran out onto the field and systematically destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers, ending this National League Championship Series in six games with a 5-0 win that featured almost no tension or suspense, obliterating for now the narrative around this franchise.
The old stadium still kept shaking, from Kris Bryant’s RBI single in the first inning to the clapping to Anthony Rizzo’s “Intoxicated” walk-up music to a standing ovation for Kyle Hendricks, who outpitched the supposed best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw.
“We don’t care about history,” Bryant said. “This is a completely different team, different people all around. It doesn’t matter. This is a new Chicago Cubs team. And we are certainly a very confident group.”
Sure, 1908 will hover over the entire World Series, which begins Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. But this is the new normal for Bryant, who within two years has won 200 games, four playoff rounds, a Rookie of the Year award and probably MVP hardware.
This team isn’t going away, either. With a chance to win the pennant for the first time since the Truman administration, the Cubs started two rookies who began this season at Triple-A Iowa – catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. – in a lineup that featured Bryant (24), Rizzo (27), Baez (23), Addison Russell (22) and Hendricks (26).
Contreras caught a shutout and posed for a moment at home plate watching his line-drive homer off Kershaw fly into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning. Rizzo – who had looked overmatched earlier in the playoffs – became the first left-handed hitter to homer off Kershaw during this calendar year.
And when Rizzo tried to wave off Baez for the ball Josh Reddick popped up to the right side of the infield in the fifth inning, Baez cut right in front of Rizzo to catch it, continuing a long-running gag among the Cubs infielders.
“I don’t think they’re oblivious, because that’s sort of insulting in some ways,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “They know the history. I just don’t think they care. They think they’re a good team and they love to play. And we have some guys that definitely shine on the big stage.”
Baez – a September call-up last year who couldn’t get an everyday spot during the regular season – showed off his bat speed and unbelievable defensive instincts and emerged as the NLCS co-MVP along with big-game pitcher Jon Lester. Sold on the idea of all this young talent someday coming together, Lester joined a last-place team after the 2014 season, taking a leap of faith, even at $155 million.
“I don’t feel like there’s pressure at all in our clubhouse,” said Almora, the first player Theo Epstein’s front office drafted here in 2012. “There’s just hunger and excitement and desire to win.
“None of us were around in 1945…so we just got to write our own history.”
This is what the Cubs have been talking about since the New York Mets swept them out of last year’s NLCS, since the Ricketts family invested almost $290 million more in free agents, since unconventional manager Joe Maddon made “Embrace The Target” the theme of spring training.
Whatever your preconceived notions of the old Cubs are, know that this group has an amazing sense of balance. They are youthful and experienced. They play as a team and with individual flair. They have style and get dirty. They are analytical and sort of oblivious. They are loose and intense. And the ending hasn’t been written yet.
“We still got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “We’ll enjoy tonight – don’t get me wrong – we’ll have a celebration. We’ll have a good time. We’ll smile, we’ll hug each other, probably get drunk a little bit…but we got some work to do.”
John Hendricks sent a text message to his son at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday: “Good luck tonight!! Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go!!” It ended with three emoji: a smiley face with sunglasses, the thumbs-up sign and a flexed biceps.
The Cubs have bonded fathers and sons for generations, and Hendricks immediately understood what it meant for his boy when the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers minutes before the deadline on July 31, 2012, telling Kyle: “You win in this city, you will be a legend. There is no doubt about it. This is the greatest sports town in the United States.”
This is the intoxicating lure of the Cubs. It didn’t matter that Kyle had been an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth College, and hadn’t yet finished his first full season in professional baseball, and would be joining an organization enduring a 101-loss season, the third of five straight fifth-place finishes.
Kyle’s low-key personality will never get him confused with an ’85 Bear, but he delivered a legendary performance in Game 6, outpitching Clayton Kershaw at the end of this National League Championship Series and leading the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.
Five outs away from the pennant, a raucous crowd of 42,386 at Wrigley Field actually booed star manager Joe Maddon when he walked out to the mound to take the ball from Kyle and bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Kyle, the silent assassin, did briefly raise his hand to acknowledge the standing ovation before descending the dugout steps.
After a 5-0 win, Kyle stood in roughly the same spot with Nike goggles on his head and finally looked a little rattled, his body shivering and teeth chattering in the cold, his Cubs gear soaked from the champagne-and-beer celebration.
“It’s always been an uphill climb for me, honestly,” Kyle said. “But that really has nothing to do with getting guys out. My focus from Day 1 – even when I was young, high school, college, all the way up until now – all it’s been is trying to make good pitches.
“And as we moved up, you just saw that good pitches get good hitters out.”
At a time when the game is obsessed with velocity and showing off for the radar gun, Kyle knows how to pitch, putting the ball where he wants when he wants, avoiding the hot zones that lead to trouble, mixing his changeups, fastballs and curveball in an unpredictable way that takes advantage of the team’s intricate scouting system and keeps hitters completely off-balance.
“Kyle didn’t even give them any air or any hope,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.
Amid the celebration, scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod spotted Kyle’s dad and yelled at John: “You f------ called it!” John – who once worked in the Angels ticket office and as a golf pro in Southern California – had moved to Chicago two years ago to work for his good friend’s limo company and watch his son pitch at Wrigley Field. John had told McLeod that Kyle would one day help the Cubs win a championship.
“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen,” McLeod said. “Ever.”
The media framed Kyle as The Other Pitcher, even though he won the ERA title this season, with all the pregame buzz surrounding Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. Except Kershaw gave up five runs and got knocked out after five innings, while Kyle only gave up two singles to the 23 batters he faced, finishing with six strikeouts against zero walks and looking like he had even more left in the tank at 88 pitches.
“It was incredible,” Ben Zobrist said. “That was the easiest postseason game we’ve had yet and it was the clincher to go to the World Series.
“He’s just so good, so mature for his age. He just has a knack to put the ball where he needs to. He’s smart and he’s clutch. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year.”
Where Kershaw’s presence loomed over the entire playoffs, Kyle has always been underestimated, coming into this season as a fourth or fifth starter with something to prove, and even he didn’t see all this coming. But big-game pitchers can come in all shapes and sizes and don’t have to throw 97 mph.
“He wants the ball,” John said. “Every big game – I don’t care if it was Little League or wherever – he wants the ball. Plain and simple, (he’ll) get the job done.”