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Sports Columns

On The Trail: Oxbow summit

It’s a hot, hazy mid-afternoon, storm threatening, me standing atop Mt. Sugarloaf, a Pioneer Valley landmark whose summit view never gets old to an old guy who climbed it often as a kid. Standing beside me on the lower tier of the observation tower is Dr. Marjorie Holland, a scholar passing through old haunts from her current Ole Miss station, where she teaches biology and, according to her online profile, specializes in: plant ecology and systematics, wetlands ecology, landscape ecology, riparian-systems ecology, biogeochemical cycles, and 0

Keeping Score: A Manny moment

Good morning! In Arizona this summer Greenfield’s Joe Hudson got something the Red Sox would love to include in their rewards program: a big bear hug from Manny Ramirez. The 42-year-old slugger is currently a player-coach with the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, having come full circle from when he was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 1993. To get in playing shape, Ramirez worked out at the Cubs’ minor league complex in Mesa, here Hudson is interning as 0

Jaywalking: Winning formula

Paul Barnard has been around the sport of auto racing for 30 years, but earlier this season, the Montague resident did something he had never done before. He won. Barnard guided his No. 24 1985 Monte Carlo across the finish line in first place to win the 25-lap race in the Thunder Stock Division at Monadnock Speedway on May 10, marking his first career victory. Before you get the wrong idea, Barnard’s story is nothing like that of infamous thoroughbred Zippy Chippy, the most famous 0

Keeping Score: The Darke side

Every four years a soccer ball crosses over the horizon and we become enthralled with a sport that’s worshiped every place but North America. Thrilling as the U.S. team’s game against Belgium was on Tuesday, it was a loss and it sent the Damn Yankees home with an all-time record of 8-18-6 in World Cup competition. Despite all the hullabaloo that the U.S. is on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender on the world stage, the team’s 15th-place finish wasn’t as good as 2002 0

Jaywalking: Name game

Lunchtime on the farm has taken on a new look recently. Typically, my father and I congregate around noon for about a half-hour break to eat a sandwich and some fresh vegetables while watching the noontime newscast. But since the start of the World Cup about three weeks ago, we have also spent the break watching some of the games that begin at noon. I’ve got to give my father credit. All you hear from many people over the age of 50 is soccer disdain. 0

Keeping Score: After the gold rush

Good morning! Tuesday’s ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court to allow an anti-casino referendum on November’s ballot promises to liven up the debate about the pros and cons of slot machines and table games in the Commonwealth. A poll published by the Boston Globe reported that voters would keep the casino bill intact, 52 to 41 percent, but a lot can happen between now and Nov. 4. The first hour after the polls close will indeed be gut wrenching for casino executives, construction workers, and 0

On The Trail: Slowdown

The summer solstice has passed, gentle summer breezes are intermittently dislodging small white mock orange flower petals and dropping them to the ground by the bulkhead, the Connecticut River temperature had passed 70 degrees, and the American shad run is, for all intents and purposes, over. Although it has been many years since I’ve been down to the water’s edge to witness the annual phenomenon, I am quite familiar with the drill. By now, the female shad have established lairs, where small schools slowly circle 0

Jaywalking: Helping hands

You’ve probably heard by now or even seen the photos in Saturday’s Recorder, but somehow you know that PGA professional Jason Dufner was hitting balls at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston Friday. The golfer, currently listed at No. 19 in the world golf rankings, was in the area over the weekend to host a number of events for the Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the Chase Your Dreams Now initiative. The event, billed as the Dream Weekend, was organized by executive director 0

Keeping Score: And all his horses

Good morning! All hail the Kings, winners of two Stanley Cups in three years, patched up and sent back onto the ice by trainer Chris Kingsley, the kid who grew up on Elm Street in Greenfield and hung out with his buddies at Jimmy’s Market, now JC’s on the corner of Conway and Willow streets. An exercise physiology major in college, Kingsley leapfrogged from Cushing Academy to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs to becoming the Kings’ head trainer in 2006. The New Jersey Devils’ training job 0

On the trail: Shell, stone

The loud, sudden, crunching, crashing halt to a power mower’s roar — a sound you’d hate to hear when mowing your lawn — and a maiden voyage to the top of a familiar Pioneer Valley landmark are on the front burner of discussion this week. First, the grinding, earth-rattling sound I heard while walking the dogs Monday morning, having just turned the corner onto the short second leg of my daily Sunken Meadow ramble. It sounded bad, like the wide gray mower attached to a 1