Keeping Score: Remembering 2022 as the calendar turns

Published: 12/30/2022 1:14:59 PM
Modified: 12/30/2022 1:12:04 PM

Happy New Year!
Before we strap ourselves in for another 365 days of blown saves and warning track fly outs let’s look at some of what happened in 2022 and pay tribute to those for whom, to paraphrase A.E. Housman, the name may have died before the man.

Almost three years after he was shot, the details of why David Ortiz was nearly murdered in the Dominican Republic were reported by the Boston Globe. The story of former Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis’ investigation read like an episode from the Netflix series Narcos. In it, a jealous drug kingpin puts a bounty on a famous athlete and organizes a hit squad to gun him down.

Davis was hired by Ortiz after Dominican authorities blamed the shooting on a case of mistaken identity, which they still believe. The Boston slugger was sitting outside the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo on the evening of June 9, 2019, talking with his friend Sixto David Fernandez. A man in a baseball cap approached from behind and shot Ortiz in the back. Security footage showed gunsmoke from the 9 mm Hi-Power handgun which the shooter pointed at Fernandez. He took two shots at him and both times the gun misfired.

The shooter jumped on the back of a motorcycle but the vehicle crashed as they tried to speed away. They were arrested together with 11 others, and ESPN reported that on Monday all but three were convicted in a Dominican court. The shooter and getaway driver, Rolfi Ferreyra Cruz and Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, both got 30 years. The others got much lesser sentences.

The alleged mastermind and two others were acquitted for lack of evidence. The drug boss whom O’Brien said ordered the hit, Cesar Peralta, was arrested in Puerto Rico on separate charges last December and was extradited to the U.S. Authorities say they have enough evidence to keep him jailed for a long time. Davis waited until Peralta was in U.S. custody before he announced the results of his investigation.

The 47-year-old Ortiz spent 50 days at Mass General Hospital in Boston and underwent several surgeries to repair damage from the bullet that passed through his back and abdomen and grazed his liver. He’s back to good health and is in cheerful spirits, as evidenced by his television appearances during the MLB playoffs.


In August, “cerebrally transformed” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told podcaster Aubrey Marcus that during two visits to Peru he took a drug called ayahuasca (eye-ah-wah-ska). Rodgers claimed the plant-based psychedelic helped him bond with his teammates. “The greatest gift I can give is to be able to show up and model unconditional love,” he told Marcus.

Two weeks later, the NY Post reported: “Rodgers Rips Young Receivers at Training Camp.”


Every decade in every sport has its goat (the bad kind). In baseball it was Ralph Branca in the 1950s, Mike Torrez in the ’70s, Bill Buckner (unfairly) in the ’80s, and in the ’60s it was Yankees righthander Ralph Terry. Born in Big Cabin, Oklahoma, Terry pitched eight seasons in pinstripes. In the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski hit Terry’s first pitch over the left field fence to beat New York, 10-9.

Afterward Terry told reporters, “I don’t know what pitch it was, but it wasn’t a good one.”

His redemption happened two years later when he beat the Giants, 1-0, in the seventh game of the Fall Classic and was carried off the field by his Yankees teammates. Terry died in March at a longterm care facility near his home in Larned, Kan., after he slipped and fell on ice and hit his head. He was 86.


Melvin Townsend III might make abstinence one of his new year’s resolutions. In April, the 36-year-old Townsend was sitting behind Mike Tyson on a flight from San Francisco to Miami when he began pestering the six-time heavyweight champ. According to multiple reports, Townsend tried to get Tyson’s attention by tossing an empty water bottle at him. It worked. Tyson turned around and pummeled Townsend who was allegedly inebriated. The San Francisco DA declined to press charges on either of them.


Longtime Dodgers voice Vin Scully died in August at age 94, six years after calling his last game. Scully used a wonderfully crafted metaphor to describe how statistics have created dull broadcasts: “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”


Hockey hall of famer Guy Lafleur died of lung cancer at age 70. LaFleur’s power play goal against Boston in the seventh game of the 1979 Stanley Cup semifinals remains one of my three worst sports memories, together with Bucky Dent’s home run and Ben Dreith’s roughing-the-passer call against Sugar Bear Hamilton.


Famed soccer writer Grant Wahl died of an aortic aneurysm while covering the World Cup. He was only 49, and in one of his final posts he wrote: “My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you. What had been a cold over the last 10 days turned into something more severe on the night of the USA-Netherlands game, and I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort. I didn’t have Covid [I test regularly here], but I went into the medical clinic at the main media center today, and they said I probably have bronchitis. They gave me a course of antibiotics and some heavy-duty cough syrup, and I’m already feeling a bit better just a few hours later. But still: No bueno.”


Following the passing of 101-year-old baseball writer Roger Angell in Manhattan, former Met Ron Swoboda wrote a letter to the New York Times regarding Angell’s valiant attempt to describe a sport that defies description: “Mr. Angell’s granular grasp of and elegant words about the game I played, while delighting my soul, always seemed to suggest that even the best writer in his best prose could never exceed the beauty of the game itself. Much the same as writing about love can never surpass love itself. But with Roger Angell it sure was worth the try.”


THE YEAR IN SQUIBBERS: Patriots coach Bill Belichick texted congratulations to the wrong Brian for being named the New York Giants coach. Brian Daboll got the job; Brian Flores got the text. … Robinson Cano was named for Jackie Robinson and homered on Jackie Robinson Day. Three weeks later the Mets released him. … NFL tout Hank Goldberg died on July 4. Greenberg was .500 or better picking against the spread in 15 of his 17 years at ESPN. … On July 22 at sold out Fenway Park, the Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays, 28-5. The immortal Kaleb Ort gave up eight runs in two-thirds of an inning. … Three-time NFL defensive player of the year JJ Watt announced his retirement after this season. Asked by Dan Patrick what he’d have done in college with a million dollars in name, image and likeness money Watt replied, “The first thing I’d do is prepay $5,000 in parking tickets.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached at


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