Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Celts Quickie...

In March I was lucky enough to go see the Celtics play the Hornets in "The Hive." The place was absolutely packed and I was the only loud Celtics fan in the place. The Celtics lost the game, and they lost the game because of their second unit. Doc Rivers ran out a lot of the "scrubs" (P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Leon Powe, Eddie House, ect...) in the second and fourth quarter, causing the C's to lose the leads in both quarters. The Celtics were booed the entire fourth quarter when they had the ball. It was unreal. The sell-out crowd was loud and excited about their team, Chris Paul hit some massive shots. The Celtics lost control of the game, it became frantic and they couldn't regain control.
Flash forward to last night in Atlanta. The Celtics this weekend were outplayed by a young team who was energized by a bunch of bandwagon jumpers. The Hawks took the Celtics best shots and bounced back. They found themselves down 16-3 to start game 4 and then went on a 32-10 run. This Hawks team is talented, but they should not have forced a second trip to Atlanta once game 5 is played out.
Am I worried about this entire series now? Yes. Tomorrow night, a game I bought tickets for thinking I would see a series clinching win is much more interesting. I am worried about this game because if the Celtics find a way to lose and go back to Atlanta down 2-3 I don't feel like they can pull this out.
The Celtics are back home, where their defense destroyed a Hawks offense that woke up in Atlanta. If the Hawks are allowed to think they can win in Boston they just might. The first five minutes of game 5 will tell us a lot. Can the Celtics keep a venomous crowd in the game? Will the Hawks continue to attack the basket and get to the line? Will the Celtics not let the Hawks keep up their frantic pace, thus throwing off Sam Cassell and making him take bad shot after bad shot. After what happened to the Patriots I am now trying to remain cautiously opptimistic about this Celtics run. I hope the C's dont turn into the Mavericks last year. A one seed who is booted by an eight seed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Draft thoughts and the pink hat disease

The NFL draft was this weekend, and frankly I have no idea what happened. In an effort to force it into primetime the NFL pushed back the start to 3:00pm instead of the the regular noon start. The first two picks were already known before the the draft even happened, it took away some of the excitement. In my mind there was no need to move the draft back, but hey I will never question the NFL... well not until they punish the Pats again for Spygate, then I will question it.

Speaking of questioning people, it boggles my mind that fans find a way to complain about the draft when the Pats have proven they know what they are doing. The Pats have their criteria for players to fill. They don't care what Mel Kiper Jr. and his hair think of Jarod Mayo and his "value." I am not going to critique the Pats' picks. All I know is they got younger on defense, especially at linebacker and defensive back. The one thing that surprised me was the drafting of a quarterback in the third round, seemed like a strange and early time to take a QB. Anyway, I cannot wait to see how their picks pan out...

One big reason I chose to attend Holy Cross was a columnist on espn.com who called himself the Sports Guy. He was an HC grad who I loved reading each week. He loved Boston sports, except for the Bruins. He felt neglected by ownership and disowned the franchise about 15 years ago. Last week we admitted to getting sucked onto the Bruins bandwagon this postseason.
I would never consider myself a "hockey guy." It never really sucked me in, and I have tried to get sucked in a little, usually around playoff time. Sure it is exciting, but part of me cannot allow myself to ignore an entire league during the regular season then become interested during the playoffs. Most hockey fans would reply "but playoff hockey is different." There lies the problem. I personally couldn't jump on the Bruins bandwagon, sure I listened to game seven last week (no TV at my disposal) but I would never call myself a fan. Although hockey would fight the thought of having "pink hat" fans, there are some. I guess you could call them "playoff hockey fans." If you see me cheering for the Bruins in the playoffs it is because I was on the bandwagon all year. As a fan of the Red Sox and Pats I find the new fans insufferable, they know no players and are off the bandwagon as soon as the team loses. I don't ever want to be like that.

The Sox finally have an off day, good god do they need it. Maybe their trip to Japan is catching up with their bats and their bullpen...


Tiger Wood's secret surgery...

Unreal finish to the English Premier League Season. Chelsea and Man. Utd. are tied with two games each left. United also has to play Barcelona on Tuesday to earn a spot in the Champions league Final. If you are a soccer fan this is the place to check out...

This old woman hates getting woken up from a nap too...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Hits

What a week of sports. Does it make me spoiled to say I am sick of hearing the phrase, "What a time to be a Boston sports fan!" Yes I know it is, and the key is to not let it slip by. This week I bought tickets to see the Sox play the Angels in the first two games in the series. On Tuesday at 1:00pm I had no tickets. By 2:30 I had two pair of tickets. The whole Beckett and Matsuzaka getting scratched was a big kick in the face, but to be at Fenway on probably the two best days weather wise of the year was worth it. The Sox have started in the complete opposite way I expected. The offense picked up Ortiz and managed to hit through his slump. Manny has been off the charts and Ellsbury is proving himself as a lead-off hitter for the next 12 years. He gets on base then flies around them. Watching him score the winning run from on a double down the third base line on Tuesday night was amazing. The guy is a talent, and I must say I am glad they didnt give him up for Santana...really

The Celts are rolling, but I am holding my breath mainly because, well the Hawks had 37 wins. The Celts won their 37th game on February 6. That was two and a half months ago... wake me up in three weeks when the second round starts. Are these guys getting enough rest?

The Pats have the draft this weekend and Matt Walsh is going to squeal regarding "Spygate." The draft pick the Pats lost could have very likely been used to bring Jason Taylor in, who the Dolphins are now shopping for draft picks. That punishment, handed down more than six months ago is finally starting to show its importance. The Patriots lost a player in this punishment. That is worse than anything in my mind. It is a punishment that will last 10 years, especially if the player taken in that spot ends up being a star. It will be interesting to see what happens. I think the Pats trade down. Here is hoping Matt Ryan drops to the seventh pick so the Pats have a good barganing chip. Nothing like a team desperate for a QB on draft day, and I think Matt Ryan is overrated, but that is the Holy Cross grad in me speaking...

If you haven't yet, please check out the video and pictures of my friend John Nicoletta who passed away two weeks ago in a skiing accident.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Weekend in Perspective

In a weekend that was loaded with unreal sports: Red Sox v. Yankees, Trevor Immelman winning the Masters (and feeling horrible for Brant Snedeker), playoff hockey (I watched a Bruin game!), Boston College winning the NCAA hockey frozen four (swallowing my pride a little bit about that one...), I was rocked by a sporting event that happened thousands of miles away in Alaska. A friend of mine, who I worked at summer camp with for two years, moved west and never really looked back. He became a professional extreme skier, conquering mountains and trails that were blazed by only the bravest and most skilled skiers. His career and life were on an up-swing. He was spreading his love of sking to anyone who would listen to him.

In a tradegy that once again puts life into perspective, John took a wrong turn while competing in Alaska and fell down a cliff that was too steep for him to manage with his trusty skis. Even with quick reaction by the ski patrol and EMT there was nothing that could be done. At 27, doing what he loved more than anything, John passed away. In an effort to remember him I have dedicated my page to him until Friday. John Nicoletta was loved by everyone whom he came across. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and always wanted to help. John always managed to touch people with kind words and his contagious smile. He will be greatly missed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Technological Aide

I have been living in an apartment for the past month without a TV. I will give you a second while you pick yourself up off the floor. In this age of massive HDTV's I have been relegated to a 13 inch Dell laptop. This struggle, which some friends have witnessed, is pretty bad. I had a friend over on Saturday of the Elite-Eight, we spent most of the time squinting and trying to figure out what the score was.
This problem of no TV would have killed any sports fan 10 years ago, maybe even five years ago. They would have had to travel to a friend's house or camp out in a bar. Now, you can just log onto CBS.com and presto you have every game you want. I watched the fantastic Championship Game between Memphis and Kansas on my tiny screen as I willed myself to stay up. How many times have you watched a game, stayed up late and it just did not deliver. This game had the feel of a classic when the teams came out smoking in the second half. I stayed up...
I was about to pack it in when Memphis was up 7 with the ball. I was about to click on the "x" but then Kansas stole the ball and made it a 4 point game. I stayed up...
Then Chalmers hit his tying three after Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose missed 5 of 6 free throws. I stayed up...
I woke up the next morning tired but glad I stayed up. It was too good a game to watch, it was too sweet to watch Calipari ignore the elephant in the room (free throw shooting) then have it smack him in the face with its trunk. 
If there is any lesson to the Kansas win, it is do not ignore an issue on your team when it could possibly be debilitating. As a Holy Cross grad who watched them miss too many free throws in upset bids, you have to hit your free throws. Simple as that.

Masters started yesterday, I love it. This tournament is the start of spring, and after the weather we had in the northeast yesterday it was right on time... Tiger wins, watch out for Steve Stricker though...he is too good a putter to not be near the top on Sunday. Freddie Couples will make the cut to break Gary Players' record of 23 straight cuts made... Back Monday with thoughts on the Masters and maybe (gulp) playoff hockey?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Starting things off with a trip...

So it has been a while since my last post on this site. After being lured away from this site to write for the Lunchhournews last year, a decision based on the promise of a couch to sleep on and offerings of delicious late night snacks, I am back! I am hoping to post once to twice a week and keep things fresh.

This week I have something to rant about.... The idea to send teams to Japan and have them play both meaningless and meaningful games seems beneficial to no one, not even Major League Baseball.

The Red Sox traveled to Japan over two weeks ago and have not returned home yet. They have played eleven games and traveled a total of 16,000 miles in 15 days. Seven of those games counted. They started 3-1, but this weekend it seemed the light at the end of the tunnel was too bright for the Sox. They were swept by the Blue Jays in a pretty uninspired weekend of baseball. The bullpen gave up 10 runs in 10+ innings and the offense managed to muster 11 runs.

This trip is going to murder the Sox in April. The best decision the Sox made was not bringing Beckett. He was not his best today, however he didn’t deserve to be responsible for five runs. Manny Delcarmen gave up a grand slam with 2 outs on his first pitch of the game to Frank Thomas.

Not only will the Sox be tired and off kilter all April, their schedule is an absolute murder’s row. They open Fenway tomorrow against the Tigers for three games. Then the Yankess come to town followed by a trip to Cleveland to face the Indians then they stop in the Bronx on their way back. The Rangers and Angels finish up the month of April. That is unreal. 3 playoff teams and also a lot of people’s favorites this season in the Tigers. The bright side of this is that they will have a soft spot in their schedule later on down the road. Could the Sox be reeling so badly by the end of the month that it just won’t matter? It could happen. The Sox play 27 games this month. I think they will be lucky to get out with 12 wins. I hope some home cooking and the Green Monster wake up the offense and settle down the bullpen…

One quick note about college hoops. I was wrong about Memphis when I said they weren’t good enough to win the Final Four. I didn’t even think they had the team to make it to San Antonio. However, their free throw shooting and defense have gotten better. The free throw shooting had room to improve, but the defense which was already a strength is awesome now. Derrick Rose is proving himself as a top 5 draft pick this summer if he comes out. He is a big strong kid who can handle the ball and play good defense. I think Memphis wins tomorrow night by ten. Kansas had their best half on Saturday and won’t be able to keep up with Memphis’ athletes.