Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The buzz word.

This past Sunday I was sitting watching the Pats destroy the Jaguars when I received a text message from my buddy Burke. It said, "I honestly would not be surprised if they lost in the first round or won a 4th championship." I responded, "I think they may be peaking, unlike the 2007 team."

That exchange led to me seeing a lot of this buzz word "peaking." Brett Favre used it after the Vikings loss on Monday Night, their thir
d loss in the past four games....excellent. Favre said he would love for the Vikings to be peaking, but that they are not. This led me to look back at the last few Super Bowl Champs. Here is how each of them finished the last six games of the regular season:

Steelers: 5-1 (12-4)
Giants: 3-3 (10-6)
Colts: 3-3 (12-4)
Steelers: 4-2 (11-5) Finished year with 4 straight wins.
Patriots: 5-1 (14-2)
Patriots: 6-0 (14-2)
Bucs: 4-2 (12-4)

Total: 30-12

In the past seven years the Super Bowl Champs have gone 30-12 in their last six games. Now this does not include teams sitting players in the last game or two (cough...Colts...cough). It also does not put into play any intangibles. An improving defense, an offense beginning to click, or quarterback making a deal with the devil (Cough...Eli Manning...cough).

Of these teams the one that struck me the most was the Giants. They sputtered through the whole season. They started 0-2. Then ran off six straight wins before their bye week. Then they lost two of three, putting them at 7-4. People were calling for Coughlin's head, he was finished and his players had quit on him. They finished the last five weeks 3-2, but the biggest game for them? The Patriots loss at the end of the regular season. It can't be measured how motivating that battle was, and it is now the rallying cry for anyone who thinks players should not be rested nearing the end of the season.

Peaking is important, and I have decided to make a peak-o-meter for the teams remaining in the playoff hunt, starting with the NFC...The rating is out of a 10 and is taking into consideration how the team has played over the past 5 weeks (with the next week rounding out my six week trial.)

New Orleans Saints:
Peak-o-meter: 3
Record: 3-2
Streak: 2 losses

This team is struggling, and they have not been struggling for just the past two weeks. A month ago this team decimated the Patriots. It was an embarrassment. It made all Pats fans cash in their chips, in the words of my buddy Burke in an angry voicemail, "Over! The season is over." The Saints since have defeated the Redskins in overtime (a lucky win), the Falcons by three, and lost to the Cowboys and the Bucs (who are 3-12).
The catch phrase from 2007: "blueprint" comes to mind when figuring out this team's recent struggles. Teams have found a way to beat them, even in the Superdome. Run the ball and attack a somewhat disjointed secondary. This team produced oodles of points until the last 2 weeks. Scoring 17 in both losses. That reminds me of a team I rooted for in 2007. Anyone know who I am talking about?

If by "your terms" you mean throwing a stupid INT. Then I hope you are
right Brett.

Minnesota Vikings:
Peak-o-meter: -2
Streak: 2 losses

Its amazing how the media can portray Favre to be such an outstanding teammate and person, but as soon as anything bad happens to his team we see him pouting and creating trouble. Favre is a huge fair-weather fan, the only problem is he has to play for the team he is complaining about. On NFL Live today some said that "turning the ball over is in Adrian Petersen and Brett Favre's DNA." Uh oh... are they going to need a blood transfusion before the playoffs?
The Vikings are in a position to lose their first round bye if they lose and the Eagles win this Sunday. Personally, I love watching Favre "unpeak" in December.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Peak-o-meter: 9.75
Record: 5-0
Streak: six wins

Philadelphia's success this decade has been amazing. Sure teams every decade are successful without winning a Super Bowl (Bills in the 90's). But how many teams have a quarterback and a coach who have thought "should I pack my bags and stick a for sale sign in my yard?" more than Andy Reid and McNabb. It is amazing that these two guys have survived as long as they have. Philly fans seem to hate both, but they have brought a great deal of success to the city.
I hope these guys can make it deep into the playoffs. A win and a Vikings loss locks up a bye, but it begs the question. Do they NEED it? They are on a roll right now, would a bye hurt them? Maybe. But they have to play to win, because a loss to the Cowboy could mean they are travelling for wildcard weekend.

Dallas Cowboys:
Peak-o-meter: 6.5
Record: 3-2 Including a win over the Saints....
Streak: 2 wins

What is there to write about the Cowboys? They are so poorly coached and Romo is simply not a good quarterback when he needs to be. This game on Sunday with the Eagles will be huge in their peak rating. They have been playing better, but they are always a team who just does not make me nervous. Another disappointing playoff exit is on the horizon for Cowboy fans I fear.

Are you ready Dallas?

Arizona Cardinals:
Peak-o-meter: 7.25
Record: 4-1
Streak: 2 wins

The defending NFC Champs are just starting to heat up. The one big strike against them, they have played some really really bad teams in the last 2 months. Check out their opponents starting November 8: @CHI, SEA, @St. Louis, @TENN, MINN, @SAN FRAN, @DET, St. LOU. That is astounding. Now, they are beating those teams, but they suck. The only big test was the Vikings game. They went in there and handled their business.

We are left to wonder a few things about this team. Are they road tested now? Can they draw from their massive success last year in the playoffs? Will Kurt Warner stay healthy throughout the entire playoffs?

Sidenote: Will a successful playoff run lock Kurt Warner into the Hall of Fame. It was a debated point last year, but would it be again this year if he took his team to the NFC Championship game or Super Bowl with some big numbers? Just a thought...

Green Bay Packers:
Peak-o-meter: 7.75
Record: 3-1 (6-1 in last 7 though...)
Streak: 1 win

This team is peaking, no doubt. Their defense is a little beat up and they are torched by the Steelers last week in that classic. However, that is their only loss since November 8. They are playing good football and Aaron Rodgers seems to be gaining some steam every week. This is a team that might get lucky with a first round home game in fridgid Green Bay. But they can play anywhere. Ryan Grant could be a ticket to a deep run. Only time will tell...

AFC rankings coming on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Child Star...

So, I avoided writing about this for as long as possible, but I guess it's time. Tiger Woods is a man-whore, there a said it. A few years back in college I wrote an article when another one of my sports idols, Barry Bonds, was going through his denial of steroids. Unfortunately I cannot share that article with you because The Crusader (Holy Cross' paper) is out of order right now.

When I wrote that article I talked about how disappointed I was, how mad I was that the 10 year old inside of me who sat in the seats of Candlestick freezing his butt off was lied to.

I can't wait for this again, whenever he decides its time....

Now I am left thinking the same thing about Tiger. My first memory of Tiger was when he was a 20 year old, he was in full fist pump mode hitting a 45 foot putt catapulting him to his record third straight US Amateur Championship. He was captivating, talented, and down right nerdy. Just watch this clip after he won that event. He is an awkward 20 year old. However, in his interview after he win he says "Tonight I am gonna party like hell." It resonates just a tad differently.

Comparing Tiger Woods to Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens or any other athlete who has fallen prey to any sort of vice might not quite be an accurate comparison.

I think we have to put Tiger into the category of Cory Feldman and Drew Barrymore. Tiger was like them, a child star. A prodigy whose life was controlled from the moment he stepped onto Mike Douglas' stage. A prodigy whose father, although loving, was also a little bit crazy.

"Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity." That is something Earl said right when Tiger turned pro, talk about some pressure, good God.

Tiger's life was molded and crafted to be exactly where it was, until that November night. It was publicly perfect. He starred in many great moments, winning and losing. Hitting great shots and making all his opponents better (see: Y.E. Yang). He had the gorgeous wife (is she a sad-sack in the sack??), the cute kids, the money, the smile, the children's center, and the yatcht.

Tiger's childhood was robbed from him. He spent it playing golf, sure he loved it, he loved the competition, but clearly there were some things that he missed: causing trouble, dating, experimenting, and whatever it is that cool kids do. Tiger was not a cool kid, Tiger was the golfing geek who was 1-iron thin and very bright. He probably didn't go to parties, he was too busy hitting 9-irons while his dad sat in the cart with that annoying reverse sound buzzing to increase Tiger's concentration.

Where am I going with this? Tiger's life was always golf. Tiger's life took him away from anything fun. He loved to play golf, but he must have craved the ability to do other things. He must have craved some sort of freedom. When Tiger turned Pro he immediately fell into millions of dollars. He was surrounded by people who would help him. He had older Pros around like Mark O'Meara to help. He had his dad looming over him.

As time passed Tiger began to earn more freedom from his father. Earl's health began to keep him away from Tiger's daily happenings. Tiger's new found freedom took him to new places, places that a curious teenager would have learned were probably not the best places to go.

Tiger fell into the world of bad decisions. He believed his mistakes would effect no one, including himself. His childhood, like those of Drew Barrymore and Cory Feldman and others, was driven by a desire to be successful and make money. They might have been driven by outside forces and once they had chances to make their own decisions they went crazy.

Tiger Woods went crazy, how long has he been going crazy? I don't know. Is this just the beginning? I don't know. But part of me thinks I have nothing more to be surprised about anymore. Although everytime I say that I find myself surprised by someone else...

Tiger Links:
Maybe Tiger thought he could walk on water....

Charles Pierce in Esquire about Tiger....

If you have not read Charles Pierce's article on Tiger Woods from 1997 you have to. Tiger's arrogance comes out. Which he was burned for and is part of the reason he went into his bubble, not to come out again until this whole affair thing came out. The belief that people around Tiger had in him made him seemingly infaliable. Clearly this is not true. Reading the article in the light of what has recently happened makes a lot of it make some sort of sense. It also brings about the question, did he think he was carrying a torch for golfers everywhere by sleeping with the woman the baseball and basketball players were landing? Enjoy...

Do you think they might be related to Tiger Woods??

"Tiger, you will never meet anyone in the world who is a mentally tough as you. He hasn't yet, and he never will." Earl Woods. This is a great video and I think that quote from it really brings up an interesting point...

Tiger is so mentally tough on the golf course. It is his major strength over all his competitors. How does his moral-compass direct him in a completely different way when he is off the course... it is a tough thing for me to wrap my head around.

Tiger + steroids = uh oh....

This was one of my favorite Tiger clips. It was the longest time I got to see Tiger interact with normal people...its too bad that no one will have that response again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stomach Punch Losses

I have had my disappointments as a sports fan. Big ones, small ones, the ones that keep you up, the ones that still bother you the next day, the ones you can barely look at the highlights of. There are very rare weeks where a sports fan experiences TWO of these types of loses in a span of four days.

Loss 1:
Colts 35-Pats34.

Yuck. What a bad loss. This was a total disappointment for a few reasons.

1) The Pats did the same thing 3 years ago in the AFC Championship game in Indy. This is now a trend. Remember the day when the Pats owned the Colts. When Ty Law intercepted 18 passes in one game. When the snow was falling in Foxboro. No snow in Indy, just turf and high temperatures and worn out Patriots defenses.

Are we going to see this again?

2) The 4th and 2 call was pretty bad. But people are forgetting everything that led up to that. Belichick took the bashing for this loss. However, the team as a whole really messed this up. Leading by 17 points in the fourth quarter is not lost on one play call. Its lost when your runningback fumbles the ball on the goal line. Why did the Pats slow down their defense and let Manning attack them while the Pats D stood on their heels.

3) This loss is going to lead to two possible things. The first possibility is this is the loss that becomes the rallying cry. The thing that puts the chip on the shoulder. The moment that we look back to in January and say, "this was the turning point. We missed the small things in this game that the Pats did well." The Pats moved the ball at will, they owned most of the game. Who is to say they cannot do it again in January.

The other sinario is that the team flops, folds, and quits. Personally, I dont see that happening. At all. Belichick is too good a coach, and the team is too proud to fold. They have the Jets this week and then ANOTHER game against an undefeated team in the Saints. The Pats have played in 4 games against undeafeated in the past 7 weeks. That's pretty unreal.

The Pats will bounce back, the radio shows will stop talking about the 4th and 2 call (that would be great). Isn't it amazing how WEEI can literally say the same thing for five striaght days? Unreal.

However, the Pats loss was nothing compared to what happened to the Boys in Green...

Loss 2:

Ireland 1- France 2
On this blog I bitched about the FIFA seeding the World Cup playoff games. The Irish team drew France, they needed to beat them over the course of two games (they add up the goals from the two games, awesome format...).

I watched the first of the two games with my dad, godparents, godparent's son, and girlfriend (she didnt know what she was getting into....). The game was superb. I had not watched a soccer game and felt as nervous as I did in a long time, maybe ever, The French team made me nervous, Henry made me nervous, the whole thing made me nervous. You could feel the tension through the TV.

Ireland is an unbelievable sports nation. Croke Park in Ireland just started hosting soccer and rugby games. Before that the Gaelic Athletic Association, who invested millions into the stadium, banned both (English) sports from being played in their stadium.

Now Ireland has a proper place to play, 80,000 screaming fans. I have been to this stadium, awesome. When the entire stadium starts singing the national anthem, you cannot help but get goosebumps. Very cool.

The game ended 1-0 in favor of the French.

The second game on Wednesday ran into the rest of my life. So it was hard to follow. I listened to some of it on radio, and then followed the rest on gamecast while I was tutoring. Yes I said tutoring. Sometimes things are important enough to get distracted...

These guys won't be in South Africa...

The Irish won the game 1-0. Meaning the total score was 1-1. They went to overtime, and then the unimaginable happened. Thierry Henry handled the ball and assisted in the goal that sent the French to the World Cup. The goal that destroyed Ireland's hopes of going to South Africa.

Before the game Ireland called for a new rule regarding the seeding of teams and FIFA changing their rules as the playoff neared. Now the Irish game could change something much more significant, replay in soccer. The World Cup has had some moments that have gone down in history. The "hand of God" by Maradonna, the English goal in 1966 that hit the crossbar and might or might not have crossed the line, the Spanish goal against North Korea after the ball was out of bounds. Soccer like any other sport has moments where refs cannot see what is going on. Why not add one replay per team. Have them only used if a goal is in question.

It would have taken 10 seconds to possibly change the lives of 11 Irishmen, hey I know I am biased, but give me a break. I got punched in the stomach by sports twice this week...

Articles about the Ireland loss:

Ireland wants France to invite them back to Paris to replay the game...There are some other good articles linked on this page...

The Irish viewpoints...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waxing Nostalgic...

As I sit here watching Phillies vs. Yankees game 2 I cannot help but get a nostalgic. Now I know he left under bad circumstances, but man I miss Pedro. The talk on the radio this past few weeks has been about what kind of team is Theo Epstein building. Seeing Pedro back on the mound and watching the old highlights makes me wonder if the Sox are building a bunch of OPS machines who have no character. J.D Drew and Jason Bay lead what crew. It makes me a bit nervous to be honest, this off season there is one All-Star free agent, and its Jason Bay. That leaves a lot to be desired. The Sox need some help in a lot of places, but I think one big place they need it is leadership and a sense of identity. Guys like Kevin Youkilis have left a lot to be desired in the grit department. It takes more than pine-tar on your helmet to make you a leader.

Ask yourself quickly who you see as the leaders of this Red Sox team next year: the ghost of David Ortiz? Mike Lowell's hip? A money hungry Papelbon? I think my one answer would be this guy, Victor Martinez. I think his attidtude, his goofiness, and his ability to hit in big spots lend himself to making his way deep into the heart of Red Sox nation.

The Sox need this guy...

Theo Epstein has an interesting off-season ahead of him. This is a year where little decisions could go a long way. There is no group of players that the Yankees can splurge on. This year GMs will be tested to find some diamonds in the rough

One key the Boston Brass seems to miss out on every once in a while is a little thing I like to call a "known commodity." Here are some known commodities we have had in recent memory: Orlando Cabrara, Alex Gonzalez, and Johnny Damon. I think Jason Bay is another guy who falls into that category. The Sox let Cabrara go and have not been able to find a steady Shortstop since. Renteria, Gonzalez, Lugo, and many more have tried their hand at SS. None of them have panned out. Sometimes having a guy you KNOW can produce is better than a guy you THINK can produce. If we let Jason Bay go it had better be because he is being grossly overpaid by the Yankees, there really should be no other reason.

Remember when this guy robbed John Henry of 36 million bucks?

With all of that being said if you take a look at the possible free agents for this off-season, it seems like there is some potential to pick up a Nick Swisher type. A locker room presence who will return a little bit of the "idiot attitude" again. I know some people are glad the whole "idiot" thing is gone. I wonder how many playoff exits without even a wimper it will take to have people calling for a team like the 2004 Sox again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FIFA beats out NCAA as most controlling governing body.

Today a nation was delivered a blow. A blow that will probably cost them a trip to the World Cup Finals next summer. A blow that as of one week ago should have never been allowed to happen. This morning FIFA held one of the most important, and scandalous "draws" in the history of the association. The draw was to decide which eight teams would play each other in home-and-home matches to earn the final four places in the World Cup.

Roy Keane. My soccer idol.

The eight teams involved in the draw were: France, Bosnia, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, Ireland, Russia, and Slovenia. As of ten days ago this "draw" was going to be done randomly. Meaning, everyone had an equal chance at playing each other. However, ten days ago FIFA realized that if they followed through with that idea then there was a chance France and Portugal could face each other, meaning one team would be out of the competition next summer. Meaning there was a chance Christiano Ronaldo might not be there, there was a chance Thierry Henry might not be there. FIFA could not take that risk. Therefore FIFA made an about-face and changed the entire way the "draw" would be set up. The teams would be seeded.

This meant France and Portugal would not face each other, it was impossible. It meant France and Portugal would face a weaker team and would boost their chances of making the World Cup.

Ireland's hope lay in the hands of an Italian...honestly...

Today the draw was done, and today I found out that Ireland would be playing France. As a son of two Irish born parents I grew up loving the Irish soccer team. I remember being on the phone with my friend when Ray Houghton scored the only goal in a 1-0 Ireland win over Italy in the 1994 World Cup. I remember being so sick when Packie Bonner let a ball slip through his hands to allow the Dutch team to beat them in the second round of the World Cup in 1994. I remember waking up early to watch the Irish, without Roy Keane, nearly beat Spain in penalty kicks in 2002. Ireland is my team, not the US, not any other country. To have them in the World Cup again would be amazing, it would might be enough to drag me to South Africa, seriously.

The problem now is the French are in the way. Would I be ticked off if this was done fairly? No, just upset at the bad luck. But knowing that Ireland should have had a better chance, knowing there were five teams, other than Portugal and France, that they would have a great chance against, that is what ticked me off.

Is there an equivalent to this? If I were to try this might be the closest:

MLB a week away from the playoffs starting, realizes the two best teams in baseball are both in the AL (not too far fetched). Therefore, to avoid having these teams face each other before the World Series, MLB decides to seed the playoffs and allow AL and NL teams to play each other before the World Series.

When things like this happen, something always backfires. Some team is galvanized and begins to believe they were mistreated, disrespected. I am hoping that an old Italian manager, who has transformed this Irish team, will work his magic. I am hoping that the Irish team that recently tied the defending World Cup champion Italy 2-2 in Dublin will show up and spit in the face of FIFA and their lack of fair governing. I hope I might have a reason to consider a trip to South Africa, man I hope Ireland are back. The World Cup needs them, the World Cup needs their fans. And selfishly, I need them to go. I need some new memories.

The Bhoys in Green will be up for the challenge, and we all know how the French react to resistance...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday Morning thoughts...

It has been an interesting week and a half since my last post. I proved that I know nothing about baseball after I predicted the Sox would beat the Angels win in four games. The Sox were mildly embarrassing, however the key to the Angels success was their starting pitching, which was outstanding, especially in Anaheim. Kudos to the Angels.

The Yankees are looking too strong and too clutch. A-Rod seems to have outgrown his postseason suckitude. His homer last night was impressive, other than the fact that the right field in Yankeee Stadium is a joke. In most stadiums that is a fly-out, but Fuentes made a stupid pitch. Why do you throw one of the best hitters in the history of baseball a high fastball 0-2. Makes no sense to me. Best quote after the game, "I tried to elevate it, I guess I didn't elevate it enough." Brian Fuentes everyone! He had TWO 1-2-3 saves after the All-Star break....TWO.

Personally, I hope it ends up being an Angels-Dodgers World Series, and here is why. Their fans are miles away, other than my friend Pat who works down the hall from me. I don't have to deal with any gloating Yankee or Phillies fans. How many people on the east coast would even know if a World Series was going on if every game was played on the West Coast? Would that mean every game would start at like 11:00pm EST?

I cannot put it any better... The Angels did not heed the last line..."Do not screw up."

As a Boston fan the Yankee success is also continuing a trend that is making me more and more uncomfortable, New York is a more successful sports city right now than Boston. The Jets have won the last two games against the Pats. The Giants Super Bowl victory over the Pats still makes me dry heave....a lot. The Yankees destruction of the Sox in the second half of the season. If the Yanks continue their run, then this whole Boston vs. New York thing gets a brand new life.

I am currently watching the Patriots destroy the Titans. This game is more of an embarrassment than any game from 2007. Which made me send a text to some of my buddies asking what is the baseball and basketball equivalent of a defeat like this?

You would have to figure a game where a team scores 15 runs before the sixth inning then loads the bases in the sixth inning. My buddy Pat, the Angels fan nomiated that. I agree. The thing about baseball and also football is that you have very little control of how you score. If a team cannot tackle you, then you are going to keep scoring. If a team keeps turning the ball over there is only so much you can do. Obviously, there are some things you can do, but it is tough.

Baseball is hard because if a team cannot get you out, then you have to keep running the bases and scoring. When the defense holds the ball (like in baseball) you have a hard time controlling how many runs you score.

I think beating a team by 60 points in football is equal to beating a team by 100 in basketball, while holding the opposing team to single digits.

These are the types of defeats that hurt the feelings of any competitor, no matter how old they are.

Here are some stories for you to enjoy on this Monday morning:

Terrible story about UCONN footbal player....

Cool story about Holy Cross Crew Coxman with one arm...

Nothing to do with sports, just a dude trying to sing five octaves on a piano...hilarious...

Unreal audio of Honduran coverage of US-Costa Rica game...nothing like having the US score in the last seconds to send you to the World Cup...

Love reading the losers view...Orange County thoughts on 13 inning loss....

Classic "what have you done for me lately" article about A-Rod....

The MLS, where European soccer stars come to die (rich)...Is Frenchman Henry the next target?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

When everything matters just a little bit more

I think I speak for most Red Sox fans when I say that the playoffs have come out of nowhere this year. The Sox looked to be in the middle of a playoff race when the Rangers started to make a run in the early part of August. Many people thought the Sox did not have enough to hold off the Rangers. They said the Rangers were too young and naive, ignorance is bliss they yelled. They referenced the Tampa Bay Rays last year, when they had a superb year and finished strong, even with a lack of experience. Well injuries caught up the Rangers, and the Sox managed to put together a solid last 6 weeks of the year.

Now we are on the brink of yet another Angels-Red Sox Playoff series. The Sox have OWNED the Angels since Dave Henderson crushed the hearts of the Anahiem Los Angles Angels of the Northwestern Hemisphere.

Last year the Angels were the hot favorite. They had the most complete lineup, Texeira was a hige pick up who was the driving force behind their second half surge. The Sox were broken down, had a ton of question marks. Not a lot of people gave them a chance. And yet, the Sox pulled it out in 4 games. Winning game four after the Angels squandered chances to win the game and go back to Anahiem.

Red Sox fans have been where the Angels fans currently are. The hopelessness, the anger, the frustration. They are trying to do anything in their power to reverse this slump. One example, my friend, a huge Angels fan, gave me a Josh Beckett t-shirt jersey last week. It was a gift to him, and he had it in his possesion for the past two years. He decided he was harboring an enemy and therefore hexing his beloved halos.

Red Sox fans have been there. Red Sox fans are no longer there, because of a crazy come-back in 2004 to the Yankees, which was preceeded by a heart breaking series loss in 2003. Aaron Boone sucks!

Red Sox fans would love to see this a few times...

Here are my thoughts about the the series:

The keys to the series for the Sox:

J.D. Drew is my guy for this series. He has quietly had a solid year. 24 HR, 68 RBI, .279 avg. He also has the highest OPB for outfielders in the AL.

This guy is always at the heart of something. Yes at times "something" means the end of an inning because he hits that gorgeous top spin grounder to second base. His presence in the middle of the order could bolster the offense and drive the Sox into the ALCS.

The Guy who I think could cost the Sox a game or maybe even the series:

Manny Delcarmen. This guy has been a trainwreck. This September he has had 10 appearances. He has allowed a run in 6 of those appearances, and he has allowed more than one runs in three appearances. His ERA is 4.53, his WHIP is 1.63. Simply put, he puts guys on base, and he is not a guy you bring in with runners on base. He is going to kill us if Terry Francona has to lean on him for anything in big spots.

The keys to the series for the Angels:

The starters need to go deep. The Angels always came into the playoffs with a great bullpen. K-Rod and Scott Shields were at the back end. They could shorten games and made the opposing offenses force the issue in the first 6 innings. Now K-Rod and Shield are long gone. Guys like Brian Fuentes, who throws the ball like it has some dog poop on it. They have Darren Oliver, who has the best ERA of the bunch at 2.71. Everyone else is very average or below average. It will be up to the Angels starters to get deep enough into games, especially the first two games in Anahiem, to keep the pressure off the weak Angels bullpen.

He throws like he just picked the ball up with poop on it...seriously...

The Guy who could cost the Angels a game or even the series:

Vladimir Guerrero has been invisible in the playoffs. The only big hit I can remember is the grand slam he hit in 2003 or 2004, not sure which year. It was a big hit, but it was in game 3, which the Sox won to sweep the series. Other than that, he has never been a threat. His bat is a big problem for the Sox, but if he cannot get it going it could spell trouble for the Angels and their offense.

The result:
The Sox win this series in 4. I think the Angels have a TON of pressure to get the first 2 games in California. Fenway is a tough place for the Angels. They have Lackey in game 1, a guy who has had success against the Sox, as long as he is not in Fenway.

The Red Sox lineup will be patient and get into the bullpen, making it difficult for the Angels to win more than a game.

Should be a fun series, and if the Twins-Tigers game is any indication of what is to come it should be a great October. So get some sleep, take some naps, and enjoy the feeling of every pitch meaning some just a little bit more than it did a week ago.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

How about some links with your coffee?


Its playoff baseball time...

Can Ortiz do it again?

Lester and Beckett...in that order...

Pre-playoff baseball... who has better chance against the Yanks? Twins or Tigers? My answer: Verlander could win a series by himself, no one on the Twins can do that...


The Ravens continue to be cry babies...

Everything else...

Every Boston fan should have this bookmarked...

Perk lost a lot of weight...

This post might take you into Tuesday.... Celtics starters and rotation...

Chris Paul trick shot off the ceiling...

This Herb Brooks Miracle speech always gives goosebumps, even when a 5 year old is giving it...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A group of people who we did not grow up like.

As a fourth grade teacher I had a realization while sitting at lunch this week. This group of kids has NEVER had to deal with a crappy sports team. They have never had a team succeed then fall from grace. They have never seen a Sox team win only 79 games. They have never seen the Pats finish worse than 10-6. They have never seen a hockey game, right? Do they still play that sport. They can recall at least 4 championships.

There is another group that is quite the opposite. A group of kids who are Yankee fans. I must admit my thoughts and views of young Yankee fans has changed. They are the ones who have been disappointed. They are the ones rooting for the team who cannot win. They are the ones who have A-Rod on their team.

Ten years ago the kids wearing the "B" on their hat were the lovable losers. They were the brave ones. The Yankee fans were the ones who jumped ship in Boston. They quit, they were front runners. They were the weak ones. Now the Sox fans are seen as the spoiled ones. The young Yankee fans are the ones with pain.

It's that time again...

This postseason could be the change, the Yankee fans could be back on top. Then again, maybe those random Angel fans we know will end their long 7 year draught. Think about that, the Angels have a more recent World Series than the Yankees.

All I know is, playoff baseball is upon us. Late nights, bleary eyes, and lots of coffee. One of my favorite times of the year. Every pitch holds so much weight, every hit, every run, every annoying Derek Jeter fist pump. I hope they still mic the bases and the walls in the New Yankee Stadium, I hope Josh Beckett's back is okay, I hope the ghost of David Ortiz shows up, just one last time. I hope...the Sox can put it all together... I want those young Sox fans to be spoiled for as long as possible, because that means that I still get spoiled...

Monday, September 21, 2009

2-4? Really? Yes, really...

This week I have been talking myself into the earliness of the year. The Pats are an interesting team for this one reason. Their best player on offense and defense are both hurt/recovering (A lot of good tams are hurting right now though...). Brady and Mayo are the two guys that will make this team tick. Mayo is a stud linebacker who needs to get back quickly.

Watching Tom Brady is funny now. I find myself nervous for him out there. I wonder if someone will take him down too hard. I wonder if someone is going to just fall on him wrong. I wonder if he wonders the same things. Brady's pocket presence is still there. He still slides in the pocket, he still makes the right reads. However, he is not as accurate. Will that come? I hope so.

Telegram for Matt Light:
Keep this guy away from Brady please?

Brady's offensive line has a lot of pressure on it. Teams will be coming after Brady, especially when the Pats choose to throw the ball. The offense is slowly reminding me of the Eagles offense of a few years ago, when they have some talent however, they had no balance. Making them easy to defend and making it hard for them to win, especially from November and December.

The Falcons are not a great run defense. Fred Taylor needs a big game, and the offensive line needs the running game to help with their pass protection. If the Falcons can come full speed ahead Brady is in trouble. John Abraham has given Matt Light problems before when he played on the Jets.

This is a big week for the Pats. They face the Ravens, Broncos (road), and Titans in the next three weeks. The Pats could be looking at a really horrific start. 2-4 is not out of the question...

Week 2 Fandom.

Right now there are four types of fans in the NFL. Call it the Week 2 rule:

Fan #1 - Your team is 2-0.

You are feeling good. Teams that are 2-0 have played at least one good game.
Maybe in the other game you got a lucky brake (Broncos I am looking right at you).
Maybe you played a crappy team (Falcons).
Maybe your team has a geriatric QB AND you played a crappy team. (Yes Minnesota I am talking to you).
Maybe your team has an electric offense that scores a TON of points (New Orleans). As a Pats fan I know these teams can flame out...
Maybe your team surprised everyone (San Francisco...)

Throwing touchdowns has been a Brees...

Fan #2 - Your team is 1-1 and you are loving it.
Your team probably entered Week 2 0-1.
Your QB might have thrown 4 picks in Week 1 and you might have lost a talented Linebacker (Sorry Bear fans).
Arizona fans are also feeling good, Oakland fans are loving life after a tough loss to San Diego in Week 1...Cincy fans are feeling good after a crappy loss in Week 1.
Bills fans should be feeling good after a tough Week 1 loss there offense scored 33 more points and Frank Jackson is now no longer on the waiver of any Fantasy League....

Black Hole Fans are feelin' good!

Fan #3
Your team is 1-1 and you are a bit nervous...
Your team probably entered Week 2 1-0. You are dealing with a loss where your teams weaknesses were exposed (Pats, San Deigo, Green Bay, Dallas).
These fans are the ones talking themselves into the fact that it is in fact only September. Some might say they are the ones with the most perspective because they simply don't care, because if they did care it would bother them a little too much and Sunday is just too far away right now.

A sight I would rather no longer see...

Fan #4
You are feeling hopeless. The odds of an 0-2 team making the playoffs is tiny. It is truly remarkable, I believe between 5-10 have ever done it. Not good times for the 0-2 teams.
Your team most likely has had two poorly played games where the little things are not going your way and you are already looking to your fantasy team for solice...

If you are a fan of an AFC team that is 0-2 you might have a chance (Tennessee and Jacksonville, win your division games and one of you might survive, but probably not.)

Where are you right now? Week 3 could change everything...just remember that...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Week 1 Whoa...

Well Week 1 of the NFL season is over and I just caught my breath. The Steelers and Titans kicked off the week with a smash-mouth game that included a lot of nerves and one big injury to Troy Palamalu that might slow down the defending champs for a while.

Sunday saw some surprises, like the Broncos Immaculate Deflection to kick off Josh McDaniels' head coaching career and Drew Brees flinging 6 TD passes against the hapless Detriot Lions. The NY Jets looked good against the Texans and the Brett Favre era in Minny started with a win.

Monday night was no different, its official, this year's NFL season is going to be amazing.

The Patriots played a lackluster game for 55 minutes of football. They were a little shaky on offense, Welker, Moss, and Watson all dropping passes.

I was shocked to see Welker not even turn for a ball on third and 3 when even I knew the ball was going his direction. Brady looked frustrated with his receivers and he was probably nervous about his knee. He had not been in a game in 12 months, he had played in barely a half of football in the past 18 months. THAT is the most shocking thing. People forget how long it truly has been since Brady played. He threw the ball 11 times last year. So his last full game was the Super Bowl in February 2008, that should put things into perspective.

http://blog.kir.com/archives/images/TomBrady%20010708.jpgJust in case you forgot....

Speaking of the Super Bowl, as I was watching last night I kept having to remind myself that last season actually happened. There was something in my head that kept going back to the Super Bowl. Somthing in my head that just skipped over last year and last year's team completely.

When the Pats scored the go-ahead touchdown I looked at the clock. "Too much time," I muttered to myself. I was waiting for that big play from T.O. I was waiting for some new linebacker to lose his coverage and allow the Bills to get into field goal range. I was waiting. And instead, the Pats were aggressive. They sacked Edwards, who played a very solid game to keep the Bills in the game all night.

As the game looked like it was going to slip from the Pats, especially when the Bills were marching down the field to grab an 11 point lead I had to keep telling myself that it is only week 1. The Pats lost to the Bills 31-0 before winning every other game that year to win the Super Bowl. Week 1 in the NFL is full of surprises.

There are the surprises that shock us in the moment. Brandon Stockley's crazy catch, the Eagles looking fantastic, Jay Cutler throwing 37 interceptions in one game, the Cardinals losing to the 49ers, and the Raiders and Bills pushing the Chargers and Patriots to the limit.
Once the season is over and we look back we might see other instances from this past week as surprises. What will they be? Its a surprise...its the NFL...

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Thanks is in order.

Tedy Bruschi was a consumate professional. He was fun to watch and he was even more fun to root for. Today, he recieved exactly what his hard work deserved. A retirement that was full of fullfillment and immense praise.

Tedy Bruschi's career brings about a lot of memories for me: his catch in the snow and the celebration that led to the entire stadiums throwing snow up in honor of their beloved linebacker. The stroke, which scared everyone in new England and made everyone hope when he returned to football for four more seasons. The scene of him with his kids just hours before the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, running, playing, and just simply being a dad.


Tedy Bruschi was always so very human. Maybe it was his stature, his little engine that could mentality, his stroke. But listening to his long time coach Bill Belichick ooze about him today placed him in a different place in my mind. Bruschi was so clearly human to the avid football fan. However, in the eyes of one of the best coaches ever his was "the perfect player." A title that is made more amazing considering the messenger of the sentiment.

Bruschi's career mirrored the rise of the Patriots franschise. He was drafted in 1996. He was an undersized, record-breaking pass rusher at University of Arizona. The Pats were a floundering franchise on the brink of a huge turn-around. Bruschi's endless hard work became the benchmark, Jarod Mayo came in last year and picked Tedy's brain. He learned enough to become NLF Defensive Rookie of the year. Hopefully now he can step in and fill Bruschi's big shoes.


Bruschi seemed at peace today. He seemed like he was satisfied with his career, his successes his failures. He talked about the 18-1 and how that eats at him. But his story about after the game really hit home with me. He had a slew of family and friends at that Super Bowl in Arizona. He had been so busy during the week that he did not get to see any of his guests. There was a party following the Super Bowl loss, obviously Bruschi could have crawled into a hole and not come out until the next morning. Instead, Bruschi decided to go see his friends. To celebrate his time with his friends. He did not sulk and he did not let his loss cut into the rest of his life. Maybe the stroke put that into perspective? Who knows, all I know is that as a teacher I wish I could make my students realize the important things in life.

As Bruschi moves onto the next chapter of his life I look forward to still seeing him. He will be wearing a head-set soon enough, either in a play-by-play booth or on the sideline as a coach.

Thanks for being such a class act Tedy, and thanks for the memories.

Check out this article I wrote in college about Tedy returning to the Pats after his stroke...

Also, please read my post below about my fall quest to find the greatest football team of all-time. Already have input from a few people about teams I ommited.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Titanic Season ahead.

So in honor of the fast approaching football season and my rediscovery of one of my favorite websites I have decided to have my own all-time football season, culminating in the answer to any football fan's burning question: Who is the greatest team of all-time? I have chosen 16 teams that I feel are all worthy of this title. However I need your help, I need to add one more team. This would give me a 16 week season where each team would play each other. You may also nominate a team to be removed if you would like. However, you have to replace any team you nominate for elimination. The team does not have to have won a Super Bowl, in some cases I picked a better version of a team that won a Super Bowl (i.e. the Colts 2005 team instead of the 2006 team).

I chose these 16 teams based on a few things...

First I made a list of teams that had an indelible mark on my football fandom: 2007 Pats, 1999 Rams (Greatest Show on Turf), 1998 Broncos (Elway and Terrel Davis), 1994 49ers (Grew up in San Fran. Lived in Massachusetts when this team KILLED the Chargers in the Super Bowl), 1992 Cowboys (The Team I loved to hate, still do...), and the 1990 (Beat San. Fran. Parcells was a genius) Giants. Having been born in 1983 these were the teams that I grew up watching, loving, hating, and being enamored with.

http://mydamrams.tripod.com/1999.jpgRicky Proehl winning the NFC Championship

Next, the teams I chose basically on the fact that I know they were great. Most of these teams were great because of the way they were built, great defenses (Bears and Steelers), great coaches (Lombardi and Shula), or loud mouth quarterbacks (Jets).

Every Monday starting with September 7th I will have a rundown of each score and the stats that Whatifsports generated. At the end of the 16 week season the top 8 teams from this giant round robin will be seeded 1-8 and a playoff will follow.

At the end we will have an answer to the what some thought was the unanswerable question: What team is the greatest of all-time.

2007 Pats
2005 Colts
2005 Steelers
2003 Pats
1999 Rams
1998 Broncos
1996 Packers
1994 49ers
1992 Cowboys
1990 Giants
1989 49ers
1985 Bears
1975 Steelers
1972 Dolphins
1968 Jets
1966 Packers

Your amendments can be given in the comments section! Thanks!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If Youk don't have anything nice to say, then Youk shouldn't say anything at all.

If you asked me to compile a list of Boston athletes who you would picture as tough leaders who would do anything for this city your list might look like this:
1) Tom Brady
2) Dustin Pedroia
3) Paul Pierce
4) Kevin Youkilis

Last night I was lucky enough to sit in phenomenal seats at Fenway. I was sitting in the front row by the Sox on-deck circle. I could hear everything that was being yelled at the players. I could hear everything Youk could hear. Here is a sample, "Youk your a god!" "I love you Youk!" The famous "YOOUUUUK" cheer now cascades through most stadiums, as Red Sox Nation invades the AL. However, Youk decided last night, after a 6-3 win to talk too much. To start complaining. And he decided to do it to the Boston Globe.
It boggles my mind why these players decide to start talking and talking to the media. Youk said “It’s a roller coaster ride for us."
He started his rant with this beauty, “I’m just annoyed with the media as a whole. People write stuff about players on this team throughout the whole year and it’s been going on for years and people just keep writing crap.’’
Youk's rant, which can be found here, went on to cover the stuff he hears on the streets and how there is so much hate in the world. Complaining that people don't cheer for their team, but they root against the opposition (Probably more directed towards the Yankee haters).
The thing I don't understand about this is the fact that Youk went to the MEDIA to do this. He went to the Media to complain about the media. Imagine going to your boss to complain about your boss at work. Think about that for a second. Think about how stupid that is.
Then Youk decides he was misunderstood (read: people reacted differently than he thought they would. Read his retreat here.). So in order to clear the air, he goes right back to the group who he complained to the night before. The media. He used the media to clarify his complaints about the media. Unreal...
Maybe we would be better off without the media. At least then we wouldn't have to deal with idiots like Youk trying to convey some idea that he isn't smart enough to actually convey. Youk clearly complained about fans. Saying they are negative and angry. Youk has never been hung out to dry by the fans. He has always been loved. We live in a society where athletes get second chances faster than anyone else: Michael Vick, Michael Jackson, Dante Stallworth, etc. No one can explain why that is. It might be because they are seen as better than normal people? I have no idea.
I do know that Youk's complaining will be forgiven. He will spend another day as the sports talk radio pinata then someone else will be hung up and whacked around. That is the way our society works. Our collective ADD will benefit Youk. He will still get cheered and he will be forgiven, they always are.

Get pumped for Celts season...Kevin Garnett interview from 2005. Worth it...

Mexico-Uruguay basketball fight... chair are used. Unreal...

Funny new blog about traveling... if you dont like blood and hostels, stay away...seriously...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday Morning Coffee...

Here are some noteworthy reads as you settle into your Monday morning... and don't forget to scroll down and read my latest about Brett Favre...

A great piece on the Mexico-US World Cup Qualifier. It makes you wonder how the world would perceive Americans if we treated opponents the same way...

Here is an article I shameless stole from Sports Guy's Twitter account, but I liked it... It's amazing that no lefty catcher has played in the Majors for 20 years...

Yaz turned 70 this weekend...

Good Celts Blog...Bookmark it...

A Triple Play
. To end the game. To earn Pedro a win... Awesome...

Why Can't the Sox get pitchers like this?

25 things we miss about basketball...

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Doing his own thing.

What are we supposed to do about him? He won't go away. He cannot leave the spotlight. He cannot stop tugging the media around. What are we supposed to do?
Brett Favre is a problem. He is a problem on so many levels. He is a problem because he takes away from time on Sportscenter when I could be watching soccer highlights instead. He is a problem because we have to listen to people continue to talk about how youthful he is and how much fun he has playing the game. He is a problem, because Favre's return could mean that Madden may change his mind and come back to the booth just so he can ooze hyperbole about Favre's ability.
The main reason Favre is a problem? He reminds everyone that athletes are worshipped too much in this country, heck, they are worshipped too much on this planet. Favre played the game beautifully, just like a child in a mall with his eye on a toy. He plays his parent so he gets exactly what he wants. The 39 year-old Favre only has football (and Wrangler commercials). That's all he has, and that is pathetic.

When listening to Favre's old teammates talk about him one realizes he is not a good teammate. He is a spoiled athlete who has been programmed to do as little as possible and still earn the maximum amount of praise. He shows up late for meetings, leaves players waiting for him on the first tee for hours, and throws interceptions in November and December in bunches.
What does it say about quarterbacks in the NFL when a 39 year-old washed up QB can show up August 19 and earn 12 millions dollars after throwing 22 interceptions last year. It says that it is tough to find a good, even decent, quarterback. It says that teams, even during tough economic times, will try anything.
Favre's 8 interceptions and 2 touchdowns last December is a harbinger of things to come. People who want argue that he now has a great running back should look back at his running back in New York last year. Thomas Jones ran for 1,312 yards. That is a pretty good running game.
Favre is being handed the best running game in the league. Peterson ran for 1,700 yards last year. One has to wonder at what point Favre decides to do things his own way and lose a big game. Favre has proven that it is his way or the highway in the past. Why would anything change now... good luck Minnesota...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Five things this Sox need to do to make the playoffs, in no particular order...

5) Make a choice between Varitek and Ortiz. One of them needs to start sitting and one of them needs to start playing. Francona needs to make up his mind. These line-up changes every night are starting to feel like the Jimy Williams Red Sox.

4) Get some good starts out of guys not named Beckett and Lester...

3) Score some runs for Lester...

2) PLAY SOME SMALL BALL. The age of steroids is gone (I think...) and they are waiting around for the big home run... lets practice some bunting. The Rangers showed the Sox how to run this past weekend...

1) Get some momentum going... The Sox cannot get anything going. Friday night's come from behind win would usually be a launching pad for a big series. Instead of burrying the Rangers, the young Rangers bounced back. Not a good sign...

Coming soon... thoughts on Favre...the ultimate child...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Can Tom overcome his rebuilt knee?

Sitting in my living room today watching Tiger Woods made me feel different. Different because he didn't look the same. He didn't look the same. What does that mean? Good question. Tiger's reactions and frustration to bad shots has grown this year during his struggles. Rick Reilly hung Tiger out to dry after the British Open. He said Tiger was acting like a baby, acting like a spoiled brat. Slamming clubs, throwing clubs, and swearing.
Today was not quite as bad. But watching Tiger continuously react to missed putts like his powers should overwhelm the ball into the hole made me slowly think that maybe today isn't Tiger's day. And it wasn't.
Before the round I texted my buddy Burke and simply asked, "Is Y.E. Yang this year's Bob May?" Bob May challenged Tiger Woods at Valhalla in 2001. May beat Tiger over 18 holes on Sunday, but lost in a four hole playoff. May made a few too many mistakes and let Tiger back into the tournament.
Two things happened differently today, Tiger couldn't hit the crucial shot and Y.E. Yang hit two outstanding and shocking shots: the shot on 14 for eagle and the second shot on 18.
Tiger's putter left him and watching the round he is tending to over-think his shots. He seemed desperate to hit certain shots, especially a fade that just didn't work. As an amateur golfer I am always told to stick with what I have. Tiger didn't stick with what he had, and it cost him.
Looking through Tiger's failure as a Patriots fan makes me a tad nervous. After he missed the cut at the British Open I became nervous about another favorite athlete of mine, Tom Brady.
Why would I be nervous about Tom Brady? His knee that's why. Tiger's strange dominance on the PGA Tour has come in tournaments that to him do not matter as much as The Majors. When the pressure was on Woods he showed more frustration and he was not quite as sharp.

http://www.patriotsrush.com/images/tombrady.jpgWelcome back Tom!

This makes me look forward to this fall and the Patriots season. How are we supposed to expect
Tom Brady to perform better than Tiger Woods, when Woods plays a less physical (unphysical) sport? Sure Tom Brady can stand in the pocket in August and fling the ball around. I am sure Brady can do fine against the weak teams in the NFL, just like Tiger has done this season. Tiger's greatest failings this season have come under the greatest pressure. Will Brady have the same failings in the same high pressure situations? It is very likely...
Now I thought Tiger's struggle would come pysically. His knees fire through impact, but his greatest struggle is the mental aspect. Getting back into the game when the pressure is really on.
Tom Brady will soon be under center when things matter, and PatsNation will be wonderfing if he is completely better. I hope when the pressure is on Brady does not finish bogey, bogey like Tiger did at the PGA Championship. And if he does, at least he has a gorgeous wife to go home to...just like Tiger.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Into the Lion's Den....

Tuesday night I went where no Red Sox fan wants to go, well unless the Sox happen to be in town. I ventured to Yankee Stadium. I ventured into the Lion's Den.
I hopped in a cab on Broadway and made my way to 125th and Lexington. I was directed by my buddy Pat to do that. Little did I know, the cabbie was going to take me straight through Harlem, and even littler did I know, I was going to be dropped off on the edge of Harlem so I could hop on the subway.
I survived the subway ride with thoughts of the green line dancing in my head, pretending all those terrible hats were just those lame "Yankee Hater hats." Alas it was not true. I made it to 161st street and the rats, I mean, Yankee fans poured out of the subway car. I followed suit. I was surrounded by pinstripes. It was a rather overwhelming experience. I tried to blend in, I wore no Red Sox apparel, the only option I had was a hat. I packed for my trip to New York without knowledge of Yankee tickets. Truthfully I was scared to wear anything with a "B" on it, or to even give away a hint of my "Massholeness."
I met my buddy Pat outside of the stadium. The first thing that hit me was the massive amount of people. 47,000 people outside a stadium dwarfs the Fenway crowds in Boston. Pat asked if I wanted to make our way to a bar, a famous Yankee bar. I shrugged and said, "when in Rome..."
The thing that strikes you first about the Bronx is how dirty it is. It felt like the old stadium fit into that mold. The new stadium stands above all of the filth. It shined in the sun, glistening in its glory. Truthfully, it is a beautiful stadium from the outside.
As we walked to "Stan's" I noticed New York's sad attempt at matching the Yawkey Way festival that energizes every crowd before they even step inside Fenway. Here that stretch of rode is placed beneath the subway tracks (think old Boston Garden Green Line). The shadows made you feel like Batman might be lurking somewhere, waiting to save someone. The only thing missing was fire filled barrels.
Fold out tables were filled with T-shirts. Some of the ones I remember... "The Tiexecutor" "Evil Empire: Bronx, NY" Bahstan Sahks Cahk." Classy all-around. We find ourselves outside Stan's. A small bar reminisent of something you might find in Worcester, MA. The bar is filled with everything Yankees, pictures, jerseys on the walls, even the dirt on the floor reminded me of the Yankees.


Still working to blend in I took my beer from Pat and didnt look anyone in the eyes. We stayed for a beer and walked back through Faux-Yawkey Way to the stadium.
We walk up to the security line to see a woman unzipping a protective-suit cover, her boyfriend standing to the side embarrassed. Clearly someone did some shopping before the game.
Pat and I the tickets ourselves, (there is an opportunity jobs there Mr. Obama) and walk into the solarium. There is only one solarium though. It is almost like the stadium has a shell, you walk through the shell, and you still have to get into the middle. We walk, and walk, and walk, and finally come to the fourth level.
I think my favorite part of the stadium was the fact that you could see the game as you walked around the stadium. You weren't blocked or underneath the stands. It was all open, which was great.
The stadium was somewhat empty. Pat and I were sitting in the second to last row. I had never sat so high above a baseball game before. It was the first time I was in a stadium not named Fenway Park since 1994 when I was in Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
The game went by like this...
Yankee fans happy, Yankees up 3-0.
Yankee fans hating Joba. Blue Jays up 4-3.
Yankee fans hoping. Blue Jays up 4-3 in seventh (Yankee fans care, dont let them tell you they dont. They do...)
Yankee Fans screaming Bonsai! as Matsui turns on a weak pitch by some Blue Jays schmuck.
Yankee fans elated and annoying when Jorge Posada hits a homer right after Matsui's curtain call...
Enter Sandman (cool to see Mariano Rivera's entrance)
Enter Frank Sinatra...

During the game I spent a lot of time watching the Sox score and wishing the Sox were actually playing Yankees. The atmosphere would be awesome. Next time I go back, the Sox will be in town, and it will be awesome...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Escape from New York

The Red Sox limped out of New York this past weekend. They were not limping like they slightly twisted their ankle, they were limping like they blew out their ACL. The Red Sox were handed an embarrassing sweep, one that ballooned the Yankees lead in the AL East to 6.5 games.
In my mind the Sox and Yanks are at different levels, the Yanks have grown into a better team as the year has gone on. They righted the ship through a tough start, and since A-Rod returned they have been pretty great. The Sox on the other hand came out of the box quickly and their success has waned in the past two months.
I spent Saturday driving to Fairfield listening to the game. C.C. Sabathia sounded unhittable. Friday night, Burnett was unhittable, and so was Pettite on Sunday. Now I know good pitching stops good hitting, but in August? In the heat? The Sox cannot hit. They are hurt and more importantly, they have gotten old a little quicker than I thought they would. Lets take a look shall we?

1) Mike Lowell can barely run full speed and can really only play 3 or 4 days a week...
2) Ortiz is just slow and old. I don't know who gives second baseman more infield practice J.D. Drew or Ortiz. Brutal....
3) Tim Wakefield is getting cortisone shots...yikes...
4) Jason Varitek
5) Jason Bay is struggling to hit. He is hurt but I think the whole contract issue is also affecting him...
Remember when we had "too much pitching?" Yeah so do I, it was in June. We were spoiled. We had Beckett, Lester, Wake, Daisuke, Penny, and Bucholtz was unhittable in AAA. The bullpen was the best in baseball (and is still up there) We were set. The offense was waiting for Ortiz to rise from his historic slump. Now we are stuck watching most of the hitters struggle at the plate. When will it end? Will it end?
The move for Victor Martinez was great, it filled four needs with one player. First base, third base, catcher, and DH. However, I am left to wonder if this team can make it through the next month and a half holding off the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers. Both teams have been playing better baseball than the Sox. The Rays only trail the Sox by a game and a half in the East. They face them six more times this year. They also face the Yanks six more times.
The thing that worries me the most about this team is their inability in recent games to pull out close finishes. The bullpen is starting to lose games, like the 13 inning game against the Rays, the game Sunday night when Victor Martinez got the Sox the lead and the bullpen blew it. This trend is the scariest, because those games are the ones that wear you out. Those are the games that count, no matter how much you hear players say, "Its just one game." Many times that one game can lead to a streak, in either direction.
The Sox need to put this weekend behind them and move on and start pulling out the close games. They have 7 weeks to get their act together.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Welcome back to an old ballplayer.

This past Tuesday. I was lucky enough to get some phenomenal tickets to the second game of the Red Sox-A's series. I was upset to hear on the radio prior to the game the Nomar would not be in the line-up. He was in the line-up the previous night and he received a rousing reception from the Fenway faithful. Nomar played his last game in Boston 5 years ago. The picture on the front of the Globe sports section said it all.

I wrote an article back in 2005, after Nomar had fallen from grace. I remember my disappointment when he was dealt. As someone who was in middle school during his peak years, he was a player I loved. He was superb, he did it all. We all know that.

Last night I was sitting just behind the away team's on-deck circle. As John Papelbon motered through another ninth inning save my glance was taken from what was going on between Pap and Ryan Sweeney.

There were two outs and one man on base. If Sweeney managed to get on base a pinch-hitter was going to come to the plate as the tying run in a 5-2 game. That pinch-hitter was Nomar. He was standing right there, waiting for his moment. Waiting to dig in against the Sox, waiting to try to tie the game. People around us noticed him waiting. I got goosbumps. Sure it was cold and rainy, but they were not from that. They were from a moment, a moment that I really wanted to see happen. I wanted Nomar to have a chance. I wanted to hear the crowd cheer for him. That would have been awesome.

Unfortunately Pap struck out Ryan Sweeney, "Dirty Water" came on over the speakers and Nomar walked to the away team's dugout. I left disappointed.

The sensation of seeing a former local star, a local icon, in a different uniform was weird. It left me feeling a little bit sad. Part of me thinks Nomar feels he is missing out, missing out on the party. He is stuck in Oakland, playing on a crappy team in the twilight of his career. There is no chance of playing in October, there is no chance of a ring. Nomar will leave Fenway knowing he will miss it. Knowing what he is missing out on. Knowing that he sold his stock just a little bit too early.

An interesting view from Jason Whitlock on Steve McNair...

Maybe the World Cup won't be in South Africa... Workers on strike...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Hits

The NBA has morphed into middle school. Rumors are flying around everywhere, and people's feelings are being hurt. Rajon Rondo is being floated to Memphis, apparently. This whole issue of Rondo being traded, which came out of NOWHERE this weekend made me step back think about his effect on the team, but more importantly, the team's effect on him.

Who effected who more? Did Rondo's performance effect the Celtics, or did the Celtics effect Rondo's performance? If you are someone who thinks that Rondo is the only PG for the C's then you think that Rondo should not be traded. If you think that the C's effected Rondo's performance, then maybe you are okay with Rondo's name coming up in trade rumors.

If the Celtics, players and staff, had an effect on Rondo then who is to say that the C's can't go and get another PG who they can mold. Mike Conley Jr. is someone who has come up. Conley averaged 10 points a game and 4 assists. That is comparable to Rondo. Rondo had 11 points a game, however he had 8 assists a game. A lot of time assists are a product of the system. Rondo's third year in the league saw his assists jump from 5.5 to 8.2. Conley is heading into his third year. Conley also takes better care of the basketball, he had 1.7 turnovers a game. Rondo had 2.6 this past year. Up from 1.9 the previous year.

This is a tough deal to make. People came to love Rondo. He was the driving force of the Celtics playoff run. One thing that Rondo has continually struggled with is his inability to rise above weaker players and dominate them. This series against Derrick Rose was unreal. However, his series against the Magic was less inspired. Rondo plays down to weaker competition, a big problem.

I trust Danny, as do most people these days. This team, these players, have a great ability to make each other better. Whether its Rondo or Conley or someone else, I still think this team will be a contender. The other players on the team will not let it be any other way....

The US Open at Bethpage was truly that, an Open. My goodness. The story lines were unreal, they are the types of stories you only see at the US Open, because it is just that, an Open. The Masters would not have had a Rickey Barnes torching the golf course, and then later torching himself in his last 27 holes. The Masters would not see David Duval, ranked 889 in the world (I didn't realize rankings went that high) finish in second place. The US Open is awesome for that reason. Lucas Glover won with grit and steely resolve. That is what it takes to win the US Open.

One of my favorite things about this particular Open was how the television coverage was so scattered. It allowed us to see guys like Drew Weaver, a Virginia Tech Grad who was 100 yards away from the shooting that occured there his sophomore year. Trevor Murphy, a Vermonter, was another highlight. On Saturday night he was one of the last group to finish. Getting to watch him finish with two birdies and a lot of good golf shots was neat. That would not have happened had the rain not screwed up everything.

Watching Tiger at the Open was strange. He hit the ball so well all week. He just could not make a putt. I was glad he stuck around and was still in it. Is there anyone else in sports who is never out of it? I find myself saying to myself, "If he can just string a few birdies together he can win." A Sunday birdie for Tiger is like making up two shots on everyone, especially when his name is on the leaderboard. People start to see his name. His name invokes such fear.

The US Soccer team is wide awake after a terribly embarrassing start. Italy and Brazil tore them apart, however they managed to get into the semi-final of the Confederations Cup. That seemed like it was as far as they were going to go. They had Spain in the semi-final. The team who had not lost in 35 matches. The team who had won their last 15 games. The reigning European Champions from last summer. So what happened? The old Spain showed up. The Spain who everyone knew before their great summer last year. Spain are constantly loaded with talent. Constantly loaded with high expectation, and last summer was the first time they held up their end of the bargain.

The old Spain showed up against the US. They could not finish, they got no bounces in their favor. The two goals the US got were good goals, but little bounces in Spain's favor would have changed the outcome. The US took it to the Spanish early. Spain came in thinking they could cruise through the game. Even after the US scored 30 minutes into the game, I was still waiting for the Spanish offense to unleash its fury. They did, and Tim Howard was equal to it in net for the US. He was outstanding.

Let's be honest. This game meant much more to the US than to the Spanish. This is the Confederations Cup. This is a warm-up for Spain, a warm up for the World Cup. The US had something to prove, both to themselves and to the world. The outcome was a surprise, but in hindsight it should not have been. If I asked you what the US is ranked in FIFA's ranking what would you guess? Take a second and think about it.... okay, ready? The US is ranked 14th in the world. The 14th best team in the world beat the top ranked team in the world in a game that meant more to the US than to Spain. Not as big a surprise now huh?

Here are a few links to check out as you pass the time today...

Players Celtics should go after...

In Danny we trust...

A sad story about a coach in Iowa being killed...

Bill Simmons' open letter to Blake Griffin. This is a shocking history of a terrible franchise...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The beauty of Boston

Many people this decade have said that Boston sports fans are spoiled, and they are right. It is not so much the winning that has been bestowed on the city (winning that is waning quickly might I add). In my opinion the thing that makes us spoiled is our ability to turn around and have something new to look forward to. One week after the Celtics bowed out of the NBA playoffs, (a fate I am regretting as the Magic are on the brink of ruining the NBA's perfect Finals showdown...) and ten days after the Bruins were blown away by the Hurricanes we had Tom Brady, THE Tom Brady, back throwing a football.

Now its May 28th, and Boston is giddy about the 6'5'' stud muffin throwing a pigskin. But you have to understand this is something that the Patriots fan have been waiting for, even worried for. Many thought it might not happen, especially after all the post-surgery craziness.

Its a welcome relief from the past week of endless David Ortiz talk. If more people read this blog they would have read my post from a month ago saying Papi needs to move in the order. He stinks, he is washed up. I heard one smart caller on WEEI mention the fact that this is not simply a slump from this season, it stretches back to last September and October...

I am doing it again! No more Papi.

So Boston sports has been winning, right? But the best thing about being part of this town is how much hope we have looking forward. The C's and B's lose, Ortiz is sucking terribly, BUT Tom Brady is throwing and stretching. Incredible. Boston sports is slowly starting to level off. Knee injuries have killed the Patriots and C's chances in the past year. The Red Sox lost a game seven in (gulp) Tampa Bay. The city is 0-4 in its last four do-or-die games (C's, B's, and Sox game sevens, and Pats Super Bowl). Funny I have not heard anyone else say that. Its always the fact that we are spoiled, sure we are spoiled. We are spoiled with hope and enthusiasm... oh and we are spoiled with Tom Brady...

Other thoughts:
Spent my afternoon watching the Barcalona-Manchester United Champions League Final. As a life-long Man. U. fan who remembers the 1999 triumph against Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final; this was a massive disappointment. Man. United was soft and out-classed. All you have to do it watch the two goals to know that... check out the celebration after the first goal... is he trying to find a vien? Whoa...

Victor Zambrano is somewhat crazy... check out his most recent meltdown, earning him a 6 game suspension...

At what point will coaches who cheat at one college program be punished even if they leave the dirty program before being caught? John Calipari is the most recent jerk who fled a Memphis, only to have it come out that a played cheated on his SAT test. To make this even juicier, the player is suspected to be Derrick Rose. This is an embarrassment. Calipari could end up having a SECOND Final Four appearance erased from the record books (His UMASS team lost their appearance because Marcus Camby was given gifts). Coaches in the NCAA rule the roost. They can leave programs high and dry and not have any punishment. There has to be a way to fix that...

Are they still playing hockey?

What's the first play Bill Belichick calls in the first game this fall? A fly pattern to Randy Moss? Yes, please...

Fill in the blank... Roger Federer is to Rafa Nadal as Tiger Woods is to ... A) His own muscles
B) His knee C) His Driver (not like a car, but his club...)

Can you believe Spencer proposed to Heidi, again? (That one was to see if you were paying attention...but really can you believe it?)

The Red Sox could have signed Mark Texiera's legs OR torso, but not both, for the same price as the Red Sox paid for all of Matsuzaka.

And my last thought, one that I am going to really try to get excited about...The Celtics should consider, they NEED to consider, drafting Tyler Hansborough. Right? Anyone agree? The guy is a perfect system player. Tell me you wouldnt risk a second round draft pick on him...