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. 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. 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.