Monday, November 30, 2009


What he did at the end of the USC/UCLA game was nice. Before this play, USC took a knee, but UCLA then called a timeout. In response, this happened:

Pete Carrol was trying to end the game, but UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel didn't want it to end. Personally, I would've simply passed for a 1st down, or maybe ran the ball (UCLA had 2 timeouts remaining). But Neuheisel invited the touchdown pass.

But Pete Carrol's sideline celebration looks like a 12 year old girl at a Jonas Brother concert.


The gruesome twist of the knee in the replays almost made me relieved that Lucic will be out for "only" 4 weeks. The diagnosis is a high ankle sprain, and the prognosis is somewhat positive. No need for surgery, and only 4 weeks of regular season games missed.

You hate losing a player like Lucic, especially as injuries have sidelines so much talent for the Bruins already. But I remember last season when the injuries hit the team in the Carolina series (Kobasew's broken ribs, Krejci's hip, Kessel's shoulder). I'd much rather lose Lucic for the month of December as opposed to the month of May.

Boston Globe


This was Rivalry Weekend in college football. In-state and border-state rivals faced off in games that fans look forward to all year. UCLA played USC, North Carolina played NC State, Clemson/South Carolina, Mississippi/Mississippi State, Oklahoma State/Oklahoma, Arizona/Arizona State, Florida State/Florida, Virginia Tech/Virginia, Kansas/Missouri, Utah/BYU, Texas Tech/Baylor, Washington State/Washington, Kentucky/Tennessee, Arkansas/LSU, Georgia/Georgia Tech, Rice/Houston, Texas/Texas A&M, Alabama/Auburn, Nebraska/Colorado, and Pittsburgh/West Virginia.

These rivalries often come with trophies held by the winning team, and cool nicknames like Bedlam, Backyard Brawl, Good Old Fashioned Hate, Border War, Egg Bowl, Iron Bowl, and Holy War.

Who did BC play this weekend?


Boston College doesn't have a local rival. They used to until Holy Cross went down to 1AA. Sure, Virginia Tech is a rival (for BS, but not for Tech). And Notre Dame/BC is a rivalry as well, but much more for BC than Notre Dame.

Last year I suggested BC find a new rival, and some BC putz claimed that Syracuse is their rival. Really? Well in football, BC is 10 times better, as is Syracuse in basketball.

Boston College does have a local rival, they just haven't played yet. It's the only other Division 1A team in New England: The University of Connecticut. Storrs is only 80 miles from Chestnut Hill. That's closer than most of those rivalries mentioned above.

It would be Big East vs. ACC (and ex-Big East), public vs. private, secular vs. Catholic, Hartford vs. Boston, and it could claim the average New England sports fans' attention for at least one weekend of the year.

The game could even be played at Gillette Stadium, so fans of both teams could tailgate (very few BC fans can actually tailgate because the campus has such a parking crunch). Tickets can be split between teams to fill the 68,000 seats at Gillette (UConn's Rentschler Field sits 40,000, BC's Alumni Stadium holds 44,500).

We can call it the Blackstone River Shootout.

Or come up with a better name.

It's worth a shot, and both athletic departments should look into it. UConn played Syracuse this weekend, and while that's a big basketball rivalry, it's just not the same in football. As a college football fan, it'd be cool to have a rivalry game to look forward to all season. Everytime Rivalry Weekend comes round, I feel like as a BC fan, I'm missing out.


It's funny, the build-up to the Colts game was about 100 times the intensity as it's been for this game against the Saints. Perhaps Thanksgiving got in the way. And the Colts game did have more playoff implications (playoff scenarios are the one of the few times we use the word "implications"). But the Saints are by fary the best team in the NFL through 10 weeks.

The Colts are 10-0, and that's nice, but beating up on the AFC South, then taking advantage of Laurence Maroney's point-shaving don't impress me much (bonus points for Shania Twain reference).

The NFL shouldn't have traditional power rankings this season. It's more like a pyramid. And the Saints are at that pointy pinnacle atop the pyramid.

#1: New Orleans
#2-7: Indy, Minnesota, Dallas, Cincy, San Diego, New England
#8-18: Arizona, Green Bay, Denver, Philly, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, NY Giants, Baltimore, Atlanta, Houston, Miami

Why are the Saints so much better than everyone else? Balance on offense. They can run the ball (5th most yards in the NFL), and pass the ball (9th most). They've scored a League high 369 points, or 36.9 a game. That's a touchdown more per game than the 2nd highest scoring team.

Their defense isn't amazing, and that's the advantage the Patriots must press home. No more red zone failures. The Saints are 15th in scoring defense, allowing 20.4 points per game. And that's still good, but the Patriots shouldn't have problems marching downfield, then putting the ball into the end zone.

Did you know the Patriots have the 2nd best scoring defense in the NFL? I didn't until just now. 16.4 points per game. So perhaps it isn't just the Patriots offense that will be tested. The Saints are up against a statistically elite defensive unit.

The key to winning this game will be Brady, Moss, Welker, and unfortunately Maroney. The usual suspects on offense have to be able to score on demand, or at least mount lengthy drives. We saw how exhausted the Pats' defense got in the 4th against Indy. This cannot be repeated. The Pats no longer have the depth to shift defensive linemen and linebackers in and out to keep them fresh.

The Saints are 20th in rushing defense. What compounds this potential chink in the armor is that a 10-0 team is usually in the lead, which means other teams tend not to run the ball. Yet they still allow 115.7 yards per game.

The Patriots need to have a steady rushing attack. It doesn't have to be game-breaking, just sure and steady, 3 yards every time. They can't afford Maroney's token 1 yard losses. This will set-up play-action, wear out the Saints' D-line, and keep Drew Brees on the sidelines. Laurence Maroney CAN do this, but often doesn't. Hopefully BJG Ellis will.

I think the Patriots will come through in this one, and by a surprising margin. Patriots 31, Saints 21.


On Tuesday night, the 8 divisions of Eastern Mass high school football will start their playoffs, determining who will meet in the Super Bowls on Saturday at Gillette Stadium. Here are the match-ups, including the location of the game. All rankings are from

Division 1:
7:45pm: #1 Xaverian vs. #2 Brockton - at Weymouth
7:45pm: #6 Billerica vs. #9 Everett - at Lowell

Division 1A:
7:45pm: #5 Gloucester vs. #18 Westford - at Lynn
7:45pm: Needham @ #11 Bridgewater-Raynham

Division 2:
7:45pm: #7 Dracut @ #3 Reading
7:45pm: #4 Natick @ #10 Franklin

Division 2A:
5:15pm: #13 Masconomet vs. Concord-Carlisle - at Lowell
5:15pm: #15 Marshfield vs. Duxbury - at Weymouth

Division 3:
5:15pm: Rockland vs. Marblehead - at Lynn
7:45pm: Bishop Feehan vs. Dighton-Rehobeth - at Taunton

Division 3A:
5:15pm: Austin Prep vs. Lynnfield - at Reading
5:15pm: Cohasset vs. #19 Holliston - at Bridgewater-Raynham

Division 4:
5:15pm: East Boston vs. Bristol-Plymouth - at Taunton
Bye: Whittier

Division 4A:
7:15pm: Marian vs. Northeast - at Arlington
5:15pm: Brighton vs. Tri-County - at Franklin


After falling behind 2-0 to the Senators Saturday night, I was already writing a post in my head. I was going to talk about Lucic's injury deflating the team, and the Bruins' puzzling inability to win at home.

But a 3 goal rally, capped off with exemplary shootout efforts from Tim Thomas and Michael Ryder thankfully forced me to make some rewrites.

The Bruins have gone 5-0-1 in their last 6, earning 11 of the available 12 points. They won Saturday's game despite Ottawa's good fortune (their 2nd goal was due in large part to an injured Patrice Bergeron, turning a 5-on-4 power play into a 5-on-3; and their 3rd goal was a lucky bounce combined with a rusty Tim Thomas). And Friday afternoon, I think they stole a point from that game because Marty Brodeur was on his A-Game. And that guy's A-Game is otherworldly.

The B's sit atop the Northeast Division (although 2nd place Buffalo and 3rd place Ottawa have played fewer games). Their penalty kill unit has improved dramatically since October's struggles, and is now the 2nd best in the NHL at 84.9%. The power play has also been steadily getting better. All 3 of the Bruins' goals came with a man advantage on Saturday.

After a few days off, the B's host the surprisingly solid Lightning Wednesday night before travelling to Montreal on Friday.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The rumor mill is churning at 110% capacity. According to multiple sources, who all cite anonymous sources, the Sox are making a very aggressive push to acquire Roy Halladay.

It's not surprising, Halladay is among the few proven Aces in existance, his contract is up after the 2010 season, and the Blue Jays' new management doesn't think they can compete next year (as JP Riccardi did), and also have little care whether or not Halladay is traded within the AL East.

The Sox have an abundance of minor league talent to offer the Jays, but there's also ample pressure from the fanbase to compete with New York.

It's funny, I remember numerous Sox fans mocking the Yankees and their "$400 million off-season" proclaiming that Sabathia would break down and Teixeira would choke in New York a-la-A-Rod. 7 months later and now Sox fans want the team to spare no expense to compete with the Yankees.

I wouldn't make too much of these rumors. I'm sure the Sox are negotiating for Halladay, but the notion that they're pursuing him any "harder" than normal is ludicrous. It's all intentional leaks to the media to appease the fanbase. It makes us all happy to imagine Theo Epstein and associates barking on the phone to Toronto, going sleepless for 4 days trying to get this deal done.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Rex Ryan's mouth is always busy. He either has to be saying something stupid, or stuffing his gullet with beer battered mutton shanks. Instead of moving on with his life after his team's 31-14 loss to New England, instead of focusing on the Jets' upcoming loss to the Panthers, Rex Ryan took time out of his day to call out Bill Belichick.

Remember, this is the same Rex Ryan who talked about not kissing Belichick's rings. This is the same clown who sent a voicemail to every single Jets' season ticket holder, imploring them to make noise for them in Week 2. This is the same jackass who broke down into tears in front of his team last week. This is the same putz that never took time in September to tell his QB "We won the game, and your numbers were good, but you still need to work on looking the safety off."

Here's a recap of what happened: 3rd & 6, 30 seconds left on the clock, Pats up by 17, and Brady throws deep to Moss. The Jets' head coach/sideline blimp blows up like the Hindenburg. When asked yeserday about the Patriots' play-calling in this situation, here's what Rexy said:

"It was surprising. We needed to stop them anyway, so no biggie, but I was surprised and I did feel a little disrespected... I looked at it as an opportunity for us. Throw it up deep; our guy is going to come down with it more than your guy is. If they want to throw it up to Revis, that's great. If they'd have thrown it to Welker again, I might have had a problem with it.... Belichick... I don't even know how much he had to do with it more than that might have been something that Brady and Moss wanted to do."

The nerve of this guy. His reaction at the time was to try to run up the score on his own. After the Patriots punted, Sanchez threw a 33 yard pass. Then with 5 seconds left on the clock, Ryan called a timeout so they could get off one more deep pass that fell incomplete.

Here's why the Patriots didn't "run out the clock" on 3rd & 6, with 30 seconds left. THE JETS HAD A TIMEOUT LEFT! They also have a dickwad coach who would do something like call a timeout after the Pats run the ball for 2 yards (what are the odds of Maroney getting 6 yards and a 1st down?). And it's not even a dickwad move if Ryan calls a timeout after the Patriots fail to get a 1st down.

Belichick doesn't do things to spite people or out of arrogance. He makes decisions meant to put his team in the best position to win. If the Patriots convert that 3rd & 6, the game is 100% over. Running the ball and failing to convert leads to a punt (the Pats already had one blocked), and even if the chances of winning are still 99.99999999999999%, that's smaller than 100%.

But Ryan can't help but throw temper tantrums. The utter disrespect laced in his remarks about this play is uncanny. Even when people accuse Belichick of running scores up, they don't demean him or the Patriots like this.

The way Ryan talks trash about how well Revis covered Moss is hilarious. Braggadocio after losing 31-14 and falling to 4-6 is simply priceless. Why did Moss only have 5 catches for 34 yards? Because the Jets covered him well, using safety help, and Revis is a good cornerback. But this also left Wes Welker wide open (15 catches, 192 yards). Perhaps Rex Ryan forgot that Welker was no longer injured for this game and went with the same exact defense he used in Week 2.

Then there's the subtle jibe toward Belichick, implying that Brady and Moss concoct plays on their own in defiance of Belichick, Vince Vaughn in Rudy style.

I feel bad for Jets fans, I really do. After Mangenius they have to put up with this jerk. And they get so excited when they win 2 or 3 games, but their team is perennially doomed to fall like leaves in autumn.

And Rex Ryan should feel more than "a little disrespected." He should feel thoroughly disrespected by Bill Belichick, because nobody with a football IQ above 70 should respect this guy.

National Football Post
NY Daily News


A nice 4-2 win was the best birthday gift I received yesterday. Second best actually, behind the new Star Trek DVD. And third best if you count birthday beers as gifts.

The Bruins have only had multiple power play goals in three games this year. They had 23 such games last season. Even strength, the Blues outscored the Bruins 2-1, but the Bruins notched a pair of power play goals, and also a shorthanded score from Sturm.

Patrice Bergeron assisted on all 4 goals. His heads-up play on the B's final goal was simply stupendous. Slapping the puck down with his backhand, then finding Sturm in the high slot, all in one motion. It was utterly brilliant, and the kind of play you'd see from Bergeron 3 years ago.

This was without a doubt Bergeron's best offensive game since the concussion.

Marc Savard returned and looked like his old self. During a 2-on-1 breakaway with Sturm, Savard's pass was so clever that it actually fooled Sturm, who couldn't get a handle on it in time to score.

Milan Lucic had another crushing game. When he and Bitz are on the ice at the same time, it's very fun hockey to watch. Bitz also had a nice fight. What I like best about his technique is that he wasn't trying too hard for the takedown. He wanted Jackman to stay upright so he could fight some more.

The Bruins look to make it four straight Wednesday night in Minnesota when they take on the Wild (awful name, almost as bad as Thrashers or Predators). The Wild have the 3rd worst record in the NHL.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Monday, November 23, 2009


You can add Tim Thomas to the injury list for the Bruins with a "nagging minor injury." The good news is that he might be able to play in tonight's game in St. Louis. The even better news is that Tuukka Rask is perhaps the best backup goalie in the NHL, and could be starting for many teams.

The Bruins beat the Sabres 2-1 in the overtime a well-played, hard-fought, playoff atmosphere kind of game. Combined with the shootout win in Atlanta and this two game winning "streak" is only the second time the B's have compiled back-to-back wins.

But they have gotten 8 points in their last 7 games. More importantly, Milan Lucic is not only back in the lineup, he's back to being Milan Lucic. He and Byron Bitz terrorized the Sabres all night and in all three zones. They combined for the Bruins' lone regulation goal, which was set-up by their nice forechecking, and a good feed from Rask (who got his first NHL point with the assist).

A line of Begin-Bitz-Lucic would put the fear of God in opposing teams.

The Bruins look to get their first 3 game win streak tonight at 8 as they face a struggling St. Louis Blues team.

Boston Herald

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Don Heupel

ON NOVEMBER 23, 1984...

This happened:

Also, I was born. Sorry, no YouTube clip of that.


Are there enough tissues in New Jersey for Cryingasaurus Rex? His Jets are now 4-6, on the outside of the outside, looking in at the teams looking in. Mark Sanchize added 4 more picks to his collection. Remember this stage of Mark Sanchez's career?

It's not surprising that Sanchez sucks so much. He was "coached" by Pete Carroll at USC. Carroll's job at USC is to cash inflated paychecks, and fail to inspire his ultra-talented teams to actually play solid fundamental football, and beat the likes of Stanford and Oregon State. Sanchez's current coach is little more than a blubbery blubbering blob of buffoonery.

This was a nice win, and important win. A loss would have been devastating, both in basic factuality, and psychologically. It's not the glorious triumph that some out there might still need after what happened in Indianapolis, but it's a vital step in the rightest of directions.

Laurence Maroney sucks. That's all I'll say. It was fun hearing the groans of the crowd at Gillette whenever he was stopped at the line of scrimmage. I genuinely hate him. Hopefully the Pats draft someone, or get some free agents that are under 30 years old next season.

The defense was excellent, but Sanchez makes that easy. He never tries to look safeties off, never does anything deceptive, nothing clever, his new nickname is Dr. Seuss because he's easy to read.

Massive test next Monday down in New Orleans. A strong showing there and it's clear that the Pats are contenders.

Wins are also extremely important at this point (more so than usual). There are three teams vying for the #2 seed in the AFC, and that coveted bye. Cincy, San Diego, and the Pats are all 7-3, and 5-3 within the conference (1st tie-breaker).

As mentioned earlier, Pats @ 10-0 Saints next Monday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Friday, November 20, 2009


The 2006 AFC Championship loss to the Colts hurt. The Super Bowl loss to the Giants killed. Last week's defeat in Indy didn't hurt nearly as much, and this Sunday's meeting with the Jets is why.

The Jets and Pats met in Week 2. New England was 0/3 in the red zone. Gostkowski kicked three field goals, two of those were under 30 yards. Brady couldn't find Moss, there was no Wes Welker, and Mark Sanchez threw a 2nd half TD to propel the Jets to a 16-9 lead.

It's safe to say that a lot has changed since Week 2. Brady's found himself in the pocket, and is once again synced with Moss. Wes Welker has returned with a vengeance.

When confronted with these realities, Cryingasaurus Rex harped on the addition of Braylon Edwards to the Jets lineup. Well la dee dah. The Jets are 2-5 since their Week 2 victory, with wins over the mighty Titans and the indomitable Raiders.

Sanchez is piling up the interceptions, 11 since Week 2. But Rex Ryan has reigned in his play-calling to compensate. And the Jets do one thing very well on offense: run.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington each average 4.6 yards per carry. The Jets already have 1,500 yards on the ground. That's the most in the NFL. Their 4.7 yards per carry is 5th best.

The best way to stop the run, at least for the Patriots, is to score points. The red zone shenanigans have to stop and Brady has to put the ball in the end zone. Get a 10 or 14 point lead on the Jets, and Rex Ryan will be forced to pass the ball, which will lead to interceptions.

This is nearly a must-win for both teams. A loss and the Pats are only 1 game up on Miami, only 1 game up on the Jets (with the Jets possessing the tie-breaker), and a Monday night date with the undefeated Saints. And if the Jets lose, they're pretty much out of the playoff races.

I think the Patriots do enough to slow down the Jets' running attack, or at least keep them from putting the ball into the end zone. Welker and Moss will run circles around the Jets' secondary, and the Pats will come out of the gate strong. It'll get close later on in the 3rd quarter, but Sanchez will blow it and the Pats will pull away.

Patriots 31, Jets 20


Thrashers are a group of small bird species, not unlike mockingbirds. There are 15 species of thrashers. They're called thrashers because they quite literally thrash their beaks through dirt, leaves, and grass on the ground, searching for food (insects and berries). Perhaps the least intimidating and lamest nickname for a sports team EVER.

And I'd like to meet the brain surgeon who decided to put a hockey team in Atlanta. Not only is it warm down there, but Atlanta fans are some of the worst in sports. The Falcons depend on day-of-game walk-ups to sell out, and we've all seen how empty Turner Field is for PLAYOFF games.

Anyway, to the game. Normally, a 4-3 shootout win in Atlanta is hardly anything to rave over. But Atlanta won 4 straight coming into this game. They've got some very talented players like Kovalchuk, Antropov, and Peverley. And we all know how much the Bruins have been struggling.

This was so close to yet another blood-curdling loss. The B's were up 2-0 in the 1st, but the Thrashers tied it at 2-2. Michael Ryder, who had one of his best games of the season with 2 goals, scored his second shortly thereafter to make it 3-2. The B's killed 5 penalties in the 3rd, but an unfortunate bounce from a shot blocked by Derek Morris set-up Afinogenov for the tying goal.

Then Tuukka Rask shined in the shootout. Thomas has an undisclosed injury (broken brain from all the wins he's been robbed of), and being able to put a guy like Rask between the pipes is a nice insurance policy. Rask stonewalled all 3 Thrashers in the shootout, no easy task.

It's up to Buffalo Friday night in an important divisional game. Savard might be available. Lucic played in this one buy was hardly the player we're accustomed to seeing.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/John Amis

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Marc Savard skated in practice Tuesday morning for the first time since leaving the lineup with a broken foot. Since his departure, the Bruins have missed him on the power play, and frankly, all over the ice. When he returns, David Krejci will be able to play on the 2nd line, against opponents' 2nd tier of defensemen. Krejci's looked excellent the past few games, and this shuffle could further emphasize his hotness.

Milan Lucic has also been skating with the team, and Tuesday morning was finally allowed to practice full contact. Lucic will be a game time decision Thursday night.

I'd like to see the Bruins hurry Savard, but take their time with Lucic. Lucic depends on being stronger than his opponents, Savard depends on being smarter and slicker. I wouldn't be shocked if Lucic plays Thursday night, perhaps with limited ice time.

Boston Globe

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


"Belichick's Gamble." That's all anyone can talk about, both inside and outside I-495. But any man who thinks a football game is decided by one play should be neutered so his stupidity cannot pass to a new generation.

Some have come to Belichick's defense. Football mathamagicians have even used past history to determine that going for it was a better percentage play than punting (79% win "probability" compared to 70% win probability).

I still think it was an error, but let's not forget what preceded this error.

The Patriots offense achieved 477 total yards, yet when given the ball late in the 4th quarter, only moved 8 yards in 3 plays to set up that 4th & 2.

It was also a Patriots offense that was a weakly 3 for 6 in red zone conversions. Midway through the 4th quarter, the Patriots were given the ball at the Colt 31 yard line. Peyton Manning had thrown an awful pick, essentially giving Tom Brady and the offense the hammer with which to drive home the final nail in the coffin. The Pats moved the ball to the 16 before kicking a field goal.

A touchdown there gives the Patriots an unassailable 17 point lead with only 4 minutes left. 3 scores in 4 minutes is a deficit next to impossible to overcome, even for Peyton Manning.

I guess my point is that the Patriots didn't just lose this game on "Belichick's Gamble." They lost this game in a number of failed plays. 3 for 6 in the fucking red zone is inexcusable, particularly for an offense that amasses 477 yards.

And to be fair to Belichick, how much is it to expect your 477 yard offense, which has averaged nearly 7 yards per play, to get 2 more yards?

Let the National Sports Media and the dumbasses here at home rail against Belichick all week. There's no cure for stupidity. And while the decision still irritates me, there are many more elements of a lost football game than one play and one coach's call.


Turnovers a mere 5 feet from their own net. Is there a more horrible sin in hockey? It's the equivalent of red zone interceptions for a quarterback, or lead-off walks for a pitcher. Actually, it's worse. The Bruins resorted to some of their bad habits from early October. Combined with another bland night of finishing scoring chances, and you get a 4-1 loss to the Islanders.

The Bruins have made goaltenders look very good this season. And why is that? Well, it's because they are good. NHL goalies don't mess up, they're good at everything a goalie needs to do, and if allowed to get in position, with a clear sight-line, they'll make saves on just about everything.

Without a player like Marc Savard, the Bruins lack the cleverness to create space, and ultimately draw goalies out of position. The things Savard can do are fractional, hardly noticeable elements of an equation. But hockey is a fractional game (as proven by Guerin's goal Saturday night with 2/5 of a second left).

The Bruins power play was 0 for 4, which includes a 95 second stretch of 5-on-3. The Bruins have scored 5 power play goals since the 2nd game of the season. That's where this team misses Savard.

But Savard's absence cannot be blamed for this loss. The turnovers were awful. Assignments were missed, particularly Bergeron's, and he's normally the best defensive forward on the roster.

Maybe it's frustration. The defense had been phenomenal lately. The penalty-kill unit has killed 38 of 39 penalties since October 17th. But this team has allowed itself to lose focus far too often this season. And we're no longer in the beginning of the year, we're in the middle. Things need to change quickly.

The Bruins begin a 4 game road-trip, which might help get their collective head back into the game. They play 10-6-1 Atlanta Thursday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Monday, November 16, 2009


It was a painful weekend for Boston sports fans, so let's go outside of Boston for a bit of college football talk.

Things are becoming clearer and clearer in college football. The BCS is still an unbelievable mess, and it's very possible that two undefeated teams will be left out of the title game. But the scenarios for conference titles aren't that complicated.

#7 Georgia Tech has already clinched the Coastal Division, and will be heading to their 2nd ACC Championship Game. Clemson is in the driver's seat for the Atlantic title. They only need to beat 3-7 Virginia at home on Saturday to clinch. Even if they fail to do that, BC would need to beat both North Carolina and Maryland to get into the title game. Clemson and Georgia Tech played each other in September, with the Yellow Jackets surviving 30-27. This would be only the 2nd ACC Championship Game that didn't involve an ex-Big East team.

Big XII:
#3 Texas is in control of the South, and can clinch with a win on Saturday when they host 5-5 Kansas. Or if #15 Oklahoma State loses to Colorado. Texas would have to lose its final two games (to Kansas and Texas A&M) in order to not win the South. Oklahoma State would also have to run the table, beating Colorado and Oklahoma.

Nebraska leads the Northern Division with a 4-2 conference record, but Kansas State is 2nd at 4-3, and the teams play each other this Saturday in Lincoln. The winner of that game clinches the division.

Big East:
#5 Cincinnati and #8 Pittsburgh are both undefeated in conference play. They meet each other at Heinz Field on December 5th in what will be the equivalent of a Big East Championship game. Even if Pitt loses to West Virginia this week, a win against Cincinnati would give them the Big East crown.

Big Ten:
#9 Ohio State finally won a big game, beating Iowa in overtime. The Hawkeyes dropped two games in a row, forfeiting a Rose Bowl berth, and perhaps a National Title berth. The Buckeyes go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997. That kind of surprised me when I looked it up.

Mountain West:
Not a BCS conference, but it's superior to the Pac-10. TCU's 55-28 win over #23 Utah gave them the keys to the kingdom. All they have to do is win at 5-5 Wyoming this Saturday (or win the week after when they host 0-10 New Mexico), and they'll win the Mountain West title. In order to not be Conference Champs, they'd have to lose BOTH their remaining games, and either #19 BYU or Utah (who play each other), would have to run the table. It's safe to start printing t-shirts and hats.

#18 USC is in 5th place. That's funny. #11 Oregon needs to run the table to secure the Rose Bowl berth. They play at Arizona on Saturday, then finish the season with the Civil War game against #19 Oregon State. But #17 Stanford is lurking. They hold the head-to-head tie-breaker against Oregon. Should the Ducks lose just one of their remaining games, and Stanford beat #25 California, then the Cardinal would go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000.

This is as clear cut as you get. #1 Florida clinched the East, #2 Alabama clinched the West. Both are undefeated, and it looks like the SEC title game will once again be a National Title Semifinal. Tuscaloosa is 203 miles from Atlanta. Gainesville is 331 miles away.

1,500th Boston Blood Sox post!


In NBC's pre-game BS, they described ex-Colts coach Tony Dungee and Bill Belichick as "the straight shooter and the rule bender." It was yet another example of the National Sports Media's deification of Tony "Father of the Year" Dungee and the subtle disdain for Bill "Beelzebub" Belichick.

Belichick didn't bend any rules last night, but he did bend logic. He twisted it, even. I've defended him a great deal. Through the overhyped SpyGate shit. Through the uncanny obsession over postgame handshakes. To going for it on 4th & 13 in the Super Bowl. Trading Richard Seymour, not signing Deion Branch, Adam Vinatieri, et cetera, et cetera. But his decision was indefensible.

It was understandable. There was logic at work. Belichick estimated that his chances of victory were better if he went for it on 4th & 2, as opposed to punting. I disagree with the logic behind that conclusion.

If the Patriots get a 1st down there, they win. There'd be 2 minutes left, Indy would have 1 timeout. So the Colts would stop the clock after the 1st down play at about 1:55. The Pats could then drain 85+ seconds from those 115 remaining, then punt. The Colts would have 30 seconds and no timeouts to go 70 yards upfield.

High reward=high risk. Fail to convert, and the Colts have 2 minutes to go a mere 30 yards. Their entire playbook is open. And if Belichick didn't trust his defense to prevent a 70 yard drive in 2 minutes, what chances did they have of stopping a 30 yard drive?

My problem with the move is that it was crazy, not aggressive. It wasn't confident. The last few years, Belichick's done all sorts of weird shit in attempts to beat Indy. I remember in '05 when he tried an onside kick in the 3rd quarter. It's funny, because when the Patriots owned Peyton and the Colts, they didn't win through crazy, 1980s little league movie trick plays. They won by executing on the field. The players made plays.

And last night, they made plays for 58 minutes until the coach got nervous, even scared, and didn't let them make plays.

Then there were the timeouts. He threw them around like he was Mike Martz or something.

And for those Pats fans who want to crucify Belichick today, here:

And if that isn't enough, this video will melt your heart and make you fall in love with him all over again.

Moving on to the rest of the game...

Laurence Maroney serves no purpose. He's like a Special Olympic kid out there. It's a fucking miracle for him to get up to the line of scrimmage with the football in his hands. That fumble near the end zone was horrific. And the fact that he is so unreliable for a mere 2 yards in short yardage situations severely limits play-calling. 13 carries, 31 yards, 2.4 per carry, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble, longest run was 6 yards. He's at 4.0 YPC this season, which doesn't sound awful, but he's so inconsistent and unreliable. He has monster games like last week against Miami, then shits the bed.

The Patriots have yet to win a game in another team's home stadium. It's week 10. That's worrisome. Especially since it's now a forgone conclusion that any potential road to the Super Bowl will have to go through another team's neighborhood(s).

But unlike everyone else, I'm not going to kick the dog over this loss. I have to say I was pretty mellow right after, and I'm even calmer writing this (except when I think of Maroney). The Colts are 9-0, do they frighten you?

This was a test game, and the Patriots failed because they forgot to fill in the circles completely, not because they were too stupid. The Colts are an elite NFL team, and the Patriots lost by 1 to them on the road, and should have beaten them.

It hurts. Losses like this always hurt. But how much would a win have mattered? Would there have been a duckboat parade? Would I have stayed up all night drinking and calling everyone I know at 4 am? Don't think so.

It would have hurt less had the Colts won by 3 TDs and totally dominated the Pats. But it also would have meant that the Patriots weren't in the top tier of NFL teams. And we found out last night that the Patriots are in fact a top team.

Peyton Manning can have all the regular season honors, accolades, awards, and records he can get his hands on. After all, he is the best pre-December QB in history.

Oh, and the pass interference call on Darius Butler that set-up Indy's touchdown that made it 34-27 was a bullshit call. That gave the Colts 31 yards in 0 seconds. The spot on Kevin Faulk's 4th & 2 catch was also very favorable to Bill Polian's Colts. But it's the Pats' fault for not having any timeouts to challenge with.

This was a setback. A major setback perhaps, but it is week 10 of a 17+ week season, the Pats are in 1st place with a 2 game cushion, and we get to beat up the Jets on Sunday. The fans in Indy won't get to see the best quarterback in the NFL until the playoffs, while we get to see him every Sunday.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo


In a back-and-forth offensive bonanza, the Bruins fell in overtime to the Penguins. To be fair, the B's only led for 2 minutes and 28 seconds of the contest. The rest of the time, they were playing catchup with Pittsburgh, but doing a good job of it.

With less than 10 seconds to go, the Bruins had a 5-4 lead and the puck inside the Penguins' zone. That's when the imperceptibly fractured graphite carbon fibre of Patrice Bergeron's stick snapped as the puck hit the blade. The ensuing turnover sprung Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh's best player, Cindy Crosby sucks), who found Wilbraham's Bill Guerin for the game-tying goal with 0.4 seconds in the clock.

In the overtime that followed, Tim Thomas lazily played a dump-in behind the net, and gave the puck away to Jordan Staal, who centered to Pascal Dupuis for the game-winner. Thomas' reaction to his mistake, as well as Guerin's tying goal have been the only two times I've seen Thomas truly flustered in the net. Swinging his stick at invisible demons. Even when he dropped Kostitsyn, even when he tussled with Sean Avery, there was a bit of composure to it. His anger was more specific, more focused. He wasn't just generally pissed in all directions.

You can blame Bergeron's stick. Certainly had it maintained some semblance of structural integrity, the Penguins wouldn't have been able to come up ice and score. But again, the Bruins had their lead for all of 148 seconds. Catchup hockey is losing hockey.

The Bruins host the once lowly, now pesky Islanders tonight.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Friday, November 13, 2009


The Bruins registered another fine defensive performance. Tim Thomas was stellar in net, the defensemen broke up play after play, and forwards like Bergeron and Bitz were outstanding in their own zone.

Offensively, not so bad, believe it or not. I know, I know, 0 goals is 0 goals. But the Bruins put 40 shots on Tomas Vokoun. And he had an amazing game himself, made no mistakes. And these weren't a sloppy 40 shots either. In my book, if you get 40 shots on net, you've at least had a decent offensive night.

One thing that worried me was that some Bruins lost their patience in the 3rd period. Michael Ryder exhibited none in the final period or the overtime. He tried some silly behind-the-back pass, and several times his attempted fanciness triggered Panther counterattacks. If not for teammates who were playing excellent Hockey 101, Ryder would have cost the Bruins the game.

Another shootout loss. The Bruins are 2-3 in OT/SO. But they were 7-10 last year, so this is hardly a new trend. Michael Ryder's fancyboy play was contagious, spreading to Blake Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron in the shootout.

When it was announced that Chara would shoot 3rd, I was happy. I figured he'd just rear back, and let loose with a 105 MPH slap-shot. Sort of like a closer throwing a high fastball. "If you get this, good for you." Instead, even Chara fell victim to impatience and fanciness.

And it simply wasn't intelligent shooting by Wheeler, Bergeron, Chara, and Ryder. They tried to get Vokoun to make a mistake and get out of position. That's something he hadn't done on 40 previous shots. Wheeler actually did get Vokoun to move, but couldn't execute.

It's frustrating, but worrying about shootout wins is something to do in February and March, not November. The goals will come, they'll come from solid defensive play, so long as the forwards remain patient. For now, just credit Vokoun with an outstanding performance and we can all move on to the next game. Which is at Pittsburgh Saturday night.

You do have to feel for Tim Thomas though. In his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals, and has only 1 win. He's in Pedro Martinez in 2001 territory now.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The plan to keep Kevin Garnett's minutes down has gone off without a hitch this season. It's easy, actually, just get a 22 point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter, then let KG spend the 4th as a cheerleader.

Garnett had 18 points in 26 minutes to lead the C's to their 8th win of the season. He was one of 7 Celtics to score in double figures (Ray Allen had 15, Rondo 14, Pierce, 13, Wallace 12, Perkins 10, Daniels 10).

The Celtics host the 6-2 Atlanta Hawks Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


Unfortunately, Jason Varitek will be a member of the Red Sox for another season. The switch-swing-and-a-missing catcher picked up his $3 million player option for the 2010 season. Maybe if he's kept on the bench, his numbers won't nosedive so horrendously after 150 ABs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The talking heads on Versus kept talking about how much the Penguins missed Malkin and several other key players. While that's true, the Bruins played their asses off, and aren't exactly the healthiest team in the world.

Derek Morris had his best defensive game of the season. In fact, all the Bruins defensemen played very well in the offensive and defensive zones. Hunwick scored the first goal of the game, and Wideman got two assists. Chara smothered Cindy Crosby.

The Bruins have killed 28 of their last 29 penalties. That unit has improved dramatically since the start of the season.

With no Savard and no Lucic, the B's offense still lacks the ferocity it had last season. But they're playing well defensively, and keeping things simple in the offensive zone. Solid play leads to goals. Not a ton of goals, but enough to stay in games and let your Norris defenseman and Vezina goalie win them for you.

The Florida Panthers come to town Thursday night. They're 5-9-1 with the 4th worst PK percentage in the NHL, so the power play should be able to produce.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Jason Bay led the Red Sox with 119 RBI in '09. He only hit .267, but had an impressive .384 OBP, along with a .537 SLG. Only Kevin Youkilis had a higher OPS on the team. His 36 homers were the most on the Sox.

He hit .392 against the Yankees.

I honestly don't know why the Sox haven't locked this guy up. He's been a 100 RBI guy in 4 of the last 5 seasons. He's an OBP kind of guy, works counts, makes pitchers work, and he knocks in runs. He doesn't have Manny Ramirez's kind of power, but he's not looking for Manny Ramirez money. He's 31 years old, and hasn't missed significant games since '04. He's an ideal #5 hitter.

He's worth 5 years at $75 million, and perhaps a little more. JD Drew makes about that much, and Bay doesn't have the same injury history as Drew did when the Sox acquired him.

Plus there's no alternative out there. Bobby Abreu was snatched up by the Angels. Then there's Matt Holliday...

Holliday's been a great NL player, struggled a bit in his short-time in the AL, but he does have great numbers. In fact, they're slightly better numbers than Jason Bay's. But not much better. And how much more money will those BA, OBP, and OPS points cost?

Holliday is pretty much the only replacement available. But we know what Jason Bay will do in Boston and in the AL East. We don't know what Holliday will give us. I just don't think that slim upgrade is worth the risk, or the additional cost.


The Red Sox made some blatantly telegraphed maneuvering Monday afternoon. They picked up Victor Martinez's option, worth $7 million. Martinez hit .303, splitting his season between Cleveland and Boston. He had 108 RBI and 23 HR. $7 million is a bargain basement price for a guy like him.

The Sox also signed Tim Wakefield to a 2 year, $5 million deal. Wakefield will get $3.5M next season, and $1.5 in 2011. There are also incentives. The Sox did have a perpetual $4 million option on him, but this might be a cheaper way to go. Frankly, I don't think Wakefield can be a starter anymore, not for a full season. He had back problems last year, and I'd like to see him shutdown until mid-summer of 2010, or converted into a mid-reliever.

The Sox also declined the $5 million club option on Jason Varitek. However, Varitek has a $3 million option of his own. It's anticipated that he'll exercise that option, and will unfortunately be a part of the team in 2010.


Monday, November 09, 2009


David Krejci has been unquarantined and returned to practice today. He centered a line with Blake Wheeler and Vladimir Sobotka. This is fantastic news, as the Bruins are in the midst of a key stretch of games, and need every able body on the ice. Byron Bitz returned on Saturday and rejuvenated the B's, hopefully Krejci can do the same.

The Bruins followed CDC guidelines on this issue, and it seems to have worked. So far none of Krejci's teammates have contracted H1N1.

B's host the Penguins Tuesday night.



Alex Gonzalez's $6 million club option was declined by the Boston Red Sox, but the team will probably try to still keep the defensively inclined short-stop.

I really hope the Sox do hang on to Alex Gonzalez. His .284 average in 44 games with the Sox was an aberration, but so long as he can hit above the Varitek Line (.210) and perform well in the field (only 7 errors at SS last year, and a fielding percentage of .984), he'd be the best short-stop the Sox have had since Orlando Cabrera.



It wasn't perfect. It wasn't even that pretty, especially compared to their last two victories, but a division win is a division win. It's nice to be 2 full games up on the Jets, and 3 up on Miami. It's nice that when these teams play again in a few weeks, the Dolphins might already be out of the race. And it's nice when Jerry Porter finishes a game with 0 tackles.

What isn't nice is the Patriots' red zone offense. The big play offense is back, as demonstrated by Randy Moss' 71 yard touchdown reception. But the Pats' are 24th in red zone scoring efficiency at 46.7%. They were 50.8% last year with Matt Cassel at QB. It's great if you have Gostkowski on your fantasy team, not if you're a Pats fan.

3 more sub-40 yard field goals today. The Pats could have easily gone into half-time up 24-10. Instead it was only 16-10. This can't happen against the elite teams of the NFL. And the Pats' defense is solid, but it isn't a stand-alone unit that can win games by itself. It needs an offense that scored touchdowns.

But it was nice to see Adalius Thomas and Laurence Maroney have good games.

Monster game next Sunday night in Indy against the 8-0 Colts.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Friday, November 06, 2009


The Sox traded for Jeremy Hermida yesterday, sending minor league pitchers Jose Alvarez and Hunter Jones to the Marlins for him. Hermida is 25 years old. In 129 games with Florida, he hit .259 with a .348 OBP, 13 HR, and 47 RBI. He's a 4th outfielder with upside that's never been realized.



The B's secured the services of Tuuka Rask for at least two more years, signing him to an extension that will keep him in black and gold until 2013. The deal is worth $2.5 million total ($1M next season, $1.5M the second season).

Rask is only 22 years old and will likely be Tim Thomas' backup for the duration of the contract. That being said, he'll be 25 when the contract expires, and could be poised to be Thomas' heir apparent.

Boston Herald


It's hard to be happy after losing 3 straight. I guess I feel like Barack's White House spinsters when they talk about the country losing jobs, but losing them at a slower rate. You hate to lose on home ice, in the division, against a team as mediocre as the Canadiens. But at least you scored, and at least you stole a point.

This team isn't built to win in overtime or in shootouts. And even when Phil Kessel wore black and gold that was the case. Last year, the B's won shootouts because Thomas would make incredible saves, and the law of averages would catch up to the opposing netminder.

The Bruins put 42 shots onto Carey Price. To be honest, few of them were very good. The Bruins looked desperate for a goal tonight, trying to get a junk goal off a rebound or deflection, rather than simply trying to beat the goalie.

A perfect microcosm of the Bruins' offensive woes came in the 2nd period. On the power play, Tim Thomas made a great up-ice pass to Paille on the offensive blue-line. It was a perfectly placed pass from a goalie with clear European long-ice experience. But Paille couldn't handle it cleanly and hit a Bruin at the side of the crease. Instead he opted for a pass to the slot, which was defended well, and nothing amounted to it. Paille wouldn't be on the ice at all (nearly 16 minutes of ice time) if not for injuries, and as solidly as he's played in Boston, he messed up what should have been a goal.

The Bruins better build on whatever momentum they gather from this OT Loss, because the division leading Sabres come into town Saturday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Thursday, November 05, 2009


As if the Bruins needed more forwards out of their lineup. They'll be without temporary top line centerman David Krejci for awhile, as he's been diagnosed with H1N1. He'll be isolated from the team until his symptoms have gone away for 24 hours. There's no timetable yet for his return.

Hopefully, nobody else on the team contracted the flu.

On the Silver Lining front, at least all these injuries are occurring in October/November, and not April/May. And at least its forwards that have all been affected, a position the Bruins boast some depth at. If the B's lost 2 of their top defensemen, they'd truly be sunk because there's little depth at the blue line.

Can we get David Krejci to sneeze all over the visiting locker room right before the Canadiens get there?