Friday, October 29, 2010


After Tyler Seguin netted his first goal on home ice, the Garden crowd chanted "Thank You, Kessel" over and over again. While I laughed and thought it was a quality chant, the fans probably should have been thanking Tim Thomas. Or maybe they should have thanked all the other NHL teams that didn't want him this off-season.

Thomas became the first Bruin goalie since Tiny Thompson to start a season with 5 straight wins. Tiny started the 1938-39 campaign with a 6-0 run. If not for a really stupid decision with the puck last week, Thomas would have 3 shutouts already.

Thomas only had to stop 20 shots, a credit to the Bruins' defensemen and forwards, who harassed the Leafs in the neutral zone for most of the game. But Thomas made solid positional saves, two or three of the acrobatic variety, and most importantly his puck handling was, shall we say, more traditional.

On the other side of things, the Bruins played excellent special teams hockey. They scored a power play goal, killed 5 penalties, and were very close to some shorthanded goals. If this team kills penalties as well as they did last year, but adds some consistency to the power play, they can become very dangerous in a playoff series.

Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg both had sensational games in all three zones. Chara assisted on Bergeron's goal (the 100th of his career), and it was Seidenberg who set-up Seguin. Nathan Horton's point streak ended, but he did boost his season penalty minutes total from 0 to 15 with just a few punches.

Horton got a 10 minute misconduct for punching Phaneuf AFTER this picture. These refs weren't my favorites.

Blake Wheeler continues to be useless. He made one or two decent plays, but then caught Dennis Wideman Disease (DWD) and made some really awful ones too. Andrew Ference had a similar night. Adam McQuaid was very solid filling in for Boychuk. He made one glaring mistake, but also nipped it in the bud very quickly. Mark Stuart was physical and played a very sound game.

The Bruins have started a stretch of divisional games the right way. They travel to Ottawa on Saturday, then Buffalo next Tuesday. Then it's Washington again? Yes it is. Great job, NHL. The Bruins will play Washington three times in a 17 day span. Then once more for the remaining 156 days of the season.

Anyway, Bruins at the 4-5-1 Senators Saturday night.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It was an awful week for me, as my picks were 3-6. I had some close calls, but this isn't horseshoes. My record against the spread is now an unremarkable 19-16-2. So let's hope as conference play continues, I can go on a nice run heading into the bowl games. Here are my picks for this week in college football. I took the odds from Doc's Sports Service.

Thursday 7:30 PM - ESPN
#16 Florida State Seminoles @ NC State Wolfpack
I have to take the Noles -3.5 here. The ACC seems to produce a contender, then reduce them to fraud shortly thereafter. And NC State has been pretty good this year. But FSU is having a nice rebound season. FSU -3.5

Friday 8:00 PM - ESPN2
West Virginia Mountaineers @ UConn Huskies
WVU has fallen off a bit, and the game is in Storrs. But I've picked UConn like three times already this season, and lost every time. So it's time for the Huskies to make me money. West Virginia -6.5.

All these games are on Saturday:

12:00 PM - ESPN3
Clemson Tigers @ BC Eagles
Boston College has a decent defense, but has no offensive capabilities whatsoever. They'll probably put up a good fight against Clemson, but I think the Tigers win, and cover the 7 point spread. Clemson -7.

12:00 PM
Northwestern Wildcats @ Indiana Hoosiers
I'll take Northwestern -3, and yes, I know I'm picking lots of road favorites so far. So what?

3:30 PM - ABC
#6 Missouri Tigers @ #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers
It's kind of hard to believe that this game will be the most important Big XII clash of the year, maybe even more important than the Conference title game. I'm taking Mizzou +7.5. Even if Nebraska wins, they'll win close in a defensive struggle.

3:30 PM - CBS
Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs (Jacksonville, FL)
Remember when this game meant something? I'll take the Gators +3, because Georgia sucks.

3:30 PM - ESPNU
Wake Forest Demon Deacons @ Maryland Terrapins
WFU are 2-5, 1-3 in ACC play, have lost 5 straight, and haven't won a road game all season. I'll take Maryland -5.5.

6:00 PM - ESPN2
#1 Auburn Tigers @ Ole Miss Rebels
Look, I know that #1 teams have lost three straight weeks, all on the road. And here's the #1 team on the road. But Ole Miss isn't Missouri, and Oxford, Mississippi isn't Madison, Wisconsin. I'll take Auburn -7.

7:00 PM - Versus
#13 Stanford Cardinal @ Washington Huskies
This is a pure gut-feeling pick. Stanford's on the road, Washington's been solid, and the spread's not bad. Washington +7.5.

8:00 PM - ABC
#2 Oregon Ducks @ USC Trojans
Oregon should be #1. And they're on the road. Against a tough opponent. In a tough place to play. So according to the trend of the last few weeks, they should lose. USC +7.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Yes, this game represents 1.2% of the regular season; a meaningless morsel of what is a meaningless stretch of 82 games. But you know what, all off-season, it's been "Miami this," and "LeBron that," and "New Big Three those," et cetera. The Celtics reminded the rest of the basketball world that there are some pretty good teams outside of Miami.

This game was also a reminder that the Celtics have Rajon Rondo, and Mr. Rondo had 17 assists. Ray Allen had a great shooting night, which we all know is something that will come and go, but led the C's with 20 points. Pierce had 19, Glen Davis contributed 13 from the bench, KG had 10, Shaq had 9. KG also had 10 rebounds, Pierce had 9, Shaq had 8.

LeBron James put up 31 points. None of his teammates did much offensively. Wade had 13. That's nice, I guess. The Heat only had 15 assists compared to the 25 the Celtics compiled.

Some ridiculously optimistic Celtics fans out there will proclaim this as definitive proof that the Celtics are still atop the Eastern Conference. That's really stupid to suggest after only one regular season home game. Especially since the big question for the aging Celtics isn't "will they have it in Game #1?" It's "will they have it in game #91?"

But at the very least, the Celtics demonstrated that the game isn't played on paper. Champions aren't determined by hour-long ESPN specials

Game #2 comes quickly as the Celtics play in Cleveland tonight.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I was glad when the Rangers eliminated the Yankees this weekend. I was relieved that we wouldn't have to endure another off-season of Yankee fans talking about how they were approaching the "Big 3-0." But my celebration was tempered by the unavoidable fact that the Yankees still field a better team than the Red Sox.

The last two years, the Yankees have won 14 more regular season games. This year, the Blue Jays were closer behind the Sox than the Sox were behind the Yankees.

More importantly, the Yankees have gone 16-8 in the playoffs the last two years, winning 4 of 5 series. The Red Sox are 0-3. The Sox haven't won a playoff game since October 18, 2008. So while the Yankees won't be parading down Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes, it's not as if the Sox are on the verge of taking another Duckboat tour.

You can attribute the Yankees' 2010 superiority to the Sox' injuries. If you do, stop reading right now because you're a fool. Here's a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it. The Sox used 6 starters, and 4 of them had ERAs over 4.40. The AL's League ERA was 4.14. Not to mention a bullpen that blew the 4th most Saves and had the 7th worst Save % in all of baseball.

The Sox were 9th in the AL with a 4.20 team ERA. The team built for Run Prevention allowed the 4th most runs. Injuries weren't the problem. Pitching was.

The Yankees were better than the Sox in 2010. And what's worse, the Yankees will GET better in 2011. Will the Red Sox? They're committed to a rotation loaded with #4 starters. Cliff Lee is a free agent. He might stay in Texas. He might take the big money to go to New York. What are the odds he'll wind up in Boston? He's more likely to play midfield for Liverpool.

Why is it the Red Sox can "win" bidding wars for unproven talents like Daisuke Matsuzaka? Why is it they can win bidding wars for disproven talents like JD Drew? How are the Sox able to keep hold of near value-less commodities like Josh Beckett?

If the Sox lose a bidding war to the Yankees, that's fine. But it better be one hell of a war. They'd better offer more than he's worth, because the Sox currently pay JD Drew, John Lackey, Mike Lowell, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, and Jason Varitek more than their worth. They'd better force the Yankees to sign Lee to a 10 year, $330 million deal, or something ludicrous.

How can you "overpay" for someone when the value of signing him is that you catapult from a 3rd place team to a World Series favorite?

We make fun of the Yankees for trying to buy the World Series. But the Red Sox spent $162.7 million to buy a 3rd place team. The Phillies spent over $20M less and made it to their LCS. The Giants spent $65M less. The Rangers spent over $100 million less.

But let's get past Cliff Lee. What about Adrian Beltre? Or Victor Martinez? They'll likely get signed by some other team for "more than their worth." Again, when did the Sox get so worried about overpaying guys? It must have been after the JD Drew signing, the Mike Lowell extension, the Daisuke Matsuzaka posting fee. And didn't they recently lock down a pitcher who went 6-6 this year, with a 5.78 ERA? So this fear of overpaying is relatively new.

Which productive hitters are the Yankees worried about losing?

So let's be glad that the Yanks won't win ring #28. But the Sox are far, far away from ring #8.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Monday, October 25, 2010


When was the last time the Patriots tried a quarterback sneak on 3rd/4th down, and failed? I can't remember the last time the QB sneak didn't work. So why is BJG Ellis running off tackle on a 4th and 1? I didn't mind the call to go for it, although I'd prefer a punt. But use the sneak, which has worked seemingly 100% of the time the last 10 years.

We'd all hoped that the Patriots' 4th quarter struggles were behind them. They dominated the 4th against Baltimore. But yesterday, the Pats were pathetic in the 4th.

Thankfully, the Chargers' special teams is awful.

But this game should have been won before that missed field goal. It should have been won when the Patriots got to the San Diego 16 but were forced to kick a field goal. It should have been won with those other field goal drives before the 4th quarter. Those sacks in the Red Zone were simply awful, and they kept the Chargers in the game.

The Pats made 5 trips to the Red Zone, and only scored 2 touchdowns. Inexcusable.

I'm not very excited about this team. They're showing the same offensive Red Zone struggles that plagued them in years past. The defense can't be relied on to win games. But it was the defense that won this game. They forced the turnovers, they kept San Diego to 20 points.

But the offense has to score in the Red Zone. They have to win the time of possession battle.

The Pats host the Vikings Sunday afternoon. Minnesota is 0-3 on the road, they have a turnover happy QB, a coach trying to control him, and a receiver that gives up on a potential TD catch because he's about to get hit.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Friday, October 22, 2010


It's hard not be excited right now. Granted, it's October. The important months of the season are an entire winter, plus big chunks of fall and spring, away. But the Bruins have a stellar goalie in net, forwards who can score, defensemen who can defend, guys who can fight, guys who can pass, guys who can hit, guys who can check. This is the best I've seen the Bruins play since they swept the Canadiens in '09.

And there's the chance to improve. Tyler Seguin is already seeing the ice, and feeling the play like a 3 year veteran. Savard and Sturm are on the mend. Nine players on the roster are under 25.

But there's also room to improve. Tim Thomas had a simply stupendous night last night. But even before the silly goal he allowed, I intended to mention that he seemed a bit too confident and aggressive. I don't mind when he ventures a few feet out of the crease. But when the distance between him and the net is expressed in yards, not feet, I get a little concerned.

Then there was the puck handling. Not only was he struggling with it all night, his decisions to handle the puck at all were flat out stupid.

The goal Thomas allowed was a rarity. Almost never is a goal 100% the goalie's fault. This one was. Ference had 3 or 4 strides on Chimera. Even if Chimera was going to catch up, Ference was in perfect position to prevent any shot on net.

Thomas has every right to be thrilled at being back to Vezina form. But he needs to temper that excitement, and just do his job. Which he did pretty well last night.

Speaking of mistakes, Blake Wheeler made them almost every time he was on the ice. Awful shots, bad passes, turnovers, defensive miscues, general confusion. He's useless. At least Ryder's remembered how to be a goal scorer.

But I don't know how much longer Wheeler should be allowed to dress. When Sturm comes back, I'd rather have an energy guy like Caron on the ice. I guess you could take Marchand off, but who leaves when Savard returns?

The Bruins had severe difficulty moving the puck out of their own zone. In the 1st period, Thomas had to save the game multiple times because of this. Then with a 2-0 lead, Washington pressed, and it all happened again. This has been a glaring flaw for the Bruins for years, exposed most memorably by Carolina in 2009.

Defensemen don't have to score goals to contribute to the offense. They just have to move the puck forward. That also helps a great deal on defense. For years, B's fans have clamored for "a puck moving defenseman." Well, the team needs about four of those, not just one.

But back to positives:

Bergeron had a classic Bergeron game, and got 2 assists to show for it.

Boychuk remains a psycho.

Jordan Caron is fighting for that ice time, and he's winning the fight.

Chara and the defense put the hurt on Ovechkin, especially Seidenberg.


Horton has a point in all 5 games so far.

Lucic was effective on the boards, and in front of the net. I like seeing him on the PP unit, causing mayhem in the crease.

Rechhi as the point man for the PP unit seemed to work pretty well. We'll see what happens when opposing penalty killers challenge him at the blue-line. Nevertheless, the power-play looked vastly improved.

Ryder's trade value went up a notch.

Seguin is the total package. He can shoot, he can do the smart things defensively, and the kid can pass anywhere, anytime. If he ever gets paired with another player who can score like him, the flying circus shall commence.

Shawn Thornton's line was physical, they altered the flow of the game, and they left an impression.

I'm pretty excited. In case you can't tell by the length of this post recapping the 5th game of the regular season.

Bruins host the Rangers on Saturday night.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Last weekend my picks went 6-1, buoying my season record (against the spread) to 16-10-2. There are a few titanic clashes this Saturday, but there are also many seemingly smaller games that will have major implications within conferences. This week, I got my odds from Doc's Sports Services. All these games are on Saturday.

12:00 PM - ESPN
#7 Michigan State Spartans @ Northwestern Wildcats
This just feels like one of those crazy games. There's no logical reasoning for it, but I feel as though MSU has absolutely no shot to win this game. Northwestern +5.5.

3:30 PM - CBS
#6 LSU Tigers @ #4 Auburn Tigers
Biggest game of the day as two 7-0 SEC West contenders meet. I'm going with LSU +6, but mainly because I think it will be a close game. Also, Auburn's going to get unlucky, and one of these near-losses will become a loss.

3:30 PM - ABC
#16 Nebraska Cornhuskers @ #14 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State has yet to struggle on offense. Oklahoma State has yet to meet a defense like Nebraska's. Nebraska -5.5.

3:30 PM - ABC/ESPN
#13 Wisconsin Badgers @ #15 Iowa Hawkeyes
The hangover of a big win has been well-documented the last two seasons. That, and the game being in Iowa, is why I'm taking the Hawkeyes -5.5 I'd prefer a spread below 4, and in real life I might avoid this one. But less than a TD is enough for me.

3:30 PM - ESPNU
UConn Huskies @ Louisville Cardinals
I'm taking UConn +1 here. I might be the last person in the country that still thinks they're a decent team. But Louisville is utter garbage.

7:30 PM - ESPN2
UNC Tar Heels @ Miami Hurricanes
The U has been very inconsistent this year. You can classify them as a disappointment, but also as a pleasant surprise. They're still very much in contention to win their Division. They should handle the controversy-plagued Heels. Miami -6.5

7:30 PM - ESPN 3
Georgia Bulldogs @ Kentucky Wildcats
UGA sucks. Yet somehow, they're the favorites against 4-3 Kentucky, in Lexington. I'm taking UK +4.

8:00 PM - ABC
#1 Oklahoma Sooners @ #11 Missouri Tigers
I'm not entirely confident. #1 teams seem to be cursed. Mizzou is good. OU hasn't impressed me that much. And the game is in Columbia. That being said, I'll take the #1 team in the country -3 pretty much every time.

10:15 PM - ESPN
Washington Huskies @ #18 Arizona Wildcats
I just don't think Washington is very good. Arizona -6.5.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This was the biggest test of the year for the Bruins. New Jersey had been scuffling. But the Caps had been excelling. And the Bruins went down to Washington and won 3-1.

It is once again Tim Thomas time, folks. All the Tuukka Rask fans can pout, but Tim Thomas, so far, is back to Vezina form. He had more than a few big saves early on that maintained a 0-0 score until Horton and Krejci hooked up in the 1st.

I'm in love with Nathan Horton already. Unlike useless forwards like Ryder and Wheeler, Horton just understands what to do with the puck. He has good instincts, he's calm, he's precise, he's an NHL forward. Everything he does has a purpose. There's little hesitation, and no confusion.

Goaltending is an equation of time and space. How much time will some space be open for a shot to slip past. Horton's pass to Krejci, and then Krejci's sharpshooter strike, was an example of forwards defeating the goaltender's time/space equation. The space was closing, but Horton passed perfectly to Krejci, and Krejci shot in time to beat the goalie. Beautiful stuff.

Milan Lucic has added goal scoring to his repertoire. He's tallied 3 already. It took him 16 games to score 3 goals in 09-10. He's been hanging out in the slot, utilizing his quick hands, and outmuscling/outworking his opponent. Not only is he a junk-goal-junkie, he's a warrior on the boards, winning one-on-one battles about 2/3 of the time.

Speaking of warriors, Gregory Campbell is quickly becoming one of my favorite players. The Bruins need guys like this, who have an identity as a player. Blake Wheeler is still trying to find himself. And Michael Ryder is a finesse player that lacks the skills and poise to be any good. Campbell will not score, except by accident. Even his occasional assists will be by default. But he can alter the tempo and pace of a game.

If the Bruins could get their Power Play working, look out. That might change when/if Savard returns. Sturm also helps that unit.

If this team keeps its head about them, if they learn that killer instinct, if they learn how to turn a flesh wound into a mortal wound, how to turn a cut into a gash, an injury into a kill; they can do some serious damage in the Spring.

Capitals @ Bruins in the home opener Thursday. Are you pumped? Because I'm pumped.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo

Monday, October 18, 2010


Fun fact, the tickets for yesterday's Patriots games, which were mailed to season-ticket holders many months ago, featured an image of Randy Moss.

It was hard not to have flashbacks of 2003 and 2004 yesterday. Looking back at the Pats' historic (and still unmatched) 21 game win streak, you see lots of weird scores. 9-3, 12-0, even a 23-20 overtime win at Houston.

It wasn't pretty. Then again, we've been bitching about this team falling short in the 4th quarter. So let's enjoy them dominating the final phase of the game. The Pats held the Ravens to 31 yards in the 4th.

The Patriots' offense also wasn't pretty. Neither was it ugly. Danny Woodhead amassed 115 yards of offense. Deion Branch caught 9 passes for 98 yards and a score. While that was going on, BJG Ellis had a Maroneylike 20 yards on 10 carries. Brady's numbers were also unimpressive.

The defense came up with the big plays. Unlike the last 20 or 30 games, they were able to stop the opposing offense on 3rd downs. Baltimore only converted 5 of 16 3rd downs. The Ravens were held to 99 yards on the ground (2.9 per carry).

There were shades of 03-04, as the big defensive plays came from random guys like Jermaine Cunningham. That being said, the Ravens' offense is hardly dynamic. The Ravens run, and not amazingly so. Their passing offense is mediocre and simple. Even the Pats' secondary can handle it.

Also, the Patriots were at home, where they haven't lost a regular season game since 2008. Also, the Patriots were coming out of a bye week. 2002 was the last time they lost after a bye week. They had two weeks to prepare for Baltimore. The Ravens only had a week, and all their film of the Pats' offense was less relevant, as the gameplan would be much different without Moss.

But I look at the NFL standings, and the Patriots are right at the top. They have the 2nd best record in a League loaded with mediocrity. 12 teams are either at .500, or one game above or below. These games, and ultimately the season, will be decided by the slimmest of margins. The teams that can make big plays, avoid stupid penalties (Meriweather, that's you), will be the team that goes the furthest.

Patriots at the 2-4 Chargers next week.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I didn't have any picks last week as I was on vacation. But two weeks ago, I went 4-6-1, which drops my yearly record against the spread to 10-9-2. It's time for me to rebound. As usual, I'll be using the spreads found at

Thursday - 7:30 PM - ESPN
South Florida Bulls @ #25 West Virginia Moutnaineers
WVU are the closest thing to a legit team in the Big East. South Florida lost to Syracuse, and struggled to put up points. I'm taking WVU -10.

All other games are on Saturday...

12:00 PM - ESPN3
Pitt Panthers @ Syracuse Orange
This is a pick game, and I'm picking Pitt. Syracuse may be 4-1, but two of those wins came against Maine and Colgate. Pitt has disappointed so far, but it's still Syracuse.

12:00 PM - ESPN2
Maryland Terrapins @ Clemson Tigers
Clemson is favored by over two touchdowns. Granted, they're at home. They're also 2-3, and 0-2 in ACC play. The spread's too juicy, I'm taking Maryland, +15.

12:00 PM - BigTen Network
Illinois Fighting Illini @ #13 Michigan State Spartans
The undefeated Spartans host a 3-2 team, and somehow the spread is only 7 points. MSU -7.

3:30 PM
California Golden Bears @ USC Trojans
OK, so USC isn't good unless they pay their players. But guess what, Cal isn't good either. I'm taking the men of Troy -2.5

3:30 PM - ABC
Texas Longhorns @ #5 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Under Mack Brown, Texas has never lost 3 straight. While I think they'll accomplish this feat on Saturday, they won't do it by many points. Nebraska is good, but won't score enough to cover the spread. They'll thoroughly dominate the game, but won't cover the 9.5. Longhorns +9.5

7:00 PM
Baylor Bears @ Colorado Buffaloes
A pair of half-decent Big XII teams. But I'll sat Baylor is 55% decent, and I'm taking BU -1.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The owners of the Boston Red Sox are expanding their sporting conglomerate to Old England, purchasing soccer team Liverpool FC. The acquisition itself will cost New England Sports Ventures (NESV) about 300 million Pounds, or $476 million.

That's actually a fairly low price for a world famous soccer club like Liverpool. In January, Forbes Magazine valued Liverpool at just around $1 billion. So why the discount?

Because, as they say in England, Liverpool is in the shit. Both competitively, and financially.

They're currently 18th in the 20 team English Premier League. And in case you don't know, the 18th, 19th, and 20th placed teams in the Premier League are demoted to the minors at the end of each season. It's called relegation.

But it's early in the season, and Liverpool should avoid that fate. At the same time, they'll likely fail to qualify for the European Champions League (a competition between the top club teams in Europe, which also pays out huge cash prizes for qualification, advancement, and winning. The top 4 English teams qualify).

And that brings us to Liverpool's financial woes. The club is 280 million Pounds ($445 million) in debt. That's why they were so cheap to buy. And as part of the purchase, NESV has claimed that they'll repay that debt. So in essence, NESV is paying $476 million to buy the team, then another $445 million to get it out of debt. That's a $921 million total price tag.

You could pay Adrian Beltre $15 million a year, for 61 years, with that money.

I'm not John Henry's financial advisor. I don't care if he makes money or loses money on this deal. I'm a soccer fan, but Arsenal FC is my team, and I'm fairly indifferent to the fate of Liverpool.

But I am a Red Sox fan.

And as a fan, it irks me that our ownership is taking on such a massive undertaking. They want to return Liverpool FC to competetive prominence (18 English titles in their history, but 0 since 1990). They also want to return it to solvency. It's an involved and difficult project that will take time, effort, ingenuity, and resources.

It sounds eerily similar to something like buying a Boston based baseball club in 2002. An historic franchise that hasn't won in awhile, plays in an antiquated facility, and struggles to make money. Is that the Red Sox in 2002, or Liverpool in 2010?

But the competition is much stronger and much higher in number for Liverpool. The Red Sox only had to contend with one New York Yankees. In England, there are several teams with that level of resources and clout. Manchester United, my Arsenal, Tottenham. Not to mention clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City, which are owned by sketchy international billionaires that pour huge sums of cash into their teams.

And it doesn't stop there. Liverpool has to compete with teams from Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and so on. These teams are constantly bidding against each other for talent (players are rarely free agents, their contracts are typically bought and sold by teams, for huge amounts of money), not just playing each other on the field.

These teams also compete for fans (and ultimately, money) across the globe. Liverpool has an international following, but not nearly on the scale as Manchester United's, or Real Madrid's.

As a Sox fan, I don't like this situation one bit. The Sox need to be rebuilt, after finishing 3rd. Fenway Park has improved over the past decade, but it's still a 100 year old relic. The Yankees are improving, both competitively, and financially. And the Sox are remaining stagnant. Could you imagine the Yankees front office publicly (or privately), discussing a "Bridge Season?"

How does the purchase of a financially struggling soccer team help the Sox? Is there any synergy? NESN can't broadcast Liverpool games, because like the NFL, the Premier League negotiates TV contracts as a whole. Maybe Liverpool can come to Fenway every summer and play a game. But how much extra cash can that generate? Englishmen hate baseball. And Americans hate soccer.

I didn't mind NESV's acquirement of 50% of a NASCAR team a few years ago. The team had recent success, but just needed an influx of capital. The team's other owners still ran the racing and the business, and it didn't seem like NESV needed to pay much attention to what was going on.

At the same time, it's not as if Roush-Fenway has been a spectacular success. And it's certainly helped the racing team more than the baseball team.

It's disturbing that while the zeal for improving the Red Sox has gradually petered out, it's coincided with this notion of resurrecting Liverpool. There's a new flame in John Henry's life. He has a new challenge. And he'll dive into the dealings of Liverpool FC, and probably hire the right people to turn it around, invest resources properly, and maybe Liverpool will return to the elite echelon of the soccer world.

But it will come at the expense of the Red Sox. Henry and NESV won't let the Sox get worse. But they won't do everything possible to improve them, not like they did back in 2003 or 2004. We'll have more bridges than Madison County around here.

Hopefully I'm wrong. But every time the Sox pinch a penny instead of retain/acquire talent, we can guess that Liverpool FC needs to buy a new midfielder.

Red Sox Nation, John Henry has found someone else. He's not interested in us anymore. It's not us, it's him. Remember, he's from Quincy, Illinois, not Quincy, Massachusetts. And to any Liverpool fans reading this, he's not from Merseyside either, so enjoy his attention and affection while it lasts.


The weekend the Bruins had in Prague could have been used to sum up the entire 2009-10 season. And that's what worries me. They played uninspired, flat hockey. Then they were sparked, played hard, fought for loose pucks, made smart decisions, and outworked their opponent.

This routine repeated itself over and over last season. The B's would play three great games, then look lackadaisical for a pair of games, then reinvigorated for two more games, then listless for three, et cetera.

It even happens during the game itself. The Bruins consistently play their worst hockey when up by 3 goals. That's absurd. They get careless, they don't fight, they just try to cruise by until the clock hits 0:00. That doesn't work in hockey. And you'd think after what happened against Philadlephia last year, the Bruins wouldn't be so complacent when up 2-0 on Phoenix with 15 minutes of hockey left to play.

I'm also going to relentlessly criticize Tuukka Rask. Why? Because those legions of Tuukka Time Tards gave Timmy "I won the Vezina for Boston" Thomas far too much of the blame for the Bruins' struggles, and gave Rask far too much of the credit for the Bruins' success.

Furthermore, I don't like Rask. I don't like how small he is, I hate his collapsing style, and I hate his face.

Rask was awful in Saturday's game. The Bruins played better in front of Thomas on Sunday, so Timmy was never put in the same unfortunate situations that Rask faced on Saturday. Then again, Rask put himself out of position far too often.

The power play unit was dreadful. When the Bruins had the man advantage, the Coyotes had better offensive opportunities. That problem needs to be immediately addressed. I like Hunwick out there. I don't like Blake Wheeler out there.

On the bright side, Nathan Horton looks phenomenal. And Seguin's poise and comfort during his breakaway goal was impressive.

So while at first I was satisfied with how the Bruins turned things around in their second game out there, I'm going to refrain from commending them for doing so. At least until they've put together a nice long streak of good efforts. I'm not expecting 82 games of playoff-level intensity. But lack-of-effort games like Saturday's should be rare and occasional. At the moment, it comprises half the season.

I'll have a very thorough (although late) season preview for the Bruins before their next game. Which is Saturday night in New Jersey.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo


The Patriots sent a 4th round pick to Seattle for the services of Deion Branch. And everyone who bought a discount Branch jersey from the Pro Shop feels great about it. Although, he'll likely have to wear a different number, as Welker currently owns his old digits.

The critics/haters/morons-who-think-they're-smart out there will deride this deal. "You replace Moss with Branch, just to move up 30 picks in the draft?"

Yes. Because how many problems has Branch created in his career? Branch and the Patriots didn't part on great terms after '05, but there wasn't much animosity. And unlike Moss, there's no wake of destruction left behind him.

Branch is no Randy Moss. He's 7 inches shorter, has never had a 1,000 yard season (had 998 in '05), has never averaged over 15 yards per catch, and only has 20 career TDs.

Branch has only caught 13 passes for Seattle this season, for 139 yards. He'll contribute as a 3rd or 4th option in certain plays. He'll catch a few passes, but won't disrupt defenses the way Randy Moss did.

Nor will he disrupt the locker room. You can pretty much guarantee that. And while Randy hadn't yet disrupted the Patriots locker room, I challenge even the most anti-Moss-trade people out there to attempt to guarantee that for Randy Moss.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010



After Week 1 of the season, Randy Moss asked the Patriots for a trade. He got his wish. Why? Why now and not in Week 1? Why did the Patriots grant him this, but not a similar request made by Logan Mankins?

Why trade him now and not in Week 1?

The Patriots know that Wes Welker is healthy. They know that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski will contribute on offense. But what I think is that a guy like Randy Moss might ask for a trade, then a week later ask not to be traded. You don't just trade Moss on a whim. You wait, see if he feels the same tomorrow. There's also a possibility that the situation in the locker room had started to deteriorate. Do you think his teammates were big Randy Moss fans after his post-win tirade in Week 1?

There's already a story about Moss arguing with QB Coach Tom O'Brien during halftime of Monday's game. That seems like a small thing, but is more serious stuff unbelievable? Is it hard to believe that his teammates would get into arguments about Randy Moss, some supporting him, some annoyed by him? Is it hard to believe that the Patriots wanted to end the division before it became a problem? This is all theorizing, but is it an unrealistic theory?

But it would be stupid for Moss to pull any crap in a contract year.

Very true. Although, as great as Moss is, he has a history of pulling stupid crap.

But that's ancient history. So let's try some recent stupid crap-pulling...

But why grant Moss's wish and not Mankins?

Logan Mankins isn't anywhere near the team. He's perhaps not as much of a divisive force as Moss is.

Couldn't the Pats have waited until Moss became a bigger problem?

Perhaps. But the deadline is October 19th.

I don't like this trade. I don't like that it happened. I'm actually upset, and a bit worried that without the defense paying Moss so much attention, guys like Welker and Hernandez might suffer. But I also don't know what's going on day-to-day inside Gillette Stadium's locker rooms.

And guess what, neither do you.


DO NOT PANIC! Everybody in this town needs to calm themselves. Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings for a 3rd round pick. That sounds awful. And a complete surprise. Why?

That's the big question: why? And without knowing the why, it's impossible to properly assess this deal. I'll concede that on the surface, it's unnecessary, and it makes the team worse. And I have no idea why the Patriots have done it. That's precisely why I won't criticize or praise them for doing it.

"In Bill We Trust."

It's not just trust in Belichick and the Pats. It's a simple fact: The Patriots know more about what's going on with the Patriots than I do. The Patriots know when a player wants to be traded. They know when a player demands to be traded. They know when a player, who has a history of quitting on plays, demands to be traded.

Let's also not deify Moss. He was and is a great receiver. He's the best deep ball receiver in the NFL today and possibly ever, due to his long stride, height, and strength. Even when not targeted, he absorbed attention from the defense, clearing up the underneath stuff for guys like Welker and Tate.

But he was not an inside receiver, or an underneath receiver. He couldn't block. He hardly ever accumulated yards after the catch. I'm not trying to be the Red Sox here, and demean a departing player. But I haven't been much of a Randy Moss fan lately, and found him to be two dimensional at best.

The Patriots know what they're doing. They wouldn't just dump a talent like Moss on a whim. The trade might be good or bad, but until we know the reasoning behind it, we cannot truly know or opine with any merit.

What I do know is that on October 31st, the Vikings come to Gillette Stadium. That should be more than a little interesting.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Many things became a bit clearer on Saturday. One thing that's clear is that there'll be no clear choice for the National Title Game. Here are the lessons...


NC State was a contender, but they were slightly exposed by Virginia Tech. Florida State also shouldn't be overlooked. But nobody can beat Miami on paper. On the field, however, Jacory Harris can make some ridiculously token throws, and awful decisions. He'll probably cost the Canes a game this season. But so long as it's not next week against FSU, the U will be fine.


Stop whining for Boise State, who get the lion's share of the attention for being the non-BCS underdog. TCU could be the team that gets screwed, partially because they play a more simplistic brand of football compared to Boise, and partially because they were ranked 6th in the preseason poll. TCU crushed Baylor, who've otherwise looked decent. They'll also play #25 Air Force and #10 Utah. If they win those games and run the table, they'll deserve a title shot as much as Boise, if not more.


The SEC has 6 teams in the AP Top 25. The BigTen has 5. The Big XII 4, The Pac-10 and Mountain West each have 3, the WAC and ACC have 2. The Big East have none. West Virginia increased their vote totals and would be 26th, but they were idle. The Big East as a whole went 5-1 on Saturday, all against dreadful competition. Rutgers lost 17-14 at home to Tulane.


The Big XII South remains in doubt, as the Sooners still have to travel to Columbia, College Station, Waco, and Stillwater. But Texas hasn't just lost twice, they've lost their most important conference game, and unlike Oklahoma, they have to play Nebraska.


Tell that to 2 AP voters, and 1 Coaches' Poll voter. The Tide returned most of their offense this year, but only 1 defensive starter came back. Would they be able to play good defense in the SEC? We know now that the answer is "yes." Bama already has two huge conference wins under their belt, which is huge. They'll have to keep it up next week @ South Carolina and future meetings with LSU and Auburn. They also have some nice easy games mixed in there. Go Bama! Roll Tide!


This is why there should be no preseason poll. In fact, there probably shouldn't be a poll until October. Ohio State is ranked #2 in both polls. Oregon is ranked #3. OSU has a quality win over Miami. Oregon has a quality win over Stanford. OSU barely beat Illinois on the road. Oregon has played two road games and won both fairly easily. I'll take Oregon over Ohio State. At the very least, they're on the same level.


What do Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State all have in common? They all have to play in Iowa City. Iowa just throttled Penn State out there, and as the weather gets cold and windy, it becomes a very very tough place to play. The Big Ten will be a mess all year, and Iowa could very well emerge on top.


Nevada destroyed UNLV 44-26, improving to 5-0. They're 5th in the country with 303.8 rushing yards per game. They're 4th with 44.6 points per game. And they're a decent 40th, allowing only 20.0 points per game. They host Boise State on November 26th, in Reno, NV.