Friday, November 30, 2012

Ignorant College Football Picks*

My picks were 14-9 last week, which brings my season record to a very even 77-75-1. Here are my picks for this weekend's games. Be forewarned, that this post includes pictures of scantily clad females showing school pride.

Stanford -8 vs. UCLA
Stanford did it once, they'll do it again.

Oklahoma State -4.5 @ Baylor
Baylor without RG3 is like Baylor again.

Oklahoma -6 @ TCU
Sooners win these types of games.

UConn +5 vs. Cincinnati
One last time picking the Huskies.

Georgia +8.5 vs. Alabama (Atlanta, GA)
Bama has a good chance of winning this game, I just think it will be tight.

Florida State -14 vs. Georgia Tech (Charlotte, NC)
FSU is really good. GT is only in the ACC title game because UNC and Miami can't be.

Texas +10.5 @ Kansas State
Texas could surprise people.

Nebraska -3 vs. Wisconsin (Indianapolis, IN)
Wisconsin is only in the Big Ten title game because OSU and PSU can't be.

Red Sox Interested in Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster is old (turns 36 in May), struggled in the AL last year, and has an astonishingly meiocre career record of 124-124. So is he worth signing? He would add depth to the Red Sox rotation, but would also add salary. Perhaps too much salary. And in his one foray into AL baseball, with Texas last season, he struggled.

The Red Sox are reportedly in talks with him. But Dempster is the type of guy who you add to a rotation that is already good at the top. He's a guy that completes an already good rotation, not a guy who turns around a bad rotation.

The top of the Red Sox rotation is not good. It's got more question marks than The Riddler's wardrobe. Dempster is a decent pitcher, but the price he seems to be commanding on the open market is too high.

The Red Sox are like a fishing boat with plenty of bait, but few fish biting. They shouldn't waste their bait to get medium-sized fish. They should save it for the big ones that will be available in the years to come.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Bonds, Clemens, and Even Sosa Should Be Inducted Into the Hall of Fame

I don't like Sammy Sosa, I hate Barry Bonds, and I will laugh the day Roger Clemens dies. But all three of these PED assisted freaks should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Because baseball can't pretend that the steroid era didn't exist, nor can it act morally superior to something that it participated in and benefited from.

The Hall of Fame is baseball's last bastion of the illusion that it is, or ever was, a pure game. That's why some are so adamantly against admitting the likes of Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa.

These so-called purists aren't defending the game, or the Hall. They're defending their own delusions. They're in denial. They think that impurity is something new to the game.

The game has always had dirty aspects to it. It was white-only until 1947. Players didn't have basic labor rights until free agency. Cocaine and amphetamines were an everyday part of the sport in the 1970s.

And the Hall of Fame has already been infiltrated by filth. Ty Cobb is in the Hall, despite the fact that he was a bigot, once beat up a crippled man, probably fixed games, and probably killed at least one person. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey is in the Hall of Fame and he was so cheap that he made his players pay to launder their uniforms. Those players eventually threw the 1919 World Series. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey is in the Hall of Fame despite running a racist organization that was offered and declined a chance to sign Negro Leaguer Willie Mays. The Red Sox didn't integrate until 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Baseball cannot move forward from the steroid era until it acknowledges that it occurred and is a part of the game's history. The purists who don't want to see Barry Bonds's HGH swollen head on a bronze plaque are desperate to avoid admitting that their sacred game isn't as chaste and innocent as they proclaim it to be.

And these BBWA purists were the same sportswriters who failed to unearth and expose the wide-scale cheating they are now so vehemently against. These writers saw Barry Bonds's skull grow, they saw Sosa and Mark McGwire's inhuman biceps that were as big as most men's thighs, and all these writers could do was applaud. They buzzed with excitement during the homerun race between Sosa and McGwire. They marveled at the shape Roger Clemens was in despite his age. They theorized about Alex Rodriguez hitting 800 homeruns. They even explained the explosion in offense with juiced balls and smaller ballparks.

Now they're rallying against the same players whose PED aided deeds they filled their sports pages with. These hypocrites shouldn't be the ones who know prevent Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa from being inducted.

So let the freaks in. There are segregationist owners in the Hall so why not PED assisted players?

Rajon Rondo Acts Like a Moron in Celtics/Nets "Brawl"

If someone tells you there was a "brawl" at a Bruins game, you'd imagine a 5 on 5, haymaker throwing, bloody rumble. When someone tells you there was a "brawl" at a basketball game, you imagine lots of verbal threats, posturing, and some shoving. Then you imagine basketball fans talking about toughness and physicality. Then, as a hockey fan, you watch some PJ Stock videos and weep, because you miss the game.

This Rondo/Humphies incident wasn't a "brawl." It was s scrap, a tussle, an altercation, and maybe even a fight. It was a semi-fight. Hardly a "brawl." It was nothing more than shoving, and it was nothing short of moronic. Rajon Rondo didn't defend his teammates, he abandoned them.

I like Rondo. I've frequently defended him when he's criticized, or when his name is bandied about in trade rumors. But this was simply childish. It was a hard foul on Kevin Garnett, but are a few shoves of vengeance worth being ejected and possibly suspended for?

One legitimate criticism of Rondo has been that his maturity level hasn't increased as much as his skill and talent have. The scrap last night is a great example of this. He let his emotions dictate his decisions, and it cost the Celtics his services for the remainder of the game. He hurt his teammates more than Kris Humphries hurt Garnett with that foul.

Photo Credit:
The Associated Press

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nick Swisher Doesn't Excite Me, and Maybe That's a Good Thing

The Red Sox are reportedly working on a deal to bring Nick Swisher to Boston, as well as deals to bring in Mike Napoli and keep Cody Ross here.

Nick Swisher is not a great player. Last year he was paid $10.25 million to hit 24 homeruns, with a .272 average, .364 OBP, and .473 SLG. He's good, not great. So if the Sox sign him I won't be overjoyed.

And perhaps that's a good thing. So long as the price is right, Swisher can be a solid acquisition that doesn't tie down lots of money. And that money can be used to acquire pitchers, which is what this team really needs.

He also seems like a douchebag, which usually means he's good at baseball.

But I can't emphasize enough how important price is in this decision. Swisher isn't worth a big contract. And if the Sox sign him to one, I can't help but think they're trying to fill up their payroll so Larry Lucchino can boast about how much the team is trying to win.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jon Lester for Wil Myers?

I doubt this deal will happen or is even being seriously discussed by the Red Sox and Royals. Nevertheless, it's a cold and wet Tuesday with little else happening, so let's discuss the potential deal.

Firstly, both these players annoy me with how they spell their names. Wil Myers's full name is William Myers. What did he do with that extra 'L?' And do his friends call him "Bil" or "Wily?" I find his name to be sily.

If this move exists, which it doesn't, the Sox should do it. Jon Lester is what he is. He's at best a 2/3 type of starter. He never took that step forward to being an Ace, and instead took several steps backward last season. His greatest strength, before last season, was his dependability. And now that's gone.

How important is Jon Lester to the long-term (next 5 years) success of this team? I don't think he's exceptionally valuable. I also think replacing him (even upgrading from him) isn't difficult.

Wil Myers is a prospect with tremendous upside and great minor league numbers (he hit 37 HRs in AA and AAA last year, with a .304 AAA average, .378 OBP, and .554 SLG). He has no Major League experience, and prospects are never guaranteed, but he's got the potential.

He could be an All-Star caliber player for 15 years to come. He can play the outfield and third base so it's easy for him to make his way into a lineup.

And perhaps most importantly, he could help the Red Sox acquire the Ace they covet. With Myers, the Red Sox can offer a trade package much more tantalizing to bad teams that have great pitchers.

So the Sox should pull the trigger on this nonexistent gun.

The deal doesn't make much sense for KC, though. They'd get Lester for one year and pay him $13 million. Then he'd hit free agency. Why would a small market team give up a blue chip prospect to rent a mediocre pitcher?

Jermaine Cunningham Suspended for PEDs

The Patriots will lose the services of Jermaine Cunningham for 4 games. He was suspended by the NFL for an unspecified violation of banned substance policies blah blah blah. He took something illegal, got caught, now he's got 4 weeks off.

This was part of a wave of PED suspensions announced by the League. Many of them for adderall. I'm glad Ithaca College didn't make their students take piss tests because I wouldn't have passed Modern Western Civilization without adderall.

Maybe they'll put an asterisk on my transcript.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boston College Fires Frank Spaziani

Recently hired athletic director Brad Bates recently fired football coach Frank Spaziani. The move was entirely expected and a necessary decision.

It's an unfortunate end to Spaz's tenure at BC. He's been with the program since 1997, first as a runningback coach, then as the defensive coordinator for 10 years. He was promoted to head coach in 2009.

The BC football program wanted a guy whose ultimate career goal was to be the head coach of BC football. That was not a wise philosophy. Almost all programs in the country are stepping-stone programs for coaches aspiring to raise themselves to the NFL level or to the mega programs like Alabama and Texas. There's no shame in being a coach's resumé builder, so long as the program is successful.

Some candidates to replace Spaz include Harvard coach Tim Murhpy. The Crimson finished the year 8-2. Miami coach Al Golden is another possibility. So is Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

Whoever the new coach is, they inherit a program that needs a major overhaul. I'd like to see BC implement a more modern offensive style. Not only would it be entertaining, it would attract skill position players who would be drawn by the idea of more chances to get the ball and more chances to make plays.

BC also needs a coach who can recruit from top to bottom. BC is never going to attract the elite blue chip prospects, so they must get depth, and find talented players that are overlooked by other programs.

It was only a few years ago that BC was ranked as high as #2 in the country, and annually contended for the ACC title. It's possible to return to those days, it will just take time.

Why Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te'o Should Win the Heisman

Let me preface this argument by saying that I don't like Notre Dame. I hate Notre Dame. I do get goosebumps while watching Rudy but apart from that I'm vehemently against anything that glorifies or promotes or helps Notre Dame in any way shape or form.

That being said, I think Manti Te'o, a linebacker for the Fighting Irish, should win the Heisman.

Maybe it's because I want to see a defensive player win the Heisman. Maybe it's because he's Hawaiian but his last name backwards looks semi-Irish (O'et). His name backwards also looks like the name of a mythical Druidic warrior from some ancient Irish saga.

Anyway, my argument for Manti Te'o to win the Heisman is two-pronged. Firstly, there is no clear-cut offensive candidate to win the Heisman. Secondly, Te'o does something that is a rare accomplishment for defensive players.

There is no RG3 this season. There are some fine Heisman candidates with impressive stats. Although few of them are on teams contending for a national title. And none of them are especially outstanding. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M has had a fine year, but he's not amazing. Collin Klein of Kansas State is a dual threat QB, but that's nothing new. Marquise Lee is a ridiculously talented wide receiver who probably deserves it more than any QB, but he's still a receiver dependent on a talented passer to deliver the ball to him.

So there's no outright offensive player who has a strong claim to the Heisman.

Here is why Manti Te'o should therefore win it: He controls the game on defense. That is exceedingly difficult to do. It's easier for a quarterback, who handles the ball almost every down, to control the game. But for a defensive player to exert as much influence on the game as Manti Te'o does is simply extraordinary.

Te'o would be the first defensive player since Charles Woodson in 1997 to win the Heisman. The award is almost never given to a strictly defensive player. Even Woodson returned punts and played a few snaps as a wide receiver.

But considering there's no clear offensive candidate, and that Te'o is the best player on a #1 team, and that he controls the game as much as any defensive player could, I think he deserves the trophy.

Red Sox Sign Mediocre Jonny Gomes

When the very first thing people say about an athlete is something about their character, you know that said athlete probably isn't a particularly talented player. That's the case with Jonny Gomes. John Tomase of the Boston Herald wrote about Jonny Gomes's character giving the Red Sox a "face-lift."'s Extra Bases said Gomes "has some personality."

Meanwhile, says Jonny Gomes is a .244 hitter who averages 25 homeruns every 162 games he plays, but has only played more than 120 games once in his career.

The Red Sox signed Gomes to a two year deal worth $10 million. He's a platoon player and the Sox threw $5 million a season at him. Why not?

It's not a horrific move. And $10 million over 2 years hardly handcuffs this team's finances. I just enjoy certain members of the Boston Sports Media sucking up to the Red Sox and praising Jonny Gomes's character.

Character and clubhouse chemistry are products of winning on the field. And pitching determines success on the field. You could put Mother Theresa and Rudy Reuttiger in the 2011 Red Sox clubhouse and they'd still collapse.

But I'm sure signing Jonny Gomes to a $5 million salary has nothing to do with Ben Cherington's weird promise that the Sox will have a big payroll. I'm sure it was strictly a baseball move.

BC Hockey Grinds Out Win Over Dartmouth

There was an unofficial ECAC/Hockey East challenge over the weekend. Merrimack and Colgate tied 1-1, St. Lawrence beat Northeastern 5-2 then lost to BU 4-0, Quinnipiac and UMass tied 2-2, UMass-Lowell beat Princeton 3-1, Providence crushed Brown 7-0 in the Mayor's Cup, and BC outlasted Dartmouth 6-3. So Hockey East won this interconference challenge 4-1-2.

Boston College and Dartmouth (who were ranked 11th coming into the weekend) played a tight, very physical game. The 6-3 final score doesn't do justice for how close of a contest it was.

It was 3-3 going into the final period. For the first 40 minutes the puck spent most of its time near the boards as BC and Dartmouth jousted for possession. There were a few breakaways, but few clean offensive opportunities. Stringing together more than two passes in the middle of the ice was next to impossible.

BC's firepower won out in the 3rd. Pat Mullane scored his 2nd goal of the game 18 seconds into the period. Then Steven Whitney scored his 7th of the season for insurance. Johnny Gaudreau added an empty-netter. He finished the game with 2 goals and 3 assists.

In 11 games this season Gaudreau has 9 goals, 10 assists, and is +15. He's the biggest reason the Eagles are 10-1-0 and #1 in the country.

The victory was Jerry York's 923rd career win. He is now 1 shy of tying the all-time record for college hockey wins, held by Ron Mason. BC plays at BU on Friday, then hosts BU Saturday night. Both games will be televised nationally on NBC Sports.

Photo Credit:
BC Athletics

Patriots Feast on Jets

I was thankful for many things on Thanksgiving. Friends, family, food. And I was thankful for a stress-free fourth quarter in a Patriots game. Because the game was over by halftime. 35 points scored in the 2nd quarter, 21 of which were scored in less than a minute. I've never laughed harder in my life.

The Jets are an awful team. So beating up on them is sort of like Oregon beating Idaho State. It's a good win, but the caliber of opponent isn't very high. The Jets are not a measuring-stick team.

Nevertheless, it's hard not to be very pleased as a Patriots fan right now. They're beating the teams they should beat. They're squeezing out tough wins. And they're taking care of business in the division. They've averaged 46.5 points per game in their last four games. And they're only allowing 20.3 points per game in that span.

Now they have a few extra days off before a trip to Miami, where they can clinch the AFC East title with a win. Potential hat and t-shirt game Sunday at 1.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Bruins Ruined My Birthday

I turn 28 on Friday. And before the Lockout I'd been hoping to attend the annual Bruins Black Friday matinee at the Garden. It would have been a fun treat. It was not to be.

I'll get over it, of course. But I can't help but think about the younger boys and girls who would have had their birthday celebrations at the Garden this season, watching the Bruins play.

Across the continent, thousands, even millions of children are not attending NHL hockey games. These are the potential future fans of the League and the game. And instead of going to games or watching them on TV, they'll find something else to do. There's no shortage of entertainment choices out there.

How many young people, in desperate confusion, will pick up the nasty habit of playing lacrosse? How many average height and short kids will play basketball, think their fundamentals and ball handling will make up for their lack of height, only to lose a spot on a Division III team to a 7 footer from Belarus who's never even seen a basketball?

How many young Shawn Thorntons are out there with no positive forums for their anger and strength? How many young Zdeno Charas are working at libraries stocking very tall shelves instead of skating in rinks?

The NHL, led by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, are determined to make it as difficult as possible to be a hockey fan. Kids, whose attention spans are at an all-time low, can't become fans of a game that isn't being played. They'll find something else to entertain them.

The NHL and the Bruins didn't actually ruin my birthday. But they are ruining themselves by alienating an entire generation of young hockey fans.

Ignorant College Football Picks*

It's a good weekend for rivalries. I didn't make any picks last week. Sorry. So far on the season I'm 63-66-1, and pleasantly surprised to not be doing worse. Here are my picks for Thanksgiving weekend:

Texas -7 vs. TCU
Weird not seeing UT play A&M on Thanksgiving.

Syracuse -7.5 @ Temple
I hate picking Syracuse.

Iowa +15 vs. Nebraska
Iowa at home, Nebraska might be thinking past them. Could be close.

LSU -12 @ Arkansas
The Razorbacks are not good at all.

Central Michigan -10.5 @ UMass
Always pick against the Minutemen.

West Virginia -1.5 @ Iowa State
Why not.

Rutgers +2 @ Pitt
Future Big Ten vs. future ACC.

Virginia +10 @ Virginia Tech
Horrible year for football in VA.

Northwestern -19 vs. Illinois
Smart school prevails.

Michigan +3.5 @ Ohio State
Don't know why.

Georgia -13 vs. Georgia Tech
Tune up for Bama.

Louisville -11.5 vs. UConn

Texas Tech +2.5 vs. Baylor
Game is in Lubbock, go with Red Raiders.

Maryland +24.5 @ North Carolina
Big spread.

Boston College +14.5 @ NC State
BC has played their last games very close.

Oregon -9.5 @ Oregon State
Angry ducks pound Beavers.

Florida +7 vs. Florida State

Oklahoma -7 vs. Oklahoma State
Bedlam in Norman.

Penn State -2.5 vs. Wisconsin
Good season for PSU.

Alabama -31 vs. Auburn
The Tide have truly rolled.

Stanford -2 @ UCLA
Trees continue to grow.

South Carolina +4 @ Clemson

USC +7 vs. Notre Dame
Hopeful pick.

Patriots-Jets Drinking Game: Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving, a time for football and goddamned snacks. And after dealing with your family for a few hours, you might want to drink heavily.

Anytime a commentator says...
"Thanksgiving" = 1 drink from a beer
"Happy" = 1 drink
"Turkey" = 1 drink
"Gobble" = 1 shot of Wild Turkey
"Snack" = 1 drink
"Trimmings" = 1 drink
"Potatoes" = 1 shot of vodka
"Cranberry" = 1 cup of vodka and cranberry
"Stuffing" = 1 drink
"Yams" = drink beer for 10 seconds
"Gravy" = drink a gravy boat full of beer
"Feast" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on the screen:
A member of the broadcast crew greeting their family = 1 drink
A turkey (living, cooked, or cartoon) = 1 drink
Rex Ryan smiling = 1 drink
Bill Belichick scowling = 1 drink
Bill Parcells = 1 drink
Eric Mangini = 1 drink
Curtis Martin = drink for 28 seconds
A player or coach wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving = 1 drink
Pilgrims = 1 drink
Plymouth Rock = drink as much as you can for 16 minutes and 20 seconds (16:20)
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking = drink as long as he talks

Anytime this happens:
The broadcasters thank you for welcoming them into your home = drink for 15 seconds
Tom Brady yells "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink
Patriots get a 1st down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Patriots allow 15+ yard pass play = 1 drink
Mark Sanchez makes a dumb throw = 1 drink
Sanchez throws a pass that's tipped = 1 drink
Patriots force a turnover = 1 drink
Vince Wilfork forces or recovers a turnover = 1 drink
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 whole beer, 1 shot, 1 pumpkin pie
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink during the entire return

Please get lubed up responsibly and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bill Belichick Causes Freak Injury

Rob Gronkowski got hurt and I'm angry! And it's Bill Belichick's fault!

Why was Gronk in there? It was a meaningless PAT in a meaningless part of the game and it resulted in a very meaningful injury. Belichick should have taken him out. He should have gone up to him before the PAT, said "Rob, you're more important than your teammates, stay on the sidelines where it's safe."

I know PATs usually aren't dangerous, but why take any risk at all? Gronk is an important part of the team, more important than his teammates, and the best thing for the team was for Belichick to point out to the team that Gronkowski is separate from and above teammates.

I know Belichick has won some Super Bowls here, and he drafted guys like Tom Brady, and Gronkowski, and so on and so forth. He's a good coach. But I'm getting tired of all the "In Bill We Trust" people who blindly support everything he does. I'm allowed to question and even criticize him. I'm tired of me, the sports media, and thousands of fans being silenced. All we have to voice our opinions are newspapers, blogs, sports radio, Twitter, and Facebook. Somehow, we will be heard!

Look, I obviously don't want Belichick to be fired. I just want him to change what he does and how he does it. It clearly doesn't work, because if it did, Gronkowski wouldn't be injured right now.

What Belichick should have done, for the good of the team, is to tell an individual player that he was more important than his teammates. That he was precious, and must be preserved and protected. Then after the game, give a speech to the team about how important Rob Gronkowski's health is, and how dangerous PATs are.

Nothing builds a team mentality better than putting individual players on a pedestal, and dividing the team into two groups: important stars, and expendable laborers. That, along with an intense fear of injury, are how winning teams are built.

End Sarcasm.

Monday, November 19, 2012

BC Hockey Comes Back Against Merrimack

#1 ranked Boston College continued to roll, beating Merrimack 4-3 Friday night. The Eagles fell behind by 3 goals in the 2nd period, but erased that deficit in less than 5 minutes, also in the 2nd period. Then in the 3rd, Steven Whitney's 6th goal of the season gave the Eagles their 8th win, and coach Jerry York's 922nd career victory (the record is 924).

After Merrimack went up 3-0, Whitney started the scoring for BC in the 2nd. So far this season the senior from Reading, Mass. has been BC's secret weapon behind Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau assisted both Whitney's scores. Patrick Wey and Danny Linell scored BC's other goals.

The Eagles shot the puck 42 times, and barely missed on a few scoring opportunities in the 1st period. BC didn't figure out Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta until the 2nd.

BC hosts Dartmouth on Saturday in a non-conference game, then it's the annual home-and-home against BU on the 30th and December 1st. Jerry York can tie and break the all-time record for college hockey coaching wins in those rivalry games, which would be quite fitting.

Maryland and Rutgers to Big Ten

When the SEC went to 14 teams, the other BCS conferences watched to see if it would work. It did work, and now the Big Ten is expanding. They're reportedly going to add Maryland, as well as Rutgers, taking them from the ACC and Big East, respectively.

Both teams would add an East Coast presence for the Midwestern conference. And Rutgers would help the Big Ten infiltrate the New York media market. The Big Ten already has a juicy TV contract with ESPN, as well as their own network, so adding teams in general only increases the content they can provide.

I'm getting a little tired of this musical chairs in college sports. I want it over with.

In 10 years or so, it will all be sorted out. There will be three major conferences, with 16 or 18 teams each: The Big Ten, the Pac-16, and the SEC. The ACC and Big East will combine as a 12 team league just below the Big Three.

And in Webster's Dictionary, the Big Ten will pay for the meaning of the word "ten" to be changed to "any number between nine and twenty." "Ten" will become an approximating word like "several."

BCS Mess

Both Kansas State and Oregon lost, catapulting Notre Dame to #1, and bringing Alabama back to the BCS title game as #2 after only a 1 week absence.

However, there's no way that Notre Dame is the best team in the country. If they do play Alabama, who would you bet on? If they played Oregon, who would you bet on? And how razor thin was their margin of victory over Stanford? They are just waiting to lose.

When Notre Dame lose to USC, which they will, there will be a BCS mess for the #2 team in the country. Alabama will rightfully assume the #1 spot, then there will be Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Notre Dame, Kansas State, Florida State, Clemson, et cetera.

In other words, it's good that we'll have a playoff next year. But are 4 teams enough? I think 6 or 8 would be best. But progress is progress.

Patriots Tame Colts

I like Andrew Luck. I liked him at Stanford. And as much as I also liked RG3, I felt like Luck was a better NFL QB because he was a better decision maker. And maybe someday that decision making ability will come to fruition. But not yesterday. Yesterday, Mr. Luck was a walking turnover.

The much-maligned Patriots defense turned this game around in the 2nd quarter. They forced a 3 and out which led to Julian Edelman's punt return TD. Then Vince Wilfork's pressure influenced Andrew Luck to thrown an INT, which Aqib Talib returned for another TD.

In the 3rd quarter, the Patriots offense stepped up. Right after half-time they flawlessly drove downfield and scored. Then after Rob Ninkovich forced an Andrew Luck fumble, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. And the game was essentially over.

Alfonzo Dennard's pick 6 was icing on the cake, and the Patriots won the 4th quarter 21-7. He and Talib are actually legit CBs, and that's nice to have once again.

But already I can hear the armchair coaches out there. "Why was Gronk still in there?" "Why were we still scoring?" "Why do we have star players on PAT?"

Folks, it's a 60 minute game. And injuries are always a risk. You play 60 minutes, even with a big lead, so when you need to play 60 tough minutes you're accustomed to it. Please leave your amateur coaching strategies where they belong, inside your brain, along with your theories about traffic on 128 and how you can do a better job than your boss.

Some people are already complaining about this 5 score victory. This Yahoo recap moaned about the Patriots defense being "suspect" and allowing 448 yards. Um, the defense also scored twice, forced 4 turnovers, that's a good day for a defense. Regardless of how many yards they allowed.

Let us be cheerful. The Pats have a 3 game lead over every AFC East team. They're playing the Jets on Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity to all but eliminate the NYJ from the divisional race.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Patriots-Colts Drinking Game

So Colts/Patriots is once again relevant as a rivalry. But now it's Brady/Luck not Brady/Manning. Here's a drinking game to play during today's game.

Anytime a commentator says...
"No-huddle" or "high-octane" = 1 drink from a beer
A pun or play on words with "Luck" = drink beer for 7 seconds
A "Luck" pun involving horseshoes = drink for 11 seconds
"Guru" = 1 drink
"Peyton Manning" = drink for 18 seconds
"Turkey" = 1 drink
"Thanksgiving" = 1 drink
"Gobble gobble" = 1 shot of Wild Turkey
"Stanford" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on the screen...
Adam Vinatieri's game tying 45 yard FG against the Raiders in the snow = drink beer for 45 seconds
Vinatieri's game winning 23 yarder against the Raiders = drink for 23 seconds
Vinatieri's game winning 48 yarder against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI = drink for 48 seconds
Vinatieri's game winning 41 yarder against the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII = drink beer for 41 seconds
A graphic with Vinatieri plus: Richard Seymour, Ty Law, Asante Samuel, or any other big name Patriot castaways = shot of cheap liquor, Mr. Boston vodka would be best
Fall foliage = 1 drink from a beer
Fall foliage from Vermont = 1 drink from a beer plus a shot of maple syrup
Cranberries = 1 drink
Cranberry bog = 1 Cape Codder (vodka and cranberry juice)
A turkey (animated, live, or cooked) = 1 drink
Pilgrims = 1 drink
Plymouth Rock = drink as much as you can in 16 minutes and 20 seconds (16:20)
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink as long as he's talking
Bill Belichick pulling something from his sock = 1 drink

Anytime this happens...
Tom Brady yells "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink
Patriots get a first down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Colts go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Patriots allow a 15+ yard pass play = 1 drink
Devin McCourty gets beat on a pass (even if incomplete) = 1 drink
McCourty forces a turnover = 1 shot of liquor
Vince Wilfork tipped pass = 1 drink
Wilfork recovers turnover = 1 shot
Wilfork returns turnover for TD = 1 shot, 1 beer, 1 turkey leg or mutton joint
Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball = 1 drink
Gronk doesn't spike after TD = 1 whole beer
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink until the return is over

Please get lubed up responsibly.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Miguel Cabrera Wins MVP, Stats Geeks Can't Quantify their Rage

Had Mike Trout won the AL MVP, I wouldn't have agreed with it, but I would have understood. He had a great season. But Miguel Cabrera winning the MVP has incensed a sect of baseball nerds that worship numbers and believe that stats are the only thing in baseball that matters.

Here's why Miguel Cabrera won:

1. He won the Triple Crown, which is a statistical rarity in this sport. Hitting for power and hitting for average is a tough balance.

2. He performed well in the clutch. He had a 1.032 OPS in September when the Tigers needed to win to make the playoffs. Throughout the season he hit .356 with runners in scoring position, and .420 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs.

3. He was more valuable.

He was just better than Trout. Deal with it. All your WAR and UZR and your numerology mean nothing. At the very least, he and Trout are on equal footing. In which case, give deference to the player whose team made the playoffs. And give deference to the player who won the Triple Crown.

The arguments against Cabrera are shallow. The numerologists argue that a certain set of stats can accurately determine what a players value is? Really? Because the designation "Most Valuable Player" brings so much ambiguity with it. It requires subjectivity and human opinion in order to determine which player is the most valuable.

There is no objective, statistical measurement of value. There is no empirical way to determine which player is more valuable than another. So any argument based solely on stats is incomplete, and invalid.

Miguel Cabrera is the MVP, and the baseball stat gurus are crying their imaginary numbers (i's) out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Red Sox Shouldn't React to Blue Jays Trade

The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins agreed to a massive trade yesterday. Toronto received Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio. And while the deal certainly makes Toronto a better team, it should not affect what the Red Sox do in any way.

I'm worried that the Sox, in response to this move, might seek to make a splash of their own. This would be unwise. Let the fans whine and moan about the Sox being the 5th best team in the division (which they already were in 2012). The Red Sox should stick to their plan, worry about themselves, improve as much as they can this off-season without sacrificing their ability to continue to improve.

It's going to take more than one off-season, and more than one or two moves to improve the Sox. They're a 69 win team and finding 25+ additional wins will take some time. Likely more than one off-season.

So calm down, Red Sox Nation. It's your panic that can trigger Larry Lucchino to call Ben Cherington and say "we need to do something."

There really isn't much out there for the Sox to acquire. I'd like to see Zach Greinke here, but he might be too expensive. Mike Napoli doesn't impress me. I wouldn't mind Josh Hamilton, especially with Jacoby Ellsbury getting his luggage ready.

The Sox have money, but that's no excuse to spend carelessly. They need to be prudent. I'm reminded of The Simpsons episode with the monorail.

The Sox need to listen to Marge and fix Main Street's potholes before investing in a shiny mass transit system.

Although I wouldn't put it past Lucchino to build an elevated monorail line that encircled Fenway Park, with stops at the Monster, the bleachers, the Bud Deck, and Yawkey Way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boston Students Surprised With Scholarships at Celtics Game

Last Wednesday a pair of Boston high school students were surprised with $5,000 scholarships in a ceremony before the Celtics/Wizards game at the TD Garden. As part of the Sun Life Rising Star program, Celtics co-owner Steva Pagliuca and executives from Sun Life Financial awarded checks to Terel Andrews from the Jeremiah E. Burke School and Vicki Miranda from East Boston High School. A pair of $50,000 grants were also awarded to the nonprofit organizations City Year and Sociedad Latina, which Terel and Vicki have been involved with, respectively.

Terel is a football player at the Burke School and as part of his service with City Year traveled to Cape Verde where he volunteered as an English tutor. Among the colleges he is considering are Framingham State, Salem State, and Thomas College.

Vickie is a Youth Community Organizer at Sociedad Latina. She also sits on the Youth Advisory Board of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and has worked the past three summers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in the Center for Community Health. She is considering attending the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Northeastern, Simmons College, UMass-Amherst, and UMass-Lowell.

The guests of honor were treated to a pre-game court visit. They then enjoyed the game, which the Celtics won 100-94, from the luxurious Garden View Suite. After the game, they had a meet and greet with Celtics guard Avery Bradley.

They even got to try on Steve Pagliuca's NBA Championship ring.

In 2012 the Sun Life Rising Star program will award two scholarships and two grants in six cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. The program will also award four scholarships and four grants in South Florida. Since its inception, the program has awarded nearly $3 million to 54 students and 47 nonprofit organizations across the country.

Patriots Win, Fans Act Like They Lost

I think the 3 Super Bowls, the 21 game win streak in 2003-04, and the near perfect season of 2007 have spoiled us in New England. The Patriots are 6-3 and have a 2 game lead in their division. But if you didn't know they beat the Bills 37-31 Sunday, you'd think fans and media in this town were reacting to a loss.

I can't believe of all people, I am the one advocating for optimism here. The Pats have problems but so does every other NFL team. Is Matt Schaub an elite QB for Houston? The Giants lost to the Bengals. The Falcons lost to the Saints. The 49ers tied the lowly Rams. What NFL team is significantly or even marginally better than the Patriots?

What does irk me about this team is the lack of "door-closing" plays by the offense. The Pats have the highest scoring offense in football. My problem with them isn't what they do or don't do, it's when they do or don't do it.

A perfect example was in the 4th quarter yesterday when Devin McCourty forced Fred Jackson to fumble. The Patriots offense then went 3 and out, including a Wes Welker drop, and punted. They took 19 seconds off the clock.

It was only their 8th 3 and out of the season, and their only 3 and out of the game. But it came at a time when they had an opportunity to at least run out the clock a bit, move the ball close to midfield, and force Buffalo to drive more than the 45 yards they had to on their next possession.

Another missed opportunity to seal victory came when the Patriots drove into the Red Zone and settled for a field goal. Stevan Ridley's false start was the keynote of that drive's end.

The Patriots defense isn't good. The pass rush is inconsistent, some of the most talented players are also young and inexperienced, and the secondary is Swiss cheese. As bad as they are though, Devin McCourty made more big plays in the 4th quarter than Wes Welker did.

The offense has the talent, they have the capability of ending games. They don't need to score 40 or 50 points to cover for an atrocious offense. They do need to take advantage of opportunities to clinch victory.

And maybe we all need to take a step back and adjust our perspective on this team. Let's enjoy their successes instead of criticizing every imperfection in those successes. Let's hope for perfection, but accept imperfect success.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Red Sox Pursuing Mike Napoli... But Should They Be?

Both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees seem to be interested in the services of Mike Napoli. I'm not entirely sold on Napoli. It all depends on the price.

At his best, he's an excellent player. He's capable of an OBP above .400 and SLG above .600 and surpassing 30 homeruns. However, he's only been at his best for selected parts of his career.

He's only managed to play 120+ games once in his career. He's only hit above .300 once, only reached a .400 OBP once, only reached .500 SLG twice. His career numbers good but not great.

He was paid $9.4 million last year after arbitration. Napoli filed for $11.5 million in that process. Considering he's only had one 140 game season, and one All-Star caliber season, I don't think he's worth much more than that. And certainly not worth a long-term deal at significant money.

The Red Sox do have money to spend, but that's not sufficient reason to spend it. Think about it. If you find a $20 bill on the street do you instantly spend it, just because you have it?

If they can get Napoli at a decent price, then he'd improve the team. The price and length of the deal is everything. I don't want to see this team repeat its mistakes by committing money to unpredictable players just because it can.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Oh Yeah, the World Baseball Classic Is Next Year

Remember the World Baseball Classic? Yeah, that meaningless tournament that Daisuke Matsuzaka prioritized ahead of being a member of the Red Sox. Well it's back.

The WBC will be held in 2013, but the Qualifying rounds have already started. Spain won a round-robin tournament to advance, and so did Canada. Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua, and Columbia will vie for another spot. And Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Chinese Taipei will compete for another.

Johnny Damon will compete on the Thai team. Apparently his mother is Thai.

The automatically qualified teams are:
Japan, China, Cuba (to play first round games in Japan)
South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia (to play in Taiwan)
Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic (to play in Puerto Rico)
USA, Mexico, Italy (to play in Arizona)

It'd be a nice tournament if the games weren't played during Spring Training. Major League players are at their worst shape of the year and their training routines are strictly monitored by their MLB clubs. Except Daisuke's. The Red Sox just let him do what he wanted.

So on paper it's an interesting event. In actuality, expect Cuba to win because their players are terrified of their government, and this competitions is the biggest event of the year for them.

Roberto Luongo Can't Help But Be a Douchebag

So as we all know, Barack Obama won the Presidential election two days ago. All well and good, until some French-Canadian douchebag decided to chime in and attempt to goad an adversary from spring 2011.

For full disclosure, nobody is 100% certain who runs the Twitter account @stromebone1. It is widely believed to be Roberto Luongo, but it's not verified.

In any case, Tim Thomas was a good goalie, Roberto Luongo is an overrated, washed up, choker. Tim Thomas did his best when it mattered most. For Luongo, the more the game mattered, the worse he played.

Even if @strombone1 is just a Luongo fan, he's seriously misguided.

Thomas has a few things in his impenetrable subterranean bunker that Luongo doesn't have. A Conn Smythe, for instance. As well as a Stanley Cup ring. Although Timmy has probably melted his ring in order to make bullets.

Ignorant College Football Picks*

This post includes pictures of scantily clad females showing school pride and lots of skin. My picks were 12-7 last week, bringing my total record to 58-55-1. After 114 picks I'm 3 games over .500... ship it... here are my picks:

UConn +3 vs. Pitt
Always like UConn.

Louisville -1.5 @ Syracuse
Crazy to take a 9-0 team over a 4-5 team.

Iowa -5 vs. Purdue
In Iowa, give the edge to the Hawkeyes.

Iowa State +10.5 @ Texas
Don't think UT will cover.

Texas Tech -25.5 vs. Kansas
KU sucks.

North Carolina -8 vs. Georgia Tech
UNC is pretty good this year.

Akron -16.5 vs. UMass
UMass has struggled to adjust to FBS.

Stanford -4 vs. Oregon State
I like the Cardinal.

Oklahoma -21.5 vs. Baylor
Sooners should roll.

West Virginia +9.5 @ Oklahoma State
Should at least be close.

Minnesota -3 @ Illinois
The Gophers are better.

Texas A&M +13.5 @ Alabama
Big spread, Bama could be hungover.

Georgia -14.5 @ Auburn
The Tigers are struggling.

Ole Miss -3.5 vs. Vanderbilt
Why not?

TCU +7.5 vs. Kansas State
Just a feeling.

Notre Dame -18.5 vs. Boston College

Oregon -28 @ Cal
Not a spread big enough for the Ducks.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Celtics Still Don't Look Sharp

The Celtics beat the Washington Wizards 100-94 in overtime last night. And while a win is a win, it wasn't impressive. At least not for most of the game.

During the 3rd quarter the Celtics turned it on and looked like the team we've been expecting to see. Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry hit a pair of big three pointers, and the Celtics entered the 4th quarter with an 8 point lead.

Which they blew. They lost the 4th quarter and were barely able to force overtime. They had their opponent unsteady on their feet but instead of landing a knockout punch they tried to run out the clock. And yes, I just mixed metaphors from two different sports to describe a basketball game.

The Celtics' final play in regulation baffled me. 9.4 seconds seems like the perfect amount of time to run a play and develop multiple options for a secure shot. A 25 foot shot from Rondo was the best the Celtics could do in that situation? Really?

Thankfully Brandon Bass scored 5 in OT and helped propel the Celtics to their second win of the season.

The Celtics host the 76ers Friday night.

And does anyone else think Washington's logo looks a bit phallic?

Looks like balls and a cock to me. Maybe Bill Clinton designed it.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, November 05, 2012

BC Hockey Slips Past UMass 3-2

UMass always gives BC trouble. Even though the Eagles are the #1 team in the country, the defending NCAA Champs, and have won 25 of their last 26 games. But UMass can skate. And that negates BC's most crucial advantage: their speed.

Last night BC needed a pair of 3rd period goals for a 3-2 comeback win. On October 19th they fell behind 3-0 to UMass, then scored 4 times in the 3rd, eventually winning 5-4 in OT. BC have won 4 straight against UMass, all by 1 goal margins. Before that, they lost 2 in a row to the Minutemen.

The Minutemen are just a few pieces short of solving the BC puzzle. They don't finish scoring chances as well as BC. And BC's goaltending stymies most of UMass's best scoring chances. Last night BC goalie Parker Milner stopped 29 of 31 UMass shots. UMass went ahead early in the 3rd period, but BC goals from Michael Matheson and Patrick Brown tied, then won the game for the Eagles.

Boston College are champions because they win tough, close games like this one. They get good goaltending and clutch offense when it's needed most.

Johnny Gaudreau had an assist on the Matheson goal, his 9th point of the season in 7 games. The sophomore, whose NHL rights belong to Calgary, has lit up Hockey East this fall.

Bill Arnold scored BC's first goal of the game, his third of the season, and his fifth Power Play point.

The #1 Eagles host the #8 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame on Friday night, then play at #12 Boston University on Sunday.

Photo Credit:
Rich Gagnon

Rhode Island Suing Curt Schilling... HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Rhode Island's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is suing Curt Schilling. The accusation is that Curt Schilling, along with former head of the EDC Keith Stokes (yes, the agency is suing its former head), knowingly concealed the fact that Schilling's video game company (38 Studios) would run out of money in 2012.

This is simply delightful. Curt Schilling can't get away from his transgressions.

If the EDC can prove that Schilling knew the company was running out of money (Schilling's intense lobbying for new investors, and the fact that the company ran out of money seem to support such a theory), and hid that information from the state, then he could be in lots of trouble. And he'd be on the hook for lots of money.

Schilling claims the lawsuit is politically motivated. No shit, Schilling! That's what happens when businesses get money from the Government. You can't involve politicians without things getting political. And actual Conservatives know that. That's why we don't like Governments and Corporations getting into bed together. Taxpayer money is used to help someone make a profit, and the company can't do business without political restrictions and conditions. It's not an ideal situation.

Schilling isn't a true Conservative, though. He just liked spouting the rhetoric, and feeling morally superior to others. Well, his morals are dubious at best. I think he's greedy, selfish, ego-maniacal, and unwilling to take any moral responsibility for this company's failure. He forgot his alleged Conservative principles when it became convenient and potentially profitable for him. And now that the state that helped his stupid company is out $100 million, all he can do is play the role of a misunderstood victim. Rhode Island is the victim (perhaps of their own stupidity for investing in a video game company), not Mr. Schilling. But Curt won't take moral responsibility for this.

Maybe the courts can make him take financial responsibility.

I only wish he'd have to pay back the $100 million to each Rhode Islander personally. That's $95.15 owed to each citizen of the Ocean State, along with an apology.

Winter Classic Cancelled

The NHL continues to slowly kill itself. They've cancelled the biggest single TV event on the NHL calendar. The Winter Classic was one of the things that helped the NHL rebound from the previous Lockout, and now it's been cancelled by a League determined to destroy itself and the game.

Over 100,000 were going to attend the 2013 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, filling Michigan's Big House with rabid hockey fans supporting the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Two Original 6 teams, two of the most storied franchises in the sport. The game was to be in a state and nearby city that have remained loyal to the game for decades.

And now they've been screwed because the NHL wants to keep teams in Florida and Arizona. And because owners of teams like the Maple Leafs don't want to share revenue with those teams.

The 2013 Winter Classic would have been part of a larger revitalization of Detroit sports that's been happening for several years now. The Detroit Tigers are very good, the Lions are no longer the joke they once were. The NHL could have been a part of that. Opportunity lost.

Furthermore, Michigan is a hockey hotbed. And not just the Red Wings. There's an AHL team in Michigan, an ECHL team, 7 Division-I college teams (that's about 1/8 of the country's total), even a pair of junior teams in the Ontario Hockey League. It's a state that loves hockey, and hockey has screwed them. Some of those teams would have played at Comerica Park in Detroit. This Winter Classic would have involved two venues, two outdoor rinks, a bevy of games, a multitude of events, and an entire state's attention. Opportunity lost.

It's just sad. This lockout is killing the game, not just the League. People and places once interested in the game are finding other things to do and to watch.

Michigan will likely "be awarded" the 2014 Winter Classic, but do you think they'll be as excited, as enthused about it? Why would they be? Why should they be?

Imagine if this had happened to Boston, and how we'd treat the next year's Classic.

And what if you're a city and considering hosting a Winter Classic the year an NHL CBA expires. What city would want to sign that deal? Winter Classic 2014: Grand Forks, North Dakota.

I'm tired of the NHL, and I hope this Lockout either destroys the League or brings about dramatic, sweeping changes. Jeremy Jacobs needs to be visited by three ghosts Ebeneezer Scrooge style, Gary Bettman needs a lobotomy, and hockey needs to be banned in Florida and Arizona, thus forcing the collapse of failing NHL franchises.

Red Sox Pay Big Bucks to Keep Big Papi

The Red Sox and David Ortiz agreed to a 2 year deal worth $26 million. With incentives, it could be worth $30 million.

Did the Red Sox have to pay so much? What is David Ortiz's actual value? He turns 37 in a few weeks, he missed over 70 games last year, he can't play the field, can't be signed by an NL team. Was he going to get that much on the open market?

There were rumors that the Texas Rangers had interest, and that would make sense. I just don't like assigning $26 million to a player who could very likely only play 200 games these next 2 seasons. Perhaps even fewer than that.

It's not a gross overpayment. However, I am extremely paranoid about the Red Sox possibly signing someone for PR reasons more than on-field reasons.

Think about it. "Sources" leaked to the media that the team and Ortiz were close to a deal. The fans then voiced their opinions and the general attitude was that they wanted Ortiz back. Hours later, the Sox sign Ortiz. Leak, then fan reaction, then personnel decision.

These events might not have caused each other. But this is the Red Sox, and they have cash to spend. Theo Epstein's "Monster" did the same thing a few years ago: spend because they could, not because they should.

People seem happy, though. Red Sox mouthpiece Peter Abraham was especially optimistic. My favorite argument in support of Ortiz is this:

"Ortiz also adds an intangible element that the Red Sox valued. He is a clubhouse leader, active in the community, and brings consistency to what has been a team in chaos for a year."

Do you really want to be called a leader of one of the most dysfunctional and despicable clubhouses in modern sports history? Isn't that like being CEO of Enron or Captain of the Titanic? Is that something to be praised?

Jen Slothawer from wrote an even more absurd piece praising Ortiz:

"On Friday, the Red Sox weren't re-signing a designated hitter, a 36-year-old slugger or a cleanup man. They were taking care of the heart of their franchise -- the one player who links past success to future hope, who carried the team through its worst season in recent memory, and whose leadership and spirit are far beyond anything this team could hope to buy with its millions in new spending money."

Ortiz is not a leader. We learned that fact in 2011 as he kept his distance from the turmoil and worried about his hits being scored as errors. I really don't know what to say about Ortiz's "spirit" and "consistency" but those things didn't seem to affect the Sox in September of 2011 or all of 2012. These are not assets worth millions of dollars. They're childish concepts bandied about by sportswriters who can't use logic to justify their support of a personnel decision, and therefore resort to sentimentalism.

Both Abraham and Slowather point out that the Sox have money to spend. But as Ian Malcolm argues in Jurassic Park, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

In plain, factual, adult terms: the Sox spent $26 million on a 37 year old DH who can't play defense and missed almost half the 2011 season with an injury that took forever to heal. If this wasn't someone Red Sox fans knew and already loved, they'd be pissed and perplexed. But it's Big Papi, so smiles all around.

And Ortiz is smiling too. He finally got that respect he's so vocally yearned for. Unfortunately, he plays his best when he feels disrespected.