Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kevin Garnett Calls Philly Fans "Fair-Weathered"

I love how much the media giggles at KG's jokes. Such jock sniffers.

Anyway, I know this was a passing remark. But of all the cities to accuse of having "fair-weathered" fans, Philadelphia would be at the bottom of my list.

Just as a warning to any Philadelphia fans reading this, prepare for some backhanded compliments as I compliment your loyalty while simultaneously insulting your teams.

Before 1980, Philadelphia fans were enduring a World Series drought that was longer than the Cubs'. They hadn't won a World Series in their existence (established in 1883) until 1980. 97 years of futility. Even now, the Phillies have the same number of rings as the Cubs. The Phillies were the first team to rack up 10,000 losses. And even though they've had success recently, they're still 1,056 games under .500 as a franchise.

Yet Philly fans were still there, still hurling AAs at JD Drew when he was a Cardinal. If the movie Rookie of the Year had been set in Philly, the kid would have been discovered at the Vet because he could throw a battery from the outfield to home plate without it bouncing.

Then we have the Eagles. The little brother of the NFC East. Dallas has 5 Super Bowls, The Giants have 4 (plus 4 pre-SB titles), the Redskins have 3 (5 total titles), and the Eagles have 0. They do have 3 pre-Super Bowl titles, but who cares? Their last championship was won in 1960.

The Eagles have had their share of good teams. They've been consistent contenders. But have also been consistent chokers. They're run of three straight NFC Championship losses is legendary. Then they actually make the Super Bowl and Donovan McNabb gets indigestion.

Yet Eagle fans are among the most loyal (and they won't hesitate to remind you of that) fanbases in the NFL. Just look at the wide variety of jerseys worn at an Eagles game. The throwbacks seen aren't new editions of old jerseys. The jerseys are vintage. These fans have been obsessing over their pathetic team for years.

Then there's the Flyers, who haven't won the Cup since 1975. The 76ers have won 2 titles in Philly, the most recent in 1983.

Philadelphia has seen 14 major championships. 5 of those were won by the Philadelphia Athletics, so I'm not sure those count. The 9 titles won by Philly's current teams took 300 total seasons to accomplish. And Philly teams have only 1 title since 1983 (1 title in over 110 seasons).

Yet Philly fans adamantly support their teams. I think it's really unfair of Kevin Garnett to call Philly's fans "fair-weathered." They've endured some shitty weather in Philly and stayed in their seats to cheer/boo their teams.

And it's not like we don't have fair-weather fans up here in Boston. Garnett doesn't know that, of course, because the weather's been great in Boston since his arrival in 2007.

Liverpool FC Fires Manager, Hires Bobby Valentine

Only one part of that post title is accurate. Although maybe Bobby V will manage Liverpool when they come to Fenway. After all, Bobby V invented bangers and mash.

Liverpool fired manager Kenny Dalglish after finishing 8th (out of 20 teams) in England's Premier League. We're still waiting to see if there have been reports of drug abuse leaked to British newspapers.

Liverpool are struggling. On the field and off it. Liverpool lost about $80 million in 2011. That's net. Most of that was due to costs associated with an abandoned plan to build a new stadium. Not to mention the severance package given to former manager Roy Hodgson, who was hired then fired after 6 months.

When Fenway Sports Group bought the Red Sox in 2002, they only had one New York Yankees to compete with. Liverpool has to compete against several giants in their league. There's Manchester United, the most valuable sports franchise in the world. There's also a team owned by a Russian oil baron (Chelsea FC), the current champions are owned by an Arab sheikh (Manchester City). The spending of these eccentric billionaires make George Steinbrenner look like Jeremy Jacobs. Imagine Mark Cuban with a royal title and billions in oil money.

And there's also Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham, and Newcastle United to compete with. Teams with more "traditional" owners, but are also well funded, well run, and well managed.

To compete with these teams, Liverpool will need to spend money. They need cash to buy better talent (in soccer, players' contracts are bought and sold, they call it transferring. It can be expensive). In Europe, even developing and acquiring young players requires hefty contracts and transfer fees. It's a completely different animal over there and I don't think John Henry or the Fenway Sports Group knew what they were getting into.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, winning is how teams make money. For instance, the top 4 teams in England are invited to play in the Champions League, a tournament among the top teams from across Europe. Participants receive a share of the huge TV revenues, and also receive cash rewards for winning and advancing through the competition.

Liverpool will have to make due with just their basic revenues. Furthermore, the top players in Europe want to compete in the Champions League. Liverpool can't offer them that.

And with the recent success of Manchester City, there's less domestic money and attention for Liverpool to capitalize on. And across the world, sales of Manchester City merchandise is skyrocketing. Finishing 8th place and being an historically powerful team doesn't do much to help your revenue stream abroad.

So far, John Henry's investment in Liverpool hasn't worked out. The team hasn't improved. The balance sheet is still as red as Liverpool's jerseys. Firing the manager is a step, but Daglish wasn't the problem. Liverpool simply didn't have the talent to compete with the stars on Manchester City or Manchester United. Nor were they solid or deep enough to compete with the well-rounded Arsenal or Tottenham.

Liverpool must spend or die.

The Fenway Sports Group would never directly take profits from the Red Sox and use the money to improve Liverpool. Conglomerates don't do that.

However, Liverpool will receive direct investment from Fenway Sports Group. The Sox won't. The Sox will have to make do with what they can make on their own, minus what John Henry withdraws and places in his crocodile skin wallet. Fenway Sports Group doesn't care about improving the Sox anymore. They're all set with the Sox. They want to improve Liverpool. They want to play Barcelona in the Champions League Final one day.

Fine. Whatever.

Maybe the Sox needed to go on a leaner spending diet. Look what Felix Doubront is doing compared to John Lackey. Or Cody Ross compared to Carl Crawford.

It's not the overall money spent that irritates me, it's what the lack of spending signifies. It demonstrates a lack of interest in winning. The Sox didn't even try to keep Papelbon. They didn't go after a frontline starting pitcher. This was a 3rd place team for back-to-back seasons that hasn't won a playoff game since George W. Bush was President. But the Sox did next to nothing to improve themselves. They fired their manager, lost a closer, put John Lackey under the knife, and had a 100th anniversary celebration.

And despite whatever fake sellout streak the Sox try to convince us they have going, there are less people at the ballpark, and there's less money being spent by fans on this team. As a business, the Sox are currently in great shape. Today. But the future is uncertain. If they finish 3rd this year, what happens to the Sox' valuation? What happens if it stops becoming trendy to go to Fenway?

That's the thing about building the coolest bar in town. If people go there because it's cool, it has to remain cool.

If Liverpool continues to struggle, I'll hate the Sox owners for investing in failure. If Liverpool does well, I'll hate the Sox owners for siphoning success from Boston to Liverpool.

But if the Sox do well, I can't hate the owners for anything, regardless of what Liverpool does. And by "do well" I mean compete for divisional titles, make the playoffs, make the LCS. That's doing well.

The Red Sox Are .500!!!

Joy to the world, the Sox are .500. It was thanks to a struggling Tommy Hunter, a red hot Mike Aviles, and some contributions from Pedroia, Ortiz, and Middlebrooks.

Clay Buchholz sucks. He has no confidence out there. Once one or two things go wrong, and he disintegrates. He falls into quicksand and can't free himself. If not for a double-play ball in the 3rd, he might have been tagged for 6 or 7 runs. Nevertheless, he still allowed 5 in 5.1 innings. Far from impressive.

Ideally, I'd put Bard in the bullpen and Buchholz in Pawtucket until he sorted himself out. Unfortunately, the Sox don't have replacements for these struggling SPs. We'll just have to endure both of them until Daisuke returns. Then decide which one to exile.

I don't see much progress with Buchholz. He's still laboring through innings. He got some fortunate bounces last night, and that helped. But without those bounces, he gives up 7 and doesn't go 5 innings.

But this was a good win, nonetheless. Hunter seemed like a guy the Sox should hit. And they did that. And not only are the Sox .500, they are tied with the Yankees for 4th place. Cue the duckboats.

Doubront faces Brian Matusz tonight. Matusz has had mostly bad starts with a few good starts mixed in. He's a lefty, so he has a shot against the Sox. But they should get a few across the plate against him.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Celtics Pull Away, Take Series Lead

The Celtics gradually pulled away in the second half to win this game. After halftime, they seemed more committed to playing defense, more committed to denying Philadelphia the chance to stay close. The Celtics didn't try to engage in a scoring contest. They focused on defense, the offense followed, and the 76ers were shut down.

The C's scored 54 points in the second half. Which is very good. Even better, though, is that they allowed 35. Just 35 points in a half of basketball.

The Celtics can play an offensive-focused game against the 76ers, and they might win some times, lose other times. But if they focus on defense and execute properly, they'll always win. At least they should.

Garnett had a good game. KG has done well in all 3 of the Celtics' wins in this series. He's done poorly in both losses. As KG goes, so go the Celtics. He had some senior-moments in the first half. But he stopped making defensive mistakes in the 2nd quarter, started scoring some points, and getting to the line.

Brandon Bass had a big night, which was needed with Avery Bradley sidelined. 27 points, 6 rebounds. He really stepped up when the Celtics needed someone to step up.

Rondo and Pierce each had good games. Nothing amazing, nothing disappointing.

Ray Allen played some good defense in the 4th. And hit one big shot.

The Celtics went back to basics with this one. It was about team-defense, about applying pressure to Philly, and about working to get the open shot. Ray Allen only had 7 field goal attempts, and I like that. He shouldn't be shooting unless the look is good. KG showed up offensively in the 2nd quarter, then defensively in the second half. Brandon Bass stepped up big time.

Celtics can close the series out Wednesday night in Philly.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo