Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cleveland Golf

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Hunter S. Thompson Would Have Enjoyed the 2012 NFL Season

I miss Hunter S. Thompson. I miss his writing. He decided to shoot himself in 2005, at the age of 67, in his fortified compound in Colorado. And I respect that decision. But I think he missed one of the more engaging, ugly, and intriguing NFL seasons in recent memory.

What would Hunter have to say about replacement officials? A devoted gambler, the tremendous influence that these amateur flag-throwers had on games might have driven him insane. Or thrilled him, adding even more randomness and chaos to an already difficult to predict maelstrom of variables.

Thompson lived in San Francisco for a period, and was once addicted to betting on the 49ers. He probably would have enjoyed the rise of Colin Kaepernick to prominence. An exciting, playmaking, tattooed star taking over as frontman of an already successful band that hadn't quite broken through to super-stardom. Kaepernick took over from a competent, but predictable lead singer. Alex Smith was the guy that sounds okay in a small club. Kaepernick is a rock star that can command an entire stadium.

The rampant PED usage by NFL players probably wouldn't have bothered Hunter. He used plenty of substances himself. One of his more famous quotes is: "I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me." If LSD and ether helped Hunter write (or at least influenced the experiences he had that he would eventually write about), I don't think he would mind players who use adderall or deer antler to play football. Football is already an unnatural act, and football players are already freaks of nature. Why not use chemicals to augment that freakishness?

He might mind the concussions. Back in the early 2000s he bemoaned the number of QB injuries there were in the NFL. It was an epidemic. And now QB injuries are fewer, but repeated skull bashing has created a generation of NFL players whose brain tissues have been reduced to ground hamburger. I think he'd have a problem with that. From his writings, such as a piece he wrote after Dale Earnhardt died, he seemed to have an ethical line that sports should not cross. Violence was fine, so long as there was no blood, no permanent injury. And once that line was crossed, sport became disgusting. Stadiums became Roman Colosseums, fans became voyeuristic sadists, and games became crimes.

Then there's the New York Jets: an endless source of writing material. They'd be pitiable if they didn't try so hard to be unlikable. I think Thompson would thoroughly enjoy the dysfunction of the Jets. Everything from butt fumbles to Tim Tebow to Rex Ryan's tattoos to snacks. The Jets are almost too cartoonish to write about, actually. It's like doing a thesis paper on the shortcomings of Wile E. Coyote's bird-catching tactics, it's too easy to point out the mistakes.

And finally there's the rise of the rookie QB. I think Thompson would have welcomed this fresh blood infused into the League. A League which has become somewhat repetitive  On Sunday the Super Bowl will have no Tom Brady, no Peyton Manning, and no Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2002. Think about that. A decade of football with 1 of 3 QBs always making an appearance in the Big Game. That's tedious. New faces are needed on the game's biggest stage.

RG3 might be Thompson's favorite. He would have reveled in the absurdity of the accusations that Griffin isn't Black enough. He would have loved to see football thrive in the Capital. He would have loved to see Daniel Snyder finally learn that you can't buy success, you have to cultivate, and harvest it from the Draft.

The 2012 NFL season would have offered Hunter S. Thompson a feast of intrigue and barbarity. The greed, the stupidity, the rises, the falls, the inspirational, and the abhorrent.

I'm not sure if there's a Heaven. But if there is, I think Hunter S. Thompson will be up there on Sunday, watching the game, making prop bets with Louis Pasteur, mocking the halftime show with Leo Tolstoy, and going shot for shot with Teddy Roosevelt.

Mahalo, Hunter. You're immortal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bruins Claw Their Way Out of Carolina

Special teams made the difference in this game. The Bruins killed all 6 of Carolina's power plays, and scored a shorthanded goal. The B's also scored 2 on their own power play (although 1 was an empty-netter). Zdeno Chara's power play goal wasn't scored by a scheme, it was scored by a talented player who did something creative

Was it me or did the puck seem extra bouncy? Both teams struggled to settle it. And almost every pass was just a bit off target. Puck possession was difficult for both teams to maintain. So I'm just going to forgive and forget all the times the Bruins turned the puck over.

Nathan Horton's goal was a beautiful thing to behold. He's going to become the keystone player on this team in the playoffs. Without the unique combination of scoring and physicality that he brings, that Krejci line will be ineffective. And we saw what can happen when that line is effective.

We've been spoiled by goalies in Boston. Rask and Thomas have alternated between back-up and starter, and both have been good enough to start. Now we have Anton Khudobin. He's talented, but inexperienced. He doesn't read the play very well. So his role on the team should be much more limited than we're accustomed to.

The B's host the Devils tonight.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Monday, January 28, 2013

Peyton Manning's Diary: Pro Bowl Time!

Aloha, diary!

I love Hawaii. And I love the Pro Bowl. Hawaii is such a fun place, even though it's hard to spell. When me and all the other players got off the plane in Honolulu (what a fun word to say!), the guys started joking around with me. One of the pretty hula girls put those flower necklaces around my neck. J.J. Watt made everyone laugh when he said "Hey, Peyton finally got laid." I didn't get it, but I smiled. I like when people laugh with me. It makes me happy.

People like me. And that's fun.

The game was fun, too. Coach Fox came along. I like Coach Fox for two reasons:

#1: His name reminds me of Coach Hayden Fox from Coach. I loved that show. Especially Dauber. He was silly. I wanted to play football at Minnesota State, but Pa made me go to Tennessee.

#2: His name also reminds me of one of my favorite movies when I was a teenager: The Fox and the Hound.

Every day at practice, I sniff my way up to Coach Fox, then howl. I want him to say "I'm a fox!" He just shakes his head, though. Oh well!

I still like him. He's not as nice as Coach Tony, but he's still nice.

Some of my old friends were at the Pro Bowl. Reggie was there. And so was Jeff! And my little "bro" Eli!!!

They let Jeff snap the ball to me one last time. It was nice. It's nice when TV and the League do nice things for me. They like me.

I told my old joke to Jeff that I used to tell him when we played together, that since he plays football he should change his name to Sunday! We chuckled. Jeff used to carry me through airport terminals if the walk from the plane to the bus was too long.

We lost the game, but I'm used to losing the last game of the year. People still gave me all sorts of compliments. Like they usually do.

Jeff and I went out for pizza. We invited Reggie, but all he did was send us a text saying "I'm too old for Chuckie Cheese."

We had a Hawaiian pizza, but it was yucky. So we sent it back and got pepperoni! And Jeff let me have the last slice.

I miss Hawaii already.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pro Bowl Drinking Game

It's Pro Bowl Sunday. The Pro Bowl is probably the least interesting of the major sports' all-star games. Which is saying something because they're all kind of lame. Here's a drinking game to play while you subject yourself to the least interesting game of football of the year.

Anytime a commentator says...
"Aloha" = take 1 drink from your beer
Anything Hawaiian = 1 drink
"Harbaugh" = 1 drink
"Harbowl" = vomit, then 1 drink
"first-time" = 1 drink
"ballot" = 1 drink
"vote-getter" = 1 drink
"replace"/"replaced"/"replacing" = 1 drink
"Ed Hochuli" = 1 drink
"fullback" = 1 drink
"Patriots" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on screen...
Someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt = 1 drink for each shirt on screen
Someone wearing a lei around their neck = 1 drink for each lei on screen
Someone wearing a hula skirt = 1 drink for each skirt
Someone wearing a coconut as clothing = 1 drink for each half coconut
Someone doing the hula = 1 drink
Someone doing something Hawaiian = 1 drink
Palm trees = 1 drink per tree
Any graphic, image, or clip with Hawaiian music being played = drink until the music stops
A beach = 1 drink
A surfer = 1 drink per surfer
A pig with an apple in its mouth = 1 whole beer per pig
Manti Te'o = drink an entire invisible beer

Anytime this happens...
Ed Hochuli explains something = drink during the entire explanation
A defensive player blitzes = drink 30 cans of beer
Something interesting happens = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
You rewind your DVR to re-watch a play = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
You rewind your DVR to watch a hot girl in a bikini = 1 drink
You change the channel = 1 shot
You look to see what else is on TV = 1 drink
You wish it were Puppy Bowl Sunday = 1 drink
You question your life because you're watching the Pro Bowl = 1 drink

Friday, January 25, 2013


Guest post written by my buddy Aldo Mays

I’m really big on eco-friendly design which is why that’s one of the main priorities when it comes to buying our next home. I like this place’s character because it’s old and has a lot of charm but there’s a lot to be desired when it comes to its energy efficiency. I loved the windows when we first moved in as the original wavy glass was so cute! But now that we’ve been through two winters here and see how the heat just leaks out right through them I would give anything for new, double paned windows. I’ve been looking online at to find out about some of the green energy providers in the area and I think we’ve got some options. The problem is that a lot of them won’t be able to do much with our house because the systems are so antiquated and we’d have to rip out all the wiring, basically, to bring it up to date. I hate that we’re using so much energy and making such a huge carbon footprint and I’ve tried to do what I can to offset it by planting a garden and composting and taking the shortest showers known to man. But at the end of the day I hate that we get our electricity bill and gasp each month and knowing I’m doing little to help the country’s energy crisis. My husband says I’m a bleeding heart but I really think we all have to wake up and be responsible for what we’re doing to the planet! Our kids are going to have to live here one day and we’ve got to do what we can now to make this planet a better place to be. Knowing we’re causing more harm than we need to and continuing to do it is just a crime if you ask me, and there’s no excuse for that kind of behavior from civilized adults, you know? That’s where we come in.

Pedro Martinez Is Coming Back, and I'm Not Happy About It

I love Pedro. He's my favorite athlete of all-time. I even have a Mets t-shirt because it says "Martinez" on the back. So you'd think the news that he's been appointed by the Red Sox as Special Assistant to the GM would thrill me. But it doesn't.

It reeks of a PR decision, a move to make fans happy. Give a popular former player from happier times a vague job, make all the fans smile, even have the news trend on Twitter.

Call me cynical, call me paranoid. But look at the timing. It's perfect. The Patriots have been eliminated from the NFL playoffs and the aftermath of that has settled down. And wasn't there just a book released recently that kind of made the Red Sox ownership look bad? It's the perfect time to throw a bone to the fans, and give them something to be happy about.

Jason Varitek is already a "Special Assistant" to the GM. How many more Special Assistants from the 2004 Red Sox will be hired? Will Bill Mueller be named Head Groundskeeper? Will Trot Nixon become the team bus driver?

Perhaps they were always going to hire Pedro and they announced it at the best time to maximize good publicity. And that's fine.

However, this ownership has, over the last 5 years, earned nothing but mistrust and skepticism. They acquire players for PR reasons, spend money for the sake of spending it, trash departing players in the media, lie about sellouts, and prioritize appearance over all else. So can you blame me for being skeptical?

I'm glad Pedro is part of the organization. I just wish the organization didn't make me question every single move they make.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

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Bruins Grab a Point in MSG

Five points in three games, I'll take that. Especially considering two of those games were against the ridiculously stacked New York Rangers. In this very young season, the B's with their five points are on top of the Eastern Conference.

I am concerned, however. Maybe that's too strong of a word. I'm bothered. That's better. The Bruins made a lot of mistakes last night. They turned pucks over, which resulted in Marian Gaborik's game-winner. They made sloppy clears. You simply cannot do that, especially against a team as opportunistic and talented as the Rangers.

On the bright side, the Power Play finally contributed. It wasn't due to tactics, formations, or strategies. It was pure talent. Dougie Hamilton moved without the puck, made a lane for himself, got the puck, fired a shot toward the net and Brad Marchand tipped it in. Simple talent prevailed.

Also on the bright side, Tuukka Rask played well. I didn't like him in the 2009-2010 season because he wasn't aggressive enough. He retreated into the net and got smaller instead of bigger. But now, he's apparently learned a bit from Tim Thomas, and he's challenging the play.

This team can't make the mistakes it made with the puck last night and expect to beat good teams. It's as simple as that.

The Bruins host the Islanders on Friday.

Photo Credit:
Associated Press

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thankfully the Bruins Are Back

If the NHL were still locked out, then how miserable would this February be? I'm not a big fan of NBA basketball, and don't get into college basketball until March. Without hockey, the next few weeks would totally suck.

The Bruins have won both their games. And in this abbreviated season it's vital for teams to win and accumulate points early. There are only 46 games left. After one long weekend over 4% of the regular season is already over.

The B's look relatively sharp. That's partially because many players went to Europe. But I think it's mostly because this team is not very different from the team that played last year. Players don't need to get used to playing with new teammates. Most of this team has been playing together for a few years.

Tuukka Rask looks smooth. I've never been much of a Rask fan, but he's playing bigger, he's not retreating into the net, he's staying balanced, and moving from side to side with ease. Almost as good as Tim Thomas in his prime.

The Power Play still looks slow and predictable. The coaching staff can scheme up whatever they like, but the Bruins do not have the personnel to make for a truly effective Power Play. Although a healthy Nathan Horton can help change that.

The Bruins are in New York on Wednesday to play the Rangers.

Photo Credit:
Associated Press

Patriots Drop AFC Championship

Before I get into the game, let's watch this...

Okay, there's no way any normally balanced human being cannot be smiling after watching that, so let's talk about the latest Patriot playoff disappointment.

Last week I wrote a post stating that if the Patriots play their best, I didn't see how Baltimore could win. Unfortunately, the Patriots did not play their best. Far from it. Dropped passes, poor clock management, and poor offensive execution in the Red Zone and on 3rd downs. And the Ravens, ravenously capitalized.

The Patriots offense is good enough to win games on its own. The Patriots defense is good enough to combine with the offense to win games. The Patriots defense is not good enough to win games on its own. The offense played poorly on Sunday and put the defense in the position to do what they could not. This defense can win a quarter, maybe even a half. But it cannot win an entire game.

The injury to Aqib Talib exposed how shallow the Patriots are at CB. How many NFL teams would have Kyle Arrington as a starting CB? How many would have Marquice Cole on the roster at all? Hopefully in the 2013 season, the Patriots will not be one of those teams.

When was the last time this team won a tough playoff game? Last year's AFC Championship was tough, but Billy Cundiff helped. The week before that they demolished Denver 45-10. The last difficult playoff game the Patriots won without the help of a choking kicker was the 2007 AFC Championship against San Diego. That seems like a lifetime ago.

This team has the talent to contend for Championships every year. Their execution, however, is inconsistent. Wes Welker had a great game, but dropped a huge pass on 3rd and 7. Brandon Lloyd could have made a few more catches. Tom Brady threw more than a few balls off the mark.

And give credit to Baltimore. They took advantage. They swatted Brady's passes, their offense adjusted in the second half, they deserved to win.

The biggest difference between the 2001 to 2004 Patriots and the 2007 to 2012 Patriots can be measured by a handful of big plays that were made in '01, '03, and '04; and weren't made in '07, '11, and now the 2012 season. It's as simple as that. The talent, the coaching, the intelligence is there. And it will be there next season.

I can't wait for training camp.

Photo Credit:
The Associated Press

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Patriots-Ravens Drinking Game: AFC Championship Edition

Here we are, again. Another AFC Championship. We're spoiled here in New England. Anyway, here is your AFC Championship drinking game...

Anytime a commentator says...
"AFC" = take 1 drink from a beer
"Bulletin board material" = 1 drink
"Revenge" or "vengeance" or anything similar = 1 drink
"Rematch" = 2 drinks
"Belichick era" = 1 drink
"Brady era"= 1 drink
"Ray Lewis" = 1 drink
"Retirement" = 1 drink
"Fired up" = 1 shot
"Double overtime" = 2 drinks
"Tuck rule" = 1 drink
"Aqib Talib" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on screen...
Lamar Hunt Trophy = 1 drink
Highlights from Week 3 = drink until the highlight reel is over
Highlights from 2011 AFC title game = drink until the reel is over
Highlights from 2009 AFC Divisional playoff game = drink until the reel is over
Rob Gronkowski getting injured = 1 drink
Gronkowski in person = 1 drink
Ray Lewis = 1 drink
Ray Lewis yelling = 1 drink, 1 shot
Ray Lewis crying = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
Graphic with Brady and other great QBs (Montana, Bradshaw, Unitas, etc.) = drink for 12 seconds
Graphic with Belichick and other great coaches (Shula, Landry, Lombardi, etc.) = drink for as long as the graphic is up there
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink beer the entire time he's talking

Anytime this happens...
Any discussion of Joe Flacco not being properly respected = drink for 5 seconds, then each time such conversation occurs, add 5 seconds to the drinking, so drink for 5, then 10, then 15 seconds, and so on.
Joe Flacco throws a pick = drink for 5 seconds, then 5 more the 2nd time (so 5, then 10, then 15, and so on)
Tom Brady yells "Aplha Milk" = 1 drink, bonus points for eggnog or White Russians
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink (or 3 drinks from Mike's Hard Lemonade for bonus points)
Patriots get a 1st down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Patriots allow 10+ yard run play = 1 drink
Patriots allow a 20+ yard pass play = drink for 20 seconds
Patriots force a turnover = 1 shot
Vince Wilfork forces or recovers a turnover = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 whole beer, 1 shot, 1 pound of poultry
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink during the entire return

If this happens...
Patriots win = drink a glass of champagne
Ravens win = drink grain alcohol and take Ambien until you are blind or asleep

Enjoy the game, and please get lubed up responsibly!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's Hard Not to Be Ridiculously Optimistic About the Patriots

I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high. I'm trying to stay grounded the week before the AFC Championship game. I'm reminding myself of the 2009 playoffs when Baltimore came here and beat the Pats. Despite the effort to prevent over-optimism, I just can't help myself. Here's why:

The Ravens have played 9+ quarters of playoff football in 2 weeks. Their key defensive players are old, and will have to keep pace with a frequently up-tempo Patriots offense, which has played 4 quarters in 2 weeks. At some point attrition must take its toll.

Joe Flacco is Baltimore's quarterback. He's hit or miss, sometimes great, sometimes completely ineffective. The Ravens are good enough to win without him (See the aforementioned 2009 playoff game against New England), but after two great playoff performances, he's overdue to crap the bed.

The Patriots have a much better secondary than in their Week 3 loss to Baltimore. Flacco threw for 382 in that 31-30 Ravens win. That was when Devin McCourty was a cornerback, not a safety. Aqib Talib was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. And Alfonzo Dennard was out with a hamstring injury. Baltimore had 10 pass plays of 20+ yards in that game, 4 of 30+ yards, and 2 40+ yarders. Not to mention a 27 yard pass interference penalty on McCourty.

Now, with Talib and Dennard as the corners, and McCourty as a safety, things are much better. The defense keeps the play in front of them. They tackle well. Talib can play man coverage. Which is more likely, Flacco throwing for 380 yards? Or being intercepted by McCourty?

I'm not being a Dan Shauhgnessy and guaranteeing a steamroll victory. I actually think the game will be close until the 4th quarter. And the Patriots can certainly lose. They can fumble the ball, miss tackles, get confused on coverage, and make enough mistakes to allow Baltimore to win.

But if the Patriots play at or near their best, then how can Baltimore win? How can Joe Flacco and a tired defense prevail? It seems impossible.

I Have No Pity for Manti Te'o

You know the story. Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te'o was tricked into thinking his online girlfriend was real, and then died of leukemia. The truth was revealed to him in December and now it's finally become public news. And now Te'o is the subject of memes and cracks on Twitter.

While some people make light of what happened, others have expressed sympathy for Te'o. I, however, feel no sympathy, pity, empathy, or any compassion for him at all.

When most people get tricked online, it throws their lives into shambles. They get their identity stolen and lose money and see their credit-rating shattered. Some people see themselves in nude pictures or sex-tapes on the internet. This affects them forever. They struggle to borrow money, get jobs, et cetera. Some people have to move to different towns after something horrible happens to them on the internet.

All that happened to Te'o is that he got embarrassed. Hence the jokes and memes. If this had been serious, if Te'o had truly been permanently wounded by this, then people wouldn't be so fast to mock.

He'll still be drafted by an NFL team, still make tons of money, still have an opportunity to be with the real woman or women of his choosing. That's more than can be said for most of us. So I don't feel sorry for Te'o, not one iota.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Peyton Manning's Diary: Can't Wait for Pro Bowl

Dear Diary,
I'm upset! I don't get to play football anymore, not until the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. And I do like the trip to Hawaii, and enjoy my regular season accomplishments being appreciated, I just wish I got to play more football with my friends. I wish I could play football in Hawaii and New Orleans. But not Foxborough. It's too cold there! Brrrrrrrr!

This is just like college. We'd play a regular season, then a single game after the regular season, then things would be over. That's how it's been for most of my career in the NFL. This is the 8th time my season has ended after only one bonus game.

I want to keep playing football but I can't anymore. I need to rest and make time for commercials, and pizza. That's what Coach Tony always said in Indianapolis: losing early meant more time for pizza parties. I get more time to rest now. And more time to play Mario Kart!

I feel bad for people in Colorado. Last year they had a crappy quarterback and won a playoff game. This year they have me, a great quarterback, and we were outshined by Joe Flacco, who was the QB at Delaware.

I think one problem we had was that I'm too good at reading defenses. And I'm too good of a teammate. We had a 3rd and 7 play late in the game, and I changed the play (because I'm so smart) to a run. It was because of my superior analysis, along with being a phenomenal teammate willing to give the ball to someone else in pivotal situations. That's what cost us the game. I felt bad for Ronnie because he doesn't get to touch the ball much. That's why I let him have it five plays in a row.

I'm sure it was our kicker's fault too.

Kickers don't like me. Even Adam didn't invite me to his spaghetti and whine (who would want to whine after a football game that we'd won?) parties back in Indiana. He said it was because I couldn't handle the sauce. I'm not sure what that means. I love Prego. And I love Papa John's. I love tomato sauce!

Thankfully, most people on ESPN and in the national sports media keep my big secret, that I'm 9-11 in the playoffs, and have lost 8 times in my first playoff game. ESPN loves me, and will not talk about how much I dislike playoff games. Most media ignore how often my team gets beat in the playoffs. That's very nice of them. That's thanks to Coach Tony and the pizza parties he'd open up to the media back in Indiana.

Anyway, I'll be filming more commercials (some with my brother I hope). And I'll watch Coach Tony on TV with that mean old Rodney Harri-bum. Ha Ha Ha. Don't tell Coach Tony I used that word. He'd frown.

Thanks for listening, diary. I love you.

And see you in Hawaii, diary. Aloha!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Patriots in Final Four

Chew on these facts for a few moments. Enjoy their taste, let them digest, and fill your stomach with joy...

This is the 7th time in the Brady/Belichick era that the Patriots have made the AFC Championship game. 7 times in 12 years the Patriots have made the NFL's Final Four. And one of those years was 2008, when Brady hardly played a game.

This was Tom Brady's 17th playoff win as a starter. An NFL record.

Over the last 10 years, the Patriots are 100 games above .500 (140-40). So over that span they've averaged 14 wins per season (postseason and regular included), and 10 more wins than losses. Every season. That's absurd.

Now it's time to tone down the optimism and ground ourselves. The Patriots will be facing the Ravens, who beat the Patriots this season. The Pats will be without Rob Gronkowski. And 3 of the Pats' 4 losses this season have come against teams named after birds.

And quite frankly, the Ravens are on a mission. They've won two playoff games already. They are the ONLY team in the NFL to win 2 playoff games. Let that fact sink in for a moment.

Only two teams won road playoff games and Baltimore is one of them. Only one road team won in the Divisional Round, and it was Baltimore. Last year Baltimore came up here in the AFC title game, and now they have a better kicker.

We are spoiled by the elite up here. We expect this team to make the AFC Championship game every year, and they deliver more than 50% of the time. And we expect them to win AFC titles at home. Which they haven't failed to deliver in the reign of Belichick and Brady.

A week from now we may be anticipating yet another Super Bowl. A week from now we may be analyzing a playoff exit, and critiquing players and coaches for mistakes and shortcomings.

But overall, if you take a step back and absorb the last 12 years as a whole, it's absolutely fucking amazing what this team does. Belichick and Brady just win.

Patriots host the Ravens Sunday evening. I can't wait.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Friday, January 11, 2013

Patriots-Texans Drinking Game: Playoff Edition

It's the playoffs, and a rematch of a Drinking Game we had a few weeks ago. But that was dominated by the ever annoying Jon Gruden. So here's a new drinking game.

Anytime a commentator says...
"Foxhole" = 1 drink from a beer
"Bulletin board material" = 1 drink
"Swat" = 1 drink
"SWAT team" = 1 drink from a beer, 1 shot
"Biggest game in Texans history" = drink entire beer
"Belichick era" = 1 drink
"Brady era" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on the screen...
Highlights from Week 14 = drink during highlights
Rob Gronkowski's cast or brace = 1 drink
Iso replay of Aqib Talib covering Andre Johnson = drink during the entire replay
Iso replay of Wes Welker being covered = drink during the entire replay
Wade Phillips = 1 drink
J.J. Watt swatting a ball = 1 drink
Watt sitting on a bench = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink beer the entire time he's talking

Anytime this happens...
Wade Phillips's remarks about Welker are mentioned = 1 drink
Dan Shaughnessy's remarks about the Texans are mentioned = 1 drink
The Texans run the ball on 2nd & 5+ = 1 drink
The Texans go play-action = 1 drink
Tom Brady yells "Aplha Milk" = 1 drink of eggnog or a White Russian
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink (or 3 drinks from Mike's Hard Lemonade for bonus points)
Patriots get a 1st down = 1 drink
Patriots go no-huddle = 1 drink per snap
Patriots allow 10+ yard run play = 1 drink
Patriots force a turnover = 1 shot
Vince Wilfork forces or recovers a turnover = 1 whole beer, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 whole beer, 1 shot, 1 pound of Texas beef
Kickoff touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink during the entire return

Get lubed up responsibly.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

BBWAA Covers PED Story 15 Years Late

Firstly, how stupid is it to have an envelope-opening-ceremony when you know the envelope is empty? That was baseball at its most baseballiness yesterday. Just have a press conference and be done with it.

Now to the meat of the discussion. No player was voted into the Hall of Fame by the pompous BBWAA (Baseball Writers' Association of America). A slugger with 762 HRs, 514 steals, and 7 MVPs received 36.2% of the vote. A pitcher with 354 wins and 7 Cy Youngs received only 38.8% Why? Because of PEDs.

I hate Barry Bonds. And I can't wait to DVR Roger Clemens's funeral so I can watch it again and again, and have a chuckle anytime I want. But these guys were never caught, never convicted, and they were damn good players even before the likely start of their PED cycles. Bonds won the MVP 3 times from 1990 to 1993. Clemens won 3 of his Cy Youngs in Boston.

But no, in this issue full of grey area and complex questions, the BBWAA has taken a simple black and white stance. Suspicion=guilt. Even being surrounded by suspicious players means you're guilty. However the BBWAA isn't looking for justice. They simply want to punish the players who threatened the illusion that baseball is something special, something pure. This is about vengeance.

Documentarian Ken Burns made some remarks that clearly demonstrate the punitive attitudes of those who voted against Bonds and Clemens:

"We know some pitchers extended their playing careers, we know some people hit the ball farther... those motherfuckers should suffer for a while."

Yes, Ken Burns actually said that.

Suffer? Motherfuckers? These sound like the words of someone being interviewed outside a Court House, after some thugs were convicted of murdering his children. I can picture Samuel L. Jackson saying this, not Ken Burns.

He and the BBWAA have no right to mount such high horses. They were all complicit in the steroid era, particularly the BBWAA. The writers, whose job it is to find stories and write about them, somehow missed the biggest story in sports for well over a decade. They followed every movement of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and later Barry Bonds, and yet found nothing suspicious? They did no digging, they didn't look for anything to make Big Mac and Sosa look bad.

And when people did speculate or point out the rapid increase in homeruns, they were dismissed as cynics. And then writers talked about how tightly wound the ball was, and how that was making them fly out of the park at absurd rates. And the reason biceps were bursting was due to modern weight-training techniques and protein shakes. Every theory except for illegal PEDs was used to explain the ridiculous amount of homeruns being hit.

The BBWAA was willfully negligent, and they missed the story. Now, since they couldn't punish these players with words, they're punishing them with votes.

Well it's too late. What's done is done. You let this happen. So did the owners, so did MLB, so did the MLBPA, so did the fans. We all let this happen, and we enjoyed it. And it can't be erased. Just like segregation can't be erased. Or the reserve-clause era before free agency. Or the cocaine-era.

A friend of mine pointed out that the Hall of Fame is primarily a museum of the game's history. The writers want to rewrite the history (which they initially did not write about), and that's just wrong. The BBWAA should vote for people they don't like, vote for sluggers with muscles throbbing with HGH, vote for pitchers who extended their careers. It might hurt the BBWAA to do so, but to quote Ken Burns, those motherfuckers should suffer for a while.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Why I Hate Notre Dame

I hate Notre Dame. I hate the school, the team, the alumni, the lack of football conference affiliation, the logo, and just about everything that has anything to do with Notre Dame. Except Rudy. That movie gets me weepy every time. But apart from that, I despise everything related to Notre Dame.

Why? Because I'm Irish. I hate the notion that because one's family is of Irish descent, they should like some random football team in South Bend, Indiana. Why should Irish-Americans give their sporting allegiance to some school that has nothing to do with them? Just because their mascot is a racist caricature of a drunken, brawling, simian Irishman?

Why else should I hate Notre Dame? Well it's pretentious in sports. The whole "independent" thing rubs me the wrong way. Why not join a league and be part of a larger community? Or is Notre Dame too good, too superior to lower itself by joining a league?

I hate the fact that seemingly 20% of the population of New England wear Notre Dame hats and t-shirts, because it's an expression of Irishness. It's not. Drinking heavily is an expression of Irishness. Writing groundbreaking novels is an expression of Irishness. Being enraged at Great Britain is an expression of Irishness. The "Fighting Irish" football team has as much to do with Irishness as a drinking a cup of French Roast coffee while driving a Fiat.

And finally, this is a pet peeve of mine, but Notre Dame Stadium's sidelines are overly crowded with people. The sidelines are packed with different cheer groups, as well as fans, and people getting in the way of the players on the field. It's dangerous. But Notre Dame doesn't care. They're going to do things the Notre Dame way.

So I'm especially pleased that Alabama throttled Notre Dame. Crimson defeated Gold. Put the echoes to sleep. And so on. Roll Tide.

Monday, January 07, 2013

NHL Unlocked

Thanks to Federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh, the NHL and NHLPA were able to reach a tentative deal that will end the Lockout. It's very unfortunate that some obscure mediator did more to get hockey back than NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA honcho Donald Fehr.

The good news is that hockey is back. There's enough time to play an abbreviated schedule, probably around 48 games. And frankly, the 82 game regular season was too long anyway. A 48 game schedule could make for more exciting and more meaningful games.

The other piece of good news is that the CBA will last for 10 years. So we won't have our next significant work stoppage until the 2022-23 season.

I'm excited hockey is back. Especially with the end of football season around the corner. February would have really sucked without hockey.

However, the root problems that plague the NHL remain. There are too many teams in markets that don't care about hockey and therefore don't generate enough revenue to keep pace with the big teams in profitable markets. That was the root cause behind the owners' demand that players get paid less, even as overall revenues have increased. Teams in struggling markets couldn't spend at the pace of the teams doing well, like the Bruins or Rangers. And the owners of those big market teams didn't want to share more of their own revenues.

The problem that instigated this Lockout still remain. The CBA is like a back brace for someone with a foot problem that results in back pain. It temporarily alleviates the symptoms, but does not address the cause.

The NHL has other problems as well. There's extreme inconsistency and ambivalence when it comes to discipline. The ice-surface should also be widened.

The NHL also needs to keep the Stanley Cup Playoffs the same. And they need to release their players to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

I have quite a few issues with the NHL. But hockey is back. And flawed hockey is better than no hockey.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Pennsylvania Governor Suing NCAA

Governor Tom Corbett is suing the NCAA over the sanctions imposed on Penn State in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State was fined over $60 million, banned from postseason play for 4 years, and forced to reduce scholarships.

Penn State is not part of the lawsuit, as the school agreed not to sue when it agreed to accept these sanctions.

The money collected as fines is supposed to go to child-abuse prevention programs.

Governor Corbett serves on Penn State's board and did not voice any opposition to the sanctions when they were imposed.

This is a scumbag move from an attention seeking politician. Pennsylvania seems to produce those in abundance (see: Arlen Specter). Penn State, a school, allowed its football program to dominate the institution, instead of being part of it. It allowed young boys to be molested on school property. It allowed for a coach - who is a state employee, by the way - to molest children unpunished and unimpeded. All for the sake of a football program.

Penn State, as an institution, allowed its football program to become more powerful than the school, more powerful than the Law, more powerful than basic human decency and compassion. Both the program and the school deserved to be reduced in power and prestige, until an appropriate hierarchy can be rebuilt. That's what these sanctions endeavor to do.

The school allowed its program to get out of control. And guess what, there are a few other schools and programs like that. Texas football. Syracuse basketball. And many more. These are programs that have become much more powerful than the schools they are a part of. That's another story, though. One the NCAA doesn't want to address but probably should.

But all many Pennsylvanians (not most, but a significant number) and Penn State boosters/alumni care about is their football team. And their beloved St. Joseph of Paterno.

The Governor of Pennsylvania wants Penn State to keep its money, instead of that money going to programs that try to prevent child-abuse. Because football programs are more important than human beings, at least they are to some people.

It's disgusting.

Speculating About Josh McDaniels

I love the sports media. All media, really. They all follow the same formula when "following" a story.

Step 1: Find an interesting fact. In this case, the fact that Josh McDaniels is actively refusing head coaching vacancies. But simply regurgitating facts isn't enough to justify a journalist's paycheck. We need to know why and it's the journalist's job to tell us.

After step 1, the journalist has an option, A difficult Step 2 or an easy Step 2.

Difficult Step 2: Find out why the fact is. Do research, ask questions, contact sources, dig through records. Do some serious journalism to find out why the fact from Step 1 is so.

Easy Step 2: Speculate why. Guess. It's not only easier and faster, you get to choose the most sensational guess to cover and discuss. So the story is always as interesting as possible.

Step 3: Opine. Give opinions. If you are on the speculative track, your opinions should reflect that by being strong, extreme, and inflexible. Because it's best to have a solid, immovable opinion when your facts are flimsy.

Facts and truth have little to do with journalism. At least not the journalism that anyone reads or cares about. And this lack of facts is not just true in the sports media, by the way, it's politics, entertainment, financial news. Everything. Interesting speculation and extreme opinions get more attention than simple facts and moderate opinions.

So here's my sensational Josh McDaniels speculation: I think if the Patriots win this Super Bowl, Bill Belichick will retire within a month. He'll set up his heir-apparent McDaniels with a team that still has Brady, and has a young talented defense. Belichick gets to retire but his legacy lives on.

Here's my reasonable speculation: McDaniels has already failed as a head coach. The next chance he gets will likely be his last. The current vacancies aren't with teams that have good situations. They're mostly teams mired in turmoil. McDaniels might want to wait for a more favorable situation to arise.

Here's a boring speculation: Maybe McDaniels likes it here, likes working with Bill, likes working with Brady. Maybe he tried head-coaching and it wasn't for him. Some coaches are Captain Kirks, some are Mr. Spocks. There's nothing wrong with being a Spock.

Here's my absurd speculation: McDaniels is secretly married to Jonathan Kraft, and the two of them used Gisele Bundchen to be a surrogate mother to a child conceived using DNA from McDaniels and Belichick's daughter. The pregnancy was accompanied by dark sacrifices and Satanic rituals, overseen by evil wizard Ernie Adams. The child will one day coach the Patriots, bring the world as we know it to an end, and win 8 Super Bowl titles.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Winter Classic: Red Wings 0, Maple Leafs 0

Yesterday the NHL staged its 6th annual Winter Classic at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. All those in attendance witnessed a tight game. Although neither goalie had to work much. There were 0 shots on goal. Despite the defensive nature of the contest, it was clean. There were no penalties issued.

The real winner was the NHL and the game of Hockey. Every person who went to the game had an experience to share and fondly remember. All the fans who participated at events at Comerica Park also had a good time, and will associate the NHL and hockey with fun and enjoyment.

The NHL finally figured out how to put on a good show. When the first Winter Classic was played in 2008, the League had no idea how important of an event it would be. And it's a decent TV draw. On a day when many people stay at home and watch television with friends and family.

The Winter Classic is part of the Hockey Fan Experience. From the fans who go to the game, to those who watch it on TV. It's become a vital event for the game and for the NHL.

And if the NHL ever grows a brain, or a new league replaces it, they should do everything in their power to avoid cancelling any and all future Winter Classics.