Friday, November 29, 2013

Steelers-Ravens Game Almost Decided by Stupid Application of Rules

A late 4th quarter touchdown scored by the Pittsburgh Steelers was overturned last night. Why? Because a Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell's helmet popped off just before he carried the ball across the goal-line. The helmet came off due to a helmet-to-helmet hit initiated by a Ravens defender. There was no penalty called.

I understand the rule that play should stop once a helmet comes off. That's been a rule in college football for years. An official sees a helmet come off, for whatever reason, and the play is blown dead. It's a rule strictly for player safety. And it makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is the ability to review a play that's already ended, and decide when it would have theoretically ended had the refs blown a whistle the instant a helmet came off. How does this time-travelling hindsight whistle improve player safety? The play has already been run and finished. You can't go back in time and protect a vulnerable player AFTER the play is over. You can't go back and stop the play before the player became vulnerable.

I hate how influential rules can be when they're applied outside of their spirit and intention. Last night a player safety rule was applied in a way that did NOTHING to improve player safety, and did nothing to punish the person who jeopardized the player's safety in the first place (the Ravens defender). However it could have had a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

So no impact on player safety, possible impact on the game's outcome, and the rule is used. Makes no sense.

I'm so utterly, utterly sick and tired of NFL games turning because of the rulebook and the literal or inconsistent or vague application of those rules. What happened to analyzing games for player performances and coaching decisions? Now games are analyzed by quoting rules and consulting former officials. Rules are meant to govern games, not direct them.

The fact that a player safety rule was invoked where it had no impact on player safety does not make sense.

The fact that a guy gets clobbered as he's diving across the goal-line, so hard that his helmet pops off his head, and that's what allowed refs to effectively go back in time and blow a whistle to stop the play, does not make sense.

The fact that this type of play is reviewable does not make sense.

The fact that rules against things like helmet-to-helmet contact can't be enforced in review, but this rule can, does not make sense. That's something that actually could improve player safety.

The spirit of these rules means nothing to the NFL or to its officials. It's literal lawyering, it's asinine, it's confusing, it's lame. It makes NFL games aggravating not entertaining.

Or maybe the refs are trying to quietly get revenge on the NFL for last year's lockout. Hmmmmm. Conspiracy theory.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peyton Manning's Diary: BRRRRRRRR/Happy Turkey Day!

Dear Diary,
I hate Foxborough! There aren't even any foxes! Just cold and wind and mean people. It's so hard to throw the ball when it's windy. I don't get it. Why don't they build a dome so it's easier to do things?

After writing to you, diary, I'm going to write a letter to the owner of the Broncos, asking for a roof on our stadium. And also to pressurize it like an airplane so there's exactly as much air as there was back in Indiana. In fact, I texted Coach Tony this morning, and he got a bunch of people in Indiana to go out with jars today and collect Indiana air. Then we can use that in the Mile High Dome. I hope they only get air from indoors, though.

Indiana gets cold too and they built a dome. I still don't get it.

Diary, give me a few minutes while I shake my head and smirk with frustration.

Okay I'm back. My cheeks hurt.

Anyway, Coach Tony called me the other day to make sure I was okay. I was okay once I heard his voice. Coach Tony told me that with Thanksgiving around the corner, instead of focusing on the loss to the Patriots, I should focus on what I'm thankful for. So I made a list.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:

Balloons, both the animal kind and the non-animal kind.

Coach Tony

My family, especially Papa Bear who doesn't allow jewelry at the table so Eli can't ask me to pass the gravy and bang his rings on the table if I don't do it right away

John Elway

Hand warmers



My agent

Gravy... again, lol


Pizza, especially from Papa John's

Lucrative endorsement deals

That Bill Belichick isn't my coach. I know if I don't have anything nice to say I shouldn't say anything at all. But he just looks mean.

The Thanksgiving parade

All parades

My pals Eric and Wes

Cranberry sauce


Pumpkin pie (I'm hungry, lol)


Jeff Saturday

Artificial turf

Climate control

Ear muffs

The circus (but not clowns)

And last but not leas... you, Diary, I'm thankful for you. You're always there for me. You're like a dome for my heart.

Happy Turkey Day, Diary!

Could BC's Andre Williams Win the Heisman?

There could be a perfect storm brewing that would put Boston College running back Andre Williams in position to win the Heisman Trophy. Two of the leading candidates - Johnny Manziel and Oregon's Marcus Mariota - are out of contention due to recent poor performances. And the most likely Heisman hopeful - Florida State QB Jameis Winston - is under a cloud of suspicion as he has been accused of sexual assault in 2012. Details of that situation remain unclear.

With these hazy conditions, a running back on a 7-win team has emerged as a potential winner of the most coveted award in college football. BC's Andre Williams has already passed the 2,000 yard mark and stands at 2,073. He's setting school and ACC records. He's responsible for 51% of BC's total offense. And he's the biggest reason that the Eagles have won 7 games this year, after only winning twice in 2012.

Williams has been on an absolute tear, rushing for 260+ in each of the last 3 games, accumulating 897 yards in that stretch (averaging 8.6 per carry) and 6 TDs. In his last 5 games he's rushed for 1,235 yards or 247 per game. He's scored 9 TDs in those games.

BC plays their final regular season game Saturday in Syracuse. The Orange are actually the 27th best team against the run in the country, in terms of rushing yard allowed per game (135.5).

If he has a monster game against Syracuse and pushes BC to an 8-4 record, he will continue to get Heisman consideration.

I like Andre Williams. I think it's good for him and for BC football that he's receiving this attention. However I don't think he's a Heisman winner. He doesn't do anything in the passing games (0 receptions). Against USC and Clemson he failed to rush for 100 yards (38 and 70, respectively). Five of his 16 touchdowns were scored against Army. He's carried BC, but only to 7 wins. BC has never been close to contending for a divisional title or anything more than bowl eligibility.

His season is impressive. It just doesn't knock your socks off like most Heisman winning seasons do. If Winston can't win it, then AJ McCarron would be my pick because he's led his team to an undefeated season (if Alabama do in fact go undefeated). There's also Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (who added 4 more TDs to his total last night) and the Fresno State QB. As boring as it is to once again see the Heisman go to the best running quarterback in college football, Williams doesn't have the shock and awe value that previous Heisman winners have had. Or that these other 2013 hopefuls have.

He's done enough to earn a seat at the ceremony in New York, but not enough to go home with the trophy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Belichick Shows Superior Logic and Superior Balls by Kicking in OT

Sunday night Bill Belichick made a coaching decision that confounded the crowd at Gillette Stadium and puzzled even his own players. By kicking to start overtime, Belichick went against conventional strategy. He took a chance by taking the wind. It worked out. And like all coaching decisions, it worked out because the players did their job once the coach made the call.

I would have elected to receive. But I get the logic behind Belichick's decision. And the more I think about it, the more I like it.

Let's say the wind had the following impacts on field goal attempts, based on what happened with warm-up kicks:

Into the wind, a 40 yard field goal would be considered ambitious but possible.

With the wind, a 55 yard field goal would be considered ambitious but possible.

So into the wind you'd need to get the ball to the 23 yard line, with the wind you'd need to get it to the 38.

The Patriots kicked off to the Broncos, almost assured of a touchback. So Manning and the Broncos would start at their 20, needing to move the ball 80 yards for a touchdown or 57 yards for a field goal.

During regulation, the Broncos had an 80 yard drive and a 70 yard drive. They had 10 drives under 50 yards, and 9 drives under 25 yards. Denver's 70 yard drive was with the wind, their 80 yard drive was against it.

In OT, if Denver drives 80 yards for a TD, the game's over.

If the Broncos kick a field goal, they need to drive 57 yards to have a reasonable chance, and then they'd kick off to the Patriots, who would probably get it at the 20, although with the wind they might get it with a shorter field. Let's just say the 20.

Down 3 and needing to match a field goal, starting from the 20 the Patriots would need to drive 42 yards to get within range. The Patriots had three 40+ yard drives during regulation, and seven drives of 30+. They'd also be able to use all 4 downs to move the ball.

If the Broncos try a field goal and miss, the Patriots might have an even shorter field to work with.

If the Broncos fail to get within field goal range and punt, then the Patriots are in fantastic shape. They have the wind, they have less distance to get to field goal range. Even if they fail to attempt a field goal, they're in position to give Denver poor field position, especially with the wind helping the Patriots punter (which is what happened).

The Patriots defense did its job in preventing Denver from scoring on the opening drive. But had they done even better, and held Denver to a 3 and out, and forced a 40 yard punt (long for a punter kicking into the wind) from the 20, then the Patriots would have gotten the ball back on their 40, only 22 yards from reasonable field goal range.

After each team had a possession, the overtime became a field position battle. And even though Denver had an advantage with odd-numbered possessions, Manning had to throw into the wind, the Broncos had to punt into the wind, the kicker would have to kick into the wind.

For this edge, Belichick risked a first possession touchdown, and the game ending with his best players touching the ball.

Even if you disagree with it, you must respect the the balls necessary to take the risk. Belichick has audacity. And many coaches that struggle to reach that next level of success often fail to do so because they play it too safe, they play prevent defenses, they hand the ball off to Knowshon Moreno when they're up 24-0.

There was logic behind Belichick's decision. We can debate the soundness of that logic all we want. What's not up for debate is that Belichick is fearless. He makes decisions and doesn't care what anyone thinks, doesn't worry about them failing. He's bold. He's daring.

That's one of his defining characteristics, and one of the reasons he's been so successful.

Bruins Win Quickly in Overtime

The night after the Patriots took almost an entire fifth quarter of football to beat the Broncos, the Bruins needed only 34 seconds of bonus hockey to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3.

What I liked most about this game was the diverse way the Bruins scored their 4 goals. Each goal was different. Loui Eriksson scored in transition, beating Marc-Andre Fleury straight-up. Reilly Smith scored a power play goal. In the 3rd, Zdeno Chara was credited with a goal as the puck deflected off Sidney Crosby's stick. However the goal was the result of a sustained Bruins possession in Pittsburgh's zone.

Finally, Torey Krug's overtime winner was a great example of cycling the puck and cycling position when playing 4-on-4. Krug started the play on the right point, then passed the puck as he switched sides to the left. This also drew Crosby (who had man coverage on Krug) to get a bit confused and out of position, focusing on the puck not the man. Once Krug got the puck back on the left point, he had half the ice to drive toward the net. He wound up and slapped the puck through Fleury and the game was over.

Krug's 7th goal of the season is good for second most on the team.

Chara finally scored his first even-strength goal. He and Krug have combined for 7 PP goals. The rest of the team has a total of 4 (2 from Hamilton, 1 each from Smith and Bergeron). Nine of the 11 Bruins power play goals have been scored by defensemen.

This game would have had more impact in the old divisional alignment, as the Bruins and Penguins would be vying for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, 3 points apart. Now it's not as meaningful. At least not to the standings.

The Bruins play the Red Wings in Detroit Wednesday night, then have U.S. Thanksgiving off, then host the Rangers on Black Friday. They have 3 games in 4 days then have 4 days off. The Penguins, Red Wings, and Rangers. Not a bad week of hockey.

Photo Credit:
Elise Amendola

Monday, November 25, 2013

Never Leave Gillette Stadium Early

I can just imagine how pissed off at themselves fans who left last night’s game early were. They were probably on the highway, cruising along with minimal traffic, heat blasting waves of warm air, physically comfortable and emotionally pained. Miserable because they missed one of the best games of the year.

And that misery is deserved. Those people should be pissed at themselves. I’m pissed at them too. You drop a couple hundred bucks on tickets/parking/food/beer, you wear 20 layers of clothes, you still freeze your nads and/or tits off, and you leave at halftime?

Stay for a few plays in the 3rd quarter. Give it a half hour. See if the Pats can score or maybe stop a few Denver drives and make the game entertaining. It was only one play away from 24-7, two plays away from 24-14.

The game was entertaining. One thing the Patriots haven’t been this year is dull.

It started horribly. The Stadium had the same ugly vibe it had in the 2009 playoff game against Baltimore. Shock. A stunned irritation. So much anticipation for such a big game and then a massive let down in the first two quarters.

Give credit to this team for not packing it in and for coming out hard in the 3rd quarter. This offense is definitely back running on all cylinders, with Rob Gronkowski as the turbo charger.

Tom Brady’s throws are more decisive. He threw into the wind so much better than Manning. Brady was 17 of 23 for over 200 yards into the wind.

He has a full complement to throw to. The captain has a full crew. Rob Gronkowski changes the shape of the offense and forces defenses to change everything they do. Julian Edelman had a monster game with 110 yards and 2 TDs. Shane Vereen’s return the past few games has been a big boost. Kenbrell Thompkins can now be more comfortable as a supporting actor and not feel pressure to produce like a star.

The pressure isn’t on one receiver anymore. Danny Amendola doesn’t have to catch 10 passes a game. Aaron Dobson doesn’t have to lead the team in receiving yardage.

Tom Brady is now 10-4 lifetime against Peyton Manning. You can’t fault Manning for the punt return fumble at the end of overtime. You can blame Wes Welker for being indecisive and not helping his blocker out. That’s his job, he didn’t do it. And you can also blame Manning for throwing poorly in poor conditions. That’s always been an issue with him.

Screw Manning and screw Welker.

Within one game the Patriots turned themselves from a 7-4 team tied with the Bengals and Colts (and disadvantaged tie-breaker wise), and only 2 games up in the division, to an 8-3 team, the #2 seed in the AFC (with a potential tie-breaker over Denver if the Broncos lose again), with a 3 game divisional lead.

In other words, this was a huge win.

The schedule gets easier and warmer with a trip to Houston.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rape vs. Football in a Big Football Town

Disclaimer, this is a somber post about a serious topic. There is some occasionally graphic language and imagery.

First, let me state that people are innocent until proven guilty. And as this Jameis Winston story has unfolded, the accuser stated that her attacker was under 6 feet tall, and Winston is 6' 4" tall. I have no idea if Winston is guilty, and this post isn't about his guilt or innocence.

If Winston is innocent, that doesn't mean that Tallahassee's law enforcement didn't try to protect the Florida State QB and the FSU football program from investigation.

In a statement released to the Tampa Bay Times, the family of the accuser claims that:

"When the attorney contacted Detective (Scott) Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable," the family said.

"The family also said that Angulo refused to collect Winston's DNA or interview his roommate, a possible witness in the case, because doing so would alert Winston and allow the case to go public."

Again, I'm not saying anything about Jameis Winston here. This is about a cop in Tallahassee telling a person accusing someone else of rape that they are in "a big football town," and that "she will be raked over the coals."

It's all too easy to imagine a Tallahassee detective warning someone that wants to accuse a Florida State football player (at the time of the alleged crime, Winston was a redshirt freshman after being a highly touted recruit) of sexual assault, that their life will be made miserable. I can imagine a similar conversation occurring in State College, PA if the family of a young boy wanted to accuse a Penn State coach of sexual assault.

"This is a big football town."

What the hell is a big football town? It's a town that identifies itself through a team. State College is home of the Nittany Lions. Tallahassee is home of the Seminoles. Football is life. Everything else, including the law and basic human decency, can very easily become secondary priorities. As it did in State College.

What's alarming is that this attitude could prevail in any college sports crazed town: Tuscaloosa, Norman, Eugene, Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, South Bend, Syracuse, Lexington, College Station, Austin, Gainesville, Lawrence, anywhere.

And maybe the police weren't trying to protect Florida State or Winston. Maybe they were trying to protect the accuser from the onslaught that a "big football town" would unleash on her. If you accuse a star athlete of rape in these sports-obsessed towns, you're putting yourself in jeopardy.

And it's not just college towns.

Just look at what happened in Maryville, Missouri. There a 14-year-old girl accused star high school football players and wrestlers of rape. She was found the morning after a party, by her mother, passed out on their lawn in sub-freezing temperatures, weeping, disoriented. The mother gave her a bath and found her daughter to have anal and vaginal bruises. The town rallied behind the alleged rapists, threatened the girl on social media, the mother lost her job, and eventually the family felt compelled to leave town. Then their old house was mysteriously burnt down. Charges were dropped with no explanation. One of the accused players was related to a state lawmaker, whose picture hangs in the office of the District Attorney who dropped the charges.

Or Steubenville, Ohio, where members of the community rallied around star football players who were eventually convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious girl. There were tweets and videos online of the accused talking about raping the accuser, as well as pissing on her. Yet still many in the town stood by the team and the accused players.

And as the guilty verdict was read, a CNN reporter focused on the plight of the student-rapist-athletes: "Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart." Even after conviction, the athletes, the team, the sport are the focus. Not justice, not the law.

That's what can happen in "a big football town." When a team becomes larger than the town, or a school, or basic human decency. They become towns without pity.

State College, PA is perhaps the worst case of what the NCAA called "loss of institutional control" in "a big football town." When in fact the problem was that the institution - in this case the PSU football program and the university - had far too much power. The program exerted direct control over the school, and indirect influence over local law enforcement. Joe Paterno and Penn State football literally made their own laws, and deemed rape legal. Because in "a big football town," trivial things like boys being sodomized in a shower can't be allowed to get in the way of important things like the defensive scheme against Michigan State.

And it sounds like Tallahassee could be in the same category of Maryville, Stuebenville, or State College. Someone has accused a star football player in a big football town of sexual assault. Regardless of the validity or truth of the accusation against Winston, the accuser will have her life scrutinized, she will be raked over coals, people will try to make her life miserable. Not because of her, but because of who she has accused, and what he does for a football team.

It's difficult enough for rape victims to accuse their attackers. Women who accuse men of rape have their sex lives vigorously investigated, divulged in detail, and discussed in open court and in the media. Which doesn't happen with other crimes. Why is it that if you have your car stolen, the defendant's attorneys don't investigate the history of how you took care of your car, how often you locked it, where you parked, who you let borrow it. If a risk-taking daredevil is murdered, why doesn't the defending lawyer point out that the deceased frequently risked his life, and accuse the victim of "asking for it?"

In a big football town, a woman accusing rape faces more than scrutiny and moral judgment. They face intimidation, scorn, contempt, threats, being ostracized, being shunned. By accusing a football player of rape, they're attacking the team, which in essence is an attack on the whole community. So the community defends the accused, and sometimes savagely attacks the accuser.

These towns and cities don't just revolve around these sports teams. The sports teams are the town. The team is everything. Tuscaloosa is Bama football. Lawrence is KU basketball. And the people, the police, the school officials, and the coaches sometimes defend the program at all costs. Because if the program's image is tarnished, the community is tarnished.

And they will not allow that. Especially if it's some stupid, drunk, whore doing the tarnishing.

It's alarming. It's sad. It pisses me off.

It's sad if a Tallahassee detective warned a girl's family that if she accused Winston, her life would be made miserable, almost as if he were trying to convince her not to accuse him. It's sad that he's also correct and that such things probably will happen.

I don't know if Winston is guilty. I consider him innocent until proven so. Maybe this girl is lying. Maybe she's telling the truth. Maybe she thinks it was Winston but is wrong. Who knows.

What I do know is that in some communities, too many communities, and Boston isn't above this (see: BU hockey, or the morons who cheered for Aaron Hernandez the day he was arrested), people not only blindly defend their sports teams. They blindly ATTACK anyone who threatens the "good name" of their beloved team. No matter how much evidence there is, no matter how suspicious circumstances are, no matter how non-thorough the investigation is.

The team is above everything.

Sports are meant to unite and entertain communities, not define and control them.

Winston is innocent until proven guilty. So was Sandusky, so were the Stuebenville kids, so were the Maryville kids. Let's extend those same rights to those who accuse rape. They're also innocent until proven otherwise.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Patriots Game Ends With Official Confusion

I'll launch a tirade about the call-then-non-call at the end of the game. Then I'll get to the game.

I find it odd that pushing a teammate when trying to block a field goal is penalized, but hugging a tight-end in the end zone is not. And I find it odd that a lawyer from Nebraska (referee Clete Blakeman, who did play QB for the Cornhuskers in the 1980s), can make an instant judgment about the athletic abilities of Rob Gronkowski AND Luke Kuechly. On the spot, the officials determined that Gronkowski would have been physically unable to turn and compete for the football in the end zone. Further, the refs determined that the influence Luke Kuechly exerted on Gronk wasn't what kept Gronkowski from competing for the ball.

So a former college player and current lawyer decided, with no benefit of replay or review, what Rob Gronkowski was and wasn't capable of doing. And what Luke Kuechly was and wasn't capable of preventing Gronkowski from doing. These are two of the best athletes in the League, and a 49-year-old lawyer determined what they were capable of.

I hate games that end this way. Any games. I hate games that end with rule book explanations.

I hate the fact that one official, who was on top of the play, instinctively threw his flag. He saw SOMETHING. Then the crew decided that whatever he saw was nullified because of something else. And it's still unclear what any of those somethings are.

If the official in the end zone had kept his flag in his pocket because it was the last play, and in all sports officials allow things to happen at the end of games that they would normally penalize in the earlier stages, that would have been fine. Instead, a flag was thrown for some reason, picked up for another reason, and the game ended with a question mark. Not a period, or an exclamation point.

Just questions marks.

To the game...

The Patriots did plenty to lose this game before that last play. Stevan Ridley's fumble might have cost them a touchdown. The 4th quarter pass on 3rd and 1 in the Red Zone was also poorly executed and a weird decision. A trademark of a Josh McDaniels offense is that he tries too hard to stay one step ahead of you. Instead of having faith in the players to execute, he tries to outwit his opponents. And instead of staying with something that works, he'll try to adjust his offense BEFORE his opponent adjusts to what had been working.

It's like trying to counter a chess opponent's move before he's made it. It's not strategically sound.

The Patriots defense also looked much weaker than it's been in earlier stages of the season. With no Wilfork, no Mayo, no Dennard, the Panthers were able to mount some impressive drives. Aqib Talib was criticized a great deal, but his game wasn't as horrible as you might think. Steve Smith caught 4 passes for 62 yards. Talib didn't have his best game, but he wasn't torched either.

Every time the Patriots collapsed the pocket around Cam Newton, it was a bad thing. Give him credit for making sensational plays. But also criticize the Patriots for not being cautious with him. You don't want to collapse pockets around Newton, you want to contain them. He's explosive, and with explosives you want to keep them contained and controlled.

I'm not disheartened or worried by the outcome of this game. This game was winnable. Carolina played better. But the Patriots weren't inferior in terms of talent or ability or effort. Just in execution. If Ridley keeps the ball, if Talib keeps his temper, if the play-calling was better, et cetera. These are all attainable ifs.

So I'm not concerned by this. The Patriots failed a test, but did show they have the capability of passing it.

Speaking of tests, the Broncos come to town Sunday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Mike McCarn

Monday, November 18, 2013

Patriots-Panthers Drinking Game: Monday Night Football Edition

We've been waiting to see the Patriots play for over 2 weeks. So are you ready for some football? And some drinking? The Carolina Panthers have asked their fans to "black out" Bank of America Stadium by wearing black. Play this drinking game and you too might black out. Here are the lubing up procedures for Monday Night Football...

Anytime a commentator says...
"Blacked out" = 1 shot of "black" liquor (examples: Jim Beam Black, Captain Morgan Black)
"Bye week" = 1 drink from a beer
"Test" = 1 drink
"Prove" = 1 drink
"Statement" = 1 drink
"For real" = 1 drink
"Contain" = 1 drink
"This guy" or "here's a guy" = 1 drink
"Peyton Manning" = drink for 18 seconds
"San Francisco" or "49ers" = 1 drink
"Injuries" = 1 drink
"Mayo" = 1 drink
"Wilfork" = 1 drink
"Dennard" = 1 drink
"Talib" = 1 drink
"Boston College" or "BC" = 1 drink
"Length" = 1 drink

Anytime this is on screen...
Panthers fans wearing black = 1 shot of "black" liquor
A replay of Aqib Talib isolated 1-on-1 against a receiver = drink during the entire replay
Bank of America Corporate Center = 1 drink the first time, with a 25% interest rate each time it's shown (so 1.25 drinks the next time, 1.5 after that)
A college basketball player, team, or coach = 1 drink
Highlights from Super Bowl XXXVIII = drink during the entire highlight
Luke Keuchly's BC stats = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
Kuechly's NFL stats = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
An injured Patriot on the sidelines = 1 drink
Tom Brady angry with receivers = 1 drink
Brady happy with receivers = 1 drink
Brady's hand = 1 drink
A graphic featuring the Patriots' young WRs = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
Bill Belichick's sock(s) = drink an entire beer and a shot

Anytime this happens...
You yawn = mix Red Bull with liquor, 1 drink for the first yawn, 2 for the second, and so on
You flip to the Bruins game during a commercial = 1 drink
You think the B's and Pats are playing in the same city = finish beer
Jon Gruden makes himself laugh = 1 drink
Gruden makes a vaguely homoerotic remark about a football player's body, or a part of his body = 1 drink
Gruden compares a player's body or body part(s) to an inanimate object (e.g. a fire hydrant) = 1 drink
Gruden gushes about how large Cam Newton is = drink half a beer
Newton scrambles = 1 drink, then drink the entire time the announcers praise him for it
Gruden gushes about how large Mike Tolbert is = 1 drink
Gruden gushes about how large Rob Gronkowski is = 1 drink, slam can to ground Gronk style, even if it's full
Gronk catches a pass nobody else would catch = 1 drink (bonus points if it is from a Gronk-tini)
Gronk TD = Gronk-spike an unopened can of beer, open immediately, drink as much as possible
Brady yells "Aplha Milk" = 1 White Russian
Brady yells "White 20" = 1 White Russian
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 Mike's Hard Lemonade
Patriots WR runs wrong route = 1 drink
Patriots WR drops pass = 1 drink
Brady misses an open Patriots WR = 1 drink
You worry that Danny Amendola is hurt = 1 drink (max 10, we don't want you to get too blacked out)
Brady throws to a non-Gronkowski tight end = 1 shot of liquor, add half a beer if the TE catches the ball
You fall asleep before the game is over (barring a blowout) = in the morning, drink whatever warm, flat beverages you failed to finish the night before

Get lubed up responsibly.

The Patriots Begin Phase 2 of the Season Tonight

The bye week neatly divided the Patriots' season into two distinct phases. The first 9 games turned out to be against mostly mediocre competition, with a few good teams mixed in. Five of those 9 games were against teams with a winning record. And 3 of those 5 were against teams that are now 5-5. So only 2 games against truly tough opponents.

Phase 2 starts tonight. This is the test phase. This is the time to prove something.

The first phase of the season was about survival. Without Rob Gronkowski, the offense started the season with one hand tied behind its back. Then Danny Amendola got hurt. Then the runningbacks got hurt. Then Tom Brady struggled with accuracy, possibly due to injury.

The first 9 games were about getting everyone healthy and getting the young receivers acclimated to the offense. And also, of course, to accumulate wins.

The Pats achieved their goals in Phase 1 of the season. They won 7 games and built a lead in the division. Gronk is healthy. The young WRs are playing better. Brady looked great against the Steelers in week 9.

Now the stakes are higher. The tests are more difficult. The Pats play back-to-back nationally televised games. One against the 6-3 Panthers, the next at home against the 9-1 Broncos.

The Panthers have the best scoring defense in the League, allowing 12.8 points per game.

The Broncos have the best scoring offense, putting up an absurd 39.8 points per game, 11 points more than the second best Saints at 28.8.

It's safe to say that both the Patriots offense and defense will be put to the test these next two games. The Pats can win these through balance. If Brady and the offense struggle against Carolina's defense, it's up to the Patriots' defense to shutdown Cam Newton and the Panthers. And next week against Denver, it will be up to Brady, Gronk, and the offense to put up points and eat up clock to make things easier for the Pats' defense.

The Patriots have failed in recent postseasons because they could only win one type of game one type of way. This year we've seen them win games with defense, with offense, by running the clock out in the 4th quarter, by coming back in the 4th quarter with big passes, by playing great defense in the 4th quarter. Three of their wins were by 3 points or less. Four were within a touchdown.

If the Patriots can do well against these two types of teams, we'll all feel much more confident about their chances in the playoffs. If they struggle... well, at least they'll have 5 more weeks to improve.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Celtics Get Back on Losing Track Against Charlotte Bobcats

The Celtics have been struggling to stay in the race for the most ping pong balls in the 2014 NBA Draft. So this defeat was a much needed one. The Bobcats, after all, are one of the teams competing with the Celtics for top picks in that Draft. So this wasn't just one loss, it was like two losses. Double bonus time.

Vitor Faverani really stepped up in this game. Coming off the bench he was 2 for 8 from the field, he turned the ball over 3 times. He wasn't perfect though as he also collected 9 rebounds. The Celtics can't afford inconsistency like that.

Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee had poor performances off the bench, each with 10 points. Lee amassed his 10 in only 14 minutes on the court. That's why these guys aren't starting. They're just too good.

And that's why guys like Brandon Bass (7 points, -9 on the floor) and Kelly Olynyk (6 points, 4 turnovers, -11 on the floor) are starters. They know how to lose games. Bass was an absolutely brilliant 2 for 9 from the floor. And don't forget about Avery Bradley who was 3 for 8.

Jeff Green also contributed. Despite his unfortunate 19 points, he missed three free throws and was only 1 for 5 with his three pointers.

The C's host Portland Friday night. This is a favorable matchup for the Celtics as the Trail Blazers are second in the Western Conference. Another good opportunity to add to the loss total.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Pretty Happy Glen Davis Doesn't Play for the Celtics Anymore

It's 4:00 am Saturday morning and Glen Davis needed a motel room. He stopped in a Travelodge in Orlando, but much like Mary and Joseph in the Bible, there was no room at the inn. He could have tried to find a nearby stable and a manger to sleep in. Or he could throw a tantrum, as well as computer keyboard, like a Big Baby. He has proved, once again, that his nickname suits him perfectly.

I'm so glad his infantile attitude no longer plagues the Celtics. People loved him, loved some of the big plays he made, but he was frequently in the dumbest kinds of trouble. Remember in 2010 when he was fined for yelling obscenities at a heckling Pistons fan who called him fat? Remember in 2009 when he fractured his thumb, punching his best friend WHILE THE GUY WAS DRIVING. How dumb can you be? Davis' friend did throw the first punch, but only a moron tries to knock out the driver of the moving car they're sitting in. Davis missed 27 games due to the fracture.

He's not the worst person in the world. He's immature. I'd say foolish is the best word for it. He's a fool. Celtics writers and fans always talked about him maturing and how great he would be when that finally happened. But this incident in Orlando seems to demonstrate that it still hasn't happened.

Terry Francona Beats John Farrell for Manager of the Year

The Manager of the Year award was voted on BEFORE the playoffs. So before you unleash all that the rage, remember that John Farrell was not a World Series winning manager when this award was decided.

You can make the argument for either Francona or Farrell to win this. Both teams improved dramatically from 2012 to 2013. Both teams made the playoffs. Both teams surprised everyone.

This award is frequently bestowed on the manager whose team's success was the biggest surprise.

Which surprise was greater? Farrell and the Red Sox finishing with the best record in baseball? Or the Indians winning 92 games?

Both were pretty surprising. Vegas odds gave the Sox an over/under win total of 82.5 and the Indians 76.5 (source). The Sox were given 30 to 1 odds to win the World Series. Both teams far exceeded expectations.

The Red Sox did suck in 2012, but they also had a payroll twice the size of Cleveland's to help them improve. And star players like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury. Farrell definitely changed the culture in the clubhouse, and was a key part to this team's turnaround.

Farrell did indeed do more than Francona, but he did more with more.

I still would have voted for Farrell. He was a key component to the rapid transition in Boston. The team shed diseased body parts, and Farrell was the healthy managerial organ replacing the gangrenous Bobby Valentine.

It's impossible for me to go back to before the playoffs and say who I would have voted for then. Because I didn't care about Manager of the Year back then.

And neither did you! So why does anyone care so much now?

Who really cares? Francona never won the award here despite winning two World Series. Now Farrell wins the World Series and we're finding something to be pissed off about. I'm sure Farrell would rather have the team ring than the individual trophy. We had a parade for the rings. Cleveland won't do shit for the MOY award.

So stop whining, Red Sox fans. Francona did a fine job in Cleveland, the Indians had a good year, it's hard to argue that Francona doesn't deserve the recognition, so shut up.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Patriots Fans Fantasizing About Ed Reed, As if this Were 2008

The Houston Texans have cut Ed Reed. Reed had been critical of Houston's coaching this past week and the Texans have been a tremendous disappointment in general.

And Patriots fans are really excited about the idea of the 8 time All Pro safety suiting up with the Pats.

But let's remember this is 2013, not 2008, as The Hub's Marc Bertrand pointed out this afternoon on Twitter.

Ed Reed has struggled with injury this season. In Sunday's 27-24 loss to Arizona, he only played 13 of 69 defensive snaps. He has a bad hip, he's not as fast as he used to be. So if you get him you're signing a part-time player.

I still wouldn't mind giving him a shot. Then again if you're going to add him for depth, wouldn't you prefer a guy that can play as many downs as you need and do so effectively?

Reed also has something of a reputation for locker room rebellion. Last year he and Bernard Pollard became disgruntled at the Ravens' practice routines and attempted to "mutiny" against head coach John Harbaugh.

So this isn't a no-brainer. And there is some risk involved for little reward. Of course you can cut him if things don't work out.

If the Pats do sign him, let's not get overly excited about it. And if they don't sign him, let's not get overly upset by it. He's old, he's injured, he has some interesting history. He's not the Ed Reed of 2008.

Other 2008 Pro Bowlers that are available include:
T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Hines Ward
Shawne Merriman
Al Harris
Donald Driver
Torry Holt

Five years ago you'd love to have some of these guys, just like Ed Reed back then. Now all of them are gone. And Ed Reed is close to joining them.

Jenny from Forrest Gump Is a Selfish, Teasing Cunt

I just watched Forrest Gump on ABC Family last night. It's one of my favorite movies and you never get tired of watching it. However, my feelings toward one character have dramatically shifted from sympathy and pity, to hatred and disgust.

Jenny grew up with problems. Her father sexually abused her. She didn't have the same guidance and love that Forrest did growing up. Nevertheless, she spends her entire adult life being selfish. She uses Forrest, teases him, and messes with his emotions. There's no excuse for the absurd levels of selfishness that she reaches.

Look, if she wasn't attracted to Forrest, that's fine. If there's no spark, there's no spark. Just because a guy is nice doesn't mean a girl shouldn't "Friend Zone" him. And if Jenny had just wanted to be pals with Forrest, that would have been fine.

However, when she and Forrest are in college, she lets him feel her boobs. That causes Forrest to have a premature crisis in his pants. This is such a tease. I mean who knows how far things would have gone had Forrest not committed a false start penalty. But Jenny never gives him any action after this. Even if they had hooked up, what would they have done a week later, or a month? Jenny didn't want to be Forrest's girl. She let him feel her up, then that was it.

And when he's over in Vietnam, with every day potentially his last on Earth, she doesn't even send him one bloody letter? Not even an "I'm moving away and don't know where to, so I don't know if we can keep in touch, but I'm thinking about you," letter? How much thought and effort would that have taken?

In fact, the film doesn't show her thinking about Forrest at all. It's only dumb luck that reunites them in Washington, D.C. If she hadn't been there at that time, or if he hadn't gone on that stage, she would have never seen him again, and evidently she would have been fine with that. She made ZERO effort to keep in touch with her friend who was in Viet-fucking-Nam.

If you put a guy in the Friend Zone, that's fine, but then you must be a good friend. That's the 11th Commandment.

Years later, she just shows up at his place. She needs somewhere cozy to crash. After years of doing drugs and sleeping around, she needs to find a man she can use for peace and comfort. That's what motivates her to return to Greenbow, Alabama. Not friendship, not devotion, but the need to relax for a few days.

If Forrest had been going through hard times at that very moment, or didn't have a huge house, she wouldn't have stayed. She uses Forrest for what she wanted at that time.

Forrest asks her to marry him. She declines. Again, I get that. If you don't love him, or if you're afraid of marriage, or if you have self-esteem issues, then fine. She's perfectly right to turn him down. She shouldn't just marry him because he's nice and cares about him. Believe me, I've been the nice-guy who thinks the girl should like him because I was nice. It doesn't work that way. And it shouldn't work that way.

But Jenny does something much much worse than turning him down. She turns him down, fucks him, then leaves the next fucking morning!?! What a mind-fuck that is. I won't marry you, I will tell you I love you, ride your cock and let you cum inside me, and then catch a cab the next morning and leave without any explanation.

What a selfish cunt. She doesn't want to feel bad about rejecting Forrest, so she comes to him that night and sleeps with him. But she still doesn't want to marry him, so she leaves the next day.

I have all the sympathy in the world for the emotions behind Jenny's rejection of Forrest. She's afraid she's not good enough. That's fine. But it is unbelievably selfish to try to alleviate your guilt by telling Forrest that you do in fact love him, then sleep with him, then leave without a note or any sort of explanation.

How does Jenny's mind-fucking not turn Forrest into a mass-murdering psychopath?

Jenny gets pregnant, has Forrest Jr., and still doesn't get in touch with Forrest Sr.! He has a kid and he doesn't even know it. Because it'd be awkward for Jenny to tell him, so she doesn't want to deal with that.

So decline his marriage proposal, tell him you love him, have sex with him, leave, give birth to his child, then don't tell him he has a kid. And don't even tell your kid who his father is.

Jenny's selfishness expands. Not only does she allow her personal fears to keep her from telling big Forrest that he has a son. She also deprives her son of a good father. Which she, of all people, should appreciate the need for. She grew up with an abusive father, and when she has a kid she deprives him of any father whatsoever!

Until she sees Forrest Sr. on TV. And until she's diagnosed with a fatal virus.

She finally settles down and marries Forrest, coincidentally once she realizes that she doesn't have to be afraid of marriage because she will die soon. Marriage has become convenient for her, and that's when she marries Forrest.

Sidenote, as a kid I used to think it was amazing that Lieutenant Dan found a wife. Now I realize that as a gazillionaire, that's not so amazing. Although did he subconsciously fall in love with an Asian woman and hope she finished the job that the Vietnamese started and he could die from enemy inflicted wounds just like the rest of his family?

And why didn't Lt. Dan tell Forrest that he was getting married? Or had new prosthetic legs? He wrote about Apple Computer, but not his marriage or legs?

Back to Jenny...

Jenny lives her life teasing and using Forrest, or ignoring him altogether when he's possibly living his last days on this planet, or messing with his mind after he expresses his feelings, or depriving Forrest Jr. of a loving father, until it becomes convenient for her to once again include him in her life.

Fuck Jenny, I'm glad she's dead.

BC Football One Win Away from Bowl Eligibility

Last year was rock bottom for the team from the heights of Chestnut Hill. The Eagles were 2-10, their only wins came against perennial hockey powerhouse Maine, and soon to be Big Ten piƱata Maryland.

In 2013, the BC Eagles have a new coach, new athletic director, and are one win away from going bowling.

Your lack of excitement over a 5-4 team is understandable. And BC haven't had the toughest schedule to negotiate. They beat Villanova, a I-AA team that's 5-5 in their lower level. They beat Army during the government shutdown, in a game that was in jeopardy of being cancelled. And they recently (and barely) escaped from the clutches of 1-9 New Mexico State.

But it is important progress for the program. BC have turned things around. And the three remaining games on their schedule are all very winnable. They should claim win #6 at some point and earn a bowl bid. And they could finish the year with a decent 8-4 record and 5-3 conference record.

They've also had good, competitive quarters against elite teams like Clemson and Florida State.

And they have a stud player. Andre Williams rushed for a school record 295 yards against New Mexico State. He's up to 1,471 on the season, or 163.4 per game and 6.0 per carry. He's scored 12 touchdowns. And at 6' and 227 pounds he's an absolute beast. He's from Schnecksville, PA and went to the venerable Parkland High School. And BC was able to convince him to come up north and play for the Eagles.

And that's the key to everything: recruiting. BC needs to recruit regionally, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and even in Ohio's prestigious Catholic schools. Matt Ryan went to school in PA. William Green was from New Jersey. Mark Herzlich went to high school in Pennsylvania. Luke Kuechly was from Cincinnati and went to St. Xavier High School. These are the most important players at BC since Doug Flutie and they're from a vast recruiting region.

So BC's success depends on their ability to draw talent from the greater northeast. Along with their ability to keep the relatively small number of talented players produced by New England, in New England. See: L.V. Whitworth, Brian St. Pierre, the Hasselbecks, Derrick Knight.

The important thing is that BC is no longer a pushover in the ACC. They played tougher than expected against Clemson and FSU. And they beat 7-3 Virginia Tech. And two of their final three games are against the bottom two teams in their division.

This is a respectable season from a once sad team.

NHL Suspends Goal Post 3 Games for Injuring Steven Stamkos

The NHL's dean of discipline Brendan Shanahan announced that the post that broke Steven Stamkos' right tibia will be suspended for 3 games.

Shanahan explained that the post made no effort to get out of Stamkos' way. The post didn't seem to seek Stamkos out or lean into the hit, but it didn't withdraw at all. Shanahan also noted that as a high-scoring forward, Stamkos and all posts have a long history of mutual antagonism.

This suspension is the latest chapter in the NHL's quest to make the game of hockey as safe as possible. It's the same motivation that was behind John Scott's 7-game suspension, which will surely cure John Scott and the Buffalo Sabres of dirty play. The NHL hopes to make an example of this post, so that other posts, along with all inanimate rink objects, and perhaps players as well, will be more careful in the future.

More specifically, this punishment is focused to deter other inanimate objects, such as the stanchion that took out Max Pacioretty in 2011, to be more careful. That stanchion, similar to Matt Cooke, wasn't punished. But years later, the NHL obviously seems to be clamping down.

So the warning has been issued by the NHL to all the posts, stanchions, boards, and Zambonis. That their reckless style will no longer be tolerated.

Celtics Fans Wait for Duckboat Parade After Beating Miami, Disappointed and Surprised When No Parade Passes By

Dedicated Green Teamers lined the streets this cold morning, expecting a duckboat parade in honor of their beloved Boston Celtics, who won a regular season game against the mighty Miami Heat. Lifelong Celtics fan Tim Greyson of Somerville remarked "We had a parade when they beat the Lakers. I hate the Lakers. And now I hate the Heat. so why not a parade after beating the Heat now?" Greyson ha set up camp on Causeway Street, with a prime spot staked out to view a parade. He was later heard mumbling about when Halftime Pizza would open so he could "Grab a piss and a slice."

22-year-old Jessica Sanders of Millis, who had positioned herself on Tremont Street after spending the night with "her Suffolk boys," was very vocal about her expectations of a Celtics victory parade after the team's 111-110 victory Saturday night.

"I want to see the C's," she exclaimed, followed by an incoherent series of giggles and suggestive placement of her hand on the interviewer's forearm. "They won and I want to see Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He's so hot." She smiled, yawned, then burped.

Most Boston fans seemed to realize that the Celtics beating the Heat was just one regular season game among dozens. And that in the long run, the best the C's could reasonably hope for was a low playoff seed, and a mid-pack draft pick in 2014, which would continue the cycle of mediocrity the team has been on.

Some have suggested that the best thing for the Celtics to do in 2013-14 was to do poorly, and get a chance at an early pick in the 2014 Draft.

But try explaining that to Mr. Greyson, whose eyes filled with rage, and his lips pursed as he held the fluids in his bladder, when someone suggested that the Celtics winning more than 20 games this year would cripple their chances of long-term improvement.

"The Celtics have a culture of winning," he yelled angrily. "And that culture needs to be maintained. And with Rondo they can go all the way this year anyway so I'm don't even know the big deal has been here," he trailed off. He walked toward the CVS on Canal Street for a 4-pack of Red Bulls, and proceeded to argue with the automatic checkout machines about the sales tax.

And try explaining it to Miss Sanders, who fell asleep on the sidewalk after devouring half a sausage egg McMuffin from the McDonald's on Tremont.

"Can I have your Pringles?" she drearily inquired when awoken by our interviewer.

As the sound of a distant diesel engine echoed between the buildings of Tremont Street, she composed herself, anticipating a duckboat with all her Celtics heroes on board. However, it was merely a J.P. Noonan fuel delivery truck navigating its way through downtown in the early morning cold.

The look on Miss Sanders' face was one of surprise and bewilderment. Yet also of determination. She knew that the Celtics would eventually drive past her on duckboats, because that one win against Miami meant so much.

"I was so happy, all my friends posted on Facebook about it. It doesn't make sense that there wouldn't be a parade," she argued, as she finished the remnants of her sausage egg McMuffin, which had fallen on the damp sidewalk minutes earlier, and which she now cradled in a copy of yesterday's Boston Herald.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bruins Win Third Straight, 3-0 Over Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning sit ahead of the Bruins in the standings of whatever division the Bruins are now in. The Atlantic division, I think. However, the B's have now beaten the Lightning three times.

And that's thanks mostly to Tuukka Rask. He stopped all 28 Tampa Bay shots in this one. He's stopped 84 of 85 shots against the Lightning this year. That's a 0.988 SV%. His most impressive save on Monday was a right-pad stop of what would have been a Steven Stamkos goal.

Stamkos would leave the game with a broken right tibia suffered while charging the net and striking the post. He's one of the premier players in the League, his stardom somewhat wasted in a hockey apathetic market, so hopefully he comes back soon and comes back well.

The Lightning might have been able to steal this game with a couple of power play goals. Thankfully the Bruins' penalty-kill is as good as ever. The B's killed 4 Lightning power plays, and have gone 6 straight games without allowing a power play goal. They've amassed 22 consecutive kills.

Bergeron has been scoring this year and scored a goal in this game goal in this game, defensemen have been contributing on offense (Krug and Bartkowski with assists), and the newcomers are doing well. Jarome Iginla scored his 4th, and now has 11 points. And Loui Eriksson doesn't seem to be suffering any adverse effects from the concussion.

So a good win for the Bruins, a good divisional win against a quality opponent. The Bruins are 8-1-0 within their division. And that's very good.

The Bruins host Columbus on Thursday.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning Era Is Nearing an End

I'm not saying the Brady-Manning era is over. It clearly is not since the two future Hall of Famers have the second and third best records in the AFC. Nor am I suggesting that Brady and Manning are the only elite QBs in the League. But for over a decade they have been at the center of AFC football, winning 4 Championships, representing the AFC in 7 Super Bowls, and claiming 6 MVP awards.

But Manning is 37. Brady's 36. How much longer can these guys continue to be so prominent in the game?

On Sunday Manning was limping on an apparently injured ankle. Brady's been denying that he has an injured throwing hand, but it appears to be swollen. How much longer can these guys endure the brutality of the game? How many more years can they play 16 games in 17 weeks, then play in even tougher postseason games? How much longer can they play at the highest level?

Manning's been sacked 265 times in his career. Brady 329. That doesn't include all the hits after they've released the ball, all the times they've been blocked hard during an interception or fumble return.

How many more throws do their arms have? How many more scrambles do their legs have? How many more progressions do their eyes have? How many more audibles do their minds have?

Manning is having an excellent year in Denver. Brady's 2013 season hasn't been nearly as impressive, but the team is 7-2 and there have been glimpses of greatness. Last week's win over Pittsburgh was vintage Brady. And his game-winning TD pass against the Saints was sheer brilliance.

If the season ended today, the Patriots and Broncos would be the 2 and 3 seeds in the AFC playoffs, respectively. The Broncos have the 2nd best record in the Conference and the Patriots the 3rd best. Peyton is putting up absurd numbers out in Denver. Brady has struggled, but once again has the support of a strong defense, which makes the Patriots a dangerous team in the playoffs.

The Broncos face the Pats on November 24th in Foxborough.

So enjoy this rivalry while it lasts. This might be one of the final years that both these guys can play at the top of their game, competing for Super Bowls and MVPs.

Bruins Crack the Maple Leafs

NESN's Dale Arnold described Saturday night's meeting between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs as "Game 8" of the series that ended last spring in dramatic fashion. Gloriously dramatic for the Bruins, and painfully dramatic for the Leafs.

In many ways, this was indeed a continuation of the series between these teams. That's what makes these rivalries so interesting. There's history. There are good and bad memories, grudges, a hopeless desire for revenge, a greedy desire to continue to beat your opponent.

I must admit that until this game, I hadn't been very interested in Bruins hockey. You go from the Stanley Cup Finals to regular season game #1 of 82. You also have a Red Sox playoff run drawing all attention to it. It took an Original 6 rivalry to ignite my interest in the 2013-14 Bruins.

Because I hate the Leafs. I hate Phil Kessel. I hate van Riemsdyk and I don't know why and that makes me hate him more. I hate Toronto fans. And I hate their city and their crack smoking mayor.

So I was very pleased to see the Bruins score a pair of power play goals. Which is not common for them to do. I was thrilled to see Patrice Bergeron score yet another game-winning goal against Toronto. I was happy to see Loui Eriksson get back into his groove. And I was ecstatic to see Jarome Iginla playing physical, Bruins style hockey. I think it suits him. He's winning me over.

And now I'm hooked. For the next 5-7 months. It's hockey season.

Bruins host the Lightning Monday afternoon, another rematch of a memorable playoff series.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Thursday, November 07, 2013

You People Need to Get Over the Tim Thomas White House Thing

The Florida Panthers are in town tonight to play the Bruins. That means Tim Thomas... will likely be inactive due to lower body issues. The former Bruins goalie, who won two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe in Boston, won't be between the pipes. He made the trip but we'll see if he even dresses.

Look, I think criticizing Thomas for the way he de-activated himself is a legit criticism. And I can even understand blaming his on-ice performance for the team's struggles in 2011-12. Those are rational. They make logical sense. In my opinion I think what he did for this team overshadows that lackluster 2011-12 season. And I think the way he exited the team shouldn't dictate how we view his entire Bruins tenure. You may not like how he left, but you have to appreciate what he did while he was here.

However, when you continue to criticize him for not going to the White House, you're venturing away from logic. You need to get over that. It was years ago. He made a political statement. Who cares? People make political statements all the time and we ignore them.

The people who criticize Thomas then go on lectures about him being "selfish" and creating a distraction for his team. Several more logical leaps and bounds later and suddenly Thomas' absence at the White House is responsible for the team's struggles that season. Media people, like Tom Caron on WEEI today, blame Thomas for forcing his teammates to answer questions about the event. Then they blame that distraction for the team's difficulties.

There is nothing more outrageous to a member of the media than refusing to answer their questions. It appalls them. And media people will invariably find a way to turn your lack of cooperation with them into something with a broader impact. In this case, Thomas didn't talk to the press about the White House, so that forced his teammates to talk (because I'm sure the media would not have asked them questions had Thomas talked), and that distracted a team of grown men from playing hockey at 100%. Thomas' selfishness was the reason that a Championship winning team wilted in the First Round a year later.

Thomas was the reason Bergeron and Lucic failed to score in that playoff series. Thomas is the reason Krejci and Marchand only scored one goal apiece. Rich Peverly was somehow immune because he scored 3 goals. Maybe Pevs was a member of the Tea Party.

I will blame Thomas' on-ice performance for the team's struggles in that series and that year. That's a fair complaint. He was not the same goalie in 2011-12 as he was in 2010-11. He looked kind of like he looks this season. Slower. Clunky. Borderline clumsy. Thomas could only manage to play in 59 games that year. And in 2011 he only played 57 regular season games. Then 25 playoff games. He was worn out.

I'm tired of the White House non-visit being blown out of proportion. I'm tired of media people getting sanctimonious whenever an athlete dare refuse them an interview. I'm tired of Thomas doing something off the ice being blamed for a team's struggles on the ice.

Tim Thomas was a great goalie. He was a weirdo. He left town in a selfish way. And once he didn't want to go to the White House. The end. Get over it.

The Best Thursday Night Lineup in College Football History?

Tonight four Top 10 BCS teams will play in a pair of games with massive National Championship implications. Have four Top 10 BCS teams ever played each other on a Thursday night before? I don't no, nor do I care.

At 7:30pm Eastern on Fox Sports 1, undefeated Baylor hosts 7-1 Oklahoma. The Bears are ranked 6th in the BCS and in order to keep any National Championship hopes alive, they must win out. They're also in a tight conference battle in the Big 12. Oklahoma is also involved in that fight with a 4-1 conference record. The #10 Sooners must beat Baylor then hope Texas (5-0 in the Big 12) lose in the conference.

At 9:00pm on ESPN, #5 Stanford hosts #3 Oregon. The Cardinal are Oregon's biggest roadblock to an undefeated season and possible National Championship berth. Stanford have the 19th best scoring defense, allowing less than 20 points per game. The Ducks have the 2nd best offense in the country, averaging 55.6 points per game. Tonight will be the hardest test for both units.

Every year, the Ducks find a way to lose a pivotal game. They lost to Stanford 17-14 in overtime last season, LSU and USC in 2011, the BCS title game in 2010, Boise State and Stanford in '09, Boise State, Stanford, and Cal in 2008, and so on. They're 64-10 since '08, but with 0 National titles, and only 2 BCS bowl wins.

The Ducks don't finish.

I think Oregon loses a close game, probably due to some special teams mistake. And Oklahoma upends Baylor in a not-so-close game. Then huge sighs of relief will rise up from Tuscaloosa, Tallahassee, and Columbus.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes on Conan

Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes appeared on Conan last night. I have to say that Gomes has the crazy eyes. And Victorino's shiftiness and nervous energy kind of scares me at times.

They talked with Conan about beard-pulling, chemistry of the team, Jake Peavy buying a duckboat, Shane Victorino's high pain threshold...

Then they talked about how much the City of Boston meant to the success of the Red Sox this year.

Artie Lange was the next guest and he talked about his hatred of Alex Rodriguez. He also talked about his recovery from drug addiction, although he did so in a funny way.

Finally, just for laughs, here's a classic Conan clip of him playing in an olde tyme base-ball game.

Is it weird that I'm really turned on by how shy and demure one of the women is?

Friday, November 01, 2013

People to Thank for the Red Sox World Series

Time to go to Hallmark and get some thank-you cards for a lot of people who made this World Series Championship possible. Here are the people who you should send your cards to...

1. The Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers took all of the Red Sox' baggage. The Sox had a bad kidney (Gonzalez), infected tonsils (Crawford), and an appendix about to burst (Beckett), and the Dodgers accepted all of them. Then the Dodgers paid for most of the surgery. The Dodgers deserve their own duckboat in Saturday's parade for taking all of this payroll and malignant personality off of the Red Sox roster.

2. The Red Sox owners
The owners did the best thing that owners can do: delegate. Bob Kraft didn't become a good owner until he eased up and delegated. The Red Sox owners were good when they let Theo Epstein do his job, then they became overbearing, they then pulled back in response to the failures of the 2012 season. The best thing the Red Sox owners did in 2013 was what they didn't do.

3. Koji Uehara
Where would this team be if Uehara didn't emerge as one of the best closers in the game? Bailey and Hanrahan got hurt. Uehara filled a role that had been vacant since Papelbon was allowed to leave. And Uehara filled that role's brains out.

4. Ben Cherington
The Red Sox GM didn't go nuts, he didn't try to sign any "wow" free agents. He acquired guys who were hungry to win. Savvy ballplayers who knew how to do the little things. He didn't care that Stephen Drew was related to J.D. Drew. He signed Mike Napoli, who was starving for a ring. He made many small moves that combined to make a big difference.

The timing was right as there really weren't many big name free agents on the market anyway.

5. John Lackey
This guy pitched his ass off. He got no run support all season long. We all hated him. Many wanted him to be traded. He's a 35-year-old recovering from surgery, he pitched 189.1 innings in the regular season then 26 more in the postseason (including 1 in relief). And he still argued with Farrell to get just one more out in Game 6. He went from slacker to gamer. Lackey's hunger in 2013 (for doing well, not for beer and chicken) was a key part to the hunger this team had.

And again, give thanks to the Dodgers for not wanting to take this guy from us.

6. John Farrell
His in-game decisions weren't always correct. But trading for John Farrell was an important part to this team's success. He didn't try to discipline the players, he tried to make them more self-disciplined. He got the pitching staff to refocus, and he brought with him an attitude geared toward winning. Most importantly, he didn't put his own ego ahead of anything. If he made a mistake, he learned from it and made different moves. Pride is not one of John Farrell's faults.

7. J.J. Hardy, Jason Kipnis, Jose Bautista
I can't say I remember the All-Star Game. But these three guys all knocked in runs for the AL team. And that's why the Sox had homefield advantage in the World Series. Thanks, guys!

8. Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury, all the rest of the players
The players who were here in 2011 and 2012 became reinvigorated. And the guys who weren't here brought a fresh energy. All the players, from Pedroia to Lester to Victorino to Bogaerts to Workman to Tazawa. They all gave 100%. Which you sadly could not say about the 2011 or 2012 Sox.

8. The Fans
Yes you. Your outrage over this team's failure in 2012 caused so much to change. In 2011, we weren't as angry as we should have been. And the owners thought they could use Francona as a scapegoat and we'd be happy with his dismissal. We were complacent for a time, until the team failed again in 2012. And the horrible managing of Bobby Valentine became evident.

We as fans actually accepted Bobby V. That's kind of sad. He was shit. Once the fans demanded that he be banished, along with all the other cancerous players and contracts, that's when things turned around. We threatened a revolution in Red Sox Nation and the front office responded.

So pat yourself on the back for being pissed about the 2012 season, then also ask yourself why you didn't start that season with the same skepticism.

Hopefully in 2014 Ben Cherington can continue to do his job, and the front office won't inflate attendance figures. Marketing people can market the team, and baseball people can assemble it, and baseball players can play baseball.