Sunday, November 15, 2015

Patriots-Giants drinking game: painful memories edition

One streak will end Sunday. Either the Patriots' 11-game winning streak, or Giants' 3-game winning streak against the Patriots.

Throughout the week, few people seemed to actually talk about this game in 2015, instead focusing on games played 4 and 8 years ago, by almost completely different sets of players. For the Patriots, this is a tough road game against a good opponent. And they probably won't make nervous mistakes like so many Pats' opponents have this season. Then again, a 5-4 record in the NFL this year isn't very impressive. Being slightly above average in an incredibly below average league is like repeating the 4th grade and then getting a B-. Who cares?

Speaking of who cares, who cares about my game analysis? Let's get to the drinking game!

The rules...

Anytime a commentator says:
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink of beer
"New York" = 1 drink
"Manning" = 1 drink
"Tom" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Coughlin" = 1 drink
"Malcolm" = 1 drink
"Chandler" = 1 drink
"Tyree" = 1 drink
"Manningham" = 1 drink (plus the 1 drink for saying "Manning")
"Streak" = 1 drink
"Undefeated" = 1 drink
"18 and 1" = drink beer for 18 seconds, then drink 1 shot of liquor
"Pierre-Paul" = 1 drink
"Fireworks" = 1 drink


Anytime this is happens:
DraftKings or FanDuel commercial = 1 drink (not allowed to do so in New York)
Odell Beckham Jr. catches something with both hands = 1 drink
DeflateGate is mentioned = 1 drink
Shane Vereen catch or carry = 1 drink
Brandon Meriweather dirty play = 1 drink
Tom Brady takes longer than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball = 1 drink
Julian Edelman seems to get concussed = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski breaks a tackle = 1 drink
Gronk scores a touchdown = finish your beer, spike the can/bottle (bonus points for spiking glass)
LeGarrette Blount breaks a 10+ yard run = 1 drink
Jamie Collins does something freakishly athletic = 1 drink
Chandler Jones records a sack = 1 drink
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff or punt return = drink for the duration of the return
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink


Anytime this is on screen:
Fall foliage = 1 drink, bonus points if it's pumpkin flavored
DraftKings logo = 1 drink
Highlights of a Super Bowl = drink for the duration of the highlight, then throw up if it was against the Giants
Roman numerals = 1 drink per set of numerals
Highlights of a Giants receiver making a ridiculous catch = drink entire beer, take a shot, snort a line of oxy
Clip of a former Patriots receiver named Wes dropping a catch = finish your beer, pop a Molly, and sign with the Rams
Bill Belichick as a NY Giants coach = drink a giant sized beer, like those Fosters beers
60 Minutes promo = 1 drink per clock tick
Jason Pierre-Paul's bandaged hand = 1 drink
Graphic about Pats' O-line injuries = 1 drink per injured player mentioned
A sign about DeflateGate = 1 drink
The New York skyline = 1 drink
The disgusting wastelands of north New Jersey = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink while he's talking

So enjoy the Pats-Giants game, get lubed up, and please don't play this drinking game because you'll probably die.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Clay Buchholz re-injures elbow celebrating $13 million option

You thought that was a real headline, right? That's how fragile Clay Buchholz is. And the Red Sox have picked up his option for 2016, worth $13 million. Buchholz, when healthy, is incredibly streaky. He can rip off 8 to 10 Ace-like starts, then suck for weeks. From season to season, month to month, start to start, you have no idea which Clay Buchholz will show up. Here is the roller coaster ride of his ERAs for the past 5 seasons: 3.48, 4.56, 1.74, 5.34, 3.26. He's never had consecutive seasons with ERAs within 1 run of each other.

The one thing you can rely on with Clay is that he'll get injured. He's 31 and he's only started 20+ games in 3 seasons. He's never started 30.

The argument for exercising the option is that $13 million isn't a ton of money, and it's only one year. And as I said, Buchholz when healthy is capable of brilliance. So why not? Minimal risk, potential for high reward.

But $13 million is too much for unreliability. I love low risk/high reward ventures. Not when the guy is as inconsistent as Buchholz, and ALSO as injury prone. The injury isn't even a risk, it's essentially a sure thing.

Another reason to not want Buchholz is that due to he unreliability, you're going to have to make sure you have 6 potential starters available. Either that or try to acquire one in June or July when his arm breaks down. And good luck finding a replacement for him if he falls apart in September. By keeping Buchholz, it forces you to also get some form of insurance.

It comes down to this: If he were a free agent, would you want to spend $13 million on him? I wouldn't.

Even as a back of the rotation guy, he's too unreliable. I'd rather have a mediocre innings eater that I could depend on to keep the team in games and preserve the bullpen. Give me 28 starts and 160 innings of decent pitching. With Buchholz it's 10 to 29 starts, and 100-200 innings, some great, some awful.

In 4 of Buchholz's 18 starts last season, he failed to go 5 innings. It was 6 times in 2014. About every 5 starts he'll drop a turd on the mound and you'll have difficulty clawing back to get into the game. Not to mention tax your bullpen in the process.

The only acceptable role for Buchholz is at the back of a rotation that's so strong up front that it doesn't really matter what you have as a 4 or 5 starter. In which case, $13 million is too much to spend on a guy whose role doesn't matter. And it's too much to spend on a guy whose only predictable attribute is that he will get hurt at some point and force you to find someone else to start for him.

DraftKings and FanDuel players should consider suing the Colts for falsifying injury reports

I don't think stretching the truth on an injury report is a big deal. Unless you're the Colts. Unless you're the team that measured an opposing team's footballs without realizing that air pressure is affected by temperature and humidity. Unless you're the team that leaked the story to your mouthpiece Bob Kravitz hours after you got the tar beat out of you (mostly in the half of the game played with "legal" footballs).

It's sort of like arguing with someone online, and correcting their grammar or spelling. Once you do that you'd better make sure you use the right your/you're, it's/its, and then/than. And if you don't, every little mistake of yours is fair game.

Once you open that door of publicly tattling on another team for possibly breaking a rule, you'd better make sure you follow the rules to the letter. All the rules. Each and every stipulation in the book. Such as fully disclosing the nature of your most important player's injuries. As the NFL says "This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game."

Integrity. The Colts violated a rule that is of "paramount importance" to the game's "integrity."

And it's not just the integrity of football games being jeopardized by the Colts' deception. With the explosion of daily fantasy sports on sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel, where millions of dollars change hands every week, the accuracy of injury information is now similar to the accuracy of publicly owned corporations issuing earnings reports. Huge amounts of money is at stake. And publishing false injury information is like a company failing to report a loss.

How many people added Andrew Luck to their teams in the past few weeks, under the pretense that he had recovered from an arm injury but was otherwise healthy? What about TY Hilton or Donte Moncrief? How would knowledge of his rib injury have affected people's strategies? And might Draft Kings and Fan Duel have possibly modified their salary cap number for Luck if they'd known the truth?

And who had inside information about the true nature of Luck's injuries? Did any of them have Draft Kings or Fan Duel accounts? Do their friends or relatives?

In this absurdly litigious society, the Colts have opened themselves up to huge legal action. And if you picked Luck for your fantasy team, or might have picked him at a lower price, then you should call your lawyer and file suit.Take it all the way to the 2nd Circuit if you have to.

The rules are the rules, Colts. You're the ones who made a big public deal about the rules a few months ago. Which was especially pathetic since the crux of the story was that the "illegal" footballs were removed from the game, which is also when you started getting stomped on.

You couldn't beat the Patriots on the field, so you decided to beat them with the rule book. And now we see that you suck at that too. Almost as badly as you suck on the field.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why is Tuukka Rask starting tonight?

You can't say anything negative about Rask without qualifying your remarks, or risk the scorn of his many defenders. And I don't know why. His play has been shabby and lazy this season. In his career he's never come up big in a playoff series when the Bruins have needed him to. His play was one of the primary reasons the Bruins lost a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in 2010. And the best thing to happen to the 2010-11 Bruins was Rask losing the starting job to Thomas.

Yet any legitimate criticism of his play is often met with excuses and my favorite "He's not the reason they lost." (even though his job is to be a reason the team wins, not to just not be a reason they lose)

But let's limit our scrutiny of sacred cow Tuukka Rask to October of 2015. And let's also not talk about his play as a percentage of the blame pie for the Bruins' struggles. It doesn't matter if he's only 10% responsible for the B's losses, or 5% or less than 1%. His quality of play is what matters, and it's below the standards of an NHL goalie, let alone one of the allegedly better goalies in the League.

He's been lackadaisical, imprecise, passive. He cuts off angles incorrectly, he handles the puck awkwardly, and his form has been allowing pucks to leak through. He's done the bare minimum of his job. He's not the cause of the Bruins' losing, but he's not doing much to cause them to win.

So why is he in net tonight instead of Jonas Gustavsson? J-Goose hasn't been amazing, but he is trying. Unlike Rask, who seems to be trying to be benched or traded. Don't the Bruins want to reward effort and punish apathy? Jonas Gustavsson has been playing the best that Jonas Gustavsson has been playing. Rask is playing nowhere near the best that he can play.

The Bruins have 3 wins this season, 2 of those were with Gustavsson in net. I'm not saying the B's should trade Rask, or permanently put Gustavsson ahead of Rask on the depth chart. But Rask shouldn't be starting right now. Send Rask a message and play the goalie who is giving you 100% and winning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I want the Cubs to lose tonight so I can stop rooting for the Mets

I don't like the Cubs. I don't like the general attitude that seems to define the essence of being a Cubs fan: Be happy to lose. It's not that they don't want to see their team win, it just isn't a priority to them. Or at best, it has no impact on their mood. There are more important things than winning: beer, summer afternoon sunshine, and having a good time at Wrigley is what matters most. If Cubs fans were told that moving out of Wrigley into a modern ballpark with luxury boxes would increase their chances of winning a World Series, I doubt they'd want to do it.

You know the phrase "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing?" Cubs fans are satisfied with just the first part.

I like Theo Epstein. I like Jon Lester. I outright hate Joe Maddon, and that hatred outweighs any positive feelings I have for Epstein or Lester. Maddon is obnoxious. His teams are obnoxious. If he wins a World Series, the obnoxiousness will only increase exponentially.

The Cubs are not kindred to the pre-2004 Red Sox. Even the nature of the team's two Curses are different. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth and a number of other great players to the Yankees, and the Sox paid their penance for those sins for nearly 9 decades. The Cubs pissed off a guy with a goat, and then they weren't good for a century. Great story.

Cubs fans aren't frustrated or cranky or sarcastic enough to compare to the fellowship of the miserable that were Red Sox fans before 2004. Red Sox fans were tortured. Red Sox fans cared. Cubs fans do not.

Look at Red Sox fans' reaction to the waves of Pink Hat that infiltrated Fenway after 2004. The Pink Hats didn't care if the Sox won or who was on the team and what role they played, they just wanted to go to Fenway and take a selfie of themselves eating a hot dog. #WallyWave

All Cubs fans are Pink Hats! Their priorities are the exact same. Fuck that.

I don't want that content with failure Chicago fanbase to be rewarded with a World Series. I don't want Joe Maddon's already gargantuan ego to be augmented by a World Series ring on his finger. I don't want to hear about goats or Back to the Future II anymore. So let's go Mets.

And please, Mets, finish it tonight so I can stop hating myself for rooting for a New York team.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Patriots don't get revenge, but get a W and a few LOLs

It wasn't the embarrassing blowout that many Patriots fans had been hoping for and many sports pundits had predicted. But there's still embarrassment. There's still Tom Brady being amazing. There's still a Patriots win over the Colts.

You were never going to get "revenge" in this game, Pats fans. But the chance to reassert your superiority over the Colts while simultaneously laughing at their buffoonery carries with it a certain satisfaction.

The Patriots didn't let the hype around this game affect them. They played with focus and concentration. They made adjustments. They were patient. The Colts, on the other hand, played with too much urgency. They tried too hard to write the script of the game instead of just letting it happen. The fake punt Snapfu (term coined by Grantland's Bill Barnwell) was a perfect example of the Colts trying to force the game to play out a certain way. Just punt. Or fake.

Seriously, Pagano, you're going to go after the Patriots by trying to out-coach them? That was the "weakness" you attacked?

The Colts were able to keep this game close thanks to plays like Julian "Nine Fingers" Edelman bobbling a pass, giving Mike Adams an easy pick 6. Indy had a strong first drive as well, but even that series was a fraction of an inch away from ending with 0 points. It was a 21-20 Indy lead going into halftime, but at no point did the Colts have a firm grip on the game.

The Pats benefited from what was probably a bad call on an Indy onside kick. That was luck. What makes the good teams great is capitalizing on lucky bounces and calls. The Pats did that a few plays later when LeGarrette Blount ran for a 38-yard TD.

Danny Amendola had a big game, which was pivotal with Julian Edelman's bent pinkie finger. Edelman and Jamie Collins made the most athletic plays of the game, Edelman twisting inside defenders on a 4th down run, Collins leaping over a long-snapper to block a PAT.

And Tom Brady was Tom Brady. That interception that wasn't his fault was his first of the season. He was mobile inside the pocket, giving himself time to make plays. What continues to impress me the most about Brady is his inhuman ability to not be distracted by all the noise and the things that would affect normal human beings like us.

So the Indy game is over. And we're on to New York and the Jets. And it's for first place in the division. That's not a typo.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Patriots - Colts drinking game: DeflateGate Revenge Edition

It's time for revenge. Because somehow beating the Colts by 50+ points will make up for the months of misinformed "11 of 12 footballs being 2+ PSI under" bogus stories that the NFL leaked (what former Jets employees leaked, so the Day of Vengeance should be next Sunday when the Jets come to Gillette). Will beating the Colts by 7 touchdowns put all the BS back into the mouths of morons like Michael Felger? Will a thorough and complete beatdown of the Colts atone for the lack of fact-checking by ESPN and the rest of the sports media, and the subsequent lack of apology for being completely wrong, and allowing themselves to be used as the propaganda arm of the NFL?

No.

This game isn't about revenge. It's about winning, and winning against a team you have comprehensively dominated for years. And if it's a win by 1 point, I think that'd be so much better than winning by 50. It would be more heart-breaking, more of a tease. Furthermore, it would also trick the Colts into thinking that they're close to the Patriots, just a few minor adjustments away from being contenders. That kind of false hope is priceless, and would be a true revenge. Let them think they're close so they don't fire their horrible GM or their foolish head coach, and don't tell Andrew Luck to stop turning the ball over. So while part of me wants this to be a 50+ point slaughter, part of me also wants this to be a closely fought struggle. Just to fool the Colts that they're in the Patriots' league. False hope is true torture.

Anyway, here's a drinking game you can play during the football game. Please make sure you do two things before playing this: #1. call out of work on Monday because you'll be quite incapacitated. #2. Put your last will and testament in order, because it will be needed.

The rules of the game (which must be strictly adhered to, or players will be suspended for 4 weeks, and there will be a loss of draught picks, which means you won't be able to pick which beer you drink)...

Anytime a commentator says...
"Deflate" or any form of the word - take 1 drink of beer
A word that ends with "-Gate" - take 1 drink of beer
Something about DeflateGate without saying "deflate" - drink for 12.5 seconds
"Air" = 1 drink
"Pressure" = 1 drink
"Goodell" = 1 drink
"Indianapolis" = 1 drink
"AFC" = 1 drink
"Championship" = 1 drink
"Revenge" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Gronk" = 1 drink
"Luck" = 1 drink
A stupid pun and/or play on words involving the word "luck" (e.g. "luck of the draw," if the Colts run a QB draw) = 1 shot of hard liquor
"Al" = 1 drink
"C(h)ris" = 1 drink
"Bob" = 1 drink
"Michele" = 1 drink
"D'Qwell" = 1 drink, 1 shot of Nyquil


Anytime this happens...
The Patriots score = drink for as many seconds as the Patriots have points (you must also drink after PATs)
A DraftKings or FanDuel commercial = take 1 drink
Air pressure is mentioned = drink 11 of 12 ounces of beer
A penalty = 1 drink
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink, bonus points for drinking from Mike's Hard Lemonade
Brady says all or part of "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink, bonus points for drinking a White Russian
Brady holds the ball for longer than 2 seconds = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski throws somebody out of the club = finish your beer
Gronk scores = 1 drink
Gronk spikes = finish your beer, then spike the container (bonus points for spiking glass bottles/mugs)
Jamie Collins makes a big play = 1 drink
Julian Edelman makes a guy miss = 1 drink
Dion Lewis makes a guy miss = 1 drink
The Patriots run for 5+ yards = 1 drink
Kick or punt return = drink during entire return
Touchback = 1 drink
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Andrew Luck turnover = 1 whole beer


Anytime this is on screen...
A banner =  1 drink per banner (this will be a lot of drinking)
The number 12 (on jerseys, scoreboards, clocks, graphics, etc.) = 1 drink
Highlights from previous Pats/Colts games = 1 shot of liquor
Peyton Manning = drink for 18 seconds
Rodney Harrison = drink for 37 seconds
Ty Law = drink for 24 seconds
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
Jim Irsay = 1 drink (please don't drive)
A shot of footballs and/or ball boys = 1 shot
Ernie Adams = drink a bottle of wine by the time the game ends

So enjoy the game, get lubed up responsibly, don't drink and drive, don't complain about air pressure unless you understand the basic laws of physics.

Friday, September 25, 2015

SVP vs DFS: Scott Van Pelt takes on daily fantasy instead of stupid gambling laws

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt wants daily fantasy sports to drop the "charade" that it isn't gambling. You can watch his short monologue on the subject here. Before I discuss the material of his argument, I want to applaud him for having the balls to make it. DraftKings and ESPN have a huge partnership deal, and daily fantasy sports has become a massive source of advertising revenue. I'll also compliment SVP on the pace and structure of his argument. It's very well put together.

And I don't disagree with his premises, just the conclusion, and just the fact that he makes the argument at all. The easy way to describe daily fantasy is to say it's gambling. So he's right. Personally, I'd argue that it's gambling and a skill game. I'd also argue that poker, sports betting, and horse betting are also skill games, but most people treat those as gambling. The skill involved is to capitalize on other players who don't know what they're doing as well as you.

So daily fantasy shouldn't be much different. So why can't they just admit that it's gambling? Drop the charade, right Scott?

Because in this country we have stupid and nonsensical gambling laws that force you to avoid the G-word at all costs. We also have pious institutions like the NCAA that despise the stigma of gambling while they simultaneously benefit from it. Instead of going after daily fantasy's charade, SVP should ask why the charade is necessary at all.

In Massachusetts, gambling is illegal. Unless it's through the state run lottery, or at a casino sanctioned by the state. As long as the State House gets a piece of the action, they're fine with gambling. Otherwise, it's against the law. The government might as well say "Gambling is wrong, unless we do it."

The NCAA recently announced that student-athletes who play daily fantasy will lose a year of eligibility. But when March Madness comes around and people fill out brackets with NCAA logos on them, I don't hear much preaching from the NCAA about the evils of gambling. After all, those brackets are used strictly for fun, and not gambling, right?

I used to play $5 games of online poker until Congress made it next to impossible to deposit or withdraw money from online poker sites. This caused the reputable sites to stop doing business with US players altogether. One of the major laws that began this crushing of online poker in America (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA) specifically stated that fantasy sports was not considered gambling. Fantasy sports was a game of skill. This is the law that allowed daily fantasy to one day grow into what it is today.

So I can buy $100 worth of scratch tickets, or play in a $200 million multi-state lottery, or go down to Plainridge Park and sit in front of a slot machine for 16 hours, and it's all legal, because the government has a stake in those games. I can also pick a fantasy football team for Sunday's games and risk $20 to potentially win $1,000,000, or risk $1 in hopes of winning $20, and it's legal. Because the law says it's not gambling. If it were gambling, it would be illegal.

So why the hell would DraftKings or FanDuel call themselves gambling sites if the reason they are legal and allowed to do business is because the law says they're not gambling sites? That's like demanding that CVS and Walgreen's call themselves drug dealers and not pharmacies.

Maybe, Mr. Van Pelt, you should go after the rampant hypocrisy found in this country's gambling laws. Maybe you should point out that sports betting is and has always been a huge ratings booster for the NCAA, NFL, and all other sports that ESPN covers, even while those leagues publicly condemn such activities. Maybe you should ask why Americans love to gamble, but America has a stigma against gambling?

But no, it's easier to go after the people who bombard you with commercials. It's easier to go after the "charade" they're trying to pull off, instead of digging deeper and asking why they need the charade at all.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Patriots-Steelers drinking game: Super Bowl banner and NFL kickoff edition

It's here! Actual football returns! Finally when we see "Patriots vs." or "Tom Brady vs." it won't be describing a court case. Instead of cross examinations, it's now time for crossing routes. Instead of filing motions, we'll have receivers in motion.


Here's a drinking game to play while enjoying the Patriots begin their title defense against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Enjoy the game, do your job, and get lubed up responsibly (which means you should not, under any circumstances, actually play this game)...


Anytime a commentator says...
"Champions" = take 1 drink of beer, and let out a satisfied sigh
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink
"Banner" = 1 drink
"Ring(s)" = 1 drink
"4-time" = 4 drinks
"Do your job" = finish your beer
"Brady" = drink for 12 seconds
"Butler" = drink for 21 seconds
Any form of the word "win" or "winner" = 1 drink
"ESPN" or "Chris Mortensen" = drink 11 of 12 beers in a 12-pack
"Air pressure" or "PSI" = drink for 12.5 seconds
Anything about court cases = drink loudly enough to drown them out
Any word ending in "-gate" = 1 drink
"Suspended" = 1 drink, bonus points for smoking a blunt if they mention LeGarrette Blount
"Season" = 1 drink
"We're on to..." = 1 shot of liquor


Anytime this happens...
Touchback = 1 drink
Kick or punt return = drink for the duration of the return
Gronkowski scores a TD = finish your beer, spike the can/bottle (bonus points for spiking glass bottles)
Brady throws to someone besides Edelman or Gronk = 1 drink
They actually catch the ball = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
Brady says "Alpha milk" = 1 drink, bonus points if you're drinking a White Russian
Brady points out the "Mike" = 1 drink, bonus points if you're drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade (only if you're a girl, deduct points if you're a guy)
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Jerod Mayo makes a big play = 1 drink, 1 shot of mayonnaise
The Patriots give up a 10+ yard pass play in soft zone coverage = 1 drink
You think Roethlisberger will be sacked but he escapes = 1 drink
You miss Vince Wilfork = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat a turkey leg


Anytime this is on screen...
Roger Goodell at Gillette Stadium = HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
A shot of footballs and/or ball boys = 1 shot of liquor
Highlights of Super Bowl 49 = finish your beer
Highlights of another Super Bowl (including Pittsburgh's SBs) = drink an entire beer
A Lombardi Trophy = 1 drink per trophy
A Super Bowl ring = 1 drink per ring
A banner = 1 drink per banner
A sign about Brady and/or Goodell = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
Ernie Adams = drink a bottle of wine by the end of the game
The number 12 (including scoreboard and graphics) = 1 drink
A graphic of playoff/championship stats (for the Pats or Steelers) = 1 drink


Bonus drinking game rule:
Every time Tom Brady takes the field, remember that Roger Goodell and the NFL wanted him banned for this game as well as the next three. So raise your drink, say a toast to Tom, and a big "Fuck you" to Goodell.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Tom Brady freed, Judge Berman did his job

Tom Brady is one of the best players in NFL history. And now he's defeated the NFL in court (in the court the NFL chose). Although it's more accurate to say that the NFL defeated itself.

Some of the key points Judge Berman made in his decision are:

That Brady was never given notice that "general awareness" of football deflation and/or not cooperating with an investigation would result in a 4-game suspension.

That during the appeal process, Brady's camp was never given access to Jeff Pash.

That steroid usage was not comparable to general awareness of ball deflation.

Judge Berman started this appeal proceeding by forcing the NFL to shed its cloak of BS arguments for suspending Brady. What the League was ultimately left with was relying on its near absolute authority to discipline players, granted to the League by the CBA. But with that authority must come responsibility to do that fairly and consistently. Which the NFL didn't do. The League didn't notify players that they might be suspended for a quarter of the season for such a transgression. And the League didn't adhere to its own process when it denied Brady's lawyers the chance to question Jeff Pash.

From the genesis of DeflateGate, the NFL has changed its reasoning for investigating/punishing Brady. At first it was his general awareness, then his lack of cooperation. Then the destruction of his phone was the impetus behind suspending Brady. And in front of Judge Berman, the NFL decided to equate its PED policy with its new PSI policy, and also claim they had absolute power to discipline players.

Their lack of consistency ultimately cost them this case.

Roger Goodell and the NFL did more to lose this than Pete Carroll did to lose the Super Bowl.

Goodell and Mike Kensil were vindictive against the Patriots. But it was Tom Brady who has been vindicated.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Patriots-Packers drinking game: Thirsty Thursday pre-season opener edition

We're finally going to see football players on a football field instead of appearing in a court room. And even though the first pre-season game doesn't mean much, it's still football. And it will still be the Super Bowl Champions taking the field.

So here's a drinking game that will help you pass out before all the starters are taken out of the game. And if you actually play this game, you'll be on to alcohol poison, the emergency room, and then the morgue. Here it is...

Anytime a commentator says...
"Deflate" = take 1 drink of beer
"Gate" = 1 drink
"Wells" = 1 drink
"Goodell" = 1 drink
"PSI" = 1 drink
"Pressure" = 1 drink
"Court" = 1 drink
"Appeal" = 1 drink
"Mortensen tweet" = drink 11 of 12 beers in a 12 pack
"Suspension" = drink a mixed drink (a.k.a. a suspension, for you science nerds out there)
"Garoppolo" = 1 drink
"Pre-season" = 1 drink
"Incomplete" = 1 drink


Anytime this happens...
Touchback = 1 drink
Kick return = drink until the return is over
Turnover = finish your beer
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
A Patriots player you don't know touches the ball = 1 drink
An announcer is unsure of a player's name = 1 shot of liquor
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are compared = drink until it stops
You think you saw Vince Wilfork, but you didn't = finish your beer, drink a shot, eat a turkey leg
The announcers stop talking about what's happening in the game = 1 drink


Anytime this is on screen...
A shot of a football or footballs = 1 shot of liquor
A ballboy = 1 drink
Bill Belichick = 1 drink
Tom Brady = drink for 12 seconds
The number 12 (including graphics) = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
The words "Free Brady" = 1 drink
Any sign or shirt with a hashtag on it = 1 drink
The Lombardi Trophy = 1 drink per trophy
A ring = 1 drink per ring


Bonus Obscure Player Scavenger Hunt!!!
Drink every time these players are spotted on the field. And the first to announce they've spotted them also has the authority to dispense drink commands to others until the next player is spotted. And just like discipline in the NFL, appealing these drink commands is futile. So here are the players to watch for...

Offense:
Jonathan Krause, #16 - WR
Shaq Mason, #69 - OL
Tyler Gaffney, #36 - RB

Defense:
Geneo Grissom, #48 - listed at DL but played some TE in college
Dax Swanson, #25 - DB
Xzavier Dickson (not a typo), #42 - LB

So there you go! Get lubed up responsibly folks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When idiots conspire: How the meatheads running the NFL sabotaged their own conspiracy to hurt the Patriots

DeflateGate. Like Brett Favre, every time this story seems about to go away, it comes back.

The more we learn about DeflateGate, the clearer it becomes that high ranking NFL officials were hell bent on crucifying the Patriots. But they were careless and stupid with their conspiracy. And they underestimated the willingness of one man to fight; one of the most competitive and mentally toughest athletes in the history of sports: Tom Brady.

The false details in the Mortensen tweet launched this story into orbit. Despite pleas from the Patriots, the NFL didn't correct the leak. They allowed inaccurate information to be the basis of the biggest sports story of the year. The true pressure measurements were revealed 106 days later in the Wells Report.

But whoever leaked the inaccurate details to Mortensen, and whoever decided not to correct them, should have known that at some point the truth would come out. And people would ask questions about the NFL's motives behind the leak and their decision not to correct it.

The Mortensen tweet has become irrelevant as evidence against the Patriots. But in the case against the NFL, it's Exhibit A.

Why fill the Wells Report with so much shoddy science and desperately convoluted logic? The Wells-Pash Report didn't make the NFL's case, it undermined it. For example, referee Walt Anderson's recollection of which pressure gauge he used pre-game, was refuted based on a shaky scientific argument that relied on Anderson's recollection of the Colts' balls' pre-game pressures. So Anderson's memory was deemed unlikely to be true, based on the reliability of his memory. Why allow that to be published?

The Wells Report was never about finding truth, it was about finding guilt. It didn't make the case against the Patriots or Brady, it helped start the case against the NFL.

The League's motives in DeflateGate became clear when the Patriots and Tom Brady were severely punished. The team in part for previous rules violations (SpyGate). And Brady for being "generally aware," and for not handing over his cell phone.

Did Troy Vincent and the NFL do any research into their own precedents? Didn't they remember Brett Favre being fined $50k in 2010 for not turning over his cell phone? Or 2009 when a Jets equipment staffer was suspended for tampering with a kicking ball, but the kicker wasn't punished at all, or even investigated?

Why was the NFL so harsh with the punishments? Imagine if the NFL had just fined Brady. This story might have gone to sleep long ago. But just fining Brady was unacceptable. Why?

The motives for harshness and revenge against the Patriots are abundant. Goodell wanted to rebuild his reputation as League Sheriff. Former Jets president Mike Kensil's motives are obvious. The Ravens were infuriated about ineligible receivers the week prior. A number of other teams think the Patriots are pathological cheaters. Supported by a handful of owners, the same executives who leaked fake air pressures to Mortensen were likely the same people who pressured for and had the power to enforce the harshest possible punishment.

Brady became the scapegoat. The NFL needed a specific villain to blame. Witch hunts need a witch. Pinning such a huge scandal on two no-name team employees wouldn't satisfy.

Brady was singled out because he was mentioned in texts. Because he refused to hand over his phone. And if he appealed, the NFL knew they could have their Meathead in Chief Goodell hear the appeal and then deny it. So he'd be compelled to settle (and admit guilt) or go all the way to Court.

This was their opportunity to sink their teeth in. So they did. Revenge, paranoia, reputation, all motives were satisfied by the severe punishments.

The NFL thought Patriots would accept it. And they were right about that. Bob Kraft accepted the loss of draft picks and the $1 million fine. Kraft's only recourse was to sue the League, and Goodell correctly predicted that Kraft wouldn't.

But the NFL miscalculated when they messed with Tom Brady. Big time. They completely underestimated him. Which is their most monumental mistake in this comedy of errors. Many have underestimated Tom Brady. And he's proven them all wrong.

The NFL execs and owners behind this conspiracy didn't plan this through. They didn't realize that false information leaked out would one day be proven false. They didn't realize that the bad science and flimsy logic of the Wells Report would be used more often as evidence against the NFL as opposed to evidence against Tom Brady.

And they didn't realize that a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan who fought and won a roster spot, then fought his way up a depth chart, then fought and won 4 Super Bowls, would fight and be able to beat them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Roger Goodell and the NFL crave headlines, not justice

"Tom Brady destroyed his phone" is the latest salacious and headline hungry statement/leak that the NFL has disbursed in its efforts to make Brady look as guilty as possible, and to make Roger Goodell look like the punisher of the wicked. This was never about PSI, it was about perception: Goodell's perception as the strict disciplinarian, and the perception that some owners around the NFL have of the Patriots getting away with cheating.

Brady destroyed his phone. He destroyed his phone? He destroyed his phone! Why did he destroy his phone? Who destroys their phone? Why would an innocent man destroy his phone? The dramatic phrasing was intended to make headlines. The NFL didn't just break news, they wrote the first line of every story.

How many times did you hear the word "destroy" in the past 24 hours? The NFL could have said the phone was "replaced," or "disposed of." They could have said the memory card was destroyed, or erased, or swiped. Nope, the whole phone was destroyed. And if Brady had agreed to admit his guilt and accept a reduced suspension, the NFL would have kept his destroyed phone a secret.

Think about. This "damning" evidence, this so-called "smoking gun" was something the NFL was happy to keep under wraps, so long as Brady gave them the confession they wanted.

The NFL lacks evidence, so they deploy innuendo. Whatever facts there are behind Brady's phone being disposed of become irrelevant. How did he destroy it? Was it physically destroyed or just dismantled and the information erased? Was it smashed to bits or dropped in water or blown up or melted or hurled into space?

We don't know the details, and the NFL doesn't care to know them. Details are important when seeking justice. And their lack of importance in the DeflateGate maelstrom demonstrates how uninterested in truth and justice Goodell and the NFL have been since this whole thing started.

The investigation into DeflateGate was only secondarily about trying to find out if the Patriots deflated footballs, and if so, under whose authority and with whose knowledge. The primary goal of the Wells Report, and of every leak and NFL statement, has been to make Brady and the Patriots look as guilty as possible.

A referee claimed to use one gauge to test footballs, but his memory was refuted by the Wells Report, because it destroyed the NFL's case. His memory was deemed faulty based on the reliability of his own memory. I'm not making that up. You can't make that up. His recollection of the Colts' ball's pressures was used as the basis of the argument to refute his recollection of which pressure gauge he used. So his memory is unreliable, based on an argument that relied on his memory.

Remember the leak that broke this entire story? The Patriots were said to have been caught with 11 of 12 footballs 2+ pounds of pressure under the legal minimum. The footballs were indeed below the 12.5 minimum, but not by as much as the leak and the ensuing story claimed. They were, according to one gauge, deflated about as much as the Laws of Physics would predict. But that fact wasn't revealed for months. Even though the NFL knew the leak was inaccurate.

Information with incorrect details was leaked, reported, and then was used as a foundation for the biggest story of the 2014 NFL season. The NFL knew the leaked information was inaccurate, and did nothing to correct it.Why?

Why be so wary of details? Because details don't matter in a witch hunt. Details don't matter when the owners of the Colts and Ravens want to see the Patriots pay, and the Commissioner wants to appear to be a hardass. Sheriff Goodell needed to prove that he's a man of law and order. So with the backing of a group of frustrated owners, the witch hunt and trials by fire began.

This has been a smear campaign from its outset. Incorrect facts were leaked and went uncorrected for months. The Wells Report was based on faulty physics and convoluted logic. And now this bombshell about a phone, which was never going to be given as evidence anyway, being "destroyed," is the latest effort by the NFL to crucify Brady in public, while ignoring any truth or details which might reveal what actually happened.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tom Brady was stupid to destroy his phone, but I understand

The NFL for some reason needed a few weeks to come to the decision to do nothing about Tom Brady's suspension, and keep it at 4 games. This was announced literally on the eve of training camp, with Patriots players scheduled to report on Wednesday the 29th and Brady himself already in Foxborough. The bombshell with the announcement is the fact that Tom Brady evidently destroyed his cell phone during the investigation.

Frankly, the cell phone being destroyed is impossible to defend or explain. The NFL using the word "destroyed" is intentionally dramatic. It conjures an image of Tom Brady blowing his phone up with an M-80, or dropping it in a river in the wilderness. What actually happened to the phone is probably less theatrical. How many of us actually know what happens when we trade in or donate our phones?

Even if the phone was the smoking gun, you still don't destroy it. You just refuse to hand it over. You accidentally leave it next to a magnet, or drop it in the pool, or lose it while hiking, or let Gronk spike it into oblivion as an apparent joke.

It was not smart for Brady to have his phone "destroyed."

But I understand it. The witch hunt atmosphere created by the NFL's leaks and the media firestorm around this story would make it difficult to consistently make calculated and correct decisions. Brady couldn't simply admit guilt for this misdemeanor because it was being treated like a felony. Admitting guilt would tarnish your legacy and everything you've worked for your entire life, not to mention demoralize your teammates before the biggest game of their lives. Brady couldn't be honest so all he could do was shape, twist, and hide the truth as best as he could.

Some people are good at hiding the truth and deceiving people. You don't even notice them. Others aren't very good at it.

I'm not going to defend Tom Brady as innocent. I am going to point out how absurd this story has been from the beginning. This was a set-up. This was Brady getting caught stealing a candy bar and getting charged with grand theft auto, because some elements of the NFL want to see him pay.

Brady evidently broke a rule, got caught, and didn't come clean. He should be punished for violating the initial rule, which was an equipment violation. Should he be punished for obstructing "justice?" I'm not so sure. The NFL didn't seem to be seeking justice, it seemed to be seeking to destroy his reputation. That's vengeance, not justice.

Pedro Martinez is greatness beyond greatness

Pedro Martinez was by far the best thing going during the Great Boston Sports Depression between Larry Bird and Tom Brady. Before Boston teams won Super Bowls and World Series, all we fans could be proud of was a skinny, cocky, unbelievably dominant Dominican pitcher.

It can be difficult to remember the mindset we had in the late '90s and very early 2000s, before the Patriots won the Super Bowl, before the Curse was Reversed, before Boston teams claimed 9 titles in 14 years. And with the abundance of Boston sports heroes in this young century (Brady, Ortiz, Garnett, Thomas, and so on), we kind of forget how special Pedro Martinez actually was, and how for a few years he provided us with that feeling of joy and sense of superiority once every 5 days. So let's remind ourselves of his greatness beyond greatness.

From 1997 to 2000, he was perhaps the best pitcher of all-time
At the height of the most offensive era in MLB history, Pedro Martinez was by far the best pitcher. From '97 to 2000 he won 77 games (19.25 per season). He struck out 1,153 (288.25 per season) and had a 2.12 ERA. In those 4 homerun heavy seasons, he only allowed 68 balls to leave the park. He allowed an impossibly low 9 homeruns in 1999, only 0.34% of the total homeruns hit by AL batters.

He won 3 Cy Youngs in this stretch, and probably should have won an MVP. But we'll get to that later.

In 2000 he struck out almost 9 times as many batters (8.88) as he walked. In 1999 he allowed 0.4 HR per every 9 IP. In '97 the barely 170 pound Pedro threw 241.1 innings. In 2000 his WHIP of 0.737 set the record for the lowest of all time, 0.032 lower than Guy Hecker's WHIP in 1882. Yes, Pedro broke a 118-year-old record. And he did that in the steroid era, in a league with a DH.

While sluggers were smashing Roger Maris' single-season HR record, Pedro was challenging Bob Gibson's ERA record (which was set on a higher mound, and with pitchers batting). Pedro Martinez did more to limit offense in the steroid era than mandatory PED testing eventually did.

His playoff performances were legendary
In Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS against Cleveland, Pedro Martinez pitched 6 no-hit innings of relief in the deciding game of the series. Despite his arm being worn out and his fastball considerably slowed, he held an offense that had scored 1,000+ runs that season, to zero hits. Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, the Alomars, Kenny Lofton, all of them failed to get hits off Pedro. He entered the game when it was 8-8, the Sox won 12-8, and claimed their first playoff series since 1986.

Then in Game 3 of the '99 ALCS, Pedro beat the Yankees with 7 scoreless innings. He only allowed 2 hits and struck out 12. It was New York's only loss of the post-season.

He could have been the winner of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS if not for poor management. Had Grady Little gone to the bullpen to finish the game, few people in Boston would know who Aaron Boone was. Pedro was brilliant for 7 innings, then began to falter in the 8th. Had he been removed, the Red Sox probably would have gone to the World Series, and had a good chance against the Marlins.

He was a big part of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series
Since we tend to associate Pedro so much with the pre-2004 era of Red Sox history, we forget how vital he was to the Sox winning the World Series in '04. Not only with his pitching, but just with his presence. His presence on the team made the Sox a contender, and the new ownership parlayed that in their pursuit of players like Curt Schilling. Pedro was also part of that team's loose yet confident attitude.


He wasn't that great in the 2004 regular season. And in the ALCS against the Yankees, he struggled. However in Game 3 of the World Series he threw 7 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits. This was a great post-season start in the most important series in Red Sox history this side of 1920, and Pedro's pitching was a major contribution.

He should have won the MVP in 1999
Apart from Pedro and Nomar, the 1999 Red Sox weren't very good. Jose Offerman, Wilton Veras, Damon Buford, Darren Lewis, Reggie Jefferson, Ed Sprague. The #2 pitcher was Bret Saberhagen, when he was healthy. Then there was Mark Portugal, Pat Rapp, and Brian Rose. John "Way Back" Wasdin was still out in the bullpen. It wasn't a very good team. Yet they won 94 games. They were 25-5 (.833) when Pedro started, and 69-63 (.523) when he didn't. I'd say he was quite valuable to that team's success.

He had an ERA of 2.07, struck out 313 batters, had a WHIP of 0.923, was AL Pitcher of the Month 4 times, and led the AL in WAR. He only allowed 9 homeruns in 213.1 innings (1 per 23.7 innings). He came in 2nd in MVP voting, behind Ivan Rodriguez. Why? Because some people didn't think a pitcher should be eligible for the MVP because they're not "every day players." Pedro got one more 1st place vote than Rodriguez did. But some voters felt that the Cy Young was for pitchers, the MVP was for positional players, and left Pedro off their ballot. So I-Rod won.

He threw a perfect game, but not really, but really
In 1995, Pedro retired every batter he faced for 9 innings. However, after 9 innings the Expos and Padres were still tied 0-0. The Expos scored in the 10th, but Pedro allowed a double in the bottom of the inning and was relieved. So he didn't even get credit for a shutout, let alone a perfect game.

Nevertheless, he still pitched 9 perfect innings, still retired 27 straight batters from 1st to 9th. And a ball from the game is in Cooperstown with other balls from no-hitters.



Pedro was often on teams that didn't support him very much. We can only imagine how much higher his winning percentage would be if he had more help.

The abundance of absurd but true Pedro stories
Remember his performance in the '99 All-Star Game? He struck out Hall of Famer and 12 time All-Star Barry Larkin. Then Larry Walker, who was hitting .382 at the time. Pedro then punched out Sosa and McGwire, who had combined for 136 homeruns the year before and hit 128 in '99. After Matt Williams reached on an error, Pedro struck out Jeff Bagwell and I-Rod threw Williams out trying to steal second. The most impressive 2 innings pitched of all time.

2,222. That's how many homeruns were hit by guys Pedro struck out in the 1999 All-Star Game

Remember the 17 strikeout one-hitter against the Yankees?

Remember the no-hit bid against the Devil Rays after he hit Gerald Williams with a pitch?

Remember when the Red Sox played a 19 inning game in Seattle in 2000, then Pedro saved the bullpen the next day with an efficient complete game? It was one of his most impressive demonstrations as a pitcher. He only struck out 7 (he was averaging 11.8 K/9 that year), instead pitching to contact and inducing 14 groundballs (including 2 GIDP) to keep his pitch count low. He won the game, and saved the beleaguered bullpen.

His stuff was amazing. And when his fastball gradually lost its ferocity, his accuracy and pitching acumen allowed him to remain elite. He was an artist. He was one of the smartest players in the game and one of the goofiest. He had a small body but big balls. He dominated, he enraged, he impressed, he intimidated, the game revolved around him when he was pitching.

You absolutely had to watch his starts. You coveted tickets to see him pitch in person at Fenway. Each start had a realistic chance to be a no-hitter or a 20 strikeout game. You learned Spanish because of him. Pedro didn't just dominate the game, he dominated the lives of Boston sports fans.

Monday, July 27, 2015

No more Boston 2024 (thank God)

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh doesn't want to put taxpayers in the position to pay for cost overruns. That unwillingness to make Boston's citizens the insurance policy for Boston 2024 has resulted in Boston's bid being dropped completely. And thank fucking God for that.

The organizers of Boston 2024 were so sure of their budgeting estimates, that they were willing to put the people of Boston's money on the line to pay in case costs surpassed expectations. That's money that could go to schools, police, fire, public works, snow removal, pothole repair, instead going to pay for a velodrome. Which is a steeply banked bicycle race track. Which nobody has any use for, which is why we don't already have one.

The benefits of hosting the Olympics would have been shared among a select group of rich individuals and companies. It would be a bonanza for Suffolk Construction. Bob Kraft would get a cheap soccer specific stadium for the Revs. Everyone publicly pushing for the games to be here would have seen their wallets fatten, whether through business deals or just the paychecks they get working for the Boston 2024 organization. And if costs exceeded expectation, the people would have paid. While the beneficiaries still got paid the same.

After watching the Olympic debate on Fox 25 last week, my anti-Boston 2024 sentiment went from a small controlled fire to a raging inferno. Steve Pagliuca could not give straight answers to simple questions. Daniel Doctoroff was a smarmy jerk. Every question raised by the media or by people against Boston 2024 was dismissed as "hyperbole," or "inflammatory," or not answered at all.

And the T wouldn't benefit directly from the Olympics. There are no Boston 2024 funds allocated to improving it. The T needs to be fixed on its own, BEFORE 2024. The commuter rail and subway lack modern, functioning equipment. Routes and systems need to be updated. The amount of economic production lost due to public transportation issues is unacceptable for a major city. And we should focus on remedying these problems before taking on the challenge of catering to the Olympics.

The Boston 2024 plan was built by optimistic businessmen who stood to gain from Boston hosting. And if their optimistic cost and revenue estimates didn't come to fruition in reality, the people were going to pay. And that's wrong. You can't have one group of people enjoy the profit while another group takes the risk.

So bon voyage, Boston 2024. To translate intoto Bostonian: Go fuck yourselves.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BBS Awards: New England Patriots win Team of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports calendar.

Back in January of 2008, I awarded Team of the Year to the Patriots. They were 16-0. This was before I realized that I should write these posts sometime after the Super Bowl.

I'm very happy to name the Patriots as the Team of the Year for 2014-15.


They won 15 games, including a very hard fought playoff battle against the Ravens, and of course the Super Bowl against Seattle. They were tough, they were imposing, they were difficult to match up against, they were clutch.

The stars were stellar. The role players rose to the occasion. They all did their job.

The season started poorly. At one point a reporter asked Belichick if he was considering replacing Brady (who was that idiot by the way?). The team believed in itself, even though the fans and the media didn't. The Patriots moved on to Cincinnati. Then to Buffalo, then the Jets, the Bears, the Broncos, the Colts, and so on. They scored 87 points in 2 games against the "AFC Finalist" Colts.

And the Super Bowl will probably be the Game of the Century for Boston Sports.

Belichick, Brady, Gronkowski, Revis, Edelman, Wilfork, Stork, Browner, McCourty, Blount, Gray, Vereen, Amendola, LaFell, Jones, Jones, Ninkovich, Casillas, Collins, Butler.

What a great team. What a great year.

I can't wait for the 2015 season to begin.

BBS Awards: Tom Brady wins Athlete of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

Without a doubt Tom Brady was the best athlete in all of sports in 2014.


He's better than Aaron Rodgers. He beat the Seahawks. Against the best defense in the NFL, he had the best and most clutch 4th quarter of any quarterback in Super Bowl history.

And not only did he lead his team to the top of the NFL in 2014, he's currently in a fight against the NFL and just might beat the League itself.

So much better than Aaron Rodgers.

BBS Awards: Bill Belichick wins Lifetime Achievement Award

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

By winning his fourth Super Bowl, Bill Belichick cemented his legacy as the greatest football coach of all-time. Among Boston coaches in all sports, he's second only to Red Auerbach. NFL coaches can only dream of achieving half of what Belichick has achieved.


Four Super Bowl wins as a head coach, 2 more as an assistant. He's been part of 8 Super Bowls spanning 4 decades. Named Coach of the Year 3 times by the AP. His defensive gameplan from Super Bowl 25 is in the Hall of Fame.

He's won 232 games including 22 playoff wins. His 211 regular season wins is 6th all-time, and with 12 more wins he'll pass Paul Brown for 5th.

One of Belichick's biggest strengths is his ability to move on from adversity. "We're on to Cincinnati" became a theme of the 2014 season, but moving on has been a key part of Belichick's career. He was a failure in Cleveland, but was able to learn from the experience and move on. When the Patriots lost Bledsoe in 2001, he and the team moved on. When they lost 31-0 to the Bills in 2003, they moved on. When the SpyGate story erupted, when Brady got hurt in 2008, when Aaron Hernandez murdered people, when the team was 2-2 last year and people were questioning if Tom Brady should be the quarterback, when DeflateGate broke. Belichick moves on.

No team excels in the face of adversity like Belichick's Patriots.

Few coaches have lost Super Bowls as heartbreaking as the two that Belichick lost against the Giants. And yet he still isn't afraid of risking defeat. He still has massive balls. He had the balls to reject the Jets and work for the Patriots (having learned from his Cleveland experience how important it was to work for owners who let you do your job). He had the balls to keep 4 quarterbacks on his roster, one of them was Tom Brady. He had the balls to let Brady try to win Super Bowl 36. He had the balls to let Lawyer Milloy go, to sign Corey Dillon, to bring in Randy Moss, to drop Randy Moss, to trade Logan Mankins, et cetera.

His aggression has sometimes been questioned, and it hasn't always worked out, but that aggression is why he and the Patriots are 4 time champions.

You could write a 200-page thesis paper on leadership by talking about Bill Belichick. So I'll stop myself here.

But Belichick has yet to stop. He's still doing his job.

BBS Awards: Bill Belichick wins Red Auerbach Award for Executive/Coach of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

Bill Belichick the GM had been the focus of criticism in this town for 7 or 8 years. Some of it deserved, much of it exaggerated, most of it emotionally overblown. Somehow as a GM, the 2007 team he assembled was inadequate. And the 2011 team, with an unhealthy Gronkowski in the Super Bowl, was insufficient in the talent department to win. He was even blamed for Gronkowski's injuries.

The Patriots' mantra in 2014 was "Do Your Job." The GM's job is to put together a team capable of winning. And that's what Belichick did. And all the critics of Belichick the GM can shut up, finally. From familiar faces like Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork, to a 2nd round steal like Rob Gronkowski, to ring hungry Darrelle Revis, to a former Kent State quarterback turned receiver, to an oft-injured replacement for Wes Welker (who is himself now oft-injured), to an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama named Malcolm.


The team was built for toughness and versatility. It could beat you with offense and defense. And they were physical.

Belichick was also the coach of the year. He kept his team focused even when they were 2-2. He didn't allow DeflateGate to distract them in the Super Bowl. He and his staff prepared his team to make big plays, made the right adjustments during the game, and had the balls to let the clock run out in the 4th quarter.

Bill Belichick was the best coach and best GM in Boston sports last year.

BBS Awards: Super Bowl 49 wins Game of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

There are about 85 years left in the century. That's around 14,000 baseball games, over 7,000 hockey and 7,000 basketball games, and counting the playoffs, about 1,400 football games. Odds are, none of those games will be able to top Super Bowl 49 as the Boston Sports Game of the Century.


The game was great, but so was everything going on around it. The build up with DeflateGate. The story-lines of old dynasty vs. new dynasty, of attitude vs. adjustment, of Sherman vs. Revis, of Carroll vs. Belichick. The two most talented teams, the two toughest teams. A powerful running back, a powerful tight-end, formidable DBs on both sides of the ball. The anticipation was unreal.

The game itself surpassed expectations, featuring some of the best individual plays of the season. Great throws, great catches, great interceptions, from both teams. So many big plays. So many heroes. Brady, Gronk, Amendola, Edelman, Butler.

And it ended with the best quarterback of his era leading his team to victory. And the best coach of all-time seeing his adjustments, his pre-game preparation, and his audacity pay off.

The lasting impact of the game is another rarity. The Championship tore down the divide between the glory years of 2001-2004, and the "almost" years of 2005-2013. It launched Brady and Belichick into the "best ever" category.

It's very rare that a sporting event has such high expectations, then exceeds them, and then has a major impact in the history of the game. Super Bowl 49 did all of that.

And just imagine what enduring all those blizzards would have been like had the Patriots lost.

BBS Awards: Pete Frates wins Bloody Sock Award for Toughness

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

This award goes to players who have gone through serious injury, and sometimes serious illness. From Dustin Pedroia and Wes Welker, to Jon Lester and Mark Herzlich. This is probably the most prestigious award that this humble blogger gives each year.

Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. He's not only fighting his own fight against this illness, he's fighting the entire disease. It can't be easy for him to make as many appearances as he does to raise awareness and funds. His level of toughness is off the scale, and has inspired a tremendous amount of good.

BBS Awards: Malcolm Butler wins Tom Brady Award for Coming Out of Nowhere

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

This Award goes to players who went from anonymity to superstars. For example, Koji Uehara won it for 2013, Danny Woodhead in 2010. This year's winner didn't have a great season, or even a great game.

It was one play. At least that's how we'll remember it. Malcolm Butler was the center of 4 big plays in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 49. He broke up a few passes on key downs. He made a few important tackles. And of course, his interception.


Most of us didn't know who this guy was before that night. Now everyone knows. Take Tom Brady's entire 2001 season and condense it into an hour of football. That was the night Malcolm Butler had.

BBS Awards: Jon Lester wins Ted Williams Award for Red Sox Player of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

The 2014 Red Sox season seems like a long long time ago. It's hard to imagine that the Sox were once a team struggling to get out of last place and were failing even at the most basic and fundamental... wait.

Jon Lester won 10 games for the Sox in 2014 before he was traded. His ERA was 2.52 and he was earning the contract that the Red Sox refused to consider giving him. And also making the Sox look stupid for not negotiating with him before the season.


Speaking of the Sox looking like idiots, Lester was traded for Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes was then traded in the off-season for Rick Porcello. The Red Sox then extended Porcello's contract.

Great moves, Red Sox. Keep up the good work.

BBS Awards: Rob Gronkowski wins Drew Bledsoe Award for Patriots Player of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

Tom Brady is the heart of the Patriots. And Rob Gronkowski is the muscle. As Gronk got healthy, the Patriots got healthy. As Gronk started to dominate, the Patriots started to dominate. The Patriots were 10-0 when he caught for 60+ yards, 3-2 when he didn't.


Not only did he produce, the way he played gave the Patriots a ferocious edge that they haven't had (especially on offense) for a long time. This was not a finesse team. It was a brutal, hard-hitting game when Gronk was on the field.

He also caught a TD pass in each playoff game.

His 12 receiving TDs were tied for 4th in the NFL and tied for 1st among tight-ends. He led tight-ends in yards, 20+ yard catches, first downs (60 of them), and yards after the catch. And don't forget he's one of the fiercest blockers in the League.

BBS Awards: Isaiah Thomas wins Bill Russell Award for Celtics Player of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

Maybe the Celtics will regret their playoff berth, but it did give us a chance to see just how good Isaiah Thomas really is, and how hopefully he might one day play a role in this team's return to contention. Thomas led the C's in scoring and assists in the Cleveland series. His 19.0 points per game in the regular season would have also led the team.


It's going to be a long road back to contention for the C's. In the meantime, Thomas is a talented and exciting player to watch. And he's 10 times more likable than Rajon Rondo.

BBS Awards: Patrice Bergeron wins Bobby Orr Award for Bruins Player of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

It was a bad year for the Bruins. No playoff hockey. Cap issues on the horizon. One bright spot was Patrice Bergeron. Who is also one of the few bright spots going forward. He won the Selke (again) for the best defensive forward. He was second on the Bruins with 23 goals, and led the team with 55 points.


Surprisingly, this is only the second time Bergeron has won this award. The last was for 2006. Hopefully he wins more in the future, and hopefully some of his teammates play well enough to compete with him for the honor.

BBS Awards: Jack Eichel wins Agganis-Flutie Award for College Athlete of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

In years past, this was known the Doug Flutie Award. I think with BU freshman hockey player Jack Eichel winning it, it's a perfect time to add Harry Agganis' name to this honor. Agganis was an All-American quarterback at BU, and also played baseball and basketball. He was drafted by the Browns in 1952, but decided to play baseball for the Red Sox instead. He died tragically in 1955 at the age of 26.


BU's hockey arena is named after Harry Agganis, and that's where Jack Eichel dominated Hockey East opponents in the 2014-15 season. In 40 games he scored 26 goals and added 41 assists. He won the Hobey Baker (college hockey's Heisman), becoming only the second freshman to do so. He was also drafted 2nd overall in in the NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres.


Not a bad freshman year. My freshman year was all about D.P. Dough calzones and playing Madden.

BBS Awards: Tuukka Rask wins Varitek Award for Most Overrated Athlete

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

When you call someone overrated, you're not criticizing the person, you're criticizing the people who have unduly lifted that person up beyond where they should be lifted. Jason Varitek was an integral part of the Red Sox winning their first World Series since 1918. But he was horribly overrated by us Boston fans. That's why this award is named after him.

Being overrated isn't a direct criticism, but I will directly criticize Tuukka Rask. The Bruins goalie followed up on his Vezina winning season with disappointment, and almost nobody pointed it out. Sure, the team around him sucked, so there were plenty of guys for B's fans to hate on, but Rask seemed immune.


He was 14th in GAA, 10th in save percentage, and 19th in shutouts.

Rask wasn't a reason the Bruins lost, but he didn't do much to help them win. And since he was not criticized sufficiently for his average play, he was the most overrated athlete in Boston sports last year.

BBS Awards: Pete Carroll wins A-Rod Award for Biggest Choker

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

Normally the A-Rod Award for choking goes to a Boston based athlete, or even an entire team. But nobody in sports last year choked more than Pete Carroll choked at the end of the Super Bowl, which allowed a Boston team to snag victory from the gum-chewing jaws of defeat.


It wasn't just the decision to pass on the goal-line. It was letting the clock wind down before passing. It was having a team so disorganized and undisciplined that they had to burn a timeout after Kearse's catch. Then the penalties committed after Malcolm Butler's interception which removed all doubt.

The impact of Carroll's choking goes beyond one game and one championship. Think of the impact it had on the legacies of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Think of how many New Englanders would have willingly buried themselves and drowned in feet of snow had the Seahawks won that game. Pete Carroll's idiocy as a coach and impotence as a disciplinarian solidified Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as arguably the best at their jobs.

Thank you, Pete.

BBS Awards: DeflateGate Coverage wins Shaughnessy Award for Worst Sports Media

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

The Dan Shaughnessy Award is typically given to a single sportswriter or sports radio personality. Past winners include Shaughnessy himself, Michael Felger, Ron Borges, John Dennis/Gerry Callahan. This year's winner is a little different.


The media didn't just cover DeflateGate, it became an active participant. A leaked report with incorrect details about air pressure started the DeflateGate circus. Sources within the NFL used the media to stoke the flames until the story became self-aware and spread into mainstream media. You had Good Morning America talking about inflated footballs. Scientists were canvassed for their expertise. Ex-players, lawyers, children.

Belichick was blamed. People wanted the Patriots banned from the Super Bowl. Some wanted Belichick banned from the game, Pete Rose style.

Whatever the most sensational and ridiculous interpretation of leaks from the NFL, that's what the media went with. Whatever the most absurd opinion or "take," and that's what the media went with.

Facts were obstacles that could only slow down the rapid firing DeflateGate media machine. As Gene Hackman's character in The Birdcage said: "People in this country aren't interested in details. They don't even trust details. The only thing they trust is headlines."

Actual journalism has been dead for many years, DeflateGate was simply the pressure gauge that proved that all the air, and with it all the standards and quality of the media, had leaked out and dissipated.

BBS Awards: Peter Chiarelli wins Harry Frazee Award for Goat of the Year

The Boston Blood Sox Awards (or Bloodies) are awarded for great success and/or pitiful failure in the 2014-15 sports year.

The Harry Frazee Award for Goat of the Year is given to the sports figure who was the most disliked, derided, even detested character in Boston sports. Basically the guy sports fans would be happiest to see leave the city. Past winners include Manny Ramirez (twice), J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Tyler Seguin, and Randy Moss. It is named after the owner of the Red Sox that sold Babe Ruth and a number of other great players to the Yankees.

Peter Chiarelli, former Bruins GM, wins the Goat of the Year Award.


Unfortunately, there were a number of other candidates for this award, most of them with front office jobs on Yawkey Way. Chiarelli, however, was completely in over his head as Bruins GM. The cap was mismanaged, the drafts were poor, deadline trades didn't get done, contracts were extended too early for too long. It was just a disaster.

He's gone to Edmonton, and good luck to him.

Monday, July 06, 2015

I like the US Women's Soccer team much more than the US Men's team

Team USA reclaimed the Women's World Cup on Sunday with an impressive 5-2 victory over Japan. The USWNT (US Women's National Team) was so dominant that they scored as many goals for Japan as the Japanese did. It was a perfect way to end the 4th of July weekend.

I like our women's team so much more than the men's team. And here's why:

The women win:
I don't expect the men's team to defeat the likes of Germany or Argentina and win the World Cup. But beat Ghana, please. I don't think that's asking too much. Beat teams that you're supposed to beat, and then don't act like it's a major achievement to beat them. It's embarrassing to be an American and be surprised that the US men's team barely beat Algeria.

The women won't settle for less than victory:
I hate when the men's team gets praised for losing a close game to Germany. Or ties Portugal, or loses to Belgium, and gets even more praise. There's no shame in losing to Germany, but it's not something to boast about either. After these World Cup games last year, American pundits lauded Team USA for not getting annihilated by the Germans, for scoring 2 whole goals against Portugal, and for taking Belgium to extra time. Why don't we just do what the Colts do and put up banners commemorating all of these glorious defeats? Since when do we celebrate losing in this country?

Unlike the men, the women's team won't get praise or glory unless they win. And that's the American way.

No Landon Donovan:
I hate Landon Donovan. Overrated, under-performing, and completely infatuated with himself. There's no doubt that he's the best American player of all-time. And he knows it. The thing is, being the best all-time for a country that didn't qualify for the World Cup for 4 decades isn't too amazing. It's like climbing the highest "mountain" in Kansas.


At the global level, Donovan simply wasn't that great. He's scored a couple of goals in World Cups, the biggest being against the mighty Algerians. Wow. For major European clubs he scored 2 goals in 28 games. Yet US Soccer people talk about him in reverence and awe. They worship Landon Donovan. Both Donovan and his fanatical supporters make the US men's team very annoying to watch.

In contrast, the USWNT had lots of star forwards in this tournament, but eventually went with a single forward lineup. Because teams win championships, not individuals. Good luck convincing Landon Donovan of that.

Less diving:
This probably also applies to all the other teams at the Women's World Cup, who seemed to dive less than all the teams in men's soccer. As well as all NBA teams. Maybe the women dive less because they feel more motivation to show their toughness and strength. Whatever the reason, it made watching the game more enjoyable.

They're hot:
This isn't sexist. Female sports fans get to cheer on their favorite male athletes while also getting turned on by them. How many women in New England get excited to see Gronkowski score a touchdown, then even more excited when he spikes the ball? Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, David Beckham, they've all been making female fans get flustered. So it's not sexist for me to enjoy seeing Alex Morgan score while also thinking about scoring with Alex Morgan.


In order to remain classy, I decided not to use one of the multitude of Tom Brady ball deflation jokes I came up with.

They're the best:
It's hard to be the best at something. Striving to be the best is what America is all about. We're a country that's simultaneously the fattest in the world AND wins the most Olympic medals. Everything we do, we want to be the best at it. And these women were clearly the best.

So congratulations to the USWNT for winning the World Cup. And thank you for being more likable than the men's team.

Photo Credit: Getty

Red Sox almost blow rubber game against Astros

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the Astros over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but the Sox blew Friday night's game. And they almost blew the rubber game on Sunday.

Hanley Ramirez (who didn't know the count at one point during Friday's loss, and stood at home plate after taking ball 4 until the umpire told him he'd walked) hit a 2-run homer on Sunday that won the game. (seriously though, how does a hitter not know the count, especially since there are big green and red lights in left field telling you how many balls and strikes there are?)


Ramirez's homerun came after Alexi Ogando surrendered the lead by allowing 3 runs off a pair of homers in the 7th. For some reason John Farrell didn't take Ogando out, even though this year he has struggled when throwing 25+ pitches (12.1 IP, 12 H, 7 ER in outings of 25+ pitches). Junichi Tazawa was evidently available, as he came in to pitch the 8th. So I really don't know why Farrell left Ogando in, or didn't have someone warming up.

David Ortiz was on base when Hanley homered. He drew a walk. Apart from that his afternoon was quite horrible. He struck out with 2 on and no outs in the 3rd. In the 5th he grounded out with runners on the corners. He's hitting .155 with runners in scoring position this year and that's inexcusable.

Ortiz was playing first base, which thankfully meant Mike Napoli was not in the lineup. Shane Victorino did go 0 for 3 as a heartfelt tribute to Napoli.

Hanley Ramirez had the big hit, but the working class hero of the game was Ryan Hanigan, who hit 3 singles, knocked in 2 runs, and walked.

Eduardo Rodriguez was okay. He held the Astros to 1 run, but his rising pitch count limited him to 5 innings. He struck out 8.

The bullpen is an issue. When every other part of a team struggled, sometimes it's hard to notice a bad bullpen. Now that the bullpen has leads to protect, we're starting to see how vulnerable and shallow it truly is. On Friday night the Sox were tied 8-8 in the 10th inning and were forced to send Noe Ramirez to the mound to make his Major League debut. He gave up 4 runs. This was after Breslow struggled, which was after Masterson made a horrible start.

I'm not dwelling on the negative. The Sox are 6 games out in the AL East. They just took 2 of 3 from a good Houston team. It would be a shame if this last ditch effort to fight for a playoff spot were undermined by a shaky bullpen, a manager who makes bad decisions, hitters who forget what the count is, fielders who forget how many outs there are, and baserunners who don't know when to steal and when not to.

Photo Credit: Steven Senne/Associated Press

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Rick Porcello is product of Red Sox Front Office arrogance

The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello and then extended his contract because the 26-year old fit into the new philosophy recently developed by the Front Office. Instead of paying extra for pitchers over 30, and taking the risk of their performance falling off at the end of a contract, the Sox would target younger pitchers. These players wouldn't be as proven as the older pitchers, but that would actually make them a better investment, because that would make them less expensive. Furthermore, the potential upside for younger pitchers made them an opportunity, not a risk.

Compare this pitching philosophy with stock investments. Would you rather buy part of Facebook when it opened publicly, or when Mark Zuckerberg was still living in a Harvard dorm? Getting in early is less expensive, you get more for your money, and the sky is the limit for increased value.

John Henry and Larry Lucchino aren't "baseball people." They know their baseball intelligence isn't sufficient to beat the baseball people who run the 29 other teams. So they try to think outside of the diamond and gain an advantage using ideas like this investing strategy. Sometimes it works. These guys have built 3 World Series winners, after all. But with Rick Porcello, it hasn't worked.

Henry and Lucchino were drawn to Rick Porcello because of one number. Not his ERA or WHIP, not his WAR or K/9. It was his age. He was 26. He had 6 years of MLB experience. And he'd shown some signs that he could be a very good pitcher. So before he ever toed the rubber in a meaningful game with the Red Sox, his contract was extended for 4 years, paying him just a tick over $20M per year.

The deal would keep Porcello in Boston until he was 30. His prime years would be in a Red Sox uniform, but the Sox wouldn't have to worry about his performance falling off due to age.

The Sox dismissed doubts instead of considering them. Porcello had a career 4.30 ERA in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and in a division that didn't have many potent offenses. He only had one truly good season, and had shown inconsistency in his 6 Major League years. He had more seasons with an ERA over 4.50 (3) than with an ERA below 4.00 (2). His stuff wasn't amazing. And he pitched to contact, inducing groundballs, instead of amassing strikeouts.

These concerns probably didn't worry the Sox. If they had, they would have waited a few weeks before extending his contract. The issue of pitching to contact was likely dismissed as something that only outmoded and archaic "baseball people" would worry about, an antiquated notion of how the game should be played. And the statistical inconsistency was because Porcello was still a young man. He'd shown his potential in 2014 with 15 wins and a 3.43 ERA. The other seasons were part of his growth and development.

The Sox were so confident in Porcello's inevitable success, that they signed him as early as possible to avoid having to pay him more as his value increased. Henry and Lucchino probably imagined him having a 4-1 April, and then refusing to sign an extension. So they locked him up for 4 more years.

Unfortunately, the deal also made him untradeable. The Front Office didn't give themselves options if Porcello disappointed, or if he was good but the team disappointed, allowing him to be traded at the deadline. Investors should always give themselves options.

The assessment of Porcello wasn't the only mistake the Front Office made. The philosophy itself is flawed. Older pitchers cost more because their performance is proven. The risk with them is that their performance might fall off. You don't know how many good years you'll get. Younger pitchers also carry significant risk. There's a risk you might not get any good years at all.

The Sox paid a premium for Porcello's youth. Which is like paying someone extra for a product that hasn't been tested. They ignored obvious reasons to have second thoughts about extending his contract. They didn't try to find any reasons not to extend him. They built a philosophy based on their relative ignorance of baseball, then arrogantly assumed they were smarter than traditional baseball thinking.

It's okay to pay extra for something proven, especially something as rare and important as pitching. It's not okay to give someone who is killing your team a raise to $20M/year. But John Henry and Larry Lucchino thought they knew better than everyone else. Sometimes smart people do the dumbest things.