Saturday, January 31, 2015

Patriots-Seahawks Drinking Game: Super Bowl XLIX Edition

The Super Bowl is here at last. All that DeflateGate talk actually made the two week wait fly by. And here we are. All the practices, all the roster decisions, all the pain, all the regular season games, it all comes down to 60 minutes of football. And for us fans, 4+ hourss of intense drinking. Here's a drinking game to play while watching Super Bowl XLIX. Remember to get lubed up responsibly, and designate a driver to take you to the hospital and/or morgue.

Anytime a commentator says:
"Deflate" = take 1 drink of beer
"Gate" = 1 drink
"Pressure" = 1 drink
"PSI" = 1 drink
"(in)eligible" = 1 drink
"Controversy" = 1 drink
"Super" = 1 drink
"Legacy" = 1 drink
"Dynasty" = 1 drink
"Wilson" = 1 drink
A name that ends in "-ski" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Belichick" = 1 drink
"Job" = 1 drink
"Carroll" = 1 drink
"Glendale" = 1 drink (those named Glen or Dale can command others to drink until the next commercial)
"Al" = 1 drink
"Cris" = 1 drink
"Michelle" = 1 drink

Anytime this happens:
Penalty = 1 drink
Penalty on Brandon Browner = 1 drink, 1 shot of liquor
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff/punt return = drink for the entire return
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink (if drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade, you can command others to drink until the next commercial)
Brady says "Alpha milk" = 1 drink (if drinking a White Russian, you can command others to drink until the start of the next quarter)
Brady says a word that starts with "F" = 1 drink
Brady says a word that ends with "-uck" = 1 drink
Russell Wilson leaves the pocket = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
The Patriots throw short (5 yards and under) = 1 drink
Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman are compared = drink for 24 seconds
Pete Carroll claps = 1 drink per clap
Bill Belichick folds his arms = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball = finish your beer, spike it (bonus points for spiking a glass bottle)
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces/recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork scores a touchdown = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat 1 turkey leg
Danny Amendola celebrates with his teammates = 1 drink
The Patriots block a punt/kick = drink an entire beer, then 1 shot (2 shots if returned for a TD)
Someone in the room makes a joke about Katy Perry's breasts being properly inflated = 2 drinks

Anytime this is on screen:
A ballboy or where the footballs are stored = 1 drink
A Roman numeral = 1 drink (if drinking Dos Equis or Molson XXX, you can command others to drink until the next commercial)
The number 12 (including in the crowd, and on the clock and scoreboard) = 1 drink
A trophy or representation of a trophy = 1 drink
The word "Wilson" (on jerseys AND on footballs) = 1 drink
Macklemore = 1 shot
Any other celebrity = 1 drink
Highlights from previous Super Bowls = drink for the entirety of the highlight
A graphic of coaching achievements = 1 shot
A graphic of Tom Brady's achievements = drink for 12 seconds
Michelle Tafoya = 1 shot
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
A cactus or anything else from the desert = 1 drink
A promo for other NBC programs = 1 drink
Starbucks logo = 1 drink from a Dunkin Donuts cup filled with ice coffee and Bailey's

Illustration by Linzi Silverman

Anytime you:
Hold in a piss = 1 drink per play and/or commercial you hold it in
Root against the team you like so you can win a square = 1 drink
Don't think a commercial is funny even though it tried to be = 1 drink
Pretend it's an accident that you switched the channel to Puppy Bowl = 1 drink
Endure listening to Katy Perry because of boobage = 1 drink
Claim to be a Lenny Kravitz fan but you want to watch Katy Perry = 1 shot
Wish Celebrity DeathMatch was still around and still did halftime shows = 1 drink, then imagine Kravitz fighting Katy Perry and all the claymated hilarity that would ensue

Bonus commercial and halftime drinking game:
Peyton Manning = drink for 18 seconds (if eating chicken parm, you can command others to drink until the next time Manning appears)
Danica Patrick = 1 drink
A ridiculously hot woman eating junk food = 1 drink (if you are a ridiculously hot woman eating junk food, you can command others to drink until the end of the game, but you could pretty much do that anyways)
Cleavage = 1 drink per cleaved boob
Lip-syncing = 1 shot per artist
Sunglasses = 1 drink
A horse = 1 drink per horse
A dog = 1 drink per dog (mega bonus points if you do this while watching Puppy Bowl, you crazy bastard)
The price of a car = 1 drink
Beer = 1 drink per beer

So that's the game. Make sure you call in sick for work on Monday, and to be safe might as well take Tuesday off as well. Also make sure your last will and testament is in order along with funeral arrangements and organ donation stuff (the ruined liver could be donated to science).

Enjoy playing the game while watching the game, do your job and get lubed up responsibly, don't drink and drive or else Vince Wilfork might have to pull you out of your car, and go Patriots!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Patriots Super Bowl win would be an exclamation point on Boston's Age of Being Wicked Awesome

The Patriots play the Seahawks Sunday, 15 months and 2 days after the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series. That's 459 days. It's been 15 months since we've had a championship parade in this town.

It's been a nice century to be a Boston fan. I call it The Age of Being Wicked Awesome. Since 2001 we've seen the local teams win 8 championships (once every 22.5 months). They've appeared in the finals 13 times, and the semi-finals 20 times. Our 4 teams have qualified for the postseason 39 times, an average of 2.8 per year. And we as fans have been fortunate enough to enjoy our teams participating in 86 different rounds of playoff competition (6.1 per year).

It's really amazing. Especially for a fan like me, who was born in 1984, and came of age as a Boston fan in the lean 1990s. That decade saw Sox fans go nuts over winning the AL East in 1995, as if that were an amazing achievement. I remember watching the celebration on TV and asking my parents if the Red Sox had won the World Series. And if not, why was everyone so happy and why was Mo Vaughn riding a horse?

Three Cleveland Indians wins later and the 1995 season was over.

Boston also had a rally for the 1999 Sox because they won a playoff series. And even more embarrassing was June of 2001 when the City rallied to celebrate Ray Bourque winning a Stanley Cup in Colorado. The 1990s was the only decade in the 20th century that did not see a Boston team winning a championship.

Then Tom Brady and Bill Belichick came. Then new owners for the Red Sox came. Then an NHL salary cap came. Then Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came. And the glory years began. The most glorious of glories came in 2004. The Patriots won the Super Bowl on February 1st of that year. Then the Red Sox broke the Curse and won the World Series on October 27. The Patriots won 21 games in a row, then won another Super Bowl in February of 2005.

Fourteen years. Three Super Bowls, three World Series, a Stanley Cup, and an NBA title. How many championship DVDs do you have in your collection? How many hats and t-shirts? How many hours have we been able to get together and watch great teams play playoff football/baseball/hockey/basketball?

Brady, Belichick, Pedro, Schilling, Papi, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rivers. David Roberts' steal, Adam Vinatieri's kicks, Tim Thomas' saves.

"All glory is fleeting." That's not a Debbie Downer warning. It's a reminder to have fun when fun things happen. It's a reminder to enjoy life when you can, because we don't know when there will be times like these again.

The Celtics are trying desperately to build a contending roster, so far with little to show for it. The Bruins have salary cap issues. The Red Sox are rebuilding. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are getting old. These joyous times might soon be coming to an end.

I'm not saying teams here won't win championships again, but this unprecedented ringfest seems like it might soon be simmering down. So hopefully the Patriots will win on Sunday, and put an exclamation point on this era. It seems fitting, as it was the Patriots in 2001 who initiated this Age of Being Wicked Awesome.

Photo Credit: Hans Gissinger for ESPN The Magazine

Why did the NFL wait until the Super Bowl to change how ineligible receivers are announced?

The Patriots used ineligible receivers and deceptive formations to defeat the Ravens in the Divisional Round, almost 3 full weeks ago. In immediate response to that, the League defended the legality of the Patriots' actions and did nothing to adjust the mechanics of officials for the AFC Championship game. Then DeflateGate happened. Then the NFL decided to make an adjustment to how ineligibles are announced. Odd, isn't it?

I have no issue with the League helping to clarify to the defense who is eligible and who is ineligible. I've heard Bill Belichick himself explain to media that it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to clearly hear what refs announce over stadium PA systems when you're on field level with 70,000 people screaming. So if the NFL wants to help the defense do their job, then so be it. Makes perfect sense.

What's odd is that there was no adjustment made for the conference championship games. And that the adjustment comes as the Patriots and the NFL find themselves in an adversarial position.

I'm not suggesting an anti-Patriots conspiracy in the aftermath of DeflateGate. But I do think DeflateGate might be a partial motivator of this change. The NFL wants this game on Sunday to be perceived to be as honest and clean as possible. While Belichick's ineligible trickery was within the rules, it worked because it was deceptive. In the wake of DeflateGate, the NFL might feel pressured (pun intended) to try to make the game appear to be as least deceptive as possible.

It's just so odd that this change wasn't made for the AFC and NFC title games. And that the League didn't wait until next season to implement it.

I'm trying to avoid jumping to conclusions, as everyone in sports media has been doing the last 2 weeks about Deflate Gate. I just wish/hope a reporter who has more access to decision-makers and league officials, can find it in themselves to ask the questions: Why now? Why not in the conference title games? If not in those games, why not next season?

I'm also very curious to know exactly when the NFL informed the Patriots and Seahawks about this new way of doing things. Was it before the teams started practicing for the Super Bowl? Or after? The answer to that question could either completely squash my interest in the subject, or intensify it. If the NFL told the teams early last week, then I'd accept that as fair and reasonable. But if it waited until the teams were in Arizona, and had already finished game-planning for the other, I'd question the timing.

There are few things in the Universe more annoying than a Patriots fan who is also a conspiracy theorist. The team here has won 3 rings, got caught cheating, and has still been close to winning a few more times, so whining and complaining should be kept to a minimum at all times. If the Pats lose on Sunday, I won't cry like the fans of so many other teams (See: Raiders). But the fact that the NFL decided to change how the officials announce eligible and ineligible receivers on the eve of the Super Bowl, and NOT for the AFC and NFC title games, strikes me as very odd.

Unlike some professional sports media in some recent stories, this amateur blogger won't jump to conclusions. Right now, I just have questions.

Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo

Tuukka Rask makes Islanders suck his stick

The Bruins might have made their final trip to Uniondale, NY (although, if the season ended today, the B's would be playing the Islanders in the first round). The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn next season, and the Bruins are trying to move up in the standings this season.

The Bruins won 5-2 behind a stellar performance by Tuukka Rask. But as stellar as Rask was, for some reason his efforts did not merit being named the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd star. Nevertheless, the Bruins goalie stopped 43 of 45 shots, a season high in saves. And one of those saves might be the stop of the season.

That save was a cold-blooded stoning. I can't even imagine how demoralizing it was for the Islanders. You have an open net to shoot at, and Tuukka Rask just goes "SUCK MY STICK!" Yeah, that's a big wide paddle, and he knows how to use it.

The Bruins have 33 games left on their schedule. They're 7 points behind Tampa Bay for the division and conference lead. That's a very surmountable deficit. Right now the focus has to be on making the playoffs. So for the Bruins it's all about points. Two points on Long Island is pretty good (the Islanders are 17-5-0 at home this year). Next the B's host the Kings on Saturday, who aren't very good this year and have only won 5 road games.

This is the time to accumulate points. The Kings struggle on the road, so beat them.

Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Thursday, January 29, 2015

To beat the Patriots, Seahawks can't wait until the second half

For the Seahawks to beat the Patriots on Sunday, they're either going to have to build a solid lead in the first half, or do something that no team has done since October: outscore the Patriots in the second half.

For 10 straight games the Patriots have dominated the second half. And most of those games were against good teams: Denver, Green Bay, Indy (twice), Detroit, Baltimore. The Pats scored 160 second half points in those games, allowing 46. If you're not good at math, that's an average of 16 to 4.6. In the last 6 games the Pats have allowed 2.7 points per game in the second half

Multiple choice question: Why have the Patriots been so strong in the final 30 minutes?

A) Offense
B) Defense
C) Special teams
D) Coaching
E) All of the above

I think the answer is E, but the numbers suggest that the defense is the biggest reason this team has improved so much in the second half. In other words, the offense plays very good in both halves, the defense plays okay in the first half, then dramatically improves in the second.

In the last 10 games the Patriots have put up 174 points in the first half, 160 in the second, a decrease of 1.4 points per game. The defense has allowed 114 points in the first half, only 46 in the second, a difference of 6.8 per game. So the offense actually gets slightly less productive in the second half, while the defense plays significantly better.

In fact, in 4 of the last 10 games, the defense has held opponents to 0 second half points. And they haven't allowed a second half touchdown in 7 of the last 10.

Those are just numbers, though. The eye-test is more convincing to me. And in the second half my eyes have seen this team make plays in all phases of the game. That's why I still say the reason they do so well in the second half is E, all of the above.

Against the Ravens it was coaching and offense that put up 21 points in the second half, and defense that held Baltimore to 10. In Week 16 against the Jets it was Vince Wilfork's blocked field goal and then the offense killing the clock that secured the victory. Against the Chargers, the defense won the game while the offense struggled.

What's been encouraging about this team since Week 5 is that they've been able to win different kinds of games in different ways. They're versatile. They improvise and they improve.

If the Patriots continue to play great in the second half, the Super Bowl might be decided by the time Katy Perry takes the stage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blizzard of 2015 might cost Gillette Stadium a future Super Bowl

While the Patriots went through the circus of Super Bowl Media Day, Winter Storm Juno dropped 22 inches of snow on their home in Foxboro. Other areas of Boston were covered by more than 30 inches. There were travel bans, the T shut down, schools closed, offices were closed, and events were cancelled.

Last year the success of the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey gave added hope to the prospect of Gillette Stadium hosting the big game someday. But if such a proposal is made in future hosting bids, people might point to Juno as a reason to avoid hosting the game in New England.

As much as I'd love for the Super Bowl to be played on Route 1 in Foxboro, you can't ignore the potential for severe weather to impact the event. And not just the game. The week leading up to the Super Bowl is a massive event in and of itself. Media Day, all the corporate hospitality parties, it's a circus. Moreover, teams need practice facilities, and they need to be able to travel to practice.

A Boston/Foxboro would, similar to the Super Bowl in NY/NJ, would be spread out. This means it would be reliant on people being moved from one place to another. Something that snow can make difficult, or even impossible.

The plan for a Boston/Foxboro Super Bowl would require people to stay in hotels in Boston, Providence, maybe even Hartford. One strong snowstorm could bring the whole show to a standstill. The corporate sponsors would have to cancel or reduce their events. The media could find themselves stranded in Connecticut on media day. Teams could find their practice facilities under 18 inches of snow.

Snow paralyzes transportation. And a Boston/Foxboro Super Bowl would be more dependent on transportation than any Super Bowl in history.

Now imagine the worst-case scenario: the storm hits on the weekend and impacts the game. Traffic getting into and out of Gillette Stadium is bad enough. Playing football in snowy conditions can be fantastic drama. But that's assuming that the team buses can even make the trip from whatever hotel in Quincy the teams stay at to the Stadium.

The Super Bowl is a monster with many moving parts. A snowstorm could paralyze that monster. All those moving parts generate money, which makes the monster attractive. But movement can be very difficult in New England in late January and early February.

So Juno might cost Boston/Foxboro a future Super Bowl. Then again, money has the power to shorten memories.

Photo Credit: John Wilcox

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Patriots broke a rule that shouldn't be a rule

Rules are rules. And if the Patriots altered the air pressure of the ball after the refs inspected them, then they deserve to be disciplined for circumventing a rule.

But why is this rule even a rule? Why can't teams inflate or deflate the ball as much as they want? Why limit them to between 12.5 and 13.5 lbs/PSI? If Tom Brady prefers to throw a football at 11 lbs/PSI, and Aaron Rodgers wants to throw a ball with 14.5, why is there a rule preventing them from doing so?

What unfair edge would be gained? Teams use their own balls. How could one team gain an advantage over the other if both teams are using the footballs they prefer?

What's the worse that could happen? Passing offense might be more efficient and prolific? It wouldn't be the first time a rule change favored the offensive side of the ball.

The NFL allows players to select which cleats they'll use. They let quarterbacks and receivers decide to wear gloves or not. They let everyone decide the types of facemasks they want to wear. Why is this piece of equipment different?

Furthermore, the NFL allows the outside of balls to be rubbed up, broken in, scuffed, and so on. If changing the outside of the ball is fair game, why is the inside of the ball so rigidly restricted?

Again, I'm not saying that rule breaking should be excused. But I think this particular rule should be examined. It's a stupid rule.

Photo Credit: Maddie McGarvey, The New York Times

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The NHL All-Star Game shouldn't be played in places like Columbus

The NHL All-Star Game isn't exciting to watch. Almost no checking, absolutely no defense, and puck battles that are more polite than ferocious. The game mood is more like afternoon tea, than the hot wings and beer feeling you normally get from a hard fought hockey game. It might be the worst all-star game of the 4 major sports. I'm sure the goalies would agree with me there.

While the game itself is of little entertainment value, the game's presence in a city can be like a religious revival. The Church of Hockey comes to town, bringing with it the game's most enthralling and invigorating preachers. And the fans in the host city get to bask in the game they love.

The problem is, too often the host city doesn't love the game. So they're not interested in basking. Like this year in Columbus. Or 2016's game in Nashville. In fact, 6 of 9 NHL All-Star Games will have been played in markets that aren't very interested in hockey: Nashville, Columbus, Carolina in 2011, Atlanta in 2008, Dallas in 2007, Florida in 2003.

Why does the NHL choose to go to these cities where hockey is a sideshow, instead of bringing the All-Star Game to markets that care about the game, where hockey is a main event?

Look at the last time Original Six teams hosted the All-Star Game: Montreal in 2009, Toronto in 2000, Boston in 1996, New York in 1994. Yes, it's been over 20 years since America's biggest city has hosted the All-Star Game. Chicago last hosted in 1991.

And when did Detroit - a.k.a. Hockeytown, USA - last host the game? Do you believe in miracles? Yes! It was 1980! It's been 35 years since Detroit hosted the NHL All-Star Game. Jaromir Jagr was 7. Gordie Howe had an assist! So did Phil Esposito. It was Wayne Gretzky's first All-Star appearance.

And outside the Original Six, Philly hasn't hosted since 1992, Pittsburgh since 1990, Edmonton since '89, Calgary in '85, Buffalo in '78. Places where people like to watch hockey, where people like to play hockey, where the All-Stars actually come from, don't get to host All-Star Games. But Columbus, and Nashville, and Raleigh do.

I get that the NHL wants to grow in these markets. But where they see the potential for growth, I see markets indifferent to the game. The NHL trying to grow hockey in these cities is like trying to grow corn in Alaska instead of Iowa. You make money by focusing on growing your strongest brands in your most fruitful markets. You take the All-Star Game to New York, to Chicago, to Toronto, to Calgary. You energize the cities that love the game.

There are about 20 markets where people truly enjoy hockey. The All-Star Game should go to these markets. The preachers of the game should focus on energizing the faithful in Detroit and Calgary, not on trying to convert the heathen non-believers in Nashville and Columbus.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DeflateGate of the Union

The Patriots played with deflated footballs on Sunday. Reports are coming out that 11 of the 12 balls on the Pats' sideline were under-deflated, by about 2 pounds of pressure. Sidebar: people really need to know the difference between pounds per square inch, and pounds as a unit of mass/weight.

I don't respect these actions. Nor do I disrespect them. I don't like that the Patriots did this, but I don't dislike them for doing it. Bill Belichick is still my second favorite sports figure of all-time (behind Pedro Martinez). Although as much as I like him, if I were playing poker with him, I'd cut the deck when he dealt.

You know, on more than one occasion I've broken the speed limit. I've been caught doing it a few times too. I paid my fines and saw my insurance premiums go up. When I was 17 I even got my license suspended because I got 2 tickets before turning 18. I also drank alcohol before I turned 21. I've never cheated on a girl, but I have been with girls who were cheating on their boyfriends.

What's that? You don't care? I understand. I don't really care about the Patriots deflating their balls. They cheated, they got caught, they'll have to pay for it. It's similar to the fines I paid for speeding. Or when a player jumps offside, they pay for it with a 5 yard penalty. Or if a player tests positive for amphetamines, they get suspended.

What's the appropriate punishment here? The NFL's rules prescribe a minimum of a $25,000 fine. That's just the minimum punishment. What about draft picks or suspensions?

I think suspending Belichick or Brady would be absurd. And yes, Brady is part of this. You can't just blame Belichick here. I think a hefty fine, and a loss of draft picks would be suitable punishment, and act as a deterrent to other teams. Because other teams do this. Which doesn't justify doing this, and doesn't mean anyone caught doesn't deserve punishment. But the notion that the Patriots have committed a unique crime is preposterous.

Does this tarnish Bill Belichick's legacy, or the Patriots'? In the eyes of people who already see it as tarnished, it does. However, the asterisk crowd was always going to find a way to diminish what Belichick and the Patriots have done the last 15 years.

In my eyes there is no tarnish, at least not to any part of the coach or the team that matters to me. Belichick's adherence to the rules was never a factor in me liking him. He is the best coach of the era and one of the best of all time. He pushes the rules and sometimes breaks them. He does everything it takes to win, which is a respectable philosophy that sometimes results in behavior that isn't respectable.

His job is to win. And the Patriots better win this upcoming Super Bowl. Because nothing is sadder than cheating and still losing.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Patriots would have crushed the Colts no matter what balls they used

Tom Brady holds the AFC Championship trophy after the Patriots beat the Colts 45 to 7
The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 to win their 6th AFC Championship in the Brady-Belichick era. The NFL is investigating whether the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs to be used by their offense, which could have made them easier to grip in wet conditions.

As far as DeflateGate goes, until I stop seeing words like "investigate" and "alleged," and see words like "found" and "confirmed," then I'm going not going to give weight to the story. Maybe I'll talk about the paranoid defensiveness of Patriots fans, or the eagerness of the media to find a juicy story, or the conclusion jumping of people who don't like the Pats.

I could formulate a joke about sour grapes, and include some wordplay with "wine" and "whine," but I'd rather talk about this game.

If the Patriots had used Nerf balls, this game would have still been a blowout. LeGarrette Blount would have run for 148 yards no matter how many PSI the air pressure in the ball was. And Julian Edelman would have still ran past Colts defenders like they were standing in mud.

Anyone who put money on James Develin and Nate Solder catching Brady's first TD passes of the game, you're filthy rich today.

The Pats defense blanketed the Colts receivers, forcing a horrible game from Andrew Luck (12 for 33, 126 yards, 2 INTs). They also pressured Luck, which can be dangerous because he's very good finding open guys when he's on the move. But the coverage held.

Some fun stats that illustrate how dominant this performance was:

First downs: Pats 28, Colts 17
First downs (non-penalty): Pats 27, Colts 13
Third down conversions: Pats 12 for 18 (plus 2 for 2 on 4th), Colts 3 for 11
Total plays: Pats 76, Colts 52
Total yards: Pats 397, Colts 209
Yards per drive: Pats 36.1, Colts 19.0
Time of possession: Pats 37:49, Colts 22:11

The only blemish was Brady's pick in the 2nd quarter, which turned into a penalty aided Colts scoring drive. And that one Red Zone trip (out of 7) that didn't result in a TD.

Flawless victory.

On to the two slowest weeks in sports: waiting for your team to play the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Patriots-Colts Drinking Game: AFC Championship Edition

Patriots play the Colts for the AFC Championship Sunday 1-18-2015
Another AFC Championship game. Another Patriots season that has extended deep into January, and hopefully into February. Another chance to do your job and get lubed up while watching the Pats do their job. Here's a drinking game to play while watching the game Sunday evening:

Anytime a commentator says:
"AFC" = take 1 drink from a beer
"Championship" or "title" = 1 drink
Something about the weather = 1 drink
A stupid pun or play on words involving "Luck" = 1 shot of liquor
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink
"Foxborough" = 1 drink
"Offensive line" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Jones" = 1 drink
A name that ends in "-ski" = 1 drink
"Jim" = 1 drink
"Phil" = 1 drink
"Job" = 1 drink

Anytime this happens:
Penalty = 1 drink
Penalty against Brandon Browner = 1 drink, 1 shot of liquor
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink (if drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade (why?), you can command others to drink, this power lasts until the next play)
Brady says all or part of "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink (if drinking a White Russian, you can command others to drink throughout the game)
Brady says a word beginning with "F" = 1 drink
Brady says a word ending with "-uck" = 1 drink
The Pats go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
The Pats run, but it's not Jonas Gray = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball = finish your drink, spike the container (bonus points for glass bottles)
Gronkowski spikes a Colt = drink an entire beer, last one to finish gets "thrown out of the club" (forced to stand outside for 5 minutes)
You're worried Gronk is hurt = alternate between drinking and praying, taking 1 drink from your beer between each word of prayer
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces and/or recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork scores a TD = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat a turkey leg
The Pats block a kick/punt = finish your beer, take a shot
Touchback = 1 drink
Kick or punt return = drink during entire return
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink

Anytime this is on screen:
The number 12 (including the scoreboard and clock) = 1 drink
Highlights from previous Colts/Patriots AFC Championships = drink during entire highlight
Peyton Manning = drink for 18 seconds (if eating chicken parm, you can command others to drink until the next commercial break)
Aaron Rodgers = drink for 12 seconds, the last person to notice and start drinking must dramatically limp around for the remainder of the game
A trophy (including representations of trophies, such as graphics on the field, or handmade trophies held by fans) = 1 drink per trophy
Jonas Gray on the sideline = 1 drink
Ty Law = drink for 24 seconds
Tedy Bruschi = drink for 54 seconds
Troy Brown = drink for 80 seconds
Brady and/or Belichick's playoff record/stats = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
Xavier Nixon (in person) = drink a 12-pack
A Boston College alumnus (Castonzo, Hasselbeck, Cherilus, or if you see one in the stands) = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink during the entire conversation
"Do Your Job" = 1 drink

So enjoy the game. Remember to get lubed up responsibly. And if you survive playing (which probably means you cheated), hopefully we'll be on to the Super Bowl.

Photo Credit:
John Wilcox

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ray Lewis was right about NFL rules

Ray Lewis made a great point about the NFL and its over-reliance on rules. But his point was lost because he pissed Patriots fans off.

There are two topics that are guaranteed to piss off New England fans: SpyGate and the Tuck Rule. Start talking about these, even in passing, even as a joke, and Pats fans will flip out.

And I don't know why. I'm a Patriots fan, and I don't care about either topic. In 2001 the rules gave the Pats a break and bailed Brady out of a game-losing fumble. So what? The Raiders still allowed the game-tying and game-winning drives. The Patriots still beat the Steelers then the Rams. And yes, the Patriots filmed opposing signals from the sideline. So? If you're dumb enough to think doing so made any significant difference, then you should be mad at your own teams for either not noticing it and blowing the whistle on the Pats, or for not doing it themselves.

We in New England normally don't care what Ray Lewis says or thinks, it's just funny to hear him talk. Just imagine him dressed as Abraham Lincoln, with a beard and a stovepipe hat, giving the Gettysburg Address...

Four score, and SEVEN years ago, OUR fathers... Now we are engaged, in a GREAT Civil War... this nation UNDER GOD, shall have a new birth, of freedom. And that government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE, shall not perish, FROM THE EARTH!!!! WHO'S HOUSE IS THIS? OUR HOUSE!!! WHO'S HOUSE IS THIS? OUR HOUSE!!! 

This is Robert E. Lee we're talking about, it's a chess game!

We all have a good laugh when Ray gets going.

But when he mentioned the Tuck Rule earlier this week, people in New England lost their minds.

In his recent remarks about how overly litigious the NFL has become, Lewis made the mistake of dwelling on the Tuck Rule. He argued that Tom Brady and the Patriots would be unknowns without the obscure rule. And he chose to do it the week after his former team was eliminated by the Pats. So his message was lost. Obscured, or obstructed, if you will.

And that's unfortunate because it was a good point. Rules were once meant to govern and control the game, now they define them. Rules used to focus on the clock and on formations and on player conduct and safety. People have been throwing and catching footballs long before rules existed to define when throws begin and end, when catches begin and end. But now the elemental parts of the game are being defined by rules. The basic parts that come together to make a game - throws, catches, tackles - are becoming complicated sequences of events. Dissecting a catch is like dissecting the Magic Bullet Theory in JFK. (fun fact: Arlen Specter, a nemesis of the NFL, came up with the Magic Bullet Theory when he was a junior prosecutor)

Throwing and catching are intuitive things. The NFL has turned them into complex, difficult to understand, even more difficult to explain concepts.

Football is something you're supposed to enjoy while relaxed, maybe even while having a few beers. You shouldn't need a philosopher and a lawyer in order to explain what a catch is to fans.

The Tuck Rule was a bad rule. It tried (and failed) to define what a throw is. But we all know what a throw is. We don't need rules to define it.

We don't need rules to define catches either. Rules for in and out of bounds are fine. Rules about clocks and formations are fine (although, not to John Harbaugh). Rules to define basic things that human beings have been doing for thousands of years? No, we don't need those.

So Ray Lewis was right.

Bruins somehow winning without Tyler Seguin

Bruins winger Loui Eriksson scores against the NY Rangers
The Bruins were struggling 10 days ago, and I explained why. My explanation had nothing to do with Tyler Seguin. I made four main points:

1. Tuukka Rask wasn't playing well
2. Milan Lucic wasn't playing well
3. The Bruins weren't dropping the gloves
4. The team couldn't make moves to improve because they were imprisoned in a cap jail they'd constructed themselves.

The Bruins have won 5 straight since I wrote that post. Why? Well, their winning, just like their losing, has had nothing to do with Tyler Seguin.

Tuukka Rask is playing better. The saves he made early in Thursday night's 3-0 win over the Rangers were the types of saves you'd expect a $7 million goalie to make. He's doing his job.

Lucic has awoken from his slumber. He's skating, he's getting involved in the play, and the result is production: 3 goals and 6 points these last 5 games.

The B's have 4 fighting majors in the 5 game winning streak. That doesn't include the two times Zdeno Chara threw punches against Paquette and Tampa Bay. The Bruins had 15 fights in their first 40 games. They have 4 fights in their last 5, which is more than twice the pace. More fights and more wins. Coincidence?

And finally, while the Bruins still find themselves in cap jail, with Peter Chiarelli facing the death penalty, the emergence of David Pastrnak was like a call from the Governor, arriving the moment before the switch was flipped and the electric chair turned on. The 18-year old came back from the World Juniors red hot, and has scored 4 goals in the last 3 games.

During this streak, the B's have beaten teams like Tampa Bay (1st in the Eastern Conference), and Pittsburgh (3rd in the East). They've won their way into the playoff picture, leapfrogged the Rangers Thursday night by beating them, and now find themselves 7th in the East.

And somehow they've done this without Tyler Seguin. Speaking of whom, the B's host Columbus on Saturday, then travel to Dallas to play Seguin and the Stars on Tuesday.

Do Rajon Rondo and Tyler Seguin hang out in Dallas, and if so, why isn't a film crew documenting their shenanigans?

Photo Credit:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How the Patriots could lose to the Colts

I'm feeling confident that the Patriots will beat the Colts on Sunday. And why not? They demolished Indy 42-20 a few weeks ago. The Colts beat a soft Cincinnati team and the crippled Broncos to get here. The Patriots' biggest weakness is protecting against a pass rush, and Indy doesn't have much of one. I could go on and on.

It seems impossible for the Patriots to lose.

Which is one reason it is possible. This Patriots team seems to play its best when they're doubted, not exalted. When people were asking Belichick if he was going to evaluate the quarterback position, this team annihilated the Bengals. When they were underdogs on the road in Indy, they threw the Colts around like ragdolls.

Yet when everyone expected them to beat the Dolphins in Week 1, they were embarrassed. When everyone expected them to crush the Jets in October and December, they won by 2 points, then by 1.

Combine overconfidence with a quality opponent like the Colts, and you get a recipe for disappointment.

I'm also worried about Bryan Stork's potential absence. The commonly held belief around town is that he won't be sorely missed because Indy doesn't have a formidable pass rush. So Stork's absence is being ignored. It shouldn't be.

The Pats dominated Indy 42-20 because the offensive line dominated Indy. With the loss of Stork, that decisive advantage becomes less decisive. In other words, the Patriots won so convincingly in November because of 5 offensive linemen. Those guys were the reasons they won. And one of the most pivotal of them will probably be on the sidelines Sunday. It's never good to lose one of the reasons you win.

I'm also concerned that the Colts will be able to go to the outside against the Patriots' defense. The Ravens did that with success last week, stretching the Pats with both running and passing plays.

Finally, the biggest reason the Patriots could lose to the Colts is if they beat themselves. And that's not very far-fetched. We've seen this team shoot themselves in the foot in big playoff games before. Welker's drops, Brady's intentional grounding in the Super Bowl, Chung's fake punt, the interception before halftime last week.

Then there's Josh "that's just what they'll be expecting us to do" McDaniels. The Patriots started the Ravens game with Brady under center, and with some handoffs. When they should have been throwing the ball out of the gun. The Colts struggle against the run, so maybe McDaniels will start with Brady in the gun and 5 WRs.

The Patriots should win. I think they will win. But you have to play to win. You have to show up and do your job.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Colts 24

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Peyton Manning's Diary: ouch my leg, ouch my heart

Dear Diary,
It happened again. Me and my team were played off again (Coach Tony taught me to call it that instead of that E-word that kind of rhymes with laminated). It's the ninth time that the NFL hasn't let me play more than one playoff game. I don't think that's fair.

It's not my fault either. Everyone says so. From Coach Fox (haha, sorry, every time I think of Coach Fox, I think of that "What Does the Fox Say" song, ding ding ding da ding da ding da ding), to Mr. Elway, to Coach Tony. I don't think it's my fault. My leg hurts. Trainer Steve and Doctor Martin say my quad is torn. I asked them which of my quads, my first, my second, my third, or my fourth. They told me I had 2. That doesn't make sense. I learned in school that quad means 4. So not only do I have a torn quad, I only have half the quads I should have.

I hurt it a few weeks ago. But we wanted to keep it a secret. When I saw Aaron Rodgers getting carted around like a cripple a few weeks ago, I called Mr. Elway and asked him why we didn't do that. He sighed, and said something about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers being drama queens and attention horses. I didn't get it. Our mascot is a horse, Green Bay's isn't. Their mascot is... well, I don't know what. And drama queens are actresses who play queens in movies and plays. Mr. Elway says lots of things I don't understand.

When I played with Coach Tony and the Colts, whenever I got hurt, we'd go out and get extra pizza after our normal post-game pizza party. It would be just me and Coach Tony. And if I hurt my leg, Jeff Saturday would carry me to the pizza place. The Broncos promised in my contract to do the same thing. But Mr. Elway and Coach Fox (lol, ding ding ding...) said that we should keep it a secret. "Chuck E. Cheese won't tell anyone," I told them. But they didn't want anybody to know I was hurt.

I decided to keep my hurt leg a secret from myself. So when we decided what plays to try, I chose plays we'd run if my leg was healthy. That way I wouldn't know I was hurt. And it would stay a secret.

Something was wrong though. I'd throw long passes to Emmanuel, and miss him. I couldn't figure out why, since I was still keeping my leg a secret from myself. So I threw long passes to Wes, to the two Tommies, to Emmanuel. If I had told my secret to myself, I would have been able to figure out why I wasn't able to throw to my teammates. Since I didn't, I wasn't.

Secrets can be bad. But you should always keep a secret. I kept the secret, even from myself. So I did the right thing, and that's why it wasn't my fault that we don't get to play anymore. Coach Tony always said that losing right is always better than winning wrong.

I asked Coach Tony the other day about all the secrets that mean Coach Belichick keeps. I asked if that makes Coach Belichick a good person. Coach Tony said not to worry, and that I would understand when I grow up.

I'm looking forward to playing football when it's warmer again. Summer football and football in fall is the best, because even if you lose, you get to play next week. I only wish I didn't have to go to cold places like Foxborough (this "fox" doesn't make me laugh) or loud places like Kansas City, where the people running the scoreboard make the people in the stands make noise.

I hate noise.

Next year should be fun with Coach Fox again. I think we will have a fun group of guys who will...

Oh my gosh, Diary! I was just watching a tape of people on ESPN talking about how great I am, and the ESPN people just said that Coach Fox is leaving!!!!

I don't know what to do. I need to call Coach Tony. Sorry, Diary. I hate to write and run, but this is just too much. I need to do something. What if they hire a mean coach. What if he's like mean Mr. Belichick?

Oh no, oh no, oh no!!!!!!

Hugs and kisses always, Diary. I'll miss you.

Your pal always,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Patriots got the big score and the big stop when they needed to

When was the last time we saw a Patriots team score when they needed to score at the end of a playoff game, AND get a stop when they needed a stop? Actually, let's give the Patriots' defense credit for 1.5 stops, holding the Ravens to a field goal the drive before Brady and the offense drove for the game-winning touchdown.

In the first Super Bowl against the Giants, the Pats got the score, but not the stop at the end.

In the 2006 AFC Championship game against Indy, the Pats couldn't score touchdowns in the 4th quarter to win the game. They couldn't get stops either.

So as frightening as this game started, both sides of the ball ultimately did their job.

The game-winning drive was vintage Brady. He distributed the ball to 6 different receivers. He ran for a first down. And he threw a beautiful pass to Brandon LaFell for the touchdown. Danny Amendola made the biggest play of the series on 3rd and 6, breaking a tackle, and extending the ball forward to secure the first down.

The previous drive, the defense made a goal-to-go stand to hold Baltimore to 3 points. Cris Collinsworth correctly said "The difference between a field goal and touchdown here may be the game." It was.

On Baltimore's next drive, the Ravens moved the ball, but not in the big chunks they wanted to. Time was ticking away. And a Joe Flacco jump ball was finally hauled in by a Pats DB. Live by the chuck, die by the chuck.

It's unfortunate that the Patriots were in a position where they needed both a score and 1.5 stops to win. The Ravens dominated the game for the first 10 minutes, and I was getting flashbacks of past playoff embarrassments at the hands of the Ravens and Jets.

But this time the Pats had Rob Gronkowski. He made 2 big plays on the Patriots' first scoring drive: a 16 yard reception on 3rd and 8, and that big 46 yard gain. Gronk finished with 7 catches for 108 yards and a TD. And who knows how much his presence on the field, and the attention he drew from the defense, helped other receivers get open.

I've often criticized the Patriots for trying to be too clever on offense. In the 3rd quarter they had just the right amount of cleverness. The Ravens couldn't keep up with who was an eligible receiver and who was ineligible. Vereen was ineligible when Brady threw to Hoomanawanui. But the play before, Hoomanawanui was the ineligible one. You didn't hear it on TV, but the ref announced "Number 47 is ineligible, don't cover 47." Then Hooman was eligible on the next play, and Vereen was announced ineligible. The Ravens got confused, and John Harbaugh threw a hissy fit. Harbaugh called it deception, but it was lack of attention. To quote Robert the Bruce's diseased father in Braveheart "You let yourself be deceived."

That drive ended in a touchdown. And we all remember the trick play a few minutes later, Brady to Edelman to Amendola. It was the whitest touchdown in the NFL since the color barrier was broken in 1946 by Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. It probably aggravated Harbaugh too, since it was another example of deceptive play. Harbaugh is probably lobbying the NFL to outlaw play-action as well.

The Patriots won the second half 21-10. They've been an excellent second half team this season. Since the Chiefs debacle, the Patriots have outscored opponents 204-104 in the second half, allowing an average of 8 points, and scoring an average of 15.7. Going forward, it would be nice if the Patriots didn't NEED an amazing second half in order to win.

The Patriots outscored the Colts 28-10 in the second half of their Week 11 meeting. And that's who they'll play in the AFC Championship game on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Friday, January 09, 2015

Patriots-Ravens Drinking Game: Divisional Round Edition

Saturday night. It will be cold. The game will be on. What else is there to do but sit by the fireplace, watch the Pats take on the Ravens, and get hammered? Drink your face off while everyone at Gillette freezes their asses off. Here's a drinking game to play while the Patriots play the Ravens:

Boston Blood Sox is not responsible for the illness, hospitalization, and death you will inevitably experience if you play this game.

Anytime a commentator says...
"We're on to..." = 1 drink from a beer
"Cincinnati" = 1 drink
"Frosty," "frigid," or anything cold related = 1 drink
The temperature = drink for as many seconds as there are degrees out
"Wind chill" = 1 shot of liquor
"Saturday" = 1 drink
"Night" = 1 drink
"Football" = 1 drink
"Round" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Contract" = 1 drink
"Terrell" or "Darrelle" = 1 drink
"Jones" = 1 drink
"Smith" = 1 drink
"Hoomanawanui" or any variation = 1 drink
Any name that ends in "-ski" = 1 drink
"Offensive line" = 1 drink
"Issues" = 1 drink
"Panic" = 1 drink
Something about the Patriots' early season struggles = 1 drink
Something about Joe Flacco's playoff record = 1 drink
The other commentator's name = 1 drink
Something about Edgar Allen Poe (Poe is on screen) = 1 drink, 1 shot (bonus points for drinking Amontillado)

Anytime this happens...
Penalty flag thrown = 1 drink
Penalty against Brandon Browner = 1 shot
Penalty flag picked up = finish your beer and say "How 'bout them Cowboys?"
Josh McDaniels calls a cute play = 1 drink
The play actually works = 1 shot
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink (bonus points for drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade, and you can command anyone else to finish their drink, but if drinking alone you must finish yours)
Brady says "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink (bonus points for drinking a White Russian, same authority as above)
Brady says any word beginning in F = 1 drink
Brady says any word ending in -uck = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
You want the Patriots to go no huddle but they're not = drink the entire time between snaps
Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball = finish your beer, then spike the empty to the ground (bonus points for glass bottles)
Danny Amendola catches a pass = an entire beer
Amendola celebrates another player's big play = 1 drink
You're worried that Julian Edelman is hurt = 1 drink
Edelman drops a pass = 1 drink
You're worried that Gronk is hurt = 1 drink
Gronk manhandles a Raven = 1 drink
Gronk manhandles a teammate = 1 drink
Gronk actually is hurt = finish your beer, drink a shot, then finish another beer, then go outside and cry
Brady gets hurried = 1 drink
Brady gets hit = 1 drink, 1 shot
Brady gets sacked = 1 drink, 1 shot, snort a line of painkillers
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Jamie Collins or Chandler Jones make a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces and/or recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork scores a touchdown = 1 drink, 1 shot, devour a turkey leg
The Patriots block a kick/punt = finish your beer
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink for the entire return

Anytime this is on screen...
Highlights of previous Patriots-Ravens playoff games = drink for the duration of the highlight
A graphic of previous playoff meetings = same rule, drink until it's off the screen
A thermometer = 1 drink, and the last person to take their drink has to stand outside for a minute
Ray Lewis (live or in highlights) = finish your beer, give an inspirational speech
Brady yelling = 1 drink
Belichick scowling = 1 drink
Jonas Gray standing on the sidelines = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time Kraft is talking
People ice skating or doing wintry things = go outside and stay outside until you finish your beer
Pedro Martinez = drink for 45 seconds
An Harbaugh = 1 drink
An angry Harbaugh = 1 shot
A replay of a ball maybe crossing a line, but since there's no sensors in the ball, these almost always incolcusive replays eat huge chunks of our lives = 1 drink per camera shot/angle, plus 1 shot if they zoom in on the ball
An actual raven = drop some molly, play with glowsticks (like a rave, get it?, bonus points if wearing a Welker jersey)
The words "Do your job" = do your job and finish your beer, and then whoever gets to the fridge first to get beers for everyone, gets to be Belichick and order people around until the next time Belichick is on screen.

Enjoy the game, and remember to get lubed up responsibly. And by that I mean designate a sober person to call 911 for you and contact your next of kin.

Clusterfuck 2024

You know that excitement and anxiety you feel before a big winter storm hits? That's what I feel like thinking about the impending Boston Olympics. There's a Nor'easter coming, and it's forecast to slam Boston in summer 2024.

Sullivan's Tap near the Garden, with its long bar, could host the fencing. The Gold's Gym next to Fenway could host the weightlifting. The beach volleyball could be held in Revere. We could have diving off the Tobin. Cycling on Brookline Ave, during rush hour. The 100 meter dash at Park Street, running between the Red Line and the Green Line. Hurdles over the panhandlers in Harvard Square. The balance beam on top of the Citgo sign. Water polo on the Fenway concourse when it floods.

Can you imagine the Opening Ceremony? Dropkick Murphy's played on repeat, Dennis Leary saying stuff quickly and bitterly, Rene Rancourt singing the anthem, and wall to wall Wahlbergs.

Do you watch the Summer Olympics? How much? All of it, or just some basketball, gymnastics, and of course beach volleyball? Well, Boston, prepare yourself to not only watch the games, but have all of them shoved in your face on a daily basis. You'll be drowning in the sweat of athletes. You'll have to be a judo blackbelt to fight the traffic. You'll have to be as flexible as a 75 pound Romanian gymnast to go through this ordeal without suffering a mental breakdown.

Boston's infrastructure can barely handle the strain of the daily commute. And it only takes one problem - such as a breakdown on 93, or a stopped train on the Red Line, or a fallen wire on the Commuter Rail tracks - for the whole house of cards to collapse.

Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics hinges on public transportation to move spectators, officials, and participants around the city. There will be no centralized Olympic Park. Everything will be spread out, mostly at facilities attached to the city's universities. Fencing will be at MIT, field hockey at Harvard Stadium, rowing in Lowell. Yes, Lowell.

The innovative plan requires that large amounts of money are donated to schools for buildings that will be used for the Olympics, then become part of the university. UMass Boston, for instance, wants to build new dorms. These buildings could be used as an athletes' village before being converted for use by college freshman to pass out in after drinking 4 Smirnoff Ices.

It would be a reinvention of how the Olympics are played and paid for. Which scares the hell out of me. I love innovation, but figuring out new ways to do things means making mistakes. Mistakes cost money. The people who want the Olympics here can quote prices all they want. But we here in Boston know better than anyone that estimates mean nothing.

Seriously, how can you estimate an accurate cost for something that's never been done before?

When considering the Olympics, you shouldn't try to weigh costs vs. benefits. You need to look into who will profit, and who will pay. Weigh the takers vs. the payers. Suffolk and other contractors will profit. And I'm sure the unions doing the work won't ask for more money or anything. The people on these committees will all make a tidy salary. Cops will rack up the overtime with security details (you pay for that). Someone might get a new soccer stadium out of the deal. Hotels will clean up. Local businesses will make some money. There will be part-time work available for a short period. And the State government will be able to tax all of this (the construction, the wages made by workers and cops, hotel rooms, sales tax).

Just remember, every dollar made comes from somewhere.

Frankly, I'm not sure Boston could handle the strain on its infrastructure, even if it is improved. Imagine Marathon Monday, every day, for weeks. Now imagine you had to get to work on that day. Imagine you had to get from A to B, but on the way were the crowds from the archery and the high hurdles trying to get to their events.

What's the worst that could happen? An already antiquated and overused Green Line could break down, delaying events, making people late for work. Or worse, a train could derail. At the very least, public transportation will become a massive pain in the ass, as opposed to what you feel riding the T normally: numbness with the occasional acute flare up.

I'm not sure Bostonians want to deal with that. But if they do, then go for it. All I know is that if I'm living in Boston in 2024, then I'll rent my place during the Olympics and take a vacation.

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Tyler Seguin free explanation of why the Bruins suck

The Bruins played two games against weak opponents over the weekend, and only got 2 points. The Senators had a losing road record, and the B's lost to them at home. The Hurricanes are the second worst team in the NHL, and the B's lost to them in a shootout. Want to avoid playoff hockey? Continue to lose points to poor teams.

Tyler Seguin's absence is not the reason the Bruins are 5th in the division, are a point out of the playoffs, and have allowed more goals than they've scored. The Bruins won the President's Trophy last year without Seguin. So winning without Seguin is possible. And having Seguin doesn't automatically cause winning. The Stars are also out of the playoffs. The 16 teams sitting in playoff positions all lack Tyler Seguins. Somehow, they can win without Seguin. The Bruins can also win without Seguin.

I'll agree that the Bruins should have gotten more in return for him, and that the lack of return for him is contributing to their current struggles, but his presence on this team would do little to improve some very serious issues. Such as...

Tuukka Time running out
Rask is 23rd in GAA (2.54) and 25th in save percentage (.911).

If Rask were caught wearing a Jeb Bush 2016 campaign button, I think fans and media would turn on him just like they turned on Tim Thomas. Rask's play isn't much better than Thomas' back in the 2011-12 season, when Thomas and his politics were blamed for the team's post-Cup struggles.

Rask hasn't been awful. But his job requires more than "not awful." His job is to help the team win. And he's not doing that.

He stopped 35 shots against Carolina Sunday, but the goal he allowed in regulation was a little soft. He's capable of doing better. He's capable of stopping that shot, and pitching a shutout to give his team 2 much needed points. And against Ottawa on Saturday the Senators' first goal over his shoulder was very stoppable. The B's probably win in regulation if Rask had done his job.

Seguin isn't a goalie, he wouldn't be able to help solve this problem.

Loafing Lucic a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty
Can someone slip some adderall in this guy's Gatorade to wake him up and get him focused? Lucic is just a lumbering oaf on skates these days. One goal and 4 assists the last 15 games. Did you even notice him in on the ice in those games? Only when the camera accidentally caught him wandering around the ice lost.

I don't care about the lack of scoring as much as I do about the lack of energy. Svedberg has skated more miles and with more intensity than Lucic this season. Lucic is not playing with any purpose.

Seguin is not a power forward like Lucic can be. Seguin wouldn't help.

No Shawn Thornton replacement. No fighters=no fight
Last year the B's were second in the NHL with 46 fighting majors. Today they're tied for 11th with 15, on pace for 31, a 32% reduction in fights. The Bruins are also on pace for a 23% reduction in points. Coincidence?

Shawn Thornton had 10 of those fights last year, and those were against the strongest, toughest fighters in the NHL. Those were the heavyweight bouts that got the blood pumping. This season Gregory Campbell leads the team with 4 fights. Lucic has 3. I guess Lucic's value as a scorer means he's too important to be fighting. Can't risk hurting those goal-scoring hands. Bobby Robins, currently playing in Providence, is third on the Bruins with 2 fights.

Fighting was part of this team's identity last season. Nine Bruins fought multiple times, 5 had 5+ fights. Even Bergeron dropped the gloves.

This team lacks energy. I understood not keeping Thornton, but the B's made no effort to replace him and the energy he brought both as a 4th liner and a fighter. Not replacing Thornton was like replacing your morning coffee with warm cream and valium.

Seguin doesn't fight.

Cap jail
The Bruins never made tough salary cap decisions until they were forced to before this season, trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders (who should rename their team: Lost). The B's didn't make compromises with who'd they sign, who'd they let go. They locked up their top 4 forwards, their top 2 defensemen (3 counting Boychuk), and their goalie.

Milan Lucic costs the team $6 million. He's on pace to score 12 goals. $500k per goal. That's a horrible rate.

Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson combine to make $7.25 million. So not only do the Bruins spend for their best forwards ($17.75 million for Bergeron, Lucic, and Krejci), they also spend for guys whose production could be replaced by players making a third as much.

Is Marchand a $4.5 million player? At times. But he's paid that salary all the time.

You can't just retain everybody you want. The Bruins did that for years, re-signing everyone who played well. We as fans praised it. We thought the B's were building a strong foundation. What they were doing, however, was building their own prison cell around themselves.

They now have overpaid, under-performing players, and lack the flexibility to make significant changes.

Here Seguin would help, because he's not making much money. But Chris Kelly would still be on the roster.

By the way, Bruins fans, stop giving Neely all the credit when moves work out, and Chiarelli all the blame when they don't. I know we all love Cam, and Chiarelli is just a guy in a suit to us, but let's not divide credit and blame based on fanboy love.

This team can play better than this. But if they haven't gotten their collective heads out of their collective ass by now, when will they? They see the standings. They see the calendar changing to 2015. They've seen Krejci and Chara return. What will it take to wake the proverbial bear? Will Jack Edwards need to sacrifice himself to the hockey gods by humping the third rail at North Station?

Even if that works and they make playoffs, I'm not optimistic about their chances for a deep run. Rask is not yet a proven playoff goalie. Marchand is awful in the playoffs. This team has no defensive depth.

Tyler Seguin isn't a goalie, so he can't help Rask. Seguin struggles more in the playoffs than Marchand has. Tyler Seguin is not a defenseman. So even with Seguin, this team would be facing playoff difficulties, if they can get their act together and make the playoffs.

Photo Credit:
Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

We're on to worrying about Baltimore

Baltimore. The Ravens. Dark wings, dark thoughts. Painful memories...

January 10, 2010 (which will be 5 years ago to the day on Saturday), Ray Rice abusing the Patriots like they were engaged to him, the Ravens scoring 24 in the 1st quarter, Brady throwing 3 picks.

January 20, 2013, the last meaningful game the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith taking advantage of Aqib Talib's injury. Joe Flacco throwing 3 TDs while Brady had a QB rating of 62.3.

Even January 22, 2012, when only a missed field goal prevented the game from going into overtime.

So yeah, there are reasons to not be thrilled to face the Ravens. Even though they're the 6th seed. Even though they were 6-6 this season against non-NFC South teams.

Joe Flacco's postseason resume is another cause for concern. Of the other AFC playoff QBs, only he and Roethlisberger have a fearsome playoff pedigree. Flacco is also a proven winner at Gillette. Hell, he's been significantly better than Brady in playoff games in Foxborough the last 5 years.

Psychological scars and matchup issues aside, if you can't beat the #6 seed, at home, then you don't deserve to win a Super Bowl. It's as simple as that. So while this is a relatively tough opponent for the Patriots to face, this is football, this is winter, it's supposed to be tough. It was tough in 2001 facing the Raiders, Steelers, and Rams. It was tough in 2003 and 2004 facing the Colts, Titans, and Eagles.

So let's move on from the past and focus on Saturday's game.

I'm going to be short and sweet in my analysis. The Patriots need to avoid the three Fs:

Fucking around
Fucking up
Fumbling (and throwing fucking picks)

The Pats can't play mediocre football for a half or 3 quarters, then hope to put it all together at the end. The clock in a playoff game moves unbelievably fast when you're playing from behind. So no fucking around, no waiting until after halftime to play your best.

Another thing the Pats can't fuck around with is play calling. Baltimore isn't good at defending the pass and were 4th best defending the run. So yes, Josh McDaniels, the Ravens will be expecting you to throw the ball. And that's okay. It's okay to do what they expect, because the reason they expect it is because they're not good at stopping it.

When Josh McDaniels was a young child, I bet he poured sugar on slugs, because he figured the slugs expected salt.

No fucking up starts with not letting Tom Brady get killed. Don't run plays that require Brady to sit in the pocket for 30 seconds while a receiver makes a double move or a crossing route develops. Short quick passes will keep Brady on his feet. Not doing so would be a colossal fuck up.

No Wes Welker style drops. No missed field goals. No botched snaps. No Patrick Chung fake punts. No blown coverages or missed tackles that result in 40 yard gains. No unnecessary penalties.

Last but certainly not least, protecting the football is of paramount importance, more than in most games. In the three recent playoff games against Baltimore, the Pats turned the ball over 10 times. Baltimore only turned it over 3 times. The Pats don't need to win the turnover battle to win the game. But if they don't lose the turnover stat, then it will be nearly impossible for the Ravens to win the game.

As physical and tough as the Ravens are, as well as Flacco has played in Foxborough, this is still the Patriots' game to lose. If they avoid getting cute, play a full 60 minutes, don't make massive mistakes, and keep the ball in their hands, they should win.

My prediction: Patriots 27, Ravens 17

Photo Credit:
Don Wright/Associated Press

Friday, January 02, 2015

Oregon players shouldn't make light of rape accusations

You shouldn't make light or fun of something as heavy and serious as rape accusations.

After Nike's corporate football team, a.k.a. the Oregon Ducks, beat Florida State in the Rose Bowl Thursday night, a few players were seen and heard mockingly singing "No means no" to the tune of FSU's War Chant.

I don't like Jameis Winston, so I don't care about him being mocked. He's arrogant, immature, spoiled, whiny, and stupid. And I can't like anyone who says something like this:

"The only thing as vicious as rape is falsely accusing someone of rape."

In Winston's mind, being falsely accused of rape is the same as being raped. Winston thinks what he's gone through is just as "vicious" as if some guy had forcefully penetrated him against his will. I wonder if he'll have nightmares, difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, or other symptoms of PTSD after being accused of rape. Hopefully he can find a good shrink or support group and one day get over the viciousness of the ordeal he's had to go through, which in his mind is the same as the ordeal rape victims go through.

I understand liking Winston as a football player. I don't understand liking him as a person.

Anyway, back to Oregon players making light of all this. Oregon says they will discipline the players. I don't know how you can effectively discipline college football players apart from benching them or revoking their scholarship. You can't really fine them. What else are you going to do? Give them detention? Even more laughable, take away academic credits? Or hold them back a year (also known as redshirting)?

In college football, the athletes (and sometimes the coaches) have all the leverage in the disciplinary situation. And poorly disciplined teams frequently succeed (see: Florida Gators). So long as the cash flows, and the donors buy a new uniform every week, discipline is a secondary issue.

Just look at the stupid actions of Jameis Winston that were proven. The crab legs. The fuck her right in the pussy. Those are great examples of discipline being secondary. And in theory, you'd think someone falsely accused of rape, who nearly saw all his life's dreams taken from him, would learn a lesson about how he behaves. You'd also think that someone who got away with a crime would continue to act with abandon. Which one of these two does Jameis Winston act like?

I don't care about Winston being mocked. But I can't laugh about this particular mock. The Oregon players just seem too happy making a joke about a possible rape. That's not something to laugh about. Doing so is fucked up.

Anyone who has seen my Twitter feed (@BostonBloodSox) probably knows that I too crack jokes about Jameis Winston, Florida State, and the Tallahassee PD.

My jokes, however, are cynical observations of the absurdity of the case. I don't laugh or smile when I post them.The whole situation is so ridiculous, and such a sad joke in and of itself, that the only way you can talk about it without feeling dangerous levels of toxic rage is to joke.

Another example of a cynical joke about this particular story: If the Tallahassee PD investigated whether or not these Oregon players made this mock chant, even with video evidence, it would take them 2 years and the investigation would be inconclusive.

Another one: If an FSU player made a video like this, he'd delete it for some reason, and nobody would question why it was deleted.

These aren't jokes to elicit laughter. These jokes are meant to point out how tragically silly and painfully stupid the situation is.

A girl's extreme drunkenness is used to question the reliability of her story, yet somehow as drunk as she was, she was able to willfully give consent? Furthermore, I know the principle of innocent until proven guilty, yet for some reason in rape cases, the accuser is guilty of being a dirty lying slut until proven innocent. And if it involves someone famous then said hoe is even less likely to be telling the truth.

It's a joke that Winston thinks being accused of rape is "as vicious" as being raped. It's a joke that ESPN uses euphemisms like "off-field distractions" to describe the case. It's a joke that some in the media and many fans are 1,000% certain of Winston's innocence, there's no doubt at all, as if they've been present for all of Winston's sexual encounters and know for a fact that they've all been consensual. Then these people point to an unmotivated, poorly executed police investigation as evidence of this 100% certainty of innocence.

The Tallahassee PD's investigation into the accusation is the biggest, worst joke of all. Read the NY Times piece exposing how poorly it was conducted. Then imagine your sister or girlfriend or wife or mother accusing someone of rape, then watching your local police investigate it with minimal effort and in almost complete doubt of the accuser, Tallahassee Style. You'd be enraged.

Rage. Frustration. Disappointment. Cynicism. Those are appropriate reactions. Not laughter and smiles, along with joking mock chants.