Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The NFL is now a safe space for snowflakes

NFL owners are not trying to preserve honor and respect for the American flag. They are trying to make the NFL a safe space with limited speech, and protect a legion of easily upset fans so they don't throw a tantrum and change the channel because something made them mad.

The League has every right to do this. In this great country, you have the absolute right to prioritize profit over morality. You can suppress protests, then sell patriotism to stuff your pockets with cash as much as you want. It's a free country.

And if you can do so while accepting public funds for stadiums, so much the better. Hooray for private enterprise!

But now the NFL is akin to ultra-thin-skinned universities where safe spaces protect people from thoughts and opinions they are offended by. The snowflakes on the right are just as delicate and sensitive as those on the left. They need rules and regulations to protect them from the realities of the world.

Anyone embracing this rule is as dainty and weak as a college student offended by the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Tuukka Rask Problem: Rask gets worse as series get longer

As series grow longer, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask's performances get worse. His splits in playoff series speak for themselves.

Games 1-4 Games 5-7
Record: 27-13 6-12
GAA: 1.93 2.77
SV%: 0.936 0.904

In his Game 6 starts, Rask is 1-5, with a .901 save percentage and 2.82 GAA. It gets worse in Game 7, where Rask is 1-2, with an .849 SV% and 3.63 GAA.

Why is this? I wouldn't go so far as to say Rask is a choker. He's allowed some soft goals in the playoffs but he doesn't typically have meltdowns in big games.

However, opponents do seem to figure him out as they play against him. After getting 100 or so shots on net, teams seem to know where the gaps will be.

Rask, at 176 pounds, is more prone to having leaks than bigger goalies who have more surface area to protect the net. It makes sense that after 4 or 5 games of trying to find those holes, other teams figure out where they are. For example, in Saturday night's Bruins loss, the Leafs successfully went high on Rask and chased him from the game. And unfortunately, Rask doesn't seem to be as good at figuring his opponents out, as they are at figuring him out.

With Rask in net, if series get past 5 games, the Bruins are 2-4. Rask hasn't won a Game 6 since 2010 against Buffalo.

If he doesn't win tonight's Game 6, and then the following Game 7, it's time for the Bruins to look for a new goalie.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs Game 3 quick reactions

It's a series again. This is why the Stanley Cup playoffs are by far the best playoffs in North American sports. Quick thoughts about the Bruins' 4-2 loss in Toronto Monday night:

1. Toronto didn't suck for 60 minutes
As amazing as the B's looked in Games 1 and 2, especially on offense, Toronto played like garbage in those games. Full credit to the Bruins for taking that trash out to the curb, but now the Leafs have showed up and played like an NHL team. And the Bruins had trouble overcoming that.

2. The refs sucked, but Bruins lost on their own
The weird non-icing calls, the bad delay of game call, the refs were awful. So what? It's not like the Bruins dominated this game otherwise. It was a back and forth tilt, Bruins didn't do enough to win with or without shaky officiating.

3. Rask wasn't great
It is not unfair for me to ask a supposedly great goalie to give us a great performance. Rask wasn't a big reason why the Bruins lost, but he didn't do enough to be a reason for them to win. That's his M.O. in the playoffs, and I'm sick of it.

4. Bruins need offense from more than one line
Toronto used the last shift to set the match ups they wanted and cool off the red hot Bergeron line. The B's 4th line did their job, but there wasn't much offense from the other forwards. It'll be tough to go deep with only one line scoring goals.

5. Bruins need to find a way to win grinding games
The Bruins have the offensive skills to cycle and score. They're one of the best teams in the NHL at that. But are they one of the best at grinding too? They'll need to be. This was a physical game with every play contested, every body on a body. The Bruins weren't physically dominated BUT they didn't physically dominate either.

Can they do better than play to a stalemate in such a rough game?

We'll see.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Patriots vs Eagles Drinking Game: Super Bowl Edition

Patriots in the Super Bowl again. Feels like a sequel to Groundhog Day where the protagonist over and over lives the same football season every year. Patriots start out as favorites, meet adversity, get dismissed by pundits, win a few games, Pats haters whine about something, ESPN makes outlandish claims, Pats win two playoff games, two weeks of media garbage, concluded with a thrilling football game.

History will be made on Sunday. No player has ever won 6 Super Bowls. No player wearing an Eagles jersey has ever won a Super Bowl. One of those things will happen Sunday. With this drinking game, you too can make history. You too can be the GOAT of Sunday evening drinking and Monday morning hangovers. There are no days off when it comes to abusing your liver.

So get lubed up, do your job, and we're not done (drinking).

Anytime a commentator says:
"Super" = take 1 drink of beer
"Bowl" = 1 drink, bonus points for hitting a bowl
"Fifty" = 1 drink
"Two," "too," or "to" = 1 drink
"Minneapolis" = 1 drink
"St. Paul" = 1 drink, say a prayer
"Twin cities" = two drinks
"Minnesota" = 1 drink

"Concussion" = finish your beer, slam can/bottle against skull
"Protocol" = 1 drink, then go inside a tent for 5 minutes
"Rob" = 1 drink
"Gronk" = 1 drink
Name that ends in "-ski" = 1 drink, eat some Polish kielbasa

"History" = 1 drink
"GOAT, greatest, best, etc." = 1 drink
"Tom" = 1 drink
"5-time" = drink for 5 seconds
"6-time" = drink for 6 seconds
"Champion" = 1 drink

"Bill" = 1 drink
"Malcolm" = 1 drink
"Brandon" = 1 drink
"Nate" = 1 drink
"Steven" = 1 drink

"Cris, Chris, etc." = 1 drink
"Al" = 1 drink
"NBC" = drink for as many seconds as your local NBC station (e.g. 7 seconds for channel 7)
"Here's a guy" = finish your beer

Anytime this is on screen:
Roman numeral = 1 drink per numeral/letter (so LII is 3 drinks, VIII would be 4)
Lombardi trophy (real or image of) = 1 drink per trophy
Super Bowl logo (any year) = 1 drink per logo
Vikings logo = 1 drink per horn (bonus points for drinking mead)
Ice or snow = 1 drink (bonus points if drinking cocktail with ice cubes)

Bill Belichick not talking = 1 drink
Bob Kraft talking = 1 drink
Josh McDaniels holding tablet or sheet = 1 drink
Matt Patricia = 1 drink, put pencil behind ear, first person whose pencils fall out drinks entire beer
Ernie Adams = 1 shot of gin
Green Man = 1 drink per man
Dog mask = 1 drink per dog
Roger Goodell = finish beer, throw it at TV

Highlights from previous Super Bowls = drink during entire highlight
Replays of Gronk concussion = 1 drink, 1 shot
Carson Wentz on sideline = 1 drink
Wentz highlight = 1 shot
Any kind of injury report or list = 1 drink per injured player

Anytime this happens:
Penalty = 1 drink per penalty yard
Touchback = 1 shot of liquor
Kickoff/punt return = drink during entire return
First down = 1 drink of beer
Turnover = finish your beer
Field goal = 3 drinks
PAT = 1 drink
Missed kick = 1 shot

Brady points out the "mike" linebacker = 1 drink, bonus points if drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade (but only if you're a girl and/or weigh less than 160 pounds, if not it's negative points)
Brady says "alpha milk" = 1 drink, bonus points if it's a White Russian
Brady throws pass to a non-WR = 1 drink
Patriot besides Brady throws a pass = 1 shot
Brady gets pissed at himself and/or others = 1 drink

Gronkowski catches pass = 1 drink
You're worried Gronk is hurt = 1 drink, 1 shot
Gronk actually is hurt = 1 drink, 1 shot, enter alcohol abuse protocol
Gronk scores = finish your beer and Gronk spike it (bonus points for glass)

Danny Amendola gets the ball in a non-receiving way (run, throw, return) = 1 drink
Amendola makes a clutch catch = finish your beer
Dion Lewis or James White gets the ball in a non-running way (catch, return) = 1 drink
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Slater downs the ball inside the 20 = 1 drink for each yard inside the 20 (5 yard line = 15 drinks)
Slater lines up at WR = 1 shot
Bernard Reedy is on the field = entire beer
Kenny Britt catches a pass = finish beer
Dwayne Allen thrown to = finish beer

Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink at first snap, 2 at second snap, 3 at third, etc.
Patriots try a trick play = 1 drink
Patriots successful with trick play = 1 drink, 1 shot
Patriots score TD on trick play = whole beer, 1 shot, 1 glass of wine

Eagles player acts like they're flying = 1 drink
Eagles fumble the ball = 1 drink
LeGarrette Blount runs someone over = 1 drink, bonus points for hitting a blunt
Jay Ajayi runs 10+ yards = 1 drink, bonus points for smoking a jay
Chris Long makes a tackle = 1 drink

Justin Timberlake exposes a body part = 1 drink per part
You hold in a piss during the game AND commercials = 1 drink per play, 1 drink per commercial
A commercial tries to be funny but fails = 1 drink
You flip over to Puppy Bowl = 1 drink per puppy on screen

So enjoy the game. Then enjoy the ambulance ride, then the hospital visit, then the morgue. Your funeral procession can be like your own personal championship parade for winning this drinking game. The hearse is like a duckboat.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Patriots the most exciting team ever?

Are the Patriots from 2001-present the best team in sports history? Probably not. Definitely not. The Yankees dominated baseball for decades at a time. The Celtics in the 1950s and 60s were essentially unbeatable. Best team ever? No way.

But has there ever been a sports team as captivating as the Patriots? Has any team drawn so much interest or generated such passionate sentiment (good and bad)? Haters and fans alike gravitate to what's happening in Foxborough, Mass., as if there's some sort of natural magnetic force luring their attention.

And the on-field product is excellent, especially compared to the rest of the crap you see around the NFL. Despite being favorites in almost every game, the Pats find ways to play close, exciting football on the big stage. They've been a part of more of the best games you've ever seen than you realize.

They've won 5 Super Bowls, by an average margin of 3.8 points. Only 19 points separate them from 5-time champs to 0-time champs. And if you add the two losses to the Giants, the Pats have only outscored their SB opponents by a total of 12 points. That's an average of being +1.71 ahead per game.

Recently, there's Sunday evening's 4th quarter comeback against Jacksonville. The heavily favored Pats were underdogs with 15 minutes remaining, with no Gronkowski, and a QB with a cut thumb. Instant classic.

This coming off of last year's ridiculous Super Bowl comeback. And then two years earlier there was Malcolm Butler's goal-line INT.

Even when the Pats lose, they give America unforgettable games. David Tyree's catch does not get remembered as vividly by football fans if it had not been against the 18-0 Patriots.

The Pats are a gripping story between games as well. Has a thumb been obsessed over as much as this past week? What about ESPN's story about "trouble in paradise" among the Pats' triumvirate of Brady, Belichick, and Kraft? DeflateGate became a national network news story. So did SpyGate.

The Patriots are must-see-TV on Sunday, and water cooler talk all week.

So Pats fans, enjoy it. These times don't last forever so revel in how fun it is to see an exciting team play exciting games, and win them in exciting fashion.

And Pats haters, enjoy it too. When this is all over you'll find football less entertaining without villains like Brady and Belichick. Imagine Star Wars without Darth Vader, Batman without Heath Ledger's Joker, No Country for Old Men without Anton Chigurh. Pats haters are all Captain Ahabs, giving futile chase to White Whales. Little do they know that without a whale to chase, things will get a lot less interesting.

Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports

Friday, January 05, 2018

Seth Wickersham "beginning of the end" piece proves sports world revolves around Patriots

ESPN's Seth Wickersham's "Beginning of the end" piece on the Patriots claims there is a power struggle at the highest level of Pats' leadership: among the owner, the GOAT coach, and the GOAT quarterback. True or not, what the report conclusively proves is that the sports world is obsessed with everything the Patriots do.

Many of the pieces to Wickersham's puzzle seem to fit. I can imagine Bill Belichick grumbling about being coerced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. I can imagine Tom Brady being worried about the security of his position as starter. I can imagine Robert Kraft interfering in an effort to alleviate tensions and to make his star QB happy. So there's a possibility it's all true.

But there's more than a possibility that the Patriots are the center of the sports world. That's an absolute certainty.

Even when they don't play, they're the top story. Just a whisper of dissension in Foxborough, and it's breaking news. The narrative of Garoppolo's success in San Fran is told as a Patriots' story. DeflateGate was national network news, not just sport news, and it endured for months. Compare that to the brief amount of time spent discussing the Seahawks violating concussion protocol (the media spent less time on that than Russell Wilson spent in the medical tent). People are obsessed with everything the Patriots do.

So while other New England fans might fret about tension behind the scenes, while other New England fans start blaming Bill or Tom or Bob for a breakup which hasn't happened yet, I'm just going to enjoy the fact that the sports world orbits around Foxborough, that Gillette Stadium is the center of the football universe. I'll enjoy it, because 20 years ago the Patriots were barely relevant, and 2 years from now the same might be true again.