Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome 2009!

Happy New Year! To the twelve people who read my blog on a consistent basis, all the best for the new year and stay safe.

To everyone else, no, I'm not that bitter and sarcastic in real life. Believe it or not...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lulz-akers: I can haz NBA Championchip!!!11!!1!

So, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll realize that the one thing that I enjoy making fun of is over the top comments surrounding sports. And I need go no further this morning than the Lakers' victory over the Celtics.

Typically, the response from Boston fans was the usual "we suck" BS that is foisted upon us by WEEI and it's endless stream of Chicken Little callers and "I hate sports" hosts. But I keep forgetting how endlessly amusing Lakers fans are. This is group whose response to losing the NBA title in June was to bash the officials (which apparently - after the atrocity the officials put forth last night where the C's had 2 free throws the ENTIRE FIRST HALF - only they are allowed to do), make a variety of inane comments about how the championship was tainted by the Celtics "buying" a title (ever heard of "trades"?) and offer grim predictions that make me think they've somehow confused Andrew Bynum with Shaq. Well, apparently, they're no more lucid when they win. A few common threads from our friends in La-la land:

1. "This win was 'revenge'." If this is true, why weren't they awarded a title? If you want to "avenge" losing the NBA title, shouldn't you take the title away from the Celtics?

2. "(Celtics player's name here) is a dirty player." Apparently, the ref believes you.

3. "This is proof that the Lakers are awesome and will win the NBA title going away." It's December. If this is such a truism, I'll be attending the Stanley Cup parade next week. I understand that the months all blend together in southern California when you have no weather, but check your calenders.

4. "Celtics fans are living in a fantasy world." A fantasy where the defending NBA champions are 27-3? Umm, no. That's reality.

5. "This is a measuring stick game!" No, not really. It's one game. A true measuring stick is a 7 game series. We have a while to go. I will tell you that the Celtics weren't sharp last night and that MIGHT have something to do with the loss.

In summary, it's December. I know of no sport where titles are won in December. We have to wait about 6 months to figure out who will win the NBA title. But please: keep amusing us all with your insane Lul Catesque missives about how awesome Kobe is and how much Boston sucks. Because I seem to remember reading the same garbage last June. How'd that turn out, ultimately?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch/You'll shoot your eye out!

Dear Red Sox fans,

First off, Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukah/Festive Festivus, whatever.

Second off, calm down. Relax. We go through this every year. I know that not signing Texiera and the apparent paralysis of Red Sox management to sign ANYONE AT ALL this year is frustrating, but we're getting too down on the team right now.

I understand that a certain third place team in the Bronx just got a whole lot better, basically by making obvious free agent signings they could afford. Yes, the Be-Pinstriped Ones will be much better next year. But they do that every year. How is this morning any worse than the morning following the Sabathia signing? How on earth is this different from the pick ups of A-Rod and Giambi?

Are Red Sox fans really dumb enough to NOT remember these things happening? And remembering how it didn't lead to a 27th World Championship for You Know Who (and I don't mean Voldemorte).

Don't these spending sprees usually back fire?

Everyone needs to calm down, relax and remind yourselves: it's only December.

Hugs and kisses,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Do we share the same brain? "I want to be a dentist!"

More good things other people wrote

Again, I'm on the same page with someone. Scary, eh?

How actual Boston fans think: "No one will believe Santa Claus was captured by Martians!"

I get the impression that I'm not alone as a Boston fan. Most fans do at least have a passing interest in the teams in the four major sports (yeah, I count hockey. Bite me, ESPN.) and want all the teams to do well. While I will concede that the Red Sox are the most popular team in town, I don't think this means that no one cares about the other three teams. The interest just goes up and down: I love the Bruins, but trust me, I wasn't planning my evenings around them a few years ago when they were dead in the water. The same could be said about the pre-KG Celtics who were trying very hard to lose their way into a lottery spot.

I'm bringing this up because I think the general population of the United States thinks that Boston is a "bandwagon" town. They also think American Idol is a good show and Britney Spears is interesting (hee hee). This is wrong. With the exception of a few insane fan bases, you don't see too many teams selling out buildings when they're lousy. A good example was the barren mausoleum that the Patriots played in last week. Gee, and here I was thinking the Raiders had a rabid group of fans? The point is, when the teams suck, the fans aren't going to pay exorbitant ticket prices to see them play. Boston fans are no different from any other sports fans in America in this regard. I also love the idea that the Patriots had no fans until 2001. In reality, the current interest in the team started with Bill Parcells in 1993. Get your facts straight. Also, the interest in the Red Sox pre-dates 2004. Try 1967.

If you want to trash the people who just suddenly remembered the Celtics existed after 15 years, go right ahead. But not all of us forgot them. We just weren't filling the Fleet/Garden to see ML Carr, Rick Pitino and pre-KG Doc Rivers attempt to get lottery picks.

I also take umbrage at the concept that we spend all of our time whining about officials. The reason this gets brought up is the outrage over the level of officiating in the NBA play offs last year. I'm sorry, but everyone complains about the officiating in the NBA. It's genuinely inexplicable. Sorry, but Boston fans - as well as the fans of the other 30 odd teams in the NBA - have a point here.

The idea that New Englanders are rioting idiots is also untrue. Most of the rioting seems to take place on or around college campuses. I don't know how many people remember college, but there was a lot of drinking and a lot of idiocy going on in the evenings. The fact that in a college town, college kids are making asses of themselves is a non-story. That they shouldn't be out pulling this crap is a given. But labeling Boston fans as European soccer hooligans is humerous, especially with all the kids who are going to school here from out of state. The guy who works 9-5, five days a week isn't over turning cars on Huntington Avenue.

Last, and most obvious: I can pronounce the letter "R". And most of the rest of my fellow fans can as well. We just choose not to.

See everyone? We're a lot alike. Let's all join hands and sing a jaunty tune!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Bruins vs. Celtics Debate: "Marley was dead to begin with."

Let the debate continue... and then end.

I'm not offended by this article. I'm offended by the existence of it. Why not enjoy the fact that both teams are successful? Why do we have to rank everyone?

This isn't the first time the Globe has pulled this crap: they celebrated the Celtic's NBA title by reminding everyone about the popularity of the Red Sox. Did they think we all forgot? It's possible to root for multiple teams in multiple sports.

As someone who roots for and loves all four major Boston sports teams, these conversations make no sense to me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fall out from PC/URI: "I never thought it was such a bad little tree."

From the PC Sucks board

From the I Hate Tim Welsh Society

Fortunately, two groups of fans griping about one thing or another is the worst thing that happened this year. In past we had the Rhody mascot beaten up in a bathroom, the PC mascot attempting to distract URI's cheerleaders and various atrocities - most of them blown far out of proportion by the incredibly whiny president at Rhody. As nasty as it does seem, this is a fairly mellow conversation compared to year's past.

There are two points that get brought up again and again in these arguments. The first is the renovation of the Dunkin Donuts Center. URI fans are enraged that state funds went to "fix" this facility. The problem with their argument is that unless they really hate the Providence Bruins - the main tenant of the Dunk - they really don't have much to complain about. Since the Baby B's are the going to be the prime benefactors of any improvement done to the Dunk, they should be the ones criticized. The tax money in Rhode Island is probably going to to things about 9,000 times stupider. Why then the four year crying jag about this?
Because PC would benefit from the renovations, and God forbid that ever happen. They want to punish PC because they hate them. That's pretty much the end of the argument. For a PC fan, reading any thread on the Projo board is the equivalent of banging your head against a desk over and over again. Banging your head is probably more productive as well. I see that 4 years of complaining about the Dunk renovations on a message board didn't work. Funny that. All the moronic "Pee Cee" comments in the world didn't suddenly lead to PC's summary eviction from the Dunk. (I don't know, maybe if it wasn't the same 10-12 mouth breathing cretins complaining about the Friars non stop, someone would take them seriously. I don't know...)

Now for the twits in my own fan base: the Friars are not in the position to be ending this rivalry or telling Rhody that PC will now be hosting all future match ups. I don't care if URI is a "crappy A-10 team". PC is a crappy Big East team. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Friars didn't suddenly turn into UCLA. Blame Tim Welsh all you want, but the the team hasn't done anything in the post season since 1997. Each and every year, the team completely lost the plot once March rolled around. If PC was Duke, it would be easy to tell URI to pound sand. But it isn't like PC is a far better program that URI. In fact, they're probably about equal, save that PC is in a better conference. How the hell do you look down on Rhody after the past 10 years?
Besides which, should PC be able to win at the Ryan Center before they even think of dismissing the home and home aspect of this rivalry? My suggestion for PC fans who hate having their team's RPI dragged down by Rhody is this: Beat them. Then the other solutions will present themselves. There's no reason to suspend this match up or move it exclusively to the Dunk. I also think two PC/URI games every year is silly.
As far as the PC AD bending over backwards to make URI welcome and not getting a reciprocal deal at the Ryan Center, this is the same crew that schedules home basketball games at the same times as home hockey games.

One last thing, I will never understand Rhody fans who refuse to go to Providence and PC fans who refuse to go to North Kingston. It's a 40 minute drive. I drive longer than that to go to work every morning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

PC Hockey: Too much!!

For Brown, at least.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Mayor's Cup Champions!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two rivals: Out you two pixies go through the door or through the window!

Apparently, it is rivalry week in Friar Country, an event so momentous that it nearly escaped by attention. As I intimated about a month ago, PC really lacks a truly consistent rival in ice hockey. The same is not true in basketball. The Dribbling Friars (which just sounds wrong, doesn't it?) have the University of Rhode Island Rams, a team that not only plays the Friars even, but who has a fan base that intensely dislikes PC and everything about it! Awesome! It also helps that - unlike with BC, BU, Brown, and UNH in ice hockey, PC has a winning record against Rhody and thus is the obstacle - a nice change from the hockey team.

It helps that PC fans actually acknowledge Rhody as a rival. This comment might be disputed by some Rams fans, I do get the impression that PC fans legitimately care about winning this game. While some arrogantly assume that PC should "always" win this contest, in reality I think most of us realize that this is going to be a tough contest (especially at the Ryan Center where URI never misses a 3 point shot). I don't think anyone really looks down on the Atlantic Ten to the extent where they think URI is a "gimme" - there are too many upsets in this series. Still no one at PC "hates" Rhody the same way they dislike UCONN, Georgetown, BC or Syracuse. And a quick trip to the Providence Journal message board (I wouldn't recommend it) will convince you that a sizable subset of Rhody fans are obsessed with PC and the renovation of the Dunkin Donuts Center to a level that makes the "Yankees Suck" phenomenon look entirely rational.

And on the opposite side of the coin, we have Brown hockey. Not only does no one at Brown seem to seriously hate PC hockey (which these days is like having a personal grudge against the Clippers), they don't seem to care about hockey, period. It's easy to see why. Brown has had precious little success since going to the Frozen Four in 1976. PC fans really don't hate Brown. In fact, I root for Brown when they aren't playing PC. So much for hate.

So we go from the irrational feelings on both sides of the PC/URI rivalry to the feeling of "meh" in ice hockey. So far, irrational wins over meh with PC taking out URI by one free throw on Saturday and the worst season in PC ice hockey continuing on Tuesday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rant of the Week: Not a creature was stirring... except for Mr. Hanky!

As far as updates on my beloved Skating Friars, there aren't any. Literally nothing has changed in the past month. It's nice that the team put forth solid efforts in both third periods last weekend, but the result was still two 4-2 losses. One of these days, the team will put together these third periods into a 60 minute game and come up with their third win of the year.

What better time to get this win against winless Brown? The Bears have two less wins than PC, proving that the Friars might not be the most pathetic team in college hockey. Of course, the game is at Meehan Auditorium and will feature ECAC officials, making this an uphill climb. I've never seen a greater variety of insane, imaginary calls than the ones called against PC in ECAC rinks. It looks highly likely that the Mayor's Cup will be going back to Bruno in a game that no one - except a handful of people on both sides - really cares about any more.

The good news is that the Friday night game at Quinnipiac will be on NESN. All of New England will be able to see if PC can FINALLY get off the mat against the Skating Deer Ticks.

Random rants:

-Two things that cracked me up this week: Dave Hendrickson's annual Christmas column where Tim Army refers to Santa Claus as a "pantload" and MeanEgirl's entry on the MTU Blog that is basically Mr. Hanky's cousin. Misery can actually be really funny.

-Also, in the amusing category, yet another Dan Shaugnessy column where he not only jumps the gun, he launches himself into orbit. I'm very close to sending Charlie Chaplin to torch Mr. Shaugnessy's keyboard for this outstanding display of hubris. The Celtics are many things, but "invincible" is not one of them.
Notice the comments section - always a display of idiocy whenever it appears - is full of Portland Trailblazer fans talking smack about their "new" dynasty. Apparently, standards of dynasties have dropped precipitously when 14 wins in December constitutes a "dynasty". And this after people tried to deny the Pats had a dynasty after 3 Super Bowl wins in four years - mostly with logic that would have you laughed out of Socrates' classroom in Athens. If PC wins either the Brown or QU games, I'm declaring the Friars a legitimate dynasty! Go us!

-Hi Mark! and... best of luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Randomizer: Bing Crosby tap dances with Danny ****ing Kaye!

Just some random comments while I sit here waiting to get a call from Bill Bellichick to play cornerback this Sunday.

-If you remember back to October, I was beyond frustrated with the tenor of the columns coming from our local sports media about how the Red Sox were going to be eating Tampa Bay's dust for the next decade - it not millennium. Well, that was merely a sideshow for all the "Patriots are finished!!!1!!11!" drivel we've been subjected to the past week. The focus on the Patriots should be on the shoddy secondary, the dropped passes and the special teams choking at inopportune times. Or, you could be completely lazy, say that the Pats are "over" as a relevant team in the NFL and commence the teeth gnashing and garment rending (as you secretly rejoice that you can now focus on Red Sox 24/7 and pray that a bus runs into KG and Tim Thomas so you can go back to exclusively covering the Red Sox again).

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

-The NHL really has some explaining to do: schedule wise, the Bruins are in the midst of a five game "vacation". While I'm sure the B's are happy for the impromptu holiday, it would have been nice to see them sooner after the win over the Red Wings on Saturday. Then we have Sean Avery suspended for referring to his ex-girlfriend as "sloppy seconds". Really. The NHL has long had this issue in dealing with goonery and cheap shots (why else wasn't Ulf Sammuelson not given a lifetime ban?) and now you're penalizing the most hated player in hockey for making a goofy and mildly inappropriate comment? Does that make an ounce of sense?

-The NBA also needs to figure something out: the Celtics have somehow committed an incredible 39 technical fouls in 19 games. That's 14 as many as the next team in the list. I've watched the C's play frequently this year and they don't strike me as a chippy team. In fact a recent article went into the nature of the technicals, and most of them are because the Celtics are (I can not believe this) overly exuberant. Isn't one of the positive attributes in sports displays of emotion? The NBA needs to stop following the lead of the No Fun League and back off on displaying emotion.

-Sadly, nothing has changed with the Skating Friars. Nothing. Meanwhile, PC basketball is disappointing everyone except those of us too jaded by the end of the Welsh era to muster any surprise at anything. The black cloud above the PC athletic department hasn't moved since Corey Wright missed a chance to send the 97' Friars to the Final Four.

-Hi Mark!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things to be thankful for....

Here are the things I'm thankful for:
A warm apartment
The mellowing of Charlie "the computer destroying cat" Chaplin
The fact that my car works (for the most part)
Having a job
Following successful sports teams (the current abhorrent state of PC hockey and Celtic's abysmal road form in Europe notwithstanding)
Early Christmas shopping
... and finally the three or four people who actually read this blog! Thanks, and keep up the comments!

Flotsam and jetsam:

- Um, Herald? “We’re the No. 1 defense. If we play like we’ve been playing, and our offense comes around and has a good game, and we’re clicking on all cylinders, we’re going to win the game.” How does this comment by Anthony Smith of the Steelers constitute "trash talk"? If the Steelers do indeed play up to their capabilities, they will win the game. That's not a trash talk. That's just patently obvious. I understand that Mr. Smith made an ass of himself last year, but this isn't even close to trash talk.
Shouldn't the Pats be desensitized to this silliness by now, especially after Joey "the Prince of the Land of Make Believe" Porter last week?

-There's radio, bad radio and the continued devolution of the Big Show. Last week, all of the Whiner Line (and really, shame of me for listening to the Whiner Line) was dedicated to one of the producers saying that he thought Nancy Pelosi was attractive. While the comment was certainly... insane, I can't help but note that in a sports climate where the Pats, Bruins and Celtics are all competitive - if not dominant - the Big Show is wallowing in politics. Again.

-The "Dead Zone" in the sports calender is usually the days before and after the MLB All Star Game. Well, New England went through it's own Dead Zone the past two days. While I appreciate that the Celtics and Bruins do need days off, the past two sports free days have been a bit odd. Especially since the Celtics play about a fifth of their schedule in November!

-Speaking of Celtic's baffling incompetence in the Champions League, while I'm unhappy with the 17th consecutive road game without a victory, I can't help but take solace in the phrases that get used in international football (soccer to the rest of you). Celtic didn't just lose out, they "Crashed out of Europe". I might have to use that from now on. For instance, PC is in the midst of crashing out of Hockey East.
It's probably a good thing there's no relegation in college hockey, or PC would be playing UMASS Boston and Middlebury next year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Imagination and broohahas!

"You've heard of the French nation? Well, this is the Imagi-nation!"
-Kris Kringle, A Miracle on 34th Street

Say this about Joey Porter, he has a healthy imagination. In his mind, he's already won 2 extra Super Bowl titles. I'm jealous: when I was a kid, they best I could imagine was owning a time machine! I'm just curious, in his fantasy kingdom, does he own a pony?

I know the Spygate flap generated a lot of goofiness, but is this true of other NFL players? Are there 300 people floating around the NFL all imagining they would have won multiple Super Bowl titles if only the Pat's hadn't used videotape? (because it's perfectly legal to use other methods of spying for some reason that will never - EVER - be explained to the general public. Yeah.)

Speaking of delusions, the Montreal Canadiens have somehow reached the rather bizarre conclusion that the team's some times somnambulant performances this year can be boiled down to one thing: Milan Lucic's refusal to fight Georges Laraque. Huh? Let's face facts - Lucic is a fun player. He can score goals, he can hit people and get under the skin of teams and he can certainly handle himself in a fight. But Laraque would kill him and apparently, the Bruins are aware of this and told Lucic not to fight Laraque on Saturday night. This is an amusing subplot. Unfortunately, it came back to bite Montreal in the rear as Lucic scored one of the goals that allowed the B's to earn an overtime shoot out "win" (I'm sorry, even when the Bruins "win" the shootout still sucks). So, not only are the Bruins 2-0-1 against a team they couldn't beat at all last year, but they now they're winning mind games against les Blue, Rouge et Blanc too.

I might be wrong about this - I haven't been alive for most of this one-sided rivalry - but isn't it usually the Bruins who are obsessed with "making points" and "dropping the gloves" and the Habs who go about actually winning the games? I know the Bruins were obsessed with winning fights against Montreal last year and their inability to get one win against les Habs last year proves this to be a poor strategy. So why is an intelligent franchise like the Canadiens buying into this circus sideshow? Am I missing something? Did the Canadiens establish their dynasty by scoring, defense, and goaltending, or were Rocket Richard, Jean Belliveau, and Guy LaFleur actually giant Hansenesque cementheads who pummeled everyone into submission? One of the criticisms against Laraque is that he doesn't do the requisite illegal hitting to initiate fights. Fancy that, he acts like a human being instead of a giant goon!

I'm not one of these people who wants to ban fighting from hockey, but the obsession with fisticuffmanship that the Habs are indulging in is at least as funny as Joey Porter and the Super Bowl rings he likes to look at while he rides his Pegasus over to Gum Drop Mountain.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rant of the week: Inspecting the white flag

There's probably little room for optimism if you're one of the dwindling amount of PC hockey fans who has had their hearts ripped out Mola Ram style by the awful start this team has had in Hockey East. Fortunately, I'm not stupid enough to argue that this ISN'T the worst season PC has had since the formation of Hockey East.

Let's look at the facts. The team is 0-6-1 and just blew their best chance of the season to get a win at home against a decent - but not spectacular - Maine team that spent all of last year in the basement. Coming up on the schedule is a UML team that might have some question marks, but that is certainly better than PC. Then we have the Skating Mother Theresas, playing at home in a place where PC never wins. Yeah, it looks bleak. It looks like PC is going to be 0-8-1 in the league and staring down a last place finish. And it's also entirely possible that this team will never win a game for the rest of the season. It's not LIKELY, but it could happen.

So at this point, I'm certainly not going to abandon the team. I've sat through my share of bad seasons. At most, I won't attend as many games - especially since I haven't seen this team win in almost 10 months (or close to it!). I'm not even going to call for Tim Army's head - yet. What I'm going to do is root for this team to get their heads out of their posteriors and not get too disappointed when it doesn't happen.

I look at it this way. I can acknowledge that the team has problems. But I'm not morally obligated to watch them struggle in each and every game. What I'd like to see happen is for the team to win a game in Hockey East. I want to see if this will lead to some confidence and maybe a modest winning streak. I don't think the Friars are a bad team: they just aren't playing well enough to win. They screw up too many offensive opportunities and give up too many scoring chances. And the special teams are awful. If the Friars can turn one or two of these things around, they MIGHT escape the basement. And that might entice a few of us back on the bandwagon. You've heard of cautious optimism? This is cautious pessimism.

Rant of the week:

-Again, on the trash talking: I sense people are stunned that the Patriots are not engaging in a war of words with mouthy idiot Joey Porter. Here's the thing: when your team wins by the margin the Dol-Frauds did the last time they were in Foxborough, you can talk all the trash you want. It's irrelevant because Miami won the game. I would have more of a problem with Mr. Porter displaying his vast lack of class had the Dol-frauds lost the game. Then, it's just pathetic. Besides, why get into a urinating match with a skunk?

-Hi Mark!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trash talking and competence do not go hand in hand

Knicks object to Celtics' trash talking

Are you kidding me? Are the Knicks the dumbest team in the NBA? You get beat by the defending NBA Champions playing WITHOUT Kevin Garnett and the first thing out of your mouths is that the Celtics are trash talking? Give me a break.

When you lose, then is not the time to complain about what the other team is saying about you. That would be the time to take a look in the mirror and find out what you need to do to NOT lose next time.

It's like when the losing team complains about running up the score or the "class" of fans or a "dirty hit". That's not the story. The story is, you lost.

Cripes, when did North American athletes start emulating whiny European golfers? I think trash talking is dumb, but stop trying to distract people from your ineptitude. If Brian Scalabrine is knocking down threes, you have a problem.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I like hockey, but some times I really don't understand it. In particular, I'm not really sure what constitutes a penalty. I used to be able to make that distinction - especially in regards to some of the crap calls PC used to put up with nightly. Now I do not. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe I don't understand hockey as much as I think I do. After all, I can't skate. It's easy to see how I could miss something that trained on ice official did not.

The idea that it's my fault for being uneducated about the finer nuances of the game - and a bit too quick to blame the officials for my team's lack of discipline - is a good one. But this hypothesis dies a quick death when the television broadcasters replay the penalty and I see NOTHING that would constitute a penalty. I'm not just talking about incidental contact or obvious diving by the opponent. I'm talking about players just brushing against one another and the color commentator making a remark that this is a "good call" that the official "had to make". I must be missing something, because for the most part, I don't see these penalties at all in real time or in instant replay.

See, here's the thing: I complain about officials no more or less than a deranged Tommy Heihnsohn. When they replay calls in the NFL, 9 times out of 10, it shows that the official made the right call. When they replay calls in the NBA, 9 times out of 10, the refs blew the call. Hockey used to be somewhere in the middle. Now, I'm completely lost: I try to be fair to officials and wait until I see a replay. The problem I'm having is that the, replay doesn't help anymore.

The two referee system that the NHL uses was recently filtered down to college hockey. This means two things (neither of them good): more penalties and more people in stripes accidentally getting in the way of the play. I think people would like to see hockey evolve into a more free flowing game. They just don't want to see 9,000 ticky tack basketball penalties that always seem to favor one team over another. This was driven home on the Friday game where PC's complete lack of offense and special team play was further muddied by a series of completely random calls. The same thing happened the next night when my wife and our mutual friend and I watched UML shut out UMASS. A seemingly random play would result in a penalty and I had no explanation as to why.

In the third college hockey game of the week, I thought I'd hit upon a plan to figure out these seemingly random calls once and for all. Fortunately, I get the Mega Sports Package From Hell on my cable package and I get the home games for the Golden Gophers. It was fortuitous that the Gophers were hosting MTU in a 2 PM matinee. And it was doubly fortuitous that the WCHA head of officials Greg Shepherd was in the booth with the two announcers. Or you would think that it was fortuitous. Even with the head of officials there, not only did the calls still seem to not make sense (with the exception of some complete stupidity on the part of the Huskies)but the explanations didn't jive with what I was seeing in the replays either. I think I'm doomed to never understand hockey officiating on any level. So let me apologize in advance to any officials for any complaining I might do in the next year or two. Obviously, I'm missing something.

One comment was telling: Mr. Shepherd was asked point blank if the extra ref and rules changes were made with consideration to the fans. He said no. Later on the broadcast, he amended his answer to say that if the rules changes had the desired effect (less stickwork, less clutching and grabbing and thus a more fluid pace), the fans would be a direct benefactor. Still, I just wonder if these rules designed to free up the offense work because the game is opening up or because the entire game is played in the power play. Just wondering...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rant of the week: "Some people have REAL problems"

I recently read on USCHO that Providence College had descended into the ranks of a Atlantic Hockey. While I'm as frustrated with PC's performance as the next person, I think that's a little harsh. So here's some teams that have done less than Providence College in recent history.

AIC: You know what stinks? When you're the worst team in D-I hockey. Every year.

Army: Everyone loves Army, but they've never won anything and their arch rival is a Canadian school. That can't be good.

Bentley: The Falcons play in a rink that makes Merrimack look like a palace. And it's about 3 miles away from the campus.

Sacred Heart: Distinguished mainly by the fact they have a player named "Bear Trapp".

UCONN: The Huskies are successful in pretty much everything else. But not men's ice hockey. Inexplicable.

Western Michigan: At some point in the past five years, something awful happened to this team and the fans never recovered. I have no idea what, but I did catch the third period of their game against Miami a few nights ago and the rink was EMPTY. I guess their coach got an extension recently. Lovely.

University of Alaska: Death, taxes, and the Nanooks doing nothing. They have a lovely rivalry with the Seawolves and that's about it.

Yale, Brown and Dartmouth: These three schools have long glorious histories and surprisingly little to show for it. Dartmouth and Brown have played for the national title. And lost. Yale won the 1998 ECAC regular season title. And seemingly nothing else. With Princeton breaking away from the pack and Harvard and Cornell weighed down by recent hardware, there seems to be a divide between the haves and have-nots in the Ivy League.

Quinnipiac: They've been THE program on the rise for about 5 years now. Without actually doing anything.

Union: The general impression I get from the fans of the Skating Dutchmen is that the AD is happy to be successful 40% of the time. Ow.

RPI: It seems odd to lavish any sympathy on the team that beat PC for the 1985 National Title, but the Engineers have been stuck in neutral for quite a while now.

Merrimack: They play in a rink that is basically a high school gym with a sheet of ice in the middle. They remain the only team in Hockey East to never play for the title.

Northeastern: 14 years without making the Hockey East semi-finals.

Bemidji, Niagara, Robert Morris, and Alabama Huntsville: Because the CHA is about to die.

Saint Cloud State: Sure, the Huskies have been a much more successful team than PC over the past decade or so, but 0 NCAA wins? That has to be frustrating.

Alaska Anchorage: Sometimes, playing in a really good league does nothing for you. UAA always seems to be an okay team, but they can't get out of the basement.

Yeah, this season has been brutal. But some perspective would be nice. This list certainly isn't exhaustive.

Random rants:

-How much fun is it to be a Bruins fan these days? 6-1 over Les Habitants? I can't even believe this.

-The Patriots are not winning the Super Bowl this year, and the culprit isn't Tom Brady's knee. It's defense. 31 points should be enough to win any game.

-I keep hearing about the Celtics and the "short window" they have to win another championship. All the more reason to enjoy the opening of this season.

-Hi Mark!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday randomizer

A few random thoughts:

-Anyone depressed by the end of the Red Sox season (to a team that didn't win the World Series, no less) must be happy with the play of the other three teams in town (shame about the Revolution). The Pats are playing well despite picking up a season ending injury in every game and being down to their fourth string running back. The Celtics are proving that last season was not a fluke by streaking out a 7-1 record. The Bruins are playing fun, exciting hockey and getting great goal tending. This winter might be a lot of fun - save for the listless state of PC hockey.

-Speaking of the World Series, am I the only person who doesn't care that the ratings sucked? Why would anyone care about the ratings? Sorry Fox, that doesn't interest me at all? If there were entertaining baseball games being played, why would you care about ratings?

-I grow weary of the constant whining in college football whenever someone from outside a BCS conference puts together a season with one win or less. The "how dare" they attitude is so elitist it makes me glad that PC isn't fielding a football team. The main goal of a college football team is to win games: if a team from the Mountain West or Sunbelt or MAC or WAC is putting together a good season, they're not doing that to screw over whatever team it is in the Big 12 or SEC that the college football talking heads have fallen in love with that calender year.

I have no proof to back this up, but I've always gotten the impression with the amount of money big time boosters pump into these programs, college football's problems might actually dwarf the Tim Doneghy/Spygate/MLB and Olympic steroid scandals we've been dealing with over the past couple of years. Just a hunch.

-"The Big Show" used to be the best show on WEEI, mostly because with a rotation of a dozen or so hosts meant you weren't stuck listening to the same opinions all the time. Well, now it's just as bad as Dennis and Callahan, and the problem is once again politics. When will WEEI get it through their heads that when all of their hosts are waxing poetic about how awful Barrack Obama is that listeners will eventually start to tune them out? The post election whining from the Big Show (especially the two resteraunteurs they bring in for football season) has been the off the charts and the twits on the Whiner Line have proved to be just as bad. I can't wait to see what other programming gets ruined by this new, boring format!

-Speaking of formerly great radio: Mike Francessa talking to himself for 4 hours every day? Maybe I'm better off not getting that signal on the ride home.

-The shuttering of CN8 doesn't bode well for sports in this region on multiple levels. We can only hope the Emmy award winning John Carchedi ends up getting his due because he's awesome. There, I said it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rant of Week: PC's greatest rival?

One of the great frustrations in being an alumni of Providence College is the lack of a true rival. Friar basketball fans might dislike UCONN, Syracuse and Georgetown, but all of those schools have more impressive rivals to feud with and - let's be fair here - PC can't beat any of them on a consistent basis. Except maybe UCONN, and that was only last year. Similarly, URI fans dislike PC with the fire of a thousand suns, but not even I would go out of my way to lavish a similar feeling on the Rams. So finding a basketball rival is a bit of a problem.

A similar situation exists in hockey. I thought I would go down the list of potential rivals. Here are the teams I'm eliminating right off the bat: UML (I actually like them), UMASS (not enough water under the bridge), Merrimack (last year notwithstanding), NU (too much in common), UVM (too new), and Maine (teetering towards complete irrelevance). This leaves the following four schools:

Brown: Bruno makes the cut because the over all series is pretty much dead even (I think the Bears have a one or two game lead) and the results of Mayor's Cup usually have nothing to do with the record of either team. There are several problems here. The first of which is that PC is not Brown's arch rival. That would be Harvard and that particular rivalry dates back to the 19th century. The second problem is that if you compare the strengths of the two programs, PC is out in front by a very wide margin. PC has more ECAC titles that Bruno, and they haven't been in the ECAC since 1984. Third, as horrible as the attendance is for PC home games (probably due to the LOUD SPEAKERS!) the attendance at Meehan is actually worse. That thought always give me pause. How can you lavish hate on a team with a smaller fan base than yourself? The only fans who even deserve a smidgen of dislike are the people in the band. Fourth, and most importantly, I like Brown. And I really shouldn't be able to say that about a rival.

New Hampshire: One of the main motivators for finding a team you hate is jealousy and it's easy to covet certain parts of the Wildcat's program. UNH has a much larger fan base, a lovely rink, a program that's always ranked in the top 10 and gets home ice every year, and a period of competence that dates back to the 70's. The problem with UNH is that "competence" doesn't quite equal dominance. The Wildcats have the smallest series lead of any of the teams PC plays in the Big Four. They also have LESS tournament titles than PC (four is greater than three) and have never won the national title either - even with many more Frozen Four appearances. The other problem is that the days of Kitty fans constantly complainng about how "dirty" the Skating Goons of PC are seem to be in the past. In fact, UNH's constant inability to win the national championship seems to have depressed the entire fan base. How can a team be a rival when their fan base is almost as unhappy as your own? And who in their right mind would want to get rid of Dick Umile?

Boston College: It's much easier to envy BC: better rink, larger fan base (although not as big as UNH), countless conference titles, a massive overall advantage over PC and three national titles. Yet, there's still plenty to dislike. The school considers itself a Football School, which means that as much as some of the fans really like hockey, most of them are more interested in football or even basketball. Also, the band plays "For Boston" about 90 times per game which puts them in the same category as Michigan (but still ahead of MTU and their catchy yet toxic Penalty Kill Ditty). The Eagles seem to enjoy nothing more than ruining my evening, which is an excellent reason to dislike them. The piece de resistance was last year when PC won the season series 2-0-1 against BC only to get drubbed in the playoffs. I hate it when that happens. BC also seems to have at least one completely unlikeable yet insanely talented (and usually diminutive) player on their roster each and every year.
It would seem that BC would be perfect as PC's rival. But there are a few problems. First of all, PC will never be considered a rival with BU around. And certainly not with the Eagles in the ACC. Superfans might take the Friars more seriously if they had a football team. Secondly, we have Jerry York. I have yet to find anyone in college hockey who doesn't love this guy: he's a great coach, a brilliant recruiter and he practically generates class. If the AD at the Heights ever loses his mind and fired Jerry, I will personally drive him to Schneider Arena.

Boston University: The Terriers are the most successful team in the east - nevermind Hockey East - so there's plenty to be jealous of an dislike. The huge fan base, the fantastic rink, the plethora of hardware and that meaningless tournament they keep winning. No team - not even BC - has done more to ruin the Friar's season as BU. If BU isn't actually beating them in the playoffs, they're dragging out the proceedings for two overtimes. It does help that BU has played PC in the playoffs more than any other team. So BU is an excellent choice, even if you disregard the hairy half naked men and Jackie Parker's voodoo mind hold on whatever official Hockey East cares to put on the ice.
But as always, we do have problems. BU has more enemies than any other team in college hockey: ALL of Hockey East, plus Harvard, Cornell, and - for some reason - Minnesota. Clearly, PC is not alone in disliking BU. But the BC rivalry is the biggest in the east - if not all of college hockey. The second problem is the near obsession that the team has with winning the Beanpot. Clearly, it's tough to take a rivalry seriously when your "rival" is looking forward to the first and second Monday in February.

I think that for PC fans, BU and BC are probably the two closest thing we have to "rivals", even if neither team would care to see PC in that light.

Random Rants:
-I'll keep it short... HI MARK!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Opie and Anthony Part Deux?

D and C get called on "stunt".

This is why we ask that they stick to sports: the politics and "shock jock" silliness don't work for them. This reminds me a wee bit of the "Mayor Menino is dead" hijinks from years past.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Someone else agrees with me? What is this world coming to?

Chad Finn on the "identity crisis of Red Sox fans.

Bonus points for referencing Rick Pitino's classic "this town sucks" outburst. It's right up there with Jim Mora and "Playoffs?!?!" and Allen Iverson opining about practice.

Rant of the Week: Hockey East does not suck

The out of conference play in Hockey East has been very encouraging this year as compared to last year. For a while during the beginning of last season, the only Hockey East team with a winning record against non-conference foes was Merrimack (!!!). This year, there have been a few highlights:

- BU and UMASS taking care of North Dakota
-BC and UNH beating the Badgers on consecutive nights
-UNH throttling RPI
-UVM beating and tying Miami
-UML taking a game at East Lansing against MSU
-PC actually winning both non-conference games against teams they'd lost to in the last two years

Sure, there have been let downs: Merrimack managing only a tie against Canisius and Niagara, UNH's misadventure up at SLU, UML getting shut out by Colgate and NU's tie against the Nanooks. It's a bit early to say that the league is back, but the early results are encouraging. Last year, only BC and UNH made it to the NCAA tournament and the culprit was a weak record out of conference. Turning that around is the key to getting 3-5 teams in the Big Dance.

Random ranting:

-(It's actually working!) Hi Mark!

- I wish people would stop labeling the Phillie's five game victory over the Rays as the "worst World Series ever". It's just stupid: There were three close games, one titanic marathon in game three and the final game decided by one run. That doesn't sound like "the worst World Series ever". Really, what people are complaining about is the weather. The rain delay in game three and the suspension of game five were frustrating, but that's not MLB's fault. That would be the fault of Mother Nature. It's also preposterous to say that the World Series should now be played entirely in domes or at a "neutral spot". The format isn't the problem: the length of the season is the issue. When baseball decided it would be okay to have the season stretch to late October, did they actually think it would be nothing but Southern teams competing?

- As encouraging as the first two games of the Bruin's merry jaunt through northwest Canda were, the last game against the Flames left a nasty taste in my mouth. Simply put, the NHL's early season scheduling leaves a lot to be desired. The Bruins seem to start every season on an extended road trip (thanks to the bloody circus) following a span of weeks where they seem to play all of two or three games. And then we have the sadistic schedule that saw them play 3 games in 4 days. It's a wonder they didn't lose by more last night.

-In a similar vein, just as I was hoping to see the Celtics play at least once or twice before tonight, they have one game on Tuesday. Then, another game tonight. Why the three day gap? Did the circus come back?

-The Patriots are - for the second time in a month - entering into a game against a talented but desperate team. The Colts game is frighteningly similar to the San Diego game in a lot of respects. The good news is that - even if the Colts win - the Pats have acquitted themselves admirably enough that a 5-3 record is in no way disappointing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year...

I'd just like to state - very briefly - the World Series is taking place at the same time as the NHL, NBA, and NFL are around. College hockey is going on and if I want to bond with my TV, there's college football on Saturday afternoons. And if I really want to watch sports, I get EPL games every Saturday and Sunday morning on the Fox Soccer Channel.

The fall does indeed rule.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rant of Week: Huh? Speak up!

I love Schneider Arena. I know, it's not the most aesthetically pleasing building in Hockey East, it doesn't have tremendous atmosphere, the sight lines leave something to be desired, most of the fan base tends to wander off to Clubbie's, Brad's, the Abbey or Louie at 9:00 PM and the games were a lot more visceral when the glass was shorter. Still, I have a lot of affection for the old barn and I'm not even half kidding when I say I want to be buried under center ice.

I do have to say that the building has one problem right now. One small detail that drives me and everyone else who has ever attended a Friar home game to distraction. It's a tiny, easily correctable fault that would take a short memo or five seconds worth of worth to correct. To whit:


The speakers are drowning out the band (and with an awful selection of music too. I dig Metallica, but some of the rest of the music is the awful emo "metal" you hear on WAAF). It's drowning out the fans when they try to make noise. It's driving people away who otherwise have no problem spending a night at PC hockey games. So why not fix this extremely easy problem? The other problems this rink might have (the team is mediocre, pools of water sometimes form on the ice at the end of the game, the refs don't like their dressing room (this sentiment and the fact PC so often get jobbed by bad calls can NOT be a coincidence!) are tough to solve. But the volume of the music in the arena?

Unlike a lot of blog entries, this is not just something that bugs me. This is something that bothers everyone I talk to, everyone sitting near me in Section E, every opposing fan, every PC fan online. So why isn't it fixed? As I said earlier, it can not be that difficult to adjust the volume of the speakers.

And if it doesn't get fixed, I'll probably still go to games. It will just be much harder to hear the anthem with the ringing in my ears.

Other Rants:
-Hi Mark!

-This election needs to end soon. My nightmares now begin with "I'm Barack Obama/John McCain and I approve this message". On a related note, I would like to exile John Sununu and Jean Shaheen to a small island in the South Pacific. Preferably one with the castaways from "the Minnow".

-The Rays are so unbelievably likable (except for Garza, who needs to stop spitting every five seconds. If I want to see that, I'll stare at Francona.) that you just know the Phillies are going to win this series. No one talked about them in the NLCS and here they are now.

-The Bruins are the only team that could improve to the point where they are - literally - winning or within a goal in every game and still not pick up more than one point per game because of Gary Bettman and his stupid bloody shoot outs. If the Maple Leafs win a shoot out tonight... sigh.

-Do you think Kevin Garnett has stopped ranting to himself yet? Or will he just continue from where he left off after Game Six? I'd like to see a debate between him and Papelbohn just so we can see who is more insane.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Red Sox post mortem

So, I guess the big question this weekend is what went wrong? In truth, not a hell of a lot did go wrong. I'm usually the high priest of pessimism - especially in regards to the Red Sox who have caused me more heartache than any team not named the Bruins - but there wasn't a whole lot to complain about in general.

Basically, when you lose a seven game series in the ALCS, it's the little things that kill you. To whit:

In Game Two, Beckett was lifted too late into the game. The bull pen held the Rays scoreless until Francona waved the white flag by bringing in Timlin. Even then, the Sox had every opportunity to break the game open - they simply failed to come through with a clutch hit.

Games three and four were unmitigated disasters in every sense of the term. No chance.

In Game Seven, the Red Sox had the Rays on the ropes in the eighth inning and they couldn't tie the game. Again, no clutch hitting. Lester was fine and the bullpen did their job for the most part.

Summarized like this, it doesn't look like the Red Sox failed that badly. Francona made some odd decisions, but the blame doesn't lie solely at his feet. The problem for this team was injuries. Plenty of teams have injuries, but the Red Sox woes piled up at the end of the season. It would interesting to see how this series would have played out with healthy versions of Beckett, Drew, Papi, Lowell, and even Captain Blogosphere. That will never happen, but we have 6 months to wonder...

Realistically, this team was 3 runs away from the World Series, pushed a series to seven games despite an at times vastly superior foe and over came a lot adversity to even get to Game Seven. I'm not jumping off the Tobin Bridge and I'm not going to suggest Terry Francona jump either even though his refusal to pinch hit for Kotsay and Variteck in the ninth inning last night was positively insane. You can't win them all. And no, they don't get to the playoffs if they keep Manny who would have packed it in like he did in 2006 so enough of that crap.

As for the Rays, let me just say this to the Phillies. Good luck. You will need it.

(one final note, I'm mentally preparing for a "Defending Tito" entry to counteract the unending "Fire Fran-coma" silliness we'll be seeing later on this week. Beware.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rant of the week: Who are these guys?

Here in Friar Country, we pride ourselves in not knowing what the hell to expect from our team from week to week. Or in some cases, day to day. A perfect example comes from the GLI Tournament least year where the Friars were lost against the Wolverines one night and took out the defending national champion Spartans the next. Who would have predicted that (aside from the Michigan and MTU fans who spent the rest of the night high fiving me)? The Friars are an awful team to predict because they have no consistency. The team radically shifts in quality for year to year and some times even night to night. This was as true in the 60's as it is now. If you notice the banners at Schneider Arena, the Friars fielded great teams in 1978, 1981, 1983, and 1985. What happened to the Friars in 1979, 1982, 1984 and 1986? I have no idea.

Then we get to teams I did follow. I do know that the 1997 Friars had goal tending issues that prevented them from repeating. I know that the offense of the 1999 Friars did not translate into 2000 and the 2002 Friars were quite possibly the most underachieving team in the history of the universe. I'm still not sure what happened that year. The team is an enigma.

This is why I find Hockey East predictions so comical - nobody can ever figure out Providence College. The Friars either finish 5 positions lower than they're supposed to or 3 or 4 positions higher. You might as well use a dart board. PC isn't alone in this: Northeastern is impossible to predict. UMASS vacillates just as insanely as Providence. Even BU has had season where they were supposed to do something and finished in eighth place, or they were supposed to finish in fifth place and they win Hockey East. The only mortal locks are that BC will be good and Merrimack will be in the basement and UNH will botch the post season. Anything else is conjecture. Hockey is a bizarre game. A goaltender can get hot, an offense can go cold, or a ref can make a strange call and all the predictions are for naught.

Complicating matters for the Friars is the fact that no one has seen them play yet. The only thing we have to judge this team on is the influx of freshman, the departures of Jon Rheault, Cody Wild, and (most importantly) Tyler Sims. The Huskies are supposed to be good and Bowling Green is supposed to be much improved. But barring that, I have no idea what to expect this weekend from the Friars except for this: we will finally figure out who these guys are.

More random thoughts:

- Hi Mark!

-One thing I do know this weekend. The Patriots are going to get CLOBBERED. They never beat the Broncos, and the team has looked lost since the Super Bowl. Someone needs to get some electrical shockers on the defense. Matt Cassel has been poor, but the defense is the real culprit for the Patriots sucking.

- No idea what to make of Game Six in Tampa Bay. It's almost a relief to get away from Fenway after the bludgeonings in Games Three and Four. The Sox can NOT keep spotting the Rays 5 run leads.

Or maybe...

... I'll just see you on Saturday.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


... don't hurry back to spring training.

I certainly don't want to see you back for a long time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


No, not the Red Sox play this week, although that has been atrocious enough. I'm talking about the reporting by our beloved sports press which has been the equivalent of rubbing salt in the wounds.

First off are the nimrods who pronounced the Rays dead after Game One. Why would you ever write that in a seven games series?

Secondly, we have the people who stubbornly cling to the idea that the Red Sox are going to make a miraculous comeback. They aren't. The team can't hit or pitch. They could not beat the Kansas City Royals at this point. Injuries and awful luck have taken their toll. The Sox would be just as screwed even if they had won Game Two. This team - as currently constituted can NOT win three games in a row. They were lucky to win ONE game. It doesn't just seem like it's over, it is.

Thirdly, someone needs to criticize the team. I either see people praising the Rays to the high heavens or glossing over the fact the team is playing poorly. Some one needs to come out and say it. The Red Sox absolutely suck. Many of these wounds are self inflicted. If you can't hit or pitch, you can not win, period. Francona would be better off suiting up the Lowell Spinners.
I have a theory that when you get blown out, half of it is your own damn fault. This is not college or high school where there is a massive talent discrepancy. Yes, the Rays have played well, but they played well in the first and second games, both of which were competitive. If the Red Sox play well, the games will be competitive. If not, you get annihilated.

The article that really set me off this morning was Bob Ryan's piece on why the Rays are unbelievably awesome. While I'm certainly not in the position to argue that point right now, he goes on to say that the Rays are the team of the future and we should all get ready for them to be a power for years to come. I enjoy Bob's writing and I think he might be the best sports writer in Boston. But did he suddenly forget the great young players on the Red Sox who helped them win the WORLD ****ing SERIES last year?

Is that basically what it comes down to? We should just give up because Team Awesome will be around forever and ever? Great, I'm going to stop rooting for the Red Sox and reading the Globe, and I'll encourage the rest of my friends to do the same because we are now powerless before Cowbell Nation (maybe I should trademark that!) and watching baseball is futile. They should just call themselves the Tampa Bay Borg. And when the Red Sox fans disappear and the Globe is out of business at least Bob will be right.

Just taking things to their logical conclusion.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh my God, the sky is falling!

Argh! Argh!

(don't we go through this EVERY time the Red Sox make the playoffs?)

Friday, October 10, 2008

More randomness while I wonder why the cat has been so mellow lately...

... I think he's planning something. Seriously.

-College hockey season begins! I'll have to update The Coffin Online some point this weekend. I'm not in a hurry of course: PC opens with Northeastern next week. Only the Ivy's start later, it seems. Best of luck to our Hockey East co-horts, especially UMASS and BU who take on UND and MSU in the Icebreaker this weekend.

-Maybe Charlie Chaplin is saving himself for Dan Shaugnessy? This attempt to irritate Tampa Bay fans was kind of predictable. In fact, it's way too much like his 1997 offering as the Whalers were about to move. Get ready, Charlie.

-Speaking of Shaugnessy's latest atrocity, why are Rays fans talking trash about things that haven't happened yet? Did Marty McFly loan them a flux capacitor?

-Dice-K starts tonight for the Red Sox. This means that for half the game, Red Sox fans need to find something else to do. Just throw strikes. Please?

-If the Patriots/Chargers game doesn't hold that much interest, why all the columns about how it's not holding that much interest? The fact that people curious as to why people aren't paying attention means that people are paying attention. Did I make anyone's head explode?

-This Halloween, I want to go out as Craig Sager. Where do you get a bright orange blazer?

-Nice win by the Bruins, especially considering their defense was invisible most of the night and neither the Versus announcers nor the officials could figure out there were two teams on the ice. See, I'm in mid-season form all ready!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The loser mentality and you: Just say "no!"

Way back in 1996, I had an RA who was a die hard fan of the Yankees (and the Cowboys, Celtics, Fighting Irish, and... HARTFORD WHALERS?!?!?). He was a great RA and an all around good guy despite the fact that he rooted for the baseball equivalent of Satan. Once, just to infuriate most of the people around him, he described the Red Sox fans as embracing a "loser mentality". For the past 12 years, I thought he was just insulting us and I took it as a throw away line. But now I'm starting to understand what he was talking about.

Why is it so many Red Sox fans are unwilling - or unable - to embrace a team that actually wins? It makes no sense. You root for a team in hopes that they finally win a championship. Too many idiots in the fan base and the general media (especially - for some inscrutable reason- the Sox-centric Globe) have recoiled from the Sox because they're too successful. My question is why.

It's not like New Englanders are afraid of success in sports. No one gave up on the Orr/Esposito era Bruins when they won Stanley Cups. They became more popular. The Russell era Celtics didn't start out popular, but they got more and more popular as they started hording titles. The Patriot's burst of popularity started with the hiring of Bill Parcells drafting Drew Bledsoe in 1993 and despite some lows at the end of the Pete Carroll era, they've maintained a decent level of popularity even after the disasters of the past couple of years. Anyone jumping off the bandwagon because Spygate or the Brady probably doesn't care about football to begin with, but at least they aren't scared off by success. The Patriots were every bit as incompetent as the Red Sox were before 2004 (add pre 08' Celtics and the current Bruins to that mix). And on a college front, I don't see a lot of UCONN basketball fans or BU, BC and Maine hockey fans complaining that their teams are too successful. So why Red Sox fans?

Let's take a look at some of arguments why we shouldn't root for the Red Sox:

"The Red Sox have become the Yankees"- What does this even mean? Are they wearing pinstripes? Are they playing Sinatra after every home game? Despite the fact that they're the Yankees and we all hate them, what is it that the Yankees do that is egregious? Spend money? Win a lot? Oh shame on the Steinbrenners for trying to win! Don't they realize that the main point of owning a team is to underachieve and impress other fanbase by your "classy" refusal to win. Do we really hate the Yankees that much that we don't want to win 26 championships?

Does anything say "loser" more than hating the Yankees more than you like the Red Sox?

"The Red Sox buy championships"- Not only does this betray a comically insane view of capitalism (professional sports teams shouldn't spend money? They should pay players using the barter system?) but it also displays a breathtakingly ignorant view of Red Sox history. When Tom Yawkey's underachieving teams were referred to as "country club " teams, it wasn't just because they were lily-white. It was because Yawkey foolishly spent on high priced veterans who couldn't deliver. Bad news people: the Red Sox had the highest payroll in baseball for years, and couldn't get within sniffing distance of a pennant. That happened 50 years ago. To pretend that the Sox have always been a plucky yet cheap small market team is beyond stupid.
Spending money is no guarantee of success: ask the Yankees, Mets and Tigers, all of whom have higher payrolls than the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Marlins, A's, Twins, Cardinals, Rockies, and Rays all make deep post season runs with payrolls a fraction of the Yankees. Money buys you nothing if not invested wisely. Rather than crediting the Red Sox with spending wisely, the critics imagine that they're buying a title. You can't.

"They don't feel like my team. I miss Ted Williams/Yaz/Manny, etc."- They wear the same uniform and play home games at Fenway Park. Of course they're your team. Why don't they "feel" like your team? And bad news, everyone. Yaz isn't playing. He hasn't played since 1983. I don't see George Scott, Dom Dimaggio, Bill Lee and Dwight Evans out there either. Someone alert the authorities! Strangely enough, baseball players don't play baseball their entire lives. Some times they get traded or - in the case of Manny - attempt to destroy everything around them until we have no choice in the matter. It's a fact of life.

"I can't stand Red Sox Nation/Wally/the Pink Hats/et al"- Then don't pay attention to them. I admit, these things are annoying. But I don't ALLOW them to take away from my enjoyment of the game. The same goes for people who can't stand Neil Diamond, the Dropkick Murphies or the Standells. I've somehow learned to deal with the fact that the classic rock station plays "Hotel California" 72 times a day and so can you! Are so many Red Sox fans that mentally weak?

"The fans annoy me"- The fans annoy me too. I root for the team. Not the fans. We just happen to all root for the Red Sox. By the way, Boston fans have always been this annoying. We just notice because there are more of them. Success means the fan base gets bigger which means there are more chances to annoy you.

"the Rays are more like the Red Sox"- There are a bunch of teams that remind me of the Red Sox. The White Sox are kind of like the Red Sox since they're named after hosiery! The Cubs have that "will we ever win?" desperation the Sox used to have. The Indians and Braves have similar uniforms. The Mets pre-playoff collapses usher in delightful memories of 1991 and 2006. Kevin Millar plays for the Orioles which makes them kind of like the Red Sox in that the Red Sox used to have Kevin Millar on their team.
This is such an inane argument that it beggars the imagination. This is like rooting for the Brewers because I really liked "Mr. Belvidere".

"I can't afford to go to games at Fenway"- Then don't. Support the team by listening to the radio, watching NESN, or even going to sports bar to watch them play. I haven't gone to a Bruins, Celtics, or Patriots team in years and I don't feel like my experience as a fan has been lessened in any way. It's not like I can hop a plane to Glasgow every Saturday to watch the Hoops play...

In summation, if you want to stop rooting for the Red Sox, I can't stop you. But I can at least point out that you're arguments are idiotic and being addicting to losing is foolish. Just say "no" to the loser mentality and embrace a team. Even if they win.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sox/Rays Preview

I was going to do another lazy "Random thoughts" blog entry, but I decided against it. And there will be no entry on the Pats/49ers game because I heard most of it on the radio. Sorry.

At any rate, most people are picking the Rays to win the ALCS for two reasons:
1. The Rays won the AL East and the season series.
2. Everyone hates the Red Sox and their fans. Way to stay objective, US sports media.

Here's my take:

Batting: Advantage Rays. This would be different if Mike Lowell was healthy and the last 3 batters in the order ever did anything (well, aside from Jed Lowrie winning game four, of course). As long as the Rays keep having a different person hit two home runs a game, I have to give them the edge.

Starting pitching: Slight advantage to the Sox, mostly because John Lester is untouchable in the playoffs, so far. Beckett isn't nearly as good as he was last year and Dice-K is as much fun as a prostate exam, but he keeps winning. The Rays have an excellent staff, but Lester puts the Sox over the edge.

Defense: Slight advantage Rays. They don't make spectacular plays, but they make the ones they need to. I like the Red Sox defense a lot (they don't lose much when they switch Youk to third base and Kotsay/Casey to first), but the Rays seem more dependable.

Bullpen: Advantage Rays. Simply put, the Rays are masters of winning close games in late innings and the reason is that their bullpen has been superb. For the Sox, Papelbon has been fantastic so far and Okajima has rebounded from a bad sophomore season, but they aren't nearly as dependable as Tampa Bay.

Managers: Advantage Red Sox. Would someone please tell the nimrods who infest ESPN, WEEI and the Herald nuthou- er, comments section, that "Francoma" has two world series titles? They were wrong about Belichick and Doc Rivers. Dare you go zero for three?

Intangibles: Push. On one hand you have the defending World Series champions who seem to find a way to win. On the other, you have a team that just never goes away and seems to embrace their role as the "scrappy underdog." I don't think the "Trop" is a negative: for all the talk about how tiny Tampa Bay's fan base is, it hasn't affecting them so far. I'm sure those awful cowbells are murder on opposing teams, no matter how many people show up. And the Red Sox are terrible in domes. On the flip side, I can't imagine too many people want to play against the Red Sox at Fenway, especially since the Yankees imploded in 2004.

As you can see, we're pretty much even. I'd expect this series to go seven and if that happens, the Red Sox have a decent chance of advancing because they've been there before. The caveat is that "inexperience" hasn't caught up to the Rays yet and sitting around waiting for them to fall apart might be as futile now as it was a month ago.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Random thoughts from the happily married...

-One last (or at least I HOPE it's the last time I have to go through this!) comment about Bill Simmons crusade against Scott Boras and the Boston media: is WEEI too stupid to realize that they're playing right into the man's hands? The rumors of Simmons attempts to burn all his bridges at ESPN have been swirling throughout the summer and it looks like the Sports Guy is tugging at the cape of the Red Sox Cabal (Globe/Herald/NESN/WEEI/WRKO) by suggesting that Manny wasn't 100% to blame. While I don't buy all of his premise, the Boston media has a reputation of running players out of town and/or bad mouthing them when they leave (Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens, Joe Thornton, and others). And Boston has a reputation of being inhospitable to non-white athletes. As Manny's trade was a result of his awful behavior (with prodding from Satan Boras, no doubt), I don't think it was racial motivated. It just makes the move look much worse to outsiders.
At any rate, Simmon's ideas do have merit. Whether or not he's 100% accurate, is under debate. The idiots at WEEI who chose to slam him for "defending" Manny - and let's be fair, the Sports Guy comes off as a fan boy of massive proportions - are making his point. Why no one is seriously pursuing the Boras angle is beyond me.

-The Charlie Pierce article I linked to last week generated some of the usual idiotic comments. I was surprised to see many of the nitwits who infest the Herald's comments section have infested the Globe - the great Satan of the "oppressed" MA conservative - as well. I admitted that Mr. Pierce went a bit too far with his anti-Republican sentiment. The problem is that Curt Schilling is just as guilty of inserting politics into everything. Both Charlie Pierce and Curt Schilling should be taken to task for inserting politics into sports, but Mr. Pierce is less guilty because he's REACTING to some of the crazy things he sees on 38Pitches. Does Curt realize he plays for a team in a Blue State? Why antagonize the people who adore you by running around acting like the Giant Forehead? It makes no sense and that was Charlie Pierce's argument. He doesn't have to vote for Obama, but he should at least try not to insult people who do yet root for the Red Sox.
I would say the same thing about Hollywood liberals, but they can't throw a decent curveball.

-And as an added bonus, if Curt and Charlie can post their messages, and commentators who dropped fully formed from the Pink Hamster's anus can post their comments, then I can insult all parties. That's the First Amendment.

-Al Davis used to be kind of a joke. Now he's a complete joke. I don't doubt that he had good reason to gong Lane Kifflin. But why bring up a tampering charge against the Pats 1 year later? Only ESPN and their attendant twits in Hater Nation are buying this. Caveat emptor.

-Let's see: the Mets disintegrate, the Cubs are awful in the playoffs and the Angels can't beat the Red Sox (well, up until this evening, I suppose). Is it still 2007?

-I understand nothing can be done about this, but I absolutely hate the fact that the circus is always in town during the first two weeks of the Bruin's season.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last word on Manny (for a while)...

The Sports Guy (gasp!) gets it right

I don't often give Bill Simmons credit, but he is right on this issue. Scott Boras has a LOT to answer for. Or, Manny is bi-polar. Either explanation works.

I particularly like the snarky comment about the Globe/NESN/WEEI/WRKO regurgitating the company line. Tee hee.

I apologize for the lack of snark here, but as a married man, I have to start acting like a grown up. (kidding!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good things other people wrote

Charlie Pierce's take on Curt Schilling's massive ego

So, over looking the cutesy jokes, inveterate Republican bashing and bizarre French phrases, Mr. Pierce is - once again - right on the money. Someone really needs to take away Curt Schilling's blogging rights before he completely implodes. Or he gets into a pistol duel with Manny or Kobe Bryant or whoever Curt is trashing this week. Sometimes, you really don't want to know what your favorite athlete thinks.

And I enjoyed the gratuitous shot at Dennis and Callahan. The closer we get to the election, the more I avoid them. But you could have guessed that anyways, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Patriots Week 3 in Review:

Let's see: what did the Pats do right in Week Three.

Kickoff returns.

That just about does it. They failed in just about every conceivable category. The offense was bad but the defense was much worse. You would think that they would eventually figure out that Ronnie Brown was going to get the ball in that bizarre shotgun formation that the Dolphins ran 6 times. Nope. Both of the offensive and defensive lines were awful, the linebackers were invisible and the secondary let Chad ****ing Pennington pass at will. Just an awful awful game from every conceivable standpoint.

The team has a lot of work to do. Many people are trying to pass this game off as an aberration. That might be true. The problem is, that it's just as likely that this is the culmination of the team taking a nose dive that started during some of the closer games last year and continued through the pre-season and first three weeks. It will be interesting to see what kind of team will take the field against the 49ers next Sunday.

Other thoughts:

-Why the kerfuffle over the fans booing the Patriots? The way they played, I can't understand any other reaction. I don't think "years of goodwill" or being a "spoiled" fan base has a thing to do. If the team plays awful, they deserve what they get. This is just as moronic as the on going bellyaching over how the Red Sox "over-celebrate". Excuse me? Why is this an issue? They're having fun. LET THEM. Gee, it didn't seem to affect them last year. Similarly, let the fans do what they want. As long as they aren't endangering players, swearing like sailors, or lighting themselves on fire, they should be allowed to express themselves.

-The NFL's power structure this year is awesome: the only teams that look good right now play in the NFC East. The rest of the league is a complete mess. The Steelers looked good for two weeks, then get beaten by the Eagles. The Bills might be the best team in the AFC, but they have trouble with the awful Raiders. And weren't the Jet's supposed to challenge for the AFC East title this year? Whoops!

-Patriots haters last year overindulged themselves with talk of * this and * that. The way this messed up season is going, everyone is going to have an *.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Well, that was painful. The Tampa Bay Rays have not technically clinched the AL East, but with a 2 game lead and the tie-breaker, this part of the post-season race is just about over. Without harping too much on how bad the Sox looked, credit must be due to the Rays who looked phenomenal after getting squashed on Monday.

But since this is a Red Sox-centric blog, we'll focus on how lousy the Red Sox looked in this series. No offense and yet another bull pen implosion on Tuesday. Little offense and horrific starting and relief pitching yesterday. Eek. Fortunately, there are a few more weeks to go because the team looked awful last night. Then again, they looked pretty abysmal last week and they turned around and took 3 out of 4 from the charging Blue Jays to get back in the race. Here's hoping that the same trend holds this time around. It is a good thing the playoffs do not start today.

More failure:

-Planet Mikey on WEEI. Does anyone involved in this show realize that Jason Bay is now the left fielder for the Red Sox? I listened for 20 minutes on Tuesday, and I thought I'd entered a time warp.
-The Red Sox bullpen. This has been a problem all season. It didn't ease my troubled mind when Papelbon almost coughed up the lead to Toronto on Sunday. With a better bullpen, the Red Sox are WELL ahead of Tampa Bay.
-The Big Show. Why would you irritate the 80% of your audience who plays fantasy football by bashing it? When did it become open season on Boston sports fans in BOSTON?
-Dane Cook day in Boston. Why? Just... why?
-Joey Porter. Let's see, you play for what was the worst team in football last year. And now you think the Patriots will be an easy win? Are you also in a time warp? What do you think about Manny?
-The Red Sox post game show on Tuesday. The game was tied going into the ninth. That's not a gutsy "come from behind win". That's one bullpen being better than the other.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Meanwhile, at Fenway Park...

Now that I've talked about the Patriots in 3 consecutive posts, here are some random thoughts about the Red Sox:

-Whatever the problem is with Papelbon needs to be solved now. The last inning of the series finale against Toronto was nightmarish only if you hadn't seen Paps implode against the Rays earlier in the week. Consider that the Red Sox would be tied for first had that not occurred. Since Tampa Bay is genetically predisposed to play tight games in late innings, this might come back to haunt the Red Sox again.

-This might be one of the better American League playoff fields in recent memory: a pain in the arse Rays team that doesn't understand they should be here, a frightening White Sox team that is cruising to the finish line the way they did in 2005 when they won the World Series, the unbelievably dominant Angels and the defending World Series Champions. Now watch the NL team win anyways - remember the 2006 Cardinals?

-Speaking of the Rays, the bandwagon I warned about earlier in the year never materialized. How on earth do you not get behind a team in first place that wins seemingly every close game they play in? It makes very little sense to me. If this happened in any other major league city, the place would sell out in EVERY single game.

-I hate to say this about someone who has been a stalwart with the Red Sox for many years, but Timlin shouldn't be coming out the bullpen in a tight game.

-Yes Jenny, it is nice to see Mike Lowell back.

-As annoyed as I usually am with the Yankees, they make great spoilers, don't they?

-I want to caution everyone not to get too excited: Yes the Red Sox look like a good bet to get to the post season. But if they can't beat Tampa Bay at all this week (and they haven't won a game at the Trop ALL SEASON), there is the chance of the Twins getting up off the mat and getting to within 3-4 games. Just a warning.

-For the record, Overbay was safe. I still think Toronto was toast after losing 2 games, never mind three.

-Would I rather have the division or the wild card? I'll take a playoff appearance any way you can get them - especially since there are no "easy" teams in this field. I suppose it's more "sexy" to win the division, but after the playoffs begin, who really cares? Okay, I'll take the division.

-It was premature to say this in July, but I'll say it now: the Rays are a legitimate threat to get to the World Series. I still think the Red Sox can take them in a seven game series, but the Sox have to get there first.

-Is this the year the Cubs finally win it all? And will people ever stop asking this question every year?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Patriots Game Review Week Two...

With the exception of the three Super Bowl wins, this is the sweetest win I can remember as a Patriots fans. So many people can pretty much bite me this evening:

-The New York press who was all but begging for Belichick to be publicly executed after the Jet "embarassed" the Patriots. How did that turn out?
-Jets fans who started chanting 18-1. How does 4-12 sound? Because if this is the best you can do, you'll be headed back there.
-The Pink Hamster. This "loser" in a Bruschi jersey enjoyed every moment of this. Stick to mooning over your sticky Sarah Palin photos and leave the football commentary to people who like sports. If you wanted to "shoot your way out" of your WRKO contract by bashing WEEI, you failed. Again.
-Shaugnessy - the Curly Haired Boyfriend - who started this nonsense by saying the Pats would make the Super Bowl. Just please. Stop. No more.
-Everyone on ESPN who - without exception- picked the Jets. Take my advice to Shaughnessy and just give up. I can't predict anything and apparently neither can you.
-The Patriots "fans" jumping off the bandwagon after the Brady injury. You're not fans. Go away. And leave the Red Sox and Celtics alone as well.
-The walking turds on the Herald message board - especially the Howie Carr apologists (just leave the state already), the idiot Jets fans, and the twits who said Brady "deserved" his injury because he wasn't faithful to Bridget Moynihan. What the hell does that have to do with sports? Talk about failure on a titanic level.

So now that my immature trash talking is over, the Pats find themselves matched up with a horrible Dolphins team next week. It seems easy, but the Pats struggled against a miserable Chiefs team and a massively over-hyped Jets team. Not to mention the fact that Pats were clueless on offense up until the touchdown drive in the third quarter. Eventually, Cassel and Randy Moss have got to get on the same page. I was pleasantly surprised by Lamont Jordan - I'd like to see more of him - and the defense got MUCH better in this game. Only Brett Favre's creativity kept the Jets moving. The special teams had a great game as well. It looks like this team is moving in the right direction despite the obvious lack of a Tom Brady.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"The Enemy is Us."

So the one thing about the Herald's latest Anti-Patriot atrocity that bugged me the most is the recent trend that seems to be popping up more and more frequently among the Three Horsemen of Boston's Sports Media (the Herald - plague, WEEI- war, and the Globe - boredom) is the concept that Boston sports fans are idiots. While listening to WEEI would give you that impression, I would counter than most Boston fans are normal people with normal lives who have jobs and families to worry about. These people aren't obsessed, but they do like Boston sports teams. For some reason, the general perception of sports fans in Boston are obsessive twits in multi-colored Red Sox hats who have plastered their mom's basement with "Yankees Suck" paraphernalia and couldn't find the letter "R" if you branded it on their forehead. I have yet to meet one person like that who wasn't a character in an awful Jimmy Fallon movie. ESPN latched onto this image for dear life when the Red Sox dared to win another World Series. We make great villains.

Yet, this bizarre characterization didn't start nationally. It started when Glenn Ordway began to refer to Big Show listeners as guys calling from their parent's basement. It then transfered to Pete Sheppard referring to people he didn't agree with as "turds" or "burger flippers", Ted Serandis screaming "I'm only human!", DeOssie and Smerlas practically challenging people to fights, and the utter disdain Dennis and Callahan have for everyone in creation. Soon, WEEI became a bizarre spectacle of a group of hosts who acted like they didn't like sports fans - or in some cases, even sports themselves. It reminded me of those Guns and Roses concerts where Axl would insult the audience and then stomp off. The difference was, this was happening daily.

Now we have four incidents in the past year where the Boston Herald tried their best to antagonize Patriots fans: the blatant New York Post rip off that was "Bellicheat", the sourceless Tomase article, the aforementioned Tony Massarotti abomination and the recent mind vomit from the Pink Hamster - who isn't even a sport columnist. Why would the Herald - which isn't exactly rolling in dough - going out of their way to anger Boston sports fans? It doesn't make a lot of sense, especially when none of these stories had a thing to do with "facts".

I'm starting to get the impression that with all the movement in the print media, a lot of people are trying to get "promoted" to other markets or end up at ESPN. What better way to impress the brass in Bristol than trashing the new Satan of American sports, the Boston sports fan?

The point isn't that Boston sports fans are wonderful and great at everything. We're not: a recent caller on WEEI didn't know that games in the AFC East counted as much as games outside the division and I have a bad feeling he wasn't alone. The point is that you can't trash your audience forever and get away. Or at least you shouldn't be able to.

One of these days, someone will kindly explain to me when we stopped being customers and started to be the enemy. And the better question is, why do we tolerate it?

Charlie: you've got some explaining to do, sir!

Whiny Patriots fans?

Do I even need to read the latest atrocity from our friend at the Herald to tell that it's not for my consumption? No, I really don't. I guess it's been a slow week for public employee hacks, Whitey Bulger news and GOP apologizing if Captain Tedium is going after the fans of the New England Patriots. Charlie Chaplin is a bad kitty for not destroying his computer months ago.

Of course, this is nothing new from the Herald who strayed severely from their "We Love the Pats" coverage (which used to be a nice change from the Sox obsessed Globe)drastically with their "Bellicheat" cover, John Tomase's imaginary St. Louis Rams walkthrough story, and Tony Massoratti's ill conceived story about losers in Tedy Bruschi jerseys. The hits just keep on coming.

Meanwhile, Bob Ryan says this better than I ever could. Come back off the ledge people. The Sox are 1.5 games out of first, and the Pats season hasn't ended. Yet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Patriots Week One in Review

Well the bad news is that with Tom Brady out for the year, there's probably no way this team will win the Super Bowl.

The good news is that without having to worry about hurting the opposing teams' "feelings" by running up the score, the Patriots now have to worry about winning football games.

Last season was not an enjoyable season by any stretch of the imagination. Ignoring the overwrought spectacle that was "SpyGate", we had a team that seemed more interested in setting records and not losing than they were in winning. Even winning the Super Bowl wouldn't have changed how off putting the season had become. All of that is now out the window. Regardless of how well Matt Cassel plays under center, it will now be much harder to win games. The Pats will have to use their defensive skills and balance the run with the pass more than they had to last year.

Week one doesn't really tell you a lot. I very much doubt that the Chargers, Colts and Browns will be anywhere near as incompetent as they looked on Sunday. I also very much doubt that the Pats will be unable to compete with the Bills (who looked good on Sunday) or the Jets (whose victory over the Dolphins was suspiciously similar to the one the Pats had over the Chiefs).

Despite the mewling from the media, the road is not impossible. It's just about 10 times more difficult. Lost in the hubbub over Brady's knee was two awful fumbles by wide receivers and a maddeningly inconsistent secondary. I have a feeling these might be just as costly as Brady's departure in the long run.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why the NFL is the most popular league in the US

As a recent poll on ESPN reminded me, there really is no contest any more as to which is the most popular league in this country. It's the NFL in a walk. Now, while I might think that the end of the baseball season is more important, most people feel that any NFL game is really much more crucial. I would disagree with this, given that not even going undefeated in an NFL regular season guarantees you anything (apparently), but I'm in the minority. Here are my theories as to why the NFL reigns supreme.

Vegas: At some point in the past 15 years, Las Vegas stopped being the place where sketchy people left their money and people dressed like Elvis and started becoming Mantown USA. Everybody now knows at least one guy who had his bachelor party in Vegas. Apparently, there's nothing more testosterone laden than blowing half your life savings in a game of poker where you're WAY over your head. Football has always been popular with people who like gambling, and there's usually at least one show on the radio every Saturday that covers point spreads and gives a "lock of the week".
(of course, this is why ESPN was pathetically fixated on SpyGate last year. Oh no, can't upset the gamblers, right? They might break Stuart Scott's legs!)

Madden Football: Who doesn't love losing by 41 points to your friend who figured out how to throw a Hail Mary on every play? I can't tell you how many arguments and hurt feelings I've had over the years thanks to this game. But the vicarious thrill of making the Cardinals win a Super Bowl can not be beat. I just can't risk the heartache of getting killed in this game. Yet again.

Fantasy Football: Every guy (sorry ladies) it seems has a fantasy football team. And I'm willing to bet most of them are better than the train wreck I always end up with. It certainly adds interest to any Sunday when you see a guy on your fantasy team is doing well. Unless you're playing me, in which case, it probably doesn't matter. I believe I've gone six years without successfully making a trade.

College football: I'd be willing to put the combined national attendance for Division I (or whatever the hell they're calling it these days) football up against any sport in the world - yes, soccer included. Think about how many giant stadiums there are in college football. Clearly, this is a ready made audience for the NFL and adds some excitement to the utterly uninteresting NFL draft. Even someone like myself who did not go to a school with a football team will get excited every Saturday in the fall.

The other sports are hopelessly flawed: Baseball is extremely poorly run, has post season games that end slightly after midnight, and never figured out a way of dealing with steroids. Basketball is run in an even worse fashion, has playoff games that end even later and is mired in an officiating scandal that would - if the average American had any intelligence whatsoever - trump the MLB steroid scandal and Spy Gate. The NHL has relegated themselves to near irrelevance by a decade plus of suicidal decisions. NASCAR's popularity defies all logic but it still does not approach football. Golf is wedded to the spectacle of Tiger embarrassing everyone - without him, no one cares. Tennis is not popular and I have no idea why. The last remaining option is World Series of Poker tournaments from 4 years ago. Sorry, I'll pass.

Sunday: This might be the top reason why the NFL dominates in popularity. The games are on once a week, usually on a day that 95% of the population has off, and thus constitutes a "spectacle". It really doesn't matter if you lose even 60 baseball games. 1 football loss can be ruinous - just not as much so as in college.

Those are my ideas. Culled from various sources and of course, other people's arguments. Notice that I didn't put anything in about the game itself. While football can be fun to watch, it can also be a hopelessly irritating sludge of 1 yard runs, mindless penalties and endless commercials. No sport is perfect.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A month to go: college hockey events I want to see...

Just to get myself in the mood for college hockey, here are some things I'd like to see happen. And, the chances of that actually occurring.

"Hockey East Semi-final Round features UML, UMA, PC and NU"- This would be a great time. Not only would the league's head explode due to the lack of the "traditional" powers, but the novelty would be awesome. And the best part is, you can sub Merrimack or UVM for any of these teams and have just as awesome a spectacle.
Chances of seeing this: The way the league is currently organized, slim to none.

"AIC wins the National Championship"- From worst... to first.
Chances of seeing this: 0

"Northeastern wins Beanpot"- With all of 4 Beanpots, does any fan base more deserve a win in this tournament?
Chances of seeing this: We say this yearly, but the Huskies keep getting better. This is not entirely outside of the realm of possibility. But... it never happens. Harvard is probably a better bet.
BTW: I excluded the GLI from this list because the "visitor" this year is UND. The Fighting Sioux win something annually. That's not impressive. MTU winning, would be something, but they still have about twice as many GLI trophies as NU does Beanpots.

"UAA wins the WCHA"- ... and then come the flying pigs.
Chances of seeing this: The WCHA usually boasts 5-6 tourney capable teams so this isn't entirely outside the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, it never seems to come together for the Sea Wolves. The chances are probably not good.

"UAF wins CCHA" - ... temperatures drop precipitously in Hell....
Chances of seeing this: Low. Since the Nanooks are usually worse than the Seawolves, this doesn't look promising either.

"Brown wins something other than the Mayor's Cup"- Brown is another team that always promises to be a competitor.
Chances of seeing this: Decent. Basically, I'd just like to see them torture someone other than PC.

"PC gets to the NCAA tournament"- Sigh.
Chances of seeing this: After last year? Abysmal

"Charlie Chaplin destroys someone elses computer"- Please, let this happen!
Chances of seeing this: Not goodUnless he gets access to some keys...