Friday, February 29, 2008

Boston sports media: Team by team break down

The Boston Bruins:
I love the Bruins. Too bad no one else seems to care. Perhaps its because they haven't done anything in the playoffs since 1999? And they haven't gotten within sniffing distance of the Stanley Cup since 1990? Yep, its been a while...

TV: I like Jack Edwards. Except for the fact that he seems to get very very excited when the other team scores. He's no Fred Cusick, but I think he's done a good job replacing Dale Arnold.

Radio: They're decent. It would be a trip to see Bob Ellis of WUML fame take over this job, but I have no complaints about the radio team.

The Boston Celtics:
Having rooted for this team during the M.L. Carr/Rick Pitino years and the train wreck that was last year, I wish I had a pitchfork to push everyone off the bandwagon who showed up when Kevin Garnett was acquired.

TV: Mike Gorman is great. Tommy Heinsohn's schtick is probably getting old, but it still cracks me up. I agree with him on the competence level of NBA officials and I enjoy the "Tommy Point" silliness, but I do miss "I! LOVE! WALTAH!"

Radio: Sean Grande is okay. Cedric Maxwell is unbelievably awesome. He's funny, smart, incisive and I get the impression that he's actually rooting against the C's. Yet I still like him.

The Boston Red Sox:
If I need a pitchfork to get rid of the C's Bandwagoneers, I need a steam shovel to clear out the Pink Hats and their Jason Variteck fetish. And can we please stop with the idiotic "Yankees Suck" garbage now that its actually true?

TV: Very good. I wish Jerry Remy would stop trying to sell me things. Is there anything better than watching the post game show and marveling at the Eck's mullet or Sam Horn's insane wardrobe choices?

Radio: Many people have a problem the fact that Joe Castiglione never gives the score of the game and gets unbelievably depressed when the Red Sox are losing. The score thing bothers me, but I get depressed when the Sox are losing so why shouldn't he?

New England Patriots:
The Super Bowl was depressing. But this is still the best team in the region, if not the country. Don't jump off the Tobin Bridge yet.

TV: I hate national broadcasters. John Madden is a perfect 10 on the unintentional comedy scale.

Radio: While I do appreciate that the broadcast team is ancient and in need of new blood, I really don't see what the hurry is.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rant of the Week: End of February, end of the road?

I suppose the good news is that I survived.

PC's tourney hopes might not have survived however. With one piddly win over last place Merrimack, the Friars could have - should have - moved a step closer to home ice.
That did not happen and now the Friars are stuck in a tie for fifth place.
It is difficult to say what went wrong (everything) and more difficult to say what PC needs to do now (something different?). Clearly, whatever the team has been doing since that OT win over Vermont is not working now. The end of February is a horrible time to start trying something new, but I fear this season might be over prematurely if something doesn't change soon.

(see, now THAT is pessimism!)

Random Rants:
-The Bruins are red hot. The Celtics have regained their momentum. This is good because I could not care less about Spring Training. Spring Training is right up there with the women's Final Four, the Boston Marathon (I always have to work that day!), the NFL Draft and the World Series of Poker as the "sporting" events I care least about. Baseball does not really begin until opening day.

-Tip for ESPN; if you're going to cover poker on your "sports" channel, you should probably just bite the bullet and cover the WWE as well. Actually, pro wrestling requires much more athleticism than sitting around and staring a cards for 3 hours so maybe the "fake" sport is more real than the crap ESPN has been deluging us with for the past 3 years. Depressing, isn't it?

-While I'm dishing out free advice, congress needs to go back to the business of running our country. Actually, given how poorly our government works, maybe they should stick to steroids and Spygate. Because the economy, Iraq and the environment are clearly beyond their puny intellects.

-I love the idea of a blog dedicated to complaining about WCHA fans! I also enjoy getting a shout out over here: WCHA Whiners blog
And yes, I do think I can compete in this! Nobody is crankier than me! No one! Can you hear me?!! Hahahaha!

-Well, maybe this is competition: Tech Hockey Blog (MTU) (I still think I'm whinnier than MeanEgirl. See, this is the way my ego works - "I'm WAY lamer than you!" Sigh.)

-And this: UML Blog (I don't think he's whining, but he ain't happy)

-And while we're on the subject, if your blog is about WCHA whining, why would you let UNH fans win? Huh?

-Hi Mar- oh, forget it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rant of the week: I hate this week

What can you say about the week where your cat destroys $750 worth of property, you can no longer open your car's gas tank without major help, you end up in a horribly uninteresting job just to keep from getting bored, a snow storm conspires to keep you from an exciting trip to North Andover, and every conversation - whether it be on the phone, in person, or even on stupid Instant Messenger becomes a horrible painful ordeal? You say, "good riddance".

If this week was a man, I would knee him in the crotch and proceed to kick the week's head until it was a bloody pulp.

Thank God its Friday indeed.

Random Rantings:

-Watching BC and UNH fans exchange pleasantries on USCHO is sickening. Where's the Matti/Ayers bickering when you need it?

-BU is scary. UVM? Not so much. Maine? Not at all.

-If PWR is to be believed, right now all of two teams are going to make to the NCAA's. If this isn't a giant cry for help in this conference, I don't know what is. If NU and PC have good weekends, that number will go up to three. Part of the problem is the utter cluster**** that is the WCHA. What PC (and NU, actually) NEED to happen is for one or two of these teams to get hot (my bet would be on MSU-M and Wisconsin) and put some distance between themselves and the rest. CC, UND, and DU are probably as good as in. You have to hope that everyone else scrapes along the rest of the way. I'm not even going to try to figure out the CCHA. Miami and Michigan have been #1 and #2 so long that I can't imagine anyone else pulling the upset - well, maybe our good friends at MSU can help with that. And as usual, PC needs help: Michigan, MSU, Union and Clarkson need to keep chugging along. SLU is a lost cause. Don't get me started on Holy Cross. PC's fatal mistake was losing to the Crusaders. The Goons would be in much better shape had that game not taken place.

-Speaking of general trends, its entirely possible that Hockey East is actually WORSE this year. No one outside of UNH has covered themselves in glory and the fact that the conference is banking its hopes on the Kitties is frightening after the disappearing act that UNH did in the last two games of the previous seasons. The amusing this is that everyone in the league is better. But if only two teams out of 10 get into the post season, its going to be awfully hard to spin that as a good thing.

-I think Matt Walsh is a liar. So there. I don't think he has a tape of the Ram's walkthrough. I don't he even has a tape of "Batman". ESPN is just stupid.

-Someone needs to let the Celtics know that the All Star break is over.

-As I said before, the comments section on this blog is open. If anyone, ANYONE: Jenny, Mark (haha), grumpy MTU fans who want to debate my feelings on the WCHA, and even people pretending to be a rabbi (!!) want to make a comment, feel free.

-And one final note, I hope everyone had a better week than I did!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Comments section has been fixed!

I'm still getting used to Blogger. In my stupidity, I didn't allow comments from non-Blogger users. That has been FIXED. Feel free to argue/flame/compliment/insult to your heart's desire.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rant of the week: Polls? Bwa ha ha ha ha!

For all the things that piss me off about college hockey, there are a few things I do like. First of all, unlike college football, there is a tournament. And unlike college basketball, college hockey uses this magical numerical formula called "pairwise" to decide who gets into the NCAA tournament. I don't understand pairwise, but thank God it's there. Using "simple math" (sorry Scooby) we can figure out who is in the tournament and who is out of the tournament at any given time. The upshot of this is that the polls and rankings everyone comes up with are useless. So everyone is happy and joyous, right? Wrong.

For some reason, there is a certain class of people in this world that just likes to argue about things endlessly. One fun subject to argue about is polls. So and so is ranked too high! So and so is ranked too low! Blah blah blah! This is sure fun in college football where the BCS and their crazy computer rankings are subject to human error. This is also a grand old time in college basketball where the tournament participants are seemingly decided by a gang of drunk and/or stoned monkeys. But we don't have that in college hockey. The polls are basically a prestige thing. I can put on the Coffin Online page that PC is the number 14 team in the country. The problem is, that doesn't mean anything. Its just fun to refer to PC as the top 14 team in the country.

Basically, polls and arguing about them are stupid. But they do serve one purpose: I get to make fun of people who talk about them! Hooray for me!

Next target: people who like to compare conference strengths. Coming soon...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Does anyone remember gooning?

Once upon a time, games involving New Hampshire and Providence College, involved lots of cheap shots, controversy, and a lot of complaining. Unfortunately, when Paul Pooley left the PC bench, this evaporated. To be brutally honest, Pooley's teams were exceedingly undisciplined. And UNH fans were much much whinier. Hence the drama. Two incidents stand out: the handshake brawl in 1997 and Jason Platt introducing a mouthy Colin Hemmingway to the glass at the Coffin in 2002. Thus was a great - if irritatingly one sided rivalry born!

Sadly, this is no longer the case. Providence College is now the second least penalized team in Hockey East. New Hampshire is - stunningly - the most penalized team in the conference. the Skating Mother Theresas are now the Skating Goons. You'd think there would be more made of this. But since there aren't that many PC fans on the interenet to begin with, you're never going to get the depth of whining that you'd hear at the Whittemore Center. While I'm certainly no fan of the officiating in Hockey East, I'd be hard pressed to blame any of PC's losses this year on the ref's (okay, maybe the tie at Merrimack was the fault of the officials as PC had two goals called off because the ref was 50 feet away from the net, but that's the most you'll get out of me). The roles are reversed, but not really.

What is important than the perception of goonery is that PC's PWR fell enough to disqualify them from the NCAA tournament. Apparently, UVM - who looked pretty solid from my vantage point - did not count as a quality loss. Losing a game to UNH wouldn't hurt quite as much. If PC can get a split, they could be back in business. It will be difficult to pull off a win, but not impossible. PC might just pull this off after all. Just don't expect the rampatant goonery this series used to have. Unless its a parade of Kitties going to the box... Nice change, eh?

Random notes:
-As you can see, I decided NOT to mock the Beanpot for the second consecutive week. The only snoozer this year was NU/HU and BU did not win. Here's you're reward: non mockery.

-Somebody give the UML fans a hug.

-Tip for WCHA fans: Whining about every non-WCHA team ranked in the top 10 is moronic. It makes you look provincial and stupid and there's no possible way you can prove that Michigan or Miami or even UNH would finish in the middle of the WCHA. Because they wouldn't. I'm sorry, but now that I'm seeing WCHA games every weekend, I'm can't possibly see how the middle of the pack in that conference is vastly superior to everyone else. Especially now that Minnesota is terrible. I don't care how many "cupcakes" you think everyone else schedules. Anyone remember 2003 when the WCHA crowing that Cornell would finish below MTU in the WCHA led directly to the Big Red dismantling MSU-Mankato? Well, it happened. So there.

-Jon's favorite Celtic: Rajon Rondo.

-Tip for non-Giants fans crowing about the Super Bowl. Talk to me when your team even PLAYS in that game.

-Team to watch in the last month of the Hockey East season: BU. I don't like this scenario at all. Team to ignore: Maine. This is kind of funny, huh?

-Helping out PC recently: Michigan, Clarkson, Union.
Not helping: SLU, MSU (!), Brown
Not even remotely participating: Holy Cross
Yeah, I'm paying attention and I do hold a grudge.

-Football Club Northern Tiberon is going UP! Finally. after 5 years of trying to get out of division V, my Hattrick team ( is finally getting promoted! And yes, I'm always open to playing a friendly or two. Ahem.

-Might I remind the two or three USCHO posters who keep telling me about Roboshark that this is MY imaginary robot shark best friend! Get your own! (just kidding. Roboshark is very real)

-Hi Mark! Okay, someone tell Mark I'm still doing these...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

WEEI vs Jon

So, I'm sitting in the back seat of my buddy's SUV this morning at about 2AM when the conversation turns to WEEI - mostly in an attempt to keep ourselves awake. I'm not going to name names, but one of the people in the SUV works in the local sports media so he had all sorts of fun stories to tell about our local "celebrities". Suffice to say, he had very few positive things to say about WEEI. For those of you who do not live in the Boston area, WEEI is the top sports radio station in the area. They also carry the Celtics games, Boston College basketball and football and the occasional Red Sox game during the season.

When i was young, I enjoyed WEEI immensely. The station carried to the Red Sox games and if I'm not mistaken, they carried the Bruins as well. The shows were entertaining and the hosts had the ability to talk about sports in general. At some point, while I was in college, this changed.

When I graduated from PC, WEEI suddenly lost the ability to discuss the Bruins and Celtics. Of course, both of those teams were horrible so this kind of made sense. Unfortunately, this became a permanent feature of the station. The next thing to go was college sports. The station carries - and continues to carry - live broadcasts of college athletics, but don't even try to discuss those sports on the air. This ability apparently ended when Ted Serandis was booted from the 7PM to midnight shift. Ted wasn't popular guy on the station but at least he gave college athletics a fair shake. He lost points by being a shill for BC basketball and being good pals with Tim Welsh (for some reason) but he could at least discuss them.

But the real problem with WEEI is politics. I have no idea why WEEI decided that they had to emulate WRKO, their sister station. WRKO is one of those useless right wing talk stations that actually managed to find an equally moronic and unlistenable left wing host to "anchor" their morning shift. Add in the completely irrelevant Rush Limbaugh and the agonizing repetitive shtick of Howie Carr and you have Jon kryptonite. Well apparently, WEEI decided that this crap was such ratings gold that they exported it to WEEI. Now, while we're hearing about Spring Training and Kevin Garnett and the weekly interview with Tom Brady, we're also deluged by lame right wing ranting. Great.

The callers actually seem to be getting worse. First off, they seem unable to call BS on any of the silly political/sports crap they hosts are spewing. Secondly, the cult of the "signature caller" has resulted in an influx of nimrods who get on the air every day and add NOTHING to the conversation. And last of all, I point to the existence of "the whiner line". Ugh.

So let's recap: no hockey, politics, and a sea of jackanapes waiting on hold. Gee, sign me up. The fact that this crap was unlistenable during the Red Sox run to the World Series AND the Patriots abortive run at a perfect season AND the Celtic's new found competence is absolutely tragic.

Here are my alternatives to irritating sports talk radio:

-NPR: Yes, I am a public radio geek. I draw the line at "Prairie Home Companion", but I love "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," "Car Talk," "Sez You," and whatever jazz or blues program they have at night. I can't stand the endless pledge drives, but that's a small price to pay. And I'll argue against NPR being a haven for left wing propaganda until the day I die.

-WFAN: For some reason, while Boston sports radio irritates me, I'm amused by New York sports radio. At any given point in New York/New Jersey, there will be about 5-7 miserable fanbases. Yes, Giants fans are very happy and Mets fans aren't far behind, but what about the Knicks? See, endless fun. Plus, Mike and the Mad Dog haven't annoyed me yet. And Steve Sommers is the greatest radio host ever.

-WFNX: I'm not a huge fan of the "new" alternative scene, but I'm starting to like "The Sandbox."

-WBCN: Ah, my dark secret. I like "Opie and Anthony" better than any other morning radio show. The musical selection throughout the day is just okay. But I am endlessly drawn despite common sense and my own snobbish good taste to the goofy mess that is the "Toucher and Rich" show. And I hope that one day in my travels throughout Boston, I will be able to donate a couple of million eights to the Chili Guy who is, after all, a state police officer in days and years.

As I promised, tomorrow I'll compare the Beanpot teams to the GLI teams as I attempt to bridge the East coast/ West coast bias and make fun of Harvard in the bargain!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rant of the week: February 2nd - February 9th

Before I depress myself and try to put my feelings about the latest Super Bowl into words, let's get to a subject that has been near and dear to my heart for as long as I've watched college hockey: the Beanpot. Many in the boston are think that the college hockey world lives and dies in regards to this annual tournament. Here's the problem:

It doesn't.

I do like the Beanpot. Its televised college hockey and it does produce at least one great game every year (this year's opening rounder between BC and BU was fantastic). It also skeezes out WEEI every year when someone tries to interrupt the station's Red Sox whoring and/or lame right wing diatribes by discussing the tournament. Still, I do like the Hockey East tournament better. The reason for this is simple: 10 teams have the potential to win the Hockey East tournament. Four teams have a chance at the Beanpot. If you live outside the city of Boston, its hard to figure out what the excitement is all about. Especially if you aren't a BU fan. I understand that BC has dominated the Hockey East tournament for the past 10 years, but that is nothing compared to what BU has done to the Beanpot. 28 titles in 55 years. By comparison, Northeastern has 4. I don't know if Vegas allows you to bet on this tournament, but I doubt you can make much money by betting on BU every year. Except for this year, it is the Jack Parker Invitational.

But is that a problem? If BU wants to win this tournament every year, good for them. It speaks well of their program, even if it does tend to diminish the drama of an event if you know who is going to win every time. It is why ESPN classic is so useless (well, that and showing Notre Dame/Michigan football games from 1971). So how do you stop BU from running away with the Beanpot every year without destroying the event? I don't think you can. Assuming that you hate BU, how do you solve that problem?

The only solution I've ever seen is that Harvard and Northeastern be replaced by UNH and Maine. Its a horrible idea: these four teams meet up 3-6 times a year anyways. What could possibly be gained by having them play 2 additional non-conference games against teams they already play anyways? Its horrifically unfair to Harvard and Northeastern. The Crimson have more conference titles recently than BU has. There's nothing to be gained by defiling history. But as much as it would hurt the tournament to get rid of one or two of the teams, it could be argued that having a "floating" fourth member would help.

This is a topic I've done to death for many years. The reason I'm bringing it back is because I finally have something to compare the Beanpot. As you should already know, Providence College participated in the Great Lakes Invitational this year and I immediately liked the tournament better than the Beanpot. It isn't just because the Friars were there. If you break down the titles won by each of the three "host teams" (yeah, I know, MSU isn't a host team and Michigan is "sharing" the host duties with MTU, but rather than get into the history of who is hosting what, I'm just going to label the Spartans a "home" team and be done with it), its much more even than the Beanpot. You would think that Michigan would have the most titles and they do. But they have one more than MSU and three more than MTU. So why are things so even - relatively speaking? Because of the fourth spot changes from year to year. Its a tougher tournament when you have a North Dakota or a BC showing up every once in a while.

While I think the GLI is better tournament than the Beanpot (hey if PC is there, I at least have a rooting interest!) , I think that has more to do with me than the tournament itself. As I said earlier, there is usually at least one great game to watch. And of course, I'm naturally biased against anything that is that heavily biased towards the Terriers. I had to mention that at least once.

Next week, I'll let you know that I kind of like the GLI teams better than the Beanpot teams. And I go into details. Get ready to drop a "f bomb" or two!

Random rants:
-Note for the Bruins and Celtics: stop mourning the Super Bowl and start winning some games. I really don't want to have to wait until Spring Training to get interested in professional sports again.

-I'm not a big fan of the current state of Friar hoops, but can the fanbase focus on the crappiness of the team and NOT succumb to arguing with one another over whether or not fans should boo their team? How patient can you be when the team goes on a four game losing streak? Again. This is a yearly tradition. That's the problem, NOT whether or not our fans are "classy" enough. What's next, an earnest discussion of the fan wardrobe?

-My cat is insane. I just wanted to let someone know.

-Vote for Roboshark!

-Now that I live in the area, I'm mentally debating whether or not to check out a Catholic Memorial hockey game. For those of you not living in Massachusetts, CM is the Yankees of high school hockey. I probably won't be rooting for them, but it would be nice to see a future Hockey East All Star line on the ice.

-Hi Mark!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rant part 2A.

Tyler Sims makes Jon look like he knows what he's talking about...

Don't expect this to happen every week.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rant part two: Defending Tyler Sims

So this is where the last rant was leading me: the whipping boy for the past two years of Friar hockey has been Tyler Sims, the senior number one goaltender. To me, this is a bit unfair. But let me start by acknowledging two things. First of all, Tyler is not perfect. He does seem to let in a soft goal or two every game and he seems to be in the wrong position on other goals. The fact that I'm not a hockey expert and I figured this out on my own is telling. Second of all, Tyler was brought it to be the back up to Bobby Geopfert. Unfortunately, Bobby got caught in that plagiarism scandal and eventually ended up at St. Cloud. So Tyler was forced into duty. In 2005-2006, Ryan Simpson was brought in to challenge for the position. After one game, Ryan has spent the rest of his college career managing to get injured. Basically, its been Tyler and Chris Mannix - who has done a fantastic job spotting Sims - for most of Tim Army's reign. Not the best situation for any coach.

But I think blaming Tyler solely for the mess we've sat through for the past 2 years is ridiculous. First of all, the scoring last year was non-existant. No forward on the team had a good year and since the defense in Army's system leads to offense, it probably doesn't help that Cody Wild missed significant time, he being PC's best defenseman. Speaking of defense, they've been turnover prone. While I agree that Tyler probably could have made some of the saves that turned into goals, there's only so much you can do when you give up 3-5 odd man rushes per game or in some cases (ie, the Michigan game) per PERIOD. And while we're on the subject, when the defense and offense are struggling, its quite predictable that the power play and penalty kill aren't going to be very good either.

The second defense I can make for Tyler is this: despite him - again, I agree with this statement - not being the second coming of Mario Proulx or Chris Terreri, Tyler Sims is Providence College's ALL TIME leader in shutouts. He has to be doing something right. And the fact that Tyler actually has a decent record in Alfond Arena - a place where the Friars went 15 years between wins! - speaks volumes.

Third, my fiancee says he's okay. She makes my decisions for me. Thanks honey. :)
All this being said, I'd be happy to give Mannix or Simpson a start this weekend. Tyler has done the job by himself for all of this year and it would be nice to give him a rest. The last two times PC has been in this situation they had Ballard/Schaefer (2001) and Schaefer/Geopfert (2003). Having a good back up to spot the starter or challenge for the number one spot is a good position to be in.

Random ranting:

- I hate the two week layoff between the NFC/AFC title games and the Superbowl. We've learned NOTHING since the status of Tom Brady's foot was laid to rest.

-Sometime before Monday, I will compare the Beanpot to the GLI. That should and will piss some people off. Oh well...

-What is wrong with Boston sports? I know it was too much to have the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics cruising at the same time, but in the past three weeks, the Bruins have show a smidgen of competence. So why did the Celtics choose this time to completely lose the plot? I don't think Kevin Garnett's injury is the culprit here. The Celts did just fine last night with KG on the bench and Dirk Notwitzki eating them alive.

-I hate to join the "Fire Tim Welsh" bandwagon. But ten years of inertia is pushing me in that direction. The problem is that even if you get every PC basketball fan in existence to call for the man's head, its probably not going to happen. And for any of you aspiring coaches out there, this a golden opportunity because PC doesn't get rid of ANYONE.

-I'm not too broken up Johan Santana joining the Mets. It would have been nice to have him even if the Sox had to trade some of the young talent. After all, that's why we have them here to begin with.

-If you want a real laugh - and you aren't a conservative - check out the link to Adventures in Jennyland and read the 16 part (!) mega-post about W's state of the Union address. I wish I could be that funny.

-I have a nasty feeling that Celtic aren't going to make up that four point gap in the SPL. If falling Scottish "Fitbah!" for an extended period of time has taught me anything, its that when Celtic wins the league, its usually by 12 points. When Rangers win, its by 1 point or goal differential. And it looks like it might be a 1 point/goal differential type of year.
Once again, hi Mark!