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.