Saturday, December 31, 2011

Scoreboard Watching On New Year’s Day

Denarius MooreThis could be the final weekend of Oakland Raiders football. The good news is they can qualify for their first playoff berth in nine seasons as long as they beat the San Diego Chargers at home and either of the following scenarios plays out:


Raiders beat the Chargers and the Broncos lose to the Chiefs. The Raiders would finish with a better record than the Broncos, which is necessary since the Broncos own the tiebreaker.


Raiders beat the Chargers, Broncos beat the Chiefs, Ravens beat the Bengals and either the Jets beat the Dolphins or the Texans beat the Titans. In this scenario the Raiders win the tiebreaker against the Bengals, Jets and Titans.

That come from ahead loss against the Lions two weeks ago cost the Raiders dearly. If they had won, the AFC West would have been wrapped up already since I do NOT see them losing to a Chargers team that has absolutely nothing to play for. After tomorrow’s game, we’re expecting Norv Turner to be fired by the Chargers but it’s possible general manager A.J. Smith will also walk the plank.

Can the Jets beat the Dolphins? I hear Reggie Bush is injured, which helps tremendously. Can the Ravens beat the Bengals? I can see it happening. Can the Texans beat the Titans? Absolutely. Wade Phillips is back at work and his defense should also be back to where it was before he was hospitalized.

Tomorrow the local FOX and CBS affiliates will broadcast the Jets-Dolphins and the Panthers-Saints games in the morning and then I’ll be watching the Raiders-Chargers game on CBS with one eye on the scoreboard in the afternoon.

It should be a fun New Year’s Day regardless how this turns out for the Raiders.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who needs Shanny?

Shanny's doing a good job in my opinion and I think his role is a very important one but obviously the Boston Bruins don't need him to stick up for them.  Do you think Shanny should or will penalize Raffi Torres for this hit on Andrew Ference last night?  Doesn't matter, I suspect, in the eyes of the Bruins...Adam McQuaid took care of it already.  Just taking care of our own. 

You would think Raffi would have learned his lesson by now, particularly given how things went during last year's Stanley Cup Finals.
Love 'em or hate 'em, you know if you screw with the Bruins, they'll beat you on the score board and kick your ass if you deserve it, unflinchingly.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Houston Antwine 1939-2011

This is a name football fans my age and younger are mostly unfamiliar with, especially if you're not from the New England area.  Houston Antwine died Monday of heart failure at the age of 72, ironically the day before his wife would die of lung cancer.
Antwine is a member of the Patriots 50th Anniversary team, as well as a member of the All-Time AFL team.  He played tackle for the Pats from 1961 (the year I was born) until 1971, amassing 39 sacks during that time and along with Jim Lee "Earthquake" Hunt formed a formidable tackle duo during the '60s.  Antwine was a six-time AFL All Star.  He played his college football at Southern Illinois. He was also a nominee, though not selected, for the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2011.
There's some cool old game footage in a short video at this link, which is slightly different than the video below.

In other Patriots "news," enjoy the new sidebar photo, which takes care of two fetishes (at least) in one.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, sports fans, readers of BoSox Tavern and, since it's the only sport on today, hoops fans.

One good thing about the NBA lockout is it allowed the scheduling of five very compelling games today, starting off with the Celtics at the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.  You have the Celtics (sans Paul Pierce), the most storied franchise in the league's history, with four superstars and one last chance at another championship, against a Knick team that's finally relevant again, playing in the most historic arena in the country.  It is good for the league and sports fans to have the Knicks competitive again.  New York City is not only the biggest media market in the country but it is far and away the biggest basketball city in the country.
If you didn't get to see the NBA on TNT commercial that aired just before tip-off, look for it.  It's an excellent blending of new and old video clips that is very well done and realistic looking; Dirk against Bird, for instance.
Do you plan on watching any games today?  Are you glad the NBA is back?  You can consider this post as an open forum to make any comment you'd like regarding the NBA.
Here's the lineup on TV today:  Celtics @ Knicks; in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, Heat @ Mavericks -- I assume we'll see a banner raising -- Bulls @ Lakers in a matchup that could be a preview for the finals; Orlando @ Oklahoma City, superstars and one team capable of being in the finals; finishing off with the new-look and maybe for the first time relevant Clippers against Golden State.  The Clippers will be very fun to watch this year.
UPDATE:  Here's that Forever NBA commercial:

I know many of my generation rave about the '80s NBA of Bird and Magic, et al, but for me it was the '70s.  It may have been a bad era for the health of the league but to me as a teenager the flare of the league at that time was so much fun.  It was a flare with innocence, as opposed to whatever the current corporate NBA is called.

He Said It

He cost me fantasy playoffs last week. He spewed his mouth about playing really hard for his fantasy owners and rushed for 60 yards while I had Reggie Bush on my bench, who got 27 pts. AP is done. He will be out almost all next season. Going to be bad Adrian. – Yahoo! commenter “Brett”, giving his two cents on an article about Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson injuring his knee in yesterday’s win over the Washington Redskins.

This is why I hate fantasy football, or to be precise, why I give the stink eye to someone who confesses they play fantasy football. It’s one thing to leave a high-scoring player on the bench. It’s cold and heartless to tell the world a player suffering a severe leg injury cost them their precious league title.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jay Williams

Jason Williams, not Jayson Williams.  I'm not the biggest basketball fan, especially college hoops; but I knew who he was coming out of Duke and being drafted 2nd overall, behind Yao Ming, by the Chicago Bulls.  Then, of course, I heard about his career-ending motorcycle accident after his rookie season and all the hew and cry about how stupid he was.  But to be honest, I had no idea who Jay Williams was as a person and had no idea what happened to him after his accident, whether he ever played again or even walked.
I was channel flipping this afternoon and just happened to catch this interview with him on "Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable."  You can tell he sincerely does not feel sorry for himself and listen to him explain why he wouldn't change anything.

One of the best interviews I've seen in quite some time. Don't you wish, as I do, that people like him are still playing and those who don't appreciate their gifts are the ones who had the motorcycle accident?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Embarrassment of riches

With the Patriots win over the Broncos on Sunday, they've become AFC East Champs for the 9th time in the last 11 years and sit on top of the AFC; but that's not really anything that we selfish and spoiled  incredibly fortunate New England area sports fans care about.  We care about winning the big one and that just got even more difficult with the loss of Andre Carter Sunday.  It's hard to imagine this defense could be any worse but Carter was the Patriots' best and only real pass rusher.  But they find a way to win games, and the one thing that separates them from most other franchises is the fact they don't make dumb mistakes and don't go into slumps.
Do the Patriots really have a legitimate chance of winning the Super Bowl?  Well, watching them beat the Broncos (which is a big PHEW, by the way.  I couldn't have taken the embarrassment) makes me optimistic and pessimistic.  The Broncos ran all over the Pats in the first quarter but the Pats made some adjustments, got some opportunistic turnovers and capitalized.  And watching teams that I feel are better than the Pats get beat this weekend makes me more optimistic; BUT there are teams out there with offenses as good or nearly as good as the Pats but with better defenses.  I feel like the Pats would beat the Steelers and Ravens and Texans more often than not and, therefore, have a solid chance to go to the Super Bowl; but getting there and losing is of no interest to me.  I certainly have concerns about their chances of beating Green Bay and New Orleans; in fact, I don't like their chances.  So while I'd rather have the Pats win than lose regular season games; it doesn't do that much for me knowing we're likely not going to win the Super Bowl.

On to your defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, who continue to look like the best team in the NHL.  Even when they don't play well, they win.  Look at their goal differential, plus 48, which makes my alter ego shut up a little bit.  The alter ego worries that not having a sniper could be a problem.
Did you enjoy that absolute beat-down of the Flyers late last week?  I know they've lost a couple of key players but that game wasn't even as close as the score.  And then on to beating the Habs last night, which makes up a little bit for losing a home-and-home to them earlier this season, which came at the end of the Bruins 3-7 start.  Can you imagine the Bruins' record if they'd started the same way they've played over the last 22 games (19-2-1)?  Or if their other #1 line of Krecji, Horton and Lucic was clicking all the time?
I really don't have too much to say -- their play and record speaks for itself -- other than to put in a plug for Patrice Bergeron, who I argue has gone overlooked as one of the best two-way players and best defensive forwards in the league.  At the very least he should finally be nominated for, if not win, the Selke this year.  Here's a brief two-minute video showing the goal and a brief conversation.  The video I want showing the goal from a couple of angles and slowed down isn't available.

Here's a bonus video for you folks who can't get enough Gronk...Gronk at TD Garden.

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Stories That I Am Following

1) Chris Jaffe's two articles on the Cooperstown case for:.  The first one was on Tim Raines and the second on Jeff Bagwell.  They are both HOF worthy IMO, but probably won't make the cut again.

2)  The Div I-AA FCS Subdivision championship game.  The ND State Bison are rolling after destroying Georgia Southern in the semi-finals.  That is the Georgia Southern team that put up 23 points on Alabama.  They put up 7 on the Bison defense.  'Bama sucks.

3)  The LeBron Rule in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement which prohibits players from holding an ownership stake in a player-management firm or from acting as NBPA certified agents.  Betcha the brick is proud to have a rule named after him.

4)  The Lucic suspension for his boarding of Philly's Zac Rinaldo.  It might have not warranted a suspension, but the B's have gotten away with some dirty shots with only fines, not suspensions.  It is probably a make-up call by Brendan Shanahan, who is starting to look less by the book and more judgement call like Colin Campbell was.

5)  Sean Salisbury has fallen.  It used to be that he would comment and call on some real football.  Now he is the main play-by-play guy on Lingerie Football.  That comes close to being former WWE Wrestler Chyna performing at strip clubs and porn shoots.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

He Said It

“I mean, look at Tim Tebow. I like Tim, but you have a tendency to want to — I don’t want to see Tim do bad — but look what happens after he wins a football game.  If you watched SportsCenter today, it was Tim Tebow then something else, Tim Tebow then something else, and Tim Tebow then something else.  When we beat the Steelers, were we on TV?  No.  I couldn’t even find a Baltimore Ravens highlight.  I think that’s kinda the way it is around Baltimore.  We don’t always get our respect but you gotta deal with it and go out there every week and just win football games.” -- Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told WNST radio in Baltimore, via, December 16, 2011

Forgive me for laughing but it’s hilarious that someone from an East Coast team complains about team coverage on ESPN. Every time I turn on SportsCenter it’s Yankees this, Red Sox that, Jets this… and I hardly ever see a report on a West Coast team unless the story is too big to ignore, such as the O.J. Simpson police chase on the 405 freeway.

Former San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell was right. There IS an East Coast bias on ESPN and that’s why I hardly watch them anymore. If all I wanted was East Coast highlights I’d call my cable operator and ask for NESN.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Blog Challenge Loser

My friend, Zeb--you know, that hoser from Maine--enticed me into a "blog challenge" over the Redskins vs. Patriots game.  The loser has to extol the virtues of the winner.  In light of the fact that the Redskins do, without debate, suck, I "could" say the Patriots game showed a lot of promise--Hulu, our rook running back, really showed his hinney (literally) by almost rushing for more yards than Gross Wrecksman threw....I "could" say even Gross Man played a comparatively good game considering his previous outings....I "could" say the zebras held a vendetta against the Skins, and that personal foul call against London Fletcher (which led to a Pats score) was...well, you was the backbreaker...I could say this was the first time the Pats have ever beaten the Reskins on the road. 

I could say all of those things, but to what end?  The Redskins still suck, and the Patriots still won, and they're probably going to win their division (...again...(yawn!)...).  But I'm NOT going to say those things because that's not what the challenge is all about.  It's about giving the Pats their due! 

Despite Zeb's Facebook postings that the Pats' defense sucked (I couldn't figure out why we kept scoring like we did--very uncharacteristic of sorry Skins teams), the fact remains, their offense was stellar and that Brady guy is tremendous in the pocket (his girlfriend(s) are still hot, right?).  So, HERE'S TO THE BOSTON PATRIOTS!!!  Good game, fellas!  It seems like Boston is the place to be to bask in the glory of professional sports championships (except for soccer, the MLS New England--they suck (don't they have a mascot name?)).  Gotta tip my hat to Zebster and the Pats, but I am glad we couldn't work out being at FedEx to watch the game.  While he would have been happier than a duck in cold water, I would have been miserable in the cold, watching my team lose--freezing my butt off.  BUT, hey, we lost with dignity, so that's a positive!  And the Pats knew we played them tough--that's another positive! 

Oh, and here's also to the ubiquitous Boston fan--damn, these guys are everywhere!!!  No matter where I go or which stadium/arena I'm in, I can always count on a ton of Bruins, Patriots, Celtics, and Sox fans to yell louder than Skins/Bullets/Nats/Caps fans.....(why is that?  hmmm......)

GO BEARS ("Bruins")!!!

Who's the most Boston?

The subtitle here could be "Has success ruined the Boston sports brand?"

People outside of New England make unfair assumptions about New Englanders; that since we're more liberal and cultured, having the best colleges and museums, etc, that this isn't a working class area.  Nothing could be further from the truth and the truth is reflected in what we appreciate about our sports teams.
Boston is currently the most successful major sports town in the country, with all four major teams having won championships in the last 10 years, a total of seven championships in all.  But if I were to ask you, New England sports fan, which teams do you identify with most from 1 to 4, how would you answer?  I would posit that the polling would show the Bruins #1 and maybe the Red Sox #4, and I'll explain myself shortly.  If you had asked this question five years ago, the order would be completely different, with either the Red Sox or Patriots on top.  And don't confuse this question with a strict popularity question because, even in New England now, football is #1 with the Red Sox close on their heels.
But do we really emotionally connect with the make-up of these two franchises like we used to, when the Red Sox,  the "Idiots," had just won the '04 World Series with a great comeback against the Yankees and a team that, while it had its superstars, won because of its grinders or the Patriots, who were winning their third Super Bowl with much the same tenacity?  We loved Tom Brady then and still do but I submit what we loved most about the Patriot teams of that time were the grinders and the emphasis on defense.  Even though we won some high-scoring Super Bowls, the team was originally built defense first.  But after winning those high-scoring Super Bowls and especially after getting a taste of Brady to Randy Moss, the system with the Patriots has changed.  We've now become the Dan Fouts Chargers or the, gulp, Peyton Manning Colts.  We're fun to watch and we have great regular seasons but we fall way short in the playoffs.  I know I'm not the only one that wishes our team was more like the Steelers or Ravens or Bruins.
The Red Sox fall as far as #4 on this list because by and large we don't relate to these current players.  Sure, Youk and Pedroia are our kinda guys, but even big, loveable Papi has worn on us.  Granted, if this current team had just won the World Series, we wouldn't be seeing these warts the same way as we are given that they collapsed in a monumental way instead.  But the culture has changed because we won and because ownership upped the ante in terms of paying for big free agents instead of building from within.  It started with the embarrassing "Manny being Manny" nonsense and has seeped throughout the team's culture, hopefully ending with chicken and beer in the clubhouse.  I would rather watch the Bruins.
In a pure popularity contest the Celtics would finish 4th; yes, the team with more championships than the other three combined.  That's because this is not really a basketball town.  It becomes one only when the team is winning AND the brand is relatable -- Larry Bird, Dave Cowens, et al.  And while the current Big 3 are superstar players individually, they play as a team and their head coach's philosophy is to play as a team and defense first.  These guys play hard and we generally like them as people.  You can make the argument that the Celtics are currently the #2 team when it comes to which teams play a style that we appreciate.
Look at the four current managers/coaches, excepting Valentine, who just got here and hasn't coached the Red Sox yet; but I can certainly say that Tito Francona was the one who didn't really fit.  If I give you Francona, Belichick, Julien and Rivers, three of them are very much alike in their no-excuses attitude toward winning and one is not.  So there's a trend there with the coaches matching the style of play we appreciate.
I know the Bruins are the team who's won the most recent championship but I submit they're #1 on this list much more because this is a hockey town and this is the kind of team New England sports fans, especially hockey fans, truly appreciate and adore.  This is a lunch pail team -- defense and goal tending first, depth and tenacity and teamwork; a team that plays by "the code," which while maybe is more important in hockey than the other sports, it's still very damn important to us when we view all our teams.  No prima donas need apply.  
Here's hoping that this current team that's beloved because of Chara and Lucic, The Brat and Timmy and Thornton (said with a Southie accent) doesn't in a few years become a team more like the Canucks than the Big Bad Bruins of Orr.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

9th row, blue line

Thanks to AA and the company he works for, we had great seats for the game at TD Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs last week, which the Bruins won 4-1 to complete the home-and-home sweep.
Photo by Bro
Just a few highlights:  I picked Ell up at his house and we struck out for AA's in New Hampshire, where we'd be spending the night after the game.  The trip down was uneventful, except for a stop at the NH State Liquor Store where I picked up that bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label that I blogged about already.  I did crack it open once we arrived at AA's, whereupon the bourbon snobs turned up their noses.  But we all had a drink together and piled in the car for the trip down to Boston.
Now I can't remember the name of the pub we went to near the Garden where we waited for Bro to drive up but I can highly recommend their Buffalo Chicken Nachos, which we washed down with some Sam Adams Brick Red.
Once Bro arrived and after we ate some more grub and drank some more beer, we walked on over to the Garden.  Before the game, Bro and I walked around to the various pro shops looking for just the right hat, which of course we didn't find.  Love ya, Bro.
Once in our seats, we settled in for a spirited game.  The Leafs just eventually got worn down by the Bruins depth and style of play.  It's not a good matchup for the young Leafs but we couldn't be happier to be there for a game the Bruins won.  This clip, where the Bruins had the puck in the Leafs' zone for two minutes, exemplifies how the latter stages of the game went.

This took place at the other end of the ice from us but we still had a great view of it and I remember suddenly realizing the Bs had had control for an inordinate length of time. We were on the "right" blue line though for two of the prettier goals that the Bruins scored that night. The seats were so close you could see the play develop right in front of you and the puck being passed right onto the tape and tipped into the goal.
The other "game highlight" for me was catching a t-shirt out of one of those guns during intermission. AA and Bro went out during the break but Ell and I stayed. Once the Ice Girls skated out, I immediately fell in love with one of them and didn't hear anything the announcer said; otherwise, I would've known ahead of time that the t-shirt my sweetheart shot to me was not Bruins SWAG but rather from Chipotle Mexican Grill. It's a nice souvenir nonetheless, as is the ticket stub from the game that has a big picture of Cam Neely holding the Stanley Cup over his head.
After the game, Ell and I road back with AA to his house (Bro went back to his house and his new baby), where we proceeded to stay up all night drinking and listening to tunes in AA's dungeon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Aftermath Of Xavier-Cincinnati

Well, that was anti-climatic.  After people were actually cheering that a coach would hold his kids responsible for the thuggery that they displayed on the court, Cincinnati and the Basketball program wimped out.  At least they are having the kids do PR work.  For Xavier, the Mouseketeers basically said that they didn't really care.

The fallout for Cincinnati:  Yancy Gates, who sucker-punched a Xavier player got 6 games.  Cheikh Mbodj also received 6 games for a suspension after stomping on the head of the Xavier player that Gates sucker-punched.  Octavius Ellis also got 6 games off for his actions.  Ge'Lawn Guyn got 1 game to sit and think about it.

My reaction:  Not even close to being good enough.  I would have given Gates 10 games and made him earn his way back onto the team.  For Mbodj, there is no excuse for stomping on somebody's head.  That would be an indefinite suspension.  I might be able to think about reinstatement after February had ended.  For Ellis and Guyn, the games are about right, but they would be on probation and have to be role models as do the others, or be thrown off the team.

The fallout for Xavier:  Tu Holloway, who started this entire thing by taunting the Cincinnati bench and players got 1 game.  Mark Lyons received a 2 game suspension.  Dez Wells and Landon Amos for 4 games.

My reaction:  Xavier is worried more about getting into the NCAA tournament than teaching the players on the basketball team what it means to be an adult and acting as a representative of the University.  Holloway should be sat for at least 10 games.  Why?  For starting the entire thing, with his "I own this city" crack at the Cincinnati bench, for after the brawl standing on top of the scorers table and inciting the Xavier crowd who wanted Bearcat blood, for being an idiot after the game in the post-game press conference and saying that the Xavier team was "gangsta" and also saying that in rivalries, these things happen.  He hasn't learned a damn thing about anything after this. Sit his ass down, I don't care if he is one of the best guards in college basketball.  College is for teaching young men like Holloway, and sitting his ass down for games and make him be on the bench for his suspension would hurt and drive home a point that thuggery is not acceptable, even in rivalry games.  Hell, it might actually teach his entitled ass that there is more to life than basketball.  Lyons should get 6 games.  He swung at a Bearcat and what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Overall, it just shows that college basketball is just the minor leagues for the NBA and the missions that each University has in their PR brochures are just words.  Because there is no way that these slap on the wrists help develop the kids that did wrong.  All it does is teaches them that they can get away with doing bad things because of their talent.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday Roundup

I am toying with an idea of doing a roundup on either Saturday or Sunday of the main sports stories.  Let's see what develops.

1)  Robert Griffith III won the Heisman Trophy.  The Baylor QB won 5 of the 6 regions of the country.  The Far West went for runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford.  For me, he wasn't the best QB in the country.

2)  The Chris Paul trade has been killed for a 2nd time.  This time it wasn't the NBA office that killed it, but the Lakers.  In other news, rumors have the Lakers trading Lamar Odom to the Mavericks for a trade exemption and it looks like the rumored Dwight Howard to the Lakers deal is moving forward.  The Lakers have two years before the clamping down of salaries comes into play, it looks like they are trying to make the most of it.

3)  Ryan Braun tested positive for PEDs during the post-season and the second test came up negative a few weeks later.  So which is it, he cheated the test on the second one, or was it a false positive on the first one?  And does this make baseball's drug testing look like a joke?

4)  The Xavier-Cincinnati basketball game broke out into a fight with less than 10 seconds left.  The Cincinnati coach took his players jerseys away and asked them if they wanted to be on the team, while the Xavier kids called themselves gangstas, said that they were disrespected, and acted like goons.  The best line is from the Cincinnati Coach:  “Toughness is doing the right thing. True toughness, you walk away from it. You take your ass-whipping and go home.”  And that is his own team that he is talking about there. 

5)  Navy took their winning streak to a decade over Army.  I would like nothing better than a victory for the Golden Knights sometime within the next decade.

And a bonus story:  Two elementary school teachers from the same district in New York were arrested for going at it like rabbits at the Bills-Titans game last weekend in the men's bathroom.  The funny thing about this is that the man's wife confirmed that her husband was arrested coming out of the bathroom and that she wasn't the lady that was arrested with him.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Heisman Trophy Ballot Of Mine

The Heisman Trophy Finalists:

1)  Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - 1759 Yards, Led Nation in Touchdowns, 32 Rushing Touchdowns, 6.4 Yards Per Carry, 38 Total TDs, 1 Passing TD.

2)  Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor - Led Nation In Passer Rating (192.3), 3,998 Passing Yards, 36 TDs.  72.4% Completion %,

3)  Andrew Luck , QB, Stanford - 3,170 Yards, 35 Touchdowns, 70% Completion %, 167.5 Passer Rating (5th In Nation)

4) Tyrann Mathieu , DB, LSU, - 71 Tackles, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 420 yards and 2 TDs on punt returns.

5)  Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama - 1583 yards, 20 Touchdowns 6.0 Yards Per Carry.

If I had a vote, this is the way that my Heisman ballot would look:

1)  Montee Ball, Wisconsin

2)  Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State  73.9 Completion %, 3507 Yards Passing, 41 TDs, Passer Rating 176.3, 4th In Nation.

3)  Robert Griffin III, Baylor.

4)  Case Keenum, Houston  71.7 Completion %, 5099 Yards Passing, 45 TDs, Passer Rating 177.9, 3rd In Nation.

5)  Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.

My Thoughts:

Montee Ball has had the best year of any football player in college football.  Period.  That is the way I look at the Heisman.  He will pass Barry Sanders record of 40 TDs in a season if he scores 3 in the Bowl game.  No one is even close.  He won't win it in real life, but he deserves it.

Kellen Moore would be my pick if Ball hadn't have had a big end of the Big 10 season, especially against the Michigan State Spartans.  This is a player that commanded the Broncos offense to rolling the scoreboards mightily during the first halves.  There were some second halves that he would sit for most of it because the Broncos were so far ahead. 

RG III, was the most electrifying player this year.  However, if being the Heisman trophy winner is coming up big in the biggest of games, which people are knocking Andrew Luck for, RG III doesn't fit the bill. 

Case Keenum went nuts in the Houston offensive system.  One yard shy of 5,100 yards says that he can throw the ball.  The completeion percentage is lower than I would like, and he was in many games where the blowout was complete and the team was trying to pad his stats for the Heisman. 

Tyrann Mathieu is a sure fire pro when he decides to turn pro.  He is the leader of the best defense in the nation.  However, the SEC argument about being the best conference in the land hurts his candidacy in my eyes.  If the SEC is such a great conference, then his stats aren't as great as they should be. 

As for Luck and Richardson, they have far too much hype for the Heisman compared to the stats and results for their respective seasons.  Luck's stats weren't as dominant as people thought coming into the season and while he played solid in the big games, there wasn't that one performance that he shined and brought the Cardinal to victory while the team was obviously outplayed.  Richardson plays for Alabama where the defense won more games than the offense.  Monte Ball has better stats and has been more of a catalyst for the offense in Wisconsin than Richardson has been for 'Bama.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Answer Me This

Did the NBA make a mistake in putting the kibosh on the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers?  There are many facets to this when trying to decide whether it's a mistake -- legality, fairness, practicality and so on.  As an aside, I find it ironic that part of the argument leading up to the new CBA was the league/owners wanting to keep the league from becoming a few top teams and the rest being farm clubs to those top teams.  So I can understand not wanting to let this happen from that standpoint.  I have a problem with the timing, since the players involved knew they were traded.  (It's not a big deal but it's still there.  It's a business and these are big boys.)  I wonder if the league has now made it impossible for the Hornets to either trade Paul at all, thus losing him in free agency and getting zip in return, or receiving anything close in return to what this deal gave them.  Stay tuned!

How do you feel about this new trend in the NBA where it seems like the players are in charge of where they end up playing?  Fair is fair, I guess.  We would all feel as though we deserve to work where we want if we're qualified and have offers.  The problem to me is that this exacerbates the haves and have-nots issue.  The players, especially NBA players, all want to play in LA, NY or South Beach.  It's interesting as a Boston fan to feel second class.  I know..."tough, how does that feel?"  I get it but it is strange.  They all can't play there, of course, but it does give the Lakers in particular first pick of the litter and more than half the league no pick of the litter (the litter being the best players in the league).
The "league" owns the Hornets.  So how did the league agree to this deal and then the league step in and put the kibosh on it?

Does the NBA have a right, is it fair, to put the kibosh on a trade like this?  Is your answer to this question affected by the fact that the league owns and manages the Hornets?

How do you feel about leagues stepping in and deciding whether trades are right or wrong, fair or unfair?  There's not a lot of history for this.  There is the famous case in baseball where the Commissioner refused to allow the Oakland A's to dump three stars to the Red Sox in the early '70s.  I remember being pretty upset about that.  It would've given the Sox a team that likely would have won a couple of World Series; but looking back on it now, that was a salary dump trade where the A's got nowhere near back what they would've given.  I think leagues should look out for the league as a whole, even if doing something like this opens them up to criticism and we're likely going to think it was unnecessary and unfair in some instances.  I do think they have the right.  Whether it's wise in each instance is certainly another question.

Do you see this trade as being lopsided in favor of anyone?  It's a three-way deal, so that makes it harder to look at in that vein.  It looks to me like the Hornets received pretty good value out of this trade but it has the appearance of the Lakers receiving Chris Paul for Pau Gasol and Mr. Kardashian.  So to me the team that's the "culprit" here is Houston, who in essence gave the Hornets the value they wanted in return for Paul, enabling the Lakers to not have to give equal to what they got.  That's the part that bothers me.

Is this deal going to end up happening anyway? 

Would losing Odom and Gasol but gaining Paul make the Lakers the prohibitive favorite this year?  I'm not sure about prohibitive but they're certainly in the top 2 or 3.  The question would be whether one ball is enough for Kobe and Paul; and with Bynum's injury tendency, it would leave the Lakers weak up front.

Would your opinions about this deal change if the Lakers then went out and traded for Dwight Howard?  My opinions wouldn't change.  I'd just be more upset and would feel it proves the point that the Lakers have an unfair advantage in making trades and proves the point that they gave up too little to get Paul if they still have enough ammunition to then trade for Howard.  How can one team have enough to trade for the #1 big man in the league and arguably the #1 point guard in the league and still retain the #1 player in the league?  The answer is that they have other teams over a barrel and can force a situation where a team has to take what they offer or else.

So while something may be fair to the one or the few doesn't mean it's fair to the group as a whole or to other single entities.  Rumors have it that Howard wants to go to Brooklyn, so this may be moot.  But I can tell you I won't be watching any NBA this season if the Lakers end up with both Paul and Howard.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Answer Me This

Below are some questions that occur to me as a result of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels today.  I have put my thoughts down but I'm much more interested in what other people think about these and other baseball Winter Meeting issues.

You didn't see the Angels opening up their pocketbooks, did you, or at least to this degree?  I obviously did not.
How big of an impact does Albert Pujols signing with the Angels have on their chances of winning their division? I think the Rangers are still the favorites but C.J. Wilson is no longer with the Rangers but is now with the Angels. The Angels have the #s 3, 4 & 5 wins above replacement pitchers from last year.  Both of these teams have new TV deals and have money to spend.  I think it's good for baseball overall.
One so-called expert said he feels that now the AL West is stronger than the AL East.  Do you agree with that?  In a word, no.  The Rangers, though in a close battle, without CJ Wilson are arguably the 4th best team behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.  The Angels, though much improved now, are not as good as those four teams.
Does Artie Moreno deciding to spend all this money have anything to do with the fact that the Dodgers will soon have new ownership and be stable again?  It's hard to believe it doesn't have something to do with it.  I get the feeling that he's used to winning at everything and is tired of the Angels finishes since he bought the team.
How do you feel about Pujols' decision seemingly being based entirely on money?  It seems that's the case, since he's leaving the defending champs and it could be argued even after this deal the Cardinals are better than the Angels.
What does this mean for the Cardinals next season?  If they don't go after Prince Fielder and if Prince signs outside the division, that becomes one of the weakest divisions in baseball, though I suppose that means it's still winnable by the Cardinals.
Did the Cardinals do enough to be blameless in losing Pujols?
The Miami Marlins have a new stadium and money to spend, and went out and got Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.  What do you think about their chances in the NL East next year and whether anyone in South Beach will give a damn?  Apparently Hanley Ramirez wants nothing to do with playing 3rd.  So that's a big thing that's up in the air with that team.  They have a lot of good young players and were competitive last year but they're in the same division with the Phillies and the Braves.  I don't see this being a baseball market ever, new stadium or not.  The fans didn't come out when they were winning and the stadium wasn't a good enough excuse for me.
It does seem odd having all this money flying around and the Yanks and Sox not involved, huh?  It's not a free agent market full of big names but what else do you see happening during this off season.  Prince Fielder is still out there.

Sports, eh

If you are new to our blog and want to know what we're about, then watch these short educational videos and you'll no longer wonder.

Bob and Doug are correct, more hockey, less football. Did you know the Bruins/Penguins game outdrew Monday Night Football in the Boston market?

So it's important to remember while visiting BoSox Tavern and having a few Tuborgs and some back bacon while watching hockey that you should still exercise to keep your body healthy.

Unfortunately, the next couple of educational videos are unavailable in embed form. So please follow this link to Strange Brew Hockey, remembering to protect your left nut as well as your right, and last beer to learn what not to do with the last beer.

So in summary, we're about sports, eh, first and foremost, then food and alcohol as well. Don't forget your toque, it's getting cold out.

Thanks Bob and Doug.  I put this together while drinking a Canada Dry.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Johnny Walker Green Label

The word "blended" to the ears of scotch snobs usually elicits a negative reaction.  Now I'm new to the world of scotch and admittedly do not have the most discerning palate but what I have discovered is that I much prefer single malts, which means single vat and not a blend.  I currently own two bottles of fine 12-year-old single-malts, a Glenfiddich and a Glenlivet, both of which are lovely (the English in me coming out).  Both of these come from the same region but have very different and distinctive tastes.  So in my quest to see what else was out there and possibly go up a step in quality, I did some research reading scotch reviews on blogs and narrowed it down to two choices, the 15-year-old Glenfiddich Solara and the 15-year-old Johnny Walker Green Label.  But when I discovered that the Johnny Walker was a blend, I had decided to go with the Glenfiddich.
While I was waiting for last weekend to get here and visit the New Hampshire State Liquor Store where booze is cheaper, I received a reply to an email I had sent to the blog writer I liked the most.  I had mentioned what I had experienced and discovered thus far and where I was leaning in my next purchase, and he talked me into the Johnny Walker.
Go for the Johnny Walker Green.  The Glenfiddich Solara is excellent, but I think the Green has the edge and is excellent for someone like you who is just getting into scotch.  It will not disappoint! Matter of fact, I had an old college chum over last weekend and got out a new bottle of Green Label and while it has been maybe a year since my last glass of it, I shook my head at how damn good it is!  Tremendous stuff and I think you will like it because it is somewhat similar to Glenfiddich 12.

 Thanks, Jason, for your were right.  Although I have YET to try the Solara, I am very happy with the Johnny Walker Green and drank about a third of the bottle last weekend after the Bruins game, listening to tunes in AA's dungeon.  (Thanks again, bud,  for the great ticket, grub, tunes and friendship)  I would highly recommend Jason's blog for scotch reviews, including his review of Johnny Walker Green Label.  Cheers to you, Jason!
The Green Label is very complex, owing to the fact that it's a blend of four 15-year-old single-malts from four different distillers from the four corners of Scotland.  From the Johnny Walker website:

Four signature malts provide the key taste influences for this 15-year-old whisky. Talisker™ introduces power and depth of character, Caol Ila™ contributes mystery and intensity and, at its heart, Cragganmore™ provides a sweet maltiness, while Linkwood™ adds a final touch of finesse.

So if you've had the Black Label, which I have, and didn't like it, don't use that as a reason not to try this.  This has opened my mind a bit regarding single malts versus blends, though I still plan to mostly stick to single malts for now; but who knows where my preferences will go the more I try different ones.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Statement Game

The Boston Bruins are now 14-0-1 in their last 15 games as the result of a convincing 3-1 win over the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night.  Claude Julien downplayed that this was a statement or measuring stick game, essentially saying that to get real high about this game could lead to being too low coming into less sexy games; that the Bruins take it one game at a time and figure out how to win one game at a time.  If you look at how this game was won and who contributed in key ways, it is very hard to argue with him.  Early key goals were scored by Gregory Campbell and Benoit Pouliot.

The Bruins killed off two 5-on-3s last night totaling 3 minutes and 10 seconds, thanks to great saves by Tim Thomas, of course, but equally because of the patient and perfect defense of the other three guys on the ice. Then Tyler Seguin, who had less ice time than usual due to the team having to kill all that penalty time, gets a power play goal early in the 3rd period to essentially put this one away, especially given how solidly defensively the Bruins were playing and how on top of his game Thomas was.
Thomas has won 10 straight games, including three shutouts, with a .950 save percentage and 1.7 GAA over that time. Give Marc-Andre Fluery credit though. He had a few stand-on-your-head saves last night that kept the game closer than it really was. If you take away those saves and the two 5-on-3s, the score would have reflected even more closely how much Boston dominated this game, despite being outshot by the Penguins.  In fact, David Krejci hit pipe twice in this game.
This was a very spirited game, reflected in a little chipiness, a couple of fights and a lot of yapping (even between Crosby and Krejci). It was obvious how much both teams wanted this one. Hopefully the Bruins did as Julien said and didn't get too high because they play again tonight in The Peg for the first time in over 15 years, a perfect setup for a trap game.  But ever since they started this current run, after starting very slowly with a 3-7 record, they have avoided letdowns by not being too high or too low.  We shall see tonight.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Around the sports world (open thread)

I'll touch on a few things briefly but don't be afraid to comment on something I didn't mention.

The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings have begun, though the Miami Marlins got a head start last night by signing Jose Reyes to a big, long-term deal.  What do you think about this signing and how it affects the Marlins chances of winning a division that has the Phillies and Braves already loaded?  Rumors have it that they're going to go after Albert Pujols.  Do you have an opinion on who will go where or what you'd like to see your team do at the Winter Meetings?

Ron Santo was just voted in the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.  Do you have an opinion on his worthiness to be in the Hall?  I'm on the fence myself but I will say this:  It's too bad the Veterans Committee didn't do this a couple years ago when Santo was still alive.

Kurt Busch was just released from his contract with Penske Racing.  How shocking is that, that a former Champion who's still very much in his prime, arguably one of the top 10 drivers in NASCAR, has been released without a ride for next season?  There are no open rides either, although if there suddenly were an open sponsored ride, he'd have to be at the top of the list, wouldn't he?  Where do you see him ending up?  What kind of message does that send to his kid brother, who is more talented but without a championship and more of a hothead than Kurt?  Who is Roger Penske going to put in that seat; one of the available guys like David Ragan (all of whom would be a step down from Busch) or Sam Hornish, who's already in the stable but has never performed in a stock car like he did in an Indy car?  Or maybe lure someone away who already has a ride?  I haven't seen this mentioned but it wouldn't surprise me.  Then that would open up a ride for Kurt Busch.  Kurt could possibly find a sponsor and shop that to a team in an effort to get them to add another car but that'll be a tough sell given what happened that lead to his release from Penske.

Would you like to talk about the NFL games this weekend?  There's plenty to talk about, from the Packers remaining undefeated to the Broncos and Tim Tebow winning again to Jason Garrett icing his own kicker in the Cowboys loss to the Cardinals or how the playoffs are shaping up or how your team is doing.

So feel free to talk about the NHL, the NBA, the EPL or the fact that even though this wasn't an official event, Tiger Woods won his first tournament in two years at the Chevron World Challenge.

UPDATE:  Apparently Adam Vinatieri was booed in Foxboro on Sunday.  What the hell is up with that?  The greatest clutch kicker in NFL history, a guy who never whined, who got exempted twice and who only left after they didn't want to pay him, the guy who is the most responsible for them even getting to and winning that first Super Bowl.  And this isn't even his first trip back to Foxboro, is it?  This is a held, idiotic, wrong minded grudge lasting that long? 

More BS From The BCS

On Sunday, the Final BCS rankings were announced and the SEC scored two teams in the title game.  And while almost everybody South of the Mason-Dixon line is happy out to the plains of West Texas, the rest of the country is shaking their heads and saying that it is a bunch of crap.  Except those that work for the four-lettered sports station who has been pushing for this for over a month now.  The BCS got this wrong again.  It seems like every 2 years or so, we have problems with this stupid ranking system that the BCS puts forth.  Let's go through history and show why the SEC zealots should be ashamed of themselves.

2000 - the BCS Title Game:  Oklahoma vs. Florida State.  This was the first fiasco with the BCS.  Miami and Washington along with FSU had 10-1 records.  Miami had defeated the Seminoles and Washington had beaten the Canes.  In a flop of a National Championship game, Oklahoma won 13-2.  Miami and Washington destroyed their opponents in their respective Bowl games making the BCS formula obsolete and a new one becoming the working model.  The second one didn't last long.

2001 - The BCS Title Game:  Miami vs. Nebraska.  Holy crap, were there upset football fans from the South over this one.  Nebraska was awarded the #2 slot in the BCS when they didn't win their own conference.  The West was not thrilled either because Oregon thought that they should have been in the title game.  But when Colorado upset the Huskers to claim the Big 12 North crown and got blown out by the Ducks 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl, the cries grew louder and louder from football fans all across the country that a non-Conference Champion should not play for the national championship.  Remember this, SEC fans?

2003- BCS Title Game:  LSU vs. Oklahoma.  Yet again, the name recognition overcomes the performance on the football field.  In the Big 12 Championship game, Kansas State beats Oklahoma giving them matching 11-1 records.  And the name recognition of a perennial power allows Oklahoma to be selected into the title game.  K-State was better that year by a good margin, but since Oklahoma had their preseason high ranking and name value, the Sooners went on to lose the BCS title game to LSU 21-14.  This time USC was yelling that a Non-conference winner should not be allowed to play for the title.

2004 - BCS Title Game:  USC vs. Oklahoma.  SEC fans were screaming about this one again.  Auburn had went through the SEC undefeated and looked like they might be the best team in the land.  Alas, they didn't have the name recognition to overtake either USC or Oklahoma.  And they became even angrier when the Trojans blew the doors off the Sooners 55-19.  Utah also went undefeated that season.

2006 - BCS Title Game:  Ohio State vs. Florida.  While the BCS got this one right, it is the way that SEC fans and coaches went about it that still sticks in my craw when it comes to their argument.  Michigan had lost to Ohio State in a great game.  And there was talk about a rematch in the BCS title game.  Well, when Nick Saban was asked about it, he said that Michigan had their shot and somebody else deserved that spot in the title game.  I wonder what he says about the 2011 BCS fiasco we are having right now?  And the SEC was making threats about things and their fans were claiming that the BCS was biased against the SEC.  In the end, it worked out where Florida made a drastic climb into the #2 spot over the Wolverines and won the title.  And they got their way about not having a rematch in the National Championship game.  Wonder if they will argue about that same principle in 2011?

2007:  BCS Title Game:  Ohio State vs. LSU.  This is one where the SEC got the big benefit of the doubt.  LSU had 2 losses, but got into the title game over Georgia, USC, and Oklahoma.  LSU did win the national title and we started to see the SEC bias that the BCS has.  And it isn't the computers.  It is the human polls.  Because most writers and coaches will give the benefit of the doubt ot a school that has a storied past.  Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State from the Big 10 have all benefited from that fact as well as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and other schools from the SEC.  It is the way that the human voters vote.  Especially coaches.

2011:  BCS Title Game:  LSU vs. Alabama.  I don't care if this game might be entertaining.  I don't care if these two schools have tons of history behind them.  LSU is the #1 in college football.  As for Alabama, in my way of seeing things, they might not be even #3.  Go back to 2001 and 2004 and see what SEC fans were saying about a non-conference winner playing for the National Championship.  I agreed with them then.  See what the SEC fans in 2006 were screaming about when there was a possibility of an Ohio State - Michigan rematch for the National Championship.  I agreed with them then as well.

The SEC argument about the polls and computers spit out the two teams and that is it, is a complete line of Bulls***!  They have argued again and again that the BCS shouldn't reward a team that didn't win their League title.  They have argued that a rematch of a Regular season game shouldn't be played for the National Championship.  So what happens this year?  Because it might favor a team or a league that they like, they argue the exact opposite points that they have been doing for the past decade.  Well, I ain't go to be a b**** for ESPN, the BCS, the SEC, or anybody else.  I will continue to say that if you do not win your Conference Championship, you cannot play for the BCS National Championship.  And that goes for each and every conference in the country.  I will continue to say that a rematch of a regular season game is not allowed in the BCS National Championship game.  You had a shot a defeating a team and lost, then you don't get a rematch in #1 vs. #2 game because you have already proven which team is the dominant one.  There are over 120 BCS football teams out there.  Someone else deserves the shot at defeating the team that a school proved that year that they couldn't. 

I am not a shill for Oklahoma State.  In fact, I am a B1G fan.  My favorite team is the Iowa Hawkeyes.  I do see biases in voting and perceptions.  The two changes that I would have take place in the BCS system in addition to the two provisions above is that there are no official polls taken ranking the college teams until week #5.  If that would have happened this year, you would have a very different Top 25 poll at the end of this season.  And I would take away the vote from the coaches.  Let's see here.  These gentlemen are working at least 70 hours a week to prepare for their football games.  And then we ask for them to watch and rank other teams?  That is ludicrous.  Hire 70 people for the sole purpose of watching games and evaluating the teams.  I am tired of administrative assistants filling out coaches votes for the polls.  Ask almost any head coach about a team like Iowa State.  They won't know diddly squat about the team.  Ask them about TCU.  Same thing.  TCU is ranked #15.  But the head coaches don't care about TCU unless they are going to play them. 

The BCS isn't a good idea, but unless there is a playoff where you extend the season by 2 or 3 games, then this is what we have.  We need to make it the best that we can to assure ourselves that we get rid of all the controversy that we can.  Right now, that isn't happening.  And the next BCS Title Game is a product of not doing the best thing for the BCS to actually get the two best teams out on the field playing for the National Championship.  I hope that LSU comes out and destroys Alabama by at least 21 points.  Then we have another bad title game and the SEC has egg on their face because of it.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

They Just Keep On Winning

Lucic Van Ryn

Zebster and I had a “blog challenge” this past week. My Toronto Maple Leafs played a home-and-home series against his Boston Bruins on Wednesday and Saturday and our bet was who was going to win this series. As you can tell from this picture of a brutal check by Milan Lucic on Mike Van Ryn from a few seasons ago things didn’t go well for yours truly.

WEDNESDAY: Bruins 6 – Leafs 3

This game was out of hand before I got home from the office. I recorded the game on my DVR and somehow I sat through the whole thing. Lucic destroyed the Leafs defense with his stick this time, potting two goals. Both Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel had an assist each, but Seguin get the nod because Kessel was a –3. Ouch!

SATURDAY: Bruins 4 – Leafs 1

Not even the return of Optimus Reim (James Reimer) in net fazed the Bruins as they won their second straight game and fourth overall against the Leafs. At least the Leafs didn’t roll over and die like they did in their previous three contests but the results were the same.

This game was out of hand once the Bruins scored their third goal early in the third period. That was about the time when I picked up my Android tablet and started reading Shorthanded: The Untold Story Of The Seals and periodically looked at the television when something happened.

The good news? The Leafs are a very respectable 14-6-2 against the rest of the NHL. Maybe we’re still playoff bound but there’s no way the Leafs can match up with the Bruins unless Burkie steals another Joffrey Lupul or Dion Phaneuf from another NHL team in his next midseason blockbuster trade.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Boston Pro Sports Roundtable

Why are we having this discussion?  Well, Boston is the center of the pro sports universe, right?  Or, we're having this discussion because there are things to talk about with every New England team and I'd like to hear your thoughts on these topics.
First, of course, because they are first in our hearts, is the signing FINALLY of Bobby Valentine as the Red Sox new manager.  There should be no shortage of opinions regarding this signing.  Is he the right fit, just for a while or over the long haul?  I certainly have my concerns that he can still be a loose cannon and take things too far, thus upsetting too many fragile egos and not being able to bring chemistry to this team; BUT I feel a big personality, big energy guy is what's needed right now.  He is also a very bright baseball guy who knows his Xs and Os.  Will he handle Dice K, given that he speaks Japanese and managed in Japan, the way he should've been handled all along?  Now that he's signed, we can also get on with the job of putting the pieces together with this team.  Would you like to see David Ortiz stay?  For the right price and length of contract, yes; but I'm certainly concerned, given some of his childish antics last year, that he won't get along with Valentine.  Do you go out and make some splash in the free agent market or do you get some complimentary pieces and see what you really have in the farm system?  I know I'd like to get the focus more on the farm system than relying on building the team with free agents.  Are you concerned about having a young, first-time general manager between a forceful manager and team president?

Let's talk about the Celtics, now that apparently there will be an NBA this year.  The Celtics have an aging Big 3 plus Rondo and only a couple of other guys currently on the roster.  The big talk in the last day or two is that Danny Ainge might be actively trying to trade Rondo.  How do you feel about that?  Well, if it's Chris Paul we'd be getting, in my mind that's a no-brainer.  We do need to start looking beyond the Big 3 Era.  Do you let those guys' contracts run out, field a bad team and try to rebuild through the draft over a few years or do you trade the one tradeable guy you have, which, again if it's Paul you get in return, would give you another run at a title and he'd be the keystone piece to build around once at least Garnett and Allen's contracts expire.  Do you want to bring Big Baby Davis back?  Talk about the Celtics any way you'd like.

The Patriots are currently 8-3 and have a cupcake schedule the rest of the way.  The bad thing about that schedule is that it'll be very difficult to gauge whether this defense is truly improving and whether it'll be good enough to get us to the Super Bowl.  Personally, I have no interest going to the Super Bowl if it means losing.  If somehow the Packers get upset in the NFC playoffs, then it's wide open and I'll take my chances.  The patchwork secondary has improved but I'm concerned we've already hit the ceiling with that bunch.  I'm still not sure we have a consistent pass rush, which we will need to take the pressure off that secondary.  I'm concerned, as great as this offense is, that the offensive line has looked vulnerable and teams are only having to cover half the field because there's no real deep threat, which does make it possible for teams to contain this offense.

The Bruins are back to looking like the best team in the league.  They're not there alone, of course, but I like their chances.  (I used all 3 theres in one sentence)  Any concerns at all?  Maybe the fact that David Krejki is always going to be inconsistent.  His contract runs out at the end of this year.  I would like to have one more guy on this team who can consistently bury the puck, which is most helpful when the Bruins are outplaying their opponent but can't score.  Come playoff time, especially on special teams, that kind of guy can make all the difference in a tight series.  I will be at the Bruins' game against the Leafs this Saturday night.  So I won't say anything more here, plus I have covered the Bruins more than the other teams lately.
UPDATE 12/2/11:  The Bruins signed David Krejci to a three-year extension yesterday.  So that locks up another key piece of this deep, young team.  Although it'd be easier to trade him now that he's signed, I think the Bruins want to keep him.

College Football Predictions Results - Week 13

Rivalry week doesn't like me.  Only 4 wins this week and I am limping to the finish line with the Championship games coming up this week.  The Underdog picks killed me this week and the Road Underdog picks for the year fell under .500

LOSS  1)  #3 Arkansas (+14) at #1 LSU - Arkansas 17, LSU 41. This game showed that LSU is the best team in the country by far.  Next up for the Tigers, Georgia.  For the Razorbacks, they are hoping for some things to go right for them to achieve a BCS invite.

WIN  2)  #20 Penn State at #15 Wisconsin (-16) - Penn State 7, Wisconsin 45.  Wisconsin gets their rematch against Michigan State in the Big 10 Title game.  The Badgers are the better talented team, and look like they have hit their stride again.

LOSS  3)  #18 Clemson (+3) at #14 South Carolina - Clemson 13, South Carolina 34.  Clemson limps into the ACC title game rematch against Virginia Tech.  Watch for the Tigers to get blown out in that game.

LOSS  4)  Ohio State at #17 Michigan (-7.5) - Ohio State 34, Michigan 40.  Brady Hoke got Michigan a win vs. the Buckeyes for the 1st time in 8 years.  Now we will see what he can do with a famous coach patrolling the Buckeyes sideline in Urban Meyer.

WIN  5)  #22 Notre Dame at #4 Stanford (-6.5) - Notre Dame 14, Stanford 28.  Stanford is a good team, but could not become a team that even made their championship game.

LOSS  6)  #2 Alabama at Auburn (+21.5) - Alabama 42, Auburn 14.  Auburn has never been a favorite of mine.  The past two years have provided more ammunition for my deep dislike for the Tigers because almost each and every game that i pick with Auburn in it, I lose.  Of course the institution has the Tiger as a mascot and calls out WAR EAGLE!  No wonder I can't wrap my head around what they are.

WIN  7)  UCLA at #10 USC (-15.5) - UCLA 0, USC 50.  Well, Rick Neuheisel has been fired from UCLA.  Although the Bruins are in the PAC-12 title game, the true best team from the South Division are the Men from Troy.  Lane Kiffin has done a good job this year with the Trojans and I am waiting to see what he can do when the Trojans are off probation.

LOSS  8)  Texas at Texas A&M (-6.5) - Texas 27, Texas A&M 25.  This rivalry is on ice until at least 2019 with A&M going to the SEC.  The Aggies choked yet again this season.  Just wait until they start playing Alabama and LSU each and every year.  Please do not serve the Aggies anything that have bones.

LOSS  9)  #8 Houston at Tulsa (+3) - Houston 48, Tulsa 16.  Case Keenum and the Cougars have finally convinced me that they are a good team.  It looks like they will get a BCS bid, possibly along with TCU.

WIN  10)  Pittsburgh (+8) at West Virginia - Pittsburgh 21, West Virginia 22.  The Mountaineers are still in the running for the Big East title and the AQ for the Big East in the BCS.  That just shows you how bad the Big East has been this year. 

Additional Two

LOSS  11)  Iowa (+9.5) at Nebraska - Iowa 7, Nebraska 20.  Nebraska is being mentioned as a perennial power in the Big 12, Iowa is not.  Maybe Kirk Ferentz needs to shake things up in Iowa City.

LOSS  12)  East Carolina (+2.5) at Marshall - East Carolina 27, Marshall 34 (OT).   Marshall became bowl eligible with this win.  East Carolina did not.

Week 13 Results:  4-8 Record.  1-6 Picking Underdogs.  3-2 Picking Favorites.  1-4 Road Underdog.  0-2 Home Underdog.  0-0 Road Favorites.  3-2 Home Favorites.

Season Results:  92-62-3 Record.  59.6 Win Percentage.  22-25 Picking Underdogs. 70-37-3 Picking Favorites. 17-14 Road Underdog.  5-11 Home Underdog.  27-16-1 Road Favorites.  43-21-2 Home Favorites.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Way A Purge Should Be Done!

And in the second purging of a team that I like, the Houston Astros fired their President and GM after the fall from the top in 2005 to the absolute bottom in 2011.  And believe me, there is a Champagne bottle that is at least half empty in my house because of it.

Jim Crane should be nominated for Man of the Month for the purchase of the Houston Astros and then also deciding that the Phillies plant Ed Wade and Astros front office person Tal Smith for 35 years and no World Series titles that have came the 'Stros way needed to go and to start over with what he has purchased. 

The most reviled GM in Astros history, Ed Wade will be remembered in Houston as the guy who loved trading with the Philadelphia Phillies and most fans feel that he got ripped off each and every time he did a trade with the Phillies.  Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt were the two big names traded to Philly, with 1/2 of Oswalt's salary being paid by the Astros.  I wish that the Astros would take a chance on a veteran starter and find somebody that would pay 1/2 of his salary.

Wade also traded away Lance Berkman to the St. Louis Cardinals.  I am surprised that we even got a bag of balls in that trade, seeing that Wade undervalued each and every piece he traded away.  Michael Bourne went over to Atlanta for a song and a promise.  The only person on the roster that anybody even has a passing interest in is Wandy Rodriguez and he will probably be traded because having a Left-handed Front Line pitcher is worth more in trade than with a team that has no talent.  And no, Carlos Lee isn't talented. 

Jim Crane had $70 Million chopped off the Purchase Price to agree to switch to the American League in 2013.  Nice Business savvy.  Now hopefully, he can bring in a baseball man for the GM and pair it with his Business acumen and start riding roughshod over the weak AL West around 2015.

One Half Of The Purge Is Done

He had to know that this was coming!
This season has been an embarrassment for us fans of the Carolina Hurricanes.  It started in the off-season when the team couldn't figure out what they wanted to do.  Joni Pitkanen was gone and then suddenly resigned to multiple years.  Erik Cole was a priority for the team to resign and then left for a good deal in Montreal.  Then the regular season started.  We did sign Tomas Kaberle and he has been a disappointment, with 5 assists and sitting at a -10.  Eric Staal has been stuck in neutral all year, the defense has been playing the 'Ole option all year long allowing shots to rain down on Cam Ward.  The Canes are converting on the power play at a 12.2% clip.  Good enough for 29th in the league.  The penalty killing unit is barely over 80%.  So something had to happen.  And it did Monday.

Paul Maurice was fired.  As the Head Coach, he is going to take the heat from the front office and he did.  However, he had proven in his head coaching career, that he wasn't the guy to get the most out of his team.  He didn't do it in his first stint with the Canes, finishing with a record under .500 and that is with a year that the team went to the Stanley Cup finals.  He definitely didn't do it with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  They didn't get into the playoffs during his stint there.  So after it was decided that Peter Laviolette was fired in December of 2008, that Paul Maurice would come back.  Cam Ward stood on his head that season and got the Canes back to the Eastern Conference finals that year after barely qualifying for the playoffs.  Then for the 2009-2010 season, with high expectations, the team crashed and burned and didn't come close to the playoffs.  For the 2010-2011 season, nothing special was expected for the team.  They went into the last game of the season needing a win to qualify for the playoffs.  They were blitzed by the Lightning 6-2 and finished 9th in the East.  This year, we have a losing season with 20 points accumulated.  We are the 14th out of the 15th best team in the East.  Only the Islanders have fewer points.  In fact, we are just 5 points ahead of Columbus.  The Blue Jackets are considered by almost everybody as the worst team in the league. The firing was justified and I am glad that it happened.

However, there needs to be another head to roll.  And that is the President/GM Jim Rutherford.  Look at the results of the Hurricanes since they won the Cup in 2006.  2007 - Missed Playoffs.  2008 - Qualified for the playoffs in 7th place.  2009 - Missed Playoffs.  2010 - Missed Playoffs.  2011 - Currently in 14th Place in the East.  Two coaching changes have taken place.  Look at the lines for the Hurricanes:

Top Line:  Skinner-Staal-Ruutu
2nd Line:  Ponikarovski-Jokinen-LaRose
3rd Line:  Tlusty-Brandon Sutter-Dwyer
4th Line:  Stewart-Brent-Brett Sutter





Now be honest here.  Is there more than 3 or 4 players listed here that you want on your team?  For myself, I like 3 of the Centers, 1 of the Left Wingers, 2 of the Defensemen, and the Starting Goalie.  That is 7 of the 20 players that I am happy to have on the team.  The other 13?  If they leave, I am like hopefully there is someone better coming in to play.  And while I do really appreciate the skill side of the game, the Hurricanes are like the Buffalo Sabres.  Soft.  Where in hell are the players that have some skill and are willing to goon it up with the teams like the Bruins, Rangers, and others when the situation requires it?  The makeup of this team is flawed and has been flawed for the past 5 years.  The defense is soft, there isn't enough high end talent on the team, there is no rough and physical presence, and the GM is always talking about how he can't compete in the finances.  I call BS.  It is time for Jim Rutherford to be "promoted" to full time President of Hockey Operations.  He is a minority owner in the hockey team, so let's boot his happy ass upstairs and bring in a GM that will start to figure out how to get this team back to a competitive status and start becoming the team that us fans know should be the top team in the Southeast.  Our franchise is better than the Panthers, Lightning, and Capitals.  Us fans know that in our hearts.  And it is time for the owner, Peter Karmanos, to get the organization back to becoming one of those franchises that prove that they should be taken seriously every year.  And the first step is to bring in a General Manager who is only the General Manager.

2011 Grey Cup

Travis Lulay
The following is a guest blog by DaSnake, who's been kind enough to let us in on what's going on north of the border.  Hopefully you will appreciate this guest blog on a topic that we wouldn't be talking about but are certainly interested in.  Thanks DaSnake.

The B.C. Lions won the 99th Grey Cup yesterday, 34-23, over Winnipeg. The last times they won the cup was 1994 against the Baltimore Stallions.  (also 2000 and 2006)  How did a U.S. team play in a Canadian final?  Well the CFL was hurting for money in the early 90's and allowed some American teams to play in the Canadian league.
The Lions QB Travis Lulay won the Canadian Most Valuable Player and tonight won the Grey Cup MVP. The game started out good for the Lions but seemed to slow going into the second half.  Whether it was jitters or just a need of coaching to come into the locker room and give a talk to the team, it seemed to work because the Lions came into the second half and never looked back.
It again got interesting in the fourth quarter with a dropped interception and then a dropped pass that was reviewed by the zebras.  With the Bruce pass being viewed as a reception, the nails in the coffin seemed in place.
This was a great game.  The fervor was not over rode by the Occupy Vancouver baloney; and the half billion dollar stadium rebuild took a backseat to the main show, the game.  The only so-called sensation was the scuffle between former QB Joe Kapp and former defensive player Angelo Mosca.  I don't have to mention this because if you go to Youtube, you can see for yourself.  Good game, good people and a great final. Congrats Lions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trivia: Redskins/Cowboys Rivalry

Here's an interesting bit of Redskins/Cowboys trivia.

I've been a Redskins fan all my life and I have to admit that I did not know
this piece of trivia: Here is the true origin of the Redskins/Cowboys
"rivalry." We all know the story of coach George Allen's motivating the
70's Redskins by conniving a media fight with then Cowboys coach Tom Landry,
and the rest, as they say, is history. But is it?

Well, it seems in the late 50's just before the original "Texans" (the AFL
"Dallas Texans") bolted for Kansas City (now the KC Chiefs), the Texas oil
millionaire Clint Murchison petitioned the NFL for a franchise, but they had
just one stick in the mud--Washington Redskins owner, George Preston
Marshall. Murchison signed a deal with Marshall to purchase the Redskins,
and everything was going smoothly, but Marshall suddenly changed the terms
of the agreement, and Murchison refused to sign and the deal fell through.
Jilted, Marshall refused to agree to allow Murchison to be granted an
expansion team--they needed a unanimous vote by all owners for a team to be
approved, and Marshall refused to vote yes. Now, it seems the marching band
leader for the Redskins, who wrote the Redskins fight song ("Hail To The
Redskins") ended up getting into a pissing contest with Marshall. The
bandleader owned the rights to the song (not Marshall) and being pissed with
Marshall, he approached Murchison in Dallas and sold him the song for
$2,500. This deal occurred right before the second owner's vote for the
Dallas franchise. Moments before the vote was to be taken, Murchison let it
out to Marshall that he owned the fight song and unless Marshall voted to
approve the Dallas franchise, he would sue Marshall every time the Redskins
band played the fight song--he threatened to refuse to let Marshall play it
during any of his games that year! Marshall eventually gave in and
Murchison turned over the rights, and Marshall gave his "yes" vote that
formed the 1960 Dallas Cowboys.

And so a rivalry was born!!!

Not only did I find that story interesting and ironic, but the irony of the
"cowboys and indians" history of the KC Chiefs is also an interesting

Friday, November 25, 2011

11 Straight (sorta)

The Bruins lost to the Detroit Red Wings today in the NHL's first-ever Thanksgiving Tradition something or other, which I love, especially when you pair the defending Cup Champs, who play 40 miles from the site of the first Thanksgiving, and the other team in the who's the best team in the league argument with the Penguins.  As a hockey fan, you couldn't have asked for a better game to watch; two Original Six teams playing at a high level, with plenty of stars on display.  Both teams showed up and played hard.  They both obviously wanted the W and it showed.  Excellent game.
It's no surprise the Red Wings won once it got beyond OT, the only time of the game where Detroit could dictate open ice.  Tuukka Rask was shown a lot of confidence getting to start this high profile matchup in net instead of Tim Thomas, and Tuukka acquitted himself well; but he was overmatched in the Shootout against the likes of Pavel Datsyuk (a player who should get much more mention in the league's best player debate) and the other Detroit snipers, including Todd Bertuzzi, who scored the game winner.
The difference in this game was UMaine alum Jimmy Howard in goal for Detroit.  The Bruins' depth and tenacity dominated large portions of this game but Howard kept the Bruins to only two goals.  The Bruins  forechecked Detroit to death. Seriously, how many teams can "get away" with that against Detroit with all their skilled offensive players?  The Bruins outshot Detroit 43-31, which is a stunning stat when you consider the styles of these two teams.
You have a hard time after watching this game coming away with any other conclusion than the Bruins along with Detroit and Pittsburgh are the best teams in the league.  What's odd about the Bruins though is this:  As I've said many times, I think the Bruins are the deepest team, the toughest team, the tightest team but certainly not the most skilled team, which shows when you get to a Shootout and think who's a real threat one-on-one against the goalie other than Tyler Sequin?  Which is why you saw Benoit Pouliot in the Shootout last game.
So the Bruins will take the point and head to Winnipeg to start a new streak tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Scotch and Jazz

I know neither scotch nor jazz fits the sports pub theme but it's the mood I'm in tonight and just wanted to throw a curveball.  So I'm sitting here sipping some Glenfiddich on the rocks and listening to some jazz.  I'll only share one but I'll tell you all the ones I went through tonight.

This song most definitely fits sipping scotch.  Can't you hear the ice cubes jangling in the glass?

I listened to these songs in this order as I was sipping my scotch:  "La Vie en Rose," Louis Armstrong; "Summertime," Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald; "Black Coffee," Ella Fitzgerald; "The Very Thought of You," Nat King Cole; "Unforgettable," Nat King Cole; then "Stormy Weather" by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and my favorite version, Etta James.
Hope you enjoyed my little interlude.  Back to our usual programming.

College Football Predicitions - Week 13

It's rivalry week and the games this year seem to have extra importance to them.  Be it the end of rivalries, division titles or possible national championship implications, these games seem to be vying for attention by the public.

1)  #3 Arkansas (+14) at #1 LSU - This is the big game of what they term rivalry week.  LSU is going to win but the Razorbacks keep it within a touchdown.

2)  #20 Penn State at #15 Wisconsin (-16) - Wisconsin has the chance to win the first Leaders division title at home.  Otherwise, it is Penn State with the title.  I expect the most talented team in the Big 10 to show up and destroy the Nittany Lions.

3)  #18 Clemson (+3) at #14 South Carolina - Another overrated SEC team is in this game.  Clemson isn't anything special from the ACC, but they should win this game against a wounded Soutch Carolina team.

4)  Ohio State at #17 Michigan (-7.5) - Would anyone be shocked if the Wolverines laid an egg in this game?  Me neither.  But I am expecting Brady Hoke to wake up the ghosts of Wolverines past and throttle the rudderless Buckeyes.

5)  #22 Notre Dame at #4 Stanford (-6.5) - Stanford needs to back up their crying about their BCS ranking being too low with a near perfect game against Notre Dame.  I think that they do.

6)  #2 Alabama at Auburn (+21.5) - Auburn isn't in the same class as Alabama this year.  However, I expect that Tiger pride to keep it within 3 Touchdowns.  I would love to see the upset in this game though.  WAR EAGLE!

7)  UCLA at #10 USC (-15.5) - Can somebody tell me how in the world UCLA is in the driver's seat to represent the PAC-12 South in the title game?  That is just embarrassing.  If UCLA does make it to the PAC-12 title game and loses, they will be 6-7 and not eligible to go bowling.  Lane kiffin and the Trojans end their year winning the Battle of LA.

8)  Texas at Texas A&M (-6.5) - This rivalry is on ice until at least 2019 with A&M going to the SEC.  The Aggies have many complaints against Texas on the football field and as an institution.  They better get all those frustrations out during this game.  Aggies big.

9)  #8 Houston at Tulsa (+3) - Tulsa has lost 3 games.  The teams that they have lost to?  Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State.  Better than any of the teams that Houston has played.  Give me the Golden hurricane and the upset of one of the last 2 undefeated teams here.

10)  Pittsburgh (+8) at West Virginia - The game that might determine the Big East champion and these two teams can't wait to get out of the conference.  Given the way that the Big East has played out this year, I am taking the underdog to continue to cause havoc. 

Additional Two

11)  Iowa (+9.5) at Nebraska - I am showing my loyalty here.  The Huskers should win and win big, but something tells me that Ferentz has something up his sleeve to pull out a victory for the Hawkeyes here.

12)  East Carolina (+2.5) at Marshall - I picked this game just because.  Look for the Pirates to squeak out a victory here.