Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rigging The NBA System For A Greater Societal Good

Jason Collins came out as the first male gay player in a major sports league in the United States on Monday. To myself, I am happy that barrier has been broken. People need to be allowed to be themselves freely in their lives. The more research that is out there, the more that I believe that being gay is something physiological and not a choice made. I am going to quote part of a Jason Whitlock column on Fox Sports about this subject and what is coming now.

Collins is from an awesome family. He has a twin brother. They grew up in the liberal breeding ground of Los Angeles. They were educated at one of America’s best institutions. Dr. Edwards described Stanford as a “bastion of intellectual development, an environment conducive to the development of personal courage and integrity.”

The critics and cynics are coming. Kernels of truth will be on their side.

Their kernels will be trumped by an overriding truth. Gay youths need prominent role models in all walks of life, most especially in sports. As a kid, I was the typical overconfident, insensitive, unenlightened jock bully. We belittled the kids who were different than us in ways we did not even recognize. I’m ashamed.

It’s unfair. Kids don’t choose to be gay. We need to recognize and respect the full scope of humanity. Jason Collins can help us do that. He can save lives, help confused gay kids to choose life over suicide.

I fully expect — and quite frankly I demand — David Stern to use his power to ensure that Jason Collins has a job in the NBA for 82 games next season. This is a chance for basketball to be as important as baseball in 1947.
I am ashamed of myself because I agree with the last paragraph. It is imperative that Collins is on a team next year for the NBA. Call it the greater good principle. I want him to be a Dallas Maverick. We have big stiffs each and every year, and Collins would fit well with that history.

I understand that it is not morally right to use Jason Collins as the poster boy for gay athletes. However, with the political situation that America has at the current time, using him as a bridge to eliminate an issue that divides us makes it imperative that he succeeds in playing NBA basketball for the entire 2013-2014 season. Fairness and morals be damned.

Monday, April 29, 2013

NHL Playoff Predictions

I love making predictions because I usually don't get things right and it amazes me why I don't get them right. Usually a sudden slump by a key player or a fluke goal. But we continue to try and get a perfect playoff prediction. This year. I have lots of chalk going. In the 1st Round I have Both #5 seeds and a 7 seed advancing. I am also predicting that both Top seeds make the conference finals.  However, I am going with a perennial underachievers to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. And I still cannot believe that I am picking this team to stun the hockey world and win the Stanley Cup.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Proud To Not Root For The Local Teams

I believe it was in the second grade when I was told by some of my friends that I had to root for all the Minnesota teams because they were the closest teams to my hometown of Huron, SD.  That just didn't sit right for a kid with an independence streak 2 miles wide, so I set forth to choose my own teams to follow and just to add to stubborn streak, I decided that I wouldn't like the local teams and that I wouldn't choose the most popular teams of pro sports. So there went the Yankees, Celtics, Dodgers, Cowboys and all the other prima donna teams out there. Well, my selections were made over 30 years ago and I haven't switched teams since I made my choice even though more often than not I have no rooting interest in the playoffs.

Why I Root For My Teams

This is a “cut and paste” job from an email between us contributors, but it will give you some insight as to why I root for the teams I do – and why I loathe others. – R.J.

Nazem KadriI root for the Leafs because I've always liked their style of play, especially during the Wendel Clark years. I hate the Kings because the owners (AEG) are cheap bastards. They also own the San Diego Sports Arena, a fifty year old dump. Not only will they not renovate it, but they won't bring minor league hockey back because it's not profitable enough for them.

The Kings also have the worst fans. They didn't care about the Stanley Cup until they won it. And once the curiosity went away, they stopped caring again. NO ONE talks about the Kings were I live. It's like last season never happened.

I hate the Chargers because they've threatened to move to LA for the past decade. San Diego has lost two teams to LA (Clippers, Gulls) in the past and I wanted no part of that. I don't care if they're still around. They could still "Bolt" at any time. LOL. At least you know what you're getting with the Raiders, and I've always had a healthy respect for them.

I don't root for teams that leave San Diego, so there's no way I can root for the Clippers. My family is from San Antonio, and I've been a Spurs fan since the 70s. The team and the city will always be one, and I'm loyal to that as well.

The Padres? The ownership has been a joke for about fifteen years so I mock them for fun. When they were talking about getting a AAA team in nearby Escondido last year, my thinking was, "Oh cool. We'll have two local Red Sox minor league teams to watch!"

BoSox Tavern spring playoff update

Yup, my Celtics are as "bad" as we all thought.  Love ya, Doc, and your enthusiasm and positive attitude -- and no one wants to lose to the Knicks in the playoffs (read Boston losing to NY) -- but we all saw this coming; and given how great the NY fans have been regarding the Boston Marathon bombings, I'm okay with this.
I know we don't blog much about basketball and the NBA here but it's the playoffs, fellas, and at least one of us has a legit title contending team to post about (RJ!) and you're beating the team we all love to hate.  So how's about a Laker beatdown blog after your Spurs finish the sweep?

On to the NHL, where three of our teams will be playing in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  G's Caps (C-A-P-S Caps, Caps, Caps -- that one's for you, big fella, no hard feelings) have a first-round matchup with the Blue Shirts, so I'm assuming we'll all be Caps fans in this one.  I was hoping the Rangers, who went on a 4 game winning streak to finish the season, would continue to underachieve and that the Jets would get in.  Also, was pulling for the Blue Jackets, who deserved better.  When it comes to a playoff spot, being tied at the end of the season SHOULD NEVER be decided by anything other than a one-game playoff.
Back to our teams.  If the Bruins win in regulation against the Senators tonight, the Bruins will win the division (can I get a "fuck the Habs?") and have the 2nd seed, playing the Islanders in the first round.  If the Bruins beat the Sens in OT, that one point for the Sens puts them in 7th, meaning they'd play the Bruins in the first round.  I'd personally rather play the Senators (I know, watch what you ask for).  If the Sens win tonight, meaning the Bs only get one point, then the Bruins would not win the division and finish 4th, facing RJ's Leafs in the first round.

Obviously there will be mandatory blog challenges if any our teams face each other.  If I had it my way, which I can't have completely because it's not possible, I'd like to be rooting for RJ's Leafs against the Canadiens in the first round -- what hockey fan wouldn't like that?! -- and my Bruins playing the Senators.  To me that's more fun than rooting for my team to beat his, when his made the playoffs for the first time in forever.  Sorry, just a little jab.  So the Leafs, if I have this figured right, are gonna have a hated division rival matchup no matter what, either the Bruins or the Canadiens.

So let's root for the Bruins to beat the Sens in OT tonight, so we can root for G's Caps to beat the Rangers, my Bruins to beat the Sens and RJ's Leafs to beat the Canadiens.  That would a lot of fun.  Also, I really think blog posts should be mandatory around here everytime one of our teams wins a playoff round.  (I'll send an email so we can vote)

Here's hoping that all four of our teams make it in next year and we'll just go at each other. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Is Coming

I know Joffrey Lupul (center) is King Joffrey, but is Phil Kessel supposed to be Jamie Lannister? Or perhaps Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger) because no matter his reputation he’s always underestimated?

I’d like to think Nazem Kadri is Tyrion Lannister. Both of them are well liked, steal scenes and get under the skin of others for a living.

Now if only the Leafs would come up with a Game of Thrones-like graphic with Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Mark Fraser. That would be epic.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Wait Is Over

Click on the image to embiggerate!

A lot has changed since 2004. I’ve have five jobs with three different employers. Three Presidential elections have come and gone. I went from being twenty-five years old with nearly a decade of experience to middle aged. I endured a lockout that wiped out an NHL season. I also endured John Ferguson Jr.’s reign of error in the Leafs front office as well as a parade of coaches that refused to play a rough style of hockey that was the team’s trademark. Despite the ridicule I received from fans of other NHL teams, I remained a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And with a third-period Joffrey Lupul shot that trickled over Craig Anderson’s shoulder the Leafs exorcised every demon that haunted the organization for the past nine years: JFJ, Paul Maurice, Ron Wilson, Vesa Toskala, Tyler Seguin and the immortal Brett Lebda.

The Leafs qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Playoffs? PLAYOFFS!!!

Tonight’s journey wasn’t easy. While most Leafs fans were worried about a nightmare scenario in which they’d miss the playoffs by going 0-4-0 while every team behind them ran the table, I sat down and kept calm as the puck dropped. Dion Phaneuf briefly opened the scoring, but the zebras disallowed his goal when Leo Komarov interfered was pushed into with Anderson by Chris Phillips in the crease.

Then I nearly turned on my fellow Leafs fans on Twitter when they screamed for Frazer McLaren to be suspended 20 games for the intent to head butt Matt Kassian during a first-period fight. Notice I said intent. Only incidental contact was made between McLaren’s noggin and Kassian’s grill, so the refs let it go with nothing more than matching five-minute majors for fighting.

However, the hatred toward McLaren from bitter Leafs fans on Twitter afterward was so bad, you would have thought he had compared Matt Cooke to Sirhan Sirhan. One of those turncoats even tweeted Brendan Shanahan to review the fight.

The Leafs finally got on the board in the second period when JVR (James van Riemsdyk) potted two goals, both of which were assisted by Phil “Thank You” Kessel and Cody Franson. Jakob Silfverberg kept the game close with a last-minute goal before the second intermission, but Nazem Kadri and Lupul erased all doubt the Leafs would choke away another playoff berth in the final period.

I hope the Leafs hang on to fifth place. They own Ottawa and Montreal this season, and I’m certain they could dispatch either club in five games if they met in the first round. The Bruins? I won’t make any predictions. The Leafs are healthy, while the Bruins might be in ruins due to injuries and having so many games left on their schedule. It could go either way at this point.

But what if the Bruins and Canadiens keep playing like they have been lately? The Leafs are only two points behind the Bruins, and four points behind the Habs. They’re visiting Florida for a vacation two games against the Lightning and Panthers.

All of a sudden next Saturday’s game against Montreal has a lot more meaning, doesn’t it?

A Miracle Has Happened!

The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Qualified For The Playoffs. This is the 1st time in 10 years. Hey R.J., I envy you. At least your hockey team is in the playoffs. Mine, well there is always next year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


C-A-P-S!  CAPS!  CAPS!!  CAPS!!!

Today's "Blog Challenge" post is supposed to be between myself and RJ (a Leafs fan?).  Since the Caps took it to the Leafs, let me say this at the outset for bragging rights:  (....ahem...)  EAT IT, JACK! 

Okay, having said that, that will have to be the extent of my bragging, seeing as I didn't actually watch the game...in fact, I didn't watch it at all!!  You see, I downloaded a Microsoft Office application yesterday that I couldn't get to install (from the web).  So, I decided to contact their Tech Support (have you ever tried to do that with Microsoft?  No?  Well don't!  Just go ahead and stick hot burning railroad spikes in your ass, you'll feel much better). 

After trying to install the software for two days (it just churned) and then getting passed off from phone tech to phone tech by Microsoft, I was ready to climb the walls and scream!  I finally got in touch with Ifram (yeah, that "Ifram" from Tech Support) whom I allowed to take remote control of my PC and do the clean/up.  I'd been on the phone with Microsoft since they dropped the puck in the Leafs/Caps game in the first period!!

While he was doing that, I ran downstairs thinking I could catch the last few minutes of the 3rd period.  But NOOOOOO!  The freaking game was over (oh, BTW, the Caps won: 5-1, Ovie has 28 net benders in this abbreviated season).  So, I didn't get to see squat, but at least we won!

So, RJ:   NYA-NA-NA, NA-NA!!!  :-)

Sorry, that's the extent of it!  :-)

(P.S.  Ifram fixed my PC!)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Day at Miller Park

Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI, opened in 2001, but I never had the opportunity to watch a Brewers’ game there because every time I was home in Sheboygan was either during the off season or the Brewers were on the road. This year, I found myself needing to be in Chicago for work on April 2nd. After talking with my wife, I decided to extend my stay to spend the week with Dad, and I set about the possibility to finally making it to the park.

Easter Sunday fell on March 31st, but I wanted to spend the day with my family in Virginia. I made plans to fly to Milwaukee Mitchell Field for April 1st and talked with my Dad and brother-in-law, Steve, about going to opening game on that same day. At first everyone seem enthusiastic about going; but an on-line check for tickets found that it was sold out or available at five times face value, and winter keeping its grip in the region, soon opening day wasn’t viable. Luckily we decided that early because my flight ended up being delayed twice at Reagan National Airport, and I didn’t land in Milwaukee until mid-afternoon.

Talking that night with my Dad, he told me that with the cold spell going on and with his knee and hip replacement and recent back surgery, he wanted to decline going to the game with me. I understood his plight and tried to get Steve to go, but he’s more of a Packer fan and willing to brave the weather for them than the Brewers. Yeah, I don’t think that even if the Brewers won the World Series would they ever supplant the Packers. However, my two nieces, Abbi and Ashlie, were both enthusiastic about going to a game as long as their boyfriends came along, and we decided to go to Wednesday, April 3rd’s last game of the series against the Colorado Rockies.

After the girls got off of work on Wednesday, we all met up at my sister’s house and headed for Milwaukee by 4:45 for the 7:10 game. We decided not to tailgate because it was a windy 42 degrees, which I think was the high temperature for the week I was there.

What I think is funny was everyone asking if we had tickets for the game. While I wouldn’t try it in a good baseball town like Boston or St. Louis, but with opening day being only two days before, it being a mid-week game, and no promotions going on, I’m used to walking up to the ticket window at a park and being able to get decent seats. That held true to form and we got second level seats on the third base side for $40 a ticket, and didn’t have to pay any handling or Ticket Master fees. I considered the parking in the general admission lot to be a reasonable $10.

We entered the stadium from the center field area and walked around the concourse. I saw the tributes to the Milwaukee Braves World Series win; former Brewer greats like Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, and Paul Molitor; the 1923 Milwaukee Bears team from the Negro National League; and, of course, current players and managers. I quickly found a team store and bought a throw-back Brewer cap with the “MB” glove and ball logo to go with my Robin Yount throwback jersey.
Walking around the park, I saw the Sausages and Bernie Brewer getting pictures taken with kids young and old; and the iconic food courts serving hot dogs, bratwurst, polish and Italian sausages and chorizos.
We found our seats in Section 225 by 7:00 and they were great. With the dome closed and all the steel structures for the retractable roof, the field looks like an airplane or dirigible hanger. The park was clean and the food and stands and restrooms were close to us. An amusing site in the section next to ours was a guy in a Ricky Vaughn “99” Cleveland Indians jersey. Has anyone else seen a jersey like that in other parks?

Of course I had to try one of their Klement’s bratwursts but was greatly disappointed. Granted, we in Sheboygan think we know how to cook brats the best because we’re the home of the vastly superior Johnsonville sausages, which isn’t even the best brat is town, (I prefer Meisfeld’s when in Sheboygan, and don’t get me going about serving it on a hot dog bun); but flat-grilling bratwurst is just sacrilege. I know they have to mass prepare bratwurst for the crowds, but to not even have an option for a charcoal grilled brat is an opportunity lost. I guess that’s one of the reasons people tailgate is to get their brats done right. Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to go back and try some of their other food selections; and I’m sure there’s a lot of hidden gems to discover.

Before going to the game, I reviewed some posts from people who had gone and recommended the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, a pale and wheat Weiss beer brewed with blackberry juice and natural lemonade flavor. I liked it so much, I had two. Even though it was 42 degrees outside and a comfortable 70 degrees inside, the beer is perfect for summer days especially after yard work. I bought a six-pack last week and had one on Saturday after cutting the grass.

The game? Oh yeah, they played one. The Rockies jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Brewers fought back to make it 2-2. The Rockies made it 4-2, but the Brewers got it to 4-3 with Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun hitting back-to-back doubles. However John Axford couldn’t hold it close giving up three runs in the 9th. I think the Brewers are going to be also-rans this year because of pitching.

After the game, I had to run around to the front of the park to see the statues. It was cold and windy with the kids anxiously waiting for me; however, it was too dark to get good pictures, even though I took some.

I’m hoping to catch another Brewer game when they come to DC at Nationals Park during the 1st through 4th of July. But it may be difficult because the first three games are at night and then fighting the traffic on the 4th with all the tourists wanting to see the fireworks. At least the game on the 4th is a day game, but last year I believe the temperature was 105. At least I’ll be able to get my Ben’s Chili Bowl fix.

Monday, April 08, 2013

September 20th Is So Far Away…

This is the official trailer for Rush, Ron Howard’s movie based on the events that shaped the 1976 F1 season – and the rivalry between reigning world champion Niki Lauda and rising star James Hunt.

Current events aside, I remember watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports almost every Saturday afternoon to watch F1 races from the mid-70s up until ESPN was created. I remember this season vividly. Tyrrell introduced the P34, a six-wheel racing car that was steered by the rear wheels. McLaren was still racing the venerable (and highly successful) M23, and Ferrari had the fast and fragile 312.

I had my doubts Daniel Brühl and Chris Helmsworth could play Lauda and Hunt, but this trailer convinced me they nailed it. And the car porn… I have to find a way to get September 20th off from work so I can see the first showing of this movie.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Hey Abbott!

I know this isn't much of a post but thought it culturally significant enough to do anyway.  A special shoutout to MA for sharing this photo.

Look Hu's on first!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The NCAA Under Mark Emmert Is A Joke And Probably In It's Death Throes

It is Friday night and 2 of the 4 big stories coming out from collegiate sports are rectifying themselves. These 4 stories have nothing to do with a game on the court or the field in a direct sort of way. All 4 concern troubling signs about how the NCAA can enforce rules and regulations. All 4 concern problems in different conferences and people in positions of authority coming under fire for things that almost everybody on the street would think is wrong.

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Most Inconsequential Post For MLB 2013

This is probably the one and only bright spot for me this MLB baseball season. And yes, I am sort of being a jerk by doing this.