Thursday, October 31, 2013

Week 9 NFL "Pick 'Em" Results

This week’s NFL "Pick 'Em" challenge winner is RJ, in a tie breaker with BK.   He and BK both had 12 wins and it went down to the MNF tie-breaker with RJ picking 47 pts, and BK picking 56 (total score for the game was 23):

                   - RJ:  12 wins
                   - BK:  12 wins
                   - Zeb:  11 wins
                   - George:  10 wins
                   - AA:  10 wins
                   - Mike:  10 wins
                   - Rick:  9 wins
                   - Tom:  9 wins

The total points standing:
BK: 75 pts - (2 wins)
Zeb: 75 pts - (1 win)
Mike: 74 pts - (1 win*)
Tom: 73 pts - (1 win)
Rick: 72 pts - (1 win*)
AA: 70 pts
RJ: 68 pts - (2 wins)
        George: 66 pts - (1 win)
(* Split tie)

Dear Red Sox (2013 World Series Edition)

The below was written by our friend AA last night after the Sox clinched game 6 and became World Champs.  He's been posting these regularly throughout the season but since he's a luddite and can't figure out what's wrong with his Blogger account, I thought I'd share the best one yet.

Dear Red Sox,
Congratulations on a great season and an even better post-season. World Champions! Unbelievable, yet well deserved. You did it correctly.
Back in April I was merely hoping for a chance to feel proud of my team again. A playoff berth wasn't even on my radar; I just wanted to see my Sox care again so that I could care about them. After the year of My Bloody Valentine and the apathetic "mail-it-in" approach carried over from the end of the '11 season, I only wished again for the focus on playing baseball the way it should be played. It took some time to bring me back into the fold but I eventually recognized the dichotomy between this year and last. Was it Farrell whipping guys back into shape? Was it the youngsters injecting the passion of the game back into the rest of the clubhouse, reminding the bulk of the retained players what they were there for? Was it the replacement of the top-heavy contracts with scrappy players who cared more about the purity of the game than the number of zeroes on the dotted line? Was it getting rid of that shitheel Beckett and his clearly negative influence? Was it the April bombing which brought the city - and the team - together? I would submit all of the above.
These guys - to a player - all contributed in their own way. You can go down the roster and pick any guy on there - whether starter or occasional player - and easily recall a moment where they stepped up and helped the group make it to where we are tonight. We've had talented teams before (perhaps even more so than this one) who never made it nearly this far, but these guys bucked the odds and simply kept playing great baseball. Tonight we reap the benefits.
I could go on for paragraphs about individual players but a couple of them in particular need to be mentioned above the others. First, Shane Victorino brought a sense of defensive excitement back to this OF fan, something we haven't seen in many, many years at any of the three positions. His play was astonishing, navigating the toughest right field in the majors like he had always been there. Jon Lester finally became the ace I always knew he had buried in hm somewhere with a knockout playoff punch that will be talked about for years. (In fact, I thought he should have been the WS MVP, with all due respect to Papi and his sick performance.) Finally, John Lackey has proven through much of the season (and certainly in these playoffs, where he was legitimately outstanding) that I was wrong about him... to an extent, at least. Not to put too fine a point on it, he sucked like a sump pump for his first few years here and never earned his massive contract until now. Yet, he was brilliant this post-season and without him, we never would have won the whole thing. He was essential in putting us over the top, and I applaud his efforts and thank him forfinally bringing his game home. Kudos, man!
A great season, a great post-season, and a well-deserved World Series win. Way to go, gentlemen! Dear Red Sox indeed.
See you next year!
PS Looking back at what I wrote, I neglected to mention many vital players: Uehara, Tazawa, Breslow, Napoli, Pedroia, Drew, Gomes, Nava, Ellsbury, Buchholz (and the rest of them)... they all deserve props. It really was a collective crew that coalesced to bring the thing home. They all deserve credit.
Next time I'm in Dallas, I'll spend the necessary five minutes and get your account straightened out.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Party like it's 1918

Because the Red Sox are your 2013 World Series Champs, winning it at home for the first time since 1918.  What a great team to get behind and be proud of.

In John Farrell's gut we trust!  And let us not forget GM Ben Cherington. 

That's three championships in the last 10 years and eight overall for this franchise.  This has been worth the wait!

Halloween Baseball

My alma mater recently had a game at Tony Gwynn Stadium, but it wasn’t your typical SDSU baseball game. This time, the team was split up into two teams (Red Team & Black Team) and played a four inning game – in Halloween costumes!

I especially liked Facebook, Charger Girl, the baby, and the Jamaican Bobsled Team.

If the video doesn’t work, refresh the page in your browser and try again. It seems to work that way. – H.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Obstruction Discussion

What follows is my initial status post on Facebook regarding the play that ended game 3 of the World Series last night and the comments of others:

"ZEB:  I don't profess to know the baseball rulebook rule by rule (and seemingly everyone agrees that last play of the game was the right call) but I do have to ask: It's obstruction if the f'ing running trips over the third baseman WHO WAS NOT IN THE BASE LINE?

JEFF:  Iffy call, for sure. I can see it going either way.
HEIDI:  What I don't understand was the throw to 3rd was missed because of the slide into 3rd which caused the fall , wasn't that obstruction first?????? An ugly ugly win for the cardinals- maybe good motivation for the sox, this team will not give up. I thought also that the strike zone definitely got a bigger box last night for the cardinals too.
JEFF:  It would have been interference, Heidi, if he had tried to bump the Boston player on third, but he was sliding into base and didn't actually intend to bump him (looks like his knee grazed the third baseman's foot causing him to stumble). Ticky tacky both ways since the third baseman fell trying to get the ball and was in the process of getting back up when the baserunner fell over HIM.
ZEB:  Over Middlebrooks is not the most direct route to home.
HEIDI:  My point was that it was the base runner who caused the 3rd basemen to stumble who became the obstruction - so I might have been ok with the obstruction call if the 3rd basemen tripped up with out any prior entanglement but I think that call under replay in the future would be overturned with an adjustment to the rule as written now r, The 3rd basement wouldn't have fallen if no slide, if the slide causes the fall, obstruction should not be called. Just my feeling of a rule clearly not explained very well. The player did not mean to obstruct and had no means not to instruct, if there was intent to obstruct the runner and no way of making a play obstruction would have been fine. I am not complaining of the call - although I think pause might have someone rethink it but as written I get it, it doesn't mean it adds to the game in fact it was a detraction.
ZEB:   Ed Armbrister, 1975.
JEFF:  The problem was he lifted his legs as he started to get up, just as the guy tried to go over him. It LOOKED like intent to trip, even if it wasn't. But after seeing another frame by frame, I agree with Zeb... he wasn't in the base path, and the guy didn't need to go over him to get to home. Had he just run straight down the line, he probably would have beat the throw and they would have won cleanly.
ZEB:  Exactly. What the hell he was doing two feet inside the line. But I will say this, I hate to lay the outcome of almost any game on one play, even if it is the last and most visible. Really shouldn't have come down to that in any event.
GEORGE:  @Zeb: "Over Middlebrooks is not the direct path home," that is precisely my point. Between the time the ball got past Middlebrooks and the runner made the move towards home, all of that was a part of the play (which is why I don't understand the ""obstruction" rule). But if that is the rule, then it definitely seemed to me that the runner "could have" made a jog to the right to avoid the "obstruction" (Middlebrooks); instead, making the decision to try to climb (stumble) over Middlebrooks (the shortest distance) put Middlebrooks in the play then you have to give the 3d baseman the benefit of the doubt. From every angle I saw, the runner wasn't tripped by the baseman, he just slipped (stumbled) of his own volition.
HEIDI:   UGHHHHH LY game- the boys will rebound, use it as motivation. You guys got this right -I haven't heard any pundits explain it this well.
GREG:  This could have been avoided if Salty had held onto the ball and forced the runner to stay on third. There's a lot of "what ifs", and I like and respect Salty, but it was a bad choice on his part. Hindsight. Tonights a chance to redeem - there's a lot of this series left. Hopefully, the boys will put it behind them and come out swinging tonight.
MICHAEL:  Dude shouldn't have pushed from the second level.
MIKE:   Some responsibility has to go to runner who literally took two steps back towards second base as he was looking at the left fielder. Middlebrooks was lifting his legs to not obstruct the chalkline. Plain and simple; shitty call..."

Add your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 7 pick 'em results & standings

No comment on the games.

This week's results: 

- Rick:  10 wins (Picked NYG – 37 pts)
- Mike:  10 wins (Picked NYG – 37 pts)
- Zeb: 9 wins
- Tom: 9 wins
- George: 9 wins
- AA: 8 wins
- BK: 8 wins
- RJ: 7 wins
Therefore, your current standings:
- Total Points:    
     - Tom:  64
     - Zeb:  64

     - Mike:  64
     - BK:  63
     - Rick:  63
     - AA:  60
     - RJ:  56
     - George:  56
Weekly wins standings:  Brent has two and the rest of us all have one, thanks to this week's results with Rick and Mike at the top.
Look at high tight the total pick standings are!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On to the 2013 World Series

The Boston Red Sox are going back to the World Series.  How remarkable is that after last season and the 2nd half collapse of 2011?  And how unreal was this series, where you could argue the Tigers outpitched the Sox but the Sox got the clutch hits and plays that give them just the tiniest edge.
I don't really have much to add but thanks to Shane Victorino, the Flying Hawaiian, for choosing the 7th inning tonight to break out of a 2 for 23 playoff with a grand slam to propel the Sox on to their third World Series since 2004.

And Koji Uehara is named the series MVP, capping it off by throwing nothing but strikes in the 9th inning tonight.  Do Shelly and I get any credit because we had Japanese food tonight?
In case some of you may not understand this: You know how these days every player has a theme song and they play a piece of it everytime they come to the plate. Well, this is Shane's and if you're at the Fenway, you hear the fans in unison sing the last piece "because every little thing will be alright." Way to go, Shano!
Worry? No. Why?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights has come to my small home town.  I have to admit I haven't been to a high school football game since my youngest stepson (now 28) played and haven't been to a game at my alma mater since I played some 35 (gulp) years ago.
When I played, the games were played on Saturday afternoons down in the big public park a half mile from the school and there were no lights.  I knew that the school had moved the field back onto campus where it'd been before my days and that it was very nice and had lights.  I hadn't seen it until last night.
Should've taken a pick up the hill on the left of the campus but there are some on the website

My school -- a small, old, traditional New England prep school that is also the local high school for three small towns, has never been a powerhouse in football; in fact, MCI was winless last season.  Well, this season they've been steamrolling their opponents and were 6-0 going into last night's game against a traditional football school, also undefeated Bucksport HS.  This matchup for the Huskies against the Golden Bucks would certainly be a measuring stick for this year's team.
I'm told 2,400 tickets were sold for last night's game.  Quaint to some perhaps but pretty impressive for a school district of probably 6,500 people.  So obviously a lot of alumni turned out for this one (no, it wasn't homecoming...that's next weekend) and I did see a lot of old friends, a few who even had sons playing in this game.
It was quite a game.  Bucksport returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.  MCI returned the resulting kickoff deep into Bucksport territory, scoring a TD on the next play; the Golden Bucks scored a TD on the next possession, as did the Huskies.  Things did mellow out a bit but the Huskies were down 14, 35-21, at halftime; and their touchdown at the end of the half tightened things up to that score because it'd started to look like a Bucksport runaway.
You know, sometimes these schools with traditions of success in certain sports know how to win against the upstarts, but the MCI Huskies never quit and kept on grinding, finally falling from the ranks of the unbeaten with a final score of 42-35. 
This was a lot of fun and brought back so many memories.  It was also fun to get out into the community for one of these and reminisce with old friends.  Somewhere someone's singing "Glory Days."  We did most definitely have better cheerleaders.
I found this banner cute, funny and pretty indicative of high school spirit.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Week 6 Pick 'Em results & Standings

First, congrats to Brent for winning this week:

- BK:  12 wins
- AARON:  11 wins
- ZEB:  11 wins
- RICK:  10 wins
- MIKE:  10 wins
- GEORGE:  7 wins
- ROBBIE:  7 wins
- TOM:  7 wins
And with that, we have the following standings after six weeks:
Brent now leads the weekly win category with two, followed by George, RJ, Tom and myself each with one.
Your overall correct picks so far:
- Total Points:    
     - Tom:  55
     - Zeb:  55
     - BK:  55
     - Mike:  54
     - Rick:  53
     - RJ:  49
     - AA:  52
     - George:  47
Boy, have things tightened up.  Don't forget to get at least your Thursday night pick in before kickoff tonight.
Anything stand out in any of the games you watched last weekend?  Did you see the ending of the Patriot/Saint game?  :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

At the wrong game

As some of you know, I was at game 1 of the ALCS thanks to my brother and his mini-season ticket package.  We were originally slated to see game 5 of the ALDS but since the Sox won that series in four games, we got pushed back to game 1 of the ALCS.  That was fine with me for a couple of reasons.  One, I didn't have to take a day off from work and it would still have been hectic with a day off; and two, I figured it would be a lot less stressful than a winner-take-all game.
The first thing we did upon arriving was to find the new Yaz (Carl Yastrzemski) statue and take a few photos.
Yaz and yours truly

We had a very good time, as you can imagine; but it was a very strange game to watch, probably more so in person from center field, where it was very difficult to tell whether the strike zone was large, how good the pitches were that were making the Sox not swing at fastballs but swing at off- speed stuff off the plate; and it was pretty darn cold.
I can't remember another game of any kind where one team, between 15 strikeouts and 7 walks, only put the ball in play 5 times.  Maybe stranger still was the fact that they still had a chance to tie the game in the 9th.  John Lester nearly matched Anibal Sanchez' performance, only giving up one run as a result of a couple of walks and a bloop single.  So even though the Sox were no-hit through 8 1/3 innings, after a Daniel Nava base hit and a stolen base, they had the tieing run on.
Now last night's game, that was an awesome turnaround and it would've been beyond words to have been at that game instead, where the Sox came from 4 runs down to tie it on another David Ortiz clutch grand slam and a Jarrod Saltalamachia RBI single to win it (in case you somehow hadn't heard what happened late in game 2)
Back to our game, I have to give the Sox fans much credit, they didn't boo (though yours truly was a vocal about the number of fastballs the Sox watched go by) and not a soul left until the last out was tallied.

World Series plaques

From our seats in center and the Boston Strong logo

Saturday, October 12, 2013

He Said It

"I would be lying if I didn't say it's a little disappointing and frustrating. But I'm not going to get too discouraged about it. I'm a man of faith and I know God's in control. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what the next few weeks, few months hold. We'll see how everything plays out. But I'm working on a lot of things during practice and trying to get better as a quarterback. I'm enjoying it, being out here with the guys. Who knows how it's going to play out." –Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, via Fox Sports, October 10, 2013. 

One of my pet peeves is invoking God or Jesus for just about anything related to sports. Thank God we won the game. Thank you Jesus for letting me score that touchdown. I feel blessed I didn’t get hurt.


When someone like Christian Ponder says “I know God’s in control”, we all know he’s not talking about Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. At least we hope not. You know what The Bible says about worshipping false deities!

If I were a Vikings fan, I wouldn’t be praying to God for anything other than to have the inner strength to restrain myself from giving Ponder a kick in the butt for that comment.

God’s in control? Hello, Christian. I have news for you. God doesn’t care whether you win or lose a game. God doesn’t care whether or not you throw a touchdown or a pick six. And I’m sure God doesn’t care if you sit at the end of the bench and let your NFL career go by the wayside while Josh Freeman comes in and takes your job.

But a lot of Vikings fans do and that’s what matters. Grow a set and take control of the situation. Dedicate yourself to becoming the quarterback everyone in the Vikings organization thinks you are. Stop making stupid mistakes. Throw with more accuracy.

God can’t help you get your job back. You’re on your own there. Don’t believe me? Ask Tim Tebow if it’s still God’s will for him to be an NFL quarterback.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sox move on

Since it's a rule on the blog that an author has to write a piece when his team wins a playoff round and none of the other Sox fans have come forward, here goes.
It's hard during the playoffs to let yourself get too excited when your team wins an early playoff round because the next round the anxiety is ramped up even more.  It's obviously a relief as a fan of a division winner to not lose in the first round and be a one-and-done, especially at the hands of a division rival.  But it's easier than it used to be.  You've heard me talk about the fact that I still struggle with the fear of impending doom that every Sox fan was born and brought up with before 2004.  It's still there at times, especially when the Yankees are close by; but when they're nowhere to be seen, the late regular season and the playoffs are much more enjoyable.  We'll see how I do this Saturday with the start of the ALCS (and I'll have a surprise for you, so stay tuned.)

I've enjoyed this team thoroughly.  They remind me of the Bruins in ways, a bunch of grinders who truly love to play the game and enjoy each other and playing together.  Even though they had the best record, on paper this is not the best team in the league.  We'll see whether grind and chemistry can overcome better talent.  I've watched every game of this series (and some of the other series) but I've yet to see all of them to the end given the start times and the fact that I'm getting up at 5:30.  Have a feeling the next round though is going to cost me a lot of sleep.
Well, on to the next round; may the best team win and see you Saturday.
Please feel free to not only comment on the Sox, their series against the Ray or the upcoming ALCS but anything related to these playoffs.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


DENVER vs. DALLAS:  What Defense??

In my humble opinion, a low scoring game is more of a tribute to a well-disciplined, focused team defense.  Of course,  this doesn't necessarily mean the offensive game plan was a poor one, but a well-focused defense will reign in even the best offense.  But when a team scores points in bunches, it's not as if every offensive play is like an IED to a defense, catching it off guard and exploding for score after score.  More likely than not, that "big run/catch/scoring play" is the result of a lapse (mistake) in the defensive scheme.

A "shoot out" (such as the Broncos' 51-48 win over the Giants), as opposed to a blowout (e.g., 49ers' 34-3 annihilation of the Texans), is merely a poorly played game and thoroughly indicts the defense, and makes meaningless the hundreds of yards gained by either offense--such yardage are hardly "earned."  And by "not earned," I mean it's like a 40-yard sprint footrace where the opponent slips and falls down at the starting blocks, and the winner crosses the finish line before his opponent can make 20 yards.  There was no competition--it wasn't a real race, so what was proven?  Nothing. 

The NFL (likewise for the NBA and the NHL) has created rules that handcuff the defense, and are designed specifically for high scoring events, because that's what they think we want to see--the 60-yard TD pass, the 50-yard run up the middle, the foot chase to the goal line.  I know up front that I'm on an island and few will share my opinion that shoot outs are not what the fans want, it's what the League and its sponsors want, and it's what fantasy players want.  An undefeated (5-0) team like Denver "allows" 48 points to be scored against it--in fact, they had to catch up and relied on an unlikely interception with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, bringing the game down to a last second field goal to win. 

Really?  I think that's just pitiful.

In the Denver game, both the Broncos' and Cowboys' defenses were equally and totally sorry.  Both teams' offense ripped through each other like the defense was standing still.  Defense wins championships.  Good defenses limit yards and points.  A lot of people want the excitement of high scoring shootouts in professional sports--tons of homers, bomb passes, 3-pointers, and blue line spinnerammas.   Well, not me, I appreciate a pitcher who can force a batter to hit into a DP, or a goalie with quick eye and defensemen who sacrifice the body.  Defense is the game in my view.  

51-48?  Great Jehovah, I hope we don't see too many more games like that.

RJ Wins Week 5 Pick 'Em:

  - RJ:  9 wins (winner by tie breaker – 47 pts)
  - Tom: 9 wins (tie – 35 pts)
  - Rick: 8 wins
  - BK: 7 wins
  - Zeb: 7 wins
  - AA: 7 wins
  - George:  6 wins
  - Mike:  4 wins

  - Wins:  (George, RJ, Tom, Zeb, BK)
  - Total Points:
     - Tom:  48
     - Mike:  44
     - Zeb:  44
     - BK:  43
     - Rick:  43
     - RJ:  42
     - AA:  41
     - George:  40

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Paying College Football Athletes Should Not Happen

There is a big debate about whether or not college football players should get paid because of the business of college football. I am against paying the players, but just because public opinion is against paying players at the current time, doesn't mean that eventually it will not happen. But for those people that are for paying college football players, there are a couple of problems by going that route.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ruminating on Salty and baseball luck

I know this will fall on deaf ears to baseball fans of teams who've not yet found the ultimate baseball luck but it's hard to explain what coming as close as possible only to lose in the most heart breaking way over and over does to the psyche of a fan.  It is a different type of torture than the disappointment of never getting close. 
That aside, this is a little post I put on Facebook earlier while watching game one of the Sox/Rays series -- a little background first, I guess:  The Sox are down 0-2 and the offense is doing nothing.  The Sox have a runner on and Ortiz hits a ball to very deep left that Will Meyers is clearly calling for all the way, then inexplicably stops just as the ball lands behind him for a ground rule double.  The Sox go on to score five in the inning.  Jarod Saltalamachia drives in one with a double and scores later to get the Sox up 8-2.

"I've often thought to myself this baseball season, though haven't til now posted it, that Salty has been as clutch and valuable as any of the others who've gotten more credit.
On a second note: I guess I'm still an old Sox fan (expecting the worst). When Meyers misplayed that ball which led to 5 Red Sox runs, my emotions and thoughts were that there'd been a cosmic, as it were, makeup for that. When things like that happened to us, usually at the hands of the Yankees, you knew that was just the way it was and there'd be no change in fortune. Maybe eventually it'll sink in that our fortunes/luck has truly changed, as we're up 8-2."

So talk to me, baseball fans, about Salty and baseball luck.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

NFL Pick 'Em: Week 4 Results

Who's Your Daddy? 

I accepted the task of keeping the weekly score of our NFL Pick 'Em Challenge, and I committed to providing a weekly post with each week's score, but because we started in the middle of government fiscal year-end throes, I couldn’t find the time to write my usual pithy words on the previous week's games.  Well, since my so-called "representatives" in Congress believe in their hearts that their argument to see who has the biggest dick is what the American people asked for, and since it's also in my best interests to put me out of work to salve our budget woes (while they keep their paychecks), it seems that I have time to write something--at least for this week.  I hope this doesn't become a habit!  :-(

Here are the results for Week 4:

  - Tom:  12
   -  Rick:  10
   -  Mike: 10
   -  AA: 9
   -  Zeb: 9
   -  BK: 8                                                                 
   -  RJ: 6
   -  George: 6

The overall 4-week standings:

   -  Mike:  40 wins
    -   Tom:  39 wins
    -   Zeb:  37 wins
    -   BK:  36 wins
    -   Rick:  35 wins
    -   AA:  34 wins
    -   George:  34 wins
    -   RJ:  33 wins

I'm not a sports prognosticator (as you can tell from my W-L record above), but notwithstanding the pure "suckyness" of the NFC Least (Washington, Dallas, New York, and Philadelphia), the rest of the League seems to have latched on to a degree of parity.  With some of the usual suspects still holding the high ground (New Orleans, New England, Indianapolis, Seattle), they are joined by a few upstarts (Detroit, Miami, and Kansas City).  Other perennial 1st-placers seem to need their "Geritol" (Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburg(h), Houston, and Atlanta). 

Did I mention the NFC Least?  No?  Good, because they SUCK! With the entire conference winning a total of just four games (that's "4" as in:  quatro, vier, quate, shi, ,quattro,  четыре), we'll let Dallas (2-2) believe they're just kicking some serious ass!!!

If I get my job back, I promise not to be so wordy in future posts, and will give you just the facts, ma'am, just the facts!