Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Deflategate Be Damned: Tom Brady Says Those Balls Were Perfect.

When I first heard about this thing called "Deflategate" last Monday morning, my heart sank. I couldn't have felt more disappointed to think that the New England Patriots could have purposely deflated their game balls to gain an advantage in the AFC Championship. I was crushed. This is not the distraction fans in New England needed in the two weeks leading up to Tom Brady's sixth appearance in the Super Bowl.

After the dreaded "spygate" scandal that named my favorite team a bunch of cheaters, my fan psyche was fragile. I despised the fact that many felt the Patriots couldn't win another championship without cheating. This under inflated ball controversy was just one more incident to get those haters up in arms about punishing and penalizing and disciplining this team. Some critics even called for the NFL to ban the Pats from participating in the Super Bowl all for a couple of flat-ish balls.

We've heard every argument in support and against these accusations. And many of the teams' backers have vehemently maintained a football that was deflated less than two psi under the league requirement could not be the reason the Patriots destroyed the Indianapolis Colts by 38 points. Even D'Quell Jackson, who intercepted a Tom Brady pass and was reported to have brought attention to the deflated ball, says he had nothing to do with it. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

So the Patriots are forced to defend themselves to the media and present technical evidence as to what happened to the balls after they were approved by the officials. Bill Belichick turned into a mad scientific with experiments and facts on the effects of atmospheric conditions on leather balls. Tom Brady is raked over the coals as to why he didn't notice the balls were under inflated because all these moronic reporters actually think once the ball is hiked and the play is happening that Brady has time to squeeze the ball and think to himself, "huh, that feels soft. I should report this to someone." (If anything, these press conferences have been a treasure trove of completely awesome soundbites.)

And then we hear that the balls were presented to the officials not properly inflated but the balls were approved. Or that because of a delay in the starting time of the AFC Championship game, the balls were in the possession of some rogue locker room attendant who spent the next ninety seconds in the bathroom frantically letting the air out of the balls... but only eleven of them because he ran out of time.

It was clear to me that a few days into this whole hullaballoo, it was all just a giant pile of bullshit. Haters are going to hate even when there is no tangible proof that the Patriots were directly responsible for the soft balls. For a brief moment, I thought it might actually dissuade me from caring about the Super Bowl. But then I stopped worrying about the consequences and now have joined the camp that believes this whole ordeal is a non-issue and just a reason for all those idiot former football players who think their opinions are important to bash a team that most likely has pounded on them in the past.

That disappointed me thought the Patriots were going to be damned if they did or damned if they didn't win. The won because they cheated or they lost because they couldn't cheat. But then I snapped out of it. With the mega-watt spotlight shining on this team right now, there's not a snowball's chance in hell that they would or could ever cheat in the Super Bowl. Every commentator, reporter, NFL representative and official will have them under the world's most powerful microscope just waiting for them to slip up. The Patriots will be on their best behavior so if when they win, they win clean.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Pats are Super Bowl Bound!!

My superstitious sports fan self won't let me say much more than HOLY CRAP, the Patriots are headed to Arizona and the friggin' Super Bowl!!!

Who could've predicted this turn of events after week four and that 41-14 lambasting they suffered at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs? The Pats were 2-2 and sports reporters and talk show hosts were calling for the end of Tom Brady. He was washed up. He sucked. He was too old and he needed to retire.


Tom doesn't like to be told he can't do something. So what did he do? Meh, not much. Just a 10-2 record for the rest of the season including seven straight wins after the loss to KC. And the #1 seed in the AFC. Yup. Then there was that thrilling come from behind win to beat the Ravens in the Divisional round. Oh and just a little bit of a trouncing of the Colts for the AFC title.

It's going to be a long two weeks, my Patriots fan friends.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Congratulations, Pedro! (A little belated...)

Pedro Martinez is going to Cooperstown! Yeah, yeah... I know I'm a little late to the party but these days, I'm lucky if I remember my own name, so better late than never. Like most Red Sox fans, I loved Pedro. His way of getting the job done was always fun to watch, not to mention his ridiculous personality. He actually told TMZ Sports a couple days ago that he hoped his Jheri curl makes an appearance on his Hall of Fame plaque. I'm just hoping it's a Red Sox cap covering those curls.

I could go on and on about his accomplishments — three-time Cy Young winner, eight-time All-Star, five-time ERA champion and three-time strikeout champion, but who doesn't already know all this? He pitched in two World Series but only won one... one very, very memorable World Series for Red Sox fans. But really more impressive is the baseball era in which he dominated as a pitcher... the dreaded steroid era. And he always pitched clean.

During Pedro's career with the Red Sox, I never once got to see him pitch. Believe me, I'm still bitter about this. One summer, I honestly can't remember when, I went to a game with my parents. It was a drizzly, miserable night but Pedro was scheduled to pitch and I was so excited, it could've been snowing and I wouldn't have cared. About 15 minutes before the game was to start, the public address announcer says there's been a change in the line up and Pedro Martinez would not be pitching. I looked at my parents and said, "I want to go home." But we didn't because that would've been silly. I was so pissed!

It wasn't until 2006 when Martinez returned to pitch at Fenway Park as a New York Met that I finally got to see him live. The cheer he got as a visiting pitcher was thunderous. But the Sox kicked his ass so that was fun too!

I don't think I saw Pedro again at Fenway Park until April 20, 2012 — the 100th anniversary game. But that day, I saw just about everyone through my tears of joy. Pedro and Kevin Millar led all of Fenway Park in a toast to 100 years, complete with what appeared to be a bottle of champagne each. It was funny, touching and perfect.

Congratulations, Pedro... I can't think of any Red Sox pitcher in my lifetime that deserved a first ballot induction into the Hall of Fame more. I wish I could be in Cooperstown with you to celebrate! And congrats also to his classmates, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year! Now Get Writing... Oh and Football. Yay.

I think I had a case of blog burnout. For over six months, I've been unable to even so much as think about writing a blog post about sports. It used to be that all I wanted to talk about was sports, but after 365 days of all sports, I just couldn't. I needed to purge my mind. Plus, the fact that the Red Sox went from last to World Series champs back to last really took the wind out of my sails.

But then football season happened. I love football season. I love that every week is so crucial to a fan because there's only 17 of them in the regular season. And in the whole scheme of sports playoffs, football's is fleeting. NFL playoffs last less than a month and there are just 11 games so each one, for me, can't be missed. Even the teams I don't care about... which is most of them.

When the New England Patriots are in the mix, that's when it gets dicey. I have butterflies. I have anxiety. I have issues. You would think I was part of the team the way my insides turn to jelly. It's especially nerve wracking when they finish the regular season so weakly — barely beating the lowly Jets and then losing to the Bills in an unspectacular fashion. So basically, I'll be a mess come Saturday evening when the Ravens come to Foxboro!

But I digress... if I love football season so much, why couldn't I get back to writing about it? By the time I thought of it, it was too far into the season to risk jinxing the Patriots' amazing October run with Rah-Rah blog posts about how great they are and how Tom Brady isn't even close to retirement. Plus... I was still dealing with that whole burnout thing.

So it's a new year and new goals and resolutions and all that happy crap so back on the writing train I go. Plus, I'm convinced I'm getting stupider by the day by not writing. Especially after having the last 13 days off where I spent more time in my pajamas than out of them... watching endless hours of television and possibly drooling on myself a little bit.

Happy New Year to all... and I hope you'll visit Balls of All Sizes once in a while!

PS:  If the Patriots lose to the Ravens, I will completely blame this blog post. And myself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Brock Holt: A Breath of Fresh Air for Red Sox

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like watching the Red Sox this season is somewhat painful. They are definitely not that same bearded team we watched celebrate a World Series Championship last fall and frankly, it's just plain depressing. This group of guys can't seem to get out of their own way and it's hard to tell which team is going to show up day in and day out. They've got a whole Jekyll and Hyde thing going and it's not even remotely cute.

What Boston needs is a swift kick in the ass. I think that kick in the ass is called Brock Holt. Who? Honestly, I don't recall ever hearing his name before he was called up to the Red Sox earlier this season. In the 38 games with the Red Sox, Holt has 51 hits, 12 of those doubles, and a .329 batting average. Not bad for a 26-year-old who began his season in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Not only has he been producing at the plate, he's been a real trooper defensively. He has filled in at third base, first base, and most recently, the outfield. While he's not the greatest glove on the field, he's persistent and not afraid to throw his body around. And Jonny Gomes should be thankful for Holt's style of play because it totally bailed his ass out the other night.

Check out the best catch I've seen in a very long time...

Almost makes you want to hop back on that Red Sox train again, doesn't it? Maybe this acrobatic and somewhat impossible catch, coupled with the recent release of Grady Sizemore, are just the ingredients this team is looking for to help turn this season around. I have hope. It might be just a glimmer, but it's there.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest in Peace, Tony Gwynn... Mr. Padre.

Photo from HERE
Baseball lost a special person today. The greatest San Diego Padre to ever wear that hideous uniform, Anthony Keith "Tony" Gwynn, Sr., lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 54. Folks who knew him said he was also a pretty awesome guy which is nice to hear, especially with some of the douchebags in the game these days.

Having grown up a Red Sox fan, I never really got a chance to follow guys in the National League. But I knew he was special during the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park when he helped Ted Williams throw out the first pitch... making sure the old guy didn't fall over.

The Hall of Fame outfielder was a magician with the bat. In his 20 seasons, all with the Padres, he amassed some rather ridiculous numbers.

  • 3,141 hits (good for #18 all time)
  • 15 time All-Star
  • 7 Silver Slugger Awards
  • 5 Gold Gloves
  • 8 National League batting titles
  • 7 time National League hits leader
  • .338 lifetime batting average (good for #16 all time)

Gwynn also hit .394 in the strike shortened 1994 season which was the highest season average since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. had a couple of other pretty cool stats too:

  • Over his 20-year career, Gwynn's .338 lifetime batting average was the highest of any player whose career started after World War II—no one with 5,000 or more plate appearances has even gotten close. 
  • No hitter born after 1900 reached 3,000 hits in fewer games (2,284) or at-bats (8.874) than #19. 
  • No 3,000-hit man who was born after 1900 had a higher lifetime batting average than Gwynn.
  • No hitter who has played his entire career since the invention of the designated hitter has accumulated as many hits as Gwynn (3,141) without spending a large portion of his career in the American League. (I love this stat.)

For the last four years, Gwynn has been battling salivary gland cancer, most likely from using smokeless tobacco. He underwent multiple surgeries, but the cancer forced him to take a leave of absence from his head coaching job at San Diego State, his alma mater, where he had coached for 12 season.

Tony Gwynn never wanted your sympathy... so instead of feeling sad, let's celebrate the life and achievements of an amazing ballplayer and person. Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh Red Sox... Where has the Magic Gone?

I think it's safe to say that for a Red Sox fan, the 2013 season was just plain magical. It was a season where things just fell perfectly together — like you just knew at some point late last summer that this team was destined to win it all. Every game was fun. Every game was an adventure. And every game felt winnable.

Maybe it was that fateful event that occurred on April 15th that sparked this group of men to give their all for every inning of every game for the rest of that season. They did have that Boston Strong rally cry to live up to, after all. What kind of team would they have been if they couldn't boost the spirits of this city with win after dramatic win? They really had no choice but to excel. They were a team fueled by hometown spirit and pride.

It was just magical. I know that sounds corny, but for me, it's true. And I'm going to venture a guess that I'm not the only sappy fan out there that feels that way.

Was it the facial hair that carried that winning mojo? Or was it a particular player? Maybe it was David Ortiz's heartfelt speech on April 20th that sparked something that can never again be had. I have no idea what special force caused this ragtag group of guys to succeed when no one gave them a chance, but I do know this... that magic has left the effing building, my friends.

In April of 2013, the Red Sox were third in Major League Baseball in batting with a .271 team average. They had hit 26 home runs collectively, had an on-base percentage of .347 and slugged .446. In April of this season, their team batting average was .246 — good for 19th overall. Well that sucks. Orioles' left fielder, Nelson Cruz, has more home runs this season (21) than the Red Sox hit as a team in May (20). Seriously?

So needless to say, I'm annoyed. Sure there have been multiple injuries to key players like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. And the starting rotation has had some hiccups... like Clay Buchholz who went 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA last April... and this year, he was 1-2 with a 6.66 ERA. I'm not even going to tell you what the difference is year-to-year between opponents batting average because it will make you want to throw up.

What I do know about this team is that Stephen Drew is NOT the answer. He wasn't the answer in the off-season at $14 million a year, and he's sure as hell not the answer for $10 million after sitting out the first two months of the season. He hit a whopping .111 in the entire 2013 postseason, and is batting a big fat ZERO since he's returned to the lineup. (Ok, so it's only been a couple games but I don't care!)

Something needs to happen and it needs to happen tout de suite. If you don't know, that's French for RIGHT THE EFF NOW! This season is slowly slipping to the point of no return. SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!!