Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 244: Here's a Movie I Can't Wait to See!

Last Monday, the Boston Red Sox were in the spotlight yet again. Less than a month removed from their stunning World Series Championship win, the Sox were given the red-carpet treatment at the Wang Theater in Boston for the premiere of 2013 World Series movie. This film "brings Boston's latest baseball championship to life with thrilling images and poignant sound that captured the drama of a special season."

I know there wasn't much I missed throughout the postseason, but having the World Series win documented always makes me happy. I have a box set of DVDs from 2004 that covers both the ALCS and the World Series and I'm not going to lie, it's kinda fun to go back to watch that fateful game on October 17, 2004 that catapulted the Sox into postseason history. Not so much for the Yankees fan in the household, but lots of fun for me.

Maybe it's the specialness of this 2013 season that makes me need to have it chronicled—the memorable season put forth by a bunch of underdogs who where just trying to rebuild a team. Maybe it's because Boston suffered such a tragic attack early in the season and this win was for the city. Or maybe it's because the World Series was won at Fenway for the first time since 1918. Whatever the reason, this Championship will hold a special place in my heart.

The 2013 World Series movie, narrated by Ben Affleck, chronicles the season starting early in spring training and follows the team throughout the season in into the playoffs. We get to see interactions between players, what they went through after the Boston Marathon bombing, walk-off highlights and an in-depth look at the postseason. And best of all we get to see a group of players who enjoy each other on the field and off.

Looking for a Christmas gift idea for me? I think I might have an idea...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 243: What About Ridley's Fumble-itis?

New England Patriots' running back, Stevan Ridley, has a horrible disease. For the past few months he's been struggling to overcome a bad case of fumble-itis. This disease strikes many a young running back and it's often difficult to find a cure. Fumble-itis, while infecting just one, can have a very bad effect on the whole team. Those afflicted run the risk of becoming permanent bench warmers or worse.

Ridley is a promising young running back. In 2012 he rushed for over 1,200 yards, scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt. He fumbled four times last season. Overall, a pretty respectable season. The Patriots had high hopes for Ridley to have similar numbers this year—minus the fumbles of course. 

That's not the case. Though 10 games, Ridley has four fumbles and it's not looking good for him to come close to matching his numbers from last year. His miscue in the first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills got him benched. And then he had a pretty good stretch... but in the last three games, things have gone down hill. He lost fumbles against Pittsburgh, Carolina and Denver.

The fumble-itis has become so bad that former Patriots' running back Kevin Faulk actually reached out to Ridley with some words of advice
"Don’t think about not fumbling, think about, how can I hold onto the ball? This isn’t college, this is your job. You have to figure out what’s going on, because if you don’t, you’re going to be out of a job."
Hopefully that will help cure this dreadful ailment. If not, Bill Belichick will continue to bench him which does nothing to boost his confidence. On the one hand, you want him to get back out there, back on that proverbial horse. But on the other hand, if he can't hang onto the ball, it's more detrimental to the team to have him on the field.

Stevan Ridley has great potential. The 24-year-old moves quickly and agilely and could become a real threat if he can get this problem under control. Defenses can smell fumble-itis a mile away and if all it takes it a helmet or fist to the ball to make Ridley cough it up, they'll continue to do that until every ounce of confidence this kid may have had at one point is gone.

And one other thing (and yes, I'm looking at you, Stevan)... when you have a good rush, please refrain from waving to the crowd for more cheers. Karma hates that kind of shit and so do I, so please just stop. You don't get to celebrate anything unless you're in the end zone with the ball.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 242: Happy Thanksgiving, Sports Fans!

I would like to be able to say that the best part about Thanksgiving is the endless supply of football games... but then I'd be a liar. The best part about the fourth Thursday of every November? Spending time with my family and eating my face off.

My predictions for the Thanksgiving games — I'm going home teams all the way:

- Detroit over Green Bay

- Dallas over Oakland

- Baltimore over Pittsburgh (this was a toughie, but I feel good about my pick.)

Best wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving to all... and enjoy your food coma!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 241: Amazing Game-Winning College Basketball Shot

On this eve of Thanksgiving, I'm incredibly exhausted.... I've been cleaning literally all freaking day and I barely have the energy to chew my dinner. My brain has completely shut down and the probability of me actually coming up with a witty or intuitive post tonight is pretty low. Maybe I've been breathing in too many cleaning chemicals today or maybe I'm just lazy, but tonight you get to watch a video of a really amazing game-winning basketball shot.

Remember in school when there was a substitute teacher? Remember how often times that sub would push in the TV cart and cue up a movie? Well think of me as a sub and I'm offering up a (really super short) movie tonight instead of clever sports banter.

The scenario: Huntington University vs. Marian University. A game that had no meaning except to the two teams playing. With one second left on the clock, Marian sunk two free throws to take a one point lead. Huntington would need a miracle to win the game... with just one tick on the clock.

That was some shot... and some miracle!

Safe travels as you head to wherever it is that you plan to eat your weight in food on Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 240: Brady Gives Manning a Pat.

Sometimes you just need a giggle... sometimes when life is swirling around you like a category five cyclone and you're so busy you can barely remember your name, let alone where you parked your car at the Whole Foods. Sometimes you just have to say screw it... screw the piles of paperwork sitting on your desk or the enormous proposal you've barely started. Just screw it and look at funny shit on the internet.

When I'm feeling down or swirly or overwhelmed by life, I normally turn to The Oatmeal for my yucks. This guy is the biggest friggin hilarious genius the earth has ever produced. His cartoons are nothing short of brilliant. And hilarious. Read about the undead parrot, I guarantee you won't be able to stifle your giggles. He brightens my days.

But there's something else that is good for a few yucks. The ever popular sports meme does wonders for your stress level. (It was a long time before I had any idea what the hell a meme was, and I'm still not quite sure if I know for certain.) This one showed up on my Facebook timeline today and, well, it kinda set the tone for the week.

Yes... I know... I suck because I fell asleep and never saw Tom Brady and Patriots make their historical comeback. But, yeah... this.

Oh Peyton... I know it's hard to throw the ball with mittens on. Even harder when you're wearing a skirt.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 239: Biggest Comeback in Franchise History and Guessed Who Missed It?

I have a confession to make. I fell asleep just after halftime and missed the thrilling comeback victory the New England Patriots pulled off over the Denver Broncos. I am an epic failure of a football fan. I let the busy day get the best of me and by halftime, I was asleep on the couch, drooling on myself. Damn those Sunday night games! The last thing I said as I made my way up to bed was, "Watch, I'm sure the Pats will mount some amazing comeback and I'll miss the whole thing." Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

Basically, I suck. When I woke up this morning to texts like, "Are u still up?" and "OMFG!" I knew I was in trouble right away. I've honestly never felt so physically sick for missing a game until this one. Stupid me didn't even think to hit record on the DVR... 

So here's what I saw...

• Stevan Ridley coughs up the ball. Well there's something new and different. Denver runs fumble back for a touchdown. Crap.

• Tom Brady gets creamed and coughs up the ball. Denver recovers, eventually scores another touchdown. Crap CRAP.

• LaGarrette Blount coughs up the ball. What the hell? Is fumbling contagious? Denver recovers yet again and turns the Patriots' misfortune into three points. At least it wasn't a touchdown.

• Broncos score another touchdown for a 24-0 lead and I sink further into a sleeping position on the couch. 

• Oh wait, the Patriots have life—they take the opening second half kickoff down the field for a touchdown. They played like the Broncos were still in the locker room. Oooh, see what happens when you don't give the ball away?

And here's what I missed... clearly all the good stuff.

• Denver fumbles! Yay! Looks like they caught the fumblitis! And the Patriots convert the turnover into another touchdown. 24-14

• Denver fails to score on their next possession. Patriots get ball back and score another TD... this time highlighted by a 43-year pass, Brady to Edelman. 24-21... boo-yeah!

• Denver gets the ball back and Peyton Manning promptly thrown an interception. It takes the Patriots just three plays to score yet another touchdown! Patriots now lead 28-24. Exciting!! (Surely more exciting than the sheep I was counting.)

• Denver goes three and out and the Patriots march back down the field and score a field goal to extend their lead to 31-24.

• Uh oh... Denver ties it up on a touchdown. Boo-hissssssss.

• Overtime! And back and forth we go and now no one can seem to score. 

• With just over three minutes to play in OT, the Patriots are forced to punt. Wes Welker is back to receive but opts not to catch it. The ball hits one of his guys... live ball... Patriots recover!! Field goal is good. Game is over. Patriots are victorious!! 

What a game! (I imagine, of course.) I can't believe I missed all that excitement. Although it may be a good thing because I most certainly would have peed my pants!! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 238: Patriots Host Broncos and Old Friend, Wes Welker Tonight!

After a disappointing and controversial loss last Monday to the Carolina Panthers, Sunday night's game against the Denver Broncos looms pretty big for New England. For the entire season, this is the one game I've written off as a "hell no, they can't win" for the Patriots—especially after the Broncos burst out of the gate so strong and Peyton Manning looked virtually unstoppable. But now... my feelings have changed and I really think the Pats have a chance to take this game.

If you look at the AFC East standings, you'll see that the Patriots' lead over the the second place Jets and Dolphins isn't that sizable. If the Pats were to lose and either the Jets or 'Phins win this week, that lead gets just a little too close for comfort. So a win over the Broncos would be huge—huge for their hold on the division and huge for their confidence.

We also get our first glimpse of old friend Wes Welker in orange and blue. Welker is coming off an injury last week against the Chiefs where he left the game with a concussion. Most would have thought he was a definite no-go for this game but surprisingly he's been cleared by the medical staff and is confirmed to be playing Sunday night. I'm pretty sure a broken leg wouldn't keep Welker off the field against his former team.

As a side note, why is it that a hockey player is out weeks and sometimes months with a concussion but a football player comes back the next week? Seems fishy to me... I would think the chance for helmet-to-helmet collisions is much higher on the football field. This should make things interesting.

The Patriots do have some concerns within their secondary with four of the top five defensive backs listed ad questionable for this game. But Sunday night's weather could dictate the type of play and limit a high-flying passing attack with temps dropping into the 20s or lower and high winds expected. If both teams take to the ground, weaknesses in the secondary might not make much of a difference. Although the Patriots will need to step up their run defense since the Broncos are #4 in the AFC in rushing averaging over 90 yards a game.

On paper, it looks like the Patriots don't have a snowball's chance in hell to win this game. But honestly, especially this year, no game is a sure win. Maybe Bill Belichick should just plan to say something really mean to Wes Welker to throw him off his game. I mean, that is why he left New England, isn't it?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 237: Remembering Butt Fumble 2012

One year ago Friday something very special happened... for one, it was Thanksgiving and that's always a momentous day of incessant eating—by far one of my favorite days of the year. But it was also the day the famous Butt Fumble happened. (My apologies for being a day late...)

It was Thanksgiving night and the New England Patriots visited the New York Jets. There are few things more exciting for a Pats fan then to get a game on Turkey Day. It's even better when it's a night game and all the cooking and cleaning is finished and there's nothing left to do but lay on the couch, groaning from the vast amounts of foods consumed, and float in and out of consciousness while watching the game.

The Patriots buried the Jets that night, winning 49-19, highlighted by the second quarter where the Pats scored 35 points, 21 of which came on Jets' fumbles. It was a disastrous quarter for the Jets and despite owning the time of possession, holding onto the ball for 12 of that quarter's 15 minuets, they were outscored 35-3.

One of the Pats' touchdowns came on the legendary Butt Fumble play (yes, it even has its own Wikipedia page.) Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, took the snap and mistakenly turned left instead of right. There was no one to receive his handoff so he scrambled forward trying to salvage the play. As he tried to slide to protect himself from being lambasted, he ran face first right into the ass of his right guard. The buttocks collision dislodged the ball from Sanchez's grasp and knocked him to the ground. Patriots' defensive back Steve Gregory collected the fumble and ran it into the endzone.

But watching it is much funnier.

I'm not sure Mark Sanchez will ever live that play down.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 236: Buzz Kill Cubbies

It appears that the Chicago Cubs are all about having no fun. At least that's the feeling I got reading about a young fan who was criticized for cheering too much for the pathetic Cubbies. Eleven-year-old Natalie Adorno goes to quite a few games—her family has season tickets at Wrigley. And she's widely known throughout the park. The staff and other fans—even the club's owner—know her by name.

You see, Natalie likes to try and get the crowd going to help her cheer on her beloved Cubs. She is often seen leading surrounding sections in chants of "Let's Go Cubbies!" and in the late innings will sometimes vacate her seat in order to get the fans around her behind the team. Why wouldn't she? Doesn't every team love to hear the fans behind them cheering their fool heads off for the team they love? Isn't that why they call it home field advantage?

But not everyone is pleased with her exuberant behavior. Some fans have issues with all the cheering. Huh? With all the annoying, obnoxious, drunken shit that happens at the ballpark, these assholes are picking on a kid? Some irritated fans took Twitter to voice their frustrations saying, "Not all of us fans appreciate your constant yelling at the games. Please stop, it's annoying." Only a douche bag would attack a kid for their team spirit.

The whole situation even caused the Cubs organization to get involved after another season ticket holder actually filed a complaint. Technically Natalie has the right to cheer, but the Cubs say that by leaving her seat and performing her crowd-revving activities in the aisles, she's violating the ballpark's rules. Big deal, Nat... you can cheer just as loud from your seat. Screw those old, fun-less farts. Her dad is actually giving second thoughts to renewing his season tickets... don't really blame him for that.

Clearly this kid is a die-hard fan. (A girl after my own heart, really.) How can you not just smile and be happy that an organization who hasn't won a World Series since 1908 is still gaining new, young fans. Natalie tweeted a photo of a sign that notes: "It's not about the wins, it's about the memories." So true... especially for a Cubs fan.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 235: A-Rod is a Douche Bag. The End.

PED pariah and Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez stomped out of his own grievance hearing on Wednesday in New York like a spoiled three year old headed for a time out. He was in the midst of the hearings to try and get his 211-game suspension for alleged drug use overturned when it was ruled that commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify before Rodreguez's attorneys. He was not happy.

So A-Rod did what he does best—he threw a tantrum. He slammed his fist on the table, declared the proceedings freaking bullcrap or something a bit more vulgar that might not be allowed on this blog, and he walked out. He issued a statement through his spokesperson (actually I'm sure it was a statement written by his spokesperson too since I'm fairly certain that A-Rod doesn't even know what unprecedented even means.)
"I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails," the statement said. "I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players' association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."
What's a boy who's not getting his own way to do? Well, head on over the WFAN where Mike Francesa can kiss his ass, that's what! In fact, Francesa has his head so far up his ass, A-Rod needs a glass belly button so he can see where he's going. It's kinda gross actually. With so much evidence mounted against Rodriguez, for someone to so vehemently defend him is just really weird. Even his own team doesn't want him around anymore.
“Listen, they (MLB) accused you. They said they had mountains of evidence. They said they could prove you did worse than this,” Francesa preached. “You know how I feel. You’ve gotten railroaded... I don’t know if you’ve done steroids again or not, that’s your business. You’re stating here now that you’ve never done anything. You should be fighting this tooth and nail... I would’ve been outraged long before this.”
Gag, gag... vomit... gag. Really? REALLY? Alex Rodriguez is the biggest liar on the planet. But evidently Francesa has a giant man crush on the cheater so maybe someone should set up a marriage for these two douche bags.

It pains me that I share a birthday with this asshat.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 234: Sport Science Takes Closer Look at Bad Game-Ending Call

The more I hear and see and relive that horrible game-ending call that tagged the New England Patriots with their third loss of the season, the more annoyed I get. But my aggravation just intensified when I watched ESPN SportCenter's Sport Science segment which broke down the infamous play making Pats fans everywhere cry out in despair. Ok, maybe that was just me.
Running at 16 miles per hour into the end zone, Rob Gronkowski begins to decelerate nearly a full second before the ball arrives. Defender Luke Kuechly makes contact with Gronk a third of a second later, meaning contact happened 2/3 of a second before the ball was intercepted. 
Sport Science projects that untouched, Gronk would have been able to decelerate from 16 mph to 0 mph in roughly a half-second. That would have given the Patriots tight end time to use his 8-foot-3 reach to make a play on the ball. Of course, he still would have had safety Robert Lester, who ultimately intercepted the ball, to contend with.  
It’s highly improbable he would have been able to position himself to have a better shot at the ball than Lester, but the fact it might have even been possible makes the ruling that the pass was uncatchable -- which was the stated reason the pass interference flag was picked up -- a questionable one.
Or you could just watch the video. And if you're like me, you'll want to punch a hole through your computer. I'll go to my grave believing that any other team gets that pass interference call.

Tom Brady said even his mom thought it was interference. Tom Brady's mom is obviously a very smart woman.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 233: Patriots Last Second Loss to Carolina Stinks.

I have a feeling of deja vu... Controversial call? Patriots' loss? Kinda sounds like that overtime loss back in October to the Jets. And it also sounds like the whole world is against the New England Patriots. Might be just my allegiance to the Flying Elvis, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if the tables were turned, a pass interference call would have surely been made.

It sucks to lose, especially like this, but honestly, the Patriots probably shouldn't have been in this situation in the first place. The Panthers took a pretty quick 10-0 lead in the first half, and the Pats had a hard time getting on track, especially with that tough Cat's defense. Brady was sacked a couple of times to end drives and, well, things just looked a little dismal. They could muster just three points in the first half. 

But there was still life left in the Pats. They took the second half kick-off down the field for an eight play, game-tying touchdown and had fans everywhere sitting up a little straighter in their chairs. After trading a couple more touchdowns, and with the score knotted at 17, the Patriots drove down the field and had to settle for a field goal. I knew this would come back to haunt them. I even said, "They need a touchdown here." I just knew, with how Cam Newton was throwing the ball, that a field goal wouldn't be enough with over six minutes left in the game.

And I was right. Newton and the Panthers burned over five minutes off the clock and marched right down the field—the 13-play drive culminated in a 25-yard TD pass to Tedd Ginn for the go ahead score. Shit.... Shit shit shit. They left Tom Brady just about a minute to do something memorable. Normally, he comes through. He almost came through.

The crowd was thunderous as the Patriots started their drive—a drive that was kept alive by a 4th-and-10 completion to Gronkowski. Brady managed to pick through the defense, finding open receivers, and with all three timeouts available, he wasn't limited to the sidelines. The Patriots made it all the way down to the Carolina 18 yard line with just three ticks on the clock. This game would come down to the final play... but it was not to be for New England as Brady was picked off in the end zone, game over.

But wait... is that some yellow I see on the ground in the end zone? Wait... could there be life left in this game? Oh wait... nope, the referees picked it up, calling the ball uncatchable even though there was a defender with Rob Gronkowski in a freaking bear hug in the end zone. So I guess that's not pass interference? Well, at least when it happens to the Patriots. I'm not saying it was the best thrown ball in the world, but who's to say that Gronk couldn't have come back and made a play for that pass? 

Referees are stupid. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 232: Looks Like Tiger's Got Some Competition

Remember Tiger Woods in 1999? He had been on the PGA Tour just three years and at the ripe old age of 24, he had already won two (of his 14) majors—the Masters and the PGA Championship. He had yet to meet or marry Elin Nordegren and yet to meet that fateful fire hydrant in the wee hours of Black Friday in 2009. And yet to admit his infidelity with the skank patrol. Tiger was young and new and fresh and he brought to golf a whole new pack of fans.

In 1999, Tiger performed a now famous juggling act with a wedge and a golf ball for a Nike commercial. Remember? If not, here you go... it's just as impressive now, as it was 14 years ago.

Well, looks like Tiger has got some competition in the world of golf ball on golf club juggling. His niece Cheyenne Woods, a 23-year-old two-time All-American at Wake Forest, has recreated his famous routine in a video of her own. She's updated the music bed, but other than that change, it appears that golf ball on golf club juggling runs in the family. Cheyenne is Tiger's half brother's daughter and a budding golf professional.

If you missed it, check it out on Instagram here. She pretty much nails it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 231: Major Leauge Baseball Hands Out More Superlatives

Well, friends... MLB has announced the rest of their award winners this past week. Guess that means the 2013 baseball season has officially (and sadly) come to a close. It was a season full of surprises and celebrations for this Red Sox fan... one I didn't want to end!

Most Valuable Player

American League:  No surprise here. Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win back-to-back MVP awards since White Sox slugger Frank Thomas did it 1993-94. Cabrera won by a landslide, garnering 23 of the first-place votes compared to Mike Trout's five. Cabrera finished the season with a .348 batting average earning him his third straight batting title with the Tigers. He also lead the AL in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. [Stacy's preseason prediction: Mike Trout]

National League:  Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates took home the NL MVP honors. His win was also quite convincing—he received 28 first-place votes. McCutchen's offensive numbers were not as impressive as Cabrera's—.317 batting average, 21 home runs, 27 stolen bases, 84 RBIs and 97 runs scored. Instead, he was honored for the impact he had on a team that make the postseason for the first time in 20 years and improved their record by 15 games over the previous season. [Stacy's preseason prediction: Bryce Harper]

Rookie of the Year

American League:  Tampa Bay Rays' Wil Myers collected 23 of 30 first-place votes for the AL Rookie of the Year award after playing barely a half a season, but posting some impressive offensive numbers. The 22-year-old batted .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in only 88 games after being called up in mid-june. He added some much-needed power to the Rays' lineup, helping them make the postseason. I will forever remember Myers for his botched play in game one of the Division Series that was instrumental in the Red Sox big win.

National League:  Miami Marlins' pitcher Jose Fernandez upset the flamboyant Dodger, Yasiel Puig to take the NL ROY award with 26 of the 30 first-place votes. Fernandez was originally slated to start the season in Double-A, but a couple of injuries left holes in the Marlins' rotation giving the 20-year-old pitcher a chance to prove himself and making him the youngest pitcher on a major league team on opening day. He went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts and made the All-Star team.

Cy Young

American League:  Max Scherzer had a crazy good season so it was no surprise that the Detroit Tigers' righty won the AL Cy Young with 28 of the 30 first-place votes. The 29-year-old hurler went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. Scherzer is the second Tiger to win the Cy Young in the last three seasons—Justin Verlander won in 2011. [Stacy's preseason prediction: Felix Hernandez]

National League:  Clayton Kershaw took the prize in the National League nearly unanimously with 29 of the 30 first-place votes. This is the 25-year-old Dodger's second Cy Young in three years—he won in 2011 (and came in second in 2012.) Kershaw went 16-9 in 33 starts and led the NL with 232 strikeouts. His stingy 1.83 ERA is the lowest in the majors in 13 years. [Stacy's preseason prediction: Clayton Kershaw *dingdingding* we have a winner!]

Congratulations to all the winners... until next year baseball fans!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 230: Expanded Instant Replay for 2014? Yes, Please!

Major league baseball has taken a huge step forward in the process of getting expanded instant replay approved for 2014—the team owners have unanimously approved the funding. Other sports have had replay for over a decade... even the Little League World Series put replay in place in 2008... so needless to say, major league baseball is a little behind the times. There is one more step to the process: the players' and umpires' unions will still need to give their blessing in a meeting scheduled for January 16th. But really, how could they not?

I have mixed feeling about this move. On the one hand, I'll no longer sit on the couch, screaming at the television about a ball that was clearly fair but called foul... or a tag that was clearly made, but called safe. I do think a small piece of me will miss an irate manager storming from the dugout to argue calls. I'll miss a manager's face turning beat red with anger, and the spit that flies from his mouth as he peppers the umpire with a string of profanity. Will we never again see a manager kick dirt over home plate?

In the past, replay in the majors was limited to home runs—whether they were fair or cleared the fences. Now just about every decision will be up for review with the exception of balls and strikes, checked swings and some foul tips. So now tag plays, out/safe at first (or other bases) and fair/foul past the bags will all be included in what can be reviewed.

Similar to the NFL, the managers will have a certain number of challenges per game—in this case, it most likely will be two. If the challenge is upheld, it would not count against the manager's limit. If the manager is out of challenges, umpires will probably be allowed to request a review on their own. When a manager wants to use a challenge, he will let the umpire know, which in turn, will trigger a review in New York. The thinking is that the challenge will need to be made before the next pitch. And if a manager starts to argue the call, he loses his opportunity to challenge that call. The final details are still up in the air, but that's a approximately how it will all go down.

There's a feeling and worry that instant replay will somehow slow down the game and MLB is relying on managers to use their judgment and do their best to not cause delays. But really, often times those arguments between managers or players and umpires can last quite a while—at times, well into the next at bat. And then they end up coming back on the field, getting ejected and causing more delays. No... I think instant replay is going to be a real step forward for MLB.

No one is perfect—not even those self-righteous baseball umpires that, many times, refuse to admit they've made a mistake until the evidence is made public. I would think that replay would not make it appear that umpires can't do their jobs, but just the opposite. It shows good character that they want to get the calls right and aren't afraid to ask for help to ensure the game is played with no questions or protests.

Congratulations, MLB for bringing the sport I love into the 21st century!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 229: Bill Maher Disses World Series Parade. Oh No He Di'int!

I don't really know much about Bill Maher other than he's supposedly a stand-up comedian, a television host and a political commentator. I'm not familiar with his show or his views. However, I am sure of one thing: Bill Maher is a giant asshole.

Yes, I realize that Maher is famous for making off-color and politically incorrect comments that often times get people really pissed at him. But his recent comments regarding the Boston Red Sox World Series parade have solidified his role as leader of all douchebags world-wide. These comments have enraged the Boston community and beyond.

In case you didn't hear what he said, here it is:
"Congratulations, Red Sox. OK, so, the parade, you know, they go to the place where the marathon bombings took place and they put the World Series statue there and sing 'God Bless America' and sing 'Boston Strong.' It seems to me that the reaction to this horrific crime -- you know it was, again, a bad day. Three people died, that's terrible. More were maimed, that's horrible. But unfortunately that happens every day in a car accident and everything else. I mean, your city was not leveled by Godzilla."
Even his guest, Anthony Weiner, was appalled, commenting "What is wrong with you?" If you say something bad enough to offend Weiner, it must be pretty damn bad. But I guess when you're a colossal asshat, you don't give a shit who you offend. I'd like to see him leveled by Godzilla.

And seriously dickhead, if you don't know it's called a World Series trophy and not a statue, then you have no right to even talk about the Red Sox or their celebratory parade. Also, there's a huge difference between an accident and a vicious terrorist attack. Or maybe Maher is of the camp that thinks it was all a hoax... Regardless, I'd like to see him repeat this sentiment in the presence of the families that lost loved ones, and the individuals that lost limbs, and all those injured by that horrible attack. I'm pretty sure that group will be scarier than Godzilla.

So because I can never get enough of watching that touching finish line display of Boston Strong... here it is again. Something to get the bad taste of King Douchebag's repulsive remarks out of my mouth.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 228: Three Qualifying Offers, Three Refusals and Three Free Agents

Soon after the World Series dust had settled, the Red Sox made $14 million qualifying offers to three players: Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury. And soon after that, each player declined to accept said qualifying offer.

I'm definitely not surprised that Drew and Ellsbury turned down their offers. Everyone knows Ellsbury is going where the money takes him. And Drew never struck me as a real solid Boston guy. I was sort of surprised that Mike Napoli turned down his offer. As one of the bearded ring leaders this past season, he appeared to be happy with his role with the Sox. But then I remembered what the Red Sox did to him over the off-season. I remembered that he was offered three years for $39 million... but then they took that offer back. So I guess, based on that tidbit, I might have refused too.

So now, all three players are officially free agents and the Red Sox have some decisions to make. Napoli is a priority. Without him, there's a hole at first base and as far as free agent first basemen go, he's a pretty good pick. His season was relatively solid—.259/23/92, but many of those hits were big, timely hits that made a huge impact. Or maybe those are just the ones I remember. I want him back... if only to see what kind of birds nest of a beard he shows up with in spring training.

While Stephen Drew is a great shortstop, I'm ok with him not returning to the team. His play in the postseason was nothing short of masterful as he patrolled the left side of the infield, but his bat left quite a bit to be desired. ESPN reported earlier today that he will not return to Boston because there are a number of teams willing to make multiyear offers beyond anything the Red sox would do. He's a Scott Boras client... and we all know what that means. Plus, I'm sort of looking forward to seeing what young Xander Bogaerts can do at short.

And then there's Jacoby Ellsbury. He came up through the Red Sox system and has been a fixture at the top of the lineup for the past seven seasons. He has compiled some pretty impressive career stats—.297 batting average and he led the American League three times in stolen bases. Naturally, I'm going to miss him when he goes. And he will definitely be gone. Nothing would surprise me more than Ellsbury returning to Boston in 2014. He's more into the wealth than the winning...

It will be interesting to see how the free agent market shakes out. It always is... I don't like to see a team torn apart before the shine of the World Series Championship wears off.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 227: John Farrell was Robbed. Terry Francona Wins AL Manager of the Year.

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona beat out Red Sox skipper John Farrell for the AL Manager of the Year. Someone explain to me how this makes sense? Total crock of shit, in my opinion. My head is seriously about ready to explode right now. So the Indians sucked last year and then they were good this year. Doesn't that sound familiar? I'm pretty sure the Red Sox took that same road.

The voting took place just after the end of the regular season so none of the post season results were taken into consideration. But regardless, in my eyes, Farrell's team was more impressive over the 2013 season. He had to manage his way out of some really tight situations.

Terry Francona, in his first year at the helm of the Indians, finished the season 92-70 after finishing a dismal 68-94 in 2012. Francona and company secured a Wild Card berth. Well, John Farrell, in his first year as manager of the Red Sox, finished the season 97-65 (tied for the best record in the majors) after the Sox managed just 69 wins the previous season. The Farrell-led Sox won the AL East. Plus, last I checked, 97 beats 92.

So Francona led Cleveland to their first winning season since 2007. Big deal. Farrell's season was much more admirable in my eyes. Worst to first with a group of guys who were signed primarily for their great attitudes and positive clubhouse presence? A pitching staff that clearly had its troubles in the past couple of seasons? Not knowing if players returning from serious injuries would amount to anything? And let's not forget the injuries during the season where he never missed a beat with replacing those players.

The Red Sox offensive numbers were staggering compared to what they were just a year prior. They finished 1st in runs scored (8th in 2012), 1st in doubles, 1st in on base percentage (22nd), 1st in slugging (12th), 1st in OPS (11th), 1st in total bases (9th), 1st in extra base hits (5th), 1st in total pitches seen (6th), 2nd in batting average (10th) and 2nd in hits (10th). And the pitching staff's earned runs allowed decreased from 754 to 613.

I just don't get it... Francona got 16 votes to Farrell's 12. Stupid. There were writers that actually didn't even have Farrell on their list. Some voters in this process take points off for a big payroll—feeling that if a manager can do good work with not much of a payroll, they deserve more recognition for their successes. Clearly these people are morons.

I'm filing my own personal protest. John Farrell was robbed!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 226: Hazing is Stupid.

Over the past week, I haven't been able to turn on sports radio without hearing about Richie Incognito, the bully. Or Jonathan Martin, the bullied. Or the Dolphins and their dysfunctional organization and lack of locker room control. Or the loads of hazing that goes on in football and other sports and organizations.

Despite its prevalence, hazing is a real shitty thing to do to a teammate. The dictionary defines "team" as "a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport" or "two or more people working together." How does beating someone up or insulting and threatening their family build positive relationships? Isn't it necessary to have trust and respect for your teammates in order to form a successful and cohesive unit? Where some think that hazing constructs a stronger bond, I beg to differ. Hazing is more likely to make those victims feel threatened and nervous. So how does that person perform to their abilities if the anxiety of what might happen to them if they fail is haunting them?

Colleges are constantly in a battle with fraternities, sororities and sports teams and clubs over hazing its members, and many are forced to face the reality that sometimes these actions end in serious injury, or in some cases, death. According to a University of Maine study, more than half of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing. This would explain why we hear about it more often than we should.

It's nearly impossible to believe that coaches are not aware of what these students are doing. The UMaine study says hazing has a public aspect, with 25 percent of coaches or organization advisors aware of a group’s hazing behaviors; 25 percent of the behaviors occurring on campus in a public space; in 25 percent of hazing experiences, alumni were present; and students talk with peers or family (26 percent) about their hazing experiences.

As of this week, the NFL has not yet sent any memos regarding the banning of hazing or guidelines for handling incidents. In Bill Belichick's weekly visit with WEEI's Salk and Holley, he weighed in on his feelings on hazing. Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever heard Belichick talk this in depth about any subject... ever. To read the whole conversation, click here. The whole discussion was interesting coming from the view of a very successful coach, but this comment really struck me as a really great synopsis of the whole situation.
"We’re all grown men. We’re all adults. It’s really about relationships, and if the relationship is not working, then somehow it’s up to the people involved in that relationship to either fix it or resolve it or terminate it, whatever it happens to be."
No one should have to live under the fear of hazing. Sure, sometimes there's a rite of passage to becoming part of a team. That rite should not involve violence, extortion or abusive or threatening words.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 225: Big Papi on MTV? What?

Honestly, in my approximately 40 years of loving the Red Sox, I'm not sure there has been a player as popular as David Ortiz. Sure, there have been guys over the years that were loved for their successes and gritty play and their big smiles—and who didn't think Pedro Martinez was destined for Boston politics at one time or another. But Big Papi has to be tops in the favorites category, so it's about time he puts that fame to use for some real good. (*insert sarcasm font*)

Because a third World Series title, winning the World Series MVP AND finishing third in the Boston mayoral race aren't enough... David Ortiz is going to become a producer of his own MTV show. I'm not exactly sure when I last watched a program on MTV, mainly because I'm in my 40's and frankly still a little miffed that a channel called Music Television doesn't play any friggin' music anymore. But if there's a show with Ortiz's name attached, you bet your ass I'm going to watch it!

According to Yahoo:
MTV Networks and Major League Baseball said Monday they are collaborating on a weekly 30-episode series that melds pop culture and baseball. Ortiz and Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen are both executive producers of the series, set to begin next spring around the start of the new season.
The program has yet to be titled and will most likely air on MTV2. It will be shot at the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan where Big Papi has been a fixture over the years, and with his love for music, MTV felt it would be the perfect marriage. One of the main roles for Ortiz and McCutchen will be encouraging other players to get involved. I'm guessing that if Papi is asking other players to do something for the good of baseball and growing its fan base, chances are most of those players are not going to say no.

So maybe the MLB Fan Cave is someplace I should look into spending the 2014 baseball season? Me and Big Papi kicking back, having a few beers... I can't even imagine spending an entire 162-game season concentrating only on baseball. Sounds like a dream job to me. Do you get paid this this gig? Sign me up!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 224: Oh How I Despise the Bye Week!

So the Patriots aren't playing this weekend. That sucks. They have a bye week and because of that, I'm left to watch teams I don't really care about. I do care about the outcomes of all those other games since those determine my standings in the pool, but really, I only care about watching the Patriots. I understand that these guys need a break... a little mid-season R and R, but dudes... this sucks. They better come back faster and stronger and more motivated than ever!

Bye weeks are especially painful when they come later in the season... you know, when baseball has ended and there's nothing else to keep you occupied on a Sunday afternoon. With all this free time on my hands I'm forced to clean. Or participate in other constructive activities. This weekend it was woodworking. Outside in the cold. For hours. Patriots football would've been way more fun.

And if the bye week isn't bad enough, the Patriots don't play again until a week from Monday. So now, not only do I have to wait that much longer to see them play, but chances are, I won't even make it to halftime because those damn Monday night games are on just too late! Two Sundays in a row with no Patriots? Oh the injustice!

Anywho... the Patriots go into their bye week with an impressive 7-2 record. I say impressive because this team could've easily sucked early on with pretty much no one for Tom Brady to throw the ball to. He had a bunch of rookies that had difficulty running the correct routes. Rookies that started to make Brady look bad. And at times Brady made Brady look bad. In light of all the personnel changes and injuries, this team has done pretty well.

The Pats enter their bye week at a point where they appeared to be hitting their stride after pounding the Pittsburgh Steelers 55-31 and finally getting all those key cylinders pumping at the same time. Tom Brady looked so much better—23-for-33 for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Yes, please. I'll take that performance every week. I really hope this time off doesn't kill this recent chemistry.

The other reason I'm hating this bye week? I can't figure out what hallucinogenic drug I was taking when I picked the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers to beat the Eagles. Not a smart move...Grrrrrrrrr

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 223: High School Girls Soccer is Rough Business

I never played soccer at a competitive level. As a kid, sure, I kicked that black and white ball around... tried to see how many consecutive bounces on my knee I could do. (The answer: not many.) But my high school never got a girls soccer team until I was a junior. And by that time, I had decided that sports that included balls flying at my face and girls trying to slide tackle me was not my cup of tea. Plus, there's just way too much running. I was more into those non-contact sports like track (sprinter) and softball (really bad second baseman).

But Saturday morning was the Class A girls soccer state championship game between the undeafeted Windham Eagles and the Bangor Rams. A friend of mine has a kid on the Windham naturally, I wanted to show my support (despite my worries about being a jinx.) I'm glad I went. This game was a real nail biter throughout the first 40 minute half. Windham peppered the Bangor goalie with shots—some directly at her, and some that found the crossbar or the football goalpost just behind the goal. Parents in the stands murmured frustrations.

It was obvious from the get-go, Windham was the dominant force in this match-up. I'm not sure Bangor knew what to expect—or if they did, they didn't take the threat seriously. I'm surprised the Windham goal keeper didn't fall asleep with virtually all the action taking place in front of the Bangor net. And I'm positive that the Rams felt lucky to get out of that first half with the score tied at zero. Windham, most likely, felt frustrated. I know the fans sure did.

The second half opened with a quick goal by Windham's Ciera Berthiaume  just 51 seconds into the second half to get the scoring started. The Eagles never looked back and the Rams just couldn't pull their shit together to make a run. Windham, who outshot a sluggish looking Bangor team by what felt like a million to one, ended up winning 3-0 to win their first state soccer title since 1994.

Watching this game made me realize something about soccer: this is a rough game. I admire these girls for their tenacity and resilience—they never seem to give up on the ball no matter where it is and they all take a ball to the face like it's no big deal. There were about two dozen plays in this game that would've forced me into the fetal position. But these girls just get up and chase down the play like they just got hit with a Nerf ball. I saw one girl get hit in the face with a ball—a play that most certainly would've sent me to the emergency room.

Congratulations to the Windham Eagles on their Gold Ball... it was a really fun way to spend a sunny but crisp Saturday morning! (For a complete recap of the game, click on over to the Bangor Daily News.)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 222: Lots of Accolades for the 2013 Red Sox

The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox have some more awards headed their way and rightfully so. It would've been odd if no one on this team won any type of individual honors because these guys were just awesome this past season. So in addition to the big shiny World Series trophy and David Ortiz's flashy MVP award, here are some others:

Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino each won Gold Gloves. But I already wrote about that here.

David Ortiz won a Silver Slugger Award. This is the sixth time Big Papi has collected this honor. The Silver Slugger is an offensive award that goes to the best player at each position and Ortiz took home the prize for designated hitter. He hit .309 with 30 home runs and 109 RBIs during the remarkable 2013 season. And that doesn't even include his postseason numbers. His stats surprised many after an achilles injury kept him sidelined for the first couple weeks of the season. No one knew just what Papi would be capable of once he returned to the lineup. Needless to say, I think both the organization and fans were pleased with his performance!

Dustin Pedroia gained recognition for his outstanding defense on Thursday as he was named American League's Defensive Player of the Year by Wilson. This coming just a week after he collected his third Gold Glove. Pedroia had his best year yet in the field with a .993 fielding percentage in 159 games. His power numbers were down at the plate, but he still hit .301 for the season—and all this with a bum thumb which he'll be having surgery on next week to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Just proves how nails tough this little guy is!!

David Ortiz finishes third in Boston's mayoral race. No really, he did. Reports have Ortiz receiving enough write-in votes to place him in third place. He was quite far behind both the winner and runner up, but at this point in his career with the Red Sox, and his insane play in the World Series, it's no wonder the people of Boston would pick him to lead them. It makes sense... wasn't it Ortiz that proclaimed: "This is our f#%king city!"

John Farrell is a finalist for AL Manager of the Year, but that award has not been given out yet. If he doesn't win, I'll be shocked! He almost has to win after what he did with this bunch of guys. Plus, Sporting News already named him their Manager of the Year.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 221: Ever Wonder What Bill Belichick Says on the Sidelines?

With everything that is said about New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick in the media, I would imagine him to be a monster on the sidelines. I imagine him berating players for the littlest of mistakes. I imagine him with a torture room hidden behind a bookcase in his office reserved for the biggest screw ups. Truthfully, this man scares me.

I'm always floored by how he treats the media in press conferences and interviews. But then again, some of those questions are really stupid and I don't blame him for his two-word answers. And do these people not learn? Why would you ask him about the status of a player that has been out for a few weeks when you know he won't give you a straight answer? Honestly, they deserve the short, glib answers. But he still scares me.

So it's always nice to hear him in his natural environment, pacing the sidelines with his headset and hoodie, doing what he does best: coaching. Maybe Belichick doesn't enjoy his time with the media—who can blame him. That's not his passion. His passion is coaching. His passion is winning.

After seeing him recently miked up for the Pittsburgh game last weekend, you realize he's not so scary after all. You see that he's happiest when he's on the sideline and his team is ahead on the scoreboard. He's happiest when his defense is keeping that pesky opposing quarterback in the pocket. Or sacking his ass for a big loss. He's happiest when the offense is pumping on all cylinders and making plays and scoring touchdowns. posted this video that you just have to watch. The best part is the whole video happens at the beginning when he's discussing the stature of some of the Red Sox players... I have a whole new love for Bill Belichick... he doesn't scare me at all anymore.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 220: More Talk Shows...Gomes Says, "Everyone in Boston Deserves a Ring!"

If there's one talk show host I just can't stomach, it's Conan O'Brien. I'm not sure what it is about that guy, but he just makes me want to throw things at the television. But when I heard Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino visited Conan, I knew I had to bite the bullet and watch. Conan was annoying as usual... but it was Gomes that stole the show.

Once again, Jonny was sporting his brand new World Series LL Bean boots and he even took one off so the camera could get a better view. Seriously, these boots are one of my most favorite thing that came from this World Series win... and I just love that Jonny can't seem to stop wearing his.

They talked about the usual: beard tugging, team chemistry, Boston Strong, parades and duck boats. They talked about how special the season was to them after the Boston Marathon tragedy... and what it meant to put the World Series trophy at the finish line. They talked about what it was like to play for the city in a time when people were looking for something positive after a brutal act of terrorism.

Even if you can't stand Conan, this interview is totally worth the pain. Gomes is very entertaining and such a natural in front of the camera. Victorino is a little awkward, but so genuine and maybe just a little nervous to be on a talk show. But in the end, they come across like a couple of regular guys... a couple of regular guys that just won the World freaking Series!!


Be sure to click on the link at the end of the video to see parts two and three... I promise it's worth it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 219: Big Papi on the Talk Show Circuit

Less than a week ago, the Red Sox won the World freaking Series. Less than a week ago, David Ortiz emerged as the hero of that World freaking Series with a staggering .688 batting average to secure the MVP Award. Perfect for the one guy who has been in Boston for the last three titles.

Since that jubilant night, Ortiz has been a busy guy. First, there was the celebratory parade—because who doesn't love a parade? Especially when you get to ride on the Dropkick Murphy's flatbed. And then the Gillette beard shaving event that raised $100,000 for the One Fund with Shane Victorino... not all of the facial came off, but a good portion.

On Monday night, a very dapper looking Big Papi swung by Late Night with David Letterman for some laughs. Papi's got a great laugh! Letterman brought up the chicken and beer scandal of 2011 which got some laughs from the MVP, and of course the beards. And Ortiz opened up about the impromptu game four pep talk where he told his teammates, "You don't come to the World Series every day..."


On Tuesday morning, Ortiz made another stop, this time to visit Live with Kelly and Michael. I'm not sure what the hell happened to all the videos of his appearance I saw on YouTube earlier today, but they've all vanished. Really, Kelly and Michael? Some of us work during the day—how the hell do you expect to increase your fan base if you don't provide some clips? Harumph! Well, the Boston Herald has a recap. And Big Papi, once again, looked pretty spiffy!

All I can think every time I see Big Papi and his great big toothy smile is... I bet he gives the best hugs!

PS: Did anyone get a load of that watch? Fancy schmancy!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 218: Bullying: It's Not Just for Kids Anymore

When I look back at the World Series Champion Red Sox team, I see a team. I see a group of guys that enjoyed not only playing on the field with each other, but also hanging out off the field. From what I hear, there wasn't a bad apple in the bunch. It was a breath of fresh air after some of the whiny bitches that plagued the clubhouses of past years. So naturally, I figured every professional sports team was all Kumbaya and just nice to each other.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Just this morning I heard a story about a Miami Dolphin tackle, Jonathan Martin. He's a 23-year-old, second year, 304 pound offensive tackle, and he's currently on a leave of absence from football. He's not injured... instead, Martin has been the victim of bullying by a few of his teammates. Huh? Bullying your own teammate? Sounds more asshole-ish than team-ish to me.

According to, NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that Martin shared texts and voicemails with his parents this past weekend that he received from one particular teammate. They then turned them over on Sunday to the Dolphins and the league. The evidence implicates guard Richie Incognito, as well as center Mike Pouncey. (Pouncey was recently served a grand jury subpoena relating to the Aaron Hernandez case so clearly he's just a trouble magnet.) Incognito left a voicemail for Martin that used a racial slur and threatened violence. Both the NFL and the Dolphins have heard that message and Incognito was promptly suspended indefinitely pending an investigation.

The disturbing voicemail went a little something like this—I think we can all easily fill in those (expletive) blanks:
"Hey, wassup, you half (expletive) piece of (expletive)," according to a transcript obtained by Breer of an Incognito voice mail to Martin. "I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I'll (expletive) in your (expletive) mouth. I'm gonna slap your (expletive) mouth, I'm gonna slap your real mother across the face (laughter). (Expletive) you, you're still a rookie. I'll kill you."
If that isn't bad enough, there are also reports from the Miami Herald that Incognito threatened and pressured Martin into paying $15,000 for a him and a few teammates to party in Las Vegas. Sadly, it's the part of the Dolphins' locker room "culture" to make rookies and young players to pay for things for the veterans. It's one thing to engage in some light hazing... make the rookies dress up like girls on a road trip or something equally as silly, but forcing players that might not be making the big bucks, to pay for this crap sounds just ridiculous. And for the coaching staff to allow this to happen makes them just as much of the problem.

Here's what I have to say to Richie Incognito... I'm sorry that your penis must be so small that tormenting the younger players is the only way you can feel like a man. Maybe if you stopped acting like a 10-year-old, you're penis would too.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 217: There are the Patriots I Know and Love

So it may have taken nine weeks, but the New England Patriots that we know and love finally showed up to play on Sunday. And play and play and play. They did something to the Pittsburgh Steelers that's never been done before: they scored 55 points—the most ever scored against the black and gold.

The game was close after three quarters and the Patriots held a slim 27-24 lead as the fourth quarter began. But the Pats exploded for 28 points to the Steelers seven in the fourth to put the game out of reach, winning 55-31. It was a fun game to watch. And it was fun to watch some of these guys break out with big numbers. And it's especially fun to have Rob Gronkowski back on the field.

There has been speculation since last week's game against Miami that Tom Brady was battling some sort of hand injury. If he is, that makes today's performance that much more impressive. Brady was 23-for-33 for 432 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was Brady's 3rd career 400-yard game and now with a career total of 47,062 passing yards, his passes Fran Tarkenton for 7th in NFL history. It was also his 37th career game with 3+ TD passes and no interceptions, passing Brett Favre for second most all-time and trailing only Peyton Manning (41). And it was Brady's 15th career game with 4+ TD passes and no interceptions—most all-time. [All stats from]

The Patriots collected 610 net total yards against the Steelers—413 passing and 197 rushing. It was a well-balanced, well-played game where Stevan Ridley gained 115 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns, his first +100 yard game of this season. And Gronk showed why he was missed so much catching nine balls for 143 yards and one touchdown.

Aaron Dobson, the 22-year-old rookie was rather impressive today also. He caught five passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TDs came on a magnificent 81-yard TD pass from Brady in the fourth quarter. Danny Amendola also had a touchdown and hauled in four passes for 122 yards—his longest was 57 yards.

Even though the Steelers haven't been very good this season, there's no doubt in my mind that, given the way the Pats have played at times over the first eight games, this game could've been ugly... and not in a way that benefited New England. But it didn't and Tom Brady and the rest of the team really stepped up and took the bull by the horns. If I had one complaint it would be the number of points they gave up those pesky Steelers.

Next Sunday is a bye week for the Patriots and I'm sure this banged up team is happy for the break. Although I'm not happy I won't get to watch them. Next up is a Monday Night Football matchup @Carolina on the 18th.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 216: I Love a Parade: Red Sox Rolling Rally

Saying this 2013 Boston Red Sox season has been an emotional one would be an understatement. With the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings happening just two weeks into the season, the Sox have rode the emotional "Boston Strong" battle cry throughout the regular season and postseason. The Red Sox played each game with the 617 jersey in their dugout as a reminder of what they were working towards... to put a smile on the faces of Bostonians and New Englanders everywhere by winning it all.

Just days into spring training, Jonny Gomes had no doubt that he would be a World Series Champion as a member of the Red Sox. Ryan Dempster remembers a conversation he had with Jonny early in the preseason. Dempster asked Gomes how he was doing. He replied, "Hey, we're one day closer to the parade."

Well, Jonny... you got your parade.

This gorgeous fall morning, millions crowded the streets of Boston as the Red Sox boarded the now famous duck boat (some bearded) convoy and celebrated their World Series victory with their fans. Unfortunately, I'm too lazy and never made it down to Beantown for the festivities, but I did watch the NESN coverage which included a completely awesome poem by the Red Sox PA announcer, Dick Flavin. In case you missed it, click here! It was pretty friggin' amazing.

As the motorcade of duck boats approached the Boston Marathon finish line, they came to a stop. Jonny Gomes (clad in his brand new, custom-made LL Bean World Series Champs boots) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia got off the boats and set the World Series trophy on the finish line with the 617 Boston Strong jersey. It was an emotional scene for all involved, which included a group picture with some of those affected by the bombing, and also a tear-jerking rendition of God Bless America. This scene at the finish line made me cry... (surprise, surprise!)

Did you see Jonny's boots? Pretty awesome, eh?

Other than the tears at the finish line, I basically sat on my couch and smiled like a damn fool watching this parade. It was a much deserved end to an amazing season for a bunch of extraordinary baseball players. Pedey said it best...
"We played for a lot more this year, obviously," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "It's important the way the Red Sox play the game, but this year we were playing for other things, and it was pretty special the way we ended it. Hopefully we made a lot of people happy."
Phenomenal season... incredible team... World Series Champs... and lots of really happy fans. How many days until pitchers and catchers report? I'm having withdrawals already!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 215: What Comes Next for the Red Sox?

Before the official start to the Red Sox off-season begins, they have one more World Series celebration on the docket—this time celebrating with the city of Boston in the much loved Duck Boat Rolling Rally. If you find yourself in Boston Saturday morning around 10am, find a spot on Boylston, Tremont or along the Charles to try for a glimpse of the new World Series champions. It's supposed to be a beautiful November day... I'm sorry I'll miss it.

After the parade, the players' season might end, but the front office presses on with making sure Boston fields a team in 2014 that rivals these bearded champions. The off-season will be busy dealing with a number of would-be free agents.

The first order of business: Jon Lester. The Sox have exercised their $13 million option on the lefty, keeping him with the team through the 2014 season. Lester was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts and in the playoffs, he was even better going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA and 29 strikeouts in five starts. That's one they can cross off the list.

Jacoby Ellsbury is also a concern. He hits the free agent market coming off a season where he batted .298 and led the team with 52 stolen bases. The problem with Ellsbury is that mouth-breathing agent of his. Scott Boras is not a friend to the Red Sox. After the high of winning a World Series title, you might hope that Ellbury would like the winning more than a long-term, big-money contract. I'm going to guess Boras won't let that happen...

If Ellsbury doesn't get paid the big bucks, neither does Bor-ass. It's too bad, really. I mean Ells has had his ups and downs over his time in Boston—some might even question his physical toughness, but he's a speedy center fielder who can cover a lot of ground and shred pitchers' and catchers' nerves while on base. If he does go, will the Sox place their stock in Jackie Bradley, Jr. as a replacement in center? In his limited time in Boston this season, he really didn't make much of a splash.

In addition to Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli are all free agents and the Red Sox have until 5pm on Monday to make $14 million qualifying offers to all three. If the Sox do so, the players then have one week to accept the offer or decline and sign with another team. The qualifying offer isn't required, and the Sox can still make deals with those free agents.

If the team opts not to put forth the qualifying offers, they could be on the hunt for another catcher, a first baseman and possibly another infielder. If Drew doesn't return, there's always Xander Bogaerts waiting patiently in the wings to talk over at short. He more than proved himself and his ability to perform on the big stage in the postseason.

We'll see how it goes... the front office won't get much of a break heading into the holidays. This season's success will be a hard act to follow.