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Preview: Sedition in Red Sox Nation

Sedition in Red Sox Nation

The blog with an honest look at the Boston Red Sox, their fans in Red Sox Nation, and the Boston Sports Scene

Updated: 2016-05-19T19:56:13.922-07:00




Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.Ernest Lawrence Thayer used those words to conclude his famous opus, Casey at the Bat, which was published in the Examiner in 1888. I use them tonight because there is no joy in doucheville, with Varitek at the bat representing the tying run in the ninth inning. Do I even need mention that he struck out rather lamely on a pitch 2 and 1/2 feet out of the strike zone to conclude the threat?We've come a long way, indeed, since the days when Varitek was the apple of Red Sox Nation's collective eye having stood so bravely against A Rod when he was armored in catching equipment (complete with mask) and A Rod wasn't. Now he is mired in a slump which is so catastrophic that he finally looks as ridiculous on the field as he does off it.On the plus side, at least Tek is working ever so hard, even on his precious days off, to lift himself out of this slump by his proverbial bootstraps. Of course, to bowdlerize the Sean Connery character from The Rock, losers always whine about trying their best; winners go home and experience coitus with the prom queen. Rest assured, Red Sox Nation, that, with Tek under the watchful tutelage of Dave Madagan, this slump is sure to end soon enough.Speaking of Madagan, I hope he considers the example of his predecessor closely. After all, former Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson was part of that nightmarish turnaround in 2004. Jackson, more than any other outside influence, was largely credited with the adjustments that turned David Ortiz from a guy with a lot of potential into the Papi we all know and love (but me, apparently). And it was Jackson who was one of those purged from the organization after 2006 and the epic collapse. Maybe Madagan should have rented...Leaving that aside for the moment, I think it's time we got to the bottom of a serious injustice. According to the build-up to this series, this was supposed to be about bad blood between the teams. Jonathan Papelbon, among others on this pitching staff, vowed retribution for the Devil Rays not disbanding their organization after a pitcher hit Coco Crisp in Fenway without the expressed written consent of the Red Sox. Why is Tampa stubbornly insisting on playing baseball and not simply forfeiting each game?Perhaps someone in the Red Sox PR office was asleep at the switch. Maybe the Rays didn't get the memo that they were supposed to be pushed around and laughed out of their own stadium in this series. Instead, they've won two games. There haven't been any brawls. How dare they. And to top it off, they continue to help Varitek make a fool of himself.And as for Papelbon, it's hard to take revenge on an opposing team when you aren't called upon to pitch. Nevertheless, it might be possible that he has already taken revenge. I think we all presume too much when we think Papelbon, with his tragically limited intellectual capacity, knows what revenge is, much less how a man goes about taking same.But again, the real meathead in this is Francona. I can see that pinch hitting Varitek this evening was a desperate effort to shock his light-hitting catcher into some small measure of offensive production. And Varitek was, apparently, going to come into the game with Wake leaving. But surely there must have been a better option available, as in some bench player who might actually get a hit once in a blue moon? Or maybe not.Speaking of meatheads, I forget how long it's been since I ripped the CHB. Since he'd spent so much time covering the Celtics (why, I don't know) and I spent so much time ignoring the Celtics, there just didn't seem to be a point. But know that he's back to covering the Sox and coming at Manny with guns blazing, it's time to revist everybody's favorite Boston newspaperman with a room temperature IQ (sorry, Bob Ryan, but you need to do some work to get to room temperature status).It never gets easy t[...]



Tonight looked ever so close to becoming a disaster. The Red Sox managed to mount a disconcerting ninth inning rally, closing a 5-2 deficit to 5-4 and having two runners in scoring position with 1 out in the ninth. It took all of the hidden talents of Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo to kill said rally before it could become a catastrophe.It got me thinking, though, or more precisely, reminiscing about an event that occurred in Tropicana Field about two years ago now. Tonight, Brandon Moss hit what looked like it was going to be a routine fly ball, albeit one probably deep enough for Mike Lowell to tag and score from 3rd. But the strange configuration of Tropicana Field intervened. The ball hit the catwalk and landed in fair territory. Moss got a double, Lowell scored and Youkilis advanced to third on the play.Two years ago, during a three game sweep of the Red Sox at the Trop, Kevin Youkilis hit a ball off the catwalk in left. There, the Red Sox were not quite so fortunate. Carl Crawford tracked the ball off the catwalk and caught it before it could hit the ground. Because of the ground rules, Youkilis was called out, causing him to throw a fit. Terry Francona at the time referred to it as "putt-putt golf stuff."I remember this because I blogged about it at the time, back in the day when Sedition in Red Sox Nation used to blog about baseball from time to time. I ripped Youke and Francona for that at the time. I ripped them because it's beat to whine about something like that when it hurts your team but consider it one of the amusing little novelties of the game when it boosts your team.Perhaps it is unfair of me to rip Varitek as a rally killer when he did manage to drive in a run with a sac fly in the ninth. That said, I have no real interest in being fair to Varitek, noted archdouche that he is. And had he gotten one of his base hits, which occur about as frequently as papal conclaves these days, he probably would have managed to tie the game. Of course, in order to do that, he would have to stop sucking and/or being a giant douche. And I'm not sure I'm believing in miracles this week.Before I move on, I do need to rip into the Remdawg and his partner. After Troy Percival came up lame and had to leave the game, they were all excited at Francona's brilliance. Because Terry hadn't announced a pinch hitter to take Lugo's spot in the order, he didn't have to remove that offensive Juggernaut when JP Howell came in to finish the ninth. True, Lugo is a righty and Howell is a lefty, so conventional wisdom says that match up favors Lugo.However, conventional wisdom would also tell you that Lugo sucks. Better to have any lefty up there than a guy who is a weak hitter to start with and is 0-3 (with one RBI, to be fair) in his career against Howell. I don't know why I'm complaining, after all Francona played the percentages right into a loss which put the team 1 and 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East. Of course there is the possibility that MLB might be looking to overturn the result of the game and award the win to the Red Sox. After all, Papelbon was warming in the pen when the game ended in case the Red Sox managed to take the lead in the top of the ninth. And we all know that Papelbon is the greatest closer of all time, and would have shut the door on the Rays. So by the transitive property, even though the failed to score the amount of runs necessary to win the game outright, the Sox still won, at least by Red Sox fan logic. [...]



Yeah, I haven't updated in over a week. So I am a bad blogger and a catastrophic failure as a human being. I have come to accept that about myself, which puts me on the path to enlightenment. The next step is to care that I am a bad person, and after that comes the actual process of doing something about my flaws. Of course now that I've done all that heavy-duty self-awareness type stuff, I might have to slow down and rest, lest I have too little energy to continue on the path to enlightenment as I get older.So the Celtics won it all. Big effing deal. It's nice, I suppose, for the 8 people who stuck with the team through all the lean years. And it must be a great time to be an orthopedic surgeon or an acupuncturist in New England these days. God knows that 99.999999999% of those who defined themselves as Celtic fans as of this winter must have hurt themselves jumping on the bandwagon. Or perhaps they have sufficient practice in discovering new found ancient allegiances to the local teams over the past several years that they can spring from bandwagon to bandwagon like Batman traversing the rooftops of Gotham City. And let's not kid ourselves, I am old enough to remember that prior to Bill Parcells coming to coach the Pats, games at Foxboro were routinely unavailable on local TV because the team had failed to sell a sufficient number of tickets and the NFL blacked the game out. And Fenway is as much a place to be seen as it is to see an actual ball game. Can you honestly tell me that there aren't at least 15,000 people in those stands on a given night that haven't given more thought to what they might look like in high def on NESN or to what exact stupid, insipid and cloying effort to get some dap from the Rem Dawg they're going to put on some poster board and hold up like a meathead than they've given to who is pitching for the opponent and when Papelbon will finally join the ranks of the literate?I'm not really a stranger to jumping on bandwagons, but I like to start early and I like to get in on the ground floor. And I don't have the facility of intellectual dishonesty or simple inability to appreciate irony that one must show to jump on a Boston bandwagon. Because no one here can ever admit that they jumped on the bandwagon. Boston fans must instead prove that not only have they been fans for their entire lives, but every single last descendant of theirs down through the first to set foot on Ellis Island all the way down to the first homo sapiens in their family tree to hit the European continent in the last Ice Age rooted for every Boston team despite the notable handicap that Boston itself was a millennium or twenty away from being settled.I've mentioned this before, every Red Sox fan who discovered the team right around the 1998 divisional series with the Indians will tell you that their fathers, grandfathers, greatgrandfathers and the missing link (since Red Sox fans represent a lower order of our species, they can trace themselves back only so far) all were die-hard Sox fans. And yet, somehow, when every American knew it was Ted Williams final game at Fenway (it was so clear that the writer John Updike who grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in New York came to Fenway specifically to see Ted's last game in that lyric little bandbox), only 10,000 and change were on hand to see his final at bat culminate in a home run. Funny how that works for generations of die hard Red Sox fans. Hell, If Detective John MacLaine of the NYPD held himself to that standard in the film Die Hard, Die Hard's sequels would have revolved around Hans sitting on the beach drinking cocktails and earning 20% on the money he stole from Nakatomi while the feds sifted through the building's wreckage looking for him.To make a long story short, I hate bandwagon jumpers who try to pass themselves off as legitimate fans. I haven't forgotten that Ainge, while he backed his way into a title thanks to Kevin McHale's turning the Minnesota Timberwolves into a China Syndrome instead of a basketball team[...]



After a certain point, I don't really know why I bother with this blog anymore. If I'm going to update it once every two weeks, it's obviously not going to develop into anything, not that it ever was going to become something in the first place. But anyway, the Lakers have survived to play another day.

After watching this evening's travesty, and seeing the Lakers do everything they could to try to put up one more epic collapse, I have several things on my mind. And I'd like to start with this:

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If all those things can be applied to you, then you probably don't play for the Lakers. I'm reasonably sure that Kipling (the author of those lines, in case you didn't know already) never saw a basketball game. It's possible that he may have, since he lived in Vermont for a short time and married an American woman. But that is neither here nor there.

What matters is that the Lakers can't defend the pick and roll, even though KG's screens tend to stretch the limit of what is acceptable even though the refs don't call it. They seem to look around for another person to step up and make a big defensive play, and even to take a big shot. And they don't help Kobe when he needs to get free on the offensive end.

And the Celtics don't really deserve to win, either. I'm hardly the first person to notice this, but Doc Rivers has some serious issues. With the way he juggles his lineup, he's either responding to some sort of insult or slight with all the petulance of a spoiled child or he has serious short term memory lapses. There is no rhyme or reason to the way players not named Pierce, Garnett or Allen (Ray) get minutes on this team.

Davis played really well against Detroit and is MIA in this series. Powe has shown flashes in big minutes against the Lakers but was MIA in the Detroit series. Sam Cassel is old, overrated and, to be quite frank, not quite ready for primetime in HD. Not only that, but he's a chucker. And a championship caliber point guard isn't supposed to be a chucker.

To make a long story short, since it's late and even I have things to do tomorrow, the NBA blows. And it sickens me to see people walking around the city in flaunting their newfound Celtic pride. The same dbags who bailed on the team in the 90s and bailed on the team in the early Ainge years are back in force, and it's like they never left. It doesn't sit well with me.

To show that I'm not all bitterness and cynicism, I will be rooting for Rocco Mediate in the US Open playoff. Real, genuine, honest underdog stories like this hardly ever come along. And while I have no problem rooting for Goliath under most circumstances, I cannot root for a whining, pouting Goliath like Tiger Woods.(image)



Before I get around to the Celtics Lakers series and its game 1, there are a few things I need to mention. I realize that I wouldn't have to cram so much random stuff into these posts if I weren't living with a weird psychosis that makes me lazy and violently opinionated at the same time. But we all have our crosses to bear...We have a tool of note to discuss and an honorable mention award in the same category. First, the honorable mention goes to a Swedish couple who have been blocked from naming their daughter Elvis by the Swedish government. The government's rationale is that Elvis is a male name while the parents contend that Elvis is a gender neutral name.Leaving aside the notion that Sweden is ludicrously overregulated by an underintelligent government (which I do, in general believe), I think the Swedish government is right for a change here. How is Elvis a gender neutral name? Can you show me one female Elvis in the world (who isn't a lesbian Elvis impersonator)? If Elvis is gender neutral, why is Elvira a name??? Only a tool would name a girl Elvis, and you must be a pretty damn big tool to have the Swedish government interfere in your toolery.But the tool of note is Oprah. I hate Oprah, but I generally leave her alone in this space because her minions are so obviously brain dead that they are beyond reclamation like those people in Guyana who drank Jim Jones Kool Aid. Ironically, I still attempt from time to time to redeem Red Sox fans who are equally brain dead and brainwashed by the image Red Sox Nation projects to the world, but as bad as the Red Sox are they don't moralize and whine as Oprah does.Oprah, in case you didn't know (because it was one of those water is wet type of well kept secrets), is on a vegan quest to purge toxins from her body. And that's all well and good for her. It's none of my business, or at least it was. Once Oprah started shooting her mouth off about the billions of animals that die in the name of human gluttony and how that makes her ever so sad, that's when it becomes my business.Millions of Americans who work hard, pay taxes, live from paycheck to paycheck and hope to God they make it out of this recession without losing everything they own eat meat. They can't afford personal chefs and fad diets and spa treatments. Consider how much Oprah spends on herself (and I don't consider those carnival barker-esque "giveaways" she does on air to be charity) and then consider the balls it takes to tell hardworking people who might lose their homes any day now that they're gluttons for eating meat or chicken.What a tool. Where does she get off with this crap? I have a friend in the genetics racket at a well respected local university. His response was that if these animals didn't want to be eaten, they should have evolved to be less tasty. There is nothing wrong with eating animals. And every time I read a story like this, I wish I had the time to personally strangle every animal who finds its way to my plate. I'm not a cruel man, but I do get my Irish up whenever people preach at me or try to guilt me into taking their view of things. And it sure would be a grand shame if Oprah were to die of natural causes. By the by, aren't we supposed to be sending the message to young girls and women that a person ought to feel comfortable with his/her own body and not take risks like this extended vegan fast of Oprah's? But God forbid anyone question whether Oprah's impact on the world is anything less than 100% positive. After all, it's not as though she doth bestride our narrow world like a colossus...or is it?In other news, the Eighth Amendment is reeling yet again. The d bags who trashed the Robert Frost Museum have been sentenced to mandatory poetry classes. If being forced to study the poetry of Robert Frost isn't cruel and unusual punishment, I don't know what is. First, Robert Frost is massively overrated. Second, they should have put the kids to work in economically blighted areas bri[...]



I'm sorry I haven't posted in a few days. But there has been so little joy in the sports world for me, and this is the 300th post in the history of Sedition in Red Sox Nation. Maybe I'm just getting too sentimental in my old age, but I wanted this to be a special one.So while we have the Celtics and Lakers squaring off to see which team's bogus trades will trump the other's, I haven't been doing much smiling. As is my regrettable habit, I went on a nice mini-bender following the Celtics victory in Game 6 in Detroit. Recently, though, I have managed to confine my dangerously bitter and incoherent drunken rants to my personal life and kept them away from this space.If it's any consolation, I may have put an old friend from high school whom I hadn't seen in five years and his wife into probate court. After last call at a local night spot, the guy offered (or, more likely, I managed to invite myself) to provide a couple of Bud Lights as a night cap. His wife, whom I had never met before (and technically, I suppose, I still haven't met her in the formal sense) had come home from some sort of party where she was designated driver, and was somewhat less than thrilled to come home and find a large drunken moron cadging Bud Lights at 3 AM. I guess it goes to show you that no good deed goes unpunished.I felt bad about it, and the massive hangover that crippled me on Sunday. After all, this guy, despite being a BC grad, had the first good answer I've ever received when I explained my new rationale for drinking screwdrivers and forsaking White Russians and rum and cokes (just too many calories in white russians). The rum and cokes went because I am not ordering a mixed drink with diet coke, I might as well just grab a sign that says WUSS and rock that, no offense to those who do go that route is intended.To make a long story short, I told the guys I was with at the bar that I switched to screwdrivers instead of beer because I was trying to cut down on my carbs. This is probably the fifth time I've mentioned that. Generally, people have just let it slide. But this cat, whom I inadvertently sent to divorce court, came up with a gem of a response, elegant in its simplicity. His answer: "So you're drinking effin' orange juice???" No one else had made that connection about the volume of carbs from sugar in the orange juice. Too bad I ruined his life...There were a couple of things I should have complained about as they happened on this mini-bender, but just didn't get around to them. First, there was the goddamn spelling bee. In case you're keeping score at home, the finals of the National Spelling Bee was on ABC and the sixth (and final) game of the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals was on cable. A bunch of prepubescent mutants with a super pointless gift and nascent psychoses played prime time network TV and world-class athletes in the prime of their careers playing in one of the four major North American professional sports was banished to cable. So what if the kid can spell the hell out of guerdon. Can he dunk? Can he handle the rock? Can he flash gang signs like the Truth or disappoint anyone who made the joke "I think Spike Lee's planning a sequel called He Had Game" like Ray Allen? No. The kid can't do a damn thing but spell, and just because that is a rare gift, doesn't mean it's TV worthy. I'm so sick of this damn country and its juvenile obsession with novelty. Another three years from now and we'll be remembering the day middle school spelling outgrew its brand and falls back to ESPN2's midday coverage like the X games. Hopefully none of these homeschooled creepshows end up too depressed not to commit mass murder ten years from now on that account.Another thing I must complain about is the ongoing effort on the part of Elvis Presley Enterprises to tarnish the King's legacy at every twist and turn. The particular aspect of their profiteering that is pissing me off at the moment is the latest add[...]



Well, you win some and you lose some. The Celtics, under the inspired leadership of Doc Rivers, managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this evening despite finishing the evening plus 12 from the line. Under those circumstances, a team must have to try its ass off to lose by 19. Alas, the Seattle Mariners weren't quite so cooperative tonight, and the Red Sox are leading in the 8th as I write this.

It surprised me to see the level of commitment the NBA officials showed to securing a potential Celtics Lakers final. Given the propensity for flopping and what should have been home-cooking, you'd have thought the Pistons would have been on the receiving end of a free throw disparity like that. Just think, Rip Hamilton (who under ordinary circumstances flops and whines to the point where Reggie Miller feels uncomfortable watching him play) didn't get to the free throw line for the first time until the fourth quarter.

And as for those who will point out that the Pistons got away with any number of uncalled holds and hacks, I would ask them if what Kendrick Perkins was doing tonight could reasonably be called basketball? I know he fouled out eventually, but if he'd been called for half the hacks he committed (in limited minutes on account of the actual calls against him), he'd have fouled out in the first minutes of the third.

And the Big Ticket did more than his share of hacking as well. Some might think it showed his competitive fire when he blocked a shot Theo Ratliff took as a lark after he'd already been fouled and the play was whistled dead. As for me, I thought he should have been called for a foul of his own there, because it wasn't a clean block. But perhaps he was still emotionally traumatized from the play where Maxiell came up behind him and made our favorite overrated superstar look ridiculous by blocking a sure dunk from behind.

Far and away the most mystifying event of the night had to be Doc Rivers awkward, verging on sexual harassment compliment of Michelle Tafoya's ensemble in the first half. I understand that his fragile little mind must have been overtaxed trying to reconcile himself to the fact that his team was lighting it up from the line but still trailing, but if he didn't want to answer questions, he should have simply said he didn't want to answer questions. We didn't need to see that.

I have some questions, too, that are bothering me at this point. First, is it ironic that Ratliff has played more productive minutes against the Celtics in this series than he played in his entire Celtic tenure? Sure, they gave him up in the Garnett deal and sure, he was taking up space and getting paid handsomely for it in Boston, but every thing he does to help the Pistons win and the Celtics lose has to sting a bit, no?(image)



I'm sorry I haven't updated this space as often as I probably should have in the last few weeks. This week has been crazy. I had to do some travelling and some drinking not entirely unrelated to said travelling. Plus I've been a bit depressed, what with the Celtics getting entirely too close to lucking their way to a title for their loathsome management team and with Jon Lester's no-hitter being treated as though it were an event on par with Neil Armstrong "walking" on the Moon. Perhaps I am indeed as horrible a human being as I am told (quite frequently, in fact), but I find myself curiously unmoved by Lester's triumph. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I am pro cancer, even though I don't wear a Lance Armstrong bracelet and I had the temerity to suggest that one could possibly accomplish more by simply donating to research facilities directly than to purchase overpriced merchandise from some trumped-up Live Pink campaign. Or maybe I am right and all of you are wrong. Before we get all teary eyed and mushy over what happened earlier this week, let's all take a nice deep breath and remember that the Kansas City Royals are still perennial doormats in the American League. It's not as though Ruth, Gehrig and the rest of the 1927 Yankees suddenly came back in some sort of less pretentious and sanctimonious Field of Dreams moment. No-hitting any team is a nice accomplishment, something that really classes up a CV, but it's not as though he single-handedly brought peace to the Middle East, or a consistent viewpoint on Iran to the minions of a certain Midwestern junior Senator.It's not as though I am somehow less sentimental than the average fan or the average person. Nor am I evil. It's just that I want a few days, a short moratorium on a story being overblown and beaten to death thirteen seconds after it happened. Like when ESPN cut away from its regularly scheduled programming for 3 hours because the New York Yankees fifth starter was tragically killed in a small plane crash. That is what turns me off sports, that and the fact that the average New England sports fan consistently decides to pass on their inferior genetic material to another generation, as though we needed more morons in this country.Unfortunately, it hasn't just been my relentlessly negative take on the Red Sox that has suffered in my recent silence. There are a few stories that really needed my complaints that have passed unnoticed lately. Thanks to the New York Knicks missing the playoffs again, Spike Lee was free to go to Cannes and shoot his mouth off about Clint Eastwood and his World War Two films which didn't include African Americans. First, there were 900 or so African Americans among 35,000 Marines who fought at Iwo Jima. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there were exactly zero African Americans among the Marines who raised the flag on Mount Sirubachi. Flags of Our Fathers was about the raising of the flag and the bond tour that followed it much more than it was about the battle itself. So by my calculations, there were a good 34,700 Marines who fought bravely on that God forsaken island but didn't manage to have their stories told by Clint Eastwood. This wasn't a racist decision, it was simply a question of whether the movie should be 2 hours long or the movie should be 2 years long. And as for the Japanese version of the story, Letters from Iwo Jima, it told the story from the enemy's point of view, so what's the big deal? The bottom line of this whole mess is that Spike Lee really ought to shut his yapper and make a half decent movie for a change.Two other items that I want to mention are a recent release concerning the drug from Pfizer that helps people quit smoking. Among its side effects are depression and suicide. While that sounds scary as hell, at least you can't keep smoking if you've killed yourself. Who supervises the FDA now? Is there any way [...]



I don't particularly like blogging about politics. I realize that no one really cares what I think, and I sincerely hope that I do not have a chance of convincing any of my readers to change their minds about a given candidate. But I am sick and tired of the Obama supporters calling for Senator Clinton to step down from the Democratic nomination process. Basically, this is another mini-Festivus Airing of Grievances. I have a lot of problems with you people, and you're going to hear them.This entire process has been a bad joke on the American people. Could it be possible that I am the only person in America who appreciates the irony of the Democratic Party becoming less democratic by the minute in this election? Why is Howard Dean not drawing more criticism for this mockery of a campaign? Andrew Jackson must be rolling over in his grave seeing this farce (he's probably rolling seeing an African-American and a woman running for the highest office in the land, as he was somewhat of a reactionary, even by 1820s standards, but he was a man of his time).I do admire Dean's slavish adherence to the principles under which this nation was established. The Founding Fathers clearly intended political party appartus which formed after the Constitution separated powers between the branches of the Federal Government and between the Federal Government itself and the several states to trump the authority of a state government to conduct its business in its own way, like say holding elections. Where does the Democratic National Committee get of telling a state like Michigan or Florida that they won't accept the votes of the citizens of those states because the states want to move their primaries? That doesn't strike me as a very democratic thing to do.As for this election, it's not as though Senator Obama's march to the nomination is a fait accompli at the moment. According to CNN, Obama is leading by 180 delegates with 400 some odd still unpledged. This could shape up to be the first real, honest to goodness, no foolin' interesting political convention of my life (I was born in 1979). More than that, it might actually be relevant for a change.Not that long ago, I saw a film titled The Best Man. It starred Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson, and it was about the behind the scenes machinations at a political convention where candidates are still vying for the party's nomination. Even though Gore Vidal wrote it, it was quite good. And it got me thinking that there's no real reason (except the fact that both parties are gutless and need to stage manage the fragile buffoons they nominate) conventions can't matter even now. I imagine that if you were to make a film about the political convention process now, the most dramatic moments would likely come from the candidates' handlers fretting about how to sprinkle their speeches with enough big words and small, complicated words to prevent the American people from realizing that the candidates are all too scared to offend to even think of addressing a real issue. Either that or the drama would come from the hair stylists struggling to find the right blend of feathering and hair product usage to make their candidate appear more presidential, whatever that means.Back to the real world... I remember when I was a kid in school, quite a few people told me that I was lucky to live in a free country. I realize now that I am older and, quite frankly, more than a little bit bitter, that most of what I was taught in school boils down to little more than a pack of convenient lies, but the illusion that Americans are free is still out there, or at least it was.If we want to keep pretending that we live in a free country, then maybe people ought to shut up now and then. What right does any observer have to tell Hillary Clinton that it's time to close up shop? This isn't a match-play golf tournamen[...]



So, tonight is the pivotal game 5 in the series with Cleveland. If the Celtics don't win, I guess we'll finally see if this team is for real or not. Obviously, they put up a tremendous regular season, but the regular season will have meant nothing if this team doesn't make the NBA Finals. Each year it seems the NBA regular season means less and less because there are at least 12 terrible teams. And now with the epidemic of fire sale trades this season (KG to Boston, Gasol to LA and Shaq to Phoenix) it seems like the bad teams will get worse and the few good teams will get better more quickly. That might make for better playoffs, but it won't make for better basketball.Should the Cs win tonight, they will be in a strong position in the series, but overall they still have the nagging issue of their inability to win on the road this postseason. I imagine it may have happened at one point in history, but I sincerely doubt a team has managed to win a title without winning at least one game on the road in the playoffs. Theoretically, it's possible as long as the Cs could win every game at home. But what exactly are the odds of that happening?Say they get past the Cavs, that puts them up against the Pistons. And if they should beat Detroit without winning a game at the Palace, they would go on to face the team that emerges from the Lakers, the Jazz, the Hornets or the Spurs. By the time the playoffs are all said and done if the Cs advance to the Finals without winning on the road they'd have played 21 games on top of the regular season. Throw in the fact that Pierce, KG and Allen aren't really all that young any more (consider the fact that LeBron seems like he's been in the league forever, but he's only 23 then multiply that effect for the Boston Three Party).And is it really likely that with the playoff savvy veterans in Detroit and San Antonio looming (I'll believe that the NBA won't allow the Spurs to hack and flop their way to yet another disappointing NBA Finals series when it happens) couldn't find a way to win in Boston at least once between the two of them? These teams know every dirty trick in the game today. And they have no silly superstitions about playing basketball the way it ought to be played, so they can either wear down or frustrate the Celtics with tactics that would make Pat Reily's Knicks teams blush. And if the Cs should lose tonight, they'll be in a world of pain. Not having won on the road and facing elimination in Game Six, we would see a Celtics team that has been hit (for those of you who read this space regularly, you'll remember my fondness for quoting the maxim of the Michael Douglas character from The Ghost and the Darkness that in prize fighting, everybody has a plan until he gets hit). With a suspect coach in Rivers, and three superstars who have had a knack for coming up small when it really matters, would you really be confident that the Celtics would be dangerous with their backs against the wall?I wouldn't, but then I don't want them to do well as long as Ainge and the boys from Banner 17 are minding the store. In other matters, the NBA is going to suspend play for the 2008-2009 season in the next few days. Since the Benefactor has signed Rick Carlisle to coach the Mavs, it is now officially a foregone conclusion that Mark Cuban will be celebrating the first of many NBA titles this time next year. Or maybe we'll all remember that Jason Kidd will be a year older, and against everything that seems logical, will be even more of a douche. Dirk Nowitzki will still be some bizarre hybrid of the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. Josh Howard will still have peaked in 2006. Jason Terry will still be Jason Terry, and Rick Carlisle probably won't have acquired the magic to do what he failed to do in Indiana and Detroit.In case you needed fur[...]



So, I realize that the world of sports is progressing rapidly toward championships in the NHL and NBA, and the baseball season is underway (I could have said in full swing, but I try not to be a douche as much as humanly possible. It's what separates people like me from people like Simmons, Mariotti and the CHB, that and I don't get paid for this). But I don't have much to say about those topics right now. Just that if San Antonio wins another title this season, that's it for me with the NBA.Greg Popovich is sort of like the evolutionary Red Auerbach and these Spurs are sort of like the Celtics dynasty of the 50s and 60s, at least in the same sense as JD Drew's numbers are sort of like ARod's career stats and in the same way that getting kicked in the balls is sort of like a good time. San Antonio plays a disgraceful brand of basketball. And anyone who can legitimately say they enjoy watching a team meld cowardice with bullying tactics has no genuine affinity for basketball. Can anyone honestly imagine a player like Bill Russell stooping to using hack-a-Shaq tactics against Wilt Chamberlain (a terrible free throw shooter in his own right)? Russell probably would have thrown a beating on anyone who suggested such a thing. And rightly so, because that isn't basketball. Or at least it wasn't.I realize that New Orleans is up 2-1 in their series with the Spurs right now, but I just can't see them holding on to that lead. I am not optimistic enough to think that the Spurs won't find a way to flop and hack their way out of the hole they're in right now. If that team collectively starred in a low budget, crummy horror movie, I think I just might have trouble remembering it was fiction.And as for Manu Ginobli, can you imagine what his career would have looked like if he had the misfortune of playing in the NBA when basketball was basketball? For every rave review of his play, there ought to be at least a footnote to remind younger fans what Jordan, Bird, Johnson, Barkley, Wilkins and Doctor J would have done to him had he had the misfortune to face any one of them in his respective prime. And don't forget that the league's officials tended to actually call games in a fashion that resembled legitimacy back then. Ginobli would be on the bench in foul trouble or so shell-shocked that he'd have to retire. But the trouble with good old days is that they're always gone for good by the time you realize just what you had.I mentioned in my last post that I was going to devote some attention to what was wrong with the Star Wars movies. Or at least some of the problems, since there are so many and I get bored fairly easily. I guess the fundamental problem is that the films are science fiction, and science fiction as a genre is created by people who are cut off from the real world where people have to make real decisions and face real consequences. That and they probably smoke a lot of dope.Look at the way Darth Vader kept choking senior officers to death with the Force. After the first few admirals and generals got choked, that would be it for the morale and the discipline of the Imperial military. Fear is a fairly effective motivator, but at a certain point, a person is just going to say "What the hell, if I fail I'm going to be killed, so why even try?" Also, eliminating senior commanders would logically force his immediate subordinates into roles that they may not be fully prepared to take on in combat conditions.Then there's the Force itself. What exactly is the Force capable of and why does it keep changing to suit the convenience of a particular film at a particular point in time? One Sith Lord hiding in the capital can diminish the ability of the entire Jedi council to use the Force, but another Sith Lord can't stop a kid with about 6 minute's training from using t[...]



So, the Celtics have successfully lulled the rest of the NBA teams into a false sense of security. That's all that this suspicious inability to win a playoff game on the road against the worst team to make the NBA playoffs this season has been. After all, the notion that the Boston Celtics could lose a game 7 at the fake Boston Garden is laughable.The Celtics are sending the Cavs a message. If they can take a seven game series with the potential to turn into an historic choke job this lightly, how lightly can they take a series against LeBron James, even though LeBron is by himself better than any three Celtics? History is totally on the side of the Celtics here. Their record in Game 7s is astronomically against the Hawks. It's not as though a Celtic team has won over 60 games in a season and then blown a game 7 at home before, right? Oh wait. The 72-73 Celtics (who set a franchise record for wins, by the way) dropped a Game 7 at home to the New York Knicks in shameful fashion. At least those Knicks were much better than these Hawks, though.If I were in the habit of making predictions in this space (I've given it up since they had that nasty habit of going spectacularly wrong), I'd pick the Celtics to win by 37 points. After all, the pressure is off here. Even if they lose to Atlanta and set NBA history in a bad way, it's not as though they could outchoke the Patriots on the local sports scene. The Pats set the NFL record for most points scored, Brady and Moss both broke records for TDs in a season and they'd already pulled off a spectacular comeback against the Giants on the road in winter conditions. That's a bit worse than simply dropping a best of seven series to a chump team coming off the best regular season record in the NBA. It's not as though the Celtics are a dynasty at this point, and this season won't mark the end of an era the way the recent Super Bowl catastrophe did. Garnett and Allen are still under contract, and even if they do slow down the way the Patriots geriatric linebackers have, there are enough terrible teams in the East that it won't make a difference.In other matters, even though I rip Bill Simmons from time to time, I am not above stealing a couple of links from him to bring to your attention in case you don't have as much time to waste as I do. First, I want to comment on the facebook scandal raging at the Horace Mann School in NYC. Students are using facebook to ridicule and criticize their teachers to the point of bullying and even intimidation. And no one knows how to stop them. Since they can use their own computers to do this and this is, for the moment, a free country, the burden of stopping this falls on the parents. God knows, if I had been part of something like this whilst I was a kid (and possibly even now), my parents would have descended on me as though they were Robert Duvall's Air Cav unit and I was a small Vietnamese village near good surfing and Martin Sheen's mission insertion point. All I would have heard would have been some strains of Wagner and then fade to black. But we're expected to believe that violence is not the answer to life's problems... That's crap, limited violence directed at a given object for a given reason is the oldest solution there is, and whatever we're doing now ain't working.Among the many problems that should have been anticipated in this story, first and foremost, you're obviously going to have a serious wave of bad karma at an elite private school named after the guy who practically invented public education in America. And obviously you're going to have a huge problem brewing among rich, entitled kids in Manhattan. Rich kids are almost all d-bags, and assholes are the last remaining renewable resource in the Northeast. Go figure worlds collided here.T[...]



So, the 2008 NFL Draft is over and done. The Patriots needed to get younger and better on defense. At the moment, they appear to have gotten younger. Whether or not they're better remains to be seen. Even if the young players step in and contribute on defense, it's hard to see the Patriots not taking at least one step back next season.It seems highly unlikely that the AFC East won't improve at all in the coming season. Adding Jake Long should make the Dolphins offensive line (which was probably their biggest weakness among many, many, many weaknesses) considerably better. Granted, they still have a long way to go to be good in that area, but it's a start. Buffalo and the Jets should be slightly better than they were last season as well. All this points to the Patriots cruising to another division title, but it should be a tougher run and 16-0 isn't happening again.The mid to late first round was the most interesting part of the draft, what with the trades and the run of mediocre offensive line prospects coming off the board the way they did. If I had to pick one team to blame for that crime against good taste, I think I'd have to blame the Lions. I don't see the sense in their trading down two spots to take Gosder Cherilus four rounds too soon. But that's just me. Apparently it was vitally important that they give Boston College something to brag about with two Eagles going in the first round.After the Notre Dame game, I posted something to the effect that Cherilus had played himself out of millions of dollars in guaranteed money with the way Kerry Neal and Brian Smith blew past his feeble attempts to handle their speed rushes. Granted Cherilus was playing left tackle when people assure me that he is a natural right tackle. But if two true freshmen linebackers from an historically dreadful Notre Dame team cruised by him repeatedly as though he were Matt Light with a perfect season riding on his ability to block Justin Tuck or Osi Umenyura, how long will it take NFL defenses to exploit this flaw in Cherilus' game? But what would April be without the Lions making an inexplicable and indefensible pick?I also think Atlanta gave up an awful lot to trade into the first round to draft their left tackle of the future in USC's Sam Baker. It is essential to protect a rookie QB's blind side, or any QB for that matter. But Baker wasn't so dominant in college that he was worth that risk and his injury history is a cause of some concern.But the Falcons must be praised for picking up a temporary fix at QB until Ron Mexico clears up his legal issues and resolves his indefinite suspension. As I watched the draft coverage, I found myself unimpressed by the deep throw over the middle Matt Ryan completed against Maryland and Ron Jaworski broke down from two angles. And yet the same clip had to have been shown something like 20 times.The first problem I had with the clip is that Maryland wasn't exactly a dominant team in the ACC last season. Then no mention was made of the fact that Maryland's defense was shifting around and looking very confused before the snap. Finally, with all the talk of throwing the receiver open, Jaws didn't bother to mention that NFL middle linebackers drop into their zones with a lot more precision and much better technique than the Maryland defender showed on that play (his shoulders were turned in such a way that he could do everything but cover the receiver on the play).With the receivers and offensive line awaiting him, I don't see a very promising future in Atlanta for Matt Ryan. Yes, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterback class of 2008, but that could just as easily be due to the weakness of that position group as a whole as opposed to a ringing endorsement of Ryan's [...]



I find myself feeling very depressed at the moment. And it has remarkably little to do with the unfortunate collapse of the Texas Rangers earlier this afternoon. Rather like last season's impressive Mother's Day Miracle, this was a substantial comeback against a terrible team who probably never should have had that lead to begin with when compared with this version of the Red Sox.This was shaping up to be a very average weekend anyway. There was good news tempered by bad news from the NFL Network. Bryant Gumbel has done the right thing and left the broadcast booth to pursue other challenges, presumably he will go on to bore and frustrate an entirely new audience in an entirely new venture. Good riddance.Alas, that news can only be greeted with a moderate smile. In the same article, the NFL Network revealed that they are searching for a new partner to call games with Cris Collinsworth. Perhaps they can fulfill Bill Simmons' ultimate fantasy and pair Collinsworth with Gus Johnson. Not that it matters. Unless they pair Collinsworth with a person who will backhand him whenever Collinsworth sees fit to remind us that he was probably the single most spectacular receiver of all time who never made a difference on the field and is the second biggest fraud ever to attend the University of Florida (and believe me, that is some stiff competition) behind only Steve Spurrier, this will not bode well for football fans.Collinsworth is a terrible broadcaster and a dick. He also has a penchant for dressing as though he were the Man from U.N.C.L.E. or auditioning for the lead in a dinner theater version of the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. And sadly, he brings more to the table than any other member of the NBC NFL studio crew, which speaks volumes to the degree to which Olberman, Costas, King and Barber have elevated sucking to a form of high art. I didn't forget Bettis, but I still have a problem with bad-mouthing a man who turned in two transcendent performances in bowl games for the Fighting Irish.That is my nightmare situation at the moment, that the NFL Network would pair Collinsworth with Tiki Barber. Perhaps two such massive egos couldn't coexist in a booth for four hours at a stretch, one can only hope. What a disaster that would be for fans. Especially since neither one of them ever brought enough to the table to justify having such prominent egos. I don't fault people for self-involvement, but those two guys' selves aren't anywhere near as impressive as they would have us believe.In other news, two strange stories came to my attention recently. First, Dwayne Wade might be dating Star Jones. All I can say is...yikes. She, even more than Charlie Weis (who almost died in the procedure), is the poster child for what's wrong with gastric bypass surgery. She has a massive fat face on top of a grotesquely skinny body and a turkey neck. It's creepy. But it serves D-Wade right. He became infatuated with the image the media projected on him during his first couple of wildly successful seasons, particularly the championship run of 2006. He took that "me against the world" suicide drive mentality to the extreme last season and into this year. His body is breaking down because of it. He's alienating fans because his style of play (when he plays) is no longer fun to watch and his team made the Titanic's sudden sinking seem like a relatively mild disaster. And apparently his judgement in other areas has taken a hit as well. The other story that disturbed me was Michael Westbrook's recent revelation that the perception that he was gay damaged his NFL career. Apparently it had nothing to do with the fact that he was overpaid and underperformed. Maybe he just wasn't as good as we were led to believe, even i[...]



It's amazing that in a world full of unanswerable questions, the biggest one on my mind right now has nothing to do with Bruce Springsteen's recent endorsement of Barrack Obama. This isn't so much a political complaint as a logical complaint. Given his recent track record, you'd think the Boss might go a different route, and endorse a candidate he didn't want to win, what with the fact that he hasn't backed a winner in what seems like a generation. But that's just me.The real unanswered question of 2008 has to be why in the name of all that is good, just and holy is Mike Mussina still pitching. And more to the point, why did he think it was a good idea to pitch to Manny Ramirez. Generally, I like irony, and even those things we claim are ironic when they're mere coincidences. Not so much tonight.The Red Sox under Dan Duquette's inspired regime brought Manny to town at what looked like a ludicrous price because, and only because, they were outbid by the Yankees in the Mike Mussina sweepstakes. Then, it looked like a panic move. Now it looks far too good. Even with my extensive capacity to describe things that anger me, I am at a loss for words here. In the last season and a half, Mike Mussina hasn't aged. He hasn't decayed. He's fossilized. I would feel more comfortable taking the mound myself in a big game than letting Mussina pitch against a middle school girls' softball team. I was shocked to find that his ERA is still only 5.75. There was always something funny about Mussina's career. Has another pitcher who won so many games in his career ever been so invisible? I know he played most of the best years of his career in Baltimore, but not all of those Oriole teams were horrible. A few made the playoffs. Ripken broke Gehrig's consecutive games played record. People paid some attention to Baltimore then.And what do we really know about Mussina after a long and fairly successful career? He throws a knuckle curve. He won a surprising number of games when you look at his career stats. And right now he sucks so much it's not even funny. For the love of God, he was replaced in this game in the fourth inning by Jonathan Albaladejo. Now maybe this season will go down in history as the start of something bug for Jonathan Albaladejo, but it will surely be the sad finish to what was once a good career for Mike Mussina. And I'm pissed that he got two shots at the Red Sox before the curtain fell.Apropos of nothing in particular, I also came across this interesting piece, attributing the reason the Mets acquired Johann Santana while the Red Sox and Yankees backed off in the end to the fact that the Mets turned a 30 million dollar profit last year while the Red Sox lost nearly 20 million and the Yankees lost almost $50 million. I just don't see how, even with their gargantuan payrolls, that the Red Sox and Yankees lost money last season. The Mets landed Santana because they were desperate. They didn't make the playoffs. The Yankees did. The Yankees had the inside track on sports headlines in the offseason and in the early stages of this season with Joe Girardi replacing Joe Torre after over a decade of managing the Bronx Bombers. In order to stay even remotely relevant after last season's catastrophic collapse, the Mets had to make a big splash. They were more willing to part with prospects than the Yankees were to surrender young talent, some of whom have already played well at the big league level.Assuming the Yankees don't come back tonight, they'll be 1 game down in the standings and 3 games down in the season series to the hated Red Sox. It's far too early to panic, since the Yankees are as young as they've been in a long time. They should get better as [...]



A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series last night. Chien Ming Wang and the undermanned, underhyped, undertalented made the Red Sox, otherwise known as the finest team to ever take the field, look a little ridiculous. Or the Red Sox hitters made themselves look ridiculous a long time before Wang took the hill and he just kept getting them out. What a shame that was.Perhaps a little bit more shocking was the fact that the Yankees managed to get hits against Clay Buchholz. Didn't any one bother to inform these so-called Bronx Bombers that Buchholz threw a no hitter last season even before he was officially a rookie? Who gave them the right to beat the Red Sox at Fenway with the future of the Red Sox rotation facing them? It's simply outrageous. This sort of aggression won't stand.A cynical theory could be advanced to suggest that the vastly superior Red Sox are simply lulling the manifestly inferior Yankees into a false sense of security. And one could say the whole of Major League Baseball, what with David Ortiz off to what can only charitably called a slow start this season. An even more cynical theory could be advanced to suggest that maybe the Red Sox who are desperate to increase their fan base in the Pacific Rim didn't want to humiliate Chien Ming Wang, the darling of Taiwanese fans, because they may need to squeeze every cent out of that region. While it is improbable, it bears consideration. What with the subprime catastrophe and the dangerously large portions of American financial services companies being purchased by foreign sovereign wealth firms, the "tough yuppie" (and if you think that that term is an oxymoron, ask a Red Sox fan and he'll tell you, or at the very least whip a piece of pizza off the back of your head when you turn your back) is facing tough times. And we all know that this legendary "tough yuppie" is the backbone of Red Sox Nation.A still more cynical theory could be advanced to show that the Red Sox who are starting off more slowly than their teammates this season are the guys who reinvented their careers since signing with the Red Sox. Now that George Mitchell's "report" has been exposed to the light of day and a member of the Red Sox board of directors is no longer serving as MLB's watchdog for illicit performance enhancing substances, it seems slightly coincidental that the thriving's run out for some of the players who feasted on opposing pitchers while under Mitchell's protection. But then I never was one for buying coincidences...As for Mike Mussina outdueling Josh Beckett and not in that good Las Vegas way, but in the bad, let's see who can allow more runs today way... I'm not letting that worry me too much, either. Mussina entered whatever phase comes after the twilight of a pitcher's career before John Kerry invented Manny Ortez as a favorite current Red Sox player. [...]



And so, let the not so dulcet tones of the Yankees Suck cheers ring in Fenway...As famed New Englander (though a Californian by birth, I think we can call him a New Englander) and overrated archtool Robert Frost once wrote, two roads diverged in a yellow wood. Tonight, those roads are the respective seasons of the coiled, sleeping dragon Red Sox and the lumbering oaf on the verge of going over the cliff Yankees. The two teams meet in Fenway this weekend, and the Red Sox are poised to sweep. Both teams have a 5-5 record, but the Red Sox are 5-5 because they're battling injuries. Beckett is going to get stronger with each passing start. Clay Buchholz is poised to have that breakout year we've been told by Red Sox Nation and its press cadre is all but overdue (even though he's a rookie and his inevitable late season heroics were derailed by a vague tiredness in his pitching arm). And Coco Crisp is hitting over .300 at the moment, so all signs point to the Yankees fading quickly and harshly.After all, the Yankees are so desperate, they're forced to start their ace, Chien Ming Wang on normal rest. In any other club, and against any other team, this would be interpreted by any rational observer as business as usual. But this is the struggling .500 New York Yankees and they face the mighty .500 Boston Red Sox. Everyone who is anyone knows that the panic button is already pressed in the Bronx. Surely by this point tomorrow, the frantic phone calls to Scranton will begin in earnest.The Red Sox, on the other hand, are so confident of victory in this series that they sent Mike Lowell to the 15 day DL this afternoon. The Sox didn't even make the move retroactive to speed his return. They don't need him in the lineup at the moment, given that Jason Varitek's batting .290 and has 2 homers. Given his recent track record, he probably does have two weeks of promise left before he remembers his bat was declared missing and presumed dead from the Red Sox lineup in late 2005. Rest assured, I will be updating this site frequently over the next three days or so to chronicle this spectacular instance of ships passing in the night in the offing.For some unexplained reason, I signed up to receive the BU student newspaper at the alumni website one afternoon when I was killing time. I don't know what good I expected to come of it at the time, if any, but I never hoped for this. As those of you who read this blog have probably come to notice, I am a keen observer, almost to the point of paranoia, of the tools that walk among us. And today, thanks in part to the travesty of a student newspaper at Boston University, I have struck what just might be the Comstock Lode of tools of note. And in this instance, this picture is truly worth at least 1,000 words...There is a movement afoot on American college campuses that must be revealed and ridiculed (gently, and without recourse to cyberbullying, of course, as this site condones neither real nor pretend violence) instantly. Tools of epic proportions across the nation are putting together an event called the Intercollegiate World Cup right under our noses. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised when I discovered that this event took place at Middlebury College in Vermont, a school notorious even in a state filled with tools for archtoolery of every imaginable sort. And the principal archtool (which would make him a pope of tools, or at the very least a cardinal) is a person called Xander Manshel, which, if it isn't an alias, is surely a terrible crime against taste on the part of this tool's parents and one of the great self fulfilling prophecies of all time. With a name li[...]



Sorry I haven't updated this site in a while. I know how desperately the two or three of you who read this regularly await each post and the host of insights it provides into the world of sports, life, the universe and everything. I just haven't felt much like posting.I know a blog allegedly devoted to baseball, and the Red Sox in particular, ought to have had more baseball related content posted by this point in the season (to date, I think all I've done is a halfpost complaining about how fraudulent the season opening in Japan was and what a pointless waste of time the exhibition series in LA was). Hell, I haven't even gotten around to congratulating Kansas for winning the NCAA tournament thanks to my reverse jinx effect.It's nice to see that the Red Sox haven't exactly lit the world on fire yet this season. I am going to wait a little before I celebrate, though. After all, a cursory check of the standings tells us that, at least at the start of tonight's games, the Baltimore Orioles are currently on pace to win 138 games this year. I wouldn't be much of a Catholic if I denied out of hand the possibility of miracles, but I just can't see this edition of the Baltimore Orioles demolishing the MLB record for wins in a season. And of course we must assume that the Red Sox will only get better. After all, Curt Schilling is still rehabbing his injured shoulder and eventually he will come back. So what if he's more dangerous with his mouth (especially to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain) and his pointless blog than with his pitching at this point in his career. Humpty Dumpty will be back on the mound soon enough.It was only a minor bump in the road when Beckett was roughed up by the Blue Jays in his season debut. After all, if Delcarmen hadn't allowed a grand slam to Frank Thomas, Beckett may not have gotten the loss. Then again, if Beckett hadn't stunk out the joint and left the bases loaded, Thomas might have had a hard time hitting that grand slam in the first place, but things will get much better for the Sox any day now.Bartolo Colon and Mike Timlin are also going to come back at some point, we think. So this Red Sox team is best compared to a slumbering giant waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting American League. Other teams from whom big things were expected this year, like the Tigers and Yankees, can't be compared to slumbering giants, however. After all, I half-expected that the Yankees would just forfeit the season after Bill Simmons pronounced them the second most relevant baseball team in NYC right now.I found that line amusing. The Mets may have acquired Johann Santana, but they'd have to win the next 13 or so titles in a row to overtake the Yankees in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers. Mets fans are a sort of New York equivalent to that guy who became a Red Sox fan in any other MLB city in the last 10 or so years. These people desperately want something to stick out their chest and feel big about, and rooting for the second biggest team in NYC or the second biggest team in America was one way to do it.I'll believe in the Mets when I see them standing in the winner's circle at the end of the year. It seems every big ticket addition to the Mets takes at least one season to perform at the anticipated level. Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran took a year, and with the bigger deal, the bigger headlines and the fact that he's very old for a small power pitcher, makes me think that a slow April is just a sign of things to come from Santana this season.Back to the Red Sox, I can't help but wonder when Congress will leave off investigating the likes of R[...]



Even though baseball season has officially begun for every team by this point, I'm still thinking more about the Final Four than anything else right now. Of the four teams that remain, I hate all four of them. But since somebody has to win this thing, at least according to the rules of logic and probability, I guess I'd rather see Kansas win than any of the other finalists.I hate Memphis because I hate John Calipari. I never really liked him when he coached U Mass back in the day and I haven't seen any reason to change my mind since. As for this Memphis team, they are dangerously close to proving that they actually matter. They beat Texas, who was legit this season, even though Rick Barnes isn't particularly awe-inspiring as a big game coach. That said, there still is the fact that Conference USA is still going through the proverbial seven years of famine of which the Bible spoke since Louisville, Cincy and the rest fled to the Big East.I've never been a Carolina fan. Just because they're a step above (and infinitely preferable to the Cameron Crazies) Duke doesn't carry enough weight to make me like them. I will root for them whenever they play Duke, but other than that, I have no time for them. Nor have I ever been swept away by the "romance" of Tobacco Road. Perhaps if General Sherman could have foreseen how things would turn out he would have been more harsh and not lest harsh in his treatment of North Carolina during the Civil War. Plus I'm not entirely convinced that Roy Williams and the current mayor of Boston aren't doppelgangers. I'm not entirely sure why I hate UCLA, it's just something I've always done. It might have something to do with the light blue uniforms (like UNC). I don't think it has anything to do with the tradition, generally speaking I admire tradition (Notre Dame and the Yankees come to mind). Maybe it's the fact that I think I hate everything from LA. Or maybe it's a lingering resentment against the school that gave us Kareem and Bill Walton.I really hate Bill Walton, by the way, and I hate him more every time he opens his mouth. Yeah, he helped the Celtics win a title and come within a whisper of another back in the good old days. But he's a long winded d-bag who looks at the world through a strange perspective wherein his contributions to the basketball landscape and the English language are vastly overstated. It's too bad that injuries derailed what would have been an epic career, and it's a shame that he stuttered till he was 30, but why should I be punished for that?I also remember way back when, when I was still a Celtics fan and the Cs and Nets were battling in the Eastern Conference finals. Walton was in the crowd in the Meadowlands, high-fiving Nets fans as though it were cool. Even though I have stopped being a Celtics fan as long as the Ainge era continues, I'm still not forgiving Walton. I probably never will.Before I leave the topic of Bill Walton, I still want an explanation or clarification on his relationship to the Symbionese Liberation Army. Or at the very least a good explanation on what exactly the Symbionese are or were, from whom they needed to be liberated and why exactly kidnapping Patty Hearst was supposed to advance that cause. And as an aside, even though I am fairly conservative myself, I do not include his relationship to the Grateful Dead in my reasons for hating Walton. While I do not share their ideals, I do respect and enjoy their music.I wanted to rip Bill Simmons for picking UCLA in his bracket column because I didn't think much of this team. Even though they'd made two (and now [...]



This was an eventful weekend. There were frauds packed on frauds packed on even bigger frauds. The LA Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox set an attendance record for a baseball game. This naturally disproves Hank Steinbrenner's contention that America is more of a Yankee nation than a Red Sox Nation. Which brings us to the first fraud of the evening.The notion that this game means anything in any respect is absolutely goofy. From Kareem Abdul Jabbar throwing out a pitch (and throwing like a girl to boot), this was a festival of frauds. Of course they set an attendance record, they played in a bigger venue and one customized to fit as many people in as possible. The left field wall was barely 200 feet from home plate. How much more ridiculous could the farce have gotten?The fact that over 115,000 people turned out to watch this game means very little. It certainly doesn't prove that more Americans root for the Red Sox than any other team out there. After all, had teams like the Yankees or Cubs been invited to a circus like this, could we have seen a similarly large crowd? I bet either of those teams could have helped the Dodgers set this record. To say nothing of the Giants, the Dodgers' archrival.And to make a claim that America is overrun with Red Sox fans from this weekend's exhibitions, one would have to assume that there were more Red Sox fans than Dodger fans in attendance. From this Eric Neel piece on ESPN's Page 2, that doesn't ring true. But Red Sox Nation has always had a knack for spinning stories from nothing and making themselves look bigger and better than they really are.And then there was the Bill James appearance on 60 Minutes. I find it hard to believe that any person who thinks that Chase Utley is the most underrated baseball player in the league and who would take David Wright if they could build a team around one guy is a baseball genius.To start with, Chase Utley could cure the common cold in his spare time and still not manage to be underrated. I think it must be a Federal statute that commands ESPN to include him in as many highlights as they do. God knows it can't be his overall performance or his contributions to the Phillies winning ways, what with the fact that the Phils have yet to win anything with Utley. Or maybe it was his star turn as the heart and soul of the American entry in the World Baseball Classic.And as for David Wright, he strikes me as a papier mache version of A Rod. He'll put up good numbers in a given season, but I'd rather depend on any other Met to get a big hit at a big moment. And if he's the long term future of baseball, then it's going to be a tough time for MLB going forward. [...]



As an anonymous comment complained the other day, the Red Sox season is now two days old and I haven't mentioned the Red Sox in Sedition in Red Sox Nation yet. I don't really know what to say about the Sox vs. As games played in Japan, except that it was a total and complete fraud. There is no reason why two teams should be 1-1 right now when no other team has played a game. There is no reason why teams should start the regular season and then come back to play more exhibition games. It's a shamelessly exploitative money grab, and it's beat. If flying halfway around the world to play games in Japan were in any way, shape or form legitimate, MLB wouldn't have twisted the schedules the way they did. They might have tried something like this at the All Star break, since the All Star game has been a total fraud for years now, even though it decides home field for the World Series. But it's just another way for MLB to turn a profit off one of its two marquee teams (sorry, Dodgers and Cubs but you aren't in the same league with the Yankees and Red Sox, the pun is purely accidental and somewhat regrettable). That said, it isn't the biggest fraud in sports at the moment. Far bigger is an ESPN panel ranking the top ten wide receivers of all time placing Randy Moss at number two. So what if he set a ton of records this season. He had plenty of time to rest up for that performance when he mailed in every single snap of his years in Oakland. That alone ought to disqualify him from the top ten.Admittedly, I have a certain bias here, and it's a very big bias, but there is no way Moss should be ranked ahead of Terrell Owens. Moss has made a living of shining brightly in regular season nationally televised games. He has not, however, made a point of playing big in playoff games. TO, to his credit, has done exactly that.Consider the fact that legend tells us Jason Sehorn shut Moss down in an NFC championship game because Moss was out of sorts after stadium security wouldn't allow his kids on the sideline. TO shook off an abysmal afternoon where he'd dropped four passes to make the best catch any one not named Lynn Swann ever made in a playoff game (sorry, David Tyree, even though that catch put a big smile on my face) when he caught the winning TD in triple coverage in the end zone against the Packers back in 1999.And have we reached a decision on whether or not Moss could have caught that third down pass against the Giants this season had he but jumped? I think so, but I am biased against the player and the team. Bill Simmons thinks so, but he's kind of a whimp and has never slid into second base in his life (plus, rumor has it he bailed early on at least one world series game in 2004). Set that against the fact that TO signed a liability waiver, returned from a broken leg in six weeks, played with a pin in his shin, caught nine passes for over 100 yards against the Patriots back in Harrison's HGH days. Check out this YouTube comparison and make your own decision. I just wish the Moss section had included the moment from 2003 when the Vikings entered the final game in Soldier Field controlling their own destiny for the final NFC playoff berth. In the final moments, with the Vikings needing a TD to win and advance against the lowly Bears, Moss ran a fade pattern against then unknown Bears CB Charles Tillman. Tillman took the ball right from Moss' hands and the Vikings lost. Show me a 49ers, Eagles or Cowboys game that ended with TO in that situation.So what if TO was less than pleasant to Jeff Garcia [...]



I would have posted sooner, but I have found myself once more in mourning for a tournament bracket sheet that died before its time. It doesn't happen every year (the catastrophic early collapse always happens, just not the reason why this particular year fell apart), but every now and then I talk myself into picking Georgetown to go deep. I don't know why I do. I hate Georgetown, and odds are, if you know people who went to Georgetown as I do, you probably hate Georgetown too. Georgetown is dick central. Of the 30 or so people I know who've attended Georgetown, I can think of 3 who aren't total dicks. That's certainly not a large enough sample from which to make a reasonable assessment, but then I'm not necessarily a fair guy.All signs pointed to Georgetown losing early in this tournament. We all know the cliche that March Madness is dominated by great guard play. Georgetown featured the closest thing to an NBA ready big man available to any of the field of 65, but they didn't have an answer for Davidson's quickness and shooting. So now I look like even more of a moron than usual, but I can live with that.I did want to see what happened when Roy Hibbert got to play against Brian Butch and the Insane Clone Posse that makes up the Wisconsin front line. I know the entire state of Wisconsin is made up of 5 family trees, but these guys look enough alike that I wouldn't be surprised if they came off an assembly line. On one level, Hibbert should have demolished the Badgers, based on talent alone. However, in the Coach K era in college basketball, sometimes pure talent is more of a liability than an asset. Far more important is the ability to swallow one's pride and sense of morality and hack, slash, hold and flop in the face of superior talent. And that is Bo Ryan's mission statement as a basketball coach. So Wisconsin would likely have won, especially considering they have vastly more experience than Georgetown (Brian Butch alone has been in college for 7 seasons now, after all).Having my bracket come apart so spectacularly almost took away most of the joy I felt (and (I'm sure shared with all right-thinking Americans) when Duke lost to West Virginia. Almost, but not quite. Seeing Duke bow out this early in a tournament is always good, but it gives me hope that there might be a chance that teams who flop and whine might be losing their advantage with the officials. That said, I am still terrified by the prospect of another San Antonio vs. Detroit matchup in the NBA Finals. But time will tell there...In other matters, actor Richard Widmark passed away on Monday. And all I have to say about that is who knew he was still alive? I am a big fan of old movies, and I like my fair share of Westerns. But I was never a big fan of Richard Widmark. I suppose I ought to be more sensitive, now that he's dead, but I am an imperfect person.I also feel compelled to bring this story to your attention, if you haven't seen it yet. A Mississippi man "accidentally" shot his wife while trying to use a .22 pistol to put a hole in his wall during a satellite TV installation. Prosecutors are considering charging him with manslaughter.Not for a minute is this manslaughter. Granted it's Mississippi and not civilization, but they ought to throw the book at this guy for everything and anything under the sun. I am not a big advocate for gun control, but I do believe in moron control. Only a total jackass would use a gun in a DIY job. So I'm thinking the guy shot his wife deliberately and came [...]



About two weeks ago, I posted in this space to ridicule the Philadelphia Eagles for their terrible decisions this offseason. I couldn't conceive of a world in which a team could slap the franchise tag on LJ Smith and throw a mountain of cash at a cornerback who considers it beneath his exalted dignity to tackle. And then I took a quick look at the Oakland Raiders offseason transactions. Good thing I'm not a Raiders' fan.According to John Clayton, Al Davis got the money to back his insane spending spree from selling non-voting shares in the Raiders. I wonder if the people who sprung for those shares are suffering from buyers remorse right now.I think, and it's just me talking at this point, that when the dust settles, the trade and ludicrous contract extension that brought DeAngelo Hall to Oakland (at least until his next sideline hissy fit) will go down as the worst of these moves. Lest we forget, even as Clayton compared Hall to Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, that this is the same man who whined to the league office that TO spat in his face (after TO torched him for two TDs in the game) and neglected to man up and throw down with TO. It doesn't exactly sound like much of a pathway to the old Raiders mystique, is it? I can't say for sure what Hayes or Haynes may have done had a WR who torched them for two TDs compounded the injury with the insult of spitting in their face. But something tells me that their reaction might have been a bit stronger than crying to the League Office. I'm guessing guys like that just might have taken it upon themselves to kick the offender's ass. But maybe that's the difference between an NFL Hall of Famer and an overpriced fraud.As you are all aware, the NCAA tournament is underway, and has been for a round and a half at this point. And all I can say is that I am very depressed. I tune into games desperately seeking the greatest broadcaster of all time and find that he isn't allowed to broadcast every game. And don't give me any static about one man being unable to broadcast multiple games concurrently. Based on what I read from Bill Simmons and his legion of minions, Gus Johnson can eat lightning and crap thunder. So he surely can broadcast three different college basketball games in three different cities in three different time zones and fix the plot holes and inconsistencies in Shakespeare all at the same time.I guess it's fair to say, at this point, that I am somewhat less than impressed by the cult of Gus Johnson. I've watched football and basketball games he's called for a few years now, and I just don't see what makes him so special. In fact, if I had to do some sort of blind test, a sort of Pepsi challenge for sports announcers, I don't know that I could tell the difference between Johnson and Kevin Harlan or Kenny Albert or mediocre broadcaster X.This year's first round slate marked the longest span of time in which my sweet sixteen survived intact in at least five years. Generally, I lose at least one (and often a Final Four team) in the first set of games on the first day of the tournament. It's just a natural result of picking games based on personal animosities as opposed to logic and/or reason. But it can be embarrassing.This year's casualty was UConn. And they played a very entertaining and nerve-racking game before falling in OT to the UCSD Torreros. The other teams I had picked to win in the first round who fell short were Winthrop (after watching Tom Tuttle from Tacoma fold in Communis[...]



So, the NCAA tournament is again upon us. I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much lately, but I haven't really had all that much to say. I'm staying away from commenting on the Celtics because my comments on the Red Sox throughout last season looked fairly ridiculous when October's travesty finally played itself out. And I just haven't really been all that motivated to watch a lot of college basketball these days.One of the problems, I suppose, when it comes right down to it is that I hate Duke and I hate North Carolina. I just don't want to see either team do well. Nor do I want to see announcers grovelling at the feet of the coaches and players associated with either team. And unfortunately, while one can never escape the latter (especially where Duke is concerned), there was far too much of the former for my taste this season.And then at the end of last week, Illinois launched an improbable, history making run in the Big Ten tournament. Too bad they fell short, but it was still a great story. And you can tell it was a great story, based merely on the reaction of the Chicago media's one man answer to the bubonic plague, Jay Mariotti. I realize I spend a scandalous amount of time in a blog devoted (ostensibly, any way) to the Boston sports landscape shredding a columnist from Chicago. But if ever there were a person who deserves it, it's Mariotti. And since not every one has the time to read fine sites like Jay the Joke and Boise Wants Jay, there's always room in this space to let Chicagoans know that a few people on the East Coast feel sorry for what they have to endure.I've been thinking this for a long time, but I am now just about convinced that Jay Mariotti is the biggest douche in the continental United States. It seems improbable that a moderately trained chimpanzee could spend a decade or so covering sports and manage after all that time to fail to understand why we watch sports. And yet Mariotti has not developed the faintest inkling of the curious appeal that a team like this season's Illini can have over even the most cynical, relentlessly negative, unpleasant people in America (i.e. me). Illinois had, up until this month began, been one of the big disappointments in college basketball. They could do a few things effectively enough to hang in most of the games they lost, but they didn't do enough of those things well enough to win, or even be a particularly watchable team. And all of that changed this week, at least except the bit about being particularly watchable.Although, as an aside, I should introduce this anecdote. I have a friend who did a semester abroad at St. Andrews in Scotland, mostly for the academics, naturally, but he managed to get in a round or two of golf. He came back with a term he picked up from the natives to describe what we might call a wormburner. In Scotland, some people call it a Sally Gunnels shot, after some female track star in the distant past. The rationale, as they put it: "She's not pretty but she sure can run." Leaving aside for a moment that which is Scottish and very likely sexist, that was this season's Illini in the Big Ten tournament. In the words of Victor Frankenstein, it wasn't supposed to be this way, it was supposed to be a thing of beauty. But for three and a half games over the course of four days, Illinois reminded us that we look to sports as the last remaining area where David has a shot against Goliath.In every other aspect of our lives, s[...]



The other day, some one sent me a link to Simmons' What If NBA column. I figured I'd pass it on to you, since it was suprisingly good, good enough that I feel I have to give the devil his due. Not only was it good, but it was astonishingly funny. I'm not sure if he's incorporated some new jokes or recycling ones that he beat to death so long ago that I forgot all about them, but it's definitely worth a read.(image)