Monthly Archives: January 2009

Super Bowl Picks

Favorite Spread Dog Done SMC ABA
Pittsburgh -7 Arizona
AZ AZ PIT
Last Week: 0 & 2 2 & 0 2 & 0
Overall: 3& 7
6 & 4
7 & 3

“But Why Arizona?”

A Pittsburgh Fan, you say? You must not think I am snuggly and adorable. You clearly have no heart, soul or emotion.

A Pittsburgh Fan, you say? You must not think I am snuggly and adorable. You clearly have no heart, soul or emotion.

I was told recently by Someone Familiar With The Situation that Kurt Warner made a promise to his children and Mrs. Frankenstein: If he wins the Super Bowl, the family gets a puppy.

There are two things you don’t bet against in this world, and one of them is Puppies. Is it their cute and cuddly nature? Perhaps their indefatigable sense of loyalty?

In truth, no one knows the exact origin of Dog & Man’s companionship, only that it dates back millions of years, possibly the Cretaceous period, but I don’t know for sure, I was not there.

Go Cards.

Go Cards.

All I know, is that every vote for the Pittsburgh Steelers is a vote against democracy, a vote against humanity and a vote against America. And for those of you that read this and say, “You just hate the Steelers because you are a Pats fan and you should get over yourself…”

I say, “Go Screw. You hate Puppies.”

SMC: Arizona 31, Pittsburgh 28

Done: Arizona 28, Pittsburgh 24

ABA: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 17

How could you root for the Steelers and hate me? All I want is to bring joy and loyalty into your life. Dont root for the Steelers... Ruff Ruff!

How could you root for the Steelers and hate me? All I want is to bring joy and loyalty into your life. Don't root for the Steelers... Ruff Ruff!

Hi. Im Moose the Labrador. Every time you clap for the Steelers, a puppy is sent to the pound.

Hi. I'm Moose the Labrador. Every time you clap for the Steelers, a puppy is sent to the pound.

Please dont root for the Steelers. Ill be good, I promise.

Please don't root for the Steelers. I'll be good, I promise.

StartMattCassel

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Done’s Reaction to the Tek Deal… Compliments of SMC

StartMattCassel

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Welcome Back, Catcher.

Red Sox, Varitek agree to one year deal for 2009 with mutual option for ’10. Entire city of Boston stops holding breath and lets out sigh of relief that the pitching staff is going to be fine now. Everybody is happy (except Boras) the Captain gets to leave with dignity in two years, this season is all set, and the catcher of the future has a mentor. It’s great except for the fact that This song keeps running through my head:

He's the Captain.Welcome back, 
Your dreams were your ticket out. 

Welcome back, 
To that same old place that you laughed about. 

Well the names have all changed since you hung around, 
But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around. 

Who’d have thought they’d lead ya (Who’d have thought they’d lead ya) 
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya) 

Yeah we tease him a lot cause we’ve hot him on the spot, welcome back, 
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

13 days. ( Holy god, we’ve almost made it. Truck Day is one week from today.)

Done.

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Waiting……

Never Forget

Never Forget

The Varitek deadline, which nobody was sure about until yesterday as it seems, has come and gone on the east coast. I say east coast because Satan lives on the west coast and to him 8:30 am is 11:30 am Eastern time. So we continue to wait. This day can either end in a great situation for both parties, or an awful one for everybody (including me). Will Varitek sit out? Will he sign? Either way, the Sox are still exploring trades for Saltalamacchia and Montero (more likely, and also more ready to take over as a starting catcher) and we will know later in the day. 

Meanwhile, Jayson Stark has a great column on ESPN.com about how to make the World Series more like the Superbowl. and don’t forget to read ABA’s latest Celtics breakdown (below).

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Reloaded

Mavericks Celtics BasketballThis past week has sure been a busy one.  The Celtics have certainly hit their stride again after a case of early-January blues.  Now in possession of the longest current winning streak at 9 games, and the second best overall record, the C’s have reasserted themselves as the team to beat.  Last Thursday we played a tremendous statement game against the Orlando Magic, at Orlando.  We kept arguably the leagues most dominant center to a paltry 11 points.  The defensive philosophy of holding Howard in check, and making the other starters work hard to score was a successful antidote.  Assuming of course their bench wouldn’t show up, and after just a 10 point effort, it was evident they were nowhere to be found.  As good as they are, there’s no substitute for scoring when there’s no substitutes who can score, and that is Orlando’s achilles heel.  The C’s won 90-80, en route to a showdown against one of the supposed premiere western conference talents, the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Ah the Mavs, on paper they have some serious talent, a Hall of Fame point guard in Jason Kidd, arguably the best 6th man in the game Jason Terry and an elite do-it-all power forward Dirk Nowitzki.  Their record may not show it but, they will as always make the first round of the playoffs, but then per their norm, make

Soft like puddin'

Soft like puddin'

an early exit from the dance so Dirk can get drunk and play video games.  But there’s a common theme here in regards to the big German, every year he is one of the leagues premier regular-season scorers, but you never get the sense that the team is a legitimate threat for Finals contention.  Like everything, there’s a reason, in a word, he’s soft.  Where I come from when a guy has all that talent and height, but folds when another great talent stands in his way, people call him “big for nothing”.  The guy’s got moves for days and can shoot with the leagues best, but as the face of the franchise, it disgusts me that he’s got no real toughness when it counts (the playoffs).  That said the Celtics and KG made an example of him yet again to the tune of 124-100.  Who was the leading scorer for the Mavs this night; you guessed it, Jason Terry (27 points), the veteran who plays like he’s still in his mid twenties, aka this teams saving grace.  Although we won handily (up 74-47 at halftime) a very unpleasant thing happened, Boston beloved power forward and favorite red-headed son, suffered the first of two concussions in the span of three days (once against Dallas and once in practice), taking him out of the lineup for about a week (Scalspals don’t kill yourselves).

At the beginning of the season, there was speculation as to how Boston would replace James Posey and the intangibles he brought to the hardwood every night.  I and probably everyone else assumed that there was no real replacement for him, and we would need to just make due without him.  But then a funny thing happened, Perkins injures his shoulder and Scalabrine gets inserted into the lineup as a starter and vuala, a guy who makes things happen on the court a la Posey.  His defensive savvy and ability to stretch defenses with the three ball, makes him a legitimate threat, along with his size in the same way Posey frustrated other teams off the bench, he’s even got the attitude to match.  He’s the last piece to the championship puzzle weather you realize it or not, the guy who everyone wants to succeed, but didn’t realistically think would, has now definitively left his mark on the team, and I guarantee will now be a much more intricate part of the lineup upon his return.

Who raised you?!

Who raised you?!

Wednesday, with Scal’s watching from the sidelines the C’s faced off against the Sacramento Kings.  While the Celtics hadn’t played since Sunday, the Kings were fresh off a loss from Cleveland the night before.  It couldn’t be more evident which team was sharper at the start of the game as the Kings opened up an early 10 point lead, shooting 9 for 10 from the field.  Actually for the first quarter and a half the Kings were on top largely due to the Celtics being a step slow on both ends of the court.  Early referee trouble severely hampered the starters production, specifically Pierce and Perkins, stumbling the offense until the second team all-stars got us back into the game.  On a not-so-small side note, the refereeing this season in the NBA has been the most inconsistent, unprofessional and game changing bunch of shenanigans I’ve ever seen.  It’s absolutely atrocious, I guess the Tim Donaghy scandal and the successive probe into NBA refs, was enough for them to band together and completely f*$% the league over with poorly officiated games and phantom calls.  You know someone (Donaghy) somewhere is laughing their ass off every night and making a bunch of money.  Yea I said it!  Apologies for the tangent but I’ve held my tongue as long as I could about this, enough is enough, if this continues into the playoffs, it may just be a long disappointing summer.

But I digress, midway through the second quarter the bench was mounting a comeback, and “Towny” Tommy Heinsohn was leading the charge from the sidelines with a headset on.  There is nobody more entertaining when the Celts are doing really good or really bad.  Among other ridiculous things that were said, we were privy to the new nick names for Glen Davis and Eddie House; Glen

Oooo weeeee I'm hot!

Exhibit A: The Smoking Gun

“Big Adolescent” Davis whose apparently growing up right before our eyes, and Eddie “Mansion” which actually has a nice ring to it.  Once the Celtics got their motors running there was no looking back.  The lead finally swung in our favor early in the second, and that’s when Eddie “Mansion” went off.  It’s no secret he’s been on fire lately trying to set a new personal best for himself in 3-point shooting, but he certainly outdid himself on this night scorching the nets for 8 out of 9 attempts and ending with a game high 28 points.  Even Tony Allen, who had been sidelined because of an ankle injury showed up and almost had a double double with 10 points and 8 boards.

All seems to be right in the world, we’ve got a new president who isn’t the butt of every joke, and the C’s just took back the best record in the league (38-9) with Cleveland’s loss to Orlando last night.  But the real test and arguably biggest game of the regular season will come next week when we have our much vaunted rematch against the evil LA Lakers.  In the meantime entertain yourselves with the next few games:  Tonight 7pm @ Detroit, Sunday 12pm at home vs. Minnesota and Tuesday 7pm @ Philadelphia.  Or just watch reruns of the last Presidency, either way it’ll be good fun.

Out

ABA

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Artificial Turf: The Media Day Hoax

Sports Fans, Media Day is a hoax. First off, all the players have been “media trained.” For those of you not in the trade (I’m not either… i just know what media training is), it means that everyone is conditioned to give canned responses to about 85 versions of the same question. You won’t hear any bulletin board material, and when you do… you can’t trust it.

I site first the infrequently stopped at podium of NFL Sack Leader, James Harrison. Here’s a guy that is never afraid to be outspoken, and as could be expected… was. When asked by some unnamed reporter if the Steelers D scheme would be the same we’ve seen all season and if Harrison liked the game plan he responded: “Hell no I don’t like it one bit.”

“Why not?” the Reporter replied.

“Because it doesn’t focus of my talents and doesn’t use me to the best of my abilities.”

The Steelers James Harrison. He even looks like an old time football dog. This image could be hung right up there with the Greats, Dick Butkis, The Original LT... you name it.

The Steeler's James Harrison. He even looks like an old time football dog. This image could be hung right up there with the Greats, Dick Butkis, The Original LT... you name it.

This, presumably, means that the scheme will have him dropping into pass coverage to help stay the Desert Birds’ air attack. Now… this is a man who had 16 sacks in the regular season, is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year and an All Star… telling me that the D Heavy Steelers AREN’T going to unleash him on Kurt Warner?! I don’t buy it. Harrison will be comin, Kurt. Don’t believe a thing he said.

Media day, though necessary for the NFL Network and a choice few good remarks, is fairly useless. The real writers could care less. Draft Day, The week after the regular season when coaches get canned, the end of pre-season and the trade deadline; THOSE are the real Media Days.

***

Tom Brady... rehabbing. Hard.

Tom Brady... rehabbing. Hard.

Now, on to Brady: 1st of all, to those that read the Boston Herald, or more-so, to those that read the Herald and then get pissy when you see images of him in Costa Rica kissing his amazonian beauty… get over yourself. If he wasn’t in Costa Rica, and he wasn’t kissing his ridiculously hot underwear model girlfriend (or faience or wife… depending on what celeb gossip site you read), I would be supremely worried about him.

And just like media day… don’t believe a word you hear about the progress of his rehab. Don’t believe Him when he goes on Canadian radio shows to hype his pain cream (the white, not the clear), don’t believe the media when they tell you there is a “source familiar with the situation,” and definitely do not believe anything the Pats tell you. BELIEVE ME: Brady should have had the surgery at Mass General Hospital, where they perform 15 a week, not some childhood physician who trembles under the knife and causes career and rehab threatening infection. Bad. Move.

I believe Brady will be starting under center game one of next season and that Cassel will be somewhere else, possible Jacksonville. But that… just like EVERY other report you hear… is mere speculation… even fantasy in my case.

***

James Harrison makes the case against Streaking.

James Harrison makes the case against Streaking.

Super Bowl picks coming tomorrow. Who YOU takin?

StartMattCassel

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Snow Days and farewells.

It is a sad day here at the ballpark as we say goodbye to two of our favorites, albeit in different ways. Sean Casey, only a member of the Red Sox for one year, but beloved none the less, has decided to retire. In 12 years in the Majors Sean hit 130 HRs, had 735 RBI and a .302 lifetime batting average.

The Mayor

The Mayor

Those numbers are great, numbers that anyone would be happy with, but his more lasting influence is with the people in the communities in which he played. Known around the league as “the Mayor” for his gregarious personality and work with causes, Casey first came to my attention because of his connection to a Lawrence organization that he had been helping from afar for years. He had never played or lived in the area, but still had community connections. When he joined the team last season as a backup first baseman/corner outfielder, I was thrilled, as he has been productive everywhere he went and was comfortable stepping into the back up role. He was a great interview, good teammate and, when not dealing with a nagging neck problem, solid player with the Sox. Towards the end of the season the injuries and his defensive liabilities held him out of the lineup, but he still hit .322 for the season.  Thanks to Sean for all the good he did in the community and on the field in his short time with the Sox and I hope he sticks around. Good Luck.

John Updike in 1955, probably thinking about how awesome Ted Williams is.

John Updike in 1955, probably thinking about how awesome Ted Williams is.

The other farewell is of a much sadder variety. John Updike, the two time Pulitzer Prize winning author and avid Red Sox fan, passed on yesterday of lung cancer at age 76. He was best known for the novel Rabbit, Run but I have always known him for his tribute to the greatest hitter ever to swing a bat. When he attended the last game of Ted Williams’ career in September of 1960, Updike witnessed what was the exclamation point on the career of his team’s greatest player. How he captured it is the way I will always remember both the subject and the author.

Fisher, after his unsettling wait, was wide with the first pitch. He put the second one over, and Williams swung mightily and missed. The crowd grunted, seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed, naked in its failure. Fisher threw the third time, Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle, behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in the books while it was still in the sky. Brandt ran back to the deepest corner of the outfield grass; the ball descended beyond his reach and struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and, as far as I could see, vanished.

Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted “We want Ted” for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.

We bid a fond farewell to the poet laureate of Red Sox Nation, the first man to call Fenway “a lyric little bandbox” and the man who gave us the right words to say goodbye to our greatest hero. Thanks, John, and I hope there are ballgames year round wherever you may be now. 

It’s snowing again, and all I can do to make myself feel better about it is to remember that in only 15 days people will be wearing the stylized B and playing baseball on the sun soaked fields of Ft. Myers. 

Go Sox. 

15 Days. 

Done. 

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