Recent Comments by Howard_T

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 2

This stupid game with a rubber disc is strange. The one with the big brown ball is easier to pick.

Tampa Bay in 5
Washington in 5
Dallas in 6
San Jose in 6 No need to change this one. It will hold no matter the opponent.

Top goal scorer: Ovechkin (Sooner or later he will break loose.)
Save %: Holtby
Power play percentage: Washington
Most goals per game: Dallas

posted by Howard_T at 04:03 PM on April 27

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

crazy stuff in MLB update

It must be something in the air, because Boston had to go 12 to beat Houston last night. After Boston went ahead by 2 in the 3rd, there was no further scoring -- until a Carlos Correa double and a Colby Rasmus home run off of closer Craig Kimbrell tied it in the bottom of the 9th. Heath Hembree pitched 3 scoreless for the win. Boston scored the winning runs with a pair of lead-off singles and a sacrifice bunt. This was followed by a 13-pitch walk to Ryan Hanigan that loaded the bases, and an RBI single by Jackie Bradley, Jr. A force play at the plate made it 2 out, but Hanigan scored on a wild pitch by losing pitcher Ken Giles, giving Boston an insurance run. A pair of strikeouts with 2 on ended it.

My wife and I got home from the Celtics game quite late (Boston's ever reliable untrustworthy MBTA plays a role here), so I turned on the TV to get the scores. Lo and behold, the game was still going, so I had to stay up until the end.

posted by Howard_T at 12:38 PM on April 25

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

another bizarre play in MLB.

Well that's one that hasn't happened to me -- yet. The dead ball rule comes into use quite often when you play on open fields with trees and shrubbery not far from the foul lines. The ground rules often include something like "if it hits the bushes out there in left field it is a two base award, but if it hits the tree branches, it is four bases".

posted by Howard_T at 01:43 PM on April 21

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

CUP CHECK!!!

posted by Howard_T at 01:36 PM on April 21

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

you'll still see something you've never seen before.

If any of you have ever umpired a game at the middle school level, Little League, Cal Ripken League, Babe Ruth, or any other youth baseball, you will see something new almost every game. It makes umpiring a whole new adventure with every trip to the field.

On the play in question: It is unmistakably a balk. Any motion a pitcher makes, once he has committed to delivering a pitch to the plate, that is not a part of his normal delivery is a balk. In this case the little hop is not a part of his normal delivery and it may be seen as an attempt to deceive the base runner. I really don't know why there was any problem with the call in the first place. The video gives the impression that the plate umpire made the call, and the 1st base umpire agreed. We don't know which of the other two disagreed, but the plate blue should have simply said that it is his call and it will stand.

The thing that saves us umpires at the middle school level is the agreement that we will grant one balk per pitcher as a learning experience, with no advance by the runners. It saves a lot of arguments, and the coaches appreciate the chance to teach the game.

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 PM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Vin Scully tells his Jackie Robinson story on Jackie Robinson day

So maybe it should be Gene Hernansky Day?

Alfred Hitchcock explains baseball

All tha is missing is Gounod's Funeral March of the Marionettes playing in the background.

posted by Howard_T at 01:36 PM on April 17

NBA Approves Advertising on Uniforms

The high school rule book says that manufacturers' logos may appear on the visible parts of a team's official uniform. These are restricted to a size of 2 1/4 square inches, with any one dimension not to exceed 2 1/4 inches. The case book says that there is no NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) rule prohibiting commercial advertising on uniforms, but states may have rules prohibiting it.

posted by Howard_T at 11:09 PM on April 15

SpoFi NBA Playoff Pick 'Em 2016 is a go!

Thanks for the catch, Ufez. I didn't read the fine print.

Highest score for a team in one game: 122
High individual score in one game: 43

posted by Howard_T at 09:52 PM on April 14

SpoFi NBA Playoff Pick 'Em 2016 is a go!

OK, Ufez, I'll play your little game. Playoff predictions are never my thing, but we will see.

Cleveland in 5
Toronto in 4
Charlotte in 6 My upset special number 1
Boston in 7 My upset special number 2

Golden State in 5 Houston actually pulls one game out.
San Antonio in 4
Oklahoma City in 6 Dirk Nowitzki is not enough.
LA Clippers in 7 Portland will be a tough nut to crack, but Doc has all his troops playing.

posted by Howard_T at 01:17 PM on April 14

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

what are you watching tonight

the Celtics have pooped their pants

They'd fallen off a cliff the last few games so I gave up.

My wife and I were at the Celtics last night, and after that nightmare of a first half we were almost ready to leave. I wanted to stick around at the half when the '66, '76, and '86 NBA Championship teams were honored. A lot of the greats were there, including Bill Russell who drew a long standing ovation when introduced. Maybe something rubbed off, but all of a sudden the shots from everywhere that had been dropping for Miami were falling into the hands of Celtics rebounders. The shots started falling for Boston, and the Boston defense denied Miami the easy baskets and turned steals and rebounds into fast break layups. Maybe it was coincidental, but defense, rebounds, and fast breaks are the things that Red Auerbach lived by, and on a night when his name was often mentioned, they were featured.

My wife does not often come to the games with me. Last night showed me why this is not a bad thing. In the second half, every time a Miami shot went up, she was on her feet screaming NO NO NO. She does the same thing at home when she's watching an away game on TV. This from a nice, quiet, mature lady who used to take her knitting to the games when we were Baltimore Skipjacks (AHL) season ticket holders about 30 years ago.

posted by Howard_T at 01:11 PM on April 14

Kobe Bryant Scores 60 in Final NBA Game

I got home from the Celtics game last night just in time to watch enough of the Warriors game to make sure they would get the record. Then I turned to the Lakers vs Jazz. Kobe was having a pretty good game, but Lakers were trailing. I was hoping for a good performance followed by a Lakers win, but it seemed to be out of the question. Understand I had just watched Boston overcome a 26-point deficit to pull out a 10-point win, so I figured anything was possible. Then Kobe put it all on his shoulders and went off for what ranks as one of the best individual performances of his career. What a great way to go out! I was an acknowledged Kobe hater until a couple of years ago, but he changed my mind when he refused to quit in a game against Boston, when the rest of a bad Lakers team was going through the motions. He showed what greatness is all about.

posted by Howard_T at 12:53 PM on April 14

SportsFilter's NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Now

I assume that's what Howard_T's entry is as well.

You assume correctly, grum.

Please make the appropriate correction to my entry, rcade.

posted by Howard_T at 02:57 PM on April 13

SportsFilter's NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Now

For 2 years in 1965 - 1966 I had the only copy of The Hockey News on Okinawa. My Mom took out a subscription for me while I was manning a Mark 1, Modification 3, steel desk in the US Army. That makes me such an expert (well, OK, I know what a puck looks like).

Florida in 5

Tampa in 4

Washington in 6

Pittsburgh in 7

Anaheim in 6

Los Angeles in 4

Minnesota in 7

Chicago in 7

Leading goal scorer East: Ovechkin

Leading goal scorer West: Benn

posted by Howard_T at 10:25 PM on April 12

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

I'm watching the pre-game festivities from Fenway Park before the Red Sox play their home opener. As usual, it was a bit overdone, but there were a couple of moments worth mentioning. On the pleasant side, the National Anthem was sung by David Ortiz's daughter. The fun part was that Ortiz did not know she was to be the singer until she was introduced, and the look on his face was priceless. Young MS Ortiz has a decent voice and did a good job on the Anthem.

The sad part was seeing who was throwing out the first pitch. Patriots' star Ty Law, Bruins' immortal Bobby Orr, Celtics' legend Bill Russell, and Ortiz were those who threw the first pitch. The sad part is twofold. First, placing Ortiz into the same category as the other 3 is a bit premature. Maybe he is deserving, maybe not. He certainly contributed a great deal to the success the team has had during his time here.

The second, and really sad part, was watching Bill Russell. Instead of waiting in the dugout to be introduced, Russell sat in a chair along the fence behind 3rd base. He needed to be helped to the area near the mound to deliver his pitch, and the throw itself was quite feeble. In December of 1956 I sat in the first balcony seats in Boston Garden and watched the young Bill Russell make his NBA debut. Now, nearly 60 years later, I see what time has done to a man whom I will always remember as athletic, strong, graceful, and a leader. Time is doing the same things to me, but I know it cannot be avoided. It makes me think too much about my own fate to see what the calendar can do, but I will not allow it to slow me down. As old and feeble as Russell appeared today, I will always see him leaping to block a shot, recovering the ball, and making the perfect outlet pass to a streaking Bob Cousy.

posted by Howard_T at 02:24 PM on April 11

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Final Week

The schedule has left us with some tough games to pick. It starts with tonight's promise of a classic in San Antonio. Warriors need a win to beat Chicago's record; Spurs want to keep their clean sheet at home. Who will prevail? Atlanta needs a win at Cleveland to maintain it's lock on 3rd in the East. Will Cleveland rest the regulars on Monday, or will they play it to win? Miami at Boston will be another game vital to the chances of both teams. 3rd through 5th place in the East is on the line, and both teams want to finish looking forward to having the home advantage in the first round of the playoffs. While all of this is going on, some of the teams will be resting regulars and others, out of the post season, will be trying to make statements about their statements for next season. It's going to be a very hard week to predict.

10 April

Golden State by 6 Coach Kerr has left it up to the players whether or not to go for the record. They will try.

11 April

Atlanta by 12 Cleveland rests the regulars
Sacramento by 9 Phoenix tries to improve its draft position.

12 April

San Antonio by 10 Neither team has anything to gain, but San Antonio's bench is better.
LA Clippers by 8 Another case where standings are not affected.

13 April

Boston by 12 Celtics bear down, clinch 4th in the East, and push Miami to 6th.
Golden State by 15 SLAM The record belongs to the Warriors.
LA Lakers by 9 Kobe has the floor for his final dance, and the music is Jazz.

I wanted the NBA contest to go out on a high note

This has been a fun contest, and I don't say that because of any success I have had. You might have guessed I'm a long time NBA fan, so anything to do with the game holds great interest for me. Many thanks, 'Cade, for running it; it's been on a high note all season.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on April 10

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: 16 Days Left in the Season

I'm glad the Celtics are off tonight, otherwise I would be at the game and miss making the picks. These next 2 weeks could mean the entire season, both here and on the various courts. Here goes:

05 April

Miami by 9 but I will be rooting for the upset.
Golden State by 14 Make this one a SLAM Warriors will not lose 2 in a row at home.

posted by Howard_T at 07:12 PM on April 05

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Incredible ending for today's T20 World Cup.

Just shared this with my cousin in Trinidad who is quite excited about it. His father, my uncle, was a pretty fair pace bowler on Barbados. There has been some controversy over Brathwaite and others not wishing to play test cricket for West Indies because of money and a variety of other things, but I guess the limited overs game at the World Cup level suits them better.

posted by Howard_T at 08:45 PM on April 03

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: 16 Days Left in the Season

Holy hell, this week.

Last night's results really hurt me in the pick 'em, but pleased me greatly in the heart. Atlanta's loss to Cleveland helps Boston's playoff positioning, and of course the unexpected Celtics' win over Warriors had me nearly screaming (restraint was necessary due to sleeping wife and cats). The NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, outside of the #1 and #2 positions, are a real scramble. I'm hoping for a Boston finish in 3rd or 4th, thereby giving Celtics a decent chance of a first round series win. I have my playoff tickets reserved, Section 316, Row 5, seats 9 & 10.

In the pick 'em I feel like a team that has had a really great first half and a decent 3rd quarter but is hanging on by its fingernails in the 4th. I'm not hitting my shots, but the other team has not put a strong run together -- yet. Just a handful of games remaining. It will be fun.

posted by Howard_T at 02:15 PM on April 02

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: 16 Days Left in the Season

I really thought I had had a bad week, but as I look at the results, I feel like someone who couldn't sink a shot from the field but was solid from the free throw line. The defense was pretty good too. The biggest question this week is which of Golden State's games to pick as my slam. I am not going to feel secure, even with the big lead. The Eastern Conference games are getting hard to predict, especially with the teams in the 3 - 7 spots. Here goes:

29 March

Cleveland by 15
Golden State by 18 SLAM

31 March

Houston by 6
Oklahoma City by 10 (There's some delicious irony in Paul Pierce injuring his ankle vs Boston)

01 April

Happy 75th, Howard

Atlanta by 11
Golden State by 15 (Would that I could pick my Celtics with any degree of surety)

03 April

Oklahoma City by 9 (I really don't trust this pick, but I will make it anyway)

posted by Howard_T at 05:28 PM on March 29

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

This is always part of the ground rules briefing whenever I am umpiring a game. The outfield fences are not in the best of shape, and we will ask the home coach to tell us of any areas in which the ball can be trapped or roll underneath. Many of the fields are unfenced, and the grass at the margins of the field is allowed to grow. Balls have been lost, not just to sight, but lost for good (or at least some kid finds it after a week or two). What I will tell the coaches about balls under the fence or lost in the grass is to have the fielder raise his hand if he cannot get to the ball without moving something or cannot locate the ball immediately. I will then add the warning that time will not be called until the play is complete, and if the umpire (usually the field umpire, the plate blue is wearing too much gear, or like me is too old to run all the way out to the outfield) judges that the ball was playable, the play will stand. If the umpire agrees with the fielder, then it will be a 2-base award and any other runners will be placed as they should be by rule. I can't believe Cespedes doesn't know the rule. Maybe he just didn't feel like bending over.

posted by Howard_T at 09:38 PM on March 25

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

To get a bit more serious, my cousin in Holland has posted that Johann Cruijff, the legendary Dutch football star, has passed away from cancer. She shared a tribute to him from DutchReview.com Cruijff was "before my time" in that I did not seriously follow soccer until perhaps 15 or 20 years ago. Even at that, I had heard of him but did not realize just how great a player he was.

posted by Howard_T at 10:24 PM on March 24

ESPN attempts to shame Cuba; backfires badly.

Was this really an attempt to embarrass Cuba or an attempt to show how Cuba is trying to maintain a love of sports despite its impoverishment? Such impoverishment might be blamed on US trade embargoes by those of a certain political persuasion. Much depends upon your interpretation.

posted by Howard_T at 03:10 PM on March 23

NFL Adds Rule for Automatic Ejections After 2 Personal Fouls

How long will it take before someone does the soccer flop because the opposition put his hand on his chest during a heated moment?

I really don't think referees will call personal fouls for a simple push in the chest, even when there is one of those frequent pushing and shoving contests that involve some interesting words that one does not teach his kids. The officials will be looking for the actual punch, the deliberate head butt, unsafe hits on defenseless receivers, illegally lifting the QB's skirt, and other such things. My fearless prediction is that there will be a number of ejections in the first few weeks of the season, and as the season goes on, you will see fewer and fewer. The players will adjust to the rule, and more importantly, the officials will figure out what is really a personal foul worthy of ejection and what is not.

As I wrote the above I was watching the NFL channel airing a playoff game from 2009, New England vs San Diego. Toward the end of the game a New England defender jumped across the line before the snap, and Phillip Rivers would up on his backside from the contact. Now the contact was from someone being knocked into Rivers, and it was not very hard, but it looked bad. Guess what -- no call except for the offside. Then at the very end of the game, with a few seconds on the clock, after it had been decided by a missed San Diego field goal attempt, New England players ran around the field waving their helmets in celebration. A flag was thrown and New England was penalized for removing their helmets. Technically this was a personal foul. Do you eject any of them who had one previous PF? Part 2 of the fearless prediction, you will see a lot of "situational" calls by the officials. Once again, this promises to be a weird season in the NFL.

posted by Howard_T at 03:06 PM on March 23

Tennis Tourney Exec: Women Ride Men's Coattails, But They're Attractive

How long would a soccer match be if they just kept playing until someone won (without shootouts)?

While this is a bit off topic, one answer is given by the recent Hockey East Men's Tournament. Providence College and UMass Lowell went 3 overtime periods to reach a decision in a game that went 4 hours and 26 minutes. The really hard part was that Lowell had to play the following evening in the final against Northeastern. The advantage for Northeastern might have been mitigated somewhat by the fact that Lowell played the first game of the semifinals, thus they got to bed at a reasonable hour. Northeastern's game did not end until a few minutes before 1:00 AM. If Lowell was at all tired, it was not obvious, as the final ended in a 3-2 Northeastern win, NU hanging on by their fingernails in the last 2 or 3 minutes.

As I think about it, the way energy is expended in ice hockey is similar to the demands of tennis. Players go all out for short bursts of 30 seconds to 1 minute. They will be on the ice for about 15 to 20 minutes total in the game, perhaps as long as 40 minutes for your top defenseman. Tennis demands the same sort of brief but violent expenditure of energy, followed by a bit of rest. It's not identical by any means, but there is a similarity. I did manage to watch a little of the Hockey East Women's Tournament. Guess what; the women play by the same rules as the men, the games last the same 60 minutes, and involve the same skills and exertion of energy, minus the heavy body contact, as the men's game. The game is a bit slower, but not by much. Women's tennis requires the same skills as the men's game, although serves are generally not as hard, and some of the lower-ranked women move a bit more slowly, but I believe the analogy holds. Women should easily be able to play the longer matches. Guys, this weaker sex idea is a bunch of crap.

rcade, I take issue with one small point you raised. You said the fans have supported equal prize money going back to the 1970s. I would suggest that it is not so much support as resignation to a fait accompli, perhaps you might call it indifference. Those who are fans of tennis want to see tennis. Who gets how much for playing is of little concern.

posted by Howard_T at 02:43 PM on March 23

Tennis Tourney Exec: Women Ride Men's Coattails, But They're Attractive

grum has contributed another good analysis and an excellent rebuttal of the arguments against it. The "women earn 77 cents for each dollar a man earns" argument also needs some analysis. This, by Glenn Kessler, from April 2, 2015 in The Washington Post is a fairly well-reasoned debunking of that.

To be sure, there are gaps in pay for women vs men, but they are neither as stark as the 77 cent (or the updated 78 cent) number would indicate, nor are they solely the result of discriminatory practices in the workplace. However, tennis gives us the unique place to measure differences. Should women, having the expectation of working approximately 0.6 times what a man would work (per grum's analysis), be paid equally? If one goes by the standard of drawing power, TV money, and ticket sales, the analysis must be extended a bit. I would argue that the TV ratings and ticket demand for men's and women's matches in the quarterfinals and later matches are roughly equal. I would also argue that those matches that feature the highly ranked men against the "mid-level" players are slightly more attractive than the same sort of matches on the women's side. I have no figures to support this claim. It is subjective and based only upon what I feel. Take it for what it is worth. What I am getting at is that the top prize money for the women and the men (top 4 places0 should be equal, but this is based only on the probable demand for tickets and TV rights for the match. For the lower finishers, I would award the prize money on the basis of 60 cents on the dollar for women vs men, and this is based solely on the above analysis.

Now to throw a bit of gasoline on the fire. The question was asked by billsaysthis why the women played best of three rather than best of five. Good question. It is really historical precedent, but the reason for the precedent is the thing that might have feminists carrying pitchforks and torches to the gates of Wimbledon. Women are the weaker sex!!! At least that was the thinking many years ago when tennis began to organize tournaments. Now try to explain this to a feminist without getting your head handed to you. So here's the simple solution to the dilemma. Ask the women either to play 5-set matches or to have their prize money reduced. If they decline, then say to them that they are reinforcing the fiction that women are the weaker sex and they cannot do all of the things that a man can do. Will this not put the ardent feminist into a bit of a quandary? I think I would like to watch the fireworks as this point is argued.

posted by Howard_T at 11:23 AM on March 23

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

Houston, we have a problem.

Suspicions confirmed: Houston is a selfish basketball team. Perhaps it is because they lack the pieces to spread the offense around, perhaps it is because a few of their players do not feel that playing defense is part of a basketball game. I watched the second half of their game last night, after I got home from watching my Celtics put in one of their worst efforts of the season, and I was very disappointed in what I saw. My advice to myself is that if they show up in the pick-em again, playing anything more than a mediocre bottom-feeder of a team, don't pick them. If they can run around on offense, do what they want to do, rebound a little, and trust the opponent to self-destruct, then they will win and win big. Otherwise, they will find a way to lose. UGH.

Why, oh why, did I let myself believe they could beat the Clippers. I knew better, but I didn't want to face the ugly possibilities.

posted by Howard_T at 01:47 PM on March 17

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

I'm beginning to look at Cleveland with "a jaundiced eye". (I don't know who originated that expression, but it serves well here.) Utah can be very tough with their size in the paint, but can be beaten if you run your offense with good ball movement. I said Utah could win with a near-perfect game. Their game was really good last night, but I would not consider it near-perfect. Rather, Cleveland put together a stinker. There was far too much free-lance offense, the defensive scheme seemed unfocused, and overall they looked like a team that just wanted to get out of the building and onto the plane home. If the expectations in Cleveland are for the Cavaliers to make it to the NBA finals, someone needs to get that team playing hard every game. There is an element there that makes them a very vulnerable team that will disappoint their fans. Is it coaching? That's part of it, but unless the coach has some real power to bench or even dismiss some players (and believe it or not I do not include one Mr. James in that group), it will continue. They have a bad habit of trying to turn it on and off, depending on the opponent and situation.

posted by Howard_T at 03:18 PM on March 15

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

I'm watching ESPN right now, and it's Detroit at Washington, not Memphis at Houston. Is there some regional thing working here?

posted by Howard_T at 08:17 PM on March 14

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

The last contest week was certainly not one of my better efforts. Of course, Golden State threw everyone under the bus with their strange effort against Lakers. This week must be better, else I might return to mere mortality. My son and I will be at the Oklahoma City vs Boston game, and I will do what I can from the balcony to influence the outcome.

14 Mar

Houston by 6 Memphis is missing too much to beat a good team, but Houston is unpredictable.
Cleveland by 12 Utah can surprise, but only if they play a near-perfect game.

16 Mar

Oklahoma City by 10 SLAM in Beantown. Celtics are missing Crowder and will be on the 2nd night of a back-to-back.
Houston by 6 I do not trust Houston, but Clippers have also been erratic.

19 Mar

Golden State by 7 This will be an epic matchup and not decided until the last 30 seconds.

posted by Howard_T at 05:17 PM on March 14

Snowmobiler Strikes Iditarod Team, Killing Dog

I understand that Jeff King is from my current city of residence, Nashua, NH. The SOB claims he was driving the snowmobile while drunk? The guy would have to be really smoked to repeat the attacks on more than one team, and in one case circled back to attempt to hit the team and driver repeatedly. This is one case where I really hope that the law in Alaska provides some draconian punishment.

posted by Howard_T at 02:41 PM on March 13

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

06 March 2016

Golden State Warriors 95, Los Angeles Lakers 112

W T F ???

posted by Howard_T at 08:28 PM on March 06

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

This native Bostonian had the privilege of reading his articles and columns regularly in The Boston Globe. It did not matter what the subject was, nor what was Collins' particular point of view, he was always interesting and fun to read. I remember his work on WGBH, the Public TV station in Boston. He did tennis, of course, but also I remember him doing commentary on college ice hockey when WGBH regularly broadcast the games. While watching the Celtics on TV tonight, the play-by-play announcer, Mike Gorman, gave a brief eulogy of Collins. Gorman said he had called basketball games with Collins doing commentary. While Gorman did not specify where, I suspect this was when Gorman was the announcer for Providence College. Gorman also related the story that Bud Collins had insisted that NBC employ Gorman to do tennis with him at the Barcelona Olympic Games, giving Gorman an important assist in gaining future assignments with NBC. Tom Heinsohn, the former Celtic and now part-time color man on the Celtics broadcast contributed the information that Bud Collins and the late Celtics' coach Red Auerbach regularly played tennis together, and that Auerbach's "backcourt" dink-and-dunk game was the counter to Collins. Bud Collins was far more than a tennis announcer.

posted by Howard_T at 10:24 PM on March 04

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18

At the time the pick-em was posted, I was blithely pushing my truck at about 80 mph on MA Rte 3 southbound near the interchange with Rte 128 (sorry, it's now I-95, but not to those of us who have lived here longer than 40 years) on my way to the Celtics vs Portland game. Please don't tell the MA State Police about this. The speed limit on Rte 3 is 55 mph. Of course, if you hold to 55, you place yourself in imminent danger of being destroyed by people like me. Met up with my son, enjoyed a few beers with him, really enjoyed the game, and now I'm trying to shake the effects of a nasty head cold. I don't regret missing out on last night's picks. I would have missed on the Thunder vs Clippers. I would have picked San Antonio, but most likely would have missed the spread. Oh well, let's see what we can do with the rest of the week.

03 March

San Antonio by 7
Golden State by 9

04 March

Cleveland by 12
Atlanta by 6

05 March

Chicago by 11

06 March

Golden State by 14 A SLAM, as the statues in the Star Plaza patiently await the return of Lakers' greatness.

posted by Howard_T at 02:57 PM on March 03

New Rule Takes Out Slides Like Chase Utley's Legbreaker

Oh well, there goes the neighborhood.

Really, as an umpire, I am truly glad this has been done. Trying to convince some coaches that I did not call the "neighborhood" was difficult. I won't say that I never called it that way, but I tried to avoid it. Now I can just concentrate on the play, let my plate blue watch for the interference, and do the drop step and pivot to call the play at first base.

posted by Howard_T at 10:27 PM on February 25

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 17

I really thought I had a bad week last week, and I was looking for my lead to dwindle significantly. Somehow it stayed up there, and I almost question the math involved. Not really. I think it's more like the Republican Party's nominating process. No single competitor to the leader has emerged, but that is not due to anyone's incompetence. At the risk of sounding like that certain blond-haired candidate, "I love the Pace Mannion pick-em, and I will make it great again." Enough demagoguery, let's make some picks.

24 February

Chicago by 3 in a duel between John Wall and Derrick Rose
San Antonio by 14 with a SLAM in the Delta

25 February

New Orleans by 6
Portland by 12

26 February

Atlanta by 8 The still intact Hawks don't let the trade rumors get to them.
LA Lakers by 9 Memphis without Gasol is greatly weakened.

27 February

Golden State by 17 You expected something different?

posted by Howard_T at 04:34 PM on February 24

Cricket Star Kieran Powell Tosses His Bat and Picks Up a Smaller, Rounder One

Windies cricket seems to be in a pretty sorry spot, financially speaking.

My cousins in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago frequently rail about this on Facebook. They seem to place the majority of the blame on the WI Cricket bosses. From the article it sounds like more of the blame might be placed on the international group for giving out smaller slices of the pie. The nature of the West Indies is also to blame. West Indies is not a country, it is scattered nation-islands with small populations, with economies that are small and vulnerable, an inter-island transportation that tends to be unreliable (my T&T cousin regularly posts horror stories of 30 minute flights that require 2 days to complete), and no efficient way of developing a viable professional league. With all of these difficulties in place, and the English cultural heritage losing its influence, I'm surprised the decline in the sport has not been more rapid. It's a pity, as I recently found out that one of my uncles was a decent pace bowler for Barbados back in the day. I would like to think that my mom's family had some small part in perpetuating a tradition.

posted by Howard_T at 04:15 PM on February 24

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Some day, I really hope one of these emergency goalies is going to get into a game.

It has happened more than once. Below is part of an article from Sports Illustrated in November 2014.

"The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 1938, and for one game in the finals, they trusted the net to Alfie Moore, a journeyman minor-leaguer, who subbed in when starter Mike Karakas suffered a broken toe and couldn't get his foot into his skate. Chicago coach Bill Stewart dispatched a search party to locate Moore, who was finally found in a local saloon. With a few drinks in him, Moore spotted the Hawks' crew and asked if there was any chance they might have an extra ticket to the game that night. Instead of a ticket, however, he got a cold shower and had hot coffee forced down his throat. He won the first game, 3 - 1. Though he didn't play again in the series, he did get his name on the Cup and on an inscribed watch that Stewart ordered for him as a token of thanks. But the bigger prize for Moore, by far, was his moment of fleeting glory."

The link to the article

posted by Howard_T at 11:04 PM on February 16

Peyton Manning’s squeaky-clean image was built on lies

I had never heard this before. I'm trying to recall where I might have been during the time period that this story first broke. I cannot use the excuse that I was overseas, but I did spend a lot of time away from home. Still, it was all in the US, so I should have seen this story somewhere. I can only conclude that as soon as the story hit, it was buried, for obvious reasons. I will copy the link and send it on to my son. I'm sure he will be quite interested, he being every bit the Manning hater disliker as I. This story must be spread far and wide.

posted by Howard_T at 06:29 PM on February 13

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

Put me in accord with the additional wild-card lock. It makes sense.

posted by Howard_T at 05:18 PM on February 11

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

throwing their warm ups on the local sideline reporter

It's mostly Jared Sullinger who does this, and yes, Chris Mannix does get along well with the players. He's part of the local broadcast team (Comcast Sports Network, New England), that also includes Mike Gorman, play-by-play announcer for the Celtics for the past 35 years, Tommy Heinsohn (home games only) and former Celtic Brian Scalabrini. Since they are the "home" broadcast team, the relationship with players and coaches is on non-controversial terms. In other words, no hostile questions, support for the team, and more a promotional viewpoint than a strict reporting viewpoint.

posted by Howard_T at 05:12 PM on February 11

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

I would limit the locks in some manner. Perhaps allowing locks only on Thursday night, Sunday night, and Monday Night, would enjance the "special" nature of those games.

posted by Howard_T at 02:59 PM on February 10

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 15

I'm surprised that I was able to open the lead a bit this week. I really thought the Pelicans might be able to beat Lakers and Clippers would do better against a vulnerable Minnesota team. So tonight, wearing my penitential ashes, I will be able to vent my wrath against Doc Rivers and his charges. My son and I will meet at the Paulaner Beer Garden in North Station for a quick Hacker-Pschorr Gold, grab a couple of slices of pizza (and another beer) across the street, then proceed to the TD Garden for a visit to the microbrewery draft beer garden in the balcony, whence we will weave our way to our seats. With that sort of strengthening, the game will be enjoyable. Now to the picks.

10 February

Cleveland by 8 Kevin Love is out, the offense will have to be reworked some.
Houston by 4

11 February

Oklahoma City by 14 with a Sooner State SLAM

12 February

USA by 8 The team rosters for those who want to use logic vs flipping a coin.

14 February

West by 14 The NBA delivers a big, wet Valentine's kiss in a game with zero defense.

19 February

Oklahoma City by 15
Boston by 4

20 February

Golden State by 6

21 February

Oklahoma City by 12
Chicago by 7 Butler is not badly injured, Dunleavy is back, and Rose is playing well.

I consider the games Tuesday to be a bit of time on the bench to get a few extra minutes of rest around the halftime break. While I might have used the games to pad the lead, the reverse might have been true.

posted by Howard_T at 02:50 PM on February 10

Senators acquire Phaneuf from Maple Leafs in nine-player deal

I agree somewhat with cixelsyd that Toronto has executed a very favorable salary dump, one that was necessary if the Leafs are to do anything about turning around their fortunes. From the Ottawa point of view it looks like a decent deal. Ottawa is looking at this season, making the playoffs, and getting a bit further than a one-and-done series. Phaneuf is a top 4 defenseman, a pretty solid player, and just might be the piece that gets Senators at least as far as the East finals.

posted by Howard_T at 05:33 PM on February 09

Peyton Manning Turns Super Bowl Moment into Beer Promotion

By the time the 3rd quarter was halfway through, I was desperately running through the channel guide to see if there was anything -- anything at all -- on one of the off-the-wall cable channels that would be more attractive than this game. I have to agree with NoMich that the timing of some of the calls, and especially the non-calls, was a bit suspect. This game was not one the NFL should hold up as an example of a well-played exhibition of football. It was a disappointment to me, not for the outcome but for the execution of play.

First full workout for Red Sox pitchers and catchers is in 11 days. I can't wait.

posted by Howard_T at 04:52 PM on February 08

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

How did tron7 do it?

Simple answer: The game, indeed the entire season, was planned by the NFL as the "Peyton Manning Retirement Tour" as a celebration of the greatness of the NFL's "Fair-Haired Boy". Obviously, tron7 was privy to the highest councils of the planning of the events. He was smart enough to have quietly lurked in the background until the moment (Super Bowl) when the conventional wisdom would be turned on its head. Thus, tron 7 jumps from 6th to the top step of the podium and rules the SpoFite prognostication kingdom.

Ok, ok, the above from a disgruntled Patriots fan. I will go to my re-gruntling seminars to become a responsible fan, and I will learn to marvel at the grace of Roger the All-Powerful of the NFL. I will also learn how exceptional an achievement is tron7's win, and I will congratulate him. (See, the re-gruntling is working already)

In all seriousness, good job tron7. Yours truly lost all semblance of hope when the playoffs started, but that didn't mean it stopped being fun. I really think the big winner in the contest was a guy who finished in 13th place. Thanks much, rcade, for running this.

posted by Howard_T at 04:41 PM on February 08

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Super Bowl 0x32 Edition

Lots and lots of things to pick. I don't think I can keep track. The probability of my winning this thing is somewhere between the bottom of the Marianas Trench and a descending piece of whale poop. Nonetheless, we go on.

Carolina by 26 LOCK up the Bay Area.

Total score: 52

1st field goal: Gano

1st TD: Olsen

Passing yards: Newton

Rushing yards: Stewart

Receiving yards: Olsen

Sack: Kuechly

Interception: McClain

Turnover: Manning

MVP: Olsen

Sports Filter Prognosticator of the Year: goyoucolts

SpoFite most likely to run a fun and lively contest (US citizen only, sorry Dr. John): rcade

posted by Howard_T at 10:26 PM on February 05

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

I realized about halfway through the Detroit-Boston game last night, while scoreboard watching for the pick'em, that I had not picked a slam. Of course Golden State was up 15 over Washington at the time, which is what triggered the realization, and it was way too late to do anything about it. Oh well... Anyway, please revise my picks to reflect the following:

05 February

Atlanta by 8 and the Hawks stoop* to SLAM the Pacers.

*stoop? Look up the word in relation to hawks and falcons.

posted by Howard_T at 05:00 PM on February 04

Toronto Maple Leafs Adopt New Logo

The 1939-1962 version was the logo I first saw when I began to watch the NHL, but the 1967-1970 is the one I prefer. It really looks like a maple leaf, is uncluttered, and it was on the sweaters during some great years for Boston Bruins. Why Bruins? There was a pretty solid dislike between the 2 clubs in the "Big Bad Bruins" years, and that was the Toronto logo those of us who were fans in those years grew to hate. I am neutral on the new one, but if it helps the Leafs earn some Loonies, more power to them.

posted by Howard_T at 04:51 PM on February 04

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

Howard, the Celtics look like the most likely team to do something major at the trade deadline. Anybody you are hoping to land? Please stay away from Gallinari, I've grown quite fond of the rooster.

Because of all the draft picks and decent role players Boston has, everyone expects them to do something. It's more likely that Danny Ainge will put a bunch of smaller moves together and come up with a move nobody expected. Witness the tie up with Cleveland in their salary dump to afford to sign LeBron. The pieces the Celtics got in that wound up in Isaiah Thomas coming from Phoenix. The major pieces, big men, top scorers, and such, are likely to be overpriced and not guarantees of a championship for Boston. Look for the quieter moves unless someone is ready to have a fire sale. To give a more specific answer, the Al Horford or Dwight Howard rumors persist, but they might be expensive. I would love to have Gallinari, but he's not the one to help Boston to a championship run. Kenneth Faried would be another nice piece, but also not the key. Anything could happen.

posted by Howard_T at 04:32 PM on February 03

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

And it sucks that the Pistons game is not ESPN. I could at least watch it by the ESPN app.

I will be there watching it for you, NoMich. I can't help you by rooting for the Pistons, however. It's Green all the way for me.

Chicago really disappointed me last week. They had shown flashes of finally getting it together as Rose began to play well, but the flash was very dim against Clippers. On the other hand, Clippers seem to be playing better, at last as more of a team, without Blake Griffin. Perhaps Doc Rivers convinced everyone else to step it up a bit. It makes for a good discussion at least.

Tim Duncan, where were you when we needed you?

On to the prognostications:

03 February

Golden State by 14
LA Clippers by 12

04 February

Detroit by 4
New Orleans by 6

05 February

Atlanta by 8
San Antonio by 10

06 February

Golden State by 3

07 February

LA Clippers by 8

posted by Howard_T at 03:08 PM on February 03

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

I still see a number of two-handed set shots in my son's Chicago Catholic Youth League

The spirit of Fat Freddie Scolari still lives. I remember watching him at the end of his career when he spent a season with Boston. His shooting style, a 2-handed set shot that he released quite low, was most unusual, and he overcame a significant obstacle to make it into the NBA.

posted by Howard_T at 04:50 PM on January 31

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Ken Sailors, the man credited with the first use of the jump shot in basketball, has died at 95. Sailors was a star for the University of Wyoming Cowboys in the early 1940s, leading the team to an NCAA championship in 1943. He also played in the NBA for several seasons. One of his teammates at Wyoming was the Hall of Fame broadcaster Curt Gowdy.

posted by Howard_T at 07:00 PM on January 30

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 13

I missed the San Antonio result by 51 points.

I'll give you a pass on this one 'cade. You just got mixed up on your Texas geography.

posted by Howard_T at 04:40 PM on January 28

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Buddy Cianci. He carried on a long tradition in New England (and other sections of the USA) city politics. In fact, the tradition extends to the federal level. The US Representative for my former home Congressional district, Massachusetts 1, the "illustrious" Thomas J. Lane did some time in Danbury (CT) Federal Penitentiary for tax evasion. He was still reelected. City politics is still one of my favorite sports.

posted by Howard_T at 04:36 PM on January 28

The Beginning of the End for Pitch-Framing?

Maybe I am wrong to have done this, but on a close pitch any time I saw a catcher move his glove toward the strike zone after he had caught the pitch, the call was an automatic ball. There are a few catchers in MLB that are able to move the glove toward the zone before the ball arrives, and that will make the pitch look better than it really was. The point is that the umpire is supposed to judge the pitch as it crosses the plate, not where it is caught, and this is how I have tried to call pitches. If umpires begin to shade their judgement against "ball framers" it is an admission that they have not been calling balls and strikes properly all these years.

posted by Howard_T at 04:07 PM on January 27

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 13

I'm off to Boston to have a look at Denver vs Celtics tonight. I look for C's to win their 4th in a row, but that doesn't count in the Pace Mannion. Let's stick to business here, Howard.

27 January

San Antonio by 14
Golden State by 18

28 January

Toronto by 15 with a Maple Leaf SLAM
Chicago by 6

30 January

San Antonio by 7

31 January

Chicago by 9 (Missing Blake Griffin will hurt, and Bulls are beginning to play a bit)

posted by Howard_T at 04:00 PM on January 27

Denver Beats New England to Reach Super Bowl 50

I like the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" discussion above. It's always fun to play that sort of game during the post mortem.

The real culprit (or at least the one who will bear the brunt of the blame) reportedly has been dismissed from the Patriots' staff. According to several sources, Dave DeGugliemo, offensive line coach for the team in the past 2 seasons, has been fired. The interesting thing about this is that DeGugliemo managed to coach an offensive line of questionable proficiency to a Super Bowl win last season. This season the line could not overcome a series of injuries, trades, and retirements when the time came to face the best opposition. Rebuilding the offensive line will be a difficult task for Patriots.

posted by Howard_T at 11:26 PM on January 25

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 12

Looks like the coaching turmoil at Cleveland might take a couple of games to straighten out. None of us saw that coming nor tonight's result. I was at the Boston vs Chicago game last night, and after watching the Bulls, with advantage at nearly every position on the floor, lose to Boston, I was sure that Cleveland would win. Boston had no real "bigs" to work against Gasol or even Mirotic, but managed to keep both of them somewhat under control. It was aggressive defense that held Bulls off when they threatened to take a lead. The turnover margin was decidedly in favor of Boston as well. Chicago pulled together to get a nice win on the second half of a back-to-back, while Cleveland appears to need a hole in the schedule to get some practice time.

posted by Howard_T at 11:40 PM on January 23

Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 23

I'm not in the fantasy league, but I do watch the EPL regularly. Did anyone else watch this morning's Norwich vs Liverpool match? I turned the TV on just in time to watch extra time, with Liverpool up 4-3. Oh good, says I, perhaps Reds can take home 3 points. Oh no, says I, as Norwich levels things at 4 on some really bad defense by Liverpool. Oh my goodness, says I, as Adam Lallana scores on a nice bounced shot, rips off his shirt, and proceeds to destroy Jurgen Klopp's eyeglasses. Norwich fans were left sitting there with the "What the **** just happened?" look on their collective faces.

The post game presser with Klopp produced one of the better lines I have heard. When asked about the eyeglasses, Klopp said it was the second time it had happened to him. He usually carries a spare pair, but could not find them. He said, "It's hard to find your glasses without your glasses." One of the studio commentators said that parental controls should have been applied, since the defense in the game was not safe for children to watch.

posted by Howard_T at 08:31 PM on January 23

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Tyrone Lue spent some time coaching on the Boston staff with Doc Rivers. I don't know how much he learned there, but Rivers was quite good at handling diverse and demanding personalities. Of course, having a GM that was solidly behind the coach no matter the outcome of a dispute was certainly important.

This is one of those situations in which I, as the owner of the team, would turn to LeBron and simply tell him to go ahead, coach the team, get the players, run the whole damn show, and see if you can do better. There have been 40 player-coaches in the NBA, only 2 have won championships (Buddy Jeannette and Bill Russell), and there have been none since 1975. Richie Guerin (.535 win percentage in the regular season, .488 playoffs) and Lenny Wilkens (.485 regular season, no playoffs) might have been the best as a player-coaches. Does anyone think LeBron could do better?

posted by Howard_T at 08:20 PM on January 23