Recent Comments by Howard_T

The Boston Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo to Dallas

An update about the Celtics without Rondo. They started Turner at the point, much to my surprise, but that might have had something to do with the size of the guards for Minnesota. Turner had a turnover early in the game, but then he settled down and had only 1 more for the game. From the outset the Celtics were pushing the ball up the floor, the offense was moving without the ball, and the ball was finding its way down low. This is the offense that Coach Stevens wants to run, but it did not always happen. Blame Rondo for slowing things down if you must, but it seemed that everyone else moved better off the ball than they had.

Marcus Smart had limited minutes in the first half, but he was on the floor in a close game late. Once he found his rhythm he began to take over a bit, hitting a couple of threes, making several good entry passes, and working the pick-and-roll a couple of times for assists on easy layups by Zeller and Bass. Unless there are further moves made from the Celtics backcourt, Jameer Nelson might find himself relegated to the splinter inspector on the bench. Between Turner, Pressey, Smart, and Bradley you have 3 point guards (Turner, Pressey, Smart) and 3 shooting guards (Turner, Bradley, Smart). This is not to say that any of them is as good at one of the guard spots as he is at the other, but all are serviceable. It also gives the opportunity to go to a 3-guard setup in order to harass the perimeter shooters on the other team.

As good as Rondo had been on defense, Smart makes up for it. He's quick, quite strong, and has some anticipation for where the ball might go. He's raw, but he looks like a fast learner. All in all, the Celtics in the short term will be no better nor worse without Rondo. I will bet that Dallas gets somewhat better, but I agree with tron7 and Zach Lowe that this is not the trade that puts Dallas into the Western Conference finals.

One last thing. I went to the game to have a look at Andrew Wiggin. My rheumatologist is a Kansas grad and was really hoping Wiggin would somehow fall to the Celtics. Wiggin left me thoroughly unimpressed. I barely knew when he was on the floor as the rest of the team did not involve him in the offense. He did nothing outstanding on defense either. The Kevin Love deal looks worse and worse every game.

posted by Howard_T at 02:24 AM on December 20

The Boston Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo to Dallas

Talking heads in Boston were falling all over themselves talking about how Rondo was not helping the team, was playing badly -- perhaps on purpose -- and it was about time the got rid of him. In the next breath, these same guys were bitching and moaning that the Celtics had not gotten enough for him. Dwight Powell's main function was to remove splinters from the bench using his ass. Why Dallas wanted him is beyond me, but it probably has something to do with cap hits. Jameer Nelson is here to fill in until Marcus Smart is physically ready to play heavy minutes every night. Until then look for Phil Pressey to pick up a lot of minutes. Oddly enough when Pressey was at the point instead of Rondo, the team played faster and better. Pressey's problem is that he is about 5'10" tall.

Brandan Wright might have some use, but he is a bit undersized for a center, and the power forward/center spot in Boston is rather crowded. His contribution remains to be determined. Jae Crowder might be the excuse to move Evan Turnover Turner, but I don't know if Crowder can play the 2-guard spot as well as the small forward. I'll probably go to the game tomorrow night, although I doubt any of the new additions will see any time. It's mostly to get a look at Andrew Wiggin.

Hey, we get a $12.9 Million trade exception, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd rounder for all this. The picks will be well down in the order, barring disaster in Dallas, but with all the picks Ainge has accumulated in the past couple of years, he can probably move some of the down-table stuff for the lottery. As long as the team doesn't try to jump into the same tank as Philadelphia, I'm OK with it.

posted by Howard_T at 01:56 AM on December 19

Can True Sports Fans Switch to a New Favorite Team?

The teams I grew up with are still in existence, still contend from time to time, and are still worth watching. There's one I no longer watch nor follow nor favor. I didn't "grow up" with the Patriots, but they came into existence when I was in college, so they sort of grew up with me. The one exception of teams that I grew up with that I favor is the Braves. My dad was an ardent Boston Braves fan, my oldest sister used to take me to games, and I followed the team closely. It took me some time to get used to being a Red Sox fan, and I still followed the Braves during their successful Milwaukee years. I cannot like the Atlanta Braves for a variety of reasons. Let's just say they aren't what they were (nobody is after 62 years) and let it go at that.

for NoMich, I understand being unable to watch a team can have an effect on fandom. I will say that I was a Bruins and Celtics fan long before I ever saw a game on TV or in person. Cable had not been invented and we did not own a TV until I was about 12. There was this thing called a radio, the Red Sox, Braves, Bruins, and Celtics games were always on, and I was a faithful listener. Johnny Most, high above courtside, could paint a picture with words better than anyone else I ever heard do a basketball game. My fandom started with my ears and not my eyes.

posted by Howard_T at 04:06 PM on December 17

Served up on a platter for SportsFilter

Played slopitch one year with a cricket player.

I had the same experience when I lived in Egypt. The guy was from Turks and Caicos, had a good arm, used a glove and was sure-handed, mostly played outfield and had range. Batting was quite another story. It took nearly a full season to get him to stand still and not shift his feet around as in cricket. Even then the guy had some power. Once he got the hang of a batting stance and approach, he turned into a pretty good hitter.

posted by Howard_T at 03:48 PM on December 17

The FSU Problem

I have long looked at those universities who seem to place athletic success above all other things at the school with a highly negative bias. As time passed and I came to meet people who had actually gone to these places, I found that some of them really did provide a quality education. Auburn and Virginia Tech have programs in aerospace engineering that are among the best in the country. I've worked with graduates of those schools who impressed me greatly with their knowledge and ability. My son is a Penn State grad. Before you start up about Sandusky and the rest, I get it. What the administration did to try to protect the school was bad, but also understand that there was more to this than just a football program. Before he made his choice, we looked deeply into academics and programs. (He also looked deeply into the selection of bars, but that's another story.) Once you look at academic programs among the Big Ten schools, you will find that all of them are excellent. The athletes who attend are encouraged to do well in their studies. I am not familiar with the schools of the southwest and far west, but admittedly some seem to place the team ahead of the school.

Now I look at Florida State. If I had a college-age kid, I would be ashamed to send him there. There seems to be no pretense on the part of the school to be anything except a football team, and to make it a winning team, anything is acceptable. I will not proclaim Jameis Winston guilty of anything until a jury convicts him, but I will condemn the State of Florida and the university for being less than meticulous in its initial investigation of the rape claims. I find the Florida State situation frighteningly similar to that at the University of Miami a few years ago. While the majority of Miami football alumni have gone on to good careers in football and outside the game and have become leaders in their community, there is one glaring example now spending his time in a Massachusetts jail awaiting a murder trial. One aside here, I do not include the University of Florida in my condemnation of Florida schools. My brother-in-law (wife's sister's husband) is a Gator through and through. He has done pretty well for himself, is a joy to know, and is a fine person. I would prefer to think he's typical of Florida grads.

The question is why things like the Winston situation happen. When a kid shows a high level of skill in a sport, he seems to become "the golden child". That is, because he is so good at what he does, he is in a privileged place among his peers. (Another aside, when I was in high school, our assistant principal had 2 favorites who could get away with anything. Athletes and good math students were on a pedestal. I was not an athlete, but I still got away with mayhem.) If you take a kid without a solid background in responsible behavior and put him in the sort of situation that a heavily recruited high school athlete encounters, you are likely to have created a ticking time bomb. These kids understand they are being judged by a different standard, and some of them are willing to push it too far. Do I have any suggestion about how to fix this? Without a total overhaul of contemporary American society, I do not. It is a sad situation. Sports fans who are as deep into sports as we SpoFites can only stand and ineffecively cluck our tongues.

posted by Howard_T at 04:45 PM on December 16

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Sid's got the mumps, 13th NHL'er this season

This could put a dent into the crop of future NHLers among the sons of current NHL players. One of the complications of mumps among adult and teen age males is "orchitis" which can lead to sterility. Is the MMR vaccination not done outside the US?

posted by Howard_T at 01:58 PM on December 14

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

You might not recognize the name "Ralph Baer", but the chances are he might well have had an impact on your life. You see, Ralph Baer, who died yesterday at age 92, was the inventor of the video game. He took an idea that might have some usefulness and turned it into the multi-billion dollar video game industry of today.

I met Ralph Baer for the first time in 1969, when I was given an assignment to work in the information systems division of Sanders Associates in Nashua, NH. There we worked on systems that adapted user-interactive displays for use in defense and industrial applications. My particular system was for the data reduction system for the DC-10 flight test program at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, CA. In order to test the displays to make sure there were no empty spots (CRT displays that were raster scanned were the technology of the time. The pixel style display of today had not been invented yet.) and that the display moved evenly with the controls (keyboard commands usually, the mouse had not been invented yet, either.) a simple program had been set up. Think of 2 vertical lines, one at each side of the display, but not quite at the extremity. In the vertical center of each line is a small opening. In front of each line is a vertical bar that may be moved vertically and horizontally. There is also a bright dot that at the beginning of the test program is moving randomly. When the dot is contacted by one of the movable bars it changes direction. The dot also changes direction whenever it hits the top or bottom limit of the display area or hits the stationary vertical bar. Should the dot enter the opening in either stationary bar, the event is recorded.

If the above sounds familiar, it is the game "Pong". Needless to say that we engineers who worked in the lab were quite enthusiastic in our testing, and when we couldn't get the noontime cribbage game going, the game was the substitute. Mr. Baer really did not expect the game to turn out to what it came to be. The whole idea was to develop the interactive display into a useful tool, which we certainly did. The thing that triggered the gaming use was that Mr. Baer set up a display with controls in the patent office during the patenting process. The patent office employees couldn't resist it, so the patent was drawn broadly enough that Sanders Associates, later Lockheed-Sanders, and now BAE Systems, made money every time a video game system was sold. The intellectual copyrights ran out in the late 1990s, but they kept the company in good shape during the occasional lulls in defense procurement.

To Mr. Ralph Baer I owe a debt for the years of employment at Sanders/Lockheed/BAE Systems. Because of him, and a lot of others like him, I earned a good salary, was able to put a few bucks away, and I am now comfortably retired. The rest of you owe him a debt for letting you waste so much of your lives with the various versions of Madden, NHL, NBA, NCAA, and the rest.

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on December 08

CFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Final Standings

...and a good time was had by all. Dr. John, these contests are always fun, and we are all indebted to you for putting them together. Many thanks.

posted by Howard_T at 10:20 PM on December 04

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I know nothing of Barry Hearn, but the way he approaches business reminds me a bit of Victor Kiam, he of the "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company" fame and former owner of the NE Patriots. Kiam ran into trouble with the press by defending his players after one of them exposed himself to a female reporter in the locker room. Both Hearn and the late Mr. Kiam seem to be from the same "keep your name before the public and say things they will remember" school of marketing.

posted by Howard_T at 10:16 PM on December 04

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

And now you know...the rest of the story.

Good (with rising inflection) day.

posted by Howard_T at 09:16 PM on December 03

Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau dead at 83

One of the benefits to being "old" is having had the privilege of watching some of the legends of various sports. I saw Bill Russell's first game in Boston and watched Ted Williams' incredible ability at bat, and I am now watching another generation of those who will someday be called "legend". I saw Jean Beliveau play once. It was enough to realize how wide was the gap between some pretty good Bruins teams of the early- and mid-1950s and the Montreal Canadiens of that era. The Richards, Geoffrion, Bert Olmstead, Dickie Moore, Doug Harvey, and Jacques Plante were on the ice, but the presence of Jean Beliveau lent an air of the "invincibility of royalty". Beliveau's effect on the team was such that they behaved as one would expect the best to behave. That is, they played hard but fairly, did not back down, and always played well. Giants such as Beliveau do not appear often. He will be long remembered.

posted by Howard_T at 03:59 PM on December 03

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Contempt of court or something.

It's certainly not true in all jurisdictions, but I remember reading something about a juror who deliberately tried to get out of jury duty by deliberately messing up a trial. I do not remember any details, but I remember something about a contempt finding and a heavy fine.

posted by Howard_T at 11:49 PM on December 02

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Docket is a shining example of the overprivileged athlete who thinks his comfort and convenience are the only things of importance in the world. If I am a prosecutor or defense attorney in Arizona, as soon as his name appeared on a list of potential jurors, I would challenge for cause. What cause? How about being a blathering idiot? I would think there is no way this man could pay attention to what is being said in the trial to allow him to make a judgement. Let him sit in the pool, do not excuse him from reporting to the court and staying for the full day, but never let him be part of a jury.

posted by Howard_T at 05:09 PM on December 02

MLB umpire Dale Scott comes out as gay in quietest way possible.

The real takeaway from this is that there is a Referee magazine.

There are about 19,000 people employed as referees or umpires in the US. That is, these are people who list this as an occupation and draw a paycheck for it. I would suggest there are at least that many more who, like me, umpire as a sideline or hobby. We still receive pay for it. To deserve this pay, we try to maintain our skills as best we can. Referee magazine offers stories and "how to" tips for whatever sport is in season. It also has features on fitness, diet, and exercise. It's a good resource.

posted by Howard_T at 04:57 PM on December 02

CFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Grey Cup Edition

It's Saturday night, and I finally have a bit of time to breathe. This has been a busy week. I was baking pies for Thanksgiving all day Wednesday, went out late Wednesday night to blow about 6 inches of heavy, wet, white crap off my driveway and front walk, and drove to my wife's sister's place in CT for dinner on Thursday. This last involved about 7 hours of driving round trip from NH to Wilton, CT. Still, it was fun to get together with family and friends. Friday was the Celtics vs Bulls, then after that shopping for bird feeding supplies, groceries, and some Thai food at a new place in town. Today I had to assist as a lay minister at a funeral - sad time when a 48-year-old mother of two passes suddenly - then cooked an early supper so our son and his girlfriend could get out on time to meet some friends who were home for the holidays.

All this leads to making a pick for the Grey Cup. For this entire CFL season I've been operating under "the blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn" theory. This must have been a mast year for the oaks, for I have finished near the top in the regular season, and I'm in contention in the playoffs. So once again I will put on my gray suit with the bushy tail and see if I can do this again.

The game: The "experts" give Hamilton the defensive nod and Calgary the edge on offense. This would seem to make the offensive/defensive phases a wash, and would put the game in the hands of the special teams. Nay not so, say I. It will come down to a battle between the big ugly guys who populate the front end of each team, and if that war proves to be a draw, then whoever makes the fewer mistakes will win. I say Stampeders seem to be more likely to hold together for the longer time. Will it be a tight game coming down to the last possession, or will it turn into a blowout? I say the score will indicate a clear superiority by one team, but the game itself will be much closer than the score indicates. Calgary by 13.

MVP: With 3 downs to make gain, a longer and wider field, deeper end zones, and pre-snap motion allowed, the CFL is a passing league. Nonetheless, an exceptional running back can be the difference. I see the winning QB also being the MVP. My pick is Mitchell.

Points: The game will not be played in adverse weather conditions, but each side has a stout defense. 52.5 is not a lot of points to be scored by 2 powerful offenses; 28 - 25 would be enough. In this one, the total score will exceed the over.

Passing yardage: This will go over 500 yards, but how much over? I figure I moved about 650 square feet of 6 inch deep snow on Wednesday. This gives me 325 cubic feet moved. At 62.4 pounds per cubic foot of water, and a water content of about 30% (3 inches of water per 10 inches of snow), I moved about 6000 pounds. Let 10 pounds of snow equal 1 yard of passing, and adding 1 yard for good measure, the 2 QBs will throw for a total of 601 yards.

posted by Howard_T at 09:43 PM on November 29

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

A good look here by Bill Speros in his Obnoxious Boston Fan blog at baseball in the Dominican Republic, with a bit of history and some cultural/economic aspects thrown in. It starts out a bit Boston-centered, but there is much of a broader view.

posted by Howard_T at 08:56 PM on November 29

Red Sox Sign Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

Actually radio is a most attractive medium to be in. When was the last time you sat in Boston traffic during your commute -- either way, it makes no difference -- and turned on a TV? You guessed it, the radio is on, and if you are a sports fan, it is on sports talk radio. There's gold in them thar kilohertz (or megahertz in FM).

yerfatma, I think it was the airhead from Maine, Gary Tanguay. Fully as annoying as Mazz, but without any semblance of understanding. I usually watch the sports news that immediately precedes Tanguay and company and change channels afterwards, but on this occasion I was in the midst of cooking and couldn't get to the remote quickly enough.

posted by Howard_T at 05:54 PM on November 26

Cricketer Fighting for Life After Ball to Head

Having the ball come up from below in cricket adds a dimension to the danger of being struck. A batted ball in baseball presents the same sort of danger, but usually there is time to avoid (unless you are a pitcher) or deflect with the glove if you are a fielder. Trying to get out of the way after a swing and miss when the ball is moving upward would seem terribly difficult and only a full football style helmet would protect well in the area where Hughes was struck. It is always sobering to hear of an athlete in his prime being in danger of having his career or even his life in danger of ending.

posted by Howard_T at 05:46 PM on November 26

Red Sox Sign Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

They really don't give themselves much of a "down cycle" in Boston.

They don't dare. One talking head -- a particularly annoying one -- insists that this is all part of a PR campaign to make the team "appealing". His story is that the ownership wants to move into radio by buying a station, and that they would need "attractive" players to help sell it. My take is that the younger players they were trying out last year have not measured up (Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr.) and the young pitching is not quite ready. One other consideration for free agent pitchers is to look at the team and determine whether or not you have a chance of winning there. Lester did not have a choice when he was traded to Oakland, and trading one of their better hitters for pitching led to poorer results for the Athletics. Of the several teams that will be interested in John Lester, I would suggest Boston has a bit of an advantage, although it's not a sure thing by any stretch. The length of a potential contract seems to be the big item. Boston wants to keep it as short as they can, while Lester would like it to be 6 years.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 AM on November 25

Former NHL player, coach and executive Pat Quinn dies at age 71

I always thought Pat Quinn was indestructible. I guess not. Love him or hate him, he was a giant of the game. RIP.

posted by Howard_T at 04:14 PM on November 24

CFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Finals Edition

Weather a factor in CFL Football? You're kidding, of course. Do you think Canadians are a bunch of wimps who play only when the temperatures are moderate, the sun is shining, and when neither condition exists they move to a dome? To quote BGEN Terry McAuliff from December of 1944, "Nuts!"

Montreal at Hamilton: The worst weather is to the east of Hamilton, on the other lake. It should not be a problem here. Tiger-Cats are 8-2 in their own litter box this year, while Alouettes are 4-5 on the road, including a 14 point loss in Hamilton. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly*, and I gotta think Tiger-Cats will just run, throw, block, and tackle. Hamilton by 17.

Edmonton at Calgary: Eskimos are 5-4 on the road this season, but they were beaten by 15 in their only regular season visit to Calgary. Stampeders are tough (7-2) at home. The numbers lean heavily in Calgary's favor. One stat that stands out is the success of Calgary's running game against Edmonton. The axiom in that game south of the 49th parallel is that the colder the weather, the more the running game is needed. Edmonton's QB will be going against the excellent Calgary defensive backfield. I have to go with the rampaging quadrupeds in this one. Calgary by 18.

Passing yardage is one of those things that is very dependent on opponent, weather, game plan, and the like. For example, Calgary has a very good QB, but they are more likely to run a lot. Calgary's DBs will keep Edmonton from throwing the ball all over the place. Thus, we have to look to the east to find the gunslinger. I will go with Collaros to edge Crompton. Passing yards: Collaros.

Go west for the defensive leaders. Calgary has allowed fewer sacks than Edmonton, not that Eskimos' front line is at all porous. Both teams in the east have decent defenses, otherwise they would not be where they are, but I look for the sack leader to be in the west. Most sacks: Calgary.

*"Can't Help Lovin' dat Man", lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, from "Showboat", 1927.

posted by Howard_T at 09:37 PM on November 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

How about the title of this thread be changed to "The Dark Confessions of Secret Alcoholic SpoFites"?

One of my more horrific memories is of liberty in Pusan, Korea, on a very cold evening in early March. We were walking Green Street (think of the Reeperbahn in Hamburg or De Wallentjes in Amsterdam) -- just window shopping, mind you -- keeping warm with a bottle or 3 of Oscar Wine, the Korean equivalent of Boone's Farm. If you ever get to Korea, I strongly suggest you avoid this stuff like the plague. This was the night when I crawled across the quarter deck after having helped carry the Battle Group Chief-of-Staff up the ladder about 10 minutes before they pulled the brow (walkway between the ladder and the ship).

posted by Howard_T at 03:25 PM on November 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

2008 Lions uncorked the Boone's Farm

No one will ever beat 3 Monks Muscatel. When I was in college (early 1960s) this 55-cent per gallon stuff was the go-to choice for a cheap buzz. The problem was finding an appropriate brown paper sack and a comfortable curbstone.

posted by Howard_T at 05:23 PM on November 21

Blind-sided: Blue Jacketsí Jack Johnson is bankrupt; who led him there is biggest shocker

The story goes about the father who taught his son about business. He took the son to the warehouse, got a tall stepladder, and told the son to climb up to a high shelf to get an item. The son did so, but could not reach the item while he was still on the ladder.

"Crawl from the ladder to the back of the shelf", said the father. The son did so, but as soon as he was off the ladder, the father took it away from the shelf. "Jump! I will catch you", said the father. "It's a long way down, and I'll be hurt", said the son. "Just trust me" said dad.

The son jumped, the father moved to one side, and the son crashed to the floor, badly hurt. "Dad, why did you let me fall?"

"That was your first lesson. In business you trust nobody, not even your own family".

I believe teams and even leagues in other sports are giving some sort of education about finances, among other things. I wonder why the NHL has not done this yet.

posted by Howard_T at 05:17 PM on November 21

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Nice read, owly. My 'Bajan mom would not be happy about a thrashing of the West Indies team, but then it's still cricket. While I should not be, I was a bit surprised that the women's game is popular in Australia. Is this true in the rest of the world?

posted by Howard_T at 10:26 PM on November 20

Penny-pinching, no more!

If anyone is old enough to remember Dick Stuart's days as the Boston Red Sox 1st baseman, they might also recall that Coleridge's words were also applied to him for his lack of prowess with the glove:

"There was an ancient mariner and he stoppeth one of three."

Only on SpoFi can one write a comment containing references such as these and actually find that most readers actually understand it. I love this place!

posted by Howard_T at 05:13 PM on November 18

Penny-pinching, no more!

Too long? Too expensive? There are some who would say:

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.*

But perhaps enough of a team might be built around Stanton so that:

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.*

There are a few, and have been many in the past, who not only deserve such a contract but also can play so as to deserve it. Stanton seems to be one, as is Trout. The big worry is injury, but I'm sure there are injury clauses built into these contracts, and insurance is available.

* Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

posted by Howard_T at 03:20 PM on November 17

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

This is no "Old Gray Mare". Jonas Gray carries 38 times for 199 and 4 TDs for NE against the Colts. Old Gray Mare is a HORSE.

posted by Howard_T at 11:33 PM on November 16

CFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Semi-Finals Edition

Nearly missed this. I'm in Maine for the weekend for a getaway with my wife. WiFi at the hotel sucks, so I nearly gave up on the web. Fortunately it did not happen. Wife is glaring at me trying to get me interested in going out for dinner, so I'll be forced to keep this short.

BC at Montreal: "The Lion in Winter" was one of the better films ever made, but Lions in Montreal during the late autumn might not be so good. Larks seem to have made some repairs to their wings, have turned their season around, and have momentum on their side. Never sell an old cat short, but I don't think their claws are sharp enough. Montreal by 9.

Saskatchewan at Edmonton: Ah the joys of winter on the prairie. The weather says they should take off the pads, put on the skates, and go play some hockey. Eskimos have a wounded lead dog, but is this critical? Roughriders will give this a good shot, but they will fall short at the end. Edmonton by 11.

Kickers are a necessary evil. I miss the old substitution rules that meant the kicker had to play a position. Nonetheless, they are like a parasitic presence that has invaded us and is here to stay. I'll have to pick one of the booters in the Montreal game, since the condtions in Edmonton aren't likely to favor the foot brigade. Whyte.

Once again the weather conditions enter into the picks. This is the time for black and blue football, not the wide open game. I'll take the under here.

posted by Howard_T at 06:16 PM on November 15

CFL Pick 'Em, Final Standings

Ah well, I missed the podium, but a somewhat respectable 4th place is OK by me. The real winner here is Dr. John for running this once again. It's always fun, even when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing.

posted by Howard_T at 10:41 PM on November 11

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 20

Missed the Friday game. Had to do the weekly grocery shopping, then wife and I took our son out to dinner to celebrate his new job. If you are anywhere near Manchester, NH, I strongly recommend "Cotton" for a great meal. The place ain't cheap, but their food and service are excellent. In that spirit, let's look at the rest of the menu for this week. The appetizer is gone since we were late for dinner.

Calgary at BC: The choice here is western beef against Pacific Coast seafood. Both are excellent, but which to choose? Seafood is best when less than 24 hours out of the water, but beef when aged slightly is good too. I'll have my steak medium rare, please. Calgary by 6.

Montreal at Hamilton: We need something to go along with our steak. Perhaps a nice salad with some cheese will be nice, or could it be some mussels from the lake. Salade-aux-chevre-chaud sounds very appetizing, but Mussels in Tomato-Garlic Broth has my mouth watering. We are near the lake for this one, so the Mussels are a better choice here. Hamilton by 11.

Edmonton at Saskatchewan: Cereal grains, wheat, and cattle on the one side and a diversity of crops on the other. Saskatchewan has a good-sized fruit industry with a number of species of berries being grown. We've already had a good Alberta steak for our main course, so we'll forego that option. Perhaps a basket of fresh, warm bread will complement this feast we are building. Even better, let's use some of that flour to make a nice pie crust and bake up some of those Saskatchewan berries. Dessert sounds like the perfect finish here. Saskatchewan by 4.

Can anyone recommend a nice brandy and perhaps a good cigar to end this?

posted by Howard_T at 10:56 PM on November 07

The End of Daisy Buchanan's

Derek Sanderson's autobiography has some harrowing tales from when he owned the place. I never went there, since I was overseas for most of the '70s and married when I got back to New England, but I always wanted to check out the place.

posted by Howard_T at 10:16 PM on November 07

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Last night the Boston Celtics lost a game in which they committed 28 turnovers, yet they lost by only 3, and were in position to tie the game with a last-second three. The game could have been a Celtics blowout; rebounds, points-in-the-paint, shooting percentage, assists, all favored the Celtics. It led me to think about what sort of metric could be attached to turnovers, particularly turnover differential.

Last night's differential was around 18. My thought about how much it cost Boston is this: Multiply the turnover differential by the shooting percentage of the team with the negative differential (in this case Boston), round off, and add the result to the team's score. Do the same for the team with the positive differential, round off, and subtract the result from that team's score. This should give an approximate idea of what the score would have been with an even number of turnovers. Of course, turnovers will never come out even. Some adjustment should be made for steals, the assumption is that all of the scores that result will be 2 pointers, and there is no accounting made for free throws, but over all, this might be a useful metric.

grum will probably come up with something much more accurate, or probably tell me that I have re-invented the wheel but made it elliptical, but I'm still curious as how to apply some metric to the turnovers.

posted by Howard_T at 10:20 PM on November 06

Giants Win World Series

Your memory is going

That's no surprise, it never was much longer than a certain part of my anatomy. I was only counting the last one that put them ahead for good.

posted by Howard_T at 06:40 PM on October 31

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I'm not too sure about Kevin Garnett's math or English skills after this quote: "The [Smart] kid is very impressive," Garnett noted. "This is my first time seeing him live, playing against him and stuff. He and Rondo and Avery, that's going to be a tandem."

Son and I were at the game. Our new seats are excellent - right on the mid-court line and 5 rows back in the balcony. As for the game, it looks like most of the so-called experts are right. The Celtics will be a lot of fun to watch, but without anyone to effectively play in the low post, they will not be a playoff team. After the Celtics ran up 101 through 3 quarters, we decided to leave, beat the rush to the "T", and get home a bit early. There won't be a lot of this sort of blowout, but we'll enjoy it when it happens.

posted by Howard_T at 09:59 PM on October 30

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 19

Travel is a way of life for professional sports teams, so let's travel around Canada for a bit.

Hamilton at Ottawa: Depending on your route, it's something around 550 Km between the cities. One must cross the Trent, Moira, Salmon, Cataraqui, Rideau, and Napanee Rivers, among others, before finally crossing the Ottawa and reaching the Capitol City. Tiger Cats are known for establishing a territory for hunting and defending it, and a little water will not deter them. Looks like a group of REDBLACKS will be the next to fall prey. Hamilton by 8.

Winnipeg at Calgary: 1400 KM thereabouts for this trek. Forget about a nice bus ride across the prairies, this one needs an airplane ride. Perhaps that's what a Blue Bomber is all about, but one has business to attend to after the landing. Making a long trip and handling a bunch of Stampeders is a little too much to ask. Calgary by 16.

BC at Edmonton: Nearly 1200 Km of rough and rugged territory to traverse here. The Coastal Ranges are just the beginning, and the Rockies come next. While lions can climb trees, they don't do well in the mountains. The cats will need to fly. When they arrive, they will be faced with the denizens of the ice floes who would like nothing better than to turn the Lions into stuffed cats. Perhaps the kitties will surprise and put the Eskimos on ice. It could happen. BC by 6.

Toronto at Montreal: Here in the confines of the more densely populated East, the travel is not as long, but still not without its travails. This is another trip of about 500 Km along Lake Ontario and down the St. Lawrence. There is an old song about a man who lost his girlfriend on one of the Thousand Islands. He spent his days "Calling for Florence, up the Saint Lawrence". The Argonauts hope they don't lose anything on the way, and they will be in for a tough fight when they get to Montreal. The Larks will be happy to stay in their bird cage and use Toronto in place of the usual lining of newspapers. Montreal by 9.

posted by Howard_T at 09:47 PM on October 30

Giants Win World Series

Baumgartner's effort is somewhat similar to that of Pedro Martinez in the 1999 ALDS. Pedro had left game 1 with back soreness, but came out of the bullpen in game 5. The Red Sox were down 8-7 after overcoming a 5-2 Cleveland lead, and then seeing Cleveland chase Derek Lowe who himself was on in relief of starter Bret Saberhagen. Pedro went 6 innings of no-hit ball, and he earned the win on the strength of Troy O'Leary's home run.

dfleming has the scoring rule correct. Had Affeldt allowed a tying or go-ahead run, then Baumgartner would have become the pitcher of record and would have earned the win. Still, a 5-inning save with a performance such as Baumgartner gave is not exactly chopped liver.

posted by Howard_T at 08:51 PM on October 30

Minor League Hockey Player Suffers Gruesome Cut from Skate

Gruesome story. Cseter is fortunate that there were people who knew how to help him, otherwise the incident would have been fatal. I checked the Huntsville, AL, Times website, but there was nothing about the incident there. I suppose it wasn't a real big deal, considering that it is Alabama and this is football season.

posted by Howard_T at 01:10 AM on October 28

Top Cardinals Prospect Oscar Tavares Killed in Car Accident

Young athletes and fast cars seem to have a problem getting along with each other. If one must place blame for such a tragedy, it could fall upon the leagues, the clubs, and probably more heavily upon the agents. Counseling about how to handle sudden wealth and popularity is needed. There have been too many needless deaths from fast vehicles, alcohol, and irresponsible behavior that might have been prevented by someone taking the young people aside and helping them understand how to stay out of trouble.

posted by Howard_T at 01:01 AM on October 28

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 18

In the interests of our continuing education, a number of topical questions will be posed with this week's selections. Can you answer them?

Montreal at Ottawa: Does the Ottawa name have anything to do with this question, "What goes into the water black and comes out red?" I really don't know about that, but I do know that Larks are not confused by colors. Montreal by 7.

Saskatchewan at Calgary: Reminds me of the question "What always goes to bed with its shoes on?" This one is easy, especially when related to the names of these 2 teams. Neither team will fall asleep during this game. It could be a barn burner, in which case sleeping arrangements will be disrupted. Chances are that uncontrollable rampaging quadrupeds would not be shod anyway. Calgary by 4.

Hamilton at Toronto: A man was driving a black car. His lights were not on, there was no moonlight, and a cat was in the middle of the road. How did the man know to stop the car? The Argonauts had a boat, not a car, but the idea is the same. There's a Tigercat in the road. Of course, they do want to run over the cat, but the cat will fight back. Will the cat's efforts save its life? Sadly, not this time, but don't forget that the cat has 9 lives. Toronto by 5.

BC at Winnipeg: A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him? The correct answer would be room 3, but the reasons for it do not apply to the BC species of lion. Their diet will be augmented by blue bomber meat. BC by 14.

posted by Howard_T at 10:53 PM on October 23

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

The story on Shields has historically been that if you don't get to him early, you won't get to him. Last night reinforced that idea. The KC bullpen wasn't that bad, but once you are down 4, allowing even one more is not acceptable. Baumgartner is a beast of mythical proportions. I didn't turn to this game until quite late -- Bruins were in a beauty against San Jose -- but the little I saw and heard, and what I had seen in previous games, told me that he is scary.

posted by Howard_T at 03:04 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.

And from myself as well. Stay strong, Canada, we are with you.

posted by Howard_T at 02:50 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

...but are they getting more overall people to watch?

I have watched much of the postseason, and I have enjoyed it. However, I do not wear overalls, nor do I know very many people who do. Perhaps people who wear overalls are too busy with other things to watch baseball.

posted by Howard_T at 05:09 PM on October 20

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Games in Arizona under a waxing moon while his brother was a base coach:

grum, you've outdone yourself this time. BTW, thanks for the Bobby Thompson video. I almost got in my truck to head for the State Liquor Store to buy a bottle of Four Roses. I'll make do with a beer later on.

posted by Howard_T at 04:07 PM on October 18

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

ABC News compared last night's walk-off to the Bobby Thompson home run in 1951. Man, did that stir a memory. I was 10-years-old, listening to the game on the kitchen radio as my mom fixed dinner. I was a Braves fan, but for some reason I liked the Giants, or perhaps it was dislike for the Dodgers. I really don't remember the reason, but when Thompson hit the home run, I started jumping around and yelling. My mom was a bit of a fan too, she broke out the bottle of Four Roses, and poured each of us a shot. She was smart enough to sip, I wasn't! Once I could breathe again, I was considerably quieter. Perhaps that was mom's plan all along.

posted by Howard_T at 04:56 PM on October 17

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Well, one good thing came out of last night's Pats' win-that-felt-like-a-loss

Belichick had the Patriots play just well enough to win on purpose. He really wants to keep Rex Ryan around as HC of the NYJ for just a little longer. Ah Bill, you sly devil, you know he's good for 2 NE wins per year.

posted by Howard_T at 04:44 PM on October 17

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 17

I'm running late as usual. I've promised my son "chicken macaroni and cheese" for dinner tonight, and it takes a bit of time. Here we go with abundant babblement.

Ottawa at Hamilton: The REDBLACK will attempt not to become a group of rakeshames, but in so doing might incite the Tigercats to become wranglesome. An Ottawa win here would certainly be ear-erecting. Hamilton by 16.

Montreal at Toronto: The ability of the Argonauts to illaqueate appears superior to that of the Larks. Since the Allouettes have to fly to the big town by the lake, they might avoid becoming a daggle-tailed group. However, their chance of a victory is nuncupatory only. Toronto by 12.

Calgary at Winnipeg: A meeting of two teams in longinquity. From recent performance it looks like the Blue Bombers' chances aren't worth a quadrin. Perhaps the squabbish linemen of the Stampeders will prove to be tardigridous and make jackpuddings of themselves, but I think not. Calgary by 9.

Edmonton at Saskatchewan: The valiant but stalactical Eskimos enter the land of the Roughriders. The Riders are likely to obequitate and not do well in this. The cycopede agrees that nothing is sure, but Edmonton's chances appear to be packthread. Edmonton by 11.

My attempts to uptrain my vocabulary show me to be a gastriloquist. Next week, in the after-wise, I probably will be shown to have maffled.

posted by Howard_T at 04:39 PM on October 17

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

That assumes perfect umpiring, which we do not have.

Robot umps, man. Can't wait.

We do not have perfect players either. Nor do we have perfect men (or women) in anything mankind does. This is the beauty of competitive sports. Because they are played and officiated by imperfect people, the result of the contest is unpredictable. Has there ever been a poll of professional baseball players that asks their preference for human (imperfect) umpires or robot (allegedly perfect) judging machines? I wold bet that the players not only prefer the human element, but would rather have some imperfection to the calling of a game. If you really want perfection, let's go all the way. Develop robot players, robot judges, and the contest will become one among the engineers and software developers to build the better robots. Just wait until general managers look to trade a faster processor for a field programmable gate array.

posted by Howard_T at 10:21 PM on October 15

"How Rebounds Work"

Rebounds work through the combination of Newton's law (a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion in a straight line, unless acted upon by a force.), the force of gravity (Newton again), and the coefficient of restitution of the basketball. Someone with a high mathematics and physics IQ could probably predict in general terms where the rebounds of shots from certain positions will go. Of course, it's a lot easier to use data accumulated over a number of trials. I'm being a bit facetious with the above, but the best rebounders have long had the game sense to position themselves in the most advantageous position. The smaller players, particularly guards, seem to be better at this than many of the "bigs".

posted by Howard_T at 10:10 PM on October 15

Royals Advance to First World Series Since 1985

I missed today's clinching game, but it has been just a lot of fun watching KC in the postseason this year. They hustle, play great defense, have good pitching, and play with great enthusiasm. I am officially a fan (at least until April).

posted by Howard_T at 10:02 PM on October 15

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Subtlety, yes, but the framing of the pitch must be done very nicely. As an umpire, if I see the catchers glove move after the catch is made, I will usually make a ball call. The only way I won't is if the pitch is obviously a strike or the catcher was crossed up by the pitcher (expecting a pitch outside and getting one inside, etc.). A really accomplished catcher (Molina is the best at the craft) will start moving the glove before he makes the catch, and then continues the motion into the strike zone. When a pitch is just off the corner, it is really hard to tell whether the glove first contacted the ball in or out of the strike zone. The difference might be two or three calls per game, but in a close game that can make a real difference. A catcher who does it well is an artist, all the others are journeymen.

posted by Howard_T at 11:08 PM on October 14

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 16

It's time once again to hear the thrilling stories of the Old West. No, wait a minute, that was the radio intro to "The Lone Ranger". Let's try hearing the bold predictions of someone who has no idea of what he is doing. Some really tough games to predict this week, but that has never stopped me. We press onward.

Hamilton at Toronto: Tiger Cats vs Sailors of Myth. The story is told that just before the steamer Portland sailed from Boston's India Wharf on her ill-fated voyage in November 1898 (She now lies in the depths off Gloucester, MA.), one prospective passenger saw the ship's cat removing her litter of kittens from the vessel. The man opined that if the ship wasn't good enough for the cat, it wasn't for him either, thus saving his life. So sailors and cats have a long-standing relationship, but in this case it's the sailors who should jump ship. Hamilton by 5.

Ottawa at BC: Another set of cats welcomes those who sport the REDBLACK checkered pattern long associated with the lumber and outdoors industries. Cats have been known to climb trees and occasionally get stuck. The best advice is to leave kitty alone. Those in the know claim never to have discovered the skeleton of a dead cat in a tree. Look for Ottawa to be covered in the litter. BC by 17.

Saskatchewan at Montreal: Montreal retires a number, and Roughriders might want to see if Calvillo might want to unretire and play for them. Putting a rookie QB in the saddle against Calgary didn't work. His successor played better, but some mistakes by coaches and players cost them the game. Larks will be flying sky high, and Riders will be trying to stay on the horse. Montreal by 2.

Winnipeg at Edmonton: Blue Bombers will try to land safely on the ice at Edmonton while Eskimos stand by to watch the wreckage. It looks like the Bombers don't have the correct equipment to attempt an ice landing. Eskimos will try to mess up the navigation aids as well, so Winnipeg is in trouble. Although Edmonton has been inconsistent, they will hold together this week. Edmonton by 9.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on October 10

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Why do two nearly identical pitches produce different results? The answer might lie in the umpire's precise position on each of the pitches. After a pitch, the umpire will almost always straighten up to make the call. He then will place his feet into position to assume his stance, bend and crouch slightly as the pitcher begins his stretch or windup, and only when the pitcher is almost at the release point will the umpire go into his full crouch. We are taught certain visual clues to get us to proper positioning, but most of them depend on the batter's size and stance, and batters move a bit too. I know quite well that as hard as I might try, my head position and foot position are just a little different each time. It is not a great difference, perhaps an inch or two, give or take some fractions, but it is different. Thus the view of each pitch is very slightly different. When 2 pitches are as close to identical as the two in this case, the umpire's head and foot position can easily make one a strike and the other a ball. The .gifs aren't displaying on my laptop for some reason, but can anyone look closely enough at Dale Scott's head and determine if it is in exactly the same spot on both pitches? I don't think it is, nor can anyone determine so. If anything it will be in a slightly different spot on each pitch. The preceding is theory, but it is an entirely plausible explanation for the difference in calls.

posted by Howard_T at 09:30 PM on October 07

The NBA has a new TV deal.

Even the new deal is pretty sweet. $500 Mil plus some part of a deal between Silnas and the 4 former ABA clubs. It's a bit like hitting it big on one of your stocks, the stock paying good dividends and splitting several times. Now your position is "overweight", so you sell a big chunk of it and retain some small portion that is protected from dropping below a certain value. Nice work, Mr. Silnas.

posted by Howard_T at 05:53 PM on October 07

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

Or maybe I've just become grumpy as I've aged.

Welcome to the Smelly, Crotchety Organization of Old Farts, aka SCOOF. Remember our motto "Get off the lawn, you stinkin' brats". I do agree with your opinions on the national broadcasts. However, they are tame compared to what NESN trots out during its telecasts of Red Sox games. There are frequent shots of one or another celebrity, usually an advertiser, sitting in the stands with his cell 'phone growing out of his ear. Full innings of play-by-play are lost while our beloved Don and Jerry interview some guest who is promoting a charity event. When there are no guests, the description of game action is superseded by juvenile banter between the two broadcasters. This adds nothing to the production value of the program.

On a brighter note, I watched the MLB Network telecast of the Cardinals-Dodgers game last night, or was it this morning. This was a tight pitcher's duel between Greinke and Lynn, featured a good bit of decision making by the two managers, and showed that baseball does not need a lot of fast-paced action to be an absorbing, cerebral event. Add to this a fantastic 18-inning affair between Washington and San Francisco, where a manager's decision to pull a starter late in a game led to a tie game. Here again, every move, every pitch, every placement of the defense, every approach by a hitter, every little thing that happens in a game had a large impact.

I have been watching the Kansas City-Anaheim series closely as well. KC plays the sort of baseball that might almost be called "throwback". Good pitching, solid defense, apply pressure once you reach base, make the fielders think about what is going on, and you have a game where there is action as long as the ball is not dead. (Unlike other sports, the ball is in play at all times unless stopped by an umpire. The ball is put back into play by the plate umpire when the cause for the dead ball has been corrected and all are ready for play to resume. This previous is not intended to talk down to you all. It's just that some believe the ball is in play only when pitched.) Anaheim has played very, very well in this series, but KC seems to have made the one move per game that made the difference. It's been great baseball in this series, and overall a really good post-season so far.

As long as baseball is played the way the 10 teams involved in this post-season have played, the sport will not die. My hope is that those who announce and comment on the games will spend more time giving insight into the "inside baseball" aspects of the game. As insufferable as Harold Reynolds can be (does he ever shut up?), he still knows the game and can explain it quite well. The same is true of the analysts on TNT and Fox, for the most part.

posted by Howard_T at 01:05 PM on October 05

Watch the Senators beat the Giants in the 1924 World Series.

Amazing! I wonder if someone will do a little research into former owners of the property where the film was found to find out the connection. It could be that someone who owned or worked in a movie theater lived there and had the film left over from showing it.

What really got to me while watching it were the names. These were players my dad talked about when I was just becoming a sports fan. Bucky Harris, Walter Johnson, Muddy Ruel were active when my dad was in his twenties. Thanks so much for sharing, Ufez.

posted by Howard_T at 10:12 PM on October 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 15

My lead has been stolen from me. I guess it was the puns that did it. You should never tell a pun to a kleptomaniac; he takes everything, literally. Enough of that. It's time to pick something other than my nose.

Winnipeg at Ottawa: Recent failure against season-long futility is the feature here. Bombers are in the death spiral. To recover they need to apply power, point the nose down, apply opposite rudder and aileron, and hope there's enough altitude to allow the pull out. RedBlacks, meanwhile, have gotten it right only once this season. They have the home crowd, but can the players keep pushing in the face of all the frustration? The two most useless things in aviation are runway behind you and altitude above you. Bombers are in trouble. Ottawa by 4.

Calgary at Saskatchewan: Rough Riders are putting a new jockey into the saddle. Stampeders also are without their regular starter, but the replacement is starting his 3rd straight game. Experience is the best teacher. Calgary by 12.

Edmonton at Toronto: Argonauts want to emphasize their strength on the ground. Eskimos would rather they do not. The old saying about dog sleds is, "The lead dog is the only one who gets to watch the scenery change." If Toronto gets behind early, they will be stuck looking at a lot of canine backsides. Edmonton by 9.

BC at Hamilton: One cat seems to be a bit inconsistent while the other is just waking up and going on the hunt. Since the Tiger Cats own the litter box, they will kick a little bit of litter in the Lions' faces. Hamilton by 8.

We're done here. It's on to Cincinnati.

posted by Howard_T at 03:09 PM on October 02

Royals Steal 9-8 Win Over A's in Epic 12-Inning AL Wild Card

Lester walks off the mound with a good lead in the eighth inning. Lester proceeds to wind up with a no decision in a loss. Lester says to himself, "I really thought I had been traded out of Boston." Crazy game. I guess it was a case of Kansas City not knowing that it should not have been running when behind late in the game. The series vs Angels ought to be a good one.

posted by Howard_T at 11:27 PM on October 01

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

OK, my turn:

1. This is already a rule in high school and NCAA competition. The rule also contains exceptions for a swing and miss where the batter loses balance and exits the batters' box and any time there is a play after the pitch (wild pitch, passed ball, stolen base and throw, attempted pickoff). Exceptions are also for foul balls, batter attempting to get out of the way of a pitch, and one or two others that I cannot recall (reminder to self, dig out rule and case books before springtime).

2. I don't like this either. It is used in high school, NCAA, youth baseball, and the like. There are three things that can happen during an intentional walk, any of which can lead to some excitement. a. The batter can reach out and poke a close one to the opposite field. The fielders are usually not really ready for this. b. The pitcher can toss one way too wide for a wild pitch and advance by the runners. c. The catcher can cause a balk by exiting his box prior to the time of the pitch. This is covered by the rule that all fielders must be in fair territory except the catcher, who must be in his box. The time of the pitch is not when the ball is released but when the pitcher is committed to pitching and cannot stop without committing a balk.

3. Why not go back to the old rule of 1 minute between innings, clock started when all playing action has stopped at the third out? The numbers quoted for time of games, 2:35 30 years ago vs 3:02 now is not that great, when you consider that at least 16 of those minutes were added when the time between innings was changed to accommodate the TV advertisers. Go back to the old rule and you now have an average time of 2:46, and that is only 11 minutes longer. Soccer can make do with commercials flashed on the screen and snuck in during stoppages, ice hockey is the same, but the powers that be are backsliding with TV time outs. Advertisers on baseball games could be placated with silent on-screen messages or brief voice announcements. My between half-innings chant for many years was, "Come on, boys, hustle on and off. Let's keep the game moving. look like you're alive out here."

4. That makes sense. Call a ball for every 20 seconds over the limit, as long as the batter has entered the batters' box.

5. Limit the manager or pitching coach's visits to 3 (If a pitcher is changed during the visit, it doesn't count in the 3. Add one per inning for extra innings), but put no limit on infield conferences without a coach present. The umpire knows when it has gone on too long, and he should start out there to break it up after 15 or 20 seconds. If that doesn't happen, it's bad umpiring.

6. The limit should be 20 seconds to pitch or attempt a pickoff. There should be a similar rule for batters to get into the box in 20 seconds after the ball has been returned to the pitcher following a play or the start of an inning or a relief pitcher's 8-pitch warmup. With runners on base, stepping off the pitcher's plate should restart the clock, but the time should then be reduced to perhaps 10 to 15 seconds. Forget about clocks. Let the umpires do the job. Baseball is not a timed game, so if one umpire counts a bit slowly or quickly, let the players deal with it.

Oh heck. Forget about rule changes. Just put me in charge, and I'll have 2-hour ball games. Strike zones enlarged, players forced to hustle on and off. Pitchers made to hurry up and pitch. Batters told to stop fidgeting and get ready to hit. The umpires are in charge of the game once it starts. Let them have the authority to make the game quicker without changing the rules. Slow pitcher who refuses to step it up? Strike zone dead center from top of belt buckle to bottom of belt buckle. Batter who needs to perform yoga exercises between pitches? Strike zone from dugout to dugout and top of backstop to shoe laces.

posted by Howard_T at 11:19 PM on October 01

33 Short Stories about 33

Thanks for that, yerfatma. Celtics open practice for season ticket holders is one week from today. My blood is starting to run green. Rondo's out until mid-November with a broken hand, the team will be run by Paul Pressey and Marcus Smart, Sullinger and Olynyik are the only notables left over from last season, and another lottery finish looks probable. It doesn't matter. When you have been following the Celtics for as long as I have, there's always enthusiasm and pride.

posted by Howard_T at 09:18 PM on September 26