Recent Comments by Howard_T

LeBron Takes Cavaliers to NBA Finals in First Season Back

I got to see Wiggins once this year. I focused on him because my rheumatologist is a Kansas grad, and he was a one-man rooting section for Wiggins. So as I watched him against the Celtics in December, at a time when the Celtics' roster was in a state of flux, I couldn't help but think he was the invisible man. He was most unimpressive that night. Most likely it was just "one of those games". but I am still not really in the "Wiggins is wonderful" camp.

posted by Howard_T at 04:26 PM on May 27

LeBron Takes Cavaliers to NBA Finals in First Season Back

I think Ainge would overpay for Love.

(I know that at various times in my life, I would have done so.)

The Celtics could be a much better team with Love, but their more immediate need is a defensive rim protector. Those are few and far between.

I overpaid for love once, but that was in my misspent youth. I don't regret it, though.

posted by Howard_T at 02:02 PM on May 27

Henchmen arrested, but the Joker is still at large

all of the men arrested or charged are Western Hemisphere nationals

The key here is that the charges are all based on US banking regulations. The Western Hemisphere guys can be shown to have run some of their ill-gotten gains through US banks, and thus to have violated US law. If any of the rest of them can be shown to have used US banks, charges might be issued there as well.

The big question is whether or not any of the accused will ever come to trial in the US. Right now they are in Switzerland. Will the Swiss pull their passports and keep them there? If they contest extradition to the US, the procedure could take years. Will the Swiss allow them to travel? If so, they might head for one of many countries with no treaty of extradition with the US. Freezing, and eventually seizing their assets in the US might or might not work, since they probably have something of an emergency stash somewhere.

All in all, this might just be the impetus for FIFA reform, but I will not hold my breath. Also, keep an eye on the officiating when the US Women's team plays at the upcoming tournament. There could be some really interesting calls.

posted by Howard_T at 01:56 PM on May 27

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

My Dad always said that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak. Unfortunately, Twitter has allowed us the use all 10 fingers, thus overwhelming by a factor of 5 the idea of listening prior to commenting. Ah yes, Twitter, idiocy in 140 characters or less.

posted by Howard_T at 01:45 PM on May 27

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Truly, this is all about the Xs and Os.

Huntsville was picked by the army (NASA had nothing to do with it at first) because of the real estate available at Redstone Arsenal. The place is huge, and it has several miles of frontage along the Tennessee River that serves well as a heat sink for the testing of rocket engines. The base itself was once quite remote from settled areas; not so any more. I spent a total of about a year down there over the course of about 7 years, and it's one of the few places in the South I would consider living in. The influx of professionals into the area for the space program meant that the infrastructure developed strongly. There are 3 universities in the city, some really good restaurants, and Nashville is just a little over an hour away.

Dogs and chimps were used originally because they couldn't trust the locals in Houston not to screw up the rocket flight.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 PM on May 26

Hall of Fame Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes Dies

That would be a great movie.

My memory tells me there was a movie made about the Globetrotters back in the late '40s or early '50s. I do not remember the plot, but I think it had something to do with getting the Trotters into some sort of professional tournament. The film used to be a staple on late night TV until monster flicks took over that time slot.

Aha! Found it. This is the synopsis. I remember the plot vaguely now, and the Celtics team the Trotters were playing was the "New York" Celtics (ugh, disgusting), not the Boston variety. There was a second Globetrotters film called "Go Man Go". I remember the title, but nothing at all about the film.

The good news is that this film showed up on turner Classic Movies a few years ago, so it might come around again. While the film is nowhere near factually accurate, and according to some was poorly made, it at least features a number of the former Globetrotters, including Haynes himself.

posted by Howard_T at 10:14 PM on May 25

Hall of Fame Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes Dies

I saw the headline in an on-line sports source a few minutes ago. Now I cannot get the tune "Sweet Georgia Brown" out of my head. I remember when the Harlem Globe Trotters' visits to Boston were mandatory attendance for my dad and I. It was great entertainment, and it never seemed to grow stale.

posted by Howard_T at 08:25 PM on May 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Here's the rule, straight from the horse's mouth (or at least from the summary of rules).

When a team scores by touchdown, field goal, extra point, or safety and either team commits a personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, or obvious unfair act during the down, the penalty will be assessed on the following kickoff.

posted by Howard_T at 09:57 PM on May 21

Kraft Says Patriots Won't Appeal DeflateGate Punishment

Perhaps there is a darker side to Kraft's apparent submission. I read today that the NFLPA has asked that Goodell be held in contempt of court in connection with the Adrian Peterson case. If this is done, our favorite commissioner will have lost a great deal of credibility. It is also a sure thing that the NFLPA will aggressively pursue having Goodell testify as a witness at Brady's hearing. If he does, and does not recuse himself from ruling on the appeal, it's almost an automatic that the NFLPA will go to court to have anything but a favorable result (for Brady) set aside. Should this happen, the possibility for Goodell to perjure himself is there. If he gets it all wrong and does indeed commit perjury, I do believe the owners would be forced to dump him. I would not greatly surprise me were Kraft having someone work closely but clandestinely with Brady's defense team in order to set Goodell up.

posted by Howard_T at 10:51 PM on May 20

SpoFi NBA Pick 'Em

Count me out of this round. I had to work a baseball game by myself (no field umpire) yesterday, and by the time I got home, fixed dinner, cleaned up, and got to the laptop, I was dog tired. Overslept this morning, had to run to get to my game this afternoon, had a church vestry meeting that went late, and as a result I did not get to the laptop until about 2130. Too late. For the record, I'm looking at easy (4- or 5-game) wins for Golden State and Cleveland. As far as the side bets go, I have a day tomorrow that won't let me stop to breathe. (2 doctor's appointments, some critical mailings at the post office, and another game by myself. I'm thinking of taking my assigner to court for abuse of a senior citizen. (Problem is if the weather doesn't cooperate in March, teams can't get the fields ready before the season has already started. Thus a lot of middle school and JV games get rescheduled, as do the varsity games, and you wind up on any given day with 80 games and 130 umpires. The math doesn't work too well.)

posted by Howard_T at 11:39 PM on May 19

Kraft Says Patriots Won't Appeal DeflateGate Punishment

Two things come to mind. Kraft dropping the appeal might just involve some "new" facts about the deflation coming to light, causing Goodell to reduce the fine and/or restore one or both of the draft picks. Goodell will explain that Wells overlooked something or other in his report, the Patriots acted improperly, but were not the evil cheats everyone thought they were.

The second thing is that if the above does not happen, the next time Kraft and Goodell hug, there will be a figurative switch blade in Kraft's hand. In other words, Goodell will be on a very short leash, and one more screw-up in discipline, revenue, or relocation of teams will result in a new commissioner being sought.

posted by Howard_T at 11:28 PM on May 19

NFL Moves PAT Kicks Back to 15-Yard Line

Well, there goes the two-point conversion! The conversion rate for those from the 15 will be almost nil

The line of scrimmage for the 2-point conversion attempt will remain at the 2 yard line. Given game situations and especially weather conditions (wind, rain, snow), the number of 2-point attempts might actually increase. A proposal to move the 2-point line to the 1 was defeated.

posted by Howard_T at 11:16 PM on May 19

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 3

I was a bit surprised that Washington was able to extend Rangers to a 7th game. That series was much closer than I had thought it would be. Tampa Bay looked like they had the brooms out, but Montreal decided to play, Tampa laid back just a touch, but then Lightnings' skating and scoring showed up. Chicago finally started to put their entire game together, especially in goal, while Anaheim still looks like a machine. The conference finals will be quite fun to watch.

While Chicago has begun to look like Chicago, Anaheim still looks like Anaheim. In other words, very hard to deal with. Ducks winning the series will be no shock, but doing it in a somewhat dominating manner will be. Anaheim in 5.

New York vs Tampa Bay will be a good one. Rangers have perhaps the best remaining goaltender on the playoffs, but the Maine Black Bear, Ben Bishop, in the Tampa nets has looked good and seems to be getting a bit sharper. New York's defense will hold Lightning in check for long stretches of play, but the firepower of Tampa Bay will ultimately prevail. Tampa Bay in 7.

Top goal scorer: Tampa's Stamkos was in a deep slump against Montreal, but broke out in the last game of the series. I look for his drought to be over. Top goal scorer: Stamkos.

My pick for top power play scorer could easily have been my pick for overall goal scorer. He might still prove me wrong about that, but on the power play the top gun will be Anaheim's Perry.

The bad boy award for the most PIM is Rangers' Tanner Glass.

Save percentage is a tough pick. The winner of this category will come from the East, and he won't be Swedish. Look for the stopper to be Tampa's Ben Bishop.

posted by Howard_T at 10:45 PM on May 15

NFL Announces Punishment for Patriots' Deflated Balls

Here's a handy guide to cheating in the NFL. It appears that Patriots have plenty of company in the shenanigans department.

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on May 12

Yes, But Is It A Sport?

The word "sport" can refer to many things other than athletic competition. Definition 3, here, covers it pretty well. Contract Bridge, particularly duplicate bridge, is a game of skill. It is also a pretty good intellectual activity that offers a good bit of social interaction.

posted by Howard_T at 06:19 PM on May 09

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Denise McCluggage

I was an avid reader of her writings when I was in the age range from my late teens until my mid-30s. These are what I often refer to as my "younger, drunker, stupider days". I was much into cars, speed, racing, and all that went with it. MS McCluggage's writings illustrated an aspect of the automobile racing scene, especially Formula 1, that was unique and most enjoyable to see. I do not keep up with automobiles as I once did; age, marriage, and financial considerations have that effect. I have also failed in passing along a passion for wheeled vehicles to my son. He just bought a Subaru Outback and freely admitted he was driving a "mom car". Be all that as it may, MS McCluggage's obituary brought back a few memories of those "YDS" days. I may also steal the Housman poem to use when my own time comes along.

posted by Howard_T at 06:08 PM on May 09

NFL Investigator: Patriots Probably Deflated Balls on Purpose

It is more probable than not that Roger Goodell told Wells to come up with something -- anything -- that could possibly keep Goodell and the league from looking like complete a-holes on this. Why did it take so long for the report to be released? It took that long for Wells to interpret some text messages in the worst possible light, figure out how to frame the words so that the evidence would look damning and extensive, and finally how to term things that would allow a maximum of weasel room. Were this a criminal matter presented to a prosecutor by an investigator, the prosecutor wold throw the investigator out of the room while telling him that he could never get a conviction, let alone an indictment on evidence that thin.

I am convinced now that Brady's future lies in the political arena. He has demonstrated a mastery of the techniques for giving unrevealing answers and removing smoking guns. Hillary Clinton couldn't have done it better.

posted by Howard_T at 12:25 AM on May 07

SpoFi NBA Playoff Pick 'Em

I'm cheating by starting my picks on Notepad before Ufez posts the pick'em. Tomorrow is Sunday, that means early to rise for church and then a busy day after that. If I don't get to the picks now, I won't have another chance.

Let's start with the East and Atlanta vs Washington: Washington pulled off the sweep against Toronto and looked good doing it. I did not expect the sweep, but the series win happened just about the way I figured it would with Pierce and Wall leading. Atlanta will be an entirely different bird. While there is no real "superstar" that will take over a game, there is no real weakness to be exploited. Wizards have talent and probably learned a lot from the first round, but they just don't seem to have enough. It won't be easy, but I'll say Atlanta in 6.

Chicago vs Cleveland: Until game 4 in Boston, I would have said that Cleveland would walk into the East finals. Without having Kevin Love, playing Chicago could be a very tough proposition. Bulls can match up well enough up front and as long as Rose stays healthy, they might have an advantaage at the point. James is the best player on the floor, but without Love, is he enough? Irving hit all the shots when Cavaliers needed them, but I noticed that Cleveland's bench was not as good as Boston's. This could be the deciding factor. It is very hard to pick against LeBron, so I won't, but it will go the limit. Cleveland in 7.

Westward ho! (no, I'm not giving a lady directions here) and Memphis vs Golden State: The Grizzlies were just what I figured against a depleted Portland team. Now they are up agains what may be the very best in Golden State. I cannot see Memphis doing much here. My prediction is short and sweet, Golden State in 5.

LA Clippers vs Houston: The Rockets have James Hardin, Dwight Howard, Corey Brewer, and Josh Smith. The Clippers have Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, J. J. Redick, and most importantly Chris Paul. This last-named player will have the largest impact on the series. Houston does not have a point guard who is the equivalent. One major liability is DeAndre Jordan. San Antonio used the deliberate foul against Jordan to good effect. Kevin McHale is no dummy, so look for him to go that route too. This series could be as good as the LA - San Antonio series just completed. I look for LA Clippers in 7.

Rebounders:

East -- Gasol, Chicago Bulls West -- Jordan, LA Clippers

3-point goals: Kyle Korver, Atlana hawks

Assists per Game: 8.6

posted by Howard_T at 11:56 PM on May 02

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Jameis Winston

The crab legs photo does not show a lack of maturity. Rather it displays a massive arrogance on the part of someone who has been catered to since the time his athletic ability was first noticed. Sooner or later one of two things will happen. He will be brought up short on a leash and realize that acting like a punk is about to cost him a lot of money, or he will continue in his behavioral pattern and get himself into some real trouble that cannot be covered up. If it is the former, Winston might just have a chance to become something; if the latter, he's done and Tampa Bay is the big loser.

Maybe it's a New England Puritan rectitude thing, but I share the intense dislike for Mr. W.

posted by Howard_T at 10:54 PM on May 01

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 2

Minnesota vs Chicago: I should go with Chicago, but Minnesota took down St. Louis, a team with better talent but poor goaltending. The situation seems to be the same with Blackhawks. Minnesota in 6. Kane the scorer. +1

Anaheim vs Calgary: Thought Vancouver could eliminate Calgary. Instead the flames toasted the Canucks. Flames will not roast the Ducks. Anaheim in 5. +2 Perry to be the lamplighter. +1

Montreal vs Tampa Bay: Ottawa did not do what I thought they were capable of doing, that is to steal a series against Montreal. Instead, the hockey gods, and perhaps some of them were wearing striped shirts, deemed it meet that Canadiens should once again advance. Tampa Bay's young talent can skate and score with Montreal, but will they? I will bite the bullet and say no. Montreal in 7. Max Pacioretty tops the goal list.

New York Rangers vs Washington: Capitals did exactly what I thought they would against Islanders, but it was more difficult for them than it should have been. They will play no better against Rangers, and this will spell their doom. New York in 5 +1. Brassard to be high scorer.

I have to go with the chalk for the goaltending. Low GAA goes to Price.

posted by Howard_T at 05:36 PM on April 30

What would happen if you played a baseball game and nobody came out to watch?

This means I might have more spectators watching me umpire at one of my middle school games than at the Orioles vs White Sox. I feel proud and humble.

posted by Howard_T at 05:18 PM on April 28

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

This is from owlhouse territory, the Canterbury Park Racecourse. The jockey says there is quite a bit of national exposure for this. There have been no comments from the horses or jockeys that were trailing him.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 AM on April 25

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

a couple of novels and an esky

Most of my games will be played on public school grounds, so alcohol is strictly out of the question. If you even try to light up a tobacco product inside your car with the windows closed on school grounds, it will cost you a quick $100. Noo Hampshuh is slowly moving away from the state motto, "Live Free or Die".

posted by Howard_T at 12:15 AM on April 22

Fan Hit in Head by Foul Ball Through Home-Plate Netting

I was at Fenway Park with my son, then younger than 10, sitting in the left field grandstand seats quite close to the wall that parallels the left field foul line. During batting practice my attention was momentarily distracted, and I looked up to see a screaming line drive just a few feet away and heading directly for my son. I could not have reacted quickly enough, but at the last second a glove interspersed itself between the ball and my son's face. It was far too close a call, and I will never do that again.

posted by Howard_T at 12:06 AM on April 22

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Somebody call in the linesmen and break up this hockey fight. Too bad if they do, it's just getting good. The problem with Edmonton's young talent is that Edmonton just doesn't get much exposure in the US media. Whenever they do, the youngsters are fully appreciated for their skills, do not seem to be suffering from poor coaching, but are stuck in a city that does not draw a lot of attention for much of anything. I'm not trying to run Edmonton down, but the city just doesn't hit the headlines much, for sports or anything else. Sooner or later, one or more of these players will move to a stronger team in a more noticeable city, and then the recognition will come.

posted by Howard_T at 03:24 PM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Two hour and two minute Sunday night baseball game

Not bad, but I took a middle school game through 7 full innings in 1:45 last Friday afternoon. With middle schoolers, who so often stand with the bat on their shoulders, turning the game into a walk-a-thon, it is rather extraordinary to get it done in less than 2 hours. The key, as holden has suggested, is for the pitchers to throw strikes and the batters to respond by swinging at them. Even at the MLB level the umpiring has a lot to do with it as well. A generous strike zone, as long as it's consistent, will speed things up considerably. It's too bad so many umpires seem to have a strike zone that limits what a pitcher can do.

posted by Howard_T at 03:15 PM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

A Rod and Signature significance.

That great baseball analyst (and former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman) Alan Greenspan had the exact term for this. He called it "Irrational Exuberance", and the term seems to fit exactly. Of course, Mr. Greenspan was talking about economic expectations during the "dot com" stock market bubble of the 1990s. The dot com bubble was out at the plate in 2000.

posted by Howard_T at 03:08 PM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Why I didn't a-know thet, Tahoemoj. Tell me, did it dig up a bone for Barbie Benton?

two sets of laws of aerodynamics (with one pertaining to the human form)

Did any of you know that Howard Hughes invented a bra for Jane Russell that highlighted her best feature (or features, to be more accurate) for her role in The Outlaw?. Hughes took advantage of his experience in aircraft design to develop a sort of articulated lift for MS Russell, and the result was, shall we say, spectacular. The secret is that she did not like the Hughes design, and made a substitute from one of her own bras padded with tissue and re-shaped with tightened straps. Howard Hughes once commented, "There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough."

posted by Howard_T at 03:18 PM on April 18

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Just devastated. Heading out to slug down some Patron,

I was never a fan of Sabado Gigante, but I did watch it every once in a while. Don't tell my wife, but the feature I really appreciated was the bevy of lovely and well endowed ladies that populated the program.

My meager kingdom to have Hee-Haw available on Netflix.

There's an occasional re-run on RFDTV, if your cable or satellite provider carries that channel. I watched Hee-Haw for the same reasons I watched Sabado Gigante. As you might suspect, I fulfill both requirements to be a dirty old man.

posted by Howard_T at 12:49 AM on April 18

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em

OK, here goes. I am absolutely thrilled to once again go to a Boston Celtics playoff game -- or 2 or 3. It should be 2 for sure, but my son's girlfriend might want to go to game 4. I would complain, but she's my fitness trainer as well as son's girlfriend, and a really nice person to boot.

Atlanta vs Brooklyn: The no stars Hawks should have little difficulty with Brooklyn. On the "blind hog and acorn" theory, Nets will take one game, but the rest will be no contest. Atlanta in 5.

Cleveland vs Boston: Isaiah Thomas goes absolutely bonkers, averages 36 per game, a trio of Celtics defenders wears down LeBron James to the point where he loses his temper in game 3 and is ejected and suspended for attacking an official, and the Celtics win the series. All this will happen sometime in the next two nights, and then I will awaken from the dream. Cleveland in 5.

Chicago vs Milwaukee: The Bucks have been a bit of an enigma, looking unbeatable on some evenings and quite ordinary on others. On the other hand, the Bulls have suffered all year from injury, and at times seem to have stopped listening to Coach Thibodeau. Rose is back, but is he back to his top form? I look for the Bucks to stop here. Chicago in 6.

Toronto vs Washington: Raptors are a talented bunch. Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan, and Louis Williams can fill the nets, while Valanciunas can get the ball off the boards. Defense could be a problem for them. Washington lacks the scorers of Toronto, but Wall and Gortat sre a tough combination to stop. One thing that Wizards have is the playoff experience of one gray bearded Paul Pierce. His presence on the floor, on the bench, and in the locker room will keep Washington focused. This will be no easy series, but it's Washington in 6.

Golden State vs New Orleans: The best team in the NBA against one that crawled into the post season in its last game. To quote Ogden Nash, "A remarkable bird is the Pelican, his beak holds more than his belly can." New Orleans will stick its beak into Golden State, but will wind up with a belly full of Warriors' basketball. Golden State in 4.

Houston vs Dallas: Who cares about the NBA championship; this one is for the championship of Texas. It could very well prove to be the best series of the 8 being played in the first round. Rockets have Jams Harden and Trevor Ariza to do their scoring, and with Dwight Howard back they have a third threat. The Mark Cuban AC counters with Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chandler Parsons. The question for Dallas is whether or not Rajon Rondo is able to work within the system and support the others. I watched Rondo for his years in Boston, and I know he saves his best for the big moments. This series is the one I will watch when it's available. I look for Dallas in 7.

Los Angeles Clippers vs San Antonio Spurs: Doc Rivers vs Gregg Popovich; Tim Duncan vs Blake Griffin; Kawhi Leonard vs J. J. Reddick. The matchups in this one are intriguing. The only problem with this series is that too many of the games will be in the Pacific time zone. I mean, I'm a night owl, but that's ridiculous. The big difference between these two clubs is at the point guard position. Chris Paul against Paddy Mills might be spectacular. As good as Mills has been this year, I look to Chris Paul to guide the Clippers and sell plenty of insurance. Los Angeles in 7.

Portland vs Memphis: Trail Blazers might have problems if Chris Kaman and Nicolas Batum miss any time in this one. Both are questionable for game 1. Damian Lillard can make up a lot of the Portland offense, but can he do enough without the others? Injuries are a problem for Memphis as well. Tony Allen, one of the best defenders in the league, is coming back from a hamstring strain and is questionable for game 1. Mike Conley is likewise questionable after missing the last 4 games with a sprained foot. Beno Udrih is a competent backup at the point, but after him only rookie Russ Smith is left. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Jeff Green will provide sufficient offense for the Grizzlies, and can also play enough defense to slow Kaman and Batum. Memphis in 6.

High scorer in the East: DeMar DeRozan High scorer in the West: James Harden Ejected player: Yannick Noah (on a flagrant 2) 3-point moneyball (scoring average): 36.2

posted by Howard_T at 12:29 AM on April 17

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

My favorite romantic sports feud

This was no feud, rather it was friendliness to excess. Back in 1973, Yankee teammates pitchers Floyd Peterson and Mike Kekich engaged in occasional wife swapping. Look at item 6 in the link. It grew to the point where the two actually traded wives. I always wondered if there was a player to be named later in that trade.

posted by Howard_T at 11:17 PM on April 15

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Now

With the Bruins alternating between highly entertaining and brutally incompetent this season, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the NHL this season. I will attempt to pull a few out of my hat.

Montreal vs Ottawa: Senators might just pull Montreal's old trick of introducing a relative newcomer in goal, having him go on an insane hot streak, and steal the series. Ottawa in 6.

Islanders vs Washington: Two words: Ovechkin, Trotz. With Ovechkin playing really good hockey and Trotz having sold his defensive responsibility schemes, the Caps are looking strong. Washington in 5. +1

Chicago vs Nashville: Blackhawks talent is not music to the Music City team. Chicago in 5. +1

Calgary vs Vancouver: It took a bit of time, but Vancouver seems to have jelled. Calgary can be tough, but not tough enough. Vancouver in 7.

Pittsburgh vs Rangers: Penguins have to be the playoff team that has done the least with the most talent. There are others in this category, but none made the playoffs. Rangers are solid from top to bottom. Rangers in 4. +1

Detroit vs Tampa Bay: Red Wings made the playoffs through the grace and ineptitude of a few other teams. Tampa Bay has a lot of young talent. Tampa Bay in 5 +1.

Minnesota vs St. Louis: This is another pairing of a solid team with some depth against a good team that plays hard. Go with the Blues here. St. Louis in 6.

Winnipeg vs Anaheim: Duck! It's the Jets. Jets (at least those of the US Navy and Marine Corps variety) can't fly without JP-5 fuel, while ducks do nicely on whatever they can find. Jets will be grounded and ducks will swim placidly on the frozen pond. Anaheim in 5 +1.

Goal scorers to watch: Ovechkin is an easy pick. I have to look at Stamkos, Tavares, and Monahan, but figure Washington to get put on the power play often enough to give the nod to the Russian. Top Scorer is Ovechkin.

Note for Ufez, if you put up an NBA pickem, I'm in. I have my seats for the first 2 Celtics home games, section 316, Row 5, Seats 9 and 10. Go Celtics. Nice thing this year is that the team does not charge the season ticket accounts until the games are scheduled and necessary. Two years ago they made buying a full playoff package a part of the season ticket renewal, then had to credit the accounts for games not played. It wasn't exactly fair, but there are worse things done.

posted by Howard_T at 05:11 PM on April 15

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Perhaps the Leafs will go out and get Chiarelli

Their current roster would be all in favor of same. Chiarelli would give many of them high-priced, long-term deals that could keep the Leafs irrelevant forever. He might even trade Phil Kessel back to Boston for a couple of bags of pucks.

posted by Howard_T at 01:34 PM on April 15

Aaron Hernandez convicted of 1st-degree murder

I can think of a few things to give him in a going away party. A copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People would be useful. A supply of Soap on a Rope is always handy in a prison environment. Perhaps some boxing lessons, a few "how-to"books on easily crafted weapons, and a contacts list of those who can supply certain contraband goods will serve him well.

posted by Howard_T at 01:22 PM on April 15

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

This story from The Christian Science Monitor tells why the Padres have signed a former pitcher each year for about 20 years. It makes me like the team even more, and actually gives me a reason to like Larry Lucchino.

posted by Howard_T at 06:54 PM on April 10

Who are the "Franchise Four"?

Who do you pick as your #4 Boston player (behind Young, Yaz, and Williams)? Ortiz or Martinez?

I'm not sure whether or not I would include Yaz. The case for him is strong, witness his contribution to the club for so many seasons, but there are some, Foxx, Doerr, even Ruth, who might also be included. Given that Yaz is included, I might pick a 4th who was not all that great on the field, but whose contributions to the club extended over some 3-score years. That would be Johnny Pesky, teammate of Williams and fixture with the team until his death in 2012.

Johnny Pesky? You're all laughing at me now. That's the trouble with you punk kids; you don't know anybody who played before 1975 or so. You young whippersnappers ought to bone up on your history some day. Now get off my lawn!

posted by Howard_T at 01:41 AM on April 10

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Were there actual fans who thought that though?

I should have said "talking heads" rather than fans. Nonetheless, as bad as the talking heads are in Boston, they don't live in a vacuum. There are more than a few fans who actually think they might just have a clue.

posted by Howard_T at 12:29 AM on April 07

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Mookie Betts is on pace for 300 or so home runs.

Isn't Betts one of the players so many BoSox fans were anxious to trade to the Phillies for Cole Hamels? After 5, Hamels line is 4R, 4ER, 5H, 3BB, 6K, 4HR. Meanwhile, Clay Buccholz is at 5IP, 0R, 1H, 1BB, 6K. The mantra was "We don't have an ace, get Hamels". But to be sure, the season is 162 games long. Patience, patience in all things.

posted by Howard_T at 04:47 PM on April 06

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

reffed by the officiating crew from the 1972 Olympics gold medal game

It's a strange phenomenon that has happened to me and more than a few others when officiating a game. You mess up a call early on. You can't change it, you begin to tighten up, and sure enough along comes another tight call -- and sure enough, you get it wrong. By now you want to find the secret tunnel exit to get you off the field, but it's closed today. It seems to be a guaranteed outcome that you will have a few more tight calls, and whether or not you get them correct, the crowd will be all over you. The shot clock call toward the end of the game was clearly wrong, but probably excusable. With the crowd noise, a buzzer that was not very loud, and the need to have your eyes looking in two places at the same time, it is not an easy call. I do not believe the call had a significant effect on the outcome, but under the circumstances it sure looked bad.

posted by Howard_T at 11:07 AM on April 05

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

RIP Eddie LeBaron

Here is a short autobiography that talks about LeBaron's Marine Corps service. He downplays much of what he experienced, but judging from the actions in which he participated, he was one very tough customer.

posted by Howard_T at 10:36 PM on April 03

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

On another subject, there have been one or two April 1 items on Facebook and in various news articles. After posting about a pickup basketball game with Michael Jordan and a few others, Brady posted a Photoshop version of his face superimposed upon someone in a full body cast. The photo sported a supposed Michael Jordan autograph. Another is a report of the Boston Red Sox trading Shane Victorino and most of their prospects to Detroit for David Price. Boston Celtics' forward Kelly Olynyk fooled everyone in tonight's game vs Indiana. Despite running into a Shavlik Randolph elbow while doing some one-on-one before the game, and having an eye that looked like he had gone a round or two with the UFC Heavyweight champion, Olynyk went out and scored a team high 19 points. The eye took 4 stitches to put back together, but I guess that Olynyk, being Canadian, has something of a hockey player mentality.

The biggest April Fool story of the day is that despite a misspent youth, and a highly questionable adult life, yours truly made it to his 74th birthday on April 1 without spending any significant time being incarcerated. We haven't quite reached the doddering stage yet. I'm signed on to help out umpiring sub-varsity high school and middle school baseball this spring. We'll see if the season will ever start, since many of the fields still have snow on them. Some of the more fortunate schools are able to use indoor facilities, but most, especially the smaller ones up north, will not be on the field for quite a while yet. Perhaps I'm fooling myself by thinking that I can keep up with the kids, but I'm feeling good, so why not?

posted by Howard_T at 12:45 AM on April 02

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I would suggest unbelievably fortunate. A few inches lower and they are trying to reattach his head. Unlucky to the extent that the contact was below the visor. Very lucky that the rear of the skate blade did not poke directly into the eye.

My wife had foot surgery a week ago and had the bandages removed yesterday. The stitches on her right foot look a lot like those on Miller's face. Come to think of it, it looks a bit like one of Gerry Cheevers' old masks.

posted by Howard_T at 12:23 AM on April 02

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

It's an idiotic rule. On occasion I worked on a flight line testing one or another aircraft system. Often we were working with engines turning and no access to any communication with the pilot in the cockpit. We usually had to relay numbers for switch settings. The way we communicated single digit numbers from 6 - 9 was to hold up 5 fingers on one hand, place the other hand in front with the first knuckles even with the heel of the rear hand, and hold up the required number of fingers to add to the number required. It was a system that was well understood by all. The other part of this was always to flash the digits one at a time. For example, the number 17 would be flashed by first holding up a single finger and then holding up the 5 and 2 digits using both hands as described above. Do you think that NCAA referees and scorekeepers might be able to figure out such a system?

posted by Howard_T at 11:07 PM on March 31

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Early favorite for sportswriter of the year.

The guy gets paid for crap like this?

posted by Howard_T at 09:35 PM on March 30

The Hidden Value of a Knuckleballer

I have heard this idea before, and there seems to be merit in it. The reverse might be true as well. When Boston used Tim Wakefield as a closer, coming in behind a pitcher with a "conventional" fast ball, batters seemed to have a great deal of difficulty slowing themselves down to the knuckleball. The same phenomenon applies to a driver who, after 2 hours of 70 mph interstate driving, slows to 50 on an off ramp. It seems like you are crawling.

posted by Howard_T at 03:20 PM on March 25

Obama Proposal Could End Taxpayer-Subsidized Pro Sports Stadiums

For what it's worth in relation to the arguments over public funding of sports venues, I offer the following. The emotional attachment to a team in your city can be quite strong, even if you never go to one of their games. Walk around anywhere in New England and look at the number of Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics hats, shirts, and jackets. I would bet that fewer than 25% of those who sport the gear have been to a game of that team in the past season, or perhaps even the past 5 seasons.

I have just renewed my Boston Celtics season tickets. It's something of a luxury, although the cost for the 2 seats is not a budget buster for me. I have tried to make it to at least one Patriots game per season, but did not this year. I don't think I will try for the coming season, either. The seats are expensive, getting to and from the games from southern NH is a real pain, and the seats that are usually available are located "somewhere in the Town of Foxborough". While I am a baseball and hockey fan, I will not go to Fenway Park, and I probably won't go to TD Garden for a Bruins game. I can get my baseball fix with a collegiate level wooden bat game at the local park. College hockey is readily available, with 3 teams within less than an hour's drive and 4 more in Boston.

So why did I choose the Celtics for season tickets rather than one of the other teams? First of all, I go back to the 1952-53 season with the team. I lived in the town of Winthrop, MA, which by public transportation was less than 30 minutes away (if connections were good). The cost for a game was affordable for a kid of 11 or 12 who was in the process of getting filthy rich by delivering newspapers. The best bet was to get my dad interested in the team and talk him into going to a game. The Celtics became the only championship winning team in Boston, and continued a winning tradition throughout the 1960s and well into the 1970s. I was absent from the area for most of those years, but I still followed the team.

I know I will not attend all 43 of the games in the coming season (ticket plan includes 2 exhibition games), so why renew? I will use a number of the tickets as prizes for fund raisers at my church or for the PTO at the school where my wife works. I will sell a few to a couple of people I know who want to go to the occasional game but don't want the hassle of buying tickets through the team and having to figure out whether the seats are any good. Still, I'll eat a few, but I really don't worry about it. In short, while the money I spend could be used for something else, it isn't that I'm taking food out of my wife's mouth. I'm not wealthy, but I am certainly comfortable. Thus, I can afford a few luxuries, and the Celtics are one of them.

posted by Howard_T at 11:47 PM on March 20

Formula E Racing Comes to U.S.

The changing cars halfway through just proves that electric cars will never work unless you have a regular car also.

Drive your local commutes everyday but if you want to take a trip forget it.

That's the kind of thing that buggy owners said about gas-powered "automobiles" over 100 years ago. If you really think this is the be-all-end-all of battery tech, then you're probably going to be very surprised in the (near) future.

Electric vehicles at this point in their development are not quite there as a replacement for the internal combustion engine (ICE). Range and refueling (charging) times do not compare favorably. The hybrid vehicle offers the best compromise between fully electric and fully ICE. Admittedly, Tesla has come close to a practical fully electric vehicle, but is not quite there yet. Battery technology has been in development for over a century, but until the last quarter century or so there was little progress. When newer materials for battery production were introduced, batteries got a lot better. The lithium-ion (LIon) device is now a standard, but other than incremental improvements to the LIon battery, nothing of great importance seems to be on the horizon.

Having said that, the technology that might make all-electric vehicles not just practical but preferable is in a stage of development that might be ready to break out. I am speaking of higher-temperature super conducting materials. These materials offer low resistance paths for the conduction of electricity when temperatures are held higher than those usually associated with super-conduction, that is temperatures of liquid nitrogen or lower. Private industries are working with carbon fiber, weaving it into transmission cables. The technology has great importance for the transmission of electricity over distance, and if used for the windings of electric motors, it could improve their efficiency as well.

In short, batteries are not the wave of the future, but there are other things that might make the present state of the art battery suitable to be the fuel source for all-electric vehicles.

posted by Howard_T at 11:55 PM on March 16

"Why not go for 70?"

Forgive me if someone has cited this previously, but when a statue of Dominique Wilkins was recently unveiled in Atlanta, Larry Bird's comment was, "I'm sure it does not show him in a defensive stance." Some things never change.

posted by Howard_T at 05:47 PM on March 14

The NFL free-agency period begins with a slew of major moves

I assumed letting Browner shop around was because they were resigning Revis . . .

Now Browner has gone to New Orleans for 3 years at $18 million. There's some guaranteed money there too, but I can't recall what it was. Supposedly the Saints wanted him so they could better cope with some of the tall receivers in the NFC South.

posted by Howard_T at 01:37 AM on March 13

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I was unaware of cities and states singling out certain occupations for taxation while not charging others the same tax. I am not a lawyer, but what I do know from history is that laws that are unequally applied usually do not stand review by higher courts. I would bet that Hillenmeyer and Saturday have a decent chance of prevailing in the courts.

One sneaky thing to do might be to have one's agent research the tax laws of each NHL city and state. If such laws are on the books, have the agent get one's contract restructured so that games in those cities or states are paid at a very low rate, and the difference is made up in other games. If such contracts are allowed by the NFL, it could raise a bit of nasty with taxes.

posted by Howard_T at 09:57 PM on March 10

Hassan Whiteside's Cinderella season

Whiteside's latest adventure has cost him a game and some money. His hit on Olynyk was unnecessary, unthinking, and basically stupid. Here's a link to the Boston Globe article with a video. Look at where Whiteside's elbows are when he shoves Olynyk. It's nearly a head shot, and the NHL might have given him 5 games.

I nearly lost my breakfast when I read of Dwayne Wade's comments. Evidently Whiteside did not learn enough from Wade about how to get away with cheap shots, and Wade has called him out. Wade is nothing but hypocritical when he talks about others. In the 4th quarter, as Boston was beginning to pull away, Wade put a shot on Isaiah Thomas that put Thomas to the floor. Thomas had to leave the game, he is badly bruised on the back and arm, and will have tests to determine if there is any further damage. Add this to Wade's take down of Rondo a few years ago that put Rondo out for the duration of the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals and his shove of Darren Collison in the 2012 post season. In short, Wade has a history of cheap shots that have not always been adequately dealt with by the NBA.

posted by Howard_T at 09:42 PM on March 10

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I'm not sure Mr. Packard's statement that players from a visiting team are subject to state income taxes is universally correct. I worked for a company in New Hampshire, which has no personal income tax. I spent a lot of time working for my employer in states that had personal income taxes. As long as my employment was considered as temporary with a fixed time limit, and I maintained my home of record in New Hampshire, I was generally exempt from paying any tax to the other state. Our accountants kept track of where I was working and the applicable laws. They would warn me were I remaining too long in one place, and they would then start withholding income tax as applicable. Suffice it to say, they never had to withhold any state income tax from me. Each state law is different, so Mr. Packard might well be correct for certain states, but what he has written does not apply everywhere.

My son is now employed as a state tax researcher, so I will ask him what he knows of the subject. His problem is that although he is a New Hampshire resident his employer is in Massachusetts. Thus he gets to pay his dues to the "Peoples' Republic".

posted by Howard_T at 03:06 PM on March 10

Baseball's fight with fatigue

I read someplace that coffee was the substitute of choice when the amphetamines disappeared from the dugout. Could this explain why a certain doughnut chain advertises on so many sporting events. "America runs on Dunkin".

posted by Howard_T at 01:39 PM on March 07

Curt Schilling Declares War on Twitter Trolls Abusing His Daughter

The jerks who decided to spew the garbage on Schilling's daughter very likely presumed that their anonymity would protect them. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that Mr. Schilling is tech savvy enough that he was able to expose them for what they are. The nearest thing I can come up with is to have a couple of high school yoyos talking stink about your daughter while you are waiting around the corner of the hall for a teacher's conference. I'm fully in favor of Schilling's actions on this.

Perhaps the standard on the internet ought to be "would you dare to say these things to someone's face?" If by doing so you would be taking a serious risk of having your facial features permanently rearranged, it might be a good idea not to say what you are thinking.

Schilling included a bunch of links in his blog. I did not follow any of them, but the urls all led to stories about suicides that were due in some part to harassment on the internet. Having your daughter ripped on twitter, but being strong enough to survive is one thing. Having your teen age son or daughter take his or her own life because of the harassment is quite another. I really don't think Schilling was strong enough in his reaction.

posted by Howard_T at 11:12 PM on March 02

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I always loved his first name, Orestes. Nobody with a name inspired by Greek mythology could be all bad, and this Red Sox fan enjoyed watching him on TV whenever the White and Red varieties of hose paired up. He was an exciting and colorful personality. RIP.

posted by Howard_T at 05:04 PM on March 01

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Anthony Mason, dead at 48.

Shocked to see this. Mason was one of those guys who was never considered "indispensable superstar", but was certainly a "glue" player. By that I mean he was usually not seen, but certainly made a lot of things stay together. RIP.

posted by Howard_T at 05:52 PM on February 28

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

to mix and match a bit, Harold "Betty" Stark

Stark received his nickname as a plebe at Annapolis in 1899. There was an entertainer named Betty Stark who was quite popular at the time.

As long as you're talking about admirals, why not include William F. "Bull" Halsey. He disliked the nickname, was usually known as "Bill" in Navy circles, but the press and public forced it upon him. There is an apocryphal story that "Bull" might have started as a simple typo when a right middle finger or index finger missed by one key.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on February 23

Igor Larionov reflects on playing for Red Army, and what is wrong with North American hockey

"Throw it in deep and forecheck. Set up the trap when the other team gains control in its own end." This seems to be the mantra for today's game. The only real creativity you see now is on turnovers in the neutral zone or the offensive zone, and avoiding these keeps players from trying to do something other than the throw and go game. The skating skills in today's game are as good or better than they ever were. Perhaps that's part of the problem, defensemen are more mobile than "back in the day", so forwards cannot maneuver as freely as they once did. One theme keeps coming back to me: "Widen the rinks to the international standard". Of course, this means that owners will have to give up a few rows of high-priced seats. So much for that idea.

posted by Howard_T at 03:32 PM on February 23

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

disgruntled point guard Benedict Cumberbatch

So now he can play imitation games?

The Imitation Game is worth the price. A bit of WWII and cold war history, a bit about Asberger's Syndrome, and a bit about attitudes toward homosexuality. Good stuff.

posted by Howard_T at 09:15 PM on February 21

Chargers, Raiders Pursue Shared Stadium in Los Angeles

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a good example. Having Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium in the area instead of somewhere in the 'burbs has made a huge difference there.

The Inner Harbor had been "renewed" before Camden Yards and the Ravens' Stadium were built. It has been a continuing effort in Baltimore to build on what had been started with the Pratt Street and Light Street Pavilions and the Aquarium. The pavilions offered some good restaurants and shops, and the Aquarium attracted a lot of people to the area. Over the years historic ships and other things have been added. The point is that Camden Yards replaced a chunk of underutilized land with a baseball park, thereby bringing a lot more people to the Inner Harbor shops and restaurants on game days. I'm sure the Ravens do the same. The point is that the Inner Harbor development was well underway before either stadium was built. It moght be that the stadia were located as they are because of the Inner Harbor's success.

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 AM on February 21