Recent Comments by Howard_T

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

What are they Espys?

The Espys, or more properly, the ESpys, pronounced E Spies, are members of a super-secret group of intelligence gatherers who specialize in the electronics industry. The acronym of course means "Electronic Spy". The group is quite benign, gathering its data from news sources, research papers, professional journals, and interviews with those in the electronics industry. No cloak and dagger stuff here. The work of the ESpys has been critical in developing countermeasures against the electronic capability of nations that are hostile to world peace. As part of the effort to keep this group out of public exposure, ESPN has cooperated by naming a phony awards ceremony after the group, thereby giving good cover to the name.

In other words, if you don't have a good answer, make something up.

posted by Howard_T at 09:07 PM on July 17

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 4

There is something wrong here. First of all, I'm getting my picks in 2 days before the kickoff. Second of all, I'm shown as tied with the eminent Dr. John for first place. This is strange, since Dr. John lives in Canada where they play these games, and my only connection to Canada is my Nova Scotian father. Well, he did teach me the words to "Oh Canada" and "The Maple Leaf Forever", so that's something. Now on with the business at hand. That is, it is time to disabuse myself of any notion that I really know what I am doing with these picks.

Edmonton at Winnipeg: Two teams at 3-0 meet in an early season attempt to establish the pecking order. Wait a minute, the only team that has anything to do with pecking is the Alouettes, and Winnipeg took care of that last week. Eskimos look like they would gladly exchange a peck on the cheek with Bombers, but might experience a slap in the face instead. Winnipeg by 3.

Toronto at Ottawa: Here is one at the opposite end of the structure. Argonauts are 1-2, while the Redblacks are winless in their 2 attempts. While Toronto would seem to enjoy the advantage of having done this a time or two, Ottawa is playing before their home crowd for the first time in the regular season. Home cooking will mean a lot here. Ottawa by 4.

Hamilton at Calgary: Stampeders have been doing just that to their opponents so far, while the striped kitties are hurting. The running quadruped herd should have little difficulty with the cats. Calgary by 16.

Montreal at BC: The birds stumbled out of the gate in week 1, but that was against Calgary, and says more about Calgary than it does about Montreal. Alouettes did manage to outfly the big cats at home, but now they have had to make the long trek to the left coast. The 2500 or so miles is a long way to expect a lark to fly without wearing down its wings. Meanwhile, the cats would lie to feast on birds before their home fans. BC by 12.

posted by Howard_T at 09:21 PM on July 15

Germany Wins World Cup

It is quite obvious that FIFA needs to do something about concussions before there is a fatality or a court action for damages instituted by players. There have been a couple of suggestions in the comments so far, and I will add my own take on them.

Allow a temporary substitution while an independent physician conducts a concussion protocol. This makes clear sense, but could it be used to get a late game rest for a tiring star player? This is not likely, but a layer of video review could be added to the evaluation just to make sure there really was contact that could have produced injury.

Allow a "free" substitution (not counted in the allowed 3), but not allow the injured player to come back in. Again, this could be abused, but if it's one of your better players that is supposedly injured, you would not be likely to try this.

No substitution, temporary or otherwise, for the injured player, but temporarily sit a player on the opposite team for as long as it takes to make the medical evaluation. Once the inured player either returns or is substituted for, both sides return to full manpower. The player who sits for the non-injured team must be of equivalent position to the injured player, e.g. striker for striker, midfielder for midfielder, and so on. This could be awkward, but would not give either side a great advantage. What to do if a keeper is injured would be another story.

Better minds than mine can come up with ways to do this, and ways to "bullet-proof" them against abuse. There is any number of problems in FIFA, but this one needs to be looked at right away.

posted by Howard_T at 05:19 PM on July 14

Blackhawks Sign Toews, Kane Through 2023

Dynamic duos, all.

to be a "cup contender," a team has to roll four balanced lines, or at the very least, three

Being old enough to have watched them play, I can say that the Bruins teams of Orr and Esposito not only had 2 superstars, but also had 3 solid lines, solid defense, and above average goaltending. I don't believe any element of a team can be given short shrift and still have a chance at a Stanley Cup. If you are to pour a significant percentage of your salary cap figure into two players, your front office had best include some top notch talent evaluators. As your second level performers approach free agency, they may demand a higher salary. One of the facts of life in the NHL is that a forward's stat line is usually a bit inflated by playing with the top level centers and wings. Thus, a player who has had a great year approaching the end of his contract could cost you more than you can afford. The solution is to have a supply of young talent coming in from the draft and in development in the minors. If you can do this, your salary structure will remain within the cap, you will have room to add a couple of mid-level free agents to fill holes, and your next generation of stars is coming along.

Trying to win quickly through free agents is a losing proposition. There are many examples of players who put up gaudy numbers while playing alongside a superstar, but then are no better than pedestrian when put into a different situation. Granted there are some who do not play well for a particular team, but will blossom when put into a system that better suits their game. Tyler Seguin is an example of this. If you look at the 4 teams tahoemoj has identified, each of them has a solid development program in place that will be able to turn out serviceable NHL players and the occasional superstar.

posted by Howard_T at 02:58 PM on July 13

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

Dammit, I wish people would quit calling him LBJ. There isn't but one of those, for better and for worse.

There was another LBJ, actually in Viet Nam for a while -- the Long Binh Jail.

posted by Howard_T at 07:16 PM on July 11

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 3

Here we go again. Better late than never. I have 1 minute to kickoff of Winnipeg at Montreal, so I have to be quick.

Here goes:

Winnipeg at Montreal: The little larks turned out to be tough old birds vs the Lions. This time they get to try the Blue Bombers. The Bombers show up with an empty bomb bay and fall to the suddenly nasty Alouettes. Montreal by 16.

Ottawa REDBLACKS at Edmonton Eskimos: The Eskimos are hanging out at their own ice floe, and the color confused from Ottawa are trying to find their way. Look for the Eskimos to turn the REDBLACKS into seal blubber. Edmonton by 12.

Calgary at Toronto: The Argonauts have shown some talent so far, but the Stampeders look to be too strong. The stampede will rumble through the big city, and the Argonauts better head for the lake. Calgary by 13.

BC at Saskatchewan: Lions were unexpectedly clawed last week by a bunch of tiny birds. They will be angry. The trouble is they will come up against a group of Roughriders who might just ride all over them. Poor kitties will need some extra kibbles to get over this one. Saskatchewan by 4.

posted by Howard_T at 07:12 PM on July 11

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Today is the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth's debut with the Boston Red Sox. No, people, I was not there!

posted by Howard_T at 04:40 PM on July 11

Liverpool Sells Luiz Suarez to Barcelona

Don't cry for Liverpool. They still have some good pieces on the field (Sturridge, Sterling, et al), and 75 Million pounds will go a long way to replacing him. I don't expect decline unless management just pockets the money, and in that case a lynch mob would be in order.

posted by Howard_T at 04:39 PM on July 11

LeBron James Returning to Cleveland

I never was a fan of LeBron the man, but could not help but admire his skill as LeBron the basketball player. My son and I talked about this at lunch over a couple of good microbrews and burgers at The Flying Goose in Newport, NH. Our consensus was that Cleveland would accept him back, but only if he were to make some sort of statement acknowledging that he left for his own personal gain, but that he now realized his error. His statement was exactly what he needed to say. I take it as a sign of increasing maturity that might be a bit late in coming but is nonetheless genuine. He still has my admiration as a player, but he is gaining some of my respect as a person.

posted by Howard_T at 04:32 PM on July 11

Argentina Faces The Netherlands for Spot in World Cup Final

I would like to be a fly on the wall at the World Cup viewing party of the King and Queen of Holland. Seems that the Queen was born and raised in Argentina. She says she'll be rooting for Holland, but I'll bet she has her fingers crossed behind her back.

posted by Howard_T at 04:07 PM on July 09

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Bill Speros, writer of the Obnoxious Boston Fan blog, posted in today's Boston Globe, shows that the club has had a nearly exact .500 record over its last 500 games. That span includes the late-season collapse in 2011, the disaster of 2012, last year's unexpected World Series win, and this year's rather putrid start.

By the way, yerfatma, old movies on Turner Classic Movies have become my refuge from Red Sox (so-called) baseball.

posted by Howard_T at 04:21 PM on July 08

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 2

The match fixing people must have been involved. How else could have so many of us fallen into such mediocrity? OK, so nobody from the Cameroons football team has sneaked into the CFL, so I'll give it another go. Please understand I am in the wilds of northern NH, I have not looked at any results, so I am being honest about tonight's game. Besides that, there is a pretty good thunderstorm raging right now, so if I were to lie, I will be struck. Of course, you all believe me.

Ottawa at Winnipeg: The Redblacks meet the Blue Bombers. This means that one should keep his coloring between the lines. It also means that someone named Red will be black and blue. I'm going to guess that Red will be in a black mood while the Blue Bombers prevail. Winnipeg by 8.

OK, now that is done, ande I can peek at the CFL web site to see how it goes. Shows you how smart I am, Ottawa is up by 14. Oh well, at least no lightning strikes.

BC at Montreal: Big kitties go to see little larks. Little larks want to fly all over big kitties, but it looks like big kitties will cause larks' peckers to fall in the dirt. BC by 12.

Hamilton at Edmonton: Eskimos are back in their own habitat, so that is a plus. Now the problem is that they will have to hunt Tigercats instead of things like seals and whales. This will be a problem for Eskimos, and they may get clawed. Hamilton by 14.

Saskatchewan at Toronto: The Roughriders head for the big city to face the Argonauts. Argos had some tough sailing last week, but this week will be a different story. The Roughriders will indeed have a rough ride and will fall to the Argos. Toronto by 4.

posted by Howard_T at 09:26 PM on July 03

Mexico Faces The Netherlands in Round of 16

My Trini-Bajan (Born in Barbados, lived in Trinidad) cousin now lives in Holland. She's been on Facebook all day posting pictures of her husband drinking toasts to the victory and rooting for the Orange. Now that Portugal is out (my ancestry on my mother's side), I'm down to the US and The Netherlands for a rooting interest. I did have a bit of a soft spot for Mexico, though.

posted by Howard_T at 09:44 PM on June 29

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Me and the internet just haven't been getting along well with each other of late. Went to TD Garden Thursday night for the Celtics' Draft Party with the hope I could comment as the draft went along. Alas, TD Garden's wireless sucks, couldn't get my wife's tablet to work, so no luck. Today I'm up in the mountains (Lincoln, NH), and the wireless here in the place where we're staying is just a little bit slower than dial-up. Mostly the wireless routers don't have a very strong signal where we are, so it's touch and go.

The good news is that wife and I have just returned from the New England Brewfest, an annual event where craft brewers from New England and elsewhere come to pass out samples. It's amazing how much drinking can be packed into a 5 ounce glass and 4 hours. There were some really good things here.

Back to the NBA draft, Philadelphia taking Embiid at #3 was greeted with some sighs of disappointment in Boston. There had been hope that Ainge might trade up or that Embiid could have fallen to #6. Alas, it was not to be. When Marcus Smart was announced as the Celtics' pick, there was a bit of WTF? followed by bye bye Rondo commentary. Looking at it after a day or 2, it does not seem to be that strange a pick. To start with, Avery Bradley likely will not be tendered for his restricted free agent status. Smart will swing between the point and 2 guard positions, and if he shows that he can handle the point, Rondo is gone at the trading deadline or before. Smart's size alone makes him better than either Rondo or Bradley as a defender. His shooting is questionable, but so was Rondo's when he came into the league. Bradley is a better shooter, but is not able to get his own shot, and while he is a good defender, his size limits what he can do against a shooting guard who runs more than 6"4" or so. The nickname Mahcus "Wicked" Smaht has already been applied to him.

Being able to get Young at #17 is a real plus. This kid will be a scorer in the NBA. It might take a year or 2, but he is big enough to post up most 2 guards and quick enough to handle a lot of small forwards. The kid is about 6'8", so he could be a real problem for people to handle.

Many are saying that unless something big happens over the summer months, this season will be a repeat of last year's futility. It may be so, but last year produced some fun, if losing, basketball. It will be an interesting time to watch the team try to build around the 2 new guys plus the youngsters like Olynyk and a finally healthy Sullinger.

posted by Howard_T at 07:31 PM on June 28

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Going to Celtics draft uparty tonight. Will try to comment as things go. Using wife's tablet. Please excuse typos.

posted by Howard_T at 06:29 PM on June 26

Luis Suarez Bites Opponent at World Cup

Has anyone checked Suarez's previous victims to see if they have any problems with daylight? Also, have any of them placed an order for a casket and a supply of potting soil from Transylvania?

posted by Howard_T at 11:09 PM on June 25

The 10th Annual chicobangs Memorial SpoFi CFL Pick 'Em

Missed out last year because I was off somewhere doing something more productive than picking football winners. Not so this time around. Look out, SpoFites, The great Howard_T is back and ready to turn amazing prescience into the routine.

Toronto at Winnipeg: By the end of this one it will be "Knock, knock. Who's there? Argo. Argo who? Argonna whup yo butt." Toronto by 11.

Montreal at Calgary: Little birdies play with horsies. Little birdies left with nothing to do except look behind horsie and try to find something to eat that horsie has dropped on the ground behind it. Not much there for little birdie. Calgary by 8.

Edmonton at BC: Everybody knows that Lions live in Africa (or zoos). Everybody knows that Eskimos do not live in either Africa or zoos. When Eskimos get out of their usual habitat and enter lion country, the result is not pretty. BC by 13.

Hamilton at Saskatchewan: More cats to think about. These are of the striped variety, and they can be big and mean. Too bad they have to run into a group of roughriders. Look out, kitty, your pretty striped pelt might wind up as a rug. Saskatchewan by 5.

posted by Howard_T at 11:04 PM on June 25

A search for the original New England Patriots' fan

Will the real Larry Kepnes please stand up.

If you remember where that line came from, you are probably as old as I am and watched way too much TV.

Well maybe not that old. I just looked it up, and the show "To Tell the Truth" started in 1956, and had been aired off and on into 2001. Versions of the show also aired in 8 countries other than the US.

posted by Howard_T at 10:46 PM on June 25

Luis Suarez Bites Opponent at World Cup

Suarez ought to be gone for the duration.

Nothing I have seen yet proves to me that Suarez is guilty of anything except pushing his head into the Italian defender. Bob Lee and company have jumped all over Suarez's past reputation and convicted him right here on ESPN. Gee, if they say so, can FIFA be far behind? Give us some proof, other than the word of an Italian player who threw a pretty mean elbow on the same play, and I might agree. Until then I consider Lee and company the equivalent of the "Yellow Journalists" of previous eras.

Oh, by the way, if there are bite marks on the Italian, check them against Suarez's dental records. It would not surprise me if there might have been a nip or two taken in the locker room in order to prove the case.

posted by Howard_T at 02:45 PM on June 24

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Just heard that justice has prevailed at last and Pat Burns has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It's quite a class this year, including Dallas Stars center Mike Modano, Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Blake, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek and former referee Bill McCreary. Burns deserved election a long time ago, but there was someone, somewhere who was dead set against his inclusion.

posted by Howard_T at 06:22 PM on June 23

Baylor Center and NBA prospect Isaiah Austin has been diagnosed with a career-ending genetic disorder.

It's really a shame that a promising career should be cut short by something like this. Still, I heard it said that his coming out for the draft this year just might have saved his life. Had he stayed in college, he would not have had the physical examination that hinted at the problem the subsequent genetic tests that confirmed Marfan Syndrome.

I've read that Abraham Lincoln was once suspected of having had Marfan. The idea was based upon Lincoln's unusual height and the physical changes observed in comparing photographs of Lincoln as he aged. This speculation has since been dismissed.

posted by Howard_T at 04:51 PM on June 23

Alex Torres First Pitcher to Wear Protective Cap

Like the idea. Who cares what it looks like if it works. How will this protect against a line drive to the face a la Herb Score, Bryce Florie, and others?

posted by Howard_T at 08:29 PM on June 22

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

The reporter (Rich Cimini) heard it from Jets assistant Mike Pettine, who heard it from former Jets assistant Mike Smith, who heard it from Tom Brady.

Smith supposedly heard it from someone at Wes Welker's wedding. The story is that during a Patriots - Jets game, Brady told a couple of Jets linebackers that NE had a copy of their playbook. Sounds like the estimable Mr. B was putting some ideas into the heads of the Jets' defense. Brady talk trash? Oh really, not the saintly Tom.

posted by Howard_T at 10:42 PM on June 19

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The reign of Spain is ended, it's quite plain. (Sorry, had to so that before someone beat me to it.)

I've heard several pieces of analysis trying to explain how Spain managed to lose so badly in its matches. They're old, people have figured out how to play against them. too many of their players were involved in UEFA Champions League finals or semifinals, and on, and on the talking heads drone. Interesting that the last 3 or 4 World Cup winners have failed to advance out of group play in the following tournament. When things like this happen, and a team like Spain plays so badly it almost appears they are trying to do so, I wonder if there is a dark shadow looming in the background. With FIFA involved, nothing seems too outrageous.

posted by Howard_T at 06:56 PM on June 18

Keeper Guillermo Ochoa Saves Mexico's Tocino

In ice hockey terms, a hot goal tender just stole a point. That was an amazing performance.

On another note, listening to the play-by-play announcer and his analyst, both of whom were, I believe, of Hispanic descent, added a lot to the game for me. You could tell that both announcers had a rooting interest in the game, but they never sounded like "homers". It's always more fun when the people telling the story truly care how it ends.

posted by Howard_T at 09:06 PM on June 17

The San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 4-1 to win the NBA championship.

Greg Popovich has done a masterful job in creating the San Antonio Spurs. Defensively sound and offensively diverse and unselfish is the short answer for who they are. All this betrays my firm grasp of the obvious. The interesting thing is how Popovich came to this philosophy of building a basketball. Here the answer is that he took a long look at one very successful team of 60 years ago (Has it been that long? Crap I'm getting old.) and while he did not try to duplicate it, he used much of what the Boston Celtics of Red Auerbach's day did. Quite like this year's finals, the Celtics championship teams seldom had the best player on the floor. What they did was to make the "best player" work for his points and play some defense in order to wear him down. At the same time, great effort went into defending the other players to make sure none of them beat you while you were attending to stopping the star. The old Celtics offense featured the fast break, and when that was not available, used ball movement and the movement of players without the ball to gain easy shots. San Antonio is somewhat different, in that the 3-point shot is now a staple of NBA play, and the fast break is not run as often now, but the core of the offense is still motion, motion, and more motion.

posted by Howard_T at 12:00 AM on June 17

MLB Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn has died at age 54.

The Gwynn/Williams relationship brings to mind an argument over hitting styles and the argument over who might be the greatest hitter. Williams succeeded because of his incredible eyesight and depth perception. Add to this his natural power via his strength and long, lanky build. Gwynn had amazing bat control. He was almost a throwback to the old days of hitters who specialized in spraying the ball, "hitting 'em where they ain't" a la Willie Keeler. Gwynn was far more than a spray hitter. He was not noted for power, but he certainly could put some dents into outfield walls.

54 is way too early, but the Heaven All Stars needed a solid bat. RIP Tony Gwynn.

posted by Howard_T at 11:46 PM on June 16

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Boston was once described as "a state of mind," by Mark Twain.

I cannot find the quote, but I have heard one that goes something like this: "I have just appeared before a Boston audience - 2000 critics." I believe the origin of this is sometime in the 19th century, and if anyone can tell me the source, please do so.

There are a couple of other quotes about "our fair city" that might apply.

"I guess God made Boston on a wet Sunday." (Raymond Chandler, crime fiction writer - The Big Sleep among other works)

"When I go abroad I always sail from Boston because it is such a pleasant place to get away from." (Oliver Herford, author and illustrator)

The point of all of the above is that excessive criticism and negativity has been a Boston, and indeed a New England, characteristic for many years. Perhaps it is the old Calvinist theology of predestination with a good dose of Roman and Anglican Catholic damnation thrown in. Whatever the reason, things can never get better, only worse. Like an old friend of mine used to say, "Things are always darkest just before they turn completely black" and "In front of every silver lining there's a dark cloud." I don't like to think that this sort of pessimism has become a national characteristic, but I'm afraid that the mass media and our beloved internet have spread the infection.

posted by Howard_T at 03:37 PM on June 10

California Chrome Makes Triple Crown Bid

Too bad that California Chrome's co-owner, Steve Coburn, had to let his emotions get the better of him in his post-race comments. I believe the remarks, generally on the premise that only those horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness should be allowed in the Belmont, were not malicious but were the result of disappointment. The analogy has been drawn of players being rested late in the regular season, or of injured players coming back, and returning for the post-season. It's not quite accurate, since horse racing is not exactly a team sport. Changing the rules to require some sort of qualification to run in the Preakness or the Belmont will actually artificially deprive some owners of a chance to run and win a high-priced stakes race.

posted by Howard_T at 12:51 PM on June 08

Don Zimmer was truly a baseball man

And so "The Designated Gerbil" passes. Don Zimmer always said that Bill Lee was the only man whom he would not let into his home. This being the case, I would advise Bill Lee to invest in some nomex underwear, because Zimmer is in baseball heaven, and if Zimmer is true to his word, Bill Lee won't get in.

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on June 05

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

It takes a strong man to do this. Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox once did this, and I have heard that Willie Horton of Detroit also did the same.

posted by Howard_T at 04:39 PM on June 02

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Even crazier shit. Gomes gets plunked by a changeup to start the 10th for Boston. Pierzinski gets a changeup in the zone and drives it toward the triangle in right center. It splits the fielders, although Meyers got a glove on it. The outfielders collide, the ball rolls to the wall, and Gomes scores from first to end it. In the words of the old philosopher, "Beisbol she is a funny game".

posted by Howard_T at 11:33 PM on May 30

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I'll be rooting for Portugal as well as the USA in the upcoming World Cup. It's mostly because my ancestry on my mother's side was 100% Portuguese (Her maiden name was Lily Isabel D'Azavedo Lobo) until my great grandfather married an English girl. Now I have even more reason. Here is the Musica Oficial da Selecao Nacional. Kind of a catchy tune. Makes you want to go kick a ball around.

posted by Howard_T at 10:13 PM on May 29

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Enjoy the Spurs while you have them.

Chad Finn linked to the clip in his Touching All the Bases blog in the Boston Globe. He also linked to one done some time ago about the Bird/McHale/Walton Celtics. The inspiration for coach Greg Popovich might go back to earlier Celtics teams. In his office hangs a picture of John Havlicheck.

I've been a Celtics fan, and thus a fan of professional basketball, since about 1952. I'm not so fond of the game as I once was, and I blame it on a decision that the league made under Commissioner Donald Stern. Perhaps it was a marketing necessity, but when the NBA began to emphasize the players rather than the teams, the quality of play began to deteriorate. Consider who gets all of the attention on the highlight reels. True enough, those are great individual players, but more often than not the superstar can be slowed just a bit, and his team cannot pick up the slack. Again, looking back to the Celtics teams that dominated the league from the late 1950s into the 1970s, the best player on the floor usually was not wearing green.

posted by Howard_T at 11:17 PM on May 22

Gay Athlete Michael Sam Drafted by St. Louis

I have trouble believing he fell as far as he did.

As the draft wore on into the late rounds, Sam became a more frequent topic of discussion between the analysts on the NFL Network. I think the most telling thing was Sam's numbers at the combine compared to other players of similar size and projected position in the NFL. Sam's numbers were significantly poorer in such things as vertical leap, bench presses, and the like. He may very well become a useful NFL defensive end/outside linebacker, but the numbers seemed to push many teams away from him. I believe several of the teams that passed on him did so because of his athletic potential and not his lifestyle.

posted by Howard_T at 10:11 PM on May 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

If Subban has any sense of humor at all, he will show up on the Montreal bench Monday night toting a Super-Soaker. That would defuse any bad feeling, highlight the immaturity of Thornton's actions, and not harm a soul. In Thornton's defense, something like a squirt with a water bottle is much to be preferred over perhaps a "low bridge" check or something else that could cause injury.

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on May 11

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

#frozenyogurt is all over Twitter after Matt Fraser's game winner in OT last night. He admitted his lunch in Providence just before his call up was a double chicken burrito with guacamole (no cheese) and frozen yogurt for dessert. Chipotles is now the new training table.

After Boston hit the crossbar 3 times in last night's game, a rumor was going around that had Montreal won in OT, the 3 stars would have been #3 - whoever scored the game winner; #2 - Carey Price; #1 - The Crossbar.

posted by Howard_T at 08:04 PM on May 09

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Is there anything with his "baseball stance" that would make him a bad cricketer?

When I worked in Egypt some years ago, our slow pitch softball team had a young fellow from Turks and Caicos who had never played baseball or softball, but was a pretty good cricketer. His fielding skills were excellent, but watching him at bat trying to make contact while executing some of his cricket footwork could be comical. Still, when he did make contact, he hit some screamers. One of the things that worked against him was that he would frequently make contact while out of the batter's box. He worked on a more conventional batting stance and ultimately became pretty good on the field.

posted by Howard_T at 02:49 PM on May 07

Kansas State denies player the right to transfer away

Leticia darling, what has gotten into you? Don't you understand that just because we fired the old overseer and his helpers you can't leave? Any slave should know you don't have any say in the matter. Now be a good girl and go back to work. Remember, if you try to run away, you'll be punished.

posted by Howard_T at 02:36 PM on May 07

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I see they couldn't work out what language they spoke in Belgium

Neither can the Belgians, but it seems to work out for them anyway.

posted by Howard_T at 01:55 PM on May 03

Brain Trauma Extends to the Soccer Field

I would think the long term effects in soccer would be similar to those in football and hockey. A blow to the head is the same, no matter what the sport. One of the girls in the youth group at church took an elbow to the head during a varsity soccer game. She was down for about 4 weeks - darkened room, then inactivity, then limited activity - before resuming normal day-to-day stuff. This was her first concussion, and since soccer season is over and she is not likely to be playing at the college level, we hope it will be her last. Point is that serious head injuries are more common than many think, and athletes who have more than one or two should consider a different career.

posted by Howard_T at 01:50 PM on May 03

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Darren Erman hired by Boston Celtics as director of NBA scouting after messy end with Golden State Warriors

NBA scouting eh? I'm sure a recording device and skill at using it is a valuable asset in a scouting job.

posted by Howard_T at 11:33 PM on April 29

NBA Bans Donald Sterling for Life

As long as your opinions, no matter how reprehensible, are kept to yourself, there's nothing anyone can do. It doesn't matter what sort of boss you are. You may be cheap or generous, demand perfection or allow something short of ideal as long as it's best effort. As long as you treat everyone of whatever ethnic, religious, sexual, or racial persuasion equally, it may not be pleasant, but it is within the bounds of proper conduct. Now comes Donald Sterling who allows his opinions to become public knowledge, thereby angering those whom he employs, their colleagues in the NBA, the NBA management, and his fellow owners. Most importantly he has managed to piss off nearly every man, woman, and child in the US who had hoped that attitudes such as Sterling's were disappearing.

The NBA has done about the best it could, but I fear we have not heard the last from Mr. Sterling. The league can fine him and ban him, but can it force the sale of the team? I really don't know that it can happen, no matter the desirability of such an outcome. If Sterling does not sell, what will happen to Coach Rivers and those players who are under contract past the end of this season? Would it not be possible to file a complaint with whatever government agency handles these things claiming that Sterling's comments have turned the Clippers into a "hostile work place"? The employees could then demand relief such as a forced sale (not likely for a hostile work place complaint) or release from their contracts (entirely possible). When I was still working, our annual ethics training usually included a unit on workplace harassment. Things far more innocuous than Sterling's tirade resulted in findings of the hostile workplace and discipline of the guilty parties.

There are a couple of things I find a bit odd. This is not the first time that private conversations have been deliberately recorded, became public, and caused a great deal of harm to someone. There was this guy named Richard Nixon who managed to have some interesting recordings come back to haunt him, 18-minute gap or not. You would think that someone who is supposedly as astute as Sterling might have thought about this before encouraging recording. The second thing is the ironic coincidence between the names of the two main characters, Donald Sterling and Adam Silver. Is not Sterling a quality grade of Silver?

posted by Howard_T at 11:28 PM on April 29

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

RIP, Jack Ramsay, you taught a lot of NBA players the game of basketball. More importantly, you also taught a few million fans a lot about the game.

posted by Howard_T at 03:34 PM on April 28

Video: Ryan Braun Hits Jean Segura with Bat in Dugout

I can't believe the Brewers field managers and coaches were allowing this. As an umpire I've spent much breath screaming at youth baseball players, including some up to high school age, for carelessly swinging or tossing the bat. I used to give them one warning, threatening ejection if repeated. A word to their coach was included. If you have to swing the bat, there's a really good place called the on deck circle. Braun's a proven idiot anyway.

posted by Howard_T at 01:02 PM on April 27

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Bruins-Canadiens rivalry to continue

For the 35th time in the post-season, I believe. This is one of those rivalries where form is sometimes immaterial. Hockey is an emotional game to start with, and when these 2 get together, players sometimes lose control of themselves. The key is to hold oneself together, play your game within your team's structure, and see how it all turns out. Montreal has a speed edge, Boston has size, and is not as slow as some think. I suggest that anyone who has a history of cardiac problems watch another series.

posted by Howard_T at 11:14 PM on April 26

Audio: Racist Tirade by Clippers Owner

My son and I briefly discussed this today. Our opinion is that Doc Rivers will be (or at least should be) looking for a way out of his contract as soon as he can, black free agents might begin to consider the racial culture of the team and find other teams, and those who remain might well seek to move on. It is never a healthy thing to have this sort of reputation, deserved or otherwise. The city of Boston has long had the reputation of being somewhat hostile to black athletes. It was true for a while, but not so much anymore. Still, some NBA free agents will not consider the city as a destination. Of course, when it is 80s and sunny in Miami, the 20s and snowing of Boston are not very appealing.

Too bad for the Clippers and their fans that with the competitive dullness of the Lakers and having a good team with a good coach, their opportunity to become the "top dog" in LA may have been lost by the overactive mouth of the owner.

posted by Howard_T at 03:16 PM on April 26

Yankees' Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar on Neck

Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked prior to last night's game whether or not he expected Pineda to use pine tar again. He said something to the effect that he thought Pineda would be a little more careful. Ya think???

posted by Howard_T at 05:18 PM on April 24

Canadiens Complete 4-Game Sweep of Lightning

Should Boston get by Detroit -- and It's beginning to look like this could happen -- it will be another classic Bruins vs Canadiens war. We fans of the Bruins have too many memories of playoff losses to Montreal to be comfortable with the match up. Still, when the rivalry is as intense as this one, you know the series will be wonderfully entertaining.

posted by Howard_T at 09:26 PM on April 23

Yankees' Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar on Neck

New York Yankees' pitcher Michael Pineda has been ejected from the game vs Boston for having an illegal substance on his person. There was an obvious stain on the side of Pineda's neck. Red Sox manager John Farrell requested the umpire to take a look, he did, and ejected Pineda. this raises the question why Pineda would be so dumb. A substance was observed on his hand during a previous start against Boston in New York, so it had to be evident that Boston might be looking for it. Further, the substance tonight was in a highly visible spot. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. No shame on John Farrell this time.

posted by Howard_T at 08:05 PM on April 23

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Lucic was fined $5,000 for intentionally spearing Dekeyser in the crotch

I don't understand why that should merit a fine. Lucic was doing DeKeyser a favor by making sure DeK's cup was being worn correctly.

Second time Lucic has done this during this season. Perhaps opponents might begin looking over their shoulder when he is behind them. It could also cause some rather odd skating as players try to skate with their knees clamped together.

It appears that wide receiver Chad Johnson, aka Chad Ocho Cinco has signed to play with the Montreal Alouettes in the coming season. Does this mean he wiil be forced to change his name to Chad Quatre Vingt Cinq?

posted by Howard_T at 08:43 PM on April 19

Yankees Go Around the Horn for Triple Play

rcade, I'm unsure whether to tell you that there's a great career before you, or to tell you not to quit your day job. Not bad, buddy.

posted by Howard_T at 02:44 PM on April 18

Chris Resop - The Most Interesting Reliever in the World.

Perhaps he's praying, as in a line from Psalm 23: "My cup runneth over".

Pardon the sacrilege, I know it's Good Friday and all, but I couldn't resist.

posted by Howard_T at 02:41 PM on April 18

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I have the urge to do a bit of writing tonight, so please bear with me while I bore you for a few minutes. By way of background, last night was the final game of the season, a rather dismal one, for the Boston Celtics. I'm a season ticket holder, a fan since around 1952, and my adult son and I went to the game. There were a few extra attractions going on, it was the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, but we really wanted one final chance to watch live NBA basketball.

We scheduled our departure from home based on a 7:30 scheduled start, and the idea that we wanted to be a bit early. About the time I rolled the truck out of the driveway, the realization hit that it was an 8:00 game and we would be way early. This is not a problem. North Station, which houses the TD Garden as well as commuter rail, is equipped with a small but good beer garden featuring Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr beers from Munich. These happened to be my son's preferred brands at Oktoberfest last fall, so stopping for a short one before going upstairs to the game was in order. We were still a bit early, but while I stood in line for a couple of "thank you" gifts, my son went for a couple of Sam Adams Summer Ales. "You can't fly on one wing", my mother always said. Fortified as we were, we settled into our places in Section 315.

Pre-game we were treated to a few words from Jared Sullinger, thanking the fans for regularly turning out dressed as something other than an empty seat. An aside here, even with a 25 - 47 record, the team still drew 90% capacity every night. Next, the post-season Red Auerbach Award was handed out. This award is given to the Celtics' player or coach who best exemplifies what it means to be a Celtic. If you know anything at all about Boston sports, you understand how much tradition means to the fans. This year it was Brandon Bass who was honored, and my son and I, and a sizable majority of the fans, agreed with the selection. The final pre-game activity was perhaps the best rendition of the National Anthem that we had heard all season. It was done by a quartet from the Massachusetts Army National Guard, they sang well, kept the tempo quick, put no extraneous notes or flourishes into the music, and looked really sharp in their "dress blues".

Now we move into the first quarter as Washington takes an early lead. My son and I begin a discussion of Kelly Olynyk and what it will take for him to maximize his potential and just how far that potential may take him. We agree that his biggest need is to work on his defense, add some upper body muscle, and put a few more offensive wrinkles into his repertoire. I say he can be a frequent member of all-star squads, while my son says he will make an all-star team or two or three, but will not be an annual selection. We move on to Phil Pressey's game. We agree that he shows a great amount of hustle, a high IQ for the game, and good passing ability. His limitations are inconsistent shooting and lack of size. 5-11 (perhaps an exaggeration) point guards rarely succeed in the NBA.

The end of the first quarter draws near, and my son volunteers to make another beer run. He takes a bit of a scenic route out of the row in order to get a bit closer look at the blond sitting several seats to our right. His assessment is that it was worth the trip.

As the Washington lead gradually increases in the third quarter, we begin a discussion of Christianity, including the evolution of the Nicene Creed, the Nestorian heresy, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, and the nature of the Trinity. The discussion grows deeper, and we begin to draw some curious looks from neighboring fans. Most of the looks reflect a "do I hear what I think I hear?" thought. The game continues as we watch, and our theological discussion is interrupted briefly but frequently to admire one or another really good plays and individual efforts.

Now we get to the fourth quarter. Our theology has exhausted itself, and we begin a discussion of the alienation of younger voters in the USA. My son claims that it doesn't matter whom we elect, it is still the same bunch of old men. I counter that the important thing is not individual or even party, but the entire philosophy of government must be considered. You must discover what sort of governing philosophy you prefer and support those who would place the same into effect. This discussion becomes a bit more heated than theology, but still respectful. The curious looks become brief stares, but I think our neighbors have figured out that we might just be having some fun with this. At least the language used is not too offensive to ladies and minors, and the dreaded F-bomb has been kept in the holster.

The end of the game is at hand. As the final seconds expire, the crowd rises with a warm round of applause and we head for the exit. Our timing on the T is perfect, catching an Orange Line train as the doors close and getting to Downtown Crossing just as a Red Line train rolls in. We are first in line to roll through the exit barrier from the Alewife parking garage, and even the traffic on the way home is lighter than usual. The ride is mostly silent until I remark on the nearly full moon and suggest we howl at it. My son counters with the idea that we should wait until we are home, grab my wife, and all 3 of us go out on the lawn and howl. This would serve only to have our neighbors believe that we really should be committed to a mental health facility, so we refrain.

As we finished the ride home, I thought about what it means to have a 25-year-old son who has grown into a very mature individual. He is now well past the time when you should be his father but not be his friend, and is at the time when he's a really good friend and companion to have. As happened with my father and I, our mutual love of sports has been part of the bond between us. It's a pretty good place to be.

posted by Howard_T at 10:47 PM on April 17

Steinbrenner: We Don't Need Stephen Drew

If Drew gets the $14M per year he wants, then good luck to him. I somehow feel he is rather overvaluing himself. True, he has a very reliable glove, excellent range, and good arm, but do not his deficiencies with the bat, especially against left-handed pitching make his total package worth somewhat less than what he wants?. Scott Boras has been using Drew as a test case to get rid of the rule that requires the forfeiture of a draft pick for signing a tendered free agent. If Drew comes out behind on the deal, does Boras make up whatever difference there might be in compensation? I don't begrudge anything Drew might merit, but he is allowing himself to be used as a pawn by Boras. Boras is interested in increasing his own earnings potential and is doing so by claiming it is doing a good thing for all players.

posted by Howard_T at 03:04 PM on April 16

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Trying to decide who's the most heart warming underdog out of Liverpool and Man City is adorable.

I watched the second half of the Liverpool - Manchester City match when I got home from church on Sunday. I found I had a warm sensation in my heart, but I think it might have been heartburn from the onion bagels.

To be serious, watching that match was perhaps the most involved I've ever been in a soccer match. The tension and drama were coming close to a playoff NHL hockey level.

posted by Howard_T at 03:15 PM on April 15

MLB Admits Error in Calling Gwynn Out at Home

Yes, Mathis' leg is in the baseline before the ball gets to him, but it's while he's in the process of making the catch.

The basic mantra always has been "the runner has the right to the baseline, but he must not interfere with a fielder in the act of making a play on the ball". Take the example of a runner going from second to third as the shortstop settles under a pop-up. The runner, to avoid contact, must deviate from his direct line, even though the shortstop has not yet caught the ball, and indeed might be a second or two from actually making the catch. Why should there be a difference for a play at the plate? If the catcher puts himself into a blocking position, but such a position is not necessary to making a clean catch of a throw, then the runner should be called safe. For example, putting one's leg out into the baseline when one could remain upright should be called obstruction. On the other hand, a catcher forced to the third base side of the plate and into the runner's line by an errant throw should not be considered as obstructing a runner. The rule is an attempt to codify what should happen on plays at the plate in order to minimize injuries. As such, like most well-meaning attempts to legislate things, it takes a lot of time and experience for all to understand how to interpret it.

By the way, the "baseline" with respect to the runner is not the direct line between the bases. Rather, it is the direct line from the runner to the base he is trying to reach as the play is made.

posted by Howard_T at 03:04 PM on April 15

Video: Ball Girl Saves Run in Baltimore

Oriole broom gals

I've not been to an O's game since they moved out of Memorial Stadium, but I do indeed remember some of the antics of the broom girls. They would bring water out to the umpires between innings on the hot days, which I'm sure was not unappreciated, and I remember the occasional sweeping of the tops of the umpires' shoes. Remember, these things were done between the innings. In most parks anyone who interferes with a ball in play is met by the security guys and invited to watch the game on TV from a nearby bar. I may not be remembering this correctly, but I believe at least one ball boy/girl somewhere was relieved of his/her duties on the spot after mistakenly fielding a ball in play.

Ball kids are in a vulnerable spot, since most are stationed not too far beyond the bases. They often also have a stool that needs to be moved, thus slowing their retreat from being involved in a fielding play. I'm waiting for the day one of them is clocked by a line drive or run over by a fielder going hard for a foul pop-up. Teams would be better off using adults, training them, and using a loss of future employment as a means of keeping them in the game.

posted by Howard_T at 08:01 PM on April 14

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

It was a nice send-off

Too bad Martin Brodeur was undecided about his future. Had he declared for retirement prior to Sunday's game vs Boston, I would bet the send-off would have been similar to Smyth's, if not more so. As it was, the New Jersey fans were loud and enthusiastic in their recognition of what Brodeur has meant to the team, the league, and indeed the game as a whole.

posted by Howard_T at 03:11 PM on April 14

Video: Ball Girl Saves Run in Baltimore

Oooh, did I just make such a great play.

Oooh, I am so fired.

posted by Howard_T at 03:03 PM on April 14