Recent Comments by Howard_T

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:18 PM on February 11

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

throwing their warm ups on the local sideline reporter

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:12 PM on February 11

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

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

posted by Howard_T at 02:59 PM on February 10

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 15

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

10 February

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

11 February

Oklahoma City by 14 with a Sooner State SLAM

12 February

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

14 February

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

19 February

Oklahoma City by 15
Boston by 4

20 February

Golden State by 6

21 February

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 02:50 PM on February 10

Senators acquire Phaneuf from Maple Leafs in nine-player deal

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:33 PM on February 09

Peyton Manning Turns Super Bowl Moment into Beer Promotion

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:52 PM on February 08

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Tron7

How did tron7 do it?

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:41 PM on February 08

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Super Bowl 0x32 Edition

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

Carolina by 26 LOCK up the Bay Area.

Total score: 52

1st field goal: Gano

1st TD: Olsen

Passing yards: Newton

Rushing yards: Stewart

Receiving yards: Olsen

Sack: Kuechly

Interception: McClain

Turnover: Manning

MVP: Olsen

Sports Filter Prognosticator of the Year: goyoucolts

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

posted by Howard_T at 10:26 PM on February 05

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

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

05 February

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 05:00 PM on February 04

Toronto Maple Leafs Adopt New Logo

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:51 PM on February 04

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:32 PM on February 03

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 14

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

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

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

Tim Duncan, where were you when we needed you?

On to the prognostications:

03 February

Golden State by 14
LA Clippers by 12

04 February

Detroit by 4
New Orleans by 6

05 February

Atlanta by 8
San Antonio by 10

06 February

Golden State by 3

07 February

LA Clippers by 8

posted by Howard_T at 03:08 PM on February 03

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:50 PM on January 31

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

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

posted by Howard_T at 07:00 PM on January 30

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 13

I missed the San Antonio result by 51 points.

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:40 PM on January 28

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:36 PM on January 28

The Beginning of the End for Pitch-Framing?

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:07 PM on January 27

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 13

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

27 January

San Antonio by 14
Golden State by 18

28 January

Toronto by 15 with a Maple Leaf SLAM
Chicago by 6

30 January

San Antonio by 7

31 January

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

posted by Howard_T at 04:00 PM on January 27

Denver Beats New England to Reach Super Bowl 50

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:26 PM on January 25

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 12

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

posted by Howard_T at 11:40 PM on January 23

Fantasy Premier League, Gameweek 23

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 08:31 PM on January 23

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 08:20 PM on January 23

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Conference Championship Round

I find myself in second place (by some miraculous combination of dumb blind luck and actual football knowledge) to the illustrious T (not D) Trump. Wait! Is El Donaldo really involved with SpoFi and just can't stand to lose? Tommy, is it really you or is it Donald's alter ego? What sort of deviltry have we invoked here?

New England by 6 LOCK in the Rockies
Arizona by 7 LOCK in the Tarheel State

Total yards (team): Arizona
Most turnovers (team): Denver (alas, Peyton's arm betrays him)
Most passing yards (QB): Carson Palmer
Most rushing yards (individual): Stewart
Most receiving yards (individual): Edelman
Sack, or partial sack: J. Collins
Interception by: D. McCourty

Gotta ride with Patriots. I cannot sit in front of the flat screen and root for Denver, no matter what is on the line.

posted by Howard_T at 08:00 PM on January 23

Lleyton Hewitt Ends Singles Career at Australian Open

I watched the match today, and it was somewhat a bittersweet moment. I had never been a particular fan of Hewitt, but I understand what he means to Australian tennis. He is stepping directly into the captaincy of the Australian Davis Cup team. Here's hoping he finds success in that or any other endeavor.

posted by Howard_T at 08:38 PM on January 21

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 12

I'm tempted to change my spread on the Friday game to Golden State at home against Indiana to 50.

It sounds like it could happen, but don't forget that Friday's game is the first home game after a long road trip. Teams usually under-perform somewhat in those circumstances. I have no doubt that under-performance for Golden State will be a win by a significant margin, and Indiana is anything but sharp lately, but I will stick with something a bit more realistic.

I called the spread for Atlanta, but I had no idea that it would really be that close. Portland started out well, later fell flat, and I went to bed before the end of the game.

posted by Howard_T at 04:44 PM on January 21

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 12

For the first time this season I will have to use an outside source to determine a pick. The Atlanta vs Portland game features one team I have not seen at all and another whose performance has been inconsistent in the couple of games I have seen. I looked at the standings to see what they have done over the season and what they have done out of conference. We shall see if logic overcomes my usual "eyeball" test.

20 January

Golden State by 12
Atlanta by 6

21 January

Cleveland by 9
San Antonio by 14

22 January

Toronto by 11
Golden State by 18 SLAM by the bay.

23 January

Cleveland by 7

Nice to see the Network of the Mouse allowing its junior affiliate to broadcast a game.

posted by Howard_T at 04:49 PM on January 20

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Just about the time when I once again begin to hate Montreal Canadiens, they do something like this.

Denna Laing suffered a serious spinal injury while playing in a women's professional hockey game. The Boston Bruins have set up a fund of some $200K to help her with her rehabilitation. Players and Bruins management were donating various items to be raffled off to raise funds. Before the start of tonight's Boston vs Montreal game in Montreal, the Canadiens' organization announced that they too would participate in the fund raiser. All of the players from both teams donated their game-worn jerseys to be auctioned off. How can even the most die hard Bruins fan hate the Canadiens -- except for the 60 minutes or so when they are playing. Say what you might, Montreal runs a class organization.

posted by Howard_T at 10:35 PM on January 19

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Week 2: Divisional Round

picked the spread perfectly for the NE/KC game, but didn't use their locks.

Guilty as charged, your honor. With all of the negative media reaction to the state of health of the Patriots, I just didn't have the cojones to make Patriots a lock. The first offensive series for New England changed my mind in a hurry.

Right now Pittsburgh is at the top of my list of teams I greatly dislike. Even though I had picked Denver, I secretly hoped Steelers could pull off the upset and give Patriots their better chance of getting to the Super Bowl. Not only could they not hold the lead, stupid Steelers had to kick a field goal in the waning seconds to make the spread 7 instead of the Denver by 10 that I had predicted. I had it as a LOCK, too. Sheeesh!!!

posted by Howard_T at 12:02 AM on January 18

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Week 2: Divisional Round

Mr. T Trump seems to be on the verge of pulling away, but there's still a ways to go. There is a sizable "peloton" within striking distance, so anything might happen. Here is my attempt:

New England by 7
Arizona by 16 with a LOCK in the desert.
Carolina by 10 and put a LOCK in NC.
Denver by 14 and a LOCK over the walking wounded Steelers.

QB with the most passing yards: T. Brady
RB with the most rushing yards: C. J. Anderson
Receiver with the most receiving yards: L. Fitzgerald
Player with an interception: D. McCourty

posted by Howard_T at 11:06 PM on January 15

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 11

I thought I was dead with about 3 minutes left in Boston vs Indiana last night. A 12-0 run to close things out saved the win for me, but I found myself in the strange position of rooting for Isaiah Thomas to MISS a couple of free throws in order to get the spread to 6. Shame on me. The TD Garden was a fun place to be in the last few minutes of that game.

posted by Howard_T at 11:41 PM on January 14

NFL Approves Rams Move to Los Angeles, Chargers Invited to Join

St. Louis has not done well in the NBA either. The Tri-City Hawks were an original National Basketball League club, and became part of the NBA in 1949. Later (1951) they moved to Milwaukee, then in 1955 to St. Louis. Of course, the deal with Boston, giving the 2nd overall draft pick to the Celtics, in exchange for Cliff Hagen and hometown boy Ed Macauley. Boston would use the pick on some guy named Russell, who reported late for the 1956-57 season because of the Olympics in Australia. Another Celtics' connection was Bob Cousy, who was originally drafted by Tri-Cities, would not sign, and his rights were traded to the Chicago Stags. Chicago folded, their players were put out to the rest of the league, and Cousy's name wound up being picked out of a hat by the Celtics, who really didn't want him. St. Louis won the NBA championship in 1958, beating the Celtics 4-2 when Bill Russell had an ankle sprain that kept him off the court.

The Hawks played most of their home games in Kiel Auditorium, a small venue that held only 10,000 fans. The owner, Ben Kerner, wanted a new arena, although the larger St. Louis Arena was being renovated pending the arrival of the St. Louis Blues. Kerner did not want to play in the Arena, the city government would not help with a new arena, so in 1967 Kerner sold the team to Atlanta ownership.

posted by Howard_T at 11:33 PM on January 14

NFL Network Airs 'Lost' Super Bowl on Friday

I watched the game in a bar in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I was "on the road again" doing some flight test work on one or another aircraft self-protective system at Eglin AFB. We were off on Sunday, and rather than sit in the motel room, a bar seemed a better choice. I really don;t remember too much of the game, but I do remember Lombardi's post-game presser. He did not seem overly impressed by the upstarts from the AFL.

posted by Howard_T at 11:05 PM on January 14

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 11

We have to make our picks for 2 games on Friday the 13th. OK, it comes on a Wednesday this month, but it's still the 13th. There are some tough picks this week. I will be at the Pacers vs Celtics on Wednesday. Celtics have had an awful habit of blowing large leads and losing late; it's the absence of a true "go-to" guy. It makes for some exciting basketball, but it is getting rather frustrating for us Green fans.

13 January

Boston by 6
LA Clippers by 11

14 January

San Antonio by 4
Golden State by 15 with a Bay Area SLAM

15 January

Oklahoma City by 9
Cleveland by 8

18 January

Memphis by 10
Cleveland by 3
LA Clippers by 6

I usually watch all of the Celtics away games, as well as those home games for which I have given away my tickets. Because of the contest, I now tune in to catch at least some of the evening's offerings. I also have the NBA Channel on DirecTV, so I can look at a lot of the highlights and a few games that appear on local broadcast rather than network. It all depends on what else is on the tube. While I have always been a basketball fan, my interest in teams other than Boston has increased since I've had my season tickets.

posted by Howard_T at 03:42 PM on January 12

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Peyton Manning and HGH

Perhaps this will answer the question. Journalists live in fear of possible retaliation from the Manning family.

posted by Howard_T at 10:27 PM on January 08

Play SportsFilter's NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest

OOOPS! Missed the "props". Please add the following to my desperate stabs at picks.

Most passing yards (quarterback): Roethlisberger
Most yards rushing (running back): Peterson
Most receiving yards: Antonio Brown
Player with a sack (or part thereof): Watt

posted by Howard_T at 12:26 PM on January 08

Play SportsFilter's NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest

OK, I'll play your silly little game -- oh wait, I've been playing it all season. I came close, but not too close, in the regular season, so this will give me another chance for glory. As Bullwinkle said to Rocky whenever Rocky questioned Bullwinkle's expertise, "This time for sure".

Kansas City by 6
Pittsburgh by 10 Big Ben vs A J McCarron makes this one a high-scoring LOCK
Seattle by 7 The Ballard LOCK moves east.
Green Bay by 9

posted by Howard_T at 04:32 PM on January 07

Baseball Hall of Fame adds "The Kid" and the catcher in 2016.

I can't disagree with either selection, although unanimity for KG Jr. would have been nice. There's always someone who poops in the punch bowl. I sort of rooted for Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell, but I can understand why both were a near miss. In Bagwell's case he might have been a little too close to the PEDs, but there was never anything other than rumor and speculation to connect him. With Raines it might be the team he played on for much of his career. He appeared in only 8 playoff series in 5 seasons, and the bulk of those (6) were with New York Yankees toward the end of his career.

posted by Howard_T at 10:30 PM on January 06

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Week 10

OK, back in action after a "halftime" break spent chained to the couch and being forced to watch bowl games with names provided by sponsors almost nobody ever hears of until bowl season. The lead has increased slightly, but is anything but safe. I don't want to be caught Walking the Dog in a bad neighborhood as was Donald Sloan.

06 January:
Miami by 12
Oklahoma City by 5

07 January:
Chicago by 9
Sacramento by 14

08 January:
Cleveland by 11
Oklahoma City by 8 with a Thunder Road SLAM

posted by Howard_T at 05:23 PM on January 06

NFL Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Grum@work

Howard, yerfatma, and I can check it for baseline internal gas volume

I've been dealing with a slow leak on my wife's car for the past week or 2, using my son's girlfriend's bicycle pump to do the inflation. How the pump wound up in the back of my truck is a good question, but it's there so it gets used. In any case, I have been doing much study of Gay Lussac and his gas laws, and I feel that between the 3 of us, we can get this done.

Having Jim Irsay blow up the football could create a hazardous situation. Alcohol fumes are combustible, and I would bet after an evening of drinking, Mr. Irsay's breath might not be pleasantly scented. Canada would be correct in refusing entry to such a dangerous device.

posted by Howard_T at 10:24 PM on January 04

NFL Pick 'Em Contest Winner: Grum@work

Congratulations to grum on his victory. Congratulations and many thanks to rcade for running the show. I enjoyed the competition.

I would also like to see the elimination of the point for getting the spread but not the winner. There should be more emphasis on picking winners, and more points for hitting the spread exactly than for being within the margin of error. Otherwise, I have no complaints at all, other than the nagging feeling that there was some sort of vast conspiracy keeping me from making correct picks.

posted by Howard_T at 05:04 PM on January 04

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 17: Last Chance Saloon Edition

I have worn a tie only once in the past 4 years, so breaking a tie should not matter to me. This presumes that it might actually make a difference to me in the final standings. It will take a hell of a week to catch the savants who are ahead of me. Here we go:

New York (National Conference) by 16
Houston by 12
New York (American Conference) by 4
Chicago by 9
New England by 6
Cincinnati by 10
Washington by 8
Atlanta by 7
Pittsburgh by 14
Indianapolis by 10
Tampa Bay by 3
Denver by 17 with a LOCK for the Rocky Mountains
Kansas City by 14
St. Louis by 6
Arizona by 3
Minnesota by 7

Total score Sunday night will be 55.

posted by Howard_T at 01:35 PM on January 02

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Kobe did the same stupid thing

...at which point I turned to my son and said, "What else did you expect?" Actually, the game itself was a bit of a stinker, but the energy generated by it being Kobe's last in Boston made it a lot of fun. Celtics lost, not because of Kobe but because they played very badly, had poor shot selection, and were a bit sluggish. Boston is a team without a true "go to" guy upon whom they can depend for the solid game or the critical play at the right time.

posted by Howard_T at 10:01 PM on December 31

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The NBA is still playing, after all.

Ten games on tap tonight, and I will be at one that perhaps features a significant event. It's Kobe Bryant's last game in Boston, and TD Garden will be sold out. I have been offered $200 per for my $83 (face value, I get them for $70 as a season ticket holder) seats, and I have heard stories that offers have been as high as $500 for the good seats like mine (center court and row 5) in the balcony. My son and I will meet at the Polaner Beer Garden in North Station, quaff a quick brew, head across the street for a fast piece of pizza, and then back to the Garden and the craft beer bar in the balcony. We will be cheering for Kobe, although a good natured boooo might be heard from time to time. There has been a lot in the Boston media over the past week or so about the rivalry, and I've heard a few things even I did not know. For example, Boston passed on Kobe despite watching him put out an incredible workout for the Celtics. After the workout, his potential was compared to that of Michael Jordan. The Celtics passed on him in favor of Antoine Walker because Walker was supposedly "more ready for the NBA"; Kobe after all was coming straight out of high school. It's going to be a good time tonight.

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on December 30

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Two names in the obituary pages over the past few days have called up some memories. The first is Meadowlark Lemon, age 83, who starred with the Harlem Globetrotters for many years from the mid-1950s to about 1970. Lemon was the clown of the group, pulling such pranks as dropping the pants of the referee, emptying a water bucket filled with confetti into the crowd, and diving into the front row at a female customer's chair to retrieve a towel, instead coming up with a pair of very large panties (planted in advance, I'm sure). The antics, perhaps more than the incredible basketball skills, never failed to please the crowd. After leaving the Globetrotters, Lemon established a youth ministry to reach young persons in basketball camps and in juvenile offender prisons. The strains of "Sweet Georgia Brown" repeat in my head as I write.

The second name is that of Dave "Hendu" Henderson, whose home run in the 1986 ALCS won the series for the Red Sox over the Angels. Henderson had another late inning home run against the Mets that forced game 6 of the 1986 World Series into extra innings. I was at sea in USS Midway while the radio broadcast of game 6 was played over the 1MC speakers throughout the ship. I sat in the Aircraft Electronic Countermeasures Shop, agonizing as a succession of Sox relievers failed to get the one out needed for the team's first World Series win in 68 years, and then felt the dagger through the heart as the ball rolled through Buckner's legs. Henderson was never much more than a journeyman player, but for the 1986 post season he was supreme.

posted by Howard_T at 12:07 AM on December 29

NFL Pick 'Em Week 16: Airing of Grievances Edition

My baking is mostly done, supper will be something simple, and I will be passing the Chalice at the late Eucharist tonight. The family goes to CT tomorrow for Christmas at my wife's stepmother's place, where we celebrate the annual setting off of the smoke alarm as the several sisters try once again to make Yorkshire pudding. Tradition is a wonderful thing. Getting all the football picks correct is also wonderful. How 'bout it, Santa?

Oakland by 14
Washington by 6
Detroit by 17
Tampa Bay by 9
Kansas City by 8 Does the Cuyahoga River have a LOCK on it? It does on Sunday.
Buffalo by 10
Carolina by 12
New England by 3
Pittsburgh by 15
Houston by 7
Jacksonville by 3
Arizona by 16
Seattle by 6
Minnesota by 12
Denver by 7

posted by Howard_T at 03:38 PM on December 24

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 9

Nothing like a 6-0 run with 4 treys to put you on top for the moment. This is the NBA, and it's a game of runs. You make one, they make one, and an 18 point lead with as much time to go as this season has means little. Let's see what the NBA has put into my Christmas stocking.

Miami by 12 and a South Beach SLAM
Oklahoma City by 10
Golden State by 6 (This one is a gift for the fans. Saw Cleveland vs Celtics last week & they are playing well.)
San Antonio by 8
LA Clippers by 5 (Another one that could be fun to watch)

A very Merry Christmas or otherwise happy holiday season to all.

posted by Howard_T at 08:38 PM on December 23

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Reminiscent of Dave Cowens famous "now THAT'S a foul".

posted by Howard_T at 05:08 PM on December 22

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Dickie Moore of the Montreal Canadiens

Another "hated enemy" of my youth has passed, but Dickie Moore, like all of those whom we hate only because they are not wearing our team's sweater, was a class act. I believe Moore was "forgotten" only because of his teammates. When you are in the company of the Richards, Beliveaus', Geoffrions, Harveys, and Plantes, your very bright light just is not as visible.

RIP Dickie Moore.

posted by Howard_T at 01:19 PM on December 20

NFL Pick 'Em Week 15: I Miss the Big Sombrero Edition

My workout has been changed from 0930 to 1200, so I will steal a moment to get the picks done. Last week was not exactly my best, but the good thing was our giving nomich some faint hope. What will this week bring?

Tampa Bay by 6
Dallas by 6
Minnesota by 12
Washington by 9
Kansas City by 10
Jacksonville by 13
Carolina by 16
Houston by 9
New England by 21
Seattle by 18 A bigger LOCK than the Ballard Locks (Browns will try to climb the fish ladder there.)
Green Bay by 3
Cincinnati by 6
Pittsburgh by 8
Miami by 14
Arizona by 10
New Orleans by 16

posted by Howard_T at 11:07 AM on December 17

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 8

I did not realize that I had hit the San Antonio spread on the nose. That's 2 spreads (Boston over Chicago by 5 was the other) in one week. The bad news is that 25% of my points have come in one week, which does not auger well for the future. We will press on nonetheless.

16 December
Chicago by 11
Golden State by 16 SLAMMING the start of a new streak.

17 December
Cleveland by 8
Houston by 15

18 December
San Antonio by 6
Phoenix by 13

Happy Beethoven's Birthday to all.

posted by Howard_T at 03:01 PM on December 16

Ranking all 30 NBA court designs

My "true green" self will not let me favor any but the Celtics' floor. I do appreciate the more minimalist designs that feature the center team (not arena sponsor) logo with little or no other decoration. Excessive floor decoration or patterning is distracting.

A little sidelight on the origin of the parquet floor in Boston might be of interest to some. When the Celtics first moved to the Boston Garden from the Boston Arena, the team wanted to save a dollar or two. Full length lumber was expensive, and team management found a place to buy scrap lumber at a very attractive price. Since the Boston Garden was a multiple use arena -- ice hockey, rodeo, circus, political gatherings, and my graduation from Northeastern University -- the basketball floor had to be removable. Thus the scrap lumber was fashioned into the square sections, which were numbered so that they could be assembled quickly and without error, and this became the famous "parquet" that supposedly had dead spots and odd bounces. The floor in TD Garden this season is brand new, and this can be seen because the bolt heads that hold the sections are still shiny.

posted by Howard_T at 02:49 PM on December 16

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 14: Not So Hotlanta Edition

...and now for the rest of the story. (My apologies to the late Paul Harvey)

Cleveland by 6
Buffalo by 10
Kansas City by 13
Indianapolis by 5
Carolina by 16 With a solid LOCK keeping all secure.
Detroit by 4
Washington by 9
Tampa Bay by 6
Seattle by 3
Cincinnati by 10
New York (American Conference) by 10
Denver by 12
Green Bay by 10
New England by 7
New York (National Conference) by 15

posted by Howard_T at 09:56 PM on December 10

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 14: Not So Hotlanta Edition

Time for a quickie, more to come in a little bit.

Arizona by 16

posted by Howard_T at 08:18 PM on December 10

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 7

Hawks won as well

Mr. Cuban was, shall we say, displeased with the officiating, but then when is he not? Thanks to some unknown woman who wound up under a Red Line train on the MBTA last night I never got to the C's game. Thought for a while I would end up walking through Cambridge from Central Square to where I had parked at Alewife, but managed to decipher the bus routes. I guess nailing the spread on the Celtics was my reward.

posted by Howard_T at 05:31 PM on December 10

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Larry Bird took $160 off of Dan Shaughnessy

Anybody who takes Shaughnessy for money is OK with me. It would be just like Shaughnessy to teach his kid to shoot for money and then take away the kid's lunch money. Come to think of it, that's how my old man taught me how to play cribbage.

posted by Howard_T at 07:39 PM on December 08

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 7

Thanks for the sick, lame, and lazy report, NoMich. It will help a bit. Dunleavy being absent from Chicago takes away a pretty reliable 3-point threat and a solid veteran presence on and off the floor. I will be at the Chicago vs Boston game tomorrow night, solidly rooting for the Celtics to keep the home streak alive. They are home after a long road trip on which they went 3-2, and lost to San Antonio by 3 when a last-second 3-point try missed. Teams sometimes have some difficulty in the first home game after a long road trip, so it makes the prediction a bit tough.

09 December
Boston by 5
Dallas by 8

10 December
LA Clippers by 12
Sacramento by 7

11 December
Indiana by 14
San Antonio by 22 and SLAM this one home

Happy Hanukkah to all who might be observing same.

posted by Howard_T at 07:32 PM on December 08

North Texas Hires North Carolina OC Seth Littrell as Head Coach

Denton is close enough to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that I don't wonder that decent music groups would wander through. It is also close enough that Denton's arts and entertainment scene would be overshadowed by the nearby big cities. The name change from Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute has probably avoided some unfortunate anagrams. The mythical Sam Houston Institute of Technology and the Saint Thomas University of Physical and Intellectual Development would fall into this category.

Please tell me that you photo-shopped the image of your coffee mug.

posted by Howard_T at 08:47 PM on December 05

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 6

Some interesting games to pick this week. Interesting, that is, not easy. For example, the basketball equivalent of the "New York Derby". How do you pick between two semi-dreadful teams? Spurs at Memphis is not easy either. Spurs are a very consistent team, but Memphis can play some very good ball at home. I will get out my lucky coin with Red Auerbach's picture as heads and the leprechaun as tails, and we shall see how it lands.

03 December
Oklahoma City by 18
Memphis by 8

04 December
New York (Borough of Manhattan, that is) by 12
Cleveland by 15 Slam with a serving of jambalaya

posted by Howard_T at 02:54 PM on December 03

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 13: Brock and Roll Edition

Wow! Two Pick-ems to get to today, and things in both get interesting. I have no idea how I managed to get within 3 of tommytrump. When Sunday afternoon was over, I sensed disaster. I guess the night games helped out. This is a tough week to predict, but we will persevere.

I like the spread sheet idea.

Detroit by 4
Chicago by 13 Lock it up
Cincinnati by 8
Arizona by 16
Tampa Bay by 6
Jacksonville by 9
New York (National Conference) by 7
Miami by 3
Minnesota by 10
Buffalo by 9
Denver by 15
Oakland by 2
New England by 14
Carolina by 17
Pittsburgh by 10
Washington by 13

posted by Howard_T at 02:43 PM on December 03

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

One of the Boston Celtics' retired numbers has passed away at 85 years. Jim Loscutoff, who was on the Celtics for 7 NBA championships is the only Celtic whose retired number banner bears his nickname rather than his number.

Loscutoff came to the Celtics one year before Bill Russell. This ten-year-old fan was excited because he promised to add the rebounding that Boston had sorely lacked. Of course, Loscutoff was only 6'5", but he had a big body and was able to position himself well. My dad and I were in the Garden one night when he set the rebounding record for the building. The record was broken in the next season by Bill Russell, and I was there for that one too. So why his nickname rather than his number on the banner? Loscutoff wore the number 18, which seemed to be a number for Boston "bigs". The prior holder of 18 was Bob Brannum, a pretty good power forward in his own right. After Loscutoff the number passed to Dave Cowens. No further explanation is needed for why "Loscy" is on the banner, and the 18 is for Cowens.

posted by Howard_T at 08:44 PM on December 02