Recent Comments by Howard_T

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Now that we know what tbd stands for, it's time to make the final choice. The real question is whether or not Utah can steal a game from Warriors. I think a lot of us are going to look really dumb if Utah wins the series. Golden State in 5, Curry

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on April 30

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Church of Seeing the Future or something?

Actually I go to the Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) in New Hampshire, where I am a member of the Vestry, a Lay Eucharistic Minister, and a Verger. Our Priest in Charge for the past 31 years is retiring in another month, so there have been lots of meetings, conferences, and such while the succession is planned, and I couldn't avoid them today.The timing was such that I was able to watch the whole game on TV. As far as prognostication about the Celtics is concerned, I have watched the team since I was 11 (1952-53 season), and have paid a lot of attention to the season series between these 2 teams. Both teams play hard, on the edge of the envelope, and collisions are inevitable. I really didn't expect a flying tooth, though.

From about the halfway point in the 1st quarter, Boston started hitting on its shots. A few treys opened up the paint, and they began to get the ball down inside for some easy stuff. The defense turned it up in the 3rd quarter, and Washington just couldn't withstand it. For a good part of the 3rd quarter Celtics had Thomas, Bradley, Smart, Crowder, and Horford on the floor. That's 4 of the best defensive players in the league playing with one hot scorer. It made all the difference.

If you get the NBA channel, they will probably replay the game. It is worth sitting through.

posted by Howard_T at 09:53 PM on April 30

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Let's start in the East:

I will miss my first Celtics home playoff game in 3 years tomorrow. Church stuff has me tied up. My son will use the tickets. Nonetheless, I remain faithful to the Green. Boston in 7, John Wall There will be blood.

Cavaliers proved themselves against a game Indiana team. The games were close, but there really was no doubt. Cleveland in 5, LeBron James

To the West:

The class will really be evident in this series. Spurs have it. San Antonio in 6, Kawhi Leonard

Golden State vs TBD pick is TBD.

posted by Howard_T at 12:56 AM on April 30

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Today

Game 5 of Celtics vs Bulls. This is when the teams have begun to really hate each other. TD Garden is just about full, and the crowd is into it big time. A fun night is in store.

posted by Howard_T at 09:01 PM on April 26

ESPN laying off 100, including on-air peronslities

Forgot in my comment above the NFL, NBA, and MLB networks. Who the hell needs you, ESPN.

posted by Howard_T at 08:43 PM on April 26

ESPN laying off 100, including on-air peronslities

For far too long ESPN was the only game in town. That is, it was the only full-time national sports outlet on cable. First NBC and then in short order CBS and Fox started their own full-time sports networks. Well what do you know; all of a sudden there's this thing called "competition" and when that happens, your product has to get better. I think we can all agree that ESPN's product hasn't gotten a lot better of late. Add to the competition the local cable sports channels and the college conference networks like Big Ten and SEC. The market is now nearly saturated, and if you are losing customers, you need to cut expenses and improve your product. From the roster of announced cuts, product improvement seems to be about the last thing on ESPN's mind. Funny how this whole thing so closely follows the model of any area of business

posted by Howard_T at 03:47 PM on April 26

MLB *Play of the Year* is pretty much locked up by Chris Coghlan after this bit of insanity.

The umpire in me is trying to find a rule violation in this. The high school rules forbid a runner from hurdling a fielder. That was not a hurdle, since hurdling describes the action taking to jump over an obstacle by extending the front leg and trailing the back leg. The rules also demand that a runner approaching a base where a tag play is to be made either slide, give himself up, or attempt to avoid contact with the fielder. Most of us mortals think of avoiding as going from side to side. Not so for Mr. Coghlan; since he can fly, he has put a third dimension into the game.

posted by Howard_T at 12:23 AM on April 26

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Another of Babe Ruth's records has fallen. It's probably one that most (including myself) did not know existed, yet there it was, lurking under the dust in the record books, just waiting to be broken. Andrew Benitendi went 5 for 5 against Baltimore yesterday, becoming at the age of 22 years and 291 days the youngest Red Sox player ever to have a 5-hit game. The previous record holder was Babe Ruth who was 23 years and 91 days when he set the standard. This is one of those things that make sports such a fascinating pastime. Records endure, and when they are matched or broken, the career and life of the previous record holder are recalled and, in a way, honored. The continuity and traditions are thus maintained.

posted by Howard_T at 12:15 PM on April 24

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

A college student was killed by a hammer throw at a track and field event.

I saw this report earlier. What a shame for something like this to happen, especially for someone who was really just beginning his adult life. It shows the value of unceasing attention to what is going on around you. I have often thought about someone getting clocked by a batted ball when I am on the field umpiring. Some of the fields have little or no protection for people in the bleachers along the sidelines. At the level at which I work, the kids generally don't hit the ball all that hard, but if you move up to high school varsity, played on the same field that the middle school uses, you have a real hazard. The people watching the game are often young, non-athletes (girlfriends, little sisters, moms, little brothers) who are busy chatting, working their mobile 'phones, and doing anything except pay attention to the action on the field. Maybe an accident like this will call attention to the hazards that exist for those watching or working at sporting events, and will spur those in charge of the facilities or the events to improve safety.

posted by Howard_T at 05:37 PM on April 23

Former Bull Craig Hodges on Jordan, Kaepernick, and dissent:

Nuance is rarely understood on the social media. Janice, on the other hand, is all over it. She made a friend request on Facebook to me. I turned her down.

posted by Howard_T at 08:18 PM on April 20

Aaron Hernandez found dead in prison; conviction will be voided

I wonder if any sportswriter will be tempted to give him the gauzy victim-of-his-circumstances treatment

Chad Finn in the Boston Globe did quite the opposite in a piece today. Finn makes the case that Hernandez's problems were entirely of his own making, and are not to be excused. There was one brief mention about some believing that the death of Hernandez's father when Aaron Hernandez was only 16 might have pushed him toward the edge, but Finn seems to dismiss this. I can't say that I disagree with Mr. Finn's opinion.

posted by Howard_T at 12:42 AM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

This was called a "foul-tip" by Bucknor.

It's unclear from the video whether or not the ball was caught cleanly by the catcher or was "trapped" after hitting the dirt. If the latter, the call would have been a foul ball, not a foul tip, assuming the bat had actually contacted the ball. The difference between a foul tip and a foul ball is that the ball remains in play after a foul tip, but is dead (no more play) after a foul ball. It is obvious from the video that there was no contact between bat and ball. It it possible that Bucknor heard something that sounded like bat and ball contact, but the audio on the tape was not good. If you watch enough baseball, sooner or later you will hear what I mean by that, when on a swing and miss there is something that seems to be the sound of contact, but is something else.

I have been screaming at Bucknor's "inconsistency" behind the plate for many years. He does not do well there. In a 9 inning game, any plate umpire will miss as many as 5 or 6 pitches. It's to be expected, and players and managers will accept it, but some of the strikes he has called would not be strikes in a middle school game. In about 2 1/2 hours I will be behind the plate in a middle school game, and I really hope to do a better job than that. I limit myself to middle school because I am really too old to try to keep up with the varsity kids. I am adequate for middle school, but my performance on a varsity field, especially when it comes to moving to get into position to make a call, would be substandard. The New Hampshire Baseball Umpires Association does all of the varsity and JV high school games in the state. The members have to pass through an apprentice program before being assigned to games, Then their performance is reviewed, usually by the other umpire on the field and occasionally by an observer, and they are assigned to higher levels (i.e. larger schools) as they improve. The important consideration here is that it is the umpires' association that is responsible for quality control. The MLB umpires' union needs to adopt some sort of quality control program that includes suspension for poor performance.

I would last for about half an inning on an MLB diamond before it became apparent that I was over my head. Calling the balls and strikes , believe it or not, is not the physically most difficult part, although it takes perhaps the most skill, judgement, and concentration. High school and middle school ball use a 2-man system, and that means that both umpires will do a good bit of running in the game. That's where my problems begin, since at the age of 76 I am not as fast as I once was, and even in my prime I was not at all fast. Next time you have the opportunity to watch a major league or high minor league game, watch the umpires. Even in the 4-man system there is a lot of running involved especially with runners on base and a ball hit to the outfield. One of the umpires will go out to cover the ball, leaving a base uncovered. That means that the other umpires must adjust to be sure there is coverage in case of a play in the infield. The standard 4-man mechanics take care of this, as each umpire will understand what the others are doing and what he must do. Add to all of this the situational understanding, coverage of runners tagging up after a caught fly ball (who watches which runner), making sure bases are touched by runners, backing up the plate umpire on checked swings, not to mention the times when a ball is tipped and the catcher picks it off the ground, or a batted ball contacts the batter in the box and rolls into fair territory, looking like a fair ground ball, and the plate umpire can't see it. I cannot completely criticize Bucknor because of the many, many things an umpire must deal with on every pitch. His ability when calling balls and strikes must be considered, however.

posted by Howard_T at 01:03 PM on April 19

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Today

Isaiah Thomas playing for the Celtics despite the tragic loss of his sister Chyna. He's playing hard and has 15 at the half. TD Garden is electric, and I mean literally. They passed out wrist bands with LED lights in them. They are controlled by some remote entity, maybe the Government, and flash various colors. It was alternating red, white, and blue during the National Anthem. Quite a sight.

posted by Howard_T at 07:48 PM on April 16

Aaron Hernandez found Not Guilty of double murder

Worse news, you now have 5 more years there. Hernandez was found guilty on a weapons charge that carries a mandatory 5 in our fair Commonwealth of MA. Of course, 5 more years on top of life without parole is a bit ridiculous.

posted by Howard_T at 08:14 PM on April 15

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Today

Not your average 1 vs 8 series. This one could be an upset. Nah! Boston in 6 (concensus). Thomas. +2 +1

Have the Cavs emerged from hibernation? They have, and they are hungry. Cleveland in 5. Kyrie Irving. +1

Do I hear "Oh Canada"? Wait! There's no ice. That means Toronto has a chance. Toronto in 5. DeRozan. +1

TNT's home team vs Wizards. Atlanta might steal a couple of games, but that's all. Washington in 6 Paul Millsap. +2

Westward ho the picker.

Warriors and those from the Rose City hook up. Much as I like Portland, they have no chance. Golden State in 4 Curry. +2 +1

This one could be the wrestling championship series. San Antonio in 6. Leonard. +2 +1

One guard must be stopped, but neither will be. Which of the 2 will lack support? Houston in 7. Westbrook. +1 +1

This could be Doc's last shot at another ring. It won't be easy. Los Angeles in 7 . Hayward.

posted by Howard_T at 01:56 PM on April 15

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Happy birthday, rcade. May you have many more, and may they all be celebrating years that have passed with happiness and prosperity.

posted by Howard_T at 12:53 PM on April 13

NBA Pick 'Em Week 25: All the Marbles Edition

Foiled again! I was umpiring on the ball field yesterday, and as a result I never looked at either my e-mail or SpoFi. Missed the Tuesday games as a result. Heading for TD Garden tonight to watch the Celtics attempt to finish as the number 1 seed in the East. Since Milwaukee is leaving Dellavedova, Antetokouompo, Snell and Middleton home to rest, things look pretty good for Boston. Now for what's left to pick:

Hawks are comfortably in 5th in the East, and have no chance at 4th. Meantime, the Pacers are struggling to stay in the playoffs, and must win or have both Chicago and Miami lose. While Atlanta might be resting some starters, I remember what a resting Hawks team did to Cleveland quite recently. Nonetheless, Indiana by 9. SLAM

Trail Blazers are not moving up or down with tonight's game, nor are the Pelicans going anywhere but to the golf course. That makes this one a tough one to predict. Blazers are at home, so I will go with that. Portland by 11. SLAM

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on April 12

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

That's a balk in anybody's rule book. The pitchers right leg goes almost directly toward the plate. In order for this not to be a balk, the leg must go toward first base. We umpires are taught to use the beginning of the running lane (the double line along the last half of the first base line) as a target. That is, if the pitcher's foot lands on the home plate side of an imaginary line from the pitcher's plate to the beginning of the running lane, it's a balk.

posted by Howard_T at 01:29 PM on April 10

Team USA wins gold over Canada in the IIHF Women's World Championship

The links to the USA Today stories are coming up as "This Site Can't be Reached". It could be my browser (Chrome) or my laptop. In either case, here is an interesting sidelight about one of the lawyers who helped the women's team reach the agreement.

I heard that the women had beaten Canada in OT to win the gold. What a great outcome after so much adversity.

posted by Howard_T at 09:52 PM on April 08

National Review Takes on NFL Relocation Shakedowns

If you consider socialism to be the government controlling the economy and deciding which businesses or individuals receive money from the government, then what Nevada has done may be considered socialism. What the NFL does is anything but socialism. Rather it is a bit of a scam that promises places that will subsidize a team increased economic activity and jobs. In some cases this is true, but much depends on the team ownership to develop the businesses and activities, as well as a successful team, that generate the economic activity.

I agree with tahoemoj about Las Vegas being the last place in the USA that needs largess from the state to attract tourists. Confession on my part: When I was working and we frequently tested at the Tonopah Test Range, I usually flew into Las Vegas, stayed overnight, and drove the 200 miles to Tonopah the next day. I would reverse the process returning to NH. Las Vegas for me was not much of a tourist destination. The tables were a waste of time and money, the shows did not interest me nor fit my musical tastes, and other than the occasional beer or glass of wine, I do not drink that much. If Las Vegas had had an NFL team and any of our tests had coincided with a visit by the Patriots, I would definitely have sought a ticket. Otherwise, I have no real interest in going there, but there are a lot of fans here in New England, and elsewhere, who would go to one of their team's games in Las Vegas rather than another city

posted by Howard_T at 03:36 PM on April 05

NBA Pick 'Em Week 24: Westbrook Triple Double Edition

I posted these in the Huddle yesterday just in case I ran out of time before heading off to the Celtics vs Cleveland game tonight. The Wednesday Lenten Eucharist was brief (priest had an appointment), and something I had going on this afternoon didn't go on. I had included games from Tuesday, both of which I predicted correctly, including a SLAM, but I have deleted those. Do I get a bonus? (Is that laughter I hear?) Anyway, here are the rest of my picks for the week. Please listen carefully, options have changed.

Wednesday, April 5:

Cavaliers ride into Beantown. They have a point to prove. Despite my screaming from my balcony seat they prove it. Cleveland by 6.

Mavericks stampede to the office products corral. There they are clipped. Los Angeles Clippers by 10.

Thursday, April 6:

Second night of a back-to-back for the Celtics after a tough game against Cleveland. Cs do well in these situations. Boston by 8.

T'wolves go to Portland. This is an intriguing match up. Portland by 11.

Friday, April 7:

Hawks fly to Cleveland. Cavaliers love home cooking, and roast these birds. Cleveland by 14. SLAM

Saturday, April 8:

Doc's team hooks up with the Popovich Gang. No rest for anyone. San Antonio by 7.

Sunday, April 9:

New York is invaded by rapacious dinosaurs. The horror movie at Madison Square Garden continues. Toronto by 7.

Monday, April 10:

Washington tries out the former Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Detroit is not quite that old school. Washington by 12.

Rockets fly to the Bay Area. The water might make them fizzle. Golden State by 5.

posted by Howard_T at 03:19 PM on April 05

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

I didn't think the officials got many individual calls wrong. Rather, they decided to call the game tightly instead of letting them play. This favored NC's style and tended to inhibit the larger Gonzaga players. I don't believe this was done with an intent to favor either team, but the result certainly was affected. In a game of this magnitude the officials need to keep the whistles quiet.

posted by Howard_T at 02:55 PM on April 04

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

In a desperate effort to avoid having to post my picks from seat 9, row 5, section 316 of TD Garden, I will drop them here. rcade, if you would be so kind as to move them to the Pick 'em, I will appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 4:

Bucks take on the Westbrook AC in Thunder country. Are deer frightened by thunder? Oklahoma City by 8.

Timber Wolves face the Warriors. Sneaky Warriors shoot from long range to avoid fangs. Golden State by 11. SLAM

Wednesday, April 5:

Cavaliers ride into Beantown. They have a point to prove. Despite my screaming from the aforementioned seat they prove it. Cleveland by 6.

T'wolves go to Portland. This is an intriguing match up.Portland by 11.

Saturday, April 8:

Doc's team hooks up with the Popovich Gang. No rest for anyone. San Antonio by 7.

Monday, April 10:

Washington tries out the former Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. Detroit is not quite that old school. Washington by 12.

Rockets fly to the Bay Area. The water might make them fizzle. Golden State by 5.

posted by Howard_T at 02:43 PM on April 04

Tony Romo heading into broadcasting with CBS

Sounds like a "cost-benefit analysis" on Romo's part. The benefits would be a continuation of a decent career on a team that is competitive (Houston or Denver for example). Negating this benefit in part is the relative unlikelihood of either team winning a championship. The cost is the continued wear and tear on his body. I don't believe money enters into the analysis. He has made a large pile already, and the analyst's job is certainly worth the high 6 or even 7 figures per year. My opinion is that it is the better choice for Romo.

posted by Howard_T at 02:08 PM on April 04

NFL team owners approve Raiders' move to Vegas

why not Huntsville or Auburn?

Huntsville is way too close to Nashville for another NFL team to gain approval for a move there. The same holds true for any place in lower Alabama with respect to New Orleans. Birmingham is a possibility, but even there one finds a potential conflict with Atlanta.

posted by Howard_T at 06:58 PM on March 30

NBA Pick 'Em Week 23: Better Not Rest Your Starters Edition

The saga continues.

Cavaliers in the Windy City. Bulls end up sucking wind. Cleveland by 13. SLAM

Rockets roar to the Northwest. There they overcome a stubborn opponent. Houston by 11.

A reversal of direction for the Rockets, but now they malfunction. Golden State by 8. SLAM

Westbrook AC vs Club Popovich. Old gray guys rule. San Antonio by 7.

The only 2 original members of the NBA to remain in the cities where they started meet. Celtics need this one. Boston by 16. SLAM

Jazz try the Texas 2 Step. They stumble. San Antonio by 10.

posted by Howard_T at 06:35 PM on March 30

NBA Pick 'Em Week 23: Better Not Rest Your Starters Edition

Why do you always wait until I am in my seat with the game about to start? No worries. I will pick tonight's game and get the rest later.

Warriors are beginning to play together, but Spurs are always tough. This one is for the lead in the West. San Antonio by 4.

posted by Howard_T at 07:42 PM on March 29

NFL team owners approve Raiders' move to Vegas

I can see some additional revenue sources for the Raiders in Las Vegas. Slots in the stadium clubs and luxury boxes come to mind. Running bets on various plays, such as next play run or pass or yards gained on next play over/under could be done in real time. Fans would have a device at their seat, log in with an account number and credit card, and use the device to enter their bets. It could generate some pretty good profits. Of course, running a Keno game would be good too. Use the Jumbo tron or whatever display to show the numbers during time outs. The possibilities are endless.

posted by Howard_T at 05:24 PM on March 28

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Why's he wearing a watch?

Could it be one of those fitness tracker watches being worn so he can monitor his fitness metrics? Perhaps it's just a standard wrist watch, and he wants to time his performance.

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on March 28

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: J.J. Barea Will Smash Edition

Rogers, for the playoffs I suggest sticking with a simple winner and games played for the first round. Award the points for picking the series winner, with some extras for getting the number of games right. No points for picking the games but not the winner. If a series mvp is to be chosen, put in a prop for that.

Continue that format throughout the rest of the playoffs, adding props such as total points, total margin of victory and such. For the finals, I suggest making the picks for the series and doing a pick'em for each game as well. The slam option could be incorporated here.

posted by Howard_T at 11:41 AM on March 26

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: J.J. Barea Will Smash Edition

Now to the picks. I didn't notice that Washington vs Cleveland was an early game. Rats, I missed it, but for the record I would have picked the Cavs. I checked the score and see that Wizards are leading. Interesting.

Thunder in Houston is tough to call. The hirsute AC will prevail. Houston by 9.

Portland was doing quite well, but when Evan Turner went down, it took away their bench. Still, they're playing the Lakers. Portland by 16.

Cavs to the lair of the wicked Popovitch. Spurs will hold on. San Antonio by 8.

The replacement will face the team that left town. Jazz left for a good reason. Utah by 6.

posted by Howard_T at 08:54 PM on March 25

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: J.J. Barea Will Smash Edition

At the presser one could nearly see the steam coming out of Brad Steven's ears. He courteously but abruptly answered the 5 or 6 questions that were asked, then left in a hurry. Booker was unconscious, but the Pacers cheapened it somewhat by fouling the Celtics as if Indiana were down by 5 with less than a minute left. They were also using time outs to try to extend the game so Booker could get a few more. Still, it was an incredible effort, and Booker couldn't even go out for a beer to celebrate because he's only 20.

posted by Howard_T at 08:35 PM on March 25

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: J.J. Barea Will Smash Edition

Going to the Celtics game tonight. Have an invitation to Coach Stevens' presser after the game.Should be fun.

Hawks at Bucks. Don't pass the buck on this. Milwaukee by 11.

All the rest later.

posted by Howard_T at 06:37 PM on March 24

Here’s Why the US Women’s National Hockey Team Is Going on Strike

Somehow the perception persists that the women's game is not as entertaining or exciting as the men's. Other than the lack of heavy contact, nothing could be further from reality. A bit slower? Perhaps, but the skill set is still there. Is hard contact really necessary for entertaining hockey? Not at all. Good skating, intelligent passing, and playmaking are the keys to an entertaining game. There are times when the contact gets in the way of a good game, at least in the NHL game. As the linked item implies, it's about more than the pay.

posted by Howard_T at 02:09 PM on March 19

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I watched the Cleveland vs LA Clippers game last night, and heard the TV crew go on and on at length about the absence of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. This a week after the Golden State Warriors did the same thing at San Antonio, resting Stephan Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala. In Cleveland's defense, Irving was supposedly not feeling his best and Love was having his minutes limited as he came back from his injury. Still, when one pays a pretty steep chunk of change for a seat, he expects both teams to put forth their best product. To me, resting one's stars is the equivalent to substituting the Salisbury Steak for the advertised Filet Mignon without a commensurate price reduction.

So what can be done about it? Perhaps something similar to the NFL's policy on injury lists, where players are designated as 'out' or 'questionable' if there is any doubt about their ability to play. The NFL has several days prior to a game to make such announcements, while the NBA usually has only a day or 2, and sometimes less than that. My suggestion would be that teams be forced to announce at least 12 hours before a game any players who will be rested or unable to perform due to injury. If players are not injured, but are being rested, the home team will be required to offer full refunds to any patrons who request one. If it is the visiting team that is resting players, that team will be required to reimburse the home team for its loss of ticket sales plus a percentage that will reflect the loss of concession sales. I would like to see the NBA add a healthy fine whenever a team decides to rest a star player.

Something like the above is likely to lead to the faking of injuries, but if a player is required to sit out one game after being declared able to play, this might limit such a practice. The same could hold true for reducing a player's time on the court to what amounts to a cameo appearance. As a fan who is paying some of his hard earned cash to see a game, I have the right to a decent product. My experience is that most fans who come to see the home team select the games they want to attend based on who plays for the visiting team. If I lay out 3 or 4 hundred bucks per seat to see LeBron James or Stephan Curry, I don't want to watch their substitutes.

In the last 2 seasons, the Celtics have started a policy for their season ticket members that allows us to return a certain number of tickets per season. We do not receive cash for the returns, but we can use the value returned as credit toward seat upgrades, various fan experiences, and the like. i have up to 3 hours prior to tap-off to return any game. Thus, if I know that a player I would particularly like to see is not playing, and the game has no real interest for me as a result, I can turn it back. I do not know if any other teams have such a policy, but it is a good one. It applies to season ticket members only, so something like penalties for resting players is still needed.

posted by Howard_T at 01:57 PM on March 19

NBA Pick 'Em Week 21: Emphasize the Triangle Edition

Enjoyed a good game at TD Garden last night. Watching Minnesota gave me a bit of insight into one of the picks for this week. I will probably get it wrong anyway, judging by what happened with my picks last night. Now to finish what I started last night.

Jazz to the home of the Rock and Roll Museum. While rock has some of its roots in jazz, the tempo won't fit the boys from Salt Lake City. Cleveland by 11. SLAM

The aforementioned T-Wolves travel from the snows of the Northeast to warmth of South Beach. Wolves don't do well prowling on the sand. Miami by 6.

Cavaliers try to impress at the home of the office supplies chain. Clippers have been disappointing of late, and will continue to be so. Cleveland by 9.

Pacers visit Toronto. They should spend their time at the Hockey all of Fame. Toronto by 14. SLAM

Warriors would like to cement the lead in the West, but Oklahoma might not be the place to do so. Maybe it is. Golden State by 8.

Here is a clash of the two great cities of either coast. Too bad the basketball team of one doesn't reflect any of this greatness. Los Angeles by 16. SLAM

posted by Howard_T at 05:22 PM on March 16

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

On another subject, a famous figure at many significant sporting events has been euthanized. The rumor that a noted NFL quarterback was present at the event has been proven untrue.

posted by Howard_T at 03:37 PM on March 16

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

try to get an "interference" call

There are a few things that might go into an interference call. First is that if you do throw the ball at the coach, you have to hit him with it. This is not at all assured when the coach is a moving target. The next thing is that the coach had to really be in the way of a throw. If the coach were far enough to one side of the line that the throw would have to take, the umpire would not make the interference call. Last, even if all the necessary items were in place to make a correct call of interference, would the umpire make the call? Remember, interference is a judgement call, therefore, it cannot be the subject of a protest. Many umpires will not make such a call to bail out a team that has messed up a play as badly as that shown in the video.

posted by Howard_T at 03:33 PM on March 16

NBA Pick 'Em Week 21: Emphasize the Triangle Edition

On my way to Celtics vs T-Wolves. Got to make this quick.

Portland has been playing really well, but it's the Spurs in their house. San Antonio by 8.

Clippers really need to close out the regular season with a bunch of wins. Bucks are a good place to start. LA Clippers by 12. SLAM

More later.

posted by Howard_T at 06:48 PM on March 15

NBA Pick 'Em Week 20: Dirk Nowitzki 30,000 Edition

I just noticed that I omitted a pick for Golden State at San Antonio. Golden State is not playing well of late, but San Antonio is missing 4 critical pieces of their lineup. Leonard is in the concussion protocol, Parker and Dejounte Murray are hurt, and now LaMarcus Aldridge is out with cardiac arrhythmia. Can Manu Ginobli carry them all? Meanwhile, Golden State plans to rest Curry, Green, Thompson and Iguodala. Durant is still out for the Warriors. ABC must love these developments.

In the meantime, I would like to change my pick on the San Antonio vs Atlanta game on Monday. Please remove the slam and change to margin to San Antonio by 4. Thus the picks should read:

Saturday: San Antonio by 9.

Monday: San Antonio by 4.

My apologies for the extra work induced, and many thanks for your indulgence.

posted by Howard_T at 03:51 PM on March 11

NBA Pick 'Em Week 20: Dirk Nowitzki 30,000 Edition

It is now later. Here come the rest (as I cringe at what the above picks did for me. At least Suns are keeping it close).

Warriors take on a pack of Wolves. Without Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns could be a problem, but this will be overcome. Golden State by 10 SLAM

Kings got no Boogie. No Boogie means no chance Wizards by 8. SLAM

Bulls are long, and this means a rebounding advantage. Boston does not do well at this, but they might actually have everyone available to play. Boston by 6.

LeBron meets The Beard, and doesn't have any Love to help. No matter. Cleveland by 8.

Hawks have talons, but San Antonio has Spurs. Talons lose. San Antonio by 11. SLAM

Altitude sickness is not easily overcome. Denver by 13. SLAM

posted by Howard_T at 11:59 PM on March 09

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

From a tweet by NFL Game Day, these are the Browns' 2017 and 2018 draft picks:

2017: 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6

2018: 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7

Two questions come to mind. First, does Danny Ainge have a job moonlighting as the GM for the Browns? Second, it is rather obvious that the Browns are putting together a package for something. Could that be Jimmy Garoppolo? The Patriots are said to be reluctant to trade Jimmy G, mainly because they don't trust Jacoby Brissett to be the only backup for Brady. I have one idea that might sound preposterous, but with Jay Cutler on the market, presumably available for a fairly low price, would it not make sense for Patriots to pick up Cutler as Brady's backup? They could then continue grooming Brissett to eventually step in when Brady's supply of Kickapoo Joy Juice, or whatever keeps him alive, runs out. Could a package of this year's #1 or #12 and a second round pick along with either a first round pick or a pair of second rounders in 2018 be enough? Stay tuned, things are interesting in Foxborough this year.

posted by Howard_T at 11:36 PM on March 09

NBA Pick 'Em Week 20: Dirk Nowitzki 30,000 Edition

I thought I had a bad week last week, but it turned out much better than I had hoped. Now the problem is to hold the lead and extend it a bit. Not easy at this stage of the season as teams look toward their playoff position and get serious about winning.

Thunder have been leaning on Westbrook too much. San Antonio by 11.

Two teams with no hope of making the playoffs.New management might help Lakers. Phoenix by 6.

The rest coming later.

posted by Howard_T at 07:34 PM on March 09

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: Not Funny Amar'e Edition

So I'm watching OKC vs Dallas, and I realized that I had confused Houston and Dallas. Not that I would change my pick, but when you do things like that and you are my age, it's time to worry a little. If I do things like that too often, it might be time for the old folks home. Well, if there is wifi,. I can survive.

posted by Howard_T at 09:55 PM on March 05

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Flying Creatures Encounter The Temple Of Doom

One of the things I do to keep from becoming thoroughly bored during my retirement is to watch the birds that come to my back yard feeders. I'm also a member of the NH Audubon Society, and I keep up with the local records of species migration, the changing habitats of year-round species, and birds in general. To me the situation in Minneapolis is nothing short of tragic. The unfortunate part is that the Vikings' stadium is not unique on this, nor is it the first. The biggest problem is the stadium's proximity to a migratory flyway. I do not understand why remedial action cannot be taken until some study is completed in 2019. The carcasses are there, it is obvious that birds are being killed, and anyone who has even a small understanding about birds knows why. Netting is a good solution, but it can be expensive and require frequent maintenance. Decals on the windows might not be the most aesthetically satisfactory solution, but they are cheap, require little or no maintenance, and can even be something of a revenue source if advertising is allowed. I hope that the local chapters of The Audubon Society or other birding groups will find a way to force an early solution to the problem.

End of editorial screed, but I do feel rather strongly about the subject.

posted by Howard_T at 05:09 PM on March 04

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: Not Funny Amar'e Edition

I hadn't really been tracking my picks, but I had the feeling it had been a good week. I didn't think it had been as good as 68. Since the NBA is into the final 25% of its season, perhaps I am doing my pick 'em equivalent of Isaiah Thomas in the 4th quarter on the court. Let's see what we can do this week, although there are some tough matchups to predict.

No Kevin Durant for the Warriors, and Bulls can be tough at home. Class will show. Golden State by 7.

I have been impressed by Portland all season, but can they handle Westbrook and crew? Oklahoma City by 4.

Cavaliers are missing some vital parts and are trying to integrate some new people. Atlanta is a good place to do this. Cleveland by 9. SLAM

Spurs visit the Crescent City, aka The Big Easy or NOLA. No party for the home team, Mardi Gras is over. San Antonio by 12. SLAM

Clippers are in the Windy City, but they won't get blown out. Los Angeles Clippers by 8.

Here come the Warriors to New York. It won't be close. Golden State by 16. SLAM

Two cities with some great college football rivalry meet on the basketball court. Westbrook vs The Beard. Bet on clean-shaven. Oklahoma City by 9.

Pacers trot to the land of the Tarheels. Here are 2 teams going nowhere fast. Indiana by 10.

One more meeting between Paul Pierce and his old team. This one will not be nearly as emotional as the one in Boston. Los Angeles Clippers by 8.

posted by Howard_T at 04:58 PM on March 02

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Hey, I'm sorry I woke everyone up. I didn't really mean to do that. It's nice to know everyone's still alive, though.

posted by Howard_T at 02:39 PM on March 01

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

It's way too quiet tonight. Is everyone at their local church eating pancakes and sausages for Shrove Tuesday, or are you all out partying for Mardis Gras? I'm up in the mountains with my wife on a brief getaway, but I'm still trying to keep up.

posted by Howard_T at 09:04 PM on February 28

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Tommy, you leave this wide open for 8 or 10 obscene comments. Despite being sorely tempted, I shall refrain.

posted by Howard_T at 01:21 PM on February 26

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I have recently subscribed to the e-mail list for "The Players' Forum". I don't read all of the contributions, but most of those that I do read show some excellent writing. I looked at this one tonight, and it taught me a number of things I did not know. Even better, the story shows how much one man's passion for a game he does not play affected an entire nation and brought a very different minority population closer to the rest of the country. It's a bit lengthy, but certainly worth the time.

posted by Howard_T at 09:31 PM on February 24

NBA Pick 'Em Week 18: Trade Deadline Edition

Slowly crawling up the charts, and have actually achieved some measure of respectability. Perhaps this week will help things along.

The mess that is New York visits Rock City. Enjoy the museum, Knicks, the game won't be fun. Cleveland by 18 SLAM

Chris Paul might be back for Clippers. Not enough by half. Golden State by 12 SLAM

Celtics like what they have and stand pat at the deadline. Will they stay ahead of Raptors? Toronto by 3.

Spurs will try their luck in LA. Chris Paul might make a difference in this one. LA Clippers by 7

Bulls keep Jimmy Butler out of the clutches of the greedy Celtics. It works out for them in Cleveland. Chicago by 6.

The Bucks don't win any Blue Ribbon in Cleveland even when they maintain a cool head. Cleveland by 8 SLAM

Larry Bird won't listen to the siren song of his former teammate Danny Ainge. Paul George is still a Pacer, and helps his team. Indiana by 9.

posted by Howard_T at 04:47 PM on February 23

Carter Capps' pitching delivery is illegal and MLB doesn't care.

Give a crap what MLB says, if some kid in a game where I had the plate delivered something like this, I would call time, explain that the pitch is illegal (and why), and warn him and his coach that each tie the pitch was delivered in this manner it would be called illegal and would be a ball. I wonder why MLB would allow this.

If Capps were due to pitch in a road game, all the home club has to do is loosen up the surface of the mound in his landing spot. This would not be likely to affect your own pitcher, since his landing spot would not be as far down the mound. Since Capps has some forward motion as his left foot lands, he would slide on the loosened surface, thus losing any semblance of control and possible injuring himself. That would be drastic, but it would send a message.

posted by Howard_T at 11:32 PM on February 17

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I don't know if this sort of divisional bunching is typical or not.

It would make sense that teams from a given division would all (or mostly) end up bunched in opponents' strength of schedule. It is the result of all teams in a division playing all of the teams in 2 other divisions, one NFC and one AFC. If your division draws a division with more than one good team, your division's strength of schedule rises accordingly. The AFC West played all of the NFC South teams this past season, thus running into Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta. All 4 were decent with the exception of Carolina. Of course Atlanta was not too bad. The teams from the AFC East played AFC North and NFC West. AFC North had 1 very good team, Pittsburgh, and 2 decent teams, Baltimore and Cincinnati. NFC West had Arizona and Seattle to balance Los Angeles and San Francisco. So why is New England;s strength of schedule lower than the other 3 teams in the AFC East? It's pretty simple; New England doesn't have to play the Patriots, while the other 3 teams get to play them twice.

posted by Howard_T at 01:00 AM on February 17

NBA Pick 'Em Week 17: Charles Oakley Will Smash Edition

Turned my tickets for Celtics vs 76ers back for credit. Snow coming tonight, and it's a long ride home from the T stop. Here's the picks.

Cavaliers have struggled a bit lately, but Pacers won't have enough to take advantage. Cleveland by 12 SLAM

Knicks beat a San Antonio team that was in the middle of a long road trip and played poorly. They will hear some loud Thunder. Oklahoma City by 11.

Celtics have been hot of late, but Bulls have played well too. Chicago by 4.

posted by Howard_T at 07:32 PM on February 15

NBA Pick 'Em Week 16: Go Mavericks Edition

Continuing with the business that was interrupted by dinner preparation:

Cavaliers having trouble controlling their mounts. Oklahoma city by 7

West Coast games are terrible for my sleeping pattern. Not so good for Boston either. Portland by 10.

Pacers trot to DC but there's no yellow brick road to these Wizards. Washington by 12. SLAM

Bulls will try to roam the desert. Suns do not shine brightly. Chicago by 8.

Kevin Durant will not be welcomed as the Prodigal Son, but he wins anyway. Golden State by 10.

Popovich has his team give basketball lessons to the big city. San Antonio by 9.

For their efforts on Sunday, the Spurs are rewarded with a trip to the Midwest. San Antonio by 14.

The team from a city in disbelief to play in the Northwest. The Hawks don't do any better than those other birds. Portland by 5.

posted by Howard_T at 11:05 PM on February 08

NBA Pick 'Em Week 16: Go Mavericks Edition

Tonight for openers, the rest later:

Los Angeles (fast sailing ship variety) by 11 SLAM Golden State by 16 SLAM

posted by Howard_T at 06:00 PM on February 08

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss, Rogers. You and your family are in my prayers.

posted by Howard_T at 08:21 PM on February 07

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Too bad they won't fire the organization. Bruce Cassidy is inheriting a mess that has no near term possibility of getting better. If there's any place to assign the blame, it is with the scouting department. For a few years, perhaps the last 5, the only decent forward they have drafted was European. The North American players have generally disappointed. I've been a Bruins fan for a long time, but it is at the point now that I have no desire to attend a game, nor will I even watch them on TV unless there is nothing else to watch. This situation reminds me of the early 1960s, when they annually were 4th or 5th in the 6-team league.

posted by Howard_T at 01:45 PM on February 07

The Greatest Comeback in NFL History

One final bit of snarkiness from the Dartmouth (MA) Police Department as reported in The Boston Globe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, February 6, 2017


HOUSTON, TX Upon the completion of Super Bowl LI, an independent investigation, now coined "Deflategate Two," was launched.

The investigation stems from the unexpected deflation of Roger GOODELL's ego at the completion of the game.

Though the investigation is still in its early stages, it was reported that a very happy and smiling Tom BRADY was in close proximity to GOODELL when the incident took place.

No further information is available at this time.

posted by Howard_T at 10:29 PM on February 06

The Greatest Comeback in NFL History

tron, it's typical of Belichick to make a decision like that. Do you remember a game in Denver when Patriots were trailing late, were backed up against their own goal line, and were facing 4th down? They could have tried to go for it, but instead opted to take a deliberate safety. Belichick trusted his defense to hold. They held, got the ball back, and Brady took over against a tiring defense.

posted by Howard_T at 01:02 PM on February 06