Recent Comments by Howard_T

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I asked my wife what she thought about this idea. She asked me if I had anyone particular in mind. Before I could answer, she was pulling a French chef's knife out of the drawer. Not a good idea for me.

posted by Howard_T at 09:37 PM on May 24

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

bad basketball?

It's not so much bad basketball as it is one team playing good defense while missing easy and open shots when with the ball. Cleveland has a reputation of being soft on defense, but they played some fairly solid D tonight One of the advantages of watching the game live is to be able to concentrate on the defensive battle between two players There were some very tough wars tonight.

posted by Howard_T at 12:53 AM on May 24

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Don't you need to be a billionaire to afford all those ding dang ol' NBA games

I confess. I am not a billionaire, but after I retired from my job as an engineer, I partnered with a fellow in a business that gives people large sums of money for helping us move funds that are tied up in all sorts of red tape. Perhaps some of you have received one of our emails from my Nigerian partner. I can assure you that these are not scams. The business has gone well enough to pay for the Celtics tickets and a smaller version of the aforementioned yacht.

Ok, to be serious, Celtics season tickets in the center 6 sections of the balcony are not all that expensive, and are even cheaper on the ends and corners and in the back rows. I haven't been to a Bruins game for several years, although my wife is bugging me to take her to one. Maybe next season. As far as a yacht goes, I don't own one. Half of the lobster boats on Brier Island, Nova Scotia, are owned by people named Titus, so maybe that counts. My wife and I recently had a chat with our financial consultant, and the analysis is that we have a 97% chance of making it to age 91 without running out of money. I guess we'll keep going to Celtics games.

posted by Howard_T at 10:22 PM on May 22

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

naive billionaires

I am not naive. I will leave it to the rest of you to determine whether or not I fit the second qualification.

posted by Howard_T at 11:25 AM on May 21

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Of concern to all NBA fans, and especially to Celtics fans, Bill Russell was taken to hospital Friday night. It was initially reported as a heart problem, but it is now being called dehydration. My disclaimer is that I saw Russell's very first NBA game in Boston Garden in 1956.

posted by Howard_T at 02:39 PM on May 19

Come Watch the Warriors-Rockets Series With Us From an Expert’s Couch

It's interesting to watch Cleveland using picks to isolate LeBron James on a defender of choice. The problem is that the Celtics have 4 in the starting lineup who can effectively defend James one on one. With multiple players that can defend, the Celtics will switch. The lone defensive liability against James is Terry Rozier, and this is only because of a lack of physical size not quickness. If Baynes is brought in off the bench, James will try to pick on him. While Baynes has the size to defend James, he is not quick enough laterally. What has hurt Cleveland is the inability of anyone other than Kevin Love to make a notable contribution to Cleveland's offense. I'll say nothing about their defense.

posted by Howard_T at 08:40 PM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Stay Messi

Interesting look at a superstar whom I never really followed at all. Thanks for sharing.

posted by Howard_T at 12:27 PM on May 18

The World's Oldest Basketball Court is in Canada

My dad worked for a time in a bank in St. Stephen on his way to immigrating to Boston. This would have been around 1920. He used to tell a story about exchanging US dollars for Canadian for Jack Dempsey. He never said anything about basketball.

posted by Howard_T at 08:40 PM on May 16

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

but I just about injured myself enjoying this Marcus Smart play last night

So did the 18,000 + in the Garden last night. Once the Celtics started their run in the 3rd quarter, the place went crazy. It was not only loud but also the noise was sustained almost continuously. One of these nights I'm going to see if I can drag you down from Dover for a game.

posted by Howard_T at 11:28 AM on May 16

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Third Round

Snuck one in on us didn't you, rcade. Bottom scorer in the West is Mbah a Moute; in the East is Ojeleye.

Just had a fun time with autocorrect that tried to name Mbah a Mouse as the West's bottom scorer, then insisted it was Mbah a Mouth. Technology is fun.

posted by Howard_T at 09:41 AM on May 13

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Third Round

The following was copied and pasted from the Saturday Huddle.

Since I will be busy later today and traveling tomorrow, I will get my NBA playoff picks in now. I will miss game 1 in Boston tomorrow, but I sold my tickets for a small profit, so all is well. We will get to the rest of the home games and cheer for the Celtics.

Warriors appear to be playing possum a little bit as the playoffs have progressed. Houston has found a groove, and they are playing as well as they have all year. Does either team have enough on defense to slow down the other? Warriors inside game will stand up more consistently than Rockets. Golden State in 7, Durant.

How far can LeBron James lift his game, and consequently his team? Against Toronto he was unstoppable, and his supporting cast is just good enough so that one's defense cannot be concentrated on him alone. If there is a team in the East that can defend successfully against the Cavs, it is Boston. They have 3 or 4 players who can go one on one with James and hold him down. He's unstoppable, but he can be slowed. Boston has relied on balanced offense and having a different player carry the team each game. They will have to play as well in this series as they have ever played. I will call the upset here. Boston in 7, James.

posted by Howard_T at 11:22 PM on May 12

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Since I will be busy later today and traveling tomorrow, I will get my NBA playoff picks in now. I will miss game 1 in Boston tomorrow, but I sold my tickets for a small profit, so all is well. We will get to the rest of the home games and cheer for the Celtics.

Warriors appear to be playing possum a little bit as the playoffs have progressed. Houston has found a groove, and they are playing as well as they have all year. Does either team have enough on defense to slow down the other? Warriors inside game will stand up more consistently than Rockets. Golden State in 7, Durant.

How far can LeBron James lift his game, and consequently his team? Against Toronto he was unstoppable, and his supporting cast is just good enough so that one's defense cannot be concentrated on him alone. If there is a team in the East that can defend successfully against the Cavs, it is Boston. They have 3 or 4 players who can go one on one with James and hold him down. He's unstoppable, but he can be slowed. Boston has relied on balanced offense and having a different player carry the team each game. They will have to play as well in this series as they have ever played. I will call the upset here. Boston in 7, James.

posted by Howard_T at 04:21 PM on May 12

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Casey being fired was a jaw drop for me. He managed a first place finish, even with some injuries to his stars. His bench was highly regarded during the regular season, but seemed to fall back some during the playoffs. It might just be time for Toronto to hook up the detenator and get ready to blow it all up. Boston, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia are the teams that will pretty much run the East in the next few years, unless someone pulls off a major deal. To use the cliche, Toronto's window was open, but it just slammed shut. DeRozan and Lowrie are valuable enough to bring a bundle of picks or some decent role players to go along with a high pick. Some quality youngsters, and in a few years a "just below max contract" free agent could put Toronto back in contention.

posted by Howard_T at 09:39 PM on May 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I quite agree with Jeremias. Celtics vs Cavs could prove to be a much better matchup for Boston. An old fart like me goes back to the days when the Celtics defense would have to deal with such as Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and the like. These guys were unstoppable, but the Boston method was to make the superstar work for his points, make him work hard on defense, and make sure the lesser lights on his team did not go off for a big game. Boston's success against the Cavs depends on how well they can do that. Keep Kevin Love, J R Smith, and the others down, let LeBron get his 35, and things should turn out well.

posted by Howard_T at 01:54 PM on May 06

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Goodness, the Celtics are ridiculous

I was at the game last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Celtics were indeed good, Jason Tatum in particular as he rose to the challenge to outshine the pseudo rookie Ben Simmons. Celtics played their usual excellent defense, but Philly helped them greatly by shooting very badly from the perimeter. Turnovers favored Boston, rebounds were nearly even, but free throws were 26 of 34 for Philly versus 17 of 18 for Boston. The numbers say that Philadelphia outplayed Boston, but could not shoot well enough to win. The free throw discrepancy shows that Boston was willing to play tight defense and take it's chances with the officiating.

posted by Howard_T at 11:44 AM on May 01

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Now that the East has been settled, we can proceed to the more fun part of the schedule. The Celtics played as good a defensive game last night as they have all year. The problem is that Philadelphia presents a whole different set of challenges. Compounding the situation is that Jaylen Brown is listed as doubtful for tomorrow with a strained right hamstring. Against Milwaukee Brown was one of the more reliable scoring options, and his defense is very good. Philly could steal game 1, and if so, I don't like Celtics' chances.

After a debacle in Indiana, Cleveland came back well. Toronto has considerably more diverse scoring, and play some decent defense. Of course, LeBron is always the best player on the court, but how much help he will get is open to question on a game-by-game basis.

End of analysis, now for the picks:

Even though 76ers are not strong at point guard, they have enough to offset this. The injuries finally catch up to the Green. Philadelphia in 6. Simmons.

For all of the reasons above, Cleveland will have a hard time getting past the Raptors. Toronto in 5. DeRozan.

Get well soon, ic23b.

posted by Howard_T at 09:28 PM on April 29

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Really wish the NBA would do the same thing as the NHL. That is, wait until all games in a round have been completed before starting another round. I suppose there are scheduling problems, but if the NHL can do it, why not the NBA?

I will be at TD Garden screaming the Celtics through to a game 7 win tonight. If you have never experienced live a new elimination game in basketball or hockey, you have missed an incredible experience. Bring hearing protection. Now my picks:

How Durant and Anthony Davis work on each other will determine this one. Rondo is the wild card. Golden State in 6, Durant. +1 +1

Watching the way Utah closed out Oklahoma City last night makes me think they have a chance against Houston. Then I look at the Rockets roster and reality takes hold. Houston in 5, Harden (who else?). +2 +1

posted by Howard_T at 12:16 PM on April 28

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

NBA Officiating really ruins the games

Shortly after the missed goaltending, Pacers were awarded the ball on an out of bounds play in which the ball clearly went off a Pacer. Cleveland did not appeal, perhaps knowing that it was a makeup for the missed goaltend.

In Boston's game 5 win, a shot by Horford was ruled to have been made prior to the 24-second shot clock expiring, even though replays showed the ball was still in his hand as the horn sounded. I can attest from personal knowledge, having been in the building that evening, that it was impossible to hear the horn because of the roaring crowd. The shot was missed, but Boston got the rebound and ran another critical 20 seconds off the clock before Milwaukee gained possession.

The NBA issues something called "The Last 2 Minute Report" that explains any missed calls in the last 2 minutes of a game. This is at best a move toward greater accountability on the part of the officials. It doesn't go far enough. What discipline is being applied to referees who miss calls? Are they fined, docked games, perhaps suspended? It has been very noticeable, almost since the league began, that some players are not held to the same standards as others. I understand that this is because fans don't watch the game to see LeBron or the Greek Freak foul out in the 3rd quarter, but if you are going to protect a player from one side, give the same treatment to one from the other side. Better yet, treat all the same and let the chips fall where they may.

posted by Howard_T at 04:59 PM on April 27

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

So all in all, Wednesday night was not Toronto's night. The Jays lose a lead and the game to a pair of bombs from Mookie Betts, the Leafs lose a lead and the game turns badly in the 3rd period. Despite hanging tough, Leafs are done for the year. One that is somewhat overlooked in the rest of the excitement is Toronto's loss in the CONCACAF Champion's League final. Perhaps this was the hardest of all. It came down to penalty kicks, after the teams were tied in wins and aggregate goals. The Raptors still survive in the NBA playoffs, leading the Wizards 3-2, but Washington has surprised a bit and could take it to a 7 game series.

This year it really appears as if Toronto is challenging Boston as the best sports city in North America. Having 3 teams in the postseason or in international league championships, and one team a strong possibility to also make the postseason in the fall, makes for strong credentials.

posted by Howard_T at 11:32 AM on April 26

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Or how about the famous lake near Worcester, MA:

I never count in anger. Ever since my mom used to say she was counting to ten before taking action, I have known that all counting does is to give the subject of your anger time to get away.

posted by Howard_T at 12:58 PM on April 24

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

I saw a few innings on TV while switching back and forth with the Bruins. Manea was sharp with a changeup that was consistently hitting the black on his glove side corner. There were one or two questionable plays. First, there was a bloop into short left center that the shortstop got a glove on but dropped. The play-by-play crew thought it might go as a hit, but to this umpire it was ordinary effort for a major league shortstop, and it was correctly ruled an error. The other play involved a batter-runner running out a ground ball. The fielder attempted a tag short of the base, but the batter-runner dove toward foul territory, evaded the tag, and reached his left arm out to touch the base. The original call was safe on an infield hit. Again, my umpire eyes agreed with the call, but after a conference it was overturned and the runner called out for being out of the baseline. It was a tight call, and I believe it was the plate umpire who convinced the 1st base umpire to change the call. The plate blue would have had a better angle, but I think perhaps he was thinking that there's no way a no-hit game should be taken away in the 6th inning on something that cheap. As a fan of the game, not necessarily of one team or the other, I approve of that sort of logic.

posted by Howard_T at 02:05 PM on April 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Scott Zolak behaving like . . . well, Scott Zolak

Unicorns and show ponies forever.

We can add the Patriots to the rest of the major teams in New England who have a legendary announcer who has passed on. When I finally go, I know I will enjoy listening to Ned Martin calling baseball, Bob Wilson (and Fred Cusick before him) sending us the Bruins, Johnny Most rousing the Celtics radio audience to a fever pitch, and now Gil Santos. We New Englanders have been fortunate to have had excellent announcers calling excellent teams.

posted by Howard_T at 08:54 PM on April 20

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Late news: Gregg Popovich's wife has passed away. Bleacher Report mentions an undisclosed illness, but the statement from the Spurs gives no information. It has been a very tough season for Coach Pop.

posted by Howard_T at 08:59 PM on April 18

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

A suggestion for the Chicago White Sox.

This is from a religious satire site. Being an Episcopalian who attends a church with a large average Sunday attendance, we don't have this problem, but there are a few in NH that are close.

posted by Howard_T at 07:44 PM on April 16

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle


Aw come on. I'm planning to enlist Leon to write some posts for me.

posted by Howard_T at 01:23 PM on April 16

College Football Modifies Kickoffs for Player Safety

Why not adopt a football version of the face off or jump ball? Line up the two teams at midfield, facing each other about 5 yards apart in straight lines. There need not be 11 in each line, one or more backs may be used. For an opening face off, have the winner of the coin toss roll the ball in a-la a rugby scrum. This would be done by a twelth player who could then not enter the field until the face off is complete and play is dead. For face off after a score, the team scored upon gets to roll the ball in. Once the ball is clearly possessed by either team, it is dead and may not be advanced. This will allow for some violent collisions, but will avoid the high-speed collisions that are frequently the cause of serious injury.

posted by Howard_T at 01:19 PM on April 16

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Saturday

The second season is upon us. This year could prove to be very interesting, but the real fun won't start until the 2nd round. In the meantime:

Houston in 4, Harden +1 +1

Oklahoma City in 6, Westbrook +1

Portland in 7, Davis (The brow still lives) +1

Golden State in 5, Durant +2 +1

Toronto in 5, Wall +1

Boston in 7, Antetokoumpo +2 +1

Cleveland in 5, James +1 +1

Philadelphia in 5, Simmons +2

posted by Howard_T at 01:30 AM on April 14

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I was watching the Champions League match between Manchester City and Liverpool - TV replay - this afternoon. Something odd happened. First, (Gabriel) Jesus scored for City. The next goal was scored by Mohammed (Salah). For much of the rest of the game I pondered the theological implications of Jesus and Mohammed scoring in the same game. Was there a battle to be fought at Armageddon? Perhaps this was the beginning of peaceful competition between Christian and Muslim. As I went deeper into the possibilities, some guy named Firmino scored and pulled me back to reality. Too bad there was nobody named Judah on either side.

posted by Howard_T at 01:14 AM on April 12

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Oh, Melissa, you are too late. I have already pledged my undying lust to Lana and her testogen on another thread. Well, maybe if it doesn't work out between Lana and me, then perhaps...

posted by Howard_T at 02:58 PM on April 11

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Lana!!! Oh girl of my dreams, please deliver me a full semi-trailer load of your testogen. This 77-year-old lecherous male needs all the help he can get. You and I could make some beautiful highlight reels - just before my fatal coronary. Some Viagra will help, but if things last more than 4 hours, I'm not calling a doctor, I'm calling the Pope! It's a miracle!

posted by Howard_T at 02:54 PM on April 11

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

is perhaps best not conspicuously celebrated.

It's still not forgiven by my wife. She's a Towson grad, and she used to be a student manager at the Towson Club in the middle 1970s. A lot of the Colts players hung out there, and my wife got to know them. When they moved, she was broken-hearted, as were any number of Colts' fans.

posted by Howard_T at 08:34 PM on April 10

Humboldt gathers, and mourns, through a long and tragic night

I have been searching for words; none are adequate. I prayed for them and their families at church this morning. It feels empty.

posted by Howard_T at 09:30 AM on April 08

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

No evidence of a curse? Now even Gordon Hayward's dog will undergo ACL surgery. It's everywhere!!!

posted by Howard_T at 08:14 PM on April 06

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

98 years ago Boston traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and the 86-year-long "Curse of the Bambino" began. Today, upon hearing the news that Kyrie Irving will miss the playoffs, the thought came to me that a new curse might have been placed on a Boston team. Since the trade of Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have lost the services of Gordon Hayward (5 minutes into the season) , have lost Irving for the remainder of the season, Marcus Smart will probably not be able to play until the 3rd round of the playoffs (if the Celtics get that far - very doubtful), and at various times throughout the season other starters and principal reserves have missed time. Do we have a new curse? Before he was traded, Thomas insisted that when he reached free agency any team that wanted him would have to "back up the Brinks truck" in order to pay him. Do we have the "curse of the Brinks truck" on our hands?

posted by Howard_T at 11:53 PM on April 05

It's finally happened! Emergency back-up goalie (Blackhawks' Scott Foster) plays in an NHL game.

I had to look this up, but I could remember it having happened. In January of 1956, Boston Bruins were scheduled to play in Montreal. Terry Sawchuck, the regular Boston goaltender was ill and couldn't play. The backup was Long John Henderson, but his size 13 skates did not make it to Montreal. The Montreal goaltender's coach, Claude Pronovost, younger brother of Marcel, was put into the Boston net, and he proceeded to pitch a 2-0 shutout for a Bruins win.

posted by Howard_T at 12:46 PM on March 31

Mookie Betts Interviewed During Play

Keep them all miked up, tape all, and play selected highlights along with video of the play. That would make watching baseball a lot more fun. Just don't overdo it.

posted by Howard_T at 08:12 PM on March 27

NBA Pick 'Em Week 24: Take the Shot Markelle Edition

Carnage is a word that is woefully inadequate to describe my results from last week. I'm almost afraid to continue with the picking. I'll continue while being ready to scream as I check the scores.

Tuesday, Mar 27:

Cleveland by 8
Los Angeles (San Diego transfer variety) by 12

Wednesday, Mar 28:

Utah by 9
(Picking against the Celtics has been hazardous to my standings.)

Thursday, Mar 29:

Oklahoma City by 3
Milwaukee by 6
(Because Golden State is on cruise control while nursing injuries)

Friday, Mar 30:

Cleveland by 12
Portland by 10

Sunday, Apr 1:

Houston by 14

posted by Howard_T at 05:23 PM on March 27

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Good to see Markelle Fultz able to get back out on the floor

I haven't seen any highlights of his game. Did he shoot anything from beyond 15 feet or so? Has his shooting form changed at all? Nice to hear that he has overcome any physical problem, but there was speculation that his shooting problems were between his ears.

posted by Howard_T at 11:37 AM on March 27

NBA Pick 'Em Week 23: 140 to 79 Edition

I seem to be replicating the team I follow closely, winning once in a while, but generally in a decline. Like my Celtics, I will play hard and see what happens. The picks:

Friday, Mar 23:

Washington by 11 SLAM
Portland by 9 SLAM Surgery for Kyrie. Ouch

Saturday, Mar 24:

Houston by 6

Sunday, Mar 25:

Washington by 21 SLAM
Golden State by 8

posted by Howard_T at 03:50 PM on March 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Don't feel bad, fatty. I'm old enough to be the kid's grandfather, maybe even great grandfather. I might have fewer teeth than he does, and I tend to fall down from time to time. The only thing that gives me comfort is that Don Cherry does not know where I live, so I can keep some of the jackets my wife refuses to let me wear.

posted by Howard_T at 08:03 PM on March 22

Former Bills GM Bill Polian is the co-founder of a new football league

The athletes all don't have to be those who have failed to make the NFL. If the AAF is willing to pay some heavy money, then you might see some good NFL players who are unhappy with what the market is offering jump to the other league. It happened with the ABA vs the NBA and the old AFL vs the NFL of the 1960s. I think of a certain Mr. Gronkowski who recently has been expressing (rather cryptically) a desire for more satisfactory remuneration.

posted by Howard_T at 01:44 PM on March 21

NBA Pick 'Em Week 22: Home Stretch Edition

Now for part 2 of the picks.

Saturday, Mar 17:

Washington by 6
Minnesota by 8

Sunday, Mar 18:

Houston by 14
Portland by 3

Monday, Mar 19:

Cleveland by 9
Golden State by 15 SLAM

Pardon me for shouting. It seems to be the thing to do

posted by Howard_T at 01:14 PM on March 17

NBA Pick 'Em Week 22: Home Stretch Edition

I'm still on an adrenaline rush from the Celtics vs Wizards game Wednesday night. I upgraded our seats from the balcony to a spot 4 rows back from the floor almost to the baseline opposite the Wizards bench. It's amazing how much contact off the ball that never gets called. Never let anyone tell you that basketball is a non-contacy sport.

Have to do the picks in 2 parts. Much to do this afternoon.

Oklahoma City by 5

Los Angeles (formerly of Minneapolis variety) by 11.

Tata for now.

posted by Howard_T at 03:09 PM on March 16

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

A starting lineup of Who He and 4 other guys, and now we're in overtime. What would have thought?

posted by Howard_T at 10:37 PM on March 14

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

I'm going to the Celtics game tonight, that is if I can find my truck underneath the latest 18 or so inches of snow. Who will be in the lineup will be the topic of discussion among our group in Section 316. I'm probably wrong about this, but it seems that there are more injuries to the top level NBA players this year than usual.

posted by Howard_T at 12:11 PM on March 14

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

cannot be unseen

Why do I have visions of one of these being wheeled in a stroller around the children's clothing department of the local Walmart. What would be the over/under on police response time?

posted by Howard_T at 09:19 PM on March 09

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Wait a minute. Who's this Wolf Boy guy? Does WWE have a future superstar? Let's not be hasty here

posted by Howard_T at 01:13 PM on March 09

Roger Bannister has Passed Away

upstart colonist tabloid

beaverboard, I do believe we might find a spot of tea in Boston Harbor. My Dad's ancestors were evacuated from New York to Nova Scotia in 1783. Loyalists (Tories) all the way. My fault to miss the knighthood; I should have known better.

posted by Howard_T at 08:06 PM on March 04

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Smith was asked, "would you pass the soup please?" He replied that LeBron is always yelling at him to pass, so he was tired of it. He elected to take a shot with the soup and hit the coach. The trouble really began when he accused the coach of goaltending.

posted by Howard_T at 11:11 AM on March 04

NBA Pick 'Em Week 20: Send In The Tanks Edition

We're home from the game, so I will finish up the picks. Celtics vs Hornets was into garbage time by the midway point of the 3rd quarter. Celtics looked much sharper with the ball than before the all-star break. The defense allowed way too much in the paint in the first half, but they tightened it up greatly in the second half. A little rest has gone a long way.

Now the rest of the picks.

Thursday, Mar 1:

Cleveland by 6

Minnesota by 4

Friday, Mar 2:

Toronto by 8

Minnesota by 9 SLAM

Saturday, Mar 3:

Houston by 11

Sunday, Mar 4:

Philadelphia by 7

posted by Howard_T at 11:20 PM on February 28

NBA Pick 'Em Week 20: Send In The Tanks Edition

These picks are coming to you from the TD Garden in Boston, where tonight the Boston Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets. OK, that's enough of my Johnny Most impression, here's the picks.

Wednesday, Feb 28:

Golden State by 9

Houston by 11

More to follow. It's almost time for The National Anthem.

posted by Howard_T at 07:26 PM on February 28

LeBron James: NCAA is Corrupt

I have to agree with what LeBron has said and what has been written above. The NCAA and the colleges are making a fortune off of athletics, and few of the players receive any real benefit. Pardon the possible racial taint to the following, but I look at it as a huge and profitable plantation. The players are the field hands, and they labor on with their only hope of reward being able to play at the professional level some day. True, there are some who profess to play for the love of the sport, but most of these are people who have good prospects for a career in the "real" world.

The thing that bothers me most is the refusal of the NCAA to allow even a small stipend to be paid to collegiate athletes. Consider a young person who comes from a situation in the lower socio-economic bracket. Basketball may be have the greatest percentage of players in this situation. Take a youngster with a single mom who is marginally employed. This kid is probably working at least part time in order to help his family survive. For him to go off to college to play basketball will put pretty sizeable dent into the family finances. Now along come the scouts, or whatever you call them, who are making some pretty big offers under the table. It would take an awful lot of spine for this kid to resist. Yet until the NCAA starts to understand the real world, the corruption will continue.

posted by Howard_T at 02:28 PM on February 28

The 2018 Winter Olympics are over and Norway won

I didn't make a conscious effort to avoid the Olympics this year, but my wife and I watched very few of the events. I think the problem was NBC's broadcasting decisions. It seemed that whenever an event we might otherwise would have watched was on, another event, such as NBA basketball or NHL hockey was on. The only thing I watched in its entirety was the women's ice hockey gold medal game. That one was well worth the time, but watching cross country skiing and some of the other more arcane things just didn't appeal to us. I do regret missing the Curling; it must have been quite something.

posted by Howard_T at 07:28 PM on February 26

MLB Execs Consider Wild 9th-Inning Batting Rule

I cannot write the words that are coming out of my mouth as I contemplate what might be the stupidest idea yet for shortening baseball games. Like anything else, the more you screw with things, the more screwed up they get.

I have heard the local talking heads go on and on about the length of the game. The problem has become twofold. First, the broadcasters, mainly TV, insist on more commercial time. I understand, they have to make money, but cutting the time between half-innings would shorten things immediately. The between half-innings was increased in the not very distant past. Let's go back.

The next problem is the way hitters on some teams approach the game. No longer do they swing away at the first decent pitch. Now the standard approach is to take pitch after pitch, hoping for a mistake or trying to wear down the starter so you can get into the bullpen sooner. When pitchers start throwing strikes early in the count, and force the hitters to swing the bat, games will get shorter. The one idea I have heard that makes sense is for umpires to widen the strike zone slightly. Make it a half a ball width wider on each side of the plate, and the hitters will very quickly learn to swing the bat.

posted by Howard_T at 12:04 PM on February 23

NBA Pick 'Em Week 19: Coach Yourself Edition

We've had some time to plot our moves for the stretch run. I thought I might have something going last time out, but it all went downhill fast. Here we go.

Thursday, Feb 22:

Cavaliers have had some time to work together, they're at home, but Wizards are a capable bunch. Cleveland by 9.

Golden State by 8.

Friday, Feb 23:

Houston by 14 SLAM

Lakers will say "Tanks a lot", and Mark Cuban will cringe. Los Angeles (purple and gold variety) by 7 SLAM

Saturday, Feb 24:

Two teams playing somewhat below optimal performance level. Golden State by 5

Sunday, Feb 25:

Cleveland by 13 SLAM

76ers have played well of late, but not here. Washington by 10.

posted by Howard_T at 06:05 PM on February 22

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I too believe that the shootout was conceived by an anti-hockey satanic being to ruin the game. It was cleverly designed as a way to avoid the dreaded tie and to save us from being forced to watch through 3 or 4 overtime periods. We true hockey believers consider that being forced to watch overtime after overtime the equivalent of listening to an inspiring and uplifting 4-hour sermon at church. It might take a while, but we will be much better for it.

Now, about last night's, or should I say this morning's proceedings. For 2 1/2 periods I was sure that Canada would take the gold. They were playing harder, were better organized, and seemed to want it more. The latter half of the 3rd period and most of the overtime was a different story. The shootout put an end to what was up to that point an exciting and skillfully played hockey game. Of course, without the shootout they might yet be playing; the two teams were that closely matched. Ending it with a shootout is like pushing Michaelangelo aside and finishing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a box of Crayola's.

posted by Howard_T at 10:31 AM on February 22

MLB announces pace of play initiatives for '18

6 visits per game seems a bit excessive. The high school rule is 2 visits per pitcher; on the third visit, you must change pitchers. You get another 2 visits after that. It has been a long time since I have seen the catcher come out about 2 or 3 steps in front of the plate to yell some encouragement (or epithets) at the pitcher. Perhaps this rule will bring that back. The rule was that a pitcher was allowed 8 warm up throws on his first entry into the game and 5 before starting a new inning. All warm up throws were to be completed in one minute. Now that there's longer between innings there's no reason a pitcher cannot be ready. These new rules won't do much to speed up the game. Cut the time between innings to one minute, and you immediately cut over 15 minutes from the game.

posted by Howard_T at 03:42 PM on February 20

NBA Pick 'Em Week 18: Break Up Cleveland Edition

I was doing great until Sunday afternoon. What looked like a tired Celtics team just couldn't keep up with the revamped Cavaliers. It didn't kill me in the standings, but it sure would have been great had it turned out the other way. For the record, I made the pick before the Cleveland Clearance, so there's that bit of consolation. The post-game ceremonies for Paul Pierce more than made up for a bad loss.

Tuesday, Feb 13:

Cavaliers are not as good as they looked on Sunday, but Thunder have not played well lately. Cleveland by 8.

Spurs by 6.

Wednesday, Feb 14:

Celtics need to hold Williams from going nuts and get a few shots to fall late in the game. Boston by 9.

It doesn't matter who holds the clipboard. Golden State by 14 SLAM

Thursday, Feb 15:

Minnesota by 11

posted by Howard_T at 01:57 PM on February 13

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

beaverboard, I would be very careful if your wife starts collecting rocks from the garden.

posted by Howard_T at 05:23 PM on February 11

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Beaverboard, I have been thinking much the same thing about the possibility of the Patriots luring Garoppolo back from the 49ers. I look for Belichick and Brady to be gone not later than the end of the 2019 season. Belichick will use the time to work with Brian Flores, current Linebackers Coach and heir apparent to Matt Patricia's job as Defensive Coordinator, to bring him up to a higher level of excellence. There was some discussion about Greg Schiano being hired as a sort of consultant/assistant head coach, ultimately taking over for Belichick, but I think that the Kraft's might have scotched that idea.

Goyoucolts, I am unable to feel any sympathy for the Colts. It goes back to 1984 when my wife and I lived in Baltimore. I was a Patriots fan, but I rather liked the Colts for their history, involvement with the city, and the things like the marching band. If I had to root for another team, Baltimore was the one. When the Irsay family packed up the team in the middle of the night and moved them to Indianapolis, I lost all respect for them. I know it's not right to wish ill fortune on anyone, but somehow doing it to the Colts is payback for 1984. I do agree that there is a lack of integrity on McDaniels's part, and he has likely eliminated himself from any consideration for a head coaching position in the future. He has made his bed and now must lie in it.

posted by Howard_T at 10:44 PM on February 07