Recent Comments by Howard_T

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I watched the ESPN game last night during which they simulcast an inning of Vin Scully's broadcast. The thought occurred to me that while all other broadcasters use a color commentator, Scully works alone. Thus, he has the time and space to give us the musings of his most fertile mind. Perhaps he is the only play-by-play broadcaster who is good enough to pull this off. As an example, he was speaking of a player who frequently slid head first, and he told of how the belt buckle scoops dirt off of the infield and usually deposits it down the pants. He then mentioned that this player, should he ever hit an inside the park home run, might be said to have hit an "under the park" home run. We mortals can only wish we had such a command of language.

posted by Howard_T at 09:52 PM on September 22

NFL Pick 'Em Week 3: Bud Grant on the Gjallarhorn Edition

Enough of the frivolity and banter, it's time to get on with business. We must leave the question of the reduction of excessive testicularity for another time.

New England by 3
Arizona by 12
Oakland by 10
New York (National Conference) by 3
Miami by 14 LOCK
Jacksonville by 9
Green Bay by 10
Cincinnati by 6
Carolina by 10 LOCK
Tampa Bay by 10
Seattle by 7
New York (American Conference) by 3
Pittsburgh by 16 LOCK
Dallas by 7
New Orleans by 7

posted by Howard_T at 08:17 PM on September 21

NFL Pick 'Em Week 3: Bud Grant on the Gjallarhorn Edition

so I'll thank you from threatening my reproductive organs...

I might also suggest then you avoid trying this.

The link is alleged to be untrue.

posted by Howard_T at 08:02 PM on September 21

NFL Pick 'Em Week 3: Bud Grant on the Gjallarhorn Edition

If grum wins, that would give him two balls, and some of us still have none.

Is there a plan to rectify that?

I have consulted the veterinarian who takes care of our cats, and he says he can do the job quickly and painlessly. The procedure is also quite inexpensive.

posted by Howard_T at 03:23 PM on September 21

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

I think sometimes announcers good enough to last get too comfortable in a gig and start letting their facade fall away.

That's certainly one possibility. Another one is that they are never comfortable with what they are and what they can do. They start trying to come up with something new or better, and when it falls flat, they begin to look vulnerable. It snowballs from there.

Somehow I've never been tempted to take a healthy bite out of some lady's back. It might be because I do not prefer the position required to execute the maneuver. Of course lately I have no opportunity to use any position. It's hell to get old.

posted by Howard_T at 10:20 PM on September 20

Mud and Glory

Very nice stuff, owlhouse. Thanks for sharing.

posted by Howard_T at 10:10 PM on September 20

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Pardon the ramblings of an old man, but I felt like throwing this into the discussion to see what happens. One of the benefits of retirement is having entire afternoons with nothing really constructive to do. Today I killed the afternoon by watching the NBA Channel's broadcast of the 1976 Finals between Boston and Phoenix. Game 5 was the triple overtime thriller. It's not the first time I had seen this, and a study of this game is required in order to pass Celtics Fandom 101. (Trick question on the midterm: Identify Glenn McDonald and write a short essay on his contribution to the season.) Game 5 was one of the standout games in Celtics' history, and game 6, the series clincher in Phoenix, had its moments as well, so watching the games 40 years later was still a lot of fun.

As good as the games were, what piqued my interest today was the play-by-play work of one Brent Mussberger. As I said, this was 40 years ago, and at that time, Mussberger was actually pretty good. If fact, his work during the triple-overtime game could be called outstanding. He yelled loudly when he should have, delivered a calm commentary when needed, and was pretty close to spot on with his calls.

My point in this whole thing is that Mussberger has become something of a joke as a play-by-play announcer. This is really sad because he once was right at the top of the game. So it is with the ravages of time, and the moral (if there is one) to the story is that we should never run a guy down when his abilities begin to slip. This is also true of those who still perform as well as they ever did, but whose style is considered out of date. When you are tempted to do this, take a look back at what these guys once did and marvel at it.

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on September 19

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Thirteen

I feel as if I have fallen to the bottom of the basket of deplorables. Am I irredeemable? Of course. What is the use of being deplorable if one has to try to be redeemed. Here are my picks, and if they are accurate, I will try not to trump my success.

Montreal at Hamilton: Have Les Allouettes decided to emulate their forebears at Louisbourg in 1758? It will not take a siege of 6 weeks this time. Hamilton by 12

Toronto at Winnipeg: Argonauts sailed to victory on Lake Ontario last week, but unless they have a prairie schooner, they face an ill wind in Winnipeg. Blue Bombers, on the other hand, might try out a new pilot. Will he be able to land safely? Winnipeg by 10

Ottawa at Calgary: Redblacks will feel blue after encountering the Stampede. Calgary by 9

Edmonton at Saskatchewan: This is a rough year for the Rough Riders. Can they find some smooth sledding against Eskimos? I doubt it. Edmonton by 16

posted by Howard_T at 08:11 PM on September 15

NFL Pick 'Em Week 2: Jeff Fisher Update Your Resume Edition

After a relatively undistinguished start, we will try this again.

Buffalo by 6
Carolina by 10
Pittsburgh by 3
Houston by 4
Washington by 10
New England by 6
Baltimore by 9
New Orleans by 9
Detroit by 6
Arizona by 7
Seattle by 14 LOCK
Denver by 3
Oakland by 7
San Diego by 4
Minnesota by 3
Philadelphia by 6

posted by Howard_T at 07:50 PM on September 15

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Twelve

The 4-down version of the football pick 'em started this week, but the 3-down version continues. If I somehow get confused and pick Cleveland over Montreal, will I get extra points if Cleveland wins and Montreal loses? I thought not. Here goes another week.

Montreal at BC: Two teams that are about as far apart, and still be in Canada, will play. They are pretty far apart in results this season as well. The gap will widen (no, Vancouver is not drifting out to sea, I mean in the standings). BC by 12

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg: Blue Bombers let the Roughriders use the air strip. The landing fees here are steep. Roughriders might wind up stuck on the taxiway. Winnipeg by 7

Calgary at Edmonton: The second half of the battle for Alberta moves to Edmonton. Will that help the Eskimos avenge the Labor Day weekend defeat? It might make the result a bit more respectable, but the outcome will be the same. Calgary by 10

Hamilton at Toronto: Another second half of a home-and-home, this one is for the championship of Lake Ontario. There was a championship of Lake Erie once, and some guy named Perry quarterbacked his side to the win. That was a long time ago, so it doesn't count. I don't know about Father Time catching anyone. Last I checked I'm older than he is. Cats don't care much about time as long as the food is available. Hamilton by 10

posted by Howard_T at 10:28 PM on September 08

Enter SportsFilter's NFL Pick 'Em Contest

(But what am I going to do with TWO footballs?)

I suggest buying a good pressure gauge and keeping it calibrated. Do not store the footballs in a freezer or in a hot place. I understand that rcade has hired an investigator to periodically visit you and check the pressure.

posted by Howard_T at 01:47 PM on September 08

Tim Tebow Signs Minor League Contract with Mets

Will Tebow kneel at the plate after he makes solid contact and drives one to the wall on a hop? I can see it now. Tebow is thrown out at first because he took so long to begin running. To be serious, his chances of getting past AA, if he even can get that far, are very slim.

posted by Howard_T at 01:44 PM on September 08

Enter SportsFilter's NFL Pick 'Em Contest

I assume we are picking straight up and letting our point predictions prevail rather than the betting spread. Here are my picks:

Carolina by 3
Tampa Bay by 6
Minnesota by 7
Philadelphia by 10
Cincinnati by 16 LOCK
New Orleans by 9
Kansas City by 12
Baltimore by 4
Houston by 15 LOCK
Green Bay by 10
Seattle by 14 LOCK
Dallas by 3
Indianapolis by 14
Arizona by 6
Pittsburgh by 7
Los Angeles by 10

3 locks. I learned an expression watching tennis this week. "Sydney or the bush" It applies here.

To echo NoMich's comment above, I will send you my mailing address via e-mail to collect my ill-gotten award for the regular season NBA Pick 'em. Many thanks.

posted by Howard_T at 10:27 PM on September 07

Tha Art of Coarse Cricket

Knowing just about enough of cricket to understand half of what I read, I found there were some parts of it that applied to some of my experiences in baseball. The comments about umpiring were particularly interesting. One tries his best to be absolutely impartial, but you know that every game will bring some share of controversy. I guess judging LBW or wides is akin to trying to judge the low, outside corner off of a pitcher's glove side. I guarantee that even the best at the MLB level has some occasional difficulty with this. When you make an obviously bad call, just smile, admit, and move on. I guess this is not so easy when you are involved in the game as well. Anyway, thanks for a few minutes of chuckles, owlhouse.

posted by Howard_T at 04:09 PM on September 05

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

My wife works with autistic kids of kindregarten ad first grade age, and one of the things she and her colleagues try to do is to get the "typical" kids in the class working together with the autistic kids. While all of her students are categorized as "high functioning", being a part of a group seems to help with their eventual social development as they grow older. Travis Rudolph's gesture appears to be leading to some recognition that autistic kids are not "retarded", but might just be some of the best in your class.

posted by Howard_T at 04:27 PM on September 01

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Eleven

Labor Day weekend approaches, but to us of the permanent leisure class (that is, retired bums) it is of no consequence. Well, my wife the educator does have a 4-day weekend (Friday and Monday off), so yours truly will have to do something extraordinary in the kitchen. Having been spoiled by the excellent seafood available in Nova Scotia (Digby scallops are without peer), It might be difficult to do anything with fish. Perhaps some nice grilled lamb will work. In the meantime I will put my skills to work on the selections for this week.

BC at Toronto: The Lions seem to have discovered their pride (pun definitely intended and no apologies offered), and they are playing well. Perhaps the Argos will be their toughest test to date. They will pass the test, but not without some difficulty. BC by 3

Ottawa at Montreal: Ottawa came close to pulling off a nice win against BC after trailing. In the meantime Alouettes' performance has been as checkered as the Redblacks favorite shirts. This one could see a lot of points put on the board. Ottawa by 14

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: Success continues for the Blue Bombers this season. They will achieve even more against those whose name honors the 26th President of the United States. Winnipeg by 6

Edmonton at Calgary: Can the Eskimos avoid being trampled by the Stampeders? This rivalry is as good as Boston - New York, LA - San Francisco, or any of the other great ones. (Maybe not York vs Lancaster, that one got nasty). The geographical separation is not great, the economic drivers are quite different (oil vs cattle an wheat), and the 2 cities could develop a real mutual dislike. This one will be a lot of fun, regardless of outcome. Edmonton by 3

Toronto at Hamilton: What? You again? Didn't I just pick against you already? Do you really think you will do any better this time? Tiger Cats have put its early season problems behind. Hamilton by 11

posted by Howard_T at 04:17 PM on September 01

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Why do balls hit in Rogers Centre sound so different

The answer is obvious. Everything in Canada has to be in two languages, French and English. In order to comply with this regulation the sound system must be modified. Thus, what you hear is a combination of "coup sur baton" and "crack of the bat". This is not easy, so the sound is quite different in Canada. The sound system for the Montreal Expos had the same problem, except it tended more to the French language, while the system in Toronto tends toward the English.

posted by Howard_T at 04:28 PM on August 29

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Ten

Now, where were we when we last checked in? Oh yes, I had just finished with dinner, it was trash night, the dishes needed to be done, and I had to clean and cover the grill. No time for football pick 'ems. So to continue the saga:

Winnipeg at Montreal: Little Larks will fly higher than the Bombers, and Winnipeg will indeed be Blue. Montreal by 8

Saskatchewan at Edmonton: Rough Riders are indeed in for a rough ride. Eskimos run them over with the dog sled. Remember, only the lead dog gets to see a change in scenery. Edmonton by 17

Hamilton at Calgary: It is not possible to make cats stampede, or make any other fast moves, unless they are in the mood. Tiger Cats are no exception. They will not be stampeded, but they will move quickly on the field. Hamilton by 11

posted by Howard_T at 05:22 PM on August 26

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Ten

OK, have to do this quickly. Game's about to start.

BC at Ottawa: Lions don't look good in red or black, but Ottawa won't make them wear anything. BC by 12.

posted by Howard_T at 07:38 PM on August 25

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The first wave of American water sports enthusiasts...

My wife and I returned Monday from 3 weeks in Canada. When I heard the initial report on TV of a border incident, I thought they were talking about us. They weren't, we managed to escape without incident. I found it disturbing that the Canadians set up a camp to hold the rafters. Concentration camps at the border? Terrible! If I decide to emigrate to Canada, I will have no problem finding a sponsor. I found that I have dozens of relatives scattered throughout Digby Neck and the Islands, Nova Scotia, all descendants of the United Empire Loyalists that fled the US in 1783 after the Revolution.

posted by Howard_T at 02:17 PM on August 24

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Nine

I'm sitting in the public library in Westport, NS, because it is the only place on the Island that has decent WiFi. Internet service is spotty at best, and one of the best spots is in the cemetery where my ancestors are buried. Too scary for me. Speaking of ghosts, I haven't the ghost of a chance of winning this thing, but I will continue to haunt the contest.

I'm helping my wife trace genealogy, so I have not much time for banter. Here are my shots for the week:

Montreal at Ottawa: I've seen more Redblack logos than Allouette logos in my travels in Nova Scotia. Ottawa by 8

Calgary at BC: There seem to be more British Columbia residents than Alberta residents touring Nova Scotia this year, but we had a nice talk with a honeymooning couple from Alberta while attending a Celtic Fiddle concert on Cape Breton Island. Calgary by 5

Edmonton at Toronto: No entrails to divine on this one, although the B&B we are staying at is a working farm. Lots of chickens, rabbits, some sheep and alpacas, and a miniature horse. The lady that runs the farm is a well-known hooker*. I'll go with the Eskimos just because nothing gives me any hints. Edmonton by 11

Saskatchewan at Hamilton: Since one of my uncles was at one time the Superintendent of Schools for the Province of Sasketchewan, I have to lean in that direction. Saskatchewan by 2

*Get your minds out of the gutter, boys and girls. Our hostess is well-known for her hooking of rugs and tapestries.

posted by Howard_T at 03:44 PM on August 19

WGN Anchor Goes on Epic Rant About Rules for Covering Olympics

I'm sitting in Canada now, reading the sports news on the Boston Globe website, and I tried to view a video clip that had been linked in one article. Up comes a video clip from NBC, and before anything will play the screen goes to black with white lettering that says, "This content is not available in your country". Now I suppose I could go looking through Canadian sources, but the likelihood of finding video clips of Ali Raisman in gymnastics or Nate Ebner in rugby 7s is not great. Come on, guys, I'm from Boston. Give me a break!

posted by Howard_T at 09:43 PM on August 11

Longtime ESPN Broadcaster John Saunders Dies

He was one of the few on ESPN who could be called fully professional in his work. R. I. P. John Saunders.

posted by Howard_T at 08:41 PM on August 10

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Eight

Greetings from Halifax, NS. Wife and I are here after driving from NH through Maine and New Brunswick, along the Northumberland Coast of Nova Scotia, and spending 4 wonderful days on Cape Breton Island. If you've never been to Cape Breton Island, make it a point to go. The place is beautiful and it has a unique culture. The road signs are in 2 languages. No, not the English ad French you might expect in Canada, but in English and Gaelic. I have now acquired a taste for Celtic fiddle music. The place we stayed did not offer TV in its rooms, and the TV in the lounge was not working. My only news of any type has come via the internet, and when mobile 'phone service is as spotty as it is in the less traveled parts of Nova Scotia, it is easy to lose track of what is going on.

Speaking of travels, which of the visiting teams might have a chance this week? It's time to pick the winners.

Montreal at Edmonton: The little larks fly to meet the Eskimos. They are not worn out by the long trip. Montreal by 7

Winnipeg at Toronto: I think the Blue Bombers surprised even themselves after the downpour last week. Their trip east will provide a reality check. Toronto by 9

Calgary at Saskatchewan: The Riders will not get run down by the Stampede. Another visitor is able to do well on the road. Calgary by 16

Hamilton at BC: My 3 cats rarely fight, especially the 2 males. Once in a while the female - much smaller than either of the other 2 - will decide that the boys need to be taught some manners. This usually results in a good slap or 2, some yowling, and then it's time for them to make up. The cat fight in BC will not be as friendly. Tigercats will claw and scratch, but the Lions will rule the litter box. BC by 10

posted by Howard_T at 08:50 PM on August 09

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Seven

My wife and I sit this evening in the Land of 110-Yard Football. Our pilgrimage to my father's native land started yesterday, and tonight we are in St. John, NB. I doubt that being on Canadian soil will improve my predictive abilities, but we shall see.

Hamilton at Winnipeg: This one says that the Blue Bombers should be left with flesh shredded by the claws of the Tiger Cats, and clumps of used kitty litter in their mouth. I agree with that. Hamilton by 17.

BC at Montreal: The little birds managed to get their hackles up against Roughriders last week, but can they do the same against some big cats? It is too much to expect. BC by 11.

Saskatchewan at Calgary: Speaking of those who ride unevenly, they now travel to face a group of runaway quadrupeds. Calgary should win easily, but will more likely have to hang on by their fingernails. Calgary by 4.

Edmonton at Ottawa: The stereotypical image of the Eskimo, at least among those of us who watch too many old travelogues about the Arctic, is a man in some sort of heavy parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is not an image of someone wearing a red and black checked shirt. Eskimos will not be comfortable in checked shirt territory. Ottawa by 8.

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on August 02

NBA Players Assocation votes unanimously to fund health insurance for retired players

The article does not say whether or not the NBA is providing any funding to support the plan. If they are not, then it is strictly an NBPA function. This is similar to what many, if not most, unions provide for their members. My wife's health insurance is through the Teachers' Union, for example. If the league itself has no responsibility for the plan, then comparing the NBA players action to whatever the NFL as a league does is not valid. I would suggest the NFLPA set up its own retiree health insurance plan and hold the owners up for as large a contribution to the plan as they can get.

posted by Howard_T at 03:31 PM on July 29

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Six

To whom it may concern:

I am not now, nor have I ever been, ic23b or bender. I do not aspire to be either. If ic23b and bender wish to be me (and I'm sure it is among their most deeply held desires), they must ask me nicely. I will probably refuse, but I will definitely feel more favorably disposed to them. In the meantime, Dr. John, I ask that you immediately cease and desist from the identity theft which you apparently are promoting. My legal counsel, the firm Garron, Brom, and Cree, tells me that you could be in serious trouble. Of course I pay them off in kitty treats and catnip, so all they usually tell me is "meow".

Enough of a nonsensical rant. On with the picks.

Winnipeg at Edmonton: This one is for bragging rights between Alberta and Manitoba. This New Englander does not know if there is anything worth bragging about in either province. Well, there is oil in the tar sands of Alberta, that's not bad. Reason enough to pick Edmonton by 11

Saskatchewan at Montreal: The Rough Riders (were they really named after Teddy Roosevelt's cavalry regiment?) come to the big city. There they will be attacked by a flock of little birds. Sometimes the least of creatures will overcome the greater. Montreal by 6

British Columbia at Calgary: BC is in Canada because the US decided that "54-40 or Fight" was really a lousy slogan for a war. Canada (actually, still an English colony at the time), in the meantime, wanted to slide the border down to the Columbia River. The 49th parallel was the compromise, mainly because it is easier to score 49 than 54. BC Lions go to the city whose name either means "Cold Garden", "Clear Running Water", or "Bay Farm". If you can't figure that out, how do you expect to win a football game? Somehow they do, and the invading Lions are tamed. Calgary by 9

Toronto at Ottawa: The sailors of myth look for a golden fleece in the National Capitol. They might find it, but it will be a piece of red and black checked wool. Ottawa by 17

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on July 28

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Five

Oh well, another Thursday goes by without my remembering to make my picks. My excuse this time was that I spent most of the day writing my feedback on the performance of our church and its clergy during the past year. We do this every year and use the results at our annual Vestry Retreat to address things that might not be going quite right or need some improvement. It keeps us on the right track. There's a lot more to running a fairly large Episcopal parish than most realize.

Now for the picks:

The Rouge et Noir take on the Roughriders in their own corral. I cannot see the horse abusers doing much to the checkered shirt guys. Ottawa by 12

Tigercats take on Eskimos this week. All I can say is that they aren't the Hamilton Snow Leopards. Edmonton by 8

The two big cities of the east clash beside the lake. Little Larks and the mythical sailors both have suffered adversity, but Montreal looks like the poorer team. Toronto by 14

posted by Howard_T at 06:05 PM on July 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Former NFL coach Dennis Green dies at 67

I wonder if, upon his admission through the Pearly Gates, Dennis Green turned to St. Peter and said, "It is what I thought it was."

Saw a bit of the ESPN item on Sports Center, and his impact upon increasing the number of black coaches in the NFL was significant. It is one of the things I did not know about Green. It is something that ought to be more widely known.

posted by Howard_T at 05:49 PM on July 22

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Four

There are lessons to be learned here. The first one is to pay attention to the schedule and not wait until Friday morning to make your picks for Wednesday and Thursday. The second is that I know about as much about Canadian Football as I know about how to build an array using ADA. In other words, I know it exists, I know its uses, but anything beyond that is total mystery. So here goes:

Tiger Cats claw their way to a win, although the little lark tries to escape. Hamilton by 6

Cats rule this week. Around my house they rule every day, but that's another story. Lions' ride is not rough. BC by 13

posted by Howard_T at 01:51 PM on July 15

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

There should be a very, very small number of times when "committing a foul" or "drawing a penalty" is in any way advantageous to the team/player that's doing it

When the players your opponent has on the floor each is able to hit a good percentage of their free throws (let's throw 70% as a benchmark), any advantage the fouling team gains is slight. The team being fouled yields the advantage by playing those whose free throw shooting is below par. Playing the game well, at least well enough in one area to deny an advantage, makes rule changes unnecessary.

posted by Howard_T at 06:35 PM on July 14

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

"The League of Extraordinary Bartolo's" Against any common sense, I read this thing from end to end. Amazing! I can somehow in my mind shrink myself into an atom-sized being and creep inside the processor of amazinavenue's computer. I can see the bits, bytes, and words struggling to align themselves into a result for each game. I can see the processor beginning to glow red just before it explodes, spewing images of Bartolo Colon all over the keyboard. Disaster! But oh what fun.

posted by Howard_T at 06:27 PM on July 14

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The NBA's ineffectual anti-hacking rule

I was watching the Las Vegas Summer League (Dallas vs Milwaukee), and Mark Cuban was being interviewed by the play-by-play and analyst. One of the topics was the rule. Cuban's take was for teams not to play someone who can't hit free throws, or for players learn to make free throws. My humble (well, maybe a little humble) opinion is that free throw shooting is an NBA skill. If you don't have it, your team should suffer the consequences.

posted by Howard_T at 12:11 AM on July 14

Tim Duncan announces retirement

It somehow fits the Tim Duncan image that he chose to walk away quietly rather than become the centerpiece of a gaudy farewell tour. Having said that, I would make it a point to be at his final appearance in Boston so I could show my appreciation for what he has done in his career. Oh what might have been -- stinkin' ping pong balls anyway.

posted by Howard_T at 03:15 PM on July 11

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

My 1/8 Portuguese ancestry leaves me very satisfied with the outcome. I cannot help but believe the extra day of rest might have had a bearing on the outcome in extra time, but then France had more than a few chances to win it in regulation. Many will argue that Portugal did not deserve to make it out of the group stage, let alone into the final, but you play to your strength. Soccer is perhaps the only game in which the saying 'you play to win the game' is not completely valid. Much more accurate is to say'you play to give your team the best chance of improving its position in the standings, and ultimately its best chance to win the game in the knock out stage'. Don't fault Portugal for doing exactly what was necessary.

posted by Howard_T at 05:44 PM on July 10

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Three

Realized I hadn't done the pick 'em until I checked the TV schedule and saw it was on ESPN. Oh well, I would have taken Hamilton anyway. Here are the quickies for the rest of the schedule.

BC by 6. They are home, after all.

Ottawa by 11. No reason,just policy.

Edmonton by 4. It's easier to spell than Saskatchewan.

posted by Howard_T at 10:11 PM on July 07

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Nice write-up, grum. My wife, myself, and our (then) 11-year-old son sat through 19 innings in Seattle vs Boston in 2000. After about the 11th inning or so, we decided that we were going to stay no matter how long it went. I won't say it was fun (Boston lost) but it was memorable.

He throws his first warm up pitch over the catcher and to the back stop.

Yankees many years ago had a reliever named Ryne Duren who wore rather thick glasses. He had an excellent fast ball (this in the days before the Juggs gun, so nobody really knew how hard he threw) and a reputation for being a bit wild. Often upon being summoned from the bullpen, he would start his warmups from the mound by throwing a heater over the catcher's mitt to the backstop. More than a few hitters were looking to the dugout to see who could pinch hit. He did it on purpose, and few batters would dig in after he threw one a bit inside.

posted by Howard_T at 09:01 PM on July 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Two

We're here in the White Mountains of NH on my wife's annual "decompression" trip, something she badly needs after a year of working with special needs kids in a public school kindergarten class. Any time I feel like I have it bad I just listen to her go on about a day in her classroom. It's no fun at all. Time for some predictions.

Once again last week I found myself undone by picking against Ottawa. Why do I do this? OK, I will change it up. Don't make me regret this, RedBlacks. Ottawa by 3.

Argonauts got schooled by Hamilton last week. I doubt Saskatchewan can do this, but are they all that bad? Maybe they are, and maybe Toronto needed another week to get going. Toronto by 6.

It's a cat fight in Hamilton, but the Tiger Cats are in their own litter box. The Lions might be big and strong, but Tiger cats know how to fight too. Hamilton by 17.

Stampeders were close against BC last week, and only a late TD kept Bombers in the game against Montreal (and kept me from hitting the spread exactly). Thus, I do not look favorably upon Winnipeg. Calgary by 9.

posted by Howard_T at 02:01 PM on June 29

Legendary University of Tennessee Basketball Coach Pat Summitt passes away at age 64.

Hers was a life to be emulated. Rest in peace, MS Summitt.

posted by Howard_T at 10:20 PM on June 28

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The "Mouse that Roared" did a bit more than that. Mouse Iceland has just taken a major bite out of the English Lion 2-1 in the Euros. I saw only the last 15 minutes or so, and the commentators were all over the English side for the ineptitude they were demonstrating. One comment was made during the tennis from Wimbledon that should England lose, they should not even bother to come home. For the "little guy" to knock off one of the giants is significant. Now if they can do the same to France, it will probably cause the earth to tilt on its axis.

posted by Howard_T at 05:00 PM on June 27

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I was at TD Garden last night for the Celtics' Draft Party. Fan reaction to the picks was anything but pleasant. One of the high-paid keyboard operators who pass themselves off as reporters opined this morning that the reason for preferring someone other than Jaylen Brown with pick #3 was familiarity rather than likelihood of NBA success. Actually, not a bad analysis. After the selections of Yabusele from France and Zizic from Croatia, I heard one unhappy soul remark that at least they could have tried to draft someone whose name he could pronounce. After the 3rd Celtics' selection of the first round, the place emptied faster than the free beer cooler at the office picnic. Celtics' owner Wyk Grousbeck said that the fans' negative reaction showed that they cared. Well, we do, and I think those fans who understand the game and reject the hype from the talking heads are willing to wait the year or 2 or 3 that it will take to see the results.

The party itself wasn't bad, but there weren't enough concession stands open, and the only beer available was Coors Light, Miller Light or Bud Light. Almost enough to gag a maggot. Still, it was nice to see some of the people who have seats near your own and to chat with those to whom the Celtics mean a lot.

posted by Howard_T at 06:03 PM on June 24

The 12th Annual chicobangs Memorial SpoFi CFL Pick 'Em

With all of the things going on in sports - Copa America, the Euros, NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB - the CFL season sort of snuck up on all of us on the south side of the border. I am really happy that the Chico Bangs has served to remind me that it is time once again to test my profound lack of knowledge about all things football - Canadian style that is. I will spend the tail end of July and most of August touring Nova Scotia with my wife, learning about my dad's birthplace of Westport, meeting some cousins that might still be around the area, and making sure there were no ancestors that were hanged as horse thieves. Added benefit will be the ability to watch a few of the games on TSN whenever we are not sampling the wines of the Annapolis Valley or some of the microbrews that are available. Bring it on, guys, game on!

Hamilton at Toronto: Tiger Cats' secondary is dealing with some injuries, but Ricky Ray might still be chipping off some rust after his injury last year. Rust will not be an issue. Toronto by 10.

Montreal at Winnipeg: Alouettes bring what they believe to be a stout defense to oppose the Blue Bombers. The Bombers' Andrew Harris might not play due to injury. This brings to mind the RAF's WW2 leader Bomber Harris who believed that Germany cold be bombed into submission. It still took a lot of infantry, armor, and artillery to do the job. Bombers won't fly. Montreal by 16.

Ottawa at Edmonton: I spent most of last season underrating Ottawa, and it cost me in the standings. Now they travel to the Grey Cup winners who have had to replace their coaching staff. Last I looked, a coach has yet to take a snap during a game. It's all up to the players. Edmonton by 17.

Calgary at BC: Stampeders had a fine season last year, while BC sort of "got along". Stampeders might have lost some of their offensive prowess while BC has tried to make improvements. Both of these teams could challenge for the top. This one is an early season coin flip. BC by 5.

posted by Howard_T at 12:44 AM on June 23

SpoFi NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Results

I'm rather surprised that I finished as well as I did. Before the finals I fully expected to have an outside shot at the Costanza. Thanks for running this, Ufez, these things are always fun. I guess I have a little of the Warriors in me, having torn up the regular season pick 'em and then doing poorly in the playoffs. I blame too much time on the baseball field, but it was more like too little time doing my homework.

posted by Howard_T at 11:51 PM on June 22

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

If this is a harbinger of things to come, Carson Wentz is in for a strange career.

posted by Howard_T at 03:54 PM on June 16

"Mr. Hockey", Gordie Howe, has passed away at age 88.

I saw him play in person just once at a game vs Rangers in Madison Square Garden. It was sometime in 1967, probably late in the season. I don't remember a thing about the game, but I certainly remember marveling at his many accomplishments. My brother-in-law, Bob, was once at some sort of business gathering where Howe was the guest speaker. Bob told of how he rose from his seat to do one thing or another and bumped into Howe as he was walking past. Bob said he thought he had collided with a concrete wall. There was nothing soft about Gordie Howe.

RIP Number 9.

posted by Howard_T at 06:08 PM on June 10

SpoFi NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Finals Edition

Cleveland in 7

LeBron James is the MVP

Largest margin of victory 18 points

Highest combined score (single game) 217 points

Total 3-point goals 86

My ever unreliable gut instincts tell me that a healthy Cleveland team will have enough to win this series. The most interesting statistic I have heard is that Cleveland has made more 3-pointers than Golden State in the playoffs this year. It promises to be a fun series.

posted by Howard_T at 10:54 PM on June 01

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em: Stanley Cup Round

...and as Howard sinks slowly in the standings...

San Jose in 7 (thus saving at least one line feed)

Longest game will require 1 OT period (and not much of that with these 2 clubs)

First goal by Marleau

Conn Smythe Trophy goes to Jones (Goaltenders seem to win this quite often)

Most goals scored by Pavelski

Most assists by Thornton

Best +/- Vlasic

Most PIM Wingels

Best save % Jones (Which leads to the choice of Conn Smythe winner)

Total goals in the series will be 67 (and if I were betting, I'd take the "over")

Everything should be plural.

Which sorely tempts me to enter the above once more.

posted by Howard_T at 02:28 PM on May 30

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

How are you going to keep Trey Gowdy from finding out about it?

It will be placed in the bathroom. The periodic presence of noxious odors will serve as its physical security.

posted by Howard_T at 01:02 PM on May 26

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

"Like a Beautiful Swan" An NFL star prepares for a possible career after he leaves the game. He's surprisingly graceful for a man his size.

posted by Howard_T at 02:19 PM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

the difference between Bautista's slide into Odor, and this slide into a short stop three weeks ago

Looking at it from the viewpoint of an umpire, there are a number of differences. First of all, Bautista went into a sort of rolling block as opposed to a straight slide. The slide in the linked video is the sort taught by youth coaches everywhere, that is with one leg tucked, the other extended toward the base, and the head up. Bautista went past the base and did not even attempt to reach back for the bag. The slide in the video shows the player sliding past the bag, but he reached for the bag and held it as he stopped. In short, the video shows a baseball slide, while Bautista showed a bad take out attempt.

Now, since the legality of the slide is a judgement call, anybody who argues with me will be ejected from this discussion!!! (only kidding, but rules are rules)

posted by Howard_T at 12:27 AM on May 18

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

The second base umpire called the double-play (because of Bautista's slide) almost instantly.

This was as close to an automatic call for interference and a double play as possible. Bautista started his slide late, it was more of a rolling block than a conventional slide, and the thing that sold the umpire was that the slide went past the bag. No doubt on that call.

posted by Howard_T at 10:00 PM on May 16

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Conference Finals

Howard: what about the player with the highest points, rebounds, and assists?

Wow, I missed that one like I missed a couple of calls on the bases today. (My partner got both of them for me, so nobody noticed.)

The Mister Offense Award (Average points, rebounds, assists): Russell Westbrook

posted by Howard_T at 09:53 PM on May 16

Manchester United Match Cancelled by Bomb Scare

From the reports, the evacuation of the stadium was remarkable for its orderliness and speed. I heard one comment that it was almost the perfect emergency drill, except it was not a drill. Contrast this with at least one incident in the US when training devices were allowed through airport security during tests. It makes one think a bit.

My comment on the use of "native" terms used in various sports that are not commonly used in American English commentary is this: If the comment is being used appropriately, there's no complaint from this set of ears. If an announcer is deliberately using the term as an affectation, then I will likely tune that announcer out. The term "kit" is a long-standing British usage for military uniforms, including equipment, that has been brought into sports, I have no objection to it, although some announcers here in the US seem to overuse it. I would never call my uniform and protective equipment for umpiring baseball a "kit", although it perfectly fits the British definition of such. The term "jersey" is appropriate for most sports, but in ice hockey it is properly referred to as a "sweater", at least by this son of a Canadian father.

posted by Howard_T at 10:43 PM on May 15

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Conference Finals

Howard, is there an NHL-style President's Trophy curse hitting you this playoff pick-'em season?

That very well might be the case. I think the biggest factor is that I am not spending as much time looking at matchups, injuries, and the like. New Hampshire is terribly short of baseball umpires this year, and I have been on the field nearly every afternoon. I have to get all of my chores done in the morning, get to the games early, drive home, and then get dinner ready. By the time I'm done, I have just about enough time to check my e-mail, read the sports news, check SpoFi, and get some sleep. The good news is that I have had to work alone only twice this year, and the coaches were great about not giving me too much grief about tight calls on the bases. There are only about 2 or 3 weeks left in the season, and after this week most of that is tournaments, so the workload will ease up soon.

So now we look at the conference finals:

Toronto had to scramble in both of their series so far, but they seemed to get a bit stronger against Miami as the series went on. It still won't be enough to beat Cleveland. Golden State has too many weapons for Oklahoma City, but the Thunder have suddenly figured out how to close out a game. Could be a fun set of finals.

Cleveland in 6

Golden State in 7

Blocks: Serge Ibaka

Steals: Kyle Lowry

Fouls: Draymond Green

Free throws: DeMar DeRozan

posted by Howard_T at 10:20 PM on May 15

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 3

Too much to do today. Didn't hit the computer until after 9:00 tonight. Had to cut the lawn before it rained, grocery shopping for the week, and had to umpire a double header this afternoon. After the games my wife and I headed to our favorite Mexican joint for dinner. This retirement crap doesn't leave you with a lot of time to do the really necessary things like pick 'ems. I will pass on the Tampa vs Pittsburgh series, but will go with the rest.

San Jose in 7

Goal Scorer: Logan Couture

Save Percentage: Martin Jones

Power Play Percentage: San Jose

Most Penalized: Alexander Steen

Most Goals (team): San Jose

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 AM on May 14

SpoFi NBA Pick 'Em Round 2.

As I start to type this, Toronto is up by 5 with 6.5 seconds left and Indiana with the ball. I think I am safe in predicting the Toronto vs Miami series.

Miami in 6 Toronto struggled mightily against a fair Pacers team. Miami will pull the upset.

posted by Howard_T at 10:34 PM on May 01

SpoFi NBA Pick 'Em Round 2.

Here are mine from yesterday's huddle.

Golden State in 7 Don't be surprised at an upset here.
San Antonio in 7 Same situation here, but it won't really be that much of an upset
Cleveland in 5 Atlanta actually played some decent defense against Boston. Could get 1 win vs Cavs.

Miami, Toronto, Charlotte, Indiana??? Pacers have surprised, Charlotte has played slightly above expectations, and Miami has finally found the combinations that work. Toronto has looked a bit disorganized at best.


Adding the bonus picks here:

Disagreeable person (technical foul): C. J. McCollum (Talk about an off-the-wall pick.)
He who shoots from far away (3-point shooter): Damian Lillard (Wins the duel with Klay Thompson)

See you tomorrow with the Miami vs ??? pick.

posted by Howard_T at 05:09 PM on May 01

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Making my picks for the SpoFi basketball contest, as I'm not sure I'll be around later today:

Me too. I'm helping my kid move his stuff to another apartment.

Golden State in 7 Don't be surprised at an upset here.
San Antonio in 7 Same situation here, but it won't really be that much of an upset
Cleveland in 5 Atlanta actually played some decent defense against Boston. Could get 1 win vs Cavs.

Miami, Toronto, Charlotte, Indiana??? Pacers have surprised, Charlotte has played slightly above expectations, and Miami has finally found the combinations that work. Toronto has looked a bit disorganized at best.

posted by Howard_T at 10:18 AM on April 30

NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 2

This stupid game with a rubber disc is strange. The one with the big brown ball is easier to pick.

Tampa Bay in 5
Washington in 5
Dallas in 6
San Jose in 6 No need to change this one. It will hold no matter the opponent.

Top goal scorer: Ovechkin (Sooner or later he will break loose.)
Save %: Holtby
Power play percentage: Washington
Most goals per game: Dallas

posted by Howard_T at 04:03 PM on April 27

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

crazy stuff in MLB update

It must be something in the air, because Boston had to go 12 to beat Houston last night. After Boston went ahead by 2 in the 3rd, there was no further scoring -- until a Carlos Correa double and a Colby Rasmus home run off of closer Craig Kimbrell tied it in the bottom of the 9th. Heath Hembree pitched 3 scoreless for the win. Boston scored the winning runs with a pair of lead-off singles and a sacrifice bunt. This was followed by a 13-pitch walk to Ryan Hanigan that loaded the bases, and an RBI single by Jackie Bradley, Jr. A force play at the plate made it 2 out, but Hanigan scored on a wild pitch by losing pitcher Ken Giles, giving Boston an insurance run. A pair of strikeouts with 2 on ended it.

My wife and I got home from the Celtics game quite late (Boston's ever reliable untrustworthy MBTA plays a role here), so I turned on the TV to get the scores. Lo and behold, the game was still going, so I had to stay up until the end.

posted by Howard_T at 12:38 PM on April 25