Recent Comments by Howard_T

College Football Belt Backlog

I find the geographical location of the belt holders as the years progressed to be quite interesting. Naturally enough it starts with the Northeast, and then shifts to the Midwest at the end of WW I. There was a brief return to the Northeast in the late 1940s to early 1950s, fueled somewhat by the service academies, and then the shift to the Southeast, Southwest and West Coast began. There were a couple of brief Midwest trips in the late 1960s, but for the most part the belt remains in the warmer climes. Were my mapping and computer skills up to the task, a sort of "The Route of the Belt" presentation would be very nice.

Great work, Etrigan.

posted by Howard_T at 11:49 AM on November 26

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 12: Inadvertent Whistle Edition

How did Thursday morning get here so fast? I did my pie baking yesterday, son and his S O stayed here last night and made breakfast for us this morning, going to S O's parents house for dinner, and life is good! Time to talk turkey with the picks.

Detroit by 7
Carolina by 10
Green Bay by 3
Kansas City by 11
Indianapolis by 12
Jacksonville by 6
New York (American Conference) by 5
New York (National Conference) by 16
Oakland by 13
Cincinnati by 16 LOCK
Houston by 3
Minnesota by 6
Arizona by 15
Seattle by 10
Denver by 6 (and it pains me to have to do this)
Baltimore by 8

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I pray that you will be as blessed as I have been.

posted by Howard_T at 11:33 AM on November 26

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 5

Oh, there's injuries in Boston.

Thanks for the warning, nomich. I'm going to have to be more careful about the intelligence I use.

tron7, I stopped booing Kobe a year or 2 ago when my son and I were at a Lakers - Celtics game. LA was in the midst of a terrible season, the team for the most part had given up on playing, but Kobe gave it his level best while the Celtics were pounding his team into the parquet. That's when we both began to understand what Kobe had meant to his team and the league for so many years. I will be cheering, not booing him on the 30th.

posted by Howard_T at 05:05 PM on November 24

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

This morning in the locker room after my workout I was speaking with a guy who told me that his friend had attended the game and had tracked the time during which there was no on-field action due to commercial time out. In the first half alone, it amounted to some 39 minutes. If the NFL wants to slaughter the source of its golden eggs, this -- excessive stoppage of the action -- is the thing that could do it. In my case, it gave me lots of excuses to jump over the the Bruins vs Maple Leafs for updates on the score and to catch a bit of the action.

On the "inadvertent whistle", it looked like Rex Ryan was directly in front of the official and was jumping around and gesticulating wildly, thus obstructing the official's view of the play and causing the official to be watching Ryan to avoid being knocked down. True enough, there was a penalty assessed on the play because of Ryan's conduct, but the NFL ought to follow up with a heavy fine to discourage such behavior. Of course, the official never should have put the whistle in his mouth to start with. An umpiring friend of mine who also does ice hockey told me that one of the things he had been taught to do was never to put the whistle anywhere near his mouth until he was entirely sure that a call should be made. Better the whistle goes a fraction late than too early.

posted by Howard_T at 04:57 PM on November 24

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 5

Celtics lose Marcus Smart for a few weeks (Subluxation of the Proximal Tibial Fibular Joint, aka lower left leg injury), and C's perimeter defense does not look good against Brooklyn. In the meantime, LA Lakers continue to stumble their way through what has to be Kobe Bryant's farewell tour. Lakers' only appearance in Boston (Dec 30) is on my must see list, just to see Kobe one more time. In the meantime, here are the picks.

24 November
Atlanta by 11
Golden State by 17 with a large SLAM DUNK attached.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

posted by Howard_T at 05:16 PM on November 23

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I watched Bruins vs Maple Leafs last night on the telly. How dare you, Toronto, hire a coach who can turn around a locker room. Mike Babcock has the Leafs playing some pretty good hockey, and they no longer can be taken as an easy 2 points. There are holes to be sure, but the quality of play is solid, there is no "I'll get my points and forget about defense" attitude, and but for Tuukka Rask and a little bit of luck, they could have walked out of TD Garden with a couple of points. Have hope, Leafs fans; it will take time, but there is a start.

posted by Howard_T at 01:22 PM on November 22

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

presenting your UND Fighting Hawks.

Just wait until the PETA people get hold of this. "Fighting Hawks" creates images of illegal bird fighting. Another consideration is that most species of hawk migrate south for the winter, so the UND hockey teams will suffer for lack of a mascot. Sounds like a bad choice all along. A friend of mine worked for a while near Minot, ND. He claimed there was a girl behind every tree there.

posted by Howard_T at 08:21 PM on November 19

Bill Belichick Refuses to Be NFL's Fashion Model

Bill Belichick wanted to wear a suit and tie on the sideline, a la Tom Landry, Hank Stram, and other coaches of that era. The NFL told him that he had to wear "official: NFL team logo gear. In his own inimitable manner, Belichick went with the letter of the law, thus the Hoodie. It's just another way that he rubs the NFL's noses in it.

posted by Howard_T at 08:14 PM on November 19

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 11: Nobody Knows Anything Edition

Running late as usual on a Thursday night. Last week it paid off with the lock on Carolina. What will happen this week. I'm glad I was not the only one making funny noises with my finger on my lips after looking at last week's scores.

Jacksonville by 12
Chicago by 7
Tampa Bay by 14
Atlanta by 10
Miami by 3
New York (American Conference) by 4
Detroit by 6
Baltimore by 15
Carolina by 19 The LOCK factory in Charlotte is still working.
San Diego by 3
Seattle by 15
Minnesota by 14
Arizona by 13
New England by 3

posted by Howard_T at 08:07 PM on November 19

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

McHale was fired after a particularly bad loss to former teammate Danny Ainge's Celtics. As suggested by some, perhaps Kevin was being nice to Danny in hopes of getting a different job?

posted by Howard_T at 04:13 PM on November 18

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 4

18 November
New Orleans by 6
Chicago by 14

19 November
Cleveland by 19 SLAM DUNK
LA Clippers by 5

20 November
San Antonio by 12
Golden State by 15

posted by Howard_T at 04:10 PM on November 18

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Coughlin just has Belichek's number

Don't forget that Belichick was the NYG defensive coordinator when Coughlin had the offense. They know each other well, have their teams try to play the same way (physical, grinding football when possible), and both are very detailed in their preparation. It's not a surprise that the two teams have such close games.

posted by Howard_T at 05:15 PM on November 17

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Howard T is the only one I saw that got his with Carolina over Tennessee

Another sign of my pure genius (yeah, right). Too bad I missed the spread; it might have mitigated the near disaster of this week.

J J Watt says the "Red Rifle" became a Red Ryder BB Gun, and Andy Dalton cries that Watt lacks integrity. Integrity?

posted by Howard_T at 05:10 PM on November 17

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

some of the calls Ed Hochuli made during the game

At one point in the second half the TV cameras were on Belichick as he was quite heatedly engaging Hochuli in conversation. I don't know what was being said, but I did notice that the calls began to get a bit more even afterwards. I know that referees are supposedly immune to the diatribes that are often directed their way, but the coincidence causes some question in my mind.

posted by Howard_T at 03:06 PM on November 16

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

I turned to the Jets-Bills contest(?), and immediately did not know who was playing. I am actually red-green color blind, but not to the extent that I could not distinguish which team was which. (To this day I swear that there are no numbers hidden in those dots--a belief that might have cost me a full Navy ROTC ride to the college of my choice in 1958.) For a while I was afraid the Jets would disappear against the background of the grass.

The colors were such that I thought the whole thing was an early Christmas promotion. This would actually be a pretty good idea for a game around Christmas Day. It would need to be embellished a bit. I'm thinking the referee would dress in a red suit trimmed in white fur, black belt and boots, red tassel cap, and a full white beard. The rest of the officials would wear green leotards with short jackets. Pointy shoes for them would be a must. Other ornamentation would include using rope tinsel instead of a chain for the first down markers, throwing mistletoe instead of yellow flags for penalties. The offending players would be required to kiss an opposing player of the referee's choice (indicated by holding the mistletoe over the head of the player selected), with the alternative being ejection from the game. Reindeer, sleighs, and other artifacts of the secular, commercial holiday would be included.

posted by Howard_T at 09:33 PM on November 14

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 10: David Tyree Edition

What is there about Thursdays that gets me so busy that I have to race to get the picks done? Today was frantic; workout this morning, had to pick #1 Son up at the train station. He was returning from a business trip to NYC, and it meant about 2 1/2 hours of driving from NH to MA and back. Son has been in the new job (market researcher for the Business-to-Business Group at for a whole week, and they send him to a trade show to do some market research. Then I had a couple of minutes to sit down, but had to get going on dinner. I have about half an hour, so here goes.

New York (American Conference) by 12
St. Louis by 9
Pittsburgh by 10
Tampa Bay by 7
Philadelphia by 15
Green Bay by 17
Carolina by 22 and LOCK THIS UP
New Orleans by 8
Oakland by 10
Denver by 6
New England by 3
Seattle by 14
Cincinnati by 17

posted by Howard_T at 08:03 PM on November 12

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 3

Whoops, better get going on the picks. Would have been going to Celtics vs Pacers tonight, but in honor of Veterans' Day, the Cs encourage season ticket holders to donate them to military member. So I did, and will watch on the telly, saying a sincere thanks to those who served and especially those who gave all.

11 Nov

LA Clippers by 10
San Antonio by 15

12 Nov

Golden State by 18 Serve a SLAMBONI sandwich with this one.
Phoenix by 6 (second game of a back-to-back might work against the Clippers)

posted by Howard_T at 05:12 PM on November 11

CFL Pick 'Em, Final Standings

I greatly regret that I found it necessary to cease the selection process so early in the season. It came about by an inability to operate successfully beneath the salary cap and still make a profit. Oh, OK, pure BS. I found myself getting wrapped around the axle on Thursdays too often, and having to make the NFL picks did not help. Congratulations to jagsnumberone on his win, and to all who persevered throughout the season. Congratulations and thanks especially to Dr. John for putting this together. It's one of the things that makes SportsFilter special.

posted by Howard_T at 05:21 PM on November 10

NFL Pick 'Em, Week Nine: Blaine Gabbert Edition

Waiting for the oil burner repairman to come fix a leaking relief valve. Have about 6 other things that need to be done, but can't get to them unless I want to start swimming in my basement. Home ownership is such a wonderful thing. Time to entertain myself by making the picks.

Cincinnati by 18
Miami by 9
New York (American Conference) by 3
Carolina by 6
Pittsburgh by 11
Minnesota by 8
New England by 17
New Orleans by 19 LOCK IT UP
Atlanta by 12
New York (National Conference) by 7
Denver by 20
Philadelphia by 3
San Diego by 4

posted by Howard_T at 03:05 PM on November 05

Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Week 2

04 November
Cleveland by 15 rim rattlin', glass shatterin', wear a helmet in the paint SLAM DUNK
Golden State by 5

05 November
Chicago by 7
Portland by 6

06 November
Miami by 12
Sacramento by 4

posted by Howard_T at 05:56 PM on November 04

Titans Fire Ken Whisenhunt, Make Mike Mularkey Interim Coach

which 4-12 team would get home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Yippee, Parity!!! (NFL executives)

OH SHIT!!! (Fans)

posted by Howard_T at 05:50 PM on November 04

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

This is one creative guy who has a couple of really cute kids. I love the idea about SEC teams not understanding the idea of bias in the national media.

posted by Howard_T at 05:46 PM on November 04

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I'm watching KC vs Mets, and this one reinforces my belief that baseball can be the cruelest game. Harvey pitches his heart out for 8 innings, holding a 2-0 lead, and convinces the Mets' pitching coach and manager to let him start the 9th. Surely enough a walk, stolen base, and a RBI double by Hosmer make it a 2-1 game, and Harvey is coming out. The look on his face tells the story; it is one of pure disappointment, nearly that of a man in tears. Familia comes in to try to get out of the inning and secure the win. It is not to be. A ground out to the right side moves the runner to third with one out. The next batter hits a little squibbed roller to David Wright. Hosmer waits until Wright has committed to throw to first, and then takes off for the plate. The throw from first to the plate is wild, and we have a tie ball game. Now it is the Mets' manager to look like he is ready to burst into tears. The similarity between this World Series and game 6 of the 1986 World Series is eerie. The Red Sox were 1 strike away from their first championship in 68 years, but they could not finish. Buckner has forever been the goat, but the blame rightly belongs to a bullpen that could not get the last out.

The game is in the bottom of the 10th, and it could go either way, but the history of the Mets' bullpen in this series has been dismal. If the Mets are able to pull this game out and survive to go to Kansas City, some of the disappointment will be lifted, but seeing the obvious feelings of defeat of the Mets was heart rending.

posted by Howard_T at 11:37 PM on November 01

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Went to the Celtics' opener vs Philadelphia last night, and I must say the team takes care of its season ticket holders. They threw a pre-game cocktail party for some of us, with open bar, hors d'oeuvres, and a chance to meet some of the other season ticket members. Spent most of the cocktail hour knocking down a couple of Lagunitas IPAs and chatting with another long-time C's fan (he from 1957, me from 1952). We had lots of favorite memories to share.

The game was not bad for an opener. There were a lot of turnovers, shooting percentages were not real high, and there were a lot of rough spots. I attribute this to new personnel working into both teams. Give it 5 or 6 games, and the timing and movement will smooth out. Most are predicting 45 wins or thereabouts for Boston, but I believe they can exceed 50. It was pretty obvious last night that Celtics' bench is a lot better than most of the benches in the rest of the league. When the inevitable injuries happen, they should have the depth to carry on without too much of a reduction in quality. The bold prediction for the season is for them to finish around 4th or 5th in the East. We shall see.

posted by Howard_T at 02:52 PM on October 29

NFL Pick 'Em, Week Eight: Waitin' All Week for Sunday Night

Another week's worth from the inept one, otherwise known as Mr. "even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while". Note: My New England Calvinist sense of impending doom forbids me from making Patriots my lock. Fellow New Englanders, especially Red Sox fans, understand.

New England by 11
Kansas City by 14
St. Louis by 18 LOCK this one in the strongbox, sheriff.
Pittsburgh by 6
Atlanta by 14
Arizona by 16
Baltimore by 5
New Orleans by 7
Tennessee by 9
Minnesota by 10
Oakland by 3
Dallas by 4
Green Bay by 12
Carolina by 14

posted by Howard_T at 02:37 PM on October 29

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Our church had its annual Harvest Fest dinner and auction on Saturday. It's a fellowship and fund raising event that features good food, fun, and a chance to acquire some interesting stuff. One of the items was an autographed baseball signed by Ralph Branca and Bobby Thomson of "shot heard 'round the world" fame. I remember listening to the game on the radio in 1951; the game was broadcast nationwide. My mom was a Giants fan, why I do not know, and when Thompson hit the shot, she poured out 2 shots -- of 4 Roses whiskey -- one for each of us. I was 10-years-old, and I watched Mom take the shot straight down. Being a good child, I copied her with the expected result.

The high bid on the ball was by our former Youth Director's boyfriend, who is also a local umpire and a real fan. Our pastor is also an occasional umpire and an NCAA soccer referee. There was some good bidding on the ball between the three of us.

posted by Howard_T at 09:37 PM on October 26

Play SportsFilter's NBA Pick 'Em, Win Best Basketball Ever

Count me in, and here goes nothing:

10/27 - Cleveland by 12
10/27 - Golden State by 8
10/28 - Oklahoma City by 11
10/28 - Minnesota by 14
10/29 - Atlanta by 18
10/29 - LA Clippers by 15
10/30 - Cleveland by 12
10/30 - Houston by 9

One hint that might make it easier on you, rcade, is for us to preface the picks by the date of the game. Note that Golden State plays twice on TV during the week (as do others), and I have only picked them once. Were there no date specified, it might not be obvious in which game I was picking them.

posted by Howard_T at 09:19 PM on October 25

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

It was kind of fun this morning with the Bills - Jags game on my laptop and the Manchester Derby on the flat screen. Best part of it was that the audio on the laptop kept going, even while I did some other things. That meant that I could go back to Yahoo when the game got interesting, but I could still keep on surfing and watching Man U vs Man City.

posted by Howard_T at 09:09 PM on October 25

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

WI cricket's problems

When you have Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, and Guyana all involved, you are bound to have any number of problems. My 'Bajan and T&T cousins are always complaining about one thing or another that one of the other nations in the WI has done. How a group of really tiny nations with few resources can have the provincial attitudes of the West Indies is beyond me. I'm not aware of any corruption in the WI Cricket Board, but if the CONCACAF mess is any indicator, there is very likely to be some.

posted by Howard_T at 06:54 PM on October 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

The state of cricket in West Indies has Sir Garfield Sobers quite upset.

This was shared on Facebook by my cousin in Trinidad. His father was a pace bowler good enough to have played for Barbados.

posted by Howard_T at 10:39 PM on October 22

NFL Pick 'Em, Week Seven: Don't Snap It, Griff Edition

Time for the weekly exercise in complete ineptitude. I may fall asleep halfway through. Early wake up calls the last couple of days, and my workout this morning was somewhat more rigorous than usual. So now that I've pissed off all those who thought they had the spread on Patriots - Colts, and were not about to say a word to rcade, on we go.

Seattle by 12
Buffalo by 15
St. Louis by 14 This LOCK is bigger than Lock #25 at Winfield, MO.
Washington by 8
Atlanta by 15
New England by 3
Indianapolis by 4
Kansas City by 10
Miami by 12
Minnesota by 9
San Diego by 6
Dallas by 7
Carolina by 10
Arizona by 5

posted by Howard_T at 02:06 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

A female reporter in the Patriots' locker room in 1990 caused this brouhaha. Patriots owner at the time, Victor Kiam, referred to the reporter, Lisa Olson, as "a classic bitch", and later at a sports banquet made a joke about the incident, asking what the Iraqis and Lisa Olson had in common. The answer was that they had both seen Patriot missiles up close. Kiam later apologized, but Olson sued the team, Kiam, the players involved, and other Patriots' officials. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

The point is that the presence of female reporters in a male locker room has been the norm for a while. The presence of cameras while the players are changing seems to invite the unintentional televising of X-rated content. The female reporters will keep their gaze above shoulder level, and all will be well.

In my younger, drunker, stupider days, I practiced the technique of looking a stripper directly in the eyes, never letting my vision move to other areas of the lady. It drove them nuts.

posted by Howard_T at 11:00 PM on October 21

NFL Pick 'Em, Week Seven: Don't Snap It, Griff Edition

rcade, check your score on New England - Indianapolis. The final was 34-27, which I believe calculates to a 7-point spread. Applying the derivative of the Bessel Function might make it 13, but I think not. What I believe happened is that you turned your TV off with the score 34-21, before Colts scored what amounted to a garbage time TD.

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on October 21

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 6: Mike Tomlin/Tom Osborne Edition

Side tracked by a slow freight on Thursday night, I am now back on the main line, chugging resolutely toward the rest of the NFL schedule. I was close to making Atlanta my lock of the week, but I talked myself out of it. I argue well when the opposition is so simple-minded. Here are the picks.

Detroit by 4
Cincinnati by 9
Denver by 17
Arizona by 7
Kansas City by 12
Miami by 5
Washington by 8
Houston by 13
Seattle by 11
Green Bay by 10
Baltimore by 9
New England by 16 My LOCK because my Prayer Candles will make sure of it.
Philadelphia by 3

posted by Howard_T at 04:09 PM on October 17

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I did not watch the Jays-Rangers game last night -- Celtics pre-season and Bruins at Avalanche kept me busy -- and I'm sorry I missed it. My thoughts anyway, after reading the summaries in the sports pages.

On the missed call: The plate umpire got it wrong to start with, then must have realized that he might just have blown it. The important thing is that the umpires did get together and made it right. The elements that determined the outcome were whether or not the incorrect dead ball signal deterred any Toronto player from fielding the ball and being able to throw Odor out at the plate. Since I did not see the game, I have to say the signal had no bearing on the play. Odor did indeed continue running and crossed the plate, so that made awarding the run easy. Suppose Odor had pulled up at the dead ball signal. What might have happened? From all I have learned as an umpire, the run would have been awarded anyway, since it was an umpiring mistake that caused him to stop. The whole thing is one of those dreaded unwritten rules, but this one is for umpires. It is called the rule of equity, and basically calls for the umpires to place runners based on where they would have been had the umpire not erred.

On the bat throw: I would rather see this practice limited in some way. Yes, a player hitting a home run at such an important moment, or indeed at any time, should be able to show off to some extent. The problem with the prodigious bat throw is that once that bat is airborne, nobody really knows where it will wind up. Tossed toward the dugout? What if one of your team mates was running out of the dugout to congratulate you just as the bat descended on top of his head? Worse yet, what if the bat goes into the stands and clocks the 7-year-old in the third row? It's a dangerous practice, and needs to be put under control. In high school ball a bat throw for any reason will have you in the locker room.

posted by Howard_T at 08:56 PM on October 15

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 6: Mike Tomlin/Tom Osborne Edition

Let me get this one in first, then I will post the rest of my picks in a bit.

Atlanta by 11

Now to get to work on the rest of them.

posted by Howard_T at 08:21 PM on October 15

Chase Utley Safe at Second Without Touching Second

In high school baseball, it has long been the rule that a runner going into second base cannot be trying to take out the fielder. The call does not depend on any part of the runner's anatomy being able to reach the base; the path taken by the runner is the determining factor. The call is the runner called out for interference, the ball dead, and the batter-runner called out as a result of the interference. The umpiring mechanics call for the field umpire to make the safe/out call at the base and turn to follow the ball to first while the plate umpire continues to watch the play at second. This allows the plate umpire to make a call even after the ball is thrown. It is more of a safety rule than for any other reason.

Making it mandatory for a runner to be at least on the ground before contact with the fielder makes sense. Perhaps a 3-foot rule, that is requiring the runner to be no further than 3 feet from the bag at his closest proximity,or about as far as the arm can reach, would work.

posted by Howard_T at 04:15 PM on October 12

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Tonight's NLDS game between the Cubs and the Cardinals featured a pitching match up of John Lester vs John Lackey, and the game turned out to be a beauty of a pitcher's duel - at least for 8 innings. I can hear Bob Lobel (Boston sports fans over the age of 30 will understand) as he says, "Why can't we ever get players like these?"

posted by Howard_T at 10:22 PM on October 09

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 5: Batted Ball Edition

I promise I will not use my extensive insider information to correctly pick all games this week. It would not be fair (nor very likely, but I won't admit that). For a change my Thursday is not as busy as usual, my fitness trainer did not kill me this morning, and my post-workout bacon and eggs with whole wheat English muffins was good. Even doing the dishes was easy. So on this sort of high, I begin:

Houston by 10 (Luck is out and Hasselback is not feeling well.)
Kansas City by 13
Buffalo by 4
Baltimore by 11
Tampa Bay by 6 (for a share of the Florida championship)
Green Bay by 9
Atlanta by 3
Philadelphia by 6
Seattle by 4
Arizona by 16 confidently predicting a LOCK
Oakland by 7
New England by 10
New York (National Conference) by 8
San Diego by 12

posted by Howard_T at 04:38 PM on October 08

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

a species within the phylum Annelida

whoop ass?

Worms. I could not resist the temptation to try to sound erudite.

What I was trying to say was that putting the enforcement/non-enforcement of a given rule on the basis of the game situation into the hands of the officials would result in chaos. The idea is to rid the officials of the responsibility to judge intent, possible outcome, or whether a team is deserving of the call.

posted by Howard_T at 05:06 PM on October 07

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

A technically wrong call where no injustice was done.

I agree that the Lions got themselves into the situation and did not deserve to be bailed out, but a rule is a rule. If you are going to go to selective or situational enforcement, you are opening up a large metal container of a species within the phylum Annelida.

It's not that obscure.

Former Patriots linebacker Roosevelt Colvin bragged via Twitter that Belichick had the team practice this in situational drills.

posted by Howard_T at 09:10 PM on October 06

How Do You Find Live Sports on TV?

I usually use the DirecTV channel guide for events within the next 24-48 hours. For longer term planning I use the search feature and search by the team name as a keyword. I might also use the league name as a keyword to find all games for that league. This is not the optimal method, but works OK for me.

The league and team web sites will have playing schedules, but usually do not have broadcast schedules. The network sites will have broadcast schedules, but I am not sure how long in advance they run.

I remember seeing a link here on SpoFi that led to a map showing what NFL game was being shown in various localities. Does anyone remember that one? When I traveled a lot it was really useful.

posted by Howard_T at 09:01 PM on October 06

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 4: First-Place Jacksonville Edition

For any number of reasons Thursday is a very busy day for me, and I can never seem to get to doing my picks until the very last minute. This week I couldn't even do that. Add to that the idea that this Friday and Saturday put a lot more on the agenda than usual. So now it's Saturday night, and I sit alone without a date. Oh, wait, I'm married and my wife is in the other room. Well there goes that fantasy. Here's the picks.

NY (American Conference) by 12
Cincinnati by 5
Washington by 14
Buffalo by 3
Indianapolis by 16
Tampa Bay by 4
Oakland by 10
Atlanta by 9
San Diego by 15 Yale never built a LOCK as strong as this one.
Green Bay by 10
Arizona by 6
Denver by 13
New Orleans by 7
Seattle by 18

posted by Howard_T at 08:51 PM on October 03

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Pure gold, Mr. B.

posted by Howard_T at 09:57 PM on October 01

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 3: Indy's Bad Luck Edition

Once again we're in panic mode as Thursday kickoff approaches.

New York (National Conference) by 6
Oakland by 3
Tampa Bay by 8
San Diego by 7
Indianapolis by 12 (as the Colts finally are cured of cranial rectumitis)
New York (American Conference) by 9
Atlanta by 4
New England by 16 a bigger lock than the Berendrecht near Antwerp
Oakland by 5
New Orleans by 6
Pittsburgh by 11
Arizona by 7
Seattle by 13
Miami by 2
Denver by 9
Green Bay by 14

posted by Howard_T at 08:27 PM on September 24

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Here are some interesting facts about David Ortiz. What Ortiz would be if he didn't play baseball still requires him to swing a petty big bat.

posted by Howard_T at 03:33 PM on September 24

Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra passes away

Many, if not most, will remember Yogi for his quotes and his unique way with the English language. I will remember him for his remarkable skills both behind and at the plate. (Perhaps I can fill you in on his playing ability, goddam.) As a catcher he had a better than average arm, a very reliable glove, and the ability to manage his pitchers that was superior. In his era, pitches were not called from the dugout. It was up to the pitcher and catcher to run the game. Berra was always prepared for the hitters he would face.

One of the things I most remember was the interaction between him and the opposing hitter coming to bat. One would think that the two were old friends who had not seen each other in weeks or months; not the case in the days of the 8-team leagues without inter-league play. Berra always had a few words with each batter, always in the way of a greeting, never trash talk. With the veterans and especially the stars of the other team, it was frequently more than just a few words.

At the plate, Berra had a lifetime .285 batting average. This is pretty darned good for a catcher, but what made him special was that he was incredibly difficult to "pitch around" with men on base. Many a pitcher tried to throw him pitches out of the strike zone, hoping he would chase, swing, and miss. This was never a good move, as Berra was one of the best "bad pitch" hitters I ever saw. He had the ability to reach out for the pitch outside, high or low, and drive the ball for a base hit. He could also handle the inside pitch better than most.

There still are a lot of characters in the game, but I believe Berra will occupy a place that is unique among them all.

I guess "it ain't over until it's over", but this is pretty final. RIP Yogi, you will be missed.

posted by Howard_T at 02:17 PM on September 23

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

Just took another look at my picks, and I see that I did not make a choice for Titans at Browns.

Titans by 12

Please add this, and I regret causing any inconvenience due to the fact that I am rapidly becoming senile.

posted by Howard_T at 05:19 PM on September 19

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

OK, time to catch up on the serious business at hand. Great call by me on the KC-Denver game. Of course, one never quite expects such an ending, but at least it made for great TV.

Now the picks:

49ers by 10
Saints by 3
Cardinals by 16
Bengals by 6
Falcons by 9
Vikings by 2
(Holding my breath) Patriots by 3
Panthers by 5
Dolphins by 14
Ravens by 8
Eagles by 3
Packers by 10
Colts by 9

posted by Howard_T at 12:27 AM on September 19

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 2: Teddy Bridgewater Fail Mary Edition

Just a quick grab at the Thursday night game. I will get to the rest of the picks tomorrow. Right now I'm like a one-armed paper hangar.

Kansas City by 8.

Manning is better than last week, but not good enough. Sad to see.

posted by Howard_T at 08:04 PM on September 17

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

We're in the second quarter of the Vikings - 49ers, and I have once again recalled why Chris Berman should no longer be allowed within 5 miles of a play-by-play microphone. Trent Dilfer is trying his best to sound worse than Berman, but it is not possible. This is nearly unwatchable. Does Berman really have the naked photos of ESPN and ABC executives?

posted by Howard_T at 11:11 PM on September 14

Moses Malone, three time NBA MVP, passes away

First Darryl Dawkins and now Moses Malone. These two were mainstays of the great 76ers teams of the '70s and early '80s. Perhaps the Celtics were fortunate not to have been embarrassed by Philly in '83. Don't forget that the Celtics had lost to the 76ers -- minus Malone who was then with Houston -- the year before. That was the year the Boston fans, knowing that the series was lost as the clock wound down in the Garden, began to chant "Beat LA, Beat LA" to encourage the 76ers. Malone's years with Houston were also some pretty good ones. With Houston in 1980-81 Malone reached the finals, losing to the Celtics that year.

When we watched the great ones from years ago play, we saw them as young men. As the years passed, they remained young in our memories; we forgot that they, like us, would grow older. Now as we hear of their passing, we read the news with a measure of sadness and disbelief, but more so with a sense of our own mortality.

posted by Howard_T at 03:53 PM on September 13

Super Bowl Ditches Roman Numerals

really long time to get to M...

...but only half as long for the cheerleaders to increase to size D?

posted by Howard_T at 05:12 PM on September 11

Super Bowl Ditches Roman Numerals

The NFL is ashamed that its fitness program has taken so long to work. If you are trying to lose weight, would you like to advertise the fact that it's taken you ten years to go from size XL to L?

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on September 10

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 1: Win One for the Duke

Way too many teams to pick to make a dissertation on each. (I hear a chorus of "thank you, thank you, thank you" from the great unwashed.) I will proceed apace from here.

New England by 12
Green Bay by 10
Houston by 3
NY Jets by 6 (as I hold my nose and grit my teeth)
Indianapolis by 10
Miami by 7
Carolina by 5
Seattle by 9
New Orleans by 6
Tampa Bay by 10
Oakland by 7
Denver by 12
Dallas by 17
Philadelphia by 15
Minnesota by 9

posted by Howard_T at 10:48 PM on September 09

Federal Judge Tosses Brady's 4-Game NFL Suspension

I have wanted to add my 2 cents worth to this since the decision came down. The delay is because I have a substantial piece of my forehead missing (basal cell sarcoma removal), and I haven't really felt much like writing. The doctor is sure he got all of the sarcoma, but that doesn't make my head feel much better. I guess he had to scrape down more than a couple of layers of skin to get it all.

So we're on to legal matters. I read the entire text of the decision last night, and as most have pointed out, Judge Berman confined his opinion to procedural matters and not matters of guilt or innocence. For New England fans there are plenty of little hints that Berman is quite suspicious of the NFL's finding that the balls had indeed been deliberately deflated. His continued use of quotation marks to frame the word independent in reference to the Wells report and the authors thereof shows that he believes the Wells investigation to be anything but independent.

On page 7 of the decision, the Wells Report is quoted as saying, "the reduction in pressure of the Patriots game balls cannot be explained completely by basic scientific principles, such as the Ideal Gas Law, based on the circumstances and conditions likely to have been present on the day of the AFC Championship Game." In the next sentence of the decision, Berman further cites the Wells report as saying, "[o]ur scientific consultants informed us that the data alone did not provide a basis for them to determine with absolute certainty whether there was or was not tampering, as the analysis of such data is ultimately dependent upon assumptions and information that is uncertain." The NFL has never disclosed any measurement data of ball pressure, either before the game or at halftime. The results of any such measurements would be dependent on the gauge used, the atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time of measurement, and how long the balls had been contained within that atmosphere. I have read nothing to indicate that such variables were noted in the measurement data. The one measurement mentioned in the decision comes on page 4, in the Background part of the decision, where the Wells Report is again quoted. "During the course of the January 18, 2015 AFC Championship Game, Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The intercepted ball was apparently handed to the Colts equipment staff, who used a pressure gauge and determined that the football was inflated to approximately 11psi, i.e., below the range of 12.5 to 13.5 psi specified in Rule 2, Section 1 of the 2014 NFL Official Playing Rules ("Playing Rules"). NFL officials collected and tested eleven Patriots game balls and four Colts game balls at halftime and concluded that all eleven of the Patriots' game balls measured below 12.5 psi. The balls were re-inflated to approximately 13 psi and placed back in play." With the stories that the Colts had been "tipped off" about deflation and that there was possibly a "sting operation" going on, I would be very suspicious of any measurement made on the Indianapolis sideline after Colts' personnel in possession of an inflation needle had handled the football. True enough that 11 psi would fall outside the range that could be predicted by the Ideal Gas Law, but once there had been an opportunity for unsupervised handling of the ball, that measurement must be questioned.

The entire paragraph above is my opinion of why the Wells Report, being very lacking in specifics, did not impress Judge Berman. Instead, Berman focused his opinion on labor law and the CBA. The areas Berman chose to use to vacate the suspension were the lack of notice to Brady that he would be subject to a suspension of 4 games, the equating of the alleged offense to the use of performance enhancing substances, the use of the "Competitive Integrity Policy" as the basis for Brady's punishment, the refusal of the NFL to allow the NFLPA to question Jeff Pash, and the refusal of the NFL to provide the NFLPA with investigative files, including witness interview notes.

From what I have read, many attorneys feel that the NFL faces an uphill fight to get Berman's decision overturned. The lack of notice comes in part from using the "Competitive Integrity Policy" as opposed to the "2014 League Policy for Players" (Player Policies). Copies of the Competitive Integrity Policy are provided to team officials and not the players, while the players are provided with copies of the Player Policies. My analogy would be applying Interstate Commerce Commission rules for large trucks to my 2001 Mazda pickup truck. Even if the Competitive Integrity Policy were used, Judge Berman notes that the punishment for a first offense of the equipment rules is a fine of $5,512.

The refusal of the NFL to allow questioning of Jeff Pash and the denial of access to relevant investigative materials might be the most telling reasons that Berman will be upheld by the Court of Appeals. The NFL contended that testimony by Pash would just be cumulative to that already given by others. Judge Berman ruled that since Pash had a role in editing the Wells report, he should have been allowed to be questioned. The NFL claimed that the Wells Report was prepared entirely by the Paul Weiss investigative team, but Berman questioned how Pash, the NFL's General Counsel, came to edit a supposedly independent report. Thus, the NFLPA should have been allowed to question Pash The denial of discovery is also serious. Since the Paul Weiss firm did the actual preparation of the Wells Report, they had access to all pertinent materials. Judge Berman noted that the Paul Weiss firm's role in the investigation seems to have changed from independent investigators to NFL's retained counsel at the arbitration hearing. Thus, the NFL and Commissioner Goodell would have had access to the material, while Brady and the NFLPA did not. Berman states that courts have held that the absence of a statutory provision for discovery does not negate the duty for insuring that all information available to one party is available to the other.

The "general awareness" idea was also questioned. Berman questioned Jeffrey Nash about the meaning of the term, and ultimately Nash said that the term equated to "knew". The Wells Report uses the standard of "more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware..." The suspension letter from Troy Vincent to Brady never says that Brady participated in any deflation scheme. "More probable than not and generally aware" is a low standard by which to hand someone a 4-game suspension. In short, other than the opinion of some people who were out to "get" Brady and the Patriots, there is "no 'there' there".

Now let's consider what most people feel is the truly damning piece of evidence against Brady, the destruction of his cell' 'phone. To start with, there is this from the testimony of Mr. Wells at the arbitration hearing: "I want to be clear-- I did not tell Mr. Brady at any time that he would be subject to punishment for not giving--not turning over the documents [emails and texts]. I did not say anything like that." Brady's contention was that no player had ever been suspended for allegedly failing to cooperate with -- or even allegedly obstructing -- an NFL investigation. Brady was told he would not be punished for not turning over e-mails and texts, Brady claims that he agreed to provide call records that the NFL could use to eventually obtain the information, the investigators had the records from McNally and Jastremski, and that since the NFL had all that was required, why the destruction of his 'phone would be such a big deal. During the proceedings before Judge Berman, Brady admitted it was not a good idea to destroy the 'phone. One can presume anything that he wants from this, but there is no proof of a smoking gun here.

It's nice to be feeling better. I really wanted to read the full text of Judge Berman's decision before I added my contribution. Most of you know that I am looking at this through Continental Blue (the Patriots' home uniform jersey color) glasses. Even at that, there is too much in the decision to negate any idea that Tom Brady sponsored any scheme to bend the rules. To me it appears that Roger Goodell, having had players lie through their teeth to him in other matters, and having been unable to adequately punish them (Bountygate comes to mind), decided he would put an end to such things once and for all. At the same time, a couple of teams saw an opportunity to embarrass New England, and cooked up a scheme, with or without the league's foreknowledge, to trap them. The problem with this was that they could not conduct their little game with the scientific rigor required to prove anything, and if they had, it might have proven nothing other than Gay-Lussac's ideal gas law was correct all along. Could Goodell's mind set have been something like "I will screw the Patriots. The other 31 teams hate them anyway, Kraft will go along with anything and he can't touch me anyway, and I will become the all-powerful commissioner who can do anything he pleases"? It surely sounds like Goodell and his lawyers have learned nothing regarding the CBA and labor law in general. Judge Doty had it right when he asked, "Does Roger Goodell even know there is a CBA?" Thus the question really remains "what will happen to Roger and his minions?" Sadly, it appears that nothing substantial will happen. Perhaps a few of the legal underlings in the office will be asked to seek other employment, but otherwise nothing. You see, the other 31 really do hate the Patriots and are pleased with the whole thing -- that is until the vacating of the suspensions. The problem with this attitude is that any one of them could be next to be set up for punishment whenever Goodell feels he needs to. Perhaps that was part of his reasoning behind going after Brady. If he makes it stick, which owner will challenge him going forward? Looks an awful lot like the technique used by despots everywhere. Maybe the best thing that comes to pass will be the addition to the CBA of truly neutral investigation, punishment, and arbitration proceedings. Other leagues seem to be able to do this. Why not the NFL?

posted by Howard_T at 04:29 PM on September 07

Gotta give a shout out

Could it be that Fiers had a little help?

posted by Howard_T at 12:39 PM on August 23

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Just like their two legal mavens who've spent the last 6 months telling us Brady has no hope.

From all that has been reported from Judge Berman's courtroom, it sounds as if the NFL is in trouble. The little voice in my head says there is something going on that is not being heard. My feeling is that the NFL has put itself into a position where it must have the full 4-game suspension in order to maintain some semblance of credibility. Brady might or might not accept a lesser suspension or no suspension and just a fine. If he has to admit guilt, there will be no such settlement. Meanwhile, Berman is trying to tell both sides in no uncertain terms that they won't get a settlement on those terms and they have to back off. Berman truly wants a negotiated settlement if one is possible. If he is forced to rule, it will be an all or nothing call -- 4 games or a complete vacation of the suspension. The last thing he wants is to have to make a judgement against either party and wind up having the case go to the Court of Appeals. If the case does go to a higher court, the possibility is there that Berman's ruling will be reversed, and no judge ever wants that to happen, right or wrong. Thus, I suspect that Brady isn't quite out of the woods yet. Even if Berman throws Roger Goodell out of his courtroom, there will be an appeal, and on and on we go. Consider it a welfare project with long-term employment for lawyers and sports writers.

posted by Howard_T at 10:45 PM on August 20

Little League Team Throws Game at World Series

I had a situation when umpiring a Babe Ruth entry league (13-year-old kids who were of marginal skills) where one team could win the top seed for the playoffs, while the other team was going nowhere. The problem was a strict time limit that prohibited a new inning from starting after a certain amount of time. The game was not yet official, time was running short, and the team with playoff aspirations, leading on the scoreboard, could not afford a "no game" ruling. (Ties were not replayed or played as a suspended game. They were just treated as if they had not been played. Blame a shortage of fields and umpires and the competing pressures of other activities.) The coach of the team leading asked me what I could do to make sure the game got past the top of the 4th, and thus became official. I advised him I could do nothing other than encouraging hustle, but that he could make sure his batters swung at anything reasonable, did not waste time getting to the plate, and if all else failed, deliberately make outs. I made sure that the other coach was aware this was going on, and that if he objected, I would try to stop the other team from doing this. As it turned out, he did not care, his kids understood the situation, and all went well.

This is quite different from playing to lose in order to gain advantage, but it still involves a failure to give one's best effort at all times. Perhaps I wold have better said that speeding up the game was his responsibility, and how he did it was up to him, as long as it was within the rules of baseball. Losing a game in order to gain a more advantageous playoff situation has happened a number of times, but doing it in so blatant a manner should be punished.

posted by Howard_T at 01:51 PM on August 19

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

being outside the base paths, those runners would have been out for that reason, I believe.

The base paths aren't exactly what most people think they are. The base path is not defined as the nice straight line between those canvas sacks. The base path is established once the play on a runner begins. Now usually the runner is trying to take the shortest route, and this is on that nice straight line. Now picture this. With one out the batter-runner hits a base hit to the outfield. On the play a runner, let's say from first, is thrown out attempting to get to third base. The batter-runner, thinking that this is the third out of the inning turns to run directly across the infield toward the third base dugout. About the time he gets halfway to the mound (closer to second than first), the fielders and the batter-runner wake up to what's going on. The ball is thrown to the second baseman at the bag, and the batter-runner heads directly to the bag. Instead of setting up a rundown or otherwise attempting to make a tag, the second baseman looks at the umpire and asks him to declare the batter-runner out for being out of the baseline. While this is going on, the batter-runner makes it to the bag and the umpire says "safe". Why? The play on the runner was started when the runner was on the grass of the infield between the mound and second. Thus his baseline is the line directly between where he is and the bag, and he is given a 3-foot margin on either side to evade a tag. As long as he does not go outside this line, the runner is not out. When the second baseman chose to ignore him, and the runner sneaked in, the umpire correctly ruled "safe". Nobody ever believes me when I tell them this, but it was in the case book, and was on the exam one year.

posted by Howard_T at 01:27 PM on August 12