Recent Comments by Howard_T

Skunk In The Outfield : How A Trick Play Almost Broke Baseball

Thanks for this, Grum. I am really glad that I have never been on the field when something this bizarre happened. At least once per season, sometimes more, I have to explain the baseline rule to a coach or player; more often to a fan. I can understand a fan or young player not knowing the rule, but a coach, even at the middle school level, ought to spend a few hours reading the rule book and the case book. So many things can happen on every pitch or play that it is hard for the casual fan to follow. But the uncertainty and the possibilities are what make baseball as much fun as it is.

posted by Howard_T at 12:42 PM on August 18

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Nine

Making the picks while celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of Bennington. John Stark led a group of New Hampshire militiamen to Bennington where they caught a foraging party of British regulars by surprise. The defeat caused the British to rethink the plan for a force to come north from New York to join Burgoyne's force for a drive eastward to Boston. Without the reinforcements, Burgoyne was brought to battle at Saratoga and defeated. The whole course of the war was changed.

Eskimos go into their game with the Blue Bombers in rather the same position as the British in 1777, that is undefeated. Bombers are at their own aerodrome and have made 3 successful flights in a row. Eskimos might get themselves into a bit of trouble here. Winnipeg by 8

There are those who say tht a cure for continuing poor results is a brief vacation in a pleasant lakeside setting. so will it be for the Redblack. Ottawa by 12

Lions tried to chew on a bit of horse meat in Saskatchewan last week but were severely mauled for their efforts. Now a different set of livestock is coming to the Lions' den. Can the Lions recover? Calgary by 6

Montreal vs Toronto means Canadiens vs Maple Leafs, Alouettes vs Argonauts, and Blue Jays vs Expos. Oh yeah, that ended a whie ago. So did any resemblance of football excellence between the two big eastern cities. Argos are at home, so I will go with that. Toronto by 9

posted by Howard_T at 12:23 AM on August 17

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

What? No visible condiments? No mustard, no relish, no (ugh) ketchup! If this is communion, it is without the consecration of the Elements by the inclusion of the sacred condiments. Heresy, Mr. Kessel, heresy!

posted by Howard_T at 05:56 PM on August 15

Ezekiel Elliott suspended by NFL

For some reason I had Desmond Bryant on my mind rather than Ezekiel Elliott. At my age this is a dangerous sign. Anyway, I was very clumsily trying to make the point that political correctness, in so far as it tends to presume the guilt of unpopular persons or ideas, is as harmful as the civil asset seizure laws. I really shouldn't try to reason late at night.

posted by Howard_T at 10:49 AM on August 13

Ezekiel Elliott suspended by NFL

all totally made up, too.

Please note that I never claimed that any allegations made against Bryant were false. Once such allegations are made, they must be proven before anyone is punished. The unfortunate thing is that there are federal laws that permit one who is merely suspected of a crime to have his assets seized before any trial. This usually renders the accused unable to mount a defense, since he has no means to pay an attorney. These laws are being looked at now, and there is some movement to easing them. Back to Bryant's case, the league may suspend him out of "concerns about his moral character", but this is possible only due to the nature of the contract between the league and the players' association. Were Bryant an employee of a private corporation, he could be suspended, but once no charges were brought, his employer would be required to reinstate him and make some settlement of back pay and allowances.

To make a long story short, the league can do whatever it wants because of the draconian nature of the agreement with the NFLPA. Whether it is right or not is a matter of opinion. My opinion is that the NFL has allowed itself to be influenced by political correctness, but in the NFL's defense, had they not done so, the probability is that there would have been an adverse reaction in the media. We all know that Roger Goodell could never permit that.

posted by Howard_T at 11:14 PM on August 12

Ezekiel Elliott suspended by NFL

Blame political correctness run amok for this sort of thing. One who is accused of anything that the masses deem inappropriate is convicted in the court of public opinion regardless of the facts. Investigations into the circumstances surrounding the incident will usually take weeks, if not months and years. Yet during all this time the "guilty party" stands accused, and all who give him any support or employment are equally guilty. By the time the investigations are complete, the story is old news and any exoneration of the person involved is ignored. Thus the NFL is forced into imposing a suspension without considering what the investigation reveals. To be honest, I am often guilty of this behavior. I know I should wait for the facts, but it is far too tempting to jump into the argument, and when a team of which you are not a fan is involved, it's way too easy.

posted by Howard_T at 05:30 PM on August 12

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Eight

Making picks while sad that the Wichita Lineman is no longer on the line.

Ottawa has dreams of an upset, Edmonton has visions of an easy win. Neither will happen, but Eskimos will prevail. Edmonton by 8

Argonauts go to la belle ville to meet gentile Alouette. The larks ascend. Montreal by 6

Bombers land in Hamilton and find that the Tigercats are buried at the bottom of their own litter box. No relief in sight.Winnipeg by 16

Bc

Lions visit the RoughRiders looking to feast on some meat. They get fed a sparse lunch, but it's enough. BC by 4

posted by Howard_T at 08:13 PM on August 09

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I always thought the saddest plate appearances of all time were some of my attempts at batting when I was playing softball.

posted by Howard_T at 12:31 PM on August 09

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

I would be sorely tempted, if put into a situation like that with a sweet young thing, to put on a performance that might be a lot more interesting than cricket, but would end in some incarceration for me. A bed at a match? A bit of wine for the lady? There are some possibilities here.

posted by Howard_T at 04:30 PM on August 06

Cubs Give Steve Bartman a World Series Ring

posted by Howard_T at 11:13 AM on August 03

Cubs Give Steve Bartman a World Series Ring

You think hearing "Sweet Caroline" on Saturday afternoon is bad? My wife uses it as her ring tone. Aaaaaarrrrggghhhh!!!

posted by Howard_T at 11:13 AM on August 03

Cubs Give Steve Bartman a World Series Ring

Can we arrange a trade for "Sweet Caroline"? Perhaps we can get another club involved and "Meet the Mets" could be a throw-in.

posted by Howard_T at 09:36 PM on August 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Seven

On a nice quiet evening here in New Hampshire it is time to once again make some picks. After some of the shenanigans we witnessed last week, we wonder if it is really possible to apply any logical reasoning to making your choices. Perhaps gathering the cats together and having them decide would be good. Last time I did that they would pick only Hamilton Tigercats and BC Lions, so that didn't work too well.

The Stampede obliterated Hamilton last week, but can they run over Toronto in the same manner? It won't be a 59 point margin, but it won't exactly be a cliff hanger either. Calgary by 18

What just happened part 1: Montreal looked like there's no way Blue Bombers could come back on them, but all of a sudden it's a one-point win for the Bombers If Ottawa gets a lead, their defense should try to use barbed wire, claymore mines, and perhaps some armored vehicles. Winnipeg by 6

What just happened part 2: Edmonton is leaving the door wide open for a BC upset, but then the universe rights itself and Edmonton pulls away. In the meantime, Hamilton begins to wonder if not showing up would have been a good option last week. I'm not sure there is enough left of Hamilton to show up this week. Edmonton by 17

For better than 3 quarters BC was in top form. Then Edmonton put up the stop sign, and BC obeyed. Rough Riders do not have any signs to show, so Lions will not slow down. BC by 14

posted by Howard_T at 09:34 PM on August 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Six

Can't wait until tomorrow to finish these. Wife and I will do a day in Boston tomorrow; plans are a harbor cruise followed by dinner and drinks with our son. The kid has moved into a new place in North Quincy, so he wants to show it off. It's not all pleasure; wife needs to visit the Charlie Card Store to get her new Senior Fare card for the Boston MBTA. It gets you half price, but for my wife this includes the sad realization that she has now reached the age of official old fart status. So sad.

The picks:

Alouettes vs Blue Bombers features little feathery birds against things that drop highly lethal eggs. Every once in a while a bird strike will bring down an aircraft, but most bird strikes tend to hurt the bird a lot more. Winnipeg by 8

The saying is that offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. I'm not trying to predict the ultimate league outcome, just one game. Edmonton by 3

Riders seem to be falling off the horse lately, while the Argos find some fair sailing in spots. Toronto by 15

Poor little kitties find themselves in the middle of a pack of rampaging quadrupeds. It will not be pretty. Calgary by 18

posted by Howard_T at 11:10 PM on July 26

111 NFL Brains Examined By Neuropathologist

The New York Times has managed to sensationalize the headline by quoting the raw numbers without including the qualifying statement that appears later in the article. In Dr. McKee's words and with more explanation in the article:

<<"There's a tremendous selection bias," she has cautioned, noting that many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.

But 110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an N.F.L. player's risk of developing C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only after death. About 1,300 former players have died since the B.U. group began examining brains. So even if every one of the other 1,200 players had tested negative which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.>>

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to cast the study in a bad light. I'm merely complaining about the tendency of some media to make more of a story that it deserves. The problem is that this story deserves a lot of attention, and there is a real problem there. But when the NYT screams loudly, a lot of doubters will automatically reject the numbers as being in error or being "cooked" in some manner. Thus many will not read beyond the headline before the nay-saying begins.

It is now apparent that the NFL cannot continue to function as it is. It almost looks like as more padding and "better" helmets are introduced, the number and severity of injuries increases. Does the better equipment give players a false sense of security? The players are bigger, stronger, and faster than before. How does this contribute? I would like to see if this problem exists in rugby. The players wear minimal head protection and no pads to speak of. The rules of rugby tend to eliminate the high speed collisions we see in football, but there are still plenty of hits.

Another thing that needs to be done, or at least needs more attention, is the nature of head injuries and the sort of injury that produces CTE. Is a hit to the side of the head worse than a direct straight on hit? What about twisting motions or the sudden back and forth motion associated with whiplash? Much more is needed, and perhaps the NFL (and the NHL that seems to have its own problem with head injuries) could do the right thing and begin funding some research.

Here endeth the sermon.

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 AM on July 26

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

If Kyrie heads West and LeBron follows

If Kyrie is traded before or during this season, Boston might become the default power in the East. This said whether or not LeBron stays in Cleveland this season. Now here's Cleveland's problem (and incidentally LeBron's): LeBron has already hinted at a desire to move to LA next season, thus anyone except Lakers trading for him will be trading for a 1-year rental. Thus the value to be returned to Cleveland is lessened. Even the lessened value of a 1-year LeBron could be great enough that the team acquiring him gives up so much that having LeBron does not make them better. The only thing that Cleveland management can do is to somehow appease Kyrie, get him and LeBron to "kiss and make up", and see what they can do to improve the team enough to actually win the finals this season. My take is that this is "Mission Impossible" (RIP Martin Landau).

posted by Howard_T at 06:41 PM on July 21

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Five

Since I don't think that Montreal and Ottawa will be in a 4 or 5 hour delay for moose attack, zombie apocalypse, or snow, I guess I will not be able to pick that one. Wednesday night football makes no sense to me. Thursday is bad enough, but Wednesday?

Anyway, here are the rest of the picks.

Tigercats have played like tame kittens while Eskimos have had the sled dogs running in high gear. Edmonton by 6

Winnipeg are coming off a win in Toronto, but have to fly all the way west to face hungry Lions. BC by 13

The Stamps seem to be the consensus choice this week. Who am I to argue? Calgary by 10

Thanks to the vagaries of the CFL schedule we get a second crack at picking Ottawa. The problem is that nobody is picking them. I won't either. Toronto by 7

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on July 19

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Four

Once again we find ourselves in a slow spiral toward the bottom of the standings. No matter, there is always hope. I feel a bit like the birds that come to my backyard feeders. They peck away and peck away until they find exactly the right seed or nut for their taste. So it is with my picks; pecking away until I actually get one right.

Argonauts showed they might have something in holding off Ottawa, or did Ottawa show that they lacked something in losing to Toronto. I don't know, but I will give Argos credit for a bit of momentum. Toronto by 6

Alouettes need to be careful about allowing a group of rampaging quadrupeds into their stadium. Birdies get hurt. Calgary by 12

The color-confused group from Ottawa will find a tall order to fill in the land of the Eskimos. They will fall short. Edmonton by 9

Cat fights tend to be noisy, lots of yowling before the engagement, hissing and screaming during the very brief battle, and some muttering and licking of wounds afterward. The cat fight in Hamilton might be similar, although not as brief. Look for the striped cats to be licking their wounds while the tawny cats walk away with tails held high. BC by 3

posted by Howard_T at 06:08 PM on July 13

Peter Karmanos close to selling Hurricanes for $500 million

I was never a Whalers' fan, but I loved the fact that the Bruins had a rival within the New England area and required a drive of less than 2 hours (from southern NH) to see. I still see the occasional set of flukes on a Whaler t-shirt at various events around Boston.

posted by Howard_T at 05:49 PM on July 13

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

This ESPN headline is just terrible.

...but very understandable. ESPN is a television (well, cable TV anyway), and as such lives on its ratings. I seem to remember something about the New York metropolitan area being the largest TV market in the USA. (or maybe 2nd, I don't know for sure) On the other hand, Seattle, while a really nice place to live, even when it rains, is not a terribly large market. Thus, the headline "Mariners' Star's Walk-Off Wins All Star Game" would not excite a very lareg fan base. One must also understand that the next Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN happens to be Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees. No matter where these 2 teams are in the standings, ESPN will hype the rivalry every time.

By the way, Judge is worth the price of admission until opposing pitchers and scouts find the holes in his swing.

posted by Howard_T at 06:39 PM on July 12

What football will look like in the future

Started, got through about 8 or 10 iterations, and gave up. There's an answer in there somewhere, but I think it's 42, and like Douglas Adams, nobody knows the question.

Back in my pre-teens and teenage years I used to read a lot of science fiction. Some of it was written like this, as a long and somewhat disjointed narrative, but this has the advantage of having graphics and a bit of interactivity. The odd thing is that the sci-fi I used to read might have had a computing or writing device such as the one that produced this story as one of it's main characters.

posted by Howard_T at 02:27 PM on July 11

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Well how about that? News has just come that the Celtics have traded Avery Bradley and a 2nd round pick to Detroit for Marquis Morris. The salary differential saves Boston about 3.5 million, more than enough to put Hayward on the roster. Morris is a 6'9" forward who can score (averaged about 14 per game last season) and can rebound a bit. Considering what went on in the summer league last night, the plan might be to move Jaylen to the 2 position. It still looks like Jae Crowder is going too, but the sign-and-trade is no longer necessary.

posted by Howard_T at 12:09 PM on July 07

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

First of all, there's no possibility of Utah keeping Hayward. He is a free agent who has agreed to a deal with Boston. The deal cannot be consummated until Boston is able to do it without exceeding the salary cap. Reports say that the difference right now is something like 300K. So the question is why do you have to get rid of a 4 - 7 Million contract. Simply enough, Ainge needs another piece for this year in order to have a chance at beating Cleveland in the playoffs. Marc Gasol is supposedly available for the right price, and one that is not exorbitant.

A couple of things are coming into play here. First of all, a trade of Crowder, Smart, or Bradley will not bring enough of a return. The biggest reason for this is that the other GMs around the league think they have Ainge over a barrel, and they will take every advantage. Another thing is that Boston wants something else from Utah for Crowder. It would not be a major piece, more like a draft pick, but it would be something useful in making another deal down the road for a Gasol or his ilk.

posted by Howard_T at 08:31 AM on July 07

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The latest product of the rumor mills is a possible sign-and-trade deal between Utah and Boston. On the face of it, this is not necessary, since Hayward has already agreed to the deal with the Celtics. The idea is for Utah to sign Hayward and then receive Jay Crowder in trade. This gives Boston the ability to move Crowder's $7 million (with 3 years remaining) in order to fit Hayward under the salary cap. A trade with Utah eliminates the need to balance salaries as would be required when executing a trade in ordinary circumstances.

If a deal of Crowder to Utah cannot be done, then one of the trio of Crowder, Avery Bradley, or Marcus Smart must be traded. While any of those 3 would help any team in the NBA, the return to Boston (in draft picks preferably) would be less than market value. The sign-and-trade makes a lot of sense.

posted by Howard_T at 02:03 PM on July 06

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Three

My wife and I are "up north" this week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. we enjoy it up here, and we spend the time relaxing, going to some of our favorite restaurants and activities, and just relaxing. Today we got high, but not like you think. We rode the cog railway to the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England and 3rd highest east of the Mississippi River. The cog railway has been around since 1866, and is quite a different way to climb a mountain. It was a fun day, but now it is time to get to serious business.

Lions make the long trek eastward to face the Alouettes. It is said that travel is broadening, but I think that is in regard to certain parts of the anatomy due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise rather than expanding one's outlook. In this case, Lions will be doing the educating. BC by 11

Blue Bombers need to take wing against the Stampeders. You are clear for takeoff. Winnipeg by 6

The old saying is "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Toronto fooled me last week when I actually took the seriously. Ottawa by 16

Tiger Cats have to sharpen their claws in order to handle the Rough Riders. Instead they will do what all embarrassed cats do; sit there licking themselves. Saskatchewan by 5

posted by Howard_T at 10:40 PM on July 05

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Gene Conley, right-hand pitcher, Milwaukee Braves and Boston Red Sox has passed away at age 86. With the Braves he won a World Series championship.

Gene Conley, back-up center, Boston Celtics, has passed away at age 86. As a Celtic, Conley won 3 NBA championships as the back-up center behind Bill Russell.

The obit is obviously for the same guy, but he is among the very few who has won a championship in two different major league sports. Now for the disclaimer: In my youth Gene Conley was always one of my favorite players on the Celtics, mostly because of his versatility as both a baseball player and a basketball player.

posted by Howard_T at 06:58 PM on July 05

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Hayward at the Players' Tribune

Some were downplaying the relationship between Hayward and Coach Brad Stevens, Boston's head coach and Hayward's former college coach at Butler. It was said that their relationship was not all that important in Hayward's choice. In his Players' Tribune post, Hayward made it clear that one of the main factors in his choice was the trust he placed in Brad Stevens to "do the right thing" (not a direct quote) and support him in whatever decision he made.

posted by Howard_T at 10:25 PM on July 04

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

On the subject of NBA free agent signings, ESPN has done it again. Earlier today they posted a report that Gordon Hayward would sign with the Boston Celtics. "Nay, not so", say all concerned. Hayward's agent says there has been no decision as yet, and Celtics management and Jazz management have not heard anything from Hayward. There was no mention of whether or not Miami has heard anything, but one must assume not.

posted by Howard_T at 05:09 PM on July 04

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

If Hernandez were to win his lawsuit, the largest part of the settlement should be an accurate and consistent strike zone. His biggest problem is that he just is not very good behind the plate.

posted by Howard_T at 01:47 PM on July 04

University Rochester football player kidnapped and tortured for 40 hours

don't know how one can come back from that.

The article said that he has continued with his piano playing. That will be the key to moving past the horror. He will be able to bury himself in the music, and as time passes the emotional pain will lessen.

posted by Howard_T at 12:47 PM on July 02

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Happy Canada Day to all.

I was watching the Red Sox vs Blue Jays game this afternoon, and the pre-game ceremonies were broadcast. They were really nice, the teams were wearing special uniforms (Canada Day for the Jays, July 4 for Boston - their socks were cool, red & white stripes on one leg and solid blue on the other), pipes and drums for the music, a salute to veterans and active duty Canadian Forces, and a good rendition of both anthems.

As the giant flag was being carried to the outfield and unfurled, the pipes were playing "The Maple Leaf Forever". My Nova Scotian dad used to sing this all the time, and he insisted that it should have been the Canadian National Anthem instead of "Oh Canada".

Chris Sale pitched for Boston. Watching him pitch is what it might have been like listening to Beethoven compose one of his piano sonatas.

The game was a 7 - 1 Boston blowout win. This caused my warped mind to think of a the many advertising circulars that come in the mail telling of "Blowout Sales". I wonder why the tire companies never advertise a blowout sale.

That's enough nonsense for now. Once again, happy sesquicentennial, Canada.

posted by Howard_T at 05:14 PM on July 01

CFL Pick 'Em, Week Two

We got past the first week without being completely embarrassed, so let's see if we can continue the effort.

Some years ago at a place where I worked, we would have an ugly tie contest every payday. Our fashion maven secretaries would make the selection. There's no doubt that had the Ottawa - Calgary game been around someone's neck, it would have won hands down. The overtime periods were pretty gruesome. Perhaps some lessons have been learned by both teams. I will say that RedBlacks learn quicker. Ottawa by 6

Argonauts looked like the real thing last week; it was no illusion. On the other hand BC looked like they might have had something, but then had very little at the end. Toronto by 9

Alouettes will have a few feathers plucked by the Eskimos. Edmonton by 14

Rough Riders did not impress last week, but did take the Alouettes to the limit. Blue Bombers are an unknown quantity; perhaps they may be stealth bombers. This one is purely a guess. Winnipeg by 5

posted by Howard_T at 11:11 PM on June 28

The 13th Annual chicobangs Memorial SpoFi CFL Pick 'Em

I have to get these in tonight. I'm going in for minor surgery tomorrow (sebaceous cyst on the back of my neck), and I will likely be off line for a day or 2. Here are the picks:

Alouettes are a bit further along in the rebuilding process than is Saskatchewan. Montreal by 7

Stampeders will be very good, but they will need a game or 2 to hit their stride. Redblacks might be the class of the East. Ottawa by 6

Eskimos have not taken a backward step, while BC has not moved forward by any great measure. Edmonton by 14

Argonauts have their house back. This might be enough to turn the whole thing around. Toronto by 6

posted by Howard_T at 10:59 PM on June 19

Celtics Trade No. 1 Pick to 76ers

Boston might be looking at another trade for the 3rd pick.

Boston is after Tatum, not Jackson. While Jackson can run the floor and give you a good inside game, he is not a good shooter. His shooting mechanics are not good, thus in order to become a decent perimeter player, his entire set of shooting mechanics would need to be torn down and rebuilt. That is likely a 3 or 4 year process. Not happening. For Boston to trade the 3rd pick it would take a bushel basket of potential lottery picks, with a top notch player thrown in. Now watch; Ainge will come up with something on the eve of draft day that shoots doen all of my theories.

posted by Howard_T at 10:24 PM on June 19

Celtics Trade No. 1 Pick to 76ers

I want to see the Sixers become relevant again.

I too want to see a rivalry in the East that is something other than a fervent wish that "we beat the Cavaliers, or at least come close, at least once per season". Having one dominant team in the conference is not really good for the NBA, nor for any of the teams in the conference. The second round of this year's East playoffs laid the foundation for a genuine intra-conference rivalry, but neither team has a shot at the NBA finals until LeBron goes west or retires. Boston and Washington seemed to develop a healthy disrespect for each other as the season wore on, and the incidents in the playoffs deepened it. The problem is that a fight between Kelly Olynyk and Kelly Oubre just doesn't live up to Philadelphia vs Boston in the 80s.

Perhaps we'll never again see something like Philly - Boston again. The way the rules are enforced now prevent anything resembling some of the stuff that went on back then. The powers that be have decided that offense will triumph, and physical defense must stand aside. Too bad. It's a lot easier to hate a team that levels one of your best players with what appears (to you, at least) to be a cheap shot. Now it's a double technical, perhaps a flagrant foul, and an admonition "Let's settle down here, boys. We have to be nice to each other now."

posted by Howard_T at 06:20 PM on June 19

Celtics Trade No. 1 Pick to 76ers

Evidently Ainge thinks that Fultz, while good enough to become a very good player in the NBA, is not going to become a so-called superstar. The whole question for Celtics fans is "what will it take for Boston to get to the finals". Consistent scoring from someone taller than 5'9" is the first, and most obvious need. Fultz would have provided this, but there are others who can do this. Both Josh Jackson (if the Lakers don't take him first) and Jayson Tatum can score from the inside, and one of these two will be available at 3. Tatum in particular is a good rebounder and a good defender. From the perimeter both are question marks. Jackson has not shown well as an outside shooter, and he was only a 56% free throw shooter at Kansas; Tatum has decent shot mechanics, which says he can develop a perimeter game. In the meantime, there is free agency, and perhaps the addition of Gordon Hayward.

The other major Celtics' need is rebounding. Perhaps Ainge can attract a lower level free agent to fill this role, but some of the talking heads (and those who use the keyboard) have mentioned an Ainge pick from last year, Ante Zizic. Zizic is a 6"10", 20-year-old Croatian who has been stashed in Europe for the past year. His latest team is in the Turkish league, and Zizic is said to be playing very well there. The reports say he has a strong work ethic, and he plays with a mean streak. He will be playing for the Celtics in the summer league, so his development will be on view.

To sum it all up, Ainge probably thinks he can find perimeter scorers with future picks, or perhaps someone on his current roster (Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown) can improve their 3-point games. Ainge is playing the "slow" game, and building through the draft until a solid foundation is in place, rather than trying to hit the jackpot with some free agent signings and trades. So far the fans have been patient, although when Jaylen Brown was selected last year there were a lot of groans and some boos in TD Garden. Brown worked out well, and much faith in Ainge was restored. We will see what happens this year.

On edit, in response to the previous comment, Lonzo Ball has the appearance of becoming a "slider". If Lakers don't take him, Celtics won't, and other teams will begin to look for something better. As a side bet, I think Ball will go no higher than 6, but I could be wrong.

posted by Howard_T at 03:10 PM on June 18

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

ESPN/ABC and Turner don't pay the NBA truckloads of money to have the TV broadcasts butt against other events. Last night was occupied by a feature baseball game on ESPN and the Stanley Cup final elimination game on NBC. Tonight's game will have no serious competition for viewers other than local MLB and network NCAA baseball. The ancient saying is, "Money talks and BS walks."

posted by Howard_T at 01:54 PM on June 12

SportsFilter NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Champion: rcade

shouldn't the top end be called the Bulger?

It's necessary to choose which Bulger you are talking about. There's Whitey, whose crimes have been well documented. There's also his brother William, who was at one time one of the most powerful politicians in the Socialist Republic of Massachusetts. He abandoned an active role in politics to become the president of the University of Massachusetts. His sins are less well documented, but to use him as an example of obtaining wealth and honors by less than legitimate means might certainly be appropriate.

posted by Howard_T at 01:42 PM on June 12

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

respect the baseball smarts

When I first began to umpire games that actually counted for something, a play like this got me into trouble. After a base on balls, the ball is not dead. There was a walk, and the coach began walking toward the foul line to talk to his pitcher, yelling at me to call time. My attention was on the coach and nothing else. I put my arms up in the dead ball signal, yelled "time is out", and looked up to see the batter-runner halfway to second. Now I have to explain to the other coach how I have screwed up, put the runner back on first, and try to get through the rest of the game without my pants falling down, or something equally atrocious. Ever since then I have been meticulous about forcing coaches to wait until the base on balls award is complete before I allow the time out.

posted by Howard_T at 11:43 AM on June 11

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Without Heimlich how will they ever pull off a squeeze play?

posted by Howard_T at 07:59 PM on June 09

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: The Finals

I mentioned that I expect the games to be reasonably close. The largest margin of victory will be 14 points.

Well, that didn't take long to explode. After watching last night's game, I believe there will be at least one more blowout. I should have been a bit more aware of Cleveland's defensive deficiencies after watching them against Boston. In that series, had Boston been able to shoot from the perimeter on a consistent basis as well as Golden State, they might well have been able to pull the upset. Cleveland is trying to run Golden State's perimeter shooters off the 3-point line, but in so doing they have left the inside wide open. If Cleveland clogs the paint, Curry and company will go wild. The adjustments by Cleveland will be interesting to see.

posted by Howard_T at 10:23 PM on June 02

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: The Finals

LeBron James did not look particularly healthy against Boston. Since Cleveland was better at every position on the floor than Boston, even with a generally sub-par series from LeBron, they won handily. Now, when I say that, I realize that LeBron led all scorers in the conference finals, was, I believe, the top rebounder, and in general did much to humble my Celtics. Golden State has players that can match up to Cleveland, position by position, so I do not expect Cavaliers to put together any blowouts, nor do I expect anything similar from Golden State. In other words, the games will be reasonably close, but I do not believe the series will be. Of course, the wild card in the whole thing is what the TV networks and the league bosses want from the series. I can see a lot of calls being made, or not made, depending on whether or ot the series needs to be prolonged. Wait, what?, are you saying that this is fixed? Well, not exactly, but there has been a tendency for calls to go in one direction depending on the situation in the series. We shall see.

On to the picks:

When the dust settles it will be Golden State emerging the winner after 5 games.

Kevin Durant is on a mission this year, and he will be the MVP.

Despite Durant's heroics, he will not be the leading scorer. Look for Curry to take this honor.

Keeping the glass clean will be more important in this series than in any of those that have preceded it this season. Draymond Green will be the leading rebounder.

I mentioned that I expect the games to be reasonably close. The largest margin of victory will be 14 points.

Either of these two teams is capable of running up a high score, but each has enough defense to hold the other down to something reasonable. A 230 point combined score is a likely result.

Three point shots are the staple of both offenses. With that in mind, even in a 5-game series, the total will be in 3 digits. The prognosticator in chief (aka our tortoise shell female cat) says there will be 127 made 3-point goals in the series. Just for fun, I think there will be 322 attempted, but there's no payoff for that.

I'm looking for this to be a very good, competitive series, and one that fans will enjoy. For me the big night is June 22, when we find out what Danny Ainge has cooked up with the first pick in the draft. I will try to be at the draft party at TD Garden, but I'm due for a minor surgery on the 20th (removal of a cyst on my neck), so I might not be able to make it. We'll see how it goes.

posted by Howard_T at 11:30 PM on May 31

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

Sometimes a bad call by an umpire against your team works out in your favor. The Boston Red Sox tied a major league record for strikeouts in one game lst night, but it took an erroneous replay decision to set it up. My take is that for the plate umpire to see a batter being hit on the foot is very difficult, since you are often blocked by the catcher. The 3rd base umpire would have the clearest view, but he is positioned close to 100 feet away, and unless it is crystal clear, he will not usually make such a ruling. Chalk this one up to MLB's error.

posted by Howard_T at 10:40 PM on May 26

Left-for-Dead Celtics Beat Cavaliers in Game 3

Wife and I are off to game 5 tonight. Will it be a death watch over an expiring team or a miraculous recovery to earn them another appointment with the Grim Reaper? My prediction in the pick-'em was Cleveland in 6. My Celtics will reward my faith and support by hanging on tonight. If not? Well, at least it's an opportunity to drink some expensive TD Garden beer, see the rest of the season ticket holder group in Section 316, and send the team off for the last time this season.

posted by Howard_T at 05:00 PM on May 25

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

For those in dire need of something to commemorate.

posted by Howard_T at 04:54 PM on May 25

Left-for-Dead Celtics Beat Cavaliers in Game 3

We were having a late supper at home (beef with snow peas, bok choy on the side) and watching the game as we ate. At the half, I decided to clear the table and do the dishes. (My wife doesn't know how good she has it.) By the time I was finished, it was a 2-point game, and wife was screaming her head off. The local talking heads are all talking up Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and a few others, but some credit has to go to the coach. The plays he drew up at the end of the game worked perfectly. Both plays were such that they put confidence in players who had either not been shooting well in the game or had not had a major role throughout the playoffs.

posted by Howard_T at 08:12 PM on May 22

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

This guy probably showed up hoping the Cubs were playing. For the record, I have never had this happen when I was umpiring a game.

posted by Howard_T at 12:48 AM on May 21

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Third Round

It's time to make the prediction for the Eastern Conference and to take another look at the West. First, in the West, I said that Kawhi Leonard's defense would be the factor in the length of the series. Not that I will get any points for it, but Leonard goes down, Warriors go on an 18-0 run, and win a game in which they trailed by 25. No way this series is going past 5, and likely it will end in 4.

The game at TD Garden last night was all that a game 7 should be. It was close for the better part of 3 quarters, and then the Wizards' emphasis on double teaming Thomas began to leave too many holes for others (Olynyk for one) to exploit. Heavy minutes in the first half on the Washington starters was a contributing factor to their legs beginning to go late in the game. The crowd was loud and rowdy, the atmosphere was electric, and it was a great evening. Now Celtics have to face Cleveland. This one will bring a lot of people back to reality, but it won't be boring. Cleveland will win the series, but Celtics will make it interesting. Cleveland in 6, LeBron James to lead the scoring, and LeBron James to haul in the most rebounds. +1 +1

posted by Howard_T at 01:20 AM on May 17

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Third Round

I will leave the Eastern Conference predictions until I have begun to heal the very sore throat I will have on Tuesday morning. A game 7 in Boston is unlike nearly any other sporting experience. Yours truly and his son will be in Section 316, Row 5, Seats 9 and 10. It will be intense.

Warriors vs Spurs will not be the walkover it might appear. Much will depend on the health of Kawhi Leonard and his ability to defend Curry and company. The ultimate result is predictable, but the number of games and the props are not. Let's go with Golden State in 6, Leading Scorer Curry, Glass Cleaner Green. +1 +1 +1

posted by Howard_T at 11:17 PM on May 13

THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL

everyone has to play on both sides of the ball with no substitutions

This was the rule in NCAA football until 1941. As is the case in soccer, if you came out of the game, you stayed out of the game. Because of the shortage of skilled college players due to WW II (they were volunteering for military service), free substitution was allowed. The NFL followed suit in 1943. For the 1953 season the NCAA changed the rules to allow only 1 player to be substituted after each play. "General" Robert Neyland, then Tennessee head coach, hailed this as the end of "chickenshit football". This lasted until the 1964 season when unlimited substitution was once again allowed. During the era of limited substitution, the service academies were among the more successful teams. This was due to the physical conditioning required year round of the Cadets and Midshipmen, thus giving them more stamina than those who got into shape for the season and neglected conditioning otherwise.

posted by Howard_T at 12:28 AM on May 07

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I said that I thought of it as an alert.

I might think of it as an opportunity. It reminds me of a time about 48 years ago when a group of us, wanting to get out of the heat and humidity of Subic Bay, Philippines, decided to take advantage of a long weekend and drive up to Baguio, which is in the mountains north of Manila, We played a little bit of golf at the course that was maintained by the Air Force and stayed in the guest houses at what was then Camp John Hay. In the evening it was party time, so we decided on rum and coke. The problem was that the only bottle of rum the Class 6 (liquor) store had was Bacardi 151 proof. The 4 of us finished it in one evening, and trust me, there was no golf (and damn little physical movement) the next day. I would imagine that 190 proof Bombay Sapphire might have a similar effect.

posted by Howard_T at 11:00 PM on May 05

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I am watching the Red Sox vs Orioles game. There have been some "unpleasantries" between the two teams as a result of Manny Machado's questionable slide that injured Dustin Pedroia and the subsequent trading of batters being thrown at. It grew to the point that MLB called both clubs and warned that discipline would follow any continuation.

So tonight the Orioles' starter lost a slow curve that hit Xander Bogaerts on the hip. Immediate ejection followed, the Orioles were irate, and the Boston announcers were all over the plate umpire for not considering that there was no intent. While I agree that there was no intent, MLB put the umpire into a position where he could not use his own judgement. The problem is that if you let that one go, there is likely to be retaliation, and someone might get hurt. It's damned if you do and damned if you don't.

posted by Howard_T at 08:51 PM on May 03

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Now that we know what tbd stands for, it's time to make the final choice. The real question is whether or not Utah can steal a game from Warriors. I think a lot of us are going to look really dumb if Utah wins the series. Golden State in 5, Curry +1

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on April 30

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Church of Seeing the Future or something?

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

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 09:53 PM on April 30

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em: Second Round

Let's start in the East:

I will miss my first Celtics home playoff game in 3 years tomorrow. Church stuff has me tied up. My son will use the tickets. Nonetheless, I remain faithful to the Green. Boston in 7, John Wall There will be blood. +2

Cavaliers proved themselves against a game Indiana team. The games were close, but there really was no doubt. Cleveland in 5, LeBron James +1 +1

To the West:

The class will really be evident in this series. Spurs have it. San Antonio in 6, Kawhi Leonard +2

Golden State vs TBD pick is TBD.

posted by Howard_T at 12:56 AM on April 30

NBA Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Today

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

posted by Howard_T at 09:01 PM on April 26

ESPN laying off 100, including on-air personalities

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

posted by Howard_T at 08:43 PM on April 26

ESPN laying off 100, including on-air personalities

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

posted by Howard_T at 03:47 PM on April 26

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

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

posted by Howard_T at 12:23 AM on April 26

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

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

posted by Howard_T at 12:15 PM on April 24