Recent Comments by holden

Manchester United Fires David Moyes

According to the League Managers Association, the average tenure of current Premier League managers is 1.88 years. The crazy thing is that, assuming this is just a mean average, this drops nearly a full year if Wenger (currently at 18 years in the job) steps down or is let go. The lower tiers of League Football are not much better (and League One is actually worse, at 1.76 years).

posted by holden at 01:50 PM on April 22

Bench-Clearing Brawl Between Pirates, Brewers

Maybe the Pirates can be the new Official Arbiters of Baseball's Unwritten RulesTM now that Bryan McCann is no longer with the Braves to team up with Chris Johnson as Enforcers of the CodeTM.

posted by holden at 02:49 PM on April 21

UMass Basketball Player Says He's Gay

Maybe, but being out to a group small enough to keep it secret isn't generally what people think of as out. What you're describing is the "people who know me have known this for years" manuever.

I was thinking more along the lines of someone who is not being secretive about his sexuality and/or is not deliberately keeping it to a smaller group, and is genuinely out to anyone who was paying attention, but simply is under the radar because he is part of a smaller community without national sports exposure (say, someone who goes to Brown or Portland or something) and chose not to make an announcement on Twitter. I don't think there's an absolute "size of the group in the know" or "taking affirmative steps to broadcast it to the world" rule to being out.

Of course, it's basically impossible to fact check. Just was surprised that the media was so quick to christen him the "first openly gay D-I athlete" basically on his own say-so.

posted by holden at 12:06 AM on April 10

UMass Basketball Player Says He's Gay

Good for him, but curious how he (and the media) knows he is the first out male D-1 basketball player. Maybe the first to publicly announce it via Twitter, but it does not strike me as outside of the realm of possibility that some kid at a smaller D-1 basketball school (there are nearly 350 of them) has been out at his institution and/or among his teammates, family and friends and nobody really gave a shit or made a public announcement about it.

posted by holden at 03:35 PM on April 09

Some Indians Fans Are De-Chiefing Their Gear

Reading the comments thread at that ESPN article (I know, I should know better) is depressing.

posted by holden at 09:30 AM on April 04

Through Thick and Thin

Good read. I know some of my favorite teams of the clubs I support (i.e., team year within a particular club/franchise) are ones that maybe came up a bit short of, or not even close to, winning everything or anything, but either had enjoyable personalities, good collective spirit, or other attributes that did not necessarily lead to winning.

posted by holden at 12:45 PM on March 31

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera agree to 8 year extension

This is like the Pujols deal (and boy, did the Cardinals dodge a bullet on that one) -- paying a player for what he has done and not what he is likely to do. That said, if baseball is really as flush as is being reported right now, and revenues continue to go up, the $30MM per year may not be as crippling in 4-6 years when he really starts to decline as it looks now on paper.

posted by holden at 01:23 PM on March 29

Teen Wrestler Loses State Title, Hugs Opponent's Dying Dad

In a sporting world in which it's more likely that someone like [Player X] makes the headlines for [cheating | holding out for more money | assaulting his wife/girlfriend | slaying hookers | using drugs | etc.] it's refreshing to see such an outstanding example of true [sportsmanship | class | grace | etc.].

posted by holden at 04:41 PM on March 15

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Seeing as how the college seems to have knocked off Paul Bunyan depictions that predate their mascot, not sure they really have the moral high ground here. In the U.S., I doubt you could even get trademark or other protection for a character of this type based on it effectively being in the public domain.

posted by holden at 09:02 AM on March 14

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

Re the Olympic hockey -- I wouldn't read too much into a team's performance over two games in a single elimination tournament (or even the four games that preceded it). It's a fun little tournament, but it is basically a crapshoot once you get to the semis. The U.S. just looked flat in the Canada game, and today seemed to be the classic third-place game syndrome (which obviously didn't affect Finland, though); they just looked completely uninterested and like they could not get on the plane fast enough. Would love to see U.S.-Canada or any of the other possible combos with the semifinalists over best of 7.

posted by holden at 11:29 PM on February 22

Derek Jeter to Retire From Yankees After 2014 Season

While I would say not-so-classy to announce and effectively ensure yourself a farewell tour, Mo Rivera did it, so no grounds on which to question the class of athletes who elect to do this.

posted by holden at 03:40 PM on February 12

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I thought the men's hockey started tomorrow. Guess the confidence pool is out.

posted by holden at 03:30 PM on February 12

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I suck at Excel and can't find any free or easy-to-use confidence pool sites online (the qbert72/drjohnevans joint from years past appears to be out of commission), but would love to participate in an Olympics hockey confidence pool with SpoFites. Anyone got the time or wherewithal to set one up?

[I tried doing it manually/via Excel for Euro 2012 and it basically worked, but involved a bit more manual processing than I care to do because I am bordering on spreadsheet illiterate.]

posted by holden at 11:41 AM on February 12

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

NFL team helmets redone for the Star Wars universe: AFC and NFC. (Although missed a golden opportunity by not using Boba Fett or another bounty hunter for the Saints.)

posted by holden at 11:53 AM on February 05

Seattle Wins Super Bowl 0x30

Quick, Al Davis -- sign Malcolm Smith!

Apparently, this is the first game in NFL history in which one team's point total equaled the 13th prime number and the other team's total was the cube of the 1st prime number.

posted by holden at 09:49 AM on February 03

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Super Bowl-a-Geddon Edition

Denver by 6
D. Thomas +1
K. Moreno
M. Ball
P. Manning
No interceptions
M. Bennett
T-Mobile Tebow Ad (dude just wins, ok?)
48

posted by holden at 03:51 PM on January 31

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Arsne Wenger is upset that Chelsea are selling Juan Mata to Man U after they've finished playing Man U. That just comes off as sour grapes to me. Is there some sort of Gentleman's Agreement you have to risk losing to your former player when making a transfer among the big clubs?

If you look at his actual quotes, I think it is bit more of a criticism of the length and timing of the transfer window generally (with a "Veeeeerrrrry curious that they did not sell a week ago" thrown in for good measure). But absent the EPL adopting a winter break between Game 19 and Game 20 and having a transfer window coterminous with that break, not sure there is really any way to ever make it completely "fair" (in terms of some team or another being seen as being advantaged or disadvantaged based on the timing of the move and the number of head-to-heads with the transferring and buying teams).

posted by holden at 05:37 PM on January 23

Ex-Agent: Ryan Leaf Blew Chance to Go No. 1

And then there's Mike Brown who now says that he wanted to draft Kaepernick but was talked out of it. Where were those persistent voices when the Bengals were falling under the draft day spells being cast by Klingler and Akili?

I've often wondered where Kaepernick's career would be had he been drafted by a team other than the 49ers. If he was drafted by a team with an entrenched starter, I wonder whether he would have gotten the opportunity to start by now (he obviously had the chance to play Gehrig to Alex Smith's Wally Pipp in SF). If he was drafted to be a starter, as may have happened had the Bengals taken him instead of Dalton (who went the pick immediately prior to Kaepernick), would the offensive coaches there been able to use him/unlock his talents the way SF's have? I think he ended up in just about the perfect place to succeed, both by virtue of the team he ended up on (and its offensive philosophy) and then the fortune/misfortune of Smith's injury.

posted by holden at 11:14 AM on January 22

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

I was thinking weird use of "son" there. I actually have sons and agree, though.

posted by holden at 05:54 PM on January 19

Broncos Overwhelm Patriots

Prior comments may be moot if Denver keeps playing this soft prevent (way too early, in my opinion).

posted by holden at 05:51 PM on January 19

Broncos Overwhelm Patriots

Pats offense has looked a bit out of synch all day, but have been pretty impressed with Denver's defensive game plan and execution. Really have not given up the big plays, which is aided by the fact that NE really does not have anyone who can stretch the field (notwithstanding the shot for Slater earlier in the game).

And Welker as Bernard Pollard, who'd a think it?

posted by holden at 05:50 PM on January 19

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Division Round-a-Go-Go Edition

Saints by 3 +1
Patriots by 7 +1
Panthers by 3
Broncos by 13 +1
Wes Welker
Shane Vereen
Eric Reid

posted by holden at 11:20 PM on January 10

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Whore Slaayer.

posted by holden at 04:45 PM on January 07

NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Wild-Card-a-Palooza Edition

Colts by 8, +1
Saints by 7, +1
Bengals by 3
49ers by 7, +1
Andrew Luck, +1
Jamaal Charles
Junior Galette

posted by holden at 08:36 PM on January 03

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Yikes. $18m per year for the first three - if all or most of that is guaranteed, the Bears panicked hard.

He wasn't even their most effective QB this year. The money is definitely out there for Cutler on the open market (too many teams with long-term shitty QB situations), but it seems pretty quick to have taken all other scenarios off the table. At least entertain other possibilities until free agency is looming - it's not like there was much of a discount at this stage anyways.

Looks like (from some reports) about $50MM is guaranteed. Not sure how that gets spread out in terms of cap hit, but if this basically just guarantees the first three years, seems a reasonable gamble (based on the going rate for starting QBs and the fact that the only real alternative in the near future would be to draft a replacement, as there is not a ton of movement of top-tier QB talent on the free agent market anticipated) as they could restructure or cut him after that.

I think it's pretty difficult to get a clear read on Cutler considering his offensive line woes, injuries, and instability in consistent offensive coaching/approach/weapons during his time in Chicago. Seems ownership and the personnel folks/coaches think that he has potential to be a top 5-10 QB with full health (a big assumption), improving line, emergence of Jeffery as a legitimate second threat behind Marshall (or maybe even 1A and 1B), continued top-level, all-purpose back performance from Forte, and further development and implementation of Trestman's offensive philosophy.

If you look at the top QBs by average annual salary, this puts Cutler about 6th (tied with Romo) at $18MMPY, behind Rodgers ($22MMPY, $54MM guaranteed), Ryan ($20.75MPY, $42MM guarnteed), Flacco ($20.1MMPY, $29MM guaranteed), Brees ($20MMPY, $40MM guaranteed), and Peyton Manning $19.2MMPY, $18MM guaranteed). Of course, the guaranteed money seems, based on current reports, to be higher than his peers -- and the cap hit/flexibility over time from the guaranteed money (depending on how structured) obviously can be much more important.

Notable players behind Cutler in average annual salary and who have played out their rookie contracts are Stafford, Eli Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Brady. See list here. Obviously, most of those guys, as well as some guys on team-favorable rookie deals, are presently better than Cutler and likely to be so for at least the next couple of years (although all except Stafford -- who is still only 25! -- are also older than Cutler). But once Wilson, Newton, and Luck, and possibly RGIII and Kaepernick (in each case, depending on how he comes along over the next year or two) sign their first non-rookie scale deals, Cutler probably will be around the 10th highest paid QB. The question I guess is whether Cutler will play like a top-10 QB to justify where he slots in. Seems like he could be, although jury is still out -- but seems like the Bears brass is making a bet that Cutler will improve under the new offense and with greater stability. Although I live in Chicago, not a Bears fan, so no real dog in this fight so to speak, but I think the deal borders on being defensible (assuming a number of things fall into place, which I appreciate is a big if) and it will be interesting to see how it works out.

posted by holden at 02:03 PM on January 02

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Maybe it's because I watch too much football, but the quality of announcing, and particularly analysis appears to be declining.

I think it's like expansion in the major sports -- digging deeper into the talent pool means a decrease in the average level of that talent. There is so much football on TV now, between all levels of college and every NFL game, that I think they have had to move a bit down the talent spectrum to get announcing crews.

posted by holden at 11:52 AM on December 31

Browns Fire Chudzinski After Only 1 Season

I don't think he should've been canned though. If you fire a coach you just hired a year ago, doesn't that mean the GM should be fired as well?

Not that it necessarily changes your point, but Chudzinski was hired before the new GM was brought in.

posted by holden at 03:11 PM on December 30

Former Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher Fights For Life

Hope he pulls through. Even more tragic considering that he came out of an exceedingly high-risk profession unscathed.

posted by holden at 03:00 PM on December 30

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

As much as I would like to see Sparty win next week (just to continue the theme of chaos), has anyone here seen Michigan State's offense?

posted by holden at 10:41 AM on December 01

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Should have used "Yinz."

posted by holden at 11:26 PM on November 17

Breaking Real Bad: Inside the Sam Hurd Drug Case

15 years is way better than life, but still insane.

posted by holden at 09:59 PM on November 13

Breaking Real Bad: Inside the Sam Hurd Drug Case

A great read if you want a concrete example of what's wrong with our drug laws and mandatory minimums.

posted by holden at 10:55 AM on November 13

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

Oregon is Clemsoning.

posted by holden at 11:25 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

I know why workplaces enact rules. Lawyers make them extra careful. But are you in favor of Incognito being punished for using a racial slur even if everyone who heard it said it was a jocular moment without insulting intent? This wasn't something he did publicly. It was in a voicemail to one person.

No, I don't think Incognito should be retroactively punished for violating a bright-line rule relating to racial slurs that was not in effect at the time it was breached (and likely never will be enacted, for reasons you have set forth). Ex post facto and all that stuff. As noted above, however, I do think that teams or the league should think about taking steps to formally ban certain behaviors/actions/types of talk to ensure this situation does not arise in the future and so that they have a clearer legal basis for taking action of the type the Dolphins did here.

I think the voicemail was in exceedingly poor judgment at best and threatening at worst (and it goes well beyond just the use of racially-charged terms), and sounds as if it was part of a pattern of repeatedly creating or contributing to a harassing environment, which is the reason I think Incognito was (and should have been) punished. I suspect the Dolphins suspended him not necessarily because this was "beyond the pale" (my words from above), but largely because they wanted to cover themselves from a liability standpoint and because they probably have broad cover to do so under a "conduct detrimental to the team" clause in his contract. Good outcome (from my perspective), even if the motivation was somewhat self-serving.

I'm not going to shed any tears for Incognito -- by many accounts he is a dirty and disrespectful player that opponents have suggested aims to injure. In a bizzaro circumstance of "protecting one of their own" which only comes about because another of "its own" was not protected by his team or teammates, I am sure the union will try to make sure Incognito gets paid under his current contract. If he does not get another contract offer after this "character assassination," I will view that as largely of his own doing. My guess is that he makes some public apology and gets another job; in the NFL (as with many other professional sports) you can usually find at least one team willing to value talent over character.

posted by holden at 06:31 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

Do you really think a blanket prohibition on variants of the N word is going to stop its non-antagonistic usage among young black athletes and some white ones in their social circles? If not, the end result will be occasional players punished for commonplace behavior, based on whether the outside world caught wind of it.

No, I think it is unlikely to change general usage in the culture at large, but that's not the point. The point is, allowing it in a workplace is really downside only from an employer's perspective. Putting aside the issue of homophobic slurs (which, as a somewhat tangential aside, while presumably not used as "terms of affection" among young people, also regularly show up in the same music in which racial slurs are used in a non-racial-slur sense), take the example of sexual overtures. In the non-workplace world, one is free to, and it is presumably commonplace to, hit on members of the opposite sex (or the same sex) and even to outright sexually proposition them. And to do so in the workplace is not per se illegal. But most employers rightly prohibit this type of behavior at work, even in a joking manner, without requiring a look behind how someone takes it, because the risks of turning a blind eye to that type of thing are just too great. I don't think they do it with any expectation of changing the culture at large or prohibiting lawful private behavior, but because it is just a bad policy from an employment law and risk perspective to let that go unchecked in the workplace.

posted by holden at 04:59 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

The people involved. If Martin or anyone else who heard a racial slur was offended, then it's a big deal. But if not, not. I think a blanket rule about specific words is less likely to be well-enforced than if a situation is judged in context. The NFL should just ask everybody involved in this conflict what went down, and either punish or exonerate, as quickly as possible.

I think it is easier to have a blanket rule that frankly would not result in much loss of camaraderie or loss of any meaningful social good than to rely on self-reporting when it has clearly been established that speaking out is likely to result in character attacks and being ostracized. Sure, it might be unpopular and/or difficult to enforce, but it seems the social good of a blanket prohibition would outweigh any benefit of continued use of racial slurs even when not intended as racial slurs. And, not that you have applied this logic to the homophobic slurs side of the coin (which you have elected to ignore), but I think this logic really starts to fall apart when you think about homophobic slurs in a locker room/team environment and the possible resulting adverse consequences in terms of inculcating an environment in which gay players could really never feel comfortable.

posted by holden at 04:11 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

A form of the racial slur is in countless hip hop songs and is used colloquially in a friendly manner by many young people among themselves. I think a blanket rule against using it in the NFL is likely to run head first into that reality, particularly given how many players are black.

Art/entertainment and social media/social interactions inhabit or occur in cultural spaces, not workplaces. I am all for the right of people to say whatever they want, to present it in their creative outputs, etc. But I see no reason to condone or accept behavior that is okay from a first amendment standpoint in a workplace, even one as idiosyncratic as that of an NFL team. I appreciate that these things may come out in the heat of battle (and, if a player is unlucky enough to have a mic or lipreader pick it up, we have seen some of them fined for it), but as an employer you have the right to set rules of conduct for your employees and I think this should be one that is deployed (and one that it is in the interest of teams to deploy, from a legal liability standpoint).

If an NFL player calls another player that in a context that is not taken as offensive by the people who heard it, I don't see why it should matter to anybody else.

But who's to say someone has or hasn't take offense? I think this situation has effectively proven (via the outrage over Martin allegedly violating "the code" -- i.e., the sanctity of the locker room) that even if someone is offended, they likely would not pipe up about it. If we use my other example of baseline rules and apply this logic and assumption (that no one is offended, so who cares?) to homophobic slurs, you get a line of thinking that is certainly conducive to a locker room culture in which gay athletes would never even think of coming out.

rcade: There aren't many businesses where workers are trained to physically brutalize each other and they face debilitating injuries every day they go to work.

grum: The armed forces?

This article by a former marine is a good read. While the comments suggest that the enforcement of the Marines policy may leave a bit to be desired, at least they have a policy.

posted by holden at 03:34 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

Given how strongly worded your comment was, particularly the passage I quoted, I think I gave it a fair reading.

Look, I won't quibble on your intent. I will just say I feel you read what I wrote to erect a strawman (NFL workplace = all other workplaces and should be governed by all the same rules) into my statement that was not there, and missed a key qualifier.

If there are basic rules that should apply to this situation, what are they, specifically? I think context is everything here, even in the infamous voicemail. A lot of people think Incognito should be drummed out of the league for using a racial slur in a threatening voicemail. But what if neither side thought it was a threat, and what if teammates say that slur was thrown around in a joking manner often?

How about no use of racial or homophobic slurs under any circumstances, for one? Who cares if it is done often? It has no place in civilized society and certainly should not be condoned (or have a blind eye turned to it) in any workplace. That is just an issue of human dignity/human decency. Also, federal laws addressing workplace harassment as relating to hostile work environments. I suspect if Martin wanted to pursue a legal case here (and maybe that it his last best chance for a big payday if he does not want to or will not be able to continue a career as a professional football player), this will get settled out and we probably will not see a court/jury try to struggle through the concept of applying these laws to the football context and determining whether Martin was part of a protected class, but I would probably not want to be arguing the Dolphins side on that one.

I'm not saying Incognito should be run out of the league for this (although I am sure some are). The norms and ways of football culture are what they are at this point and should be taken into account when judging his actions. I just think they should change -- not to the same level of behavior expected in other workplace contexts, but to a level that is compatible with 21st century standards of general human behavior.

posted by holden at 02:33 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

Comparing football to other businesses is silly. There aren't many businesses where workers are trained to physically brutalize each other and they face debilitating injuries every day they go to work. And nothing is as physical in football as playing on the line.

rcade -- I was not trying to suggest that the same rules apply to all workplaces. Obviously, what goes on and is acceptable in a law firm is different than what is acceptable in a military platoon or a football locker room. However, as noted, I think there are some basic rules that should apply across the board and, in this case, seems that even a fairly low generally-applicable baseline has been breached. I suppose one can dispute that the specifics in this case breach some subjective and mythical baseline standard, but to take what I wrote as suggesting that the NFL should be held to the same standards as all other work places is a misreading at best and disingenuous at worst.

Also, and this point is made in the Grantland article I linked, if the NFL clearly (or even from the standpoint of perception) has a problem with its employees' mental health and with violent tendencies spilling over off the field, seems some efforts should be made to address the factors that contribute to that and to try to limit those (to the greatest extent possible) to on-field brutish behavior only. I appreciate that it is not possible to simply flip the switch on and off on this stuff, but the NFL and its teams can and should do a better job of addressing that. Just because this type of behavior is fairly widespread does not mean that that's the way it must be and should continue to be.

posted by holden at 01:45 PM on November 07

Incognito and Martin: An Insiderís Story

Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a bit of a well-polished smear job, from a guy who, while professing to be friends with Martin and Incognito, actually seems to have only ever played with Incognito (at college and in the pros). Maybe Murtha really is objective and has no axe to grind, but when the most you can muster in terms of balance is that Incognito's only mistake was to use the N-word, seems a bit suspect to me.

I am sure a lot of this is being overblown -- calling the ask/demand for $15k "extortion" is a bit rich (as is the hyperbole that Incognito's threats are or should be criminal offenses), and this article provides some additional context for that Vegas trip piece of it. But, as observed by (noted philosopher) Jim Schwartz in connection with previous hazing incidents and repeated more recently, at the end of the day the NFL and each NFL team is not a fraternity, but a multibillion dollar business. Why some pretty basic rules of civility and workplace behavior that should be observed in all businesses should not apply because football is "a man's game" is beyond me and is complete and utter bullshit. I don't care about the broader context of Incognito's voicemails and whether Martin originally viewed them as a joke or what have you (there are a lot of victims of bullying or abusive behavior who will make light of it to try to ingratiate themselves with their tormentors), some of this stuff is just beyond the pale.

I think this article by Brian Phillips at Grantland does a good job of addressing the "man up" response this whole things seems to have engendered from a number of players, talking heads, and assholes with Twitter accounts.

posted by holden at 12:33 PM on November 07

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

That was the best run I've seen all year, just great. He also had a couple runs up the middle where he seemed to warp space-time and appear at the other side of a mass of tacklers for a ten-yard gain. Amazing performance.

The run by Lamar Miller on which he got the ball punched out inside the 10 was actually a pretty great run, too (up until losing the ball of course), although Bernard's was incredible.

posted by holden at 11:10 AM on November 01

Red Sox win the World Series.

Given that at $3M/WAR, Mike Trout would have earned about $60M over the last two years, why the hell WOULDN'T you sign that contract? Because math is hard? I dont have a math degree, but at $30M/yr, I'd happily calculate and double check Trout's compensation for a mere 1% handling fee.

Incentive-based contracts are already pretty rare, and typically deal with playing time incentives for players who are massive injury risk. Achievement-type incentives other than playing time are typically for things like All Star appearances, home run or batting titles, etc. and typically add marginal comp to the overall deal (i.e., are not a major component of overall compensation, but more token bonuses).

The primary reason this will not be done is because a contract is an attempt to balance risk in a kind of veil of ignorance/original position state. With fully guaranteed contracts, the club is at risk that players break down and are unable to play or unable to play to expectations (the crazy thing about this Cardinals team and the run they were able to make is that they paid Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, and Jason Motte approx. $24MM this year in the aggregate and none of them played a single game -- and each of them, save Motte, would likely have been a pretty significant upgrade over his replacement). The player, on the other hand, takes the risk that he will majorly outperform his contract and thus have left money on the table. So the parties try to find some fair middle ground that protects the club from the downside risk of the player underperforming/not playing (while giving the club the upside of potential overperformance) and the player takes the sure thing of a guaranteed contract knowing that if he ends up getting injured (even career-ending), he will get paid his guaranteed amount (but taking the downside risk that he could end up underpaid relative to performance).

posted by holden at 10:16 AM on November 01

Red Sox win the World Series.

Hats off to the Red Sox. Pretty impressive to win a third World Series in a decade, with very different personnel than the first one in 2004.

As a Cardinals fan, I am happy to have seen two World Series wins in the past 10 years (witnessing the clinching of one in person and going to at least one game in each of the four World Series the Cards have been in since '04), and think they will be competitive in the coming years. I do feel bad for Beltran, who I think likely will not be back with the Cards. Seems like a guy that deserves a WS ring.

posted by holden at 12:47 AM on October 31

Red Sox Win Game 5, Go Home to Fenway

If Pedro has only been here for '99 and 2000 he might still be my favorite Sox player. And you need to remember he also brought that same wonderful sense of personality to the park. And you need to remember he also brought that same wonderful sense of personality to the park. People talk about certain players as "Appointment Television", that you plan your week to see them. Pedro's starts were more like being in prison: there was no chance you were going anywhere for anything.

I was a grad student in Boston in this period, and remember going through the schedule periodically during the season, figuring out when Pedro would pitch, and then getting tickets for just those games. These were the days back when you could actually buy tickets the day of games, or certainly within a couple weeks of a game (with the obvious exception of Yankees games and a few other marquee matchups). Best thing was that if the game was against lower tier or unsexy competition (saw a lot of A's, Rays, and Twins), the pricing was such that you could get decent seats for about $15. I think I saw about 15 games at Fenway from 1999-2002, and Pedro probably started 12 of them. I remember that every game he pitched, there was always a groan in the crowd when he gave up his first hit or walked his first batter, because the sense was always that today might be the perfect game or no-hitter.

posted by holden at 09:48 AM on October 30

Red Sox Win Game 5, Go Home to Fenway

Yeah, my heart couldn't take a game 7

I don't know if my kids' trick-or-treating plans can take a Game 7, but I am hoping we will have to adjust their Halloween schedule.

posted by holden at 01:39 PM on October 29

Red Sox Win Game 5, Go Home to Fenway

Ortiz has been unconscionable this series. Just an amazing performance.

Last night was probably the first game that did not have some weird, fluky, or sloppy play or highly questionable managerial decisions (you could argue Matheny should have pulled Wainwright at the first signs of trouble in the 7th, but I think if there's one pitcher on the Cardinals staff you stick with in that situation, it's him). Just a good, tight ball game with two starting pitchers who were really bringing it -- with the exception of the two doubles in the first inning and then Ross in the 7th, did not seem that there were many hard-hit balls off of Wainwright (and he obviously had the curve working for strikes) and Lester obviously threw an excellent game. If this does go 7, the Red Sox will be idiotic to not pitch Dubront in Game 7, as the Cardinals have continued to struggle with lefties (their battering of Kershaw in Game 6 of the NLCS notwithstanding).

posted by holden at 09:17 AM on October 29

Red Sox Win Game 5, Go Home to Fenway

I just have a feeling this thing has to come down to a Halloween Game 7.

posted by holden at 11:32 PM on October 28

Cards Win Game 3 Through Game-Ending Obstruction Call

Eh, some decisions. Matheny has gotten a lot of criticism for bringing in a ground ball pitcher instead of a strikeout pitcher to face gomes. He was hoping for a double play. If he gets it, brilliant call.

When Maness faced Gomes, there were two outs. Not sure why Matheny went to a ground ball specialist when the guy at the plate Ks over 30% of the time.

posted by holden at 06:29 PM on October 28

Red Sox Even World Series at 2

If I remember correctly, he was pretty pissed later on when he found out it only counted as a single.

Not as pissed as some Vegas sports books that supposedly started to pay out the "over" bets (over/under for the game was 7.5 runs) only to find out that the game actually officially ended 4-3, and not 7-3.

posted by holden at 04:58 PM on October 28

Red Sox Even World Series at 2

The thing that I love about the World Series above other championship series is that, save travel days, the teams play every day. Just fun to watch a series go back and forth and know that they'll be back at it the next night, with last night's narrative (crazy obstruction call!) quickly being replaced by tonight's (pick off to end the game!).

posted by holden at 10:57 AM on October 28

Cards Win Game 3 Through Game-Ending Obstruction Call

Saying that the Red Sox have thrown away two games, while technically true, also undersells the Cardinals' efforts/actions in getting in a position for that to happen. Getting runners on base and then the double steal in Game 2, getting 2nd and 3rd with one out vs. Uehara last night, although one of those runners was Workman's. (Although sending Molina was questionable, it, coupled with Craig advancing, obviously put pressure on Boston's defense.). It seems to me that the focus on the deciding play obscured some really questionable managing by Farrell (obviously mentioned by a couple of folks above, though).

This series is actually reminding me a bit of the 2006 Cards-Tigers series, where I think Tigers pitchers had at least one error in each game. Just has been kind of weird and sloppy, where sloppy plays have decided or contributed to the outcome of all 3 games (as a Cards fan, I will be somewhat delusional in thinking that Game 1 would have gone differently had Wainwright gotten that double play to get out of the first with no runs, rather than the Kozma error).

I will say that the ending of the game last night, as noted above, was bizarre from a live fan experience in terms of just trying to figure out what happened and how to react. Reaction was generally "Oh no!" followed by fireworks out in centerfield followed by "Woooo? I guess?" My two oldest sons can tell their kids someday that they were at the only World Series game decided on a walk-off obstruction call, cause I bet it ain't happening again. What a weird and beautiful sport this can be.

posted by holden at 08:26 PM on October 27

Cards Win Game 3 Through Game-Ending Obstruction Call

I was at the game last night and must admit it was the most bizarre ending to a game I have experienced personally (duh). The crowd really didn't know what to make of it -- instead of the standard eruption you get on a walk-off, most people seemed pretty confused (followed by being pretty happy, obviously). For what it's worth, I saw Joyce point out the obstruction right away (I was on the third base side, just past the bag in the lower level) and knew that Craig was probably going to be awarded home (although honestly thought it was automatic, without reference to whether the run was likely to score -- although I do think healthy Craig likely scores on that play without the interference, not sure about current Craig).

What's a shame is that lost in this is that Allen Craig actually had a monster 9th-inning clutch hit off of one of the best closers in baseball (who seems to be bordering on unhittable at present); shame that the indelible memory of him from this 9th inning will be of him stumbling and bumbling down to home. My abiding memory of that game, aside from the 9th, will be the squandered opportunities of the Cardinals. They had a man on third with no outs in two different innings (including once with the bases loaded) and failed to score each time. Exciting game, but not a particularly well-played game.

posted by holden at 09:08 AM on October 27

Six Degrees of Kevin Garnett

No self-linking, grum.

posted by holden at 11:28 AM on October 24

Red Sox Take Game 1 Over Cards

That would be such an enormous risk to take it's hard to imagine him doing it.

Anyone remember Kenny Rogers in Game 2 of the 2006 World Series? Discussed in length here in your obligatory trip to the SpoFi archives.

For the record, I doubt anything was amiss with Lester.

posted by holden at 11:26 AM on October 24

Red Sox Take Game 1 Over Cards

In some ways, I think a drubbing like that may be easier to bounce back from than a close loss turning on a bad play, a walk-off, or something of that nature. It also stands to mention that the Cardinals obviously did themselves no favors; it's not like they ran into a juggernaut that just dominated every phase of the game -- they committed 3 errors (including one that could have potentially gotten them out of the first with no runs allowed), left quite a few opportunities on the table (bases loaded with one out, second and third with two outs), etc. But the Red Sox obviously acquitted themselves quite well, and Cardinals pitchers are going to have to think about their approach vs a line-up that is obviously willing to be patient and work counts. Still think this one will go 6 or 7.

posted by holden at 11:19 AM on October 24

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

grum@work has apparently been reduced to code.

posted by holden at 04:20 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

Interesting game, for sure. Indy seemed to take the Patriots circa early-to-mid-2000s strategy on how the DBs approached Manning's receivers -- lots of clutching, grabbing, and physical play that, for the most part, went uncalled. Indy's pass rush also took advantage of Denver's patchwork offensive line, and Manning did not look real comfortable in the pocket all night.

posted by holden at 01:05 PM on October 21

Red Sox Advance to Face Cardinals in World Series

That's a great story, beaverboard.

How about this kid John Icci, who handles the 8th inning? He from the North End?

posted by holden at 09:23 PM on October 20

Florida State Crushes Clemson, 51-14

Bad night for Tigers -- at one point last night I flipped over from LSU losing on a FG to Victorino's GS to KO the Detroit nine and then went in search of a competitive sporting event only to stumble across Clemson getting stomped by FSU.

posted by holden at 03:33 PM on October 20

Red Sox Advance to Face Cardinals in World Series

I was at Games 3 and 4 of the 2004 World Series, which was both a bummer (as a Cards fan) and pretty cool (from a baseball history perspective). Am thinking it will be a bit more competitive this time around. Have not seen anything written on this, but off the top of my head I think the only player on either team still around from that series is Ortiz. Chris Carpenter was on the Cardinals that year but was not on the playoff roster due to some nerve impingement or something (not surprising) that flared up towards the end of the 2004 season and he sat out this year injured.

Looks like I will get to go to Game 3 or 4 this year and take my 5 year-old son and 7 year-old son (together with my wife and her parents). Hope they will appreciate just what a special thing this is (although likely not for a couple of years). It actually will be the second World Series game for my oldest, who slept through Game 3 of the 2006 World Series (Tigers at Cardinals) as a 9 month-old. I married into some pretty sweet season tickets; single guys (or gals), add it to your "marriage material" checklist.

posted by holden at 02:59 PM on October 20