Howard_T's profile

Name: Howard Titus
Location: Nashua, NH
ZIP: 03062
Gender: Old Alpha Male, hoping no young stud steals the herd.
Member since: April 08, 2006
Last visit: August 31, 2014

Howard_T has posted 35 links and 2675 comments to SportsFilter and 3 links and 265 comments to the Locker Room.

Sports Bio

Native Bostonian, with all attendant baggage still attached. Braves fan until they left for Milwaukee (yes, I'm that old), then it was the BoSox by default. Love all sports, but the favorites are baseball, hockey, football, and hoop, in that order. Used to umpire baseball at the Babe Ruth, Legion, and High School level. At my age, there are too many sports memories to really pick a favorite. Maybe it is Bill Russell's first game in Boston Garden. Another is the time when I was just back from Viet Nam and my dad took me to a Bruins game. This was in the glory days of Orr. Toronto was the opponent, they started 5 defensemen (really), and the fight started within the first minute or so.

Recent Links

The Big Guys Get Their Way: The NCAA Board of Directors has given the 5 big conferences what amounts to near autonomy to set their own rules. It appears that football teams will now be ranked from Division 3 through FCS and FBS, with the largest 5 conferences in a new division called the Juggernaut Division.

posted by Howard_T to general at 11:26 PM on August 07 - 0 comments

Celtics Guard, Lakers Exec Bill Sharman Dies: Bill Sharman, high-scoring guard for the Boston Celtics, and later coach and executive with the Los Angeles Lakers has died at age 87. In the championship years with the Celtics, the mantra "Russell to Cousy to Sharman", describing the Boston fast break, was the equivalent of baseball's "Tinker to Evers to Chance".

posted by Howard_T to basketball at 03:15 PM on October 25 - 0 comments

The Bridgetown Senators?: This from Christopher Stuart Taylor of the Huffington Post tries to explain a possible bit of Canadian tax evasion on the part of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. The dodge involves setting up business relationships between Canada and Barbados. The businesses will then be taxed at the 2.5% Barbadian rate rather than the 30% Canadian rate. While the author leads with a Senators' connection, the actual investigation conducted by the CBC has nothing to do with the team. I'm sure Melnyk is clever enough to keep purely Canadian businesses out of the "Bajun" connection. Note: No matter which side (Canadian or Barbadian) is puling a fast one here, I'm on the bad side. My dad was from Nova Scotia, my mom from Barbados, and I still have family in both places.

posted by Howard_T to hockey at 01:32 PM on October 11 - 0 comments

Johnny Pesky, 1920-2012: Boston Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky died today at 92 years of age. He had been associated with the team in one capacity or another nearly continuously since 1942. Pesky, nee Paveskovich, is most remembered for the right-field foul pole that bears his name in Fenway Park.

posted by Howard_T to baseball at 05:12 PM on August 13 - 6 comments

Big deals at the deadline; help or hurt?: Here is a team-by-team sampling of the in-season trades that had an effect on that year's pennant race. This year's deadline was about 15 minutes ago. Who did well, who did poorly, and who did nothing? I disagree with at least one of the author's selections, but I'll add that as a comment later.

posted by Howard_T to baseball at 04:14 PM on July 31 - 18 comments

Recent Comments

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

This is the nuclear physics version of "Kill the Umpire (and anything else that gets in the way)".

posted by Howard_T at 06:30 PM on August 30

New Yorker: The Twilight of Baseball

That and the fact baseball is no longer America's Pastime...

So let me tell you all about "the good, old days". (Stop yawning! Pay attention, there will be a quiz.) My real interest in sports began around 1947-1948, when I was 6 or 7 years old. In the fall there was football. Not professional football, but college and high school. Pick a high school team in eastern Massachusetts in the late 1940s, and you will find its stadium packed with students, families, and much of the local citizenry with little or no connection to the team other than living in the town. Come winter and there was ice hockey. The Bruins were the team to follow in New England, there were fans in Chicago, Detroit, and New York, but in the US that was all. Granted these might have been the glory days for the AHL and the old IHL, but still the appeal of hockey was limited. Our household was a baseball place, and the Boston Braves was our team, but then, my eldest sister dragged me to every Winthrop High School game of baseball or football.

Don't forget in the late 1940s the mass media was limited to radio and print newspapers. The national radio networks covered sports, but such coverage was limited to baseball, the major college football teams, and a note here and there about pro football, hockey, and what might be considered minor sports like track and field. Boxing was still a big deal and received a lot of press and air time. When you read your newspaper or listened to your local radio station, you read or heard about local sports, and coverage of professional sports was limited to the local teams. The rest of the world appeared in the agate type. Television was broadcasting, but TV was still a novelty, and most of us watched only on the black-and-white screen on display in the window of the local TV and radio store. ESPN? What's that?

Once the football season was winding down, the media was dominated by baseball. The "hot stove league" was covered deeply and widely, and this in an era when there was no such thing as a free agent other than those who were just becoming of age. Spring and summer were dominated by baseball. The major leagues, all 16 teams, had the media all to themselves, but the professional minor leagues and the local amateur teams received their share of coverage. If you were a sports fan, you were a baseball fan, you understood the game, you knew the players, the players tended to stay in the same city for an entire career, and the local team was "yours".

So what is the "National Pastime", if it no longer is baseball? Really, there is no single thing. Baseball has lost popularity because of the competition from the other sports. The game tends to be slow, without the more constant action of basketball and ice hockey or the violence of football. It is a more cerebral game, the nuances are not easy to understand, and those who are casual fans just do not look at the game in the same way as someone who has played or been closely involved at a fairly high level. Now that the magic of TV, satellites, mobile devices, and what have you has enabled us to be in touch with whatever team in whatever part of the world we wish to follow, we have that wonderful thing called "choice". We have a menu that rich and varied. No longer are we limited to one or two things, with the occasional rarity thrown in as an appetizer.

If Mike Trout walked into my neighborhood bar, I probably would not recognize him. I would recognize David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and several members of the Red Sox. Then again, if anyone except Tim Duncan, LeBron James, or several members of the Boston Celtics were to walk in, I wouldn't recognize them either. The point is, if you are a sports fan, you will favor one or two sports at the expense of the others. Within those sports you will have one or two teams that you follow closely. You will also follow the superstars, and if they do not get the closeup views of their faces in the media regularly, you won't recognize them either. Who and what you follow is your own choice, and the choices are now so broad that picking out more than a few is difficult.

So enjoy the era, sports fans. Follow whomever you wish, root for whatever sport and team you wish. America's National Pastime is now whatever you want it to be. Ain't it great?

posted by Howard_T at 12:07 PM on August 30

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 10

10 minutes to get this in. I've been threatening to do it all week, but somehow things have kept me from the keyboard at the critical times. Anyway, here goes.

Ottawa at Montreal: Alouettes can't find their way to a win, but Redblacks have the wrong color scheme for Montreal on Labor Day weekend. Look for Montreal to win a squeaker. Montreal by 3.

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: Ned Kelly, one of the roughest riders ever seen in Australia takes on the blue-coated bombers. Ned will win another round against the blue coats. Saskatchewan by 9.

Toronto at Hamilton: Argos go for a short trip along the lake and run into a bunch of kitties. Ticats have been declawed this season, and Argos are finding their stroke. Toronto by 6.

Edmonton at Calgary: The pretty good Eskimos take on the very good Stampeders. Look for the quadrupeds who run amok to keep the visitors frozen. Calgary by 16.

posted by Howard_T at 07:30 PM on August 29

Annual Patriots trade key piece right before season move

Aside from the "What is up with Belichick and Rutgers?" questions, I have 2 more.

1. What does getting a young tight end, supposedly a good one, but whose abilities were questioned a bit by his coach last week, mean with respect to the health of Gronkowski and Hoomanawanui? Spreading the entrails reveals an ominous sign.

2. Just who the heck is going to play LG?

posted by Howard_T at 05:29 PM on August 26

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

This is old news, but LeGarrette Blount, Le'Veon Bell, and a female friend were involved in a drug-related incident. No charges have been filed, but the police expect to file possession charges against all three, as well as DUI charges against Bell. I post this only because I am curious about something. After last season, quite a few Patriots fans were surprised that Blount was not signed by New England. He had been a valuable contributor to the offense, and his contract would not have been outrageously expensive. What my evil mind wonders is whether or not the Patriots knew something about Blount and avoided signing him just because of the possibility of this sort of problem. New England has become somewhat hypersensitive about these things since the Aaron Hernandez situation.

I realize this will give the NE bashers something to talk about, but I still wanted to put the thought out there.

posted by Howard_T at 09:30 PM on August 22

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 9

I promise there will be no bad puns this week. I think I exhausted my supply anyway. Looks like my picks were just about as bad as my puns. Perhaps we'll do better this time.

Montreal at Winnipeg: Last time they met at the Larks' nest, the Bombers prevailed by a single point. This time the Larks have to travel to the Blue Bombers' hangar. The Bombers have not been flying too high of late, but the Alouettes seem to be stuck on the ground entirely. Winnipeg by 8.

Toronto at Edmonton: Argonauts have shown some signs of life lately, but their schedule has been a busy one. Eskimos meanwhile have been mushing right along. Toronto could give Edmonton a battle, but between 3 games in 11 days and the travel to Edmonton, the Argos might just be a bit worn down. Edmonton by 14.

Calgary at Ottawa: Redblacks nearly pulled one out against Eskimos last week, but lost a close one. Calgary had an easy time with Ottawa at home in week 7, and there is no reason the rampaging quadrupeds should slow down on the road. Calgary by 11.

Saskatchewan at BC: Lions have roared their way to 3 in a row since losing to Winnpeg, although 2 of the wins were tight. Rough Riders have put together 4 in a row since losing to these self-same Lions. This one could be a dandy. Logic dictates Saskatchewan, but BC is due for a strong showing. BC by 4.

posted by Howard_T at 11:14 PM on August 21

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 8

Made it to VA without incident and spent today trying to find wife's ancestors. The Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg has a wealth of resources for genealogy, as well as staff members who are really helpful. Too bad they don't have anything on how to pick the CFL. We ended the day in a graveyard at the Bethel United Methodist Church in Stumptown, found wife's great great grandmother's grave there, and also found that the Fry family was among the most fertile in the area. Hope my CFL picks don't end up in a graveyard. So here we go.

Edmonton at Ottawa: 2 Eskimos were in a kayak for a day of fishing. They grew cold and lit a fire with the expected result. The kayak sank, proving once again you can't have your kayak and heat it too. Redblacks hope Eskimos sink the kayak, but they are likely to end up on the bottom. Edmonton by 12.

Calgary at Hamilton: A cat was charged with littering on the highway. The reason? She had kittens too close to the road. Stampeders will charge the TiCats with something worse than littering. Although Hamilton has shown some improvement, Calgary still has too much horsepower. Calgary by 9.

Montreal at Saskatchewan: Larks are supposed to fly. Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. Alouettes are having a really rough year, while the Rough Riders are having pretty smooth sailing. None of this makes sense, but picking Saskatchewan in this one certainly does. Saskatchewan by 22.

BC at Toronto: Argonauts shot down the Blue Bombers on Tuesday, just like I predicted. (Wait, I said Winnipeg would beat Toronto? That must have been an impostor, I've been hacked.) BC has had sort of an up and down year. If you were to jump off a bridge in Paris, you'd be in Seine. Trying to pick this game is driving me a bit insane. I somehow see Toronto suffering little or no ill effect from the short interval between games. Toronto by 5.

A person sent ten puns to his friends, hoping that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

posted by Howard_T at 11:52 PM on August 13

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 8

Going on vacation tomorrow. Driving from NH to northern VA (my wife will be searching ancestors' graves while I try to chase campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley), so I might not be able to get the pick in for Winnipeg at Toronto.

Here's the pick for tomorrow, and I'll get the rest in later.

Winnipeg at Toronto: Blue Bombers try to attack the big city by the lake. Will the Argonauts be able to sail before they are blown up? Winnipeg is winning in a stronger conference, and I don't expect a reversal of form just yet. Winnipeg by 6.

Stay tuned for further updates.

posted by Howard_T at 10:32 PM on August 11

Tony Stewart Kills Driver in Dirt-Track Race

Unless Tony Stewart decides to come completely clean and admit it was a purposeful act, the truth will remain unknown. Such an admission by Stewart is about as likely as my 2001 pickup truck winning a Sprint Cup race at Talladega. Regardless, whether or not Stewart bears any responsibility other than being a part of a tragic accident, his career in NASCAR will likely be threatened. His hot temper and impulsiveness will have to be completely cooled. The first time someone shunts him into the wall and he decides to try to duke it out in the pits will result in some pretty heavy suspension time and some pretty good dollars out of his wallet. It would not surprise me greatly if some other drivers put a target on Stewart's car, hoping not so much to wreck him but to anger him to the point that he attempts retaliation. From what I have seen of NASCAR, this sort of behavior is not outside the norm.

Fan reaction to Stewart will be a large part of where his career goes. Those who are his true fans will remain so, and excuse the incident as just a tragic accident that Tony didn't want to have happen. Those who dislike Stewart will be in full cry for his head on a stick. Those who are not passionate in one way or another will be the determinant. If the majority of them falls into the "he should have done better" camp, Stewart could be in for a hard ride. If it's the other way, then life will go on for Stewart, but he will still be carrying this every time he rolls onto a track.

posted by Howard_T at 04:40 PM on August 11

Red Sox owner Tom Werner has become a dark horse candidate to be baseball's next commissioner

Tom Werner could well become a disaster as Commissioner of Baseball. His work with Boston is an example of why this might be. Werner's ideas of making the Red Sox a prime sports attraction have little to do with making the team better. Rather, his ideas are all about "game presentation", the myth of Fenway Park's historical value, and selling the idea of coming to Fenway as an "in thing" to the pink hat group. After the 2011 late-season collapse and the Bobby Valentine debacle of 2012, the World Series win of 2013 was aberrant. 2013 was supposed to be a year during which the young talent developed in the minors while a few established stars (Pedroia, Ortiz, Ellsbury, Lester) gave the team enough cachet to keep the turnstiles moving. Somehow, the rest of the roster had career years, the AL East was weak, and the accident happened.

During the off-season, the decision was made to try to go "on the cheap" for 2014. Rather than keep Ellsbury, albeit at a high price, they let him go, Lester was offered an insult for a contract, the ensuing negotiations were a sham, and Lester was traded. They got a good piece for him in Cespedes, but how long will he be kept? Nelson Cruz was available at a good price, but Grady Sizemore was on the bargain rack. The results are obvious. Young players like Bradley and Bogaerts are playing regularly, but show signs of having needed more time to develop. This is true of the young pitching as well, as the results for de la Rosa and others show flashes of real talent along with much inconsistency.

I don't blame Werner for all of this, but John Henry does not have enough of a baseball background to be making these decisions all by himself. I doubt that Ben Cherington, Sox' General Manager, has the autonomy to make all these moves by himself, so it would appear that Werner has had a big part.

If Werner becomes commissioner, I can see every team having to have an annoying mascot that is given a feature role during games, each team will be required to have some sort of song used as an anthem at some point during the game, gimmicks will become the order of the day, and good, old-fashioned baseball will be secondary.

I think I'm in one of my "Get off the lawn, you damned kids" moods. It feels good to rant sometimes.

posted by Howard_T at 04:16 PM on August 11

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 7

Had a great week building a deck and ramp for a guy with Parkinson's Disease. 8 teenagers and 3 adults, nobody with a lot of carpentry experience, and we got it done in a week. We also put new skirting on his mobile home in the bargain. That being done, it's time to get back to the business at hand.

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg: Both teams are on 2-game win streaks, but Blue Bombers have the better record. On a per game basis, there is little to choose between the 2. I'll go with the home team to defend its airport. Winnipeg by 4.

Edmonton at Montreal: Eskimos are off to hunt the lark, and it looks like the Alouettes will be easy prey. The East is not having a good year, and Montreal is suffering. Edmonton by 14.

Hamilton at BC: The fur is flying and the howling gets louder as this cat fight gets underway. Here again, despite the difference in records, the points for and against of these teams is not greatly different. Lions are the larger cat, so that is the edge. BC by 12.

Ottawa at Calgary: The Redblacks are in for a long Saturday night trying to slow the Stampeders. Here is a case where the disparity in records clearly shows that there is no balance betwen the teams. The Redblacks will be the Black and Blues once the Stampeders have run over them. Calgary by 22.

posted by Howard_T at 11:03 PM on August 06

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Nice digs, Hugh. I spent the years 1973-'78 and 1980-'83 working at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, just a few miles down Ni Go Sen (Route 2) from Hiroshima. I was a big Carp fan then, and I still have a Carp baseball cap somewhere. A group of us from MCAS Iwakuni used to go to the games quite often. It was a good evening of baseball and beer drinking. Those were good days. The Carp won the Japan Series while I was there (I was at game 7), and one of our group was busted for DUI by a dummy police car. That last one is a long story, but it really did happen after a Carp game.

I just took another look at the photo. The new stadium looks really nice. The Carp were still in Hiroshima Shimin Kyujo (Hiroshima People's Ballfield) when I was there. It was just down the street from the famous Atomic Bomb Dome building.

posted by Howard_T at 10:02 PM on August 02

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 5

Dr. John, next week is the annual week of service for our church youth group. We'll be taking them to Kittery, ME, for a week of painting, repairing, building, or whatever else is needed in the community. I will be off the laptop for the week, so with your kind indulgence, I would like to put in my picks for week 6 right now.

Winnipeg at Hamilton: Blue Bombers drop their loads into the litter box. Winnipeg by 11.

Toronto at Montreal: No dominant team has yet emerged from the East. Perhaps this game will be the springboard for one to start a move. Toronto by 4.

BC at Calgary: Lions are hitting their stride, but Stampeders have been strong all season. The uncontrollable running quadrupeds should prevail here. Calgary by 16.

Saskatchewan at Ottawa: 'Riders, despite their futility, are still more than a match for the RedBlacks. Home field does not help Ottawa. Saskatchewan by 8.

posted by Howard_T at 12:08 AM on July 25

CFL Pick 'Em, Week 5

Looked at this on Tuesday, said, "OK, I'll take care of it tomorrow." Looked again on Wednesday. I was sort of busy, weather was hot and humid, and I figured I could do it Thursday. So Thursday I have to serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister at a funeral, then I have to shop for some stuff for supper, then the lawn isn't going to cut itself, and then I find out we have company for supper, so I have to cook a little more. I'm finally sitting down at the computer and turn the TV on, look at the guide, and discover that it's Thursday and there's a game today. How did that happen? Oh well, scratch that one. I'll just have to get the other 3 right.

Calgary at Edmonton: Way too late to call anything except the over/under will be more than 40.

Winnipeg at BC: Blue Bombers were flying high, but ran into some Eskimo anti-aircraft fire. This week they have to travel to face some Lions who have been sharpening their claws of late. One of my 3 cats is sitting and staring at me. I think he wants me to pick the Lions. OK, BC by 9.

Ottawa at Hamilton: The color confused from the Capitol broke their maiden last week against the crew from Toronto. They have a much tougher task this week, going on the road to play the cats of a striped variety. I'm still being stared at, so I have to go with the felines again. Hamilton by 15.

Toronto at Saskatchewan: The Argos have had their troubles this year, but then so have the Roughriders. So far, both have beaten Hamilton, but Toronto took down Roughriders in their first meeting. This time, the game is in Saskatchewan, and I believe it will make all the difference. 'Riders by 13.

posted by Howard_T at 11:52 PM on July 24

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

What are they Espys?

The Espys, or more properly, the ESpys, pronounced E Spies, are members of a super-secret group of intelligence gatherers who specialize in the electronics industry. The acronym of course means "Electronic Spy". The group is quite benign, gathering its data from news sources, research papers, professional journals, and interviews with those in the electronics industry. No cloak and dagger stuff here. The work of the ESpys has been critical in developing countermeasures against the electronic capability of nations that are hostile to world peace. As part of the effort to keep this group out of public exposure, ESPN has cooperated by naming a phony awards ceremony after the group, thereby giving good cover to the name.

In other words, if you don't have a good answer, make something up.

posted by Howard_T at 09:07 PM on July 17