Sunday, April 23, 2017

When Did Rajon Rondo Become the Villain

Rajon Rondo was one of the keys to the Celtics' 2008 Championship.  He was the de facto captain of the Celtics after KG and Paul Pierce were exiled to Brooklyn before the 2013-14 season.  During his Celtics' tenure, he was a troubled but transcendent star.  He would fight with coaches, and then lead the team in points rebounds and assists.  Even after he was traded to the Mavericks, we fans celebrated him because his trade brought Jae Crowder and a first round draft pick.    I personally have not thought about him for quite some time and when Rondo showed up on the Bulls this season,  had no idea how.

When the Bulls were struggling mid-season, everyone in Chicago wanted to trade Rondo (although they wanted to trade Butler too.)  Rondo was floundering, blaming Wade and butler and generally looking disinterested.

But then the 2017 Playoffs started and things changed.  Really changed.  After the Bulls raced to a 2-0 lead, all the credit was given to Rondo for playing like his old self.  Danny Ainge even lamented that they were seeing "Playoff Rondo."  People were comparing this Rondo to that of the 2008 and 2009 Rondo.  Huh?? 

Look, My Thumb is Fine
Then for reasons I still don't understand, Rondo broke his thumb and he was out of the series.  Oh well, I thought.  I really didn't think he was the reason for the Bulls winning or losing anyway.  I thought that his involvement int eh series was over.  Put on a suit, Rajon!!

And then during Game 3, after Jae Crowder was celebrating a made 3 in front of the Bulls bench, you could see Rondo stick his leg out as Crowder was walking by.  All of a sudden, he was vilified in this area.  C and G both remarked to me how much they hated Rondo.  And int eh span of about 30 minutes, they both asked me if I had seen Rondo trip Crowder.

And after Rondo was fined $25,000 by the league for the "Trip" everyone seemed glad that he was caught and punished.  Forget about the fact that he is saying that he plans to appeal that decision even though he really didn't deny doing it

To go along with this, the intensity of the games seemed to ratchet up.  Watch Game 4 with G and DLG, they are both wondering why the teams seem to be playing so hard.  Even Mike Gorman was saying that things were crazy. 

All this because of little Rajon.  Ray Allen is somewhere shaking his head.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Joe Kelly is the Key to the Red Sox 2017 Season

Would you believe me if I told you that Joe Kelly had a 19-8 record in his 57 games with the Red Sox since he was traded along with Allen Craig and a bag of donuts from the Cardinals for John Lackey.  Now his ERA and his WHIP are not that great, but at the end of the day, those statistics don't win games.

Kelly had spent his first couple of years as a starter trying to parlay his plus curveball and straight 95 MPH fastball into lasting success.  That success was not forthcoming and he was relegated to the bullpen at the end of last year.

As 2017 rolled around and Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith remained laid up (of course guys named Tyler and Carson are not the toughest), Joe Kelly's role went from after thought to genuine set up man.  Koji isn't here anymore and Matt Barnes is really not that good when the game is on the line, so Kelly inherited the set up role for Craig Kimbrel.  I'm here to tell you that Joe Kelly is now the key to the Red Sox 2007 season.

Now the Red Sox have not been know for having lights out set up men in their most successful of seasons.  2013 saw Junichi Tazawa set up Koji.  Where did Tazawa go anyway?  2004 and 2007 both say Mike Timlin as the set up man - For Keith Foulke and Jonathan Papelbon, respectively.  Now, he was a nice addition to those teams, but he was not a lights out reliever by an stretch of the imagination. He seemed like a guy you could get a beer with, but not the kind that you could have a stress free beer with.

But times have changed.  Set up men are becoming more important these days.  In fact, you'll see a team's best relievers be set up men who come in with the bases loaded in the 7th inning.  Andrew Miller is a perfect example of this in Cleveland.  Oh yeah, he used to be with the Red Sox...

This is where Joe Kelly steps in to be one of the most important players on the team.  The relief pitching is thin, and we need someone to come in in the 7th and 8th innings. Kelly has been on successful teams in his 6 year career.  He just needs to sustain his confidence and throw strikes.  I for one think he's going to do it.  And the Red Sox will make the playoffs because of it.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dave and Busters Redux Part 2

I will be the first one to admit that Dave and Buster's is one of the worst money-suckage enterprises in these parts.  You put cash upon cash into a machine and get points on a power card.  You then swipe the power card into various games and try to win tickets.  Since the first time I went to Dave and Buster's in Providence, I have seen them go from paper tickets to tickets held on your card, from a sports bar to an after work place to an everyman's bar and restaurant.  I've seen the games change and get more expensive, but it is still one of my daughter's favorite places.

When we found out that DLG was going to get all As for the semester, I decided that I would treat her to Dave and Buster's since it was only going to be the two of us for the weekend.  That and she had reminded me that I owed her one too since I picked up the boys from a half day at their school and brought them here a couple of months ago.  The deal was that I gave her 20 dollars for every A (80 bucks!) and let her have at it.  It was a quiet Friday afternoon at the Braintree location.  We practically had the place to herself when we got in there.

Personally, I wanted to see if she could actually win a prize that I would not be throwing in the garbage in the next couple of weeks.  Would 80 dollars be enough to get us there?  Probably not without a jackpot or two.

I tried talking her out of the claw games (Those never win!).  I tried talking her out of the games where you shoot coins to try to make them fall into slots that are then pushed into a bigger pile of coins (You know which one I mean).  I tried to move her into games that allowed you to play a little more, like Deal or No Deal or Monopoly.  To no avail.  We used optics strategy to get the stuffed dolphin out of the big claw game, and decided which watch to go for in the little claw game.  And I helped her by shooting coins simultaneously with her in that push the coins game.  We even played the jumping rope game which never turns out well for anyone.

The one prize I will not throw out in two weeks
She showed me her basketball prowess on  a couple of games.  I even swished a couple of long range shots (after the timer was you think she would let me shoot when it counted?  I also faked her out by showing her her report card and said that she only got 3 As; she owed me 20 bucks.  That went over like a lead balloon...

After all that, we ended up with 2500 tickets.  Too bad.  More crap galore.  Maybe some cheesy stuffed animals and some terrible candy was awaiting us since we did not win enough tickets to win any electronics.  Maybe some water bottles or some mini basketball hoops to go with the countless other ones that I've hidden from everyone.  I even tried to talk her into saving the tickets for the net time we came so she could get something really nice.  In retrospect, it is funny to think I could get out of the 30 minute shopping spree in a room the size of our kitchen.  This is her favorite part!  And I was not going to be able to cajole her out of that room any faster than she was ready to go.

34 minutes later (I'm guessing, I wasn't actually timing it).  DLG settled on some trinkets.  I thought we would be done quickly since she picked up a large stuffed dog for 2400 tickets, but then decided to put him away.  I was this close (pinching fingers together)

We walked out of there with a big smile since she was clawing at her new toys.  We grabbed some pizza since I gave her almost all of my cash.  Maybe next time she can use her own money?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Miami Beach Dreaming for Our 2017 Vacation

It started off as a Christmas Vacation to Tampa or to Mexico.  But life got in the way and we had to postpone to February vacation.  And the destination changed too.  Just a couple of hours south and east to Miami Beach.  Let's get started judging the days and nights of our 2017 vacation!

Saturday.  Our Allegiant flight from Portsmouth was uneventful.  And when I say uneventful, I meant long and uncomfortable.  The airport was small - but we didn't have to pay for parking - and there was really nowhere to go for eats or drinks, nor were there any places to sit.  That affected Mom more than me since she could not drink her fear away and her bad back was not cooperating with the floor.  Not to be outdone, the sight of all of the military personnel returning home was unnerving to me.  After a three hour flight of trying to read/sleep, we finally arrived in Fort Lauderdale.  Even though it was midnight, we did like our hotel in Oakland Park.  This night was a success.

Welcome to Miami...I think it says.
Sunday.  We drove our rent a car from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach to see our hotel.  It was a beautiful spot, the Fontainebleau on the mid beach.  Situated on Collins Avenue and 45th Street, the hotel was instrumental to many movies, TV shows and music videos.  Scarface, Frank Sinatra, Miami Vice, the Bodyguard and the Miami Sound Machine all filmed here.  The hotel elevators reminded us every time we took one to our room.  Now the Fontainebleau is our home away from home.  But first things first, we check in and immediately take our rental car and go see the University of Miami play a baseball game.  While this game is subject to another journal entry, suffice it to say, it was a good time seeing what life might be like for C or G if they go here.  We return for the first of our dinners at Pizza and Burger, quite frankly the only restaurant that we could afford.  This night was a success. 

Monday.  This was the first day where we were able to enjoy the pool and the beach.  I started the day walking along the boardwalk toward South Beach while Mom and the kids hung out at the pool; we decided that we would go to the Keys for dinner.  It was a relaxing day, although it seemed that G was relaxing a little too much.  To our chagrin, his temperature was high too.  The flu?  We weren't sure, but we decided that the Keys were a little too far, so we would drive to a restaurant nearby.  Or would we?  We walk over to the valet and after a 15 minute wait, we start getting uncomfortable.  I see our car, but everyone seems to be buzzing around.  "Sorry, we can't find your keys.  Do you need a ride somewhere while we continue to look?"  Jesus, really?  C and DLG are excited to drive around in the hotel's house car (remember, G is in bed sleeping his flu away), but I just worry about the fantastic prices were going to have to pay to Hertz.  We get back from dinner and the keys still were not found.  Jesus, really?  This night was not a success.

Tuesday.  DLG and I go for a walk to get breakfast and carpet cleaner (unfortunate Gatorade accident from the night before) and we come back to find out that the hotel still has not found our car keys.  And the elevation begins.  First to the Valet manager, then to the front desk, then to an account manager.  Finally, one of the staff gives us the COO's email address.  Email written!  Granted we were sitting by the pool sipping on cocktails while we were fighting the hotel, but still.  They lost our car keys.  And even though we were not going very far since G could not really get out of bed, it was still painful to be stuck in paradise.   Finally, during our second dinner at Pizza and Burger, the Hotel Manager comes to meet us and gives us the moon and the stars.  I guess their Yelp and TripAdvisor ranking would suffer?  This night was a success.

Sunset after the 5 inches of rain
Wednesday.  Mom and I go for a 5 mile walk down to the Lincoln Street shops to get Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts - there are only 2 Dunkin Donuts on all of Miami Beach for God's sake - sadly, we get back in time for the heavens to open up on us.  Monsoon rain and 40 mile an hour winds.  (Shaking my head).  We go to a place farther north to eat lunch and watch the kids play pool.  We then let the hotel drive us around to get some souvenirs and drugs.  By this point, G just has a cough, but can get out of bed.  We bide our time at the beach when the sun finally comes out toward sunset and go to Pizza and Burger one more time.  But this time, Mom and I just had a drink and watched the kids eat.  We were going out on the town.  To Havana 1957 for some Cuban Food.  Two Uber rides, 4 sangrias and two meat and rice meals later, we can say that we had our Cuban food.  This night was a success.

Thursday.  Long flight home.Zzzzz.

So of our 5 nights in Miami, we had 4 successful nights and 1 unsuccessful night.  Not too shabby considering we lost our car, had a sick child and lost an entire day to the weather.  And the hotel told us to come back again and they would take care of us.  Anyone want to go back?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why is Kevin Durant a Cupcake?

Cupcakes are a lovely treat.  I like chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting myself.  I also know that these soft, delicious treats are also used to denigrate soft athletes.  Think:  That running back is s such a cupcake going down without getting tackled!

That brings us to Kevin Durant.  New flash, Durant left Oklahoma City last year to join the Juggernaut Golden State Warriors, presumably to try to win an NBA championship.  Newsflash, Russell Westbrook was really upset about it.  Now who knows how much is overblown media frenzy, and how much is legitimate.  All we know is that Durant's homecoming was coming up.  Even the boys wanted to watch the game.  I wanted to after hearing that Durant hired extra security detail for the game.

How do Cupcakes work into this narrative?  Well, when Durant left for Golden State, Westbrook posted a picture of a bunch of cupcakes, in a thinly veiled shot at Durant's "softness."  The cupcake nickname has floated around Oklahoma City for years as a way to call out teammates who were acting like crybabies.  The cupcakeKD moniker took off from there.  Honestly, I don't know how the cupcake picture took off, but here we are. 

As game time approached, cupcakes were becoming THE thing.  Cupcake T-Shirts were handed out with large cupcakes on them.  Guys dressed up like cupcakes started popping up.  Guys painted their chests into cupcake colors.  T-shirts were being made and sold.  The home crowd started chanting "Cupcake, cupcake"  Particularly when Durant and Westbrook started to trash talk each other were the chants alarmingly loud.

It wasn't much of a game though.  Golden State took the lead in the middle of the first quarter on their way to a 130-114 victory.  And oh yeah, Durant scored 34 points to overshadow a 47 point,  rebound effort from Westbrook.

Take that cupcake-hater.