Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boston Yanks and Their Tuesday Night Game

There has been a decent amount of talk about the NFL's first Tuesday football game since 1946. 64 years ago.  Many critics of the timing point to the fact that Tuesday is usually an off day for teams and players - after the game and the following day’s walkthrough and film review.  Everyone who reports on it likes the idea that these rich football players have to play on a Tuesday night, but not many talk about the circumstances behind and the results of that last Tuesday night game played on October 1, 1946.

Courtesy of Bowman
 Boston, MA. 1pm.  After heavy sustained rains in Boston the day before, the originally scheduled football game (which was to be the season opener for both teams) between the Boston Yanks and the New York Giants was postponed because the field (to be played at the Boston Braves field) at what is now Boston University’s Nickerson Field, was considered unplayable after those rains.  The original game was scheduled for a Monday night instead of the usual Sunday scheduling.  It is unclear why a game back then was going to be played under the lights on a Monday in the first place.  Our research shows that Monday games were rare back then, and obviously TV was not much of a consideration to the timing of the game.

Well, in any event, it ended up not being much of a game. The New York Giants truly dominated the Boston Yanks, winning the game 17-0 before about 16,000 dreary and wet Yanks' fans. Giants' running back, Merle Hapes scored on a 3 yard rush in the first quarter and an 8 yard run in the fourth quarter to account for the game's only touchdowns. Ken Strong accounted for the Giants’ remaining points after a 36 yard field goal in the second quarter. The game was not even that close, however, as the Giants outgained the Boston Yanks 271-139.  To add further humiliation, the Boston Yanks' quarterback Paul Governali could only muster 27 yards passing after only completing only three of 18 attempts. To his “credit,” quarterbacks for all teams in 1946 only completed 46% of their passes. (Mark Sanchez was truly from a different era!)

By all accounts, really, this was a lousy game for the Boston Yanks; and as a precursor to modern day complaints, the Boston Yanks' owner, Ted Collins (who wanted to have the team in New York so badly that he still named the team the “Yanks” despite Boston being the team's home. (Imagine rooting for a football team named the "Boston Yanks.")) regretted having to move the game to a Tuesday night as fewer fans showed up and team lost a "boatload" of money.  In the end, the opener for the team was a portend of things to come in that 1946 season as the Boston Yanks that season managed only two wins, only besting the lowly Detroit Lions who went 1-10 that year to finish in last place in the NFL West Division. Despite only tying the lowly Yanks later on in the season, The New York Giants wound up 7-3-1 and lost to the Chicago Bears in the 1946 NFL Championship game.   Despite his good fortune in that Tuesday night game, Hapes was prohibited from playing in the Championship Game as it was discovered that he was offered a bribe to throw the NFL Championship game. He never played another down in the NFL. The issues surrounding Hapes also led to the institution of teams having to report their injuries to the league during the week so that gamblers would not be able to pay for inside knowledge – everyone was playing from the same deck.

Incidentally, the Boston Yanks franchise moved to New York after the 1949 season and then became the Dallas Texans in 1952. Although through team and player transitions the teams were not mirror images of one another through their myriad of cities and nicknames, the original Boston Yanks in 1953 became – aghast! – the predecessor to the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts. I’m sure if Bill Polian were running the team back 1946, the rules for that game would have been changed to benefit the Yanks.

Personally, I wish the NFL were on every night during the season.  Not just on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

C's 2010 Christmas Blog

This year was a lot different in the JMR household than last year.  Last year at Christmas, between Disney and the Nick Hotel, we tried to find Tiger Woods and attended a Celtics game in Orlando.  And as we're sitting watching the blizzard outside, cleaning up the house from flattened candy, ripped cardboard and wrapping paper, we're reminded of why a Florida Christmas was so enjoyable.  But for the kids, Christmas here this year was just as enjoyable as sun and fun last year.  Here is C's version of A Christmas Story.

At Christmas I got up at 2am to see the presents and I saw that I got an XBox 360 Kinnect.  Then i woke up my brother and we woke up mom and dad. Then we went to our stockings and dumped them out and me and my brother got gift cards for Dunkin Donuts and Burger King. Then we opened all of our presents under our Christmas treee and after a little while we went to our Grampy's house and opened more presents and saw our cousins. I felt really happy when I saw my cousins and all my family members.

I got a really cool football from Caity and Cassie, my cousins, and a basketball hoop and snowboard from my wicked awesome parents.  My favorite present of the whole entire day was the XBox 360 Kinnect.  You can control it with your body.

When we were riding home we played a little bit with our presents and my sister fell asleep.  And when we got home, I played with the XBOX and Wii.  The End.

[under duress:] To me, Christmas means giving and being with your family.  It means spending time with my family -- esepcially Grayden and Sumner and Mom and Dad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Washington D.C. for Children Who Get Bored Easily

Going to Washington D.C. for our family vacation seemed like a good idea at the time.  I had gone once when I was in school and again a couple of times for work.  The City was interesting and vibrant, or at least that's how I remembered it.  I figured that my children would like it just as much as I did, although they are just 7, 5 and 3 years old.  But who doesn't like watching how money is made or going 50 stories high in a giant pencil.  Who doesn't want to see where the President lives?

The first mistake we made was to drive down there.  When I had driven those previous times, it didn't seem that long.  But this time I was the parent and the driver.  Before I was the child and someone drove ME.  Well with young children, even leaving at 3am didn't stop the complaining about being hungry and having to go to the bathroom.  But you never have to go to the bathroom at 4am at home!  I countered when my 7 year old stopped me as we were barely out of Massachusetts.  My first word of advice - fly down there.  Dulles and BWI might be expensive, but believe me its worth it.  I really didn't have an excuse as both Southwest and Jet Blue fly there pretty cheaply.

The second mistake we made was to stay at a hotel that had attractions of its own.  In our case, it was a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool.  (At this point, I'd like to confess that we did this during the summertime, I'm just getting to this now, though.)  We also booked adjoining rooms, and for some reason the kids got a big kick out of it.  Even after they went through the double doors a couple hundred times.  I would advise that you stay the Hilton or the Westin - both are in the Capitol area

The third mistake was to decide to walk around the city although it was around the Fourth of July holiday.  Washington D.C. is really, really hot in the summer and there is hardly any relief in site - unless you count the Capital City Brewing Company restaurants that dotted the D.C. landscapes (or at least did when we were down there).  I would suggest driving around to the outskirts to go to Georgetown, the Washington National Zoo or the Washington National Aquarium.  Otherwise, if you're staying around the historic downtown, consider the Metro and cabs.  I regret all of the sweating that we did.  Although if we didn't walk around, we never would have seen MM's favorite "Lost" Character, Desmond jogging around our hotel and the capital area.

Washington D.C.  Day 1 Itinerary.  I suggest going around the Mall on the first day.  My kids really enjoyed the Washington Monument (I would suggest that you take the elevator to the top, but you have to wait in line forever to get tickets, so get there early and wait for a later time), the U.S. Capital building (to meet our U.S. representative - but stay away from the tour, that's a real snoozer) and the Smithsonian Museums.  Our favorite Smithsonian Museums were the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space Museum.  The other ones we visited were a little dry for our tastes.  Unfortunately, I could not convince anyone to go to the National Museum of American History.   While you're at the Monument, I would suggest pointing to the White House and talking it up.  If you have time, try to go see the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to witness how money is made.  It's pretty cool for children who don't understand the value of money.

Washington D.C.  Day 2 Itinerary.  This is the day that I would put on your walking shoes, or some extra money for cabs.  Figure on starting with the more historical sites north and west of the Smithsonian Mall.  Travel past the Monument to the reflecting pool.  Here you can go to the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial (this is a must see) and the Lincoln Memorial.  Walking east, you then can stop at the White House.  Try early to get into the White House through your U.S. representative.  You will be hard pressed to get in there though unless you are part of a large group or you have connections (neither of which we had).  You can still get pretty close to take some pictures. 

Then start walking further east into the Foggy Bottom area.  Here you can go to the International Spy Museum (great for older kids, but NOT teenagers.  Teenagers will hate this and you so don't bother paying the steep admission), the Newseum (we liked the glass walls that have the headlines from all of the world's newspapers), Ford's Theater (although all we could do for some reason was walk around the lobby and the gift shop on the day we went) and the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.  After a long day of walking, you can take the kids to one of the many restaurants in the Foggy Bottom Area.  Incidentally, we went to the ESPNZone and we hated it.

Washington D.C.  Itinerary Day 3.  This is when you should take a sightseeing tour.  The kids will be done with walking (and perhaps with you) at this point, so I would suggest that you go into one of the open air buses, like Open Top Sightseeing.  This way you can visit the outlying areas like the National Zoo, Washington Cathedral, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Jefferson Memorial.  Skip the Aquarium here and go to you local one instead.  The kids will likely be more interested in the bus they are riding in than the sites, but they are in an enclosed space, so you don't feel that you have to keep a leash on them.

Overall, you can do most of Washington D.C. in three days, so long as the family doesn't mind long days.  I know after a couple of our days, those beers at dinner tasted awfully good.  It made me forget that really weak chair gimmick that ESPNZone had in their restaurant. 

Oh crap.  Now we have to drive back!  Pass me the Nintendo DSs quick.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boxing Hall of Fame's Most Interesting Induction - And It's Not Iron Mike

The Boxing Hall of Fame has really outdone itself this time.  In a year that features Mike Tyson as one of the inductees, the Hall of Fame may have actually shot itself in the foot with its most controversial inductee.  Similar to putting Paul Newman into the Hockey Hall of Fame for starring in Slapshot or Oliver Stone for directing Any Given Sunday, The International Boxing Hall of Fame has chosen Philadelphia's own Rocky Balboa to its 2011 class being inducted in June 2011. 

Well you say its not really Rocky Balboa, but actually Sylvester Stallone, who has become even more of a cartoon character than the one he's played in six movies since 1976.  He even parodied himself AND his character by coming out of retirement in 2006 after an upstart title holder made fun of him in a video game recreation.  While mostly critically acclaimed, it was clear that Rocky Balboa was just a much needed payday for Stallone - I guess he has a lot more in common with fading boxing superstars than I thought.  Interestingly, the justification for his induction was the great contribution he made to the sport of Boxing with his Rocky series.  Did the Hall of Fame committee forget to watch Rocky V while making their decision?

Maybe Stallone is being inducted instead for being one of the executive producers of The Contender?  Just kidding, that show did nothing to contribute to the sport of Boxing.  But I guess I can't blame the International Boxing Hall of Fame on this one.  Boxing has lost significant market share to the UFC and MMA over the last couple of years as the octagon has become more mainstream.  The Boxing Hall of Fame must also be hurting as a result.  Located about 30 miles east of Syracuse, the IBHOF's board must have thought that the combination of a little bit of Hollywood and little bit of controversy would only bring people into the turnstiles.  In fact, I might even go to Canistota, New York during the induction ceremony in 2011 because you know Hall of Fame visits are a staple for JMR.

My oldest son was listening to me talk about how ludicrous the whole Rambo idea was when we started talking about Rocky IV, one of his favorite movies (believe it or not).  I'm sure that he realizes that Stallone's not really boxing in Rocky IV. (In fact a couple of the punches in the movie were so bad that I cringe now just thinking about it.  I'm convinced that I could throw a better punch than Dolph Lundgren.) 

After explaining what Rocky was being honored for, I asked him what HE thinks about Rocky being enshrined:

"Well he beat up a Russian guy because that guy killed his best friend."  All right, I like the sound of where this his headed.  I ask him to continue.

"I remember that they fought in Russia and that the Russian guy was really tall and Rocky was really small.  And the Russian guy could lift a bunch of weights in a gym while Rocky had to pull horses and run up mountains to train."  Meanwhile, in real life, Stallone was probably shooting himself full of steroids to get jacked up for the role.

Listening to an 8 year old talking about it, Rocky IV was really a ridiculous movie, but still a lot of fun.  But C isn't done.

"I remember that everyone hated Rocky in the stands, because the Russian guy could lift 300 pounds.  But then they started liking him once he began to beat the Russian up."  Real front runners those vodka-sipping commies! 

Seriously, the original Rocky was a classic sports movie, with a plot that was retread four times by Stallone and his production company.  Rocky Balboa, the last installment of the franchise, was grittier and more enjoyable, but that was barely a sports movie.  It really had nothing to do with Boxing.  Inevitable questions are now going to be made about other boxing characters - Raging Bull, Ali and Million Dollar Baby come to mind.  And imagine Kevin Costner being inducted into both the Golf Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

The funny thing?  We're talking about this (and I'm writing this) while watching the UFC 124 Countdown on Comcast Sports.  I guest the International Boxing Hall of Fame has a long way to go to regain my interest.

Photographs courtesy of imdb.com

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can You Tell the Difference between Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth?

The news of the day, which will be replaced by even more startling hot stove news tomorrow, was the Red Sox' secret meeting with Carl Crawford and his agent in Houston earlier today.  The usual media outlets are fighting it out over whether the Red Sox should pick up Carl Crawford or should they sign the Phillies' Jayson Werth for the seemingly vacant Outfielder's job in 2011.  Mike Cameron and his kidney stones are probably doubling over in pain at the thought that 25 games into his Red Sox career there is already a clamor to replace him.  But nevermind, who would you rather have Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford?

Crawford is a speedy leftfielder who has absolutely killed the Red Sox over the last 7 years, ever since his 2003 rookie campaign in Tampa Bay.  He would be good complement to Jacoby Ellsbury, who would tickled pink to be moving back to Centerfield despite his mysterious broken ribs.  The concern, of course is that Crawford already joins a lineup that showcases numerous 15 - 20 home runs and 75-90 RBIs guys, including Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and JD Drew.  The Red Sox do not necessarily need another 2 or 6 hitter, they need a clean up hitter who could hit 35 home runs.

Werth seems to make a little more sense when you simply look at his place in the lineup.  He would make a good fit in the 4 or 5 hole sandwiched between Ortiz, Youkilis and whomever the Red Sox get to replace Beltre at Third/First Base.  He has slightly more power than Crawford 27 vs 19 in 2010.  But his numbers suffered considerably from his breakout 2009 season.  Considering he is 32 years old, is this a signal that he is slowing down in this post steroids era?  Further, he plays RIGHTFIELD.  Notwithstanding Werth's agent Scott Boras proclaiming Werth as the next coming of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, Werth is still a Rightfielder.  Where is J.D. Drew going to play (I can't believe I'm asking that)?

As I listen to the radio arguments, I couldn't decide who I would want either.  So I asked the boys who they would take.  I merely extracted Crawford's statistics and Werth's statistics and had them choose without knowing what players they were choosing from.

Player 1:
2010:  184 hits, 30 doubles, 13 triples, 19 home runs, 90 RBIs, 47 stolen bases
Career:  1480 hits, 215 doubles, 105 triples, 104 home runs, 592 RBIs, 409 stolen bases

Player 2:
2010:  164 hits, 46 doubles, 2 triples, 27 home runs, 85 RBIs, 13 stolen bases
Career:  684 hits, 138 doubles, 15 triples, 120 home runs, 406 RBIs 77 stolen bases

After careful inspection, I was able to elicit the following brief responses from the boys (who were annoyed that I wouldn't tell them who the players were in the first place)

G: "What does career mean?  Whatever, I like Player 1 because he has 184...ummm...what do you call them?  Oh right, hits.  And he had 215 double in his career.  I only had five in my career."  (and those were grounders between the three second basemen and the four shortstops in his little league game)

C:  After pushing his brother out of the way.  "I like Player 1.  He would lead the Red Sox to the World Series.  He has a lot of home runs, hits and stolen bases, especially 1480 hits in his career.  And Dad I know who you're talking about.  He's on the Marlins isn't he?"  He was proud of himself, although he got the team wrong.

As you can see both of the boys, simply looking at the statistics, both like Crawford.  As I'm writing down the statistics, I have to admit that the numbers are tough to argue with.  Crawford has been consistent for years compared to Werth and the comparison of their career stats bears that out.  Despite Werth being a character (see Werth's beard) and the Red Sox could use some interesting character in the clubhouse to loosen things up, Werth could easily turn into a seven year contract that the Red Sox regret two years in.  Meanwhile, Crawford would likely flourish in Anaheim/Los Angeles or in New York.

And with Crawford in the fold, that's one less player to steal 5 bases a game against the Red Sox.

The verdict is in.  There is a big difference between Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.  Their slugging and other power statistics are not so much different that Crawford would be seen as a liability in the Red Sox lineup.  But Crawford fits the Red Sox need in Left Field and adds dimensions of speed and defense that that management also appreciates.  I'm in the Crawford camp.