Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why is Golden State a Hot Ticket in Boston?

I was fiddling around on StubHub earlier tonight looking at tickets for tomorrow night's game between Golden State and the Celtics.  I figured that maybe I could get a couple of inexpensive tickets in the Loge section and take the boys.  Before I could even close the laptop so the boys would not see what I was doing, I say that there were 300 tickets left and they started at 75 bucks.

75 Bucks!?!  For the Golden State Warriors?

In contrast, the games next week all have over a thousand tickets and start at 20-40 bucks.  What the Hell is going on?  Needless to say, I was going to pass on going to this game.  But it got me wondering.  Are the Warriors this year what the Clippers were two years ago? Is Friday night that much of a draw?

Back in 2010-11, I did the same thing for a game between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.  I wanted to see if I could get cheap tickets and take the boys.  Instead, I was faced with ridiculous prices to see Blake Griffin and the boys (the was before Chris Paul and Lob City came to town).  I passed on that game too.  Is Golden State reaching those same heights?

The Warriors are only 8 games over .500.  While they are in the playoff hunt, they are light years away from competing with the Clippers, the Spurs and the Thunder.  Their best player, Stephen Curry, while a great shooter, will not make you forget about the other stars in the NBA.  And the fact that he scored 54 points in a loss to the Knicks last night emphasizes this point.  The Warriors still have a ways to go.

To add to this, the Warriors' starting Center will likely be out of the game because he was suspended for fighting in the game a couple of nights ago against the Pacers.  And Richard Jefferson and Harrison Barnes don't make anyone forget about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  The team does not have any other recognizable stars that would draw fans to the game.  So what is it?

Maybe it is the draw of a team that comes to town once a year.  Maybe its the draw of a decent team that has a little bit of an edge to them that brings the fans out.  Maybe its the fact that a Bay Area team is finally doing well and thus is drawing transplants to Boston to this game.  I mean I'm looking to go to this game too. 

It certainly isn't the Celtics that are drawing us to the game.  This is close to a lost season, but we'll get to that some other time. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are the Red Sox Really a Last Place Team?

The 2013 Red Sox season is going to be interesting.  I just hope it is in a good way.

We know about the Yankees.  Tampa Bay has the strongest starting rotation in baseball.  The Orioles somehow snuck into the playoffs last year, and while I don't know how they did it, they were there.  And the Blue Jays, while losing their manager, gained Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.  They are going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.
And this leaves the lowly Red Sox.  Just 5 years removed from their appearance in the ALCS, the Red Sox have now become the laughing stock of the American League. They blew the largest lead in September history while losing out on the playoffs during the ill-fated fried chicken cabal of 2011.  Their manager was let go in disgrace amid drug rumors.  Their former manager has written a tell all book that exploits the Red Sox crusty side.  They have employees and former employees embroiled in drug issues.  Their World Series hero from 2004 is bankrupt and trying to sell that bloody sock (both figuratively and literally).  To make matters worse, the team absolutely stunk up the league last year and woebegone joke of a manager Bobby Valentine "led" the team to a 69-93 finish, making all of us remember fondly the days of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

But 2013 is a new year.  New manager John Farrell has vowed to make things different.  And with additions of "clubhouse" guys like Johny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, some pundits are now trying to talk themselves into John Lackey regaining his 2002-2007 self, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester coming back from terrible seasons and David Ortiz continuing to defy his age.  Add to that the return of the Drew family to Fenway, and the Red Sox have assembled a mish-mash of role players and young players mixed in with some cagey veterans.

Spring is right around the corner.  And the Red Sox are now down in Florida at Spring Training.  It's different this year though.  There isn't the anticipation and craziness following the Red Sox all around.  With the Celtics and the Bruins both playing decent ball (puck), the Red Sox now take a back seat to those sports until the playoffs are over.  Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster will have to wait.

And while Tom Werner and the TV guys are probably fretting over the fact that there is no buzz surrounding this team - and in fact many are predicting a last place finish again - the players and manager are probably excited to be the cast-asides expected to finish 5th in the Division.  Lower expectations mean that they will have nowhere to go but up and maybe they can even sneak up on some teams.  Really, how good are the Orioles anyway?

In fact, this team reminds me of a certain team from the mid 90's.  This team I'm talking about didn't really do anything in the 5 years leading up to their super season.  They were led by some stars, some rookies and some role players.  They had very good pitching buoyed by some outstanding seasons from veterans as well as strong performances from young pitchers.  This team was led by a manager who really didn't have much success but seemed like a good fit for this team.  The team was full of good clubhouse guys who kept things loose in the clubhouse.  Yes, I'm talking about the 1996 New York Yankees.  The 2013 Boston Red Sox, if the veteran pitching comes through and the young players like Will Middlebrooks, Xander Boegaerts and Jose Iglesias show a little life and David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia continue their excellence.  Maybe the Red Sox have a chance.  I'm talking myself into this season already.

This will be the last time I compare the Red Sox to anything the team to the South does.  But it is fitting.

Join us over the next couple of weeks as we discuss the most important player for the 2013 Red Sox season.  It would surprise you to read what I think.

Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 NBA All Star Game Makes Me Shake My Head

It's that time of year again.  Three Point contests, skills challenges and celebrity basketball games.  All culminates in the All Star Game.  A ridiculous display of wealth, and barely a lick of basketball is played at the all Star Game.

No one really tries that hard and its all about who can flash as much bling and ridiculousness.  It's kind of silly after all.  A couple of years ago, we watched the game and was astounded at the lack of defense and overall hustle.  Aren't these guys competitors?

Craig Sager starts the festivities with his disco themed sports coat and tie.  I guess no one takes this game seriously.  Even his colleagues are making fun of him tonight.  It's not as bad as the faux army uniforms that the players are wearing as warm up jerseys, including badges that represent the number of all star appears they have made.  To make it even more embarrassing, the Eastern All Stars salute as they are introduced.  Even the boys are shaking their heads and I'm not sure they see the irony. 

I think it's Ne-Yo making them shake their heads, after all.  He's terrible...but at least he's singing live.  I'm embarrassed to watch this.  Beyonce is in the crowd shaking her head..."See?!?"

The Western All Stars have a lot of star power, too.  Even Kobe Bryant was cheered, it must be the All Star Game.  While rocking the army-inspired uniforms, they show enough class not to salute (or perhaps they didn't get the text message from LeBron?)

8:45pm.  The boys both want the Eastern Conference to win, even though all of their favorite players are in the Western Conference - James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and CP3.  If Paul Pierce were playing, I'd probably want the Eastern Conference to win, too - even though LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are detestable human beings.  But I'm rooting for the Western Conference to win too.

Bosh with the air balled three pointer to start the game for the Eastern Conference.  Here we go.  KG misses two shots to start his last All Star Game.  Yikes.  KG will be sitting on the bench shortly, I suspect.

"Why aren't they covering anyone?"  C asks as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin execute a pick and roll that had neither a pick nor a roll due to the lack of defense.  And then Bosh with his second air ball.  Time for him to grab some pine.  At the end of the first the West is winning by five.

Fast forward to the end of the game as LC takes over the remote control, completely disgusted by the lack of basketball prowess shown by either side.  The West is winning 108-104 as the Fourth Quarter starts.  The Eastern Conference cannot overtake the West as Kobe Bryant blocks a LeBron jumper (In your face!) and Chris Paul dishes out 15 assists.  It was exciting at the end with the teams getting a little more feisty for the last 12 minutes.  Still not enough to overcome the lack of effort in the first 36 minutes.

Maybe next year...

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Search Of...Dwight Howard and How He Ruined Two Teams

Dwight Howard has really screwed this up, hasn't he?

When news first broke that Howard had been traded in a massive deal involving Andrew Bynum being shipped to the 76ers and Andre Iguodala being traded to the Nuggets, the boys were excited.  They weren't exactly sure why, but they knew that something big had happened to the player that they adored ever since our first trip to Orlando back in 2009.

No graffiti to be found
When we arrived back in Orlando last month, I was half expecting Howard to be vilified in the city that called him a hero for 5 years.  His Lakers' career had started with a lot of fanfare and a fair number of losses.  Would Orlando take pride in the fact that their disgraced hero had failed in Los Angeles?  I was determined to find out - sleuth style.

I went to the same posh shopping center that I went to when I searched for Tiger Woods back in 2009.  What I saw when I walked into the court yard was a huge photo of Howard endorsing Adidas right outside of the Adidas store.  I found it funny that it was a picture of him dunking a basketball just liked he dunked himself out of Orlando last off season.  Although this is an exclusive area right off of International Drive South, I was expecting some graffiti - perhaps some crutches or a cast on his arm.  Nothing.

Another Howard product doing well
His endorsements remained in tact.  Pictures of him with McDonalds and VitaminWater were also present with nary a scratch.  Is this the most polite city sports fan base in the country - or the most apathetic?  I was astounded.  Here Howard had done everything but piss on Mickey Mouse caricatures at Disney World on his way out and the fans allowed his remaining legacy and pictures to remain unscathed?  You know how I felt when Josh Beckett was sent packing to LA.

But back to the Lakers.  I watched the game against the Celtics a couple of nights ago.  Kobe Bryant admonished Howard the night before (as Pau Gasol went down with a plantar) because of Howard's less than stellar record of playing through pain and injury.  Now as the primary big man, Bryant made Howard play.  Howard ran around like the superman he liked to call himself, but any time he was challenged by KG or one of the Celtics' other big men, he became the one arm bandit.  His final statistics showed that his head just wasn't in the game - scoring 9 points and retrieving 9 rebounds - and neither were his teammates - as the Celtics dominated the game from the beginning.

That made it 6 wins in a row for the Rondolettes and they haven't lost yet this month.  Interestingly enough the first February win in the streak was against the same Magic that traded their blue chipper away for draft picks and driftwood.  That win, a Celtics 97-84 victory, really showcased what is right about the Celtics and what is definitely wrong with the Magic this year.  J.J. Redick of all players led the team in scoring and cast off Nikola Vucevic led the team in rebounding.  Even E'Tuan Moore saw significant time.  Man.

It's a perfect circle this month.  Just as the Celtics survive without their best player, the Lakers and Magi are struggling because of their best player.  Even with the blizzard, I'd rather be Boston right now.