Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Kyrie Irving Era Has Begun and LeBron James Can't Stand It

Of course LeBron James had to make it about himself during the Kyrie story.

"Oh my knee!" James weasels as the camera shutters are furiously fighting for his attention.  "Oh I don't think I can play until I decide that the attention is squarely focused on me, then I can play."  James can't fool me with his inside voice.  This is not Irving's homecoming as much as it is James'

Who cares if its Kyrie Irving's first game in Cleveland since the big trade?  LeBron still wants to show Irving the car keys that he's missing out on.  And just to make a loss a little more plausible, James' faking of an injury is such a LeBron move.  I'm just surprised it wasn't "cramps."  Nevertheless, James wants Irving to know that he is still the little brother on the Cavs' Court.   

But let's get back to Kyrie.  Is Boston demonstrably better after the trade?  The answer is no, unless you count the fact that Isaiah Thomas is out until January with his hip pain so we wouldn't have had a point guard for the first 4 months of the season.  Imagine Derrick Rose in a Celtics uniform?  I know I'm glad I don't have to.  In a star-driven league, though, the Celtics have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference - hurdling over the Cavs because of the trade.  While the Celtics bench was blown up in order to sign Gordon Hayward and make room for Kyrie Irving, and Tyrion had many highlights in the past two years, the starting 5 has markedly improved and, at the end of the day, that is what matters when its not about the team, it's about how well your best three players can share the rock.  Let's face it, an imp and a deep bench was not going to get the Celtics anywhere except a blowout in Game 4, 5, 6 or 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Something had to be done and Danny fished out a gold mine in what would have been a lost year.

But now with the resurgent Big 3 (Trademark pending), the Celtics are poised to jump over the LeBrons and fight the Western Conference Champions.  And tonight is the start of the new Era in Celtics' basketball.  Let's go the live blog.

Kyrie with First 2 points of the season?
And of course Kyrie scores the first two points of the season (although you wouldn't know it by the TNT scorekeeper who had the following scores in the first 2 minutes of the game.

Cavs 2-0
Celtics 6-0
Tied 4-4
Celtics 4-3

What? I don't know what's going on.  The announcers have it right.  This seems like the start of an All Star Game.

And just like that, the Celtics' season is all but over.  I hope Gordon Hayward is OK.  That sucks.


Monday, September 25, 2017

NFL Protests - Aren't We All Losing?

Yesterday marked a sharp turn in the Colin Kaepernick saga.  Whereas just a couple of weeks ago only a handful of players were taking a knee or showing some sort of support for those who were, this past weekend showed teams around the league kneeling, sitting, interlocking arms or even not showing up for the National Anthem.  Spurred on by President Donald Trump's call to "fire" all of those who dare protest the singing of the national anthem, players and teams decided to protest in unity.  I personally will not forget the very awkward way that Tom Brady decided to show unity - interlocking his left arm and putting his right hand over his heart.

I guess we have to put aside the obvious pandering that went into President Trump's call to "Fire" anybody (Remember the Apprentice?) when he made his speech in front of a pro-Trump crowd and talk about the issue.  Really, does anyone win in this situation?

Players and Teams

I understand the players' right to protest racial inequality.  I really do.  I may not experience it first hand since I know and like most of the cops I interact with, but many men of color - particularly black men - have had much different experiences with the police.

The men of vast wealth have chosen an easy way out though, right?  Taking a knee during the National Anthem is an easy way out in my humble opinion.  It is 2 minutes out of their lives once a week.  How about taking some of that vast wealth and return it to the community?  How about becoming a role model and instead of paying lip service to a serious cause, actually try and make a difference.

Maybe many of the players who are protesting are giving back to their community, but that work is being completely overshadowed by suspensions and arrests of high profile football players.  Ezekiel Elliot, Joe Mixon, Michael Oher, Pacman Jones and Darrelle Revis have all been arrested or suspended by the league in the last 6 months.  And these were the players I remember or who were caught.  Jesus, even that scumbag Aaron Hernandez is still in the news.  Now it was CTE that made him do it!  Or maybe it was the rampant drug use and the friends who he associated himself with.  Even that Giants kicker is still making headlines.  Unfortunately, I don't have any anecdotes of players doing good in the community.

And the teams - or the owners more specifically - are not much better.  Most (but not all) came out with statements that were pro-player denouncing President Trump remarks.  Many of these owners donated 7 figures to Trump activities over the past year.  You know how I was talking about paying lip service?  Well, I wonder how many of these same owners will continue to donate to Trump activities next year or in 2020? 

Conservatives and President Trump

I guess free speech is only free if it is the kind of speech that you want to hear.  I'm conservative, and I tolerate liberal viewpoints (Hey, I read Gawker websites and CNN, you know) because listening to these viewpoints might allow me to understand positions better (so I can shoot them down), permit me to change my mind on some issues and generally gives me comfort that viewpoints are also free.

But the change in presidency has given fringe groups and ultra conservatives a voice.  Free speech is only free speech if it agrees with your viewpoint, according to these wing nuts.  I remember when President Bush decried the burning of the American Flag back in the late 80's and early 90's.  While burning the American Flag is legal, many conservatives wanted to make it illegal. The same rationale was brought up.  Why disrespect our military and police by burning the flag, they said.  I really don't see it.  Our military and police fight so we can exercise these rights.  And they know this going in.  I just can't help but think that it is pandering to a voter base.  And just the fact that I think this (and not that this is a real issue) is troubling, no?

President Trump still needs to do something about Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, North Korea, Russia, Radical Islamic Terrorism.  But yet he is focused on this issue.  I recognize that he is pandering to his voter base by dealing with this issue (and its an easy issue to deal with that panders to his base), but not walking back his statements is a little crazy.  We live in crazy times, though.

My thoughts?  I don't care if a player sits or stands for the National Anthem.  Unless it affects me, I don't care about anyone else's exercise of their free speech.

Now let's play ball and get back to protesting the Patriots atrocious Defense.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Conor McGregor Thoughts

When we first invited up tot New Hampshire for the weekend, the first thing that i told my buddy was that i would bring the beer and he would get the fight.  The Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight.  I was excited for the fight, for the first time I was excited for a fight since perhaps Mike Tyson was a relevant fighter.  It didn't matter that McGregor was going to get KILLED, it was the show that i was excited for. Would McGregor get disqualified for kick boxing?  Would Dana White get in the ring to stop the fight?  Would Floyd Mayweather have to pay his taxes literally in the ring?

Hold me closer tiny dancer
It did not give me a good feeling for the fight watching the lead up tot he fight.  Quite honestly, McGregor looked like he had no power behind his punches.  He looked awkward in the ring when he couldn't use his legs or submission holds.  Even though Mayweather was not a knockout artist, I didn't think this fight would go more than 3 or 4 rounds.  McGregor would tire out and Mayweather would connect a couple of punches and the fight would be over.  At least I didn't pay for the fight!

And the boys were a little ho hum about the fight.  They were more interested in tubing and wake boarding on the lake than they were in the fight itself.  G said to me sleepily that he thought Mayweather would win.  C said Mayweather too, but he is a front runner, so....DLG really had no opinion as she looked up when I asked her who she liked in the fight.  Int he small sample, no one liked McGregor.  Not a big surprise, really.  Maybe if I get them out on the boat, they will have more of an appetite for the fight.

No can do.  While we were waiting anxiously for the three undercard fights to end, the kids were on their phones and playing ping pong.  Come on!!

When the fight did start, the adults were in the upstairs TV and the teenagers were in the downstairs TV.  We had about 40 people at one point watching this fight.  Even though Mom and I both fell asleep at certain points waiting for the 12:30am fight to begin, we were both interested once McGregor wont he first couple of rounds.  He even countered with an uppercut that seemed to have stung Mayweather.  Hmm.

As the fight grew a little older though, Mcgregor looked like he was starting to tire.  Even old bones Mayweather perked up and started taking on the attack.  Ultimately, it was enough to get the TKO in the 10th round, about 6 rounds longer than I thought.

Mayweather would have won his bet.  But not by too much.  Can we you say rematch?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cooperstown Dreams Park For the Last Time

I thought I was done last year with Cooperstown Dreams Park when G went there with his 12 year old team.  fast forward to 2017 and the 12 year old team this year ran into a rash of injuries.  Because G is young enough to play again, the coach asked us whether he would want to go again.  I didn't even need to ask him.  He had already sensed it and started making plans.  He not just wanted, but he needed a home run after getting shut out last year.  I guess we are going back to Cooperstown!

Although we missed the first two games, G ended up playing 8 games.  Quite a bit in the playoffs.  Now we just need that home run.

Game 1.  G got a couple of singles but we lost 12-3 to a team from North Carolina called Encounter Athletics.  (this was a recurring theme through the pool play.)

Game 2.  In a rain storm, late at night, as friends and families watched,  G hit an opposite field double that looked like it might be going out.  I actually stood up, trying to fumble around for my camera.  Alas, it didn't and we lost by a lot to the Union City Bolts, 20-7.

Game 3.  We played against the notorious Samurai AV team that last year buzzed through the pool play.  this year's team was not quite so good.  It was a barn burner and featured finally G's first home run in Cooperstown.  It was a blast to the opposite field that went 20 feet over the wall!  "Boom" went my text Mom.

"Now I can go home!" I told the Samurai AV dad I was sitting with as I chased after the ball like a 6 year old.

It then ended with a great save from G who was still tired from his 7 inning game a couple of nights ago.  It was our one win in this game.

Game 4.  Not a lot happened as we lost again to Greenwich, 19-10.  G got a hit, but the game was not really close.

Playoff Game 1.  We were playing a team that was not really that good.  G ended up at the end of a Back to back to back to back home run barrage.  We ended up winning in a slaughter 14-0.  A 1-5 team just slaughtered someone else.

Playoff Game 2.  G went back on the mound on Wednesday after pitching on Sunday 7 innings and yesterday for one inning.  We were decided underdogs as we played the 57 seed.  He shut down a strong Surf Bay Red team, 3-2.  He ended up driving in the winning runs to boot.  The crowd was going crazy.

Playoff Game 3.  This one was against SC Utes, a well balanced team from Utah.  We were the 92 seed and they were the 32 seed.  There was buzz around us as we beat one of the best teams to get to this game against the 44 seed.  We took a 9-0 lead and then gave it all up and was tied 9-9 in the last inning.  G was a part of adding the fuel to fire as he was ineffective in his 1 inning after he told the coach that he could get us out of it.  Big props to him for saying that anyway.  But then he came up with 2 outs int he 6th.  We lost all momentum in that 9 inning 5th.  So when he blasted his third home run, it was pandemonium.  We then got out of it and ended up winning 11-9.  G with the second game in a row of heroics.

Playoff Game 4.  We were playing the North Carolina team we played competitively in the first game that G played.  We had run out of gas by then and lost.  G got a hit, but the team looked exhausted. 

Ultimately, this was a great tournament and G finally got his home run.  Make that 3 home runs.

Good bye Cooperstown.  Maybe I'll be a grand dad and come here again.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Surfing in the Northeast

Hang loose, man.  That is what I expected to hear when DLG got her surf board for her 11th birthday.  It was a long board and that is about all I know about the style.  I am not a surfer of oceans. 

After watching Soul Surfer with the family, it's probably better that I don't learn how to surf, anywhere.  I have sweet blood that sharks would love.

DLG had been going to surf camp for a couple of years now on Nantasket Beach in Hull with East Coast Hui, and she always seemed to enjoy it.  The beach always got crowded, so the breaks were a little tough.  Notice the surfing lingo.  But she always had to borrow a surf board.  Some times she would go out and just miss a wave with the board that she borrowed and would often blame it.  I think she also blamed the board for a lot of things at home too.

So when she got her first board, it was University of Hawaii dreaming that we were doing.    We would go to meet with her every winter (and stay with her since it was too expensive to stay anywhere else).  It would be a lot of fun to visit her.  Yes, she still has trouble on 3 foot waves, but so what?

The surfing in the South Shore is not great, not like California or Hawaii.  Nantasket is OK and seems to be for everyone.  The surfing in our town is a little rougher.  Peggotty and Egypt beach always seems to have some surfing but we were always told that these places were not as safe as Nantasket because of rip currents and rocky shores.  I guess we'll have to wait for the outer cape and Nantucket until those three foot waves above turn into six foot waves.

Any way, her surfing is a hit and when she tells anyone her favorite sports it is always basketball, volleyball and surfing now.  Now I guess I just have to check to see if there are any surfing scholarships anywhere.  You never know.  University of Hawaii doesn't have them...I already checked.

But we'll have to tackle the tougher waves first.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

You Mean Castle Island isn't an Island?

"You mean Castle Island isn't an island?" Was one of the first things DLG said when we drove by Day Boulevard into the parking lot. Good question when you think about it.  Why still call it an island when it isn't an island anymore?  Seems kind of silly.  Rhode Islanders are writing mean emails to me right now.  But Castle Island is its name; Castle Peninsula does not have the same ring to it, especially for the drunks walking up and down the beach.

View from one of the Walls?
After 12 long years - C was in a stroller last time we were here - we made our way back to Castle Island in South Boston.  A former fort to protect Boston proper during the wars hundreds of years ago, Castle Island is now a big giant playground with a great ice cream and hot dog shop (Sullivans).  My how things have changed. 

Some things have not changed though.  Anything historical and C, G and DLG all roll their eyes and complain.  Like I am torturing them with the things that I like to do, because I am "old" and "out of touch."  I admit that sometimes I think that I am alone in my love for American history, but today's trip wasn't my idea, it was LC's.  Now who's "old" and "out of touch" kids?  To Mom's credit, it was a beautiful day, the kids had been sitting around the house for days on end watching (TV) the Summer pass them by and we were thinking about getting a beer afterward.  I was in, at least.

After hemming and hawing about doing something else, and driving through West Roxbury, Dorchester and all of the other dangerous villages to get to South Boston, we finally arrive.  Storms were brewing, but the weather was pleasant and it wasn't TOO crowded.  When we got onto the grounds, we walked around the fort and actually went inside.  Last time I was there, I didn't remember a guided tour, I just remembered walking in and walking around the grounds.  But this time were met at the entrance to the inside by a guide, literally stopping us in our tracks.  Scott, I think his name was, showed our group around and talked quite a bit about how he was a volunteer for some group that maintains the fort.  I just wanted to get on with it, at this point.

No idea what this statue was commemorating
We were guided up the walls and inside the fortress walls. to look at the cannon, cannonballs and flags that were used (in replica) during the wars.  While Scott's information was more about what was around the fort (Deer Island, Quincy Shipyard, Spectacle Island), some of his information was new to me. 

It was interesting hearing about the history of the fort and the fact that soldiers were stationed inside for months at a time with only slivers of sunlight as their actual view of the outside.  We saw some cannons - fake of course. all lined up facing the harbor.  And we felt the walls since we were told that the farther inside you went the more likely the walls were to "sweat."  I started to sweat too since it was getting humid.  Unfortunately, the tour was cur short a little since the storm clouds got closer and closer.  No sense getting any wetter than we already were.

The kids still complained as we got into the car about being hungry this time.  Yes, I though to myself, a beer would taste good right now.  Sadly, the rains came right afterward.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The 2017 Major League Draft is On Hunter Greene Time

Out of nowhere last night C asks me if I want to watch the MLB draft.  I told him "sure," unsure why he wanted to watch it.  But to spend time with my 15 year old son without the pretense of telling him some life lesson really appealed to me. 

When I walked back into the living room - our so called couch room - I was the draft on and he was sitting on the couch.

"So who do you think is going to be taken #1" I asked.

"This 17 year old kid from California.  He throws the ball 102 MPH and hits bombs..." C explains to me.

"102 MPH?" I picked my head up.  "Really?  What's his name?"

Not the greatest throwing motion...
"Hunter Greene" C tells me, as he shows me a video of him pitching.  That's impressive as I'm watching his highlight package that any recruiting service would be proud of.  "He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week."

"What's Sports Illustrated??" I say half-joking.


We then hear the MLB Network guys tell us that Minnesota is on the clock.  Oh, I forgot how much I dislike Harold Reynolds.  2 hours of listening to him not giving me any insight at all should be fun.  I have never even heard of the other guys.  I guess they didn't take any castoffs from ESPN.

I look at Baseball America's website to look up a little more about Greene.  Topping radar guns at 101-102, he throws 4 pitches for strikes.  At the same time he has a lot of pop in his bat at his position of shortstop.  Quite an impressive resume.  I also noticed that he worked extensively with Alan Jaeger.  The guy who teaches long toss and has those bands that I have trouble talking to c about, much less institute.  I think C knows more about this kid than he knows about anyone on the Red Sox.  The Twins are still on the clock.

And the Twins are still on the clock.  I guess it is not an advantage that the Twins have an extra 10 minutes to decided since they have had since the season ended to decide who they were going to take First overall.  Finally Rob Manfred comes up to the podium to declare the first overall selection. 

The Twins ended up taking a different shortstop from California, however - Royce Lewis from Jserra Catholic HS.  Another kid with a lot of pop, but also plus speed.  The Reds picking second end up taking Greene.  I would rather go to Cincinnati myself than Minneapolis.  C remarks that the Lewis is not that good, even in High School and he has not idea where "UC Irvine" is - the school Lewis committed to.  I tell him that maybe it has to do with signability, although one would have heard about that before hand.

C and I watch for a couple of more hours.  I finally turn off the TV when the Red Sox selected Tanner Houck from Missouri.  A lot of talent in the first round.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

6 Reasons Why 13 Reasons Why Is Important

13 Reasons Why is one of the most controversial series in a long time, they said. Depicting a Girl's descent into a mindset that suicide was her only option, and her friend's anguished attempt at trying to understand it, "13 Reasons Why" became a flash point for child psychologists everywhere.  It was a triggering situation for vulnerable youths.  It depicted a high school that really couldn't exist in reality.  It wasn't lighthearted enough.  Numerous reasons abounded for why "13 Reason Why" was bad for kids and their parents alike.  Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen are bad for our kids!

I'm here though to tell you that there were actually 6 reasons why "13 Reasons Why" was actually a useful and necessary show to come along.

1.  The Music.  OK, C would not say that the music was one of the best things about the show, but the atmospheric 1990's alternative music sensibility was perfect for the show.  The show was moody, somber and serious.  So was the music from the 1990's.  The Cure and Joy Division?  Count me in. And the final scene with Bob Mould's "See a Little Light?"  What a great song for this show.  I'm still humming.

2.  The Cinematography.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one to notice that as Bryce's tape was playing and for all scenes afterward, all of the blues were accentuated while all of the other colors became muted.  Maybe a parlor trick, but you just don't see TV shows with these kinds of processes.

3.  Clay's Tape.  I admit that the melodrama was thick with this show, and especially so when the lead character finally listens to his tape.  This was a deeply affecting episode and I felt awful when Clay declares that "I killed Hannah Baker and breaks down in Tony's arms.  Heartbreaking.

4.  The Symbolism.  I hope I'm not forcing things here but it seemed reasonably plausible that that last scene I talked about before did not feature anyone who was alive.  Tony was clearly a guardian angel.  I don't have an answer for his boyfriend since he was a bit player with few lines.  Clay could have easily thrown himself off of the cliff.  Skye also slit her wrists as shown when Tony and Clay were in the cafe.  I think what we saw were four dead people driving off on the highway at the end.

5.  Real Depiction of Teenage Angst.  Hey, I was a teenager once.  And I am raising one, soon to be two teenagers.  The tapes were a microcosm of teenage life.  Every tape depicted something important in Hannah's life, but only a couple were actually important.  A couple of the tapes were, taken by themselves, not terribly important.  The poem tape?  Not really a big deal.  And I'm still unsure what Marcus did.  But no matter, these were important tapes to Hannah.  Just like typical teenage angst.

6.  Talking to the Kids.  This is the big one.  Since I finished the last episode a couple of weeks ago, I have been able to have a heart to heart with C.  But we've also had small conversations with both C and G about the show.  We have talked about how disturbing the suicide scene was.  I have talked about the music that I like.  And we have talked to the kids about how bad at his job Mr. Porter was.  All of the time trying to reinforce how much they mean to me. Yeah, this was an important show at an important time.

And all of the words we said yesterday, well that's a long time ago.  Sing it Bob Mould.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

No Hitter Time in America

No Hitter Time
C has been pitching lights out this year so far.  Except when he was held in there for an inning too long, things has been really happening for him. out of state, EBL or AAU, it hasn't mattered, the fastball has been snapping, the curveball that he has been working on has been biting.  Long story short, C has been pitching really well.

Then came his recent game in Raynham against one of his AAU teams - East Coast Bulls.  He felt strong pitching 5 no hit innings for his school team Xavierian on Monday, things were looking up for his Saturday pitching performance on Saturday.

And it was impressive.  7 innings, no hitter.  The first one of his career.  the innings that I watched were no contest.  His curveball was rocking and setting up the fast ball nicely.  He ended up with 13 strikeouts, and no hits. His first full no - hitter of his career.  Hopefully, not the last.

Oh, by he way, he went 3 for 3 in the game as well, the only hitter with more than  hit in the 5-0 shutout.  Sadly, his coach lost his ipad in the second game, as c went another 2 for 2 in his two at-bats.  One of the best doubleheaders, he has ever had.  Not bad considering his Father was watching him.  

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 done...do 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.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Patriots Coming Out Party

It was 28-3 with 2:05 to go in the Third Quarter.  Super Bowl LI seemed like it was over.  I was figuring out if I wanted to stay up to watch the new episode of 24; I was not figuring out if this game was going to get interesting at any point.  I already knew the answer.  The kids went to bed and Mom started to get comfortable on the couch.  I was wondering if I should avoid talk radio, and the sports blogs that I read in the mornings and the TV pundits who troll fans like me to no end.  Even diehard Pats fan friends of mine were joking that the Falcons would cover the over themselves.

And then The Comeback started. 

James White Had a Day
James White (the real Super Bowl MVP) caught a 5 yard pass from Brady halfway through the third quarter to make the score 28-9.  My relief that the Patriots finally got a touchdown was tempered by Stephen Gostkowski's doink off of the right upright on the extra point.  I said to no one in particular that that might be the difference in the game.  Yeah - I chuckled too at the absurdity of that thought.

After holding the Falcons to a 3 and out to end the Quarter, the Patriots were down by 19 points to start the 4th Quarter.  Another drive into the red zone stalled after a couple of Brady sacks in the red zone.  Gostkowski FG made the score 28-12.

Shortly after the FG was converted, the Falcons' coaching staff began hatching one of the largest turkeys in NFL play off history.  On a 3 and 1, when Devonta Freeman was seemingly running at will, Ryan dropped back to pass.  Freeman, trying to take on a edge rusher (Dont'a Hightower) whiffed and the strip sack was achieved.  Patriots had the ball on the Falcons 25!  C screaming from his bedroom made me think that he was watching the game.  I myself was wondering if Ryan's arm was moving forward.  Brady proceeds to throw a couple of short passes to White and Amendola, culminating in a 6 yard slant to Amendola to make it 28-18.  A direct snap to James White was converted and now we had a game.  28-20.

Atlanta's coaching staff, continuing to hatch up a really terrible game plan decided to pass after converting a Julius Jones 28 yard tippy-toe to New England's 23 yard line.  Three rushes and the game would be over.  Somewhere Marshawn Lynch is nodding his head in agreement.  A sack and an Atlanta holding call - similar to the previous drive - took them out of FG range.

Similar to the start of the Second Half, I knew this game was over.  Just not in the way I thought.  Edelman's miraculous catch, Amendola's finger tip catch and James White's run up the middle highlighted the final TD in regulation.  Danny Amendola's 2 point conversion tied the game.  I thought that Gostkowski's missed extra point would be the difference.  I was wrong about that too.  Shaking my head, I was confident that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl.

And after winning the coin toss, the Patriots went 75 yards in 9 plays.  James White, just like Dion Lewis before him scored his third TD to win the game.  LaGarrette Blount could be seen in the picture running toward White to tackle him in the end zone, when no one on the Falcons could do it.  Malcolm Mitchell started running in the opposite direction to God knows where.  Tom Brady still had the look of someone who thought the call might be over turned.  Come on Tom!  Patriots 34-28

Now bring on Roger.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Brady is Frustrating Like No Other

It always seems to be this way.  Tom Brady shreds teams during the regular season.  We are on that page together. 11-1 record after coming back from the four game suspension.  Yup.  28-2 Touchdown to Interception ratio.  Yup on that one too.  Highest completion percentage since 16-0 to boot.  He is the greatest regular season quarterback of all time.

But then you get him into the playoffs and things change.  With the 34-16 drubbing of Houston a couple of days ago, Tom Brady has played in 32 playoff games.  The math is easy now because that is two complete seasons.  His record turns to 11.5 and 4.5.  His TD/Int ration goes to 29/15.  His completion record drops by almost 3 percentage points.  What's the deal?

A couple of things are at work causing Brady to go from regular season MVP to Phillip Rivers.

1.  Teams Finally Execute the Game Plan.  We all know the best way to stop the Patriots' defense.  Getting to Tom Brady.  Now sacking him is too easy.  What I really mean is hitting him every chance one gets.  This takes patience and a lot of hard work.  During the regular season, team defenses struggle to execute that game plan because teams are too banged up and conserving energy.  Once the playoffs come around, teams put all of that aside and go after him with reckless abandon because they don't have anything else to lose.

2.  Patriot's Meta Schedule.  This is one that has been dragged around for years.  The Bills, Jets and Dolphins all suck.  Now not every year, but you can generally count on 2 of the 3 teams to suck every year.  This leads to an easy 5-6 wins every year.  What also is at work is that the AFC has a lot of bad teams, not just int he AFC East.  The Raiders and Browns have been bad for years.  Same with the Jaguars and Titans.  The Chargers and Bengals, while making the playoffs, are always soft.  Really, except for the Ravens, Steelers and Broncos, the entire conference is soft and the Patriots get 2 games against them.  Its not a division thing, its a conference thing.

3.  Brady Isn't Clutch.  Now this is a red herring, but this stands to reason.  He does have the third most game winning drives in history with 49 (only Manning and Marino have more).  But the Houston game is a perfect example of the clutchness issue.  He never seems to have good games int eh playoffs.  He always seems to do just enough to win most games, but you never say that Tom Brady was the reason that the Patriots won the so-and-so game.  The 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls are other good examples of this phenomenon.  Some players are just not as good when it counts.

So as the Patriots enter into the AFC Championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers (and their own shaky QB), it will remain to be seen if Brady can look like the Brady that will win the MVP.