Thursday, February 28, 2013

Glove It or Hate It - Who Should Wear a Baseball Glove to a Baseball Game

In the early days of Three if by Strike, I wrote an article about people wearing current players' jerseys and t-shirts to baseball games and whether or not there was an age when the jerseys should be hung up.  If you are over 25 and are wearing the jersey of a player younger than you, there's a problem.

There's also a problem if you are anywhere close to 25 and are wearing a baseball glove to the game.  During the average contest, nearly 150 baseballs are used, most of which end up in the stands.  Some are tossed by players or the ball boys, and others are hit in the form of foul balls or home runs.  The chances of catching a ball off the bat as a spectator are worse than the odds of you getting hit by lightning...twice.

But, is catching a ball really worth looking like an idiot?  When baseball was first invented, players didn't even use gloves.  They were men.  If you consider yourself a man, never take your baseball glove to a game.  Once you are out of Little League, the glove stays at home unless you happen to be playing on the field that day.  And you're not.  Leave it.  I've had a foul ball hit off my hand during a game.  Yeah, sure it hurt.  But you look to see who ended up with the ball, clap, and move on.

The gloves stay at home from age 13 and on.  When you hit 100 years old in a wheelchair and happen to find yourself at a baseball game, then yeah, why not.  Go ahead and dust off the ol' leather mitt.  But that is the one and only acceptable circumstance.

Miami Heat Pull Out All the Stops in This Harlem Shake Video

The Harlem Shake just isn't going away.  Which is awesome.

The Miami Heat have put out a video, still in its infancy with just over 300 views at the time of this post on Thursday.  With any of these videos, all you gotta do is watch, but I have to give credit where credit is due.

Dwayne Wade takes the gold medal here.  He's the guy in the red suit and bear head, doing the weird finger-pointing dance.  Silver has to go to Chris Bosh.  On the left side, wearing a bathrobe and cowboy hat with that obnoxious boom box.  Who actually owns one of those?  And bronze, goes to LeBron James.  The king outfit is pretty serious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lazio Forced to Play in Empty Home Stadium for Two Games

'Three strikes and you're out' applies to soccer, too, apparently.

Supporters of Lazio, after three different instances of racist actions from the stands, have finally drawn the wrath of UEFA officials.  Their punishment?  For the next two home games, no fans will be allowed into their stadium.

UEFA has already levied nearly $300,000 in fines against the club, but taking away not only ticket and concession sales for the next two games, but taking away home-field advantage has to hurt.  The straw that broke the camel's back was when a large group of fans in the stands  made "fascist-style salutes" and racist chants against Borussia Mönchengladbach, a German soccer club.

Pee-wee Hockey Coach Gets 15 Days in Jail, 12 Years Probation for Tripping

Normally when a player trips an opposing player, they get a two minute minor penalty.  But when a coach trips a player -- during the post-game handshakes, no less -- well, he gets two weeks in jail.

Martin Tremblay, a 48-year-old child, knocked down a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old during a November pee-wee hockey game, and has been found guilty of assault.

"This was the last place anyone would have expected an assault to take place, and the very last place one would have expected an adult to assault a child," presiding Judge Patrick Chen told the media. "The tripping of the boys was akin to a cowardly sucker punch on an unsuspecting victim."

To go along with his 15 days in jail, Tremblay will also be on probation for the next 12 years.  I'd take a loss over probation anyday, but its just one more example of how anybody associated with hockey in Vancouver these days is a complete idiot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

World Baseball Classic Odds and Picks

Friday marks the opening game of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  With 16 teams in the mix, some loaded with MLB stars and some loaded with their respective country's biggest stars, the WBC should prove to be a greater worldwide success than it has been in its first two years, 2006 and 2009.

The World Baseball Classic was born after baseball was cut out of the Olympics in 2005 by the International Olympic Committee.  Japan has won the first two WBCs, defeating Cuba in '06 and South Korea in '09, and it is no surprise that the international tournaments were the highest rating sporting events in Japan's television history.

This year, the pool is just as diverse as ever, with some heavy favorites and a few underdogs.  These are the odds according to

Dominican Republic - 2/1
United States - 5/2
Japan - 5/2
Korea - 10/1
Venezuela - 10/1
Cuba - 12/1
Chinese Taipei - 12/1
Canada - 15/1
Mexico - 18/1
Puerto Rico - 20/1
Panama - 35/1
Field - 15/1

The Dominican Republic is once again a powerhouse, and they will look to get past their best finish of fourth place from the inaugural year.  The United States is also a big favorite, and boasts the only roster with nothing but MLB players, but just like the DR, the Americans have never finished better than fourth.  Two-time winners Japan are right in the mix again, given the same odds as the US.

Pool A features Japan, China, Cuba and Brazil.  Two pretty easy picks here with Japan winning and Cuba as the runner-up.  Brazil has a fairly young team that beat Panama twice and Columbia in their qualifier to get into the tournament, but cannot compete with two teams who have three combined medals.

In Pool B, the Netherlands, Australia, Chinese Taipei and Korea will face off.  Korea has medaled in '06 and '09, and I believe will continue their success.  As for the runner-up, I'm going with the Netherlands here -- if nothing else, they'll be exciting to watch with players like Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons and Roger Bernadina

Pool C will play their games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico, where the Expos played a few "home games" in 2003 and 2004.  Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Spain will do battle, providing some serious games and some serious scoring.  In four qualifying games, Spain put up 32 runs, but figures to be the odd man out in these matchups.  The Dominican Republic, featuring names like Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz could be the runners-up in this one, because something tells me that Venezuela is locked and loaded this year.  With offense coming from Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval, pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Henderson Alvarez will be able to get right to work.

Pool D will be fun to watch, with all three North American countries going head-to-head with Italy tossed into the mix.  The United States should win this one, but the runner-up spot is interesting.  Mexico has its fair share of stars like Adrian Gonzalez and Sergio Romo, but they don't appear to be all that deep.  Canada has a good mix of young stars and talents like John Axford and Brett Lawrie.  Canada scored 38 runs in three qualifying games, so I'm gonna give them the momentum to make it into the second round.

First games are played on Friday, starting at 5:30am on MLB Network.  Stay tuned this weekend for my second round and championship picks and winners.

Monday, February 25, 2013

242 Penalty Minutes Handed out in AHL Game

I really only need one hand to count the things that are better than a good AHL brawl.

The contest between the Springfield Falcons and Bridgeport Sound Tigers from last Friday ended up 5-2, but it wasn't the goal scoring that kept the fans wanting more.  242 penalty minutes were handed out when it was all said and done from some solid donnybrooks thrown into the game.  In the video above, the highlight starts out as exclusively goals, so skip ahead to about 2:45 into the video to see things go bananas.

The second fight (at about 3:10) has some big punches thrown, but isn't too exciting compared to the line brawl that takes place right after at about 3:37.  Some 2-on-1's, some guy's skating to find a new opponent, a few body slams and not nearly enough linesmen to break up the action.

Desmond Bryant Mugshot is Beyond Words

There have been some pretty classic mugshots out there, but for my money, this has to be the best.

Oakland Raiders linebacker Desmond Bryant was arrested early Sunday morning in Florida for a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge.  When he was booked, the former Harvard student decided he wanted more than just your average mugshot, and went for the gold.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Steroids, Part III - The Problems With Legalization

Its gotten to the point where I'm sitting at my desk and all I can think about is the PED questions. And I say to myself, "man, steroids are ruining the game."

Are they, though?  Did they "ruin" the home run chase of '98?  No.  Did they ruin watching Olympic athletes like Marion Jones and Maurice Greene claim gold for USA?  Well, wait a minute, yes, actually.

So what the hell do we do now?  We're right back where we started, then.  How can I think they make one aspect of a sport so great when they completely tear down another?  That's absolutely not to say baseball should use steroids.  
I have read through several arguments that state PEDs should be legal all across the board.  A couple supporting examples include the advent of modern medicine, i.e. cortizone shots, Tommy John surgery, and how those things weren't readily available 50 years ago.  Complete legalization would also eliminate all uncertainty about which players are gaining an edge.  Some say PEDs should be allowed in the recovery process, which sounds ridiculous, but as a fan, think about it.  A player gets hurt and there is a guaranteed way to get back on the field faster.  Here's my issue, and its another example of why there is no right or wrong solution to this whole mess.

To be a professional athlete, you have to want it more than anything.  More than your opponents, more than your teammates.  Its competitiveness that drives the games and that drives fans to the games.  Its competitiveness that allows PEDs to even play a role.  You have a player like Albert Pujols, a model baseball player, who as far as we know is clean and is the only baseball player I believe I can safely use in these examples, who is still better than some guys who are rampant steroid users.  So what are they going to do?  Train a little harder, sure, but they're going to use any and all means to get to the end -- to be the best.

Think about the amateur level.  Players who have not yet broken through as a professional but who so desperately want that glory, will risk life and limb, testicles and man boobs to get to the top.  American society has dictated sports culture, and now the tables have turned.  We see parents driving their kids into the ground, forcing them into sports and forcing them to be the best there ever was.  We see full scholarships up for grabs for being good at shooting an orange ball into an orange circle, or for being able to hit a white ball of tightly wound string with a piece of wood further than the next guy.  
That's a lot of pressure for a kid, and it could affect the one who really does want to be the best, all the way down to the one who thinks he never will be.  When they can't throw two miles per hour faster, or when they can't grab the rim with both hands, where will they turn?

It would be the downfall of sports.  These drugs would be more easily accessible to any athlete, and it would raise football-field sized red flags in the morality sector.  Say I'm an athlete who doesn't want to take steroids, how do I get on the field?  Maybe I don't.  There's a trickle-down effect that sports has on us.  When I played Little League, I was a second baseman.  I'll always remember my friend Sam at shortstop, who played the position out of his love for his favorite player, Nomar Garciaparra.  He would make the same flashy plays on routine ground balls.  He would adjust his batting gloves 35,000 times for no reason when he'd step into the box.  What if Nomar had been like every other player in a PED-ridden league?  Would 11-year-old Sam be taking steroids?

PEDs have been the cause of endless contention in sports today, but what if they were legalized?  Would that solve the problem or make it worse?

Vladamir Tarasenko Gets His Clock Cleaned

Shame on me for thinking that this shortened hockey season would provide some respite for my 'fantasy curse.'

My number four pick Scott Hartnell went down with a foot injury, number six Tobias Enstrom took a hit from Pascal Dupuis and will be out for a few more weeks.  Number 12 Joni Pitkanen has missed a few games as has number 13 Brendan Smith.  The flu has made its way around my team, already causing Dan Boyle, Nathan Horton, Jonathan Toews and Ondrej Pavelec.

I've made a bunch of moves to combat the time missed by these players, and one of those moves was Vladimir Tarasenko, who is second among rookies with 12 points this season.  In the Blues-Avalanche game last night, Tarasenko got absolutely knocked out by Avs defender Mark Olver  The video above is pretty rough when they get to showing different angles.  Here's to hoping no more time will be missed by another one of my players...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lindy Ruff, Sabres Coach Since 1997, Fired

It is not a great year to be a professional coach in Buffalo.

The Bills fired their head coach Chan Gailey just as the new year was getting underway, and now the Sabres, after a 6-10-1 start, have let go of the NHL's longest-tenured coach, Lindy Ruff.

Ruff will no longer have the opportunity to pass San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich for the longest tenured coach in North American pro sports -- Popovich started with the Spurs in 1996, a year earlier than Ruff.  The Sabres, arguably one of the toughest teams in the league with one of the best goalies in the league, have sputtered to a 3-7-0 record in their last 10, and a change was in the cards.

Ryan Miller spoke following their Tuesday night loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

"We’re not giving them the caliber of hockey this city deserves," he said. "Yeah, we deserve to get booed.  From the top down, every player."

There has been no word on who will replace Ruff, but there will be at least an interim coach in place by their Thursday night game against division opponent Toronto.

Jannik Hansen Sucker Punches Marian Hossa

The Vancouver Canucks, time and time again, continue to prove that they are an embarrassment to the sport of hockey.  Biting fingers, sending five players to fight one opponent, or now, punching people in the back of the head.

You can't really say that they play dirty, because they're not tough enough to get that adjective.  They play like cowards, taking cheap shots at opportune times for them when there is the smallest chance of retaliation.  The latest incident comes from Canucks winger Jannik Hansen.  In a game against the Blackhawks, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews played the puck into the neutral zone to teammate and winger Marian Hossa.  As the puck came in, and while his back was turned, Hansen delivered a pretty brutal forearm shiver into the back of Hossa's head.

Clearly intentional, clearly dirty.  Hossa luckily got up, but had to be helped off the ice by Hawks trainers.  Hansen faces a hearing at 3:30pm on Wednesday with NHL's head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

Now, anybody with half a brain could tell that hit was dirty, and that something like that doesn't belong in the game of hockey.  But if you're a Vancouver fan...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Snowball Fights and Faceplants

College baseball is already underway, and while there haven't been any rain delay dance-offs yet, there has been an epic snowball fight and an even more epic umpire's third strike call that never really comes to be.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Joel Peralta Chooses Sandwiches Over Pitching in World Baseball Classic

Rays reliever Joel Peralta, after being left the first World Baseball Classic roster for the Dominican Republic, has finally been invited to play for the team, but will not be able to participate due to a neck injury.  How did he sustain the injury?

"#Rays Peralta hurt his neck getting out of car when he stopped for sandwiches," according a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tamba Bay Times.

Real tough break for the 36-year-old, who has been wanting to play in a WBC, and figures this could be his last shot.

"The main thing is, this is probably the only chance I have to play in the WBC and I'm not going to be able to," Peralta said. "I was hoping that I could. Years earlier, I was anxious for them to invite me to go and they didn't. Now, they invite me to go and I can't go. So it hurts a little bit."

He isn't expected to miss much time from Rays' spring training, but no injury is a good one.  He had no way of knowing he would strain his neck when he stopped at that sandwich shop, but I'd risk a helluva lot more than that to get my shot at a good sandwich.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Harlem Shake Reports to Spring Training

How awesome are the Diamondbacks?

Highlights here include the giant Randy Johnson head in the back, the guy casually walking in with the afro, and the Kirk Gibson fist-pumping home run trot near the end.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Steroids, Part II - Anonymity and Accountability

We like to think that people should be held accountable for their negative actions.  No where is this more true than in professional sports.  In college sports, there have been instances of cheating by players and/or coaches in which the NCAA has ruled that the school must vacate wins from the season in which the incident occurred.

I have kicked that idea around in my head in the arena of Major League Baseball, with the help of my friend Jeff who first spurred an ongoing debate of how to deal with PED discoveries years after the tests were taken.  If we prove when these players tested positive for PEDs, can we take away wins from their team? 

It sounds feasible at first glance, but when you get down to it, there is no system set in the MLB that would be able to hold up this sort of legislature.  We discussed using the highly debated sabremetric, WAR.  WAR is meant to indicate how many wins a player would give his team over a bench player of a minor league call-up, for instance.  Because this stat technically credits players with a win, why can we not charge him wins if he tests positive for PEDs?  But can we change the past?

As with any theory, holes can be poked by the dozen.  But I'll still remember them winning the championship... I still remember when he hit 50 home runs...  And many times, such as this, the problem is not within the theory, it is within the practice.  Information on steroid users has come out in the past few years from tests taken as far back as 2001-2003.  Ten years later, we can't set a team two games back in their division when they've already won a pennant.
And this is why I love talking about this stuff, because one idea always leads to another.  Although, when you are trying to solve an unsolvable epidemic, pretty soon you're left sitting there, alone with your thoughts, feeling like you just blended together and threw back a pack of cigarettes, some pain killers and half a bottle of cheap whiskey.

We are scared of finding out who the real PED users are.  We are, and we should be.  What if they're our heroes?  What if someone like Justin Verlander or Albert Pujols was caught cheating?  
Sorry, bad example.  If I cause any sleepless nights because of those examples, I apologize.  But look, fact of the matter is, Lance Armstrong sold two books and millions upon millions of LiveStrong wristbands telling us how he overcame cancer and rode to seven Tour de France victories.  But what would shock us the most might be the sheer number of PED users.  
Somewhere between the first steroids post and now I've become a cynic, and I hope by the third part of this conversation I'll have flipped back.
Today I was reading up on the whole steroids issue, as its taken over the sports, especially baseball, culture entirely.  One guy used an example of the prisoner's dilemma to describe players' motivations for using PEDs.  Players aren't going to know if a guy on another team is doping for sure, but the sad reality is, the best way to deal with it is to start doping yourself.  If you know one guy's juiced, then you're going to, as this individual so eloquently put it, "pick the option that gives [you] the smallest chance you get screwed."

We're scared of the truth, yet we will speculate and speculate until there's six feet of soil between us and the fresh air.  So, considering no plan is without its flaws, here's what I propose as a solution.

Major League Baseball implements drug testing through the use of an outside company, as they have done.  This company will work out a hard timeline between the league and the players association.  Now, the way testing will work is that completely anonymous samples will be taken from every player on every team based on the timeline that has been constructed.  Let's say results come back, and someone on Team A has tested positive.  For the slate of games between this first test and the next scheduled test for Team A, their record will not be counted, nor will any player stats, and they will forfeit their ability to make any roster changes of any sort.

If the testing period is, for example, a span of 20 games for the team, then they will finish with a 142-game season despite still playing 162.  Winning percentage will not be affected in any way, and it is not like the team has just had time to rest and practice for 20 more days than their opponents.  As for the players' statistics and records, consider that to qualify for the batting title, or for the Cy Young award, you need a certain number of at-bats or a certain number of innings pitched.  If a position player loses 20 games, he loses about around 75 at-bats.  If a starting pitcher is out 20 games, they'll miss about four starts.

This system is understandably flawed, as is any.  It could turn out that every team in the majors has as least one player, and there could no stats at all for an entire year, who knows.  But consider what it could allow for.  Accountability from each individual player, and accountability from the whole organization.  Entire teams -- players, coaches, training staff, owners --  would be responsible for making sure their teams are clean and fair, able to play the full 162 games so they matter.  And this system wouldn't point directly at the cheaters, much to the delight of the A-Rods and Brauns of the world.  But best of all, with something like this in place, it gives us, the fans, and the media a chance to do what we do best.  Speculate.
The Steroid Era is no longer and "era."  You cannot stop it, you can only contain it.  There's always going to be some new advancement, some new medicine or drug to help players get that edge, but until there is a full-blown crackdown, those illegal substances will continue to rewrite the record books.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Late to the Party - Harlem Shake

I apologize for coming late to this party, but the blog's gotta talk about the Harlem Shake.  I was introduced two nights ago to the Harlem Shake by my friend Span, and spent a good hour and a half watching the :30 second videos.

They really need no explanation, but in case you're a little confused, then that sucks for you, because I just sat here trying to coherently map out steps to follow to make this video, but if I were to post it, it would make us all look like idiots.

The video at the top is my number one, here.  "The Today Show" on NBC gets an honorable mention for their Valentine's Day-themed video this morning on the show, complete with Al Roker doing the moonwalk across the screen with angel wings on.  To round out my top three are these two in an office/classroom setting.  Just the idea of that happening in either of those places is hilarious to me, and picturing the people I work with getting in to this song and going bananas for :15 is too much.

The scene at 2:02 wins the bronze for me, but some other ones are classic in this collection, too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bruins Mount a Comeback But Fall in Shootout Despite Jack Edwards' Going Bananas

The Bruins fell short in Tuesday's contest with the Rangers at home, losing 4-3 in a shootout.  This was the third time the teams have met, and despite a loss, they have managed to get five out of six points against the Blueshirts.

That point tonight was an absolute steal.  The B's just could not get their offense going, again trudging out sluggish power play units against reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist.  The game was pretty much a snoozer for Boston fans until late in the final period.  With a 3-0 lead, the Rangers were looking poised for a great team win.  David Krejci potted a goal just under 9 minutes into the final frame, and gave the Black & Gold that spark they needed.

Waiting until the last minute and half, the Bruins starting pouring on the pressure.  With Tuukka Rask pulled and the extra attacker out, Nathan Horton found a rebound land on his stick and slid the puck across the ice to bring it within one.  Not to be outdone, the team's leading scorer Brad Marchand fired one over Lundqvist's right shoulder with 43 seconds remaining in regulation to knot it up at 3. 

Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards was just as excited as any fan in the TD Garden, jumping up and down while making the game-tying call.  Eventually the Bruins fell after a heart-pounding overtime.

Cleveland Rocks?

What do a known steroid user, an alleged "gyroball" pitcher, a mafia don, an all-star outfielder, a two-time World Series champion manager and the host of "The Price is Right" have in common?

They all call Cleveland home.
The Cleveland Indians have been pushing the pedal to the metal just before Spring Training gets underway, re-signing their emotional leader and closer, Chris Perez, as well as inking three free agents and a manager.

After spending eight years with the Boston Red Sox and a year at ESPN, Terry Francona takes over at the helm.  Francona helped the Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years, and will embark on a mission to give Cleveland their first since 1948.

On Tuesday, the Tribe greatly improved their outfield by signing free agent Michael Bourn to a four year $48 million contract. 

While those first three transactions will be huge for any success to be had for the Indians, the club also made some suspect ones.  They signed Jason Giambi and Daisuke Matsuzaka to minor league deals within a couple days of each other.  Francona and Matsuzaka are familiar with each other, but I doubt that will help his performance.  And as far as Giambi is concerned, Francona is familiar with the 42-year-old former as a Yankee, whom he had to strategize against.  
Those weren't the only moves that Cleveland has made so far.  Another familiar enemy to Tito, Nick Swisher was picked up by the Tribe earlier in the offseason for a hefty $56 million price tag.  Drew Stubbs came over from the Reds in a three-team trade along with three pitchers including former Orioles Red Sox reliever Matt Albers.

The Indians are another one of those teams that has been lying in the weeds for a few seasons now and has poised themselves to be a serious contender in the AL Central.  I can't wait for Spring Training games to start, and I can't wait for MLB 2K13 to come out so I can make some sense of where all these players are and how these teams look.

Michael Grey - First Listen to Feb. 28 Debut EP

Michael Grey stands poised to make his debut onto the growing Boston music scene.  He and his producer, known as The Professor, have been making music together for over four years, and have compiled a five-track EP, titled "Wide Awake," set to release Feb. 28.

I listened to "Alice," the first track coming off of the new mixtape on Monday night.   I will admit, at my first listen, the song took a little while to kick off -- it took me a few tries to get the feel and the beat down.  But the further into the song I got, the more I started getting into that beat and the lyrics, too.  Grey's rap at first seemed sporadic to my ears, more attuned to rock and country, but along with the expanding beat, I thought the lyrics here worked extremely well, taking their time and working with the music rather than overpowering it.

After listening to the track a few times, I think "Alice" off of "Wide Awake" should provide the duo with a smooth transition into their first -- and free, kids -- EP release.  I'll be checking out the EP when it drops, but in the meantime, if you're into the song and want any updates on the artist, be sure to follow him on Twitter at @IAmMichaelGrey.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Duke Fans Are Scum

Thursday night, Duke beat NC State in a barn burner to tie the season series at 1-1 with a score of 98-85.  The Cameron Crazies were the ones making headlines this time instead of anyone on the court.

5'11' freshman Tyler Lewis was at the free throw line with just under 14 minutes to go in the second half when a couple of chants broke out from the student section.  During his first free throw, you can clearly hear them say "past your bedtime!"  Alright, no harm done there, right?

But it is during the second free throw that has Duke fans in hot water.  Lewis' grandmother recently passed away, and if you listen carefully, it sounds like they are chanting "how's your grandma?"

"It was mostly 'past your bedtime,' but there was an instant when a brief number of students chanted about Tyler's grandmother," Rick Lewis, Tyler's father said. "It wasn't the entire student section, I think a few tried to outdo themselves."

Regardless, the Cameron Crazies have been known to do some pretty unorthodox things, but this is inexcusable and unacceptable.  I don't know what can be done about this, but the NCAA should absolutely look into this and there should be action taken against Duke and quickly.

Scott Boras Wants to Open Training Facility for Only His Clients In Where Else...But Miami

It was just a week ago when a Miami-based company, Biogenesis, a well-known PED distributor, had divulged its client list containing names such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.  In its wake, the story has left the baseball world shaken again, with fingers being pointed in all sorts of directions.

Who is trying to play hero in all of this?  Baseball's most notorious agent, Scott Boras.  He has outlined plans to open a multi-million dollar sports fitness center exclusively for his clients.

"We want to make sure we're making every effort to advance the credibility and understanding of what major league players must abide by and also to protect them from the influences of many of these supposed medical practitioners who are availing themselves to the players," Boras said.

And where is Boras planning on opening this facility?  The same city in which the latest steroid scandal has come out of.  Todd Berg of USA Today Sports wrote an article on Friday in which he says, "People often seem to hate Scott Boras for being very good at his job, but this is just Scott Boras being very good at his job again."

Is that what you would call this?  This wouldn't happen to be extremely selfish, controlling or just plain sketchy?  Of all the places in Florida, Arizona or California where baseball is played year round, you pick the same city that has the most recent ties to steroids?  And to be clear, this is a facility only for your players, Mr. Boras?  You really think that you are "making every effort to advance the credibility and understanding of major league players?"

No, you mean "your players."  Your money.  Boras is known to be hated in some baseball circles because he is always pushing the envelope, trying to squeeze every last dime from teams for his players.  This is not another edge that Boras can gain.  This is not his job.

Watching MLB Network today, Harold Reynolds sat back and offered a player like Felix Hernandez of the Mariners for his example.  The Mariners just made "King Felix" one of the highest paid pitchers in history, giving him a five-year, $135.5 million contract.  Do you think they would want a player like him going clear across the country to train at some facility with his agent?  I agree with Reynolds when he said that it is the team's responsibility at this point to get their doctors on him, their strength and conditioning coaches, their trainers. 

They are the ones spending the money, so it should be the team's choice as to where the player trains.  Is that so much to ask for when you are going to be paying that kind of money to one player?  If just one player gets caught for steroids, it impacts the entire franchise and shakes the entire league.  If Boras truly cared about the game, he would be working alongside the MLB, not going outside of it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Celebrities Read Mean Tweets

Turned in by Sam. Great find. Highlights include Larry King, Matt Leblanc and Justin Bieber.  Also, classic when no one laughs at Kristen Stewart's attempt at humor.

Also, after seeing Matisyahu here, think about his song "One Day," and K'naan's "Wavin' Flag." Right?

The Failed Video Game Developer Who Cried Wolf?

Two-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling has befallen some hard times lately.  His video game company, 38 Studios had gone under, leaving him in serious debt.  Every now and again, Big Schill will pop up in the news, whether it be to sell one of his bloody socks -- no, not the famous ALCS sock -- and now to join in on the big steroid discussion that has heated back up.

On Thursday, Schilling told ESPN that someone had told him that PEDs were a viable option on his way back from a shoulder injury with the Red Sox in 2008.  The former ace qualified that statement by saying,  "It wasn't anybody in uniform, it wasn't (then-general manager) Theo (Epstein), it wasn't (then-manager Terry Francona), it wasn't (then-assistant GM) Jed Hoyer, it wasn't one of the owners.  It was somebody that was involved in the day to days," he said.  "It wasn't (head trainer) Paul Lessard, it wasn't (massage therapist) Russell Nua or (medical operations coordinator) Jim Rowe or anybody."

Schilling went onto say that the conversation was overheard by several of his teammates, and quickly thereafter the front office was involved and went to Major League Baseball to investigate the issue.

"The other people weren't in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation.  And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not?  What did I have to lose?" he said.  "Because if I wasn't going to get healthy, it didn't matter.  And if I did get healthy, great.

"It caught me off guard, to say the least. That was an awkward situation."

It was never discovered who allegedly brought steroids into the Boston clubhouse, and this whole story sounds a little strange to me.  Schilling has a bad habit of popping up whenever its convenient for just him, and with the recent allegations against Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, he felt the need to attempt to one up that story with a hit against a ball club who could use just one good break. 

What is it with Boston athletes who were so beloved by the fans turning into complete schmucks?  Thomas goes AWOL, and now Schilling starts blowing his whistle at one of the worst times for the franchise in almost two decades?  I have to say that he's crying wolf here because a guy like Schilling just wants to stay relevant, otherwise he'll be down with the John Kruk's and Chris Singleton's of the world.

Bruins Trade Thomas, Good Move? No. Great Move

The only thing Boston hockey fans hated more than the lockout was the ongoing saga of steady netminder Tim Thomas

During the offseason, Thomas, via Facebook, sent out a message saying that he would be taking a year off from hockey to focus on his faith and friends, which really meant he would most likely be building a fallout shelter near his Colorado home after a few of his outlandish political acts -- remember when all but one Bruin went to the White House to meet President Obama?

Given the stellar performance his then-backup Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 1.97 GAA) so far this season, there was no need to hold on to Thomas or his $5 million cap hit.  There were numerous rumors throughout The Hub suggesting that Thomas would have been moved by the trade deadline at the latest.  New York Islanders GM Garth Snow had this to say about his views on what Thomas will provide for the Isles.

"We have acquired an asset for our organization.  This acquisition allows us flexibility with our roster moving forward."

If the definition of "flexibility" here is to have nearly $10 million dollars paid to backup goalies, then yeah, you guys are all set.

The quid pro quo for Thomas is a conditional second round pick that Boston can use in either the 2014 or 2015 draft.  For the B's, its time for Rask and Anton Khudobin to continue to shine like they have been thus far.  For Thomas, just more of the same -- sitting underground eating pork rinds and reading old TIME magazines.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This issue is never going to go away.  I've written about it a few times, but it gets tough to try and avoid the speculation and so many strong feelings and biases involved with the discussion.

Lance Armstrong has finally faded from news, thankfully, but just as that has happened, we get the newest chapter in baseball's ongoing steroid saga.  Names like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun have come up again, this time in association with a known PED clinic.  Rodriguez is a third baseman for the New York Yankees who has admitted to using steroid for three years early in his career for the Texas Rangers.  Braun is an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL MVP in 2011 and two months later, tested positive for PEDs.  So both players have either admitted using PEDs or have tested positive for them, but what is one thing they've never had to deal with?

Missing a game due to suspension.

Major League Baseball's performance enhancing drug policy says that the first time a player is caught for steroids, he is suspended 50 games.  The second time, 100 games.  If he's dumb enough to try a third time, he is banned from the game.  Okay, so let me see here... A-Rod has admitted using steroids once, and his name has been linked to several PED suppliers.  Braun has been caught once and linked again a year later.  Yeah, this makes sense.

The thing that irks me about both of these players, is how they lie directly to our faces.  They look into a camera or an interviewer's face; they look directly into our living rooms and say, "you guys are all stupid for thinking we would cheat."  Are we?  Then why, year after year, is the evidence piling up against you?  I read a piece by Bill Simmons the other day on this very topic, and he has a great point when it comes this issue in baseball.
We ignored their swollen noggins and rippling biceps. We weren't fazed by seemingly inexplicable surges in production, or even something as fundamentally perplexing as a 37-year-old doubles hitter suddenly hitting 50-plus homers. We didn't just look the other way; we threw heavy burlap bags over our heads and taped our eyeballs shut. And because we never stepped up, those enterprising dickheads bastardized baseball and ruined one of its most sacred qualities: the wholly unique way that eight generations of players relate to one another through statistics and records.  -Simmons
It pisses me off that Braun won the MVP over Matt Kemp got caught cheating, and still got to keep the award.  The San Francisco Giants best hitter early in the season? Melky Cabrera.  And what happened to him for a 50 game stretch that resulted in him being left of the playoff roster?  Right.

I will never be a professional baseball player.  I don't know what they go through during their careers with the pressure, the media, injuries, slumps, you name it.  I don't know that I wouldn't take steroids if I had a chance at greater fame or success.  If it was in the cards and I had, for whatever reason, cheated in the game that I love, I wouldn't be standing at a podium, or sitting in front of a camera on 60 Minutes telling my fans, the world, that they are all idiots.

This issue provides a unique opportunity, however.  As this is clearly a multifaceted dilemma, I have a virtually unlimited number of chances to write about and debate this issue.  In the near future I plan to write about players that have been suspected of steroids, players who should be suspected of steroids, and possibly some different paths to take as far as disciplinary action is concerned, so stay tuned.

A Possible Fight Against Fights? Let's Hope Not

By now, most of you have seen the fight between Boston Bruins energy liner Shawn Thornton and Buffalo Sabres goon John Scott that took place that took place at the end of January.  It was an ugly scrap right off of a face-off that left Thornton with a concussion.  Standing six inches taller and outweighing Thornton by 50 pounds, Scott is a menace on the ice, and one such player that may make NHL lawmakers' ears stand up.

When I was watching the game, NESN play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards told viewers that Scott averages just over three minutes of ice time a game under head coach Lindy Ruff in Buffalo.  About half the team averages that much in man-advantage time alone.  Writing this article, I want to ask "how and why is this guy even allowed on the ice?"  It is not just his size -- Zdeno Chara stands an inch taller -- and its not just his weight -- Derek Boogaard weight just a few pounds over 270 in his day -- but it is the way that Scott plays the game that makes him such a danger.  Especially to other players.

Now, I know a good number of Sabres fans, and I want them to know that I'm not simply complaining about Scott putting a beat down on number 22.  I can live with that, honestly.  Its not very often that the guy who solely trains as a boxer during the offseason gets knocked down, but when he does, its usually a pretty ugly scuffle.

I'm stating my case against Scott because as an avid fan of the game, this sort of thing scares me.  No, not that someone-getting-their-face-bashed-in-thing, but the thought that a fight like this could be evidence for more rule changes implemented in the NHL.  Players know the risks when they play this game.  This isn't meant to sound like I'm yelling down from my pulpit with a decision as to whether these gladiators should live or die, but ask any borderline hockey fan what their favorite part of the game is.  If they don't say the fighting, they're lying.

Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.  Two major fights broke out that could be filed along with Scott's.  The first pit Zac Rinaldo against BJ Crombeen and the second was between veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Max Talbot.  In both knuckle dusters, late punches were thrown, the heaviest of which came from Rinaldo and landed on Crombeen's head as he was clearly down and out of the fight.  Crombeen got up in a complete daze, and it almost looked like he didn't even realize those last two had landed.

This season, the number of tripping, interference and hand pass calls have spiked because of new rule changes.  Thornton knew the risk of fighting a 6'8", 270 pounder, and he'll never really know better than not to.  Players who don't know better will eventually force the league to step up in an effort to protect players on some level.

When a guy's eyes roll back in his head, he drops like a sack of hammers and still gets clocked -- twice no less -- not only are the Lightning not going to forget that, but I don't think the NHL lawmakers will be skipping over that highlight, either.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

C+ for Super Bowl Commercials This Year

The Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XXVLLXLXLLXIIIXIVLMMMMCXIVILIII last night, despite everyone believing the game would be a defense-dictating, low-scoring affair at the Superdome in New Orleans. Joe Flacco won the MVP, and older brother John beat Jim Harbaugh. Ray Lewis' last ride went until the train ran out of tracks. A great game, complete with a power failure and a Jerome Boger as the head referee, but for this disgruntled borderline Patriot fans and for fans somewhere in the middle of the 3,000-mile gap between the two warring cities, their attention once again turned to the famous Super Bowl commercials.

SB commercials have had a long history of costing way too much money to air 30-seconds for either shock-value based trash or in vain attempts to get you to laugh. Their affects usually last only until the game comes back on, but there are always those two or three that you will remember. This year, there were about six that I'll remember, but only three that I like enough to talk about some more.

For starters, can someone explain to me what Doritos M.O. is? When's the last time you saw one of their commercials? February 2012? During the Super Bowl? Either way, their first appearance, just minutes into the game was a solid showing and one of my favorites on the night. Anytime there is a man and goat roommate situation, it will have my undivided attention and in this case, it comes in at number three.

Number two is from a brand that has been on my top three commercial list since they were using frogs and chameleons in their ads. The Budweiser Clydesdale commercial once again impressed, this time with an ending that could have conceivably made a grown man tear up...not that I know if any did or not, I'm just saying...

And finally, if you didn't think this was the best commercial going, then I'm not mad, I'm just angrily disappointed.

Plenty of commercials came and went, and if you were hoping for another showing of the commercial or the old people Taco Bell commercial, then you are out of luck, my friend, because I thought they were pretty terrible. They dragged on for too long and both made me uncomfortable in their own unique ways. But in all seriousness now, what is the point of these commercials? I understand over 100 million people will see them, but is it worth the money? Do sales of Doritos skyrocket starting that Monday morning, or have these commercials just become a spectacle?

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing them, especially in a year like this where I had no real investment in either team, but am I the only one who thinks that maybe just some of that money could be used for good? If I'm getting preachy, I apologize, but think about it. Lay's potato chips aren't going to start collecting dust on a grocery store shelf because they didn't run a commercial, are they? I guess my point in all of this is, take for example. How many of you know what they do? How many use that site? How many actually visit it thinking you're going to see someone naked that they didn't show you in a commercial? Answers: Not enough. Not many. And way too many.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Brother Ali Track is almost as Meta as Inception

This is what I love about underground hip-hop. Rules can be ignored and anything can happen. The track in the video above is, as  himself will tell you in the intro, the Minneapolis  rapper's sampled recording of an interview with the Canadian Youtube personality, Nardwuar, and the music and very specific gifts Ali was given during his time talking to the odd reporter. It's great. It's one part commercial promoting Nardwuar and an equal part high quality hip-hop that could find a home on any of the Rhymesayers next mixtapes.

So the song is great. Just great. And what a cool thing for Brother Ali to do. He took time out of his day to make music for a huge music fan. If you watch the full interview on Youtube, you can see how impressed the gifted albino rapper from the Twin Cities is with the obvious care that went into the interview.. Let me try and break it down. There's a lot of layers but if you bear with me, I'll do my best to keep it simple.

Brother Ali: Rapper from Minneapolis who recently wrote a great article about the state of homophobia in contemporary Hip-Hop and also put out his fifth studio album, "Mourning in America: Dreaming in Color," this past year to critical acclaim.

Nardwuar:Canadian internet personality and musician, known for his odd fashion choices and his laser accurate gifts and records he gives to his interviewees.  For a fun intro into what he's about, check out this conversation he had with Lil Wayne Newton John

BONUS: For the sake of the greater good, and whomever reads these posts to the end, I have also included one of the tracks that got me into hip-hop, keeps me coming back for more and will always be something good with an amazing message. Just do you, no matter who you are...unless you murder people for fun. Stop that. Listen to more Atmosphere instead.

Bearstonaut's New Video Shows Allston Some Love

Boston locals Bearstronaut showcase the vibrant life of Allston in their newly released video "Moniker."  With this video filled with poppy dance hall grooves and the dirty beauty that is Rat City, Bearstonaut is rapidly picking up momentum around the Hub as their first album dropped this past year.  I'll be sitting down to talk to the guys on Monday so stay tuned for some follow-up coverage on this Boston born come-up story.