Friday, March 29, 2013
It's not his fault these kids have no idea who Jason Dufner is.
Dufner was in Dallas on Thursday at the Salesmanship Youth and Family Center for a keynote address to the staff and children in preparation for the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship. Before luncheon, Dufner stopped by a classroom to visit with some students, and judging by the picture above, he's not much for story time.
Luckily this picture found its way on the internet, and some fellow golfers, including Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy on their Twitter accounts, had their fun making "Dufnering" the new "Tebowing" in the golf world.
As the great Bill Raftery would say, "a little lingerie on the deck!"
What a move by Pavel Datsyuk here, and that isn't the first time the 17-year veteran has put some dangle sauce on his opponents. On Thursday night, Datsyuk crossed up Sharks forward Logan Couture and put him flat on the ice, but it was Couture and the Sharks who would have the last laugh, as their backstop Antti Niemi posted a 2-0 shutout win against Detroit. The only thing that makes this play that much better?
Despite another brilliant move, this time in a shootout, Claude Giroux's Flyers still couldn't slip past the Islanders, whom they beat 7-0 in their last meeting. Giroux practically undresses Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, but the Flyers captain was the only one who could beat him as the Isles eventually won 4-3. Either way, you don't see a move work like that too often.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Well, that's embarrassing. I had numerous sources, from ESPN to WEEI to Yahoo! Sports telling me that Jarome Iginla was set to become the newest member of the Boston Bruins, but they were wrong, I was wrong. Everyone was wrong.
Iginla has just been officially traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins as of early Thursday morning. The deal will send forwards Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski to Calgary along with a conditional first-round draft pick is Iginla is re-signed in Pittsburgh next season, per CBCSports.com.
I am shocked by this. CBC had this article up at 8:47 p.m. Wednesday night that I did not catch, but that was overlooked by everyone when the news hit around midnight that Iginla would be heading to Beantown. The trade deadline is still a few days away (April 3), and thus far, the only other substantial rumor has been surrounding veteran defenseman Ryan Whitney from the Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins defense corps is in rough shape this season, and a left-handed D-man who could bolster their power play could be just what the doctor ordered.
But either way, the Iginla news has ruined my weekend, so let's hope the Bruins can get back on the horse and get another big deal done.
If you've been following any hockey news over the past few days, you've heard about the rumors involving 35-year-old Calgary Flames winger Jarome Iginla.
Late Wednesday night, after Iginla was scratched from the line-up for the first time in 441 games with the Flames, a deal was reportedly struck between Calgary and the Boston Bruins. Iginla will join the Bruins, who needed some good news after coming back from a two-goal deficit only to blow that lead with eight seconds remaining and lose in a shootout to division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
In return for the Flames captain, reports indicate the Bruins are sending young defenseman Matt Bartkowski and a top prospect in Alex Khokhlachev up to Calgary. Along with the two young players, a conditional first-round draft pick will be part of the swap if Iginla is re-signed in Boston next season.
All in all, this looks like a great pick up for the Bruins at a time when they really needed it. Iginla ranks third among active players with 525 career goals, and his veteran presence will be a huge spark at the Bruins ramp up for another Stanley Cup run. As to where he'll fit in, that's tough to say right now. The Bruins have been shaking up their lines a little bit recently, but on the offensive side of things Wednesday night, they scored five great-looking goals, with the first and second forward lines looking very sharp.
A third line spot would seem weird for the six-time all star, but right now seems the most practical unless they decide to mix up their pairings again. Whatever the Bruins do will be very interesting, and they have back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against Philadelphia and Buffalo to figure things out, provided the deal is completed and Iggy joins the black and gold by then.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, are introducing urinal games inside their stadium this upcoming season.
Yes, urinal games. If that doesn't sound strange enough, maybe IronPigs general manager Kurt Landes saying these games "are sure to make a huge splash" does. At the end of the day, the games would probably be too fun, but what if one of these games was a racing game and some guy made too sharp of a turn with someone in the urinal next to him...
Check out the video above of ESPN's Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo discussing the new bathroom technology.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson is such a loser. He shot over 400 three-pointers, averaged less than two assists a game and he sucks.
If you don't know him by name, maybe you know him as the clown who was gator clapping at the Florida Gators bench with just a four point lead in the SEC Tournament, or as an extra from "American History X." The video above is of Henderson when he was leaving the court after a third round loss to another underdog in number 13 seed La Salle. He reacted surprisingly well to the loss as soon as the game was over, but once he was out of the view of TV cameras, his winning personality really took over.
Either way, Ole Miss and Henderson are out of the tournament, so now we can focus all our attention on Dunk City a.k.a. Florida Gulf Coast University.
The number nine seeded Wichita State Shockers provided another upset in the NCAA Tournament when they beat the number one seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in the third round to reach the Sweet 16. March Madness has been full of upsets this year, busting virtually everyone's brackets, but apparently quarterback Tim Tebow had them winning.
Or at least it seemed that way in the video above, when Tebow gave the Shockers a postgame speech on their team bus. He has no connection to the team, but felt the team was a big enough inspiration to him and "so many people" that he asked to board the bus and give a quick, weird speech.
I mean, it'd be cool if Tebow came to my apartment and gave me a pep talk every now and again, but all in all I'd find it unnecessary...like this speech.
He's no Ray Lewis.
Ah, the ol' Omaha Spread. "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14" is set for release on Tuesday, and what better way to promote it than by having its two cover athletes fending off a gang of trophy-stealers who try to interrupt the duo as they're walking to their helicopter.
Newest world number one Tiger Woods and one of golf's greatest of all time, Arnold Palmer promote the newest game in the EA Sports series with a pretty great video. Who knew that an 83-year-old drink mogul had hand-to-hand combat skills like that?
As for Woods, for the first time since late 2010, he is back atop the world rankings after finishing first at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando on Monday.
This is Tiger's eighth win at the Palmer Invitational, finishing 13-under and two strokes ahead of Justin Rose. Woods tied the record for most wins at a single tournament all-time, matching Sam Snead's totals at the Greater Greensboro Open. The win also gives him 77 all-time, just five behind the career record, again held by Snead.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
I don't know what part of this video is better: the fact that Tony Stewart is trying to fight someone half his age in Joey Logano, or just the fact that after his mini-tirade, he makes sure to thank the man interviewing him.
This whole debacle started over Logano putting a block on Stewart after what would be the final restart during the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
"It's time he learns a lesson," Stewart said. "He's run his mouth long enough and done this double standard, but he's nothing but a little rich kid who has never had to work in his life."
BOOM! Stewart trying to hit the 22-year-old where it hurts. And speaking of 22, that's where Stewart finished after he was in the running for a spot on the podium because of Logano's move. Stewart also called Logano a little girl after one reporter asked about the video of Logano hurling a water bottle in his direction.
Oh, by the way, Kyle Busch won the race, but judging by the video below, no one was too concerned with him post race.
The Boston Bruins have hit a rough patch. After scoring just six goals in their last four games, head coach Claude Julien is working on fixing the offense and helping the B's find their rhythm again by changing up all of the forward lines.
When asked why he shook things up, Julien replied, "Because I can. Because I'm the coach. And every once in a while, you've got to do those things. Simple as that."
So it doesn't sound as though everything's coming up roses in Boston. The Bruins have not given up more than three goals in their last 11 games, and they have scored more than three just twice. Their defense and their goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have been getting the job done so far, so what can these new lines do to help?
The first line will now be made up of Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, the second will be Daniel Paille, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin and the third, Milan Lucic, Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron. The "Merlot" line will now have either Jay Pandolfo or Lane Macdermid (depending on who is scratched) along with the usual suspects Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
"Yeah, we go through this every year," Julien said of the recent struggles. "It does weigh on guys eventually."
As for the line changes, Julien was just hoping to change the mood of the team after a frustrating loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. "We just thought we'd start off with a bit of a fun thing, loosen up the guys, put some smiles on their faces, then get a good practice out of it."
In the final stretch of March, the Bruins will face the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens at home, then the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres on the road. Time will tell if these lines will make a difference or if the Bruins will stick with them in crunch time.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I came across this gem earlier while, fittingly enough, reading environmental history (yes, I do realize how depressing that sounds) and have since watched it at least five times.
I don't think that this character and I would see eye to eye on a lot of things but you need to admit that the man has style and little to no sanity. Anyways I have no idea what to make of this but I'm fairly confident of two things.
1. The guy is definitely from Maine. To those of you who, like myself, come from the 207, I know it's hard to swallow but face it. In no other state do you have the time or resources to record yourself tackling rotting trees in the forest. Nor would you have the desire to edit said footage into a four minute video complete with a megadeath soundtrack. Do this in California you're crazy. Do this in Maine, and you may be my cousin, brother, uncle or more likely all three.
2. Someone in his family was killed by a falling tree. I don't think an explanation is required here. All I'm saying is that he may be the Bruce Wayne of New England Forests. It's not who he is underneath, but what he does that defines him.
Sadly, despite my best efforts I was unable to find more about this arboreal vigilante. Suffice to say that he's out there. Waiting. So next time you're walking through the forest and trees begin to collapse around you don't be afraid it's just “Kill the Tree Man”... Yeah, maybe be a little afraid.
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is no stranger to the score sheet and on Thursday night, he netted the third goal of his career. While playing the Carolina Hurricanes, he brushed aside a shot attempt while there was a delayed penalty on the Devils.
It was ruled he did not have possession of the puck, so when forward Jordan Staal made a quick pass back to the blue line that just so happened to bounce of the boards and back into his own goal, the last person to touch it received credit. You love to see it. Karma is coming slowly to the Canes for leaving Hartford, and hopefully it never ends.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
The first rule of picking teams for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament? There are no rules.
Knowing the game and knowing the teams certainly can help, but it doesn't necessarily have to. My mom has been picking the Gonzaga Bulldogs any time I have seen her fill out a bracket, so could this be the year it pays off? Could we finally see a 16 seed beat a one seed? Will this be the second time in history all four number one seeds make it to the Final Four?
I don't know. You don't know. The quarter you've been flipping and the strangers you've been asking don't know either. But with the odds of picking a perfect bracket at 9.2 quintillion to 1, you gotta try something, right?
With those odds and with every American filling out a bracket, there is the potential to see a perfect bracket just once every 400 years.
So let's say you're staring at a blank bracket. Let me start by saying I am no expert, nor do I claim to be, and I have never even picked a perfect round to date. But whether you fancy yourself an expert, know nothing about the tournament or just want to try something knew, here are some directions you can go.
The first one is the easiest, and should make the most sense -- should. The "chalk" picks, as they're known. Just pick whatever team has the highest seed all the way through. You'll end up with Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga and Indiana in the Final Four.
If you love the underdogs, pretty easy one here, just pick upsets all the way through. Good luck with that one, though. NC A&T, Western Kentucky, LIU-Brooklyn/James Madison (play-in game Wednesday night) and Southern is a rough Final Four, though, fair warning.
No one likes to root for someone they don't like, so try picking schools that a friend goes to, or that you've heard of...or just pick against teams -- like against Duke if you're a UConn fan -- if you hate their colors or their mascot or their fans.
Along those lines, say you know nothing about the teams, picking mascots is a pretty solid strategy. Take the size or ferocity of the animal, or the historical significance of the person or group, and stack the two sides up. Easily the most fun way to look at a bracket, and some match-ups provide more fun than the actual games (like the Michigan State Spartans versus the Valparaiso Crusaders) if you're not into it that much.
The most important strategy is just to go with your gut, no matter what. Like the picks you're making. It'll make the tournament more fun, and when you pick a winner that your friends don't have, gloat like crazy, because it may never happen again. Have fun out there.
Fort Myers has been buzzing this spring, and for the first time in a calendar year, most of the news is positive.
The Boston Red Sox have a new manager and a lot of new faces around the clubhouse. As with any Boston sports season, there are going to be pessimists -- 'why are we keeping David Ortiz around,' and 'well, we won't be able to beat the Blue Jays anyway!' -- who keep reliving the same 69-93 season of yesteryear. But what about the optimists, what are they focusing on? Is it the sub-2.50 ERA the starting rotation has combined for this season? Is it that the team has a strong leader like John Farrell to get Boston back in the playoffs?
Or is it "uber-prospect" Jackie Bradley, Jr.?
In 19 games this spring, Bradley has posted a .439 average with a 1.110 OPS. He is a versatile 22-year-old outfielder who was drafted 40th overall by the Sox in 2011 out of the University of South Carolina. In 2010, he was named the College Baseball World Series Most Outstanding Player while averaging nearly an RBI per game during the regular season and going 10-for-29 in the postseason.
Last season, while splitting time between Single-A Salem and Triple-A Pawtucket, Bradley hit .315 with 55 extra-base hits, 87 walks, and 63 RBIs in 128 games. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Red Sox organization, and currently ranked number 32 of MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects.
So why has his name come up so much recently? Well, aside from him tearing up the Grapefruit League, Bradley's call-up situation is tricky. As it stands, he is not on the 40-man roster for Boston, and if he were to play this season in Boston, it would affect his arbitration eligibility and free agency status down the road. I don't want to just invite myself to the pessimist party, but I feel like people are counting this chicken before it hatches.
The idea has been kicked around that with Ortiz on the disabled list, the team could move Jonny Gomes to the DH position and call up Bradley to play left field in Boston. Bradley is a young player who has shown a streak of brilliance, so why not ride the wave now and see if he can add a bang to this team and the fan base to start the season?
There is no doubt that Bradley is a great player, and seems to have a great attitude, so the safest bet would be to call him up now, let him learn from guys like Ellsbury, Gomes and Shane Victorino (not to mention Farrell), and if he plays too well to afford to send him down, well, that's a problem the Red Sox would love to have.
It's 5:30 a.m. on a chilly Wednesday in Boston. The wind audible from my bed, streetlights still glowing behind drawn blinds, I jump out of bed as soon as I hear the shrill beep from my alarm. I look forward to these early morning wake-ups every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I can scurry off to join the rest of my tribe at the day's November Project location.
Three days a week, people from all over Boston and surrounding towns convene to churn out leg burning, chest sculpting, and ab ripping workouts that, combined with the amazing support and motivation from your fellow tribe-members, WILL make you a better runner, racer and athlete instantly. The best part, it's all 100 percent free!
I started attending these workouts three weeks ago after being approached by a few of my friends from Northeastern University. I was looking to get out of my stagnant workout routine and keep things exciting. I was apprehensive about the 6:30 a.m. start, but was determined to try it out.
My first day required running to the Downtown Crossing area, doing a deck of cards, and running home. We even squeezed in a classic game of sharks and minnows in the middle of the hard-working controlled chaos. The love, support and hugs (yes, we hug to show love) from people that I had just met seconds before was amazing. It inspired me to keep pushing out reps even though my body just wanted to stop. Despite being sore for the next two days, I decided to stick with it and was pumped to try the stadium.
On Wednesday I walked into an empty Harvard Stadium not knowing what to expect. We had our intro huddle lead by Brogan Graham and then we were off to run up and down every step of sections 37-13 then back to 37 (up the seats and down the steps). Legs wobbling, sweat dripping from your brow into your eyes, you have no choice but to keep going as Bojan Mandaric snaps pictures and yells words of encouragement. If you are struggling or slowing down, there is always someone there to give you a boost with a high five or a hug. I had never been so spent after a workout. My mind was made up, this was for me.
Friday was on to Summit Ave in Brookline where we would proceed to run up and down the formidable hill that builds up to a 16-17 percent incline. Depending on the days workout you end up doing around four miles of running, and I promise you will feel it. You run alongside your new friends while maintaining "ninja status" so as to not disturb the sleeping residents of Brookline while you earn your weekend. When you arrive home after the hill you have to tune in to @Nov_Proj to find out Monday's destination.
The next week you do it all over again, with excitement and curveballs here and there, but the process is the same. During week two, I felt stronger and was able to do more work faster than I could the prior week. Week three was even more fun, and I can't even begin to describe the fitness gains I have already achieved. New Balance was even nice enough to show up and hand out some gear and is giving free shoes to everyone who EARNS them by attending eight workouts in March.
So if you are interested in joining a grassroots workout movement that WILL get you fit for free while building amazing relationships with like-minded, driven people like yourself, then join us. You have all of the information, no questions necessary, so just show up ready to work and ready to have a lot fun. Just show up. Drop a #verbal on Twitter or Facebook if you dare, but if you do, you better show up.
President Barack Obama has locked in his picks for March Madness. He has wisely went teams from the Big Ten in his early picks, while still picking a few minor upsets including Belmont over Arizona and Minnesota over UCLA.
The Commander-In-Chief went 1-for-4 on championship picks in his first term, and to kick off the next four years, he has picked the Indiana Hoosiers. Overall, some very safe and smart picks from our President, so we'll see how he does starting Thursday afternoon.
Justin Timberlake hasn't released a new CD since 2006, but with his latest that came out Tuesday, "The 20/20 Experience" wait was worth it.
The 20/20 Experience combines pop, hip hop, soul, jazz, latin and rock into a 10-track seamless album. What popped out to me at first is how long each track is. The longest is "Mirrors" at 8:06 ranging down to "That Girl" at 4:48, my two favorites on the album as it turns out, but sometimes the songs can drag a little bit in the waning minutes.
"Don't Hold the Wall" and "Let the Groove Get In" are two such tracks that don't really do much for me. They're interesting enough to listen to musically, but they just sound like JT is trying to do too much. But hey, pretty tough to make an entire CD of just jams, so they balance things out.
The first track on the album is titled "Pusher Love Girl," which is a great way to introduce listeners to Timberlake's newest stylings, and things kind of rollercoaster up and down from there. There are really only four or five songs I find myself really getting into, but listening to the album all the way through makes each track make sense a little more. It is not a CD full of club songs, and if it was, I probably wouldn't even listen to it.
You can tell JT really took his time with these tracks, and really explored every direction that they could go, making it very easy to appreciate what he's done. The best news about this 10-song album, is that Timberlake is working on another 10-song album to come out later this year. If you want to listen, but don't want to buy the album, check out The 20/20 Experience on Spotify.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
There once was a boy named Fernando Rodney. Fernando loved to play baseball with his friends in the Dominican Republic. One day, Fernando stumbled across a magical talking plantain and brought it to the game. The plantain gave him luck, often telling him, "if you keep me close to you, you're going to get the win."
No, that is not just a made-up story because yes, the Tampa Bay Rays closer is claiming to have a magic plantain that is giving him and his team luck. Rodney has pitched his team into the finals of the World Baseball Classic, and has not only his teammates, but a talking fruit, to thank.
It is currently unknown whether the plantain is an English or Spanish speaking fruit, but we do know that Rodney now carries it around in his uniform waistline like a holstered weapon. When the plantain is on the field, the Dominican team has gone 7-0. Manager Tony Pena isn't complaining.
"So I got surprised when I saw Rodney with a banana, a plantain on the side. I think he pulled them out, I just laughed," he said. "Right in the middle of the game, this made everybody laugh. And the ballclub, the game like this, you need to have a little bit of fun. You need to find a way to loosen up. And I'm glad that he did it."
The Dominican Republic will faceoff against their island neighbors 80 miles away, Puerto Rico, Tuesday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Pepsi has been doing big things lately. The blog recently had a post about NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon participating in this new prankster ad campaign, and now, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving is getting in on the action.
Irving plays "Uncle Drew," an older gentleman who remembers watching Oscar Robertson and who doesn't understand the rappity-hippity hop the kids listen to these days.
These commercials have almost nothing in common, but we'll stack them up anyway. The first was apparently a Super Bowl commercial, but it somehow slipped through the cracks with me.
One of the things that makes this commercial great is the husband's argument starter: "Um, I don't know!" Starting your side of the argument like this practically always assures you will win. Oh, and then Ted swooping in and stealing the Wheat Thins is classic.
The commercial below is for Subway, and used to not be funny to me until about a week ago, and now its hilarious. This song should be on iTunes.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Like most New England fans, I was devastated to learn that as of Wednesday, receiver Wes Welker was no longer a Patriot.
In short, the Denver Broncos offered the five-time Pro Bowler an offer he couldn't refuse (proving that Don Vito Corleone would be an ideal GM), and in the process Peyton Manning became one step closer to another Super Bowl. Yes, it's sad to see Welker go, but the acquisition of Danny Amendola adds another weapon to a potent offense that already has the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Stevan Ridley with Tom Brady running the whole show. Now cap that off with Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and I'm cautiously optimistic about the Pats offense this coming season.
The responses from the Patriots faithful range all over the board for what I'm going to dub “Welkergate.” From unrealistic optimism -- It's okay because the Patriots are going to have a reincarnated Walter Payton at running back next year! -- to morbid pessimism -- I heard that the franchise is going to move to Chechnya because Welker left... -- supporters have wasted no time sharing their thoughts on the matter.
Despite numerous valid responses to Welker's departure, some fans seem determined to take it personally. As I went on Facebook immediately following the deal (my fault for expecting an intelligent opinion on Facebook), I saw countless examples of one simple fact: Boston fans are some of the most disloyal, two-faced and downright cruel supporters of any city in the nation and have the attention span of a ten cent goldfish.
Now I don't think this applies to the majority of Boston fans, but I was amazed the number of people saying things like, “Why don't you go lose the Broncos a Super Bowl!” or “We're better off without him he never did anything for the franchise!” The list goes on and on with most comments containing the vulgar elegance that only a fan wearing a sideways hat with the wrong team colors on it could articulate.
While it's justifiable to be mad about such a high profile player leaving the team, these fans constantly display their lack of knowledge about sports, or in general, by overlooking the substantial contributions that players like Welker or others have made to the franchise. Yes, Welker may have dropped one pass in the Super Bowl but that pass would not have mattered had the defense not allowed Eli Manning to lead an 88-yard drive with less than four minutes remaining. If that argument doesn't do it for you then maybe this one will: the Patriots would not have had the success they had in 2011-12 or over the past six seasons (76-20 record) without Welker's 672 receptions (a franchise record) 7,459 receiving yards (second in Franchise history) or five 100+ reception seasons (the only player in NFL history to do so).
The fact that supposed fans can overlook such an unrivaled level of performance is both aggravating and disappointing, but sadly is true in just about every Boston-area sports team.
These are the same fans who called for the release of David Ortiz during the 2011 season despite the fact that he holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs, carried the Sox to the 2004 World Series and has done more for that team and the city of Boston than most people will ever dream of. These are the same fans who boo Ray Allen every time he sets foot in the TD Garden despite the fact that he was a crucial part of their 2008 NBA Championship. These are the same fans who boo Phil Kessel despite the fact that he was crucial to the Bruins rebuilding period prior to their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship (his trade gave the B's the picks to draft Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton).
The list goes on and on: John Beckett (2007 ALCS MVP), Kevin Youkilis (2008 Hank Aaron Award), Joe Thornton (five seasons as team captain) and Julio Lugo... Well, okay, I'll give you that one, but you get the idea.
The point is that while we may not be happy when players leave or do not perform to our expectations, it's classless and unfair to ignore the accomplishments these players have made for a franchise. While it was definitely time to let Beckett go last year, I have nothing but respect for him and what he did for the Sox, particularly during the '07 World Series. Sometimes fans need a reminder that their franchise would not be where they are without the contributions of these players.
While again, this doesn't apply to the majority of Boston fans, there are enough people spouting nonsense out there for it to be said. It's perfectly justifiable to be upset to see Welker go. Heck, you can even be mad at Welker himself, but don't ridicule his contributions to the franchise, because the fact of the matter is, he was an essential part of the New England Patriots for the past six years and nothing can negate that.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Pure gold. In a Pepsi promo, Jeff Gordon plays a mild-mannered minivan driver who takes a Camaro for a test drive with an unsuspecting guy from the dealership. Although it really has nothing to do with Pepsi other than the can on the dashboard that has the camera in it, its a great ad for so many reasons.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Red Sox have signed some interesting names this offseason, but have not found that left-handed outfielder they have been searching for.
Less than three weeks away from Opening Day, the Detroit Tigers have released under-performing left-hander Brennan Boesch, and the Red Sox are among the teams with their eye on him. The Mets and Yankees have also reportedly shown interest in the 27-year-old.
Boesch would bulk up the outfielding corps with his glove and playoff experience, but his offensive stats from 2012 are lacking: a .240 average with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 132 games.
Boesch was on the books for one year at $2.3 million after he avoided arbitration, and the Tigers will only be paying around $390,000 of that whether he signs elsewhere or not.
The Red Sox have signed some other under-performers this offseason like Mike Carp or Jonny Gomes, but maybe they're building up a monster intangibles list? Its tough to say how this season is going to look whether Boesch signs or not, but if he does, it will be interesting to see where all the players fit in their first years in Boston.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
It took an extra frame in the shootout last night at Scotiabank Arena, but David Krejci helped pushed the Bruins to a win over the Senators. After going down 0-2 quickly, the Bruins tied it up in the second with a goal by Daniel Paille and eventually forced a shootout.
The star of the shootout was Tuukka Rask, but attempting to make the play of the year, Kaspars Daugavins looked to steal the spotlight. With two points on the line, his circus shot attempt was probably ill-advised, but had Rask not made a highlight reel quality save, then it would have been a different story. Either way, awesome to watch, especially because it pretty much cost the Sens the game.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
The World Baseball Classic has been criticized for all sorts of reasons since its inception in 2006, and now we can add an international brawl to that list.
Saturday evening, Team Mexico and Team Canada squared off in a first-round match-up at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., then actually squared off around the home plate area in the ninth inning.
Earlier in the game, there had been some bad blood brewing between our neighbors to the north and those to the south over a late takeout slide and a collision at home plate, but in the ninth inning, Mexican pitcher Arnold Leon decided to take things into his own hands. He threw one very inside on Canadian outfielder Rene Tosoni, prompting a warning to both benches from the home plate umpire. Leon must've been tying his shoe or looking at the center field scoreboard because on the very next pitch, he absolutely drilled Tosoni in the back, and all hell broke loose.
Both benches came storming out, meeting around home plate. In baseball, bench-clearing brawls usually end up with a lot of pushing and shoving, but apparently in international baseball, you get an all out war. In the videos posted here, there are several scraps that break off involving tackles and some serious punches. And as if it wasn't bad enough on the field, Canadian pitching coach Denis Boucher was hit in the face with some sort of bottle as the teams were heading back to their dugouts.
Reports from during the fight and in the aftermath point to Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves being one of the key combatants. You can see him in the middle video at around the :30 second mark, in a big pile of Canadian players. Aceves was ejected, and may face even more serious penalties as a result.
Team Canada, wanting to boost their run differential should their fate come down to a tiebreaker, bunted in the ninth inning even though they were up by six runs. Mexican manager Rick Renteria says issue might have been taken with what the Canadians were trying to do, and they acted "in the heat of the moment."
Very bizarre scene to see in a tournament like this. The one good thing you can take away is that North American ratings may be up when these teams play again, but with over 40 players on the field and just four umpires, its surprisingly nobody was seriously hurt.
There wasn't much that went the Flyers way in Saturday afternoon's 3-0 blanking by the Bruins.
All three goals were scored within 2:18 seconds of each other. Tyler Seguin got it started with a power play goal, then Chris Kelly netted the second with assists coming from his third line mates, Jordan Caron and Rich Peverley. To cap the scoring, Daniel Paille slipped one under the pads of Ilya Bryzgalov assisted by the other two Merlot liners, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
The Bruins played a complete team game, pressuring the Flyers right down to the last second with a late energy that has been lacking the past few contests. Playing as a team also means stepping up for your guys when called upon, and today, Thornton answered the bell against tough guy Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo went down to the corner to put a heavy hit on Bruins D-man Johnny Boychuk, and while it was a little high, it was clean.
Still, Thornton took exception to the hit and challenged Rinaldo right away. The Flyers energy liner is a pretty tough customer, and usually leads off his bouts with some wild hooks, but when you're fighting Thornton you have to be better than that.
Decision - Thornton.
Former manager of multiple teams both in the MLB and Japan, Bobby Valentine will be starting a new job as the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in July. In April, though -- as this commercial suggests -- he will be reporting to a new team.
The fantasy baseball team he manages on CBSSports.com. Its a great set-up for a commercial, I just think his delivery could've been a little bit better when it came to the Boston situation. But holding a beer while in the office is classic, overshadowed only by the black t-shirt, sunglasses and mustache he wore after being ejected from a Mets game in 1999.
Friday, March 8, 2013
After some Bruins fans were biting their nails hoping that someone from the Ray Bourque bloodline would play for Boston again, Ray's son, Chris, has officially cleared waivers and will be placed in Providence, keeping the dream alive.
In his stead, Jordan Caron has been recalled from the AHL affiliate, joining Lane Macdermid and Jay Pandolfo as candidates to fill out the struggling third line in Boston. Caron has put up 10-5-15 totals in 48 games for the P-Bruins, but has experience playing alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
After a much needed win against division opponents Toronto Thursday night, the Bruins are looking to get things back in the right track, and while step number one should be getting their power play in order, a high priority is still figuring out what can be done about the third line troubles.
In a battle between the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the Nanaimo Clippers of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, we have one of the strangest cases of broken glass along the boards.
Generally, the plexiglass boards have some serious give to them, but apparently not when a skate goes through them. How his skate even got up there is probably the most bizarre part, with a Jet Li-esque spinning kick to take the end board down. Somehow no one was injured in the play.
The National Hockey League proposed a realignment plan late in 2011 which was initially rejected by the NHL Players Association. The plan included keeping the two conferences, but going from three to two even-numbered divisions per conference.
The West would pick up the Winnipeg Jets while the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets would move into the East. This would make things a bit uneven, with the West having 14 teams and the East, 16.
For the first time since the 1973-74 season four of the Original Six teams (Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Detroit) would be in the same division and five (New York Rangers) in the same conference with the Chicago Blackhawks rounding things out in the West.
The move makes great sense in some ways, and has potential to hurt teams in others. For example, Winnipeg moving to the West will be a huge help for them travel-wise, considering they will no longer have to travel over 2,000 miles to Sunrise, Fla. to play an inter-division game with the Panthers. However, the Jets then become a small fish in a huge pond, going up against teams like the Blackhawks, Predators and Blues.
An issue has already been raised with the uneven conferences that teams from the West have the advantage, because only six will not make the playoffs as opposed to the East's 8, giving Western Conference teams a seven percent better chance at the postseason. The realignment is designed to make things more competitive, keep travel times down and keep fan bases happy.
The Rangers, Flyers and Penguins will stay in the same division, keeping those great rivalries together. The Bruins and Canadiens won't lose any steam in their fued and should benefit from another historically great team in the Red Wings joining the mix. The Avalanche and Wild will have a better time playing teams in their time zone and will no longer have to clear customs for every away division game.
Realignment makes sense in the end. It is not like a long tradition is being broken, and this should add a good mix in the schedules, giving teams a better look at the overall playoff picture when it gets close to crunch time.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Someone once said, "no man is an island."
When it comes to the blogosphere, no one man can be an entire blog. Author of multiple "Supporter Submissions" including his latest on sequestration, Bill Fallon is an amateur blogger who has bulked up Three if by Strike with material from Boston sports fandom to health and fitness to our country's financial concerns.
For nine years, Bill has been my confidant, and as a student/accountant/fitness guru/culinary wizard, his skills are unparalleled in each of those fields. He has recently launched his own blog, "Bill's Journey into Health, Fitness and General Nutrition," and amidst all of these things, has lost a remarkable 54 pounds in six months. Through various workouts -- most recently including the November Project (post soon to come with all the info if you're interested) -- Bill has transformed himself into an athletic superpower.
In his spare time, Bill is the trumpet player/guitarist/percussionist in a band titled after him: "The Bill Fallon Effect." He is also a coach for the Emmanuel College Baseball team. How does it do it all? Well, you'll have to ask him yourself.
To date, Bill has submitted just a handful of pieces, and every now and again will pop into the blog to say hello, so keep your eye out.
One of the newest Bruins in the lockout-shortened season, Chris Bourque has underwhelmed so far this season with just one goal and three assists in 18 games played. While the NHL season had yet to begin, Bourque dazzled in 32 games for Providence, scoring eight goals with 20 assists. In the Bruins' ideal world, Bourque would be back in Providence, getting his mind right for another stint in the big leagues down the road, but there's one problem.
The winger is being optioned back to the AHL affiliate, but must clear waivers for the move to be completed, leaving room for the possibility of another team to pick him up. Bourque was traded last offseason from the Washington Capitals for forward Zach Hamill, so it wouldn't kill the Bruins to see him go, but for the son of Ray Bourque to put up a poor showing like that in Boston is not how anyone wants his tenure here to end.
Bourque found a home on the B's third line flanked by Rich Peverley and centered by alternate captain Chris Kelly, but the line has combined for only 15 points on the season. His minus-6 rating out-shined his three power play assists with the second unit, and couldn't seem to find a place. His playing style was fast and gritty, but with a solid energy line in Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille (who Bourque has most resembled this season) meshing his energy with his linemates has been difficult.
The Bruins have recently-signed Jay Pandolfo to fill in for Bourque already. Pandolfo has won two Stanley Cup rings, and will look to be a new veteran presence, much like Mark Recchi was in the 2011 season, but the question still remains of how this third line will be paired up.
Never has the phrase "comparing apples to oranges" made more sense to me.
The Chicago Blackhawks have started out this lockout-shortened season with a 21-0-3 record, not losing a game in regulation to date. The Miami Heat, about three-quarters of the way through their lockout-free season, have won 16 games in a row. Both streaks are very impressive, but the Heat -- outside of their Harlem Shake video -- don't hold a candle to the Blackhawks right now.
In the NBA, there have been far better streaks than what the Heat have done so far. The 1971-72 Lakers, for example, won 33 games in a row and won the NBA Championship. The Blackhawks currently hold the record for longest unbeaten streak to start the season at 24 games. They have won 11 in a row, which is six shy of the record, not 17 shy like Miami.
"But losing in overtime is still losing..." Give me a break.
Chicago has lost three games in a shootout, and they have had to play bonus hockey (4 OT wins, 3 SO wins) a total of 10 times. They have never lost while they have had more than just one player or just the goalie on the ice. In their March 3 win against the Red Wings, they ran into a red hot goalie in Jimmy Howard who stopped 32 of 33 shots, yielding just one with 2:02 to go in regulation. In basketball, there is no one who can be in a position to shut down an entire offense by blocking the basket. The Heat have given up over 100 points five times during the 16-game streak, and have held just four opponents to less than 90 points. That doesn't sound all that impressive to me.
Next time LeBron James goes for a baseline three and gets flattened into the boards, let me know. Or maybe think about the last time a star player like Dwayne Wade made an impact for only about a third of the game in the form of one minute shifts at a time. The Heat are a great team, and what they're doing cannot be discredited, but it should not receive nearly as much praise as it does.
Streaks like this in hockey are so few and far between. Your offensive lines need to be clicking, your defensive pairings need to be responsible and your goalie -- or in this case, both of your goalies -- needs to be sharp night after night. Using two goalies has only worked well for just one team in recent memory, the St. Louis Blues with Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak, and with the Hawks using usually less-than-stellar Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, the streak carries even more weight.
The Blackhawks only have two players on their roster whose +/- rating is below 0. Both goalies average two goals or less allowed a game, putting them numbers 2 and 4 in the top five for goalies who have started 10+ games. And their top three scorers (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa) average just 20:17, 19:33 and 18:15 minutes of ice time a game respectively, equivalent to about one period of play, or about 33 percent of the entire game.
The Heat's top three scorers (James, Wade, Chris Bosh) average 38:30, 34:40 and 33:40 on the court respectively, good for over three quarters of play, or about 78 percent. Hockey is so much more of a team-oriented game, and getting 19 players on the same page for 24 games without any real momentum from line to line to be had, is absolutely remarkable.
In the end, one might say the streaks are incomparable. In basketball, there is no one sitting in front of the rim that you need to get by, there are no sticks or pads involved and you are never a man short for a two minute stretch. In hockey, there are no free throws, you can't walk into the lane unchallenged and you're sure as hell not going to score 90 points a night. On Sportscenter Thursday morning, the following question was asked:
Which would be a bigger blowout: the Heat hosting the Blackhawks in a game of basketball, or the Blackhawks hosting the Heat in a game of hockey?
If you can answer that question, then you know which streak is more impressive already. In the National Hockey League, you have a physical game played with skates, sticks and fighting. In the National Basketball Association, they play a game where you can take four steps without dribbling and get to shoot two free throws is someone taps your elbow. Both streaks are ongoing, but as for right now, given the Blackhawks all-around talent and depth paired with the much more physically-demanding nature of hockey over basketball, their streak is far and away more impressive.
Back in November, U.S. women's soccer goalie Hope Solo was set to marry former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, when an altercation broke out at 3 a.m. the morning of their wedding. Stevens was arrested after Solo was found with a bloodied elbow, a random woman with an apparent hip injury and Stevens showing marks on his eyes, head and knees and appeared to be hiding upstairs when police arrived.
Well, Stevens was released that night, and the happy couple went on with their wedding as planned. Police have closed the case and released the very bizarre phone call from Solo's brother Marcus.
Number one, who uses a stun gun in a fight and number two, when you're with less than 10 people, please don't refer to them as "a half-dozen." Marcus here doesn't seem to have a great grasp on where is at the moment, responding to the drugs or alcohol question with, "alcohol, definitely," and having to think way too hard about where his sister was responding, "......................dining room."
Here's what happened: They were having a casual get-together at Stevens' house, when someone started talking women's soccer. Solo took offense to other players on her team being talked about, and it made her think of the time she was an ass and was asked by her team to not show up to the stadium for their next game some years back. This set her off, and amidst all the red she was seeing, she mistook one of the "half-dozen" for Brianna Scurry and went bananas. The bloody elbow was from a Jon "Bones" Jones-like attack on the Scurry lookalike's hip, and Stevens' just ran upstairs to avoid the rage, got himself with a stun gun and hit his head on a dresser on the way down to the floor.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
In the latest installment of the battle for Ontario, the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night, ending in a 5-4 win for the home team. The fireworks got going early in the first period, but not on the scoreboard.
Senators rookie David Dzuirzynski dropped the gloves for the first time in his very young career, and didn't do the best job picking an opponent -- Leafs bruiser Frazer McLaren.
McLaren dropped the rookie with a series of hard rights, one landing right on Dzuirsynski's kisser, sending him down for the count. One concussion later, he was helped off the ice by teammates and the Sens' medical staff.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
As we push into the third month of 2013, concerns about the national budget still loom over our heads, and the dreaded fiscal cliff has not been taken care of. As of March 1, the government automatically entered into sequestration of funding because a balanced budget failed to be reached. On the outside, many people see this as a positive because of the enormous debt that has mounted over the years, but I want to talk about what and, more importantly, whom this term of sequestration really affects.
I will not try to get political, and I do not identify myself with a political party. I would rather form my thoughts independently through research and an understanding of predominately economic issues.
One major recipient group of government funds that will be adversely affected by radical spending cuts are University Research Departments. Many research programs in the private and public university sectors are funded through government grants and awards -- a form of government spending. These grants and awards help fund researchers and their staff, including many undergraduate and graduate students alike, working for financial aid money as well as full or part time work to pay living expenses.
Without the funding for important health and technological research, we risk falling behind the rest of the world in areas such as HIV, Alzheimer's, obesity and cancer research. We will also lose our spot towards the front of the line in terms of the plethora of new technology poised to boost any given economy. Most innovation that hits the market and eventually becomes a source of private spending in the economy is, at one point, government funded university research that evolved into a marketable product used to generate millions and millions of dollars.
Let's look at MIT for a second. For over 100 years, innovation at this university, fueled by government funding, has generated billions of dollars in national and personal defense, computer software engineering, architecture and hard technology fields. Another group of largely government funded fields of study that will suffer is green, or environmentally-friendly, initiatives that, as is a theme, have the potential to generate huge amounts of money as well as a have a positive environmental impact as we transcend an age of waste and focus on corporate responsibility to build new socially responsible standards.
Finally, urban and mental health research, a hotbed of national controversy right now is largely funded through National Institution of Health grants. Instead of addressing mental health and its causes, effects and treatments in lieu of tragedies of 2012, what we will be doing is detracting funds away from the people doing all of the crucial work in these areas.
Without the grants to support researchers and their work, we once again find ourselves in danger of having these sectors disappear altogether, and the problems that we have experienced as a nation will grow worse with no plan for the future and hope of help for those that truly need it.
What I am trying to say is that no matter what your political affiliation and views are on governmental spending and where money should or shouldn't be allocated, know that until a budget has been balanced and approved automatic spending cuts will be affecting everyone. Contact your senators and representatives and let them know how important it is for this to get done because we as a country are suffering exponentially every day as result.
Monday, March 4, 2013
I remember a few wild pitches getting away from me in my day, and if I could go back and do it again, this move would have to be tried out.
Berry College pitcher Levi Austin, after tossing a couple wild pitches, took out some aggression on Hendrix College's Collin Radack as Radack was attempting to score. The run counted for Hendrix, and somehow, Austin was allowed to stay in the game, even though he nearly incited a bench-clearing brawl.
The 2013 World Baseball Classic is underway for Pools A and B, with the rest of the teams getting into the action by the weekend.
In Pool A, Japan and Cuba have jumped out in front, already winning both of their games. Things are getting interesting in Pool B, with the Netherlands beating Korea, but losing to Chinese Taipei. Going off of my picks from last week's WBC post, here are some predictions for the second and championship rounds.
In the second round, the winners and runners-up from Pools A and B will face off, pitting who I believe with be Japan versus the Netherlands, and Korea vs Cuba. I think these games will be some of the best of the entire tournament... until we get to Pools C and D, that is. These teams are deep, and have a lot of talent, even though they are lacking players than many baseball fans in the US would recognize. I want to see the Netherlands do well here, but this grouping is a tall order to fill. Look for Japan to take this one, with Cuba right behind them. Korea lost early to the Netherlands in pool play, so maybe they're not the same team from the past two WBC's.
Pools C and D's second round match-ups could be 20-run affairs one day, then a 2-1 contest the next. Ideally, the United States, Canada, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic would make it through, and those four teams are stacked. My bias is going to show a little here, but while I think the US will make it through, I believe they'll be runners-up to the Dominican Republic.
So that brings us to the final four teams, and if all goes according to plan, the US with face Japan while the Dominican Republic takes on Cuba. I would absolutely love to see a US-DR final, so I'm gonna say it happens. With that game, no matter who the winner is, the WBC will earn more merit than its gotten the past two tournaments. The games are huge in Asian countries and the Caribbean, but they have never held much weight in the US or Canada. Hopefully with so many well-known stars playing, this year will be a big jumping point for the World Baseball Classic
The Golf Boys are back with their new single, "2.Oh."
Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler first broke into the music scene in 2011 with their song, "Oh Oh Oh," a ridiculous video and song featuring awkward lyrics and even more awkward dance moves.
You really can't not like these guys. Watson won his first PGA Tour event in my hometown of Cromwell, CT, so I've been a fan ever since, and Mahan won the same event here three years earlier. As for Fowler, the outfits have got to go, but he's the smoothest one in the video by far, so I'll let it go.
Crane wearing that weird red one-piece is just beyond words.