Monday, January 29, 2007


I was looking for something to take my mind off of major sports for a little while and I found it this weekend in Winter X Games 11. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in New England and spent winters skiing and logged my fair share of hours playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater but something about the X Games just pulls me in.

Winter X 11 didn’t just pull me back into the action sports scene it more or less ripped me out of my seat, hucked me off the last chance kicker, made me slam a monster energy drink and stomped me back onto the couch with my jaw set firmly on the floor for a gnarly (yeah I said gnarly) 72 hours.

Friday Night Lights

Friday night was one hell of a way to kick things off, Simon Dumont vs. Tanner Hall the showdown of showdowns in skiing SuperPipe. Granted you had to sift through the miserably boring snowmobile Snocross for an hour before you got to the big names in SuperPipe.

ESPN one of the few problems I had with your coverage was Snocross. I get that it’s one of the big sports in the X Games but just show it and get it over with don’t show me Snocross then one run of ski pipe then back to Snocross not cool. Although it was pretty funny that every guy that the announcers mentioned had something go terribly wrong. They talked about a rookie, Ebert, who was leading in a qualifier but he crashed immediately after they mentioned him. Same goes for Blair Morgan who has dominated the sport. They kept mentioning him and he kept having problems, he didn’t even make that final. Talk about announcers jinxing teams and players.

Finally after the 347 laps of Snocross qualifying we got to see Hall and Dumont. Personally I think Dumont got robbed but either way they both went off and threw down some ridiculous tricks. Hall’s 95.00 was the highest score ever in Ski pipe and Dumont’s 94.00 can’t be too far behind.

Hall won because of his technicality, his run was one of the most technically difficult runs ever. His marquee trick is a cork 720 on his fist hit, but in his second run he knew he needed to go bigger so he upped his first hit to a cork 900. Dumont’s know for his amplitude, like his 22 foot truck drivers on his first hit, but his biggest trick was one that took him about 45 feet down the pipe.

A 1260, what? 1260, are you kidding me? Three and a half full spins and he stomped it twice half way through his run. He also upped the anti on his final run, after falling on his second run, throwing in two grabs on his massive first hit. Let’s not leave out Bronze medalist Peter Olenick whose Whiskey Flip gave him a third run score of 90.00 making him the only person that came within 10 points of Hall and Dumont in the event.

Both Dumont and Hall’s runs were unreal and while I am partial to Dumont there was no doubt in my mind that they were one, two. Those two definitely set the tone for the games, at least for viewers. They definitely will be a huge part of the future of the X Games becoming more and more popular.
Progression: -noun: the act of progressing; forward or onward movement.

Can you sum up the X Games in one word? I can: Progression. Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall kicked off WX 11 as a showcase of that Progression. The theme of progression carried on through out the games and in no place was that theme more prevalent than in snowboarding.

The Flying Tomato, Shaun White has been unstoppable the last few years. In 2006 he didn’t lose a half pipe event. He won Olympic gold and won his fourth straight Winter X SlopeStyle gold. Progression got the best of him at Winter X 11. White was unseated by Andreas Wiig, who won double gold in slope style and best trick, and Jussi Oksanen. White is an exciting guy to watch and went after it but failed to stick the landing of his huge 1260 on the last jump leaving him with a Bronze medal instead of a fifth gold.

White also had to settle for silver in SuperPipe thanks to Steve Fisher. Never heard of Fisher but he qualified second and didn’t disappoint throwing down a 92.00 on his first run, thanks to some major amplitude, to take the crown. I like to see Shaun White win because he’s got great charisma and you can tell when he’s feeling it but the most exciting guy for me to watch was 19 year old Mason Aguirre.

Check out Mason’s bronze medal run here.

Aguirre was a silver medalist in WX 10 and just missed out on an Olympic medal in Torino when he finished fourth. Kid goes huge and has a ton of amplitude, which is definitely the most exciting thing to see if you are a casual fan. The judges love technicality but jaw dropping amplitude sells it for me (which is why I think Dumont got hosed). Watching Aguirre, White and guys like Antti Autti continue trick progression and jack up the amplitude again makes the X Games more and more of a premiere event on the sports fan’s event calendar.

Whether you’re an X Games fan or not you have to have respect for these athletes and the fact that they have taken sports that were considered recreational and made them some of the most popular in the world.

The Olympics at one time turned its collective nose at these sports, athletes and their counter culture connotations. Now the Olympics are taking pages, and events, from the X Games book but action sports continue to become more and more a part of mainstream sports. Part of this has to do with ESPN and their commitment to ‘action sports’ but the bigger reason is the athletes and how far they have taken their sports.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ode to the X Games

What to watch this weekend in a quiet, cold and depressed New England?

How about Winter X Games 11?

Before we get to Winter X 11 let’s take a look at some of the defunct events that won’t be showing up on ESPN this year.

Moto X Best Trick – Yeah, dirt bikes + jumps + snow = bad news bears/broken bones.

Snow BMX Racing – This one was pretty cool too bad it had to do go. It had some great non-life threatening crash potential

Skiboarding – Totally lame. Like inline skating crossed with skiing, seems a little bit like a wanna be sport (not that I could ever do any of the stuff they do)

Ice Climbing – no real comments, I’m calling indifference.

Super-Modified Shovel Racing – undoubtedly the coolest f’ing sport you’ve never heard of. Highest crash potential, the “shovels” look like spaceships, why did they get rid of it I’m not sure but I’m so glad that I just looked it up and I’m going to youtube to look for videos now. (no luck on the videos…sorry)

On to Winter X 11…

Tonight we’ve got Snowmobile SnoCross round one…ok not really that excited about that one. I’m not from Rumford, ME snowmobile racing doesn’t do it for me…but we’ve also got Men’s Skiing SuperPipe, which does do it for me and since we’ve got no snow here I’m jonesin for some skiing.

Simon Dumont (fellow New Englander) threw down a 91.00 in his second run of qualifying and beat out Tanner Hall (88.00), last years champ, to take the top spot heading into the finals. These two are clearly at the top of their games and of the sport. The next closest qualifier was Peter Olenick at 77.33.

After watching Dumont and Hall go off last year, this year’s final should be a battle. Expect some sick spins from Hall and some un-Godly airs (22+ feet out of the pipe) from Dumont.

p.s. both Dumont and Hall had some ridiculous crashes two years ago. Here is Dumont’s (He broke his pelvis in three places). Here’s Hall’s (both ankles, broken).

I’m a big ski fan so I’ll be excited for SuperPipe and SlopeStyle but I’ll also be watching Skier X. This race is like motocross on skis. It’s equal parts Super G and slope style. It’s like if they took regular ski racing and made it cool.

I have a deep appreciation for these guys and gals because I skied in a very small Skier X race in NH last year. I was incredibly frightened at the speed of the race and the size of the jumps (or hits if you will) and this was a chump race at Pats Peak. These people are a little bit nuts and they’re not even throwing 22 foot airs like Dumont.

Another set of events I’ll be watching is Snowboard SlopeStyle, Boarder X and Snowboard SuperPipe. Snowboard SuperPipe has to be the marquee event of the Winter X Games. You’ve got Shaun White, who is ‘action sports’ next Tony Hawk type athlete. After he took the Olympic Gold in pipe last winter he solidified his position as such.

White has the same household name that Hawk does. The Birdman brought skateboarding to the mainstream, thanks largely to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the X Games; he really has to be one of the most recognizable athletes in America, in name and image.

I would put Michael Jordan at number one and Hawk at number two, at least in terms of my generation. I think Shaun White has that same feel to him. I know I’ll be tuning in to see what the Flying Tomato throws down at the Winter X Games just like Tony Hawk was a huge draw for me in the Summer X Games.

My point being that guys like that are exciting to watch and draw in casual fans, especially people my age that grew up imagining they were playing in game seven of the World Series or the Super Bowl but also pretending to skate, board or ski in the X Games. Plus the X Games theme music comes from the very end of Closer by Nine Inch Nails...gotta love that
Nope no mention of any Boston teams, Simon Dumont is my New England team this week. See I really am ok with last Sunday…it just took a week.
p.s. my "Jack Bauer Joke" just got read on the air on WBCN...yes I rule...thank you Adam 12. Alright it's not my joke I found it on the internet but it was still funny...unfortunately I didn't win anything.
p.p.s. Here's the joke. "Tony was once shot in the neck, rushed to the hospital, underwent emergency surgery and was back on the job in just a few hours. Jack still can't believe that pussy went to the hospital first."
Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hope & Faith

Slowly and I do mean slowly I am starting to come out of the groggy, cloudy, comatose like state that the Patriots-Colts game left me in Sunday night. 24 and Prison Break got me through Monday and I’ve been able to stay away from ESPN and NESN to avoid seeing any more highlights (I might throw up if I see that Brady pick again).

The Baseball season is coming up but it’s still over a month away so the news has been slow. There is only so much you can say about what you hope Julio Lugo (JD Drew if he ever signs) and Dice-K will be able to do.

The fact that baseball is still pretty far out and I will probably be watching the Super Bowl for the commercials this year I have found it even harder to shake this sports funk I’m in right now.

I tried to give the Celtics another shot last night but blowing an 18 point lead against the Hawks didn’t exactly help to alleviate the constant nausea that currently plagues me. I know I said I am on the “root against the Celtics so they can get Durant/Oden” bus but it would be nice to see them win a winnable game here and there.

Side note: I actually wanted to watch the NHL All Star game but then I realized that it was on versus...that’s a network? Is there a death pool for tv stations cause if so I’m taking 2008 as the year versus goes down.

I want them to get the number one or two pick (two would almost be better because at number one there is so much pressure to take Oden) but 18 points to the Hawks, doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the Kids.

Side note: 23 days until pitchers and catchers report

As I sat sullen and downtrodden at the bar at Dailey’s watching highlights of the Celtics getting worked in the forth quarter I turned to look at another TV and it was the Spurs-Rockets game…nice, I can’t even escape subtle hits from the Celtics, now I have to watch Tim Duncan, who could have been a Celtic.

Needless to say I spend the rest of the evening taking my rage out on my own body with Chinese chicken wings and nachos while playing the the buzz trivia game, by myself, hey I never said I was cool.

After heading home from Ski Night, I won a Corona bottle opener (YESSS), I spotted my copy of Bill Simmons’ book Now I Can Die in Peace and decided to thumb through it for a bit. What harm could it do I’ve already read through it twice and probably had been picking through it a third time, maybe it would bring back some good memories.

I opened the book and found I had a book mark at page 163, a story from 2001 titled ‘That Game’ which refers to game six of the 1986 World Series a.k.a. the worst level of losing. Not really a good sign for getting out of the jaded state I’m in. I wasn’t really feeling reading anything about the Red Sox heartbreaking loss in ’86. Granted I was only two years old then so thinking about the whole Buckner thing makes me cringe but for me and my generation of Sox fan game seven of the 2003 ALCS is our ‘That Game’.

Either way I wasn’t feeling that story. I thought about jumping ahead to the end of the book for the 2004 stuff and I thought about just closing the book and going to bed. In my indecision I started flipping pages and I came to the next story; ‘Silence of the Rams’ ok that settles that I’m going to read this and call it a night.

Surprisingly it actually helped. Reading what Simmons had to say about the Patriots first Super Bowl win helped me get some closure on their loss to the Colts this year. I’m still a little foggy and I still think the Patriots should be playing next weekend but rehashing those old memories reminded me how great it can feel to be a fan.

“I mean isn’t that what this is all about? Isn’t that the nagging fear? That all those moral victories over the years won’t pay off in the end-that one moment when everything comes together, when your team keeps winning, when you keep getting the breaks and you just can’t lose?” (Bill Simmons Now I Can Die in Peace)

At first I read that article because part of me wanted to live in the past, I wanted to remember what it was like to win it all. Sure, that might sound stupid after all I’ve never suited up for any football team, never mind the Patriots but when you pour your soul into a team and follow their every up and down it does feel great when they win.

The more I read I remembered all kinds of little trivial stuff from that night. Like the fact that when we all put a dollar in a cup with our predictions of the game outcome everyone but my buddy Joey’s mom had the Patriots winning (even though we knew they were 14-point underdogs and would more than likely get smoked). Or that things started to go downhill when certain people showed up.

We even went as far as not letting anyone move from their seats, a tradition we still hold strong to this day. Not to mention the fact that when I went to school the next day I couldn’t hold my pencil because my knuckles were swollen from literally knocking on wood…yeah I might have had a problem. Although I hold tv networks responsible for the knock on wood thing I mean is it necessary to show ever jinxing/damning stat/montage at crucial points in games (FOX I’m talking to you).

Side note: For the 2004 Red Sox I ate a dominos cheese pizza every time Pedro pitched and a bacon pizza every time Schilling pitched and ritualistically did the Manny 28-part high five with Bridgewater every time the Sox scored a run.

I remembered skipping school the day of the parade, riding crowed orange line trains into Haymarket then pouring out into the streets around Government Center. “Lets go Patriots” chants filled the air and everyone was sharing high fives and smiling. The Duck Boats rolled up with the Lombardi Trophy and everyone cheered. The players climbed down onto the streets and shook hands with fans. Troy Brown, Tom Brady, Ty Law they were all there and you felt like you were one of them.

It was an incredible feeling and after I finished reading the article I stopped to think about it all. I didn’t want to live in the past, no one should. We should all remember and appreciate the past but look to the future. Thinking about the 2001 Super Bowl, the Silence of the Rams, put the loss to the Colts in perspective for me, I still think it sucks, but it makes me appreciate the three Super Bowl wins. Seeing your team win is the ultimate for any sports fan, and we’ve been lucky enough to see the Patriots win three times and Sox win once in the last few years.

That sounds a little like living in the past, I’m not I swear. We as Patriots fans have seen something that doesn’t happen very often in sports. Our team was the underdog, they had no chance and they won. They’ve stayed on top and kept winning and they will be in the mix for years to come.

You always want your team to win the next one. That’s what a lot of players will say. “What’s your favorite Super Bowl win?” or “which one means the most to you?” and they’ll say “the next one”. But can anything really replace the feeling of that first one? I don’t think so, it feels great anytime you win but there is something special about that first time.

The Patriots losing to the Colts sucked. It was depressing and it made everything around you seem dreary like a gray, rainy day. Losing a game like that puts you in a funk. You forget why you watch sports, why you follow these teams, why you hold them so close to your heart. Then you remember the past, you don’t live there, you just visit. That’s when you remember how great it feels when it all pays off and you remember that being a fan is about two words.

Hope and Faith…that’s what it boils down to. The Patriots lost to the Colts and it was tough to swallow but as a fan I have faith in them and I hope that I’ll be able to crowd the streets of Boston in celebration again. Not just for the Patriots but for the Red Sox and for the Celtics and even the Bruins. Call it selfish, call it whatever you want to call it.

Hope and Faith…that’s what being a sports fan is all about.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The (Red Sox) Dating Game

Just when I thought I had seen it all Boston Dirt Dogs broke this story. ‘Sox Appeal’, a Red Sox dating reality show. Nope I’m not making that up.

“New England’s most watched sports network, is teaming up with nationally recognized and Emmy Award winning Scout Productions (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) on Sox Appeal, a new reality show that proves there is more than one way to score at a baseball game.”

See I told you so. Sad thing is I will probably end up watching this show religiously, after all I was in at City of Palms Park for the Queer Eye Episode. Yes I stayed and watched a team of little leaguers yell at the Queer Eye guys for not knowing how to play baseball. Culminating in a 9 year old short stop drilling one of them in the chest with a ball as he tried to turn two.
No joke I thought Kevin Millar was going to cry he was laughing so hard.

Here’s the basic idea.

“Shot inside historic Fenway Park, Sox Appeal follows a series of three, two-inning long blind dates that take place over the course of 8 televised Red Sox games. The dates will be taped with cameras following one Hero dater as they meet three romantic hopefuls (one every two innings). During the 7th inning stretch, the Hero must decide who to invite to share the seat next to them for the rest of the game, but there’s still room for a strikeout as the invite can be declined. From love at first sight to the ultimate blind date disaster, the only sure thing is that they’re all Sox fans.”

It’s got guilty pleasure written all over it. Sure try and tell yourself you're not going to watch. I know you secretly watch the Duel and Next. After you finish trying to find out when they are doing casting for the show check out the full article.

Things to think about while Don Orsillo is resting his voice

Fastjoey9: I don’t want to watch sports until the baseball season starts.

That sentence pretty much sums up my feelings right now. The Pats-Colts game has been digested, throw up, re-eaten and thrown up again. I’m done talking about it, I’m done thinking about it. It sucked…a lot but now it’s done.

Let’s just say thanks to Fox for prison break and 24 (and I don’t thank Fox very often) since without those two shows I would have watched the Celtics lose the Spurs for the 18th straight time (they haven’t beaten San Antonio in 10 years). I can’t wait to see Kevin Durant in a C’s uniform next year.

“I don’t want to watch sports until the baseball season starts” that quote keeps circling in my head. Especially since it came from one of the biggest Boston sports fans I’ve ever known. I don’t blame him for saying it, I know a lot of people that feel the same way. It felt just as crappy when the Red Sox have lost as it did the other night, but I think it was a little different because it felt unexpected, after all it was Tom and Bill.

I haven’t turned on ESPN since Sunday. I haven’t even picked up the sports page of the globe, but I did flip on NESN briefly to catch some Celtics highlights (I shut it off before the Patriots Year in Review) and I saw a commercial that reminded me of Joey’s quote.

Don Orsillo sat at a desk with a cup of tea steeping by his side. He picked up a stack of note cards and held them up to the camera.

They read.


Then I saw a montage of Big Papi swings and home plate celebrations, and smiled. It’s almost time for the Red Sox again. The Sox have made a lot of moves this off season but they still have some lingering questions, some that will be answered in the next month leading to Spring Training and others that will take more time to be worked out.

What’s the deal with JD Drew?

It’s been 48 days and counting since the Red Sox and Drew agreed, in principal, to a five year, 70-million dollar contract. At first I was down on this move big time, Drew just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who fits with the Red Sox. He seems like a me first guy that doesn’t play up to his potential and is oft injured.

In thinking about all of that I wonder how much of my opinion has been formed by the bad rap that he has gotten over time, especially since his whole ordeal in Philadelphia

Side note: He sat out the 1997 season after he and agent Scott Boras guaranteed he wouldn’t sign for less than 10 million.

I’m willing to give Drew a chance. However I hope that the Sox are smart about the contract language, which is the supposed reason why it’s taking so long to sign him. If he goes down with an injury the Sox should make sure that they are protected from paying him for not playing. Trot is gone and Wily Mo’s not quite ready yet, but I’m ready to give JD Drew a chance.

What about Dice-K

What will Dice-K bring to the table in 2007, I have no idea. I will probably stay safe and say he’ll go something like 16-9 or 17-10 with an ERA around 3.00. Assuming he’s the number three starter and Beckett and Schilling pitch well then Matsuzaka is a solid third starter. He’s also only 26 and never pitched in the majors, so you can’t expect him to go 23-4 with a 1.78 ERA in his rookie year.

I think he’ll be good and I think he will come out of the gate strong. He’ll struggle with some things but overall I think he’s going to have a good rookie year. The unfortunate thing is that Boston is a fishbowl. If Schilling and Beckett don’t pitch like they are expected to and Dice-K struggles then the fans will be unforgiving. If those three pitch well we’ve got a great top three, probably not better than 2004 (as far as the playoffs go) but certainly a top tier three man rotation.

If Matsuzaka pans out and pitches like people think he can then the Red Sox will be looking good in the pitching department for the future, granted you can NEVER have enough pitching, but Beckett, Dice-K, Papelbon and Lester are all young (under 28) and could make up one of the top rotations in the league.

Who’s the Closer?

While we don’t know who the Red Sox closer is going to be in 2007, I’d love to see Papelbon but I doubt they’ll risk him getting hurt again, there is one thing that is for certain. Closer by committee doesn’t work. The Sox have added a number of bullpen arms but no designated closer. I have confidence Theo will figure things out before spring training starts but if he doesn’t add another arm, who will emerge as the closer?

Right now the front runners are Joel Pineiro and Brendan Donnelley. Doesn’t inspire much confidence but Craig Hansen hasn’t proven he’s ready yet, Mike Timlin is more suited to the set up role and Julian Tavarez wasn’t very good until the games didn’t matter. Right now I’d say Donnelley, with Pineiro being more of a long or middle reliever.

How about some love for the offense?

Obviously a large portion of the offense falls on the shoulders of Manny and Big Papi, those two can definitely give the Sox a chance to win any game on any given day. To make another run at the World Series they will have to get some help from other guys. Guys like Youkilis and Lowell have showed what they can do.

Wily Mo Pena will hopefully give the lineup some extra pop when he is playing, while Julio Lugo should add some speed to the line up which could lead to scoring runs with Papi and Manny hitting behind him.

Lugo and Drew (if they sign him) will be the biggest question marks and people will be expecting them to make an immediate impact. Anything you get from Dustin Pedroia is a bonus as far as I am concerned. The guy who I’m looking for to step up is my boy Coco Crisp. I think Crisp got a bad rap last year because he struggled and Damon did so well in New York.

Crisp got off to a great start and really looked like he was going to be a good replacement for Damon, he’s a different player but he adds speed and some power (Damon’s power numbers are helped by Yankee Stadiums short porch in right). I think he will have the biggest turn around; after all he missed a ton of time with that broken thumb. I see Crisp hitting over .300 with 15-20 homers and a solid number of RBI’s.

He’s not a stellar lead off hitter but with Youkilis and Lugo up top the Red Sox can move him down in the line up which adds speed to the part of the line up that will feature Drew (maybe), Varitek, Lowell and Pedroia. A lot of people will be expecting an immediate impact from the new guys but I think Crisp will have something to prove this year and I think he will do it.

Whatever happens in 2007 it’s sure to be another roller coaster ride, so rest your voice Don. I have a feeling Big Papi and the Sox will have a few more walk off wins for you and Jerry.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'll have the crow please...

1 – That really, really, really sucked.

2 – I am really, really, really not looking forward to two weeks of wall to wall Peyton Manning…like we don’t see him enough.

3 – I can’t decided which team I want to see lose more. I hate the Colts, even more so now, but Rex Grossman is so awful that he makes me dislike the Bears. I guess that means the thing I’m most excited for about the Super Bowl is hearing the noises Prince makes before each song.

4 – One more stop or one more first down that’s all it would have taken.

5 – Back to the olde towne mantra “there’s always next year”.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to accept the fact that the 2007 AFC Championship was one of best playoff games ever. It is just too tough to swallow that loss. Peyton Manning is a great quarterback and he stepped up and got over a huge hump that was the Patriots.

Good, great, grand that doesn’t mean I have to like it or be happy for him. He’s still a square and Brady still has been tremendous in the regular season and the playoffs and to be honest I’d still rather have number 12. Clearly you can’t win them all and the Colts played better, maybe they were the better team, maybe not but in any case they played better when it counted.

It’s certainly no fun to see the Pats lose but when you consider the fact that no one thought they’d be in the AFC Championship, let alone the Super Bowl, you have to like what is going on in Foxboro and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the Brady-Belichick era. They weren’t supposed to beat the Chargers but they did it, so I have full confidence that the Flying Elvi will be in the mix again for years to come as long as they have Brady and Belichick.

Alright enough Patriots, I don’t think I can take anymore, my head might explode.

Hmm what to focus on now, besides avoiding over exposure to 6’5” 230 lbs quarterbacks with a laser, rocket arm. Well it’s officially root against the Celtics so they can get Kevin Durant or Greg Oden and turn the team around time, I’m still kind of lost on the NHL and Pitchers and Catchers don’t report for almost a month.

p.s. – Pitchers and Catchers – Feb. 17 & Position Players – Feb. 21 – First full team workout – Feb. 22

Well the X Games start this week.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why the Patriots will beat the Colts

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start this. I’ve been listening to the radio all week and reading just about every thing the internet has to offer about the AFC Championship game. Pretty much the same formula of how I came up with my thoughts on why the Patriots would beat the Chargers.

Then I saw this…ESPN’s simulation of the AFC Championship game on Madden 07. I have to admit it was a little eerie. Here’s what Madden 07 predicted.
“Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, who earned a reputation for clutch game-winning kicks while he was in New England, burned his former team by booting a 49-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining to lift the Colts to victory in the AFC Championship game.”

Side note: Madden 07 picked the Colts but John Madden picked the Patriots who is smarter man or machine…you be the judge

Ah…what? That’s really not fair. That scenario has to be stirring in the back of every New England fans mind as their biggest sports fear in recent memory. I know it’s mine. The last thing I want to see is No. 4 lining up for a field goal with a chance to win the game for the Colts. I might legitimately implode.

The Patriots do have a few things on their side that can prevent this from happening however. First, they’re not the Red Sox, if they were I would be fully expecting this to happen. Second people are once again picking against them which further fuels the ‘no respect’ angle which they love to play and they play very well.

Lastly, this one’s a little weak but last week the ESPN simulation had the Chargers winning so it’s really no more accurate than somebody just saying their opinion on the outcome of the game based on whatever knowledge they claim to hold.

In reality however no real truth exists in Madden 07’s prediction or in the prediction of anyone. Sure some people will pick right and others wrong but as always it will come down to what happens on the field on Sunday.

As tired as I am of hearing that the Colts will win because it’s their time, I have to admit it almost makes sense until you think about two things. One, why wasn’t it their time last year?

The Bettis fumble…if Nick Harper had stayed outside he would have run it back and Vanderjerk never would have had to attempt a field goal…what an idiot, seriously you have the whole field everyone is behind you and you run right back at the quarterback, bad form dude, bad form.

The other thing is that the Patriots have no business being in the AFC Championship game. Think about it, they have been counted out all year long. They let too many guys go, they don’t have the weapons, so on and so on. What happened? They are getting ready for a 6:30 kick off at the RCA dome for a chance to go to their fourth Super Bowl in the last 6 years.

The Colts are a very, very good football team and regardless of what idiot Patriot fans might say Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s the best statistical quarterback in the last decade. He just hasn’t been able to get over the hump, for whatever reason he just can’t get there. A lot of that has been because of the Patriots and you can bet he wants this game more than any other game he has ever played in.

Unfortunately for Peyton the Patriots are once again standing in his way. They will certainly have their work cut out for them but I think it will be the Patriots that are playing in two weeks in Miami.

The Patriots just get it done. They seem to always rise to the occasion and make the plays that need to be made to win games like this. A ton of people have been saying how lucky the Patriots are to have beat the Chargers. For all their wamping about the Patriots the Chargers didn’t make plays when they needed to.

Troy Brown’s strip of Marlon McCree’s interception was luck to some and a great play to others but what is being overlooked is that the Pats got a second chance and took advantage of it. The Chargers couldn’t take advantage of the Pats mistakes.

What does that mean for this week? The Patriots can’t make mistakes and can’t assume that Peyton will make mistakes. The team that plays mistake free football and doesn’t turn the ball over will win the game and I think that team will be the Patriots.

I think they will force Manning to make a mistake or two and Brady will take advantage of it. In order to do that the Patriots will need to get another great game from their defense. Particularly James Sanders and Artrel Hawkins, those two will have to be there not only to help stop the run but this week they have to cover the pass very well.

If Sanders and Hawkins along with Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel can contain Manning and his receivers then the Patriots will be in great shape because they will be able to score on the Colts.

Everyone is making this argument that the Colts can all of a sudden stop the run. How do you all of a sudden stop the run? Brought nine guys to counter the run against Kansas City, who everyone said would run all over them, and they were able to stop Larry Johnson. Wait a second, ok they put nine guys in the box so why did KC keep running right at them?

Not only did Trent Green play bad but KC never adjusted to the fact that the Colts were stacking the line. Steve McNair also played awful and Jamal Lewis is not Larry Johnson. Seriously if the Ravens offense wasn’t inept Baltimore would have won that game, no doubt in my mind.

The Patriots will be able to run the ball between Corey Dillon, Lawrence Maroney and Kevin Faulk (yep Kevin Faulk). Brady will move the ball through the air and he will connect with a bunch of receivers. Gaffney and Caldwell will have solid games (Caldwell only had one catch in the previous game) so will Graham, Troy Brown will make a big play or two and Kevin Faulk will have a large role in one of the games biggest drives.

Manning will play well he’ll throw for a lot of yards but once again the Patriots are very good at giving up yards but not points. Samuel and Hobbs will have to play tough and I think Hobbs will make a very big play because the Colts will go after him.

In the end it will once again be the Patriots that bring out the Peyton Manning Face. I just really hope it doesn’t come down to an Adam Vinatieri last second field goal.

The Pick: Patriots 24 Colts 17
For the hell of it:
NFC Championship Pick: Saints 17 Bears 13
Come on, if you're not rooting for the Saints you don't have a pluse (unless you are from Chicago of course)

(Dirt) Dog Gone

Trot Nixon, the original dirt dog, is now a Cleveland Indian. Trot signed a one year 3 million dollar deal with the Indians after the Red Sox decided not to offer him salary arbitration.

After playing the last 10 seasons with the Sox Nixon remains one of the defining players of my time as a fan.

The Red Sox teams that I really remember following from grade school to now consisted of a lot of different players (at one time Tom Brunansky was my favorite Sox 1) but the core was Pedro, Nomar, Varitek and Nixon. Obviously now it’s Manny, Ortiz, and Tek (to a lesser extent Youk).

Most of the games I can remember watching had that core. 2004 saw Nomar leave, which hurt but Orlando Cabrera really fit into the 2004 team better than Nomar did and they won. After the World Series Pedro left and Manny and Ortiz along with Damon (grrr) and Millar had come in and taken over the clubhouse making the transition smooth. Through it all Tek and Nixon have remained.

Maybe it’s because Trot was home grown. Maybe it was the fact that his dirt dog mentality caught on with the 2003 and 2004 teams and they really rode it to a World Series. Something about Trot Nixon just resonated with the fans. He is a blue collar guy, always worked hard, he had some solid years and he had some down years with injuries but he was always adored by the fans.

I was fortunate to be at his last game as a Red Sox which was pretty cool. Terry Franconia had him bat lead off so he would get his curtain call since it was pouring out. Franconia also took him out so that he would get another standing ovation. I know Nixon’s not hall of famer, he’s not one of the best players I’ve ever seen.

Trot Nixon will however remain one of my all time favorite players. I’ll miss his varying facial hair (honestly when is the last time you saw a Fu Manchu) and the way his helmet and hat are some how always dirty, seriously always. Top of the first, first game of the year his hat was covered in chalk, dirt, dust, pine tar and God knows what else 2.

There have been a number of sox players that I was sad to see go. Nomar, Pedro, Damon, Bill Mueller and Todd Walker just to name a few but Nixon will be a tough loss. Even though JD Drew (who I don’t like) will put up better numbers than Trot would have it will still be odd not seeing him patrolling right field all summer.

As the Nixon number 7 t-shirt jerseys begin to fade away and Trot finishes his career in a foreign uniform and a foreign town. He’ll always be remembered as the Dirt Dog, one of the guys that defined a team and anytime he steps to the plate or sprints out to right field at Fenway it will bring me back to some of my best memories as a Sox fan.

All the best Trot, all the best.

1 – What is the singular form of Red Sox/Sox? I know that the spelling comes from phonetics, sort of, cities like Boston and Chicago’s papers used to use phonetic spellings to help immigrants read, like using thru instead of through. If it’s said Red Socks then the singular would be Red Sock. In my personal opinion I think Sox is both. A little bit squirrelly I know but how else would you do it?

Trot Nixon played for the Red Sox. Trot Nixon was a Red Sox…we need an official ruling on this?
2 – Isn’t it interesting how the condition of some ones hat can give you an insight into how big of a fan they are. For example if you have a brand new sox hat there are a couple things that says.

a - New season you follow the team you felt like getting a hat, nothing wrong with that.

b - You just jumped on the band wagon and having a red sox hat is the cool thing to do in the summer in New England.

c - They came out with a new style of hat that you like so you bought it.

Now if you have a Nixon hat then everyone knows you mean business when it comes to being a Sox fan. Since he has now departed ‘Nixon hat’ or simply a Nixon will now be my official term for any hat that is worn out, faded or in general disarray from extended use and age.

To qualify as a Nixon said hat must be discolored (most likely by way of sun fading), must be navy blue or red with just the B on the front (no non team color hats qualify). Bonus points for any tears or ripping on the hat.

Bill Simmons on the Everything Sucks Era

Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy and my favorite writer just wrote a good version of the why does everyone hate the Patriots. I tried and clearly failed miserablily but in my defense thats why I started this so I could practice...not that anyone reads it but I'm working on it.

Here's an excerpt

"We embrace something new, digest it, beat it into the ground and move on to something else. One minute, "Borat" is the greatest comedy of all-time; the next minute, it's overrated. One minute, everyone loves "Lost"; the next minute, we're wondering if it jumped the shark. One minute, everyone loves The Killers; the next minute, they're self-important sellouts. It's the Everything Sucks Era. We spend an inordinate amount of time bitching about everyone else. Nobody's good, nobody's worthwhile and everybody needs to go away. That's the prevailing theme. And after their third Super Bowl victory, the Patriots entered the "all right, you guys can go away now, you've ceased to be interesting" stage of their run, where we've been stuck for the past two seasons."

How do you spell dead on...I don't think things could be summed up much better than that.

Here's the whole article - When did hate take over sports?

personally I would have gone with 'if you have it your heart let it out'

Thursday, January 18, 2007

When I say Patriots...

If you are at all a Patriots fan you should probably check out this song. It's not exactly a musical master piece but it's good for a laugh if you listen to the lyrics and can get by the fact that it's totally ridiculous.

Wackass Egyptians – When I Say Patriots

Thanks to Hardy at WBCN for playing this song…there’s another Patriots song I will look for a link to it and I’ll try and find some lyrics for the Wackass Egyptians song. All I know is this song is better than the lame ass “San Diego Super Chargers” or the stupid POD Chargers song.

Ok so it’s pretty similar to the POD song, so be it, enjoy.

Ryan Hall wants to go fast

Being that I ran in college and continue to run I feel like I should weigh in on Ryan Hall’s record performance at the Houston Half Marathon. That’s why Al Gore invented the internet right? So I could download copy written music, watch people do stupid stuff on youtube and write about whatever I feel like.

No, oh he didn’t really invent it…well he said he was super cereal.

Ryan Hall, former Stanford standout, ran 59:43 to win the US Half Marathon title in Houston. Hall set an American and North American record for the distance (pervious record was 1:00:55 from 1985) and it’s being regarded as one of the best performances by an American ever at any distance.

It was a great performance for Hall and American distance running but even though he was a star at Stanford it’s still a surprise. Hall ran 4:00:52 for the mile in high school but he graduated high school the same year as Dathan Ritzenhein and Alan Webb, two of the most highly touted prep runners in history. Webb went sub four in the mile and Ritz went sub 14 in the 5k and won back to back high school cross country titles.
Hall was kind of like the Ben Roethlisberger (I hate comparing some one to him because I hate him but bare with me) to Ritz and Webb’s Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. He flew under the radar a little bit more. Granted he was runner up to Ritz in NCAA XC Nationals, won the NCAA title in the 5000 (13:22.32 for a school record) and was third at the US Outdoor Championships in 13:16.03 (which is five seconds under the Olympic ‘A’ standard from 2004 that was 13:21.5).

Note: Both Ritz and Webb went pro before finishing college while Hall finished up at Stanford and went pro after graduating.

I’m not questioning his plans or anything by all means if you can get to the Olympics in something then go, but he’s planning on running a spring marathon and then running in the trials. More power to the guy and I’d love to see another American take home a medal in a distance race but he does seem a little young to be devoting himself to the marathon.
You usually don't see top tier guys switching gears and focusing on the marathon at such a young age. Geb has just turned to the 26.2 after years of dominating on the track and it's likely Bekele won't turn to the marathon for a while as he is the most dominate distance runner in the world on the track. Running a marathon and running it in the trials marathon certainly doesn't mean that he's only going to run marathons in the future.

Ritz ran his debut marathon in NY and I’m willing to bet Hall rolls the dice and debuts at Boston because the potential of an American running well at Boston would make a bigger splash than say London but London is a faster course and will most likely be a tougher field.

I would also wager that he will take his shots in the marathon, get a trails time, run the trails to see if he can make the team. I think he’s also run either 5k or 10k at the Olympic Trails where he would definitely have a shot at making the team. Regardless of what he does he has definitely shown that he’s one of the top runners in the US. It will be really interesting to see how the US XC Championships go in February. One race with just about ever top American runner toeing the line, should be one of the best races in recent memory. Check out more about Hall and the US XC Champs at

oosh a video game story and a running story in two days…guess I’ve covered my dorky topics quota.

The College Sports Conundrum

I live in a great place to be a fan. Boston is pretty much as good as it gets for sports, granted the teams aren't always the best (bruins and celtics) but it's generally always exciting and there is a ton of history. Heck even the uniforms are nice to look at if you ask UNI-Watch's Paul Lukas, he just named Boston the number one most livable uni city here.

If you ask most people in and around Boston they will tell you it's a professional town. Meaning that no one really cares about college sports in Boston, it's all about the pro teams. A statement I would generally agree with, however that doesn't mean people don't enjoy college sports. I personally love watching college hoops, college football and I love getting wrapped up in the College World Series (as evident by the video game story). But being from a professional town, or growing up in the vicinity of a professional town I should say, I find myself lacking a college team that I can latch on to and really root for. I was thinking about this while running and what I used to think was a bad thing is actually a great situation to be in.

Now sure there is Boston College but BC doesn't really count they have some top tier teams and some people do go wild for BC football but I hate BC. I grew up hating BC, there is one kid that makes up the student body at BC just one. In all seriousness 90% of the kids are the same and they are bags of douche and I will never root for BC because of this. My College Sports Conundrum was quelled for a while by video games. Thanks to NCAA Football on play station 2 and xbox I was able to take my D-III college and turn them into a Division 1-A power house but with the release of NCAA Football 2007 on XBOX 360 I ran into some problems, namely no create a team feature.

During the college football season my CSC was at a high all my buddies had either a team they grew up rooting for like Florida or a team with a stud player that they latched on to like Calvin Johnson and Georgia Tech. I had nothing and since I’m used to having a team to root for and follow with the Sox, Pats, Bruins and Celtics but college football I just watched with no real vested interest.

Watching the BCS Championship game (that I had originally thought OSU would run away with) I found myself rooting for Florida just because everyone was so sure OSU was going to win. That’s when I realized that it was fun and now with college hoops I’ve been following Texas because I really like Kevin Durant (I think I’m on the root against the Celtics so they can get Durant bus).

Mary Buckheit really opened my eyes to this the other day with here Out of Sight, Out of Mind story. Now I don’t ever see myself not following the Red Sox, Pats, Celtics or Bruins no matter where I happen to live, those are my teams and that’s not going to change. However with no college to root for I can shop around and find one I like for any number of reason. In high school I was a huge Oregon fan thanks to the Luke’s of Hazard so this basketball season I will be rooting for Texas because of Durant and Oregon once again because of Aaron Brooks. I don’t agree with sports bigamy but the college teams I root for could easily change from season to season.

Call it what you want to call it but I’ve found a solution to my College Sports Conundrum. I might be a “bandwagon” fan when it comes to college but I’m alright with it since sports is all about entertainment. Unless we are talking professional sports then it’s a whole different ball game, hey I live in a professional city remember.

a couple quick thoughts on the week that was... one - LT please stop your wamping, because in reality that's all it is straight classless can it really be to imitate a celebration that is done by a guy who shaved lights out into his this 1995? The Patriot players were right LT you are better than that but oh well apparently teams aren't allowed to celebrate winning a game that no one thinks they should have won or really have even competed in since the Chargers were just so super.

two - what is the over/under on Peyton Manning commercials during the AFC Championship game? 10? 15? Can we please see the “cut that meat” commercial, I mean if were going to see 45 of them anyway lets roll out the greatest hits of Peyton Manning ads.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears

In the words of Peter Griffin...You know what really grinds my gears?

System Exclusive Sports Video Games

Making games exclusively for a system makes perfect sense for games like Halo, Gears of War, Zelda and so on, but some one please explain to me why you would make sports games exclusive to one system or another. I see the need to draw people to your system and it certainly makes sense to add different features for different systems but limiting a game to one system or a league signing a licensing agreement with a company (like the MLB signing a deal with 2ksports) real hurts not only the game market but also the gamers.

As if that wasn't the nerd-iest paragraph you've ever read. Exclusive sports games have come about in the last few years after 2ksports and ESPN dropped NFL 2k5 with a price tag of just 29 bucks to challenge Madden. Now doesn't that sound like the American way, two compaines put out a product and try to get people to buy it. What does that lead to? Competition which in turn leads to both companies, in this case EA Sports and 2kSports, trying to make the best game and that is great for consumers, plus it means the price tag might come down a little on games like NFL 2k5.

When the NFL signed with EA and MLB with 2ksports I was nervous that the newer games might suffer because they are the only game in town, so to speak. EA has done a good job with Madden so far, this years version for the 360 was great, and I've heard good things about 2kSports baseball games. I love their basketball games, especially NCAA, but I have a hard time buying a game with Jeter on it. I know a little extremist but it feels like cheating on the red sox if I were to pay 59 bucks for something Jeter is endorsing.

I got by pretty well last summer by downloading updated rosters for MVP 2005 for the xbox but more importantly the video game gods gave me a game that I have been hoping for, for years. MVP 06 NCAA, I am a huge college baseball fan. I love the college world series the double elimination format is great to watch if you get a chance to follow the tournament. Plus you got the 'ping' of an aluminum bat and the atmosphere of college sports that make playing NCAA football or basketball games so much fun. At first I was a little bit upset they didn't make it for 360 but i understood why EA made it a current gen game. You've got people loyal to the MVP franchise that are unhappy about not getting an EA baseball game due to licensing and most of those people have either a xbox, ps2 or gamecube.

EA essentially did the same thing with College Football, no next gen version in the first year but then since they made a next gen NCAA football this year I was pretty stoked about getting a NCAA Baseball game for my 360. I started searching around the web for info on the 2007 version MVP NCAA hoping to find a next gen version but figured at worst I'd be able to get a copy for the xbox and kick that around for another winter/spring (the game came out in february last year). In my googling I came across some unfortunate news, EA is making MVP 07 NCAA, again responding to the 2kSports owning the MLB rights with an infinitely cool idea, BUT and it's a big f'n but the game will only be released on ps2.

WTF! Why would EA Sports take what I consider to be a step backwards and limit the game to one system? Especially when Sony and Nintendo just released next gen systems and the xbox 360 already has a year and several EA games under it's belt or microprocessor or whatever.

EA has come out with some great games and they've done an awesome job with sports games, other than hoops, but they've really been the class of sports video games since NHL 94 and when they came out with MVP NCAA it was an awesome response to 2kSports getting the MLB license. Maybe more so for me since I've been saying they need to make a college baseball game for years but now it's only coming out for ps2...why? I will let EA producer Trey Smith (assbag) tell you courtesy of Game Daily tell you

"MVP has had a loyal audience on the PS2 for years now and we took MVP 07 as an opportunity to really blow it out. Focusing on just the PS2 has allowed us to really push the hardware into making what we feel is the most innovative and most satisfying baseball experience out there. If you compare last year's version of MVP on the PS2 to this year's version, you'll see what a huge difference focusing on just one platform has allowed us." (check out the whole story here)

Ok, fair enough you really blew out the game and really pushed the hardware that's good. Care to elaborate on why you wouldn't want to take advantage of the next gen hardware that is faster, smoother and not a step backwards. Now I'm a big fan of the game, such a big fan that I'm probably going to dust off my first generation ps2 from my freshmen year of college and buy this game but that's only because I'm such a big fan.

In other words I hope EA had a mass following on ps2 or they are going to lose out on a lot of gamers that will either stick with their MVP 06 or simply abandon the college game and move over to 2ksports by picking up the Jeter game. This is why it seems like a step backwards, EA loses out on the MLB license so instead of just giving up on baseball games, which they really turned around with recent MVP's, the company said to hell with 2ksports we'll be innovative and they came up with a great concept in the NCAA game but also with the load and fire batting system (which was wicked hard) and the analog stick throwing system (which was awesome and made the game a lot more fun).

Limiting the game to just one system is following right in line with companies getting exclusive licenses while it can in some cases make for great games like Madden and NCAA football. It also creates the risk of game developers getting lazy because there is no competition from other game makers. I suppose it is just natural progression and it is certainly a great business decision for the game developers.

While it might take the controller out of some peoples hands you'd have to image people will still buy the game even if it is only for ps2 much like if you are a fan of baseball and baseball games you will probably pick up MLB 2k6...yeah the Jeter even though it totally grinds my gears that i won't have college baseball on my 360 and I'll have to dust off my ancient ps2 I will most likely be buying MVP 07 NCAA...hey at least it won't be 59 bucks

Other stuff grinding my gears this week...
- LT crying like a little girl with a skinned knee
- Mother Nature
- 24 for continuing to kill off my favorite characters (yet it remains the best show on tv)