Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween, everybody!

We had a great night, and perfect weather for trick-or-treating. J. went as a dementor from Harry Potter and R. dressed as a witch (with no Potter affiliation). They collected tons of candy and, as it does every year, our street was hopping with kids and families. Fun stuff!

A quick comment on last night's Patriots win over Minnesota. The Pats won 31-7 and pretty much dominated the Vikings in every facet of the game. It really sets up the Patriots showdown with undefeated Indianapolis on Sunday night in Foxborough. If all goes according to form, this could be one of the most exciting games of the year.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Celtics legend Red Auerbach passed away last night of a heart attack at the age of 89. It was an odd coincidence that last night I had just finished Red's latest book, Let Me Tell You a Story, written with author John Feinstein.

I'm not going to write about Red's enormous legacy within basketball and with the Celtics. There are plenty of people more knowledgeable about basketball than me that are writing about that. What I would like to write about are my two close encounters with the great man.

The first time was sometime in the early '80s, at the beginning of the Bird era. I was at a Celtics game with some friends at the Old Garden. I have no memory of who they played or whether they won or lost. What I do remember is that as we were leaving the Gahden, Red Auerbach walked right past us. My friends and I just froze and our jaws dropped. We started babbling stuff like, "Oh my God, that's HIM!" Red had stopped briefly to talk to someone, so I'm sure he heard us going on like idiots and he soon went on his way, leaving us with nothing but a good story.

The second time I met Red was in a bit more formal setting. Red had come out with a business book called MBA: Management by Auerbach back in the mid-90's. He was doing a book signing at the old Lauriats bookstore in Downtown Crossing in Boston. I took a long lunch and rode the T to the bookstore to get an autographed copy of the book. I got to say hello to him and he shook my hand.

Red, we can never thank you enough for what you have done for the sports fans of Boston. I really started following sports in 1974, the year the Celtics won championship #12. Until the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001, Celtics championships were the only ones I had any first hand memories of. As long as ten people line up to throw a ball through a hoop, the legacy of Red Auerbach will never be forgotten.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Congratulations to the Cardinals for winning the World Series last night, beating the Tigers in 4 games. It wasn't exactly the most exciting series. The Cardinals played much better than the Tigers, who stopped hitting and stopped playing defense. Justin Verlander made an error last night, giving the Tigers pitchers five for the series. The old World Series record was 3 errors by a pitching staff.

I'm always a little sad at the end of the baseball season (2004 being an exception). It means more than five months until the next game that means something with a long cold winter in between.

I'm sure there will be plenty of hot stove talk to keep us warm between now and then, though!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Whatever the Tigers were doing right against the Yankees and A's now seems a distant memory against the Cardinals. The defense, especially from the pitchers mound, has really let them down. The Tigers pitchers have made four errors, including a key one last night by Fernando Rodney. This, along with Curtis Granderson's pratfall in center field on an David Eckstein fly ball and multiple Gold Glove winner Pudge Rodriguez's inability to block a Joel Zumaya wild pitch really hurt the Tiger's chances. Pitching and defense wins championships, and the Tigers defense isn't getting it done.

The Cardinals are on the verge of becoming the worst regular season team to win a World Series. They only won 83 games in the regular season, one game more than the '73 Mets, who lost the Series to the A's. They have been helped by Scott Rolen's comeback (he's batting .438 in the Series thus far) and some good pitching, as the Tigers have only scored 7 runs in the first 4 games.

A 3-1 deficit isn't insurmountable, but unless the Tigers start playing better this could be over quickly. If I were the Cardinals, I would want to end this at home. If the Tigers should manage to win tonight (or whenever game 5 is played - the weather forecast for St. Louis isn't great), the Cards have to face the white hot Kenny Rogers and his dirty hands in game 6 and then anything can happen in game 7.

On a different topic, can things get much worse for the Bruins? I have stated here before that I'm not much of a hockey fan, but the B's lost to Montreal last night on a goal with 1.2 seconds left. They have only won 2 of their first 8 games as they continue to battle with the Revolution for the title of Most Irrelevant team in New England.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

- I have seen Drew Bledsoe throw a lot of bad passes over the years. Even when he was at the top of his game with the Patriots, he would throw a pass into traffic or just make an ill advised throw. If he was lucky, it would fall incomplete. If he wasn't, it would be intercepted.

At the end of the first half in last night's Cowboys-Giants matchup, however, Bledsoe probably threw the worst pass I had ever seen him throw. It was aimed at another ex-Pat, Terry Glenn. It was, of course, intercepted by the Giants Sam Madison. It was so bad, Bill Parcells removed Bledsoe from the game in the second half, replacing him with backup Tony Romo, who went on to throw three more picks.

I heard a bit of the Tuna's post-game press conference on the radio this morning and let's just say he didn't sound too happy with his team's performance in the 36-22 loss. Will Bledsoe hang around to be a backup, or will he go off to his ranch in Montana? Who knows?

- I'm finding I am watching more regular, prime-time TV than I have in years. I currently have five shows, Heroes, Boston Legal, Smallville, The Office and Battlestar Galactica in my regular rotation. Of course, my favorite guilty pleasure, American Idol will be added in January. I'm not sure if it's the quality of the shows or the fact that we have a DVR that lets me time shift to watch at my convenience, but it's been a while since I kept up with this many shows.

- The DVR hasn't helped me keep up to date. I'm exactly a week behind; I watched last week's episode of Heroes last night. I'm mostly blaming it on the baseball playoffs, since I'm watching the games most nights instead of whatever I have recorded. We'll see if I can stay caught up after the World Series.

- Got a good deal on some Celtics tickets. They are selling "Family Packs", which include 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas, starting at $99 and ramping up from there based on seat location and opponent. I splurged for the Loge seats the day after Thanksgiving against the Knicks for $179, which I still think is a pretty good deal. It's very reminiscent to me of the deals I saw many baseball teams offering this summer as I watched the local feeds on the Extra Innings package. Since the Celtics can't put fannies in the seats the way the Red Sox and Patriots can, they're going to have to offer some incentives.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interesting start to the World Series. The supposedly tired Cardinals kicked the well rested Tigers butts, 7-2 in game 1. Then the Tigers came back behind Kenny Rogers 8 shutout innings and won 3-1 last night.

The Tigers Todd Jones was the very definition of a "heart attack closer" in the 9th, as he gave up a run and loaded the bases before getting Yadier Molina to ground into a force out at 2nd.

Series goes back to St. Louis tomorrow night, with Nate Robertson going up against Chris Carpenter. Should be a good one.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Game 7 between the Mets and Cardinals did end up being a classic, won by the Cardinals 3-1. The game featured great starting pitching performances by NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan and (amazingly) Oliver Perez; a catch for the ages by Endy Chavez robbing Scott Rolen of a 2 run homer; a Yadier Molina homer in the 9th to give the Cardinals the lead; and the game ending strikeout of Carlos Beltran by rookie closer Adam Wainwright, who loaded the bases in the 9th before ending the Mets season. Wainwright had a grand total of 3 career saves at the end of the regular season.

You just can't make this stuff up. That's why I love this game.

World Series starts tomorrow night. Tigers in 5.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Check out this article at ESPN.com. You can read more detail there, but apparently Bill Buckner was wearing a Cubs batting glove under his first basemans's mitt when he missed Mookie Wilson's grounder in game 6 in 1986. Thanks to Surviving Grady for the tip.

The whole thing makes a lot more sense now.


This is why I don't bet on sports.

If you remember yesterday's entry, I was heavily leaning toward a Cardinals win, based on the matchup of defending Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter against unheralded rookie John Maine, who was essentially a throw-in in the deal that sent Anna..., er, Kris Benson to the Orioles.

Of course, it was Maine who came out on top, winning the game 4-2. That's why they play the games, right?

Tonight's matchup seems just as lopsided. The Cardinals are pitching Jeff Suppan, a respectable if not outstanding pitcher who dominated the Mets in game 3, pitching 8 shutout innings. The Mets are sending out Oliver Perez, who is very likely the worst pitcher ever to start a deciding game in a playoff series. He compiled a 3-13 record and a 6+ ERA pitching for the Pirates and Mets this year.

Stranger things have happened in game 7's however (see Grady Little's handling of the Red Sox pitching staff two years ago). It should be exciting, in any event, as this is the game that decides who gets the right to lose to the Tigers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

- It looks like the Cardinals have the Mets right where they want them. They are up 3-2 in the series and have their best pitcher, Chris Carpenter, going tonight against New York's rookie John Maine. If Carpenter can't win, Jeff Suppan, who dominated the Mets in his last start goes against the immortal Darren Oliver, who didn't start a game in the regular season. The only things going for the Mets is that they are at home, and of course the Dos Carlos still play for the team, but based on the pitching matchups it's an uphill climb.

- What the heck are the Tigers doing? They clinched the AL pennant on Saturday against the A's, and the World Series doesn't start until this Saturday night. The good news for the Tigers is that, according to today's Boston Globe, all five teams that opened the World Series with a break of five days or more ended up winning. Those teams include the '95 Braves, the '96 Yankees, the '01 Diamondbacks, the '02 Angels and the '05 White Sox.

- Disney announced the other day that they were going to offer healthier meals at the theme parks and not sign licensing and marketing agreements with companies that didn't offer healthy food items. It'll be interesting to see how this goes. We'll be spending some time at Disney World in December, so we'll be able to see if there are any differences in the meal offerings.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Well, that was quite an ending.

Of course, I'm talking about the Tigers sweep of the A's in the ALCS. Magglio Ordonez hit a three-run, walkoff homer to win the pennant for Detroit.

I'm really happy for a couple of reasons. First, any team that beats the Yankees has my support. Second, it has been a long time between winners for Detroit fans; their last trip to the playoffs was in 1987 and, of course, the Tigers lost 119 games just three years ago.

So I'm rooting for Detroit to take the whole thing. I really can't see either of the National League teams beating the Tigers. The Mets might have had a chance if Pedro and Hernandez were healthy. I just don't think the Cardinals are good enough in any case.

However, I could be wrong. I missed on three out of four of my Division Series picks and had the Twins facing the Mets in the World Series. The Mets could still make it, but the Twins have been home for quite a while now.

We had a very cool experience today. The kids started taking Korean drum lessons, using traditional instruments like the one pictured above. They were part of a class of around a dozen kids, all but one of whom was adopted. The kids did a great job and really sounded like they had been working on this for longer than an hour. They have four more lessons scheduled. It's a great experience for them and I'm proud to see how well they're taking to it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hooray for the old guys.

Last night, 40-year-old future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine shut down Albert Pujols and the Cardinals. He went 7 shutout innings, giving up only 4 hits. Not to be outdone, the Tigers 41-year-old Kenny Rogers shut out the A's for 7 and 1/3 innings as Detroit took a 3-0 lead in the ALCS.

It's always nice to see guys who were born in the same decade I was do well. There aren't many players left who are older than I am, although as long as Julio Franco is around, I'm still allowed to feel like a kid. I was a senior in high school when Franco made his major league debut.

Here's a semi-interesting fact: assuming the Tigers don't pull an '04 Yankees, this will be the 5th consecutive year that a wild card team has made it to the World Series. You had the Astros last year, the Red Sox in 2004, the Marlins in 2003 and the Angels in 2002. The last Series featuring only division winners was in 2001, between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks.


Monday, October 09, 2006

In my excitement over the Tigers win, I didn't mention the trip the kids and I took to the Parsons Field in Brookline on Saturday to see the University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens take on my alma mater, the Northeastern University Huskies. It was the kids first college football game.

The game itself was very exciting, as Northeastern hit a field goal with time running out to beat Delaware 27-24. Parsons Field is a little stadium (around 7,000 seats) tucked into a Brookline neighborhood. It's basically a glorified high school stadium, with aluminum bleachers and a small press box. Concessions are sold from a tent in one of the end zones. There are a couple of kids games behind the home side of the field, which we took advantage of at halftime. It certainly has a very homey, intimate feel to watching the game and the three of us had a really good time.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If the Red Sox couldn't be in the post-season, this is the next best thing.

I'm watching the Detroit Tigers celebrate their defeat of the Yankees in the ALDS, 3 games to 1. After Kenny Rogers pitched the game of his life last night, Jeremy Bonderman shut down the Evil Empire's high priced lineup as the Tigers won 8-3. Keep in mind that this is a team that lost 119 games in 2003.

The Tigers players had a fun, exuberant celebration on the Comerica Park field, spraying the fans with champagne. Kenny Rogers had the best moment, as he climbed up on the dugout, sprayed the fans sitting back there with bubbly and then gave a nearby Detroit cop a champagne shower and a hug. Priceless.

The Yankees collapse was reminiscent of what happened against the Sox in the 2004 ALCS. All the big guys stopped hitting. Jeter only had three more hits after his 5-for-5 performance in the first game. Johnny Damon had a three-run homer in game 2, but only batted .235 for the series. Sheffield hit .083, Matsui .250, Cano .133 and A-Rod .071.

Ah yes, A-Rod. He is going to continue to get killed by the New York press and fans. He did nothing offensively in this series and even committed an error today. The Curse of A-Rod contines. Here's the evidence:

2003: No A-Rod: Lose in World Series to Marlins
2004: A-Rod slaps Bronson Arroyo with his purse and the Sox beat the Yankees in the ALCS
2005: A-Rod and the Yankees lose to the Angels in the ALDS in 5 games
2006: Yankees lose to the underdog Tigers in the ALDS in 4 games

The results have been worse every year since A-Rod joined the team. Teams he has left have gotten better. Not exactly what they are paying $252 million for, is it?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A few thoughts as we hang on the sidelines watching the playoffs...

- One thing that sucks about having to work for a living is that you can't watch these all-day tripleheaders during the first round, with games at 1, 4 and 8.

- What do A's fans think about having the first two games of the series start at 10AM, Oakland time?

- The bizzaro play of the year (and maybe the decade) happened in game 1 of the Mets-Dodgers series, as both Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew got tagged out at home plate on the same play by Mets catcher Paul LoDuca. This is a throwback to the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who at one time had three men on third base at the same time. The poor baserunning cost the Dodgers a potential big inning and maybe the game, which the Mets won 6-5.

- It will be interesting to see if the A's can break their 9 game losing streak in series clinchers, having taken a surprising 2-0 lead over the Twins at the Metrodome. During the rain delay for the Yankees-Tigers game last night, one of the ESPN commentators mentioned that out of the 20 teams that had taken a 2-0 lead on the road, 19 had gone on to win the series. The one exception? The 2001 Oakland A's, who lost to the Yankees after taking the first two in the Bronx. That series was most notable for Jeter's amazing play to get Jeremy Giambi at home plate.

- A good transition into the topic of Derek Jeter, who was 5-for-5 last night. As much as I hate the Yanks, Jeter is a great leader and clutch player and I have a lot of respect for him.

- The king of not-clutch, A-Rod, struck out in the first inning of game 2 this afternoon with the bases loaded. A-Fraud was 0-for-4 with three K's in the Tigers 4-3 win. Gotta love that. If the Yankees win this year, it might be in spite of Rodriguez, not because of him.

- If you aren't watching Heroes yet, start. The first two episodes have really hooked me, introducing us to some regular folks who suddenly discover they have super powers like flight, teleportation, invulnerability and the ability to read minds. I haven't quite figured out exactly what the stripper's super power is, but it has me really curious.

- And get your mind out of the gutter on that last one.

- Speaking of must-see TV, season 3 of Battlestar Galactica starts on Friday. I can't wait.

- Farewell, Dave Wallace and Papa Jack. Whatever else happened, you will have our eternal gratitude for being part of the 2004 Sox.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The regular season ends. For the first time in four years, the Red Sox are not involved in the post-season, which will make things a little odd around here. However, there are eight teams involved and here are my picks:

Division Series:
Mets defeat Dodgers in 4 games
Padres defeat Cardinals in 5 games
Yankees defeat Tigers in 4 games
Twins defeat A's in 4 games

League Championship Series:
Mets defeat Padres in 5
Twins defeat Yankees in 6

World Series:
Twins defeat Mets in 5

Check back in a few weeks and see how I did.

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