KG and the Celtics Tap Out

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Basketball, The Captain
 

Celtics Fall Apart In Phoenix

A night after winning sloppily against the Trail Blazers, the Celtics play finally caught up to them. The game got out of hand early, and once it came to this point the Celtics became, well, ballsy. Due to their frustration, Rivers and Garnett were both ejected (2nd and 4th quarter respectively), and to make matters worse, Glen Davis left early with a right hamstring strain. The extent of Davis’s injury is not known, but hamstring strains tend to linger (see, Rajon Rondo) and the C’s could be losing a very valuable piece off the bench.

When asked about why referee, Steve Javie, ejected him Rivers said, “[Javie] actually came into our huddle. We were standing there, he came up to us. I’ll tell you exactly what was said. He said, ‘You guys are complaining way too much.’ And I said, ‘Well, let’s make the right calls.’ And his answer back was, ‘I’ll make a call for you.’ And that’s how I got the tech.” Moments later, with 4:33 to play in the 2nd quarter, Rivers was given his second technical and was ejected for clapping and yelling what seemed to be “It’s all about you” towards the referee.

In the 4th quarter, down by as much as 18 as one point, the Celtics had their backs up against the wall and it resulted in sloppy play and even sloppier decisions. Attempting to shoot a three, Suns Center Channing Frye was “sack-tapped” by Garnett on his way down. As a result Frye landed on Garnett’s foot which led to tempers flaring between both teams and eventually four technical fouls against the Celtics (2 for Garnett, 1 for Nate Robinson, and 1 for Kendrick Perkins).

It was an all around bad day in Phoenix as the Celtics were held to a season low 71 points against one of the NBA’s worst defenses. Not to mention the fact that the Celtics shot an atrocious 34.2 % as a team. The Celtics now have a much needed day off before they head to LA and face everyone’s favorite villain, the Los Angeles Lakers. Hopefully facing the Lakers will put a little fire into the C’s who have been very lackluster of late.

A Little too Cocky for Hockey

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Hockey, The Dingo

The Bruins should be proud of themselves. After last week’s spectacular 4-2 comeback victory,against Pittsburgh, a shutout against Ottawa, a win over rival Philadelphia and a brutal 7 point shutout against Atlanta they deserve to suffer the sin of pride. But they nonetheless need to remember that the season isn’t over and the Bruins are still far from taking first in the Eastern Conference. Tonight’s loss against Buffalo proved that very same point with multiple causes for the defeat.

 

Tuukka Rask: Rask was supposed to be the golden boy goalie who came in with high hopes, that is until Tim Thomas stepped up his game and became one of the top goalies of the season. Since then, Rask has failed to shine in his games with the Bruins and consistently lets the puck slip in on goals that could have easily been defended. While it is unfair to not let Rask see any playtime, it is evident that even when playing lesser opponents like the New York Islanders, Rask still allows shots to make it into the net. So, why then did Claude Julien play Rask against the Buffalo Sabres? Although ranked lowly in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres historically have been difficult for the Bruins this season. Losing their last game against the Sabres in an overtime defeat should have been a reminder that this is no team to send the rookie in against. Rask played well for the first part, but the third goal scored proved his ineffectiveness. When seeing the breakaway, rather than come into the net, Rask came so far out that it was easy to deke past him and fire a shot straight into the net.

 

Sloppy playing: The Bruins’ were solid during their first period of play, but after their second goal their defense began to dissolve and the offense did little to challenge Ryan Miller. For those who don’t know, Miller is the goalie for the US Olympic team and is not one to be easily fooled by straight slap shots to the chest. This is a goalie who needs to be tricked out of the net, someone who needs to be flurried by quick passing and an offensive rush. The entire game, it seemed the Bruins’ tactic was simply to group up and march with the puck forward. This also made them vulnerable to the poke check. As soon as a poke check worked, the puck slipped away and right into the hands of one of the Sabers’ defensemen. Boston needs to play tighter and with better on ice play making. It says something when they can’t even score a goal in a 6 on 4 situation.

 

Attitude: Boston’s a cocky team. That’s not to say that they don’t play well and play hard, but they have a tendency to let their leads get away from them. Always starting strong, the Bruins’ play strong and hard, but somewhere along the lines they stop playing as well and all of a sudden before we know it they’re down by two goals. The Bruins are one of the strongest teams in the NHL, but if they don’t learn to play each game as if they wanted to win then it will severely affect them in their road to the Stanley Cup.

The Geriatric Ward

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Basketball, The Moose

The Big Ticket and The Truth

The Celtics may be an old team, but they are not the oldest team. In fact they are barely in the top five. The Miami Heat are holding it down this year as the oldest team in the NBA. The Heat’s average age of 31.32 years has the Celtics (28.69 Y/O). In fact age seems to be the key to success this season in the NBA. Here are the rankings atop each conference and where the team ranks in terms of age.

East                                           West

Boston (5th)                          San Antonio (7th)

Miami (1st)                            L.A. (2nd)

Chicago (10th)                      Dallas (3rd)

Having 4 of the top 5 oldest teams in the league in the top three of each conference shows that in the NBA experience really does count. The only team that really seems to defy this concept so far this season is the Thunder with an average age of only 25 years old, third youngest in the NBA. That being said they are well above the league average in Kevin Durant’s per team at one.

Back to the Celtics though. One of the biggest differences between the Heat and the Celtics is the roll that older players play. On the Heat the team is really built around Lebron James (26), Dwayne Wade (29) and Chris Bosh (29). The Celtics on the other hand rely on players that are comparatively ancient.  With a starting lineup that features Paul Pierce (33), Ray Allen (35), Kevin Garnett (35) and the Geriatric Green Giant Shaquille O’Neal (38).

Managing the health of a team this old can be tough but at least we have a Doc at the helm. In the past this team has shown that if they can stay healthy they can play with anyone in the league. If they manage to pull it all together come play off time they have to be one of the teams to beat. After the Allstar break the Celts will be getting back Perkins (knee) and Delonte (wrist) and a team that ha s already beaten just about everyone in the East will only be getting stronger.

Pats Need Steelers Win

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Football, The Moose

I want the Steelers to win the superbowl. That was the hardest thing that I have ever said because there are at most two teams I hate more than Pittsburgh. They are dirty, obnoxious, and from Pittsburgh and that is three strikes in my book. Not only that but Ben “no means yes” Roethlisberger  will tie Brady with his third superbowl victory if the Steelers pull it out this year. As a Pats fan the knee jerk reaction here is to say that you hope the Steelers lose but there is more to the story.

The Patriots played so well 2000-2004 when they were always playing with a chip on their shoulder. Over the past few years they have done everything that they can to put a chip on their shoulder but there is only so upset you can get over the “disrespect” that they have gotten recently.

I can’t help but think that if Big Ben pulls through and wins this game it will light a fire under Brady’s ass that he has been missing recently. There is no question that the fire was not there in last weeks game and even throughout the season while he wasn’t throwing picks he still did not have the fire. The 45-3 drubbing of the Jets on December 6th was the only game that he really seemed to show the fire that he needed and you have to think that came out of the early season loss to NYJ.

So I tell you what Pittsburgh, go out there and beat up on the Jets this week. Put some serious hurt into them and put them into their place than we can talk about Revis taking a loss like a man. Whatever you do at least make it to the superbowl because at least then we get to see you relight the fire under Brady or get beat like a drum by Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.

Adrian Gonzalez Press Conference

With Spring Training right around the corner, it’s finally time to talk some baseball. With so many offseason moves it’s probably best to start with a Hot Stove Review starting with baseball’s toughest division: the AL East.

AL East:

  • Baltimore Orioles: Notable additions this year include Derrek Lee, Kevin Gregg, J.J. Hardy, and Mark Reynolds. The additions of Lee, Hardy, and Reynolds should help bolster a lineup that lacked a little punch last year (613 runs scored 13th in the AL). Kevin Gregg will fill a hole in the back-end of the bullpen, but they could still use a solid lefty (as could just about every team). Beyond Jeremy Guthrie (122 Career Games Started), the Orioles rotation is filled with many young pitchers without much game experience, in fact the pitcher with the second highest total of Games Started is Brian Matusz with 40. Due to this inexperience the starting rotation must be viewed as a weakness on the team, though many of the Orioles youngsters do have high ceilings and could turn this weakness into a potential strength. All in all the Orioles are still rebuilding, but they have finally found direction. The Orioles could be very similar to last years Padres, who won a surprising 90 games, but more likely they’ll be a small improvement over last years team and win around 69-73 games.
  • Boston Red Sox: Notable additions include Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Dan Wheeler, and Bobby Jenks. After a thoroughly disappointing season, Theo Epstein could not have (reasonably) orchestrated a better (or more expensive) offseason. First off, he put many Sox fans’ hearts at ease by re-signing Captain and fan favorite Jason Varitek. While the return of Varitek wasn’t huge news nationally, it is a big move because it is keeping a franchise player in the uniform he belongs in. The additions of Adrian Gonzalez (acquired by trade fro San Diego, expected to sign deal around 7 years 162 million) and Carl Crawford (7 years 142 million dollars), along with healthy years from Pedroia, Youkilis, and Ellsbury, replace the offensive losses of Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, and then some. But the offense wasn’t a problem last year; they scored 818 runs (2nd in the AL); it was last years supposed pitching strength that ended up betraying Boston’s hopes of reaching the postseason. After performing well below their career norms last season, Lackey and Beckett are expected to bounce back and at least give average to above-average seasons. Luckily, with the powerhouse duo of Lester and Buchholz, all the Sox need is for Lackey and Beckett to be league-average. As for what to expect from Dice-K, the jury is out. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Matsuzaka go 18-5, but neither would it be a surprise to see him go 5-8. One could see last year as an aberration for the Sox rotation and expect a stronger rotation this season. The biggest weakness last year was the bullpen which frequently gave up leads and ultimately cost a postseason berth. With the additions of Wheeler and Jenks the back-end of the bullpen gets considerably stronger and makes the Sox a much more well-rounded team. There are still some questions revolving around the team such as: Who is going to be the situationally lefty out of the pen? Will Lowrie bump Scutaro from the starting shortstop spot? Yet, in the grand scheme of things these questions are of little worry and the Sox look to have a very strong team. Expect the Sox to win between 95-100 games this year and win the AL East.
  • New York Yankees: Notable additions include Rafael Soriano, Russel Martin, and Pedro Feliciano (Andruw Jones is nearing a deal). The Yankees to-do list after the 2010 playoffs: 1. Cliff Lee 2. Cliff Lee 3. Cliff Lee 4. Re-sign Jeter and Rivera 5. In the incredible off chance Cliff Lee isn’t signed, re-sign Andy Pettitte. Much the Boston’s delight, the Yankees missed out on four out of five of the items on this list. Let’s start with what the Yankees were able to accomplish, and barely at that. The Yankees had no problem signing Rivera (though the Sox tried their hardest to pry him away), but re-signing Yankee stalwart Jeter was a different story. As many baseball veterans do, Jeter and his agent greatly overvalued what he was worth on the market and for once the Yankees didn’t feel like over paying. There were heated conversations between the two sides and the Yankees went as far to tell Jeter to go see what he could find on the open market. In the end Jeter is where he belongs, in New York, but the relationship is very strained. The Yankees were the favorites throughout the entire offseason to sign Lee. How could they not be? They have the most money in the league and they desperately needed a pitcher like Lee to fill out their rotation. In the end, the Phillies, who weren’t even mentioned in negotiations until the day before Lee signed a contract, signed Lee to a 5 year 120 million dollar deal (option for 2016). With Cliff Lee no longer an option, the need for Pettitte grew exponentially, and the most recent update has Pettitte returning at a “50/50” chance and that’s only for halfway through the season (Pettitte said he will absolutely not start the 2011 season). Now the Yankees rotation looks like this C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Sergio Mitre, after Hughes it’s… well that’s why they needed Cliff Lee and at the very least Andy Pettitte. In the end the Yankees biggest moves were in the bullpen, Pedro Feliciano should be a great arm out of the pen and help neutralize the strong lefty-hitters in the AL East. Rafael Soriano will be a great pickup, but his signing shows great unrest within the Yankees organization, as GM Brian Cashman was overruled and forced to give up a pick and sign Soriano to 3 year 35 million dollar deal. Overall expect the Yankees to be the Yankees and win their usual 92-95 and to pick up the AL Wild Card on the way.
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Notable additions or actually addition Kyle Farnsworth. This offseason has been far more about the subtractions (Crawford, Pena, Soriano, Garza and Balfour) than the additions, but Rays fans fret not, there will still be a competitive team on the field in 2011. While it will be hard to replace the offensive contributions from Crawford and Pena, the young pitching will still be a force in 2011 making the Rays still a team to deal with. Desmond Jennings should fill in well enough for Crawford, but it will take a while for this top prospect to make his mark in the Majors. The Rays aren’t done yet, and it is expected for them to pick up a veteran bat such as Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero to DH and play a couple games in the outfield. While the Rays lost a lot of players this year, they took over the 2011 draft and will have 11 of the first 90 picks, so look out for the Rays in the years to come. Expect the Rays to win 85-90 games and challenge the Yankees for the Wild Card.
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Notable additions are Rajai Davis and Jon Rauch. Toronto is still in rebuilding mode, but they have a very strong nucleus of young pitchers. The 85 wins last year were a surprise and it is unlikely that they can repeat that, but with a few more additions this could be a very strong team. There are still some holes in the lineup and the bullpen, but there are some very strong prospects within the system that could fill these holes in the years to come. Expect Toronto to win 78-83 games this year and continue their path towards rebuilding.

Patriots needs in 2011

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Football, The Moose

Superbowl XLVI here we come. The Pats may be down but they will get back up. There are very few owners in sports that I trust as much as I trust Bob Kraft. Bill Belichick has almost certainly broken down the game upwards of fifteen times and we can only hope that Giselle is holding out on Tom till he gets his head back in the game.

Now the real question is what is in store for 2011. One can only assume that the young defense that was beginning to gel late in the season will continue to step things up and come into next season hungry and ready to go. The offense is still fairly young as well and hopefully they will continue to grow, especially at the tight end possition.

What to they need to do to win next year?

The biggest thing they need for next year is a pass rusher. You cannot give any quarter back the kind of time that they have given this season. Hell even Sanchez looked poised with the kind of time they allowed last week.

They also are in desperate need of a deep threat though that does not mean they need to go out and trade/draft a deep threat. Brandon Tate or Taylor Price could both be interesting in this position though they would need to find a trust with Brady that neither player has really seemed to earn. In the end you cannot throw four receivers that are all pretty much slot guys and expect to have continued success. Hey you know Chad Ochocinco said he wants to come to New England…I think I’ll pass on that one.

Running back is another position that I would love to see them improve on in the offseason. While I loved seeing BJGE and Woodhead do their thing this season I think with better backs our running game could really excel and that would really help out a Brady that had a tough time with the pressure this postseason. The Pats could easily use one of their later first or second rounders this year.

The Pats really need to pick up a corner as well. McCourty had an incredible year and should continue to flourish but I have a hard time believing that Arrington and Butler can hold down the other side. They could either pick up a corner in the draft or sign/trade a vet. I think that bringing in a good veteran corner would be hugely helpful in McCourty’s development.

RIP Pats 2010

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Football, The Moose

Well, I think its about time I suck it up and write this one. Hopefully I can make it through without breaking down and crying. The Jets won just about every aspect of the gam and the Pats seemingly worked as hard as they could to let this one go.

The only chance that the Jets had to win this game was to play just about a flawless game and hope for mistakes on the Patriots end. To anyone that has watched this team all season the game was a forgone conclusion because Tom Terrific hadn’t thrown an interception since the last ice age and the young defense was finally starting to mature. This was not the team that we had been watching all season on the field. The Jets did exactly what they had to do to win this one.

The Jets played as close to a mistake free game as they could have. They won the turnover battle and the momentum shifted to the Jets early in the game. Even though the Jets didn’t score after the pick, it gave them hope that they could win and that, along with weak play from the Pats would be all it would take.

Quarterback Battle

As everyone expected one QB stayed fairly calm, cool, and collected and helped his team with the game, but who would have thought that QB would turn out to be Mark Sanchez. Sanchez did not go out and win the game for New York but he did exactly what a young quarterback on an otherwise solid team should do. He came out and played mistake free football that gave his team a chance to win.

Brady was far from the Brady we had seen all season. The pick on the first drive was unfortunate, but the biggest problem with Tom Terrific seemed to be in his own head. At points throughout the game he seemed distant, complacent and just all around dull. You cannot expect anyone to have a great game every game, but certainly it would have been nice to see some of the fire that Brady has displayed all season. He seemed to be disconnected and that lack of drive seemed to bring down the whole offense.

Coaching

Gotta hand it to the foot loving blowhard on this one. Ryan drew up an excellent game plan and managed to confuse Brady in every state of the game. He gave the Pats a lot of different looks and the Pats could not adjust quickly enough. Ryan seemed to realize that New England did not have a deep threat so he could clog up the lanes in the middle of the field and leave Revis and Cromartie to do their thing on the outside.

There were a couple questionable calls coming from under the hood this game as well. It is easy to look back at it and say that benching Welker on the first series may not have been the best idea but how much did it really effect the game? Without his safety blanket on the field Tom threw the interception that really changed the pace of the game just when the Pats were marching down the field to set the pace of the game. Vince Wilfork has even come out saying that if it had been him making the call he would not have benched Welker for putting his foot in his mouth. Would Tom have thrown the interception with Wes on the field? Who knows, but it couldn’t have hurt.

Patrick Chung came out taking full responsibility for the botched fake punt that let the Jets score before half but you have to think some of the blame should still fall on Belichick. Chung may have made the call on his own, but he is a second year player. Should he really be in the position to make that call in a game this important? There is only so much that Bill can control the players once they are out there, but from a coach as smart as he is wouldn’t he make sure the players are smarter situationally?

The biggest bright spot to come out of this game was the play of the young Patriots D. They played well and they held their own only to be let down by the offense. Usually I get pissed off when people say there is always next year but in this case the Pats could easily be better. The Jets will only continue to improve this year, but I would still be hesitant to bet against Bill and Brady.