Nov
14

Calling Scoreboard, In November

Back in the old days, I would often break out posts for BU hockey coverage, coming as close to writing professionally about the beloved Terriers as I really have much care to do. (I’d overcome my bias issues, but it’s much more fun not to.)

I was not at Sunday’s game*, which is a tragedy. So, you just get this.

Wade Megan, pretzel goalie. Pretzel goalie, Wade Megan. (Boston Herald photo)

That’s still pretty damn good though. The first time BU has shut out BC since March 1, 1983. (Or, more than six years before goaltender Kieran Millan was born. Christ, his parents might not even have met by then.) I went and dug up the game notes upon reading that because it seemed impossible, but sure enough.

* — By the time I got to work and had a chance to check on the score, it was 4-0 good guys. That was the same score it was in the only time I’ve ever actually seen a game at BC’s Conte Forum/Kelley Rink: Jan. 8, 2000. Yeah, it didn’t end 4-0 good guys.

Sadly, that game predates the blog**, so I didn’t accurately capture the old man BC fan who started screaming “YEEEEAAAHHHH! YEEEEEAAAAAHHHH! YEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” like an unhinged lunatic at the small group of us after the Eagles tied it with half a minute to go. My instincts were to hide. One of my pal’s instincts were to fight him. Neither happened, which seems the best possible outcome.

** – I did find a post from 2001 making reference to said game, but I threw around “we” several times in reference to the Terriers. I suppose it’s sort of OK given I was actually attending the school at the time, but best leave it buried given my strong feelings on the matter.

Nov
12

Jonathan Papelbon: In Brief

“God blessed me with my right arm. That’s all you got.”
— Jonathan Papelbon, during the 2007 World Series


Oct. 10, 2008 - The Standard-Times

Oct. 10, 2008: Cover and story. I don't need much excuse to post this, though it's now reminding me it finished second to a far worst cover in that year's NEAPNEA design contest.

Yeah, you could say that.

A couple nights after he said that, the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years. The team had a core of guys who, thanks to their youth, were all making well under $1 million for the year: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester and Papelbon.

That was as good as it got for them. Great teams, great players and they never got back.

The first of those five just left town, given the largest contract ever to a relief pitcher. Philadelphia, built for several years on the concept of winning now at the expense of worrying about later later, is going to get a damn good closer for at least the next two years, if not longer.

Whether the Red Sox should have kept him isn’t really my point: they didn’t have a chance once he hit free agency, and they were going to have a hell of a time keeping him from free agency even if they went whole hog into it. My point is the first of those five core guys is gone.

Winning’s nice. Winning with players you draft and develop, watching them become superstars every day, is a little nicer.

Even knowing it was coming for years, the reality’s still a little surreal.

Nov
11

Videos That Have Not Aged/Will Not Age Well

The impetus for this was discovering the text of the radio call on the Cardinals broadcast for Mark McGwire’s 61st home run.

“Mike Morgan is the pitcher. Here’s the pitch to McGwire … SWING … looky there! LOOKY THERE! Looky there! McGwire’s number sixty-one! McGwire’s flight 61 headed for Planet Maris! History! Bedlam! What a moment! Pardon me while I stand up and applaud!”

The quote was attributed to Joe Buck, who does the call shown above for No. 62 and out of who’s mouth that above blurb would sound ridiculous. I’ve since discovered it was actually said by his father, Jack Buck, which somehow makes it seem roughly 100 percent less ridiculous.

Forever Lazy, however, is always going to be ridiculous.

From the makers of the Snuggie comes something, somehow, even more depressing. (PLEASE SAY LAZY AGAIN, VOICE-OVER PERSON. I HAVEN’T QUITE GOTTEN WHAT YOU’RE GOING FOR.)

Earlier today, I saw a woman in a Dale Earnhardt Jr.-era Bud NASCAR jacket purposefully pushing a baby stroller full of wet paper bags past my apartment. She was calmly speaking to another woman as she rolled, greatly decreasing the chance she was merely a wandering crazy.

Seeing a man in one of these in the bathroom line at a sporting event would be many times more jarring. I suppose we’ll have to wait for the team-print versions, though.

Nov
10

Sports At Its Worst

Joe Paterno, Patriot-News

Top half of today's (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, my choice for cover of the day in the "Covers on the Newseum Site" category.

When Joe Paterno announced on Wednesday that he was planning to step down from the job he’s held since my father‘s teenage years, my writing gears started turning. There’s something reassuring about things that have been in your life since your earliest memories, be it a grandfatherly football coach who appeared to get where sports fit in the grand scheme, an irascible old man who told funny stories about life when the football games were over on Sunday night or Wimbledon being on NBC. At a time in my life when I feel keenly aware of things not being the way they used to be, the act of another one slipping away is never enjoyable.

But you know what’s even less enjoyable? Grandstanding. And there’s been enough of that to make me eager not to add much to the discussion. Unlike the vast majority, I know enough to understand that sometimes, I really don’t have anything worth adding to add.

Wednesday night, after Paterno was fired for his lack of action, might have been the worst sequence in the history of Twitter. So often, we hear how integral and enjoyable it is, especially in the context of sports discussions. Well, if there’s one thing the world didn’t need last night, it was thousands of people shoving each other out of the way to make sure you knew they’re against raping children in showers.

To everyone castigating the students and people of State College for taking to the streets and reacting with shock about the dismissal of their Godthat story, by State College native Michael Weinreb, has plenty to add to the discussion — remember this the next time you’re crowing about people painting their faces and sitting outside for tickets or tailgating or a “College Gameday” taping for three days. What you’re witnessing is fandom, and it’s really not about anything but absolutes, certainly not now. You and your bosses’ belief that sports could support a 24-hour news cycle helped make it that way.

To the journalists who spent last night proclaiming what an insult to their profession the press conference announcing Paterno’s firing was … wow, that’s a shock. No one’s more eager to tell you how important journalists are than journalists, especially sports journalists who don’t actually have a leg to stand on in said argument. I mean, how would the republic survive without Peter Abraham and Jonah Keri?

Side point on that front … someone should probably tell Toucher and Rich that they’re much better at interviewing drunks after Bruins games than pontificating about sports. Talk radio is usually the bottom of every discussion in the medium, but that’s never been more true than in this case. Whole lot of “I’d have kicked his ass” chatter, which is pretty telling given none of the dozens of people mentioned in the grand jury testimony did that. Why, it’s almost like this story isn’t as cut and dried as some people might think it is!

The grand jury testimony is heinous. But I don’t know what Joe Paterno knew. I don’t know if he was protecting a friend or a brand or anything. Paint me that picture better and I’ll feel a lot better about passing judgment on the guy.

And to sports as a whole, thanks for reminding me why every day, I move you a little further from my heart. As time goes on, it all means less and less. The return on emotional investment is less and less, because the amount of crap between the fan and the payoff for all that passion grows and grows. The games are great as they ever were, and they will continue to be even greater as time goes on.

It’s just harder and harder to swallow all that surrounds them. The baggage. The screaming. The understanding that the incredible things you’re seeing are probably being done with a bending of the rules. Sure, “everybody does it,” and a ton of the rules are stupid. (A discussion for another day.) But if the only sure thing after enjoying a triumph is that somewhere down the road, someone’s going to repeatedly force you to feel like a sucker for enjoying the good times, then what’s the point?

And now, I’m going to sit down and read this Paterno profile by Ivan Maisel. He was undoubtedly in the wrong on this scandal, because given his power in that community, his word truly was gospel. If he wanted Sandusky exposed for his crimes, so would it have been done. And yet, one error in judgment does not undo a life of good. Sorry, frothing masses. Save it for the overnight show.

Nov
08

Help Wanted

Joe Kerrigan, Dan Duquette

Aug. 16, 2001: On the short list of the franchise's lowest moments of the past 10 years not involving fried chicken. (AP Photo)

LinkedIn, it would be fair to say, is the social network most people belong to because they feel like they should. It is billed as the “world’s largest professional network,” and I have no doubt that many people have used it to achieve great heights in business and personal development. However, you can’t play “Family Feud” on it, and it’s far more satisfying to look at party pictures of that person you’re stalking than one postage-stamp image above their curriculum vitae.

My general stance with my own profile is to look at it every few months when somebody adds me as a “connection,” notice there’s a couple more people I could add, then not look at it until the cycle begins again. It’s this active stance that’s led me to being followed on Twitter by WEEI’s “Big Show” and an account that posts nothing but photos of celebrities in Red Sox gear.

“Spam Twitter accounts” are definitely high on the list of Internet things I don’t understand. But, shockingly, I digress.

Former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette does not feel the same about LinkedIn as I do, however. Yahoo’s Big League Stew noted, on the occasion of the Orioles letting him back in the MLB door, that Duquette has a thorough profile there. While there’s certainly a lot to talk about regarding a rather successful GM finally getting another shot after a decade out of the game’s highest level, the LinkedIn thing became all I wanted to talk about.

There’s any number of fascinating things to see there. His listing all the players he signed and his MLB Executive of the Year award the same as I list my … well, I probably should list my lone national writing award there. The lack of mention of his involvement with summer league college baseball, which somehow led him to New Bedford for a day, then to TractorGate.

And yet, I found myself drawn to Duquette’s recommendation of former Red Sox pitcher Aaron Sele:

“After I traded his contract to the Rangers Ted Williams used to call me up and say ‘How in hell can you trade a pitcher that has a curve ball like that?’ Ted was right we should have kept Aaron Sele; pitchers with that type of overhand breaking ball that can throw it for strikes behind in the count like he could are valuable and hard to replace!”

It’s like the story of every elderly person who calls the Herald nightly to complain about something. (Unlike the Herald people, though, Ted was calling to complain about something the person he was calling had actual involvement in.) I feel like I’ve stumbled into the professional sports version of this site, a combination of banality, professionalism and “are we really doing this” spirit. But how deep does the proverbial rabbit hole go?

Deeper than I went, I’m sure. But I went pretty deep. Here’s a sample:

— Duquette’s Red Sox time has one recommendation: From former Red Sox broadcaster and WAAAAAAAYYY BAAAAAAAACK connoisseur Jerry Trupiano, who rightly declares Dan “put together a consistently competitive ballclub that regularly appeared in the post-season,” then lies and says he “was able to oversee a staff that saw the Red Sox minor league system become a very productive entity.” I mean, I guess it was productive in the sense that Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. were worth a lot more as Pedro Martinez bait than actual pitchers, and I guess I’d rather have had Pavano than John Lackey in 2011 …

At least he's got experience with the phrase "Damn Yankees." That will probably come in handy in Baltimore. (AP)

— Trupiano, whose dismissal from the Red Sox was somewhat onerous, is missed in the broadcast booth by Jeff Idelson, who’s none less than the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s definitely on the short list of the most successful people that list four-plus years spent as a Fenway Park vendor on their resume.

By the way, want an easy way to convince people that you’re a monster? Tell them you took your wife to Utica, N.Y., on your honeymoon. The look of disgust is such that they’re not even listening by the time you bring up Oneonta.

Curt Schilling, on his time as a player with the Red Sox: “Won a few games here and there, did some nice things in October, good group of guys to work with.” The whole thing is sadly lacking in earned bravado, but does include work experience as a “#1 Fan……” of John McCain since January 2000 and feature a recommendation from … well, I better just quote the whole thing:

“I rewrote this recommendation because it was hard to indicate connection. I was a sports/baseball fan and Curt was a service provider -Player for the Diamondbacks/ Red Sox. He provided excellent service as a pitcher. I wish it had been for my teams. As a first generation American, born and raised in Brooklyn New York, and with an immigrant father that kisses the ground of America and of New York City, Curt Shilling hurt me as a Red Sox and as a Diamondback.I am a life long Yankee, Met, Jets, Giants, Rangers, Knicks, Islanders etc. fan. But, as a “professional fan” I commend Mr Schilling. A man, a family man, an outstanding athlete, a fierce competitor (I know this too well) and in his profile he mentions the Lord. I am honored to be connected. Cheers to you Curt Schilling.”

Et cetera? What’s left after you list every non-New Jersey sports team in New York? The colleges? The Brooklyn Cyclones? The subway system? Christ, I get ancy when the Patriots and Giants play every four years.

Rico Petrocelli‘s work experience lists running six Massachusetts gas stations in the 1970s under the title “Sports Oil Company.” The fact that the company existed for nine years probably means this isn’t the reality, but if you trying to define for me a case of a professional athlete getting talked into dumping money into a bad investment idea, something called the “Sports Oil Company” would be what would pop into mind.

“Rico! It’ll be great! Your face will be on the pumps! People love you! They’ll be lining up for hours just to get gas!”

Well, given it was the ’70s, at least part of that happened.

— I am extremely disappointed Bill Lee hasn’t recommended anybody, or listed his career. Talk about people whose Twitter accounts would be pure gold. I want to read him offer kudos to the cab driver that hit him in Montreal.

— On the football side, John Hannah recommends Andre Tippett as “a competitor with a heart!” One Hall of Famer to another … there’s something downright reassuring in that. Hannah’s profile actually led me to his (former?) blog, where it appears he’s one of the alarming percentage of Americans who thinks that the word “lose” is spelled with two o’s.

There are conflicting pieces of evidence on there, and it appears he may simply have let a typo slip. (Like this immaculately edited thing would ever allow that to happen.) Still, I remain perplexed about who out there is preaching the “lose is actually loose” gospel. It’s too prevalent to just be happening on its own. There’s little insight on the first page of a Google search about it, so I’m stumped.

— Dan Duquette’s profile has more references to his own football career than Gino Toretta‘s does about his. He still won the Heisman Trophy, for goodness sakes.

— No matter which quarterback the Patriots took with the No. 1 pick in the 1993 draft, they would have ended up with a guy who’s today making wine.

— From the hockey world, Bill Clement is teaching people how to walk tightropes. (That may be a metaphor but, hey, you never know.) He sadly only makes a general allusion to telling young right wing Jon Couture of the video game Oshawa Generals that he turns the puck over too much.

— Alexei Yashin recommended Mike Milbury’s time as general manager of the New York Islanders, terming him “generous.”

Alexei Yashin

Sept. 5, 2001: 10 years, $90 million. You'd be smiling too, and that's before you knew you'd only actually play five of the years. (AP)

That was a tough few weeks for executive competency.

Nov
07

Why We Are Here, Again

A couple weeks back, I had to get an eye exam so I could get a new order of contact lenses. (As someone who — outside of my “Herald physical” — hasn’t been to a doctor since my early college years, being forced before medical professionals is something I appreciate.) While there, I noticed one of the techs had a Band-Aid on the back of her neck … based on what was peeking out from around it, it was clear she had it there because she had a tattoo her employer mandated she cover. You know, all the less to offend old people.

After the appointment, I headed to Subway — my favorite establishment in the category of “Things I Do To Claim I Actively Care About My Health.” The woman making my sandwich, while being very polite and a competent sandwich artist, had gauged ears. Which, to me, is about 50 times more disgusting than having some goofy symbol or butterfly on the back of your neck.

To be fair, gauged ears are usually the least of these people’s problems. Please bear in mind that link’s going to give me the willies for at least a couple hours.

In the car, I thought to myself, “if only I had a place to discuss this largely meaningless yet somehow notable slice of my life. A place where others could either rightfully ignore it or discuss similar situations. A place where, when something notable does happen outside the purview of Red Sox coverage, I could go and attempt to show I still know how to write.”

What the hell. I’m pretty sure I paid for this domain until like 2019.

Hip-o-ween

Happy hipster Halloween, 2011. I have no idea why my wife is flashing gang signs, or when Dwight Evans got so dark skinned.

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