Thursday, May 1, 2008
Those of you who read me frequently enough (hi, Daddy!) to notice a change in the content and frequency of my posts may have seen this coming, but it's finally time to reveal my secret to the world:
I HAVE A NEW BLOG.
It's me and 5 fabulously witty/talented/knowledgeable dudes -- all from Boston, all utterly addicted to sports and all the pertaining nerdery. Our mission is to indulge our love of all things Boston- and sports-related without being, you know, Massholes. In the words of the site itself:
This site is intended, above all else, as a celebration of what we love about Boston sports. We want to promote discourse, to foster fandom, to rant, to indulge our homerism, and we encourage you to do the same.
I'm super-thrilled to be a part of this amazing new venture, and I hope you'll all come check me out! I'll mostly be covering hockey... now that it's the offseason, of course, I get to post dorky sabermetrics articles and pictures of Big Baby with braces on, which are both equally fun. To the handful of you who've read and commented on me regularly over the past (almost!) year, THANK YOU! I still don't quite understand why on earth you'd want to read the self-indulgent ramblings of an obsessive Boston sports chick, but it's been really, really fun.
Monday, April 28, 2008
That’s the first time I’ve actually typed that. This is a step forward. It was a great series. It really was. I expressed cautious optimism. I got swept up in the momentum. I refused to get discouraged. In the end, though, I was left weeping sloppily in my apartment with my roommate sympathetically attempting to feed me rice as Montreal coasted off with the series win. Au revoir, fuckers.
However, we’re still in the thick of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a thing like crippling depression or crushing disappointment keep me from enjoying the greatest month of the greatest sport in the world. BOOYAH. (Hey, and the Providence Bruins are leading their divisional playoffs series 2-0!)
That said, it’s time to pick sides among those who remain. My first loyalty obviously, inevitably goes to the San Jose Sharks, who cruised into the playoffs at the top of the Pacific Division with a whopping 108 points on the season. I get a little twinge every time I watch the Sharks play: god, I miss Joe Thornton. The Sharks are currently down 2 games to Dallas (GO BACK TO MINNESOTA YOU LAMEWADS) in the Conference semifinals, but I remain confident that my Joey will lead them into the Cup finals in a blaze of glory – or, at the very least, will pound the shit out of Steve Ott for being a dirty-hitting little rat. Observe:
Mmm. That goes down smooth.
My pick for the Eastern conference? Well, that’s a little embarrassing to admit. Obviously, I adore Sidney Crosby. This is not optional. If you love hockey, you love Crosby. People who whine about him taking dives and deliberately drawing calls don’t fucking know what they’re talking about. The kid is the purest incarnation of the sport we’ve seen since Wayne Gretsky. He’s obviously been coached to play cautiously and avoid the hit, since he’s a) the team captain, b) the strongest offensive player on the team, and c) an easy and obvious target for ice thugs. This isn’t football, kids. Crosby is god.
Speaking of ice thugs, though... you know who else I love?
Heh. I love Avery for the same reason I love Roger Clemens and Chad Johnson: he’s just such an unrepentant bastard. He loves playing the villain, and he does it gleefully and well. My favorite Avery moment ever came in an interview after the oh-so-contentious series with New Jersey, when the much put-upon Martin Brodeur (understandably, perhaps) refused to shake Avery’s hand following the final game. Avery’s response: “Everybody talks about how unclassy I am, and fatso over there forgot to shake my hand.” BAHAHA. I would totally go drinking with Sean Avery. I freaking love Sean Avery. So, here we go: LET’S GO RANGERS!
Is it a coincidence that both teams I’m pulling for have blown 3-0 game leads in the playoffs already? Ah, well. A Sharks/Rangers final series would be scrappy and entertaining as hell – and virtually guaranteed to go 7 games. Bring it on.
The Conference Semifinals: EIGHT TEAMS ENTER. FOUR TEAMS LEAVE.
Not so catchy?
(Avery picture unabashedly stolen from Melt Your Face Off)
Thursday, April 24, 2008
David Pauley: 24-year-old righty. His MLB debut was on May 31, 2006; he ultimately started 3 games for the Sox that year and posted a 7.88 ERA (eek!) with 10 Ks (not bad) over 16 innings. Not likely to ever be above a 4th starter, but reasonably consistent and a good fielder. His best pitches are his sinker and his curveball. His fastball is low-90s. He started 26 games in Pawtucket last year and posted a 4.33 ERA over 153.2 innings, with 110 Ks and 49 BBs (blech, buddy, throw that shit OVER THE PLATE). Pauley took Beckett's start on Tuesday against Anaheim/Los Angeles/whatever, where it became evident that his sinkers sometimes don't, uh, sink. Pauley's real weakness, apart from his control issues, seems to be a tendency to give up HRs. He's back in Pawtucket now. FUTUREMRS SAYS: Not clear more time in AAA will develop him significantly more, especially given his tendency to walk batters; if anything, time in the majors will help him learn how to work more seasoned batters. He can throw strikeouts, so let's stick him in the bullpen and let him work the 6th and 7th for a while.
Craig Hansen: 24-year-old righty. Being groomed as a reliever and, ultimately, a closer. Throws comfortably in the mid-90s and is rumored to possess a nasty slider -- his ability to throw that consistently will make the difference between his minor-league and major-league careers. His MLB debut was ON MY BIRTHDAY in 2005, and he worked 38 innings for the Sox in 2006, striking out 30 on a 6.63 ERA. He was called up for yesterday's loss to the Angels, where he was plunked into a tie game in the 6th. His pitching looked speedier than it has in the past and he was able to retire 2 batters, but was ultimately ganked after giving up a solo HR to Casey Kotchman that would go on to win the Angels the game. Like Pauley, Hansen was shipped back down to Pawtucket immediately following the game. FUTUREMRS SAYS: I see this kid getting shellshocked if he spends too much time in the majors right now. Let him keep working on his speed in Pawtucket; he could ultimately be a nice complement to lefty Okajima in September.
And finally, today's man:
Justin Masterson: 22-year-old righty. Masterson is making his debut TODAY at Fenway. Woo! The lanky sinkerballer is 1-0 over 4 starts with an other-worldly 0.95 ERA in Portland this season. The strength of his sinker is said to be the variation with which he can hurl it, fluctuating between mid-80s and mid-90s and thus baffling hitters. Masterson only converted to starter last year in single-A Lancaster; he started 10 games for the AA Sea Dogs in 2007 and posted a 4.34 ERA with 59 Ks and only 18 walks through 58 innings. The stat I really love is his 16.50 K/BB ratio over 31 innings pitched in Lowell in 2006. Yowza! No wonder Boston is all a-twitter about this young lad taking the mound for Dice-K today. FUTUREMRS SAYS: I really don't see the rush to make this kid a starter yet, but if he's going to develop as a starter he needs to stay in AA for a while before making the permanent move to Pawtucket. Averaging 5.8 innings per start isn't going to wear him out, but it'll give him a chance to acclimate to working lineups (the kid only has 27 career starts, for pete's sake) and developing his pitch arsenal. The worst thing to do with talent like this would be to force it before he's ready.
Bring it on! Game at 1:35 pm today. I'm predicting a sharp decline in productivity. Thanks, MLB Gameday!
Update: Masterson pitched beautifully, allowing just 1 run (a solo homer to Mike Napoli in the 5th) and 2 hits over 6 full innings while striking out 4. However, the Sox bullpen combined to do a neat little job of blowing a 3-1 lead and ensuring that Masterson wouldn't pick up the W in his major-league debut. Maybe they were all jealous of how much attention he's getting. Unless something awesome happens in the bottom of the 9th right now it's going to be 7-3, Angels.
More update: Something a little bit awesome happened when Jacoby Ellsbury reached base and Ortiz then hit a 2-run ding-dong to make it 7-5. Manny came up to bat but flied out to Torii Hunter to end the inning so I got all excited for nothing.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
So, to recap from this weekend:
- The Sox swept Texas in a 4-game series at Fenway, outscoring the hapless Rangers 30-14. I still wish we'd held onto Kason Gabbard instead of trading him for that no-good sack of crap Gagne.
- The Celtics took Game 1 of the first-round playoffs series against Atlanta behind dominant performances from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (who hit 3 3-pointers within the first 5 minutes of the game). I've literally been waiting for this series to happen since last July. It felt good.
- Something like 40,000 people ran past my apartment in a spectacular display of tenacity and athletic prowess while I drank beer and sat in the sun.
Yep, so that's it for sports in Boston this weekend!
Friday, April 18, 2008
So I tried to write a post on the Bruins' 5-1 thrashing of the Canadiens last night. I really did. And all that came out was "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Last night was amazing. Last night was the kind of game that rewards true fandom, where the heavens seem to be smiling down and handing you a moment of pure glory to make up for all those regular-season losses to Montreal; for that 10-2 drubbing by the Caps; for that end-of-the-season slump that threatened to knock us out of playoffs contention altogether.
If (when?) we win this series, the crux of it all will be the second goal of the third period, when team captain Zdeno Chara unleashed his laser beam of a slap shot on a slowly crumbling Carey Price to score his first goal of the post-season and put the B's up 3-1. In baseball, the "go-ahead run" is the run that gives a team the lead; last night, though, it was Chara's goal that served as the true go-ahead, spurring an absolute frenzy of Bruins offensive activity that would ultimately result in 2 more goals before the final buzzer rang. That goal, coupled with a phenomenal save by Tim Thomas (31 saves on the night) immediately beforehand, represented an unbelievably crucial shift in momentum in the game and possibly the series as a whole. You could SEE the crowd at the Bell
A sampling of the text messages I got last night:
Pinch me this is too good
and the oh-so-eloquent
Holy shit !!!!
Game six tomorrow, kids. This shit's about to be epic. GO BRUINS!
Oh, the Red Sox beat the Yanks too. Sweet!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Back Bay T Stop on the Orange Line, near Copley Square is also a convenient stop to access the Back Bay as it is just to the south of Copley Square, and approximately halfway between Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue. In this area, you'll find plenty of red sox fans, wearing the uniform, with their beer bellies and whorish wives, and bratty kids. If you tell that the red sox suck dick, you'll probably get beaten to death. Your best defense from the mindless mob of drunken mediocrity is to stay inside on game days. Traveling in backbay on game days is dangerous for non-conformists. Good luck.
My goodness. I mean, I've got my issues with the Hynes stop too -- the Boylston Street entrance is always closed, which is massively inconvenient to me, and there are always like 300 Berklee students carrying things like upright basses and harps onto already-packed cars. But this isn't the stop for Fenway Park, dude. That's Kenmore, or Fenway if you feel like stopping at Bed Bath and Beyond first. Do we think this person is a Yankees fan? If so, has (s)he seen the guts in the upper levels of Yankee stadium? Perhaps (s)he is merely opposed to the shackles of traditional family structure. Yeah, there's nothing I hate more than the sight of a family enjoying America's Pasttime together either, brah.
I think I like the idea that "Traveling in backbay on game days is dangerous for non-conformists" the best. It's like Yawkee Way is actually Tiananman Square or something. "In Red Sox Nation, baseball watches YOU!"
"I was on my way to the airport last year at this time."
We can pile the Player of the Week honors on Kevin Garnett. We can laud Doc Rivers as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. (Actually, no we can't, because I don't want any part of that, but you can do whatever makes you happy, pumpkin.) But the person I personally was happiest to see strolling out of the Garden following the Celtics' 66th and final win of a spectacular regular season was Paul Pierce.
It's simply impossible not to love Pierce. He's not the kind of player you just like. You LOVE him. The 6-time All-Star has suffered through almost 10 goddamn years of Celtics ineptitude and disappointment. He came back from being stabbed 11 TIMES and needing subsequent lung surgery to emerge as the team's unquestioned leader. He's still responsible for the biggest 4th-quarter comeback EVER in the NBA Playoffs. He's the first member of the Celtics since Larry Bird to top 2,000 points in one season. As His Royal Shaq-iness so eloquently put it: Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth.
It's been easy this year to get distracted by the visceral, hypnotic dance that is Kevin Garnett on the court or the breathtaking, buzzer-beating 3-pointers of Ray Allen. But behind it all, Paul Pierce is still the motherfucking truth. He's averaging 19.6 PPG with 4.5 assists over 80 of 82 games this season. Moreover, he's looked so freaking HAPPY at every game this year. The beaten, hangdog look Pierce used to wear on the sidelines belied the ferocity of his play; watching him in years past, it's been almost impossible to understand how he continued to play the way he did for a team that was so obviously holding him back from the championships he deserved. Not this year, though. Pierce's enjoyment of his new team has been evident every step of the way. He'd physically slimmed down with the intent of becoming a more effective defender in the offseason, but there was a mental lightness in his step as well. The Truth doesn't always have to hurt. The Truth had been set free.
The Big Three weren't in for much of last night's win; their lone appearance was a 3rd-quarter cameo that wound up being less than impressive as they allowed New Jersey to go on a 17-4 run. But there's no question that they will be the explosion that everybody turns to watch when the playoffs kick off on Saturday. And nobody will be happier than Paul Pierce to be at the center of that explosion.
And, just 2 weeks ago, he became a daddy.
Congratulations, Celtics, and congratulations, Paul Pierce. You've earned your way here. Now show 'em what you've got.