Aaron Hernandez - Did you see the major marketing oops surrounding both the Florida Gators and New England Patriots this week? It seems that calendars for both teams feature everyone's favorite potential triple murderer Aaron Hernandez.
According to the their party company that produced the calendars, approval was given months before any charges were filed against Hernandez. Of course, if that is the case, doesn't the school and the team keep track of who's in what as far as promotional type materials for the team?
I mean if they can keep stats on who uses their left leg or their right leg more on third down in November games below 50 degrees, the front office ought to know which players are featured in what material, no?
The New York Liberty actually had a good week for a change. They won both of their games to "improve" to 6-11 on the season. First they nipped the Connecticut Sun 67-65 and then beat the Tulsa Shock handily 90-74.
About the only down type of news for the team this week was related to assistant coach Katie Smith. She was replaced as the #2 all-time WNBA scorer by Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury.
BOSTON RED SOX
Professional writers and commentators have been talking for a while now about exactly when the Red Sox will concede they won't win the World Series this year so that they can sell off any trade worthy assets and go all in with their youth movement.
I've been holding off on conceding the season so those articles have kind of irritated me to this point. But after watching the Red Sox get slapped around by the woeful Chicago Cubs in a three game sweep AT Fenway Park earlier this week, I'm damn close to saying the Sox should pack it in.
What a terrible notion though. To give up before they even reach the All-Star break disgusts me. But with a ton of injuries to key players that don't seem to be healing in a timely manner and a general feeling of malaise from those that are actually on the field, maybe it is time to play as many of the youngsters to give them as much major league seasoning as possible and come back to make a strong run at contention next season.
Of course, playing the less experienced guys comes with the knowledge that the team is likely to be nearly as bad as the Bobby Valentine Year. After all, Jackie Bradley Jr. can't hit MLB pitching and Xander Boegarts is in a huge slump. But Brock Holt looks like the real deal and Mookie Betts seems to have started off his stay with the big club as well as could be expected.
But what about the pitching? Clay Buchholz is back from his injury rehab and has pitched markedly better than what he had been doing before. It hasn't translated into W's for him, but he's at least kept the team in games and he wasn't really doing that before. But if he can string together some really good performances, will the Sox look to trade him for something to help their future?
Brandon Workman was doing well until the BS suspension that left him out of the rotation for 12 days. He got shelled in his last start. But I'd like to see him stick around for a while.
I know Jon Lester is the most talked about guy to be on the trading block. Given his 9-7 record and periods where he's getting hit as often as a punch drunk boxer, trading him when you can't agree on a new contract for multiple pieces in return seems like a good idea. But I think trading the acknowledged ace of your staff is going to hurt the team in ways both on and off the field. While his record might make many happy the Sox didn't give him a huge contract offer before the season started, I think the lowball offer they did extend will bite them in the ass after the season ended. Should Lester turn things around in the second half of the season and become a lights out starter, Sox GM Ben Cherington is going to have to decide between opening the vault doors or parting ways with a guy that is seen as one of the key foundational members of the team.
Okay hockey fans who happen to read this column, was Jarome Iginla leaving the Bruins a foregone conclusion?
After seeing the news that he signed a 3 year, 16 million dollar deal to play for the Colorado Avalanche I was wondering if the Bruins even made an attempt at keeping him. If not, why not? Was his performance not enough to justify trying to keep him, or was the contract demands more than the Bruins were willing to assume?
The other question I had is with the talent that has already left the club so far this offseason, do the Bruins still have enough top line guys to make a serious attempt at the Stanley Cup next season?
In an unrelated to "real" hockey, I watched the Rob Lowe hockey film Youngblood on Thursday night. I remember when it first came out and how much I liked it. I think it is still an okay film but it definitely doesn't hold up as well.
Music - Here at Yougabsports, one of this week's Question of the Day entries asked about the first concert site readers/contributors had attended. I took it a bit further and did a separate blog entry detailing all the concerts I've attended since before 1986. You can read that HERE.
I got two review articles done this week. The first one is a four pack of mini reviews for albums that were released in 2013. I hadn't gotten around to buying them before 2014 came around but I wanted to share my thoughts on each of the discs, even if it is an abbreviated version of said thoughts. You can check out what I thought of albums by Julie Roberts, Paul Rodgers, Black Star Riders and The Winery Dogs via this Pop-topia.com link.
I also reviewed the new Night Ranger CD High Road for KNAC.com. You can check out that one HERE.
Last week I included the lyric video for the Overkill song "Armorist". But over the course of the week, the band released the official video. You can see it below.
Books - I had a big week of book buying this week, adding 7 new selections to my ever expanding to read pile. The books in question are as follows: Star Trek The Next Generation - Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang, The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling under a pen name), The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly, The Highway by C.J. Box and both Murder on the Half Shelf and Not the Killing Type by Lorna Barrett. On Saturday I added the Linwood Barclay thriller A Tap on the Window.
I gave the Rowling book to my mother to read first as she is a huge Harry Potter fan and I wanted to let her see if she liked this total story change from the author. Plus it will be a while before I get to it anyway.
This week on the Today Show, best selling authors Brad Thor and Kate White were asked for their summer reading recommendations. In the suspense category, they both picked the Terry Hayes book I Am Pilgrim. It was nice to see them giving some love to a book I loved. However, not too brag (too much), but I was on the fan bandwagon for the novel months ago.
Perhaps I spend too much of my time in my car and perhaps I listen to sports talk radio to excess, but I think one of these two things is about to change. Since I can't stop driving to work, I guess it must be option "b." The source of this discontent is the latest chapter in the Off-Season of LeBron (not to be confused with the Summer of George). Four years ago we had the extravaganza that brought us the so-called "Big Three." James and Bosh joined with Wade in Miami and a dominant force was born...4 title series in 4 years with 2 Championships. Not a bad return on the investment. Those contracts all came with 4 year opt-out clauses, now exercised by all three players. Presumably, the plan was to allow the players to re-sign, for LeBron at the MAX and everyone else at some lesser number. Which is where we are now...another circus while LeBron - and to a lesser extent Wade & Bosh - hold the NBA hostage to their contract expectations.
Which brings me to my main point...its buried in here somewhere folks...which is that listening to the talking heads, you would think the NBA has only 6 teams. Here is who is in the NBA: the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks (who knows why?, they stink), Heat, Bulls and the goody two-shoes, Spurs. Every other team is extraneous to the league. Why not contract the NBA to 8 teams - we'll keep Houston & OKC for balance - and put the rest of the unfortunate NBA fans out of their misery. The fact is, unless LeBron chooses you, you are not moving into the elite winners circle. Half the NBA franchises have never even played for a title and over the last 30 years you have 9 different champions...so who cares about the Wizards, or even more remote, Sacremento. You have the formerly up & coming Clippers once again overshadowed by the Lakers & Kobe - all of which revolves around saga #2, the Carmelo Anthony Summer...again only 6 teams in the NBA.
I can't stand it anymore...it is going to leave me no choice but to listen only to the MLB or NFL Networks. (Training camps open in about 4 weeks - wahoo!!).
Here's a breath of fresh air for tennis...slightly more obscure than the 24 other NBA teams is Wimbledon. At least with Eugenie Bouchard in the Women's Final today, we have someone new on the scene that plays exciting tennis. New names and faces are a plus...while on the Men's side of the draw, we have more of the same...Who Cares? versus Never Heard of Him. A bit harsh I guess since Federer is such a distinguished champion, but really, since McEnroe, has there been anyone worth watching?
Break up the Cubs....farm system. The Cubs raided the A's cookie jar taking their top two prospects for Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs have actually amassed a wealth of young talent...if half of that talent develops into bonafide major league players, they may be competitive in a year or two. I guess when you've waited over 100 years, what's a couple more?
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Enjoy the 5th as well (that is "the" 5th, not "a" 5th!)!
While gushing over the bevy of new music that was previewed online over the past week...
This past week, Sports Illustrated's website got a redesign that reportedly was supposed to make it more compatible with smartphones and the like. Well I don't know if it accomplished that goal or not, but it did manage to make the site utterly unworkable on a PC that is for sure.
The redesign looks like someone with a technical background vomited on the screen. And things don't work. The site is massively slower, things don't work properly and you can't find things that were available with the previous version of the website. You know, the one that wasn't broken.
While I did read various news stories, my main focus on my multiple daily visits was to check out the daily columns offered by the site's bevy of writers. I've tried searching through the new site for that option but the only thing available is a list of writers. This would mean you'd have to click on each individual name in that list to see if they'd written something new on a particular day. Talk about unwieldy.
I checked out Sports Illustrated's Facebook page to see if anyone else had commented about the redesign and lo and behold, complaints about this epic fail of a redesign make up the majority of the posts to the page by users. And yet, thus far there hasn't been a single word from the powers that be to address the concerns of users who are promising to flock to other websites if things aren't fixed or reset back to the previous design of the website.
And I'm one of those people. This new design is atrocious and whomever approved it should be immediately fired. The only times I've been to the main site since they launched the new site is to check and see if they've gotten rid of it. Luckily, the subsite for TheMMQB.com is still workable and I have that saved as a separate bookmark. But I'll have to go to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com for sports news if something isn't done soon.
The New York Liberty broke their losing streak early last week when they knocked off the Atlanta Dream 85-78. But they didn't build off that win when they ended up losing on Friday night to the Chicago Sky 73-69.
The loss to the Sky has to be particularly galling when you consider the Sky were without the services of their star player (and one of the faces of the WNBA) Elena Delle Donne. She's out indefinitely to deal with the effects of Lyme Disease. It isn't like she's the whole team, as proven by Epiphanny Prince scoring 30 points. But the news was only announced on Friday so you might've thought the team would've been affected. Kudos to them for not allowing it to affect their play though.
As for the Liberty they are now 4-11 on the season.
As for the WNBA's Pride program, things don't seem to be going along as smoothly as the league could've hoped for. One report had the league trying to make all the players wear Pride shooting shirts in warmups. When players objected to being forced to wear them, the league relented and made them optional. And a big game on ESPN that was touted as having a big Pride aspect to it, turned out to have about as minimal a presence on the broadcast as possible without ignoring it altogether.
Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times (she covers the Seattle Storm) had a piece this week that took the league/ESPN to task for the perceived failures in this official outreach to the LGBT portion of the league's fanbase that you can read HERE.
While some on the Rebkell women's basketball message board took issue with what she wrote, I thought it was a compelling piece even if you don't agree with everything she had to say.
I woke up this morning to find the news that Jason Kidd had once again provided proof that he's a gigantic pantload of a scumbag loser. You can read why I say that HERE.
BOSTON RED SOX
Boston Herald beat writer John Tomase wrote an article this past Wednesday that called on Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to make changes to the team now. He said that they've had half a season to show they can compete and haven't done the job, then goes on to list the failures of certain players and what might be done to replace them.
I'm sure the article won't make him any friends (not that is his job anyway) in the team's locker room, but the article pretty much sums up everything that has unfortunately gone wrong with the team this year. You can check out the full article here.
A big congratulations goes out to the Vanderbilt University baseball team who beat out Virginia to win the College World Series.
In college summer ball, the Cape Cod Baseball league team in my town is the Wareham Gatemen. They are off to another bad start this season. After losing to the Orleans Firebirds 7-3 last night they are 4-11 on the season.
The NBA Draft saw the Celtics take Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart with the 6th pick and James Young from Kentucky with the 17th pick. And maybe it is the pessimist in me, but I don't see how these two guys are going to help improve the Celtics from 25-57.
This is in light of the fact that the selection of both players gave rise to the notion that both Rajon Rondo and/or Avery Bradley wouldn't return next season. By no means is that a guarantee but since there was no player in this year's draft that was seen as an heir apparent to the throne of Jordan or James, how can anyone expect more than what we saw last year with the additions of Smart (pictured below 1st) and Young (pictured 2nd)?
Look, I'm not saying they can't be good additions to the team, but nothing I've read says they are going to markedly change the fortunes of the Celtics either. I don't think ready to play necessarily means effectively play.
In other draft news, the NBA did something that was PR smart and just a nice humanitarian type gesture. Baylor's Isaiah Austin was expected to be drafted this year after a pretty darn good career in college. But his NBA dreams crashed and died when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. It is a genetic disease that affects the body's connective tissue. It meant that his basketball playing days were over.
But Adam Silver made a point to recognize Austin and gave him his draft moment. You can see it below.
Hilarious Video of the Week - Check out this video called "First Moon Party". It is disturbingly funny.
Books - A bit of twist this week as I bought and then finished reading a book in the same day. The book in question was Takedown Twenty. It is the latest Stephanie Plum adventure by Janet Evanovich. The light-hearted series is always entertaining as Stephanie bungles her way through her job as a bounty hunter in Trenton, New Jersey.
Also, it was announced the author Kyle Mills has been selected to take over the Mitch Rapp series that was written by author Vince Flynn. Flynn passed away from cancer before finishing the book he was currently working on called The Survivor. Mills will then write two more books featuring Rapp.
It is always hard to accept a new author writing someone else's character/characters. I'm still not completely sold on the notion of Robert B. Parker's Spenser character being written by Ace Atkins despite having read the novels. Something will always feel JUST a little bit off.
But I've read some of the books that Mills has written in the past, particularly his series on FBI agent Mark Beamon, and he's a damn fine writer. So I'll definitely be looking to check out how he handles the writing duties with Mitch Rapp.
Comics - The Wizard World Philadelphia convention was held last weekend and the Pop-topia.com website covered it. You can check out the site proper for a variety of articles, but I thought I'd link the "final thoughts" article by my buddy J.D. HERE.
TV - Well, I just destroyed some brain cells last night. I watched the pilot episode of that Girl Meets World show spun off from the old ABC sitcom Boy Meets World. And I have to say that any parent letting their kid watch this absolute piece of garbage show should be brought up on child endangerment charges.
It is so soul-sucking bad, I don't know how even what passes for the low standards of an idiotic network like the Disney Channel were met.
The goodwill engendered by Boy Meets World being a fondly remembered piece of nostalgia (aired 21 years ago) is annihilated by about as poorly conceived a concept with bad acting and writing as I've ever seen. Good Gawd! Homeboys in Outer Space was better than this.
Everyone involved with this show should issue a public apology and resign from public life forever.
I'm happy to say that my copy of the Shout! Factory DVD release of NYPD Blue Season 6 arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm in the midst of a binge watch this weekend. The show is one of my favorites of all time and I'm certainly glad that Shout! Factory is getting around to releasing the seasons on DVD. The original DVD release of the show stalled after four seasons but the company picked up the ball and have release the next two season with plans for season 7 to be out at the end of September.
Music - It was a big week in music for those of us who like to get previews of upcoming new releases. There were four bits of music that caught my ear this week and you can check them out below.
The first was an audio clip of the new Overkill song "Armorist". It is from their July 22nd release White Devil Armory. Unfortunately for me, I didn't really care much for this song.
Next up is the Robert Plant track "Rainbow" from his September 9th CD Lullaby and...the Ceaseless Roar.
Kix is one of the 80's metal bands that really struck a chord with listeners for their infectious upbeat music and spirited double entendres. The band has reunited for a few years to do concerts, but until now there hadn't been any new music. But August 5th will see the release of Rock Your Face Off. You can hear "Love Me With Your Top Down" below.
And probably the most anticipated album for me this summer is Accept's Blind Rage, due out August 15th. The band released the official video for the song "Stampede" and it is epically awesome.
Missing the NFL right now as the OTAs are winding down and training camp is a month away. Following the NFL has become a full-time job recently with just this month the only real downtime in the schedule. That said, after all the combine, draft, free agency, etc I am ready for the games to get here. Training camp has become an “event” in the past 15-20 years and now is a big part of the NFL calendar for fans.
Without football, all eyes are on baseball, tennis, and soccer. I enjoyed trying to watch as much of the College World Series as it is real enjoyable to track the young stars of tomorrow in the tournament. Enjoyed catching the Longhorns game versus Vanderbilt on ESPN last Saturday night despite the “Clemens Cam” that seemed fixed on former major league pitcher Roger Clemens on hand to watch his son at Texas. Nice to see Vandy finally win their first CWS championship.
Wimbledon is in full bloom and although tennis was never big in my house growing up, I enjoyed playing on the lawn with the neighbors every July as we caught Wimbledon fever and built our own ”court” on the front lawn. I do remember that we always watched the mens and womens finals (in the morning, of course) and instead of cream and strawberries we munched on fresh picked strawberries from the garden (with no-fat milk substituted for the cream) as my mother insisted on the traditional Wimbledon snack.
The World Cup is in full swing and the U.S. were lucky enough to have Portugal knock off Ghana and allow them into the knockout round of sixteen. The Americans seemed...off...against Germany. Not sure if they were playing over-conservative to keep it close or whatever, but it almost backfired. Had Ghana scored instead of Ronaldo for Portugal and it would have been good night for U.S. Soccer.
Finally, major league baseball had a no-hitter by San Francisco Giants former ace Tim Lincecum against the weak-hitting San Diego Padres. Lincecum used to be a strikeout guy. The goofy motion and hair with a devastating fastball made him one of the more notable young guns when he won back-to-back Cy Young Awards. The days of dominance are long gone, but back-to-back seasons with no-hitters is still impressive.
The Red Sox were on the West Coast last week and the season continued to jump off the tracks. Seven games out west and starting today back for three more in New York against the Yankees. Going 2-5 on a trip they needed to go 5-2 on at worst to start crawling back into the American League East race. The Red Sox sit 7 games under .500 and 7.5 games behind the Blue Jays and a ton of teams between them and the playoffs.
Dustin Pedroia continues to struggle mightily batting just .265 with only 4 home runs and 27 RBIs and just a .338 OBP and an abysmal .377 Slugging Percentage (per baseball-reference.com). David Ortiz is hitting .265 batting average but he is the only player on the team with double-digit home runs. I am not saying the team is horrible this season at the plate this season but A.J. Pierzynski is second on the team with 31 RBIs. Shane Victorino was out with a hamstring injury and in the rehab has now been shut-down indefinitely with back issues.
For the Red Sox the problem is that they need to keep fans flocking to Fenway (and buying commemorative bricks, food, drinks, merchandise, fan club memberships, watching their cable network, etc) and unlike other markets the Fenway “Faithful” fall off in droves when the losing starts. Heck, 2012 is evidence of that after the 90 loss team played in a half-empty stadium almost the entire second-half of the season.
Blowing this team up completely is not an option for the current ownership group. Maybe it is time to look to the Dodgers again for a Kemp/Ethier blockbuster deal maybe?
Finally, the NBA Draft will be done by the time this is posted. My fingers are crossed that the Celtics still somehow deal their picks for Kevin Love right now.
OK, that’s all for this week. Have a great weekend!