While heading off to see the Boston College women's basketball team play this afternoon...
BOSTON RED SOX
The hot stove season kicks things off this week thanks to a trio of moves involving the Red Sox.
Times flies when you are basking in the glow of a World Series championship don't it? Almost from the minute the final out was recorded, the planning for next season began and it was with the knowledge that more than a few players that helped bring the unlikely title to Boston would not be returning.
The biggest name involved was outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. His departure was not unexpected. In fact it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would be leaving the Red Sox. He was looking a huge deal and with the Red Sox being burned once by that 7 year $142 million dollar deal that they gave to Carl Crawford, there was no way they would go down that road again with the sadly oft-injured Ellsbury.
I'm all for players getting as much money as they can in a deal and while I'm disappointed and yes a little mad when players spurn the Boston area teams, I usually handle the disappointment fine. But after signing a 7 year $153 million dollar deal with the freaking Yankees I'm just a big beyond the "irritated" marker on the chart.
The Yankees? The FREAKING Yankees? While most of the people I know via Facebook were chanting that they hope he gets hurt, I dealt with this "betrayal" by Ellsbury not with wishing him physical harm (because that's flat out wrong), but rather a miserable year at the plate.
Another cog in the title team left this week as well. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia agreed to join the major league baseball verson of Dante's Inferno (aka the Miami Marlins) with a 3 year 21 million dollar deal. While is decision making ability might be in question going from a title winner to a team that makes licking the butt crack of a dead rhinoceros look favorable by comparison, it is sad to see him go.
But the news isn't all about watching players leave Boston. The Red Sox signed reliever Edward Mujica to a 2 year deal. He looks to be used as a set up man after spending most of last season as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 37 saves but lost the closer's job in September and didn't so much as step on the field of play during the World Series.
Then came last night's news...Mike Napoli is back! The hirsute one signed a 2 year 32 million dollar deal to come back to Boston. This is good news because I figure you need to try to hold on to at least some of the people who made last year both successful and fun.
The town Pop Warner football team, the Wareham Tigers, are currently in Florida as the B Squad is competing for the Pop Warner Super Bowl title. It is only the second time in the history of the Tigers they've qualified for the trip to Disney World, but the very first time they were able to raise the money necessary to make the trip. Through a myriad of donations, including one from Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots, they raised the money in about 3 days and were on their way.
Their first game was yesterday afternoon against the Gilroy Browns from California. Wareham led 14-12 at halftime and 20-12 in the third quarter. But the Browns rallied back and ended up winning the game 28-20.
The Celtics started the past week with a 92-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a bit of a depressing loss in that the Bucks had lost 11 games in a row heading into the matchup with the Celtics. The loss came despite a huge game from Jared Sullinger (21 points, 14 boards). Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green each finished with 18 points.
But things turned around for Boston in the back end of the home and home series with the Bucks. They took that second game 108-100 behind 25 points from Crawford. Green scored 18 points and Brandon Bass had 16 points and 9 boards. Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee all finished in double figures as well.
The most amazing thing about the win was it gave the Celtics the lead in the Atlantic Division. In terms of the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference, it is a bit of an embarrassment that a team with an 8-12 record at this point is your division leader but for Celtics fan, first place is first place.
Friday night's game against the Denver Nuggets saw the Celtics open up the game with a 14-0 run, score a season high 39 points in the first quarter and then nearly squander a 27 point lead before finally holding off Denver 106-98. They are now 9-12 on the season and continue to surprise with each game. They may have a losing record but this team isn't anywhere near as bad as most thought it would be.
Crawford had 22 points and 8 assists while the barely ever heard from Kris Humphries added 18 points and 7 boards. Avery Bradley added 18 points as well. Jeff Green finished with 15 points while Brandon Bass scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the situation with the Brooklyn Nets grew worse this week. The losing continues apace and with the all but in name only firing of assistant coach Lawrence Frank, the hiring of Jason Kidd is looking worse and worse by the day. You can read my take on the situation here: http://www.yougabsports.com/pt/Are-you-Kidd-ing-me.12-4-2013/blog.htm
By the way, don't forget that next Saturday is the annual Army-Navy game. It's a game that is always worth they hype regardless of what the record for either team is heading into the game. Hell, it is the one football game I can guarantee that my mother will watch beginning to end each year.
As for this week's games, I pretty much skipped the action because there weren't any games I was truly interested in during the afternoon. The SEC title game went to Auburn and Oklahoma upset Oklahoma State (I did see the end of that one).
But the two biggest games of note took place last night after I put this edition to bed and got off the computer. But if Florida State and Ohio State both win, we'll know who will play in the BCS title game and then there really isn't much to write about.
Hartford - The Hawks dropped to 1-7 on the season with a 62-49 loss to Quinnipiac. How they managed to lose this game comes down to free throws. It had to be that because Hartford shot better from the field overall and from three point range. They also won the battle of the boards 44-39. But they shot 9-13 from the foul line while Quinnipiac was 19-24. It doesn't explain everything going wrong with the Hawks, but it certainly covers most of the final margin of victory.
Deanna Mayza led the team with 13 points while Shanise Bultron had 10 points and 7 boards.
I'll be seeing the team play at Boston College this afternoon so hopefully I will gather some in person insight into exactly what is going wrong with their season.
Missouri State - Things are spiraling downward for the Lady Bears as well. Their loss to #7 Louisville wasn't entirely unexpected but I don't think 91-49 as the final score was what anyone was hoping for. Kenzie Williams had 13 points to lead the team in scoring while Tyonna Snow added 12 points. Desiree Phillips (pictured below) finished with a career high 11 points.
Next came Eastern Kentucky and despite playing a much closer game, the Lady Bears lost 65-61, dropping their record to 1-6. Tyonna Snow led the team with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals. Williams added 18 points and Bry Snow scored 11 points to go with 7 rebounds.
I'm not real familiar with the team's in their conference but at 1-6 before conference play, things don't look good so far in the first season under coach Kellie Harper.
I split my two leagues this past week. Thus far I'm 7-6 in both. While one team is still in the regular season, the other league is headed to playoffs this week. I qualified for that despite being in 5th place overall.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
I'm still trying to juggle around the various schedules for the girls basketball teams with ex-players of mine on their rosters. Hopefully I'll get it all straightened out soon.
In the meantime, the area paper announced their selections for the 2013 Girls Volleyball All-Star team. My former player Erica got an Honorable Mention.
The cool thing about that was she didn't know. So when I sent her a congratulatory message, she was very surprised. Of course, the paper did screw things up by leaving the "a" off her first name so it looked like ERIC had gotten the mention.
That's the feel good portion of this section. Now let's get on to the stupid teenagers part.
Have you ever heard of the hand gesture "the shocker"? No? Well, don't feel bad, neither had I. But apparently it is the latest "fad" all the kids are doing these days. I had to look up what the gesture meant. It turns out I knew what it was but under a different name. (If you look it up, be aware that it is a NSFW possibility.)
Three female high school players in Illinois got suspended after they made the hand gesture in their team photos. And the story took off from there...you gotta love social media, NOT.
Anyway, the thing that I have to wonder is why ANY female would be making this gesture as it really isn't all that complimentary towards a woman. I know that I'm a getting older every day guy and the mind of a teenage girl is something that I don't and don't want to fully understand but seriously, who thinks this is something worth doing?
Longtime readers of Sports Illustrated will remember the name Dr. Z. I'm sure. Paul Zimmerman was one of the premiere pro football writers for the magazine for a long time. But a series of strokes have effectively silenced him. This week, there was a nice thank you kind of article by SI.com writer Doug Farrar about Zimmerman. You can check it out here: http://nfl.si.com/2013/11/29/thank-you-dr-z-yours-truly-everybody/
Men's Hockey - The Eagles got back on the winning side of things when they took the first of a home and home series against New Hampshire 6-2. They ended up with a sweep of the two game set by knocking off UNH 2-1 last night.
Women's Hockey - Before heading off to a month long break, the women's hockey team faced off against Harvard on Saturday night. They skated to a 1-1 tie.
Football - While the team now sits and waits to see what bowl game they will be heading off to, the chances of Andre Williams winning the Heisman took an even bigger hit when Florida State QB Jameis Winston wasn't charge in that rape case he was mixed up in. Something seems fundamentally off when the fact you were EVER mixed up in a rape case doesn't disqualify you from winning the top award in college football, but I acknowledge that my opinion means absolutely nothing here.
As for seasonal awards, the Eagles were well represented when the All-ACC teams were announced this week. Williams, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and kicker Nate Freese made the 1st team. Tackle Matt Patchan made the 2nd team. Wide Receiver Alex Amidon, tackle Ian White, center Andy Gallick, defensive end Kasim Edebali and linebacker Steele Divitto all made the third team.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles got blown out by Purdue this week 88-67. The two teams were tied at 20 before the Boilermakers went on a 21-5 run that put the game firmly in their control. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) had 16 points while Olivier Hanlan had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Alex Dragicevich finished with 13 points as the Eagles fell to 3-5.
They face USC tonight.
Women's Basketball - The women's team had an early lead in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Wisconsin but didn't have nearly enough to hold off the Badgers and lost 74-59. Katie Zenevitch led the team with 17 points and 10 boards while Kristen Doherty scored 14 points and grabbed nine boards. Nicole Boudreau added 14 points.
I'll be seeing the team square off against Hartford this afternoon as my ticket finally arrived in the mail on Thursday. I'm hoping that they'll get the win and that I'll be able to talk more in depth about both teams in next week's column.
TV - Just a note that last week's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead was FANTASTIC.
Books - I finished the most recent Janet Evanovich paperback Notorious Nineteen this week. It is the latest in her Stephanie Plum series. The book was entertaining enough and had a couple of really laugh out loud sections, but I don't think I really enjoyed it as much as past installments.
I picked up two new novels this week as well. The first was the Star Trek tie in novel The Fall #4 - The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow. The second book is a thriller called Pursuit and it is written by author (and Academy Award winning actor) Gene Hackman.
Movies - I watched Red 2 on Friday night via PPV. I loved the original comic series the two movies have been based upon. But the films have almost nothing to do with the comic book's plot. I didn't really like the first movie but the second one seemed like it was going to be better. It really wasn't. If you watched the first movie, you can see the second one a single time and then never have to watch it again. It isn't necessarily bad, just kind of watch and forget it.
Music - If you read last weeks's column, you saw my review of the Benedictum CD Obey. Well, the follow up to that review is kind of interesting. I sent the link to the band's Facebook page and actually got a thank you message back from the singer. She also sent me a friend request from her own personal FB account. Guess she liked the review.
Gobble, gobble, Gabbers. Less than a week until Thanksgiving! That means Black Friday is the day next. Black Friday, of course, is the insane kick-off to Christmas shopping. Although, I’ve actually never gone shopping that day, online or offline among the masses of humanity (Pay for stuff, yes. Shop, no.) Kind of a strange dichotomy of giving thanks one day and watching the morning news the next and watching shoppers fighting in Wal-Mart to buy marked down, cheap, manufactured in China merchandise. No thanks, I’d pass even if I was able to take the day off.
I think the warm and fuzzy feelings and with Thanksgiving coming up has me distracted from writing about “real sports” and just thinking about sports and the role it plays in who we are and as a part of how we got to be where we are. I grew up a sports fanatic, I was the first boy and child number ten, so I think my Dad had some pent up sport to pass on to his namesake.
I had nine older sisters who hated that I could stay up on school nights and watch the Red Sox while they had to go to bed. I remember that my Dad still made sure I did not “waste my life in front of the boob tube”. Bengals-Chargers AFC Championship (1981-ish) I was relegated to the cold and snow outside against my wishes. I remember my Dad hand-writing score updates and hanging it in the window for me.
Later, the Boston College-U of Miami classic game with Doug Flutie and the Hail Mary pass saw me outside playing basketball in the driveway. I remember going in finally to see Miami take the lead and then the hail mary pass. I’ve only missed one half of the Super Bowl and it was 83 with the Redskins vs Raiders. My brother was taunting me at halftime as the ‘skins imploded and I took out my frustrations on his face with my fists and earned myself the rest of the game in my room with no TV.
I remember getting the Baseball Encyclopedia at age six for Christmas and it became my constant companion and I spent far, far too much time with it. I got a membership to SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) at 13 for my birthday (Nerd alert!).
I was lucky to have a younger brother and a family of sixteen across the street with four boys within three years of my age. We played every sport, every day until the street lights came on. Every day in the summer was wiffleball, football, basketball, street hockey, soccer, playing catch, practicing rundowns (or “pickle” as we called it), riding bikes, building “spaceships” and anything else. We’d play lawn darts, lawn tennis (not well), when cable TV and ESPN came to town, we started playing Australian Rules Football in the yard.
I was never the best athlete, nor the biggest most athletic kid (I didn’t hit a growth spurt until I was 17), and I played Little League baseball and other organized baseball through high school. Afterwards, I played fast-pitch softball for years with those same kids from across the street. My mother always insisted she wouldn’t let me play football, and I never did. By high school I had church-league basketball and my friends all ran cross-country in the fall and brought me along.
I always wanted to play football, but in retrospect I was slight of frame to say the least. In addition, I had migraine headaches for years (all concussion related from various sports injuries). In retrospect, it probably saved me from serious injury afterall, so I understand now where she came from. I was in karate through college when the instructor I was with for ten years closed up and I was far too busy being young, stupid, commuting to the city, and wooing and keeping the lovely Mrs. B (she’s way too good for me--as my friends like to remind me--so I make sure I keep the lovely lady feeling appreciated).
So that’s kind of how I ended up here in a nutshell. As far as my sports related stuff right now, on a personal level I’m excited and thankful to have very recently picked up some non-writing sports-related “work”. One of the sites I write for has started a Monday night Internet radio show “NFL Shotgun” and I’m on with the host talking Monday Night Football and the NFL games earlier in the week. It’s found here each Monday night at 9PM: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sportsbar1
Hardly glamorous, high-paying work, but its fun to do and it looks good on the old resume. At my real job (the non-sports one that pays the bills--aka more than any miniscule amounts I get for any writing), I finally got some regular refresher training and policy stuff, so since I thought it up, I got elected to do the presentations. I don’t mind: I did work search, interviewing, resume-writing workshops for years before joining government work, so training and public speaking are skills I like to use. After the internet radio show, the podcast, and three days of training, I feel like I’ve talked more in a week than I did the last month! :)
On deck, I have another Cover32.com articles going up this morning and tomorrow I’ll have a Cleveland Browns preview for FirstStopFantasy.com. Somedays I sit here, wondering how I ended up with so many writing commitments...but realize this is what I love, where my passion is, what I want to do. What’s funny to me was that I had given up not that long ago. There was blogging once in a while, but I had burnt out. A long gap was there without any writing. Finally, I made the decision that what I wanted to be doing was writing about sports, and sitting and doing nothing was not where I wanted to be.
Not more than about a year and a half ago, I decided if this was what I wanted, I needed to approach it with a plan. I had the time, at long last, to spend writing if I wanted. The kids were approaching pre-teen and not toddlers anymore; my work situation no longer had me commuting almost three hours a day; my wife was and remained my staunchest supporter and motivator; I went back with a renewed passion and started writing on my own blog and looking for ways to grow. I was cross-posting over at our friends, t-s-b-n.com/, took the plunge and got on Twitter, stopped being an online hermit (kind of!).
Now, I have writing commitments almost everyday, and I love it. I’m never going to get rich or write for a major market newspaper, but I don’t care. I’ve met great people, great fans, great writers, and more. I love waking up and thinking about writing...thinking about sports...thinking about what I can say and that people will read, react, and respond.
I don’t know why I’m babbling and writing about this now, but thanks for reading (if you made it all the way down here). I appreciate it, and love being part of the YouGab community...check out my Friday co-hort DVT over here------> (speaking of great writing, he had a fantastic piece of writing last Friday as well that was another great example of sports and personal connections in the "real" world where we labor) and I'm sure he is his usual smart, funny, and entertaining self here as well) have a great weekend all and happy Thanksgiving next week if I don’t catch up with you here in the comments during the week!
Should we let them live or wrap them safely in bubble wrap?
Our society with its law suit happy demeanor has taken child safety to a level exceeding common sense. I agree strongly with keeping perverts way away from our kids and I think child safety seats in cars are a great idea.I strongly approve of new and better equipment for football and hockey.
It’s a shame that it’s gotten to this but I believe armed guards at schools to stop would be killers is a necessity. That being said I also think that some have gone overboard in restricting participation in contact sports and trying to protect our kids from life’s perils. It’s every parents dream for their child to grow up un scared to adulthood.
We want little Susie to grow up beautiful, meet Mr Right, a doctor of course, very comfortable and loving, rich in a nice neighborhood with 2.3 perfect children and all is good and safe, happily ever after.
The dream seldom gets even close to reality.
I believe it’s more important for my kids to be good neighbors than it is for them live in a good neighborhood.
Why am I going here today?
Why am I giving you a glimpse into my personal life?
This has been on my mind after listening to a local talk show talk about the dangers of life and how we should isolate our children from these horrible things…things like full contact youth football…
There has been a lot of talk about taking contact out of youth football until kids reach the high school level, I strongly disagree with this. My boys all played youth football for a number of years and as a parent who also coached I can tell you first hand that it’s a safe sport. The lack of size and speed along with the fact that they are for the most part teamed with kids there own size and age makes it so.
Bumps and bruises are not injuries…but they are part of life. I'm aware that a brain injury is no joke, concussions are at the forefront of sports safety as they should be. I know there are some idiots out there that shouldn’t be coaching but for the most part the kids are well prepared and well coached with safety first in mind.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was different to be sure. I ran and played, rode my bike and went sledding down dead mans hill into the tree line and across the pond every winter. We played baseball and tackle football in the field behind the house without any equipment. We played baseball without batting helmets etc. We fought and wrestled and roughed it up every day. We drove our “woods rods” in a very dangerous game of woods tag without seatbelts, something I don’t want my kids to tell me about if they did it.
I played every sport available as a youth and as a young man. I learned that there was a thrill of victory and an agony of defeat.
Back then we kept score and only the first place team got a trophy. I loved competition and I loved working out, trying to compete and trying to get better.
My wife and I are very different, I loved sports and she was very competitive academically and musically… I was on the field and she was in the marching band. (different schools and years apart…cradle robber ya know! )
With our kids we agreed that trying to shelter them from the dangers of living and risk of injury would be taking away from the competitive experience of growing up.
I thought that would be called old school parenting...but
My inlaws thought we were nuts
We agree that kids should be allowed to live the adventure. I have five kids, current ages 21, 23, 25, 32, and 33. four sons and a daughter all healthy and I would say, fairly well adjusted to life. They all suffered the growing pains of injury but each has been injured and scared by love’s disappointment and heartache much more than sports of physical activities.
Although none of my kids earned athletic scholarships, three of them did earn academic scholarships. All of them play at least one musical instrument.
They can all handle themselves in a crisis because reluctance and fear were not drilled into them as they grew to adulthood.
Briefly here are their sports and injury history
My oldest son played Pop Warner football from age 8 on and played high school football, track and baseball. He suffered a separated shoulder at age 12 playing football and missed ½ a season. He suffered a torn ACL playing flag football at the age of 31.
Number two son played 5 years of Pop Warner foot ball, soccer, basketball and high school football, his only injuries… a torn meniscus suffered in a pick up basketball game and a concussion suffered playing slow pitch softball in a church league.
Number three son played 5 years of Pop Warner football, baseball from age 8 thru his freshman year of D-3 college, basketball from middle school thru high school. He suffered a broken nose at age 14 playing basketball in a Saturday rec league game and several broken fingers playing baseball. He is a snow boarder and avid rock climber and outdoor adventurer.
My daughter was deeply involved in horseback riding from age 8 to 20, she worked at an active horse farm. She wrestled varsity for four years in high school and then for another year after HS, she was the MA State woman’s freestyle wrestling champion for the year of 2009 at 160 lbs weight class, at the time she weighed 125 lbs. She fought MMA before joining the US Marine Corp. Her only injuries other than scrapes and bruises from riding horses have been a concussion fighting MMA and a torn rotator cuff in Marine Combat Training.
My number four son played 5 years of pop Warner football, 3 years of high school basket ball and baseball from the time he was seven as well as 4 years of track and field where he thru the javelin. His only injury was a torn knee meniscus playing basket ball at age 14. He is an avid hunter. He rides a classic 1988 Harley Sportster. He does off road mudding in his jeep YJ.
I never said to them “you can’t because it’s too dangerous” Our rules were play safe and always exercise good judgment and sportsmanship. They climbed trees. As a family we went camping and they learned how to make a fire, how to swim, how to cross a fast moving stream, how to save a life, how to build a shelter, how to survive in the wilderness, how to fish, what berries they could eat, how to approach (or not) a wild animal. They all know how to cook. They all have experience with guns; they all know how to operate power tools.
And we allowed them to eat bacon.
Every parent has to make their own choice with their children’s safety and risk. We had rules, strict ones at that. My kids learned respect for others, especially elders. They learned love of God and country and the importance of family and friends.
I’m just bragging now, I’m very proud of all of them. They all have their flaws…that couldn’t be helped with the harry gene pool…
So let the kids be kids, let them play sports, let them grow up with the knowledge that life doesn't pamper and protect you. Life can be hard, painful and disappointing and these things will help teach you how to persevere through a lifetime of both joys and trials.
but I truly believe all of my kids are thankful that we never put them in bubble wrap.
It's funny how a week changes things isn't it? Last Sunday morning, I woke up still jazzed up over the Celtics beating the Heat at the buzzer on Saturday night. This Sunday morning I woke up with kind of a pit in my stomach over the now once again reduced fortunes of the Green.
The Celtics continued their winning ways earlier this week. They ran off a 120-105 win over Orlando for their fourth straight win (and second in just a few days over the Magic). Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Crawford had 16 points apiece to lead the Celtics.
But something happened on the way to the Celtics becoming surprising world-beaters. They completely imploded in their next three games. The players themselves admitted that they didn't get "up" for the game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Judging by the lazy way they lost 89-83, you won't find anyone that will argue with their collective statement.
On Friday night, the Portland Trailblazers came to Boston and left with a 109-96 victory, their first in Boston since 2004. Jared Sullinger had a big game with 26 points and 8 boards.
But things got really bad in last night's matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Celtics suffered their worst defeat of the season with the 106-88 loss and "watched" as three players for the T-Wolves put up at least 20 points in the game (amongst a total of 5 players in double figures for Minnesota).
Jeff Green was his maddeningly inconsistent self, finishing with just 2 points (foul shots) on the night. Consistency seems to be a word that just cannot make its way into his basketball vocabulary.
It was Avery Bradley's 27 points that led the offense for Boston. Brandon Bass added 15 points and 7 boards. Jordan Crawford had 10 points, but if he's to be taken seriously as a point guard, he's going to need to do a hell of a lot better than a 5 assist, 3 turnover line.
Vitor Faverani had a decent statistical night for the Celtics. He had 9 points, a game high 14 rebounds, three steals and 4 blocked shots. The yeoman like work he's putting in is the kind of thing I would think Celtics fans would really appreciate. But this is the first time I can remember writing anything about him after the opening game of the season, so he might need to develop some level of statistical consistency as well.
I forgot to mention the Mass Maritime game from last week. They beat Plymouth State 46-44. My ex-player E.J. caught 2 passes for 50 yards and a TD.
In their game today, the 35th Annual Cranberry Bowl, they lost to Bridgewater State 45-20. E.J. caught 6 passes for 90 yards. The loss closes out their regular season at 6-4.
E.J.'s final regular season numbers were 9 games, 60 catches for 849 yards and 10 TDs. The 60 catches breaks his own single season receptions record at the school.
It was a big day for the otherwise pathetic Kansas Jayhawks. They hosted West Virginia and came away with a 31-19 win that I'd wager to guess stunned even themselves. James Sims (pictured below) ran for 211 yards and 3 TDs as Kansas picked up just their 2nd Big 12 victory in 40 games. The fans actually rushed the field and tore down one of the goal posts in celebration.
Of course, this also demonstrates how far Kansas has fallen. A win over a 4-7 team that raises your own record to 3-7 and you storm the field? Talk about desperate and lacking any sense of perspective.
For cryin' out loud, they even doused head coach Charlie Weis! The guy they usually want to run out of town just for breathing, never mind running a losing program, and a win over an awful Mountaineer team gets him an unscheduled bath?
What the heck is going on at Duke? When anyone says the path to the ACC championship runs through Duke, they are generally referring to the men's basketball team. But the hoopsters aren't alone in that category this year. Not after their 48-30 upset trouncing of the Miami Hurricanes.
The Blue Devils are 8-2 on the season and nobody's pushover. The statistical oddity of this game is that while Duke tallied up 543 yards in total offense, they were actually outgained on the day by Miami. Duke's already a bowl eligible team, but if they keep playing like this, they could end up being a bowl WINNING team.
Florida sucks. Their is just no sugarcoating this fact after their 19-14 loss to South Carolina. Granted, the Gamecocks are ranked #11 in the country, but if Florida had any kind of offense, they would've been able to win this game. Instead, a relatively solid defensive effort from the Gators (they gave up 4 field goals and a touchdown) was wasted yet again. Florida is 4-5 and that much closer to sitting out the bowl season. Coach Will Muschamp's seat isn't just hot, it's got some napalm on it about to be set off.
#4 Baylor beat Texas Tech 63-34. The Bears continued run of video game like offense isn't that surprising since they've demonstrated all year that their opponents can't keep up with them. No, the interesting thing about this result is that it was the fourth straight loss for Texas Tech. They started off the year 7-0 and new coach Kliff Kingsbury was the toast of college football. But this month long losing streak is going to test the team and the coach severely. Which Texas Tech is the real one? The one that outpaced their competition the first seven games of the season, or the one that looks like the early part of the season was the honeymoon and reality has now set in?
Wow! Just Wow! The USC football program was in shambles when they fired Lane Kiffin. They hired Ed Orgeron as the interim coach to finish out the season before the school looked for a new coach.
The way the team has responded for Orgeron has been rather amazing. Limited by scholarship reductions and a continuing run of injuries to key players, you'd be hard pressed to blame the coach if the team had continued to stink. But after last night's 20-17 upset of #5 Stanford, the Trojans are 8-3 and have thus far salvaged what was looking like another pathetic season.
And despite flaming out in his first go-round as the head coach at Ole Miss, Orgeron's work with the team has had to put him in the mix to get this job on a permanent basis. The season isn't over yet and I'm not saying he should definitely get the job, but a serious interview has to be done after the season.
Alabama - I was watching something else last night, but during the commercial breaks I checked in on the Alabama game versus Mississippi State. I was happy to see the Tide pick up the 20-7 victory but it was by no means a sure thing. Despite now being 4-6 on the season, the Bulldogs gave Bama all they could handle.
Alabama played sloppy football throughout the game (it showed from what I saw) and the defense for Mississippi State forced them into a season high four turnovers. A.J. McCarron got picked off twice (the second of which you could see coming the whole way) and the combo of RBs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake fumbled the ball away once each.
If the Bulldogs had been able to mount an offense (their starting QB was out injured and his replacement left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury), the final score would've been a lot different.
Instead, on a night where the offense stunk for Bama, their defense save their butts allowing just 197 yards of total offense (including just 53 rushing yards). They had just two sacks and an interception (by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and missed out on recovering four fumbles by the Bulldogs, but when it came time to force punts our four and out series, the Tide defense did the job.
McCarron did throw for two TDs but he was uncharacteristically pedestrian for most of the game that I saw. He looked out of sorts, and that second pick he threw was just awful. T.J. Yeldon ran for 160 yards but never found the end zone.
You know your offense had an off to bad night when the punter is the only guy on the team you can say was outstanding. Cody Mandell had four punts on the night and averaged 55 yards a kick. If you add in Cade Foster (pictured below) kicking 2 field goals and 2 PATs, this might be the week where kickers are appreciated instead of considered afterthoughts.
The Patriots were on a bye last week so I kind of took the weekend off from pro football. I checked out the scores but only saw highlights instead of complete game action. With the Patriots off until the Monday night game against Carolina, I might just do it again.
But the most interesting NFL related story comes from an off the field criminal trial against former Chicago Bears player Sam Hurd. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for being a key figure in a drug smuggling/distribution ring. You can check out an in depth story about the case over on SI.com: http://mmqb.si.com/2013/11/12/sam-hurd-cocaine-bust/
I was back to uniform mediocrity last week. I split the two leagues I'm a part of.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
ORR - The undefeated season for the Bulldogs came to an end as they lost to the Abington High Green Wave 47-20 to end their playoff run. My ex-player Richie (pictured below) and the rest of the running game was essentially shut down by a stout defense. He had 13 carries for just 24 yards. ORR will have their Thanksgiving Day game left to finish out their season.
Wareham - The Vikings trailed 42-0 at halftime to Middleboro and went on to lose 49-0. The season of awfulness will come to an end with their Thanksgiving Day game against arch-rival Bourne.
Volleyball - Two state championships were held yesterday that had a passing interest for me. In Division 1, the Barnstable girls won their fourth straight championship. How good is the Barnstable program?
They finished the season undefeated at 23-0. As I said, it was their fourth title in a row. But they've won 10 out of the last 11 state titles and 16 titles overall. The coach, Tom Turco, has been the one to build the program and guide it to each of the titles.
It is for lack of a better word, a dynasty program.
The team celebrates after the final point:
The thrill of victory:
Here's a look at the team after the win:
In Division 3, the Fairhaven Blue Devils girls volleyball team squared off against Frontier Regional. I'd seen them play once this year when I went to a Wareham girls volleyball match. The team is one of the best in the region.
The Blue Devils have won the last four South Sectional tournaments and this was their 2nd appearance in the state title game in four years. Unfortunately, they came away with another loss in the final, falling 3-1.
The team will likely remain a power in the region, but losing 7 players to graduation won't make things easier. Sadly, the Fairhaven girls come away embodying the agony of defeat on this day:
Tennessee Lady Vols - The Lady Vols knocked off North Carolina 81-65 early in the week. Ariel Massengale (pictured below) led Tennessee with a career high 20 points and 6 rebounds.
After getting upset by Chattanooga last year, the Lady Vols spent the first half of this year's matchup trying to get away from their opponents. But it was tied at the half.
However, the jets got turned on in the second half and the Lady Vols ran away with an 80-56 victory. Massengale had 16 points and 5 assists while Mercedes Russell (pictured below) added 15 points.
Hartford - The Hawks shook off the beating they took last week from UConn and beat Loyola 59-53 for their first win of the season (1-1). This despite shooting just 28% from the floor. But the seven threes and 24 out of 30 foul shots helped Hartford hold things together long enough. Freshman Deanna Mayza scored 20 points to lead the team. Amber Bepko added 13 points and 6 rebounds. Alyssa Reaves had 12 rebounds and Cherelle Moore finished with 10 points.
Missouri State - The Lady Bears era under coach Kellie Harper began this past Monday with an opening 79-61 loss to Arkansas State. Kenzie Williams (pictured below) scored 21 points and grabbed 7 boards to lead MSU.
The team rebounded to beat Arkansas-Little Rock 72-68. They had a 19 point lead but had to withstand a 16-0 run before finally putting the game away. Kenzie Williams had a career high 24 points and Bry Snow added a career high 17 points.
BOSTON COLLEGE NOTEBOOK
Men's Soccer - The team lost to #4 Maryland in the ACC quarters. They are 7-9-2 for the year.
Women's Soccer - In the first round of the NCAA tournament, the BC women beat Northeastern 2-0 and will play Nebraska in a second round matchup on November 22nd. BC is 11-9-1 thus far.
Men's Hockey - On Friday night, the Eagles skated to a 2-2 tie with UMass and they are currently 7-2-2 on the season.
Women's Hockey - A 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac dropped the #5 BC team to 7-3 on the season.
Field Hockey - The BC women played UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament yesterday 2-1 in overtime. They finished the season at 12-8.
Women's Volleyball - The Eagles beat Maryland on Friday night 3-0 for their first ACC win of the season. They are 9-18, 1-14 ACC on the season.
Men's Basketball - The defense of the Eagles is awful. The team is 0-3 on the season after two more losses this week. These are games they can't afford to lose when you play in a tough conference like the ACC.
First up was an 86-73 loss to UMass. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) had 22 points and 7 boards to lead the team's offense. Olivier Hanlan added 19 points and Patrick Heckmann had 11 points.
A telling statistic about the game was that the Eagles had just 7 rebounds in the second half of the game.
Despite leading by 8 at halftime, the Eagles gave up a 14-2 run late in the game and watched as Toledo came into Conte Forum and left with a 95-92 win.
Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) had 18 points and 6 assists, while both Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon added 15 points.
The Eagles have the offense down, but their failures to stop the other teams is going to kill them if they don't pick it up defensively.
Women's Basketball - The women's team went on the road to New York and beat Hofstra 83-60 to even their record at 1-1. Kelly Hughes (pictured below) scored 19 points and had 8 rebounds to lead the Eagles.
BC got out rebounded 52-44 in the game but in the end that didn't matter. Lauren Engeln had 14 points while Nicole Boudreau added 10 points. Katie Zenevitch had 10 points and 7 boards.
It was a homecoming of sorts for BC's Kristen Doherty and she had a 10 points, 8 rebound, 5 steal performance in front of a crowd that included a lot of her friends and family.
You can see the brief post game press conference from coach Erik Johnson below.
The team went on the road last night to face BYU and ended up losing in overtime 70-69. Nicole Boudreau had a 23 points (5-6 from three point range) and 7 rebounds to lead the Eagles. Kristen Doherty had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals. BC also got 11 points from Kelly Hughes and 10 from Lauren Engeln.
But they had no answer for BYU's 6 foot 7 center Jennifer Hamson, who finished with a game high 28 points and 12 rebounds. She played a key role in the second half (16 points) push for BYU.
It didn't help that the Eagles got out rebounded in the game 52-41. They also couldn't capitalize on the fact that BYU missed 10 out of 26 foul shots.
You can see the quick wrap up with coach Johnson below.
Doherty on the foul line:
Rallying the players:
Football - If you look at the stat line for BC quarterback Chase Rettig, you'd have to wonder just how bad the Eagles had been beaten by North Carolina State. He was 8-15 for 53 yards. That is just a pathetic statline no matter how you look at it.
But thanks to an amazing day on the ground, Boston College ran away from the Wolfpack and won the game 38-21.
The ground game churned their way through the NC State offense for 420 yards. Andre Williams (pictured below) ran 42 times for 339 yards and 2 TDs. Of course, he fumbled twice (losing one) so ball security is an issue that has to be addressed. But his final game at Alumni Stadium was a sight to behold. He had over 100 yards in the first quarter alone. He set new school records for career rushing yards and single season rushing yards. Oh, and he broke his own single game rushing record (set just last week) as well.
Myles Willis also got into the rushing attack with 77 yards and a score.
Receiver Alex Amidon caught 5 of Rettig's 8 completions for 34 yards, but also had a 15 yard rushing TD.
The Eagles are 6-4 now and that means they are now bowl eligible. Not bad for the first season under coach Steve Addazio. And even better considering just how bad the team performed last year.
Andre Williams and the rest of the seniors were playing their last home game at Alumni Stadium yesterday and the team went out at home on a high. The fans going on the field in this game was both a celebration of the win and the turnaround this year. Unlike the Kansas game mentioned above, the fans were also invited by the school to come on the field after the game anyway. It was some promotional thing I saw on the team's website page.
The Eagles close out their regular season with two away games and one of the announcers on the game yesterday said that BC has a chance to actually end up with 8 wins on the season. I'm not counting on that prediction or anything (especially since one of their opponents is Maryland who pulled off a 27-24 win over a supposed to be better than them Virginia Tech yesterday) but for a talking head to say that about a team that couldn't find their own collective asses last year, even the chance at 8 wins is something to be ecstatic about.
TV - On Saturday November 23rd, the BBC will do a global simulcast of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Doctor Who Special "The Day of the Doctor". It will be on BBC America starting at 2:50 pm EST.
To further whet the appetite of Whovians everywhere, they released the prequel minisode the other day. It's called "The Night of the Doctor" and features a huge surprise return of...well I'll let you all figure it out.
In other TV news, I checked out one of the new Hallmark Channel Christmas movies last night. Yes, it is that time of year again. Hallmark is running holiday movies day and night from now until the end of the holiday season. I watched one called The Thanksgiving House a couple weeks ago, but it was preposterously stupid and a total wimp out cheat in the resolution.
But last night I watched the premiere of The Christmas Ornament and it was actually pretty decent. It starred Kellie Martin, who I've liked since her time on the show Life Goes On and LOVED on both ER and the Hallmark mystery movie series Mystery Woman. Also along for the ride, playing the best friend of Martin's character was Jewel Staite. And you can't go wrong in my book when you cast have someone from the Firefly TV show and the follow up movie Serenity in a role. Especially if it is one of the cast members that I've actually met!
Movies - I saw Thor: The Dark World last Sunday. I thought the first Thor movie was fine to see a single time but otherwise not really much of a movie. But this one was far more entertaining with a ton of action and an appropriate portion of humor thrown in as well.
Music - The official live video for the new Fates Warning song "I Am" has been released.
Meanwhile, a group of teenage music students covered the Tool song "46 and 2" and the video has been posted online. The singer is a 12 year old girl and the video is fantastic.
I've got a new review in the works. It is for the new Benedictum CD Obey. The album isn't due out until December 3rd, but I was forwarded the record company's download link to check out the disc for review.