Congratulations Canada for bringing home the marquee Gold in Sochi - I have to admit I watched exactly 15 minutes of Olympic coverage, including the opening ceremonies, but most of that time was watching the third period of the gold medal game.
Can you imagine a gold medal hockey game played on the roof of a hotel in Las Vegas? Maybe Vegas should bid on the next winter games. Hey, a minor league team that can build their own $4-Million rink? Go for it. I figure the Wranglers could schedule a game against the US Men’s team. Everyone wins that one.
I think the thing I have against the Olympics isn’t really about the games themselves, it’s about the American media coverage of the games. Every single olympiad is about medal count, like somehow amassing medals is the expression of dominance of the games. Sure the US won a total of 28 medals, fantastic. Of course the US sent the largest team to the games.
Sure, there is some data suggesting the size of the economy is predictive of winter olympic performance, but the other variables suggest that extraneous things such as, I don’t know, a country’s ski facilities play a role. Imagine - so if a country has more places to practice, they’re more likely to perform well. China’s relative lack of ski resorts is a better predictor of their performance than in their huge economy. The Jamaican bobsledders have no shot.
In terms of per capita Olympic performance, Finland is the most successful gold medalist, at least as of 2008, but it’s hard to imagine vastly different results. As of then, they had 101 gold medals, or just under 19 gold medals for every million people in population. The Bahamas with 5 gold medals places 4th. The US doesn’t even place. Nor does Russia. Finland is also the most successful medalist. The linked page above goes onto further analysis using 2012 numbers but crunches them using number of appearances as well. Guess what? The US still doesn’t place.
This is a pretty cool article on the idea of breaking it out by something other than total medals. A numbers geek could totally get off on the idea. A numbers geek that understands logarithms and whatnot. One caveat: they don’t include either chocolate or bacon medals in the analysis.
So, I don’t really pay attention to the Olympics. Doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile, just not for me. While everyone else was watching snowboarding on TV, we went and watched snowboarders at a couple of local ski areas. Certainly not world class facilities, but good enough for a fat, middle aged guy. To top it off, Yuengling has just come available in Massachusetts again, so while the kids did their thing on the snow, Dad did his thing in the lodge. Yuengling pulled out of Massachusetts at the same time I got back to Massachusetts from school in Pennsylvania. It’s been a long 20 years.
Spring training is getting going - thank goodness, because it’s been a long cold winter. While the Patriots sadly didn’t make it to the Super Bowl (I say sadly, but in reality I know what would have happened had they made it: something approximating what happened to Denver), they did bridge enough of the gap in the football to baseball off season for me. Mother nature decided over the past week that we just didn’t have enough snow - with significant accumulation in three days over the course of the week. As you read this, I’ll be en route to Sarasota - home of the Orioles spring training. Sadly though, the games don’t start for another week. I’m either late or I’m early.
Now, we all know the NFL is a 12-month business - that the playing season is the main attraction, but clearly there are things in motion all the time. You would think that with all of the controversy around brain injury, they would want to be promoting all the activities around making the game a little safer for the players - I mean really making it a subject of conversation. That would be leadership. What leaks from the league as the topic of conversation? On field use of racial slurs. Now, you will not hear me either use nor apologize for the use of slurs, but it seems to me to be a silly rule. In a league where the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport grades the league overall with a “B” - an “A” for overall racial hiring practices.
Look at this passage from their report: 9 of the last 14 Super Bowl teams have had either a head coach or GM of color. This is a league in which ⅔ of the players are people of color - meaning that if you’re on the field and you’re not black, the two dudes standing next to you are. Seems to me that in this environment, a game penalty for using a racial slur would be 1) penalizing a team for something unrelated to the game - a team of people who would likely be as offended as the person to whom it was directed and 2) legislating something that I guarantee you is handled off-field. Discussions on field are rarely fan-facing. Let’s leave it that way, shall we?
Last, before I sign off, I want to remember a friend going back to the days of The Sporting News. Greg “Team Carrier” passed away on February 13, a little less than a month after his 50th birthday. He was a hockey fan to his core, and a good man. I’m ashamed it took me almost a week and a half to learn of his passing - once more demonstrating that in a world where we’re so connected, it’s still so easy to lose touch. I encourage my fellow Gabbers to make some time to visit his obituary and to leave a guestbook message for Greg’s family. I don’t know that he ever made a home here at the Gab, but to those of us who have known him, it would be a nice gesture for his family. Greg has become the third member of our TSN fraternity to pass in the time since we left there. A biting remember time continues to advance. Make the most of yours.
The snows have came and gone and will return again. This winter has been harsh to say the least with sports hitting it’s mid winter blues. The NBA picked up again last night after the all-star break yawn. The NHL is still closed on an olympic break and the hockey has been good as the US will play Canada on Friday. TJ Oshe’s heroics on Saturday seems in the distant pass. I will say I shared a great father and son moment with lil Lanz as we had errands to do after his Hockey game Saturday. We sta in the car outside a local pharmacy and didn’t go in to do our errand until the shootout was over we were cheering and high fiving and just a good old time.
I asked a couple of dads from lil Lanzs Hockey Team who grew up in the next town over. How does a kid from that town win a gold medal in bobsledding. I mean there isn’t exactly a track or anything they use to have a hockey rink with an upstairs and a downstairs but that was long gone before these Olympians were born. I guess they spent a lot time sledding down the towns extremely hilly golf course . what the hell it’s a gold medal and a local kid got it.
I haven’t been fully invested in the Olympics tuning in to see some of the skiing and those track sports luge skelton which is luge upside down and bobsledding. The one that I thought was dumb is two man luge it looked obscene.One on top of another so how do you make the thing go straight one guys head goes right and the other left? Who comes up with this stuff?
Cake Boxes pretending their ballcaps of your favorite NBA and NHL teams
Seems like people are coming up stuff in sports all the time like snap back hats who thought these were a good idea a hat needs a carefully bent visor or it’s not worth wearing. How about fan cams ok yippee if you’re a kid it’s great if you’re a drunk 20 something you look dumb doing the yeah thing if your older tha that a simply wave does fine because your compelled to do it or get crap thrown at you.
Why are sports an epic event these days instead of a simple game? Why do we need to analyze and oveanaylze each play . How come the color man always points out the mistake instead of guy simply beating the other guy. For example a Dback getting beat by a receiver you’ll always hear he turned wrong or he let him behind him. We need to get back to simple with sports we oversaturated with games and events on social media on TV whatever happened to sitting there and watching the game with out your phone or tablet? Just some crazy stuff that annoys me If your looking at a tablet your not watching the game nor are you using your basic communication skills discussing the game were you have to listen to other persons opinion and not tell him he is an idiot / tag moron.
I guess I see a trend that people don’t make eye contact or talk anymore it’s easier to hide behind a cowardly tweet or a text. No voice inflictions no silence on the other end. I guess it’s just all a pet peave. I see it with my own kids.
Johnny Football wants to be a Texan not sure if he is a Billy O’Brien type guy. It’s more likely he doesn’t want to be a Brown. But Johnny is advocating his want to be a Texan.
Ryan Demster left 13.4 million dollars on the table not feeling the love forgoing out and pitching another year. He told the Red Sox he won’t be back this season due to a neck injury. All the TV stations in Boston have reporters at spring training there is nothing happening down their the pitchers are stretching, the catchers are stretching and David Ortiz is talking about his contract but that’s what he does. I have feeling the Red Sox will extend him a year. Which I really don’t agree with it’s time to walk away.
Lil Warrior Report
Laser is back skating went to practice Friday and Mondy but not cleared for contact at least he is skating. Lil lanz has played a bunch of hockey over the past week. They lost Saturday in a 4-3 game missing two of their better defenseman and a fast forward. They tied Saturday with 43 seconds left in the game for a 3-3 tie. Last night they won 4-2 Lil lanz timed a one timer perfectly the goalie got his shoulder in the way and saved it. The middle school team lost Saturday with a lot of kids missing that one was in a snowstorm. Tonight that team starts the playoffs if they win Lil lanz will play almost back to baack games Saturday enough time to getfrom one rink to the other.
Try as I might, I really can't work up much enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics. I'm not usually as much of a fan of the Winter Games as I am the Summer Games but with the utter debacle that is the news coming out of Sochi regarding how unprepared the city (resort town) is, you have to shake your head.
Stray dogs, unfinished rooms, rooms without the basic necessities like toilets that flush toilet paper, water that comes with a warning (as if the yellow color wasn't enough of one) to not put it on your face.
You have to wonder if the Russian leader Putin planned it this way so the world's press would be distracted by the "small" stuff and ignore the bigger stories about how much of a dictatorship Russia is back to being.
I'll be interested in how the Olympic hockey tourney goes, but I'm usually only interested in events that the US does well in. Yes, I'm a homer in that regard.
There were two bits of news this week regarding the WNBA. The first story was the Phoenix Mercury announcing a new uniform sponsor. They'd lost Lifelock and have now replaced them with Casino Arizona. You can see the home jersey below:
The bigger news revolved around the future of the Los Angeles Sparks. When the previous owners bailed out, it looked like the Sparks would most likely move to the San Francisco area after being bought by Joe Lacob, the owner of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.
But the Sparks will be staying in LA after the news broke that the investment group led by Magic Johnson and his partner in owning the LA Dodgers bought the team.
I joked on another forum that if this keeps up, Johnson might just buy the entire city of Los Angeles at some point. But this is a good move for the Sparks and the WNBA. Johnson and his partners have been pretty successful at their business moves and if they can make the Sparks into an even more viable entity, that can only improve the future for the league as a whole.
The news coming out of the Celtics this week is a three game winning streak. The record is now 18-33 after the wins and suddenly the Celtics look reasonably good again.
Yes I know the record stinks, but the entire Eastern Conference beyond the Heat and the Pacers stinks too so it isn't like the Celtics are completely out of the realm of possibility to make the playoffs...if they keep playing THIS way.
Things started off with a 96-89 win over the Orlando Magic. Jared Sullinger led the team with 21 points and 12 boards while Brandon Bass had 19 points and 9 boards.
The game also saw Rajon Rondo's first breakout game since his return from injury. He had 19 points, 10 assists and 10 boards.
Next up was a rematch against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston edged them out 114-108 as Jeff Green had another explosive offensive night with 36 points (and 8 boards). Sullinger added 19 points and 10 boards. Bass scored 18 and grabbed 6 boards. Rondo dished out 11 assists.
On Friday night, with Rondo given a DNP-CD to rest, you might've expected a different result but the Celtics got it done against the Sacramento Kings 99-89. Jared Sullinger (pictured below on defense) scored a career high 31 points and had 16 rebounds. Jerryd Bayless finished with 19 points including 4 three pointers. Green added 17 points and Kelly Olynyk hit for 11 points.
And while he'll be down the list of reasons why the Celtics won this game, Gerald Wallace played a really big role in the win. He had 8 points, 12 boards and 9 assists. That kind of stat line demonstrates why he is a "glue guy" kind of player.
You know he isn't happy coming off the bench in a reduced role but he does everything that's asked of him. When he was running off at the lip early in the season it was slightly annoying but say what you want about that, he's doing his job in a remarkably effective way.
Speaking of that, another player doing a great job in the role provided him is Chris Johnson. And the team rewarded that effort by guaranteeing his contract for the rest of the season. He had been on his 2nd 10 day contract with the Celtics and league rules say that you can only sign two of those deals with any one team before they have to pick you up for the year or let you go.
I think it is a smart move for the Celtics as it gives them another quality role player who fits in with the team quite well and works his tail off when on the court.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
You can check out the two high school basketball updates I did this week, including news on one of my ex-players hitting the 1,000 point mark via the following links:
And before I forget, here's the official team photo for the Upper Cape Girls varsity team.
WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Hartford - The Hawks split their two games this week. They won their 5th game in a row when they knocked off Stony Brook 61-48. Amber Bepko scored her season high of 19 points (to go with 7 boards. She was a perfect 10-10 at the foul line.
Morgan Lumb (pictured below) had a career high 17 points and was later named America East Rookie of the Week. Alyssa Reaves added 10 points.
The statistical oddity of this particular game was that Hartford won despite getting outrebounded 48-38.
The win streak ended on Friday night when Albany crushed the Hawks 90-68. While they played an even game in the second half, it was a 47-25 first half that killed Hartford's chances.
Morgan Lumb had 16 points to lead the team while Bepko scored 11 and Reaves finished with 10 points for the now 9-14 (6-4 AEC) Hawks.
Missouri State - Using their defense to force a season high 29 turnovers, the Bears crushed Southern Illinois earlier this week 76-58. This despite actually losing the battle of the boards 39-34.
Kenzie Williams had 12 points to lead the team. Bry Snow added 11 points and Hannah Wilkerson finished with 10 points. But it was a career night for Lexi Hughes who established 3 new career highs with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the game.
On Friday night, a thoroughly balanced attack led the team to a 66-41 win over Loyola. All 12 players scored in the game and none of them hit double figures. It was Williams who topped the scoring chart with 9 points.
The team is now 11-10 with a 6-4 conference record.
Tennessee - The Lady Vols had two wins this week and surprisingly enough the games were actually relatively close affairs.
They beat Alabama 64-54. They were down in the game by as many as 15 points. But a career high 20 points to go with 11 boards from Cierra Burdick (pictured below) helped mount the successful comeback. Burdick went on to be named SEC player of the week. Isabelle Harrison had a double double with 11 points and 11 boards.
In what was the 100th win that Lady Vol player Meighan Simmons has been involved with during her time at Tennessee, the Lady Vols beat Ole Miss 77-65 for their 5th straight win and a 19-4 (8-2 SEC) record. Simmons had 20 points in the game. Harrison scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Burdick added 12 points, 8 boards and 5 assists.
BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Women - The week started out bad for the women's team as they dropped yet another game they should've won. The 70-63 overtime loss to Virginia Tech was particularly galling since they had beaten them earlier in the season.
Worse yet was that BC was winning by 5 at halftime. Kelly Hughes continued her sensational freshman year with 22 points and Katie Zenevitch added 15 points and 9 boards (5 turnovers out of the team's 17 total TO's though).
What killed them in this game was the disastrous first three minutes of the overtime period. They turned the ball over 6 times in that time frame and managed just 1 point for the entire OT.
As demonstrated, that will simply not get things done.
The weekly press conference with coach Erik Johnson is below.
With BC heading in the downward direction and Virginia looking as though they were on a move up, you would be forgiven if you though their game on Thursday would be a Cavalier undertaking.
But after being down by 9 points at halftime and 15 points with 11:05 remaining, the Eagles used a 19-2 run to not only get back into the game but take it over down the stretch. That big run was keyed by 7 points from Kelly Hughes (pictured below 1st) and 6 points from Karima Gabriel.
Those 6 points were the only points that came from the BC bench. The starters provided the rest of the offense and that was with Kristen Doherty out of action for the game with an injury.
A key to the game in the second half was the Eagles committing only 4 turnovers in the half. Shooting 10-23 for the game from three point range didn't hurt either.
Hughes finished with a career high tying 23 points. Nicole Boudreau (pictured below 2nd) had 13 points and 5 assists while Kat Cooper (pictured below 3rd) scored 12 points. You can also check out highlights of the game in the video below.
Men - The men's game against Virginia was on TV the other night and I watched some of it. But they were getting hammered early. They went on to lose by "only" 10 points, 77-67, but with Duke coming to town Saturday night, they could've used a win over a slightly lesser light in the ACC. Ryan Anderson had 20 points and 7 boards to lead the Eagles with Olivier Hanlan (14 points) and Lonnie Jackson (12 points) also contributing.
As for the Duke game, the Eagles played the Blue Devils surprisingly close in the first half. They were down just 4 points at the break.
But an 18-0 run in the second half by Duke killed any chance for the Eagles (6-17, 2-8) to pull off what would've been a tremendous upset.
Olivier Hanlan scored 25 points to lead BC. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) added 12 points and Joe Rahon hit for 11 points.
Duke's Jabari Parker put on quite a show in front of the Boston crowd which included Celtics GM Danny Ainge. He finished with 29 points and 16 boards.
THE SUPER BOWL
Well, if you weren't a Seahawks fan, that was one crappy championship game I'd say. I was totally wrong on my score prediction last week. Thankfully I didn't actually watch the game as the ass-kicking was on pretty much from the opening kickoff.
Denver looked completely unprepared for Seattle in every respect.
For those that don't pay attention, the Seahawks win is not the city's first major championship since 1979. The WNBA's Seattle Storm won titles in 2004 and 2010. Call it lazy reporting by every single media outlet you can think of.
Movies - I'm probably going to see a movie at some point today but I have no idea what that might be. The new George Clooney movie The Monuments Men looks interesting but I don't know if I want to see that in the theater or just wait for the film to come out on PPV/DVD.
As many people know, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died this week. I know some think it is crazy to see so many people that didn't actually know him be upset about his death and generally I agree with that viewpoint. But I did like some of the movies he appeared in and that is what I'll miss about him.
It also doesn't lessen my disgust with him over his drug use that led to his death. Particularly since it leaves his three children without a father.
TV - During the Super Bowl, Fox ran some promos for the return of the TV series 24. The 12 episode "event" series Live Another Day starts May 5th and I'm eagerly awaiting the return of Jack Bauer.
You can check out one of the quickie promos below.
And don't forget that tonight is the return of The Walking Dead on AMC. And for those so inclined towards comic books, the Kevin Smith show Comic Book Men returns later in the evening as well.
Funny thing about that show is how bad it makes us comic book fans look but much like a roadside car accident I can't stop watching it.
Comic Books - I somehow missed that one of my current favorite comic writers, Brian Wood, had a series prior to when I started reading his work (Conan, Star Wars, The Massive). It is called DMZ and it set during the second Civil War and the location is New York City. Obviously there is more to the story but I picked up the first trade collection yesterday (the entire series is collected in 12 trade paperbacks) and if this story is anything like his outstanding work on the three titles I mentioned above, I might just have a new series to add to my collection.
Happy Friday from another snow-fatigued part of the country.
Add Super Bowl fatigue to that as well as I have had my fill of Peyton Manning’s legacy talk. I applaud the Seahawks for a great defensive effort, but mourn that my days of mocking Pete Carroll are likely at an end as he gets fitted for the championship ring. Jacksonville fans, that was Gus Bradley’s defense kicking Denver’s rear-end, so hold out hope for the future in North Florida.
I have Olympics overload already, and the opening ceremonies are just ready to kick off. I enjoy the hockey (like I enjoy the soccer in the summer games), but beyond that I just cannot work up the enthusiasm. I don’t snowboard or ski, am not a big ice skater, and the bobsled, curling, and luge are not my cup of tea. I could care less about speed skating and all the other junk. I am sure it will be on (figure skating for the ladies, extreme sports for the boy) but I want nothing but hockey.
No One Finer than Kiner:
Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner passed away at 91. One of the greatest power hitters of the 1940s, Kiner was a candle who burnt out quickly with an only decade long career, but he slammed a ton of home runs in his early days. In his first five seasons he hit 205 home runs, still an MLB record (Albert Pujols second with 201). I remember Kiner as the Mets announcer on the cable network when I was teenager with his “Kiner’s Korner” feature and his in-game rambling stories.
Mocking the Mocks:
I love reading Mock NFL Drafts, but it is way too early to get into that now, especially with the draft pushed back to May starting this year. That said, I just cannot see Billy O’Brien in Houston taking an undersized, undisciplined in the pocket gunslinger like Johnny Football with the number one overall pick in the draft, no matter what Mel “the hair” Kiper Jr. says on his current mock draft.
I really have to wonder what happens in Denver with the Broncos next year. Wide receiver Eric Decker is a free agent, Wes Welker could be a cap casualty, and the defense is still going to need help for linebacker Von Miller. Super Bowl losers don’t usually do well the next season and Manning will be a year older (if he returns). Denver did a good job overcoming some injuries and bad luck, but this team seemed built for an all-or-nothing run, and with the loss in the big game, the question becomes: what now?
Spring training is around the corner and free agents start finding homes in a rush. Closer Fernando Rodney landed in Seattle while reclamation project reliever Carlos Marmol landed in Miami. It goes to show that a fastball is all you really need. There are still a lot of quality pitchers out on the market as starting pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Jon Garland, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez are still on the market along with relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Ryan Madson. Add in DH/1B Kendry Morales, OF Nelson Cruz, and SS Stephen Drew and there are still some players available for teams that want to get better in a hurry for players available under their value.
CUTS LIKE A KNIFE:
My Friday Patriots article at Cover32.com that will be posted later today looks at who could be cut loose. I threw out names like defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, guard Logan Mankins, and safety Steve Gregory. But it got me thinking about other teams around the NFL.
The Bears have Julius Peppers at age 34 with an $18 million cap hit. Yeah, bye-bye.
Sidney Rice in Seattle? They won a Super Bowl without you, Sid. $8 million freed up? Bye.
Like the Jets. They finished .500 without Mark Sanchez at QB and with Santonio Holmes out most of the season. Those two bozos eat up 25% of the Jets cap space. No way they both come back for those amounts. Most reports have them both released asap to free up $16 million in cap space.
Tennessee has Chris Johnson on the books for $10 million. Denver has aging cornerback Champ Bailey on the books for $10 million as well. Johnson is a maybe, but Denver kept Bailey rather than releasing him and keeping defensive end/outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil when they screwed up his contract.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford is on the books for $14 million in base salary. When will the Rams give up? How about DeMarcus Ware in Dallas? He’s at $16 million this year. That is a lot to deal with.
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OK, that’s all for today. Have a great Friday, all!