While happy to at least pretend Lebron's cramped legs is not the lead news story of the week...
SUMMER SPORTS PLANS
Now that we've become fully engaged in the month of June, I was trying to figure out what my summer sports calendar is going to look like.
As I'm not one to care much about preseason stuff in any sport, my interest will be limited at best in NFL training camps. As for basketball and hockey, unless there is a major trade, there usually isn't much going on there either. And no, I don't really pay much attention the NBA summer league.
College sports are nearly over for the school year as are high school sports.
So what exactly is there for me to look forward to watching this summer?
Well, we have the Red Sox of course and on those weekend afternoons when I don't unintentionally take those "I'm an old man" naps, I'll have the games on.
There's the WNBA season to keep tabs on, but in all honesty with Katie Smith retired and Carolyn Swords out of the league due to injury, the best I can do there is root for the New York Liberty to win because Smith is an assistant coach with the team. And their season is off to a rocky 2-5 start.
The Cape Cod Baseball League ( http://www.capecodbaseball.org ) team in my town, the Wareham Gatemen will be kicking off their season soon. I don't know how many games I'll actually get to see in person this year but I do follow them via the newspaper quite avidly.
Later this summer, there is the Little League World Series and both my mother and I follow that action from the regional action on through the championship game in Williamsport. I don't think it will ever actually happen, but I'd love to actually attend the event some year.
On the high school level, there is the girls summer basketball league the next town over. I'll probably go to a game or two there if I can get a schedule. As for the local softball league, well I can't seem to get them to send me a schedule so I doubt that I'll be going to their games. Plus I've been pulling back a bit lately on my sports attendance. I didn't go to any games during the spring season for high school, settling for just getting the results from the area papers. While I'll still go to basketball games during the winter, now that I'm approaching three years out of coaching, I find that the draw of attending any sports events where my players are participating holds less of an important spot in my life. I'm not fully moving on, but the direction is decidedly pointed away not towards.
What are your plans?
Just a brief note of congratulations to Maria Sharapova. She won her 2nd French Open title yesterday.
As I mentioned above, the New York Liberty are currently 2-5 on the season. They lost to the Indiana Fever 70-66 and to the San Antonio Stars (they dropped the Silver Stars moniker in the offseason) 87-75.
I'm not quite sure what's going on with the team, but as it stands right now, it would seem that like last year, they just don't have the talent to be a real contender for the title.
Boston University Women's Basketball - The university has hired Katy Steding as their new coach replacing Kelly Greenberg, who resigned after an investigation into her treatment of players didn't fully clear her of wrongdoing. You can read more on the new hire here: http://www.goterriers.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/060614aaa.html
St. Gregory's Track & Field - Have you ever even heard of this school? No? Well don't feel bad, neither have I. But the school is in the spotlight now after the athletic director fired the school's track coach for running this year's Boston Marathon...on his own personal time off. Yes, the coach didn't take time off from his job, didn't miss any of his requirements of the job AND the school was closed over the long weekend so there was nothing to be done. I can't wait to see this lawsuit.
In the Eastern Mass Division 4 Track and Field Championships, Paige (pictured below in the foreground) & Kali helped the 4x400 team to a 7th place finish (4:24.58), but unfortunately it wasn't enough to advance to the All-States. Paige ran the 2 mile event in 12:36.81. Cameron ran the boys 110 hurdles, finishing 15th.
Another of my former players, Breanna, got the senior class award for female athlete.
Books - Thanks to some extra free time and the fact that they were breezy fun to read novels, I finished two C.J. Box mysteries this week. The two books are in the author's Joe Pickett series and they were both superb stories. The books are Cold Wind and Force of Nature. In Cold Wind, despite the fact I probably should've known better, I still fell hook line and sinker for the set up and managed to be surprised by the resolution. In Force of Nature, the resolution to a long running subplot was epic.
While not something I would ever see myself doing, I love how Box captures the life details of his Wyoming game warden main character and still crafts highly entertaining and suspenseful mysteries, melding both sides of the craft together into one highly addictive book series.
I also picked up two new books this week. I hadn't really thought I was going to be purchasing new titles but on my weekly errands, I stopped by Barnes and Noble and discovered that the second and third books in the Department Q series by Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen had been released in trade paperback format. I had the extra cash and decided that I had to have The Absent One and A Conspiracy of Faith to add to my pile of books to be read.
Also, the third season premiere of the A&E show Longmire was this past week and it was a great way to start off the year. The first part of the show was non-stop and intensely riveting with the performances capturing the breakneck speed of the opening scenes perfectly.
Music - There is still 2 1/2 weeks before the release of the new Ronny Munroe solo CD Electric Wake, but Rat Pak Records released a video for another song from the album this week. You can check out the Youtube link for "United" below.
While chuckling at this quote from W.C. Fields: "If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then quit, there's no point in being a damn fool about it."...
BOSTON RED SOX
The Red Sox losing streak extended to 8 games this week. And it is pretty easy to identify why. The starting pitching has been atrocious.
They lost Felix Doubront to injury, Jon Lester has been ineffective and Clay Buchholz has been thoroughly off his game all season. They are the biggest problems amongst the rotation but in all, the starters have been off their game.
And it has fed into the offense going cold as well. Now you can say that the hitters shouldn't be able to use the pitching as an excuse for their own struggles, but you'd be wrong.
When they are constantly playing from behind, the batters will tend to press and leave themselves open to making bigger and more mistakes. I heard one report that said the Sox had led for just a single inning during the losing streak. I'm not sure how accurate that was but it has to be close since they have spent so much time losing lately.
As for the batters themselves, you look and see that before Friday night's game, David Ortiz was hitless in his last 17 at bats. No one else was exactly lighting up the stat line either. Shane Victorino can't get healthy, Daniel Nava got sent to the minors (he did just get brought back up), and Will Middlebrooks has still not rounded into form.
As for the defense, the play of Xander Bogaerts at short has been less than stellar. It got to the point that Boston went out and re-signed Stephen Drew, the guy they didn't want back after he was a part of last season's title run.
I've seen sarcastic tweets that have referred to this season as a market correction for the 2013 season. I think that's a bunch of bunk. The Red Sox are struggling. And since it is an unlikely event for a team to repeat as World Series champions, those struggles shouldn't come as a complete surprise.
I would like the team to start playing better and I think they have it in them. But the pitching will need to get healthy for that to have any chance of happening. If it does, watch out because then the improved pitching will help fuel an increased offense and the Red Sox could then get back to contender status.
Brown Women's Basketball - Sarah Behn has taken over the team after spending the last three years as the coach of the UMass-Lowell women's team. Behn played her college ball and became the best player in school history at Boston College.
The New York Liberty ended up losing their home opener 79-65 to the Chicago Sky. By all accounts, they ran out of gas in the fourth quarter which allowed the Sky to take the game in hand.
On Saturday night, they lost to the Minnesota Lynx 87-82 and are now 1-2 on the season.
Here's a pic of assistant coach Katie Smith from Game 1 (photo credit to: Sportspagemagazine.com):
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Wareham Boys Track - The team finished the season at 1-7, but my ex-player Cam still has the State Championships to look forward to. He's running in the 100 meter hurdles.
Wareham Girls Softball - The winless season remained intact as the Vikings lost to Apponequet 11-0 and then to Middleboro on Senior Night 12-0. They then closed out the season against Pope John Paul II with a 7-2 loss.
By the way, here's a few pics (by Adam K. Ellis of the Wareham Courier) of some of my former players in action during the softball season:
Brianna behind the plate:
Gina listening to the assistant coach:
Breanna in the field:
Upper Cape Girls Softball - The Rams lost to Bourne 10-3 last Saturday but then closed out their regular season beating Cape Tech 14-0. Molly went 3-4 in that game with 3 RBIs. They finished 14-6 and were invited to the state vocational tournament as the #4 seed where they will play the #1 seed Pathfinder on Monday afternoon.
Wareham Girls Track - In the SCC conference championships, the girls team finished in 2nd place. Paige came in 2nd in the 2 mile event.
ORR Girls Track - The Bulldogs won their fourth straight SCC conference outdoor title on Friday afternoon.
I had a good week of additions to my TV on DVD collection as well. I picked up Doctor Who Season 7, Nikita Season 4 and L.A. Law Season 2.
Of course, nothing is perfect. I'm still having to deal with continued screw-ups from the Columbia House DVD Club. They keep sending me stuff that not only did I not order, but I made sure wouldn't be automatically sent to me and yet they arrived anyway. ARGGGH!
Movies - I watched the Kevin Costner movie 3 Days To Kill this past week. The lack of new TV shows to watch freed up my Tuesday night and I thought it would be a good film to check out. While the action scenes were pretty good, I thought the whole plot was utterly preposterous. In the end, I was unimpressed with the movie and likely won't bother to ever sit through it again.
I also finally sat down and watched X-Men: First Class. I had put it off for all this time and yet when I watched it, I found it to be the most enjoyable of all the X-films thus far.
There's a documentary called Life Itself coming out about film critic Roger Ebert. And while most film critics are easily ignored, I happened to have always liked reading his reviews even if I didn't agree with them. The trailer for the film is below.
Books - I finished the John Sandford novel Silken Prey this week. It is the latest paperback in his Lucas Davenport series and it was quite a good read. I liked how they twisted things up in the end so that it was kind of open ended. The main case was solved but in a way that things could come back around again.
I also finished reading The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olesen. It was recommended to me by the staff of The Bookstall in Marion, MA. And while it took me awhile to get around to actually reading it, I have to say that it was a heck of a read. Set in Denmark, it focuses on Detective Carl Morck who is recovering (badly) from a shooting that killed one of his partners and paralyzing the other. He's placed in charge of the newly created Department Q, the cold case squad. I liked how the story bounced between the case and the victim, which is not always an easy thing to make work. But it worked here and I loved the book.
I honest can't remember listing to the band Uriah Heep before, but they've got a new album called Outsider. The official video for the song "One Minute" was posted on Youtube and the song is flat out AWESOME! See it below.
Ronny Munroe's video for the song "The Others" features label mates Pamela Moore and Dave Rude. You can see it below.
Finally, Judas Priest has posted the full length preview of the song "March of the Damned" on Youtube. The video comes with an intro from guitarist Glenn Tipton. I can't say what I think of the song as I've decided to not listen to any more tracks from the album to keep some mystery for when their album Redeemer of Souls is released. But you can check out the video for yourself.
While trying to keep my fingers attached as I've written a ton of articles this week...
And thus dies the hope for another Stanley Cup. The Bruins lost Game 7 this week to end their season. I have to wonder what the people who were raving about the Bruins winning the President's Cup think of that "honor" now that the IMPORTANT Cup will go to another team this year.
BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS
Former BC men's basketball player Ryan Anderson completed the process of transferring away from the Eagles this past week as he committed to Arizona. I'm not happy that he left the team, but I wish him well.
The interesting part of the draft for me was when I learned that former BC running back Andre Williams ended up going in the fourth round to the New York Giants. A lot was made about how Tom Coughlin loving former BC players, but I think Williams can be a plus to the team. I sent a tweet to Williams congratulation him and wishing him luck (except against the Patriots, of course).
And then there was Michael Sam. After finally getting drafted in round seven, the video of him kissing his boyfriend was played ad nauseum. It got covered on Sportscenter like it was a championship moment or something.
And of course, the haters came out of the woodwork when players started sending out negative tweets about the video. Seriously, he kissed his boyfriend. Unlike the players attending the draft who seem to kiss a couple dozen people before they ever make it up onto the stage and slowing down the whole process. People need to grow up.
He was judged as a football player and found wanting in several areas, but the Rams took a flyer on him.
It would seem to be a good fit for him, staying in the same state where he'd already built up a support system while at the University of Missouri.
But the support is already eroding after it came out that Sam had a deal in place with Oprah Winfrey's OWN network for a reality show BEFORE THE DRAFT and didn't tell the NFL or the Rams. For someone who wanted to be judged solely as a football player, he now doesn't seem to understand the realities of life as a seventh round pick.
And when his agent claimed the NFL knew about the deal and approved it, he got smacked down when an NFL spokesperson refuted the claims and said that neither they or the Rams would be allowing logos or football footage to be used on the show.
The whole thing smacks of a great big bill of goods that was sold to the public and any sense of genuine joy or what have you was all part of the prepackaged events orchestrated by Sam and his cohorts. It may not actually be that way, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
But smarter thinking prevailed after all when it was announced on Friday night that the show had been postponed. The press statement played it up as if they were postponing the filming to let Sam focus on establishing himself as a football player, but reading between the lines you could tell that it was more about any chance of Sam making the team would evaporate if he had cameras around him.
It was a busy week in the NBA offseason. The rumors about the Boston Celtics trading Rajon Rondo got stronger AGAIN. But there were a number of other stories revolving around the coaches that took center stage.
Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cavs fired coach Mike Brown after just 1 season. Brown's second tenure with the team seems to have ended because he and the new GM of the team have different basketball philosophies. Brown's a defensive oriented coach while the GM wants the team running up and down the floor like their shoes are on fire. Another factor working against Brown is that he and star player Kyrie Irving were a mismatch as well. And if Cleveland wants to have any chance to keep Irving after his initial contract ends, they figured they had to make a change.
But that change seems to come at the expense of Brown's reputation. The Cavs were a bad team last year, but you can't lay it all at the feet of Brown. There were years of being bad management from the front office to overcome and you have an owner who is an idiot. I think firing Brown after just 1 year when you were so eager to get him back as the team's coach besmirches his reputation in a way that hurts his chances to get another job.
You can say what you want about Brown's coaching acumen (particularly on the offensive side of the ball), but the fact remains he made it to the NBA and was hired THREE times as a head coach. There has to be some quality to his ideas about the game.
The NBA may be a player's league but firing a coach because the player doesn't like playing for him is akin to letting the inmates run the asylum. So many of these star players come into the game with a reputation far beyond their actual skill set that they should focus on become complete basketball players and let the team be run by a COACH! As for the schism between game philosophies, yes it is important to have the GM and coach on the same page. However, if Brown HAD to go, there had to be a better way of going about things than this. All this has done is further the notion that the Cavaliers are a floundering joke of a franchise.
Golden State Warriors - After signing a 5 year deal for 25 million dollars, Steve Kerr is the new head coach of the team. 25 million dollars to a guy who has never coached before...hmmm...I coached for 25 years, how much would I be worth. Plus I coached children, which is essentially the same thing on an NBA roster these days.
Bitter sarcasm aside, the Warriors front office had better hope that Kerr quickly figures things out or there will likely be a player revolt. For Kerr, he stays on the West Coast and spurns the Knicks job that was his for the taking. I'm wondering how Phil Jackson's feeling of Zen is right now given how he had seemingly put all his eggs in the "Hire Steve Kerr" basket.
Detroit Pistons - Stan Van Gundy is back in the league and this time he covered his butt by not only agreeing to be the coach of the gawdawful Pistons but he's also the director of basketball operations. After being undermined by Dwight Howard in Orlando (despite being responsible for making Howard into a league power player), Van Gundy (pictured below on the right) will be the guy players would normally go to complain about the coach.
I don't know if he can make the Pistons relevant again but given the job he did in Orlando, he has a track record of coaching good teams. And boy it will be interesting when the Pistons play the Houston Rockets next season. Houston is the current resting spot for Howard. Here's hoping on those nights, that Detroit rises up and teaches Howard a lesson.
Wareham Boys Track - The boys lost to Apponequet 74-62.
Wareham Girls Track - The girls closed out their regular season at 6-1-1 after winning twice this week. The record is their best in years and it was good enough for 2nd in the conference.
The first win was over Apponequet 88-42. Paige won the long jump with a leap of 14 feet 3 1/2 inches. She also won the mile in 5:48.1.
They followed that up with a 72-60 win over Dighton-Rehoboth. It was their first win in 6 years over D-R. Paige won the 800 meters in 2:36.9
ORR Girls Track - In a dual meet to close out their season at 8-0 (and claim the SCC title for the fifth straight year), the Bulldogs beat Seekonk 94-41 and GNB Voc-Tech 115-23. Rachel won the mile in 6:00 flat during the meet.
Wareham Girls Softball - The losing continued this week as the Vikings dropped 2 more games to fall to 0-15 on the season. They lost to Bourne 15-9 and to Pope John Paul II 6-2. Gina dropped to 0-4 on the mound.
Upper Cape Girls Softball 5 to raise their record to 135. I was supposed to go see the girls play yesterday but ended up not being able to make it the game.
The New York Liberty opened their season on Friday night visiting the Connecticut Sun. The Liberty took the game 75-54. There hasn't been much talk about the team worth mentioning, but here's hoping adding Katie Smith (pictured below from Media Day, photo from Getty Images) to the coaching staff can help pay dividends for them.
The Fall 2014-2015 TV schedules were announced this past week and I've been writing up my reports on each network. Two of the articles have been posted so far. You can check them out below. I've also included a trailer for one new show on each of the networks that I'll be checking out.
You can check out the first song from the new solo album from Metal Church singer Ronny Munroe below. The song is called "Ghosts" and it is on the album Electric Wake. The CD is due out June 24th via Rat Pak Records. The song features ex-Dokken guitar maestro George Lynch.
Oh and I picked up the CD and DVD editions of the new Dio live release Live In London - Hammersmith Apollo 1993.
After the Bruins lost to Montreal in Game 3, a small sense of panic likely set in amongst their fan base. After all, the Canadiens were up 3-0 before a third period rally by Boston made the game 3-2 before an empty net goal sealed the 4-2 win for the Habs.
Going into Game 4, the Bruins HAD to win it or down 3-1 the series would likely be effectively over. And while the lack of offense (from either club) made the game mostly an ice skating exhibition, the Bruins won the game 1-0 in OT to tie the series at 2 games apiece.
Of course, the win had a big subplot develop because the guy who scored the winning goal was someone only the biggest diehard Bruins fans have likely heard much about. Matt Fraser knocked in the puck and sealed the deal on making a big "first" impression on the team, series and fans.
24 hours before the game, he was sitting in a Chipotle restaurant, as a member of the Providence Bruins, Boston's top minor league team. And now he's the #1 star of the game. Nice work if you can get it.
By the way, while the fifth game of the series was last night, I capped off writing this entry before the game ended. Any talk of Game 5 from me will have to come in a later posting or something.
Golden State Warriors - The biggest non-surprise of the NBA coaching carousel came about on Tuesday afternoon. After losing to the LA Clippers in the first round, the Warriors ownership fired Mark Jackson as the head coach.
In a wins-losses evaluation, the firing makes very little sense as Jackson helped guide the team to two straight playoff seasons. But the dismissal seems to be only partly tied to the team not reaching the desired on court success.
Reports of clashes with consultant Jerry West, the sidelining of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, a sense of arrogance, being annoyingly religious and treating front office personnel badly all made their way to the media. And while nothing but the Scalabrine move was ever given over to fact, it didn't paint a good picture of Jackson.
But the firing has not been making the players very happy. They loved playing for him.
Whatever the reason behind the firing, owner Joe Lacob had better hit a home run with who he hires as Jackson's replacement. If the team backslides, Lacob will never hear the end of questions about the firing.
Cleveland Browns - Speaking of the draft, it seems that owner Jimmy Haslam decided on picking Johnny Manziel at #22 in the first round after a homeless man told him to do it. I'm sure other factors were in the decision making process but really now, is that a story you want getting out on how you decided on which player to pick when your team has such a crappy history over the last two decades?
Girls Track - The Wareham girls picked up a win this week knocking off Fairhaven 85-46 and then beat Case 79-39 to improve to 4-1-1 on the season. In the Case meet, Paige won the 800 meters (2:43.2) while Kali won the 200 meters (29.0). One of the local papers had an article this week on my former player Paige and her exploits as a member of the Wareham girls track team. You can check that story out here: http://wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/p/record-breaking-sophomore-setting-fire-to-the-track/1178474
As for the ORR girls, they are 6-0 after beating Dighton-Rehoboth 94-42 and Fairhaven 106-24.
Wareham Boys Track - The boys lost to Case 91-44. Cam won the 110 meter hurdles event in 17.6 seconds.
Upper Cape Girls Softball 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. 4 on the season.
Wareham Girls Softball - The Vikings fell 13-12 to ORR. Gina went 3-5 in the game with a double and 2 RBI.
Breanna was 2 for 2 in the game when she was trying to beat out a throw to first base and she suffered a severe leg injury. According to the newspaper account she had to be sent to Boston for treatment. Apparently she stepped on the base wrong and broke her femur. She's still up in Boston and was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. I saw the pic she posted on her Twitter account of the pin holding her leg in place before surgery. OUCH!
Against Dighton-Rehoboth, the mercy rule came into play as Wareham lost 16-0 in five innings. Gina had 1 hit in the game and picked up her second loss (0-2) on the mound. The team is now 0-12 for the season.
Last Saturday, during Free Comic Book Day, I took my brother to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier as an early birthday gift for him. I had seen it before and loved it and things only seemed better during my second viewing. My brother hadn't seen it but absolutely loved the movie.
Books - I finished reading the Christopher L. Bennett Star Trek Enterprise novel - Tower of Babel this week. There were lots of political machinations in play in the story and it had enough action to balance out the dialogue heavy portions. All in all, a good read.
I picked up the new John Sandford paperback this week entitled Silken Prey. It's the latest in his always entertaining Lucas Davenport series.
Music - I picked up another new CD this past week. The new album from Winger is called Better Days Comin'. I had heard a couple of songs online that sounded real good (and one that didn't thrill me) so I just had to get the disc. A review will be forthcoming.
By the way, starting May 11th, the TV networks will be doing their upfront presentations where they officially unveil their schedules for the fall. They've already started announcing pickups and cancellations but next week's events gives the details in full. As a confirmed TV junkie, you know I'll have lots to say. I covered the individual network schedules last year for Pop-topia and likely will do it again this year.
And you gotta love when stores have sales to clear out excess DVD inventory. I was able to get the first two seasons of Frasier and seasons 3 & 4 of Wings on huge discount this past week.