Monthly Archives: January 2010

Geaux Saints!

(Photo from Washington Post)

Well good job, New Orleans. Well done. Those of us in New England certainly know what it’s like to celebrate a kicker’s heroics and it couldn’t have happened to a better team. Now, I think I can speak for most New Englanders and Patriots fans when I say, please march into Miami and beat the stuffing out of Peyton Manning and his band of prancing ponies.

HJ, who looked so sad and bereft in his Jets jersey yesterday, and who is normally so measured and rational about these things (I know, right? So weird), responded to my question about how he felt about the Super Bowl with, “I hope Drew Brees annihilates the stupid Colts.” Which is something we can totally agree on. He also had great fun using my new gift from Chrissy, the world’s best shark mittens, to work out some residual angst. “I’m Peyton Manning. La la la. CHOMP!” And who among us doesn’t love that idea?

In reality, this is likely the matchup the NFL wanted since it pits the two teams who have performed the best all season against each other. And that’s fine and dandy and all, but the thought of Peyton Manning being within spitting distance of another Super Bowl turns my stomach. I mean, I’ve walked past the Manning house in the Garden District in New Orleans. There was a Colts flag flying outside (this was before they were acknowledging Eli as one of their own). Think Papa Manning is going to feel conflicted about this? I’m sure I’m not the first to bring that up and I certainly won’t be the last. Odds are there will be thousands upon thousands of articles written about that in the coming weeks and I might just find myself a nice rock to crawl under to get away from it all. Because the fact that the Mannings are all over both sides of this Super Bowl means more Manning coverage which is just fantastic. ESPN is about thisclose to starting an All Manning, All The Time Network. I may have to go into sensory deprivation to keep from destroying HJ’s very expensive television.

The flip side of this, of course, is the Brett Favre storyline. Because it’s ever so fitting that his career ended (maybe), for the second time on a game-sealing interception in an NFC championship game but homeboy is running out of teams with whom to attempt to win a Super Bowl. Though, as Chrissy pointed out, “The Bears would probably take him next year if he wants to keep being an asshole.” She’s probably right.

Here’s what I wonder though, about Old Man Favre. Everyone keeps talking about his quest to win a Super Bowl as though he’s never done it before when in fact, he has. His 1997 Packers team beat the Patriots 35-21 at the Superdome and some of us remember that, Brett. So it’s not like he’s been playing for nigh on seventy years now without a shot at a championship and I don’t know why we’ve been talking all season like this was his last, best shot. So if he really does retire (again), I think he can go back to selling Wranglers and big screen TVs at Sears and not be thinking about the Lombardi trophy that got away because he already has one. Which is one more than most people have. What I’m saying is, the Brett Favre Pity Train is leaving the station.

The Saints, however, could do with a Super Bowl. And while I agree that if they were to win a few short weeks before Mardi Gras, it’s entirely possible the whole city will remain drunk for a good seven to eight months, I can’t really think of a city that deserves a therapeutic victory parade more. And any opportunity to turn the Colts into the national bad guy is one I plan to embrace wholeheartedly. My point being, go Saints!


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Who do you play for?

(Photo from On Frozen Blog)

You guys might not know this about me, but I am a total sucker for true-life, inspirational sports stories. Like the kind that Disney would reject as too schmaltzy (except, they, um, usually don’t). The Rookie, Rudy, Friday Night Lights, all of that stuff. I eat it up. Maybe it’s because I’m an easy mark and I always want to believe in the scrappy underdog but I can’t help it, those kinds of movies usually have me crying myself dehydrated. The worst (or best) among them, though, is Miracle. I am telling you, that movie hit me where I live. Could be because I grew up a hockey fan, or that as a New Englander, the accents had a way of making me homesick when I wasn’t far from home. Or that Kurt Russell and the boys playing his team did such a good job of getting a normally level-headed, politically considerate person to stand up and chant “USA! USA! USA!” by so convincingly villainizing the Russians. I don’t remember the original Miracle on Ice as I was, um, less than four months old at the time, but man, I could watch that movie every day and never get sick of it.

This is all by way of saying the Olympics are starting soon! And with them, men’s ice hockey. Which is, in a word, AWESOME. I wrote a preview piece for NESN today about the primary players in the games. And while it’s unlikely that we’ll get another Miracle situation simply because we’re letting professionals play in the games, that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about it. To whit, a conversation I had with Chrissy yesterday:

Me: We have to watch Olympic hockey this year because the NHL has not agreed to participate beyond the 2010 games. So they might be back to amateurs after this.


Me: True. Although, do we hate the Russians now? We don’t, right? I mean, who else could we beat that would be as satisfactory? I don’t think the Taliban fields a hockey team.

Chrissy: It’s true. It’s hard.

Me: Well, Zdeno Chara is playing for Slovakia. I don’t know why but that makes me happy. I might secretly root for Slovakia.

And then we proceeded to shout Miracle quotes at each other for the better part of two hours.

As you do.

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"Frozen" being the operative word

(Giant foam fingers make everything awesome)

The good gentlemen over at Stadium Journey have already done a review of our beloved Fenway Park. But what is it like when a 98-year-old baseball park hosts a hockey game? Well, I’ll tell you! Thanks to Chrissy and her BU connections, she scored us seats for Frozen Fenway, the game between BU and BC last Friday evening. Yours truly reviewed the experience and rated how the park stacked up for Stadium Journey.

Have a look and let us know what you think! And if you’re one of the many shirtless and intoxicated gentlemen we saw that evening, could you kindly let me know if your nipples have thawed?

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Great Googly Moogly

(Photo from

I don’t know how you guys feel about it but I’m perfectly willing to blame yesterday’s travesty on Bill Belichick’s choice of headwear. Because it’s really hard to look fearsome or intimidating while sporting a pom pom hat. It’s just fact. The hoodie, as always, was a nice touch but the man is supposed to be a robot, impenetrable to cold, heat or human emotion. A kicky chapeau is not really the rallying cry we’re looking for here, Bill. Maybe next time, wear a hard hat.

As I explained to HJ this morning while moping around the apartment and trying to release the tension that’s been residing between my shoulder blades for a week, it’s one thing if your team loses a game that they played well and hard. It’s one thing if they are merely outplayed or outcoached. It’s one thing if the other team just has one more play in them. In any of those cases, you can at least go into the off-season confident in the fact that your team put it’s best foot forward and it just wasn’t enough. But yesterday wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. Yesterday, the Patriots were hapless, hopeless and, at times, downright embarassing. Which is not to take anything away from the Ravens who capitalized on every mistake the Patriots made. Which were many. In fact, the Ravens were playing like the Patriots of old. Which, in addition to angering me, made me wonder what had happened to our defensive-minded football team. The one who used to turn an opponent’s weaknesses against them and forced them to make mistakes. Because that is certainly not the team we have now.

And yes, Wes Welker was hurt and he was brought out for inspirational talks prior to the game, looking for all the world like Tiny Tim on his crutches. But you know what? It didn’t work. And I’m sure it wasn’t for lack of trying on Welker’s part but there’s only so much an injured slot receiver can do. And while I wouldn’t have put it past Welker to drammatically toss aside his crutches, rip open his jacket to reveal his familiar #83 jersey and take the field in a gutsy and heartrending show of scrappiness, I’m not even sure that could have saved the Patriots. They just did not have it in them.

For his part, I hope that Julian Edelmen’s mom taped the game as her son appeared to be the only player on the field even trying yesterday and he deserves his own highlight reel. But he’s the only one.

After the game, I got an email from Greta in Baltimore, “Hi, Muffin,” she said, “I’m really sorry it had to go down like that. We can still make Old Bay Bloody Marys and curse the name of the Irsay family next week, right?” To which I replied, “Dude? Take those fuckers DOWN.” Because at this point, I will root for anyone who plays Indianapolis. And if there’s anyone who hates the Colts more than the Patriots, it’s the Ravens. So the enemy of the enemy is my friend and all that. Plus, early in the game yesterday they cut to commercial and it starred – surprise, surprise – Peyton Manning and I yelled, “This has nothing to do with you! Take your goofy forehead and hillbilly face and go away until next week!” My point being, I clearly have some unresolved issues with Peyton Manning and if Ray Lewis wants to take care of that for me, that’d be delightful.

Look, I’d be lying if I said that I thought the Patriots were going all the way this year and that this season would finally redeem the 2007 Super Bowl loss. I never really felt that way. All season something just seemed off. The timing wasn’t right or there were undisclosed injuries or questionable coaching moves. Perhaps Randy and Tommy are still working on getting back in synch after missing last season together. Perhaps some of them have lost a step. Perhaps Billiam really is getting a bit too big for his britches and needs to hire himself some coordinators STAT so as to take away some of the coaching autonomy which is clearly not good for him. At the very least, he needs someone to choose better hats.

At this point, we’re not left with much. Who knows how long Welker’s recovery will take or what shape the team will take next year? And as Brady’s genetically-bred miracle children aren’t quite big enough yet to run a slant route, we’ll have to wait a big longer for the kids to go into the family business. For now, I guess we’ll just have to watch the rest of the playoffs and root for Baltimore. Or don’t. Or start watching hockey. Or basketball. Or take up knitting. Whatever we do, it’ll take a while to get this bad taste out of our mouths.

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Razor Sharp

(Photo from Stadium Journey)

Look, the playoffs haven’t started yet, Wes Welker’s leg fell off and Theo Epstein keeps changing his mind about the players he wants on the Red Sox so often that it kind of feels like the team is being general managed by one of those giant Bingo cage ball wheel thingies. So instead of wondering who’s going to be playing left field for the Sox this coming season (maybe you, maybe me, maybe my cat), and what’s going to happen to the Patriots when they can’t slant route to Welker (::shudder::), I’ve decided to throw a little something different your way.

You all may remember a while back when I brought Stadium Journey to your attention when they’d posted their Fenway review. Well, now they’ve got one of Gillette up and it’s a good read. Having only been to one professional football game in my twenty-nine years on this earth (I’d turn in my Pats fan card but I am not made of money, people), I didn’t experience most of the awesomeness that the writer tells us about. Of course, the game I saw happened in mid-December during a snow storm and the Patriots beat the visiting Jets which is always delightful. The snowstorm was part of the fun. As was watching Pats fans throw snowballs at Chad Pennington on the Jets’ sideline. But aside from the game and some pregame tailgaiting in, I believe, a Camry, there wasn’t all that much going on. Granted, that was nearly five years ago at this point and since then, Patriot Place has been constructed.

While I question whether a stadium built so obviously in the suburbs of a major city can have the same charm and effect of one built in the center of things (the writer mentions Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium and some place in Indianapolis that I will not dignify with a mention), I think there is something to be said for letting the elements in which they certainly do at Gillette. Look, I’m from New England. It gets cold here. I deal with it. So can visiting football teams. Real teams, I’m sorry, don’t play in domes. It’s football. You sack up and deal.

Anyway, take a gander at Jack Harver’s review of Gillette Stadium and let me know your thoughts on the place. What’s the best thing about it? What’s the worst? What have your experiences at Patriots games been like? Really, people, until Theo gives me a notarized list of players for the upcoming season, I need to find something else to focus on. Why not the Gillette lighthouse?

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(Photo from

If it’s all the same to you, I’m going to go ahead and blame Bernard Pollard for this most recent string of Patriots’ misfortune. I realize that Pollard was nowhere near Welker when his knee went kablooey and rather fell on him afterwards but it’s way easier to blame him than to direct my ire at the turf. So from now on, any Patriots injuries will be blamed on Bernard Pollard. If I so much as bang my shin on my coffee table while getting up to get a drink during a Patriots game, I’m blaming it on Pollard. Apparently, Pollard feels terrible about being involved with the Brady injury last September and the aftermath of the Welker injury. And that’s great and all, but you’ll forgive me if my sympathy doesn’t lie with Pollard and his bruised feelings. I trust you all understand.

I can’t be the only one whose excitement over winning the division and making the playoffs was squashed when Welker pulled up and grabbed his knee, can I? Because I’m also sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed that the difference in the team this year when they’re playing well and when they’re not is Welker. There is nothing that pisses off opposing fans so much as the slant route to Welker because, for some reason, no one can ever seem to stop it. And while Julian Edelman will do his very best Welker impression, there’s no substitute for the real thing.

What I’m saying is, I’m worried, guys. I’m real worried. Especially since Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are salivating over the opportunity to eat Tom Brady whole next week. And the longer this team goes without making up for 2007 (and doesn’t it sort of feel like that’s what they’re always going to be trying to do?), the more painful that loss becomes. None of this is helped along by the fact that it’s time for the “Decade’s Best” lists and no one can resist the urge to shove that David Tyree catch down our throats every chance they get. Personally, I’ve stood up and left the room so many times when it comes on that I’m pretty sure HJ thinks I have ants in my pants. What can I say? I can’t watch it.

Now, it’s true that the Pats could surprise everyone and go further in the playoffs than anyone expects. If we’ve learned anything about them over the course of the last ten years, it’s that they can certainly surprise you. But I suspect this time, it might take a little more than they have.

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