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The Sports Edge (77)

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 13:21

Fantasy in the basement

Written by Brian Sullivan

It's probably the best day of the year. Better than Christmas, New Year's Eve and even your birthday. It's the live and in-person fantasy football draft. This year we expand from 10 players to 12. The stakes are a little higher, but that's how we like it! Here's how it all went down

The draft was set to start at 10 a.m. Sunday morning; a little early for my taste, but what can you do I'm not the commissioner. We picked the draft order out of a hat, and I had the fifth overall selection in a snaking draft. Number one overall selection: Ray Rice. With number five I was at a loss as to what to do. I went Megatron: Calvin Johnson - can't go wrong, right? If you don't get Rice, Arian Foster or LeSean McCoy then it's kind of up in the air.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:57

Dirty Little Secret

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As the dog days of summer approach, Red Sox fans continue to be troubled by what has been a season-long series of false starts and dashed hopes. There have been flashes of brilliance from this team but also much longer stretches of mediocrity, all while the guys in pinstripes continue to play with a youthfulness that makes you wonder if there's a Dorian Gray-like team portrait hanging in Hank Steinbrenner's office. It would be enough to make me add several new gray hairs if it were not for my dirty little secret. No, it's not Just For Men. It's that I just don't care like I once did. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:38

Bringing the heat for real

Written by Jeff Solari

The recent weather in Maine has been hotter than NESN reporter Jenny Dell, so there's a slight chance I might be suffering from heat-induced delusions. But when it comes to the Red Sox, I think I can see clearly now; the rain is gone. While these thoughts might make you a bit overheated, here's what I think about the rest of the Sox regular season.

There will be no playoffs again this year. Sox are at .500 as we speak. Sure, they're getting healthier every day, but unless they have three quality starting pitchers coming off the DL (they don't), they're going nowhere. Message to John Farrell: 'Please come back!' Sox pitchers have struggled since he has been gone. The bullpen has been serviceable, but without a few guys who can get you to the seventh inning consistently, there'll be no October baseball for Boston again this year.

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 13:59

Red Sox ascendant

Written by Brian Sullivan

Maybe it's all the Vitamin D I've soaked up from playing in a few golf tournaments this weekend, but I am filled with optimism. I don't think it's the sun, I think it's the Boston Red Sox slowly but surely climbing in the standings of the American League East. Don't look now, but the Sox are in third place! The pain of injuries that were like a swift kick to the groin back in April and May is subsiding and Boston is getting healthy. Look out Major League Baseball - here they come.

David Ortiz continues to drink from the fountain of youth like my friend Jimmy at an open bar wedding. He's been swinging the bat like Thor would a hammer. Sitting on 399 career HRs, my hope is that he can wait to hit fateful number 400 at Fenway Park. Honestly, if someone would have said to you that Big Papi would have 20+ dingers at the All-Star break you would likely have offered them some water and said 'sober up.' But here he is, the team's club house leader and easily the best Designated Hitter in baseball. We can talk about legitimate MVP candidacy at a later date.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:38

Rubbing elbows with the greats

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I recently had the good fortune to attend the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards ceremony in Salisbury, North Carolina. Winners from each state and their spouses converged on the southland, along with national honorees Dan Shulman of ESPN and former 'Sports Illustrated' writer Joe Posnanski and Hall of Fame inductees Bob Costas and John Feinstein. The four-day affair included a round-table discussion or two, a seminar, and a seemingly endless supply of food. For us small-town guys, it's an opportunity to not only rub elbows with the big names, but to meet up with peers from around the country, swap stories and share a lot of laughs.

A good deal of time was spent with New England colleagues Joe D'Ambrosio, who has broadcast UConn games for decades, and Jim Jeanotte, who will be inducted into the University of New Hampshire's Hall of Fame this coming Saturday. I also got to talk about northeast baseball's return to the College World Series with The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy. It was fun to connect with Bill Roth, the voice of Virginia Tech, whom I hadn't seen since my last trip to the awards weekend, and make new friends like Gene Deckerhoff, the legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State broadcaster, Pete Weber of the Nashville Predators, the Philadelphia Flyers' Jim Jackson, and Lyn Rollins of LSU. There's a level of camaraderie among play-by-play guys that's always enjoyable, as we share preferences about spotter sheets (the chart of staring players and substitutes) and horror stories about the worst press boxes we've encountered.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 15:00

When I want your opinion I'll give it to you

Written by Jeff Solari

I'm sure you've heard the saying: 'Opinions are like butts: everyone has one.' Well, when you're in sports talk radio or you write a sports column, in my opinion you really need one. An opinion that is. And some predictions too. Lots of both make for good radio. Some people must think you're a genius. The rest should regard you as something lower than a snake's belly. If you're in between you're radio vanilla and at some point you will be passed over for a new and more exciting flavor.

But above all else, you must embrace being wrong. It happens to everyone. I still remember Peter Gammons saying flat out there was no way the Red Sox would ever trade Manny Ramirez. Two weeks later, Manny was being Manny in LA.

Having written this column since 2007 and worked almost eight years doing sports talk radio on WZON and now on the FOX Sports Maine network with Rich Kimball, I've given a boatload of opinions and predictions. I got a few right. I bombed on a bunch too.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:17

Sports something something

Written by Brian Sullivan

I am no fool. I am a believer. I love the Boston Celtics. All of those things have been keeping me up nights for the past few weeks, watching what will likely be the last run for the Celtics as we currently know them. Not being a fool yet still being a believer are things that contrast quite frequently. Here's why.

I love a good conspiracy theory. I am constantly thinking I could possibly be a part of one, a la 'The Truman Show' (not much proof to back that one upyet). JFK assassination? Go rent Oliver Stone's movie and watch the last 45 minutes while Kevin Costner breaks it all down in court. If you didn't believe, you will. Did aliens land in Roswell back in 1947? Absolutely. Do they live among us? Um, no. Is Bigfoot real? No. Is 'Harry and the Hendersons' still a great movie? Yes.  Like I said, I'm no fool. Here's the rub: The NBA is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Don't let them.

Watching the Celtics from 2007-2008 on has been wonderful. The Cs have been a fixture late in the playoffs ever since the big three was assembled. It has made the start of summer extra special for half a decade, but sadly they don't have a chance to win it all this year. Because the NBA doesn't want them to win. There it is: The NBA is a fake.

I'm not saying that the players are doing anything dastardly like shaving points to affect the outcome of gamesbut the officials, now, that's a different story. I'm not even going to mention Tim Donaghy and the fact he was betting on games - oh wait, I just did. I'm talking about the refs in this year's playoffs. Are they doing a horrible job of calling the Heat and Celtics Eastern Conference Finals? Yes. Are they doing it because they are bad referees? No. They are doing it because the NBA officials are telling them to! Am I crazy? I would say no, you may say otherwise. That's your right. But I'm telling you it's a conspiracy.

Paul Pierce fouls out of two consecutive games. Lebron James shoots 24 foul shots one game, the same game the Celtics shoot 29. Rajon Rondo gets decapitated in overtime of Game 2; no call. The league wants the Heat in the finals. They want the Heat against the Thunder. They want to crown a new champion; they are tired of old stars winning titles. The Spurs and Celtics? That's not sexy. Been there done that, says the NBA. There is a new crop of marquee names that the league wants to push, to sell tickets and jerseys. Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Lebron just to name a few. None of them are champions, but the league desperately wants that to change. Why didn't they allow Chris Paul to go to the Lakers? I'll tell you why. The Lakers are getting old. They don't have many more runs in them. Conspiracy.

Let's go back through the last few champions. Starting in 1999 it goes Spurs, Lakers, Lakers, Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Lakers and Mavericks. The Spurs and Lakers weren't old when they started winning, but they are now. Shaq was the reason for the first three, Kobe the last two. Shaq was also the reason Miami won in 2006, with a lot of help from Dwyane Wade. Look at that list: all old teams. Last year the Mavericks had the oldest roster in the league. The NBA caters to younger fans; they want kids watching these games. They want to put a hip product out there. They don't want to see the Celtics and Spurs walking it up the court like your dad on open gym on a Sunday afternoon. They want Lebron fast breaking with D-Wade and Kevin Durant making it rain from down town. Not Ray Allen rubbing icy hot all over himself pre- and post-game.

I want the Celtics to win. I will watch and cheer. I can honestly say that I think they are the better team. Too bad they don't have a chance. The series may go seven, because that makes the NBA more money, but Boston won't be raising another banner. Big Brother is watching and won't allow it to happen.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 13:21

More is not necessarily better

Written by Rich Kimball

You only need to stroll down the cereal aisle at your local Hannaford to come to the realization that we have more choices than ever before about virtually everything in our lives. A mere generation ago a coffee was a coffee; your options were black and regular, and the idea of a grande mocha latte was as futuristic as the space cars the Jetsons drove. Today we are faced with a myriad of selections everywhere from food to the 500-channel television universe, and 'coffee shops' now have a menu larger than most restaurants of my youth.

Few areas of our lives have seen as exponential a growth in opportunities as youth sports and, much like what you see surfing through your cable choices, that isn't always a good thing. The other day I saw a sign advertising a new a baseball league for 4- and 5-year-olds. Surely that has to be a sign of an impending apocalypse. Here in 21st century America, if you're not playing organized sports by the time you've grown out of your Pull-Ups, you're behind the eight ball.

When I was four my athletic pursuits consisted of running from bumble bees, kicking cans and jumping up and down on my bed. Of course, that may be why my pro career never materialized. Had I only been in an organized league, with my name on my uniform, travelling to Altoona for the national 4-year-old championships, I would now be retired and living off my income from reverse mortgage ads, based on my popularity as a retired superstar athlete.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 12:17

May daze

Written by Jeff Solari

I have so many topics to write about its making my head spin right round baby right round. (Anytime I can get some 80's music lyrics in the first sentence, it's going to be a good column.)

An injury to Derek Rose was just what the doctor, as in Doc Rivers, ordered. Now instead of losing in the second round, the Celtics will most likely beat the 8th-seeded Sixers and play in the Eastern Conference Finals. I know KG and crew had some success against Miami late in the year, which has Green Teamers thinking another trip to the Finals. But as much as I can't stand Lebron and the Heat, me getting my own reality show is more likely than a Celtics series win, which means the 'New Big Three' era in Boston will end. It's been a nice five-year run resulting in one NBA title and another Finals appearance. Let's be happy with that because KG, Ray Allen and maybe even Rondo will be somewhere else next season.

Joe Buck won the sports Emmy for best play by play recently. Yes, he is smooth, knowledgeable and talented on Fox Sports. But do you know anyone who enjoys his play by play? Me either. It's like when they give the Oscar for Best Picture so some artsy flick that five people on the entire planet took the time to see. Buck is good, like caviar. But I don't know many people who really like either one.

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:45

Life is good

Written by Brian Sullivan

The weather is starting to make a turn for the better, golf courses all across the state are drying out, women everywhere are starting to tuck away those long johns and sweaters and knock the dust off those summer dresses - life is good.

The NFL draft concluded on Sunday, and the New England Patriots did the unthinkable - they traded up not once but twice! The Pats moved to grab defensive end Chandler Jones out of Syracuse and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Great moves. A team coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl isn't going to have a ton of holes to fill, so instead of trading back and stock piling picks, like the Pats tend to do, they move up and fill the few holes they had on a defense, that, let's be honest, could use some improvements. That's not the end of the good news concerning the draft. How about those Maine Black Bears!

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