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Wednesday, 20 March 2013 14:20

Hope springs eternal

For anyone who has been a Boston baseball since before the days of 'Red Sox Nation,' there are a couple of basic requirements tied to the calendar. One is to anticipate the September swoon and the disappointment that follows (except for those glorious '04 and '07 seasons); the other is to greet each new campaign with optimism and unrealistic expectations. Since we're less than two weeks from Opening Day, it seems like as good a time as any to engage in some wishful thinking and envision a scenario where the Red Sox rise from worst to first.

Published in The Sports Edge
Thursday, 20 December 2012 11:28

Thanks for the presents

It's the week before Christmas and writers everywhere are busily putting together the most hackneyed of columns. You know it, right? The one where they list what their favorite teams, players and coaches might want for Christmas? Not that I'm above clichd writing, but I thought I would at least attempt to go a different route.

Instead, I'd like to celebrate the gifts we Maine sports fans have already been given. We're pretty lucky to live in an area that has a passion for sports, both local and regional, and our interest has been rewarded with an abundance of great teams, memorable players and talented coaches. This week we say thanks for just a few:

Published in The Sports Edge
Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:17

So long, mystique

It's 11 years ago. A young Tom Brady is in his first few games leading the New England Patriots as their starting quarterback. The games are constantly close, the offense is just good enough to get by, but the defense is the real strength of the team. They lead the squad all the way through to a victory over the St. Louis 'Best Show on Turf' Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

For the next few years this would be a continuing trend. The offense slowly got better and the defense slightly regressed, but still good enough to win games. To win BIG games. Two more Super Bowls. Then something happened. When the going got tough, the Pats got going back to the team bus, because they just lost a close game. Acting like 12-year-olds watching 'The Exorcist' for the first time and needing a change of shorts when it was all said and done.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:34

Rotten tomatoes

Historically, the beginning of October marks the start of great things to come. Think about it: Columbus Day weekend (a day off with zero responsibilities!), leaves starting to turn, Halloween, Thanksgiving fun things on the horizon.

In sports it's a time where you are overwhelmed with options. NFL and NCAA football go full tilt, the MLB regular season comes to an end and playoffs begin - but this year, for me the options are limited, and there is no one to blame but the Boston Red Sox. Playoffs? Not this year - not by a long shot.

Published in The Sports Edge
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 13:59

Red Sox ascendant

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.

Published in The Sports Edge

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.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:17

Sports something something

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.

Published in The Sports Edge
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