Monday, November 9, 2015

Bronx Fight Club

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Clay Buchholz re-injures elbow celebrating $13 million option

You thought that was a real headline, right? That's how fragile Clay Buchholz is. And the Red Sox have picked up his option for 2016, worth $13 million. Buchholz, when healthy, is incredibly streaky. He can rip off 8 to 10 Ace-like starts, then suck for weeks. From season to season, month to month, start to start, you have no idea which Clay Buchholz will show up. Here is the roller coaster ride of his ERAs for the past 5 seasons: 3.48, 4.56, 1.74, 5.34, 3.26. He's never had consecutive seasons with ERAs within 1 run of each other.

The one thing you can rely on with Clay is that he'll get injured. He's 31 and he's only started 20+ games in 3 seasons. He's never started 30.

The argument for exercising the option is that $13 million isn't a ton of money, and it's only one year. And as I said, Buchholz when healthy is capable of brilliance. So why not? Minimal risk, potential for high reward.

But $13 million is too much for unreliability. I love low risk/high reward ventures. Not when the guy is as inconsistent as Buchholz, and ALSO as injury prone. The injury isn't even a risk, it's essentially a sure thing.

Another reason to not want Buchholz is that due to he unreliability, you're going to have to make sure you have 6 potential starters available. Either that or try to acquire one in June or July when his arm breaks down. And good luck finding a replacement for him if he falls apart in September. By keeping Buchholz, it forces you to also get some form of insurance.

It comes down to this: If he were a free agent, would you want to spend $13 million on him? I wouldn't.

Even as a back of the rotation guy, he's too unreliable. I'd rather have a mediocre innings eater that I could depend on to keep the team in games and preserve the bullpen. Give me 28 starts and 160 innings of decent pitching. With Buchholz it's 10 to 29 starts, and 100-200 innings, some great, some awful.

In 4 of Buchholz's 18 starts last season, he failed to go 5 innings. It was 6 times in 2014. About every 5 starts he'll drop a turd on the mound and you'll have difficulty clawing back to get into the game. Not to mention tax your bullpen in the process.

The only acceptable role for Buchholz is at the back of a rotation that's so strong up front that it doesn't really matter what you have as a 4 or 5 starter. In which case, $13 million is too much to spend on a guy whose role doesn't matter. And it's too much to spend on a guy whose only predictable attribute is that he will get hurt at some point and force you to find someone else to start for him.

-The Captain

DraftKings and FanDuel players should consider suing the Colts for falsifying injury reports

I don't think stretching the truth on an injury report is a big deal. Unless you're the Colts. Unless you're the team that measured an opposing team's footballs without realizing that air pressure is affected by temperature and humidity. Unless you're the team that leaked the story to your mouthpiece Bob Kravitz hours after you got the tar beat out of you (mostly in the half of the game played with "legal" footballs).

It's sort of like arguing with someone online, and correcting their grammar or spelling. Once you do that you'd better make sure you use the right your/you're, it's/its, and then/than. And if you don't, every little mistake of yours is fair game.

Once you open that door of publicly tattling on another team for possibly breaking a rule, you'd better make sure you follow the rules to the letter. All the rules. Each and every stipulation in the book. Such as fully disclosing the nature of your most important player's injuries. As the NFL says "This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game."

Integrity. The Colts violated a rule that is of "paramount importance" to the game's "integrity."

And it's not just the integrity of football games being jeopardized by the Colts' deception. With the explosion of daily fantasy sports on sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel, where millions of dollars change hands every week, the accuracy of injury information is now similar to the accuracy of publicly owned corporations issuing earnings reports. Huge amounts of money is at stake. And publishing false injury information is like a company failing to report a loss.

How many people added Andrew Luck to their teams in the past few weeks, under the pretense that he had recovered from an arm injury but was otherwise healthy? What about TY Hilton or Donte Moncrief? How would knowledge of his rib injury have affected people's strategies? And might Draft Kings and Fan Duel have possibly modified their salary cap number for Luck if they'd known the truth?

And who had inside information about the true nature of Luck's injuries? Did any of them have Draft Kings or Fan Duel accounts? Do their friends or relatives?

In this absurdly litigious society, the Colts have opened themselves up to huge legal action. And if you picked Luck for your fantasy team, or might have picked him at a lower price, then you should call your lawyer and file suit.Take it all the way to the 2nd Circuit if you have to.

The rules are the rules, Colts. You're the ones who made a big public deal about the rules a few months ago. Which was especially pathetic since the crux of the story was that the "illegal" footballs were removed from the game, which is also when you started getting stomped on.

You couldn't beat the Patriots on the field, so you decided to beat them with the rule book. And now we see that you suck at that too. Almost as badly as you suck on the field.

-The Captain

Monday, October 19, 2015

Patriots 34, Colts 27

It wasn't the embarrassing blowout that many Patriots fans had been hoping for and many sports pundits had predicted. But there's still embarrassment. There's still Tom Brady being amazing. There's still a Patriots win over the Colts.

You were never going to get "revenge" in this game, Pats fans. But the chance to reassert your superiority over the Colts while simultaneously laughing at their buffoonery carries with it a certain satisfaction.

The Patriots didn't let the hype around this game affect them. They played with focus and concentration. They made adjustments. They were patient. The Colts, on the other hand, played with too much urgency. They tried too hard to write the script of the game instead of just letting it happen. The fake punt Snapfu (term coined by Grantland's Bill Barnwell) was a perfect example of the Colts trying to force the game to play out a certain way. Just punt. Or fake.

Seriously, Pagano, you're going to go after the Patriots by trying to out-coach them? That was the "weakness" you attacked?

The Colts were able to keep this game close thanks to plays like Julian "Nine Fingers" Edelman bobbling a pass, giving Mike Adams an easy pick 6. Indy had a strong first drive as well, but even that series was a fraction of an inch away from ending with 0 points. It was a 21-20 Indy lead going into halftime, but at no point did the Colts have a firm grip on the game.

The Pats benefited from what was probably a bad call on an Indy onside kick. That was luck. What makes the good teams great is capitalizing on lucky bounces and calls. The Pats did that a few plays later when LeGarrette Blount ran for a 38-yard TD.

Danny Amendola had a big game, which was pivotal with Julian Edelman's bent pinkie finger. Edelman and Jamie Collins made the most athletic plays of the game, Edelman twisting inside defenders on a 4th down run, Collins leaping over a long-snapper to block a PAT.

And Tom Brady was Tom Brady. That interception that wasn't his fault was his first of the season. He was mobile inside the pocket, giving himself time to make plays. What continues to impress me the most about Brady is his inhuman ability to not be distracted by all the noise and the things that would affect normal human beings like us.

So the Indy game is over. And we're on to New York and the Jets. And it's for first place in the division. That's not a typo.

-The Captain

Friday, September 25, 2015

SVP vs DFS: Scott Van Pelt takes on daily fantasy instead of stupid gambling laws

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt wants daily fantasy sports to drop the "charade" that it isn't gambling. You can watch his short monologue on the subject here. Before I discuss the material of his argument, I want to applaud him for having the balls to make it. DraftKings and ESPN have a huge partnership deal, and daily fantasy sports has become a massive source of advertising revenue. I'll also compliment SVP on the pace and structure of his argument. It's very well put together.

And I don't disagree with his premises, just the conclusion, and just the fact that he makes the argument at all. The easy way to describe daily fantasy is to say it's gambling. So he's right. Personally, I'd argue that it's gambling and a skill game. I'd also argue that poker, sports betting, and horse betting are also skill games, but most people treat those as gambling. The skill involved is to capitalize on other players who don't know what they're doing as well as you do.

So daily fantasy shouldn't be much different. So why can't they just admit that it's gambling? Drop the charade, right Scott?

Because in this country we have stupid and nonsensical gambling laws that force you to avoid the G-word at all costs. We also have pious institutions like the NCAA that despise the stigma of gambling while they simultaneously benefit from it. Instead of going after daily fantasy's charade, SVP should ask why the charade is necessary at all.

In Massachusetts, gambling is illegal. Unless it's through the state run lottery, or at a casino sanctioned by the state. As long as the State House gets a piece of the action, they're fine with gambling. Otherwise, it's against the law. The government might as well say "Gambling is wrong, unless we do it."

The NCAA recently announced that student-athletes who play daily fantasy will lose a year of eligibility. But when March Madness comes around and people fill out brackets with NCAA logos on them, I don't hear much preaching from the NCAA about the evils of gambling. After all, those brackets are used strictly for fun, and not gambling, right?

I used to play $5 games of online poker until Congress made it next to impossible to deposit or withdraw money from online poker sites. This caused the reputable sites to stop doing business with US players altogether. One of the major laws that began this crushing of online poker in America (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA) specifically stated that fantasy sports was not considered gambling. Fantasy sports was a game of skill. This is the law that allowed daily fantasy to one day grow into what it is today.

So I can buy $100 worth of scratch tickets, or play in a $200 million multi-state lottery, or go down to Plainridge Park and sit in front of a slot machine for 16 hours, and it's all legal, because the government has a stake in those games. I can also pick a fantasy football team for Sunday's games and risk $20 to potentially win $1,000,000, or risk $1 in hopes of winning $20, and it's legal. Because the law says it's not gambling. If it were gambling, it would be illegal.

So why the hell would DraftKings or FanDuel call themselves gambling sites if the reason they are legal and allowed to do business is because the law says they're not gambling sites? That's like demanding that CVS and Walgreen's call themselves drug dealers and not pharmacies.

Maybe, Mr. Van Pelt, you should go after the rampant hypocrisy found in this country's gambling laws. Maybe you should point out that sports betting is and has always been a huge ratings booster for the NCAA, NFL, and all other sports that ESPN covers, even while those leagues publicly condemn such activities. Maybe you should ask why Americans love to gamble, but America has a stigma against gambling?

But no, it's easier to go after the people who bombard you with commercials. It's easier to go after the "charade" they're trying to pull off, instead of digging deeper and asking why they need the charade at all.

-The Captain

Monday, September 21, 2015

Patriots Beat Bills 40-32

This game wasn't as close as the final tally might make it seem. Going into the 4th quarter the Patriots held a 24 point lead. The Patriots got very sloppy down the stretch. They went for it on 4th and 1 and for whatever reason decided to get cute with a deep bomb to Edelman instead of just a run or QB sneak to get the yard. That gave the Bills a short field to score a touchdown. The next drive Brady got the ball knocked out of his hand for another turnover. Another Bills touchdown brought them to within 5 points. At this point the Patriots got serious again, put up a field goal and an interception wrapped up the game. Outside of the opening drives and garbage time, the Patriots dominated this game.

Tom Brady was, again, unstoppable. 38/59, 466 yards, 3 TDs 0 INT. That's the most passing yards against the Bills all time. The previous record was 464 yards set by George Blanda in 1961. Break a 54 year old franchise record, just another day at the office for Tom Brady. A steady diet of Gronk and Edelman accounted for most of the production, but he managed to work in Dion Lewis and Aaron Dobson to spread the ball around.

Dion Lewis is one of the NFL leaders in yards from scrimmage. It won't matter if he doesn't get his fumbling issues under control.

After disappearing for most of 2014, Aaron Dobson looked sharp in this game with 7 catches for 87 yards. Brandon LaFell's injury has opened up an opportunity for Dobson, he seems to be making the most out of it.

The Patriots offensive line looks solid. The Bills are a team that gets after the QB very well. The receivers did their part to nullify this with getting quick separation and Brady did his part by finding them, but the line still did well giving Brady enough space and time to work.

Last week I said I was disappointed with the Patriots defensive line's lack of pressure. That wasn't a problem this game. They got to Tyrod Taylor for 8 sacks. They forced Taylor to make hurried throws that lead to Taylor's 3 picks. They got two fumbles out of Taylor as well. They made him look like a 6th round pick career backup making just his second NFL start.

The Patriots secondary capitalized by making those 3 picks. They didn't get torched by Sammy Watkins the way Antonio Brown had in the first game and the whole unit looked better.

Stephen Gostkowski doesn't seem at all bothered by the new extra point rules as he made all 8 of his kicks on Sunday.

There's a non-story by Mike Florio about the Bills playing a train horn sound repeatedly throughout the game a times when they shouldn't have been permitted to do so. I think Florio is half trolling at this point. It does show that if you look hard enough you can find some sort of minor infraction by the home team in most games, but it's only a big deal if you're the Patriots.

We're on to Jacksonville!

This thing has trap game written all over it. The Patriots are riding high at 2-0 against good opponents and will probably be fighting it out with Green Bay atop the weekly power rankings. The Jags were so bad last season it's hard to take them seriously. They already pulled one out over the Dolphins yesterday. The Patriots should be big favorites at home and I could totally see them sleeping on this team. They seem to have at least one "what the hell happened?" loss per season and this game could absolutely be it. Hopefully Bill will be able to talk up their win over the Dolphins a lot to get everybody's head in the game.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Patriots Beat Steelers 28-21

After the most irritating offseason in Patriots history it was nice to get back to football. The Patriots took care of business against the Steelers 28-21 in Foxboro. Some quick hits and observations.

There's a non-story about the Patriots radio broadcast being played over the Steelers coaches headset. The headsets and the frequencies are controlled by the NFL, The Patriots also had difficulties with their headsets that went strangely underreported. The NFL has already issued a statement exonerating the Patriots of any wrongdoing, but the media won't let that get in the way of their clickbait.

The Steelers were missing some tools with Martavis Bryant and Le'veon Bell unavailable for this game. That said, it's hard to imagine Bell doing much better than the 127 yards on 21 carries they got from DeAngelo Williams.

Recently acquired Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed the first two field goal attempts. It's obviously a bad performance from Scobee, but neither kick was a chip shot.

Dion Lewis was an unexpected pleasant surprise. He made good use of his 15 carries and racked up 69 yards. Gronk had to save his ass with that goal line fumble recovery though. I still like his energy and he should be a good complement to LeGarrette Blount.

Edelman had a great game. I was impressed by how often he was able to rack up some crucial yards after the catch to move the chains.

Before the game Steelers safety Mike Mitchell had discovered the secret to stopping Gronk.

Safety Mike Mitchell says that Gronkowski is successful “when people don’t put their hands on him” and linebacker Ryan Shazier said that the Steelers don’t plan on giving him that kind of welcome to the 2015 season. “You just have to jam him up a little bit, mess with his timing,” Shazier said, via “If you mess up their timing, they are really time-oriented. You have to mess up their timing and get in his face with pressure, then I feel we can slow him down a little bit.”

Wow, all you have to do is jam up Gronk and he's pretty much cooked huh? Maybe they should've tried covering him. Period.

Anyways, I guess the master plan was easier said than done as Gronk made 5 catches for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns. Better luck next time Mitchell.

Antonio Brown is an absolute beast. The catch he made off of Butler's helmet early in the game was insane. He was also torching Butler on a semi-regular basis. I don't know how to evaluate Butler now. I can't tell if it's him screwing up or if Antonio Brown is just so good he makes whomever is covering him look bad.

The Patriots secondary wasn't atrocious, but they're certainly a big step back from Revis/Browner. They'll have to compensate in other areas of the game. Duron Harmon picked off an air ball to essentially put the game on ice.

I was disappointed in the Patriots line. They got to Big Ben twice, but failed to generate consistent pressure as he seemed to have a lot of time in the pocket. Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Malcom Brown, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich were invisible this game. The hope was that the pressure they could generate would help cover for some of the deficiencies in the secondary and they failed to do that.

Brady was unstoppable. At one point he set the franchise record by completing 19 consecutive passes. 25/32 for 288 yards and 4 TDs and 0 INTs. He started off a bit slow last season, it's nice to see him start the season hot. That's Tom Brady's 161st win, pushing him past Brett Favre/Packers for the NFL record for wins with a single team.

This was a good win. Even with the Steelers playing without some of their marquee names they're still a playoff team with some playmakers. There's plenty to improve upon from this game. Stupid penalties (Looking at you Nate Solder), blown coverages and a porous run defense isn't going to cut it if you want to compete for another Super Bowl. Bill has shown an ability to make improvements in problem areas like these over the course of the season, hopefully he can do so again.

We're on to Buffalo!

The Patriots get a long week to prepare for Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. Who's the Bills starting QB this year? I guess it's Tyrod Taylor. He beat out EJ Manuel and Matt Cassell for the job. I sort of remember Taylor from Virginia Tech. He's been Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore for the past 4 seasons. I believe this will be his first career start on Sunday. I guess we'll see how that goes. I don't exactly know what to expect of the new look Bills. Probably a strong defense built to get after the quarterback. It fits what Rex usually tries to do as well as what the Bills were doing last season (They lead the NFL with 54 sacks last season). It will be a good test for Brady and his offensive line. Center Bryon Stork is on the non-season ending IR with a concussion and UDFA David Andrews from Georgia did well filling in for him last night.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tom Brady freed, Judge Berman did his job

Tom Brady is one of the best players in NFL history. And now he's defeated the NFL in court (in the court the NFL chose). Although it's more accurate to say that the NFL defeated itself.

Some of the key points Judge Berman made in his decision are:

That Brady was never given notice that "general awareness" of football deflation and/or not cooperating with an investigation would result in a 4-game suspension.

That during the appeal process, Brady's camp was never given access to Jeff Pash.

That steroid usage was not comparable to general awareness of ball deflation.

Judge Berman started this appeal proceeding by forcing the NFL to shed its cloak of BS arguments for suspending Brady. What the League was ultimately left with was relying on its near absolute authority to discipline players, granted to the League by the CBA. But with that authority must come responsibility to do that fairly and consistently. Which the NFL didn't do. The League didn't notify players that they might be suspended for a quarter of the season for such a transgression. And the League didn't adhere to its own process when it denied Brady's lawyers the chance to question Jeff Pash.

From the genesis of DeflateGate, the NFL has changed its reasoning for investigating/punishing Brady. At first it was his general awareness, then his lack of cooperation. Then the destruction of his phone was the impetus behind suspending Brady. And in front of Judge Berman, the NFL decided to equate its PED policy with its new PSI policy, and also claim they had absolute power to discipline players.

Their lack of consistency ultimately cost them this case.

Roger Goodell and the NFL did more to lose this than Pete Carroll did to lose the Super Bowl.

Goodell and Mike Kensil were vindictive against the Patriots. But it was Tom Brady who has been vindicated.

-The Captain

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cherington Out, Dombrowski In

This is a bad season. The Red Sox were among the worst teams in baseball for the second year in a row. Naturally, some heads were going to have to roll. Although Ben Cherington was apparently given the option of keeping his job under Dombrowski, it seemed pretty clear that he was being pushed out the door. He caught lightning in a bottle with a few veteran band-aids, he built up the farm system; but none of that makes up for the product on the field the past two seasons. Alex Cora made the analogy that Cherington was 1 for 4 with a home run. It's not a bad analogy, but I don't think it captures how bad the other 3 seasons were. It would be like if he hit a home run in one at bat and the other 3 times he hit into inning ending double plays. With the financial resources available to Cherington and the Red Sox they should be in the mix for a championship every year. In 2013 all of Cherington's moves worked out better than anybody could have anticipated, but since then?

Hanley Ramirez is hitting for good power, but there isn't much else positive you can say about him this season. His transition to playing left field has been a disaster.

Pablo Sandoval is having the worst year of his career and is looking like a fat waste of money.

Allen Craig is an epic level disaster so bad we had to send him down to the minors. We haven't seen him back up since despite trading away our starting first baseman.

Rick Porcello was the free agent we got with the most potential, we gave up the most to get him and made the biggest commitment to him. He's been a trainwreck.

Joe Kelly won his last 3 starts, but it has still been a very bad season for Kelly.

Wade Miley is mediocrity incarnate.

Justin Masterson is washed up. I don't know if a big league team will give him a shot next season.

Rusney Castillo is still a work in progress, but he's not like Moncada, Betts or Bogaerts. He's 28. He's not REALLY a prospect, he was supposed to have a bigger impact by now.

I don't think a single one of these has worked out in the way he was hoping. There's still time for some of these guys to make good, but for a lot of them the outlook is grim. On top of that, a lot of the guys who had great years in 2013 regressed back to the mean. Mike Napoli had a terrible year and Shane Victorino was perpetually injured.

All in all I have mixed feelings about Cherington leaving. I'll appreciate 2013 and how he protected and built up the farm system, but I'll also despise how far this team fell short of expectations and some of the seemingly glaring errors in how it was built.

In his place will be the new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski.

Dombrowski has an impressive resume. He built the Marlins team that won the World Series in 1997 when John Henry was still the owner. Although he had moved on to the Detroit Tigers, the Marlins team that won the World Series in 2003 was won largely with players acquired by Dombrowski. He initially struggled in Detroit as the 2003 Tigers had the worst record in AL history at 43-119, however, he would built up the team and won 2 AL pennants.

It's not a bad track record for Dombrowski and he has worked under John Henry previously with the Marlins. It will be interesting to see what Dombrowski can do with the financial resources and farm system he will have at his disposal with the Boston Red Sox.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DP was 100% right about Goodell, and I owe him an apology

DP was right about the tyranny and wickedness of Roger Goodell. I won't compare Goodell to Hitler, because I think Hitler was smarter. But let's compare Goodell to the British in the Revolutionary War. I was one of those Americans who didn't care about what Goodell was doing, so long as it didn't affect me. Punish Steelers players for next to nothing? Who cares? Go after the Saints for paying bounties? Good job! I hate the Saints.

And with each victory, especially Goodell's victory over the NFLPA during the lockout, Goodell's power increased. Which actually is similar to Hitler in the late 1930s and early '40s. And similar to Hitler, it's impossible to attack or even criticize Goodell without attacking the League as a whole. And similar to Hitler, they use propaganda and state media (ESPN) to spread false and sensationalized information.

Looking back on BountyGate, I'm not sure what to believe now. What if some of that information was fabricated?

And the punishments were wildly inconsistent. The Ray Rice "investigation" was a joke. The NFL just wanted that story to go away. And they nearly got away with it. If that video hadn't been leaked, Rice would have played in 14 games last year for the Ravens. Think about how close the NFL came to getting away with that story being quiet and forgotten.

How many other stories have also gone quiet and forgotten? How many bounties paid but not looked into? How many balls tampered with, but not punished? How many wives and girlfriends beaten? How many women raped?

Goodell and the NFL are selective with their investigations and punishments. They play favorites with certain clubs and owners. They have no consistent set of principles to support how they enforce justice, on or off the field. As stupid as Goodell is, he's a master manipulator. He isolates teams that make "the shield" look bad, gets the support of the 31 other clubs, and then goes after the offender.

DP saw Goodell for what he was, and so did the Steelers. And had more people listened to him and to them, then this DeflateGate mess doesn't happen.

But we didn't listen. We dismissed them as paranoid or "butt hurt." We thought they were radicals. When it was Goodell who was the radical the whole time.

Sorry, DP.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Can't Stand It

The most obnoxious sensitive fans are once again being the most obnoxious sensitive fans and I can't stand it.

I have been beating the Fire Goodell campaign long before he decided to come down on the Patriots and the Patriots fans were the first one to say, "Yea, even though there is still circumstantial evidence against the Saints, they still deserve to be crushed unfairly and over the top" and many other instances as well.

Now this whole conspiracy thing that Patriots fans have come up with in their mind is making me fucking puke.

Now, do I think Goodell went way too far with these punishments.... hell yea. But did the Patriots do something shady... most likely.

If the Patriots didn't feel they did something wrong why would Kraft take the fine? Don't tell me the whole, "he thought it would help out Brady" nonsense either. If you truly believed that there was no wrongdoing done, why would you ever and I mean EVER take such a large penalty... it makes no fucking sense. Or Kraft is a fucking moron, but based on how he turned the Patriots around into a successful gazillion dollar business, he obviously knew something was up.

Now comes Tom Brady. I get he showed some text messages, but why on earth would he destroy his phone with this whole process going on. The smells bad. There is no reason to do it other than if your being a little child to do something so dumb. If he did nothing wrong, there is no reason to hide anything.

Also, one of the ball boys nickname was the deflator.....

But now we are coming to this big court case in Goodell vs Brady is officially happening. However, say the ruling is turned around, does that really mean anything?

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens weren't found guilty, yet people still consider them cheaters.

Ben Roethlisberger and Jameis Winston were never found guilty, yet people still call them rapists.

The list goes on and on, but you know what...

The Patriots did something shady, whether this court case reverses Goodell's decision or not, they did.

So stop blaming the Jets, Mike Kensil, the Colts, Goodell, etc and for once ask yourself, "Why do controversies surround New England more than other football teams?"... the answer is... they do stuff to put themselves in them.

When idiots conspire: How the meatheads running the NFL sabotaged their own conspiracy to hurt the Patriots

DeflateGate. Like Brett Favre, every time this story seems about to go away, it comes back.

The more we learn about DeflateGate, the clearer it becomes that high ranking NFL officials were hell bent on crucifying the Patriots. But they were careless and stupid with their conspiracy. And they underestimated the willingness of one man to fight; one of the most competitive and mentally toughest athletes in the history of sports: Tom Brady.

The false details in the Mortensen tweet launched this story into orbit. Despite pleas from the Patriots, the NFL didn't correct the leak. They allowed inaccurate information to be the basis of the biggest sports story of the year. The true pressure measurements were revealed 106 days later in the Wells Report.

But whoever leaked the inaccurate details to Mortensen, and whoever decided not to correct them, should have known that at some point the truth would come out. And people would ask questions about the NFL's motives behind the leak and their decision not to correct it.

The Mortensen tweet has become irrelevant as evidence against the Patriots. But in the case against the NFL, it's Exhibit A.

Why fill the Wells Report with so much shoddy science and desperately convoluted logic? The Wells-Pash Report didn't make the NFL's case, it undermined it. For example, referee Walt Anderson's recollection of which pressure gauge he used pre-game, was refuted based on a shaky scientific argument that relied on Anderson's recollection of the Colts' balls' pre-game pressures. So Anderson's memory was deemed unlikely to be true, based on the reliability of his memory. Why allow that to be published?

The Wells Report was never about finding truth, it was about finding guilt. It didn't make the case against the Patriots or Brady, it helped start the case against the NFL.

The League's motives in DeflateGate became clear when the Patriots and Tom Brady were severely punished. The team in part for previous rules violations (SpyGate). And Brady for being "generally aware," and for not handing over his cell phone.

Did Troy Vincent and the NFL do any research into their own precedents? Didn't they remember Brett Favre being fined $50k in 2010 for not turning over his cell phone? Or 2009 when a Jets equipment staffer was suspended for tampering with a kicking ball, but the kicker wasn't punished at all, or even investigated?

Why was the NFL so harsh with the punishments? Imagine if the NFL had just fined Brady. This story might have gone to sleep long ago. But just fining Brady was unacceptable. Why?

The motives for harshness and revenge against the Patriots are abundant. Goodell wanted to rebuild his reputation as League Sheriff. Former Jets president Mike Kensil's motives are obvious. The Ravens were infuriated about ineligible receivers the week prior. A number of other teams think the Patriots are pathological cheaters. Supported by a handful of owners, the same executives who leaked fake air pressures to Mortensen were likely the same people who pressured for and had the power to enforce the harshest possible punishment.

Brady became the scapegoat. The NFL needed a specific villain to blame. Witch hunts need a witch. Pinning such a huge scandal on two no-name team employees wouldn't satisfy.

Brady was singled out because he was mentioned in texts. Because he refused to hand over his phone. And if he appealed, the NFL knew they could have their Meathead in Chief Goodell hear the appeal and then deny it. So he'd be compelled to settle (and admit guilt) or go all the way to Court.

This was their opportunity to sink their teeth in. So they did. Revenge, paranoia, reputation, all motives were satisfied by the severe punishments.

The NFL thought Patriots would accept it. And they were right about that. Bob Kraft accepted the loss of draft picks and the $1 million fine. Kraft's only recourse was to sue the League, and Goodell correctly predicted that Kraft wouldn't.

But the NFL miscalculated when they messed with Tom Brady. Big time. They completely underestimated him. Which is their most monumental mistake in this comedy of errors. Many have underestimated Tom Brady. And he's proven them all wrong.

The NFL execs and owners behind this conspiracy didn't plan this through. They didn't realize that false information leaked out would one day be proven false. They didn't realize that the bad science and flimsy logic of the Wells Report would be used more often as evidence against the NFL as opposed to evidence against Tom Brady.

And they didn't realize that a 6th round draft pick out of Michigan who fought and won a roster spot, then fought his way up a depth chart, then fought and won 4 Super Bowls, would fight and be able to beat them.

-The Captain

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Roger Goodell and the NFL crave headlines, not justice

"Tom Brady destroyed his phone" is the latest salacious and headline hungry statement/leak that the NFL has disbursed in its efforts to make Brady look as guilty as possible, and to make Roger Goodell look like the punisher of the wicked. This was never about PSI, it was about perception: Goodell's perception as the strict disciplinarian, and the perception that some owners around the NFL have of the Patriots getting away with cheating.

Brady destroyed his phone. He destroyed his phone? He destroyed his phone! Why did he destroy his phone? Who destroys their phone? Why would an innocent man destroy his phone? The dramatic phrasing was intended to make headlines. The NFL didn't just break news, they wrote the first line of every story.

How many times did you hear the word "destroy" in the past 24 hours? The NFL could have said the phone was "replaced," or "disposed of." They could have said the memory card was destroyed, or erased, or swiped. Nope, the whole phone was destroyed. And if Brady had agreed to admit his guilt and accept a reduced suspension, the NFL would have kept his destroyed phone a secret.

Think about. This "damning" evidence, this so-called "smoking gun" was something the NFL was happy to keep under wraps, so long as Brady gave them the confession they wanted.

The NFL lacks evidence, so they deploy innuendo. Whatever facts there are behind Brady's phone being disposed of become irrelevant. How did he destroy it? Was it physically destroyed or just dismantled and the information erased? Was it smashed to bits or dropped in water or blown up or melted or hurled into space?

We don't know the details, and the NFL doesn't care to know them. Details are important when seeking justice. And their lack of importance in the DeflateGate maelstrom demonstrates how uninterested in truth and justice Goodell and the NFL have been since this whole thing started.

The investigation into DeflateGate was only secondarily about trying to find out if the Patriots deflated footballs, and if so, under whose authority and with whose knowledge. The primary goal of the Wells Report, and of every leak and NFL statement, has been to make Brady and the Patriots look as guilty as possible.

A referee claimed to use one gauge to test footballs, but his memory was refuted by the Wells Report, because it destroyed the NFL's case. His memory was deemed faulty based on the reliability of his own memory. I'm not making that up. You can't make that up. His recollection of the Colts' ball's pressures was used as the basis of the argument to refute his recollection of which pressure gauge he used. So his memory is unreliable, based on an argument that relied on his memory.

Remember the leak that broke this entire story? The Patriots were said to have been caught with 11 of 12 footballs 2+ pounds of pressure under the legal minimum. The footballs were indeed below the 12.5 minimum, but not by as much as the leak and the ensuing story claimed. They were, according to one gauge, deflated about as much as the Laws of Physics would predict. But that fact wasn't revealed for months. Even though the NFL knew the leak was inaccurate.

Information with incorrect details was leaked, reported, and then was used as a foundation for the biggest story of the 2014 NFL season. The NFL knew the leaked information was inaccurate, and did nothing to correct it.Why?

Why be so wary of details? Because details don't matter in a witch hunt. Details don't matter when the owners of the Colts and Ravens want to see the Patriots pay, and the Commissioner wants to appear to be a hardass. Sheriff Goodell needed to prove that he's a man of law and order. So with the backing of a group of frustrated owners, the witch hunt and trials by fire began.

This has been a smear campaign from its outset. Incorrect facts were leaked and went uncorrected for months. The Wells Report was based on faulty physics and convoluted logic. And now this bombshell about a phone, which was never going to be given as evidence anyway, being "destroyed," is the latest effort by the NFL to crucify Brady in public, while ignoring any truth or details which might reveal what actually happened.

-The Captain

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tom Brady was stupid to destroy his phone, but I understand

The NFL for some reason needed a few weeks to come to the decision to do nothing about Tom Brady's suspension, and keep it at 4 games. This was announced literally on the eve of training camp, with Patriots players scheduled to report on Wednesday the 29th and Brady himself already in Foxborough. The bombshell with the announcement is the fact that Tom Brady evidently destroyed his cell phone during the investigation.

Frankly, the cell phone being destroyed is impossible to defend or explain. The NFL using the word "destroyed" is intentionally dramatic. It conjures an image of Tom Brady blowing his phone up with an M-80, or dropping it in a river in the wilderness. What actually happened to the phone is probably less theatrical. How many of us actually know what happens when we trade in or donate our phones?

Even if the phone was the smoking gun, you still don't destroy it. You just refuse to hand it over. You accidentally leave it next to a magnet, or drop it in the pool, or lose it while hiking, or let Gronk spike it into oblivion as an apparent joke.

It was not smart for Brady to have his phone "destroyed."

But I understand it. The witch hunt atmosphere created by the NFL's leaks and the media firestorm around this story would make it difficult to consistently make calculated and correct decisions. Brady couldn't simply admit guilt for this misdemeanor because it was being treated like a felony. Admitting guilt would tarnish your legacy and everything you've worked for your entire life, not to mention demoralize your teammates before the biggest game of their lives. Brady couldn't be honest so all he could do was shape, twist, and hide the truth as best as he could.

Some people are good at hiding the truth and deceiving people. You don't even notice them. Others aren't very good at it.

I'm not going to defend Tom Brady as innocent. I am going to point out how absurd this story has been from the beginning. This was a set-up. This was Brady getting caught stealing a candy bar and getting charged with grand theft auto, because some elements of the NFL want to see him pay.

Brady evidently broke a rule, got caught, and didn't come clean. He should be punished for violating the initial rule, which was an equipment violation. Should he be punished for obstructing "justice?" I'm not so sure. The NFL didn't seem to be seeking justice, it seemed to be seeking to destroy his reputation. That's vengeance, not justice.

-The Captain

Pedro Martinez is greatness beyond greatness

Pedro Martinez was by far the best thing going during the Great Boston Sports Depression between Larry Bird and Tom Brady. Before Boston teams won Super Bowls and World Series, all we fans could be proud of was a skinny, cocky, unbelievably dominant Dominican pitcher.

It can be difficult to remember the mindset we had in the late '90s and very early 2000s, before the Patriots won the Super Bowl, before the Curse was Reversed, before Boston teams claimed 9 titles in 14 years. And with the abundance of Boston sports heroes in this young century (Brady, Ortiz, Garnett, Thomas, and so on), we kind of forget how special Pedro Martinez actually was, and how for a few years he provided us with that feeling of joy and sense of superiority once every 5 days. So let's remind ourselves of his greatness beyond greatness.

From 1997 to 2000, he was perhaps the best pitcher of all-time
At the height of the most offensive era in MLB history, Pedro Martinez was by far the best pitcher. From '97 to 2000 he won 77 games (19.25 per season). He struck out 1,153 (288.25 per season) and had a 2.12 ERA. In those 4 homerun heavy seasons, he only allowed 68 balls to leave the park. He allowed an impossibly low 9 homeruns in 1999, only 0.34% of the total homeruns hit by AL batters.

He won 3 Cy Youngs in this stretch, and probably should have won an MVP. But we'll get to that later.

In 2000 he struck out almost 9 times as many batters (8.88) as he walked. In 1999 he allowed 0.4 HR per every 9 IP. In '97 the barely 170 pound Pedro threw 241.1 innings. In 2000 his WHIP of 0.737 set the record for the lowest of all time, 0.032 lower than Guy Hecker's WHIP in 1882. Yes, Pedro broke a 118-year-old record. And he did that in the steroid era, in a league with a DH.

While sluggers were smashing Roger Maris' single-season HR record, Pedro was challenging Bob Gibson's ERA record (which was set on a higher mound, and with pitchers batting). Pedro Martinez did more to limit offense in the steroid era than mandatory PED testing eventually did.

His playoff performances were legendary
In Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS against Cleveland, Pedro Martinez pitched 6 no-hit innings of relief in the deciding game of the series. Despite his arm being worn out and his fastball considerably slowed, he held an offense that had scored 1,000+ runs that season, to zero hits. Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, the Alomars, Kenny Lofton, all of them failed to get hits off Pedro. He entered the game when it was 8-8, the Sox won 12-8, and claimed their first playoff series since 1986.

Then in Game 3 of the '99 ALCS, Pedro beat the Yankees with 7 scoreless innings. He only allowed 2 hits and struck out 12. It was New York's only loss of the post-season.

He could have been the winner of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS if not for poor management. Had Grady Little gone to the bullpen to finish the game, few people in Boston would know who Aaron Boone was. Pedro was brilliant for 7 innings, then began to falter in the 8th. Had he been removed, the Red Sox probably would have gone to the World Series, and had a good chance against the Marlins.

He was a big part of the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series
Since we tend to associate Pedro so much with the pre-2004 era of Red Sox history, we forget how vital he was to the Sox winning the World Series in '04. Not only with his pitching, but just with his presence. His presence on the team made the Sox a contender, and the new ownership parlayed that in their pursuit of players like Curt Schilling. Pedro was also part of that team's loose yet confident attitude.

He wasn't that great in the 2004 regular season. And in the ALCS against the Yankees, he struggled. However in Game 3 of the World Series he threw 7 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits. This was a great post-season start in the most important series in Red Sox history this side of 1920, and Pedro's pitching was a major contribution.

He should have won the MVP in 1999
Apart from Pedro and Nomar, the 1999 Red Sox weren't very good. Jose Offerman, Wilton Veras, Damon Buford, Darren Lewis, Reggie Jefferson, Ed Sprague. The #2 pitcher was Bret Saberhagen, when he was healthy. Then there was Mark Portugal, Pat Rapp, and Brian Rose. John "Way Back" Wasdin was still out in the bullpen. It wasn't a very good team. Yet they won 94 games. They were 25-5 (.833) when Pedro started, and 69-63 (.523) when he didn't. I'd say he was quite valuable to that team's success.

He had an ERA of 2.07, struck out 313 batters, had a WHIP of 0.923, was AL Pitcher of the Month 4 times, and led the AL in WAR. He only allowed 9 homeruns in 213.1 innings (1 per 23.7 innings). He came in 2nd in MVP voting, behind Ivan Rodriguez. Why? Because some people didn't think a pitcher should be eligible for the MVP because they're not "every day players." Pedro got one more 1st place vote than Rodriguez did. But some voters felt that the Cy Young was for pitchers, the MVP was for positional players, and left Pedro off their ballot. So I-Rod won.

He threw a perfect game, but not really, but really
In 1995, Pedro retired every batter he faced for 9 innings. However, after 9 innings the Expos and Padres were still tied 0-0. The Expos scored in the 10th, but Pedro allowed a double in the bottom of the inning and was relieved. So he didn't even get credit for a shutout, let alone a perfect game.

Nevertheless, he still pitched 9 perfect innings, still retired 27 straight batters from 1st to 9th. And a ball from the game is in Cooperstown with other balls from no-hitters.

Pedro was often on teams that didn't support him very much. We can only imagine how much higher his winning percentage would be if he had more help.

The abundance of absurd but true Pedro stories
Remember his performance in the '99 All-Star Game? He struck out Hall of Famer and 12 time All-Star Barry Larkin. Then Larry Walker, who was hitting .382 at the time. Pedro then punched out Sosa and McGwire, who had combined for 136 homeruns the year before and hit 128 in '99. After Matt Williams reached on an error, Pedro struck out Jeff Bagwell and I-Rod threw Williams out trying to steal second. The most impressive 2 innings pitched of all time.

2,222. That's how many homeruns were hit by guys Pedro struck out in the 1999 All-Star Game

Remember the 17 strikeout one-hitter against the Yankees?

Remember the no-hit bid against the Devil Rays after he hit Gerald Williams with a pitch?

Remember when the Red Sox played a 19 inning game in Seattle in 2000, then Pedro saved the bullpen the next day with an efficient complete game? It was one of his most impressive demonstrations as a pitcher. He only struck out 7 (he was averaging 11.8 K/9 that year), instead pitching to contact and inducing 14 groundballs (including 2 GIDP) to keep his pitch count low. He won the game, and saved the beleaguered bullpen.

His stuff was amazing. And when his fastball gradually lost its ferocity, his accuracy and pitching acumen allowed him to remain elite. He was an artist. He was one of the smartest players in the game and one of the goofiest. He had a small body but big balls. He dominated, he enraged, he impressed, he intimidated, the game revolved around him when he was pitching.

You absolutely had to watch his starts. You coveted tickets to see him pitch in person at Fenway. Each start had a realistic chance to be a no-hitter or a 20 strikeout game. You learned Spanish because of him. Pedro didn't just dominate the game, he dominated the lives of Boston sports fans.

-The Captain

Monday, July 27, 2015

There's Nothing Going On In Boston Sports Right Now

The Celtics have made no significant moves. They took Zoran Dragic off the Heat's hands and ate some salary to get a 2nd rounder. This is not the activity of a team looking to contend. It's a fine move if you don't plan to contend, but it eats up cap space for draft picks. Get ready for Tankapalooza III: Return of the Tank. The sad part is this team might be too good to tank. They're caught in the middle, which is an awful place to be in the NBA. We have the Nets first rounder next year. Hopefully they bottom out and we'll get a lottery pick. I don't know how the Nets off season has been. They snuck into the playoffs on tie breakers at 38-44 last season. Vegas apparently has them at 250 to 1 to win the NBA Championship next year, which is the 4th lowest odds out there. By comparison the Celtics are 125 to 1, the Cavs are the favorites at 13 to 5 and the Hornets are the lowest at 350 to 1. They've got some protected picks from the Timberwolves and the Mavs too. Maybe the Mavs could suck enough to get a long shot lottery pick that wouldn't be protected. So we need them to suck, but not enough to push them out of that 8-14 range.

The Red Sox are awful. Worse than they were before. They're a full 12 games behind a fairly mediocre Yankees team. They'll be looking to sell of anything that's not bolted down at the deadline. It's amazing that a team can be this bad with so much payroll. I don't know who to blame for this shitshow. I suppose when it's this bad everybody gets a slice of the blame pie.

The Patriots added a CB finally. He's not very good though. Goodell and Brady met 5 weeks ago and still nothing from the NFL on the suspension. It'll probably get reduced, but not enough to avoid going to court over it. I think everybody's tired of this story at this point.

The Bruins made some moves that don't make much sense. They sent Dougie Hamilton out for what doesn't seem like enough in return. They signed Adam McQuaid for what seems like too much money. I don't know. The Bruins are really more the Captain's thing.

So that's why I'm not writing much.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Celtics Trade Gerald Wallace To Warriors For David Lee

This was a nice little move for the Celtics. Sort of a nice little win-win trade. The Warriors needed cap space and Lee had been pushed down the depth chart by Draymond Green. The Celtics needed a higher impact player than Gerald Wallace. Everybody got what they wanted from this deal. I wouldn't call this "fireworks", maybe little fireworks, like bang snaps.

I like these kinds of moves from Danny Ainge. He has a good ability to work the system to create something out of nothing. When he had a trade exception that was expiring he managed to facilitate Lebron's move to Cleveland and got picks and Tyler Zeller for his trouble. In this case he gave up a bit of cap space for a significant player upgrade.

I don't want to overhype David Lee. He's 32 years old. He's had some recent injury concerns. He's also a 2-time All-Star and made the All-NBA third team. I think he's the only player currently on the Celtics roster with an all-star selection. He's not a guy you can build around, but he's a solid piece. By all accounts he's a great teammate and he's played through injuries before, so he's shown some toughness.

There's nothing to get upset about here. It's a nice pickup. The only problem is that this move by itself doesn't do much to change where the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference pecking order. This move maybe turns them from a round 1 sweep by the Cavs into a round 2 loss in 5-6 games to the Cavs. It's a step in the right direction, but it's not nearly enough. They still lack that high end talent that could elevate them to contender status and this move keeps us firmly in the middle of the pack. As we learned last season, the middle is the last place you want to be as an NBA franchise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Brock Holt Selected To All-Star Game

To those not familiar, the MLB All-Star game requires at least one representative from every team on the roster. None of the Red Sox collected enough fan votes to be selected to the team, so Kansas City/American League Manager Ned Yost had to select a Red Sox player and selected Brock Holt. It's telling that this Red Sox team with a $184 Million opening day payroll ended up sending their utility man making ~$500,000 this season as their lone representative at the All-Star game because they HAD to pick somebody.

I suppose it's not entirely fair. If Dustin Pedroia was not hurt he has slightly better batting numbers than fan selection Jose Altuve. Altuve won the AL stolen bases/batting title last season, but Pedroia's got a few gold gloves and an MVP award. Whatever. Xander Bogaerts could possibly get the last roster spot if he beats out 4 other candidates in the final vote (one of the other candidates for the last spot is Yoenis Cespedes, why can't we have a slugger like that?). Still, it's funny that on a team with mega contracts, former all-stars, highly touted prospects and a massive fanbase they still had to force Ned Yost to pick a guy to get a Red Sox player on the team.

Former All-Stars on the Red Sox Roster:

Mike Napoli (1)
Dustin Pedroia (4)
Pablo Sandoval (2)
Hanley Ramirez (3)
Shane Victorino (2)
David Ortiz (9)
Clay Buchholz (2)
Wade Miley (1)
Justin Masterson (1)
Koji Uehara (1)
Alexi Ogando (1)
Allen Craig (1)

It's a big part of the question that I have regarding John Farrell's management. The talent is there, but almost nobody seems to be delivering on it. I don't mean to take anything away from Brock Holt. I think he's under appreciated and it's nice to see him get some recognition. An all-star selection will probably positively impact his future earnings, so good for him. I just wish some of the other "stars" on this team had played well enough that he wouldn't be going alone.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I like the US Women's Soccer team much more than the US Men's team

Team USA reclaimed the Women's World Cup on Sunday with an impressive 5-2 victory over Japan. The USWNT (US Women's National Team) was so dominant that they scored as many goals for Japan as the Japanese did. It was a perfect way to end the 4th of July weekend.

I like our women's team so much more than the men's team. And here's why:

The women win:
I don't expect the men's team to defeat the likes of Germany or Argentina and win the World Cup. But beat Ghana, please. I don't think that's asking too much. Beat teams that you're supposed to beat, and then don't act like it's a major achievement to beat them. It's embarrassing to be an American and be surprised that the US men's team barely beat Algeria.

The women won't settle for less than victory:
I hate when the men's team gets praised for losing a close game to Germany. Or ties Portugal, or loses to Belgium, and gets even more praise. There's no shame in losing to Germany, but it's not something to boast about either. After these World Cup games last year, American pundits lauded Team USA for not getting annihilated by the Germans, for scoring 2 whole goals against Portugal, and for taking Belgium to extra time. Why don't we just do what the Colts do and put up banners commemorating all of these glorious defeats? Since when do we celebrate losing in this country?

Unlike the men, the women's team won't get praise or glory unless they win. And that's the American way.

No Landon Donovan:
I hate Landon Donovan. Overrated, under-performing, and completely infatuated with himself. There's no doubt that he's the best American player of all-time. And he knows it. The thing is, being the best all-time for a country that didn't qualify for the World Cup for 4 decades isn't too amazing. It's like climbing the highest "mountain" in Kansas.

At the global level, Donovan simply wasn't that great. He's scored a couple of goals in World Cups, the biggest being against the mighty Algerians. Wow. For major European clubs he scored 2 goals in 28 games. Yet US Soccer people talk about him in reverence and awe. They worship Landon Donovan. Both Donovan and his fanatical supporters make the US men's team very annoying to watch.

In contrast, the USWNT had lots of star forwards in this tournament, but eventually went with a single forward lineup. Because teams win championships, not individuals. Good luck convincing Landon Donovan of that.

Less diving:
This probably also applies to all the other teams at the Women's World Cup, who seemed to dive less than all the teams in men's soccer. As well as all NBA teams. Maybe the women dive less because they feel more motivation to show their toughness and strength. Whatever the reason, it made watching the game more enjoyable.

They're hot:
This isn't sexist. Female sports fans get to cheer on their favorite male athletes while also getting turned on by them. How many women in New England get excited to see Gronkowski score a touchdown, then even more excited when he spikes the ball? Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, David Beckham, they've all been making female fans get flustered. So it's not sexist for me to enjoy seeing Alex Morgan score while also thinking about scoring with Alex Morgan.

In order to remain classy, I decided not to use one of the multitude of Tom Brady ball deflation jokes I came up with.

They're the best:
It's hard to be the best at something. Striving to be the best is what America is all about. We're a country that's simultaneously the fattest in the world AND wins the most Olympic medals. Everything we do, we want to be the best at it. And these women were clearly the best.

So congratulations to the USWNT for winning the World Cup. And thank you for being more likable than the men's team.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: Getty

The Red Sox Are Attempting to Lure Me Back With Competent Stretch

As you may recall, I have buried this team. I watched them die a horrible death, I buried them, I grieved and I've moved on. They've recently put together a nice stretch of baseball. If I didn't know this team better I might even mistake it for signs of life. They've won their last 3 series by winning 7 of their last 10 games. They took 2 out of 3 from the Rays, then 3 out of 4 from Toronto and finally 2 out of 3 from the Astros. Two AL East teams and the team with the most wins in the American League.

On paper, this sounds pretty good. Don't let that fool you though. This is still the same team that dug their own grave. They make careless errors that balance out their tremendous talent. Eduardo Rodriguez has been generally good, but he's still prone to the occasional inconsistencies of a rookie. Clay Buchholz has looked good lately, but his whole career has been a roller coaster ride. Rick Porcello has lost his last 7 decisions and his ERA has climbed over 6. Justin Masterson is back. Masterson managed to muddle through 5 innings in his return before getting shelled in his most recent start. He's probably washed up. Wade Miley is a middle of the rotation pitcher. No more. No less. Joe Kelly has been shipped back down to Pawtucket to work on his mechanics. It feels like a long way from starting in Game 3 of the World Series doesn't it? The bullpen is incredibly shallow beyond Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. I know what this team is and I'm going to let them stay buried.

Red Sox almost blow rubber game against Astros

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the Astros over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but the Sox blew Friday night's game. And they almost blew the rubber game on Sunday.

Hanley Ramirez (who didn't know the count at one point during Friday's loss, and stood at home plate after taking ball 4 until the umpire told him he'd walked) hit a 2-run homer on Sunday that won the game. (seriously though, how does a hitter not know the count, especially since there are big green and red lights in left field telling you how many balls and strikes there are?)

Ramirez's homerun came after Alexi Ogando surrendered the lead by allowing 3 runs off a pair of homers in the 7th. For some reason John Farrell didn't take Ogando out, even though this year he has struggled when throwing 25+ pitches (12.1 IP, 12 H, 7 ER in outings of 25+ pitches). Junichi Tazawa was evidently available, as he came in to pitch the 8th. So I really don't know why Farrell left Ogando in, or didn't have someone warming up.

David Ortiz was on base when Hanley homered. He drew a walk. Apart from that his afternoon was quite horrible. He struck out with 2 on and no outs in the 3rd. In the 5th he grounded out with runners on the corners. He's hitting .155 with runners in scoring position this year and that's inexcusable.

Ortiz was playing first base, which thankfully meant Mike Napoli was not in the lineup. Shane Victorino did go 0 for 3 as a heartfelt tribute to Napoli.

Hanley Ramirez had the big hit, but the working class hero of the game was Ryan Hanigan, who hit 3 singles, knocked in 2 runs, and walked.

Eduardo Rodriguez was okay. He held the Astros to 1 run, but his rising pitch count limited him to 5 innings. He struck out 8.

The bullpen is an issue. When every other part of a team struggled, sometimes it's hard to notice a bad bullpen. Now that the bullpen has leads to protect, we're starting to see how vulnerable and shallow it truly is. On Friday night the Sox were tied 8-8 in the 10th inning and were forced to send Noe Ramirez to the mound to make his Major League debut. He gave up 4 runs. This was after Breslow struggled, which was after Masterson made a horrible start.

I'm not dwelling on the negative. The Sox are 6 games out in the AL East. They just took 2 of 3 from a good Houston team. It would be a shame if this last ditch effort to fight for a playoff spot were undermined by a shaky bullpen, a manager who makes bad decisions, hitters who forget what the count is, fielders who forget how many outs there are, and baserunners who don't know when to steal and when not to.

Photo Credit: Steven Senne/Associated Press

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rick Porcello is product of Red Sox Front Office arrogance

The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello and then extended his contract because the 26-year old fit into the new philosophy recently developed by the Front Office. Instead of paying extra for pitchers over 30, and taking the risk of their performance falling off at the end of a contract, the Sox would target younger pitchers. These players wouldn't be as proven as the older pitchers, but that would actually make them a better investment, because that would make them less expensive. Furthermore, the potential upside for younger pitchers made them an opportunity, not a risk.

Compare this pitching philosophy with stock investments. Would you rather buy part of Facebook when it opened publicly, or when Mark Zuckerberg was still living in a Harvard dorm? Getting in early is less expensive, you get more for your money, and the sky is the limit for increased value.

John Henry and Larry Lucchino aren't "baseball people." They know their baseball intelligence isn't sufficient to beat the baseball people who run the 29 other teams. So they try to think outside of the diamond and gain an advantage using ideas like this investing strategy. Sometimes it works. These guys have built 3 World Series winners, after all. But with Rick Porcello, it hasn't worked.

Henry and Lucchino were drawn to Rick Porcello because of one number. Not his ERA or WHIP, not his WAR or K/9. It was his age. He was 26. He had 6 years of MLB experience. And he'd shown some signs that he could be a very good pitcher. So before he ever toed the rubber in a meaningful game with the Red Sox, his contract was extended for 4 years, paying him just a tick over $20M per year.

The deal would keep Porcello in Boston until he was 30. His prime years would be in a Red Sox uniform, but the Sox wouldn't have to worry about his performance falling off due to age.

The Sox dismissed doubts instead of considering them. Porcello had a career 4.30 ERA in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and in a division that didn't have many potent offenses. He only had one truly good season, and had shown inconsistency in his 6 Major League years. He had more seasons with an ERA over 4.50 (3) than with an ERA below 4.00 (2). His stuff wasn't amazing. And he pitched to contact, inducing groundballs, instead of amassing strikeouts.

These concerns probably didn't worry the Sox. If they had, they would have waited a few weeks before extending his contract. The issue of pitching to contact was likely dismissed as something that only outmoded and archaic "baseball people" would worry about, an antiquated notion of how the game should be played. And the statistical inconsistency was because Porcello was still a young man. He'd shown his potential in 2014 with 15 wins and a 3.43 ERA. The other seasons were part of his growth and development.

The Sox were so confident in Porcello's inevitable success, that they signed him as early as possible to avoid having to pay him more as his value increased. Henry and Lucchino probably imagined him having a 4-1 April, and then refusing to sign an extension. So they locked him up for 4 more years.

Unfortunately, the deal also made him untradeable. The Front Office didn't give themselves options if Porcello disappointed, or if he was good but the team disappointed, allowing him to be traded at the deadline. Investors should always give themselves options.

The assessment of Porcello wasn't the only mistake the Front Office made. The philosophy itself is flawed. Older pitchers cost more because their performance is proven. The risk with them is that their performance might fall off. You don't know how many good years you'll get. Younger pitchers also carry significant risk. There's a risk you might not get any good years at all.

The Sox paid a premium for Porcello's youth. Which is like paying someone extra for a product that hasn't been tested. They ignored obvious reasons to have second thoughts about extending his contract. They didn't try to find any reasons not to extend him. They built a philosophy based on their relative ignorance of baseball, then arrogantly assumed they were smarter than traditional baseball thinking.

It's okay to pay extra for something proven, especially something as rare and important as pitching. It's not okay to give someone who is killing your team a raise to $20M/year. But John Henry and Larry Lucchino thought they knew better than everyone else. Sometimes smart people do the dumbest things.

-The Captain

Friday, June 26, 2015

Danny Ainge NEEDS Some Fireworks This Offseason

The Celtics defied all expectations at the NBA draft last night and stood pat and made all four selections they held in this draft. There was lots of rumors swirling about moving up to get a potential star in a deep draft class. Apparently Danny tried to make a deal, but the price was too high. So we ended up with some guys. More guys than we can even fit on the roster currently. They're not bad guys, but they're just guys. You might even say later on "hey, that guy was a pretty good guy for pick #16", but pretty good doesn't win championships in the NBA, MVP's do. Some people like to point to Golden State as something other than the big 3 model that can win a championship. Sure, but they still had Steph Curry with his shiny new MVP trophy. It probably didn't hurt that Lebron was missing both Kevin Love AND Kyrie Irving in the finals, but that's neither here nor there.

It sucks that the Celtics got punished for being a borderline playoff team as potential all-stars slid down the board. That's our payoff for the opportunity to be Lebron's round 1 bitch. Guys who were initially pushing for the playoff run like DP and Bill Simmons have seen what getting stuck in the middle looks like and have changed their tunes. That aside, I don't know who to blame. Danny Ainge did his job. He got this team down to developmental players and spare parts. On paper this team should have tanked. Am I supposed to get mad at Brad Stevens for being too good of a coach? Am I supposed to get mad at the players for playing too well? They've got careers to build.

The Celtics HAVE to make a big move this offseason. Danny has been patiently awaiting an opportunity to make such a move. The fan base has been patient while he's sold off everything to build for the future. That patience has run out. The silver lining of making the playoffs was supposed to be the added selling point of Brad Stevens and a successful team that's lacking a superstar. Danny needs to woo a big free agent or make a big trade or both. He's got everything he needs to make a move and it's time to pull the trigger on something. I can't root for another tanking season. I think as currently constructed the Celtics are still a borderline playoff team and there's nobody left that makes sense to trade off. Danny needs to use all this capital and make a move to bust us out of the middle. I don't know what that deal is, but that's why I'm not the general manager of the Boston Celtics. Make it happen Danny.

DP Celtics Draft Recap


The Celtics got Terry Rozier (pg) Louisville at 16, RJ Hunter (sg)  Georgia St at 28, Jordan Mickey (PF) LSU at 33 and Marcus Thornton (sg) from William and Mary at 45.

Before I get into this I want to say something.  If The Celtics picked RJ Hunter at 16 and Terry Rozier at 28, I would have nicer things to say, however, that's not the way it worked out.  

From everything I have read on Terry Rozier is that he is an undersized pg/sg combo (6-2) who is an incredible defender, a player that can get to the hoop, but doesn't necessarily shoot well or distribute well..... remind you of someone?  My problem with this pick is that we already have a cluster at the guard spot, so wy pick another one.  With everyone I seemingly wanted off the board, they had little to pick from (maybe that's why they shouldn't have made the playoffs??  Mike?? My Bad), but they still had Bobby Portis on the board who is a rebounding machine and Jerian Grant if you wanted to take a PG.  They say that the Celtics fell in love with him and many players when they were working out refused to do so if Rozier was defending him.  I don't like the pick, I don't feel as if it was a need, however, maybe Danny found something, I hope I'm worng.

I love the RJ Hunter pick.  I like it because it fits a need.  The Celtics have a bunch of players that can't shoot.  RJ Hunter brings you that.  He will open the floor for our slashers and give us a legit 3 point shooter.  He may not be the most athletic dude, however, neither are a lot of shooters.  Plus, it will be great to see if his dad goes to many games and tears his ACL.  

I'm not going to put much stock into the 2nd rounders.  Mickey is a good rebounder but 6-8 and I doubt the 2nd guy makes the team.  

I give the Celtics a C-.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dear South, the Confederate flag is a symbol of losing to the North (for a horrible cause)

The Confederate flag is already being removed from state property in some Southern states. This open letter to the South addresses people who view the flag as a symbol of their heritage, and why they should reconsider doing so.

An aside to Northerners who display this flag (just go to CountryFest at Gillette Stadium in August to see what I mean), you really don't have any excuse or reason to brandish a Confederate flag. A Southerner can claim this flag as heritage (as misguided as that is), you can't. Stop using it.

Dear South,
You lost the Civil War, South. To be fair you never had much of a chance. The North had more people, more industry, a navy, an economy that wasn't based on exporting cotton. In college football terms, North vs. South was Ohio State vs. Arkansas-Little Rock. As Shelby Foote (Civil War historian and Southerner) said "The North fought that war with one hand behind its back." You were fighting against a much stronger force and you lost.

There's no shame in that, but there's not much to be proud of either. The South being proud of the Confederate States losing the Civil War to the Union is like Tulane celebrating a loss to Auburn. A loss from 150 years ago. Who cares? I mean, who would want to raise flags or banners that are reminders of their defeat?

And this was not a close loss, either. At halftime the South was still in the Civil War, maybe even leading it. But after Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863, the North pulled out a commanding lead. Atlanta was burned, Richmond was leveled, Sherman shredded South Carolina, the Southern economy collapsed, food grew scarce. The South was so desperate at the end that they armed black slaves to fight, alongside old men and young boys.

The South led the Civil War 17-14 at halftime, but the North wound up winning 77-20. It was a blowout. Not something to be proud of.

Southern soldiers fought valiantly. Southern generals like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were strategic geniuses. But they fought for a stupid cause inspired by a horrible institution. The idea of individual states having the right to ignore the Federal government is moronic. Leaving the country over that issue is something an immature child would say to his father. "I don't have to follow the family rules because I'm leaving the family."

The inspiration behind this stupidity was even worse: the preservation of slavery. The South was afraid that Lincoln and his fellow Republicans, backed by the growing size and power of the North, were a threat to the Southern economy and culture, both of which were based on slaves.

The South had 80+ years from the Declaration of Independence to the 1860s to figure out how to modernize and move on from slavery. The Industrial Revolution happened, but instead of building factories the South grew more dependent on slaves to pick cotton, which was sent to textile mills in the North and in Britain. So as the North moved into the modern era, the South moved further away from it, into a feudalistic aristocracy dominated by wealthy landowners.

The South chose to justify slavery as something morally right, instead of trying to grow out of it. Slave owners convinced themselves that they were taking care of inferior subhumans, conveniently in exchange for back-breaking labor that made the slave owners monstrously rich.

And when the North threatened to be the South's moral conscience, the South got scared. They decided to leave the country. The South seceded because they were worried the North would politically force them to do the right thing.

Then the South started a war against the North. Because the South wanted to protect its right to own other human beings.

The Confederate flag doesn't represent the valor or bravery or honor of the men who fought for the South. Just like the Nazi flag doesn't represent the bravery of German soldiers in World War II. I'm not comparing the Confederates to the Nazis. One was a group of people who felt that they were racially superior to another group, and they could do whatever they wanted to that inferior group regardless of how any outsiders felt about it. The others were Nazis.

I've seen the slogan "heritage, not hate" to describe the Confederate flag. I've heard the flag being defended as a symbol of the South and of Southern culture. But is it a symbol of the whole South, or just the white South? The flag doesn't seem to have been accepted by most black Southerners as a symbol of "heritage" or of their region. How it can symbolize heritage and culture if a large portion of the population don't identify with it, and many despise it?

By definition, the flag is a symbol of divisiveness. It was a symbol of states that tried to divide themselves from the rest of the country. Furthermore, the flag's resurgence in popularity coincides with Southern resistance to the Civil Rights movement. The flag became a symbol of the white South's resistance to integration and voting rights.

That's George "Segregation Forever" Wallace, not William Wallace

Ultimately, the Confederate flag represents a war the South started and lost. Badly. It represents a cause that was foolish. It represents the fight to preserve a horrible and evil institution. Why is any of that anything to be proud of?

I love southerners. They're polite, they're passionate, they're patriotic, they're fun. Overall, Southerners should be proud of their heritage and history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, country music in Nashville, jazz in New Orleans, rap in Atlanta, Elvis, barbecue, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Bank of America, FedEx, Whole Foods, moonshine, NASCAR, NASA, CNN, SEC football, ACC basketball, Mark Twain, Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, William Faulkner, Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman...

So, South, you can focus on these great aspects of Southern heritage and history. Or you could continue to honor a flag that symbolizes utter defeat in fighting for a dishonorable cause.

Your Northern Friend

-The Captain

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rainier Ehrardt

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tom Brady's DeflateGate appeal should be televised by the NFL

Tom Brady vs. Ted Wells. Face to face. The Rings vs. The Report.

Tom Brady's appeal of his 4 game suspension will be heard Tuesday morning. And how much would you be willing to pay to watch it? Would you rather watch this hearing or a crappy Thursday Night Football game? Think of the ratings potential for this 4 hour DeflateGate hearing.

Why the hell isn't the NFL broadcasting this?

I'm not joking. Not completely, at least. The NFL should put this on TV. Put it on a tape delay so the League can prevent sensitive information from being aired (and also so that info can be leaked to reporters from Indianapolis). Have a halftime show with analysts from football, law, labor relations, and science to break down the hearing. Then on Tuesday night, broadcast a condensed 60 minute version of the hearing. The ratings will be through the roof.

Look at what's on the NFL Network Tuesday morning: a show about LaDainian Tomlinson, something about Dwayne Bowe as a rookie, an episode of Hard Knocks from 2010, and a countdown of the best Brady vs. Manning games.

Brady vs. Wells would get better ratings than any of that. Everyone in New England would be glued to their TVs, along many more people across the country. You could stream it online so people could watch at work.

This could be to the NFL Network what the OJ Simpson trial was to Court TV. Players appealing the arbitrary disciplinary decisions handed down by the NFL could become regular programming. And with Goodell's office in charge of discipline, there would be no shortage of material. There could even be highlights of historic appeals, packaged like NFL Films, with slow motion replays and invigorating classical music playing while a deep voice narrates the action.

Vegas could take bets on the results of appeals (if they haven't done so already):

Brady's suspension to remain at 4 games: 5 to 1
Brady's suspension reduced to 3 games: 3 to 1
Reduced to 2 games: EVEN
Reduced to 1 game: 5 to 2
Reduced to 0 games with a fine: 6 to 1
Reduced to 0 games, no fine: 10 to 1
Reduced to 0 games, no fine, Goodell resigns: 20 to 1

There could even be Fantasy Appeals Hearings, with lawyers, players, investigators, and arbitrators earning fantasy points. Think of what gambling and fantasy sports have already done for the ratings of NFL games. Add those elements to appeals hearings and you'll have high demand TV content 365 days a year.

This could be the biggest TV product created by the NFL since RedZone.

-The Captain