Tagged with "A"
Musings From The Hoodwood 11-25
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL College Football MLB NBA

This is sick...just sick...

Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the locals are preparing for a turkey feast

Leading Off: More Mad Money in MLB

Boston has the duckets and they are a spending them. The BoSox just dropped $88 Million on Hanley Ramirez the speedy former Dodger gives the Sawx some speed at the top of their lineup. But the Old Town team don’t seem to be done. It looks as if the Kung Fu Panda himself Pablo Sandoval will leave the Bay to ply his wares in Beantown and shore up a notoriously weak position on the Sox. Now keep in mind that the Sox are a year removed from winning the World Series but are coming off a last place 71-91 season will Ramirez and Sandoval make that big a difference or be another set of overpaid free agents in the 617…

NBA: Panic! In the 216 Are the Cavs in trouble?

It seems like the new big three in Cleveland aren’t clicking. The triumvirate of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving looked to be the latest version of the hired guns who would come together and dominate the league. There is a small problem though, the Cavs at a pedestrian 6-7 are looking disjointed. James looks frustrated, Love looks like he wants no part of the paint, Irving looks like he doesn’t want to defer to James and David Blatt looks like a lost European coach way way out of his league. Now the Cavs won their latest, routing the youthful Magic, but the Cavs are looking up in the East at the Wizards and the rampaging Raptors who may be the best team that you’ve never heard of. The Cavs are taking time to jell but in this league, jelling better happen fast or things might get ugly. The natives are already restless.

 

MLB: Second thoughts about the Stanton deal

The numbers on the Giancarlo Stanton are staggering to be sure, 13 yrs $325 million. But this might be a more savvy deal than you first thought. Consider this: The deal is heavily backloaded, so the first part of the deal is really team friendly, the still have him at a fairly cheap price during his ascendant years. The deal also has an opt-out after six years so if Stanton is not happy he can head to another market. The move also makes other young stars like Justin Upton and Bryce Harper in rival divisional cities use that contract as a bar set for them to peg against. Don’t you think that those teams might have to feel the price sting of keeping their young studs and maybe having to let them go might benefit the Marlins. The number is mind blowing to be sure, but the Marlins might be crazy like a fox

PHAT DAP/HEAD SLAP

Phat Dap

I gave dap to the awe inspiring performance of Melvin Gordon against Nebraska he broke a record that had stood for 15 years , but his record lasted barely 168 hours before Samaje  Perine rushed for an obscene 427 yards against Kansas Saturday. Here’s what is so cool, Gordon was super gracious when he found that his record was broken offering hearty congratulations to the Perine, who is a true freshman. Classy. Perine for his part when informed that he was closing on the record didn’t even want it, asking to be taken out to give others a chance to play. His offensive lineman heard this and demanded that Perine be put back in to break the record. He did and still unawares that he broke the record was carried off the field by his joyous linemen. Now Perrine had already ingratiated himself to his linemen by buying them boxes of pizza before the season started and after breaking the record let his linemen celebrate the record more than he did. According to Perine, he went back to his dorm and watched cartoons. That’s a player that Hoodwood can embrace!

Head Slap

To the Falcons Mike Smith who’s clock mismanagement may have critically damaged the Falcons playoff aspirations. Say what you want about the Falcons being the tied for first place team at 4-6 and the Browns being in last place at 6-4 but the Falcons were writing things late in the fourth quarter and were looking to take a late lead. With the ball nearing field goal range. Smith took an inexplicable timeout, and left the Browns with their full compliment of time outs which Brian Hoyer and the Dawgs took full advantage of to race back downfield on the subsequent possession and got close enough to bang through a field goal to steal a 26-24 win. The Falcons are shockingly still tied for first in the NFC South with a hideous 4-7 record while the Browns with the win are still tied for LAST in the AFC North.

Quick Hits

That catch by Odell Beckham Jr. Sunday night against the Pokes was SICK!!! Just ill to the maximum

Someone tell me why the Rays are overlooking a number of established managers like Dusty Baker, Ron Washington, Ron Gardenhire, and Kirk Gibson as well as noted younger talented skipper prospects like Barry Larkin,  Doug Mientkiewicz, and Doug Glanville  for bad retreads  like Manny Acta, Don Wakamatsu, Raul Ibanez and Kevin Cash?

Is Jameis Winston the most hated player in football?

The First game Tom Brady played in was a mop up loss in a Thanksgiving snoozer against the Lions in 2000, the Lions won 34-9, this year Brady was the dominant force in the game. The score 34-9 Pats….scary.

Is RGIII on the failed Heisman Heap?

Will the Sixers win ten this year? Will they win more than once a month?

Another scary figure…my odometer in front of the Hoodwood Hideout…

And later on that day I made a purchase for $7.77….kidding…

If Brian Hoyer keeps this up, Johnny Manziel will really be teaching those aerobic classes as Johnny Jammboogie

One week Jonas Gray was a pimp with 199 yards rushing, the next week he misses a meeting and doesn’t see the field at all…lesson here don’t cross Belichick.

Notre Dame??? Look Em up under the irrelevant column…again

My Fantasy Football team might just survive that three game November slide…

My beloved Bearcats gave up 50,41 & 55 points in 3 consecutive weeks, but have rebounded nicely to shutout UConn this past Saturday and that was a week after giving up 46 to East Carolina…go figure.

I despise Lasalle High School and their paid referees

Finally from the Hoodwood to your hood, have a safe, filling and joyous Thanksgiving! Until Next Post Fellow Sports fan

 

 

 

 

Boston Sports Weekend Wrap Up
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NBA BostonCeltics BostonCollegeEaglesBasketball NewEnglandPatriots NewEnglandRevolution BostonBruins BostonRedSox

 

Despite a lengthy blog entry yesterday, there is still a bunch of news and recaps for the various Boston area sports teams that I follow to talk about.

This would be due to the fact that a lot of the teams were in action yesterday.

So let's get started...

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

The pro soccer team beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals. I have no idea what that means but I'm guessing that is a good thing.

BOSTON BRUINS

I really haven't been following the Bruins too closely thus far. I know they are dealing with a ton of injuries. But you can check out this ESPNBoston.com report for the latest news on the team.

BOSTON RED SOX

After their 71-91 season, the Red Sox seem to be determined not to flounder their way through another season next year. While they still haven't gotten their heads out of their butts about signing a legitimate #1 starter (JON LESTER!), news reports today have the Sox signing Hanley Ramirez to a five year $90 million dollar deal. If he could ever get healthy, his bat could be a help in the lineup. But he won't be the shortstop with Xander Bogaerts pretty well established in the position.

The other news that broke today has Boston also picking up Pablo Sandoval for 5 years and nearly $100 million dollars. Given that Will Middlebrooks is not the answer at third base, Sandoval is of course going to take over at the hot corner.

BOSTON CELTICS

The Celtics dropped to 4-8 on the season after their 94-88 loss to the Portland Trailblazers. They led after the first quarter, but were behind in the fourth. They rallied to cut the deficit to 92-88 but failed to hit any shots in the last minute of the game and went down in a stinging defeat.

Jared Sullinger (photo below) had 19 points to lead the Celtics. He added 7 rebounds and 4 assists as well.

(Photo from Celtics Twitter Feed)

Jeff Green also scored 19 points while Rajon Rondo (both players pictured below) had 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.

 

(Photos from the Boston Globe game photo gallery)

The big question I have about the team besides how do they straighten things out and start winning some of these tight games they seem to find themselves in, is what the heck is going on with Kelly Olynyk? He played 27 minutes last night and had 8 rebounds but failed to score in the game. He only took 3 or 4 shots the entire time he was out of the court to begin with.

I think frustration is really starting to set in with the team and something is going to come to a boiling point if the losing continues unabated.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

As the Detroit Lions headed into Foxboro, they were the #1 ranked defense in the NFL and I was rather worried that the billing of their defense would shut down the Patriot offense. Oh me of little faith apparently.

The Patriots put a whipping on the Lions to the tune of 34-9. The win improves their record to 9-2 on the season.

The defense gave up field position to the Lions in the early part of the game, but limited the damage to just field goals. They sacked Matthew Stafford twice and picked him off once. And once the offense for the Patriots took over, it wasn't long before the Lions were playing a very demoralized brand of football.

Tom Brady (pictured below) threw for 349 yards with 2 TDs (to tight end Tim Wright) and got picked off once.

Besides Wright's (#81 pictured below) 2 TD catches, the Patriots pass receivers were in fine form, led by 11 catches for 89 yards by Julian Edelman. Brandon LaFell caught 9 passes for a team leading 98 yards.

With last week's game hero Jonas Gray benched for being late to practice on Friday, newly signed (for a second tour of duty) running back LeGarrette Blount (pictured below) was called on to lead the way in the ground attack. He had 78 yards on the day and scored twice. I'm still not happy about how he quit on the Steelers, but it is hard to be unhappy with a couple of extra TDs.

(All Photos from the Patriots.com Game Photo Gallery)

BOSTON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Men - The Eagles finished off their slate of games at the Puerto Rico Tip-off with a matchup against Dayton. Unfortunately, the Eagles never really seemed to get things going to really be a threat to win the game. Eddie Odio led BC with 11 points as the Eagles lost 65-53 to the Flyers. Olivier Hanlan (pictured below) was the only other Eagle in double figures with 10 points. Dennis Clifford had 6 points and a team high 9 rebounds as BC dropped to 2-3 on the season.

(Photo from Yahoo Sports game article)

Women - The women's team hosted Bryant University yesterday afternoon at Conte Forum. They improved to 3-1 on the season after a 90-79 victory. You can see some game highlights in the video below.

Kelly Hughes (pic below) was the team leader on offense with 23 points, including 5-8 from three point range. She added 9 rebounds and 5 assists as well.

Freshman Katie Quandt (pic below) fouled out of the game but finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds.

Nicole Boudreau added 13 points and 6 boards while Karima Gabriel (pic below) filled the stat line with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.

Gabriel has really been looking good on the court this year, which is a marked improvement from last season when after viewing her performances in person, I was very unimpressed. But if they can get this kind of production on a consistent basis from her, perhaps the team's fortunes will take a turn for the better once the ACC conference schedule gets started.

(All photos from the BC Facebook photo gallery)

You can see the post game press conference with coach Erik Johnson below.

Sunday Musings #174
Category: User Showcase
Tags: CollegeFootball NBA AlabamaCrimsonTide BostonCollegeAthletics CollegeBasketball NewEnglandPatriots Olympics NHL HighSchoolSports

 

While so glad I don't live in Buffalo...

 

Also, a special birthday shout out to the best player I ever coached. It was Allison's birthday yesterday.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Heading into last Sunday's game against the Colts, the Patriots were expected to be faced with a stiff test from the up and coming Indy team and their star QB Andrew Luck. At least that's what a lot of the talking heads were saying.

When it came time for the actual game to be played, the Patriots and their high scoring offense rolled to a 42-20 victory and showed that the Colts are not quite ready for primetime just yet. But it wasn't just the offense that made a big statement.

The defense had a solid day as well. In fact, the Patriots defense against the run was outstanding. It has been much maligned both this season and last when Jerod Mayo got injured and suddenly the Patriots couldn't stop a Pop Warner rush. When Mayo went out this year, the Patriots started out in the same ineffective style. But they've gotten better against the run and against Indy, they were outstanding.

Sure, the Colts aren't a huge run game team but when you hold a team to just 19 yards of rushing for an entire game, you can hold your head high. I know in a blowout the passing game becomes paramount but the Patriots stopped anyone that dared have the temerity to run against them. Hell, it was QB Andrew Luck with 15 total yards that was the rushing leader for the Colts when all was said and done.

Tom Brady had an unusual game. He passed for 257 yards and 2 TDs (one each to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright), but the talk after the game was the two interceptions he threw. While one was a routine pick off, the one he threw before the end of the first half that allowed the Colts to score and make it 14-10 going into halftime was an embarrassing throw that someone of Brady's caliber should have known better. It was going to be picked off from the second the ball left his hand. It was like some 3rd string lucky to be on the roster QB had thrown the pass.

And while all that is good, the real star of the game was running back Jonas Gray. He had one hell of a game and a week that he won't soon forget. For the game, the street free agent signing who had been cut by two other teams ran for 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. As a whole, the Patriots ran for 244 yards in the game. His rushing total was changed a couple days after the game when the Elias Sports Bureau discovered an error and he was then credited with 201 rushing yards.

Gray was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and found himself featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Of course, this being the Patriots, the team wasn't all that impressed with his accomplishments once the game was over. First came the news that the team had signed running back LeGarrette Blount after he was cut from Pittsburgh for being an immature pinhead crybaby. And when Gray overslept and showed up late to practice on Friday, the team sent him home.

The highs and lows of being Jonas Gray, all in one week.

The Patriots are now 8-2 and face the Detroit Lions today. It should prove to be a very interesting game as the Lions defense is both formidable and phenomenal.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The biggest off the field news this past week was the announcement that Florida fired head coach Will Muschamp. When you see how far Florida has fallen from their national title glory days, the firing is not really that much of a surprise. I will say that I was surprised that the school is "letting" Muschamp finish out the season. Usually in this type of situation, the school usually just cans the guy and names an interim coach. But I'm in favor of him finishing what he started, for good or for bad.

You can read more about the story HERE. SI.com's Andy Staples had this article on Muschamp's graceful exit.

Mass Maritime - My ex-player E.J. was named to the All-MASCAC 2nd team for the third season in a row. One of the local papers had another article on another of my ex-player's and his battle with cancer. You can read about Cody and his family HERE.

Alabama - The Crimson Tide had what amounts to an "off week" for them as they crushed Western Carolina 48-14. Blake Sims did get picked off once but he threw for two touchdowns. Backup QB Jake Coker also threw a TD.

Derrick Henry (pictured below) ran for 92 yards and 2 TDs (while losing a fumble). He also caught a 9 yard passing TD. Tyren Jones added another ground game TD.

In total, Alabama outgained the Catamounts 612-213. Their defense held Western Carolina to MINUS 8 yards rushing.

Alabama stands at 10-1 after this victory. They were #1 in the playoff rankings this week but given the relative low level of competition from their opponent, I don't know if they'll maintain that standing when the new rankings come out.

Receiver Amari Cooper left the game early after getting dinged up but reports have him saying that he'll be ready for next week's Iron Bowl game vs. Auburn.

Boston College - The Eagles were on the road this week with a national TV spotlight game against the #1 team in the country (in both football rankings and criminal activity), Florida State.

Leading up to the game, ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan had a profile of BC quarterback Tyler Murphy.

As for the game, I was so nervous that I found it hard to watch the game. And as it turned out I missed an excellent but ultimately disappointing matchup as Boston College gave Florida State all it could handle before losing 20-17. The game went down to the last three seconds and was decided by a field goal.

Tyler Murphy completed 6 of 10 passes for 73 yards, 49 of which came on a TD pass to Shakim Phillip (see below 1st). Murphy also ran for a TD. He got sacked once (see below 2nd).

The BC pass defense gave up 281 passing yards to Jameis Winston, but they sacked him once and picked him off as well. They also managed to hold the Seminoles to just 109 rushing yards, while the offense racked up 240 rushing yards of their own.

You can see highlights of the game below.

At the end of the game, the announcer started talking about how BC fans might have to get used to the idea that coach Steve Addazio might not be long for The Heights. He used to coach at Florida and with the Gators job open and Addazio doing good things with the Eagles, he's bound to be a serious candidate for the position.

I have really enjoyed what Addazio (pictured below) has done with the Eagles thus far and I'd really hate for him to leave with the job unfinished. I fully realize that coaching Florida is a far bigger job in terms of prestige and opportunity to compete for a national title, but as a BC fan, I want to see him stay right where he is.

Boston College is 6-5 on the season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

I wrote about some of the games played earlier in the week in a separate blog post that you can check out HERE.

The Boston Globe had a feature article on the new Boston University head coach Katy Steding. You can read that story via this link.

Bruce Pearl is back in coaching as the new head coach of Auburn University. He's becoming fully immersed in everything Auburn and recently took part in a basketball trick shot video. You can read the article here and see the full video below.

Meanwhile, Lauren Hill made more news this week for Mount Saint Joseph University. Despite her health continuing to decline, she went to her team's road game vs. Bethany College. She was in uniform and despite battling dizziness, got into the game for the second half and scored. You can read about Hill's 2nd college game HERE.

The video of her basket is below.

And here are some pics from the game.

Taking the shot:

Pregame Warm Up Shirts worn by the Bethany College team:

Pregame Handshake:

Boston College Men - The men's team was in Puerto Rico this week playing in the Puerto Rico Tip Off tournament. They opened up their three game set in the tournament against New Mexico. Despite it being a tough matchup, the Eagles pulled out a 69-65 victory behind 20 points and 6 assists from Olivier Hanlan. Aaron Brown scored 16 points in the game but also led the team with 5 turnovers. Patrick Heckmann added 11 points and Dennis Clifford (pictured below) finished with 6 points and a team high 8 rebounds.

(PHOTO FROM THE BOSTON HERALD)

The team's second game was against West Virginia and the Eagles held a 32-21 lead at halftime. But in the second half, the Mountaineers offense took over and built a lead. The Eagles rallied but fell short in the end and lost 70-66. West Virginia took control of the game with a 33-16 run over the course of an 11 minute span.

Olivier Hanlan led the Eagles with 23 points and 4 steals (He had 5 turnovers to lead the team as well). Patrick Heckmann (pictured below) scored 14 points and grabbed a team leading 7 rebounds. Aaron Brown added 10 points.

(PHOTO BY ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Boston College saw their 21 turnovers turned into 20 points by West Virginia. The Eagles are now 2-2 and will play Dayton later this afternoon.

Hartford Hawks - Hartford's successful start to their season continued wtih a tough 57-54 victory over Providence College. Their record is now 3-0. Amber Bepko (pictured below) finished with 23 points (her second straight 20 plus point game) to power the Hawks offense. Cherelle Moore scored 12 points and had a team high 9 rebounds. Deanna Mayza scored 7 points and dished out a career high 9 assists. One of those assists fed Bepko's three pointer that broke a 52-52 tie.

(PHOTO FROM GAME RECAP ARTICLE)

You can see highlights from the game and coach Jennifer Rizzotti's post game press conference (as well as comments from Amber Bepko) below.

Missouri State - The Bears ran into a buzzsaw in the form of #19 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. While being held to just 27.3% shooting and 18 turnovers (which OSU turned into 21 points), Missouri State ended up losing 77-36. The team falls to 0-3 on the season.

Liza Fruendt scored 11 points to lead the Bears while Hillary Chvatal (pictured below) had a team high 11 boards.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - On Friday night, Tennessee faced off against Winthrop and came away with a resounding 81-48 victory. The team is now 3-0 on the season and all three wins have been blowouts. Of course, these early season games against decidedly weaker opponents won't mean nearly as much when the Lady Vols start playing their more difficult part of the schedule.

But I like what I'm seeing from the players thus far as the entire roster seems to be making contributions in every aspect of the game. Ariel Massengale (pictured below) led the team with 20 points. She was 6-10 from three point range, including hitting her first five attempts.

Bashaara Graves (pictured below) had her third straight double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Nia Moore scored 14 points and Jaime Nared added 10.

But looking deeper at the box score will reveal some excellent guard play from both Jordan Reynolds and Andraya Carter (pictured below). Reynolds scored 6 points but grabbed 8 boards and dished out 7 assists. Carter had 9 points for the game while wrapping up 6 steals and 5 rebounds.

Cierra Burdick (pictured below) saw her first game action of the season and while she didn't score in the game she did corral 10 rebounds and tally 4 assists.

(ALL PHOTOS FROM TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)

If the team can get that kind of top to bottom production from their roster when they start playing their ranked opponents, things could be VERY interesting all season long.

You can check out what coach Holly Warlick had to say about the game below.

Boston College Women - The BC women opened up their home slate of games on Thursday night by hosting the Boston University Terriers. Before the game, the team's Twitter page had photos of the team poster and the first game program.

As for the game, the Eagles rolled to 2-1 with a 73-56 victory over the Terriers. Kelly Hughes (pictured below) had her first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She added 6 assists and 4 steals to her stat line as well.

Karima Gabriel finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks while Kat Cooper (pictured below) had 10 points.

Boston College also got some help in their offense from the outside. Emilee Daley (pictured 1st) and Nicole Boudreau (pictured 2nd) hit three 3 pointers in the game to finish with 9 points apiece.

 

(ALL PHOTOS TAKEN FROM EITHER GAME RECAP ARTICLE CREDITED TO JOHN QUACKENBOS OR THE BC WBB FACEBOOK PAGE PHOTO GALLERY)

You can get coach Erik Johnson's take on the game below.

NBA

You can check out what I had to say about my Boston Celtics this week in my latest Celtics Report.

Meanwhile, for sports fans who hate when teams tank, SI.com's Phil Taylor tells the tale of this year's Philadelphia 76ers. Not only is the team losing on purpose, they are doing it blatantly. There is no doubt that the powers that be in the organization would be happy if the team went 0-82 so they could get yet another top draft pick.

It has gotten so bad that the pizza chain Papa John's recently had to change the terms of an incentive deal for fans. It was supposed to be a deal for fans when the Sixers won a game. But after an 0-11 start gave rise to thoughts the team might not win a game, now the deal is for when the team scores 90 points in a game (win or lose). You can check out this pathetic story HERE.

NHL

We've all read the stories about how athletes end up going through all the money they made during the course of a career. Whether it is because they buy everything in sight, support an extended network of lazy ass friends and relatives or make a series of bad investments, there's a seemingly endless list of athletes who made millions upon millions of dollars that end up broke.

Mostly, you think that they are idiots. But sometimes you may just feel sorry for them. In the case of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson, even my cold unsympathetic heart was stirred as I read the story of how he filed for bankruptcy on October 7th. And he's still in the course of his career. And why is he broke? Because he trusted people close to him that should've been the most trustworthy of people to let run your "financial empire". Instead, Johnson's PARENTS have managed to get him in debt from anywhere between 10 and 15 million dollars.

You can read this tale of why you should never trust anyone you are related to with your money HERE.

OLYMPIC SPORTS

If you've been following the scandals surrounding USA Swimming and the multiple claims of rampant sexual abuse, this story from Outside Magazine will likely just be more confirmation of the horrors that have been essentially allowed to go unchecked for years. If you haven't followed the story, it will make you recoil in horror.

FANTASY FOOTBALL

I know that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but once again, I managed to go 0-2 in fantasy football last week. Of course, I was in a good position to win in one of the leagues. Or so I thought. I was behind by a few points heading into Monday's game but figured I would be able to pull ahead because my opponent only had 1 guy and I didn't think he would score more points than my two players.

And then Le'Veon Bell rang up 48 fantasy points for the other guy and my dreams of a win stayed exactly that...a dream.

WRESTLING

As a kid growing up in the 80's, I was one of millions entertained by pro wrestling. So on occasion, I see articles about the guys I watched growing up and how their lives are now. Sometimes they are good stories, often they are really bad stories. This week, there was the story about Kamala, The Ugandan Giant. Long retired, he's living life as a double amputee now. You can read more via this BleacherReport.com article.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

While the Wareham High football team was off this week in preparation for their Turkey Day game against arch-rival Bourne, the school held their annual powder puff game. The senior and freshman girls teamed up agains the sophomore and junior girls.

Gabby, one of my ex-players, scored two touchdowns and picked off two passes during the game to help the senior/freshman team win the game. The local sports reporter covering the game tweeted out that she was the MVP of the game. The pic of one of her interceptions he sent along with the tweet is below.

I'm always proud to see her doing so well athletically. WAY TO GO GABBY!

MISCELLANEOUS

Books - I finished the John Sandford novel Storm Front this week. It's the latest paperback in his Virgil Flowers series. It was a decent entry into the series and I'm looking forward to his next installment. Don't forget to be on the lookout for my 2014 Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers article that will be coming out by the end of the year.

TV - The new episodes recaps for The Flash and Arrow are now online via the following Pop-topia.com links: The Flash Season 1 Episode 6 - The Flash Is Born & Arrow Season 3 Episode 7 - Draw Back Your Bow

 

Music -  AC/DC has released an audio stream of the title track for their new CD Rock or Bust. You can listen to it below.

I've got a brand new CD review for you to check out this week. This time around it is for the new Robert Plant album lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar. You can check out what I had to say via this Pop-topia.com link.

Thanksgiving - I had to finish my Turkey Day shopping on Saturday and I'll be cooking a lot of the dinner on Thursday. Here's hoping you all have a...

 

The Superstars Who Don't Play
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Brown Halas Belichick Walsh Lombardi Landry Lambeau

 

Football is always about the warriors, the guys who go out and fight. But even they may not be the most important part of a team. We regularly watch teams that seem to have overwhelming talent go nowhere. Sometimes they become jokes. In baseball it's been called a 'country club', among other things.

Football has no such catchy phrase, but clearly we've regularly seen the same thing happen. We've also seen plenty of seemingly unglamorous teams rise to the top. A few even have stayed there. The guys off the field are the cause of both syndromes. They themselves are unglamorous for the most part, some of them, the owners for example, regularly painted as villains by players' unions, though they provide the avenue for what is today an absurdly lucrative profession.

The organization has plenty of tiers, but the one closest to the guys on the field is of course the coaching staff. Head Coach is the most visible off-field position (in most cases at least). He molds what he's given into the final product. Sometimes he works wonders. Who are the greatest of all time? That, like most questions of the sort, is an unsatisfactory question, but it's too much fun to pass up. So let's try for a Top Ten. No, make that a Top Eight.


#1: Paul Brown

Our King coached a team that carried his name. He came around, as most great coaches do, during a window of opportunity following World War II when the game was changing. In the mighty college game, UCLA and a few other schools were redefining football. Some say the reason was the sudden appearance of black players. While that timeline is true, it wasn't the reason. It likely had more to do with the dominance before the war of Sid Luckman and Sammy Baugh as their teams elevated the forward pass to levels not often seen before. But it also had to do with a stint many coaches spent in service of the military, helping to plan tactics. 

Brown absorbed many of those ideas and transferred them to the game. He was the first to platoon his players, bringing the age of the 60-minute man to a gradual end. He was the first to call plays from the sidelines ('shuttling guards'). His team originated in the AAFC following the war and won all four titles. Then they went to the NFL, won in their first year, and went to every title game until 1955, winning a total of 3 out of 6. They went again in 1957. That's 11 title games in Brown's (and in the Browns') first 12 years. He is Bill Belichick's coaching idol. That's quite an endorsement. Brown was the greatest of the postwar founders of modern football.

His stint as Bengals' founder and head coach sometimes goes unnoticed, but his (and his assistant Walsh's) West Coast Offense took an expansion team almost instantly to the level of title contender.

#2 George Halas

From his humble beginnings as the son of Slavic immigrants, George Halas was the image of the hard-working American achiever of the age. He attended Illinois, playing football and earning a degree in Civil Engineering. His team won the Big Ten title in 1918. Speaking of service to country, Halas was in both World Wars, a Naval ensign in WWI, though he didn't see combat. Following that hitch, he actually played outfield for the Yankees for 12 games. Then the story begins with already enough material for a conclusion. He joined the Staley starch company. They had a football team. In 1921 they won the title of the APFA (to become the NFL in 1922) by reputedly swindling the Buffalo All-Americans into playing a postseason exhibition game. The result of that game was then used to vault the Staleys to the title over the All-Americans. The resulting antipathy on both sides may have been a factor in Halas vetoing the Buffalo Bills entry into the NFL following the dissolution of the AAFC in 1949, despite the Bills' strength and success.

The Staleys became the Bears (the name inspired by the Cubs) in 1922. Halas would go on to coach them to six NFL titles (if you include the APFA title as the Staleys) and gain two more as owner, one in 1932 (Ralph Jones coaching) and one in 1943 while he was in the midst of a 4-year stint in the Navy, discharged in 1946 from the Seventh Fleet with the rank of Captain. His Bears won the title again on his return. Without the advent of the war, they likely would have won a few more. But they would win only once more (1963), though Halas would win the COY award again in 1965. His last year was 1967. He had coached the Bears almost as long as Connie Mack had managed the Athletics, successfully spanning three eras of football.

#3 Bill Belichick

Like his idol Paul Brown, Bill Belichick seized the opportunity offered by a changing game. But in his case, the change wasn't of the blue-sky sort; it was the advent of a restrictive climate with not only free agency but also a salary cap rule meant to enforce parity (and prevent bankruptcy) across the league. Teams could no longer be assembled and held together for a long stretch, or so went the theory. And in the post-merger era, Belichick also faced the challenge of winning in a 30+ team league, unlike Halas and Brown. As coach of the New England Patriots for 14 complete seasons to this point, his response has been to win eleven division titles, five Conference championships and three Super Bowls. All this has been accomplished with a roster that frequently has changed enormously not only year by year, but within single seasons, and with a huge turnover in assistant coaches and coordinators that has resulted in Belichick, who already serves the role of General Manager, serving as his own OC/DC at times. His team is known for a variety of personas, flexing to accommodate its volatile roster.

He came into the league under Bill Parcells, who is occasionally ranked ahead of him. That is a mistake. Parcells won two Super Bowls, both with Belichick as his DC, one with Belichick given the odd title of Alternate Head Coach. Belichick has won famously without Parcells. Parcells has never won big, even at less than Super Bowl levels, without Belichick. As the league of the new millenium continues to try to deal with roster volatility due not only to free agency but also to a plague of injury and never-before-seen issues of criminal conduct, Belichick's Patriots continue somehow to thrive at a competitive level not only unseen since the turn of the millenium but, in most cases, long before. They have been in the postseason for 11 of the past 13 years, missing only the other two on tiebreakers.

#4 Curly Lambeau

By now head-scratchers are wondering where Vince Lombardi may have gone. In truth, Lombardi may truly have been the best coach Green Bay ever had over a short span. But he wasn't an innovator. The honor goes to the Green Bay native, stadium namesake and former Notre Dame halfback who coached the team to 6 NFL titles from 1929 through 1944. He won 209 games in his 1919-1949 tenure as head coach (by far the most in Green Bay history), also playing well enough in his early years as player-coach to make the NFL's 1920s All-Decade roster.

He changed the still-forming game, making the forward pass a staple of the Green Bay offense before such as Luckman and Baugh began to push it further. That the name of star receiver Don Hutson is still known to football fans 75 years later is a testament to the dominance of Lambeau's offense. He was to Green Bay what George Halas was to Chicago. Eventually the small-market stature of Green Bay would sink its (and Lambeau's) fortunes under the weight of the Midway's economic power --- until Lombardi revived it.

#5 Vince Lombardi

His winning percentage was astronomical at 105-35-6. In his eleven seasons as a head coach he never had a losing season, even after moving to Washington. Under his ten seasons as head coach, the Packers went from post-Lambeau irrelevance to six title games, winning five. They also won the first two Super Bowls against the AFL. He might have won far more, but as everyone knows it wasn't his decision to stop coaching.

Lombardi had trained for his job as the OC under Jim Lee Howell with the New York Giants (Tom Landry was DC). He left the team after their loss to Unitas' Colts in 1958, joining the doormat Green Bay Packers. He elevated the team to 7-5 in his first season, then took them to the title game in 1960, a game won by the Eagles in the swan song of the great Norm Van Brocklin. After that, title game absences became rare as the Packers won 5 of the next 7 NFL titles.

His college position as an OL in Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" likely influenced his offensive strategy, which was almost always based on establishing his ground game. He built his teams to achieve that goal. His one detriment in ranking is that his philosophy broke no real new ground. He was less an innovator than a disciple of a system in which he believed. It was anachronistic, but it produced success no one else could approach under his guidance. He was the man you wanted to make a winner out of your team, and he did it like no one else. It remains a topic of conjecture whether his methods would have withstood the test of decades.

#6 Bill Walsh

A protege of Paul Brown with the early Bengals, Bill Walsh's name is synonymous with West Coast Offense, an offense developed to make the undermanned expansion team in Cincinnati competitive. But when Brown passed him up as his successor (and, according to Walsh, tried to keep other teams from hiring him), Walsh eventually took the system to San Francisco, a team that had never won a title, and turned 'Niners' into a household word. His quarterback Joe Montana gets a lot of the credit, as he should, but there is little doubt Walsh's 3 Super Bowls in the '80s set the tone in a decade that saw powerful competition, and that Montana was the ideal quarterback for Walsh's system.

The offense he created took the league by storm, and today remains an absorbed part of the multifaceted offenses. It was one nail in the coffin of the dominant 'pro-set', which had itself come out of the T formation much earlier, and triggered an offensive revolution in football. Like Lombardi, his brilliance in a relatively short span elevates him, but that same short span works against him.

#7 Tom Landry

Born in Mission, Texas, Tom Landry was a good athlete. He attended UTexas at Austin, his college career interrupted by WWII, in which he served as a B-17 copilot in combat. He had been inspired to join after his big brother had been killed early in the war. He eventually would become Jim Lee Howell's DC in New York, alongside OC Vince Lombardi.

When the NFL responded to the formation of the AFL by creating two new teams (in cities chosen by the AFL), Tom Landry jumped at the chance. The Giants DC became Dallas' first head coach, and became the creator of "America's Team." The Cowboys, bad at first, became title contenders by 1966 and favorites for the second game of fast-expanding national football coverage on Sunday afternoons. Landry's offenses were fast and innovative, but his defenses were groundbreaking, particularly his 4-3 and its cousin, the Flex. 

Landry's teams won 270 games during his 29-year tenure as head coach, and were almost always seen as explosive contenders. He took them to two NFL title games, five post-merger NFC titles, and two Super Bowl wins, nearly winning two others against Pittsburgh, one of which was lost on Jackie Smith's famous drop.

#8 Don Shula

Best remembered as coach of the Dolphins, Don Shula was the Colts' head coach through most of the 60s. They were one of the best teams in the NFL for most of those years, but never managed to win the title. When they finally won it, they were embarrassed by the New York Jets (coached by Weeb Ewbank, Shula's predecessor in Baltimore) in Super Bowl III.

But with the post-merger Dolphins, Shula instantly built a perpetual contender and a short-lived dynasty. His team went to 3 Super Bowls in a row, losing only the first. The 1972 season remains the only undefeated season by any team, though New England had a longer undefeated streak in 2007 (18-0) before losing the final game. He would, in his career, take his team to 6 Super Bowls (5 post-merger) but the two wins in 1972-3 would be his only victories.

An influential member of the Rules Committee, Shula was a significant agent in the migration of the league toward more passing, and accused by some of bending the rule book to fit his roster in Miami.


That rounds out our Top Eight. Notable absences may include Bill Parcells, Chuck Noll, George Allen, Jim Lee Howell, Marv Levy, Hank Stram, Sid Gillman and many others. Feel free to set me straight. That's what articles like this are for anyway, isn't it?

 

NASCAR Update And Other Fast Stuff 11-23-14
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Homestead NASCAR Kevin Harvick And Fast Stuff

                          

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP YEAH!!!!!!! Welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and others fast stuff. Baby you can drive my car edition. It is now 91 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes and an eternity till the February 22, 2015 Daytona 500 as I start to write this last 2013 season entry. 

Crazy stuff has been happeneing. Buffalo got buried in 100 feet of snow and actually had to move their football team to another stadium. I wonder if we'll ever see a NASCAR race get snowed out. Actually I'd love to see a race in the snow. Get those studded tires out boys.

Did you know Manson has a girlfriend? Actually she's his fiance and she says they'll be getting married soon. They have their marriage license and once a month the prison allows marrages. Says she's working hard at getting him a retrial and getting him out. Bet everybody is just looking forward to that party. Don't think there's going to be a going home party any time soon.

HARVICK VISITS LETTERMAN ON HIS VICTORY TOUR

So Kevin Harvick stopped at the Letterman Show to talk to Dave and give his Top 10 Tips For Becoming An Auto Racing Champion. And here we go....

10: Hands at 10 & 2 while driving - 11 & 1 when celebrating.

9 : Reduce weight of the car - Take out Brakes

8 : During the race, save your energy for the post race brawl

7 : There's no rule about slashing your opponents tires.

6 : No sex the night before the race - Or during the race

5 : Don't waste time learning to parallel park.

4 : A pit stop should only be long enough to lick the windshield.

3 : Resist the temptation to take a mid race selfie

2 : Remember : If you lose you don't have to do Letterman

1 : Accept the fact that your ass will never stop vibrating.

Letterman was just one of many stops for the NASCAR Champion Victory Tour. I hope Kevin's little boy Keelan gets to see daddy real soon. Kevin says he's not happy right now because daddy has been gone too long.

CHASE ELLIOTT TO GET A HANDFULL OF CUP RACES IN 2015

The plan is that Chase will do another year full time in Nationwide for JR Motorsports and get a handful of Cup races driving for HMS to get experience.

He's only 18 years old, just graduated high school and won a championship in a top NASCAR series. How cool is that? 

Kasey Kahne just re-upped for 3 more years. Jimmie Johnson is signed till the end of 2015 and is looking for his new contract. Jeff Gordon has a life time contract. Dale Jr isn't going any where any time soon. My guess is that 2015 will be Gordon's last season to drive. His back could go out for good with any race. He'll be a boss or part owner at HMS. Hendrick lost his son, Ricky and heir 10 years ago in the plane wreck. So Chase Elliott will have a ride in the HMS stables come 2016. 

Congrats again to Chase for his Nationwide Championship.

HOMESTEAD RACE RECAP

Very eventful race. Gordon was on the pole and he led 161 laps but a decision late in the race to pit by crew chief Gustafson mired Gordon too far back in the pack to get back up for the win. He took full responsibility for that decision.

For most of the race Hamlin, Logano, Harvick and Newman were up in or around the top 10. Hamlin led 50 laps and Harvick led 54. 

With 19 to go there's a caution. Hamlin, Gordon and Vickers stay out. Logano's jackman drops hid car off the jack with no tires on it. A very lengthy and costly pit stop takes Logano out of contention. He never recovers. Top 5 is Hamlin - Gordon - Newman - McMurray - Keselowski

Hamlin takes the lead for a brief time. With 13 to go there's another caution and this time Gordon goes in for tires. BUT Hamlin stays out. Top 5 is Hamlin - Newman - McMurray - Keselowski - Harvick

Harvick goes up the middle on the restart from 5th to 2nd behind Hamlin and with 8 to go he takes the lead. 

With 6 to go another caution. Top 5 is Harvick - Newman - Hamlin - Keselowski - Menard......remember my dark horse top 10 favorite?

With 3 to go we restart. Hamlin spins his tires and Harvick takes the lead with Newman in hot persuit.

Your Top 15 Finishers - Harvick - Newman - Keselowski - Menard - McMurray - Kenseth - Bowyer - Johnson - Gordon - Ku Bu - Kahne - Larson - Dale Jr - Allgaier

Congrats to Kevin Harvick for your 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championsip.

TOP 8 DRIVERS IN THE POINTS STANDINGS AFTER HOMESTEAD

Harvick----5 W's----20 Top 10's----2 DNF's (Did not finish)

Newman---0 W's----16 Top 10's-----1 DNF's

Hamlin-----1 W-------18 Top 10's----2 DNF's---Missed 1 race for eye issue

Logano-----5 W's----22 Top 10's----4 DNF's

Keselowski--6 W's---20 Top 10's----1 DNF

Gordon-----4 W's----23 Top 10's----0 DNF's

Kenseth----0 W's----22 Top 10's----2 DNF's

Dale Jr-----4 W's----20 Top 10's----2 DNF's   

OTHER RACE NOTABLES

1 : Knaus and other HMS personnell were called to the NASCAR hauler after the race. During the race Jimmie had come in with a loose wheel. This had created a problem tightening down the next wheel so Knaus called for a wheel spacer so that they could get the lugnuts tight on better threads further up on the studs. A NASCAR official said they couldn't do it and Knaus went ahead and had it done any way. Thus the need for a chit chat with NASCAR after the race which turned out to be a misunderstanding. No penalties.

2 : The #17 team (- Driver Ricky Stenhouse)  had rear suspension parts confiscated during prequalifying for the Homestead race. Crew chief Mike Kelley got a $50,000 fine and probation from 1-1-15 thru 6-30-14. Car Chief Patrick Magee got the same probation.

3 : Gordon hit a mile stone during the race. He took 2nd place from Mark Martin for the most Top 10's with 454. Who's first? Richard Petty with 712. Don't think any body is going to get that record.

NASCAR is now over for this year. I'm over for the night too. Got a big day tomorrow. Taking #2 grandson to a Day Out With Thomas The Tank Engine. Living so close to the Strasburg Railroad has it's perks. They have an awesome railroad museum and they built life size Thomas and Percy locomotives. Hollywood also comes calling to borrow the trains too. We'll be doing crafts, pictures with the trains & Sir Topemhat AND A TRAIN RIDE. #2 grandson will be thrilled. He loves choo choo's.

Hang in there Gabber's and others. It looks like a scary winter coming up. Be safe and I'll see you around.

And I'm outta here.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    

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