Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RTB Radio Live On-Air Super Bowl Preview At 11:00pm Tonight

RTB Radio will be live at 11:00pm tonight on blogtalkradio.com at this link. Be sure to call in at 323-417-6822 to speak with Norm, Batz, and JCole about anything that is on your mind regarding the game. And we aren't just looking for Patriots fans to call in, Giants fans are encouraged to call.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Recap

The weekend before the Super Bowl is seemingly irrelevant in the sports world. However, the NHL and NFL, along with their respective networks, have made use for the gap in playoff football by holding their all-star games the Sunday before the big game.

The closest the Patriots got to Oahu this year was Doug Flutie being on NBC's broadcast team, with all of the Pats landing in Indy early Sunday, including the 8 Pro-Bowl selections on the roster. This makes the all-star festivities in Hawaii irrelevant to our blog. The despicable play and ineptitude by the NFL to create an exciting display of their talent outside of meaningful games makes it irrelevant to every blog.

The NHL All-Star Weekend on the other hand, was heavily embedded by the Bruins. While the game displays little to no defense as you would expect, the changes the league has made since the 2005 lockout have made it an extremely entertaining weekend.

The second Fantasy Draft was held last Thursday, with B's captain Zdeno Chara selected as a captain/GM of one of the teams. He chose Boston goalie Tim Thomas with the 3rd overall selection, and although he made him sweat, chose Tyler Seguin with one of the last picks. Chara also added fuel to the fire that is the Boston-Vancouver rivalry by refusing to select any of the three Canucks in the draft pool. He would probably give you the politically correct answer if you asked him, and state that he was picking the best team he could and not worrying about what team they were from. However, with all defensemen needing to be taken by round 15 however, Chara chose a four D-men in 6 rounds before the cutoff, forcing Team Alfredsson to take Canuck Alex Edler.

In the skills competition, Chara took his slapshot to new heights, shattering all perceived human possibilities and winning the hardest shot competition, which included a world record 108.8 mph bomb in the first round.

The weekend came to a close with the aforementioned game, which his team won 12-9. Tim Thomas set a league record as the only goaltender to win 4 consecutive all-star games as he stopped 18/21 shots on goal in the third period to clinch the victory. Tyler Seguin added a nifty assist in 15 minutes of ice time, and Chara scored a goal to help the cause as well.

A great showcase by the Boston Bruins in a great celebration of the game of hockey leads us into what should be a great second half of the year, and most importantly, Super Bowl week. Tune in to Rhode To Boston Radio tomorrow night as the team previews Pats-Giants.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Are the Celtics back?

Last night the Celtics reached .500 for the fist time this season at 9-9 with a win over the Pacers. In two previous tries against Indiana the C's got rocked. Paul Pierce came up with one of his best games in a couple years going for 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. So is this just a blip on the radar or can this team really compete?

It has been my belief that this team, while not championship caliber the way they are currently constructed, can still compete in the East. I think they have as good a shot at any in the division. New Jersey and Toronto are terrible and I just don't believe in the Knicks. Philadelphia is a bright young team and probably poses the biggest threat to Boston, but they've yet to go through injuries to key players, which it seems like every other team in the league has had to deal with to this point. (side note: Tony Battie really plays for this team. I'm blown away that he isn't in his mid 50's.)

A division lead would be good for 3rd place and home court advantage in the first round. IF the young bench players like Stiemsma, the Purdue boys and Avery Bradley can continue to mature and contribute solid minutes I think this team will be able to get to that point in the playoffs and win a series. They will need Rondo and one of the other star players to put forth a superstar like performance if they are going to beat Miami or Chicago in the second round though. What we saw from Pierce last night is what they will need night in and night out when May comes along and the jury's out on whether or not that's possible.

I'd also like to commend KG on playing all 18 games up to this point in the season. There have been 25 games missed due to injury on this team, including 5 from Rondo, 3 from Pierce and even 4 from Ray Allen. Garnett and Brandon Bass are the only players to appear in all of the games to this point. If they can stay healthy with the anti-reliable Jermaine O'Neal starting to break down they will keep the Celtics in it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Throwback Player of The Day

Bronson Arroyo
The cornrows, the high leg kick, and one of the best number 5 starters the Red Sox have ever had. Arroyo  posted a 24-19 record and a 3.97 ERA with the Sox over three seasons. He was apart of the 2004 World Series championship team and played a big role in ending "the curse." Arroyo was traded to the Cincinnati after the 2005 season for Willy Mo Pena. Needless to say, this trade wasn't one of Theo's best.  Arroyo was also the pitcher on the mound during one of the best Red Sox/Yankees brawls of all time. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

RTB Radio on Air at 11:00 Monday

RhodeToBoston Radio will be live and on the air at this link at 11 PM tonight. Listen in as JCole, Norm and Batz recap the AFC Championship Game. Feel free to call in and ask the team any questions or give us your take on the game, or any other subjects you want us to touch in on in the world of Boston sports. The number is 323-417-6822.

Super Bowl!

Double or nothin' Eli, double or nothin.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

R.I.P Joe Paterno


ESPN has reported that Joe Paterno has lost his battle with lung cancer and passed away at the age of 85. Although we are a Boston sports blog, it would be unethical not to recognize such an inspirational individual. Even though Joe Pa's reputation has taken a pretty big hit over these past few months, his legacy will forever live on and will be remembered as one of the best college football coaches in the history of the sport. 

The RTB team wants to send out prayers and thoughts to the Paterno family. They have gone through more devastation in a short amount of time then any family should ever have to go through.  

Throwback Player of the Day and Trivia Answer

Who is the only fullback to make the Pro Bowl without a single carry in the regular season?

Sam Gash
Patriots Fullback 1992-1997

Sam Gash had an outstanding career with the Pats, Bills, and Ravens. In 1999 with the Bills he caught 20 balls for 163 yards and 0 carries for 0 yards, but played well enough to start in the Pro Bowl for the AFC. Gash was the perfect blocking fullback. He blocked for All-Pro's Curtis Martin, Jamal Lewis, Thurman Thomas, and Willis McGahee. Bill Parcells mentioned his value to the Pats 1996 AFC championship team in his postgame speech. Along with former T.P.of the D. Ben Coates, he picked up a deserved Super Bowl ring with the 2000 Ravens.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Blitz: Championship Sunday Edition

Our newest RTB members over at "The Blitz" by That's Sweet Productions previews this weeks AFC and NFC Championship games. Great work done by Justin LaVorgna and Bill Sweet.

RTB predictions:
Norm- Pats 31 Ravens 21, Giants 21 49ers 17
Batz- Pats 34 Ravens 20, 49ers 24 Giants 19
JCole- Pats 27 Ravens 17, Giants 24 49ers 23

Throwback Player Of The Day

Tony Battie

Tony "The Batman" Battie has to go down as one of the most reliable bench players during his tenure with the Celtics. He averaged at least 5 rebounds per game and had his best years from 2001-2003 where he averaged 6.5 boards and 7 points per game. Very productive for a "6th man" roll. Something that the 2011-2012 Celtics could use...

Compensation For Theo Epstein Still Not Settled

John Henry and the rest of the Red Sox front office couldn't have handled this situation any worse. Theo Epstein resigned as the Red Sox GM back on October 21st and a deal has not been agreed upon. They lost all of the leverage the second they let Epstein walk out of the Fenway Park gates and head for Chicago.

The last time a GM left his team for another position with a different team was back in 1994 when Minnesota Twins GM Andy MacPhail was allowed to leave the team with two years left on his contract to take over as the Cubs President. Ironic, huh? The Twins received a 30th-ranked prospect and $200,000 for compensation.

When the talks of Epstein surfaced between the Cubs and Sox back in late Septemeber, the Cubs promised "substantial compensation" if the Red Sox let Epstein walk. Well, from the way things have been going, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino says the Cubs have not met those expectations. This is where Bud Selig comes in. Larry Lucchino recently asked the commissioner to intervene on their behalf and help fix the situation and to make sure the Red Sox don't get screwed in this deal.

The best case scenario for the Red Sox would be to create a deal for Matt Garza. Pitching has been the main focus of the offseason and Ben Cherington and the crew must do everything they can to get this guy. Garza would fill a big hole in the Sox rotation and would allow for Daniel Bard to stay in the pen. I think this was their plan at the beginning of all of this, but where they went wrong was letting Theo Epstein walk out the door without any compensation settled. It seems highly unlikely that the Red Sox will receive "substantial compensation" for Epstein at this point, but with Bud Selig involved, hopefully the Sox receive more than a few bats and some pine tar.

Old Heroes to Make Appearance at Title Game

Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization announced this week that they would bring out four honorary captains for Sunday's AFC Championship game. Drew Bledsoe's second visit to Foxboro this season will be with Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, and Ty Law.

All four players were on the field for the first ever conference championship game in Foxboro against Jacksonville in 1996. Five years later they were a part of the team's first Super Bowl victory. In honor of the 10th and 15th anniversaries of those two seasons, these current and future Patriot Hall of Famers will be out on the field prior to kickoff.

This is just another example of this organization doing things the right way. Boston's teams as a whole have had a knack for choosing great players for first pitches, ceremonial puck drops, and all other sorts of events involving/thanking players from their pasts.

Baltimore will also have an honorary captain. He's an athlete I have the ultimate respect for. He's an icon for the city of Baltimore and a Hall of Famer. Strangely that hall of fame is in New York, not Ohio. The Ravens have chosen Cal Ripken Jr. as their honorary captain. You win a Super Bowl and all of those players are still alive and the best you can come up with is a baseball player to walk out with the likes of Bledsoe and Bruschi? Was Trent Dilfer too busy in faraway Bristol, CT? Tony Siragusa is not on Fox's NFC championship crew, and Shannon Sharpe will be at the game if CBS sticks with their custom of being on location for conference championship games.

All in all a strange decision by the Ravens brass. Should be a very cool scene at Gillette for Patriots fans to be able to see four of their favorites on the turf together again. It just shows that Belichick's players see it as an honor to come back and support the team and be part of the organization. Obviously that is not the case with the Ravens.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

#1 Reason to Feel Confident as a Pats Fan This Sunday

You can break it down any way you want.

You can look at the matchups.

You can look at the X's and O's.

You can watch the likes of Trent Dilfer, Merril Hoge, and Herm Edwards break it down on ESPN.

You can listen to the RTB radio show AFC Championship Preview (recommended).

You can watch games, look at stats, or home field advantage. The number one reason why I believe the Patriots will earn a spot in the Super Bowl this season is summed up by none other than Ray Lewis and Darrell Revis right here...

Throwback Player of the Day

On this, the 10th anniversary of Tom Brady's first playoff game, a divisional round victory over the Oakland Raiders... who else could be our Throwback Player of the Day?

Adam Vinatieri
Patriots Kicker 1996-2005

The most clutch kicker in the history of the NFL did the majority of his damage in a four year span starting with the two kicks against Oakland and ending with the game clinching kick to put the Pats up 10 on Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX. Undrafted out of South Dakota State, Vinatieri spent a year with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe before being picked up by New England. He has played in five Super Bowls in all, including a loss to Green Bay in SB XXXI and a win for the Colts in XLI. Named to the Patriots all decade teams for the 90's and 2000's, as well as the 50th anniversary team and the NFL's all-decade team for the 2000's, Vinatieri has a good chance to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when it is all said and done.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chara named one of ASG Captains

The NHL announced that Big Z will be one of two captains for the second annual NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft later this month. The other will be Daniel Alfredsson of the game's host Ottawa Senators.

This is a huge honor as it seems that the league will reserve one captain spot for the host's best player every year, with the other going to the most respected captain throughout the rest of the league. Last year it was Detroit's Lidstrom, who is a first ballot hall of famer. Chara and Alfredsson (along with Iginla) are tied for the lead in this year's contest making their sixth appearances as well. With Boston playing so well in the first half and coming off of a Stanley Cup, Chara is a logical choice, with the only other realistic options being Jonathon Toews of Chicago or Iginla in Calgary.

Alfredsson is likely to take teammate Erik Karlsson with his first pick, leaving Chara an opportunity to take either Tyler Seguin or Tim Thomas in the first round. The NHL Fantasy Draft was very successful last year, and has added a really cool and unique twist to the midseason classic. The idea comes from the league's marketing campaign leaning towards the game's roots in pond hockey.

Splitting up and picking sides also led to some interesting sub plots that should carry over this year as well. The Sedin twins were split up last year, but if I were Chara, I'd ensure that they'll play together this year by not picking either of them regardless of what happens. It'll be very interesting to see if Chara goes for either the Sedins or Alex Edler, the only other Canuck in the draft pool. It also showed who the least liked player in the pool was last year, Phil Kessel. (My college roommate ran into him in NH a few years ago and the distaste for Kessel seems to be warranted.) It should also be noted that Chara has a decided advantage over Alfredsson because the Sens' captain will be pressured to take the three teammates he has playing in the game, opening up some free spots for Z. I'm very interested to see how Chara plays it at the end of this month in Ottawa.
Some predicted Chara draft picks:
Seguin, Thomas: BOS
Wideman: WAS
Stamkos: TB
Price: MON
Weber: NAS
Kessel: TOR

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Throwback Player Of The Day

Trot Nixon 

Doesn't get much better than Trot. One of the rawest players not only in his play, but his look. He had the dirtiest helmet filled with pine tar, tobacco spit, and dirt. His hat was covered in chalk from the base lines and you could see his sweat stains surrounding his head. And how can I forgot to mention his fu manchu. 

2001-2004 were his glory days with the Sox as he hit 85 home runs and had a .282 AVG. during those four seasons. Trot was also a part of the "Idiots" in 2004. A team that will go down in Red Sox history as one of the greatest.


RTB Radio: AFC Championship Preview

Listen to internet radio with blazingstorm09 on Blog Talk Radio

The RTB team previews this weekends AFC Championship game against the Ravens on RhodeToBoston Radio.

Norm: 28-17 Patriots
JCole: 24-17 Patriots
Batz: 31-20 Patritos

Quick Rant

Hey everyone,

I was browsing through ESPN a minute ago and something irked me enough to write a post. The story was that Dwight Howard has added the Clippers to his trade list. This stiff having a trade list is enough for me to dislike him, but it got me thinking about the state of the NBA.

The summer 2010 free agent class obviously started this whole mess off with the media giving LeBron 24/7 coverage of his 'sweepstakes' and joining up with Bosh and Wade in Miami. Then we had Carmelo Anthony handpicking his team through a trade, followed by the Chris Paul fiasco and now Howard. The 2010 Olympic team was basically led by those guys just mentioned and Kobe.

So you have 6 young superstars who have been given everything since they were in high school, and now are being allowed to dictate the future of the league and the sport. A no trade clause will continue to happen throughout sports, i get that. However I really think it's going to lead to major problems in this league. Smaller markets are barely surviving as it is, now after the three year rookie contract, they will lose their superstars and start all over again.

The best thing that can happen for the game right now is for a team like Dallas, San Antonio,OKC or Chicago to win the championship for the next few years. Don't give me any "Boston did the same thing" crap either because Pierce thought he'd be traded, KG refused to go to Boston for months before the deal, and Ray Allen was notably upset about leaving Seattle at first. Danny Ainge orchestrated the Celtics team, not the players. All of these super-teams are going to go through what we are right now in Boston, when their big three's get old and washed up like the C's. But that is still six years away minimum. I hope for the game's sake that unselfish superstars like Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose stay where they are, and build champions the right way. In the meantime, I've never been happier to be a day in, day out follower of the NHL. Go Bruins.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quick Notes: Sox, Pats, Celtics

It's a very exciting time to be a New England sports fan. The Patriots are heading back to the AFC Championship, the NBA season is young, and baseball season is right around the corner. Here are a few thoughts/ observations I have from the most recent week in NE Sports.

Patriots; loved everything about their game against the Broncos. That was vintage Tom Brady. Calm, cool, efficient. He looked like a surgeon. While I never felt any pulse of fright in playing the Broncos, TB12 and company did everything possible to quell any sense of a Denver upset right from the start. That was (as I complained about earlier in the season), the most complete four quarters of football the team has played all year, with really no let downs from the offensive or defensive end. Now that we're set to play the Ravens, I must confess that I'm feeling very confident. Sure the Ravens have a tough defense, but I simply trust our offensive efficiency to put points on the board while I believe our defense has enough ability to minimize Ray Rice...I like it Patriots 28 Ravens 17.

Celtics; WOAH. They are bad. I usually trust a group of veterans when playoff time comes but this team simply looks ancient. The most valuable asset of the Celtic teams of the past was their great team defense. They were never the most explosive offensive team, but they could shut down anyone. Now, they just look old on defense. They're getting outrun, out-hustled, and out-worked. This team has the mindset that they can simply turn on the effort come playoff time and they will be able to make a run. At this rate they'll be lucky to make the playoffs. Moving forward as well, why would you not trade away all the pieces of this team to rebuild. There are at least 10 teams that would love to get their hands on Ray, Paul, or KG and would be willing to offer premium draft picks to do so. Examples (Ray Allen to the Clippers...Clippers have no 2 guard, Ray Allen with Griffin, Paul, Jordan, etc would be lethal, they would do a deal for him in a heartbeat, so would Chicago). As much as it pains me to say it, would Paul Pierce not fit perfectly into a veteran Mavericks team? This is not easy for me to propose, but the future is not bright here in Boston with these players. I think it's time to start trading these guys and bringing in young pieces who the team can start to build around. This Celtics team is gross, and they need to make changes, fact. (Of course now that I've written this article they're probably gonna go on a tear and go to the Eastern Conference Finals which will give Danny Ainge hope that this team can compete for another year........)

Red Sox; I've been very happy with the moves Cherington has made so far as GM. I wouldn't have touched Papelbon at 50 million with a mile long stick. I love the deal for Bailey as well. Furthermore, the addition of Melancon, which allows Bard to move into the rotation is a great move to further the depth of the rotation while also maintaining the strength of the bullpen. I also appreciate that the organization has not overreacted to making bold changes. Let me put this out there; I love Carl Crawford, I think he's going to rebound and have a great year. I love Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. I think they're going to come back with so much to prove this year and have sensational seasons. I love Kevin Youkilis and what he brings to the team. I think it would have been foolish to trade him (as many people were suggesting because the Sox top prospect is Will Middlebrooks who's a 3b) while he's still an OBP machine and has at least one good year left. I also love what Bobby V has done in his short tenure. He's made a point to build bridges with guys who he formerly alienated while broadcasting and it shows some maturity and foresight from his part (granted I'll reserve judgement on his hiring until the season starts). Recently reports have come out of the Sox's interest in Roy Oswalt. I think that would be a great fit. A proven winner and bulldog on the mound whose stock is low because of injury plagued seasons. If the Sox can buy low on him and he stays healthy a whole year, he might legitimately be the most talented pitcher on the staff before it's all said and done. Cherington's reign has proven to be one of shrewd decision making and patience so far, I excited to see it continue.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chad Ochocinco Sends Twitter Follower To Tonight's Game

For our readers out there who have a twitter, I suggest you follow Chad Ochocinco. Not only because you may cop free tickets to a playoff game, but you truly get a sense of what a genuine guy he is. During his stint in Cincy, he had the reputation of being a "punk." Once he joined the Patriots, everyone kept saying how much of a problem he was going to be in the locker room. Those critics are sure biting their tongue. Even with Ocho's limited roll, he has kept his mouth shut the entire season and has continued to work hard in practice. Watch out for him to have a bigger roll during the playoffs as defenses try to stop Gronk, Welker, and Hernandez. 

The Patriot Way. There truly is no better way. 

P.S. The only problem I have with Ocho sending this guy to the game is his twitter name, Vic13NYY. I am hoping that "NYY" stands for something other than the evil empire New York Yankees, but something tells me that's exactly what it means. Not a good look...

NFL Divisional Round Analysis And Picks

Great work by our friends over at "The Blitz" by That's Sweet Prodcutions. Feel free to comment on if you agree/disagree with Justin Lavorgna's picks. Also subscribe to their YouTube channel at hockeypaint7.

Throwback Player Of The Day

Rosevelt Colvin

When I think of Rosevelt Colvin, I think of the glory days when the linebacking core for the Patriots was Bruschi, Vrabel, and Colvin. Doesn't get much better than those three guys on the same defense. Colvin recorded 26.5 sacks in six seasons with the Patriots and compiled 184 tackles. Stats aside, Colvin was a part of the Patriots dynasty years and won back to back Super Bowl rings in 2004 and 2005 in Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Throwback Player of the Day

Ben Coates
Patriots TE 1991-1999

Here's a trivia question that will be sure to win you some bets; What college did Ben Coates go to? The answer, of course, is Livingstone College. I had never heard of it but Coates was actually the 2nd of 3 players drafted from there in program history. Another Patriot who was instrumental to the rebuilding of the organization in the 90's, Coates retired before the glory years. Unlike Chris Slade, he did get a ring. Coates was part of a dynamic TE duo with Shannon Sharpe for the 2000 Super Bowl champion Ravens. In Foxboro, the 6'5'' 245 pound force caught 490 balls for over 5,400 yards in 9 seasons. His career year came in 1994 when he hauled in 96 catches for over 1,100 yards. All 50 of his touchdowns came with New England, as well as both of his 1st team All-Pro selections and 5 Pro Bowl appearances.

All Youtube has for Coates (10 catches, 74 yards in this game) video is this famous Bledsoe comeback vs. Minnesota in '94.

Tebow Mania Ends Saturday Night

What Tim Tebow has accomplished this season is flat out unbelievable. He has been criticized more than any player I can think of in recent memory, and has continued to silence those critics. With Tebow, you either hate him, love him, or are in between. I'm with the in between group. I respect him and appreciate what he has done. He is revolutionizing the game in his own way in that he is proving that you don't have to be a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to win games. Rather you can be a fantastic leader, and when the game is on the line, you perform at the highest level and get the job done. That's how Tebow has thrived.

But unfortunately for #15, the journey ends against the Patriots. As bad as the Patriots defense is, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense will be far too much for the Broncos to handle. The last thing the Broncos need is for this game to become a shootout, because they will lose 10 out of 10 times if that's the case. Tom Brady doesn't lose shootout games, it's just not in his genes.

The Patriots also have the advantage of former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels joining the coaching staff. He drafted Tim Tebow and Damaryius Thomas for the Broncos and knows the system pretty well. He was also the Patriots offensive coordinator for two seasons from 2006-2008 and has a great relationship with Tom Brady.

As fun as this season has been watching Tim Tebow, fans will have to wait until next season to see more or the Tebow magic. 

P.S. Watch out for the Patriots defense during the playoffs. They are going to play at a very high level and have a positive impact on each game.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reader Input

Readers of RTB,

Do you have any ideas for daily/weekly features (like throwback player of the day) that you would like to see Norm, JCole and/or myself start up? Let us know on facebook, in the comment section or on twitter @rhodetoboston #featureideas.

Game Notes: NE-DEN

-Normally I would say that the Patriots have to get off to a fast start to keep Tebow and the Broncos out of striking range. Clearly that is not a necessity since this team has been one of the worst first quarter teams in the league for a solid month now and hasn't lost in the second half of the season.

-Tebow was severely underestimated with his deep ball throwing ability last Sunday by Hall of Fame Defensive Coordinator Dick LaBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I do not see this being a problem for many reasons. First of all, Belichick knows better than anyone that if you can get to the NFL's final eight, you have just as good a chance as any to make it to the Super Bowl. Secondly, they just saw Tebow put up one of his better games against this same Pats team just over a month ago.

-The bye week was HUGE for the hogs up front. Yesterday's injury report listed not a single offensive player (not on IR), including Light and Mankins. They will be key to keeping Brady upright against pass rush specialists Von Miller and Elvis Dumerville.

-The TE tandem of Gronk and Aaron Hernandez poses matchup nightmares for any defense, and Denver is no exception. Hernandez went off at Mile High, combining with Gronkowski for 13 catches, 182 yards and a score. Look for more of the same Saturday night.

-The offensive flexibility was reminiscent of the '07 Pats in the first game as well, as eight different receivers caught passes and six different players rushed the ball. While Denver also had a nice afternoon on offense, seven of Tebow's eleven completions went to Demaryius Moore. Look for Moore to be keyed on all night.

-Tom Brady has held his own standards very high for himself all year, visibly getting upset with himself with nitpick type criticisms. The Bronco game was different, emotionally charged by the hype leading up to it. After throwing a TD to Ochocinco early, Tom was fired up, fist pumping and bashing helmets with teammates again. A past coach always told me that when playing a pumped up team, make your intensity level higher. I think that's what is going to happen Saturday night. Predicition: New England 34, Denver 20

Monday, January 9, 2012

Throwback Player of the Day

Milt Palacio
Celtics Guard (2000-2002)

Journeyman doesn't begin to describe Palacio's career. The Colorado State guard from Belize went undrafted in 1999 and wound up in Boston after a short stint with the Grizzlies. Three more NBA teams in four years led to 8 different stops in 6 European cities, where he currently still plays. Milt made an impact in his stay at the Garden, playing in over 40 games both seasons here as a backup guard to Paul Pierce and the revolving door at point guard during that time. His career highlight also came in Boston, when he beat then rival New Jersey on a 30 foot desperation three pointer in December of 2000.

Weekend Recap

It was a wild weekend in the world of sports. Here are my thoughts:

Bruins 3, Canucks 4

-First of all, Vancouver played really well. Schneider was solid in net and the top forwards produced, unlike the three games in Boston last June.

-The 10 minute misconduct on Lucic was one of the more ridiculously mishandled situations I've seen all year. The penalty was for leaving the bench during an altercation, and is standardly assessed with a five minute major, game ejection, and 10 game suspension. The problem is it was clear as day to anyone watching that the Canucks had six position players on the ice themselves. Both teams were in the middle of a change, and the decision had a huge impact on the game.

-Brad Marchand's misconduct on the other hand, worries me as a fan. Part of what makes him so good is his aggression, and you just have to deal with the fact that it is part of his game to play on the edge. I believe the hip check on Sami Salo will warrant suspension from the league office, because Marchand has a history of these things, and Salo ended up with a concussion.

-This game was just a midyear regular season game, and the job Claude Julien has done so far this season in keeping the team focused should be an indicator that they will be ready to play the next game. Montreal comes up on the schedule later in the week, so Boston will have a chance to get their groove back.

Frozen Fenway

-What a great atmosphere we had at Fenway on Saturday night. The whole scene around the stadium was phenomenal, every bar and restaurant packed with fans from the 4 schools involved. Once we got into the stadium, the aesthetics of the setup was simply breathtaking. The new centerfield video board was great consolation for anybody who got tickets near field level and couldn't see well.

-The games did not disappoint, as UMass upended UVM in overtime 3-2, and UMaine beat UNH 5-4 in OT in the nightcap. Lead changes were aplenty, as UNH actually took the lead 2-1 in the second period on something I had never seen before; a 5 on 3 shorthanded goal. Maine took the lead right back with 2 power play goals before the period was over, and extended that lead to 4-2 with a goal 13 seconds into the third. 2 UNH goals tied it up to send it to OT, and Brian Flynn scored under UNH goalie Casey DeSmith's freshman arm to win the game. I wasn't pleased with the result, but the atmosphere and electricity of over 30,000 fans at a college hockey game more than made up for it.

-Side note, pretty cool seeing UNH legend Ralph Cox drop the ceremonial first puck. Since Miracle is my favorite movie, seeing the man portrayed in that movie for the first time at a UNH game was pretty cool.

NFL Playoffs

-Houston played well against a young Cincinnati team, but I could easily see Baltimore doing the same thing to TJ Yates. Houston's vaunted run game will be tested against a well-rested Baltimore defense. If the Texans can keep Ray Rice in check, this could be an interesting game between two very inconsistent teams. I say Baltimore has the edge with home field and a playoff ready QB.

-New Orleans is ridiculously good on offense. They pretty much take what the Pats do, and extend it even further. They were down at halftime, against a good Detroit team, and Calvin Johnson was doing his usual freakish thing. Not unlike the Patriots last few first halves. Brees led them out of halftime slingin' as usual, and they just blew the Lions away. They're scary looking forward as a Pats fan, or any fan outside of Louisiana. Experienced playoff team clicking on all cylinders with a Hall of Fame QB in his prime, good luck Jimmy Harbaugh, welcome to the playoffs.

-New year, same story for the Falcons. Overmatched by a better team. Giants fans are coming out of the woodworks, leaning on comparisons with the 2008 championship team. I'm still not buying it. This team is too inconsistent, and the wins they got down the stretch were against the collapsing Jets, and the Cowboys (who they matchup very favorably against) twice. Now Atlanta, who has gotten destroyed in their last three playoff games. I'll drink the Kool-Aid if they find a way at Lambeau, but for now I can't see Green Bay losing
to this team.

-Kudos to the Denver coaching staff for allowing for individual routes downfield and taking shots with big plays. Kudos for Tim Tebow for making those throws on the money when he needed do. Kudos to the Denver defense for stopping a last minute Pittsburgh drive, and holding on for the win. The Steelers fatally underestimated this team and their QB. Sorry Denver, Bill Belichick will not be underestimating anyone. Patriots fans should be very confident going into this game Saturday night, and look forward to what will hopefully be a trip to the AFC championship game for the first time in four years.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Boston Throwback Player Of The Day


Sergei Samsonov scored 174 goals with the Bruins. Yes, 1-7-4. Besides this impressive number, Samsonov is remembered by his high energy style of play. He was lightning fast and was known as the Energizer Bunny on ice. His feet never stopped moving and he flew past defenders towards the net. Samsonov is currently an unrestricted free agent after a disappointing season with the Florida Panthers in 2010-2011. 

Will The Patriots Win Their First Playoff Game Since 2007-2008?

The time has come. After a devastating playoff loss to the Jets last season(255 days ago), Patriots fans have been waiting for revenge. Since the 2007-2008 season, the Pats haven't won a playoff game.

The drought is over Pats fans. The Patriots will win their first playoff game in four years come January 14th. The question is, who will they play? It's either going to be the Bengals, Broncos, or the Steelers. All three of these teams are very beatable. The Bengals are young and inexperienced, the Broncos, well, are the Broncos, and the Steelers are banged up. Big Ben isn't half the quarterback he truly is with his ankle injury. In my opinion, the fact that he played in week 17 was absolutely ridiculous. He looked terrible. But how can you blame him? Anyone trying to play quarterback on one foot would be terrible. That's on Mike Tomlin and the Steelers management. But I digress.

As everyone has been saying throughout the entire season, the defense must step it up if this team is going to make a run to Indianapolis. The great thing about the playoffs is that everyone has a clean slate. The regular season records are forgotten, and everyone starts out 0-0. The Patriots defense must have the same mentality. Forget everything that happened in the regular season including the criticism, and last place ranking.

The key to the Patriots defensive success is going to be their front four. The defensive line MUST pressure every quarterback they face. The backfield for the Patriots will not change. They are every inch of average and the only way the Patriots can avoid being lit up through the air is if the d-line brings the heat and doesn't allow the opposing teams receivers time to shake the defenders.

Now, do I dare bring up a controversial question that if the Patriots fail to win a playoff game this year, Bill Belichick should be put on the hot seat? No way right?

But no worries Pats fans, whether it's one, two, or hopefully three playoff wins, the Patriots winless drought ends next weekend.

Hockey Day in New England

There are a couple times each year when the sports calendar graces us with a weekend worthy of posting up on the couch and enjoying a plethora of meaningful events... And then there is this weekend. While the NFL playoff schedule will give us some intriguing matchups over the next two days, the Patriots have earned the right to take wild card weekend off. Don't worry, there will be plenty to keep you busy while the Texans and Bengals battle for the right to in all likelihood get stomped in the divisional round.

Being in the eastern time zone, it is rare that we get to wake up to a great game. Beginning at 9:30, NESN will be replaying game 7 of last year's finals. A game that will never really get old, it really won't be a bad way to start a day. The 4-0 outcome of that game seems like a nail biter compared to what this year's squad has been doing to the rest of the NHL. After Thursday's 9-0 blasting of Calgary, the B's have now reached 6 goals 11 times in 37 games this season. Next in line are Toronto and Pittsburgh... with 4.

Hopefully more of the same will be on hand as the Canucks make their only trip to Boston this season for the lone rematch of the year. Vancouver, never shy in their soft ways, has already decided to sit Stanley Cup goat Roberto Luongo for Corey Schneider. The former BC star, Schneider has proved to be one of the top backups in the league, and he will be tested early and often against the potent Boston lineup. Most of the time in situations regarding finals rematches the following year, the runners-up always seem more motivated than the defending champ. This game gives off no such vibe, as the emotions and hatred the Bruin players developed last June are not the kind to go away lightly. Neither team has had drastic changes to their lineup, and the Vancouver villains remain in blue and green. The Sedin sisters, Alex Burrows (the biter), and flop master Maxim Lapierre will all be back on the ice tomorrow.

To cap off the day, you'll be able to catch two NFL wild card games at 4 and 8pm. With Cincinnati and Houston doing nothing for me, I'll be making my way up to the Frozen Fenway doubleheader. College hockey is not exactly the sport of choice for anyone who did not attend a school rich in hockey tradition or grow up into it. However, the allure of bitter rivalries, throwback jerseys, and an ice rink at Fenway Park should be enough for any real sports fan to tune in. The first game is between UVM and UMass, and the marquee event will showcase one of the top rivalries in all of college sports between UNH and Maine. These schools have met for the national championship, produced dozens of NHL stars, and two years ago each had a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, the equivalent to the Heisman Trophy in hockey. Unlike the Heisman, only 3 players are voted finalists for the trophy, making the feat all the more impressive to have neighboring schools produce 2/3 of the top talent in the NCAA. This is by far the most anticipated game since I was introduced to UNH hockey as a freshman in Durham, NH in 2006.

So find a couch (or a bar), enjoy good company, and start the New Year off with a bang. If you aren't into hockey but love Boston sports (presumably why you're reading this), and you were ever going to sacrifice one day to really give the sport a chance, make it tomorrow.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Boston Throwback Player Of The Day

Rich 'El Guapo' Garces

Who is the largest man to ever wear number 34 at Fenway? The answer of course is not David Ortiz, but the man who donned the uniform for seven seasons prior to Papi's arrival, Rich Garces. He quickly became a fan favorite in Boston, a lovable character known as much for his husky build as much as anything he did on the mound. That of course is not enough to become an icon in this region, you also have to produce. El Guapo did just that, becoming a staple in the Sox bullpen. His career numbers in Boston are better than I realized, putting up a 23-8 record, never losing more than 2 games in a single season. His best two seasons came in Pedro's dominant years of 1999 and 2000, putting up a combined 13-2 record, including a 1.55 ERA in '99. "The Handsome One" finished out his career in 2007 pitching for the Independent League's Nashua Pride in a failed attempt to return to the big leagues.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Boston Throwback Player Of The Day

Patriots Linebacker ('93-'00)

The Super Bowl winning defenses of the early 2000's were led by a core group of players that had been young guns on the 1996 AFC Championship team. Bruschi. Law. McGinnest. Household names and legends in the Patriot community. The one mainstay on those defenses who didn't get to stick around for the glory days was Slade. With the success of the aforementioned names, it's easy to forget just how good Slade was. The second round pick (31st overall) in the Bledsoe draft, the monstrous 6'5'' 250 lb. linebacker was All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 1997. He compiled 51 sacks in his 8 year stay in Foxboro, and forced an unreal 16 fumbles in that time frame. Slade is now a sideline reporter for the University of Virginia broadcast team.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Boston Throwback Player Of The Day

                                                                     Antoine Walker

Instant classic. Antoine Walker was one of the most loved/hated Boston Celtic of his time. He would take some shots that made you pull your hair and curse at him, but he also made some of those shots that made you jump out of your seat in excitement. And of course, how can we forget the "Toine Shimmy."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Should Matt Flynn's Performance Give Brady the MVP?

I'm not, by any means, going to downplay the statistical freak season Aaron Rodgers put up this year. I'm not going to say that Tom Brady put up better numbers than Drew Brees or Rodgers because, quite simply, the numbers are so close to call that it's remarkable. I will give credit where credit is due. Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to the NFL's best record and for a large portion of the season had them in position for a run at an undefeated season.

However, I don't think that a 400+ yard 6 td performance by the backup quarterback is something to overlook. Listen, I realize that all great teams are great because they have a system that the players buy into. Stalwarts at the top of the NFL (Packers, Steelers, Patriots, Saints) all have two things in common, great head coaches and great quarterbacks. It would be naive to think that the system is greater than the player, or the player is greater than the system. They work in conjunction with one another. Furthermore, no team is traditionally great without an outstanding supporting cast (offensively, defensively, special teams).

Up until this point I thought that (for the argument of MVP's sake because it is a three horse race) the Packers, Saints, and Patriots all had relatively equal weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, the Packers use more WR's than tight ends, the Patriots seemingly use more tight ends than WR's, while the Saints use a compliment of both. However, Matt Flynn's performance raises 2 potential alternatives; is the talent surrounding Aaron Rodgers so good that it makes a backup QB like Matt Flynn look like an All Pro? Have we been giving too much credit to Aaron Rodgers, and not enough to Mike McCarthy and the rest of his playmakers?

Everyone remembers back in 2008 when Tom Brady tore his ACL and in stepped Matt Cassel. Cassel led the team to an 11-5 record and put up very solid numbers. People heralded Cassel as a future star, and teams were phoning the Patriots trying to trade for him. He ultimately went to Kansas City and has been a relative disappointment thus far; unable to mirror the success he had in New England. Cassel has weapons in Kansas City. Some might even argue, overall, he has relatively equal weapons to the Patriots (Jamaal Charles, Jackie Battle, Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, not bad at all). However, the success hasn't been nearly the same.

What then, can you attribute to his shortcomings? You can blame the other areas such as defense and special teams, while you can also blame the system in place by the Kansas City coaches and front office. Regardless, something has not been clicking with Cassel in Kansas City like it seemingly did in New England. If Matt Flynn were to be traded at the end of the year, would you expect results like we witnessed today? Clearly expectations would have to be tailored, but in reality, his performance today was statistically better than any in the HISTORY of the Green Bay Packers.

My ultimate point is this. While MVP front-runners Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have been putting up excellent numbers this year and have done a fantastic job, is there any argument that Tom Brady has done more with less? He is playing alongside, statistically, one of the worst defenses in NFL HISTORY and has clinched AFC home-field throughout the playoffs. The two aforementioned quarterbacks have far superior "team" talent around them, and in the point of Matt Flynn, the backup did something historically, that his starter had never done.

While I'm not telling you to call Aaron Rodgers a system quarterback (because I'm not...he's an all pro and one of the most talented players in the NFL) and devalue his importance to the Packers, I'm asking you to re-evaluate the importance of Tom Brady to the New England Patriots this season, who took a team with one of the worst defenses EVER and won another division with them, along with a #1 overall seed. Yes, Matt Cassel did have success in the Patriots' system, but it's important to note that he was playing alongside a defense that had just went to the Superbowl and had returned almost every starter (similar to what Rodgers did this year). While Brady has weapons offensively, football is a team game. It takes a good offense and defense to be successful. The level of responsibility on Tom Brady to offensively, keep this team in games this season, has been unmatched in the history of the National Football League.

For these reasons, I ultimately believe Tom Brady's season is undoubtedly deserving of the MVP award.