Sunday, December 28, 2008

End of the season

The New England Patriots won five of their last six regular season games to finish up at 11-5, but still failed to make the cut for the playoffs. In the NFL, it is a rarity for a team with such a record to miss out on the post season tournament. However, the Patriots have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their fannies off and never made excuses for the ungodly number of injuries to star players and key contributors. How about this list of missing Patriots in action for today's game vs. Buffalo?

Tom Brady, Adalius Thomas, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi.

Other Patriots who didn't play today - Laurence Maroney, Pierre Woods, and Gary Guyton.

Key contributors who missed games this season include LaMont Jordan, Ty Warren, and James Sanders.

Honestly, if they made the playoffs, the likelihood of them making it past the first round wasn't good. Their eleven wins were partially a result of a soft schedule and their pass defense has been their Achilles heel all season. Teams in the playoffs don't have the likes of JaMarcus Russell and Seneca Wallace playing QB.

As a 14 year Patriots season ticket holder, I'm proud of this team for the way they kept taking punch after punch. Actually, it was more like haymaker after haymaker, yet they still kept moving forward, winning games, and overcoming the odds. Good job, boys. See you at camp in July.

Lastly, if this was his swan song with the team, a big THANK YOU goes out to Matt Cassel for the TERRIFIC job he did for stepping into what was a seemingly impossible task 17 weeks ago - How would you replace Tom Brady if the best QB on the planet went down hurt? Cassel isn't Tom Brady, but he sure did an admirable job filling in for him, improving each week, and playing with guts and heart. Cassel's performance made what looked to be a bleak season, a fun and interesting one. Considering his impending free agency, let's just say the current recession won't be impacting the Cassel household during the offseason.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday's Fallout

Some thoughts from around the NFL:

Cleveland QB Ken Dorsey might want to brush up on his resume and evaluate his life's work after football.

Same goes for Lions head coach Rod Marinelli, who looks completely shell shocked after each loss by the Lions.

Howie Long had it right at halftime yesterday. Matt Cassel is printing money right now.

So much for the potential Jets-Giants Super Bowl that was being talked about last month.

Same ol' Jets. Same ol' Brett Favre. Big Game Brett comes up small again in an important game.

Loved Titans RB Chris Johnson, taunting and high stepping at the six yard line as he went past Steelers safety Troy Polamalu into the end zone.

The NFL - No Fun League - how can Wes Welker get a 15 yd penalty for making a snow angel after a TD?

At 11-5, the Patriots might miss the playoffs, while the Broncos and Chargers could go either 9-7 or 8-8 and win their division. Unreal.

Think the Atlanta Falcons fans miss Michael Vick?

The Arizona Cardinals looked like they wanted to be anywhere else in the world than at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

The Dolphins keep trucking along. What a story. They are in the drivers' seat to win the AFC East next week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy 65th Birthday, Keith

Happy 65th birthday to one of the all time rock greats and legendary consumer of legal and illegal substances Keith Richards. Keith's now officially a senior citizen, although he's looked like one for at least 20 years!

Keith has always been the riff master with the guitar, coming up with the classic intros to Brown Sugar, Happy, Satisfaction, etc. Technically, he is the Rolling Stones' rhythm guitarist, but he and Ron Wood generally play off each other, taking turns trading guitar licks.

The big question is, how is he still alive? How does he do it? He's used drugs for a long time (not sure if he still does), he was a heroin addict for 10 years, he's been known to take a few drinks, he has an omnipresent cigarette dangling from his lips, and during the 1970's, he seemed hell bent on seeing how much abuse his body can take.

Despite all this, Keith and the Stones still tour and fill arenas and stadiums. Their most recent album from 2005, A Bigger Bang, was their best album since 1972's Exile On Main Street. Hopefully, the Stones have another new album out soon and carry forward the success of A Bigger Bang.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Patriots-Raiders post game thoughts

Some Patriots-Raiders post game thoughts..

I am a Lamont Jordan fan. He runs angry and he's big. I'm hoping the Patriots have a spot for him on next season's roster.

Jordan and Sammy Morris are both big, physical backs that can move the chains and are capable of 100 yard games. What's not to like? As far as I'm concerned, Laurence Maroney is now expendable.

If the Detroit Lions weren't so bad, then the Oakland Raiders would be the worst team in the NFL. How do they have three wins, one of which is against the Jets? How badly does a team have to play to lose to them?

Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell definitely needs some QB guru type to coach him. He's big, can move, has a rocket for an arm, but can't play the QB position at all right now.

The Patriots special teams tackling is still atrocious.

Was there any doubt that Randy Moss would get at least one TD yesterday?

How does Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan still have a job? That defense looked confused, they can't tackle, and they were outcoached.

Matt Cassel had 4 TD's and 1 INT yesterday. However, the interception was Ben Watson's fault, because Watson stone fingered a pass right to him that he tipped to a Raiders defender.

What boggles my mind is the Patriots could finish 11-5 and miss out on the playoffs.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Loading Up

After missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1994 season, the New York Yankees continue to load up on big name free agent pitchers. First it was CC Sabathia, who received a record 7 year, $161 million deal from the Yankees, now it's A.J. Burnett, who has agreed to a 5 year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees.

Burnett's stuff is as nasty as anyone in baseball. When he is on, he's unhittable. However, he's prone to losing focus if he feels he's being squeezed by the home plate umpire or if his defense makes an error behind him.

Due to his physical ability, expectations are always high for Burnett. Can he handle the pressure cooker environment of the Bronx, particularly, if he has a few games in which he struggles?

Bottom line: The Yankees have improved themselves significantly by adding this pair of power arms to their starting rotation.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jason Varitek By The Numbers

25 numerical reasons why Jason Varitek should not be re-signed by the Boston Red Sox:

37 - His age in April

.359 - His slugging percentage in 2008. A career low.

.050 - His batting average in the 2008 ALCS.

8 - the number of times he struck out in 20 AB's in the ALCS.

22% - the number of runners he threw out attempting to steal in 2008.

-2.1 - VORP for 2008 - value over replacement player.

.220 - Varitek's 2008 batting average.

423 - the number of AB's Varitek had in 2008.

.313 - Varitek's 2008 OBP, which is 33 points lower than his career OBP.

.201 - 2008 batting average hitting left handed vs. right handed pitching.

328 - the number of at bats in 2008, in which Varitek batted left handed.

102 - the number of strikeouts Jason Varitek had batting left handed in 2008.

.122 - Varitek's batting average in June 2008.

.183 - Varitek's batting average in Sept./Oct. 2008.

.157 - Varitek's 2008 batting average with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.

4 - the number of Varitek HR's at Fenway Park in 2008.

15 - Varitek's RBI total in the second half of 2008.

.293 - Varitek's left handed OBP in 2008.

.323 - Varitek's left handed slugging percentage in 2008

.175 - Varitek's batting average with runners in scoring position in 2008.

21 - the number of hits in 2008, Varitek had with runners in scoring position.

14 - percentage of line drives hit by Varitek in 2008; the lowest % among qualified players

.672 - Jason Varitek's OPS for 2008. This number is lower than Julio Lugo's.

10,400,000 - Jason Varitek's 2008 salary.

1041.3 - the number of innings Varitek caught in 2008.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Illinois Corruption

"If [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor." Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office

Governor Rod Blagojevich. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun. Governor George Ryan. Governor Otto Kerner. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski.

All of them are high profile Illinois politicians caught up in scandal over the last 35 years, in which three of them went to jail and Blagojevich will likely be the fourth to go to jail. Only Moseley-Braun, investigated by the Federal Elections Commission for $249,000 in missing campaign funds, has eluded conviction.

Blagojevich was already surrounded by scandal and under federal investigation for several instances of fraud and corruption, before the current scandal where he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat came to light. His behavior has been so corrupt, sleazy and shameless, it is unimaginable how he can remain Governnor of Illinois for much longer.

What a state. And we thought the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was bad when it came to corruption? When it comes to fraud and corruption, if Massachusetts is playing Pop Warner football, then Illinois is playing in the NFL.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ranking the Major Boston Sports Teams - December 2008

As we move quickly towards the end of 2008, Boston sports fans continue to be spoiled by the success of our local major sports teams. We could easily be like Detroit, with a Stanley Cup Champion hockey team, paired with a winless and hapless football team. All four of our teams are more than competitive. We have reached the point where our expectation levels of our teams are so high, if a team doesn't win a championship, the season is a disappointment. I freely admit to being the guiltiest in this regard. Looking at the Boston sports landscape, I decided it would be fun to rank them in order as to which team is currently the most successful for the year 2008.

1.) The Boston Celtics - Championship rings talk and the Celtics not only won the NBA championship in 2008, but so far in the 2008-2009 season, seem hell bent on proving last season's championship was anything but a fluke. Paul Pierce may be the captain of the team, but the emotional leader is Kevin Garnett, who sets the tone for intensity and the team's focus on defense. Before he joined the Celtics, I didn't realize HOW GOOD Kevin Garnett was. Anyone can score and rebound. However, the things he does in games that don't even show up on a stat sheet, such as tipping loose balls in the air to keep rebounds alive and altering shots on defense by his mere presence in the lane are what make me truly admire his game.

OUTLOOK - Right now, seemingly the only team in the Eastern Conference that can prevent a Celtic return to the NBA Finals is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other than injuries, my only concern about the Celtics is the absence of James Posey come playoff time. Leon Powe and Tony Allen have both been excellent off the bench this season. Can we count on Tony Allen to be the defensive stopper and make a big basket down the stretch in a playoff game like Posey?

2.) The Boston Bruins - Yes, THE BOSTON BRUINS! If you haven't watched any Bruins games so far this season, I highly recommend you start tuning in to Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on NESN three times a week, because this team is a real treat. Hallmarks of Bruins teams the last 17 seasons were bad coaching, shaky goaltending, porous defense, and lack of scoring punch. The 2008-09 Bruins feature terrific coaching, an excellent 1-2 combination between the pipes, a hard hitting defense, and three legitimate scoring lines - led by bonafide sniper Phil Kessel, who is currently on pace to pot 46 goals. You like hitting? Follow rugged second year winger Milan Lucic around the ice, because he hits everything in his path. Lucic is a crowd favorite at the Garden.

OUTLOOK - I love what I see. The Boston Bruins are the top team in the Eastern Conference. Coach Claude Julien has them playing hard on both ends of the ice. His best coaching move came back in April when he benched Phil Kessel in last season's playoff game vs. Montreal, sending a message that lackadaisical effort on defense won't be tolerated. Kessel now back checks and works hard on both ends of the ice. His maturation process this season has been impressive. Every night, a solid player is inactivated, because all four lines are playing well, and they can only activate 20 players per game. There's a cup Bruin in Boston!

3.) The Boston Red Sox - Despite making it to game seven of the ALCS, I thought the Red Sox had a disappointing 2008 season. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis had MVP caliber seasons, but I thought the season was marked by underachievement and injuries. This team drove me crazy. Never did the team truly get hot and rip off a 10 game winning streak. The set up guys in the bullpen were inconsistent most of the season. David Ortiz and Josh Beckett had disappointing years, and Clay Buchholz and Jason Varitek were flat out AWFUL. The best story of the season was the development of Jon Lester, who twirled a no hitter in May and finished the season with 16 wins.

OUTLOOK - The Red Sox need to make a decision as to what to do at catcher. I'd like to see them move on from Jason Varitek. GM Theo Epstein is always creative, so I'm confident he will be able to craft something together to move the team forward at the catching position. The team is loaded with young pitching, who can be used as bargaining chips in potential trades. David Ortiz was not himself at any time last season, so the team needs to hedge its bets in terms of getting some extra thump in the lineup. Was Ortiz's season a result of the injured wrist or is age starting to show? The Red Sox are still among the best of the American League, but changes need to be made on offense to keep this team a World Series Champion caliber squad.

4.) The New England Patriots - Please raise your hand if you thought back in December 2007, that the undefeated Patriots would be the 4th ranked team in Boston twelve months later. Right, I didn't think so. Bill Belichick coached teams always have been known for the strength of their defense. The 2008 edition of the New England Patriots features the team's worst defense since the 2000 season; Belichick's first year coaching the team. The secondary is atrocious and the team's pass rush is in the Witness Protection Program. Why any team would bother to run against the Patriots is something I don't understand. The most enjoyable parts of this season have been the development of QB Matt Cassel and the contributions of unrestricted free agents Gary Guyton at LB and BenJarvus Green-Ellis at RB.

OUTLOOK - The dynasty is officially over. Unless the Patriots run the table the rest of the regular season, they will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Tom Brady injury or not, this team was ultimately doomed from the start because of the play of the secondary. The defense cannot get off the field on 3rd down and they are terrible in the red zone. It is also time to upgrade the offensive line by investing in a new left tackle who can move his feet vs. speed rushers. Matt Light would be better at right tackle at this point in his career. I'm hoping the Patriots are aggressive in offseason free agency, as well as in the draft looking to upgrade the secondary, the OL, and finding another pass rushing DE/LB to pair with Adalius Thomas.

Patriots vs. Seahawks Preview

Good news for the Patriots. According to, QB Matt Hasselbeck and star LT Walter Jones are likely out for the Seahawks today. However, I wouldn't put it past the Patriots secondary to make Seahawks backup QB Seneca Wallace look like Ken Stabler, circa 1976.

I like the idea of Rosevelt Colvin and Junior Seau being back on the Pats for the stretch run. Both have been solid contributors in the past, and I'm sure Coach Belichick is happy about having "his guys" around who are fresh from not having played, as well as understanding where they are supposed to be on defense.

Against the pass, the Seahawks defense ranks last in the NFL, allowing 265 passing yards per game. Look for the Pats to run their spread offense and QB Matt Cassel to sling it around the field.

The most underrated free agency departure during the Bill Belichick/Scott Pioli era was TE Daniel Graham going to the Broncos. Graham sometimes dropped easy passes, but he was a beast when it came to blocking and was always exciting running over and through people after a catch. Current Pats TE David Thomas is mostly invisible and I can't recall the last time Ben Watson actually got yards after a catch. Considering the Seahawks weak pass defense, could today be the game where Watson gets a catch and doesn't just fall down?

Seahawks RB Julius Jones has been a lone brightspot for the Seahawks with 674 rushing yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

This game should be a blowout - Patriots 37 Seahawks 16

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another Member of The Jeffersons Family Passes Away

One of my favorite shows of the late 70's - early 80's was The Jeffersons. Sherman Hemsley's depiction of the obnoxious and slightly racist George Jefferson was hilarious. If you've ever seen Hemsley on any other show (such as when he was on VH1's The Surreal Life), you realize he's a reserved, soft spoken person. This makes his performance as George Jefferson, all the more impressive.

Earlier this week, Paul Benedict, who played Mr. Bentley on The Jeffersons, passed away. Looking back on the show and thinking of the characters, the only main actor and actress who are still alive from the show are:

Sherman Hemsley - George
Marla Gibbs - Florence the maid

Now the children of the Willises and Jeffersons played lesser parts on the show. Two of the three of them are still alive:

Berlinda Tolbert - Jenny
Damon Evans - the second Lionel

Paul Benedict, Mike Evans (the first Lionel), Roxie Roker (Helen Willis), Franklin Cover (Tom Willis), Zara Cully (Mother Jefferson), and Isabel Sanford (Louise) are all dead.

I can't think of any show from the last 30-35 years that has been hit as hard by death as The Jeffersons.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Save America, Buy an American Big 3 SUV or Truck

Everyday the last few months, we get bludgeoned over the head with the same story: the American economy is B-A-D - in the toilet BAD. Every week there's a new large corporation looking for a handout from the federal govenrment to save their flagging company.

The big news on Capitol Hill lately, is the Big 3 Auto companies - Ford, GM, and Chrysler looking for a $25 billion bailout. Of the three companies, Ford is, by far, in the best shape financially. I believe that a bailout is needed for Ford and GM, and that Chrysler should fail. Chrysler makes sub par products, that mostly rate below average in terms of reliability. GM and particularly Ford, have come a LONG way in terms of reliability. Ford cars now compare favorably to Honda - the best car company in the world.

A failure to bailout will have a major negative reverberation on the U.S. economy on auto parts manufacturers and dealerships. This can't happen. Restructuring by the surviving companies will need to be done, such as GM selling Saturn, Saab and/or Pontiac and Ford stopping production of Mercury.

However, there is one thing the U.S. car shopping consumer can do to help save these companies - buy a Ford or GM SUV or pickup truck. These always have been high quality, well made vehicles. Gas prices are low and plummeting downward toward $1.00 per gallon. Right now, it doesn't even cost $40 to fill up a Ford Explorer. Buy an American made SUV or truck, show your pride in American craftsmanship, and put money into the economy and into saving these companies.

Don't let the tree huggers and fossil fuel fighters dissuade you from doing your patriotic duty in supporting American products. American are about BIG cars, BIG SUVs, and BIG trucks. We always have been. When I see one of those Smart cars or an underpowered Toyota Prius, I want to vomit. So, buy that big American SUV or truck you always wanted. You'll be doing the right thing to help save our economy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Securing your PC

Today's post will veer away from the usual politics, sports and pop culture topics and focus on securing your personal computer. Every week, more people are using their computer to perform tasks such as paying their bills and banking on line, as well as storing photos and music. Considering all the worms, viruses, and spyware (often referred to under the encompassing term "malware") lurking on the internet desperate for its chance to infest your computer, it is more important than ever to secure your PC.

Like most IT professionals, whenever a family member or close family friend has an issue with their home computer, I get the call to fix it. Recently, I came across an unusually stubborn infestation of malware on a laptop (not mine). When looking for software products to clean infected machines, one must be careful, due to the number of rogue spyware and antivirus software "solutions" out on the internet that can make your computer worse! Here's a rule of thumb: ALWAYS go to to find the software solutions you need. They have an editor's review and both editor's and user's ratings of the software.

The combination of the following software, available on, cleaned the laptop and brought it back to proper working order.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0.176, is a free antivirus solution that does a a fine job in keeping your computer virus free. I don't care for all encompassing solutions that you have to pay for such as McAfee Security Center. AVG Antivirus is highly rated and you can download the latest antivirus definition files to keep your antivirus software updated and your computer protected. Here's the link to download:

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.31 is the best malware killing product I have seen. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware found files and registry entries that other products such as Windows Defender and Spybot didn't find. Download this and run a full scan with your computer in Safe Mode (to get into Safe Mode, press F8 several times when your computer is in the BIOS, just after you turn it on). The scanning process is relatively quick (anyware from 10-25 minutes). I recommend running it a few times. Ultimately, I think you need to purchase the product, but it is free to try. If you have a computer infested with malware, don't hesitate to download this.

ZoneAlarm Firewall by CheckPoint - ZoneAlarm is a terrific software firewall solution for your PC. Let me be clear: YOU MUST HAVE A SOFTWARE FIREWALL ON YOUR PC! CONSIDER IT AS IMPORTANT AS ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE. I've been running ZoneAlarm on my home PC for four years, and have never had any problems. ZoneAlarm is free (although there is a pay version with more features called ZoneAlarm Pro) and easy to use and the default settings should suffice for most users. My favorite feature is you can set the firewall's Internet Zone Security and Trusted Zone Security to high - which puts it in stealth mode and is hidden and protected. One note regarding ZoneAlarm - when you first install it, you'll get warnings, such as, do you want to allow access of software such as Internet Explorer to the Trusted Security Zone. Make sure to check the box to remember the setting. Here is the link to download :

By downloading and installing these pieces of software, and scanning with these tools daily, you can be assured that your computer will run cleanly and effectively for a long time. Happy computing!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kerry "bored" with being a senator

According to the Boston Herald's Inside Track today, Senator John Kerry is miffed about being passed over for the Obama Administration's Secretary of State position. A political source is quoted as saying Kerry is "bored with being a senator".

My response? Of course he's going to be bored. He doesn't do ANYTHING in his role as Senator!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Always a great get together with family where we stuff our faces and imbibe our favorite adult beverages. Some thoughts for the day:

Keeping Julio Lugo and making him the the "utility player extraordinaire" isn't the worst idea in the world. Granted he's an expensive part, but he is an upgrade over Alex Cora and can play the OF, too.

If the Minnesota Vikings fire head coach Brad Childress and acquire QB Matt Cassel in the offseason, they are a lock to be in the NFC Championship next year.

It's time to take the Thanksgiving game tradition away from the Detroit Lions. They are an embarrassment.

I haven't attended a high school Thanksgiving Day game in at least 20 years and have no intention on putting an end to that streak anytime soon.

I propose that the presidential inauguration day be moved up to one month after the election, as opposed to waiting until late January of the New Year. George W. Bush might as well be in Crawford, TX on vacation, because he's been mostly invisible since February. He isn't engaged in the presidential process and seemingly has all the interest in performing his duties as your average employee who hates his job and just gave his two week notice.

One thing I'm not thankful for today: the return of John Kerry to the U.S. Senate for six more years. Kerry is a bloviating loafer, who's the 100th most effective member of the U.S. Senate.

I hope A-Rod and Madonna have a happy first Thanksgiving together.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Matt Cassel

Remember 3 months ago, when after the final preseason game, it was almost certain that Matt Cassel would be cut? Back then, I had more confidence in him than most fans; the vast majority of whom were looking for a public hanging of him in the town square at the end of preseason. I figured Cassel could step in and be adequate, if God forbid, Tom Brady went down with an injury. He had three years of experience working the offense and during that time, was the caddy for the best QB in football and must have learned something along the way from Brady. However, I freely admit I had my doubts about Cassel, particularly after the first Dolphins game and his DREADFUL performance in the San Diego loss.

Over the last several weeks, Cassel has shown continuous improvement and increasing comfort in the pocket and reading defenses. We all were impressed last week with the way he led the team back vs. the Jets in Foxboro. However, we were all still concerned about his ability to hit passes longer than 20 yards.

Today? Matt Cassel was awesome! No, make that HOLY CRAP AWESOME! Cassel was 30-43, 415 yds, 3 TD passes, 1 rushing TD, and 1 INT (which was not his fault). He could've had even more yards, if Jabar Gaffney hadn't dropped a perfectly placed throw. Gaffney would've been running for a while if he had held onto that pass.

What we saw today from Cassel was toughness, poise, competitive fire, and calm in the eye of the storm with blitzers in his face. Time after time, Cassel delivered passes that sliced up the Dolphins secondary with surgical precision. His ability to move in the pocket and escape the rush has turned into a major asset for the offense. No longer is Cassel the undecisive statue standing in the pocket waiting to be sacked.

Some of my favorite highlights of the day: The QB sneak in which he was initially stopped, but he kept driving his legs and pulled Dolphins defensive linemen for a six yard gain. Then as he got up he got his helmet in the face of a few of the Dolphin tacklers. I'm guessing he probably told those Dolphin defenders, the next time they get taken for a ride like that to bring cab fare. How about the perfectly thrown 29 yd. TD pass to Randy Moss? How about him making play after play, despite knowing he was going to get drilled by a Dolphins defender?

That was a Brady-esque 2007 performance by Matt Cassel today. Ultimately, I think the 2008 Patriots are doomed because of their pourous secondary. Their secondary is so bad, former Patriot DB reject Earthwind Moreland looks like a Pro Bowler compared to this edition of the secondary. However, the vast improvement of Matt Cassel (as well as surprise contributions from fourth string running back Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis) has made this season an entertaining one to watch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Together We Can

The Boston Herald has a wonderful expose today on the abuse of campaign war chests and the complete lack of ethics of some Massachusetts House and Senate members.

Now is the time where everyone is being squeezed. Companies are laying off employees, raises for 2009 will be in jeopardy at many companies, food prices are high, and if you work in Boston the price of taking the MBTA or driving on the Mass Pike is going up. However, if you are a Massachusetts lawmaker, life is GREAT. Particularly, if you have a campaign war chest left over from the last brutal campaign in which you ran unopposed.

While technically not illegal, the use of campaign funds to pay for luxury automobiles, and the willingness to accept per diem travel allowances, shows that our lawmakers are not serious about any sort of ethics reform nor appropriately managing the state budget in a time of major economic trouble.

I wasn't aware that it was actually legal for legislators to use such campaign funds for day to day living expenses. Why would anyone in their right mind, donate any money to these people when their campaign donations go straight to letting them drive the car of their dreams? Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford may have a 120 mile round trip commute to Beacon Hill, but at least he's riding in style in a campaign funded Infiniti with the gas already paid for, thanks to his per diem allowance. Senator Montigny hasn't had a serious challenger for his seat in his 16 years in the Senate, yet he has one of the largest warchests on Beacon Hill.

Why does Speaker Sal DiMasi need a travel per diem allowance, when he lives 3 miles from the State House? Big Pimpin' Sal is rolling around in an $845 a month Lincoln Navigator; naturally paid for by campaign funds. The tree huggers aren't going to be too happy with Big Pimpin' Sal, when they read he's driving a large and thirsty SUV that only gets 15 MPG. I thought only Republicans polluted the environment? Where's Al Gore when you need him to lecture Sal that "the earth has a fever"?

However, I'm certain any sort of ethics reform in this regard will occur around the same time the Detroit Lions win a Super Bowl. So, the next time you read about a deficit in our state budget, remember, our lawmakers are doing all they can to contribute to it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quick Hits

Thursday night's loss vs. the Jets is the second close loss of the season for the Patriots; the other being the game vs. the Colts. My biggest concern is the secondary, particularly Brandon Meriwether playing 25 yds off the line of scrimmage on 3rd down and 15 in overtime. The Patriots definitely need to put more focus on getting quality veterans (as well as draft picks) for the secondary.

No one is noticing, but the Boston Bruins are playing great hockey and are in first place in the Northeast Division at 10-3-3. They were particularly impressive vs. the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night getting every loose puck, hitting hard, and getting quality goaltending. Of course it also helps when the puck finds the net. They have another tough game tonight at the Garden vs. the Atlantic Division leading NY Rangers.

The Yankees offered CC Sabathia a ton of money. Yawn.

How embarrassing must Barry Melrose have been as Tampa Bay Lightning head coach to be fired six weeks into the regular season?

When he retired, I was hoping we were done with loudmouth defensive lineman Warren Sapp for good. But now he's on NFL Network all the time, as well as Dancing with the Stars (which I don't watch). I don't understand why this jerk gets a forum to pop off his ill advised opinions. Why is he badmouthing Keyshawn Johnson, when Key has been retired for a few seasons? Sapp mailed it in and got fat during his entire Raiders tenure. He stole Al Davis' money. Just go away and continue to get fatter, Warren.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Patriots-Bills Aftermath

The Patriots took care of the Buffalo Bills yesterday, with another bland, death by a thousand paper cuts style, defeating the Bills 20-10. Matt Cassel, once again, continues to show improvement with his presence in the pocket and his ability to get the ball down the field. He missed on a few longer throws, in which you couldn't help but assume if Tom Brady were playing, those throws would've connected. However, Cassel continues to be effective and has been an asset at QB the last four games.

The win does come at a major cost - star LB Adalius Thomas broke his forearm and could be out for the season. Thomas has really played well this season, and his athleticism and flexibility in the various defensive schemes will be missed.

BenJarvus Ellis-Green played an excellent game at RB, in which he had 26 carries for 105 yards and a TD. Ellis-Green runs hard and hits the hole quickly. He's the antithesis of Laurence "Tip Toe Through The Tulips" Maroney when it comes to finding and hitting the hole. Instead of dancing in the backfield looking for the big gain, Eliis-Green "gets it" when it comes to playing the position. He shoots for the hole and is willing to take the two yard gain, as opposed to looking for the longer gain which could wind up as a three yard loss.

Other than a few series' where they had difficulty tackling, the Patriots defense played stout. The much maligned Patriots secondary did a great job limiting the Bills to short and intermediate range pass completions. They also had two nice interceptions - one by Ellis Hobbs and the other by Delthea O'Neal.

The only area the Patriots weren't dominant yesterday was special teams. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a rough game, missing a FG, as well as sending a kickoff out of bounds which was penalized and gave the Bills the ball at their own 40 yard line. Gostkowski also was faked out of his jock and missed a tackle on a long kickoff return late in the game by Bills return man Leodis McKelvin.

The opportunity to savor this victory is already over, because the Patriots have a short week ahead. Their next game is this Thursday vs. their main division rival, the New York Jets, at Gillette Stadium. The Jets have been playing great football of late and are tied for first place with the Patriots at 6-3 (although right now the Patriots own the tiebreaker after defeating the Jets in Week Two).

Thursday night's game should be a hard hitting, meaningful affair. I'm already looking forward to watching these two teams slug it out for sole ownership of first place atop the AFC East standings.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sunday Talk Shows

I fully expect this week's Sunday morning political shows to be a love in across the board. Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer, and George Stephanopoulos will be fawning all over their Democratic guests celebrating the big Obama Presidential victory. It'll be so nauseating to watch, the only part of the celebration missing will be John Lennon with a guitar leading the hosts and guests in singing an updated version of "Give Peace A Chance" called "Give Obama A Chance".

On Meet the Press, Obama-Biden Transition Team co-chair Valerie Jarrett will be the featured guest. One of the guests also scheduled to appear will be Presidential historian/alleged plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin. She may be the most B-O-R-I-N-G person in America. When she speaks, my eyelids get very heavy.

Speaking of bores, former Presidential adviser David Gergen will be a guest on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Gergen is always full of himself when he makes television appearances and speaks every sentence with the gravity of if he's about to declare thermonuclear war. This Week looks to be the strongest of the shows, because George also scored a coup getting old Clinton Administration teammate Rahm Emanuel to appear. George Will will be the token conservative making an appearance on tomorrow's show.

Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer also has Emanuel appearing as a guest, as well as John Harris of and NY Times pseudo conservative David Brooks. Other than when Harris is on, I likely won't be watching much of Face The Nation.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Obama and the Democratic Majority

Congratulations to Barack Obama for being elected the 44th President of the United States. He ran a brilliant campaign that energized voters all across the country who were tired of President George W. Bush. Fair or not, the President gets the blame when the economy sours. The tanking of the stock market due to the credit crisis, is the exclamation point on Bush's terrible second term, featuring record budget deficits and oil prices reaching sky high levels. The legacy of Bush's second term were the lasting images of the suffering of the people of New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina and the Bush Administration's bungling of the situation.

I am willing to give President-elect Obama a chance. However, I expect Obama and the Democrats to overreach and veer far to the left, just like the GOP veered far to the right in 2000.

President-elect Obama could not have made a better choice for Chief of Staff than Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton Administration veteran. Emanuel is well known for his intensity and willingness to step on toes and get in people's faces to get results. I expect Emanuel to run a very efficient White House operation.

After vaguely denying his interest in the role during his re-election campaign, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is angling for the Secretary of State position. I'm hoping Obama selects him, so that the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be emancipated from Kerry's 24 year reign of idleness in the Senate. Countries of the world are familiar with Senator Kerry due to his 2004 Presidential run. They will love John Kerry as Secretary of State, particularly France. He's long winded, looks French, and will appease them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The "I'm Sick of Politics" Post

Granted it is Election Day, but today's post is going to be about what's been on my television of late.

Monday night - 8:00 PM - While flicking through the channels, the original Rocky was on AMC. I'm a sucker for Rocky. I cannot help but watch it everytime it is on. I've seen it dozens of times. The movie is unquestionably one of the best movies ever made. The depth of Sylvester Stallone's performance is so awe inspiring, that it almost justifies the stinkers he made later in his career such as "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot", "Over The Top", "Rhinestone", and "Cobra".

Thursday night - 9:00 PM - The Office is as close to "Must See Network TV" as there is for me. The over the top antics of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and the uptight, overly ambitious Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) carry the show. There are always a few funny and cringe worthy moments; particularly when Michael is conducting a workshop on Ethics or Diversity.

Thursday night - 10:00 PM - I'm a sucker for VH1's Celebreality shows. If it's not The Surreal Life, it's Rock of Love or Celebrity Fit Club. Right now, I'm watching Celebrity Rehab. Watching fourth rate celebrities such as Jeff Conaway (Bobby from Taxi and Kenickie from Grease) and former Guns 'N Roses drummer Steve Adler is like watching a train crash. You can't turn away. Everytime I watch one of the VH1 Celebreality shows, I can feel the brain cells disintegrating in my head. However, I can't shut these shows off.

Sunday night - 10:00 PM - Entourage - This is my favorite show on TV. The show is funny, has interesting story lines, and great dialogue. Entourage has it all. Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold is THE best character on all of network and cable TV. My only criticism of the show is the number of hot women "E" hooks up with. How's that 5 foot nothing scoring hot girl after hot girl? The only guy that small who's been with more women is Prince back in his Purple Rain days.

Monday night - 10:00 PM - The Hills - My wife watches this show religiously, I abhor it. I cannot even be in the same room when it is on. My understanding of the show is it is a scripted reality show. It has to be scripted, because there is no way these characters would hang out with each other in real life. Every week someone is always mad at one of the others and wants to stab the person they are angry at in the neck with a steak knife. Why would you want that kind of drama in your life? If you don't like someone, DON'T HANG OUT WITH THEM!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Football and Other Opinions

Random thoughts for a Sunday:

This election season is the worst one ever for dissenting opinions, particularly those who vote Democrat. Liberals pride themselves on their "tolerance" for others; as long as you agree with their viewpoint. If you don't than you are, "stupid" and "you lack intellectual curiousity".

I never understood the fanfare for Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. I've always felt he's an overrated coach who can't take his team to The Promised Land. Remember his poor clock management vs. the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX? How about his overemphasis on the pass? In order to win it all, you need to have a solid running attack. Reid has always ignored this concept.

Tim Wakefield has consistently thrown 200+ innings for the Red Sox over the last several years. However, he's a mediocre performer in the regular season, terrible in the playoffs, and he'll be 43 years old. I don't understand why the Red Sox would want to continue keeping him on the team when there are better pitchers available both internally in the farm system as well as in free agency.

The Red Sox front office has always been creative to get the players they want. I'm hoping they're creative on the catching front this offseason and move on from Jason Varitek.

Despite being oft ignored due to the championships of the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox, the Boston Bruins are a good hockey team this year. They have good depth on the lines, featuring veterans such as Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm, and Marc Savard mixed in with quality young players who are blossoming such as Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, David Krecji, and Milan Lucic. Offseason free agent pickup Michael Ryder has been pretty good, so far. The defense is filled with solid veterans such as Zdeno Chara, Aaron Ward, Andrew Ference, as well as young puck handling defenseman Dennis Wideman. I still have concerns about the goaltending and they could use a sniper who can put the puck in the net, but this edition of the Bruins is the most promising one I've seen in years.

John McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live last night (three days before the election) was beneath him. It smacked of desperation.

Whatever happened to the British New Wave band Haircut 100, who brought us the classic 1982 song, "Love Plus One"? I heard that song last week sitting by the pool at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. I forgot what a damn good and catchy tune that is.

Even though there are three months left in the NFL season, I'm hoping the Patriots will heed my long held opinion that their offensive line needs an upgrade in the offseason.

Every year, I'm stunned by how bad the QB play is in the NFL, but this season is the worst! Guys such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Thigpen, J.T. O'Sullivan, Tarvaris Jackson, and Dan Orlovsky have no concept how to play the position. Orlovsky made what had to be the worst QB play ever, when he ran out of the end zone unintentionally for a safety as he was rolling out of the pocket.

The Minnesota Vikings would be a much better team if they fired head coach Brad Childress. He makes poor game decisions and he doesn't strike me as a coach who has the respect of the team.

Texas Tech was ranked #7 in the BCS entering last night's game vs. Texas. They knocked off the #1 Longhorns last night. I don't see how they are not the #1 team (9-0 record) in college football.
The Cincinnati Bengals are proving this season that the wide receiver position is the least important position on the football field. They have a quality corp of receivers, featuring T. J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson, and Chris Henry (when he's got his head screwed on straight), yet they are 0-8.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

John McCain for President of the United States

As we close in on 2009, we live in a very busy world. We have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which we are combating terrorism, the global economy is very shaky, North Korea, Russia, and China continue to cause diplomatic aggravation, and we face big problems on the domestic front. Domestically, we struggle with the problem of illegal immigration, solvency of the Social Security system with the Baby Boomer generation nearing retirement, and a credit crisis that is taking a toll on the U.S. economy and stock market.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has inspired millions of people to donate money, and enthusiastically support his candidacy through volunteer efforts. Senator Obama is well spoken and is a fresh face to the scene. For those tired of President George W. Bush, Obama is seen as the answer to their prayers.

However, now is not a time for a well spoken candidate with very little record of accomplishment. This is a nice way of saying Senator Barack Obama is an empty suit. The packaging is nice, but what's inside?

This blog wholeheartedly endorses the candidacy of John McCain for President and Sarah Palin for Vice President.

Senator John McCain has spent five decades dedicating himself to the service of our country. He sacrificed years of his life as a POW in Vietnam, when as a Naval fighter pilot, he was shot down. Senator McCain also served in the House of Representatives, before being elected Senator.

Now is a time for an "adult" to be in the White House. Senator McCain is a budget hawk who has a long record of fiscal responsibility. Senator McCain has angered members of his own party with his pork fighting efforts. He also has a firm grasp of foreign affairs and the military. When liberal Democrats such as Congressman Barney Frank are bragging they plan on cutting military spending by 25% if Senator Obama is elected, such wreckless proposals will never be instituted under a McCain Administration.

Under a Democratic Presidency with full Democratic control of the House and Senate, taxes will certainly be raised. Tax hikes are not the prescription to fix our ailing economy. Senator McCain will fight to keep taxes low, while containing wasteful spending.

While there are millions without health insurance, after a $700 billion Wall Street bailout, now is not the time to bust open the federal coffers with a national healthcare system, which Senator Obama will look to implement. The cost of healthcare continues to balloon, but tax credits and tax free savings accounts for healthcare are a better plan at this point in time.

One underrated avenue that hasn't been explored much this election season is the impact of the candidates on the judicial system. This blog has grave concerns that if elected, Senator Obama will pack the courts with extreme left judges, who will look to make law from the bench as opposed to only interpreting the Constitution. Senator McCain will propose judges who will be tough on crime, uphold the constitutionality of capital punishment, and keep marriage sacred between a man and a woman.

A lot has been made about Governor Sarah Palin's supposed lack of experience this election. This charge is unfair, because Governor Palin actually has more executive experience than Senator Obama; yet Governor Palin will only be Vice President. This blog is not concerned about Governor Palin. While she is a fresh face on the scene, Governor Palin is obviously very smart and already has successfully implemented positive change in Alaska by taking on entrenched political machines and defeating them.

This blog hopes that on Tuesday, the voters of the greatest country in the world will take a look at the full picture, as opposed to getting caught up in nice rhetoric and empty promises. Senator John McCain is the man to lead our country through these volatile times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Patriots vs. Colts

This Sunday's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts marks the New England Patriots' biggest challenge this season. The seemingly annual Colts game is always a yardstick by which to measure each season's Patriots team.

The Colts are coming off a road loss to AFC South division rival, the Tennessee Titans, in which they played terribly in the second half. The Patriots beat an improving Rams team at home that gave them everything they could handle. Despite playing two very bad games vs. Miami and San Diego, the Patriots are tied for first place with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East with a record of 5-2.

Even though this is the halfway point of the season, it is not too early to call this game a "must win" game for the 3-4 Colts. Already, they are four games behind the Titans and cannot afford to fall further back in the playoff picture.

Key Matchups:

The Patriots Defense vs. Peyton Manning - it is imperative that the Patriots front seven shuts down a weak Colts running game. Granted Pro Bowl RB Joseph Addai is returning from injury, but even before getting hurt, the Colts had difficulty running the ball. By shutting down the run, the Patriots defense takes away Peyton Manning's ability to run the play action pass plays that have been so effective for him throughout his career. The Patriots secondary is weak and if Manning is able to run play action effectively, the Patriots defense will get torched.

Matt Light vs. Dwight Freeney and Mark LeVoir vs. Robert Mathis - the Colts like to get after the quarterback, particularly on their home artificial turf where they have an extra burst of speed, plus the backing of the crowd. Patriots QB Matt Cassel has shown improvement the last two weeks in his ability to move around in the pocket. Cassel needs to continue his progress and get rid of the ball quickly.

Patriots RB's vs. Bob Sanders - when healthy, Bob Sanders is THE biggest difference maker on defense in the NFL. He's a terrific player with no regard for his body. Because of his take no prisoners style, Sanders is hurt every year. While this is his first week back from a high ankle sprain, I still expect to see him on the field for most of the game. Sanders is the best run defender in the NFL, capable of shutting down a running game almost by himself. The Patriots will likely be getting Lamont Jordan back, and that is good news for them. Kevin Faulk did an admirable job last week, but he's not a RB who can carry the load for the long haul.


I like the improvement of Cassel the last few games. The Patriots are allowing him to make more plays, as opposed to having him just manage the game. However, this game will present an immense challenge for him to make fast reads and get rid of the ball.

Sunday night's matchup means more to the Colts than the Patriots. I expect the Colts to play with a sense of urgency and considering the Colts will be playing at home, Colts President Bill Polian will have the audio system pumping in phony crowd noise to make things difficult for the Patriots on offense.

I also have serious concern about the Patriots secondary. They allowed several big plays last week to the St. Louis Rams. Their play last week won't cut it vs. the likes of Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison, and Anthony Gonzalez.

Colts over the Patriots - 38-13

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The end of the 2008 baseball season

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies for winning their first World Series since 1980. When you consider they have the Village Idiot Jimy Williams on their coaching staff, it is an amazing accomplishment.

I caught some of Peter Gammons interviewing Shane Victorino after the game. I know Gammo fancies himself as a rocker, but he needs to ace the sunglasses at night. The only ones who can wear sunglasses at night are Corey Hart and Ringo Starr.

This World Series left me with the feeling that the Red Sox left this one on the table. If the Red Sox were healthy and had only handled TB, they would've blown away the Phillies. The Rays acted like they were just happy to be in the World Series.

Hot Stove Musings:

Manny would be wise to stay in LA with the Dodgers. That is a perfect fit for him. Joe Torre is the perfect manager for him.

CC Sabathia is a regular season horse, but buyer beware - he has a terrible postseason record. Whoever signs him will need to limit his innings more in the regular season, so he is fresh for the postseason.

Matt Holliday is a very good player, but considering the money it will take and his Coors Field and road splits, I don't see him as much of an upgrade over Jason Bay.

If my initials were T.E., I would dangle young Red Sox prospects Michael Bowden and/or Daniel Bard in offseason efforts to get a young catcher.

Recently, the New York Yankees farm system was ranked a shocking 29th overall in MLB. Look for them to attempt to sign every high profile player in the offseason.

When he's on, A.J. Burnett is as nasty as anyone. However, he's always been a guy to me who's an All Star from the neck down. He's not mentally tough.

Francisco Rodriguez is going to the Mets. Take it to the bank.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jeff Beatty for U.S. Senate for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Regarding their U.S. Senate endorsement, I am troubled and disappointed that the Boston Herald endorsed Senator John Kerry for another term. Just because someone has been in office for a long time, doesn’t mean they are the right person for the job.

In terms of today’s economic troubles caused by the credit crisis, Senator Kerry’s hands are dirty. In the list of the top recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Campaign Contributions from 1989-2008, Senator Kerry received the second most contributions - $111,000. In order to be the recipient of such significant contributions, Senator Kerry has been a strong advocate for their initiatives. The initiatives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have caused great harm to the financial state of our economy and cost citizens billions of dollars in investments in their 401Ks and in the financial markets.

Senator Kerry also selfishly devoted 18+ months on a presidential campaign, in which he missed countless Senate votes and for all intents and purposes, left the Commonwealth of Massachusetts short a U.S. Senator. The right thing for Senator Kerry to have done would’ve been to resign his Senate position, which Senator Robert Dole did back in 1996 during his presidential run.

Jeff Beatty is a perfect replacement for John Kerry in the U.S. Senate. In today’s time of war and terrorism, Jeff Beatty’s military and security background is just what we need. Instead of Senator Kerry’s partisan lectures, Jeff Beatty will bring facts and quality analysis to crucial foreign policy issues.

Twenty four years of John Kerry in the U.S. Senate is too much. It is time for a change and Jeff Beatty is the right candidate at the right time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

ALCS Preview

Consider this: 365 days ago, who would've thought the Tampa Bay Rays would be one of the last two teams standing in the ALCS? No one? That's what I thought.

Rays manager Joe Maddon deserves major credit for the job he's done with this young team this season. The Rays are a good team and the Red Sox would be wise to not take them lightly.

The Rays are a resilient team, one that has fought back from adversity all year. They have a nice stable of young starters and Grant Balfour is really getting it done in the bullpen. BJ Upton, Carlos Pena, and Evan Longoria are a threat to go deep every at bat.

The Red Sox have some injuries, but they have the experience, team chemistry, and talent to be champions. They have a lot of depth throughout the roster and players who can play multiple positions. Even though Mike Lowell is injured, Mark Kotsay has stepped right in at 1B and Kevin Youkilis has moved across the diamond to 3B seamlessly. The Sox also have the two best post season pitchers in this series, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, and facing them is a tall task for any team.

Keys to the series:
The Red Sox must pitch Carlos Pena inside and adjust his plate coverage. If they can hold him down, they'll be in great shape to win this series.

The Rays must limit the damage by David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.

The Red Sox need to drive up the pitch count of the young Rays starters and get to their middle relief corp.

The Rays need to run when they can and manufacture runs.

Prediction: Red Sox in 6 games - the Red Sox know how to get it done. Granted, the Rays gave the Red Sox everything they can handle in the regular season, but I believe the Rays are a year away.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Patriots Analysis at the Quarter Season Mark

After four games this season, the New England Patriots are a far different football team than was expected two months ago. Most of this has to do with the injury to the best QB on the planet, Tom Brady. Despite the Brady injury and a stinker of a game vs. the Dolphins, the team has managed to cobble together a 3-1 start. Here are my evaluations of the position groups 1/4 of the way through the season:

QB - Matt Cassel has been adequate. He looked good in NY and in SF, and was awful vs. Miami. About what you'd expect from a backup QB. Two criticisms of him are he holds the ball too long and locks in on receivers. He also needs improvement in running the offense in the red zone. However, he's made some good throws and he's met expectations. Going forward, I would like to see improvement in his reads and for the offensive game plan to open up more for him.

RB - As a whole, this group has been steady and unspectacular. Some running backs have performed better than others. Kevin Faulk has had some good moments both in the passing game as well as running the ball. Lamont Jordan runs angry, and Sammy Morris is a solid second back. Laurence Maroney has been dreadful. Maroney continues a pattern from most of last year where he's tentative and dances in the backfield too much. What he needs to do is follow Morris' lead and hit the hole. Sometimes that means there will only be a 2 yd gain as opposed to trying for the home run on every carry. This group has met expectations.

WR - This is a little bit tougher to evaluate due to the expectation level set by last year's aerial circus and with the Brady injury. In the games vs. NY and Miami, Randy Moss wasn't involved much and his enthusiasm on the field seemed to reflect that. Wes Welker is an excellent slot receiver who is outstanding at getting yards after the catch. However, Jabar Gaffney's numbers have fallen this year and Kelley Washington is still a non factor in the passing game. It's obvious that Brady is better at spreading the ball around than Cassel. Because of this, the WR group has underachieved.

TE - When will Benjamin Watson ever reach his all world potential? Watson is hurt every year and some games is invisible. Dave Thomas has been a disappointment, particularly in the passing game where he's been a non factor. Thomas also isn't much of a blocker. This group has underachieved.

OL - This unit lacks a big stud OL who can push the pile and keep speed rushers away in pass protection. As a unit, they work well together. They aren't flashy. Overall, they are solid, but were exposed in last year's Super Bowl against speed and power rushers. Dan Koppen is an underrated center. In 2009, I'd prefer the team move Matt Light to RT and invest a first round pick in an air craft carrier who can move his feet and occupy the LT position for the next decade. This group has met expectations.

DL - The Miami game was a disaster as Warren, Wilfork, and Seymour were pushed around as if they were on roller skates. Other than that game, this group has been excellent. I expect a lot out of this group, probably too much, because there's so much talent there. It's good to see Richard Seymour back to being himself, as opposed to the imposter of the last two seasons. This group has met expectations.

LB - The pick of Jerrod Mayo is already paying dividends. While he may sometimes be out of position and has been a chase down linebacker during some games, his enthusiasm and speed have made a difference next to Tedy Bruschi. He's been an improvement over Junior Seau. Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel have had some good moments. My expectations of Thomas are impossibly high. His two person sack of Brett Favre and Leon Washington is the play of the year. As long as Bruschi isn't in pass protection, he's still adequate. I figured Mayo and Bruschi would struggle, but they've been good. Gary Guyton has filled in and brought some quickness to the group, too. This unit has exceeded expectations.

DB - This group has often times looked to be running around with their hair on fire. What is scary, is they really haven't played a great QB, yet. Rodney Harrison was all over the field vs. KC, but he no longer runs well. Where's Terrence Wheatley? Deltha O'Neal is an up and down player. Brandon Meriwether still struggles, although this year he's caught two INT's. This unit has underachieved. Look out when they play Pittsburgh, Denver, and Indy.

Special Teams - Stephen Gostkowski has been TERRIFIC this season. He's been the best player on the roster, in terms of job title and function. Chris Hansen has a good leg, but still kicks to many touchbacks. This group has exceeded expectations.

Coaching - Belichick and his coordinators were badly outcoached by rookie Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano and no adjustments were made to the Wildcat offense where Ronnie Brown was taking snaps. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels needs to open up the offense a little for Cassel. I don't understand the fascination with Laurence Maroney right now. Also, why are high draft picks Terrence Wheatley and Shawn Crable not playing? I'm concerned by the lack of progress of young players from the recent drafts; this includes Chad Jackson. I'd like to see better coaching of the younger players. Meriweather still looks lost on occasion on the field. Right now, this group is underachieving.

Overall - It's hard to quibble with a 3-1 record. However, there is lots of room for improvement as the tougher games start coming up. Right now, I don't consider the Patriots an elite team and believe they may not even make the playoffs.

Stock Market Blues

It has been a frustrating month watching the stock market sink due to the massive selloffs of investors spooked by the U.S. banking industry credit situation. I can't even bear to look at my 401K balance right now. At what point will the selling stop? Right now, the Dow Jones in the low 9000 range. What will be even worse is if the market sinks another 500-800 points, because then the corporate layoffs will begin. Once the layoffs begin, the negative economic growth will really kick in.

The stories of a $400,000 party at AIG after their bailout and Lehman executives receiving large bonuses while the company was going down the toilet are outrageous. The lack of ethics by executives of both firms is appalling and frankly, puts them in the same category as scorned Enron chief Kenneth Lay.

The $700,000 bailout sure is working great, isn't it? NOT! The market has tanked since last Friday when an agreement was announced. The idea of a bailout working was dubious at best, and so far, has not done anything to stabilize the free falling markets.

We are in tough times right now and they could get worse.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Bill Fails

Today, the House Republicans torpedoed a financial sector bailout that would've cost the American people $700 billion. I have mixed feelings on this. While I detest seeing the value of my 401K and other investments hurtling down in value, I don't like the idea of a government bailout bill of this magnitude.

Considering the cost of the War on Terrorism and if Barack Obama becomes President, the potential cost of a universal healthcare bill, a $700 billion bailout seems unaffordable, without new revenue streams (i.e. income tax hikes) being proposed by the Democrats. At some point, there needs to be some fiscal responsibility coming from the Legislative and Executive branches of our federal government. It was the House Republicans who fired the first shot across the bow that they would not betray their conservative roots.

While confidence in the markets is shaky at best, a bailout would've meant another step toward socialism. If we are truly a capitalist nation, we need to allow poor performing companies to fail.
Although the Dow Jones, the NASDAQ, and S&P look ugly right now, I believe in the next 6-8 months, these losses will all be regained and beyond. Despite the confidence crisis in the markets, now may be a great time to buy low on stocks and beef up your portfolio with some bargains.

The U.S. market and economy overcame the unprecedented 2001 terrorist attacks that crippled our nation with fear for six months. We can certainly overcome bank failures. The United States of America is a strong, resilient nation and we shall overcome adversity once again.

Red Sox Regular Season Report Card

In a season of ups and downs, the Red Sox managed to secure an easy Wild Card playoff spot, besting the competition by 6 games in the standings. That being said, I found this regular season to be a bit of a disappointment. While the numbers look successful, they never went off on one of those long 9 or 10 game winning streaks. They got hot for a bit in September, but that was it. In the first half of the season, they were brutal on the road.

Expectations are very high for a team coming back to defend their title. I felt with the level of talent on this team, they underachieved. Some players started to show their age. Others took their game to a whole new level. Considering the seasons Youk and Pedroia had after spending the offseason at that Arizona conditioning camp, John Henry should make it mandatory that every member of the 40 man roster spends their offseason with Youk and Pedroia there.

Here is the end of the regular season report card.

The hitters:
Jason Varitek – F He was ATROCIOUS with the bat this season. Other than batting .264 in August, here are his batting averages from June onward: June - .122, July - .197, Sept. - .186. He also only threw out 23% of the runners attempting to steal. The Sox thrive on their Belichickian coldness when it comes to letting established players go to free agency. I hope the team makes the right decision here and moves on.

Kevin Cash – C The good news – Kevin Cash hit for his career high, .225. The bad news – Kevin Cash’s career high BA is .225. He did manage to throw out 31% of the runners attempting to steal, which considering he mostly catches knuckeballer Tim Wakefield, is pretty damn good.

Kevin Youkilis – A+ He’s a Gold Glove caliber defender at two positions, and he established career highs in HRs, RBI, and BA. He’s one of the two MVP candidates on the team. He was nothing short of AWESOME this season.

Sean Casey – B- I was thrilled with his acquisition, but I was a little disappointed in him only getting 199 AB’s due to nagging injuries that plagued him all season. I’m curious if his obvious lack of commitment to physical conditioning is the root cause of his injuries. When he does play, he is a hit machine. He could’ve easily had 300 AB’s if he had stayed healthy. When it comes to baserunning, he also may be slower than the Molina brothers.

Dustin Pedroia – A+ It’s a close call, but he should be the AL MVP. Who doesn’t love this guy? He is a true IMPACT player, with his swashbuckling style of leaving it all out on the field every night.

Jed Lowrie – B- He’s cooled off in September, but to be fair he hasn’t ever played a season this long. He’s a steady ballplayer and makes the plays at SS. He will only get better. I’d like to see him gain about 10 lbs. of muscle in the offseason in AZ.

Mike Lowell – C+ Injuries marred his first season with a new contract. Everyone loves the guy and when he’s healthy he’s an excellent player. However both, his BA and RBI total were each 50 points lower than last season.

Alex Cora – C Another season of Alex being Alex. Filling in quietly where needed. Unspectacular, but he never seems to hurt the team. His power is now Remy-esque. How much Winstrol was he taking in 2004, when he hit 10 HR?

Julio Lugo – F He’s this year’s winner of the Matt Clement Award given to the injured Red Sox player that everyone rooted for to stay injured so we’d never have to see him cross the lines of battle in a Red Sox uniform ever again.

Manny Ramirez – F He quit on the team. Period.

Jason Bay – A- Solid player, came right in and did the job. Wasn’t intimidated by playing in a new league in an environment where the games matter. Over the course of 600 AB’s, his Red Sox numbers project to 30 HR and 100 RBI, which is a standard Jason Bay season.

Jacoby Ellsbury – C+ Plays a great CF, stole 50 bases, but his bat was inconsistent and his .336 OBP was a disappointment. He was so cold at one point, he got moved out of the leadoff position to bat ninth. He had a strong September, so hopefully this will carry into the playoffs like last year.

Coco Crisp – B This space has been very critical of Coco during his tenure with the Red Sox, but you know what? Coco Crisp had a good season and is a perfect 4th OF. He made the best catch of the of the MLB season in Anaheim back in July. And despite the Coco vs. Jacoby battle to be the everyday CF, Coco lost the battle, but still wound up with 363 AB’s.

J.D. Drew – B He was the AL player of the month in June, and he seemed well on his way to a 30 HR 100 RBI season, until his back started flaring up. I think this town is too hard on him. It is frustrating that he gets hurt, but he does play hard, keeps his mouth shut, puts up the numbers when healthy, and is an excellent defensive RF. He is quite similar to Jason Bay.

Mark Kotsay – C- Versatile backup OF and 1B, who went into a slump the last 3 weeks of the season.

Jeff Bailey – B- His numbers look ok, he works pitchers well, but he has a huge hole in his swing when it comes to breaking pitches in the dirt. He’s a big guy with a slow bat, who can hit mistakes. Not much defensively, he’s a homeless man’s Kevin Millar, except no one can throw a fastball by Millar.

Brandon Moss – B He didn’t do much in extended playing time in Pittsburgh, but I liked what I saw of this kid in a Boston uniform and was disappointed that he wound up being part of the Manny trade.

David Ortiz – C Despite the clicking wrist, the clock is ticking on Big Papi. He wasn’t having a great season even before the wrist injury. I think he’s lost it a little. Time for him to start sipping on more of those Dominican protein shakes. (When asked about whether he used PEDs, Papi didn’t acknowledge use, but said who knows what was in those Dominican protein shakes trainers were giving him).

The pitchers:
Josh Beckett – C He was mediocre and inconsistent. He also just strained an oblique muscle and considering this picture from spring training, I didn’t realize he had any oblique muscles. He looks like he spent last offseason on the Sean Casey Diet.

Jon Lester – A Terrific year. He’s been their best pitcher this season. A lefty who touches 96 on the radar gun. He may be even better than those Andy Pettitte projections.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – B+ He’s pretty much unhittable, but still falls into the habit of nibbling and can be painful to watch pitch. His stuff is tremendous and sometimes moves too much. He is the key to the Sox playoff hopes. If he resorts to the 5 inning, 100 pitch hurler we’ve seen a lot of this year, the Sox are in trouble.

Tim Wakefield – C+ The usual Wakefield season. He still has value, ate up 181 innings. He’s a .500 pitcher with a 4.xx ERA.

Paul Byrd – C Good 5th starter. Generally gives 6 innings and allows 4 runs, all the while you sit there watching him and asking yourself, how the hell does he get anyone out with that junk he’s throwing? Ever see the movie Major League? He’s Harris from Major League.

Bartolo Colon – C + The Sox got 6 outings out of him, before he injured an oblique, took forever to come back from it, pitched one more game, then decided to go to the D.R. and not come back. The Sox could really use him right now.

Clay Buchholz- F Seems like he’s got some growing up to do. He had NO confidence by the end of his tenure with the big league club. A lost season.

Hideki Okajima – B- His numbers all look good, except his Rudy Seanez-esque season of allowing seemingly every inherited baserunner to score.

Javier Lopez – A- He had a very good season. Just don’t ask too much out of him. Lefty specialist who held left handed batters to a .187 BA.

Jon Papelbon – A- Seems the league, particularly the AL East, has caught up to him a little. Major league hitters can catch up to 97 mph fastballs if they know It’s coming. He needs to mix speeds more and work that splitter and slider in to keep hitters off balance.

Justin Masterson – A His late season transition to a relief role was the major factor in stabilizing the bullpen.

Manny Delcarmen – B- Terrible first half, very good second half. Needs to trust his stuff and pitch with more confidence.

David Arardsma – C- He’s just another guy, who throw a hard, but straight fastball and is an 11th guy on your pitching staff.

Mike Timlin – D I think this October is likely the last round up for Timmy.

Craig Hansen – F When a team is giving up a guy with stuff like his, he’s obviously a hopeless cause.

The Braintrust:
Terry Francona – A- Yeah, he is stubborn in his refusal to pinch hit for Varitek and for letting starters go too long and allowing games get out of hand (i.e. Wakefield in Texas), but he masterfully handled the Ellsbury/Crisp CF situation and somehow managed to put up with Manny for 4.5 years without being arrested for attempted murder. He’s outstanding when it comes to dealing with the media. Good media relations are now part of a baseball manager’s job and Tito handles it well and never sells his players out. Conversely, Joe Girardi is getting killed in NY by the media because of his Nomar Garciaparra hostage video style of media relations. Tito also seemingly has interminable patience when it comes to Heidi Watney’s insipid interview questions.

Theo Epstein - A+ Need a 5th starter? He bought Byrd from the Indians. Need some OF depth? He acquired Kotsay from Atlanta. Both deals were done after the trading deadline. He got rid of Manny, and while he was held over a barrel and had to give up Moss and Hansen, too, he got Jason Bay, who’s been everything the Sox needed. What more can Theo Epstein do? Despite being a liberal/Socialist/John Kerry supporting puke, he’s the best GM in baseball.