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.