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!