Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Favorites

Another year has blown by. The days and weeks pile up and next thing you know four months go by, then all of a sudden, it’s the end of the year. So since the New Year is only one short day away, it is time to compile my favorite things from what I’ve seen, read, and done in 2009.

Best Movie – The Wrestler – this movie featuring Mickey Rourke’s performance as a washed up professional wrestler trying to hold on, blew me away. What a comeback for Rourke, who had toiled in relative obscurity for fifteen years. He gives an absolutely riveting performance. Marisa Tomei as an aging stripper is excellent as well. Honorable mention: Gran Torino

Best TV Show – The Wire - This groundbreaking HBO show lasted for five seasons, each season consistently outstanding. The series started in 2002 and ended in 2008. We rented the DVD’s from Netflix. I will go so far to say as The Wire is the best television show of all time. There isn’t a single episode that doesn’t evoke quality, whether it is the writing, acting, or direction. The Wire is gritty and is said to be a very realistic depiction of inner city life and the struggles of city police departments. Honorable mention: The League

Best Reality Show – Rock of Love Tour Bus – Rock of Love is a skanky version of The Bachelor and stars the charismatic Poison front man Bret Michaels. This was the third and supposedly final installment of the Rock of Love series. There’s never a dull moment on this show with its collection of strippers, adult film stars, and generally trashy women. Honorable mention: Jersey Shore

Best Book – Boys Will Be Boys (The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty) by Jeff Pearlman – This book is about the 1990’s Dallas Cowboys, who played hard and partied harder. A fascinating account of what made guys like Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Deion Sanders tick. I blew through this book in three days. Honorable mention: Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn

Best Newspaper – The Boston Herald – The Herald is a classic example of what companies mean when they say they want to do more with less. Despite a staff that has been decimated by layoffs and defections over the last few years, almost every week the Herald exposed some new controversy with Governor Deval Patrick and the Democratic lawmakers that dominate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Only in the Herald did you read that Governor Patrick hired 1300 state workers in 2009. The Herald’s writers work hard and regularly expose fraud and corruption; something the so called “paper of record” the Boston Globe fails to do. Honorable mention: NY Post

Best Radio Show – Felger and Massarotti on 98.5 The Sports Hub – FM sports station 98.5 went live in August and quickly provided a legitimate alternative to long time Boston sports radio king WEEI. I always enjoy Michael Felger, because he’s not afraid to take a stand and speak out about issues. Sometimes Tony Massarotti drives me crazy with his defense and loyalty of certain Red Sox players (Jason Varitek), but he generally provides thought provoking commentary. This show really works for me. Honorable mention: Dennis and Callahan on WEEI

Best Concert - Aerosmith – Not only was it a blast because I took my son to see his first show and it was of his favorite band, but the concert exceeded my expectations. Joe Perry’s guitar work was mesmerizing and the band was in great form that night. It also didn’t hurt when my son told me after the show it was the best day of his life. Honorable mention: Paul McCartney at Fenway Park.

Best Sporting Event I Attended – hockey game - UNH vs. Boston University @ Agganis Arena – I could not believe that BU sold out the Agganis Arena for a college hockey game. The atmosphere at the game was electric, with a large cheering section behind one of the goals. It also didn’t hurt that BU beat UNH 5-0.

Best Vacation Spot – Cape Cod - We rented a house in Eastham the week of August 15th, and somehow we managed to get the best weather of the entire summer. The weather during the summer of 2009, was dreadful, but during the week we were in Eastham, every day was sunny and in the 80’s. We also visited some of the most beautiful beaches New England has to offer – Head of the Meadow in Truro, Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, Nauset Beach in Orleans, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, and Hardings Beach in Chatham. The further up the Cape you are, the more beautiful it is. Honorable mention: Naples, FL in April.

Best Workout – P90X – When most people workout, they get set in a routine and stick with it. The routine is comfortable, and after a while you don’t get anywhere with it. P90X gave me the boot in the rear end I desperately needed. I thought I knew it all about nutrition and working out, but found I was wrong. P90X is not easy. The diet can be challenging, particularly if you don’t like vegetables. However, it REALLY WORKS! I dropped 12 lbs., dropped 2 inches in my waist, and had to go buy all new pants.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pre Christmas patter

Good to see the Patriots this past Sunday making more of an effort to run the football. Their offense needs balance, and effectively running the ball sets up the play action pass. The Patriots offense had become too predictable.

The Celtics are currently on cruise control, eleven wins in a row, and a 20-4 record. One of the big surprises is Kendrick Perkins' improved offensive game. Perkins is averaging a career high 12 PPG and is shooting 65% from the field.

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman has made a career out of grandstanding and posturing; being "the conscience of the Senate". Senator Lieberman is always the one who is initially out of step with his liberal colleagues, critical of Democratic Party sponsored bills and policy initiatives. However, at the end of the day, Lieberman always votes with the Democrats. I pay no attention to him, because he's the boy that cried wolf.

After reading the story in yesterday's Herald about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick hiring 1300 state workers this year after getting a sales tax hike rammed through into law, I was infuriated. In a state where voters paid attention and had common sense, Patrick would never see elected office again. However, in Massachusetts, he's probably going to get re-elected in 2010, because Independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill and Republican candidate Charlie Baker will likely cancel each other out. Both Cahill and Baker hold mostly mainstream views. Cahill was a conservative Democrat, before leaving the party.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Presents under the Tree

Despite the hysteria of talk radio yelping about Theo Epstein's comments from last week about this being a "bridge year" and the team wanting to remain competitive with an eye towards the future, I had a feeling that he was using a little misdirection. Theo's a smart guy and knows how to work the media. He never says anything that won't ultimately be to his benefit.

That is why I'm not surprised about the agreements to contracts with John Lackey and Mike Cameron. I'm extremely pleased about both signings. Cameron is a great defensive outfielder and has some pop in his bat. Lackey is a solid #2 starter. The Red Sox starting rotation now looks like this: Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Matsuzaka, and Buchholz, with Tim Wakefield still in the picture.

The Cameron signing means that the Red Sox are now probably out of the Jason Bay picture and will mostly go with a platoon of Jeremy Hermida and Cameron in LF. However, considering J.D. Drew's injury history, there will be plenty of AB's for both players.

I still believe the Sox need another bat, and the Lackey signing allows them to consider moving Buchholz. I'd like to see the team keep him, because he showed during the second half of last year that he can be a good big league pitcher. Every year, it looks like the team has enough pitching depth, but guys get hurt or don't pitch to their expectation level, and all of a sudden the rotation looks thin.

If the Red Sox go after a big time bat (Adrian Gonzalez), I'd rather have them trade Casey Kelly. Kelly dominated Single A, but he's years away from Boston, and needs to prove himself at higher levels of the minor league organization. I'd be willing to take that chance for Gonzalez.