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Soccer vs. Rugby

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In the mid-1800s, there were two forms of popular football in England: association football and rugby football. Rugby football was often called "rugby," and association football was sometimes shortened to "soccer."

American football draws its roots from both, but primarily from rugby. So that we continue the tradition of differentiating "rugby" from "association" football sports with the name "soccer" makes perfect sense, and if you have a problem with it, blame the 19th-century Brits, and stop blaming us Americans who merely kept their confusing tradition alive (while improving on rugby football significantly, by the way, and you're welcome).

Ron Artest Didn't Mean It

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I think Ron Artest (I won't use his stupid-on-many-levels new name) didn't mean to cause harm to James Harden.

I think he was celebrating, he saw Harden out of the corner of his eye, and he just reacted by swinging his elbow. Now, for most people, this would be sufficient to establish intent: a normal person would see something out of the corner of their eye on the basketball court after a scoring play, know it's a fellow player, and avoid serious contact.

But Artest is not a normal person. He has very low intelligence, being unable to quickly process and understand events around him, and he has extremely poor impulse control (demonstrated dozens of times over the years). In his mind, he was just celebrating, and this dude was there, so he just swung to keep up his celebrating and momentum ... maybe swinging harder because, well, someone's in his way, right?

Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me, either. But I think it makes sense to Artest. That there might be significant consequences to his actions -- serious injury to Harden, long suspension for himself -- doesn't even register in his low-functioning brain. There's just the moment, and his desire to celebrate, and nothing else matters.

It's not even that he doesn't care about Harden in that moment: it's that Harden is nothing, a nonperson, an entity with no meaning. Anything outside of Artest and what he cares about in a given moment simply doesn't exist to him.

Artest is accused of being malicious in this event, but malice requires more than I think Artest, in that moment, was even capable of. Artest should not be kicked out of the league because he is a goon or a jerk or evil or malicious, but because he has serious mental deficiencies that -- combined with his size and strength -- make him a serious danger to everyone around him.

The NBA should have kicked him out of the league permanently after he started a brawl in Detroit (not that this is hard to do) seven seasons ago. Fights, pulling down the pants of opponents, drinking alcohol during halftime, asking for time off from the season to work on an R&B album ... the list goes on. He is an uncontrolled moron, he's terrible for the league, and he's a threat to other players, whether he intends it or not.

It's been well-observed by now that the New England Patriots under coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are the most successful duo in NFL history, in terms of regular season and playoff wins. In two weeks they hope to also become tied for the most successful duo in Super Bowl wins, with the largest spread in years between wins.

They won their first nine playoff games together, and six more since. But they also lost five playoff games, to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, and New York Jets. These five teams are the reason why the Patriots have not yet seen their fourth title, and that debt must be paid.

Michael Corelone had the five families. The Patriots have the five ... um, winners. The story of this Super Bowl is not just about revenge against the Giants any more than the end of The Godfather was about Al Neri killing Don Barzini. Four of the five "winners" had a chance to go all the way this year, and should the Patriots win the Super Bowl, they will have directly ended the seasons of all four of them.

The fifth -- the Colts -- obviously had no chance to go to the playoffs this season, winning only two games. It's a far cry from the 2006 season, when Payton Manning and the Colts won a Super Bowl after handing the Pats' their worst playoff loss ever: the Colts down 21-6 at halftime, Manning steamrolled the Pats' D in the second half for a 38-34 victory.

So not only did the Pats beat the Colts in 2011 (a feat duplicated by many others), but they have a chance to win the Super Bowl in the Colts' own home stadium, with Brady using Manning's locker more than Manning has this season, capping the Colts' worst season in recent memory.

Then there's the last team to beat the Pats: the Jets, who drubbed the Pats in last year's divisional round. The Jets went 8-8 this season and missed the playoffs, but had the Patriots not beaten them, they would've gone 10-6 and won the Wild Card. But the Pats can only beat three teams in the playoffs this year ... so the Jets had to be knocked out before the playoffs.

Then there's the Broncos. The Pats fell apart in that 2005 divisional round, so it was priceless this season for them to end Tebowmania in December, then again in January.

The Ravens destroyed the Patriots in the 2009 wild card game. It hurt. This year, they had perhaps their last chance for Ed Reed and Ray Lewis to win a Super Bowl. That's gone, and in spectacular fashion: missing a last-second chip shot field goal.

Finally, we have the other New York. After they ruined the Patriots' "19-0" in the 2007 season -- and beat the Patriots again in 2011 -- all that's left now is to "Moe Green" the Giants.

The 2011 season is the time to settle all family business.

Rick Larsen and the Detroit Tigers

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I think Rick Larsen owes the Detroit Tigers an apology. I've seen his staff's offensive tweets next to the Detroit Tigers logo -- which at least one of his staff chose for their Twitter picture -- for a couple of days now. I'm not even a Tigers a fan, but I feel bad for them having to be associated with Rick Larsen's staff.

There have been 60 NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics have won 17, and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers have won 15, which amounts to those teams winning more than half of all NBA Finals. This year, they play each other in the Finals again, making it 33 champions out of 61 being either the Lakers or the Celtics.

Additionally, 39 of the 61 Finals have included either the Lakers or the Celtics. Including this year, the Celtics and Lakers have played each other in the Finals a whopping 12 times (just under one-fifth of all Finals have been these two teams).

The Celtics have made 21 total Finals appearances, so have faced the Lakers more than half of the times they've been in the Finals. The Lakers have made 30 Finals appearances, facing the Celtics in two-fifths of those.

The Celtics won nine of those against the Lakers, which accounts for more than half of all their 17 championships. The Lakers' two victories over the Celtics came after the Celtics won their first eight encounters.

The longest streak without either team in the Finals was eight years from '92-'99. The longest streak with either the Lakers or Celtics in the Finals was 10 years, done twice (from '57-'66, in which the Celtics appears all 10 years, and the Lakers five of those; and '80-'89, in which the Lakers appeared eight times, the Celtics five).

The longest streak for one team appearing in the Finals was, as noted, Boston, in the 10 years from '57-'66. Boston won nine of those 10 years, including eight in a row (the longest winning streak from any one team) from '59-'66, and also won 10 in 12 years, from '57-'69.

The Lakers' longest appearance streak is "only" four, from '82-'85, winning twice; but they have also appeared three times in a row five additional times (including the current three-year streak). In two of those, they won all three years; in one, they lost all three.

The only other team to "threepeat" was the Bulls, winning three years in a row twice in eight years ('91-'98). No other team but the Celtics and Lakers have had four consecutive appearances. The only other team to have three consecutive appearances was the Knicks, losing all three from '51-'53.

The 2010 NBA Finals begin in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Franchise Tag Whiners

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There's a long line of players in the NFL who claim that it is a personal offense when their teams place the franchise tag on them.

These players are big fat babies.

The players agreed to the franchise tag for the owners, as a compromise. The players take advantage of everything available to them under the contract; why shouldn't the owners do the same?

Stop crying. Stop whining. Sure, you don't like it, but so what? Grow up. Those are the rules that you agreed to.

We called up DirecTV to complain about a lack of Versus (which means I don't get all the Bruins games, even though I purchased Center Ice) and they refunded $50 to my account, and gave me the sports pack (including NESN) for six months for free.

I still want Versus though.

Go Bruins!

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DirecTV and Comcast and the NHL colluded to prevent me from seeing the Boston Bruins opener on Thursday. I will see tonight's game, though. Go Bruins!

The Fool and His Money

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It's been five and a half years since I preordered The Fool and His Money, the sequel to The Fool's Errand, a now-22-year-old puzzle game for the Mac.

I've dared to believe it would be released before, and it never was. However, this time there's an actual teaser available.

It's much like the original, but updated with new puzzles and graphics. I have to say it's probably not worth six years of development time, but it is pretty cool. It includes a card game like in the original, but with new rules. Figuring out the rules is the puzzle, so I won't tell you them, even though I mapped them all out and their scores (or most of them ... I have been unable to identify any Rhadamanthine cards but the one, and two cards appear to do absolutely nothing). (There's also other versions of the puzzle in the game, apparently.)

Here's hoping the game is actually released this year!

Note to NHL on Versus

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Giving a trivia question in the first period and saying you won't answer it until the postgame show, does not make me want to watch the postgame show. It makes me hate you.

On a somewhat related note, I would love to see Milan Lucic throw Claude Lemieux to the ice like Pedro on Zimmer. But Lemieux is probably smarter than Zimmer was on that fateful evening. Maybe Cam Neely could come down from the team's box and do the pummeling himself.

Brett Favre and Chad Pennington Suck

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Twice since the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, they have missed the playoffs.

Both times, it's because the Patriots were in a tie for the best record in the AFC East, but lost the tiebreaker when Brett Favre lost to Chad Pennington on the final day of the season, giving Pennington's team the division title instead.

On December 29, 2002, Favre's Packers made too many mistakes and wound up losing to Pennington's Jets. The Pats and Dolphins and Jets tied for first, but Pennington and the Jets won the tiebreakers, and won the AFC East title. The Patriots and Dolphins stayed home.

On December 28, 2008, Favre's Jets made too many mistakes and wound up losing to Pennington's Dolphins. The Pats and Dolphins tied for first, but Pennington and the Dolphins won the tiebreakers, and won the AFC East title. The Patriots stayed home.

So Patriots fans forever will hate Brett Favre. And it's not because he beat the Pats in Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. No, he won that one straight up, with a little help from Desmond Howard. It's because he let Chadley Pennington win twice, and in doing so kept us out of the playoffs twice.

In 2002, the 12-3 Packers had no business losing to the 8-7 Jets, but on the other hand, the 9-7 Patriots, with a battered defense that couldn't stop the run, didn't have much to complain about in not going to the playoffs.

In 2008, the Jets were rolling, but they just ... stopped. They couldn't even beat the Niners or Seahawks. But playing for a potential playoff spot, I figured they would finally pull it together and win the last game. They didn't. And the Patriots became only the second 11-5 team in history to not make the playoffs.

I don't know what can, or should, be done about it. It's terrible to have an 11-5 team sit home for the playoffs. It's not good for the league. But I can think of no solution to the problem.

So I'll just hate Pennington and Favre instead.

Boston on a Roll

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The currently playing three pro Boston teams (Celtics, Bruins, Patriots) are a combined 21-1 in December. Going back to November, 47-7 (each team with two losses in the month, counting an NHL "overtime loss" as a loss for purposes here).

The last three losses are the Bruins at Washington on December 10, Patriots vs. Pittsburgh on November 30, and Bruins at Buffalo on November 26.

The three losses before that happened to all three teams in three consecutive days: the Patriots lost to the Jets on a Thursday night at home on November 13; the next night the Celtics fell at home to Denver; and the next day the Bruins lost in overtime to the Rangers.

Since that horrible weekend, the Bruins have been 14-2, the Patriots 4-1, and the Celtics 18-0, for a combined 36-3.

It's a good time to be a Boston fan. Merry Christmas!

Bonus trivia: if the Patriots and Dolphins win next week, the Patriots will become only the second 11-5 team in NFL history to not make the playoffs.

Also, as good as 11-5 is, after a 16-0 season in 2007, who woulda guessed that the Red Sox (second best team in the AL), Celtics (best team in the NBA), and Bruins (second best team in the NHL) would all be better than the Patriots?

Burnout Paradise

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I've been playing a lot of Burnout Paradise lately, for PlayStation 3. What a great game. You drive cars and motorcycles around the fictional city of Paradise, and the goals are to get fastest times on roads, compete in races and other events against the computer, get a lot of cars by winning races/stunts and so on, and go online and compete against, or with, other cars.

I've completed everything in the offline mode of the game, including winning all the events and awards.

There's four types of event: Race (get from point A to point B fastest), Stunt Run (rack up points by performing tricks), Road Rage ("take out" other cars before time runs out, or your car is destroyed), and Marked Man (combination of Race and Road Rage: get from point A to point B before other cars destroy yours).

I have all 76 cars, which range from vans to sedans to hot rods to pure race cars. The one I use the most if the Carson GT Flame -- a very fast and versatile stunt car -- but I also really like the Krieger Paradise City Police Department Special. Not what you want to see in your rear-view mirror.

Playing online is fantastic stuff: you just hit the D-pad to the right a few times and you're online, in the same car and same location on the map as you already were. Now you're just playing with 2 to 7 other people, doing competitive races and events, cooperative challenges, or just trying to take out each other's cars. When you do that you can get a mugshot from your friend, and then post it online so you can mock him later.

The cooperative challenges are the most fun. There's hundreds of different challenges to perform, such as, "every player get 300 yards of jumps" or "every player jump over the other players" or "every player drive backward into oncoming traffic for 3000 yards" or "meet on the roof of the building across from the car park" (which requires jumping from one building to another, over the street). And you can use a microphone to talk to the other players.

It's a $30 download on the PlayStation Network (also available for Xbox 360, and soon for Windows). They've added bikes and other events for free, and are planning other upgrades, at least some of which will be for pay, including a whole new island added on to the city, a bunch of new cars, and a "party" (pass-the-controller) game mode. It's one of the best video game values out there: you can get dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of gameplay out of it.



Olympics Over For Me

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I have to stop watching the Olympics now. I just heard this on the TV: "The games of the twenty-ninth Olympiad on the networks of NBC are brought to you ... by Walt Disney Pictures' new comedy 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua,' in theaters October third."

Having the Olympics under an evil regime like China is one thing, but advertising for the most insidiously evil movie of all-time is going too far.

Steiny the Younger

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I was just thinking about the stupid things Hank Steinbrenner has said recently, and all of a sudden the name "Steiny the Younger" came to me. Pliny the Younger was a Roman author, and a handle I used way back in the day (like, 15-20 years ago).

So therefore he is to me, and evermore shall remain, Steiny the Younger.

More DirecTV Woes, Part II

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Apparently the person who told me that the game would be on channel 770 was wrong. The game started, and no game.

I called back, talked to someone else. He also, like the previous two, told me there was no game today.

Uh, no.

So he then tells me, well, it's not supposed to be on. How does he know? Well, he says, it's not on their schedule (he doesn't see the irony of the fact that he assumed there WAS no game JUST BECAUSE it was not on the schedule, and now he is telling me that there's no reason it should be on the schedule, just because there's a game). Yes, I know it's not on their schedule. It's a mistake. It should be on their schedule. They are supposed to show it. They have the feed; it is part of the NHL's Center Ice package; it's the playoffs; there's no blackout rules; there's no shortage of channels to show it on (as there are no other games on!): they should show it.

He assured me that the fact that it is not on the schedule means that they are not supposed to show it. He can't tell me why it is not on the schedule, and assures me that no one can fix it, because it is not supposed to be fixed: it's not on the schedule, after all.

He kept trying to tell me that they don't HAVE to show every game. I know and don't care. He kept trying to tell me it is not on the schedule. I know and assert that it is should be: this is the problem. He kept trying to tell me it cannot be fixed. I assert that he is incorrect, that it is obviously a mistake, and that someone knows how to fix it, and that it should be fixed.

I basically kept him on the phone for over a half hour. They aren't supposed to hang up on you, but try to get you to hang up first. I wouldn't budge. He finally hung up.

He kept apologizing and telling me the same things over and over, but two facts were ignored: a. this IS a mistake by DirecTV, b. it CAN be fixed by someone at DirecTV.

He got mad at me not just because I was being stubborn, but because I asserted he was wrong (apparently he can tell me I am wrong, but I can't tell him that he is), and because I didn't believe him when he said he was sorry. If he was sorry, I said, he'd find someone who actually knows what is going on (he told me no one he talked to knew WHY it was not on the schedule), and find out whether it was a mistake. He refused to do that, so therefore, no, I don't believe that he was truly sorry.

Right now I am watching it on a crummy 240x180 WMV feed from for $15 (which I will later attempt to recoup from DirecTV). At least Boston is winning 1-0 after one period.

After hockey season, I will (again) consider switching from DirecTV to another service. They keep screwing me every several months. This is the latest in a very long line of screwups.

More DirecTV Woes

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"DirecTV, how may I help you?"

"Hi, the Bruins and Candiens are playing today at 7 p.m. Eastern, and I have the Center Ice package, so I should be able to watch it, but it is not on the schedule. It's on NESN, but nowhere else, and I don't get NESN."

"Let me check that, sir. ... Sir, that game is on Tuesday."

"No, it's not."

"Let me send you to a specialist."


"DirecTV, how may I help you?"

"Hi, the Bruins and Candiens are playing today at 7 p.m. Eastern, and I have the Center Ice package, so I should be able to watch it, but it is not on the schedule. It's on NESN, but nowhere else, and I don't get NESN."

"Let me check that, sir. ... Sir, that game is on Tuesday."

"No, it's not. Really."

"Let me check again, sir. ... That game is on NESN and Center Ice channel 770."

Now, Center Ice channel 770 shows Caps and Flyers. So I am assuming that they didn't even know there was a game today -- deduced from the fact that the two people I talked to told me there was no game today -- and were not planning on making it available until I called.

I hope it's actually shown ... I'll find out in about five hours.

It has been widely reported that several months ago, the New England Patriots were heavily penalized by the NFL for, in violation of NFL rules, videotaping the New York Jets' play calling in the first half of the first game of the season.

The NFL made clear that this action did not affect the outcome of any game this season. The question is, did it affect other games in previous seasons? Or did past similar actions affect games this season?

What has gone less reported is the fact that the New York Jets also previously videotaped the Patriots, and that many other teams have also done such videotaping. And what is clear is that the same information could be acquired without violating league rules, by using binoculars and pad-and-pencil, so the advantage of using videotape is at best marginal anyway.

But this has not prevented people from wondering aloud whether the Patriots "cheated" to beat other teams in past years, including the last two teams the Patriots beat to win their last Super Bowl in early 2005 (both from Pennsylvania): the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship, and the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

But especially the Steelers.

It was a widely practiced activity, and it provided no significant advantage. But, a rule is a rule, and the league wanted to not only enforce the rule, but prevent it from happening again, so they fined the coach half a million dollars, the team a quarter million, and took away the team's first-round draft pick. It's the biggest penalty for a team or coach in league history.

So, most fans recognize the complaining for what it is: sour grapes. Even most Eagles fans and players just shrugged it off and joked about it.

But not the Steelers.

The coach, players, and fans of the Steelers have been very vocal in claiming that the Patriots "must have known" what plays were being called, and strongly implying that the Patriots "cheated," despite no evidence of this existing.

So, they want evidence. But how to get it? Or if you can't get it, at least imply that it might have existed at some point, but there's a coverup, in order to discredit your opponent and try to make yourself feel better about getting beat 41-27 in the title game?

Simple: have your Senator raise the issue in a congressional hearing. And do it two days before the Patriots are set to play in the Super Bowl for the title of Best Team in History, as the only team ever to go 19-0.

So that's what they did. Seantor Arlen Specter (R-Heinz Field) is trying to use whatever means at his disposal to discredit the Patriots' devastating win three years ago over the Steelers and their previously undefeated quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger (hey, I spelled that correctly from memory!).

It's really one of the more descpiable things I've seen in politics. Politics in sports is bad enough (cf. the steroids hearings), but trying to discredit one team in favor of your home team is just incredible. Is it too much to ask of our Senators to act like adults?

I have nightmares of Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) facing off against Senators Specter and Dick Lugar (R-IN) over the credibility of the Patriots' championships. Is this really what our Senate is supposed to be doing?

Granted, I am a lifelong Patriots fan. And it's not like Seahawks fans like the Steelers, either. But most people would recognize this as ridiculous no matter which team was their favorite.

My pick for tomorrow: Patriots over the Giants, 34-17.

My Super Bowl Pick

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When last I made a Super Bowl Pick, I nailed it exactly.

My rationale at the time was basically that every Tom Brady playoff game to that point had been won, and by three points, except games against Indy and Pittsburgh; that the Pats had won every NFL game ever held in February; and that it wouldn't be very high scoring, but each team would get their knocks in.

A lot has changed since then. Brady has still never lost a Super Bowl, but he has since lost both a divisional playoff and conference championship game. They've won games against non-Colts and non-Steelers teams by more than 3 points. And they haven't lost in over a year, while racking up the most points ever scored in a season.

The first two Patriots games this season were won 38-14. Their average points for/against is 37/17 (36/17 including playoffs). While they have not been doing as well lately, having more problems than at the beginning of the season, I think the team is poised to break out the stomping boots. They'll generally control the Giants, who will have a few successful drives, but the day will belong to the Pats, 34-17.

The Best

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Yesterday Brett Favre beat Tom Brady out for Fedex Air Player of the Year, an award voted on by the fans for the best quarterback of the year.

Now, I love Brett Favre. He is perhaps my favorite non-Patriots football player of all time.

So this isn't about him, specifically.

And frankly, I don't even care about these awards, no matter who votes for them. They are meaningless to me, specifically because they obviously don't mean anything.

Because no matter how you slice it, Tom Brady was the best quarterback of the year. And not even just of the year: he arguably had the best season any quarterback has ever had. More wins, more touchdowns, least interceptions versus touchdowns, in history (his TDs-over-INTs is even greater than the total TDs any other QB has ever had in a season, except for Peyton Manning and Dan Marino). Second best passer rating in history. Third most yards in history.

And oh yeah: HE NEVER LOST.

It's a similar situation for the Motorola coach of the year, which the Packers coach won. Again, fan voting. And again, I have nothing against the coach (mostly because I don't even know his name). He did a fine job.

But Bill Belichick had not only the best season this year, but arguably the best ever, for any coach. Again: HE NEVER LOST.

I am a big Pats fan, and have been all my life. But I am no fanboy. Until this season, I thought Brady was a great QB, but not necessarily The Best QB. But this year, without a doubt, he was The Best QB.

I can really see only two rational explanations for the voting.

The first is the obvious: the voters are stupid. We can beat around the bush, but I prefer to call a spade, a spade. Again, it's not personal, but the facts could not be more clear.

The second makes more sense, but is probably less likely: the fans recognized the Patriots were great, loved them for it, and wanted to give them even more motivation for Sunday's game, as if any were needed.

Yeah, it's a stretch, but at least it makes some sense, unlike Favre and Packers Coach beating out Brady and Belichick.

Your Other Right

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Boston vs. New York

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The last time a New York team beat a Boston team was was November 24, 2007, two months ago today. The NY Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 2-1. The Bruins are 6-1 against NY teams this season, including four in a row, and three in the last week.

The last time a NY team beat the Boston Celtics was also November 24, but in 2006. The Knicks won 101-77. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that just over a year later, the Celtics beat the Knicks 104-59. Ouch. The Knicks lost again to the Celtics a few days ago.

In baseball, the Yankees beat the Red Sox in their last meeting of 2007, on September 16th, 4-3. The Yankees even won the season series 8-10. However, the Red Sox won the division and, of course, the World Series, and the last time they faced in the playoffs, the Red Sox won 4-3, in the greatest comeback/choke in American sports history.

The Patriots last lost to a NY team last season, also in November 2006, when the Jets won in Foxboro, 17-14, though the Patriots later that year beat them in the first round of the playoffs, 37-16. It was the first NY win against the Patriots since December 2002. That win put the Jets into the playoffs instead of the Patriots. It was the only time the Patriots didn't go to the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in 2001.

All told, since the last year a NY team won a title (the Yankees in 2000), Boston teams are a combined 113-103-10 against NY teams in the regular season, and are 8-7 against them in playoff games (2-1 in playoff series), with five titles, and they have not lost to any New York team in two months, with a combined 19-11 record over NY teams in the most recent and current seasons.

Now, don't you feel better informed?

Sorry LT

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Today the Patriots try to become the first-ever team to go 16-0 in the regular season, and win 19 straight regular season games.

It's a very big deal. Even if they don't win the Super Bowl, it will be a very big deal.

But the Super Bowl matters a lot more. So while I want this win a lot, I won't breathe a sigh of relief or anything until they get win number 19 on the year, winning the Super Bowl.

No matter what happens, though, I remember after the Pats' second, and then third, Super Bowl win, people talking about whether this Pats team is one of the best ever. There's no more talk about that. The verdict is in. They are. The only question -- one that may never be answered -- is whether they are the best ever. But they've accomplished all these feats and Brady is just now hitting his prime. If the Pats ring off a lot more wins, including some Super Bowls, I think we may just have to call them the best ever (or at least, best since The Merger).

But that's the future. The Now is one game, and one game only. Today's game.

Go Pats.

Patriots on Saturday

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Huge game coming up: the Patriots, the only regular season 15-0 team in NFL history, is going for a perfect record, 16-0. There's other season records on the line too -- most TD passes by a QB, most TD receptions by a receiver, most points scored by a team, biggest cumulative point differential, longest consecutive winning streak, and so on.

This unprecedented game was scheduled to be seen only by about 40 percent of the normal NFL audience, because it is going to be on the NFL Network, which is only available via some satellite and cable providers. But tonight the NFL announced it would be simulcast on NBC and CBS, getting 100 percent nationwide coverage, and marking the first time since Super Bowl I that a game would be shown simultaneously on more than one U.S. network, and the first time ever to be shown on three.

Tom Brady jokingly said he wants the Giants starters to take the game off, since the game is meaningless for the playoffs. But as a longtime Patriots fan, I say no: sports is about rising to a challenge. That's why no one cared about The Dream Team after it won its first Olympics. The tougher the challenge, the greater the glory. There will be 11 other teams in the playoffs, and the Patriots will have played at least five of them (Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Giants; and maybe seven, if the Redskins win, and the Browns win/Titans lose).

Going 16-0 while beating a lot of top teams would be a great accomplishment, but if one of those top teams intentionally didn't play its best game, that would diminish it a bit, for many fans. Granted, it's already slightly diminished in that the combined wins by the rest of the Patriots' division is only 11, four less than the Patriots have won by themselves, and that accounts for six of the Pats' games. So the competitor in me really wants to see the Patriots play all the best teams en route to a perfect season, and, eventually, to another Super Bowl championship.

Bring it on, Coach Tom Coughlin. If the Patriots can't go 16-0 against the best you have to offer, then they don't deserve to get a perfect season.

Patriots vs. Dolphins: In the bag?

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Let's go back to 2004.

The Patriots won 21 games straight, going back to 2003. That streak ended at the hands of the Steelers, and the then-lossless Ben Roethlisberger. The Patriots would not lose another game -- including handing Big Ben his first-ever loss -- until the 2005 season.

Except for one.

December 20, 2004, the Partriots travel to Miami, and Tom Brady gets intercepted four times (for some perspective, he has only five INTs this season so far) and A.J. Feely threw none, and Sammy Morris scored two TDs, and the Dolphins won 29-28.

The Pats ended the year 17-2, and the Dolphins 4-12.

Of course, Feely is now with the Eagles (where he just missed upsetting the Patriots a few weeks ago), and Sammy Morris now plays for the Patriots. But the Dolphins also beat the Pats in 2005 (granted, that year, the Dolphins actually had a winning record) and 2006.

In 2005, the teams were close in the standings, and the Pats had their worst season in years, and lost at home 28-26. In 2006, the Pats had a 12-4 record, the Dolphins were 6-10, and the Pats went on to just miss going to the Super Bowl. And in Week 14, the Dolphins shut the Patriots out in Miami, 21-0.

Twenty-one to nothing. Just a year ago. The only shutout the Patriots have suffered since the 31-0 shutout the Bills handed them in week 1 of 2003 (which the Patriots avenged in week 17, with a 31-0 shutout over the Bills).

Granted, this is an undefeated New England and almost-winless Miami, the by-far-best against the by-far-worst. On the other hand, the 2007 Dolphins want no win more than this one, and have beaten the Patriots in their second meeting of the season three years in a row, including a shutout last year.
In a recent journal entry I noted the Boston sports teams are doing pretty well. Since then, the Celtics have started the season 6-0, and the Patriots have gone to 9-0. And the Bruins have slipped a bit in the standings, having lost some close games.

I paraphrased The Simpsons, saying, "The Patriots are still winning, dominant as ever. The Celtics picked up some major stars, the Red Sox have the best record in the league, and the Bruins ... well, we love the Bruins."

Here's a song by Ryan Parker noting the same basic thing, from a different perspective: Thank Goodness for the Bruins.


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Talk of an "asterisk" because the Patriots "cheated" ignores the undispitable fact that there is no allegation or evidence of any kind that the Patriots broke the rules regarding "spying" that in any way affected any game this season.

Anyone who talks of an "asterisk," should the Patriots go undefeated, just ends up looking like an idiot.

And yes, that includes Marcellus Wiley and Don Shula.

That Is Not An Available Option

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Playing MLB 07 The Show on PS3. Doing a season. Simulating most of the games, playing a few.

On September 22, with a solid lead on the wild card, and having won 10 games in a row, including sweeping the Yankees at home, we lose a simulated to Tampa Bay, with Josh Beckett starting.

The computer tells me upon game completion, "Josh Beckett sustained an injury (shoulder separation) during today's game. It appears he will be out for about 2 to 3 months. What would you like to do?"

The options are Keep Active, 15-day DL, or 60-day DL. None of the options are "kill myself," so I'm stumped!

1986, 2004, ... 2007?

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In 1986, the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl, the Red Sox lost in the World Series, and the Celtics won the World Championship.

In 2004, the Patriots won the Super Bowl and the Red Sox won the World Series.

In 2007, we very well could see the Patriots and Sox pair up again, and there's a decent chance the Celtics will follow up with another World Championship of their own.

So that leaves my beloved Bruins. It reminds me of a quote from the very first Simpsons episode ever:

"The Patriots are still winning, dominant as ever. The Celtics picked up some major stars, the Red Sox won the World Series, and the Bruins ... well, we love the Bruins."

The Bs have a decent team, but it's hard to see how they could seriously challenge for the Cup without some major improvements. I'll keep watching and hoping, though.

Sox Win, As Formula Predicted

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So in 2004 I predicted the Red Sox would win in 2006, using a mathematical formula. I was wrong. So I realized that my formula was off. Because the length of difference between last year won and the pivotal year of beating St. Louis crossed millennia, we had to add an extra year.

use warnings;
use strict;
# script to predict when the next Boston team championship
# will occur after either:
# * winning first championship in team history, against St. Louis
# OR
# * winning first championship since St. Louis existed as a team
my %boston_team = (
    # team        last year won,  year beat St. Louis
    Celtics   => [1957,           1957],
    Bruins      => [1941,           1970],
    Patriots  => [2002,           2002],
    'Red Sox' => [1918,           2004],
for my $team (sort { $boston_team{$a}[1] <=> $boston_team{$b}[1] } keys %boston_team) {
    printf "%s: %d\n", $team,
sub predict_year {
    my($last_won, $beat_stl) = @_;
    my $base_year = $beat_stl + 2;
    $base_year += int($beat_stl/1000) - int($last_won/1000); # adjust for difference
    return $base_year;

This formula correctly "predicts" the next championship of each team:

Celtics: 1959
Bruins: 1972
Patriots: 2004
Red Sox: 2007

I CALLED IT!!!!!</colbert>

Fox Lied, Records Died

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Joe Buck said that tonight's game was the longest ever 9-inning postseason game at 4 hours, 19 minutes.

Well, I happened to remember that Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 2004 ALCS were all about 3/4-hour apart. Game 3 was about 4:15 and was 9 innings, and Game 5 was about 5:00 in extra innings, and Game 6 was about 5:45 in extra innings.

So I looked it up. They were 4:20, 5:02, and 5:49.

So no, in fact, Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS was a longer 9-inning postseason game. Maybe he meant World Series history? Whatever. He's a liar!

Anyway, this should be instructive to the Red Sox, regardless: the last time this happened -- a 4:20-ish 9-inning game on the road for a team to take a 3-0 series lead -- the team down 0-3 eneded up winning the series.

Go Sox!

Arizona D-Backs Fans Suck

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Tonight Justin Upton clearly violated the rules. It was absolutely interference. The rules call for that play to be ruled, effectively, a double play. The umps did the right thing, no question.

And the fans either don't know the rules or don't care: they proceeded to showe the field with debris.

(Not that I can blame the fans: even D-Backs manager Bob Melvin later said the slide was not illegal, because Upton "could get the base." But that's not what the rule says. Most of the commentators are wrong too, they are saying the slide would have been legal if he didn't raise his arm, but that's not true.)

Some may say, hey Pudge, the Red Sox fans did that in the 1999 ALCS. The difference is that the umps had, in that game -- for the second time that series -- called Jose Offerman out after "Knobby" completely missed the tag. And when Nomar was incorrectly called out at first, the fans lost it.

I am not saying the fans were right to throw stuff on the field. They weren't. I am saying they were right that the umps were wrong (and horribly wrong).

And frankly, what the Sox fans did in the 1999 ALCS (against the Yankees) helped improve officiating in baseball. That was one of the events that forced the MLB to adopt various new procedures, especially the "ump huddle."

Incidentally, A-Rod earlier this year, infamously, did almost the exact same slide against Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. He was not called for interference. He should have been. But since A-Rod is crying at home now, it's all good.

Tim McCarver Blues

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Please feel free to enjoy my new song, "Tim McCarver Blues."

See and for more information about the evil that is Tim McCarver, Color Commentator.

LCE021 Tim McCarver Blues

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I really dislike listening to Tim McCarver, and as a Red Sox fan, I am excited about the ALCS, but also dreading it. AND THAT IS NOT HOW IT SHOULD BE. TIM.

For more information, see and

This is the Longest Concert Evar, starring Pudge. Send requests to, or post them here.

Pudge's Picks

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Please, if you wish, go to join Pudge's Picks for 2007, now hosted on

After logging in (create a new login if you don't have one), create an entry.

Then for each entry, click Join a Group. Type in "Pudge's Picks" in the search field, submit the form, then click on Pudge's Picks when it shows up in the list. The password to join is "longhorn."

Invite others, if you wish.
Glen Wesley was traded by the Boston Bruins to the Hartford Whalers in '94. He is still with the same franchise, now the Carolina Hurricanes. He will turn 39 in October, and just signed a one-year contract.

Other active players on the last Hartford team, 10 years ago: Ducks' 2003 Stanley Cup MVP (and 2007 Stanley Cup winner) Jean-Sebastien Giguere (he was 19, and played 8 games); Rangers' Brenadan Shanahan and Marek Malik; Kings' Sean Burke; Lightning's Nolan Pratt; Flyers' Sami Kapanen and Geoff Sanderson; and Leafs' Jeff O'Neill.

Not sure why anyone should care, but I find it marginally interesting.

Wikipedia Age

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So a little more than an hour ago, Coco Crisp, centerfielder for the Red Sox, got a hit against the Mariners in the first inning of today's game, scoring two runs.

A few minutes later, someone through a computer at Clark U in Worcester, MA vandalized Coco's Wikipedia page.

Teh funny.

Seattle Is Stupid

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I don't really mean the title of this entry, but it makes me greatly annoyed that not every Mariners baseball game is televised. That sort of thing almost never happens in Boston, but it happens regularly here in Seattle, when the game is on during "work" hours. It's an 11 a.m. (Pacific time) start, so most people won't be home, so the game isn't on.

I don't think a single Red Sox, Bruins, or Celtics game goes untelevised in the Boston area.

Oh well, I can listen to the game on the radio. And Wednesday's game I'll see in HD on ESPN(2?). Thursday's game should be on the local TV.
Former New England Patriot receiver Darryl Stingley died this week, at 55 years old.

When he played ball for the Patriots, he was critically injured by Oakland Raiders player Jack Tatum. The play was both dirty and illegal, although more generally accepted at the time (Dr. Z has a good summary of the issue). Stingley's neck was broken, and he was paralyzed for life, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. Tatum never attempted to contact Stingley. Ever.

ESPN mentioned Stingley's passing on SportsCenter tonight, and showed his picture. They did not show the actual play that put him in a wheelchair for half his life and eventually resulted in his death, and the only reason I can think to not show the play -- this is SportsCenter after all, they always show the play -- is because they are afraid of bringing up the old debate about whether the play was dirty. Wankers.


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The New England Patriots under Brady/Belichick have won all their playoff victories by three points, in years they went to the AFC Championship Game, except for games against Indy or Pittsburgh. In those four games against those two teams, instead of winning by a FG, they won by a TD, a TD and a FG, two TDs, and two TDs and a FG. Go see.

So Patriots over the Colts, by three TDs. I know that seems like a lot, but what else could it be? I suppose I could be reading the pattern incorrectly. Maybe two FGs? That would fit the drama of the occasion. Could also be one TD and two FGs.

And then, of course, Patriots over the Bears/Saints (probably Bears) by three in the Super Bowl.

NHL All-Star Voting

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No, I have had nothing to do with this.

Backstory: Rory Fitzpatrick is a somewhat sub-par, but not terrible, defenseman who plays for the Vancouver Canucks. For whatever reason, there has been a massive write-in campaign to get him elected to the All-Star game, and he is second in voting for the Western Conference.

I've heard lots of people complain about it, trying to find out what can be done about it. But the answer about what can be done is simple: improve the All-Star voting so it is not stupid.

The reason I screwed around with MLB All-Star voting a bunch of years ago is because the system was so flawed. It lacked integrity. You could submit hundreds of paper ballots, but only a couple dozen online? And with no good security measures to prevent it (they've since improved)? It was lame, so I showed it to be lame.

NHL voting is far worse. First, they have some of the same problems, but to compound the problem, only a handful of players are even on the ballot in the first place. The Boston Bruins have only two players on the entire ballot, and one of them is not even Glen Murray, one of the top goal-scorers in the league over the past several years.

The problem is respect. No one respects the NHL All-Star voting process. It's stupid, and no one cares, so they screw with it. That is a fixable problem, of course, but it is not about changing the process to try to prevent this, or trying to market the thing to change attitudes, it's about making it so the All-Star voting is actually a good process that gets a result people can respect.

Celtics Cheerleaders

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The Boston Celtics became the last NBA team to add cheerleaders. The debuted tonight. The Celtics did it days after Red Auerbach, who didn't like the idea, died. I don't know what that means, but it must mean something.

Red Auerbach (1917-2006) was the most successful coach in American pro sports history. He retired in 1966, having won the last eight straight league championships, and nine of the last ten (including all ten conference titles). They lost the next year, but won the two after that, bringing the total to 11 out of 13.

Red died soon after the last Red Sox World Series championship in 2004, and was born shortly before the previous one in 1918.


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This is the (basically) the starting lineup for the Red Sox (what it should be, that is, with notes of why it isn't, excluding our middle relief pitching, which is basically fine):

C Jason Varitek (injured)
1B Kevin Youkilis (playing [poorly] in left field)
2B Mark Loretta (batting DH)
SS Alex Gonzalez (injured)
3B Mike Lowell
LF Manny Ramirez (injured)
CF Coco Crisp (injured)
RF Trot Nixon (injured)
DH David Ortiz (injured)

SP Curt Schilling (injured)
SP Josh Beckett
SP Jon Lester (cancer)
SP Matt Clement (injured)
SP Tim Wakefield (injured)

RP Jonathan Papelbon (injured)

Also, our two best backup outfielders, Adam Stern and Wily Mo Pena, are injured.

I've never seen anything like this. And most of the injuries have happened just in August. It's incredible. It's bizarre. The Sox basically just have Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett, some half-decent middle relief, Kyle Snyder starting pretty well, and ... well, and nothing.

And for some reason I've still not lost hope. There's a decent chance Varitek, Gonzalez, Nixon, Ortiz, Schilling, Manny, Pena, and Papelbon injuries might be over soon. But maybe not. And apparently Loretta is not playing second just to give a rookie (Dustin Pedroia) a chance to show what he can do, and David Wells (our best pitcher the last few weeks) was traded, so management has apparently a lot less hope than I do.

Red Sox Done? Not Quite.

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Two words: 2004 ALCS.

Which situation is more dire? Being down 5.5 games with 40 games to play, or being down three games in a seven-game series?

And recall, pitching was our problem in the 2004 ALCS, too. Schilling was DOA, Arroyo was terrible, and Lowe had been so bad he'd been bumped from the rotation. Pedro was the only one who pitched well (as Schilling's been the only one pitching well now).

The Sox pitching has sucked. And when it hasn't, other problems have arisen (passed ball by Mirabelli, followed by bloop RBI single by Jeter).

If the pitching can turn around, the Sox can make the playoffs. If it doesn't, they can't. I wouldn't place a bet either way.

Red Sox

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The Red Sox (which, as you know, will win the World Series this year) are on national TV for five of six straight games. Last night they were on ESPN in the finale with the Tigers, and ESPN will have games on the mornings (Pacific time, anyway) of Friday and Monday, as well as Sunday night. Fox has Saturday's matchup. The only game not on TV is Friday night.

All of these games are against the Yankees, in Boston. The Yankees lead the division by 1.5 games (assuming they can't come back from a 12-2 deficit here in the bottom of the 7th).

Go Sox!

Baseball This Weekend

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Red Sox rookie lefthander Jon Lester, is 22 years old. He has five wins and no losses in eight starts, with a 2.38 ERA. In only his third career start last month he got 10 strikeouts on three hits and one run in six innings.

But tonight, he had his best start so far, giving up only one hit in eight innings (fellow rookie phenom Jon, this one Papelbon, got his 28th save of the year by setting down the side in order in the ninth, combining for the one-hitter).

Lester is also a native of Tacoma, WA, and is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon in Seattle. I hope they give him a nice homecoming; it should be a great game. I'm going to be there with fellow Perl Mongers brian d foy, jmcadams, and cxreg. I'll be at Saturday's game, too.

Red Sox Reminder

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Rememeber, I predicted the day the Sox won the World Series in 2004 that the Red Sox would win in 2006, if they won in 2004.

The formula is there. It is undeniable. A Boston team beats St. Louis to break a very long championship drought, then does not win the championship the following year, and then wins again in the year after that. Celtics in 57/59 (St. Louis Hawks), Bruins in 70/72 (St. Louis Blues), Patriots in 02/04 (St. Louis Rams), Red Sox in 04/06 (St. Louis Cardinals).
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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