Saturday, November 28, 2009



I haven't even begun to collect my thoughts (or emotions) on this, but I can tell you that I'll be out of town for New Year's. I am experiencing the greatest sports moment of my life right now.

GO FROGS!!!!!! And thank you...

The Best Sports Ticket in Boston

Last season, I bought a "Holiday Hat Trick" ticket package for the Bruins--three games, $33 per ticket per game, for a total of $99. It was a good deal, and it was fun for me to get to my first Bruins games since about 2001. I do love that franchise, after all, as much as it has tortured me over the years.

This season, the Bruins ticket office came back to me with a similar offer, three games for a set price (plus a hat and a gift box--it is, after all, the Holiday Hat Trick package). But this season, the price for three games is $129. I'm no math major or anything, but that seems like about a 30 percent increase in price year-over-year. In this economy, and with the team having done almost nothing to better itself after last season's early playoff exit, I'm not inclined to fork over $30 more this season than I did for the same package last year. I'll have to be content watching Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on NESN.

I will, however, be making it to a few hockey games this year. Right now (but only through Nov. 30), Boston College has a hockey-ticket sale going on that's the best sports deal in town. Tickets to a handful of games are on sale for $5 and $10 each at BC's athletics Web site. I just picked up pairs of tickets for five different games--10 tickets total--for $70.

Granted, college hockey isn't the NHL. There isn't a lot of fighting, and the pace of play is obviously slower at the college level than it is at the highest level of hockey in the world. But BC games are a huge amount of fun--they have a great collegiate atmosphere, and they're relatively easy to into and out of. Besides, BC is usually pretty good, and it's likely that if you make a few BC games, you'll be seeing some future NHL players on the ice. Conte Forum is a fine facility as well--very accessible and comfortable.

There is so much hockey in New England that I sometimes wonder how the Bruins--not exactly the most successful team of the last 35 years or so--draw any fans at all. The American Hockey League, the NHL's farm league, has teams in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Manchester (NH), Providence (RI, where the P-Bruins play) and, of course, Portland (Maine, naturally; the Pirates are my personal favorite AHL team). There's also top-level college hockey at BC, BU (the last two national champions, those two), Harvard, Northeastern, Merrimack, UMass-Lowell and even Bentley--not to mention UNH, Maine, Providence and a few other New England programs. Make no mistake--Detroit might have nicked the nickname, but Boston is a hockey town, and New England is a hockey region.

Of course, I still love the Bruins, and I would love to get to a game or two this season. But, for now, I'm happy to get my hockey fix on the cheap at BC. Where else can you go and be entertained for $5 per ticket? Even the $10 games cost the same as a movie, and I'll take a live sporting event over a night at the movie theater just about any time.

I've even managed to score tickets to the college version of the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. I can't come close to affording a ticket to the Flyers-Bruins outdoor showdown to be on New Year's Day, but for $25 each, I bought four tickets to the Jan. 8 college event. It'll still be hockey, and it'll still be at Fenway--plus, it'll be BC-BU, which is a bigger rivalry than Flyers-Bruins has ever been.

So, sorry, Bruins, but I'm not down with your price hike this season. I'll be back in Chestnut Hill this winter cheering on the hard-working lads from Boston College and enjoying the best sports value for the money in town. Go Eagles!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Great American Thanksgiving

It doesn't matter why or how, but this year's family Thanksgiving just kind of fell through. So, after taking in the increasingly mediocre Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV--seriously, why does it have to stop every two minutes for some lame song?--my lovely wife and I finally decided to have Thanksgiving dinner at that great American institution, the Old Country Buffet.

That turned out to be a superb decision. For $12 each, we feasted on an unlimited buffet of traditional Thanksgiving fare as well as on a wide range of desserts (and I do mean a wide range--I ate five, and I am now something of a "wide range" myself). There was turkey (of course), along with roast beef, candied yams (more or less sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows, in case some of you aren't familiar with yams), mashed potatoes with gravy, cornbread stuffing (absolutely amazing), soft rolls with real butter, corn, and all sorts of green vegetables--but I don't remember having any of those.

The crowd was interesting, too. First, there was a crowd; the place was packed around 1 pm. Granted, we hated that anybody had to work on Thanksgiving, but the staff was friendly and didn't seem to mind too much being there, for what it's worth. (I suppose nobody really minds having a job right now.) Anyway, the folks populating the OCB represented just about every segment of American society--except, maybe, the super-rich, but who really sees them, anyway?

Everybody else was there--people of all sorts of ethnic backgrounds and origins; folks from a pretty wide spectrum of social classes, from what we could tell (although it is hard to judge such things on appearances); big families going all out and celebrating Thanksgiving dinner; couples like us just out for a massive holiday meal; old folks; kids; people of girth; skinny folks (although the larger folks won the day, it must be said--no surprise at a buffet that doesn't exactly specialize in organic bean sprouts)...pretty much any kind of American I could imagine, save maybe those with names like Gates or Trump. And if Bill and Donald weren't there, they don't know what they were missing.

The rest of the day just kind of floated by. There was a nap, perhaps fairly long--who was keeping track? There were phone chats with parents and friends, although, sadly, there was no face-to-face contact with family due to illness (FYI, we're not the ones who are sick--and we certainly hope everybody gets better soon) and other circumstances. That was a bit of a downer, Thanksgiving being a family holiday and all...but my lovely bride and I made our own memories with our OCB experience, which was a holiday treat in its own way. And then, of course, there was Dallas 24, Oakland 7--a nice, secure Thanksgiving victory for the old hometown 'Boys on the day when I love watching them play most.

Tomorrow, I suppose, the Christmas season begins (although my wife insists that it begins on Dec. 25--something about Advent or what not). With Christmas comes gift stress, incomprehensible traffic jams near my office (and the shopping areas near it) in Framingham, and general holiday fatigue. (Christmas does, though, bring a month of listening to the Kinks' masterpiece, Father Christmas, so that part is good.) Of course, we will celebrate the birth of Christ, which really is the reason Christians bother with Christmas in the first place. It can be hard, of course, to tune out the constant distractions of advertising and gift-buying and focus on God's gift to us. I'll do the best I can to do that this year...although I know that commercial Christmas will find a few ways to annoy me somehow.

For today, though, there is (or was--it's past 10pm now) Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. The most American of holidays, we celebrated it in the most American of ways--by stuffing ourselves at an all-you-can-eat buffet. And it was fantastic. We were patriots today, great American heroes, preservers of the culture and evangelists for our American way of life. I say this without a hint of irony: God bless America, and a happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. It reflects my values perfectly; the whole point of it is to overeat, indulge in a few beverages of intrigue, watch football and nap on the couch. There are no gifts (an absolutely enormous point in Thanksgiving's favor), and there's no hype, no annoying music and no religious connection. (Hey, I appreciate Easter and Christmas, in that order, as a Christian, but I do like being able to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to anybody and everybody.)

Thanksgiving is the great American holiday, the peak of our culture, our greatest achievement in leisure, a field in which our achievements are among the most stunning and numerous in the history of humankind. What makes Thanksgiving the pinnacle of Americana is the fact that we managed to work a four-day weekend into the bowels of November, when the weather is lousy in much of the country...and we also managed to actually have fun with it, cramming it full of two of America's greatest cultural touchstones, overeating and ultra-violent sports.

Oh, sure, there's the presence of family, sometimes a joy and sometimes a burden, but sleep-inducing food and non-stop football from 1pm (on the East Coast, anyway) until fairly late in the evening can plaster over even the biggest cracks in the familial foundation--for a day, anyway. Christmas? It's nice and all, but it's really just an unavoidable marketing onslaught that leaves few traces for most of the significance of the holiday--that significance being the birth of Christ, of course. (And, to be fair, we Christians seem to have co-opted the December celebration of the solstice--although why anybody would want to celebrate the darkest days of the year is beyond me--from some sort of pagans or druids or something.) Besides, Easter is the money holiday for Christians. The whole basis of the faith revolves around the death and resurrection of Christ. But I digress...

I would have some time for arguments that our greatest holiday achievement as Americans is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. It's also the day that kicked off about a half-decade of war (which we totally won, of course)--but whatever. Who remembers the day the Revolution actually ended, anyway? (Sept. 3, 1783--and, yes, I Googled it.) Sept. 3 isn't in the middle of summer, and besides, we have Labor Day in September and Memorial Day in May to frame summer--that seasonal frame being another spectacular American idea. The point here is that it's very worthwhile to celebrate American independence, but we're smart about it. We celebrate the day the Revolution began (more or less) rather than the day it ended, likely because the day our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence just happens to fall right in the middle of the most glorious time of year. Boo-yeah. U-S-A!

But Thanksgiving is still the greatest of all the (mostly) American-created holidays because it's in November. Late May, mid-July, early September--they're all likely to be lovely times of year, day(s) off or not. But November is mostly lousy everywhere in the US except in those places where it's sunny all the time, anyway. And yet we came up with an excuse (Pilgrims, Indians, did that all end, anyway?) to make late November absolutely fantastic. Congratulations on another victory, America. Seriously, Thanksgiving rocks.

Plus, Thanksgiving has led to many of the greatest moments in American TV history, several of which involve the Dallas Cowboys (of course). There was Clint Longley in 1974, Jason Garrett in 1994, 51-7 over Seattle in 1980, Leon Lett in 1993...wait, scratch that last one. But beyond the Cowboys (and, uh, the Lions, I suppose...), there's one Thanksgiving TV moment that stands above all others, one shining beacon of artistic Turkey Day achievement never likely to be surpassed. I'm referring, of course, to (and, yes, the bold is justified here) the Thanksgiving episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Bask in it; breathe it in deeply...let it wash over you. This, like Thanksgiving, is total American genius.

By the way, lest I totally ignore the purpose of the holiday, I'm thankful for any of you who bother to read this blog and actually got to the end of this entry (and I'm also thankful for a lot of other stuff). Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thierry, Diego, Paolo and Handballs

Ireland got jobbed. Let's just say that right up front. Thierry Henry's handball assist to William Gallas for the goal that sent France to South Africa and the World Cup finals was illegitimate and a total travesty. Nobody who knows the first thing about football would dispute that.

FIFA (or UEFA), if it had any sense of fairness, would order a replay of the match at a neutral site (or even in Paris again...) and give both teams a shot at redeeming themselves. Of course, that won't happen. And that's a shame. But the whole episode, while still fairly fresh, has led to some interesting discussions.

Already, the inevitable comparisons to Diego Maradona and his notorious "hand of god" goal against the English in the 1986 World Cup finals are floating around out there. And already, a few backlash pundits are kind of sort of defending Henry, asking what any of us would have done in his place.

Henry did, after all, admit after the match that he handled the ball, adding, somewhat brusquely, that he's "not the referee." Neither, apparently, is the Swedish ref who was in charge of the game--or, at least, the Swede's not much of a ref, nor are the linesmen who should have assisted him with the handball call. This wasn't a subtle case of handling, after all. This was slap-and-tickle, not a caress.

But the Henry-Maradona comparison is interesting. Maradona was quite possibly (and for my money, was--sorry, Pele) the greatest player of all time. He was also massively arrogant and a bit of a scoundrel (allegedly)--he was rumored to have run drugs in Naples during his time with the local club, Napoli, and many observers, insiders, journalists and the like have linked him with a notorious Naples mafia family. So, really, the "hand of god" was par for the course for Diego, not an aberration. Or so it would seem.

Thierry Henry, while brilliant, was likely never the best player in the world at any time and won't go into history as one of the two or three best ever. (Top ten? Maybe...but he's not in the Maradona-Pele class.) He does, however, have a reputation for being a classy player, for lack of a better word, and he certainly doesn't carry the image of a mafia associate or drug dealer. Quite the contrary--from most of what I've read and heard about Henry, he has a good-guy reputation and serves as a pretty legitimate hero to French kids, especially minority kids who often struggle to fit in with French culture.

Great athletes, I really believe, play on instinct. Yes, they make decisions, but they make them quickly--so quickly, in fact, that those decisions are really more instinctual than they are rational. They're the result of years and years of training, repetition and constant improvement. It's highly unlikely that Diego Maradona calculated slamming the ball into the net with his hand just before he did it. In all likelihood, instinct took over, the hand went up and...well, any Englishman knows the rest of the story.

Likewise, despite the blatant nature of his handling violation, I doubt that Henry said to himself, "I'm going to knock this ball down with my hand and then pass it to Gallas" (in French, of course). He just did what his instinct told him to do--and, in this case, his instinctual move was illegal.

Of course, not all athletes' instincts lead them to break rules. The great Paolo Di Canio, a West Ham legend and one of my favorite players of all time (strictly as a player, that is), famously caught a ball in a Premier League game versus Everton after the Everton goalkeeper suffered an injury and ended up in a heap on the pitch.

Di Canio could have scored into an open net, and the goal would have counted--but he didn't. His instinct led him to do the sportsmanlike thing and stop play--not just because a player was injured but because (I like to think) a goal into an empty net in that situation would have reflected poorly on him and on his team no matter how important it might have been. In that moment of snap decision-making, Di Canio got it right, probably without even thinking about what he was doing.

And while I'll freely admit that a random Premier League match carries not even a fraction of the weight of a World Cup game of any kind, instinct is instinct, and great athletes rarely let up or react differently based on the competition they're in. Would Di Canio have caught that ball playing for Italy in the World Cup? Maybe not--but I like to think that he would have, without really even thinking about it.

Nevertheless, it's harsh, perhaps, to call either Henry or Maradona a "cheat," at least based on the two incidents in question. Cheats use more premeditated methods for gaining an unfair advantage--like a pitcher in baseball carrying a piece of sandpaper to the mound and using it to scuff balls and affect the trajectory of his pitches. Henry and Maradona just acted on instinct--poorly, unfortunately. And the referees and linesmen who allowed both goals are frankly the primary culprits in both affairs.

However, that doesn't excuse Henry or Maradona. They're still guilty of breaking the rules--and of not admitting it on the pitch. Either player, realizing what had just happened in his respective situation, could have admitted to unfair play right there during the match. Would their goals have counted? Possibly not--I really don't know, honestly, but my guess is that a referee could have disallowed either one or both of them upon hearing the guilty player's confession.

But both Henry and Maradona let their goals stand--quite proudly in Maradona's case. And therein lies their guilt and their shame. The "hand of god" and the illegal Henry assist will forever stain the legacies of Maradona and Henry (not that Maradona probably cares, but Henry very well might)--just as they'll forever taint Argentina's otherwise brilliant World Cup win and France's qualification for South Africa 2010. And the incidents will linger not so much because of what the players did in the heat of competition but because of what they didn't do--the bravery they didn't show with the world watching--in the immediate aftermath of their handballs.

I'm not sure whether character has ever really mattered in sports. It's entirely possible--probable, I think--that yesterday's athletes cheated more often and more blatantly than do today's. (If only steroids had existed prior to the '70s or so...) And character in sports is a funny thing. Paolo Di Canio, the hero of this story, was a moody player at best and often took games off completely. He was tempestuous and, while sometimes brilliant, could be frustrating to both fans and teammates. Plus, I've read many accounts in which he has called himself a fascist--and, although he insists that he's not a racist, fascism isn't exactly one of history's more admirable political models (to say the very, very least).

So, it's not always accurate to judge an athlete's personal character by his actions on the field of play. But it's fair to criticize athletes who don't own up to doing the wrong thing and don't at least try to put the situation right. And that's the saddest part about the Henry affair (for anybody who's not Irish). Ireland loses, obviously. The officials lose for being incompetent. FIFA and UEFA will likely lose for not encouraging fair play and ordering the match replayed. And even France and Thierry Henry lose--their reputations, their legitimacy and the respect of millions of fans. France wins, but, really, nobody wins. And football definitely loses.

So, after all this moralizing, what would I have done in Thierry Henry's place? To be perfectly honest, I probably would have let the goal stand. The pressure to please an entire nation would have been too great. But I would have felt guilty and remorseful about it for the rest of my life. Would it have been worth it? Thierry Henry might just be about to find out.

Warriors vs. Celtics

All in all, a fine night tonight. My lovely wife found online yesterday a package deal offering a buffet (with open bar...ahem) and Celtics tickets. So, my friend, George, and I began our evening tonight at the Greatest Bar, the name of which carries more than a little hyperbole, although the place wasn't too bad, everything considered.

After a few beers and some meatballs, wings and pasta (fine pregame fare, actually), we strolled across Causeway Street to the...uh, what's it called now? TD Fleet Center? Fleet Banknorth Garden? Shawmut Fleet TD? Anyway, we went to the New Garden (now the TD Garden, I think), the place where the Celtics (and Bruins) play.

The Celts didn't play especially well, but it was a treat for me to see Ray Allen, KG, Paul Pierce (my personal favorite), Rajon Rondo and company play live. I'd never been to a Celtics game in Boston; the last time I saw the Celts play, they were in Reunion Arena circa 1996 and their "best player" was probably Never Nervous Pervis Ellison. The game vs. the Mavericks wasn't exactly riveting.

But tonight's game was entertaining--Boston played sloppily enough to let an undermanned Golden State team hang around in the first half, but the Celtics turned on the afterburners in the third quarter and pulled away with some big threes from Rondo and Eddie House and a few nice plays from Allen and a somewhat hobbling Pierce.

Final score: Celtics 109, Warriors 95 (an old-fashioned, high-scoring NBA game--how about that?); three beers; a gin & tonic (hey, I took the train into town); approximately four plates of buffet food; a surprisingly inexpensive Celtics cap from the Pro Shop in North Station, which is actually called the Boston Bruins Pro Shop; and one Big Gulp of caffeine-free Diet Coke at the 7-Eleven across from the Garden. Other than the Warriors, there were no losers!

We had balcony seats, which weren't actually too bad. I managed to snap a few shots. Enjoy. The entire (completely unedited, as always) collection is here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Kansas City Royals

Unmentionably incredible things are happening in a particular amateur school sport; the Boston area is still buzzing about Bill Belichick's now-infamous call; the Bruins are literally driving me insane, and I've got surprise Celtics tickets for tomorrow night's game.

There's no better time, then, to talk a Yes, it's about my fifth-favorite sport (if that), and it's well out of season now. But I'm going to talk about it, anyway. Actually, this post is somewhat timely. Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award today, capping a marvelous season for him and another dismal season for his team, the Kansas City Royals. So, I'm using the news of Greinke's well-deserved award to officially come out: I am a Kansas City Royals fan.

Why? I have no idea. Maybe it's because the Red Sox, having already grabbed their holy grail in 2004 and then again in 2007, aren't much fun to cheer for anymore--they're just a big, rich club now with a fairly obnoxious fan base. (Sorry, Boston fans--but you long-timers know it's true.)

Where's the fun in cheering for a team like that? Where's the challenge? I found myself not even caring that the New York Yankees returned to the top of the baseball mountain this season. Who cares about the Yankees? Who cares about a rivalry between two big, rich teams with massive payrolls and loud-mouth, bandwagon fan bases? (Again, sorry, Boston fans--but you know what I mean.) It's like choosing sides in Microsoft vs. Google or Goldman Sachs vs....well, some other big, nasty Wall Street firm, if there are any others left.

Both choices (in all of those categories) are particularly unpalatable right now for lots of reasons, and they're not exactly headed in the direction of being charming again. So, I'm going to go with the fallen empire in Middle America, a club that, one would hope, can go nowhere but up...or at least can't sink much further down.

There are certain sports loyalties I will never relinquish. I'll always be a Dallas Cowboys fan by birth and by blood, no matter how much I detest Jerry Jones (and I really, really don't like him). I also cheer for the Patriots because they're local and because I like football and they're on TV every weekend. Actually, I became a Pats fan in 1993--check their record back then.

After wandering a bit, I've settled firmly on being a supporter of the English football side West Ham United, a glorious failure of a club whose fans' commitment to style and passion over results strongly appeals to me--and whose theme song, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," seems to serve as a kind of succinct soundtrack for my life. (Just check the chorus in the link; the verses are immaterial.)

Then, there are the Boston Bruins, my local sports passion and perhaps the worst-run, most frustrating, most aggravating, most crazy-making and most utterly lovable sports team anywhere outside of East London. I've been a Bruins fan for going on two totally pointless, fruitless decades now, and I'll continue to be one because...well, I'm still talking with my therapist about why.

Of course, my ultimate sports loyalty is to my alma mater's college football team, which I can't mention for entirely legitimate reasons of superstition. But trust me--this is a torrid love affair that began 25 years ago, waned a bit, came back about 20 years ago and has never abated since. I'm honesty surprised that I haven't been institutionalized over this team. The thing about the Bruins and a therapist was a joke--but if I told you that I'd talked to a counselor (or two, or three) about my college football addiction...well, I'd be telling you the truth. I'm working on it.

I suppose I like the Celtics well enough; they are, after all, the only basketball team of any kind I actually watch. And I'll keep checking in on the results of Stade Francais, the pro rugby club in Paris that I grew to love when I lived there. So, I have loyalties. And I'm not a fair-weather fan. In fact, I'm the opposite--I tend to lose interest in sports teams when they win too much. I can identify with the losers, or at least with the strugglers.

Besides, baseball has always been a bit of a wild card for me. Never having had much interest in the second-fiddle (to the Cowboys, and third when the Mavericks started play) Texas Rangers, I adopted the New York Mets as my favorite baseball team in the early '80s. (Again, check the record.) I'll still be a Mets fan. That's the nice thing about baseball--it's totally legitimate to have a favorite team in each league. But I've never had a rock-hard baseball loyalty like the one I have for the Bruins or West Ham or especially that amateur football team I'm not mentioning.

When my wife and I decided to attend her family reunion this past summer and I realized that our trip would take us through Kansas City, I decided that I had to see the Royals. Oh, sure, the Cardinals are more successful and have a higher profile, and their new stadium is OK, I guess...sort of. I dutifully went to see the Cardinals play and had a nice evening with family.

But the feeling I had for the Royals was different. I had to see them. I was drawn to them. Maybe it was nostalgic memories of the great George Brett, one of my all-time favorite athletes. Maybe it was the crippling love of the hopeless underdog that I've clung to for much of my life, except where the Cowboys were concerned. (And, even with them, I watched every game of the 1-15 1989 season. I'm not sure I've caught a full Cowboys season since.)

Maybe it was a desire to bond with my father-in-law, a KC-area native and all-around good guy. Maybe it had something to do with the weird attraction I seem to have to Kansas City as a place. (I've been reading the KC Star online pretty much every day since our trip there.) Maybe it was the fountains in the outfield, the crown-shaped scoreboard, the "KC" logo, the color of the uniforms or the allure of supporting a once-great franchise that had fallen and couldn't (can't) seem to get up.

Whatever, I went to KC, waited through a rain-out one night, went back the next night, saw the Royals play and became a fan. There was just a charm to the place and the people there that attracted me. For the rest of a near-100-loss season, I tracked every game the Royals played, read articles and blogs in the Star and watched KC on TV when I had a chance. I know--it's crazy. But, like REO Speedwagon, I just couldn't fight this feeling anymore.

So, there you go. I've used a lot of words to tell you that I'm officially a fan of a lousy baseball team that happens to have a great pitcher. (Congrats, Zack.) As for the Red Sox--well, I'll still cheer for them if I go to Fenway (and they're not playing the Royals), but I've really lost my passion for them. They're boring these days, win or lose, and I find baseball boring enough as it is. So, I'm taking up a new challenge. Or, at least, I will be in the spring. Go Royals!

Monday, November 16, 2009

So, Here's My Train of Thought from Tonight's Game...

OK, 4th and 2 from their own 28, six-point lead, a little more than 2 minutes to play. They've just blown two time outs for some reason I can't entirely comprehend. Brady's trotting off the field now, and...wait...he's signaling something... Wow, they're lining up on offense. No punt team.

Alright, so Brady's going to try to draw the Indy defense off-sides. This never works. It's kind of stupid, actually, as the Pats are just going to end up giving up five yards of...hang on. Brady actually looks ready to take the snap. OK, quick kick, then. Kind of a weird call, again, thinking about field position, but...

GOOD LORD!!! WHAT THE...??? THEY'RE ACTUALLY GOING FOR THIS...wha...who...Faulk...oh, he caught that. But the official standing right there is making a juggling motion...a juggling motion, that can't be good... Good night, where are they spotting that ball? What...? How...? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Belichick! Why have you betrayed us?
The rest is extremely recent, and extremely puzzling, history. What on earth was Bill Belichick thinking? Did he get arrogant and get burned by his hubris? (Yes, I think he did.) Did he really have that much confidence in his offense, which had no momentum at the time (and had the considerable handicap of having Laurence Maroney on the field)?

Did he have that much confidence in his defense, which had completely lost the ability to stop Peyton Manning? At least kick the ball deep and make Manning work for it...they had to score a TD, after all. WHAT could Bill have been THINKING? And let's not even talk about his use of time outs...

What a weekend for Boston sports. The Bruins allow Pittsburgh to score with 0.4 seconds left and then lose in overtime (an absolutely classic Bruins finish). The Celtics fall off the face of the earth. And the Pats...well, I'm still not sure what happened.

Oh, I know. Boston fans can't complain. And I'm more of a Cowboys fan than I am a Pats fan, anyway (and, boy, were the 'Boys lousy today). Still, this weekend was...weird. And not good. At least not for pro sports, and especially not in Boston.

There was, of course, one spectacularly good thing that happened far from Boston and in the amateur realm, but I'm not going to talk about it. I can't talk about it. All I'm going to say is this: two more games. Two more games. We've come this far before and choked. So, two more games. That's all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2:25 am

I'm still awake. Lots to think about. Paris was a wringer. I'm not even close to processing everything that happened there. I do know that I miss Derek terribly and that his passing still doesn't seem entirely real to me. I'm not really sure when it will. I can't really imagine being sadder than I am now.

I've taken a break from writing here to mourn the passing of my friend, to attend his funeral in Paris and to try to get myself together and move on. Eventually, I'll get back to writing about trivial things: sports, pop culture, current events and the like. For now, though, I'm stuck pondering faith, life and death, and the purpose we all serve on this little planet. This is the kind of heavy stuff I try to avoid thinking about but can't help but consider right now.

It's pretty warm outside, 51 degrees, and I think some rain is on the way. Thanksgiving will arrive, unbelievably, in a couple of weeks. And then (and possibly before then) winter, the dismal season, the time of year when I always question why I live in New England and whether the bursting springs, idyllic summers and glorious falls here really make the suffering of December through March (in a good year) worthwhile, will arrive.

Oddly enough--and I never, ever feel this way--I could go for a good snowstorm tonight, for the calm and serenity of waking up on a Saturday morning with the ground covered in snow, knowing that, for a few hours anyway, there's nothing to do but gaze at the white tree branches and the confectioner's sugar piled up on the sidewalks. But, instead, we're going to get rain, and not-too-cold temperatures, which, in the end, will make life easier, if a bit more boring than snow would have.

If you're looking for something profound in those last few paragraphs, it's not there. I'm just rambling now. It's about all I can think of to do, as sleep still isn't coming easily, and the prospect of a rainy, gray weekend reminds me that the long struggle of winter is about to begin. This year, though, winter will likely be the least of my struggles. Real life can be really lousy sometimes.

It's now about ten minutes to three in the morning. Time to sign off. Good night. I hope to be back again soon.