Anyone for a participation trophy?

I remember when I was a kid and my father would take me to games at the Old Boston Garden and I would look up in the rafters and wonder why the Bruins had so many banners hanging? Had the Bruins won more championships than the Celtics? My father explained to me that the Bruins hung Adams Division champ banners (10 to be exact). Made no sense. Did they have an inferiority complex to the Celtics who were raising championship banners on a yearly basis? Did they actually think that winning your division was an accomplishment worth recognizing? The Bruins didn’t need the rest of the country to laugh at them because Boston sports fans knew how silly this was within their own city.

I remember when I attended a Providence Friars basketball game several years ago and they had an NIT participant banner hanging. Didn’t think it could get worse but in come the Indianapolis Colts.

Yes its true! This past week the Colts (had a Bruins moment) and made themselves vulnerable to the sports world. The Colts suffer from Kakorrhaphiophobia (the fear of failure or defeat). Because of this, they decided to raise an “AFC Finalist” banner. Hope they save the banner raising ceremony until the Pats come in for Tom Brady’s return. The Colts are very anxious that they will never get over the hump of winning a big game and know that there is no hope of ever going against Rex Grossman in the Superbowl again so this is how sad things have become. This must be terribly DEFLATING for Colts fans. Maybe they can put an asterisk at the bottom of the banner saying “We hope to come within 38 points next time.”

By the way, Colts fans and national media who compare themselves to the Patriots since they hung a 16-0 banner in Gillette Stadium need to realize that there is a difference between hanging a banner for the first 16-0 season ever and hanging a banner for losing a conference championship game. I bet the children of Colts upper management have participation trophies decorated all over their respective houses.

So when Brandon Spikes left the scene of the accident and his car, did he not realize that the car was registered to him? Between Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes, the Gators are making the University of Miami football playing graduates look like law abiding citizens. Are the Patriots familiar with the concept of background checks?  Another blemish in what has been a turbulent offseason to say the least.

Matt Flynn is here though and his all-time stats in Foxboro are off the chart. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick is giving Malcolm Butler the Jonas Gray treatment. We get it Bill…no one can break the rules. Can’t wait to see who you trot out at cornerback this season.

LeBron James looks tired but most of all he looks like he currently has the same roster as the old Cavaliers teams he used to lead. Cleveland gutted through the first three games by playing hard-nosed defensive basketball while Golden State looked like they were anticipating a scrimmage. Kobe Bryant (remember him) ripped the Warriors for their lack of toughness and heart on Twitter after Game 3. Kobe perhaps had an agenda to not let LeBron catch him in championships or is just a curmudgeon now since he never plays. Golden State responded and put it together in Game 4. If the Cavs win, this would be one of the greatest individual efforts of all time by King James and even his most staunch critics would have to give him that. If Golden State loses, this would be an epic choke after the regular season they had and with the superior talent they have when comparing current rosters.

Matthew Dellavedova has certainly been a revelation but I have seen people get assaulted in the street who suffer less contact than Delly gives to Stephen Curry and company. Regardless, Curry has looked frail at times and has withered around the physicality. He will be fine the rest of the way and I anticipate a big Game 5 from him tonight.

There has been so much previous discussion on whether the Sox should have signed Jon Lester but one huge point that has been missed is that they could have signed battle-tested ace (at worst #2) James Shields for the four–year 72 million dollar contract he got from San Diego as a replacement. Shields is 7-0 this season with an ERA of 3.79. Shields is a great leader and bulldog who could have brought some much needed attitude to this pitching staff. Meanwhile, the pitcher the Sox signed to a multi-year deal for more money than Shields, Rick Porcello is 4-6 with a 5.26 ERA. Lester by the way continues to struggle for the Cubs with a 4-5 record along with a 4.25 ERA and an almost 1.50 WHIP.

As for the sad incident that happened last week at Fenway Park when a fan got seriously injured from a flying bat, let’s not overreact like we did in 2002 when a 13-year-old girl died after being hit by a puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game. Yes fan safety is tremendously important. The issue here is whether to put up additional netting in every ballpark or curtail the use of maple bats and once proper research is done, we can only hope a common sense decision will be made. Baseball was invented in 1839. Since 1887, it is estimated two fans have died from being hit by a foul ball. The bigger safety picture is that the strength of the players and bats has changed. But if we are going to start identifying what are the biggest risks in baseball, let’s start with hitters getting beaned in the head by pitchers. And what about lined shots back up the middle that have so often injured pitchers. And perhaps the worst of all, the fact that college and high school baseball players still use aluminum bats. These kids are going to get killed with the speed that the ball comes off an aluminum bat. And how about the 21 fans that have died falling in baseball stadiums because of inadequate railings. Getting struck by lightning has caused more deaths since the inception of baseball than what happened last week. If safety is the true priority, let’s focus on where the real problems are and not the fluke ones.

How about those Red Sox. Just when things looked bad, they got worse. The Sox sent their rookie ace to the mound today Eduardo Rodriguez who promptly gave up nine runs in 4 and 2/3. The Red Sox are the laughingstock of major league baseball and don’t excel in any aspect of the game. John Farrell must go and if blowing an 8-1 lead Friday night, six straight losses and the second worst team in the American League aren’t enough, than more fun is ahead.

And I must close with the best charitable donation of all time. In light of the legal dispute going on between the city of Glendale, AZ and the Phoenix Coyotes, the Glendale City Council voted to end an arena lease with the Coyotes leaving them no place to play. Disgruntled Coyotes fan Ronda Pearson in exchange for a $10,000 donation to a selected charity, was able to use a stun gun on Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers and take out her frustration on him. Stunning video worth checking out on Youtube. In the meantime, a judge has temporarily halted the lease termination.

It did get me thinking though if I could pay to have someone tasered, my top 10 would be:

10. Colts GM Ryan Grigson

9. Any Montreal Canadiens player

8. Any fan of the Oakland Raiders (they probably had it coming anyway)

7. Bill Laimbeer

6. Roger Goodell

5. Rex Ryan

4. Jack Tatum

3.  Isiah Thomas (the sexual assault one)

2. Alex Rodriguez

1. Ulf Samuelsson 


Frauds: Colts and Sox

I am launching an investigation into the Indianapolis Colts franchise for fraudulent behavior.

I begin my case by pointing to the 2004 playoff game when Ty Law snared three interceptions en route to a 24-14 win over the Colts. Colts GM Bill Polian “The Ultimate CryBaby” threw a hissy fit in the press box after that game and then led a committee that offseason to change specific pass defense rules because his receivers were too soft. Polian was sad that his QB had no Superbowl appearances while The Patriots had won three in the past four seasons. His efforts were rewarded in 2006 when the Colts won their only Superbowl in the Manning-Polian era.

Not onyl did they win that Superbowl as a result of the rule change they begged for, it was against one of the softest opponents in Superbowl history (the 2006 Bears) and the worst QB in Superbowl history Rex Grossman. Manning couldn’t give that one away. That was the only year Grossman started all 16 games over an 11 year career and he only started more than eight one other season. He averaged five touchdowns and five interceptions per season.

Secondly, the Colts clearly tanked the 2011 season to get Andrew Luck and embarrassed the NFL in the process. A quote from a prominent NFL writer after the Colts fell to 0-13: “It should become glaringly obvious that Bill (Polian) and his son Chris are having the Colts tank and owner Jim Irsay needs to cut ties with these bozos if he wants to remain credible.” That would imply the Colts have ever cared about credibility or taking accountability for there many years of underachieving in the playoffs.

Lastly, Andrew Luck and the present Colts team have been repeatedly annihilated by the Patriots so Colts GM Ryan Grigson tattled on the Patriots in Deflategate. Unfortunately, Grigson forgot that NFL teams need defense to be successful (Colts have given up 131 points in last three games against the Pats) so he resorted to the only thing he had left following a long-standing Colts tradition of passing the buck when they fail and whining to Mommy for rule changes.

Keep drafting those wide receivers though Ryan and hope Frank Gore doesn’t keel over by the midway point.

Before I transition to baseball, I must express by deep concern and frustration with FIFA. 150 million in bribes and corruption? A future World Cup in the hotbed (I mean that literally) in 140 degree Qatar. Everything seems on the up and up to me. This could be the break that soccer needs.  Maybe they should change the soccer federation to be called “Thiefa”. I apologize I couldn’t help myself.

A special shout out to Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie who recently allowed 11 runs and 12 baserunners in one inning of work. That wouldn’t be acceptable even by Red Sox standards.

I was thinking about while the debate over whether the National League should adopt the DH rages on, that the Red Sox could present an alternative proposal. How about multiple DH’s in your lineup…say David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval could all play DH? Men’s softball leagues would be jealous everywhere.

What is going on with the Red Sox right now is not a short-term thing and is embarrassing on several fronts. It was one thing to identify that your lineup lacked offensive punch especially when your best player is 38, it is another thing to sign two guys that have virtually no defensive skills whatsoever in Ramirez and Sandoval.

The front office blundered by letting Lester go and by not resigning Andrew Miller for a mere four million dollars more (otherwise known as  ½ of Justin Masterson’s wasted salary). Lester was proven and proven in a big market, was getting better with age and was a proven ace. The Sox spent 300 million on Sandoval, Ramirez and Rick Porcello and gave up Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury in the process for the same amount. What combo would you rather have? Ask the Yankees how they feel about losing Ellsbury to an injury? They have been a mess since he has gone down. Yes I know about his history of injuries, but boy has he been good since he left. The Sox also could have saved the 72 million on Rusney Castillo.

John Farrell was the answer initially as they needed a professional calming influence after Bobby Valentine left, but he offers nothing now. For a former pitching coach, Farrell hasn’t coaxed anything magical out of any pitcher on this staff. He is not an X’s and O’s guy, not a motivator and just doesn’t seem to have the requisite skills to get this ship turned around.

Everybody keeps saying the Red Sox are underachieving but I think the talent evaluation was poor and that the team simply isn’t very good. Are they better than six games below .500? Maybe, what I do know though is that if I hear one more fan or media member remind me that they are still within shouting distance of the division lead I am going to vomit. Is that the standard? Winning an inferior division and arguably the worst division in baseball and then getting dismantled in the playoffs. Can’t wait for Game 1 of the playoffs when the Sox trot out current staff ERA leader Wade Miley. I can just hear Joe Buck on Fox now trying to hype that.

Clayton Kershaw is on the verge of making his 100th start that he has allowed one run or less. I was amazed when I read that until I saw that Roger Clemens did that 255 times. WOW! Not sure how many were pre-juice though?

Seriously, the Houston Astros are still the top team in the American League.

The Angels haven’t lost since Josh Hamilton returned to the Rangers lineup.

Seems that the water bottle Johnny Manziel threw at a badgering fan was the most accurate toss he has thrown in his NFL career.