Bruins Fans: Enough with Alex Burrows

OK, I admit it: Canucks left winger Alex Burrows probably should have been suspended for biting Patrice Bergeron during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. It was a clear violation of the rules, and the NHL most likely ignored it because they didn’t want to handicap the marketability of their championship by suspending a key player.

I’ll let Jeff Goldblum give my opinion of NHL v.p. Mike Murphy’s “no conclusive evidence” argument for letting the incident go without even a fine:

“No conclusive evidence?” Mr. Murphy, have you ever heard of YouTube? No? Here, I’ll show you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YsCHbg6B1k

Looks pretty darn conclusive to me. If you want to avoid suspending Burrows because you want to keep one of the most dynamic players left in the playoffs on the ice, fine. You obviously can’t use that as your explanation, but at least have the decency to make up something more credible than “no conclusive evidence.” Or, again, fine Burrows but don’t suspend him. That way you still look tough without directly influencing the outcome of the games.

The NHL made a mistake, plain and simple.

Having said all that, I’m getting pretty sick of hearing about Burrows and his teeth. It’s nothing more than sour grapes disguised as righteous anger. Had Burrows not scored two goals Saturday, including the game-winner, no one would care. But he won the game for the Canucks, and all of a sudden every action taken by a Canucks player is looked at through this incredibly petty lens. Right winger Maxim Lapierre wags his finger in Bergeron’s face. The Sedin brothers introduce Burrows as a “vegetarian.” For shame! They’re mocking the game!

Really? They’re “mocking the game?” What kind of high and mighty crap is that? Yes, they were making fun of the situation a little bit, because the image of grown men biting each other is, well, kinda funny.

News flash, everyone: there is no such thing as “integrity of the game.” Never has been, never will be. “Integrity of the game” is a lofty, purely imagined concept lashed onto a sport that never wanted it. These players are not role models. They want to win, they want to be famous, they want to get rich. Same as the rest of the us. Anything beyond that are league-mandated behaviors designed to sell an image. If players could become multi-millionaires without having to look like fine, upstanding citizens, they would.

I once read about a study of high school athletes that asked if they would use a performance-enhancing steroid if they were guaranteed to get away with it. The subjects overwhelmingly answered “yes,” and the numbers didn’t dip much with the added caveat that the steroid would kill them within 10 years of retirement.

The same logic works with fighting, tackling, or any other controversial sports topic. If an athlete can succeed without having to rise above his basest, most juvenile instincts, he will. Just like a regular person would.

Bruins fans are angry about the Stanley Cup finals so far, because in two games the Bruins have only hung with the Canucks when the Canucks have allowed them to. Vancouver plays very well most of the time, then kicks it into overdrive when they have to. So far, the Bruins haven’t matched that second gear, and no one is sure if they even can.

The lightning-quick way in which Vancouver won both Games 1 and 2 has left Bruins fans grasping for anything concrete to latch onto, and they’ve latched onto the biting incident.

You know who you all look like? Canadiens fans. Yeah, I said it. Deal with it.

A similar uproar happened in Montreal after Zdeno Chara’s March 8 hit on left winger Max Pacioretty sent Pacioretty off the ice on a stretcher. Fans wanted Chara suspended, expelled, even arrested for assault. As I pointed out at the time, Habs fans made no such clamoring when one of their own did the exact same thing 22 years ago. Chara hurt the Canadiens’ chance to win, so their fans wanted his head. Burrows hurt the Bruins’ chance to win, and Boston fans want Burrows’ head.

Bruins fans have slightly more justification for this, in that Burrows broke a rule and Chara just mistimed his hit. But this is splitting hairs. Burrows bite went unpunished, Bruins fans. Deal with it and move on. Grow up.

Of course, don’t let that stop you from booing the hell out of Burrows Monday night at the Garden.

Fourth-Ranked Somerville High Ultimate Team Holds Seed at State Championship

(Written, shot and edited for Somerville Patch)

Villen highlights from Div. II State Championship

Villen, Somerville High’s Ultimate (Frisbee) team, came into Saturday’s Div. II State Championship at Rogers Field in Devens ranked fourth. They finished in fourth place as well.

Consolation-game opponent Abington High School used a 7-1 first half to hold off a late-game Villen comeback, beating Villen 13-9 and claiming third place. Villen went 1-2 Saturday and finished fourth.

Xaverian Brothers High School (Westwood) defeated the top-ranked Hartsbrook School (Hadley) for the title.

A 13-6 loss in the semi-finals to Hartsbrook cost Villen a title opportunity. Junior Brandon Hamilton hit 6-foot-4 sophomore Sam Badot-Fisher with a deep pass that Badot-Fisher boxed out Hartsbrook sophomore Vincent DeFelice to pull down and put Villen up 1-0.

Juniors Game Imber and Tom Kennedy took advantage of a Hartsbrook short-yardage turnover to go up 2-0, then Hamilton hit sophomore Rory Palmer with a bullet pass to score again.

After that, however, Villen fell apart at the hands of Hartsbrook’s swarming defense.

The breeze at Rogers Field forced teams to use a “zone” defense, in which a three-player cup surrounds the disc at all times, and the other four players cut off passing lanes. Hartsbrook’s cup routinely pinned Villen against the sideline, often deep in their own territory.

DeFelice (three points, two assists) hand-blocked six passes for turnovers, all of which led to short-yardage situations for Hartsbrook. Down 4-1, Hartsbrook responded with a 10-0 run that put them up 11-4 late in the second half.

From there, all Hartsbrook needed to do was trade points for two possessions, and they won, 13-6.

Badot-Fisher scored two of Villen’s points; Hamilton threw for three assists.

Villen’s match against Hartsbrook may have broken their concentration, because Abington did not have to force turnovers so much as wait for Villen to turn it over themselves. Although Hamilton again hit Badot-Fisher with a deep-pass goal that Badot-Fisher out-jumped his opponent for, Villen either dropped or missed a pass at least once on the next seven offensive possessions, and Abington took half, 7-1.

Villen almost got back in the game in the second half, scoring five of the next seven points. Goals by junior Andrew Reiss and freshman Sonam Ngwang cut the lead to 7-3, then Hamilton and Palmer each hit it each other for a goal: Palmer to Hamilton off an isolation play in the end zone, then Hamilton to Palmer on a full-field pass.

A Palmer pass to Reiss again made it 9-6, but Abington then turned back on the defense, diving to knock down a Villen pass, then pinning Palmer at the front-right cone of his own end zone off the pull (like football’s kickoff) to force a short-yardage turnover.

Abington’s 3-0 mini-run pushed the lead too far, and Villen simply couldn’t come back from 12-6. Kennedy scored twice more, and Palmer threw for two more – including another Badot-Fisher jump-ball deep pass – but Abington sealed the victory with a deep forehand throw of their own.

As much trouble as Villen had with Hartsbrook and Abington, their quarter-final game against St. Johnsbury Academy (VT) was that easy. Villen scored first, with Palmer hitting Badot-Fisher with a long pass that couldn’t quite reach the end zone, forcing a quick give-and-go with Palmer.

After Badot-Fisher’s defender, senior Conor Dannis, tied the game with a diving score, Villen went on a 5-0 run. They went into halftime up 7-2, then closed out the second half with another 5-0 run to win 13-4.

Villen’s offense showed great balance against St. Johnsbury, getting goals from six different players, and assists from four. Badot-Fisher, Ngwang and sophomore Edwin Cruz led the team with three goals apiece, and sophomore Obed Diaz scored two. Palmer and sophomore Johnathan Figueroa each scored a goal.  Palmer led the team with six assists, followed by Hamilton (four), Badot-Fisher (two) and freshman R.J. Bingham (one).

Assistant coach Ted Blake said after the final game he was especially happy with Villen’s zone defense, then singled out Badot-Fisher for his offensive production.

“Sam came down with some real nice ones,” Blake said.

Though Blake said the key to next year will be smarter decision-making, head coach Alicia Kersten said that recruiting more players is key.

“We need numbers, and we need numbers at practice to get better, and we need numbers at a tournament,” Kersten said. “I think we’ll be better next year because these guys will be better, but we’re not going to go to the next level unless we get five more dedicated, athletic guys on the team.”

Saturday’s state championship marked the end for senior Peter Gutierrez, the first four-year player in Villen’s program. He will attend UMass-Lowell next year, where he says he will continue his Ultimate career.

Said Gutierrez, “Through my high school experience, Ultimate Frisbee was probably the biggest influence in how I changed.”

Matsuzaka to the 60-Day DL, Tommy John Surgery Likely… Does Anyone Care?

Daisuke Matsuzaka is heading to the 60-day DL and may done as a Red Sox. No one cares. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 60-day DL Friday. Although the team has not said this definitively, multiple sources have told Boston Globe writer Pete Abraham that Matsuzaka will undergo Tommy John surgery. With only one more year on his contract, the surgery and its 15-month minimum recovery period means that Matsuzaka has played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.

Red Sox fans, are you sweating profusely, obsessing over the fear that no Matsuzaka means no World Series championship? Will you shed tears for the lost Japanese sensation and his nonexistent “gyroball?” Do you actually care? Even a little?

Because really, when has Matsuzaka ever done anything good for the Red Sox? He was a .556 pitcher with an uninspiring 4.40 ERA his rookie year. He won two games in the 2007 postseason, but had a 5.03 ERA and never game the team a quality start. Heck, his greatest contribution to the team in 2007 may have been with his bat, driving in two runs in Boston’s 10-5 Game 3 victory against the Rockies.

He had a good season in 2008, there’s no way to deny that. 18-3 record, 2.90 ERA, fourth in Cy Young voting, he was a definite contributor to a team that made it to Game 7 of the ALCS. There’s no way not to give him credit for that year. Just that year.

Because since 2008, Matsuzaka has been an absolute dud. In his last three seasons, Matsuzaka has gone 16-15 with a 5.04 ERA.

Now, those numbers aren’t awful on their own. Tim Wakefield’s career winning percentage isn’t much better than Matsuzaka’s, and his 4.38 ERA isn’t exactly “dominating.” But Wakefield is always entertaining, and that lets him overcome rather pedestrian statistics. You all like watching Wakefield pitch, right? I know I do. That knuckleball either makes hitters look stupid, or it leads to a lot of deep home runs. Whichever knuckleball you get, it’s fun to watch. Plus, you always know immediately what Wakefield will give you. The knuckleball will either be on, or it will be off.

Matsuzaka has never shown any consistency, even within a single start. He could walk two guys, get two quick outs, hit a batter, then get out of the jam. The next inning, he could go 1-2-3. After that, he gives up two singles and a home run. Then, he misses a start … then wins two in a row … then gets rocked. Matsuzaka is maddening. Literally. Watching him makes you angry.

Let’s look at his quality starts (commonly defined as six innings of three runs or fewer) throughout his career. In his rookie season, Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox 18 quality starts of 32 total. In 2008, that number dropped to 14 and one in the postseason in 29 regular-season and three postseason starts. In 2009, a season in which Matsuzaka decided the World Baseball Classic was more important than the preparation necessary to get through the regular MLB season injury-free, he gave the team just three quality starts out of 12.

That number hiked back up to 10 (of 25) in 2010, but here’s a fun fact: this season, Josh Beckett gave the Red Sox 10 quality starts before June. Matsuzaka threw 15 innings of two-hit baseball in back-to-back starts in April this season, but those were his only quality starts before going on the DL.

Is Matsuzaka’s early termination a bad thing? Doesn’t seem like it. With the exception of three seasons ago, he’s never given the Red Sox much better than a 50-50 chance of winning. Wakefield gives the Red Sox as good a chance to win if not better, and Red Sox fans actually like him. Besides, with a reclaimed spot in the rotation, Wakefield still has an outside shot to become the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history. At 181 career wins with the Red Sox, he needs 11 to tie, 12 to break.

As long as the Red Sox are going to use a .500 pitcher in the fifth spot, why not have it be a pitcher that people actually root for? Red Sox fans would much rather see Roger Clemens erased from the history books than sludge through four more months of Matsuzaka.

The Seibu lion turned out to be a paper tiger. At this point, fans would rather the Red Sox just fold him up for good.

Book Review: “When the Game was Ours”

“When the Game was Ours,” by Jackie MacMullan

Jackie MacMullan’s When the Game was Ours is the story of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. The story starts with Bird’s and Johnson’s appearance at the April 1978 World Invitational Tournament in Kentucky, an electrifying few seconds in which the two future superstars and Hall of Famers hit each other with a series of gorgeous passes before Johnson laid it in. The history then takes the two players through their college years, culminating with Johnson’s Michagan State Spartans beating Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores in the national championship.

MacMullan covers both players’ journey through the NBA (which they basically saved from bankruptcy), spending the bulk of pages on the three Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals in 1984, 85 and 87. She concludes with Magic’s HIV diagnosis, retirement and education, Bird’s back injury and retirement, and both players ultimately stepping aside for Michael Jordan, as symbolized by a playful argument during the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Along the way, MacMullan analyzes how and why Bird and Johnson became such good friends despite their fiercely competitive natures. Though the ending lacks punch, the journey more than makes up for it.

Jackie MacMullan Kicks Ass

Time for some honesty: I have a giant journalistic crush on Jackie MacMullan, former Boston Globe Celtics writer and current ESPN columnist. She is the best basketball writer in the country. I learn something new every time I read her, because she backs up her substantial writing talent with a wealth of basketball knowledge. Want to know how you can tell when a writer really knows his or her stuff? He or she doesn’t spend the whole column trying to convince you of it. MacMullan writes with what I call “gentle intelligence.” She teaches without beating you over the head. Her analysis shows off how deeply she understands basketball, and she does a fantastic job pairing her words with the words of Bird, Johnson and their teammates. Her writing, her reporting, her interviewing, they’re all top notch.

The classic challenge to writing long-form journalism is maintaining a narrative that keeps moving forward while successfully flashing back often enough to give background without losing the forward flow. MacMullan pulls it off almost flawlessly. The best example is her story of the famous 1985 Converse sneakers commercial, in which Johnson pulls up to Bird’s home in French Lick, Indiana, the two exchange some words, and start a game of 1-on-1.

MacMullan has Johnson and Bird go into Bird’s basement to relax between takes, then devotes 10 pages to Bird’s and Johnson’s upbringing and high school years. MacMullan parallels the two players so well that, when she has the players come out of the basement 10 pages later, it’s obvious why they bonded and wound up friends once their NBA careers were over.

MacMullan pulls off the flashbacks without a problem. Occasionally she opts to instead flash forward, and that’s much harder to do. In the midst of the Converse commercial section, it’s mentioned that Bird’s mother was a fan of Isaiah Thomas since his days at Indiana. MacMullan then briefly flashes to Thomas’s disparaging anti-Bird remarks after the Celtics beat his Detroit Pistons in the 1987 conference finals, a series highlighted by Bird’s iconic steal of Thomas’s inbound pass in Game Five. Granted, any real Celtics historian would instantly know what this play is. I’m not such a historian, having been only 3 when Bird won his last championship, and with Milwaukee-born parents interested only in football (and maybe the Milwaukee Braves, in my dad’s case). I’ve seen the steal dozens of times, but I never learned who it was against or when. So I was confused, and I didn’t learn what she was talking about for 41 pages.

But these flash-forwarding missteps are the outliers, not the norm. Even the most knowledgeable Celtics and Lakers fans will learn something knew about their favorite teams. Kevin McHale and Bird so respected each other’s differing playing mentality (McHale never had Bird’s killer instinct) that they only talked to each other on the court through Danny Ainge. Cedric Maxwell, no matter how good a color commentator he might now be, became an absolute clubhouse cancer in his final seasons, preferring to brag about his contracts and joke about wanting to get injured rather than trying. Johnson gave Jordan a far harder time than Bird about Jordan’s place as the best in the game.

So Who’s Better?

Ultimately, Johnson might go down as the slightly better all-around player, helped out by his five rings to Bird’s three. Bird will always be the better clutch-shooter, especially before the 1986-87 season, when the decline of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forced Johnson to become a Bird-like scorer. Without a doubt, both players look back on their careers with both satisfaction and regret.

The 1980s were a golden age of basketball, in which the two biggest stars played on the two greatest franchises. The NBA has never been the same.

Raffi Torres Goal with 18.5 Left in Third Gives Canucks Stanley Cup Game One Victory

Raffi Torres scores the game-winning goal late in the third period against Tim Thomas during Wednesday's Game One of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It was a classic goalie battle Wednesday night as the Stanley Cup finals began at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. No Canuck could get past Tim Thomas, but neither could any Bruin get past Robert Luongo. Both were impenetrable walls, denying any and every shot. Sticks, skates, helmets, gloves, whatever it took to block the puck. For 59 minutes and 41.5 seconds, Thomas and Luongo matched each other shot for shot, save for save. Overtime seemed certain.

Then suddenly Thomas was frozen on a 2-on-1, and the game was over. Canucks left winger Raffi Torres beat Thomas off a crossing pass from right winger Jannik Hansen with less than 20 seconds left in the third period, and Luongo stopped 36 shots to give the Canucks a 1-0 victory in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. Game Two will be played Saturday.

Boychuck Error Gives Canucks Sudden Advantage in Offensive Zone

If the Canucks really are the indomitable hockey gods they were built up as prior to the series, they didn’t show it Wednesday night. The Bruins skated with the Canucks. They shot as often as the Canucks. They hit as hard as the Canucks. They won more faceoffs than the Canucks. They even executed their power play offense and defense better than the Canucks. Boston was every bit the team Vancouver was in Game One.

If their was one area in which the Bruins looked weaker, though, it was their puck handling. It was always just slightly sloppier than Vancouver’s. They only gave away seven pucks (the Canucks gave away nine), but the passing was always slightly off: a little ahead or behind; at the skates instead of at the blade; bouncing on the ice or slightly elevated instead of flat on the ice. Clearing shots would get past the blue line but then go right back to the Canucks.

It looked as if the Bruins were going to get away with this tiny deficiency, until Johnny Boychuk misplayed a clearing passing near the Bruins’ blue line. Center Ryan Kesler took the puck away from Boychuk and immediately dished it to Hansen. Thomas had already faced Hansen in a breakaway situation earlier in the third and stonewalled him, so he came out to face Hansen again. Instead of shooting, Hansen hit Torres with a bullet crossing pass that Thomas was too far out of position to defend. Torres tipped it in easily for the only goal of the game.

Bruins Can’t Solve Luongo

The Bruins had no problem shooting the puck at Luongo. They out-shot the Canucks 26-20 through two periods, including double-digit power play shots. Nathan Horton and David Krejci each got off five shots on goal, and Brad Marchand chipped in four. The Bruins got off 36 shots, and Luongo stopped them all, never once making the desperation saves that Thomas had to occasionally resort to on the other end. Luongo never looked panicked or out of position, always smoothly grabbing shots or stopping rebounds.

The Bruins’ best scoring chance came at the start of the second period. The first ended with a fight between Patrice Bergeron and left winger Alex Burrows in which Burrows bit Bergeron on the hand. Burrows was given four minutes for roughing and will likely face a suspension by the NHL. In a separate fight after the buzzer, Zdeno Chara took on defensemen Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis at the same time. Although no penalty was called for the fight, Bieksa was penalized for high-sticking Chara 30 seconds into the second period.

Bieksa’s penalty gave Boston a five-on-three, but the Bruins managed just four shots with a double-man advantage. Boston oddly settled for tight-angle shots, attacking from near the goalposts instead of feeding it back to the center and letting Chara use his 6-foot-9, 255-pound body to screen Luongo and disrupt the defense.

A series of penalties against both sides stalled the offense in the second period, with five-on-five play the rarity. The Bruins and Canucks combined for 17 shots, 12 fewer than in the first.

The Canucks turned on the intensity in the third period, out-shooting the Bruins 14-10 and keeping the puck in Boston’s zone for extended periods. Faced with the constant Vancouver attack, Boston could only mount sporadic offensive surges. Milan Lucic missed from inside the crease early in the period. Michael Ryder fired off a shot with 4:02 elapsed, then grabbed the rebound and shot again two seconds later. Krejci took it into the crease with 6:36 gone and was turned aside. After that, the Bruins managed just one shot from within 30 feet of the goal.

The Canucks kicked their offense into another gear late in the third period, the Bruins’ tiny crack became a gaping hole, and the Canucks put the puck through it to win Game One.

Pierre and Ramirez Pound Aceves, Red Sox

Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox hits a 2-RBI single in the second inning of Tuesday's game in Boston. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Having lost two straight, the Boston Red Sox needed a stopper Tuesday night. They turned to a man who hadn’t lost since June 2009, and he was terrible. Red Sox starter Alfredo Aceves gave up eight runs in just five innings of work, and the Chicago White Sox banged out 15 hits – 12 singles – and survived a late-game Boston push to out-slug the Red Sox, 10-7.

Four-Run Innings Cost Aceves and Atchison

Whatever mystery and deception enabled Aceves to retire the White Sox 1-2-3 on eight pitches in the first inning, it disappeared before the second. The White Sox walked and singled to lead off the inning, then loaded the bases with one out. Second baseman Gordon Beckham put the White Sox up 1-0 with a single to left.

The White Sox went up 2-0 when third baseman Brent Morel’s grounder bounced high on a ranging Jed Lowrie, hit Lowrie in the glove and was kicked away. The play was ruled an RBI fielder’s choice with an error.

Aceves fielded a chopper in front of the plate by left fielder Juan Pierre and threw home for the second out, but shortstop Alexei Ramirez bounced a 1-2 pitch over Aceves’s glove and into center field to plate two more. Ramirez finished the game 4-5, including an additional RBI single in the fourth to make it 6-1 White Sox.

Aceves pitched into the sixth, hitting a batter and giving up a single without recording an out. Reliever Scott Atchison fared no better.

An immediate passed ball by Jason Varitek moved the Chicago runners to second and third, and with one out Pierre bounced a ball over a drawn-in Adrian Gonzalez to drive in both and take an 8-1 lead. The White Sox finished the inning up 10-1.

Aceves took the loss, allowing eight runs – six earned – on eight hits and three walks. He struck out one (the first out of the game) and hit a batter, his fifth of the season. He threw first-pitch strikes to only half the batters faced, and got only 11 called strikes in the game. Nearly twice as many (21) were put in play, with the White Sox content to score runs a base at a time.

Atchison gave up four hits, allowing two inherited runners to score while being charged with two runs of his own. His ERA  is now 5.11.

The lone bright spot for the pitching staff Tuesday was the return of Bobby Jenks. After retiring the first two batters faced in the eighth on just four pitches, Jenks gave up back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. First baseman Paul Konerko lined a 1-2 pitch back up the middle, but Jenks snared the ball out of the air and doubled replacement left fielder Brent Lillibridge easily off first.

Humber Dominates for Seven, then Red Sox Bats Wake Up

White Sox starting pitcher Philip Humber dominated the Red Sox for the first seven innings. He retired the first eight Red Sox in a row, then made his only mistake until the eighth, allowing a Varitek two-out solo home run into the White Sox bullpen to make it 5-1 Chicago. Varitek finished the night 3-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

The Red Sox put runners on base every inning from the fourth through the seventh, but never broke through for runs. They finally broke through against Humber in the eighth.

Boston’s defensive replacements keyed the eighth-inning scoring, with Josh Reddick banging a double off the Green Monster and Drew Sutton scoring him with a single, also off the wall, to make it 10-2 White Sox. After Kevin Youkilis’s two out single – again off the wall – put runners at the corners, Humber was lifted for Will Ohman.

The left-handed reliever was called in to face David Ortiz, but Ortiz (2-4) simply took him the opposite way for a three-run home run into the Green Monster seats.

The Red Sox scored twice more in the bottom of the ninth, on a Reddick sacrifice fly and a Sutton RBI double, but then simply ran out of outs. Still down 10-7 with two outs, Chris Sale struck out Gonzalez to end the game.

Boston’s late-game scoring was never really a comeback. Humber, who threw over 70 percent of his pitches for strikes, kept the Red Sox offense in check for too long. Aceves gave up a bunch of runs early, then kept giving up more runs with each new inning, making a comeback more and more difficult as the game went on. The eighth and ninth innings were simply garbage time, and the Red Sox, who are definitely playing like garbage right now, used the time to pad their numbers and save a modicum of their self-respect.