DigBoston: BC-Dartmouth Softball Story Live

Head over to DigBoston.com for my experience watching BC softball last weekend.

Baseball season’s right around the corner. And it’s about time, too: I’ve lost interest in the Celtics and Bruins, and I don’t care about the NCAA Tournament anymore.

What with all the warm weather, I decided to devote my latest 52 Games to BC’s softball team. In the process, I received a stark lesson in men’s vs. women’s sports.

Check it out!

Advertisers, Rejoice: More Replay in the NFL

NFL owners made all turnovers subject to booth review Wednesday. Because the game needs so much more of this. (http://www.cleveland.com)

NFL owners made all turnovers subject to booth-review in a 30-2 vote Wednesday. Combined with the similar change made to touchdown calls last season, the reasons a coach might use one of his two (or three) challenges now plummets to basically open-field receptions and ball-placement.

The new rule may slightly protect coaches from bad calls, but the owners didn’t approve it to make their subordinates’ jobs easier.

They did it to make money. Because for every turnover, there’ll be a review. And for every review, there’ll be a commercial break.

So the owners sell more ads, and the coaches save their challenges for first-down spots. That’s a win-win, right?

Sure … unless you’re a football fan.

It’s time football fans knew: no one in the NFL cares about you or your enjoyment. They’d rather reduce the NFL to automatic responses and advertising dollars, removing as much of the human element from the game as possible. In a perfect world, football would be played by FOX’s moronic CGI robots.

Hey, at least robots wouldn’t sue the NFL for destroying their brains.

Continue reading Advertisers, Rejoice: More Replay in the NFL

Nation, Media Appropriately Unconcerned with U.S. Soccer Failure

El Salvador's victory over the U.S. ended the team's Olympic hopes, and the media barely covered it. But who cares?

The past week certainly hasn’t lacked for sports stories: Tim Tebow’s move to the Jets, the rise of this year’s Final Four, the ongoing “investigation” of the murder of Trayvon Martin, even the return of Tiger’s wood (the golf club, pervert).

Adding the country’s inexorable march (in March, no less) back into baseball season, and it’s no wonder U.S. Soccer’s failure to qualify for the Olympics barely made a dent in the headlines.

And why would it? Who’d care? Not too many Americans watch soccer at all, and most of those who do save their patriotism for the World Cup.

Soccer is a four-year sport in this country, like volleyball, swimming or track: we care about it when an international competition comes around every four years, and that’s it. Volleyball and swimming, however, only have the Olympics. Soccer has two major-caliber international competitions, and they’re on offset four-year schedules.

Americans don’t care enough about to soccer to root for it every two years, so we make a choice: watch the World Cup, save the Olympics for more deserving sports.

Continue reading Nation, Media Appropriately Unconcerned with U.S. Soccer Failure

Boston.com: Somerville Ultimate Feature Live

On a nice warm day like we had most of last week, there’s nothing I love more than grabbing a disc and playing some Ultimate. But when I can’t do that, the next best thing is to watch some other people play Ultimate, then get paid to write about them.

Boston.com asked me to combine a recap of Somerville High’s season-opening Ultimate game Thursday with a feature on the team, and it’s now up on Boston.com.

Check it out!

Red Sox Spring Training Update (3/19-25): Lester to Start Opening Day, Jenks Charged with DUI

Dustin Pedroia reacts after getting hit by a pitch during Thursday's Spring Training game against the Yankees. X-Rays were negative, and Pedroia returned Saturday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new Spring Training Player of the Week! With a .571 batting average, three runs, four doubles and an RBI in four games, Mike Aviles takes over. Hopefully this award propels him to a fantastic season, finally giving the Red Sox some stability at shortstop.

In other Spring Training news, Bobby Valentine picked Jon Lester to start Opening Day for the second consecutive year. And in a moment of true stupidity, Bobby Jenks crashed his car after taking too many muscle relaxers early Friday morning. Lee County police officers arrested Jenks and charged him with DUI.

The Red Sox finally had a bad week, going 1-6-1, bringing their record back to .500. Sports of Boston’s weekly Spring Training Update fills you in on the rest.

Twins 8, Red Sox 4

Jacoby Ellsbury‘s RBI single in the third Monday capped a three-run inning, and he finished with two of Boston’s nine hits.

The Red Sox led 3-2 going into the sixth, but Mark Melancon gave up a bases-loaded double to Minnesota center fielder Joe Benson, earning a blown save and the loss. Another rough outing from Scott Atchison (4.91 ERA in five appearances) made it 8-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Felix Doubront started and went 4.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on eight hits, a walk and three strikeouts. Andrew Bailey allowed just a walk in a scoreless seventh.

Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 2

Daniel Bard started, giving up three runs in the second inning Tuesday but limiting Toronto to just a hit and a walk through his other four. Bard’s ability to let the second inning go suggests he has the composure to start games.

The Red Sox got two runs back in the bottom of the second on Aviles’ double and Kelly Shoppach‘s first home run of the preseason, but otherwise Blue Jays pitchers dominated, limiting the Red Sox to just five hits and a walk Tuesday.

Bard took the loss, but the bullpen really failed, allowing six additional earned runs. Of the five relievers Boston used, only Andrew Miller didn’t allow a run, and only because he left after two pitches with a strained hamstring. It was Miller’s second injury this March.

Continue reading Red Sox Spring Training Update (3/19-25): Lester to Start Opening Day, Jenks Charged with DUI

College Hoops: Love the Game, Hate All the Players

I have no idea who this is, but apparently he's leading the NCAA tournament in points per game. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Whenever March Madness comes around, my non-sports friends usually start asking me questions. Who do I think will win it all? How do I pick my brackets? Who are the key players?

Honestly, I barely know anything about college hoops. Too many teams, too many players. I can’t keep track.

In college football, you can get by knowing maybe five key players and schools. But I just can’t keep track of 68 teams’ worth of people I have no earthly reason to care about. Seriously, only three University of Montana players have ever gone to the NBA, they were all terrible, and one was a racist.

Why bother keeping track of schools like Montana, South Florida or N.C. Asheville? For God’s sake, Red Sox season is about to start!

So how do I decide who’s going to win it all? I watch 20 minutes of SportsCenter, and whichever team discussed sticks in my brain for the next 20 minutes gets my pick. This time, I picked Kentucky. If UConn or Wisconsin (the two schools I always root for) get a number-one seed, I pick them.

That’s it. That’s my entire system. I fill the remainder of my brackets using the following criteria:

Continue reading College Hoops: Love the Game, Hate All the Players

DigBoston: Wisconsin NCAA Story Live

Syracuse's mascot is really, really stupid. Read a much longer rant against it at DigBoston.com.

The first two NCAA teams I cared about lost in the first round. That sucked. I needed at least one of my teams to make it a bit deeper, if for no other reason than to keep me interested in the only important sports thing in March.

Luckily, the Wisconsin Badgers made it a bit farther, and they took on the Syracuse Orange (seriously?) in the Sweet 16 Thursday. And I covered it from the Baseball Tavern for DigBoston!

Check it out!

Saints’ Payton Violated NFL’s Image, Gets One-Year Ban

Because Sean Payton and Gregg Williams' "bounty program" with the Saints damaged the image off of which the NFL makes billions, the league had to come down hard against them. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

As punishment for his complicity in the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty program,” Saints coach Sean Payton received a one-year ban from the NFL Wednesday. Roger Goodell also banned St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams – the Saints’ defensive coordinator from 2009-2011 – indefinitely, Saints GM Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six. The NFL also fined the Saints $500,000 and stripped them of their next two draft picks.

A harsh penalty, to be sure, but what did the Saints expect? They not only violated league rules by encouraging players to injure opponents – they violated the image the NFL tries to sell the public.

And that’s a crime the NFL couldn’t let go under-punished.

The National Family-Friendly League

The NFL has convinced us all that football, more than any other sport, is a game that speaks to our “values” as Americans. Sunday afternoon and Monday Night Football have become ritualized viewing experiences involving everyone from the very young to the very old.

The NFL wants us to think that not only can we be entertained by football, we can also identify with football. And that loose mental association between our own identities and this televised sport helps the NFL snatch up billions of the fans’ dollars. Marketing, not quality of product, has made the NFL the most profitable league in the world. The NFL understands that to get our wallets they need to go through our “souls,” and they’ve done it.

Of course, this is all a farce. And the only way to preserve a farce is to never do anything that portrays the NFL as anything other than the family-friendly, “American values” ritual Goodell needs to keep everyone rich.

Continue reading Saints’ Payton Violated NFL’s Image, Gets One-Year Ban

Tim Tebow Deserves Better

Whatever I might think of Tim Tebow's politics, he didn't deserve to get booted out the Broncos' door by John Elway in favor of Peyton Manning. (Getty Images)

Well, it’s official. Peyton Manning is a Denver Bronco.

It’s a win-win, really. The Broncos get Manning, who even at 75 percent can still throw circles around just about any other quarterback. Manning, as long as he stays healthy, gets $96 million.

As I said: it’s a win-win… unless you’re Tim Tebow. I feel kinda bad for Tebow.

I know, I know, Tebow’s not worth my sympathies. If anything, I ought to hate him. He’s allied himself with a Christian Right whose political and social agenda both offends and horrifies me. Many of Tebow’s cohorts – perhaps even Tebow himself – wouldn’t hesitate to tell me as colorfully as possible which circle of hell I’ll burn in for being a) Jewish, b) pro-choice, c) pro gay-marriage, d) a Democrat, and e) Jewish.

Maybe. But I’m also an unemployed 20-something trying to find a job. And Tebow is a 20-something who just lost his job because his boss never liked him.

Tebow just isn’t Broncos executive VP John Elway’s idea of an NFL quarterback. Tebow runs too much. He dumps passing plays too quickly. He’s crap in the pocket. He lacks both arm strength and accuracy.

Tebow’s style barely worked in NCAA, and Elway will be damned if he’ll let that option-run, high school offense pollute the league whose purists he’s suddenly become the spokesman for.

I don’t disagree with Elway’s assessment – I’m not sure anyone could. But Elway’s decision to sign Manning, strip Tebow of his starting role (because c’mon, Manning isn’t getting $96 million to be a backup) and probably trade him seems based more on philosophy than performance.

Continue reading Tim Tebow Deserves Better

DigBoston: Harvard NCAA Story Live

To read my final thoughts on Harvard basketball and its fans, head over to DigBoston.com. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Good for Harvard for making the NCAA tournament. For a team of their caliber, that’s definitely an accomplishment in itself, and calling them a one-and-done team would be incredibly dismissive.

But they did only play one game, and I covered it Thursday from John Harvard’s in Harvard Square for my latest 52 Games.

Check it out!