Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a Ride!

Nice hit Vic

Thank you Red Sox for this magical season.  Ever since the get-go, you could tell this was a different team than last year.  Starting off the month of April 18-8 was no fluke as some critics liked to think it was.  It wasn’t until the All-star break until the Sox were given credit where credit was due, and even then, some said that the Sox would crumble like we did 2 years ago.  But this team is different than any team we’ve had in the past.  They just never let up.  The ALCS game where Papi hit the grand slam was the most clutch but not the first comeback of the year.  We had so many comebacks in the regular season, because we treated every game this year like it was a World Series game.  Many teams, down by a few runs late in the game would have said “Oh well, it’s just one regular season game.  How bad can it hurt,” but the Sox didn’t give up until the final out was made.  That’s how we were so ready to go once the playoffs came along.  It’s like we had been playing playoff baseball all year long.  And not everyone can pull that off.  It takes a special group of guys that just has more team chemistry than any other team.  It all starts with the team leaders. 

Despite that one error, Pedroia was lights-out at second base tonight
First off, Pedroia didn't get World Series MVP (I think we all know Big Papi earned that), but he has been the most valuable player to this team all year.  It’s not just the numbers he puts up, which are great, but his defense, attitude, and commitment to the team allowed him to lead by example.  This World Series wouldn’t have been possible without you Dustin.  

Koji was a Uege pick-up
Second, the offseason transactions were essential, especially the firing of Valentine and the hiring of Farrell.  In retrospect, our offseason moves were genius.  They remind me of what Oakland has been able to do with a very low budget: make it to the playoffs year in, year out by picking up undervalued players (plot of the movie Moneyball).  Though the Sox (4th highest payroll in MLB) have a much higher budget than the A’s (26th in MLB), the Sox still were able to pick up undervalued players in the offseason and become the best team in baseball.  David Ross, for example was a great pick-up, as well as Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, and Stephen Drew.  All of these guys have contributed this postseason, and all year for that matter.  

Lastly, Lester deserves a lot of credit.  In 2007, after winning the World Series, he predicted that he would be the future of the franchise, and his two wins this World Series have certainly backed up that bold prediction.

8 is once again the magic number.  Except this time, I’m talking about how many rings Boston sports teams have won since the new millennium.  Think about how many more we could have too.  We could have 2 more Super Bowl rings, 1 more NBA championship, and 1 more Stanley Cup if a few things went our way.  Oh well… we’re back on top of the sports world, where we belong.  Enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

As tonight's epic Game 6 approaches, I give you my keys to the game.

By the end of the game tonight, Ortiz could be Hall of Fame worthy.
For the first time in 38 years a World Series will be won at Fenway Park. My father was 16 years old at the time, and I can remember the stories he would tell me when I was younger of how epic Game 6 was, and how crushing Game 7 was. If you're a die-hard fan, you know what Game 6 was. It was the shot heard round the world, aka when Carlton Fisk waved his home run fair, hitting one of the most epic walk offs in the history of the game. Talk about a tough Game 6 to live up to. But with this Sox team, I wouldn't be surprised if they came close to matching it.

This was the last Game 6 of the World Series played at Fenway Park. We're in for a treat tonight folks.
My keys to the game are pretty simple: we need to get on the board early, and we need to pitch stellar baseball (editors note: simple to type, not simple to do). If Lackey can get through 6 innings of solid pitching, I have faith that the bullpen can get through the 7th and 8th, and I have even more faith that Koji Uehara can close out the season on top. I understand why the Sox didn't hit Wacha all that well in Game 2, because they had never even faced him before. Now they've seen him, so they need to get in his head early. The more runs we score early, the quicker we can get to the bullpen, and the quicker we can deflate the Cards confidence.

The last thing I want is a Game 7. It'll be so stressful, plus the last Game 7 at Fenway was lost to the Cincinnati Reds, which was devastating. All we have to do is take this game one at bat at a time. If we do that, we end this day as World Series Champions. Go Sox, baby.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NBA Season 2013-2014

5 Big Questions Going Into the NBA Season

This NBA season is looking like it's going to be a little bit more interesting than last years season. The Heat now have to worry about D-Rose at the Bulls, as well as the much improve Pacers and Nets, and the West looks like any one of 5 teams could win the Conference. That's got to get a basketball fan excited, and here at The Lounge we're going to answer the biggest questions going into the season.

Question #1: Who is your most improved player this season and your biggest flop player this season?

For me, this seasons most improved player is going to be Anthony Davis. As long as he stays healthy this year I believe that he is going to improve on his offense, and even improve more on his defense, making him a highly valued big man in the league. We all expected this guy to be a dominant player right off the bat, but you've got to remember that he was only 19 last year. Some guys aren't mature enough to play a high level of NBA ball until they're 21 plus. Still I expect a lot out of Davis, especially because his team is looking much better than last year.

As for my flop, I'm going to go with Rudy Gay. I think that he's never going to be a face of the franchise type of guy, and that's exactly what they're trying to make him up in Toronto. Personally I think the pressure is going to get to him and he is going to fall short of his expectations. He may even go back on the trading block come the trade deadline, but that's up for debate.

Question #2: What team will be a surprise contender and what team will be a surprise bust this season?

My surprise contender this year is coming out of the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons. They are a team that has a whole lot of big men, which I think is a formula for success against hybrid type teams like the Miami Heat. Now can they get past the Heat? Hell no. But I still think they may be one of the final four teams coming out of the East, which is a lot more than most people are expecting from them.

My bust team this year is the Clippers. Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Oh he's just pissed that Doc left because he's a Celtics fan". Now while I am pissed at the situation surrounding Doc leaving, I actually have some reasoning behind this. Out in the West, the style of play is so much different from the East that I think Doc is going to struggle with constantly playing against these high powered, quick offenses. When he was the Celtics coach, the Celts struggled against teams out West, and the Clippers team he's inheriting is not nearly as good at defense as some of those elite Celtics teams he coached. That being said, I still think they'll be in the playoffs, but I'm predicting a first round upset exit.

Signing Josh Smith could help the Pistons become a threat in the East

Question #3: Who's your pick for Rookie of the Year, and what rookie do you think is going to have growing pains this season?

My pick for the Rookie of the Year this year is Cody Zeller. I know he's on a a bad Charlotte Bobcats team, but at this point he's looked like the best rookie coming out of the preseason. In some ways it's almost better to be on a bad team when you're trying to win RoY, because generally rookie minutes are inflated on bad teams. This is definitely going to be the case with Zeller in Charlotte, and RoY voters generally love good looking stat sheets when picking the award winner.

One rookie that I can see having a tough first year campaign is Ben McLemore. He's on a poorly run Sacramento Kings team, but more importantly he'll be splitting time with Marcus Thornton as SG for most, if not the entire year. McLemore has also looked shaky so far during his time with the Kings which could mean that he needs a few years to develop. All in all this is a kid that is trigger happy all the time, which doesn't usually translate into immediate success in the NBA. That stuff might've worked on collegiate defenders, but defenders in the Association will not be nearly as easy to fool.

Question #4: Who is your pick for Defensive Player of the Year and who do you think takes home MVP this season?

The Defensive Player of the Year is going to Avery Bradley. Now that he has the potential to be healthy for a full year I really think that Bradley has a chance to show the NBA just how impressive he is on the defensive side of the ball. He's superb. It may be the fact that I watch him a lot, but even still this kids perimeter defense skills are like no ones I've ever seen. Another thing that will contribute to him winning this award is the fact that KG and Pierce are in Brooklyn now. He's got much more of a spotlight on him, and he played great in postseason play, so all that adds up to a DPoY award in my book.

MVP for me this year is going to be Kevin Durant. I know everyone's favorite is LeBron for obvious reasons, but I think Durant is going to step up his game due to the absence of Russell Westbrook. He's always lost to LeBron because he produces just a little bit less on the stat sheets and now that Westbrook is out KD is going to have to come through with big time numbers in order for OKC to be successful. I think he's up to the challenge, and at this point voters are looking for any excuse not to give it to LeBron, so as long as OKC does well and Durant ups his production just a little bit, then the award is all his.

Question #5 Who wins the East, who wins the West, and who wins it all this year?

I've got the Bulls coming out of the Eastern Conference because after watching Derrick Rose's ESPN interview, you can just tell this guy is as healthy as ever and hungry for a championship. Plus this team's defense is immense, and with Rose back in the lineup the offense is going to be leagues better than it was a year ago. Joakim Noah is an important part of this team as well, so as long as he stays healthy, which I'm predicting he will, then the Heat are in serious trouble. I think the Eastern Conference championship is going to go down to the wire between the Heat and the Bulls, but inevitably defense prevails, and the Bulls have a slightly better D.

Out of the West I've got the Memphis Grizzlies. I know, I'm crazy, but I feel like this is the yea where it all comes together for these guys. They've got an intense defense, and now that they've seen what being deep in the playoffs is like they have the experience that they need to get to the promise land. The one thing about the Griz that makes people shy away from them is the fact that they don't have a star player, but this year I think that the west is going to be won by the team with the most chemistry, youth, and talent across the board, and right now for me that's the Grizzlies. 

My NBA Champions are the Chicago Bulls. While I did say that the West will be won by a team oriented organization, I don't believe that the NBA Championship is going to swing that way. In order to win a title in the Association you need to have a guy that can take over a game, and that guy this year is going to be Derrick Rose. He's pumped up to be back. He's sick of not playing for over a year. He's going to be an NBA Champion, and a Finals MVP come the summer of 2014.

A Closer Look at the Iraq War

Media Education Foundation's "Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of the American Empire" takes a look at the policies behind the Iraq War

Looking back at the Iraq War, still many Americans don't know the whole story behind one of the most controversial military campaigns in U.S. history. Bush's administration was one that was not wholly honest with the American people, and today I came upon this great documentary that helps to sum up the problems associated with the occupation.

Debates will rage for years to come on whether or not the war we waged against the Ba'ath regime was just, but this movie paints a picture that truly deems the war as a war based mostly on fear. Fear of another attack. Fear of the cultures that are imbedded in the Middle East. But mostly fear of our American Empire getting weaker.

It's sad because a terrorists main objective is to instill fear into the hearts of it's victims, and the Bush administration played right into that strategy without even fully realizing it. By connecting the September 11th attacks with Saddam Hussein's regime, the President and his cabinet used a tactful propaganda campaign that convinced the American people that there was no doubt that Osama and Saddam were in on the 9/11 attacks together.

Looking back, we realize that was not the case. But this movie does a great job of showing you just how corrupt this war was. I urge you to watch it, and hopefully it can inform you of things not covered in mainstream media.

Below is the link to the video. Enjoy.

Celtics Preview: A Conversation Between Brothers

Lets talk Celtics, baby.

A new season of basketball is almost here, with the Celtics kicking it off against the Raptors on Wednesday, so here at The Beantown Lounge we're all sorts of pumped up. Even though this season is loaded with big questions, hopefully we can make the best of it here in Boston while staying positive up until game 82.

So since my brother Q and I are the biggest Celts fans here at the Lounge (Kenny's a big fan too, but Q and I bleed green), we thought that it'd be well worth it to have a back-and-forth conversation on important topics going into this year. I'm going to take the honors starting the conversation off,


My initial thoughts when looking at this Celtics team is that we're bad, but we're not nearly as bad as people think we're going to be. Kris Humphries is only one bad season removed from playing pretty solid basketball, and Gerald Wallace was once a solid contributor in the league, so I don't think it's totally far-fetched to think that we could be somewhat functional. Your thoughts Q?


Personally, I believe we're probably going to be terrible. (Thinking). Wait I know we're going to be terrible. The Celtics are easily one of the top 5 worst teams in the NBA this season. Defense shouldn't be too much of a problem because there's a good amount of  speed on the perimeter with Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Courtney Lee. But offensively, I mean my God. This team is going to be horrendous. Boston has been below league average offensively for the past few years and that was with three Hall of Famers (yes, Pierce is going to the hall) and a top five point guard. Now we don't have any of those guys. Transition years suck. We better get Wiggins.


It's funny that you mention Wiggins because I'm torn between whether we should tank for him or not. He's been called the best player coming into the draft since LeBron (which is intense), but at the same time it's not too smart to tank for a whole season on purpose just to have a 20% chance at getting the number one pick. What do you think we should do as an organization?


First, we have to trade Rondo. Once he comes back and shows he can still play at a high level, ship him out of town. I mean we have to right? If the Celtics are truly committed to a rebuild they have to blow the whole thing up. And who knows, maybe we can throw in Gerald Wallace and be rid of his absurd contract.


I think that trading Rondo right after he shows he can still play is a little harsh. He's been waiting to become the leader of this team for years now, so I say give him at least this season to show us what he's got. If he has any problems with Brad Stevens and/or his teammates like he has in the past, keep those problems internal and then ship him out. In that case, we would need to make sure that we get as much value as we can for him. At times he's been over valued in certain NBA circles, so you could potentially hall in a bunch of assets.

Anyways, all I'm saying is that we need to let this totally new style of Celtics basketball jell for a little while. Don't expect this operation to be working smoothly right off the bat, because the most important people on the squad (coach Stevens, Green and Rondo) are in totally new situations. Green is going to have to become an integral part of the offense now that Pierce is gone, and Rondo is going to have to lead this team. That's a pretty scary thought to say the least, but we owe him a chance for Christs sake.

Brad Stevens is another story that I'm trying to be optimistic about, but everything about this new guy reminds me of Pitino, and we all know how that went. That being said, I want him to be successful more than anything, even more than Rondo. If he can establish himself as a solid coach we could keep him around for a long time since hes so young. Do you think he's a guy that could be a success here in Boston?


Not sure if I can make an informed Stevens decision. The few times I've watched him coach were NCAA title games. I will say this though: As a player, there's a steep learning curve when transitioning from college to the pros. I'm sure the learning curve for a coach transitioning from college to the pros is just as steep, if not steeper. But Stevens as our coach isn't the scariest thought, it's Jeff "I can't string two good games together" Green becoming our most reliable offensive option. Read that sentence again. Jeff Green is our best shot creator. A guy who can't go left and has a knack for drifting in and out of games is now our crunch time guy. It's the equivalent of signing Ashton Kutcher to be your lead actor in an expensive movie. It's going to flop. As far as Rondo goes, I don't care if he's been waiting in line for several years to become the leader of this team. Basketball is a business. Rondo knows this. Danny Ainge knows this. If the best business move is dumping Rondo for a stockpile of assets, then that's what has to be done.


I see where you're coming from, and I realize that Ainge is a gunslinger when it comes to mega deals (Pierce and KG to Brooklyn), so quite honestly I wouldn't be surprised if down the road we deal Rondo. That being said, I'm praying that if Ainge does pull the trigger, he does it in a smart way. Other than the KG and Ray Allen deals in the summer of '07 Ainge has had a horrible track record when it comes to trades (we'll see how this KG and Pierce deal goes down as the years go by, but that's neither a good trade or a bad trade yet). At the end of the day I'm just scared that he will pull another stupid trade at the deadline just because he gets trigger happy.

Anyways two guys that haven't been mentioned that I wanted to bring up are Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger. I think that down the road these guys could be our 4 and 5 guys for a long time. Now I know that's a lot to ask for, but still I loved Sullinger last year when he played, and I feel like the two have different styles of big-man play that could work well together. A Penny (Hardaway) for your thoughts, Q?


Yeah, Danny has pretty much made one good trade in his tenure as Boston's GM. Granted it won us the title in 2008, but like you said, that's not a good track record. I agree with you in thinking that Olynyk and Sullinger can definitely contribute towards rebuilding this organization. However, there will be some growing pains. Olynyk needs to improve his defense and rebounding, while Sullinger has to cut down on his fouls.

One pleasant surprise from summer league and the pre-season has been the play of Phil Pressey who looks like he might be able to run the offense during Rondo's absence. If this kid turns into a decent player not only could he be a cheap back up point guard, but also a somewhat valuable trade asset. Anyways, two final questions. 1.) How many games do the Celtics win this season? 2.) How many more games is Rajon Rondo going to play in a Celtics jersey?


I'm going to stick with what I said before in that the Celtics will win more than most are expecting. I think that after the final game of the season we'll be 28-54, sitting ahead of the 76ers, the Bobcats, the Bucks and the Magic as the fifth worst team in the east (and the 8th worst team in the NBA ahead of Phoenix, Sacramento, and Utah in the West). That will mean that we'll have a legitimate shot at getting a top 5 pick which is what we want, but odds are we won't end up with the number one overall pick, barring a miracle.

To answer the Rondo question, I strongly believe that his situation here in Boston will come down to what we get for a pick in the 2014 draft. If we get a top 5 pick, we'll keep Rondo around because he will be a key component in the package that Danny will be using to persuade a big name free agent to come to Boston next summer (remember we have a lot of money coming off the books after this season). There's a lot of big name free agents in 2014, and we might be able to snag one of them if Rondo can prove he's matured. That being said, if we get shafted at the draft and/or if Rondo hasn't matured into an effective leader, then don't be surprised if we trade him during the 2014 summer. It all depends on draft day baby.

Alright Q, as always it's been good talking Celtics with you. It's always a passionate debate between me and you, and who knows, maybe next time we can get Kenny in on the conversation (*Spoiler Alert*: Next time I try to convince Kenny to get in on the conversation). 

One Win Away

The Year of the Beard and the Phenomenon That is the 2013 Boston Red Sox

As I start writing this blog post on how we are one game away from being World Series Champions I'm reminded of what a huge difference a year makes. At this point last year I was wondering whether or not Lester would ever be a good pitcher again. A good pitcher. Not a great pitcher. Not an elite pitcher. Just a good pitcher. I had even more pessimistic thoughts when it came to Lackey, and even Ortiz. Since Lackey was one year older I thought he'd be one year worse. I had the exact same thoughts about Big Papi, but because of my intense loyalty to Ortiz, I eventually convinced myself he'd be alright (the one thing I was right about this offseason).

Then later on in the year when we signed Victorino and Napoli, admittedly I was a skeptic. Victorino was coming off a bad year, and Napoli , in my opinion, was overvalued. I knew very little about Koji Uehara, but the fact that he was in his late thirties made me uneasy. I had much more confidence in newly signed Hanrahan and the recently rehabilitated Bailey in the bullpen, and I thought Uehara would be a third or fourth option. After a year of contemplating my mindset back during the beginning of spring training, I've come to the obvious conclusion that I was completely and utterly wrong.

It's something that happens in the world of sports. People get negative when things aren't going well. Especially fans from Boston. We're all die-hard fans in Beantown, and the Sox are a team that has very high expectations year in and year out. But the beautiful thing about sports, especially team sports like baseball, is that chemistry is a mysterious and integral part of being successful. So after all the drama and bad apples in the Sox dugout the past three years, the organization did something that didn't look good on the stats sheets: They went out and got good locker room guys. Guys that could create a positive chemistry within the locker room. They didn't go for MVP caliber players with polarizing attitudes. They didn't go for Cy Young candidates that only had one year of dominant pitching in the majors. They went with players they thought were winners, and while it was controversial at the time, with fans and with the Boston media, ever since then the Boston Red Sox have done a whole lot of winning. 107 wins to be exact. Just one win away from being champions.

To be honest, even if they lose this series in seven games they've still done something remarkable. I'd be crushed if we lost, don't get me wrong, but there's no denying the phenomenon that is the 2013 Red Sox regardless of the final result. We're talking about one of the greatest turn around's in Red Sox history, and it took just one year of smart and key accusations.

These types of things don't happen often, so to everyone out there who doubted this team like me, I have one piece of advice for you: Admit you were wrong, beg for the baseball god's forgiveness, and enjoy Game 6 on Wednesday night. Lets go Sox.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Winners Sunday

The Pats dominate in the 2nd half, and the Sox win big in St. Louis. God I love Sundays.

Logan Ryan had another big game this Sunday against the Fins.
I'll start off with the game that came first yesterday, where the Patriots started off weak and ended strong. It was no picnic watching the first half of this game (and I'm trying to be nice about it), especially when I realized Brady had just 25 passing yards at the end of the first two quarters. That was one hell of a shocker, and admittedly I thought the game was close to over. Luckily, Belichick and his classic second half adjustments were the answer to our prayers.

The second half was what I like to call "Patriots Football". This was a half where every Patriot on the field knew what they had to do in order to get back in the game and they did it. The defense was shutting down the Dolphins offense, they were forcing turnovers, and they were attacking Tannehill relentlessly.The offense was quick and efficient when they needed to be, scoring in key situations and not making many mistakes. That TD pass that Gronk caught that was overruled for a "holding" call was bull. Beautiful touchdown catch Gronk, that one counts in my book. Brady's fourth down run for the first was huge too. I love it when Brady gets it done with his feet, and honestly I wish he got pumped up after that like he usually does but alas he kept his composure. Also the special teams was looking great in the second half too, blocking a kick that was just pretty to watch. Great game boys, lets bring the same heat for both halves against the Steelers next week.

Gomes came through in the clutch yet again.

Now admittedly I didn't watch this game, as I was at a Phish concert in Hartford (which was awesome, but that story is for another day), but still I was getting updates and I've watched the highlights so I feel like I can talk about this epic game 4 win.

First off, you've got to love Papi's passion (and his base running skills), and you've got to tip your cap to Jonny Gomes. Gomes just keeps proving that he's a winner through and through. He knew it was a huge at bat, and he delivered with an epic 3 run blast in the 6th inning. Mike Matheny made a huge mistake taking out Lynn in the 6th right before Gomes' at bat, but it was a decision that made sense logically at the time. That's the beauty of playoff baseball: Decisions that look like good ones can end up being horrible ones and vice versa. It's a chess match night in and night out, and thank goodness we evened the series up 2-2. Tomorrow night is a huge game that we need to capitalize on. I have faith.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Great Start

Sox take advantage of Cardinals errors, win Game 1 8-1

Talk about a great way to kick off the World Series. Right from the start, the Sox were ready to pounce on a Cardinals team that looked very rusty to say the least. The Cards committed some costly errors early that they never recovered from, with the game ending 8-1 in the Red Sox favor.

Last nights game ball is a no brainer: Jon Lester. He was dominant through 7 and 2/3s innings giving up no runs and striking out 8 batters. Talk about bringing the heat when it matters most. Way to be Lester. The runner up for the game ball, who definitely needs to be mentioned, is Big Papi. He was a couple inches away from hitting his second grand slam of the postseason, and he also had another 2 run shot later in the game. If that ball doesn't get caught by Beltran, Big Papi wins the game ball and probably earns a spot in Cooperstown. That being said, if he can keep the powerful hitting up in this World Sereis and we take this one home to Boston, he's going to the Hall.

After last nights game, obviously I'm pumped that we got the crucial game 1 win, but at the same time I'm not letting this blowout get the best of me. Clearly the Cards are still an extremely good baseball team that wants to win at all costs. This is a playoff tested team that knows how to shake off bad games when it matters, so don't start celebrating yet because that would be foolish. 

Tonight we need Lackey to pitch like he did against the Tigers, and we also need the bats to show up again too. I doubt the Cards are going to make the defensive errors that they did in game 1, and if you take away those errors, we would have barely won that game. All in all, lets stay positive, and keep our eye on the prize. Lets not let game 1 get to our ego. Go Sox.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NFL Upset Pick of the Week: Browns top Chiefs

Underperforming Weeden is getting benched this week.  Jason Campbell gets the nod.
The Chiefs are the only undefeated team heading into week 8, but I have a feeling it's not going to last. While the Chiefs are loaded with talent on both offense and defense, the Browns are going to catch them off-guard in Kansas City.  The Chiefs are favored by 9, so I am definitely taking the Browns +9.  Overall, I'll admit that the Chiefs are the better team, but I just have a gut feeling that the Browns take them down.  At the very least, I see this as a close game, which is why I am going to take the spread.  9 points is a lot of points to give a team that has already proven that they can beat good teams.  The Browns beat the (5-2) Bengals 17 to 6 in week 4.  Anyway, if you like to bet on football, I would say Brownies +9 is the move this week.

-Go Sox!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Thoughts On the Pats Game vs. the Jets

It was an interesting Sunday for the Patriots, but what does it all mean?

G-E-N-O and the J-E-T-S won on Sunday. And it stung.
Yeah, it was a frustrating game to watch, but at the end of the day should we be worried about this Patriots team? Well, yes and no, and before you get upset at my cliche answer, let me explain myself.

Alright, here's why we shouldn't be upset about this loss:

First of all, think of all the players we were missing. Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aquib Talib, and Tommy Kelly on defense, and Danny Amendola, and Shane Vereen on offense. That's a whole lot of talent that was on the sidelines Sunday, and the fact that the J-E-T-S Jets could barely squeak away with a 3 point OT victory clearly shows that we are the better team when healthy. Also, it was Gronk's first game back after a series of serious surgeries (say that five times fast), so naturally he was going to have some problems, the biggest problem being a few key passes from Brady dropped. Other than that though, you've got to tip your cap to Gronk's overall performance. He was miles ahead of what I thought he was going to be able to produce, catching 8 passes for 114 yards.

Gronk looked great most of the game, but key errors from #87 cost the Patriots dearly.

Now that we've got the cheerful stuff taken care of, we can get to the reasons why we should be a little bit worried in New England:

As I said earlier in the post, we were missing a good amount of key contributors on defense. The problem with that situation is that we aren't getting Jerod Mayo or Vince Wilfork back for the remainder of the season. Talk about a serious hit to your front seven, and it's even more of a bummer considering their are leaders of the front seven, and our defense had been playing pretty damn well this year. Now we're going to have to rely on inexperienced rookies to take over the jobs of Mayo and Wilfork, which is not something that's worked in the past. On the other side of the ball, Amendola seems to be living up to his "injury prone" hype that he came into New England with at the beginning of the season. Hopefully this guy can pull it together and make an impact later on during the season, but as of right now he's been a bust, which is not what we need from a wide receiver at this point. If the young wide outs can't make a significant impact as soon as possible, then we might be in for a grind-it-out year in the AFC.

Final verdict: Are we going to be alright?

There's no denying the reasons why we should be worried, but at the end of the day the Patriots will be alright, and there's no reason why we shouldn't win this division. Let the Jets have their regular season win over us, who cares? For the Jets, this is their Super Bowl this year, so I say live it up New York. Enjoy it while it lasts. As for us in New England, we have bigger fish to fry this season, and there is no denying that the Pats have serious deep playoff potential, even with big pieces of the puzzle out of the picture. We have depth on defense, and Talib and Amendola should be back soon which will make an impact. The main thing is getting Thompkins and Dobson up to speed with Brady, and the edition of Gronk to the offense could be the key to unlocking that door. Let's pray it is.

 Chris Jones got penalized on the first field goal try by the Jets in OT.

I purposely didn't want to get into the field goal penalty called by the refs because it doesn't solve anything, but I feel like I should address the issue: 

It's in the past and the Pats can't do anything about it now. What the Pats can do is focus on their next opponent, get back on the winning side of things, and get their young guys the invaluable experience they need to succeed. Refs, like players, are prone to make mistakes. It's part of every sport, and bickering about whether or not it was a botched called is pointless. That type of B.S. doesn't do anyone any good.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Shooting In Nevada Middle School

It keeps getting tougher and tougher when I see these types of stories on the news. It's tougher nowadays because it hit home here in Boston when the Marathon bombings took place, but it's also tougher because young people keep getting affected which is just horrifying.

Apparently today a shooter at a Middle School opened fired, shooting four or five times, killing a teacher and injury two students. Reports are saying that he/she was a student of the school who took the gun from his/her parents the morning of the shooting. It's appalling to say the least that this kid could steal a gun and bring it to school, loaded and all, and murder people. Even if the parents didn't see the signs that their child was capable of such a heinous act, they still should have had this gun locked away where their kid couldn't access it. I understand that everyone has their own individual rights, and it would be absurd to try and regulate gun control  that intensely, but as a responsible parent you need to keep your child, safe.

Regardless of the specifics, it's just a damn shame that we see violence like this yet again. At the end of the day, young people who don't have a say in these laws are being exposed to life altering violence. If we as Americans don't do something to help stop gun violence we don't deserve to be called the greatest country in the world. The greatest country in the world would realize that changes need to be made. The greatest country in the world would understand this problem isn't a partisan debate. Most importantly though, the greatest country in the world would have a National Rifle Association that would have the humanity to put aside gun sales profits in order to compromise with the other side. Until we as a country can rally and try to make changes to our gun laws, then stories like these will continue to happen. There's absolutely no doubt about it. If you don't change the systemic problems that cause tragedies like these, then why in God's name would things just suddenly change for the better?

***Most importantly, God bless all the friends and families affected by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers at the Beantown Lounge are with you guys during this tough time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

American League Champs!

Victorino didn't have the best series, but his slam in game 6 easily makes up for it
Uehara is our ALCS MVP: 6 IP, 0 Runs allowed, 3 saves, 1 win, 9 K's
And then there were two: Red Sox vs. Cardinals, for all the marbles.  Sounds a bit familiar... ready for another sweep St. Louis?

Friday, October 18, 2013

One More Win!

Who's ready for tomorrow? Clay is. #WinToday
In Clay we trust
How about Napoli last night?  3-4, HR, 2 Runs.  David Ross was also on his game filling in for Salty.  I also love how after the 7th inning you can almost guarantee that the Tigers are done scoring for the night, because Breslow and Uehara have been lights out in the 8th and 9th.

Last night's win was huge for the Sox.  We've really been squeaking out wins in this series.  Each one of our 3 wins have been by 1 run, but at the end of the day, all that matters is getting the W.  It's been a great series to watch.  Both teams have great pitching and hitting.  It's not going to be easy going up against Scherzer tomorrow but I like our chances.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Under the Radar U2

Their known for their international hits, but the rock Gods of Ireland have a bunch of hidden gems

A toast to some of U2's most underrated songs
In honor of U2 wrapping up their next studio album in November, I've decided to put together a post of my top 5 most underrated U2 songs. I've been a huge U2 fan my whole life (thanks to my Dad playing them nonstop for my entire childhood), so naturally I'm thrilled that the boys are coming out with their first album since 2009. Admittedly, I wasn't a big fan of their 2009 release No Line on the Horizon, but Adam Clayton (bassist) was reported saying that this new album is a return to U2's older sounds, which gets me stoked. Their also rumored to have Danger Mouse producing it, which is interesting to say the least, and Chris Martin of Coldplay was seen going into the studio with U2 earlier this year. That collaboration could be awesome, but it also could just be Martin stopping by the studio to say hello. We'll have to wait and see.

#5: "Bass Trap" - Unforgettable Fire: B-Sides

This is one of U2's most unique songs, that can only be described as sonic bliss. Like so many U2 songs, it reminds me of being in a certain part of America; in this case the rolling hills of the midwestern United States. "Bass Trap" is widely unknown to non U2 fanatics, especially the extended version off of the Unforgettable Fire B Sides (which can be found on Spotify). I remember listening to the Best of 1980-1990 version when I was a kid, but the longer version is better to me for reasons I can't really explain (probably just because its longer). I love Edge's guitar playing in this song; it's so unique and beautiful, and whenever I'm having a rough day this song puts me at peace with the world. I also love the fact that it's one of U2's rare songs without any lyrics.

#4: "Love is Blindness" - Achtung Baby

"Love is Blindness" is the complete opposite of "Bass Trap", and that's not a bad thing at all. This is as dark as it gets for U2 (minus "Bullet the Blue Sky"...that song is maliciously awesome), and you can tell right off the bat with the Dracula esque organ that begins the song. The tune is about a failing marriage, and the inspiration was from The Edge's failing marriage during the recording of Achtung Baby. There's a sort of beautiful sadness to this song that's undeniable, and The Edges solo at the end is haunting. When Bono was asked about the solo, he said: "I was pushing him (The Edge) and pushing him and pushing him, and he played until the strings fell off. Actually, you'll hear strings snapping during the solo towards the end. He was, I think, in tears on the inside, and the outside was just raging". Powerful stuff.

This acoustic version above, with just Edge playing, comes from the U2 documentary called From The Sky Down. If you're a fan of music and are interested in the artistic creation process that goes into making music, then you'll love this movie. I like this version a lot because I've always thought of this as Edge's song and the fact that he sings it is appropriate. Plus I love The Edges voice.

#3: "Running to Stand Still" - The Joshua Tree

"Running to Stand Still" is one of the best songs off of The Joshua Tree, yet it goes unnoticed because of all the other mega hits that came off the album. It also goes unnoticed because it's almost hidden in between tracks on the album, but don't let that fool you; "Running to Stand Still" is poetic genius. It's a harrowing tale about a women living in the slums of Dublin who is addicted to heroin, and the way Bono sings about her is as if he knew her personally (he probably did know someone like this woman). The title alone is a perfect way of describing what heroin addiction, and addiction in general, is like.

The song starts off slowly and then gradually gets more and more intense, with Larry Mullen Jr. building up the tension by pounding harder on the drums every single measure until Bono's harmonica comes in at the end. As well written as the song is, every time I listen to "Running to Stand Still" it makes me think of all the friends I've had over the years that have succumbed to the temptations of heroin. Admittedly, nine times out of ten I tear up when I listen to this gem. That, my friends, is the power of music.

As good as the studio version is, the live version from the "Zoo TV: Live From Sydney" DVD is by far the best version of the song. Bono's theatrics add an unbelievable amount of power to the song; you can tell he's singing from the heart. Also The Edge's guitar is more prominent in this version, and I like that a lot, but what really gets me is the what Bono does 2 minutes and 55 seconds into the clip. He makes the motion of a needle going into his arm and at that moment the entire band goes silent. I remember the first time I watched this I had chills because of how moved I was. After that moment Bono starts singing "hallelujah", which I like to think is the heroin addict having a religious realization that they need help (that's the optimist in me I guess), and then he ends the tune with the harmonica just like in the studio version. Talk about one hell of a live performance.

#2: "October" - October

It's a quick song, just two minutes in length, but that's all it needs. "October" is from the early days of U2 when they were still in their post punk stage. I'm not a huge fan of this stage, but they undeniably came out with some hits during this era, including this track. The reason I love "October" is because I think of it as a sneak peak of what's to come from the band. It's not post punk at all, and it's got a really unique style to it which the band became known for later in their career.

This live version of the song from 1984 is one of the best live renditions of the song out there. The Edge shows off his piano skills, and Bono, very briefly shows off his pipes. It's great to see the boys in their younger days before they were rock Gods. At the end of the clip you can here them transition into "New Years Day", which makes sense because The Edge plays piano in the beginning of that track. I really wish the clip was extended so that I could here the whole transition, but alas, Youtube can't be perfect.

*Side note* This is the quintessential song for the MLB playoffs. The lines "October, when kingdoms fall, and kingdoms rise" is the perfect metaphor for a new World Series champion winning, while the previous years champions lose the crown. The fact that the MLB hasn't used this song in a commercial to promote the playoffs is astonishing.

#1: "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)" - Best of U2 1980-1990: B Sides

The fact that this song never became a huge hit baffles me to this day. It's got everything a hit needs: a catchy melody, a beautiful bridge, and a subject matter that has to do with loving a girl. Nevertheless, "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)" never became big, and quite honestly it makes me like the song even more. I love songs that aren't overplayed on the radio, or over hyped in the media, so the fact that this tune has stayed largely unnoticed since it's creation is a blessing in disguise. This is up there with my all time favorite U2 songs, and for that matter, its up there with some of my favorite songs by any artist. It's just a beautiful track, with beautiful harmonies from The Edge and Bono, and the call and response "hallelujahs" are money in the bank. I'm assuming the song is about Bono's wife Allie ("Sweetest Thing" is about Allie, and a bunch of other U2 songs, not surprisingly), which is why I think it's so genuine. Bono and Allie definitely have a strong love for each other, as they're still married today, and that definitely is one of the reasons why so many of U2's love songs are so powerful and mean so much to people all around the world.

* Side note* Watch the beginning of this Youtube video. Bono crossing the train tracks just seconds before the train comes is chilling as all hell.

Rough Night For the Sox

Red Sox bats still cold as they go down to the Tigers 7-3

Jacoby has been hitting decently, but the rest of the Sox have been as cold as ice
It was a rough game to watch last night. After all the good vibes from game 2 and game 3, it didn't take long for the terrible vibes to come crashing down on Boston.

Peavy struggled from the beginning, and quite frankly it was awful to watch. He could barely get the ball over the plate, and eventually was pulled in the 4th inning without even getting an out, going 3 innings pitched giving up 7 earned runs. That's exactly what can't happen against the Tigers. They can hit, and they can hit well, so it's extremely important for the Sox starters to stay strong, much like Lackey in game 3.

Another huge problem is the hitting. We're still cold as ice and it's a major cause for concern. Hopefully we can find our groove like the Sox have been able to do all season long, but with the dominant pitching that the Tigers have been bringing to the table its going to be difficult to say the least.

One bright spot is the bullpen. They've still been pitching really well, but last night it didn't really matter at that point, considering we were down 7-0 when Workman came in to relieve Peavy. Tonight we'll have Lester back on the hill, and he pitched really well game one. Unfortunately Anibal Sanchez is back on the hill as well, and he pitched even better in game 1, not giving up a single hit to the Sox hitters. We need to get a hit early so we can get momentum. If not, we may be going back to Boston down 3-2.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pierce Plays the Celts

Seeing Pierce in a different jersey was one of the weirdest sights I've seen as a Celts fan
Pierce wasn't back in Boston, but he was on the court with the Celtics last night in a Nets win 82-80. I wasn't expecting to see all that much of Pierce, KG, or Terry (Terry and KG didn't play), but Pierce ended up playing 27 minutes in which he scored 4 points, had 10 rebounds, and dished 5 assists.

As weird as it was seeing Pierce in another teams uniform, you've got to be happy for the guy. The Celtics team that we had surrounding him wouldn't have gotten him back on top of the NBA, and at least this Nets team him and KG are on now has a decent chance. Having said that, I still don't think they're going to get passed the Heat (or the Bulls with a healthy Rose for that matter), but it'll still be interesting to see what Brooklyn can do.

Anyways, Pierce clearly was excited last night to see his old teammates and old friends from the organization. Apparently it was reported that he was hanging out in the Celtics locker room a solid hour and a half before game time, just shooting the shit with his old buddies. He also said that he is going to stay in touch with Jeff Green in order to give him tips on how to manage being an instrumental part of the Celtics now that him and KG are gone (to read more on how Pierce is balancing his past and present, click here).

Seeing Pierce, and hearing the stories of how pumped he was to be back in contact with the Celts, one can't help but get excited for when he returns to the Garden. That place is going to be going crazy for him and KG (not so much JET), and with those two characters you know emotions are going to be flying. And who knows, maybe one fay Pierce or KG will come back to the Celts organization as an assistant coach or something. God knows those two guys are great leaders and teachers, which can easily translate into coaching ability. Even though that's years down the road, it's still nice to think that one day KG and Pierce could be wearing Celtics green once again.

Pitching Duel in Motown

Sox escape another close game, up 2-1 in the series

Napoli's blast in the 7th was all that was needed to take game 3
Talk about a great game from John Lackey. Just two nights after Buchholz's rough outing, the postseason veteran Lackey delivered a huge outing last night going 6 and 2/3s innings giving up 0 runs. Even though the Sox didn't give him much run support (per usual), it was enough to get the win, which, at this stage of the season, is all that matters.

All in all getting through the first 3 games of the series with 2 wins, in which Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were the starting pitchers, you've got to be satisfied with the results. A 2-1 series lead sets up a great situation for the Sox. Now, logistically, they need to take 1 of the next 2 games in Detroit in order to go back to Fenway with a 3-2 series lead. Obviously I'd love to see us win in 5 games, but I don't think we're going to win all 3 games in Detroit. It's just too tall of an order for any team to do. That being said I think that we can definitely win at least one more game in Detroit, and then once were back at Fenway, with all the fan support, I don't see us losing the series. Basically, the next 2 games are extremely crucial in this series. We have the upper hand and we cannot let them gain momentum.

But if the Red Sox bats don't pick up ASAP, we're going to be in trouble. We were the  beneficiaries of a miracle in game 2 (thank you Big Papi), and game 3 was all pitching. Now that we are getting deeper and deeper into the ALCS, it's going to become much more of a hitters series, and God knows the Tigers have hitters. To think that we can subdue them every single game isn't smart, so hopefully our usually efficient offense can get back in the groove.

Can't wait for tomorrow night guys. Let's go Sox!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ray Anderson on Inter-generational Tyranny

A quick look at how the corporate and industrial world we've created is unjust to future humans

Since most political posts these past few weeks have been about the government shutdown, I thought I'd switch it up today with a post on the crisis of corporations and their treatment of the biosphere. In this Youtube video, which comes from a documentary called The Corporation, Ray Anderson uses a powerful metaphor to describe the systemic problems within our global society that has been created around us. He compares our system to an early attempt at aviation: the pilot (which is a metaphor for us as citizens) believes that he is flying (a metaphor for our belief that our system works), when in reality the plane is plummeting (a metaphor for corporations disregarding the well being of the earth).

I'm not one to get caught up in this type of stuff all that often, but the elegant way in which Anderson explains these systemic problems is undeniably eye-opening. We as a whole need to accept this reality, because the generations that come after us that don't have a chance to make changes like we do, their going to be the victims of our greed. If we don't respect our grandchildren's children, then we as human beings are guilty of inter-generational tyranny and taxation without representation. Our forefathers would not be proud.

Nothing Like a Solid Quote

As the four day week begins, here are some quotes to pump you up for the work week

Nothing like a solid quote. Enjoy my top 5 for this four day Columbus Day week, and remember, its just a four day week. We'll get through this.

Captain Phillips

These guys vs. the United States Marines and Navy Seals.  I wonder who wins

Captain Phillips is a great action movie.  It doesn't waste any time getting into the action, and Tom Hanks delivers like he always does.

4 main things I took away from this movie:
1.  Why wouldn't cargo ships be armed with more than just hoses?  If you keep a couple of guns on board, a group of four Somalian pirates can't just hop on board easily and take over a massive ship just because they have guns.
2.  The Navy Seals are so badass.
3.  Tom Hanks should definitely be nominated for Best Actor.
4.  Somalia needs to figure it out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Talk About Gravitational Pull

Gravity kills it this week at the box office

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Talk about a solid cast.
I gotta say I'm pumped to see "Gravity". This new movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney looks like a intense flick that uses 3D very effectively. I've never been a huge fan of 3D, but this is one of the first movies that actually got me interested in checking it out in 3D specifically. Alfonso Cuaron, the director of "Gravity", has done some awesome movies in the past including "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and one of my favorites, "Children of Men". This gets me even more excited because Cuaron seem like the perfect guy to be doing a movie with the plot that "Gravity" has. Below is the official trailer.

Another enticing part about this movie is the actors who are starring in it. Bullock and Clooney both have Academy Awards (Bullock got best actress in The Blind Side, and Clooney won best supporting actor in Syriana) and both are at a point in their career where their polished enough to be able to pull off these roles.

Don't be surprised if this movie gets a whole lot of award nominations once award season begins. It's too early to tell if this is going to win a bunch, but it looks like the type of movie that the Academy eats up. Plus it's been a while since Hollywood has had a well executed space drama. This could be the year for this space thriller, but the 2013 November and December movie releases are looking really good. Watch out for Scorcese's The Wolf of Wall Street and Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave as well as David O. Russell's American Hustle and Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station.

No matter what happens this upcoming Oscar season, I still can't wait for some great movies to start coming out. For a full list of movies that are looking like Oscar contenders, check out IMDb's 2014 Oscar Predictions.

Two Big Questions in Beantown

Question #1: After last nights grand slam, is Ortiz worthy of going to the Hall?

It's a tough question to answer, especially after last nights heroics. Is David Ortiz Hall of Fame worthy? I want to say that yes, he absolutely is Hall of Fame worthy, but I can't say it for sure. As good as Papi's statistics have been over the past 10 plus years, you can't overlook the steroid issue. He was on a list that had supposed steroid users on it, and whether or not he actually used PEDs it still hurts his image and his chances of getting in. Also DHs haven't gotten good treatment from Hall of Fame voters. No DH who has played the majority of his career at the position has got in, and that list includes greats like Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas. So if I were a betting man, at this moment I'd put my money on Ortiz not making it to the Hall. But if we win the World Series this year, that bet might change for me.

Since I'm riding one hell of an emotional high from last night, in what was arguably one of the greatest days of Boston sports history, I think that if we win the Series this year Ortiz has a much bigger chance of getting in. As much as I love crunching numbers and looking at stats, there's no denying clutch-in-late-game play, and Ortiz is a king when it comes to clutchness. But in order for that grand slam to have the epic history that Otiz's 2004 play has we need to win the World Series. Period.

Question #2: Should we be upset that unknown sources on the team are questioning Gronk's desire to come back and play?

This one is much more straight forward than the Papi question. Clearly we should not be happy about this BS that's going on in the locker room. If unknown sources are actually calling Gronk out, then tension in the locker room needs to be addressed ASAP. Who are we, the Jets? Foxboro has never been a circus in terms of the media creating shock stories that are clear press grabs, (minus Tebow) but this has potential to get ugly. Even if people are upset, when your a Patriot you don't let the media know about internal affairs. You keep your mouth shut and you play within Belichick and Kraft's tightly run ship.

In regards to Gronk's health, let him take as much time as we wants. We're 5-1 without him, and it's not like we're barely surviving in the weak AFC East. More importantly, Gronk's long term potential is undeniably off the charts, and ast year we tempted fate by bringing him back too early and it cost him another serious injury. So at the end of the day I'd rather have Gronk be 110% when he comes back because at this point he's injury prone in my book.