Monthly Archives: January 2017

Boston Bruins Mid-Season Report Card

Slightly more than mid-season, actually.  53 games in by the time this is finished.  But the All-Star Game just happened…or whatever the All-Star nonsense was this year anyway.  So…it is what it is…

Full disclosure, the Blowhard has not watched every minute of every game.  Far from it.  No way anyone can tolerate Jack Edwards that much, can they?  But we feel like we can fire some grades out based on game action, reports, opinions and box scores, among other sources.  We may just make up some bogus grades just to see if any of the three readers of this blog vehemently disagree (Keo?).

Grades are completely arbitrary in these cases anyway, so what difference does it make?  Whatever…let’s get to it:

Jeremy Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, any other Jacobs associated with ownership: D.  For the better part of my lifetime, these jamokes really just care about putting a team on the ice that gets them a round or two of playoff gates and aren’t necessarily chasing championships.  I’m not the only one who thinks this.  And you know what?  They’ve been pretty successful at it.  This year is more of the same.  It’s really as simple as that.

Cam Neely, Don Sweeney and I suppose the rest of the front office: D-.  Maybe I should give Cam some more credit, since I believe he has wanted to fire Claude Julien for years but ownership won’t let him.  Maybe I should give Sweens more time, since many of his draft picks seem to be highly regarded.  But Cam has been around a while and the team has regressed.  And Donnie Hockey’s major league moves have been below average, at best.  So I’m not budging.

Claude Julien: D+.  Sense a theme here?  Yeah, leadership has been disappointing, to put it mildly.  Everyone knows how I feel about Claude, so I won’t re-hash that here.  He gets the “plus” though since his personnel isn’t awesome these days.  And technically, they are in the playoffs as of today…though the games in hand they own currently will obviously not be “in hand” at the end.  Let’s move on…

Brad Marchand: B+.  All-Star.  Point a game almost.  So why a B and not an A?  Cuz of those stupid things he still does.  Like the trip on Niklas Kronwall last week.  Infuriating.

David Pastrnak: B.  20 goals is nice.  So is the team high plus/minus of 14.  But he has tailed off in recent weeks.

David Krejci: C.  Too much dough for not much production and a minus 11.  Yikes!

Torey Krug: B-.  Not his fault they overpaid him.  But the minus 8?  No thanks.

Patrice Bergeron: C.  Something is not right.  Has he been hurt since the World Cup of Hockey?  Half a point a game and only a plus 3?  Too good for that.  At least he is still winning a good chunk of his faceoffs.

Ryan Spooner: C.  Claude is never going to trust him.  Spooner is never going to be a defensive whiz.  But he’s been disappointing either way.

David Backes: B-.  Seems to be what was about expected.  Again, not his fault he was overpaid.

Dominic Moore/Tim Schaller/Riley Nash: B.  Why not?  I didn’t expect anything from these dudes.

Austin Czarnik: B-.  Didn’t expect much from him either.  One of the young guys that actually stuck…for a while anyway.  Looks like with the recent stretch of healthy scratches he will end up in Providence soon.

Brandon Carlo: B.  Probably the only young guy that will stick the whole year here.  Seems to have tailed off lately, but nevertheless pretty impressive for a 20-year-old defenseman.

Zdeno Chara: C.  Thanks for your many years of service Big Z.  But…

Frank Vatrano: B-.  Kid looks like he can score at the NHL level.  We will see what happens with the rest of his game going forward though.  Let’s hope Claude continues to play him also.

Matt Beleskey: F.  Ok, maybe that is a bit harsh with time he has missed due to injury.  But looks as if he has been less than impressive thus far.

Colin Miller/Kevan Miller: C.  We’re the Millers was a pretty damn good movie.  I don’t really have anything else to say here.

John-Michael Liles: C.  If he keeps being the 7th defenseman, we can raise this up to an “A”.

Adam McQuaid: C+.  Fights on occasion.  Plus 2 is best on the D corps.  C+?  What the hell!

Jimmy Hayes/Anton Khudobin: G? Z? FF? F—–?  Useless.  The both of them.

Anton Blidh/Noel Acciari/Joe Morrow:  Incomplete, kind of.  These three have played almost 20 games apiece.  But I haven’t seen them much.  And it really doesn’t feel like they actually play.  Maybe they should get a D or something since they have been around for a while.  But I’m pretty fair.  They can thank me later.

Danton Heinen/Rob O’Gara/Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre/Matt Grzelcyk/Sean Kuraly: True incompletes here.

Last but not least…Tuukka Rask: B+.  Most know my feelings about “Tuuks” as well.  Don’t love paying goalies 7 mil a year, especially when they very rarely steal games.  That being said, Rask has played pretty well this season.  Sure, the requisite amount of softies have gone past him over the course of the year.  But he has gotten it done for the most part.  And he has needed to, with the fact that his backups have one win all year.  Guess I have to give him some credit…

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Patriots Ripe for a Fall?

Perhaps…but we will get to that later.  The NFC Championship Game featuring Dall…er, I mean Green Bay at Atlanta is first up.  One thing is for sure on both games though:  I’m not certain we can expect any defense whatsoever later today.  Just a wild hunch.  That’s what they pay me for…oh, wait…

Green Bay at Atlanta (-5.5):

Every fiber of my being is telling me that Green Bay has absolutely no chance in this one.  Why?  The following:

*Wide receivers:  Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams & Geronimo Allison are all questionable.  Randall Cobb has been banged up all year and though he is back, is he really healthy?

*Running Game:  None to speak of.  Please, don’t give me Ty Montgomery.  Also no Aaron Ripkowski.  Seriously.

*Defense:  Not much to speak of here either.  Secondary is also battling injuries and is subpar in the first place.  Atlanta is stacked on offense, even with a slightly(?) hobbled Julio Jones.  They scored 71 more points than 2nd place New Orleans during the year.  And not only do they have one running back, they have two.

*Road game:  Kind of.  Atlanta was only 5-3 at home.  And maybe controlled conditions actually help Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers.

*Illness:  Rodgers came out and said he was sick in the middle of the week.  He also said the flu or something was running through their locker room this week.

*Airplanes:  I just heard the Packers were delayed in getting into Atlanta due to fog at the Green Bay airport.  I guess by a couple of hours, but…a sign?

Is that enough?

Well, the good news for the Pack is that they are the ones that have Aaron Rodgers.  Atlanta hasn’t proven anything in the playoffs.  The Falcons defense may stink more than the Packers.  And the Packers have Aaron Rodgers.

I’ve personally been trying to bury Green Bay since they got into the playoffs.  If the New York Giants actually took advantage early in their Wild Card game, maybe that score is different.  If the Dallas Cowboys actually had a good coach, maybe that score is different.

But they weren’t.  The Pack is still here.  And one more thing:  Do you think the NFL wants Atlanta or Green Bay in the Super Bowl?  Just sayin’

(Gritting teeth), Green Bay, 38-34

Pittsburgh at New England (-6):

First off, enough of the whole Antonio Brown and Facebook Live stuff from after the game last weekend.  Irrelevant.  Even the stuff that came out of Mike Tomlin’s mouth.  Just not a big deal.

As for the game itself, Pittsburgh was the opponent I know I least wanted the Patriots to face on the way to the Super Bowl.  After Denver didn’t make the playoffs, that is.  None of the other AFC playoff teams scared me at all.  We all saw what Kansas City was last week.  How can you be afraid of THAT?

And now that the Pats kind of played like garbage last week, the game has seemingly made a lot of people around here nervous.  More nervous that they had been initially anyway.

Houston supposedly had the number one defense and Pittsburgh does not.  So that will hopefully in and of itself make the Patriot offense look better.  But if Tom Brady gets picked off twice and Dion Lewis fumbles twice again, they will have a much more potent offense to deal with in Pittsburgh as opposed to the high school one that Houston offered up.

Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are absolute monsters.  Locals this week have been pointing to Ben Roethlisberger’s road woes this year.  But we should all know better.  We know what he can do.  The Steelers also have some other “no name” wide receivers that appear out of nowhere and make plays.  A little concerning when the Pats have Logan Ryan and Eric Rowe to cover them.  Let’s also not forget that Pittsburgh’s offense wasn’t exactly clicking on all cylinders last week either with their 6 field goal game.

I think we should expect both offenses to play a little better.

BUT, the Patriot receivers are hobbled.  Especially Martellus Bennett.  I’m not sure if he is just running on fumes at this point.  He would be a huge plus in this game.  And it appears he is really gutting it out.  But I don’t know if has anything left.

And…God knows I don’t want to see LeGarrette Blount get the ball 25 times.  I know, he had a good game against them during the regular season.  But that was a long time ago.  The Steelers seem to be better on D than back then.  And Blount is a guy that will chew up bad defenses.  But be less than mediocre against even average defenses.

I know…a lot of negative Patriot talk here so far.  But I will support them in one case:  strength of schedule.  Their schedule certainly did consist of many horrible teams this year, no question.  And that is what a lot of the talking heads have been harping on over the last week.  But the Steelers didn’t exactly play a Murderer’s Row down the stretch either.  Including the playoffs.  Miami is terrible.  And, sad to say, may have even been in the game if Ryan Tannehill was the QB in the Wild Card game instead of Matt Moore.  Moore had 3 atrocious turnovers that basically let the Steelers run away with the game.  And we’ve already been through the KC game.

Enough rambling here…even though I am still trying to make a decision.  Ok, just do it.  Bell and Brown get plenty of yards.  But the Pats stiffen near the goal line, as they have done for years pretty much.  The sky really isn’t falling…at least I hope not.  New England, 31-23.

Last week:  2-2 (2-2 against the spread).

Total:  5-3 (4-4 against the spread).

 

Cooperstown 2017…reaction…

The BBWAA…a bunch of frauds?

Well, I suppose we don’t need to go that far.  But did you check out Hall of Fame voting results this week?

I think my induction thoughts were abundantly clear from my previous post.  But some of the stuff I have been seeing from other writers this week has driven me bananas.  So therefore you get to hear about it, like it or not.

First, you have all the ESPN guys…Jayson Stark, Scott Lauber, Jerry Crasnick, Tim Kurkjian…probably all of them for that matter.  I’m sure they are all great guys and although I don’t read their stuff religiously, I have generally liked what they have done over the years.  I could do without them on TV, but that’s a different subject entirely…and there’s a whole laundry list of people I could do without on television.  So that’s not really any kind of bombshell.

But anyway, the big problem I have seen from those guys is that I think they want to add ALL the guys on the ballot to the Hall of Fame.  That statement may be a stretch, however, they consistently complain that they are limited to voting for only 10 players and there are more than 10 qualified candidates on the ballot.  In one recent year, Kurkjian actually said he wanted to vote for 21 players.  TWENTY ONE!!!  He’s out of his mind.

Maybe Kurk (and the others) are too close to the players and want to “reward” them.  Or something.  It has to be SOMETHING.  Because if these veteran sports writers actually think there were more than 10 players worthy of a Hall of Fame plaque, then they are delusional.

Twenty one…holy crap…I have never been able to get that one out of my mind.  Someone has to smack some sense into old Timmy Boy.

Then I ran into someone who tops these ESPN folk:  Some character by the name of Matt Snyder, a writer for CBS Sports.  Never heard of him, but looking at his bio tells me that he played college baseball and worked his way to CBS through various blogs and other websites.  Seems like he paid some dues and ended up in a great position.  Good for him.  I may even admit that I have some jealousy that he can write about baseball for a living.  But I won’t.  In any event, he should know what he is talking about, correct?

Snyder’s bio also tells me that he is a member of the BBWAA.  Uh oh.  Don’t worry quite yet though, he has about 8 more years of service to go to get an actual vote.

But he would have voted for 10 guys (Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Raines, Mussina, Schilling, Pudge, Edgar, Sosa and Sheffield).  If he had more than 10 votes, he would have also added Vladdy and Walker, wouldn’t be opposed to electing Hoffman, Wagner and Lee Smith and also would have given strong looks to Kent, McGriff and Posada.  18 guys right there.  Posada??  Really??  And he also must be too young to have lived through Lee Smith.  To make this a little more comical, he left Manny out and would have voted for Mark McGwire if he was on the ballot.  McGwire??  Wow.  I get that he has a personal PED rule where he leaves players out that were suspended while there has been a joint drug agreement in place.  That’s why there is no Manny.  And he has a right to his opinion.  But you honestly can’t tell me Manny is out and ALL the other kingpins of the steroid era are in.  Common sense has to take over at some point, no?

You have to read the actual piece to “appreciate” it, I think:

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/the-10-players-id-elect-to-the-baseball-hall-of-fame-and-those-who-would-miss-the-cut/

But wait, it gets better!  Three days after that post, after the results came out, he writes another piece where he tries to dispel a couple of “myths”.  The first being how the vote totals change each year.  In theory, what he describes makes sense, for the most part anyway.  I’ll give him some more love and you can read what he wrote here:

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/time-to-dispel-two-big-myths-about-baseball-hall-of-fame-voting-results/

What he wrote doesn’t change the fact that he still wants to put like 18 guys in the Hall.  Or that if you are changing your minds on guys over the years…more than once anyway…that probably means that he doesn’t belong.  Or the fact Tim Raines went from 24.3% in 2008, dropped to 22.6% in 2009 and then got to 86.0% in 2017.  That’s way too big a swing.  Were ALL of the voters whose votes had lapsed not voting for Raines and ALL the new voters now voting for him?  Hard to fathom.

The second myth is that the Hall is being watered down because of “lesser” players getting in nowadays.  He presents some facts, that may be true in theory.  But again, common sense needs to prevail here as well.  A smaller percentage of players are getting in the Hall nowadays based on his numbers.  But that only means plenty of mediocre players got in the Hall over the years.  That bumped those old numbers up.  He neglected to mention the Veteran’s Committee putting all kinds of unqualified guys in the Hall in the past.  To the point where the Veteran’s Committee had to be completely revamped.  If we took away some of those players, the numbers may be more in line.  And that’s just one aspect of what happened in the history of Hall of Fame voting.

I’m very sorry for what seems to be a personal attack here, Mr. Snyder.  But maybe you’ll get some more readers from me posting your links.  So perhaps you should actually thank me.  Regardless, this stuff is just a microcosm of the baseball writers of the day.  I’m sure this covers a great deal of the BBWAA.  We’ve already talked about the writer who voted for Schilling for years, but is now stopping because Schill started bashing the writers.  And the guy who sent in a ballot a few years back with only Jack Morris’ name checked off and no one else.  Because he felt “Morris’ career predated the steroid years, so he was voting for him and skipping everyone else because he couldn’t be sure who did ‘roids and who didn’t after that.”  And the writers who won’t vote for certain players on the first ballot, because they aren’t “first ballot Hall of Famers.”  And on and on.  Just not ideal.

Cripes, I have read some preliminary thoughts from some of these writers about 2018 Hall of Fame ballot projections.  Chipper Jones and Jim Thome lead the first timers and they certainly warrant consideration.  But I have also heard the names of Johnny Damon, Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones get some early love.  What?!  Why not throw Scott Podsednik and Guillermo Mota in there as well…

So now that I have gotten completely carried away on something not many likely care about, let me leave you with this:

Everyone has their opinion on who makes the Hall.  I certainly have mine.  No one is wrong, sad to say.  But what’s the bottom line on determining a Hall of Famer?  I can tell you that one time long ago, I was watching Pedro Martinez throw one of those complete game, 3 hit, 17 strikeout gems at a watering hole in Boston with a friend.  Well, it started in the bar.  In the 4th inning, my buddy said “let’s hop on the T over to Fenway and see if we can get into the game.”  I actually agreed, even though the game was almost half over.  We got there in the 6th inning and probably still overpaid a scalper for “seats”.  And the building was rocking for the next 3 innings.  Worth it.  Now THAT is a Hall of Famer.

I can tell you for certain that not once have I said to anyone “hey, Mike Mussina is pitching tonight.  Let’s drop everything and watch!”

But maybe I am just an “Internet Tough Guy”…

 

 

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