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Playing catch-up…the final chapter…

This one is going to be total gibberish.  But it is what it is…

*So the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup.  I was actually rooting for the San Jose Sharks, with our old friend Jumbo Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau finally getting to the Finals after 18 years.  The #1 and #2 picks of the 1997 draft still getting it done.  And the organization itself.  No Cup wins or even Finals appearances.  Easy to root for them over say, the whiny Sidney Crosby.  Or the arse-clown Phil Kessel.

Pittsburgh was clearly the better team though, congratulations to them.  But Martin Jones…man.  The guy played pretty awesome.  Faced a lot of rubber.  Wish the Bruins could have players like that!  Ok, funny, I know.  He had a solid 5 day stint with the team last summer.

Listen, I have always said that I would pay very few NHL goalies ridiculous dollars, since you should be able to get a decent goalie for a reasonable price.  And it’s no secret I would deal Tuukka Rask in a heartbeat.  But a lot of Bruins fans are saying they would’ve kept Jones and that he would’ve performed better than Tuuks.  I have suggested it.  But how do we really know?  The B’s defense was so bad this year, Jones could’ve had a goals against average over 3.00 for all we know.  When Claude’s system is right, a lot of guys could play goal and look awesome.  This year, even Jonathan Quick or Patrick Roy in his prime could have been putrid with that D.

We also have to consider that no one thought the first round pick the Bruins acquired in the deal would wind up at the end of the first round.  Maybe a mid-first round pick at the time…and the Sean Kuraly kid…what if he is any good as well?  Seemed like a fairly good return for an unproven backup goalie…at the time for sure.  So I’ve changed my tune…as much as I hate to give Bruins management ANY benefit of the doubt.  Let’s let the trade play out before we bemoan the “loss” of Jones.

But let’s still trade Tuukka.

*It’s a nice gesture, ESPN bringing on Craig Sager for some sideline reporting for Game 6.  You know I have no use for sideline reporters.  But the dude is popular with…everyone.  He’s never worked the Finals, despite a long career in the game.  And everyone knows about his battle with cancer and the uncertain amount of time he has left.  ESPN doing something positive…whoda thunk it?!

*But the NBA assigning Scott Foster to ref Game 6?  Still hard to believe he’s working in the league…what with his whole connection to the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal about a decade ago.  No way Donaghy was the only guy involved and his best buddy appeared to be Foster.  Par for the course with the league when you think about it though.  Too many rumors about things in the NBA being “fixed” that you’d have to think some of the questions are legit.  And now Stephen Curry just fouled out for the first time in years…though Foster didn’t make the final foul call, I’ll give him that…

*Speaking of Game 6, it’ll be over before this is posted.  But there will be a Game 7.  The Warriors kept trying to get back into the game, but couldn’t pull it off.  Some foul trouble in this game and with Andrew Bogut out, guys like Andre Iguodala hobbling now and LeBron stepping up his game and making me look a little silly…does that mean the Cavaliers have a chance in Game 7 at Golden State?  Anything can happen, but my money’s still on the Warriors.  I just can’t see them losing at home in a Game 7.  But I’ve been wrong plenty before…

*Another banner game for Kevin Love:  12 minutes, 7 points, 3 boards, 3 fouls.  Ouch.

*Don’t look now everyone, Clay Buchholz threw another 3 innings of scoreless mop up tonight!  That’s 4 scoreless mop-up appearances out of 5.  Get ready for his re-entry into the rotation when they finally need that 5th starter again.  Can’t wait for John Farrell to put some major spin on it as well.

*Of course, seeing that the Sox actually need yet another starter with Eduardo Rodriguez not really “back” yet.  Joe Kelly is allegedly hurt in Pawtucket.  Henry Owens is still walking everyone down there as well.  Welcome to your chance at the role, Roenis Elias!!  That’s how I see it.  Yuck…

*Does Farrell know that he has Robbie Ross Jr. at his disposal?  Granted, Ross is no All-Star, but he has pitched pretty decent for the Sox since he came aboard last year.  Yet Matt Barnes has gotten the ball 8 more times than him this year.  Matt Barnes?  Why is Farrell force feeding him down our throats?  Unnecessary.

*Farrell told us in April that Chris Young got in the lineup more often than he probably should have because he “needed the at-bats to stay sharp.”  So that wouldn’t hold true for Rusney Castillo now?

*Deflategate turned 500 days old like a week or two ago.  Let’s get ready for 500 more!  In all actuality, I think I have given up.  Suspend Brady for all I care, play Jimmy Football (Garoppolo) the 4 games and go at least 3-1.  Brady comes back fresh and pissed.  The team wins a Super Bowl.  And Jimmy G gets dealt for something useful next offseason because, you know, now Jacoby Brissett is the QB of the future…

*Speaking of Jimmy Football, Johnny Football (Manziel) has been quiet…for like a week anyway.  I’ve never rooted for someone to crash and burn as badly as I have for Manziel.  I feel kind of bad about that.  But if he ever confronts me about it, he can’t say he hasn’t asked for it.

*Mike Carey got fired as CBS’ officiating “expert” last week.  Hallelujah!!!  I’ve never really rooted for anyone to lose their job…besides Farrell I guess…actually there are probably dozens more…but bear with me.  Carey was downright atrocious though.  I mean, real bad.  He only had the job for 2 years, but it felt like more.  He should’ve been gone after 2 weeks.

*Aaron Dobson apparently played well in Patriot OTA’s last week.  What a shocker.  Comes up big when the lights are off.  Can’t wait until he disappears again when it counts.  Or gets hurt.  Or both…the more likely scenario.

*Alex Khokhlachev is heading to the KHL.  Another young offensively talented guy that Claude couldn’t find room for.  Khokh may actually suck, but we will never know.  He never got a chance.

*Hey!  The “Can you hear me now” Verizon guy is now with Sprint.  Didn’t see that one coming.  There is no loyalty anywhere anymore!!

*MLB draft.  Who cares, right?  But I’d love to know more about the dude the Red Sox got.  Jason Groome.  Supposedly could have been the top overall pick but fell to #12.  Could be money concerns, could be maturity issues, could be this, could be that.  A lot of uncertainty.  Throw in the fact that he is 17 and add some more uncertainty.  Welp, I guess we will see what happens.  I can tell you this much:  I’m not expecting much from high draft pick pitchers coming directly from high school…at least in the Sox organization.

*I wish I had something more intelligent and meaningful to say about the recent deaths of Muhammad Ali and “Mr. Hockey”, Gordie Howe.  Excellent athletes in their respective sports.  But I never really saw them perform…certainly not in their prime anyway.  Sure, plenty of video exists, but it’s nothing like witnessing their feats live.  Ali of course had some political and religious beliefs that were controversial, to sum it up in one word.  But those go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond the scope of this piece.  The best I can do here is probably just “R.I.P.”, sad to say.

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Super Blah…

…that’s how I felt about that game last night.  And the halftime show as well, for whatever that is worth.

As we all know, part of the reasoning for the lukewarm reaction toward the Big Game is that the New England Patriots were not there.  That is no secret.

But I was not all that impressed by the participants regardless.  Carolina did not look like a 17-1 team.  The Denver defense absolutely showed up to play.  But the offense?  Meh…although if you listened to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, you would probably think that Peyton Manning threw for 800 yards and 10 TDs and was the reason they won the game.  Ugh…for those watching objectively, Peyton was not very good.  But I suppose he didn’t need to be with the way the defense played.

You know what else I didn’t like about the game?  Where do I start?  Per usual, let’s throw out a few bullet points, again, in no particular order:

*Manning.  I’m putting him here again, because that’s how much I didn’t like him.  Only one interception, but could have been more.  But that one was a beauty.  Threw it right to a defensive lineman.  Rarely threw deep, but I suppose he didn’t need to.  Yelled “Omaha” a few times, so that was nice to hear.  Anyway, I have belabored the point.

*Cam Newton.  Your NFL MVP everyone!!  Wow.  Putrid.  On and off the field.  Sure the Denver pass rush was relentless.  They took the run away from him.  The Carolina coaches didn’t seem to make adjustments to allow Cam to do what he did all year, as far as utilize his running skills.  That much is all true.  But he started off the game firing passes over his receivers heads.  Ok, his receivers are atrocious too.  But he didn’t give them a chance early on.

The play everyone is talking about, his fumble with about 4 minutes left?  I’m still speechless.  Ok, I’m really not.  What a joke.  Losing 16-10.  4 minutes left.  IT’S THE SUPER BOWL!  And he doesn’t dive for the ball?  Doesn’t make any effort whatsoever?  Actually peels off?  Embarrassing.  I can’t say I have ever seen anything like it, especially considering the circumstances.  We all know how I feel about Peyton.  But he is for damn sure diving for that ball…even with his prior neck injuries.  He understands the magnitude of the situation.

Did we ever get an explanation?  I don’t know, but I haven’t heard what he was thinking yet…from him anyway.  I’ve heard people say that he thought the ball was going to bounce backwards.  Ummmm…not so sure.  Maybe the media was going to ask him in the postgame interview…but of course he bailed on that.  Another ridiculous thing.  I’ve heard people defending him for cutting that short because Chris Harris Jr. can be heard in the background telling reporters that they had a great game plan to stop Cam…and Newton didn’t want to listen to it, blah, blah, blah.  That’s pure garbage.  You played awful, your team lost, you didn’t get to “dab”…face the music.  And he is supposed to be one of the “new faces of the league”?  Please…lost a lot of respect for him yesterday.

*Carolina offensive line.  Did the Patriots offensive line from two weeks ago actually take their place Sunday?  Yes, again, the Denver pass rush is stout.  But neither the Pats or the Panthers can come even close to even slowing them down at least a little?

*Jerricho Cotchery.  Yikes, he is still in the league?  And he’s like the Panthers #3 receiver?  And then he drops the first three passes thrown to him.  Including the one that was a catch, then wasn’t, but should’ve been (more on that later).  But he would’ve made it easier if he just caught the ball cleanly.

*Ted Ginn Jr.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Carolina’s #1 receiver!  If you listened to Nantz and Simms, you would’ve thought he actually finally became good this year after 8 years of mediocrity…less than that actually.  He caught 44 passes this year…yup, less than 3 a game.  On 96 targets.  So he caught less than half thrown his way.  Anyway, the things that bothered me most was on his 45 yard catch and run, it appeared that he could have maybe juked the safety, cut inside and then race to the end zone…you know, because his one skill is that he can fly.  Instead, he just cruised out of bounds.  Maybe it’s just me, since no one else is talking about it.  But it seemed that he kind of just gave up on the play.  I suppose a lot of receivers kind of do that as well.  But…IT’S THE SUPER BOWL!  Try it at least.  And take a hit if you have to.

*Greg Olsen.  Ok, he is the real top pass catcher on the team.  Where was he?  Sure, he was probably blanketed.  But so was Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship.  And he came up huge still.

*Demaryius Thomas.  Another disappearing act.  Blame Josh Norman if you want.  Or Manning.  But 1 catch for 8 yards?

*Mike Tolbert.  I have a little soft spot for this fat guy.  I really haven’t watched him a ton over the years, either in San Diego or Carolina.  But he has always seemed to run well when I did.  Short, fat dude plowing through the line.  Interesting to watch anyway.  But the first two times he touched the ball he fumbled.  Disappointing.

*Graham Gano.  As Jim Nantz said early, along with Simms and sideline reporters Evan Washburn and Tracy Wolfson, they would also go to Jay Feely “if needed”.  Nice of Jim to include Jay.  Anyway, I feel that sideline reporters are generally useless.  But Feely inexplicably added something the one time they went to him.  After Gano missed his field goal, Feely said that Gano had “missed a couple in this direction in pregame in the same fashion and knew what to expect…”, or something along those lines.  So Gano KNEW the adjustment he had to make and STILL did not make it?  Hard to fathom.

*Carolina punt coverage.  On the Jordan Norwood return specifically.  You think he calls fair catch.  But you don’t bother looking to see if he did?  And then you bump him before he catches the ball anyway?  Then no one tackles him right at the spot?  I’m still shaking my head over that one.

*Mike Carey.  This one needs no explanation.  Didn’t everyone know that whatever he said, the call on the field was going to be the opposite?

I could probably find more, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately.  I won’t be watching the tape again, so I’ll leave it at those…

I’d love to blame the officials.  But like I have previously said, that job is tough enough.  Could the Cotchery “catch” actually have been ruled a catch?  Sure.  But then again, he should have caught it cleanly in the first place and we wouldn’t even be talking about it.  One unsportsmanlike penalty on Aqib Talib, when he was jawing on the sideline, was questionable.  As was one on a Carolina DB (forget exactly who) when he knocked the ball out of Emmanuel Sanders hand after a catch.  Then when Talib had that blatant face mask penalty…there was some chatter of possibly tossing him from the game.  But, all in all, I don’t think the refs had any bearing on the game either way.

I’ll tell you two things I did like and that no one is talking about.  Kony Ealy.  3 sacks, an interception, a couple of QB hits, fumble recovery…I don’t know much about the guy.  But he had a monster game.  Second thing?  Some dude named Mario Addison.  Never heard of him.  But here is some monster defensive end flying downfield after Norwood on his punt return.  And then I watched him also jet after a receiver downfield from the line later in the game.  He may completely suck, for all I know.  But loved watching the big dude speed down the field on those occasions.

Let’s now break down the halftime show.  Ummmmm, nope…but that Bruno Mars can dance, no?!

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