Saturday, August 30, 2014

Contributing to ESPN Boston's Celtics 2014 Summer Forecast (Part 3)

For the second year in a row I'm taking part in ESPN Boston's Celtics Summer Forecast panel.  This year it's a three week long series of daily articles with questions and predictions regarding the upcoming season.  Myself and a number of other Celtics writers each give our take.  Here's the third and final installment from week 3, with my short answers in parentheses (click on the links to read them in full):

Which game on the schedule is the most intriguing? (The second game of the season, which for some strange reason is in Houston)

What will the Celtics improve most at from last year? (Holding fans interest despite a poor record)

In what area will they struggle most? (Finding minutes for all their guards and small forwards)

Will Rajon Rondo be traded? (No. I mean he never has been before, right?)

Read week 1 and week 2

Friday, August 29, 2014

The best sporting event on TV last night?

It wasn't the Red Sox, who had Thursday night off to travel to Tampa as they play out the string.  And it wasn't the Patriots, who took the field in New York for their fourth and final preseason game (the most meaningless of all of their exhibitions).  It wasn't even college football's opening night, which included #21 Texas A&M pulling off a surprising blowout win at #9 South Carolina.

No, the best sporting event on TV last night was a 15-year-old kid's tennis match at the U.S. Open.  On Tuesday, CiCi Bellis upset the #12 seed in the first round and became the youngest player to win at the Open since 1996.  By Thursday the 1,208th ranked player in the world had a huge following.  Scheduled for the final match of the day session on one of the side courts, when play ran long she ended up in prime time on ESPN2.

After dropping the first set to 48th-ranked Zarina Diyas 6-3, Bellis went on an amazing seven-game run to capture the second 6-0, and take a 1-0 lead in the third.  The New York crowd was going berserk, erupting time and time again with each big point the American teenager won.

Eventually Bellis fell 6-2 in the third set, but not before stealing the show at the Open's first week.  She qualified for the tournament by winning the 18-and-under junior nationals (the youngest to do that since 1991), and is still scheduled to take the court in the U.S. Open's junior event.  Playing in her first pro tourney, Bellis will not claim her $60,000 in prize money in order to keep her amateur status and remain eligible to play in college.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Troublemaker Peyton Manning fined $8,258 by NFL for taunting

What a jerk.
That no-good punk Peyton Manning is up to his old tricks again, and today the NFL took swift and decisive action to nip his outlandish antics in the bud.

After D.J. Swearinger of the Texans knocked Manning's teammate Wes Welker out of a preseason game with a concussion last Saturday, Manning responded by viciously "getting in the face" (according to ESPN reports) of Swearinger following a touchdown pass later in the contest.  Manning was flagged for taunting on the play.

Despite his unruly reputation, the penalty was actually the first unsportmanlike conduct call of Manning's career.  The Broncos' quarterback showed little remorse afterwards, saying "Fifteen yards with five seconds left in the half doesn't hurt you that much. I think if you're going to get one that's a good time to get one."

Given a few days to contemplate his actions, the defiant Manning still refused to admit any wrong doing upon learning of the massive $8,258 fine levied down upon him by the league, calling it "money well spent."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When you drop change, do you pick it up?

Recently I was sitting in a sandwich shop having lunch, and a lady dropped a few coins on her way out the door.  Someone pointed and said "you lost your change," but she just kept on walking and never looked back.

I glanced down and saw two pennies and a nickel on the floor, and I didn't bother to pick it up either.  Her decisiveness was impressive to me; she knew she didn't care about that seven cents, and had no trouble admitting it wasn't worth her time and effort to bend over and get it.

I completely agree with this line of though (check out Coins are pretty much stupid these days), and when I spot change on the ground I don't pick up anything besides quarters, which I use for laundry.  But, when I drop it myself, for some reason I feel socially obligated to retrieve it if there's other people around who notice.  Since it has no value to me, doesn't it come off like littering to just leave it there?  Vote in the poll below:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Should the Red Sox have traded Koji Uehara at the deadline?

After the Red Sox held on to Koji Uehara through their trade deadline fire sale last month, it was assumed that they planned to re-sign the free-agent closer for next season.  However, Uehara could still be moved this season via a waiver wire deal; remember the blockbuster trade that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers (read how wrong I was about that one) two years ago happened after the deadline.  But at this point, I'm not even sure if Koji would have that much value.

Uehara has made 12 appearances since July 31, and he's given up at least one hit in nine of them.  For his career Koji has a WHIP of just 0.84, but for the month of August it's nearly doubled (1.59).  His ERA this month is 5.56, and over his last three appearances Uehara has two losses and two blown saves.

Is it possible the 39-year-old is finally wearing down?  A month ago Koji was arguable the best closer in baseball.  Now he's nowhere close.  Maybe the Red Sox missed the boat by not trading him at the deadline?

To be pragmatic, I'll throw in my optimistic view as well: There's a chance Uehara is just fine and his struggles will only mean Boston can re-sign him for less next season.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Major League Soccer may want to reconsider it's recruitment process...

Yesterday it was announced that U.S. World Cup star Jermaine Jones will be joining MLS' New England Revolution.  The 32-year-old has played professionally in Europe for the past 14 years.  From an official statement released by the Revs, here's the explanation of how Jones' signing with the team came about:

"As a designated player of a certain threshold, Jones was not subject to allocation ranking for dispersal to an MLS team. The Revolution and Chicago Fire expressed an interest in Jones, and had the available salary budget and a designated player slot to accommodate him. Following a blind draw between the two clubs, Jones was assigned to the Revolution."

For a league that has struggled to maintain relevance since its creation nearly two decades ago, it seems to me that when attempting to bring in top international talent MLS might want to try out a recruiting pitch other than: "We'd love for you to come here, but we're going to decide how much you'll get paid, and what city you'll be playing in."

Just a though...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Awesome Old Song of the Week: "I'll Be You're Shelter" by Taylor Dayne

Once I'd made the decision to go with Taylor Dayne this week, I admittedly still had a tough time deciding which of her songs to choose.  Tell it to My Heart and With Every Beat of My Heart were also serious contenders, but 1990's I'll Be Your Shelter is Dayne's best tune in my book.

Two things of note about Taylor Dayne: One, her real name is actually Leslie Wunderman.  And two, one of my twitter followers suggested I write about her because friends of his just hired her to play their wedding.  If you go to, she can apparently be booked for a mere $25,000 (related: Kevin Youkilis will play paintball with you for the bargain price of $3,600).

If you have a suggestion/request for an "Awesome Old Song of the Week," hit me up on twitter @LucidSportsFan, or by any other way you know how.

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