Saturday, September 5, 2015

We don't have to call a "Grand Slam" something different because of Serena Williams

I keep hearing and reading about how Serena Williams is on the verge of winning a "calendar-year Grand Slam."  ESPN is continually running that phrase on the bottom line when they mention her during their coverage of the U.S. Open.

This bugs me.

Just because Williams invented a phrase "Serena Slam" to describe her winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in a row (but not in the same year) in 2002-03 (and again currently), that doesn't mean the longstanding phrase "Grand Slam" (winning all four in the same year) has to be changed now that she might accomplish that too.

Serena Williams is close to winning a Grand Slam, period.  It's an amazing accomplishment that only six people have ever achieved, most recently Steffi Graf in 1988.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Reason No. 2 to keep watching the Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts might lead the AL in hits

Reason No. 1 is obviously the David Ortiz 500 home run watch, but Xander Bogaerts is sneakily having a super-awesome season--especially when you consider he's still only 22 years old (for comparison, Blake Swihart and Henry Owens are 23, Jackie Bradley Jr. is 25).

The Red Sox shortstop has 12 hits in his last seven games to raise his batting average to .319, third in the American League behind Michael Brantley (.321) and Miguel Cabrera (.361).  Bogaerts now has 159 hits on the season, the fifth-most in all of baseball. He's only five back of Dee Gordon (164) for the MLB lead, and four behind Jose Altuve (163) for the top spot in the AL.

Bogaerts has 29 games remaining this year, one more than both Gordon and Altuve.  With 159 hits through 133 games, Bogaerts is on pace to finish the year with a total of 194.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Does Tom Brady's suspension nullification actually decrease Patriots' Super Bowl chances? (and more)

I'll get back to the headline in a bit.  But first, here are my initial reactions to the Tom Brady ruling in order of relevance:

1.  More than anything, it still blows my mind that this whole thing became what it did.  A minor sports report that should've disappeared after a week or two somehow elevated to social movement status and the No. 1 national news story.

2.  I'm kind of amazed by the common local fan attitude that Brady and/or the Patriots did nothing wrong.  All along, I've felt that Brady and the Pats probably knew exactly what they were doing, but that it just wasn't a very big deal--and that's what the judge's ruling means.  He's not saying they didn't do anything, just that the NFL's reaction to it was ridiculous and unjust.

3.  The league will appeal the decision.  Why?  The longer this drags out, the worse it looks for Roger Goodell.  Why does he want Brady suspended?  Everything is better for the NFL with Brady playing.  I get why Goodell had to put up a fight so the other owners didn't think he was in Bob Kraft's pocket, but now he's already done that.  He has the perfect excuse/lifeline to say it's been taken out of his hands, so why not take advantage of that?

I shouldn't really be surprised though, both sides decided long ago they weren't backing down no matter what, and Goodell is just staying the course.

4.  Allegedly the appeal will take a minimum of 10 months.  It could be years.  How funny would it be to see Brady suspended after he retires?

OK, now back to my main point.

Before today's ruling, the Patriots had the fifth-best odds of any team in the league to win the Super Bowl (despite evidence suggesting they were a lock to get there).  Now, New England is a co-favorite along with Green Bay and Seattle.

As I've discussed before, gambling odds are just a reflection of how people bet, not a team's actual chances of winning.  Regardless, I think the Pats are now less likely to win Super Bowl 50 than they were before.

All over TV today, I saw people talking about the chip Brady will have on his shoulder one week from today when he takes the field for opening night.  That's true, but it'll be nothing compared to to the chip he could've had when he returned from a suspension.

A suspended Brady would've come back with the fire of a thousand suns in his eyes, looking to eviscerate everything in his path.  Now he's already had an enormous victory, and there's no possible way he'll have quite the same drive.  Isn't that worth a lot more than a potential game or two difference in the regular season standings?

One final though: How amazing would it be to see this in the Pats last preseason game tonight?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Most drinks these days aren't real drinks

It's been a while since I posted a good bartender rant.  Here's something that came up last night:

Bars and restaurants usually have cocktail lists.  The vast majority of them invent some of the drinks on their menus.  In doing so, they also think of names for the cocktails they have created.  Where am I going with this?

When you ask for something like a "cinnamon toast crunch" drink, don't be surprised if the bartender isn't familiar with it.  And if that's the case, it likely has nothing to do with his/her knowledge of the subject, and everything to do with the fact that he/she isn't also employed in the other bar that made that cocktail for you (or doesn't read all the same things on Pinterest that you do).

If you don't know what's in it yourself, you could try looking it up on your smartphone--but you'll find about a million different recipes for it online because it's not a real thing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

David Ortiz 500 home run watch update (it's definitely happening this year)

On August 6, I wrote a blog suggesting David Ortiz was on pace to hit home run No. 500 this season.  At the time, he was at 487 with 54 games remaining--requiring a pace of one long ball every 4.15 contests to reach 500.

In Boston's last 23 games, Ortiz has slugged eight homers (one per 2.88 games), leaving him at 495 with 31 dates left on the schedule.  Big Papi must go deep only once every 6.2 games the rest of the way to get it done.

Since June 10 (more than half of the season so far), Ortiz has 23 dingers in 71 games, a rate of one every 3.09 games--double the pace he'll need to get to 500 this year.  Book it.

Also, how great is this:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Contributing to ESPN Boston's 2015 Celtics Summer Forecast (Part 2)

Once again, I've been asked to contribute to ESPN Boston's Celtics Summer Forecast, in which a panel of bloggers make various predictions about the upcoming season.  Here's the second round of questions, with my answers quoted from the site (click on the links for the full articles and other writers' prognostications):

Which rookie will have the biggest impact: Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter or Jordan Mickey?

(Rozier): "Hunter could carve out a role as a 3-point specialist, while Mickey might earn minutes as a hard-working rebounder and shot blocker. It'll be a more difficult path for Rozier, who on paper seems somewhat redundant to Smart and Bradley. But the C's reached on Rozier in the draft for a reason, and he showed glimpses of impact potential in summer league. Rozier likely will be the first rookie given a chance to play on a regular basis, an opportunity I expect him to take advantage of."

Which Celtic is most likely to be an All-Star in 2015-16?

(Marcus Smart): "The chances are extremely low that any Celtics player will be an All-Star but, if forced to pick one, I'll go out on a limb and say Smart. He already plays All-Star defense, and he was working hard on his jumper this summer before dislocating his fingers. If Smart is the starting point guard and becomes the leader of a spunky overachieving team, I could see him making the All-Star squad. Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Jeff Teague (Hawks) both represented the East at point guard under similar circumstances last year."

Who on the Celtics is most likely to have a breakout season?

(James Young): "I like both Smart and [Jae] Crowder as options here (although Crowder may have already had his breakout year in 2014-15), but I'm going with Young simply because it won't take much for him to overachieve. After his basically non-existent rookie season, many Celtics fans seem to have already given up on him. We forget how "young" he really is though -- he just turned 20 this month and is still the youngest player on Boston's roster."

Which Celtics player will be the biggest underachiever this year?

(Avery Bradley): "Sometimes I wonder whether Bradley peaked as a basketball player in the spring of 2012 (when he stole the starting shooting guard spot from Ray Allen). Even though he's only 24 years old, Bradley is the longest-tenured Celtic and it feels as though he's been around forever. His reputation as one of the fiercest on-ball defenders in the league is slipping away. Young, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter will all be fighting for minutes in the backcourt this season -- it seems a lot more likely that their playing time will come at the expense of Bradley rather than Marcus Smart or Isaiah Thomas."

Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones are eligible for contract extensions. Who, if any, will get one?

(None): "The one constant in Ainge's current rebuilding strategy is that he always makes sure to keep his options open. I doubt he views Sullinger, Zeller or Jones as essential pieces of the puzzle. Nor do I believe Ainge is afraid any of them will play so well this season that he'll be forced to overpay for their services later. Boston has only about $26 million in guaranteed salary after this season, something Ainge is likely quite proud of."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How lazy is it that both villains in "The Karate Kid" have the same name?

Somehow it took me 31 years to realize this.  It just popped into my head when I was writing a blog about Barney Stinson's theory on who the real Karate Kid is.

The leader of the Cobra Kai gang is named Johnny Lawrence.  The sensei's name is John Kreese.  Johnny and John?  Seriously?  Is it possible nobody ever picked up on this during production?  They couldn't have called one of them Michael or something?

While they were at it, they might as well have just made Mr. Miyagi's first name Dan.

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