By some miraculous turn of events a few CubicleGMers ended up watching the Superbowl from the French Quarter (ya know, in New Orleans). To give shout-outs where shout-outs are due, it all started when a good friend of the Cubicles, we call him E, and his significant other, we call her V, moved down there several months back. Their trials and tribulations have been thoroughly (sparsely?) documented. Combine that with a few yuppies trying to meet up with old (young?) college friends, mix in a major winter storm in the mid-Atlantic and you have all the makings of canceled flights, dirty laundry being, and seeing the Saints win the Superbowl from inside the most fun quarter mile to be found in the US, and possibly anywhere. (more…)
One of the motivations to create CubicleGM was the frequency of sports related emails that arrived and left my inbox on a weekly basis. Everything from the ‘Have you seen this story yet?’ to ‘How many of the ’96 Seattle Mariners can you name?’. The first still come through the inbox, while the second are often sent as links that to the amazingness that is Sporcle.com. A great one came from one-time CubicleGM writer Kevin. You are creating a team for the ’95-’96 NBA season – who is on the squad? The rules:
1. No more than 2 of the periods greats on the team. Jordan, Shaq, Malone, Pippen, and Stockton isn’t a legit squad.
2. At least 10 dudes on the squad, who together averaged no more than 110 points during the season.
3. Make the youngsters relatively real. Kobe, Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, and Antonio McDyess cant all be on your squad.
[We pause a moment to note our sponsors: Start making more money by using point spread.]
Quickly spinning around the league in 10-15 minutes here is what I came up with. Unabashedly, I love my squad. I wish they could have played together and it isn’t even an unfathomable team. They probably wouldn’t have toppled Jordan and his crew, but they would have been a good team and REAL fun to watch.
Coach: George Karl
F: Dennis Rodman
F: Sean Kemp
F: Penny Hardaway
G: Jeff Hornacek
G: Mookie Blalock
Just like that, a mere minutes into yesterday’s playoff game, an uninspired Pats season unofficially came to an end. Obviously the official end came once the clock struck 0:00 of the fourth quarter, but at no point this season did the Pats show they could handle adversity, that they could come back from a deficit, or that they could play at a consistently high level; thus it was over with circa 8:00 minutes to go in the 1st quarter. Its not specifically a fault of the team in any inherent way, they simply weren’t as good as previous teams, and more importantly, weren’t as good as the other AFC contenders. I actually wonder if the Pats (front office and eventually players) realized this was a retooling year. In reality they may have simply achieved; neither under nor over.
The season started very sinisterly, first by trading Richard Seymour to Oakland for a future #1 and then by barely squeaking out a gift wrapped victory over a poor (middling?) Bills team a mere days later in week 1. Brady magically led them to that week 1 victory and many of the teams flaws were hidden by snagging a win.
The next 7 games were a microcosm (can a little under half the season be a microcosm, or would that be a cosm?) of the Pats season. Up and down against the good teams (beat a healthy Falcons teams playing their best ball of the season, and pull off a win over the undefeated Ravens; losses to the Jets and Broncos) and wins against their inferior opponents (Tennessee, Tampa, and Miami at home). Heading into the Colts game the Pats were 6-2, but in reality not a consistent team that proved they could hang with the league’s best. The Sunday night game in Indy was their measuring stick. A team that has consistently been among the best in the league wants to win championships, not division titles. Even though they hung with the Colts, and by all accounts could/should have won the game, they didn’t. They left everything they had on the field that night, played as complete a game as they could, led with the ball in the last two minutes, and still lost. The team knew they weren’t Superbowl contenders; the team knew it wasn’t their year.
The season ended much like it began, with the Pats beating the inferior teams and losing to the solid teams (New Orleans, at Miami). Coming into the playoffs the Pats knew that to even get to the Superbowl would require wins at Indy and San Diego, and that’s assuming they beat a very good Ravens team. The team wasn’t up to the test, and were totally demolished Sunday. Thinking on the season brought me back to week 2 or 3, when chatting American Football with a coworker, I told him that I thought Belichick may have seen the 2009 season as a rebuilding year. He (a Bills fan) of course gave me some ‘Of course a New England would say that’ comment, but answer me these questions:
- Did Belichick trade Seymour knowing that even with him the team wasn’t a championship contender, snagging value for him while he could?
- Did Belichick realize that knee injuries, and specifically torn ACLs, take more than a year to recovery fully and that Brady wouldn’t be back too full strength until well into the 2009 season?
- Was it probable the team could make the playoffs with a mediocre team, while still retooling for the future?
- Did the team catch on to this, lead to Moss taking a few halves off, several players showing up late to practice, amongst other mid-season dramas usually unknown to Belichick teams?
- Did all of this culminate in a miserable performance Sunday?
Its plausible; either way the playoffs march on sans Pats. Either way ‘In Belichick We Trust’. Either way, New England turns it attention to Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia with a mere 6 weeks (and plenty of great football) separating us from Spring Training.
[Ring Ring, Ring Ring]
Gideon: I’ve had some second thoughts, and realized I would like to write about you again, if that’s ok?
Baseball: Well, I guess so. I have just finished up three of the most trade and signing packed days of the year. I’m sure you can find something in there.
Gideon: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too…
So that’s how we end up here; I’m taking it slow in rekindling things with baseball, but just couldn’t resist the urge to touch on the Redsox recent move. In a transaction eerily similar to last season’ s AJ Burnett signing by the Yankees, the Sox bring John Lackey to town for 5 years at just over $80mm. My first gut reaction was ‘cool, a number 3
pitcher.’ But after thinking on it for a few minutes it made me ask the fairly obvious question of who is the odd man out in the rotation? One of the deepest rotations in the league just became that much deeper as the Red Sox have7 – 9 legitimate options to start a significant number of games this season. The mainstays: Josh Beckett, John Lester, John Lackey, and Tim Wakefield are joined by Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, as well as the newly acquired Boof Bonser (recovering from injury), and the other youngsters Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa. The top four, as long as they are healthy, will remain in the rotation, that’s almost assured. Dice-K needs to bounce back from his miserable 2009, while Buchholz still needs to prove he can string together several months of quality pitching, though he looked awfully strong over the last 2 months of last season. Bonser still needs to fully recover and regain his form if he even wants a spot in the rotation. Its entirely likely that Bowden starts the season in the bullpen, however Bowden is a far better talent than the fourth or fifth out of the bullpen type. Finally, Tazawa is likely headed back to AAA, though his late season work showed he is not terribly far from being able to play at the big league level. As always injuries will derail some of the plans, but clearly decisions and transactions need to occur. Add to that the realization that the team still has a wide open corner infield position, and clearly moves need to be made. (more…)
Lets get a few things out of the way:
1. I finally found my CubicleGM password after losing it for two weeks. Actually thats not true, just the rumor being spread across the Internets. I have spent my non-working hours a.) Journeying through The Wire for the second time - its far better the second time around and b.) Adding ads to our blog. When those ads are particularly interesting (or the content is) be sure to click on those ads.
2. I am fully aware that the MLB Winter Meetings are ongoing. I still haven’t rekindled the fire with my former love, baseball. That being said, I like yesterday’s Blockbuster 3 team trade involving the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks and most notably Curtis Granderson. Granderson is one of the brightest stars of the game in terms of marketability. He is charismatic, likable, and extremely well spoken. Patrolling centerfield for the Yankees will only provide him more time in the spotlight, which can only be good for MLB. However, after getting a few late night txts from MLB, I may be heading down the slippery slope of a full Winter Meeting review.
3. The BCS. Let me start by saying I consider myself a casual College Football fan. I’ll keep an eye on the top 10. I’ll check in on UVa each week. I’ll watch a Saturday Night ABC game out at a bar. I’ll know who is in the running for the Heisman. That’s about it. Late Sunday night I take a look at the BCS matchups and the first thought is BORING. (more…)
Editor’s Note: I continue my offseason goal of rekindling my proverbial flame with Major League Baseball. With
awards week upon us, I am fairly to hardly interested in the winners, mostly because none of the balloting should be very close. I was happy to see Zack Greinke win the Cy Young (that’s the one they give to the best pitcher in each league), but immediately annoyed/depressed that he could go 25-0 next season and not pitch one nationally televised game. My search continues; in the meantime you get NLF musings. Surely I am on the rebound.
As the resident/token New England writer around this Cubicle, I feel required to throw in my two cents on what surely must be the most debated single NFL coaching decision in the last [insert arbitrary number here] years.
“When playing a night road game in November, in a stadium with the roof closed, no less, to wear the cut-off hoodie, the cut off sans hoodie, or does one dare bust out the no cut-off non-hoodie [no picture available]??? Hmm, there are plusses and minuses to each – arm warmth, arm ventilation, neck strain (due to weight of the hoodie, obviously), neck ventilation (could wear turtleneck underneath), looking creepy… I can’t believe the media doesn’t understand how hard of a decision this is.”
“Excuse me Mr. Belichick, equipment dude only brought the cutoff sans hood variety…”
“Idiots, I work with idiots.”
Oh, right THE PLAY. Truly, everyone has weighed in. The Media Pundits (fool, idiot, etc.), the Former Players (terrible call, disrespecting the defense), the Former Coaches (have to punt there, no choice theorem), the Current Players (in Belichick we trust), the StatHeads (can’t criticize the call; at worst 50/50, but likely the right decision), the StatHead Haters (Hey stat heads, stop ruining our game and let the guys play it out on the field), TMQ (Belichick is the man), and everyone in between. In bullet point form, here are my thoughts:
I support the call wholeheartedly. I love the outside-the-box thinking that has been a mainstay of Belichick’s style. From purposely taking a safety against Denver to busting out the Wildcat before it was the Wildcat, he has always been trying new angles. I love that its still part of the style. (more…)
This post has been brewing for a while now, but I must admit I was just not that excited or motivated to write it.
Not excited as I have been a long time baseball fanboy. Not motivated as I am not usually the curmudgeon type. I’d rather focus my energy elsewhere. But alas due to contractual obligations to CubicleGM, I find myself in front of my computer, yet again bored by baseball.
These posts started in early September, when I found myself spending more time wondering if MLB would be more exciting if the Yankees and Red Sox played in their own division (I still contend, yes) than on the games themselves. Later in September I pleaded to be woken up when September ends as MLB was exceedingly boring during its penultimate month. As a distraction (an effort to disillusion myself from the reality), I posted my 6 Best Sports Rants (worth bookmarking if you are a fan of laughing) during baseball’s final week, rather than actually writing about anything playoff related as there were no storylines of interest. During the actual playoffs, I put out an astounding 2 posts. One post was actually about the World Series and the other article reminiscing the days of when baseball was fun.
Well the series is over and it wasn’t all that exciting. The Phillies lost the game that I wondered why they didn’t start Cliff Lee, found themselves down 3-1 and were finished off in game 6. The Yankees spent a fortune in the offseason on guys that for the most part are neither likable nor dislikable, and rode their spree to the championship.
Normally I’d be eagerly awaiting Spring Training and Opening Day – an annual changing of the seasons that ushers in Spring and Summer here on the Eastern seaboard. The Winter wheelings and dealings traditionally add great intrigue to the baseball offseason. Yet for some reason I don’t find myself yearning for pitchers and catchers to report to Florida and Arizona. I don’t find myself excited to see where the Free Agents (Lackey, Holliday, & Bay are the best free agents!!!!!) land, and am not checking ESPN by the minute for the latest trade gossip.
Why? Why? Why? That’s what I am trying to figure out. Is it simply a cyclical thing? After 10-15 years of excitement and intrigue was it just a matter of simple regression to the mean for a few years? Is it an unforeseen consequence of the steroid era? After years of unprecedented homeruns and glorification, was a letdown inevitable? Is it bad karma for baseball owners that made millions while turning a blind eye to needles in muscles? Is it me, not baseball? Am I growing up, no longer the kid that dreamt of playing MLB (I think that happened 15 years ago, but maybe not)? Am I becoming bored by the marathon that is the MLB season, in favor of the intense gratification that is an NFL Sunday? Is MLB’s Have’s vs. Have Not’s issue making it suck?
I don’t have the answer yet, but that’s my goal for this offseason. Hopefully come mid December I will be looking forward to seeing Youk and Pedroia in Fort Myers; Greinke in the Royals throwback babyblues; and Felix Hernandez continue his inevitable march towards a Cy Young award. In the meantime, I’m off to watch the Squared Sevens play the Ming Ding Xiong, aka 49ers vs Bears, for those that aren’t huge TMQ fans, one of the better weekly NFL columns.
While I was not entirely enthused about the World Series prior to Game 1, I have been pleasantly surprised early on with a fairly entertaining series. Game 1 provided a superb pitching matchup between Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia. Game 2 also provided a great pitcher’s duel, with Pedro and AJ Burnett going at it. Pedro couldn’t resist soaking up his moment in the spotlight in the biggest of stages, smirking as the Yankee faithful chanted “Who’s your daddy” as he exited, and later saying “If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here.” Burnett, however, was a touch better, leading the Yankees to a win and tying the series. After waiting out a 90+ minute rain delay last night, the Yankees knocked around ’08 postseason hero Cole Hamels, and rode a decent outing by Andy Pettitte to a 2-1 series lead.
That is where we find ourselves heading into tonight’s Game 4. After taking Game 1 and control of the series, the Phillies now find themselves in a VERY precarious situation, as a result of the horse-like load Sabathia is capable of handling and how careful the Phillies are being with Cliff Lee. Sabathia will start tonight on 3 days rest, and likely again in Game 7 on short rest. He has shown time and time again over the past several seasons that he can handle working on short rest. However, the Phillies have decided to start Joe Blanton tonight, rather than give the ball back to Cliff Lee who would obviously also be pitching on short rest. Lee has never pitched on short rest and thus has no track record. Even so, the Phillies will find themselves in an insurmountable whole if Blanton, who hasn’t pitched since October 19th (13 days), doesn’t put together a strong outing.
If it isn’t obvious, I’m not sure I agree with Charlie Manuel’s thinking here. The Yankees need to win 2 of the remaining 4 games in the series and have Sabathia starting 2 of them, along with Burnett and Pettitte who have both pitched serviceably in the Series. If the Yankees win tonight, the 3-1 whole with two games still to be played in New York is an almost impossibly whole to dig out of. Not only would the Phillies have to contend with Sabathia twice, they would also have Hamels starting game 7. Hamels has been less than reliable over the past month. Sure Lee has never proven he can pitch on 3 days rest, but why not at least give him the chance to outduel Sabathia tonight, give him a chance to be the ace that he is, and give him a chance get his team back in the series.
For those dedicated CubicleGM readers out there, once upon a time, circa 3 or 4 months ago CubicleGM regularly used to write articles, I’d dare even say interested articles, about baseball. Weird, huh? You remember those good old days? What happened to those good old days? Well, brothers Cloud joined the fray and Jacob Nitz to boot. But
mostly, MLB over the last 2+ months has been boring. (In a very related story, you remember when I actually used to write often on this blog?? MLB fanboy Gideon has been very quiet – a direct result of baseball being so damn boring. That and a bit busier at work, and the realization that having a social life can be exciting, but mostly just that MLB was boring). I really can’t think of any great story lines over the second half of the season. As I pointed out in mid September, the end of the regular season was lame. Sure the Twins and Tigers had a terribly played one game playoff where everyone knew they were exiting stage left at the hands of the Yankees later that week anyway, but otherwise, September was devoid of any fun.
The two best individual storylines were totally under-appreciated. Zach Greinke had a season for the ages, but playing for the Royals made sure most of the country never even had the chance to see him pitch this year. I’d even venture that many people think that after his absurd April he was actually pretty pedestrian the rest of the way. But in reality, he had 113 Ks in 102 innings after the All Star Break, to go along with his 2.21 ERA. Joe Mauer (for those of you unfamiliar with him, he is a catcher that plays for the Twins – they are an AL Central team from Minneapolis/St. Paul) had an absurdly good season as well. See my Wake Me Up When September Ends right up for how good it was. Alas, they were consistent, steady seasons that didn’t break any records, and didn’t make for great national media stories. As I wrote about back in the day, I think the steroids era made us expect records to be broken, year in and year out – no longer can we appreciate a .365, 28 HR season from a catcher.
On the team level, there were hardly any compelling stories either. The Rockies starting off atrociously, only to make a strong turn around and sneak into the playoffs. Yeah, that happened in ’07. There were no underdogs to root for, a la the ’03 Marlins, Cubs, & Red Sox, or the ’04 Red Sox, or the ’05 White Sox, or the ’08 Brewers, Rays, or Phillies, or even the A’s teams from ’01-’05. Who wants see a team that spent $400+ million last offseason trounce their way to the World Series? The Phillies dominating in October is so ’08. Even the once-loved underdog Red Sox lacked any sort of mojo. None of the playoff teams were compelling stories, and none of the series have been the least bit interesting.
Clearly I’m not bullish on the World Series. Unequivocally, I’m rooting for Pedro pitching 7 scoreless in Yankee Stadium, followed by him coming in relief of Cliff Lee in Game 7, again in NY to clinch the series. I honestly can’t really think of any other compelling story line, and this is the game I love.
Mostly just because I need one location where I can access my favorite sports rants from the last few years, below is a buffet, the best of the best, for your viewing pleasure. Your boss too focused on a non-issue? Boom – Iverson talking about practice. Some fool in the cubicle next to you dreaming of a promotion or a big bonus come December? Boom Jim Mora talking Playoffs? Some intern, or coworker from another department ruining your project? Boom Berman is for you. Being micromanaged? You’re a man, you’re a Director. Need any opportunity to remember the good old days of Denny Green or Kellen Winslow back at the U? Yeah you know what to do.
I’m A Man, I’m 40: