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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bruins are interviewing for their own jobs

Here's a brain buster. In 2 words or less, tell me what the Boston Bruins need. By the way, the answer isn't "Tyler Seguin." Because 100% of the teams currently in the NHL playoff picture lack Tyler Seguin, and 100% of the teams that have Tyler Seguin are outside of the playoffs. What the Bruins need are efficiency experts. Like the efficiency experts in Office Space, who made all the Initech employees interview for their own jobs. The Bruins, from the front office to the coaching staff, from the top line to the healthy scratches, need to answer the question "What would you say you do here?"

The Bruins have 9 games to prove that they deserve their jobs. And even after those 9 games, the B's might only postpone their being fired. Making the playoffs isn't enough evidence to keep this team intact. If this team doesn't make the playoffs, or if they're once again outclassed and overmatched in the playoffs, heads will roll.

So what would those efficiency experts ask Peter Chiarelli?

Why did you trade Johnny Boychuk? Why were you in so much cap trouble that you needed to trade Johnny Boychuk? Why didn't you hold out for more in return for Seguin? Why do you consistently fail to acquire targeted players at the deadline? Why did you let Shawn Thornton go without replacing him with another enforcer or anyone who could fight? What do Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson add to the team's overall toughness? Why does Chris Kelly have a $3 million cap number? Why can't you afford a legitimate backup goalie?

The Bruins mismanaged the cap for years. And very few of us (myself included) noticed it. In fact, most of us praised them for locking up their talent long-term. But what they were really doing was slowly signing themselves into a corner.

The B's haven't just spent unwisely, their philosophy of what it takes to build a winning team is outdated. They're still trying to win the 2011 Stanley Cup, even though it's 2015. The players have changed, the game has changed, the competition has changed. Tuukka Rask isn't as good of a goalie as Tim Thomas was in the 2011 playoffs. Few goalies are ever that good. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are 4 years older. And Mark Recchi is working for the Penguins. Everything has changed except the Bruins' approach. And that strategic stubbornness stems from the front office and extends to the man behind the bench.

To Claude Julien's interview with the efficiency experts...

Do the players listen to you? Do they do what you tell them to? Do you trust them? Why is Milan Lucic on cruise control 90% of the time? Why do the defensemen make so many mistakes? Why so many turnovers? Why does Bergeron shoot 7th in the shootout one night, then 1st another night?

Claude Julien's system is a good system. Claude Julien is a very good coach. But Julien's system and his coaching are no longer good fits for the Bruins. It happens. It happened with Terry Francona and the Red Sox. Julien was the right coach for 2011, but in 2015 the Bruins need to rebuild and reshape. Perhaps the Bruins could rebuild around Julien's system, but I don't see why that should be a necessity. There are other ways to win. Besides, Julien is no longer enough of a motivating force in the Bruins' locker room.

Now to the roster interviews...

Why have only 2 of you scored 20 goals? Why have only 4 of you scored 15? Why are only 2 of you in the top 100 in points? Why does Dennis freaking Wideman have more points than all but one of you?

Tuukka, why do you let in soft goals in big games?

Brad, does your antagonizing act still work, or does it just give opponents extra power plays? Why are you still acting like every team is as easily annoyed as the 2011 Vancouver Canucks? And why only 17 assists?

Milan, where's the fight? Where are the goals? Do you even have an identity anymore? Do you want to make an impact anymore? Why do you skate like Frankenstein's monster on valium?

Zdeno and Dennis, have you considered Florida for retirement? Lovely weather, no snow, and they have a hockey team with some fight. And they have Disney World down there. Better rides than Canobie Lake, Zdeno.

Torey and Dougie, how does it feel to be 2 of the best forwards on this team?

Adam, you're the third best defenseman on the roster. Isn't that scary?

Mr. Paille, why is it that when I see you have 6 goals, I'm shocked you have so many? Also, you're a defensive player, yet you're -9. Why? If you don't score, and you don't prevent goals, why are you here? Can't the scoring people score on their own? And can't the goal preventers prevent goals on their own?

Loui, why does Carl Soderberg need to be handcuffed to you for you to succeed? Does he go to the bathroom with you too? What about when you're in bed with your wife? Does he do work for you there too, Tyler Seguin style?

Carl, how many more goals would you and the team have if you didn't have to babysit Loui Eriksson?

Mr. Pastrnak, what does it feel like knowing that if you didn't miraculously show up mid-season, this team would be royally screwed? And what's it like being so young, yet so much more skilled than most of your teammates?

Chris, what's it like getting paid $500,000 per goal? Did you know at that rate, Alex Ovechkin would be making $23.5 million this year? Chris, what do you do here that couldn't be replaced by a 3rd or 4th line grinder who costs less than $1 million against the cap? What is it you'd say you do here?

This team has 9 games to provide answers to some of these questions. This team has 9 games to show it has a pulse.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When I win PowerBall tonight, these are the jerseys I will buy

The Powerball jackpot is over $500 million tonight. That's two A-Rod contracts! I bought one quick-pick ticket and the PowerBall number is 33. Since 33 is one of the most important numbers in Boston sports (right up there with 9, 8, 12, and 6), I'm pretty sure I'll win.

Obviously the first thing I'll do is buy a plane ticket out of this dismal snow entombed part of the world, but after that I will purchase and have made the ultimate collection of sports jerseys:

Bill Belichick, Annapolis High School football
If my memory serves me correctly, in A Football Life, Belichick wore #60 at Annapolis High. Of course I'll have to hire a researcher to verify this. Nothing is worse than a cool jersey ruined by inaccuracies. In Monterrey, California I asked a guy in a band wearing a #12 Michigan football jersey whose jersey he was wearing. He said Tom Brady. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Brady wore 10 at Michigan. If you're going to be obscure, be accurate.

Customized Patriots jersey, Number: 12.5, Name: PSI
Because I have a sense of humor.

Jamie O'Hara, Notre Dame football
Vince Vaughn's character in Rudy. The only way in hell I'd wear a Notre Dame jersey.

Tim Thomas, Jokerit Helsinki
The team Thomas played for during the 2004-05 lockout. It was one of many European stints in Thomas' career. And although not the most meaningful or successful of Thomas' Scandinavian exploits, Jokerit's court jester logo is just too ridiculously awesome.

Roberto Luongo, Quebec Nordiques
Unlike most Nordiques jerseys, this isn't a throwback. This is a throwFORWARD. Luongo is on the Florida Panthers, who might one day move to Quebec. This jersey won't honor the past, it will predict the future.

Julian Washington, Miami Sharks football
LL Cool J's character in Any Given Sunday. A Willie Beamen jersey would also be cool. I was going to have a Luther Lavay (Lawrence Taylor's character) jersey, but I'm seeing that those are available on eBay. When I'm a billionaire, I don't want to be wearing jerseys on the same level as some middle-aged Giants fan in Paramus, NJ.

Wade Boggs, Springfield Nuclear softball team
From The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat," which was one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time, one of the best set of sports guest stars on a TV show, and was the first time The Simpsons beat Cosby in the ratings.

Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn, Providence Grays
In 1884 Old Hoss Radbourn had a record of 59-12. He made 73 starts and had 73 complete games. He also had 2 saves. He threw 678.2 innings. He's a Hall of Famer, and currently has one of the funniest Twitter accounts out there. All the pictures I can find of him in a 20 second Google search are him wearing a Boston Beaneaters uniform. But his best year was in Providence for the Grays.

Mo Vaughn, Wareham Gatemen
Cape Cod League baseball has produced a massive amount of baseball talent, including Maurice Vaughn, who was one of the first sports stars in my life as a fan.

Neon Boudeaux, Western University basketball
Shaq's character in Blue Chips. They gave him a Lexus, he didn't want it.

Jackmerius Tacktheratrix, Michigan State football
Hingle McCringleberry, Penn State football
Mergatroid Skittle, Louisville football
The player formerly known as Mousecop, Missouri football
My favorite players from the Key and Peele football name skits. Obviously the name on the back of Mousecop's jersey would be the symbol. And maybe another jersey with "Mousecop" on the back, for the time before he changed his name to the symbol.

And there would be many, many more. Mostly obscure Red Sox players from the late 90s and early 00s. Butch Huskey. Morgan Burkhart, Pete Schourek, Rico Brogna, Hipolito Pichardo. I'd get each of Michael Bishop's CFL jerseys, and all of Rohan Davey's NFL Europe and Arena football jerseys. A Tom Glavine LA Kings jersey. All the Brady 6 quarterbacks. I'd probably squander all $500 million on sports jerseys.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Tom Brady's legacy cemented by the best Super Bowl win of his career

Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl Sunday night, along with his third Super Bowl MVP. He threw 4 touchdowns, which makes him the Super Bowl record holder with 13. Total completions, yards, attempts, completions in a game, all Super Bowl records now held by Tom Brady.

He's clearly the best quarterback of his era, and it's tough to argue against him as the greatest of all-time. The debate between Brady and Joe Montana would be like arguing who is the better President: Washington or Lincoln. It would be a matter of taste and preference, not of clear distinction. And whoever you thought was second best, would still deserve statues to their legacy, along with cities and high schools named after them. Can we change Vermont's name to Vertom? And change New Hampshire to New Bradyshire?

This was Brady's best Super Bowl performance. Not just because he threw 4 touchdowns. Not just because he had two touchdown drives in the 4th quarter. Not just because he threw 300+ yards. It was his best because he did it against an elite defense, and because his team needed him to do it. The Pats couldn't run the ball, the defense was giving up big plays, Brady needed to have the 4th quarter of a lifetime for his team to win. And he did.

In the 4th Brady was the most clutch he has ever been in his career. Never has winning hinged so much on his actions than it did in the final 15 minutes of this Super Bowl, and he answered the call. He was 13 for 15 in the 4th, for 126 yards. He was perfect on the game-winning drive (8 for 8). There was even a sack and a penalty thrown in to make his task more difficult, and he still came through.

He would not be denied.

Four rings, 3 Super Bowl MVPs, 21 playoff wins. To match Brady, just think of the mountain that good young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson must climb. Luck is 25 and has 3 playoff wins and no rings yet. So he needs 4 rings, 3 Super Bowl MVPs, and 18 more playoff wins to match Brady. Rodgers is 31. He needs 3 more rings, 2 more SB MVPs, and 14 more wins in the playoffs. Wilson is 26, needs 3 more rings, 3 Super Bowl MVPs, and 15 more playoff wins.

Good luck, guys.

No more "what ifs" or "if onlys" for Brady. All the questions have been answered. All the doubters silenced. Brady is the best in the game. The best today, the best in the past 20 years, and perhaps the best of all-time.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports


The Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl with one of the most exciting finishes to a sporting event I've ever seen. To go from feeling defeated and deflated (pun intended) as the Pats were about to lose another Super Bowl in heartbreaking fashion, to sheer elation as Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson in the end zone, was a feeling I will never forget. I've never transitioned from sitting quietly to jumping up and down and screaming more quickly in my life. From despair to ecstasy in the span of a heartbeat.

We're on to the duckboats!

Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time. Many have argued that Julian Edelman should have won, but Brady's performance was much more critical than anyone else's. Especially since the Pats struggled to run the ball (21 of the team's 22 first downs were in the air). The 2 interceptions were his fault, but they also showed how much the game turned on every decision he made. Brady had to be great for the Pats to win, and he was.

Despite the picks, Brady had an MVP caliber night. He threw 4 TDs and for 300+ yards against the Legion of Boom. In the 4th quarter he orchestrated back-to-back touchdown drives. He was 13 of 15 in the 4th for 124 yards and a 140.7 passer rating. And on the game-winning drive he was 8 for 8 for 65 yards. When his team needed greatness, Brady delivered.

This was the most clutch performance of Tom Brady's career, and that's saying something.

What about Malcolm Butler though? What about Malcolm in the middle? What about Malcolm B, by any means necessary? What about chaos theory with Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park? As the Seahawks lined up to snap the ball on the 1 yard line and the clock ticked down, I was dreading sports radio and the Monday morning coaches that would be hammering Belichick for not allowing the Seahawks to score or not taking a timeout. Then an undrafted free agent from West Alabama sniffed out the play, attacked the ball, and won the game.

An undrafted corner out of a D-2 school makes a play that wins the game, so that the QB taken in the 6th round can win the MVP, while many argue that a 7th round receiver should have won it. That's how the Patriots do things.

All of the Patriots players showed up with good and great games. Julian Edelman with his 9 catches, 109 tough yards, and a score. Rob Gronkowski with 68 yards and a TD. Danny Amendola fought for all 48 of his yards, and also scored. Brandon LaFell with a touchdown as well. Shane Vereen caught 11 passes (the Seahawks as a team caught 12). And the much doubted offensive line protected Brady.

The defense did their job in the 4th quarter. The Patriots punted with 14:17 left, down 10 points, and crucially the defense forced a three and out (Lynch run for 2, Lynch run for 1, Wilson sacked by Ninkovich for -8). Brady and the offense then scored a touchdown. After another three and out, Brady and the offense scored another touchdown. Seattle's first two drives of the 4th took a mere 3:10 off the clock. Which gave Brady and the offense plenty of time.

The defense almost blew it in the end. Another freak catch in the Arizona desert. But Malcolm Butler saved the day.

It was an awful play call by Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevil. And Pete Carroll should have vetoed it. It was also a poor pass by Russell Wilson. All that being said, Malcolm Butler made one hell of a play. He saw the receivers setting up the pick, he attacked the ball, he beat his man to the spot and won position, then he held on to the ball.

Can you imagine Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the 9th, down by 3 runs, and a rookie hits a Grand Slam? Because that's what Malcolm Butler did.

Love or hate the Patriots, you have to admit that when the Pats are in the Super Bowl you'll be entertained. All 6 of their Super Bowls with Brady and Belichick have been instant classics. This one might be the best.

I remember about 10 years ago Tom Brady was asked which one of his Super Bowl wins was his favorite. His answer was "The next one." He and the Patriots have finally won that next one.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Bowl thoughts and predictions (I compare Belichick to Churchill)

I'm writing this at 4 in the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. It's not that I can't sleep, I don't want to sleep. I can't tell if I'm buzzed, or groggy, or a mellow mixture of both. But I'm sure of the mellowness, which is rare for me.

Seven years ago, as I anxiously anticipated the Patriots meeting the Giants in Super Bowl XLII and perhaps the completion a flawless season, I remember not being able to sleep, and sending texts to my older brother, quoting Shakespeare's Henry V (Roman numeral overload). In that play there's a scene of French commanders conversing on the eve of battle, excited to destroy the small number of underfed and under-equipped English soldiers that stood against them in what would be known as the Battle of Agincourt. And I felt like those eager French. "Would it were day!" In one of history's greatest upsets, the outnumbered, exhausted, and poorly equipped English utterly destroyed the French army in that battle. It was the equivalent of a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament beating a 1 by 40 points, and then continuing to win the whole damn tournament. Similarly, the underdog Giants beat the mighty Patriots.

This feels different. The Patriots are not overwhelming favorites. They face a formidable defense that will not give an inch without a fight. In terms of historical conflicts, this actually reminds me more of the D-Day landings of 1944 in Normandy (and no, I'm not comparing the Seahawks to the Nazis). Like the Allies on the eve of D-Day, I don't know how it will end, but I'm confident that the generals and the soldiers have done all they could to prepare and will do their jobs when the moment comes. We can only wait and watch how it plays out.

I'm more relaxed than I was 8 years ago. Less anxiety, less nervousness. The game starts in 14 and a half hours as I write this, and I'm more concerned about what beer to bring to the party I'm going to. Do I want just Sam Adams, or a mix of some lighter beers? And this is not because I take the opponent lightly, but because there's nothing to think about except the beer. These two teams will decide matters on the field, not in the brains of pundits and "experts,." And certainly the worries and hopes in the arena of my brain won't be able to determine the winner.

Those "experts" by the way, some of whom have been gushing over how amazing Seattle is, completely underestimated them last year against the Broncos. What kind of judge of quality or character are they? In their minds, the Broncos have won 2 of 3 Super Bowls, and the 49ers won the other. The same team they wrote off last year is an unstoppable juggernaut today. The dumbest people in the world are the ones who don't realize what they don't know. And many of those people join the media.

The Patriots have two key advantages in the upcoming game: special teams and Bill Belichick.

The Seahawks are not very good at covering punts. The Patriots have an exceptional punt returner in Julian Edelman. A big return from him could prove to be the difference in the game. A couple of solid 10+ yard returns from him could sway the field position battle in New England's favor. This area is one of the few matchups that either team has a decided advantage over the other.

The other advantage is Belichick. The D-Day invasion was meticulously planned. It involved the coordination of thousands of troops landing in dozens of places, ships and planes bombarding defensive positions, airborne troops landing behind enemy lines to cause disruption (shout out to the 101st Airborne, the unit my brother served in). That was a massive logistical undertaking. There was also a heavy dose of guile and deception, as the Allies were able to convince the Germans that the invasion would take place at the Pas-de-Calais, about 200 miles northeast of Normandy.

Hmmmm, guile and deception. Remind you of any NFL head coaches?

And in risk of hyperbole, wasn't Bill Belichick's "We're on to Cincinnati" press conference the type of simple yet stirring eloquence that Winston Churchill might employ? When the Germans forced the British to evacuate France at Dunkirk in 1940, Churchill might as well have said "We're on to the Battle of Britain," or "We're on to North Africa."

Those 4 words repeated by Belichick helped turn the tide of the season.

These teams are both so good and so tough, wouldn't it be great to see them play a best-of-5 series? Sadly, we only get to enjoy a single game between these very worth adversaries. Only 60 minutes of football. Every small edge will need to be exploited, every opportunity taken advantage of.

I think the Pats make a big special teams play. I think Brady and the offense will have trouble scoring lots of points, but will do their job in the field position game, with the occasional touchdown and field goal. And I think the Seahawks receivers against the Patriots secondary is a favorable matchup for the Pats. The Seahawks won't score many points either.

Patriots win 23-20.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Patriots-Seahawks Drinking Game: Super Bowl XLIX Edition

The Super Bowl is here at last. All that DeflateGate talk actually made the two week wait fly by. And here we are. All the practices, all the roster decisions, all the pain, all the regular season games, it all comes down to 60 minutes of football. And for us fans, 4+ hourss of intense drinking. Here's a drinking game to play while watching Super Bowl XLIX. Remember to get lubed up responsibly, and designate a driver to take you to the hospital and/or morgue.

Anytime a commentator says:
"Deflate" = take 1 drink of beer
"Gate" = 1 drink
"Pressure" = 1 drink
"PSI" = 1 drink
"(in)eligible" = 1 drink
"Controversy" = 1 drink
"Super" = 1 drink
"Legacy" = 1 drink
"Dynasty" = 1 drink
"Wilson" = 1 drink
A name that ends in "-ski" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Belichick" = 1 drink
"Job" = 1 drink
"Carroll" = 1 drink
"Glendale" = 1 drink (those named Glen or Dale can command others to drink until the next commercial)
"Al" = 1 drink
"Cris" = 1 drink
"Michelle" = 1 drink

Anytime this happens:
Penalty = 1 drink
Penalty on Brandon Browner = 1 drink, 1 shot of liquor
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff/punt return = drink for the entire return
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink (if drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade, you can command others to drink until the next commercial)
Brady says "Alpha milk" = 1 drink (if drinking a White Russian, you can command others to drink until the start of the next quarter)
Brady says a word that starts with "F" = 1 drink
Brady says a word that ends with "-uck" = 1 drink
Russell Wilson leaves the pocket = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
The Patriots throw short (5 yards and under) = 1 drink
Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman are compared = drink for 24 seconds
Pete Carroll claps = 1 drink per clap
Bill Belichick folds his arms = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski spikes the ball = finish your beer, spike it (bonus points for spiking a glass bottle)
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces/recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork scores a touchdown = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat 1 turkey leg
Danny Amendola celebrates with his teammates = 1 drink
The Patriots block a punt/kick = drink an entire beer, then 1 shot (2 shots if returned for a TD)
Someone in the room makes a joke about Katy Perry's breasts being properly inflated = 2 drinks

Anytime this is on screen:
A ballboy or where the footballs are stored = 1 drink
A Roman numeral = 1 drink (if drinking Dos Equis or Molson XXX, you can command others to drink until the next commercial)
The number 12 (including in the crowd, and on the clock and scoreboard) = 1 drink
A trophy or representation of a trophy = 1 drink
The word "Wilson" (on jerseys AND on footballs) = 1 drink
Macklemore = 1 shot
Any other celebrity = 1 drink
Highlights from previous Super Bowls = drink for the entirety of the highlight
A graphic of coaching achievements = 1 shot
A graphic of Tom Brady's achievements = drink for 12 seconds
Michelle Tafoya = 1 shot
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
A cactus or anything else from the desert = 1 drink
A promo for other NBC programs = 1 drink
Starbucks logo = 1 drink from a Dunkin Donuts cup filled with ice coffee and Bailey's

Illustration by Linzi Silverman

Anytime you:
Hold in a piss = 1 drink per play and/or commercial you hold it in
Root against the team you like so you can win a square = 1 drink
Don't think a commercial is funny even though it tried to be = 1 drink
Pretend it's an accident that you switched the channel to Puppy Bowl = 1 drink
Endure listening to Katy Perry because of boobage = 1 drink
Claim to be a Lenny Kravitz fan but you want to watch Katy Perry = 1 shot
Wish Celebrity DeathMatch was still around and still did halftime shows = 1 drink, then imagine Kravitz fighting Katy Perry and all the claymated hilarity that would ensue

Bonus commercial and halftime drinking game:
Peyton Manning = drink for 18 seconds (if eating chicken parm, you can command others to drink until the next time Manning appears)
Danica Patrick = 1 drink
A ridiculously hot woman eating junk food = 1 drink (if you are a ridiculously hot woman eating junk food, you can command others to drink until the end of the game, but you could pretty much do that anyways)
Cleavage = 1 drink per cleaved boob
Lip-syncing = 1 shot per artist
Sunglasses = 1 drink
A horse = 1 drink per horse
A dog = 1 drink per dog (mega bonus points if you do this while watching Puppy Bowl, you crazy bastard)
The price of a car = 1 drink
Beer = 1 drink per beer

So that's the game. Make sure you call in sick for work on Monday, and to be safe might as well take Tuesday off as well. Also make sure your last will and testament is in order along with funeral arrangements and organ donation stuff (the ruined liver could be donated to science).

Enjoy playing the game while watching the game, do your job and get lubed up responsibly, don't drink and drive or else Vince Wilfork might have to pull you out of your car, and go Patriots!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Patriots Super Bowl win would be an exclamation point on Boston's Age of Being Wicked Awesome

The Patriots play the Seahawks Sunday, 15 months and 2 days after the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series. That's 459 days. It's been 15 months since we've had a championship parade in this town.

It's been a nice century to be a Boston fan. I call it The Age of Being Wicked Awesome. Since 2001 we've seen the local teams win 8 championships (once every 22.5 months). They've appeared in the finals 13 times, and the semi-finals 20 times. Our 4 teams have qualified for the postseason 39 times, an average of 2.8 per year. And we as fans have been fortunate enough to enjoy our teams participating in 86 different rounds of playoff competition (6.1 per year).

It's really amazing. Especially for a fan like me, who was born in 1984, and came of age as a Boston fan in the lean 1990s. That decade saw Sox fans go nuts over winning the AL East in 1995, as if that were an amazing achievement. I remember watching the celebration on TV and asking my parents if the Red Sox had won the World Series. And if not, why was everyone so happy and why was Mo Vaughn riding a horse?

Three Cleveland Indians wins later and the 1995 season was over.

Boston also had a rally for the 1999 Sox because they won a playoff series. And even more embarrassing was June of 2001 when the City rallied to celebrate Ray Bourque winning a Stanley Cup in Colorado. The 1990s was the only decade in the 20th century that did not see a Boston team winning a championship.

Then Tom Brady and Bill Belichick came. Then new owners for the Red Sox came. Then an NHL salary cap came. Then Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came. And the glory years began. The most glorious of glories came in 2004. The Patriots won the Super Bowl on February 1st of that year. Then the Red Sox broke the Curse and won the World Series on October 27. The Patriots won 21 games in a row, then won another Super Bowl in February of 2005.

Fourteen years. Three Super Bowls, three World Series, a Stanley Cup, and an NBA title. How many championship DVDs do you have in your collection? How many hats and t-shirts? How many hours have we been able to get together and watch great teams play playoff football/baseball/hockey/basketball?

Brady, Belichick, Pedro, Schilling, Papi, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rivers. David Roberts' steal, Adam Vinatieri's kicks, Tim Thomas' saves.

"All glory is fleeting." That's not a Debbie Downer warning. It's a reminder to have fun when fun things happen. It's a reminder to enjoy life when you can, because we don't know when there will be times like these again.

The Celtics are trying desperately to build a contending roster, so far with little to show for it. The Bruins have salary cap issues. The Red Sox are rebuilding. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are getting old. These joyous times might soon be coming to an end.

I'm not saying teams here won't win championships again, but this unprecedented ringfest seems like it might soon be simmering down. So hopefully the Patriots will win on Sunday, and put an exclamation point on this era. It seems fitting, as it was the Patriots in 2001 who initiated this Age of Being Wicked Awesome.

Photo Credit: Hans Gissinger for ESPN The Magazine

Why did the NFL wait until the Super Bowl to change how ineligible receivers are announced?

The Patriots used ineligible receivers and deceptive formations to defeat the Ravens in the Divisional Round, almost 3 full weeks ago. In immediate response to that, the League defended the legality of the Patriots' actions and did nothing to adjust the mechanics of officials for the AFC Championship game. Then DeflateGate happened. Then the NFL decided to make an adjustment to how ineligibles are announced. Odd, isn't it?

I have no issue with the League helping to clarify to the defense who is eligible and who is ineligible. I've heard Bill Belichick himself explain to media that it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to clearly hear what refs announce over stadium PA systems when you're on field level with 70,000 people screaming. So if the NFL wants to help the defense do their job, then so be it. Makes perfect sense.

What's odd is that there was no adjustment made for the conference championship games. And that the adjustment comes as the Patriots and the NFL find themselves in an adversarial position.

I'm not suggesting an anti-Patriots conspiracy in the aftermath of DeflateGate. But I do think DeflateGate might be a partial motivator of this change. The NFL wants this game on Sunday to be perceived to be as honest and clean as possible. While Belichick's ineligible trickery was within the rules, it worked because it was deceptive. In the wake of DeflateGate, the NFL might feel pressured (pun intended) to try to make the game appear to be as least deceptive as possible.

It's just so odd that this change wasn't made for the AFC and NFC title games. And that the League didn't wait until next season to implement it.

I'm trying to avoid jumping to conclusions, as everyone in sports media has been doing the last 2 weeks about Deflate Gate. I just wish/hope a reporter who has more access to decision-makers and league officials, can find it in themselves to ask the questions: Why now? Why not in the conference title games? If not in those games, why not next season?

I'm also very curious to know exactly when the NFL informed the Patriots and Seahawks about this new way of doing things. Was it before the teams started practicing for the Super Bowl? Or after? The answer to that question could either completely squash my interest in the subject, or intensify it. If the NFL told the teams early last week, then I'd accept that as fair and reasonable. But if it waited until the teams were in Arizona, and had already finished game-planning for the other, I'd question the timing.

There are few things in the Universe more annoying than a Patriots fan who is also a conspiracy theorist. The team here has won 3 rings, got caught cheating, and has still been close to winning a few more times, so whining and complaining should be kept to a minimum at all times. If the Pats lose on Sunday, I won't cry like the fans of so many other teams (See: Raiders). But the fact that the NFL decided to change how the officials announce eligible and ineligible receivers on the eve of the Super Bowl, and NOT for the AFC and NFC title games, strikes me as very odd.

Unlike some professional sports media in some recent stories, this amateur blogger won't jump to conclusions. Right now, I just have questions.

Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo