International Roadtrip – NHL Playoff Style

Bruins-CanadiensBoston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens. If you’re reading this website you probably don’t need to be told what that means but just in case, I’ll sum it up for you in three sentences: We hate them. They hate us. This is going to be awesome.

After opening up with the first two games in Boston, the series heads north of the border for games three and four on Tuesday, May 6th and Thursday May 8th. If a game six becomes necessary it will be back in Montreal on Monday May 12th.

Our boys could use the support for those road games and seeing how Montreal is just a five-hour drive from Boston, the circumstances make for a perfect guys’ getaway. If you’re going, here’s a guide for what to do, where to go and what to bring.

What to do: Drink Good Beer

Where to go: The Dieu du Ciel! is one of the most popular microbreweries in a city that loves its microbreweries.

What to bring: Your liver.

What to do: Go to a strip club

Where to go: Montreal is known for two things: Habs hockeyand strip clubs. There are hundreds, but here are four of the more popular places with all the details.

What to bring: Canadian currency. The Canadian dollar comes in both bill and coin form, giving you the option of making it rain or hail.

What to do: Gamble

Where to go: The Casino de Montreal has tables for poker, blackjack, keno, baccarat, craps and roulette plus slot machines.

What to bring: A poker strategy guide and this (although the dealers may not be too fond of it).

What to do: Eat Poutine.This local cuisine is poutine, a hot mess of french fries, gravy and cheese curds.

Where to go: If you’r looking for poutine, La Banquise is the place to do it.

What to bring: An empty stomach and an open mind.

What to do: Ice skating

Where to go: C’mon, this is hockey playoffs! Get in the spirit and lace ‘em up at Atrium Le 1000, located in Montreal’s tallest building.

What to bring: Your Bruins jersey and skates (although rentals are offered).

Oh, and don’t forget your passport. You might need that too. Go Bruins!

Red Sox Return to Baseball’s Fall Classic

Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Pennants and Playoffs: The Boston Red Sox have clinched the American League East division title for the first time since 2007 and will make their first post-season appearance since 2009. At 95-62 (as of September 23rd) the Red Sox continue to hold the M-L-B’s best overall record as well as a league leading home record of 53-28.

The Sox also top the majors in nearly every batting statistic. Boston is in first place in total runs with 812 and slugging percentage with a .443 average, meanwhile the Sox rank second in the league for batting average with a .275 and on-base-percentage with a .348.

On a pitching end, Boston’s staff remains rock solid ranking in the top ten or higher in two of the four major statistical categories. Currently the Sox hurlers rank third in the league in quality starts with 94, eighth in the majors with a batting average against of .246, 11th in ERA with a 3.72, and 13th in WHIP posting a 1.29.

With just a few games left in the 2013 regular season, Manager John Farrell has been hard at work finalizing the 25 man roster for October play, so let’s take a look at who will likely make the cut, and what’s in store for the bearded beasts of the east.

Picture Courtesy of ESPN.com

Fall Ball: Here’s a rundown of what the Red Sox 25 man roster should look like once the playoffs begin: (roster information is accurate as of September 23rd according to 25manrosters.com)

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

C David Ross

C Ryan Lavarnway

DH David Ortiz

IF Dustin Pedroia

IF Mike Napoli

IF Stephen Drew

IF Will Middlebrooks

IF John McDonald

IF Brock Holt

IF Xander Bogaerts

OF Jacoby Ellsbury

OF Sahne Victorino

OF Jonny Gomes 

OF Daniel Nava

OF Mike Carp

OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

OF Quintin Berry

P Clay Bucholz

P Jon Lester

P Ryan Dempster

P John Lackey

P Jake Peavy

P Koji Uehara

P Junichi Tazawa

P Brandon Workman

P Allen Webster

P Franklin Morales

P Craig Breslow

P Matt Thornton

P Steven Wright

P Felix Doubront

P Rubby De La Rosa

P Brayan Villareal

P Drake Britton

The list above contains 36 players, meaning 11 of them will not make the cut. The obvious choices of Ortiz, Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, Ellsbury, Victorino, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Nava, Ross, and Carp come as no surprise to anyone. However, with Farrell wishing to carry 11 pitchers in to the post-season, (according to ESPN.com/Boston) who he deems worthy of the final two position-player spots will be interesting.

With De La Rosa, Wright, Britton, Villareal, Webster, and Doubront all likely being left out of Farrell’ 11 man pitching posse, and Holt, Snyder, and Lavarnway missing the positon-player party, this leaves four players fighting for those final two spots: Bradley Jr. vs. Berry and McDonald vs. Bogaerts.

As far as who Farrell will choose, this has yet to be determined, but it’s really just a matter of choosing which type of role player the Red Sox will need.

In the Bradley Jr. vs. Berry case, it’s quite simple, Farrell will pick Bradley Jr. because of his defensive skills and potential plate presence to sure up the outfiled, or go with Berry becasue of his base speed and glove work. Either way the Sox will have a solid player added to the 25-man roster.

Then in the case of McDonald vs. Bogaerts, Farrell has the choice between the more seasoned McDonald, or the up-and-coming Bogaerts who has turned heads with his defensive work on the left-side of the field. Again, like with Bradley Jr. vs. Berry, either way Farrell goes, Boston will have a deep depth chart on the left side of the plate defensively.

Picture Courtesy of boards.sportslogos.net

Final Thoughts:

Given the surprise success the Red Sox have had this season, it would not be farfetched to say that this year’s squad has what it takes to storm into the World Series and walk away as the winter classic champions. While the A-L competition will be fierce with the likes of the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers standing in their way, history may repeat itself this post-season.

The last time the Boston Red Sox won the A-L East (2007) they went on to win the World Series Sweeping the surprising N-L Pennant winning Colorado Rockies. How far do you think Boston will go this October? Leave a comment below.

Selfish

The “cool” thing to do the past couple of seasons has been to take pay cuts in order to build a team that can contend. LeBron did, Bosh did (even though he does not deserve what he makes now), Wade did it, Garnett did it, and Tim Duncan did it. Even Dirk offered to do it, but no one wants to take him up on it. Kobe Bryant’s salary next season is going to be worth a total of $30.45 million and he won’t take a cut. He said the following to Lakers Nation:

I’m not taking any at all — that’s the negotiation that you have to have.For me to sit here and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m just going to take a huge pay cut. Nah, I’m going to try to get as much as I possibly can.”

I mean, how much money does this guy need? He already has to be one of the richest around, and he’s about to play for a team that is too scared to rebuild and that will fight to make a playoff spot since Howard bolted. This guy is selfish and deserves every single loss that is coming to him. Lakers suck, so does Kobe.

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New Look to the NBA Landscape

Picture Courtesy of ranklogos.com

Out with the Old in with the New: It’s hard to believe, but in just two years time the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and many more long-time NBA veterans, will all be gone from the game. Yes, some of the leagues brightest stars will soon burn out by way of retirement.

This means the NBA’s landscape will look a bit different moving forward, and just as Doc Rivers was the first domino to fall in the C’s rebuilding scheme, so to is Dwight Howard’s decision this Friday for re-shaping the scene of league. For now, it’s still unclear exactly how the league will look moving forward. However, next year’s NBA off-season will provide all the answers to the burning questions from basketball fans everywhere.

It’s July 1st, 2014…and NBA superstars, stars, and role players alike hit up the free agency market harder than little kids do the local ice cream truck in the summer time. General Managers salivate of these sultry stars, the way a wild animal would over a piece of fresh meat. All at once these players leave their teams faster than horses out of the gates at the Kentucky Derby; for bigger endorsement deals, fatter contracts, and the chance to win a championship.

Sounds like an absolute free-for-all brawl between any and every team with a winner takes all result, right? Not exactly.

Yes, the free-agent-frenzy that will be the summer of 2014 will be an exciting one. However, most of those role players will be re-signed before they ever have a chance to change teams, and some of those stars will continue to shine above the skylines of their respective cities. Nevertheless, there will still be more than a few big names that could send shockwaves down the spine of the new look NBA. Here’s a list of some of the free agents who could shake things up during the summer of 2014:

(Note this is NOT a complete list of the 2014 NBA free agents. Also these scenarios are solely based on what if scenarios, NOT actual salary cap or contract numbers. Furthermore, some of the veterans mentioned in the opening of this post are also free agents and will be accounted for in the following fictitious rosters)

LeBron James will head a deep 2014 Free Agency Pool. Picture Courtesy of nb.si.com

Future Free Agents:

Point Guards                                         Shooting Guards 

Kyrie Irving                                                 Dwyane Wade

John Wall                                                 Thabo Sefolosha

Eric Bledsoe                                              Klay Thompson

Damian Lillard                                           Iman Shumpert

Small Forwards                                      Power Forwards

LeBron James                                         Amar’e Stoudemire

Carmelo Anthony                                        Zach Randolph

Danny Granger                                             Dirk Nowitzki

Kawhi Leonard                                               Pau Gasol

                                     Centers      

Chris Bosh

DeMarcus Cousins

Anderson Varejao

It was hard to determine an appropriate amount of team rosters to re-arrange for this post, but I settled on six. The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers will all likely have both the cap space and room on their rosters to make major moves. Let’s take a look at what some of their lineups could look like starting with the Heat:

The Heat Re-Sign Everyone                         Heat Re-Sign Big 3 + Kyrie Irving

PG Mario Chalmers                                          PG Kyrie Irving

SG Dwyane Wade                                            SG Dwyane Wade

SF LeBron James                                             SF LeBron James

PF Udonis Haslem                                            PF Udonis Haslem

C Chris Bosh                                                      C Chris Bosh

As you can see there isn’t really much that the Heat absolutely needs. However, if they could steal Irving away from Cleveland (oh how Dan Gilberts blood would boil) that’s about as good as it gets in South Beach.

For Tony Parker and Co. time is ticking. Picture Courtesy of nj.com

San Antonio Spurs

 Big 3 Stay On + Leonard                      Big 3 Retire, Sign Z-Bo, Leonard, Lillard

 

SG Danny Green/ Manu Ginobli                     SG Danny Green

SF Kawhi Leonard                                          SF Kawhi Leonard

PF Tim Duncan                                               PF Zach Randolph

C Tiago Splitter                                                C Tiago Splitter

While it will be sad to see the trio of Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli go, the Spurs will have to invest during the summer of 2014 if they wish to stay competitive in the west. Landing the likes of Z-Bo and Lillard, plus resigning Leonard would be a great start.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Re-Sign Sefolosha Stay Put                              Sign Thompson to Switch it Up

PG Russell Westbrook                                               PG Russell Westbrook

SG Thabo Sefolosha                                                 SG Klay Thompson

SF Kevin Durant                                                         SF Kevin Durant

PF Serge Ilbaka                                                           PF Serge Ilbaka

C Kendric Perkins                                                        C Kendrick Perkins

Like the Heat, the Thunder don’t need to tinker too much with their roster. However, OKC may choose to move Perkins and opt for other players or draft picks to help sure up what should be a very bright future. A Perkins trade could lead to the Thunder being bold and shifting Ilbaka to center and signing Dirk Nowitzki to give them a seasoned vet to go along with great young talent. However, I foresee Dirk retiring in Dallas at the end of the day.

Los Angeles Clippers

Stay Put, Add Role Players                                 Go Crazy Add Anthony, Bledsoe

PG Chris Paul                                                         PG Chris Paul

SG J.J. Redick                                                        SG Eric Bledsoe

SF Matt Barnes                                                       SF Carmelo Anthony

PF Blake Griffin                                                       PF Blake Griffin

C DeAndre Jordan                                                   C DeAndre Jordan

The Los Angeles Clippers are a few pieces away from having a title team on their hands. Maybe they add the likes of Anderson Varejao or a Danny Granger as I doubt Anthony will be willing to pack up and head west. It may, however, not be a bad idea to bring back Bledsoe if they can.

New York Knicks

Keep Melo/Amar’e, Add Irving                        Keep Melo/Amar’e/Shumpert Add Wall

PG Kyrie Irving                                                          PG John Wall

SG Pablo Prigioni                                                     SG Iman Shumpert

SF Carmelo Anthony                                                SF Carmelo Anthony

PF Amar’e Stoudemire                                             PF Amar’e Stoudemire

C Tyson Chandler                                                    C Tyson Chandler

For the New York Knicks, keeping Melo and Amar’e while adding either Irving or Wall would give them something they haven’t had in quite some time, a “true” point guard. Of course whether or not they would have the cap space to land all of the above.

The Bad news for Kobe, he only has a one or two good seasons left. The Good news is that he probably won’t have to put up with Howard any longer. Picture Courtesy of nydailynews.com

Los Angeles Lakers

Keep Kobe, Pau, Howard Add Bledsoe      Keep Kobe, Pau, Add Bledsoe, Cousins

PG Eric Bledsoe                                               PG Eric Bledsoe

SG Kobe Bryant                                               SG Kobe Bryant

SF Metta World Peace                                    SF Metta World Peace

PF Pau Gasol                                                  PF Pau Gasol

C Dwight Howard                                             C DeMarcus Cousins

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to lose D12 by this Friday, and will be lucky to squeeze another season out of Bryant after next year is through. However, LA may be able to add a few key players next off-season in the form of Bledsoe and Cousins if they are available. If nothing else the Lakers could rebuild around those two and role players.

Final Thoughts: Of course all of this is just a rough idea of the change to come in the NBA. Nevertheless, a new era of basketball is upon us, and whatever happens, it’s going to be big.

The 2013 Boston Red Sox are For Real

Believe in Boston: The Boston Red Sox have been nothing short of the “Real Deal” this season. At 50-34 (as of July 1st) and in first place atop the American League East by two-and a half games, Boston has been both surprising and sensational to say the least. The Sox went 6-4 to close out the month of June and look poised to have a strong finish to the first half of the season. So, for those of you Sox fans still waiting for the wheels to fall off…you can stop worrying about those wheels, and start enjoying the wins.

Shane Victorino getting mobbed by Big Papi and Co. after a walk off win against Toronto recently. Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Boston currently owns the third best record in the MLB and ranks first in both total runs (431) and on-base-percentage (.349), as well as second in batting average (.274) and slugging percentage (.444). Those numbers at the plate puts the Red Sox first overall in the MLB for team batting. Another impressive batting statistic for Boston, the Sox also rank first in the MLB for RBI with 420.

From a pitching end the Red Sox starters and bullpen rank among the middle of the pack in the MLB at 14th overall with a team ERA of 3.91. On a positive pitching note though, the Sox rank second in the MLB for strikeouts with 710.

Seeing Stars: With a well deserved All-Star break two weeks away, there are a few team members from Boston who will likely be spending that break in the “Big Apple”. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all receiving a good volume of votes to play at Citi Field on July 16th in New York for the 2013 All-Star Game.

As of July 1st “Big Papi” appears to be a lock to play for the American League All-Stars as their designated hitter with 4,398,197  votes already cast for Ortiz. Meanwhile, Pedroia ranks second in the voting polls for second base with 2,838,129 votes. Pedroia is currently behind New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano who has 3,974,322 votes. Worst case scenario, he makes the ASG as a reserve for the AL.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have been a big part of Boston’s success. The powerful pair will likely see playing time in the 2013 All-Star Game on July 16th at Citi Field in New York. Picture Courtesy of http://www.metro.us

As for Ellsbury, he’ll need a little bit more help in the voting polls. Only six outfielders can make the ASG roster for the AL. Ellsbury currently ranks eighth in the voting results with 1,751, 022 votes, ranking him behind Baltimore Orioles OF Nate Mclouth with  2,169,772 votes, and Texas Rangers OF Nelson Cruz who has 2,258,797 votes.

Honorable Mention: Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has pitched beautifully for Boston so far this season. In 12 starts Buchholz has posted a 9-0 win-loss record, a sparkling 1.71 ERA with a mere 1.02 WHIP, and 81 strike outs. Unfortunately, he is still on Boston’s 15-day disabled list with a sore trapezius muscle in his neck, as well as an inflammation in his pitching shoulder according to ESPN.com. Meaning he will likely be left out of this year’s ASG.
A Promising Pen: Despite Joel Hanrahan not working out the way the Red Sox had hoped, and Andrew Baily being demoted from closer to reliever…again, Boston’s bullpen has also seen it’s share of success.

Koji Uehara seems to be embracing his new role as the teams closer, and has earned four saves on the season so far. In 34 innings of work, Uehara has a respectable 2.12 ERA with a microscopic WHIP of 0.82, and 49 strikeouts. Meanwhile Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa have combined to become a nice 1-2 punch combo coming out of the bullpen for Boston.

Koji Uehara appears to be comfortable in his new role as the Red Sox closer. He already has four saves to his credit. Picture Courtesy of bigstory.ap.org

In 37 innings pitched, Tazawa has posted a solid 2.92 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts to go along with 15 holds. While Miller has a 2.64 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts with six holds.

Final Thoughts: Though the Red Sox still have two weeks and the entire second half of the schedule still to play, it would appear the stench of 2012 has been successfully washed away. So for now, enjoy the wins, watch what happens, and who knows, we may just wind up in the World Series.

How do you think the second half will go for the Sox? Should Boston make any moves before the trade deadline? Leave a comment below.

Boston’s Building Blocks: Back to Square One

It’s been one week…since the blockbuster draft day trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and a slew of future draft picks was made. While that trade may not technically be official until July 10th, the Boston Celtics are officially back at square one.

Picture Courtesy of backpagelead.com

With Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett gone, all that remains of that 2008 NBA Finals title team is point guard Rajon Rondo. Just like that, an era is over. As the new era of Celtics basketball begins, let’s take a quick look at what is in store for Boston in the 2013-2014 season:

Likely Lineup:

PG: Rajon Rondo

SG: Courtney Lee

SF: Jeff Green

PF: Gerald Wallace

C: Kris Humphries

Sixth Man: Avery Bradley/Brandon Bass

Role Players: Jared Sullinger/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

Depth Chart:

PG: Rondo/Bradley

SG: Courtney Lee/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

SF: Jeff Green/Keith Bogans/Kris Joseph

PF: Gerald Wallace/Brandon Bass/Shavlik Randolph/DJ White

C: Kris Humphries/Jared Sullinger/Fab Melo

Head Coach: TBA

(Have to wait and see if draft picks Kelly Olynyk and Colt Iverson survive summer leagues before an accurate roster can truly be drawn up. Depth chart info is courtesy of hoopsworld.com)

Now that you have an idea of how the 2013-2014 roster is going to look, let’s see what the pros and cons are for the Celtics going forward:

Picture Courtesy of kobebeefnba.com

Pros

The Celtics still have Rondo, Green, Lee, Bass, and Bradley. All of whom have played together and won together.

The Celtics have young developing players in the form of Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, MarShon Brooks, and Kris Joseph.

Boston will have a pair of NBA veterans in Wallace and Bogans to help bring some experience to what will be a younger C’s squad.

Boston will have two first round draft picks in each of the next three NBA drafts, and more draft picks to use as potential trade sweeteners down the road.

Cons

The Celtics will have obvious chemistry issues with new guys like Wallace, Humphries, Joseph, and Brooks coming in.

It’s still not clear if Danny Ainge wants to make Rondo the center piece of the Celtics or trade him away and completely start from scratch.

The Celtics will most likely be looking to dump the higher dollar contracts Wallace (3yrs at $30million), Lee (3yrs at $16.4million), and Bass (2yrs at $13.4million) to make room in the salary cap to sign a few future free agents. (contract figures courtesy of ESPNBoston.com)

The Celtics are going to be without a “true” head coach for at least a season or two.

Final Thoughts: Granted, Boston would appear to be gearing up for a 2007-esque regular season in 2013-2014. However, before you start believing the Celtics future is bleak, remember that the very next season (2008) the C’s made a splash in the free agency and captured a championship. Boston may be back to square one right now, but all it takes is one or two moves from the front office to be back in business.

How do you see the 2013-2014 season playing out in Boston? Is Rondo next on Ainge’s trading block? Leave a comment below.

Idiotic Article

I just got finished reading an article on ESPN written by Ashley Fox, and it was terrible. She goes off about how the Patriots should have used better judgment when selecting Hernandez in the 4th round a few years back. She says that this has tarnished the Patriots name and they should be ashamed. Literally every comment rips her apart, even from people who say that they hate the Pats organization. If you have a few minutes go ahead and read this atrocity. One individuals act cannot tarnish a brand that is arguably the biggest in football. Here are a few comments that I pulled off ESPN that I thought were spot on/hilarious:

“If we cut everyone in the nfl with a less than perfect pasts, we would be stuck watching tebow playing on every team, every position.”- ChaosZero250

“Mrs. Fox, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent article were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”- TheCaptainCOD4

“Seriously? Oh okay, we should have known he was going to murder someone in cold blood because he dabbled with Marijuana. Ashley Fox, quit your day job and go become a detective and save the world already.. idiot!”

“ESPN reputation tarnished forever! So what happens when ESPN hires a reporter who shows such promise, but since the loss of her beloved team, has serious character flaws. Three years later, she pens the most inane and puerile article known to mankind. Such a stain on the stellar image of the pristine sports channel!
ESPN should have known better! “- NEGino49