This is it, This is March

April 2, 2013

What does it mean for something to be “the best”? Quite simply, it has to be better than all of the competition. Seems easy enough, but deciding the best way to determine a champion for any sport or league, now that’s splitting hairs for us sports fanatics. If you’re a huge baseball fan you might favor the World Series (like myself); a big hockey fan might favor the Stanley Cup Playoffs or an NFL fan might prefer the NFL playoffs, but the thing is, March Madness is the pinnacle; March Madness is it. Even though baseball is my favorite sport, if I had to decide between watching the MLB playoffs and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, I would choose the Tournament without hesitation. There is no doubting that it’s special, but why? Why does the NCAA Tournament appeal to the biggest baseball, football, soccer and hockey fans? Why does it appeal to the people who don’t know the difference between a fumble and a thimble, a basket or a brisket, a bullpen or a ballpoint pen?

Because, like a murder mystery, it’s extremely unpredictable. March Madness is the most exciting event in all of sports because ANYTHING can happen. I mean anything. Florida Gulf Coast University went to the Sweet Sixteen? Wichita State is in the Final Four? Do you know where Florida Gulf Coast is (don’t say “Dunk City”)? It’s in Fort Myers (for those of you who were wondering.)

There is a reason that the president picks a bracket and ESPN shows a segment on it. There is a reason that even the weakest sports fans fill out bracket sheets  (and these fans’ brackets are usually the ones end up best). There is a reason that a DePaul professer projected there was a 1 in 9,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s one in nine quintillion, 18 zeros) chance of having a perfect bracket. That is why March is special, it’s unpredictable, it’s your team, the upset and your pick; anything can happen.

Anything you say? Anything can happen? Surely some things are impossible, right? No. (Well yes, a sixteenth seed has never beaten a one seed in the men’s tournament, but aside from that, anything can happen.) Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown this year and reached the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Florida. Nine-seed Witchita State knocked off number-one-seed Gonzaga before reaching the Final Four. Fourteen-seed Harvard knocked off three-seed New Mexico. Davidson lost to Marquette on the final shot, and then Marquette reached the Elite Eight. No team that makes it to the tournament can be taken lightly.

My bracket’s busted, your bracket’s busted, everyone’s bracket is busted. Not only because of these colossal upsets, but because of the four versus one upsets, the four-five upsets, all of the little upsets that ruin brackets every year. Although the Final Four lineup is not crazy (aside from Wichita State), who out there picked the Final Four correctly? Say aye! No one? Louisville wasn’t a shocker, and one might have picked Michigan to make it, or Syracuse. But both, all three, all four? Extremely doubtful.

Then there’s the tendency to choose “your team” to make some noise in the Tournament. This again decreases your chances in your bracket. Your biased opinions usually come back to bite you. But with a 68 team field, “your team” has a good chance of making it into the Tourney. Even if they are a hopeless 16-seed, the dance is the dance (and not long from now I bet that hopeless team will knock off a one-seed). Wichita State fans were glad they made it into the tournament, and they would have been happy to just beat Pitt  — low-expectations indeed. Then, once they won a game, they were satisfied. Smart fans knew that they were soon going to be out, but all hopeful fans still had hope. All of those fans knew that they were lying to themselves, yet they hung on to their hope.

Wichita State then played number-one seed Gonzaga. And as the game went along, Wichita State players realized it was possible. They prayed they would pull it out; then that prayer turned into a prayer that they wouldn’t choke. Then with ten-seconds left they slapped themselves, made sure it wasn’t a dream, checked the scoreboard, and celebrated. Their thoughts were all about that moment and they weren’t thinking at all about their next game, but when the next game arrived, Wichita State players began to realize that they could go all the way. This time they were playing 13-seeded La Salle. They were favored, and they won. They were now one-win away from the Final Four. “They had a great run,” most fans thought as they headed into their game versus two-seeded Ohio State. Then, Wichita State dominated. Crushed ’em. Ohio State clawed back at the end leaving the Wichita State faithful on the edge of their seats, but Wichita State held on for the victory. Wichita State had earned a spot in the Final Four. Yes, I said it. Reread if you have to. This is the part where the Wichita State fan finishes telling his friends about his awesome dream. When he wakes up. When someone says, “April Fools!” But no, this is reality, or should I say this is Madness, March Madness.

Then there’s my team: Harvard. “Harvard.” When you read the word, Harvard, what do you think? (Whatever you think, I know it’s not basketball.) Well, I’m a huge Harvard Basketball fan (I missed only two home games during the 2012-13 season) and they had a great year. (For their standards at least.) They won the Ivy League title and went to the dance. Successful season, enough said. We’re satisfied. We can go home now. Then on Selection Sunday, Harvard Basketball received an expected tough draw. Harvard fans hoped they would upset a tough New Mexico team; heck, we hoped the broadcasters would mention them on TV. Then they did. I’m paraphrasing, but ESPN broadcaster Doug Gottlieb said, “Look at this New Mexico-Harvard matchup….” Harvard fans watching the selection show were on the edge of their seats to hear about a potential upset “… because I like New Mexico goin’ to the Final Four!” Great. Just great. Then Greg Anthony added, “You’re right, Doug, that New Mexico team is one  that could give Ohio State troubles out of that region.” Well guess what — they didn’t. Harvard didn’t give them that chance.

I remember watching the game. I was in a ratty hotel room. My family and I were on our way back from vacation. We were staying in an airport hotel and we had a 5:00 am flight, requiring a 3:00 am wake up. Well the obvious plan was to go to bed early, get a good rest, sleep on the plane and be done with it. But there was a catch. Harvard had the late game that night: 9:57 pm EST. Just our luck. I knew some way, somehow I needed to see the game. Lights were out by 8:30 pm, but my dad stayed up to watch and he agreed to wake me up for the second half. He shook me awake at 11:00 pm. I groggily walked to the bathroom, then while slipping on a clean shirt, I realized something: it was not time to catch our flight, the Harvard game was on!

I rushed into the other room. My dad gave me the rundown: “Harvard has been winning the whole game and it looks like we have a shot.” A shot. Even then it was just a shot, but it was all we needed to wake ourselves up and get pumped. We had to keep it down, because we were in a room filled with three sleeping kids, and a few hours earlier, my mom had strictly forbidden my dad from waking me up.

New Mexico and Harvard traded blows for much of the second half. With every Harvard basket, we high-fived as quietly as possible. We chatted silently about the game and Harvard, and then by the five-minute mark, all three kids were awake, sitting up in bed asking questions about the game, even cheering loudly occasionally. This resulted in a resounding, “SHHHHH!!” The moment when New Mexico called a timeout in the final few minutes was when I knew; it wasn’t over, but I knew Harvard had more than just a shot. This was it. We were electric, or about electric as you can be at half-past 12. Then there was a minute left, Harvard hit a shot! YES! Now they had much more than just “a shot;” now we were going to win.

When then the final buzzer sounded, freshman point guard Siyani Chambers jumped for joy and slammed the ball on the ground. He was ecstatic. Though just a freshman, he was the team leader. He was all-Ivy first team and Ivy League rookie of the year. This was the second time I had ever seen him smile (the first being when he posed for a picture with my sisters). They had done it. We hugged and cheered (not worrying about disturbing others as the people in the hotel room above us were partying). I walked back to the other room and whispered to my mom that Harvard had won. She was happy too (being the Harvard grad in the family). She whispered, “Really? That’s awesome!” I climbed into to bed and was awoken two hours later.Five hours of sleep, one amazing upset, so worth it!

That is why March Madness is the pinnacle. Because of the fans, the brackets and the upsets. Because all sports fans are fans of March Madness. Even people who can’t tell a basket from a bracelet are fans of March Madness.That is what makes March special. That is why March Madness continues to excite people around the world every year.

This year was crazy, but the craziness isn’t over. Stay tuned for more this weekend as Syracuse and Michigan square off and Wichita State and Louisville take the floor against one another. Then on Monday night a champ will be crowned. This why “March” is rarely used in a sentence without the word “madness” following it. This is it, this is March Madness, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Experience, Not Age

August 28, 2012

After a crushing defeat in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Miami Heat, the Celtics are looking to rebound and show the league they still have what it takes to make a title run. The Celtics had what most called a “solid” draft by picking Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph. Sullinger, a big man out of Ohio State, is solid in the paint, but he lacks size at 6′ 8″. Melo, a seven-footer, has had some off-the-court issues, but will add size to a small Celtics roster.

This brings up the first big offseason questions for the C’s. Can they survive against top teams with 6′ 11′ KG at center and 6′ 8′ power forward Brandon Bass manning the middle? Also, starting small forward Paul Pierce is only 6′ 7″. Compared to other top teams such as the Lakers, Bulls, and Heat, we’ll see how they size up.

The Lakers have a 6′ 11″ center in Dwight Howard and a 7′ power forward in Pau Gasol, plus they have exceptional guards (Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant) who can dish it to the low block and keep defenses honest with good three-point shooting.

Next, the Bulls. They are an interesting team in the paint, as they are even smaller than the Celtics. That said, Derrick Rose was still able to lead them to the NBA’s best regular season record in 2011-2012.

Finally, there’s the Heat. They have Chis Bosh manning the middle and a big bench as well. LeBron James can also rebound the ball exceptionally, and James and Wade can get to the basket with ease.

From left, Melo, Sullinger, Joseph

The next burning question for the Celtics is whether or not key additions can contribute and key losses can be adequately replaced. Acquisitions, such as Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and rookies Sullinger, Melo and Joseph, will surely help the team and play important roles. The Celtics will also get Jeff Green back from heart surgery. Lee and Terry will help replace Ray Allen after he signed with the rival Heat, and Green will play a big role as a backup to an aging Paul Pierce and he can also play power forward when needed. This versatility will definitely help an aging team. Sullinger has the potential to be great, but his ailing back let him slip down to number 21 in the draft. This is good news for the Celtics, because they were able to land him with that pick, but he also represents a big question mark heading into the 2012-13 season. Melo and Joseph, both out of Syracuse, have potential to contribute as role players off of the bench if they can stay on the court and earn their time.

Speaking of key acquisitions, another question surrounds whether players can play their roles and do what is best for the team. Jason Terry and Courtney Lee are shooting guards and Rondo and Avery Bradley could play together if necessary at the point. This means less time for other guards. Terry has been known to be a slight “ball hog” and he is certainly not the centerpiece of this team at the moment. Lee is expected to start over Terry, and Rondo over Bradley, but among the guards, only Rondo’s starting job is safe. The good thing about having all of these guards is, if Avery Bradley isn’t healthy, there are many fill-ins ready.

The final and most glaring question is whether or not age will finally catch up to Pierce and Garnett. Many said the glory days were over after the 2009-2010 season and the last two years were icing on the cake, but maybe, just maybe they have one (or two, or five) years left in them to make a serious playoff and title run. Time will tell, but we can only hope. I feel they have one more serious shot to silence the doubters.

Why Not Us?

August 27, 2012

When was the last time that a gymnast was bigger than our beloved Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics or Patriots? Well it’s August, and right now Aly Raisman’s our number one hero, Bobby V’s our worst enemy and the Red Sox aren’t just bad, they’re an embarrassment to the city of Boston to a Detroit Lions 0-16, ’62 Mets, bags over our heads level! Things are getting better, though. The Red Sox made a deal with the Dodgers on Saturday that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers for prospects Rubby De La Rosa and Jeremy Sands (as players to be named later), as well as prospects Allen Webster and Ivan DeJesus, and veteran first baseman James Loney, who is in the last year of his contract.

The Herald’s fitting headline…

Things have improved for the future and for the present. In the last four games, since Gonzalez left the lineup, the Red Sox are 3-1. This is a small sample, but also a good one.

Gonzalez and Beckett were clubhouse bombs, and the Boston Herald fittingly read, “Bums Away.” The Sox truly did lose a great player in Gonzalez, but they have now freed up money to spend on non-whining, non-injury-prone, non-golf playing superstars, and as the deal was completed the Sox dumped around $250 million in salaries and were secretly chuckling at the trade. The Red Sox would have simply given those players away, but instead they received good prospects and a short-term replacement. The Herald also reads, “Let the healing begin!” But most of us didn’t expect instant results. The real question is, can the Sox keep it up and possibly make an historic run to the playoffs and maybe even the World Series? It happened last year, as the Rays caught us in the Wild Card hunt after being eight games out at this point in the season, but maybe the tables have turned for this year and the Sox have enough Fenway magic left to show the doubters how the “new” Sox play ball!

The Red Sox of 2012: A Fan’s Take

April 7, 2012

The playoffs are about to start for the Bruins, and the Celtics are 15-8 after the all-star break and first in the Atlantic division. In those 23 games they have wins against the Knicks, Clippers and the Miami Heat. The Boston College Eagles are in the Division I Hockey Championship with a win against the Minnesota Gophers on Thursday. Well, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl… UMass made it to the NIT final four… Oh, yeah and that Red Sox team, they started playing again. Didn’t they?

Yes, the Red Sox played the Tigers on Thursday and the Tigers were able to pull out the victory on a walk-off single down the third base line by Austin Jackson. It was a close game throughout and the Tigers were up 2-0 going into the top of the ninth inning. Closer José Valverde came in and the Sox rallied to tie it on a double by Ryan Sweeney.

Jon Lester pitched a gem, giving up one earned run and six hits in seven innings. Lester’s performance was good, but not good enough, as reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander’s was better. Verlander gave up two hits and no runs in eight innings.

The Sox haven’t gotten much positive attention since the epic collapse of 2011. Injuries have been an issue for big key players like Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey, and after the Sox loss on Thursday, even though it really means very little in a 162-game season, fans were reassured that they will be watching the Bruins instead of the Sox for the next month or so as they make a run for the Cup.

In my opinion, the Red Sox are underrated and possibly have the most talent in the Major Leagues. But talent doesn’t win championships. It’s the first step, but not the last piece to the puzzle. The Red Sox will have to combine talent with teamwork, chemistry and a good bullpen. The Sox have the pieces, they just need to fit them together, which I think could lead to a bounce-back year and another run to the World Series!

Here’s the Deal With Long Term Deals

April 3, 2012

Big money deals have been a theme in recent years. Some deals have been as long as ten years and worth over $25 million in a single year — that’s about 500 thousand dollars a week! That’s enough money to send 60 kids to Harvard for four years, buy a five bedroom mansion, and have five million left in the bank to, you know… spend. And you would get that for 10 years in a row! Now it’s great if you’re the one getting the money, but unless you are a Steinbrenner or John Henry, why the heck would you pay that?

So, the Reds signed slugger Joey Votto for ten years, until 2023. By then we will have time travel and flying cars! The top four salaries in the MLB were handed out by the Yankees. The MLB’s top five salaries are all higher than the top salary in the NFL as well as the top salary in the NHL.

Different sports, different markets. Okay, I get it, but in hockey the highest salary is 23 million dollars lower than in MLB, and that’s A LOT of mullah. Most would say the NFL has the biggest market, but the MLB has the richest and most willing owners.

Now if you’re going to give a guy that much money, it’s probably worth it… right? Worth a .255 batting average? Well, Carl Crawford was that and less last year and he is getting paid $142 million over seven years. Alex Rodriguez’s production is decreasing and he is getting paid $33 million a year! Votto’s great, but how about when he’s old and grey and still under contract? These big money deals are a risk, but needless to say, some of these players are worth the price of admission.

The Final Four and Why You Have to Play the Games!

April 1, 2012

By now your bracket is totally busted. Your final four team was bounced in the first round, your sleeper pick showed us all why they were a sleeper in the first place, and an elite few correctly predicted this year’s Final Four (the basketball gods were with them). Congratulations. The one team that many of us have seen coming is Kentucky. They were the number-one ranked team coming into the tournament and forward Anthony Davis won National Player of the Year honors. Two-seed Kansas beat two-seed Ohio State last night. Though these two made it to the Final Four, not all two-seeds were as fortunate.

Two second seeds went down in the first round as national super power Duke lost to to Lehigh. Yup, I said Lehigh, and yes, I said Duke. As in THE Duke Blue Devils coached by THE Coach K! And Missouri lost to Norfolk State. Do you even know where Norfolk State is? These two colossal upsets not only happened in the same tournament, but in the same day! Some may say Ohio State and Kansas got lucky, as they were the two “lucky” number-two seeds who not only survived the first round, but made it to the Final Four.

In the other National Semifinal, the in-state rivalry of Kentucky vs. Louisville was in full swing as Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s squad played against his former team. The schools are separated by 80 miles, but their rivalry seems to make them even closer. The Kentucky Wildcats were simply the better team and beat Louisville, 69-61. Louisville kept it close in the first half due to a seven to one offensive rebounding edge and even tied it, 49-49, at 9:13 in the second half with a Peyton Siva three-pointer. But it’s Kentucky who will go on to play Kansas for the National Championship.

Many fans picked Kentucky to make it this far, and a lot even picked Kansas, but no one predicted the excitement level and bracket-busting upsets that have happened, and I doubt anyone can accurately predict how the championship game will go. March Madness is coming to an end, but its most important game is still to come!

The Greatest Hockey Game I’ve Ever Witnessed: Part II

March 12, 2012

Last night in the ECAC quarterfinals, Harvard played Yale. It was a three game series and Yale had won the first game. Yale jumped out to a quick two-nothing lead. I’m usually not a big Harvard hockey fan, but sitting in the heart of the Yale section right next to the Yale bench, I wanted Harvard to win. Bad.

Like I said, Harvard was down by two. At this time I was about to burst. Tons of Yale fans cheering? I can’t stand it! Harvard wasn’t low on shots, but they were low on goals. Harvard clawed its way back into the game and eventually tied  it up. The intensity was undeniable, as when one Yale player got off the ice after a missed opportunity, he let out a couple of words I cannot repeat and punched the glass. Then Harvard scored an unexpected go-ahead goal in the third period.

Then, with a minute left and the goalie pulled for Yale, the Harvard goalie was pelted by a rain of shots. During a battle in front of the net, Yale was able to shove the puck through the goalie. GOAL! The Yale fans surrounding us were ecstatic. At this time I was convinced there were more Yale fans at the game than Harvard fans (the game was being played in Cambridge). The clock later expired and overtime followed.

The first OT was a stalemate as both sides peppered the keeper with intensity, but the score remained 3-3. Then, the second OT started and the shots came flooding back in on the respective goalies. At one point the Harvard net minder had a sequence of many incredible saves to keep the game tied. After a long and nerve wracking half of a period, Harvard went on the power-play, much to the Yale fans’ dismay, as shouts like “You happy now?” and “Let ’em play!” came from the Yale supporters aimed at the ref. In reality there were an equal amount of Yale and Harvard penalties.

During Harvard’s power-play there was a scrum in front of the net as both teams scrambled frantically for the puck. Then, out of nowhere, the puck spurted out from the pile. The Harvard defenseman, Dan Ford, skated in and BOOM! Game over! He scored on a slap shot right over the pile of bodies in front of the net. I went crazy as the Yale fans departed with dismay.

Harvard won the next day, 8-2, and advanced to the semifinals to play Cornell in Atlantic City on Friday night. I’m looking forward to Harvard making a run for the ECAC title!

Let’s Dance!

March 7, 2012

Last night Penn played Princeton with an Ivy League title at stake. Harvard and Penn were in a virtual tie for first (they had an equal number of losses, but Penn had played one less game) with Princeton and Yale behind them. Now, just because it’s Princeton doesn’t mean it’s a gimme. Not only is Princeton good, but this game was played at Princeton. So, if Penn won, they would force a one game playoff with Harvard on either Friday or Saturday. If they lost, Harvard would clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Princeton jumped out to a quick, early lead and they were able to hold the lead for the remainder of the game. Ivy player of the year front-runner, Zack Rosen, was off his game, which helped lead to Penn’s elimination. The feeling for Penn at the end of the game was pure desperation as Rosen fired a deep three and missed the rim completely. That brick signaled the end of Penn’s season, but it also signaled Harvard’s second Ivy League Championship in two years and first automatic bid to the NCAA Championship (it will be their first trip to the NCAAs since 1946)! Harvard’s goin’ dancin’!

The next question is, who and where they will play their first round game? All of our questions will be answered next Sunday, on (as sports fans call it) “Selection Sunday.” I feel Harvard is capable and will show the country that, just because they come from the Ivy League, they shouldn’t be considered the underdog!

Fantasy Baseball’s Back!

March 1, 2012

It’s March 1st and for everyone who plays fantasy baseball and is a baseball fan, this is the time of year when we read unlimited numbers of websites, magazines and newspapers trying to get that small edge for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. This is the time when we buy stupid subscriptions to insider websites believing, because it cost money, that it’s better than the free information, only to realize that they say the same stinkin’ things as everyone else! Then, there’s debating over keepers, and not what leagues to join, but how many leagues am I physically capable of joining?

Next, there’s the pre-draft rankings that you spend hours on just to pick a hometown player with your first pick. Or the meticulously made, long, detailed lists for each position and player, including sleepers and busts from Sports Illustrated. The truth is, everyone is doing the same thing you are! 75% of the people in your league are using the same magazines and websites as you and the other 25% is just as likely to win the league as you are.

Put down the magazines, turn off the computer, put down the pencil, put the credit card back in your wallet, get back to work and get on with your life. You still have a month ’til the season starts, then it’s baseball business as usual, and that stupid subscription is no longer stupid, because it’s baseball season! That is when it matters. So, you can trick yourself into believing it’s all worth it, but my advice is, just take two hours before your draft and do whatever. Don’t panic — life will go on. The point is, fantasy baseball is fun and I’m excited too, but calm down. Wait, who am I kidding? Go Sox!

Top Five…

February 28, 2012

As promised, I am writing another top-five article. In honor of yesterday’s amazing finish in the Concord-Carlisle Youth Hockey Hot Shots Finals, I’m writing the top championship series/game finishes in big 4 sports history, so no, those finals will not be included. If you have any suggestions for a future top-five, email me at or you can post a comment at the bottom. Thanks!

5. Kirk Gibson’s Home Run

When: October 15, 1988 in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series

Where: Los Angeles, California at Dodger Stadium

Who and What: Kirk Gibson hit a pinch-hit two-run walk-off home run versus the Oakland A’s. He was facing all-time great Dennis Eckersley with major injuries to his ribs and his legs.

Significance and Why: I chose this because, though he was the MVP that year, he had severe injuries in both his legs, so he could barely run around the bases. Jack Buck’s call of, “I don’t believe what I just saw!” and the classic fist pump are also pretty awesome.

4. USA vs. Canada Olympic hockey final 2011

When:  February 28, 2010 during the 2010 Winter Olympics

Where: Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver, Canada

Who and What: This game was U.S.A. versus Canada in the gold medal game. Zach Parise scored for the U.S. with under a minute remaining and then in OT Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning, sudden-death-ending goal.

Significance and Why: I chose this because it was a David vs. Goliath story as the U.S. ALWAYS loses to Canada, but they had a chance to win the gold medal and it was the most watched event in Canadian history.

3. “Havlicek stole the ball”

Where: Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

When: April 15, 1965 in the Game 7 of the NBA’s divisional round

Who and Why: The Boston Celtics were playing the Philadelphia 76ers and with five seconds remaining, the 76ers’ Hal Greer inbounded, then “Havlicek stole the ball!” The Celtics secured the game and won the series.

Significance and Why: This moment is incredible because of the fact that the Celtics were playing their arch-rival,s the 76ers. This was game 7 and the Celtics were up by one point so if the 76ers had scored they would have knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs. Legendary radio broadcaster Johnny Most’s call of “Havlicek stole the ball!” is incredible too.

2. Miracle

Where: Olympic Center, Lake Placid, New York, USA

When: February 22, 1980 at the Winter Olympics

Who and What: The USSR (Soviets) versus the United States in the gold medal game of the 1980 Olympics. The U.S. were major underdogs and in the midst of the Cold War so this victory was huge for the United States and the people living in it.

Significance and Why: This game will go down in history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest game in sports history. I acknowledge the fact that the literal finish was not particularly eventful (no game winning goal, basket, home run or basket), but just holding off the Soviets was a “Miracle” finish, as TV announcer Al Michaels said that night.

1. “The Play”

Where: California Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California

When: November 2o, 1982 in a Pac-10 league game.

Who and What: The Cal Bears were facing the Stanford Cardinal. QB John Elway marched Stanford down the field and with 4 seconds left, Stanford kicked a “game winning field goal.” Then they kicked off. The Bears returned the kick for a TD as the Stanford marching band ran onto the field.

Significance and Why: This play is incredible because Stanford had just completed an amazing comeback then Cal had a comeback of their own. Also, the band was on the field and the Cal player ran through the band to win the game. Now you might say, well, so what? Cal beat Stanford in a regular season game? I was ranking the top 5 finishes so this tops the list!

Check out the amazing video of this amazing play:

The Most Action Packed Youth Hockey Game I’ve Ever Seen!

February 26, 2012

This morning I competed in a championship game for my hockey league, Hot Shots in Concord-Carlisle, Massachusetts. The league is an in-town league with only four teams. My team was undefeated until our tenth game when we lost 5-4 in a very close game. The next week was the first game of the playoffs and we lost again. The format of the playoffs was a three game round-robin and the top two teams play in the championship. We won our next two games and we were in.

The team we played in the finals had many good players and one extremely good player who made things particularly difficult. We got off to a bad start and were down two to nothing at the end of the first period. In the second period we scored two goals and the third period was scoreless. A two minute OT period commenced and again it was scoreless… SHOOTOUT!

Both shooters scored to start, and then no one scored again for three rounds. Then the other team scored. “This is it,” we thought. “We have to score!” The other team’s goalie was really big and tough to score on. Our player deked him out and scored, and we went crazy. In the ninth round they scored again. We had two players left. Our player was visibly pessimistic, but he came up and SCORED!!! OH MY GOD!  He turned around and “shot” the goalie with his stick to celebrate. Then our youngest and smallest player had to shoot after the other team had failed to score. His name started to get chanted by everyone. “How awesome would this be?” we all thought. He didn’t score so the first players shot again.

Their best player was sure to score, but our goalie saved it!! Oh my god… Do you believe in miracles? Now our best player shot. This was it. He skated in with confidence, shot and SCORED! The eleven-shot shootout final game was over. We won! We mobbed our unlikely hero: the goalie. We cleared the ice and in the locker room the tinfoil cup was hoisted (a bucket and a bowl wrapped in tin foil)!!!!!

Postscript: Several people have asked me to post my dad’s video of my pre-game locker room speech. To watch it, click here.

Is he for real? I guess we’ll find out!

February 23, 2012

Jeremy Lin and the Knicks play the surging Heat tonight and, though the Nets game was a test, this will be a huge test. On Monday when the Knicks lost to the Nets, Jeremy Lin allowed Deron Williams to score 38 points and some considered this a wake up call for Linsanity. In my opinion, Williams is at a higher level than Lin. Deron Williams is one of the elite point guards in the league and he has dropped 38 on Tony Parker and 42 on Russell Westbrook in his career. Both of these players are considered elite and would probably be picked over Lin. The point is it’s not Lin it’s Williams. Tonight Jeremy Lin will be matched up with either Wade, Chalmers or even LeBron if need be. If Erik Spoelstra put LeBron on Lin it would be showing major respect, because that would leave another defender on Carmelo Anthony.

Last night versus the Hawks Lin played well scoring 17 points, dishing out nine assists and only allowing four turnovers. We’ll see if he can prevail again tonight against the Heat in a key showdown! My prediction is a Heat win, but Lin will play well earning a double-double and giving up 5 turnovers.

Top Five…

February 21, 2012

From now on, every week I will be writing a “top-five” list. This list will contain the top five of a different category each time. If you would like to see a certain “top-five” category, please comment or email me at Enjoy!


5. Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and the Water Cube Olympic swimming pool

Where: Beijing, China

Capacity for Nest: 80,000-91,000 (depending on event)

Capacity for Cube: 17,000

Events: 2008 Olympics

4. Anfield Stadium

Where: Liverpool, England

Capacity: 45,276

Events: Liverpool football (soccer) home matches.

3. The Big House

Where: Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Capacity: 109,991

Events: Michigan Wolverines’ home football games

2. Wrigley Field

Where: Chicago IL, USA

Capacity: 49,159

Events: Chicago Cubs’ home games

1. Fenway Park

Where: Boston, MA, USA

Capacity: 33,500

Events held at Fenway: All Boston Red Sox’ home games since 1912, 19 soccer matches, one season of football and the 2010 Winter Classic.

The Ivy League: Refs, Fans and Jeremy Lin

February 19, 2012

Last night I attended the Harvard – Yale basketball game. This game was big bracket buster, because Harvard is number one in the Ivies and Yale was number two. Coming into the game, Harvard was 8-1 and Yale was 7-2, so if Harvard won they would drown Yale’s chance at an Ivy title. Harvard was up 35-15 near the end of the first half, but at the end of the first half and the start of the second Yale went on an 11-0 run to make the score 35-26. The game stayed relatively close as Harvard was consistently winning by five to seven points. They ended up winning by 15 points. Yale is now in third place in the Ivies and Penn is number two. My reaction to this game was not only happiness that Harvard won, but also new interest in a couple of topics.

Number one, Ivy League referees make calls that leave you baffled. They call random travels and inconsistent carries. Usually they call fouls super tight, but sometimes after a blatant foul they call nothing. Now you may think there’s no pressure by the fans or the players, but the Harvard student section is on top of the refs all game. Greg Mangano on Yale (44, right) was all over the ref every single time a call went against him and the Yale coach was steaming. Greg Mangano’s face was fiery red all game and he always pleaded at the refs and at one point even touched the ref’s back while arguing his case, and the fans pleaded a technical foul.

Then there’s the Harvard fans. The Harvard fans are excited most of the game, but they are easily discouraged. For example, when Yale went on an 11-0 run they were silent, and I believe that if they had stayed loud and gotten the team riled up, then Yale’s run might not have happened. They also have some pretty lame chants. The worst is, after a travel or violation by the opposing them, the students chant “You can’t do that!” clap, clap, clap clap clap. No duh! Obviously you can’t do that if the ref blew the whistle. Their next average chant is one guy saying, “Is that a 57?” [Harvard’s score] then the fans respond with, “Yes it is!” Then they chant the other team’s score, followed by “Winning team!” [pointing at the Harvard side] and “Losing team!” [pointing at the Yale side].

That chant is only good if the atmosphere is good. Another chant is, “I believe that we will win!” which is also pretty average. The last pretty good chant is one that’s unique to one Yale player who is partially bald. Every time he touched the ball, the student section chanted, “Rogaine!” While somewhat mean, this one is creative and one of the best Harvard chants I’ve heard.

The last interesting topic is Harvard grad, Jeremy Lin, and how Harvard’s fans jumped on the bandwagon pretty quickly. On the streets and in the lobby of Lavietes Pavillion they were selling Jeremy Lin jerseys and Linsanity t-shirts. This is a picture of me wearing a new Harvard Lin jersey at last night’s game (left.) The proceeds of all sales went to the Jeremy Lin Foundation. It is pretty incredible that Harvard jumped on the bandwagon that quickly! But I suppose he was Harvard’s before he was New York’s!

Are the Bruins currently the best team in Boston?

February 17, 2012

After all these years. From the Celtics in ’08, plus sixteen more titles in various years, the Sox in ’04 and ’07 to the Pats of 01′, ’03, and ’04, the Bruins have been living in the shadows for a long time, like since 1972. Two years ago the Bruins were not watched or followed regularly by an average Boston sports fan, but last year, with the additions of Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley at the deadline and Tyler Seguin in the draft, the B’s were on the radar again. Like you might say to someone “Did the Bruins win?” and they wouldn’t think you were crazy.

Now the Bruins might be good, but are they better than the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots? All-time it’s tough, but at this moment the Bruins ARE the best team in Boston. Not only because of wins, but because the fans love them! Their cup run caught the attention of every fan, including me. I now watch every game on TV. The Bruins Ole’ Time Hockey is back and better than ever!

It’s Boston. That’s how it goes.

February 16, 2012

The Red Sox have lost the interest of many fans after two straight disappointing season-ending losses. To earn this interest back, Ben Cherington must change SOMETHING. The Big Papi signing was something, but trading Marco Scutaro, getting Aaron Cook, Cody Ross and a few decent relief pitchers to keep money available is not our style. Money should not be an obstacle, because if it is, that’s why we’ll lose to the Yankees. Now you may say, “What about Andrew Bailey?” but he just replaces Papelbon, so having an ace closer (though it didn’t seem that way in the parts of the past two seasons we really remember) isn’t anything new. In Boston, you’re expected to win, you should win. We never think back to that random game in the middle of the season when we beat the Orioles — we think about the last game of the season in 2011, where we lost to the O’s. It’s Boston; that’s how it goes.

Now, that being said, if you brainwashed everyone who followed the Red Sox last year and focused only on this year, the Sox possibly have the best talent.

Bobby V. is introduced by John Henry, Larry Luchino and Ben Cherington.

The question is, can they avoid injury, recover from injury, and perform at their highest potential. At the end of last season we lost Terry Francona and Theo Epstein, leaving longtime fans in a trance. They gave us our only two titles since 1918 and now they’ve left. These two gentlemen could be in the Hall of Fame, and these losses are ones that we won’t realize are significant until the Red Sox can’t sign a big money deal or complete a key trade. Not only does Theo have those skills, but players want to play for the Red Sox, Terry Francona and the city and fans of Boston.

After Francona left, the Sox signed Bobby Valentine. He’s a great manager, but such a change of personality from Terry that players will have to adjust. There’s no question he WILL NOT TOLERATE any beer drinking or fried chicken eating and other lazy habits the players on the Sox exhibited last year in the clubhouse.

Beantown wants another title. Hopefully, the Sox players want one too. But one thing is for sure.

I do.

The Beanpot of 2012

February 14, 2012

Last night’s Beanpot final between the Boston College Eagles and the Boston University Terriers was just another great example of why the Beanpot is a beloved event in Boston.Held annually since the 1952-53 season, this classic event is a two round (semi-final and final) tournament between Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, and Harvard. The great thing about the Beanpot for these teams is that even if they are last in Hockey East (or the Ivy League for Harvard) there is always this. It’s all about the Beanpot! A week ago, on February sixth two semi-final games were played. One between BU and Harvard, with BU winning and the other between BC and Northeastern, BC winning that game.So, once again it was a classic BU vs. BC in the finals yesterday, the game sure was a classic.

The game was tight as BC went up one nothing, but BU forward Garrett Noonan scored a goal to tie it up. Then BC went up two to one, again Noonan scored. With 6.4 second remaining in OT BC sophmore Bill Arnorld scored thegame inning goal and led the Eagles to their 17th championship. These two teams have combined to win three out of the last four national titles, have tied the season series and are tied for second in Hockey East.Watch out, because this be foreshadowing some key games down the road including the national championship.


February 14, 2012

All he does is Lin! Jeremy Lin is on top of the world. His jersey is the number one selling uniform in the last two weeks and this Harvard grad says, “I’m just having fun,” and who can blame him! The Knicks have one five straight and Amare Stoudemire has only appeared in one of these games, due to a death in the family. Lin averages 27 points and eight assists in five starts so far, but the ball-hogging, shot-taking Carmelo Anthony is returning soon and he doesn’t exactly help the players around him, he, pretty much, makes himself

better. Can they work together? Carmelo says yes, I say they can, but Lin’s hype will definitely decline rapidly. That doesn’t mean that he won’t get double-doubles with 10 points and 10 assists, but he probably won’t drop 38 on the Lakers again.

Lin averaged 16 points in his senior year at Harvard, so when teams looked at this kid it wasn’t something too special. Last year he played in 29 games and didn’t start any with the Warriors. That’s why this story is so good! He is an underrated, 23-year old, Harvard grad playing in New York City. What’s not to love? Tonight the Knicks face the Raptors at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.  My prediction is that the Linsanity will continue with a 15 point, 10 assist game and Amare will play very well leading the Knicks to a big win.

The Celtics: Now and What’s to Come

February 13, 2012

The Celtics of 2012 are a very interesting team. No matter what you think of them, good, bad or just flat out too old, they have been possibly the streakiest team in the NBA so far. To start the season they lost three straight, then won four in a row. And streaks like this have continued all season. Just recently they suffered a crushing OT loss to the Lakers where they

had TWO chances at the buzzer in OT to win it, one with Paul Pierce with a jumper and then an Allen put-back that was blocked by Gasol. Boston then lost by 14 to the TORONTO RAPTORS, not the Magic or the Heat, but the Raptors… really? Then last night they beat the Bulls — what the heck? I mean sure they didn’t have Derrick Rose, but it was no gimme as it came down to the wire and the Celts won by four. I don’t know what to think about the streaky 2012 Celtics. Many questions remain unanswered… They are definitely good, but how good? Will we trade KG? Will Jeff Green ever wear a Celtic uniform again? And the big question, are they a championship caliber team? I guess we’ll find out.

The Celtics of 2012 show signs of having a good foundation of young players, but in order to win the title this year we need players that are good this year. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are getting old, but still have something left in them. This will probably be the Celtics’ last chance to win the NBA championship until DeJuan Johnson, Avery Bradley, E’ Twaun Moore and rejection king Greg Stiemsma develop into everyday, consistent players. When or if this happens could be anywhere from this year to three years from now, but their development is no guarantee and we would be lucky to have these players be our core players in years to come.

First and Second round picks JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have played together at Purdue so the chemistry is evident. Johnson, a fourth-string power forward, averages about 20 minutes a game, but, barring a Kevin Garnett trade or a C’s decision to not re-sign him this offseason, he could move up and become a more regular player. Moore, also a fourth stringer, plays shooting guard and after the Ray Allen contract situation unfolds he too could move into a key role. Currently, he averages only eight minutes per game.

Avery Bradley, a first rounder out of Texas last year, shows upside, but could be looking up to Rajon Rondo for the foreseeable future. Stiensma, the 6′ 11″ center out of Wisconsin, only averages around 8 minutes a game, but he, too, could be a future starter as Jermaine O’Neal’s stock decreases.

Another question is will the C’s trade Kevin Garnett. KG is currently getting paid a little above 21 million dollars and next year he will become an unrestricted free agent. Any team that would be interested in him would be a current contender

Kevin Garnett

looking for that last key piece, because he is no longer a player to build on in the long run. The Celtics would probably want a high draft pick or young talent in return.

Right before the season began the Celtics were almost involved in two key trades. One of these trades was the possible Chris Paul-Rajon Rondo deal that was unsuccessful, and another under-the-radar deal the Celtics nearly pulled off was the David West-Jeff Green deal. This trade was agreed on by both sides, but Green was unable to pass his physical. After undergoing tests, Jeff was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. This basically is a rupture in the aorta and the surgery required is serious, but he should be able to resume playing in the 2012-13 season. Not only does this affect Jeff Green’s impact on the team (or lack thereof), but it disallowed a key trade to be made, and will he EVER be able to play again?

And the last overwhelming question is, are they good enough to win a title. This remains unknown. It really all depends on the health and contributions of players like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. Also, if injuries occur, can role players step up? All of these questions will be answered soon enough and we can only look ahead and hope for the best for the Celtics. I, for one, believe this group is capable of getting another ring.

A Rising Phenomenon: Harvard Men’s Basketball

February 12, 2012

The 21st ranked Harvard Crimson are 21-3 this year and are 7-1 in the Ivy league. Last night they suffered their first Ivy league loss to Princeton, 70-62. Usually, I am a minor Harvard fan attending one or two games a year and rooting for Harvard, but this past year Harvard was finally good. They have never won the Ivy League and gone to the NCAA Tournament in the same year (they went to the tournament before the Ivy League was formed, and many years later, they lost a one-game playoff after tying for the Ivy League Championship). Their last good player was current rising Knicks’ star Jeremy Lin (who graduated in 2010), so when Harvard was competing in a one game playoff versus Princeton (at Yale) last year for a chance at the big dance, I was naturally interested. The Ivy league has no conference tournament, so when the two teams tied for first place, that was how it was decided. (Harvard had played Princeton the weekend before and had won, clinching a share of the Ivy title and forcing this game.)

One fan's sign at the game.

The only problem was tickets. The thing was, you could only get tickets if you were in one of many elite Harvard categories, one of which was being a season ticket holder… so yes, we did buy two season tickets for the next season (2011-12) just for this game. Little did we know that there would be even more success from Harvard this year. Anyway, the game was close throughout as both teams traded baskets. The fans were electric as the two student sections were next to each other, with one row and a campus cop dividing them. Yes a cop, as in a police officer at an Ivy League game. This was big! As the game wound down, the play intensified and you could feel the pressure bubbling in the arena. A chant got started, “Let’s go…” then the fans called out their respective colleges, each side trying to be louder than the other. Then a new chant arose: “I believe that we will win!” the Harvard fans chanted. With little time remaining, it was still anybody’s ball game. Then with Harvard up by one and six seconds left, Princeton called timeout. This was it! When will we ever be this close! Who cares that we won the Ivy title, we want to win this! I spotted Dan Shaughnessy in the stands near me. The whistle blew.

The final shot...

Princeton inbounded from under their own net. A guard (20, right) dribbled twice and with two seconds left, up-faked, then turned the other way and double-clutched an MJ-esque shot. The ball snapped through the net as the buzzer sounded. Oh My God,are you kidding me!?!? The Princeton fans stormed the court and the Harvard players were distraught. The Harvard student section pleaded that he didn’t get it off in time, waving their arms to signal no basket. As a formality, the refs walked over to the table and watched the replay. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes like hours. The refs walked away from the table and the crowd went silent… The ref signaled the basket was good and the Princeton supporters went mad. All the Harvard fans left and the two-hour car trip home from New Haven was surprisingly fine. One good thing that came out of this was, besides the fact that it was one of the greatest sporting events I’ve ever witnessed, we now have Harvard season tickets for this year!

Anyway, when Harvard played Princeton yesterday it was big. The Harvard players wanted that game bad, and they were ranked number 21 in the country, so they were expected to win.Harvard ended up losing their first Ivy game. The Crimson could have used the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin and as one Princeton fan’s sign read, “No Lin? No Win!” And it seemed that way on Saturday. They still lead Yale by one game in the standings.Harvard plays Yale this Saturday, February 18 at home in a key game – and I will be there. For a full schedule click here.Harvard looks to be in control of their league, but they still have one more game against Princeton at home and Yale, as I mentioned before.The excitement is heating up in the usually dull Ivy league, for every game is a playoff game here.

Though it seems crazy, Harvard really needs to win the Ivies because last year with a 35 RPI they only made the NIT (the only team with an RPI that high to not make the NCAA Tournament) and Oklahoma State handed it to them in the first round of the NIT with a 17 point win. The truth is they’re for real and so is the Ivy League, for after Princeton advanced to the NCAAs last year, they gave Kentucky, later a 2011 Elite 8 team, a giant scare. Brandon Knight hit the game winner with two seconds left to push the Wildcats passed the Tigers. Harvard is on the radar of many big-time teams and they mean it. And not only are other teams aware of Harvard — they should be afraid of Harvard.

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