Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Five things I hate about Mut & Merloni

Posted by bdowd625 on November 16, 2011

(Having trouble sleeping? Tune in!)

It’s time to debut a new feature here at Ramble On, one I’d like to call “Five Things.” Today’s edition centers around Mut & Merloni, WEEI’s midday radio show. I was driving around earlier this afternoon, doing my usual flip-flopping between WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub, when I landed on Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni bitching about David Ortiz’s contract situation. The duo was having the most pathetically bland conversation you could possibly imagine, which prompted me to come up with my inaugural topic for “Five Things.” Away we go:

* Merloni brings zero to the table except for a little bit of baseball knowledge, and even that’s sketchy at best. He often provides more questions than answers. Hey, Lou, we’re listening to you to get some insight on the local sports teams, not to hear the following: “What’s going to happen in the Red Sox clubhouse next year? Will there still be beer? Will the starting pitchers be forced to sit in the dugout all game? Will I still have a job at this radio station next year? I really don’t know. We’re just going to have to wait and see.” Here’s an idea. Get off your ass and go find out for us.

* Mutnansky would rather talk to New England’s pro athletes about their Twitter accounts instead of asking actual thought-provoking questions. “Hey, Patrick Chung, why haven’t you tweeted about the Oregon Ducks’ latest crappy uniforms?” Newsflash, Mut. No one gives a shit.

* Troy Brown always has to be in studio when they interview any of the Patriots, because he’s the only one who has a clue about football. Thank God we don’t have to listen to the two of them talk to Bill Belichick. That would be unnecessarily painful.

* The constant references to the University of Connecticut (Mut’s alma mater) and Providence College (Merloni’s) make me sick. Congrats, guys, you went to college. So did most of us – we just don’t get paid six figures a year to lull people to sleep on the radio every day.

* The Penn State scandal has forced these two to recycle and regurgitate the same played-out news that we’ve been hearing for the last two weeks. Why don’t you try to focus on a new viewpoint when it comes to this topic? Nevermind, I just changed the station.

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Red Sox make crucial mistake in parting ways with Francona

Posted by bdowd625 on October 1, 2011

We’re going to miss you, Tito.

I’ll start out by saying that I don’t think Terry Francona was always the best in-game manager. Some of his decisions on the field left me scratching my head, whether it be the insertion of a pinch runner for Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh inning or his extra-long leash when it came to leaving tiring starting pitchers in the game. But I think every fan feels that way about their manager at one point or another, and second-guessing is a part of the job that Francona has always understood.

With that in mind, I think the Boston Red Sox made a monumental mistake yesterday when they parted ways with Francona after eight very successful seasons. Francona’s greatest strength has always been his ability to protect his players in a rabid sports town, a quality I think many of the Red Sox took for granted after a while. Plain and simple, Boston took advantage of its manager this year, as high-priced prima donnas like Carl Crawford, John Lackey and, yes, even my boy Josh Beckett drove the team into the ground. Sure, Francona should share some of the blame for the team’s historic September collapse – no one gets a free pass in that regard – but it was evident that many of the Red Sox had given up on him and the season.

And so Francona became the fall guy yesterday after bringing Beantown not one, but two World Series titles in his tenure. He said his players were tuning him out and that he couldn’t get the team to move together in one direction. It’s a shame it had to come to this after all Francona has done here, but that’s how it works with these millionaire crybabies. You can’t fire 25 players, but you can fire the manager. Boston’s new leader certainly has his work cut out for himself – whomever it may be – and I find it hard to believe he’ll handle these players half as well as Francona did in his eight-year run. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, though, I want to thank Francona for all his hard work. He gave this fan base a reason to believe when we thought that elusive championship would never come. I can confidently say his place in Red Sox history is safe.

And now, with the Red Sox season over, I leave you with an excerpt from an essay by A. Bartlett Giamatti, former commissioner of Major League Baseball. If this doesn’t perfectly sum up the beauty of baseball then nothing does.

“The Green Fields of the Mind”

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the
spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer,
filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come,
it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to
buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive,
and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains
and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

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Let’s give this another shot…

Posted by bdowd625 on August 28, 2011

It’s that time once again – fantasy football season! There’s no denying that my team sucked last year – and I mean reaaaaaally sucked – but with the second pick overall, I’m hoping to grab a few more studs this time around. So without further ado, here’s a running diary of my picks as they were taken in our league’s draft.

* Arian Foster – Will he play Week 1 after suffering a hamstring injury? Who knows. But I had Jonathan Stewart and Laurence Maroney starting together in the backfield at one point last season, so I don’t give a shit.

* Steven Jackson – Holy crap. Is that two quality running backs on my roster? I can’t believe it.

* Peyton Manning – I deliberated over this pick for a while, simply because of his neck issues. But the bottom line is Manning is still an excellent quarterback. He’s also very cognizant of NFL history, which makes me think there is no chance he sits out in Week 1 and has his consecutive starts streak snapped.

* Brandon Lloyd – He certainly wasn’t my first choice at wide receiver, but Kyle Orton always seems to rack up a good amount of touchdown passes, and Lloyd will be one of his primary targets.

* Kenny Britt – I hope all his legal problems get cleaned up in a hurry.

* Fred Jackson – I feel bad that this guy is still stuck up in western New York. He’s a good player who doesn’t get enough love because he’s on a shitty team.

* Pierre Garcon – A total panic pick. I was looking for a tight end and then the timer started buzzing so I freaked out and took Garcon. With Austin Collie one big hit away from retirement, though, Garcon might have another big year hooking up with Manning.

* Lance Moore – I’m not pleased with my wide receivers.

* Joe Flacco – I’m not even going to get into how I ended up with this guy, but he’s not a bad backup quarterback.

* Rob Gronkowski – Gronkowski’s not going to rack up a million catches, I know that. Let’s just see how many touchdowns he has at the end of the season, though.

* Eagles defense – The Jets were the top defense on the board, but I took those clowns last year and I hated rooting for them every week. Thus the Eagles.

* Steve Breaston – I needed another wide receiver, and the thought of Mark Sanchez consistently slinging the ball over Derrick Mason’s head was enough for me to take Breaston here.

* Jacoby Jones – I’m simply filling out my wide receiver core at this point.

* Mason Crosby – I had him last year, so why not?

* Todd Heap – Is anyone still paying attention at this point?

* Derrick Ward – Great.

* Kevin Walter – Goodnight, everyone.

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Five thoughts from Pats/Jets

Posted by bdowd625 on December 7, 2010

Well that was worth the incredibly long wait, wasn’t it? Thanks for showing up, Jets. It’s about time you faced a team that doesn’t suck ass for a living. All we heard leading up to this game was how New York added Santonio Holmes to an already dangerous offense and that Mark Sanchez has grown up in front of our eyes these last few weeks. Blah. Blah. Blah. The Jets are frauds and there’s nothing else to say. But since it’s the season of giving, here are five thoughts to chew on after New England’s 45-3 demolition of the Jets.

* I obviously loved hearing the New England fans chanting “OVER-RATED!” late in the fourth quarter, but I honestly think that was giving the Jets too much credit. Sanchez was brutal. Rex Ryan had no idea how to use his challenges/timeouts. And Steve Weatherford’s 12-yard punt had me crying I was laughing so hard. So much for being ready to play in the biggest game of the season.

* Danny Woodhead must be loving life right now. “You assholes want to cut me so David Clowney can make the team instead? Shove it.” Woodhead is a beast and it seems like he never comes off the field. That’s certainly fine by me because whenever he’s out there something good ends up happening.

*  Two years removed from knee surgery, Tom Brady is finally back to playing like his old self. Brady has now racked up 26 straight wins at home, a ridiculous feat to say the least. He’s been carving up opposing defenses like a delicious Thanksgiving turkey and that trend continued tonight against the feeble Jets. Everyone is calling Philip Rivers the MVP of the league, but Brady is quarterbacking a 10-2 team that looks to be picking up steam with each passing week. Rivers and his Chargers, meanwhile, just dropped their second game to lowly Oakland. Call me when San Diego gets into the playoffs.

* As my man BK and I were talking about earlier tonight, the New York media will spin this loss in some ridiculous fashion that lets the Jets off the hook. My guess is they’ll call the Pats insensitive for running up the score and say that this is the second coming of Spygate. No matter what, though, the New York Post will have an interesting headline for their sports section tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

* LaDainian Tomlinson confirmed that he’s still one of the biggest douchebags in the NFL. After a first-down run in the first quarter, LT felt the need to thump his chest and make a fool of himself, drawing the ire of all the New England fans in attendance. The play summed up his career for the last couple of seasons – all bark and very, very little bite. And spare me this nonsense about how Tomlinson has been rejuvenated with the Jets. I’ve got three letters for you. HGH. Yup, I went there.

All in all, it was an outstanding win for the Patriots, and here’s hoping they keep the ball rolling next week in Chicago.

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Pats vs. Jets – Who ya got?

Posted by bdowd625 on December 6, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve dropped the ball here at Ramble On over the last month or so. BK and I have been quite busy with our real jobs, so, as a result, the blog has suffered since the end of the World Series. We’ve come roaring back tonight, though, just in time for the Pats/Jets showdown, which promises to be a classic. Both squads come into the game with 9-2 records, and the winner will most likely grab the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs.

Tom Brady is having one of the best seasons of his career, and I’m expecting another big-time performance out of him tonight. But Rex Ryan seems to think the Jets will emerge with a victory and I’m sure most New York fans feel the same way. Either way, we’re turning to our faithful followers to make the call in our daily poll question.

Enjoy the game, everyone!

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Karma, meet The Bronx. The Bronx, run for cover.

Posted by Bill Koch on October 20, 2010

Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it Yankees fans?

Now you’re getting a little taste of how the other half has lived for all these years while you were racking up those World Series titles that you love to talk about so much. Tuesday night was a pretty good lesson for everyone in The Bronx that the Baseball Gods won’t always be on your side, no matter how much you spend to buy their affections.

Game 4 of the American League Championship Series hit the new Taj Mahal like a tidal wave and put the Texas Rangers 27 outs from the chance to play for their first championship in franchise history. That 10-3 shellacking must have made George Steinbrenner turn in his grave. It doesn’t look like New York can do anything to stop a team that flashes claws and antlers as warning signs, hilariously mocking baseball’s traditions and its winningest franchise in the process of building a 3-1 series lead.

Your chances went begging when Josh Hamilton turned back into Roy Hobbs, Joe Girardi fell asleep at the wheel, the umpires declined to save you when Lance Berkman allegedly went deep and David Robertson got the call out of the bullpen. It’s a perfect storm of deliciousness that tastes better than all the chowder in Red Sox Nation.

A.J. Burnett was the man to come to the rescue? That must be what Girardi thought when he greedily left the overpaid righthander in the game in the sixth inning to face Bengie Molina. There’s no chance that Girardi would have turned down the chance to hold a 3-2 lead after 5.2 innings from Burnett after 17 days of rest if you had offered him that scenario before the first pitch. He must have forgotten about the 5.26 ERA and the fact that he skipped the $80-million man in the ALDS, and he must have remembered quickly when Molina slashed a three-run homer into the night.

That bullpen was going to shut it down from there? Not with arsonists like Robertson, Kerry Wood, Boone Logan and Sergio Mitre coming through the doors with gas cans in their hands and lit matches waiting. Someone put Mariano Rivera on a milk carton – he’s been MIA since the Twins series and can’t go two innings every night.

This rotation was going to get it done? Not with C.C. Sabathia looking average in every area but waist size, the shell of Phil Hughes taking his medicine in a Game 2 pounding and Burnett throwing fastballs down the dick at exactly the wrong time. Cliff Lee isn’t yours just yet.

What happened to Mark Teixeira in this series? That gunshot that hit his right hamstring in the fifth inning and dropped him to his knees, putting him out for the rest of the postseason, couldn’t have been random. If anything, it saved him from going 0-for-25 by the time this is all said and done. Someone must have figured that the most professional and dedicated Yankee that there is had suffered enough by going hitless in his first 14 at-bats.

Not even the next Jeffrey Maier could save the Yankees, further embarrassing Major League Baseball in the process. The league clearly hasn’t learned anything in the last 15 years, as evidenced by the handful of embarrassing missed calls during this postseason that could have easily been overturned through the use of instant replay. Maybe that’s when the Baseball Gods decided that enough was enough, saving the Rangers from Bud Selig and his cronies’ failure to act after some guido from Queens and three of his fellow thugs mugged Nelson Cruz at the right field wall to suck Robinson Cano’s home run into the abyss known as the Yankee Stadium bleachers. Armando Benitez is still on suicide watch somewhere because a 12-year-old kid reached out and made the catch of his life in 1996, and it looked like it was going to happen all over again until order was restored.

Where was everyone going in the ninth inning? Were the 50,000 fans in attendance that eager to go outside to the ghetto and get mugged on the walk back to the subway? Or did they sense that something had changed? They were probably running for their lives, because this never used to happen to New York. Something else might be working against the Yankees now, and it goes well beyond the power of the Rangers.

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Five thoughts from Pats/Ravens

Posted by bdowd625 on October 17, 2010

What a game. What a win for the Patriots, who, at the moment, have to be in the discussion as one of the top teams in the NFL at 4-1. I needed a cigarette when it was finally over, but I suppose that’s better than Prozac. And now, it’s time for our weekly five thoughts from Pats/Ravens.

* The New England defense was OUTSTANDING in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Raise your hand if you thought the Pats had a chance to win in OT after losing the coin toss. If your hand is in the air, you have more faith than this guy. I didn’t think New England had a snowball’s chance in hell when the Ravens got the ball first, but the defense just kept making stops, and, after a bit of offensive futility, the Pats moved the ball into field-goal range for Stephen Gostkowski.

* Speaking of Gostkowski, I was pretty nervous when he lined up to take that game-winning kick. For the most part, he’s been money in the bank during his Patriots career, but he’s been a little shaky through the first four games of the season. He had no such issues today, though, blasting a 35-yarder for the win after the 2-minute warning served as our weekly version of “icing the kicker.”

* For all the good that Aaron Hernandez has done so far, he was BRUTAL down the stretch today. The fourth-rounder out of Florida had two inexcusable drops late in the game, miscues that stalled New England’s drives at crucial times. I know I told him to smoke up a few weeks ago, but maybe it’s time to curtail some of the marijuana use.

* If and when I have a kid someday, I’m going to name him (or her, for that matter) Danny Woodhead. Just imagine how inspired that kid would be to overcome insurmountable odds. Have a tough math test coming up that you didn’t study for? Little Danny Woodhead knows how to pull an A+ out of his/her ass. Last pick in dodgeball during recess? Little Danny is about to peg you right in the head to end the game. All joking aside, I love the guy. He’s a perfect fit for what this offense is trying to accomplish.

* And last but not least – welcome back, Deion Branch. One of Tom Brady’s favorite wideouts looked like he never missed a beat since heading to Seattle a few years back. Branch had several key catches for the Pats, including a big touchdown grab to cut New England’s deficit to 20-17. Here’s hoping Branch will bring back that old Patriot magic in the weeks to come.

Now all you Pats fans better go cheer for Denver against the Jets. J-E-T-S! SUCK! SUCK! SUCK!

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Ramble On’s guide to the LCS matchups

Posted by Bill Koch on October 15, 2010

If two out of three ain’t bad, what’s two out of four?

With all due apologies to all the Meat Loaf fans (if there are any of you with us here at Ramble On), we’d like to point out that we weren’t all that far off in our previous predictions that we made for the Major League Baseball playoffs. We’re perfect in the National League – we had the Phillies sweeping the Reds and the Giants outlasting the Braves in four games – and we think that makes up for our hiccups in the American League. It’s not our fault that the wins choked yet again and couldn’t take care of the vulnerable Yankees or that the Rays’ fans were far more gutless than we ever gave them credit for being.

With all of that said, let’s take a stab at giving you a World Series preview. Here are our predictions for the League Championship Series, which start tonight when New York visits Texas.

Rangers vs. Yankees
We still think that the Yankees have some big question marks on their pitching staff. Will Phil Hughes be that dominant in back-to-back outings? Can New York win a game where C.C. Sabathia is so average? Can Andy Pettitte’s 66-year-old groin hold up through two more starts? Will Kerry Wood or David Robertson explode before Mariano Rivera can save the day?

We really don’t think so. C.J. Wilson and Cliff Lee are the sort of lefthanded pitchers who the Yankees built their dynasty on, guys with the makeup to thrive even in Yankee Stadium. Josh Hamilton (a sub-.200 effort against Tampa) can’t be that bad again, Nelson Cruz is pounding the ball and the Rangers have that look of a team that has destiny on its side. We think it might be their turn to sneak past New York and try to write some postseason history.

PREDICTION: Rangers in seven games

Phillies vs. Giants
Tim Lincecum turned in one of the best postseason performances that we’ve ever seen when he shut out Atlanta and struck out 14 to set the tone for the series in Game 1. We like Matt Cain to bounce back from an average outing and Madison Bumgarner to throw well again. San Francisco’s lineup is full of grinders who won’t make it easy for Philadelphia’s pitching staff.

Unfortunately for the Giants, they’re running into one of the best teams that we’ve seen in a while. We wouldn’t be shocked to see Roy Halladay throw another no-hitter – the Giants’ lineup is far worse than the Reds’ crew that he made history against – and Cole Hamels’ clinching shutout was a thing of beauty. Toss in a lineup that is bound to break out at any moment and you have the team that we tabbed as the favorites from the beginning of this postseason. We don’t see the Phillies’ ride stopping here.

PREDICTION: Phillies in five games

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Everything is A-OK

Posted by bdowd625 on October 15, 2010

We had a close call here at Ramble On this afternoon, as WordPress – the site that hosts this magnificent blog – decided to randomly shut us down for “violating” their Terms of Service agreement. When I first realized what was happening a lot of questions ran through my head. Will we be able to transfer all the work we’ve done to another blog? Am I about to be sued? What’s for dinner tonight?

I calmed down quickly, though, and fired off a courteous yet stern e-mail to the powers that be, explaining that there must be some mistake. Within minutes, they turned the lights back on and here we are, back and better than ever. The man can’t keep us down, baby! That is all.

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