Category Archives: Sports

An Angel In The Whirlwind – A Stunning Win For MHK

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but for the first time in a lifetime of watching sports, I found myself in tears watching the New England Patriots jaw-dropping, miraculous victory in the AFC Championship Game yesterday. After Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff hooked to the left of the goal posts what should have been an easy breezy, chip-shot field goal, I found myself prostate in front of the television, as I broke down and cried. As Gillette Stadium and 60,000-plus fans were going berserk thousands of miles away, I screamed and hollered with what was left of my voice and then was shocked to find myself as emotional as I’ve ever been after watching a victorious Boston team, in a combination of exaltation, relief, disbelief and joy.

The Patriots, my beloved band of brothers were celebrating with their genius/mastermind of a coach Bill Belichick under a rain of confetti and for just a a few seconds, I found myself with tears running down my face.

After more than 3 hours of screaming at the top of my lungs at just about every play, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by this outburst. And now, more than 24 hours later, I’m not even sure I know why I was crying at the end of that improbable victory yesterday. But I believe that I wept for everyone else in this sometimes cruel world who’s been down and out; for every person or team that has played it’s heart out and has been rewarded by some inexplicable turn-of-fate…this “angel in the whirlwind”; this strange breeze that incredibly blew Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff field goal wide-to-the-left of the goal posts and sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in less than a decade!

I cried tears of happiness for the generations of Patriots fans, both young and old; for the kids who don’t really know the misery of being a Patriots fan – a team without a home that sometimes played at Boston University’s field, Boston College’s Alumni Stadium, the ancient Harvard Stadium and even Fenway Park. And I wept for the old timers, who had to freeze their asses of sitting on the metal benches inside that terrible joke-of-a-stadium in Foxboro where I used to go and sip hot-chocolate and pray that the game would be over soon. For the veteren fans who have never given up on a team that for so long lingered at the bottom of the list of teams, but somehow kept believing in better days to come.

I cried for the shame and regret that came when the New York Giants came from behind in the final minutes of the 2007 Super Bowl to ruin the Patriots bid for the “perfect season,” when there seemed to be another very different “angel in the whirlwind” that allowed New York Giant quarterback Eli Manning to escape the grasp of Patriot defenders and throw a long pass that David Tyree on his helmet! Oh, demons be gone.

But most of all, I cried for the memory of Myra Hiatt Kraft, who passed away before this season and whose initials, MHK, the Patriots have worn on their uniforms all season long and who’s spirit will hopefully guide this team of destiny to a victory in this years Super Bowl over those very same New York Giants.

I cried for Myra Kraft and all the other people who lost their lives after battling cancer and other illnesses, including my sports fanatic father and lovely sister Elizabeth, who’s passing in the cruelest of months of January my family observed once again this month. For my sister Elizabeth, for my father, and for Tom Brady, for Bill Belichich, for Gronk, and the Law Firm, and Wes Welker and the veterens of Patriots teams-past, like Drew Bledsoe (who presented Bob Kraft with the AFC Championship trophy yesterday) and Tedy Bruschi and on and one, and the rest of the 2011 New England Patriots who, hooray, are going once again to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis in just two weeks, where once again I will be on pins and needles all game, screaming at every play.

And hopefully – with a little help from an angel in the whirlwind and the great coaching and playing, the New England Patriots will win their fourth Super Bowl in just over a decade.

Once again it will be Tom Brady versus Eli Manning. Once again it will be the best team from the American Football League against the best team in the National Football League. Once again it will be Boston (well, okay, New England) versus New York. Once again it will be for all the marbles.

And for the next two weeks there will be plenty of speculation and pontification on what to expect. But regardless of the outcome, I truly believe that the Patriots will be playing, in their heart of hearts, for respect and for glory and for the memory of team owner Bob Krafts ever-so-dearly departed Myra H. Kraft, who I believe will pnce again be looking down at the game and cheering for her New England Patriots.

And if that’s not enough to carry them to victory, I don’t know what else is.

Go Patriots!!!!

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Detroit’s On Fire!!!

Oh my, indeed.

Yes, the city of Detroit is on fire again. Well, not literally. I’m talking about the city’s sports teams.

The Detroit Tigers are currently scrapping it out with the Texas Rangers for the American League Championship and the right to go to the 2011 World Series for the first time since 1984. Young, tall fastball pitcher Justin Verlander and a lineup of crackerjack batters are lighting it up on the mound and at the plate. After two games in Texas, the team returns this week for three straight nights at home and a chance to take the lead in the series and set things up for a pennant victory.

Meanwhile, the shocking and still undefeated Detroit Lions are slated to take on the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football tonight at Ford Field here in the Motor City capturing the national spotlight. It’s the first time in a decade that the Bears have played in Detroit and the Detroit Lions offensive line will do their best to protect young quarterback Mathew Stafford who has a bad history of being knocked out of games by the aggressive Chicago Bears defense.
Stafford has suddenly become the “franchise QB” for the Lions and their new spread offense has been modeled around him. Meanwhile, the 2 wins and 2 losses Bears come to town with something to prove and a chance to bring the soaring Lions back to earth.

Oh yeah. And then there’s always the always sensational Detroit Red Wings, who play hockey at the Joe Louis Arena, right next door to where I live. The Red Wings are so good that most locals have come to pretty much expect them to go to the Stanley Cup finals every season. Anything less than that from this team of fast skating, sharp shooters is considered a disappointment. In fact, most local hockey fans believe the aging Detroit Red Wings are well overdue for another Cup Championship and it would be very sweet to see a Detroit Red Wings-Boston Bruins Stanley Cup final in May of 2012.

Yup, with all the excitement here in Detroit, I almost missed the festivities at the “new Garden” in my beloved Boston, where I was born and spent most of my life. And truth be told, I still miss being back in Boston where I can best root for (gulp) the Red Sox, Bruins and New England Patriots.

But for the time being, I’m still here in Detroit and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it is really a lot of fun to see these Detroit teams playing so well. Heck, if there’s any city in these still United States, it is Detroit that needs something to be proud about. It is Detroit that needs something, anything to rally around. I mean, look what the New Orleans Saints did for that beleaguered city. And the Saints are still going strong as N’Awlins slowly tried to come back from the devastation of Katrina.

So I’ve jumped upon the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions bandwagons and who knows how long that ride will last.

But for the first time since I moved here almost three years ago, I can honestly say that it is kinda fun to live in Detroit.

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Boston Bruins Win Stanley Cup!!!

Congratulations to Goalie Tim Thomas and the entire Boston Bruins team for their Stanley Cup Victory last night in Game Seven against the Vancouver Canucks.

Wow!

What a game!

What a night!

The Bruins had to win their third Game Seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs to capture the holy grail of hockey. It was the first time in 39 years, going back to 1972 and the Orr/Esposito era, since the Bruins went all the way!!!

For me, it was one of the happiest sports moments of my life and as I celebrated over the phone with my sister Patricia (or Patty Cakes, as we call her) and my lovely fiancee, Janet, all I could think of was that my father must have been smiling somewhere and taking in all the glory.

I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning listening to Sports Talk Radio and even got through on the phones to deliver my congratulations to the Boston Bruins and their fans. I wish so badly that I could be in Boston for the Bruins Duck Boat Parade.

In the end the Bruins won with heart and with skill, with toughness and with agility, with grit and talent – just like the Big, Bad Bruins of old.

And now they are all legends, part of the great sports history of the City of Boston. (Seven Championships in 10 years, not too shabby)

Again, congratulations to The 2010/2011 Boston Bruins on their Stanley Cup victory. Whooo-hooo!!!!

This one’s for you, Dad.

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Boston Bruins: Tonight’s Date With Destiny

So it all comes down to tonight’s Game Seven. The Boston Bruins have gone 40 years without winning the Stanley Cup.

Tonight they could win it all. But they’ll have to do it on the road.

The Boston Bruins have now played more than a hundred games in one season in their quest for hockey’s holy grail. And now they need one more “W” in Game 7 in Vancouver.

Tonight the 2010/2011 Boston Bruins will play on the other side of the continent in the Canadian city of Vancouver.

They’ll be playing for all the fans who have followed the Black and Gold through the years.

They’ll be playing for one of the toughest Bruins ever Eddie Shore:

They’ll be playing for legendary Bruins captain Milt Schmidt, who not only played…

But who also coached, and served as President and assistant General Manager and who served as Banner Captain before Game Six..

Tonight they’ll be playing for other Bruins legends like Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, Phil Esposito and the greatest ever, Bobby Orr…

Yes, Bobby Orr who was on the last Bruins team to win the Stanley Cup in 1972…

The Bruins will play for all the guys who came after 1972 and never won the Stanley Cup in Bruin’s uniforms. For Ray Bourque, Craig Janney, Goalie Pete Peters and the current Bruins President Cam Neeley, who was traded to the Bruins from Vancouver and may want the Stanley Cup more than anyone in the building tonight…

For all these guys, the Bruins will take the ice tonight with their eyes on the prize. Lord Stanley’s Cup. In all of sports, it’s probably the most sought after award…

Just one more win. That’s all it will take for the Boston Bruins.

There destiny is in their own hands. There’s only one thing left to say:

Go Bruins!!!!

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Boston Bruins: One Game From Glory


Last night the Boston Bruins tied their Stanley Cup final series against the classless Vancouver Canucks 3 games apiece. Now we must wait for tomorrow night. The first Stanley Cup finals game seven in the history of the Boston Bruins franchise (est. 1924).
Here’s something to pass the time and get in the mood if you happen to be a Bruins fan. (Be sure to watch the full screen version.)

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The Boston Bruins, My Father and Me

I’ve been watching the Boston Bruins, in their quest for the coveted Stanley Cup, for the last couple of months. And I could be wrong, but I swear I’ve been watching the games with my father. Which seems impossible, since he passed away away in 1989. But it feels that way. Let me explain.

I’ve been a Bruins fan since I was 10 or 11 years old. With aluminum foil attached to the rabbit ears of our puny television set, I remember watching the Big, Bad Bruins on Channel 38. Through that often snowy, fuzzy VHF TV image I got my first taste of sports legends like Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny “Pie” McKenzie and Goaltender Gerry (Cheese) Cheevers. My father and I would watch pretty much every game that was televised, enthralled by the end to end rushes by a Bobby Orr and that incredible scoring machine named Phil Esposito. When the Bruins scored we’d jump to our feet and hoot and holler. When they’d fight we’d yell at the TV, as if they could hear us. For a kid like me, it was heaven on earth to watch the Bruins with my Dad.

My uncle Fran was a Boston police lieutenant, who had the assignment on Bruins game nights to maintain peace and civility at the Boston Garden press entrance. This, my dear reader, was akin to having the key to paradise. Whenever we wanted, including during playoff games, my Day and I would scoot surreptitiously through the old turnstiles and into the old Boston Garden. Oh, what joy!

So even when the games were sold out, we could get in. We didn’t always have a seat, but we could stand behind the last row of the first balcony. I’d often find a couple of seats and sometimes, if folks didn’t show up, we sat in the seats for the entire game. But for a 12 year old kid, just being in the building with such greatness was fantastic. I can remember going down to box seats near the ice before the games to watch the Bruins warm up. Now mind you, these were the days before helmuts, so we could get a really close look at our heroes. Orr, Espo, Ken Hodge, Johnny Pie, Wayne Cashman, Freddy Stanfield, Don Marcotte, and the rest.

But mostly we watched Orr. With his shock of light brown hair, our hero was a sight to see in person. He seemed not to skate, but to fly around and around the ice during warm-ups. He skated faster and shot harder than anyone else on either team. And this was during the warm-ups. When game time came he was even more intense. Night after night after night, Orr carried the Boston Bruins. He was dynamite on ice.

He was the greatest hockey player ever. Period.

My father cheered the Bruins on with an intensity that seemed to sometimes exceed that of the Bruins players. He was incredibly passionate about sports and it showed. When the Bruins would score, he would yell “GOAL!!!” so loudly and the sound seemed to come from deep inside him. It was a guttural sound of glee. In fact, it was so loud, sometimes I’d be slightly frightened by it. That’s how intense he was. And if there was ever a fight, he would holler just as loud.

I remember one Bruins game we attended during which we found seats fairly close to the ice. The Bruins were playing the rival, hated New York Rangers, with their star defenseman Brad Park. Orr, who was so tough nobody would dare challenge him to a fight, was bickering with Park all game. You knew something was brewing (Or Bruin?). Suddenly, near our end of the ice, Orr and Park dropped their gloves and squared off to fight. The refs let them go at it. The two star defensemen hammered away at each other. About halfway through the fight, my father, who was standing already, screamed out, “You get him, Bobby” and I swear to this day that I thought my Dad was on the verge of scaling the Plexiglas and jumping onto the ice to join in the fight. Ha ha ha. I was actually surprised, my Dad wasn’t ejected from the game, along with Orr and Park.

In the 1972 playoffs, when we watched a couple rows back behind the last row of the balcony. The game was tied in when we watched Bruins left winger Ace Bailey (who was tragically killed during 9/11, a passenger on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center) went whipping down the near side. We stood on our toes and saw Bailey’s flash of blond hair as he skated in and scored the winning goal. It was pandemonium inside the old Boston Garden. The Bruins would go on to win their second Stanley Cup in three years. It would also be their last Stanley Cup for 40 years and right up to this final series. But I’ll never forget my father using his best broadcast voice (his dream was to be a sportscaster) to recound Bailey’s goal to me after the game. Good old Ace Bailey…

Hard to believe that was 40 years ago. So many things have changed. I’m older now and have much less hair, and hopefully much more wisdom. The old Boston Garden was the victim of the wrecking ball. It has been replaced by a monolith of a building in the same spot with absolutely no personality, called the “new Garden.” Yeah, sure. And as I wrote, cancer stole my father’s chance to live to an old age. I still miss him all the time.

But the game of hockey has basically stayed the same. There was a fellow named Gerry Cheevers who used to mind the net for the Bruins. He sure was a character. Cheesy would mark his face mask with a magic marker every time he got hit in the face.

Now we’ve got another truly great goalie named Tim Thomas, from Michigan, who pretty much stands on his head to stop every shot that comes at him. He’s truly the best player on the ice every night.

The names have all changes, but the spoked B still stands out proudly in Black and Gold. And tonight the Bruins will play one of the most important games since they first started playing 77 years ago. If they lose, they will have had an incredibly exciting, with a very sad end. And if they win, they’ll have another shot for the cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.

Either way, I’ll be watching. And when the Bruins score (and hopefully they’ll score early and often), my father’s spirit will be sitting next to me, screaming his guts out, jumping in the air, throwing his arms out to me, in victory.

Yes, in sweet, sweet victory. So, for my Dad, and for all the fathers and sons who have similar stories, let’s hope the Big, Bad Bruins win.

Go Bruins!!!!

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Win Win – Wrestling With Life

Win Win is a victorious little film that wrestles with some of life’s unexpected twists and turns. It’s a humble but lovable little lesson of how we unknowingly entangled ourselves and the difficulty of finding a way to straighten things out.

At first glance at the promotional poster, one might think that this is just another cliche high school sports stories like the formulaic and overrated The Blind Side, and dozens of others just like it. And without fine acting performances by Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan (Holly from The Office), and nifty newcomer Alex Shaffer, this movie could easily have descended into that same mold. But instead, Director Thomas McCarthy (who also directed The Station Agent and The Visitor) has created a quirky and ultimately uplifting tale about a not-so-nuclear family simply trying to make it through the trials and tribulations of modern life. Win Win is a movie that refuses to run away from the betrayals and complications that every family must tackle. And the ultimate redemption that these characters find is won not with the typical bravura of most sports films, but with simple, straightforward solutions.

Paul Giamatti plays a middle-age attorney, husband and father of two daughters struggling to pay the bills and keep the wolf from the door. By day, he’s working various cases in court. At night, he moonlights on another kind of court as the coach a losing high school wrestling team. The problems begin when Giamatti’s character attempts a sly move. He’s presented with the opportunity to bring in some badly needed cash by caring for an elderly gentleman (played with gusto and by Burt Young of Rocky fame) who is clearly incapable of caring for himself. So the coach agrees to become his guardian, and eventually places him an assisted care home.

All seems to be fine until the appearance on his doorstep one day of a slightly strange, teen named Kyle complete with bleached white hair looking for his grandfather. The teen, played by newcomer Alex Shaffer, is adrift in the world, while his mother remains in rehab for substance abuse problems. Oh, what a tangled web the coach has weaved, especially when the mother appears, demanding her son along with custody of her father and the money that Giamatti’s character was pocketing. Meanwhile, Giamatti’s Coach Flaherty has discovered that Kyle is, among other things, an exceptionally talented wrestler, who could carry his entire team to victory.

More complications ensue when Kyle disappears, and Coach Flaherty’s elderly charge decides that there really is no place like home. Giamatti is pitch perfect as a guy who is just trying so darn hard to do the right thing and always ending up doing the wrong thing. But in the end, while Kyle leads his wresting team to victory, a solution is found and the film ends in an uplifting manner.

Win Win may not win any awards for greatness, but if you’re looking for a film that will warm and cheer you up while we wait for the long overdue Spring you could do a heck of a lot worse.

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