[ Only seeing the commentary? Click here to view the rest of the site. ]

Jan. 17, 2009 - It Was Mug Night
   • A sporting weekend that, sadly, in no way included this.

Five different players scored a goal for the Terriers, who improve to 16-5-1 overall with a 9-5-1 Hockey East record. The result gave the Terriers five points (two wins, one tie) in their season series with the Eagles, marking their best showing against their arch-rival since the 1994-95 season, when they won all three contests.
-- I'm starting to become interested again,
which can only mean collapse is imminent.

   Friday night was my P-Bruins debut, which got off to a rolling start. Not only did Julie inexplicably get given free tickets while I was still off parking the car, I found this guy:

Flag Guy
-- Spectator highlighted to enlarge awesomeness.

   Injuries on the parent club thinned the number of players I knew on the home side to an embarassing level, though I'm reasonably certain I will never forget Wacey Rabbit.

Rabbit grew up in southern Canada on a reservation just outside of Alberta. According to Wacey, it is not uncommon for Native Americans to take the names of different things in nature, which was the case for Wacey and everyone else in his tribe.

"My first name, Wacey, came from a professional bull rider," said Rabbit. "He was the 1985 World Champion -- Wacey Cathey. And Rabbit was my family name. Itís not a big thing but it is funny because bull riding was the popular thing to do for my tribe in the summer and then hockey in the winter."

"I ordered a pizza earlier in the season and they weren't going to take my order because they thought I was pranking them," laughed Rabbit. "I'm proud of the name and it is a great conversation starter."

-- This sort of humility will come in handy when he hits Boston and the fleet of "Oh, hey, the hockey team is good!" columnists is dispatched.

   Rabbit was a stirring -3 on Friday, where the No. 1 star was ... Noted BC Alum Nathan Gerbe, who scored twice and whose continued existence I had simply been ignoring.

-- He's out there somewhere.

   As for Saturday, the story is short. I went to see the sister-in-law's basketball game. She mangled her ankle late in the first half and ended up at the hospital -- it's not broken. This is the second time this has happened at a game I've attended, meaning that my neglect of her career is actually for the family's benefit.

   I paid my penance with an Angry Whopper, which shockingly did not live up to expectations. It was angry for exactly one bite, and while it was rather angry, it didn't make up for the rest of it mostly just tasting like mayonnaise.

   Not that I won't be getting another to test whether that's something else I can blame on the city of Worcester, where hope goes to die.

Catching Up With Sox Next Big Thing
-- Lars Anderson, meet the people who just keep saying your name like they've ever seen you play.

Next Challenge For Sox? Keeping Papelbon
-- That's not entirely true, but Inside Baseball clears that up.

Jan. 14, 2009 - Another Great Day Off Working
   • I have a journalism story to tell. I can only hope writing this serves as some level of decompression, because it's desperately needed.

   My first story of the new year was this one, which pertained to the reaction of the Cape League owner in our coverage area to the new team a rival league is placing in Whale City. It was, in that context, a very good story if I do say so myself. Said owner has been a huge advocate for summer baseball here, and is extremely well spoken.

   I had called him the day the team was announced, as his opinion was among the most obvious/needed to get on the subject. He didn't return my call for a week and a half. Normally this would steam me, since I have an inordinately difficult time getting calls returned, but said owner is 70 and battling cancer. I didn't fault him for a second, to the point I'd shelved ever hearing from him when he responded and gave me 20-something minutes.

It is always a treat to talk with John Wylde, but I'd have to argue few chats will top my most recent, which began thusly:

"I am cancer-free."

Two Septembers ago, the giant of a man who saved the Wareham Gatemen from extinction learned he had a rare form of liver cancer. It wasn't known whether he'd live to see his 70th birthday last April, never mind the end of his 25th year of involvement with the Cape Cod Baseball League.

The baritone may not boom exactly how it once did, but it's not long before he's beaming about his Gatemen.

   That was the lede to my story, and I stand by every word of it, the quote included. Those are the words that were said ... I can not stress that enough. I'm not without fault in what follows, but there is nothing in that story that is factually untrue.

   The story obviously gained traction beyond its intended audience ... Wylde is beloved, and given the cancer in question had initially been diagnosed as inoperable, that quote made a lot of people very happy.

   The team issued its own statement here -- regardless of how its dated, multiple people have confirmed that "October 24" message went up after my story was published. Their phrasing it as "total remission" really didn't surprise me or strike me as odd ... no one from the Gatemen had contacted us to express any unhappiness with what we published.

   I didn't feel great about the discrepancy, but I also didn't pay it much mind ... again, my feeling being if there was a problem, we would be contacted by Wylde or the team and respond accordingly. Fast forward to today, when the Cape Cod Times published this.

Weak of voice and short of breath, Wareham Gatemen president John Wylde said in a telephone interview Monday that he was not cancer free, as a recent column in the New Bedford Standard-Times reported and which raised the spirits of people in and around the Cape Cod Baseball League.

"I'm not cancer free. I'm in remission," said Wylde, for 25 years one of the kingpins of the Cape League and a member of the Cape League Hall of Fame. "There's a difference."

   Obviously, there was a problem. I'm not sure whether to term my report "wrong" given that is a genuine, unadulterated quote, but it was at best misleading. I certainly understood that inoperable liver cancer doesn't just disappear. In the process of writing, I worked on several segues from the quote to the actual subject matter of the story ... the one I settled on was far too weak to fully clarify a piece of news that significant.

   I'll be calling Wylde on Friday morning to at the very least leave a message apologizing for his needing to clarify my work, and I feel like a complete ass. I am not mad at him in the least. Yes, my quote is verbatim, but I certainly left something hanging in the translation.

   I am furious at our "sister paper," who saw fit to completely trash my work and my entire section without at least giving us the chance to explain our side of things.

   Is that really an unreasonable request? Isn't it a journalist's business to allow all sides of a story to have their point of view published? If you're going to completely discount the work of another publication, especially one you share an owner, staff and content with, shouldn't your first instinct be to pick up the phone?

   That's not what gets me the most ... what gets me the most is my own gaffe, since if I can't successfully do this job, I have exactly zero marketable skills. But a close second is how this happened.

   Despite a perceived history of one paper looking down its nose on the other, despite that part of the state looking on this one as a third-world country, despite there being any number of ways to write that story to soften the blow on my colleagues, I pin this somewhere else.

   I pin it on the people down the road never for a moment thinking that this story would make me and my entire paper look like complete idiots.

   They've got a bigger circulation than us. They've got a bigger staff than us, and they're in better financial shape (barely) than us. In journalism terms, they're higher up the food chain, yet couldn't come up with the most elementary reaction to a story they blew out as their Web site lead (at the very least) all day long.

   That's the industry I chose, that my family paid tens of thousands of dollars to train me in and that I'm going to try to support a family in for as long as they let me.

   I feel sick about the first mistake. Stupid is not even the word for how I feel about the second one.
Jan. 12, 2009 - Uncomfortable
   I Am Not A Prude: At least I didn't think I was, until I saw the Naples News 2008 Swimsuit Edition -- the things that get banner ads on spring training stories.

   The concept certainly isn't new. It's just a little jarring when they start throwing high school juniors around.

   Course, a co-worker and I are also of similar mind on volleyball shorts -- out of all the girls who play, how has there not been even one mother in seven years who's called us complaining about their shortness? This is high school sports ... we get calls from parents of kids at our biggest school, angry because they're not getting covered enough.

   It would only seem natural to hear that, hey, they're also not getting covered enough.

   • Jim Rice got in the Hall of Fame. I have a hard time believing that there aren't at least a few people out there who thought of me when they heard the news.

Subject: where did you come from?
Date: Sun 11 Jan 2009
From: [____]
To: Work

   Read you for the first time today because of a link in the Remy report -- you don't have a clue about Jim Rice, he should be in the HOF. Everything else in your column was taken from other outlets. I can't believe you make a living writing about sports.

   Put away your #5 jersey -- you're not a Red Sox fan.
-- At worst, the grammar is all but impeccable.

   Please note the crescendo. The final "stick it to me" point. The one that's supposed to send me home weeping.

you're not a Red Sox fan

   If only I'd have accepted Jerry Remy as my personal savior back when I had the chance. I mean, who couldn't use more T-shirts?

   I spent a good chunk of time after my shift on Tuesday night on Baseball Reference, trying to come up with a list of guys who should now be reconsidered for the Hall of Fame since Rice got in. (Not to be confused with the chunk of time at 2 p.m. that resulted in this.

   After about a half-hour of slogging, I realized something. I really don't want to think about Jim Rice's Hall of Fame candidacy ever again.

   Remind me of that when it's been six months since I got a reader comment.

Jan. 10, 2009 - Help Me Mock This
   Exhibit Q, If Not Higher: Q&As with people like Ron Artest just aren't put out there enough.

Ron Artest Q&A
-- From Sporting News Today. Let's say a couple weeks ago.

   Doesn't it say something if your superstition is to never eat bacon, and then you eat bacon? And for that matter, I'm not up on my religious symbolism, but doesn't God's return to the Earth mean that the world ends? That's your pre-death hope?

   Completely unrelated, Tiger beats God in friendly golf match. Really weird, even before you get to the weed reference that undoubtedly started the whole thing.

In or Out, Rice Got A Fair Shake
-- Not all returns are triumphant, it seems.

   • A lot of people find humor in fortune cookies. Some go au naturel, some throw the "in bed" on the end and giggle like schoolkids.

Odd Fortunes
-- These are from Thursday night at our best local Chinese place.

   These aren't Engrish, but they sure as hell aren't English. Maybe one gets the benefit of the doubt, but the other is clearly ... something.

   This would be less surprising if I thought this place, or any place, wrote its own cookies. Their menu is a copy editor's hell, unless noodle really is spelled with just one 'o'.
Jan. 8, 2009 - In The Wrong Business
   This Must Be An Elaborate Hoax: VH1's Tool Academy

The guys, all secretly nominated by their girlfriends, initially believe they are taking part in a competition in search of "Mr. Awesome." But the tables are turned almost immediately and they quickly learn that they are actually recruits in the Tool Academy, where they will be schooled in proper boyfriend behavior -- covering topics like honesty, fidelity, maturity, and communication with resident relationship counselor Trina Dolenz.

Each week the guy who shows the least progress in the group is deemed a hopeless tool and dismissed from the academy. But there's a twist: he must then plead his case before his girlfriend, who decides on the spot if she wants to keep him or kick him to the curb.

In the end, only one man will be rewarded for his transformation with a $100,000 cash prize and the title of "Mr. Awesome."

-- ... and the trailer.

   So they are actually competing in a "Mr. Awesome" contest. It's not a ruse. It's simply framed in a different construct. To say nothing of the fact that the premise is also, "These poor girls, stuck with these jackholes!" They are aware they're not being chained in a crawlspace between episodes, yes?

   Oh, and the counselor has taken to advertising herself (with audio, even) as a "TV couples therapist." Reality TV, America's underrated job creation engine.

   • In honor of Thursday night's Boston Chapter of the BBWAA dinner, please note that I am a pioneer in the field of professional organization membership. Fifty years from now, the baseball writer at the United States Herald, Massachusetts Edition, SouthCoast subset will look back to me as the region's trail-blazer in bad baseball writing.

   He'll then get back to work on his Little League roundup, which he's of course transmitting telepathically or something.

   Please also note that during an attempt to locate inexpensive parking in South Boston around the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel today, I ended up on the Mass Pike westbound and had to drive all the way back across the city, at which point relenting to the $31 charge in the hotel garage made the most sense.

   In my defense, I had more than an hour to kill before the afternoon media availability, leading me to pass up several open meters some distance away in hopes of finding something better. Not exactly the best strategy in an area where half the roads are one way and a quarter of the other ones just kind of become highway on-ramps.

   It was all worth it to see a master craftsman dominate a horde interview, though I should explicitly warn you clicking that link will violate any 2009 resolutions not to read Dan Shaughnessy columns.

Jan. 6, 2009 - They're Everywhere
   A Baby Day: Becca, my oft-mentioned niece, can now crawl. This development coming days before another couple in our circle entered the offspring party. (Well, at least the lobby of the party.)

   I don't exactly feel the walls closing in, but then again, I'm usually the last one to as it is.

   Technical Knockout: Part of the reason for the New Year's delay in posts, which believe it or not is separate from the end-of-2008 delay in posts, was because I was again attempting to redesign/migrate the site.

   Of course, I've become such a design snob, I hate every theme I'm seen and I'm not smart enough to design one that I actually like. Thus, raw HTML and obtuse forms of linking remain king. WordPress and Twitter, keep on leading that outside-my-circle technology parade filled with other things I'll figure out three years after everyone else.

   (Course, the design snob stuff is also why I'm ready to quit my job over the addition of a "rail" to the sports cover, thus ensuring we have an obtuse graphical element that makes it impossible to design any cover that doesn't suck. If you ask me, part of the path back for newspapers might be to start being newspapers again and stop trying to be half-assed versions of Web sites and television, but what the hell do I know?)

   • Take solace, Carl Pohlad. When it comes to the loyalists partying after an owner's death, Bill Wirtz remains the standard bearer.

   Yes, the link is to the vaunted Red Sox message board "Sons of Sam Horn," but that's only because the Kill Bill Wirtz guy has really let things slip since his independence day.
Jan. 5, 2009 - Training
   The Stretching Catalog: I guess when you're writing a whole book on just stretching, there's going to be some need to pad it out.

The Always-Popular Hair Pull Stretch
-- Note also, the eye stretching.

   The key, as always, is moderation.

   The Cutest Thing Ever: This is an actual e-mail sent to our department. The only way it could be better is if it were directly sent to me.

Subject: BC Athletics Promotion
Date: Mon 5 Jan 2009
From: [____@bc.edu]
To: Work

   Dear Standard-Times,

   Happy New Years from Boston College Athletics Department!

   I am writing you to tell you about an exciting new promotion by Boston College athletics geared at your geographic region. Special prices are now available to residents of Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod & the Islands for men's and women's basketball and menís ice hockey.

   We are asking your help in promoting these special games (see attached press release). Any mention in your sports section would be helpful and we would also like to work with you to secure advertisements. We are prepared to offer free tickets to the game for staff and promotional use as well as putting your name and logo on BCEagles.com as an official sponsor of the event.

   The Boston College men's basketball team is coming off an impressive win over #1 North Carolina and looking forward to a challenging ACC schedule in 2009. The men's hockey team is the reigning national champion and womenís basketball is off to a strong start under new coach Sylvia Crawley.

   I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with you about this opportunity further. I can be reached ...

   Thank you and Go Eagles!

   I lied. The only way it could be better is if I didn't feel like I owed the readers information about this. Of all the times for me to care about my job ...

   • Today, we were given the password to a Web site that allows me access to every page of my newspaper, as published in the print edition, since the middle of 2006. It also includes archives for at least 100 other papers for various periods.

   All this time, I thought a good amount of my latent dorkiness had worn away. Apparently, it just needed a new outlet, since I spent an hour tonight reading the special sections of the Denver Post from the 2007 World Series run.

   Most of those special sections, of course, being the ones I read when I was actually in Colorado. My reaction then is the same as it is now:

   How in the hell has Woody Paige risen to any level of prominence? I have no doubt it's out there, but I'm barely even seeing glimmers. He writes like I wrote in high school: the one-liners first, how they fit into the flow later.

Jan. 4, 2009 - Two
   Ah, Memories: Based on one of the protagonists getting stuck on some sort of public transportation and turning to it for solace, I direct you back in time to the pinnacle of my overwriting career, Cooch in the Canaries.

   Part of me wants to say it's way too many pages commemorating Spring Break '02, but all these years later, damn if I didn't spent the better part of an hour transfixed by the thing.

   It is, of course, rife with editing errors, none more hilarious than my trying to make a ham-handed gay joke about Provincetown and writing Providence. I'm reasonably certain at that point in my life, I'd been through Providence maybe once, ever. Definitely had never even thought about New Bedford.

   I suppose it's also apt to think of the Canaries now since one of the other females on the trip apparently got married this weekend. She remains the only person I know of to stop speaking to me based on something I wrote on the site ... it's not like anything I wrote wasn't true, but I probably should have felt a lot worse about her reaction a few years before I did.

   Hindsight being 20-20, if I had to kill a friendship with one of the females on the trip, I definitely chose the wrong one.

   • Forgotten from Saturday night, the following quote was overheard in the line to pre-pay for the parking garage at the Providence Place mall:

I'm not going to look stupid
by putting a rogue in a druid guild.

   I'd imagine it would not shock you to learn the line was largely made up of a group of people leaving Dave and Buster's. I'd imagine it would shock you to learn it was delivered by a girl.

   I think I'm mangling it a little bit. Were I a more outgoing person, I would have immediately turned around and started asking what the hell that meant. I mean, if it's so important, how could someone shoehorn a rogue in a druid guild, anyway?

Wylde Gives Bay Sox His Best
-- Region's baseball institution offers Whale City a thumbs-up.
And oh yeah, he may be over cancer.

   I mean at some point, some radio station's going to have to call me to talk about the Bay Sox, aren't they? I'm responsible for at least 80 percent of the copy ever written about the damn team, and I think I just announced their schedule before they did. Sometimes, the beat finds you, I guess.
Jan. 3, 2009 - In All Fairness ...
   Year in Review: In what should come as a shock to no one, there will not be a series of year-in-review posts, in which I simply quote stuff I still think is funny months down the road. I had enough of a time doing that for the newspaper:

S-T Sports 2008 Year in Review
-- This is my third edition of this, and I've never regretted taking it over. Though the newsprint stains after rifling through 366 sections are fierce.

   In lieu of that, allow me to make veiled references to my finances from the year, which I just finished tabulating in the going-on-seven year old spreadsheet designed for said purpose.

   -- I made roughly $3,000 less this year than I did in 2007, a fact directly attributable to the Red Sox doing worse in October. (Also, my paper's stance on coverage.) That might be one of my favorite aspects of the job: Despite my pure fandom of the team being largely non-existant anymore, I have a financial stake in them doing well.

   The drop is even steeper when you consider the completely absurd wedding gifts we received, gifts for which we haven't, um, sent out, uh, thank you cards for yet. So, yeah. Thanks. Really. They're on the way. Hey, maybe for the anniversary!

   -- My discretionary spending this year was lower than in any year since 2004, and almost $8,000 less than in 2007. Since Julie's engagement did not cost anywhere close to $8,000, I apparently made a market correction that no one else pointed out to me.

   -- I spent more on cable television than I did on both electricity and gas for heating. That somehow seems not right.

   -- My IRA had 40 percent less money in it on Jan. 1 than it did at its high point last October. That would depress me much more if I wasn't poor to begin with.

   • Brief holiday recap.

   -- We got Guitar Hero for Christmas, but with only the guitar. It's already broken once, but I managed to fix it using the technical skills I learned as a child.

   I took the neck of the guitar off and blew into the connection. Take that, non-responsible blue fret.

   -- Our New Year's celebration was playing Guitar Hero with friends and missing the ball drop by several seconds, which is what everyone decided they wanted to do after we ate at the local hibachi place.

   I was a little surprised to learn that the chefs pretty much all have the same shtick no matter which independent hibachi place you go to, though I probably shouldn't have been given there's only so many ways one can make an onion volcano and almost give a table of people flash burns. Our guy did, however, offer everyone a squirt of sake from the condiment bottle he kept it in for use cooking.

   I of course took him up on this, then closed my mouth mid-stream to swallow and ended up doused in the stuff. I am happy to report, however, that sake does not burn if you get it in your eye.

   -- I've discovered a new love for our outdoors columnist (who doubles as the jeweler who wanted way too much for Julie's engagement ring, but he's still a hell of a guy). Not that I haven't read his columns before, but when you carry on the argument of "things used to be better in the good old days" for almost 50 inches of newspaper column space, you are God-damned committed to the idea.

Today, some kids aren't happy unless theyíre sucking on a dollar-fifty bottle of spring water or a three-dollar Coolata.

We ate penny candy, by the dime-full. We didn't need fiber in our diets. We ate enough paper stuck on the back of those candy dots on the adding-machine-roll to keep us "regular."

We had cavities and had to tough-it-out in the dentist chair. There was no pre-medicating like they do for this generation of coddled sissies.

   I'd quote the whole thing, but we could use the clickthrough.
2008: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2007: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2006: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2005: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]