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Nov. 29-30, 2007 - With Octopus? A Helmet of Ice Cream
   • I could talk an awful lot about soccer, but I'm going to try to keep things relevant.

   So, Giada's Weekend Getaways came to Boston. I only know this because the show aired tonight, and Julie and I stumbled across it after an exciting day of ... criss-crossing the state so she could file paperwork for her new car, which she now has.

   If I cracked up my car, I'd get a check for a couple grand and a kick in the nuts. She cracks up her car, and she ends up getting a check that allows her to buy a Mazda Protege with a moonroof, power everything and a CD player ... a nicer car than she had in the first place.

   Clearly, I'm doing something wrong.


   Anyway, Giada's weekend in the city begins, where else, at Fenway Park. (Actually, it began at Great Bay, which I liked a lot better when it was an IHOP, it was 6 a.m., and I'd been drinking all night.)

   So on she and her friend's way to their seats on the right field roof, where the graphic will proclaim Friday, 7 p.m., they show a montage. (A montage!) During the montage, they show Jon Lester warming up, then a shot of the press box.

"Hey! Were you at this game?"

   Enter "Cooch deconstructing film with Zapruder-like precision." Jon Lester start, facing Joe Blanton, Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup ... it's got to be Sox 11, A's 6 from Sept. 26, which is the only Jon Lester start I saw before the World Series.

   And was on a WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

Giada, Liar
-- Bathe in blood-like tomato sauce, liar.

   Again, if we can't trust television shows, what can we really trust?

   That's right. That in the course of an hour, Giada will overpronounce at least six things and stare uncomfortably into your soul with her chest hanging out.

   Thanks for getting Julie to ask me why we don't go "anywhere fun" in Boston. Because I don't drive that 60-mile route enough times over the course of a year.
November 28, 2007 - And Ties? You Bet!
   • I'm sure there were a lot of people today who called up Comcast and ordered their "Sports and Entertainment Pack," which features NFL Network.

   I'm not sure there's a lot of people who did it, though, because they watched one Champions League game on ESPN2 and decided they immediately needed to have Fox Soccer Channel.

   Why was I late for work today? Because I was transfixed by a Fulham-Blackburn Rovers match that not only already happened, but that I knew the outcome of because I'd discussed it with a coworker who watched it when it actually happened. He loves soccer. I love soccer, but was telling him how I couldn't bring myself to order FSC because I would then watch it every day.

   The ultimate deciding factor was that the pack is all channels I (or Julie) will watch: FSC, NFL Network, CSTV (for college hockey), all the FOX college networks (for more hockey) and NBA TV (which, OK, I'll never watch). Plus, the three month promotional rate of $5/month eventually balloons to ... $8/month. Over the course of a year, that just means I have to buy 1-2 less jerseys for no reason.

   Of course, now I will never be on time for work ever again. Late last night, I became thrilled by the prospect of watching Swansea City play some other team in the second round of the FA Cup live on Friday afternoon. There may be upwards of 10,000 more exciting things going on on the planet at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday, yet I won't care about any of them.

   I swear, it's because there's English announcers. I hear the accent and zone out like a toddler staring at the colors of a TV. "Zone out" being the technical term for something Julie deals with every day. I think it's stimming.

November 27, 2007 - Warming Glowing Glow
   Geography Dorks, Unite: I'd like to thank collegiate pal and EMT to the stars Jon Rea, because StateTris gives me the prime opportunity to say things that need to be said. Like, "Man. I thought I knew the countries of central and equatorial Africa better than this!"

   The U.S. version reminds me of a cruise ship game from the Great No-Writeup Vacations of 2004. One of the nights, there was some sort of youth party on the back of the ship, where one of the contests involved assembling a U.S. map faster than someone else.

   To say it took the contestants a little longer than it should have would be an understatement. I recall thinking I could have done the puzzle, thrown all the pieces across the deck, collected them and redone the puzzle in the time it took for one of them to do it.

   This was all made OK later in the trip, where I was chosen to be part of a quiz show -- complete with buzzers and a set! -- and won. The picture of me holding my trophy is tremendous for only one reason:

Burn Notice
-- Its displaying of my stance on sunblock usage.

   Hard to believe that jackoff was two months from seeing the Red Sox win the World Series.


   • This was my warning, sent to the office via text message:

Cat in a tree.

   This, I would call a reward.

Christmas Living Room

   There's a definite reason someone does this for me every year with a complete lack of my involvement.
November 26, 2007 - No Reason
   BU 6, Cornell 3: I don't know what's more amazing. That BU dominated a game played in front of an almost entirely hostile 18,200 people at Madison Square Garden, or that the Daily Free Press put together this tremendous multimedia package wrapping it up.

   If that's the kind of stuff I could have done as Web editor of the paper, I might actually have been able to put that experience on my resume without laughing. "Wait, you mean you don't have any need for someone with extensive cutting and pasting experience at odd hours?"


   • There are parts of being in the Boston sports media that I'm not very good at. Take, for example, tonight.

   Tonight was the grand gala unveiling of the 2007 World Series DVD at the Wang Center in Boston. They sell $50 and $25 tickets to this thing, which is basically a premiere party with celebrities, Sox people, the whole nine yards. Everyone who goes gets a copy of the DVD in with their ticket.

   It would have taken me maybe two minutes effort to get into the whole thing. Someone from MLB had actually left me a message last week asking me to come, above and beyond my simply having every right to both be there and cobble together a column about it for Wednesday's paper.

   I was off work tonight, so logically ... I went out to dinner with Julie and ended up at Target, which had giant stacks of the DVD in front of the registers.

   The only reason I didn't buy one? Because someone will buy us one for Christmas, and since I never ask for anything on holidays, I have to leave as many small options as I can.

   At the very least, I'd gotten free copies of the both the Series program and the Sports Illustrated commemorative, which was the next display over. "Media leech in training," I guess would be the proper term.
November 25, 2007 - Cooch Go To Super Bowl?
   Welcome To The Family: There was a point tonight when I asked myself not "Why am I buying a Prince Fielder jersey," but "Why do I want to buy a Prince Fielder jersey?" I never really came up with an answer, but I still bought it. (The jersey pictured, down to the patches, but not anywhere near that price. Thank you, obsessive eBay scouring.)

   When I was in elementary school, I received three hockey pucks as a gift, each with a different logo on them: Bruins, Whalers and Devils, I believe. It led me to decide that I was going to get a hockey puck with every team's logo on them, to the point that I made my father go to a hockey shop in Springfield looking for pucks before the idea petered out.

   Two decades later, the idea's repositioned itself in baseball jerseys. The Brewers, whether or not I go through with removing the name and number, make six. (If I include the Marlins jerseys I both bought Matt and wore once myself, that's seven.) Just one of them was bought at full price, and that one was a gift.

   I can not stress enough how much Meg hated this. If she hadn't been spending most of her time finding reasons to hate me at the end, I dare say this would have topped the list.


   • I love that it's become headline news that the Patriots didn't kick the crap out of an opponent not named the Colts.

   It shouldn't shock you to know my feelings on "running up the score." I would love for them to actually go out and spend 60 minutes at 100 percent ... perhaps against the Dolphins. Beat them 84-3. Then, at the press conference, Bill Belichick can simply say, "Now that? That was us running up the score."

   I'm both pleased and disheartened -- the first for the my profession, the second for society -- that diehard Patriots fans give even a moment's worry about what the national media says about their team. As though it actually matters what Peter King thinks.
November 24, 2007 - Everybody Hates Fort Myers
   Good Thinking: When your staff editorial contains the phrase "maybe this is pointless whining," perhaps you should aim your knives elsewhere. Even knowing the newspaper editorial is among the biggest waste of time in the industry.

Ouch! Here we are, a certified tropical colony of Red Sox Nation, anticipating the rousing welcome we'll give the World Series champs come spring training, and ... wham!

Boston announces it will cut short its spring schedule at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers to play in Japan.

. . .

But we're getting cheated here, very poorly treated, given the overflow crowds that spring training attracts in Fort Myers, in good years and bad.

Will season ticket holders get a price break if the home schedule is truncated? Not much of one, we'd bet, given the price hikes of recent years. And the cutback is no favor to our tourist economy, which looks forward to the spring boost from the Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.

   "Good years and bad," eh? The Red Sox moved to Fort Myers in 1993. In that time, they've had exactly three sub-.500 seasons, and none since 1997. Boston's made seven playoff appearances since moving from Winter Haven, a number the cross-town Twins can match ... if you count back to 1970.

   This is to be expected, though. If you've ever been to Fort Myers, you very quickly figure out why its suburbs now have a higher population than it does.


   • I don't think the Colorado Rockies ever got their parade after losing the World Series. But they're getting the next best thing.

   Their own envelopes!

The envelopes will sell for $10 each, and be available at post offices and by mail order starting Nov. 23.

One of the envelopes is purple and features the words "2007 National League Champions," with the Rockies' logo, World Series insignia and the word "Rocktober." It also includes photos of star Rockies players such as Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Kaz Matsui and Jeff Francis.

The other envelope is yellow, with photos of Rockies players and Boston Red Sox stars such as Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. It also includes the logos of both teams, as well as the World Series insignia.

Both envelopes are postmarked "Oct. 27, 2007, Denver, CO" in honor of the first World Series playoff game ever played in Colorado.

   I'm saddened that my almost 15 years pining to go to Denver were ultimately capped with me having a headache for 36 hours because of the altitude, then spending my free day there holed up in a hotel, eating at a Chili's and only walking to a cool bar late at night.

   However, the envelopes mesh nicely with my newest discovery for greatest work-related association: the Association of Professional Brochure Distributors.

   This, by the way, is the most interesting story ever written with the headline 'Brochure Garners Award.'
November 21-23, 2007 - Turkey Ties
   Links, Web Version: Because I so firmly stand behind Maxim's Five Unsexiest Women Alive -- you make youknowwho No. 1, you've sold me -- I'll allow solely for the creativity of The 12 Greatest Video Game Toilets of All Time.

   I don't think I've ever actually played any of those games, though I always enjoyed the 'Hitman' series despite not being smart enough to figure them out on my own.

   Links, Corporate Version: For reasons he really doesn't understand, Matty Cooch's new job at Borders entitles him to a whopping one percent discount on all Chrysler cars.

   That definitely ranks as the oddest job-related perk I've ever heard, though I have no doubt someone will come with a better one in response to this. It might even be Matt: According to this, he might also be entitled to discounts on boat financing.


   • Proving that I am not poison to hockey teams, the Bruins won their matinee with the Islanders despite my being in attendance. If nothing else, it's good to know that the Boston team whose biggest crime is daring to be average tacks on some $13 in ticket fees per seat. Because that's going to help them seem less pathetic.

   As for Thanksgiving, everything went largely as expected, which is to say it was tremendous. Nearly all of my bridal party is now aware that they are in my bridal party, and we appear to have secured both our ring bearer and flower girl.


   Ray is 6, and is apparently losing his touch because I escaped the farm without any bruises. Earlier in the day, I had talked to him about what his job would be at the wedding. We would be in a church, everyone would be dressed up, and he would be up in the front with the wedding rings. The person in charge would ask for the rings, and I would turn and look at him.

   I then asked him what he would do. He didn't even think for a second.

"I would punch you in the face."

   And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call the right answer.
November 20, 2007 - More College Hockey Action!
   NL Disagreeance: My votes seems to jive a little better than they did in the AL, and that's despite somehow forgetting to include Jake Peavy.

2007 NL MVP Voting
-- Troy Tulowitzki's third-place vote is amusing.

   Jimmy Rollins isn't the MVP. I'm not getting into it, because I don't really care ... just take my word as gospel and figure it out on your own over the Thanksgiving holiday.


   • On Saturday, the Boston U. hockey team will play Cornell in front of a sell-out crowd -- 18,200, so they say -- at Madison Square Garden. A part of me is not very happy that there's no way I can go, since my bargain each year is that in exchange for getting Thanksgiving Day off, I work the other three days of the weekend. (This won't work next year, since I presume I'll have my spectacular 10th high school reunion to deal with at an Agawam townie bar. There is no way in the world I'm missing that.)

   Anyway, I'm ultimately glad that I'm occupied, because I'm not a big fan of watching my alma mater suck. AGAIN. MORE THAN EVER.

   For example, tonight. I could have driven 60 miles to Boston and paid $20-something a ticket to watch the Terriers lose to Harvard. (And they did, in overtime no less.) Instead, I opted to drive two miles and pay $6 a ticket to watch Div. 3 UMass Dartmouth ... lose to Babson, the Corsairs' first home loss in 31 games and approaching two years.

   In and of itself, that's not all that surprising: though UMD is 13th-ranked in Div. 3, Babson is No. 9. Nor was it surprising that Hetland Arena isn't so much an arena as an unheated structure with a rink in it: I've been getting warned about that for the five years that it finally took me to get to a game there.

   I, being a wuss, eagerly took my buddy Ed's offer to sit up with him in the "press box". Julie seemed to enjoy the fact that after one period of just watching the game, I had to start counting the shots on goal because not doing anything was driving me crazy.

   Sadly, it wasn't even a particularly good game. Anyone who took my buddy Mick up on his Sunday plea to get thee there saw UMD look entirely flat and only save face because their goalie kept it close.

   Would Agganis have been permeated by that unmistakable scent of "Um, did I leave all my sweaty gear in that gym bag all last week?" No.

   Do I regret the decision to stay local? Not by a long shot.

   This was only affirmed when, afterward at the 99, the female bartender looked at my license and noted, "You're in the paper all the time." I hope she appreciated her automatic "I recognized Jon Couture in some context" tip boost.
November 19, 2007 - Semi-Agreeance
   • My baseball award ballots were by no means meant as predictions, because trying to figure out an ever-changing voting block for a group that doesn't have a clear answer what they're voting on is crazy.

   But all things considered, I think I held up pretty well. Only two of the top 10 vote-getters in the AL weren't on my ballot at all, and everyone I would have voted for got at least one mention somewhere.

2007 AL MVP
-- Though half my votes would have been lone wolves, as it were.

   Go figure one of my top-10 differences today brought me, and the rest of the region, a ton of relief.

Sox Get Lowell Without Giving Ground
-- So many things I don't have to write about now.

   Though it is nice to see I'm apparently the only sportswriter in the country who thinks Fausto Carmona did anything special this season. And seriously ... Vlad Guerrero third?

   I'm done. I promise.
November 18, 2007 - Robert Kraft Blues Explosion
   Dynamo 2, Revolution 1: You know, what the fuck.

   I'd like to think I could come up with something more poignant than that, but seriously ... come on. There aren't a lot of sports I can still simply view as a fan (even though I've got a critical eye going at the same time, much as I can with soccer).

   Every damned MLS Cup they've been in, I've watched. I bought a ticket to the first one. I listened to torrents of crap from co-workers in the third one. I sat on my couch, alone, for some rare appointment viewing of the fourth one. Every time, I was convinced they were going to win. For actual reasons. For fan reasons.

   They've lost EVERY GOD DAMNED TIME.

   I don't understand why I still care. Save that 2002 final, I've left every Revs game I've ever paid to go see saying, "That wasn't worth it. I'm never going back." Yet I keep going back and I keep watching and I keep hoping that it's all going to go right. The New England Revolution are going to win a title, they'll be even a slight increase in their support, Robert Kraft will get with the rest of the league and build a soccer-specific stadium, and the whole thing will really get going.

   Nope. Shutout, loss in overtime. Shutout again, lose in overtime again. Take lead in overtime, blow it in 71 seconds, lose on penalties.

   Play a dominant first half and take the lead, squander a handful of chances for an (insurmountable) 2-0 lead, then fall apart completely.

   We had a photographer there, and there's a bunch of excellent photos here. I still didn't do him justice, giving the game more play in the section that the Revs have gotten in the past three years. Why? Because I care.

   And I can't f'ing stop myself.


   • Of course, because it's soccer, I was over it in about two hours. It's a nice clean fandom ... all the enjoyable qualities of abusing pharmaceuticals or public drunkenness, without the addiction or physical abuse. Hell, I even find myself enjoying the Celtics.

   But the Pats ... oh my God. Give me a break. What's happening here ... I'm petrified at the thought of them losing, and it goes way beyond fandom or loyalty or possible trips to the Super Bowl or any of it.

   They are fundamentally destroying the league they play in, and doing it under a salary cap that has everybody operating under the same rules.

   All this national bitching about running up the score, going for touchdowns on fourth downs in the third quarter. If you watched Sunday night's game in Buffalo, is there any doubt the Patriots could have scored 80 points? No! None!

   It was like watching a high school game!

PATRIOTS DRIVE CHART
2 plays, 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN
6 plays, 63 yards, TOUCHDOWN
8 plays, 72 yards, TOUCHDOWN
10 plays, 84 yards, TOUCHDOWN
12 plays, 72 yards, TOUCHDOWN
12 plays, 73 yards, TOUCHDOWN
10 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
10 plays, 41 yards, PUNT

-- The punt came from the Bills 36, basically on a 4th-and-1.

   Can you even imagine being a Bills fan? (Poor Sly.) Can you fathom what they would feel like if you were a 13-year-old kid, right in that formative sports age, watching your team be beaten as savagely as is possible?

   I'd like to think that as a sportswriter, I could put this in some sort of proper context. Divest the emotion, sit down, do some digging and be coherent.

   But I'm not on the clock, and I don't want to be.

   I am a Giants fan. I can't truly call myself a Patriots fan, because when I was a kid, I made a choice.

   But dear God, thank you for these Patriots.

   Most of America's jackoffs, transfixed by car-wreck celebrities and giant televisions and oxygen bars, can scream about how they're cheaters until they're blue in the face. They can pray there's comeuppance, secretly hope Tom Brady's knees are destroyed, whatever.

   After the Red Sox winning it all, there's nothing in sports I've ever wanted more than for this Patriots team to go 19-0 and systematically destroy everything forever. There would never be a need for anyone to watch football ever again, because it would have been leveled. As close to the computers figuring out how to perfectly play Tic-Tac-Toe as humans could ever hope to get.

   Please, sporting Gods. Make it happen. I'll still watch, and you know that.

   Look at me and the Revs.
November 17, 2007 - All Soccer, All The Time
   BU 9, Vermont 1: Because that's the logical jump for the Terriers ... the program's largest road win since 1989.

   The Springfield paper only listed it in their agate this morning as 5-1, meaning they either simply printed the list after the second period or someone saw a partial score running across a ticker and thought, "Yeah, that must be a final."

   Both are delightful.


   • If the Revs don't win on Sunday, I'm going to be pissed. And if you don't know what that means, I'm going to be pissed again.

   If I didn't have to work, I'd have taken Robert Kraft up on his free bus. The MLS Cup was an awesome time in '02, even if the Revs never scored. Plus, this year's F list half-time concert? Jimmy Eat World!
November 16, 2007 - Safety School
   • On a bit of a whim, I ended up watching BC and UMass play a scintillating tie. At least, everyone told me it was an exciting game ... I spent almost the entire third period suspecting I was watching a tie develop, though that would have seemed a lot more prescient if I'd told someone.

   Three thoughts:

   1) UMass is starting to develop into a bit of a hockey school ... they drew 7,319 for a non-televised, non-giveaway game, which makes me happy and Julie happier.

   With at least three ice-to-roof sections full of students, the biggest difference? Lot more swearing. Early on, I was trying to figure out exactly what they were all chanting, and it quickly became clear ... yeah, it was just "Fuck you, BC! (clap, clap, clap clap clap)"

   Julie pointed out BU's enjoyment of "The Song" -- third in this video, starting at 0:49, chorus being "___ 'em up, ___ 'em up, BC sucks!" I said that's different, because it's words to a song. Of course it's a complete nonsense reason, but it worked for the few seconds it needed to work and the debate was won.

   2) During the first intermission, Matty Cooch and I went for a walk with Julie, who was buying an overpriced UMass hoodie she's apparently wanted since 1999. Because he was in his jersey, it attracted the attention of a couple guys in white T-shirts mocked up as "Boston College Super Frauds" -- Baldwin was replaced with a sea gull.

   As Matt walked past, he took the brunt. "Hey, BU! How's your football team doing? BU Football!"

   BU hasn't had football since 1997. I was a senior in high school, Matt was in junior high and at best, the two undergrads were even younger than that. That's really the best they could come up with?

   Heck, I'd have given them more credit if they made fun of the hockey team.

   3) I made a bit of a joke about cheering for BC at the game, going so far as to dig out my old BC hat from high school and wearing it in the car for like five minutes (until it started giving me a headache because it's shrunk and I've grown through the years).

   You would have thought I was trying to topple Washington, D.C.

   It warmed my heart, even if it will now be brought up at every BU event in the future as though I wore it in the building and was pictured on the scoreboard with my face painted yellow. I just want to get the truth out there, since I have to live with you people.

   It's a very nice hat. Despite how it all turned out, I'm glad I never set it on fire or had SUCKS stitched across the front of it, like I'd planned to during one particularly exciting hockey season.
November 15, 2007 - My Services, Needed
   • The UMass Dartmouth ice hockey team is pretty good ... so much so, the past two years they've become the first team ever from their conference to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Div. 3 tournament. Because of this, they've got some legitimate banners up at their home arena.

   They're raising the latest on Saturday, and in preparation for that, they sent out some information about the event. (It preceeds the home opener.)

   Among the information is a "photo that may be used in connection with the hockey piece about raising the banner." I open it, presuming it's going to be a nice picture of the banner being sewn, people posing with the banner, etc.

   Here it is:

UMass Dartmouth Hockey
-- As requested, credit to UMass Dartmouth AV/Photographic Services

   Apparently, they don't offer a lot of Photoshop seminars down the street.

   Those are some kick-ass jerseys for a D3 team though, right? Like I wouldn't overpay for one of those in an eBay auction.
November 14, 2007 - Super Karate Monkey Baseball
   • Let the jokes commence about the S-T sending me to Japan. Better yet, since I never seem to use all of my vacation, let's propose I go over myself and attempt to get back without speaking a word of the language.

   Hey, Joe Posnanski did it -- most of them are there, but there's a little November spill. (In that November is the story of Game 5, which not only won the title for Chunichi on a perfect game, but a perfect game where the starter was pulled after eight innings.)

   I can't believe I didn't mention that when it happened.

November 13, 2007 - The College Mind
   • Some of America's greatest philosophy is written in books.

   The rest? Bathroom walls.

Amherst, Mass.

Amherst, Mass.

Amherst, Mass.

   Would on occasional artistic pen-and-ink be too much to ask?

Sox World Keeps Spinning
-- Hey! Smash a bunch of stuff together!

November 12, 2007 - Like Reminiscing, Only Less Warm
   Shop Failingly: I really wanted this jersey. I've wanted this jersey for a long time ... years looking, though that just means I've intermittently looked during several years. Finding this was a shocking stroke of luck, and getting this one meant setting an alarm to be there for those always fun final bidding moments.

   Does it count as sleeping through your alarm if the alarm wakes you up, you get up and turn the alarm off, then instinctively get back into bed and sleep for another 45 minutes?

   Not happy, even though I know both that it's probably for the best I didn't spent 80-something dollars on a Nomar Garciaparra Cubs jersey, and that there's a chance I wouldn't have bid up that high.

   (I would have. I know me, and for as often as I pass on stuff because it gets into the "actual money" part of the price range, I pass so I can be stupid at times like this.)

   I actually spent some time tonight thinking about the possibility of buying a balnk Cubs jersey and getting it professionally lettered somewhere. Fortunately, I can just wait the week and get over it like the "I need an XBox 360 right now" phase that spawned from playing Madden 08 with Vito during the Sox-Yanks series.

   I guarantee the guys who simply stayed at a Marriott didn't have this problem.


   • Alright, let's get this over with. In finishing third at this, I publicly shamed my family by answering tossup questions correctly about the following:

Mastermind
Alex Mack
Deadspin
Better Than Ezra
Dante Hall
Former Cooch interviewee Kristine Lilly
Fathead
The unassisted triple play, which I know off there having been 13 of them.
Elephant by The White Stripes
Robin Ventura (Oklahoma State hitting streak, arthritis ...)
Kim Clijsters
Heelys
The Game Plan
The Container Store (in which I've shockingly never been)
My personal savior Mr. Met
The 12th Man concept
Craig Kilborn's old Daily Show mantra of "Dance, dance, dance!"
BioShock, which someday I might need to play
Preki
Air Guitar (Rachel Dratch judged the world championship?)
My formerly beloved American Hockey League
Fall River favorite Busta Rhymes
'Rock and Roll All Nite' by Kiss ("and have a wonderful ... time")
The number 42 (off Juan Pablo Montoya, of all things)
Katamari!

   Shocking, most of them are sports related.

   Julie will yell she wants her three answers listed too, but I'd like to let that happen organically. Makes me feel both like less or a nerd and closer relationship wise.

   As a wise man once said, "There is no shame. Only points."

   And passing on the berth to go to the national tournament because you have to cover a Sox-Yankees series.
November 11, 2007 - Not Together
   On Record: When Jimmy Rollins wins the NL MVP, please tell those with the pitchforks to avoid my place of residence.

Awards Time Upon Us Again
-- There was no Pats this week, so Inside Baseball returns!

   In reviewing it after the fact, I maybe would have moved Rollins to third ahead of Hanley Ramirez. Either way, it's not egregious ... I was merely trying to be complete.

   After I wrote this, I started thinking about when I might get a shot to vote for real and I realized the answer is never -- there are four votes needed each year, and I'd have to presume they don't stray from the Boston-Providence-Hartford-Worcester megalopolis.

   Not a bad deal, or wrong. Just worth noting.


   • I don't feel like posting all my geeky trivia answers, so for now, all you get is a UMaine student lamenting baseball celebrations centering around chest meat.

Having never participated in a celebration of such magnitude, I went in expecting little. I expected chants of "Papelbon! Papelbon!" and the ever-irritating "Yooooooukkk," but even those were just preludes to louder and more confusing chants of "Yankees suck! Yankees suck!" Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Colorado where the Rockies play?
-- Well played. Not better than the 800 other times it's been played, but well played.

It was the guys that tried to coerce women into flashing that really bothered me. On several occasions I saw a group of three or four men surround girls and explain to them why it would be a good idea to get up on their shoulders and "titillate" the crowd. "If you're a real fan you'll do it!" one person would say, "You'll be a hero!" another would chime in. If the girl still refused, more direct measures were taken. Guys would snatch a girl at random and hoist her into the air, hoping the pressure of the crowd would change her mind. If it didn't, a chorus of boos rang out.

Are people so desperate to see a rack that they think it's OK to do this kind of thing?

-- Apparently so, dipwad. Now I have a question.
Is being booed by assholes worth worrying about?

   If I had myself together, I would definitely create a college newspaper corner where the shining beacons of the future could be skewered the same way they'll skewer themselves when they know better.

   I wrote a column my first semester at BU. A couple are out there on the Net, and let me tell you ... they suck. All of them. And man did I think I was clever.

   It just occurred to me right now that this page no longer has a link to the page with all my stories on it. I am such a professional.
November 10, 2007 - Mocking and Nerd-dom
   Maryland 42, No. 8 Boston College 35: I understand that to some people, my enjoyment of BC Eagles football once again falling on its face will seem petty. I know it leaves me open to ridicule -- not that I'll get any, but ideally, it would.

   I almost wish now they hadn't lost to Florida State last week, and that they'd have gone into this game undefeated. With Ohio State having lost earlier in the day, the Eagles would have taken the field knowing a win would likely elevate them to the No. 1 team in the country.

   Instead, I'll settle for this.

This was not the same Maryland team that lost its past three games and became an afterthought in the race for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

It was new faces -- unfamiliar and unheralded playmakers who made names for themselves tonight in a jaw-dropping 42-35 upset of No. 8-ranked Boston College. It was dormant veterans who woke up and played as if their careers and their pride were on the line.

   Know what helped? That BC does this EVERY SINGLE YEAR. They do just enough to get everyone excited, then suddenly remember that they're not actually a big-time football power and choke on it.

   Now, BC has to recover from two straight losses and win at Clemson just to win their division in the ACC. Because that's got a good shot of happening.

   Congrats, Chestnut Hill Nation. I'm sure Menieke Car Care, Chick-Fil-A, MPC Computers, the Gator Bowl ... they'll have your same table ready same as they always do.


   • College Bowl.

   (Unlike most years, I will not be posting all the answers to the questions I got until the tournaments are actually over. Amazingly, other than playing, I did nothing to embarrass myself for a change.)

   (Also, Julie played. Bless her, she actually enjoyed herself.)
November 9, 2007 - He's No Brian Regan
   UMass 5, BU 3: While Julie is of the opinion the game I skipped was a good one regardless of the outcome -- she talked glowingly about new goalie Brent Bennett -- it's not exactly heartwarming to see the alma mater appear bad at offense and defense at the same time.

   In looking at the history, I can't believe I never noticed my four undergrad years featured exactly two 25-10 seasons and exactly two 14-20-3 seasons -- the ties on the winning years stop me from suspecting the list is wrong.

   In the seven years before I matriculated at BU in the fall of 1998, the hockey team never lost 10 games in a season. Now, they're well on their way to doing it for a 10th consecutive time.

   I'm just rambling, and being right about their failings clearly doesn't make "Rockies in 6" any better. (I've got people calling the office, hearing they're talking to me, and bringing it up. Proud moment.)


   • Apparently I've sold Dane Cook short, as Julie tells me he taped his 2006 HBO special at TD Banknorth Garden.

   As usual, the only thing I've sold short is the stupidity of society. I'll never learn.

   Again, paid money to see Dane Cook once. It was also the last time I ordered a sour apple martini somewhere and didn't expect to be verbally abused about it for the remaining days of my life.

   If I recall correctly, beer was not an option. I'd have to imagine that's how I ended up in a martini menu for any other reason than to make fun of the names.

November 8, 2007 - Brownie Pride!
   More Concert Thoughts: I've never been able to understand how light grids and gels work at a show, which I have no doubt is an easy concept that I shouldn't be saying I don't get. How do the colors change? Does each light in the grid just have one color or pattern, and they simply use that many different lights? Or can they switch them in and out electronically, despite during the one time this was explained to me, that looked impossible?

   Also, how in the hell is Dane Cook playing TD Banknorth Garden -- capacity of almost 20,000 -- on Nov. 17? I'm not even a huge Dane Cook basher, especially considering I once paid money to see him at the Boston Comedy Connection, but 20,000 people for a stand-up comedian? Really?!

   Also again, Hall and Oates are touring? Who in the Christ is paying money to go see Hall and Oates?

   Whatever. All I now is I've clearly settled on the next show I need to see. First date after a swing through the UK, baby!

   Seventeen dates in London in a five-week period. You and I both know there are people who will go to them all, and they drive cars just like the rest of us.


   • So as my good buddy Charlie is wont to do, he's dug up the real story behind the Agawam politics which led to a woman displacing our multi-term, homosexual mayor. (Who I keep mentioning as practicing an alternative lifestyle not as a slam, but because it makes my hometown seem more progressive than it would ever dream of being.)

   Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

Four-term mayor Richard Cohen got booted out of office yesterday by the voters of Agawam, Mass. That's the home of Six Flags New England. Cohen lost in an upset to Susan Dawson, a substitute teacher whose campaign centered on a parking ordinance pushed by Cohen and Six Flags that was straight out of the Dan Snyder playbook.

Just as parking rates at FedExField skyrocketed when Snyder took over control of the Redskins in 1999, parking rates at the nearby theme park have tripled since Snyder took over as chairman of the board at Six Flags in late 2005.

Up until this summer, visitors to Six Flags New England had been able to save some money by parking for $10 or less at private lots owned by small businessmen on Main Street in Agawam. But Cohen's measure, passed in June, banned parking in those lots and forced parkgoers to use Six Flags lots and pay Snyder's rates.

-- As reported by ... the Washington (D.C.) CityPaper?!

   Please note deeper in that blog entry where the winner's campaign manager refers to outgoing mayor Cohen as an "SOB," and says "I laid in bed last night, from 3 o'clock to 7 in the morning, just smiling. It's totally amazing. We fought a multibillion dollar corporation and the corruption in this town, and we won. Good triumphed. The SOB is out."

   He, of course, owns one of the businesses that Cohen screwed across from Six Flags. You stay classy, local political organizer championing his own interests.

   That story was actually a follow-up to the original CityPaper report from August, which I'm sure was eaten up by people who've never heard of my beloved hometown.

Tony Cirillo, a businessman in Agawam who had been parking 100 cars a day on his lot adjacent to Six Flags before the ban kicked in, seconds Palazzi's emotion. "This was never about safety,' Cirillo says. "That guy Shapiro knows it, but he actually heckled me [at a hearing], called me 'pathetic.' He gets up in his $2,000 suit and thinks he can just take advantage of people here. He's just a stooge for Dan Snyder."
-- There's no way you can say that and not seem like a goof.
Truth, sadly, is not a defense.

   In an election decided by 44 votes, this probably was what turned the table. Though if anyone in town had read this article to the end before they voted, I'd like to think it was only this that did it.

"We work very well with Six Flags, and they work very well to keep traffic safe and people safe," Cohen says. "We want everybody to park cars on the same side of the street."

Cohen admits, however, that, as Palazzi says, there have been no safety incidents regarding pedestrians walking to the park from the unsanctioned lots in the last 20 years. Yet when it is pointed out that Palazzi's property is on the same side of the street as the Six Flags lots, Cohen shouts "Don't talk down to me!" and hangs up.

   What a dink. Enjoy having to now pay for all your meals at these fine local restaurants, many of which are probably no longer run by the Mob.

   When I move back to Agawam a decade from now to start a family, please disregard any comments I may have made about Agawam and the Mob. It will make it much harder for me to be elected mayor, where y corruption of choice will be free golf.
November 7, 2007 - Seizures For All
   "Jimmy Eats World": Or so it said on my ticket to this show, which I suppose makes me "fawning."

   I'm not sure that's the word I would have used to describe "college-age girls screaming at a blistering volume two rows behind me," but I'm old and crochety.

   I'm on the record as saying it's pretty difficult to go to a bad rock show, because live music is awesome. This is especially true for a band that's had so many hits, they opened the show with their current radio hit and I didn't even notice.

   Of course, I also spent half the show wanting them to play a song that I eventually realized was actually by Ash, who will probably never tour America again because they've been around for 15 years and you have no idea who they are. This saddens me greatly.

   (Even the opening act, Viva Voce, was good. Though I did not place any of their stuff from their commercials usages for All laundry detergent, the Zune, the Pontiac Torrent or Motorola. That's a Moby-level of saturation.)


   • Every time I go to a concert, I make a mental note to myself that I should really go to more concerts. I doubly got that feeling tonight when Jim Adkins -- I'm actually kind of disappointed there's actually a Jimmy in Jimmy Eat World -- dedicated a song to the people "who used to come see us at The Middle East."

   I can't even fathom what it must have been like to see a band that got big before they actually got big. Not as in "I saw them open for Green Day at Gillette Stadium," like I'm sure a good chunk of that crowd probably thought.

   Of course, there'd be a better chance of this happening if I actually went to see bands, which won't happen because it never happens. At least when Nick was still around, I'd occasionally get the prompts I need to drive me toward going to shows, even if they end up teaching me that I don't like Sonic Youth spending three minutes after every song trying to knock over the crowd with feedback.

   But whatever. It's still fun. And I'll still never follow through on any of this, at least until Oasis hits the road and I'm talked into it somehow being a good idea.

   It won't ever be a good idea, same as my not only returning to play college bowl on Saturday, but taking Julie with me to play alongside. Even if she wants to, she doesn't have enough experience to know why she shouldn't want to. If ever there was an event I could just tape and air the video of without any further commentary needed, something Saturday will fill that bill.

   However, that doesn't change that I'm choosing Saturday over BU-UMass hockey on Friday, for which I bought tickets that I've since given away because I have to work one of the two nights.

   It was a lot easier to bash them at 0-4-1 than at their current 2-4-1. If only I'd truly noticed they started 0-4-1.

November 6, 2007 - $uburbia
   Progressive: My "backwater hometown" elected a female mayor today. She defeated the four-term incumbent, who's a homosexual.

   Not bad, huh? I can only imagine the jokes my father made during the campaign. Were it not my father, I'd wonder whether he even voted.

   (Sure, the town's still 97 percent white, but did the place you grow up have a woman beat an alternative lifestyle choice for the biggest public office? Probably not!)

Better Than Outspending? Not Having To
-- Schilling returns! 38Pitches.com commenters rejoice!

   • So now that I've cleared up the letter I received on Monday, informing me a warrant would be issued for my arrest in 72 hours, I can tell this story.

   Fun as it would have been to tell people, "I can't ever go back to Ohio!" it was something I really didn't want to deal with.

   I got a speeding ticket on our first night in Cleveland during the ALCS. Driving a flashy rental car with an actual ability to accelerate quickly -- honestly, every car accelerates better than my popgun Saturn -- I was caught going 76 in a 60. I still don't understand how an interstate highway in a non-residential area has a 60 speed limit, but whatever.

   Since it happened, I've been miffed at myself because I'm pretty sure I could have talked my way out of it given the chance again. The cop was a nice guy. The road was hardly grdilocked with traffic. We even spent a couple minutes after he gave me the ticket talking about baseball.

   However, I now don't think that would have been possible. I noted in the days after I got the ticket both that there was always a cop stationed in the exact spot where the officer tabbed me, and that the town he works for -- Linndale, Ohio -- only appears to have about 500 yards of Interstate 71 inside its borders.

   Sure enough, that's true. And man, do they take advantage of it.

In 1959, construction on Interstate 71 was completed. A heavily traversed section of I-71 roughly bisects the village, which provided ample opportunity for the Linndale police to ticket speeding motorists. People in Cleveland and tourists traveling I-71 know Linndale to be a speed trap since 80% of the city's budget is derived from traffic violations.

By 1994, enough tickets were being given and enough motorists were complaining that Ohio General Assembly passed legislation curtailing such traffic enforcement, which legislation affected only Linndale and one other town in the state. However, Linndale eventually won court battles to have the legislation overturned.

Although there is virtually no crime outside of the interstate, law enforcement in Linndale is robust. The village has its own court system for handling misdemeanors, a drug dog, and a jailhouse.

   Not only that, with a population of 117, the town rolls the ticket money into "flu shots, a dumpster for public use, free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a community mobile book library, and many other services" for residents.

Traditionally, there is an annual Christmas party where each child in the village receives a gift. There are summer clambakes and other village parties, and frequent events honoring Veterans at the town's Peace Memorial.

   So really, I'm just part of a vast conspiracy to use the law as a fund-raising tool. That makes me feel much better.
November 5, 2007 - Pretend To Be Ashamed
   • Merely calling out this Missouri undergraduate -- thanks, Google News! -- for the following argument:

I must congratulate the Boston Red Sox on their recent World Series victory. That's two championships in just four years, and I think everyone associated with such a fine organization should be proud of a terrific accomplishment. But the Red Sox and their fans must have forgotten the old saying: "Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it."

Well Boston, it's time to celebrate, because you have officially become the cream of the crop in Major League Baseball. You are the new Yankees.

   would be stupid. Across the globe, writers small-time and national, are making the same smug point. Were I still just a fan, I'd be pissed. But as me, it's hilarious. It's part desperation, part jealousy, part idiocy and part filler.

   This is what we've been reduced to: Being angry and sorry that a team is good. Not just one-year sort-of good for a couple weeks, like the Cardinals college boy appears to be a fan of. Being good for a long stretch, thanks to proper planning and, yes, having tons of resources.

   You think he knows or cares five guys on the field for the clincher made less than $500K this year?

Jonathan Papelbon - $425,000
Kevin Youkilis - $424,500
Jon Lester - $384,000
Dustin Pedroia - $380,000
Jacoby Ellsbury - Played 17 games at Double-A in 2007.

   (Man, I wish someone wrote that in the heat of the moment.)


   Never mind that Bobby Kielty, who hit the game-winning homer, was available to every team in the league after Oakland designated him for assigment. It's clearly just about having more money than everybody else, even if you throw in a "small market clubs can win with smart management" line to make it seem like you've thought this out.

   But he's not the point. It goes to the Patriots, too, who shouldn't have to apologize because they've constructed a team that is a level better than every other professional football team constructed today.

   If the public wasn't stupid, maybe they would be able to look at what's been assembled here and see it for what it is: the product of intelligent, forward thinking. Could every team do it to the extent it's done in a reasonably large market? No, probably not, though they sure could in a salary cap league like the NFL.

   In baseball, though, could plenty of teams do it far better than they're doing it right now? You better believe it.

   I've written this before, so I really don't want to get into it again. But does no one else see this speaking to a larger problem? Using logic and foresight is supposed to be everyone's goal. The Red Sox have done it. The Patriots have done it.

   Now, they're both "evil." Boo, logic! Boo, intelligence! Yay, celebrity hijinks and Entertainment Television!

   We're just stupid. We don't think about things. We look at logic like it's something to be ashamed of.

   I just don't have the words. And I got here because a computer in California tagged some J school kid's afternoon filler as Red Sox news.

   Not that I couldn't get to this conclusion every day on my own, but at least then, I'd probably have some cell phone pictures to post with it.
November 3-4, 2007 - "We" Won Again! Hooray, "Us"!
   Revolution 1, Red Bulls 0: Listed attendance was 10,116, which is less than one-sixth what Gillette Stadium holds. A decade in, this still depresses me.

   Not as much as knowing this is New England's sixth straight trip to the conference finals, and they've yet to win a league title. Not that winning one would save Michael Parkhurst from having to autograph notepads for jerks like me, but it would make me feel better.

   Home Story: Because I spent the weekend in Feeding Hills, this seems the best spot to work in that my first-ever actual girlfriend had a baby two weeks ago.

   Tying things up in a nice package, it was with the guy she cheated on me with those nine years ago, thus ending those magical first months of love.

   Tying the package up in a package, my one regret about the whole thing all these years later is that for her birthday while we were dating, I bought her an authentic New England Revolution jersey. A jersey I have no doubt I would still be wearing today, as opposed to it being balled up in some forgotten drawer like I suspect it is.

   Can you tell I usually write these things solely in the order things come into my head?


   • Sunday night was my first shift on the desk since Sept. 29.

   I ended up doing 13 of the 20 pages that go into our SportsMonday tab, plus some story reading beyond that and a few other things that generally made things smoothly finish up 15 minutes after our supposed deadline.

   Nothing like easing back in, is there?
November 2, 2007 - The Sixth Sport, Behind BC Football
   Scary: Forgot to note the oddest person I saw on Coors Field, and that's saying something given the actual shape that Bill James is. (I legitimately regret not saying hello and chatting for a little bit, if only because I really didn't accomplish much else out there.)

Mike Myers
-- Mike Myers, complete with White Sox overshirt!

   Obviously, Myers knows a lot of the guys on the current team, so it's easy to understand why he stopped by. But it's more fun to presume he was actually there to present Javier Lopez with the secrets of how to survive in the Majors as a lefty specialist who can't get lefties out.

   (Yes, Myers is currently unemployed, but he's made it two seasons being worse at getting out the guys he's supposed to get out. Plus, he's got one more World Series ring than Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski combined.

   God speed, Mike Myers. God speed.)


   • I'm an American soccer fan. This is no secret, but that's more declarative than it may appear. I'm an American soccer fan in that I enjoy soccer, but that I go long swaths of time neglecting it when other things come up.

   Like, say, Saturday. The New England Revolution are playing the second half of their playoff match with New York, but I'll be on the other side of the state eating chicken wings and generally worsening my physical condition.

   This despite me having every opportunity to attend said second half of playoff home-and-home, because the team sent me two free tickets.

Michael Parkhurst's Autograph
-- Along with, perhaps more shockingly, an autographed
note pad from Michael Parkhurst, who is awesome.

   I can only assume they asked Taylor Twellman to sign some pads and he turned them down. I've never dealt with Parkhurst, but Twellman is both awesome and extremely aware that he's awesome. Bit of a combination.

   The whole thing just makes me feel very sad. I very much want the Revolution to succeed. If a hurricane wasn't planning on skirting New England on Saturday, which should make for a nice bog to play soccer in, I might even go to the match.

   But this is ... they're mailing playoff tickets to media members, and not even prominent media members. My boss and I each got a packet, for God sakes, though he didn't mention the notepad -- I have no doubt he wouldn't know Michael Parkhurst if he walked in the office asking to string high school field hockey games.

   This is the same group that was in the office when Slyde the Fox visited. I would have had a wedding photo taken.

   Bob Kraft, since I know you read this when you have some down time, please get the Revolution a soccer-only stadium. Shit, build it yourself in the middle of that Bass Pro Shops you're putting together in one of the Pats' parking lots. Make people realize why soccer matches work. Build the atmosphere.

   And don't charge $34 for lower bowl seats just because it's a playoff game. Maybe then you wouldn't have to try to given them to a jerk like me.

   Had I known about these tickets earlier than today, I could have actually given them to someone who'll use them. Not happening, since the people I know who'd happily take them either live in Arizona or will be alongside Saturday night, outdrinking me.
November 1, 2007 - What Shame?
   Capitalism Works: Only because I ended up with two of them, my extra Red Sox World Series Media Pin should be on eBay with this one by the end of Friday.

   I look forward to being disappointed that my selling price doesn't reach that one.


   • On my JetBlue flights, I easily watched more television than I'd watched in the previous month at my apartment. This probably isn't as impressive/depressing as it sounds, considering I make up for no TV by sitting in this computer chair for hours at a time, but it's clearly fact. You put me in a confined space and place a satellite TV a foot from my space, I'm probably not going to turn it off.

   Most of what I watched, also not surprisingly, was the same stuff I'd watch at home. A History Channel documentary on the capture of Al Capone. A couple Law and Order: CI episodes. Some poker. Et cetera. I did, however, branch out to expand my mind, and see what else is out there.

   The product of that was A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila -- that's a link to Wikipedia. I can only assume the MTV link is gratuitously NSFW.

   Now, I'll presume you know nothing about any of the things in the title. Tila Tequila is this girl, who I first learned about in Time Magazine because she has the most MySpace friends in site history. (More than two million. I have a whopping 63, of which I'll assume you're one.)

   She is a bisexual, and the series starts with 16 guys coming to her house to try to win her affection. The twist is 16 girls then come out, she announces her proclivities and everyone is all, "Whaaaaaaa?"

   For being an abomination against God, the Founding Fathers and so many other things, there's a lot of elements that work really well. Mainly, Tila does not like wearing clothes, which is why I've bypassed even trying to find a postable picture -- also, her MySpace makes my eight-year-old desktop start groaning, and that's before it starts belting out her hit, "Stripper Friends." The people pursuing her follow that general mindset, along with trying both to woo her and cut down everyone else.

   It's hard to properly encapsulate the whole thing, just because so many hilarious things happen in a short period. Say, the episode where the contestants find out they all have to sleep in the same bed, and the camera sort of catches two of them fondling each other in the night. Or the one where they have a carnival. Or the seven where two contestants beat each other up, not to be confused with the one where a guy flips out after being eliminated.

   Did I mention one of the contestants lives with his mother in Warwick, R.I., and delivers pizzas? And another one is an Italian guy who appears just to be plugged in as comic relief?

   The whole thing is so incredibly engrossing, it completely makes up for how embarrassed I should have felt to be watching half-naked people cavorting around on a TV in the confined space of an airplane.

   Did Singled Out really go off the air nine years ago? That hurts.
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