Friday, March 29, 2013



Boston is the greatest sports city in the country, bar none. They have teams steeped  in tradition
and over the past decade, the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins have combined to win
seven world championships. The city is electric and the fans are fiercely loyal, passionate, and

But they are like Bobby Valentine in one way. Somewhere along the way, somebody tagged
them as really intelligent, and then all of a sudden, became know-it-alls. They think they can
coach better than Belichick, manage better than Francona, and put a team together better than
the late Red Auerbach. They wear most of their emotions on their sleeve. The rest comes out
of their mouths.

A lot of venom has been spewing out of their pie holes over the last 36 hours or so. The
Bruins thought they had a deal for Jarome Iginla, the franchise player for the Calgary Flames.
This was a move that many fans in the city felt would put the B's over the top in their quest
for Lord Stanley. Iginla is a leader, a scorer, and one of those players that just has the "it" factor.

On Wednesday afternoon, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was told by his counterpart with the Flames
they had a deal and Iginla was theirs. A lot of Bruins fans went to bed that night thinking Iginla
would be like the big present waiting under the Christmas tree the next morning. Unfortunately,
they woke up to find out that Santa delivered that present to somebody else's house. And you
know what happens to the little kid that doesn't get the present they thought they were getting?
That's right, they have a major hissy fit.

Iginla chose to go to Pittsburgh instead of Boston, and the fans in Beantown are going nuts,
because after all, who turns down going to the best sports town in the country? Boston always
has to have a scapegoat for when things don't go their way. They tagged the goat horns on Bill
Buckner for costing them the 1986 World Series and didn't take them off, albeit reluctantly until
the Red Sox had won two championships.

At first, they pinned the goat horns on Chiarelli, the GM and architect who has turned the B's
into a consistent juggernaut. He must have screwed things up because after all, he was told Iginla
was his. What the hell happened, they asked. The people in New England should know by now
a deal really isn't a deal until the player is signed, sealed, and in the teams uniform.

The city of Hartford thought they had a deal for the Patriots in 1998, enticing them with a brand
new stadium. They even had a big celebration in the electric city of Hartford with big balloons,
streamers, and the likes of Robert Kraft, Drew Bledsoe, and several other players in
attendance. How'd that "deal" turn out? Man, those Hartford Patriots are crushing it!

Like Robert Kraft, Iginla went to the place he thought would be a better situation for him. He
didn't get any kind of "sweetener" like the Patriots owner did to stay in Foxborough, but he
felt playing with Sydney Crosby in a great hockey town for a great ownership group that includes
Mario Lemeieux, in a great arena, was a great deal for him. Iginla, per his contract, had a say
in where he wanted to go. He chose Pittsburgh over Boston.

The fans in Boston never let anything go, and this rejection by Iginla will stay with them for
a while. Man, the people in that great city are still simmering the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth
to the Yankees. They are still upset that Ray Allen stiffed the Celtics and went to play with
LeBron and the Heat. The whole Wes Welker situation still has them in a funk. The fans in
Boston don't think there is any other city worth talking about in the country except Boston and
for a player to jilt them is blasphemous.

Boston is a world-class city that has it all. I lived there and covered sports for several years. It's
a sports lovers dream. But they don't get over things easily and often spend a lot of time living in
the past, even though the present and future is so great.

It's time to move on Boston, you never really had Iginla, so don't cry over what wasn't yours.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


On Thursday afternoon, Thomas Menino announced  he will not seek an unprecedented sixth
term as mayor of Boston. The 70-year old political giant is the only Italian-American to head up
the  city and the first non Irish-American to hold that office since 1930. It's been a great run for a
man who has provided enough comedy for the city to last the next 100 years.

Menino, known as "mumbles" because he often stammers over his words, which makes it
difficult for everyone to understand what the heck he's saying. An interpreter at the United
Nations would be driven crazy trying to figure out the words coming out of Menino's mouth
with that thick Boston  accent hindered by a significant lisp. He screwed up more names than anybody in the history of politics and became synonymous with malapropisms.

He once referred to the shortage of parking in Boston as "an Alcatraz around my neck." Um,
Mayor Menino, that would be an "albatross" around your neck. He called former mayor John
Collins a "man of great statue", instead of stature. Oh, yes, Menino was a piece of work, if
not a thing of beauty.

As bad as he screwed things up, nobody found a way to really dislike the guy. He is Baby
Huey all grown up. Menino's approval ratings stand at 74 percent, which is pretty amazing in
this day and age of hardcore politics, especially in Boston.

Boston loves its politics and is obsessed with sports. Menino has been the mayor of this world-
class city and the best sports one in the country, bar none, for 20 years. Sports fans in Boston
know everything. They can tell you not only everything about Dustin Pedroia, but the names
of the parents of the back-up second baseman in Pawtucket, as well. Menino has trouble remembering the names of the best players who star in his city, much less the minor-league
ones in small towns in places you've never heard of.

He botched names so badly, Boston fans couldn't wait for the next parade just to hear which
names he'd butcher even more. When talking about the Celtics, he once called Kevin Garnett,
"KJ", instead of KG. He called Rajon Rondo, "Hondo", perhaps, mixing up the Celtics guard
with the former great, John Havlichek, who went by that nickname.

Oh, players around the city were called much worse, and it was comical. Former Patriots
receiver Wes Welker was called Wes "Weckler" by the mayor. Vince Wilfork became Vince
"Wilcock" (Ooops) and "The Gronk" got shortened to "Gonk" by Menino. The more he screwed
up, the more popular he seemed to become.

During the unveiling of the Bobby Orr statue, which showed him scoring his famous goal
that clinched the 1970 Stanley Cup, Menino recounted some of the greatest moments in Boston
sports history including "Varitek splitting the uprights" to win the Super Bowl. Sorry, mayor,
that was Vinatieri, not Jason Varitek, the former Red Sox catcher. It didn't matter, we all knew
what he meant.

Why "SNL" didn't lampoon Menino every week is beyond me. They could've created must-see
segments that would've brought down the house. Menino was just that funny, or fun to make
fun of for the people in Boston.

I was in Boston for three of Menino's 20-years in office and I enjoyed what he brought to the
city. Oh, he might not go down as the best mayor in the history of Boston, but Menino will
certainly be one of the most memorable ones.

Good luck, Mayor Menino, we are going to miss you, and miss you screwing up the names
of all those Boston athletes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


On Monday, Tiger Woods won his third tournament of the season, eighth at Bay Hill, and
the 77th of his career. As soon as he tapped in on 18 for his two-shot victory, just about
everybody said, "Tiger's Back!" as if he really went anywhere. After all, Tiger has won
six times in his last 18 starts which is close to mind-boggling, considering some players
never win that many times in their entire careers.

With his victory, Tiger also reclaimed the number one ranking in the world, which every
player on tour has known for quite some time, despite what the computers spit out. But just
where does Tiger rank in the court of public opinion now? Can he now be forgiven for being
a serial cheater, smashing his made-for-the world, squeaky-clean image that he and his posse
of super agents carefully cultivated? Does it even matter?

There is a little question that Tiger Woods is great for the game of golf. He is a rating PED for
the television networks. We can only watch Phil, Bubba, Rory, and Sergio for so long before
flipping over to Bravo, Spike, or TNT because yes, they do know drama and provide a helluva
lot more of it than the aforementioned crew. Every player on tour should thank Tiger for
supersizing the purses and making them that much richer.

Tiger is one of the few real athletes on tour, superbly conditioned and dressed to the nine's.
There are some people, men included, who just turn on the television just to see what he is
wearing.He is a magnet that most viewers can't take their eyes off of. But there is always going
to be that but. Yeah, he's a great player, but he is a dirtbag and fill in the blank with any other adjective to describe what he did to his wife, Elin, and two children for the entire world to see.

Is there a shelf life on holding that against him? Should he ever be forgiven? In a world where
a lot of people are given second chances, should Tiger get a mulligan, too? To many people,
the answer is an emphatic no. People are going to hate just to hate. Many enjoyed seeing a guy
who had it all, come crashing down like Humpty Dumpty. It doesn't matter who you are or
what you do, there are always going to be haters and detractors just because.

After Tiger won the Masters for the first time, I was getting reaction from the African-American
community in Fort Myers where I was working there at the time. I asked one kid, who was about
15-years old what he thought about Tiger Woods and his victory in the Masters, and without hesitation, he looked into the camera and said, "F&*k Tiger Woods." OK, then. Moving right along.

When Tiger cheated on his wife with the pin-ups, porn stars, and playmates, a lot of people pretty
much had the same reaction as that kid in Fort Myers. Tiger's popularity plummeted a lot further
than his game. His sponsors fled like ants who just had their hill doused with gasoline. It became
open season on Tiger Woods, with fellow golfers criticizing him, comedians mocking him, and
"SNL" using his scandal incessantly to lampoon him. His game self-destructed before our very
eyes and many thought his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record for majors end after he barreled
down his driveway in an ambien-fueled haze and hit the fire hydrant, causing the tsunami of
sordid details of his infidelity to come gushing out.

Seriously, though, why were some people so obsessed with Tiger's private life? Shouldn't we
have separated his personal life and professional life? Are we so perfect in our lives, that we
must judge the immoral behavior of others? Mickey Mantle was a womanizer. So was Joe Namath.
So were/are many other athletes. I'm not saying it's right, but nobody has ever suffered the
criticism, scorn, and ridicule that Tiger did.

Tiger has picked up the pieces and is now close to whole again. He has a new girlfriend
in Lindsey Vonn and the number one world ranking. There are many who feel that Tiger won't
be all the way back until he wins a major for the first time in five years. Everybody is entitled
to their opinion.

However, there is something admirable about Tiger's comeback. He was a broken man after
his scandal. There was self-doubt, self-evaluation, and I'm sure, some self-loathing. Tiger had
to be wondering just how stupid he was to have thrown everything away, and for what? I'm sorry,
but there is nothing in the world worth blowing up for your marriage, your image, and your
legacy for. Nothing. Certainly not a one-nighter with a porn-actress nobody even knows.

To some, Tiger might not be all the way back. To others, he will always be the philandering
husband who felt "entitled" to do what he did to Elin. Others, will see his comeback and
new pursuit of history as spectacular. There will be a lot of different opinions about Tiger
Woods, that's for sure.

This much is certain, though, what he's doing on the golf course, is pretty spectacular
and you can't deny that fact whether you like him or not.

Monday, March 25, 2013


In a college sports world that has turned into one giant cess pool, FGCU is a great cleanser.
In just three days, this basketball team in southwest Florida has managed to rinse away the
slime and grime left over from the Sandusky, Fine, and Te'o scandals.

Playing with unbridled joy and enthusiasm, FGCU has been a breath of fresh air in a sport
that has long been dirty with illegal recruiting practices, agents, and power-hungry coaches
who chase the almighty dollar.

As a program with no tradition or television contract, FGCU is the deodorant that covers up
the stench coming from the schools who have bucked tradition for superconferences and the
pot of gold at the end of the television network rainbow.

In the blink of an eye, coach Andy Enfield and a bunch of players that few other programs
wanted, have managed to do what the NCAA hasn't been able to do in the last decade. They
have brought a smidgen of innocence back to college sports, cleansing it, while making the
games fun again.

Man, has it ever been fun to watch them beat heavy favorites and bust NCAA brackets. The
basketball team has been an aerial circus, with jaw-dropping dunks punctuated with mile-wide
grins as they announce their presence with authority. They are part, "Flying Wilenda's" and
part, "Phi Slamma Jamma", the 1983 Houston Cougars basketball team that intimidated teams
with their high-flying, dunking act. FGCU calls themselves, "Dunk City" and that name will

They don't celebrate by going  "Gangnam style" or with the "Harlem Shake". FGCU is an
original and whatever dance they are doing, it sure it entertaining. Everything FGCU does,
seems to capture our imagination. They are not scared of the big stage, in fact, they are reveling
in it, and it's fun to watch. It seems all so pure, so clean, and so innocent.

The first two wins by FGCU in the NCAA tournament were far more fascinating than the
last  26 strung together by the Miami Heat. The two consecutive wins have somehow become
far more sweeter than the two consecutive national championships captured by the Florida
Gators in the last decade. Their rags-to-riches story is far more compelling than the rags-to-riches
story of the Miami Hurricanes, who have a better than good shot at winning it all.

On the national scene, nobody cares much about the Canes, Gators, or Heat. That's because
FGCU has become America's Team. We are consumed with this story. We are fascinated by
it. We are enamored with the players. We love the coach. And we even love the coaches' wife.

FGCU is David in the land of Goliath and we love underdogs. That's what FGCU will be when
they take on Florida, but to everybody outside of  Gainseville and those who wear the orange
and blue, the Eagles will be our favorites. The bandwagon is now open and it's standing room

The ride is too good not to hop on. I hope it never ends.

Friday, March 22, 2013


The first day of March Madness had been like a bottle of Coca-Cola that went without its
cap for a weekend: completely flat. There were no dramatic buzzer beaters or real bracket-
busting upsets. Oh, sure, there was Oregon and California, a pair of number 12 seeds knocking
off number five seeds, but that seems to happen every year and has become no big deal.

However, that all changed around midnight, when Cinderella, wearing crimson to the big dance,
announced their presence with authority. Harvard, a school that has produced far more presidents,
doctors, and one big Zuckerberg, than wins in the NCAA tournament, stunned New Mexico, a
three seed, to put some juice into this survive and advance free-for-all.

Harvard, really? Yes, its basketball program gave the NBA an outrageous case of "Linsanity",
as alum Jeremy Lin took the league by storm with two of the greatest weeks the league has ever
seen from an Ivy Leaguer But really, outside of Lin, Harvard basketball has virtually nothing
to show for its existence. I mean, come on. Before last night, they had never won a game in the NCAA tournament and were making just its second appearance in it since 1946.

The Crimson weren't even supposed to get a ticket to the ball. Before the season started, Kyle
Casey and Brandy Curry, both senior co-captains, were caught in a cheating scandal. (Yes, they
even cheat at Harvard.) Casey and Curry withdrew from school to try to save their final year
of eligibility. (Yes, finding ways to keep talented players eligible happens at Harvard, too.)

Not many people, the ones who actually cared about Ivy League basketball, gave Harvard a shot
of doing much of anything to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. And let's face it, outside of
the players. coaches, and family members, nobody around the country cares about Ivy League
basketball. The sports networks don't. Have you ever seen them play on ESPN in the last decade?
Um, maybe once, but I was probably out getting a pedi and mani that day. Forget about the
starting five, if you could name one player on the Harvard basketball team before last night,
you are a true basketball jones.

The Ivy League schools play in spruced up high school gyms and are lucky if they get a box
score in USA Today. You get the point. Ivy League basketball, in the landscape of major college
sports, is an after thought, at best. 99 percent of the athletes playing in the NCAA tournament
wouldn't even have a chance to get into Harvard. The academic requirements are off their charts
and no admission officer looks the other way or past an SAT score if it doesn't have four digits.

So, Thursday night, you had Harvard, a number 14 seed, playing New Mexico, a three-seed. It's
safe to say that hardly any of you had the Crimson beating the Steve Alford-coached Lobos. I
mean, be real. That would be a total bracket-buster on the very first day. But it happened. The
game had the feel of "Hoosiers", where a small town team beat  Goliath. Ok, so New Mexico is
not Goliath, but Harvard sure is David. No scholarships, no training table, no state-of-the art
facility. Just bright kids who make their studies, not basketball, a priority.

Harvard does have one major thing going for them: Tommy Amaker. The former Duke All-
American point guard has great pedigree and experience. He had a bad one at Michigan as
their head coach, but he has learned from his trials and tribulations in Ann Arbor to take the
Crimson to where they have never gone before. They beat New Mexico for its first NCAA
tournament win EVER. How sweet is that? I left out the score because nobody will remember
it anyway and it's not important. The victory is.

They have claimed first dibs on Cinderella's slipper. Over the next 48 hours, you'll be hearing
more about Harvard basketball than you've ever heard before. Mark Zuckerberg might show
up to see Harvard take on Arizona in the next round. The Winklevoss twins might be there, too.
A lot of famous alums are sure to come out of the woodwork to bask in the glow of their Harvard

And it'll be refreshing. After all the scandals in college sports over the last two years,
(See Sandusky and Manti' Te'o) this story is a feel-good one. I just hope it gets sweeter and
Harvard makes it to the round of 16.