We’ve Got Cabin Fever…It’s Burning In Our Brain

We’ve been snowed in for almost a week now. Not Boston-level snowed in by any stretch of the imagination, but snowed in for us, which basically means 4″ of snow, some ice, and Hoth-level temperatures for the rest of the week. Which means I haven’t been in school all week. 

So let me go over a few things I haven’t talked about on my hiatus. First off, can we just celebrate for a moment the fact that the Patriots are SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS?????

I’m done!!! That was such an AWESOME moment. I literally fell on the floor (I was at a party, people can vouch for this).

And I heard the best Boston sports question EVER the week after the Super Bowl:

If you walked into a bar and Malcolm Butler and Dave Roberts were both there and you only have enough money to buy one of them a drink, who do you buy for?

Ug. I can’t even decide. Butler put to rest so many demons…Spygate, 2007, 2011…but Dave Roberts’s steal basically started off the chain reaction that put to rest 86 years of nonsense for the Red Sox. Too hard. Can’t do it.


I’m so stinking excited. Not only because I love baseball (seriously…love it) but because it’s like the heralding of spring. It means that all this stupid winter stuff is going to melt away and the temperatures will warm up (it’s a balmy 18 degrees right now…) and we can pull out the spring clothes and get ready for that magical time known as SUMMER.

I can’t even…

So on to another topic. I’ve had a lot of time this snow break to work on finances. Dave Ramsey. So fun. It’s in the book a little, but I didn’t realize how absolutely irritating the, let’s just call them “DR Doldrums” are. I’m almost done with my first debt (yay!) and then I’ll start snowballing the next debt. And I see the light way, way, way at the end of the tunnel but right now all I keep thinking is “AM I EVER GOING TO HAVE ANY MONEY AGAIN?”. 

I know. I know. Stick to the plan. It’s going to work out if you stick to the plan. It’s like loosing weight. It sucks while you’re doing it, and you may not see progress ALL the time, but the end is worth all the work and sweat and healthy eating. 

I’m going with the mantra I have been learning to apply to everything: Jesus take the wheel.

Right now I’m discouraged, right now I don’t want to snowball my debts, I want to go to Hawaii and buy new spring clothes and shop and go out more. But that’s not how this works. That’s what got me into this mess, and stopping all those behaviors is what will get me out. 

It’s exactly like loosing weight. I had to change the way I ate, completely, before I could really start to lose (30 lbs so far! and continuing) So with my finances I have to change the way I think and the way I do things. And once that first debt is gone, it’ll feel really good and I will get that adrenaline boost, similar to the one you get from losing 5 lbs. And then I’ll feel more ready to tackle the next debt and it will snowball, but right now I still have the debt, I have lots of things coming up I need to pay for, and I’m in the DR Doldrums. I’ll just have to keep watching highlights of Super Bowl XLIX and see pictures from Spring Training to help motivate me. Because if I ever want to GO to spring training or buy Patriots things again, I have to get my brain in a better financial place. 

Jesus take the wheel, cause I’m gonna crash if I drive. And just so I don’t end this blog on a low note, here’s Tom Brady jumping up and down in reaction to the Butler interception (what was Carroll thinking????)

Super Bowl, Super Broke, and Six Times a Bridesmaid

Well, the Super Bowl is tomorrow.

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. 

Holy cow, the Super Bowl is tomorrow!!! Yeah!!!!

So I’m off to the grocery store in about ten minutes, just as soon as I finish this blog to get my supplies for sausage balls and the Super Bowl party I’m going to tomorrow.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to go to a Super Bowl party. I’m a little nuts when I watch football. If you’ve ever read this blog, you might have noticed I’m a bit of a fans. Just a bit. However, the last three times the Patriots won the Super Bowl I was at a church Super Bowl party. The other two times? I was at a party at a friend’s house. 

Yes, I know that where I watch the Super Bowl has absolutely ZERO impact on the game. Rationally, I know that. However, like the good sports fan that I am, I am totally and irrationally superstitious. I will be wearing the same jersey I’ve worn all playoffs. 

So, anyway, that’s usually why I watch at home. Mostly because I have to control myself around the general public and I don’t have to do that at home. I might or might not yell at a the TV, talk back to the announcers (my go to is “shut up, Collinsworth, you’re an idiot”), and insult the intelligence of the refs…

So what am I making? really, really bad for you (but mostly clean!) sausage balls.

I’ll make my own bisquick out of wheat flour (yay clean eating), then combine it with two pounds of sausage and cheddar. Then I’ll bake them in little balls and they will be delicious. 

That’s okay, as all the cross-fit, paleo girls who are coming to the party are saying that the Super Bowl is a diet “cheat day”. I’m down with that. I’ll probably go to the gym tomorrow so I don’t feel like a total pig because I can guarantee some stress eating will happen. It’s the Patriots. I’ll indulge my tendency to stress eat a little tomorrow, since there will still be no retail therapy.

So I’m a solid month into the Total Money Makeover. And I’ve already goofed. 

Here’s how, so you can avoid rookie mistakes like this. I get paid on the 15th and 30th. So I did my budget based on that. But I neglected the whole surviving from the 30th to the next paycheck thing. So I had budgeted to have used every last cent of my paychecks on the 15th and 30th during the month of January.

See the problem? 

I would have had no money (I mean NONE) until February 15th. So I added something new: flex money. On the 30th, I will pull out $100 to cover anything that there isn’t money left over for until the next paycheck comes and I can replenish the envelopes. 

I’m sure this “flex money” will eventually not be needed as I get better at planning ahead and sticking like super glue to my budget. But until I adjust, this is just how it’s gonna be. Plus I can use the flex money to cover things like baby shower presents and bridesmaid dresses (I’m going for my 6th trip down the aisle NOT wearing white.) instead of having to figure them into the budget every month as they come up. 

Yes, I just found out like ten minutes ago that I would be bridesmaid dress shopping on Monday night. 

So I guess I better go easy on the snacks at the Super Bowl. There is NOTHING worse than trying on bridesmaid dresses when you’re all bloated and feel gross. I mean, some of them are hideous enough as it is. You don’t need the added bonus of bloating and grossness to add to the chances of trying on some truly awful dresses.

I actually enjoy dress shopping and there are some really wonderful dresses out there, but I have never been dress shopping for these things where I didn’t try on at least ONE dress that was hideously ugly. Seriously, what bridge puts her friends/family in dresses like that???? 

Guys, the movie 27 Dresses was only mild hyperbole. There are some really bad dresses out there. And some really regrettable wedding choices. Can I just elope please? (can someone just ask me out, please???) 😉

In all seriousness, I am very happy for my cousin, and hopefully we will get good dresses. I haven’t had any truly hideous ones, just a few that weren’t my taste. Though I’ve tried on some doozies (including one that we now refer to as “the shiny poop dress”). 

I’ll try to find time to break down the game before tomorrow, and if not, there will be either a euphoric post next week or a post next week about the glories of hockey and baseball with a side of depression. 

And I know I said I’d review Sons of Liberty. You have to actually watch it to review it…I’ll get to it eventually. It’s chilling in the DVR. So when I watch, I will review. 

For now, Go Pats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Here’s a video from Jimmy Kimmel that is hysterical followed by some blatant homerism and gifs. 

#doYourJob #OnToSeattle #onToSB49 

A Lot of Hot (and Cold) Air: My Take on "Deflategate"

I have kept my silence all week. But no more. I can’t. This week has made me question any faith in humanity I have and has ripped to shreds any remaining respect I had for the news media. That’s well and truly gone, now. 

First, I am a Patriots fan. Die hard. And I am so excited for them to play in their 6th Superbowl with Brady and Bill B and watch my 7th Patriots Superbowl (remember, there was life before Brady…1996. They lost to the Packers). I expected this week to be full of discussion on the awesome matchup between the Seahawks D and the Patriots offense. Instead, I have been subjected to the most insipid, ridiculous, non-story ever. Let me also say that if the EVIDENCE (remember that stuff?) comes out and proves the Patriots guilty of tampering with the balls, they deserve the fine stipulated in the rules. 

May I also add that the NFL clearly needs to monitor this whole game-ball situation more closely as Aaron Rogers (see the story here) admits to over-inflating his game balls. And Brad Johnson PAID someone to tamper with the footballs for the SUPER BOWL (read that story here) so this is kind of a league-wide issue. And it’s been going on for a while (Brad Johnson played in the Superbowl more than 10 years ago).

Now, I will address the rantings and ravings of the lynch-mob media/fans that are determined to hang the Patriots for the slightest infraction because of “Spygate” (insert sarcastic shudder) and now the unending vitriol that is “Deflategate” (insert eye-roll). 

Let me be clear. What the Patriots did filming the Jets sidelines was WRONG. It was wrong because the league sent out a memo following the 2006 season saying “stop doing it”. Up to that point, ALL the teams were doing it. Don’t be naive, you know it’s true. Moving on. They were wrong, it was cheating, and they shouldn’t have done it. They took their punishment and we all should have moved on. 

But let me also be clear, Bill never once lied or covered it up. And to back it up, here’s an article from September 14, 2007, which contains quotes from Bill Bellichick: (this is what you call evidence, ladies and gentlemen)

Belichick, however, accepted full responsibility “for the actions that led to tonight’s ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused.”

“I also apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their support during the past few days and throughout my career,” Belichick said in a statement issued by the team. “As the commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.” (original ESPN article here)

He owned up to it. Immediately. So you really can’t say that Bill Bellichick is a “liar”. In fact, I dare you to find me a time where YOU CAN PROVE, with FACTUAL EVIDENCE, that he lied about doing something or not doing something. 

In the same article, Gooddell (who needs to be fired so badly for his mishandling of virtually every “scandal” during his tenure has been atrocious) stated that the Patriots received no material advantage for doing that. As for the “supposed” filming of the Rams walk-through, here’s the Boston Herald’s retraction statement: 

It reads: “On Feb. 2, 2008, the Boston Herald reported that a member of the New England Patriots’ video staff taped the St. Louis Rams’ walk-through on the day before Super Bowl XXXVI. While the Boston Herald based its Feb. 2, 2008, report on sources that it believed to be credible, we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walk-through ever existed. 

Prior to the publication of its Feb. 2, 2008, article, the Boston Herald neither possessed nor viewed a tape of the Rams’ walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI, nor did we speak to anyone who had. We should not have published the allegation in the absence of firmer verification.

The Boston Herald regrets the damage done to the team by publication of the allegation, and sincerely apologizes to its readers and to the New England Patriots’ owners, players, employees and fans for our error.” (read more here)

So those of you who are still on that, it wasn’t real, it didn’t happen, it’s over, please move on. 

Since then, the Patriots have done NOTHING to incur the NFL’s ire. Nothing. Except, of course, win. Which we all know that winning breeds contempt and this whole ball-deflation witch hunt is just that: contempt. over-blown nonsense and contempt. 

Because I am a rational human being, I like to look at things logically. So lets do that, shall we? 

“fact” 1: 11 of the 12 Patriots balls were found to be under-inflated by 2 lbs PSI. Let me say this, it’s from ONE SOURCE (unsubstantiated) and just look at how the whole “Rams filmed! We have one unsubstantiated source that says so!” fiasco turned out for the Herald. Not so good. I mean, being realistic, how is it possible that the footballs were under-inflated by EXACTLY 2 pounds each? And was it 2 pounds from 13.5 PSI? Because the acceptable range is 12.5-13.5 PSI. Is is possible that the one UNSUBSTANTIATED source wasn’t correct? Gee…that never happens. (eye roll…I need to stop being so sarcastic, it’s hard to write that way.) In Bill’s Best Press Conference Ever (keep reading for more on that) he stated that what they do to affect the TEXTURE of the ball artificially raises the PSI by 1 lb. They found that once the balls moved from inside the building to the oh-so-lovely 50 and below, freezing rain conditions that were in place Sunday night for the AFC championship game, the pressure in the ball equalized and lost 1.5 psi. Once they brought the ball in and let it set for a bit, it had come up .5 PSI, leading to an overall loss of 1 lb. Now, that’s assuming that the balls were properly inflated to between 12.5-13.5 PSI once they went off to the refs to approve them. That is up to the refs to determine, NOT the Patriots, thus the onus is on them, not the team. 

“fact” 2: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are LIARS and CHEATERS and they ALWAYS WILL BE (I feel like I should add “nah nah nah nah nah naaaaaa” at the end of that one). Well…that’s not true. Bill owned up to the filming. He never once denied it, and doesn’t deny it to this day (see: 1/24/15 press conference, we’ll get to that gem later…) Tom Brady was never even implicated in the whole “Spygate” nonsense. 

People like to bring up baby-momma Brigit Moynahan as proof of TB’s shadiness. Let’s set that record straight, too:

Moynahan was in a three-year relationship with screenwriter Scott Rosenberg.[2][46] She dated NFL quarterback Tom Brady from 2004 until December 14, 2006. Her representative confirmed their split to People in December 2006, stating that they had “amicably ended their three-year relationship several weeks ago”.[47]
On February 18, 2007, Moynahan’s representative confirmed to People that she was more than three months pregnant and that Brady is the father.[48] In August 2007, she gave birth to a baby boy.[49][50] In a July 2008 interview in Harper’s Bazaar, Moynahan discussed her willingness to raise her son as a single mother.[51] Despite media reports that Moynahan and Brady have an acrimonious relationship, it was revealed that the two have maintained a civil relationship since the birth of their son.[52]
So…there’s no proof (I mean real, factual proof, not trolls on the internet) that either of them is a liar. So when they said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the issue with the balls, we have no reason to believe otherwise. (see more info here). 
“fact” 3: the deflated balls give the team a competitive advantage. It actually gives the team a competitive disadvantage. I’ll post the link to the article and the video that ESPN has since taken down (not sure why that is…oh yeah, guilty Pats means better ratings…) 
Here’s the article. And the video:
I’m getting irritated even writing this, because it is 100% a non-story that has been %1000 blown out of proportion by the media. The Patriots actually played better in the second half with the properly inflated balls (which, when tested after the game, had not lost as much air, thus eliminating the theory that they were tampered with in any way). 

And all of you crying about the “pro QBs being able to tell”, let’s break that down, hmm? Sure the ones on ESPN who have reasons to hate the Patriots (Brunell, seriously?) are all going to say they can feel the difference. In his presser today (what a fountain of information that was!) Bill said that the QBs couldn’t tell with any consistency which balls were inflated 2 lbs lighter, and couldn’t tell the difference AT ALL when on deflated by 1 lb or less. 

Now onto the ACTUAL facts of this story.

Fact 1: We have not heard from the NFL’s investigation and DATA (details, evidence, choose your own synonym) about: 
     a. how deflated the footballs were (exact amounts for each football – come on, were they all really deflated EXACTLY 2 lbs? ALL 11 of them?) 
     b. definitive evidence that the weather COULD NOT have caused this drop in PSI OR definitive evidence that they were tampered with.
     c. There’s all these reports that the “Ravens told the Colts” or that “Mike Adams noticed it in November”, but I can’t find evidence (actual evidence, not “a source” from an article written after the AFC Championship game) of either thing actually happening. And I do mean NO EVIDENCE. Nothing. I looked. I’m thorough like that. No actual word from the NFL on any of that, and I feel like that would have been reported to them (and leaked to us) if it was true. 

Fact 2: The Patriots played BETTER with the properly inflated balls. BETTER. If they were trying to cheat, and if, as all the lynch-mob has been screaming that “they’ve probably done this for years!”, then don’t you think they would have known that under-inflated balls are not so good? That’s been my question since the beginning. It makes absolutely no logical sense, especially given the EVIDENCE (there’s that darn word again…) 

Fact 3: apparently, the refs inflate the balls, because they were handed two them 2.5 hours before the game and the Patriots asked for them to be inflated to 12.5 PSI (the lower end of the scale). That’s the chain of custody, so once the Patriots hand the balls over to the zebras, I say it’s on the zebras. It’s not exactly shocking, the refs did NOT have a good playoff run, making major, game-changing mistakes in pretty much every game. 

Fact 4: Bill’s presser today was awesome. And telling. What he said was fascinating and you can think he’s lying all you want, but answer me this question: why would he get up there and lie his butt off like that? If it does come out that they tampered with the footballs and he knew about it, that press conference would guarantee him a suspension at minimum and might get him fired. Why would he risk it if he didn’t genuinely believe that this is all a bunch of nonsense and the Patriots did not cheat? 

Fact 5: there is adequate scientific evidence that weather could be a logical explanation, not even using Bill’s simulation he discussed today (See the epic presser here, and listen to the Q&A for more gems.). I present to you THREE (yes, THREE) scientific explanations. Lots of math. Lots of science. All the same answer: weather could have done it.

Teenagers recreating conditions and testing the balls (video)
Head Smart Labs article  (you have to scroll down a bit)

But there are some unanswered questions:

1. Why is the NFL moving so slow on this? Is it because they have no evidence or don’t want to admit that it was the officials who goofed? I think Gooddell doesn’t want the scandal on the refs so he’s throwing mud at everyone’s favorite villain. Why Bill B is a villain I’ll never know. He may be the greatest coach ever, so again with the whole success breeds contempt…I guess I could see that. I don’t get it, but I can see how people would feel that way.  

2. why weren’t the Indianapolis balls under-inflated? I don’t know. Perhaps Andrew Luck likes his footballs the same way Aaron Rogers does, so that even though they lost pressure, because they were inflated toward the higher end to start, the loss didn’t matter. Or perhaps the Colts footballs were stored in a cold luggage area on the team bus before the game instead of a nice, room-temperature building, giving them time to acclimate to the weather well before being checked and thus, reached equilibrium, or a better equilibrium, to the elements. Maybe they don’t rub the footballs and do what the Patriots do to get them set for TB. Maybe the refs didn’t check the footballs thoroughly. Don’t know. 

I just can not even understand how this has become such a big deal. At the most, it’s an over-zealous ball boy or negligent refs and it’s far more likely that the real culprit was the 50-and-dropping temperature and the freezing rain. In any case, the Patriots could have beaten the Colts playing with a beach ball, so it’s a non-issue. And IF, as it’s been claimed by so many “Off With Their Heads!” members of the sensationalist media, that the Patriots have been doing this, why haven’t we heard about it before? Why haven’t we heard from the Chiefs or the Dolphins or anyone else who intercepted Tom Brady this year? Where is the PROOF that the Colts said something in November? Where is the PROOF that this was anything other than the weather? 


Where’s the ACTUAL journalism? My goodness, the guys who broke the big stories of the last century are rolling their eyes and turning over in their graves. You can’t call this journalism. It’s biased, bitter, sensationalized propaganda at best. Give me proof. Give me something other than quoting each other’s “reports” from “sources” as substantiated facts and do some actual reporting. Dig. Get to the bottom. Because I’m done. I’ve said my piece, I’ve backed it up with evidence, and I’m done. I’ve lost all respect for a lot of media guys I used to love, (Jason LaConfora, you’re still okay) 
And one final thought. I know the internet trolls are bringing up that the Ravens suggested the K-Balls were flat during the divisional round. No one touches the K-Balls except when kicking them, they’re shipped straight to the refs. (for more on NFL ball protocol, read here)
One more closing thought, as for other Patriots “scandals”: the formation with a receiver declaring himself ineligible is completely legal. It’s not the Patriots fault the Ravens weren’t prepared to deal with that. 1000 percent legal. So was the Tuck Rule game (at the time – the rule has since changed, but that wasn’t until 2013 and the Patriots knew it back then because they lost a game to the Jets because of it). So don’t bring those up as evidence of the “cheating culture”, it just makes you sound stupid.  
And now I’m really done. Drop the mic, I’m out. We’re on to the Super Bowl. On to the Seahawks. Go Pats!

Shopping Secrets and #RE2PECT

As a Red Sox fan, I hate all things Yankee. Seriously. Hate it. With one exception: Derek Jeter. 

Jeter, you will be missed. As much as it hurts me to say that, you will be missed. Quick…I have to compensate for leading off this blog with a picture of a YANKEE…

okay. I feel better. phew. 

Sorry. It’s hard for a die hahd Sawx girl to talk about anyone who plays in pinstripes, even if he is completely respectable and an asset to the game. 

Speaking of baseball, despite my opinion that the All-Star game (hereafter abbreviated ASG) is completely overrated and ridiculous, it’s still baseball and I’m still gonna watch. Also speaking of baseball, I’m finally going to a game this season! Yay! 

No, the Red Sox aren’t playing. I’m going to see the Nats and Brewers. I have never seen the Brewers play before so this should be fun. I like Nat’s Park too. You can take the metro right to it and there is something fun about riding on public transportation when everyone is going to same place and it’s a fun place. It gives you a sense of camaraderie. 

Moving on from sports to my other love, shoes. I have a secret for you ladies, especially if you have a size 7.5 or smaller foot. The BEST place to get cute shoes at a low price is Dress Barn Women. Some Dress Barns are combined, misses sizes and women’s sizes, but some are separate. So Dress Barn Women sells the plus size clothes. Most of the women who shop there , many of them are very tall, which means their foot size is larger. So that means all their clearance shoes are size 6, 6.5, 7, and 7.5 with a handful of larger sizes. When my mom said she was thinking about going there today because she had a coupon my response was this:

And good thing too. Ten minutes later, I was walking out of the store with a pair of green flats studded with gold squares and a pair of subtle cowboy booties. My total? $16.00.

That’s right. TWO pairs of shoes for $16.00. That’s $8.00 a pair. You can’t really beat that. And to top it off, Dress Barn actually sells nice, fairly comfortable shoes. So remember this ladies: if you have tiny feet, check the clearance shoes at the plus size stores. And I’m actually pretty sure the opposite works too. 

So if I don’t blog again until I get back, sorry. I’m just…

I really need to lay off the coffee. And the gifs. :/ 

Peace 🙂

Relevantly Irrelevant

The MLB All-Star game is upon us!!!! Cue the excitement! Cue the music! Break out the beer and snacks!

Or not. 

Can we just discuss how completely ridiculous and irrelevant this game is? But because it’s got post-season implications, it is actually relevant? Forgetting that fact that the players are voted their by the FANS who are by their very definition BIASED (and despite what any of them say, they are all huge homers ), this game is useless! I am not a fan of the All-Star game because in EVERY. OTHER. SPORT. the all-star game is an exhibition. It’s fun. It means nothing.

But no. Baseball has to make this game “relevant“. So now we sit through an exhibition game and have to care because whichever side wins gets HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE for the World Series. Which if anyone is counting, the NL is winning 43-39 all time in All-Star games but in the last 20 years, it’s 13-6 in favor of the AL with 1 tie. 

I’m sorry. The team with the best record should get home field advantage, AL or NL. That’s how they do NBA, NHL…and the NFL playoffs do the same thing (NFL has only one game at a neutral site for the championship, thus it is hard to compare it to baseball). 

Will I watch? Probably. It’s hard not to when you are a sports fan and there is LITERALLY nothing else on. And I don’t watch a whole lot of TV anymore (gee, thanks grad school!) so many times, especially in the summer, sports are the only reason to turn on the tube.

The interwebs on the other hand…

So I tried, really tried, to hold off on watching Emma Approved. I mean, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries were like my biggest form of procrastination the whole time I was getting my Master’s degree. I was actually glad it was over before student teaching. And I refused to start Emma Approved until I graduated and got a job. Well, still no job but I did start (and catch up on) Emma Approved the other day and can I just say: It is FANTASTIC! 

Not only because of these two: 

Emma Woodhouse and Alex Knightley played by Joanna Sotomura and Brent Bailey

But because they are adorable. See exhibits A, and B: 

It also doesn’t hurt that Emma is one of my all time favorite novels with my hands down favorite leading man, ever. He’s always been one of my favorites. I love Jonny Lee Miller in the 2009 Masterpiece Classic Emma. He’s the long-suffering, sensible best friend who is adorably awkward. Bailey’s Knightley is less awkward, more adorable, and is subsequently dubbed “Snarky Knightley” during the show by Emma because he is. Very snarky. Adorably snarky. I LOVE it. I didn’t think it was possible, but I believe I like Mr. Knightley even more now… 

So yeah. I guess check out the All Star game and DEFINITELY check out Emma Approved and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (if you haven’t already)

Also, starting something new: book of the week. I’m reading Zorro by Isabel Allende. 

I’ve read the original (Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley) and loved the Disney series (the one that came out in 1957. I loved watching the reruns of that as a kid) and the movies. So far the book is a bit…off beat. Not bad, but the narrator definitely has an agenda, which I don’t mind but I haven’t really gotten to any action yet. I’ll keep you posted. 


The 4-3, the 3-4 and 34

Okay, if you have been following the Patriots at all this week you’d realize they were snapping up DEs and DTs like nobody’s business. All of a sudden, the Hoody (Bill Belichick) is seemingly switching to a 4-3, considering they took less than 5% of all defensive snaps from the 4-3 since 2008 that’s pretty ding dang dong ridiculous.

And at the risk of sounding like the homer I am, I have to say “all hail the Hoody”.

Think about it. The Patriots played 3-4 for years. They didn’t do 4-3. Period. So all these offense packages that teams have been dreaming up during the lockout, and you know they were working on those, to go against the Patriots D are all out the window now because to be honest no one really knows what they are going to do.

Okay now that I have everyone thoroughly confused, here’s the deal with the different types of defense. I’ll go over the major differences because if I start having to get into the coverage guys…it’ll make your head spin. We’ll start by explaining the personnel.

Linemen: these are the big guys. In a 3-4 defense, there are 3 lineman: a nose tackle (the biggest and strongest) and two defensive ends (DE) who are on either “end” of the three man line. In the 4-3 defense, there are four linemen. The two big dudes in the middle are called defensive tackles (DT) and are usually referred to as the “left” or “right” DT. Pretty self-explanatory.

Linebackers: they do exactly what their name suggests. The stand in back of the line. These guys are a little smaller and a little faster. In the 3-4 defense, you have four linebackers and they concentrate more on stopping the run and confusing the passer (the quarterback). In the 4-3, there are only three linebackers. Linebackers have several names:

Inside Linebacker (ILB) AKA Middle Linebacker (MLB) AKA “Mike”. These are your guys in the middle of the line of linebackers. This is your boss of the defense, usually the guy yelling to his teammates what the QB is about to do or if a blitz has been called, etc. These guys have to do it all, they have to spy on the quarterback, tackle, block runs up the middle, blitz, or drop back into pass coverage depending on the situation.

Outside Linebacker (OLB) The outside linebacker stands on either end of the line of linebackers. They come in two varieties:

Strongside Linebacker AKA “Sam”. These are your big strong guys in terms of linebackers. They line up on the strong side,

which is the side with the most offensive players.

Weakside Linebackers AKA “Will”. These are your most mobile and your fastest linebackers. They line up on the side with

the least offensive players and often have to drop back into pass coverage.

Now that you know who everyone is, here is how those defenses work.

The 3-4

In the 3-4 you have 3 linemen, they consist of one Nose tackle and 2 DEs. Behind them you have 4 linebackers. This is a defense used by the Steelers, Jets, Dolphins, Redskins, Cowboys and several other teams. This seems to be the “trendy” defensive style at the moment,

The 4-3

In the 4-3, you have 4 linemen. A left DT and a right DT and two DEs. Behind them are 3 linebackers. Currently the Colts, Eagles, Lions and several other teams favor this style of defense.

Now, just because a team prefers one over the other doesn’t mean that is the only defense they do. But count the players when they line up at the line of scrimmage (where the ball is) and you’ll be able to make a good guess at what style of defense they are lining up in.

Back to the Patriots. So why are they changing things up when the rest of the league seems to be going the other way? Why not? If this season has taught me anything so far it is that you can never trust Bill Belichick to do what is expected. Watching them and the Eagles this pre-season, I keep wondering where they are getting all this money from. The Patriots like to get good deals for their players but they’ve always stayed closer to the cap than the stingier teams. And now they are switching the defense all up and have all these new faces I don’t know what the team will look like come Thursday when they take on the Jags for the first preseason game of the year. Football (for real) is ALMOST HERE!

You know what, I might even watch the whole preseason game because I’m so starved for football that I don’t care if I have no idea who is playing and the JV team is out there. It’s football and it’s back.

Switching sports for a moment. I’d like to add something about my very favorite #34 since we’ve been talking about 3-4 and 4-3. David Ortiz had a monster night against the Twinkies (Min Twins) tonight. 4-5 with 3 RBIs and just a triple short of the cycle is no laughing matter, especially since the team arrived in Minnesota around 5 PM due to an extremely late marathon against the Yankees. Papi has been slumping a little since the break, but seems to be coming out of it with a great night tonight and some solid ABs against the Yankees.

Schedule for the week:
Sox vs. Twins 8/9 and 8/10
Sox vs. Mariners 8/12-8/14
Patriots vs. Jags 8/11
Now if only I didn’t have finals, this would be a fantastic week. I gotta go dig out my jerseys because FOOTBALL IS BACK!

NFL Week 10: Blackout for Big Blue, Big Ben, But Not Buffalo

Here’s the big story of the week: The Bills have won their first game of the season. They beat the Lions 14-12. The Lion’s ability this season to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is astounding. Good for the Bills, terrible for Detroit.

On to the actual big stories of the week.

The lights went out in New Jersey. Literally. And we aren’t talking about an old dump like Schaefer Stadium, we are talking about the Brand Spanking New New Meadowlands Stadium. Did they forget to pay the power bill or what? Perhaps the Giants need to call in Mike Holmes from HGTV to check out their contractors work and fix what they did wrong.

Things did not go uphill from there. The Cowboys had already plowed over the Giants and were leading the game 26-6 early in the third quarter. The Giants made a good run after the lights came back on 12 minutes later, but much of the amenities we are used to did not return. The biggest thing missing for viewers at home? The score graphic.

Not that it mattered as the Cowboys beat the Giants 33-20. Jason Garret got his first win and the ‘Boys are now 2-7. But hey, if the Cowboys run the table and beat Philly twice, New Orleans and Washington in Dallas, and Indianapolis and Arizona at home, they’ll be 9-7 and may even make the playoffs.

Not exactly likely, but they don’t say “any given Sunday” for nothing.

Another big story of the week: Jacksonville at Houston. After starting the season hot, Houston seems to have cooled off a bit. They went 4-2 before the bye and have lost all three games since then. But nothing hurts as much as the way they lost to Jacksonville on a last-second Hail Mary pass thrown by David Garrard, batted like a volleyball by Houston defensive back Glover Quin into the hands of Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Thomas who scored the go-ahead touchdown with no time left.

Someone needs to explain what you should do in that situation to Quin. You don’t bat the ball you catch it. Or at least make sure that no one else can catch it. Either way Houston walked away with it’s third straight loss and Jacksonville walked away happy.

On to the Sunday Night Game. Pretty good match up as far as Sunday Night games go. The Patriots and the Steelers had identical records, Pittsburgh was coming off a win over Cincinnati, and the Patriots were coming off a shellacking by the Cleveland Browns.

Mike Tomlin called it a match up of emotion verses cerebral. In one sense it is. The Steelers are more aggressive, hard running, taking the lunch pail to the coal mine kind of mentality. The Patriots are like a steady organized assembly line, everyone has a roll, and they do it or they are replaced.

Of course, Tom Brady showed more emotion in the first half that most of the fans there. After his stagnant offense got in it’s own way (again) he pulled them together and blasted them. That seemed to do the trick as the offense quickly put the game out of reach.

It didn’t help that Big Ben was sacked 5 times for 38 yards, as the offensive line couldn’t hold up with both of Ben’s blind side guys, Max Starks and Chris Keomeatu, out with injuries. They also could not establish the run with the offensive line, and when you take away the run, you take away the play-action pass.

All told it was really a bad match up for the Steelers. They are excellent against the run, but the Patriots run game is iffy at best. They have a decent secondary, but the team is predicated on stopping the run. When you face a team that is pass first think about the run later, and your linebackers are not generally pass rushers, its a difficult match up. Especially with the return of Logan Mankins and a generally stout offensive line built around protecting the passer.

Final score: 39-26, though all three of the Steelers touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, which started with the Pats up 23-3. It is of note that Hines Ward left the game early with a “neck injury” (aka concussion) and did not return, leaving the red zone offense to the likes of Randell El.

Other notes from Sunday:

Newly minted Titan Randy Moss caught one pass out of the 5 thrown to him as the Titans dropped one in Miami. The day was equally bad for Miami, despite the win. Chad Pennington attempted his first two passes of the regular season, was promptly injured and now requires surgery. See you in 2011 Chad. So in came Chad Henne. He made it to the tail end of the third quarter before injuring his knee on an incomplete pass. The Dolphins have not ruled out Henne for week 11.

After Henne left, in came quarterback number three, Tyler Thigpen. At this point Tennessee, themselves on their second quarterback of the game, was only down by five. But Thigpen threw a touchdown to Anthony Fasano, they kicked a field goal, and Miami’s defense held Tennessee scoreless in the fourth on their way to a 29-17 victory.

The Jets managed to score in the last minute of overtime to defeat the Cleveland Browns 26-20.

Carson Palmer’s late interception halted Cincinnati’s comeback against Indianapolis as the Colts hang on to win 23-17.

Tampa Bay clobbered Carolina 31-16, just about every player on the Broncos scored in their 49-29 route of Kansas City. Ye Olde Gunslinger Brett Farve’s 1 TD and 3 INTs helped the Chicago Bears on their way to a 13-27 victory over Minnesota.

It is also notable that Jay Cutler thew 3 TDs and 2 INTs in the game and he and Farve are tied for the most picks thrown this season.

Seattle, with Matt Hasselbeck back at the helm, easily defeated the hapless Cardinals 36-18 and the Niners rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter and an OT field goal to defeat the St. Louis Rams 23-20, giving QB Troy Smith his first win of the season.

Philly takes on Washington tonight, and with the Giants loss to Dallas, an Eagles win would put them in a tie for first in the NFC East with the G-Men. If the Redskins win they will move into a tie for second with the Eagles.

Big games next week:

Brett Farve and the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers at home in Minnesota.

Philadelphia plays at home against the Giants, and if they win this week against the Skins, it would be a battle for first in the NFC East.

The Broncos taking on the Chargers could be a good game, certainly a make-or-break one for San Diego, and if Denver plays like it did this last week, the Bolts could be in for a tough one.

And the mother of them all:

Indianapolis at New England. The weather at the moment is cold but clear and this looks to be a big match up, as these games always are, pitting Tom Brady against Peyton Manning. Both teams are pretty evenly matched, with the Pats getting a slight edge for being at home. We should be in for a real treat, watch at 4:15 on CBS.

Special Teams, Special Win

I’ve seen a lot of MNF games in my life, and a lot of Patriots MNF games. I’ve seen great defenses, better offenses, and pretty good special teams. But I have never seen anything like what happened on Monday night.

The Patriots set an NFL record for scoring a touchdown 5 different ways:

1. Brandon Tate kickoff returned for a touchdown (start of the second half)
2. Patrick Chung blocks a punt with 13:32 remaining in the 3rd quarter, which leads to a BenJarvis Green-Ellis rushing touchdown with 12:50 to play in the 3rd.
3. Tom Brady threw to Danny Woodhead for 11 yards and a touchdown with 4:09 left in the 3rd.
4. Patrick Chung blocks a field goal attempt and Kyle Arrington picks the ball up and scores with 14:16 left in the game
5. Brandon Marshall doesn’t commit to his route which leads to Chad Henne throwing the ball right to Patrick Chung who promptly runs the ball 35 yards for a pick-6 touchdown.

Actually, that’s pretty much the only ways you can score a touchdown, the only one missing was a punt return.

By the way, Rob Ninkovich is the honorary Yeti of The Week for stopping two Miami drives with his first and second interceptions of his career. Chad Henne will be seeing number 50 in his sleep this week.

Also, kudos to Randy Moss. He didn’t see a lot of action this week, but his presence on the field opened things up for the running game, the tight ends and the slot receivers. (PS…please don’t trade him!)

Tom Brady also won his 100th game of his career, 7 games faster than any other quarterback, the next quickest being Dan Marino at 138 games, in the Superbowl Era (yes, that includes Peyton Manning, it took him 154 games). In fact, only two coach-quarterback combinations have more wins together than Brady and Belichick, and if they stay together for the next two years, they will easily surpass that number.

But the offense was not really the story on Monday. It seems the thing missing last year was Rodney Harrison. Not necisarily him, personally, but his ability to get the team feeling like they were being disrespected, overlooked, and underappreciated by everyone else. For the first time in a while, that team looked around the locker room and knew that all they had was each other. If you don’t think that’s a powerful thing, you haven’t seen the difference between a team gelling on defense and a team not gelling on defense.

It’s night and day.

This time the lack of respect was brought up by the Hood Man himself. In the Patriots weekly newspaper, they post the “expert” picks from around the NFL. None of the experts picked New England, and most of them were down on the young defense, calling them the worst pass defense in the league. Bill Belichik thought it appropriate to share that with his team, and most of them did not appreciate the lack of faith from the leagues “experts”.

Yes, the defense needs work, but its hardly the worst in the league. The defense is young, and with that youth comes the propensity to make mistakes. Without veteran leadership from guys like Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi, who are, admittedly, the one-in-a-million type guys who lead without trying, some of the young guys fall apart when they make mistakes instead of fighting back.

This Patriots defense fought back, and fought back hard.

The first half wasn’t pretty. In fact, Miami would have scored another two touchdowns if it weren’t for Rob Ninkovich. But Ninkovich was prepared, he knew the routes Miami was running, and it paid off. So despite the fact that they gave up 400 yards, they only gave up 14 points. And I’ll take that any day. When they needed stops, they got them, and as such looked much, much better then they had the previous two weeks.

Which is good, because you can’t give up thirty points to Buffalo and have people take you seriously as a defense. But I was really impressed at how everyone stepped up their game this week. Mayo seemed to be all over the field, making tackles left and right, Banta-Cain got some good pressure in Henne, Patrick Chung made some outstanding plays and so did Rob Ninkovich.

The most important improvement from the defense this week was confidence. When the game was close, they held it together. They shut down the Dolphins and kept them down. And confidence can be built on. Now they know they have this sort of game in them, now they have a huge chip on their shoulder by being doubted so completely, now they are playing as a team.

Bill Belichick needs to take a page out of Doc River’s book and have his defense working on Ubuntu. It means “I am what I am because of who we all are”. It is the Celtics mantra, and what helps them remember that individuals do not win games, teams do.

So I am heading into the bye week with hope. Hope for the Patriots, and hope for that young defense.

And since the Red Sox are officially out, I’m going with my hometown boy Mike Cuddyer and saying “GO TWINS!”. This could also stem from a hatred of the Rays, dislike of the Texans, and a burning, intense hatred for the Skankees.

Ga-Ga For Gronk, Crazy For Crumpler

The New England Patriots new tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is my new favorite player. Called, almost appropriately, “Gronk”, he is one of three Gronkowskis in the league this season. Chris Gronkowski plays fullback for Dallas and Dan Gronkowski, is a tight end for the Lions. They are the only set of three siblings in the NFL at this time.

Gronk is an absolute beast. 6’6″ and 264 pounds, and only 21, he is what I like to call a “big fella”. 

His play during the first half of the Rams/Patriots game tonight solidified my good opinion of him. He’s a big, blocking tight end and taking over in a position that’s been largely ineffective the last few years. 

But that’s not all the Patriots did to improve their tight end play.

They added speedy Aaron Hernandez and bull-dozing Alge Crumpler to create a really interesting mix of tight ends that can add wrinkles to the Patriots offense this season. 

And tonight, both Gronk and Crumpler have been showing off. 

In the first half, Gronkowski literally dragged linebacker James Laurinaitis about five yards before diving and just breaking the plane for a touchdown. He looked like a favorite uncle trying to escape the pesky niece or nephew that just won’t let go of his foot. (Video here)

And the Patriots were in the red zone thanks to a huge, on his knees, hands clamped onto the ball catch on the sideline by Alge Crumpler. I’d say that was Sportscenter highlight number one and Gronk’s trip to the end zone number two. (Video here)


I would look for Gronk to be a big end zone target in the mold of Mike Vrabel. Vrabel worked as a touchdown target because he was big, quick, and had good hands. Vrabel was two inches shorter and four pounds lighter than Gronkowski. 

And Crumpler will not only provide an experienced blocker with good hands, but his ten years of experience will rub off on his rookie counterparts. 

How much better is this team going to be when you can’t tell if Brady is going to check down to one of his tight ends, or if they will provide blocks for runs or big throws. Plus, it is hard for some of the guys in the backfield, who average about 6′, 200 pounds, to guard someone who is just plain bigger than them. 

Now if only some of the awesomeness of the new tight ends will rub off on the defense, the Patriots will be unstoppable. 


Brady, Manning and the CBA: 18 Games and Counting

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are both in the final year of their contracts this year. The NFL is spiraling towards a lockout in 2011 and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). There might be 18 games in the 2012 regular season. And it’s the all-important week three of the preseason where starters play most of the game.

First off, the ever-present, but not talked about as much as Darelle Revis’s holdout, contract negotiations. One would think this would be one of the summer’s biggest stories, aside from Albert Haynesworth and his conditioning test.

Of course, the two teams and two men under discussion are football-focused and generally mum to the media on any issues.

Tom Brady looks to bounce back this season, another year removed from his knee injury, and he has his favorite weapons of Moss and Welker, plus shiny new tight-ends and a healthy troupe of running backs.

If his young defense picks it up this season, even in a difficult division with a killer schedule, the Patriots should make the playoffs. Again.

And Manning is consistently very good, winning accolades and games. Brady has more rings and is younger, so he should probably be paid a bit more, but both players are looking at contracts upwards of $100 million.

So why haven’t the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts inked their franchise QBs to mega-million dollar deals?

Here are a few reasons:

1. Both teams want their star quarterbacks and are willing to fork up the cash, but both want to say their guy is the highest paid guy. Maybe Robert Kraft (Pats owner) and Jim Irsay (Colts owner) need to call each other up and pay them the exact same.

2. Jim Irsay forgot Peyton Manning is payed to play football. Irsay is so used to seeing Manning on TV in one of his million commercials, he thought he was an actor.

3. Bill Bellichick and Robert Kraft don’t like Tom Brady’s haircut and are hoping to ink a deal once he gets it cut.

4. Why pay a guy millions of dollars if you are just going to lock him out next year?

At least one of those reasons is a joke. The prospect of no football next year is not, however.

The NFL is one of the most successful companies in the country. And yes, it may be a game, but it is still a company in the business of making money.

The players want better health care, which they only receive for five years after retirement. Also, they don’t want to add two games to the season, partially because they are concerned about injury and partially because they won’t be paid extra for the extra games.

The owners want more money. No one goes to the preseason games, so they want more butts in the seats eating popcorn and drinking beer.

As for the lockout? No problem. The owners get paid big bucks next year whether we watch football on Sundays or re-runs of I Love Lucy.

The sides are only miles apart on the issues, and will grow further as the owners approved the “enhanced” season (AKA the 18 game one) today. That would have to be approved by the Players Union, and that’s looking like a big, fat “no” at the moment.

So how do we solve this quandary?

Some suggest a compromise of a 17-game season and 3 weeks of preseason. That won’t work because it’s not “fair”. Some teams would get two home games, others only one.

Okay, how about 17 and 2? And I bet if the owners lowered the price of the games, like baseball does for spring training, you would get more butts in the seats eating popcorn and drinking beer. That’s probably not going to happen.

The players might agree to the 18-game season if they are paid for it and their health benefits are increased. It also wouldn’t hurt to restructure the rookie salaries to be slotted like the NBA, allowing you to pay players based on their merit in the NFL as opposed to what they did in college.

Until this is all sorted out, expect delays on all contract negotiations, even the gimmes like Brady and Manning. And enjoy what football gives this season, we may have to wait another 18 months between this season’s Superbowl and the next season opener.