Boston Sports Pod
All things Boston Sports with Joe and Shawn. Two long-time, hard-core fans of the Boston teams talk about what is going on with the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Revolution, and (honorary Boston team) Liverpool FC.

Joe and Shawn discuss the Chris Sale trade to the Red Sox and what the impact on the Sox will be. Then, they look ahead to Monday night with the Patriots and Ravens game. They close with some Bruins.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp68.mp3
Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 1:24pm EDT

Joe and Shawn talk Patriots: even though the Pats continue to win, what problems are lurking and what are the long-term chances for the Patriots. 

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp67.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 7:27pm EDT

Joe and Shawn discuss the Patriots loss to the Seahawks. They look at the defensive problems as well as other concerns going forward this season. They close catching up on some Bruins.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp65.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 7:30pm EDT

In the first half of the show Joe and Shawn talk about what it was like as Red Sox fans to watch the Chicago Cubs win, yes, win the World Series. The second half of the show, they talk about the surprise trade of Jamie Collins and what that means for the Patriots going forward.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp64.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:22am EDT

Joe and Shawn record the podcast in the same room for the first time on Boston Sports Pod. They open with the Patriots victory over Cleveland and the return of Tom Brady. Before getting into the Red Sox Playoffs, they talk a bit about football rankings and why they have been down. At about 45:00, they get into what's ailing the Red Sox and whether Monday's game will Papi's last.  

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp63.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 5:09pm EDT

Joe and Shawn discuss the Patriots loss to the Bills and what that means. And of course they talk about the return of the GOAT, Tom Brady. At about the half way mark, they shift gears to talk about about the Red Sox, their chances against the Cleveland Indians, and the end of Papi's career. They close with some Bruins talk: #FireClaude!

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp62.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 8:37pm EDT

Red Sox Magic Number is 1: do they have a World Series run in them? (25:00) Patriots demolish Texans but still have a potentially tough Buffalo team to get through with as of yet undisclosed QB. (50:00) Bruins sign Brad Marchand to a long term deal: good or bad? 

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp61.mp3
Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 12:53am EDT

Joe and Shawn talk Patriots and Red Sox in this week's episode of the pod. From Garoppolo to Brissett to Joe ranting about Goodell, the first half of the pod focuses on the Patriots. After about the half way mark, the focus turns to the Red Sox and their push for the playoffs.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp60.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:05am EDT

Joe and Shawn preview the New England Patriots 2016-17 season and make their predictions for each game and the season.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp58.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:03am EDT

After a long summer break, Joe and Shawn are back in the Big Summer pod. To make up for lost time, this pod is extra long! The first 30 minutes or so covers the main story lines for the Red Sox: pitching and Farrell's future. The next 30 minutes focuses on the off-season moves of the Celtics and Bruins. The remainder is on the Patriots: Deflategate (ugh) and a Brady-less team to start the season.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp57.mp3
Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 2:28pm EDT

Joe and Shawn can't leave the Bruins alone but then shift to the Celtics playoffs (11:00). At 25:00, they shift to how April has treated the Red Sox. Then they discuss how Deflategate is like Game of Thrones (49:00). (possible spoilers).

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp56.mp3
Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 9:28pm EDT

Joe and Shawn start the show with a discussion of the Boston Marathon (08:00) They then shift to the Bruins and what needs to be done and who needs to be fired. (30:00) Celtics are going to the playoffs, facing Atlanta in the first round. In the second half the show, (40:00) they get into the Red Sox and how their season has started off. (1:00:00) Closing with a look at some Patriots offseason moves and then some how end up talking about soccer.

Show Notes:

Joe and Shawn reacting to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing:

Joe's Blog: Title Town:

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp55.mp3
Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 12:43am EDT

Joe and Shawn rate the Patriots off season trades (Chandler Jones, Martellus Bennett) and signings (Chris Long). At 30:00 they switch to the Sox and the disaster that is Pablo Sandoval. At 40:00 it's Bruins and Celtics Playoff scenarios. They close the show with a discussion of (55:00) the Catholic Memorial-Newton North issue. Joe announces his new blog:

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp54.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:32am EDT

Joe and Shawn discuss the Bruins' trade deadline moves (or lack thereof!) and the short term future. At 22:00 they turn to the Celtics with a more positive view. With Spring Training officially starting, they discuss the Red Sox (42:00) and what their chances are this year. Lastly, they close with some comments on Brady's contract extension (1:02:00).

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp53.mp3
Category:Bruins -- posted at: 12:12am EDT

     Red Sox Spring Training 2016 is reminding me of the old days when spring training was full of nutty stories about nutso players. Back in the day when Red Sox teams were characterized by the “25 players - 25 cabs mentality,” they had spring training shenanigans that you could set your watch by.

I'm talking about pre 2004, pre Terry Francona and before the current ownership group (which to its credit has created a more accountable culture in Fenway South, at least up to this year). I thought Henry, Werner et al. had established a more professional outfit down there. Gone were the days of Roger Clemens showing up whenever he pleased, and when he did, leading Butch Hobson on a jog like a leashed puppy. I thought we'd seen the last of John Valentin throwing a hissy fit and storming out of camp when Nomar took his place at shortstop. Weren't we through with Carl Everett driving himself to games rather than taking the team bus? I thought so. For a few years spring training lacked the drama and nonsense of years past. The players and coaches were there to get ready for the season; focused professionals every one of them. No drama, no selfish acting out.

Now it seems we are back to ownership catering to the stars, making excuses for them and in the process undermining the unity of the team.

This year's cirque de Sox has rotund Pablo Sandoval looking no slimmer than last year. Ownership is not criticizing Pablo Sandoval's poor commitment to fitness. They are supporting him publicly, even saying he is in better shape than last year (17% body fat ?!?) which pushes the bounds of credibility.

What is Pablo's deal? Does he not care enough about baseball to temper his desire to thrown down Tasty Burger with a side of Shake Shack for breakfast, lunch and maybe dinner? Two years in row now, his huge gut has been photographed and put on blast. Who wants that? Anybody in their right mind is going to be at least miffed by that. By some accounts, Pablo does care and is sensitive to this kind of bad PR. Some reports had him leaving San Francisco in part because of the pressure they put on him over his weight. I think it matters to him. He would have to be a cyborg for the weight stuff to not be bothering him. So why doesn't he do something about it? He is still a young man; he can take the weight off if he works at it. And it seems he does work out and put in the time in the gym. So it must be the appetite, the massive food intake. The epic trips to Five Guys - like back up the SUV to the loading dock type epic.

Hanley Ramirez, on the other hand - he don't care. He simply does not care, and he doesn't even try to hide it. I have never seen an athlete give off the “don't give a shit” vibe in more ways and more obviously than this guy. His smirk, his body language, even his comments to the media are ridiculous, “Maybe I'll win a gold glove this year . . . .“ Could he make it more obvious he thinks this all a big joke? It's like he's a deliberate caricature of the aloof, distant, talented, millionaire athlete. He would be the last guy on the team I would want to sit down and have a beer with. He defines “unlikable” for a baseball player. I hope his attitude doesn't infect the team this year. They need their stars to be good leaders.

With the manager, a position one hopes would be a steadying influence, we have potential lame duck John Farrell. I wish the man the best. I'm thrilled he beat back cancer, and it speaks well of the Red Sox brass that they kept him on to start to the season. Some human sensitivity can be inferred from the non-firing. However, think of the bad publicity generated from firing Farrell while he was fighting cancer. No, the Sox were wise enough to take a broader view of the matter and let him start this year and see how it goes, but keep the leash very short. It's all sunshine and lollipops if the team is winning, but this is a bottom line business and this organization has too much money invested on the field to suffer another last place finish. Dombrowski and Farrell have no prior relationship. If the team struggles in April and maybe into May, Dave isn't going to wait very long to let him go.

Piling on, we of course have the David Ortiz Farewell Tour and his feud with David Price. Price actually admitted to being nervous about the first time seeing Papi at camp – wondering when and where it would happen, how would he act. He sounded like a pimply-faced teenager sweating over first seeing his crush after summer break. Now I'm not lumping Papi and his issues in with the two aforementioned clowns in a negative light. In fact, he and Price hugged it out and seem to be on the same page. Rather, this is yet another big story line going on, and it involves a big ego, a monster personality, and a lot of media coverage. Anything Papi says or does is noteworthy, even more so now that this is his last spring as an active player. Papi makes news whenever he utters a word. For the next few weeks and throughout he season this is going to be a spectacle. I hope he goes out with a big season, and produces as he has been recently, because this team does not need any distractions. I wouldn't want Big Papi's Farewell Tour to be one that robs this team of any focus.

Why have we seemingly returned to the days of spring trainings past? Is the culture of the organization changing? Is it becoming one less structured around player accountability and the dirt dog mentality, and more centered around the stars and their issues? This is not the culture that won the World Series in 2013. That was a team, T-E-A-M, team. One that worked its ass off and grinded out every run and win, and rode that attitude all the way to the top. The 2016 team would be wise to emulate that.


 - Joe




Category:Red Sox -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

     The Celtics are H-O-T hot. Brad Steven's crew is on a 10-2 run leading up to the All-Star break, and have a feel of the “it” team right now. With thrilling wins over psuedo-rival Lebron James and his top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, and the four seed in the west Clippers, the green team has created a buzz around it not seen in a few years. And I'm not just talking locally either - the Cs are making noise and being heard around the league.

The problem is the Celtics don't have a superstar. And in the star-driven NBA, in order for them to win and beat quality opponents, they have to play good team basketball, and play it with grit, determination and resilience. That's the kind of ball we love in Boston. We will give a team a lot of slack on wins and losses if they are busting their asses and giving a real effort every game. Yet, its been a long time since any NBA team won it all without a superstar, or two, or three. So if the Cs are ever going to be more than a gritty pretender, they need to do some wheeling and dealing, and do it by noon tomorrow the 18th. Fortunately, trader Danny Ainge is, as usual, very active in the talks. He didn't get the nickname trader Danny by accident. A new name is attached to trade rumors every day; Dwight Howard (no, please no), James Harden, Kevin Love (yes), Blake Griffin, Al Horford, Boogie Cousins . . . perhaps a combination of some such. I'm betting something gets done, too much noise and too many possibilities.

However, Celtics ownership has come out and low-keyed things, professing no urgency to get a deal done or bring in a big man superstar to get them to the next level. I call BS on that. When does a professional sports franchise front office ever tell the truth to the media around the trade deadline? Yeah, never. And to his credit, trader Danny is an accomplished, experienced fibber in this arena. I think we will see a blockbuster trade this week that at least significantly if not drastically improves the team.

I'm officially getting stoked on the Cs. Imagine: Ainge gets Love, he fits in here like the missing link, Thomas and Love light it up, we get to Game 7 in the East finals against the Cavs . . . Would that not be a blast? Boston would be bathed in green in May and June, and not because it's springtime.

Which brings me around to my admission of being a C's band-wagon rider. I keep an eye on them always, but I make no disguise of my diminished love of the NBA game and the Celtics. There was a time when I was a steady, regular fan. I loved the Big Three in the 80's, just as I was becoming a young sports fan. That impressionable time in one's life when you legit LOVE your local sports team, go ga-ga over them. Your emotions swing with their highs and lows. And when Magic drops a last-second baby hook runner to tear your heart out, it feels like the end of the world. That's what the Celtics meant to me thirty years ago. The Reggie Lewis years and the Walker-Pierce run of 2003-04 were fun, but by then the game had changed and the NBA had sunk to a distant 4th in my sports priorities.

The new Big Three run with Garnett, Pierce and Allen was awesome; I was back on the wagon then. It didn't last long though did it? I'm not alone in thinking we got gypped out of at least that 2nd championship, and a few more years of high-level play. The new Big Three got old quickly. Ask the Brooklyn Nets about that.

Besides rooting for the Celtics being at times difficult, the game itself is not as entertaining. It has become one in which a team must have a superstar or two to compete for a championship. There is no parity. There is no sense that on any given Sunday . . . And the games themselves are dominated by hero ball, ticky-tack fouls, superstar favoritism, and long-stretches of irrelevant play. Too often only the last several minutes are important in deciding the outcome. The first 3 quarters are frequently meaningless and unentertaining.

Even with all that working against it, I can be sucked back in quite easily. Just give me a dynamic, exciting team and some hope for the games to mean something in the Spring and I'm in. So bring in Kevin Love, give Cleveland or New York a Brooklyn pick. Leverage the assets we have for a big-time player. Let's get this team deep into the playoffs. We already have a piece to build with, IT, our All-Star.  Give him a playmate or two and see if coach Stevens can get this team to game 7 or beyond. Boston will be a green town once again, and I'm on board.

 - Joe




Category:general -- posted at: 7:34am EDT

Joe and Shawn react to the Super Bowl. With the end of the NFL season, they shift to the Celtics (37:00) and the Bruins (45:00). 

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp52.mp3
Category:Bruins -- posted at: 11:44pm EDT

 The Sports Fan's Dead Zone

     It's January 31st and it's 60 degrees outside. It feels like spring is in the air, but don't be fooled. On this day last year winter was just getting going on its way to a record-breaking month of snowfall and blizzards. Remember getting 3 feet of snow, then 2 feet, then a foot, then another 2 feet, day after day, week after week; it just kept falling, piling up to heights not seen before in this corner of the world.

At least we had that excitement last year. The sports fan's Dead Zone is upon us and there aren't any Winter Hurricane Blizzard Super Storm Whomevers coming to keep us occupied. The Dead Zone lasts from whenever the Patriots season ends (1 game too soon this year) to when the Red Sox season begins. The Dead Zone can be delayed by a compelling Super Bowl, which I think this year's is. Roughly we are talking about the period of time from late January to early April. It encompasses the whole month of March. Sure March Madness occurs during this time, but who cares? Seriously, does anybody around here give two flips about college basketball? I haven't paid close attention since the great UMASS teams of the nineties. Sure, every so often Boston College will make some noise and I'll pay attention, and maybe I'll tune in for the Final Four and beyond. But other than that, if the Bruins and Celtics aren't interesting, this time of year is dead.

Unless your thing is All-Star games, of course. And if it is, you have some explaining to do. Hard-core gamblers, okay, I understand it, gotta feed your jones - gamble on. But if you're not risking your paycheck on the NFL Pro Bowl, then why the hell are you watching it?! Team Irvin, team Rice, or whatever the new gimmick was this year - nobody is playing real football, it's not entertaining. How about Team I Don't Give a Crap?

The NHL All-Star game is kind of a joke too. Like the Pro Bowl, the NHL now tries a new gimmick every year to try and make it relevant, aka get higher ratings. This year's 3 on 3 play was a brave attempt at entertainment by the NHL, and its skills competitions are kind of cool. But there was no game to watch, no competition where the stakes are high. The saga of John Scott was the most noteworthy thing about the game.

These all-star events are becoming less about a game where the outcome matters, and more about a weekend of events and irrelevant mini-competitions designed to get ratings. They aren't a showcase of the best at their sport doing what they do at the highest level, and trying to win an important game in their given sport. Perhaps a league will get the formula right some day and an all-star event will mean something again. Until then, they are denizens of the Dead Zone.

What about the Bruins and Celtics? First of all, they are very clearly the 3rd and 4th most important sports in New England. When one of them makes a playoff run or builds a consistent winner, they become more relevant but still won't ever top the Sox and Pats. Secondly, even when the Bs and Cs are competitive, which they both are to some degree this year, February and March can be a real drag. Hockey and basketball teams only play two or three games a week and given that their schedules are bloated and need trimming, some of these games can get dull. Even the players take nights off during the season. They get bored this time of year too!

Spring training at JetBlue Park, with its sun-splashed palm trees and golf-course tanned broadcasters, does provide some relief from the Dead Zone, but it's still a tease. Getting up to speed on the new guys, Greg Kimbrel and David Price most notably, and wondering if Hanley Ramirez will yank a hammy the first time he bends over at first base, will only make us crave the real deal. Watching spring training games is not my idea of a good time. It's similar to watching all-star games; the results don't matter, it's not real competition.

So we take comfort in an old New Englander habit, desperately looking forward to the Spring. The coming of Spring is a time of hope and rebirth, when daylight holds on a little longer every day, mud-colored snow piles slowly give way to grass and pavement and the robins return to signal in each new day. It's a time to assess what was, the Patriots' season was a bust, and anticipate what could be, the Red Sox look like a potential contender.

After all, truck day is only a week away and pitchers and catchers report on February 18th.

 - Joe


Category:general -- posted at: 3:46pm EDT

AFC Championship: This Loss Hurt


Losing the AFC Championship game to Denver was and is a painful experience. The aftershocks will go on for days, weeks, even months. And in special cases, the truly heart-breaking, soul-splitting losses, the pain never goes away. I don't think this one is special . . . time will tell.

Special case or not, dropping that game on Sunday burns badly. It's left me feeling all kinds of bad. First was the shock of the loss. Then, soon after, the confusion, because this wasn't supposed to happen. Watching Peyton Manning celebrate while Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick walk off the field dejected and beaten, didn't make sense in my mind. The reality I was experiencing wasn't what I expected to see and my mind was having trouble making sense of it. How could they have lost?! Did they really just lose that game?! They were supposed to win a fifth Super Bowl this year. Gronk and Edelman were healthy (?) and playing – our offense was awesome. Peyton Manning sucks now. He couldn't beat us when he was good, never mind with a broken wing.

But he did. And the Broncos beat us fair and square. Manning was better than we all thought he would be. Brady wasn't as good as we thought he would be and the offense wasn't awesome. The Patriots lost in the biggest game of the year and now the season is over, no fifth Super Bowl win, no crowning of Brady as the undisputed GOAT, no laughing at Peyton and his forehead.

Once this reality set in, I got that dreaded feeling inside. The one that lingers and makes me not read The Globe sports section or listen to Felger and Mazz et al. Its a crappy feeling, and I suspect there are a lot of fans in Patriot Nation that feel the same way.

When the football season ends so abruptly, so badly, so . . . unexpectedly, it's like an emptiness fills me, I get the 1000-yard stare, I feel the pain in my gut. It's like when a family pet dies. It's akin to getting dumped out of the blue. It's that level of misery. But as with everything, time heals, and I can hope for just a dull melancholy and eventual relief.

Am I just way too invested in this team and losing a grip, or do we Patriot fans all go through something similar? I'm guessing we do. And judging by the commentary that I'm reading and hearing, there are a lot of people in New England pretty pissed off and disappointed. We thought this team could get it done. We connected with this team and invested so much time and effort and emotion in it and we didn't get the return on investment that we expected. We're not happy about that. This team should have been in the Super Bowl and we all know it. They were the best AFC team when healthy and the road to the Lombardi trophy should be going through New England. But it's not, and there is a lot of blame to go around; the blown home-field advantage, the offensive line, the game plan, Brady. Too many mistakes were made in the most important moments of the season and this team didn't fulfill its potential.

I'm placing it in my top five all-time worst Patriot losses. Now, it is early so that may change with time. I know it definitely won't take the number 1 spot. That belongs to the 2007 team that went 18-1. That is one of the special cases, an elite level of loss-related despair. That devastating experience will not be forgotten and the pain still resides in me. As does the 2006 team's loss to Peyton's Colts in the AFC Championship game. We had never loss to Manning in the playoffs and I hadn't a thought in my mind that we could or would. A 20-3 half-time lead just made me comfortable enough so when the walls came crashing down and Reche Caldwell dropped a touchdown and the Colts won, I was crushed. Sunday reminded me of that game. Shocking, unexpected, I wasn't prepared for the reality of a Patriot loss that day either.

All that said, I know we have it good here in New England. The Patriots have dominated the NFL for 15 years and the Brady/Bellichick window should be open for several more years, and the other major sports teams win championships and compete at the highest level of their sport. Its been a wonderful time to be a Boston sports fan.

However, this gives nobody the right to diminish the pain and suffering we endure when our teams lose. We bleed just like everyone else! I'd argue our losing is harder to accept because our expectations are so high.

The Patriots are the best sports team any of us will see our lifetime, and they give us something to be proud of. They are simply the best and have been for a long time now. They've become part of our cultural psyche, part of our self-identification. And when they fail horribly at the most important time, we feel every bit of the pain because whether they win or lose has become whether we win or lose.


  • Joe










Category:Patriots -- posted at: 2:02pm EDT

Joe and Shawn work through their pain and disappointment after the Patriots lose to Denver in the AFC Championship. Where does this loss rank for us? Who are the zeroes and can we find any heroes? What does the future hold?

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp51.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:06am EDT

The Patriots: Colossus of the AFC

     The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 to advance to their fifth straight AFC Championship game. Fifth straight! Hearing that got me thinking; how do you define 'dominate?' Does beating your opponent 75% of the time, 153-52 including playoffs, over 15 years show dominance? How about nine AFC championship games in fourteen years; while winning six, plus a tenth appearance this Sunday?

Chew on this for a moment. After Sunday, the Patriots will have played in 10 conference championship games in 15 seasons. Two out of every three AFC championships since '01 have involved the Patriots. That is truly remarkable. We are witnessing an astounding run of success that the AFC has never seen.

The Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots' main AFC competition during the Brady/Bellichick era, have done quite well since '01. Remember all those years of Peyton Manning blowing doors during the regular season then going one-and-done as a #1 or #2 seed. Good times! They've barely missed a beat with Andrew Luck picking up where Peyton left off. But they've only won at a 67% clip in the AFC, including playoffs, going 133-67.

The playoffs numbers are even more disparate. The Patriots are 18-6 against strictly the AFC competition. That number looks familiar, a .750 winning percentage again. No difference, the Patriots win just as often when playing the cream of the AFC, the elite. The Colts, not so much. They wilt significantly come playoff time, going 11-10, a .520 winning percentage.

What about the Steelers? They've been pretty good this century, winning a couple super bowls, fielding a good squad every year, playoff bound most of the time. But they're not in the Patriots' class. The Steelers won 63% of their AFC match-ups from '01-'15, dipping slightly to 61% in the playoffs.

The Ravens perhaps? Nope, not even close. A couple super bowl titles if you count 2000, but they have an up and down regular season pattern over the years and are only one game over .500 once they make the playoffs. The Ravens lack the consistency you see with the Patriots.

This version of the Patriots, the Brady/Bellichick version is the greatest dynasty in AFC history, arguably NFL history as well. The early '90s Buffalo Bills were good, 4 straight AFC championships, Jim Kelly and the K-gun offense, Thurman Thomas, but they didn't last very long. The Steelers of the '70s had a great run; and the Dolphins and Raiders have all had their moments in the sun. However, none of them combine the consistent winning with the longevity as the Patriots have. In the American Football Conference, it's the '01-'15 Patriots and then everyone else.

I am in awe of the Patriots. It is hands down the greatest sports team I have ever had the pleasure of rooting for. I am ashamed to admit that I doubted them coming into the Chiefs game. They limped to end of the regular season, whether by design or not, this team did not look like it had what it takes to win another Super Bowl. Wrong! I was humbled by what they showed us on Saturday. They flipped the switch into playoff mode, just like that – SNAP! And boom, they come out throwing the ball all over the yard, Brady doing Brady things, leaping into the end zone on a qb sneak, firing darts at his BFF Edelman. It was awesome to watch. I almost felt bad for the Chiefs. They are a good football team, well-prepared and talented defensively. Yet they will go down as just another stepping stone on yet another Patriots run to the Lombardi trophy.

The Patriots are the greatest AFC team in history

Enjoy it folks because it can't last forever. As machine-like as they seem at times, Brady and Bellichick are human, they will have to stop at some point. And when they do, the golden days are over. So bask in the glory while it lasts.


- Joe


* Statistics collected from





Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

This is the 50th episode of the Boston Sports Pod! Joe and Shawn look back at what they have done and why. They also discuss the decade and half of AFC dominance by the Patriots and Brady (09:30). In the second half of the show, they talk about the return of Edelman, the porous 3rd down Pats D, and the victory over the KC (37:00). They close with a look forward to the AFC Championship Game against Denver next week (55:00).

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp50.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 10:59pm EDT

     The Bengals, oh the Bengals. Are they not the most predictable chokers in league? Man, they just did the self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Its almost as if they couldn't handle winning a playoff game, so they purposely threw it away. Saturday night's game was a disgrace. The fans, the coaches, the players – they were all a disgrace. They set the football program back years with this display. The city of Cincinnati ought to be ashamed of itself.

Full disclosure, I lived and worked in Cincinnati for 2 years, about 2007 – 2009. I missed a lot of good Patriot football in 2007. Well, I missed being in Boston and the daily hype and talk around that 2007 team, but I digress. Cincinnati blows. The city has little class, second-rate culture, horrible dining and cuisine (Cincinnati chili is an abomination), and crappy sports teams. Remember those fun days when Bengals were getting arrested every other week? From living there I know how much those players loved to cross the Ohio river into Kentucky where the rules are looser. A whole cottage industry of vice thrives over the bridge to serve this demand. Heck, I would go over there myself to buy cheaper smokes. Nevertheless, I couldn't hang there for long and moved back to Boston as soon as work allowed for it. Ultimately, it was the people that I had daily contact with that discouraged me from planting any roots there. They reeked of insincerity, they would stab you in the back without a thought. Casual racism was widely accepted and depth of character was hard to find. Concepts, trends, and behavioral norms common on the East Coast were either non-existent or years away from arriving there. Which brings me to my point, Cincinnati is a third-rate city, the local fan base and ownership leaves much to be desired, and the local football is simply an extension of this below-average, mess of a town.

This is not to say Cincinnati has no redeeming qualities. It has an interesting local history, a quality museum or two, an excellent zoo, and good medical facilities. And I'll give credit where it's due, Marvin Lewis has turned around a bottom-dwelling team and made them competitive and a perennial playoff entrant. But that's as far as it goes. The Bengals don't win playoff games, haven't in 7 straight tries over 20 years. They don't often win high-profile match-ups. Monday Night Football, SNF, any situation where the stakes are higher than your average game, the Bengals usually cough it up. Andy Dalton is good quarterback, to a degree. But he plays poorly in big games. Marvin Lewis is not good at high-pressure decision making. He screws up clock management and substitutions during the most important moments. The rest of the team seems to follow this lead, and plays its worst when it counts the most. We saw all of this on Saturday night (except Dalton due to injury). All of the Bengal's classic, choking ineptitude on display for the world to see, with a heavy dose of poor sportsmanship and atrocious decision making thrown in just in case viewers weren't completely sure the Bengal's are losers.

I'll give them this, the Bengals made for fun viewing. The game was entertaining as hell. It got fantastic ratings.

What was already a chippy affair turned nasty when Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier drilled Giovani Bernard helmet first, knocking Bernard unconscious and the ball loose for Pittsburgh to recover. No penalty was called and I didn't think the hit was illegal, or even dirty. Hard, helmet first, but Shazier didn't launch himself, or pile drive Bernard. It looked like a hard, well-executed, borderline illegal hit. The way the Bengals reacted you'd think Shazier kicked Bernard in the head, stomped on his hands, took his lunch money and stole his girl all at the same time! Vontaze Burfict sure seemed to think so. As well the fans.

On a Ben Roethlisberger drop back, Burfict launched himself at the QB, hit him hard and dropped his full weight onto him. Big Ben was hurt, enough to be carted off the field. The Cincinnati fans now covered themselves in glory by cheering the injury and throwing bottles at Roethlisberger as he was being carted down the runway. Really Cincinnati? That is how you conduct yourself when an opposing player is badly injured? Have some class. The whole stadium and Bengals team seemed to think they were gravely wronged by the Shazier hit and getting payback for it was the only thing that mattered. Not winning the game, not maintaining your dignity, forget sportsmanship.

But they weren't done embarrassing themselves yet. With 1:23 left in the game, after a Jeremy Hill fumble gave the Steelers the ball and a chance to drive into game-sinning field goal range, Burfict decided (decided might be a compliment to Burfict's faculties at the time) to drop the hammer on Antonio Brown's head. I think we've all seen the play by now. Burfict meant to drill Brown in the head with his shoulder. He intended to drill him as hard as he could in the head. It was a disgusting display of brutality. As Brown is lying on the turf, the man formerly known as “Pacman” Adam Jones takes it upon himself to shove Steelers coach Joey Porter and bump a referee. All in the name of respect right Pacman? Getting payback huh?

That payback was costly. The combined penalties on the Bengals brought the Steelers into field goal range and kicker Chris Boswell nailed it for the 18-16 win.

The Bengals and their fans showed us, reminded us, of why they are a losing program and a losing fan base. The players on the field are only as strong and disciplined as they are asked to be by their coach and Marvin Lewis doesn't instill enough discipline in his team so they run wild when put into high stress moments. They haven't been trained to handle adversity and reacted like bratty children (big, dangerous children) when exposed to pressure at its peak; in the playoffs with the click-ticking down, hard hits, fumbles, things just not going your way. The fans reacted similarly. And they are now going home after a one and done again. They deserve no better.



Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:53pm EDT

Joe and Shawn kick off the new year with some Bruins and Winter Classic discussion (6:30). Then they get into Manning, the HGH delivery scandal, and the woeful media coverage (20:00). At (44:00) they get into the AFC playoff match-ups and the impact these might have on the Pats. They close (54:00) with a look at the Pats chances in the playoffs.

Joe's blog post:

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp49.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 1:41pm EDT

     Peyton Manning is having a rough season on the field. His arm resembles a wet noodle, his passes floating to receivers, too often into the opponent's hands. He got removed from a game in which he was playing poorly. His stat line read: 5 for 20, 4 picks. Brock Osweiler replaced him during the second quarter.

At that point in the season, Manning was the worst full-time QB in the league. Digest that for a moment. The great Peyton Manning was the worst QB in the NFL, his stats rivaling those of old friend Ryan Mallet. Mallet can't throw a football into the ocean if he is standing on the beach. Peyton was hurting his team more than helping. If Brock Osweiler is a more attractive QB option, you know you've sunk to previously unseen depths. Denver attempted to cover his rear by blaming an injured foot, plantar fasciitis they said. I didn't buy it, many did not.

If the on-field problems weren't enough, now he has an off-field problem. And it's a doozy. According to an AL-Jazeera report released on December 26th, The Dark Side, during Manning's rehab from multiple neck surgeries, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) was shipped to his residence in Florida addressed to his wife, Ashley Manning. Manning came out the next day and vehemently denied the allegations. Subsequently, Charles Sly, the intern who made the allegations, recanted. Those were the basic facts as we knew them last week.

Now we have more. On Monday this week, Deborah Davies, the Al-Jazeera reporter from the story, revealed she has a confirming secondary source who is, “absolutely impeccably placed, knowledgeable, and credible.” The facts are starting to pile up.

But I'm writing this post because I'm disgusted. Disgusted by the national media converage of this story.

First, let me say that the following opinions are mine alone. My partner in the Boston Sports Pod and all around great guy, Shawn, does not necessarily agree, share them, or disagree. I do not speak for him. Don't let my likely misguided musings reflect poorly on him.  

I don't buy for a millisecond what Peyton is selling. I usually think where there's smoke there's fire, and I smell smoke. Are we supposed to believe his wife was taking the HGH? Seriously? Are we children? Does Peyton think we believe him? I'll bet the less-inquisitive minded folk he is used to hood-winking do. You know those super-fan types in Indy and Denver who still think he's better than Tom Brady.

Not that those types don't exist here in New England. There is definitely a hard-core sect who think Tom Brady walks on water and had nothing to do with some pigskin skull-duggery involving his preferred PSI. I am not one of them. I smell smoke with deflategate too. 

In fact, I have no problem, moral or otherwise, with the actual act of using HGH to

recover from an injury more quickly at age 37. I don't care if Brady had a back room deal with the locker room guys to get his footballs to his favorite PSI level. I think Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. One does what one has to. I would.

But what really runs up my . . . spine, is how unabashedly the national media protects Manning while it fails to give Brady the same benefit of the doubt. Recall that night of last season's AFC Champiobship game. After the Patriot's thrashed the Colts, the nation learned of a situation with the refs taking a ball off the field of play. Some reports of deflated footballs were issued. The Pats being the team under suspicion.

What became known as deflategate blew up from there and continued to burn through the spring and summer. I won't go into that fiasco any further except to say that Tom Brady was treated like crap. Mark Brunnel cried on TV over Brady's alleged discretion. ESPN and the national media ran Brady's name through the mud and never let up. Not an ally was to be found. Despite the faulty weakness of the Well's Report, Brady was branded a cheat. His reputation sullied, his legacy tarnished.

Now that Mr. Manning has a scandal on his hands, why is he not getting similar treatment to what befell Mr. Brady? Why is ESPN so quick to pillory Brady, Bellichick and the Patriots, and so quick to protect Peyton Manning?

On one of their round-table pundit talking spots, the ESPN “analysts,” Chris Berman, Chris Carter, Mike Ditka et. al., jumped to Peyton's defense. They uniformly believed his “vehement” denial, expressed extreme doubts about Charles Sly's credibility, even went as far as Berman uttering in disgust, “what a world . . . “ I say what a clown. I mean who couldn't believe Peyton? After all he was so angry at the allegations that he threw the ball so hard at practice he thinks he broke fingers out there! Oh, well if you put it that way . . .  

What a goober he is. He can't throw anymore! His passes are in slow- motion. He couldn't bruise a hemophiliac.

So why does the national media treat Peyton Manning differently than Tom Brady?

That is the question I came to this sheet of typing paper to ask. I don't have the answer. I'm not sure I want it, it might ruin my faith in Man! But it is so obvious, so duplicitious, I can't turn away from it without saying something. Is there an agenda at ESPN? Did Tom Brady once sleep with an exec's girl? What is it! Why do they treat Tom like a criminal and Peyton like their buddy they need to defend?

Is it as simple as human nature and ESPN is jealous of Brady's success in life? The dude has it all, no question. But by all accounts he's a good guy. He never did anything dirty; never was under any prior suspicion ; never did anything that should forfeit his reception of the benefit of the doubt that they give Peyton.

It boggles my mind and I'm as irate as anybody over this. Some may think it doesn't matter, its only the media right? Wrong! The media has huge role is settting public opinion and creating legacies. Tom Brady didn't deserve the treatment he got and it makes me sick to think his legacy, all the great play he has given us over the years, is now tainted in part because ESPN doesn't like him.

It was one thing to see and deal with the media coverage of deflategate. Its another to have ESPN's double-standard laid bare by this Peyton Manning HGH scandal.





Category:Patriots -- posted at: 10:59am EDT