SAVING PRIVATE WELKER
Lord knows, I do love football. It’s our national pastime for good reason. It’s the best sport going for vicarious viewing. No other game fits so perfectly well on television. We know when the commercials are going to happen with the exceptions of injuries, time outs, scores, and turnovers.
I plan my weekends, plus Monday and Thursday nights, around the NFL. I plan my Saturdays around Alabama football on TV and in December also around NFL Saturday games.
This blogpost is about one of my favorite pro players: Wes Welker, the All Pro New England Patriot slot receiver. Where Wes used to artfully miss teeth rattling tackles, heavy hits, this season Wes is beginning to take a real bad beating. I am declaring that I am officially scared for his well being and health.
Private Welker needs to consider his own safety. Where he once mostly seem to slip vicious tackles, suddenly Wes is getting lit up. He has taken his quota of hard hits according to this humble scribe, and it seems as if Wes can’t slip the big punches like he used to do.
Still, Wes Welker keeps catching footballs, and catching them when we most need him to. I’m glad that he plays for my team. He is our best receiver. Wes Welker routinely leads the NFL in total catches. That also means he leads the league in receivers being tackled. That point is telling in my opinion.
Wes isn’t a big man, he is under-sized and his agility, vision, instincts, and reflexes have always saved him from the worst that tackle football in the National Football League metes out. Sure, Wes’s bell has been rung periodically in prior years, he, like every player gets nicked up during the season.
But, like a boxer who keeps taking a fearful beating, and rises again and again; in the October 14th game against Seattle, I saw Wes get crushed on two occasions. Really lit up. To use the boxing analogy, I wanted Wes to just take a knee.
He actually did come out of the game at one point after being totally smoked. It was one of those hits that probably will result in a league fine to the Seattle player. It was whiplash city. One moment Welker was upright and moving north. In the next moment he was on the ground and his forward momentum had been stopped abruptly.
Welker got to his feet and raised his hand signaling that he needed to come out of the game.
After a few plays, Wes was back catching balls, making plays, and taking a beating from Seattle’s defense.
All football players assume risk, but if you aren’t dodging heavy hits that you once avoided, maybe it’s time to have a talk with yourself. We all remember another gamer for the Patriots who would run through a bank vault door if he was asked to do so by his coaches. Ted Johnson, former Patriot, now suffers from post concussion syndrome and early onset dementia. He played with concussions. At some point he told coaches that he could not play but they apparently pushed him to play hurt. So Ted Johnson has good days and bad days now. His brain shows significant irreversible damage from his years playing, at a high level, on Super Bowl winning NFL teams. That is a high price to pay, don’t you think.
Wes, – that is a cautionary tale which you need to think about. You are a small man, often running in traffic and over the middle of the field. That’s your job and you do it wonderfully well.
If you keep getting leveled on a regular basis, maybe you, or someone, needs to notice that you may have lost a little, and maybe you need to stop playing football. If you cannot do that, Wes, then I say, “come on Coach Belichik, Come on Mr. Kraft, Come on Tom Brady. Consider Wes Welker’s health, - short and long term.” That’s what I say. That is what I think. If I am wrong, and I hope that I am, then keep making the good catches. But there may come a time…
Wes is a little fellow and he is absorbing too much for me to sit back, watching and cheering this stellar football player, without considering what might be coming.
Harry Lipson III, in Boston
I don’t actually know Kevin Garnett. Never met him. When you watch someone on TV for years, you actually do get to “know” the person, in some sense. When you listen to their post game press conferences night after night and when you watch them answer reporter’s questions for years on end, you also get to “know them”. Here’s looking at you, KG.
He is my favorite player. 100% fierce competitor, self motivator, team leader, fall on the grenade type of guy, that is how I see Kevin Garnett. I know he is a pain in the ass for the other teams in the NBA. I know he irks opposing players. But, if he were on your team, you would love him. Nobody tries harder. Few prepare themselves more thoroughly. And that is all we can ask of our pro athletes that we put on a pedestal and cheer for; that they give it their all constantly. That is KG.
I want him in my foxhole when the battle heats up. And I bet he’s funny as hell too.
And now I might have to watch him walk off into the sunset.
KG made no announcement last night after the game 7 loss to the Heat. I heard Ray speak. I heard Paul answer questions, I watched Rondo’s press conference. There was no postmortem from #5.
When he quits the game, he will have his number retired into the rafters of the Boston Garden. Though he was not a Celtic lifer, and only played for us for a handful of years, such was his impact. There is an “I” in Kevin, but this man is all TEAM. Ubuntu.
KG, I hope you return for as long as you can will yourself to play at a competitive level. But hear this, you have done enough. You have our respect. You owe us nothing. Your name will be spoken of, around Boston, when the Celtic greats are remembered.
Thanks for the ride. The Celts could do with a brand new assistant coach when the time comes. You have been the very best. HL
Having grown up where football is king in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the home of the Alabama Crimson Tide, 14-time, and current, NCAA National Football Champions; I must sadly agree with Bob Ryan, perhaps my favorite sportswriter.
I love college and pro football as much as anyone ever has. I know the game, its grand history, and will, like Bob, be an enabler, and look the other way, continuing to watch and love Alabama football as well as my New England Patriots.
Knowing what we now know, I hope that this awareness will lead, and quickly, to improvements in equipment. I will also support rules changes to make the game safer, knowing that it can never be made safe altogether. HL
“FOOTBALL TEST THE LIMITS OF OUR CONSCIENCE”
by Bob Ryan The Boston Globe May 6, 2012
reprinted in HarryShots.com All rights reserved by The Boston Globe
America has spoken. Professional football is our favorite sporting pursuit.
The NFL is King. The NFL is Emperor. The NFL is Untouchable.
What does that say about us as a nation that we have chosen as our favorite sport a game that not only routinely maims and cripples its participants, but also leaves a disproportionate percentage of them with serious cognitive impairment?
We casually accept the notion that football is inherently violent, perhaps even borderline barbaric. It is a given that the careers of even the most gifted running backs are often extremely short, that after as few as three or four years of taking shots from today’s exceptionally athletic defenders, knees, shoulders and ankles are shattered.
The good news in many cases is that while their bodies may be battered, at least these people have suffered no brain damage.
Once upon a time, this might have been a facetious observation, but no longer. Mounting evidence demonstrates that anyone choosing to play football enters into complete caveat emptor territory. You clearly do so at your own physical risk.
An argument can be made that this is not new news, that football has always been risky. True enough, but it has never been as true to the degree it is now.
The stakes are highest in the National Football League, of course, because that’s where the best of the best congregate. And make no mistake, the essential nature of professional football has changed more than the essential nature of baseball, basketball, or hockey. Simply put, football players are bigger, faster, more fit than ever before, and therefore produce more damaging collisions.
How drastic is the change? For years I had it in my head that in 1976, when the Steel Curtain Steelers were in the midst of their great run, there was but one man listed at 300 pounds on an NFL roster. Recently, however, I re-checked the available rosters and learned I was wrong. There were none.
Nowadays, every team has a dozen or more 300-pounders. Most of them shouldn’t be weighing anywhere near that, which is another matter entirely. But what’s even more relevant to this discussion is the fact that there are scores of 250-, 260-, 270-, and 280-pounders who run as fast, and therefore hit waaay harder, than the 210-, 220-, 230-, or 240-pounders occupying those same positions in years past.
I could put together all-star teams in baseball, basketball, and hockey from the 1960s that I know could compete with the best players today. With the exception of the very best running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers, and the occasional defensive back, that is a laughable concept in football. Vince Lombardi’s Packers were Lilliputians compared with any NFL team today.
Football is about seizing territory while hitting and being hit. There is no room for gentleness or finesse in football. Players have been trained for generations to ignore injury, to soldier on, regardless. The sainted Lombardi told us that if you can sit, you can stand, and if you can stand, you can walk, etc. “You can’t make the club from the tub’’ is a well-known pigskin phrase. Football players really are amazingly tough; it’s no myth. But in far too many cases, “tough’’ has been a synonym for “foolhardy.’’
We all grew up with the notion that football players got “dinged.’’ Every player of note has a banquet story about the time either a teammate or himself performed some superhuman feat while barely being able to recall his name. It’s always been good for a laugh. I mean, you know, “That’s football.’’
It’s no longer funny.
We now know that those “dings’’ were minor concussions. We now know that those concussions, minor and major, can have a cumulative effect on a man’s brain. We now know that a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy is disturbingly prevalent in the brains of retired football players.
We have been able to attach the name of a prominent player such as Dave Duerson to the situation, and now we await an autopsy on the much beloved, much admired and, quite obviously, greatly troubled, successfully suicidal Junior Seau to see if he, too, was a victim of CTE.
Understand this: I am a lifelong fan of football. I am well-versed in its history. I revel in the collegiate pageantry. I like my NFL Sundays as much as the next guy. I could be a convincing devil’s advocate to cite the drama inherent in a game-winning drive, or a game-saving goal line stand, as the apex of sport drama. I rate the 2001 Snow Game for the AFC championship as one of the top five sporting events I have ever covered.
But you knew there was going to be a but – the basic mentality of the game has troubled me for a long, long time. For me it’s been like voting for a candidate whose policies I endorse but whose personality repels me, a true hold-your-nose-while-you-pull-the-lever affair. I guess you could call me a football enabler.
I wonder how anyone can coach this game. I can understand the strategic fascination it can have for a man such as Bill Belichick. But to coach the sport, a man must develop a very hard outer shell. Every coach knows when he is sending in someone who shouldn’t be out there. How does a Tony Dungy, who is open about his spirituality, rationalize participation in a sport that maims, cripples, and, yes, kills? I’ve never understood that.
The evidence that football is inherently unsafe is there for all to see. Kurt Warner, a borderline Hall of Famer, now says he doesn’t want his children to play. If Junior Seau, a football player’s football player if ever there was one, is found to be another CTE victim, will that cause even one American sports fan to reject the NFL on a moral basis?
If so, that would be one down and many, many millions to go. How many lives must be ruined before America finds itself another game to love?
Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE SUPER BOWL
POINT 1: IT IS NOT WELKERS FAULT
Take the goat horns off Wes Welker. Team loss. No goats in this game.
Welker said he should have caught it but he is protecting Tom Brady. So Welker throws himself under the bus, except he is not to blame.
Tom’s pass was thrown behind Welker, who was wide open, to Welker’s credit, and the ball simply wasn’t delivered to him effectively. You can be contorted with your body going one way, looking back over your shoulder, get the fingertips of both hands briefly on the ball, but that doesn’t mean you should, or could, catch it. Welker’s momentum was leading him in the opposite direction and the pass was thrown over his other shoulder. Gravity and physics take over at that point. The ball was also thrown just a bit too high. We are used to watching Wes make circus catches and snag balls that he probably ought not catch. After all, Wes Welker led the NFL both in 2011 and 2010 in catches. He is an extraordinary athlete with no give up in him. Could he have somehow caught Brady’s errant pass? Should he have? It would have been an amazing grab, but Wes Welker is not to blame for that play or for the loss of the Super Bowl. Hold your head high, Wes.
POINT 2: THE PATS OFFENSE SCORED ONLY 17 POINTS
The great Patriots offense scored all of 17 points. And the Pats last points were put up only four minutes into the third quarter. So for most of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter, the Patriots scored zipke. Exceptionally poor field position also played a huge part in the overall equation.
POINT 3: THE PATS ONLY HAD THREE RECEIVERS, IN REALITY
Gronk was a complete non factor, in spite of his one 20 yard catch. Ochocinco caught a nice one but was also a non factor. Gronk can say he was 100 percent, but I think he was about 40%. The Giants did not double team him, and focused their attention on the rest of the Patriot receiving corp.
Other than the backs coming out of the backfield, the Pats really only had three receivers: Hernandez, Welker, and Branch. That made life a lot easier for New York.
POINT 4: THE DEFENSE ONLY GAVE UP 21 POINTS IN THE GAME
The defense was only fair, but in the final analysis, they only gave up 21 points, two of which were not their fault (Brady’s safety). Most Pats fans would have gladly given New York 21 points and taken our chances.
POINT 5: BRADY WAS “OFF” FOR MOST OF THE 3RD QUARTER AND ALL OF THE 4TH QUARTER.
At one point in the game, Brady was 20 for 22, having set a Super Bowl record of 16 straight completions. Then, after the Pats scored on the opening drive of the 2nd half, Brady seemed to lose focus or accuracy. He may have been hurt on the sack he took in the 3rd quarter. But no excuses, Brady wasn’t Brady those last 26 minutes of a 60 minute football game.
POINT 6: NEW YORK HAD ZERO TURN OVERS AND FIVE PENALTIES
Hard to beat a team that won’t beat itself.
POINT 7: BRADY NEVER LOOKED DEEP THE WHOLE GAME.
Pats did a lot of underneath routes and, maybe it was for lack of time in the pocket, but the deep threat was no threat at all.
“The final score was infinity to nothing. The Tigers didn’t belong on the same field as the Crimson Tide, and they literalized that cliche by spending almost the entire game outside the 50-yard line. The one time LSU crossed into Alabama territory, they turned tail and promptly and apologetically fumbled the ball back into their own end. Alabama is college football.“ Deadspin
Alabama Fans all over the planet are enjoying the warm glow of connected victory and group happiness. There is no doubt left. None. No argument to be intelligently made. The Alabama Crimson Tide is again the Champions and can gaze down from the mountain upon all that has been accomplished and earned, in one of the greatest beat downs ever.
The Crimson Tide covered itself in gridiron glory and the previously unbeaten, numero uno, that was LSU got their jocks handed to them. LSU was embarrassed. Rammer Jammer never sounded more prophetic as Bama fans duly noted, singing “We just beat the hell out of you” as the game clock struck zero. The actual game ended earlier.
No college football program can match history with Alabama, winning its 14th National Crown, going back to the first one in 1925 after a victory in the Rose Bowl. Alabama has played in more bowl games than anyone. We have won more bowl games than anyone. We had the best Coach in The Bear. We have the best Coach in Nick Saban. Excuse me, Coach Miles, could you hold this jockstrap?
There are victories and there are Victories. There is winning and there is Winning. The Crimson Tide scored six different times and LSU had only five first downs. LSU ran 44 offensive plays in the game. 11 of those plays were for negative yardage. LSU‘s total offense in the game was 92 yards, including passing and running. LSU punted 9 times in the game. They never came close to scoring.
So history is made. The game is over. Bama fans will savor this for a long time. Granted, the current BCS system may be flawed and needs to be changed. The number one team was LSU. Alabama was supposed to be the undeserving opponent. Next time Oklahoma State thinks they should have been there playing LSU, I remind them that they should beat lowly, also-ran Iowa State, before they make any kind of claim. The two best and most deserving teams played in the national championship BCS game. If one team did not deserve to be there, it wasn’t Alabama.
Alabama fans should not go ragging on poor LSU. It would be unbecoming of us. Let us, instead, offer them our hand, help them off the field of battle without gloating. We could gloat, but we shouldn’t. We should gently pat LSU players and fans on their back so as not to hurt them, smile sympathetically and say, “football is a very hard game to play, apparently.”
Feeling very, very good, HL
ps- DATELINE TUSCALOOSA. LSU played Alabama in basketball Wednesday night, two days removed from Bama’s BCS triumph. After the opening tip off, with LSU in possession of the basketball, they dribbled across half court into Alabama territory and a spontaneous mock “cheer” erupted from the Bama student section.
George Kimball died in 2011. Without question, George was America’s premier boxing writer. He also covered golf’s majors, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, and to a lesser degree the Celtics and the Red Sox, all for the Boston Herald, where he was both a writer and later, a widely read columnist. And he was also a columnist for the Irish Times. He had ten times more friends than anybody you or I know, or ever will. Trust me on that.
You, my old friend, were among those who were not able to see this new year rung in. Your passing is noted and notable. Maybe there will be a posthumous Pulitzer, it would not surprise me. Your life is all down there in black and white; the stories, columns, articles, and yes, the books. You left yourself a legacy. One hell of a legacy, pal. I will remember you with good thoughts. What I think of is the traveling, off and on, over the years that we did, mostly golfing, with a Super Bowl trip, and pubs, clubs, and concerts thrown in here and there, but mostly I recall the golf.
Remember that time we played Pinehurst #2 in the snow that early February afternoon? We had the whole course to ourselves, literally. Play away sir, the course is yours. Those caddies probably were planning on sitting near the heater in the caddy room when they woke up that morning to flurries. It was an easy day at the office until we rolled in. Walked all eighteen in light snow flurries, we did. We weren’t really dressed for it either. The cold I can’t remember anymore. The round I’ll never forget. And you had them comp us in the pro shop. Hey, It’s free, we’re here, it’s The Deuce, so let’s play golf. For the record, we were excellent tippers.
Only after you died did I read about your wilder days. Stories about your civil disobedience, and your having been on the ballot for Sheriff in Kansas, and the hanging out with Hunter S. Stories about the Eliot Lounge were fun to hear. You did have your share of adventures. I think you had at least one whole bucket list checked off.
And you were an honest-to a-fault golfer, optimistic enough to play every shot like the Open Championship was at stake. Forgive me for saying that you weren’t exactly playing at scratch. I think you probably knew that, yet your errant golf shots seemed to always shock you. And your golf stance was excellent; legs splayed like one was in Boston and the other in Worcester. You had that repeatable lash swing. That you only had one working eye may have been a contributing factor.
You should be forever thanking me for saving you from killing Marlene Floyd’s (sister of Ray Floyd, and a former LPGA player) little peek-a-poo, or whatever the hell it was, that time down in North Carolina. There you were on the tee, stance taken, starting your downswing just as a small white dog ran from behind, straight toward your teed up golf ball. I saw it, you could not have. That the dog didn’t perish on the spot was miraculous. I can see Marlene running, in slow motion, trying to save her dog, realizing that she was not gonna make it. My observational skills, such as they were, must have kicked in instinctively; I lunged toward you, at great peril to my person, and I must have yelped as you were in the second half of your always quick downswing, with the aforementioned dog two nanoseconds from coinciding with your ball at the moment of impact. Then it was over. Marlene in tears, thanking YOU when she should have been thanking me. Correct me if I am wrong, but it was you George, wasn’t it, who taught Tiger to stop his downswing on a dime? You’re welcome old friend. You’re welcome Marlene Floyd. You too Tiger.
We were both IIIs and we had a good laugh about it, and about our missing trust funds. After you passed, I read the obits and testimonials. Praising, amazing, and hair-raising. If I had known you in your early days, we wouldn’t have connected most likely. I couldn’t have kept up, from what it sounds like. So it’s good that we met only after we had both lost two or three miles per whatever off our fastballs.
I don’t want to fail to mention your rather notable lack of patience. Lord knows, you didn’t suffer fools. On The Scale of Life’s Patience Meter, there would be the Dalai Lama on one end and George Kimball on the other. In the same breath, I want to say that you did not have a mean bone in your body. You were hard on yourself, you won the lion’s share of your arguments, and you rarely stopped to relax. I don’t expect any rebuttal from you.
In the days just after you died, Bob Ryan wrote a really nice appreciation column about you, ditto Michael Gee and Kevin Cullen. Charlie Pierce’s hilarious trip down memory lane was a worthy homage. He knew you when. Unprepossessing as you always looked, your world included pretty much everyone in sports, politics, literature, music, and the field of good company.
Everyone remembers you in superlatives. They miss you in Boston. They miss you in New York City. Ireland will be missing you dearly. No one had more friends in more places than you did George. You were among the most interesting people I’ve known, a sentiment shared by others in their eulogies and remembrances. So, fairways and greens, pal, and take a lesson. I’m raisin’ a cup to you tonight, Champ. And it’s a Guinness.
My heart goes to Darcy and Teddy, Marge, and to Sarah as well, to George’s mom, Susan, whom I met a time or two, and who gave George his brains, his sense of justice, and the literature of Tennessee Williams. To his sister, Jennifer, down in Nashville, George was proud of you and your music.
Harry Lipson III, HarryShots.com
Today is the Alabama – Auburn football game. It is America’s premier college football rivalry. Many colleges and universities have arch-rivals and annual grudge games. Many may rival it, but none achieves the level of Bama vs Auburn. I believe that as a fact. If you don’t care who wins, I would appreciate your putting in good wishes for the Crimson Tide. Thanks.
P.S. - Alabama 42 Auburn 14 final score
Please note that HarryShots was correct about Theo leaving for the Chicago. The following post was written two weeks prior to Theo leaving the Red Sox for the Cubs.
It has been 24 hours since Tito Francona was shown the door and based on what I saw last night at the press conference with Theo, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner, I think the body language and all of the awkwardness said all we need to know. Theo is running for the door. The whole press conference was about as disingenuous as anything heard in Boston sports in a long long time. I think that Theo felt embarrased having to go through the charade, just to please John Henry, Lucchino, and Werner.
Tito was fired plain and simple. Theo has never been on anything more than speaking terms with Lucchino. I think their frosty relationship has never warmed up. I get the feeling that Larry is jealous of Theo and dislikes him intensely. John Henry and Werner probably have been peace makers for a while. Epstein may be a bit smug but he is not a fool. I have little doubt that Theo wants off the ship and I expect that to happen before the end of October.
Wouldn’t surprise me one iota if Theo and Tito reunite in Chicago in the near future. Maybe he’s off for sunny California, either National League or American League, he should have a choice. I think it very well could happen. At any rate, I think that Theo has his bags packed and is about to check out. We will soon find out. HL
It ain’t over until it’s over.” Yogi said it, and surprise,…he finally knew what he was talking about. Tampa Bay was down 7-0 in the 8th. Game over. Hundreds of miles north of Tampa, Boston was about to win. The Red Sox were one easy out away from winning the crucial last regular season game. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Boston was playing the last place Orioles, who had nothing to play for, no consequence for winning or for losing. Their season was about to end. The bases were empty. Boston was up 3-2 and Jon Papelbon, Boston’s closer, was on the mound. He had just struck out the first two batters and needed the final out to send Boston to the playoffs. There was no way that Tampa could come back from its 7-0 deficit.
All of that was North Star True until something started to happen simultaneously in both Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Watching TV, switching channels, you could see things tilt and shift. Then it DID happen. Nearly impossible, but I saw it with my own eyes. Three straight hits by Baltimore tied, and then won the game. Then Tampa scored six in the 8th inning and in the 9th they were down to their last out, trailing New York 7-6. Tampa Bay was down to their last strike and then they homered to tie the game at seven. They went to extra innings. You know by now that the impossible happened and Tampa Bay won the game and the American League wild card spot in the MLB playoffs. Boston limped home. We were one out away. One strike away. Tampa was toast. They were one out away. One strike away. It was over. Until it wasn’t.
So, Yogi, you are right. “It ain’t over til it’s over”. You’re a regular freakin’ fortune teller.
I am in a state of disbelief after last night’s train wreck between four teams, in the final innings of two American League games. It was as if a higher power chose Tampa Bay over Boston. Certain things happened in a sequence that requires further scientific investigation. I’m sure PBS will do a NOVA special and “That Hour” has already gone down in can-you-believe-it sports lore. Less than 24 hours ago, my Red Sox bought the Big Lollipop. It’s ours now, that all day sucker, until some time, hopefully, next October
I was a Red Sox fan long before I moved to Boston over thirty years ago. When I lived in Alabama, in the 1960s, Fenway was the name my beagle answered to. I once drove 1400 miles (each way) just to watch a pitching matchup that I hoped would happen, at Fenway Park, between Sonny Siebert for the Sox, and Oakland’s Vida Blue. They were a combined 21-1 or something like that. The matchup did take place and I arrived at Fenway, having driven straight from Tuscaloosa, Alabama just as the bottom of the first inning was starting. Vida Blue was kneeling behind the pitching mound, tying his white shoes as we found our grandstand seats, way out in left field. My traveling companion was Jimmy Bank. Back then we were college students, but I was already on the Boston bandwagon forty years ago.
I still get high reminiscing about our World Series wins in 2004 and 2007. That glow of communal joy for millions of Bostonians who shared a collective feelgood security blanket protected us from “baseball evil” until sometime late in the summer of 2011, when the team we loved (perhaps too much), had several ball players who appeared to care less than their fans did. In Boston, probably elsewhere, this is unforgivable.
I only know Red Sox players by their effort on a baseball field, their interviews, that sort of thing. All that having been said, I will call some out, starting with Carl Crawful, John Lacking, J.D. (Just Don’t) Drew, Toast Matsuzaka, each of whom should be pallbearers at the funeral of Boston Red Sox 2011.
It is baffling to me that on a team with dirt dogs who die-while-trying, and fall-on-the-grenade players like Dusty Pedroia, Jacoby (I want to call him Jack or Coby) Ellsbury, Marco “Scoots” Scutaro, late arriving Mike Aviles, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, “Alberto the Great” Aceves, and Kevin G.G. Youkilis, something imploded in the last four weeks of the season.
You can bet that further digging by the persistent and talented Boston sportswriters will unearth rifts and problems in the clubhouse or between players. Too much partying or too much finger pointing? Not enough pre-game preparation or too much bitching about flights, travel schedules, and batting orders. Issues with health are part and parcel of the ’11 Sox. Strength and conditioning; call it a reason and assign it some blame. Injuries took a toll but that is not an excuse. Losing shut-down lefty, Rich Hill, hurt and we never found the lefty beater in the pen.
Before you say it is all just a game, go ahead and live through a few New England winters with the dream of Spring Training and baseball out there on the distant horizon, before you offer comment. Maybe it was 25 cabs for 25 players like back in the old days before the Curse was lifted and we found out how good being on top of the world can feel.
Maybe we just lost the mojo. Whatever, I say bring back Kevin Millar, make him the bench coach or team psychologist and you go a long way to getting things back on track. We also have some players who are ready to retire before they hurt the 2012 team. Honor them. Just don’t let them pitch next year.
We could use some brushing up on baserunning and bunting. We could use a little work on hitting the cut off man. But this is not the end of the world here. This team, with all the baggage we have not yet uncovered, still won 90 games in the toughest division in baseball. We just want max effort from our ball players. We can except losing. We can’t deal with our team having players who may not care enough to put forth their maximum effort.
One more thing. Cut out the spitting, or tell NESN to stop showing player close-ups in the dugout. It is not a pretty sight. Maybe a two second tape delay. Really.
For Christmas I hope that we get a fight-you-to-the-last-breath Red Sox team in 2012. We love our Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins and we have had a preeminent ten year run in these parts. I have it on higher authority that the 21st Century has our name on it. How else do your explain three Super Bowl Championships, Two World Series Titles, Banner #17 at the Garden, and the Bruins as reigning Champions in hockey in just the last decade.
I always thought old Yogi was about ten shingles shy of a waterproof roof. Sorry Yog, my apology. HL
Click These Songs to Go to the Post
- “Here Comes The Sun” by Yellow Dubmarine
- “Homemade Boat” by Dry Land Fish
- “Feelin Alright (LIVE)” by The Black Crowes
- Sid Selvidge 1943-2013. An Appreciation
- “Graceland” (LIVE version) by Paul Simon
- “Dirty Water” (Boston, You’re My Home) by The Standells (1966)
- “Golden Slumbers” (The Beatles) by UAKTI
- “Here Comes The Sun” by UAKTI
- Annette Funicello – The Mickey Mouse Club – A Thank You
- “Four and Twenty” – Chris Hillman
- “Wenyukela” – by Ladysmith Black Mambazo
- “Calico Train (instrumental)” by Steve Martin
- “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills
- “I Like It Like That” by Chris Kenner
- “Xiger Xiger” by Hanggai
- “Hill Country Girl” by Will Kimbrough
- “I’m Going Home” by the late, great Alvin Lee
- “This Morning I Am Born Again” – by Lucy Kaplansky
- “Hope of A Lifetime” by The Milk Carton Kids
- “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker
- “Carolina Traveler” by John McEuen and Earl Scruggs
- “Tumblin” by Arlen Roth with Sonny Landreth
- “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
- “Far From Me” by Justin Townes Earle
- “Lost John Dean” by Kane, Welch, and Kaplan
- “Ripple” (live) by Jimmy Ibbotson
- “Daniel and The Sacred Harp” (alternate take) by The Band
- “Texas Style Zydeco” by Shelley King
- “Detroit Steel” by Otis Gibbs
- “Glory, Hallelujah” by The Deep Dark Woods
- “City of Immigrants” by Steve Earle
- “Yea Alabama” by The Alabama Million Dollar Band
- “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- “Mama’s Little Baby” by Delbert McClinton
- “Auld Lang Syne” by Dougie Maclean
- “Nothing But The Wheel” by Peter Wolf
- “The Happy Organ” by Dave “Baby” Cortez
- “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life” by Maurice Larcange
- “Ave Maria” by Josh Groban
- “Away In A Manger” by Patty Loveless
- “We Three Kings (of Orient Are)” by Jimmy Smith
- “Ding! Dong! Merrily On High” by The Kings College Choir
- “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- “Veni Emmanuel” by Stile Antico
- “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
- “Midnight Clear” by The Trans Siberian Orchestra
- “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the Ambrosian Singers and Leonard Raver, organist
- “Come On In My Kitchen” by Peter Green and Nigel Watson
- “Do Wah Diddy” by Manfred Mann
- “Mexican Home” by John Prine with Josh Ritter
- “Three Chords” by Dan Reeder
- “Am I Wrong?” by Al Kooper
- “White Cliffs of Dover” by Vera Lynn
- “Shenandoah Breakdown” by Jerry Douglas
- “This Flower” by Kasey Chambers
- “Over The River and Through The Woods”
- “Bama Bound” by Danny Brooks
- “If I Go, I’m Goin’ ” by Gregory Alan Isakov
- “The Path to Your Door” by Walt Wilkins
- “Drive” (For Daddy Gene) by Alan Jackson
- “Nancy Whiskey” by Gaelic Storm
- “Green Green” by The New Christy Minstrels
- “Move Up” by Patty Griffin & Friends
- “Through To Sunrise” by Girlyman
- GO VOTE FOR SOMEONE. YOUR CHOICE. TODAY. NOW.
- “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” by Jesse Winchester
- “Yea Alabama” by The University of Alabama Million Dollar Band
- “My Tennessee Mountain Home” by Dolly Parton
- “Amarillo Highway” by Terry Allen
- “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave
- “Give Me Time” by Dawes
- “Y’all Come Back Saloon” by The Oak Ridge Boys
- “Aberdeen” by Bukka White
- “Catfish John” by Joe Higgs with Toots and the Maytals
- “Blackwaterslide” by Bert Jansch
- “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Misty River
- “Jingle, Jangle, Jingle” by The Merry Macs
- “No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature” by The Guess Who
- “Angeline” by Blue Moon Rising
- “Last Letter Home” by Russell Smith and The Amazin’ Rhythm Aces
- “Fireball Mail” (1942) by Roy Acuff
- Blessissippi: a 14 minute MUST SEE film from “EXPLORE.ORG about The Blues and Missisissippi, and The South
- “New Railroad” by Crooked Still
- “Where The Blues Began” by Artie Traum
- “Orphan” by Sam Baker
- “Midnight On The Water” by Caroline Herring
- “Looking for The Heart of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits
- 3 Songs by JOHN STARLING: “Long Time Gone” – “Dark Hollow” – & “Jordan”
- “Sweet Soul Music” by Arthur Conley
- “Saints and Sinners” by David Francey
- “Souvenirs” (LIVE) by John Prine and Steve Goodman
- “Oh, Amarillo” by Emmylou Harris
- “Choctaw Bingo” by Ray Wylie Hubbard
- “Crossroads” by The Allman Joys (early version of Allman Brothers Band)
- “Outfit” by Drive By Truckers
- “Abraham, Martin, & John” by Andy Williams – R.I.P.
- “Twilight Time” by The Three Suns
- “Roll Um Easy” by Lowell George and Little Feat
- “Hard Being Right” by A.J. Roach
- “Church Street Blues” by Norman Blake
- “I’m Dreaming of A White President” by Randy Newman
- “Music You Mighta Made” by Gurf Morlix
- “Queen of the Silver Dollar” by Emmylou Harris
- “Wash And Fold” by Will Kimbrough with Tommy Womack (Daddy)
- “The Carnival Song” by Jeff Black
- “Green Eyed Girl” by Greg Trooper
- “Coming Home” by Delaney and Bonnie and Friends
- “CALLING TRAINS”
- “Jubilation T. Cornpone” from the Broadway musical L’il Abner
- “Annachie Gordon” by The Unthanks
- “Lodi” by Jeffrey Foucault
- “Wichita Falls” (live) by Houston Marchman
- “Wilson Pickett” by Tim Krekel Orchestra
- “Sweet Tequila Blues” by Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez
- “Come Go With Me” by The Del Vikings
- “A Prayer For My Friends” by Terri Hendrix
- “Coahoma” by Corey Harris
- “Ford Econoline” by Nanci Griffith
- “A Lover’s Question” by Clyde McPhatter
- “Mohawk River” by Ramsay Midwood
- “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills, & Nash
- “Rising of The Moon” – Riverdance
- “That’ll Be The Day” by Buddy Holly and The Crickets, with Wolfman Jack
- “Mean Old World” by Duane Allman and Eric Clapton
- “Handsome Molly” by Newfound Road
- “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers
- “Glory Bound” by The Wailin’ Jennys
- “Saved” by Bob Dylan
- “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” by Little Feat
- “Ya Got Trouble” by Robert Preston in The Music Man
- “Uncle John’s Band” by The Grateful Dead
- “Alabama Pines” by Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
- “Love Potion No. 9″ by The Clovers
- “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles
- “Farther Along” by The Grascals
- “Honky Tonk Women” by Humble Pie
- “A Night In Summer Long Ago” by Mark Knopfler
- The Ballad of Davy Crockett by Walt Disney Studios (The Wellingtons)
- “The Panama Limited” by Booker T. Washington White (Bukka)
- “How The West Was Won” by Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops
- “Faithless Love” by J.D. Souther
- “Long Time Gone” by Dickey Betts
- “Golfing Blues” by Loudon Wainwright III
- “People Got To Be Free” by The Rascals
- “Big Old Jet Airliner” by The Steve Miller Band
- “Mountain Greenery” by The Art Van Damme Quartet
- “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” by Delaney and Bonnie and Friends
- “Hard Times” by Jacob Sweet
- “Country Roads” by Toots (Hibbert) & The Maytals
- “Magnificent Seven” by Elmer Bernstein
- “Going Back to Georgia” by Nanci Griffith with Adam Duritz
- “Que Sera Sera” by Maurice Larcange
- “Rovin’ Gambler” by Dierks Bentley and The Punch Brothers
- “If Heaven” by Gretchen Peters
- “All The Gold in California” by Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers…plus a personal rant about commercial country radio airplay
- “Dream Lover” by Bobby Darin
- “That’s The Way That The World Goes Round” (live) by John Prine
- The Andy Griffith Show Theme. R.I.P. Andy Griffith 1926-2012
- “Rock Me On The Water” by Jackson Browne
- “Up On Cripple Creek” by Gomez
- “Thirty Days In The Hole” by Humble Pie
- “Ripple” by Chris Hillman
- “Never Going Back Again” by The Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ)
- “Run To The Middle of the Morning” by Kendal Carson
- “Where The Soul Never Dies” by Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad
- “I Got The Sun In The Morning” by Harry “Bing” Crosby
- “Get Me Gone” by Walt Wilkins
- “John Peel” by Paul Burch
- “Vaseline Machine Gun” by Leo Kottke
- “Home to Houston” by Steve Earle
- “Tennessee Blues” by Steve Earle IT’S STEVE EARLE WEEK AT HS
- “Jerusalem” by Steve Earle
- “Texas Eagle” by Steve Earle
- STEVE EARLE WEEK at HarryShots we start with “Ft. Worth Blues” by Steve Earle
- “High On A Mountain Top” by Loretta Lynn
- “Mean Old World” by Duane Allman and Eric Clapton
- “Statistician’s Blues” by Todd Snider
- “Graceland” by Dan Bern
- “Come On Down to My Boat, Baby” by Every Mother’s Son
- “I’ll Be Seeing You” by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
- “The Ballad of Oregon” by River City Extension
- “Rule Britannia” by H.M. Royal Marine Band (hear, hear)
- “Candle In The Wind” by Elton John
- “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers (live)
- Arthel “Doc” Watson 1923-2012
- “Dueling Banjos” by The Dillards
- “This Land Is Your Land” by Little Feat
- “Rusty Old American Dream” by David Wilcox
- “The Car Song” by Woody Guthrie
- “When You and I Were Young, Maggie” by Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas
- “Hammer and Nails” by Cindy Bullens
- “Toes” by The Zac Brown Band
- “Tico Tico” by Ethel Smith
- “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” by The Springfields
- “Stopping By” by Jason Isbell
- “Smokestack Lightnin” by Frankie Lee
- “Turn Your Radio On” by The Carter Family with Bonnie Owens
- “Queen of The Silver Dollar” by Sarah Jarosz and Black Prairie
- “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Paul Simon
- “Goin Down The Road” by The Allman Brothers
- Meet In The Middle by Diamond Rio
- In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
- Domino by Van Morrison
- “The Guitar” by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- “True Love Ways” by My Morning Jacket
- “Round and Round” by Perry Como
- “Ye re Ddjate” by Idrissa Soumaoro
- “How Lucky” by Boundary Road
- “Cholene” by Kate Taylor
- “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann
- “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane” by Norman Blake
- “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” by We Are Augustines
- “Waitin’ For The Bus” / “Jesus Just Left Chicago” – Daughtry
- Aberdeen by Booker Bukka White
- Tossin’ and Turnin’ by Bobby Lewis (1961)
- Uncle John’s Band by Joe Higgs, The Godfather of Reggae
- “Heather Down the Moor” by June Tabor and Martin Simpson
- “Rocky Top” by The Flying Burrito Brothers
- “Ring Them Bells” by Sarah Jarosz
- “One Day I Will” by Nathan Salsburg
- “Didn’t It Rain” (outtake) by Levon Helm and The Band
- “Tennessee Blues” by Steve Earle
- “Move Up” by Patty Griffin and Friends
- “But It’s Allright” by J.J. Jackson
- “Preachin’ Blues” by Son House
- “Seven Bridges Road” by Steve Young
- “Gotta Serve Somebody” by Eric Burdon
- “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Miley Cyrus
- “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams
- “Jack and Lucy” by Delia Bell and Bill Grant
- “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King of Rock and Roll” by Long John Baldry
- “Louisiana Rain” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
- “Drug Store Truck Driving Man” by The Byrds
- “Sugar Magnolia” by The Grateful Dead
- “Ain’t Got No Home” by Clarence “Frogman” Henry
- “Delaware Slide” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
- “Snowin’ On Raton” by Gretchen Peters and Tom Russell
- “The Old Lamplighter” by The Kay Kyser Orchestra, with Mike Douglas
- In Memoriam: Earl Scruggs 1924-2012
- “Gettin’ By” by Jerry Jeff Walker
- “Rose of Cimarron” by Del Castillo with John Bohlinger and Megan Mullins
- “Burn Down the Trailer Park” by Paul Thorn
- “Big Green Car” by Jimmy Carroll
- “Wild Mountain Thyme” by Greg Joy
- “Return of The Grievous Angel” by Laughing Gravy
- “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
- “Lone Star Blues” by Delbert McClinton
- “Iron Mike’s Main Man’s Last Request” by Todd Snider
- “Roll Um Easy” by J.D. Souther
- “The Parting Glass” by Cara Dillon
- “How Are Things in Glocca Morra” by Buddy Clark
- “Rad Gumbo” by Little Feat
- “Sixteenth Avenue” by Lacy J. Dalton
- “I Killed Walter Matthau” by Steve Poltz
- “Sing, Sing, Sing” (With A Swing) by Benny Goodman
- “I’m A Believer” by The Monkees
- “Guitar Town” by Steve Earle
- “Guitar Town” by Emmylou Harris
- “Colfax” by Kevin Gordon
- “Harlan County Line” by Dave Alvin
- “Little Martha” by Leo Kottke
- “Whipping Post” by Mountain Heart
- “One Hundred Million Years” by M. Ward
- “Steve Earle” by Lydia Loveless
- “I Gotta Go” by Robert Earl Keen
- “Galveston” by Jimmy Webb with Lucinda Williams
- “Long Line of Losers” by Kevin Fowler
- “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long” by The Notorious Cherry Bombs [Vince Gill on lead vocals]
- “I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle” by Pure Prairie League
- “Beer Season” by Thom Shepherd
- “Beer, Bait, and Ammo” by Kevin Fowler
- “The Wedding Song” by Charlie Robison and Natalie Maines
- “Pony Boy” by The Allman Brothers
- “I’ll Never Find Another You” by The Seekers
- “Long Time Gone” by The Dixie Chicks
- “My Old Man” by Rosanna Goodman
- “Hey” by Karen Peck and New River
- “Catfish John” (studio outtake) by The Grateful Dead
- “Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic” by Jaime Brockett
- “Late In The Evening” by Paul Simon
- “It’s Late” by Ricky Nelson
- “Sheraton Gibson” by Pete Townshend
- “Bella Notte” from Lady and The Tramp (Disney)
- “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers
- “Passing By” by Cary Hudson
- “Tennessee Waltz” by Hem
- “American Hearts” by A.A. Bondy
- “Hey Conductor” by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer
- “Tuscaloosa Suntan” by Lipbone Redding
- “Show Me The Road” by Harvey Reid
- “Wide River to Cross” by Buddy Miller
- “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn
- “Gentle Annie” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle (Transatlantic Sessions)
- “(Talk to Me of) Mendocino” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle
- “Come A Long Way” (remastered) by Kate and Anna McGarrigle
- “The Swimming Song” by Loudon Wainwright III
- “Swimming Song” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle
- “My Little Girl” by Pierce Pettis
- “Tour of Duty” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
- “Your Long Journey” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
- Alabama Alma Mater by The University of Alabama Million Dollar Band
- “The Old Plank Road” by Robin and Linda Williams
- “I Remember You” by Frank Ifield
- “Courtin’ In The Kitchen” by Gaelic Storm
- “I Am The Light of This World” by Jorma Kaukonen
- “Unwed Fathers” by Ben Kyle and Carrie Rodriguez
- “Pied Piper” by Crispian St. Peters
- “Small Town Saturday Night” by Hal Ketchum
- “Sing Sing With A Swing” by Benny Goodman
- “Pachelbel Canon” by The Canadian Brass
- “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- “Suo Gan” by John Williams, from the movie soundtrack of Empire of the Sun
- Christmas Medley by Placido Domingo
- “Last Month of the Year” by the Tarbox Ramblers
- “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by John Starling
- “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting by An Open Fire) by Mel Torme
- “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Faith, Family, and Friends
- “The Holly and The Ivy” by The New York Choral Artists
- “Silver Bells” by Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely
- “Sleigh Ride” by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops
- “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” by Jerry Douglas
- “Go Tell It On the Mountain” by Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops
- “Love’s Old Sweet Song” by Thurl Ravencroft and The Mellomen
- “Stand By Me” by The Groovegrass Boyz
- “Too Sick to Pray” by Phosphorescent
- “Suo Gan” by Marge Butler
- “Statistician’s Blues” by Todd Snider
- “The Parting Glass” by The Wailin’ Jennys
- “Steam Powered Aereo Plane” by New Grass Revival
- “Macire” by Boubacar Traore
- “Crossroads” by Leslie West
- “Blooming Heather” by Kate Rusby
- “Long Black Veil” by Harry Manx
- “Sowin’ On the Mountain” by Marley’s Ghost
- “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by Guy Clark
- “Up Memphis Blues” by Tommy Womack
- “Sail Away Odyssey” by Erik Darling
- “Walking In Jerusalem” by Jason Eady
- “Con Te Partiro” by Andrea Bocelli
- “Coal War” by Joshua James
- “Choctaw Bingo” by James McMurtry
- “Juarez” by Brad Colerick
- “Calling Trains” by unknown train announcer