Wrapping Up A Great Stanley Cup Final (And Some Reflection on The Overall Boston Sports Landscape)

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The immediate aftermath of the Bruins’ game 6 giveaway to the Blackhawks was so strange. I had no urges to set all my Boston sports gear on fire. There were no chairs or couches kicked across the living room. And I barely even thought about lining up four shot glasses to try to erase the painful memories.

Of course I thought about the missed opportunity. And I was definitely kicking myself for daydreaming earlier on Monday about eight Boston Championships over 11 years. But there was a weird sense of being able to immediately step back and appreciate an incredible Stanley Cup Final, and an even more impressive Boston Bruins season.

This might be an unpopular thought in Boston, but it sort of feels like a gut-wrenching loss in the Championship round is a right of passage for this current installment of Boston athletes and their fans. We’ve had three Patriots Super Bowl victories, but also those two unthinkable losses to the New York Giants. We got Celtics banner #17 when the new Big Three was assembled, but no one’s forgotten how close they were to #18 when they fell to the Lakers in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. And while the Red Sox haven’t lost in the World Series during this extended run of Boston sports success, their game 7 losses in the 2003 and 2008 ALCS belong in the same miserable category.

So now it’s the Bruins turn.

Are you one of those people who can filter out the missed chances when thinking back on this ridiculous run that started in February 2002? Or are you going to remember David Tyree and Mario Manningham’s catches, Ron Artest’s three-pointer, and Aaron Boone’s home run more than anything? (You’re right, no one will ever forget Boone’s home run. That moment is not erasable. And no, I would never link to that clip in a blog post)

Maybe part of the reason this Bruins loss will bring a shorter grieving period is because it was never about anything more than this particular Stanley Cup Championship. It wasn’t about anyone’s legacy or needing another banner to win an argument over another city’s fan base. Every time the Patriots’ season ends short of a Super Bowl Title now, we can’t help but think of Brady and Belichick needing just one more to solidify their places atop the all-time quarterback and coaching ranks, respectively. And another Larry O’Brien trophy for the Celtics is always needed to stay ahead of the Lakers.

LeBron James got all of two days to enjoy his latest NBA Championship before people were talking about how he needs a few more if there’s ever going to be a real comparison to Michael Jordan.

In hockey they don’t talk like that. Think about everything you’ve read and heard about the Bruins and Blackhawks over the past 10 days. It was all about the hockey. There were no sideshows. No talking about how badly one star needs to get the monkey off his back. There was no Spygate, no PEDs talk, no flopping or referee conspiracies, and no former or current murder suspects on either team. Every bit of analysis concerned matchups on the ice or strategic line-shuffling by the coaches.

Am I the only one who finds that refreshing?

Even if I kind of do hope that a report surfaces this summer saying the entire Chicago team was more doped up than Lance Armstrong before a leisurely ride through the Alps.

A few more notes before I put an amazing hockey season in the rearview mirror:

  • It took me about two hours last night to go from stewing over the disappointment to throwing myself into fantasy football analysis. Just like an athlete turning the page to focus on the next game, we can’t harp on this too long or else we’ll be missing out on the next sports priority.
  • We’re spoiled as Boston fans. We get to turn our attention to a surprising 1st place baseball team and a perennially contending football team (Aaron Hernandez drama notwithstanding).
  • Since you may not have taken a step back recently to do the math on this 11 year run, I did it for you. Boston teams have won seven Championships in that time (3 Patriots, 2 Red Sox, 1 Celtics, 1 Bruins). Those teams have also combined for four Championship round losses and six more Conference Finals round losses. That means 17 times in just over a decade our teams have been on the doorstep of winning it all (or a step away from the doorstep).
  • The odds are against that kind of success happening again. I hope you were paying attention.
  • Looking on the bright side of this Bruins letdown…we can all start acting like normally-functioning humans again. We can wash our lucky shirts (they were becoming as firm as cardboard due to all the dried up beer, pizza sauce and tears on them). We can shave our playoff beards (and some of us can even knock down our playoff afros). And we can cut our lucky playoff lawn (heard a rumor that fans in Chicago and Boston were letting the grass in their yards grow for good luck….so random)
  • People will naturally point to games 4 and 6 as missed opportunities, but don’t sleep on game 1. Remember, the Bruins took a 3-1 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the 3rd period. A win in game 1 means the Bruins would have taken a 3-0 series lead eventually if things played out the same otherwise.
  • Of course if things had really played out the same after that, we’d be talking about how the Bruins have to win game 7 on Wednesday to avoid the crazy choke job of blowing a 3-0 series lead.
  • This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt the need to congratulate the opponent and their fans after a Boston loss.

Just a great series that hopefully we’ll look back on fondly even though our team came out on the wrong end.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a new Patriots hat so I have something to set on fire when Tom Brady falls short of Super Bowl #4 in about seven months.

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Wake Up Boston: The Bruins Are The New Patriots & There’s Still Time to Jump on the Bandwagon

Being a diehard sports fan isn’t a skill or a talent. It’s an investment. For the most part it’s simply an investment of your time, but every now and then you’ve gotta dip into the wallet and make a financial investment to properly keep up with your team.

I live in LA, but I bleed Boston sports. Unfortunately for me, following my teams isn’t as easy as tuning the TV to NESN. We have to pay a ransom to watch Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics games out here. When I bought the Major League Baseball package last April, it was easily one of the worst investments in my life. That’s the risk I run every year when I ponder the benefit of sinking my money into one of the sports packages. The Red Sox were such a disaster last year that I was basically done watching them by August 1st. And you know what? I haven’t decided yet if I’m buying the MLB package for the 2013 season. It’s sad that Red Sox fans are even considering not forking over the money this year, but that’s how pessimistic we are about a franchise that’s been more drama than baseball over the past 18 months.

Buying the NHL package like I did four weeks ago is on the opposite end of the spectrum. There is little downside in investing in the Boston Bruins right now. I’d go so far as saying at this current moment in Boston sports, the Bruins are as sure of a bet as the Patriots.

Here’s my disclaimer before you continue reading: Any legitimate diehard Bruins fan can probably stop reading this article. I don’t think I’m going to tell you something you don’t already know. This is really for the fair weather fans who haven’t decided whether to jump all-in on the Bruins bandwagon. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to hockey and basketball I am a bit of a bandwagonner. There’s only so much time in the day, and football and baseball have ruled my sports life for a long time. I realize the NHL just had its second work stoppage in eight years and hockey isn’t covered in the media as thoroughly as the other major sports, but that doesn’t take away from how incredible of a sport it truly is. And really if you’re a fair weather fan you should have been pretending to like the Bruins as far back as two Springs ago when they won the Title. Last year they rolled to a #2 seed in the East before losing to Washington in a classic seven-game series. So if you started backing them in 2011, I have no idea why you would have stepped off the bandwagon between then and now.

If you’re still having doubts, right now is your last chance. You can still get ahead of the laggards and the extreme casual fan curve and not look like a total fool after the Bruins win their second Stanley Cup of the decade (That’s not a guarantee that it’ll happen this year, but I’ll be stunned if it doesn’t happen soon).

It’s not an exaggeration to think these guys might be the “new Patriots” over the next five years. As you’ll see below, they may even be better-positioned for multiple title runs than the Patriots.

Here are some stats and tidbits that should help you understand why I’m pushing this so hard:

  • First of all, after Sunday’s 4-1 win at Florida, their record now sits at a sterling 11-2-2
  • By my count, 17 of the Bruins’ 20 regular players were a significant part of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup team. There really hasn’t been much turnover, so even if you were out on them last year, you can hop right back in without skipping a beat.
  • They have one player who’s the son of a Bruin legend. That would be Chris Bourque. How can you not root for the son of #77.
  • They’ve got a high 1st round draft pick from 2011 who looks like he’s going to be the stud they thought they were drafting. That would be Dougie Hamilton. He’s already a regular defenseman and he’s 19 years old.
  • They have their own version of Dustin Pedroia! Or is it Wes Welker? Or Rajon Rondo? Whatever it is, they have an undersized, not-much-to-look-at guy of their own. His name is Brad Marchand and he’s leading the team with nine goals.
  • They have 10 “key players” under the age of 30.
  • Their top seven point scorers so far this year are all under the age of 28. You really can get behind this team now and feel good about their chances over the next five years. They have a young cornerstone goalie, a young cornerstone defenseman, and several young cornerstone forwards.
  • Speaking of their goalie, his name is Tuuka Rask, and he’s actually not a new guy on the scene. This is his 6th year in the league and 4th playing meaningful minutes. In the 2009-10 season, he led the NHL in both goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931). If not for Tim Thomas’s resurgence over the last couple years (which I’m absolutely not complaining about), Rask would be a household name along with the best goalies in the league.
  • It’s unfair to judge a hockey team purely on a traditional win-loss record because it’s somewhat irrelevant to the standings. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works: a team gets two points for a win (regulation or overtime) and one point for an overtime loss (whether they lose in the extra period or the shootout). So it’s much better to gauge a team on the number of points they’ve captured as a percentage of their total possible points (example: This current Bruins team has played 15 games. At most they could have 30 points. They currently have 24. That puts their “points captured” percentage at .800…Still with me?) By comparison, an .800 win percentage in baseball would have the Red Sox winning 130 games in a season. That same win rate for the Patriots would give them 13 victories in a 16-game schedule. If you want to argue that this 14-game sample isn’t sustainable, I totally agree. But over the last two-and-a-half seasons, the Bruins are playing at a .640 clip. Translating that number into baseball once again, the Red Sox would put up 104 wins, or just a handful more than Josh Beckett said they’d win in 2011. My apologies for nerding out in this paragraph, but hopefully you get my point. The Bruins are damn good, and it’s been that way for a while.
  • If fighting and physicality is more your game than scoring, the Bruins roll out Shawn Thornton, Lane MacDermid, and Milan Lucic on the regular. They are all badasses, trust me (hopefully you saw Lucic absolutely bury that Panthers player who hit him from behind on Sunday). And for pure comedic value, just watch a Bruins opponent (especially a rookie) get pissed off at Zdeno Chara. There’s nothing more entertaining to me than seeing a guy on the other team get a borderline cheapshot from Chara, quickly turnaround to confront the offender, and only then realize it’s the 6’9″ Bruins captain (aka the biggest player in NHL history).
  • The Bruins are tied for 5th in the league in fights per game. Just read some of the opposing players’ or coaches’ quotes after they play the Bruins. They regularly call it “the most intense game we’ve played all year” and comment on the “physical, crushing style” the B’s play. I promise you this all lends itself to even more entertainment.
  • Yeah the lockout sucked, but the Bruins’ season just began and already they only have 33 games left. Surely you can get on board with such a short season.
  • In March, the Bruins play 17 games and will have more than one day off in between games only once. So you can count on meaningful hockey every other day.
  • Hey, it’s not all sunshine and pixie dust for the Bruins. If there’s one knock on their “watchability,” it’s that their highest point scorer ranks 63rd among all NHL players. That’s pretty ridiculous. When you’re trying to make the case that Boston is one of the best and most enjoyable teams to watch in the league, that’s a damning argument against them. But remember those three Patriots Super Bowl winning teams? How they never really had just one guy standing out on the stat sheet? And that Celtics championship team in 2008, no one averaged more than 19 points per game? And even the Bruins title team two years ago didn’t have a guy ranked higher than 39th in the league in points. What I’m trying to say is, yeah it kinda sucks not to have a Crosby or a Stamkos or one of the Sedin Sisters to dazzle you every night, but last time I checked, regular season flash doesn’t translate to postseason success.
  • And then there’s the gigantic woolly mammoth in the room: the Bruins power play. We’re now into year four of all Bruins fans asking if they’re allowed to decline the power play rather than play with a man advantage. It’s that pathetic. But if they’re going to suck on one special teams unit, at least they are far-and-away the best in the league on the man disadvantage. So even the dark power play clouds have a nice silver lining for this team.

The point of all this? Fair weather fans in Boston have naturally gravitated towards the Patriots and Red Sox over the past 10 years, and for good reason. They’ve been the more consistent contenders in their sports. But the landscape has shifted, and the Bruins are ready to take the reigns for the foreseeable future.

Coping With the Latest Boston Sports Loss By Reminiscing About Past Disappointments, and Looking for Silver Linings!

As experienced as Boston fans are at celebrating our teams’ big wins, we’ve also become equally adept at dealing with their catastrophic losses. That gives you an indication of how successful Boston sports have been over the past 12 years. On one side we have three Patriots Super Bowl Titles, two Red Sox World Series Championships, a 17th banner for the Celtics and most recently a Stanley Cup for the Bruins. But on the other side there are two Patriots Super Bowl losses (one while chasing a perfect season), two Patriots AFC Championship Game losses (with the Pats leading both those games at halftime), two Red Sox ALCS losses in seven games (including the 2003 Grady Little/Pedro game), a Celtics NBA Title loss in seven games (after being up in the series three games to two), and a Celtics Conference Championship loss in seven games (ditto).

Side Note: Holy Shit. Can’t we ever just lose a playoff series in five games? Maybe get swept in four games? Why do all our losses come in the most dramatic fashion?

Anyway, the first side of that coin makes it impossible for anyone to empathize with us on the second side of the coin. And that’s fair. But it doesn’t mean that these playoff losses hurt us any less than they hurt fans of other teams.

I don’t have a recap of Sunday’s games for obvious reasons (A full bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey + a mind-boggling Patriots loss). But what I do have is a smorgasbord of disjointed thoughts on coping with tough sports losses.

Until just a couple years ago, I always took my teams’ losses extremely tough. And I always thought it was my god-given right to react as poorly to these losses as I wanted. When I say “extremely tough” I’m talking about drowning my sorrows in whatever cheap booze I could find, holing up in my bedroom for days, refusing to talk to people, and even crying. Yes, crying!

Here’s an incomplete list of some of those poor reactions I’m talking about:

  • After the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, I walked into my kitchen, lined up four shot glasses and took down half a bottle of shitty Vodka in about three minutes. I proceeded to walk the streets of Boston by myself for hours that night, alternating between looking for a Yankees fan to punch in the face and crying into the sleeve of my sweatshirt.
  • Also after that ’03 disaster, I wouldn’t talk to my oldest brother (one of the bigger Boston sports influences in my life) for three weeks. He didn’t wanna talk to me either. It would just be too painful to have to rehash the details…actually I think we would have set the world record for longest phone call without any words spoken. So for 20 days my poor Mom had to act as a go-between for us whenever we wanted to tell each other something.
  • When the Patriots lost to the Giants in February 2008, me and my other brother had to walk home from my oldest brother’s apartment. On the way (keep in mind it was a one-mile walk), we split eight beers and a bottle of champagne. Apparently this loss was too painful to simply drown our sorrows in alcohol. For this loss, we needed to be destructive. So we went out into the street, threw my Patriots hat on the ground, doused it in lighter fluid and set that thing on fire. Thinking we had proved our point, I turned away from the flames to walk back inside. When I turned around one more time to say “see you in hell” to the hat, I found my brother pissing on the burning hat. It was a perfect exclamation point.
  • After that same Patriots loss, I strolled into work at 11am the next morning with a pounding headache. This awful co-worker (a pompous, conniving, little shit) was waiting at my desk just so he could be the first person to scream “18-1” in my face. Ever since that day, I’ve always hoped he would contract a deadly disease. After Richard Sherman and Terrell Suggs, I think he’s the person I’d most likely kill if I was guaranteed to get away with it (If I knew back then that I didn’t want a career in software sales, I probably would have thrown him out of our office’s third story window).
  • And after last year’s Super Bowl loss I simply walked through the Mission District in San Francisco looking to talk trash to, and possibly get in a fight with. anyone wearing New York Giants gear.

So after the latest edition of “Patriots choke in the playoffs” on Sunday, how did I react? By taking my dog for a long walk with my girlfriend and then drowning my sorrows in chocolate. I’ll admit I had one moment on that walk where I started stomping my feet and whining that “it isn’t fair, why can’t they just win one more Super Bowl while Brady’s around…”

Is my lack of a childish reaction to this latest loss a sign that I’m growing up? Actually, I think it’s just more of a realization I had over the past couple years when it comes to sports: Let’s say you have a favorite team in each of the four major sports. Most people are lucky if they get to see two or three championships among their four teams in a lifetime. Let’s say you live to be 85 years old and the first 10 years of your life don’t count because you were too young to be affected by your teams’ wins and losses. That means 75 years of actually caring about sports, multiplied by four teams per year. You have 300 different sports seasons that have to come to an end at some point. Even the luckiest among us are going to see 290 of those seasons end in bitter disappointment.

That’s where my realization comes in. Can I really spend a lifetime having meltdown after meltdown whenever my teams lose? Because they’re going to lose a lot. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care. I’m just saying we have no choice but to put it behind us and move on with life. Much like a football team does after a regular season win when they say they’re going to celebrate for one night and then move on to the next opponent, it’s OK to spend one night being miserable after a playoff loss, but then the sun comes up the next day and it’s time to get over it.

My advice is to wait two days before reading your local newspapers, watching sports programming on TV or listening to any sort of sports talk radio. Two days is enough time for you to cool off and go to your happy place. And for the people living in Boston, you should feel lucky. You get to go to work this week surrounded by mostly fellow miserable Boston sports fans. There are Boston fans all over the country who had to walk into work yesterday morning and deal with fans of other cities who couldn’t wait to rub this loss in their faces. Trust me, it’s as helpless of a feeling as you can have.

In the spirit of getting over this latest setback, here are some silver linings for New England fans:

  • Having Wes Welker back next year would be huge, of course, but let’s not forget that the chances of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez missing time with injuries in 2013 are very slim.
  • The running backs will only get better. Stevan Ridley is their best pure runner, but Shane Vereen was the surprise in the playoffs, establishing himself as a capable runner and receiver.
  • The offense is as good as it’s ever been, and there’s no reason to think it’ll slow down anytime soon.
  • There’s absolutely no indication that Tom Brady is slowing down. He was still a top-10 quarterback in every important category this year. If you think the Championship window is only open as long as Brady is playing at an elite level, I’d say we have at least three more seasons of opportunity.
  • There’s also no indication that Bill Belichick is regressing as a coach or losing his desire to run the Patriots (if you mention the two times Brady/Belichick screwed up clock management at the end of a half this year, I will stab you. Name a coach or QB who hasn’t made those one or two gaffes this year).
  • The defense improved this year, and it’s young enough that you can expect more improvement next year. They were a top-10 defense in points allowed per game this season, they increased their takeaway-to-giveaway differential from +17 in 2011 to +25 in 2012, and they’re heading in the right direction in terms of yards allowed per game (from 31st-ranked in 2011 to 25th in 2012).
  • Remember how the Patriots thrived as a “no one believes in us” team 10 years ago? Maybe now that they’ve choked away playoff games four years in a row, when next January rolls around, they can play the “no one believes in us in a big game” card.
  • It could be worse, we could be sports fans who have to pretend to enjoy rooting for Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs.

When you finally emerge from the dark hole you crawled into after Sunday night’s game, you may be wondering who you should root for in the Super Bowl. That’s the biggest no-brainer in the history of this blog. You root for the 49ers, hard. You do not root for the team that doesn’t know how to be a gracious, respectful winner (Suggs and other Ravens just couldn’t contain themselves after the game. They just had to take more satisfaction in the Patriots losing than in their own team winning). You don’t root for the team that has one of the biggest headhunters in the game (Bernard Pollard). You don’t root for the team who, if they win the Super Bowl, would probably say something like “This one title means more than the Patriots’ three titles because of SpyGate.” That’s not a team that deserves to win anything. But if the Ravens do win, I won’t freak out and throw a tantrum. I’ll just look forward to the regular season meeting between them and the Patriots in 2013.

If the Celtics Lose Game 7, Do NOT Let Them Off the Hook

The Celtics do NOT get a free pass if they lose Game 7 on Saturday.  Any fan that claims the Celtics are playing with house money at this point—therefore rationalizing a loss to Miami in the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals—is a complete buffoon.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because I already know how the narrative will go if the Celtics lose on Saturday.  The “ESPN experts” will say something like, “It was a valiant effort by an older Celtics team…a team no one expected to make it this far.  They should be proud of putting up such a good fight, especially if it is the last stand for the Big Three.”

The ignorant fans will be talking months from now about how they didn’t expect this team to A). make the playoffs, B). beat Atlanta in Round One, or C). Advance to the Conference Finals.  The subtext being, “Yeah, it sucks they lost, but since we didn’t expect them to make it this far, we can’t be too upset that they fell short of the Finals.”

Fuck that.

You know who would never entertain the idea of “playing with house money?”

Kevin Garnett.

Just listen to one of that guy’s postgame rants and you’ll realize he expects to win the NBA Championship every time he steps on the court.

The Celtics should have ended the Heat series in five games, considering they outplayed Miami in games two through five.  Just like they should have ended the 76ers series in five games as they outplayed Philadelphia in games one, three, four and five.

This isn’t a team that lacks so much talent compared to their opponents that we should feel lucky they’re winning.  They have plenty of talent; they’re just as healthy as every other playoff team (just ask Chicago about Derrick Rose or Miami about Chris Bosh); they have three future Hall-of-Famers and a former Coach of the Year.  They are not outmatched.

Sure, win or lose on Saturday I’ll still be proud of the fight they put up this postseason.  They certainly could have come up with plenty of excuses to bow out early.  But since they have gotten to this point—and proved that they belong in the Finals just as much as any other team—I think it’s only fair that we expect them to win.

If you’re a Celtics fan, it’s understandably lazy to be happy they made it this far and not expect anything more.  Be better than that.  Expect this team to be in the Finals.  The old guys taking the floor on Saturday night certainly will.

Adventures in Relocating: Fallout from the Move

Eleven days of silence from the WBFF blog probably has people worried sick.  Am I alive?  Stuck under a pile of moving boxes?  Busy selling movie scripts all over LA?  Auditioning for my first (porn) acting gig?

Actually, in those 11 days, I spent five of them on a bender in Boston—Red Sox game, Celtics game, Wedding, Memorial Day BBQ, and a Wake (yes, my family typically serves alcohol at wakes…you know it’s a great idea)—I spent two of them packing four peoples’ lives into a moving truck, and I’ve spent the past four days unpacking in LA.

There might have been a post over the weekend if the company that was supposed to setup my internet and DirecTV service hadn’t completely boned me.  The reason I pushed to leave San Francisco at 4AM on Friday morning was to make sure we had enough time to get to LA, unpack everything from the truck and have the TV setup so these guys could do their job when they showed up at 4PM that day.  Only they didn’t show up and wouldn’t be able to until Monday.  I put together a sob story for the sales rep, saying that they were hurting my ability to work from home without the internet, and that I had plans to have friends over on Sunday night for dinner and watching the Celtics game.  He must have known that I have no job and no friends because he didn’t really compensate me much for this inconvenience.  The company’s name is Bel-Air Internet, and they are on my shit list.

But I digress.

My favorite thing about moving out of an apartment is the discoveries you make in random places you haven’t checked in years.  For instance, when we moved out of our college apartment, I’m pretty sure we found a mouse trap behind the mini-fridge that had a dead mouse on it…and that dead mouse had apparently died while trying to eat a smaller dead mouse.  At the apartment in San Francisco, my favorite discovery was this jar of mayo in the cupboard.  Expiration date: September ’08.  I tried to take a picture of it next to something white so you could see the color discrepancy:

Pretty gross, but I ate the whole jar.

Up until a week ago, I had never been to a self-storage facility.  I’m now convinced I’ll never go back to one.  In my head, storing possessions at one of these places is as simple as driving your truck right up next to your unit and unloading.  Kind of like this:

But reality is slightly different.  Reality is parking your truck in a tiny, crowded garage where there is only one elevator that everyone fights over to get your stuff up to your storage unit.  Reality is trying to navigate the world’s narrowest hallways with a dolly full of your possessions, while ducking under low-hanging pipes and lights.  And unfortunately, reality means realizing your storage unit is elevated about 10 feet above you, and good luck carrying those 70lb boxes up the librarian’s staircase without killing yourself.

This picture doesn’t do it justice. But picture those top units being 10 feet above ground and having a wobbly staircase as the only method to haul your shit up to them

After living in my new apartment for three days, here are the additional positives I’ve found that weren’t obvious when we toured the place in May: the flushing power of the toilet, the perfect temperature in the apartment by keeping the porch door open at all times (no need to use the central air so far), and the amount of power outlets throughout the place.

And here is the one negative I’ve found: lack of lighting even though there is an endless amount of light switches on the walls.  Seriously, there’s no overhead light in the living room, the bedroom or any of the closets.  And yet, there are at least seven light switches that do nothing, like they want to be used for overhead lights.  Even the kitchen is too dark in certain corners when the lights are on.  How many lamps will I have to buy to properly light this apartment?  It feels like more than five.

When Julie and I were moving in over the weekend, I was looking for one thing early on that I could start a huge all-out war over with her.  I picked the way she puts the toilet paper on the toilet paper dispenser.  I walked out of the bathroom on Saturday and said, “This just isn’t gonna work. You always put the toilet paper on upside down and I can’t live with that.”  I expected a fight, but instead she told me she didn’t even notice how she puts it on, it’s not even worth thinking about, and she’ll do it the way I want.  How dare she be so dismissive about something so important to me?

Speaking of the lady of the house…I folded a load of her laundry yesterday, and I never want to attempt it again.  My clothes have basically two shapes: regular-looking pants and regular-looking t-shirts.  My clothes are also made of only two possible materials: cotton and denim.  I know how to properly fold these shapes and materials.  Apparently a woman’s wardrobe consists of more variety: tank tops, strapless shirts, dresses with one sleeve, strapless dresses, skirts, shirts with a deep V-neck, normal length pants, three-quarter length pants, sweatshirts that look like shirts, shirts that look like sweatshirts, three different thicknesses of sweaters, belts that apparently go in the wash…and of course there are different materials that don’t want to fold like my cotton shirts.  Even though by living together we’re merging a lot of possessions, I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to do our laundry separately.

Scamming Restaurants by Eating Off the Bereavement Menu

So I’m heading to dinner tonight in Leominster with some relatives and we’re going to some place called The Luxury Box.  Don’t know much about it except that it meets my “20 Flatscreen TVs minimum” requirement.  As is my habit, I was looking around on their website for a menu so I can decide on my meal now.  That way I can ignore everything going on at the table and just watch TV.

I find the menu link and what do I stumble upon?  A bereavement menu:

Bereavement menu?  Has anyone ever seen anything like this?  Is this the most random thing?  I’m wondering if maybe this restaurant is located next to a church and cemetery and happens to be the only dining spot in the area.  Why else would they expect to have such a large number of grievers visiting their establishment?

“We here at The Luxury Box would like to express our deepest sympathy in your time of sorrow.  We would like to help ease the burden…”

Listen up, Dad, Uncle Steve, Grandma and Grandpa.  Here’s the plan for tonight: We just got done burying a loved one and we’d like to eat off the bereavement menu (we’ll take menu option #3, thank you).  We’re very sad, regardless of how much we’re cheering for the Celtics during our dinner.  When the check comes at the end of the meal, we act even more sorrowful and quietly explain to the manager that we just spent all of our money on the funeral and can’t afford to pay.  Let’s see The Luxury Box put their money where their mouth is…if you really have sympathy for our situation and wanna ease our burden, you’ll go ahead and take care of that check for us.  Thanks.

If this works, I’m only eating at restaurants with bereavement menus from now on.

Watching Sports on Tape Delay: a Stressful and Chaotic Practice

Being able to listen to the Red Sox radio broadcast on WEEI through my iPhone is one of my favorite things about modern technology.  With the MLB.tv subscription, I can actually watch the Red Sox games on any of my devices, or if I happen to be in a situation where I can’t look at a screen, like when I’m driving, I can still listen to the game live.  So even though I was faced with the daunting task of driving the six hours back to San Francisco from LA by myself on Tuesday afternoon, I was excited that three of those hours would be spent listening to the Sox/Royals game. With the converter I use that plays audio from my iPhone over the car’s speakers, I was set.  A 16oz Red Bull, some beef jerky, a full sleeve of Sour Cream -n- Onion Pringles and the Red Sox game on my car radio… where’s the downside?

The downside was that I basically had to keep my hand on the radio’s volume knob for three hours in case WEEI wanted to interrupt the broadcast to update its listeners on the Celtics playoff game.  Over the course of the baseball game, I think WEEI did this four times.  Luckily I was ready each time and avoided hearing the score of the Celtics by immediately turning the volume down.  Other than almost hearing the score accidentally a few times, the other problem was that I had to dedicate one of my hands to the volume the whole time.  I was already one hand short because I kept getting my entire right arm stuck inside the Pringles container.  So I was basically driving up the 101 at 80 miles per hour steering with my knee.

The reason I had to censor the score updates is because I had the Celtics game taping on my DVR back at home.  Knowing I’d be in the car at the same time the C’s were trying to close out Atlanta, I wanted to avoid any exposure to the score so I could watch it later Tuesday night.  On top of the radio situation, I also had to avoid all text messages, phone calls and the urge to scroll through Twitter while driving.

While this was far from my first time doing the tape delay of a live sporting event, it really got me thinking.  Is it worth it to temporarily cut yourself off from the entire outside world because you want to watch a previously-played game as if it’s happening live?  Are some games acceptable to do this for while others are not?  Are you allowed to strangle someone if they happen to mention the score of the exact game you’re trying to avoid hearing about?  It’s a dangerous game we play when we try to create an alternate reality where a sporting event is “live” only when we’re ready for it to be live.

Like I said, I’ve been dealing with this conundrum for years.  Living in California makes it even more relevant because during the week, most games played by my Boston teams begin by 4 or 4:30, and unfortunately getting out of work early isn’t always an option.  So you do the whole song and dance of taping the game and telling all your coworkers that if they check on the score and happen to mention it to you, they’ll never see their families again.  And generally that works because people don’t want their loved ones to die, and because it’s just one hour or so that you have to avoid all spoilers for.

But what about those weekend days when a game starts at 1pm, but there’s just no way you can watch it until 7 or 8 that night?  How hard is it to avoid a spoiler in that situation?  On that kind of day, it’s not like you can sit in a dark cave shut off from the rest of the world until you’re ready to watch the game.  If that was the case, you’d be watching the game live.  No, on that weekend day you’re inevitably in a situation where you have to go for a hike with your girlfriend; or go apartment hunting because you decided on a whim to move 400 miles away.  So you’re out in the real world where all sorts of idiots can screw up the game for you. You somehow have to avoid the game being ruined by people who are around you as well as accidentally seeing the score on TV or hearing it on the radio.  It’s stressful to the point where you’re not even remotely enjoying whatever that other activity is that you got sucked into.  And then the person that made you participate in it gets pissed off because you’re ruining everyone’s day…and suddenly she wishes you had just stayed home and watched the game live.  (Hint: ruin enough of her Sunday hikes and brunches and she’ll never ask you to miss a game again)

There’s one other problem with this practice of taping the games.  This past Tuesday night I was taping the Celtics game to watch it by myself when I got home, but many times a group of us will decide to avoid seeing the score of a game, and we’ll all get together later in the night and watch the taped version.  So in theory you have three or four people who are all on the same page, having shut themselves off from all communication about the result of this game.  But then you start watching, and suddenly one of the guys is on his iPad screwing around. You warn him that if he sees the final score online, he better not say anything.  He doesn’t say anything, but the next thing you know the Celtics are down by seven points with three minutes left, and this guy is putting his shoes on and getting ready to leave.  Gee, I wonder if maybe you already know the Celtics’ comeback fell short if you’re walking out the door in silence as the game is still happening on my TV?  If you have that friend who really can’t commit to avoiding the result, just stop inviting him over for these delayed viewings because his body language will ruin the outcome for you every time.  It’s similar to when you tell your friend not to mention the score because you have it taped at home, and then he says, “ahh, I’ll save you some time, they got crushed tonight.”  He thinks he’s doing you a favor, but what he doesn’t know is that now you’re planning to get back at him by ruining something he really cares about, like his upcoming wedding.

My final take is that you cannot do the tape delay thing for the biggest games…The Super Bowl, The NCAA football and basketball championships, any championship games really.  These games are important enough that you should be watching live.  And you can’t do it everyday for regular season baseball, basketball or hockey games.  That’s just obnoxious to be avoiding the outcome of a game every single day. And you can’t do it for football on Sundays because then you miss the RedZone Channel and following your fantasy team live as the games are happening.  So really, the only appropriate time to watch games on tape delay is for early-round playoff games in all of the major sports.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go setup Game 6 of the Celtics/Hawks series to tape later tonight.