Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Bruins big gamble

You know what the best thing about October is? Hockey season begins again. And for the first time in at least 15 years, expectations for the Bruins are very high. After last season's surprise showing, the Bs are one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup.

Near the end of last season, the Bruins decided that their best chance to win a cup would be with Tim Thomas as their starting goaltender. So they went out and signed the then 34-year-old to a 4-year, $20-million contract. Well, I hope Bruins' management is right. Because they've tied themselves up in a salary cap knot for the next four years.

The problem with the Thomas contract is that the Bruins are hoping that he can do what almost no goalie has ever done before. Here's what I mean...

I've gone to and looked at every goaltender since expansion in 1966-67 to find those who started more than half of their team's games at age 34. There were only 28 goalies other than Thomas who met that criteria. Of the 28...
  • At age 35, 19 were still their team's primary starter (appeared in more than half of their team's games).
  • At age 36, 13 were still their team's primary starter.
  • At age 37, 11 were still their team's primary starter.
  • At age 38, 6 were still their team's primary starter.
  • Of those 6, only three of them were their teams primary starter for every year between ages 35 and 38. (Ed Belfour, Tony Esposito, and Dwayne Roloson).
  • Only two of the 28 won a cup as their team's starter between ages 35 and 38. (Patrick Roy at age 35 and Dominik Hasek at age 37).
Chances are at sometime over the next four years--if not for most of them--Thomas will be getting $5m to sit in the press box because he's hurt, or sit on the bench because his skills have atrophied. And because 8% of the cap is tied up in someone who can't play, someone else--Lucic, Savard, Wheeler, Rask--will be gone.

Obviously the Bruins felt that the best chance to win a cup in this window was to keep Thomas. Either they had to give him 4/$20m or they would have had to pay him $7m per year for a shorter deal. I guess they figured that it would be better to be hamstrung in '12 and '13 than to be short on money (or an experienced goalie) in '10 and '11.

But Thomas had better turn out to be Dominik Hasek (the only goaltender in the last 45 years to win his first cup over the age of 34--and even he missed half of his 35 season due to injury and did not play at all at age 38) or they'll be in trouble in the out years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Expected 2009 Boston NFL TV Schedule

Every year I try to look at the NFL schedule and guess which games we in the Boston area will get to see on local TV week-by-week (Although for some reason, I didn't do it last year. Go figure.) The formula I use to pick the games is explained here. Here is the expected TV schedule:

Thursday, Sep. 10
8:30 PM...NBC...Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Sunday, Sep. 13
1:00 PM...FOX...Minnesota at Cleveland
1:00 PM...CBS...N.Y. Jets at Houston
4:15 PM...FOX...Washington at N.Y. Giants
8:20 PM...NBC...Chicago at Green Bay
Monday, Sep. 14
7:00 PM...ESPN...Buffalo at New England
10:15 PM…ESPN...San Diego at Oakland

OK, so I cheated on this one. I had originally predicted that Fox would send us the Philadelphia-Carolina game because it pitted two of the NFC's top teams from last year and was an NFC East game. You know, solid reasons to send an out-of-market game to Boston. But I checked the listings and apparently Fox has decided that we, along with the rest of the country, just can't wait to watch the magical Brett Favre play against a Cleveland team that was awful last year and that some have predicted will be the NFL's worst in 2009. You know, because he's Brett Favre!

Miami-Atlanta might be a better 1:00 CBS game than Jets-Texans. But CBS thinks we care more about the Jets than the team that actually won the AFC East, and Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are doing the game--making it their #1 national game--so we're getting them instead.

Sunday, Sep. 20

1:00 PM...CBS...New England at N.Y. Jets
4:05 PM...FOX...Tampa Bay at Buffalo
4:15 PM...CBS...Pittsburgh at Chicago
8:20 PM...NBC...N.Y. Giants at Dallas
Monday, Sep. 21
8:30 PM...ESPN...Indianapolis at Miami

Not too tough a call here. The 4:05 Fox game is either Bucs-Bills or Niners-Seahawks. The others are lay-ups (although I'd rather see Baltimore-San Diego as the 4:15 CBS game).

Sunday, Sep. 27

1:00 PM...FOX...Atlanta at New England
4:15 PM...CBS...Miami at San Diego
8:20 PM...NBC...Indianapolis at Arizona
Monday, Sep. 28
8:30 PM...ESPN...Carolina at Dallas

Since the Pats are at home and CBS has the doubleheader, we only get one game in each slot (the NFL has some arcane rule that a local affiliate can't show a game opposite the home team when they are at home). Dolphins-Chargers is the best 4:15 game and the one that would mean the most to Patriots fans, but the early assignments have Nantz and Simms doing Pittsburgh-Cincinnati in that slot. God help us if they ship that mismatch to Boston instead of Miami-San Diego.

Sunday, Oct. 4
1:00 PM...CBS...Baltimore at New England
4:15 PM...FOX...Dallas at Denver
8:20 PM...NBC...San Diego at Pittsburgh
Monday, Oct. 5
8:30 PM...ESPN...Green Bay at Minnesota

Same situation as in Week 4 with the Patriots at home. Nothing tough about this one.

Sunday, Oct. 11

1:00 PM...CBS...Oakland at N.Y. Giants
1:00 PM...FOX...Dallas at Kansas City
4:15 PM...CBS...New England at Denver
8:20 PM...NBC...Indianapolis at Tennessee
Monday, Oct. 12
8:30 PM...ESPN...N.Y. Jets at Miami

This is a very intriguing week. Not because there are a bunch of good 1:00 games to choose from, but because there are no good games. I stuck to the script and have CBS sending us the Raiders-Giants, but a rationale could be made for two of their other 1:00 games. Division-rival Buffalo against an awful Cleveland team? The Super Bowl-champion Steelers against a terrible Lions squad? Because of the Raiders' addition of Richard Seymour and the presence of the Giants, I'm sticking with that mismatch.

On Fox, I'm going with Cowboys-Chiefs because it's an NFC East team against former Patriot Matt Cassell. Tampa-Philly is the best game in this slot, but I think the presence of Cassell will make the difference in the assignment. Of course, Minnesota-St. Louis is a possibility if the network suits still think we want to watch Our Lord and Savior Brett Farve.

Sunday, Oct. 18

1:00 PM...CBS...Baltimore at Minnesota
1:00 PM...FOX...N.Y. Giants at New Orleans
4:15 PM...CBS...Tennessee at New England
8:20 PM...NBC...Chicago at Atlanta
Monday, Oct. 19
8:30 PM...ESPN...Denver at San Diego

Even though the Patriots are home, CBS can still show a 1:00 game because they have the doubleheader. I had Ravens-Vikings as the 1:00 CBS game before American Hero Brett Farve joined Minnesota, so I'm sticking with that one.

Sunday, Oct. 25

1:00 PM...CBS...New England at Tampa Bay (London)
1:00 PM...FOX...Minnesota at Pittsburgh
4:15 PM...FOX...Atlanta at Dallas
8:20 PM...NBC...Arizona at N.Y. Giants
Monday, Oct. 26
8:30 PM...ESPN...Philadelphia at Washington

Again, I had Minnesota on my schedule even before Roman God Brett Favricus graced us with his return, so nothing changes there. Falcons-Cowboys is the pick as it will most likely be Fox's national game at 4:15, though I'd love to see them send us Saints-Dolphins if Miami is still a threat in the AFC East.

Sunday, Nov. 1

1:00 PM...CBS...Miami at N.Y. Jets
1:00 PM...FOX...Minnesota at Green Bay
4:15 PM...FOX...N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia
Monday, Nov. 2
8:30 PM...ESPN...Atlanta at New Orleans

Easy pickings. AFC East rivals on CBS, General MacArthur's triumphant return to Green Bay on Fox at 1:00, and an NFC East game involving the Giants at 4:00.

Sunday, Nov. 8

1:00 PM...CBS...Miami at New England
4:05 PM...FOX...Carolina at New Orleans
4:15 PM...CBS...San Diego at N.Y. Giants
8:20 PM...NBC...Dallas at Philadelphia
Monday, Nov. 9
8:30 PM...ESPN...Pittsburgh at Denver

No tough choices here.

Thursday, Nov. 12

8:20 PM...NFL...Chicago at San Francisco
Sunday, Nov. 15
1:00 PM...FOX...Tampa Bay at Miami
1:00 PM...CBS...Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets
4:15 PM...FOX...Dallas at Green Bay
8:20 PM...NBC...New England at Indianapolis
Monday, Nov. 16

8:30 PM...ESPN...Baltimore at Cleveland

Each of the three afternoon slots could go in an different direction. Tampa-Miami is the 1:00 Fox game that would mean the most to Patriots fans and will probably get the nod, although Atlanta-Carolina is probably the best game in the slot. On CBS, Jaguars-Jets is the pick, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Buffalo-Tennessee will be a bigger game by week 10. If so, the suits just might send us that one. At 4:15, Eagles-Chargers is also a very good game and may be the choice if either Dallas or Green Bay falters.

Thursday, Nov. 19

8:20 PM...NFL...Miami at Carolina
Sunday, Nov. 22
1:00 PM...CBS...Indianapolis at Baltimore
1:00 PM...FOX...Atlanta at N.Y. Giants
4:15 PM...CBS...N.Y. Jets at New England
8:20 PM...NBC...Philadelphia at Chicago
Monday, Nov. 23
8:30 PM...ESPN...Tennessee at Houston

Colts-Ravens will definitely be the top CBS game at 1:00, but Buffalo-Jacksonville could be the call in Boston if the Bills are in contention in the AFC East. Washington-Dallas will probably be the top Fox game at 1:00, but the Giants win out here.

Thursday, Nov. 26

12:30 PM...FOX...Green Bay at Detroit
4:15 PM...CBS...Oakland at Dallas
8:20 PM...NFL...N.Y. Giants at Denver
Sunday, Nov. 29
1:00 PM...FOX...Carolina at N.Y. Jets
1:00 PM...CBS...Miami at Buffalo
4:15 PM...FOX...Chicago at Minnesota (move from 1:00)
8:20 PM...NBC...Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Monday, Nov. 30
8:30 PM...ESPN...New England at New Orleans

A very tricky slate to predict. The CBS game is a given, but the Fox games are completely up in the air. Fox has the doubleheader, but they currently do not have any 4:15 games on the schedule, so not only do I have to guess which games we will see, I also have to guess which game(s) will be flexed to 4:15. Originally I had expected Washington-Philadelphia to be flexed to the national game--and I think that will still be a good choice when the time comes. But now that the Superman is now in a purple uniform, I'm guessing Vikings-Bears will be Fox's pick. I think Carolina-Jets stays at 1:00.

Thursday, Dec. 03

8:20 PM...NFL...N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
Sunday, Dec. 06
1:00 PM...CBS...Tennessee at Indianapolis
1:00 PM...FOX...Philadelphia at Atlanta
4:15 PM...FOX...Dallas at N.Y. Giants
8:20 PM...NBC...New England at Miami
Monday, Dec. 07

8:30 PM...ESPN...Baltimore at Green Bay

Another open Sunday as the Pats are again on national TV. I don't see any flexing this week and I really don't see any tough choices, either.

Thursday, Dec. 10

8:20 PM...NFL...Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Sunday, Dec. 13
1:00 PM...FOX...Carolina at New England

4:15 PM...CBS...San Diego at Dallas
8:20 PM...NBC...Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants
Monday, Dec. 14
8:30 PM...ESPN...Arizona at San Francisco

Condensed schedule as the Pats are at home on Fox and CBS has the doubleheader. I don't think any flexing will affect this schedule.


Thursday, Dec. 17

8:20 PM...NFL...Indianapolis at Jacksonville
Saturday, Dec. 19
8:20 PM...NFL...Dallas at New Orleans
Sunday, Dec. 20
1:00 PM...CBS...New England at Buffalo

1:00 PM...FOX...Atlanta at N.Y. Jets
4:15 PM...FOX...Green Bay at Pittsburgh (move from 1:00)
8:20 PM...NBC...Minnesota at Carolina
Monday, Dec. 21
8:30 PM...ESPN...N.Y. Giants at Washington

Packers-Steelers is a lock to move out of the 1:00 slot and I can't see Fox letting NBC have it (NBC has the most awesome quarterback ever in the Sunday night slot anyway), so they are the pick at 4:15. Falcons-Jets is an easy pick in Fox's early slot.

Friday, Dec. 25

7:30 PM...NFL...San Diego at Tennessee
Sunday, Dec. 27
1:00 PM...CBS...Jacksonville at New England
4:05 PM...FOX...St. Louis at Arizona
4:15 PM...CBS...Baltimore at Pittsburgh (moved from 1:00)
8:20 PM...NBC...Dallas at Washington
Monday, Dec. 28
8:30 PM...ESPN...Minnesota at Chicago

I am going out on a little bit of a limb here. Jets-Colts is currently the only game listed for 4:15. Because the Giants are at 1:00, the Jets will not be flexed out of that spot. Normally, Jets-Colts would be a lock to be the Boston game, but I think the Jets will be out of contention by week 16 (and the Colts may also be done by then). Since I expect CBS to flex Ravens-Steelers to this spot, I'm going to guess that they send that game to Boston because it should actually mean something. St. Louis-Arizona is the least bad of two bad Fox games at 4:05.

Sunday, Jan. 3
1:00 PM...CBS...New England at Houston
1:00 PM...FOX...Atlanta at Tampa Bay
4:15 PM...CBS...Pittsburgh at Miami (moved from 1:00)
4:15 PM...FOX...Philadelphia at Dallas (moved from 1:00)
8:20 PM...NBC...N.Y. Giants at Minnesota (moved from 1:00)

Of course, other than the Patriots game, does anyone have any real idea which games will be flexed and which will be important in the final week of the season? No, but I've come up with what I think is a pretty good guess. The last time The Anointed One "retired" NBC picked his final game to be their prime time offering. This time, I actually think the game will also mean something, so it is my pick for Sunday night. I think Steelers-Dolphins and Eagles-Cowboys will also both include teams that are fighting for playoff spots (not to mention that the Steelers and Cowboys are marquee teams), so they are the choices to move to 4:15. Either Falcons-Bucs or Panthers-Saints (or both) will be for the NFC South title, so that will be the early Fox game.

How many times will your favorite (or not-so-favorite) team be on TV here in the Boston area? Glad you asked...

New England....16
N.Y. Giants.......13
N.Y. Jets...........8
San Diego...........8
Green Bay...........7
New Orleans.......5
Tampa Bay.........4
San Francisco.....2
Kansas City.........1
St. Louis.............1

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just a reminder...the Schilling for Senate idea was mine first

Now that there is an open Senate seat up for grabs, speculation has heated up that Curt Schilling will be a candidate for the Republican nomination. As the speculation swirls, I just want to remind people that I was the first to propose the idea, back in November on 2006:
The state's Republican party is in such shambles it would be fair to ask: Can they find a viable candidate to run for Senate in two years?

I can only think of one really good option for them: Curt Schilling.
About six weeks after that, the media picked up on the possibility of a Schilling candidacy. I wrote then about some correspondence I had with a TV station wanting to interview me for a Schilling for Senate story:
So, three-and-a-half months after I started the whole Curt Schilling for Senate thing by explaining exactly why Schilling would make a great candidate, the story finally has some legs. Sure, it took a talk-show caller to get the ball rolling. But I didn't really expect a whole lot to come of it in the first place.

I kind of thought it was going to take off back in November when I first wrote the article here and cross-posted it at Blue Mass Group. Universal Hub linked to the post and the Hub Blog pooh poohed the idea, but after a couple of days of traffic, things settled down.

But not completely. Out of the blue about a month later, I received an email from the political editor at an in-state TV news organization, wanting to do an on-air piece about my post...
So here we are again, with Schilling openly discussing the possibility. I don't think I would ever vote for him, but if he runs don't forget where you heard it first.

* * * * *

Here is my original rationale for a Schilling candidacy, as I wrote it on November 9, 2006:

Over the next week or so I'm going start looking ahead at the next big election, and I figured I'd start at the bottom. The state's Republican party is in such shambles it would be fair to ask: Can they find a viable candidate to run for Senate in two years?

I can only think of one really good option for them: Curt Schilling. What do we know about Schilling that would make him a viable candidate?
  1. He is a Republican. After helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004, he spent the week between the end of the Series and election day campaigning for President Bush in TV appearances and on the stump. Would his support of the president be a liability? Probably not...there were still a lot of people who supported the president in 2004.

  2. He will be available. His contract with the Red Sox ends at the end of the 2007 season. That would give him five months or so until the primary (it's early in 2008 because of the presidential race), and a little over a year to the general election. He wouldn't have to worry about the primary at all--the minute he announced his candidacy the decks would be clear--and he'd be left with plenty of time to run a general election campaign. In fact, he could get a head start since the Democratic primary could be hotly contested.

  3. He brings instant name recognition and popularity. Everyone in Massachusetts knows who Curt Schilling is, and they probably have a generally positive view of him. The old joke is that a member of the 2004 Red Sox will never have to buy a drink in Massachusetts. That level of built in support would go a long way. Instead of volunteers running around in orange jumpsuits, he'll have his supporters wearing "bloody socks." In a strange way, that would be endearing.

  4. He will have no problem raising money. See number 3. Not only does he have quite a bit of his own money if he needed to tap into it, but he would be able to raise lots of money in both Massachusetts and across the country based on his star power alone. And don't think that national Republicans will forget his support of Bush. He'd instantly have as much money to run as he needs.

  5. He can campaign as a true outsider. Because he won't have a voting record on issues, he will be able to define himself. If I had to guess, I'd imagine him as a strong-defense, low-tax, social libertarian...the only type of Republican that could be successful in Massachusetts. But even if he's not, he'll have the ability to let voters know who he is, and not have to worry about having a trail of votes that can be twisted and used against him.

  6. He can campaign as a local businessman. Just last week, the Boston Business Journal reported that Schilling had rented space in Maynard to house his start-up video game business. Schilling will be able to say that he has "created jobs in Massachusetts," that he "understands the needs of small business," etc. etc.

  7. He has a TV presence. Not every athlete is comfortable with the cameras, but Schilling certainly is. In fact, some of us who follow the Red Sox think he's too much of a publicity hog: always on TV, calls WEEI to vent about this or that issue, frequents internet message boards (I'm one of those who wishes he'd just shut up and pitch). In any event, he is a skilled commentator and would be a media darling.

  8. There is no one else. Quick, name a Massachusetts Republican. Mitt Romney's running for president, so he's out. Kerry Healey? Her only chance would be if Deval Patrick failed miserably right out of the gate and people began wondering if she weren't so bad after all. Paul Cellucci might be a possibility I suppose, but his ties to President Bush are so strong that he might have difficulty here, not to mention that he saddled us with two years of Jane Swift (uh, no). Wayne Budd was Deval Patrick before Deval Patrick. Former Suffolk County DA Ralph Martin, perhaps? Do any of those names inspire you?
All of this speculation is based on one huge assumption: John Kerry will run for President and the seat will be an open seat. If Kerry stays on, I'd guess that he will not face any real opposition. But if he goes, there will be a huge fight for the first senate opening in 24 years. I wouldn't be surprised if Curt Schilling is part of the mix.


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