Monday, March 31, 2008

X-treme Sports

I have never really followed what are considered "X-treme Sports" like snowboarding, moto-cross racing, BMX , skateboarding and the rest. But when they are on TV there is something about them which results in me not being able to change the channel.

Well the Snowboarding U.S. Open was held in this weekend in my home state of Vermont so I checked out the coverage. covered the competition and featured a photo gallery with some amazing photographs. The clarity and resolution is crystal clear and the black background makes the colors pop.

I wish there were a few more photographs, but the ones they have, I personally think are really impressive. Plus, it's nice to see home sweet home as well.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Quiz You Might Actually Want to Take

I'm not a big fan of quizzes or tests. I mean, who is? But do enjoy fun sports quizzes where the outcome doesn't really matter and you learn something.

A lot of news/sports media organizations use polls to visualize reader opinion, but not a lot use quizzes. I have encountered some, but if I knew there was a weekly quiz on or that tested my smarts on a certain sports subject, I would be sure to take it.

A sports quiz might be a great way to draw in readers and make an article or feature interactive. What if there was a prize or a reader hall of fame based on points? People would sign up and compete each week, answering questions and logging points. At the end of a certain amount of time, the participants with the top 5 scores win tickets to a local game. Something like that would be great.

I'm not an expert, but I know you would have to figure out the kinks. But some kind of game/contest would a great addition and a way to draw readers to your Web site. Better yet? Do it in the newspaper, but advertise it online, potentially bring online readers to buy the paper on the day the contest is run. Sounds far fetched? Well, everyone loves trivia and some may go a long way for bragging rights and tickets to a Celts game.

Check out a quiz I made. Kinda cool and not too hard!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Official: Bracket Busted

I picked Tennessee.

That's all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Play Ball!

Did you get up?

I did and let's just say I am not a morning person. Tuesday morning was a breeze. I woke up before my alarm, which was set for 5:45am and got myself ready to watch the first regular season baseball game of the 2008 season. This morning was a bit more of a challenge. But was it worth it? With a doubt. Absolutely. Yes.

Tuesday was a game that baseball fans wish for and today was one that I wish had gone the other way. But more important than the scores was the experience. The night before the opener, after announcing that I was heading to bed because I had an early morning ahead of me, I had someone ask me why I would ever get up that early to watch a game.

"It's just a game," he said as he looked at me in confusion as I explained the scary (for any college student) fact that I would be waking before dawn.

But that's not true. I defended myself by jumping up and down exclaiming that it’s baseball season and I’m a real fan, but if I could sit down and explain why I did, this here is what I would preach.

1. I’m a Red Sox fan. I love the team and I love sports. I hate missing games and missing two in a row, including the season opener, shouldn't even be an option. I’m not just a Sox fan at 7:05pm, but at 6:05am as well.

2. In 20 years when my child asks me about the Sox playing their 2008 opener in Japan, I will say I watched it. What if Dice-K wins the Cy Young and they credit it to him being able to play at home one final time? I will have seen it happen. What if the Sox win the 2008 World Series? The commemorative DVD will show the historic season opener. I will have already seen it. What if the MLB decides to ban international play due to the cumbersome stress travel has on player health? I will have seen the last game. Will any of these things happen, most likely not, well maybe the winning it all again statement, but if they do I can say I watched it.

Sports are about memories. You watch history take place, making memories and having fun while you do it. And maybe not to all, but to me memories are made all the time, even at 6:05am.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ready to lose some Zzzzzz's?

The Sox are in Japan! Although it was a bumpy road getting there, our city's favorite ballplayers are in Tokyo and are preparing for their first regular season games.

The city of Boston is ready for baseball. The Celtics are tearing through the NBA without regard and the Bruins are hoping to make it to the playoffs, but there is a certain sports energy that is missing from Beantown, and that energy comes from the much missed baseball season.

But there will be a difference at the start of this season. Let's just say you probably won't be getting your friends together for beers and peanuts. Since the Sox will be in Japan, loyal fans will have to wake up at 6am to watch their hometown heroes and defending champs start the season off.

Away games are tough, but an away game to Japan is even tougher. I think the trip weakens the Sox a bit, not for the long run, but for the first week or two. That said, I can understand the value of spreading the MLB brand across the world and forging deeper relationships with the Japanese organizations that end up cultivating some of the best players in Major League Baseball.

As Larry Lucchino, Red Sox president, said in an official press release,

"It comes at a good time for us, because we want to express our gratitude to the Japanese baseball world for the contribution their two pitchers made to our World Series championship."

So the season is upon us and the city of Boston will likely be awake a bit earlier than usual. I know that it's going to be rough couple of mornings for this not so early bird. But in the end, who cares? It's baseball season!

P.S. Did you hear and is this really such a good idea? But more on that after the holiday weekend...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Baseball Briefs

1. The Sox released catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli's primary job on the roster was to catch the wobbly knuckleball of starter Tim Wakefield, but since Mirabelli has been unproductive at the plate, the Sox decided his time was up. Kevin Cash, who has proved he can catch Wakefield, will take over Mirabelli's place behind the plate.

2. Josh Beckett will not be going to Japan and Daisuke Matsuzaka will start the first game in Japan. Jon Lester will start the second.

The countdown has begun. One week until the start of the season!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wanna know what I heard?

News is often spread by good old fashion word of mouth. It's not unusual to hear sports news before you even get a chance to check out or watch SportsCenter for the day. It's a common occurrence to have someone say to you, "Did you hear about so and so?" or "Guess who got traded?" Now there is a Web site where you can do just that, but instead of sharing the news with just your friends, you will be sharing it with hundreds of online readers. is a new Web site where users can submit news stories and then users can vote on the stories they find important. Users can share information about their city or share a particular news story that they find interesting. Then users can vote for stories that they think are interesting, helpful or in any way newsworthy. The site's focus is the Boston area and is currently covering the towns Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline and Newton.

And it wouldn't be a Boston area Web site if sports didn't find their way into the mix. Out of the top five streams on the site, two of them are sports related, the Celtics and the Red Sox. Most of the posts are links to and articles on their sports page, but it is interesting to see what readers think is the most important or interesting part of current sports news. Check it out and maybe it will lend you some information so you can say, "Hey, wanna know what I heard?"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'll have a degree, but will I have a job?

Let's take a little break from sports coverage and take a deeper look at the current state of print journalism and what the future has in store. Tomorrow I’ll be sure to report on some sports headlines: Mirabelli’s gone, Beckett’s a no go for Japan and much more.

Since I came to college and entered the journalism school, class discussions have constantly focused on the state of journalism and in particular print journalism. It isn’t breaking news to anyone that newspapers are in trouble. People are losing jobs and departments are shrinking, if not disappearing all together. The advent of online news outlets, where you can pick and choose your news and customize your news-gathering to fit your needs, has completely shook up the money making print paper. Everybody knows this and the dialogue about it is abundant, but necessary.

I tuned in to “Radio Boston” WBUR 90.9 and listened to a program which explored the question, “What’s the future of Boston newspapers, and Boston news media?” It was hosted by David Boeri and featured commentators Stephen Kurkjian of The Boston Globe and Dan Kennedy, journalism professor at Northeastern and Media Nation blogger. The focus was on Boston media, but of course it also pertains to national media as well. Here are a few things that I found interesting and jotted down:

1. There is the same number of news consumers as there has always been; they just aren’t consuming news in the same way.

Although this was a very simple and maybe obvious point, it really hit me. We constantly talk about newspapers losing readership, but we forget that people still want to read the news, they are just going to other places to find it. I am the perfect example. I love to read the news, but there are few times that I actually buy the paper. I can get all of my news for free online and I can check several media outlets. I would say that I am a Boston Globe reader, just not in the traditional sense. They haven’t lost readership, their readers are just going to their Web site. Newspapers need to find a way to make readers want to read the print paper again or they have to….

2. Find a way to make the newspaper’s Web site profitable.

If the medium where consumers get their news is changing, then it needs to be profitable, because if it isn’t -dun dun dun- news will fail to exist. The problem may not be that dramatic, but big wigs at newspapers need to get a handle on web advertising and try to find a way that it can make money. Martin Baron, the editor of The Boston Globe, called in to the show and said that they [members of the Globe staff] are trying to figure this out. He said that the Web site is generally new, 11 years old, and doesn’t bring in money. It is something they are still trying to figure out. Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at The Poynter Institute, writes about the profits of newspapers and websites. Check out this article in which he accesses newspapers and news sites profits in 2007 and this one where he analyzes a new 2008 study of advertising and news profits.

3. Change and adaptation is key.

There was a lot of talk about The Boston Globe, which makes sense since it is the major newspaper and media outlet in the Boston area. The commentators spoke about the way the paper has changed with the times and become a local news focused paper, when at one time it had much more national coverage. Buyouts and layoffs resulting in cuts in national and international departments and bureaus might be partially to blame for this change, but the Globe is doing the best thing for the paper. People can get their national news from any news site online, but they can only get their local coverage from their local paper. This guarantees readers in some capacity,online and/or print. For example, I am a huge Boston sports fan. I read the Globe everyday because that is where I can get the best Boston sports news, which I can't get anywhere else. They have changed their focus over the years, according to the commentators, but it is only for the better.

This was a very insightful discussion, one that journalists are having everyday within their own newsrooms. If the discussion continues, perhaps an answer will come or it might just need to sort itself out. The silver lining is that people want news and that will never change, we just need to find a resourceful way to give them what they want and see both parties prosper.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bye Bye Brown

All sports have salary caps, it's just all in the details.

Baseball has a salary cap, which many don't know, but it is a "soft cap" which means that a team can spend over the cap, but they have to pay a luxury tax on the extra money they spend. Each year teams with a lot of dough like the Yankees and the Red Sox, spend more than the cap. Who cares about a cap when the owners have more than enough money to do so? The cap doesn't mean much to the millionaires that own the teams. Don't get me wrong, there needs to be a brain in the heads of the people with the money and the teams still choose who they want to spend money on, but there isn't much scrambling or deciding who is more important than who if you can pay for everyone.

The NBA and NHL also both have caps, but both include exceptions when resigning a player that is already on the team. So technically, the teams can both spend more if the opportunity presents itself.

And then there is the NFL. The NFL has a "hard cap" in which no team can pay more than any other. There is a set limit, the upcoming season's limit is $116 million, and no team can go beyond it. Never. No exceptions.

That said, it's hard to have a franchise player in football. There is too much shuffling under the cap, trying to figure out who the team can afford and who is worth what. Sometimes good players and hometown favorites go even if they and their fans hope they are there all of their careers.

So why all the salary cap/franchise player talk? According to The Boston Globe, the Patriots are choosing to forgo offering veteran wide receiver and one of the few franchisers in the game right now, a place on the team next year. Brown, who was drafted in 1993 by the Pats, was told by the team that they don't have plans to keep him and that if he plans on playing next year he should begin looking to other teams.

Troy Brown is a class act who has been in the league for 15 years now. He has discussed retiring before, but now with the Pats cutting ties, it looks like the retirement might happen sooner than later. I personally would like to see Brown retire as a Patriot. He is a standout player and human being, who took less money to play in New England a few years back. He belongs in New England and gave Pats fans unbelievable memories.

We will see what Brown does, he could always continue his spectacular career with another team, but it's sad to see him leave the Patriots. Number 80, with his quick feet, versatility and love for the game, will always be a Patriot in my eyes.

Photo (cc) by Barry Chin of The Boston Globe, and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Beckett's Back Blues

First it was a bit of pain in his back. Then it was a lot of pain. Now it's back pain that will potentially keep Sox star pitcher Josh Beckett out of the season opener. Although the Sox still haven't issued a statement, it is looking unlikely that Beckett will be able to pitch in either of the first two games in Japan.

Beckett had a MRI on his back and the results showed that there was no disk injury, which means the injury is most likely muscle related. This is a good sign for down the road, but will still mean that Beckett will be most likely out in the beginning of the season.

Adding more worry to the mix, there is a chance that number two starter Daisuke Masuzaka will not be able to pitch in Japan either. Masuzaka's wife is pregnant and he has been given permission to miss the games if he needs to be with his wife.

Terry Francona told the press,
"We'll just have to see how things play out over the next few days. We'll have two starting pitchers for the trip, we just don't know who they are yet."
I don't think the Sox have much to worry about, with generally the same team from last season, but it is still an unsettling thought to most to see the season begin on such a bumpy start.

I'll keep you posted when the Sox make the official announcement, but it will most likely be made closer to the March 25 season opener.

What Does Your Pats Jersey Say About YOU?

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I love photo galleries. Well, check out this fun read. Sports psychologists explain how the Pats jersey that you wear displays your personality.

I wear a Bruschi jersey and I'm not sure that I'm a " blue-collar scrapper who confronts steep odds and is not afraid to get [my] hands dirty." Oh well.

What does your jersey say about you?

Photo (cc), and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moss is Back

I'm back and ready to blog after an exhausting mid-term week and more relaxing spring break. Let's get it started...

Sighhhhhhh. There you go. That was my sigh of relief knowing that Randy Moss will be with the Patriots for the next three years.

It is easy to be negative in sports. We remind ourselves that it's a business, but can't seem to fathom when a hometown hero leaves the town for a few more million in another and sometimes even rival city, a la Johnny Damon.

Well it looks like Randy Moss, an athlete most were sure was completely focused on dollar signs, isn't all about the benjamins. Moss signed a 27 million dollar, 3 year deal with the Pats even though other teams, according to his agent Tim DiPiero, offered up more money for the record breaking wide receiver. Rumor has it one of the teams was the Philadelphia Eagles, where Asante Samuel just landed after jumping the Patriot ship for solely what Moss turned down, more cash. But more about that later…

So Moss stayed because he wanted to be with the Patriots even if it meant less money. Because being with the Patriots is the closest you can get to almost guaranteeing a playoff spot and that is one step closer to a Super Bowl ring which Moss, despite his great numbers, has never gotten as close to as when he wore the red, blue and silver.

Athletes have egos, there is no denying that. Being the best often means making a lot or the most money. But in the world of sports, rings can trump money, because no Canton bound football player wants to leave the game without a ring. It's nice to see that ego being put in check for the love of the game and the hunt of the title, instead of a new Escalade and eight bedroom pad.

So Moss is back and the Pats can smile when looking at there barely touched, minus Donte Stallworth, offense. With the draft approaching and trades in the mix, the Pats can breathe easy and focus on what needs to be focused on: the defense.