Calling All Sports
The Christmas decorations are put away, New Year’s festivities are over, the days are getting longer again, the pain I had in my left jaw for two days has subsided, and I just spend the last 15 minutes gazing upon the visage of the Love of My Life in the form of a couple of new pictures that hit his company’s web site earlier this week. Oh, and the weekend is here. All in all, it’s a pretty good day in Den Mother land, made all the better by the state of our local sports teams. The poor performance of the Celtics notwithstanding (and can we please stop referring to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett as “the new Big 3”? They’ve all gotten much too old to be called “new,” which is probably part of the problem), sports fans in these parts have plenty to keep them busy, and happily so, this month.
Let’s start with the Patriots, who I think have a game tomorrow, although I haven’t heard much about it. Just kidding! Pats-Broncos II is scheduled to kick off in just over 25 hours at The House that Bob Kraft’s Millions Built, and according to sundry analysts on the pages and airwaves of the Boston sports media, the only way the Patriots can lose is if they beat themselves with sloppy play, turnovers, and the like. In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to take anything for granted—remember how heavily favored the undefeated Pats were in Super Bowl XLII?—but that doesn’t mean I don’t think my guys don’t have the edge. Unfortunately, they’re facing a rookie quarterback who doesn’t seem to understand that he isn’t supposed to be here. In that respect, he isn’t unlike Tom Brady was ten years ago. Then again, this particular incarnation of the Patriots wasn’t supposed to win 13 regular season games, either. And they did beat Denver like a big bass drum back in week 15 despite sleeping through the first quarter. It’s been a bad habit all season (some games, they didn’t wake up until after the half) and I keep hearing that they won’t get away with it in the playoffs, after I heard all season that they wouldn’t play well enough to finish with the best record in the AFC. The moral of the story is that anything can happen. However things go this weekend, I trust that Brady, Gronk, the Law Firm, and associates will make it interesting. And if the unthinkable should happen, well, I shall reluctantly jump aboard the Tim Tebow bandwagon.
(In an entertaining aside, ESPN.com has this article about how the Oakland Raiders still have their boxers in a knot over the so-called “Tuck Rule game,” which happened in 2002. You know, guys, they have therapy for that kind of obsession nowadays.)
And then there are the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins (I never get tired of saying that!) who are sitting pretty atop the division, and very nearly atop the conference (damn, those Rangers). Tim Thomas, goaltender extraordinaire, will start the NHL All-Star game for the East later this month and will be joined on the roster by Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin. By that time all the Brad Marchand nastiness will be a distant memory, except among members of the Vancouver Canucks, who need something to distract themselves from the fact that their own goalie is such a wuss that he was kept out of last weekend’s Stanley Cup Final rematch lest he crap his pants again. How tough is life for Roberto Luongo these days? So tough that he managed to score a goal for the opposing team last night. After blocking a shot by the Blues’ Jason Arnott, Luongo then swung himself back into position in front of the net, clueless that the puck which was caught in his pad was dropping free and across the line. The freak goal wasn’t really Luongo’s fault and the Canucks came back to win, but I still smiled when I watched the goal on YouTube. Almost as much as I smiled last night as the B’s beat the floundering Montréal Canadiens, whom Bruins radio play-by-play announcer Dave Goucher called “a team in disarray.” Good times, people. Good times.
One more quick hockey matter before I take leave. I recently ran across a photograph I hadn’t been able to put my hands on in several years, although I have told many people about it. Taken by the Den Son, it’s from our visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame in February 2001. For those who haven’t visited the Hockey Hall, the inductees are represented by frosted glass panels on which are etched the players’ likenesses and text summaries of their achievements. Naturally, I wanted pictures of myself with the panels of some of the great Bruins of my youth. When the film (yes, this was in the days when people still used film) came back from processing, I was surprised to see that one picture—that of me standing beneath Bobby Orr’s panel—looked different from the others, with the black etching on all the surrounding panels inexplicably ghosted out. I have frequently compared the picture to a miraculous vision, a holy apparition, like seeing an image of the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s as if the other players, outstanding though their careers were, were unworthy of being in Orr’s presence. Click to enlarge the image, which is an unedited scan of the original unaltered print.
And on that note, I’m off to prep for the weekend ahead. Hope yours is a good one, unless you’re rooting for the other teams.
(Note: Greater Boston readers might recall the title of this post as the name of a popular weekly radio program on WBZ-AM, back in the 1970s when ‘BZ was primarily a music station. Calling All Sports was just what it sounds like: a talk show in which all sports of interest to the listening area were discussed. It isn’t a stretch to say that it was the precursor to 24-hour sports radio in Boston, being on one of the oldest, most prestigious, and most listened-to stations in the country. During the decade when I became a big sports fan, I loved listening to Calling All Sports with my father, especially when they talked hockey and baseball. I use the name here with fondness and, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, a little bit of reverence.)