Saturday, July 05, 2008

What's in a name

I alluded to this in one of my posts during the NBA playoffs. I alluded to the fact that the TD Banknorth Garden is always just going to be the Bahstin Gahden to me.


The Gahden is the home of the Celtics, the Bruins, and the Bean Pot.

You have the Old Gahden and the New Gahden. But it will never be the Banknorth Garden to me.

Not because I have something against corporate naming of a stadium, but because of some displaced thought that it ruins the game, or some aspect of the game. No, for the most part, it doesn't bother me - sure 3Com Park doesn't have the ring or the charm of Candlestick Park, but people need to remember, corporate naming is not a new thing. Where do they think Wrigley Park got its name? A little reminder - the same company that brought you the chewing gum.

It wasn't always limited to where a team played either.

The Green Bay Packers were named for the Cheese Packing company that owned the team at the very beginning.

The bottom line is some names work - Gillette, Wrigley, Tropicana Field isn't bad - some don't, but aren't bad when shortened, like Lincoln Financial Field's shortened version - The Linc (although some, like Tropicana being called The Trop, I like that). I don't even mind FedEx Field. But this isn't even about that.

I don't mind the corporate name. I really don't.

My problem is that it's just not where the Celtics or Bruins play.

Try, for a second, to imagine the Red Sox playing at SAIC Stadium at Fenway Park, or the Yankees at Merrill Lynch Stadium. It's not that the names are bad, it just somehow doesn't feel right.

Just something to think about.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No...I haven't been on vacation

Just very, very busy this week.

A little background for those of you who don't know...I worked as a staff writer for a community newspaper in Western Maryland for a couple of years, and have been in journalism either part or full-time since 1996 when the short-lived Boston Chronicle had me covering the Red Sox. That's right - my first professional gig as a writer was covering the Red Sox.

Twelve years later I am a stay-at-home dad and a free-lance writer. That's stay-at-home to a six year old and ten month old (first birthday hits at the end of August).

In that twelve years I have written hundreds of articles, covered everything from board of ed meetings and sports to business and the entertainment industry. Until last year, that was all newspaper writing. Last year I wrote an article on the two-year impact of Supreme Court ruling in Granholm v. Heald on the business of mid-Atlantic wineries (primarily as it pertains to distribution and direct shipping to the consumer). The article was for the trade magazine Wine Business Monthly's Web site.

After a number of months freelancing for some small community newspapers, and doing some Web-editing and writing, this week an article that I wrote on Maryland's surviving drive-in theater hit the stands in Maryland Life Magazine.

Between checking the magazine to see how the article looked in print, I have been teaching Kung-fu at a Chinese cultural day camp for an hour and a half each day for the last two weeks (in addition to the normal classes I teach on Tuesday and Thursday evenings), running the kids to story time at the local bookstore (and other kid-friendly events), and, of course, covering my weekly deadlines for the freelance I'm picking up from the local papers, I have had absolutely no time to blog this week - typically I haven't been able to until night when I am no longer able to organize my thoughts (my wife would argue that's all the time...don't listen to her...really).

One last family note before I get started - my eldest, Aurora, is currently on a Harry Potter kick. She listens to the books on tape every night before bed. Every morning she eats breakfast with me while I try to get some of my writing out of the way. In the background I will have some form of sports playing, whether ESPN, or Fox radio, she (a real girly-girl for the most part) gets a healthy dose of sports.

So she was playing yesterday, my wife tells me, and was well entrenched in Harry Potter land - specifically the Malfoy family (those of you who have read or seen the movies know who they are) along with in-law Bellatrix LeStrange. Suddenly my wife heard my daughter say, "and then Bellatrix yelled, 'oh no! IT's the Patriots! And the Red Sox are with them!"

Yeah...I love my daughter.

Quick thoughts...

  • Good for Roger Goodell, finally saying what everyone out there knows - rookie contracts, particularly for the top ten draft picks are absolutely ridiculous. Making the first draft pick the highest paid offensive lineman in the league without ever seeing if he really can play in the league is the epitome of ludicrous, and a change needs to be made. It should be an interesting negotiation to get that changed, as the Union won't let that happen without a fight - even though many members agree that it needs to change.
  • I think I might amend my earlier sentiment in regards to the Rays. I still maintain there's a lot of youth on that team that could fade down the stretch, but I think the Red Sox made that less likely. It's not the sweep itself at the Trop that's the issue, but the way in which the bullpen coughed up the lead like an emphasymic smoker hacks up wads of phlegm and blood. It was the sort of win for the Rays that can give a young team that might still have some nagging doubts faith that they're in it for the long haul.
  • If the Sox make the post-season this year, it's because Jon Lester became the Man. In his last nine games - games bookended by Lester's 7-0 no-hit win over Kansas and his 7-0 shut-out of the Yankees at the Stadium, the team is 7-2, Lester is 5-1 with two complete games and a 2.52 ERA. That's in spite of one bad outing where he gave up six earned in five innings. Not including that bad start in Houston (which happens to even the best of them) his ERA through the other eight games? 1.94.
  • A little more on the Man - he has won five of his last six decisions. In those six decisions he has a 1.25 ERA and averaged 7.1 innings and had the aforementioned two complete games, the second following the bullpen melt down that lost Daisuke Matsuzaka a win. Second in wins on the team with seven, Lester, not Beckett, has been the anchor in the absence of Matsuzaka, with an ERA less than a tenth of a run higher than Dice's, almost half a run lower than Beckett's and taking over team lead in starts, innings pitched, complete games, and ERA based on a minimum of 86 innings pitched. He might not have started the season this way, but over the last nine or ten starts, he's been an all-star.
  • One thing I can say about this team - they sure know how to pick up the slack. At least everywhere but the 'pen. Matsuzaka goes down, Lester begins pitching like an Ace, and Justin Masterson pitches well enough to give the team a chance with each outing. Pig Papi goes down, JD Drew has a career month, Jason Varitek tailspins into the worst slump of his career and Dustin Pedroia goes on a tear where he's batting over .500 and nearly hits for the cycle against the Rays, Manny slumps and Youklis finds himself on pace for 100 runs (second time in his career) and 100 RBI's (first time in his career). That doesn't mean he'll get there, but, barring injury, he should finish the season with a career high in runs batted in.
  • I think the real Sid Ponson just stood up. Ponson was acquired once before by the Yankees to disastrous results - In 2006 Ponson appeared in five games for the team with three starts, logging only 16.1 innings, and putting up an inspiring 10.47 ERA. It should be interesting to see if the Yankees, who are desperately short of quality starting pitching (the leading ERA among qualifying starters - Mike Mussina's pedestrian 3.87. None of the other qualifying starters has an ERA below 4.00), can find a way to rectify this problem. A lot of the ESPN analysts like to say that the issue for the Yanks is offense and not pitching, but the fact is, when most of your starters have ERA's over 4.00, your offense has kept you in a lot of games.
One last note - I recently submitted a tee-shirt design to for consideration. For those of you who don't know, Threadless takes designs that get the highest average score based on votes from Web-heads like us, and prints them up. I appreciate any help my faithful readers can give me in getting higher scores. Anyone who can help me out, click on the link below -

My Submission