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Time Out for Sports Talk – Hot With Topics, But Temps Not So Much

Todd: The calendar is about to turn to March.  Spring is seemingly around the corner, and yet the polar vortex continues to hold its icy grip upon us.  As if this bizarre winter of 2014 hasn’t been bizarre enough, I can hardly wait for ten days from now when daylight savings time kicks in and we’ve got 7:00pm sunsets to go along with our subfreezing temperatures.

As I mentioned in our last blog, I AM SICK AND TIRED OF WINTER!!  This week I added an exclamation point to let you know I am super-serious.

I mean, really!!  I’ve had just about enough of wearing my heaviest sweaters, staring at piles of snow harder than concrete and higher than your average NBA player and swerving all over the road when I drive in order to avoid the sinkhole-sized potholes.

Meanwhile over in Sochi, the Winter Olympics just wrapped up with many spectators heading to the local beaches as temps soared into the sixties during the Games’ final week with not a flake of snow to be seen.  At this rate, I almost expect a massive blizzard to strike Rio de Janeiro come August of 2016.

Ok, enough weather talk…if you really wanted to hear about that, just turn on your local TV newscast.

Final thoughts about Sochi: I did start watching a little more of the events after USA-Russia hockey piqued my interest.  Following up on some of Mike’s comments from last week, I tried viewing some of the other events.

While I can do without the halfpipe, the snowboard and skiing ‘cross’ races with several participants going down the hill at once was fun to watch, if only because you’re waiting for a couple of them to crash or slide across the finish line.

Then there’s the hypnotic powers of watching shuffleboard-on-ice, a/k/a curling.  With sweeping brooms being such an important element of the sport, I often wonder how a team of janitors would fare.  Of course if they hailed from Norway they’d have to wear the loudest pants imaginable.

Another old-school winter sports that intrigues me every four years is the biathlon.  Ski a lot, shoot a little, trying to get that heart rate down quickly in order to accurately strike a target the size of a golf ball from about 50 yards away.  Maybe someday an American will medal in this event.  After all, I never imagined in my youth that we’d ever win any medals in bobsledding.  But after striking gold in Vancouver, Steven Holcomb helped Team USA win a couple of bronze in the two and four-man events.

It turned out to be a strange Games for the Americans.  While their 28 total medals was second only to the host Russians, it was less than the all-time record 37 medals they totaled four years ago.  But what was truly odd was failing to medal in both long-track speed skating (first time since 1984) and individual figure skating (first time since 1936), sports where Team USA used to excel.  If it wasn’t for X-Game-type events like ski slopestyle being introduced at Sochi this year, the Americans would have won only 19 total medals, finishing tied with Germany for fifth place overall.

Hockey was a bit of a disappointment for the red, white and blue, although certainly not as much as it was for the host nation and its leader.  But the men’s team started out so strong offensively and then suddenly couldn’t score at all in the medal round games (B’s goalie Tuukka Rask, playing for Finland, can be blamed for one of those games).  And even though the women’s hockey team won silver, it felt like more of a consolation prize after they led Canada 2-0 with less than four minutes remaining in the gold medal game.

Now back to non-olympic sports.  Yes, the Red Sox actually start playing spring training games today, although I suppose if you want to get technical the game don’t actually start to count until after they’ve completed their annual domination of Boston College and Northeastern.  Even after that, the spring training games technically don’t count either, but at least we’ll be able to watch players perform and we can start to make projections on how they’ll do individually and as a team.  Play ball!  More on the Sox next week.

Speaking of Tuukka, he stayed home while the Bruins opened their post-Olympic break schedule with a tough loss out in western New York to a woeful Buffalo squad.  But nothing to really worry about there.  As far as I’m concerned, the biggest worry facing the B’s is how they’ll fare come playoff time without Dennis Seidenberg’s presence on the blue line.  While a trade before next week’s NHL deadline could give Boston some defensive help, I don’t think there’s anyone currently available who can replace ‘Seids’.

Finally, oh those Celtics.  They keep trying to lose, and for the most part have done well in that area.  They were an impressive 0-for-3 out west last week against three teams (Lakers, Kings, Jazz) bunched around them in the Tankapalooza Division.  I’m still trying to figure what are the best odds for the Green to finish with a top three NBA lottery pick, but I feel without an advanced degree in statistics I’ll never be able to figure it out.

That’s all for me this week.  Guess I’ll let Mike bring it on home while I attend a birthday bash out in LA and forget to tell anyone.

Mike: Nice one Todd, making that Rajon Rondo reference!

And so, I guess I’ll start there. I can’t believe that Rondo is still the captain of the Celtics after pulling that stunt last week! Sure, he wasn’t going to play in Sacramento, but just blowing off the game to attend his own birthday party is not the move of a captain!

I realize the Celtics aren’t going anywhere this year, and that this is a small thing as “controversies” go, but it does speak to a player’s character. He put himself before the team, and that’s not what a captain does. He should be stripped of his captaincy for the rest of the season at a bare minimum.

Frankly, I think the team will move Rondo during the off season as they try and completely rebuild and use his expiring contract to get another piece of the puzzle.

Moving on to a team that I actually think has a chance this season, the Red Sox, despite the fact that they are facing a suit over the use of “B Strong“, are (finally) back in spring training and getting ready for one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory.

Sure the 2005 and 2008 seasons were also coming off World Series wins, but this one seems a bit different for some reason. I think it’s partially because last season was so special, coming from last place to first combined with the emotion from the Marathon bombing, that it will be hard to be topped.

But this is an intriguing team coming into Fort Myers this spring. There are very few openings in the lineup, with the biggest question left unanswered being the fate of Stephen Drew. But even that question isn’t a really burning one, as it seems that the Sox are content to go into the season with budding superstar Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third.

I like how this team is made up, I like the fact that there is a nice mix of young players and veterans. And while I would be hard pressed to predict that they will catch lightning in a bottle once again and make a run to a World Series title, I will say that they should be in the mix all season and make for another fun summer in New England!

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