The Daytona 500 Was Fixed, And Other Miscellaneous Monday Thoughts

Gerry Callahan is fearless.

Only he has the integrity to call out NASCAR and shine a light on the fact that its biggest event of the year was fixed.

This morning he insisted that there was an arrangement in place to ensure that Danica Patrick finished in the top 10. He said that other racers were instructed not to bump her car and that the neon green paint of the car assisted other drivers in letting her have the position. He stated that it’s really all about the car, and Danica was provided with a car that guaranteed a top-10 finish, and was surrounded by a gifted team which really was responsible for the showing. Danica, he said, isn’t a very good driver, and that this was simply a reward by NASCAR for all that she has done for the sport.

When asked by Kirk Minihane if he was joking, Callahan repeated his points.

OK then. WEEI, once again on the cutting edge. Clearly they’re about to turn this ratings thing around.

How long can the three-man morning last? Things are going to come to a head soon there. It’s inevitable. Maybe that was the plan all along.

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Last week I railed on the combine, questioning why outlets send their whole crews out there. I guess I was speaking from the reader/viewer perspective, as the experience is largely useless from that standpoint. For the media, it’s an important networking event. They meet executives, agents, other media people, form relationships, groom sources. It lays a foundation for future material. The player stuff is largely an afterthought.

All that said, the best column from the combine that I’ve read was a Friday feature from Tom E Curran:

2011 NFL Combine a bad scene for Mallett; was it fair?

It is a fascinating look at the grilling Ryan Mallett received at the combine two years, and is especially interesting in light of the session from Manti Te’o from this year’s combine.

Media types like Mike Florio and Jason Cole come off as complete asses in the story. They kill Mallett for talking to the media about the drug rumors around him, as Mallett said he would only talk about that subject with the teams that he met with. A perfectly reasonable stance. Why in the world would he talk to the media about it? Yet, Cole and Florio (and others) come off as entitled, whiny, self-appointed guardians of the gate. Some interesting stuff from Mallett’s agent and also from Gil Brandt, who suggests that agents routinely start smear campaigns at these events to hurt players who might be in competition with their own clients for draft position.

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Dan Shaughnessy’s last seven columns:

  • It’s hard to get excited about these Red Sox
  • How much like J.D. is Stephen Drew?
  • Ben Cherington merits blame too
  • Red Sox put all the blame on Bobby Valentine
  • No chance Jacoby Ellsbury is staying with Red Sox
  • Downsized expectations for Red Sox’ Mike Napoli
  • Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez still complaining about Boston

Anyone sense a pattern here?

I understand low expectations for this team. But these are the stories that “represent the interests of the fan?” (as Dan claims that the media does.)

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Hard not to be impressed with the job Brian Scalabrine does on the game broadcasts. He’s good. His insight into the makeup of the team, and his ability to interpret the moves of Doc Rivers is outstanding. It’s even on little things. He mentioned on Friday and last night about Rivers playing newcomers Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford at the same time. Initially you might think it would be tough to have two guys who just joined the team on the floor at the same time. Scalabrine pointed out that in the past, when new guys would join the team, Rivers and the coaching staff would show them just a few plays at a time in the walk-through or practice, so that in the game, they would know the same plays. They would both be at the same level. Small things, but an interesting insight into the workings of the club.

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I also enjoyed Cedric Maxwell’s calm, patient smackdown of Michael Felger in this CSNNE video. Felger starts out demanding to know what happened to Danny Ainge’s “sack” and goes downhill from there.

Predictably, Dennis and Callahan also hated Lee Jenkins’ feature on Rajon Rondo in Sports Illustrated, mostly because it was positive. They hated that it made him look like a great point guard and didn’t portray him as a selfish assist-seeking punk, and that it didn’t run down all the flaws in his game, like that he cannot shoot at all.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 62 vs. the Hawks

Celtics (46-15) vs. Atlanta (38-25)
February 26, 1980
Hartford Civic Center

The Celtics traveled to the newly opened Hartford Civic Center for a road game with Hubie Brown’s Atlanta Hawks to continue a tough stretch of games for the Green.  After traveling for a five game road trip, making stops with Western Conference staples in Seattle, Portland, and Phoenix, Bill Fitch was on record that he considered this stretch a seven game road trip: five on the road, one “home” game in Hartford, and a tough match-up back at the Garden with the San Antonio Spurs.  Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe reported on Fitch’s philosophy:

Fitch contends that the Celtics are off on a seven-game road jaunt. There are five indisputable road games… [including] the tough Atlanta Hawks.

“We’d better put our road faces on for that one,” Fitch says.  “That’s the equivalent of a road game.”  He’s right, of course.  Traditionally, the Celtics view these home-away-from-home games in Hartford, Providence, Springfield, etc. with all the enthusiasm of a vegetarian ordering up a Big Mac.  Finally, there is the home game of Wednesday, Feb. 27.  Fitch is a firm believer in the theory that states that the first home game after a long road trip is actually the last game of the road trip.  Presto – a seven-game road trip.

With the way the Celtics were playing, however, it really didn’t matter where the game was held.  Boston ripped through Atlanta, 108-97, to improve to 4-1 against the Hawks.  The win stretched the C’s winning streak to three games, and the team was paced by a dominant effort from the front line.  Cedric Maxwell finished with 15 points and 9 boards before fouling out, but Larry Bird (25 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists) and Rick Robey (27 points, 13 rebounds) dominated Atlanta’s big men.  Nate Archibald and Chris Ford kept feeding the ball to the big men, combining for a dozen assists, and even though Pete Maravich did not make an impact (4 minutes, 2 points), the Celtics remained successful — and picked up their first victory in Connecticut, as Bob Ryan noted in that next day’s Globe, in years:

Last night’s game at the Civic Center marked Boston’s first appearance here since the infamous roof collapse in January 1978. In their last game in the “old” building, which seated 3000 less than the rebuilt edifice, they were beaten by the Phoenix Suns as Paul Westphal (43) and Walter Davis (40) shot them down…

The game also marked the return of Dave Cowens to the lineup.  Fitch promised that he would easy Cowens back into the rotation, and the head coach was good to his word: Cowens logged fourteen minutes off the bench.  In order to make room on the roster, Don Chaney was placed on the five game injured list.  Remarkably, he managed to pull a hamstring at the exact moment the Celtics proclaimed Cowens was ready to return.

The Celtics returned home — this time to the Garden — for a game the very next night with the San Antonio Spurs.

 

 

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Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 61 vs. the Nuggets

Celtics (45-15) vs. Denver (24-40)
February 23, 1980
McNichols Sports Arena

The Celtics wrapped up a five game road trip by making quick work of the Denver Nuggets, 124-105.  The win improved the C’s to 20-11 on the road.

Looking to build another winning streak to help distance themselves in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, particularly from Philadelphia (44-17), the Celtics relied on a team effort that produced seven scorers in double figures.  There were also three players (Larry Bird, Cedric Maxwell, and Rick Robey) who also recorded double digits in rebounds, as the C’s hit the glass and out-boarded the Nuggets, 58-35.  The Celtics also produced 69 first half points and continued to display their willingness to share the ball, registering 34 assists (nine by Archibald, eight from Bird).

Cedric Maxwell led the team with 19 points.  Paired on the floor with Tiny Archibald, Pete Maravich had his best performance, showcasing his ability to score in bunches, finishing with 14 points on 5-7 shooting in only 16 minutes.  Bird had another tremendous outing, refusing to let up on his domination of the league.  He finished with a line of 15/8/8, just shy of recording another triple-double. [Read more…]