By Michael Felger
Trust me, folks.
There's only one way to watch international soccer.
Felger,Your duality is in full effect today, my man. The self-described liberal dancing around his sunroom in his underwear loving the USA soccer glory. Meanwhile, the jingoistic isolationist decries all of the other "backwards" countries as cheats and floppers, less manly than our vaunted American heroes. Toss in your misogyny, PETA hatred and distain for everyone under 35, and you could be mini-Rush. I guess the Wood working over at FOX is rubbing off on you, dude. I think you need to get back in tune with a bootlegged Dead show, smoke a few and try to reconcile this psychic schism of yours.JJ
I'm not your typical liberal weenie, JJ. I have little use for the rest of the world. In fact, I find most of it backward, disorganized and corrupt. Think FIFA. Or Italy. Or South America. And I find the way those places play soccer (the faking, the flopping) abhorrent. But you're right about one thing: I do have a house with a sunroom. And I did, in fact, watch the USA-Algeria game in my boxers. And I did, indeed, dance around my sunroom in my underwear for a solid minute after the final whistle. That's how I roll.
Felger, I hope you got your popcorn ready for Friday night's NHL draft. Because you and I both know that, as poorly run a franchise as they are, there's no way in the galaxy we live in that the Bruins can screw up with the number 2 pick on Friday. Now, if they trade the player they pick (hopefully Taylor Hall) in two years like Joe Thornton, then we can officially start calling for the heads of Bruins ownership!MattyFramingham
You realize that Jeremy Jacobs can't get fired, right Matty? Can't trade him either. He owns the team.
Chiarelli is another matter, of course, but I think it's going to be hard to really put his feet to the fire if this draft pick doesn't work out. There isn't a team in the league that doesn't have Hall and Sequin ranked in the top two. Chiarelli is simply going to select the guy that every other GM in the NHL would take. It'd be pretty unfair to say he blew it if the pick flames out. It's sort of like when the Pats took Ken Sims first overall in 1982. Sims was a bust, but he was the consensus No. 1 guy across the league. Every team in the league would have taken him. As far as Patriots draft failures go, you have to look at that one a little differently.
Felger You DB!A week ago today we saw the Celtics bid for an 18th NBA title dissolve courtesy of the L.A. Lakers. Three things made that loss especially hard to swallow:1. The way that a Game Seven was officiated in the fourth quarter, as opposed to the first three. That's a horse has been beaten into so much Elmer's that noting more needs to be said. 2. The fact that the reprehensible, alleged sex offender, Kobe Bryant, was going to be again (serviced) by a sycophantic national media. Case in point: Chris Broussard's electronic (servicing), claiming Bryant was now a better Laker than Magic. 3. (and most important) The window for title contention seemingly slammed shut on the C's after only three years. It's this third lesson that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli needs to pay special attention to. Because while the days of the Celtics as a legitimate title contender are at an end, the Bruins run for a Stanley Cup begins tomorrow. And unfortunately for the Bruins, in the NHL the window to win a Cup is even smaller and less forgiving. Due to the urgent nature of building a champion in the NHL, Chiarelli will have to do the exact opposite of what he's made a Bruins best practice since he's became GM: Playing it safe. Aside from Chiarelli's first year in Boston, I think his run as GM has been less than spectacular. First and foremost, his biggest problem is that he is too afraid to let a player walk come contract time. In the NHL, where re-signing your own players gives you no advantageous cap relief, overpaying for past and or average performance has been a Chiarelli hallmark. PC hands out multiyear deals like polygamists exchange vows. This fear of letting a player walk has PC repeatedly turning what should be good short-term deals into liabilities with the frequency of a Ned Ryerson appearance on Groundhog Day. Chiarelli acquires player. Come contract time, Chiarelli overpays player. And soon after, Chiarelli needs to dump player. It's pretty brutal. Aaron Ward, Chuck Kobasew and Derek Morris (MF: don't forget Dennis Wideman) all are victims of a GM that is much too quick to lock up largely replaceable talent. And Ryder, Thomas, Ference and newly extended Marc Savard all seem to be likely candidates to get sent to Logan with bags packed full of Jeremy Jacobs' cash. Mikey, you simply can't win in today's NHL this way. And even on the eve of PC's greatest personnel triumph, I have to remind everyone that we have the second overall pick in tomorrow's entry draft largely by accident. If PC had his way, the B's would have swapped Phil Kessel for Thomas Kaberle and last year's seventh overall pick. Instead, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke left PC at the alter on draft day and then inexplicably overpaid for the restricted Kessel later. Hell, you even have to wonder if Kessel would have been dealt at all if he wasn't dead set on getting out of town. Even the deal that brought Nathan Horton yesterday was luck born from misfortune. If the B's closed out the Flyers like they should have, they'd be picking 28th and probably would not have had enough to get Dale Tallon's best forward. Look, Mikey, the Blackhawks won the Cup this year with a combination of clutch drafting, solid trades and elite free-agent signings. For the past three years, they worked the current NHL system about as well as you can. And yet hours after drinking from the Cup, they cut major salary to make this year's cap. We get three years of Hall or Seguin on a rookie deal and then, like the Hawks with Kane and Toews, the window shuts. Maybe with Cam breathing down his neck, PC will now be forced out of his comfort zone. Maybe this is the year that PC makes that deadline deal that puts the B's over the top. But is a GM operating under duress a good thing? Given PC's track record, I simply don't believe that he has the daring or the vision to take full advantage of the B's current good fortune and transform an underperforming pretender into the powerhouse that brings the Cup back to Boston after 41 years.I should be psyched that the B's have stumbled into such good fortune tomorrow Mike, but unless there is a real change in leadership, I think it might just be another wasted opportunity. MikeAttleboro
What an opus. And I have similar doubts, Mikey. But I'll answer one of your questions directly. Is a "GM operating under duress" a good thing? In this case, absolutely. This organization needs one thing above all else, and that's urgency. The way Chiarelli and Julien reacted after the Flyers loss was terrifying. Like it was a matter of injuries or bad breaks. Yes, those were factors. But only a team with fundamental flaws loses a series like that, and you have to wonder if the Jacobs recognize it. They aren't exactly hands-on, you know. Jeremy is in Buffalo and Charlie is new to this. The gap between ownership and Chiarelli was just too big. Now Cam is there to goose the people that need it. Something tells me we won't be hearing about the Bruins being only one of five teams in the NHL to make the second round two years in a row anytime soon.
So, yes, I'd like to see what Chiarelli does with some pressure on him. Because I'm with you: What he's done with no pressure is not good enough.
Felger,The Celtics were robbed. 37 free throws vs. 17. The refs stole the game from them. David Stern will sit and do nothing because his player won. Terrible.TomPlymouth
I guess in some very small way I'm partly responsible for this sentiment. I've been as vocal as anyone about NBA officiating. It's not as bad as soccer, but it's still incompetent andor corrupt nonetheless. But that's not why the Celtics lost Game Seven. They lost because they couldn't rebound and stopped playing offense in the second half.
Hey, FelgerSo we should sign Joe Johnson to replace Paul Pierce? Replace a guy who plays biggest when we need him most with a guy who came up smallest when HIS team needed him most (12 points per game in this year's conference semifinals). Please! Joe Johnson is the quintessential now-you-see-me, now-you-don't player. Do yourself a favor and stick to hockey, will you?Kez
My go-to guy for all NBA information is Gary Tanguay, Kez. And according to the Tang God, Ainge LOVES Joe Johnson. Always has. So if this happens, remember where you heard it first. And remember not to shoot the messenger.
Mikey being Mikey, So Felger, I heard you went to the ballgame on Saturday to watch the Sox and the Dodgers. As I listened to you tell the story, you mentioned missing Manny's first at-bat, being present for his second one, and missing his third because, as you put it, you were "drinking beer in the concourse" and "playing grab-ass." So even though you attended as a "fan," as a sports writer paid to pay attention to local issues -- and certainly, given your yammering on Manny's return to Boston, you have a strong, "informed" opinion -- you were about as engrossed in the game as the average Pink-Hat being interviewed by Toucher and Rich. Great. Glad you opined so fervently on this issue, big fella. Then, while debating the so-called "boo-worthiness" of Manny -- a World Series MVP, hitting machine, and the best right-handed bat Boston has ever had -- you mention how, since the folks seated around you were booing too much, so you decided to clap. Nice. In other words, if the fans around you were clapping, you would have booed? For all of the non-stop dithering by yourself and that BBWAA munchkin at your side (who actually dedicated four straight days of his show to this crap), you decided to just be your usual dingus self and play the a-hole, the contrarian, the guy that shows he cares so very little for what folks think of him that we just know you get off on being disliked. As you would say, you took a steaming dump upon the debate, which to me, is fantastic and perhaps your finest moment! How many uninformed pinkies booed or cheered because, like our resident expert, they really had no opinion other than to get involved? All of these folks talking about the reaction to Manny failed to recognize the sad fact that many in the crowd were, in some ways, being just like Mike: Throwing an opinion against the wall just for the hell of it, to see if it stinks or sticks. You're right Mikey, people do suck.James Boston
A pretty solid character assassination, James. Dingus? BBWAA munchkin? Brilliant!
But you're right. I did just want to contribute to the noise of the moment, because I loved it. The passion Manny evokes, as evidenced by the fan reaction and by e-mails like yours, is the best part of this story. People had the right to cheer for what he accomplished. People had the right to boo for the way he carried himself as a professional. Others, like myself, had the right to just enjoy the moment. I don't blame anyone for doing any of those things. If that makes me a fraud, then so be it. (And am I not allowed to play grab ass in the concourse?)
Felger, You're funny. Fortunately, no one can take your commentary on Manny's return to Fenway seriously. Did he deserve applause for what he gave to the fans of Boston? Of course. But did he deserve applause for acting like a jerk and getting out of town the way he did? Of course not. More than that, the media has worked to gin up the response to Manny -- showing more of his antics than his homers, more "Manny Being Manny" than graphics showing the difference Manny and Papi made when they were the 3-4, Bash Brothers of Boston. If I had been there, I would have applauded, because he delivered the goods. At the same time, my voice would have been booing for the divisively unpleasant Manny who forced his way out.LeeFort Plain, NY
Boo and clap at the same time? Why didn't I think of that?
Felger, I realized you truly are a D-Bag, Felger, after hearing your horrible comments about how pit bulls are not dogs. It's the owners who treat them and raise them wrong that make them aggressive. I've seen Labs that will attack you if they are raised in the wrong way. Stick to sports, D-bag!Jeremy
Do I really have to go back and do this again? I pretty much covered it all here.
I'm sure there's a petition you can sign against me somewhere, Jeremy.
Felger and Mazz, This talk reminds me of the glory days, back when I played soccer:Score a goal, halftime comes around and I eat some oranges my mom cut up. Turns out the goal I score is in my own net and we lose 1-to-nil. I go home and play in my sandbox . . . WILL YOU GUYS SHUT UP ABOUT SOCCER! GIVE ME A BREAK. ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO PRETEND TO GET INTO PING PONG DURING THE PING PONG WORLD CUP? CUT IT OUT, WILL YA?!GIVE ME A BREAK AND GET BACK TO TALKING HOCKEY!JimWorcester
P.S. I will admit, though. Soccer is better than basketball, which sucks and is fake.
Way to redeem yourself, Jim.
And on that lovely note we hit the beach. That's right: Vacation, where I can watch my soccer in my sunroom in peace.
Talk to you in a couple of weeks.
Felger's weekly column appears Tuesdays. E-mail him HERE and read his mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.