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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We Have Moved to Beantown Chowder!

Dear Ultimate Boston readers.... we have moved! DRob and company have started up a new Boston blog that will hopefully build on the legacy left by Ultimate Boston. It was a good run, but you now all need to bookmark the new blog! BEANTOWN CHOWDER! The full URL is listed below. I hope you enjoy!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Opportunity at Bleacher Report

Hey guys. It's been a while since I've really been into this thing. To be honest, I am not sure if the Ultimate Boston days will rise again at some point. Lately, I have been pursuing the chance to write articles for Bleacher Report, a well-known sports writing website.

I really want you guys to hang around and hear what I have to say. If the NBA comes back, you may see Ed B back on his Ultimate Boston grind. Unless something goes wrong at Bleacher Report, though, I'll be dedicating most of my time to that. So here's what I'm going to do.

This is the link to my Bleacher Report profile page. I would love for you guys to make an account and become a fan of me. That would be totally awesome.

Below are the links to the 7 articles I've posted on Bleacher Report so far. I'd love for you guys to check those out, too. The more views I get, the more medals I can earn, and the more publicity that comes from it.

(Posted today) Rettig, Kuechly Lead Boston College Past Miami in Season Finale
(Posted today) Tim Tebow: Why Denver Broncos' QB Would Make Perfect Hybrid Halfback
(Posted yesterday) Why Bobby Valentine Is the Right Choice for the Boston Red Sox
(Posted yesterday) What to Expect From NFL Thanksgiving Day Matchups
(Posted Wednesday) How Boston College's Luke Kuechly Will Translate to the NFL
(Posted Wednesday... "hot read") 5 Things the New England Patriots Must Do to Win Their Fourth Super Bowl
(Posted Tuesday) 5 Reasons the Boston Bruins Will Make Another Run at the Stanley Cup

I appreciate any help you guys want to give me. Bleacher Report is a really cool site. I would even encourage any of you sports writers out there to try it yourself.

Check out my articles if you can, and I'm sure we'll be talking to you guys! You can always get in touch with me on the Ultimate Boston facebook page if nothing else.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Extra Point 10-31

In case you missed it, here is The Extra Point with Derek and John from 10-31-2011. The guys discuss the World Series, NCAA Football, NFL Football, Brady vs Manning, and much more. Every Sunday night at 9 PM ET.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Extra Point 10/23 (Audio Only)

Here's the 10/23 episode of The Extra Point with Derek & John, in case you missed it on Sunday night. This is raw audio only. Disregard the first two minutes when they were just preparing to go on the air. Make sure to "like" the show on its Facebook fan page.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/16: The Extra Point

In case you missed it, here is the recording of Derek and John on last night's edition of The Extra Point. Want to get involved for the next show? As always, you can send your tweets to @TheExtraPointDJ. In addition, you can interact and send your thoughts on our Facebook page, which has the two big topics for the week. Social Soundoff: Brady or Manning? Who's your guy -- Tom or Peyton? Post a video to the Facebook fan page or leave a video as a comment here. Or you can just write your comments on the page, tweet them at us -- whatever medium you choose. It's a social question for the people to gossip about, and we're going to play those interviews and thoughts in the show on Sunday. Poll of the Week: Who will win the BCS National Championship? Same goes here as for the Social Soundoff, but you can just vote on it too. Leave your thoughts or just click your vote on the Facebook page. Both of these topics will be discussed on Sunday night, and anyone who leaves their comments in audio or video form has a good chance of being heard on The Extra Point with Derek and John.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chaos in Red Sox Nation

There have certainly been better days to be a member of Red Sox Nation. Just weeks after suffering through the most historic collapse in the history of Major League Baseball, the old squad who holds down the Fenway fort has continued to spin through a whirlwind of turmoil, drama, and uncertainty. To be honest, I'm not even sure where to begin when I try to dissect what the hell is going on right now. So I'll just throw down random notes and eat some fried chicken. Beckett, Lackey, Lester -- you guys bring the beers!

Video Games, Fried Chicken, and Beers.
Now that the Sox have epically failed and fallen flat on their face, the true reasons have started to leak out to the media. On their off days, starting pitchers were throwing back brews in the club house, eating fried chicken, and playing XBox instead of staying in the dugout and supporting their team in its effort to win a baseball game. Supposedly these guys started doing that on September 1st, and they went 7-20 in the month as a direct result of that. Their 83-52 start to the season happened because the starting pitchers were supporting their squad in the dugout. It was only once they started eating chicken and drinking beer (oh no -- not in America...) that the team fell flat on its face.

If you can't pick up on my sarcasm, I'm trying to say that all of the media outrage about this is a little blown out of proportion. Do I condone the manager allowing this stuff? Hell no. I posted my gripes with Tito last week. Just scroll down the blog to see it. But is this the reason the Red Sox collapsed? Absolutely not. It's the guys drinking the beer and eating the chicken -- not the beer and the chicken itself -- that is the problem. So enough with all this nonsense. If fried chicken was the biggest problem the Sox had, life would be pretty damn good.

Tito's Marital Problems and Pill-Popping.
Okay, fine. So the beers and the chicken isn't the problem. But look! Tito had marital problems. And all those painkillers did him in. I mean, it's totally understandable. Managers spend time on the road with their teams every season. Same goes for the players, the staff, and everyone else. I get that. Trouble with relationships and marriages isn't all that uncommon with those situations. Travelling and separation can be big problems. Tito battled those problems all season. Hell, he's probably battled those issues as they built up over all the years he's been managing. I know that may be jumping to a conclusion, but here's the bottom line. No one was talking about Tito's marital issues after the Sox beat the Yanks on August 31st to move to 83-52 on the season. Trouble in a marriage has no reason to correlate directly to job performance. It hasn't done so in professional sports very frequently. So spare me that sob story. And as far as the pill-popping goes, I'm not quite sure. Maybe a little more radical drug choice would have amped the skipper up enough to get his players a little excited once in a while.

Theo Bolts Out of Town for Greener Pastures. Or Bluer Ones.
Theo Epstein wanted out of here, and he got his wish. Great job by Sox ownership to fight for the GM to stay. Cubs want him? Oh, alright... I guess you can have him. He hasn't done much for us. Only won us two titles. There are plenty of GMs out there who can bring in the players. I guess we'll just have to find one. Hey, hopefully they will. I'd love to see money-baller Billy Bean come to town or something like that. But really Theo? The Cubs? I know what people are thinking. He reversed our curse. He can reverse theirs. Maybe Tito will even follow him there and recreate the curse-breaking battery. Except here's the thing. Unless Theo plans to general manage until he's 92 years old, he won't be reversing the curse in Chicago. No way, no how. The Cubs are the Cubs and there is no changing that. Good luck, Theo.

Youk is Dating Brady's Sister.
I didn't know Tom Brady had a blind sister. But apparently he does, because she is dating Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox. Not only is Youk, guided by his US Army Tank, -- I mean, his chin -- the ugliest athlete in Boston, (okay, fine, Chara.) but he, according to all reports, is a complete dickhead and a clubhouse cancer. Wouldn't be surprised if he leaves town with the rest of the brigade this offseason. Which leads me to...

Big Papi Essentially Flips Boston the Bird and Sets Sights on Pinstripes.
You've all probably seen or heard about the interview by now, but David Ortiz basically said he doesn't want to be a part of the Sox "drama" again next season. Simultaneously, he praised the way things are always right in New York, how there is no drama, how it's a great place to play, and ultimately how he will "have to think about" playing there next season. Okay Papi. Do your thing. I don't know what world you're living in, but if you think going to the Yankees in the media hell that New York is will be a hall pass from all this "drama" and that things are always good -- well, you've got another thing coming. But yeah, I suppose things are always good there. They've won like nine titles in the last 10 years. Or one title. Something like that. They made it to the first round this year! Screw Boston... New York is where it's at. Fights with ownership (Jeter), washed up has-beens who think they're still hot (Posada), and early playoff departures (See: Every year except their WS run in '09). Have fun, Papi. You did steroids anyway. *(I have the right to take back all bad talk about Ortiz if he stays in Boston. Otherwise, let's go get Pujols with all that money.)

Who Knows What's Next?
I don't. I don't think anyone does. The first step is to get rid of John Lackey and Jason Varitek. By all reports, they are the guys who formed cliques within the Sox clubhouse more than anyone. Yeah, Beckett and Lester made some questionable character choices, too. But their performances somewhat balanced it out. When your production looks like that of Lackey or Varitek, that type of behavior doesn't cut it. The Sox need change. On that note, Wakefield needs to go, too. I love Wake. He's been an awesome Red Sox player for a long, long, long time. But enough is enough. The guy doesn't have it anymore. I'd love if he hung around as a bench coach or a mentor or a BP pitcher or something. I don't know. But he shouldn't be a regular in the rotation or the bullpen. He's run his course.

There will be plenty of excitement this offseason. A new GM and manager will take the reigns to facilitate the other changes. All I know is that I'm pretty thankful I'm a Boston fan and I can pay attention to the Bruins and the Patriots for the next six months. Because if we were only a baseball town, the winter road to April would be long and chaotic. Hey, Seguin's goal was pretty nice last night. Get ready for the Pats on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Listen Live at 7 PM

Listen to The Extra Point with Derek and John tonight at 7 PM. Click here to visit the page where you can download the audio stream. It's the first hour of the year for Derek and John and their new show. Callers will be accepted, so listen in for the number. We may post it here once we get there and know the number for sure.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blame It On Tito?

Cries from Red Sox nation are booming across social media waves today. Some are repulsed at the notion that Terry Francona may have managed his last game for the Boston Red Sox. Others are glad that the time may have finally come and are scouting the potential manager market already. I don't stand radically on either side of the spectrum, but I hinted at my feeling in the game day post before the fateful loss to Baltimore. Sorry, Tito. The blame may not be solely on you, but someone's gotta take the hit.

Look. Terry Francona had some great days behind the bench at Fenway. He broke the curse and added another ring in 2007. But Boston is a "what have you done for me lately" town, and Tito has done nothing for us lately. In the past three years, the Sox have played three playoff games. They lost all three, getting swept by the Angels in 2009. 2010 and 2011 were both campaigns that ended short of the postseason. Injuries in 2010? I'll give you that. Maybe not the most talented roster in '09? Fine. But what's the excuse in 2011? I'm not okay with putting it all on injuries this time around. Josh Beckett is a good starter, once an ace. Jon Lester is an ace. John Lackey has been a solid #3 his whole career -- why hasn't he been here? What's the reason for the obvious lack of chemistry and character in the clubhouse? Why are pitchers allowed to slug beers on their off days in the clubhouse? Most of the defenders of Francona are saying that the players didn't show up. They're pinning in on the character not being there. I'm sorry -- maybe I'm missing something -- but what is an MLB manager's job?

Let's think about that guy Bill Belichick. What do I notice about Bill Belichick teams? Even if they aren't always star-studded, even if they aren't in perfect shape, they are always ready to play. Mentally and physically, they are focused and ready. There is no sense of entitlement in that locker room -- every guy knows he needs to go out and earn it. Every guy is accountable. Every guy knows who the boss is, and they are going to do exactly what that boss tells them to do. The result? A cohesive unit. A unit that bonds together, because the coach won't take their antics. A unit that realizes the importance of their coach and would put their hearts on the line to win for him. That's what I see when I see the Patriots and Bill Belichick. A leader who absolutely inspires his bunch to be the best they can be every single night.

So I ask you -- did that culture develop because we got the right players? Did that happen because the players the Pats built a roster with are all intense, focused, hard-working guys who put the team first and buy into the system? Are we that good at assessing character? Or was that system built by the guy up top, molded each day by the man who is monitoring all clubhouse operations as well as the operations on the football field? Speak for yourself, but I can say with absolute certainty that Bill Belichick built that awesome environment. When the environment and chemistry is good, we praise the coach for setting the bar.

That environment, as we can all agree, was horrendous with the 2011 Boston Red Sox. They didn't put their hearts on the line every night. They didn't act as a cohesive unit, having each other's backs when adversity strikes. They weren't mentally or physically ready for the grinds of the critical moments. The environment isn't there. Pitchers can slug beers in the clubhouse knowing that other guys have to work today -- not me. I'm entitled to my day off here. I already did my job, why isn't someone else stepping up? Accountability is nonexistent on this team. It has been for the last three seasons. Sure, you have guys like Pedroia and Papelbon who will admit when they blow it and stress the fact that they need to step up. But I'm talking about the unit as a whole. No one gets held accountable and they sure as hell aren't ready to play every night. They never wore their heart on their sleeve for the skipper.

Maybe you think it's a bad comparison, but I think it correlates pretty well. Why is the coach praised in the case of good chemistry but not held accountable when things go poorly? Why is it not Terry Francona's fault that this team is never ready to play? Is Theo just horrible at judging character? These guys are all shmucks who will never work out, then. That must be it. Belichick doesn't create an amazing team structure -- they just have the right players. The Sox have the wrong ones. Nothing the manager can do there.

Or is that the manager's job? To get his players ready every game, to have them mentally and physically conditioned for any situation, to form a cohesive unit, and to develop a common goal that every guy in that clubhouse will do anything to achieve? To me, that's the manager's job. Joe Maddon has a hell of a lot less talent in that locker room down in Tampa, but he has those guys playing better than the Sox stars. Imagine what he could do to this team? Players are never held accountable and they just go through the motions with this Sox teams. Hell, if a Patriots player ever did what John Lackey does on a regular basis, he'd be cut before he could untie his cleats. That's just a fact.

Long story short, I believe a change was needed. Francona worked well with the Idiots of 2004 and the squad in 2007. Those teams had each other's backs and had great character. He managed the locker room nicely. But it's clear that he has struggled to do the same with this bunch. Is Theo at fault for bringing in players who don't fit in Francona's framework? Maybe. But the past is the past. Gonzalez and Crawford are owed $140 million. You can't just cut them. No starting from scratch. The only path I see here is chipping away at the problem. You gotta find someone who can get these guys to play. You have the raw materials. These players were all very talented and very successful in their previous locations. Why aren't they playing here? Like I said -- an MLB manager has a few jobs. Getting his players to play hard, play smart, and play to the best of their abilities are three of the most critical requirements of the position.

Lately, you've done nothing for me. That's what gets you run out of this town. The Sox have been notoriously forgiving with that topic. We don't give up on guys easily -- we keep them around for what they did. Why is Wake still here? He's been a great player throughout his Sox career. Ditto for Varitek. But why the hell are they still here? They can hardly play the game. There are a few times I can recall the Red Sox dumping someone for a recent failure. Grady Little. Nomar Garciaparra. You guys, thanks for everything -- but you're gone. Funny how both departures quickly translated into our first World Series title.

You can't be afraid to make changes. If Belichick had consecutive losing seasons, I would expect him to be on the hot seat. What have you done for me lately? We want titles now. Tito, you were a great manager at times. But you're not getting the job done. You're not getting these guys to play. Thanks for everything, but we'll find someone who can do the job.

I know some people will harshly disagree with my view, but I encourage to you ask yourself what an MLB manager's job really is. You don't call a play from the playbook on fourth and two. You don't design an inbounds play with 2 seconds left to win on a buzzer beater. You don't construct forechecking schemes and power plays to execute in the third period. You make a lineup, get it ready, and play the game. Make pitching changes and send in pinch hitters. Sac bunts (Tito? Yeah right.) and small ball (Tito? Yeah right.). But the biggest responsibility is having your baseball team ready to play. If you can honestly tell yourself that Tito successfully had his team ready to play, then so be it. You win, I guess. Let me just schedule you a doctor's appointment before you leave.

The future is uncertain. We'll see what happens, I guess.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And Then There Was #162

Go Yankees is right. For one night, we can only pray that the New York Yankees win themselves a ball game.

That isn't the only part that is right about this man's cardboard sign, though. Meltdown. Enjoy your meltdown. Boston has suffered through exactly that in the past month. Having blown a 10-game wild card lead to the Rays, the Red Sox would re-write the definition of "limping" into the playoffs if they manage to secure the final American League berth.

So it goes to game #162 to decide it -- and that's not just in the American League. In addition to the Sox and Rays being deadlocked after 161 contests, the Braves and Cardinals of the National League find themselves in the same exact situation. It's pretty remarkable, really. Each and every sports fan has, at some point in their journey, discussed the notion that 162 games may be a bit ridiculous for a sports season. But if nothing else, one would argue, it gives a large enough sample size that there could be no doubting who the best four teams in each league are. 162 is plenty, right?

Maybe not this year, and maybe not in either of the two leagues in Major League Baseball.

One-game playoffs may be needed in both leagues after the final day of the 2011 (all but) regular season. Can the Sox do it? Can they avoid what would rival the Bruins of 2010, the Yankees of 2004, and several other collapses as one of the worst in recent memory? It rides on the arm of Jon Lester tonight, who takes his 14-0 lifetime record against  the Baltimore Orioles to the hill at Camden Yards.

I'm not a fortune teller, so I cannot say whether or not Boston will be popping champagne, moping in the corner, or preparing themselves for a one-game showdown by the time tonight is through. I cannot say whether Jon Lester will shut down the Orioles or whether he will lay an egg in their nest. As a sports blogger, I don't bother trying to predict what will happen (well, okay.. maybe just for NFL picks). Rather, why don't we look at why it's happening and what strategies may have or could still avoid it?

The biggest question everyone is asking regards the issue of blame. Whose fault is this horrid collapse that could make this season one of the most disgraceful in Sox history? Is it Theo Epstein for assembling this roster? Is it Terry Francona for failing to put that roster in positions to win ball games? Or is it on the players for failing to win the ballgames with those chances they're being provided? It would be foolish to say that the blame falls solely on one of these entities, but it may be equally foolish to suggest that it's an even three-way split.

The easy answer is to blame the players. They're the ones out there performing every night, winning or losing the games. Sox fans have been angered in the past month by the lack of intensity, emotion, and heart that this entire squad has shown. Did Theo assemble a group of shmucks who don't give a rat's ass about winning? Are they all just personally incapable of stepping up to the big stage? Or has their coach instilled an even-keel mindset into the team that has rendered them unable to get hyped when the bell rings?

Enough hypothesizing and questioning. First, I'm not blaming Theo. The general manager's job, when it comes to building the roster, is to provide the pieces. That's it. Provide the pieces that your coaching staff of choice can work with to win a championship. Has he done that? I believe so. I understand that the pitching rotation has suffered incredible injuries, but I believe this team has the talent to overcome those issues. The Boston Red Sox of September 28th, 2011 have enough talent to win. They are a playoff caliber roster. Theo did his job.

So how can I blame Francona? The guy has delivered our two championships. The only two in a million years, for all intents and purposes. Doesn't that give him a free pass? In my view, no. That's the reality of Boston. Folks, you all accepted the new nickname this year. We're the City of Champions, oh yeah! Well, the reality is, this is a "what have you done for me lately?" kind of town. If we're the City of Champions, we aren't satisfied with 2 titles for the Red Sox, 1 for the Celtics, 1 for the Bruins. We aren't satisfied with 7 years of championship-free football from the Patriots. When things go poorly, change is necessary. I digress from the situation at hand, though -- the bottom line is that Terry Francona's time here has potentially run its course.

He has done a great job managing egos and personalities with the teams he has had since coming here. The titles in 2004 and 2007 were memorable teams that he was able to keep level-headed and in check all season long. But let's be honest -- Francona has never been a coach to win games with brilliant coaching decisions. He has never been one to get fired up, to make bold choices, or to really establish a gritty environment in the clubhouse. Do your job every day, keep your nose to the grindstone, and things will work out. They have worked out twice. But as we approach the sixth failure in his eight-year reign (and the fourth straight, all pretty pathetic efforts) -- when do we cut the ties? I can't help but think about what a guy like Joe Maddon could do with this Sox team. A manager with the fire of Ozzie Guillen or the small-ball genius of Mike Scioscia. Maybe there are greener pastures. Maybe another failure should spell the end of the Francona era. Am I calling for his head? Am I saying he's the sole reason this debacle has surfaced? Of course not. Theo signed John Lackey. Theo signed JD Drew. The players have been injured and those healthy ones have gone through the motions and neglected to wear their heart on their sleeves the way Pedroia does every night. They don't seem to understand what it takes to be a Red Sox hero. Ask Dave Roberts, Kevin Millar, Pedro Martinez, and all of those guys whether they took plays off or lacked a desire to give everything they had and more. Red Sox nation misses those types of players, too. Everyone is accountable for the mess that has become the 2011 season's ending.

Having said all of that, there is still hope. There is still a season to be salvaged tonight and a postseason to be embarked on. 22 teams around the league would die for the opportunity to play a postseason game this year. The Sox can still be one of the eight teams who gets to do it. It isn't all bad -- I'm not claiming the world is ending. This thing can easily be turned around. Hell, we could be on our way to another World Series title.

Like I said, though -- I'm not a fortune teller. We'll have to let the cards fall where they may, and hopefully wake up in the morning with a postseason berth. Take it one day at a time from there.

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