NBA Playoff Picks, Conference Finals
Published on May 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my NBA conference finals picks.

Click here to read them.

NBA Playoff Picks, Round Two
Published on May 14, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I offer up my second round NBA playoff picks.

Click here to read them.

I Was That Girl
Published on May 13, 2012 by Sara Foss

Out of Arizona last week came the story of a high school baseball team that decided to forfeit a state championship game rather than play against a team with a girl, second baseman Paige Sultzbach. The fundamentalist Catholic school Our Lady of Sorrows decided that playing in the game would violate the school's mission to teach boys and girls separately - a mission they apparently seek to impose on everyone else. After all, nobody is forcing Our Lady of Sorrows to add girls to their roster.

This is a maddening story for numerous reasons, but I find it maddening on a personal level, because I was once Paige Sultzbach. Through much of middle school, I played on a boys soccer team. Sometimes I was joined by a few other girls. Sometimes I wasn't. In eighth grade, I was the only girl on my team. This meant I had to work twice as hard as everyone else, for less respect on the field. Was I the best person on the team? No. But I was OK, and sometimes even better than that. 


Junior Seau, R.I.P.
Published on May 2, 2012 by Sara Foss

The death of Junior Seau is a very sad thing. And it's the sort of thing that should make people think long and hard about violence in the NFL, and the impact it has on players.

According to police, the 43-year-old Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. This is an interesting detail, because it mirrors the way Chicago Bears great Dave Duerson chose to end his life in 2011. Duerson had wanted to preserve his brain, so that it could be examined by doctors to determine whether he had CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to people who have received repeated blows to the head. Symptoms of CTE include depression, demention and memory loss.

Seau's suicide is the second by a former NFL player in the past two weeks. In April, Ray Easterling, who played for the Atlanta Falcons and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL for their handling of head injuries, killed himself. Also noteworthy is the fact that Seau is the eighth member of the 1994 AFC champion San Diego Chargers team to die - an astonishing and horrific detail that sounds like something Stephen King might dream up if he ever decided to write a novel about the NFL.

Seau's death might finally prompt some soul-searching over head injuries within the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell has given lip service to this topic, while also trying to expand the regular season to 18 games. Note to the NFL: Extending the regular season will only make your head-injury problem worse. Sportswriter Dave Zirin writes, "In Seau, a larger than life Hall of Fame player, we have someone with friends throughout the ranks of the league and especially in the media. It will be incredibly difficult to keep this under wraps. People will want answers. ... There is a discussion that the NFL is going to have to have with a team of doctors, players and the public. Right now, this is not a league safe for human involvement. I have no idea how to make it safer. But I do know that the status quo is absolutely unacceptable.

Over at Slate, Josh Levin also raises interesting questions about Seau's death.

Seau spent most of his career with the Chargers, but I especially enjoyed his stint with the Patriots. I'm not sure it's possible to make professional football safe - football is an inherently violent sport - but we need to figure out how to make the game less damaging to the young men who play it. Seau's death is not an isolated incident, and if something isn't done, there will be more deaths like his.


NBA Playoff Picks, First Round
Published on April 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I offer up my NBA playoff picks for the first round.

Click here to read them.

State of the Teams
Published on April 26, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I offer brief thoughts on my four favorite teams: The Celtics, Red Sox, New England Patriots and Bruins.

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Happy Baseball!
Published on April 5, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the commencement of the 2012 baseball season, and my hopes for the Boston Red Sox.

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On Brittney Griner
Published on April 4, 2012 by Sara Foss

I don't pay a lot of attention to women's basketball, but I've become a fan of Baylor star Brittney Griner, who is changing the women's game. Here's a good Yahoo Sports piece on Griner, and the effect she's having.

I Like Blowouts
Published on April 2, 2012 by Sara Foss

My dad and I have a basic disagreement when it comes to sports: He likes close games, and I do not.

Let me clarify: I love a close, exciting game, provided the teams I root for are not involved. I've seen great playoff basketball involving super close games between teams I don't really care about - an exciting series five or six years ago between the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards comes to mind. But whenever the Boston Celtics are involved in a close game, my stomach clenches up, and I can barely speak. Such games aren't fun for me. They're painful.

My dad would say that it's more rewarding to win a close game than a blowout, and he's probably right. Nevertheless, I love blowouts. They're not at all stressful, and you get to watch the team you love at their most awe-inspiring. Take Sunday's Celtics-Heat game. The Heat have had their way with the Celtics of late, and the Celtics completely blew them out. This made me very happy, because I hate the Heat. What made me happiest, though, was how awesome the Celtics looked. By the end of the game, I believed they could win the NBA championship, and that second-year guard Avery Bradey is probably headed to the Hall of Fame. That's how good the Celtics looked - I started believing things that are completely implausible.

But that's OK with me. It's kind of fun to believe in the Celtics again, and I'm now fantasizing about a strong finish, followed by a favorable playoff seeding, and an unexpected trip to the conference finals. You never know. During that blowout, they looked like the best team in the league, and it put a smile on my face. Close games almost never have that effect.

The Heat Make a Statement
Published on March 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

It's hard to hate the Miami Heat when they do stuff like this.

Published on March 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

After it was announced that the Denver Broncos were going to sign Peyton Manning and trade Tim Tebow, I emailed my friend Dave, who is Broncos fan.

Was he happy?

You bet.

Dave was never entirely on board with the whole Tebowmania thing. He wrote, "My favorite non-Bronco is now a Bronco? Te-who?"

I, too, was happy, mainly because Tebow is going to the Jets. Last season, I greatly annoyed making fun of both the Jets and Tim Tebow, and this trade will doubtless increase the opportunities for mockery. Just imagining what it will be like to watch Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Tebow and Santonio Holmes interact brings a smile to my face. 

Of course, I don't really expect to see Tebow play very much. Sanchez is the Jets' starting quarterback, and although Sanchez has his flaws, he's a much better QB than Tebow. Maybe the Jets have some other plan for Tebow. Who knows. But I'm already looking forward to next year's Jets-Patriots games. Watching the Pats eviscerate the Broncos was one of the highlights of last year's NFL season.

I am not as convinced as everyone else that signing Peyton Manning is a slam dunk. In fact, I'm not even sure it makes sense for Peyton to continue playing football, given that he is recovering from a neck injury. Why risk another neck injury? He has a Super Bowl ring and four MVP awards. What else does he need to prove? That said, I'm looking forward to Peyton's return to the NFL. He's a great player, and it will be fun to watch his comeback.

Next season's NFL season should be intriguing, especially with Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for the entire year because of a bounty scandal. The offseason has been terrific, and the games will probably be even better.



No Bracket For Me
Published on March 19, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I ponder March Madness.

Here's the gist: Despite being a basketball fanatic, I don't really care about it.

Click here to learn more.

Trade Deadline Thoughts
Published on March 15, 2012 by Sara Foss

I enjoyed the NBA trade deadline so much that I'm starting to think I like NBA gossip and upheaval better than the game itself. Anyway, here are some of my initial thoughts:

Mike D'Antoni resigns from the Knicks - One of the biggest pieces of trade deadline news involved D'Antoni's resignation, rather than an actual trade. I wouldn't have been surprised if he was fired at the end of the season, but his decision to resign so soon after the excitement of Linsanity took me by surprise, and is probably an indication of how much D'Antoni disliked dealing with Carmelo Anthony and the doofus who owns the Knicks, James Dolan.

The Knicks are clearly a team in trouble. They have two stars, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, who aren't really stars, although Stoudemire, to his credit, isn't a mopey malcontent, and understands how to play team basketball (if not defense). Sure, the Knicks are playing a tougher schedule, and they were bound to settle down after their exciting and somewhat implausible winning streak. But the winning streak showed what the Knicks were capable of - they shared the ball, they looked like they were having fun, and they had swagger. Once Anthony returned, that all went away.


On Ricky Rubio
Published on March 13, 2012 by Sara Foss

I was really saddened by news of Timberwolves' point guard Ricky Rubio's season ending ACL injury. Rubio has helped revitalize a terrible franchise, and his nifty passing is a joy to behold. His game has flaws - too many turnovers -  but he's exciting and young and I was eager to see him play. Now, he's out. It's a sad thing.

If you miss Rubio's exceptional playmaking as much as I do, you owe it to yourself to check out this piece in The Classical, first posted in January. Subhead: Ricky Rubio is Doing Something Beautiful. Sigh. Heal quickly, Ricky Rubio!


Am I A Barbarian?
Published on March 8, 2012 by Sara Foss

Maybe I'm a barbarian, but I'm not at all shocked by the so-called scandal currently rocking the NFL, the not-at-all surprising revelation that the New Orleans Saints maintained a "bounty system" that provided players with payments for hits that injured opposing players. From what I've read, other teams have maintained similar systems, and the scandal involving the Saints simply exposes something that's a part of the NFL.

Charles Pierce, writing over at Grantland, explains:

"Think of all the illusions about the National Football League that the revelations of a bounty program in New Orleans shatter. Think of all the silly pretensions those revelations deflate. The preposterous prayer circles at midfield. The weepy tinpot patriotism of the flyovers and the martial music. The dime-store Americanism that's draped on anything that moves. The suffocating corporate miasma that attends everything the league does — from the groaning buffet tables at the Super Bowl to the Queegish fascination with headbands and sock lengths while teams are paying "bounties" to tee up the stars of your game so they don't get to play anymore. What we have here now is the face of organized savagery, plain and simple, and no amount of commercials showing happy kids cavorting with your dinged-up superstars can ameliorate any of that."


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