Friday, November 21, 2014

Sports Chowdah Update- Fifty 28 Shades of Gray, Patriots Romp at Indy; Bruins Shake the Blues at the Garden; Hurricane Warnings and High Tides, Mississipi State Falls to Alabama while Florida State Surges against Miami

NFL- November has proven to be a pretty good month for New England so far, with the Patriots bookending their bye week with convincing wins over division leaders.

The first weekend in November has the Patriots hosting Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and the outcome was far less dramatic than the last time Denver came to Foxborough. This time around, the team with the big first half lead managed to hang on to it as New England rolled to a 43-21 win against the Broncos.

Coming out of the bye week, New England faced an equally important test against another AFC division leader as the Patriots travelled to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning's former team, the Colts.

Right off the bat, congratulations to those of you who happened to start RB Jonas Gray on your fantasy team on Sunday. RB Jonas Gray out of Notre Dame, who had moved from the practice squad to the starting roster less than a month ago, opened the scoring with a 4 yard TD run in the first to give New England the early 7-0 lead. The Colts quickly came back with a drive of their own that put them in the Patriot's red zone, but they had to settle for a chip shot FG off the leg of Adam Vinatieri to make it 7-3.

Late in the second quarter, Gray found the end zone once again to put the Patriots up on top 14-3 before Andrew Luck led a quick counterattack to put the Colts within 4 points after hitting paydirt on a 10 yard reception by WR Hakeem Nicks with 55 seconds to go in the first half, making it a 14-10 New England lead.

However, during the opening drive of the second half the Patriots started pulling away, thanks to the first Pats TD of the night to someone NOT named Jonas Gray when Brady found TE Tim Wright for a short TD pass to go up 21-10. On the following possession, the Colts would only get as far as the Patriots 35 yards line, but they were able to convert that to points thanks to a successfully 53 yard FG attempt by ex-Patriot Vinatieri. With 3:30 to go in the third, the Patriots made it a 28-13 game thanks once again to Jonas Gray who successfully punched it in from the 2 yard line.

The Colts showed some signs of life late in the 3rd when they made their way down to the Patriots 4 yard line before the game clock flipped over to the 4th quarter. Luck connected with OT Anthony Costanzo to make it a one score game with the Patriots now leading 20-28. However, not only did the Patriots manage to score another TD thanks to an 80 yard drive capped by yet another Gray TD, but they were able to bleed nearly 5 minutes off the clock, putting New England up 35-20 with just under 9 minutes to go in the game. With the clock ticking, Andrew Luck and the Colts offense were pressured to go for it on a 4th and 12 at midfield, but Luck threw the ball incomplete, giving the Patriots an even shorter field to work with and less than 7 minutes to go in the game. The Patriots essentially put the game away on a 26 yard reception and TD from Brady to Gronkowski where he was shedding tacklers like a maple sheds its leaves this time of year- this comes AFTER destroying former teammate and Colts safety Sergio Brown by blocking him into an NBC camera trolley along the sideline.

New England goes on to an pretty easy-looking 42-20 win on Sunday Night Football and will next host the Detroit Lions [who, interestingly, aren't playing on thanksgiving- NANESB!]. Interestingly, this may be the first time ever that the Patriots and Lions have ever played each other when both teams were leading their respective divisions.

OTHER PATRIOTS NEWS- After being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, free agent RB and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount signed a two year deal with New England on Thursday. Blount was released by the Steelers less than 24 hours after the Steelers 27-24 Monday Night Football win over the Tennessee Titans after complaining about getting no carries in the game.

Although some sportswriters believed the Pats had their eyes toward the future when bringing Blount back [Ridley is currently on the DL and Shane Vereen is a free agent at the end of the season- NANESB!] that became more apparent when Jonas Gray missed practice on Friday. Something similar happened last month when CB Darrelle Revis missed practice last month, but he ultimately ended up playing in the Oct 26th win against the Bears.

ELSEWHERE IN THE AFC EAST- Sunday afternoon's game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets has been postponed and is rescheduled to be played at Detroit's Ford Field on Monday night. Over the last few days, the Buffalo area had been hit by a series of winter storms with accumulation up to six feet in many areas.

Initially, the Bills were optimistic that they could get the stadium ready in time for Sunday's game and were offering fans $10 and hour and free game tickets to assist in shoveling out the stadium. However, the snowfall clogged the surrounding highways to the point where some players were arriving at Ralph Wilson stadium via snowmobile and the forecast is calling for even more snowfall between now and Sunday.

Kickoff is scheduled for Monday at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised locally in both the Buffalo and New York City markets on CBS.

NHL- After a pretty disappointing week that saw the Olde Towne Team lose big to Original Six rivals Montreal and Toronto, the Bruins seemed like they found their rhythm once again after returning to the Garden and doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 over the weekend.

The win in Tuesday night's home game against the visiting Blues was made all the more strange by the fact that the Blues outshot Boston by nearly a 2:1 margin- 33-17, but Tukka Rask was able to record the shutout while Patrice Bergeron scored in the first and Torey Krug scored in the 3rd [both even-handed- NANESB!] to make it a 2-0 Bruins win.

Boston will travel to Columbus for a 1-game road trip on Friday before retuning home to the Garden on Saturday to host the Canadiens. That game will get underway at 4:00 and will be televised on both NESN, CBC and the NHL Network.

NCAA FOOTBALL- And then there was only one- at least in the "Power Five" conferences.

The Alabama Crimson Tide shook things up in the BCS and put themselves back in the championship hunt after beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa, AL by a 25-20 final on Saturday. Both 'Bama and Mississippi State now sport similar 9-1 records, with Bama holding the edge thanks to their head-to-head record against Mississippi State. The win propels the Crimson Tide to #2 in the Nation while Mississippi State falls to number four.

This weekend, Alabama has a fairly easy contest against FCS Western Carolina at Tuscaloosa before the Iron Bowl against Auburn at the end of the month while the rest of Mississippi State's games are against the SEC with Vanderbilt this weekend and the rivalry game at Ole Miss at the end of the month at Oxford, MS. There is also the matter of the SEC championship game- since Bama and Mississippi State are both in the SEC East division, one of them would go on to face the leader of the SEC west [which could be either Georgia or Missouri if the standings hold up over the next two weeks- NANESB!].

ELSEWHERE IN THE NCAA- Despite trailing most of the game against in-state rival Miami, the Florida State Seminoles pulled out a late win to continue their undefeated season. The 'Noles pulled ahead for good with just over 4 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Freshman RB Dalvin Cook ran 26 yards for the go-ahead TD. FSU holds in to its top ranking by going on to beat Miami by a 30-26 final.

Florida State will finish off their regular season hosting Boston College, followed by the Florida Gators for Rivalry week and a showdown with #18 Georgia Tech for the ACC Title Game on Dec 6th.

ELSEWHERE IN THE ACC- After getting out to a 13-3 lead over the Louisville Cardinals, the Boston College Eagles gave up five unanswered touchdowns to Louisville and would go on to lose by a 38-19 final in Chestnut Hill two weeks ago. After a week off, the Eagles now face a monumental challenge when they travel to Tallahassee to take on #1 Florida State this weekend. The Eagles regular season wraps up with a Rivalry Week contest against Syracuse at Chestnut Hill on Nov 29th.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Obamacare Architecht: Law Passed Because of Lack of Transparency, "Stupidity" of American Voters

A series of videos have surfaced showing MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber, the man widely credited with crafting President Obama's sweeping healthcare law, admitting that the law was written in a vague and deceptive manner by design to hide costs and that the Affordable Care Act was ultimately passed thanks to the 'stupidity of the American voter'.

As of Friday, the total number of videos circulating of Gruber boasting to audiences about the circumstances under which Obamacare had passed was six. A number of the recently surfaced videos date from 2010 and 2011, while the most recent videos date back to fall of 2013 and there may be even more damning video to come.

In a 2011 conversation about the Affordable Care Act, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the law more commonly known as Obamacare, talked about how the bill would get rid of all tax credits for employer-based health insurance through "mislabeling" what the tax is and who it would hit.

The issue at hand in this sixth video is known as the "Cadillac tax," which was represented as a tax on employers' expensive health insurance plans. While employers do not currently have to pay taxes on health insurance plans they provide employees, starting in 2018, companies that provide health insurance that costs more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family will have to pay a 40 percent tax.

"Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance," Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is "terrible policy," Gruber said.

"It turns out politically it's really hard to get rid of," Gruber said. "And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it's a tax on people who hold those insurance plans."

(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: "I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.")

The second way was have the tax kick in "late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation," Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.

Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.

"What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans," Gruber said. "This was the only political way we were ever going to take on one of the worst public policies in America."

Unions and employers who object in 2018, he noted, "at that point if they want to get rid of it they're going to have to fill a trillion dollar hole in the deficit...It's on the books now."

Speeches with much more blunt language on Gruber's part had surfaced on conservative blogs and talk radio earlier this week, although the story didn't begin gaining coverage until later on in the week when more videos began surfacing.

The comments were made during the panel sessions at the Annual Health Economics Conference last year.

"This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes," he said during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in October, 2013. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the 'stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

Democrats who were pivotal in passing Obamacare were quick to distance themselves from Gruber. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who cited Gruber's work during the push to pass Obamacare, denied knowing who he was and attempted to downplay his role in crafting the law during a press conference on Friday.

Gruber himself boasted of a 2009 meeting with the President Obama about the healthcare law in a 2012 interview- the White House visitor's log confirms Gruber's visit.

While some pundits have been wondering why these videos didn't surface before the election, their release may have been timed to coincide with something else altogether. The revelations come before the issue of Obamacare is once again before the Supreme Court. This time, the law is being challenged based on subsidies for the 14 states that didn't set up state-run Obamacare exchanges and the Administration's case could very well be undercut by Gruber's statements.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day From Not Another New England Sports Blog

Fort Rosecrans military cemetery overlooking the Pacific ocean in California. Mom to Madre photo

"Happy" seems a little bit of a stretch in light of developments at the VA earlier this year, but some veterans can take heart in the fact that more amd more veterans are getting elected to office after last week's historic midterms, including Senators-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Earnst of Iowa who will become the first Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans to be elected to the US Senate. In fact, Ernst was reportedly incommunicado for a few days after the election to serve the required weekend muster with the Iowa National Guard.

For veterans who have been unhappy with the way things have been going in Washington, it is important that they join a veteran's group such as the American Legion or Veteran's of Foreign Wars to make their voices heard. Feel free to visit them online to enquire about membership or find the nearest Hall.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Election 2014- A Red Tsunami From Sea to Shining Sea

From Maine to American Samoa, Tuesday night was a bad night for the Democrats.

The big story of the night was that the Democrats and Majority Leader Harry Reid lost their majority in the United States Senate on election day after Republicans picked up no fewer than seven seats, with some race still to be decided through a recount or runoff. Although some Democrats had distanced themselves from President Obama while campaigning, the President in an interview said that his policies were on the ballot and he could count on support from Democrat incumbents- even the ones who were keeping him at arm's length on the campaign trail.

Heading into Election Day, the GOP needed a net gain of six seats in the Senate to regain a majority they hadn't held since 2006. It was widely believed that West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana would be fairly easy pickups for the Republicans, with states like Virginia, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Minnesota, South Carolina, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas and Colorado up for grabs in close races.

For veterans, one of the more noteworthy developments was that Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton became the first-ever Iraq war veteran elected to the US Senate after defeating incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor by a margin of nearly 10 points. Later on in the night, Cotton was joined by Joni Ernst, a fellow Iraq war veteran, Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa National Guard and state senator who was campaigning against congressman Bruce Braley for Iowa's senate seat that was open after Democrat Tom Harkin announced his retirement.

In South Carolina, former Congressman Tim Scott became the first black US senator from the South since Reconstruction- and the first ever to be elected to both the House of Representatives and US Senate. Scott was technically the incumbent, since governor Nikki Haley appointed him to replace fellow Republican Jim DeMint who retired to become president of conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation in 2012.

Before Tuesday, Democrats took some solace in the projections out of Kansas that had Independent Greg Orman leading incumbent Republican Pat Roberts before election day. Orman, who declined to state whether he'd caucus with Democrats or Republicans if elected although Orman reportedly received donations from Democrat-supporting PACs and Vice President Biden predicted that Orman would end up caucusing with Democrats and narrowly preserve the party's majority in the Senate.

But perhaps the biggest prize for either party was Colorado. Over the last decade, Democrats had prided themselves on making Colorado a model on turning a red state blue [and boasted they were going to repeat the process in Texas, more on that a little later- NANESB!]. Incumbent Mark Udall ran on a campaign reminiscent of the Democrat's 2012 "War on Women", claiming that GOP challenger Corey Gardner would outlaw contraceptives and earning himself the nickname Mark Uterus.

In Louisiana, that race is heading to a December runoff since incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu failed to get more than 50% of the total vote. However, the DSCC reportedly yanked a proposed $1.5 million ad buy in certain Louisiana markets, indicating that donors are less than confident about Landrieu's chances against Cassidy in the runoff.

The 'wave' wasn't just limited to a pickup of seven seats in the US Senate for the GOP. In the House of Representatives, not only did beleaguered incumbents such as New York Rep Michael Grimm [R- Staten Island] survive, but the Republicans gained a total of 15 seats [with some races in California and Maryland so close they're awaiting absentee and provisional ballots to decide the campaign- NANESB!]. Some of these included retired Air Force colonel Martha McSally beating Democrat representative Ron Barber in Arizona's 2nd congressional district- which comprised much of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords' district that had been held by Democrats after a 2011 assassination attempt on Giffords and redistricting. In Utah, former Saratoga Springs, UT mayor Mia Love ran as a Republican against Democrat Doug Owens for Representative in Utah's 4th Congressional District for the House seat up for grabs when Democrat Jim Matheson announced his retirement after the 2014 elections. Love- the daughter of Haitian immigrants- is Utah's first female congresswoman and the GOP's first black congresswoman [the NAACP was remarkably silent on the results of her election- NANESB!].

Republican governors favored just as well as the Senate and House races as it turned out. In Wisconsin, incumbent Scott Walker was elected governor for the third time since 2010- after a protracted battle over public sector unions between Democrats and the first-terms governor, the Democrats and unions successfully launched a recall campaign against Walker in 2012. However, Walker ultimately prevailed despite a well-funded campaign from unions and wealthy Democrat donors and PACs.

Democrat state representative Wendy Davis made a name for herself with wealthy liberal donors and the pro-abortion crowd after a lengthy filibuster on the floor of the State House in Austin, TX last year that was meant to hold up legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. Shortly after the filibuster made her a rising star with the Democrats, she announced her candidacy for governor against Texas attorney general Greg Abbott. Although Davis wasn't expected to win, her candidacy was a trial balloon by out-of-state liberal Super PACs to try and turn Texas into a blue state. Davis ended up losing to abbot by more than 20 points, which in turned siphoned Democrat donor money away from much more competitive races.

In Maine, incumbent Paul LePage carried all but two of the sixteen counties throughout the state. In Massachusetts, Democrat Martha Coakley- who lost the 2009 Massachusetts' special election for US Senate to challenger Scott Brown- lost to Republican challenger and businessman Charlie Baker on election day. In the Midwest, incumbent Michigan governor Rick Snyder won 51% of the voting after drawing the ire of unions by making the Wolverine state a right-to-work state in his first term as governor. In President Obama's home state of Illinois, incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn lost to republican businessman Bruce Rauner. Although Maryland's Democrat governor Martin O'Malley was term-limited, pundits both left and right believed that his Lieutenant Governor, Anothony G Brown, would coast to an easy election win over Republican challenger and Maryland businessman Larry Hogan but Hogan shocked the pollsters and pundits by getting just over 51% of the vote. Out west, someone forgot to tell incumbent GOP governors Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez that their party has a problem with Latinos as the governors of Nevada and New Mexico coasted to an easy re-election. Sandoval received more than 70% of the vote just weeks after he had announced a deal that where Tesla Motors [NASDAQ- TSLA] announced they would open up a factory outside of Reno, NV in exchange for substantial tax breaks. Meanwhile, Susana Martinez won 57% of the ballots cast in New Mexico on election day.

It wasn't just the governor's mansions that were going red in 2014. On the state level, Real Clear Politics reports that the Republicans control an unprecedented 68 out of 98 possible partisan legislative chambers on the state level.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

One Giant Cup of Sports Chowdah Update- The Constant Bumgarner, Giants Ace Comes Out of Bullpen to Cinch World Series; Brady's Bunches, Patriots QB throws 5 TDs Against Chicago; Hokies Smoked, Boston College Becomes Bowl-Eligible With Win in Blacksburg;

WORLD SERIES- Those of us who wanted a Game 7 in the 2014 World Series weren't disappointed.

Game 7 was made possible by the Royals lighting up Giants starter Jake Peavy early in Game Six on Wednesday, cruising to an easy 10-0 win and tying up the series at 3 games apiece.

For Game 7, the Giants got out to an early 2-0 lead off of Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie thanks to a pair of RBI sac flies- one off the bat of Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford. However, the Royals got those two runs back in the bottom of the second and managed to chase San Francisco starter Tim Hudson after 1⅔ innings when Alex Gordon hit an RBI double and then advanced to third before coming home on an Omar Enfante sac-fly.

In the top of the 4th, Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval led off with an infield single, followed by a Hunter Pence single and a Brandon Belt fly ball to left field that advanced Sandoval to third. By this point, Royals manager Ned Yost pulled Guthrie and brought Kelvin Herrera in from the bullpen. Morse singled, which brought Sandoval in from 3rd before Herrera struck out Brandon Crawford and got Juan Perez to ground out and end the inning.

Nursing a 1-run lead, Giants manager Bruce Bochy brought in starter Madison Bumgarner from out of the bullpen. Although dominant against the Royals earlier in the series, Bumgarner immediately gave up a single to Omar Enfante followed by an Alcides Escobar sac bunt to move Enfante into scoring position, but that was followed by fly ball off the bat of Nori Aoki to left that LF Juan Perez managed to run down for the second out. Bumgarner then managed to get Lorenzo Cain to strike out and end the bottom of the 5th.

Instead of going to the bullpen, Bochy went with Bumgarner into the 9th inning, with the Giants starter getting better as the innings progressed. In the bottom of the 9th, he got Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler to go down quietly for the first two outs. Alex Gordon stepped into the batter's box and hit a line drive into left center that was misplayed by Gregor Blanco which rolled all the way to the wall. Gordon beat the throw to third and brought the increasingly demoralized crowd at Kauffman Stadium back to life with the tying run 90 feet away. However, Bumgarner got Salavor Perez to pop up to 3rd to clinch San Fransico's third World Series title since 2010.

For his two commanding starts and the Game 7 relief appearance, Madison Bumgarner was named the MVP of the 2014 World Series. On Friday, the City of San Francisco held their third World Series parade in less than five years.

NFL- After struggling just to outlast the Jets on Thursday night last week, the Patriots made it look easy against the Chicago Bears last Sunday when Tom Brady threw for 5 TD passes at Gillette Stadium.

New England had a 31-7 lead in the final minute of the first half when Bears QB Jay Cutler fumbled deep in Bears territory and Rod Ninkovitch recovered and ran it back for a TD with 55 seconds left in the half.

Brady would then connect with Gronkowski for a 46 yard TD reception to make it 45-7 on the Patriot's opening possession of the second half. The Patriots would cruise to an easy 51-23 win over Chicago thanks to 3 TD passes from Brady to Gronk, along with TD passes to Tim Wright and Brandon LaFell. Brady went 30-35 with 354 yards on the day to go with the 5 TDs on the day. Gronk caught 9 passes for 149 yards and the 3 TDs while Gostkowski made all three of his FG attempts.

This Sunday's game is a marquee matchup between two first-ballot Hall of Fame QBs when the Patriots will host the Denver Broncos and QB Peyton Manning at Gillette this weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL- As good a day as Brady had last week, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had an even better one, with 6 TDs and 522 yards, going 40-49 in the Steeler's 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The performance set a Steelers franchise record and was an exclamation point on Big Ben's 100th career win.

NCAA FOOTBALL- The Boston College Eagles are now bowl-eligible after a road win in Blacksburg, VA against Virginia Tech. Although the Hokies got out to an early lead in the first, the Eagles took a 14-10 lead into halftime.

After the half, the Eagles extended their lead to 23-10, but Virginia Tech made it a 23-17 game early in the 4th quarter and took a one point lead on a pass from QB Michael Brewer to TE Bucky Hodges to give the Hokies a 24-23 lead.

With just over five minutes to go in regulation, Alex Howell gave Boston College the lead once again thanks to a 44 yard FG attempt. After the Eagles defense held the Hokies to a 3 and out on the following possession, the Eagles started to pull away thanks to a 57 yard TD run from QB Tyler Murphy to make it 33-24 Boston College. The Hokies would close the gap to 31-33 thanks to another driver from Brewer that was capped with a 5 yard TD pass with 1:09 to go, but the following onsides kick was recovered by the Eagles, which allowed them to simply take a knee and run out the clock.

Murphy went 8 for 15 with 110 yards and two TDs passing and 122 yards rushing with another TD. Charlie Callinan and Marcus Outlow each had TD receptions on Saturday as well.

This would be Boston College's second win in a row after beating Wake Forest on the road last Saturday by a 23-17 final. Next Saturday, Boston College will host the Louisville Cardinals at Chestnut Hill. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:25 PM ET and the game will be televised on ESPN 2.

NHL- After blowing a 3rd period lead to the Minnesota Wild at home, the Boston Bruins hit the road for a quick trip against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, getting past Buffalo 3-2 in OT thanks to a Brad Marchand tally just 1:20 into OT.

On Saturday night, the B's returned home to host the Ottawa Senators for the first time this season. Marchand would open up the scoring on Saturday night, giving Boston a 1-0 lead a little over a minute into the contest. Mark Stone got the equalizer for Ottawa with about 30 seconds to go in the first period, giving the Bruins a 3-1 lead.

The second period was all about Matt Fraser as he had two tallies less than 90 seconds apart to give Boston a 3-1 lead. Heading into the 3rd, the Bruins would add tack on some more insurance when Seidenberg got an unassisted goal just over two minutes into the period. Ottawa would get on the board once again with a Mika Zibanejad goal with about five minutes left to go, but that would be it for the Sens.

Tukks Rask turned aside 27 of 29 shots faced on Saturday as the Bruins went on to win by a 4-2 final in their first meeting with Ottawa.

The Bruins homestand continues on Tuesday when the B's will host the 4-2-3 Florida Panthers at the Garden. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00 ET and the game will be televised on NESN

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from Not Another New England Sports Blog!


Today's Train of Thought- Throroughbreds and Pumpkins, Oct 31st, 2014

Today's Train of Thought takes us to a pumpkin patch rural central Pennsylvania that just happens to abut the former Pennsy mainline between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA. Here, contributor Rick Erben caught Norfolk Southern C40-9W #9978 leading a motley lashup- including an SD60I, an SD40-2, a GP38-2 still in Conrail blue and a C39-8- as it leads an eastbound manifest through the quiet Juniata County village of Mexico on Oct 21st, 2010. The pumpkins in the foreground still have a few days to be scooped and made into jack-o-lanterns or pies in time for Halloween that year.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Utah National Guardsmen Face Sanction Over Bikini Calendar Shoot on National Guard Property

A number of Utah National Guardsmen and State Troopers are in trouble after allowing a racy calendar shoot to take place at one of their facilities with scantily clad British models firing automatic weapons- some of which were the property of the state of Utah.

British bikini models fired guns owned by the state of Utah as an on-duty state police officer stood by, according the early findings of an ongoing investigation.

A second officer from the Utah Department of Public Safety was off-duty, according to a statement the department issued late Thursday.

DPS is investigating the two officers’ roles in the models’ photo and video shoot for the 2015 bikini calendar called "Hot Shots."

Meanwhile, the Utah National Guard also is investigating how the models entered Camp Williams and used resources there, including riding in a tank and other vehicles, as part of the shoot.

Logs from that day show that one of the officers was on duty and another off. Both belong to the department’s SWAT team.

While part of the photo shoot was at the Utah National Guard's Camp Williams, videos and stills of some of the barely dressed models were filmed at the privately operated Big Shots Ranch in Grantsville, UT.

Although policy for the Utah State Police allows for officers to serve as firearms instructors or display weapons in the department's armory to public officials or groups like the Boy Scouts, such events have to be pre-approved by the chain of command. Some of the guns used by the British models include the Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine gun, a select fire 9mm Glock 18 [which means the gun can fire semiauto of full auto- NANESB!] and the M4 Carbine, the current US Army and National Guard issue rifle which is essentially a scaled down M-16 rifle. Although a Utah State Police spokesman said three of the weapons are believed to be agency-issue, the ammunition was reportedly provided by Big Shots range.

The two Utah State Police officers identified in the video were identified as members of the agency's SWAT team and logs indicate that one of them was on-duty at the time. Both of them were reportedly in uniform at the time, as well.

Meanwhile, the Camp Williams segment of the photo shoot may end up costing some National Guardsmen their jobs.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton told lawmakers Thursday that the handful of Guard members involved could face fines, demotions or forced retirements when an investigation is complete. Those involved, which include combat veterans and Purple Heart recipients, didn’t follow guidelines for private use of military equipment at Camp Williams, he said.

The Hot Shots calendar is available in early November and a portion of all sales will go to the UK-based Help for Heroes charitable organization.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Instant Sports Chowdah Update- Failure to Launch, Patriots Survive Jets on Last Second Blocked FG; Wakey Wakey, Boston College Outlasts Deacons; Near Miss, LSU Hands Ole Miss First Loss of Season

NFL- With the longer-than-usual wait after last Thursday night's game, at times it almost felt as though the Patriots had a bye week.

The Patriots got out to an early lead in their only Thursday night game of the season, but a very game New York Jets team was never far behind. New England took a 17-12 lead against New York into halftime, thanks to a 39 yard Gostkowski FG as time expired in the 2nd quarter.

With 9 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, the Jets took their first lead of the night with a drive that was capped by a short Nick Ivory TD run to give them a 19-17 lead. On the following drive, the Patriots got as far as the Jets red zone, and even though they had to settle for another Gostkowski field goal, the Patriots re-took the lead with 4:10 to go in the first.

It looked as though the Patriots were beginning to pull away midway though the 4th quarter when Brady connected with WR Danny Amendola for a 19 yard TD reception to make it a 27-19 lead, but with just over two and a half minutes to go, the Jets capped an 81 yard drive that took just under 5 minutes with a 10 yard TD pass from Geno Smith to TE Jeff Cumberland to bring the Jets to within two- however, the two point conversion attempt failed and New England still clung to a 27-25 lead.

After the Jets defense held New England to a 3 and out, the Patriots were forced to punt and managed to succeed in pinning the Jets back at their own 12 yard line with just over a minute to go in regulation. With the clock ticking, the Jets were able to get the ball as far as the Patriots 40 yard line with just 5 seconds left on the clock, setting up a potential game-winning FG attempt of nearly 60 yards [difficult, but not impossible- NANESB!]. However, in a bit of payback from last year's Jets win on a FG, DT Chris Jones managed to Block Folk's 58 yard attempt as time expired, giving New England the 27-25 victory- their second straight win against an AFC East opponent.

The Patriots homestand will continue with an early afternoon game against the Chicago Bears with a 1:00 kickoff at Foxbourough on Sunday afternoon. The game will be broadcast on FOX and XM subscribers can listen on channel 85.

WORLD SERIES- Those of you who had their hearts set on an all-Missouri World Series have Giants infielder Travis Ishikawa to blame for that not taking place this year.

Ishikawa belted a walkoff home run in extra innings of Game 5 of the NLCS which ended the Cardinals season and punched the Giants ticket to their 3rd World Series since 2010.

The Giants faced a game Kansas City, who made pretty quick work of the Orioles in the ALCS. Despite San Francisco dominating Game 1 behind a commanding performance by starter Madison Bumgarner, going on to win by a 7-1 final, the Kansas City Royals came storming back in Game Two. This send to series to San Francisco tied at 1 game each.

After winnign Game 3 by one run, Kansas City headed into Saturday night's Game 4 with a 2 games to one lead and things were looking promising when the ROyals batters were able to chase Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong off the mound after just two and two-thirds innings and take a 4-1 lead over San Francisco. However, the Giants batters would go on to score a total of 10 unanswered runs, tying the game with a Hunter Pence RBI single and Juan Perez RBI sac-fly in the bottom of the 5th followed by a 2-RBI single by Pablo Sandoval and a Brandon Belt RBI single in the bottom of the 6th to San Francisco the 7-4 lead. However, the Giants weren't done and got plenty of insurance runs tacked on in the bottom of the 7th and would go on to win Game four by an 11-4 final and tie the series up at 2-2, ensuring that the series would head back to Kansas City regardless of outcome.

DENVER BRONCOS- On Sunday afternoon, Broncos QB Peyton Manning surpassed Brett Favre to become the NFL leader in career TD passes during the October 19th win against the San Francisco at Mile High. Manning recorded a total of 4 TD passes in that game and three TD passes in Thursday night's 35-21 win over the San Diego Chargers at Denver for a career total of 513.

Manning, who has been in the league since 1998, is only one of seven all-time NFL quarterbacks to surpass the 300 career TD mark- although the other two include both Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

NCAA FOOTBALL- After a close loss to Clemson on Chestnut Hill last week, the Boston College Eagles travelled to the Tarheel State to take on Wake Forest on Saturday. The Eagles took a 17-0 halftime lead into the locker room and were able to add onto it in the 3rd and 4th quarters, jumping out as far as 23-3 in the second half before the Deacons could get any kind of offensive rhythm going.

But with BC seemingly cruising in the 4th quarter, the Deacons managed to string together a drive that netted their first TD of the day with just over 8 minutes too go in the ballgame. Still trailing 23-10, Wake got the ball back deep in BC territory when BC sophomore Myles Willis funbled the kickoff deep in Eagles territory. Starting on BC's 15 yard line, the Wake offense was able to punch it in and make it a 1-possession game, with the Eagles still clinging to a 23-17 lead.

However, BC junior Justin Simmons was able to pick off Deacons QB John Wolford on the next Wake Forest possession, sealing the game for Boston College late in the 4th quarter. Eagles QB Tyler Murphy had 165 yards passing and a TD along with 77 yards rushing on the day. RB Jon Hilliman rushed for 101 yards and 2 TDs on the afternoon.

Next Saturday, Boston College will travel down to Blacksburg, VA to take on Virginia Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 ET and the game will be streaming on ESPN3.

ELSEWHERE IN THE ACC- Last week's highly-touted battle of the unbeatens lived up to the billing as #2 Florida State was able to get by #5 Notre Dame last Saturday by a 31-27 final. This leaves Florida State as one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the NCAA top 25 polling.

The Seminoles actually have this week off, but will return to action on Thursday night against 6-2 Louisville. That game gets underway at 7:30 ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL- And then there was only one undefeated in the Magnolia State.

On Saturday night, the #24 LSU Tigers handed #3 Ole Miss their first loss of the 2014 season in Baton Rouge in what turned out to be a surprisingly low-scoring affair. The Rebels led 7-3 for most of the game until 5:45 to go in the 4th quarter when the bayou Bengals took their first lead of the night on a 4 yard TD pass from QB Anthony Jennings to TE Logan Stokes to put LSU up 10-7.

Although Ole Miss had a couple of late chances to tie the game or go ahead, they were undone by a penalty that put them out of FG range with 14 seconds left in the game. Instead of trying for the game-tying FG, Ole Miss opted for a Hail Mary since the penalty that had pushed them out of FG range. The game would end on LSU intercepting Ole Miss' 30 yard pass attempt with less than 10 seconds left, giving the Ole Miss Rebels their first loss of the season.

NHL- Hockey Night in Canada got underway on Saturday night north of the border with an Original Six matchup that pitted the Boston Bruins against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This was the first home game for the Maple Leafs since Wednesday's attack on Canada's Parliament, and the pregame ceremony honored Cpl. Cirillo, the Canadian soldier at the War Memorial who was shot dead by the gunman before he made his way to the parliament building.

For the Bruins, this was the first game after their 3-2 loss to the Islanders at home on Thursday night.

Carl Soderberg got the Bruins on the board early just three and a half minutes into the first. Tukka Rask made it hold up, carrying a shutout to the final five minutes of the 3rd period and David Krejci make it a 2-0 Bruins lead late in the 2nd before Greg Campbell and Dougie Hamilton scored less than two and a half minutes apart to give Boston a 4-0 lead.

Toronto broke through with a goal from Richard Panik with just over 5 and a half minutes to go in the 3rd, but the Bruins would go on to win by a final of 4-1.

After Saturday, the Bruins will head back to Boston where they'll face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. The game will be televised on NESN and NBC Sports with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:00 ET.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gunman Fatally Shoots Soldier at Ottawa War Memorial, Opens Fire in Canadian Parliament

A gunman opened fire on a Canadian soldier who was on sentry duty at a War memorial in Canada's capital on Wednesday before advancing to the Parliament building where the assailant was shot and killed by the sergeant-at-arms in an exchange of gunfire.

According to the CBC, witnesses reported a gunman who approached the War Memorial from the west at 9:50 AM local time and fired twice at 24 year old Cpl Nathan Cirillo, striking him in the abdomen and firing a round at another soldier stationed at the memorial, but missing. Although Cirillo and the other soldier had rifles at the time, they were reportedly inert and used for ceremonial purposes. Cirillo would later die of his injuries, leaving behind a five year old son.

As witnesses and paramedics attempted to revive Cirillo, the gunman left the area in a beige car with the license plates removed, abandoning it several blocks from the parliament building and making his way there on foot. After getting through a checkpoint and commandeering a government vehicle, the gunman makes his way into Parliament's Centre Block.

Upon making his way inside the parliament building, members of parliament barricaded themselves in their offices as the gunman shot at sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, a veteran former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer from New Brunswick. Vickers returned fire with his sidearm, killing the gunman and stopping his rampage before he could get any further inside the parliament building.

Video released by a Toronto Globe and Mail reporter on the scene as events unfolded show officers advancing down a marble corridor with their weapons drawn. The camera jostles as a single shot rings out- believed to be from the assailant's lever-action .30-30 rifle- followed by a dozen or so shots fired in rapid succession [which could easily be from Vickers 9mm- NANESB!] echo through the corridors amid shouting and additional officers rushing towards the sound of gunfire.

The gunman has been identified by the RCMP as a 32 year old convert to Islam named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. The weapon used was a lever-action Winchester hunting rifle common in both Canada and the USA, but since Zehaf-Bibeau reportedly had a criminal record, investigators are looking into how he obtained the gun.

Sadly, Cpl Cirillo wasn't the first Canadian soldier killed by a radicalized islamist in eastern Canada this week. The Ottawa shooting comes just days after two Canadian soldiers were struck by a hit and run driver outside of Montreal. The driver, a 25 year old Québécois convert to radical islam named Martin Coutere-Rouleau reportedly waited for more than two hours in the parking lot of a building that housed a number of government and civilian agencies in St Jean sur Richelieu before striking at least two soldiers with his 2000 Nissan Altima. Coutere-Rouleau was later shot and killed by police during a high speed chase.

Both Coutere-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau were reportedly under scrutiny from Canada's CSIS intelligence service as the two of them adorned their social media pages with imagery supporting the ISIS Islamic group and expressing a desire to travel to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic state. Couture-Rouleau's passport was seized in June, but since he hadn't broken any Canadian laws the RCMP and Sûreté du Québec couldn't press charges. One of the soldiers, identified as 53 year old Patrice Vincent, later died of his injuries after being struck by Coutere-Rouleau's Nissan.

Prime minister Stephen Harper, who had recently pledged to support Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State, described both the Ottawa and St Jean sur Richelieu attacks as terrorism when addressing the nation on TV on Wednesday.