Eldredge Park Review

Finally, a road review! Took a while but I have finally gotten around to visiting a field other than Stony Brook and writing about it! I’ve been to everyone already, now I’m just writing about them. 

Out of all the parks in the Cape that aren’t Stony Brook, I’ve been to Eldridge the most. It makes sense, Orleans is close to my house and I’ve been to plenty of games here. Let’s put my positive history aside and analyze the park critically. Would you like this place? Let’s find out. This is Eldridge Park, home of the Orleans Firebirds. 

Location: 10/10

Eldridge is located at Nauset Regional Middle School, right on the corner of RT. 28 and Eldridge Parkway. Those are two busy streets in the town and the field is hard to miss. It’s easy to see from the street and frequently attracts attention. On top of being visible, the park also has plenty of parking. The school has a sizeable parking lot for the early crowd and a separate football field and track where they can direct overflow traffic to. It can be a bit hard to navigate lot traffic but that can be said if every large lot ever. Point is, there’s plenty of it for people who drive by, like what they see, and want to stop and watch for a bit. 

In addition, Eldredge is quite well located within the town. Orleans is a fairly small place. But it swells significantly in the summertime. It has a great business district for shopping, restaurants, and general merriment. There’s also a theatre, a few great beaches, and plenty of good entertainment for the whole family in town. A number of these things are a short drive from the field, but that’s not too much of a concern. It’s close enough to make everything doable in a weekend or so. The business district is also close enough that you could have a short walk to the field. It’s not the ideal setup, but you can do it. All things considered, I have absolutely no problems at all with the location of the field. It works as a part of the Orleans experience and can cap a great day exploring the town. Perfect marks here. 

Seating: 9/10

Eldredge can host some of the biggest crowds in the Cape League. I was at the highest attended Cape League game to this point, a playoff game between Orleans and YD in 2015. Why can it host so many? Well there’s a ton of space around the fences. Plenty of open grass and room to sprawl out on a blanket and make it a picnic. 

The most distinct feature of Eldredge is the hill overlooking the first baseline all the way from home plate to the foul pole. It’s common practice to bring chairs, blankets, and other stuff and mark off spots on the hill the morning or afternoon before a 7pm first pitch. It serves as excellent advertising before the game and a great place to watch from. You can see everything, you can sit in a comfy lawn chair or blanket, and enjoy one of the prettiest baseball sights you’ll ever experience. Similar points apply to the area behind the third baseline. It’s not as high a hill or as distinctive, but there’s just as good, if not better, a view there. It’s actually my favorite place to sit for a game here. There’s also room to sit in all parts of the outfield. So in terms of locations and spacing, there’s incredible variety and quality in every place. 

The only point I’m taking off is for a lack of variety in kinds of seating. There are four bleacher seat areas. One’s in close to deadaway center, one’s in right field and two are near home plate on the first base side. The issue with these is that most of these are kinda useless. The outfield ones are partly obstructed by the top of the outfield fences, so you can’t sit on the lower parts and see the game. And the ones near home plate are in front of each other, thus making the back one kind of an obstructed view. Yeah, an obstructed view behind home plate, that actually exists in a park without pillars. There are also some picnic tables in right field, and while these are pretty good, they feel like an afterthought. They’re just kinda there without more being available to do or see under the trees in right field. 

All this is to say that Brewster does a better job of seat variety. To get a great experience at Orleans, you have to bring a chair or blanket, or be ok with sitting on the grass. Here’s the thing though, if you’re cool with that, you’ll find better views, and a better air to enjoy the game, especially under the lights. 

Food: 7/10

Like Stony Brook, Eldredge’s food is managed by volunteers from the Nauset Public Schools. It is a ticket system for cooked goods and functions in a similarly efficient manner to Brewster. Things are pretty similar except in one major way, the location. Orleans’ food set up is behind the hill on first base, above the majority of the crowd. And it is very set back from the field. It feels remarkably separated from the action and takes you out if it while you wait and are distant from the game. It is the weakest part of the field and can be averted by not going there for food. Just go to some place in the business district. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

Without hesitation this is one of the prettiest baseball fields I’ve ever seen. The field was renovated in the offseason and it looks gorgeous, green, and luscious. There’s greenery and trees around the field without feeling like you’re in a forest. Games start at 7pm, so there’s normally a pretty sunset to welcome fans at the start of the game. Playing under the lights is a lovely touch. It feels like big time baseball, and makes the experience feel like a scene from Field of Dreams. It’s also the most distinct field in the league, hosting the most unique set pieces. Rt. 28 gives the chance for foul balls to hit cars, the hill is a lovely touch, and there’s a band stand in right field that serves as the view for the Orleans bullpen. It’s a unique look. The outfield decoration isn’t as good as Brewster, with few patterns in the grass, but everything else about this park is so perfect that any complaint would be a useless nitpick. This park is beautiful. 

General Atmosphere: 10/10

Again, this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a baseball field. Every point from the prior category applies here. The chance to sit at a unique looking ballpark under the lights watching teams of excellent college players is a marvelous experience. The kids can enjoy running on the flat grass between innings, playing on the playground in left center field, and siting with their parents and grandparents a the ballgame. The crowds are big, the chance to sit out on the grass and picnic is a lovely chance, and the air around the park is wonderful. Perfect marks again. 

Total Score: 46/50

This is one of the best baseball experiences you can have. I am not exaggerating. The field is perfectly located, wonderfully set up, and absolutely beautiful to look at. It does require a little more work to get a great experience out of this than at Brewster. You pretty much have to bring a blanket or a chair to sit on the hill and get the best experience. But the best times at this field are among the best in the sport. This is not just a required visit for the Cape League, this is a required trip for any baseball fan. 

Baby Driver Review: Spontaneous Thrills

I normally don’t go to movie theatres. Most movies I catch now a days are DVDs, Blue Rays, or XFinity at my house or at showings my friends host. Occasionally though, I will go on a whim and see a film in theatres. My parents are on Cape and we had a free night. So my dad pitched the idea to see a film on Friday night. We all agreed. We ate quickly and drove over to the theatre in Dennis. We forgot it was opening night of the new Spider Man movie, so we had to wait in line for a while. Fortunately, once we got our tickets, we walked into one of the best films I’ve ever seen in person. 

I’m not exaggerating, Baby Driver is one of the absolute best expereinces I’ve ever had at a movie theatre. Why’s that? Well I shall explain. 

Let’s start with the absolute best thing about the film in my eyes (or ears): the sound design. The main character has a hearing issue and wears earbuds so he can listen to music and drown out the tin. The choice of music is excellent and fits the situation well in every situation, whether it’s sweet and romantic, tense and perilous, or fast and thrilling. What’s ear catching is how the music works with the other sounds. When someone passes Baby(yes that’s the main character’s name; we’ll talk about him later) the sound of their voice fades in and back out when they leave. The same thing happens with car horns, jackhammers, and anything else Baby can interact with. It mirrors the way you hear things with earbuds on in real life and is remarkably effective in putting you in the scene. You feel Baby’s character and thoughts through his music choices and subtle actions more than anything else. It is remarkably effective and it is something not many films will have a chance to replicate. The sound designers should win the Academy Award for Sound Design and it should not be a conversation.

The rest of the technicals of the film are excellent too. The cinematography is outstanding, especially with all the motion. The film never stays still, whether the criminals are discussing a heist, in the middle of crime, if Baby is out and about, or if the lead couple is on a date. The film doesn’t stay still, even when it’s slowing down from the violence of the crime world. 

I guess I’ll talk about that part now, don’t see this movie if you’re squeamish. There is a ton of violence. Not as much as The Revenant, but it is still not for the faint of heart. There are high pressure scenarios, shockingly violent deaths, fierce gun battles, and plenty of blood and explosions to go around. However, it’s not grituitous. Everything feels earned and nothing feels out of place. 

Which brings me to the action and car chase scenes, they are outstanding. The chases are beautifully captured and flow seamlessly. The action is remarkable. It does feel a little much, but everything else is so grounded and feels so real that the action can be as thrilling as the director can make it. The car chases are beautiful to watch, and in my opinion, top the chases in any Fast and Furious movie. Baby Driver‘s chances aren’t as elaborate, but they are more real because you care more about the characters in the cars, at least about Baby, than any Furious film. 

Now on the writing and story, I’ve rarely been as compelled in a film. The premise of a talented get-away driver who’s musically inclined and has a painful past trying to live a regular existence but getting pulled back into the crime world of Atlanta, and thus endangering his loved ones is an interesting premise and it works beautifully well. The film constantly twists and turns and always gives you new things to think about and doesn’t let you rest. 

The actors are perfectly cast for their roles. Andes Elgort is perfect as Baby and carries the film. He’s charming, lovable, and a fun character to watch. Jon Hamm and Elsa Gonzalez are outstanding as a robbing duo and dirty couple. They bring some edge to the film. Jaime Foxx is magnificent. He has no regard for anyone but himself, is scarily trigger happy, and is the film’s psychotic wild card. Kevin Spacey is manipulative, controlling, and completely captivating. Basically, he’s Kevin Spacey and is his character from House of Cards. You’ll love watching him. Lily James is striking and charming, working beautifully well as the love interest and the lighter side of a crime movie. But the character who stole every scene for me was CJ Jones’s character, who never says a word yet completely steals the whole show. Watch the film and you’ll see what I mean. 

Lastly, Edgar Wright deserves incredible praise as the writer and director of the film. This has been a premise he’s wanted to work on since 1994. He turned the planned opening of the film into a music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song”. He kept it on the back burner until the time was right and finally got the chance to make it a reality. My only concern is that he’s been in discussion for a sequel and I think it’d work well as a stand alone. I hope there’s no unnecessary sequel. 

Baby Driver manages to work as a crime thriller with romantic elements. It juggles a few different genres and works so well. It is one of the absolute best films I’ve ever watched in a theatre. If you have a free night and can stomach some brutal violence, do whatever you can to go see this movie. It is worth every single penny paid to see it. 

Stony Brook Field Review Revisited

Well, this is fitting. The first time I tried to make this little project happen, I got as far as the first post and got derailed by other things. Now, let’s get the project started by revisiting the only field I touched on in 2015. This is my look at Stony Brook Field, the home of the Brewster Whitecaps. 

Now a few points before I get into the actual review. I love the Whitecaps organization. They gave me a chance to be a writer. That chance started me on the career I have today. They’ve allowed me to meet amazing athletes, fun fans, and among the best people I’ve ever encountered. I love the memories I have made at this field. They are among the best I ever have in sports. That being said, I will keep my blissful memories out of a critical analysis of the field’s merits and flaws. A little spoiler, most of the review will be praise, but I am not blind to possible improvements. Let’s get started! 

Location: 9/10

Brewster has a bigger year-round population than Orleans or Chatham, but it doesn’t have a real “downtown” or business area. So there isn’t a truly central place to put the field. They put it at Stony Brook Elementary School, which works well enough. The school is on Underpass Road, between the two major roads in Brewster, 6A and 137. It’s signed well on both roads, so the location works. It’s right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, so bikers can come by and see the crowds and come on in. There’s also a few bike shops, a pizza place, a mini golf course, a fish place, and a popular taco place right next door, so there’s plenty of stuff right around the field. There’s also plenty of parking around the field, including overflow parking at Eddy Elementary, just a short walk through the woods away. The only location point I’m taking off is a general issue with Brewster: it’s way too spread out and doesn’t have a central business area the way other towns do. The only other issue is that it’s in a residential area and the locals don’t want lights on late, so there are no lights at Stony Brook. Those slight issues aside, the location works well and I quite like it. 

Seating: 9/10

Brewster has incredibly varied seating. There are traditional metal bleachers up the first and third baselines that get you up close to the field. You’re behind a fence, but you kinda have to be for safety. Foul balls can be hit hard. There are also a few hills you can bring chairs to sit on. The biggest one is over the first baseline and makes for a great chance at foul balls. There’s also a smaller hill on the third baseline, but you have to get there EARLY to grab a spot there. Lastly, there’s a hill in center field that overlooks the whole field. It’s a cool place, but there are two issues. First, it could be mowed down a bit. There are too many weeds and it’s quite messy. Don’t sit there without a blanket or a chair. Second, it is far from the action. That’s an issue with any baseball game, but it feels more away from the game in Brewster than at other fields I’ve been to. 

In addition to all that, there are picnic tables down the first baseline that provide a different feel completely. Unless you have food with you or have a young family, I wouldn’t recommend sitting there. It doesn’t give the best viewing angle if the game. 

Stony Brook has remarkable variety in style of seats and viewing perspectives. It can give you two completely different perspectives of the same game. The only point off is split between the listed issues for center field and the picnic tables. Otherwise, the seats are excellent. 

Food: 8/10

For many years, the Whitecaps had the assistance of the Brewster Skippers, a jump rope team that did fundraising by selling the food at Whitecaps games. They had a trailer along the third base line that they operated out of. It was unique, and the food was excellent. Last year was the last for the skippers, as they had a hard time getting a crew together for it, and the food set up is now different. 

Now the food is done by volunteers from the Nauset Regional Schools. They have a tent set up right next to the school, on the hill overlooking the 1st base side. It’s the same set up as Orleans and, spoiling that review a little, it works nicely over there. The new set up is quite good. It’s a ticket set up for grilled items. The selection is rather elementary but they do everything well and get it to you in a timely fashion while being courteous. Only points off are for the location being away from the souvenir trailer and the rather simple selection. Otherwise, it’s pretty good. 

Aesthetics: 10/10

This is a pretty field. The layout allows for some breathtaking sunsets over the third base side, the scoreboard is the best and most complete in the league, and the lack of lights takes nothing away from how pretty a field this is. Especially with Ryan Smith as the best creating patterns in the field pregame. No problems at all here. 

General Atmosphere: 9/10

This is an excellent baseball atmosphere. The public address announcer is the best in the league, The fans are excellent, and the playground behind the press box is outstanding for the kids. The only point off is for small things, like how the lineup posting is a piece of paper in a bulitin board on the back of the press box instead of a larger and more asthetically pleasing form like a whiteboard or chalkboard or how there’s no speed gun showing how hard the pitcher is dealing. Otherwise, it’s outstanding. 

Total Score: 45/50

This is an excellent ballpark. It does everything well and is a must see for anyone privy to the Cape League. Brewster is not a summertime destination in the same way Orleans or Chatham are, but people staying at Ocean Edge or in the area are doing themselves a gross disservice not going to a Whitecaps game. Go to Stony Brook and take the kids. They will love the playground and stay for the great baseball too. 

Cape League Reviews

Since buying our house in Brewster in 2000, the Cape Cod Baseball League has been a regular part of our summertime merriment. We’ve followed the Brewster Whitecaps through many summers, tough games, and two different home fields. I’ve been to every single field in the league and I’ve formed many memories. I’ve also gotten to work in and around the league. 

In 2012, I interned for the Whitecaps as a gameday ops intern, taking donations at the gate, selling 50/50 raffle tickets, setting up the stands and cleaning them up post game, hanging banners and advertisements in the outfield, and promoting the team and players wherever I could. Three years later, I rejoined the Caps as the team’s writer and social media intern. The year after, I had a hybrid internship that had me splitting time as a game day ops guy and a writer. This year, I’m working for Lower Cape TV as a cameraman and production guy broadcasting Whitecaps games. So I’m back on Cape and working around the league and the Whitecaps again. I also started writing reviews of Cape League ballparks. I’ve kept myself plenty busy in recent summers. 

About that last thing though, I never actually finished the review project. I did a review of my home park in Brewster and never did more. What happened? Simple: I got distracted by other stuff. I was writing for the Whitecaps and had enough on my plate at the time. This summer, I’m finally gonna get that done. I’m gonna review every ballpark in the Cape League. That includes redoing my look at Stony Brook Field in Brewster. I’ll be judging the field based on location, seating, food, aesthetics, and general atmosphere, each on a scale of 10 points. 

I’ll just lay out my favorite ballparks as they are now. And I am excluding Brewster from this initial ordering. I’m a little biased in their favor. 

  1. Chatham
  2. Orleans 
  3. Cotuit
  4. Hyannis
  5. Harwich
  6. Yarmouth-Dennis
  7. Bourne
  8. Wareham
  9. Falmouth

I’ll reevaluate all my opinions on these fields as the summer goes on. I’m quite curious to see how the fields matchup. Here’s to baseball! 

1776: A Poignant, Patriotic, and Comical Musical

The Fourth of July is a hotly anticipated day for us Americans. It means the peak of summer! Grills, baseball, vacation, beach time, fireworks, and time to celebrate with friends and family. It is a wonderful day. Though I have to remind myself that the holiday is called Independence Day and we’re celebrating more than just summer being awesome. It is also the birthday of the United States. 

It’s been 241 years to the day since the founders of the United States got together in Philadelphia and signed the Declaration of Independence, committing treason against the greatest empire in the world at the time, and boldly claiming freedom to make their own brand new nation. The American Revolution is a remarkable story and almost certainly the most astounding revolution in human history. It makes for excellent books, plays, movies, TV shows, and myths. Plenty of all have been made throughout the years. I recently watched one of the best: a musical film released in 1972 that focuses on the month long stretch from June to July of 1776 when the Continental Congress aggressively debated whether they would separate from the British Empire. The film is, appropriately, called 1776. It is an adaptation of a 1969 musical that won the Tony Award for Best Musical. If you are a fan of musicals, and appreciate the gravity and humor of the American Revolution, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. 

It centers on John Adams (played by William Daniels) trying to propose and pass American Independence through a useless, do nothing Congress that is spinning its wheels and voting on silly matters that aren’t worth the attention. He seeks and receives help from Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva) who quips and sleeps his way through the whole film while being a lovable womanizer, Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard), who mostly sits quietly but delivers powerful prose and wisdom when called upon, and Abigail Adams (Virginia Vestoff), who appears to John through letters as a calming prescence, a respit from the idiocy of Congress, and a chance to sort out thoughts on the given situation. Throughout the film,  those seeking independence have to wrestle with those seeking to maintain the status quo of British citizenship and slavery, like John Dickinson (Donald Madden) and Edward Rutledge (John Cullum). 

The film stays in Philadelphia and is only concerned with the proposal, discussion, debate, and signing of the Declaration of Independance. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton do not appear at all in person. Washington is only referred to through his depressing dispatches, and there are no battle scenes shown. The action is the political discussions surrounding the Congress. 

The most praised aspect of the film is the consistent mockery and humor at the expense of government, different states, and the characters themselves. Rightly so. This is a funny movie. Everyone is a charicature. John Adams is an Oompa Loompa from puritan Boston that yells and is obnoxious. Ben Franklin is an old womanizer who sleeps all film but is actually the wisest man there. The North Carolina delegation constantly yields to South Carolina and the South Carolinians are elegant jerks. 

On top of the characterization, the lyrics and lines are also filled with excellent humor. 

When saying why he should not write the Declaration, Roger Sherman explains “I don’t know a participle from a predicate. I am just a simple cobbler from Connecticut.” 

When Jefferson’s wife (yes there are historical innacuracies; we’ll talk about those later) shows up and relieves his stress, as it were, Adams comments on their choice of timing and asks Franklin: “Are they going to…? In the middle of the afternoon!?”

Franklin responds: “Not everyone’s from Boston, John.”

And when asked about the New York delegation’s lack of direction in voting, one representative responds: “Have you ever been to a meeting of the New York legislature? Everyone talks very loud and fast, no one listens to each other, and thus, nothing ever gets done.” 

The writing is top notch and it makes for an entertaining time. 

The music is only ok though. The lyrics are the best part of it. The choreography is rather simple and the notes themselves are not too complex. They weren’t trying to make a hard musical in those ways, but I can’t help but point out these issues. And as much as I like Daniels as Adams, I can’t help but find his singing voice disappointing. It’s not a deal breaker, but for the lead of the film, they could’ve gotten someone who’s a better singer. Other than that, the technicals of the film are exactly what can be expected from an early 70’s musical. The sets are on point, the costumes are excellent and the sound design works wonderfully. Everything technically is upto standards and works well. 

The biggest issue to be taken with it is the historical innacuracies. Jefferson’s wife did not actually go to Philadelphia during the time of the real thing, and the voting on the idea actually took place on July 2nd, before signing the declaration on the 4th. There are more, but I won’t harp on them. This isn’t trying to be a true to life adaptation of the real events, it is trying to show the atmosphere of the times and the gravity of declaring independence. And it does that well. 

While I praised the humorous tone of the film early, 1776 also has moments that are played stone cold seriously. This is honestly where the film is at its best for me. The debate scene between the proposal of Independence and the formation of the committee for writing a Declaration of Independence is played straight and the tension of the moment is perfect. “Molassas to Rum” is a scathing commentary on the nature of the slave trade and slavery in the south and is the best number in the movie. Cullum plays it up as Rutledge and shines. The thing he’s promoting are horrible, but it is supposed to grab your attention and it does. 

On the subject of slavery, this film shows excellent awareness of how murky an issue it was in those days. Adams and Jefferson wanted to remove slavery from the new nation, but the economy of the southern states depended upon it. If removed, the Deep South would’ve folded completely and the economic problems after the war would have likely been even worse. Adams acknowledged that “Future generations will never forgive us.” Franklin answered “That may be so, but without a country that won’t matter much.” It was an absolutely impossible moral dilemma and the way it is shown in this film is enlightening and sobering. 

The ending of the film is also sobering and jarring. The signing of the Declaration is played completely straight and with an air of “oh crap what are we doing” hanging over the scene. You’d think it’d end on a high note, but it doesn’t. It ends in a somber mood, as if to say “the fight has yet to be won”. That’s absolutely the correct way to end the film. The founders were committing treason against the greatest empire in the world and the greatest power since Rome. They knew they would likely fail. And by all rights, they should have failed. But they didn’t. 

When I think about why I celebrate Independence Day, I always think about how unlikely it is that the country should exist. The debate, the wars, the odds, the fight against human nature, nothing on paper says that America should exist today, let alone should have escaped the first months of its existence. This country has been through an unbelievable journey and it began in Philadelphia back 241 years ago. 

Hamilton is a more entertaining look at America’s founding and nature. But 1776 is a more accurate portrayal of the atmosphere of the country’s founding. It benefits from a tight focus on one location and particular month, excellent writing and a healthy dose of comedy balanced by sobering reality. If you have not seen this film, take some of your Independence Day to watch it. 

Why Pittsburgh Won Again

The Stanley Cup Finals are over a game too early! This postseason was one of the best ever. Overtimes were plentiful, heartbreak was everywhere, and the sport put on a show that no other league can. There’s just one issue: It ended before we got to Game 7 of the Finals! Aside from that disappointment, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators provided fans with a well played and exciting cap to the 2017 NHL playoffs. At the start of the series, I predicted a Penguins victory with the provision that it was a toss up decision. With the series over, let’s take a look at what led to Pittsburgh hoisting their second consecutive Stanley Cup. 

1. Predator’s Lack of Offensive Potence

The chatter before the series was about Nashville’s defensive unit going up against Pittsburgh’s hall of fame forwards. Both teams were injured in critical ways and tried to play to their strengths with their cores. Nashville won when their defensive unit could keep Pittsburgh off the puck. Unfortunately, the Predators did not have the forwards to keep pace with the Penguins lines. Nashville was short on the offensive end, which makes some sense as Pittsburgh sports two guaranteed Hall of Famers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and one borderline Hall of Famer in Phil Kessel. But there were two major pieces that could’ve lifted the Preds offense. 

24 year old Ryan Johansen was one of the best centers in the league this season. This postseason, he played in 14 games and collected 13 points. He was a major piece of the Predators attack. And he was not able to play in the Finals. In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks, Johansen took a hit and felt unusual pain in his leg. He played the whole game, which went into overtime, showered, realized just how bad his leg was, and got himself to the hospital. He was diagnosed with Acute Compartment Syndrome in his left thigh and was shut down for the remainder of the playoffs. So Nashville was without a top center. 


There’s one other personnel issue that undercut Nashville’s chances for success. In 2012, Nashville selected Jimmy Vesey, a left winger from Harvard, with the 66th pick in the draft. Vesey played all four years inn Cambridge, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the best collegiate player in 2016 and laying the foundation for Harvard’s hockey renaissance. Near the end of his time in college, the Crimson star was guaranteed a spot on the Predators regular season and postseason roster in 2016. However, Vesey informed Nashville that he was not interested in signing with them. He did not want to play in Tennessee and wanted to choose his own destination. He ended up signing with the New York Rangers. He helped the team to a playoff series upset over the Montreal Canadiens, but they lost in the second round to the Ottawa Senators. While Vesey watched, the team he spurned had a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup. The Boston native wanted to determine his own landing spot. He got what he wanted, but for now, Vesey screwed up royally. He could have been competing alongside PK Subban and Mike Fisher for the Stanley Cup in his second year in the pros. 


Without two major potential pieces, Nashville was behind the eightball against the Pittsburgh forwards and they failed to overcome the deficit. Their defensive corps was good, just not the forwards. 

2. Controversial Stripes

Let’s deal with this now: Nashville got absolutely screwed by one of the worst officiating calls I’ve ever seen. To be fair, the Predators had plenty of opportunities after the blown call to score, including a 5 on 3 power play in the third period. But proceeding opportunities do not change the fact that the game should have been 1-0 Nashville in the second period. Early in the frame, Nashville had momentum, energy, and the crowd. Filip Forsberg fired the puck on net and it got through Matt Murray for Colton Sissons to put it home. Except the official thought Murray had controlled the puck and whistled the play dead, wiping the goal off the board. To repeat myself and ensure my position, the Preds had opportunities to score and take the lead later in the game, but those later chances do not excuse abysmal officiating. 


3. Pekka’s Poor Play

In the first three rounds of the postseason, 34 year old Pekka Rinne played the best hockey of his career. He totaled a 1.71 Goals Against Average and a .943 save percentage, both among the best in the history of the NHL for a postseason. Against Pittsburgh though, Rinne was a mere mortal. He was pulled twice in the series, in games 2 and 5, and his GAA went up to 2.33 while his save percentage dropped to .888 for the series. The Predators needed exceptional play from Rinne to beat Pittsburgh and they did not get it, especially in Pittsburgh. His counterpart, Matt Murray, lived up to the pressure and performed admirably all series, with a shutout in the final game of the series. Pekka turned into a pumpkin before midnight while Murray got to dance at the ball the whole night. 


4. Steady Sullivan

Ever since getting the job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Sullivan has been the most steady coach in the league. His team was outplayed by Washington for most of their second round series, and got destroyed by Ottawa in multiple games of that series. Sullivan saw the team through both of those roadblocks and led the Penguins to their second consecutive championship. He joins Toe Blake as the second head coach to win Stanley Cups in their first two seasons. Enjoy the stability of a BU Terrier favorite Pittsburgh!


5. Perseverant Penguins

The calling card for Pittsburgh all postseason was their ability to persevere and fight. They went the length of the hardest postseason in sports without their top defenseman, Kris LeTang, and lost Nick Bonino in the Finals. They used both goaltenders in the playoffs. Marc-Andre Fleury almost singlehandedly beat Columbus and Washington after Murray injured himself during warmups in Game 1 of the postseason. Then Murray replaced Fleury in the Conference Finals against Ottawa when Fleury gave up 4 goals on nine shots in Game 3. And they went on to topple the Senators in Overtime. They then struggled to find a way to beat Nashville on the road in Games 3 and 4 of the finals. They outlasted Nashville, and created the opportunities to win. They killed a 5 on 3 late power play, scored off Rinne’s back, and escaped with the franchise’s fifth Stanley Cup. 


One last thing, Crosby should not be a 2 time Conn Smythe Trophey winner. Phil Kessel was robbed of that trophey last year and this year’s award should’ve gone to either Evgeni Malkin or Jake Guentzel. 

All that said, congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins on their second consecutive Stanley Cup. They fought through an incredible series of battles and deserve the win. Crosby has secured his position in the upper eschilon of hockey’s elite, and the Penguins earned the title in a sport not built for repeat champions. I feel for the Predators. They went on a deep run and established themselves as a bonafide hockey destination. They have a great team and will be a competitor in the West. I just hope they can rebound from the pain to start next season strong. And now we have to wait until autumn to get the glories of hockey again. 

Why Watch the 2017 NBA Finals?

Oh boy, another match up between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. We’ve never seen this match up before… OK we could see this coming from a mile away. The NBA postseason has been wickedly boring and predictable. From the standpoint of a general NBA fan, it was one of the worst postseasons in recent memory. Golden State swept their way to the finals while Cleveland dominated almost every single game they played, losing only one in the Eastern Connference Finals to the Boston Celtics. I’m honestly a little bored with this matchup and discussion surrounding it after the last year. So why watch the NBA Finals this year?

1. Rivalry

These teams don’t like each other. They’ve shown remarkable contempt for each other through the last year with remarkable acts of trolling and subversion. They’ve also stage memorable battles in each of the last two NBA Finals.  This Golden State team is built to defeat LeBron and the Cavs. If there is any series with anticipation energy and height in the last few years, this is it. There is bad blood, and these teams are designed to beat the other. Yay passion and desire still existing! 


2. Style of Play

Since breaking out in 2015, the Golden State Warriors have rewritten in the style of play in the NBA. They took Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced style  of play and took it to its logical next progression. Golden State was the first team to win a championship by predominately shooting three-pointers at a high clip. However the 2015 championship is looked at with a little bit of contempt. They never faced a fully healthy team in the postseason and yet still ran into trouble with highly to please units in Memphis and Cleveland. The next year when facing fully healthy teams in Oklahoma City and Cleveland, The Warriors barely scraped by OKC and were edged by Cleveland. If the Warriors lose this series to Cleveland, I think the NBA will move away from three point shooting as your dominant method of winning basketball games. Teams will start going to size and rebounding more with players like Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love becoming much more desirable than players like Klay Thompson.

3. Are Curry and Durant that good?

The last three MVPs of the NBA are the stars for the Warriors, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Both have had exceptional success personally and team wise, seeing many playoff roster their careers.  However both have faced sharp criticism in recent years and rightly so.

Curry has won the last two MVPs , the last one unanimously, and has become the NBA’s most marketable player after LeBron.He’s a charming, kind, and respectable individual and not an athletic freak like Durant or James. Despite his personal success though, Curry has seen his image chipped at. He did not win the MVP of the 2015 files and was not a leading contender for that award. Andre Iguodala, the teams sixth man won the award and Klay Thompson was a more likely winner than Curry. The next year, after winning the MVP unanimously in the regular season, Curry was one of the reasons the Warriors lost in the Finals. Outside of game 4, his performance was painfully pedestrian and his game 7 effort, particularly his 4th quarter, were awful and gave the Cavaliers a chance to win their first title. If the Warriors lose the championship this year, Steph takes a major hit to his legacy. 


His one time rival and current team and it has more to lose though. Since entering the league in 2007, Kevin Durant has proven to be one of the most dynamic scorers the league has ever seen. He’s a 7 foot tall forward who can handle and shoot like a guard, block shots like a center, and lead a high-quality team in rebounding. He can do everything on a basketball court, except when the biggest games. With the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durrant went to the NBA Finals one time and the Western Conference Finals  and additional three times. Durant never win a title, with notable losses coming to the Spurs in 2014, the Heat in Durant’s only trip to the Finals in 2012, and blowing a 3-1 lead in 2016 to Golden State with a damning game 6 effort highlighting the lost title chance. To make matters more complicated, Durrant left a talented OKC team to play with the team that just knocked him out in order to take the path of least resistance to the Finals. Durrant look to join a super team to win the Title he desires. Durant has a poor postseason reputation and if the Warriors win with him being a no show or lose, Durant’s legacy gets torpedoed. 


4. Is LeBron the greatest?

I can’t avoid this. I absolutely hate the comparison between Michael Jordan and LeBron James for many reasons. However, it is one of the most compelling reasons to watch the series. Since entering the NBA, LeBron has Reed written in the record book. He’s already put himself in the conversation with Larry Bird, Magic, Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Bill Russell, and Shaq as one of the greatest players ever. If he wins the series against a team that was designed to stop him, LeBron seals his place as a top three player in the history of the league. I won’t say who is the better player until LeBron’s career is done. I want to see the full scope of LeBron’s career before I can rank him historically. That said, LeBron’s performance in this series will dictate his historical ranking. 


Prediction

This series had better make up for such a disappointing postseason. I will be very happy if it does is a basketball fan. Much like my prediction for the Stanley Cup finals, I’m not sure who to choose. Golden State is more talented from top to bottom but the Cavaliers have the best player in the world on the floor. I think this will go six or seven games and if I were forced to choose a winner today, I would pick Golden State. LeBron definitely has the talent to lead his team to victory and the Cavs are a great team. I could just more easily see Golden State winning the series. PLEASE BE A GOOD MATCHUP!!!