Archive | May 2015

Why I’ll be watching the NBA Finals

So why should a Boston sports fan who doesn’t like Lebron James and doesn’t care about the Golden State Warriors watch this year’s NBA Finals? This is a match up between two usually doormat franchises. Cleveland has only one trip to the finals in their history, and they were swept by the Spurs that time in 2007. The other most famous points in their history are Michael Jordan hitting the game winner over Craig Ehlo in 1989 and Lebron James’s decision to leave Cleveland for Miami in 2010.  

  

 Since then, Lebron and Dan Gilbert made up, Kyrie came on, and now Cleveland can complete a fairy tale. 

Golden State has only won one championship, and that was way back in the days of Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes, and head coach Al Attles in 1975. Since that time? They cost themselves repeatedly in the draft, trading Robert Parrish and the 3rd pick in the 1980 draft to the Boston Celtics for the top pick, which they used to get Joe Barry Carol. The results? Boston got Parrish and used the 3rd pick to get Kevin McHale, won 3 Championships in the following decade, while Parrish and McHale went onto the Hall of Fame.  

  

 The Warriors descended into the basketball abyss and would not get up until they drafted Chris Mullin in 1984. They would then build, dismantle, rebuild, and redismantle seemingly every other year for the next 15 or so years. Run TMC, Chris Webber, Baron Davis, so on and so forth. Then Steph Curry arrived, and the team we see today began to take shape and now they’re in the finals. 
Neither of these franchises have great history, there is no rivalry between these teams now, there is nothing in these team’s past to suggest that it’ll be a great series. And yet, I will watch this series with great interest and enjoyment. Why? 3 reasons.

1. These are the two best basbetball teams in the world. Entertainment to follow!

Yes, I am an unabashed Celtics fan. Yes, I care about the C’s above all else in the basketball world. Yes, I hope Paul Pierce come back to the C’s and not to the Clippers this offseason. But I am a general basketball fan. I’ll watch any hoops game of its a compelling and good enough matchup. Thankfully this one is a great match up. The records and highlights are as follows.

  Golden State: 67-15, 46-3 at home this year including playoffs. They have the best shooting backcourt in the league in Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, and a talented front court that has won me over in Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, and a skilled bench with Andre Iguodala and David Lee. They are the best team in the NBA. And they have a worthy opponent in the finals.

  Cleveland: 53-29, 12-2 in the playoffs this season. This team revolves around the superpowers of Lebron and Kyrie. Even without key players Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love, this team fought their way here. The play of role players, like Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgof, and Iman Shumpert has been crucial to a revival season in Cleveland. They’re trying to imitate my beloved 2008 Celtics as a team to go from a losing record in one season to winning it all the next season. They are the best team in the East, and they will give the Warriors fits. 

2. Mark Jackson calling the series.  

 ESPN’s top basketball broadcasting team, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson, will be calling the NBA Finals this year. Breen is excellent as a play-by-play man, though he’s not my favorite, that would be Kevin Harlan. I still enjoy Breen’s style. Van Gundy and Jackson are both excellent commentators in their own right, but Jackson has an interesting perspective on this series. He coached the Warriors last season! And was unfairly removed from his job, in my opinion. He will be able to provide interesting insight on the team and I will be interested in the dynamic of his broadcasts. Will he want his former team to lose? To win? Will he keep professional with a few momentary outbursts one way or the other? We’ll have to see. 

3. Boo Lebron!!

Yes I am now officially that guy. I’m not quite the guy that belongs in this picture though, as I know my team for sure.  


Regardless, I’m not a Lebron fan. I started watching basketball in about 2006, when Lebron and the Cavs played in Boston, and had an epic duel with Paul Pierce. Since this day, I’ve lived Pierce with a passion and opposed Lebron with equal passion. Plus, I’m a bitter Celtics fan. . He beat my team! I mean we broke his heart in 2008 and 2010, but he broke ours in 2011, 2012, and this season! I was in the arena when he led the Cavs to beat us. So yes, I’m a bitter C’s fan. But I still don’t pull for Lebron and I will root against his teams until the end. While I know it’d be an amazing story if he won a title in his first year back in Cleveland and an awesome thing for Cleveland, I’m sorry. I can’t bring myself to support Lebron on an NBA floor. Unless he plays for the C’s and I know that won’t ever happen. 

So there you go. Good basketball with interesting broadcast subtext and a guy I love to hate. I’ll enjoy the 2015 NBA Finals! 

Mohonk Golf: Woodchuck Golfing at its most Fun!

I’m on vacation in Upstate New York, specifically at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. It’s a fantastic vacation spot, and I’ll be writing about it when I get home from vacation on Thursday night. My dad, brother, and I went golfing yesterday on a fun 9 hole golf course that the resort runs. It’s a fun, quirky golf course. In the title, I called it a woodchuck golf course. What does that mean? Well it refers to a golf course in Vermont called the Woodchuck Golf Course that is flat out absurd and plays in a way that golf is just not meant to be played. A woodchuck style course is unusual, a little zany, but is consistently entertaining. This course is no normal course, but as it is a golf course, I will give a review of it. Admittidly, it’s not as high a quality golf course as I will usually be talking about here. Again, the categories I’m talking about are as follows. Facilities, Fairway Play, Greens, Aesthetics, Overall Difficulty. Without further ado, here comes the review.

Facilities 7/10

There are a few things you can expect to find at a golf course in the way of warming up. Things like a clubhouse, a practice green, and a driving range. On this course, well there’s a clubhouse. It feels like a regular house and has everything you need in a golfing clubhouse, so that’s good. There’s a practice green with plenty of holes to shoot at with all different slopes and angles to shoot at, so that’s good. There is however, no driving range. Therefore, there’s no way to warm up before your round. Points come off for that.

Fairway Play: 6/10

I know I should be kind to this course, but I have to be honest about this all. These fairways are not designed to produce great scores. They are designed to be wonky and make the golfer think “Wait huh?” about the hole that’s presented before them. Steep par 3’s, long par 4’s that go over incredibly steep hills then back up, trying to drop the ball onto the green from above, etc. These are some fun, yet rather frustrating holes to play. At least it’s entertaining. But, the golf quality of the fairways is not that high…

Green Play 7/10

The greens suffer from similar problems as the fairways. They’re designed to be a bit wonky, with funny hole placement, clever slopes, interesting angles to play on, and fun approaches. They have an entertainment factor which is certainty there, but the quality of golf on the greens is not the highest. So points come off for some absurd lies and hard ways to play the hole.

Aesthetics 8/10

It’s a pretty course. The shade provided by the trees you have to fight your way through is a fun touch, and it’s in upstate NY. There are some awesome vistas on the course. The points that come off are for there being way too many bugs, to the point where I felt like I was being eaten alive by bugs and for making the use of a cart effectively required and difficult on this course. It’s too hilly to walk around, and the hills that require you to use a cart also make it tough to use a cart.. Logic.

Total Difficulty: 7/10

This is quite a fun course. There’s plenty of difficulty, but the challenge comes from how unusual the course is. This is a fine way to get a challenge, and it is wildly different from any course I’ve played this year. But at some point, there has to be a regular golf challenge. There has to be a long tee shot that’s just a straight long shot, or a hard placement of a bunker, instead of dropping off a cliff or dropping into a ravine then climbing back out of it. At least that’s my thought, and while this course has some real golf challenges, I don’t believe there are enough to make up for a few too many gimmicky moments.

Hardest Hole: 7

A long tee shot, down a hill, trying to drop a ball on the green from above the hole. That messes with the psyche of the golfer and can mess you up. It did me.

Favorite Hole: 9

Good length, fun gimmicks(like trees in the middle of of the course), a proper green, and a good golf challenge. The perfect resort woodchuck golf hole. Plus I had my best shot on this hole. I chipped an 8 iron between two trees, over a hill, and landed the ball inside 3 feet from the hole. That wade a great end to a wonky but fun golf day.

Final Score: 35/50

This is not intended to be a great golf course from a pure gold standpoint. It’s a fun course, a good way to spend a vacation day at a good course, and a worthwhile part of my time. Check it out if you come by these parts!

    

Quechee Lakes Golf Review: 2 for the price of 1! 

Last week, I was up in the great state of Vermont. My dad’s company had their annual Off-Site event, and they took the show to Quechee, VT. As part of the entertainment, me and dad took people out to the golf course to play one of the two golf courses available for play, the Lakeland Course. On Sunday of that weekend, after everyone else left and before we got on the road, I went to play the other course, the Highland Course, with dad. So I have two courses to review here. I’ll do them both in one review, as they share some similar pieces. A reminder of what I’m judging the courses on.

General Facilities, Fairway Play, Greens, Aesthetics, Total Difficulty. I’ll give a hardest hole and favorite hole for each course.

General Facilities: 7/10

The two courses share the same warm up facilities, so they share the same score here.

The facilities here are generally pretty good. There’s a good place to get dressed and ready before the round. The snacks you can get on the turn for both courses is quality and worth stopping. The meal you can get on the deck after is also very worth it. The chipping and putting greens are right next to each other, and they’re both excellent warm up areas. The driving range is also usually pretty good. The only problem is, and this is why it costs points on this review, that the range wasn’t open! There was a water problem that had to be fixed on the range, as it’s the hill used for skiing during the winter and there’s a snowmaking system for the hill that went wrong. Well stuff happens, but still, no driving range to warm up on! Points deducted.

Fairway Play: Lakeland 8/10   Highland 8/10

Both courses get the same score on this section. They have a great mix of elevation, length, width, and they keep the player entertained and challenged the whole way. Points do come off the board for stretches that aren’t maintained too well, but by and large, the fairways are pretty good.

Greens Lakeland: 10/10  Highland 9/10

They play well on both courses, they’re both good to reach, they’re both a good mix of enjoyable and challenging. The Highland course loses a point because they are frequently sloped and it affects the play a bit too much for my tastes. Still a nice set of greens though.

Aesthetics: Lakeland 10/10 Highland 10/10

Both of these courses are just gorgeous. The Lakeland course has a spectacular set up over part of the lake, as the name demonstrates.

  

The Highland course has some amazing views and set ups as well.

        

Both get perfect marks on aesthetics.

Total difficulty: Lakeland 7/10   Highland 9/10

The Lakeland course, though aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to play, is a bit easy. It gets formulaic and easy to determine how to play it. The Highlabd course is much more difficult. There’s more changes in elevation and the two par threes on the back nine have deep ravines in the middle of them to make the hole more intimidating. It’s still a fun challenge and enjoyable to play.

Hardest Hole: Lakeland- 18  Highland 16

The last home of the Lakeland course is a long par 5 that you play after a long round. It’s a step up in difficulty from prior holes, there’s a lake right on the left side of the fairway to begin the hole, then a patch of trees to work through, then a sloped green. It’s a good time.

The 16th hole of the Highland course is a long par 3 with a deep ravine to shoot over, a steep drop in elevation, and it messes with the player’s psyche. Sweet.

Favorite Hole to play: Lakeland 11   Highland 2

Both these holes are long par 5’s. They allow for long irons and hybrid play, which currently are my best clubs. I posted great scores on both holes and hit my best shots here.

Final Scores: Lakeland 42/50  Highland  43/50

These are two fun courses to play. They’re excellent challenges, filled with entertaining holes, and worth an afternoon of play. I personally prefer the Lakeland Course on aesthetics, but the Highland Course is the slightly better course on aggregate, and only so slightly.


There’s no Place like Home: Wampanoag Golf Review

I’ve got some time to relax and enjoy my home state of Connecticut before starting my summer work. While I’m home, I may as well kick off my reviewing project with a golf course that’s near and dear to my heart: Wampanoag Country Club. It’s where I started playing golf. I’ve enjoyed many fond memories out here. Today was my first round of golf at Wamp this summer. This also serves as the first in my series of golf course reviews. I’ll grade it on a scale of 50 points with 5 categories, each category on a 10 point scale. The five categories for golf course reviews will be:

General facilities.      Fairway play.     Greens.       Aesthetics.       Total Difficulty.

Also included will be some miscellaneous things, including favorite hole and most difficult hole. So here goes the review.

General Facilities 7/10

Wamp has generally good facilities. The locker room is comfortable, I can store my stuff efficiently there, and I can get prepped there well. The driving range can get a little cramped when it’s a busy day, as today was. But it doesn’t lose points for that. That’s a general point for all driving ranges. The food also was good on the 19th hole, which is golf lingo for post round merriment. A full meal of tremendous food and excellent beverages, while sitting on a porch as the sun rests in the western sky is a wonderful way to end a good day on the course. So what costs the facilities points? The practice green. First off, they don’t allow you to chip there. I understand why that’s not allowed on that green, but to chip, you have to go down to a chipping space which sits between the fairways of the first and second fairways and the green of the ninth hole. It’s out of the way, and inconvenient for all involved. And it’s quite possible to get hit by someone on any of those three holes. It’s a fine space to practice on, but the location is not optimal. The regular putting green is also not optimal. The location is excellent. However it’s in bad shape. Many patches aren’t seeded properly, and because of that, big parts of the green don’t have holes to shoot at. This means the holes that are available have more people shooting at them, which makes the green feel smaller than it is. This makes it harder to warm up on arguably the most important part of the game: putting. The green costs points on a category where generally Wamp is very strong.

Fairway Play 10/10

 

(Just an FYI, I’m counting drives in this category.)

No major complaints here. There is a proper mix of long, short, wide, narrow, and any other kind of fairway you could want. They play comfortably, and give the player enough of a challenge to be enjoyable. The only point I could take off would be for the 14th and 15th holes, which are in poor condition now. But the holes still play well enough that their conditions did not affect play and thus do not cost the fairways any points.

Greens 7/10

Most of the greens played fine. They mixed sizes, slopes, and were generally pleasant and fun to play. There were, however, a few greens that were in bad enough condition that cost points. Specifically, the 14th green was in terrible condition. Getting there was not the real problem. But the 14th green was patchy and poorly seeded, similar to the practice green. That affected how you played it and took points off the enjoyment of it. There were other greens that weren’t in the best of conditions, but the 14th was the worst. Also, there were green side bunkers on both 11 and 16 that had ground wasp nests in them that led me to pull the ball out so as to not agitate the wasps and get myself stung. So yeah, points off for that.

Aesthetics 9/10

I got everything I could have wanted out of the course aesthetically. It was wonderfully green, wonderfully colored, and had plenty of cool water features running through the course. There was shade enough to keep you from getting too overheated, and it’s a good course to walk, which I did. The only point off is for the wind, even though that’s not really the course’s fault, and for the ground wasps. I’m not a fan of those. I already took a point off the greens for the wasps, but they affect other aspects of the course as well.

Total Difficulty 8/10

The total course isn’t the hardest I’ve ever played. It still provides a fair challenge. The final hole is widely considered the hardest closing hole in the state, and the course gives plenty of chances to put a ball in deep brush or water. It also has plenty of wide fairways that can lead to a ton of shots as you casually work your way to the green. The only points I take off on this section are for a bit of repetitiveness and relying on a few holes to even out the challenge. A good amount of the front nine are fairly easy to play, and the more difficult holes, 2, 8, and 9 are a big enough jump that it is a little unbalanced. The final hole is the hardest on the course, and it feels like the back nine depends on the final hole to give the hardest challenge with many holes not giving that hard a challenge. On aggregate, it’s a fun challenge to play the course.

Hardest Hole: 18

 

As I said before, this is often regarded as the hardest closing hole in the state. It’s a long hole, with a big pond you have to clear, then you have to go up a sharp hill to get to the green. If you get to the green and hit it too hard going down hill to the pin, it’s possible for it to go all the way down the hill, forcing you to start this part of the hole all over again. There are plenty of ways to mess up on this hole and it is the hole that everyone who plays the course remembers most vividly.

Favorite Hole: 6

This has always been my favorite hole to play on this course. You hit a tee shot over a hill, then let it roll a ways down a hill as you descend through a forest and try to drop the ball onto a wide green without putting it into the frontside bunker. I have so much fun playing that hole.

Total Score and Final Comments: 41/50

Wampanoag is a fun course to play. It’s a good mix of challenging, entertaining, pretty, and fun. It’s an early season day, so the greens will get in better shape as the year goes on, but they were in tough shape today. They’ll get better. They always treat people well at this course, and I would recommend it to any golfer looking for a good course to play.

The Review Is In

I’ve used this blog to express my thoughts on a wide array of topics. Baseball, school, music, theatre, politics, love, and numerous other topics of worthy discussion. I’ve enjoyed running this blog for the past year plus now. I want to diversify my content and style a bit. Looking at ways I can do that gave me an idea: Doing Reviews. Specifically reviewing two general places I’ll be spending a lot of time at this summer, ballparks and golf courses.

Working for the Whitecaps this summer means I’ll be going to every ballpark in the Cape League. And any bit of free time or vacationing I get this summer, especially if I’m with my dad, will be spent on a golf course. So I may as well put them to good use. I’ll determine the metrics to be used in the reviews and how to weigh them in determining my enjoyment of the park and course. When I start rolling these out, hopefully you enjoy them!

Why Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Shouldn’t Get the Death Penalty

Don’t confuse what I’m saying here. I don’t question Tsarnaev’s guilt. He planted the bombs at the marathon, he helped cause the death of four people, and injured dozens of others. He helped put the city of Boston in a state of fear and panic. He is absolutely guilty of everything he was charged with. He deserves to be punished for his actions and crimes against the people of Boston, especially the people he harmed at the marathon. He is guilty. I wrote about this earlier on this blog and my thoughts haven’t changed about that

However, I’m not a death penalty supporter. I’m strongly against it. I follow the Catholic view point on the death penalty almost to the point. First, take a look at it, then let me explain why it makes sense to me. First, here’s the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that touches on this. 

2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. 

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”
The main point of this is that the Church isn’t opposed to the death penalty. However, if the death penalty is to be administered, it must be the ONLY recourse to benefit society. If a society cannot keep a dangerous criminal away from society without the death penalty, then it’s the moral thing to do. However, due to the current state of our prisons, our technology, and our ability to run a secure country, we can keep criminals behind bars and run a secure prison. We can keep a murderer locked in prison in solitary confinement as pure punishment. In fact, I’d be more scared of solitary confinement than execution. If executed, I would be sent straight to the after life and I’d face my maker right then and there. In solitary confinement to a prison no bigger than a small hostel room with an immovable cement bed, a cement stool, a toilet and a sink, without human contact for 23 hours a day. That is a far worse punishment than death. 

One more problem I have with the death penalty is that the act speaks of terrible arrogance. To take someone else’s life is the ultimate act of arrogance and control over another person. It’s the sort of control that no person should be able to exert over another. We don’t have the right to decide when people should die because of their actions, even if their actions are so heinous and detestable. There’s a line from Gandalf in the movie The Fellowship of the Ring.  

 

I’d recommend that you read what the chaplain of Boston University, Father David Barnes, wrote about this today. It’s a bright insight on why the death penalty isn’t necessary, needed, and why mercy in this respect is the proper approach. 

http://shepherdspost.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-death-penalty-and-our-enemy.html
So, to sum up, the death penalty isn’t necessary, it isn’t the right punishment, and it’s wrong for us to use it in this case. There are all my thoughts on the use of the death penalty in the Tsarnaev case. This is one of the few things that I generally disagree with my family on, and it’s an important one to me. I hope and pray that we change our direction and path forward on this issue and that we don’t need to use it anytime soon. And I hope we recognize that it’s not a needed punishment now. 

Cape Cod: Summer Nostalgia

The semester is now over. So for now, so long Boston! I’m off to the Cape for the summer!

Well I was there and I will be back soon. After my semester ended last week, I went to the cape to plan my job situation. I have an internship with the Brewster Whitecaps, a team in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the summer. I’ll be writing the team’s games for the whole season. Basically, it’ll be my writing job for the BU basketball team, but for a different sport, team, and league. I can’t express enough how excited I am to start. If you go to one of these games, you get to see good baseball, played by the best collegiate ballplayers in the nation, for free, and in gorgeous Cape Cod. Clean air, crisp sunsets, a cool summer breeze, gorgeous sunlight during the day. It’s a marvelous mix that makes for a wonderful experience. The only problem with Brewster’s set up is that there’s no lights, so we can’t have night games, but oh well. 

But wait, what else did I have to figure out? Well the internship is unpaid. I, being a college student, I have this weird little thing called a lack of money. I need a job to earn a little money. I went ahead and got work with the kitchen staff at Cape Cod Sea Camps. I attended the camp and am a member of that family for the rest of my life. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and there are some fantastic people and memories there.  

  

  

  

  I loved it then, and I’m happy I get to return in some capacity, even if it’s not a glamorous one at all, which kitchen work isn’t. It pays, and it allows me to do the Whitecaps internship. 

And still, this was not the end of my nostalgia trip. I was only there for parts of 2 days and I had a bevy of moments that brought me back to my childhood. Camp, seeing my Cape house, and baseball related stuff were the strongest moments, but I had some serious flashbacks when driving around and getting ice cream at night, getting food at the Brewster House of Pizza, which is my favorite pizza place ever, and just hanging out and enjoying the place. 

There were two other awesome experiences that could only be had on the cape. The first was when I went to Stony Brook, a fun little old mill that’s not used for anything more than a quiet place for picnics, gatherings, and quiet reflection. In the first weeks of May, there’s an amazing happening. Herring fish swim up stream. A huge pack of them!! Dozens and dozens and dozens of fish! 

   
    And some of them do get eaten by the seagulls, but we don’t talk about that too much.  

    If they survive a gauntlet of hard jumps and seagulls, they make it to this peaceful and pristine pond so they can procreate. Sounds like a pretty good reward. 

  
The last moment of the trip was the one that most made me sit back in awe of the beauty that awaits me this summer. I got a dinner of fried shrimp and French fries. My mom and I drove to Rock Harbour beach, rolled down the windows, opened the sun roof, and enjoyed our dinner out there to this view. 

  
I get to experience good golf, baseball, beach weather, sunsets, good food, money, and great experiences. Man do I have a great summer ahead of me! Much like some of the summers that have passed to memory.