Who Are These Cubs? 

The Chicago Cubs are the feel good story of sports this year. They are a talented team playing for an old franchise that hasn’t won in a while that is talented enough to win a championship and end years of agony in Wrigley Field. It’s a wonderful story that should get people who aren’t baseball fans interested in the sport. It’s got me hoping that the Cubs can perform well enough to win a championship. All of this against the backdrop of giving tribute to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. The script can be so perfect. Theo Epstien turned the perennial losers in Boston into the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox, now he’ll break another curse and bring the city of Chicago a championship. That would be the ideal scenario. I’m hopeful that they are the 2004 Red Sox. They also could be the early 2000’s Sacramento Kings. 

  Allow me to explain a little history here. In the early 2000’s, the Sacramento Kings rose from basketball ignominy to dizzying heights of style and praise not seen since the franchise won their only NBA Championship in 1951 as the Rochester Royals. They have not been back to the NBA Finals since. They bounced around from Rochester to Cincinnati to Kansas City to Sacramento, and between 1951 and their 1985 move to California, only made it as far as the Conference finals 3 times. The team was, like the Cubs, a perennial loser that still drew a good crowd, at least while in Sacramento. A popular loser with long forgotten winning glory, but a loser nonetheless. 

And then, the sky opened and Arco Arena lit up with some of the best basketball of the day. Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Jason Williams, and crew turned the Kings into a must watch show. I wasn’t old enough to know the team and watch them in their heyday. I missed the best days of the Kings by only a year or two, but I have gone back to watch their game tape, and it remains some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen. They pass well, get everyone involved, play as a team, and their tapes remain some of the best basketball I’ve ever watched. 

There is one huge black cloud hanging over the Kings of the early 2000’s. They lost year after year in painful fashion in the playoffs, and never got over the jump to get to the NBA Finals, let alone win an NBA Championship. They were a missed jump hook by Vlade Divac away from winning a 1st round series in 1999. They lost in 5 games the next year to the Lakers in 2000, and were swept in 4 straight in the 2nd round of 2001 again at the hands of the Lakers. They lost two seven game series in the second round of 2003 and 2004 to Dallas and Minnesota respectively. But the most painful loss was the 2002 Conference Finals defeat to the Lakers with game 7 happening in Sacramento. For one series, the Kings were on even footing with the powerful Los Angeles Lakers, a team that often used the Kings as a punching bag and won more championships than anyone but the Celtics. They were so close to winning and ending years of disappointment. But alas, the Lakers downed the Kings in overtime, and the Kings would never come that close again.  

 Despite the difference in sports, I see a number of parallels between the Cubs of this year and the Kings of years past. Both are old franchises that haven’t won a championship since the early days of their sport’s respective playoff structure. In fact, neither team has even been to the championship round of their sport in 50+ years. Both are talented teams that have supporters from beyond their home city. Both play in the same division as one of the best teams in the history of their sport, the Lakers vs the Kings and the Cardinals vs the Cubs. Both teams have a brilliant coach who was successful in his prior job, but didn’t win a title. Rick Adleman coached the Portland Trail Blazers to the finals in 1990 and 1992 and lost both before coming to Sacramento in 1999. Likewise, Joe Maddon led the Tampa Bay Rays to respectability, but lost his chance at a World Series in 2008.  

 It is my sincere hope that the Cubs hit the lottery and win their first World Series since 1908. I hope the team plays well enough to win and is the Cubs equivalent to the 2004 Red Sox. It is my fear that they will instead be the baseball version of the Sacramento Kings from 1999-2004. 

Welcome to the Recording World! 

I’ve been writing and broadcasting sports for going on 3 years now. I’ve gotten to cover a huge variety of games in many different sports and levels of play. It’s a fun profession and a busy career to have, but I greatly enjoy it. Today, I expanded my repertoire of sports content. 

I have a friend named Tomas, a graduate student at BU that I met in my Junior Year. He has a wide taste in sports. He watches rugby, soccer, and a number of sports that I’ve never even heard of before. We’ve known each other for years, gone to sporting events together, and analyzed everything from movies to politics together. Earlier this year, we decided to buy sound and recording equipment to make a podcast and express opinions on various games. We worked out the details and put in money for real equipment. 

When our mics and mixer arrived, and we started fiddling with the equipment. We got things running, got our opinions ready, and recorded a few segments. The next week, we got together to record our first podcast. It was successful! We recorded it, and tried to publish it. It was only after attempting to publish it that we discovered that Audacity, the recording software we used, had glitches out and lost our whole podcast. After that minor frustration major annoyance, we had Thanksgiving Break, and we had time to sort out what went wrong. We went through the week, got together this morning, and finally recorded a podcast. When we finished it, we tested it out, published it, and posted it to YouTube, where it lives now. If you want to hear opinions on the MLB end of season awards, predictions for various NBA, NHL, and NFL games, and jokes and references, then click the link below to listen. I promise you’ll like it! 

Wild Card Mess

Last night, I came home from skiing with my dad, sat down with him and watched the Wild Card playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals. I was hoping to watch a quality football game, and get some enjoyment out of a game I didn’t have much rooting interest in. As it turns out, I got that. I also got a terrible taste in my mouth after the end of the game. 

Early in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were down 15-0. They traded punches throughout the game, hit Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger hard all day, and ultimately forced him out of the game with a shoulder injury when linebacker Vontaze Burfict hit him hard and sent him down onto his shoulder. He left and was replaced by Landry Jones, and the Bengals promptly capitalized on Roethlisberger’s absence by stuffing the Steelers offense and scoring 16 points to take a 16-15 lead with just under two minutes left to go in the game. When the Steelers got the ball back, Jones threw a pass that was intercepted by Burfict. The Bengals had the lead, the football, and the game in hand as long as they held onto the ball. They were on the doorstep of getting their first playoff victory since 1990. 

And then, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill fumbled the football, giving Pittsburgh another chance. Better yet, Ben Roethlisberger returned from injury. He led the Steelers down the field to try a game winning field goal. They converted a fourth down to keep the drive alive with only a few seconds left in the game. Roethlisberger then threw deep to Antonio Brown to try and get into field goal range. The pass sailed high, and as Brown came down, Vontaze Burfict let his emotions get away from him, and hit Brown square in the head, sending him to the ground and likely giving him a concussion. Cincinnati was hit with a 15 yard penalty. When the players were trying to plead their case, the officials called another penalty when the officials were pushed and shoved by Bengals defensive back Adam Jones. The Steelers got 30 yards out of those penalties, kicked a field goal, and won 18-16. 

I didn’t have a rooting interest in the game, but I am happy that the Steelers won. The Bengals lost control of their emotions, committed stupid penalties, and went out of their way to hurt the opposition. I’ve written here before on my experience with the NFL being a bit soured with a rash of unnecessary injuries and poor mentality by players. The Bengals summed that up very nicely with their behavior last night. They played like thugs and deserved to lose. To make it look worse, when Roethlisberger got hurt, the Bengals fans cheered his injury and threw debris on the field. The behavior of many Bengals fans matched the play on the field. 

I went to bed with a bad taste in my mouth, and actually happy to not fully call myself an NFL fan after last night’s game. The team was disgraceful, the fans were jerks, and the players were fools. To be fair, Steelers assistant coach and former linebacker Joey Porter did not help matters when he went on to the field, and the Steelers contributed to the hostile atmosphere of the game. But the more egregious actions were committed by the Bengals. 

Head coach Marvin Lewis deserves to be fired after that game. He has been the head coach of the team since 2003, has not won a playoff game, and lost control of his team at the most crucial point. The Bengals would do well to hire Hue Jackson as the new coach if a change is made. Burfict should be suspended and fined by the league, and so should Jones. I just wanted to watch a good football game. Instead, I watched the dark side of sports rear its ugly head. Hopefully the Sunday NFL games wash that taste out of my mouth! 

New Year, New Look

The last time I posted anything on this blog was in November. Since then, 2015 ended, Christmas came and went, my penultimate collegiate semester ended, and numerous other interesting events happened. With the start of a new year, I felt I needed to change a few things. One of them was the look and purpose of this blog. I took time away from writing here to do other work, and also because I wasn’t sure what I should be writing about, if at all.

I started this blog in March of 2014 after a few friends presented me with the 100 Happy Days Challenge, in which the participants take pictures of things that make them happy for 100 consecutive days. I created this blog to track the challenge. I’m pleased to have done the challenge. It helped yield some excellent memories and keep me reminded of how many good things there were then and are now in my life.

After that challenge ended, I created a new blog and had some good writing there, but not enough for me to continue managing the site. I returned to this site and redid the 100 Days challenge when things didn’t go my way for bits of the fall and winter of 2014. I kept writing on this blog, and completed that challenge again. Upon completion, I kept it titled 100 Happy Days of Chris and tried to keep producing content with the premise and intent of making it a normal blog for my own work and thoughts about various things. When the end of the semester rolled around, I got hit by a giant bit of writers block. I couldn’t find the inspiration to write about anything, and got tired of blogging. I took the semester off, and backed away from blogging.

Now that the calendar has switched to 2016, I’ve decided to completely change the formatting, color pallet, typeface, and title of this blog. I’m turning the blog into an opinion and observations blog. I have opinions and stories to share from time in school, broadcasting games, traveling, seeing and meeting people, and being in interesting places. I hope that someone sees this blog, reads the posts I have here in the future and enjoy what I have. I still have all my old posts from when this blog was entitled 100 Happy Days of Chris, and I hope people see and enjoy that content too.

New year, new content for a new look blog. Let’s see how the year goes!

Men’s Basketball: 2015-16 Season Preview

My season’s preview for BU as seen on WTBU Sports. Take a look!

WTBU Sports

By: Chris Lynch

Two years ago, Maurice Watson Jr. led the Boston University Terriers into the conference championship game. After a loss to the American Eagles, the program changed dramatically.

Seniors Dom Morris and DJ Irving graduated, Malik Thomas transferred to Norfolk State, and Watson transferred to Creighton, leaving only four players returned with any game experience at BU for the 2014-2015 season.

BU played a tough schedule in the competitive Patriot League, finishing 9-9 in regular season conference play. They held a lead early in their playoff game, only to be defeated 89-64 by the eventual conference champion Lafayette Leopards.

Since the end of that game, the Terriers have been on a mission to improve their game and make this upcoming season one to remember on Commonwealth Avenue. No player graduated or transferred away from BU, and everyone acknowledges that they didn’t play up to their potential last season…

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Men’s Basketball: John Papale Q&A

I got to talk to one of the captains of that BU Men’s basketball team, John Papale. Here’s the interview I did.

WTBU Sports

By: Chris Lynch

The BU Men’s Basketball team will take the floor for opening night against Northeastern on Friday the 13th, at 7 p.m.

For that game, senior guard John Papale will take the floor for the 96th time in his successful BU career. Now a captain of the team, Papale will look to help the team to a conference championship in his final year at BU.

WTBU Sports got the chance to meet up with Papale and ask him a few questions just after the team’s practice on Wednesday night.

Q: First question I’ve got for you, how was practice today?

A: It was good! It’s a game practice, so there’s a lot more teaching from Coach and less up and downs for today’s practice. And all in all, I thought it was a good practice.

Q: I was going to say, how do you feel about playing Northeastern?

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Lost NFL Fandom

You’ll find few people who is a more hard-line Boston sports fan than me. You’ll find maybe even fewer who are more passionate Tom Brady fans than I am. However, this year has worn my NFL fandom. There was a stretch when football was easily my favorite sport and the Patriots were the team I followed the most closely. That probably lasted from 2005-2011. It started with the Super Bowl victory over the Eagles in Jacksonville, and ended around the Super Bowl defeat to the New York Giants in Indianapolis. I still follow and support the team, setting aside some time on Sunday to watch their games, and still enjoy watching Tom Brady school his opponents on a now weekly basis. I had maybe my most passionate reaction to any game on February 1 of this year with the Patriots’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the Superbowl. See that in the following post.

However, after a summer of Deflategate drama, and a number of NFL scandals and general idiocy, my appreciation for the sport has waned considerably. The ways in which the National Football League has embarrassed itself seems endless. Be it the mishandling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals, the Bountygate scandal, the on-going issues involving concussions, or the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin disaster, the NFL has lost me with both the frequent misconduct of its players, the frequent demonstrations of moronic lows in the commissioner’s office, and the general sense of not caring about the safety of the players.

I spent some time thinking of reasons beyond the ineptitude of the leagues in question for my fandom changes, and here’s what I noticed. I’ve moved to being more of a basketball fan, and my love of baseball has re-established itself fully over football. Baseball has always been my top sport, except for stretches where the Patriots supplanted the Red Sox. And basketball has slowly won me over after the job I have with WTBU covering the BU Men’s Basketball team, and with other important factors sprinkled in. I find the other sports more entertaining and more fan friendly than football. They’re much easier to watch in person and have plenty of style and flair to make them fun. Football might have spectacle, but it can be remarkably difficult to watch in person and a bit hard to follow the play unless you have been initiated as a fan. It’s even gotten harder watching on TV due to all the commercials interrupting the flow of the broadcast. Granted, that’s an issue across all sports now, but I can’t help but feel this effect at its worst when watching an NFL game.

There’s one piece above all else that has lost my appreciation for the sport: Player safety. I know that I’ve written on here before about being ok with violent moments in sports that can result in the injury of players. But in baseball for example, the injuries that take place are few and far between, and with the sport going by most times with no injury at all. Basketball is similar, with the sport having some physical moments that can result in some bad injuries. Most of the time, however, the nature of the sport does not result in any significant injuries. The physical nature of football results in multiple injuries in every week. All you have to do is look down the injury list each week of this season to understand that. However, there is one player’s case in particular that opens up my eyes about it all: Wes Welker.

From 2007 to 2012, Welker was the most dependable slot receiver in the NFL for any team, collecting over 100 catches in every season except in 2010, and helped the Patriots to two Super Bowl appearances. When he jumped to the Denver Broncos, he was a staple piece of the most prolific offense in NFL history when Peyton Manning threw a record 55 touchdown passes in 2013. Welker played in, and lost, his third Super Bowl since 2007, but he was still effective and one of the best. He also was badly injured.  He tore his ACL in the last game of the 2009 season, and has three documented concussions as a result of playing in the NFL. Its likely that he has even more due to his playing style. He is a small slot receiver who catches alot of passes on short routes that lead to frequent huge hits. I’ve watched tape of him recently, and he looks absolutely horrendous. He looks like he has been hit too many times in the head, because he has, and will struggle after his career is done. He was recently interviewed and expressed confusion as to why he isn’t employed by an NFL team. I have a good reason why: He looks bad with his NFL career to this point and it will only get worse with the more hits he will take after signing a free agent deal with the St. Louis Rams. I fear what his life will be after playing football.

That thought has me questioning my fandom of this sport. I’m watching players hit each other and hurt themselves on a regular basis. Not to mention that players I follow and like will be negatively effected by their choice to play a game that only caught on because people enjoy the game. I still appreciate the strategy and beauty inherent in the sport, but have a hard time rationalizing the injury rash in the NFL. I also have a difficult time trying to give the NFL the benefit of the doubt when they frequently deny the impact of concussions on their former players. I’ll probably still watch Tom Brady and a few other players, but my football fandom is waning severely.