Author: Mark Blaudschun

Cold weather, but hot teams in Boston this spring

I was just wondering: If spring will ever come to Boston. Here we are, ready to move into the last week in April and people are heading to the beach when the temperature nudges past 50 degrees, which it has done only a few times this month. Let’s not mince words here: The weather in New England this spring has been miserable: cold, rainy, followed by colder and rainier. Runners in the Boston Marathon this week, were greeted by snow flakes at the start in Hopkinton  and ran  most of the marathon course in cold, horizontal rain. The Red Sox (more about them in a bit) finished their first home stand without the wind chill factor rising much above the high 30s. Conversely, it has been a glorious early spring for Boston’s athletic teams.  The Celtics are, if not healthy, happy as they hold a 2-1 edge on Milwaukee in their first NBA playoff series. The Bruins are a game away from beating Toronto in their Stanley Cup opening round playoff series And then there are the Red Sox. They are on a historic run, with a 17-2 start, which just included a 3 game pounding of the formerly sizzling Angels. The Red Sox not only won all three games, but won by a scoring margin of 27-3.  They are on their second 8 game winning streak of the season....

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Browns are crazy if they don’t take Barkley and other idle thoughts

Back in another lifetime and another century, I paid lots more attention to what was happening in the National Football League in the “off season”. I covered the New England Patriots for the Boston Globe when they were the equivalent to today’s Cleveland Browns–a hapless franchise, which seemed to perpetually hit the self-destruct button. I joked that the only day I could safely take off covering the Patriots was on Sunday, because nothing happened on Sunday’s with the Patriots. This, of course, was before Brady, Belichick and Kraft and the Patriots were owned by Billy Sullivan and Victor Kiam and were in such a free fall that they almost moved the franchise to St. Louis. One of the many reasons why I love college football is because I get to cover players before and as they become stars. I still remember with a sense of fondness spending most of Dan Marino’s senior season at Pitt around the Pitt quarterback when Pittsburgh was a strong contender for the Cotton Bowl and I was covering national college football for the Dallas Morning News. Marino was so lightly regarded, he almost was bypassed in the first round of the NFL draft before Miami chose him with the No. 27 pick, AFTER such QBs as Tony Eason (Illinois), Todd Blackledge (Penn State) and Ken O’Brien (UC-Davis). I also remember sitting with TMG co-founder Chris...

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Jay Wright rises to a new level

He is in a new neighborhood and he is not sure how to handle it. But no one who has worked with Jay Wright or knows the Villanova men’s basketball coach is worried. Wright needed to make the right move, say the right thing, at the right time. Which he did again on Monday night as Villanova rolled to it second national championship in three years after posting a 79-61 victory over Michigan in San Antonio. With the win, Wright  moved into an exclusive club of coaches who have won multiple national championships. Among the active coaches only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (5) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (3) have won multiple national championships. In the history of the sport, there have been only 13 coaches who have won more than a single national title. A Villanova win against Michigan will give Wright two in the last three seasons. Jay Wright is a rock star, who dresses better than he coaches. Yes, it is different for Wright now. He’s no longer the bright young coach who started at Hofstra, began with three straight losing seasons and a concern that is dream to be a Division 1 head coach would not get out of the starting gate.  The “”kid”” from Council Rock High School 13 miles from Philadelphia turned 56 on Christmas Eve and has won 544 games, including an astonishing 136 in the...

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Is Final Four the calm before the storm for CBB?

Two more days and the folks at TBS, CBS, and the other TV people who have been displaying  a spectacular show for the public for the past three weeks, can exhale. Two more days and the NCAA can breathe a sigh of relief–for now. No “breaking news” headlines of potential scandals of rules violations which could bring up the topic of suspensions, sanctions and the dreaded word “”vacated ” appears to be on the immediate horizon. Although, there is still time for the folks at Yahoo or ESPN to post a story that could again shake the foundation of college basketball. No, it’s been three weeks of calm waters (scandal wise) in the billion dollar entity known as the NCAA basketball tournament.  Great games, great story lines and, beginning on Saturday night in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Tx. a Final Four with just the right combination of blue bloods–Michigan, Kansas, Villanova–and Cinderella, Loyola (Chicago). A season in which few things have been predictable over the past four and a half months, has given the sport the booster shot it needed. It didn’t look that way a month ago when the headlines were filled with the FBI poking into an area normally reserved for the NCAA infractions committee. Big name coaches such as Rick Pitino at Louisville and Sean Miller at Arizona were headline makers in a sport in...

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Villanova wins East and heads to the Southwest and Final Four

BOSTON–They were the No. 1 team in the country for a good portion of the regular season and they handled that just fine. For a few weeks in early March, they sat comfortably in place as the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament and they handled that just fine, putting together a week of high octane basketball which earned them a conference championship. For the first few days in the NCAA tournament they were the No. 2 overall seed in the 68 team field, behind Virginia, and they were fine with simply being No. 1 in the East Regional. But then Virginia did what no No. 1 seed had ever done, lost to No. 16 seed UMBC making Villanova the top seeded team remaining in the tournament. Those are just a few of the faces that the Villanova basketball team has shown the world of college basketball this season, but now Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats are more than ready for a new role–that of national champion for the second time in three seasons. That goal became much more realistic on Sunday afternoon as Nova emerged with a 71-59 victory over Texas Tech in the NCAA East Regional finals at the TD Garden. Next up for the Cats, who elevated their record to 34-4, is a Final Four meeting in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon against Midwest champ  Kansas....

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