Call it a case of "Hang Ten x 10."
Surfer Garrett McNamara has once again gone from his Pittsfield roots to the top of world - at least when it comes to riding gigantic waves.
Thank you for all your support. It means the world to me. Today was an awesome day and so fun to be out there... fb.me/1gExz3uwz— Garrett McNamara (@GMACHawaii) January 28, 2013
McNamara, a native of Pittsfield, Monday reportedly broke his own world record by riding a wave estimated to be more than 100 feet high off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal. McNamara, who surfs out of Hawaii, set the current Guinness World Record for the largest wave surfed of 78-feet at Nazaré in 2011. That ride was first said to be more than 90 feet high.
No matter the official height of these waves, there's no doubt he's got some Jupiter-sized stones. McNamara moved to Hawaii with his family when he was 11. It's unlikely Bosquet Mountain or Jiminy Peak offered him much of a scare in his younger days.
Garrett McNamara. Nazaré. Today. Perfect twitter.com/ciscosalvador/…— Francisco Salvador (@ciscosalvador) January 28, 2013
A photo claiming to show McNamara riding the monster wave was taken by photographer Tó Mané (no relation to Manti Te'o) and posted on the site surfertoday.com. The photo has since gone viral on Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile, Portuguese surfing authorities have asked for an independent analysis to confirm the wave's height.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis paid a visit to the "Weekend Update" desk this week on "Saturday Night Live" and showed himself to be just as crazed when he's being spoofed as he is when he's being serious in real life.
Lewis (Kenan Thompson) got a little emotional with host Seth Meyers, when discussing his plans for Super Bowl Sunday and why he cried during the National Anthem before last week's AFC Championship Game in Foxborough.
"I never heard that song before," Lewis said.
Lewis was very high-strung on SNL, much like he is on the field. "I'm 37 years old, I've got a torn tricep and I can't get this paint off my face," he said. Lewis said he would not be denied in his quest to reach the studio, despite hitting some road construction. "No road block is going to stop Ray Lewis." If the Ravens win: "I'm going to go to the 50-yard-line of the Superdome, kneel down and them I'm going to ascend into heaven."
Perhaps another reason to root for the 49ers next week?
Cameron Diaz, Jerry Seinfeld and Andy Samberg joined host Adam Levine in a much-better-than-the-real-life show parody of "The Voice" to help kick off this week's "Saturday Night Live." The show also had some fun at the expense of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and featured the somewhat laid-back ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King in the opening.
During his monologue, Diaz urged Levine to take his shirt off, saying it was vital for the host of the show to do that in order to succeed. When Levine asked Diaz, who has hosted the show three times (1998, 2002, 2005), if she had ever taken her shirt off, the actress simply replied "whatever happens off camera is not important."
Samberg lampooned himself, saying he was in "over 100 digital shorts as well as well as three live sketches." Seinfeld's chair spun around to wild applause. Seinfeld warned Levine not to take his shirt off. "I get you," Seinfeld says. "Appealing, not as Jewish as your name." The sketch then ended, of course, with a barechested Levine - the former lead singer of "Maroon 5" - introducing the show.
The show's cold opening featured a visit by King (Kenan Thompson) to the White House after the Inauguration Day festivities were complete. King congratulated Obama (Jay Pharoah) on his re-election. Instead of dealing with the major issues of the day, the civil right's leader opted to talk with reverence about Beyonce, criticize Michelle Obama's bangs and said there was still progress needed on the civil right's front because "we're still waiting on our first black magician, black King of England" and first black member of One Direction. King weighed in on the Beyonce lip-synching controversy. "They said she was lip-synching and I was like. 'I care because...#JayZIsOneLuckyMan'." King also described the moment once Michelle Obama gets her bangs cut. "When she finally gets those bangs cut, she's going to be like: 'I can see at last. Thank God almighty, I can see at last.'"
As King explained: "It is my day off."
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (Thompson) stopped by "Weekend Update" and told Seth Meyers about his plans for Super Bowl Sunday and why he cried during the National Anthem last week. "I never heard that song before," Lewis said. "I'm 37 years old, I've got a torn tricep and I can't get this paint off my face." Lewis reached the studio despite crashing into a road block. "No road block is going to stop Ray Lewis." If the Ravens win: "I'm going to go to the 50-yard-line of the Superdome, kneel down and them I'm going to ascend into heaven."
Just another reason why last week's Patriots' loss still stings.
SNL one-upped the CW's "The Carrie Diaries" with the premiere of "The Sopranos Diaries." The sketch featured a look at what the character's from David Chase's HBO series might have been like had they attended high school in the 1980s. Tony (Bobby Moyniham) was joined in his crew by Paulie Walnuts (Fred Armisen), Silvio (Bill Hader) and began his tumultuous romance with a very high-strung and emotional Carmela (Kate McKinnon). Salvatore (Levine) joined the gang and was given the nickname "Big Pussy." Tony began his life in counseling with a visit to his guidance counselor (Cecily Strong), tell her about his life's problems. "I got a science project that's two weeks late, I'm five chapters behind in "Tale of Two Cities" and I don't have a date for the ... dance."
The return of Samberg also meant the return of "The Lonely Island" and their latest digital short called "YOLO." This tune put a twist on the phrase "you only live once" by urging people to be careful not to die. Try using lots of Purell, wearing a titanium suits and putting all your money in a hole in the yard for starters.
Kendrick Lamar was the musical guest.
Justin Bieber guest hosts and sings in two weeks.
Look for the internet to explode.
"I had a dream. Crazy dream.
Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go...
Hear my song. People won't you listen now? Sing along.
You don't know what you're missing now.
Any little song that you know
Everything that's small has to grow.
And it has to grow!
California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain . . .
Honolulu starbright - the song remains the same."
- Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin, "The Song Remains the Same" Houses of the Holy - 1973
The Red Sox will be lucky to reach purgatory this season, never mind find a stairway to Heaven.
The song has remained the same for the Red Sox since Robert Andino's base hit dropped in front of a sliding Carl Crawford in shallow left field at Camden Yards in Baltimore, sending Nolan Reimold home with the winning run in the early minutes of Sept. 29, 2011. Four minutes later, Evan Longoria homered to finish off Boston's historic collapse.
Since then, the Red Sox have taken chicken and beer to stratospheric levels, disposed of managers Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine, swapped out GMs, dumped a quarter-billion dollars of payroll in one move last August and completed their worst season since the Beatles released the "Rubber Soul" album.
They remain now exactly where they were then in the hearts and minds of anyone - through choice or genetics - who is a member of Red Sox Nation.
Terry Francona's book has re-opened all the wounds that have never really healed from the smoldering wreckage of 2011. The fallout generated by 7-20 and the Rays' historic win in St. Petersburg moments later 484 days ago has become radioactive again with the official Tuesday release of "Francona: The Red Sox Years" co-authored by Dan Shaughnessy.
"The way it ended wasn't all that great," Francona told Boston.Com's Boston Sports Live on Wednesday.
The debate lingers as to whether or not the 2011 choke was worse than what happened to our older brothers, uncles and fathers in 1978, 1986 or 2003. But there's no arguing the long-term effect it has has on this team, organization and fan base. The Red Sox won 91 games in 1979 (finishing in third place), before struggling for a couple of years in the early 1980s. The 1987 Red Sox stumbled despite keeping much of the lineup from 1986. But the basis of the roster remained intact and Boston won the A.L. East in 1988. And we all know how quickly the Red Sox recovered from Grady Little and Aaron Boone's Game 7 antics in 2004.
The 2011 Red Sox remain woven in the fabric of the 2013 Red Sox. On the personnel front, the biggest reminder of that is the fact that John Lackey is going to be - for better or worse, like it or not - the linchpin of this rotation. How terrifying is that? Even though Lackey is a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, there's not getting rid of him nor can the Red Sox afford to shelve him if he's recovered from his Tommy John surgery. Lackey will be under a blistering microscope as soon as pitchers and catchers report in three weeks.
How much does he weigh? Is he in shape? What type of influence will he have on the rest of the pitching staff, even with Josh Beckett in Los Angeles? Red Sox fans love their history, but those questions mean more to this team right now than Tito's interesting and enlightening anecdotes about 2004.
Each time Lackey pitches, everyone watching will automatically be taken back to the days of Popeye's and Bud Light. The revelation that he was double-fisting in the clubhouse last season during his rehabilitation, when he wasn't even on the roster, set off sonic booms on sports talk radio and page-view surges across the digital media spectrum.
Meanwhile, the lineup will go as David Ortiz goes. Not much new there, with or without Gonzalez.
The most relevant part of Francona's book to any of us who are focusing on the 2013 Red Sox are the quotes attributed to Theo Espstein about the type of players the Red Sox coveted. Espstein has since said they were taken out of context. But it's hard to believe that that the core of what he said still isn't a guiding principle on Yawkey Way these days. "They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle,” Epstein said, according to Francona. “We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”
Then there's the infamous $100,000 marketing research project the Red Sox commissioned in 2010 which allegedly led to the acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Gonzalez. The report was intended to figure out a way to stop the ratings slide on NESN: “(W)omen are definitely more drawn to the ‘soap opera’ and ‘reality-TV’ aspects of the game ... They are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols” Francona's book quotes the report as saying. For some reason, the "sexy" reference was pointed at second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Dustin Pedroia - sex symbol. That's just how screwed up things have gotten.
I'll take the book at its face-value and focus on what was actually written, as opposed to the spin being offered by Francona this week.
You can click here or here for a book review. Francona made several appearances on Boston media Wednesday and he appeared to back some off the most incendiary remarks released last week when the book was excerpted in Sports Illustrated. “I actually think they’re really good owners. I was disappointed in some of the things, in my communications with them, I was very disappointed. That doesn’t mean they’re not good people or good owners," he told WEEI's The Big Show.
That's quite a departure from what he actually wrote in the book: "I don’t think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It’s revenue … It’s still more of a toy or hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball."
One thing is for sure, the Red Sox have given their viewers one of the great baseball soap operas of all time in the past 17 months. Bobby Valentine was epic as Erica Kane - considered the ultimate soap opera diva and "bitch goddess."
But that soap opera didn't help much when it came to winning. John Farrell can't hurt and he has as much chance of turning around Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Lackey as anyone. Whether or not Farrell is as slick as Valentine, calm as Francona or somewhere in between won't matter if he can't resurrect the starting rotation.
Again, Ben Cherington is a real-life Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) in "Wall Street," who was named president of Bluestar Airlines just in time for the airline to be liquidated by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Cherington is about to start his 15th season with the Red Sox. Perhaps he's hoping just to ride out this this storm and stick around and emerge as team president if/when the team is sold. He's already survived one ownership change and watched Epstein and Dan Duquette (who hired him in 1999) permanently exit the premises. Until then, he's merely a by-stander.
It's mind-boggling to think that despite the departure of Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett last August, the Red Sox are already carrying a $160 million payroll for 2013 and have $142 million in guaranteed deals for 2014 (trades notwithstanding). So much for saving for the next big free-agency market. All those three-year, $39-million deals eventually add up.
They're sexy even if we didn't know it.
Mike Napoli = man candy.
Francona's tome reinforces the somber point that Tom Werner, John Henry and Larry Lucchino are still calling the shots for the Red Sox. There's no reason to believe this ownership group has stopped the quest for "sexy" players or no longer pine for gripping finishes and thrilling storylines to bring in more female viewers. And it's hard to counter the claim this ownership group carries more passion for the pitch at Anfield than the pitcher at Fenway Park.
You can make book on that.
It's now up to John Lackey and the Bruins to salvage what's left of 2013. And you thought Boston sports fans were spoiled.
In a sense, they are.
For instance, how great is this?
Last year, it was Gisele going after the Patriots' wide receivers for their inability to "catch the damn ball" after New England's loss to the Giants.
This time, we've got former Hooters' girl Anna Burns Welker, the wife of Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who wants her Facebook pals to check out Ray Lewis' backstory in the wake of New England's 28-13 loss in the AFC Championship Game.
Here's what she posted:
"Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. 6 kids, 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay! What a hall of fame player! A true role model!"
Sore loser? Perhaps. But there might be a greater motive here.
First, Lewis actually pled guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against the two men accused of killing Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. The charges against Lewis were dropped and no one was convicted in the murder, which occurred in Atlanta after Super Bowl XXXIV. But enough of that.
This is a major PR move by Mrs. Welker. She's trying to earn back some of the good graces from the partisans in Patriot Nation. Many are still irate at her hubby for his second-straight championship-crushing drop, this one coming on a 3rd-and-8 from the Ravens' 34-yard line with the Patriots driving in the third quarter 13-7 Sunday. Could Mrs. Welker be sending a signal that her hubby would be happy with another franchise tag this year?
Patriots' fans should hope so.
It's hard to imagine Robert Kraft writing the Welkers a check for $11.4 million (the mandated cost if they were to franchise him again this year) after the outcome of Sunday's game. Nor is it conceivable that the Patriots would be able to out bid intra-conference rivals like the Jets (who are still way over the cap), the Colts or Bengals (who are way under the cap) if Wes becomes an unrestricted free aganet. Does Wes want to be here next season so much he's willing to take one of those vaunted Patriot Discounts to do so? That will be the most compelling question facing the Patriots this offseason.
Welker took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Bernard Pollard Sunday that cost the Ravens 15 yards. But it might have rattled Welker for the rest of the day. But he also had 11 drops during the regular season, according to ESPN, long before Pollard's hit.
Maybe Mrs. Welker is just pissed that her hubby cost himself a potential $10 or $15 million in the free-agency market by that drop. Aside from not making the catch that set the Ravens off to their victorious march, Welker was spectacular Sunday. He caught eight of the 12 balls thrown to him for 117 yards and a touchdown. He remains the focal point of New England's offense, even when "Gonk" is healthy. Again, Welker is so important to New England that when he doesn't make a play, it might cost them a title.
As far as Welker's status, he was non-committal. “I’m really not worried about it at all,” Welker said. “This is a tough loss and I’m just trying to get over it at the moment. Like I said, I’m not worried about any of it.”
But this loss wasn't all on Welker.
The Patriots were outhit, outplayed, outsmarted and outhustled by the Ravens, who topped this off with zero turnovers. Once again, the Patriots' high-flying offense met a defense that wasn't afraid of anything and hit back. Virtually every loss this team has suffered in the past five seasons has followed that template ending in scores in the 20s or teens, including both Super Bowl defeats to the Giants, Sunday's game and the loss to the Jets in the playoffs two years ago.
Even on the key third-down passes that failed, the lingering results of the Ravens' non-stop pounding could be seen on the receiver who often just a step or two short. More numbers: the Patriots were 1 for 4 in the red zone scoring touchdowns, the ravens were 4 for 4. Yes, they missed "Gonk."
The Patriots blinked at every key opportunity - starting with the ridiculous fake fake-punt in the first quarter and ending with Tom Brady's "don't hit me dive" at the feet of Haloti Ngata in the fourth quarter. It's obvious Brady flinched there. Who can blame Brady for not wanted be crushed by the 340-pound Ngata? But there was also a chance he could have beaten Ngata to the first-down line before taking the hit since he was running away from the gigantic end.
By the way, it's no wonder why Mayor Menino botched the name of No. 75 the other day considering that neither Vince Willcott, Wilcock or Wilfork bothered to show up Sunday. Wilfork had zero solo tackles Sunday, which is only three fewer that he had in last year's Super Bowl. Please remember that when you're trying to line up big-game goats on this team.
The Patriots failed on key third downs when they had the ball and - during the Ravens' 12:59, 21-unanswered-points drive to victory - failed to stop the Ravens when they had to. Throw in a few key Brady interceptions and an earth-shattering hit on Stevan Ridley by Bernard Pollard that forced a fumble, and the Patriots were basically blown out of it in the the second half. The Harbaugh brothers' led teams outscored their opposition combined 35-0 on the road in the second half Sunday. They are worthy of being called the best family in football at this moment.
Unlike those gut-wrenching Super Bowl losses to the Giants that were decided on pivotal plays like David Tyree catching the ball off his head or Eli Manning finding Mario Manningham on desperation drive, this loss was built on a foundation of bad plays and soft play. The journey to defeat Sunday began with Welker's drop on with 10:11 left in the third quarter. After that incompletion, the Patriots were faced with a 4th-and-8 from the Ravens' 34. A 49-yard field goal attempt was out of the question.
Earlier in the game, the Patriots inexplicably tried and then untried a fake punt that had caught the Ravens clueless. The end result of that play was Baltimore using a first-half timeout. Whoopie! Going for it on 4th-and-7 might seem unreasonable, but some of us believed even at that time it would have been the right call. During this game, the Patriots punted from the Balitmore 34, 35 and 42-yard line. Two of those punts resulted in touchdown drives by the Ravens (the third resulted in a Baltimore punt). The Patriots played this game not to lose, as opposed to playing to win.
The Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI by hitting Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the "Grestest Show on Turf" in the face from the first possession. It had nothing to do with whatever may have been attained from "SpyGate." The foundation of New England's Super Bowl winning teams - eight years and counting now - was the same type of defense that the Ravens employed so successfully on Sunday. No doubt, Brady was an essential ingredient, but these Super Bowl-championship teams were built to win around the likes of Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison as much as No. 12. Brady can't do this on his own. He never has. A healthy Gonk and another deep threat would also help get this team to Met Life Stadium in February of 2014 for Super Bowl XLVIII, not to mention better special teams play and more reliable kicker when it counts.
The Patriots make strides in correcting that problem in last year's draft and with the acquisition of Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay. The loss of Talib in the second quarter was crucial Sunday. Once he was gone, Joe Flacco, who played flawlessly if not brilliantly, was able to pick apart the Patriots with high balls thrown deep from the shotgun and perfect passes to tight end Dennis Pitta underneath. Without Talib around to handle Anquan Boldin, it was free money for Flacco and the Ravens downfield.
Of course, after the loss, Bill Belichick was shameless in defeat, refusing a contractually obligated interview with CBS. The rule is simple: if you talk when you win, you talk when you lose. Let Terrell Suggs ramble on like an idiot after the game. He won. He's earned that right. The essence of professionalism (sportsmanship no longer matters) is acting in a way that befits your position without letting too much emotion get in the way. Belichick's act of being straight-laced, somber and predictable each week is fun to watch. But he can't bail when they lose. Belichick told everyone he'd be back to kick around next season. Again, more good news.
The Patriots also need a few Bernard Pollards on their roster. This isn't a call for dirty play as much as it is a call for ruthless play. There's a difference and the Ravens carried it off for the most part Sunday. Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower are a nice start. Pollard ended the 2008 season with his dirty hit on Brady as a member of the Chiefs, tackled Wes Welker in 2010 as a member of the Texans after Welker twisted his knee (clean hit) and gonged heads with Stevan Ridley Sunday as a Raven (another clean hit), causing that crushing fumble at the start of the fourth quarter that squashed any momentum the Patriots may have regained in this game.
They also need Welker out of the slot. And having the attitude of his wife probably wouldn't hurt either.
The Bruins beat the Jets 2-1 Monday in a shootout.
That's a good start.
Pitchers and catchers report in 25 days.
"Saturday Night Live" began its new year with a solid punch to the jaw of a couple of dishonored and/or embarrassed sports stars of the past week by skewering them in the show's cold opening.
SNL has been on break since before Christmas and host Jennifer Lawrence rang in the New Year with one of the best shows of the season.
In the opening, Piers Morgan (Taran Killam) was left nearly speechless while questioning disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong fresh off his appearance on Oprah's network, a somewhat still befuddled Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and, for good measure, actress Jodie Foster, who had delivered a compelling and confusing speech of her own at the Golden Globes.
When Morgan, who calls Armstrong the most despicable person on earth, says people questioned the sincerity of Armstrong’s apology, the cyclist replies “Who said that? Who? They’re lairs, those fat bitches!”
Armstrong offered this sort-of apology: “The blame is probably 70-30 on you. A lot of the reason I just yelled was because of the cancer I had, which is not an excuse, unless you think it is. The most important thing is I never, ever called anyone a fat bitch.”
Armstrong explained his "sophisticated system" of doping: "It wasn't really that sophisticated," he said. "All I did was steroids, testosterone, human-growth hormone, EPO and I replaced all my blood with better blood ... Is it cheating, yes? Am I sorry I did it? Yes...ish. PS. No."
The real-life Te'o (nailed perfectly by Bobby Moynihan) claimed he was duped in a hoax where his late girlfriend turned out not to be a real person. This version of Te'o couldn't quite come to grips with the fact that Lennay Kekua still doesn't exist - dead or alive.
“The sad fact is, I was the victim of a cruel and senseless hoax,” he said. “It’s even more devastating for my girlfriend, Lennay.”
While Morgan repeatedly multiple times to explain the hoax to Te'o, the would-be NFL star simply doesn’t get it, adding: “Lennay is gonna be pissed.”
Te'o also talked about Kekua's death. She called me and said, "I have bad news, I'm dead" before telling Te'o she didn't need a ride to the funeral because "her body was going to be shot into outer space."
Foster (portrayed by our favorite SNL rookie Kate McKinnon), told Morgan that she happy to be 50, among other things. Foster said she guided by the two most reasoned voices in her life - Robert Downey, Jr., and Mel Gibson. She elaborated on her big announcement from last week. She said she was "ga......me for almost anything", wanted the audience to know she was a "huge Les......lie Nielsen" fan and loved "Girls...the HBO show" before adding she was happy to get this huge weight off her "lesbian chest."
Lawrence delivered tongue-in-cheek zingers at each of her fellow Oscar nominees in her monologue. Her best line was the throw-down to nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, nominated for "Beasts of the Southern Wild": “What you talkin' about Wallace? The alphabet called. They want their letters back.”
She also nailed "Zero Dark Thirty" nominee Jessica Chastain.
'Well, well, well. Look who it is. Jessica Chastain. More like, Jessica Chas-ain’t winning no Oscar on my watch!'
Lawrence also took place in a post "Hunger Games" press conference in which the contestants were asked why Catniss (Lawrence of course) and Peeta (Killam) in the "The Hunger Games" are so well nourished and if either one had a chance to speak to any of the other contestants after the Games.
And SNL offered a few more upcoming "Hobbit" flicks that Peter Jackson still has in the works, 18 to be exact. Among the titles fans can expect to see soon are: "Hobbit 3: Shoot I just Realized I Forgot Something in the Shire. Mind If We Double Back" and "Hobbit 8: The Elf Queen Tries To Pick Out An Outfit."
The Lumineers were the musical guests this week. Adam Levine of "The Voice" hosts next week and the musical guest is Kendrick Lamar.
"Don't miss our in-game fan chat during Sunday's AFC championship game on boston.com. The mayhem begins at 6:15 p.m. Obnoxious Boston Fan, once known as Lennay Kekua, can be reached on Twitter at @RealOBF, on his OBF Facebook page or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not even Manti Te'o believes the Ravens are a better team than the Patriots. But that doesn't mean they can't win. We asked the folks at Russell Street Report.com (once known as "Ravens 24x7.com") to provide us with five reasons "Why My Team Is Better." We've done the same for their site, educating their readership on why that's a futile task. We then learned we might be in a deep hole spelling out the Patriots' prospects in the NFL playoffs because we were going up against Mr. (Tony) Lombardi. Debating the NFL playoffs with someone named "Lombardi" puts anyone at an automatic disadvantage. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, war critic Christopher Hitchens was verbally slugging it out with Charlton Heston on CNN. In that "ionic" debate, (where Heston struggled with some geography) Hitchens lamented the fact that he was arguing policy in the Mideast with "Moses himself." There are no NFL championship trophies named after anyone in my family, unless you count my grandfather Lamar Hunt.
Heston won't be around to part the Red Sea or the Ravens defense, the Patriots' offense should be able to do that. The Patriots are the better team and they're at home. There's no accounting for lucky bounces. And there's nothing anyone can do to brace themselves for David Tyree catching a ball off the top of his head while Rodney Harrison comes a long for the ride. Nor can we count on any Lee Evans drops, Billy Cundiff shanks or scoreboard shenanigans. The 9.5-point spread seems a bit steep, even for Patriots partisans who can't see past the general aura of Tom Brady's awesomeness or escape the soul-sucking dark side of Bill Belichick.
First here are "Five Reasons Why The Ravens Will Win" thanks to Tony Lombardi, founder of "Russell Street Report:"
1. OFFICIATING: Crew chief Bill Leavy is so old and his eyesight so bad, that he probably won’t even recognize Tom Brady. That levels the playing field for the Ravens since Mr. Bundchen is so accustomed to playing with preferential treatment and when in doubt gets the nod on close calls.
2. EVANS & CUNDIFF GET CUNDIFFED: No one was more disappointed to see the Ravens release beleaguered place kicker Billy Cundiff than Bill Belichick. Making matters worse for Coach Hoodie, the Ravens also parted ways with the Patriots other AFCC MVP Lee Evans. Cundiff’s and Evans’ replacements rookie Justin Tucker and Pro Bowler Jacoby Jones have been major upgrades and are likely to figure prominently on Sunday. Without Evans and Cundiff last season, the Ravens would have gone on to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVI far more proudly than the Patriots who are regularly B-slapped by the New York Giants.
3. NO HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: This is Baltimore’s fifth visit to Foxboro since October 2009. The Ravens have played there so often that several players on the team have apartments nearby. It just feels a little like home.
Plus it will be so freaking cold on Sunday night that fans aren’t going to want to move much or even say much because it might break their frozen faces. And let’s not forget, clapping with gloves on doesn’t make all that much noise and if the fans try to whistle, there fingers might stick to their tongue like Flick to the pole in A Christmas Story.
4. TAKE WILFORK OUT: In last year’s AFC Title Game Vince Wilfork was arguably the best player on the field. He dominated Ravens’ center Matt Birk and guards Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda didn’t fare much better.
To help neutralize Wilfork the Ravens plan to make the wide-bodied defensive tackle put the fork in Wilfork at the St. Mary’s Church pancake social on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Wilfork has agreed to take on Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody in a southern-style blueberry, powdered sugar pancake eat off.
The Ravens are prepared to give Cody a bonus if he can effectively push Wilfork to the brink of exhaustion. John Harbaugh, while he has grown to appreciate Cody’s role in the Ravens defensive line rotation, said he’s willing to sacrifice the bubbly tackle if the “battered down” Wilfork plays a little slower and is on the field for a few less plays. The Ravens skipper sees it as a big net gain for his guys.
5. WACKO FOR FLACCO: You’ve heard the old slightly tongue-in-cheek story that the only player ever to really put the clamps on Michael Jordan was Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean Smith from the University of North Carolina. History has a way of repeating itself and now that Harbaugh had the cojones to fire former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (actually the firing was forced upon Harbs), Joe Flacco has been a machine. His numbers have been so good since the play-calling switch to Jim Caldwell that Patriots fans now hope that Brady can put up Flacco-esque numbers on Sunday. And now that Flacco has shed the Fu Man Chu that he sported in the last AFCC, word is that Mrs. Brady has noticed.
PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Patriots 23
Tony Lombardi is the Russell Street Report.com's founder and has been contributing columns, blogs and inside scoops for the site since its inception on July 3, 2003. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he has been a guest on several local and out of town sports radio programs. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony aspires to settle down nearby Mallory Square, is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham and no, he isn't related to THAT Vince Lombardi although his grandfather, uncle and cousin all share the name. Follow Tony on Twitter @RussellStReport or @RSRLombardi
Now here are "Five Reasons Why The Patriots Will Win:"
1. PICK YOUR POISON: The loss of Rob Gronkowksi has been countered by the improvement in New England's running game. Even without "Gonk," Tom Brady still has Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and (now and then) Deion Branch to target, along with Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley (1,263 yards rushing in the regular season and 82 last week against Houston) and Danny Woodhead as targets out of the backfield. The Patriots nearly had Baltimore beaten in September and ran 34 times for just 77 yards. If they commit to the run and the no-huddle early, Brady will be just that much more effective attacking a worn down and elderly defense late. In New England's last five games against Baltimore, 108 of New England's 346 plays (or 31%) have been no-huddle. Expect that average to increase on Sunday.
2. BROTHERHOODIE: One coach has beaten Belichick twice in each of the past two seasons. In 2010, it was Rex Ryan. In 2011, it was Tom Coughlin. John Harbaugh would make it three in three years. If you count brother Jim's win with the 49ers last month, that makes two wins in one season by a Harbaugh over Belichick. Close enough. No family, not the Mannings, the Harbaughs or even the Corleones, is going to beat Belichick three times in one year, at least without the help of Eric Mangini. This is also the third game between the Patriots and Ravens in 363 days. No current coach is as good as Belichick when it comes to examining opponents and exploiting their weaknesses. The previous two games were decided on last-minute kicks and/or misses, not to mention some wacky penalties. Familiarity breeds defeat when it comes to Belichick and the Patriots, just ask the AFC East. Belichick has also been secretly taping the Harbaugh brothers since their days playing backyard football in the 1970s. Unfortunately it hasn't done him much good of late.
3. PEDs ANYONE? The Patriots are proof that you can achieve better living through chemistry. How many other NFL teams can boast of having three players - Aqib Talib, Brandon Bolden and Jermaine Cunningham - serve PED suspensions and reach the conference championship game in the same season? The defense has improved markedly since the acquisition of Talib from Tampa on Nov. 1 (he was serving his suspension at the time). Talib has swapped his Adderall for a healthy dose of The Patriot Way. Belichick needed a cornerback who could play the position without drawing a pass-interference penalty on every incompletion. Talib has been able to cover big-time receivers in single coverage (see Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin), allowing Belichick to move the pieces on the rest of the defense. Several members of the 1985 Patriots were “high on cocaine” and that team reached the Super Bowl. Of course, the only foreign substance that would have helped against the Bears was kryptonite.
4. BRADY, BRADY, BRADY: When it comes to the QBs in this game - Tom Brady is Marcia and Joe Flacco is Jan. Marcia was always hotter, cooler, smarter, and way, way more popular. Marcia just had to show up, and she was the center of attention and the star. Let's not kid ourselves, Marcia was not only Carol's favorite, but obviously Greg's favorite as well. The bespectacled Jan was always whiny, moaning and complaining about everything from Marcia's teeth to her clothes to all her 1970s-style hunky boyfriends. More importantly, Marcia was a winner and Jan was a loser. Brady has won three Lombardi trophies while Flacco has had to settle for two championship rings from George Glass. Brady has a supermodel wife and an very attractive actress for a baby mama. Flacco married his high school sweetheart. Nothing wrong with that, especially once you've seen the wedding photos. Props to Flacco for scoring a TD in that department. He won't be scoring much at all during Sunday’s game.
5. MYSTIQUE, AURA AND DESTINY WON'T BE DANCING: The "Team of Destiny" mantle has been pinned on Lewis and the Ravens thanks to their victory over blown coverage and Peyton Manning in cold weather last week. All the "Destiny Darlings" talk isn't going to keep Brady from finding Welker out of the slot or Lloyd down the sidelines. All the "Squirrel Dances" won't stop Brady once Lewis bites on a play-action, leaving Hernandez alone open over the middle. All that "Harbaugh Brothers Super Bowl" hype won't slow Vince Wilfork once the Ravens' offensive line finally tires. Now, if Manti Te'o's girlfriend shows up in the white suit Lewis was wearing the night of Super Bowl XXXIV, that would be destiny. Last season, the Patriots tried to use the "Spirit of Myra Kraft" storyline as inspiration. Unfortunately, she didn't show up against the Giants. The best team wins about 99% of the time. This Sunday, it will be the Patriots:
PREDICTION: Patriots 31, Ravens 24.
We even gave the folks in Baltimore a special OBF bio.
"Don't miss our in-game fan chat during Sunday's AFC championship game on boston.com. The mayhem begins at 6:15 p.m. Obnoxious Boston Fan, once known as Lennay Kekua, was born in the Boston suburbs and grew up knowing nothing but pain and anguish when it came all sports teams not named the Celtics after 1972. When OBF began blogging for boston.com in September of 2011, the Red Sox had a comfortable lead in A.L. wildcard race and the only chicken and beer anyone saw at Fenway Park was in the stands. It's been downhill ever since. He's been a Patriots fan since Jim Plunkett was throwing to Randy Vataha and is old enough to remember watching rookie kicker Jim O'Brien boot the game-winning field goal for the Colts in Super Bowl V. He's confident rookie kicker Justin Tucker won't have the chance to kick anything in Super Bowl XLVII. He's also willing to trade Ben Cherington and John Lackey for Dan Duquette and a Ray Rice rookie card. OBF can be called "Bill," or "Billy" if you've known him since elementary school. He can be reached on Twitter at @RealOBF, on his OBF Facebook page or via e-mail at email@example.com.
(Updated at 4 p.m. Thursday)
Gronk will be missed this weekend, but we'll always have "Gonk."
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's loyalty to the Patriots is beyond question - it's just some of players he needs to get straight.
Wednesday, while discussing Sunday's AFC championship against the Baltimore
Orioles Ravens, Menino had some trouble with a few of the player names.
"We've already got a great guy in Willcott," (Or was it "Wilcock"? With the Mayor we can never be 100 percent sure.) Menino said on New England Cable News Network in a clip that was aired during Felger and Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub and on Comcast Sports Net. Immediately, the mayor, wearing a No. 75 Patriots Vince Wilfork jersey, is interrupted and corrected by a woman who says: "Wilfork."
Menino then continued: "...of course, Wilfork... We have it all. (Aaron) Hernandez is going to a great job as he sets in for Gonk, since Gonk's hurt. The defense is coming together." Gonk presumably would be tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the playoffs due to a broken arm. The mayor did nail the 6:30 p.m. kickoff time and was right on by saying "the whole city is going stop."
Thursday - he took to Twitter:
Menino's roster moves came while he was dishing out a food bet with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, over the phone on the game.
If New England wins Sunday, according to bostinno.com, Baltimore will ship north some crab cakes, fruit salad, Berger cookies, and stuffed cabbage. If the Pats lose, then Menino is on the hook for Rawlings-Blake local seafood from Red’s Best Seafood, spicy fare from CropCircle Kitchen, Alex’s Ugly Hot Sauce and some other samplings from Beantown's menu.
Last season, before the Patriots playoff victory over Denver, Menino added Res Weckler to the team's lineup.
Among his other past gems:
- There was the Celtics tandem of "KJ and Hondo":
- At a dedication ceremony at the Tobin Community Center in 2010, the mayor made reference to NBA commissioner
David Stern "Donald Sterns."
- Menino used the term "great ball players" to describe the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
- He called the Dropkick Murphys the "Dropkick Murphy" and called the screen on the scoreboard at the Garden a "Jumbletron" in lieu of the term JumboTron.
And the all-time greatest of epic Mumbles' Stumbles, Hizzoner had former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek splitting the uprights:
Can't wait for Super Bowl week.
The next time you try and read the lips of any athlete doing an interview or a coach talking on the sidelines, see if you can top this effort by the creative people at "Bad Lip Reading."
It was posted on You Tube Tuesday and has more than 1.5 million views.
In the dubbed effort, you'll hear Tom Brady tell his Patriots' teammates that he's "found Fido" and that he's "made some chicken rolls." Receiver Donte' Stallworth follows through on a dare to spit in someone's drink and San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh whines about how he wants cake now.
Sure there will be some choice voice-over opportunities available by the end of the night on Sunday.
The winner of Wildcard Weekend - Rex Ryan.
Rexy's tattoo featuring his wife in a Mark Sanchez jersey and nothing else will be this season's highpoint - depending on how far the Patriots advance in the playoffs.
Just when we thought things could not get any more ridiculous and absurd with the Jets. They once again out-Red-Soxed the Red Sox. Ryan has opened himself to a life-time of nickle-and-dime psychoanalysis Lucy-style thanks to that unsettling image. Some believe it shows Mrs. Ryan "Tebowing" but no one remembers Timmy Tebowing without pants. It appears Mrs. Ryan is styling more an early 1950 pin-up/nude Marilyn Monroe pose. The Super Bowl champion Giants missed the playoffs but the only thing that matters to football fans in New York is which one of Ryan's ample butt cheeks features a tattoo of Tim Tebow's face on Mrs. Ryan's nude body.
Rexy's tattoo was a natural cover story for the New York Daily News, which might want consider a retraction on this one from 10 months ago:
Now it's up to the New York Post to nail that exclusive photo of the tattoo displaying Mrs. Ryan wearing a Tom Brady jersey and nothing else that is inked on her right foot.
Wonder what tattoos Bill Belichick might have hidden underneath that hoodie? Perhaps he's got his first wife wearing an Eli Manning jersey and nothing else inked on his lower back. If that image doesn't leave you disturbed for the rest of the day - you've passed the first step in Navy SEAL training and are mentally prepared in case the Patriots lose next week to the Texans or in two weeks to the Broncos.
Rexy's tattoo fiasco has already set up next season and the playoffs haven't even started yet. The Jets have a legit QB crisis on their hands and have already said Ryan will be their coach next season no matter what after firing their general manager. The Jets have also reportedly told their GM, whomever he or she will be, that they must keep Ryan on as coach. Now Red Sox fans can get a taste of how the Boston Haters in New York and elsewhere revel in our malaise - drooling over each/next misstep by the team, level of dysfunction in the clubhouse or "you won't believe this" breaking news story on or off the field.
Enough schadenfreude - for this week.
Now, it's on to the playoffs.
The Patriots have a bye week and announced some sad news on Friday - the death of former offensive guard Jack Davis. He was 80. Davis, an original member of the Boston Patriots in 1960, died on Jan. 1 in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Rest in peace.
Otherwise, the team had a quiet week. Rob Ninkovich returned to practice this week after his injury/scare against the Dolphins last weekend and was naturally keeping with the Patriot Way by not saying any more about his status. How many among us guessed the Ninkovich would be the most important "Rob" on the Patriots' roster heading into the playoffs this season? Although Rob Gronkowski demonstrated Sunday what you can do to the Dolphins with one arm and Brady as your QB.
There are two games each day this Wildcard Weekend - here's our breakdown:
Charles Dickens gave his first American reading of "A Christmas Carol" at the Parker House in Downtown Boston in 1867. If he were alive today, Chuck could sit at Table 40 in Parker's (where JFK proposed to Jackie) and usher in the New Year in Boston sports by simply reciting the first 85 words from "Tale of Two Cities."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...
Indeed, the State of Our Union on the Boston sports scene entering 2013 is one of uncertainty and confidence, hope and dismay, excitement and doom.
It's all a matter of perspective.
It's impossible to slot and separate the Patriots fan, from the Red Sox fan, from the Celtics fan, from the Bruins fan. There is too much crossover and overlap among us and our emotions to say things are potentially Duck Boat-esque (Patriots), so-so (Celtics), dreadful (Red Sox) or completely disheartening (Bruins).
The lack of an NHL season is devastating for those who can't wait to secure Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Seguin on their NHL fantasy league teams if play ever resumes. Unstable chemistry or any ability to play defense is causing fits for Celtics fans pining for Banner 18. Non-existent reliable starting pitching, never mind the absence of the not-so-cheerful Mike Napoli, has left Red Sox fans wondering when it will ever end. Questions about the Patriots' secondary trying to stop Peyton Manning on his new home turf amid 80,000 potentially-stoned but still riled-up Broncos fans are sobering for anyone looking to at a Super Bowl XLVII hat to their championship collection.
Boston fans are a rarity in that their passions intertwine and overlap, shifting with ease from team to team depending not only on the season, but the crisis du jour. The bandwagon was SRO during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run and at the height of "Chicken and Beer Gate." And the timing of the Bruins Cup banner raising - eight days after Robert Andino struck just after midnight in Baltimore - was the perfect overdose of Percocet at just the right time. Of all the markets with teams in all the four major pro sports and longstanding and legitimate passions, Boston is also unique given its extreme highs and lows since the turn of the century. Even during the crazed and historic "Decade of Dominance" (2002-2012), triumphs and epic losses were often intertwined. The Patriots won a Super Bowl in February of 2002 and Red Sox fans were seven deep on the Tobin Bridge 19 months later courtesy of Aaron Boone. Five months after tha, Tom Brady and the Patriots were celebrating another Super Bowl victory in Houston. 2004 brought a zenith of power and prominence, capped off by the Patriots' third Super Bowl eight years ago (boy, that's depressing) next month. The Red Sox 2007 World Series and the Celtics 2008 championship bracketed the 18-1 Patriots. That team was greatest letdown of our generation given the fact that perfection, in addition to another championship, was lost forever.
In the past three calendar years, Boston has lost game seven of a championship series (Celtics 2010), won game seven of a championship series (Bruins 2011) and lost a Super Bowl after giving up a touchdown in the final two minutes. Just to make things interesting, the Red Sox followed the greatest September playoff collapse in baseball history with their worst season since Lyndon Johnson's election as president.
The Red Sox have nowhere to go but up - literally and figuratively. The post-Boone Red Sox bottomed out last August when word broke that only four players bothered to attend Johnny Pesky's funeral. What seemed to members of team and State Run Media as an innocuous slight triggered a nuclear Hellstorm of fan anger than was unprecedented in the lives of Red Sox partisans from nine to 99. That single incident encapsulated everything that was wrong with the team - both on and off the field - laziness, a lack of discipline, integrity, and basic respect for anything and anyone but themselves. It was the Fahrenheit 451 point for Red Sox fans after a year of slovenly play, clubhouse turmoil, phony sellout streaks, bricks and Bobby Valentine. The Great Salary Dump could be the historic benchmark that signaled the turnaround of this franchise.
So much of what ailed the Red Sox is gone. A new cast of characters is supposed to bring "chemistry" to the clubhouse. The problem is that workplace chemistry, much like personal chemistry, is organic. Arranged marriages might work out, but they don't sound like a whole lot of fun on the front end. You either become friends with someone or you don't. Same with your co-workers. Some you like. Others, like Bob, make you want to scream because he's always interrupting you and his lunch smells funny. It doesn't help when so many of those co-workers are No. 5 hitters, utility outfielders or share the same "Iron Man" DNA as J.D. Drew.
The problem with the Red Sox remains the same as it was when your father was swearing at Don Zimmer and Mike Torrez - the starting pitching. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are known commodities. The key in 2013 will be - as noted earlier in this space - John Lackey. He's not going anywhere. If Lackey is the running for comeback player of the year honors - or even the 10th Player Award - the Red Sox might have a shot at third place. Otherwise, Boston will remain south of Tampa Bay, New York and Baltimore in the standings, if not geographically, as well as Toronto on both fronts.
Still, there is reason to be optimistic because Valentine is gone, John Farrell is here and 2012 is history. If anyone can get Buchholz, Lester and even Two-Fist Lackey on track, it will be Farrell. Signing Napoli before Patriots Day wouldn't hurt either.
The Celtics are at least playing, if you can call it that. The NBA regular season/preseason will give the Celtics another two or three months to find themselves on defense. The bench has already wilted just two months into the season. The highlight of the season might be the Christmas Day victory over the Nets. Last spring, the Celtics gave us all a fun ride in the spring, overachieving their way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. 2013 still has plenty of Green potential.
The time for the Celtics is now because Avery Bradley returns to the lineup at the start of 2013. The 22-year-old guard can reportedly contribute on offense and Rajon Rondo called him the best defender in the NBA at the guard position. Doc Rivers said Bradley was a top-five on-ball defender and basically would eliminate one guard from the opposing team. And while Rivers himself said he's never said "Just wait until Avery comes back" - Celtics fans have been saying "just wait until Avery comes back" ever since Avery left. Of course, Rondo is nursing an injury. If the Celtics can get their entire starting five together and healthy, they will be able to build from there out and might nail a 6th or 7th seed come playoff time. "Good job, good effort" is all one can reasonably expect.
The Bruins remain frozen in time. If/when the NHL regular season begins, the Bruins are a legitimate threat for a top seed in the East. The team is solid from front to back, and has plenty of weapons on offense with a healthy Nathan Horton re-joining the lineup. The big question remains in between the pipes. Tuukka Rask is untested in the playoffs and is also coming off an injury. The extra time off has only helped. The Bruins remain solid at their core. Again, more optimism, considering literally nothing is going on right now. A premature stumble in the playoffs this season won't matter because this year's Stanley Cup will be adorned with asterisks as well as player names. And if the Bruins were somehow able to capitalize on the shortened season - as opposed to the Capitals capitalizing on them in the playoffs - and win another Cup, we would embrace it as another legitimate championship.
That brings us to the Patriots. They are our real last, best and only chance for a Duck Boat ride in 2013. They have enjoyed a spectacular run of brilliance in the past 10 years that NFL fans in New England will never see again. Tom Brady is a unique and transcendent athlete in Boston sports history. Your grandparents saw Ted Williams. Your parents saw Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and Yaz. Your older cousins saw Larry Bird. You've got Brady. Not too shabby. At 35, Brady's clock is ticking louder than Jennifer Aniston's. This season has been an unexpected journey for Patriots and their Hobbit-sized running back because it has given fans realistic hope for a Super Bowl championship - even if the road goes through the haze of Denver.
All roads lead to New Orleans on Feb. 3
We enter 2013 with a spirit of tempered optimism - in case you haven't noticed. Expect the best but prepare for the worst. That spirit has permeated Boston fandom for all about a few of the past 100 years. Gone is the unchecked foolish belief that the city's team could never lose games that mattered. Most of us never really bought into that. Or were over-medicated if we did. Our in-bred arrogance - Hub of the Universe and all that - doesn't mean we don't fear the Red Sox bullpen or Stephen Gostkowski in the clutch.
Expectations for 2013 are sober, somber and all too realistic. An 84-78 record would mark a 15-game improvement for the Red Sox and probably be good enough for third place. Can anyone reasonably ask for more than that given the lineup taking shape on Yawkey Way - assuming Napoli arrives sometime before the next Mayan Apocalypse. The Celtics might find their way in time to mount a strong run through the first two rounds of the playoffs. If the Bruins manage to play before St. Patrick's Day that alone would be victory enough for abused and desperate hockey fans.
It's only the soaring expectations brought by the Patriots that will leave New England disappointed and despondent without a championship this year.
While 2012 was a year many in Boston would like to forget, a fourth Patriots Super Bowl would make 2013 a year to remember for all the right reasons.
That was not a clown hit, bro.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney was not clowning around when he delivered the hit of 2013 on New Year's Day. Clowney, a 6-5, 256-pound sophomore defensive end considered by some to be the top player at his position in the country, steamrolled Michigan's Vinson Smith and scooped up the forced fumble with one hand in the fourth quarter of the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. The hit came after the officials blew the spot on the preceding fourth-down play, erroneously giving Michigan an extra set of downs.
Clowney decided to correct the mistake himself.
South Carolina went on to win the game 33-28 after QB Dylan Thompson came off the bench and eventually threw a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining.
Meanwhile, Smith isn't sure what year it is.