howiGit.com has Landed!

Hello world!

howiGit.com has landed, at long last — check it out at howiGit.com. This site (http://howiGit.wordpress.com) will soon be automatically directing visitors to the new site. If you have the old site saved or bookmarked on your computer, do me a favor and change the link to http://www.howiGit.com.

Thanks all, keep tuning in, and watch out for a Philly writer joining the team soon.

-G

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Tiger Woods — Still the Best Golfer in the World?

I was beginning to think about my 2011 Masters predictions post this week, when I woke up this morning to see this interview with Tiger Woods on ESPN. When asked “Who is the best player in the world?” Tiger could only respond with a smirk and another question, “When I get me swing dialed in?”

As much as Tiger now has his doubters, even given the fact that he hasn’t won a tournament since November 2009, I tend to agree with him. He’s had some pretty significant extracurricular activities to distract him and he changed his swing coach, both of which are in fact pretty good excuses for his performance as of late. But the guy is as hungry as ever — he’s just 4 measly little majors away from Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 (4 majors and measly can only be used in the same sentence because of Tiger) and clearly still believes that he will bring that record to his feet. Not to mention he’s still got more talent in his pinky finger than anyone on tour (although I do see that extra gear in Rory McIlroy as well).

As for the Masters, I’ve already predicted a breakout win for Tiger a few times over and missed, so I’m hesitant to do it again. Tiger is playing next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill — let’s just say that tournament will have a lot to do with my prediction. Stay tuned.

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Nate Dogg Dead — Rap Loses a Legend

Nate Dogg

The rap game lost a legend yesterday, as Nate Dogg’s family confirmed this morning that the Long Beach rapper has passed away. The cause of his death has not yet been determined, but Nate Dogg suffered from multiple strokes in the past few years. He was 41 years old.

Most known for his collaborations with other hip hop artists, Nate Dogg got his start along with Snoop Dogg and Warren G as a member of Long Beach’s 213 group. After Dr. Dre heard their record at a party, he signed the group. The rest is history. Nate Dogg went on to sign with Death Row Records in 1993, where he collaborated on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. Nate is also featured on many Tupac tracks, and recorded with Eminem, Snoop and Ludacris in recent years. Nate was nominated for 4 Grammy awards, most notably for perhaps his most recognizable song “Regulate” with Warren G.

Both Snoop and Luda were active on Twitter this morning, noting Nate’s passing and his contribution to their craft. A lesser publicized contribution, Nate served 3 years in the United States marines after dropping out of high school at age 16.

As a fan huge fan of mid 90’s and most notably west coast rap, Nate’s death represents to me another loss among the pioneers that built rap into a legitimate music form — and a reminder of how terrible rap has become since Nate’s generation.

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2011 Boston Red Sox Predictions

2011 Boston Red Sox

With Major League Baseball’s opening day looming just two weeks away (March 31), it’s time for my 2011 Boston Red Sox predictions. Following an offseason highlighted by the signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, I think that NESN has said it best with their slogan for the Sox 2011 campaign — “We’re all in.”

The Offense — Contrary to popular belief, the Red Sox had plenty of offense last year — they finished second in MLB in runs and slugging percentage. This year’s offense is that much more dynamic — Carl Crawford essentially gives us a second Jacoby Ellsbury on the base paths, in the body of a much better hitter. A left-handed Adrian Gonzalez should bring Fenway’s right field fence to its knees, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are just hitting the stride of their primes, and David Ortiz is  coming off a good season. There will not be a more fun offense to watch in baseball, with the Sox combination of speed and power.

The Pitching — Critics like to poke holes in the Red Sox pitching staff. I look at it like this — John Lester has been just about as good as anybody the last few seasons. Clay Bucholz has finally lived up to his potential, following a 17-7 season with a 2.33 ERA. And my Red Sox pleasant surprise of the year is going to be John Lackey — I’m expecting a big season out of him. Clearly frustrated with his performance last year, Lackey arrived at camp 15 pounds lighter and ready to roll. I’d look for 16-10 or so out of him this year. That leaves us with the Red Sox perennial question marks — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett. These guys both have fierce stuff, but get lit up more than your average patron at a Grateful Dead concert. Who knows what to expect out of these guys — if either of them give us a season substantially over .500 we can consider it a bonus. As for the pen, Papelbon is obviously a bit of a question mark. No pitcher has ever saved 35+ games in a season to more criticism. The likes of Daniel Bard and newcomer Bobby Jenks should help sure up the closing roll.

The Question Marks — The Sox have 3 questions marks in my eyes. The first is middle relief, where the Sox did do some substantial offseason work. That said, I’m not as sure of the bullpen as the rest of Boston seems to be. I am always leery of relievers — a few closers aside they are usually just pitchers not good enough to be starters. I’m not predicting anything terrible here, I’m just not quite sure who is going to emerge as the backbone of the middle relief crew.

The second question mark I see is the shortstop position, which I consider to be the 3rd most important position on the field. I’m not buying into Jed Lowrie, and I never bought into Marco Scutaro. I was a big Nick Green fan myself and saw big things for him. Even so, every team has to have a weakness somewhere and I don’t think this is a big deal.

The biggest question mark in my eyes, by far, is at the catcher position. Jason Varitek is valuable in his leadership and the experience he brings working with the pitching staff, but he’s a glaring weakness in all other ways and likely won’t be able to play too many games. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is young, unproven, and inexperienced — not what you’re looking for in the catcher of a World Series contender. I think that the Sox will miss Victor Martinez much more than any player that they lost — Adrian Beltre included.

2011 Season Prediction – I’m not going out on a limb here at all, but I think the Red Sox will meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. While the Phillies’ starters are undoubtedly superior, I think that the Red Sox offense will be dynamic enough to score the runs needed to beat a lackluster Phillies offense. I hereby predict that the Red Sox will win the 2011 World Series — and don’t call me a homer — I predicted that the Yankees would win the last two seasons.

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ESPN’s Fab 5 Documentary is a Winner

Michigan's Fab 5

ESPN is known for over-hyping sporting events, but typically not for over-hyping their own shows or films. I was surprised to see how many trailers the network was showing for last night’s documentary on Michigan’s Fab 5 — the legendary Michigan men’s basketball team comprised of star freshmen recruits Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. After tuning in last night, this documentary was definitely a winner (unlike the Fab 5) — another big win for ESPN’s film team after their 30 for 30 series.

The story begins with the formation of this super recruiting class, who ultimately loses both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA national championship games in dramatic fashion. While the group was not successful in bringing an NCAA championship to Michigan, they are almost solely responsible for bringing hip-hop culture, baggy shorts, and a street style of play to mainstream college basketball. Video of these guys is just awesome to watch as well — young Chris Webber in particular was a beast. Of the 5, all but Ray Jackson would reach the NBA with Howard, Webber, and Rose going on to illustrious NBA careers. Juwan Howard is still in the league (a member of the Miami Heat) while Rose ended his career averaging 14 ppg to Webbers 20 ppg. Not too shabby.

The most intriguing aspect of this documentary to me was the Fab 5’s viewpoint of their rival Duke Blue Devils, led by Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, who they refer to as “bitches.” Hill’s privileged upbringing acted as motivation for a young Jalen Rose, who came from a much rougher background. A young cocky Rose provides classic commentary throughout the film, which couples perfectly with Howard’s “we’re going to shock the world!” clip from the 1992 NCAA tournament. This documentary single-handedly made me a Jalen Rose fan (nice bling, FYI). His trash talking is nothing short of phenomenal.

If you’ve got a couple of hours between tournament games this month, you’ve got to check this one out.

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The Red Sox Player Missed Most

Bill Hall

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

I’ve made it pretty clear by now that I don’t think this off-season could have gone much better for the Red Sox – I may or may not have called my father after midnight in the middle of the week to inform him that we had landed Carl Crawford. His response – grumble, “great,” click – whatever, he goes to bed at 9:00pm these days. That said there is one player that I’ll be missing come April. Bill Hall.

Psych! I bet you thought I was going to say Adrian Beltre – No, I’m all about Youkilis at third base and prefer not to have Sox left fielders systematically taken down over the course of the season. Surprised? Yeah, me too – because I spent the entirety of last season ripping on Bill Hall. His name became an adjective; you totally blew something, you “Bill Hall’d” it – how’d the interview go? Oh man, I Bill Hall’d it. It’s similar to the expression “I dropped the ball,” because it seemed throughout the course of last season that all Bill Hall did was botch routine plays. In reality, he didn’t play that badly – it’s hard to catch the ball all the time when you’re playing every single position on the field – at the same time. That’s an exaggeration, but at times it felt like Bill Hall was the only healthy player on the Red Sox squad. The night he came in and pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning (the only pitcher that night to do so) I felt like David After Dentist: “Is this real life?”

Upon hearing that the Red Sox had not resigned Bill Hall for the 2011 season I felt oddly disappointed about it – my initial reaction was: How could we not resign this guy! He was our entire team! Obviously resigning Hall wouldn’t make sense for the Sox or Hall himself but hindsight is 20/20 and the reason I hated on him so much is because he was stepping in for players whose shoes were hard to fill. When you’re used to Dustin Pedroia, Bill Hall is just not going to cut it, even if he plays solidly. I didn’t know what I had with Bill Hall ‘till he was gone and now that he’s the regular second baseman for the Houston Astros he’ll probably bat .356 or something, rock Hideki Okajima every time he faces him, and I’ll start hating on him all over again.

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Happy Birthday howiGit’s Blog!

howiGit's blogThat’s right — on March 12, 2010, I wrote my first post introducing howiGit’s blog to the world. I wasn’t completely sure why I was blogging, and I certainly didn’t expect that this is what would become of it.

On that first day, howiGit’s blog had 11 readers — on a recent day past we had 2200+ readers. We’ve had articles reach #1 on Google searches, we’ve had 300+ posts, 3500+ comments, and subscriptions are growing every day. I started out solo and the site has grown to having 6 steadily contributing writers. We’ve certainly come a long way and I’d like to thank the following people for being a part of the action.

howiGit Writers

  • Jimmy Cunningham
  • Alan Raff
  • Matt Moore
  • Thalia Bardell
  • Buster Paris

Other Contributors

  • Mark McCormick
  • Patrick Klimm
  • John Levine

Fellow Bloggers

  • Rob Lunn
  • Chris Ross
  • The Sports Minion
  • The Sports Glutton
  • Chris Kelley
  • Big Dan

Publications

All of our regular readers and commenters, led by:

  • Teck
  • A.Rab Money
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Some dirty kid I went to college with…
  • And the lovely, Kelley Shelpman

Big things are coming down the pike for howiGit’s blog in 2011 — you’ll be seeing a new redesigned version of the site launching this upcoming week. The redesigned site will help us grow even more, and we’ll also be adding a Philadelphia writer in the upcoming weeks as well.

Keep tuning in, and we’ll keep on bringing it. Between the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Patriots there’s got to be a championship on the horizon for 2011.

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