We’re #1! We’re #1!

US News and World Report just (well, last week) ranked Massachusetts the top state in the country. In this uncertain time, when the broader country is doing its damnedest to literally regress against the progress we’ve made over the last decade, it is heartening to live in a state that has been at the forefront of that movement.

That being said, it’s not all rosy here in the Bay State. We have a massive income inequality gap, have a bias towards the portion of the state living inside 128, and have (at best) a public infrastructure in need of significant overhaul.

However, the state is ready for it’s next leader (sorry, Governor Baker), who’ll come in and take up the mantle of continued progress. With the right leadership, there’s an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot[1], and solidify Massachusetts place as guiding force for the broader US.

Also, the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox aren’t so bad.


  1. There’s clearly an opportunity to rethink our public transit system, which is a key factor in helping to unlock economic opportunity and close the income gap. If I had 10 million dollars, I would start a VC fund focused on companies in the Western part of the state (I mean, it’s not like everyone out around Amherst is a dummy). (There are some funds out there, but I think there’s an opportunity to really blow it open.) Massachusetts has a lot of workers who need to be moved to jobs that are ready for the next few decades, i.e. clean energy, being the easiest example. There’s also got to be some remedy to the housing issue, so that Boston doesn’t end up like San Francisco.  ↩

Boston’s Methadone Mile

This is an absolutely amazing, heartbreaking, enlightening piece of journalism by the Boston Globe. It’s a must read for anyone who’s been touched by the opioid epidemic, which at this point, is probably nearly everyone.

He finds a bed at a detox facility on the Cape, but they can’t take him for a few days — long enough to go into withdrawal. So Barbara drives him to his dealer in the city to get heroin to hold him over. Taking her money, he shoots up while she waits in the car — a new low, he says.

The Relativity of Winter

Going to school in Virginia, I built up this impression of myself, an image that coming from the brutal winters of New England, handling winter in the Blue Ridge Mountains was nothing. To be clear, winter in Blacksburg was rough. The Drillfield in the middle of campus was a giant wind tunnel, making the trek across campus to class an exercise in trying to get up a short, icy slope with massive wind bursts blowing you the other way. The temperature, often hovering around freezing, lead to mixes of snow and rain that changed rapidly to slush and ice.

Winter in Blacksburg was tough, but it was short and it was, definitively, nothing like a New England winter.

Or so I told myself.

Then I came back to live just north of Boston and, in the years since, rapidly began to wonder if I was ever that tough. The cold ate at me in ways I never remembered. Whereas I used to love the prospect of snow, and having a day off from school, I now dreaded the idea that my city would declare a snow emergency, leaving me to have to find a place to park my car, and then trudge back and forth to it to shovel it out and make my way to work.

The occasional light winters with only a couple of snow storms that melted away rapidly were a joy, and made me wonder if I had lost my New England seasonal toughness. Maybe I was better equipped for warmer climates.

Everything is relative.

The winter of 2015 is going to go down in history as probably the snowiest on record for the Boston area. It’s rarely been above freezing for the last 4 weeks, and there’s only been a handful of days that didn’t contain some snow. Navigating the city by car or on foot is treacherous and takes three times as long as normal, simply because there’s nowhere for the snow to go.

The difference is none of us seem to care any more. Or don’t care about the precipitaton and cold, at least. More snow? I just need to figure out where I’m going to put it. Only in the single digits today? Ok, I guess I’ll put on some gloves when I shovel. As the winter has worn on, I’ve realized that I never lost that toughness necessary to handle a New England winter. I just hadn’t faced a tough New England winter in a while.

Our big complaints now? That aforementioned traffic due to streets that are 60% their normal size. The T not running because the snow has come so fast and furious that the tracks aren’t even clear in some places. Are they going to have ice melt at the hardware store since they’ve run out for three days in a row. Are parking space savers ok?

My memory of being a kid and facing down winter head on doesn’t include the six layers of clothing topped by full snow pants, or coming inside and standing next to the wood stove, which in hindsight, is how we survived winter. No, I just remember winter not being a big deal.

30 years later, six feet of snow later, watching as a near blizzard drops another ten inches of snow onto our yard, already swelling with mounds of shoveled snow, winter isn’t a big deal. My hearty New England soul can handle it just fine.

It’s just a pain in the ass.

Raining on the Pre-Victory Parade

“You do understand that there is zero chance that the Red Sox repeat, right?

Last year was fun, but it’s not going to happen again. Not this year, anyway.”

Thanks, Eric Wilbur. You mean it’s hard for a baseball team to win the World Series, let alone win them back to back? Well, I’ll be. I never would have figured.

This shit is why people hate sports writers. There is zero in this article that is worthwhile. This is a contrarian article to get page views, and generate some ad dollars for boston.com, and maybe get Wilbur a few a couple more spots on radio or local tv.

Yes, it’s hard to win the World Series. Yes, the Red Sox are not a dominant team, going to steam roll the league (that just doesn’t happen in baseball any more). Are they the most likely team to win? Not by the odds—Baseball Prospectus has them the 6th best odds to win it all, Vegas has them 6th as well).

But, this tripe:

Boston still isn’t viewed as the best team in the American League. It probably even has to surrender that honor to the Tampa Bay Rays in their very own division. The Tigers are more complete. The Rangers have more firepower. The Royals are young, hungry, and ready to burst onto the scene.

The Rays are absolutely a solid team, betting on a very young rotation once again. Definitely one of the best teams in the AL. The Tigers have no shortstop, but have put together a great (if defensively flawed team), and have one of the best rotations in the AL. They have little depth to handle injuries. The Rangers … the Rangers? They’ve got a pretty horrible rotation (topped with their ace being on the DL), a questionable bullpen, and an offense that is very different than last season’s. They’re a good team, but not one most folks are even betting on to win their division (that’d be the Oakland A’s or Los Angeles Angels). And, jeez, the Royals? Now you’re just trolling. They’ve got one of the worst hitting infields in the American League, and have one starting pitcher on their staff likely to have an ERA under 4.

The Sox? Well, they’ve got a hole in the outfield, no matter how you slice it. I wasn’t a huge Ellsbury fan, but his 2013 is likely to be better than the Sizemore/Bradley combo (though not for as much as he got paid). Bogaerts is a rookie, and Middlebrooks is Middlebrooks. What the Sox have is depth. Depth for call ups and depth for trades. Sizemore gets hurt? Bradley is there. Bradley not cutting it? Bring up Brentz, or trade for an OF. Bogaerts scuffling at SS or Middlebrooks not getting it done? Drew is still out there …

Are the Sox going to win it in 2014? Probably not. There’s just no way you can say that any team is going to win it. But to say they aren’t going to win it, and to mention the Royals and Rangers as reasons why? That’s just being a douchebag.

(Via Boston.com.)

Stunned.

I’ve held off writing about the tragedy in Boston, mostly because I’m still processing my thoughts. It hit close to home both literally (Boston, friends and family in the marathon) and figuratively (one day before the anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy). I’ll have some thoughts to share at some point.

But, in the interim, here I am, glued to Twitter and reddit at 4am in the morning (with the television on as background noise) watching one of the most insane things I have ever seen unfold. I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV, got up to head to bed, checked twitter, saw the MIT shooting, and thought “wow, that’s close to home and such unbelievably bad timing.”

And I stayed up just long enough to watch it develop into a manhunt and potential capture of the marathon bombers.

The Boston Globe/Boston.com are doing unbelievably great coverage. As are all sorts of folks on Twitter. TV news lags far behind.

We live in a new media world.

Emotionally, psychologically, I’m vacillating between being numb to the immense and disproportionate amount of damage these assholes have perpetrated; to being angry/excited to see them brought to justice; to being nervous that this is all happening just a couple of miles from my house, literally in an area I go nearly once a week.

It’s now 4:03am. I’ve been watching this for nearly 6 hours. There’s a good chance I may have to watch it for a while longer to see it brought to whatever conclusion it will reach. I’ll process what I’ve seen later, but it has been a remarkable (not necessarily in a good way, but still remarkable) week.

Trading Rondo

I’ve been to, live, I’d guess nearly 80% of Rajon Rondo’s home games. Not this season. In his career. I’ve watched probably another 25-30% of his games on television.

As you can ask any of my friends who deal with my Celtics mania, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Rondo. Early on (including the year where the Celtics won #17), my issues with Rondo stemmed from his inability to shoot, his needless defensive freelancing, and his desire to make the flashy play over the simple one.

But you couldn’t argue with success, right? A Championship, another Eastern Conference title, and a few games from a 3rd. He was the starting point guard on a very successful team, and arguably, the most important player on that team.

As the core around him has aged, the media story, the story from the team, the story from everyone has been that this is the year that it becomes Rondo’s team. I bought in. Over the last year and a half, the improved shooting, the occasional glimpses of greatness (national TV triple doubles), and all of the talk coming from the team: I believed. I thought Rondo was ready to become “the man.”

I was wrong. I’m out. I want off the roller coaster.

Even knowing that the team expected him to be a leader, knowing that the team needed him to step up and carry more of the load, Rondo hasn’t changed. He still walks away from team huddles. He agitates officials such that he rarely gets calls (and the league has a hair trigger with regards to his behavior, making matters worse). He padded his stats by giving up easy hoops in favor of assists during his double-digit assist streak. His defense has gotten progressively worse, to the point his on ball defense has to be below average for a point guard.

The thing about it is, I know that Rondo could be better. When he wants to play defense, he can be stellar. His shooting has become an asset. He can finish around the rim and score, seemingly at will, but simply refuses(?) to do so. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like Rondo coasts through games at 60%, turning it on when he thinks he really has to. Is it a coping mechanism, to help him last through a full season? Is it a coaching strategy? I don’t know.

But it’s hurting the team, and destroying my will to watch Rondo run the point for the Celtics.

Thursday’s game against New York was the final straw. Rondo has a triple double, an amazing 4th quarter (almost single handedly getting the Celtics back into the game), and I’m stuck on the thought that Rondo’s first three quarters were the reason the Celtics were down.

The final straw(s) were two plays. A 3-on-1 break in a tight game where Rondo tried to throw a backwards alley-oop rather than take a wide open layup, and a diagonal cross court pass thrown off Tyson Chandler’s head in the final minutes of a game where the Celtics had made a furious comeback. I half think he did it on purpose.

I don’t think Rondo is a bad player. I don’t think we could even get full value for him in a trade. I just don’t think that he can run a team, that he’s mature enough to ever be the guy. I’m probably wrong, but I don’t care any more.

My epiphany is that Rondo is now like Manny Ramirez, circa 2008ish. When he’s on, he’s breathtaking to watch. When he’s off, you wonder how a player could have that little regard for his teammates (let alone the team or the fans).

Sometimes you have to break ties. I think it’s time.

I got into a somewhat interesting Twitter conversation during that Knicks game. As both an opportunity to try Storify and to show some of the feelings/emotions surrounding the issue. I’m sure I’ll go back and forth on this, but I think the Celtics have reached the point where trading Rondo for a less flashy, straight ahead point guard might be a better option for the team.
Like this or this or this (probably unrealistic, but I can dream).