So to Conclude: The Red Sox Were *Not* the Team o’ Destiny

But the Atlanta Braves still might be.

First, the sad demise of the Crimson Hose, as narrated by the Boston Globe’s resident darn-those-Sox scribe Dan Shaughnessy.

Red Sox ran out of karma, and it all started after the wristwatch taunt

HOUSTON — The Red Sox season ended Friday night with a 5-0 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

The Sox went down passively, losing three straight games after dominating the ‘Stros and even mocking them in a Game 3, 12-3 rout at Fenway.

The record will show that the Sox flatlined after Eduardo Rodriguez ridiculed Houston shortstop Carlos Correa (pointing at an imaginary watch — a patented Correa move that means “it’s our time”) while coming off the mound with a 9-3 lead in the sixth inning of Game 3. Alex Cora yelled at his young pitcher for poking the bear. But it was too late. Karma shifted. And so did the series.

The numbers were brutal: “After scoring 21 runs and hitting three grand slams in Game 2 and 3 routs, Boston was outscored, 22-1, over the final 26 innings of this series. . . . the Sox bats went cold (0 for 19 with runners in scoring position in Games 4-5-6). For three full games. They had nothing. They were two-hit in Game 6 and they hit .111 (10 for 90) in the last three games.”

Swat Caroline.

By contrast, in Hot ‘Lanta (tip o’ the pixel to the late, great Allman Brothers) the Braves shook off their 2020 collapse in the NLCS (up 3-1, lost three in a row to the Dodgers) and closed out the series last night with gritty 4-2 win.


Let the World’s Serious rumpus begin!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wynton Marsalis Ad Jazz at Lincoln Center Should’ve Run

As the hardgrading staff noted yesterday, Jazz at Lincoln Center ran this totally unreadable full-page ad in the New York Times on Monday to celebrate Wynton Marsalis’s 60th birthday.

(The Missus rightly noted that Wynton Marsalis deserved far better than an ad nobody would read.)

And better was readily available in the form of this tweet that posted the same day.

Yo – that’s the ad, Lincoln Centerniks.

Full page.

Full stop.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey, Jazz at Lincoln Center: Just Set Your Money on Fire

Yesterday was Wynton Marsalis’s 60th birthday, so the fine folks from Jazz At Lincoln Center took out this full-page ad in the New York Times to celebrate it.

Yeah, that’s what we thought.

Here’s a blown up section to give you an idea of the birthday greetings.

The print ad, however, is virtually unreadable and undoubtedly has David Ogilvy spinning in his grave.

For starters, there’s this quote from Ogilvy on Advertising: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Except the JALC ad doesn’t;’t have a headline. So, given the estimated $150,000 cost of a full-page d in the Times (color is extra), the Center just threw away at least $120,000.

Other Ogilvy recommendations (via The Castle Press) that the ad ignores:

Use eye-easy typography

Sans-serif fonts are particularly difficult to read

Reverse type is almost impossible to read

Which likely left this ad almost entirely unread.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hold On: Maybe the Atlanta Braves Are the Team o’ Destiny

Yesterday the hardlyrooting staff (which has been a Made Yankee Fan in Boston for 45 years, so draw your own conclusions) presented the case for the Boston Red Sox as this postseason’s Team o’ Destiny.

But now that the Atlanta Braves have managed their second walkoff win against the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers, we seem to have a bakeoff.

On Saturday night, after a Dodger baserunning blunder in the top of the ninth snuffed out a possible rally, the Braves put together a bloop single, a stolen base, and a walkoff line drive into the left field corner to grab the victory.

Then last night the Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, the Braves tied it in the bottom of the fourth, the Dodgers came back with two in the top of the seventh, and the Braves matched them in the bottom of the eighth.

(All the action is here via MLB.)

And in the bottom of the ninth there was this.


Best case scenario: The Sox and the Braves (former Boston abutters, as Garry Brown noted at MassLive) meet in the World’s Serious.

Save us a seat, yeah?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beacon Hill Inactivity Turns the Bay State Into Laxachusetts

Wiser heads than the hardworking staff undoubtedly already knew this, but it turns out the Massachusetts legislature has a batting average well south of Jackie Bradley Jr.’s.

Axios Sneak Peek crunched some numbers published in a new analysis from Quorum and came up with this helpful chart.

So, according to those numbers (and if our math is correct, no sure thing), the 200 Massachusetts lawmakers – 160 House, 40 Senate – introduced 6960 bills this year and passed 60 of them.

Batting average: .oo8.

For those of you keeping score at home, JBJ finished the season at .163.

Then again, thank God for Minnesota!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Let the Wild ‘Team o’ Destiny’ Rumpus Begin!

Jonathan V. Last, the in-house hardball geek at The Bukwark, totally nailed it last week in his daily newsletter, The Triad.

When it comes to the World Series, there is nothing I love more than a Team of Destiny. You can win 106 games and be utterly dominant. You can have the biggest payroll and the best starting rotation.

But if you’re up against a Team of Destiny? Forget about it.

A Team of Destiny doesn’t appear very often. Most years, the best team wins the World Series and that’s that.

But watching a Team of Destiny emerge, out of nowhere? There is literally nothing more exciting in all of sports.

JVL’s pick?

The Boston Red Sox had a torrid first half of the season, then an All-Star collapse, and then a last-minute, gut-check run to sneak into the playoffs.

Then they beat the Yankees in the one-game Wildcard. Got one of the flukiest breaks you’ve ever seen in the 13th(!) inning of Game 3 against a superior Tampa team. And then they walked-off back-to-back games to advance to the ALCS.

Could they be a Team of Destiny? Stay tuned.

(As a special bonus, he included “this production on the Greatest Team of Destiny Evah.”)

After blowing a Game One that they arguably should have won. the Sox blew out the Houston Astros 9-5 yesterday, launching two – count ’em, two – grand slam homers.



As Boston Globe scribe Dan Shaughnessy notes in today’s edition of the stately local broadsheet, “Red Sox are unbeatable after a loss in the postseason under manager Alex Cora.”

But . . . lose one, win one?

If math is destiny, that won’t add up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why the NYT Is a Great News Organization (Exhibit Umpteen)

Say what you will about the Grey Lady’s shortcomings (looking at you, Caliphate), but when she’s good, she’s very very good.

Case in point: Yesterday’s edition of The Daily, the wildly popular New York Times podcast.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August, our producer started making calls.

With the help of colleagues, she contacted women in different cities and towns to find out how their lives had changed and what they were experiencing.

Then she heard from N, whose identity has been concealed for her safety.

This is the story of how one 18-year-old woman’s life has been transformed under Taliban rule.

The podcast – produced by the redoubtable Lynsea Garrison and Stella Tan – tells, in her own words, the heartbreaking story of a young Afghan woman whose family’s male members (father and two brothers) wanted to force her – as in beat her with pipes – into a marriage to a Talib in the hope that it would save their sorry asses.

The audio of her phone calls to Garrison is gut-wrenching, especially since N absolutely adored her father, who turned out to be the most craven of the lot.

Spoiler alert: N eventually did escape. Sadly, there are an infinite number of other Ns who will not be as lucky.

Or as dramatically profiled.

And that is a tragedy for which America is more than a little responsible.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Tommy Ashton, Murdered 20 Years Ago on 9/11

My cousin Tommy Ashton was 21 years old on September 11, 2001, working his second day as an apprentice electrician at the World Trade Center. Tommy was on the 95th floor of the north tower when American Airlines Flight 11 flew into floors 93 through 99 at 8:46 AM.

From the great Portraits of Grief series in New York Times.

In the weeks after the terror attacks, the Ashton family confronted the tragedy head-on, as this October 3, 2001 post detailed.

Kathy Ashton is relieved her son was not alone when the World Trade Center collapsed. Though Thomas Ashton’s body has not been found, his family has chosen to accept that he died that day, rather than endure the continued agony of hope.

By Friday, after providing DNA samples, filing a missing person’s report and exhausting a two-week search for some sign of Thomas Ashton, his parents took on the dreaded task of applying for their 21-year-old son’s death certificate.

“We had to say, it’s over. And how do you say that about your child? How do you give up hope?” said his mother, Kathy. Ashton’s father, John, had frantically searched city hospitals after the terror attack on the World Trade Center. An uncle, who is a retired New York firefighter, and a cousin ran to the rubble that day and started digging.

Beyond that, “Ashton’s two sisters, Colleen, 25, and Mary, 18; and Jackie, his girlfriend of 6 years, gathered with his parents to try to come to grips with the reality that the introspective and athletic young man would not be found alive, if at all.” And so the family planned a “memorial wake” for October 6th.

According to published reports, out of an estimated 2974 people killed at the World Trade Center, fewer than 300 corpses were recovered.

Tommy’s was one of them – found three days before that planned memorial wake, which miraculously turned into a funeral service.

•  •  •  •  •  •

Everyone who suffers a tragic and untimely loss of somebody dear to them has to come to grips with it in their own way. Take, for instance, the McIlvaine family, profiled in this beautifully written piece by The Atlantic’s Jennifer Senior.

Bobby McIlvaine, 26, died in the World Trade Center collapse. In the aftermath of his death, his mother, Helen, bottled up her grief for years, turning her, in her own words, “cold, distant, strange.” Bob Sr. become a celebrated 9/11 truther, preaching the Gospel of the Inside Job. Younger brother Jeff had four children so that, he said, none of them would ever lose an only sibling the way he did.

Their story, as Senior recorded it, is alternately heart-wrenching and heartwarming.

As for the Ashton family, in 2003 John and Kathy dedicated the intersection of 60th St. and 47th Ave. in Woodside as Thomas J. Ashton Way in a ceremony that Ayala Ben-Yehuda documented for

A young electrician who was killed during his second day on the job at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 was honored Saturday when the street in front of his family’s Woodside apartment was renamed in his honor.

Tommy Ashton, 21, was remembered on 47th Avenue in the Big Six Towers apartment complex by family and friends as an accomplished athlete and youth mentor at St. Sebastian’s Church and Archbishop Molloy High School, his alma maters.

“Tommy truly was a gift to us,” said his older sister, Colleen Ashton, recalling her brother’s honesty, sense of humor and devotion to family.

“He truly inspired me to be a better person,” she said.

Here’s the street map pinpointing Thomas J. Ashton Way.

And here’s the street sign.

Around the same time, Colleen and younger sister Mary established the Thomas Ashton Foundation, dedicate to “[providing] charitable donations in the name of Thomas Ashton to institutions, organizations, worthy causes and individuals, including contributions to philanthropic endeavors and to community enhancing activities.”

For 13 years Colleen and Mary hosted the annual Tommy Ashton 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, which raised over $285,000 for worthy charitable organizations and local projects in Woodside.

Truly remarkable.

•  •  •  •  •  •  • 

The Foundation is now gone, but Tommy’s memory lives on in numerous places. The Voices of September 11th Living Memorial Project has a page with about a dozen links to memorial sites dedicated to Tommy.

Branka Kristic, a family friend, posted a lovely tribute on the Hofstra Parents, Hofstra Pride website on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

We Remember

Peace and early morning sunshine have descended on a usually very busy Calkins Hall green at Hofstra. For the past week, students and staff have have been planting hundreds of American flags in remembrance of the heroes of 9/11, in the shape of our great country. We all know where we were on that day, on that moment.We remember the loved ones lost and the heroes who helped in recovery.

I planted a flag to honor Tommy Ashton who died under the debris of the Twin Towers on 9/11/01. My daughter’s friend, this 21-year-old came to his second day on the job in the World Trade Center. I will always remember his youth, exuberance and the pride in his parents’ eyes when they watched him compete in swimming. It is an honor and pleasure to have known you, Tommy.

In a note to me back then, Branka said, “It was an honor and privilege to have known Tommy. He, Colleen and Mary swam on my daughter’s swim team, Flushing Flyers. Sweet young man, fast swimmer, leader, captain of his team.”

(I remember Tommy when he was just a tadpole, splashing around my parents’ swimming pool in Connecticut.)

Tommy’s memory also lives on at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Rest in peace, Tommy. You are never forgotten.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Its Current Form, NBA = Not Basketball Actually

So last night I’m watching Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns (rising) and the Milwaukee Bucks (buckling) and thinking, what the hell has happened to professional basketball because it sure doesn’t look like the game I loved – geezer moment here – when I wandered the old Boston Garden in the Larry Bird era,

I’ll leave it to wiser heads to debate the impact of three-point-mania on the game. My beef is simpler: traveling violations are officially a thing of the past in the NBA.

The Euro-Step? More like a Eurail Pass – you can travel as far as you want at no additional cost.

Representative NBA-endorsed samples:


Many moons ago, when I played a lot of pickup ball around town, I found myself in a game on the outdoor courts at Brookline High with former Boston Celtic Gerald Henderson, who memorably stole the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals.


In our playground game, however, Henderson was not quite as adept. On a breakaway that would have won the game, he took four steps before dropping in a layup and I called out “suitcase” – the playground designation for traveling.

Henderson, of course, was incensed, but the other players backed me up. Henderson’s team wound up winning the game anyway, but I’ve always thought the greater victory was mine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let Lord Stanley’s Wild Rumpus Conclude! (Pigs Crash Edition)

As you splendid readers might recall, about a week ago I hitched my hockey wagon to the Montreal Canadiens after decades of despising Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (you can review the sad surrender here).

Since then, the Canadiens have been thoroughly outplayed, outcoached, and outclassed by the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Game 1 saw the Bolts totally manhandle Les Habitants in a 5-1 runaway.

Stay calm, I thought – Montreal got mugged by the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the previous round, but then came back to win the series 4-2.

Sure enough, the Canadiens dominated Game 2 until they had a couple of brain freezes at critical times and lost 3-1.

Game 3? Don’t even ask.

As for tonight’s Game 4, let’s hope the Lightning – a team I’ve found impressive although not all that appealing – can put us out of our misery.

And let me go back to hating the Canadiens for a whole new array of reasons.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment