The Bench Jockeys offer their MLB Predictions for 2015

Posted in Professional Sports on March 26th, 2015 by Ian Paregol

MLB_Background_Logos[1]March 24, 2015 – The Cactus and Grapefruit League games are wrapping up and skipper’s are setting up their rotations. Thus, its time for The Bench Jockeys to offer our predictions for the upcoming MLB Season.

What we know:   Pretty much nothing.  We did not agree on anything.  The betting lines have Mike Trout as a 1:1 favorite to take home the AL Most Valuable Player hardware, but it is interesting that none of the Jockeys see the Angels in the World Series despite the potential output of Trout, Pujols and Calhoun.  As a group, we see Felix Hernandez dominating the AL.  (Spound is still waiting for Tanaka to produce for his 2014 fantasy team, and we are not quite sure what Brittany is seeing that the rest of don’t with respect to Joe Kelly of the Red Sox.)

Ian really wanted to take a flyer on the Mariners in the Series and likes Cano as a dark horse AL MVP pick, but he couldn’t pull the trigger.  Britt and Craig both go all-in with an old skool LA-NY series and Chris and Ian both projected the same unlikely AL Champ to lose versus the pitching depth of the Nats.  And of course, the ever-diabolical Spound is rooting for the Cubbies to find their way back to the Championship just so Billy Sianis’ curse can play-out yet again…106 years and counting.

  Britt Chris Craig Ian Spounder
World Series Dodgers over Yanks Nats over White Sox Yanks over Dodgers Nats over White Sox Red Sox over Cubs
AL Cy Young Joe Kelly King Felix King Felix King Felix Masahiro Tanaka
NL Cy Young Clayton Kershaw Max Scherzer Madison Bumgarner Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw
AL MVP Mike Trout Mike Trout Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout Edwin Encarnacion
NL MVP Bryce Harper Giancarlo Stanton Andrew McCutchen Andrew McCutchen Giancarlo Stanton

Send us your thoughts in the comment section.

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Brothers in Arms: How Do the Harrisons of UK Rank Against Other Sibling Successes

Posted in Professional Sports on March 8th, 2015 by Ian Paregol

HarisonsMarch 8, 2015 – As the Harrison brothers (Aaron & Andrew) and the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team continue their pursuit of perfection with the SEC Championship and NCAA Tourney looming, The Bench Jockeys started thinking about how other siblings have performed over the years in the sportsworld and how we would rank them as a sub-group of athletes.

What we discovered was the Harrisons have a long way to go to crack the Top 100, let alone the Top 20 that we have digested and analyzed for your consideration herein.  This was way more difficult to quantify than one would think.  There were  many siblings that did not sniff our list but were remarkable for their achievements.  A few of the particularly noteworthy are highlighted below.

For example, we all know that Jackie Robinson was arguably the best second baseman of all time, but did you know that Jackie’s older brother, Matthew “Mack” Robinson, earned a Silver Medal in the 1936 Olympics in Munich.  He finished 2nd by 0.4 seconds to none other than Jessie Owens.

We knew that we could not ignore the most popular sport on earth – soccer – but the Charlton brothers finished on the outside looking in. Who were they you ask?  Sir Bobby and twin brother, Jack, won the 1966 World Cup for England.  Jack was FWA Footballer of the year in 1967; won 2 Fairs Cups; a league title and FA Cup.  Sir Bobby survived a tragic air crash in Munich in 1958 that killed many of his Manchester United teammates. He went onto play over 600 games for ManU, with a goals per game average of an incredible .328 while hauling in an array of individual honors.

Here’s a fact that might win a few bar bets for you:  Both Marat Safin and his sister, Dinara, are the only brother-sister tandem to achieve a world number 1 pro tennis ranking – Matt in 2000, Dinara in 2009.  We suspect that you might have an inkling about the tennis sibs who did make our Top 20, however.

Lastly, before we move onto our rankings, we considered the array of brothers who played cricket.  The Aussies tout the Chappells of the 1970s, the Zimbabweans love the Flower twins of the 1990s and currently, the Pakistanis queue up to see the Akmals, but none of us are actually smart enough to really understand which are the best sibs – so we left them all off of the list.

And now without further adieu….let the outrage and second-guessing begin.

Sibs Sport
20 Dominique & Gerald Wilkins Basketball
19 Al Joyner & Jackie Joyner-Kersee Track & Field
18 Ronde & Tiki Barber Football
17 Joe & Phil Niekro Baseball
16 Bruce & Clay Matthews Football
15 Michael & Ralf Schumacher F1 racing
14 Dr. Ironfist & Dr. Steelhammer Klitschko Boxing
13 Bobby & Terry Labonte Racing
12 Felipe, Matty & Jesus Rojas (Alou) Baseball
11 Bob & Michael Bryan Tennis
10 Michael & Brian Laudrup Soccer
9 Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich & Ron Sutter Hockey
8 Phil & Steve Mahre Skiing
7 Phil & Tony Esposito Hockey
6 Reggie & Cheryl Miller Basketball
5 Michael & Leon Spinks Boxing
4 Joe, Dom & Vince DiMaggio Baseball
3 Peyton & Eli Manning Football
2 Serena & Venus Williams Tennis
1 Rocket & Henri Richard Hockey

Why the Richards?  Over the 100 year history of the Stanley Cup and professional ice hockey, both Henri and Maurice “Rocket” Richard still both rank within the Top 25 of their sport; with The Rocket securing a spot within the Top 5 all time.  Although one could argue that Serena Williams may be one the five best women’s tennis players in history, and Venus did earn a number 1 ranking in 2002, the fact is, second-fiddle Venus is not as dominant in her sport as the lesser (just slightly lesser) Henri was in his.

We welcome your thoughts…but it won’t change our minds.


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C’mon PGA Tour, release Tiger from this Major Prison

Posted in Professional Sports on August 16th, 2013 by Chris Drayton

flood14[1]You can say what you want, but I just won’t believe it!!   You canNOT tell me that the PGA doesn’t have the “fix” in when it comes to Eldrick “Tiger” Woods and his ability to win Major tournaments!  Why would they do such a thing, you ask?  Simple, to keep the name Jack Nicklaus as the permanent standard bearer for professional golf!  Oh sure, Jack will always be on “Mt. Rushmore “ –  along with Palmer, Player and Trevino – of golf’s modern greats, but Tiger Woods was on pace of obliterating The Golden Bear’s legacy.

Put the stats in perspective.  Let’s start at his ability to just win golf matches.   He will pass the great Sam Snead for most career wins (82) sometime next year because Woods – who is only 37 – is sitting at 79 of them, besting Jack Nicklaus’ career total of 73.  The nearest active player is Read more »

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Magglio Ordonez for Mayor? Not so Fast

Posted in Professional Sports, Sport/Pol Crossover, US Politics on August 9th, 2013 by Ian Paregol

ChavezordonezConsistent with our core mission of bringing together Sports and Politics, The Bench Jockeys noted with keen interest the candidacy of former Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez’s who is presently running for Mayor of the Venezuelan city of Puerto La Cruz.  Like the late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez (pictured on the left), Magglio Ordonez (pictured on the right) is an avowed socialist… maybe Ordonez’s political slant was cultivated while he was playing in Chicago.  Puerto La Cruz boasts a population of almost half a million people and hosts one of the largest refineries in oil-rich Venezuela so this position carries with it quite a bit of responsibility.  Is it really a major league baseball player’s place to be providing leadership to a city like Puerto La Cruz? So that got us wondering about 2 things:

  • 1) Who are the most accomplished political leaders who also played a professional sport? 
  • 2) Should the citizens of Puerto La Cruz decide to elect Ordonez, how have professional athletes performed as political leaders?

First we turn to Issue 1.  For starters, there have been no US Presidents who have also played a professional sport, but Read more »

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Of Chinese Walls and Hahvuhd Yahds

Posted in Professional Sports on August 7th, 2013 by Craig Zuckerman

Screen-Shot-2013-08-02-at-5_29_40-PMWhat on earth is a Chinese Wall?  Yes, it could be the Great Wall of China. But it’s not.  It is a business term, which is defined as an “ethical barrier between divisions of a financial (or other) institution to avoid conflict of interest.” (Investorpedia)

The typical example would be an investment banking firm with multiple lines of business. Perhaps one division is helping a company sell its bonds to the public, and perhaps another division is analyzing its client’s assets, etc.  One division might realize its assets are worth about 20 cents on the dollar, while the other is trying to ream the public by selling the bonds for 97 cents on the dollar. (Any bells going off yet? Think Mortgage Crisis).

Anywho, imagine what would happen if Read more »

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Starting 9

Posted in Professional Sports on August 4th, 2013 by Ian Paregol


These days everyone is writing a Bucket List.  I wrote my list back in 1999 and one of the items I included was a autographed baseball from the 9 baseball players who I thought were the best n their respective positions.  As with everything I do, I had rules: 1) The signatures have to be on a official major league baseball – no commemoratives, autosigned, HOF or gimmicky balls; 2) all balls have to present with only the player’s autograph, no multisigned balls; and 3) the signature has to be authentic and 4) it has to be a clean and visible signature.

My list of players was developed by Read more »

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Apparently, it isn’t Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Posted in Professional Sports on October 3rd, 2011 by Brittany Lynn

October 2, 2011… It should have been an amazing day in Philadelphia:  two major sporting events where Phans had the chance to revel in the excitement of their sports teams.  In the afternoon, the “Dream Team” Eagles dominated the Niners for the majority of their game.  Up 23-3 midway through the 3rd quarter, they imploded, losing 24-23.  Same scenario later that evening in the NLDS as the Phils held a 4-zip in the 4th only to lose 5-4 to the Cards.  The first pitch of the game was hit into right field for a triple.   Amazingly, Cliff Lee got out of the inning unscathed, but perhaps the Phaithful should have realized at that moment that they might not be smiling when the clock struck midnight.

Two things that irritated me: 1) Tony LaRussa (who I respect for his years of baseball experience and knowledge) took a shot at the umpire’s strike zone disparities. Strike Zones for both teams were questionable all game, but it’s low to go on national television and whine about it.  Charlie Manuel in his post-game interview said, “I’m not blaming the umpire, they outplayed us on the field.” EXACTLY.  If the umpire gives you a smaller strike zone, then you have to play better defense and also actually hit the ball.  2) Swinging at the first pitch:  Did the Phils not learn from the prior night’s experience (an 11-run rout) that swinging at the first pitch (and causing an inevitable out) yielded nothing?  Swinging at the first pitch rarely gets you a hit and especially in the Playoffs when adrenaline might be running a little higher than usual causing you to hit a quick pop-up or ground out to second base.  

Weather forecast for St. Louis on Tuesday for Game 3….a sunny 77 degrees with no chance of rain.  We’ll see…

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NFL SB XLVI Predictions

Posted in Chazerai, Professional Sports on September 8th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

The crack staff at The Bench Jockeys are throwing their two cents in with the array of other soothsayers as the NFL season begins tonight on hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field.  Three of us think the game tonight will feature at least one of the teams who will be raising the Lombardi Trophy in February.  Go on record and send us a message with your predictions.

Brittany Eagles over Patriots
Spounder Patriots over Packers
Zuckerman Saints over Chargers
Paregol Packers over Ravens
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The Greatest Show on Court: US Open Tennis Championships

Posted in Professional Sports on September 3rd, 2011 by Ian Paregol

While I am not a New Yorker and therefore do not have the usual parochial slant which favors all things that originate in the Big Apple, I can confidently state that the US Open Tennis Championship is without question the most well-run sporting event on the planet.  In attending courtside action on Day 3 and Day 4, I viewed the dominating power demonstrated by an array of the world’s best players as well as inspired play by up and coming professionals during first two rounds of the tournament.  Among the dozens of exceptional matches I watched in part or en toto, I was able to see:

  • A gritty, 19 year-old American, Christina McHale (daughter of Celts legend, Kevin) outhustle French jumping-bean, Marion Bartoli (ranked #9 in the world);
  • Prohibitive underdog,  #455 Madison Keys jump all over 26th ranked Lucie Safarova in a first set filled with jaw dropping passing shots only to succumb to experience 6-3  5-7 4-6;
  • An outstanding 1st Round match-up between power-serving American, John Isner, and international fan-favorite Marcos Baghdatis of Cypress battle through four sets, two of which resulted in tiebreakers; and
  • Super-giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic crush world-ranked #13 & single-handed back-hand expert, Richard Gasquet “like bug.”

I was also treated to the dominant play of Sharapova, Roddick, Federer and Williams, however the most entertaining match of the Open thus far has been Read more »

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All-Star Game or Selig’s Folly

Posted in Professional Sports on July 3rd, 2011 by Ian Paregol

On Sunday July 3rd, roster selections were announced for the Major League All-Star Game which will be played in Phoenix on June 12th. The Process:  Fan Balloting establishes the 8 positional starters for both the American League and the National League teams, including the DH on the AL squad.  Player voting accounts for an additional 16 players on each team (5 starting pitchers, 3 relievers and 8 positional back-ups).  World Series Managers, Ron Washington and Bruce Bochy, fill out their respective 34-man rosters with an additional 8 position players ensuring that each team in the league has at least one representative on the All-Star Team.  Finally, the fans vote on one additional player, the 34th, from a list of five nominations from each league.

Until 2002, the All-Star Game had no impact on the MLB post-season.  It was purely an exhibition game where fans could simply enjoy a game that featured the league’s best players all on the same field, but in 2003 current baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, mutated the Mid-summer Classic from Read more »

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US Open Recap from The Bench

Posted in Chazerai, Professional Sports on June 22nd, 2011 by Ian Paregol

After seven straight days of chasing down golfers for autographs with my son, Evan; hiking the course to follow different pairings; and posting scores on the an array of leaderboards as a volunteer at the US Open, I felt compelled to write a bit about the US Open experience at Congressional and offer my first-hand observations.

The hot topic at the Open was not Rory, it was transportation.  Transportation to and from Congressional was a nightmare.  The average Joe who parked in the cross-county fairgrounds and weathered 45 minute bus rides to and from the course only to be greeted with an additional 20 minute hump to the clubhouse from the bus drop-off location expressed nothing but contempt for the grounds access system and the second class citizen feel of the general admission.   Even with the preferred parking, Read more »

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Title Town?

Posted in Chazerai, Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on June 17th, 2011 by Craig Zuckerman

After watching the Bruins make mincemeat out of the heavily favored Canucks on Wednesday, my neighbor Brad mentioned that within the last 10 years, 7 Boston teams have won Championships (2002, 2003, 2005 Pats; 2008 Celtics; 2004, 2007 Red Sox; and now 2011 Bruins).  Pree-tee, Pree-tee good.  That of course, threw me into research mode.  New York, from 1991-2000 won 8 ( 1994 Rangers; 1995, 2000  Devils (New York annexed exit 16 W), 1991 Football New York Giants; and 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 New York Yankees).

On the golf course today, though, Burg pointed out that all four Boston teams won championships within 7 years.  New York’s best would be 11 (J-E-T-S 1969; Knickerbockers 1973; Yanks 1977; and Islanders 1980).

Gotta say, my hat is off to Bah-stan.

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Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on June 14th, 2011 by Craig Zuckerman

What’s better than Game 7?  There are 7 days in a week, 7 chakras, 7 days of Passover, 7 wonders of the world, 7 deadly sins, 7 musical notes in a scale, 7 brides for 7 brothers, 7 continents, 7 colors in the rainbow.  In the NHL, there have been 15 Game 7’s in the Finals.  The NBA has had 17 Game 7’s in the Finals, and Baseball has had 35.  The Mick wore number 7, as did John Elway, George Halas, Joe Theisman (ouch), Pistol Pete Marivich, and of course Phil Esposito and Ray Borque.  Currently, Danica Patrick, Joe Mauer, Jose Reyes, Ben Rothlesberger and Michael Vick all don 7.

In a best of 7 series, Game 7 is IT.  Do or die, win or lose.   There is no tomorrow.  Lots of clichés.  The level of intensity in a Game 7 is unparalleled.  The Curse of the Billy Goat for the Cubbies originated in Game 7 of the 1945 World Series.  The Brooklyn Dodgers won their only Championship in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series.  Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in the 1960 World Series to propel the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Yankees.  Aaron “bleeping” Boone hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to complete the Yanks come from behind victory.  The Red Sox returned the favor in 2004 in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS to complete one of the greatest comebacks ever.

In golf parlance, scoring a 7 is also known as the dreaded Hockey Stick.  Let’s hope this Game 7 between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins is an oxymoronic Instant Classic.

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US Open Pairings for Thursday and Friday’s Rounds

Posted in Chazerai, Professional Sports on June 12th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

The Pairings for the first two rounds of play at the US Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Maryland have been posted and there are quite a few alluring threesomes.  Undoubtedly, purposeful player selections have been made by the USGA for the Open which will be without its top spectator draw, Tiger Woods – out with an Achilles injury.  Wasn’t it Achilles who was invulnerable to any weakness except an injury to his heel which was held by his mother, Thetis, as she dipped him into the river Styx to make him immortal?  Clearly, there are other parallels and some alternative body part references which unite this Greek myth to the post-modern allegory of Tiger Woods, but I digress…

As is the custom with the Open, “super pairings” are sprinkled about the 156-man playing field to create buzz, keep spectator traffic under control, ease operational needs for televised coverage, and of course, to prove to golf fans just how very clever the USGA pairing committee really is.  Although lacking an American presence, the marquee grouping of Read more »

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Bryce Harper Can Kiss My….

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on June 8th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

June 8, 2011 – On Monday June 6th, the Chosen One, Bryce Harper, who was selected #1 overall in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft by the Washington Nationals showed the Greensboro Grasshoppers and the rest of baseball fandom why he will be staying at Class A Hagerstown for the 2011 season. Although The Can’t Miss Kid is feasting on low Class A pitching, hitting .342 with 14 dingers and 42 RBI, he has struck out in over 20% of his at bats. But the Ks are not the reason he is being coddled; he is being held back because Read more »

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Final Turn of Events

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on May 30th, 2011 by Brittany Lynn
Two big races take place on Memorial Day Weekend – The Indy 500 and The Coca Cola 600.  Generally, open-wheel racing and stock car racing are very different sports, but Sunday, both races ended in similar fashion: the leader was well ahead of the competition – could all but taste victory – but couldn’t cross the finish line first.  In the Indy 500, the leader rookie driver JR Hildebrand crashed into the wall right on the final turn just before the finish line, allowing Dan Wheldon to pass him and cross the finish line first.  Wheldon lead the Indy 500 for only 825 feet, but it was the last 825 feet.  And that’s what counts.

Down in Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, after four time champion Jimmie Johnson blew his engine with four laps to go, a few extra laps were added to the race.  Avid race fans will tell you that adding laps adds excitement and a lot of fuel saving frustration.  On the restart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. – who hasn’t won a race in 105 starts – was poised to finally break his losing streak.  With two laps to go, Junior pulled out to a comfortable lead, leaving the ten cars remaining on the lead lap in his dust.  On the Final Lap, it was Junior’s to win, through the first two turns he was on fire, uncatchable.  The crowd was on their feet, even people who don’t normally cheer for him were shouting his name.  In the final turn of the last lap, with the finish line in his view, his car RAN OUT OF GAS…. he coasted across the line in 7th position, losing the victory to Kevin Harvick.

And that’s racing.  You spend four hours watching a race and it all comes down to the last turn.

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One Man’s Junk…

Posted in Professional Sports on May 22nd, 2011 by Ian Paregol

For over a decade now, Japan has required manufacturers, retailers and citizens to adhere to its Home Appliances Recycling Law that mandates that large appliances such as air conditioners, televisions, washing machines/dryers and refrigerators must be recycled and not simply thrown in the trash.  Consumers are responsible for the transfer of used appliances to one of 46 recycle sites throughout the country and must pay fees to the original retailers which in turn pays a fee to the manufacturers who then must either recycle the appliances into future products or strive to eliminate the footprint of the product.  Each appliance carries an allocated recycling fee of between $20 and $40 US dollars for the consumer, while the retailer and manufacturer incur process costs.  Recycling actually occurs in Japan and an entire industry of disassembly workers was developed.  As my old boss, The Duke, used to say, Read more »

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Waiting for Goodell

Posted in Professional Sports on May 21st, 2011 by Spounder

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, has been using his idle time to reach out to NFL Season Ticket Holders to offer his support and assurances during this period of uncertainty.  I have not received my call yet, but I am certain it is coming any day.  Roger recently told a Pittsburgh Steelers Season Ticket holder that he is confident that there will be a full 2011 season played.  In the unlikely event that the work stoppage seeps into the Fall, his goal is that there will be a Superbowl.  That technically gives him until February 5th, 2012 to get a deal done to save the 2011 season.  No wonder he has plenty of time to reach out and touch us with his wisdom.

NFL Season Ticket holders are being assured that they will receive 1% on their money if any games are not played.  Wow, that’s reassuring.  If we have to miss an entire year of football, my $3500 investment in my team will be Read more »

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Be Careful What You Wish, Commish

Posted in Professional Sports, The Quick Hook on May 14th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Gary Bettman cannot be too thrilled about the looming pairings for the Stanley Cup finals. In the East, Gary better be wearing his Bruins underoos as the puck drops on Boston-Tampa Bay series on Saturday, May 14th. Boston is the only team from the original six and the only large market team left in the Conference Finals. Although the Lightning have a couple players with some fire-power in Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, the Florida market for hockey is one of the leagues weakest – the Lightning and the Panthers round out two of the NHL’s five lowest rated fan bases. The fans in San Jose seem to care about the Sharks, but  Read more »

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The King James Curse….Just Like We Told Ya

Posted in Professional Sports on May 11th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Well, we have earned another ‘Pat (Riley) on the back.’  Over a month ago – on April 9th to be exact – with a handful of games left in the regular season, The Bench Jockeys guaranteed a Celtics-Heat post-season match-up and we told you it would not end well for the Celts.  We surmised that the newly-inked Unholy Alliance between the Fenway Sports Group and LeBron James was an affront to everything Boston and would result in chaos in the streets of the North End and on Landsdowne.  We even suggested that ol’ 33 would have been a more appropriate partner for the FSG venture and questioned the wisdom of such a union, ripe with such frightful potentialities for the Boston faithful.  We even told you how it would end… a Read more »

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