Graduation Speech 2014

Warning: This has nothing to do with sports!

This is a momentary digression from my sports journalism aspirations and a lapse into my personal life. I gave the welcome speech at my graduation for Coe-Brown Northwood Academy’s Class of 2014. Here is the text from that:

 

Good evening everyone, and welcome to Coe-Brown Northwood Academy for the graduation of the class of 2014. I’m betting some of you in the crowd this evening had to use a GPS or MapQuest to get here tonight. They’re awesome, right? It’s just so simple. You plug in point A and the desired point B and voila: different routes appear and you select the one you want. It tells you where to go and how best to get there with turn-by-turn directions.

Directions; something high school students know a bit about. Except high school is nothing like a GPS. No two graduates in front of you started at the same point A, not one of us was able to drive straight through without getting lost at least once, and there were no turn-by-turn directions. We had to make our own maps.

Coe-Brown helped us in crafting those maps: we always confronted challenges and learned lessons which extend beyond the classroom. We were present and attentive. We turned up for state testing, turned up for senior exit interviews, turned up for Graduation. You may ask, this class ‘Turns down for what?’. My answer to you would be: we turn down for nothing.

You have to be your own person, like when I wear my salmon suede shoes.They are too big for my feet and one day, while running to class to avoid a tardy, I tripped over them and fell into the classroom. I landed in a crumpled heap. I learned to laugh – along with my beloved classmates – at myself. However, one of my friends had turned his head and missed it. High school is like that. Working may complete tasks, but focusing too much on one thing can cause you to miss opportunities to laugh with good friends.

But sometimes missing things doesn’t just happen in an instant, it may happen every day.

Like these words: “millions of our years in minutes disappear.” They are painted on a mural which hangs in our tunnel. Even though every Coe-Brown student uses that tunnel, few stop to look up because they’re texting, talking to friends, or listening to music. I didn’t notice the quote was there until last week when I paused, realizing I’d never read them in my four years here. When I did read it, I saw the source to be one J. Hetfield. Investigating further, I found him neither a Greek philosopher nor a transcendentalist poet. I found James Hetfield – lyricist and lead singer for Metallica. I didn’t expect that. It’s like sitting down with a classmate you’ve never really talked to and having a conversation. There are people in this crowd who will surprise you with stories of valor or intrigue or heartbreak.

“Millions of our years in minutes disappear,” Hetfield sings. On nights with a difficult assignment, high school may have seemed like a million years, but as we sit here it seemed mere minutes for the sand to fall through the hourglass.

“Anything worth doing is hard work.” My father always tells me this. The diploma we will receive is more than a piece of paper. For some, it means access to college. For others, it is a last bit of schoolwork to show an employer;but for all, the diploma is a culmination of hard work. And while it will all be worth it to walk out the doors behind me, it will also be difficult; it will be the hard work of saying good bye. As we leave here tonight, we wish farewell to the people with whom we’ve created indelibly fond memories. We say goodbye to family.

As I talk about the end of this ceremony before it’s truly begun, I remember its human nature to focus on the next thing. But while we are here, fellow graduates, let us linger for just tonight. Pause. Stop thinking about the party after this, or summer vacation, or plans for the fall. Let the future be the future. Relish in the now. This moment should be fully lived. Though none of us began at the same point A, though none of us took the same route to get here, let us all finish walking across this stage together. Let us all finish at the same point B.

Purely For Sport Expands

Dear Internet,

I am excited to – once again – announce an exciting new opportunity for the syndicated network of “Purely For Sport”!

This Thursday will be the premiere of the PFS Podcast. This podcasting will run on a weekly basis and will publish on Thursdays. They will be in three varieties. A guest will either be on for one hour, 30 minutes or there will be two guests on for 30 minutes a piece.

It thrills me to inform you that Kyle Stevens – my lifelong friend to whom I am indebted for introducing me to baseball – will be joining me for the first-ever episode. We will be talking New England sports for 30 minutes and movies for 30 minutes. Don’t worry though, the pod won’t be inundated with New England sports. I have a host of guests lined up including two colleagues Alexander Flum (Washington, DC) and Curt Hogg (Wisconsin).

This, to some, may seem like a rip-off of The BS Report podcast by Bill Simmons. To those some, they would be right.

I love Simmons’ podcast and in my hopes to further my career options, I am trying out this pod business with guests that I can get on the show. Someone says something about emulation being the best form of flattery.

To download the podcast you can search “Purely For Sport” on iTunes or podgallery.com.

This podcast comes in addition to my appearances on YouTube show Sports Compass, podcast NFL Rundown, and my writing here, at Purely For Sport. You can listen to me, read me, watch me. That’s scary. Especially the watch part.

To venture into this project is something new and intriguing. I hope you’ll stick with me as I continue to explore the avenues of my future career.

Sincerely,

Sam Fortier

For the Love of the Game

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves isn’t demanding a trade, he’s merely suggesting to the team that if they don’t trade him, he’s a lock to walk after this season.

Hm. Sounds like a skilfull way to handle a situation that Dwight Howard bungled on multiple occasions.

Anyway, no one can blame the guy because the Timberwolves are a franchise known for their losing. Love isn’t even the first Kevin to want to escape the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Garnett was traded in 2007.

Love is an incredible force on the court and, at a spry 25-years old, he can demand a lot. This season his set a Minnesota single-season record with 1,991, breaking Kevin Garnett’s mark of 1,987 (2003-04).

Love rebounds on both ends of the floor, plays a quick game while also demanding face-up attention and can shoot from the perimeter. Add up all that with the fact that he’s a decent defender makes the sum of really, really good basketball player.

As Kevin Love has mentioned to the T’Wolves that he won’t be coming back, both sides need to rush to an agreement. The superstar’s status is hurting Minnesota’s search for a new Head Coach and it’s hurting Love’s happiness with the team. (An unhappy player doesn’t hustle as hard.)

The premium destinations that are being bandied about are Boston, Golden State, and Chicago.

Sending Love to Boston would make them a playoff team, but nowhere near the championship-contending level that Love desires. Plus, even if Boston sends Minnesota its lottery pick, there are no guarantees they could use it correctly. In the haul-for-Garnett swap, Minnesota used Boston’s pick to select Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry. If you don’t know basketball, it’s like eating a French fry out a trash can when you could’ve gone in and ordered fries for one dollar.

Golden State is intriguing because they play a fast, run-and-gun offense with the Splash Bros., Mr. Curry and Mr. Klay Thompson. The reason this won’t work is because Love isn’t the defensive stalwart that Golden State keeps looking for – and the one that they need. Andrew Bogut will never spend an entire season healthy and Andre Iguodala hasn’t materialized. They still are left short on the defensive side of the court and they aren’t the best offensively-fire-powered team in the league because of the Clippers.

The best possible fit would be the Chicago Bulls. Both Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson are advancing in years and they are unable to continue their pace of playing 25-30 minutes per night. I won’t even mention the Derrick Rose factor because he’s less reliable than, well, Congress passing a budget on time. If Jimmy Butler can make strides like he’s supposed to, he can man the three while Corey Brewer, Kirk Hinrich, and DJ Augustin make up the rest of the backcourt. Also, Chicago can’t endure another season like it just went through and firepower will be added this offseason. (The name Carmelo has been tossed around.)

But, I have yet to mention the best reason why Kevin Love to Chicago must happen. JOAKIM NOAH. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is the defensively-minded version of Kevin Love. They’re both great passers, both great rebounders, but Noah’s defensive prowess allows for Kevin Love to stop trying to play every position – like he does with Minnesota – and focus on being a prime producer of points. Love plays now with Pekovic – who’s a poor man’s Noah. Tom Thibodeau leading a team with a backcourt of Kevin Love, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler should terrify the rest of the league because that means the Chicago Bulls will have capitalized on the market, stealing two of the four best forwards in the league and putting them on the same team in a league where big men are a rare asset.

So please, Minnesota, send Kevin Love to Chicago. Please, like their offer.

Sincerely, every basketball fan.

Disregard everything that man said above, it’s too dangerous.

Sincerely, all 29 other NBA franchises. 

A Guide to the NHL Awards

Ah, it’s that time of year. Baseball is in swing, the NFL draft just went down and the playoffs are providing nightly excitement between the NBA and NHL. There are only two downsides to this time of year: one, it has to end; two, confusion arises.

Why does confusion arise? Because of the NHL award system. Their awards, named after legendary figures both on and off the ice, are handed out each year with confusing titles. Instead of the MVP Award as in most other sports, it’s the Hart Trophy.

To help you keep your awards straight and who’s in the running for them, here’s an explanatory guide through the NHL awards:

Name of Award (Year of Creation)

  • Description

o   Finalists for 2014 Award

Team Awards:

Prince of Wales Trophy (1925)

  • Awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champion

o   Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadians, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (1968)

  • Awarded to the Western Conference playoff champion

o   Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings

Stanley Cup (1893)

  • Awarded to the NHL playoff champion

o   Combination of finalists from Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy

Presidents’ Trophy (1986)

  • Awarded to the club finishing the regular season with the best overall record based on points

o   Boston Bruins (2013-14 Winner)

 

Individual Awards:

Hart Memorial Trophy (1924)

  • Most Valuable Player

o   Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

o   Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

o   Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1925)

  • Player who exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability

o   Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

o   Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche

o   Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers

Vezina Trophy (1927)

  • Best Goalie

o   Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche

o   Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

o   Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Calder Memorial Trophy (1937)

  • Rookie of the Year

o   Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

o   Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

o   Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

Art Ross Trophy (1948)

  • League leader in total points

o   Sidney Crosby (2013-14 Winner)

James Norris Memorial Trophy (1954)

  • Best All-Around Defenseman

o   Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

o   Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

o   Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Conn Smythe Trophy (1965)

  • Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs

o   Undetermined until playoffs conclude

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (1968)

  • Perseverance, Sportsmanship, and Dedication to Hockey

o   Jaromir Jágr, New Jersey Devils

o   Manny Malhotra, Carolina Hurricanes

o   Dominic Moore, New York Rangers

Ted Lindsay Award (1971) – Previously referred to as Lester B. Pearson Award (1971-2009)

  • NHL’s Most Outstanding Player voted by Players Association

o   Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

o   Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

o   Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

o   This group looks familiar? They’re the same nominees for the Hart Trophy.

Jack Adams Award (1974)

  • Coach of the Year Award

o   Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche

o   Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings

o   Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning

Frank J. Selke Trophy (1978)

  • Best defensive-minded Forward

o   Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

o   Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

o   Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

William M. Jennings Trophy (1982)

  • Goalkeeper having played a minimum of 25 games and with the fewest goals scored against
  • Can be multiple winners

o   Jonathan Quick (2013-14 Winner)

King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1988)

  • Leadership Award and Noteworthy Humanitarian Contribution

o   No finalists picked

NHL Foundation Player Award (1998)

  • Uses core values of hockey to enrich the lives of others

o   Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

o   Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

o   Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy (1999)

  • Top Goal Scorer

o   Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (2013-14 Winner)

Mark Messier Leadership Award (2007)

  • Exemplifies Leadership qualities on and off the ice

o   Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings

o   Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

o   Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

NHL General Manager of the Year

  • Top National Hockey League General Manager

o   List unavailable – Voting unfinished

 

Now-Defunct Awards:

O’Brien (1910-1950)

  • Stanley Cup Runner-Up

NHL Plus-Minus Award (1983-2008)

  • Player with the highest plus-minus statistic

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award (2000-2007)

  • Awarded to Goalie who played at least 25 games who has highest save percentage

The Woody Allen Line

Woody Allen is known for witty one liners, but here’s a line even he wouldn’t have predicted: a baseball statistic.

Named in his honor, the statistic springs from his one-liner that, “80-percent of life is showing up.”

The statistic may someday become as popularized as the Mendoza Line. That stat came from Mario Mendoza, a light-hitting Shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. It stands for the batting average of .200 which, if a batter should fall below that mark at the plate, means that – regardless of defensive prowess – the hitter does not belong in Major League Baseball.

So I introduce to you: the “Woody Allen Line”!

It means that if a player has played 80% or more of his team’s games that year, he is above the Woody Allen line. In a 162-game season, that correlates to 130 games. Having a player play 130 of 162 games means the player is valuable to the team and can resist the wear and tear that a MLB schedule puts on its players.

Of the 1,051 players to don a MLB uniform and head out on the diamond last year, only four players had a perfect season of 1.000 Allen. They were Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto, San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence, Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler, and Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder. All four of those players are very good at their jobs in baseball, so the team receiving their services are spending money well – getting all these games played back for their buck. Pence’s achievement is particularly notable because he’s the only player of that group who plays a position other than First Base.

In the days of Tommy John and nagging injuries and over-cautious behavior, this is a remarkable achievement. For the local connection, Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox played 160 games, ending the season with a .988 Allen.

The days of Iron Men like Cal Ripken, Jr. – 17 straight seasons of playing every day – are over. Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers holds the current record, at 505. Woody Allen would’ve loved these two guys.

By the way, a special shout-out to David Ortiz, who still has a phenomenal .842 Allen Line, even while his teammates from the ’04 Sox are eating at their desk in the broadcast booth.

The days of platoons, simple rest and healing banged-up injuries are upon MLB, but there’s still value in the “Allen Line.”