Andy Kirkaldy: On Pats, field hockey & more

In honor of what still may still lurk from Thanksgiving in our refrigerators, some leftover sports thoughts:
•  It remains a better question to ask how have the New England Patriots managed to have winning seasons every year since 2004, not why have they not won another Super Bowl. The Patriots have been the best team overall in the NFL in that time frame despite being upset in two Super Bowls.
•  Similarly, it is better to ask how the Middlebury College field hockey team has earned berths in 12 straight NCAA Division III tournaments while playing in the nation’s most competitive league, not why the team has not won a championship in those tournaments.
•  Back to the Patriots, specifically quarterback Tom Brady. Here are two sets of statistics, one for Brady’s career for games played in domes, and one for Denver QB Peyton Manning’s career games played in domes. (Of course, Manning has played almost half of his games in a dome in Indianapolis, while Brady has performed outdoors in New England falls.)
QB No. 1: 66.16 percent completion rate, 7.8 yards per attempt, 6.1 percent of passes for touchdowns, 2.4 percent of passes intercepted, 99.72 QB rating.
QB No. 2: 67.4 percent completion rate, 8.64 yards per attempt, 6.9 percent of passes for touchdowns, 2.62 percent of passes intercepted, 106.42 QB rating.
Those facts are courtesy of a coldhardfootballfacts.com piece titled “No Debate: Facts Show Tom Brady Better Than Peyton Manning.”
Yes, QB No. 2 is Brady, and the article in many ways makes a convincing case for his superiority. Well worth a read for Pats backers and objective football fans.
•  A return to field hockey: Of all the high school sports locally and around the state that produce college athletes, that has to be No. 1.
Just among area college freshmen this year, Mount Abraham graduate Sam Reiss starts on defense for Bates; Otter Valley’s Brittany Bushey (eight goals as a forward) and Mount Abe’s Madi Wood, a midfielder, both play for Endicott; Middlebury’s Paige Viens picked up two goals and an assist for Colby-Sawyer (where former Eagle Ariana Perlee is a sophomore defender); and Kiera Kirkaldy plays midfield for Simmons, which made the NCAA tournament this fall.
Collectively, those six have another half-dozen teammates from Vermont high schools just at those four schools, and they competed against many other Vermonters on the way: Mount Mansfield’s Liz Znamierowski played for NCAA finalist and Bates rival Bowdoin, and Woodstock’s Emma Astbury played goalie for Simmons’ league foe St. Joseph’s of Maine.
Oh, and Castleton senior and OV graduate Kristy Pinkham was the North Atlantic Conference Field Hockey Player of the Year. And 10 of her teammates were Vermonters.
•  Russell Martin is a soon-to-be 32-year-old good defensive catcher with a career batting average of .259 and otherwise modest offensive production.
He also signed a five-year, $82 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on Nov. 17.
That $95 million the Sox spent on Pablo Sandoval (28 years old) and at least $88 million on Hanley Ramirez (31) doesn’t look that bad in comparison.
Of course, the annual income of any of those guys would fund most or all of the roughly $19 million a year its costs to operate all four Addison Northwest Supervisory Union schools, but welcome to America.
•  Finally, in honor of last week’s holiday storm, an anecdote from 1989. Before my in-laws moved to Barre, my father-in-law Jack was the superintendent of schools in Cheshire, Conn. Kristine and I would swing by there for major holidays, including Thanksgiving. In 1989, a major Thanksgiving Day snowstorm dumped somewhere between six and 10 inches in southern New England.
The question for Jack was what to do about Cheshire’s home rivalry football game vs. North Haven. I joined Jack in his pickup and we drove the mile or so to the high school to meet the coach, who was supervising shoveling players. Jack — known as “Yukon Jack” for his reluctance to call off school due to snow — and the coach talked it over. Shoveling wasn’t cutting it as the storm got worse. Jack said it looked like he had to postpone it until Saturday.
Wait, the coach said (with a straight face), why don’t we call in a helicopter and blow the snow off the field?
Jack remained calm. But somehow he wasn’t persuaded about the practicality of that plan. The game can wait a couple days, he told the coach.
That coach later went on to become an assistant at Syracuse University, and still later took over the head job at Temple. A couple weeks ago, his latest team really should have beaten Florida State.
That’s right, it was Steve Addazio, now the head coach at Boston College. 

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