Thursday, December 29, 2005

AT-BATS, PATS, AND ALL OF THAT

The Holiday season allows for no let-up whatsoever in the insular galaxy of Boston Sports. The Red Sox make news for simply being the Red Sox; the Patriots stir up controversy with local writers jumping to attack the Genius; the Celtics go out west on one of those road trips that show will show whether or not this team can bond and put together a decent run at some point; and the Bruins actually won a game this month!

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PUT ME IN COACH
I’M READY TO PLAY (clap, clap) TODAY
LOOK AT ME
I CAN BE
CENTERFIELD:


The Red Sox still rule the airwaves with all the attention on what will happen next with the roster. Fans are getting restless as the Blue Jays and the Yankees continue throwing mad amounts of money around at overpriced veterans (The Blue Jays trading Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista for Troy Glaus? The Yankees throwing $6 million a year at Kyle Farnsworth? What, did the Yankees look at Farnsworth and say: Hey, he choked in the playoffs big time last year. What a perfect fit! This guy is already a true Yankee just like our boy A-Rod!) Apparently, the Red Sox are ruined because they have no center fielder around anymore. Sure, a scroll through my archives on the site here will show that I have never been a big Johnny Damon fan, having long thought him grossly overpaid, and that his recent rock-star attitude and appearance were incredibly transparent.

So who plays centerfield for the Red Sox in 2006? Well, here are a few suspects I have rounded up:

Eric Byrnes:
The former Oakland Athletic is available as a free agent and is cheap, in comparison to the crazy contracts being thrown around, and would like endear himself immediately to the Fenway Faithful. Byrnes, who plays like his flaming red hair is actually on fire, is a hustler and is an above-average fielder. While not a hitter like Damon, Byrnes is more than serviceable in center field. For the price (probably a 2 year deal for $5 to $8 million would be plenty), it is crazy not to bring in the jolt of electricity that Byrnes provides a team.

Corey Patterson: I doubt it would take much of an offer to pry the underachieving former can’t-miss prospect from the Cubbies. Patterson has the skills to pay the bills, but has withered under the Ivy expectations. Maybe replacing Johnny Damon would be too much pressure for him, but I would take a waiver on Patterson simply because of all the tools he has at his disposal. Maybe a spot at the bottom of the order, watching Manny Ramirez get ready for a game (on offense at least), being taken in by Big Papi, and a lot of time with Papa Jack in the batting cage would land us a future star for a couple of low-level prospects.

Preston Wilson: I know, I know, I know: 148 strikeouts last season. But he can catch the ball and mash it too. Last year he had a .782 OBPS to go with a .260 batting average and 90 RBIs. Like Byrnes, I doubt the Sox would have to break the bank to get Wilson. Hitting in Fenway for 81 games, Wilson could put up stats on par with his 2003 season at Coors Field in Denver for the Rockies. Wilson is not a kid anymore, but he is another guy with just too much talent to waste. Maybe Boston is a place he can get back on track.

I would think the Sox can trade for or sign all three of these guys for less money than what the Yankees are paying Johnny Damon. They can have Byrnes, Patterson, and Wilson shore up the outfield depth, which would allow them to try to unload perpetual underachiever Trot Nixon (wait, THIS may be the year he is healthy and fulfils his potential at last!) for another young arm to add to their arsenal.

Then, first base can be manned by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz (keeping the big guy happy by letting him play more in the field), keep Alex not Joey Cora at shortstop (and maybe bring in Pokey Reese), have Andy Marte be the full time DH and spell Mike Lowell at 3B, and the Sox would then have a dynamite and balanced line-up to go along with the second or third best pitching staff in the AL (Chicago is obviously #1 with the Angels nipping at their heels). For depth, sure, grab a J.T. Snow. Whatever. Grab Pokey Reese to play shortstop and back-up at second base. Then, Graff can be the super-sub and Tito can stick him in the outfield, second-base, shortstop, third, first, whatever.

To be frank, as long as the Sox have Ortiz & Ramirez at 3 &4 in the lineup, the potential is there for scoring 900 to 1,000 runs. This is how I see the potential regular line-ups:

Kevin Youkilis – 1B
Mark Loretta – 2B
David Ortiz – DH
Manny Ramirez – LF
Mike Lowell – 3B
Preston Wilson – RF
Jason Varitek – C
Eric Byrnes/Corey Patterson - CF
Alex Cora – SS

AND/OR

Corey Patterson/Eric Byrnes – CF
Mark Loretta – 2B
David Ortiz – 1B
Manny Ramirez – LF
Mike Lowell – 3B
Preston Wilson – RF
Jason Varitek – C
Andy Marte – DH
Alex Cora – SS

AND/OR

Corey Patterson– CF
Eric Byrnes - RF
David Ortiz – DH
Manny Ramirez – LF
J.T. Snow – 1B
Jason Varitek – C
Andy Marte – 3B
Tony Graffanino – 2B
Pokey Reese – SS

To me, those line-ups are just as good if not better than the 2003, 2004, or 2005 line-ups the Sox trotted out and won at least 90 games with each season. Somewhere, somehow Red Sox Nation has got it in their heads that change is a bad thing. In this liberal hotbed of Boston, I feel confident that I can state that teams need to evolve. Evolution of a team is a natural thing. Survival of the fittest is the way the team needs to be assembled. Young and hungry is a trait that is a necessity for any team. The Sox are not rebuilding, they are reloading. And they are doing it by getting some players with upside, rather than players

* * *

JESTS:

Ahh, another day, another media contingent taking pot shots at Bill Belichick. This time, the media is lining up to take shots at Belichick for daring to put starting defensive players on special teams. Yes, Bill Belichick is apparently a moron, idiot, out-of-touch, stubborn, and or stupid for making football players play football. Yes, one of the few coaches who dares to make special teams part of the game plan rather than a place to get all those scrubs on the field for a few seconds.

Of course, who could forget the role of special team sin the 2001 march to the Super Bowl? All-Pro wide receiver Troy Brown scooping up a blocked field goal and rumbling downfield before lateralling the ball to Antwan Harris who took it to the house to nail the door shut against Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship? Sure, injuries happen. They happen all the time to all players doing what they do on the field. Knowing and preparing for that is what makes the Patriots able to be 10-5 and in the playoffs with their injury problems while Happy Herm and the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS flounder along with three wins desperately hoping for a top five draft pick this year (which, let me remind one and all, is the year the Jets were to make their move and challenge the Patriots for dominance in the AFC East. Remember Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News picking the Jets to make the Super Bowl? Vinnie also wrote to draft Larry Fitzgerald as a sleeper pick at WR which I did so he gets off the hook since I am in the championship game this weekend).

So do not criticize Belichick for playing starters on special teams or for having linemen and linebackers on offense in goal-line situations (anyone think Belichick does not checks out BC games and smiles when the Eagles are in First-and-Toal situations?). The Patriots play as a team, and the veteran starters are the ones who need to set that tone. They do, by doling what is asked of them without complaint. That is why it works for the Patriots and not for the other 31 teams. Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, and Troy Brown are the difference. A balance between a coach who asks more from his team and at team with character guys who step up and lead by example for everyone else.

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MY FANTASIES:

Mentioning Vinnie Iyer got me on the subject of my frustrating fantasy football team. After a hot start, my team was beset by bad luck and/or injuries and limped into the playoffs. However, as I have Matt Hasselback and Shawn Alexander on the team, I have been able to ride the Seattle wave down the stretch. Of course, now that I am in the championship game, I find out that Mike Holmgren is planning to rest the starters and only have them play a few series. Great. Now I get to play Eli Manning and Jamal Lewis in their place. My other stud running backs? Ha! I drafted Deuce McAllister. Nuff said. Of course, I also have the Cadillac, who I expect to put up some primo points this weekend, in addition to my big three wide receivers who are all playing for personal stats (100 receptions, 1,400 yards, double-digit touchdowns, etc) and should be begging for the ball in the huddle: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Torry Holt.

The best news for me is that the Giants are playing Oakland, so Manning should be good for 300 yards; and that Jamal Lewis is running against Cleveland, so 100+ yards are possible. Either way, I do not feel the confidence that is usually there when I have my Seattle connection in place.

* * *

SMURF TURF:

I have to say, I love having a cell phone that receives text messages with updates from ESPN with scores and what not. Rather than risk ruining my streak of not having seen a BC bowl game since the days of Doug Flutie (the freaking Cotton Bowl! Now that was a REAL bowl game. No MPC Computers, Motor City, what-freaking-ever bowls they play in now), I got all the updates on my phone while at work (game started at 4:30 pm eastern, a true sign of a prestigious bowl game) and on the train home. Of course, I gleefully turned on the tube to catch the final drive to see if Boise State could pull off the comeback from 27 to 0 with less than 20 minutes to play. Alas, an interception with a minute or so left ruined my glee. Oh well, congrats I guess to BC. Hope they enjoyed Boise. Next year, win a few games against the cream puffs so you can go someplace warm or make a few more dollars.

* * *

IT AIN’T EASY BEING GREEN:

Well, so much for the Celtics putting it together on the road and pulling the team together ala New Jersey the past two weeks. I just want to fast forward this team about two years into the future and see how the Big Al, Perk, Paul Pierce, Ricky Davis, and Delonte West starting five wreaks havoc on the league and wins 55 games. The 2007-8 Boston Celtics: Faraway, So Close (and yes, that is the title from one of the best songs from Zooropa, the oft overlooked 1993 album by U2. All anyone remembers the album for now is Numb, the spoken-word masterpiece by the Edge and the accompanying great video. Maybe Lemon is remembered as well, but overall Zooropa is one of my favorite U2 albums. Johnny Cash on lead vocals for The Wanderer makes the album well worth the $7.99 bargain basement price tag.)

* * *

SOMETHING IS BRUIN IN BOSTON:

What is brewing in Boston is apathy for the Bruins. Rather than leaping onto the sports scene, the Bruins have disappeared from consciousness. While I still believe the Bruins needed to trade Joe Thornton, and I still like some of the guys they got back, I still think the team was doomed from the outset when management miscalculated the post-lockout salary structure. The Bruins were stuck overpaying marginal talent, which was exactly the opposite of what they thought would happen. Instead of having a team of affordable superstars, they ended up with aging, overpriced talent who cannot stay healthy or put away a game in the third period. Boo to the Bruins Front Office.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

HOLY CHRISTMAS, BATMAN!

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to all who stop by this blog: I appreciate all of you taking the time out of your busy lives to read the ramblings of a madman shaking a geranium.

* * *

THOSE LOSERS:

So the Red Sox have lost their way, have they? They lost Johnny Damon. They lost out on signing Kevin Millwood. They lost out on trading for Troy Glaus. Excuse me, but for those salaries, how can you call the team that signed the player the winner in the deal?

Millwood signed for basically a five year $60 million contact, which is simply insane money for such an inconsistent starter with shoulder problems. Of course, after the moolah that was thrown at Pedro Martinez by the Mets last year, I guess that it is par for the course. Johnny Rock Star, as we are all aware, went to the Yankees for roughly the same amount of money that Vlad Guerrero recently signed for after the 2003 season. What does that mean? I would say it means that the Red Sox are putting themselves in position to compete every season with a reasonable payroll. Like the Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves, and the Los Angeles/Anaheim/California Angels, the Sox are attempting to build the team with young pitching talent from within, smart trades, and calculated free agent signings.

Now I try not to be an uppity New England sports blogger like some sites where they mock and ridicule with disturbing delight the Sox fans who are upset at losing Pedro, Lowe, and Johnny as whacko band-wagon freaks who have no idea who Tom Brunansky is and what his role in Red Sox history is, and therefore are not allowed to comment on the team. Rather, I think that the strength of the current Red Sox Nation is their ability to incorporate fans who are not trapped in the gloom-and-doom cycle of angry vitriol. The Sox were done in by bad management in the past. Nothing more, nothing less. The Red Sox Renaissance coinciding with the end of the Yawkey era is no mere coincidence. For all the bashing and ignorant hateful words that are heaped on Larry Lucchino, John Henry, and to a much lesser extent, Tom Werner, the triumvirate has done more in three years to make the Red Sox a better team, better neighbors, and a better entertainment value than the Yawkey Family and Trust did in seventy years.

The Red Sox are never going to win by going head-to-head and dollar-to-dollar with the Yankees: that is how the team ends up signing Jose Offerman and trading for Crazy Dinosaur Loving Carl Everett. The Sox can out-think, out-maneuver, and out-hustle the Yankees and that is exactly what is going on right now. The 2006 Red Sox are being built not to just match-up with the Yankees, but the Sox have an eye on their real rivals: The Chicago White Sox, the Anaheim Angels, and the Oakland Athletics. The Sox have finally decided to build their team around a spectacular starting rotation, one built with Power (Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett), Veteran Guile (Tim Wakefield, and, if he returns, David Wells), Potential (Bronson Arroyo and Matt Clement), and the Future (Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, and just maybe the crafty lefty Abe Alvarez).

The Yankees may have sunk $96 million this year into the first six batters in their line-up, but they have misplaced their blueprint for success from the heydays of the 1990s. Gone are Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, David Cone, David Wells, Ramiro Mendoza, and El Duque. In their place are the Way Too Old (Mike Mussina and the Big Eunich), the Too Little Too Late (Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano), and the Flash-in-the-Pan Retreads (Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon). All they have is Chieng-Ming Wang, and the jury is still out on the Wanginator.

For all those ninnies shouting about the Red Sox not having a plan, they have a great plan. Their plan is to get it right for the long term. The Red Sox are, like the Patriots have done and what the Celtics are also trying to do, in a position where the right moves can be made to make themselves a constant and continual contender, and I for one say it is time to rise up above the din from the Big Show and other talking heads and celebrate the strong, exciting team the Sox are building rather than run around like Chicken Little when some idiot overpays for an over-rated media star.

* * *

Monday, December 26, 2005

Late-breaking news

Actually, the only reason I write this is because I'm breaking the news so late. I found out this tidbit of info a week ago, and, thanks to the neverending fight that is my thesis advisor, I'm only just writing this segment now...Anyway, the Roy Keane has landed out of the EPL. Keane turned down Everton, Real Madrid, West Bromwich Albion, and Bolton to make the move to the perennial Scottish powerhouse Celtic. Keane, excited to get back to playing footy again, said, "I'm not in this game to be popular," referring to his sour ending with Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson. Keane declared he was not interested in the captaincy of Celtic and he is not out to divide the team. The stories of the extent of his over-reactions with Man U were, according to Keane, "a lot of nonsense." Keane will make his debut next year (i.e. January) when Celtic travel to play Clyde. The stadiums and the crowds will most likely not be what Keane is used to from the EPL, but the former Man U captain is just eager to get back to playing football. "I know that I've something to offer [Celtic]," says Keane. In Keane, Celtic gets a talented midfielder for 18 months. Look for this signing to boost popularity of Scottish League football. Perhaps this will even be one of the first steps to bringing Scottish League teams into the elite of European Football clubs, the other being Rangers' qualifying for the elimination round of the European Champions League.

-Christopher J. Brigham

Thursday, December 22, 2005

THE STORY THAT WOULD NOT DIE

Enough already! The Red Sox are equally ridiculed and criticized, by the same host, caller, writer, etc for both letting Damon get away even though he was ridiculously overpaid. Hmm. So they were smart not to pay him $13 million a year, and yet they were stupid for not paying him whatever it takes to keep him here even if it threw the entire salary structure on the team out of whack. Whatever. And these bozos who ask why the Sox did not come back and offer four years and eleven or twelve million per season: PUH-LEEZE!

How many times did the Johnny Damon/Scott Boras Show go into hysterics at the mention of a home town discount?. Damon made it clear he was taking the money. This mysterious team that no one has any leads or leaks on that offered five years and more money is so obviously a fictional creation of the uber-agent and yet the idiotic media people eat it up like it was the word of God. The more I think about this deal, the more I like the options it presents for the Sox.

* * *

FIXING A HOLE:

Very simple solution here folks: Juan Encarnacion, David Murphy, and Adam Stern. All for less than $6 million per season total. Encarnacion could hit $30 homers in Fenway, move to RF when Nixon gets hurt for the umpteenth time, and cover left field when Manny is being Manny. Murphy deserves a shot. The Braves thought Jeff Francoeur was not ready, and look what he did.

Give the kids a chance, I say!

Adam Stern is raw and maybe a year away, but again, give him a shot in center, he already has shown he can catch anything out there, and bat him ninth and tell him to steal every single time he reaches base. He needs to play to learn.

With a rotation of Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo/Matt Clement/David Wells/Jon Lester/Abe Alvarez/mystery free agent signing (Kevin Millwood?), the Sox will not need to score 1,000 runs this season. The Yankees, with their rotation, took the Baltimore approach of adding bats instead of arms this season (Yo, Octavio Dotel is gonna be smoking outta the pen, if he gets healthy by July, if he gets his groove, if he avoids pressure situations, if he can beat out Felix Heredia for a roster spot). Great choice. Look where it got Baltimore last year.

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COMMUTER UPDATE:

OK, no idiots today on the train talking about trading Kevin Youkilis straight up for Albert Pujols (Duh, I don’t know why the Red Sox don’t make that deal!), but the whacko on her cellphone going into graphic detail on the train about the birth of her child and fluids and all the disgusting details. Talk about a desperate plea for attention!

* * *

BACK IT UP:

This is a wonderful off-season for the Patriots to find a long-term backup for Tom Brady. As impressed as I was with Matt Cassell in the preseason games, and with Doug Flutie nearing the end of his time as a pro player, the list of solid veterans and talented players in the wrong system, situation, or in need of a good coach is staggering. Some of the names who may be available this off-season include:

SOLID VETERANS:

Kerry Collins, Oakland: His value is as a veteran backup, not as a starter.

Brad Johnson, Minnesota: Unfortunately for the Vikings fans, Dante Culpepper will be back.

Brett Favre, Green Bay: Hey, if I were a cheesehead, I would want to be rid of him. Think Dan Marino before he finally hung them up and accepted he was no longer the best quarterback in the league.

OODLES OF TALENT:

Joey Harrington, Detroit: Quack. Joey the Duck has oodles of talent, but maybe not the broad shoulders to carry Matt Millen and the Lions much longer.

Kyle Boller, Baltimore: How much longer will they wait on Boller? Remember, the Ravens traded their future number one along with other picks to the Patriots to draft Boller. That number one turned out to be Vince Wilfork.

J.P Losman, Buffalo: Another highly regarded draft pick withering under the expectations.

Any of these guys could learn a lot from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They are all worthwhile risks.

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LINK OF THE DAY:

No, not Link Jarvis, king of the your mother jokes from high school, but my link of the day:

Dr. Z on MNF. The crustiest old dude on the NFL beat rips the American Institution a new you-know-what in his typical, Jersey, acerbic manner.

* * *

UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD

Not to pile on Johnny Damon, but how much endorsement money did he just pass up to go to New York? I know I ranted on it a while back, but there is something to be said about staying somewhere comfortable where your pole-dancing wife can get a TV gig, a cushy job for life is yours if you want it after retirement (Jim Rice may have been unfriendly with the media, but he stayed in Boston his entire career and is basically assured a team-related job for the rest of his life. How do you put a price tag on that?) Does Johnny really think anyone in New York is going to be interested in him? Somehow a sequel will not play too well in the Bronx, I imagine. Heck, unless he starts brawling with A-Rod and Psycho Sheffield in the locker room, the back pages are gone form his future. He gave up a statue in Boston for a few extra dollars now.

Of course, on the other hand, I doubt there are many people that would be able to objectively weigh the long-term benefits of a position when faced with the big dough and bonuses and whatnot of the newest suitor on the block. How many executives spent a year or more scrambling for work after bailing out and going with some stupid start-up of the week in the late nineties in an attempt to get as much money in hand at once? Scott Boras really does not give a flying you know what about Johnny Damon and his life outside baseball: he only cares about his percentage on the deal he is working on right now.

* * *

NOMAH IS A DODGAH:

Not to be rude or anything, but did anyone else take a gander at the AP photo of Nomah and Mia Hamm Sandwich holding up the Dodgers jersey and think: can you imagine what that poor kid would look like? Sure, the kid would be a great athlete, but the costs of keeping paper bags around to cover that face…

All kidding aside, it is sad that after all the good that Nomar did in Boston the most emotion I can muster over Nomar packing up his bags and moving out west is a slight wave of the hand and an of-hand: bah! The man is Spike Owen to me now. Sure, you are a little curious about where he will end up, but otherwise we are all more concerned about figuring out what to do with three second base candidates.

* * *

GOING GREEN:

Sure, I meant to tune in to the Celtics game the other night versus the Warriors, but without Run-TMC for the past 15 or so years, who really cares about the Golden State Warriors? Also, what the heck right do they have referring to themselves as the nickname, not a good one, of an entire state with three other pro teams? Golden State. Where do they play anyway? Not L.A., not Sacramento, so where? Talk about a team that could/should be moved to Las Vegas!
Anyway, between wrapping presents, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and checking in on how Jamal Lewis was running against the Green Bay Packers last night (as he only carried my entire fantasy football season on hi s back) the Celtics, as they tend to do lately, totally slipped my mind.

The good news is I needed 12 points from Jamal Lewis to advance to the second round and I got 13. The bad news is that one of the few loyal Celtics fans out there totally missed the game and likely dropped the viewership from 13 to 12 regular viewers.

* * *

SEEING RED:

So is the plan officially to move Dustin Pedroia back to shortstop for a year in AAA and let Alex not Joey Cora handle SS in 2006? It makes sense to me and I see no reason to panic or rush into a rash decision for the Red Sox. Trading Manny to Anaheim for the O.C. and Darin Freaking Erstad seems like such a bad move that I cannot imagine the Sox pulling the trigger on that one. Dealing away phenom Andy Marte makes no sense either. His value is over the next four years before becoming arbitration eligible as he hits down in the order and develops into the full-time replacement for Manny in 2008.

* * *

LIFE IS CRUEL:

Is there nothing worse than sitting on the commuter rail listening to two bozos talk about trading Manny to Seattle for Ichiro would be such a great deal. It reminds me of Gallagher’s t-shirt: YOU, OUTTA THE GENE POOL!

* * *

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

TALKING PEOPLE OFF THE LEDGE AGAIN

The 2006 season is already over for the Red Sox, Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News writes. Larry Johnson and Greg Dickerson filling in on the Dennis & Callahan show were already crying and condemning the Sox front office. Has Red Sox Nation gone so out of control that the only voice of reason on the airwaves Mike Adams, who has never been accused of anything reasonable?

Deep breath. There, now let's review just what is going on at Fenway:

1. The Red Sox traded a universally panned mistake, Edgar Renteria, for the number one prospect in all the minor leagues. I repeate, Andy Marte, ranked NUMBER ONE. Why is there a problem all of a sudden?

2. Ah, yes, here is the problem. The Sox traded SS Hanley Ramirez and a couple of young arms to Florida for Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota, and Mike Lowell. So the bullpen was shored up (plus we signed Rudy Seanez on the cheap), Bill Mueller was replaced with an upgrade, and we got one of the best pitchers in baseball for what amounts to nothing.

3. Johnny Damon goes to NY. Ahh, yes, we have no centerfielder, lead-off hitter, and media whore anymore. All I have to say is that Damon was true to his word: he said he would follow the money. As far as the Yankees are concerned, I say that we got Beckett and they are still pinning their hopes on Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, and the rest of their misfits and malcontents on the mound.

4. DOUGIE!!! Oh yeah, we traded an over-priced, back-up catcher who hit below .230 last year for a second baseman who before he was injured was putting up all-star numbers.

5. Wahh, the Sox cannot operate without Theo. Oh yes, the Theo who signed Edgar Renteria and the other media darling du jour, Matt Clement.

OK, so what is the problem? Starting pitching? Vastly improved. Bullpen? Deeper and stronger than ever. Centerfield: TBD. Shortstop: Alex not Joey Cora. Manny: Going nowhere. David Wells: Going nowhere.

So we need a centerfielder to get on base, provide some speed on the basepaths, and play some defense. Somehow, I do not see that worth $13 million a year for 4 years. Like with Pedro, why should this team handicap themselves in 2007, 2008, and 2009 with horrible contracts? Let me ask the real question: Would Bill Belichick have signed Johnny Damon?

Hell, no!

In Bill We Trust, as we do in football and as we imitate in baseball. The Red Sox obviously are operating on the Belichick Model, and I say it is about time!
  • Someone wants too much money or too many years, say good-bye and find a younger and cheaper model.
  • They want more money than you determine them to be worth, let them go.
  • Sign someone who does not fit as well as you thought? Can them immediately.
  • They want to cry about contracts and playing elsewhere? You make them put up or shut up.

I can't speak for all, but this is what I have been waiting for the Red Sox to do for years. Damon is worth only 4 for $40? Stick to your guns. Why be intimidated if he goes to the Yankees? Detroit wanted to over-pay Damien Woody, did you see Belichick (& Pioli) cave-in? No. This is good business. Good business leads to good teams with the ability to add depth, withstand injuries, and be competitive at a high-level for years to come. Me, I want long-term competitive teams, not a random collection of aging superstars.

Good job, Red Sox front office, I say. Stay the course and keep up the good work. The team does not start playing real games until April. That leaves 120 days to fill in the gaps. Leave the panic to the weak out there who do not know better.

Monday, December 19, 2005

NOT TOO HIGH, NOT TOO LOW

I was still upbeat after getting spanked by Carolina, San Diego, & Indy, so I need to stay level after crushing the AFC East Dregs and the Tampa Bay Bucs.

* * *

THANKS, BEAUTIFUL:

What can I say, fourteen years since we met and my wife still is yet to trade me in for a newer model. To quote Nomar Garciaparra: Thanks, Beautiful!

* * *

KEEP ON ROCKING IN THE FREE WORLD:

So the mighty, Chris Simms led Bucs have been vanquished. The mighty Cadillac was unable to crank up any energy. The Gillette Stadium crowd actually made some noise, and the number two defense in the NFL gave up 28 points (which easily could have been 45 points). All-in-all, not a bad Saturday afternoon for the good guys.

As I intimated earlier, I am desperately trying to keep level-headed as the national pundits start reporting that Peyton Manning is lying in bed having nightmares of Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Roosevelt Colvin, and Willie McGinest blitzing at him unblocked like they were against Tampa. Just hold on one second. Tampa is a marginal team in a marginal conference. The NFC has one Super Bowl worthy team: the Seattle Seahawks. The AFC has teams that would crush Seattle who are going to be sitting at home and left out of the playoffs when the season is done. That is just how the worm turns. Remember in the mid-eighties, the NFC had the Giants, Bears, Redskins, 49ers, Cowboys, and Rams al l consistently performing better than anyone in the AFC. Or put it this way: Chris Simms is no Peyton Manning.

This season the AFC boasts the Colts, Bengals, Broncos, Patriots, Chargers, Steelers, Jaguars, and Chiefs who are all capable of winning in January. Does anyone believe the Vikings, Bears, Panthers, Falcons, Giants, Cowboys, or Redskins could actually beat any of those teams?

The Patriots are getting better at the right time. They could be the team to beat in January, but take a deep breath and let them get there first. Then, we can worry about the Jaguars or Steelers or Chiefs, or whoever the Patriots play in the first round. If they get past that game, then we worry about the Colts or Bengals in round two.

* * *

DOLTS:

As bad as the Colts looked yesterday, the scary thing is the way they struck at the end of the third quarter where they forced a few quick turnovers and Peyton Manning stopped doing the chicken dance long enough to move the ball downfield quickly. To me, the scariest receiver on the Colts is Dallas Clark. For a tight end, he has wheels and it is near impossible for a defense to stick a safety on him or a linebacker. If the Pats play the Colts again, the tow converted cornerbacks, Eugene Wilson and Artrell Hawkins, should give the Pats the best chance to shut him down.

* * *

Friday, December 16, 2005

CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC

I'm not the only soul
Who's accused of a hit and run
Tire tracks all across your back
I can, I can see you had your fun


Since Larry Lucchino survived his first foray into the public with Dennis & Callahan (are they officially part of the cartel now or what?), I think I will celebrate the end of the week with my collection of random thoughts, or as I like to call it, Crosstown Traffic:

Patriots fans had better scream their lungs out Sunday as a little playoff atmosphere will go a long way against the young Bucs. Also take the time to appreciate and cheer on the likes of Richard Seymour and Adam Vinatierri. The big guy and the clutch guy may be the glue of the defense and special teams, but there are no guarantees he will be back when their contracts are up. Arthur Blanks and Daniel Snyder do not spend a lot of time in the off-season counting their money rather than throwing it around at big names.

* * *

The top of my list of things to see Saturday afternoon is Ellis Hobbs high-stepping an interception return into the end zone in front of the Bucs bench while Jon Gruden makes his patented What the F$@& face on the sidelines.

* * *

The worst part of fantasy football is having your guys playing against the Patriots. Playoffs or no playoffs, the Cadillac stays in the garage this weekend.

* * *

Why yes, I did draft Larry Fitzgerald this year. That is part of the reason I made the playoffs. The other two reasons throw and run in touchdowns in the land of Starbucks.

* * *

See, I mention Starbucks and now all I can think of is those egg nog lattes. Curse you Peter King for writing about them in Monday Morning Quarterback and sucking me in until I spend nine months muttering: Is it Christmas time? I need an egg nog latte. How long until Christmas? I just cannot wait.

* * *

Matt Clement for Jeremy Reed? JEREMY FREAKING REED? Thanks, but no thanks, Seattle. I think I would prefer Adam Stern in centerfield rather than give up a number three starter for a modern day Reid Nichols.

* * *

Bill Mueller, thanks for everything. If my son were to be a major league ballplayer, I would want him to be you. (Of course, those who know young Hal laugh and know that this boy is more hotdog than Reggie Jackson).

* * *

Thursday, December 15, 2005

MANNY HAPPY RETURNS

So are the Manny rumors officially dead? Somehow I think Mrs. Manny should just bite the bullet and buy the complex in the suburbs and get it over with once and for all. Manny only knows how to do one thing: play baseball. The Mets do not want him, the Dodgers do not want him, the Yankees do not trust the Sox enough to take him (besides, other than Chieng-Ming Wang and maybe Robby Cano, who on that team would you want to take? There are the over-over-overpaid guys (A-Rod, Jeter, Matsui, and Sheffield), the rapidly aging guys (Mussina, Big Eunich, Horsehead Posada, Giambi, and Rivera), and the rest could be Devil Rays for all anyone really cares.), and the Orioles are scared to death of him. Somehow, I do not see a lot of teams willing to pick-up that salary. Call him Kotter, because it is time to welcome back Manny.

* * *

BOSTON WEST COAST:

Hmm, first there was Derek Lowe in Los Angeles, then Grady Little at the helm, then Bill Mueller signs, and now perhaps Nomar and Johnny D are looming on the horizon in Chavez Ravine? What an intriguing team the Dodgers will be if Johnny D & Nomar are packing up their bags and gonna head out west / where real women come equipped with scripts and fake breasts?

Who knows, maybe they could swing a trade with Cleveland for Lou Merloni? What a phone conversation that would be:

Ned Colltetti, Dodgers GM: Hi Mark, I wanna talk about a trade for Lou Merloni,
Mark Shapiro, Indians GM: Ned, what the hell are you talking about. I have no guy named Spumoni.
Ned: Sure you do, Lou Merloni. He played for the Sox. You signed him to a minor league deal.
Mark: Really? Must have been partying a little too hard with Wildman Scott Pioli. What position does this Trigoni play?
Ned: Mer-Lo-Knee.
Mark: Like the Agent on Law & Order SVU? Agent Merloni?
Ned: Yah, you watch the Law & Order, too? I love Ice-T. He kicks ass in this show.
Mark: No doubt, the whole cast is tight.
Ned: Anyway, so why did you call me Mark? You ready to trade me Grady Sizemore for J.D. Drew?
Mark: Umm, Ned, you called me.
Ned: Really? Are you sure?
Mark: Yup, you were asking about Macaroni or something.
Ned: Oh yeah, Merloni. Nomar’s boyfriend, he refuses to sign his contract until Merloni gets here. By the way, tell no one but I heard Mia hates Merloni because all he does at their cookouts is chat up Brandi Chastain and talk about hw he dated Lisa Guerrero.
Mark: He did? One of the New England Patriot cheerleaders went out with Lou Merloni?
Ned: Yup, and now Playboy has her topless next month.
Mark: Damn. I bet she never slept with him.
Ned: So why did you call me again?
Mark: YOU CALLED ME!
Ned: Oh yeah, so whatta ya want for Spumoni?
Mark: How about one of those new lawn tractors you have guys have for the infield crew. Those are kinda nice.
Ned: Hell no, those things cost almost $10,000 apiece.
Mark: $10,000? Mine cost $15k and they are barely a comparison.
Ned: Tell ya what, I can give you the name of the dealer who sold them to me for $10k if you accept the deal for Spumoni.
Mark: Deal. Should we call it for future considerations or a player to be named later.
Ned: Why stretch the truth? Call it future considerations.
Mark: Sweet.


* * *

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE PACERS:

God, what an ugly game played by the Celtics and Pacers. This was a case of who had the worst offense. Of course, the game was over in the second period when the Pacers had to fight to reach double digits for the quarter. Doug Moe, a lonely legion of NBA fans turn to you and Paul Westphal in these dark days!

The Celtics, remaining maddeningly inconsistent, again had LaFrentz cold, Blount hot, Davis on par, Pierce excelling, Big Al Jefferson showing some hope, and Orien Greene playing the wild card. Consistency is not a word used with this team. But dammit, this team needs to ride out the wave this year and maybe next year. Sneak into the playoffs, leave early, and develop those kids. The Celtics are potentially three years and one major pick-up or blossoming from being a team to contend with for the Championship. Why fans are not getting behind this team like they were the 1994 New England Patriots behooves me. They are young and coming on strong. Hop on board now and say I told you so later!

* * *

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

WEEI = WWE

Mere minutes after lamenting the fact that Dennis & Callahan had nothing to talk about, here comes the crazy Mike Adams after the Big Show hijacking the studio, pissing off the resident angry fat guy (Pete Shepard), and then hanging up on program director Jason Wolfe. Just when you think it cannot get any more absurd, he gets the CT School of Broadcasting owner on the air to threaten to pull his ads.

Of course, I feel used and dirty just writing about the publicity stunt. If it were a real hijacking of the station without prior approval, the police and security would have dragged Adams out, and with a flick of a switch they would run their tape of highlights from the engineer booth or from a satellite station.

We all know that WEEI creates fake controversies and really consists of actors playing roles and taking pre-assigned roles, but this is beyond ridiculous. What a lame publicity stunt. The point is that this gives Mike Adams some much needed publicity for his new 7PM show.

Now when does Vince McMahon get his cut for coming up with this bologna.

* * *

SLOWING DOWN

You know it is a slow sports day when Dennis & Callahan cannot think of anything to shout about and are forced to get inspiration from the cover of the Boston Herald and complain loudly about Brokeback Mountain receiving Golden Globe nominations. Turn off E!, Dennis & Callahan have the real debate on the Golden Globes.

* * *

ALL ABOARD:

So Dr. Z & Peter King over at SI.com, Pete Prisco at CBS Sportsline, and the other national pundits are back pulling the lead wagon of the Patriots train. In two weeks, the Pats have gone from first round fodder to the team the Colts have to be on the lookout for in the second round of the playoffs.

What seemed so desperate when I typed it a month ago (let them get guys back, get healthy, and jell together over the last month of the season into the playoffs), now is the national consensus. Considering I have believed against hope ever season since 1979 that the Pats will win the Super Bowl, I may not be the one to offer the most evenhanded opinion on this, but the team has looked good the past two weeks. If they can beat Tampa Bay convincingly this weekend, there will be a lot of dry mouths in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville. At home or on the road, it is tough to out-scheme Bill Belichick.

* * *

THE DANGLING CARROT:

There he is: the best defensive player in the NBA; On the trading block for fifty cents on the dollar; Only 26 years old; Averaging almost twenty points per game; and unfortunately his name is Ron Artest.

Artest is the poster child for everything that is wrong in the NBA today, whether he likes it or not. When you come across as more concerned about peddling a CD and starting one of the most revolting brawls in NBA history (Rudy T and Kermit was certainly a bloodier and more physically shocking brawl). The question that the teams face with Artest are multiple: is he the next T.O.; is he merely in need of a fresh start; is he a combustible figure who can fit in the right environment ala Dennis Rodman; or is he just insane and belongs out of basketball.

Imagine if Artest straightens out his act: the Celtics give up Mark Blount, a young throw-in (Orien Greene, Ryan Gomes, Justin Reed, Marcus Banks: take your pick, Indiana!) and maybe a protected draft pick and all of a sudden, this team is a legitimate contender in the East. With Artest, Jefferson, and Perkins the Celtics have a big, young front three that could raise havoc for years to come.

Of course, there is also the possibility that the trade turns into a disaster of Terrell Owens-esque proportions, destroys the team chemistry, corrupts the youngsters, causes Doc Rivers to leave, Danny Ainge gets fired, and the Celtics rebuild yet again. Of course, with the image-conscious owners of the Celtics, there is no doubt that Artest has no chance of coming to Boston. But it has to be very tempting to GM Danny Ainge to think of the possibilities.

* * *

SPEAKING OF HEAD CASES:


What, no Milton Bradley coming to Boston? I was hoping for a head case outfield of Manny in left, Milton Bradley in center, and Crazy Jurassic Carl Everett in rightfield. Imagine the drama involved with that combo!

* * *

THE NAME IS ALEX NOT JOEY!

Dammit, I am not letting it go. Alex Cora, opening day shortstop for the Red Sox. Why waste money chasing players not worth it. Cora at shortstop, and since Damon is not exactly being overwhelmed with offers, it looks like the third most annoying caveman on TV (those two from the Geico commercials are just too damned annoying. Caveman 1: I’ll have the Mango Duck. Caveman 2: I don’t think I have much of an appetite right now. I just want to puke watching that claptrap!) will be back in Boston a few years and many million short of what he wanted.

* * *

TRADER JIM:

So if Alfonso Soriano is already unhappy in Washington, would he accept a trade to Boston (Trot Nixon, Bronson Arroyo and a few million bucks) and be the full-time DH? Whither Ortiz, you may ask? To quote Lou Costello: FIRST BASE!

* * *

CO-COCONUTS

Why is everyone against a two-headed monster at GM for the Red Sox? So what if Theo comes back or not? I like the idea that there are smart people running the team trying out creative new ideas. Maybe this will work, maybe it will not, but I like being at the forefront. Heck, I remember people being upset with Bill Belichick when he pulled out the old Victor Green Big Nickel package in the secondary. Sure, it was not the game-breaking defense he may have envisioned, but it felt nice to be the one setting the pace instead of trailing and rushing to catch-up. Heck, I was hoping for the quintuple-GM this season. Good for the team, good for the economy!

* * *

A SHORT STOP FOR EDGAR:

Enough of the whining about not having a shortstop: the Sox have one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball on their roster. Since defense, according to the whiners and so-called pundits who drove Edgar Renteria out of town, is so vitally important, then there is no need to panic: Alex Cora is already here. Sure, he over the course of the season he might hit .230 with an OBP of .300 and an OBPS of under .500, but evidently it is all about the defense at shortstop in Boston. Yeah, Edgar did OK with the stick in the second half of the season, but it was his glove that killed us, was it or was it not the refrain heard all off-season?

* * *

TIGHT FIT:

The Sox line-up is obviously a work in progress right now, but there are many options already available to the team. Here is one way of looking at it:

CF: Adam Stern or Dave Murphy
2B: Mark Loretta
1B: David Ortiz
LF: Manny Ramirez
3B: Mike Lowell
C: Jason Varitek
DH: Andy Marte
RF: Trot Nixon
SS: Alex Cora

Obviously, lead-off and the number nine spot may be changed in the off-season, but 2-8 the line-up remains scary good. The starting rotation and bullpen, while both still in flux, both appear much stronger than last year:

SP: Josh Beckett
SP: Curt Schilling
SP: David Wells/Jonathan Papelbon/Jon Lester
SP: Tim Wakefield
SP: Matt Clement
Spot Starter/Bullpen: Bronson Arroyo

Closer: Keith Foulke
Set-up: Guillermo Mota
Set-up: Craig Hansen
Set-up: Lenny DiNardo
Set-up: Mike Timlin

Right now, the Red Sox are STILL the team to beat in the American League East, despite the many moves of the Toronto Blue Jays and the strange stagnation of the Yankees rotation.

* * *

THEO SAYS: IT TAKES TWO TO REPLACE THE BIG DAWG

So what is history going to tell us about deposed Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who is replaced by the Gang of Two for the time being? For those of us who cannot wait, I will wish for Cosmo and Wanda to create my Timmy Turner model time machine to go to 2010 and find out:

Dateline: October 30, 2010: Washington Senators CEO, President, Special Advisor to U.S. President John Kerry & Senior General Manager Larry Lucchino continued his beltway bantering with Boston Red Sox CEO, President, Junior Senator from Massachusetts and minority owner Theo Epstein this week, hiring away Sox manager Kevin Millar and signing free agent DH-1B David Ortiz. Apparently the feud is still simmering as it has over the past few years from their repeated jabs and proclamations of who really made the decision to sign baseball’s first thirty game winner since 1968, Matt Clement. While Epstein and the Sox have traded world series titles with Lucchino and the Senators, no team can seem to maintain the upper hand over their bitter rival. On his deathbed, former Yankees owner and former foil of both Lucchino and Epstein, George Steinbrenner, offered a prayer of peace for the franchises.

Umm, better yet, let us never visit that horrific future again and get back in touch with the modern day:

* * *

GOLD MINE:

The Red Sox are sitting on a gold mine: Bronson Arroyo. With the crazy spending going on for starting pitching, the Sox are sitting pretty with the pop star and his cheap pay and productive ways. Arroyo, on the open market, would be getting Matt Clement money the way dollars are being dumped on these non All-Star starters.

Sure, they could trade him or save him as a piece to bargain with at the mid-season deadline, but unless they are getting back a closer or All-Star shortstop or right-fielder, it makes too much sense to keep the Boston balladeer. With Schilling, Wells, and Papelbon all unknown quantities, it makes sense to keep Arroyo around to bolster the bullpen and take over the spot of whoever gets injured in the rotation (as we New England Patriots fans know, you gotta have depth).

* * *

STILL ALIVE AT 8-5:


As the Chicken Littles of the sporting world run for cover the New England Patriots, the same squad left for dead three weeks ago, are finally showing signs of emerging from their prolonged funk. With a healthy running game, a patchwork offensive line, a healthy front seven, and four guys on their feet in the secondary, Eric Mangini has finally got his fee underneath him and released the hounds on the dregs of the AFC East. Sure, Ron Borges will tell you that he needs the Pats to prove themselves by beating Tampa (and if them, then by beating the Jets again, then by beating Miami, then by winning a wild-card match, then by beating the Colts in Indy, then by beating Cincinnati or Pittsburgh or San Diego or Jacksonville or Kansas City, then by beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and then he still will beat the team up for losing five games this season), but the Pats should be in good shape for the game on Saturday.

The Big Points from Sunday:

a. Stopping the run: Say what you will about the front five of the Bills offensive line looking more like the Electric Company from PBS that aired after Mr. Rogers in my youth rather than the Electric Company that put an over-hyped murderer from USC in the Hall of Fame, but holding Willis McGahee to three yards on eight carries is a prolific event. Heck, McGahee would normally rush for more yards than that behind a high school offensive line. Credit the Patriots front seven for stepping it up. Now the Cadillac (who automatically goes to my fantasy league bench when playing the Patriots) has to look at that game tape and grimace in preparation of the tilt going on Saturday.

b. Pressuring the young quarterback: Papa Phil is going to do a lot of whispering in one ear of little Chris while Psycho-Therapy Jon Gruden shouts in his other. After the damage done to Brooks Bollinger and J.P. Losman the past two weeks, the QB who stole too many snaps from Major Applewhite will get a quick education in what happens when the foremost disciple of defense, Bill Belichick, matches wits with the Clown with a Frown, Crazy Chuckie Gruden.

c. Running the ball: It seems so simple, Stop the run on defense, limit the big plays, run the ball on offense, and convert a few key third downs. That is the formula every team (OK, maybe not the Eagles) goes into the game with week after week. For the Patriots, they have made it look easy the past two weeks. The key on offense has been Corey Dillon on first and second down and Kevin Faulk on third down. What a boost these two give to the offense. We all loved Heath and Hammy-grabbin Patrick Pass, but this is the way a running game is built to operate. Pound it inside and then mix it out of the backfield.

* * *

CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC:

No, the title means nothing other than to reference the Jimmy Hendrix song I heard for the first time in too long this weekend. But anyway, here are the quick, random thoughts:

Only the Jets can lose by winning. Bye-bye Reggie, Vince, and Matt.

* * *

I hear the Yankees expect big things out of Aaron Small this year. Bwah-hah-hah!

* * *

Good job Boston College basketball. Now I can forget about you until you get upset by Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

* * *

Big Al and Big Perk for the Green. I will say it again: PLAY THEM UNTIL THEY FOUL OUT EACH AND EVERY NIGHT! Mark Blount and Raef LaFrentz are the future of nothing.

* * *

Craig Shipley must be pissed being the brightest of the bunch and passed over as co-co-co-GM.

* * *

Maybe Larry Lucchino should employ a bunch of doubles like Saddam Hussein always did when out in public. Heck, maybe Theo should get his brother a wig and use him for a decoy since the notoriety is too much for poor little him.

* * *

Now is the time for the Bruins to trade goalie Andrew Raycroft for a good young goal-scoring forward.

* * *

I cannot wait until Marcus Vick gets to the NFL. Then I can be the first to refer to him and brother Mike Vick as BLUNTMAN and CHRONIC. Man, I hope no one else thought of this already.

* * *

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Champions League

Well, this past week, I popped my proverbial UEFA Champions League cherry, thanks to the appearance of a couple of group-stage matches televised on ESPN2. The European Champions League is one of the most exciting events in football today, pitting top teams from every league in Europe. Once the Loko Plovdiv's and the HK's are eliminated (usually pretty easily by one of the more powerhouse squads), we could be seeing matches like Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich, Chelsea vs. Real Madrid, etc.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Benfica, the scrappy Portugese squad vs. Man U. One of the few bright spots for Man U, aside from the goal by Scholes in the early going, is the skillful play of Portugese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo. This guy has some serious skills-to-pay-the-bills, and, in a Roy Keane-less era (good luck landing the Keane-ster, Toffees), may be the best hope Man United has of establishing anything in Europe or the premiership. After sloppy play in the first part of the first half, Benfica settled down and scored two absolutely phenominal goals, to come away with a hard-fought 2-1 win. This gives Benfica a spot in the elimination round, and quashes Man U's hopes of playing in any more European competition.

The other game televised for us stupid Americans was Chelsea vs. Liverpool, in which both sides, already locks for the elimination round, tried their best not to lose and neither ended up winning. In other words, I was treated to a boring 0-0 tie.

In lieu of the Chelsea-Liverpool snoozer, I wish they had shown Rangers v. Internazionale. Rangers showed plenty of guts and came away with a 1-1 draw, and a berth in the elimination round. They are the first Scottish League team to do so in recent years. Bravo Rangers! They may be the team to watch in the UEFA Champions League in the coming years.

Crouch the Tiger

I also watched the Liverpool vs. Wigan match this week. Wigan is just now starting to taste the harsh realities of playing in the EPL. Decimated with injuries, it is clear Paul Jewell's squad lacks the depth to make a serious run at the EPL title. However, their first-half record might actually give them a spot in European competition next year. Regardless, the star of this match was Liverpool's embattled big man, Peter Crouch. Since joining Liverpool from Southampton last year, Crouch's performance on the Liverpool pitch has been certainly lacking. The big guy was often a few steps behind truly breaking out and establishing himself at New Anfield. The pundits have really been lofting harsh criticisms at Crouch lately, which is funny, because Crouch lofted two goals past Wigan's backup keeper to earn man-of-the-match honors. It was great to finally see the big fella have his breakout game as a Liverpool Red. Hopefully, this is the sign of things to come. Who knows, maybe if the Reds get rid of the inconsistent Djibril Cisse, I may even admit I LIKE Liverpool. Nonetheless, I'll have to admit I'm a Peter Crouch fan.

-Christopher J. Brigham

Saturday, December 10, 2005

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

...I just accetped the fact that Theo was gone forever and we are better off with his Matt Murton trading, Edgar Renteria and Matt Clement signing ass.

* * *

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

Reggie Bush will win the Heisman, but Vince Young deserves it. LenDale White will rush for more yards than Reggie Bush in the NFL.

* * *

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

I still have not seen anyone sign or trade for anyone better than Big Becks this winter. But hey, I am ecstatic that Brian Cashman seems to think that Chieng Ming-Wang, Shawn Chacon, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, and the Big Eunich constitute a major league quality staff. Whoo-hoo! Shades of 2001 in that rotation for sure. Much like the Mets, they have a lock on third place.

* * *

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

Are there any other sports teams other than the Red Sox? Well, not according to WEEI.

* * *

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

...Are you trying to tell me that Ghana is to be feared and respected on the international footy scene? Czech Republic, sure, they are good, but what is the difference if they were in any other Group. I thought we were a better team than Italy anyway, so that should be 2-1 right there. Who were they expecting? Trinidad & Tobago, Saudi Arabia, and Iran? Puh-leeze, it is not supposed to be easy. Less whining, less Landon Donovan, and more USA nationalistic soccer pride.

* * *

WAIT ONE STINKING MINUTE...

...Speaking of footy, my other brother from another mother in the EPL has eight goals in thirteen games for Charlton Athletic. Time for a new jersey! Young Darren Bent has moved up from, what is it called, Championship now? Instead of beating up on Crystal Palace he is fighting his way admiraly versus the best in the west (Western Europe). Meanwhile, continuing my jersey jinx, brother Marcus has only one goal this season and is regularly on the sidelines this season.

* * *

Friday, December 09, 2005

FAIRWELL SWEET CRUELTY!

This is the way the Edgar era ends
This is the way the Edgar era ends
This is the way the Edgar era ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Mixing T.S. Eliot and Shakespeare, it sounds like my freshman Shakespeare term paper in college, where I learned the lesson that got me through four years as a liberal arts major with ease: always compare one work of literature with another that you know inside out. That way they think you did extra work as compared to relating it back to the only thing you really know. Sort of like those people who take every conversation endlessly around to on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base plus slugging (OPS). Now I may not be the most statistically analytical sabermetrician, but I do know that there are many different ways to manipulate data to make a point and eventually you have to play the game.

* * *

HOT STOVE BURNT HAND:

So, in essence, the Red Sox paid $23 million for one year of Edgar Renteria and the Braves top young power-hitting infielder. Well, they could have paid $23 million for one season of A-Rod, so I guess there is always a silver lining. Seriously, the so-called maniacal Red Sox smear campaign against Theo continues unabated with not a noise but with action. Renteria? A Theo Mistake! Throw him under the bus! Clement? Trade his ass outta here!

Now I was a big Theo fan, so I certainly am not going to jump on the WEEI Edgar-bashing bandwagon, but I do appreciate the team trying to improve a mistake. Of course, had Theo still been the GM, I expect Edgar would have been out the door this year anyway. He simply did not adapt to the pressure-filled Boston situation. And that, although a surprise to me, is not unheard of in this day and age of free agency. Agents are not looking out for the best interests of the players they represent, they are not concerned in the least about them until they negotiate their next cut of the deal.

Anyway, the point I am making is that some players cannot cut it in a big market (uh, maybe Jeff Weaver for example), but that is no reason to keep them around for the entire length of their contract. Cut bait and move on, the Bill Belichick way. Steve Martin does not work out at Nose Tackle? Get rid of him. Need someone at the position to anchor the line? Do what it takes to get him (Ted Washington). He asks for a ridiculous contract? Let him go and sign a lower-cost alternative (Keith Traylor) and draft a nose tackle (Vince Wilfork). Need a younger and cheaper alternative to Keith Traylor at the back-up position to the young star? Away he goes and Dan Klecko, Ethan Kelley and Mike Wright step in.

* * *

The trade I really liked was the Doug Mirabelli for Mark Loretta deal. Find a team dumping a good player for salary reasons and scoop him up for pennies on the dollar. Too bad there were not more deals like that out there.

The next steps? Find takers for Trot Nixon and Bronson Arroyo, add to the bullpen, get something breathing for David Wells, and then sign Juan Encarnacion. Comparable to Jacque Jones (and likely a lot cheaper), Encarnacion would look great playing centerfield while Adam Stern develops. As far as Andy Marte, why not put him at DH and move Big Papi to first base? What is so hard about that? Ortiz has soft hands around the bag and wants to play first base. Put Marte at DH, bat him ninth, and watch the balls dent the monster.

* * *

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

OH MANNY!

Trades, rumors, deals in the works, free agent wining and dining: Stoke the Hot Stove, Baby!

MANNY:

I think the most telling point about the Manny trade rumors is that no one that wants to take on the salary will give anything back in return. To trade Manny to the Angels without getting Ervin Santana and Casey Kochman back is criminal. Ditto the Mets with David Wright and Lasting Milledge. Those guys are the starting points. Include them and then throw in a salary (Darrin Erstad or Fat Cliff Floyd) before you even begin to say the deal is in early stages. I say let Manny hold out. When that paycheck stops coming in we will see the Humble Bumble Manny come crawling back, just as he did when he skated through waivers. And do not try to tell me he went on a rampage in the front office: I am sure it was simply a phone call from his agent upset at the triumvirate and Theo that got overblown when reported.

* * *

TROT NIXON:

My sister-in-law Jenn hates me forever for writing this, but it is time for the last vestige of the Lou Gorman era to pack his bags. Trot and a pitcher to Philly for Bobby Abreau? Pull the trigger, baby! Trot is slowly creeping into the Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio range of over-ratedness (and, yes, I just made that word up. I have a liberal arts degree, and that gives me the right, dammit!). Nixon is, and has been, a good fourth outfielder. He cannot hit lefties. He has neither the power to be so slow on the bases, nor the speed to be so powerless at the plate. He has forgotten how to slice a double off the monster in left. He is ALWAYS injured. He strikes out too much. He is too slow for RF at Fenway. And he is paid way too much money. Trot needs to go. I really like the rumor regarding Juan Encarnacion coming to Fenway, or Lyle Overbay. Now either of those two would double the numbers put up by the Trotman.

* * *

MATT CLEMENT:

I still like Clement and probably am his (and Edgar Renteria for that matter as well) only supporter left in New England. I still think he will put up 15+ wins next year (just as I believe Edgar will hit .300 with 15 homers, 100 runs scored, and show us why he won two gold gloves). However, if he is part of the package for Bobby Abreau then pull the trigger. Adam Dunn or Julio Lugo? Not so fast.

* * *

ROGER CLEMENS:

One more year in Boston to break Cy Young’s record for wins for the franchise? Come on, Roger. Of course, he should retire. How appropriate for Roger to go out by pulling himself out of a World Series game again 20 years later with an injury rather than gutting it out for his teammates ala Curt Schilling. Roger comes full circle/Instant Karma is gonna get ya.

* * *

SEAN DOUGLASS:

Who? Middle reliever released by Cleveland. He is the missing link. Someone tell the Gang of Four to sign him quickly. Seriously, I just wanted to see who read the whole posting!

* * *

HERM-TASTIC!

Ahh, after a solid, if sloppy, spanking by the Patriots, the Jets creep ever closer to drafting Reggie Bush with the second pick of the first round and then watching him hold out of training camp and blow out his knee in an exhibition game. Sounds like a realistic scenario, no? After all, the Jets did draft Blair Thomas.

But it is too early for the 2006 draft predictions (unless you are Mel Kiper Jr. By the way, who the hell is Mel Kiper Sr. anyway?), especially with the Patriots sitting at 7-5 as the only team over .500 in the AFC Least. While the game was not especially pretty, what with the slipping and sliding, penalties, and field goals aplenty, the Patriots FINALLY had a game where the offense was not bailing out the defense. Was it mere coincidence that the Patriots defense looked good after finally bring back the same eleven as the previous week?

Lest anyone forget, Artrell Hawkins is a major stabilizing force in the secondary. This is no Earthwind Moreland, here. Hawkins was a starting cornerback for seven years before an injury cost him his job this summer. The more he plays and picks up the defense, the better they will be (dare I say that the defense is slowly building steam and ready to peak in January like the 1994, 1996, and 2001 defenses? Well, a little consistency would be nice before we start anointing this defense as something of substance, but it definitely is a step in the right direction).

THE GOOD:
* Tom Brady was error-free and, if not for some fumble-fingers in the receiving corps, should have completed almost 90% of his passes.
* Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk were on the field in the same game.
* The defense did not give up a touchdown.
* The run defense did a great job of limiting Curtis Martin to less than two yards a carry.

THE BAD:
* The Pats had some bizarre penalties that killed some big plays (Richard Seymour’s facemask penalty and then the phantom clipping call of Steven Neal).
* The morgue-like atmosphere of the game, as Richard Seymour noted in his post-game remarks.
* Still no big plays on special teams. So far, they are not too special.

THE UGLY:
* The Jets offense. Nuff said.

* * *

PLAY FOR THE TY:

Not much of a rousing return to Foxboro for Ty Law. Since he is due an 11 million dollar bonus payout after this season if the Jets keep him, I cannot imagine he is long for the green and white. Though I doubt he would return to New England, at least it was good to see his career is not over and he can still make the plays. Of course, he also missed the fourth quarter because his foot was acting up, but who can blame him? I happened to miss the fifth quarter on channel 38 and feel good about myself for missing it.

What I expected to happen, which fortunately did not though I had bad dreams about it all week, was the Jets to be up three or six late in the fourth and Brady driving the team downfield. Then, just as he had for the Patriots so many time, Ty Law steps in front of an sideline out, picks the pass, and runs it back untouched for the clinching touchdown. Yup, I definitely let out a little sigh of relief after the Dillon touchdown in the third quarter.

* * *

MORE HATING ON THE JETS:

Where was Dewayne Robertson, the worthy choice at #4 in the 2003 NFL draft, yesterday?

Oh, and do you think the Jets miss Jason Ferguson?

I just think about the Jets needing to clear $30 million in salary this off-season, and Buffalo trying to win with J.P. Losman and smile.

* * *

CHILLED ON ICE:

Nice to see the Bruins back to their old ways. Only took three games.

Does Hannu Toivonen getting a few starts at goal officially mean this is a rebuilding season now?

I just realized the other day that new Bruins defenseman Brad Stuart is on my fantasy hockey team. Shows you how much that league is captivating me. On the downside, I am in two leagues, and in last place in both of them! Someone tell me again why I thought this was a good idea? Now I am one of THOSE GUYS that we bash in baseball and football (i.e. Chazer, this Pittsburg Gorillaz guy should just trade one of us Johan Santana since he has not checked his last-place roster in two months and half his team is on injured reserve). I guess I can be happy I did not get into the fantasy basketball this year. Of course, if I were to play fantasy basketball, I would be like Brigs and play in a league made up of young professionals in Hong Kong. Hey, did they invite you back or what, Brig-looter? Enquiring minds want to know.

* * *

C-ING THINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME:

Celtics show their two sides in loss and win: the All-Pierce Show fails to bring the win, but the balanced attack and big games from Delonte West and Big Perk before they foul out knock off the mighty (cough, cough) Knicks.

Speaking of the Knicks, how long are they going to let Isiah Thomas run that team?

* * *

NEW YORK BASHING - TWO FOR ONE SALE:

Typical Yankees. They sign that relief pitcher from the Braves who gave up the grand slam to Berkman in the playoffs and then gave up the game-winning dinger the next inning to lose it for the Braves yet again in the playoffs. Geez, were Mark Wohlers and John Rocker not available on the free-agent market? I think they can grab Steamer Stanley and Calvin Schiraldi as well if they need some chokers to make Hamburger Helper feel more at home.

* * *

Saturday, December 03, 2005

JUMBO REDUX

Not to beat a dead horse on his way out of town, but I think there is a legitimate comparison to Joe Thornton out in the sporting arena: A-Rod. Here are five reasons:

1. Both are significantly overpaid. Thornton, who the Bruins would have liked to have signed for a pinch less than $5 million per season, had to be ponied-up almost $7 million per season. While not in the stratospheric salary category like Hamburger Helper himself, Thornton commands a lot of money and should realize the expectations that come with such an anointing.

2. Both came into situations as a number one overall pick and an established veteran ahead of them: A-Rod had Ken Griffey Jr. and Jumbo had Ray Bourque.

3. Both have a nasty habit of disappearing in the playoffs.

4. Both have a teammate who is a fan favorite because they hustle, give the extra effort, and appear to deeply care about winning: A-Rod has to deal with Jeter; Thornton has to deal with half the team being looked upon as gritty players.

5. Both have amazing physical skills and put up great individual statistics, but never win when it counts and fail in the clutch when they are needed the most.

They are Mr. May and Mr. October. Of course, Mr. May wants to be Mr. October and vice-versa. If their timing for heroics were reversed, they would both be mythic stars of the sports pantheon.

* * *

GANG-GREEN:

Not that I like to brag (after all, I LOVE to brag) but I occasionally make an exception (as I withheld from spouting off about how the Pats smacked around the Falcons earlier this year to my Falcon loving nephew Ed Hall and Falcon loving pal Erik Love over at Falcons Daily); however, this is no time to rest on my laurels. I have been shouting on this blog since its inception last winter than the Celtics need to take Big Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins and put them out on the floor until they foul out on a nightly basis. Big Al, of course, had his break-out performance in the playoffs against Indiana, but Perk was stuck biding his time behind the Tin Man (aka the Mark Blount). But what a show Perk put on against the mighty 76ers (not the sarcasm dripping as I type the word mighty) as he put up a Bill Russell/Dave Cowens line: 12 points and 19 rebounds before fouling out.

Is there any reason not to put Perk out on the court every night? Sure, 12-19 is not likely to happen again soon, and I would be ecstatic if he consistently put up a 6-9 line every night the rest of the way. Let me be clear: the Celtics may make the playoffs and win a series this year, but they are not championship contenders by any stretch. This team needs to develop Big Al and Perk, along with Delonte West, Tony Allen (if he can stay out of trouble. Crap. I never should have written that. New I am on his list. He will walk by with his entourage and see me now, and say: F#$& that guy up!), Gerald Green, Orien Greene, Ryan Gomes, and, if he ever returns, Marcus Money Banks. Dan Dickau, Raef LaFrentz, and Mark Blount are objects to be traded at the appropriate time - nothing more, nothing less. Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce are the building blocks to build around. Play the kids now, reap the rewards later. This seems to be the Patriots plan right now, and if you have to imitate anyone at all: why not the Pats?

* * *

YOU KNOW CURTIS AND TY, AND ALL OF THOSE GUYS:

The time is now, Bill Belichick. Is it 2001 or 2002? Is this Patriots team ready to turn it on and win some confidence back right now.

OK, the truth: I hate the Jets. It makes me sick for a week when the Pats lose a game to the Jets. I just want to watch the Herm Squirm non-stop from 4:15 until the end of the game: that face he makes as the game slips away and he looks like he just took a giant-sized dump in his adult diaper.

* * *

Arsenal 3 Rovers 0

After coming from a 3-0 spanking the Bruins laid on the Ottawa Senators, I was still in the mood to watch a little more sport. I turned to my faithful TiVo, where my weekly dose of EPL waited. The match, Arsenal Gunners at home vs. Blackburn Rovers. A very well fought match on both sides started with an early goal by Arsenal's young phenom, the super-emotional Fransesc Fabergas. The Rovers weren't bending over at this point, they had the fight still in them. They pressed on and kept the Arsenal squad on their feet as several shots by Steven Reid and Craig Bellamy threatened to knot this game up. However, the Frenchman Thierry Henry laid in a pretty masterful goal at the end of the first half to make it 2-0. The second half was very scrappy, with Bellamy and Reid making lots of chances for themselves and for the Rovers. The 60th minute saw the return of Blackburn's David Thompson, who, despite being rusty, booted some solid shots towards goal. However, at the end, the Dutch youngster Robin van Persie, laid home the coup de grace, and a sweet shot, to stick the fork in the underachieving Rovers. Still, a
well-played match all around. As is typical with an Arsenal game, minor altercations occurred between the teams on the field, but nothing that got out of hand. Man-baby Arsene Wenger has certainly put together a talented team, it's too bad they are so easy to dislike.

Some up-and-coming stars to look out for: Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen - the quick Norwegian has the potential to be a dangerous attacking midfielder from the left side, and you can look for him to only improve in the next few years; Arsenal's Robin van Persie - 7 goals in 7 games, you do the math; Rovers' Craig Bellamy - this kid is quick and athletic, I think Arsenal really underestimated him, he's going to do great things at Ewood Park. Duds? Paul Dickov of the Blackburn Rovers - retire, already, won't you?

-Christopher J. Brigham

Friday, December 02, 2005

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM FOR AN IMPORTANT NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT

So the Bruins finally make the cover of the sports pages by Jumbo Joe Thornton. I, who was stupid enough to draft Thornton in the first round of my NHL Fantasy League, can finally exhale as I no longer will be cursing while I watch highlights of Thornton NOT stepping up when the game is on the line. Joe has all the skills, all the size, and all the tools to be a special (i.e.: Mark Messier, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, etc) player in the league. Instead, Joe prefers to skate around behind he net, hang out around the blue line, and otherwise do everything except become the next Cam Neely.

In a way, that was the biggest problem with Joe. He was not Cam Neely, nor was he Phil Esposito. Joe was never mixing it up in front of the net and slamming in a rebound to give the team that desperately needed goal. Where was Joe when the team needed him most? Invisible. Thornton, in the eye of the public, had finally got to where everyone thought he had was ready to go when he had his break-out season in 02-03 after five middling pro seasons. Of course, he promptly followed it up by totally disappearing in the playoffs as the Bruins got wiped out in the first round. In 03-04 his numbers dropped off significantly, and in this season, although the numbers were there, the maddening inconsistency remained.

Though I am not overwhelmed by the players the Bruins received back for Joe, really, it is the going rate. I equate it to a team trading out of the first round of the draft in the NFL. Sure we gave up the first round pick, but we got two second round picks and a number fourth round pick. None of the three (Brad Stuart, the defenseman; Marco Sturm, the left wing; or Wayne Primeau [no, not Keith], the center) are as talented offensively as Thornton. In 03-04 and again this season, their combined stats are close to Thornton’s total stats: Joe has 9 goals and 24 assists this year; the trio has 11 goals and 23 assists combined. In 03-04 Joe had 23 goals and 50 assists; the trio had 39 goals and 70 assists.

The trade serves two purposes: It sends a clear message to EVERYONE on the team that they are all playing for a job right now; furthermore, it gets rid of the albatross contract and continued sad puppy attitude Joe Thornton brought to the team and allows for them to bring in some parts to help make the whole stronger. If Patrice Bergeron kicks his game up a notch as the number one center, and if the trio brings improved defense (Stuart), second-line scoring (Sturm), and grit on the checking line (Primeau), then the trade is good for the Bruins.

Make no mistake, Joe had to go. I was waiting all year for this trade, and am glad the Bruins had the guts to gut the team.

* * *

EVERYTHING JUST FALLS APART, AND THEN I GET TO TRY TO PUT IT BACK TOGETHER:

I am far from off the bandwagon, but I am really getting concerned about the Patriots this season. Yes, I have been concerned along with everyone else since the rocky start and the injuries that have piled up at a staggering pace. However, there is a shining light at the end of the tunnel: The Jets, The Dolphins, and The Bills. New England not getting a home playoff game in the first round would be akin to the Colts losing to the Texans: it is possible, but it sure is not likely!

Here is a quick breakdown regarding the offensive and defensive breakdowns:

Bill Belichick, Head Coach: Has he spent too much time mentoring the offense? Should he hand the reigns to Dante Scarnecchia and Josh McDaniels as co-offensive coordinators and concentrate on helping freshman defensive coordinator and former boy wonder Eric Mangini put together a defensive plan that calls for something other than slow developing blitzes and playing cornerbacks fifteen yards off the line of scrimmage? Replacing Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel was not supposed to be easy, but I never thought it would be this difficult.

Tom Brady, Quarterback: Forget about last week against the Chiefs. Brady has one of those games every year: 2001 versus the Broncos where he threw four picks; 200 versus the Jets where he frittered away the chance for a the playoffs; 2003 versus Buffalo on the opening game of the season & where he failed in the fourth quarter against the Redskins; and 2004 against the Dolphins on Monday night. This year, he was due to have one bad game, and he unfortunately had it against the Chiefs and their improved defense. Nine times out of ten, Brady would have done enough to beat the Chiefs despite the porous defense. Heck, just ask the Steelers about how Brady single-handedly wore them down earlier this season. Brady is not the problem, in fact, he is the saving grace.

Corey Dillon, Running Back: A wise man from New Jersey named Duane once said that if you are not playing you are dead to the coach. Until he gets back on the field, Dillon is not too old, he is non-existant. A healthy Corey Dillon gives the Patriots a chance to win on the road in January.

Deion Branch, Wide Receiver: Not that I am picking on the reigning Super Bowl MVP, but was I wrong to think THIS was the year for 90 receptions, 1350 yards, and 10 touchdowns?

Nick Kazcur/Logan Mankins, Offensive Left Tackle/Offensive Left Guard: Sure, they should be learning on the bench, but this is the NFL and it is December. There are no more rookies.

Ty Warren/Jarvis Green/Richard Seymour/Vince Wilfork, Defensive Line: There is a player on the other team who has the football. Try tackling this player, be it the running back or the quarterback.

Rosie Colvin/Willie McGinest, Outlide Linebackers: Getting blocked out of the picture by fullbacks and tight ends on running plays is not pretty to watch. Nor is seeing the two of you arrive at the QB after he has already thrown the ball downfield. Time to pick up the pace.

ASSORTED MEMBERS OF THE SECONDARY: NOTHING LEFT TO BE SAID!

* * *

NOTE TO SELF:

We really did trade for Josh Beckett. This was not a dream. Please stop pinching self.

* * *

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Boy, you get a promotion at work and they expect you to actually work. What the heck is the deal with that! Seriously, as I write this on the train ride home from the city, I am just past the ten month anniversary for BostonSportPage.com and just want to thank everyone who stops by for some good old-fashioned New England ranting and raving. The number of readers goes up each month and I am totally blown away on a consistent basis by how many people actually stop by the site. So thank you to all of you reading, and especially thanks to the hottest webmaster on the planet, my wife Kathy, for all her hard work on the site design and promotion. I love you, babe!

* * *

And now, a little something that needs a consistent name, but basically is the occasional clearing out of all the little yellow sticky notes stuck to my laptop when I get an idea that I want to comment on, but does not tend to warrant a full extrapolation:

THE BIGGEST FREE AGENT SIGNING OF THE OFF-SEASON:

A.J. Burnett will end up in St. Louis. I have no real reason, just a hunch that the Redbirds realize they are a number two starter away from making the World Series and the window is closing rapidly in front of their eyes.

* * *

4-4-3:

Romeo, oh Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? Why is the Ravens, with a depleted secondary plays the 4-4-3 (4 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers, and 3 defensive backs) and the Patriots trot out six different safeties? I want Bruschi 15 yards off the ball decapitating wide receivers already! Is there a reason the Pats cannot play a 4-4-3? Exactly, they did not think of it. Get out there and do it already!

* * *

MY MANNY TRADE:

Manny to the Mets via Oakland. The Sox get Barry Zito from the Athletics and Cliff Floyd and his huge salary from the Mets, the Mets get Manny, and Oakland gets Lastings Milledge and a couple more prospects from the Mets and the Sox (not A+ prospects from the Sox, however). So the Sox get Zito and Floyd; the Mets get Manny; and Oakland gets their prospects. Alas, it makes too much sense.

* * *

I WANT CANDY:

But not the Kandi-man. If Michael Olowokandi joins the Celtics, I quit. No more FSN for me. I mean it.

* * *

SORE ABOUT SORIANO:

Hey, I am all for it: Alphonso Soriano in centerfield is a great fit for the Red Sox. Bring on the Rangers GM. I have Trot Nixon and Bronson Arroyo just dying to play in Arlington, TX.

* * *

J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS:

I’ll play Beavis right now: Brooks Bollinger, that guy, like, sucks. Heh-heh-heh.

* * *

MORE TIKI PLEASE:

No, not the email my wife is sending Giants coach and former Boston Catholic coach Tom Coughlin, but rather there is apparently room in the greater New Jersey area for more than one Tiki/Tike as the Flushing Mutts acquired Tike Redman from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sadly enough, in September when the Mutts are coasting into another 82-80 finish and Pedro is already in the Dominican eating plantains, Tike Redman will be looked on as the best move of the winter by Omar Minyana.

* * *

YANKEES OFFSEASON OF JOY:

No B.J. Ryan. No Billy Wagner. No Flash Gordon. No Trevor Hoffman (likely). No bullpen bridge to Mariano Rivera to hold off the charging Blue Jays and Red Sox. Sweet.

* * *

WILL YOU BE MY FANTASY:

If Heath Miller had been held to 2 receptions for 24 or less yards in the Monday night game, I would have won my fantasy league head-to-head match-up with my brother-in-law Tim. Miller’s stats: 4 receptions for 26 yards. Yes, that was me that woke up the neighborhood with the GOD-DAMMIT FREAKING ROETHLISBERGER FIND A WIDE RECEIVER ONCE-IN-A-WHILE YOU OVER-RATED CHUMP screaming last night.

* * *

THE SAD STATE OF HOCKEY IN THE HUB:

The amazing thing is not that Jumbo Joe has 23 assists for the Bruins, but that the team has scored 23 goals this season. I expected this team to come out of training camp flying down the ice and putting 40+ shots on goal each game. I thought that visiting goalies would be circling the Bruins game as the one where their hamstring would be a little tight and they would throw the back-up out there to face the barrage. Instead, I see a team that is horrible on defense, cannot mount any type of attack unless they have a power play, and cannot score with consistency unless they have a two man advantage.

Twenty-five games into the season, and other than Jumbo Joe and Sergei doing their usual quiet and consistent non-leadership roles, everyone else, AND I MEAN EVERYONE, has been a disappointment. Glen Murray is inconsistent and appears to be playing with the ghost of Ulf Samuellson hanging onto him, Brian Leetch has been injured, the kids have played like kids on defense, Hal Gill is the equivalent of a orange cone on the ice, does anyone know if Zhamnov is actually on the team or off in a bar in Russia counting his rubles, and what ever happened to Patrice Bergeron? This team needs to be ripped apart and rebuilt immediately. The good will is gone. Come March, with these same bozos on the ice, the Garden crowd is going to look like that of a Pee-wee hocky game: a bunch of fans massed around the red line and a few stragglers out in the cheap seats.

Fire the GM. Fire the Coach. Trade off the players like Thornton, Samsonov, Murray, Leetch Gill, and Slegr. Rebuild the franchise on the fly is what I say.

* * *

Monday, November 28, 2005

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Ahh, vacation: always ruined by returning to work and the pile that accumulates on the desk while you are gone. Six cups of coffee later, I am finally ready to get to work. A quick review of everything that went on since I last checked in on the old BostonSportPage:

BARTENDER, SEND ME OVER A BECKS:

An early Christmas present to the fans of Boston and particularly my wife Kathy as her favorite fantasy league pitching star, Josh Beckett, joined the Sox along with a gold glove third baseman with twenty-five home run and fifty doubles power at Fenway Mike Lowell, and just for good measure, set-up man extraordinaire, Guillermo Mota. What did the Sox give up? Three fringe prospects and a twenty-one year old shortstop who may, or may not, be the Nomar. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, baby! I would have given that package up, plus Arroyo and Nixon, just for Beckett. Heck, I would have given that package up just for Lowell and Mota!

Beckett, outside of Mark Prior, Johann Santana, and MAYBE Kerry Wood and Dontrelle Willis, is the type of young, stud #1 pitcher you give away the store for in a heartbeat. Yes, I would say Prior and Santana are the only two pitchers I would take ahead of Beckett if I were building a team around a young #1 starter. I mean, this guy has the ring already, has the swagger, and just needs Moises Alou to send over some of his patented blister prevention concoction i
Ahh, vacation: always ruined by returning to work and the pile that accumulates on the desk while you are gone. Six cups of coffee later, I am finally ready to get to work. A quick review of everything that went on since I last checked in on the old BostonSportPage:

BARTENDER, SEND ME OVER A BECKS:

An early Christmas present to the fans of Boston and particularly my wife Kathy as her favorite fantasy league pitching star, Josh Beckett, joined the Sox along with a gold glove third baseman with twenty-five home run and fifty doubles power at Fenway Mike Lowell, and just for good measure, set-up man extraordinaire, Guillermo Mota. What did the Sox give up? Three fringe prospects and a twenty-one year old shortstop who may, or may not, be the Nomar. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, baby! I would have given that package up, plus Arroyo and Nixon, just for Beckett. Heck, I would have given that package up just for Lowell and Mota!

Beckett, outside of Mark Prior, Johann Santana, and MAYBE Kerry Wood and Dontrelle Willis, is the type of young, stud #1 pitcher you give away the store for in a heartbeat. Yes, I would say Prior and Santana are the only two pitchers I would take ahead of Beckett if I were building a team around a young #1 starter. I mean, this guy has the ring already, has the swagger, and just needs Moises Alou to send over some of his patented blister prevention concoction (I am sick already just thinking about it. Readers, NEVER shake hands with Moises if you run across him at a ballyard. The blister prevention method of Mr. Alou? Soaking his hands in his own urine. I kid you not.).

Usually the person I would feel for in this situation is Yankees GM Brian Cashman, but since he signed the deal with the devil just a month ago, the blasting he has likely been receiving from Herr Steinbrenner is well-earned and deserved. He had his chance to run to San Francisco or Boston, and chose the almighty dollar. All pity for the man has evaporated. I just want to see the Yankers trade for Javier Vazquez again and then tell everyone this is the guy we really wanted all along just like they did when the Sox stole Schilling from under their noses.

Now the Sox have to deal with the disgruntled veterans: Manny and Boomer. Somehow, I do not see Manny being traded. Mike Scioscia, after dealing with Jose Guillen in 2004, likely wants no part of the Manny Show. Cleveland has already said no thanks. The Dodgers, Mariners, and Giants want no part of that outrageous contract, which leaves the Mutts, who already have Carlos Delgado playing the role of disgruntled star. Besides, what are they going to send over to the Sox that they would want back? David Wright? Sure, we will take him but he is untouchable. Anna Benson? Sure, I would say yes in a heartbeat, but does she include Derek Lowe Jr, I mean her husband, Kris the Underachiever and his huge salary? Carlos Beltran? Umm, no thanks, we are trying to unload the overpriced contract, not pick up a new one for the next six years.

Boomer, on the other hand, wants to go to San Diego. Too bad Kevin Towers does not have much interest in making a move to bring him back. San Diego has some good young pitching and Dave Roberts or Jeff Burroughs kid Sean, but why would they part with it for Wells who is likely a one-year and out starter. Sure, the division title is theirs to claim again with less than 90 wins, but do they think they can compete with St. Louis, Houston, Philly and Atlanta with Wells? If the Padres wanted him so bad, Wells would never have left the World Famous San Diego Chicken behind and come to Boston in the first place.

Becks, Schilling, Papelbon, Lester, Clement, Wells, Arroyo, and Wakefield. That is a good looking staff right now. Figure Lester in AAA this season, Wells eventually traded or on the DL, and that leaves Arroyo as trade bait to package with Trot Nixon for a power-hitting outfielder to bat fifth or sixth in the lineup behind Ortiz, Manny, and maybe Lowell.

* * *

THE MINUTEMEN MAKE THEIR STAND:

The Poor Patriots: losing games like it was 2002 all over again. For all those people jumping off the bandwagon, remember that this team reloaded in 2003 and got back on their winning ways. I see no reason why this team cannot do the same. Here is what I see the Patriots needing most this off-season:

1. An infusion of youth, speed, and playmaking at linebacker. No more Monty Beisel or Chad Brown to temporarily fill a gap. A high draft-pick on a playmaker in the middle will make a difference.

2. A run-stuffing veteran for the defensive line. Where is Keith Tractor Traylor when you need him? The Pats need a wide-body to put next to Big Vince and play a 4-3 to stop the run when necessary.

3. A replacement for Rodney Harrison in the secondary. Somewhere, somebody will make the same mistake San Diego did by releasing Harrison this offseason. Now, the Patriots need to be ready to leap and grab this guy immediately. No more letting John Lynch slip out of their grip and get to Denver. The Pats would be 8-3 or 9-2 with Lynch in the secondary.

4. A real wide receiver to go along with Deion Branch. Not a collection of 3 or 4s, but a legitimate number two receiver via a high draft pick (and not a raw reach like Bethel Johnson) or free agency.

5. A few healthy guys next season. Now, with no one to blame for injuries, it could be a blessing in disguise for 2006 as Nick Kazcur, Ellis Hobbs, Michael Stone, Roosevelt Colvin, Heath Evans, and Russ Hochstein are all ahead of development for next season. With Matt Light, Randall Gay, Guss Scott, Duane Starks, Dan Koppen, Kevin Faulk and Corey Dillon all back later this season or next season, these players out on the field today are the reserves who will provide the team the kind of depth they need next season when they get back to playing Patriots football: i.e., taking away the big plays and explosive players and managing the game so they can pull away in the fourth quarter.

* * *

SEND IN THE CLOWNS:

Yes, the Celtics are rebuilding. Yes, they are a mid-season acquisition from winning the Eastern division. Yes, Mark Blount deserves to be thrown in a pit or hung from his thumbs. Yes, the Celtics need a legitimate scorer off the bench and I still think it can be Ryan Gomes if he gets a chance out there and a little more confidence.

No, I do not want to trade Paul Pierce. No, I do not think that Dan Dickau is going to last the season in green. No, I do not believe we have seen all that Big Al Jefferson can be this season.

Their wins (outside of Houston a few weeks back) have been ugly. Their losses have been discouraging: ranging from not even showing up to play or suffering a heart-breaking loss at the end of the game. There has been a disturbing tendency to play down to their competition, but that is normal in such a young team. Whether Peter May of the Boston Globe wants to believe it or not, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have this team on the right track. It may take a couple of years, but the Celtics are going to be worth the wait.

* * *

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