Friday, October 28, 2005

THE DOOR

Can someone inform Johnny Damon that the free-agency period has begun and to remove himself from the premises as soon as possible? Seriously, the Red Sox need Damon, aka Bernie Williams circa 2005, on their roster the next five years like they need Matt Young in the rotation and Jack Clark batting clean-up.

* * *

RED SOX:

HELP! I NEED SOMEBODY. HELP! NOT JUST ANYBODY:


Time to review the cupboard and shopping list for 2006:

First, the Do not let the door hit you in your ass on the way out group:
CF Johnny Damon: the act was overdone and you are worth three years, 21 million total at the best.
1B Kevin Millar: again, out with the preening, me-me-me media stars. Pedro the Diva, Johnny the Caveman, and Rally Karaoke Guy all out; nothing but ballplayers left on the roster.
3B Bill Mueller: Look, I admire Mueller (even though he does not know how to pronounce his own name), and I like him a lot, but not more than 2 years, $4 million total which is his value. It is finally time for the Greek God of Walks to ascend to the Parthenon.
SP Bronson Arroyo: From chasing jailbait to being trade bait (damn, that sounded funnier in my head than when I typed it. Maybe because I could hear Steven Tyler of Aerosmith screeching J-j-j-j-j-j-jailbait in my head as I am one of the few people who actually bought, listened to, and then re-listened to their 1982 freak show album Rock in a Hard Place, which they made without Joe Perry. The album included Jailbait and a bunch of unlistenable crap about ponies, butterflies, and whatever other visions a coked-up Steven Tyler was seeing when he wrote the garbage).
2B Tony Graffanino: Sorry, Graf, but someone has to go and Alex Not Joey Cora already has a contract.
C Doug Mirabelli: It is now the Kelly Shoppach era. Mirabelli nets a AA pitcher to be named later.
Various Other hanger-ons and assorted fill-ins: crap in, crap out.

SP Jonathan Papelbon: All we are saying, is win twelve games.
SP Curt Schilling: Healthy and wealthy, he goes out of baseball on a Roger Clemens-like high note and then un-retires to pitch two more seasons in Arizona and moon Randy Johnson on his way to the ballfield each day.SP Matt Clement: THIS is the year he will put it all together.
SP Tim Wakefield: He keeps going, and going, and going, and going.
SP Jon Lester/Unspecified Free Agent Starter: I say Lester and keep craking out: the Kids are Alright
SP: David Wells: Hey, no one put a gun to his head and made him sign a two-year contract. Like San Diego will 1. pay him $6 million plus incentives; and 2. trade anyone of value to Boston for him. Sorry, Boomer, but you are stuck in Beantown.
(Bent, you say, there are six starters! Yes, I reply, for three starters 37+ equals a need for more arms.
RP Mike Myers/Unspecified Lefty Specialist: Francona likes Myers, and that is good enough for me.
RP Chad Bradford: Remember, a bad back plus and underhand pitcher equals not too effective. He has ty stuff when healthy, and should be a big boost next year.
RP Unspecified Middle reliever: Someone needs to fill this role. Is Alan Embree back on the juice yet so he can get the fastball back up to 98 and come back? Maybe Danny Graves on the cheap would be a good pickup?
RP Craig Hansen: Yeah, like he will open the season in AA or AAA. Set-up man and future closer in the pen, that is where Hansen will be.
RP Manny DelCarmen: Manny DC should take on the role of young, flame-throwing set-up man from day one out of the pen.
RP Keith Foulke: He will return, he will be effective, and he will care more about how the Bruins are doing. Of course, as long as he is effective, no one will care.

1B David Ortiz/John Olerud: Papi can use a glove and probably will hit better being more in the flow of the game. Olerud is a great fit at back-up.
2B Alex Cora/Dustin Pedroia: Cora is so valuable because he can play 2B or SS. Pedroia is a ballplayer (think David Eckstein with a bit more pop) and is ready now.
SS Edgar Renteria: Obviously, Renteria , so solid for so long, is ready to break out with a big year. I STILL LOVE YA, EDGAR BABY!
3B Nomar
Just kidding.
3B Kevin Youkilis: Make way for the Greek God of Walks. May he develop power to the gaps.

LF Manny Ramirez: He is just too good to trade without a super return (i.e. front-line starting pitcher, starting OF, and prospect.
RF Trot Nixon/Adam Stern: Well, Nixon is hurt all the time, and Stern should get a shot to play once in a while.
CF Free Agent/Trade: I suggest Jacques Jones. Cheap (in comparison to the caveman), developing power, still young, and a solid player already. GO GET HIM!

DH Free Agent to be determined: Why go after a first baseman? Get an outfielder and put Ortiz at first. I suggest Jermey Burnitz as a perfect fit for the role of DH in Boston.

C Jason Varitek: the Captain. Gotta keep him healthy and rested.
C Kelly Shoppach – There is no reason he should sit behind Mirabeli.

* * *

BIZARRO THOUGHTS FROM THE PRIMORDIAL OOZE BETWEEN MY EARS:

* Bruins Win? Do they still play hockey in Boston?

* A lesbian in the WNBA? I am shocked! Next someone will tell me there are lesbians in the LPGA.

* Tedy Bruschi brings one critical thing to the New England Patriots defense that it has lacked this year: Swagger.

* Gerald Green of the Celtics is not Jerome Moiso, nor is he Kedrick Brown, but he is going to be a star.

* Ty Poole of the Pats goes from 50-50 to out for the year? Way to yap your way into the doghouse, Tyrone.

* Is Christian Fauria still on the Pats? He is? Well where the hell has he been?

* See, Corey Dillon has a great sense of humor.

* How long until Brian Cashman and Joe Torre realize that taking the money was not worth the abuse?

* Speaking of Regular Joe Torre, who is going to be mixing his gin and tonics with Melle Mel Stottlemeyer gone?

* * *

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

GENERAL MANAGING

You know you are talking about Boston Sports when the World Series is in full swing and all anyone can talk about is a rumor that Theo Epstein is ready to bolt from Boston.

BASEBALL:

THEO THE SHREWD:

A deep breath everyone on the Theo and the Conscience of the King(s): if he leaves, which I doubt he will, he is a bad gambler. Name any other market where a General Manager stars in Dunkin Donuts commercials, has a legion of groupies (my wife, Kathy, included), gets to rock out with local bands, and works within a T ride of where he grew up. Yeah, I am sure that he will have all this fun, excitement, opportunity, and dollars to spend when he takes the Tampa Bay GM position.

What Theo is doing is exactly what he does on a daily basis: the negotiating game. The closer Theo gets to Halloween, the higher the salary climbs in accordance to the risk that the triumvirate will pull the offer and give the dough to Brian Cashman, who is simultaneously engaged in his own game of contract Russian Roulette (more on Cashman later). Theo knows exactly what he is doing, how he is doing it, and what the likely outcome will be for him. Come November first, Theo will likely be GM of the Red Sox, with a lot more money than he was offered at the beginning of the month and likely a little more firing and hiring power in the front office.

Theo got where he is by working his ass off, being shrewd, knowing when and how to gamble, being the smartest person in the room, and most importantly, knowing how to play the front office game. I think that the screaming bozos on the radio and on TV need to realize that Theo is using them to his advantage right now. Believe me, the man knows what he is doing.

* * *

BALDING, MIDDLE-AGED HIGH PROFILE GENERAL MANAGER HEAVILY INTO S&M AND LOVES TO BE DOMINATED:

How much money does it take to give up all of your self-worth and allow yourself to be abused? Half-a-million? A million? A million-and-a-half? Someone get a hold of Brian Cashman, the GM of the Yankers, and find out. Cashman is a very good General Manager, as near as anyone can figure out when they separate the Steinbrenner moves from his role as GM. Why this man takes the abuse he takes from Steinbrenner is beyond me. In fact, I wonder why anyone in the organization sticks around.

Cashman seems wrong for the Yankees: he is controlled, intelligent, and well spoken. I hope for his sake he leaves the Bronx Zoo and allows Steinbrenner to find someone as out of control as he is so we can start getting Yankees front office fistfight updates in the papers. Heck, make Reggie Jackson the GM, that would be entertaining enough right there.

* * *

WHIRLED SERIOUS:

I must say, I am glad I did not see Houston tie the game. I turned it off after the Roy Oswalt meltdown when the Fox executives started jumping out of their offices and splattering to the ground below. Houston, down three games to none, sends out Brandon Backe to try to stave off elimination. If by some miracle the series gets extended, which I hope it does, it will be a beautiful sight to see Roger Clemens on the mound one last time as he, in keeping with his character, promptly gets hammered in the playoffs and blames it on an injury as he rides off into the sunset (sniff, it brings a tear to my eye).

Of course, if this game started just an hour earlier on the East Coast and did not feature a bazillion walks, maybe the audience would have stuck around for the conclusion, but as I stated the other day, that is simply not going to happen anymore. TV rules the World Series, and that is fact.

Also, I will gladly accept checks, money orders, and IOUs from all the White Sox fans (OK, both of you) for jinxing the Houston Afros by throwing my support fully behind them. Astros fans, if any actually exist, can feel free to send over the hate mail, as it is so much more entertaining than the spam I usually read.

* * *

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Brigstah in da House!

Ed. Note: Please welcome the one & only, oft-imitated and never duplicated, Chris Brigham, the first feature writer EVER at BostonSportPage.com. Brigs has accepted my invitation to come on board as Footy Senior Writer and Head Columnist. As a grad student, he is used to be worked like a dog and having the credit go to someone else, so this must be a perfect fit!

Adieu Adu

It is safe to say, we have seen the last of Freddy Adu as a teen phenom icon in the MLS. His absolutely selfish rantings of late put him in the same category with most NBA stars, although without the bloated contract. I also stand by my belief that the sports media should not interview under-21 year olds in the collegiate or professional sports world. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Adu, getting limited playing time because he is..well..16 YEARS OLD, decided to complain to anyone who would listen about lack of playing time and how that hurts his chance to be seen for Bruce Arena's World Cup squad. Peter Nowak and the boys did the right thing in suspending him for such selfish comments. So much for the team mentality. Now, Adu really wants to go overseas and play for a major European Champions contender, but complicated rules will unfortunately keep him stateside until he's 18. Maybe by then, he'll have grown up a bit. Unlikely.

- Christopher J. Brigham, Footy Senior Writer & Head Columnist

WAITING GAME

Waiting, as in waiting for a resolution to the Theo Epstein contract negotiation saga and the beginning of the hot-stove league; waiting, as in waiting for Roy Oswalt to step-up and kick this world series into another gear as it needs some wins from Houston to get to a six or seven game series; waiting, as in waiting for a Bruins team to emerge and start playing something resembling interesting and inspired hockey; waiting, as in waiting for Sunday night when the Patriots can shake off some injuries and get back to doing what they do best: beat up on division foes; and waiting, as in waiting for the Celtics season to kick-off, as this Green team is young, dynamic, and (believe it or not all you who suffered through the O’Brien era) entertaining.

* * *

WHIRLED SERIOUS:

ASTROS WITH AFROS:

A little shout-out to the largest afro this side of Oscar Gamble, my favorite early 80s Houston Astro, Enos Cabell. Now down to business. Fox executives no doubt were harassing Bud Selig and begging him to do anything in his power to make certain that the White Sox do not sweep the Astros. Fox needs the World Series to go seven games to recoup the money they would lose compared to last year when they got great ratings, but only for four games. People in Chicago do not like the White Sox, so how are we supposed to all of a sudden start rooting for that blowhard Ozzie Guillen and his Carl Everett led collection of pug-uglies.

I was kind of non-committal at first as far as who I wanted to win (quick note: Red Sox, and if they are not in the World Series I traditionally root for the National League team, as playing all those AL teams tend to skew me against them). Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe of course has to go out and write his proposition for a new book, I mean his Cursed is the White Sox like Nothing Seen Before column, which only further turned me off the notion of rooting for Chicago even more. Sure, I have little love for the Astros considering they have Roger the Dodger Codger and Andy, why did I not pick him up off waivers in April in fantasy baseball, Pettite. But I have always liked Craig Biggio and his style of play, as well as Jeff Bagwell for making himself into the great power hitter he became.

But I think back to the early eighties, where my love of baseball blossomed, and remember Terry Puhl, Art Howe, Enos Cabell, Jose Cruz, Joe Sambito, Joe Niekro, and the rest of those great Astro teams in their rainbow colored uniforms and think that this team, rather than the Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines led White Sox teams of the early eighties is the franchise I like the most. Sorry, Ron Kittle, Greg Luzinski, LaMar Hoyt, and Richard Dotson, my heart goes to the Astros.

Of course, as a side note, on an all-star team in Little League at about 1986 as I was twelve (I think I need Mike Mills to back me up on this one), due to budget constraints, the town somehow got their hands on some uniforms on the cheap that were remarkably similar to the Houston Astros rainbow-colored duds. I remember getting dressed up in that uniform and feeling like a major leaguer. Of course, it would have been nice if I had played like a major leaguer, having been relegated to second base due to lack of arm strength and possessing a quick, Wade Boggs-esque bat (i.e. no power, spraying singles around). How I made that team, I will never know. I think the coach was surprised I was there as I certainly seemed like an afterthought, barely playing more than a few innings in a mop-up role at second. Looking back on it, I was at a point in my development where my mind was ahead of my body, which was still not up to the level of the pituitary gland monsters that towered over me at that age. Fortunately, I had Ted Williams, or at least his Science of Hitting book, which certainly helped me compete. Without that and my Dad throwing thousands of batting practice pitches, I cannot imagine how I ever made it through Little League with any measure of success what-so-ever.

* * *

NFL:

TUNA ON THE SIDE, PLEASE:


How about them Cowboys? Or, should I say, how about that Drew Bledsoe comeback? Of course, I was lamenting the fact that the Seahawks had no offense which rankled me to no end with Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck figuring prominently on my team. Nothing from Alexander and interceptions dragging down the points I should have had from Hass. With Seattle on a bye this week, I have to hope that my backup QB, Eli Manning, builds upon his fantastic finish against the choking Broncos.

What a loss by San Diego against Philly. Are we sure this is the same team that dominated the Pats just a few weeks ago? LaDainian Tomlinson held to seven yards (on seventeen attempts!) and losing the game on a blocked kick returned for a TD? That is painful!

Miami fails to show-up for Friday night, the Jets get humiliated on national TV Monday night, and the Bills get beat-up by the Raiders of all teams. The Raiders, king of the underachievers this season. All this, plus Washington putting up 52 on the 49ers. Granted, it was San Francisco, but I doubt the Redskins will score 52 total in their next three games.

* * *

HEAD OF THE CHARLES RECAP:

Zzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Rowing? Whatever. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

* * *

Monday, October 24, 2005

PLAYOFFS HERE WE COME

The Bills, the Dolphins, the Jets: BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH! Kelly Holcombe, Gus Ferotte, and Vinny Testaverde are just waiting to lead these teams to the promised land: the promised land of top ten draft picks that is. The Pats have six games remaining against these clunkers; if they screw up any of those six games, it will be because the worse team won. No excuses for not winning any of those games. None.

* * *

BASEBALL:

WHIRLED SERIOUS:

I hate to belabor the point, but these games starting after 8:30 are ridiculous. No way can I stay up that late and then function the next day at work. Of course, baseball will never start games earlier for one simple reason: money. I listened to Dennis & Callahan go back and forth on it and rip Bud Selig all morning, but no one brought up the point that the advertisers want to be in primetime, not 6:30 pm on the East Coast or 4:00 pm on the West Coast: primetime advertising is what the network demands and what the network demands it will receive.

ROGER THE DODGER AND CODGER:

I try to root for Roger Clemens, I really do. I mean, this guy was one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history. He was THE FRANCHISE from the mid-eighties until finally leaving in a well-publicized spat with then GM Dan Duquette. Roger, of course, either gave up on the season in game six of the 1986 World Series, or else then manager John McNamara made a horrible decision to take him out of the game. After going back and forth for years (heck, decades) I finally have decided to blame the both of them equally. Of course, anyone who feels absolved by the 2004 World Series obviously was either not a fan in 1986 or was in a cocaine induced stupor all those years like 1986 New York Met heroes Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.

As far as I am concerned, 1986 remains an open, festering wound. Also, 1988 and 1990 are not much better, and as far as I am concerned, the eye-black wearing, Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtle wearing Clemens deserves much of the blame for not being able to shoulder the burden as a number one starter in the post-season. Also, I do not want to hear about how he won two rings for the Yankees: 1. the fans would have preferred the team kept David Wells, and 2. Clemens was the number three starter at best, if not the number four starter on those strong, deep, solid rotations of Yankees teams of past.

Of course, in between were the years where he left the Sox to be closer to his family in Texas: by going to Toronto. Finally free of the nagging injuries and nagging media, fans, and management in Boston, Clemens came in renewed and in good health and spirits for the first time in years and promptly went back to dominating hitters. I saw the return of the rocket game, his first game back in Boston, where he was a man on a mission. I truly thought he would get 20 strikeouts again that game. He was beyond nasty. Of course, overshadowed in that game, it was probably the greatest game ever pitched by Aaron Sele in a Boston uniform.

Why do I bring up the pain associated with seeing Roger Clemens in a Boston uniform? Because Roger, un-retired for the past two season (way to kick the Yankees in the rear. Roger) is back in the World Series. Big game pitcher that he is, Clemens, who lost game seven of the NLCS for the Astros last season, came up big (as in a big, steaming pile of you-know-what) by promptly exiting after two innings and three runs and, as always, the Rocket was lightning quick to point to a physical malady in his excuse for a bad performance. Gee, Roger, we never heard that one before.

So Clemens despite being one of, if not THE, best pitcher of this modern era that I have witnessed in my lifespan, again lacks the strength of character to match the strength of body, as for the umpteenth time he latches onto the most convenient excuse available rather than stepping up and facing the criticism head-on.

* * *

FOOTBALL:

AFC LEAST:

Was it only three years ago that the AFC East was the best division in football? The Patriots, fresh off their first Super Bowl victory, the Jets, with a rejuvenated Curtis Martin leading a fast, aggressive young squad, and the Dolphins, winning with great defense and overcoming the Lip Hampster of Indecision himself, Dave Wannestadt, at coach. Now, the Patriots, facing the toughest schedule EVER in the first six games of the season (Note: none against any division foe), come out battered and bruised and clinging to a 3-3 record, yet during a bye week move into first place all by their lonesome. Amazing.

THE JETS:
The only team in the division that gripe along with the Patriots as far as injuries are concerned is the Jets. Granted, everyone but GM Terry Bradway knew that Chad Pennington had a right arm made of spaghetti. Of course, the Jets are built for this season, not the future, as they are over $30 million over the cap for next season. Looking at them fumbling, bumbling, and stumbling against Hotlanta, it just further reinforces my claim that Bradway and Herm Edwards is akin to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis running the team. Or is it Laurel and Hardy?

THE BILLS:
When fans are clamoring for Drew Bledsoe in 2005, it is not good. This team had a Super Bowl defense the last few years with a horrible offense. Now, they are slowly eroding on defense, but the offense still stinks. Tom Donahoe apparently is no Scott Pioli as he has been unable to put together a complete team. Oh yeah, JP Losman is not going to improve sitting on the bench and the playoffs are a distant thought.

THE DOLPHINS:
Ricky Williams, Nick Saban, Gus Ferotte, Ronnie Brown, and God knows who else is suffering down in the peninsula. This team needs a dismantling, although I think Saban thinks that the defense is OK and he can quick-fix the offense. Umm, no, sorry Nick. Dismantle the whole she-bang.

* * *

Friday, October 21, 2005

RANDOM SAMPLES

How sad is it that A-Rod has his mommy leap to his defense and get the word out that his post-season struggles this year were a result of his uncle dying? Well, that explains everything. Now if only she could find a reason why he folded-up like cheap origami in 2004 against the Red Sox. It looks like it is back to the couch for another winter of therapy for May-Rod. You know, I always thought he looked like the kind of kid who had the controlling Mommy, no father, and the wife that now takes the place of Mommy by ordering him about, controlling his every movement, and spanking him when he is bad.

* * *

A LITTLE FOOTY FOR BIG BRIGS:

Chelsea is undefeated in the Premiership as once again, but all anyone wants to talk about is Ralph Wiggum, err, I mean Wigan Athletic hanging in second place ahead of Arsenal, Man U and the other powers behind them and the other surprise team, Tottenham. My Toffees sit twentieth in the twenty team division, with one win to seven losses. Hard to believe they finished fourth last season. Old number seven, my brother-from-another-mother Marcus Bent has one of the five goals they have scored this season. But I have faith, they will turn it around and at least finish ahead of Middlesbrough, who just cannot be as good as they have looked.

* * *

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT:

Head of the Charles? Give me the cream of Manchester in a can and wake we when it is over.

* * *

NOT SEEING RED:

The Redbirds fell at last to the Astros. Somewhere, Terry Puhl, Jose Cruz Sr., Joe Neikro, and Enos Cabell are raising a glass-tro to the Astros.

* * *

MANNY BEING MANNY BEING STUPID BEING SENSELESS:

Manny wants out? To Cleveland? Uhh, ok. Give us C.C. Sabathia and Travis Hafner and we will call it even. Yah, somehow I just do not see it happening. The Mets? They have NOTHING we would want (OK, Kris Benson, but mainly because his wife draws more attention than he does.). The Angels? Yah, give us Vladi and Scott Shields and its on. Somehow I do not see that happening.

Sorry Manny, but you have two more years to suffer through the Boston experience.

* * *

BOOMER:

Somehow, David Wells thinks that being 43 and having a six-million guaranteed contract plus incentives makes him tradeable. OK, San Diego, give us Adam Eaton and we will gladly make the deal. Gee, why would that trade not work?

* * *

GOOD-BYE TO A HAL OF A GUY:

It was with surprise that I read the obituary in the Boston Globe on Wednesday of Hal Lebovitz. Lebovitz was a columnist who wrote on the Cleveland sports scene for over sixty years. My notice of Lebovitz came about as a seven or eight year old when I started getting a subscription to the Sporting News. Lebovitz had a column that was called Ask Hal in which he answered questions about various sports rules. Now such a title would be enough to catch my young eyes as other than my Dad, I knew of no one else named Hal. Also, as my older sisters A.J. & Joellyn are still quick to point out, I was a bit of a stickler for the rules and procedures when playing sports as a precocious young lad.

Taking pen to paper (or more likely, pencil or crayon) I immediately whipped off a question to this mysterious other Hal which, immediately after sending, I realized I knew the answer to, and regretted ever having sent it. In fact, I fervently checked his column each week in fear my ignorant question would be printed for the world to laugh at. Fortunately, a letter arrived from the Sporting News with a type-written answer from Mr. Lebovitz himself. I was safe, my ignorance hidden away from the world and exposed only to those who knew me at the time.

The question? Yes, I still remember it, of course. I had asked him if a punter would receive three points for his team by punting the ball through the uprights. Of course, I immediately realized right after it was mailed that, duh, it was a touchback. I should have asked a real question like how many points did a defense receive if they blocked an extra point try and returned it for a touchdown or if they intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble on a two-point conversion try and returned it for a touchdown.

Anyway, after this my letter writing was limited to my letter of sympathy (for his firing) and congratulations (on his hiring by Texas) for former Red Sox manager Don Zimmer who I much admired, and still do admire to this day. Zim, you got a raw deal from the fans here in Boston. I knew that as a kid, which is likely why I sent the letter. The letter (I shudder to imagine what I had written in the flowing cursive writing of an eight year-old) had garnered an autographed picture and, more importantly, it came in an envelope with Texas Rangers stationary (which, yes, I still have in storage). The autographed picture, yeah that was nice. The stationary with the Rangers logo, that was special. Anyway, it may be a little late, but thanks Hal Lebovitz and thanks Zim!

* * *

NICKNAMES:

I may have said it before, but I will say it again: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER do I want to hear David Ortiz referred to as Ortizzle. Like Little Papi, Jon Papelbon, being called Super Bon-bon, these words should never be uttered. I will pull out my Louisville Slugger if need be.

* * *

DIPSHITS:

I am sitting on the train listening to some bozo talk about how the Red Sox should hire Roger Clemens as their pitching coach next year. What the? These people need muzzles. Mandatory muzzles for morons. Clemens as pitching coach, yah, like he would accept or ever even want that job. Now he has moved on to a rant about Lynn Jones being a great first base coach. Huh? This guy pulls more crap outta his ass than the pooper-scooper at the zoo. Ipod, I really need an Ipod to block out these idiots.

* * *

HELPFUL HINTS FOR YOUR FANTASY:

First off, I always imagine her in lace. Oh, sorry, this if fantasy football. My apologies.

Anyway, at this point of the season, you know if your team is in the running, or in need of desperation. In my league, there is no carry-over so I am free to release Deuce McAllister and look for help on the scrap heap (Hello, Mewelde Moore. COME ON DOWN!)

Here are my free, three to snag. Likely, you can get them on the cheap, and now is the time to do so:

1. Kevin Jones, RB Detroit: Eventually, the Lions will replace Joey Harrington and play a healthy Jeff Garcia. Once they have someone who can throw the ball to their talented trio of wideouts, there should be running room aplenty for Jones. Strike now, and laugh later.

2. Stephen Jackson, RB St Louis: Marshall Faulk gets injured EVERY year. This is the Fred Taylor rule. Likely, someone has Jackson and is growing frustrated with his lack of touches (He is a cold bitch. Whoops, I mean, touches of the football. Who the heck set the tone for dirty thoughts?). Jackson will likely be the lead back in three or four weeks so grab him now while you can.

3. Andre Johnson, WR Houston: David Carr just cannot consistently get time to throw the ball to Johnson. Eventually Carr will be beaten down and a new QB will step in and feed the ball to the only receiver who can catch it on the team. Johnson will put up some mad stats because the ball will be coming to him constantly no matter if he is covered or not. Get him now before his 8 catch 150 yard 2 TD game that is coming soon.

BONUS: Larry Fitzgerald, WR Arizona: Hah! I drafted him. What did I tell you? Mad Larry is blowing up and opening things up for Anquan Boldin on the other side of the field. Here is a phrase I never imagined myself writing: Fortunately for me, I got both Arizona receivers in the draft.

* * *

Trade Bronson Arroyo NOW:

Do I need explain this any further? He has worn out his welcome ala his pal D-Lowe. Pack up his cheap salary to a team spending beyond its needs for a quality veteran starter. Strike now while the iron is hot.

* * *

SMELLHORN!

He looked like a dork in pinstripes anyway. If Francona promised to use him as a utility player ONLY, he might be a good insurance policy for Dustin Pedroia. Tony Graff has earned the right to play everyday.

* * *

BUT I LOVE BUSCH:

Can anyone tell me why when they take down Busch Stadium in St. Louis, no one will give Vince Coleman a sledgehammer and tell him to go after the automatic tarpaulin roller. I would pay to see that on Pay-Per-View.

* * *

COONEY:

Finally caught the HBO production of the Larry Holmes versus Gerry Cooney fight. I had never seen the fight but vividly remembered the hype and lead-up to the great white hope. Holmes, the least appreciated great champion ever, destroyed Cooney, who was clearly not in his class. It saddens me to this day that Holmes, after his loss to Michael Spinks, berated the Marciano family and tried to trash Rocky. Lost me forever right there, Larry.

* * *

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

YO, GRAB ME ANOTHER BRUSCHI!

All I ask is that someone head down to WEEI and muzzle John Dennis. I know the whole issue of WEEI entertainment personalities takings sides on issues right or wrong like the debate club, but enough is enough. Bruschi and his family made a decision to play football again, which is no shock to anyone, and the Patriots can do one of three options: 1. Release him; 2. Activate him; or 3. Place him on injured reserve for the season.

* * *

PATRIOTS:

FIXING A HOLE:


Take the top two running backs off any team, their all-pro defensive lineman, their left tackle, their top two cornerbacks, their all-pro safety, and a former Pro Bowl wide receiver and what do you have? The Patriots. Time for an action list of what is not working and how the Patriots need to address these issues (other than GET HEALTHY!):

1. Secondary:
Last season, the Patriots could do no wrong as Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi pointed every Tom, Dick, & Harry who wandered into the Patriots backfield into the right spot to make a play. This year, well, let us just say that these Tom, Dick, and Harrys look like Moe, Larry, & Curley. Duane Starks, a former number one pick, a super bowl champion, has looked unworthy to carry the jock of Earthwind Moreland who at least kept the big plays to a minimum. The fact is that despite the injuries, Duane Starks should be better than Troy Brown at DB and James Sanders should be better than Don Davis at DB.

The important thing to remember is that Bill Belichick is giving Eric Mangini a chance to learn on the job and that will pay dividends later. In a way, this is a rebuilding year as the Patriots mold their defensive backfield for the future (Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, James Sanders, and Eugene Wilson). This unit will improve one way or another be it sooner or later.

2. Turnovers:
Turnovers are like getting hits with runners in scoring position: eventually the stats all even out. Some teams or players can put themselves in a position to create more opportunities, but in the the end it is hard to control this aspect of the game. That said, the Pats defense will be working overtime to get back to creating turnovers. As all teams under Belichick have thrived on turnovers (and why not, each turnover has the potential to be a fourteen point swing).

The turnovers battle needs to be won in order to swing those close games back to the Patriots.

3. Offensive Line:
Injuries and free agency have taken a bite of the Patriots protection plan in front of the Franchise. Playing two rookies on the left side may not be the ideal short-term plan, but in the long run has the potential to be a wise decision. Nick Kaczur and Logan Mankins are both, like defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, in the unenviable position to learn on the job on the fly.

Short-term = bad; Long-term = Amazing opportunity.

4. Defensive Line:
Really, with Seymour out, they should get a mulligan, but Jarvis Green is more than serviceable as a back-up and needs to be held accountable for the failures of he and his young teammates this season. Sometimes you need pressure and a big loss from the d-line, unfortunately, the Patriots have had little pressure leading to fewer interceptions.

5. Interior Linebackers:
Sure, losing Tedy Bruschi, Roman Phifer, and Ted Johnson hurts, but Monty Beisel looks as much as a player as Chad Brown looks lost. Moving Mike Vrabel inside may ultimately be the answer, as hopefully Chad Brown can also make a seamless transition back to the outside and help minimize the moving of Vrabel inside. Bruschi, if he makes it to the field this year, will no doubt be an emotional lift if not actually a major contributor inside.

6: Running Back:
No Dillon; No Faulk; No problem. For a guy that no one wanted, Patrick Pass looked damn good last week. One play, when he took a corner, I would have sworn that it in no way was Patrick Pass. He is a player who has really improved: heck, he is a different player. Good for him, by the way. Another example of finding a quality player buried on the depth chart of a major college program (see: Cassell, Matt: USC).

7: Receivers:
Yes, the tight ends have been non-existent save for the Atlanta game, but that, as we have been told numerous times, is a direct by-product of the offensive line and the need to keep them in to block. David Givens and Deion Branch dropping key passes during the fourth quarter against Denver was inexcusable. Troy Brown being injured hurts the team more than they let on, and the lack of playing time for Bethel Johnson remains strange. Just running him on fly patterns until his tongue is on the ground is enough to make it a 10 on 9 battle for the Patriots against their opponents.

Dropped passes and missed opportunities are a direct result of sloppy play. The whole team has been sloppy, which is unlike the Patriots. Expect Belichick to attempt to remedy that with a back to the basics approach during the bye week.

* * *

Monday, October 17, 2005

LOST IN THE WILDERNESS

I dare all the pundits, prognosticators, and haters: Write off the Patriots. Go right ahead. Declare the dynasty dead and buried. That is just what Bill Belichick wants you to do: all the more words and jive to use to motivate his players.

PATRIOTS:

ANATOMY OF A BEAT-DOWN:


Before the season and anticipating the team to be perfectly healthy within reason, I saw the Patriots headed into their bye week with a 4-2 record. Certainly, I never imagined them with 15+ players with injuries significant enough to put players on the bench for at least one of the first six games and many of those players missing multiple games. Even so, I think as long as they were 2-4 and they would fine for the simple reason that after the bye week the Patriots have one, maybe two, games that they are not going to be clear favorites to win.

Now I know I had said that I was on the Belichick wagon and only went one game at a time, blah, blah, blah. Well, I lied. To use the phrase Walt would attribute to his former neighbor, I am dirty dog. I lied, I do not care, and as a fan/observer/recorder I can go back on what I said as much as I want. So there.

Anyway, other than the Colts, and maybe Tampa Bay, two teams that have pounded on the dregs of the league while the Patriots played playoff teams and powerhouses, the Patriots second half includes pansies like New Orleans and all six divisional games against their traditional rivals who all share one trait: all of the teams have no offense and present little challenge to the Patriots and their supremacy in the league.

The Patriots, unfortunately for all you haters, are going to win 11 or 12 games this season, skate into the playoffs (maybe without a bye as Cincinnati and Indy seem to be in line to grab them right now), and beat-up on a couple of teams that deserve a serious smack-down from the champs (your time is coming, Padres oops Chargers fans, yeah, all four of you!) before going into the Indy Dome and humiliating Peyton Manning ONCE MORE. This is the last hope for Indianapolis before the salary cap spells their doom, and the pain and frustration from a beating from the Patriots will likely be the first step to the downward spiral.

Of course, the Jets are way over the cap by almost $30 million next year and were supposed to be built to win this year. Whoops. Gang-Green, cha-cha-cha.

* * *

COLLEGE FOOTBALL:

THE SECOND GREATEST GAME THESE EYES HAVE WITNESSED:

Right after Flutie versus Miami in THE game, USC versus Notre Dame on Saturday was simply the second best college game I have ever seen (I do not count the classic U Cal versus Stanford Marching Band game since I only saw the highlights). Talk about a fantastic finish! We were all glued to the TV as the game came down to the amazing finish. When Notre Dame scored at the end, even though there was almost two minutes left, I thought the game was over. They were just too pumped and jacked and at home. Heck, I thought there was no way USC would convert the fourth down. When Leinart called the audible on the play and hit that long pass down the sidelines, all I could think was that the boy must have nuts of steel.

Most credit goes to Pete Carroll for keeping his team under control on the sideline as the fans and players for Notre Dame stormed the field after the clock ran down from seven seconds when it should have stopped. Carroll knew exactly what was going on, what was right, and kept his team in the right frame of mind. Where was this Pete Carroll in New England?

Also, great call by Pete eschewing the field goal, faking the spike, and calling the QB sneak. He must have been waiting fifteen years for a fake spike opportunity since Marino pulled it on him and the Jets way back when. (J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets).

* * *

ANYONE ON THE EAST COAST STILL WATCHING BASEBALL?

No? Oh well, some good games out there. Here is hoping for a classic, seven-game see-saw series last seen in 1991 with Minnesota against Atlanta. Maybe this is the year.

* * *

QUICK SHOUT-OUT:

Congrats to Erik Love, of the Atlanta Falcons blog who was kind enough to interview me last week in prep of the Pats-Falcons battle-royale. Erik is celebrating his 5,000 hit, so some very public congrats to him and his site. If you missed the pre-game interview, check it out at his great Falcons-related site at: http://www.falconsdailydouble.blogspot.com/ 2005/10/interview-with-sock.html One more thing, Erik: Pedro will miss six weeks with a shoulder injury next year and doom the Mets. You heard it from me first.

* * *

RED SOX:THEO VERSUS LARRY, 15 ROUNDS:

Is there anyone else nervous that the Sox have less than three weeks to tie up Theo Epstein before George Steinbrenner starts throwing millions of dollars at him to join the NY-TAMPA shuttle? (Typing that reminds me that NY-LON, on BBCAmerica, which I only saw one episode of but totally dragged me in, was listed to be on last night and was instead replaced by the hideous Teen Angels program, which can be loosely described as fat, ugly, snaggle-toothed Brit teenagers acting badly. Wait, what is my page count from the UK? Is it below the Netherlands? OK, we can keep that in there).

Anyway, the very real possibility exists that young Theo will walk on Halloween night. The only GM to lead the Sox to a World Series victory could walk out the door and be gone. Then what? Larry Lucchino in a more active role? Josh Towers promoted to GM? Brian Cashman coming over from the Yankees? The possibilities present a frightening thought.

The good news is that the Sox Triumvirate should be able to keep Theo around with more money and more say-so. It is not likely he will leave, but it is definitely a possibility to prepare for in the coming weeks.

* * *

NESN:

Forget the return of hockey on NESN, what about Ms Hazel Mae? A recent interview on-line with Mae by John Malori on his Media Blitz column (you can find it on the great site put together by Bruce Allen, who I thank for helping further the push for recognition for two of my favorite local writers: Mike Reiss and Chad Finn, at http://www.bostonmediawatch.com) was very interesting. Hazel Mae is apparently well aware of her affect on the half-naked men watching her each morning on NESN. Good for her, I say. She does a good job on SportsDesk, and at least (as far as we know) she is not snogging with Derek Lowe which is a lot more than can be said for some major media female sports anchors.

* * *

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MY OLD MAN WAS BORN TO ROCK / HE’S STILL TRYING TO BEAT THE CLOCK

Babe Ruth had just called his shot, pointing out his home run before he hit it way back in 1932 in the World Series against the Cubs and pitcher Charlie Root. Why is this relevant? Because just around that time my dear old Dad was born. Seventy-three years later and I just wanted to take this time to thank him for all the times he pitched batting practice, caught, hit ground balls, tossed around the football, played HORSE, shot hoops, suffered through 21-18 little league games featuring forty walks, and let me put on the Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, & BC Eagles games. Without you, Dad, there would be no love of sports to pass on to my kids. Thank you again for everything. I love you and hope to be as great a father to my kids as you were to us. Happy birthday, Dad.

* * *

RED SOX:

DECONSTRUCTION DAZE:

I cannot help it: I am giddy with excitement about the possibilities facing the Red Sox this off-season. Much like the Patriots in 2002, the 2005 Red Sox were a flawed team coming off their first post-season triumph in the modern era. The team made some moves, but for the most part allowed sentimental favorites linger on a season too long instead of getting top dollar for them in trade (Alan Embree, Mark Bellhorn, Mike Timlin, Bronson Arroyo, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon). Excluding Nixon, who must have pictures of John Henry from some night no one wants to talk about, all of the players listed above are already, have one foot out, or likely will be gone next season.

Of course, that is good in some regards. Kevin Youkilis finally will get a full season at third base; Dustin Pedroia should take over second base; Craig Hanson will be the key set-up man for Keith Foulke; and Jonathan Papelbon will take over a spot in the rotation (and hopefully Jon Lester will be up as well, with Abe Alvarez in the wings to take over a rotation spot in 2007). David Murphy should get a shot at the center field job, and Damon Buford and Darren Lewis can come in and fill the position for a season if need be (or players of their caliber, as they are a dime a dozen).

Personally, I believe the main goal of the Sox should be to fill centerfield and to find a DH. Big Papi should be out at first base unless Olerud gets some time there and Ortiz can DH those days. It will be easier to find an outfielder to DH than to find a first baseman. Let Papi Play! According to Red Sox front office stat-man the venerable Bill James, Papi is just as good, if not better, than Kevin Millar at first. Remember who gunned out Jeff Suppan at third in the 2004 World Series: Big Papi at first base.

Let the Hot Stove heat up, baby!

* * *

PATRIOTS:

BUCKING BRONCOS:

One more game for the Pats and then the much needed week off. Most importantly, the schedule turns to the cream puffs of the league (well, except for Indy). It will be amazing how much better the defense will look after six games against Buffalo, NY Jets, and Miami and their horrendous offenses (Other games also include Kansas City, and Tampa Bay as well as New Orleans in there as well, as Mr. & Mrs. BostonSportPage will be out to boo Joe Horn in Foxboro right before Turkey Day as we have tix to root on the home team against the lost boys wandering around outside in America. I was looking forward to booing my fantasy league loser deluxe, Deuce McAllister, before he blew his knee out. Now I am stuck hoping Cadillac Williams gets healthy and productive again in a hurry. Three games on my bench = 450+ yards for the Caddy; One game starting = 13 yards and an injury - the one week Do Nothing Deuce gains 100+ on my bench!).

Anyway back to reality, the Broncos present a simple, yet complex, proposition on offense for the Patriots defense. Stopping the running game leads to an over-dependence on shaky quarterback Jake Plummer who is prone to fits of throwing interceptions. Believe me, I skated by with Plummer as my fantasy QB for two seasons before trading him in for Matt Hasselbeck. He is not someone you want to depend upon to win games for you. He is best when the running game is clicking, he can hit his receivers on quick, 7-12 yard routes, and occasionally take a shot deep off the play-action. When forced to throw it up there and win a game, the Jake the Snake Mistakes show up early and often.

Fortunately, the Broncos follow immediately after the Falcons who run a similar trap-blocking run game. With the experience of shutting down the Falcons running game staying in the 3-4 gives the Patriots some familiarity with the chop-blocking Broncos. If the Patriots stop the run early, it could be their first blowout of the season. If the Broncos can run effectively, however, it is the type of game that grind on and be a tough road to hoe. Of course, the scary thing is that Matt Schaub probably did better against the Pats than Jake the Pillow Snake will on Sunday.

* * *

CELTICS:

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES:


First post-season game of the year last night and I almost missed it. If not for Hal (or as his handle is on Tony Hawk ProSkater 3 for Xbox: Hal Dawg. Dad, make sure I am Hal Dawg when we play Tony Hawk!), I would have missed it and instead spent the whole evening with the Angels-White Sox game instead of switching back and forth. Little Hal Dawg says to me, completely out of the blue as he is coloring on the living room floor (well, coloring in his coloring book while lying on the living room floor): Dad, I cannot wait until we can see the Celtics again. All of a sudden it hit me that the Celtics were playing their first pre-season game that night. Zip. Right to FSN just in time for the game.

Good thing I caught the game right from the beginning, because that was the time to catch it. Granted, it was Cleveland and they were playing without LeBron James, but the Celtics looked great out of the gate. Dan Dickau looked like he was born to play for the Green, and it was great to see the ball movement. Granted, it is a little early for this to be a trend, but if Dickau keeps penetrating the lane, drawing defenders, and kicking out to an open Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce, then it could be an exciting season for the Celtics this season.

By the second half, the second and third teams played some sloppy ball, as was expected. Justin Reed looked good on defense, giving the team hope he could become a Bruce Bowen type player off the bench. Ryan Gomes looked good as well, as he seems intent on making the teams that passed on the first round talent (some twice!) pay for their mistake. Gomes looks like he could be the perfect tweener: quick enough to defend a 3 and strong enough to mix it up with a 4 down low; and with a good outside shot to take a 4 away from the basket and the strength to post-up a 3. He gives Coach Rivers a lot of options on offense and defense.

Big Kendrick Perkins was moving people around on the second team like the man-child he is out on the court. Rivers needs to play him until he fouls out every game just to have him on the court. He is a disruptive force on defense and can clean the boards. His best attribute is the toughness and sheer muscle he brings to the court.

Mark Blount did not look like the 2003-04 Mark Blount, but then again he did not look like the 2004-05 Mark Blount either which is a huge plus.

Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis both seemed focused on passing the ball, which is great, and one hopes they keep it up, but it is doubtful that will happen. But, hey, hope springs eternal, right?

* * *

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

QUICK-HIT WEEKEND WRAP-UP

PATRIOTS:

Great win by the Patriots over Atlanta on Sunday. It was a big game against a quality NFC team and we saw a big-time performance by the Patriots offense. Time for a few quick hits/observations:

* Yeah, Tom Brady is just a game manager. He cannot throw the deep pass. Oh yeah, and he is lucky. Whatever.

* I am sure the Falcons fans are all stammering about woulda coulda shoulda if Michael Vick played, but it is time for realistic thoughts: the Patriots had fourteen injured players and the opponent gets a mulligan because of one injury? I do not think so.

* Nice to see the tight ends contribute at last. Of course, the pre-season debate has been resolved at last: What is the difference between Christian Fauria and Jed Weaver? NOTHING.

* Roosevelt Colvin had a sack? Here I was thinking he was released and no one made an announcement. Does anyone know if there is anyway we can get his money off the cap in the near future?

* Denver, a bye week, and then all six divisional games with Indy, New Orleans, and a few more creampuffs tossed in there. Yes, 12 or 13 wins is looking realistic again.

* Welcome back, Bethel. Good to see the long pass to him back in the playbook. Just the treat of him going deep is going to help Corey Dillon so much.

* Speaking of Dillon, I think, barring the leg injury, he looked like the Dillon of old.

* Wow, is the Atlanta O-Line that good or was the Patriots pass rush that bad?

* Where do I send the Get Well VERY VERY VERY Soon cards to Randall Gay and Ty Poole?

* Do you know what the one thing missing from this Patriots team? The big play maker on defense, as a few picks or fumble recoveries at the right time would have finished off the Falcons. Those plays were there the past two seasons, but the Patriots have not found or had the right players to make those big plays this season.

* * *

NFL:

* Hung-over Jets fans still toasting Vinnie this morning, no doubt. Mediocrity never tasted so good. The Jets can feel secure knowing that they ran Belichick out of town by not having the canastas to make him coach when they tried to steal the Tuna, and that they also ran Pistol Pete Carroll out of town before his time as well. Way to go! J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!

* It was a nice weekend to have the dynamic duo of the desert: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin on my fantasy team. Maybe I should trade them both while they are hot.

* Redskins Magic, Go Hogs Go! Umm, forget it already.

* Bledsoe to Glenn. I still do not believe it. I think Buffalo fans would give a lifetime supply of wings to anyone who can figure out a way to get Bledsoe or Flutie back before their defense stagnates like the Ravens defense has in the past couple of years. Yes, that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

* Remember when Bills-Dolphins was THE big game. No, I do not miss it. Marino, Kelly, Thurman Thomas, ugh.

* Eli Manning or Philip Rivers: No, not such a tough choice anymore is it?

* Cowboys over the Eagles, my upset special in my picks league and pick pool (and would have been on the site as the upset special if I had written more and done less household maintenance.)

* It was a good weekend to have Shawn Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck on my fantasy team.

* * *

NCAA:


* USC = 3 in a row. They play like men among children out there.

* Longhorns, baby! Oh yeah! Of course, let me also banter on about how I went to the Longhorn Steakhouse chain on a Saturday night when the Longhorns were playing and neither was the game one nor did I get a discount for wearing my Longhorns cap. Something is wrong there.

* Entertaining win by BC. It was closer than it should have been, but a good game all the less.

* What is the Big East nowadays? How about: The basketball conference. Or: Enjoying that automatic BCS berth while we have it in football because it will not be there much longer.

* You think there are four or five owners in the NFL wondering why Charlie Weiss was not offered an NFL head-coaching squad.

* * *

RED SOX:

* Once the wounds heal, we will recap the season, find out what went right, what went wrong, and start planning for the hot-stove league.

* * *

MISC:

* My Fair Brady on VH1: An entertaining train wreck.

* Who do I complain to at HBO about their late night offerings? Am I going to have to go back to Skinemax?

* Yes, Wallace and Gromit was funny and entertaining and even snuck in some adult humor that would not upset the kiddos. Great job by the Brits once again.

* Thank goodness the Surreal Life 5 or whatever the Janice Dickinson/Jose Canseco/Balki/Omarosa season was called is over. That Omarosa is unbearable to watch; Someone shoot me if I ever turn into that.

* * *

Sunday, October 09, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

First and foremost, happy birthday to Hal the fourth on his fourth birthday. My bouncing baby boy is four today, believe it or not. It seems like there is no way it could have been that long since he came into our lives, so wish the little monkey happy birthday. Hal, my son, I love you and thank you for making your mother & I so proud, so happy, and making us feel so special to have you in our life. Now break out the Rally Weasel Dance so the Sox get some good luck! (To make a long story short for those who do not know it, last year in the playoffs against the Angels, I decided we needed a good luck charm to counter-act the obnoxious Rally Monkey in Anaheim. I figured a weasel would eat a monkey, so I told Hal he was the rally weasel. He immediately started running around in circles and shouting: RALLY WEASEL, RALLY WEASEL! Suffice to say, the Rally Weasel was dragged out of bed against the Yankees a few times to get a little extra good luck in the ALCS after the Rally Monkey was devoured. See, sports brings families together.)

* * *

PATRIOTS:

FALCONS:

I had the opportunity the other night to take part in an interview with a fellow blogger (and fellow Yankees Hater) Erik Love from Falcons Daily (check it out here: http://falconsdailydouble.blogspot.com/2005/10/interview-with-sock.html). Since he was interviewing me for his blog, I decided to take advantage of his vast knowledge of the Falcons to get a little info prior to the Super Bowl XL preview Sunday. Here are some highlights:

BostonSportPage: If by some miracle Vick is not playing, or someone in New England channels the spirit of Tedy Bruschi & knocks Vick out, what's the deal with this Schaub kid? Is he Doug Johnson Jr or can he play?
Erik: A Matt Schaub Question. Wow, thats a first. He can play, but he has never played well before. I wrote on my blog that his career numbers are this: He Completed 33 of 70 passes for 330 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Those aren't pretty. The Pats would eat the kid alive.

BostonSportPage: How come we never hear about Justin Griffith, the FB? I was watching last weeks Falcons game on NFL on-demand and on all the big run plays he was DESTROYING linebackers and tossing around secondary guys. Where the heck did this guy come from? Does anyone appreciate him?
Erik: EVERYBODY APPRECIATES HIM. He was voted the best (blocker) in football, everybody always talks about him. He can catch and run. He is a monster. I think he was a 5th round draft pick. He is the best in the game, but he is a fullback, so what do you expect?

BostonSportPage: Hey, how is Chad Lavalais doing for you guys? He was kicking ass back in college at LSU & I wanted the Pats to get him back in 04.
Erik: Lava Lava has been great. He has about 2 sacks and is making plays. He has been great. I love the Guy.
BostonSportPage: You got him late, like third round, right?
Erik: 5th Round. This is the longest I have gone without hearing Hows Mike Vick!!! Good Job.

BostonSportPage: Since I have Michael Jenkins riding the pine on my fantasy team, when is he going to start catching the ball? All I hear is Finneran this and that from Brigs who is a tall, gangly, white, Villanova alum like Finneran. I really thought Jenkins would be having a huge breakout season
Erik: Jenkins has dropped some bombs and Vick has lost confidence in him
BostonSportPage: Damned Ohio State guys...
Erik: But he is averaging 18 yards per catch, so you have to think he'll get the ball soon enough. And Dez will start so Jenkins will get the ball now because Vick HATES Dez.
BostonSportPage: Is Roddy White dead or something? Does he even get on the field?
Erik: Roddys alive. He just doesn't get alot of snaps. He's caught his first 2 passes last week and was open downfield but Schaub missed him. Dez can block so he plays. Brian Finneran is Mr. 3rd Down.
BostonSportPage: Like Troy Brown for the Pats
Erik: Yea, he was injured. He is now picking his game up. Sunday might be his breakout game. Finn is slow, but big, so he moves the chains and gets TD.
BostonSportPage: VILLAAAAAAAAANOVAAAAAAAAAA!
Erik: You Gettin Crunk!!!

By this point, as you can guess if a pasty-white Yuppie like me gets accused of gettin crunk, it was well past my bedtime and the interview devolved into Keith Foulke, Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez memories, and the mysteries that surround Matt Clement.

Thanks again, Erik, I had a great time and look forward to doing it again before Super Bowl XL.

* * *

RED SOX:

WHEN ITS OVER, THATS THE TIME I FALL IN LOVE AGAIN:

The memories are still too painful. May the baseball gods absolve all sin this week-end. Once the Sox season ends, I can finally start getting ready for the big roster deconstruction and start guessing who goes where for whom and will he be here or there next year.

* * *

PICKS:

I promised them, I know. Look for them tomorrow. My cold streak on picks ended after twenty years in 2001 and I am still hot (that comes from picking the Pats to win the Super Bowl every year since I was eight).

* * *

Thursday, October 06, 2005

NOT GONNA DO IT

Nope, not talking about it. Yes, I saw it. Yes, I saw IT, and NO I am officially not talking about it at all. Nada, no way, nope, uh-uh, sorry, not talking. Red Sox? Nope, never wear them. Usually black, tan or blue. White Sox? Never wear them during the week. Graffanino? Yeah, I think it is a spice in the meatballs used instead of dill. Boomer? Nah, no thunder last night. Pierzynski? Yeah, I usually get a polish sausage out on Yawkey Way. That is the brand name, right?

Nope, definitely not talking about it.

* * *

PATRIOTS:

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA?


Tough road to hoe this weekend on the road against the Falcons for the Patriots. The good news? It is time to play GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS once again. The bad news? Well, there is way too much of it in the Patriots camp this week:

GOOD NEWS: Michael Vick on the Falcons injury list.
BAD NEWS: He is the only one on the injury list! And he is probable. The Pats have fourteen players on the injury list (including Tom Brady and his phantom shoulder injury)

GOOD NEWS: Very few teams run the ball as well as San Diego, now in the Patriots rear-view mirror.
BAD NEWS: Uhh, that one team that runs the ball better than the Chargers? Yeah, it is the Falcons (200+ yards per game).

GOOD NEWS: Vick and his scrambling make up a lot of those 200+ yards per game.
BAD NEWS: Even without his numbers, the Falcons drop all the way to number two. Not a big difference.

GOOD NEWS: To replicate a scrambling quarterback, the Patriots are using Doug Flutie on the scout team.
BAD NEWS: Last I checked, Flutie never ran a 4.20 forty yard dash.

GOOD NEWS: The last time the Patriots were 2-2 they went on to win the Super Bowl.
BAD NEWS: I remember them starting 4-0 the year after the first Super Bowl win and finishing 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Last year, and the year before, and the year before, etc have no bearing on the team this year. Old numbers mean nothing.

GOOD NEWS: The Bills have no QB; the Jets have no QB; the Dolphins have Gus Ferrotte.
BAD NEWS: The Patriots have no one left standing in the secondary, linebacker play is inconsistent, and the D-Line read all their press clippings and forgot to get to work.

GOOD NEWS: The season is still young.
BAD NEWS: The bye is still 2+ weeks away.

* * *

BRUINS:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU THROW A PARTY AND NO ONE SHOWS UP?

The poor Bruins. Back at last, and they get treated like an Ah-Ha comeback tour. Party at the Gah-dehn, and everyone was home watching the Red Sox (wait, I am not talking about that team today). Of course, I admit that I tired flipping stations back and forth to the Bruins game, and went full-time to the sordid affair at U.S. Cellular Field (note to self: stop talking about that game).

ON THE TRADING BLOCK:

Joe Thornton. Joe Thornton. Joe Thornton. Damn Joe Thornton. Can someone tell me why I, with the number one pick in the fantasy hockey draft, would grab a chump like Jumbo Joe? Do I like pain and suffering? The anguish of him skating in circles instead of planting his ass in front of the net. Has the man never seen Cam Neely park it and poke it in? Yo, Tommy, send back that trade offer!

* * *

MORE TO COME:

Tomorrow, I will try to get back into making some picks for Sunday so everyone can enjoy in my humiliation. Also, I am hoping to get a chance to really dig into this Atlanta Falcons team, as they are right now looking like the NFC super bowl representative.

* * *

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Opening Day

Hockey Returns to the Hub! Yee-hahh!

RED SOX:

HOW I HATE THEE, WHITE SOX; LET ME COUNT THE WAYS:

1. Ozzie Guillen: I did not like him when he played, and I do not like him now. Loud, obnoxious, self-serving, and arrogant: everything that fans clamor for in a manager; however, it is everything that wears thin most swiftly and leads to a ticket out of town.

2. Frank Thomas: I could care less that he is out injured; somewhere, Lincoln Jarvis is cursing the Big Hurt and wondering why he bought 500 rookie cards (Much like the Gregg Jeffries rookie card fiasco). Frank Thomas has been the biggest waste of salary and space since Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle.

3. Scott Podsednik: Remember that kid in little league, or Babe Ruth league, or high school who could not hit a lick, but always started in center field, hit lead-off, and chewed tobacco at the age of fifteen? Yeah, everyone knew someone like that, and Podsednik was the one who made it to the majors. What Kevin Millar needs to do is when the pitcher throws over to first base to keep Podsednik close, he needs to start slapping that tag right on his knee to slow him down a bit. By game three there would be a nasty bone bruise and Podsednik would be going nowhere.

4. El Duque, Contreras, Jurassic Carl: Anyone related in anyway to the Yankees makes the list. Special mention for Jurassic Carl Everett as he will never be forgiven here in Boston. NEVER!

5. A.J. Pierzynski: Like Frank Catalanotto of the Blue Jays, he and his obnoxious hustling and nasty attitude belongs on the Red Sox. Could someone tell me why the Red Sox panicked, re-signed Doug Mirabelli, and then bid against themselves for Varitek? They should have signed Pierzynski the Polish Sausage and then hard-balled Varitek down to $6 million a year. Then, when Pierzynski caught Wakefield and occasionally gave Varitek a day off, he could DH on the days he was not playing and Big Papi could play first base. Kevin Millar would then have been traded to Kansas City for Graffinino.

The hatred inside me is growing stronger. Like Oakland in 2003, this White Sox team is really starting to annoy me. If only they had Jeremy Giambi, then I could really hate them.

* * *

MONEYBALL VERSUS SMALLBALL:

If you have not read the greatest baseball book of the century, Moneyball by Michael Lewis, then I cannot stress how much you are missing out on a fantastic look at the game of baseball through the eyes of Oakland GM Billy Beane, who is truly a visionary. To think that hard-line, old-time baseball fans, players, executives, etc continue to miss out, miss the point, or miss the opportunity to see into the mind of Beane boggles my mind. Every executive rushes out to get the book and throw quotes around when Jack Welch writes a new book, but they scorn and ridicule Beane when his story is presented. Joe Morgan has earned all the scorn he receives for his short-sighted views towards Moneyball, Billy Beane, statistical analysis, and computers and their roles in Baseball. Fire Joe Morgan, indeed!

Anyway, the Red Sox, led by Moneyball disciple Theo Epstein, are matched up against the White Sox and the anti-Moneyball, Ozzie Guillen. Go Red Sox, Go. Prove Joe Morgan wrong again for us, please. PRETTY PLEASE?

* * *

PATRIOTS:

HOW THE SEASON IS GOING TO TURN AROUND:

1. Tom Brady needs time to set-up in the pocket, plant his feet, and make his throws. He is not Bledsoe back there, and he can slide forward or to the side to avoid pressure, but throwing with defenders coming at him untouched limits his effectiveness. Yes, Tony Eason would have simply crumbled in the face of such pressure, but Brady does need more than three-tenths of a second to get off a very good throw.
The Good News? Dante Scarnecchia is the da man, and the O-Line will be grooving by the time the bye week is upon us.

2. Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Dante, and Tommy Ballgame need to commit to the running game early and often. Corey Dillon needs to haul the rock 25 times a game. NEEDS TO, I repeat, needs to haul it that many times. He is not Brian Westbrook, Dillon needs to get the ball enough to wear down the defense and then beat them into submission through-out the fourth quarter.
The Good News? Belichick knows this and is likely working on it as we speak.

3. Richard Seymour, Big Vince Wilfork, and Tyrone Shoelaces Warren need to deflate their heads and lose the giant egos that appeared after the Pittsburgh victory. The crappy offensive line of the Chargers pushed them all over the field on Sunday.
The Good News? It is likely still ass-kicking time by the Patriots coaches as you read this as the d-line is getting worked like dogs this week.

4. Duane Starks and Chad Scott played worse than Earthwind Moreland and Hank Poteat last season.
The Good News? Re-read the line above: IT DOES NOT GET ANY WORSE THAN THAT! I CANNOT PLAY WORSE THAN EARTHWIND AND HANK! OK, the good news, though, is that Ty Poole and Randall Gay should be back soon. Especially with Gay out, the Pats secondary is not making the big plays. Gay should help with that immediately.

5. Bill Belichick needs to push Mangini and Daniels aside and take over.
The Good News? That would be the best news, although it is the unlikeliest course of action. Take over, Bill. Please, just take over the offense and the defense and get back to kicking butt.

* * *

KLEMM-TASTIC:

Kudos to Michael Felger of the Herald, and now his own talk show on ESPN Radio in Boston, for pointing out that the Packers O-Line on the left side is manned by former Patriots Adrian Klemm and Grey Ruegamer. As Felgie put it so eloquently: In a related story, the Packers are 0-4.

* * *

CELTICS:

TEAM MVP:


You heard it here first: Team MVP and serious league MVP candidate this season: Ricky Davis. This is the year he puts it all together. Like I said, you heard it here first.

* * *

Opening Day

Hockey Returns to the Hub! Yee-hahh!

RED SOX:

HOW I HATE THEE, WHITE SOX; LET ME COUNT THE WAYS:

1. Ozzie Guillen: I did not like him when he played, and I do not like him now. Loud, obnoxious, self-serving, and arrogant: everything that fans clamor for in a manager; however, it is everything that wears thin most swiftly and leads to a ticket out of town.

2. Frank Thomas: I could care less that he is out injured; somewhere, Lincoln Jarvis is cursing the Big Hurt and wondering why he bought 500 rookie cards (Much like the Gregg Jeffries rookie card fiasco). Frank Thomas has been the biggest waste of salary and space since Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle.

3. Scott Podsednik: Remember that kid in little league, or Babe Ruth league, or high school who could not hit a lick, but always started in center field, hit lead-off, and chewed tobacco at the age of fifteen? Yeah, everyone knew someone like that, and Podsednik was the one who made it to the majors. What Kevin Millar needs to do is when the pitcher throws over to first base to keep Podsednik close, he needs to start slapping that tag right on his knee to slow him down a bit. By game three there would be a nasty bone bruise and Podsednik would be going nowhere.

4. El Duque, Contreras, Jurassic Carl: Anyone related in anyway to the Yankees makes the list. Special mention for Jurassic Carl Everett as he will never be forgiven here in Boston. NEVER!

5. A.J. Pierzynski: Like Frank Catalanotto of the Blue Jays, he and his obnoxious hustling and nasty attitude belongs on the Red Sox. Could someone tell me why the Red Sox panicked, re-signed Doug Mirabelli, and then bid against themselves for Varitek? They should have signed Pierzynski the Polish Sausage and then hard-balled Varitek down to $6 million a year. Then, when Pierzynski caught Wakefield and occasionally gave Varitek a day off, he could DH on the days he was not playing and Big Papi could play first base. Kevin Millar would then have been traded to Kansas City for Graffinino.

The hatred inside me is growing stronger. Like Oakland in 2003, this White Sox team is really starting to annoy me. If only they had Jeremy Giambi, then I could really hate them.

* * *

MONEYBALL VERSUS SMALLBALL:

If you have not read the greatest baseball book of the century, Moneyball by Michael Lewis, then I cannot stress how much you are missing out on a fantastic look at the game of baseball through the eyes of Oakland GM Billy Beane, who is truly a visionary. To think that hard-line, old-time baseball fans, players, executives, etc continue to miss out, miss the point, or miss the opportunity to see into the mind of Beane boggles my mind. Every executive rushes out to get the book and throw quotes around when Jack Welch writes a new book, but they scorn and ridicule Beane when his story is presented. Joe Morgan has earned all the scorn he receives for his short-sighted views towards Moneyball, Billy Beane, statistical analysis, and computers and their roles in Baseball. Fire Joe Morgan, indeed!

Anyway, the Red Sox, led by Moneyball disciple Theo Epstein, are matched up against the White Sox and the anti-Moneyball, Ozzie Guillen. Go Red Sox, Go. Prove Joe Morgan wrong again for us, please. PRETTY PLEASE?

* * *

PATRIOTS:

HOW THE SEASON IS GOING TO TURN AROUND:

1. Tom Brady needs time to set-up in the pocket, plant his feet, and make his throws. He is not Bledsoe back there, and he can slide forward or to the side to avoid pressure, but throwing with defenders coming at him untouched limits his effectiveness. Yes, Tony Eason would have simply crumbled in the face of such pressure, but Brady does need more than three-tenths of a second to get off a very good throw.
The Good News? Dante Scarnecchia is the da man, and the O-Line will be grooving by the time the bye week is upon us.

2. Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Dante, and Tommy Ballgame need to commit to the running game early and often. Corey Dillon needs to haul the rock 25 times a game. NEEDS TO, I repeat, needs to haul it that many times. He is not Brian Westbrook, Dillon needs to get the ball enough to wear down the defense and then beat them into submission through-out the fourth quarter.
The Good News? Belichick knows this and is likely working on it as we speak.

3. Richard Seymour, Big Vince Wilfork, and Tyrone Shoelaces Warren need to deflate their heads and lose the giant egos that appeared after the Pittsburgh victory. The crappy offensive line of the Chargers pushed them all over the field on Sunday.
The Good News? It is likely still ass-kicking time by the Patriots coaches as you read this as the d-line is getting worked like dogs this week.

4. Duane Starks and Chad Scott played worse than Earthwind Moreland and Hank Poteat last season.
The Good News? Re-read the line above: IT DOES NOT GET ANY WORSE THAN THAT! I CANNOT PLAY WORSE THAN EARTHWIND AND HANK! OK, the good news, though, is that Ty Poole and Randall Gay should be back soon. Especially with Gay out, the Pats secondary is not making the big plays. Gay should help with that immediately.

5. Bill Belichick needs to push Mangini and Daniels aside and take over.
The Good News? That would be the best news, although it is the unlikeliest course of action. Take over, Bill. Please, just take over the offense and the defense and get back to kicking butt.

* * *

KLEMM-TASTIC:

Kudos to Michael Felger of the Herald, and now his own talk show on ESPN Radio in Boston, for pointing out that the Packers O-Line on the left side is manned by former Patriots Adrian Klemm and Grey Ruegamer. As Felgie put it so eloquently: In a related story, the Packers are 0-4.

* * *

CELTICS:

TEAM MVP:


You heard it here first: Team MVP and serious league MVP candidate this season: Ricky Davis. This is the year he puts it all together. Like I said, you heard it here first.

* * *

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

DEFINITELY MAYBE

Well, the weekend sports scene was a bit anti-climactic and a bummer to say the least. The Yankees cleaned-up on Saturday to clinch the AL East and launch the thousands of callers to WEEI who all babbled the same mantra: We never knew that Yankees could clinch the East. Why is there no playoff?

Of course, no one could imagine that the Indians would drop three in a row to the White Sox minor leaguers and assorted bench players with their entire season on the line. Even so, it was a known possibility and as the Indians kept losing, the situation cleared itself up with a minimum of drama.

Of course, the Yankees, in honor of winning the East, et the privilege of flying across the country to play the Angels, while the Red Sox skip across a time zone to play the Pale Hose. The White Sox, as Jayson Stark pointed on ESPN.com, went 30-28 down the stretch; the exact same record as the abysmal Colorado Rockies.

RED SOX:

MIGHTY MATCHUPS:


So Jose Contreras is tabbed to pitch game one against the Red Sox, who counter with Matt Clement. Clement, who lest we forget could be elsewhere with Eric Milton or Jared Wright in the rotation in his place, should be able to make a positive post-season mark as the White Sox hitting is weak and Contreras historically struggles against the Sox. If Boston jumps out early on Contreras, it will be a long afternoon for the White Sox fans.

The most under-rated part of the match-up is watching and waiting for Ozzie Guillen to eventually blow-up and do something beyond belief. I really thought the White Sox would blow the division to Cleveland and Guillen would be finally exposed as the horrible manager he is. Alas, it was not so as the White Sox streaked to the division in spite of Guillen at the helm. I have to say, one of the great things about having had the MLB package this year (other than getting my weekly dose of Derek Lowe stinking the joint up in Los Angeles) was keeping tabs on other teams that I would never get a chance to see. So I am not some Johnny-Come-Lately on the Ozzie Guillen bash-mobile, I saw 20-30 White Sox games (what can I say, I love Mark Beuhrle, even when he is not on my fantasy league team) and Guillen makes some puzzling decisions to say the least.

* * *

HARD DAYS NIGHT:

Hopefully I will have some time tonight to get into the match-up more, but with work keeping my hopping and my little Emma Bean sick at home, time is tight. Of course, the 4pm game time for game one is perfect (note, dripping with sarcasm) as I will have to follow the early innings on ESPN Gamecast at work and then harass various family members for updates on the train ride home. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can catch the last inning or two at home.

* * *

PATRIOTS:

8-8 IS NOT AN OPTION:

OK, first off I do not want to hear one word about injuries as an excuse. The team knew realistically in February that Tedy Bruschi was out for the season and must have known during the summer that there was a good chance that Ted Johnson would not be back as well, so those two being out should NEVER be mentioned. Just because the media was clueless does not mean that Belichick & Pioli were clueless.

Also, this team won with Earthwind Moreland, Troy Brown, and Hank Poteat in the secondary last season, so secondary injuries are not an option as an excuse either. As far as offensive line injuries and rookies starting, they have started before and they will start again, so none of those injuries are valid. The offense missed Kevin Faulk? Puh-leeeze!

Here is what I will accept: Without Rodney Harrison, the team needed a week to get their heads straightened out and needed a good, solid ass-kicking to wake themselves up, which is exactly what happened with the release of Lawyer Milloy at the start of the 2003 season. There are no excuses going forward with this team. I expect, as I am sure does Belichick and Pioli, that this team as assembled should win 12 games, finish first in the AFC East, and also get a bye in the first round and with it home field in round two, the divisional round or whatever they call it. That is the bare minimum expected of the Patriots right now. This team is good, their divisional opponents are actually worse than I anticipated, and they need only survive two more weeks before the bye week.

* * *

MICHAEL-MIKE VICK ALERT:

As the Pats fans (who are shuffled aside due to the Sox in the playoffs and have no voice now) obsess over Michael Vick, remember that this Atlanta team should have been in the Super Bowl last season and are better than Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and everyone else out in the NFC right now. This is no easy match-up and I hope to have time to bring a full analysis and preview of the match-up in the coming days, including hopefully something special in preparation to the game as well.

* * *

New England Patriots: On Vacation as Free Agency Begins - Full Press Coverage

The 2019 NFL year has begun with the advent of free agency and as usual the New England Patriots are one of the quietest teams. While teams ...