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.

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So Dr. Z & Peter King over at, 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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