The good news is that Tim Wakefield finalized his long-deserved extension that will keep him pitching for Boston well into his forties. The great news is that the public will not be subjected to anymore horrible articles like what Steve Buckley wrote in the Herald the other day where in a fluff piece profile of Wakefield he ended with the line: If the Sox don't pony up, the Yankees gladly will do so. Puh-leeze! What kind of idiot writes something like that? Oh yeah, the type that builds up his reputation as a sportswriter, radio commentator, and television talking head by following the lead of Dan Shaughnessy and trying to whip up the Red Sox fans over nothing by playing off their insecurities as perpetual losers. Um, memo to Dan and Steve, the Sox won the World Series last season. Get over it and do some real writing.
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SCHILLING REHAB STARTS:
For the second time in two seasons Curt Schilling was thrown to the wolves (well, the Yankees) when he was injured and had no business on the mound. Sure, he is healthy right now, but his conditioning is in no way or form ready for the major league level and as I have harped on endlessly, he is still in spring training mode as far as where he should be physically and arm-strength and stamina-wise. By May, his April struggles will be a distant memory.
The performance against Toronto by Schilling truly looked like something you would see in spring training. Fortunately the Sox bats picked him up. For Toronto, they looked real tough against the Sox, and if they only had one or two more quality arms and another power hitter in the lineup, they could be making some serious noise in the division.
What will be interesting is to see who out of Wakefield or Arroyo goes to the bullpen when Wade Miller is healthy. No matter who goes it will be interesting to see how they react. Both have pitched well this spring, and both can come out of the pen without much transition. Personally, I would keep Wakefield in the rotation only because I think Arroyo would do a better job out of the bullpen (I still have nightmares about Wakefield coming out the bullpen against the Yankees in the ALCS and Varitek not being able to catch the ball and Yankees base-runners running all over the place).
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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL:
Well, the NFL has again shown why for entertainment bang there is no bigger sport in the US. The amount of money paid out by the networks is staggering. One important thing to note is that they have not sold the rights to the Thursday night games post-Thanksgiving. Probably the smartest thing they could do in terms of long-term growth would be to award the games to their own NFL Network. This would have the cable companies and satellite providers scrambling to ensure the network is available to consumers because as the NFL brand has repeatedly shown, it is not a wise decision to get between fans and their football games.
The actual numbers are staggering, as the yearly value for the NFL and its network deals will increase from $2.45 billion to $3.74 billion presently with the Thursday night pushing it into the $4 billion range. Most importantly, however, is the fact with Monday Night Football moving to ESPN where there is already a well-respected broadcast team in place, this could be the end of the John Madden announcing games on TV. For all the faults of Madden, he was at one time a great announcer who helped keep interest in the NFL strong. I think his best fit right now should be as an NFL Ambassador. He could drive the Madden Cruiser out to a different game each week, tailgate with the fans, roast up a turducken, and hand out NFL paraphernalia and promote the league.
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