Thursday, May 12, 2005

ARE WE HOT YET?

Will the Sox get hot? They have won eight of ten, five of six, and are winning ugly, but they still have not broke out and really put together a couple of dominant series with hot hitting together with hot pitching. That is a good sign of course. The Sox have yet to hit their peak, while the 2004 Orioles, I mean, the 2005 Yankees have had their best week and picked up no games in the standings on the Sox. The Orioles also must be looking back at the Sox behind them thinking that if they have already played their best of the season and the Sox have been inconsistent and are right there in striking distance already, it is going to be a tough job to hold the Sox off or at least keep up with them.

* * *

PREDICTING THE END OF THE LINE:

Five game winning streaks against struggling West Coast teams notwithstanding, when are the Yankees going to reach the breaking point? Steinbrenner cannot sit silent much longer. My best guess is that he will not make it to the fourth of July. They just released (or will soon) Steve Karsay, eating over $5 million dollars in the process. The entire pitching staff, with its almost $100 million price tag has underachieved, and George will come down on someone. The likely suspect is Mel Stottlemeyer, who is there so Regular Joe Torre has someone to mix his drinks. In the ten years Stottlemeyer has coached the Yankees pitching staff, what pitcher has improved his performance as a Yankee? The only way Steinbrenner can get inside the head of Average Joe is through the firing of Mixing Mel. Fourth of July.

* * *

WILL THE CELTICS SAY GOOD-BYE TO PAUL PIERCE?

The Boston Herald finally got around to doing the work I was too lazy to do and sportswriter Mark Murphy identified seven potential trade partners for the Celtics if they decide to move Pierce. Quick synopsis with my thoughts:
Seattle, Ray Allen: In a heartbeat. Allen is a player who can shoot, pass, and run the floor. As a free agent, a sign-and-trade would benefit him (maximum dollars) and the Celtics (perfect cap match for Pierce).
Milwaukee, Michael Redd: Young, a shooter, and as a free agent, a sign-and-trade would benefit him (maximum dollars) and the Celtics (perfect cap match for Pierce).
Indiana, Ron Artest: I would be all for it, but I doubt Indiana would want Pierce.
L.A. Clippers, Elton Brand: With Big Al, we would do this for what reason?
L.A. Lakers, Lamar Odom: Uh, yeah. An underachieving pot-head who is an underachiever to boot. Just what the team needs. Yikes.
Washington, Larry Hughes: To quote bad porn actresses: Yes, YES, GOD YES!!!
Portland, Shareef Abdur-Raheem: Umm, see Elton Brand comment above.

* * *

THE ORIGINAL WHIZZINATOR:

Oh my God, I just about fell down I was laughing so hard on this one. For anyone who has not heard about it yet, Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith, already with two drug suspension in the NFL drug program, was busted for having vials of white powder in his bag at the airport. No, not the coke, it was dried urine for use in a device to beat urine tests for drugs called The Original Whizzinator that uses, among its supplies, a fake penis and a bladder to be hidden in an athletic cup.

See, and I was abusing the trademark when I was calling my son the original whizzinator back when he was potty-training. All I could think of was Austin Powers and his Swedish Penis Enlarger from the first (and only funny) movie in the spy-spoofs series.

* * *

WORDS THAT, JUST FIVE YEARS AGO, NO ONE WOULD EVER BELIEVE WERE WRITTEN WITHOUT SARCASM:

"Thank God for the New England Patriots. They just reconfirm everything we stand for at the University of Florida. It's accountability. It's taking care of one another. It's working harder than your opponent. There's no luck involved. It's (quarterback) Chris Leak getting that tailback to play harder." – Coach Urban Meyer, http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/sports/11624319.htm

* * *

WALK ON, WALK OFF

It was two dramatic victories in a row for the Red Sox. Did someone turn the clock back to 2004 and not mention it to anyone? Although both games had a dramatic ending, both games highlighted the ongoing struggle to drive in runners in scoring position. This aspect of the game must improve for the Red Sox offense. How to improve this problem is the burning question. The Sox need to keep working the pitchers to get deep in the count and have the pitcher make a mistake. If they do that, stay back, do not get overanxious, and get their pitches to hit, they will eventually get the job done.

* * *

ONE TWO BUCKLE MY SHOE:

Bronson Arroyo and Matt Clement: These guys would make a good one and two starter right now for about twenty other clubs. Here they are four and five. Both undefeated, both with low earned run averages, both looking dominant on the mound. The future looks bright as both are just entering their prime.

THREE FOUR SHUT THE DOOR:

Memo to Keith Foulke: Call the mechanic, because the fastball is up over the plate and he is throwing the change-up too hard. Without the major difference in speed (example: fastball 89 MPH and change-up 70 MPH, a 19 MPH difference for the hitter to try to adapt to), the batters have time to wait on the change-up and adjust to the fastball. Some change-ups were at 80 MPH: way too fast! The good thing with Foulke, is that once he adjusts and locks down, he will return to his unhittable self of 2004. Every year he has these uneasy stretches, it just so happens that this season it happened early. Have faith in Foulke, he will round into form.

* * *

I LOVE IT WHEN YOU CALL ME BIG PAPI:

Let us not forget to give credit to David Ortiz for his role in these walk-off wins. Without his drawing a walk in the ninth inning of both games and getting on base, we would be talking about extra inning games instead of walk-off victories. It still boggles my mind that Minnesota could give up on such a talented hitter. I know that no one in the organization expected the 40 HR and 120 RBI seasons from Ortiz, but it goes to show why to take flier on a hitter with power potential any time you can (see Robert Petegine, getting ready to rehab in Pawtucket for another example of the Sox trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice).

* * *

CELTICS, WHAT CELTICS?

I have never heard of them. Did they play basketball here in the eighties once upon a time? From all their goodwill and being the lead sports story to a smoldering pot of resentment. They are now that weird deranged Uncle that gets locked in the attic in bad movies; or, as my Dad told Joe Mills when we were kids, our Uncle Marald sits in his rocking chair in the attic and never leaves there. (What can I say, Joe Mills ate a goat turd when we told him it was a black jelly bean and believed that herring came from our gutters. I feel like I should be paying the poor kid a monthly per diem just for therapy).

Anyway, the Celtics are suddenly persona non grata as I have not yet talked to anyone who was not disgusted, humiliated, or ashamed to have viewed their performance Saturday night in the stinkfest against the undermanned, less talented, but obviously motivated Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics are quickly disappearing from the sports pages and public eye. The team blew a tremendous opportunity to pick up some fans with an extended playoff run by choking two games and not showing up for the other two. Fans are in no rush to forgive these veterans who packed it in and played one-on-one the whole game.

Has Danny Ainge won everyone over to his side now? Fans are ready to embrace the vision. Any move he makes involving getting rid of Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, or Gary Payton will be roundly applauded by the remaining fans.

* * *

THE QUIT, I MEAN, QUIET ONE:

Johnny Ruiz, the Quiet Man from Chelsea, was finally shipped off to the sunset of retirement, finally beaten and humiliated enough to quit by former middleweight James Fat Toney. But wait, the drama has just begun. Fat Toney had a suspicious fight, in that, unlike New England Patriot LB Ted Johnson, Toney recovered remarkably fast from a torn biceps. In addition, he lost a ton of weight and had nothing but solid muscle on display and amazing stamina throughout the fight.

Poor Ruiz; even when he wins, he loses. When he loses, he wins, but still loses. No one wants to watch him fight: he has no knockout power and merely wears them down until he outpoints them. His strategy and style is very effective, but boring for the boxing audience. Also, Ruiz got knocked silly by mega-chump David Tua early on in his career and has never regained that credibility.

What hurts Ruiz now is that no one wants to fight him because there is no money to be made fighting him. A loss to him is disastrous, and every promoter in the sport wants him out of the way so that they can have some heavyweights fight for his title that someone may pay to watch (though I am hard-pressed to find any). The whole heavyweight division is desperate for a polarizing young champion to storm through the ranks and grab the public fancy. Unfortunately, until then, we are stuck with Klitschko, Ruiz, Rahman, and the rest of the chumps in the post-Lennox Lewis Era.

* * *

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 ...