Tuesday, July 05, 2005

FIREWORKS

So we took the kiddos to the Paw Sox Monday night for the madness which was the Curt Schilling Extravaganza. Madness, total and complete madness is the only way to describe what went on there since there were thousands of people who had tickets and no seats. How the fire marshals did not close down the venue is beyond me. Seeing a game in Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium has been a joy 99.99% of the time; however, when it crams 11,000 plus yahoos into a 9,000 person stadium, well, it kind of sucks. They simply do not have the infrastructure in place for that kind of crowd.

We arrived over an hour before game time and was stuck parking at the back of the Quebecor World plant almost a mile from the stadium. Then, the entire grandstand was already filled to capacity and we had to fight our way to the berm to watch the game. Fortunately, thanks to some subtle intimidation of some yahoo trying to cordon off half of the area by Kathy, we found ourselves in the front of the berm, akin to having front row bleacher seats.

As far as Schilling, well, he too kind of sucked. He got hit hard, even a lot of the outs were hit hard: it was not surprising at all to hear Schilling intimate that even he thought he needed another start in AAA. His fastball was inconsistent, as was his location as he left a few pitches up in the zone down the middle of the plate.

Further messing up the day at Pawtucket was the cancellation of the fireworks (as much a reason to attend as to see Schilling) which sent us off into an odyssey into the night to find parking near the fireworks (which is a whole other story). But the kids had fun, and in the end, that is all that matters.

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SOX LOST WEEKEND:

The Blue Jays again beat the stuffing out of the Sox, and for good measure the Rangers smacked around Keith Foulke Monday night. All-in-all, that is not the way to assuage the masses of panicking fans and talk radio nitwits.

I caught bits and pieces of the games over the weekend, but I can tell you that the Sox seemed to be slipping into their previous inconsistent funk. The 15-2 game can be written off as the occasional clunker. The Sox coming back to win after the bizarre David Wells ejection was good to see, but they totally missed an opportunity to win the series and gain on Baltimore the next game. Roy Halliday had a shaky first inning and was vulnerable, but the Sox let him off the hook after scoring a run and never threatened again the rest of the day. Halliday is like Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, when he is vulnerable early, you must strike quickly and decisively or else you will be lucky to get another opportunity. Of course, when they did load the bases in the sixth, they failed to plate a single run. Once a pitcher like Halliday is in a groove, they will not be beaten.

I made the cardinal sin of shutting off the Texas game with the Sox up by two thinking that the bullpen would be able to nail it down. Silly me.

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STUFF THE BALLOT BOXES:

Be sure to visit MLB.com to vote for the final all-star spot in the AL and NL. And please, do us all a favor and vote for someone deserving like Scott Podesnik of the White Sox or Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays rather than bringing that smirking jerk Derek Jeter to another underserved all-star game or for that matter, Hideki the Human Bobblehead Matsui, who at least is somewhat deserving having carried the Yankees all spring. For the love of God, help leave that bozo Jeter at home for once.

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TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN:

Two weeks until training camp kicks off for the Patriots. With all the attention on Richard Seymour and to a much lesser extent Rodney Harrison wanting their contracts redone, the Patriots still have a number of players with one-year deals who will be playing for a new contract.

On top of that list is the Franchise tagged Adam Vinatieri who is eligible to rework that one-year deal after July 15th for salary cap reasons. Vinatieri is someone who the front office will be looking to lock up long-term and does not figure to be an easy signing. Also, the Patriots have four restricted free agents remaining on one year tender offers: wide receiver David Givens, defensive end Jarvis Green, offensive tackle Tom Ashworth and offensive guard Stephen Neal. All four of the restricted free agents are integral members of team who are not likely to sign for cheap with unrestricted free agency on the horizon next season.

Givens has already, through his agent, made it clear that he is looking for a big contract. Like David Patten, I suspect that Givens will find his big money in the off-season with another team. Jarvis Green would be a starter on any other team, and may take the road of a former Patriot defensive lineman who made it big as a starter with a new team, Greg Spires. Spires, like Green, was a pass rushing machine who never was able to crack the starting lineup with the Pats. Spires finally got to start after leaving New England, and then got a big money deal from Tampa Bay where he has been a pro bowl caliber performer since getting his shot as a full-timer.

Ashworth and Neal are both key cogs on the offensive line, and both are likely to be kept around if only because the Patriots line is so unheralded that the Patriots should be able to pay them enough to stay without breaking the bank. With two linemen drafted this year in the first three rounds, the Patriots have extra ammunition come negotiating time as they should be able to give both linemen take-it-or-leave-it proposals.

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WHO THE HECK IS SCOTT SAUERBECK:

Last week, local lightning rod Lawrence Eagle Tribune sportswriter John Tomase (Of the Manny and his attitude sucks fame) had a lengthy article about Indians reliever Scott Sauerbeck who pitched ineffectively for the Sox in 2003 as the lefty specialist in the bullpen. Sauerbeck had issues with the Sox trainer and blames him for his shoulder problems even though it would be an issue for the team doctor, not the trainer. I could not find the link as I believe the Lawrence paper does not keep the articles up for long, but it was very interesting to read. Obviously, Sauerbeck has no love for the organization at all.

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DRAFT DAZE:

Finally, at long last, it is time to get to the Celtics powerhouse draft last week. The question that only time can answer is whether Gerald Green is the next Tracy McGrady or the next Jerome Moiso (young, unproven and athletic ballers with tons of natural ability). However, considering the hype about Green before the draft (major features in USA Today and the Boston Globe), he came across as a fairly grounded young man with loads of basketball ability that could translate into superstardom in the NBA. Obviously, Danny Ainge knew that there was no way he could pass on Green when he fell into his lap. Personally, I hope he is able to spend a couple of years growing into the league (you can bet that Ainge and Doc Rivers will not push him too hard in his first season) before (hopefully) replacing Paul Pierce as the number scoring option/superstar.

With someone else in the league showing interest in Antoine Walker (come on Houston, sign him before Ainge is tempted to resign him again!), second round pick Ryan Gomes from Providence College could very easily slip into the back of the rotation and fight for minutes at both forward positions. Able to mix the inside and outside game like everyone wished Antoine could do, Gomes could take the role that Walter McCarty filled and actually make it a viable role as McCarty seemed to only stand around and take open threes when what was really needed was an inside-outside scorer off the bench. As Ainge said, the big surprise was finding Gomes at number fifty in the draft.

I will admit that I know nothing about Orien Greene, other than he was a point guard taken in the second round. With the Celtics expected to go after a free agent point guard (and another big man) with the $5 million exception available to them, I think Greene has to be slotted to the developmental league. Taking a point guard also underscores the need at point guard for the Celtics as Delonte West is really a 2 guard and Marcus Banks still has a lot to prove. I, however, was hoping for Jarrett Jack to drop into the second round for the Celtics to nab, or to have them trade up and nab him. I see him as the Jamaal Tinsley of this draft: all he does is pass the ball and make everyone else around him better.

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