Friday, August 19, 2005

DROPPING BOMBS ALL OVER TOWN

INTRO:

Hold on, I need to take a quick break as Tom Brady just sent me an instant message about a hot pic at worldsex.com. Of course, after seeing the picture of him with a goat, I am almost afraid to click through to the link.

OK, now that the bad jokes are out of the way, we can get down to work:

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CELTICS:

PATIENCE:

need a little patience, yeah
just a little patience,
some more patience, yeah
need some patience, yeah
could use some patience, yeah
gotta have some patience, yeah
all it takes is patience,
just a little patience
is all you need - Guns N Roses, Patience

What is going to happen with the Boston Celtics this season? Other than the marketing department trying to come up with a slogan that incorporates seventeen for the twentieth straight season although I am sure they will be realistic and go with some time-honored slogan from classic rock like: The Kids are Alright!, the key question regarding the Celtics is if they are a 30 win team or ready to take the next step up to the fifty win area. A key question will be where the veteran leadership is going to come from? Is Paul Pierce going to step up and act like a veteran scorer on a young team, or rather is he going to be playing the role of the petulant and spoiled child who acts like an idiot and damages the development of the young and exciting players on the roster?

Second, not to sound like Roger Daltry, but are the kids alright? Will Delonte West be healthy enough to last a full season? Will Marcus Banks continue his slow improvement? Is Tony Allen going to be ready to play 82 games? Will Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins take the next step or have the proverbial sophomore slump? How much impact will Ryan Gomes have at the 3 and 4 spots? Will Green or Greene contribute at all this season? Is there enough playing time for all the kids?

Of course, we will not know those answer until the season gets going this fall. Finally, there are still more questions that the Celtics face:

Is Mark Blount tradable? They need to dump the salary and not even worry about getting anything back for him as long as it is not an albatross of a contract. Is the Ricky Davis of last season the norm or an aberration who will again taunt the team with his considerable talents? And finally, who, outside of the big three in the East (Indiana, Miami, and Detroit) is better than the Celtics in the East?

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PATRIOTS:

OH WHEN THE SAINTS, COME MARCHING IN:

As I write this there are only a few hours until game time. The only question anyone seems to be concerned about is how long will Tom Brady play? But I am more concerned about the question of have we sent the last of Riders of Rohan Davey? Do they give him away for nothing, or do they at least get a late round draft pick for Davey? I have seen nothing from Davey that gives me any confidence in his abilities at quarterback.

To me, the other big issue that affects the roster in preseason centers on Cedric Cobbs. With a chance to take a big step forward and assume the backup running back, Cobbs has been invisible. In his absence, Kory Chapman has looked good in his attempt to find a role. Also, one has to wonder if Chad Morton is going to slip in and make the roster at the expense of another running back. Is Patrick Pass going to make the team? Can Dan Klecko be a full-time fullback in the Patriots offense with the limited role of the fullback and emphasis on tight end? Does releasing Pass open a roster spot for four tight ends, therefore giving the Patriots the flexibility to run two or three tight end sets rather than have a fullback?

The defensive line is so deep that they should dominate teams all season long at the line of scrimmage. Keeping linemen away from Mike Vrabel, Monty! Beisel, Rosie Colvin and Bad Chad Brown will only increase the number of big plays by the linebackers. One of the keys of the success of Tedy Bruschi in the middle was his ability to run at the ball-carriers and backs out of the backfield without having an offensive lineman laying his hands on him. Give that opportunity to Monty! Beisel or Chad Brown, and they will look very, very good filling in for Bruschi.

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MEDIA:

ELLIOTT, I WILL BE RIGHT HERE:

Mike Reiss has landed at the Boston Globe at long last. Lauded on this page for his MetroWest Daily News work and Reiss Pieces Patriots blog at bostonherald.com, Reiss is part of the Boston Globe staff (ostensibly for the Globe West, but here is hoping we see more of him in the sports pages), and long has been one of my favorite writers. Reiss has consistently scooped every other Patriots writer, and here is hoping Reiss Pieces comes to boston.com in the near future. Just this week the Globe has Mike taking over for Nick Cafardo on the Patriots weekly mailbox, so I hope this is a sign of more to come from the talented Mr. Reiss.

INMATES RUN THE ASYLUM:

On that same vein, the Boston Globe has to know that I cannot be the only one who would rather read Chad Finn, the underutilized talent they have on staff, and his Touching All the Bases Blog anytime before being subjected the angry vitriol of Dan Shaughnessy and the two good columns a year that come from Bob Ryan. As a long-time subscriber, I can tell you that the Globe sports section needs a tune-up. Chris Snow is a step in the right direction, but Mike Reiss should be on the Patriots beat full-time and Finn is the breath of fresh air they lack. Jackie MacMullin, does she still write for the Globe? I can remember nothing remotely memorable from her in a long time. Ron Borges is the best boxing writer there is, but does not shine on the Patriots beat.

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BRUINS:

ARE THEY GOING TO PLAY THE GAMES OUTDOORS NOW?

OLN for the NHL? Is this going to help the league? Is there a national audience tuning into the Outdoor Life Network? OLN is owned by Comcast, which means there definitely is some synergy with the other cable stations and some cross-pollinating of advertising. Of course, this below-average television deal makes me wonder if the NHL is officially on the level of the soccer, tennis, and lacrosse leagues in the US?

ARE THEY THE PATRIOTS IN BLACK AND GOLD OR JUST ANOTHER TEASE?

Some question that need answering by the Bruins brain trust:
Why were the Pittsburgh Penguins able to sign the superstars that eluded the Bruins despite their roster flexibility?
Did Boston do the right thing and emphasize depth and hungry young players for the third and fourth lines?
Are the young goaltenders ready to be a factor on the ice and allow the team to win some 1-0 and 2-1 games when the offense is held in check, especially in the playoffs?
Is Joe Thornton really worthy of a top three salary in the new and improved NHL?

* * *

RED SOX:

SOMEONE TELL DA MEATHOOK THAT FENWAY FRANKS ARE NOT FREE FOR PLAYERS:

The recent bump in the road versus the mighty Tigers is no reason to get upset, but since the world championship last season has done nothing to dull the pain of losses this season I will get agitated anyway. The Sox simply should have wiped the Tigers off their shoes and hit the road with a neat little sweep. Well, the offense does need to be cut some slack, but the starting pitching has been abysmal. Until the rotation straightens itself out, the Sox are a .500 team down the stretch regardless of how the bullpen performs.

THE ANGELS ANGLE:

The Sox should take 3 of 4 from the Angels and really need to start putting some space between themselves and the Yankees before September arrives. The Angels have inconsistent starter pitchers, and a bullpen that has been showing some leaks lately, and outside of Vladi Guerrero, the offense is not as overpowering as they once were.

Of course, having said that, the Sox will be swept and the painful late August swoon will turn towards September as Greg will sit in his box seat screaming at Tito to bring up Jon Lester and Anibel Sanchez to add to the rotation and put Shaky Wakey and Bronson Vedder in the bullpen.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, IN THE SUMMERTIME:

If Manny hits .435 with a day off every other week, then for chrissakes give him a rest every other week. How hard is that to figure out? It is easy for a manager to pencil in the same nine game after game after game, but Terry Francona has done a good job of keeping his starters fresh and his bench players ready to contribute by giving them ample opportunities.

CAN SOMEONE TELL ME IF DA MEATHOOK ATE ALL THE YANKEE FRANKEES?

I try to resist writing about the Yankees, as every time I laugh at their foibles they proceed to win eight in a row, but even when they do get a good start out of their who-dat rotation (You look at their probable starter in the paper and say: who dat?), the bullpen is so overworked or lacking of talent that they have trouble closing the game out.

Of course, they have a fantastic top six of the batting order and now that Jason Giambi is back on the juice, they can out-slug some teams when the pitching falls apart. Being in a more comfortable position (i.e. NOT first place) has allowed A-Rod to relax and hit, even late in the game. The long lost brother of Jurassic Carl Everett, Gary Sheffield, is also murdering the ball. Jeter is putting up his usual Edgar Renteria numbers at short stop and causing all the New York writers to cream themselves every time he bunts a runner over a base (Just amazing baseball instincts, Suzy!). I would like to see the Yankees buried in the standings, but that is up to the Red Sox. The Sox need to take a page from the original pirate, Al Davis: Just win, baby.

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