Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BRUSHES WITH CELEBRITY

For a sports geek like myself, that means emailing two of my favorite, yet inexplicably unheralded, sportswriters who both now work at the Globe: Mike Reiss and Chad Finn. It may not be good business to shout-out to other bloggers who could take my fifteen readers, but, doggoneit, they both are so consistently excellent that it is a disservice of the Boston Globe not to have them up in the spotlights with Chris Snow and the other young talents recently brought on-board. These young writers are the ones who will hopefully replace the 1970s & 80s stable of writers who helped make the Globe Sports section a must read but appear to be losing their fastball. Check out two of the best: Reiss, with his Pats Q&A found at and blog soon to be joining it at: http://www.boston.com/sports and Finn: http://touchingallthebases.blogspot.com/

RED SOX:

ROYALS & TIGERS & DEVIL RAYS, OH MY!

If there was ever a time for the Sox to rip off seven or eight wins in a row and create some breathing room between themselves and those never-give-in Yankees, it is now. With a schedule in the next week consisting of the door-mat Royals and underachieving Tigers of the AL Central, and the weak sister of the AL East, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Sox need to get their pitching staff some confidence by letting them pitch seven or more innings with an early lead and let the bullpen be well rested by limiting them to two or three innings total per game. More than anything else, having their starting pitchers go seven innings and leave with an 8-2 lead will do more for the Sox postseason prospects than anything else. If they can get their lead over the dreaded New Yorkers up to seven or eight games then it will be most beneficial to the entire organization and allow a deep breath before October.

I am sick of reading all the crap about how the Red Sox are in no shape to contend in October. Boo-hoo, the team has a few holes, and no one was slow to point them out last year when they won the wild card; moreso, no one hesitated to point out the flaws the team had when they were down 3-0 against the Yankees in the ALCS. Yes, Schilling and Foulke are unknowns heading into the postseason and Pedro Martinez has taken his stale act to the big stage for the underachieving Mets, but this team has no less holes than anyone else when looking at the teams still in contention.

The Sox need to have Curt Schilling slowly ease his way into the number one starter role by having him get two quick and easy wins right out of the gate; none of this silly facing A-Rod with the game on the line with his bags still on their way back from Pawtucket. A couple of easy wins over some inferior opponents may be just enough to get Curt back the swagger everyone has been looking for since his time on the disabled list this spring. With Foulke, as long as this sore elbow is minor, he should get a few save chances against some lesser opponents as the schedule moves into September.

Getting Matt Clement, David Wells, and Tim Wakefield ready to pitch in October will be a priority in September. A bunch of wins over some weak competition will do wonders for their mental well-being. I see no reason why the sox should hesitate to move Bronson Arroyo to the bullpen where he will spend a majority of time during the playoffs. Let Wade Miller get one more chance to show he can win a few games this season.

OUT, OUT, DAMNED PINSTRIPES:

Will someone fill me in on how the Yankees are still lurking way too close to be comfortable? Mike Mussina has been their only semi-reliable starter. The Big Unit has been hurt and his inconsistency has been baffling. Carl Pavano, Jared Wright and Kevin Brown were all ineffective and injured. Chieng-Ming Wang was their best pitcher before being injured. Shawn Chacon, Al Leiter, and Aaron Small are not exactly the type of pitchers you want in the rotation as August turns to September and then the playoffs roll around.

Despite all that, they are still inexplicably nipping at the heels of the first place Red Sox. Certainly, having Mariano Rivera at the end of the game helps more than most people realize as it gives a team a lot of confidence to be able to steal a few wins that normally they would have written off as a loss. Of course, the fact the team can slug out some 9-8 wins helps immensely, but even so, it is mind-boggling that they are still in position to win the division or steal the wild card slot. Hats off to Regular Joe Torre as he keeps on questing for that elusive regular season crown that will keep him around another year.

* * *

PATRIOTS:

RETURNING THE FAVOR:

Somehow I have a feeling that a few teams are going to leave a few open roster spots just to pick-up some Patriots cast-offs. There are some well-coached players who are going to be cut loose by the Patriots simply because there are not enough roster spots available to keep all the players. Teams like Miami with coach Nick Saban, Cleveland with Romeo Crennel, and Dallas with Formerly Big Bill Parcells who are going to grab some players who are coached in their style of defense who can likely step in and contribute right away.

* * *

MEDIA:

PAYING THE BILLS:

Is there any worse commercial than Burger King and those hideous chicken fries commercials with their chicken-head Slipknot wannabes called Coq Roq? Am I so old as too see that these are tasteless, inappropriate, and horrific commercials? A band call Coq Roq is singing Bob Your Head??? That is beyond obscene.

* * *

FREE FALLIN

This long-distance dedication for the Tom Petty classic goes out to the idiot in the rafters in Fenway Park for the stones concert the drunken teenager at Yankee Stadium two weeks ago.

* * *

RED SOX:

YOU GIVE ME THAT FUNNY FEELING INSIDE MY TUMMY:

Although it would be an appropriate sentiment for the pastrami sub I had for lunch, I believe in this case it applies to the Boston Red Sox bullpen. The pen starts at the back-end and works forward to the middle and long relievers. Stability in the closer role is where it all begins. The reason the Red Sox will win or lose the American League East is Keith Foulke. If Foulke comes back anything at all similar to the closer who was a rock for the Sox in 2004, the playoff outlook is much rosier. Look at the Yankees as an example of what a solid closer can do for a team. As horrid as their starting pitching and bullpen has been, knowing that any lead in the eighth or ninth means the game over has allowed the Yankees to stay in contention and linger around near the top of the A.L. East and near the lead for the Wild Card.

With Foulke in the ninth inning role, Timlin becomes the eighth inning set-up man (to clarify: he starts the eighth inning, he does not come in with runners on base), and Chad Bradford and Mike Myers provide the righty-lefty bridge in the seventh inning. Any starter not giving six plus innings risks losing his cheapo win by having Jeremi Gonzalez, Mike Remlinger, and whomever else the Sox dig up for the transitional innings.

Foulke coming back is a huge question mark, as it is not as if he was pitching like Chad Cordero before he landed on the disabled list.

BELLHORN HELPS TEAM ONCE AGAIN:

What a team player that Mark Bellhorn has turned out to be. Although I doubt he intended to or not, he has given the Red Sox a huge lift in the dog days of August; no, not by returning to the lineup, but by being designated for assignment despite a fairly hefty salary on the books, he has given Kevin Millar the splash of cold water in the face that he truly deserved. Amazingly, there is no Mount Millar erupting because he has taken a seat on the bench where he can think up ways to entertain Manny as John Olerud mans first base. No sir, Kevin Millar is a humble bumble, a goodnik at long last after being such a nogoodnik last season when his precious playing time was impinged upon even for one game.

By having Bellhorn designated for assignment without so much as a second thought, Kevin the Krazee Klubhouse Klown has finally realized that Theo and the Brain Trust are not going to put up with his petulant me-first attitude and chemistry killing whining and moaning. They will shut up if you put up, the numbers ala Manny, but not for a first baseman hitting .270 with four homers in almost 400 at bats and a Mark Belanger-esqe OBP. So a big thank you to my main man Smellhorn: see you September first and thanks for the assist.

* * *

PATRIOTS:

THAT SMELLS LIKE SOME NASTY CHEESE:

The over-under on Big Vince Wilfork landing on Brett Favre and seriously derailing his season, his consecutive game streak, and the season for the Pack is at about 8-1.

The over-under on the game is Pack as 2 point favorites going into the early part of this week.

Oh, by the way, if you bet on preseason games, you really do need professional help. Just the thought of money being in the hands some of the fodder that is out on the field in the fourth quarter is downright scary.

* * *

CELTICS:

WHAT A DICK:


Dickau that is, Dan Dickau, the newest point guard in the mix for the Men in Green. Not that you would know about it from the media in Boston. Dante Bichette Jr gets a lot more press than the Gang Green this week. Well, so much for all that Boston Celtics goodwill from acquiring Antoine Walker and making the playoffs. At least they still have February and half of March to share the spotlight with the Bruins as the only games in town.

* * *

FullPressCoverage.com: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

The New England Patriots may have tipped their hand with their first two 2019 NFL Draft picks. Choosing a bigger, more aggressive outside-...