Bahh, I had my picks in the can and never got them up on the site. The good news: they never saw the light of day because they were not pretty! A plethora of Sox and Pats stuff to get to today.
PENALTY? I GOT YOUR PENALTY RIGHT HERE, REF:
Lost in the shuffle with the Pats dramatic win was any debate over the phantom pass-interference call against Chad Scott late in the fourth quarter when Pittsburgh had a fourth down and the game should have been over. There was no evidence of any interference on the play as Scott went up for the ball with the receiver (as he has the right to do). One of the announcers even made a comment during the replay about how the only way it could be a penalty since there was no body contact was if the left arm of Scott was wrapped around the receiver, which it was clear from the replay that is simply was not the case. Of course, next play was touchdown Steelers. Fortunately, the Patriots came back to win and the horrible call by the officials was forgotten by all, except for me.
This was a blatant call by the officials to placate the home crowd. Geez, were they afraid someone was going to throw beer cups and batteries onto the field? I hope whomever supervises and grades the referees calls these bozos out on the carpet for this call, because had the Patriots lost the game it would have been partially to blame on the referees who inserted themselves into the outcome of a game, which should never ever happen. I still do not understand how they could not have huddled and picked the flag up, other than fear of inciting the crowd, which should never factor into making a call.
It was a disgusting and gutless call, and I for one will not forget it.
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So the Patriots could be without Rodney Harrison and Matt Light for the rest of the season (since no one knows the severity of the injuries, we can only speculate as of right now as to how they are faring. I am high on Guss Scott, but that does not mean I want to see him starting for the rest of the season. Ditto for Nick Kaczur, as no one is criticizing Bill Belichick anymore for rotating him in at right and left tackle the first couple of games of the season. It looks like a very intelligent and prescient decision right now. Of course, having two rookies on the offensive line seems kinda scary, it is hard to find fault with Logan Mankins this season, and Kaczur looks far too good to be a third round pick. In fact, the Patriots draft picks are once again shining bright: Mankins and Kaczur starting on the offensive line; Ellis Hobbs being forced in at nickel back and sparking the kick return game; and James Sanders and Matt Cassell both just making the squad as late round picks is impressive.
Of course, this is the NFL, and no team is ever free of injuries. As the Patriots try to fight through their loss of two key cogs, remember that the Jets are going to likely be without Chad Pennington for the foreseeable future, and the Bills will lose Takeo Spikes for the season. The Patriots have withstood key injuries in the past and come back strong enough to be champions. Now, we will see if Mike Mularkey and Herm Edwards have the coaching skills and chutzpah to guide their teams to the playoffs with the loss of key players. Somehow, I think the advantage still rests with New England.
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THIS IS WHAT WE WANTED, RIGHT?
Tied with the Yankees, one week to play, winner take all, three games at Fenway, this is what we wanted, right? I know this is what I wanted: a good old-fashioned pennant race. Sox and Yankees, Indians and White Sox, the only way it could be better were if Oakland and L.A./Anaheim/California were in a race as well.
There really have been very few real pennant races involving the Red Sox in the past twenty-five years or so that I remember. I was four in 1978, so my memories of that race are limited (in fact, my first real memories about baseball are from 1979). 1986 was a run-away, and really the most impressive regular season race was in 1990 (I believe) with Bruno making the diving catch in the right field corner with the camera angle obstructed by the wall.
The playoffs and pennant races are so important to me not just because of the Red Sox and games, but the way it brings family and friends together. Everyone follows the Sox, it is on the mind of everyone and they all want to talk Sox. Everyone is into the games and sits together in the living room watching the games with tense excitement in the air.
I remember last year when we were at the condo, watching the games with Kat and I sitting in the same place on the couch. Heck, even David, the most non-sports person in the country, was watching the games. Little Hal, in the divisional series against the Angels became our Rally Weasel (we were trying to think of something that would catch and eat the Rally Monkey), and he would run circles around the living room as we would shout out: Rally Weasel! Rally Weasel! Rally Weasel! I even dragged him out of bed one night because I needed him there for good luck in game seven against the Yankees when Pedro came out of the pen and almost coughed up the game. As I carried him back to bed after that inning, I thought back to the first super bowl the Patriots won, where he laid in my lap most of the game, only four months old, and I remembered how, when the Rams came back to tie the score in the second half, I ran upstairs to pull him out of his crib so I had him with me again, and I thought that this is why sports are so important: for how they make you feel like part of a family and bring you closer to your family.
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