Well, the weekend sports scene was a bit anti-climactic and a bummer to say the least. The Yankees cleaned-up on Saturday to clinch the AL East and launch the thousands of callers to WEEI who all babbled the same mantra: We never knew that Yankees could clinch the East. Why is there no playoff?
Of course, no one could imagine that the Indians would drop three in a row to the White Sox minor leaguers and assorted bench players with their entire season on the line. Even so, it was a known possibility and as the Indians kept losing, the situation cleared itself up with a minimum of drama.
Of course, the Yankees, in honor of winning the East, et the privilege of flying across the country to play the Angels, while the Red Sox skip across a time zone to play the Pale Hose. The White Sox, as Jayson Stark pointed on ESPN.com, went 30-28 down the stretch; the exact same record as the abysmal Colorado Rockies.
So Jose Contreras is tabbed to pitch game one against the Red Sox, who counter with Matt Clement. Clement, who lest we forget could be elsewhere with Eric Milton or Jared Wright in the rotation in his place, should be able to make a positive post-season mark as the White Sox hitting is weak and Contreras historically struggles against the Sox. If Boston jumps out early on Contreras, it will be a long afternoon for the White Sox fans.
The most under-rated part of the match-up is watching and waiting for Ozzie Guillen to eventually blow-up and do something beyond belief. I really thought the White Sox would blow the division to Cleveland and Guillen would be finally exposed as the horrible manager he is. Alas, it was not so as the White Sox streaked to the division in spite of Guillen at the helm. I have to say, one of the great things about having had the MLB package this year (other than getting my weekly dose of Derek Lowe stinking the joint up in Los Angeles) was keeping tabs on other teams that I would never get a chance to see. So I am not some Johnny-Come-Lately on the Ozzie Guillen bash-mobile, I saw 20-30 White Sox games (what can I say, I love Mark Beuhrle, even when he is not on my fantasy league team) and Guillen makes some puzzling decisions to say the least.
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HARD DAYS NIGHT:
Hopefully I will have some time tonight to get into the match-up more, but with work keeping my hopping and my little Emma Bean sick at home, time is tight. Of course, the 4pm game time for game one is perfect (note, dripping with sarcasm) as I will have to follow the early innings on ESPN Gamecast at work and then harass various family members for updates on the train ride home. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can catch the last inning or two at home.
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8-8 IS NOT AN OPTION:
OK, first off I do not want to hear one word about injuries as an excuse. The team knew realistically in February that Tedy Bruschi was out for the season and must have known during the summer that there was a good chance that Ted Johnson would not be back as well, so those two being out should NEVER be mentioned. Just because the media was clueless does not mean that Belichick & Pioli were clueless.
Also, this team won with Earthwind Moreland, Troy Brown, and Hank Poteat in the secondary last season, so secondary injuries are not an option as an excuse either. As far as offensive line injuries and rookies starting, they have started before and they will start again, so none of those injuries are valid. The offense missed Kevin Faulk? Puh-leeeze!
Here is what I will accept: Without Rodney Harrison, the team needed a week to get their heads straightened out and needed a good, solid ass-kicking to wake themselves up, which is exactly what happened with the release of Lawyer Milloy at the start of the 2003 season. There are no excuses going forward with this team. I expect, as I am sure does Belichick and Pioli, that this team as assembled should win 12 games, finish first in the AFC East, and also get a bye in the first round and with it home field in round two, the divisional round or whatever they call it. That is the bare minimum expected of the Patriots right now. This team is good, their divisional opponents are actually worse than I anticipated, and they need only survive two more weeks before the bye week.
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MICHAEL-MIKE VICK ALERT:
As the Pats fans (who are shuffled aside due to the Sox in the playoffs and have no voice now) obsess over Michael Vick, remember that this Atlanta team should have been in the Super Bowl last season and are better than Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and everyone else out in the NFC right now. This is no easy match-up and I hope to have time to bring a full analysis and preview of the match-up in the coming days, including hopefully something special in preparation to the game as well.
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