Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MY OLD MAN WAS BORN TO ROCK / HE’S STILL TRYING TO BEAT THE CLOCK

Babe Ruth had just called his shot, pointing out his home run before he hit it way back in 1932 in the World Series against the Cubs and pitcher Charlie Root. Why is this relevant? Because just around that time my dear old Dad was born. Seventy-three years later and I just wanted to take this time to thank him for all the times he pitched batting practice, caught, hit ground balls, tossed around the football, played HORSE, shot hoops, suffered through 21-18 little league games featuring forty walks, and let me put on the Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, & BC Eagles games. Without you, Dad, there would be no love of sports to pass on to my kids. Thank you again for everything. I love you and hope to be as great a father to my kids as you were to us. Happy birthday, Dad.

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RED SOX:

DECONSTRUCTION DAZE:

I cannot help it: I am giddy with excitement about the possibilities facing the Red Sox this off-season. Much like the Patriots in 2002, the 2005 Red Sox were a flawed team coming off their first post-season triumph in the modern era. The team made some moves, but for the most part allowed sentimental favorites linger on a season too long instead of getting top dollar for them in trade (Alan Embree, Mark Bellhorn, Mike Timlin, Bronson Arroyo, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon). Excluding Nixon, who must have pictures of John Henry from some night no one wants to talk about, all of the players listed above are already, have one foot out, or likely will be gone next season.

Of course, that is good in some regards. Kevin Youkilis finally will get a full season at third base; Dustin Pedroia should take over second base; Craig Hanson will be the key set-up man for Keith Foulke; and Jonathan Papelbon will take over a spot in the rotation (and hopefully Jon Lester will be up as well, with Abe Alvarez in the wings to take over a rotation spot in 2007). David Murphy should get a shot at the center field job, and Damon Buford and Darren Lewis can come in and fill the position for a season if need be (or players of their caliber, as they are a dime a dozen).

Personally, I believe the main goal of the Sox should be to fill centerfield and to find a DH. Big Papi should be out at first base unless Olerud gets some time there and Ortiz can DH those days. It will be easier to find an outfielder to DH than to find a first baseman. Let Papi Play! According to Red Sox front office stat-man the venerable Bill James, Papi is just as good, if not better, than Kevin Millar at first. Remember who gunned out Jeff Suppan at third in the 2004 World Series: Big Papi at first base.

Let the Hot Stove heat up, baby!

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PATRIOTS:

BUCKING BRONCOS:

One more game for the Pats and then the much needed week off. Most importantly, the schedule turns to the cream puffs of the league (well, except for Indy). It will be amazing how much better the defense will look after six games against Buffalo, NY Jets, and Miami and their horrendous offenses (Other games also include Kansas City, and Tampa Bay as well as New Orleans in there as well, as Mr. & Mrs. BostonSportPage will be out to boo Joe Horn in Foxboro right before Turkey Day as we have tix to root on the home team against the lost boys wandering around outside in America. I was looking forward to booing my fantasy league loser deluxe, Deuce McAllister, before he blew his knee out. Now I am stuck hoping Cadillac Williams gets healthy and productive again in a hurry. Three games on my bench = 450+ yards for the Caddy; One game starting = 13 yards and an injury - the one week Do Nothing Deuce gains 100+ on my bench!).

Anyway back to reality, the Broncos present a simple, yet complex, proposition on offense for the Patriots defense. Stopping the running game leads to an over-dependence on shaky quarterback Jake Plummer who is prone to fits of throwing interceptions. Believe me, I skated by with Plummer as my fantasy QB for two seasons before trading him in for Matt Hasselbeck. He is not someone you want to depend upon to win games for you. He is best when the running game is clicking, he can hit his receivers on quick, 7-12 yard routes, and occasionally take a shot deep off the play-action. When forced to throw it up there and win a game, the Jake the Snake Mistakes show up early and often.

Fortunately, the Broncos follow immediately after the Falcons who run a similar trap-blocking run game. With the experience of shutting down the Falcons running game staying in the 3-4 gives the Patriots some familiarity with the chop-blocking Broncos. If the Patriots stop the run early, it could be their first blowout of the season. If the Broncos can run effectively, however, it is the type of game that grind on and be a tough road to hoe. Of course, the scary thing is that Matt Schaub probably did better against the Pats than Jake the Pillow Snake will on Sunday.

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CELTICS:

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES:


First post-season game of the year last night and I almost missed it. If not for Hal (or as his handle is on Tony Hawk ProSkater 3 for Xbox: Hal Dawg. Dad, make sure I am Hal Dawg when we play Tony Hawk!), I would have missed it and instead spent the whole evening with the Angels-White Sox game instead of switching back and forth. Little Hal Dawg says to me, completely out of the blue as he is coloring on the living room floor (well, coloring in his coloring book while lying on the living room floor): Dad, I cannot wait until we can see the Celtics again. All of a sudden it hit me that the Celtics were playing their first pre-season game that night. Zip. Right to FSN just in time for the game.

Good thing I caught the game right from the beginning, because that was the time to catch it. Granted, it was Cleveland and they were playing without LeBron James, but the Celtics looked great out of the gate. Dan Dickau looked like he was born to play for the Green, and it was great to see the ball movement. Granted, it is a little early for this to be a trend, but if Dickau keeps penetrating the lane, drawing defenders, and kicking out to an open Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce, then it could be an exciting season for the Celtics this season.

By the second half, the second and third teams played some sloppy ball, as was expected. Justin Reed looked good on defense, giving the team hope he could become a Bruce Bowen type player off the bench. Ryan Gomes looked good as well, as he seems intent on making the teams that passed on the first round talent (some twice!) pay for their mistake. Gomes looks like he could be the perfect tweener: quick enough to defend a 3 and strong enough to mix it up with a 4 down low; and with a good outside shot to take a 4 away from the basket and the strength to post-up a 3. He gives Coach Rivers a lot of options on offense and defense.

Big Kendrick Perkins was moving people around on the second team like the man-child he is out on the court. Rivers needs to play him until he fouls out every game just to have him on the court. He is a disruptive force on defense and can clean the boards. His best attribute is the toughness and sheer muscle he brings to the court.

Mark Blount did not look like the 2003-04 Mark Blount, but then again he did not look like the 2004-05 Mark Blount either which is a huge plus.

Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis both seemed focused on passing the ball, which is great, and one hopes they keep it up, but it is doubtful that will happen. But, hey, hope springs eternal, right?

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