Saturday, December 03, 2005

JUMBO REDUX

Not to beat a dead horse on his way out of town, but I think there is a legitimate comparison to Joe Thornton out in the sporting arena: A-Rod. Here are five reasons:

1. Both are significantly overpaid. Thornton, who the Bruins would have liked to have signed for a pinch less than $5 million per season, had to be ponied-up almost $7 million per season. While not in the stratospheric salary category like Hamburger Helper himself, Thornton commands a lot of money and should realize the expectations that come with such an anointing.

2. Both came into situations as a number one overall pick and an established veteran ahead of them: A-Rod had Ken Griffey Jr. and Jumbo had Ray Bourque.

3. Both have a nasty habit of disappearing in the playoffs.

4. Both have a teammate who is a fan favorite because they hustle, give the extra effort, and appear to deeply care about winning: A-Rod has to deal with Jeter; Thornton has to deal with half the team being looked upon as gritty players.

5. Both have amazing physical skills and put up great individual statistics, but never win when it counts and fail in the clutch when they are needed the most.

They are Mr. May and Mr. October. Of course, Mr. May wants to be Mr. October and vice-versa. If their timing for heroics were reversed, they would both be mythic stars of the sports pantheon.

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GANG-GREEN:

Not that I like to brag (after all, I LOVE to brag) but I occasionally make an exception (as I withheld from spouting off about how the Pats smacked around the Falcons earlier this year to my Falcon loving nephew Ed Hall and Falcon loving pal Erik Love over at Falcons Daily); however, this is no time to rest on my laurels. I have been shouting on this blog since its inception last winter than the Celtics need to take Big Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins and put them out on the floor until they foul out on a nightly basis. Big Al, of course, had his break-out performance in the playoffs against Indiana, but Perk was stuck biding his time behind the Tin Man (aka the Mark Blount). But what a show Perk put on against the mighty 76ers (not the sarcasm dripping as I type the word mighty) as he put up a Bill Russell/Dave Cowens line: 12 points and 19 rebounds before fouling out.

Is there any reason not to put Perk out on the court every night? Sure, 12-19 is not likely to happen again soon, and I would be ecstatic if he consistently put up a 6-9 line every night the rest of the way. Let me be clear: the Celtics may make the playoffs and win a series this year, but they are not championship contenders by any stretch. This team needs to develop Big Al and Perk, along with Delonte West, Tony Allen (if he can stay out of trouble. Crap. I never should have written that. New I am on his list. He will walk by with his entourage and see me now, and say: F#$& that guy up!), Gerald Green, Orien Greene, Ryan Gomes, and, if he ever returns, Marcus Money Banks. Dan Dickau, Raef LaFrentz, and Mark Blount are objects to be traded at the appropriate time - nothing more, nothing less. Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce are the building blocks to build around. Play the kids now, reap the rewards later. This seems to be the Patriots plan right now, and if you have to imitate anyone at all: why not the Pats?

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YOU KNOW CURTIS AND TY, AND ALL OF THOSE GUYS:

The time is now, Bill Belichick. Is it 2001 or 2002? Is this Patriots team ready to turn it on and win some confidence back right now.

OK, the truth: I hate the Jets. It makes me sick for a week when the Pats lose a game to the Jets. I just want to watch the Herm Squirm non-stop from 4:15 until the end of the game: that face he makes as the game slips away and he looks like he just took a giant-sized dump in his adult diaper.

* * *

Arsenal 3 Rovers 0

After coming from a 3-0 spanking the Bruins laid on the Ottawa Senators, I was still in the mood to watch a little more sport. I turned to my faithful TiVo, where my weekly dose of EPL waited. The match, Arsenal Gunners at home vs. Blackburn Rovers. A very well fought match on both sides started with an early goal by Arsenal's young phenom, the super-emotional Fransesc Fabergas. The Rovers weren't bending over at this point, they had the fight still in them. They pressed on and kept the Arsenal squad on their feet as several shots by Steven Reid and Craig Bellamy threatened to knot this game up. However, the Frenchman Thierry Henry laid in a pretty masterful goal at the end of the first half to make it 2-0. The second half was very scrappy, with Bellamy and Reid making lots of chances for themselves and for the Rovers. The 60th minute saw the return of Blackburn's David Thompson, who, despite being rusty, booted some solid shots towards goal. However, at the end, the Dutch youngster Robin van Persie, laid home the coup de grace, and a sweet shot, to stick the fork in the underachieving Rovers. Still, a
well-played match all around. As is typical with an Arsenal game, minor altercations occurred between the teams on the field, but nothing that got out of hand. Man-baby Arsene Wenger has certainly put together a talented team, it's too bad they are so easy to dislike.

Some up-and-coming stars to look out for: Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen - the quick Norwegian has the potential to be a dangerous attacking midfielder from the left side, and you can look for him to only improve in the next few years; Arsenal's Robin van Persie - 7 goals in 7 games, you do the math; Rovers' Craig Bellamy - this kid is quick and athletic, I think Arsenal really underestimated him, he's going to do great things at Ewood Park. Duds? Paul Dickov of the Blackburn Rovers - retire, already, won't you?

-Christopher J. Brigham

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