Monday, May 01, 2006

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT

Oh God, Yankees versus the Red Sox tonight for the first time this season. I guess it is safe to say that the Comcast MLB Extra innings package is not going to get much use tonight. In fact, if the other teams play while the Sox face the Yankees, does anyone east of Philadelphia even notice?

What can be said since the entire series (only two games, thankfully) this tilt focuses on Johnny Damon? Yeah, he got booed and he deserved it. Nuff said.

Just exhaled here at 10:17PM in beautiful East Taunton. Sox 7, Bad Guys 3. Papelbon shows them the future. Mirabelli returns. Big Papi absolutely DESTROYED one from Mike Myers to blow the game open. Derek Jeter, aka the greatest, smartest, most amazing player in the history of the game makes a bonehead running play and turns a great play by Mark Loretta into an inning-ending double play. Speaking of Loretta, he came through with the eighth inning grounder up the middle that just got by Robinson Cano (and where was Derek No Range Jeter as Cano was five feet past second base?) and brought in Willie Harris who was absolutely motoring around the bases. Also, kudos to Alex Cora who had a bunt single and drew the walk to start the rally in the eighth. Kevin Youkilis got on base three times. Manny had a couple hits. Wily Mo Pena had a good game in centerfield.

What a way to start off the 19 game tilt. Just a great game.

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Big Dougie Comes Home:

Well, I guess it is safe to say that the WEEI crew and callers will be happy. I think it is a shame we had to throw in Cla Meredith. Way too much to give up if you ask me.

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Celebreality:

Why does NESN embarrass themselves and show Billy Baldwin and Joseph Abboud in the stands? What a couple of B-List celebrities. What, no Pauly Shore? Ben Affleck home changing diapers? Kevin Federline indisposed? Too bad Flavor Flav was not at the game. Then we would have some REAL celebrities. FLAVOR- FLAAAAAAAAAVVVVV!

In a word, pitiful.

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DRAFT RECAP

Yeah, I thought I got a steal grabbing Tom Glavine in the 24th round. What? NFL Draft? I thought everyone wanted to hear about my fantasy baseball draft? OK, Whatever.

In a way, I think the shock still has not subsided with a draft by Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick that included vast amounts of offensive firepower: a running back with skills on par with some of the best backs in the league, a wide receiver with a skill set strangely familiar (kind of like that Givens guy with Tennessee), a not-here-to-block receiving tight end (in a two tight end set, of course), a receiving fullback who can move around and play H-back, tight end, or be a dump-off option, a kicker, a MASSIVE right tackle development project, and another guard (hmm, who played for that guy Charlie Weis last season) who the team can develop. Geez, you would think they were trying to keep their quarterback upright, give him plenty of options, and build a running game and have outlets to keep blitzes off of him!

For the first time since 2002, the Patriots loaded up on the offensive side. Remember, in 2002 they grabbed Daniel Graham (who may or may not be back in 2007), Deion Branch (who is going to get very rich, very soon I hope), serviceable backup QB (for a few years) Riders of Rohan Davey, seventh round roll of the dice Antwoine Womack (who just did not have it after knee surgery) and the other seventh round project, David Givens (who is now very, very rich and should be sending thank you cards to Charlie Weis, Bill Belichick, and all his position coaches in New England every freaking Christmas for the rest of his life). The lone defensive stalwart that draft? Jarvis Green: back-up defensive end and Peyton Manning crusher extraordinaire.

Of course, defense was the question on the lips of everyone as the Patriots passed up the over-rated defensive end/outside linebacker (did three linemen ever do less and go so much guaranteed money other than the NC State Wolfpack Three?) to draft Laurence Maroney. From what I understand, Jeremy Mincey, the defensive end/outside linebacker they got in the sixth round did not rate much differently than Manny Lawson. Why Lawson leapt up the board and Mincey dropped is unknown, but I for one will not complain. Sure, I think if Michael Huff, Brodrick Bunkley, Ernie Sims, Jason Allen, or Chad Greenway were around the Patriots would have grabbed one of them over Maroney. The old saying is true: the team that stretches to fill a need never wins. You take the best player in front of you all the time because every position is a need at some point within a three years window.

I like the picks by the Patriots. Whether this draft is as strong as last year where they got three immediate starters in the first three picks (Logan Mankins, LG; Ellis Hobbs, CB; and Nick Kaczur, RT) along with a potential steal (Matt Cassell, QB, sixth round) along with some serviceable parts who were hampered by injuries (Ryan Claridge, LB and James Sanders, S); or a knock-out punch like 2003 when the Patriots grabbed four starters (Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel, and Dan Koppen) and three special teams standouts and solid back-ups (Bethel Johnson [OK, kind of a generous stretch there], Dan Klecko, and Tully Banta-Cain; or a flop like 2000 (other than the sixth round pick, some skinny QB named Tom Brady and a solid seventh round pick, Patrick Pass); but never let us mention the names Adrian Klemm, J.R. Redmond, Greg Robinson-Randall, Dave Stachelski, Jeff Marriott, Antwan Harris, David Nugent, or Casey Tisdale ever again.

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FANNING THE FLAMES

Just so we are all on the same page, let us review the facts before us:
1. Josh Beckett pitched a big old stinker against a team that won 90 games last season.
2. The team mysteriously does not score runs when Tim Wakefield pitches.
3. Josh Bard is having trouble catching the knuckleballer.
4. The Red Sox miss the bat, speed, and presence of Coco Crisp.
5. Lenny DiNardo may not be the answer as the number five starter until David Wells is healthy again.

THE TIME FOR WIDESPREAD PANIC IS UPON US!

Puh-leeze. Let me rebut:

1. Josh Beckett is one of the five best pitchers in baseball right now. One game does not a season make.
2. The law of averages as it pertains to a knuckleball pitcher seems to indicate that Tim Wakefield will win 12 to 15 games this season, as per usual.
3. I have caught a knuckleball, it is not easy. Give the kid a break, seriously.
4. No doubt, this is the biggest reason for the team slump at the plate. With Coco on base, Mark Loretta sees more fastballs. More fastballs equals more hits. Two on and Ortiz up means Big Papi does not automatically draw a walk. More on base, more chances for Manny to drive in runs. It all starts with Coco.
5. The Red Sox do have legitimate options at AAA if Lenny cannot step it up: Abe Alvarez would be a great fit in the rotation, as would Matt Ginter. Also, do not forget that Jon Lester is working his way towards being ready to join the rotation in July/August/September if necessary.

The Red Sox have ninety-five reasons not to panic. Ninety-five wins looks about right for this club. The hits will come. The pitching is there. There is too much going right to get too upset about what is going wrong right now.

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