Tuesday, June 06, 2006

STRING HIM UP

Josh Beckett is 7-3. Before the Bozo Express (WEEI Talking Empty Heads, Horrigan at the Herald, etc) tries to run him out of town (because anyone who thinks Hanley Ramirez would be outperforming Alex Gonzalez in the Boston pressure cooker is nuts) because of a not-so-perfect transition to the American League, everyone in the media and the morons with no life and able to hold on the line at WEEI for an hour to scream like an idiot needs to take a step back. He is still the same age as most rookie pitchers (see Jonathan Papelbon), and was the best pitcher available last season. Who else out there was better? Josh Beckett is 7-3. He will be an all-star for many years to come. Everyone needs to relax and let Beckett take the ball every five days.

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TRADE WINDS BLOW:

Let the Bethel Johnson era end at last in Foxboro, and not a day too soon! That the Patriots got anything for Johnson is a miracle. He was just the latest example of why teams need to draft football players instead of decathaletes (is that a word? Bruce Jenner was a decathalete. Either way, I just made the word up if it is not.). Johnson may do alright in New Orleans and contribute as a fourth receiver, but I am not holding my breath.

Getting Jonathan Sullivan in return takes a load off my mind. With no back-up at nose tackle to fill in for Big Vince Wilfork (Dan Klecko and the undrafted free agent parade were not much reassurance), Sullivan should at minimum fill that role. It is almost impossible to believe that he went number six overall and seven spots ahead of Ty Warren.

The best part of Sullivan in New England should be the presence of Richard Seymour. A former teammate at the University of Georgia, Seymour should be able to help him learn the defense, and hopefully keep him in line and keep him in the weight room the rest of the offseason. This is the first test for Seymour in his role as the newly appointed leader of the Patriots defense. If Sullivan shows one-half the talent he flashed in Georgia, the Patriots have a steal.

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VACATION ENDS

Yes, sorry to disappoint, but I am back from a refreshing week of vacation in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. So much going on in Boston Sports, and so little time on the train ride home from work to write, so here we go:

RED SOX:

Was there ever a more rushed series than the three games in Detroit? The feeling was one of: Get this over with and get to New York ASAP. I admit, there is nothing in sports more exciting than Red Sox-Yankees in the new millennium since the days of Celtics-Lakers, Celtics-76ers, Bruins-Canadians back in the good old days in the early 1980s (although, Patriots-Colts or Patriots-Steelers is right up there. A little bulletin board material from Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning and this is ready to blossom into a real knock-down, drag-out rivalry), but the Red Sox desperately needed to take 2 of 3 from the Tigers. Fortunately, and barely, they did pull it off. The Tigers, although they have lost 4 of 6 to the Yankees and Red Sox in the last week, are a very impressive team. Built around some very good, very young pitchers, they are a few big-time bats away from being able to make some noise and make a run at the Wild Card. Without former Red Sox farm hand, Mike Maroth, who is out on the DL for an extended stay, the Tigers will not make that run this year, but they are getting very close.

Ahh, but it is all-Yankees, all the time, for the next few days in Boston. The Yankees and Red Sox are both a bit dinged-up, but are both hanging in at the top of the division, waiting for Toronto to realize that Edgardo Alfonso is washed-up and in no way should be at 2b, and that Shea Hillenbrand is hitting .352 on his way to.265 before the calendar hits August. The Yankees, who I must give credit to, have cobbled together an effective, if not pretty, group of dirt dogs (Whoops, I may be impinging on a trademark there) who have battled and hung in this season. Melky Cabrera has been better than expected, Bernie Williams has not embarrassed himself, Kelly Stinnett has proved adequate at catcher, and Andy Phillips has done well since finally getting his long overdue chance to play in the major leagues. Kudos to Brian Cashman, he may have made a deal with the devil, but he is doing better than expected with all the injuries the team has absorbed.

Red Sox and the Yankees. Evenly matched for all intents and purposes since 2003. Ready to battle again.

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