Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BEST WISHES FOR THE BEST WRITER

The breaking news is that ESPN.com writer, Baseball Tonight Analyst, Music Guru, former Boston Globe writer, and the greatest and most influencial baseball writer of the past 20 years Peter Gammons had a brain aneurysm. Gammons was med-flighted from Cape Cod to Boston, had surgery, and is out of surgery and in intensive care. Prayers, well wishes, and hopes for a speedy recovery for Gammons.

THE WHO FIRED WHO?

Bruins fire Coach Mike Sullivan. Call me when someone other than Sonny cares.

PICK A WINNER:

Lucky number seven. What in the world is Danny Ainge going to do with the pick? Is a trade going down? What veteran player would they target? Are the Celtics trading up or trading down? Is there some fishy deal with Kevin McHale and the Timberwolves and the sixth pick? Who the heck is going to be around at number seven? Do you draft for need or draft the best player available? Is character an issue and how much will it factor in the equation in relation to talent? Will marketability come into play by drawing fans from the once fertile Connecticut region with a UConn player? Is there a European player worth taking and waiting a year to play in the NBA? Those are the questions that Danny Ainge faces before making his move Wednesday night at the 2006 NBA draft.

Suffice to say, I pity the man. The Celtics have a legitimate all-star (Paul Pierce), a near all-star who can score (Wally Szczerbiak), a veteran who can help out off the bench for instant offense and rebounding (Raef LaFrenz), and a whole heck of a lot of youth, athleticism, and inexperience everywhere else. And Dan Dickau, Kandi Man, and Scalabrine are trade bait, right?

Is Big Al ready to make the next step? How about Big Perk? What is the future role for Delonte West? Or for that matter, Ryan Gomes? Should we expect more out of the Green Greens(es): Gerald Green and Orien Greene. Will Tony Allen return as the player with potential or the injured troublemaker of last season? Finally, what do the Celtics have in Dwayne Jones?

Of course, look at the names thrown around in trades for the number seven pick. Allen Iverson? Sebastian Telfair? Chris Duhon? How about the potential draftees? I have heard all of the following: Brandon Roy, Adam Morrison, Rudy Gay, Villanova Wildcat Randy Foye, Rajon Rando, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Williams, Shawne Williams, Sheldon Williams (how many freaking Williams are there in this draft?), and LaMarcus Aldridge.

All-in-all, there are more questions than anyone could ponder with this draft, but at least on Thursday morning, we will have some sort of idea as to where the Celtics are going with the team next season.

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TO BOO OR NOT TO BOO? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Welcome home, Pedro. Yes, despite all the venom I directed at a certain Mr. Martinez in the past (and I am not talking about his dead-arm brother, Ramon), I will be applauding Pedro as I sit on the couch watching the Sox take on the Mets on Wednesday night. The hatchet has been buried. My seven years of loving Pedro and watching in awe as he made batters look silly have undone the hurt.

The fact is that Pedro disrespected and all but spit in the face of the Red Sox ownership triumvirate and GM Theo Epstein for having the audacity to bring in curt Schilling and not bending over far enough to kiss his skinny Dominican arse. Pedro, like Nomar before him, became jaded by the Dan Duquette/John Harrington reign. They expected the management team to bow to their demands. To ask their opinions on players and deals, to give them the red carpet treatment. Henry, Warner, Luccchino, and Epstein did not play that game. They looked for bang for the buck, for players who took the ball without whining to the press, who did not cry about the media haunting them in the clubhouse.

Pedro Martinez was a bad match for the Boston Red Sox going forward. He, like Roger Clemens before him, needed a change of scenery. He needed a new challenge, a new market, a fresh start. I truly think the team understood it was in his best interest to part ways. Sometimes players, heck, PEOPLE, need that for whatever reason. Nothing too serious, but just a new challenge; Pedro had done everything he could do in Boston. Schilling was the new bulldog. Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester were climbing the ladder, a new star was just a trade away (Josh Beckett), and Manny Ramierez and David Ortiz have survived, somehow, without Brother Pedro there to look out for them.

Pedro, from 1997 through 2002, was the greatest pitcher I ever saw in my lifetime. Better than Clemens, better than Randy Johnson, Schilling, Greg Maddux, Ron Guidry, Dave Stewart, and everyone else who has pitched since the late seventies. He made it look so easy, and before he had to rebuild his shoulder and lost that fastball that Jonathan Papelbon has these days: 97 mph and up that just explodes when it gets to the plate, he was too good to believe. He should have had a dozen no-hitters over those five years, but he was too smart. He, like Clemens, knew enough to save pitches and pitch to contact with the bottom of the order and often paid by having a number eight or nine hitter poke a single. Of course, by the same token, he probably lost a few shutouts by NOT backing down to the number three and four hitters and challenging them every at bat rather than nibbling and giving them a walk.

Pedro was the best ever. He is still damned good. His shoulder/back/body will not last past 2007, a breakdown is inevitable, but I will stand and cheer for him before he throws a pitch and raise a glass to him for all the memories. Then I will root for the Red Sox to tag him for eight runs and get to the bullpen by the fourth inning, just how I want every opposing pitcher to be treated because those socks Pedro wears are blue and orange now.

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New England Patriots: On Vacation as Free Agency Begins - Full Press Coverage

The 2019 NFL year has begun with the advent of free agency and as usual the New England Patriots are one of the quietest teams. While teams ...