Friday, August 11, 2006

PRE-SEASON? WHERE IS THE SMACK TALK?

Must admit, I am not a big fan of Michael Vick. Rocket arm. Rocket legs. Despicable accuracy. Poor decision-making. Is it just coincidence the Falcons looked so good against the decimated 2005 Patriots with Matt Schaub at quarterback instead of the Human Marketing Campaign? But who cares about the Falcons anyway? OK, my nephew Ed & Erik Love of the Falcons Daily Double Blog. But I have no love for the Hotlanta franchise and in fact kind of detest any team with Lawyer Milloy onboard.

It is all about the PATS! Of course, it is only preseason. But it is FOOTBALL!

Not to digress, but something I just HAVE to get off my chest. I love baseball. Everything about it. Strategy, statistics, history, players, fantasy, stat-o-matic, personalities, media, idiosyncrasies, all of it. But football is a different beast. It is not a daily grind, a game to watch while you sit back and relax. Football is like the playoffs in baseball EVERY SUNDAY. The only Super Bowl I have ever missed since I can remember is when I was nine and it was the second half of Super Bowl XVII when the Redskins lost to the Raiders because at the time I was a huge Redskins fan and my brother was taunting me at halftime about the Raiders winning and I started beating the crap out of him. I spent the second half of the game grounded up in my room.

Having digressed from my digression, the point is that while the Red Sox winning the World Series was a wonderful and unbelievable event, by game six of the ALCS against the Yankees, I knew it was over and there was no stopping them. With the Patriots in the Super Bowl against the Rams, I still had not recovered from the stroke I probably had when Vinatieri hit the first field goal in the snow against the Raiders. It was just like Super Bowl XX against the Bears: huge underdogs, got lucky to get there; everyone was just happy to be there. Yet there they were in control of the game at halftime. The Rams predictably came back late in the game, and NO ONE, I mean ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, thought the Patriots would win. Yet they did.

2004 and the Red Sox were three years away. The impossible happened that day on the turf against the Rams. I had accepted the fact that I was never going to see another world championship team in my lifetime. The Celtics had just been raped by Rick Pitino, the Bruins had stopped trying 20 years earlier, the Patriots were still only two years away from the Pete Carroll era, and the Red Sox were still being run by Dan Duquette and John Harrington. I mean, it was not going to happen, and I accepted it. Sitting on the couch and watching Brady drive the team down the field as I sat with my wife and two best friends and held my four month old son was just an amazing memory that I can still see in my head happening in slow motion. It was magical. It was unbelievable. It was an event that could never be topped by any sporting event ever again. Maybe I am not making any sense (which is fairly common), but the Sox World Series was not as special as the Patriots first super bowl victory.

Digressions aside, I am excited to watch the Patriots in action again. Ellis Hobbs maturing into a top cornerback. Three dynamic, pass receiving tight ends (Dave Thomas, my favorite Longhorn, is gonna be a keeper!). Tebucky Jones back in the fold. Young linebackers on the field (I really think Freddie Roach is one of those guys that in three years can be the next Ted Johnson here. What did he do wrong other than run a slow 40 yard dash? No one cares how fast you run when you are shedding linemen and dropping ball carriers in the middle of the field). Matt Cassell, the next Brady or the next Scott Secules? 3-4 or 4-3 defense? Where will Eugene Wilson play? Is Maroney the real deal?

Heck, I am just ready for Patriots football!

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TRYING TIMES

Now we have reached that inevitable point of the season where I can throw out all the doozies from my cliche cache as the Red Sox struggle through injuries and inconsistency in these first weeks of August. Forget about it. Lose three straight to the Royal? Forget about it. Lose two of three to the Devil Rays and be mocked with Sweet Caroline playing as the Sox walk off the field? Forget about it. Three games back of the Yankees? Forget about it.

Here are the facts:
There are still seven weeks of regular season baseball left.
The Red Sox play the Yankees nine more times.
The Red Sox will not play .500 baseball the rest of the season. They are just too talented.
The Yankees will likely play .500 baseball the rest of the season. They sure as hell will not keep winning 7 of 10 the rest of the way unless Mariano Rivera starts coming into games in the sixth inning ala Goose Gossage in the seventies.
Pennants are not won in August, they are won in September and October.

Here are the opinions:
Anyone saying the season is over is actually just waiting for football to start and turn Sunday afternoon back into a national holiday.
I will take David Wells over Cory Lidle any day of the week.
Beckett and Schilling will still each win at least 18 games, if not more.
If A-Rod turns into Chuck Knoblauch/Steve Sax/Mackey Sasser in July/August, how many throws will he airmail to right field in Fenway in September?
The Red Sox have David Ortiz. The Yankees best clutch hitter is: Melky Cabrera?
Here is the Yankees platoon: Craig Wilson + Andy Phillips = Wilson Phillips. Wilson Phillips! Hah! Get it? Eighties all-girl pop band with Carnie Wilson belting out tunes with two semi-hot singers (maybe they just looked good next to her in comparison?).

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