Sunday, December 30, 2007

KERMIT IS AN IDIOT

It is easy being Green! Celtics Green, that is.

What a beautiful world it is with the Celtics so relevant. Having been drinking the cool-aid Danny dished for the past three or four years, it is nice to not be only person who can name the starting five for the Celtics.

With the Celtics on the road on the west coast again last night, they matched their win total from last season. On December 27 no less. So to match their record from last season, the Green would need to go 0-55 the remainder of the way.

EVERYONE was excited to see Kevin Garnett wipe the memory of those Gerald Green #5 jerseys from our minds, but who realized how good he really was after all those years carrying the load in Minnesota. And Ray Allen, what a revelation this man has been. What a shooting touch! I’ve been nodding my head watching him play and thinking: “Oh, that is what Wally was supposed to be like these past two years!”

With Paul Pierce able to trust someone else on the team to hit a shot once in a while, it frees the big three up to play some defense. Pierce can dial it up when necessary, such as him dropping 37 on Seattle last night, but it must feel nice for him to know he doesn’t have to do it every night.

With Rajon Rondo showing a jump shot and Big Perk cleaning the boards, this team really is as good as they look. The bench is deep with Eddie House, James Posey, Tony Allen and Scott Pollard providing regular minutes and Big Baby Davis jumping in with Scalabrine when necessary.

Yes, we all thought the Celtics were going to be good this year, but I don’t think anyone really believed that Pierce, Allen, and Pierce would mesh so well and the team defense would improve so dramatically. Whatever the reason, its nice to see the Green relevant again.

* * *

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's never too early...

...to start thinking about the NFL Draft!!!

Forget for a second that the season is only 3/4 of the way over right now. Focus on the fact the Patriots have the number one pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Right now, at 3-9, the 49ers spot would be #2 in the draft behind Miami. That's right, the Patriots would have either LSU stud defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey or uber-superstar running back Darren McFadden from Arkansas. Either one, I think I would be so excited that I pity whoever was standing near me as I fist-pumped and knocked them unconscious in my exuberance.

Here is what Todd McShay over at ESPN.com has for the Pats in his mock draft 1.0 at http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/insider/columns/story?columnist=mcshay_todd&id=3144001:
2. New England Patriots (from 3-9 San Francisco)
Current record: 12-0
Scouts Inc.'s three biggest needs: ILB, CB, OLB
Projected pick: Darren McFadden*, RB, Arkansas
This hardly seems fair. The league's best team lands the draft's top talent -- or strikes another lucrative draft-day deal for him. Both McFadden and Laurence Maroney split carries in college. A two-back rotation would make both last longer, not to mention the possibilities for an offense already overloaded with talent.

OK, it is not good for me to be this excited. I have to go cool down. (Deep breath, deep breath, relax!)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who for Johan?

Now, before I even begin to discuss the wacky idea of giving any pitcher even a five year contract, the question before the Red Sox is how much do you give up to the Twins for Johan Santana? Second, forget about the idea of driving up the price for the Yankees, Johan Santana is a left-handed Pedro from back when Pedro was Pedro (think 1997). So, if we go in assuming that the Red Sox braintrust will sign Santana for 4 years at around $18M to $20M per season, what kind of package is necessary for the Twins?

First, think about it from the hTwins perspective: they have Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and just traded Matt Garza for Delmon Young. The Twins have pitching up the ying-yang, but they will gladly take Clay Bucholz if you give him to them. What they really need are hitters. They need power hitters, speed guys, gap-power guys, anyone who can hit. The problem for the Red Sox (and even more so for the Yankees) is that their top prospects are pitchers, not hitters. In fact, the Red Sox have an appalling lack of power hitters in their system.

So if the trade is going to be made, it is not going to focus on Lester and Buchholz, but rather on the other players in the deal. Of course, the Red Sox would prefer to trade Coco Crisp rather than Jacoby Ellsbury. The top hitting prospect that has been mentioned in any trade has been Jed Lowrie. Here is what Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus had to say about Lowrie in his most recent Future Shock article on the top Red Sox prospects:

Jed Lowrie, SS
DOB: 4/17/84
Height/Weight: 6-0/180
Bats/Throws: S/R
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Stanford
2007 Stats: .297/.410/.501 at Double-A (93 G);
.300/.356/.506 at Triple-A (40 G)
Year In Review: After a disappointing full-season debut, Lowrie had what can only be defined as a breakout campaign, putting up great numbers at both Double- and Triple-A.
The Good: Lowrie is an on-base machine. His approach is highly advanced, as he works the count well, and recognizes which pitches he can drive into the gap. His makeup is off the charts--he’s a baseball grinder who plays and practices with an infectious all-out style. Defensively, he’s fundamentally sound and features a solid, accurate arm.
The Bad: Scouts’ opinions of Lowrie vary wildly, with some seeing him as an everyday big league shortstop, and others seeing him as no more than a very good utility player. There is little doubt that with Lowrie’s average speed and slow first step that his range is a little short to play on the left side of an infield in the big leagues.
Fun Fact: Lowrie is just one of 21 first-round picks to come out of the Stanford baseball program.
Perfect World Projection: A starting shortstop, though second base is more likely.
Timetable: With Julio Lugo still under contract and Dustin Pedroia establishing himself as one of the better second basemen around, Lowrie has no obvious job with the Red Sox. He’ll return to Triple-A in 2008, and probably won’t achieve a full-time role in the majors until he or Lugo gets moved elsewhere.

Of course, out of the top prospects (non-pitcher) outside of Lowrie, the hitters have all been no higher than single-A. Somehow, I do not see the Twins getting too excited about any package that does not have Ellsbury and Lowrie at the minimum. The pitching preospects are likely not the problem, it is the hitting prospects. And this goes for the Yankees as well. They are stocked with young arms, but lack hitters in the minor leagues. Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano would have to be 1 and 2 in any trade offer from the perpective of the Twins needs.

So, what do I think? Well, maybe Santana goes now, maybe at mid-season, but unless the REd Sox or Yankees cough up some major-league ready hitters, there is no deal for Johan.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NL MVP

While I was manipulating statistics to expouse a DH for MVP in the American League, I also used my newly created VORP DIFFERENTIAL and LEADING CAST statistics to select an MVP. What I did not write about (since I am on vacation, have a bad head cold, and was very sleepy at the time) was that I had done the stats for the National League teams as well. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the NL MVP was all out-of-whack.

While reading Joe Sheehan's article on Baseball Prospectus that detailed the NL MVP race, he came to the same conclusions that I had in my groggy state the night before (and he seemed as surprised as I was): http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6944. Nice to know it was not only me who was flabbergasted by the choice of Jimmy Rollins as MVP.

Check out who stands out on my list below and who is conspiciously absent.

VORP RANK NAME TEAM VORP DIFF LEADING CAST
58 Eric Byrnes ARI 2.4 89
6 Chipper Jones ATL 28.5 135.3
29 Derrek Lee CHN 4.7 121
36 Adam Dunn CIN 8.3 119.8
7 Matt Holliday COL 23.1 161.9
2 Hanley Ramirez FLO 18.1 157.33
9 Carlos Lee HOU 0.4 116.2
35 Russell Martin LAN 5.8 110.6
11 Prince Fielder MIL 11.9 148.9
5 David Wright NYN 30 146.7
12 Chase Utley PHI 2.7 206.2
88 Freddy Sanchez PIT 2.7 81.4
49 Adrian Gonzalez SDN 15.4 84.9
19 Barry Bonds SFN 28.8 56.6
9 Albert Pujols SLN 51.4 59.8
57 Dmitri Young WAS 11.7 83.1

Forget Hanley Ramirez already, the MVP is overwhelmingly Albert Pujols. That St. Louis team is really, really bad and Prince Albert carried those jokers. Look at how bad those teams were in their Leading Cast points. David Wright, Chipper Jones and Barry Bonds would be the runner-ups for MVP if ithe award was concernd with truly figuring out who was the most valuable to the team. Jones and Bond? Ugh, how five years ago!

Whos is conspiciously absent? The BBWA (note: I drop the last A because I don't discriminate against baseball writers not of America) choice of Jimmy Rollins does not even make my short list because he was not the VORP leader for the Phillies, instead it was Chase Utley. This goes back to my Joe Gordon rule where an MVP has to first be the most valuable player on his team before he can be most valuable of the league. Another great job by the writers, continuing to make a mockery of the awards voting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A-Rod for MVP?

I will never trust the BBWA and their MVP and other award voting. If Ted Williams loses to Joe Gordon (1942) then you know it is a sham. Of course, this season it has been a given that A-Rod is going to win the award since his tremendous first month. But just how do you determine MVP? I mean, it is supposed to be MOST VALUABLE. How the heck do you measure a players value?

Usually, I would say VORP - Value Over Replacement Player (VORP is defined by Baseball Prospectus as: The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player's defense.

Of course, selecting the top two players by VORP would simply hand the award to A-Rod and Hanley Ramierez (HANLEY???). Obviously, this is not the ideal choice to select an MVP. The MVP has to be the most indispensible player on his team. To try to figure this out, I simply did a VORP differential check. That is, what is the difference between the best player and second best on the team. The larger the difference, the more valuable the player, right?

Well, in the American League, that player was David Ortiz (39.7 VORP DIFF). Uh-oh, too simple. So I decided to see what the leading cast the candidate worked with (composite VORP of the other four players on the team). Well, did that make any difference? Umm, it told me that good teams have four other good players beside their top player. This really juist illuminates that A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez had a great supporting cast, while the Sox supporting cast was very good (and the White Sox and Royals are really, really bad). Check out the chart I put together showing the stats for AL MVP with their VORP RANK (AL & NL) as well as their VORP differential to the next best player on the team, as well as the combined VORP of players 2 through 5 by their offensive VORP ranking.

VORP RANK NAME TEAM VORP DIFF LEADING CAST
17 Vladimir Guerrero ANA 26.2 116.2
28 Brian Roberts BAL 10.2 100.4
4 David Ortiz BOS 39.7 148.1
31 Jim Thome CHA 22 55.4
20 Victor Martinez CLE 1.2 138.6
3 Magglio Ordonez DET 20.5 191.7
134 Mark Grudzielanek KCA 6.1 43.3
45 Torii Hunter MIN 9 92.1
1 Alex Rodriguez NYA 23.2 199.6
65 Jack Cust OAK 1.1 85.4
16 Ichiro Suzuki SEA 32.2 112.3
13 Carlos Pena TBA 21.6 125.4
50 Michael Young TEX 10.3 99.2
47 Alex Rios TOR 7.4 108.6

I said it before, and now I have manipulated the statistics to show what I want them to show: DAVID ORTIZ, MVP!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Awards and Lowell

Two words for the Red Sox front office: Pedro Feliz. 1. He is a gold-glove caliber third baseman; 2. He hit 20 home runs for the Giants last season; 3. He is younger and cheaper than Mike Lowell.

There, I said it. Send over the tar and feathers later, but I think that over the next four years that Feliz will produce more than Lowell. His comparable players at this stage of his career: Tim Wallach, Charlie Hayes, and Chris Sabo. His projections over the next five seasons are almost equal to Lowell's. He is a free agent, and he will cost about half as much. Let Mike get his four years somewhere else, Pedro is my man.

* * *

Let me touch on the joke that is the awards voting: no Gold Glove for Curtis Granderson? Or even Coco Crisp? Torii Hunter and Ichiro getting them for past performance only diminishes the award. Well, at least no one was stupid enough to award another to Jeter.

As far as MVP, why is it such a given to give it to A-Rod? Someone explain how the Red Sox win anything without David Ortiz? And this bologna about A-Rod having a season that cannot be matched by anyone? Phaw. He had a great first couple weeks, that is all. To the numbers!!!

EQA: Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. (from BaseballProspectus.com unless otherwise noted)
A-Rod: .339
Papi: .337
Or, practically identical for all intents and purposes.

WARP: Wins Above Replacement Player, level 1. The number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done, with adjustments only for within the season.
A-Rod: 11
Papi: 8.2

OPS: On-base percentage plus slugging--a simple breakdown of batting stats (yeah, this is my definition)
A-Rod: OBP: .422 SLG: .645 OPS: 1.067
Papi: OBP: .445 SLG: .621 OPS: 1.066

Yeah, I can see how A-Rod is such a slam dunk for MVP. The Yankees see him as so valuable, they will plug Wilson Betamit into third base and still win 90+ games next year. Take Ortiz out of the Red Sox batting order and see how they do. Old Purple Lips was no better than Big Papi this season, and certainly no more valuable. Who are these writers who form their opinions on these awards without even looking at what each player did? These morons made their picks in early May and mailed in the rest of the season. Great work, BBWA.

* * *

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stepping it up

My sexy webmaster/wife gets on my case every time I rip on the Former God of All Sports Bloggers, Bill Simmons. What she doesn't realize is that its always constructive criticism. It's like watching watching Diasuke Matsuzaka pitch: you know he is capable of dominating every appearance, but it frustrates the hell out of you when he goes out and has one of those seven run meltdown innings hat he had so frequently last season. That's Simmons to me: he SHOULD be the best; he WAS the best; and I sit there and read the crap that pops out sometimes and wonder what is going on.

Then, he is the only voice in the wilderness and writes this that made me stand up and applaud after reading it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/071109&sportCat=nfl

That is the requirement I have for great writing: if I read it and say: Damn! I wish I wrote that! then I consider it great sports writing.

Some highlights regarding the Patriots and Colts review by Simmons:
It's one thing to have incompetent officiating for a football game; it's another thing to see nearly every call and non-call benefit the same team. In 60 minutes of play, only one borderline call went against the Colts -- a holding penalty on their second-to-last drive that erased a 25-yard Addai run. The final tally for the Colts: four penalties, 25 yards. We haven't seen homefield advantage work that well since Hitler invaded Russia.
OMG! LMAO! (OK, no more teenage IM comments in my blog, I promise.) Seriously, simply a great line about the homefield advantage.
Was everything that "happened" (for lack of a better word) in Indy just a one-time deal? Was it just an elaborate coincidence the Patriots couldn't buy a single break for the entire game? Was the NFL unveiling a new way of evening the score against New England because a $500,000 fine and the loss of a No. 1 pick weren't enough? Did the league decide no NFL team could conventionally stop the Pats, so they'll have to play against opponents AND referees for the rest of the season? Does the NFL have a hidden trigger much like the one used in the "Madden" video games, when everything starts going against your team as soon as it becomes clear there's a chance for an undefeated season?
The questions raised are exactly how I felt during and after the game. Was there any reason it was played out like that? Does Belichick have naked pics of Goodell with Ray Lewis? Do the referees have a reason to hate the Patriots? Can we please make sure no one compares the Patriots to the Yankees? The Yankees outspend EVERYONE. The Patriots have the same limitations as EVERYONE else. The fact the Patriots traded for a soon to be all-pro wide receiver within their division for a second-round pick (ooh a seventh rounder as well, let the fins fans be sure to point out) and sent a fourth round pick for a guy the worst team in the league was trying to give away and NO ONE ELSE wanted does not make them a juggernaut outspending everyone else. It makes them the bad guys because they OUTSMARTED thirty-one other teams. And they hate them for that. Look at Eric Mangina over in Jersey: from appearing in the Sopranos to being a couple of losses from begging Belichick for a job coaching the defensive backs. Somehow this will be the Patriots fault.

But if you're a fan of the Patriots, you've never felt as passionately about them as you do right now. The same "us against them" mentality that galvanized the coaches and players ended up galvanizing the fans as well.
Amen, Brother Simmons. Welcome back to the Boston mentality and congrats on your second child. Now start writing about how great Ray Allen is and no one realizes how good he really is and how he, Pierce, and Garnett are probably the best meshing of superstars since Worthy, Magic, and Kareem.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Who, what, where and when are the buzz-words that permeate the hot-stove league this winter. Since the Sox expect to be fairly quiet if they can re-sign Mike Lowell, I guess we need to see who is going to make some noise this winter. With Joe Torre in la-la-land and Willie Randolph on the hot seat in New York (Flushing is Frying?), it looks like these two major market teams from the senior circuit who both just came up short in 2007 are going to drive the trade and free-agent market.

First off, the A-Rod Derby (or, Slappy McHamburgerHelper extricates himself far from the fickle Fenway faithful): Expect him to land at one of these two teams. They have the cash and they both desperately have the need. Anaheim should be an option if only because Vlad Guerrero is going to collapse carrying that team, but Bill Stoneman has been reluctant to pull the trigger and spend Arte’s money. Eighty-five to ninety wins and a loss in the first round is good enough in the Big A, I guess.

While the Dodgers have a need for a veteran power bat, few expect them to act. With Joe Torre campaigning for him, it can only be a public relations coup for A-Rod to land in the lap of Dodgerdom and trade tarnished pinstripes for Dodger Blue. The Dodgers are likely in the market for experienced power hitters, and since they refuse to trade anyone in the farm system--and Nomar is Washout spelled backwards--they so desperately need an A-Rod or another power infusion. If not him and LA decides cash is better to keep than youngsters, do not be surprised to see Miguel Cabrera end up in Los Angeles next season as part of a mega-deal with cash-consious Florida. The Dodgers have the prospects to part with and the money to pay him. The Latino market there is a great fit for the fickle Cabrera, who is no doubt fed-up with the Florida payroll constraints as well.

Not to ruin my premise here, but speaking of big-market chokers who need the ultimate choker on their team, the Phillies should be in the mix. If Scott Boras has a hint of humanity and compassion in his soul (and there are no signs there is any) he would keep A-Rod far from the Phillie Phanatics roaming Veterans Stadium and looking for fresh blood. I doubt Slappy McHamburgerHelper (aka the Purple Lipped Bandito) has to call Terry Francona to learn that much.

The Mets will also go hard after Horsehead Posada, who just may be ready to move to another borough. Posada makes sense (can anyone justify bringing in Paul LoDuca?), and he gets to give the Yankees the finger on his way across town. Whether he takes Mariano Rivera with him wherever he ends up is a moot point because Rivera is going to get his money from the Yankees. He may have to dump a couple relatives in the pool, but he will get his cash.

Expect the Mets to pull off a big deal or three for starting pitching if anyone still loves Lastings Milledge because that staff sucks (and that includes a healthy, back to 2005 levels, Pedro Martinez). Suddenly, Julian Tavarez looks good to the Mets as an option in the rotation. Bleed Omar Minaya dry, Theo!

Also, any big market team is automatically in the running for the next wave of talent from Japan. With the Big Two in Boston (Matsuzaka and Oki-Doki) as well as Akinowa performing well on the cheap in Tampa (for once I will be nice and leave the Yankees horrible Japanese pitching pick-up out of this discussion), expect many teams to begin picking through the wares and looking at players such as outfielder Kosuke Fukodome (what a great name: we played the Dragons at the Fukodome last week; all the fans told us to Fuko at the dome.), as well as closer extraordinaire Masa Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek humor in a sports blog is dangerous territory), and starter Hiroki Kuroda. Expect the Dodgers or Mets to grab at least one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Keeping the Big Schill

Well, sanity prevailed. The Red Sox did not throw $13 million guaranteed to their #4 or 5 starter, and the Big Schill kept his legacy intact by staying in the place of his greatest triumph(s). Kudos to Curt Schilling for realizing that the difference from playing for the Boston Red Sox and playing for the Philadelphia Phillies is a horse of a different color. And kudos to the Red Sox front office for covering their rears by only guaranteeing $8 million and making him earn the other five by getting his fat ass in shape and staying healthy.

Curt Schilling is synonymous with the 21st century Boston Red Sox and I am glad he is staying. Unlike a certain team in the Bronx, they did not embarrass themselves by slobbering all over him and begging him to come back like the way they have been handling the Andy Pettite situation.

I'm back, Baby!

Bender old man, you took a fine time to leave the blog running on empty...as Bono once said on the ZOOropa video live in Sydney Australia 1992 (I always stay up to date on my cultural references): off with the masks, on with the show:

The Sox won the World Series.

Jonathan Papelbon is the newest New England regional media-darling -- it will be a brawl between Dunkin Donuts and Honeydew to see who gets him to sell coffee to us all.

Curt Schilling is back for less than $13M per season.

Mike Lowell still may return.

Miguel Cabrera could be on his way to Boston for a king's ransom in young pitching.

Someone in the Bronx Zoo let A-Rod out of his cage. My guess is they find him in Flushing.

Joe Torre screws Grady Little out of a managerial position again!

The Patriots beat the Colts to go to 9-0 despite a +100 yard differential in penalty yards.

Is there anyone left still debating the decision to sign Donte Stallworth and trade for Randy Moss and Wes Welker?

Someone take away my baseball bat if I get within 50 feet of my first two picks in fantasy football: Shawn Alexander and Cedric Benson.

The Celtics are 2-0.

Ray Allen, as I have been telling everyone under the sun, is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad man!

Kevin Garnett is better than advertised.

James Posey and Eddie House look like perfect fits for the C's.

The Bruins are actually back to pre-strike level of play: entertaining, scrappy, and falling short in the end. A seven seed and first round loss looks like a distinct possibility!

BC is number...uhh, just call it a freefall.

The Revs are in the Eastern Conference championship again. Sustained brilliance!

Is that it? Am I caught up on everything? OK, time to push ahead into another glorious winter of New England Sports.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Torre

For those of you who do not subscribe to Baseball Prospectus, I just wanted to pass on this note from their unfiltered section by Nate Silver that pretty much summed-up what I was thinking:
Posted by Nate Silver @ October 18, 2007, 05:06 PM
This was not a serious offer to Joe Torre.
Nobody with any modicum of self-pride would be willing to accept a 33% pay cut at a late stage of his career, which is what this ultimately amounts to, from a base of $7.5 million in 2007 to $5.0 million in 2008. And nobody with any tangible sense of the randomness inherent to postseason baseball would be willing to give much benefit of the doubt to incentive clauses that are difficult to achieve under the best of circumstances, and which have little to do with one’s own performance. No. This offer was a public relations stunt, designed to make it look as though the Yankees had not put Joe Torre out to pasture. It was not an offer that had any chance of being accepted, nor was it an offer that that had any chance of facilitating future discussions. It was an insulting offer, quite frankly, and a conversation-ender. That is not to a render a judgment about what Joe Torre is ultimately worth to the Yankees. Very probably, the marginal revenue that Torre produces is not worth $7.5 million more than what Don Mattingly would give you, nor is it worth $5.0 million more. But it’s not like Torre went from being worth $7.5 million yesterday to $5.0 million today, just because the Yankees lost three out of four games to another very talented baseball club.If it were my business, I would not have made this offer. I would have offered Joe Torre more, or I wouldn’t have made him an offer at all. I can’t entirely blame the Yankees for trying to triangulate the situation. But I
hope that people see this offer for what it was.
I might add as well, if I were Joe Torre and the Yankees told me they needed two weeks to let me float in limbo, I'd already be talking to the Mets and Dodgers.

All that you beg, borrow and steal

The Sox survived to live another day. Reminiscent of 2004, the Red Sox picked themselves up off the mat, down three games to one, and slugged out the Indians at the Jake to come back to Boston on a bug-free Thursday night. Josh Beckett once again stepped up huge in a huge situation to single-handedly drag the Red Sox Yahoos off the cliff at least for another day and bring the series back to Boston.

Tonight, game six has just begun and this could easily be the last game of the season for Boston with young Fausto Carmona on the hill. Game seven would be the Super Bowl in Boston on Sunday night. I am certainly hoping there is one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ALCS SLUGFEST

OK, anyone not expecting this match-up between Boston and Cleveland to go less than six or seven games is nuts. These teams are both great, have solid line-ups, and great pitching. Since I have not seen Jim Baker do his Playoff Prospectus on the ALCS yet, I guess we go to the he-to-head match-ups:

Catcher:
Boston: Jason Varitek
Cleveland: Victor Martinez
OK, this is a no-brainer, even if you factor in all the Varitek intangibles (after the Yankees-Indians tilt, I am starting to think that intangibles is a synonym for grounding into a double-play in a critical situation, right Captain Clutch in Pinstripes?) Victor Martinez rakes at the plate whereas a Varitek season is equal to a bad year by J.D. Drew (not that anyone would boo the over-paid Captain like they boo J.D.).
EDGE: Cleveland

First Base:
Boston: YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKKKKKKKKKK
Cleveland: some guy named Garko
Ryan Garko may not be quite the leather-man like the Greek/Jewish God of Walks, but he one of those surprising power guys on the Indians. If Youk was the Youk of June, Boston would have the edge.
EDGE: EVEN

Second Base:
Boston: Dustin Pedroia
Cleveland: Asdrubal Cabrera
OK, Asdrubal, is that or is it not some potion from Professor Snape in an early Harry Potter book? Beyond points for the great name, Cabrera has done a very good job at second base for the Indians. As great as Pedroia has been this season, it is only a seven game set. But remember, Pedroia had a VORP greater than Manny this season!
EDGE: Boston

Third Base:
Boston: Mike Lowell
Cleveland: Casey Blake
Before everyone goes off half-cocked, compare the numbers between Lowell and Blake. Oh, OK, forget it.
EDGE: Boston

Shortstop:
Boston: Julio Lugo
Cleveland: Jhonny Peralta
Seriously, is that a typo on the birth certificate? I like saying it: Jah-Hon-nee! (with the emphasis on the JAH). Peralta is a good fielder with very good hitting skills (having bounced back like we all expect Lugo to do next season). Lugo is the model Replacement Player for shortstops this season when stat-heads go on about VORP (Value-Over-Replacement-Player).
EDGE Cleveland

Left Field:
Boston: Manny
Cleveland: Kenny Lofton
Sure, Lofton killed the Yankees, but remember what happened to him the last time the Sox and Indians faced-off in the playoffs? (Kenny will ever forget)
EDGE: Boston

Center Field:
Boston: Coco Crisp
Cleveland: Grady Sizemore
See, there was a reason that the Indians wanted to unload Coco.
EDGE: Cleveland

Right Field:
Boston: J.D. Drew
Cleveland: Franklin Gutierrez
I was talking about Franklin Gutierrez the other day and I think the person though I was talking about Roosevelt Franklin, the purple muppet kid who inexplicably disappeared from Sesame Street over the 20 years from when I watched the show until my kids watched it. Seriously, is he locked in the basement of Hot Topic being tortured like the cartoon characters on Drawn Together the other night?
EDGE: Boston

Designated Hitter:
Boston: Big Papi
Cleveland: Pronk
OK, first off, bring in Orsillo because at least he does not call Ortizzle “Big Poppy” like he was a gigantic flower. Still need to get a Pronk Chocolate Crunch off eBay one of these days. If Pronk keeps looking like 2006 version, this could be even. Of course, if I weighed as much as I did in high school, I would be back in 32 waist pants.
EDGE: Boston

Starter #1:
Boston: Josh Beckett
Cleveland: C.C. Sabathia
I think my wife has officially shamed each and every person she knows who ragged on Beckett last season. That said, the big C.C. (sorry C.C. Deville) we saw in game one versus the Yankees looked nothing like the one who stoned the Sox in June. In fact, he must have been an optical illusion, or else he had some bad shrimp (30 or 40 pounds worth from the look of him) that night
EDGE: Even

Starter #2:
Boston: Curt Schilling
Cleveland: Fausto Carmona
Carmona is the da bomb. Nuff said.
EDGE: Cleveland

Starter #3:
Boston: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Cleveland: Jake Westbrook
Check the VORP, Baby. All Daisuke; All the time. Seriously, what is all the hating on Daisuke. 37 VORP to 21 VORP. Chalk up that game three win on the road.
EDGE: Boston

Starter #4:
Boston: Tim Wakefield
Cleveland: Paul Byrd
This is the 13-11 game. Ughh.
EDGE: Even

Middle Relief:
Boston: Mix and matches (Manny Delcarmen, Mike Timlin, et al)
Cleveland: A cast of nobodies (Aaron Fulz, Jensen Lewis)
Middle Relief? Am I serious? Who cares?
EDGE: Even

Set-up Men:
Boston: Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne
Cleveland: Rafael & Rafael (Perez & Betancourt)
I am sorry, but the Rafaels are NASTY.
EDGE: Cleveland

Closer:
Boston: Jonathan Papelbon
Cleveland: Joe Borowski
Borowski may have saved me 40+ games for my fantasy team, but this is not even a question.
EDGE: Boston

Manager & Coaches:
Boston: Terry Francona
Cleveland: Eric Wedge
Listen, Francona is a good manager. He has good coaches. Eric Wedge is a good manager. He has good coaches.
EDGE: Even

BONUS CATEGORY: Best Hall of Fame:
Boston: Umm, hold on, I am trying to think of one
Cleveland: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Even though KISS was inducted, I guess it is pretty one-sided.
EDGE: Cleveland

BONUS CATEGORY: Best City Theme Song:
Boston: Shipping Out to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
Cleveland: Cleveland Rocks - Theme song from the Drew Carey TV Show
I know, I know, I know: it is a great song. But my four year old daughter never walked around the house singing it about the cat (Mimit is shipping out to Boston, Whoa-oh-oh) and I never heard it as the theme song on the Discovery Channel (Lobster Wars).
EDGE: Boston

FINAL RESULTS:
Boston: 8
Cleveland: 6
Even: 5
What does this show us? These teams are closely matched, and any injury, freak weather, bloops, etc can swing this series. It will likely go six or seven games, but I think that the Red Sox have a better ninth inning game-ender and a bit more power in the line-up. Sox in six (or maybe seven). It will be a classic series.

Millions of Pieces (Part 2)

Miscellaneous Sports edition:

* What happens if the Bruins kick off a season and no one notices?

* I hope the Revolution are cruising and getting Taylor Twellman healthy for the playoffs. I do not care if they win the CocaCabanaCup or whatever, it is the MLS Championship that matters. Anything else is just another season coming up short.

* The best development for the Revs has been Adam Christman as that third striker to come off the bench for instant offense or step in for an injured Twellman. Can we officially petition to refer to him as Microwave ala Vinnie Johnson for the Pistons in the mid-eighties?

* Kevin Garnett is on the Celtics. Nope, it still feels like a dream.

* I know that I underrate Ray Allen, and I am not the only one. Until watching the preseason Celtics game versus Minnesota at the O2 in London, I forgot that he can stick a jumper from ANYWHERE on the court.

Millions of Pieces

Oh geez, where do I start? OK, baseball-only edition:

* Manny is a bad man.

* What stands out with the Red Sox pitching staff this post-season is the ability by the pitching staff to make hitters swing and miss. Maybe not everyone has superior strike-out numbers, but the entire rotation (well, the big 3) have been able to stay away from contact at critical times (runners on base, etc) or be able to effect a pop-up in situations where a fly ball, grounder, or a bloop single bring in a run. Long a point of emphasis by the Bill James Sect (or whatever the media jerks who bad-mouth sabermetrics call the Sox front-office), a pitcher can logically get out of trouble easier if there is no contact made. Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and even washed-up Curt Schilling have been able to get that big strike-out or pop-up when in need. In fact, having Jon Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne, and Manny Delcarmen are all capable of coming in and striking out a batter in a critical situation. In the post-season, where runs are always at a premium, because you rarely see the number four starter--let alone a number five, a staff that can get outs without advancing base-runners is a huge advantage.

* I love the fact that Diamondbacks General Manager Jon Daniels had front-office experience with three teams prior to landing the job in Arizona: Boston, Cleveland and Colorado. You cannot make this stuff up!

* The problem with facing the Indians is that there is no hatred/jealousy as there would be playing the Yankees. I like the Indians. I fondly remember going to see Indians Manager Eric Wedge catch for the PawSox; Kenny Lofton has the best commercial (DHL) on TV even though he never appears in it; Mark Shapiro is a great General Manager who is great friends with Patriots GM Scott Pioli; EVERYONE love Pronk (Travis Hafner); Mr. Red Sox Trot Nixon is there; Grady Sizemore carried my fantasy team this spring while I waited for Albert Pujols to break-out (I am still waiting, Albert!); and how can anyone not love big C.C. and Dr. Fausto? Not that my love and ferver for the Sox will ever waver, but playing the Indians is like watching the Patriots go up against Willie McGinest and Romeo Crennell: you just cannot not like them.

* As usual, the post-season has proved the axiom true that good pitching will beat good hitting and vice-versa.

* Is there anyone who seriously looked at the Angels signing Gary Matthews Jr. this off-season and thought: Oh yeah, this is the guy that will put them over the hump and back into the World Series?

* Who in 2004 thought that Terry Francona would outlast Regular Joe Torre (granted, Tito has about ten more years of dealing with Dan Shaughnessy before he outlasts Regular Joe, but you know what I mean!)? Seriously, what a DICK move (I cannot think of any better way to classify it, so I stick with what I wrote, just think of it in the voice of Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: “I know, guys, and I said it was a dick move on my part so I am paying for your meal to make up for it”) by Herr Steinbrenner, kicking Regular Joe when they were down 2-0 in the ALDS to the Indians. I am no fan of the Yankees, but what a late 1970s George Steinbrenner move. I guess watching the ESPN mini-series the Bronx is Burning rekindled some old mannerisms.

* As a Sox fan, my fervent hope is that the Yankees are stupid enough to fire Brian Cashman. CashMoney has been one of the best GMs in baseball since he wrestled control from the Tampa faction in 2005. He has the team on-track to be a juggernaut for another dozen years and Sox fans can only hope George dumps him in the Torre mess as well for the sake of competitive balance in the AL.

* Well, Joe Torre can get back to hanging out with Mel Stottlemeyer and drinking those delicious gin and tonics Mel would whip up for him. I mean, that is the reason G&T Mel was pitching coach all those years, right? It was never because he could do anything to improve a staff, manage a bullpen or develop young pitchers, right? It had to be drink mixing skills.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Red October

Occasionally I have to do more than throw out my own often illogical ramblings and opinions and back-up statements I make with facts (otherwise I would qualify as a member of the Boston Media). So I am going to say something here and then throw some statistics in the readers face. And no, I stunk at math so you can be sure that I attribute the statistical analysis to who it belongs.

Statement of Opinion: the Red Sox should win the World Series because they have a team built for October baseball.

Statistical backing: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=548

Yes, Nate Silver at Baseball Prospectus has updated his Secret Sauce rankings. What is the secret sauce? Well, let me let Nate handle that:
The secret sauce ranking consists of three statistics within the category of pitching and defense - Equivalent Strikeouts Per Nine innings (EqK9), Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), and Closer Performance (as measured by the WXRL of the pitcher with the most save opportunities) - that have been demonstrated to have a predictive relationship with success in the post-season.
Thanks, Nate. So basically the team that is most balanced with pitchers who get strikeouts (because that creates outs without runners advancing), who are above average fielding (because, dammit, defense counts for something in a short series), and have a shut-down closer at the end of a game.

Hmmm, maybe we should be paying off Nate to keep this stuff out of the hands of the Yankees. Anyway, the most interesting points that come out of the rankings (which I will not repeat in their entirety because, well, because I linked to the article already) is that the Red Sox are so far above everyone else. Let me illustrate: Nate, explain the rankings:

Teams are ranked from 1 to 30 in each category and the total rankings are added up to produce an overall score.
Therefore, a team ranking first in all three of these categories would be assigned a score of 3. A team ranking dead-last in all three of these categories would be assigned a score of 90.

The Red Sox total rank is 7.5. Next best is the Dodgers (who will not even make the playoffs thanks to the superior managing of Grady Little. Gee, why is the Red Sox cannot get a manager like that?) at 17. The Yankees are at 32.5 (great closer, excellent defense, lack of power pitchers in middle relief and starting). Oakland is last with a stunning 78 rating (someone wake up Billy Beane). Second best ranking other than LAD? Nate, what do you have to say?

Yes, the Secret Sauce is still predicting a Cubs-Red Sox World Series. Might be time to start repenting any unforgiven sins.
Hah! Nate, you so crazy!

OK, so all those Red Sox fans with your fingernails bit down to the crick, take a deep breath and remember that Theo built this team for October. Not August, not September, not April: October. Bring on the Indians (48), the Angels (27.5), or Yankees (32.5). Red Sox Nation is ready (to rumble, not to elect a president. Someone bring me the head of whoever is running this bologna over at NESN. I watch the Red Sox to see the game, not to hear the RemDawg talk about what shmoe should win the fake appointment).

Wait, Nate has one more point about this team that Theo Epstein has taken so much blame for putting together:
The Red Sox, in fact, might be one of the best Secret Sauce teams of all time, ranking in the Top 3 in all three categories. Everyone knows that the Red Sox have an excellent closer — the playoffs are about having an alpha dog in the bullpen, not about ‘pen depth. And their pitching staff can bring the heat. That their defense rates so well might be a little bit of a surprise, but Boston is third in the league in defensive efficiency, and FRAA at the team level is heavily correlated with that number.
Yes, Yes, YES! Less than a week to the playoffs. The Red Sox are ready to roll!

* * *

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good Times, Bad Times…

The good news is that the New York (Win the Division or Sleep with the Fish) Yankees lost to the Toronto (For the third year in a row I am going to say how does this team not win 90 games) Blue Jays 4-1. With six games to go, the Red Sox lead the Bronx Bombers by a full two games (no more of these half games and listening to them whine about games back in the loss column). At present, both teams have six games each left to play and the Red Sox need only a combination of five wins or Yankees losses to clinch the A.L. East for the first time since Matt Stairs was young and shaped like a pear instead of old and shaped like a pear (That said, Matt the Bat can still swing the lumber!)

* * *

Right now I am trying very hard to savor the moment. As good as it looks, SOMETHING always happens. I am trying not get too excited about the Patriots offense with the sturdy offensive line, strong running backs, good-hands tight ends, excellent receiving corps, and amazing quarterback.

With the defensive backs holding their own, and the d-line and linebackers running all over the place making plays, there is no trash talking about the defense (even though Bill Belichick will work them like dogs for being 0-5 in the red zone).

Special teams is the only spot anyone can complain about, but certainly not the punt and kickoff return and coverage teams. Forget about Wes Welker and Ellis Hobbs, Mel Mitchell looks like the Pro Bowl teamer everyone said he would be when he came over from New Orleans before he spent last season on the IR. I guess Gostkowski and Hansen are possibly the only two anyone can complain about.

Heck, I am trying hard not to think too much about Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour (arguably the two best performers on defense) coming back to further ignite the defense.

This team is special right now. They are clicking on all cylinders and while I want to be pie-in-the-sky about it, common sense says it cannot last forever, that no one finishes 16-0. But, dammit, I am going to enjoy the moment!

* * *

Bad times? Oh yeah, the Revolution blew a goal lead in the final 20 minutes and settled for a tie. Since that is the worst sports news this week, I guess we can all be thankful.

* * *

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BREATHE

How many times have I heard this in the past few days?
OHMYGAWDITSALLOVERFORTHE SOX! FRANCONAISANIDIOTTHEYNEEDTOFIREHIMASAP! HERECOMETHEYANKEESGODKNOWSTHEHOTTEAMSALWAYSWININOCTOBER!

OK, just stop. The Red Sox have a 2.5 game lead still. They just ran into two very good pitchers for Toronto. The Yankees just got two games against Daniel Cabrera and Jon Leicester. Not fair, I know.

Worst case scenario? The Sox go in as the wild card. Gee, that worked out pretty well in 2004.

Terry Francona and Theo are getting the team ready for October, not for the last two weeks of September. The Sox are in the playoffs no matter what, pretty much. That is what counts. Joe Torre running out his regulars and burning his bullpen in September trying to win the division is what has doomed New York for the past six years. Come on, Regular Joe, we know you are safe if you win the division, keep burning out Joba and Mariano for us! PLEASE!!!

I think Will Carroll over at BaseballProspectus said it best:

It’s hard to close even a 2 ½-game gap on a good team with 12 days left in the season. Even if it was necessary to do so, it would be a difficult task. In this case, it’s not; whatever benefits—home-field advantage, schedule choice, comfort—are gained by winning the division versus being the Wild Card aren’t generous enough to warrant playing the last week and change as if it mattered.
Look at how Terry Francona has managed his squad all month, in the knowledge that his team is going to October. He’s been resting players all around the roster, diddling with his rotation, and trying experiments like "let’s see how many batters Eric Gagne can walk in one inning."
It would behoove Joe Torre to start doing this as well. The Yankees are up five games in the loss column on the Tigers, with a magic number of seven for the wild card. If form holds through the weekend and the Yankees’ magic number reaches three or so, Torre needs to worry less about seeding and more about making sure his aging team is ready to go on October 2. Alex Rodriguez has missed two games all year, and none since August 8. Robinson Cano hasn’t missed a game since May 6. Jorge Posada has played his usual 130-odd games behind the plate; a couple of extra days off next week couldn’t hurt. I can’t quantify the effects of rest on a player’s performance, but I can say that the cost of doing so—possibly ending up as the wild card versus winning the division—is essentially zero.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Six-pack of that swill I was served last night when I ordered a Pabst! At least the pizza only cost $2.

Why is it I expect the Boston Herald to have a headline reading: Widescale Panic Grips the Hub. The Red Sox lost a couple games. Well, darn, with Manny out (yeah, that was a great trade I made in fantasy baseball to get him from Chazer. It ranks up there with my desperation deal I made when I had six position players on the DL, no one available on waivers, and I unloaded Ichiro for Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, some relief pitcher, and a ham sandwich. I was obviously either drinking too little or too much at the time.), Youk still hurt, Coco with a bad back, Pedroia slowed, and even Ellsbury sporting some boo-boos (to say nothing about Varitek taking his usual September trip to the outhouse) and Oki-Doki worn out like (nope, just going to stop there before I write something about Britney Spears that is totally inappropriate).

The Patriots broke the rules. Yup, and I damned proud that they did. Anyone who remembers 1982 (heck, 1991 for that matter) absolves the entire organization of any and all media backlash. I have already made clear my opinions about the jealous writers both locally and nationally taking vindictive pot shots at Bill Belichick (and the real sleazy ones going after Bob Kraft), but everyone wants that coach that does whatever it takes to atone for that stinker in the rain against the Jets last year. Yes, he was wrong to flout the rule and more than paid the price, but who is going to convince me that this was not a lesson imparted by the Big Tuna way back when?

The Celtics season is over. Greg Oden is out for the year and…what? We never drafted him? We traded some jamoke at number five for Ray Allen who subsequently convinced his buddy Kevin Garnett to come to Boston after Danny Ainge traded Big Al and a bucket of fish to Minnesota? No, seriously, like that would ever happen.

Rumor has it that there is a hockey team that plays at the Garden when the Celtics are not there. I know, that is about as believable as Boston ever getting a damned arena football team. I remember my Dad talking about hockey in Boston, but it seemed like a fairy tale.

Brazil versus Mexico? How the heck did I not end up with tickets? Or are pasty white guys who loudly shout about the dominance of English soccer in that kind of environment (You, Gallagher, and me, Brigs) banned from Gillette Stadium in those circumstances for their own stadium?

The Revs are still going, baby. Injuries are nothing to this team. Suspend the coach? Who cares? This team is the REAL pride of New England!

HUB OF THE UNIVERSE

Well, for one night at least Boston lived up to its lofty and pretentious title as the entire sports world focused on the Patriots-Chargers AFC Divisional Playoff match-up and the rubber game in Fenway between the Yankees and Red Sox as the GreyBeards battled on the mound.

As the national press continued to take their shots at Bill Belichick as he stood in the middle of the ring like a boxer with no defense, the Patriots players came out and made a statement about who they were and will be this season as they treated a 2006 playoff team like a doormat for the second week in a row.

After exposing the ManGenius as a fraud in the Meadowlands last week, Tom Brady and the offensive supporting cast dominated another top ranked defense. Norv Turner and his crew tried to make headway against the Patriots vaunted defense (this defense is dying for a nickname--but somehow I draw a blank thinking of something witty to make-up for them).
After a first half where the Patriots played with the vaunted Bolts defense like a cat with a mouse (well, not like my cat. Slim Mimit probably would run and hide under the blankets if a mouse got into the house), the Chargers mounted a comeback of sorts in the second half, scoring on both 3rd quarter drives.

Unfortunately, in between them the Patriots methodically marched down the gridiron for another score. After a gift from Ellis Hobbs after the second touchdown where Mr. Dynamite fumbled the kickoff return, the defense came to life. With the ball at the Patriots 31, did offensive genius Norv Turner call in the battering ram and run the fresh legs of Michael Turner down the Patriots throats? No, he called back-to-back passes which resulted in two sacks and the Chargers back on their side of the field facing a third and thirty. From there, it was time to switch to the Sox game.

In the match-up of the once and future Sox, Roger Clemens (aka the Texas Con Man) and Curt Schilling (aka the Big Schill) matched-up for six scintillating innings. After the Sox wasted a lead-off double by Eric Hinske off Joba Chamberlain in the seventh, the Yankees struck for three when the accursed Derek Jeter launched a three-run homer off a hanging slider and put the Yankers up 4-1. Mikie Lowell got one back in the eighth by crushing the myth of Joba by
launching a bomb over the monster. In the bottom nine the Sox had a perfect scenario: down by one, bases loaded, and Big Papi up to face the greatest relief pitcher ever, Mariano Rivera. Alas, it was not to be as the Big Guy popped to Jeter and the game was over.

Not to impinge on Ken Tremendous and the crew at FireJoeMorgan.com, but I nearly launched an empty beer bottle through the television when Joe "The Idiot from the Big Red Machine, not the Magic Walpole Joe" Morgan said as the Yankees had runners on second and third and one out and actually uttered: "I don't understand why the Red Sox infield is playing in instead of back for a possible double-play."

Hmmm, Joe. I don't know? Maybe because without the force-out there is no freaking double-play! You stupid idiot, go read a book and get off the air. Harold Reynolds gets jobbed from ESPN for allegedly grabbing ass (if guilty, yes he deserved to go) and this idiot insults the intelligence of the audience on a weekly basis and they still keep trotting him out with the excellent Jon Miller. How Miller has restrained from strangling the idiot is beyond me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

6-Pack of Julius Echter (That Glorious Nectar, Brigs!)

And make sure the beer has a lemon in it, the damned German swill. Moving on, here’s a Friday afternoon on the train six pack for you:

1. Red Sox Yankees this weekend with the Sox sitting pretty with a 5.5 game lead. They have Daisuke, Becks, and the Schill going this weekend. Personally, I do not know if I can stomach this and the Pats-Chargers. Something tells me that Monday morning is going to come early trying to stay up and stay tuned to all of the weekend.

2. My theory for this weekend is the Sox take two of three so that the season series with the Yankees ends with symmetry and both teams 9-9 against each other.

3. The Wanger is a heck of a pitcher. He reminds me of Derek Lowe with that heavy sinker. The Sox always have their hands full with him. That said, no one on the Yankees staff scares me more than Andy Pettitte. The guy just keeps going out there and mowing teams down. Someone explain why Houston jettisoned him? Heck, someone explain how the Yankees ever let him go in the first place. Roger Clemens versus Curt Schilling on Sunday Night? Hmm, I wonder if Frank Malzone will be there for the Old-Timers Game.

4. Oh my God, the Bruins training camp opened and no one noticed!!!

5. 101KGB in San Diego, some classic rock station, took out an ad in the Boston Globe on Friday saying: Go Chargers Beat Belicheat. Then they threw in their website (which I will not post as they do not need anymore free publicity) and said: Keyword CHEAT to post comments about your lame team. Maybe Pittsburgh will let you use the name Stealers. Hah-hah. My, no bitterness in Tijuana North is there from last seasons collapse in the Divisional Series, eh?

6. Lest I forget, the BC Eagles face the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech on Saturday night. Great, like I do not have enough sports to watch.

* * *

BACKLASH

Quite an interesting couple of days on the web reading about the REVENGE OF THE JILTED REPORTERS as they line-up to take their free shots at Bill Belichick.

There were a few defenders (few and far between), such as King Kaufman at Slate.com who stated:

What the Pats are accused of doing is "spying" on the Jets coaches as they sent signals to the defense. My understanding of spying must be different from the NFL's. Watching a guy flapping his arms while standing in the middle of 70,000 people and in front of a national TV audience doesn't qualify. Even if you point a camera at him.
I mean another camera, aside from all the legal cameras that can be pointed at him.
For the price of a ticket -- assuming the Patriots as an organization can't find a free ticket somewhere -- the Pats can put a guy in Row 12 with a video camera and record the opposing team's defensive signals to their heart's content. But because the guy's standing on the sidelines it's cheating? Kinda nutty, don't you think?
The Patriots may have been trying to steal the Jets' signals for immediate or future use, but there's nothing wrong with stealing signals. It's a fine and respectable art. If it weren't, teams wouldn't need signals that are coded.
The problem is when teams get sneaky about it, hiding a spy in some cranny of the home stadium that the visitors don't have access to or using listening devices to spy on huddles or locker-room meetings. Where a team has an expectation of privacy, it should get privacy. A guy standing on the sideline and flashing semaphores to the
middle linebacker can't expect privacy. Again: That's why the signals are coded.
That's why the code should be changed every now and again.
The Jets and Patriots are bitter rivals who aren't shy about accusing each other of all kinds of dastardly deeds, so it's worth noting that this accusation came from the league, not the Jets, and that the Jets don't seem to be using it as an excuse for having their hats handed to them on Sunday. I don't think the Jets have a signal, after all, for "let Ellis Hobbs run a kickoff back 108 yards."

Then there was none other than the Hollywood Sports Guy who was so tied-up in knots over this so-called scandal that he needed to enlist help to get over it. Fortunately, he turned to an outsider. Aaron Schatz, the creator of Footballoutsiders.com to be exact. Schatz, Pats fan, set the record straight. He included in attempt to quiet some of the yahoos out there:

It will be a footnote to the dynasty, a funny story like when some guy from the 1967 Packers talks about how they gouged each other's genitalia at the bottom of the fumble pile.
Hey, remember a couple years ago when the Steelers accused the Colts of piping in crowd noise at the RCA Dome?
Remember when the Broncos broke salary-cap rules in order to build the 1997-98
championship team?
Remember when Jim Haslett said there was rampant steroid use by the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty years of the '70s?
Remember when Herm Edwards admitted to breaking NFL rules by using Stick-Um even after it was banned in 1980?
And remember when Lawrence Taylor said he used to send hookers up to the hotel rooms of opposing running backs while he sat at home doing blow? I mean, are we taking away the '86 Giants' Super Bowl championship too? Come on, already. This stuff happens.

Finally, as you knew they would, the tailgate superstars affectionately known as the AngryTrolls over at ColdHardFootballFacts.com weighed in with an extremely balanced view of what was going on.

My view? Simple. They broke an NFL rule. They should be punished fairly. They were punished justly (if not a little harshly), and now they turn their attention back to the season after the organization and Bill Belichick take their medicine like big boys. Now can we get past this crap and get back to wondering how the Chargers over-rated secondary is going to defend Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Dante Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, and Ben Watson when the Pats go five-wide against them?

* * *

LYING CHEATING BASTARDS!!!

How bummed out is Ron Borges right now? Finally he has a reason to do the ultimate hatchet-job on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots and how their titles are all tainted. Ands now, in his moment of glory, where is he? He is far from the spotlight of Boston Sports.

I have read numerous times that Borges was one of the writers who were firmly entrenched in the Drew Bledsoe fan club. If someone searches around a Boston Globe archive, it should be easy to find some of his more salacious anti-Belichick rants. I, for one, do not have the stomach in these trying times in Foxboro to dig up the dirt on one my favorite boxing writers.

Some of my favorite punishments proposed by those who revel in Patriots misery as we here in the Northeast revel in the misery of the New York Yankees:
Suspend Bill Belichick / Ban Bill Belichick for life
Take away some draft picks / Take away all draft picks
Fine the Patriots organization big $$$ / Kick the team out of the league
Decrease the salary cap number for 2008 / Do not allow the team to sign free agents or make any draft picks
Fine Belichick/the organization up to a million dollars / Bankrupt Belichick and force him into debtors prison

As can be seen by the examples above, everyone has an opinion whether they are logical, non-sensical, idiotic, or occasionally intelligent. With the Boston Herald screaming BELI-CHEAT on the cover on Thursday, this is definitely an issue that no one is going to sweep under the rug anytime soon.

At this time, rumors seem to indicate the Patriots will lose their first round pick (and still keep the one they received from San Francisco for the #28 pick last year) as well as Belichick likely being suspended and fined.

What I really want to know, if how far down the organizational chart this cameraman was, when was this video being analyzed, and how much did Belichick really know about what was going on with the video. It seems to me, the Patriots would be smart enough to have the recording going to a closed-circuit TV or streaming on a secure site rather than fooling around with videotapes. That part alone makes me question how dirty Belichick’s hands were.

Look, I do not like that the Patriots got caught cheating (twice if you count Rodney Harrison getting busted for HGH while recovering from his injuries), but that just helps dispel the myth that they were smarter, better-run, and more gifted than anyone else. The Patriots won by being disciplined and working harder. That will not change with or without signal stealing accusations. Somehow, I do not see this information giving them too much of an advantage, and to the teams who were too slow to figure out that they were tipping off plays, well get smarter or more paranoid.

I think of how laughable it is considering all the hoopla last season about the Dolphins stealing audible calls from the Patriots by watching them on network TV. Uhh, time to switch up the calls Mr. Offensive Coordinator. EVERYONE is looking for that edge. Look at all the videotape digested by the pitchers, catchers, hitters, and coaches in baseball. Pitchers are found to be tipping pitches by where they hold their glove and other non-verbal clues. Cameras and microphones are everywhere in the NFL. Nothing is ever going to stop teams for looking for an edge. What is next, banning Polaroid pictures on the sidelines?

One point I have seen thrown around is the nobility of the boy-genius Eric Mangini. If Mangini was really the saint he is being portrayed as for blowing the whistle, then what took so long for him to blow the whistle? He should have stepped forward last season, or even when he was an assistant for the Patriots.

I think the funniest thing to come out is all the Eagles players whining about losing the Super Bowl two years ago. No, it had nothing to do with your quarterback puking his guts out on the turf and being battered and bruised by the unrelenting Patriots pass-rush. It HAD to be cheating. Well, everyone who has lost to the Patriots the last few years (which is everyone except recently the Colts) has their built-in excuses. What will be interesting will be seeing what the excuse is this season when the Patriots win.

Bottom-line, signal-stealing notwithstanding, the Patriots have always been built around their defense and the players on the field. Teams still have to defend Tom Brady and Randy Moss and stop Lawrence Maroney and put together a number of sustained drives against the Patriots defense.

ADDENDUM: Reports Friday AM say Belichick got fined $500k, the team $250k, and the loss of their number one pick, unless they miss the playoffs and then they lose a second and third round pick. Quick hit: Looks bad, but not too severe discipline.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm Back Baby!

A little bit of technical difficulties, but one new Acer Aspire 3680 Laptop later I am back in business (but too tired to write right now!)

Friday, September 07, 2007

MEMORIES

Took in the Sox this past week, spending Labor Day night out with my sexy Webmaster watching the 10-1 lead in the fifth inning disappear before the Sox hung on for the 13-10 victory. With the kids no doubt driving my Dad & Mom nuts as they got stuck with them for the night, it got me thinking first to the first time I took my son to the Sox and we got to watch an absolutely dynamite performance by Curt Schilling in 2004 (you know, back when he was an ace, not just a blowhard) and an inside-the-park home run and a Monster shot by the beloved Pokey Reese. Then I thought, what about my first trip to Fenway?

It was late September 1982 and the Sox were going nowhere. The Milwaukee Brewers were in the American League and were kicking ass and taking names. They were managed by Harvey Kuenn and were nicknamed Harvey’s Wallbangers for their prodigious slugging power (Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Storming Gorman Thomas, Ted Simmons, and Ben Oglivie). Soon on their way to a showdown with my beloved St. Louis Cardinals (I was a huge Tommy Herr fan. I know, it sounds strange, but I just loved Whitey Herzog and his power-less speed-driven teams), Milwaukee put the finishing touches on their season beating the Sox kind of handily.

While I would need to dig through the attic to find out which of the three game set it was, I vividly remember driving into Boston with my Dad (no one else in the family got to go to the game), he had got the tickets from another teacher at Brockton High. Second, he found on street parking at a broken meter. It did not mean much to me, an eight year-old who had never been in the city, but it was a huge deal to my Dad. Most importantly, I somehow whined my way into getting one of those little souvenir bats they still sell at the ball parks. In fact, I still have it and have since passed it on to my little buddy.

Finally, the most entertaining part was as we sat in the grandstands way behind third base, the large guy seated in front of us spent the first couple innings bitching and moaning incessantly about the ongoing NFL strike. Damned players this, and *&#@&% owners that, and they were all @#&&^#)@s! Finally, my Dad tapped the guy on the shoulder and asked him to cease the profanities in front of his before he knocked him on his fat ass. I vividly remember thinking (but being smart enough not to say out loud): Geez, I hear that at home on a daily basis!

I wish I remembered more of that day, but in the past 25 years my memory just cannot lock on to the details. I remember my brother was jealous, and I was upset my sisters were not more jealous. Yaz was still on the team, Carney Lansford was there, also there was a rookie call-up named Wade Boggs. The Rem-Dawg was a lowly no-hit second baseman, Dewey was in right field, the graceful Gary Miller in center, and Glenn Hoffman at shortstop. I remember seeing the green monster for the first time was a HUGE deal, and I also remember that Jim Rice was the one player I desperately wanted to see hit.

* * *

LABOR OR LOVE:

Couple of notes from the aforementioned foray into Fenway

Daisuke Matsuzaka is only going to get better and better as he continues to adapt to pitching in the big leagues (as compared to AAA, Japan, or the National League). He had a rough first inning, was lights out for the second through fifth, and then was dinked and dunked out of the game before Javier Lopez came in to sprinkle butane on the fire. I kept thinking that he needed to get a little more aggressive, challenge the hitters a bit more, and go for the throat.

* * *

I totally rocked the Canadian National Anthem. Despite my wife kicking me the entire time and trying to hide under her seat, I brought it and brought it hard. Even got a high-five from the Canuck sitting next to us. I love the Canadian National Anthem, hell, it even beats the French National Anthem as far as great Anthems.

* * *

His stat line may not have read it, but Coco Crisp was knocking the ball around. He hit EVERYTHING hard.

* * *

Seriously, when is Troy Glaus going to get the chance to play 80 games at Fenway? That man was built to hit here.

* * *

What is the deal with the J.D. Drew hatred in Fenway? Why does Jason Varitek get a freaking standing ovation when he strikes out (Well, Marge, he certainly tried his best), and Drew hits a hard ground ball that does not find a hole and he is booed mercilessly? These guys have the same stats, for goodness sake, and everyone talks about how Varitek is bouncing back and Drew is a bum. I know, I know, but Varitek does not make much less than Drew. I know, I know, it is perception and WEEIdiots for the most part, but I thought Boston was supposed to be an intelligent sports town. I made my opinions clear pretty loudly (I had some of the wonderful $7 beer—that is 7 PBRs at the Central), but no one took me up on my argument. Later I noticed the kid a row in front had a Drew jersey on and was probably thanking God people like me exist. Anyway, Drew will bounce-back, I have no doubt about it. I just hope he has a huge October and shuts up some of these bozos.

* * *

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

ASANTE ROARS INTO FOXBORO

OK, so it was more of a whisper, but there is very little worry, concern, fear, and or loathing in Patriots camp this summer. Everyone knew that the option to sit out for nothing or make more per game than you made in base salary the season before would bring Asante Samuel back into the fold before week one. Sure, we would all have loved to see more of Randy Moss and Dante Stallworth running under passes from Papa Brady, more Adalius Thomas jumping from position to position, more Lawrence Maroney showing why he was the best back in the 2006 draft, and more healthy bodies, but no one will complain if there are more games like the pre-season tilt against the Panthers.

The Patriots ran and threw the ball with impunity against Carolina. Brady was sharp, Maroney looked good, the offensive line was consistent, and short of one hiccup (where Eugene Wilson limped off after the subsequent play) there were very few things to complain about on defense. Even the special teams stepped it up, blocking two kicks as Vince Wilfork showed off that tremendous strength and explosive first step not seen since his days at the U.

Sure it was only preseason, and, yes, Heath Evans looked like Bronco Naguski out on the turf, but it as nice to see the Patriots looking like the cohesive Mangini-crushers we expect them to be this season.

* * *

One last note, I will be putting together a special Patriots Final Cuts blog very soon. Not that there are a lot of positions up for the taking, but battle for the last five or six roster spots should be intense, as well as the excitement of sneaking the kids to the practice squad knowing that Mangini (or as the New Yorkers call him: Man-Genius. As he is forever referred to here: Man-gina) is hovering around the Foxboro cast-offs and desperate to bring them into New York. Seriously though, we do not really hate Mangina, he is one of our guys. We just hate those arrogant Jets fans who think they are the new suffering Red Sox and every season is going to be their own personal 2004.

* * *

SHOWDOWN

Wait, am I wrong, or did I hear a couple weeks ago that the series this week against the Yankees was supposed to be when the New York mob took over first place and the Sox began to worry about how to cut into the lead Seattle has in the wild card. Hmm, a funny thing happened on the way to September: the Yankees struggled against good teams and the Red Sox beat-up on some patsies to get their lead in the AL East back up to seven in time for the big series in the Bronx.

Yes, I derided all the WEEIdiots who wrote off the Red Sox while the Yankees beat-up Tampa Bay and Chicago while the Red Sox struggled against the Indians and Angels. Funny how things turned out when the Sox got the patsies, no? What the average Boston Red Sox fan fails to realize is that in baseball, there is always tomorrow. The Sox could be at the short end of a 30 run game, or a double-digit sweep and it still is not the end of the world. I mean, the Cardinals won 83 games last year and still somehow the hot team at the right time and took down the Tigers.

The Yankees could sweep the Sox and still win the division. Of course, that is what Regular Joe Torre is praying for right now. For those who have not been subjected to my anti-Yankee views the past four years or so that I have been writing here, I always refer to Joe Torre as REGULAR JOE, because of the play on words (i.e. he is a regular joe) and the fact that he burns his bullpen out in a desperate play for the division lead that the pen is gassed come October. This season has proved to be no exception. Before he retired (or was forced out), I mad the point to refer to pitching coach Mel Stottlemeyer as G&T Mel because there was never any improvement by pitchers in New York, only regression, and I figured his role must have been to mix drinks for Regular Joe after the games.

However, I am not losing any sleep over the Sox being up by only single digits as September comes into view. Most likely, either the Sox or Yanks will win two of three in this mid-week set and that will not swing the division in either direction. A sweep by the Sox would be nice, and a sweep by the Yanks would help them immensely (if only in the wild card race), but these teams are both heavyweights, and in battles of two true top of the game heavyweights very rarely is there a first round knockout. Most often, they both go on swinging with a vengeance at the end of the twelfth round.

* * *

Monday, August 20, 2007

Spare Neurons

* At least for a few days, it is nice to look upon the EPL standings and see the Toffees on top, running with the big boys. Something tells me Manchester United will bounce-back from their listless start, and that Arsenal and Chelsea will finish in the top five somewhere, but seeing Everton leap out to two impressive wins out of the gate gives me the warm fuzzies.

* Staying on a Premiership kick, I am happy to report that both of my brothers-from-another-mother are still gainfully employed, though Charlton did not let him go on the cheap and Marcus Bent is still toiling with them in the Championship League. Brother Darren is with Tottenham Hotspur (ugh, I know, how does one root for Tottenham?) and though Everton ripped them 3-1 this past week, they should crawl out of the cellar soon.

* Since I have probably already turned off three of the four people who read this blog and read it only for Red Sox and Patriots info, I may as well stay with footy and exclaim: THANK GOD Becks came out in style against DC United, leading the LA Galaxy to a 2-0 win by scoring on a freebie and setting up deposed Captain Landon Donovan on the other goal. Like I always said, to be the savior, you have to produce. Nice start, Becks, but you have to keep rising up to make the MLS stay on the map and in the media.

* Jose Offerman and the brazen Juan Marichal-style bat attack for the Long Island Ducks this week was just horrifying. Yes, he will not play in this country ever again. Maybe the Mexican League, definitely the Caribbean League, but he will never play professional baseball again in the US. I never hated Offerman when he was with the Red Sox. The problem was that he was over-paid, over-hyped, and as JD Drew and Julio Lugo learned, Boston is a tough town to start off slow in when there are big bucks and expectations involved.

* Just as an FYI, Eric Gagne is not the devil, the super-devil, a rogue agent, or anything of the like. He is just a guy still relearning how to pitch who got thrown into the pressure cooker known as Red Sox Nation and is struggling to adjust. Remember, he was brought in for October, not for August.

* Whoops, the Yankees are definitely not going undefeated the rest of the season. Nice to see the WEEIdiots getting off the bridge in time to raise some money for the Jimmy Fund.

* Speaking of WEEI, anyone think John Dennis is kicking caddies around the greater Boston golf courses this week with the administrative leave or whatever he and Gerry Callahan are on? Personally, I like having more sports talk and less whining about Liberals and talking about Kiefer Sutherland television shows in the morning.

* What are the odds that the Second Worst Announcer Ever and Worst Hall-of-Famer dies on the same day? Oh wait, that is the same person. Holy Cow, Phil Rizzuto is dead at 89. Send your applications to be the new voice of the Money Store in soon. Of course, if I said Worst Announcer Ever that would be Joe Morgan over on ESPN Sunday Nights. Why is this inept idiot still employed? Again, if anyone has yet to check out Ken Tremendous and the crew over at FireJoeMorgan.com, hurry up and get there and tell them that Hal B. sent ya.

* Nice job by Clay Buchholtz against the Angels Friday afternoon (nope, I was working, missed it all. Thank God for the DVR. See you again real, real soon (like September and October).

* I wonder what Asante Samuel thinks of the dollars thrown at Big Ty Warren? I cannot imagine Asante holding out past week one, if that late. A one year offer worth more than you made in your entire career? Shut up and play, Asante.

* Classy move by Belichick letting Josh Miller go AFTER they picked up the $100k bonus and before the first round of cut-downs to give the veteran punter enough time to latch on with another team rather than get lost with hundreds of other cuts.

* The Cult was a great band. They never got enough credit in their heyday. Lil Devil, Sweet Soul Sister, Edie (Caio Baby), and my favorite: Fire Woman. What a great group. Horrible music videos, way too much Native American imagery, and Ian was just too ugly for MTV, but they just rocked.

* While babbling about music, nothing made me feel older than getting the Rolling Stone mag celebrating the 20th anniversary of GnR and the release of Appetite for Destruction. 20 years? It is official; I am 33 and feel damned old. I remember being 13 and listening to a cassette tape copy of Appetite on my mono Sears cassette player-radio like it was yesterday.

* Speaking of 20 years, that is the last time I can ever remember being this excited for the NBA to start. I’m wearing the Emerald glasses, running through the poppies, and walking the yellow brick road to the Garden: Garnett, Allen, and Pierce, oh my!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is the Matter with you People?

Seriously folks, is there is anything sadder than these WEEIdiots whining and crying about the Red Sox only being on top by four games in the middle of August? Oh yeah, that Bozo the Clown look-alike on the commuter rail this morning talking about how it was time for the Red Sox to play for the wild card. Umm, yeah, we want to lose about 7 or 8 in a row real quick, get out of the division lead, and focus on keeping up with Detroit and Cleveland. How I restrain myself from punching these idiots is a source of much wonder.

Earlier in the season I predicted that the Sox will win the division by ten games. I said it again two weeks ago, and I will continue to stand by it today and until it is mathematically impossible. What, the Yankees are going to continue scoring nine runs a game? Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens started guzzling from the Fountain of Youth? Someone call Ponce DeLeon (wait, I remember him pitching for the Pirates, Cardinals, and White Sox in the late 80s and early 90s, no? Oh, that was Jose DeLeon!) and tell him the Yankees found the fountain of youth (as a sidebar, toss a bottle to Georgie, he looked half-dead the last time I saw him on TV catching a game at the Stadium).

Look, the Red Sox have too balanced a line-up, too quality a rotation, and too deep a bullpen to be down long. There are still a ton of games to play, and the while the Yankees are streaking back to where they should have been all along and the Red Sox are returning to where they statistically should be (If you are not aware of the various methods to calculate a teas expected wins and losses based on various formulas included runs scored and allowed, you desperately need to go to http://www.baseballprospectus.com. Seriously, go there when you finish reading. No, not now, but at the end of the posting. Ahh, whatever, just go there sometime.) The Yankees and Red Sox should have pretty similar records all things being taken into account. The Yankees offense scores more, the Sox have better pitching. As it is a 162 game season, things usually revert to the mean over the course of the season. The Red Sox are not going anywhere, and the Yankees will not play .700 ball the rest of the season. Sorry, but these idiotic Red Sox fans act like the Yankees are going to win every single game. Nope, not going to happen.

I try (and this is coming from a guy who is in a bad mood all the next day if the Red Sox lose, but I really try) to look at only the past ten games when looking at the standings, not daily wins and losses. I figure 160 games divided by 10 gives us 16, or the same number of regular season NFL games. So the Sox have a 16 game schedule just like the Patriots. Now I know the Patriots can go 0-2 and win the Super Bowl, so I have to believe that the Sox can put up a stinker for 20 games and still crank out the AL East. Rather than obsessing over every single game, I break the season into chunks and try not to obsess over every single win or loss (though I think I sleep better when the Sox win).

Please, stop burning those Eric Gagne jerseys and crying about Jon Lester having a so-so outing. The Sox will finish on top of the AL East, should have a fun playoff run, and hopefully get back to the big game against the sacrificial lamb out of the National League.

* * *

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Month of Sundays

Yes, the dreaded Yankees have closed within five games of the Red Sox seemingly once insurmountable lead. Of course, the Red Sox still have six head-to-head games with the Yankees this season, and I really do not see the Red Sox finishing less than ten games ahead of the Yankees. As the pumpkin patch grows and Autumn lurks around the corner, the Red Sox remain in the drivers seat.

I know, I know, the Yankees fans out there are preparing all those email and text messages about the Red Sox swooning in September and that the Yankees are peaking at the right time. But, I am willing to give them a mulligan and a chance to wait until the end of the next couple of weeks before telling them I told them they were delusional. Here are three reasons why the Sox hang tight.

1. All Yankees fans fervently believe that this team will win 67% of the their games with a rotation of the Wanger, Old Man Andy Pettite, Older Man Mike Mussina, Oldest Man Roger Clemens, and a reincarnated Whitey Ford (I mean, Phil Hughes). Yeah, sure this team is going to win two-thirds of their remaining games.

2. The Yankees last 29 games have all been against sub-.500 teams (well the Blue Jays are a .500 team, but let us face the facts: they are floundering). In those 29 games, the Yankees won 19 (about two-thirds). So the Yankees pick up a couple games on the Sox playing the dregs of the American League (Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, et al) while the Sox beat up on the Wild Card competition for the Yankees (LA/Anaheim/California Angels, Seattle Mariners, and the Cleveland Indians. Seems to me, the Yankees just finished their last gasp chance to catch the Sox.

3. Regular Joe Torre knows he has to win the AL East or win the World Series as the Wild Card to have a prayer of returning in 2008. He has already ground one bullpen incarnation into the dirt. How long until he destroys what is left of the tattered arms in the pen? Oh, and I almost forgot the Steroids Poster Boy Jason Giambi and his shower buddy Johnny Damon have the chemistry-killing joy of fighting each other for at-bats like ravenous wild dogs fighting for scraps beneath the table of a medieval royal banquet.

The Yankees took their best shot and have fallen short. Now the Red Sox have a chance to get hot against the bottom-feeders while the New Yorkers struggle to hang around .500 for the next month. Be sure to tell all the Yankees fans you know to enjoy the thrilling Wild Cardrace this fall as they slip beneath Cleveland/Detroit as the days begin shortening.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

SOMEONE CALM DOWN SUSAN WALDMAN NOW

Was there anything sweeter for a Red Sox fan than listening to the fickle and frustrated Yankees fans booing Roger Clemens as he got knocked out of the second inning after surrendering eight runs. What amazes me (EVERY SINGLE YEAR) is how often it seems that Clemens is bailed out by the offense after he gets knocked out of a game or leaves losing. It is like he gets to the clubhouse and has the bench coach handing out notes to the starters:

Jorge Posada: I have your son and you will not see him again until the game is tied.
A-Rod: I have those pictures of your wife we discussed last month on my laptop in front of me and I am ready to hit download unless you guys download a couple more runs.
Jetes: Captain Intangibles, remember when I said I ran into your sister in Vegas, well here is a sample pic. The rest get to the Star unless I get off the hook for the loss.

Yeah, I can totally see that happening.

* * *

CANCEL THE SUPER BOWL TRIP

Yes, Randy Moss tweaked a hammy and camp sunshine is cancelled. The doom and gloom Boston media jumped all over the long lean one as he limped off the field this week and was held out of practice a few days. Karen Guregian in the Herald (that bastion of hype and hyperbole) says about Moss being listed as day-to-day by Belichick:

Wasn’t “day-to-day” Belichick’s prescription for cornerback Chad Scott, who is
now out for the season with a knee injury?
Umm, Karen, I hate to point this out, but Chad Scott left the field on a cart and it was obvious that there was a serious problem. Randy Moss walked back to talk with Belichick with an ice pack on his ass. Just a wee difference, no?

Of course, without Ron Borges and his daily anti-Belichick rants, backbiting and innuendo I almost do not know what to do. Who is going to point out at every conceivable point that the Big Five linebackers are 29, 30, 32, 33, and 38? Who will tell us that Asante Samuel is better than Ty Law and the Patriots cannot win without him? Who will tell us that Richard Seymour is overrated, gets man-handled by Kevin Mawae, and dogs it too often? How will I know that Lawrence Maroney is not a workhorse and that Sammy Morris could not carry the jockstrap of Corey Dillon? How will I know that Matt Light lives in fear at the mention of the name Jason Taylor and that Big Red Dan Koppen has nightmares about Taylor’s brother-in-law Zach Thomas? Ron Borges, an over-confident Patriots Nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

OK, so maybe not so much.

As usual, the Patriots are still front-runners along with the Colts and San Diego now that Marty is out. The Patriots have a great offensive line, a great defensive line, solid running game, solid linebackers, good receivers when they are healthy, and a good secondary when they are healthy. The solid teams are solid, and as long as #12 is on the field, the Patriots must be considered a worthy Super Bowl pick, just as the Colts are as such when Peyton is on the field and not in front of yet another camera. There will be injuries to overcome, guys underperforming, and some surprises, but that is football, and overcoming that is why Bill Belichick gets the big bucks. One week until the preseason games begin, five weeks until the real deal. I know I can hardly wait.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

SPARE NEURONS

Picking up the pieces of a crazy couple of days of Boston sports:

* In retrospect, unlike Bob Ryan at the Boston Globe, I am definitely buying into the hype around Kevin Garnett. Yes, the lack of depth is horrifying, but hearing that veteran minimum riff-raff like Dikembe Motumbo, PJ Brown, Troy Hudson, and Brevin Knight are already paging Danny Ainge at least gives me a little hope for some depth off the bench. I still think they Celtics bring back the Kandi-man.

* Can some Yankees fan tell me why a team with a desperate need for bullpen help trades away their best set-up man? I know no one would touch Kyle Farnsworth, but why trade Scott Proctor? Just because Regular Joe Torre cannot manage a bullpen and burnt the kid out is no excuse to dump him for a utility infielder (Wilson Betamit: No, no, shouts Brian Cashman, he is our newest first baseman of the future!). So, if the pen is a weakness, you should trade away the good guys? Hey, no complaints from Red Sox Nation.

* In five years, when looking at the Eric Gagne rental, Engel Beltre is going to be the one that got away. Or, maybe not. Anyone hear about Phil Dumatrait recently? (OK, I did, he is still laboring in AAA but is doing OK and could be a number 4 or 5 starter, but in no way the stud he was originally projected to be. Heck, if he is not cracking the Reds rotten rotation, there is less hope than originally thought).

* Geez, how low can the Bruins go now? The NESN execs must be gnashing their teeth being stuck with the black and gold all winter while the star-studded Celtics start pulling in the ratings for Greg Dickerson and Gary Tanguay and the rest of the FoxSports NewEngland. I hope they have a lot of Sox footage to replay this winter (Tito and his Top Ten Grimaces from the Dugout; Big Papi and the Curse of the Ninth Inning Pop-outs; How Manny Got his Groove Back; Alex Cora for President in 08; The Pontifications of the Schill).

* Regarding Joel Pineiro, well, what a waste he turned out to be, but kudos to the Sox brass for taking a chance on him. Now, we just need to find out who that player to be named later is going to be. When I advocated the trading of Yo-Yo Tavarez to St Louis in early June, here is what I dug out of the weak Cardinals farm system as a public service to Epstein and Co:
Bryan Anderson: Single A catching prospect. Hey, we need ANY catching prospect. Varitek is not getting any younger.
Chris Perez: Fast-track bullpen boy from the U (Miami of Florida) who has potential closer written all over him.
Mark McCormick: Single-A PROSPECT. Needs a lot of work but has a triple-digit fastball.
Other than these three, anything from St. Louis is an organizational guy (someone there to take up space in the minors).

* Yup, Eric Bedard is really that good. Second best lefty in the American League as far as I am concerned.

* When Ben Watson and Kevin Faulk are the forgotten guys on offense, it is no wonder I am salivating for the football season to kick-off. BRING ON THE %@#-#^&#@$ JETS ALREADY!

* Rod Beck and Cocaine? Gee, I never saw that coming from a million miles away!

* Garnett for Al Jefferson and a number one pick. In the end, that is what the trade turned out to be. OK, I can deal with that. I’m off the ledge, and I am ready for a RELEVANT Celtics team instead of looking three years down the road.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gagne? Sure, but what about Dye?

OK, I am going on the record: I DO NOT LIKE IT.

One day after imaging how great it would be if the Sox had kept Bruce Hurst, Bobby Ojeda, and John Tudor in the mid-eighties and had those three lefties teamed with Clemens for a dominant rotation for the next ten years, I started thinking about Jon Lester and Kason Gabbard in the same rotation for ten years. Buh-bye Kason.

Yes, the Sox need a back-up closer and that Gagne was a better pick-up than Octavio Dotel (quick, who did the Yankees get at the deadline for the bullpen? Oh yeah, nobody--that is 50% of the reason why the Sox swung the deal), and I would have had a coronary if Lester, Delcarmen, Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz, or Justin Masterson (heck Bard or Cox would have set me off). Still, I understand the Sox need to give something to get something and the bullpen, while great, is still tenuous. For example:
Jonathan Papelbon: the shoulder will remain a question
Hideki Okajima: how many innings will he last?
Manny Delcarmen: Looks great, then has a stinker like the other night.
Mike Timlin: How long will he last? With the shoulder problems already, he is a huge question mark.
Yo Yo Tavarez: who the heck knows what you will get.
Kyle Snyder: a surprise so far, but will he be dependable if the workload gets bigger?

So the Sox got the help they needed in the bullpen. The best news was that when Gagne leaves as a free agent at the end of the season, they get a one or two and a sandwich pick in the amateur draft.

* * *

Now, the Sox did not get Jermaine Dye. That sucks, but he had no intention of coming to Boston. Wily Mo Pena and Craig Hansen for Jermaine Dye is a joke. Why Chicago would make that trade is beyone me. Of course, I would pay big bucks to see Ozzie Guillen ream out Wily Mo for the first time when he screws up in the outfield. That would be priceless.

* * *

Celtics? Garnett? Yeah, but what about Gagne?

The poor Celtics: the trade of the century (at least since Red fleeced Golden State and got Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for Joe Barry Carroll) and all anyone is talking about in Boston is about the Red Sox a) traded Kason Gabbard and David Murphy for Eric Gagne, and 2) did not get Jermaine Dye from the White Sox for Wily Mo Pena and Craig Hansen.

OK, let us get the Celtics out of the way:

I understand it: Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen along with Brigs and myself filling in at center and point guard would finish .500 at worst. Now, I know that I am biased because I am a huge Big Al Jefferson fan, but really there was not much given up. As for the rest, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and two first-round draft picks are nothing special. Green COULD be a star, but looks more and more like the second-coming of Ricky Davis (and now he gets to play with him!), Gomes is a good sixth man, Ratliff is a salary dump, and Telfair was gone to begin with. One of the picks belonged to Minnesota to begin with, and hopefully the number one from Boston will not be a lottery pick next season.

Garnett, Pierce, and Allen give the Celtics a legitimate chance to win the Eastern Conference. They should win 50 games, easy. They have a lot of work to do as they only have eleven on the roster now (with two of them second-round picks who have not even played yet). Danny Ainge needs a cheap veteran point guard, another big man on the bench (Bring back the Kandi Man!!!), and a defensive swingman. Since there is not much salary room left, the Celtics front office needs to do a lot of work.

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