1. Yo Dawg, Hit These Tots Right Here!

No, I am not advocating violence towards children, but as part of the tater-tot generation, and still stocking up on five pound bags of deliciousness at BJs Wholesale, I just have to pass this on: Suffice to say, I have been dropping the phrase in all its myriad forms all over town.

2. I’m still Coo-coo for Coco

Check out the player profile of Coco Crisp by Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus. Here is what I like most about it:

Crisp's 2007 season is more likely to reflect his 2004-2005 (and 2006
hypothetical numbers) than it is likely to reflect his actual 2006 line.
Combined with his defensive abilities - The Fielding Bible ranked him as the
second best left fielder in the league from 2003-2005, and David Pinto's
Probabilistic Model of Range showed Crisp to be a few outs above average
defensively in center in 2006, - we can expect Crisp to be productive for
the Sox. If his stolen base success rate is a more accurate reflection of
his abilities going forward than his past numbers are, even better for the
Red Sox
With a healthy and more experienced Crisp and potentially J.D. Drew in the
outfield for what the Sox hope is a full season's worth of games, the Red Sox
outfield should be somewhat improved defensively as well as offensively, and
this will go a long way towards the organization rebounding from what turned out
to be an incredibly disappointing 2006 season. The batted-ball data shows us
that the chances of a rebound are in Covelli's favor. Great news for a Sox
organization without a real backup solution.
Great news is what I like to hear.

3. Drew Who?

What is the over-under for days until J.D. Drew actually signs his contract? I am guessing it is likely to leak out when there is a major Patriots event going on so as to lessen the negative media impact.

4. The Big Eunich

Speaking of deals that have not gone through yet, is it a given that the pride of NYC, the big lefty, the Sox killer, Randy Johnson is gone? First off, why would any GM give-up a very good set-up man or legitimate prospects for a 43 year-old with a bad back and a 5.00 era? For some reason, San Diego supposively jumped into the fray along with the Diamondbacks, but wisely backed-away. Imagine the Big Eunich trying to co-exist with David Wells in the locker room? Yikes. Anyway, it is nice looking at the Yankees heading into 2007 with one legitimate-in-his-prime starting pitcher. With the Eunich gone, it leaves the Chien-Ming Wang (the only legit starer), the rapidly deteriorating Moose and Andy Pettite (they would be a great 1-2 punch: SIX YEARS AGO!), Japanese wanna-be Kei Igawa (who had to go tell Steinbrenner that the Yankees bid $25 million for the rights to negotiate with a pitcher who grades out as at best a #5 starter, but more likely a middle-reliever?), and the perpetually misfortunate Carl Pavano. They had better hope that Phil Hughes is all he is cracked-up to be and that he will be ready to dominate sooner rather than later.

5. Ask Dr Z.

I love the fact that Penthouse has a regular column called: Ask Dr. Z. Cracks me up every time I read the Z-Man on In his All-Pro article, he somehow manages to not pick Ty Warren (his grading system is big on sacks, I guess). Surprisingly, Logan Mankins made the grade for his All-Pro at guard. Nice to see the O-Line get some kind of credit. Z, of course, is the one who called out Richard Seymour after the Jets game because he totally sucked. Of course, in defense of Big Sey, he should not have even been playing with his dinged-up elbow and when he did play, he was out of position filling in for the injured Ty Warren.

6. Closer

So the Sox got their closer: Joel Piniero. Hey, I am a huge Piniero fan: He is representing Puerto Rico every season on my fantasy baseball team. He was cheap, has some upside, and lest anyone forget, the Cardinals won the World Series with Adam Wainwright as their closer. What have the Yankees won with Mariano Rivera as closer these past six years? Right, absolutely nothing. A great signing by the Sox, adding to the live arms in the bullpen. Heck, I feel better about the pen now than I did last year at this time.

7. Rudy Seanez Redux

Speaking of relief pitchers, the Yankees are apparently trying to corner the market on Rudy Seanez clones, as they got about three of them from Arizona for the Big Eunich. Great deal. Add them to the middling relief prospects from Detroit and Baltimore and the Pinstripers got just about nothing for their most dangerous and clutch hitter (Gary Sheffield), a number five starter (Jared Wright), and a 200+ innings veteran #3 pitcher. Great wheeling and dealing indeed. Guess they need to save some cash to keep paying for psychologists for A-Rod since they cannot give him away.

8. One Student Down, Two to Go

So Nick Saban bailed on the Dolphins? Good! Of course, it was a moot point for weeks, but what motivation did he have to go back to the Dolphins instead of taking the easy money and less stress of Tuscaloosa (not that coaching Alabama is a stress-free job, but it is still college and not the NFL)

9. Salary Cap

Wait, are we supposed to bash the Patriots for not spending to the cap this year, or congratulate Scott Pioli for keeping money in reserve to sign cheap veterans as the injury report goes into double-digits once again. Very shrewd, dude. Speaking of caps, with Floyd Reese gone from Tennessee, is this the off-season Pioli bolts for big bucks? Reese is very close to Bill Belichick and could slide into the GM role quite easily in New England.

10. Are you mocking me?

Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus checks in with the first mock fantasy draft of 2007. Mock drafts already??? Wait, less than 90 days until opening day? Oh joy! That means we are six weeks from spring training, which gives me only about 70 days to get ready for the fantasy draft. Oh joy! If I can survive a February and March full of the Celtics and Bruins playing out the string, I should be all set and juiced for the Sox in 07. The best part of fantasy sports is without doubt the team name. After years of going with the Troy Trojans or Troy Haymakers (homage to 19th century pro ball) I started going to witty names, Simpsons-related names, Futurama-related names, to simply advertising the blog. I think I will stick with the advertising, but I like the idea of having a team named: Mimit is Pissed-off! (Of course, Brigs would probably name his team: His name is Slim, dammit! in retaliation.)

11. Smut-tastic

Up until recently, I completely forgot all about the local lads mag that somehow keeps plugging along. Fortunately, they have their website in some kind of order, as they so desperately needed to do. Yes, the great juvenile anti-cubicle Boston sports and pub crawling humor of Barstool Sports is still kicking along. Congrats to El Presidente. I remember the paper coming out and laughing my arse off and thinking: this guy has serious canastas. I still think they are crazy to keep printing, but at least the website is looking more like instead of Dead Space. Now where the hell is that offer to get the doughy, mid-thirties, yuppy, preppy white-boy perspective of as a regular feature?

12. Bruins Fever: Catch it

I think the 10-2 pasting by Toronto just killed every last drop of Bruins mania that some poor saps may have been clinging to. I watched a bit where it was 2-1 Bruins until 3-2 Toronto in the second. Imagine my surprise getting the text message that the final was 10-2. I was wondering why I heard my father-in-law cursing from 10 miles away.

13. The slow meandering drive for 17 continues

Celtics - Grizzlies live on FSN Friday night. NBA Fever, catch it. YAAAAWNNNNNNN!

Ron Borges needs to stick to boxing

He is the best boxing writer this side of Burt Sugar, but Borges manages to piss me off 90% of the time when he is talking or writing about the Pats. His Gostkowski bashing in the Globe on Friday 1/5 was inexcusable. He writes that

he's the reason New England leads the league in fourth-down tries
Uhh, yeah, OK. Just like he must have been the reason in 2005 and 2004 as well while he was kicking in college and Adam Vinatieri was on the roster. Glad to see you took advantage of the opportunity to turn the knife in the back of Bill Belichick yet once again. (Note: I was ecstatic to see that Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch caught Borges in the act as well and called him out on it, as well as ridiculing him for falling for the Pepto planted in the locker.)

15. Picks are back!

Just in time for the playoffs, as life calms down just a pinch, I bring back the picks. Here they are for the Wild Card round:

Colts 51 Chiefs 49: Adam Vinatieri hits a 49 yard field goal with one tick left on the clock to propel the Colts into a match-up with San Diego. Tony Gonzalez has four touchdown receptions in the loss.

Cowboys 26 Seahawks 20 (2 OT): Drew Bledsoe comes off the bench in the second overtime to toss a touchdown to Terry Glenn ala his career-highlight toss to Michael Timpson on January 2, 1994 knocking the Dolphins out of the playoffs at the conclusion of his rookie season (Gallagher & I watched that one from the nosebleed section the afternoon after catching Aerosmith at the Garden where some kid who claimed to be the son of Joe Perry invited my future wife back-stage. Fortunately for me, I am jealous and possessive). Unfortunately, after the Minnesota 63 pass super-comeback win the following season, it was all downhill for Drew after that.

Patriots 24 Jets 17: see below

Eagles 38 Giants 17: Jeremy Shockey knocks Eli Manning out of the game on the sideline in the third quarter with a haymaker after Manning overthrows Shockey for his third interception of the game.

16. Pats vs Jets

Some of the most cogent pre-game analysis comes from Mike Gee (former Boston Herald sportswriter) on his blog:

It's very difficult for ANY pro football team to win twice in an opponent's home
stadium. First, the only way it can happen is in the playoffs, meaning both
clubs were reasonably successful in the regular season. Secondly, since you're
on the road, it means your opponent had more success than you did. Finally, and
worst of all for New York, your chances actually go down the better your season
was. It's exponentially less likely the 10-6 Jets will beat the 12-4 Pats in
Foxboro than it is the 8-8 Giants will topple the 10-6 Eagles in Philly (not
that anyone should bet the Giants, mind you).

Of course, it is the playoffs and anything can happen. But he brings out a good argument:
The Jets can win if they outplay the Pats by a significant margin. If both teams
are at the same level, New England will likely prevail. If the Jets don't play
as well as the Pats, they'll lose by an area code. On the blackboard, this
equals New England to win and cover.
Will the Jets outplay the Patriots by a significant margin on Sunday? I see it as very doubtful. The Jets had three big things in their advantage in November.

1. They had two weeks to gameplan for their personal Super Bowl, while the Patriots had a short week;
2. The Patriots stupid turnovers killed them. To say that the Patriots offense is playing worse than they were in November is idiotic. The team is starting to peak offensively again with Corey Dillon and Lawrence Maroney healthy and Reche Caldwell playing like a number one receiver;
3. The Patriots injuries forced them to shuffle their strength of the defense: the defensive line. The defense is finally getting over the loss of Junior Seau and Eugene Wilson, and if Bob Sanders can keep from giving up some big plays, they should be alright to handle the loss of Rodney Harrison.

Like I said above, Patriots 24 Jets 17.

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