Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Six-pack of Bass Ale

1. Pro Bowl? I don’t watch no stinking Pro Bowl.

As we get ready for snowstorms and snowbird coverage of the all Diasuke Matsuzaka all the time coverage at the Sox spring training, I need to make one more comment on the Patriots as they head into free agency:

a. BIG THREE:
Dan Graham, Asante Samuel, and Troy Brown make up the big three potential losses for the Patriots this off-season. Expect Samuel to get tagged in some manner (franchise), Graham get wildly overpaid, and Brown to re-sign. I imagine that the Patriots will do just enough to keep Samuel away from the Jets, Graham will likely get head-scratching dollars as some team keeps rewinding his last two catches in the playoffs and thinking he could put up 70+ receptions in the right offense, and Brown, though likely courted, knows that ending his career a Patriot is of the utmost importance to his legacy.

b. FREE AGENTS:
Good thing the Pats have that extra first round pick, because the cupboard is bare out there. There are way too many teams with too much cash and too few talented players to spend it on. Here is where the dollars should go:

i. Linebacker:
The number one target should be Adalius Thomas of the Ravens, whatever the cost. Speed, power, and still in his prime. How can the Pats let him slip away? I mean, Eric Alexander was starting in the playoffs. Also, bring back Junior Seau to platoon with Tedy Bruschi (if he comes back), and see if they can grab London Fletcher-Baker for cheap dollars for the year. Carlos Emmons or Donnie Edwards could be a remote possibility as well.

ii. Cornerback:
Dave Macklin of Arizona looks like the Pats kind of guy, but the Pats do not have a good track record of former Cardinal cornerbacks. Dre Bly would be a SUPERB fit in New England: excellent man-cover cornerback, experience in zones, smart, fast, in his prime (29 years old), and in a bad situation in Detroit. You think the guy would be BEGGING his agent to pester Pioli until the Pats brought him in. He would average 7 or 8 INTs a season in the Belichick defense and would give the team some leverage with Asante Samuel. Beyond those two, Nate Clements is too much money, Nick Harper and Tory James would be overpriced and out of sorts in the New England defense, and other than that there is precious little talent.

iii. Wide Receiver:
I hope the draft is stacked, because the cupboard is bare! Other than maybe going after an under-the-radar guy (of which I can think of none) like Reche Caldwell was last year, I do not see the Pats throwing much money at Drew Bennett or Kevin Curtis.

iv. Safety:
Here there may be hope. The best bet may be grabbing two safeties and moving Eugene Wilson back to cornerback. Terrence Holt, Michael Lewis, and Deion Grant headline the group of talented, in-their-prime safeties who may appeal to New England.

2. Celtic Warriors:

Once again, there is no end in sight to the horrendous losing streak (currently at 18 games) for the Celtics. Their last best chance to break it saw them drop the game in the most heart-breaking fashion imaginable: Ricky Davis hitting a game winner with less than a second left. Ouch! Factor in that Davis and Mark Blount both brought their A Games for the first time all season, make it all the more painful.

Of course, that said, I am sure Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers would not take any amount of cash to take those two jokers back.

As the Celtics lose, the excitement picks-up. Ohio State and Texas games are going to get a lot of airtime in the Boston area as interest in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant intensifies. Both guys are awesome, but I am leaning towards Oden being more of a difference-maker in the post teamed with Big Al to give the Celtics that McHale-Parish 1-2 punch. With those two, and Big Perk coming off the bench to inject energy, the team starts to look pretty good. A healthy Pierce and Wally, another year of seasoning for Rondo, and the team starts to look like one with a future. Stay tuned.

3. Bruins shake things up, No one notices:

Did they trade Ray Bourque, Espo, Bobby Orr, or Big Joe? Then nobody really cares. One Bruins note of interest: the Montreal Canadiens passed Sergi Samsonov through waivers last week, and no one made a claim. The claiming team would only have to pay half his salary for the remainder of this season and next, and NO ONE touched him. Pretty sad to think he was once the great Russian hope here in Boston.

4. Will the Patriots get a Woody?

One of my favorite websites, ProFootballTalk, is reporting that the Detroit Lions have had enough of the big, BC product. Apparently, his inflated salary, ego, and waistline has made him expendable in Detroit. Remember all those writers who ripped the Patriots for being so cheap with Woody and that letting him go was the biggest mistake they could make? Well, I do. In this league with a severe shortage of quality linemen, Woody should make plenty of cash, but he would be a great back-up at center and guard for the Patriots if he were available at the right price, lost some weight and got some quickness back, and toed the line. Probability of him landing home here in New England? 50-1.

5. Lemmy is gone? Oh, Lenny, well that is OK:

I thought there was going to be a Motorhead tribute album rushed into stores for a second there. The Red Sox released Lenny DiNardo to make room for J.D. Drew. Other than the distraught young women still reeling from the trade of Bronson and the retirement of Gabe Kapler, the Sox really lost nothing. DiNardo was a Rule V pick who had some promise and never worked out. A number five starter at best, maybe a lefty specialist (although, oddly enough, lefties always smoked him), Lenny was best as a back-up singer to Bronson Arroyo.

6. MISC NOTES:

* Mike Reiss and his coverage of all things Patriots FINALLY has a Red Sox counterpart. In the course of four days I am hopelessly addicted to Bradford on Baseball, the blog of Lawrence Eagle-Tribune Sox guy Rob Bradford. One of the few Red Sox writers in Boston who actually seems to enjoy the sport of baseball, Bradford is a joy to read or listen to as he always seems to 1) not have an agenda; 2) writes & speaks well (which explains why he is never on WEEIdiot nearly enough); and 3) does not stop looking at statistics once he gets to batting average, home runs, and RBIs. Plus, he posts the kind of stuff I would write about if I covered the Sox:

This just in ... Brendan Donnelly's dog, Snapper, ate his wife's phone. (I can't help it. In some respects a half German shepherd-half pit bull is just more interesting than most things in Fort Myers.)

* What happens when the NBA has an All-Star game and no one cares?

* Gerald Green wins the slam dunk contest. Hmm, I guess I know how all those Atlanta Hawks fans felt in the early 80s: We may suck, but we can dunk over you!

* What if the Red Sox went with a six man rotation? Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon, Wakefield, and Tavarez until Lester is ready. Why not. I think a four man rotation is best, but why not go the other way? Someone will eventually do it. Until they started dumping starting pitchers, I thought that Ozzie Guillen would do it in Chicago this summer.

* Closer-by Committee/We love the sound/It keeps the opposing manager’s head/spinning around.
Closer by Committee/A novel approach/A great idea/Above all reproach.
Closer by Committee/Saves for all/More teams should do it/But they do not have the balls!

* Before anyone keeps hammering the Josh Beckett trade as Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio II, we should play the season and see how Hanley Ramirez does this season (as I still think he will end up as merely another Alfredo Griffin), and how that elbow soreness affects Mr. No-Hitter. Somehow, I do not think the deal was as bad for the Sox as everyone makes it out to be.

* It really sucks for your franchise when you fire a coach after a 14-2 season. Way to go, Chargers! The Norv Turner era, I mean an 8-8 season, is not that far away.

* About time Brig-looter showed some love to my Toffees

* Anyone have the over/under on how long Asante Samuel remains in New England?

* Newsflash: A-Rod no longer having sleepovers with Jeter. What, they could not work out the batting order in the sleeping bag? Uggh. I have the willies just thinking of those two sitting around in their jammies trashing Nomar and sipping pina coladas.

* Everyone counts out Oakland, but a healthy Rick Harden replacing mega-money Zito in the rotation, Mike Piazza replacing Frank Thomas at DH, and Shannon Stewart stepping in on the cheap for Jay Payton looks like three upgrades to me.

* For all those idiots who boo-ed 2004 world series (Should have been) MVP Keith Foulke in 2005 & 2006, just pop that 2004 WS DVD into your player one more time and try to tell me that the Sox would have won ANYTHING without Foulkie at the end of the games. He sacrificed himself that post-season. And despite what all the nincompoops and WEEIdiots have to say about him and his personality, he did give back $4.5 million dollars by retiring this winter rather than coasting along on the disabled list and half-assing his way through the season.

* Wah-wah-wah. Poor Bernie Williams. What a classic New York crybaby: Forget I was overpaid the last five years, pay me for what I did six years ago, not for what I bring to the team in 2007. Mucho kudos to the Cashman on this one.

Toffees Solidify

Everton is ready to commit to American international goalkeeper Tim Howard, as he was purchased from ManU, where Howard surely would have played a minor role, and will be minding the net in Goodison park. The sale, valued at roughly 3 million pounds, is a huge move that I feel Everton had to make, as he provides some stability in the area. This surely means the services of number two man Richard Wright will not be required. English championship, Richard? The Toffees also hang on to full back Nuno Valente for another year by taking up the option on his contract. The usefulness of this remains to be seen, as he is right now beset by injury, and, at 32 years of age, will have to prove his mettle in order to remain in the first team.

Bayer Leverkusen 3 Blackburn Rovers 2

Shabani Nonda gave the Rovers a lifeline in the away leg of their UEFA cup elimination round by scoring a late goal to leave Leverkusen with only a 1-goal advantage. With the next match at Ewood Park, that late goal could be the difference maker that could propel the Rovers to the next stage of the UEFA cup. Blackburn was missing several key players, with defender
Andre Ooijer and midfielder Robbie Savage both out with broken legs, and Morten Gamst Pedersen out with a more minor injury. Even with the 3-2 defeat, hope should be abound in Ewood park for Blackburn to advance and maybe make a solid run for the cup.

Rijkaard to leave Barca?

This year at the helm of Barcelona FC will reportedly be the last for the Dutch boss. Speculation is that the in-fighting in the Barca clubhouse, including a Samuel Eto'o-Ronaldinho feud, convinced Frank Rijkaard that it was time to leave Nou Camp. Many Barcelona players, notably the midfielder Xavi, have urged Rijkaard to stay on as head coach.

"He's the sort of coach you can rely on..the door's always open..." says Xavi.

Barca have been dominant in La Liga in recent years, winning two league titles and last year beating Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League final.

There has been speculation on Rijkaard's successor, with names like team Netherlands coach Marco van Basten.

Champions' League...
....starts up again next week! Try pulling me away from the TV.

-Christopher J. Brigham

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