Thursday, March 27, 2008

Konnichi Wa

Well, Hal B. has definately had better opening days. Nothing like getting up at 5:30AM to catch the pre-game show from Japan and getting a satellite signal problem from DirecTV. Now, first off, I have been DirecTV's best advertisement, telling one and all how great they are. Well, let me say that I was far from that person Tuesday morning. In fact, my sexy wife ended-up calling DirecTV and waiting on hold for almost an hour because I was in no shape to talk intelligently.

Fortunately, it was fixed in time to allow me to watch the recorded replay when I got home from work, but it was far from the same. I really wanted to wake the kids, fire-up the grill and throw on some hot dogs, and crack a beer and watch the game. Not suitable for mornings before work, however.

The fact that the Sox left with a split was good enough for me. The circus is gone, and now they can focus on the season and the American League East.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Hal B. is back and tying up some loose thoughts that need to land somewhere...

I don't think there was a game that was more impressive as far as a team sucking it up and coming back than the Celtics against San Antonio in San Antonio? For as bad as the Celtics looked in the first quarter, their comeback against such an excellent team was eye-opening. The Green are legit, and that was obvious to all but the nitwits who were "shocked" after the Celtics decimated the Houston Rockets 22 game win streak.

* * *

While I find it admirable that the Red Sox stood up for the training staff and got their money for them, I have to ask the question: Why do you need $40k for a week in Japan? I'd bet there is someone on the Travel Network who can show you how to get by on $40 dollars a day in Japan.

* * *

-- WARNING * This is non-Boston sports. In fact, we're talking soccer again * WARNING --
From the better late than never depatment: Finally got to my DVR list and the Everton-Portsmouth game from a couple weeks ago. Great effort by the Toffees and their fight to get into the top five. Nice to see Cahill get over that goal-less hump at last.

* * *

You can tell it is that time of the year when there's no football, no REAL baseball, infrequent basketball, and the Bruins make thier push for a high draft pick by the amount of Star Trek: Voyager I have been watching.

* * *

Anyone that lives in a delusional world like I do where they believer they are the greatest General Manager in sports, forget the Wi/PS3/etc games, all you need is http://www.sportsmogul.com/. They have a free download of the 2006 Baseball Mogul game to try out, online games, and demos on the new 2008 games. Great stuff. I got an old version (2002 or 2003) at Ocean State Job Lot one time for $1 and was completely hooked. Easy enough to use, and realistic enough that you cannot stop playing. To say it is an addiction for me is an understatement. Check it out.

* * *

Personally, I think it is a big plus that I do not have to endure Tina Cervasio at the Red Sox games on NESN. I never understood the attraction to her. She was annoying and seemed vaguely Dude-ish--as in a well-dressed tranny kind of way.

* * *

I still think that in the course of the next couple of years the Red Sox are going to regret not letting Mike Lowell walk and grabbing Pedro Feliz for a year or two until they plug in Jed Lowrie. I guess it could be worse: anyone seen Andy Marte on a milk carton yet?

* * *

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Luck of the Irish

Since it is St. Patrick's Day Weekend, I guess I have to write about the best team in basketball, eh? The Celtics have been otherworldly this season, with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen looking as if they'd been playing together since high school, or at least in the off-season (which they kind of have been doing). I really like seeing the growth of Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Big Baby over the course of the season, further proving no one can draft like Danny Ainge.

The real stars who have made the difference with the Celtics have been the role players: Eddie House has been looking like Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson on the court; James Posey is a great defensive player who can take the ball to the hoop if necessary; and Tony Allen has been better than I expected, considering his knee was spaghetti at one point last season.

Say what you will about Doc Rivers, but his test does not start until the post-season. He certainly made the right moves in the past couple of weeks integrating Garnett back into the line-up, resting the starters in blow-outs, and getting Ray Allen pushing the ball to the basket now that he is healthy. Also, that Detroit game was the most exciting game at the Garden since the glory days of the run to the Eastern Conference Finals five years ago.

So, what do I expect? Nothing short of a trip to the finals. I expect Detroit and Cleveland will give them a heck of a fight, considering they both have been there and done that in the playoffs. I cannot guarantee, but I feel good about the playoff possibilities for the Green.

Emotional Healing

Doc: "So tell me about your issues, Mr. Bent."

Hal: "It's the damned Super Bowl. Eli Freaking Manning? I mean, 4th down and long and he turns into a cross of Terry Bradshaw and Kenny Stabler. What the..."

Doc: "Mr. Bent, please wipe the white foam frothing from the corner of your mouth and continue."

Hal: "Then this stupid 'Spygate' crapola. Every team in the league videotapes. Where did Belichick learn it from? The Tuna? Ray Perkins? Come on, the Patriots are taking the heat for the entire league, and the media just cannot wait to pile on. If I hear the words 'Matt Walsh' one more time I am going to explode. In fact, I will..."

Doc: "Mr. Bent, you are frothing again."

Hal: "Call me by my name, Doc. Mr. Bent is my dad."

Doc: "Of course, Harold."

Hal: "Forget it."

Doc: "What?"

Hal: "Nothing, go on. I'm paying by the hour anyway, you quack."

Doc: "Yes. So let us move on from football. The Super Bowl was a long time ago and you need to focus on the fact that the Patriots have the number seven pick in the draft, the team has cap space to go shopping for bargains, and Randy Moss is back at a relatively cheap price for a record-breaking receiver."

Hal: "Holy..."

Doc: "Yes?"

Hal: "Nothing. Just didn't realize you really knew what you were talking about."

Doc: "So basketball, Mr. Bent, I mean Harold?"

Hal: "Call me Hal, please.

Doc: "Hal Please?"

Hal: "Forget it."

Doc: "What?"

Hal: "OK, basketball. Well, I am a native New Englander so no one here cares about college basketball until the tourney starts, and I already got my e-mail from corporate HR in Boston banning gambling pools via e-mail, which is kind of uncool considering my last boss at my previous job was a Tourney Junkie who brought in a TV for the break room."
"The Celtics are relevant again, which is great for me since I've been sticking-up for Danny Ainge since day one on the job (do you hear that Bill Simmons at ESPN.com, you Hollywood sell-out. Say hi to Sarah Silverman for me, you phony, next time you're licking Jimmy Kimmel's shoes).

Doc: "We should explore this anger..."

Hal: "Nah, been there, done that. Love the Sports Guy when he writes like he did. Hate him when he goes all Hollywood."

Doc: "I meant the Sarah Silverman reference."

Hal: "I got a thing for chicks in those three-quarter length jersey shirts, what can I say?"

Doc: "Right, so on to the Celtics again?"

Hal: "Yeah. So I am all excited about them winning again, but I can feel myself slipping into that mode where I cannot handle a winning team in New England. Like the Red Sox and Patriots winning it all. It totally changed me. Now instead of being able to handle defeat with class, I am kicking things, throwing things at the TV, swearing, and walking around in a huff for three days after the Sox or Pats lose. Now I am doing the same with the Celtics."

Doc: "Interesting, you used the word 'huff'. Didn't you once say you had Aubrey Huff on your fantasy baseball team two years in a row? That could be significant."

Hal: "What the...?"

Doc: "Mr. Bent, I mean, Harold. This session is being taped for Sports Psychology Today, please watch your language."

Hal: "OK. Speaking of Aubrey Huff, right now I'm in two leagues for fantasy baseball and am in between drafts. One drafted last week, the next Monday night. After being burned by Alex Gordon and Felix Hernandez last year, I decided to change my entire draft strategy. I went to BaseballProspectus.com and downloaded the PECOTA rankings for every player in the league and drafted based on their VORP projections with EQA being the tie-breaker for positional players and WARP breaking ties for pitchers."

Doc: "What the hell are you talking about, you sabermetric nerd?"

Hal: "Doc, watch your language! Anyway, I decided to simply draft the player who had the highest ranking regardless of position."

Doc: "Ahh, and this is why you took Joba Chamberlain in the fourth round. I was wondering who the idiot was who did that and was getting lambasted all over the Yahoo.com fantasy baseball chat rooms."

Hal: "I didn't like it either. But I started to falter in the middle rounds and panicked and got away from my draft order and started filling positions instead of drafting value regardless of position. Granted, I took the highest ranked position player on the board ranked by VORP, but still, I felt dirty afterwards for not sticking to my plan."

Doc: "Did you take a shower? Water cleanses, washes away all your sins..."

Hal: "Just shut up, OK? This is my therapy. So anyway, I am excited about baseball starting, even though the Sox have that stupid trip to Japan and a killer schedule in April. But, even with Beckett tweaking his back, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I lke the idea of saving some innings for later with him."

Doc: "And your obsessive-disorder regarding the Yankees?"

Hal: "How many rings this century? Nuff said!"

Doc: "Ahh, our time is up. Easiest $25k I ever made."

Hal: "You take post-dated checks, right?"

Doc: "Cash or charge only!"

Hal: "Well, guess you have to catch me. Spider-man away!"

Doc: "He does know we're on the thirty-third floor, right?"

Hal: "Auuuuggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Stupid Spring Training Stories

Is there a worse story than the "Jonathan Papelbon Contract Haggle"? He has no leverage until arbitration next year, so he negotiates with the only hammer he has: the media. Whether the Sox pay him $500k or $5M this season, he is not going to do anything but get every penny from the Sox next year. I hate these non-stories that take over the dog days of spring training.

* * *

What I do like this spring:
  • Bartolo Colon as an insurance policy in the rotation to eat the Lester/Buchholz innings to keep them at their limits;
  • Sean Casey in the clubhouse and giving Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell time off;
  • Big Papi with a knee that actually lets him drive the ball with authority
  • Curt Schilling with a muzzle while he rehabs the arm;
  • J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo finally being able to unclench their cheeks during a game;
  • David Aardsma: the former Rice University star comes out of nowhere to play a big role this season out of the bullpen. You heard it here first.
  • The Sox manhandling BC and Northeastern--no mercy!

* * *

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Free Agency Brings Changes

The Patriots have embarked on yet another off-season with cash in hand under the cap and a plethora of free agents on the marketplace. Unlike the dizzying late winter and spring of 2007, the 2008 Patriots have seemingly gone back to standing around and watching stars and solid contributors leave left and right. So far the Patriots off-season has consisted of:

* Top cornerback Asante Samuel leaving to become one of the highest paid corners in the game and now wearing number 22 in Philly;
* Number two cornerback Randall Gay is going back to Louisiana to sign with the Saints;
Safety Eugene Wilson walking out the door without an offer;
* Starting Outside Linebacker Rosie Colvin unceremoniously shown the door
* All-Pro and record-setting wide receiver Randy Moss seemingly getting further from re-signing everyday;
* Number two receiver Donte Stallworth leaving for the greener pastures of Cleveland;
* Some minor re-signings such as Long Snapper Lonie Paxton, Special Teamer Larry Izzo, Special Teamer Kelley Washington, and 13 year veteran Tedy Bruschi deciding to return;
* Also, Jabar Gaffney may or may not be set to return, although at this time he would be the most experienced outside receiver on the team;
* Finally, there was thought that Zach Thomas may be joining the Pats after the Dolphins released him, but instead he ended up in Dallas.

Analysis:
* Like last off-season the Patriots again have a huge hole at wide receiver with Wes Welker the only starter under contract. If Moss and Gaffney sign, the holes go away, but I still have to wonder when the real Chad Jackson makes an appearance for the Patriots;
* Outside linebacker depth is limited with Colvin gone, and the Patriots STILL have no answer on the inside as Junior Seau goes under the knife and likely off to retirement and surfing;
* Cornerback is a HUGE concern now. What was a position with no depth is now a position with simply no one. Maybe Otis Smith can suit back up and Ty Law and Tyrone Poole will come back.
* The number seven draft pick stares us in the face and tempts us with skill players on defense and offense. I am sure the Patriots will consider many trades (Dallas with two picks in the 20s seems like a likely dance partner), although I ALWAYS hesitate to trade down when I think of the Patriots trading down for DE Ray Agnew and LB Chris Singleton while San Diego grabs LB Junior Seau in that spot. Or the Patriots moving down and grabbing C Trevor Matich while San Francisco grabs WR Jerry Rice in that position the Patriots just gave up.

In Bill We Trust, right? Well, I admit I am starting to sweat, and I want to start seeing some results and players on the roster.

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