Sorry for the delay in posting (if anyone still reads this), as I've been so dreadfully busy at work due to this crushing downturn in the economy that I've barely had time to comment on recent events. Some quickies here:
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1. I really like seeing how the Celtics hung in there until the end of game six against the Magic before crashing. For a team that basically has a couple of vets and a bunch of kids (anyone ever check out Big Perk and Rondo's birth certificates? These guys are babies!), they made a heck of a stand and almost made it to the conference finals. I'll stand and applaud them for that effort. To wit, top big man, real NBA MVP Kevin Garnett out for the entire playoffs; Garnett's backup and a double-double waiting to happen, Leon Powe, out for the playoffs after half a game; Big Perk with obvious issues with that left shoulder as evidenced by the number of times he grimaced, growled, or snarled as he grabbed at it; Mikki Moore--lost at sea and buried in Doc's doghouse and contributing absolutely NOTHING; Ray Allen with hamstring issues throughout the playoffs; Paul Pierce dinged up; and the ultimate indignity: having to play Scal 20 minutes a night!
2. The Bruins, well, I guess they were beat-up more than we realized, what with Kessel, Krejci, Ference, and Recchi all under the knife and playing hurt. Still, I feel that this team just sleep-walked through games 2, 3, and 4 and blew the opportunity to move on. It was a pleasure to see Boston wake-up again and realize that hockey did exist in the hub. To hear Bruins talk at the water cooler at work is something I wondered if I would ever hear again--wait, I had never heard it before now that I think about it...
3. Like the Celtics, the Bruins having a game seven at home should be an automatic win no matter what, and both teams seasons ended with disappointment because of that. To fight for home-court or home-ice and then drop the ball (or puck) when the opportunity is there will leave that bitter taste in the mouth (like drinking Lowenbrau...you can brush and brush but the bitter taste remains!).
4. WHERE'S THE STARTING PITCHING???
Beckett? Pitching more like Sir Thomas Beckett!
Lester? Pitching more like my daughter's stuffed frog, Lester!
Masterson? Pitches a good game and gets bumped to the pen? What the heck is that all about!?!
Penny? Ain't worth one! Shouldn't he be ready for mysterious shoulder ailment so he can go down to Pawtucket to "rehab" for a month or so?
Shaky Wakey? Uggh. Long relief is calling!
Dick-K? Ban the WBC! (Yes, both the World Baseball Championship and the World Boxing Council!)
5. Seriously, its a slump. Big Papi is not finished.
(You read it here on the record: I, Hal Bent, being of not-so-sound mind and doughy body, do hereby state for the record that Big Papi will rebound with at least two more seasons of 35+ home runs.)
Simply put, he is not creating bat speed through the hitting zone. Whether it is mental, bad positioning, cheating on the fast ball, etc., the simple fact is he has to get his head, hands, and hips aligned and working together again and he'll be busting down the left field wall and denting the bullpens at Fenway again. How long that will take? It's all up to Papi.
6. I told you Ram-Ram was a great pick-up for the bullpen!!! Add Masterson back there (can we start calling him Bat Masterson yet? C'mon, its a great, witty nickname!) in the pen, and this team will be doing some damage in October if it can fight its way out of the four team jumble that is the Yankees, Jays, Rays and Sox. Right now, all four teams are playoff worthy, which is amazing. Yes, the Jays are for real. Good young pitching and defense, like the Rays last year, solve a lot of problems in a hurry. The Yankees will contend despite their bullpen (Eric Gagne time in the Bronx? Bwah-hah-ha-hah! I'd KILL to see that!), the Rays are shooting themselves in the foot to save a few bucks leaving David Price in AAA--that man should be fronting that rotation in Tampa, and the Sox are so deep that when they get healthy they can run off a streak or two in the summer. Can four teams win 90 games in one division? This could be the year.
7. Yup, Michael Bowden and Clay Buchholz will be in the rotation come hell or high water in 2010.
8. Yeah, losing Jason Taylor to the 'fins was somewhat a surprise, but if the rumors of picking up Derek Burgess to pound the QB comes to fruition, than the heck with Dancin' Jason! Burgess has serious pass-rush skills and at 6-2 and 260lbs he fits the bill as a Patriots 3-4 OLB in the Vrabel/McGinest mode. Since the Pats have three 2nd round picks in 2010, it makes sense to part with one (or, if they can negotiate down the Raiders, a 3rd round pick) to address the position.
9. I still would have no problem going with a three-headed monsters of Tully Banta-Cain, Pierre Woods, and Shawn Crable at OLB. I think Crable can be a difference maker at that position. He looked like a safety dropping back in coverage to make plays with those long arms in the 09 pre-season. If he can get his hands up on passes in the flat to knock them down (think of his Marcus Camby-esque reach), he can be a serious weapon to get the team off the field on third down.
10. Talk about a team in transition--watching the New England Revolution this year is an exercise in concentration. You can't tell the players without a program. Can they bounce back? Is anyone paying attention? Will Taylor Twellman be back this year?
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Whew, nice to get that off my chest. It's been far too long! More to follow soon, including a look at the Celtics and Bruins as they face-off against their deadliest opponent yet: The Salary Cap! (ooh, the horror!).
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