Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spare Neurons

  • I keep meaning to get into my Red Sox pre-season preview mode (I got my Alfredo Aceves Fan Club Membership Card #1A--First one on the bandwagon!), but the NFL has me glued to their network watching the non-stop free agency/Peyton Manning/Tim Tebow/Saints "Bounty-gate"/etc drama.  It's more than gripping than Mexican tele-novellas for God's sake!  In addtion, the NFL draft is right around the corner; only a month away.  I have to start trying to craft my hair into the Mel Kiper Jr style in time for the extravaganza (Sidenote: who the heck was Mel Kiper Sr?)

    • Let's get Peyton Manning outta the way first. I keep hearing Cyndi Lauper in my head (yuck!) singing about "True Colors shining through". Super Bowl? Must be low on the list or else San Francisco would finally have their final triple-jewel quarterback to join Steve Young and Joe Montana in the 49ers legacy.  With that young defense, coach of the year, and group of talented skill players on offense (Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, dare I say even Randy "Cash Money Homey" Moss!), playoff berth in the dreadful NFC West seemed like a lock with Alex Smith at QB.  Too bad the Money Man(ning) had to drop all pretense of caring about winning in order to cash his giant check in the Rocky Mountains.  10-6 seems like it would be fine with him as long as he gets his stats, and especially, gets paid more than Tom Brady. It's (as Aretha would say) all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Money, not wins.  Legacy and ego as highest-paid, not as having the most Super Bowl rings.  Denver is not that great of a defense or offense, and now that Manning held them hostage the entire first week of free-agency, where are his weapons gong to come from  for the Denver offense? Remember that in the Rocky Mountains come playoff time when Peyton Manning is home counting his money and pointing to TB12 on TV saying "I make more than him!". 

    • Everyone in New York has their "Tebow-ner" with excitement about their new third-string quarterback.  The fragile ego of Mark "Dirty" Sanchez will finally have it's first real test after the awful off-season of chasing Peyton Manning broke his poor little heart and the team had to laughingly extend his deal to boost his broken trust. Now, with Jesus Tebow holding the clipboard on the sideline and running the antiquated, "everyone defends it with ease" Wishbone/Slash/Wildcat for a couple of no-gains a game, at the first incompletion in the first practice, it will have the New York "faithful" fans chanting for ol' Jesus Tebow to come replace Sanchez and ply his magic.  Teammates will pick sides. the already divided locker-room will be torn to shreds.  Antonio "Father of our Country" Cromartie will be asked 7,000 times about his anti-Tebow tweets.  The circus just added another ring in Jersey.  More good news for the Patriots if you ask me. 

    • Bounty-gate (seriously, someone needs to stop adding "gate" to every scandal. For example, last night at "Pork-Chop-gate", I ate the last pork chop before my son could get it.  Grrrrr, no more "gates" in conversation allowed unless someone wants to chat with me about Stargate: Sci-Fi, I am all in; Leftover lazy headline writers referencing a scandal from 38 years ago, not interested.) and the suspensions have hit the Saints hard. The real interest is the battle that will ensue when players are in line for fines and suspensions and the Players Union is after Commissioner Roger Goodell and it blows up into a legal battle.  Parents should be using this as a wonderful learning opportunity.  Corrective action was applied by the league in 2010 (questioning, verbal warnings, memos, etc). The team did not heed the action, and then lied about it.  Therefore, minor punishment becomes major punishment.  Kids, take heed, lying and cover-ups lead to bigger problems than just telling the truth.
      • Beyond that, the tweeting of Saints QB Drew Brees (still having not signed the franchise tender) of someone owing him an explanation for his coach Sean Peyton being suspended has me seeing red.  Who does Drew Brees think he is to deserve an explanation? Last I checked, he was not even under contract as a member of the New Orleans Saints franchise. Get off your prancing pony, sign your contract, and shut-up already, Drew.  No one, I repeat, no one owes you, or any player, an explanation regarding discipline toward these coaches and the organization.  Go ask your coach why he lied to investigators and covered-up the intentional attempt to injure his co-quarterbacks in the league, instead of crying on twitter like a big baby.  Nancy Drew Brees would be first in line to cry tothe commish if there was a bounty on him, I have no doubt.  He should be lining up support for Kurt Warner and Brett Favre. Don't kill your popularity with whining, Nancy. Stop now before you sound like an entitled, whiney, crying NFL quarterback (I usually call those types of individuals a "Manning")

    • The Patriots lost two free-agents: Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis and Mark Anderson:
      • BJGE (aka "the Law Firm") cashed in and I am always happy for an undrafted free-agent who makes some bucks. That said, he is entirely replaceable. He averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry and the future of running back in New England is Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen.  I am excited to see the two kids get a full training camp and off-season work-out program under them (last year was so abbreviated due to the idiotic lockout) and show what they can do.  BJGE was a decent back with no breakaway speed and useless catching passes.  He never fumbled. Wow. That doesn't make him worth the extended years and money on the claim.  He was a decent, replaceable running back who filled a need at a short-cost.  Thanks for your work. Appreciate the effort. Good luck and enjoy the money: BJGE earned it.  It's a feel-good story. 
      • Defensive End Mark Anderson really cashed in as well.  Ditto to BJGE, Anderson was a scrap heap pick-up who cashed in after picking up ten sacks and rehabbing his image. $8 million guaranteed and 4 years was never ever coming from New England. Trevor Scott was brought in for one year, $1.15 million to replace Anderson.  Again, good for Anderson, I am personally very happy that his hard work resulted in cash.  Feel Good Incorporated, Warm-Fuzzies, etc.

  • Baseball is coming. I promise.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Evening Post

A challenging week of fighting off the flu, March Madness busting my bracket, and a happy, happy McSorley's Irish Black Lager full St. Paddys.  Since I've been busier than I should be, I will keep the focus on the local free agency madness...

    • The Patriots, as per usual, watching laughing as the usual gang of idiots throwing obscene dollars at players (some worth it, most not). The Buccaneers and Redskins led the madness out of the gate.  Tampa Bay wasted millions on Guard Carl Nicks (worth every penny), Receiver Vincent Jackson (Umm, so much wasted talent and untapped production in San Diego), and Cornerback Eric Wright (overpaid); Washington made Tampa Bay's spending seem intelligent as they threw millions at Receiver Pierre Garcon (sooooo much cash for sooooo little), Cornerback Cedric Griffin (overpaid), Safety Brandon Merriweather (bwah-hah-hah!  Bwah-hah-hah! Sorry, this is too sad to do anything but laugh. That bum must have the greatest agent ever. Washed out from playing for Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith and another team still finds a reason to pay him. Sad.)  and last and certainly the least, Wide Receiver Josh Morgan (no talent, no game, no reason to pay).  
    • The Patriots, as usual, were boring.  They signed the best deep-threat receiver in football in Receiver Brandon Lloyd (most targets and receptions on passes thrown over 20 yards over the last two years) and reuniting him with Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels seems to be what gets the best play out of Lloyd.  The fact that there was no market for him was not surprising.  The fact the Patriots got him at the insanely affordable 3 years and $12 million total seems mind-boggling in comparison to the 5 years and $60 million Washington doled out to Garcon. Also, the Patriots took a low-risk, high-potential flyer on Receiver Anthony Gonzalez of the Colts who provides hold-out insurance if Wes Welker cannot work out a deal and a hold-out ensues. Gonzalez was a first-round pick, but various injuries kept him off the field after a strong start.  
    • Finally, Center Dan Connolly re-signed to keep the offensive line in one piece.  Whether Center Dan Koppen is invited back to compete with Connolly is unknown at this time, and one assumes there is a market for Koppen, but nothing is certain at this point of free agency.  Expect the Patriots to add some interior line help late in the draft again in hopes of finding another lineman or two to build for the future.
      • WIth Lloyd and Gonzalez in the fold, Deion Branch becomes (if he returns) a nice depth option, which is what he is at this point of his career.  Branch filling the role of Chad Ochocinco is a huge upgrade, and the countdown to the release of Ocho-stinko becomes the only reason to pay attention to the fraud.  
    • On defense, the Patriots continued to make smart, cost-efficient moves.  They added Defensive End Jonathan Fanene who was a high-motor, pass-rusher for Cincinnati and would seem to be a great back-up to come in and play on third down as Mark Anderson did before Andre Carter was injured and Anderson stepped-up to full-time.  With Anderson and Carter still un-signed, the Patriots may be able to bring one or both back.  Safety Steve Gregory adds some depth at safety and special teams.  Defensive End Trevor Scott is another low-risk with potential high-reward signing.  
      • Much like the Bill Belichick Patriots did back their glory days of adding unknown, but talented role players and perfect fits to their system, and those low-risk, high-reward players on the free-agency market. The depth on defense is improved, the gaping hole on offense is filled, and (oh yeah, forgot to mention) special teams depth remains high. Now, time to focus on the draft!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Morning Coffee

Wow. A whole week between posts.  What happened to this week? Maybe it was Peyton Manning Overload.  

    • The best news for the Patriots is that Peyton Manning will not join the Jets, as they agreed for some god-awful reason to give Mark "Dirty" Sanchez a 3 year $40.5 million dollar extension.  Really?  Sanchez falls between average and mediocre and most analysts have a tough time cramming him into the top-15 QB list, and the Jets decide to hitch their wagon to his star? Wow.
    • With Manning out of New York, which would have made the Jets an immediate Super Bowl contender, the next target in the AFC East is the Dolphins (as the Bills extended Ryan Fitzpatrick after 6 good games early in the season and then watched him crash and burn in the second-half of the season with the ink still not dry on his 5 year contract extension).  The good news for the Patriots is that the Dolphins owner is the type to scare away a control-freak like Manning. 
      • With Manning out of the division, there is one less headache twice a season.  With Sanchez staying in New York, the Jets guarantee more 8-8 seasons.  
    • I love RG3 (Robert Griffin III) from Baylor, but 3 first-round and a second-round pick to move up 4 spots in the draft? The Redskins obviously believe that Peyton will not play in the same division as Eli, and not believe the Matt Flynn hype. If he's the real deal, no one cares the cost.  If he's a Ryan Leaf...need I say more?
    • 10 straight without a loss.  The Spurs go down as the Toffees catch a huge break with Louis Saha hitting the post in extra time as the club with the best name in sports (Tottenham Hotspur, how do you beat that name?) falls short to the lads in blue.  Where was the offense going to be coming from down the stretch? The lone goal came from Croatia, as new striker Nikica Jelavic banged it home.  Now, the Merseyside Derby awaits.  Time to make John Henry cry and let Rived\rpool see red.  In the top ten, two points from 7th place.  C'mon Toffees, keep it going!
    • Jekyll and Hyde describes this team.  They've proven they can beat bad teams at home.  Then they go and lay and egg on the road against Philadelphia with a chance to tie for first in the Atlantic.  Last night they just plain destroyed Portland.  How was that the same team that was run off the court by Philly? I expected Andrew Toney to come off the bench and start firing threes for Philly it was such a classic beat-down.  Then to be without a bunch of bigs due to injuries, the Celtics turn around and run Portland outta the building .Sasha Pavlovic leading a 16-0 run in the second quarter? Is Portland that bad? 
    • The other big deal is the impending trade deadline.  Does General Manager Danny Ainge blow it all up?  More and more it seems to be clear that the most likely course of action is going to be chasing free agents this off-season. 
  • RED SOX:
    • Opening day just around the corner....whoo-hoo!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saturday Morning Coffee

  • As a baseball traditionalist (I'm still raging against the designated hitter which went into effect in the American League before I was born) I am hardly jumping for joy over the wild card adding another team, but I do like the idea of the play-in game.  A one game playoff in baseball is hard to beat for drama (and TV ratings!).  As Jayson Stark at ESPN said, "It's March Madness with bats and balls". 
    • Personally, I would have two leagues, no divisions, and have the two teams with the most wins in each league play in the World Series like they did from 1903 to 1968 (but I am not so naive to know that it will NEVER EVER EVER happen and accept it).  It's great news for the 2012 Red Sox because Tampa Bay and New York are both looking like 90+ win teams again this year.  
  • New Orleans Saints coaches placing bounties on opposing players?  It is just like "Spygate"--everyone did it, but when one team gets caught publicly, everyone is aghast, just SHOCKED and DISMAYED that this behavior is going on.  Like in Casablanca, Major Renault says "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! " and then his winnings are handed to him.  
    • This is as shocking to me as baseball players taking steroids in the 90s.  Yawn.  Give me more mock drafts and free agency rumors, please. 
  • It was nice to see the Celtics beating on the dregs of the NBA, if only to know that this team is .500/barely playoff team and not a hopeless cause destined for a high draft pick in the lottery....wait, this sucks. I've changed my mind. Trade everyone, Danny.  This team is going to get swept out of the playoffs in the first round by Miami or Chicago. Blow it up, get some young players in here and rebuild ASAP.
    • Of course, it's easy to look a the Celtics game last night against the Nets and think "If they click like this, they could put a scare in some teams in the playoffs".  Of course, a 20-10 game from KG and Paul Pierce 10 of 14 from the field are aberrations, not a normal night anymore.  
  • Everton versus QPR this afternoon on Fox Soccer at 5pm. Have to go on "electronic lockdown" so I catch the match semi-live (aka, I don't know what the final score was). The Toffees have moved from relegation fodder and possibly costing David Moyes his job in the first months of the season up to 10th place and only 6 points behind Liverpool (because what really could be more important than beating 'pool?).  The Toffees have more talent than Sunderland and Norwich City and should pass them soon.  Tuesday, 3/13 is the Merseyside versus Liverpool: The Blue wave is peaking in time for the Derby.  Crank up your favorite Beatles tunes and give John Henry, NESN, and his Liverpool boys the working man's salute!
    • Truthfully, there is concern with the Toffees having lost two key cogs recently with Landon Donovan heading back to the states and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov back to Russia.  Losing play-makers always hurts, and QPR should be a good chance to get the offense back in rhythm.  
  • Really liking the trades made by the Bruins at the deadline.  Kept the key prospects like Tuuka Rask and Dougie Hamilton; gave up nothing on the active roster; and some plugs in the line-up for some injured pieces in Boston until the playoffs (and hopefully full health).
    • Brian Rolston can take the empty void left by Mark Recchi's retirement as the veteran forward.  This team is still remarkably young and having a veteran on the bench and in the locker room always helps out for the final stretch and in the playoffs. Recchi was invaluable the last two years, and even if Rolston doesn't have much for the ice, he should be a lift in the clubhouse.
    • Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon are steady, stay-at-home, gritty defensemen.  In the Claude Julian system, the team can never get enough of these guys.  The Bruins need to win close games in the playoffs.  These guys can help.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Spare Neurons

Randomizing with everything popping around in my head...

  • RED SOX:
    • Jason Varitek retired. Funny, he stopped earning his check four years ago...about time he stopped getting paid by the Red Sox. 
      • His "Captaincy" last September was a joke.  He cost Terry Francona his job.  his being gone makes the clubhouse shake-up actually a possibility.
      • In a word, over-rated. 
    • Ditto for Tim "Shakey-Wakey" Wakefield. Get out. Go now. Go.
      • Wakefield was the most celebrated 5th starter since DIck "The Dragon" Drago. Seriously, he was he definition of average. His greatest contribution according to the WEEIdiots was always his heroic "saving the bullpen in game 3 of the ALCS against the Yankees."
        • Stats, bitches. In a game the Sox lost 19-8, he gave up 5 runs in 3.1 innings.  If he really "saved the pen", why did Mike Myers throw 2 innings to close out the blowout? It was still close when he came in the game.  He sucked. He got bombed. Let's not tie a pretty bow around a stinker of a game. 
      • Great job and kudos to the Red Sox for getting these two off the roster. They needed to go YEARS ago. Sentimentality, as the Celtics know too well, leads only to losing.
    • Watching the Draft Combine on NFL Network...dreams do come true.
    • Ocho must go. 'Nuff said.
    • Since the Patriots are $25 million under the cap, have Tom Brady's contract to twiddle with to bring down the cap further with some creative bonuses and the like, I see NO REASON not to make a huge push for Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace. At worst, your number one opponent has to pay him more than they want to. At best, only the best young wide receiver in football (name me someone better. All around: deep, short, outside the numbers, across the middle, blocking--this guy gets it, and is only 25) is catching passes from Tom Brady in the Red, White, and Blue.
      • And no, Wes Welker is going nowhere. He is a no-brainer to keep at the franchise tag of $9.4 million. A new long-term deal should be easy.
    • Thanks for the memories, Kevin Faulk. Buh-bye. See ya on CSNNE with Troy Brown and Ty Law.
    • No panic, hockey-fans, no panic.  Team added depth, no Kaberle deals to screw things up, and its time to get healthy, get their heads on right, and get ready to peak in the playoffs.
    • Nathan Horton is a huge loss.  Just saying it for the record.
    • Kinda disappointed that nothing happened with the $5 million available for injury exception for Mark Savard.  That said, if the deal is not there, don't force it. Don't make a mistake to save face in the media.  Good patience, Cam and Peter. 
    • I don't throw out huge props to the Hollywood Sports Guy (f.k.a. Boston Sports Guy, King of all Sports Bloggers) but this article hit all the key points necessary (the man can still write basketball): rip on Glenn Ordway; rip on Tommy Heinsohn; and rip the Celtics.  Aces. Check it here:  
    • Best line in the article [Tommy Heinsohn at the (fake) Danny Ainge roast (just read the damned article already!)]:  
      • Heinsohn: "Absolutely! Greg Stiemsma reminds me of a guy I used to play with … a guy by the name of William Felton Russell! Same timing on his blocks. It's EERIE! 

Botched it again!

Red Sox ownership gaffes bring me back to my joyous childhood when the "brain-trust" of Jean Yawkey, John Harrington, Buddy Leroux, and Haywood Sullivan traded away Freddy Lynn, let Carlton Fisk leave over mailing a contract late (seriously!), signing washed-up veterans, and making every bad situation ten times worse through their idiocy.  Now, like in the past, I can watch this ownership group flounder about and make bad situations look like mini-disasters.

  • Theo Epstein compensation
    • The wrong Chris Carpenter? Really.  I'm so unimpressed that I cannot even think rationally about the Red Sox holding the Cubs over the barrel where Epstein so desperately wanted to leave and the Cubs HAD to buckle to their demands to save face and the ownership group says "Nah, just go. We'll sort it out later." Seriously? Was Larry Lucchino tripping balls at White Castle with Neil Patrick Harris and Harold and Kumar for two weeks? Instead of a legitimate prospect the Sox get another one dimensional fastball pitcher who can't keep from walking too many undisciplined minor-league hitters.
  • Terry Francona exit
    • So wrong in so many ways.  The allegations of pain killer use was a cheap shot. Say he lost the clubhouse. Say he let the inmates run the asylum (in truth, he gave Jason Varitek too much responsibility to police the players. As Carl Crawford made so clear during the September collapse when he responded to the media to "ask the Captain" meant no response in any meaningful way.).  But never, ever resort to kicking a ex-manager when he's down and out the door.  What a low-class, typical Red Sox move.
  • Hiring debacle
    • The next step after dumping Francona was the circus that led to hiring Bobby Valentine. Actually, it was in the middle of the Theo bologna that the Sox marched in candidates and contradicted themselves left and right.  We want an up -and-coming managerial prospect; we want a moneyball guy; we want an experienced professional manager; we want a young guy to grow into the job; we want someone somewhere but we have no clue who was more appropriate.   Finally settling on Bobby Valentine seemed like the ultimate concession to having too many cooks in the kitchen. It became stunningly obvious that new General Manager Ben Cherington was hardly in charge, and in truth was likely fetching Larry Lucchino's coffee. His only decision making power was to choose between Dunkin and Starbucks.  
  • Watching the Yankees engine run smoothly
    • In stark contrast to the Sox Screw-ups, the Steinbrenner Clan ran the Yankees like a well-oiled machine this off-season.  No splashy, stupid signings. No trading of their massive supply of pitching prospects for a washed-up starter.  Instead, the Yankees stayed quiet and positioned themselves to make another pennant run in stark contrast to the Red Sox who ran around like headless chickens.  One franchise was classy, in control, had a plan, and stayed cool  The other was the Red Sox.

With all that said, the Red Sox still have a decent team.  Sure, there's no shortstop, no right fielder, injury-prone pitchers, and absolutely zero depth, but it could be worse: they could be the Celtics! New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

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