Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Coffee Break

by Hal Bent, BostonSportPage.com

Sunday mornings are all about relaxing, drinking coffee, and (today) watching the Olympics (even if it is only cycling) on NBC while waiting for the USA Men's Basketball team inexplicably on Versus or NBC SportsNet or whatever they call it.  With that, let's look at what's going on in Boston Sports with a run-through the major sports teams in town:

BOSTON RED SOX:
Well, they won a game, at least. The Red Sox got a much needed win against the Bronx Bombers last night, with Jon Lester showcasing his ineffectiveness with his on-off alternating by inning, by batter, by pitch.  Whatever is wrong with Jon Lester, it is not physical.  He is throwing all the same pitches he's highlighted the past 5 years in Boston, but something--be it mental or mechanical--is holding the lefty back this year.

Granted, with Vicente Padilla blowing the game by giving up a dinger to his arch-nemesis, Mark Teixeira, in the eighth inning, an evening where the Sox actually got to Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia appeared to be going to waste.  Enter the unlikely hero, Pedro Ciriaco, whose fly-out to center field turned into a triple after being comically  misplayed by Curtis Granderson (feel free to tweak any Yankees fans you know by stating: Austin Jackson would have caught it).  With that, Andrew Miller vultures a victory and Alfredo Aceves sweated through the save (not so much how he pitched, but did you see him sweating like a fat man in a steam bath? Yikes).

So at long last, the Sox get an uneven win in this uneven season, desperately clawing their way a game closer to .500.  Of course, it would not be the Red Sox without even more controversy, as Carl Crawford was left on the bench with nary an explanation, leading to more hurt feelings in this summer of shame. Bobby Valentine tried to play it off as a rest-day with a ridiculous comment about a "four-day program", instead of having the stones to simply say: "Carl Crawford is not going to play against tough lefties." From the look of the game, Valentine should have benched Jacoby Ellsbury as well, as he was looking quite over-matched against big CC.

Tonight, the Red Sox have the presence of Terry Francona in the ESPN booth looking over their shoulder and reminding the players that their horrid play last September is why Bobby Valentine is in the dugout and not holding the ESPN microphone.  Maybe they can take inspiration from that and really tank the second-half and get Valentine out sooner rather than later.  Or maybe the summer of mediocrity will linger on into fall.  Red Sox Fever, catch it...

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PATRIOTS:

Injuries are always the key news at this time of training camp.  Reading reviews about how Chandler Jones did in a one-on-one match-up in a drill really is not big news.  That rookie 7th round pick cornerback Alfonzo Dennard did  not practice due to a hamstring injury, that is news.  That Rob Gronkowski dropped two passes at practice is not new. That veteran linebacker Tracy White did not finish practice, that is news. That Brandon Lloyd is catching everything in sight is not really news.  That rookies Jeremy Ebert and Nate Ebner have not found the field due to injury, that is news. Injuries are always the big news of training camp.

While offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Logan Mankins are hardly on the roster bubble, there are many players (such as Dennard, White, Ebert, and Ebner) who need to be on the field to show the coaches they have what it takes to make the 53-man roster. As Bill Parcells famously said, "You don't make the team in the trainer's room."  Defensive lineman Myron Pryor, tight end Daniel Fells, and offensive linemen Nick McDonald and rookie Markus Zusevics need to open eyes just to make the team.  None of them has a job locked up in any way, shape, or form. Pedaling the stationary bike on the sideline never won anyone a job.

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CELTICS:

The Celtics roster is set; for this year and next.  With only three players on a one year deal (veteran's minimum contracts for Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling, and Jason Collins), the Celtics heavy lifting on the roster is over, pending future injuries. The next stage is to get everyone healthy, into a regular training camp, and ready to go against Ray Allen and the Miami Heat to kick off the NBA season.  General Manager Danny Ainge did a great job of rebuilding (or re-loading may be more appropriate) the team this off-season. Bringing back Kevin Garnett was easily the most important move, as without him the entire off-season is a matter of blowing up the team and starting over from scratch.   Once that domino fell into place, it was a matter of bringing back everyone they wanted short of Ray Allen, and getting two guards to replace Allen and provide additional scoring from the bench. While another big man would be nice, they don't grow on trees and definitely not for small money (see the contract Mr. Kim Kardashian Kris Humphries picked up this off-season).

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BRUINS:

Go away, Tim Thomas. Just shut your mouth and go away.

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