Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Five Burning Boston Sports Topics

Five minutes free for me; Five burning topics around Boston Sports for you:


1. Boston Celtics Future Resting on Ping Pong Balls (Again!), but There is Still a Chance for Love!
The Boston Celtics enter Tuesday night with a lot of hope and just a bit of worry.  The Celtics 2013-14 season was one to forget, but all those hideous losses (and unfortunate wins) have left the Celtics with just the fourth worst record and only a ten percent chance of the first pick.  To get in the top three, it is a 33% chance, which hardly inspires confidence. But top three gets one of the top prospects like Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kansas’s Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins.


The Celtics fan base’s hopes have been buoyed by the rumors of a potential trade with Minnesota to obtain star power forward Kevin Love.  Maybe the team still has hope with a pick outside of the top three, but as of today the Timberwolves seem to be playing the “we’re not trading Love” card, which of course is ludicrous. Love reportedly wants to go to a winner if traded, but with no veto rights he goes where he is traded. The good news is that few can match the Celtics for draft pick trade capital.


For the Celtics, the best bet may be to trade the pick. Len Bias in 1986, Chauncey Billups instead of Tim Duncan in 1997, and Jeff Green instead of Kevin Durant in 2007 highlight three decades of terrible luck in the lottery.  Trading their lottery pick and their other first round pick (the Celtics have the #17 overall pick courtesy of Brooklyn) may be the best move in they drop out of the top three. Here’s hoping the Celtics gets some Love.
2. Boston Red Sox Nation Hits the Panic Button
It just took a weekend series sweep by the Detroit Tigers to get the panic button lit up on Lansdowne Street. Yes, Clay Buchholz has been mediocre and Jake Peavy’s hot start dissipated in a hurry, but the Sox are far from out of the AL East race. Baltimore, New York, and Toronto are bunched up at the top but none of the three have impressed in 2014.


Baltimore still has questions about their pitching staff as Ubaldo Jimenez has struggled mightily and Tommy Hunter is not a closer for a legitimate contender. Toronto has ridden an insane run by Mark Buehrle that should wind down by June and behind him is a flawed staff.  Finally, the Yankees are in danger of a major tailspin with just one more injury. Put it this way: the Yankees have ridden the hot starts of Yangervis Solarte, Brett Gardner at the plate and Masahiro Tanaka, Adam Warren, and Shawn Kelly on the mound.


A three game losing streak and three games out of first place is not time to panic, especially in mid-May. But the fans were not the only ones panicking, as the Sox front office answered the following question:


3. To Drew or Not to Drew, That is the Question
$4 million down the tubes (thanks Scott Boras!) and Stephen Drew is back in Boston.  Well, by June he should be in Boston, as Drew will likely start a stretch in the minors for a spell to get up to speed. Panic is in the air in the Fens.


Drew is an upgrade at shortstop the rest of the season, at least in the field, but Bogaerts is the long term answer in Boston and pulling him out after two months is counter-intuitive. Bogaerts needs to learn to play shortstop, not get shuttled to third base while Mr. Jenny Dell Will Middlebrooks is out injured.  Drew will help, but the Sox need more than him.  Mike Napoli has struggled, A.J. Pierzynski has been terrible, and take your pick in the outfield: they’ve all been horrible.


Instead of rebuilding, Boston appears to be reloading as they figure that they still have a shot to steal the AL East in 2014. Consider this as the first move, not the only move.


4: Xander Xanadu!
Personally, if I were Tom Werner. John Henry, or Larry Lucchino I would make it a policy that every time Xander Bogaerts comes to the plate at Fenway Park the scoreboard starts playing clips from Xanadu, the 1980 romantic musical fantasy film starring Olivia Newton-John.





Come on, I thought these guys were marketing geniuses! (OK, so it was an excuse to rock out some ELO...tell me I'm not the only one who hears this whenever I hear Xander's name.)


5. Law in the Hall
The New England Patriots added a new member to their Hall of Fame: cornerback Ty Law. It seems appropriate with cornerback Darrelle Revis coming aboard as the Patriots have spent almost a decade trying to find a replacement for Law.  Although he joined the Patriots in the Bill Parcells era, Law really thrived under head coach Pete Carroll (who, based on his success in Seattle, seems to have a solid grasp on finding and developing cornerbacks).


It was Law’s interception return in Super Bowl XXXVI for the first points of the game that first sparked hope that maybe, just maybe, the Patriots could win the game. He peaked with the 2003 Patriots defense which is often overlooked but historically one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.


For Law the Patriots Hall of Fame must have seemed far off when early in 2005 the Patriots released him due to his astronomical cap hit and he later signed with the rival New York Jets. After one season he was on to Kansas City for a couple years, back to the Jets, and then on to Denver.  


It was an acrimonious end (as seems all too common in the Belichick era) but for ten years he was the real face of the Patriots franchise and with Willie McGinest the backbone of a play-off and later Super Bowl champion caliber defense. Heck, with Law in the secondary do the Patriots lose to Jake freaking Plummer and the Broncos in the playoffs after the 2005 season? Does Peyton Manning put up almost 350 yards passing to bring the Colts back from a 21-6 deficit in the 2006 AFC Championship Game? Do the Giants convert on third-and-five on the David Tyree miracle catch? With Law on the field instead of Asante Samuel having the Eli Manning pass hit him between the numbers and David Tyree never gets his fifteen minutes of fame?

One could argue it was Ty Law who was the real glue on those Super Bowl teams.  So congratulations to Law for his induction in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Well deserved, #24.

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