It was not the burgers and dogs that did me in this weekend; it was the loaded nachos Monday night that put the capper on a long weekend. It was the best of times, but Tuesday morning creeping like a Monday was the worst of times.



OK, I am sick and tired of reading about how the Red Sox have no chance in October because of their pitching. Countless scribes have been hammering the keyboards to the tune of the 2004 Red Sox had the pitching and hitting balance that the Red Sox miss this season. Let us clear up one thing for all the starry-eyed folks who forget just where this team was in 2004: second place. In fact, at this point last season, the wild-card was far from a sure thing, and there were questions in the bullpen and starting rotation.

Pedro Martinez was an inconsistent ace in 2004 during the regular season, and as good as Schilling was, he was injured in the playoffs and his status was uncertain. Derek Lowe was relegated to mop-up man in the bullpen, Bronson Arroyo failed to pitch well for most of the playoffs, and Tim Wakefield, much like his knuckleball, was maddeningly inconsistent. This starting rotation scared no one in September or October 2004.

The bullpen was a little stronger than now, but Timlin and Embree were uncertain considering age and wear and tear thorough their excessive usage over the season. No one knew what they would get out of Lowe and/or Arroyo, and all anyone heard about was the dominant bullpen the Angels had and how the Yankees were unbeatable anyway since they had Mariano Rivera.

What is the big change? The Yankees, while weakened, are as dangerous as the Red Sox were last season. Cleveland is an exciting young team with a few good pitchers, Oakland and Anaheim/LA/California are still legitimate threats in the post-season, and Chicago is solid if unspectacular on offense and have a great starting five and inconsistent bullpen. There is no one head-and-shoulders above the competition this year, and whoever peaks in October will win the right to face the Cardinals in the World Series (it is amazing how one pitcher can make such a difference on a team. Without Chris Carpenter last season, they lacked that one true ace to shutdown a team and steal that first low-scoring in a series.)

The Red Sox this season still have very good starting pitching, or has no one been paying attention to the Sox and their big three of Wakefield, Matt Clement, and David Wells? Not for nothing, but those three have been consistent and good. Add in the regaining health of Curt Schilling, and I would wager on the Sox pitching staff sticking with the White Sox in the post-season. Also, add Arroyo to the pen, subtract Wade Miller, add Jon Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen as power arms in the bullpen to complement Mike Timlin, the improving Keith Foulke, specialists Chad Bradford and Mike Myers and the bullpen looks pretty good. The offense, of course, speaks for itself.

Time for the so-called pundits to take a breath and not get caught up listening to the blowhards on sports radio and the regular moron callers who call in for no reason other than to placate their need for any human conversation. A lot can happen, good or bad, in a month before the playoffs start.

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Yes, it is only the sixth of the month as I ride home on the train and crack the keys, but Murray Chass of the New York Times has dug up a winner. Former Red Sox security supervisor Charles Carroll can no longer root for the Red Sox because they dared to only present him, a part-time security worker, who got a free ride to St. Louis for the World Series and received, along with all the other part-time employees who worked less than 1,000 hours, a personally-engraved World Series watch instead of one of the five-hundred World Series rings. The link is:

No matter that hundreds are dead in the worst natural calamity in US history, thousands upon thousands have lost home, property, possessions, and more in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but Charles Carroll only got a personally-engraved World Series ring. Oh the humanity. The poor, suffering old fart! How could the Red Sox be so heartless?

I guess these tragedies just show that as much as we get caught-up in and invest so much personal energy in these games, there is so much to be thankful for and we need to step back, tell our loved ones how much they mean to us, and thank God that we have a roof over our heads, loved ones nearby, and a future with a semblance of certainty.

Of course, Moron of the Month Charles Carroll, aka Gollum, is so obsessed with the ring right now that he does not see how his actions appear to the world at large. Cursed Bagginses, I mean the Red Sox, are the object of his narrow view of the world as he focuses his energy onto this one material object that he was denied. People in the world are worried sick about their loved ones, their property, their possessions, their pets, their infirmed, their sick, their life as they once knew it, but Charles Carroll cannot see beyond the end of his own nose as he threatens the Red Sox with curses and babbles about how he is very upset, infuriated and devastated.

Hey Moron of the Month, try being a former resident of Louisiana before you throw around words like devastated.

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Just a note about the disaster in the New Orleans area, as I know not much has been said about it in the blog: One, the devastation is so horrible and the poor people affected are in such a tragic site that I am overloaded by the coverage and the guilt is so strong that I dare not watch too much of it. Second, I think baseball, football, and all the other sports have a place as, like in the case of 9/11, people need the distraction. Finally, God Bless the American Red Cross and other charities and individuals who have made such an effort to help the people in the affected area. These catastrophes are always in Sri Lanka, or somewhere thousands of miles away with foreign people, not in our backyard as they turn parts of the country into third-world nation status. Again, God Bless to all who helped and picked up the slack because the national government and politicians dropped the ball big time. Troops can be mobilized to Iraq overnight, but it takes four days to get to Louisiana? I am sick to my stomach at the thought.

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Crank up the Young Bocephus, baby. Football season is here and I am ready! Unlike the Boston Red Sox owned Boston Globe or the financially strapped Boston Herald, BostonSportPage is never lacking in Patriots coverage. With my most loyal reader, Greg Cabana, hungering for all things Patriots, I pledge not to leave the best sports franchise of the century bereft of proper attention and coverage.

For whatever reason, the Patriots seem to be sneaking up on the general sporting public this year. Sure, part of it is Bill Belichick and his limited media access ways (as compared to say, Jon Gruden in Tampa who cannot get enough of the camera on him and never met a microphone he did not like), or perhaps that the team as built by Belichick and Scott Pioli appears to be a fine-tuned machine humming along at full speed for the second straight season.

I am sure the media misses the days of the Lisa Olsen controversy, Victor Kiam and his idiotic statements, Irving Fryer and Hart Lee Dykes crashing cars on their way home from the Foxy Lady, and quarterback controversies between Steve Grogan and Tony Eason. Ahh, the bad old days: The snowplow game; Squish the Fish; Buried by the Bears; Cocaine scandals; power plays in the front office; coaches fired for firing the defensive coordinator only to have the owner fire the coach and replace him with the defensive coordinator (who then went 1-15 and got fired); owners bankrupted by allowing their son to finance a Michael Jackson tour; the same son getting beat up in the tunnel following a game after foolishly taunting two of the toughest men in football at the time: Howie Long and Matt Millen; the Tuna and Drew show coming to save the day; the Tuna and the late Will McDonough conspiring against Bob Kraft; the Border Wars with the Jets; the Pete Carroll era (or error, as some would say); and the defection of Little Bill from Big Bill (funny how those roles are now reversed). Yes, the Patriots history is full of mistakes and missteps that made for great theatre, but the teams were inevitably not quite good enough.

The Patriots have a tough draw for the opening game against the Raiders, and I plan to have a bit more analysis in the next posting as we rev up for Thursday night against Randy Moss and the Raiders. The Pats may actually drop this game, but to paraphrase Bill Belichick: the game that reveals the least about a team is the first. After the Buffalo debacle with Lawyer Milloy two years ago, it is easy to see how that proved true.

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