Big news for the three other big teams in the Boston area. The Patriots opened training camp last week. Tedy Bruschi did not report due to his medical problems, Ted Johnson decided to retire, which I kind of saw coming. Well, I at least thought he wouldn't be a full time player anymore. Rodney Harrison got a contract extension. Richard Seymour lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $24,000 in fines for missing a few days of camp, but made up for it with a contract worth $1.1 million more this season. The day I went down to Foxborough for camp, Doug Flutie stood right next to Rohan Davey. I had to laugh. I think Vince Wilfork will accidently eat Doug if he isn't careful.
The Pats have a few questions to answer. Who will start at inside linebacker? How will Belichick do as an offensive coordinator? How will Eric Mangini do as defensive coordinator? Will the secondary be as stifling and game changing without Ty Law?
I think the inside linebacker situation isn't a huge deal. They do play an important role, particularly against the run with the nose tackle only able to stop one of the middle three offensive linemen. The outside linebacking spot seems to have the most depth. McGinist, Colvin, and Vrabel all could start and see alot of time. I think the Pats might put Vrabel in at ILB. He's athletic and has already demonstrated a willingness to play multiple positions and an ability to adapt very well to new challenges. Apart from Vrabel, the Pats have ana bundance of linebackers. Overrall, there are 16 linebackers at camp. Guys like Larry Izzo and Matt Chatham, each of whom have made big plays in the past for us, will probably see alot of time at ILB. Then there's a "defensive tackle" like Dan Klecko who, like Vrabel, has been willing to take snaps at any position. Guys like Banta-Cain and Davis should also fit in decently and play special teams alot.
The coordinator shakeup is indicative of how good the Patriots have been. The fact that Croenell and Weiss went to two of the most historic football teams in the country says alot. The Bears have been around forever and Notre Dame is the most storied college football team in the land. I think the veteran leadership on both sides of the ball will help out quite a bit in the transition. Guys like Brady, Branch, Brown, Dillon, Fauria, and the fellas on the O-Line know what to do and can help out younger players like Ben Watson. On the other side of the ball we still have McGinist, Harrison, Seymour, and Poole combined with younger studs and potential studs like Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Randall Gay, Asante Samuel, and Vince Wilfork. Mangini knows his stuff when it comes to the secondary. Despite all the injuries to the defensive backfield last season, he was able to give the Pats a chance at a 14-2 season and another Super Bowl victory. The secondary will not be a problem.
The Celtics just made a big move to get some cap room and draft picks for Antoine Walker. Although Walker seemed to energize this team when he returned last season, the prospect of losing him for nothing to free agency was somewhat ominous. The deal itself appears to be incredibly complicated involving 7 teams and as many as 12 players. In the deal, the Cs seem to be getting a pair of 2nd round picks from the Heat, the rights to Albert Morales who is currently playing in Europe, Curtis Borchadt from the Jazz, Qyntel Woods from the Heat, and some cash from Miami that should cover Borchadt and Wodds' contracts. The Celtics will also be getting a trade exception of $5.4 million from the cap which will give them some breathing room in the free agency market. Losing Antoine sucks, but this team is not going to win as it is currently assembled. The Celtics have been drafting very well the past years so the more picks they get, the better.
The Bruins re-signed RW Glen Murray today to a 4 year deal. They also signed Shawn McEachern and Dave Scatchard. The Bs also traded for Brad Isbister from Edmonton for a late pick in the 2006 draft. The Bruins drafted D Matt Lashoff of the Ontario hockey League with their 1st round pick in the entry draft a few days ago. They got Czech C Petr Kalus in the 2nd, Finnish LW Mikko Lehtonen in the 3rd, a defenseman and forward in the 4th, and three more forwards in the late rounds.
The Bruins have yet to re-sign free agents Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov. There are rumors the Bruins are trying to deal Thornton, which wouldn't be a terrible idea but would still hurt the team unless they found a suitable replacement. That replacement might be free agent Center Mike Modano who has apparently been an interest of the Bruins lately.
The Bruins are still trying to re-sign Defenseman Sergei Gonchar and if that falls through, they may reacquire Bryan Berard.
The NHL has entered a new era and I think the Bruins will be poised to succeed in it. They know how to get value from players for little money, they know VERY WELL how to develop players (See: Thornton, Murray, Samsonov, Bergeron), and they've got alot of wiggling room in terms of players because so many are free agents in one way shape or form. It should be a good time up on Causeway Street this winter.
The Bruins begin their preseason schedule with an itnrasquad game at BU's new Agganis Arena on September 16. The Bruins will play in 8 different venues across the northeastern US and Canada.
The NHL will have a more unbalanced schedule this season with 8 games against each divisional opponent, and 32 of the 82 games within the division. This means 8 games with Montreal instead of 4 which should be good for the rivalry because familiartiy breeds discontent. The Bruins will start the 2005-06 regular season on October 5th at the Garden against Montreal. I can't wait for NHL hockey to come back.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Way back in April and May, when the Orioles were dominating the AL East, the morons on ESPN and Fox Sports were proclaiming that Baltimore was "the real thing." Meanwhile, fans in Boston and New York, who know what the real thing is, looked at Baltimore and anticipated a collapse. This moment has come. Baltimore has lost 6 straight, has fallen 3 games below .500 and is 8.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. They're 7th for the AL Wild Card, 8 games behind Oakland.
So what went wrong in Baltimore? This isn't the right question. The right question is, what stopped going right in Baltimore? Their lack of pitching was exposed. Their best player in April returned to his mediocre ways. Their lack of bullpen depth was exposed. Sammy Sosa has sucked since steroid testing was introduced. Palmeiro hasn't sucked, but that's because he's juiced.
A few weeks ago, Palmeiro was on top of the baseball world for perhaps the first time in his career. He had been quietly amassing statistics in Texas then in Baltimore. He was a member of the exclusive 500 HR/3,000 Hit club. He looked to be on his way to 600 HRs before he retired. Instead, he's tested positive for steroids. I must say, I kind of saw it coming.
It was really a matter of time before one of the big sluggers tested positive. Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro. One of them has got to still be on it. It just happens to be the guy who lied to Congress about it. For as much crap as McGwire got for his BS, he was blatantly avoiding the truth. Palmeiro, on the other hand, flat out lied. In my opinion, he should be banned from baseball and is lucky to be getting only a 10 "Day" suspension, not even 10 games.