Friday, February 29, 2008


39-0. That was the combined score of yesterday's games against Boston College and Northeastern. 39-0. I know it's the World Series Champions against two mediocre college teams, but 39-0 in two games is still something to talk about, at least for a little bit.

Let's start with the 24-0 pounding BC took. This was one of the most dominating wins over BC that I can remember. The Eagles had 1 hit, and 0 walks. That hit was a single. They were also erased by strikeout 10 times.

Josh Beckett got the start against BC. He had 2 perfect innings of work, striking out 4. Kyle Snyder took over and pitched 2 more no-hit innings. Not surprisingly, Javier Lopez was the one who blew the no-hitter, allowing a single to Eric Campbell.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 2 with a walk, and a run. Dustin Pedroia went 1 for 2 with a two run double. David Ortiz was also 1 for 2 with an RBI double. Mike Lowell went 0 for 1 with a walk. Bobby Kielty went 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI. Brandon Moss went 3 for 3 with 3 RBI.

The most impressive performance may have been by BC starting pitcher Ted Ratliff. He retired Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ortiz in a row in his sole inning of work. But apart from that, there really wasn't much magic from the Boston College side.

Although Northeastern fared slightly better than BC, only losing 15-0, they did allow a run in every single inning.

Up and coming prospect Justin Masterson started for the Sox, going 2 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit, and striking 1 man out. Of the 17 pitches he threw, 12 were strikes. Craig Hansen took over in the 3rd, also allowing a hit, but striking out a pair in his inning of work.

Coco Crisp went 1 for 1 with a double and a walk at the leadoff spot. Alex Cora had a 2 run double. JD Drew went 1 for 2 with a double. Manny walked in both of his plate appearances. Jed Lowrie went 1 for 2 with a walk and a pair of runs scored.

Doug Mirabelli was 0 for 2 with a strikeout. How can a Major Leaguer strikeout against a kid from Northeastern?

The Sox go across town to face the Twins to open Grapefruit League play, as well as the first round of the Fort Myers' Mayors' Cup. The game will be on NESN tonight.

Boston College Athletic Department Site

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Steven Senne


The Penguins came into Boston last night riding a hot streak, and sporting newly acquired talent like Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. But the Bruins, who made no deadline moves, are also on a hot streak.

Marco Sturm opened the game up with a pair of first period goals. Chara scored early in the 2nd to make it 3-0. Ty Conklin was pulled out of net and the game was all but over only half-way through. Axelsson scored with about 4:00 left in the 2nd to make it 4-0.

The Penguins slipped one past Thomas, but it was far too little, far too late. David Krejci tipped in a late goal for his 2nd career score, and to make it a 5-1 game.

The Bruins are tearing through teams. They've won 5 in a row. They pummeled two of the best teams in the Conference (Pittsburgh and Ottawa) by a combined score of 9-1. Despite the hot streak, the B's are still in the middle of a log jam in the standings. They're only 6 points behind New Jersey for the top playoff seed, but there are 5 teams ahead of them. Ottawa is only up 4 points on the Bruins, but they still find themselves in 3rd place in the division. The 9th place Sabres are only 3 points behind the Bruins.

The Thrashers come to town on Saturday. If the Bruins get a win, they will match their point total from last season (76) in 18 fewer games.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa


Tedy Bruschi will be back for his 13th season. He and the Patriots agreed to terms on a multi-year contract that will keep #54 in Foxborough and the NFL for another season.

This is good news, but not great news. Bruschi turns 35 in June, and although he led the team in tackles with 99 last year, he is no longer the playmaker he used to be. Back in the day (4 or 5 years ago), he was the guy who'd come out of nowhere to make the big interception, or the game changing sack, or the 4th and 1 stop. He's still a steady and solid linebacker, but in a 3-4, the linebackers are the ones who have to make the big plays.

But this does answer one of the many questions facing the Patriots this off-season. And if Bruschi is paired with a young inside linebacker, he can set a great example and help mold young talent into a true Patriot.


Thursday, February 28, 2008


Former Patriot Pro-Bowler and Hall of Fame candidate Ty Law has reportedly been released by the Kansas City Chiefs. Law is 34, and the Chiefs are trying to get younger.

Now this isn't the same Ty Law that left New England after Super Bowl XXXIX. He only had two picks last year with the Chiefs. But he's a smart player, and he knows the system here in New England.

If the cap number is right, I think he'd be a great acquisition. Asante Samuel is leaving, Randall Gay is a free agent. The remaining DBs are young (Brandon Meriweather) or could use a veteran to help iron out a few rough edges (Ellis Hobbs).

What makes Ty Law one of my favorite players is that he owns Peyton Manning. He had 5 post-season interceptions off Manning, an NFL record for the most picks by one player of another. He anticipates exactly what Manning is going to do, and runs the route better than the receiver.

But in order to come here, Ty would have to swallow some pride. The Patriots cut him in 2005, albeit for salary cap reasons. And he'd have to take a serious pay cut, because I can't see Belichick breaking the bank for a 34 year old cornerback.

And I have heard unsubstantiated speculation and 3rd person rumors that Ty Law was spotted at a Boston area restaurant recently. But he didn't "officially" get released until yesterday, so who knows why he was in Massachusetts.

Kansas City Star
Some Guy


Throughout Red Sox history, left field has been the most prestigious position on the team. It's just coincidence, but a list of the best Red Sox of all-time is littered with left-fielders. Duffy Lewis from 1910 to 1917. Ted Williams from 1939 to 1960 (with a few years missed due to war). Carl Yastrzemski from 1961 to the 1970s. Jim Rice from 1975 to 1987. Mike Greenwell from 1988 to 1995. Then Manny Ramirez from 2001 to 2008.

This may be Manny's last year with the Red Sox. He's turning 36 in May (unbelievable, right?), he's in the last year of his $160M contract, and quite frankly his production dipped in 2007.

Manny's average (.296) and OBP (.388) were fine last year, but his slugging was down. Way down. His .493 slugging percentage was by far his lowest since becoming a full-time player. That .493 is exactly .100 lower than his career slugging percentage of .593.

What caused this fall in slugging? A lack of homeruns. Manny only hit 20. He hit 17 his rookie season (in 193 fewer ABs). Since then, he hadn't hit fewer than 26. And since 1998, he hadn't hit fewer than 33.

Manny didn't win a Silver Slugger for outfielder in 2007. The last time he didn't win one was 1998. He also wasn't in the top 20 of MVP voting for the first time since 1997.

But then all of a sudden, he got his stroke back in the playoffs. He had 4 homeruns, 16 RBI, a .348 average (including .409 in the ALCS), a .516 OBP, and slugged .739.

What should we expect from Manny this year? He'll miss some time due to injury, real or exaggerated. But not much time. And I don't think his homerun hitting will return to him. But he can still be an extremely productive player. With Youkilis and Ortiz in front of him, he'll have plenty of RBI opportunities. And if JD drew turns a corner, and Mike Lowell stays solid, they'll be people behind Manny to knock HIM in.

Manny should pass a few milestones in 2008. He's 10 homers shy of 500, which doesn't hold the same cache as it once had, but is still a milestone. He's 29 doubles shy of 500 for his career. With 31 or more HRs, he'll be in the top 15 all-time. 100 more RBI will get him into the top 20 of that category. And he's just 22 away from 1,000 career extra base hits.

Who will play when Manny sits or disapears to Florida for two weeks? Bobby Kielty looks like the backup outfielder for the year. If the Sox can't deal Coco, expect to see either him or Ellsbury patrolling left-field.

Brandon Moss had a nice little stint with the Sox last year and will be in AAA Pawtucket. If Manny hits the DL, look for Moss to be the call-up. For all the hype surrounding Ellsbury last year, people may not have noticed Moss's 7 hits in 25 at-bats. Or his .282 average in Pawtucket. These aren't earth shattering numbers, but at least Moss can be a fill-in for Manny just in case.

The Baseball Cube

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Colvin signed with the Patriots in 2003, and great things were expected of him. He was even the highest paid player on the team in terms of his cap number. It took him some time, but eventually he emerged as the player we expected him to be.

In 2006, he led the team in sacks with 8.5. And last year, he became a real playmaker. He only had 4 sacks, but he intercepted a ball, and forced three fumbles. Combined with fellow OLBs Mike Vrabel and Adalius Thomas, he was part of a solid trio.

Injury cut his season short, and it hurt the Pats. With him in the Super Bowl, the game may have been different. Had it been Rosevelt instead of Pierre Woods, who fell on that fumbled hand-off, perhaps he would have been able to hold onto the ball.

For the record, I'm not coming up with an excuse, I'm just trying to point out how valuable Colvin is.

But his cap number was way too high. Colvin would have counted for about $7.6 million in 2008, which is about 6.6% of the total cap (estimated to be at $116M for 2008). Considering the Patriots already have Vrabel and Adalius, Colvin was sacrificed in order to appease the salary cap gods.

This isn't good news for the Patriots, but it does have a silver lining. The Pats have more room to acquire new talent, and/or retain guys like Moss.

Also on the linebacker front, the Cowboys signed Zach Thomas to a $3M incentive laden deal.

The Pats also released Oscar Lua, who was drafted in the 7th round last year, then placed on injured reserve, and now he's gone.

The Boston Channel (WCVB)
USA Today


Somebody call Greg Easterbrook. Wake up the three employees of the Anderson Herald-Bulletin in Indiana. Get a hold of Arlen Specter. Send out e-mails to all the Patriot Haters out there. New England Patriot runningback Kevin Faulk got caught breaking a law!

Faulk was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Louisiana last Friday. He was at a Lil Wayne show, and was routinely searched by a sheriff's deputy on his way to a luxury box. The deputy discovered four blunts on his person. He was not arrested or detained, as the amount was deemed to be for "personal use"

This is the second time since the Super Bowl that a Patriot has been accused of possession. Defensive back Willie Andrews just plead not-guilty to possession in Lawrence a few days ago. I can just hear the Congressional accusations and investigations of a drug ring centered in Foxborough.

I'm not gonna criticize Faulk for smoking weed. I don't smoke weed, but I don't care who does or doesn't. It's not chemically addictive, nor is it dangerous. Drinking (which I do) and smoking cigarettes (which I also do) are much more harmful, in my opinion. And pot sure as hell doesn't give an athlete a competitive advantage.

But I am gonna criticize Faulk for getting caught. That's just stupid. Couldn't you give the blunts to one of your friends to hold? Or maybe split them up, instead of holding all four? Then once you see the deputies doing pat downs, don't you know to give up? When was the last time a cop in Louisiana didn't do an aggressively thorough pat down of a black man?

Chalk this one up to stupidity, which marijuana is known to contribute to. The NFL will probably come up with some sort of punishment or warning once this case rattles through the justice system.

Associated Press


This is the most interesting position to watch this off-season. Randy Moss is an unrestricted free agent. The Patriots passed on the Stallworth option, making him a free agent. Jabar Gaffney is also an unrestricted free agent.

The Patriots did not franchise Moss. Many speculated that this non-action would lead to a long-term deal with the receiver. It has not, at least not yet.

There is an unsubstantiated and flimsy rumor that the Cowboys are interested in Moss. To me that is like saying "Men are interested in breasts." Of course they're interested!

The rumor has Moss and the Cowboys talking about a possible deal. There's also another rumor that Moss agreed to let the Patriots match any offer he received from another team.

The fate of Randy Moss will be the most dramatic saga in Patriots history since Bob Kraft threatened a move to Hartford. There will be reports, rumors, speculations, stipulations, heresay, conjecture, and people making things up.

But I feel as though Moss likes it here, but can't resist snooping around to see what else is out there. It's got to be a contending team, with a good QB (this eliminates Dallas), and enough cap room for Moss to get a big deal.

The Patriots did not exercise their option on Stallworth. But that doesn't mean he won't be back. The team will try to work out a new deal with Donte. But Donte may want to test the waters of free agency. He won't get a big contract, but he may want to be a team's #1 or #2 receiver. In New England, he has become #3 behind Moss and Welker.

Wes Welker is thankfully here to stay. His 112 receptions, and 1,175 yards were a huge part of the Patriots going 16-0 in the regular season. Had the Giants not won the Super Bowl, Welker would have been my first choice for MVP of the game.

Jabar Gafney emerged in the 2006 post-season, and endured a year behind Moss, Stallworth, and Welker. He still contributed when called upon, catching 36 passes for 449 yards. He might want to go to a team that will have him higher on their depth charts. And you just know that some team will offer him a bloated contract thinking if he's paired with a mediocre QB he'll have the same kind of performance.

If Stallworth goes, I think Gafney's return is a sure bet. If Stallworth stays, Gafney might allowed to leave. But as far as #4 WRs go, Gaffney's probably the best in the NFL.

The Patriots recently passed on an option to keep Kelley Washington. His situation is similar to Stallworth's. A pickup would result in big bonus money and a big cap hit. The Pats have expressed an interest in reworking Washington's deal.

Washington didn't catch a pass, or have any offensive touches whatsoever. But he did contribute on special teams. He had 16 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a blocked punt. He was a big reason why Patriot opponents rarely had good field position after kickoffs.

Kelley may want to find a team that allows him to play more on offense. Then again, he seemed to relish his role on special teams. If certain players ahead of him leave (Moss, Stallworth, Gaffney), he becomes a much more integral part of the offense.

Former 2nd round pick Chad Jackson also didn't see an offensive snap in 2007. His injury woes kept him sidelined completely until November 8th. He still only saw limited time as the 6th receiver on the depth chart. He returned a few kicks, as well as a few punts.

We've yet to truly see what Jackson can do. When the Pats drafted him, he was an exciting prospect. The Pats traded up to draft him 36th overall in 2006. But a hamstring injury, followed by an ACL tear kept us from seeing as much as we wanted to see. Like Washington, Jackson moves up and fills in if other WRs leave.

Troy Brown has seen his last days in red, white, and blue. He's an unrestricted free agent, and will be 37 years old when the season starts. But he gave the Patriots 14 years of service. He's one of the few players to play in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX.

One possibility that might strike some as bizarre is Chad Johnson. Yes, Ocho Cinco himself. He's not happy in Cincinnati (who would be?). Belichick always talks about Johnson with as much of a smile as the Coach can muster. And we've seen "characters" come to New England and all of a sudden become monotoned, polished, and professional (See: Rodney Harisson, Corey Dillon, Randy Moss).

If I were a betting man, I'd set the odds of Johnson becoming a Patriot at 100 to 1. With the depth the team already has at the position, adding CJ would be slightly gratuitous. Plus the team would lose cap room to rebuild the defense. Plus he would be costly to trade for. Plus you'd have three different guys who are all used to being #1 receivers on the field at once.

But you never know what's going to happen. If Moss and Stallworth leave, the odds will change.

Here's what I think the Patriots depth chart at WR will look like for the 2008 season:

WR1: Randy Moss
WR2: Wes Welker
WR3: Jabar Gafney - re-signed
WR4: Kelley Washington - re-signed
WR5: Chad Jackson

After that, who knows.

Now here's the "If there were no salary cap and the Pats could afford to load up at one position" dream depth chart:

WR1: Randy Moss
WR2: Chad Johnson
WR3: Wes Welker
WR4: Donte Stallworth
WR5: Jabar Gaffney

Impossible, but it's fun to dream.

The Dallas Morning News

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Now just imagine that was Arlen Specter getting assaulted by Marco Sturm instead of Anton Volchenkov. Very refreshing.

The Bruins hadn't beaten a team by more than 3 goals until last night. The Senators came into Boston after losing 5-0 to Toronto on Monday. They were worn out, and off balance. But the Bruins played at full throttle, out-hustling Ottawa, and dominating the physical game.

Shawn Thornton scored 5:24 into the game with a simple mop up goal from the slot. Fifteen minutes of game-time later, David Krejci finally got his first NHL goal. This one was also one of those janitorial types goals, simply taking out the trash, so to speak.

Zdeno Chara, who won the Fastest Shot Competition a few weeks ago, fired a bullet from the top of the faceoff circle past Martin Gerber to make it a 3-0 game. Chara added the fourth goal with an empty net. It was also a short-handed goal. It was surprising, too. He was deep in the defensive zone, with three Senators nearby. But instead of just clearing, he lofted the puck out of the zone and toward the goal. It went in and the game ended 4-0. Chara's two goals gave him 43 points on the season, tying a career high.

Tim Thomas recorded his 2nd shutout of the year, and 6th career clean slate. He wasn't tested much, only facing 22 shots. But when Ottawa did get it on net, some of the saves were very challenging.

The Bruins are now a mere 6 points behind Ottawa for first place in the Northeast Division, and 5 points behind second place Montreal.

The Bruins host the Penguins on Thursday (I'll be there). Pittsburgh sits in 4th place in the East.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola


Ever since Nomar and Orlando Cabrera left, this position has been a problem for the Red Sox. Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Alex Cora, and now Julio Lugo have all failed to prove that they can be front line short-stops here.

Julio Lugo hit .237 last year, with an unfortunate OBP of .294. He did make some positive contributions. He knocked in 73 runs, and stole 33 bases in 39 attempts (84.6%). But he still fell very short of expectations.

Lugo also disappointed defensively. Although he's never been known for his glove (146 career errors, below average fielding percentage for his position), it merely amplified the angst Sox fans felt when his name was listed in the starting lineup.

Julio has had a year to adapt to a new environment. He'll be heavily scrutinized by both the fans and the organization at the start of the '08 season. I think he'll have a slightly better year than 2007, but that's not saying much. I think he'll hit .275, steal a few bases, and be a respectable 8th hitter in the Sox lineup.

The Sox have some insurance at this position. Alex Cora is a solid backup who won't be a black hole in the lineup.

Then there's Jed Lowrie. Jed's 23, and made two major steps last year. He started the season in AA Portland, after spending all of 2006 in A+ Wilmington. In 93 games with the SeaDogs, he hit .297 with an OBP of .410. He was promoted to AAA Pawtucket, where his average stayed about the same. In 40 games with the PawSox, Jed hit .300. His OBP dropped significantly to .356, as his walks decreased, but that's to be expected.

Jed will probably start the season in AA Portland, but could begin in Pawtucket if he has a good spring (or if Lugo has a bad one). He's a lock to get called up at some point this year, either as a temporary fill-in, or part of the 40 man September roster.

If Lugo doesn't perform, and Lowrie continues to hit near .300 in the minors, look for something to happen.

The Baseball Cube

Monday, February 25, 2008


Had the Sox made this deal three years ago, it would have been very exciting. But now it's as thrilling as acquiring David Wells.

The Red Sox signed former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal.

The word "insurance" is being used to describe this deal. To me, that word implies some sort of reliability. Sean Casey, for instance, was insurance, because we know what we'll get from him. Bartolo Colon is not insurance. At least, he isn't very good insurance.

Colon is listed at 250 pounds, which might be a tad generous. He's coming off two straight seasons plagued by injury. Last year, it was his right lat, then his right elbow. He's only made 28 starts in the past two years because of these injuries.

And it isn't as if Colon has pitched well in those 28 starts, either. In '06 and '07, he combined for a record of 7-13. His ERA was 5.90 the past two seasons. He averaged 5.6 innings per start.

Don't get me wrong, I like this signing. The Sox can't lose much in this deal. If Colon isn't healthy, or isn't effective; the Sox lose a little bit of money. If he is effective and somewhat healthy, then the Sox gain a solid 4th or 5th starter.

But don't think of this as insurance. Think of it more as hedging a bet. It's like flipping a coin twice, instead of once. You're more likely to get the coin to come up tails one time if you flip it twice. It's also like putting money on different numbers in roulette. It increases the likelihood of hitting.

Colon joins adds an upside down and right side up question mark to a rotation bursting with that punctuation. He, Tim Wakefield, and Curt Schilling are falling apart at the seems. Meanwhile, younger and healthier guys like Matsuzaka, Bucholz, and Lester have yet to prove that they're reliable starting pitchers.

Manny Ramirez summed up this deal perfectly. When asked about it, he said "I don't know. I'm not a pitching coach."

For the record, Johan Santana weighs 195 pounds.

Boston Herald


The Red Sox and Terry francona agreed to terms on a contract that would keep him in Red Sox uniform (remember, he now HAS to wear a uniform) until 2011 and perhaps beyond. The deal is worth $4M per season, and the Red Sox have the option to extend it two more years.

Francona, who has led the Sox to two World Series Championships, three playoff berths, and an AL East title, is arguably the best skipper in Red Sox history. The only other manager in team history to have two World Series rings is Billy Carrigan. If anybody who was around in 1915 wants to make an argument for Billy being the best Red Sox manager ever, go right ahead.

Francona's 279 wins as manager is good for 11th all-time in club history. If the Sox win 90 games this year (very likely), he will be 5th on the list.

Free pizza at Papa Gino's for everyone!


Saturday, February 23, 2008


The Patriots didn't do three things last week, and by not doing so, may have implied what will be done shortly.

Randy Moss was not franchised. To me, this means something good will happen. It seems as though Moss and the Patriots will be able to come to a multiple year deal for a decent price. The franchise tag is a great tool, but it only keeps a player for one year. It also tends to irritate that player so much so that they leave.

Speaking of franchise players leaving, Asante Samuel and the Patriots have not been able to come to terms. The Pro Bowl cornerback will go on the open market as a free agent. Some mediocre team will overpay for him, taking too large of a salary cap hit, then their fans will wonder why they are mediocre.

Samuel has become a top cornerback in the past two seasons. However, the money he will make will be too high of a price to retain his services.

The Patriots also didn't pick up Donte Stallworth's option. This was to be expected. The option would have kicked in a large signing bonus worth somewhere around $8M. That kind of hit on the salary cap would have been too much. So Stallworth is a free agent, but the Pats will probably try to get him to sign a new contract.


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Mike Lowell had one of the best seasons for a Red Sox third-baseman since Wade Boggs. He hit .324, which was good for 7th in the AL. He led the team in RBI with 120, which was also 5th in the AL. He hit .353 in the playoffs, and .400 in the World Series. He had 15 post-season RBI and was named World Series MVP.

Lowell was also very consistent last year. He only had one month in which he hit below .300, and only two months with fewer than 20 RBI.

One could very easily make the argument that he was the MVP of the team.

He'll be 34 this year, but there's no reason to think he'll be slowing down. He's found a niche in Boston. He hit .373 in Fenway last year, with 14 of his 21 HRs, and 73 of his 120 RBIs.

Lowell has also become a Yankee Killer. He hit .324 in the Bronx last year, and .382 against the Yankees. He had more RBIs against New York (18) than against any other team.

Although JD Drew was brought in to hit 5th, Lowell will probably start the season in that slot. He hit an appalling .448 as a #5 hitter last year. Lowell is clutch, too. He hit .356 with runners in scoring position.

If JD Drew hits this year, Lowell moves down nicely to 6th, making the top two thirds of the Red Sox order one of the fiercest in baseball.

Since coming to the Sox in 2006, he's hit 41 HRs, 84 doubles, and knocked in 200 runs.

He'll be spelled from time to time by Youkilis, and possibly Cora. With Sean Casey available to cover first, he'll probably get more time off than he has the past few seasons. Last year he played in every game but 6. He's played in 150+ games for four straight seasons. This year that may change, depending on the production Casey provides as a backup.

Mike Lowell is simply a championship calibre player. He's not a mega-star, but he does his job day in, day out. I hate using the term blue collar for athletes (Lowell made $9M last year), but Lowell's as close as it comes.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


If the Patriots offense had a weakness in 2007, it was the running game. It's hard to say that 1,849 yards is a weakness, but when compared to the passing game (4,865 yards), the fact that the running game wasn't amazing made it a relative weakness.

The Patriots averaged 115.6 yards per game, which was 13th in the NFL. The 4.1 yards per carry average was also good for 13th, and was the NFL average. The Pats scored 17 touchdowns on the ground, which was 6th best in the NFL. But that was only about 1/5 of their total points scored.

The bulk of the carries came from Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk. Combined, this trio had 1,484 yards on the ground, and 534 receiving yards.

It's difficult to say who was the feature back. Before getting injured, Sammy Morris had amassed 384 rushing yards in six games, rushing past the 100 mark against Cincinnati and Cleveland. Meanwhile, Maroney only had three 100 yard games all year.

But Maroney was also hampered by injuries. He missed a good deal of training camp, and missed weeks 4, 5, and 6.

One pattern with Maroney was a lack of consistency in his game. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry, but only had one game with an average of 4.0 to 4.9. He had four games below 3.5 yards per carry. He went from averaging 11.0 YPC against Miami to 2.4 YPC against the Giants. In the playoffs, he had two of his best games. Then he laid an egg in the Super Bowl, getting swamped behind the line numerous times.

Maroney, Morris, and Faulk will probably be the trio at runningback this year. Although Morris and Faulk are getting old for RBs (30 and 31, respectively), they're much more reliable than Maroney.

Laurence has sparks of greatness, but he needs the support of guys like Morris and Faulk to keep those sparks from going out. He has also yet to rush for 19 games in a year.

The Patriots do have the 7th overall pick in the draft, which means moving up to get Darren McFadden out of Arkansas isn't too tall of a task. If McFadden is available at 7th, look for the Patriots to take him simple because he's too talented to still be around so late.

One slim possibility of a player joining the team as a 4th tailback would be 230 pounder LaMont Jordan, former Jet, and now former Raider. Jordan's never taken off as a featured back, but he's bigger than average and just seems like a guy the Patriots might bring in and all of a sudden turn into a solid role player.

Heat Evans played "fullback" for the Pats in 2007, which is a position that doesn't exist very often in the Patriots scheme. He did well in this role, but with the Patriots offense being what it is, I can see them going without a fullback in 2008. If this happens, look for Heath's roster spot to be taken by a tailback.

The Patriots running game wasn't a weakness in 2007, but it wasn't much of a strength. A solid, consistent, and punishing run game can do wonders for an offense. Just the threat of it is enough to keep pass-rushing defensive linemen on their back feet. It wears down defensive linemen, linebackers, and DBs; especially if it is a balanced attack of power and finesse rushing. It spreads the field out. It can shorten a game. It sets up play-action.

The Patriots will once again be a pass-oriented team in 2008. But an improved running game will only help the passing game score more often, and more regularly. The Pats scored 586 points last year. With an improved running game, the sky is the limit. Maybe even 40 points a game.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The Patriots met with Zach Thomas yesterday, and have reportedly offered him a contract. The terms of the deal are undisclosed.

I think this would be a solid signing. But the Pats need to get some younger, more explosive players in the middle of their linebacker corps. Thomas and Vrabel can play inside, but we've seen that for both of them, playing on the outside leads to more big plays.

Reiss's Pieces on


2007 Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia starts his second full season at second base in 2008. Pedroia endured a rough start and wound up with some very solid numbers. He hit .317 (10th in the AL), with an OBP of .380. By the end of the year, he was the Sox leadoff hitter.

He had a dreadful month of April, going 10 for 55 (.182), and slugging a pathetic .236. But after that, he was great. He hit .333 for the rest of the season. Of his 50 RBI for the season, 48 came after April. Of his 48 extra basehits, 45 came after April. He even had a good post-season, hitting .283 in the playoffs with 10 RBI in 14 games. Although he didn't walk much, he didn't strike out much either. In fact, he was the 2nd hardest man in the AL to strikeout, only doing so once every 12.4 ABs.

Pedroia's recovery from a slow start was what impressed me the most. He raised his average over .130 points, and his slugging by more than .100. He took all the pressure that comes with being a rookie and playing Boston; and turned it into a great season.

With Ellsbury and Youkilis probably starting the season at the top of the batting order, Pedroia will probably hit 7th. This should get him some mop-up RBI opportunities from the big bats.

I wouldn't mind seeing him hit 9th, either. Although this would reduce his total at-bats, it would mean he'd be hitting in front of Ellsbury, Youkilis, and Ortiz. This might lead to more overall production. Pedroia is more of a place-setter than a power-based RBI hitter. If he hits in front of guys like Lugo and Varitek at the bottom of the order, his offensive contributions may be wasted.

Once again, Pedroia will be backed up by Alex Cora. Cora only hit .246 last year, but that's not too bad for the backup middle-infielder. There was a stretch early in the year when he was unstoppable. He was 24 for 76 (.316) in April and May, with 13 RBI.

Cora probably won't get much playing time at second base, especially with the short-leash Julio Lugo will be getting at short-stop.

Hopefully, the Red Sox have found a long-term, productive second baseman. That's something they haven't had in a long, long time.


Monday, February 18, 2008


The Dolphins released veteran middle linebacker Zach Thomas. The 12 year veteran turns 35 in September. Thomas has not publicly contemplated retiring, and seems to want to hook up to a contending team in an effort to win a Super Bowl ring.

Thomas only played in 5 games last season, missing time due to concussion and migraines. But he still had 52 tackles in those games. He's averaged 10.8 tackles per game over the last three seasons, which may be a product of Miami's suckiness (more offensive plays run by opponent, more running plays up the middle by opponent because they're ahead, mediocre defensive line, etc.).

When I first saw that Thomas was released, I instantly envisioned him in a Patriots uniform. He's experienced, he's a smart player, he's solid, he's consistent, and he'll probably be cheap.

One major concern is his age, of course. If Seau and/or Bruschi retire, we'd be essentially replacing them with another graying linebacker. Thomas is no longer a playmaker. He's not going to get sacks, or interceptions, or tip passes, or make tackles for a loss. He's a lot like Bruschi in that respect.

But I do think he'll wind up with the Patriots.

Boston Globe

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Last year was a breakout season for Kevin Youkilis. He hit .288 with a .390 OBP. He was a versatile presence in the lineup, getting at-bats in all slots except leadoff and 9th. He knocked in 83 runs and scored 85. He also added 16 homeruns to the mix.

My one knock on Youk is a lack of consistency. He came out of the gate red hot, heated up to a supernova, then cooled off for the rest of the year. Youkilis had 152 hits, and nearly a third of them (45) came in the month of May. Half of his homeruns (8) were hit in April and May.

However, he picked it up for the post-season. In the ALCS, he hit .500 (14 for 28) with 3 homers, a double, a triple, 7 RBI, and 10 runs scored. If it hadn't been for Josh Beckett, he had a good case for ALCS MVP.

He was also a solid defensive player, winning the Gold Glove. The last Red Sox first baseman to win the Gold Glove was George Scott in 1971. Youk didn't make a single error at first base in 2007.

Pretty much every offensive number improved for Youkilis in 2007. He had more doubles, more homeruns, more RBI, higher average, higher OBP, and higher slugging.

One strange thing about his stats in 2007 was that he walked fewer times than he did in 2006. He also struck out fewer times. He's seeing fewer pitches, as you might have guessed. In '06, he saw 4.42 pitches per plate appearance. In 2007, it was down to 4.27. Youkilis is known for his ability to work a pitcher, but I don't think this dip in pitches is much to be concerned about. His strikeout to walk ratio saw a minuscule drop of 0.05. Basically, more of his at-bats are ending in hits, instead of walks and strikeouts; which is a good thing.

Youkilis fits in very nicely as the #2 hitter on this team. Last year, he hit 5th and 6th a great deal thanks to JD Drew's struggles. But to me, he's a perfect #2 hitter. He gets on base, he has some pop of his own, he works pitchers, he sets up for the big hitters. Batting #2 last year, he hit .305, with an OBP of .414. Those are great numbers for a #2 hitter.

But Youkilis might not stay at first-base all year. He's the #1 backup for Mike Lowell. Youk played 13 games at third last year, and 16 the year before. When Lowell gets a day off, look for Youkilis at the hot corner.

This means that Youkilis will be replaced at first by Sean Casey. Sean had a decent year with Detroit, hitting .296. He doesn't have the same power as he did earlier in his career, but perhaps some time on the bench, some favorable matchups, and the Green Monster sitting 310 feet away will change that.

Casey brings nothing but positives to the table. He's a well-liked guy, he's been around the block, he knows how to hit, he wanted to be here, he's got post-season experience (hit .529 in the '06 World Series), and he's a solid fielder.

Look for Casey to get more time than you'd think he would. With him, Francona can sit Youkilis or Lowell against tough righties and give them some extra rest.

Of course, for the games in NL ballparks, David Ortiz will probably see some playing time at first. Last year, the Sox worked out a platooning situation, sitting either Youk, Lowell, or Papi in National League parks. This year will probably see more of the same.

I am very curious to see if Casey keeps 21 as his number. The last Red Sox player to don that number appeared in front of Congress yesterday.

First-base is the deepest position on the Red Sox.



Can Evgeni Malkin (#71 for Pittsburgh) keep his mouth closed?

The good news is that the Bruins went to Pittsburgh last night, and beat the Penguins 2-1. The bad news is that defenseman Aaron Ward left the game with a neck injury.

Ward was accidentally struck by an arm or a stick while on the ice in the 2nd period. Zdeno Chara said "I got there and he was making a choking sound, holding his throat and gasping for air." Ward was taken to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he has stayed as a precaution. He wasn't bleeding, he didn't need a stretcher, but he did cough up some blood. Ward has already been plagued by injury. He's missed 13 games this season with injuries from head (concussion) to toe.

The Bruins desperately needed a win in order to hold onto 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The race for the final playoff spot is extremely close. Sixth to 9th is separated by 2 points, with the Rangers the current odd man out.

Rookies Petteri Nokelainen and Vladimir Sobotka scored the two goals for Boston. Sobotka's was his first in the NHL. The Bruins travel to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Associated Press

Photo Credit:

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


This is Part 1 of a series of posts analyzing the Patriots' off-season needs, concerns, and possessions; position-by-position.

What is there to say about the QB of the New England Patriots that hasn't already been said? The MVP of the League had one of the greatest years in NFL history last season. But as we saw in the Super Bowl, he is human. And as a human, susceptible to injury and fatigue, he needs to be backed up.

I think the Patriots should find a veteran to back up Tom Brady. Matt Cassel (turns 26 in May, last started a game when he was a senior in high school) and Matt Gutierrez (turns 24 in June) are adequate backups, but having a dependable veteran on the bench in case Brady gets hurt would be a comforting thought.

This has absolutely no chance of happening, but how awesome would it be if Drew Bledsoe came out of retirement and became the backup QB? This won't happen, but it's still a fun thought.

It will be difficult to find another guy like Vinny Testaverde, or Doug Flutie. But if Belichick and Pioli can pinpoint a veteran they want, said veteran will probably play for peanuts.

Quarterback is perhaps the strongest position on the team, but also the most shallow. If Brady gets hurt, this team is done for. The Patriots aren't desperate for QB help with two young players behind Brady. But every position can always improve.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Jason Varitek enters his 12th season as Red Sox catcher, and will undoubtedly start on Opening Day, barring some unforeseen injury.

To sum up Jason Varitek's offensive contributions, he's not a liability, but he's not much of an asset. He's not someone you mind having in the lineup, so long as he's batting no higher than 7th.

Varitek hit a subpar .255 last season, and slugged a mere .421. He hit 17 homers and knocked in 68 runs. However, his tidy OBP of .367 was above league average, and kept Tek from being a hole in the lineup. Jason had a career high 71 walks to assist his nice OBP.

But two numbers alarm me: 122 and .219.

122 is the number of times Varitek struck out. It wasn't a career high. In 2004 he struck out 126 times. But he also hit .296 with a .390 OBP and .482 slugging that year. In 2005, he struck out 117 times, but also hit .281 with 22 homers. But 122 strikeouts in 2007 was just too many.

.219 was his average with runners in scoring position. Varitek had a decent amount of RBI (68), but he had more than a good number of opportunities. He had 137 ABs with runners in scoring position, and 225 ABs with runners on base. He had 15 more at-bats with runners on than he did with nobody on. He slugged a measly .307 with runners in scoring position.

But he's still a good catcher to have for the sake of the pitching staff. One can't argue with a man who has caught 3 no-hitters from 3 different pitchers. And with young pitchers like Bucholz and Lester coming, it's important that they have a catcher they can trust.

Jason will be backed up by Doug Mirabelli. Now Doug is a real hole in the lineup when he plays. He hit .202 last year, which was sadly an improvement from his 2006 average of .191. He struck out 41 times in 114 at-bats. That's a K every 2.78 ABs.

You've got to give Mirabelli credit for his prowess at catching the knuckleball. But who knows how many knucklers will be thrown this season. Frankly, I think Wakefield should be used out of the bullpen, but that's for another preview post.

There's a rumor that the Red Sox will acquire Japanese catcher Hayato Doue of the Kagawa Olive Guyners. That's a team in an independent Japanese league. He's 25, right-handed, hit .322 in '07 and .327 in '06. The Sox would sign him to a minor league deal. If things worked out, he might possibly make it to 3rd in the organizational depth chart at catcher.

Here's a video of him.

Twenty-four year old catching prospect George Kotteras had a disappointing year in AAA Pawtucket, hitting .241. Dusty Brown, 25, hit .268 in AA Portland and could be playing in AAA this year. Along with several low-level minor league prospects, there are 4 or 5 different players contending to be the #3 catcher on the team. With Mirabelli being an offensive liability, and Tim Wakefield potentially leaving the rotation, the #3 catcher spot is much more important than it may seem.

Sources and Resources:'s
Extra Bases

Photo Credit:
AP Photo, 3/16/05

Monday, February 11, 2008


The Giants - a team written off in week 3 - had just knocked off the 18-0 Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Veterans Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer got their rings. Eli Manning finally emerged from his brother's shadow. Long-snapper Zack Deosse, along with father Steve Deosse, became the first father-son tandem to win Super Bowl rings with the same team. The NFL MVP had been uncharacteristically off with his throws. Randy Moss was going to be a free agent. The Patriots were going to have to rebuild. There were great plays, questionable decisions, and bizarre clock stoppages on the Giant's final drive.

I could go on and on with the abundance of material Super Bowl XLIII provided sportswriters and bloggers. But one story, just one story has really caught my eye. It's a story that demonstrates the true nature of the sporting press as biased and simple-minded.

I'm talking about Leaving-the-Game-Early-Gate, the latest "story" created by those who despise Coach Belichick, and furthered by those myopic people who fail to actually think about things, and instead have purely emotional reactions.

This fresh outrage occurred with 0:01 on the game clock (it actually read 0:00 but was changed to 0:01). The Patriots had just turned the ball over on downs. Photographers, players, coaches, and Belichick swarmed the field from both directions. Belichick shook hands with Tom Coughlin and adjourned to the locker room. The field was eventually cleared, allowing Manning to kneel the ball and end the game.

Then began the media scrutiny over Belichick's actions. They didn't question going for it on 4th & 13. They didn't question the Patriots sticking with the long ball despite its obvious ineptitude. They didn't question going for 4 long passes with 0:35 left, 3 timeouts, and only a field goal needed to tie. The media had a chance to act like a defensive lineman on 3rd & 12, and flat-out rush Belichick's decisions like a QB in an obvious passing situation. Instead him going onto the field with 0:01 left was the topic du jour.

Doug MacEarchen had this to say in his editorial for the Arizona Republic:

"Sure, I liked Tom Brady. I liked the rejuvenation of Randy Moss. I just liked the Pats. But, then, there is Bill Belichick. It is one thing for coaches to push the margins of fair play. But in leaving the field before the Super Bowl - the Super Bowl, for heaven's sake! - was complete, Belichick demonstrated contempt for the game. The Pats' own coach ruined their pursuit of perfection as much as the Giants did."

So he'd rather have Belichick cheat than go onto the field early. This is the level of silliness and stupidity I'm talking about.

Steve Czaban of had this to say in his editorial

"The captain always goes down with his ship. Apparently, this doesn't apply to New England coach Bill Belichick...

"Staying on the field until the last possible breath of hope is gone is the very least you can expect of an athlete or a coach. Call it protocol, tradition, or simple class...

"When you ditch the last seconds of a brutal loss like that, you are literally turning your back on your team...

"By leaving just a little early, Belichick drew the spotlight away from Coughlin, and onto himself. He can say that was never his intent, or simply not his fault. But it doesn't matter...

"When the world saw him walk that walk, his character came into clear focus: great coach, bad sport. For most men in his profession, that would be a nearly mortal embarrassment. For Bill Belichick, it was just another lowering of his personal bar - one that is already low enough to trip over."

So Belichick turned his back on his team, and tried to upstage Tom Coughlin? He also should be mortally embarrassed? All because he went on the field early?

Aaron Weare of the Murray State News had this to say

"The last Belichick point that had many people up in arms is he left the field with time still on the game clock. I'm not going to beat him up about that, because at his core Belichick isn't a likable guy. It's no secret that Belichick isn't the most likable coach in the NFL, and him leaving the field early is just another example of his typical lack of class. Like LaDainian Tomlinson said after last year's playoffs, the Patriots are a no-class organization and it starts with their head coach."

So Aaron Weare, some writer for a college newspaper, KNOWS that Belichick "at his core...isn't a likable guy?" Are you kidding me? What the hell does Aaron Weare of the Murray State News know about Bill Belichick's core? And of course, alluding to LT is not surprising. I'm stunned Tony Dungee isn't mentioned in this Super Bowl "article."

I know I'm picking on a college writer, but this is where it starts. This is where the sportswriter is molded into some sort of Crusader for Class, a chivalrous warrior for all that is good and holy in sports. Their #1 enemy is, of course, Bill Belichick.

Mike Toth, on, had this hilariously moronic excerpt from his Scattered Thoughts piece

"Forget about the arrogance Bill Belichick showed at the end of the Super Bowl by leaving the field early after the New York Giants had shocked his New England Patriots."

How the hell is that arrogance? Do writers have dictionaries any more? This is what I'm talking about, though. People just make stuff up that makes no sense at all.

Stick to hockey and curling, Mike.

Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post said:

"Talk about classless. Henceforth, his beloved hoodie won't be Belichick's only prop. He'll have to carry the baggage from his Super Bowl stunt wherever he goes."

Stunt? Carry his "stunt" as "baggage?" Are you serious, Jimmy?

Scott Ottersen of The Bleacher Report had some funny tidbits.

"No one can tell me he thought the game was over—I don't want to hear that excuse. As great a coach as he is, Belichick knows the rules of change of possession. He knows that the game cannot end until that last snap is taken and the clock winds down to triple zeroes...

"How can I respect him anymore? Sure, I can respect Belichick as a great coach, but as a man? Never again.

"It's despicable to think that one of the game's greatest coaches would disrespect the opposing team's coach, the opposing team's players, his own players, the NFL, the Super Bowl, and himself in this way."

Well, the clock did read triple 0, but you were too busy trying to find bullshit to pile onto Belichick to notice, Scott. And as far as you respecting him as "man?" I'm sure Coach Belichick will be crying into his pillow because he's lot YOUR respect.

And how the hell is what Belichick did disrespectful to the Giants, or his own players, or the game? I'm still waiting to find a good justification of this argument. I doubt one will be forthcoming.

Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune wrote in his commentary after the game:

"New England Patriots players dutifully wore T-shirts exclaiming their willingness to eat [humble pie]. Enterprising bakeries around town even sold it. Too bad the guy who served it most couldn’t bring himself to taste it on Sunday.

"Half a week has passed, and I’m still waiting for all those national columnists to bash Patriots coach/taskmaster Bill Belichick for high-tailing it off the University of Phoenix Stadium turf with one second to go in the New York Giants’ 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII."

How was Belichick leaving early a failure to eat humble pie? Didn't he go out, shake Coughlin's hand, do his post-game press conference, and all that? His only wrongdoing was not repeating himself after the clock went from 0:00 to 0:01 back to 0:00.

And this repeating theme of sportswriters imploring other sportswriters to join them is a typical ploy I've read in these columns. They seem to be asking their colleagues to join in their righteous struggle against classlessness, against Bill Belichick.

Donnie's football IQ was thoroughly demonstrated with this statement about Tom Brady's possibly injured ankle:

"You don’t throw with your ankle."

Brilliant analysis. Tell Joe Theisman that you don't throw with your leg. Or tell Patrice Bergeron that you don't play hockey with your cranium. Don't worry, Donnie, with well thought out analysis like that, someday you'll move up from Scranton to Binghamton. Or maybe even Harrisburg!

But the critics aren't just in the rest of the country, they're right here in New England. Local oaf Micahel Muldoon of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune had this to say:

"Bill Belichick was badly outcoached and just as disturbing was again classless after the Greatest Team Ever Assembled (GTEA) was pushed around by the presumed sacrificial lambs from New York in Super Bowl XLII...

"Maybe the look-at-me-America! dapper red hoodie was too tight and cut off blood flow to the brain. How else to explain the inability to slow down the Giants' pass rush? Worse yet, to even try to slow them down. The Giants sackmeisters were huffing and puffing but no hurry-up offense from the Pats?

"How else to explain Randy Moss being such a minor part of the game plan against the aforementioned group of Ellis Hobbs wannabees that comprise the Giants' defensive backfield?

"You have to wonder about Moss' future in Foxboro after he made a point to include coaching among the Patriots' problems Sunday night in the desert.

"But as [Bobby] Knight also discovered, when you fail to win the big one, which has been the case the last three years in New England, you don't get carte blanche to act like a jerk.

"That's the only way to describe Belichick's actions after the game. With referee Mike Carey trying to give him a 15-yard horse collar to get him back on the sideline, Belichick continued to march across the field despite there being a second left to play.

"He gave Coughlin an awkward hug, continued on to the locker room and later gave one of his intentionally painfully bland interviews with Fox's Chris Myers.

"Just the latest examples of classless behavior by a coach who needs to consume some of his homemade humble pie...

"In this his darkest hour for his coaching and his classlessness, Belichick deserves the same treatment."

The fact that Muldoon alludes to Randy Moss saying that coaching was a problem demonstrates his raging idiocy. After every game, Patriots players - particularly Brady - go on their schpeel about playing better and coaching better. It's what they do. And guess what Michael, have you ever heard of the franchise tag? Do you really think Randy Moss wants out of a team that got him 3 points away from a ring, and the record for receiving touchdowns?

How was Belichick "badly" outcoached? It was a 3 point game that was won with 0:35 on the clock! How is that being badly outcoached?

What the hell does Belichick have to do with stopping the pass rush? All he can do is formulate the scheme, then hope it is executed. Instead of blaming Belichick for the Giants pass rush, maybe, just maybe, you could give credit to THE GIANTS PASS RUSH!!!

Why not go with a no-huddle? Because your 35 and older linebacking corps might not like a one minute 3 and out for their rest in between defensive series.

Moss wasn't part of the gameplan? He had several deep balls thrown to him that were badly off-target. But I suppose that was Belichick's fault, too.

I'm still eagerly awaiting an explanation as to why Belichcik's actions were classless, even more classless than breaking NFL rules by taping opponents' sidelines, or trying to embarrass an opponent, or giving half-hearted handshakes.

Michael Muldoon is actually the sports editor of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. His kindergarten level of understanding football, and his baseless attacks on Belichick have ensured that I will probably never buy an issue of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. If he's the kind of man they have running an entire department, God knows what else goes on there.

And calling the Giants' defensive line "sackmeisters?" Did you go to the adult video store before writing this, Michael?

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom wrote on his blog:

"Dr. Evil Bill Belichick tried to explain his classless move of leaving the field before the Super Bowl ended: "Basically, on that last play I wasn't really sure of the time. Everybody started on to the field and then I got over there and I wanted to congratulate Tom. I wanted to get over there and congratulate him and tell him that -- congratulate him on the championship. There really wasn't much left at that point." Wasn't sure of the time? What a crock. Videotape shows referee Mike Carey getting in front of Belichick and telling him that there was still time left on the clock. Just admit you're classless and move along, pal."

Well, pal, I think calling Bill Belichick "Dark Lord of the Sith" would have been funnier. The clock read 0:00. Yet you, and your agenda-laden media buddies have ignored this fact. All you continue to do is perpetuate this notion of classlessness without any supporting argument.

Mike Beas of the Anderson Herald Tribune (that's in Indiana, home of the Classy Colts)

"Leave it to the most classless organization in all of professional sports to swing a steel wrecking ball into four decades of Super Bowl tradition...

"Then Mr. Funnybone, Bill Belichick, reacts like the spoiled second-grader he is and for once you find yourself chuckling at the losing team’s expense if not laughing hysterically.

"By running off the field with time remaining on the clock during New England’s 17-14 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, Belichick, whether he intended to or not, swiped a large portion of the winning team’s thunder.

"The 55-year-old Patriots coach made the moment about him. His disappointment. His insecurities as a coach and as a person...

"Go wrap a heartfelt bearhug on New York defensive end Michael Strahan, a future Hall of Fame inductee who in his 15th season finally earned a taste of a Super Bowl championship. Tell him how happy you are for him even if, deep down, you’re not...

"Millions of impressionable teens and preteens, many of them athletes themselves, were watching at home. Nice example, coach. The ball was on the tee. All Belichick had to do was swing. He refused and now looks more moronic than ever, which is saying something."

Bill Belichick's leaving the field early has destroyed decades Super Bowl tradition, at least according to Mr. Beas. Next year's Super Bowl just won't feel the same, because it's been ruined. Thanks, coach!

Mr. Beas found himself "chuckling at the losing team's expense, if not laughing hysterically." Then he goes on to rip Belichick for being classless. Look in the mirror, Mike. You're going to have the audacity to preach about magnanimity in victory and defeat, while simultaneously reveling in the Schadenfreude of some team's failure? You're a hypocrite.

Oh, and way to stay unbiased, Mike. Apparently Mr. Beas hasn't hear the expression "there's no cheering in the press box," or in his case, there's no hysterical laughing in the press box.

Mr. Beas is another writer who asserts that Belichick's running onto the field was an effort to take away the spotlight from Tom Coughlin and the Giants. Mr. Beas, the spotlight is controlled by its operator, not the actor on stage. You, Mr. Beas, are a spotlight operator, and YOU have decided to put it on Belichick. So don't blame him for what you and your anti-Belichick cronies have done.

And since when does Bill Belichick have insecurities as a person? Do you, Mr. Beas, at your Anderson, Indiana newspaper, have some sort of personal access to Bill? Do you have some close connection, maybe a mole working on the inside? Or are you just like the others of your ilk: a fiction writer posing as a sports journalist?

And the part about impressionable teens and preteens being influenced was the most hackneyed bit of trite I've seen in this whole exploration of the media's Belichick hatred.

What's sad is that by being such a slogan spouting retard, you'll probably move up quickly in the world of sports journalism, Mr. Beas. The contemporary sportswriting environment not only tolerates overly opinionated loudmouths with more bark than substance, it encourages them. You could be the next Skip Bayless or Woody Paige. Just continue making stuff up, spouting cliches, ignoring the truth, and keeping one eye closed. You'll be on Around the Horn in no time.

I could go on and on with these excerpts of hate. That's truly what they are. Has any head coach ever been so reviled by the media as a person? Coaches are often vilified for their decisions, and their actions on and off the field are criticized. But the attacks on Bill Belichick are directed squarely AT HIM, as a human being. Tom Jackson once said about the Patriots "they hate their coach" (they went on to win 23 of 24 games after that fantastic analysis), but it's apparent that it is the media that truly hates him.

What's stunning is that in all of these pieces, there's not a single reference to the Giants' reaction. These sportswriters claim that the G-Men were somehow overshadowed or disrespected by what Belichick did.

So what did Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin have to say about it?

"I didn't attach anything to it. He came over and said some nice things. Chances are, at the end of the game he wouldn't have made it over."

Does he sound like a man whose thunder has been stolen?

If anyone thinks the Giants were somehow miffed by what the opposing head coach did with 0:01 in their SUPER BOWL VICTORY, then that person needs to immediately seek a CAT scan.

These Belichick hate mongers also ignore the basic facts of the event.

Fact #1: The game clock expired to 0:00 prematurely. It was one of countless errors in the clock that night.

Fact #2: Coach Coughlin went out to meet Belichick, as did many members of his team.

Fact #3: With 0:01 on the clock, the Giants were already wearing their Super Bowl Champion hats.

Fact #4: Belichick did his coaching duty and went out to shake Coughlin's hand. He didn't simply run into the locker room, crouch in a corner, and sulk.

Fact #5: The game was over. There was no chance of a Patriots victory. None. Belichick was conceding defeat, something which I've seen done in college football in similar situations.

Fact #6: The field at the end of any game, but especially the Super Bowl, is an insane mess of activity. Photographers, players, coaches, trainers, families, officials, it's a madhouse.

The haters wanted something to attack Belichick with. Instead of attacking his coaching decisions - which would have been understandable, appropriate, and expected considering some of his questionable calls - they wanted to attack the man. They wanted to use this game as an excuse to stab him with their pens, throw their Black Berries at him, and pound him with their laptops. They wanted to rip him limb from limb.

They have no regard for truth, reason, logic, or sense. They're sick of Belichick. As fans, they're sick of the Patriots success. As writers, they're sick of Belichick and his players keeping their mouths shut.

It's somewhat disturbing how these people act. They're self-proclaimed Crusaders. They're the Protectors of The Class.

The Class is a very special thing. LaDainian Tomlinson has it. Peyton Manning has it. Tony Dungee has more of it than anyone in the NFL. Some people have a great deal of it, some have very little, some have none. Bill Belichick not only has none, he has a great deal of Anti-Class.

Who determines what is Classy, and what is Anti-Classy? Doug MacEarchen of the Arizona Republic. Steve Czaban of Aaron Weare of the Murray State News. Mike Toth of Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post. Scott Ottersen of The Bleacher Report. The Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom. Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune. Michael Muldoon of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. And Mike "Think of the Children" Beas of the Anderson Herald Bulletin. These men, and others like them, are part of a society that determines all that is Class, all that is not Class, and all that is Anti-Class.

These men need not justify their claims. What they say in this realm must be taken at its word. No thought is required. In fact, critical thinking is explicitly forbidden by this group.

Remember when Belichick was criticized for shooing away Pittsburgh Steeler trainers from one of his injured players? A former sportswriter once suggested to this cabal of Class that maybe Bill Cowher should have been criticized for interfering with a Patriots player, and not the other way around. The critical thought, and the defiance of the group resulted in the death penalty for this poor sportswriter.

I'm kidding, of course.

But these critics have done nothing but attack Bill Belichick for nearly a decade. Why? Why such hatred? Is Bill really that bad of a guy. And if he were a bad guy, who cares? Who cares if he helps his neighbor take out the trash? Who cares if he gives Eric Mangini a half-hearted handshake or an enthusiastic handjob?

And who the hell are these people, thinking that they are the judges and juries of what is classy and good? I'm sure if I stalked one or two of these guys, I'd be able to dig up tons of dirt on them. Everybody's humans, and humans are imperfect. But these clowns feel like superior beings; basking in the heavenly glow of their Vaios; pouring over film of the last second of the Super Bowl (ignoring the previous 3,599 seconds); finding some minutia to be misconstrued, misinterpreted, overblown, and insufficiently thought through.

So feel free to attack these writers. E-mail them obscenity filled ramblings about how much you hate them. You'll be surprised at how good it feels to type the F word and C word in all caps. You can slam down on your keyboard and everything. And don't feel bad. By casting the first stone, these dunderheads have opened up the door for people criticizing them without logic, facts, reason, or sense.

I, for one, will do my part.

Arizona Republic editorial editorial
Murray State News article/editorial. I really couldn't tell if it was supposed to be an article or editorial. It had the word "I" in it, which suggests editorial, but the headline and rest of the story suggests an article. Aaron, I hope you have a good minor.
"Scattered thoughts" on
Denver Post column
The Bleacher Report
Scranton Times-Tribune column
Lawrence Eagle-Tribune column
Anderson Herald Bulletin column article by Chirstopher L. Gasper


The Red Sox and Kevin Youkilis agreed to terms yesterday on a one-year deal and avoided an arbitration hearing. The deal is worth $3 million. Youkilis wanted $3.7, the Red Sox offered $2.5. Surprisingly, the Red Sox didn't use this opportunity to hammer out a long-term contract with Youkilis. Maybe they want to see if he can repeat his impressive 2007 performance.

Associated Press

Sunday, February 10, 2008


What happens when you mix three doctors, a 41 year old arm, and a baseball team?

You get contradictions, "baseball sources," second opinions, third opinions, contractual obligation discussions. In short, you get chaos.

The soap opera surrounding Curt Schilling's shoulder continues to unravel, with each piece of new information providing more questions than answers. The Red Sox are being tight-lipped about the whole thing, but the doctors involved are not.

The apparent situation is this:

Curt Schilling signed his deal for 2008, passed a physical, then reported shoulder pains. Dr. Craig Morgan, whose worked with Schilling for 13 years, examined him. Then Sox medical director Thomas Gill offered his opinion. Morgan and Gill contradicted each other. Morgan believed the only way that Curt could pitch would be surgery. Gill believed that surgery would mean Curt couldn't pitch at all. In order to help alleviate confusion, Mets medical director David Altcheck was brought in. Altcheck sided with Gill, believing that surgery would end the season for Schilling. But Altcheck also discovered a tear in Curt's rotator cuff.

So now, under the belief that surgery would end Schilling's season before it began, the Red Sox are taking a conservative approach. Schilling received a cortisone shot on Friday. Schilling will then rest and rehabilitate the shoulder. Dr. Morgan thinks this plan has no chance at succeeding. Dr. Gill and Dr. Altcheck think surgery would prevent Schilling from pitching.

And that's what happens when 41 year old pitchers who missed 7 weeks on the disabled list are given $8M to pitch.

The Red Sox tried to do a Clemens-esque type of deal: sign an aging pitcher knowing that he wouldn't be able to contribute for the entire season. This shoulder problem is an expected result of such a decisions.

But still, with no Curt Schilling, the Red Sox rotation becomes a series of question marks behind Beckett.

Johan Santana is only 28 years old and has a minimal injury history, just in case you were wondering.

Gordon Edes article

Saturday, February 09, 2008


The Celtics have struggled recently without Kevin Garnett. He was once again out against his former team, and it was once again a more competitive game than it would have been had he played.

The Bruins have also struggled as of late, losing their last two games and falling behind 2-0 going into the 3rd period last night. Had the 2-0 score stood up, Buffalo would have tied the Bruins for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

But both Boston teams came out on top. Both thanks to unlikely, or at least unexpected heroes. And both heroes seemed to simply be in the right place at the right time.

Leon Powe scored the game winning basket as time expired. With the score knotted at 86-86, Minnesota had the ball with under 30 seconds on the clock. Former Boston College star Craig Smith rebounded a missed 3 pointer for the Timberwolves. Ray Allen broke up Smith's ensuing pass and the Celtics turned upcourt. Eventually, Powe dropped the ball in as the buzzer sounded. The officials reviewed it, and confirmed the basket, giving Boston an 88-86 win.

The Bruins scored their game winning goal in an overtime shootout with the Buffalo Sabres. After falling behind 2-0 through 2 periods, the Bruins took over the game and dominated the 3rd, outshooting Buffalo 17 to 1. The Sabres had their first and only shot of the period with 3 minutes left. Zdeno Chara scored 1 minute into the 3rd. Marco Sturm tied it up 15 minutes later on a breakaway goal. After a scoreless overtime, the game went to penalty shots.

Phil Kessel netted the game winner. In attempt to trick goalie Ryan Miller, Kessel dribbled the puck, but made one move too many. The puck came off his stick, and drifted between Miller's legs and into the net. It was either one of the best moves in NHL history, or pure luck. Kessel later admitted "You can't get any luckier."

On the other end of the ice, backup goalie Alex Auld stopped all three of Buffalo's shootout shots, securing a 3-2 win for the Bruins.

The Celtics' win kept them 3 games ahead of the Pistons for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The C's also reduced their magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division to 22. If they win 22 of their remaining 35 games, they win the division, even if Toronto wins every single game they have left.

The Bruins gave themselves a small cushion in the playoff race. They now lead 9th place Buffalo by 3 points, and actually moved into 7th place in the East.

The Celtics host San Antonio on Sunday afternoon.

The Bruins host the Florida Panthers tonight.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Jim Mone (Powe scoring game winner)
AP Photo/David Duprey (Kessel's shootout winner)

Friday, February 08, 2008


With the Patriots losing on Sunday, Kevin Garnett out for a few more games, Schilling's shoulder acting up, and the Bruins being the Bruins, it's time to look at a lighter side of the sports news.

A video came out on YouTube yesterday which featured Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal as soltadores in a Dominican cock-fight. A soltador is the person who releases the rooster to go and fight. The video was eventually removed from YouTube (awwwwwww), and animal rights groups instantly began formulating a horribly constructed comparison.

Pedro Martinez = Michael Vick

I don't know if anyone knows who Vick is. Used to be an NFL quarterback; tiny, teeny, hardly covered story about him running a dog-fighting ring. Well PETA, and The Humane Society have already started their barking about Pedro.

But let's just have a short education of the differences between Pedro and Vick.

Cock-fighting is legal in the Dominican Republic. Dog fighting is illegal in the US.

Cock-fighting is an accepted part of Dominican culture, like bull fighting in Spain, or American Gladiators in the US. Dog fighting is not an accepted part of American culture.

Pedro's role in the cock-fight was similar to a celebrity throwing out the first pitch of a baseball game. Michael Vick actually ran the dog fighting ring.

People eat chickens! I just had some McNuggets. Very few people actually eat dogs.

Let's be honest with ourselves. If one of our friends - that sketchy friend we all have - invited us to an underground cock-fight; we'd go. We'd have some beer, smoke some cigars, bet on a cock, and enjoy ourselves.

We're all missing the big picture here: YouTube used to be cool. But since Google took it over, it's become legitimate. They took down all the highlights from the Super Bowl at the bequest of the NFL. Then the cock-fighting video with Pedro gets removed from the site. I didn't even get to see the video before they took it down.

All I can do is use my imagination to envision Pedro and Marichal, setting two roosters loose to peck at each other in El Coliseo Gallistico de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Cockfighting Coliseum), pictured below.

And who won the fight? Was it Pedro's bird, or Marichal's?

Associated Press/The Toronto Star

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Both the Globe and Herald are breaking stories about Curt Schilling's right shoulder. The variations between the two stories leads me to believe that this story is extremely tentative and speculative. Here are a few things that are clear, though:

Curt Schilling's right shoulder is acting up

He will miss at least the start of spring training

He went to see Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed shoulder surgery on Schilling in 1995

The Red Sox official stance is "no comment"

Curt missed 7 weeks of last season with problems in his right shoulder

He's 41 years old

Tony Massarotti is a sensationalist writer

The Globe's story is more subdued, stating that there are reports of an injury and that Schilling may miss part of spring training. The Herald's story is more doom and gloom. The title of the piece is "Schilling could be lost for season." Of course, there's no hard evidence to support this. If Schilling's injury is bad enough to require surgery (again, we have no idea how bad it is), it's safe to say his season is done. But we don't even know what the injury actually is.

Massarotti's Herald column also asserts that there is friction and/or tension between the Red Sox and Schilling. Apparently, there is disagreement over treatment options. There is also a possibility that the Red Sox have looked into voiding Schilling's contract.

Tony Maz cites "baseball sources." He's a reliable reporter, but I think this story is an extreme interpretation of rumor and second hand talk. Understandable considering the lack of spring training storylines surrounding the Sox.

It is possible that the Red Sox and Schilling cannot come to a consensus on how to treat the shoulder. It's possible Schilling wants to rehab somewhere but the team wants him to rehab in Fort Myers. Who knows?

And as far as the Red Sox taking steps to void the contract: all that means is that the Red Sox have looked into it. If you had a 41 year old pitcher with a shoulder injury, and you were on the line to pay him $8M, wouldn't you see if you could get out of it?

What really irks me about this whole thing is that Johan Santana is currently trying on his new Mets apparel. The Red Sox could have had him, albeit for a price. We had Beckett, then a 41 year old, overweight, bad shoulder question mark. Then whatever the Japanese symbol for a question mark is. Then a 90 year old knuckle-baller with a bad back. Then a bunch of kids with next to no Major League experience. Santana wouldn't be a question mark. He would've been an exclamation point.

article by Gordon Edes and Nick Cafardo
article by Tony Massarotti

Photo Credit:
Associated Press



Randy Moss is the Pats' top candidate to receive the franchise tag. Asante Samuel got it last year, but under the condition that he wouldn't be franchised again. Randy Moss is an unrestricted free agent, and after setting the NFL record for touchdown receptions, is the top free agent WR out there.

A franchise tag would give Moss a 2008 salary of $7.84 million, which is the average salary of the top 5 WRs in the League. This would be far below the potential salaries he could garner on the open market.

Other teams would still be able to make offers to Moss. But if Moss signed with them, it would cost them two first round draft choices. That price is a bit too steep, which is why franchising players is such an ironclad way to keep them on your team cheaply.

We can all agree that Moss was a huge part of the Patriots' record-breaking offense. Although he didn't have big numbers in the post-season, that was more of a product of Tom Brady's play, and not Moss. He is the ultimate receiving threat. He's fast, tall, strong, with great hands.


Brendan Donnelly has signed a minor league deal with the Indians. The 36 year old righty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and is expected to miss the first few months of the 2008 season. Despite being named in the Mitchell Report, I wanted the Sox to keep Donnelly. The major knock I have on this team is its lack of bullpen depth, and Donnelly could give us some. Although at his age, coming off major arm surgery might make him too much of a risk.

With the acquisition of Sean Casey, the Sox were free to let Eric Hinske go with no signs of a struggle. The 30 year old former Rookie of the Year hit a meager .204 with the Sox last year. He was a hit or miss signing when we acquired him. It was a miss. He signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Extra Bases
The official web-site of the
Tampa Bay Rays

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


The Red Sox re-signed Bobby Kielty to a one year deal, potentially worth up to $1.1M bsed on incentives. With Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, JD Drew, and Jacoby Ellsbury; this re-signing makes it clear that a trade involving an outfielder should be expected. Coco Crisp has been the name on the top of the trade list.


In case you can't tell, I'm trying real hard to look ahead toward next football season. Here are the teams we'll be playing, and where the games will be. The order of the games, placement of the bye week, and time of the games has yet to be determined. Each team's record is in parenthesis

New York Jets (4-12)
Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Denver Broncos (7-9)
Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
St. Louis Rams (3-13)
Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)

New York Jets (4-12)
Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Buffalo Bills (7-9)
San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
San Diego Chargers (11-5)
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Indianapolis Colts (13-3)

Yes, it looks like we're hosting Pittsburgh and going to Indianapolis...again. One thing you may have noticed is the large number of west coast games. We're playing the AFC West along with the NFC West. That means 4 trips to the Pacific Time Zone. Last year we only had 2 games outside the Eastern zone, and they were in the Central zone. So that should be an interesting challenge.

Overall, these opponents combined for a record of 99-157 (thanks mostly to Miami and New York). Of course the big games will be against San Diego, Indy, and Pittsburgh.

One strange little oddity. The Pats will face the Colts in 2009, as well. Where? Indianapolis, of course. That means regular season road games against Indy for three straight seasons. Are any of us surprised?