Monday, September 29, 2008
This is bad news no matter how you look at it. Last year, Beckett carried the Sox in October. This year, he's struggled a bit, and hasn't looked healthy all season.
This also means that Beckett will only be able to start one game in the series, as opposed to two. Thankfully Lester and Matsuzaka have been good enough to merit two starts each in the series. Let's just hope that Game 3 isn't an elimination game for the Sox. And if it is, let's hope Beckett has some October magic left in him to extend the series.
Boston College doesn't have a football rival. Say what you want about Notre Dame, but the Irish don't care. Their rivals are USC, Michigan, and Purdue. The same goes for Miami (actual rivals: Virginia Tech, FSU, Florida), and Virginia Tech (actual rivals: Miami, Virginia).
So, Boston College, UConn, let's make a deal here. Play each other for 6 years and see what develops. Hell, play at Gillette Stadium if you want a neutral location. You can split up the 70,000 seats evenly between schools. BC, you'll get noticed more by the media in Boston. UConn, you'll steal a little attention from your basketball teams. Make up some silly trophy to play for like Paul Revere's Saddle or something. Call it the Blackstone River Shootout brought to you by Carl's Jr.
So instead of playing UMass or URI or Holy Cross or UNH, man up and play each other!
The financial institutions of this country are facing drastic changes in the status quo. 150 year old companies like Lehman Brothers are going bankrupt, banks are failing; and without something happening (like the "bailout" which is really more of a buyout), it's going to continue (which isn't necesarilly bad, it will simply change the way our economy functions).
The effects of this crapstorm will be felt in many different ways. This post tries to narrow the focus to its effect on the sports world.
Right now, there's no credit available. You want to take out a mortgage, or get a business loan; you'll either be denied or have to pay an extremely high rate of interest. Banks simply lack the cash to give out credit right now.
For huge teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, NFL teams, Lakers, Celtics; this doesn't mean much. They have so much cashflow and they're such good investments for banks, that they'll get any loans they need. Hell, the Yankees are getting money from New York to build their new Stadium in return for nothing.
But the KC Royals won't be getting a new ballpark anytime soon (but they're almost done with a major renovation project). The Rays will find it very difficult to get any private financing for their proposed new ballpark. Their owner - Stuart Sternberg - is primarily a Wall Street investor. It's been a rough month for some of those guys.
That leads me to another potential impact. Most of the owners of sports teams are business tycoons who use teams as a toy as well as a business. See: Mark Cuban. A lot of these people have enough personal wealth to absorb a few bad hits in the market. They didn't get rich by not diversifying either. But a few might be forced to sell their teams in order to help their other businesses. God willing, Jeremy Jacobs will be one of those sellers, but I doubt it.
Think about the names of ballparks, stadiums, and arenas: TD BankNorth Garden. Wachovia Center, Progressive Field, Lincoln Financial Field, Quicken Loans Arena, PNC Park, INVESCO Field at Mile High, Scotiabank Place, Chase Field, Bank of America Stadium, Prudential Center, Citizens Bank Park, RBC Center, M&T Bank Stadium, HSBC Arena, BankAtlantic Center, Scottrade Center, Comerica Park, SAFECO Field. These are all in the financial/insurance industries.
When these banks fail, or are purchased, the teams they sponsor might lose their lucrative naming rights deals. SAFECO was just bought by Liberty Mutual, and it will be interesting to see what that does to Seattle's SAFECO Field.
And it's not just naming rights. Through billboards, commercials, and luxury boxes; corporate America provides most of the revenue for sports teams. As credit vanishes, most companies will be focused on survival, rather than expansion (no credit=no expansion). They won't pay huge amounts on advertising. This could also have a domino effect through television. TV stations make money from ads, then they pay the NFL $3.7 billion a year to broadcast football.
You won't be seeing teams declare bankruptcy. You won't see significant declines in attendance. The teams that make money now will continue to make money. The teams that lose money will continue to lose money, but not catastrophically. Things may get a little tighter for many teams. New ballparks/stadiums and major renovations will be rare for a while. Smaller market teams might get a little tighter when it comes to paying players.
Things will change.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I just don't get the point of forcing a meaningless doubleheader into the last weekend of the year. I guess the 37,000 fans who have tickets are happy, but they're going to see what amounts to a split-squad spring training game. The regulars and the stars might play a few innings in one game or the other. But don't expect David Ortiz to have 8 at-bats on Sunday.
It's kind of a shame the Red Sox lost Friday night. Tampa Bay has lost three straight. It's frustrating when you come so close to winning the division over a 162 game season. There are countless examples of games the Sox "should have" or "could have" or "would have" won.
Tampa Bay deserves tons of credit, but do they win the AL East if Josh Beckett remains healthy? How about David Ortiz? Mike Lowell? JD Drew? I don't think so. The Rays had injuries of their own, but Beckett and Ortiz are two of the premier players in the game. Lowell is last year's World Series MVP, and nearly regular season MVP.
1:35 this afternoon, Daisuke Matsuzaka goes for win #19, Mike Mussina goes for win #20. 7:35, Sidney Ponson faces Tim Wakefield.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Friday, September 26, 2008
The Sox are still technically in the AL East race. They trail Tampa Bay by 2 games, with 3 games remaining. That means in order to win the division (and have homefield advantage in the first round), the Sox have to win 3 games against New York, and the Rays have to lose all three of their games in Detroit. Tampa Bay would win in the event of a tie.
This probably won't happen. The Sox will be lucky to even play a game this weekend with all the rain. But the victories were important. The Sox are playing solid baseball at precisely the right time. The 5 runs they put up on Cliff Lee was very promising for the playoffs, where they'll be facing quality pitching every night.
Winning the division is relatively meaningless in the bigger picture of things, but having homefield advantage is not. The Sox are 39-42 (.481) on the road, but 55-23 (.705) in Fenway. And even though the Sox have the 4th best record in all of baseball, they'll be on the road for the ALDS, as well as the ALCS. Unless there's a miracle this weekend.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sorry I haven't talked to you in a while. Sunday was a very rough day, and it's been a rough week since then. Me, Marvin, and Reggie all had to go to the hospital for dehydration Sunday night. We all cried too much after the game. We even cried at Chuck E. Cheese's. Coach Tony was mad at us for that. "Chuck E. Cheese is a no cry zone" he always says.
I wasn't just crying because we lost. I was crying because I was lied to.
Before the game, Daryl Smith and John Henderson of the Jaguars came up to me.
"Hey, Peyton," Daryl yelled across the field during pregame warm ups. "Can you do us a favor?"
"Sure fellas," I replied with a smile.
"Well, man, some of our DBs have been feeling down lately," John stated.
"Oh, I see. Me too. The end of summer always makes me feel a little low."
"Yeah, man" Daryl agreed. "We were wondering if you could throw them a few interceptions, just to make them feel better."
"I don't know guys, Coach Tony might get upset. I could never hurt him. And we want to win the game too."
"Peyton, we promise to give the ball right back. Garrard will throw a pick or Scobee will fumble or something. Please."
"Well, alrighty then!"
HAHA, I love Ace Ventura! When he talks with his bum (sorry for swearing)it cracks me up. Get it? CRACKs me up? tee hee hee :-) Don't tell my dad I said those words ;-)
But they didn't give the ball back at all! Rashean didn't even let his offense touch the ball! Those Jaguars pretend to be nice, but they're mean guys. I hate them! Adam called them the "F*guars" on the sideline and Coach Tony had to give him a spanking during halftime.
Coach Tony has been really hard on us this week at practice. We only got to watch 101 Dalmatians on film day. Dwight and the guys all wanted to see 102 Dalmatians right after. He says Cruella Deville reminds him of that mean old man who coaches the Patriots.
But Coach Tony wouldn't let us. :-(
Yesterday, we usually have a 90 minute flower picking session before practice. Me, Marvin, Dallas, and Joseph always compete to see who can find the prettiest flower. I like daisies. But Coach Tony only let us pick flowers for 30 minutes. He said we had to get inside and work on "Important stuff." What's more important than daisies? I didn't have enough time to find a single one!
I think losing makes Coach Tony into a mean guy. He never used to yell before. But now he's a sour-puss all the time. I don't like it. Neither do the rest of the fellas.
So guess what me and the guys did this morning to cheer him up? We threw him a surprise birthday party! His birthday isn't until October 6th. "That's the surprise!" Dallas said. That Dallas is such a crazy guy! We decided to make it a Dora the Explorer party. Coach Tony loves Dora, and so do I.
So we had the party, with cake, and ice cream, and orange drink. Coach Tony loved it. We all gave him gift certificates. I gave him one to Blockbuster. And you know what he did with it? He rented 102 Dalmatians and we all watched it! Twice!
Then the clown came. He was hilarious. He made me a balloon unicorn. Unfortunately, Antoine Bethea is afraid of clowns, so he locked himself in the showers. But he came back out when the clown had been gone for an hour.
I love my coach. I'm so lucky to play for a coach like Coach Tony.
And I love you too, diary!
The Red Sox will retire the number 6 Friday night, on the eve of Johnny Pesky's 89th birthday. In order to do this, the Sox had to change their policy on retired numbers. Doerr, Cronin, Williams, Yastrzemski, and Fisk - the owners of the retired numbers in left field - are all Hall of Famers. Pesky is not.
But, he's been with the team in one capacity or another for almost 60 years.
The number 6 has also worn by Harry Agganis, Joe Cronin (for one season), Rico Petrocelli, and Bill Buckner. Gary Gaeti was the last Sox player to wear it in 2000.
I'm happy about this move. Pesky wasn't a phenomenally great player. He was good, but not Hall of Fame good. But he's been a part of this team for so long. The term "ambassador" of the game gets thrown around too much, but in Pesky's case it fits him like a glove.
And hopefully this opens the door to retiring Tony Conigliaro's #25.
Red Sox Diehard.com
By giving eventual Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee his 3rd loss of the season, the Red Sox clinched at least the AL Wild Card. It's their 5th playoff appearance in 6 years, and 19th in team history.
It's been a very interesting season to say the least. With all the injuries and drama, making the playoffs is a bigger accomplishment than it was last year. Schilling never pitched a game. Colon came and went, then came and went. Beckett wasn't Acelike as he was a year ago, plus he missed some time. Okajima struggled, as did the rest of the bullpen. Ortiz missed time and played with hurt wrists. Lowell's been injured pretty much all season. Drew's missed a lot of time. And of course, there was that Manny Ramirez guy. Remember him?
Last night, the two most valuable players on the team came through for the Sox. Youkilis hit a 2 run homer in the 4th to put the Sox on top. Pedroia hit a 2 run double in the 5th to tie the game at 4-4.
I know Pedroia's been getting the "MVP" chants, but Youkilis had 11 RBI, has played two positions (three if you count his abbreviated outfield stint), and batted everywhere in the top of the lineup.
The Sox can now use the remaining 5 games to get the rotation aligned, give players like Papelbon and Ortiz some rest, and get ready to play some October baseball. There also needs to be some roster decisions for the postseason. More on that later.
Oh, and the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention last night.
Fausto Carmona vs. Paul Byrd tonight.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Patrice Bergeron suited up for the Bruins for the first time in nearly 11 months last night. He did not disappoint. He tallied a goal and three assists as the Bruins began their preseason campaign against Montreal in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Bruins beat the Habs 8-3. Linemate Marco Sturm had two goals and two assists. Youngster Vladimir Sobotka added two goals of his own.
You can't really take much away from a preseason hockey game, especially when goalies are changed so frequently. But it's still hockey, and it's still the Montreal Canadiens. The 2nd period, for instance, saw 34 penalty minutes given out, including a pair of fighting majors. 54 more penalty minutes were dished out in the 3rd, among them were four fighting majors and a game misconduct for Andrew Ference.
It would have been nice to actually see this game on television, or even hear it on the radio. Not for the score, but for the fights.
The Bruins continue their preseason tonight in New Brunswick as they take on the Islanders.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mike Dembeck
12 men left on base, 7 men left in scoring position, a 2 out baserunning blunder at 3rd, a rarely seen stretch of wildness from Beckett, and so on. The Red Sox had ample opportunity to win last night's game and clinch a playoff berth. They also would have stayed 1.5 behind Tampa Bay in the division.
Maybe they threw the game so they could clinch Thursday night when I'm there.
Eventual Cy Young winner Cliff Lee takes the mound for Cleveland tonight. He's 22-2 with a 2.41 ERA. He opposes Tim Wakefield, who has struggled mightily in 2 of his last 3 starts.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Monday, September 22, 2008
Last week's victory over the Jets reminded fans of 2001. This week's loss to the Dolphins reminds me of 2002. That was a year of inconsistencies. A defense that held the Jets to 7 points one game, then allowed New York to score 30. An offense that put up 44 on the Jets in week 2, then scraped by to get 17 in week 16.
Both the offense and defense were flat yesterday. Matt Cassel didn't do much that helped the Dolphins. But he didn't do much to help the Patriots. The Pats' first drive started with excellent field position at the Miami 49, but went 3 and out. The second drive went as deep as the Miami 7, but two sacks and an interception resulted in no red zone points, which is inexcusable. So instead of being up 6-0 or 10-0, the game was scoreless, and Miami remained confident.
The defense struggled with big plays all day. Pennington had 4 passes of 20+ yards. And we all know what Ronnie Brown did (4 rushing TDs, 1 passing TD, and a 62 yard touchdown run that sealed the game in the 4th).
The Pats visited the red zone again at the start of the 2nd quarter, but only came away with 3 points.
Give credit to Miami. They played well on defense, pressuring Cassel (sacking him 3 times), forcing two turnovers, and playing tight in the red zone. Pennington had a superb day, throwing 17 for 20, and the Dolphins ran for 216 yards on 36 carries (6.0 YPC).
So the 21 game regular season winning streak is over. But there were 2 playoff losses mixed in there, and Pats fans know what the REAL 21 game win streak was all about back in '03 and '04.
The Patriots lost at home for the first time since November 12, 2006. They had a 15 game home win streak.
The 2-1 Pats are now 2nd in the AFC East to the 3-0 Bills. The last time the Patriots weren't in 1st place was October 18, 2003.
Thankfully, the bye week should get things sorted out in Foxborough. There will be plenty of film for the team to review before playing San Francisco in 2 weeks.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
The Sox will be playing at least one extra game this season, as they clinched at least a Wild Card tie yesterday. They only need to win one more game to clinch. Or the Yankees could lose a game for the Sox to win the Wild Card. The AL East title is also a possibility, as the Rays are only 1.5 games ahead.
Daisuke had one of his best starts of the season, going 7 innings, allowing 2 hits, and 2 walks. It's the first time he's gone 7 innings since August 29th.
Pedroia had an RBI and a double, his 52nd double of the season, which leads the Majors.
Ortiz hit a 2 run shot. In his last 6 games, Papi had 4 homeruns, and 10 RBI. He already has 21 RBI in September.
The Sox return to Fenway tonight to start a 4 game series with Cleveland. Zach Johnson (0-3, 6.35 ERA) faces Josh Beckett. Beckett has allowed 2 runs in his last 19 innings.
The Yankees don't play tonight. Tampa Bay is at Baltimore.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, J.P. Moczulski
Friday, September 19, 2008
The Red Sox can clinch the Wild Card Saturday thanks to a 4-3 win over Toronto and an 11-1 loss by Minnesota. Paul Byrd had a Paul Byrd kind of evening, 6 innings, 3 earned runs. And get this, the bullpen pitched three SCORELESS innings. That's how you win 1 run ballgames.
Paul Byrd solidified his case to be the #4 pitcher in the Sox playoff rotation. He's gone 5+ innings in all 7 of his starts with Boston, and gone 6+ innings 6 times. That kind of consistent inning eating is what you want out of a #4 starter.
The Red Sox probably should have scored more than 4 runs. They had 9 hits and 5 walks to work with, but rarely came up with the big hit, or a few smaller hits in a row. 10 men left on base, 5 left in scoring position.
If the Twins lose Saturday, the Yankees lose, and the Red Sox win, at the very least the Red Sox will be the Wild Card winners.
But winning might be a tall task. A good pitcher's duel is on the slate for Saturday afternoon, as 15-5 Jon Lester faces 18-11 Roy Halladay.
AP Photo/The Canadian Press, J.P. Moczulski
There had been a slim (weird using that word here) possibility of Colon being used out of the bullpen in the playoffs as a long reliever. And in an emergency, he may have started a game. But I don't think he liked the prospects of working with the possibility of no results. I mean, why work when you can stay at home, eat Doritos, and order pants from a special catalog?
So he's suspended without pay for the rest of the year.
The year-long Colon saga was fun, because it drew out the uber-optimists in Red Sox Nation. These guys/gals have been fans for 5 years, when everything's been hunky dory. They don't remember the days of bad luck, injuries, neverending rehabs, and Darren Lewis. These people not only thought Colon would stay healthy, but that he'd be healthy enough to win 15 games for the Sox!!! HA!
Colon's Red Sox career:
7 starts, 39 innings pitched, 4 wins, 2 losses, 3.92 ERA, 27 strikeouts, 10 walks.
Overpaid, overrated, and mediocre. Is there any better representative of the 21st century Yankees than Kevin Brown?
The Bombers traded for Brown after the 2003 season. Desperate for pitching, the Yanks were more than willing to pick up the $31.4 million owed Brown for two more seasons of work. Hell, they even threw in some cash to sweeten the deal for the Dodgers.
New York got 14 wins and 13 losses out of Brown, to go with a 4.95 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP, and only 205.1 innings. That wouldn't be a bad SINGLE season, for a #4 pitcher making $2 to $4 million. But not two seasons for a guy making $15.7M a year.
Brown's biggest disappointment was in the 2004 ALCS. He was one of the biggest contributors to the Red Sox miracle comeback. In Game 3, he allowed 4 runs in 2 innings, but was saved by the Yankees' 19 run offensive onslaught. He wasn't so fortunate in Game 7...
For it was Kevin Brown that allowed 5 runs to start Game 7. It was Kevin Brown who gave up a 2 run David Ortiz bomb in the 1st. It was Kevin Brown, who loaded the bases for Johnny Damon's 2nd inning Grand Slam.
Red Sox fans owe a debt of gratitude to Kevin Brown, for being such a big part of recent Yankee failure. Brown was 14-9 in 2003, with a 2.39 ERA. But when he came to New York, he became a failure.
Thanks, Kevin. We couldn't have done it without you.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"I just know he’s not Tom Brady."
"You treat him like you treat a backup. How do you prepare for a backup? He don’t get that many snaps, right? So you throw the kitchen sink at him. that’s what we’re going to do."
"It’ll be good to go out there and get our first victory."
It's one thing to be confident. It's another thing to be cocky. And it's a whole other thing to be cocky on an 0-2 team. A team that was 1-15 last season.
Hopefully this year, Porter will play the role of Anthony Smith. Those at that game last season will remember the chants of "Guarantee" as Smith's mug was flashed on the jumbotron.
September 16th, a 1-1 game between two teams tied for first in the AL East. Bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, 1 out. Yet the visiting team didn't have their best reliever on the mound? Why? Why was Jonathan Papelbon milling around the bullpen and not on the mound.
With the bases loaded and 1 out, you want a strikeout pitcher out there. Papelbon is the most prolific K-man on the team, striking out 10.13 batters every 9 innings, or 1.13 every inning. Masterson, on the other hand, has struck out 6.91 batters every 9 innings.
I don't have to deploy an armada of statistics to prove to you that Papelbon is more likely than Masterson to get out of that jam. So why wasn't he used?
They must think he's tired. He's given up 6 runs in his last 3 outings, and only struck out 1 in that stretch. He's relying more and more on his fastball. He's not throwing his slider for strikes. He's falling behind in counts, or struggling to stay ahead in them.
We've seen something like this before back in 2006. Papelbon was overworked, and broke down in September. This season, thanks to the lacklusterness of Okajima, Delcarmen, and the rest of the pen; Papelbon has been used too often.
Here's a chart comparing the wear and tear on Papelbon in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Ext Out = Extended Outings (Appearances of 1.1 innings or more). All stats are totals at the end of August:
The Sox haven't abused Papelbon like they did in 2006, but they haven't been as conservative with him as they were in 2007. Now I think they're worried that he'll be ineffective in October, like he was ineffective in September of '06.
You can't blame Francona for the overuse of Papelbon in 2008. What choice did he have? Okajima took a lot of the slack in 2007, but he's been mediocre at best in '08. Delcarmen hasn't stepped up, and neither have any of the other relievers. The starters are also having difficulty going deep into games.
So in the 11 remaining regular season games, don't expect to see much Papelbon. He'll be used in 3 out save situations, but shouldn't be brought in to get 4 outs. I also wouldn't be surprised if they avoid pitching him on back-to-back days.
Without Papelbon, the Red Sox have little chance to do damage in the playoffs. He gave the Sox 10.2 scoreless innings in the 2007 postseason, including 4.1 innings and 3 saves in the World Series. And the bullpen is even thinner in '08, so we need him healthy and strong.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Their new ballpark will be bigger (albeit with slightly fewer seats), with luxury boxes and all the modern amenities of a new stadium. And unlike the original Yankee Stadium, it will be owned by the team, not the City of New York.
But the city and state are still footing the bill for it, at least most of the $1.3 billion price tag. An estimated $550 to $850 million in subsidies from the financially strapped city and state governments of New York will go to help build the new Yankee Stadium. And since the Yankees own the new ballpark, that money is as good as gone.
According to the Westchester Democrat, the Yankees quietly threatened to leave New York in order to secure this massive chunk of public financing.
The Yankees raked in $327 million in revenues last year. That number could nearly double once the new Stadium and its luxury boxes open in 2009. With this kind of present and future cashflow, the Yankees could have easily financed their new ballpark on their own, with the help of a few business loans which would be quickly paid off.
But why pay for something when you can squeeze the city and state in order to get it for free?
I'm all for governments supporting their sports teams. Philadelphia built new facilities for the Eagles just a few years ago. But the city owns that stadium. Massachusetts improved infrastructure around the new Gillette Stadium. But the cost of that paled in comparison to the price Bob Kraft paid to build the actual stadium with his own money.
The state of New York will have an estimated $6.4 billion budget deficit next year. But the Yankees don't care. They have a new Yankee Stadium, financed to a large extent by the taxpayers of New York, and the team will pocket ALL the revenues it generates.
Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports
Crain's New York Business.com
The Sox hadn't won a game in Tropicana Field in nearly a year (September 22nd, 2007). But Scott Kazmir had absolutely nothing last night. The Sox hit 6 homeruns, 4 of them off Kazmir in his 3 innings. The Rays, for their part, hit 3 homers of their own.
Every Sox starter got a hit, except Lowrie, who walked 3 times. Jason Bay hit his 30th RBI of the season. Matsuzaka had a typical Dice-K start, throwing 101 pitches through 5 innings and getting win #17.
Weird stat: 4 of Akinori Iwamura's 6 homeruns this season have come off Red Sox pitching.
The Twins lost, so the Red Sox also have a 7 game cushion in the Wild Card.
Josh Beckett (12-9, 4.10 ERA) faces Andy Sonnanstine (13-7, 4.47). Beckett's allowed 1 earned run in his last two starts. Sonnanstine held the Sox to an unearned run in his last start, a 7 inning Tampa Bay victory (he got a no decision).
A win tonight, and the Red Sox would have sole possession of first place for the first time since June 28th.
AP Photo/Mike Carlson
Monday, September 15, 2008
We won though, and Coach Tony took us all out for pizza (YAY!). Adam got the last slice, which made me sad. Tony said "You threw two interceptions and Adam won us the game, sorry little buddy." I didn't cry, but I locked myself in the Chuck E Cheese bathroom for 3 hours, pouting.
But ESPN cheered me up this morning. They reminded everyone that I didn't get to play in the preseason because of an owie. And they focused on how I brought the Colts back from 15 whole points down, even though it was my fault we were down by 15.
I was happy we played in Minnesota. They have a dome too! I don't like playing sports in the outside, especially in chilly places like Minnesota and Indiana. Brrrrrrrrr! Football was meant to be played away from bad weather with sunshine and short sleeves and rainbows!
Looking at that picture reminds me to ask Bill Polian to rename the Colts. We should be the Indianapolis Unicorns. Colts are mean. Unicorns are magical!
Well, I have to go, it's Monday which means the team is watching film. Last week it was The Muppets Take Manhattan. This week I hope it's Toy Story 2. I love Buzz Lightyear! I've dressed up as Buzz the last 6 Halloweens.
After that I have 15 commercials to film. But you know my normal Monday routine.
Goodbye, diary! I'll miss you!
To infinity, and beyond!
But neither of these teams have impressed. The Chargers defense looked godawful yesterday, giving up 39 points to Denver. The Colts may have won their game against Minnesota, but they they played like shit.
The Steelers are legit. 10-6 wins might not make much for highlight reels, but that's how Pittsburgh wins games when they're playing well. They threw 19 times and ran 31 times last night. That's a good indicator that they're on their game.
The Bills could prove troublesome, especially once the weather turns in Buffalo (which happens alarmingly quick, believe me). The 0-2 Jaguars don't look like the "team nobody wants to play." The Titans look solid even without Vince Young. But that's about it for impressive AFC teams.
The Pats have a not-so-secret weapon on their side: the schedule. Going by last week's power rankings, they get to play the 32nd ranked Rams, 30th ranked Raiders, 28th ranked Dolphins (twice), and the 27th ranked 49ers.
A friend of mine put it best:
Mangenius + Favre - Brady = 10 points and still lose
What Patriot fan wasn't reminded of 2001 during this contest? The 19-10 score looks like something you'd see from that season. Matt Cassel's stat-line was eerily similar to Tom Brady's typical day 7 seasons ago. 16/23, 165 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT. And when was the last time a Patriot kicker had 4 field goals?
Matt Cassel didn't look great. He didn't look bad. He was a bit unpolished at times, which is to be expected for someone making their first NFL start. But he didn't play like the "career backup" some have labelled him. He looked like a talented guy that's played behind two Heisman winners and a Hall of Famer.
I'll admit, it was frustrating at times. Last year, the Pats scored at will, and could do so in one big play. That wasn't true Sunday afternoon.
But with the offense becoming less explosive, the defense has stepped up and become much more exciting. How many times can you remember the Pats forcing 3 and outs last year? The defense had four 3 and outs yesterday.
They pressured Favre, did a good job in coverage, bent, but didn't break.
Ellis Hobbs had a great game, as did Deltha O'Neal. Seymour and Adalius did a good job of pressuring Favre. It was Adalius' double-sack of Favre and Jones at the end that sealed the victory.
We learned two very important things Sunday:
#1: The Jets still suck. Their coach is a wannabe. Brett Favre isn't a savior. The Bills are more of a threat than the team from New Jersey.
#2: The Patriots DON'T suck. Matt Cassel isn't a bum. The defense is making big plays. Bill Belichick is an amazing coach (although we already knew that).
Dolphins @ Patriots, next Sunday.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
The Red Sox and Rays meet 6 times in 11 days, and the Sox took round 1 thanks to a brilliant start from Papelbon, and a 4 out save from Papelbon. The Sox also set the record for most consecutive sellouts at 456.
All the scoring came in the 1st inning. Ortiz, Youkilis, and Bay each drove in a run, Bay's RBI came via a solo homer.
Lester was the star of the evening, throwing 7.2 scoreless innings, striking out 9. He got into a jam in the 8th, which is why Papelbon came in early. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Papelbon struck out Rocco Baldelli.
In the 8th inning this year, which is typically a crucial situation if Papelbon is pitching, the Sox closer has held batters to a 1 for 14 clip, striking them out 7 times.
The victory cuts Tampa Bay's AL East lead to half a game. The Sox are 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Rays have lost 4 straight, and have yet to win at Fenway Park this season.
The Twins were idle last night, so the Sox have a 7 game cushion in the Wild Card race. The Yankees are losing 11-1 as I write this. They really do suck.
Tuesday night, 11-6 Scott Kazmir takes on Daisuke Matsuzaka in a battle of sub 3.00 ERAs.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Monday, September 08, 2008
As you now know, Tom Brady's knee was injured in the 1st quarter of yesterday's 17-10 win over Kansas City. Still no official word on Brady's prognosis, but it doesn't look good. He will probably miss the rest of the season.
By the way, the hit was clean. It's football, injuries happen. Some people need to get over that fact.
Cassel did an admirable job filling in, throwing 13 of 18 for 152 yards and a touchdown. Then again, it was against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he did have Randy Moss to throw to. Moss had his 9th 100+ yard game with the Pats.
The M & M boys did a good job out of the backfield. Morris had 53 yards on 10 carries, Maroney had 51 yards on 10 carries. Maroney becomes a much better back when he splits carries with someone else, as was evidenced yesterday.
The defense did well, but again, the whole Kansas City thing.
I think I'm taking the Brady injury pretty well. He's got the 4th most consecutive starts in NFL history, so it's amazing it's been this long without a major injury. The season isn't over. Cassel probably won't be like Kurt Warner in '99, or Brady in '01; but he does have a vast array of weaponry on that offense. And if the defense performs well, this team can still win.
So let's allow the haters out there to celebrate. They can celebrate the "end" of the Patriots' era in the NFL. And maybe they'll be partially right. Maybe this team will wilt without Brady. Then again, maybe not. And how awesome would it be to win after the haters already started celebrating?
Patriots @ Jets, next Sunday, 1 PM.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Friday, September 05, 2008
What, Me Worry?
I think the trauma of Super Bowl XLII is wreaking havoc on Patriot fans. I heard one call WEEI yesterday and claim that Stephen Gostkowski "cost them some games" last year. Beyond the idiocy of the opinion was the fact that he used the plural 'games' when the Patriots lost just ONE game.
Let's face it, the Patriots don't have that mystique about them anymore. Back in 2001, 2003, and 2004, they would take on anyone, often as an underdog or slim favorite, and win. They were invincible in the playoffs.
But the last three seasons they've been very beatable. They've found ways to lose in the postseason instead of vice versa. In January 2007, they blew a 21-6 half-time lead in Indy, allowing 22 second half points. Brady's two picks against Denver abruptly ended the 2005 season.
This is why I'm not worried about Brady's foot, or any of the other regular season malarkey or hype. The regular season seems pedestrian now, at least to me. If Brady plays in 13 or more games, is there any doubt that the Pats will make the playoffs?
The AFC East is still a relatively weak division. Buffalo and Miami have improved a bit, but remain mediocre at best. The Jets acquired Favre, but the mainstream media have conveniently forgotten how much he sucked in 2005 and 2006. Dallas is the sexy pick to win it all, but Tony Romo hasn't won a big game in his life, and Wade Phillips is a shell of a coach. San Diego and Indianapolis will be good, but still beatable, just like last year.
I'm not saying the Patriots will walk to a divisional title. No NFL team, not even Miami, is a total pushover. But I'm not going to get excited or worried until January. That's when the Patriots separated themselves from the rest of the League in '01, '03' and '04. And that's when they've collapsed in '05, '06, and '07.
So even if Brady doesn't play and/or the Chiefs win on Sunday, it still won't be panic time.
Season prediction: 14-2, AFC East Champions, then God only knows in the postseason.
Week 1 prediction: New England 31, Kansas City 13.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I've said it before, I'll say it again, "luck" is the most overused word in sports. It should almost never appear in a game summary. But yesterday afternoon, the Sox were helped by a bit of luck. More accurately, they were helped by a bit of rock.
Daisuke had a typical Daisuke start. He had thrown 100 pitches after 5 innings, only went 6, allowed 4 runs (3 earned, which is a high amount for him), walked 4, allowed 4 hits, and the Sox bailed him out of a loss. His 16-2 record this year is thanks in large to the offense supporting him, and the bullpen now blowing his leads.
Baltimore's Lance Cormier and Dennis Safarte combined for 6 innings to start the game. And they shut the Sox down. Cormier allowed 2 hits and no walks in his 3 innings. Safarte only allowed 1 hit and struck out 5.
Pedroia put the Sox on the board in the 7th with a solo shot. He was 3 for 4, raising his average to .333.
Kotsay hit a big two run triple in the 8th to tie the game at 4-4. He was eventually stranded as Jasons Bay and Varitek struck out.
The bottom of the 9th was bizarre. Cora led off with a single through the hole into right field. Crisp bunted down the 1st base line. The ball was spinning foul, then it hit a small rock or pebble or divot or something, change direction, and wound up fair. Not only that, the confusion allowed Crisp to reach. Then Ellsbury came up to bunt. It was one of the worst bunts I've seen this season, up the 3rd base line, hit hard enough so the pitcher had a play at 3rd. Jim Miller grabbed it, threw to 3rd, but the throw was way off, sailing into left field. Cora scampered home for a 5-4 win.
I wouldn't say the Sox were "lucky" in this game. But they were fortunate. And at the same time, they had put themselves in the position to be helped by good fortune.
This was the 5th series in a row that the Red Sox have won. But it was also their first sweep in that stretch.
The Sox are 21-9 (.700) since the beginning of August AND since the Ramirez trade. That includes a 10-5 record on the road.
The White Sox beat the Indians 4-2. Toronto beat the Twins 5-4. The Yankees beat the Rays 8-4. That means the Sox are 3 games out of the division, and lead the Twins by 5 games in the Wild Card.
The Sox have a 3 game trip to Texas this weekend. Mike Lowell might play Friday night, as might Kevin Youkilis. Josh Beckett is the probable starter, his opponent is Kevin Millwood.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Pedroia continued his hot streak with a 3 for 5 night, falling a triple shy of the cycle, and knocking in 5 of the Red Sox' 14 runs. His recent performance has thrust him into an MVP candidacy. For my money, Carlos Quentin is the AL MVP... so far. But if Pedroia has a few more games like last night's, that will change.
Dustin's hitting .387 since the start of August. He's hit 7 homeruns in that stretch, along with 27 RBI. He's also stolen 6 bases without getting caught. He's gotten a hit in 20 of the last 23 games. He's raised his average from .303 at the start of July and .260 in mid-June up to .330, currently the highest average in the League.
Pedroia wasn't the only one who hit last night. The Sox wound up with 20 in the "H" column. These hits came with 8 walks. Ortiz was 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles and 4 RBI. Lowrie had 2 RBI and 3 runs. Crisp also scored 3 times. 11 different Red Sox had hits, 6 had multiple hits.
Ellsbury stole his 44th base of the season. That's as many as the 1992 Red Sox stole as a team. It also puts him 10 shy of Tommy Harper's club record of 54. As a team, the Red Sox have 108 steals, which is the 3rd most in club history in the live-ball era (post 1920).
The Sox go for the sweep this afternoon as Lance Cormier faces Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Sox haven't lost in Matsuzaka's last 6 starts.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Paul Byrd once again had a Paul Byrd kind of day, and wound up with a win, his third in a row. He went 7 innings, allowed 4 runs off 7 hits and 3 homers. The offense bailed him out with a 4 run 6th.
The Sox scored 7 runs, which is usually enough to win. But in a recurrent theme of the season, they could have easily scored more. They left the bases loaded in the 1st, and in total stranded 7 runners in scoring position and 12 total. They were given 10 walks, and tallied 8 hits.
Youkilis was back in the lineup after sitting out due to flu-like symptoms. He was 0 for 4.
Mike Lowell hopes to be back by Friday, when the Red Sox play the Rangers down in Arlington.
Dustin Pedroia's two run single in the 6th was his 184th hit of the season, a new record for Red Sox second basemen. The previous record was held by Del Pratt, who had 183 hits in 1922.
Radhames Liz (5-3, 6.95 ERA, 1.79 WHIP) faces Jon Lester tonight.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Monday, September 01, 2008
After cutting Fernando Bryant, the Patriots almost had to go out and get another defensive back. They got one of the best available in Deltha O'Neal.
O'Neal is a 9 year, 31 year old veteran. He isn't the same CB as he was on the Broncos. Then again, playing in Cincinnati has a way of changing people. He played all 16 games last year, starting 8 of them. He had 9 passes defended and 1 interception.
He's only two years removed from a Pro Bowl season in '05. If he recaptures some of that magic, the sky's the limit. And as far as the Pats go, even an old player possibly on the downslope of his career is an improvement at CB.
The Pats also claimed TE Jason Pociask and OT Mark LeVoir off waivers. Pociask was formerly with the Jets, LeVoir was claimed from the Rams.
John Sommers II/Bloomberg News
The Patriots then cut WR Chad Jackson, former 2nd round pick out of Florida. They waited until Sunday to do it, probably to prevent teams from picking him up without having to drop someone else. He was plagued by injuries, but he never seemed to live up to his potential talent. He reminded me of Bethel Johnson in that regard. But at least Bethel was willing to play special teams, and played them well.
With Jackson's talent, he was a #3 or #4 receiver on this team. But he wasn't good at adjusting, and his undrafted replacements (CJ Jones and Ray Ventrone) can do well at wideout, and even better on special teams.
My money's on Jackson ending up with the Jets. They always wind up with our leavings.
The Pats also cut safety John Lynch in a surprise move. However, that move looks like it's a bit of a trick. If the Pats cut him, play week 1, then sign him, they don't owe him any guaranteed money. He performed well in preseason games, and after being cut said: "I have no regrets about my time thus far with the Patriots." The words 'thus far' lead me to believe that he expects his time with the Patriots to continue at some point.
Matt Gutierrez was another surprise cut. An even bigger surprise was the presence of Matt Cassel on the roster. He hasn't shown anything good, in preseason or regular season games. He must practice well, or something.