Monday, March 17, 2008


Josh Beckett is said to be "progressing" and has resumed throwing once more, but he will not make the trip to Japan later this week. Terry Francona officially announced this on Sunday.

Beckett will continue playing catch, and by Thursday could be throwing off a mound again. But with an exhibition game in Japan on Friday, and two real games next Tuesday and Wednesday; there simply isn't enough time to get him in good enough form to pitch in a meaningful game. Moreover, the 14 hour flight and general pain in the ass of going to Tokyo is unnecessary for a pitcher recovering from a back problem.

However, another Sox frontline starter may make the trip. Daisuke Matsuzaka's wife Tomoyo gave birth to a boy Saturday morning. This frees up Daisuke to make the trip to Japan.

There's no official announcement as to who will be starting the two games against Oakland in the Tokyo Dome. However, the logical choices now seem to be Lester and Matsuzaka. Wakefield is also a possibility, but he has said he'll be starting one of the exhibition games over the weekend.

Speaking of Wakefield, he threw 5 perfect innings against minor leaguers from the Cincinnati Reds' organization. Granted, it was a spring training game against AAA players, but 5 perfect innings is still impressive.

Extra Bases


This is the week in which copy machines in offices across America will be working overtime, and the Todds from Sales will be collecting money for "the pool." Every March, the randomness, excitement, and difficult to predict NCAA tournament brings out the latent gambler in all of us. Just like those grids on Super Bowl Sunday.

But why not photocopy brackets for the NIT, and the new Collegiate Basketball Invitational? Why not collect $5 for the women's bracket, or the Frozen Four? Half the people in bracket pools aren't college basketball fans anyway, so just because it's Virginia Commonwealth vs. Alabama-Birmingham and not Kansas vs. Georgetown doesn't make it a less exciting thing to bet on. The games aren't as good, but the gambling action is just as good, if not better.

Here are the New England teams playing in the post-season:

NCAA Championship Tournament:
The Huskies are the 4th seed in the Western Region. But they'll be playing their fist games in Tampa. They open up against San Diego on Friday. If they win, they'll face either Drake or Western Kentucky. UCLA is the #1 seed they're grouped with. Not surprisingly, UConn got a somewhat favorable seeding and placement. I hate UConn and hope they lose to Drake.

National Invitation Tournament:
The Minutemen went 21-10 and finished 3rd in the Atlantic 10, which earned them a #2 seed in the NIT. They'll host Stone Cold Stephen F. Austin University on Tuesday. Their grouping doesn't have a name, but if it did, it would be called "How the Mighty Have Fallen Region." It includes Maryland and Syracuse.

Rhode Island
The Rams had a promising beginning but couldn't take the big steps to get to the Big Dance. So they're stuck in the NIT as a 6 seed, facing Creighton on Tuesday night. URI began the season 14-1, with their only loss being a heartbreaker to Boston College. Losing close games would be a trend for the Rams, and they ended up 9th in the A-10 (which isn't as bad as it sounds, there are 14 teams in the A-10).

Collegiate Basketball Invitational:
The Brown Bears finished 2nd in the Ivy League and 19-9 overall. They're part of the 16 team CBI and will play Ohio University on Tuesday in Athens...Athens, OH.

Not listed is Boston College. That's not too surprising, but when you consider that 113 D-I teams made it into a post-season tournament, it really shows how much of a rebuilding season this was for the Eagles. Of the 12 teams in the ACC, 8 made it to a tournament (4 in the NCAA, 3 in the NIT, 1 in the CBI).

As a New England sports fan, I'm a little disappointed by these fields of tournaments. I'll root for URI in the NIT, but it's difficult to watch an entire NIT game and pretend to care. And UConn...well...the less said about them the better.

Remember the days when BC and/or UMass were forces in the NCAA tournament? Remember when underdog hopefuls like Vermont and Holy Cross would capture the imagination of New England for 2 hours? Now look what we're stuck with...UConn. Makes me sick.

College Basketball Invitational
National Invitation Tournament