Saturday, May 30, 2009


The Jays were riding a 9 game losing streak, and had a winless pitcher on the mound. The Sox still couldn't beat them.

Wakefield's hot-streak seems to have come to an end. 11 earned runs in his last 2 starts (10.2 innings for a 9.28 ERA). He carried the team for a while, but he's come back to earth.

The Sox managed 11 hits and 2 walks off Janssen, but never scored more than 1 run at a time. Drew hit a homer, with nobody on base. But two double plays grounded into, 8 men left on base, and 5 of those left in scoring position hurt. What killed was Ortiz going 0 for 4, leaving 3 men in scoring position.

For me, it's getting very hard to endure Ortiz for much longer. He's a black hole in the lineup, sucking up all the offensive potential.

Man of the Game:
Scott Rolen - 2 for 4, 2 doubles, 2 RBI (both with 2 outs)

Wakefield: 0.5
Ortiz: 0.3
Pedroia: 0.2

Brad Penny faces Brian Tallet this afternoon.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Darren Calabrese

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Matsuzaka and Lester may be struggling, but it's starting to look like Josh Beckett is back on his game. 7 innings pitched, only 3 hits allowed, and 8 strikeouts. That's only 1 earned run in his last 15 innings, and only 3 in his last 22 innings. 5 straight quality starts for Beckett, who is now 3-0 in May.

You know Beckett's doing well when you use the word "only" about a dozen times in a paragraph.

Jason Varitek continues to be solid on offense. It doesn't belong in the 3, 4, 5, or even 6 slot; but he's contributing. And actually, with Ortiz and the crapfest at the bottom of the lineup, maybe Tek belongs in the 6 spot. 2 more homeruns this afternoon and he now has 10. He's already more than halfway to his RBI total from 2008, and only 3 HRs shy of his total from last year.

The Man of the Game:
This is tough because Varitek and Beckett played so well. But I'm gonna give it to Beckett this time. When in doubt, go with pitching.

The Sox go to Toronto this weekend to face the slipping Blue Jays. Wakefield faces Casey Janssen Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Jim Mone


Daisuke Matsuzaka's 4 wild pitches tied an 80 year old Red Sox record for most in a game. The 6 total wild pitches thrown tied a Major League record.

7-10. That's the combined record of Beckett, Lester, and Matsuzaka. All I'm going to say about Dice-K is that his starts should be shown to detainees at Guantanamo Bay as a form of coercive interrogation. So many deep counts, so little aggression.

And I never want to see him pitch in the WBC again.

But you know what? You score 2 runs, you're going to lose 95% of the time. The Sox lineup saw sporadic production from Ellsbury, Youkilis, Lowell, and Bay last night. But Ortiz, Kottaras, Green, and Drew all did nothing.

Man of the Game:
Kevin Slowey - 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER

Daisuke: 0.4
Delcarmen: 0.2
Ortiz: 0.1
Kottaras: 0.1
Green: 0.1
Drew: 0.1

Josh Beckett faces Anthony Swarzak this afternoon at 1.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


After ILB Tyrone McKenzie ended his season with an ACL tear, the Pats desperately needed to add some depth at inside linebacker. They did that today by signing former Lion Paris Lenon. Lenon is 31 and led Detroit with 121 tackles last year.

While leading the Lions in tackles isn't too remarkable, at least he can tackle. Last year, watching Bruschi and Vrabel miss tackles almost drove me back to smoking.

Boston Herald


Single, flyout, infield single, single, groundout, walk, homerun, groundout. That was the play-by-play from last night's bottom of the 5th.

Jon Lester is 3-5 with a 6.07 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Opponents are batting .307 off him. But what's strange is that he's striking out more batters than he did in '08, and he's also walking fewer. So why are his performances so much worse now than last season?

He's missing up in the zone. So when opponents do get hits, they're more often extra basehits, and homeruns. Homers have been killing Lester, and turning 1 run innings in to 3 run rallies. He's allowed 11 already. He only let up 14 in 2008.

I don't want to say that Lester had a "lucky" 2008 season, or that it was a fluke. "Luck" is far too broad a word to use. But I do want to use a poker term to describe his 2008 success and his 2009 struggles: variance.

A good poker player will win money over the course of thousands of hands, just like a bad one will lose money. That's why there are professional poker players. But over a short stretch of hands, good luck and bad luck become more and more apparent. You can get a hot stretch of cards and make tons of money, then a cold stretch and lose tons.

Last year, Lester's overall performance was partially due to fortunate groundballs that found their way into Red Sox gloves. For instance, opponents grounded into 27 double-plays against Lester last year. This year, he's on pace to induce 12 double-plays. The Sox also had the 7th best fielding percentage in baseball, this year they rank 24th.

The Red Sox surrender 49 unearned runs in 2008. Only 3 of those were with Lester on the mound. Think about that. Lester pitched 14.5% of the Red Sox' innings last year and only allowed 6.1% of the unearned runs. Part of that is due to being a good pitcher, but part of it was good fortune.

He's not getting that good fortune anymore. It's actually the opposite. Lester is NOT a 6.07 ERA pitcher. He'll get more groundouts, and fewer bad breaks. However, he is also NOT a 3.21 ERA pitcher. At least not in the long term. Lester is a 3.75 to 4.25 ERA guy. That's not bad, but it's all too clear to me now that he's not the 2nd Ace we thought he'd be.

Of course, he's only 25, so there's plenty of potential to improve. I'm just saying that right now, he's not an Ace. In fact, not even close.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid

Friday, May 22, 2009


The Red Sox have turned Fenway Park into a fortress. They've also gotten themselves a half game out of 1st place with a sweep of the Blue Jays, the first time the Sox have ever swept a Blue Jays team that was holding 1st place.

Jacoby Elssbury's hitting streak reached 16 games with a 1 for 4 performance.

Jason Bay has hit 11 straight multi-run homeruns, tying a Red Sox record. Who the hell is the guy who looked this up? Can we get a "Real American Heroes" commercial for the dudes who look these obscure things up?

If Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, and Bay are hitting, the top of the Sox lineup becomes very, VERY fierce.

The best part of the night was seeing Jon Lester put in a quality start. 0 homeruns, that was a relief. He scattered tons of hits, but only 1 of them wasn't a single. This was Lester's first homerless start since April 24th.

Very interesting night in the Fens coming up. The Mets are in town, and Johan Santana (5-2, 1.36 ERA) squares off against a returning Daisuke Matsuzaka.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


David Ortiz's homerless streak finally ended, with a bomb to center field in the 5th. It was one of 5 homers the Sox belted, as they exploded for 8 runs. They had 10 extra basehits. Every starter had at least 1 hit.

Kevin Youkilis was 3 for 5 in his return to the Sox. There was absolutely no rust apparent, and he's now hitting .404, which would lead the League if he had more plate appearances. He has a .509 OBP to go with that.

Jason Bay knocked out his 12th homer and knocked in his 41st and 42nd RBI. That's the 2nd most in baseball.

Brad Penny was decent, if a bit lucky. He scattered 9 hits over 6.2 innings. He and the Sox were fortunate that only 2 Blue Jays came across home plate.

Ellsbury tied a Major League record with 12 putouts (catches), the most in a 9 inning game. He also extended his hit-streak to 15 games.

The Sox have played out of their minds in Fenway Park. They're 15-4 at home, and 9-12 on the road.

Man of the Game:
David Ortiz, 2/5, 2 RBI, double, homer

Jon Lester faces Robert Ray Thursday night, looking for the sweep.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola


Tim Wakefield has carried this rotation. The three supposed Aces we all thought we had have been crappy, inconsistent, or injured. Wake has been a secret weapon for the Sox, as well as clearly their best starter. I don't know how long this run will last, but I think it's important to appreciate Wakefield. It's also important to imagine this team without his help, and where we may be once this run of good pitching ends.

I fucking hate Kevin Millar. Well not him, he's fine. But I hate the pink hat love affair around him. Folks, the Sox didn't win it all in 2004 because he gave everyone Jack Daniels and said "Cowboy Up." The Sox won because of pitching. Because Derek Lowe was red hot in October. Because Pedro and Schilling came thru in the World Series. And because Keith Foulke, Alan Embree, and Mike Timlin were money.

Man of the Game:
Ummmmm, maybe Tim Wakefield? 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, brilliant.

Brad Penny takes on Brett Cecil. I've never heard of him, but he's 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, and he's a lefty, so I wouldn't look for HR #1 from Ortiz tonight.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It turns out the Bruins were fairly hurt during their series with Carolina. We already knew Andrew Ference had a serious issue, and it turns out that it was a torn groin. Phil Kessel had a torn rotator cuff and labrum. David Krejci had a problem with his hip. And Chuck Kobasew broke two of his ribs in Game 1.

Krejci, Kessel, and Ference will all require surgery. Kessel and Krejci will miss 4 to 6 months, which means missing at least the start of the 2009-2010 season.

This isn't an excuse for losing to Carolina, but it's a partial explanation. Those are three lines which lose their ferocity with injured players.

The silver lining to this is that Kessel and Krejci are both restricted free agents. Other teams may be more reluctant to give them big offer sheets (and potentially forfeit draft picks) when these guys are fresh of a surgeon's table.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


What a difficult stretch of days for sports in Boston. It's kind of sad when the Revolution tying the Colorado Rapids is the highlight of the weekend.

Mixed feelings for me tonight. From one angle, the Celtics losing both Games 6 and 7 is disappointing, and could be considered a mild choke. From the other angle, the Celtics wouldn't have had a chance to choke if Orlando had not choked so awfully before them.

In other words, both of these teams lacked a killer instinct, but someone had to win, and it was Orlando. May God have mercy on their souls after LJ23 and the Cavs kill them and their families.

So much to criticize in this one...

The officials continued to allot double the personal fouls for Dwight Howard to commit.

The bench was awful. Eddie House had 2 points. Scalabrine sucks folks. Sorry, I know he's white and looks like Ronald McDonald with a head band, but he sucks.

Glen Davis can't score 22 every night. Paul Pierce can and should. He only had 16 points, and most of those came when the game was already decided in the 4th quarter.

But when you think about it, this Celtics team wasn't going to take 4 games from Cleveland. They could have stolen one, maybe even two, but that's it. Sorry C's fans, but once the Bruins were eliminated, there wasn't going to be a parade.

Now the Red Sox can once again draw our attention, and now with even more pressure to win another title because soon it will have been more than 1 year since we last saw a Championship here.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Saturday, May 16, 2009


After going 16-6, with a 3.21 ERA last year, Jon Lester is off to a 2-4, 6.32 ERA start. And I really can't explain why. I think he was a bit on the lucky side in '08, with the number of double-play balls he induced. But that doesn't explain a near doubling of his ERA.

He's already allowed 10 homeruns. He only gave up 14 in '08. He's striking out a lot of batters, 54 so far (he had 152 total last year), but he's also giving up many more hits, and much bigger hits.

One thing is certain, the Red Sox cannot achieve postseason success with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett pitching this poorly.

The Man of the Game is Ichiro Suzuki, who was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI, a walk, and a pair of homeruns. His 2 run shot in the 6th was the game winner.

Beckett faces Garrett Olson at 10:10 Saturday night. This is Olson's first start of the season.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Friday, May 15, 2009


The Bruins choked, there's no other way to phrase it and remain true to reality. The Bruins were a more talented team than Carolina, had a chance to win Game 3 in overtime, a chance to win Game 7 in overtime, and played quite shittily in Game 4, putting themselves up against elimination.

Inconsistency and individual mistakes. I think Al Capone summarizes my thoughts and feelings on some of the individuality shown by some Bruins at some times. Not that they were out for themselves, they just thought they could do too much on their own.

The Bruins weren't ready to win this year. They had all the tools, but minimal experience and zero wisdom to properly utilize those tools. In the regular season, talent and hard work are enough to get you 100 points and be an elite team. In the playoffs, it's different. You need to dramatically minimize the damage of your own mistakes, and maximize the damage of your opponents mistakes.

How many breakaway goals did Carolina score in this series? How many did the Bruins score?

One of the Bruins' biggest regular season strengths was their power play. It became a weakness in this series. They were 2 for 27 with a man advantage. That's 7.4%. That's after logging the 4th best PP production in the regular season at 23.6%. When you include Carolina's shorthanded goal in Game 2, the B's power play looks even weaker.

Things like this are fixed by the players themselves. There's no moves that need to be made to correct the power play. It simply needs to be executed better. In the opening games of the series, the Bruins threw all their PP tricks at Carolina, and the Hurricanes answered. When Zdeno and Wideman shot from the point, the Canes blocked the shots. When the B's dumped the puck into the zone, Cam Ward played it (that happened far too many times in this series).

The Bruins were lost on the power play, and on offense in general. And it was offense that cost them this series. Tim Thomas and his playoff leading GAA tell us that. They got too fancy on breakaways, often not even getting a shot off. They vacated the crease much too often, not capitalizing on rebounds and deflections.

But they will learn, and they are learning. In retrospect, did we really think a team of kids would win the Cup? The leading goal scorer - Phil Kessel - is 21. Milan Lucic is 20. David Krejci is 23. Blake Wheeler is 22. Chuck Kobasew is 27. Mark Stuart is 25. Dennis Wideman is 26. Byron Bitz is 24. Patrice Bergeron is 23!!! It seems like he's been around forever.

This isn't a one and done team. And no key players are unrestricted free agents. Kessel and Krejci are both restricted free agents, as is Bitz. But the depth of this team is so outstanding, that even losing one of these promising forwards won't be the end of the world. Mark Recchi will be gone, but Marco Sturm will be back.

How good will Byron Bitz be as a full time player in 09-10? How about Matt Hunwick? Lucic is only going to get better and better. Bergeron has become an excellent defensive player and penalty killer. The Providence Bruins are in the AHL final four. Tuukka Rask will be the best backup goalie in the NHL next year.

This season can be deemed a failure, and that's understandable. I'd certainly say that an exit like this for a team as talented as the Bruins merits an F. But this team's going to be motivated next year. For many of them, they tripled their total playoff experience this year. They're going to be focused.

I've got some friends who live in Vegas. When the odds come out for the 2010 Cup, I'm putting $500 on the Bruins to win the whole damn thing.


We all know Scott Walker did not deserve to take the ice at TD BankNorth Garden. He's not a dirty player, but he lost his cool, and was never punished. He didn't belong in Game 7, and yet the NHL allowed him to be the hero. Mister Walker, do not ever dare come to Norwood, Massachusetts. And the same goes for Mister Bettman, or any other NHL official. Please, for the sake of my clean criminal record, do not come to Norwood.

But that's an easy excuse, isn't it? Quite frankly, I hope Scott Walker contracts sine flu and croaks in the next two days, but this game went beyond the temper-tantrum throwing cunt from Cambridge, Ontario.

Power plays, that was the Bruins' strength in the regular season, and weakness in this series. There's no ifs ands or buts about it. The Bruins looked lost with a man advantage in this series. Due credit to the Hurricanes, for their penalty kill. But due criticism to the Bruins for not making the power play unit productive.

The good news is that this is a young team. There are some restricted free agents, and there's sure to be some off-season drama. Nevertheless, the core of the team should remain intact. I don't really feel like writing much else.

We shall return.

And we shall win.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


No Dustin Pedroia. No Kevin Youkilis. A homerless David Ortiz. A struggling young starter against a veteran hurler riding a hot streak. The Red Sox weren't supposed to win this game, on paper. But solid bullpen work, and timely hitting stole yet another victory for the Sox.

Without key guys in the lineup like Youk and Pedroia (and essentially without Ortiz), the Sox needed guys like Drew, Bay, and Varitek to come up with big hits. And they got them. How scared must opposing pitchers be when they face Jason Bay in the 7th inning or later?

It was also nice to see Justin Masterson work out of a few jams, instead of folding. Unlike Clay Buchholz - who has better stuff than Masterson so far - Justin seems to have a better attitude to be a MLB starting pitcher. I don't think he'll ever rise above #3 in a rotation, but he can be a solid bottom of the rotation kind of guy, and I'm glad the Sox have him.

JD Drew is the Man of the Game, he was 2 for 4 with a solo homerun. He scored the winning run in the 9th on Varitek's double.

The Sox also officially placed Youkilis on the DL. But he could make a rehab appearance for AAA Pawtucket this weekend.

4-1 Tim Wakefield faces 3-0 Matt Palmer tonight at 10.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Matt A. Brown

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


How nice was it to have a game end without a defenseman having his orbital bone examined? And how infuriating was it to see Scott Walker get an assist on Carolina's first goal? Just one more thought on Walker before getting to the Bruins' Game 6 victory:

With 5 minutes or less remaining, an instigator penalty carries an automatic suspension. This can be reviewed by the League office, and revoked. But the appeals process in hockey, all sports, and all judicial systems, is in place to fix MISTAKES. So the NHL basically said that their on ice officials made a MISTAKE in giving Walker an instigator penalty. But then what was the $2500 fine for?

Speaking of Walker, how about the game Aaron Ward put in? 2 hits, 2 blocked shots, a takeaway, a +1, and 20 minutes WITHOUT A VISOR. Unbelievable what some of this big Canadians can do, even when their bones are mush.

There was no revenge on Scott Walker, and rightfully so. The Bruins' objective in Game 6 was to win, not to hurt Walker. That being said, I'm sure Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic would have relished a chance to knock Walker's block off, had one presented itself.

Tim Thomas is the best goalie in the NHL. He's allowed 2 goals in the last 6 periods of hockey. Carolina had 33 shots, some of which were extremely good, and Thomas stopped 31 of them. His counterpart Cam Ward stopped 15 of 19 shots. Which is more impressive?

Milan Lucic was genetically engineered for postseason hockey. His combination of strength and skill truly is Neelyesque, and some day he might surpass Cam. Milan's set-up of Savard's goal in the 2nd was brilliant, physically and mentally.

After Carolina iced the puck, Lucic knowingly took advantage of a tired set of Hurricanes. NBA style, he drove with the puck, across the high slot, up a seem, drew the defense, and found Savard near the goal mouth. It was such a smart play, knowing how exhausted Carolina was at the time, and it was perfectly executed, a tape-to-tape pass between 3 or 4 bodies and sticks. Brilliant.

How nice of an acquisition was Mark Recchi? Not only does he bring experience, but he can score. 3rd goal of the postseason for Recchi.

It was also nice seeing Montador get a goal, and he had a pretty solid game. He's looked awful in this series at times, but he was a strength in Game 6.

Byron Bitz, wow. He was Providence Bruin a few weeks ago. Then a 4th liner. Now he's out there with Krejci and Ryder, and he's causing a ruckus. He was born in Saskatoon, but his current residence is the crease.

All 4 Bruins goals either came from players near the net, or were dramatically aided by players near the net. Recchi crashed the net on the 1st goal, Bitz screened for Montador on goal #2, Savard was near the net for the 3rd score, and Kobasew crashed the net for the 4th one.

Carolina put up a good fight in the 3rd, and they were helped by some lazy and dispirited Bruins' defensive work. The Canes outshot the B's 14 to 4 in the 3rd, and that's inexcusable. We can ask Martin Brodeur and the Devils how dangerous it is to ease up on Carolina.

David Krejci put together his best game of the series since the opener. It was nice to see the 2nd line get back on the scoresheet, and Bitz deserves some credit for that. But Krejci and Ryder played their parts.

Bergeron, Kobasew, and Recchi had a very good night. Recchi was caught offside 3 times on rushes, which is a pet peeve of mine (See: Blake Wheeler), but scoring the opening goal in Games 5 and 6 more than makes up for that.

Game 7 is Thursday night at 8 PM, and it's on NESN.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker


This was why Orlando never scared me. The Magic have little to no killer instinct. They're good, but when they have their opponent down, they let up. When they themselves are down, they let up. The Celtics could very easily be eliminated by now, considering Davis' buzzer-beater in Game 4, and this comeback in Game 5. But the Magic don't know how to finish off a good team, and the Celtics know a thing or two about playoff comebacks.

The Celtics were down by 10 with 4:43 left. Some solid defense, and sloppy Orlando offense, allowed for the comeback. Davis, Perkins, Pierce, Allen, and House all hit big baskets.

Glen Davis led the Celtics in scoring (how often has that sentence been typed?) with 22 points. Pierce was just shy of a triple-double with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. Ray Allen started slow, but finally hit some threes, and finished with 13 points. Rondo had an off night with only 6 points and 5 assists, he was 3/12 from the field. It's always nice to win when a key player has a bad game.

And how about Stephon Marbury off the bench? 12 points for him, as well as 8 for Eddie House, and 6 for Scalabrine.

Do you think this game by Scal will be played on ESPN Classic along with Michael Jordan's flu game?

The Magic led this game most of the way, but they're like the hare racing the tortoise. They get a good lead, then fuck around, and all of a sudden: they've lost.

Game 6, Thursday night, in Disney World.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Monday, May 11, 2009


$2,500. That's how much Aaron Ward's orbital bone is worth, according to the NHL.

The National Hockey League is a lot like the Democratic Party. They come up with all sorts of lofty goals and officiating philosophies, but when the proverbial shit hits the metaphorical fan, the NHL loses its nerve, goes flacid, and tucks its tail between its tail.

The NHL's latest failed crusade was a campaign against "message sending" in the postseason, particularly at the end of games. You get a 3 or 4 goal blowout, one team decides to take advantage of the situation and get under their opponents skin. But with 2:47 left, when Scott Walker punched Aaron Ward - who had his gloves on and his fists down - in the face, the NHL went out of its way to not punish Walker or the Hurricanes.

Technically, Scott Walker was suspended. An instigator penalty in the final 5 minutes of a game is an AUTOMATIC SUSPENSION, that can only be lifted if the Commissioner pardons the offending player. In other words, Walker was guilty until proven innocent, at least that's how the NHL saw it.

Remember this?

Lucic was suspended for 1 game, and rightfully so.

And remember this?

Avery got 6 games for that.

So make fun of an opponent's choice of girlfriends, you get suspended for 6 games. Punch an opponent in the face in a game that's all but over, and you get fined $2500.

Gary Bettman and the NHL honchos might be the worst bosses in the world of sports, and this is example #16,542 of their ineptitude.

Aaron Ward will travel to Raleigh with the team, but it's still unclear if he'll play. The Bruins were already hurting at the defenseman position, and Carolina won't even lose a game from their mediocre 5 goal, 10 assist winger. But he'll lose $2500. That's 0.3% of his average annual salary. Think he'll need a pledge drive to pay it off?

The NHL failed to do several things in this situation:

Discourage message sending late in games

Discourage dirty play in general

Encourage the notion that dirty play will punish both the player and the team

Keep the series under control by punishing dirty play, instead of letting Shawn Thornton do the punishing in Game 6.

If I'm Scott Walker, I'd keep my head on a swivel, because Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, and Byron Bitz will all know when and where Walker is. Hopefully they let Walker spend all of Game 6 fearing retribution. But I can just see Chara going after Walker, getting an instigator penalty, and NOT having his automatic suspension pardoned by the NHL.



The Red Sox hadn't won a series against the Rays since last June. Pathetic, right? Finally, that streak came to an end.

Should the Red Sox just sign Jason Bay right now? Another clutch performance for Bay, who was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and the game winning RBI.

Josh Beckett was good, not great, and we're still waiting to see that Ace reemerge. But putting two solid starts together in a row is a step in the right direction. And he gave the team a chance to win, which is the first job of a starting pitcher.

Jonathan Papelbon's save wasn't the prettiest, but it had its own appeal. He struck out the side while giving up some baserunners and making Fenway Park nervous. But maybe he saw Big Baby's dramatics earlier and wanted to outdo the Celtics.

Dustin Pedroia "tweaked his groin" and left the game in the 3rd. He should be back by Wednesday, though. I was a bit nervous, because it seems like the injury bug has removed the hottest Red Sox hitter from the lineup. First Kevin Youkilis, then Pedroia? Then Bay?

Man of the Game: Jason Bay... again.

The Sox embark on their last West Coast trip of the year, first to Anaheim, then Seattle. Jared Weaver and his 3-1 record and 2.66 ERA take on Justin Masterson Tuesday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


"When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum"
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Last year, the Bruins demonstrated they are not an easy team to knock out. And hockey teams in general usually put up a good fight when facing elimination. Except, of course, the Canadiens, which is merely a testament to the Habs' lack of class and character.

Apparently, Carolina forgot this was a best of 7 series, because they did not show up for this game at all. The Hurricanes didn't get their first shot on goal until 11:03 into the 1st.

The only spark Carolina was when they decided to be cheap.

Jussi Jokinen slashed Zdeno Chara in the ankle. The dirty hit went unnoticed by the refs, but it felled the 6' 9" Chara for several minutes. The Garden went nuts when the big man climbed over the boards and returned to the ice in the 3rd.

Scott Walker sucker punched Aaron Ward in a 3rd period post-whistle confrontation. The unofficial word from the Bruins is that Ward has a broken orbital bone. He's to be reexamined today. Walker received a 2 minute penalty, a 5 minute major, and a 10 minute misconduct. Considering the nature of the punch, the apparent severity of Ward's injury, and the NHL's anti "message sending" crusade, it's safe to say Walker's series is done.

But it's no coincidence that the Canes went after the Bruins' top two defenseman. And if the Bruins lose Ward, or even have to reduce his playing time, it will test an already thin D-corps. And losing Scott Walker is hardly a big loss for Carolina. He only had 5 goals and 10 assists this year.

Hopefully Big Z and A-Ward will be fine for Game 6. And hopefully Carolina's Montrealesque attempt to get under the Bruins' collective skins was in vein.

Back to the hockey in Game 5...

Timmy Thomas continues to prove to any and all doubters why he will be the Vezina winner. He only had to stop 19 shots, but some of his saves, and clears, were simply stunning. He utilized his athleticism, and his ability to remain balanced in every position. And these kinds of games can be tough on goalies. Like I mentioned above, no Carolina shots for the first 11 minutes. Goalies don't like to be peppered with shots, but they like to build a rhythm.

First career playoff shutout for Thomas.

Phil Kessel was Phil Kessel again. After only getting 12 shots on goal in Games 1 thru 4, Phil fired 6 on Cam Ward. And 2 of those went in.

Kessel was keyed by Marc Savard, who was the Marc Savard we've all come to know and love over the past 3 years: The Assist Monster.

Zdeno Chara was the 1st Star, and he earned it. He was +3 with 2 assists, 5 massive hits, and still managed 24:34 of ice time, despite Jokinen's slash.

Milan Lucic continues to shine in postseason hockey. His 3rd period goal eliminated any chance of a Carolina comeback. He was also +3, with a goal, an assists, and 2 arena shaking hits. He gave energy to the crowd, to his teammates, and took energy from the Canes.

Blake Wheeler was a healthy scratch, a la Phil Kessel in 2008. Byron Bitz took his place in the lineup, and had a solid 10 minutes of 4th line grinding. Hopefully we'll see more Bitz in Game 6.

Bad news: the Bruins failed to score on 9 power plays

Good news: they had 10 power plays

The power play actually looked very good. Excellent puck-cycling, and they got some nice shots on goal. Cam Ward is a good goalie. He's not god, as some douchebags think he is. Cam Ward is quite mortal.

We're still waiting to see David Krejci and the 2nd line come up with another big game. They all had solid nights in Game 5, but nothing extraordinary. Since Game 1, Ryder and Krejci have been quiet, but I think if given enough time, that line will have a multiple goal night.

Shawn Thornton was back in the lineup. 4 minutes, 25 seconds on the ice. 6 minutes in the penalty box. And he was the one to respond to Carolina's cheapness, so he did his job, and the Bruins don't lose Lucic via suspension again.

Steve Montador once again had a failure of a game. He made one or two good plays, but he couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone, struggled to get it out of the defensive zone, and I didn't notice him much in the neutral zone. He's not a good puck handling defenseman, at all. He's a liability with the puck.

And that sucks. Because if Aaron Ward goes down, thats 20+ minutes of ice time that has to be eaten by lesser defenseman, including Steve Montador. And that's penalty killing ice time, power play ice time, crunch time ice time.

I don't know what to expect in Game 6. But I'm glad the Bruins didn't go out with a whimper in Game 5. It was the best Bruins game I've ever been to, in terms of the building's intensity, and the players' intensities. They flat-out rolled over Carolina.

Game 6, Tuesday night, 7 PM, in Raleigh, NC, and it's on NESN.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
AP Photo/Winslow Townson


What a night. What an incredible, unbelievable night. The Bruins stay alive, the Sox beat the Rays, and Glen Davis wins Game 4 for the C's with a buzzer beater. Such a great night, it was a shame the sun had to rise.

And what a postseason Glen Davis is having. He's emerged as a quality player in the absence of Kevin Garnett. His game winning shot was merely icing on the cake that Celtics fans have enjoyed for weeks.

Marv Albert sounds depressed as Davis shoots, then explodes. I love it.

But Paul Pierce was the hero in this game. He stepped up with 27 points, and of course he was the one who found Davis in space for the game winning shot.

Rajon Rondo continues to impress. He had yet another double-double with 21 points, and 14 rebounds. His 7th double-double or better in this postseason.

Perkins also had a nice game, with 12 points and 13 boards.

The starting five had to perform, because the bench provided a minuscule 2 points. I think the Scalabrine well has run dry.

It sucks that the Celtics let Orlando have a chance in this one. I've harped on this whole "killer instinct" the C's seem to be lacking this year, and last night was a perfect example of said lacking. But they atoned for letting their opponent have extra life by simply killing him later.

And think about how big that shot was? A miss, and the Celtics are down 3-1. A make, and it's a best of three series with two games in the Garden.

Speaking of the Garden, Game 5 is there on Tuesday night.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Saturday, May 09, 2009


It's clockwork. Evan Longoria steps to the plate, is able to reach over and drive a ball on the outside half of the plate, and pull it hard. 5 more RBI for the young third baseman. If he wins the MVP, in his acceptance speech, he should thank the Sox for allowing him to own the entire plate. 21 of his League leading 44 RBI have been against the Red Sox.

And Jon Lester needs to be able to beat the Rays. He's 0-2 against them this year, which follows his 0-2 performance in the ALCS. He cannot be an Ace so long as the Rays own him.

Jason Varitek has a .207 career average with the bases loaded. That sucks.

Man of the Game:
Evan Longoria - 2 for 4 with a double (that was a foot from a grand slam), a homer, 5 RBI, and 3 runs scored.

Lester: 0.8
Jones: 0.1
Varitek: 0.1

Rubber game is Sunday night at 8 on ESPN, which is the same time as both the Bruins and the Celtics playoff games, so few people in New England will witness Matt Garza's inevitable 20 strikeout performance, and Josh Beckett's 4 innings and 6 earned runs.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm


When was the last time the Red Sox were the third story in the sporting news around here? 1988?

They did provide the only good news of the night. They finally beat the Rays, for only the second time since Opening Day.

Jason Bay continues to hit the crap out of the ball. He was 2 for 4 with another homerun, his 9th. That's good for 3rd in the AL. Manny Ramirez is still stuck on 7 HRs, and probably will be for awhile. Bay is also 2nd in RBI with 32.

Dustin Pedroia was 4 for 5, and continues his surge from an early slump. His average is up to .336. He's hitting .485 in May. He started the season 7 for 39 (.179). Since April 15th, he's 34 for 83 (.410).

Brad Penny had a solid start, 6.1 innings pitched and only 3 runs allowed on 8 scattered hits. That's what we're going to get from Penny, hopefully on a regular basis.

How nice was it to see Papelbon pitch a clean inning? 3 up, 3 down. Pair of strikeouts, 11 total pitches, 9 strikes. Lovely.

It's just nice beating Tampa. They're not that good. They're nowhere near likable. They're a bunch of cocky little punks, and we let them take control of the American League last year. Hopefully we can remind them that they are, in fact, a 14-17 team.

Scott Kazmir vs. Jon Lester at 3:40 on Fox. I'm probably not going to watch until the 6th inning. Wink.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa


In Game 1, an understandable fatigue was apparently responsible for the Celtics' lackadaisical play. In Game 2, they woke up and cruised to victory. In Game 3, it was once again nap time. In this case, however, there is no excuse.

The Magic shot 59.1% from the field. More disturbingly, they were allowed easy layups and dunks, especially in the 1st quarter.

Ray Allen once again had a subpar night, 3 for 13 shooting, 0 for 5 in three pointers, and only 8 points. Glen Davis also struggled, only 7 points and 3 rebounds.

But the C's put up 96 points. That should be enough to win. The C's held opponents to fewer than 96 points 18 times in last year's playoffs. I know without Garnett, such a feet is impossible to duplicate. However, one man doesn't make a good defense, it takes 5 men working together. The Celtics simply didn't do it last night.

Game 4 is Sunday night. It's not a must-win, but not winning will put the Celtics in a deep hole.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Friday, May 08, 2009


Things seem to be falling apart for the Bruins. Or are they? I'm pretty pissed about the lack of control the Bruins have shown, and they certainly deserve to be down 3-1. But they aren't out. All that pre-game nonsense about Friday night's contest being a "must win" was bullshit. But clearly now, the Bruins are in a must-win situation.

Before I pepper the Bruins with my rage filled criticisms, let's remember how few breaks they got in this game. A pair of posts hit in the 1st (one by Kessel, one by Chara), as well as Cam Ward's guessing save on Axelsson's breakaway (he moved before P.J. shot the puck, and just so happened to guess right). The tempo of the game would have changed a great deal had the B's drawn first blood and been up 1-0, 2-0, or even 3-0.

Then there was Carolina's first goal. Jussi Jokinen flopped after David Krejci brushed him, the Canes got a power play, and Staal scored. Krejci shouldn't have given Jokinen a chance to flop, and also given the referees a chance to make a questionable call. But Krejci will get his abuse later in the post.

Carolina got a power play early in the 3rd thanks to a botched hooking call. To be fair to the refs, they've called a great series, and the game was 99% well-called, which is as good as it gets. But Chara didn't commit an infraction worthy of a power play. Carolina took advantage and Jokinen scored.

All this bad break business being said, THE BRUINS WERE THE ONES WHO LET THESE UNFORTUNATE EVENTS DESTROY THEM. Krejci could have avoided a penalty by not making contact with Jokinen from behind. After Chara committed the penalty, and Jokinen scored, it was only a 1 goal game, but the Bruins played like they were down by 4 or 5 scores.

From the 2nd period to the 3rd, I felt like a proud parent who watched his 20 children go from the honor roll to injecting heroin. The Bruins' 2nd period was their best period of hockey in this series. Outstanding forechecks, winning one-on-one battles, winning faceoffs, testing Ward, and dominating in all three zones.

Then in the 3rd, the B's let one bad thing (a penalty on Chara), turn into a worse thing (a goal), then into an even worse thing (17 minutes of atrociously sloppy hockey).

The Bruins' lack of experience is being exposed. But it's more than that. A few key players are trying too hard to be perfect, and are making costly mistakes.

Blake Wheeler:
He's sucked this series. His goal-scoring cooled off long ago, but he had always been a good two-way player on the 3rd line. I was glad to see him demoted to the 4th line, especially with how good Bitz looks. Wheeler seems to find himself offside at least once a game in a pivotal spot, spoiling a quality Bruins' offensive rush. He's also not taking full advantage of his size.

David Krejci:
How many times has he forced Tim Thomas to make unnecessary saves with turnovers near his own blue line? He is slow on offense, letting the puck get past him instead of being instinctive and opportunistic. He's sloppy in the neutral zone, giving the Canes additional chances.

Steve Montador:
He has single handedly raised my blood pressure to dangerous levels in this series. Too many giveaways, both pressured and unpressured. He also telegraphs his shots, allowing the Canes to set-up their shot-blocking counterattack.

Mark Stuart:
He's been mostly invisible, and he too has telegraphed his shots.

Stephane Yelle:
He's supposed to be a low-key, high percentage puck handler kind of guy. But he's turned the puck over quite a bit. He's sucked in the neutral zone, and been a ghost in the offensive zone. Apart from penalty killing, the lesser we see Yelle, the better.

On the bright side, Thomas is playing great. Michael Felger, and anyone who wants to suck-off Cam Ward while simultaneously criticizing Thomas need to be banned from Bruins games FOR LIFE. Thomas is the sole reason the Bruins had a chance in Games 3 and 4. And Cam Ward has been allowed to relax in his cage. The B's only got 21 shots on goal in Game 4 and 23 in Game 3.

I want to see more Byron Bitz in Game 5. Putting him on the 3rd line is great. Speaking of line juggling, I've never been a fan of Lucic alongside Kessel and Savard. You get Lucic trying too hard to be a fancy hockey player, and when he does win battles along the boards, Kessel and Savard aren't in the crease to take advantage of it. I'd like to see Lucic on the 2nd or 3rd line, and maybe even Axelsson or Recchi or Ryder on the 1st line. I'd prefer Lucic on the ice at the same time as Kobasew, so the two tough forecheckers can feed off each other, and help each other out.

If the Bruins play like they played for 25 or 30 minutes in Game 4, Carolina needs to get lucky to win. That's just the way it is. The Bruins have dug themselves this hole, but they're good enough to get out of it.

It's up to the 20 men in that locker room. They just need to play good solid hockey. It's not that complicated.

Game 5, Sunday night, in Boston, on Versus.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker


Dominic DiMaggio died today at the age of 92. DiMaggio spent his entire MLB career with the Red Sox, and was the youngest of three DiMaggio brothers in the Majors. He was one of the four legendary Teammates (the others being Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Johny Peskey), and hit leadoff for the Sox in the 40s and 50s. In 11 seasons, he scored over 1,000 runs, had a .298 career average, .398 career OBP (wow!), was a 7 time All-Star (4 times as a starter), and 147 outfield assists.