Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It wasn't the ideal way to get into the postseason: losing 8-7 to the Jays, then waiting 'til 1 AM for the Angels (who will be the Sox' opponents) to do the dirty work by beating Texas. But any Sox fan who complains about this manner of clinching can go fuck themselves, then take a time machine to 15 years ago and talk to Sox fans about "bad ways of making the playoffs." All Yankee fans or other Sox haters who want to make fun can do the same.

The Red Sox won the 2009 Wild Card by winning 91 games, even though they didn't win that 92nd to clinch it on their own. The Sox have the 5th best record in baseball, 7 games ahead of the AL Central leading Tigers, and that's after losing 5 straight and 7 of 9. Mmmmmmmmmm, 7 of 9.

Anyway, winning the Wild Card is something to celebrate. It's the 6th time in 7 years that the Sox have made the playoffs. Before 2003, the Sox needed 23 years to make the playoffs 7 times. And before 1986, they needed 60 years to make the playoffs 6 times. In other words, this is most definitely the best time to be a Sox fan since the end of World War I.

BUT, there are things to worry about. Last night was supposed to be Buchholz's tune-up start for the playoffs. He looked dreadful, and now might start to doubt his performance in the playoffs.

Then again, there was some good injury news yesterday. Lester threw a bullpen session and everything was reported to be fine.

And Beckett will be able to make his next start on Saturday after his back spasms have improved.

Tim Wakefield goes tonight against Roy Halladay.

Hartford Courant

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


If you'd told me before the 08-09 season that the Bruins would advance as far as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, I would have been pleased. If you'd told me in the MIDDLE of the 08-09 season that the Bruins would advance only to Game 7 of the Eastern Semis, I would have been disappointed. In other words, the B's have unfinished business.

In this inflexible salary cap era, the Bruins were unable to add much to their team. Yet they will be better, because the guys they already have will be better. Yes, they will be better despite the loss of Phil "fantasy points" Kessel.

The Bruins have a rare thing in this day and age: depth. Not only depth, but flexibility. They can roll 3 excellent lines, and a solid 4th can take 10+ minutes per game without jeopardizing any leads. Those 3 lines feature a variety of moving parts that can be changed from one line to another as the situation dictates. Guys like Milan Lucic can play on the 1st line with the talented skaters, and on the 3rd line with the checkers. Byron Bitz can be a 4th line bruiser and a 2nd line presence in the crease.

Oh, the Bruins also have the Norris Trophy winner on the blue line, and the Vezina winner in net. That's always nice.

So let's start with Tim Thomas and the other netminders. This will be the first time in Thomas' NHL career that he is the definite #1 in net. He led the NHL with a 2.10 GAA and .933 SV% last year, and will likely reach similar statistical marks in 09-10. He'll only start about 50 games, giving 22 year old backup Tuukka Rask plenty of time as well. For the first time in a long time, the Bruins are all set in net.

The depth at Defenseman was tested in last season's playoffs. And it failed. When Andrew Ference and Matt Hunwick went down, too much was needed from guys like Steve Montador. The Bruins also lost Aaron Ward, trading him to the Hurricanes of all teams. They added 11 year veteran Derek Morris, who will be a decent 3rd tandem defenseman.

Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman might be one of the best defensive pairings in the NHL. Combined they had 32 goals, 68 assists, and averaged around 25 minutes of ice time. Wideman, who's only 26, was 6th in the NHL in +/- at +32. He's a bit sluggish at times, and occasionally makes groan-inducing mistakes with the puck, but he can only improve. And Chara is the team's big brother, a leader and a brawler and a scorer.

Rounding out the defense are Mark Stuart, Andrew Ference, and Matt Hunwick. Stuart's only 25 and showed a lot of promise last year. If Andrew Ference can stay healthy, he'll be solid, but that is a big "if." He hasn't played a full NHL season since 2005-06. And Matt Hunwick is poised to have a breakout season. The 24 year old became a presence on the power play and registered 21 assists. When his spleen exploded in the playoffs, the Bruins lost quite a bit. He can also play forward in a pinch.

The depth and flexibility the Bruins have in their forwards simply puts a smile on my face. Just thinking of all the different combinations is a fun little game for me.

Marc Savard led the Bruins in points last year. He helped make Phil Kessel a rich man, so I hope Phil sends Marc a Christmas card. Savard had 63 assists, but also scored 25 goals on his own. He's good for another 90 point season.

David Krejci wanted to remain a Bruin. He was a restricted free agent, but signed with very little drama. And he's a bit more versatile than Kessel. Krejci's 2nd line might be the best line to be on. When players slumped last year, they'd find themselves on Krejci's line and suddenly find their games. The 23 year old should be good to go on Opening Night.

Milan Lucic became a complete hockey player last year. He found himself shuffled from line-to-line, but that was because Coach Julien found him useful in a variety of roles. I like Lucic best on the 2nd or 3rd line with other checking players, instead of being on a line that's more about making plays. Lucic will never be a fancy player capable of the things guys like Krejci and Savard are. But he will score 20+ goals and once again be a YouTube star.

The Bruins have a little bit of age and wisdom on their side this year as well. They acquired Derek Morris, but also will bring 11 year vet Marco Sturm back, as well as 20 year man Mark Recchi. Sturm led the B's in goals in the 07-08 campaign with 27. Recchi scored 10 goals in 18 games for the B's last year.

Byron Bitz was introduced to the hockey world during the postseason. The 25 year old Cornell alum is 6' 5" and 215. And he plays bigger than that. He's a presence in front of the net, a force in the corners on both forecheck and backcheck, and a scrapper. He can be put on a scoring line with Savard and Sturm in order to take up space in the crease. He can be put on a checking line with Lucic and Kobasew and wear opponents down. Or he can be on a brawling line with Thornton and Begin and fuck people up.

Patrice Bergeron turned 24 this summer. It's unbelievable, right? He's been playing since 2003, has 300+ NHL games under his belt, and he's only 24. And he's going to have a breakout season. 08-09 was his return from injury year. He played great hockey, PJ Axelsson quality defensive play, great on the power play, even better shorthanded. But now he'll get that scoring touch back. He scored 31 goals in 05-06, and 22 in 06-07. He's got 20+ goal stuff and will help make up for the loss of Kessel.

Michael Ryder earned my respect last year. I was very doubtful that he'd amount to anything, but given the right linemates, he's a 25 to 30 goal scorer.

Steve Begin and Shawn Thornton are going to have too much fun together. I hope Begin takes a lesson from his predecessor: Stephan Yelle. The Bruins' 4th line was great last year not just because they messed people up, but because they weren't a negative on the scoreline. Shawn Thornton was -2, which is pretty good for a guy with 123 penalty minutes. Yelle was +6.

I'm not a fan of Blake Wheeler. But he did show sparks last year. He finished with a nice goal total of 21, but 14 of those came before the All-Star Game. He's not bad for a 3rd liner, but that's as high as I see him climbing.

Chuck Kobasew is last but certainly not least. His broken ribs in the Carolina series probably tipped the scales in Carolina's favor. The 27 year old BC alum from BC (British Columbia) scored 20+ goals each of the last two seasons. Look for similar production from him.

As I've said ad naseum in this preview, the Bruins have a great deal of versatility with their forwards. Julien is good at keeping things fluid, and matching the right guys together at the right time. Struggling players go with Krejci. Players in the groove go with Savard. Checkers and skaters mix together perfectly.

The Bruins led East with 274 goals. I think they will be around the 260 mark or higher, which will be more than good enough. The B's also allowed the fewest goals at 196. That number won't come up much. The Bruins will be either the 1 or the 2 seed in the East, winning the Northeast Division. They'll roll through the playoffs with purpose and win their first Stanley Cup since 1972.


For the second time, ESPN's famous Saturday morning college football pregame show will grace Chestnut Hill with its presence. The show will broadcast from the Campus Green from 10 AM to noon, before BC's game against Florida State.

As a BC fan, and as someone who works at BC football games, I'm pretty exited about this. Exited, yet confused and surprised. #7 USC is playing #24 Cal in Berkeley. That's a big game. #4 LSU is at #18 Georgia, that's an even bigger game. #8 Oklahoma is at #17 Miami. That's a monstrous game.

Neither Boston College or Florida State are ranked.

But maybe this has something to do with BC football's anti-cancer campaign. I can't think of another reason to choose Chestnut Hill over Berkeley, Athens, or Miami.

Boston College Athletic Official Athletic Site


The Sox can clinch a playoff berth Tuesday night with a win or a Rangers' loss, despite losing 11-5 to the Blue Jays on Monday.

Josh Beckett was scratched from his scheduled start with "mild back spasms." His replacement Michael Bowden only went 3 innings, allowing 7 earned runs. Bowden's replacement - Hunter Jones - allowed 4 more in 1.2 innings.

The good news is that Beckett apparently was scratched as a precuation more than anything else. The Sox have all but secured their spot in the playoffs, so why risk Beckett? They're likely to skip his spot in the rotation, and have him start on Saturday.

Clay Buchholz faces Ricky Romero Tuesday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Monday, September 28, 2009


It wasn't the prettiest of victories on the scoreboard, but relative to the Monday night win over Buffalo, and last week's suicide inducing loss to the Jets, the Pats' 26-10 triumph over a good Atlanta side was beautiful.

If you get 445 yards of offense, you'd like to get more than 26 points. Especially when you don't turn the ball over once. And while fantasy owners of Stephen Gostkowski might be pleased with his abundance of field goals (his 9 lead the League), the Patriots offense is designed to score touchdowns, and score them with ferocious regularity.

Leading the NFL in field goals is not a good stat. Not for the Patriots. The defense is not strong enough to clamp down and win a field goal game. The 2009 Patriots are built to score touchdowns early, take a 14 point lead, then allow the defense to tee off on the opposing QB, who is forced to pass. Meanwhile, the opposing sideline knows that every drive of theirs that doesn't end in a touchdown means the Pats will likely add 7 more points to the deficit.

But we haven't seen that this season. Brady is still rusty, although he looked sharp in the 2nd half. Galloway's been much better as a deep route diversion than a receiver, and he dropped some big ones on Sunday. Chris Baker was a nice surprise yesterday, and Randy Moss has been great.

The good thing to come out of this win was the running game. Finally unhampered by penalties making it 2nd & 20, the ground attack led by Fred Taylor could finally do work. Taylor had his first 100 yard game since Week 3 of the '08 campaign.

Laurence Maroney is not a feature back. But he can be a great secondary back, especially late in games when the defense is worn out, and can't keep up with his cuts. Taylor falls forward when he's hit. He makes holes. He gets 2 where Maroney would get stuffed at the line. The only question is how much can he do it? How often can he run in a game, and how long can he last this season?

The Patriots have another game against a good team next Sunday. They host the 3-0 Ravens. Baltimore's put up 30+ in each of their games, but they also allowed 20+ against both Kansas City and San Diego. They held Mangini's Browns to 3 points. So the Pats can score on this team if they get their act together. Whether Welker plays in this game or not will go a long way to determining the victor.


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


I love when Tim Wakefield pitches, or when BC plays Wake Forest. The title pun potential is boundless, but I usually stick to "Wake Up Call."

Boston College went into Saturday's meeting with Wake Forest reeling from a conference loss. They showed no capability of building any offensive momentum. If not for a stalwart series of defensive stands, as well as Clemson's painfully one dimensional offense, BC would have been blown out by halftime.

The goal for this year's BC team is to attain bowl eligibility (6 wins). And even that might be a bit lofty. Their schedule has cupcakes enough to get them close (they already have wins against Northeastern and Kent State, and they'll eventually face lowly Maryland and Virginia). But in order to reach that 6 win mark, they need to win games against their fellow ACC mediocritites, like Wake Forest and NC State.

So this was a big win for BC. And it was nearly a big loss. The game was tight until the 4th quarter when Dave Shinskie found Colin Larmond Jr for a touchdown, and the Eagles went up 24-10. But with about 4 minutes left, Wake Forest's Riley Skinner drove the ball down field and scored. BC got the ball back but punted with 1:46 left. Skinner again led a drive down the field and into the end zone.

In overtime, the Eagles were on the verge of defeat. They kicked a field goal with their possession, but Wake Forest moved the ball at will against an exhausted BC defense. On 1st and goal from the 3, Riley Skinner was forced out of the pocket, fumbled, and BC fell on it, ending the game in dramatic fashion.

So the good news is that BC has 3 of those 6 needed wins. More good news is that Dave Shinksie is the full-time QB... for now, and he wasn't that bad. The bad news is that BC now has to play Florida State and Virginia Tech (in Blacksburg), so win #4 might not come for a few weeks.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Saturday, September 26, 2009


If the Sox are to win the AL East, it will now take a near miracle. But the more pressing matter is the health of Jon Lester after he took a linedrive off the right leg. The good news is that X-Rays were negative, and as of right now, he's expected to make his next scheduled start on Thursday night.

This loss doesn't hurt or scare me in the least. Lester struggled, then the Sox' long-relief couldn't keep the game in hand. It was a 6-3 game in the 6th, hardly out of reach. And does Joba Chamberlain impress you at all?

But again, the division is pretty much won by the Yankees. The Sox are down by 6 games in the loss column, so even if they took the next 2 games in New York, they'd be down 4 with 7 games left.

This afternoon on Fox, Daisuke Matsuzaka faces 18-7 CC Sabathia.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill

Friday, September 25, 2009


The Sox took care of business last night and left Missouri with a split in their 4 game series, and a much smaller Magic Number. Jacoby Ellsbury had the big night, going 3 for 6 with 2 runs, a double, and 2 stolen bases. He has 66 steals on the season, which is made even more impressive by the fact that he's only been caught 10 times.

Both Martinez and Pedroia extended their hitting streaks to 22 and 16 games, respectively.

David Ortiz had a 3 RBI night, giving him 91 total on the season. Remember back in April when his over/under for RBI was 50?

Clay Buchholz struck out 8 on his way to win #7 of the season. What a godsend he's been for this club. Beckett's been a roller coaster, Matsuzaka and Wakefield missed huge chunks of starts, Smoltz was a bust, Penny disintegrated. His last 6 outings have been Quality Starts. He's 5-0 with a 1.32 ERA in that stretch.

Texas was blown out by the Athletics. That reduces the Magic Number to 3.

Big series in New York, as the Sox can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. And if they have any chance at the AL East title, they pretty much need to sweep the Yanks.

Jon Lester faces Joba Chamberlain Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Ed Zurga

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The Red Sox only scored in 2 innings last night. In fact, they only got hits in 3 innings. But in those 3 innings, they recorded 12 hits. They scored 6 runs in the 5th, then an additional 3 in the 9th, giving Josh Beckett his 16th win of the season.

Beckett wasn't on his A game, allowing 12 hits in 6 innings of work. But the Royals only put 2 runs across in the 4th, and that was it. He got himself out of trouble, and navigated his way to an important win. You don't want to go to Kansas City and return without at least one victory.

How complete have Alex Gonzalez and Victor Martinez made the Red Sox lineup? Back when it was Varitek then Lugo/Green/Lowrie, the bottom of the Sox order was a cruise control inning for opposing pitchers. Martinez's placement in the heart of the order allows guys like Drew and Lowell to anchor the bottom third. And Gonzalez doesn't allow pitchers to have any easy outs in the 9 spot. A-Gon was 2 for 5 last night, and he's hit.293 in 116 at-bats for the Sox. He makes Theo Epstein look like a moron for letting him go, and a genius for brining him back.

The Sox finish their trip to Missouri Thursday night as Dusty Hughes (sounds like a pro wrestler from the 1980s) opposes Clay Buchholz.

Magic #=5


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Last night, by losing 4-3 to Seattle, the Tampa Bay Rays were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Good fucking riddance.

I've never like the Tampa Bay franchise. Ever since its inception. It doesn't deserve to exist. Why have an expansion team in a city that already has a massive following loyal to another team? The Yankees have held spring training down there for decades, and built up a sizeable fanbase. So why send some low grade expansion team to try and compete with that?

Then there were the constant beanball wars. Every time the Sox played the Devil Rays, you'd anticipate Ortiz getting hit on the wrists, or Manny buzzed by a near-miss over his head. It was planned, and it was ridiculous.

They were also a financial drain on the League. They'd spend $25 million on payroll, and collect almost that much from MLB. They'd whine and moan about big market teams, but happily absorb the attendance boost when Boston and New York came down to play.

Last year they got good. But instead of being a plucky, blue collar, likable bunch; they were cocky and self-entitled. They felt like the World Series should be given to them, and the Red Sox tried their best to hand it over. There was no respect for their opponents, and I've never been happier to see a Philadelphia team have success than I was last October.

So welcome back to Earth, "Rays." Everyone had a career year in '08, no such luck in '09. The Red Sox and Yankees remembered how to play. And although you still beat the Sox, you couldn't beat anyone else. And down the stretch, you choked it away on your own. A nice 11 game losing streak in September was your cause of death. A record of 4-17 from August 26th to September 16th.

Bye bye Tampa.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The good news is that the Jets don't look too good. Sure they're 2-0, but if not for a craptastic performance by Matt Schaub in Week 1, and a shaky Tom Brady in Week 2, they'd be 0-2. I'm not impressed with Sanchez, and although Rex Ryan is far above the likes of Eric Mangini, he's not on the same level as the coach who works in Foxborough.

The bad news is that there doesn't seem to be much improvement from Tom Brady. He's getting rid of the ball just a few seconds too early. He's not stepping into all his throws when there's people around him. After 2 games, I'd have to rate his pocket presence as below average. This might change (it MUST change), but so far it's been steadily subpar.

The good news is that the defense looked solid. Think about it, they've only allowed 33 points as a unit (7 of Buffalo's points came from an interception return) in 2 games. They made some big plays early on that SHOULD HAVE turned into a 14-0 Patriot lead.

And how valuable is Wes Welker. Edelman might have a similar skill-set, but he doesn't have the wherewithal of Welker, who seems to know where to go. He and Brady once had a psychic connection. That connection was rusty in Week 1, and unfortunately did not get a chance to improve in Week 2. Hopefully he'll be back in on Sunday.

The Patriots host the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, in what could be a very important game. Losing to Atlanta certainly won't end the season, but beating them would be a real mark of improvement.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Saturday, September 19, 2009


After rolling over Northeastern and Kent State, the BC Eagles had to face a real team. And it was ugly. Clemson's kicker Richard Jackson was the best player on the field, which tells you all you need to know about this game. On the bright side, the BC defense didn't allow a touchdown. On the not-so-bright side, the afore mentioned Jackson kicked 6 field goals. And on the very dark side, the BC offense was inept at best, impotent at worst.

Justin Tuggle was 4 for 20 for 23 yards, a touchdown, and 3 interceptions. And yes, he looked as bad as those numbers suggest.

BC rushed for 0.9 yards an attempt. They had 51 yards of offense. The offense didn't get a 1st down until 1:56 remained in the 3rd.

There were some bright spots on the defensive side of the ball. Then again, Clemson has a one dimensional offense, so it's not brain surgery. BC probably should have lost this game 42-7, but the defense kept things relatively close.

The Eagles return home to face Wake Forest next Saturday. BC can beat Wake Forest, but unfortunately they won't.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain


It's finally happened. The Bruins and Maple Leafs agreed to the terms late Friday night. The Leafs got Phil Kessel, the Bruins received a pair of 1st round draft picks, as well as a 2nd rounder. Almost immediately after the deal was announced, the Leafs declared that Kessel's services had been secured for 5 additional seasons and for a price of $27 million.

I'll give credit to Phil and his agent, who I doubted in a previous post. They got precisely what they wanted. And I can't blame them. They wanted a big contract RIGHT NOW and they got it. So what if they kept their former team and former fans in limbo for months, and so what if they cost their new team some premium picks. Phil and his agent treated this situation just like he treats a breakaway on the ice. All they wanted to do was score, and they certainly did that.

As a Bruins fan, this is hardly something to celebrate. You don't run your leading scorer out of town, then have a parade when he's gone. And Toronto wouldn't be my first choice of teams for Kessel to wind up with. Nashville would have been better.

You don't celebrate, but we as fans shouldn't mourn, either. Any Bruins fan out there that thinks Kessel was worth $27M is probably also wearing an Adam Vinatieri jersey with a Nomar Garciaparra t-shirt underneath it. As good as Kessel was, and as great as he someday might be, that amount of cap commitment is simply unfeasible for the Bruins. Perhaps a one year, $5 million deal would have worked, but that's not what Kessel wanted.

I think it was the length of the deal that kept Kessel and the Bruins apart. After this season, Marc Savard's an unrestricted free agent. Milan Lucic is a restricted one. Do you think a team or two might send offer sheets to Lucic? And then there's the uncertainty in the NHL salary cap. So long as the Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, and Atlanta Thrashers of the world continue to bring in subpar revenues, the Bruins, Rangers, and Red Wings of the world will have to shed talent.

And here's what this came down to: Phil Kessel got what he wanted. So did the Maple Leafs. But Toronto's benefit is simply a byproduct of Kessel's desires. The perturbed and almost always emotionally unstable Bruins fan will bemoan Jeremy "Scrooge" Jacobs. But this wasn't JUST about the money. It was about the cap.

"Where will those 36 goals come from?" Has been the refrain of WEEI's Pete Shepherd this week. Well, here's my answer:

9 of those goals came against the Islanders and Lightning, the two worst teams in the NHL. The Bruins will win those games again by multiple goal margins, so Kessel's 9 scores won't be missed.

15 more of those goals came against other non-playoff teams. Once again, the Bruins will find goals in these games without the great Phil Kessel.

Then there's those 8 goals against playoff teams. 8 goals. In 34 games.

I'll tell you exactly where these 8 goals will come from. Patrice Bergeron. Byron Bitz. Milan Lucic. Marco Sturm. Mark Rechhi, and so on. Even with the loss of Phil Kessel, the Bruins have almost unparalleled depth at forward. And they're going to win a lot of games without Kessel.


Friday, September 18, 2009


I don't hate it. I don't love it. I do like the thought process that went into it, even though I would have preferred a slightly different jersey.

The Bruins wanted to incorporate something from the jerseys worn by all 5 of the Stanley Cup winning teams in their history. And that's fine. The only thing that bugs me is the crest. It's not bad, I just would've wanted something a bit more familiar, and a bit more square. The rounded "B" just won't look right. Some variant of the classic eight-spoked B, or just a big capital letter B with squared sides would look so much better.

And maybe the B's could have opened up the whole Winter Classic Jersey question to the fans. Have an online poll, maybe in a tournament format, with different jersey styles squaring off.

The crest from the 1963 and '67 jerseys would look cool. Or the huge B from the '54 and '92. Oh well.

WEEI's Big Bad Blog


Even with 2 outs in the 9th, you felt as though the Sox would win this game. They didn't, of course. They could only muster offense in the 4th inning, as Ellsbury and Bay hit homeruns and put the Sox ahead 3-1. But that was it from the Red Sox bats. The Angels chipped away, tying the game in the 7th, and taking the lead in the top of the 9th.

The good news was that Victor Martinez returned to the lineup, extending his hit-streak to 16 games with a 4th inning single. Youkilis also seemed close to ready to return, as he came out on deck to pinch hit for Varitek in the 9th.

Beckett looked very good, just shy of great. For the most part he was lights out, just with an occasional blemish. His last 3 starts have been very good, so for now at least, he's the Ace of the staff.

Both the Yankees and Rangers were idle, so the Sox fall 7 behind New York (6 in the loss column), and stay 6 in front of Texas in the Wild Card.

The Angels won the season series 5-4, but 6 of the 9 games were played in Anaheim.

The Sox embark on a 10 game road trip, with stops in Baltimore, Kansas City, and the Bronx. They could very well return to Fenway Park with the Wild Card wrapped up.

Clay Buchholz vs. Jeremy Guthrie tonight.


Photo Credit:
AP/Charles Krupa

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Last night the Bruins were up in Toronto for a preseason game against the Maple Leafs. The GMs of both teams reportedly met for "about an hour" before the game. The major topic of discussion: Phil Kessel. The Leafs might be offering a package that includes a pair of 1st round draft picks. The Nashville Predators have also publicly expressed interest in Kessel.

I'd rather the Bruins send Kessel to Nashville and the Western Conference. You never want to trade a player within your own Conference, let alone your own Division. Just imagine if Joe Thornton were playing for the Senators instead of the Sharks.

The B's will be criticized if they make this move, but what choice do they have? Sacrifice their depth at forward to hang on to one player, who's fairly one-dimensional and has yet to PROVE he's a big-time scorer? I don't think so.



Jets safety Kerry Rhodes had this to say about his team's upcoming game against the Patriots:

"Not just go out there and try to win, try to embarrass them. Try to make them feel bad when they leave here. We don’t want to just beat them. We want to send a message to them, ‘We’re not backing down from you and we expect to win this game, and it’s not going to be luck, it’s not going to be a mistake."

(Source: NY Daily News)

As far as pregame trash talk and bulletin board material, it's not that bad. And I don't see why this is all over He's not guaranteeing an embarrassment, he's just saying what he wants to do.

But at the same time, why talk to the media at all? Why give them even a hint of a story? Or at least give them something about yourself, not an opposing team. I'm just glad the Patriots coaches and players typically keep their mouths shut.


The B's went up to Toronto, and played in front of a near full house at the Air Canada Centre. Marco Sturm, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, and Marc Savard did not play, but the Bruins still prevailed over their division rivals.

There's twice as much fighting in preseason games as there is in regular season matches. Guys are trying to impress coaches with toughness, and ingratiate themselves with their new teammates. Steve Begin, for instance, went at it in the 1st. Byron Bitz also got a fighting major after responding to some instigating. Guillaume Lefebvre and Adam McQuaid also fought for the Bruins.

Begin, Brad Marchand, and Andy Wozniewski scored for the B's. Patrice Bergeron had the best game of all with 2 assists, and numerous plays made all over the ice. But it was basically an AHL game with a few NHL guys mixed in. The Bruins are trying to figure out who will be the last 2 or 3 guys on their roster, and also who will be the 1st and 2nd guy they call up from Providence just in case.

Journeyman Quebecois goalie Dany Sabourin looked adequate in net. He made all the saves he should have made, and played smartly. I was particularly impressed with his puck handling, and calmness under pressure. He doesn't have the talent and potential of Rask, but he appears to be a good #3 to have just in case disaster strikes.

The Bruins host the Rangers at the Garden on Saturday. The game is at 4 and will be on NHL Network.


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


The Red Sox used 22 different players to beat the Angels 9-8 last night, in a 4 hour thriller. The last three batters of the game were all short-stops: Jed Lowrie, Nick Green, and Alex Gonzalez. That should tell you how strange this game was.

Paul Byrd had a Paul Byrd start. He's not going to win games for you, but he won't lose them either. That's the role of as #5 starter, and so long as Buchholz and Matsuzaka are doing well, Byrd can have as many 5.1 IP, 3 ER games as he wants.

But the bullpen was awful. Ramon Ramirez blew a 2 run lead in the 7th. Then Daniel Bard blew a tied game in the top of the 9th. Thankfully, there is depth to the pen. Okajima, Delcarmen, and Saito registered 1 quality inning apiece, and the Sox desperately needed those to stay in the game.

Ramirez's runs came after a passed ball 3rd strike by Varitek. Now, if Victor Martinez had made this same mistake, the Cult of Varitek would be all over him, just like they were when he caught a bad Buchholz outing a few weeks ago (how's Buchholz-Martinez worked out since then?). Varitek fucked up and it nearly cost the Sox a big win. Oh yeah, he was also 0 for 2, dropping his average to .213. But at least he's hotter in September (.143 average) than he was in August (.135).

By and large, the Sox performance wasn't impressive. However, their character was. They stuck with this game, despite the Angels' incessant rallying. And in the end, they got the W.

By the way, the Rangers lost, and so did the Rays. Tampa Bay is now 5th in the Wild Card, 14 games behind the Sox. Nice collapse.

The Sox go for the sweep Thursday night as Ervin Santana takes on Josh Beckett. With series like this one, and the weather as chilly as it is, doesn't it feel like October?


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Eric Mangenius and the New York Jets were fined $125,000 for failing to report Brett Favre's arm injury last season. The Jets will have to pay $75,000 of the fine, while ex-head coach Mangini has to foot $25,000 of the bill, and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum also has to pay $25,000.

Could you imagine the media firestorm that would have swept across Anti-Patriot Nation? Small writers for small papers in small Indiana townships would have a field day. Bi-curious (politically) Pennsylvania Senators would prepare lawsuits. JT the Brick and the New York Post would have to seek medical attention for their 4+ hour hard-ons.

And I know what some of you might be thinking "Hasn't Brady been on the injury report for a decade?" But he actually does have a nagging shoulder problem. The Patriots don't list him on their injury report in order to gain an advantage. But the Jets clearly tried to hide Favre's injury in an effort to get some sort of edge.

USA Today


The B's kicked off their preseason with a 2-1 win over the Rangers in Madison Square Garden last night. Tuuka Rask got the start in net and stopped 31 of 32 shots. Zach Hammil and Max Sauve scored goals for the Bruins. Both scores were on the power play. Milan Lucic and Johnny Boychuk had assists.

Matt Hunwick, who's 08-09 season ended with a ruptured spleen, led the Bruins in ice time with 22:24.

Tuuka Rask playing well is excellent news. Tim Thomas is certainly an elite goalie in the NHL, but he does need 20+ games off, or at least he's needed that in the past.

The Bruins play tonight in Toronto, and I believe the game is on NHL Network. And you might have this channel without even knowing it.


Photo Credit:
Associated Press


Jerod Mayo could be out 6-8 weeks with a Grade 3 MCL sprain. The relatively good news is that MCLs are capable of heeling on their own. Of course, the injury "news" is all speculation. The only official word from the Patriots came when Bill Belichick was asked if the injury was season ending. His response: "I don’t think that’s what it is."


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I don't think anyone knew what to expect from Daisuke Matsuzaka. But even the most child-like pink-hat optimist in Red Sox Nation wouldn't have expected the quality outing Matsuzaka registered last night in Fenway Park.

6 scoreless innings, only 3 hits allowed, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. He had a no-hitter through 4 innings. If he can pitch at or near this level down the stretch, the Sox rotation has the potential to be the best foursome in baseball. Beckett-Lester-Buchholz-Matsuzaka at their best is a ridiculous playoff rotation. Granted, there's that "at their best" stipulation, and Matsuzaka, Buchholz, and Beckett are known to have their ups and downs. But potential is all you need.

David Ortiz's homer in the 8th set a new record for homeruns as a DH (270) It's a record you kind of want to keep quiet, like Joaquin Phoenix's character's minor league homerun record in Signs.

Frank Thomas hit 269 homeruns as a DH, but he also hit 250 as a first baseman. Slightly more impressive.

Paul Byrd opposes Joe Saunders Wednesday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


Not surprisingly, there's no official word on Jerod Mayo's injured knee. But apparently, it doesn't seem too serious. The good news is that it doesn't seem to be a season-ender. Jerod Mayo is the key to the Patriots' new look offense. He led the team in tackles last year, and is one of the few dependable pieces to the defensive puzzle.



Being a Bills fan is tough. It's tougher than being a Christian preacher in 1st century Rome. It's so ugly that it should be featured on Dirty Jobs. They just love to find ways to lose, and you can't help but feel bad for them. These aren't cocky guidos from New Jersey supporting the Jets, or your token "I want to be different" friend who wears his Marino jersey all the time (they have them in New York and New England, folks). These are actual people, and you have to admire their dedication to a doomed team.

Enough pity. You know what that win reminded me of? 2001. The Patriots won games like this one that season, down by two scores with 126 seconds left, in need of a big special teams play, and Brandon Meriweather comes up with one. Then of all people, the kicker recovers the ball. Adam who?

The haters will ascribe this win to luck. Had McKelvin knelt in the end zone, the Pats lose, right? It was a Buffalo mistake that allowed the Patriots to win. But that's what happens in football. Good teams capitalize on mistakes. Good teams minimize the damage of their own mistakes. Had the Bills stopped Brady after that fumble, then Buffalo still wins.

Of course, you don't want to glorify a victory that's riddled with mistakes and poor play. Tom Brady was rusty, Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor didn't get anything going, and the defense was perhaps a bit overzealous with Trent Edwards. The defense also allowed that 6 minute touchdown drive in the 4th quarter that 9 times out of 10 is a game-clincher. All this must change, and change quickly.

It was nice to see Ben Watson being productive again. Give Tom Brady a tight-end with hands and opposing defenses are in big trouble in the red zone. And with little depth at WR past Moss and Welker, Watson becomes a key element to the offense.

There are a lot of wrinkles to iron out. Jerod Mayo's knee injury doesn't appear that bad. The 4-3 alignment doesn't work without him. The defense allowed 4.7 yards per carry. It also failed to make a big stop in a close game, which was the Patriots' strength in '03 and '04; and their weakness in '06 and '07.

Patriots @ Jets next Sunday in Jersey. The winner controls the AFC East.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Steven Senne
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Monday, September 14, 2009


And you thought waiting for the 2008 season was hard. Brady's back, and the '09 campaign starts tonight. And with throwback jerseys, too.

The Bills haven't beaten the Pats since that 31-0 shellacking in Week 1 of the 2003 season. That was the Lawyer Milloy game, in case you forgot. That's 11 straight Patriot wins in this series. And with #12 back, the Pats will get win #12.

No Richard Seymour for this game, and the adjustments will be tough to make. But the Bills are also missing a key piece, RB Marshawn Lynch is serving a suspension. The Patriots will miss Seymour the most in the run-stopping game, but without Lynch, the Bills will be running without cleats on.

The Bills added Terrell Owens, who will be underutilized because QB Trent Edwards will frequently be occupied with some very serious meetings with the ground. Randall Gene Moss is still the Real #81.

The Bills will be able to get a big play here and there, and might be capable of driving the ball down the field on occasion. They'll score 13 to 17 points. But it won't be nearly enough. The Patriots' passing offense will shine in the 1st half, and the multi-back running game will help drain the clock in the 2nd.

Patriots 38, Bills 17



Pedro Martinez stunned the Mets as the Phillies swept a doubleheader from their NL East rivals. He pitched 8 shutout innings, scattering 6 hits, striking out 7, and throwing 130 pitches. He hasn't thrown that many pitches in a game since Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS against the Athletics.

In 7 starts for the Phillies, Pedro is 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA, 34 strikeouts, and a 1.09 WHIP. He's only walked 6 batters.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It's so fun to watch the Sox beat the Rays. I just flat-out hate the team from Tampa Bay. They have this undeserved cockiness, a sense of entitlement. They have yet to earn my respect. And witnessing their collapse this year is extremely fulfilling. They've lost 11 straight, and are only 8 Red Sox wins (or losses on their own) from being eliminated from the playoffs. They now sit 4th in the Wild Card behind the Mariners.

The Sox put on a pitching display on Sunday. 18 combined innings divided among Jon Lester (8), Clay Buchholz (7), Billy Wagner (1), Hideki Okajima (1), and Jonathan Papelbon (1), and only 1 earned run allowed. Typically doubleheaders are split, and teams want to avoid them at all costs. But the Sox pitchers really clamped down on Sunday.

The Rangers split their doubleheader with the Mariners, so the Sox now have a 4 game lead in the Wild Card. That's a nice cushion to have going into a series with the Angels.

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his return Tuesday night as the Angels come to town. 10-7 John Lackey takes the hill for Los Angeles/Anaheim/California.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson


Richard Seymour finally reported to the Oakland Raiders, just in time to participate in their upcoming blowout loss to the Chargers Monday night. He'll wear the number 92 for the black and silver.

He claimed that it took him so long to make the 3,000 mile trip from Foxborough to Oakland because he was "blindsided" by the deal. What a load of crap. We all know he wanted assurances from Oakland, but didn't have any leverage to secure any.

To me, it's more embarrassing to need so much time to deal with this. How many athletes in how many other sports change teams without a peep of discontent, or a moment of hesitation?

Seymour claims he needed time to move his family. If that's the ONLY reason it took him so long, and if he were in contact with his new coaches in Oakland, why wasn't he in contact with the media? Why did everyone in the country, including all his new fans in the Bay Area, have to be kept in the dark?

Whatever. It's not our problem in New England anymore. I'm glad Seymour didn't do anything rash, and I feel bad for any player sentenced to a year playing for the Raiders. But as different as it will be to see the Patriots defense without Seymour (or Bruschi, Vrabel, and Harrison for that matter), how excited will Patriots fans be on draft day in 2011?


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Friday, September 11, 2009


It's finally happened (or has it?) The Raiders have "drafted and signed a five-day letter addressed to Seymour." This is an ultimatem. Seymour has 5 days to show up to practice. If he doesn't, he's effectively suspended for the 2009 season. He'll also be unable to achieve free agency in 2010. That is, of course, if the letter has been sent yet. That much is still uncertain, which shouldn't surprise us considering how uncertain this whole mess has been.

It's looking extremely unlikely that Seymour will participate in Oakland's Week 1 defeat to the Chargers. Even if he showed up today, he doesn't know the Raider defense at all.

I just don't understand what Seymour wants or expects from this situation. Doesn't he and his representation realize he's in a shitty but inescapable mess? Does he have the same agent as Phil Kessel?

San Jose Mercury News


Remember 2001, when the Patriots won thanks to some big special teams plays? Big returns, big blocks, big kicks. How nice would it be to see those days again?

But the Pats' special teams are hardly a liability.

Stephen Gostkowski is a fine kicker. And although he hasn't earned the place in New England lore that Vinatieri had, he hasn't yet had the chance. Last year he hit 90% of his field goals, including a 50 yarder. He's got everything you'd want in an NFL place kicker. In fact, he's slightly better than average at kicking off, frequently hitting it out of the end zone.

Chris Hanson is equally as good at punting. He's not stunning. He's not bad. He's dependable.

Jake Ingram takes over for Lonnie Paton at long-snapper. I anticipate no problems.

In the return game, the Patriots don't have a really ferocious kick returner. I guess I miss the days of Bethel Johnson, but having a big return threat always kept games more interesting. That's perhaps the only thing I'll miss about Ellis Hobbs. Matthew Slater and Laurence Maroney are listed as the top KR men on the depth chart, but this position will see many different players.

The punt return situation is much better. And hopefully, the Patriots will be returning more punts than kicks. Although Wes Welker has never returned a punt to the house, he's averaged about 10 yards per return as a Patriot. That's a nice little boost to an already potent offense. Julian Edelman and Kevin Faulk might also return punts in certain situations, or to keep Wes Welker healthy.

In the coverage game, the Patriots are quite solid. Matthew Slater acquitted himself nicely as a special teams specialist in '08, and looks to do more of the same. The Patriots don't have much depth at linebacker, which usually means the special teams game won't be too great.

Special teams won't steal any wins for the Patriots, but it won't cost them any either.