Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BOSTON BLOOD SOX AWARDS

It's that time of year again, time to dispense and distribute the Boston Blood Sox Awards. We've got a new Award this year. And as an added treat, I'll be giving out Awards for 2009, and for the 2000s decade.

The BBS Awards are determined entirely by me. The selection process is based on whatever games/players/teams I can conjur up in my hung-over post-New Year's mind.

Keep in mind, these awards are based on the calender year 2009, which can make things a bit muddled when it comes to hockey and basketball.

Here's a list of the Awards I'll be giving out, with last year's winner in parenthesis.

Frazee Award for Goat of the Year (Manny Ramirez)
Shaughnessy Award for Worst Sportswriter (Tony Maserati)
A-Rod Award for Biggest Choke/Disappointment (the Patriots)
Flutie Award for College Athlete of the Year (Nathan Gerbe)
Orr Award for Bruins Player of the Year (Phil Kessel)
Bill Russell Award for Celtics Player of the Year (Kevin Garnett)
Bledsoe Award for Patriots Player of the Year (Wes Welker)
Ted Williams Award for Sox Player of the Year (Kevin Youkilis)
Tom Brady Award for Biggest Surprise Out of Nowhere (Matt Cassel)
Bloody Sock Award for Toughness (Mike Lowell)
Game of the Year (ALCS Game 5)
Auerbach Award for Executive/Coach of the Year (Claude Julien)
Lifetime Achievement Award (Jerry York)
Athlete of the Year (Wes Welker)
Team of the Year (Boston Celtics)

Enjoy!

BBS AWARD FOR TEAM OF THE DECADE

What a fun decade to dissect. How enjoyable it is that there are some legitimate candidates for this Award. The two nominees:

Boston Red Sox
New England Patriots

Winner...












New England Patriots



Not only did the Pats win 3 titles in the decade, but their greatness spanned the entire 10 year frame. The Red Sox did well to win 2 World Series, but not only is 3>2, but the Sox also failed to make the playoffs in 2000, '01, '02, and '06. The Patriots only failed to make it in '00, '02, and '08. The Sox only won 2 AL titles, the Pats won 4 AFC titles. The Sox only won 1 divisional title, the Patriots claimed 7.

The Patriots were a third-rate franchise just a few years ago. And even in the 90's, they were an also-ran kind of team. You know how we now look at teams like the Chiefs? That's how everyone else saw our Patriots.

Almost all of the big stories in the NFL involved the Patriots this decade, at least on this side of Michael Vick. Writers from coast to coast try to find something spiteful to criticize about Bill Belichick. Writers scramble for Thesauri to find syllables for "great" when they talk about Tom Brady.

The Patriots are not only the Team of the Decade here, they are the Team of the Decade for the entire Country, whether the haters like it or not.

BBS AWARD FOR TEAM OF THE YEAR

There were some good teams in Boston this year. Good, not great. But there was only one team that actually won a Championship.

And that team is...

Boston University hockey.



Not only was BU the biggest team to win a title in 2009, they won everything they could. They took the Denver Cup in January. They claimed the Beanpot in February. In March they won the Hockey East regular season and tournament crowns. And in April, they won the National Championship.

Despite their dreadful start to the 2009-10 season, BU's record in the calendar year of 2009 is nothing short of superb. 28-11-6 for 62 points in 45 games.

BBS AWARD FOR ATHLETE OF THE DECADE

It was a great decade, wasn't it? After the ringless 90's, the 2000's saw 6 Championship parades. The most since the Celtics went ballistic in the 60's and won 9 titles. No other decade compares.

Here are the nominees for Athlete of the Decade:

Tom Brady - QB, New England Patriots
Paul Pierce - SF, Boston Celtics
Manny Ramirez - LF, Boston Red Sox
Marc Savard - C, Boston Bruins

And the winner is...

Thomas Edward Brady Jr.



A list of Tom Brady's accomplishments is insignificant to encapsulate what Tom Brady means to the Patriots and to the sports fans of Boston. As I mentioned above, the 1990's were a decade of woeful sadness. Ten years dominated by Dan Duquette, Rick Pitino, Pete Carroll, and Jeremy Jacobs.



The teams were occasionally competitive. The Bruins made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1990, the Red Sox progressed to the ALCS in '99, the Celtics visited the playoffs occasionally, and the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl.



But there was still no joy in Mudville. And to someone born in 1984, growing up a Boston sports fan in those dark times was like growing up knowing that Santa was not only a lie, but he actually touched little children as they slept.

There were some fine athletes in Boston. Drew Bledsoe, Pedro Martinez, Raymond Bourque. But no Champions. Not to belittle what these guys did, but without the team winning, watching individuals excel gets a little mundane, even painful. We even had to watch them win with other teams.



When Tom Brady and the Patriots beat the Rams, things changed, but not overnight. A Championship was glorious, but it wasn't until 2003 that we as fans began to EXPECT victory. That's when the Patriots 21 game win-streak started. In '04, the Red Sox changed the sports landscape in Boston from uphill to downhill. In '07, Boston was on top of the sporting universe, with a World Series Champion, an undefeated football team, a bound-for-glory Celtics team, and the #2 college football team in the country.

But Tom Brady started these expectations. If Tom Brady has a bad game, we theorize about injuries that must have been the culprit. If he throws a pick, we expect someone else is to blame. He's godlike in our eyes. Because he is The Creator of the sports world we now thrive in.

BBS AWARD FOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

This was kind of a tough one. The bigger, more important Awards typically are. Here are the nominees...

Rajon Rondo - PG, Boston Celtics
Marc Savard - C, Boston Bruins
Wes Welker - WR, New England Patriots
Tom Brady - QB, New England Patriots
Jon Lester - SP, Boston Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis - SP, Boston Red Sox

And the winner is...

Wes Welker.



Bittersweet as I write this, because there will likely be no Wes Welker at all in 2010. He won this Award last year, but it looks doubtful that there'll be a three-peat.

I remember watching a Patriots/Dolphins game on October 10, 2004. A guy named Wes Welker returned 5 kickoffs, 5 punts (for 41 yards), kick a field, and an extra point. And I thought to myself "This is Bill Belichick's dream player right here, a receiver who plays special teams and can kick in a pinch." And that dream eventually became reality.

Welker was outstanding for the Patriots this season. Clearly the 2nd most important member of the team behind Tom Brady, if not the most important. What he does to get open, and what he does after the catch is nothing short of extraordinary. Nobody moves the way he moves. He's one of a kind, a freak of nature. And that is why he won this Award for Athlete of the Year.

BBS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize, this Award is given to people who have actually done something. And this year's winner has accomplished a great deal.

The winner is...

Gene DeFilippo, Athletic Director at Boston College.



DeFilippo took the reigns of BC's Athletics in 1997. Before that, he was the AD for Villanova, an Assistant AD at Kentucky, and held various coaching positions in the football programs of Tennessee, Youngstown State, and Vanderbilt.

DeFilippo has certainly left his mark on BC. He's spearheaded campaigns to improve facilities. He oversaw construction of the Yawkey Athletics Center, which now houses the football team, freeing up space in the once cramped Conte Forum for other sports' locker rooms.

Remember the astroturf at Alumni Stadium?



No more!

Being the AD at Boston College is a balancing act. The school's insistence that athletes meet academic standards coupled with the need to remain competitive in all sports. Throw in competing with Boston's pro-teams for fan support and revenue. But under DeFilippo, BC has maintained its reputation for academic prowess (in '04, the football team had a 100% graduation rate).

At the same time, BC athletics have thrived on the court/field/ice:

The hockey team has won 2 NCAA titles during DeFilippo's tenure, as well as 6 Hockey East crowns, and 10 NCAA tournament appearances.

The football team has a 104-58 record since he took over as AD. BC has made it to 10 Bowl games during his tenure, and won 8 of them.

The basketball team has made it to the NCAA Tournament 7 times under DeFilippo, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2006, which matches the program's farthest advancement.

The baseball team went to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, for the first time since 1967. They lost to #1 Texas 3-2 in a 25 inning game, the longest college game ever.

When you peruse rosters for BC sports, you don't just see people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island anymore. Matt Ryan was from Pennsylvania. Craig Smith and Jared Dudley were from California. Nathan Gerbe was from Michigan.

The big accomplishment for DeFillippo and BC was the move from the Big East to the ACC. Although it was fraught with legal mines and booby traps, it's been worth it. ACC basketball is far superior top-to-bottom, ACC football just feels like it's on a bigger national stage with teams like Clemson, FSU, Miami, and Georgia Tech, and ACC baseball seems to have stimulated growth for BC's baseball program.

And just from personal experience, I work at BC sporting events, and at basketball my spot is a few feet away from Gene's seat at the press table. He's always full of energy, seems to know half the people in the crowd, and always has a piece of paper in front of him, taking notes on something. He is the very model of a modern Athletic Director.

AUERBACH AWARD FOR COACH/EXECUTIVE OF THE DECADE

In a decade of Championships, there tends to be a number of potential honorees for Coach/Executive of the Decade. Here are the nominees...

Theo Epstein - GM, Boston Red Sox
Terry Francona - Manager, Boston Red Sox
Danny Ainge - GM, Boston Celtics
Doc Rivers - Head Coach, Boston Celtics
Scott Pioli - Personnel Director, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick - Head Coach, New England Patriots

And the winner is...

Bill Belichick



Three things separate Belichick from the other nominees. #1 The league he works in. #2 The amount of success he's had. And #3, his relative lack of failure.

He's not perfect. Adalius Thomas can testify to that. But his seasons always seem to work out well. He's had 9 winning seasons in New England. The Patriots franchise only had 19 total before Belichick. He's won 7 division titles, 4 conference titles, and 3 Super Bowls.

Nuf Said.

AUERBACH AWARD FOR COACH/EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

This goes to the person off the field who did the most to further the cause of their team on the field.

And the winner is...

Peter Chiarelli, GM of the Boston Bruins.



Now the Bruins haven't won anything meaningful yet. They're 2nd place in the Northeast, and struggling to remain consistent in the 09-10 season. But they've done exceedingly well at locking up key talent for several years.

Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Byron Bitz have all recently had their deals lengthened, and all at a wholesale price.

Chiarelli and company also helped compose that Phil Kessel deal, which sent a player who didn't want to be here to Toronto for a pair of 1st round picks (Toronto has the 3rd worst record in the NHL at the moment).

Chiarelli and company also acquired Blake Wheeler, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder, and Steve Begin.

He's yet to make an earth-shattering, headline-grabbing acquisition. But that's sort of the point. Hockey is more of a team sport than any other sport. And with a shrinking cap number, Chiarelli's done well at keeping the Bruins deep and strong.

BBS AWARD FOR GAME OF THE DECADE

There were many, many games that could be Game of the Decade. Several Super Bowls, an NBA title game, maybe a big comeback against the Nets, certainly some World Series matches, maybe a hockey game or two. But THE game this decade, the one that exemplifies the theme of this decade as Boston's turn to be in the sunshine, is Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

After a 19-8 pummeling in Game 3, the Yankees went up 2-0 in Game 4, and the coffin was being nailed. Cabrera and Ortiz knocked in a few in the 5th to make it 3-2 Sox, but the Yanks reclaimed the lead in the next frame, going up 4-3.

Rivera started the 8th for New York, allowing a lead-off single, but then retiring the side. In the bottom of the 9th, Kevin Millar worked a walk, and was then pinch-ran for by Dave Roberts. Then...



Bill Mueller knocked a single into center, and the fleet-footed Roberts came round to tie the game. The ALCS was not going to end in four games, at least not four 9 inning games.

It went to 12. The Sox had Curtis Leskanic on the mound in the top of the inning, obviously getting desperate in that bullpen. But Manny and Ortiz were due-up in the bottom half. Leskanic did his job.

Manny singled, go-ahead run on. Just needed an extra basehit from Ortiz, or at least something to move the runner along. We got...



Great moments rarely have their greatness immediately appreciated. When George Patton first commanded a tank in combat, few historians were there to take note. When Abraham Lincoln ran for the Illinois General Assembly in 1823, no monuments were constructed. And when the Sox won Game 4, we all enjoyed it, but we had no idea of the epic chain of events that had been ignited.

The next night, a 14 inning, nearly 6 hour double-marathon of baseball once again ended with David Ortiz's bat...



Game 6 gave us one of the most indelible images in sports history...



It also gave us an inning of baseball played with riot police lining the field...



Then there was Game 7...



And the World Series...



But the magic all started with Game 4 of the ALCS. The Game of the Decade.

BBS AWARD FOR GAME OF THE YEAR

There were some really excellent games this year, but one of them stood head and shoulders over the rest. A dramatic, amazing, unbelievable win. In a Championship game no less. I am talking about, of course, BU's miracle triumph over Miami in the NCAA title game. Down 3-1 with a minute to go, BU scored twice, forced OT, and claimed the crown in the extra frame. Just watch and enjoy Clasicness unfold...



BLOODY SOCK AWARD FOR TOUGHEST ATHLETE OF THE DECADE

Well, this is a tough one, actually. But I'm gonna have to give it to Jonathan Tyler Lester of the Red Sox.



The word storybook comes to mind when Jon Lester's lifepath is considered. A prospect riding a rocket to the Majors, struck back hard by cancer, only to return and pitch a no-hitter. Then in the sequel, he wins Game 4 of the World Series.

Lester's also been through trade rumors, and all the drama surrounding the Red Sox these last few years. Despite all this, he's been their most reliable and consistent starter. That reliability is why he won this Award.

BLOODY SOCK AWARD FOR TOUGHEST ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Well, this is self-explanatory, isn't it? The toughest athlete, as deemed by me, gets this one. It's usually an athlete dealing with injuries.

And this year we have our first non-Red Sox, and even non-professional athlete to take this Award. And the winner is...

Mark Herzlich.



In 2008, in his junior year Herzlich was named an All-American, and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a Butkus Award finalist. Experts had him pegged as a mid-2nd-rounder in the NFL draft. He chose to stay at BC. He didn't choose what happened next.

He was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a kind of bone cancer. But even though he couldn't play, he remained a key part of the team, an indomitable presence on the sidelines.

The ACC and its member programs really won my respect this year with how they treated Herzlich. Schools and programs donated money to cancer research in his name, and often paid tribute to him in their own stadiums. It was a very classy season by BC's opponents.

And now he's cancer free, with his 4th year still ahead of him.

TOM BRADY AWARD FOR SURPRISE ATHLETE OF THE DECADE

Ummmmmmmmmmm, this Tom Brady Award is going to its namesake, Tom Brady. He was far and away the biggest and best surprise athlete of the decade.



With the 199th overall pick, the Patriots selected Tom Brady, Quarterback from Michigan. And the rest was history.



It really was a perfect storm to bring Brady to New England. QB wasn't a priority, and certainly other positions needed to be addressed. So any QB taken would have to be a 4th round pick or later. The NFL didn't see what Brady had. Nobody did. But the Patriots were in a good position to use a late pick on a guy who was labelled by everyone to be a back-up-at-best.

People talk about Brady's "intangibles." The whole "wanting it more," thing. That's all crap. Brady's greatness is tangible. Intelligence is tangible, it's just difficult to measure with a stopwatch or a statistic.

We've learned the last few years that trying to discern good QBs from bad QBS is impossible until they're actually in the fire of the NFL. Talent, arm strength, and speed are minuscule compared to poise and decision-making. Neither poise or decision-making are obvious in college football or combines.

Belichick and Pioli didn't draft Brady to be a god under center. They saw a potential back-up, and used a 6th round pick on him. Brady was the one who did the work, had confidence in himself, got an opportunity, and took full advantage of it.

TOM BRADY AWARD FOR SURPRISE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

This is given to an athlete that comes out of complete obscurity, with almost nothing expected of them, and winds up shining on the big stage. Appropriately, it's named after Tom Brady, who was a 6th round pick, a 4th stringer, then a 2nd stringer, then a starter, then a Super Bowl MVP.

And the winner this year is...

Sebastian Vollmer of the Patriots.



The 6' 8" DĂĽsseldorfer was picked 58th overall, and it was believed that SOME DAY he might have a chance to play left-tackle for the Patriots. But when two time Pro Bowler Matt Light went down with injury, Vollmer took advantage of the opportunity and excelled at the position.

He's had some injury woes himself, but has returned. And the left-tackle spot is now his to lose.

The Pats have him under contract for 3 more seasons after this one.

BLEDSOE AWARD FOR PATRIOTS PLAYER OF THE DECADE

This has been the Patriots' decade. Both within New England, and on the national stage. Three Super Bowl Championships in an unprecedented age of parity. 4 AFC titles. 7 AFC East titles. Win streaks of 21 and 18 games (real winning streaks, Indy). 112 regular season wins in the decade, 14 playoff games won, a total record of 126-51 (.712).

Here are the nominees for Patriots Player of the Decade, although I think the winner is fairly obvious...

Tom Brady, QB
Kevin Faulk, RB
Corey Dillon, RB
Wes Welker, WR
Randy Moss, WR
Deion Branch, WR
Troy Brown, WR
Richard Seymour, DE
Vince Wilfork, DT
Willie McGinest, OLB
Ty Law, CB
Rodney Harrison, S

And the winner is...

Tom Brady



5 Pro Bowls, an MVP Award, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 Super Bowl titles. 14-3 playoff record. Tom Brady is the best Patriot ever. He's one of the best QBs ever. He's up there in the hearts and minds of New Englanders, with Bird and Orr.

A 93.5 rating since coming into the League, 225 TDs, 98 INTs. 30,658 yards.

Then there's what he did in 2007, 50 TDs, only 8 INTs (that 50:8 ratio always staggers me), and a 117.2 rating.

He's simply the best.

BLEDSOE AWARD FOR PATRIOTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

The 2009 calendar year didn't begin with any Patriot playoff football. It was weird. Disappointing. Frustrating. Void of purpose and meaning. Thankfully, the same won't be said of the 2010 calendar.

We're spoiled up here. The Patriots have won the division, and most of us seem to remain focused on the games the team has lost this year. We obsess over the inadequacies in the defensive backfield, the lack of pass-rush, the red-zone troubles, the drama, the play-calling.

THE PATRIOTS ARE IN THE FREAKIN PLAYOFFS PEOPLE! FOR THE 7TH TIME IN 9 YEARS! Before 2001, the Patriots had a total of 9 playoff appearances. That's 9 between 1960 and 2000. And since then, 7 playoff appearances.

The nominees for Patriots Player of the Year are...

Tom Brady, QB
Wes Welker, WR
Randy Moss, WR
Vince Wilfork, DT
Tully Banta-Cain, OLB

And the winner is...

Wes Welker



This is the 3rd straight season that Welker has won this Award. He is the ONLY 3-time winner of a BBS Award. And it's hard to argue with him winning this.

122 catches (in 2009's games), 1,336 yards, he's also averaging 12.5 yards per punt return. Oh, and he has 122 catches and 1,336 yards in 13 games. Had he remained healthy, he would've challenged the NFL record of 143 receptions in a season.

TED WILLIAMS AWARD FOR RED SOX PLAYER OF THE DECADE

It's been a stupendous decade for the Red Sox. A pair of World Series titles, 6 playoff appearances (they had 6 total in the 80's and 90's, and only 9 total playoff appearances since 1918), a bevy of individual and team honors. And, of course, there have been some stupendous players whose machinations resulted in such unprecedented success for this franchise.

The nominess for Sox Player of the Decade:

Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Lowell, 3B
Manny Ramirez, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Pedro Martinez, SP
Curt Schilling, SP
Jonathan Papelbon, RP
Tim Wakefield, P

The winner is...

Manny Ramirez



I tried hard to justify giving Pedro this Award, but his time with the Red Sox in the 2000s wasn't long enough. And there's no arguing with Manny Ramirez's production while he was here.

He hit 274 homeruns in a Sox uniform, he knocked in 868 RBI, went to 8 All-Star Games, won 6 Silver Slugger Awards, a batting title, 3 OBP titles, 3 SLG% titles, 3 OPS titles, won 2 World Series rings, and was the 2004 World Series MVP. Without a doubt, the best right-handed hitter the Red Sox have had in their lineup since Jimmie Foxx.

TED WILLIAMS AWARD FOR RED SOX PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Was it a good year for the Sox? Maybe. It certainly wasn't great. It ended badly, but it was far from bad. But there were some fine individual performances that highlighted the season.

The nominees...

Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Jason Bay, LF
Jon Lester, SP

And the winner is...

Jon Lester.



Bay and Youkilis had excellent years. But what put Lester over the top was how much of a rock he was when this team struggled in the dog days of summer. Lester was far from a Cy Young candidate, but he was solid all season, peaking when the Sox were at their worst. He took over the role of Ace from an inconsistent Beckett, and even though I still consider him #2 material, he's still the Sox player of the year.

BILL RUSSELL AWARD FOR CELTICS PLAYER OF THE DECADE

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That's an apt way to describe the Celtics' decade. It started off nicely, with an ecstatic playoff drive in spring 2002. Then that team's glory faded away, as did the notion of postseason basketball. In 06-07, the Celtics were 24-58, 5th in the division, 15th in the conference. To add insult to injury, the lottery balls didn't fall their way. And then...



Anything is possible!

And now the nominees for the Celtics Player of the Decade...

Paul Pierce - F
Kevin Garnett - PF

The winner...

Paul Pierce.



Pierce spent the entire decade in green and white, going both up and down, then up again. He made Antoine Walker a better player. He gives Rajon Rondo those big assist numbers. He played Kobe Bryant to a T in the NBA Finals. He's defensive, he's offensive, he's the motherfucking Truth.

19,000+ points in his Celtics career. Only Bird and Havlicek have more.

Here are some of Pierce's franchise records. Now remember, this is the best franchise in the game of basketball here:

Scored 30 or more points in a franchise record 12 consecutive games.

Most points scored in a half (including Overtime): 46 (December 1, 2001 2nd Half vs. New Jersey Nets).

Most points scored in an overtime period: 13 (December 1, 2001 vs. New Jersey Nets)
Most three-point field goals made, career: 989 (1998–present).

Most free throws attempted in one season: 812 (2005-2006, breaking his own record of 753 in 2002-2003).

Most steals in one game: 9 (tied with Larry Bird; December 3, 1999 vs. Miami Heat).
Most free throws made without a miss, playoffs: 21 (Game 1, 2003 Eastern Conference First Round).

Most points scored in one half, playoffs: 32 (Game 4, 2003 Eastern Conference First Round vs. Indiana Pacers).

Highest scoring average through one month: 33.5 PPG (February 2006).

Only Celtics player in franchise history to lead the NBA in total points scored in a season, scoring 2,144 points in 2001-2002.

Career scoring average: 22.9 PPG, 2nd only to Larry Bird.

Currently is the Celtics 3rd all time leading scorer. Behind only Larry Bird, and John Havlicek.

It's safe to say that #34 is destined for The Garden's Rafters.

BILL RUSSELL AWARD FOR CELTICS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Another self-explanatory award. The nominees are obvious, although the final decision was a bit difficult.

Nominees...

Paul Pierce - SF
Kevin Garnett - PF
Rajon Rondo - PG

And the winner is...

Rajon Rondo!



Now, this was neck and neck with Pierce. And had Garnett remained healthy, he'd also be in that photo finish. I chose Rondo because he keys the offense. Granted, with Pierce, Allen, and KG, it's not a tough task to set them up. But Rondo does it better than most other point-guards in the Association could. And with the injuries, and Ray Allen's inconsistency, Rajon has actually been one of the most consistent aspects of the Celtics.

ORR AWARD FOR BRUINS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

This is a pretty self-explanatory award. The only caveat is that "year" means calendar year of 2009. So no, Phil Kessel has no shot in hell (although he won this award last season). Here are the nominees...

Zdeno Chara - D
Tim Thomas - G
Marc Savard - C
Milan Lucic - LW

And the winner is...


Marc Savard!



Savard's value was fully demonstrated when he was absent due to injury early in the 09-10 season. The Bruins' power-play was impotent, the offense overall was predictable, and Krejci was somewhat exposed as a true 2nd liner. Savard's return reinvigorated the team. The Bruins are 14-8-3 when Savard plays, 7-4-4 when he doesn't.

Oh yeah, he also led the team in points last year with 88, 63 assists, and 25 goals.

Rangers 3, Bruins 2


Not surprisingly, the Bruins decided to keep up their inconsistent ways last night. There are some times that I hope for a 5 or 6 game losing streak. At the very least, it'll learn the Bruins a lesson that playing like crap for 2 periods a night does indeed cost you games. Instead, they're able to escape with miraculous finishes like the one in the Winter Classic. And they nearly escaped last night with at least a point.

What's worse, the Bruins may lose Patrice Bergeron, who was hit in the hand by a Dennis Wideman slapshot. And I'm not surprised that a Wideman shot failed to hit the net, but did hit someone in the hand.

Bruins @ Senators tonight.

ORR AWARD FOR BRUINS PLAYER OF THE DECADE

It hasn't been a phenomenal decade for the Bruins. 4 times, they failed to make the playoffs, inexcusable in the NHL. The 5 times they did make the postseason, they were ejected in the 1st round 4 times.

But the worm has started to turn. The Bruins started the decade with an epic 2-1 win in the NHL's biggest regular season game. They ended the last decade with their first playoff series triumph in 17 years. They have young, talented players locked up under contract. Things aren't quite as black and gloomy for the Black & Gold.

The nominees for player of the decade...

Marc Savard - C
Patrice Bergeron - C
Zdeno Chara - D
Joe Thornton - C
Glen Murray - RW

And the winner is...


Marc Savard!



Since joining the Bruins in 2006, Marc Savard has amassed 284 points, 71 goals, 213 assists. In all three full seasons he's been a Bruin, he's led the team in points and assists.

Patrice Bergeron deserves an honorable mention here, as does Joe Thornton. Bergeron for the consistent effort he's put in for years with this team, and Thornton for his sheer ability, although he never realized his potential here in Boston.

Marc Savard is a leader, an all-zone player, and the craftiest playmaker in the NHL.

FLUTIE AWARD FOR COLLEGE ATHLETE OF THE DECADE

This is an interesting one, because by definition, these guys can only register a maximum of 4 years in the decade. Often they only get 2 seasons to really shine. And if they're truly excellent, they typically go pro as juniors.

Here are the nominees:

Matt Ryan - QB, BC Football
Cory Schneider - G, BC Hockey
Nathan Gerbe - C, BC Hockey
Brad Thiessen - G, Northeastern Hockey
Chuck Kobasew - C, BC Hockey
Andrew Alberts - D, BC Hockey
Matt Gilroy - D, BU Hockey
John Curry - G, BU Hockey
Craig Smith - F, BC Basketball
Troy Bell - G, BC Basketball
Jared Dudley - F, BC Basketball

And the winner is...

Matt Ryan.



You know, any one of the nominees above deserve this Award. Ryan stands out only because of the stage he was on. A stage which he had a hand in building for himself and the BC football program.

BC football is an also-ran program from a national perspective. Respected, solid, but far from elite. But Matt Ryan brought the team close to greatness, as close as it's been since the heady days of Doug Flutie.

His senior campaign, he threw for 4,507 yards, 31 TDs, and a 127.04 rating. He was drafted 3rd overall by the Falcons. His jersey is still the 2nd most worn at BC football games (behind Flutie's), if not the most. Chestnut Hill also boasts the 2nd most Falcons jerseys per capita, just behind Atlanta.

FLUTIE AWARD FOR COLLEGE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

For this Award, I not only consider talent and achievement, but also scale of stage. In other words, a Division-IA football game is a much larger stage than a Division-II wrestling match. In other other words, BC dominates this award.

Nominees:

Kevin Shattenkirk (just for the name) - D, BU hockey
Kieran Millan - G, BU hockey
Brad Thiessen - G, Northeastern hockey
Montel Harris - RB, BC football
Matt Gilroy - D, BU hockey

And the winner is...

Brad Thiessen.



This is the 4th time I've given out this Award, and Thiessen is the first non-BC athlete to win.

Thiessen carried Northeastern to their first NCAA tourney in 15 years. He was the Hockey East player of the year for 08-09, an All-American, and a Hobey Baker finalist.

In 41 games for the Huskies last season, he stopped 1,195 shots, registering an unreal .931 SV%, and a 2.12 GAA. He was only a junior, but decided to enter the professional ranks, now playing for Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

I was going to give this Award to Montel Harris for his 1,457 rushing yards on the season, but how tough was the ACC this year? Not very. I was considering BU goalie Kieran Millan, but he's struggling so far in the 09-10 season. So Thiessen breaks the BC stranglehold on this Award.

VARITEK AWARD FOR MOST OVERRATED PLAYER OF THE DECADE

Boston fans tend to overrate many of their athletes. This Award was a tough one to narrow down to nominees, then to actually pick a winner.

Nominees:

Jason Varitek - Red Sox
Tedy Bruschi - Patriots
Antoine Walker - Celtics
Brian Scalabrine - Celtics
David Ortiz - Red Sox
Richard Seymour - Patriots

And the winner is...

Tedy Bruschi.



I'll preface my remarks by noting that I'm a Tedy Bruschi fan. I have a silver Tedy Bruschi jersey (like the one he's wearing in the above photo after picking off the Dolphins for a score in a 12-0 win). I think TB54 is a sure-fire Patriot Hall-of-Famer. But he's not going to Canton, OH. When he retired this year, believe it or not, there were some out there who felt that's where he belonged.

Bruschi fit perfectly into a scheme. He and his defensive cohorts made big plays because they each did their jobs. Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, and him all helped each other out.

But he's not great. He's good. He's solid. But he's not great. In fact, his last few seasons were subpar or worse. He missed tackles, missed assignments, couldn't cover, and was negligible as a pass rusher.

I'll honor Tedy Bruschi as a key part of championship teams, but he's nowhere near as great as most people in New England think so.

VARITEK AWARD FOR MOST OVERRATED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

This is a new addition to the BBS Awards. Jason Varitek is one of the most overrated players in recent Boston sports history. I liked Varitek until he set Scott Boras on Theo and the front office, trying to bilk the Sox for $10 million. The $5 million in checks he cashed from '09 is still too much.

This Award also goes to guys who get free passes.

The winner/loser is David Ortiz.



Ortiz hit 28 homeruns, and you'd think he hit 38 or 48. I find it laughable that his reaching 28 homeruns is considered a great achievement because he didn't hit one until May 20. 28 homeruns in a 128 game span is a nice accomplishment. But it's a 162 game season.

Even with Ortiz's 28 homeruns, he hit .238 with a .332 OBP (career .377 OBP). He only slugged .462. He hit .213 on the road, .253 with runner's in scoring position, .210 late & close, and .083 in the ALDS. He had a bad year. But nobody wants to say it.

Oh, and it was also revealed that he took PEDs. Yet nobody in New England took his feet to the coals over it. He delayed giving his side of the story, eventually fed a blatant fable to the media, and everyone ate it up.

Nobody wants to say it, because he's so beloved here, but he's not the same David Ortiz anymore. Perhaps it's the lack of juice, or the lack of Manny. Maybe he's just one of those Roger Maris type players that can have 3 or 4 good seasons, but then slumps. He's a DH, who struggles to hit his weight. He's not a slugger anymore (32nd in MLB in HR, 66th in slugging), and he's not clutch.

SOX SIGN BELTRE JUST TO PISS ME OFF


Adrian Beltre, who hit .265 last year, with a .304 OBP (Varitek's was .313), and only 8 homeruns, will now be the Red Sox third baseman, at least part-time. Why? I don't know. But the fact that the Sox are touting his defense speaks volumes as to how inadequate he truly is.

Thankfully, he's been signed to a 1 year deal. At least that's what all the reports are saying. That fits in with the whole "bridge" idea that the front office was talking about a few weeks ago.

So here's the Sox lineup these days:

1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. C Martinez
4. 1B Youkilis
5. RF Drew
6. DH Ortiz
7. 3B Lowell/Beltre
8. LF Cameron
9. SS Scutaro

I can sum that up in one word: yikes

The Sox did score 872 runs last year, which was 3rd in baseball. But they struggled with clutch scoring, or scoring OnDemand as I call it. They'd put up 8 or 9 runs against crappy pitching, but struggle to get more than 1 or 2 against decent arms.

And this "bridge season" is starting to look like The Bridge of Death from The Holy Grail.

A-ROD AWARD FOR BIGGEST CHOKE/DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE DECADE

There are certainly instances of teams and players choking that stand-out. But the most painful is one I've tried very hard to forget. I'm talking, of course, about Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.



If not for the World Series title 370 days later, I wouldn't be able to relive this moment. I was drinking heavily in my friend's dorm room at Fairfield University, a mere 42 miles from the Bronx.

A 4-0 lead, chipped away by Giambi homeruns. Then the 8th inning, the Sox up 5-2 thanks to an Ortiz homer, Pedro Martinez at exactly 100 pitches. Only 6 outs from the pennant, Grady Little decided to let Pedro start the 8th.

Pop-out, then a double. Pedro now at 110 pitches and starting to show it. Embree and Timlin, both lights out in the playoffs, available in the pen. Bernie Williams hits a single, knocks in Jeter. Pedro at 115 pitches. 5-3 Sox. Matsui hits a ground-rule double.

So Pedro is now at 118 pitches. He's allowed two doubles, a single, and a run in this inning. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. And he's still on the mound to face Posada. Posada hits a double, knocks in 2 runs. Now Pedro's relieved, Embree gets an out, then Timlin gets the final out of the inning.

The game goes to 11, and we know what happened then.

Perhaps 18-1 was more monumental of a choke, but nothing else compares to the pain of this collapse.

A-ROD AWARD FOR BIGGEST CHOKE/DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

Well, maybe I should change the name of this, as Alex Rodriguez had a decent post-season. Then again, i'm a stickler for tradition and a creature of habit.

This is a vague sort of Award. Choke/Disappointment has a broad range. And the winner (loser) this year is...

The offense of the Boston Red Sox.



The Sox scored 872 runs in the regular season, which was 3rd in the Majors. But they only put up 7 runs in their 3 post-season games. They feasted on bad pitching, but couldn't produce runs on demand. Their performance in the ALDS was a monumental choke.

SHAUGNESSY AWARD FOR WORST SPORTSWRITER OF THE DECADE


Well, the obvious winner of the Shaughnessy Award for the 2000s is the one and only Dan Shaughnessy. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of SpyGate related candidates, and countless national pundits out there who deserve this dishonor. But in this ubersuccesful decade in Boston sports, the most miserable of the now defunct
Fellowship of the Miserable (Shaughnessy) deserves this award more than anyone.

In recent memory, the two worst things Shaughnessy's concocted are his criticism of the eventual-NBA-Champion Celtics for not sweeping the Atlanta Hawks. And earlier this year, he ripped Tom Brady for paparazzi photos of him being fed by Gisele, as if that were a horrible offense.

He just tries to stir the pot. He poisons the newfound positivity in this town in an effort to survive. He's a pest that feeds off negative energy.

SHAUGHNESSY AWARD FOR WORST SPORTSWRITER OF THE YEAR

I'll be honest, nobody really stuck out this year. So even though he's not really a writer much, in spirit he is still eligible for this award. So the winner of the Shaughnessy Award is...

Michael Holley



I used to be able to listen to Dale & Holley while riding my exercise bike. But I got sick of them, and crossed over to the darkside (FM) from 10 to 2. Holley is so pretentious. He never argues about the actual point of a discussion. He comes up with retarded ways to phrase things. He asks lame-brained token sports-talk questions. And he pauses...


at least twice...


every sentence...


for no reason.

I hate you Michael Holley.

FRAZEE AWARD FOR GOAT OF THE DECADE

This one is easy to decide, so I'm going to skip the whole nominee part. Grady Little entered into consideration for half a second, but this guy is the biggest goat in recent Boston sports history...

Manny Ramirez, formerly of the Boston Red Sox.



We tend to forget recent Red Sox history before 2003. But I remember how much criticism Manny Ramirez took. Remember when he was "sick" and was then caught having drinks with Enrique Wilson? Remember when he slid hands-first into home and broke his fingers? Remember all the fly-balls he walked out, all the questionable injuries, all the defensive miscues.

Then through '04-'07, we fell back in love with him. It was sort of like a shaky marriage that had suddenly won the lottery. The problems were still there, but the joy of winning overwhelmed and minimized those problems.

Then he pushed down a Sox employee for not having enough tickets for him. Then he slapped a teammate IN PUBLIC. Finally, he was sent packing after giving the Sox an ultimatum.

Manny won the Goat of the Year Award twice, and this is only the 4th year I've been doing this.

Oh yeah, he also took PEDs.

FRAZEE AWARD FOR GOAT OF THE YEAR

This goes to the biggest nemesis of Boston sports fans who also wears a Boston uniform. The nominees are:

Adalius Thomas (Patriots)
Randy Moss (Patriots)
Phil Kessel (Bruins)

And the winner is...

Adalius Thomas of the New England Patriots.



Thomas' tenure in Foxborough has been nothing short of disappointing. But this year, instead of eating his so-called humble pie, he used his mouth to make noise against his 3-time Super Bowl winning head coach. Adalius has been a healthy scratch for 2 games this year, which is remarkable considering how plagued with injuries the Pats have been. He also leaked Late-Gate to the media, and was the ONLY player who publicly whined about it afterward.

He's a kindergärtner.