Monday, January 25, 2010


Potential replacement for "Zombie Nation" if the Bruins ever score a goal again?


I never hesitated to pick a team to root for in the NFC title game. And that contest ended perfectly. An absolutely moronic INT by Brett Favre across his body, instead of running 7 yards to the sideline and securing a 49 yard field goal attempt to win the game. Vintage Favre.

But the Jets/Colts game was a tough one. I found myself rooting for turnovers by both teams. Turnovers, sacks, negative plays in general. I took a nap through most of the 4th quarter. Hatred makes me sleepy.

But I'm happy with the Colts winning. Happy might not be the right word. Relatively content?

Because at least I'm accustomed to Peyton and the Colts being praised. And at least they are a genuinely good team. It would've been entertaining to see them reap what they sewed by being eliminated by the team they let sneak into the playoffs.

But that enjoyment would be shortlived. It would soon be replace by my new least favorite word: "Refreshing."

Rex Ryan is refreshing. "He's the Anti-Belichick." Rec Ryan is a fat, lucky loudmouth that's pregnant with twins.

And now, my TV stand can relax, and no longer fear struggling to support Rex Ryan's obesity.



The name Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf won't ring many bells. That is until I refer to him as the Iraqi Information Minister, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob.

Whatever happened to that guy? I have suspicions he works at 4 Yawkey Way. How else do you explain things like the Red Sox' sudden interest in defensive play? How do you explain the differing medical views on Jason Bay's knees?

The Red Sox claim to be interested in defense, but they're really interested in defending their image. Folks, they're not trying to win a World Series in 2010. They're trying to win 85 to 93 games, remain "in the hunt" until September 15th or so, perhaps even have an outside shot of being swept out of an ALDS.

This is not a World Series contender, barring several dozen season-ending injuries to key players on opposing teams. Things like CC Sabathia succumbing to gigantism, or Mark Teixeira getting arrested for every unsolved murder committed in New York.

The Red Sox offseason maneuvering appears to be complete. Maybe a few more bit parts to be added here and there, but nothing significant. And this is what the rotation looks like:

Jon Lester
Josh Beckett
John Lackey
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Clay Buchholz

It's pretty good, and fairly deep. But there are glaring and exploitable weaknesses.

Lester sucks after 100 pitches thrown. That's not the end of the world, but against good teams with patient hitters, this will cause either early exits or blown leads.

Who is Josh Beckett? In 2007, he was Cy Young. In 2006 and 2008 he was Jeff Fassero. And last year he was Cy Fassero.

John Lackey is solid, a middle-rotation kind of guy.

Daisuke. What a crapfest that's been. Is he going to be healthy? Is his translator going to be healthy? Is he going to be honest with the team regarding his training regimen? The Sox can blame themselves here, they gave him every special treatment and amenity under the rising sun, and this guy just doesn't feel like a member of the team.

Clay Buchholz is talented, but again, fits in best as a middle of the rotation guy.

So the two supposed Aces, Lester and Beckett, each have flaws. Lester can't go too deep into games, and Beckett is more like an Ace in Blackjack, he's capable of giving you a lot or very little.

It's a good rotation, but would be exposed in a playoff series against any capable collection of hitters.

Then there's the lineup:

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

It starts off very nicely 1 thru 4. Then Drew, who can be penciled in to miss 40 games with snowflake injuries.

Then Ortiz, who enjoyed a season free of criticism despite being caught cheating, blatantly lying about said cheating, and only hitting .238. In fact, his mere 28 HRs were CELEBRATED by pinkhat Sox fans. He slugged .159 below his mark from 2007. And there's very little reason to believe he'll improve.

Adrian Beltre has a great glove. That's all the Red Sox Info Ministers have spouted. These are the same people who will go on and on about how vital OBP is. Beltre's was .304 last year. That's .009 below Jason fucking Varitek's.

The Sox will return to worshiping OBP when they discuss Cameron. His was .342, which is good when your Average is .250. Cameron also has a better glove than anyone else in history if you believe in baseball numerology, or if you look at his stats through a seer stone in a hat.

For some reason, the suddenly defensive minded Red Sox didn't sign Alex "Should've Won the Gold Glove" Gonzalez. They got Marco Scutaro. Who's actually not too shabby of an offensive player. But there's no power.

This lineup has no power. It's got guys who can get on base, play station-to-station, and eventually be stranded on 3rd.

It's not an altogether bad team. It's good actually. But just good. But still well short of actually contending for anything. And I don't mind too much. Bay's offensive output was as inconsistent as MRIs are of his knees. And who were the big free agents out there this season?

The Sox got one of them in John Lackey. There were some big names traded, like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. But they were traded for each other!

So while I mock the Red Sox for their blatant propaganda and outright fabrications. I essentially concur with their philosophy this offseason.

In 2011, the Sox will have a much wider range of options. They can retain Victor Martinez, move him to 1st, Youkilis to 3rd, and sign Joe Mauer. Carl Crawford will also be a free agent.

The money being spent on Lugo and Renteria will no longer be on the books. Lowell's contract will conclude, as will Ortiz's.

So endure the sub .525 (below 85 wins) season. Enjoy Adrian Beltre's defense, and use the bathroom when he's at bat. Enjoy quicker games thanks to the bottom of the Sox' lineup making for easy innings. And bottle in your rage, only to be released in the next offseason when Theo announces the 2011 campaign to be a tunnel.


The Bruins don't play again until Friday. And I for one am glad. My liver could use a break.

The Bruins have lost 5 in a row, 8 of their last 9, and have collected a mere 7 points in the month of January, with only 2 more games left to play. They've slipped to 9th place in the East, and could plummet as far as 13th by the time they take the ice against Buffalo on Friday.

This weekend, the Bruins lost a close one to Ottawa, and were then obliterated by the Hurricanes in Raleigh, 5-1.

Injuries can be blamed only so much. No Savard means no power play. No Begin or Bitz means much less muscle along the boards. But as I've said before, a lack of Savard cannot pardon a Blake Wheeler turnover, or a missed assignment by Dennis Wideman.

Does Michael Ryder know that he can work out in a weight room to get stronger? Maybe then he'll be able to win more than 5% of his battles and perhaps maintain possession of the puck in traffic. I'm so glad I don't have a #73 trampstamp on my lower back (long story).

Thank God for guys like Daniel Paille. Where would the team be without him?

The real question is: what to do?

Some have suggested picking up a "stud scorer." And that'd be nice, but at what cost? Trade your future to rent Ilya Kovalchuk for 1/3 of a season?

Kovalchuk would be nice, and certainly less frustrating then watching David Krejci flail at the puck like an alcoholic, or Michael Ryder aim his shots at the goalie's chest.

But the price would probably be too much for what would amount to help in only one category.

The Bruins scored 274 goals last year (3.34 per game, 2nd in the NHL). They've scored 126 this year (2.52 per game, 30th). The problem is too large to be solved by just one player. And if you got Kovalchuk, that's likely all you'd get at the deadline.

The Bruins need extended possessions, not just one-shot rushes. They need physical players that know how to win battles for the puck. Right now, too many possessions are ending with a Bruin being outmuscled at the halfwall or in the corners. The Bruins can't dumpandchase because there's a 70% likelihood (or so it seems) that they'd dump the puck in, then chase the opposing forwards back up the ice.

And maybe it's time for the Bruins to get a little dirty. The one thing the Bruins have working for them is their Penalty Kill, at 87.7%, it's 2nd in the NHL. Why not take advantage of that fact? Slash a few ankles, make roughing penalties really rough.

Perhaps the Bruins should acquire some antagonists, some punks. They really don't have any. Lucic is the closest thing to one, but he's too clean of a player for the goon's role. I'm talking a guy like Sean Avery here. A real prick that even Bruins fans don't like.

Get other teams flustered, get them as emotional and desperate as we are. Then make them pay.

Bruins @ Sabres Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Gerry Broome