Monday, July 09, 2012

Ray Allen's Mid-Life Crisis

As a person who wants to see the Celtics win, Ray Allen leaving doesn't bug me much. He'd become a bench player. And didn't seem suited to being that. In the playoffs, he was less selective with his shots, willing to attempt riskier ones than normal. Almost as if he were hungry to take as many shots as he could in the reduced minutes he was on the floor.

His defense was also suffering, mostly due to injury. He now has two new first-names: "When Healthy." Every-time he's discussed now, it's "When healthy, Ray Allen..." And that's never a good sign. It means a player has chronic injury issues. And as a 36 year old with over 1,100 games under his belt, injury issues are part of the game, not just bad luck. They also rarely go away once they start appearing.

He's old, he's slow, he can't train as rigorously as he used to. Which means his shooting will likely worsen. He still had value as a role-player and a situational shooter. But he didn't want to be relegated to secondary status.

So he took less money to play for a good team that has made him believe that he'll do more.

The Celtics got slightly worse, the Heat got slightly better. It's not a major loss for me as someone who wants to see the Celtics win. Especially since overall this off-season, the Celtics have improved.

However, as a fan, with emotional attachments to the team and the game, I hate this Decision of his.

He didn't want to try to earn a spot up here. He didn't want to fight, didn't want to endure the embarrassment of being a bench player. He wanted his ego to be boosted by someone else, not by his own performance.

He's in a mid-life crisis. The Celtics are a sensible Volvo. He wanted a flashy red Porsche (Miami). He wants an instant confidence boost. He doesn't want to acknowledge, accept, and adjust to his aging. He didn't want to earn what he wants. He wanted it given to him because he feels like he deserves it.

Good luck to him. He helped the Celtics win a title in 2008, and that should never be forgotten. For the record, I hate this decision of his, I don't hate him or even dislike him. He's on the Heat, so I wouldn't mind seeing him fail. But he should be welcomed with very loud applause when the Heat play in Boston.

I'm sure Celtics fans will do that. They're one of the more knowledgeable and thoughtful fanbases in the NBA and in this town.

And if Ray Allen does get a standing ovation, it will also show him what he gave up in Boston to get his tires pumped in South Beach.

Broken Red Sox Welcome All-Star Break

The Red Sox are 3-8 in their last 11 games. They were 7-2 in their previous 9. That's 10-10. They're a .500 team capable of brilliance one week, then shameful performances the next. Every part of the team is talented but unreliable. It balances out over a long run. And the result is a 43-43 team.

Actually, they're a 32-23 team when their best pitchers are on the mound, and an 11-20 team when they're two worst starters pitch. Those two worst starters are Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. The Sox are a .582 team when anyone else starts. They're a .355 team when either of these guys pitches.

The Sox haven't won a Josh Beckett start since May 26th.

This isn't an aberration caused by bad luck or poor run support. These two pitchers are simply not pitching well. They're pitching poorly, and not just for two guys who were expected to pitch well. Beckett's ERA is 4.43. Lester's is 4.49. The ERA for the entire American League is 4.04. So both of these guys have ERAs that are about 0.40 higher than the League average. That's bad.

This weekend, Beckett and Lester failed. I heard some analysts applauding Beckett for settling down and going 5 innings on Friday, but he lost the game in the 1st inning. And then last night, Lester couldn't even go 5 innings. These two pitchers don't put the team in position to win very often.

There's no denying their talent, but there's also no denying their failure.

And that's the story of the Red Sox as a whole. You can point to injuries, and count down the days until Jacoby Ellsbury returns. But the two best pitchers on the team have ERAs that are about 10% higher than the AL average. How are you supposed to win when your most talented players are playing worse than the League's average talent?

Not to mention you have a middle-reliever who is obsessed with Mark Teixeira. Your best hitter is concerned about his contract. And your bullpen is a patched together mess that's one loose thread away from disintegrating.

During the All-Star Break, the Red Sox will be playing the most consistent baseball they've played all season long.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo