Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Red Sox starting out for the season

I don’t care if the Red Sox win this season or not, I just want them to play better than last season and not be the laughing stock of the MLB. Last season was really harsh and the fans have somewhat abandoned their home team, but they have worked hard to better themselves and this year’s team is ready to go in fighting. The 2013 MLB season has just got in to full swing and so far it looks like the Red Sox might just redeem themselves after last year’s travesty.

After the marathon bombing, teams and fans have stood together, the optimism is building slowly again and there is a certain determination of not being beaten down by the recent events. Instead of fans staying home and enjoying elite online entertainment at sites like Gaming Club they are venturing out to support their cities teams and throw their weight behind events.

Opening day saw the Sox being pitted against an Evil Empire, who have been on a winning streak recently that now seems to be waning. The Bronx Bombers were set to play the Sox and it was hopeful that the Yanks Empire would topple and they would lose. The new Sox team had to prove themselves and started off the game with Jon Lester taking the mound and facing off against CC Sabathia. Lester got the game going with a bang as he made it through the first inning without allowing a hit to get past.

It took some last ditch home runs by the Sox in the 9th innings but they capitalised the singles and made it happen. This was their biggest weakness last year and it looks like this year they have managed to close the gap and get past the errors of the season before.

The Red Sox walked away with a win of 8-2 but honestly it was a touch and go game that could have gone either way. It was a little like tiptoeing on broken glass, but it was still a win-something that seemed to elude them most of last season. As a starting out game it wasn’t bad, but you can bet they need to keep improving, because the New York team was a little broken and the Sox can’t get ahead of themselves, they need to keep training and kick butt.

Felger and Mazz Were Morons Yesterday

So yesterday afternoon I would turn on Felger and Mazz, then after 3 minutes of listening to their inane, ignorant, and repetitive whining about the Patriots Draft, I'd have to turn off the radio.

What pisses me off is that they repeatedly admit that they don't know much about these college players, and just before they say they disagree with what the Patriots did, they say "I don't understand." They don't understand, so they disagree.

They questioned the Patriots trading out of the 1st round. But this was the most unremarkable, mediocre draft in recent memory. Unless you were looking for offensive tackles, this draft was like a buffet of bologna sandwiches. Some had mustard. Some didn't. None of them were worth cutting in line. And maybe it was better to wait longer to get more.

Neither Felger and Mazz asked or answered a simple question: Who would you have taken at 29? Who was so good at 29? All of the players out there, apart from a few taken at the front of the draft, were if-he-can players. All of the players available were chances. It made sense to take more chances than just one.

And other teams felt the same. The Chiefs waited as long as possible for someone to offer to take the #1 overall pick. Other teams traded out. It seemed like only the Jets and Vikings truly wanted to pick in the First Round.

Then Felger and Mazz criticized the amount of Rutgers players taken. Felger got emotional and accused the Patriots of taking players because Bill Belichick's son Stephen Belichick might have known them in class.

Rutgers had the #4 defense in college football last year (behind Alabama, Notre Dame, and BYU). They allowed 14.2 points per game, and only 20 offensive TDs (the same amount Bama allowed) in 13 games. The Patriots drafted two DBs and a linebacker from that defense. I doubt they went into the Draft planning to take three Scarlet Knights. But in the later rounds they were still there. They took three players from a good defense, who were coached well, who might fit into the Patriots system.

No matter what happened in the Draft, Felger and Mazz were going to have a Monday show revolving around how the Patriots think they're smarter than everyone else. They have fallen in love with that narrative based on selective facts, uninformed opinions, and emotional baggage from the 2005 Patriots offseason.

I know writing a blog post about what a pair of jabbering sportsradio personalities fill their 4 hours with is kind of lame. But these two reached an uncharted level of simple-mindedness, emotionalism, and whining. Felger was spouting baseless conspiracy theories. Mazz sounded like a C- student complaining that he didn't understand the test, even though the A and B students had no complaints. Mazz sounded the most like the kid who doesn't get algebra when Mike from Wayland called, and Mazz thought he caught the caller on a mistake. "Yes you did! Yes you did! Yes you did!"

I'm surprised Mazz didn't say "I am rubber, you are glue," or "Takes one to know one."

Every fact that was brought up to refute Felger's theories was dismissed. Every questioning of Mazz's complaints was misunderstood.

They don't understand, so they get frustrated. THERE WAS NOBODY BLATANTLY GOOD AT 29. Rutgers had a great defense. The Patriots have drafted well recently. They traded up last year when suitable talent was available. This year the situation was different. But such a thought is too complex for them to understand. And instead of trying to understand something that strays from the narrative they've constructed, they strongly disagree with it.

I'm done venting. Give Mike from Wayland his own segment on the show. Even if it's just to school Felger.

Herbal City LLC Has What It Takes To View The World From A Psychedelic Point

Guest post by Anna J

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Patriots Have Decent, Unspectacular Draft

If you were expecting much from this draft, you're either very optimistic, very unrealistic, or very stupid. The draft as a whole was low on talent. Can you remember the last time the team picking #1 overall waited as long as possible for someone to trade for their pick? The Pats were also picking at the tail-end of the draft. And unlike past years they didn't have many picks coming in.

All things considered, I think the Patriots did okay. They found some decent talent that could contribute in different ways. They found some guys who have problems, and if those problems are sorted they can be very good. They also made a deal to acquire LeGarrette Blount, who ran for over 1,000 yards in 2010. They got him for a 7th round pick and an Olympic runner who wants to be a part-time football player.

The Pats traded out of the first-round, which upset some people, seemingly more on principle than on losing a chance to get any specific player. Everyone I've heard complain about this trade has been unable to answer the question "Who would you have taken at 29?" These people have emotional baggage from previous drafts. They're mad at the idea of trading a pick (even though other teams did it), not this specific instance. The Patriots made a good deal to add to their number of selections in a very hit-or-miss, mediocre draft.

And here are my thoughts on who they took...

Jamie Collins, an OLB/DE was their first pick. Collins had a great junior year, but "dogged it" his senior year. He was playing for a very bad team. Some teams stay away from guys with his kind of reputation. But a good team with a good coach can take the chance. The logic is simple. If he tries, he's athletic enough to find a place on the field. If he doesn't, he's gone.

Then they drafted WR Aaron Dobson out of Marshall. He played as an X receiver with a bad QB. Now he'll be in the mix with a good QB. With the lack of current depth at WR on the team, Dobson has a chance to get reps. He just needs to learn the playbook, which is always tough for new players.

The Patriots drafted a pair of DBs from Rutgers in the 3rd round. They'll join former Scarlet Knight Devin McCourty. For the first time in years, the Patriots have a secondary that is not a complete mess at the top of the depth chart. Talib was a key player whose loss hurt in the playoffs. Dennard is an early-round talent who could be even better in his sophomore season. What the Pats need is depth in the secondary. The dropoff from Talib to backups is what killed them in the AFC Championship game. Neither of these guys seem like they'll be big impact players, but both should get playing time in certain situations. And that's what the Pats desperately needed from their defensive backfield.

In the 4th round the Pats took another WR, Josh Boyce out of TCU. He is a combine stud. Fast, agile, can be an outside-the-numbers threat. But he's inconsistent with blocking and catching. He entered the Draft as a junior so he might be able to hone those skills. If he can, he'll be very productive. If not, he'll be an obscure memory and an Arena League All-Star.

Michael Buchannan is a 6' 5" frame that needs to be filled in. He needs strength. Plain and simple. He's a DE/OLB that can drop into coverage, but he needs to get bigger. He also has a DUI arrest. So stop drinking and start lifting, Michael.

The Patriots ended their draft by taking their third Rutgers defensive player, linebacker Steve Beauharnais. He's small, but smart. He can play in different situations, including special teams. As far as 7th round picks go, he's not bad. Lots of upside here. Undersized LBs have done well on this team before.

So no players who will have jerseys sold at the Pro Shop anytime soon. The players that have the most upside also have downsides. There are a lot of "if he can" players here. So maybe one or two hit big. Maybe one or two find a role as a backup. And the rest get real jobs.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Patriots Trade Out of First Round

It's difficult to get excited about trading down. It's much easier to get excited about the potential of a brand new player. The Patriots replenished their picks by trading their first-rounder for four picks. But those picks don't have highlight reels. They don't have 40 times. They're not "long," they don't have a "motor."

It's hard to get pumped about adding picks.

At the same time, what player was around at the 29th pick that was exciting? That WR from Clemson was gone. It was a very unspectacular bunch of players.

It isn't just about the deal with the Patriots. It isn't just about the price or the value. It is about the players, or lack of players. Last year there were players they wanted, and they moved up to get them. This year there wasn't anyone the Pats were excited about. The Vikings were willing to surrender a boatload of picks. It made sense, to the Patriots, to make the deal.

Just like they emphasize situational football, they also made this move because of the situation. The trade was good enough, the players weren't. Simple as that. Had other players been available, maybe they don't make the deal. If the Vikings don't offer as much, or another team offered more, they don't trade with Minnesota.

They got a pretty good deal.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Don't Know What the Patriots Will Do Tonight, But I Already Agree With It

In Bill We Trust. Some people say that with sarcasm. Then they list all the mistakes that "Bellichick the GM" has made over the years. Then they rant about Richard Seymour and Asante Samuel.

Belichick isn't perfect. The Patriots make mistakes. But in the long run it's smart to bet on them. So whatever the Pats do tonight, it's probably a good, smart move.

I have no idea who most of these college players are. I also have no idea how they will do in the NFL. And guess what, nobody else does. Although people like to think they do. People like to think they know the game more than Belichick. Which is preposterous. I don't think anybody understands the game and the cap like the Patriots and Belichick. Certainly not some sportsradio hindsightist, and certainly not some token fan.

Sorry, you don't know as much as him. Not even close.

I'm not saying you should agree with everything the Patriots do. I'm saying that if you don't get it, just roll with it. Why get stressed?

Do you understand everything about human anatomy? Do you understand how to pilot a plane? Do you get the bond market? You trust doctors to take care of you when you're sick, you trust a stranger with wings pinned on his shirt to control an airplane, and you give someone in a suit money for your retirement. You trust these people because they're experts.

Guess what, Bill Belichick is an expert. The proof is in the results. 13 seasons running this team, 10 division titles, 5 conference titles, 3 Super Bowls. He's the most successful GM in franchise history, and the most successful current GM in the New England sports scene. Yet "Bellichick the GM" probably gets more criticism than Ainge, Chiarelli, and Cherington combined.

Why? Because people sometimes don't understand what he's doing. And he won't bother to explain it. And he also doesn't get emotionally attached to players like fans do.

He dropped Lawyer Milloy and was heavily criticized for it. He cut ties with Randy Moss and people scratched their heads. His doubters enjoy bringing up Seymour and Samuel, but how did the Raiders and Eagles do with them? These doubters get headaches if you say "well they got cap room when they didn't sign these guys." They don't want to allow thought to interrupt their emotional outbursts.

Now it's Wes Welker. Never has a region been so emotionally devastated because a stranger was leaving. People were pissed at Belichick. Some blamed the "Patriots way" as the reason the Pats didn't win the Super Bowl these past two seasons. These same people conveniently forgot Welker's huge drops in big games. The roster was good enough to win, the players didn't execute.

And let's not forget who acquired Welker in the first place. Belichick the GM. Welker was one of those Wal-Mart bargain value players that people chide Belichick for acquiring.

So I have no clue what will happen tonight. Will the Pats trade up? Will they trade down? Will they trade Mallett? Will they take a wide receiver? A cornerback?

I don't know. Belichick is the doctor/pilot/investment banker/lawyer/accountant. He's the professional. I'll let him do surgery, fly the plane, pick the stock, file the lawsuit, do my taxes. He knows what he's doing. He isn't always right (thankfully he's not a surgeon), but investors don't always pick the right stock. The good ones are right enough to make a profit. And judging by the silver and gold in the Patriots Hall of Fame, and on Bill's fingers, he seems to have invested wisely.

It's not worth getting stressed out over, people. It's very relaxing to just sit back and enjoy the show. It is, after all, a game. Have some fun watching it and thinking about it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bruins, Bad Habits, BAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

I don't care if the Bruins win or lose these games down the stretch. I don't care about winning the Northeast Division. The playoffs are all about matchups, not seeding. I care about how poorly this team is playing. They show up, give us one good period, then they cruise.

And the mistakes are getting worse. Both David Krejci and Brad Marchand, two of the best forwards on the team, made inexcusable turnovers in the middle of the ice.

Just a sidenote, I don't mind Julien sitting Marchand for the remainder of the period after that giveaway, but it aggravates me that he did nothing after Lucic made bad play after bad play, yet one mistake from Marchand and it's ride the pine time.

Anton Khudobin compounded things with a truly bad goal. The Bruins were down by 3, which is just about insurmountable for this team's offense to overcome. Even with Power Plays. Krejci made it a 4-2 game, but another turnover 13 seconds later made it a 3-goal game again.

One bright spot was that a trio of newcomers generated the other Bruins goal. Wade Redden scored it, assisted by Jagr and Carl Soderberg.

I'm tired of turnovers. I'm tired of an impotent Power Play. The playoffs are a week away. This team will be brushed aside if they don't change their ways by then.

B's host the Lightning Thursday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

It's Time to Say "Adios" to Alfredo Aceves

You broke my heart, Fredo. You broke my heart.

It's time to give Aceves the kiss of death. I don't want him here. And I don't think he wants to be here either.

In Spring Training he was the only player on the team who had an apparent problem with the new way the Red Sox were doing things. He isn't on the same page with the catchers' signals. He isn't on the same page with who covers second base in a pickoff. And last night was a mixture of walks, balks, and what the fucks. Late to cover first, then doesn't immediately turn to hold a runner at third, then throws the ball away.

He just needs to go. Find some journeyman bum to take his roster spot. Give some guy who has been stuck in AAA for 5 years a shot. I don't care. I'm tired of him being on this team. Because he isn't on this team. He goes out there, on an island, pitches like crap, then the rest of the team suffers for it.

So let's either release Fredo, or put him on a boat, take him fishing at Lake Tahoe, shoot him, and toss his corpse in the lake.

Oh, and Bartolo Colon looks like a younger version of deceased Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Photo Credits:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs Was an Equal Partner, Not a Little Brother Led Astray

This is now the narrative of the Marathon bombers: Older brother Tamerlan struggled to adjust in America, didn't make many friends, kept to himself, was a serious person, and eventually became a radicalized jihadist. Younger brother Dzhokhar's personality and experience was the opposite  He was easygoing, described as something of a class clown, captain of the wrestling team, scholarship winner, went to parties, smoked weed. The narrative being built in the media is that socially awkward Tamerlan led friendly Dzhokhar down a path toward evil. Tamerlan led the way and influenced his younger brother to follow.

Fuck that. Even if it were true, that's just as bad, if not worse.

I have an older brother, and I love him, but if he ever hinted at killing innocent people, I wouldn't tag along. I'd do everything I could to convince him to rethink such a crazy idea, and stop him if he didn't. Dzhokhar was either too much of a pussy to do this, or he was an equal partner in the plot.

Back when they were known as Suspect #1 (Black Hat) and Suspect #2 (White Hate), you can see from their body language how different the brothers' personalities were.

Tamerlan is serious, like he's on a mission. He's hidden his face with sunglasses and a hat to make him almost unidentifiable. Dzhokhar is casual, carrying an explosive packed with shrapnel by just one strap of his backpack. His hat backwards, his face visible (why didn't Tamerlan exert that alleged control he had over Dzhokhar and make him cover his face?). Dzhokhar looks nonchalant as he's about to commit murder. He struts. He's quite happy with what he's about to do.

And they both watched the bombs go off. They didn't leave, they stayed to watch what they were doing, watch the carnage, watch the death, and enjoy it. And then they strolled away.

Dzhokhar's behavior after the Marathon doesn't suggest that he's some kind of lackey, just doing what big brother says. He seems relaxed, completely fine with what he had done. Regret free. Guilt free. They didn't try to get out of town. He even attended classes at UMass-Dartmouth during the week. On Thursday, the day before the FBI released pictures of him as a suspect, he tweeted:

He shows no remorse for what he did or fear he'll be caught for it. They had 72 hours to get out of town, maybe go to Canada, maybe go to Russia. Instead, they hung around Cambridge. Relaxing.

Dzhokhar might have been a friendly, outgoing guy. He apparently brought that carefree attitude to how he viewed human life. He didn't care about it. His carefree demeanor is more like a sociopath than someone with a domineering big brother. He wasn't an innocent young man corrupted by the "influence exerted" (a phrase I'm tired of hearing) on him by his older brother. This was an equal partnership. He was INSPIRED by radicalism. He loved what he was doing and why. Leading up to the Marathon, he was quite proud of what he and his brother were scheming.

Five weeks before the bombing:

Not "rebels," but "rebel." He enjoyed the role of rebel that he was assuming.

A week before the bombing:

These are tweets written in the days that these two built their bombs, wired triggering devices, stuffed pressure cookers with nails and ball-bearings. They likely tested them, and decided where/when to drop them, as these tweets went out.

We've heard a great deal about Tamerlan's politics, but none about Dzhokhar's. The portrait being painted of Dzhokhar is that he didn't have any political opinions whatsoever. At least none that are apparent on the surface. When in fact, it seems like he had some very bizarre ones.

That's an interesting political opinion. Doesn't seem easygoing at all.

On his Vkontakte page (Russian version of Facebook), he shared two videos on April 9th, less than a week before the Marathon. Here's one, which on his page had Russian (or possibly Chechen) subtitles instead of English. It's very graphic, very emotional.

The other video is a 4 minute clip from a TV show of a blind boy being interviewed. I can't understand what that videos is actually about (it's in Arabic, with Russian subtitles). At the very least Dzhokhar seems to be very emotionally invested in events in the Islamic world. Six days later he left a bomb on Boylston Street.

What disturbs and perturbs me about that Syrian video of bodies and crying mourners is that he seems so sympathetic to the suffering of these people, then he decides to make other innocent people suffer and go through the same horrible experience. What a hypocrite. What a fraud. This guy is an asshole. He sees no value in human life, particularly non-Muslim human life. He wanted us to die because of his political motives. He was angry and decided to resolve that anger by stuffing a pressure cooker with nails and ball-bearings that would shred flesh, shatter bones, and tear through arteries. How selfish can you get? He was upset, so strangers had to suffer for it.

He wasn't led astray by Tamerlan. Dzhokhar proudly went down that path with his brother, as equals, with his hat backwards, head held high, and a douchey carefree look on his face.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bruins Lose, Boston Wins

The most important parts of last night's game were the moments before and after the game itself: The National Anthem and the players' salute to the crowd.

As far as the game goes, the Bruins played a strong, emotional game. They weren't lackadaisical as they've been in recent memory. Tip your cap to the Sabres, who are fighting for a playoff spot. And give an extra tip of the cap to Ryan Miller who played an excellent game. Let's not forget that the Sabres have a few Boston connections on their roster, and this game must have been emotional for them as well. Brian Flynn, who took the opening face-off, is from Lynnfield, MA. And Nathan Gerbe played at Boston College. The B's clinched a playoff spot. And that's good news. With 6 games left on their schedule they are tied at the top of the Northeast Division, with a game in hand. The Penguins are in town Friday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

There Are So Many More Heroes Than Villains

We don't know who did this to us. We don't know why they did it. What we do know is that whoever they are, they can't win. In fact, they've already lost. The game's over. You lose. Sorry, but too many people did good things on the day you decided to try to scare us all. You're outnumbered, outworked, and most of all outclassed.

We can never undo what you did. There are 3 dead, more with injuries that will dramatically change their lives, and countless shaken and confused. However, there are survivors thanks to the quick and selfless actions of strangers. There's a City, a Country, a World united against terror. There is one or maybe a handful of villains in this story. There are too many heroes to mention. These are some...

There was Lucas Carr, an Army Ranger who normally pushes Matt Brown's wheelchair in road races to raise money for charity. For those who don't know, Matt Brown was a sophomore hockey player at Norwood High School (in my hometown), who suffered a spinal cord injury in a hockey game in 2010. Matt and Lucas now push each other, literally and figuratively, in races. Matt was unable to participate in the Marathon yesterday due to illness, but Lucas ran. He finished just before the blasts on Boylston. And, like the Rangers' motto of "Rangers lead the way" declares, he turned back to help the wounded.

He's in the right side of this picture, in a yellow cutoff shirt with tattooed arms.

Lucas wasn't alone. There was Carlos Arredondo, a noted peace activist who was at the finish line to cheer on someone who was running the Marathon for Arredondo's son, who died in Iraq in 2004. After the explosions, Arredondo did what he could to clear rubble and assist first responders.

Former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi was photographed carrying a woman, and there's a brief appearance of him approaching this woman and her family which I hastily captured from my TV.

And one thing about this woman that strikes me is that her children are helping her, and she probably didn't want to seek help from EMTs because they were so busy with others. She tried to make it on her own, and Andruzzi gave them an assist. So much strength from Joe, from the woman, and from the girls helping her.

Watching these clips I see so many different types of people, different uniforms helping. My friend Tim volunteers for the BAA and was at the finish line, helping remove the barricades so medics could get to the wounded. He's physically okay, but understandably coping with some horrible memories of what he saw. You see a member of the media decide to stop taking pictures, sling his camera over his back, and help some cops pull the barricades away. You see a pair of men in camouflage helping with the barricades. I'm told one of them is Adam Ayer from Quincy, MA, who is currently in the National Guard and had just ran the race. Hospitals were inundated with runners wanting to give blood, even after running 26.2 miles. People who were at their body's limit of exertion managed to dig deep and find enormous reserves of energy, all to help strangers.

Think of how many first responders went toward the carnage, not knowing if there would be a third explosion. How many initials did we see doing difficult, necessary work yesterday. BPD, BFD, Boston EMS, MSP, BAA volunteers, MDs, RNs, US Army, Army ROTC groups, FBI, DEA, IRS-CID, DHS, OED, USN. And all the hard work of the ER and OR staffs at MGH, BMC, Tufts, and so on.

So much good done yesterday. But so much bad. The person or people who brought the bad to the table have already lost this game. It's like a game of chess against someone with only one piece. They did some damage, but we have so many rooks, bishops, knights, queens, and kings. We can't lose.

There will be a Boston Marathon in 2014, and it will go down as one of the best in the long history of the event. Violence and terror will not control our lives. And so long as that is true, and so long as the hearts of the good outwork the twisted minds of the bad, then we've already defeated terror.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Explosions

As we all know by now, one of the best, most celebrated day in Boston sports came to an abrupt halt when two explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon. At this point, most facts remain unclear. Emergency responders are working hard to take care of the victims, prevent any other devices from detonating, and discover who and what is responsible for this tragedy.

In a time like this sports scores and running times lose their meaning. Times like these are about people.

I feel it's important to focus on things we are grateful for when such horrors occur. Footage just after the explosions demonstrates the incredible compassion and courage of humanity. Firefighters, Police, paramedics, nurses, doctors, soldiers, volunteers, runners, passersby, all risking their lives in order to help those injured by these explosions.

It's easy to focus on how horrific people can be when things like this happen. However, it's vital to remember how caring and strong people can be in the most difficult and frightening of times.

Violence will always be defeated so long as good people outnumber and outwork violent people.

Red Sox Pitching MUST Remain at High Level

This is not the same Red Sox team as last year. Clearly. You can talk about clubhouse chemistry, the coaching staff, the baserunning, and that's all well and good. The true difference maker is pitching. And the Red Sox can only win if their pitching remains strong.

So far this season, the pitchers are reaching their potential. Last year Beckett was a bum, Lester had a wasted season, Buchholz had a crappy April. Things are so much different this year. So far. And for this team to contend the pitchers must remain at this level of quality, because the offense isn't able to bail them out.

Jon Lester has 2 Quality Starts out of the 3 he's made. He started off 2012 with 2 very good starts, then he struggled. He must remain consistently at or near this level. He's the Ace now. And the Sox rotation is so top heavy that Lester and Buchholz have to collect as many Wins as possible.

The Sox are 6-0 when Lester and Buchholz start. Last year they were 28-34 in those games, and 13-20 when Lester started.

Buchholz had two things to prove this season. Could he have a good start to the season. And could he maintain durability for a whole year. He's answered the first question. And now it's about staying healthy and performing for a full season. The Sox need Buchholz. As I mentioned above, they're 6-0 behind Lester and Buchholz. That means they're 2-4 in their other games.

Ryan Dempster could anchor the middle of the rotation. And how the Sox do in those starts could be the difference-maker in the playoff race. He's looked good. Today he was brilliant, striking out 10 in 7 innings. He's struck out 25 batters already.

These pitchers have to perform. Because the offense isn't that good. Sorry folks. I know you think that aggressive baserunning and "manufacturing" runs is going to make up for the lack of power on this team. But it doesn't. And once the weather warms up and homeruns really start flying for other teams, that deficit will become noticeable.

Coming into today the Sox were 12th in runs scored, 10th in OBP, 13th in SLG. They're averaging 4.7 runs a game. Take out the 13 runs they scored on Aprl 7th, and they're averaging 3.9. That's not good. It's not horrible.

For this team to win, they NEED a good start, they NEED the bullpen to hang on to almost every lead, they NEED to win 1-run games. They will not be able to come back from 5 run deficits. They won't win 13-10 slugfests. The offense just isn't there. The Red Sox blueprint for victory is all about pitching.

Things are once again pleasant at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have a 1-game sellout streak going. The pitchers look good. And they need to continue to look good.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Did Red Bull Get Too Cute at Shanghai?

Did Red Bull concede qualifying, or were they conceited?

Three weeks of intense media attention after the Multi 21 controversy, three weeks of introspection, three weeks of putting pressure on themselves, three weeks of figuring out how to fix something that wasn't broken. Is that why Red Bull decided to (try to) outsmart the entire field in qualifying? Is that why they rolled the dice and attempt to win the Chinese Grand Prix before the race even started?

Red Bull were clearly pushing themselves this weekend, perhaps too far. First it was insufficient fuel in Mark Webber's car, forcing him to withdraw from Q2, and eventually be forced to start the race from the pits. Then in Q3, Red Bull didn't let Sebastian Vettel go for pole. Instead they slapped a set of medium tires on the RB9 chassis and patted themselves on the back for their brilliance.

It didn't work in the race. As pit stops cycled, Vettel occasionally found himself at the front of the field. But the race was never his to win. He was always chasing. Tasked with conserving tires and running most of his laps against opponents with fresher rubber. And I don't know why Red Bull decided to rely solely on strategy to win this race.

The RB9 chassis is at its best when it's in free air. And Sebastian Vettel is at his best when he is pushing the car to the limit. So why did Red Bull bury their car in the pack, and why did they restrain the natural (occasionally out of control) initiative of their driver?

It doesn't make sense. You've won 3 straight constructors and drivers championships. You don't need strategy to win. Especially not such a unique, all-or-nothing tactic. You can race straight up.

When Red Bull errs, it's glaring. Because it doesn't happen often. It's like when Bill Belichick makes a coaching mistake, or Tiger Woods has a triple bogey. Any issues at Red Bull become a major story. What's frightening is that even with this incorrect strategy, Vettel still managed to finish 4th, within a breath of 3rd. And I think that's a story in and of itself. An unheralded strength of this team is their ability to recover from their mistakes (See: Abu Dhabi last year). Whereas in most teams, mistakes snowball and compound.

When other teams and drivers show their humanity, like when Ferrari and Fernando Alonso took themselves out of the Malaysian Grand Prix on lap 2, it doesn't draw the same attention or criticism as when Red Bull screw up.

Alonso is the perfect storm of media darling in F1. He drives for the most storied team in racing, AND he is also the underdog. It's a perfect combination. And so Alonso's mistakes are briefly mentioned, then shelved and forgotten. The same goes for the team he drives for. And when Alonso drives his Ferrari to victory, his triumphs are emphasized.

With Vettel and Red Bull, triumph is expected. So their wins are less gushed over by the media, and their failures are stories that feed the F1 media for multiple weeks. It's what happens when you're successful.

Red Bull tried to be too clever this weekend. And a team that drove a simple strategy and relied on their driver won the race. All three teams on the podium relied on their car and their driver to do their best. It's strange that the team with double-triple World Championships didn't trust themselves enough to do the same. Red Bull need to remember why they are successful, and it isn't because of Q3 tire strategy.

Photo Credit:
Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bruins Bad Habits Bite Back

Before last night the Bruins had won 5 of 6, and yet their fans were unhappy. Why? Because their play was uninspired, relaxed, inconsistent, and sometimes careless. They played the same way last night, against a decent team struggling for a playoff spot, and it bit them.

When is Milan Lucic going to get a healthy scratch? Or be once again demoted for the 3rd line (for longer than a game)? Claude Julien had the balls to scratch Phil Kessel in the playoffs. He kept Tyler Seguin on the bench as he developed. And this season he's moved Seguin to the 3rd line. Is Julien afraid of Lucic? This guy is playing with half a heart for almost all of his shifts.

The Bruins wore camouflage warm-ups pre-game, Lucic seems to wear camouflage during games because he is invisible on the ice.

And he makes the most obvious and dumbest mistakes with the puck. In his defensive zone he attempted a BLIND, slow, backhanded pass across the width of the ice. Of course it was intercepted. Lucic has no conception of where he is on the ice, and how careful he should be in certain spots.

Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch. Because Adam McQuaid came back. I guess Matt Bartkowski is better than Dougie Hamilton these days. If solid, mistake-free hockey is so important to Julien, why does Bartkoswki get rewarded for it and Lucic evades punishment for lack of it?

And has Hamilton been making mistakes? Has he been costing this team goals? He's been helping them score goals. He's been playing very sound at his position, especially considering his age. Hamilton was a healthy scratch. Why? Because taking care of the puck is vital. Unless you're Milan Lucic.

I apologize for my vexed frustrations. This team is like a rock band that has a great drummer, good guitarists, a capable bassist, and lead singers that sound like cats being anally raped. They ruin the whole act. And the manager seems to favor the singer over everyone else.

The B's travel to Raleigh to play the godawful Hurricanes. That should be a win, despite how crappily Lucic plays.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bruins Win, But Shouldn't Be Happy

This team really pisses me off sometimes. They get a few bounces, make a few plays, and find themselves up 4-0. And that's when you get nervous. Because this team tries to run the clock out. They let the Devils back into this game, and that's just too bad. They lose Brad Marchand to an elbow to the head, get a 5 minute Power Play, then fail to get a shot on goal, and allow one in their own end.

It's the same on/off switch crap with this team. I'm tired of seeing Milan Lucic cruising around like it's an open skate. I'm tired of forwards that don't move in the neutral zone to help the defensemen break out. I'm tired of seeing Julien forced to put Jordan Caron on the ice in a Power Play because Lucic and Nathan Horton are lollygagging.

This team now sits in first place in their division. And that's great. But after a game like this it's difficult to be happy. The Bruins had this game in the palm of their hands, and they nearly dropped it. One unfortunate bounce in the last 37 seconds and they might have lost a point.

And the Devils aren't an elite opponent. They're a borderline playoff team, struggling through injuries.

The Bruins host the Islanders tonight. The Islanders are in a tight playoff race, 6th through 10th in the Eastern Conference are covered by 4 points. The Islanders are tied for 7th and are 11-5-2 on the road. The Bruins will need to play a full game, and not just parts of a game.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Bruins Fill Their Roster With Wade Redden at Deadline

I could make a horrible, Boston Globe style pun about the Bruins reddening their blue-line. And I just did.

The Bruins traded for veteran defenseman Wade Redden. The B's sent a conditional 7th round pick to St. Louis in exchange for the 35 year old. The pick will upgrade to a 6th round pick if Redden plays a game in the playoffs. In essence, they acquired him for next to nothing.

I liked Redden back when he was with Ottawa. He was underrated back then. In 2003-04 he scored 17 goals. And in the season after the Lockout he was +35. Since then his production has fallen. When with the Rangers he played for their AHL affiliate. And he probably won't dress every game he's with the Bruins.

I think he has a chance, though. Especially with McQuaid hurt. So long as he plays smart, he'll find a spot on the roster. And he should be smart. He has over 1,000 games of NHL experience, plus 101 Stanley Cup playoff games.

I'm glad the Bruins didn't try to get that mythical "puck-moving-defenseman." They acquired an experienced guy who at the very least will be their 7th defenseman in case something horrible happens, and has the capability to provide 12 quality minutes of ice-time a night.

Red Sox Beat Up Battered Yanks

The Red Sox are making hay when the sun shines, taking advantage of the injury ridden Yankees, and starting their season 2-0 for the first time since 1999. The Yankees lost starter Hiroki Kuroda in the 2nd when a ball hit his finger. The Red Sox capitalized as Kuroda struggled, then went to work on the Yankees bullpen.

Clay Buchholz scythed his way through the JV Yankee lineup, needing only 96 pitches in 7 innings of work. The one blemish on his outing was a Travis Hafner solo homerun. Buchholz typically struggles against the Yankees and in April. It's April, and these players were technically the Yankees, so good for him.

It was a game the Red Sox should have won. Which is good news for two reasons:

#1. The Red Sox are back to being a team that is supposed to win games.

#3. The Red Sox are winning games they should win. They didn't do that often enough last year, or in 2011.

Are they the best team in baseball or their division? Impossible to tell after 2 games against a hodgepodge Yankee roster. Are they taking care of the business that should be taken care of? So far, yes. That's an improvement. It's refreshing.

Not so refreshing was the fact that Alfredo Aceves allowed a 3 run bomb by Vernon Wells that made the late innings interesting. This worries me because Aceves wasn't reliable at all last year.

In the 9th, Joel Hanrahan was on the opposite end of the spectrum. He looked very sharp, hitting 96 and 97 on the radar gun, with movement.

Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his ROY/MVP/HOF campaign with an RBI single in the 3rd. His first Major League hit.

Jose Iglesias went 2 for 4, and is hitting the softest .556 in history.

The Red Sox knocked in 5 runs with 2-outs. That's my favorite stat of the night. That's the difference between winning 7-4 and losing 4-2 right there, just a few 2-out at-bats.

Ryan Dempster faces Andy Pettitte tonight. With that matchup and Jaromir Jagr coming to the Bruins, I feel like it's 1999 again. I'm going to check my smartphone for the Y2K bug.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

I Want the Maple Leafs to Get Luongo, So All My Least Favorite Players Are on One Team

It's Deadline Day in the NHL. And I want the Canucks to trade Roberto Luongo to the Toronto Maple Leafs. I hate Luongo. He's an overrated, whiny, douche. He's perfect for the Maple Leafs, who already have two of my least favorite players in the game.

Toronto already has Phil Kessel, who is more popular in Boston as a Maple Leaf than he ever was as a Bruin for three reasons: 1. He's the reason we have Tyler Seguin here, 2. ditto Dougie Hamilton, and 3. he's the reason HE is no longer here. He played his own way, wasn't tough, was an incomplete player, and he was greedy.

And playing for the Leafs' AHL affiliate is Mike Komisarek, former nemesis of Milan Lucic. This guy, when playing in Montreal, epitomized all that is wrong with Canadiens hockey. He would typically only get tough when guys like Lucic were safely restrained on the bench. And when Komisarek did actually grow a pair and throwdown, he'd get thrown down.

So if the Leafs acquire Luongo, it will make it easy and convenient for Bruins fans to find their most hated players all in one place. Then the Leafs can sign Matt Cooke and PK Subban to make the team's douchebaggery complete.

Bruins Acquire Jagr-Meister

It's official. The Bruins have acquired Jaromir Jagr. He has not decided to go to Pittsburgh instead.

Two illuminating facts about Jagr:

1. He was an All-Star in 1992. He's old.

2. He has 14 goals. Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic have combined for 17 goals this season.

He is not a typical Claude Julien guy. He isn't a good defensive forward. He's an offense-first player. And maybe that's a good thing. The Bruins must emerge from their comfort zone and get a little aggressive on offense. Especially on the Power Play.

Speaking of which, Jagr has scored 6 PP goals. That's as much as Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin combined (each have 3). I'm salivating as I think about a Power Play line of Seguin-Krejci-Jagr or Marchand-Seguin-Jagr.

We have yet to see with which line Jagr will play. You don't want to mess with the Bergeron line, although if he Bergeron is out do you slide Seguin to center and have Jagr play the wing?

I can't imagine the Bruins would waste Jagr's offensive skill on the 3rd line. I think his best fit would be to play with Krejci and Horton, and move Lucic down to the 3rd line. There Lucic can focus on playing physical, Jagr can play with some talented forwards that will set him up, and who he can set-up.

They still need help on the blue-line. And certain players like Lucic need to step up their game. Jagr helps, and can solve some of the Bruins problems. Not all of them. And some problems need to be solved by players currently on the roster.

Bruins Show Energy in Victory Over Ottawa

The Bruins played a lively game last night, edging Ottawa 3-2 in what has become one of the most exciting matchups within the division. Certain players, such as Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, seemed to be playing with extra energy. Perhaps they don't want to be demoted when Jaromir Jagr arrives, perhaps they're eager to be the ones to play with him.

In any case, the Line Formerly Known as First showed up in a big way. Krejci and Horton scored. And Lucic had an assist on each one.

The Bruins got 50 shots on goal. Seguin fired 12 of them. The Senators launched 47 at Anton Khudobin. Those stats demonstrate how wide open and up-and-down this game was. And how close these two teams have played each other all season.

Speaking of Khudobin, has he earned a third-straight start? He's played excellent, especially at home. He's making big saves. And

The Bruins host the Devils Thursday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Red Sox Opening Day Thoughts

Here are some thoughts after the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 1 of 162 yesterday.

-Notice there was no flyover. That's because of sequestration. Fun fact.

-The 2nd inning epitomized the difference between the 2013 Red Sox and the 2012 Red Sox. In that inning we saw speed, effort, patience, and most of all hunger. Jackie Bradley Jr. beating out the throw to 2nd allowed that inning to turn into a crooked number frame, instead of just a 1 run inning. This team had no hunger in 2012, which is why they lost despite having so much talent. This 2013 team has less talent, but hopefully more hunger.

-This was felt more like Spring Training game than a typical Red Sox/Yankees game. There were many unfamiliar faces. There was no Jeter, no Ortiz, no A-Rod, and no beard on Youkilis.

-The Souvenir Store is already accepting orders for Jackie Bradley Jr. t-shirts. But let's not overlook the performance of the two stars in the lineup, Pedroia and Ellsbury. Pedroia was 2 for 6 with an RBI. Ellsbury was 3 for 6 with a triple and 2 RBI. Especially with Ortiz out, these two will be responsible for carrying the offensive burden.

-The Red Sox saw 190 pitches from Yankees pitchers. They only did that five times in 9 inning games last year (stole this note from WEEI). Jackie Bradley Jr. saw 26 of those pitches. Such levels of patience were absent in 2012, but were a hallmark of Red Sox Baseball from 2002 to 2007.

-Jon Lester sucks in the 4th inning. In 2012 Lester had a 6.75 ERA in the 4th, and opponents had a .906 OPS against him. Yesterday both his earned runs were allowed in the 4th, and the Yankees were close to inflicting much more damage than that.

-The bullpen looks deep, with lots of options, and lots of guys who can throw hard.

There are 161 games left so let's not go nuts. The Red Sox are only 68 wins shy of matching their total from last year, so let's be cheerful. It's too early to formulate any concrete conclusions. So let's speculate. This team is more interesting to watch. They're much more likable. They are getting 100% from their talent.

Clay Buchholz pitches tomorrow. He has always struggled in the Spring months of the season. Hopefully he pitches like it's summer.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Monday, April 01, 2013

I Don't Trust the Red Sox and Their Decision to Keep Jackie Bradley Jr. on the Major League Roster

It's Opening Day for the Red Sox. And 22 year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is on the Major League roster. Bradley had an outstanding Spring Training. He has become the focal point of a massive grassroots/mass-media movement to have him on the 25-man roster on Opening Day. And now those who lobbied for him are satisfied.

From a strictly baseball standpoint, it makes sense to give Bradley this chance. If Bradley had been designated to the minors for 11 days, 2013 would not count as a year of Major League service for him, and his reaching free agency would be pushed back to 2019, instead of 2018.

He can still be optioned to AAA Pawtucket or AA Portland and this postponement of free agency can still be achieved. So if he doesn't excel in April, the Sox can send him down to the minors and thereby maintain their contractual control over him until 2019.

If he does excel, then that's good for the team. This is a 69 win club that could use all the help it can get. Even if it will make Bradley more expensive in 2018.

And who knows what the team's salary situation will be in 2018 or 2019? If Bradley turns into a star, isn't that a good problem to have? Does it make a significant difference if he gets his $100 million deal in 2018 (at age 28) or 2019 (at age 29)? It will be the same deal in either year.

And if he doesn't blossom into a star, and is just a serviceable Major League outfielder, then the Sox can let him go in 2018 and not lose much. Or they can sign him at a reasonable rate.

So from a baseball standpoint, this move makes sense.

However, as the lengthy title of this post stated, I do not trust the Red Sox to make decisions based solely on the desire to win games.

Had there not been such a crusade to get Bradley on the roster, would the Sox have kept him? If they didn't see an opportunity to showcase a young product of their minor league system, a symbol of future potential and success, would they have kept him?

Did they decide to put Bradley on the 25-man roster purely for baseball reasons, or were they also worried about a backlash from the fans? Were they afraid of being called cheap, and of being accused of not trying to win?

I don't know the answers to such questions. But I do know that I don't trust the Red Sox owners, their front-office, and their often forgotten puppet GM. Ben Cherington is like Kevin Pollak's character in Casino. He's the figurehead with a clean reputation that doesn't make any decisions, he's just there for appearance's sake.

And I don't trust Larry Lucchino to make a baseball decision without part of his twisted mind also considering the PR and financial impact of the decision. And John Henry probably thinks Jackie Bradley is the star of an action movie starring Samuel L. Jackson, or that he is the half-Scottish manager of Liverpool FC.

The Fenway Sports Group does not have any of my trust. And it will take a considerable amount of time to earn that trust back.