Thursday, April 23, 2015
And much like some media and fans reacting to this story, I also don't have any time to think.
Reports on this report reportedly report that Brady isn't going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because of a "prior family commitment." I'm not actually quoting anybody, certainly not Brady or anyone from the Patriots. But by putting quotes around those words, I can make it seem like it came directly from a reputable source.
If Tom Brady is missing this most important of off-season activities for a legitimate family reason, then fine. But if it's just to spend time with his kids, then it's way, WAY out of line. Visiting the President for a token photo op is much more important than trivial things like time with your kids. This is America! Our glorious and revered leaders are of higher importance than our families! That's what America was built on.
But if Brady is lying (even though it's a source saying this, and not Brady), and this was politically motivated, then God have mercy on his soul. And his legacy.
As 98.5 The Sports Hub's Jim Murray very correctly stated about this story: "If you don't go to the White House for political reasons, you're a bad teammate." (that's an actual quote, not a made up one like earlier)
And that's so very very true. After winning his fourth Super Bowl and third Super Bowl MVP, we were all considering Tom Brady to be one of the greatest of all time, if not THE greatest. However, this newly revealed bad teammate aspect of Brady has tarnished that legacy. Super Bowl wins aside, how can you be the greatest of all time if you aren't a good teammate? It's not possible.
What makes this the act of a bad teammate is that it will create a media firestorm, which will possibly be a distraction. And the Patriots have little to no experience dealing with media distractions. Apart from DeflateGate, SpyGate, Tim Tebow, and Aaron Hernandez.
It's completely Brady's fault if the media makes a huge deal over this. It's Brady's responsibility, as a teammate, to predict what the media will overblow as a story. It's also Brady's responsibility to not do what he feels is right. No, a good teammate and a good leader caves in to peer pressure, and goes against his own principles in order to appease and conform to the masses. That's what leadership is all about.
The important thing to remember is that Tom Brady's motivations behind skipping - I could be more accurate and say "not going," but "skipping" makes it sound like he's doing something wrong, and it's more important to use provocative language to enhance a story than it is to be truthful - anyway, his motivation for blowing off this White House visit is more indicative of him as a teammate than anything he's ever done on a football field.
Such a shame. I used to really like Brady. But now... I don't know.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
This is great. The Patriots are essentially 1-0 with this leaked announcement. The win is already in the bag, it's just a question of score. And the weather forecast will have more impact on that than anything the Steelers will try to do.
Although, without Troy Polamalu to toy with and trick, it might be slightly tougher for Brady against the Steelers defense.
Yes, I'm being cocky. Because the Patriots won the Super Bowl a few months ago. And I feel that with 4 Super Bowl rings, it's time for me to shed my "let's wait and see" approach to my Patriots fandom, and just go full out cocky prick. The Patriots are better than the Steelers. Belichick is ten times better than Tomlin, Brady is far superior to Roethlisberger, Gronk is better than any pass-catcher on the Steelers.
Furthermore, the Patriots just don't lose at Gillette Stadium. It's a rarity. It's like seeing Bigfoot humping the Loch Ness Monster.
One fun fact about this game is that both LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell will be serving suspensions for drugs. So I wonder if they'll watch the game together somewhere in the area, then after that spend a few hours at the Taco Bell in Walpole.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Playoff experience is priceless. And while the C's aren't contending for the 2015 NBA Championship, the postseason experience some of these players get in the next few weeks could help them in future playoff runs. If the Celtics can play just one reasonably close game in this series, it will be a fantastic learning experience.
Isaiah Thomas has no playoff experience, neither does Tyler Zeller, Marcus Smart (obviously), or Kelly Olynyk (happy birthday to him, by the way). Getting a playoff series under their belts can only help them improve. Think about it, when has playoff experience ever made any player in any sport worse? Has anyone ever said "Oh, Player X was an okay player, until he played that series against Milwaukee. Ever since he got that playoff experience, he just hasn't been the same."
This series can also increase the trade-value of some of these players. If Isaiah Thomas averages 20+ points, if Tyler Zeller gets a double-double, if anyone makes a big game-winning shot, they could become more valuable in a future trade. Players with good postseason performances on their resume often command a higher price on the market.
Brad Stevens makes his players better. That's a scientific hypothesis that's been repeatedly tested this season, and continually reaffirmed. If Stevens can coach his ragtag bunch of misfits to a win or two, or just a few close games, then his reputation as a great coach will grow stronger. Players want to play for a coach who puts them in position to play better. And that also puts the player in position to get paid better.
That's one way the Celtics can increase their appeal to the league's top talent. Right now, the Celtics aren't a big draw for prime time players. But being a playoff team makes them more appealing than a lottery team. And being a playoff team that has proven postseason performers and a coach who makes players better, is even more appealing.
And as that appeal draws good-but-not-great players, the team becomes an even more appealing destination. Then eventually maybe you land the big star that puts you back into championship contention.
So this series won't end with the Celtics winning. But it might be the start of the Celtics' winning.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
My surprising mellowness after a 10-5 defeat isn't because the Red Sox are 6-3. It isn't because the Sox have won all 3 of their series. And it isn't because they're in first place. The number responsible for the smile on my face is 56, as in the number of run the Sox have scored.
Because of the offense, this team is exponentially more entertaining than the 2014 Red Sox. They've scored 56 runs in 9 games (more than 6 per game). Through 9 games last year, the Sox had scored 33 runs (less than 4 per game). Last year it took the Sox 16 games to score 56 runs (3.5 per game).
So even when the pitching is awful, the team is still in the game. And even if it's 8-2, like it was at one point Wednesday, you still want to watch the Sox hit because they're capable of coming back. And even if they don't, they're not painful to watch as they were last year.
A healthy Dustin Pedroia is fun to watch at the plate, compared to what it was like watching an injured Pedroia struggle to hit. Mookie Betts is exciting at the plate, as opposed to the frustration that Jackie Bradley Jr. caused.
So the parade of poor pitching can continue, so long as the offense continues to keep the Sox in the game, so long as these at-bats aren't torturous to endure.
All I want from the 2015 Red Sox is to be entertained, and so far they have been entertaining.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Friday, April 10, 2015
Before this loss to Florida, the Bruins were standing next to the electric chair. By losing, they've sat down in it. Now they need a call from the Governor, or a last-minute power outage to escape.
It's a good thing Claude Julien gave so much rest to guys on Tuesday night in Washington. It's a good thing that Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell were given so much ice time Wednesday. Because the B's really looked sharp and energized in the 2nd and 3rd periods.
Speaking of Chris Kelly, the goalless streak extends to 26. And he had 12:26 of even-strength ice time in this game. David Pastrnak had 9:52.
You're playing back-to-back games. You have a 34-year old who hasn't scored since Valentine's Day. You have an 18-year old who has scored 10 goals since re-joining the team in January, and is +13 in that time. Which player will bring more energy? The 34-year old, or the 18-year old? Which will bring more offense and make more plays? The slumper or the scorer?
You have a coach who plays a man who hasn't scored in 25 games, over a man who has been scoring. Not just in Thursday night's game, but in the 3rd period of Wednesday night's 3-0 loss. In the 3rd period, down 3 goals, Julien gave Kelly 4:40 of even-strength ice time, and Pastrnak only 2:54.
Maybe Julien is planning on murdering someone, and he's trying to establish an insanity plea. He's certainly driving me crazy.
So here's the situation: The Senators have 97 points, the Penguins 96, the Bruins 95. The Sens and Penguins are in, the Bruins out. The Senators have 1 game left, the Penguins 2, the Bruins 1. If the Penguins win Friday night against the Islanders, they clinch their spot. If the Penguins lose in OT or a shootout, they can still clinch with 1 or 2 points on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, the Senators are in Philly. The Bruins need them to lose in regulation to take their spot. If Pittsburgh wins either of their games (or loses both in OT/shootout), and if Ottawa wins, the Bruins will be eliminated before their game against Tampa Bay at 7:30 Saturday night.
And even if they get help, the B's will need to help themselves against the Lightning.
The Bruins were once in the driver's seat of their playoff destiny. Now they're outside of the car, and they need either the Senators or Penguins to give up their seats, or they'll get run over.
Photo Credit: Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Now that Braden Holtby is the new Bruins owner, maybe he'll do something about Chris Kelly's ice time
Give an assist (a rare one) to Kelly for Holtby's ability to acquire the team. Kelly had another goalless game Wednesday night. That's 25 in a row. He hasn't scored since February 13th. He hasn't had an assist since March 5th. And yet for some reason last night, with the Bruins down 3-0 in the 3rd period, Kelly got more even-strength ice time in the 3rd than he had in the 2nd or 1st. What the fuck, Claude?
There's nobody on this roster less likely to score a goal or contribute to a goal, and yet Claude Julien put him on the ice for the same number of shifts (6) as he had in the 1st and 2nd periods.
Chris Kelly isn't the only problem the Bruins have, nor are the Bruins' difficulties as simple to solve as reducing a defensive specialist's ice time when you need to score. But this is just baffling.
Kelly has spent over 6 hours on the ice since his last goal (360:46).
Down 3 goals in the 3rd, Kelly got 4:40 of even-strength ice time. David Pastrnak, who's scored 5 goals and 14 assists since Kelly last scored, was on the ice for 2:45. Kelly 4:40, Pastrnak 2:45. Are you kidding me? How is this even possible? I'm looking at the time on ice report on NHL.com and I'm thinking that they must have made a number of mistakes, as this is simply ludicrous.
Kelly had more even-strength ice time in the 3rd than Pastrnak, Spooner, Connolly, Marchand, Krejci, Lucic, and Bergeron. That's right, Patrice fucking Bergeron. Why? How?
Those players have 99 combined goals this season. Kelly has 7. And only 3 in 2015. Those are guys getting paid millions because they can score, and they're playing less than a guy who hasn't scored in 25 games.
I can't even think about anything else today. You're down 3 goals. You have 20 minutes of hockey and you must score 3 goals in order to secure a valuable point. You have 12 forwards on your bench. Some of them have 20+ goals this season. Some have been carrying you the past few weeks with their offense. And so you send a guy riding a 25-game drought on the ice more than most of them.
So please, new Bruins owner Braden Holtby, tell Claude Julien that he either needs to change the way he plays favorites with the most offensively inept player on the team, or he needs to find a new team.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass
Monday, April 06, 2015
And if you truly are optimistic that the Red Sox are within arm's reach of another World Series, then you should be angrier than I am that the Sox didn't employ the left arm of Jon Lester to reach for that ring.
Is this team good enough to win the 2015 World Series? No. Good enough to make the World Series? Highly doubtful. Good enough to win a playoff series? Maybe. Good enough to make the playoffs? Solid chance. Good enough to contend for a playoff spot? Probably. Good enough to be above .500? Definitely. Good enough to not finish last? It fucking better be.
I'm sick of long pointless summers of Red Sox baseball. I'm sick of games played poorly by overrated prospects. Only 2 AL teams were struck out more often than the Red Sox (1,337 times). I'm sick of that. I just want to once again feel like these games mean something. I want to watch players who can play. All I want from the 2015 Red Sox is to not suck. Be a legitimate, watchable, respectable team.
I don't think I'm asking for much. I don't mind a "bridge season," so long as the bridge isn't as painful to cross as the Bourne Bridge with one lane open the Friday before Memorial Day. The not-optimistic reality is that 2015 will be a bridge season.
The rotation has tremendous depth in the middle, with five strong candidates to fill the #3 slot. That's as optimistic as I can phrase my assessment of the pitchers.
I don't know why everyone thinks the lineup is amazing. Probably because last year's was so terrible. The offense will be good, but I'm not sold on it being as great as everyone thinks it will be. If Dustin Pedroia doesn't improve, that's a problem. Mookie Betts has fewer than 200 MLB at-bats, so how can we be sure what he'll do in the next 600 ABs? Pablo Sandoval's regular season production isn't great, he hasn't slugged above .450 or hit 20 HRs since 2011. Shane Victorino is your starting right-fielder, 'nuf said about that.
David Ortiz is 39. His average, OBP, and SLG have all decreased in each of the last 3 seasons. He hit 35 homeruns last year, and maybe he'll hit 35 more, and maybe all his offensive numbers will rebound. But he's also 39. At that age, the "no" side of maybe gets larger and the "yes" side gets smaller. I'm not being a Debbie Downer, I'm being a Pragmatic Pete and a Factual Frank. The core of the lineup is 39 years old. It's a fact. On May 19th, he'll be closer to his 40th birthday than his 39th.
It's a good lineup. It will be less painful to watch than the 2014 Sox. But it won't be the Murderer's Row that some in this town seem to think it will be.
Then there's the bullpen. The most positive thing I can say about them is that I have no idea what they'll do.
I'm not trying to be pessimistic on Opening Day. It's sunny out, the snow is almost all melted away, I'm excited for the game, and I haven't been excited to see this team play in over a year. The Sox have a team that can be entertaining and relevant. And I think I'm going to enjoy the 2015 season because my expectations and hopes are rational. I won't be disappointed when this team finishes 3rd, or loses the Wild Card playoff game because it has no Ace. And if the Sox pull off a miracle, I'll be just as happy as the rest of you.
Enjoy the bridge season.
Friday, April 03, 2015
If the unlikely comeback wasn't enough of a surprise for you, how about the identity of the man who scored the game-winner? Zach Trotman. His first career goal.
I'm pleased that the Bruins won. Pleased, but not happy. I was momentarily happy when Trotman scored, and when Soderberg and Eriksson scored before that. I was happy the moment time expired and the Bruins won. But looking at the 60 minute performance as a whole, there's not much to be happy about.
Actually, I'm pissed that this Bruins team has an on/off switch, and its default setting is off. I'm pissed that to turn the switch, it takes a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd. I'm pissed that they either give it their all, or they give in. It's either full speed ahead, or full reverse with this team. And with a lot of the players.
Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg. Depending on which games you see them in, they either look like superstars, or 4th liners. There's no middle ground. There's no Goldilocks "just right" with them, it's either burning hot, or bone-chilling cold.
So I'm glad to see the Bruins turned it on late against the Red Wings last night. I'm also pissed that for two periods I had to watch them suck. And that it took two periods of crappy hockey for them to wake up and do their jobs.
Photo Credit: Getty Images