Monthly Archives: October 2008

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

Imagine: Opening Day 2009. While the Red Sox debut a depleted lineup (minus some key parts of their championship years and with uncertainty about the probable production of David Ortiz and Mike Lowell), the Yankees march out three new men in pinstripes. One formerly known to us as the Captain; another, a shaggy haired, baggy clothes wearing outfielder, and the third their chief rival’s primary offseason goal. 

(I’m screaming as I stab my own eyes out and pray to god to save all of our souls.)

Yesterday marked the first full day on the road to Spring Training 2009. It was the first day after the world series, and the day that all players not under contract who have 6 years or more of Major League experience are allowed to file for free agency. Jason Varitek (his captaincy in the balance), Alex Cora, Mark Teixeira, Ben Sheets and some guy who used to play left field here all filed, and CC (minus the .s) Sabathia, Derek Lowe, and all the others will soon enough. Their teams will have a 15 day period in which they can exclusively negotiate with their own guys and then the free for all begins. 

What is so scary about this? The man who holds the fate of the Red Sox (and all of Major League Baseball) in his hands is the most black hearted man to ever represent an athlete. Satan’s Agent (Scott Boras) is also representing Teixeira, The Old Left Fielder, Tek and every girl you might ever try to sleep with. The upshot of this is that everybody is going to end up paying for more than they get, and most people are going to end up disappointed at some point. Boras will be asking for too many years for Varitek, too much money and too many years for Teixeira (who should be the Sox number one target, he would shore up the lineup, provide gold glove first base, and replace the production that is lost with that other guy and the perceived decline of Ortiz), and basically hold the league for ransom.

Congrats to the Phillies; I hope they have fun at the Parade. The GM meetings begin on Monday and the groundwork for many of the trades will be laid there. Enjoy the weekend, don’t eat too much candy, and relax, the Sox picked up the best bargain in baseball by exercising their lifetime option on Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld. 

110 Days.

Done.

We'll Be O.K.

 

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If a tree fell on the Phillies, would anyone care?

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Three and a Half Innings to Winter and Other Detritus

Last night the 2008 Baseball Season officially came to a close with the only 3-1/2 inning World Series game ever. It is now winter. Close the windows, turn on the heat and pack in for the next 111 days (or so, I’ll have an exact count when the schedule is announced). A few things to consider while you miserably picture the long, Soxless months ahead:

The end of the baseball season last night was as it should have been three days ago. The Phillies won 4-3 (2-1) in a game that lasted about 50 hours. The heroes were the unexpected and the expected. Geoff Jenkins led of the second half with a double and came around to score his first run since August 11th. Chase Utley made the big play in the field that the star was supposed to make (that fake to first then throw home play was sick. Seriously, he faked out the camera, the runner at first and Bartlett at third). That is the play that changed the game, he was not going to get Iwamura, but the fake, like every good fake, got somebody to make a mistake. Carlos Ruiz also made a great catch and tag. Pat Burrell hit a double in what will likely be his last at bat in that uniform. And then Brad Lidge, who converted every save opportunity he was given this season (47-47) made plenty of people nervous, but did what he always does. Ryan Howard’s tackle of Lidge and Ruiz after the final out was awesome. Congrats to the Phillies and the entire city of Philadelphia. 

There is nobody who I am happier for in the aftermath of last night’s game than the ageless Jaime Moyer. He was born and raised in Philly, was old enough in 1980 to have been at the last parade through the city to celebrate a World Series Championship, and last night, he seemed to be in that rare heaven reserved for kids who dream of bringing their hometown team a title. He deserves it. The fans were relatively sedate, the police out in force and the city is still standing. It was great to see.

Something that many Phillies fans can now tell you is that it’s all right to cry in certain situations. I spent a wonderful late night on October 27, 2004 (if you don’t know, you don’t get it) with tears in my eyes and hugging strangers in the street. So please, get off of Paul Pierce. The other night (as we have gotten used to around here) the Celtics put on a great show in raising Banner 17. It was scheduled down to the minute; where everyone would stand, who would do what, and who would say what. All except for the speech by our Captain. It was the one genuine moment of emotion on a night when emotion was the goal. Yes, it was selfish, and sounded more like a retirement speech. Yes, he did fail to thank his teammates and the fans (both of whom he has thanked at every other opportunity). It was not embarrassing (especially after he went out and scored 27, dominated Lebron, and showed why he was the captain). It was genuine, and at the end, as he thanked his Mom and Red, I couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed myself. So sue me. 

Never Forget

Never Forget

One final thought before I bundle myself up and make some soup. Over the Monster had a great rundown on the Captain Question the other day. It laid out for all to see how Tek stands up with the other catchers in the offensive categories. It puts out the same plan that I preferred a week ago (resigning Tek and bringing in someone who may replace him in the future – Salty?) and also gives an interesting read on Dusty Brown (not Dusty Pete) who is the highest upside catching prospect in the Sox system. The one stat  that I am interested in is the pitching staff’s ERA with him behind the plate, and their ERA with Kevin Cash back there (3.67 for the Captain. 5.71 for Cash – not including the Wakefield factor). This is where his value is, where he really shines, and if everything else is average (which it balances out to be) then this information is what puts him over the top. So, stop hating on Tek, and let the Sox make their decision. (Please, Theo, no Pudge Rodriguez. We’ve already had the real Pudge, and this one isn’t even a shadow of what he was).

111 Days.

Done.

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Wilfork Update:

Gotta pay to play…

Vince avoids suspension for “pattern of dirty play.” Go figure; a University of Miami alum that plays dirty.

Who has two thumbs and hates me some quarter backs? THIS GUY!!!

Who has two thumbs and hates me some quarter backs? THIS GUY!!!

Globe Coverage Herald Coverage

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Pride and Glory

The Boston Celtics organization was founded in 1946 and since has been the most dominant franchise in its sports history. Seventeen championships in all, and between 1959-1966 an absolutely league dominating eight straight. But those were the good old days when rivalries were fierce and scuffles were as frequent as they were in the NHL. The Celtics represent Boston tradition at its finest and last night was a fitting tribute to such. Opening Night, Ring Ceremony or Banner Night call it what you want just don’t call it boring, because there was something for everyone.

The new season is officially underway and it started with that glorious seventeenth banner being raised to the rafters. Not only did the team receive their rings but some Celtic legends got their just due as well. It’s the opinion of some that KG is the leader of this team, but I’d have to agree to disagree and say that while certainly a leader in his own wright he is much more of an emotional motivator. The true leader of course is number 5 on the C’s all time scoring list Paul Pierce, who for about four minutes before the game bared a bit of his soul in an emotional speech to the fans. He talked about his ups and very low downs but couldn’t be more thrilled about how things have worked out in the end. Thank you, Boston.

There was also a game to be played amongst all the festivities and tears. Through most of the first two quarters the Boston Celtics looked very out of sync on the offensive end. Errant shots rained down from all angles and it plain looked a bit sloppy, meanwhile ‘Bron and the Cavs were having their way. With around 1:20 left in the second the Celts put on a bit of a run witch naturally started on the defensive end. At the half the score was 50-43 Cavs.

On a not-so-side note P Double (Paul Pierce) apparently lost 10 pounds in the offseason witch really paid dividends all night on the offensive end taking LeBron off the dribble and converting a number of drives to the basket. Unfortunately “Sugar” Ray Allen had only 8 points and never seemed to find his rhythm. Tony Allen (11 points) though was a big contributor on both ends of the court providing some great momentum after nailing a couple of hard fought baskets and converting at the stripe witch ended the third quarter with Boston in the lead 67-63. Leon “The Truck” Powe had a solid night around the basket with two highlight reel quality bangs on one Delonte West and one Anderson Varejao -I won’t give away witch one made #1 on SC’s top ten list. Per my prediction (see Colors) this is what he can contribute with a full head of steam. But the night really belonged to the captain Paul Pierce who ended the night with 27 points and solid play from beginning to end.

Opening night is officially a wrap with the C’s coming away the victors with a 90-85 win over the Cavs. On a personal note I’m sincerely hoping that the Celtics don’t get caught up in all the “repeat” hoopla but focus more on continuing the majestic tradition of the organization not just the championships. Championships will certainly come as long as the leaders continue to lead and set the example with hard work and commitment to the team, keeping their nose to the grindstone and getting it done. Playing with that kind of pride will certainly allow them to eventually reap the rewards of glory that will undoubtedly follow.

AngryBlackAle

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What Now, Bud?

Update (1:17 PM): The MotherShip’s Karl Ravech is reporting that the final 3-1/2  Innings of game 5 have been postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday) night. Play will resume at 10:37 PM Mountain time. It is snowing in Philadelphia.

 

Last night around midnight, Bud Selig looked like someone had just shit in his cereal (even more so than usual). He had just suspended game 5 of the World Series in the bottom of the 6th. Never has there been a World Series game shortened by rain. There was no way that Bud would have let it end without a 9 inning decision, and he said that if there had not been a tie score (it was 2-2 with the Phillies coming up in the 6th, and the Rays had just tied the score in the top of the inning) it would have gone to rain delay. It would have stayed that way for days if necessary. However, the score was tied and the game was suspended for the first time ever. This decision was made based on the fact that the weather had gone from very nice October baseball conditions to a monsoon in the matter of a few innings. They will try to resume the game tonight, but the forecast calls for cold (29 Degree windchill), precipitation (snow?) and generally unfavorable conditions. Should be very interesting.

At least the rain will make it harder for Philly Fans to burn down the city if they win tonight

At least the rain will make it harder for Philly Fans to burn down the city if they win tonight

It should be a different type of atmosphere in the ballpark as they resume the game (maybe) at 8:29 pm tonight (Dammit, I was excited for the new episode of House). The game will be three and a half innings (not two and a half like Ravech, Phillips and Gammons said while freezing in the right field dugout after the game), with the home team batting first and last. It will be a battle of bullpens, as Kazmir was already out of the game, and they can’t run Hamels out there again (he was good, but couldn’t hold on to his lead once it started raining). This is a major advantage for the Phillies as their pen has been sterling while the Rays haven’t had the same type of production since they collapsed in game 5 in Boston. Another result of this is the fact that while the Phils got to go to their nice warm homes after the game last night, the Rays had to drive to Delaware (35 miles) to get another Hotel, as they had checked out and their rooms had been filled. 

I’ve never been involved in a suspended game so I have some questions for those in charge. Will they sing the National Anthem again? Do we need to stretch in the 7th if only one inning has been played that day? Can the Phillies wear their alternate jerseys for the second half of the game? Will Bud be sad until the game is over, or just until it gets to start again? Do we get our free Taco Bell tacos today (Jason Bartlett stole a base last night and won everyone in America a free taco, just like Jacoby did last year but without the obvious plant of Royce Clayton talking about it on a mic in the dugout) or do we have to wait until the game ends?

The real question about the situation is when the game will be played. The aforementioned forecast is horrible and if they can’t play tonight, the game will have to be further pushed back. This will also move back games 6 and 7 in Tampa. In this case( a few days of delay), we could see Hamels again if the Rays are able to win and drive the series to a 7th game (like Tiant in the 75 Series, the Best World Series Ever). Even if the Series this year has little allure to anyone outside of Barack Obama (who bought 30 minutes of ad time and is the only person happy to see it being most popular in Pennsylvania and Florida), this turn of events should keep people interested (at least until the game restarts and people get pissed that House is being Preempted).

Even if the game is not played, there is something else to watch tonight. The Celtics will raise their 17th World Championship banner to the rafters of the Garden (it was always the name. Raising a banner to the rafters of the Fleetcenter just sounds wrong), and starting their season against their next big acquisition (some guy named LeBron). They have been picked by everyone on the MotherShip (ESPN) and SI to waltz through the east again and lose in the Finals. Thats right, Kevin “I’d chop off a pinky to play a regular season game” Garnett, someone is doubting you, and people don’t know if you are hungry to win this year. (The rest of the league just got very afraid.)

Go C’s 

112 days.

Done.

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Artificial Turf: Thank you for being the model Patriot, Troy Brown.

Troy Brown doing his job.

Troy Brown caught 557 passes in his 15 year career in the NFL. All for the New England Patriots. He is the team’s all-time leader in that category. Ahead of Big Ben Coates, Terry Glen, Stanley Morgan… all the Pats’ past greats. He’s 6th on the team’s all-time kick return list, 1st on the all-time punt return list, 19th on the all-time scoring sheet AND… he’s got 3 interceptions and 25 tackles. Troy Brown DID HIS JOB.

Troy Brown carved and kilned the mold for the model Patriot: Team-then-Self. A real Bill Belichick type of “player.”

Troy Brown Doing Someone Else's  Job

Troy Brown Doing Someone Else's Job

We’re lucky as Patriots Fans to have another player cast from the same mold.

In Kevin Faulk’s 10 seasons in the NFL, all with the New England Patriots, he has been leaving his mark on the Pats’ all-time lists as well. His 1,384 career touches –yes, I used a calculator to get to that number- have been accrued through rushing attempts, receptions, passing attempts, kick returns, punt returns and fumbles recovered. The Always Improving Kevin Faulk currently ranks 6th on the all-time receptions list, the highest of any Patriot running back, 23rd on the all-time scoring list, 10th all-time in rushing attempts and 1st among all time kick return and kick return yards.

And his stats continue to accrue.

Kevin Faulk doing his job.

Kevin Faulk doing his job.

Sunday yielded 17 touches for Faulk, 13 rushing attempts for 60 yards and 4 receptions, one for a score. He provided excellent support on 3rd downs and was a constant threat from the Z back spot. When he splits out wide and forces a linebacker in to 1-on-1 coverage, he creates a great mismatch for Cassel to check to.

It’s clear that Cassel, who I hope you’re getting used to, has made Faulk and Welker –another TroyBrownian- his binkies. And that’s just fine provided he makes Randy Moss his weapon and starts hitting him up high where only Randy can get to it… but I digress…

Wes Welker doing his job.

Wes Welker doing his job.

The support Faulk is providing is invaluable. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not the only one seeing this, and other teams will start to scheme against him… but Bill always gets his players the ball. Look for Faulk to be a big contributor down the stretch.

We’re sittin’ pretty, tied atop the division. Anticipate a hell of a game next week…

Posted by StartMattCassel

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