Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Breaking Down the Contracts

The announcements for the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez were made official yesterday, so now we have the official contract figures to look at. I highlighted some of the important points.


Pablo Sandoval 
5 years/$95M (2015-19), plus 2020 club option
signed by Boston as a free agent 11/25/14
$3M signing bonus
2015-17:$17M/year. 2018-19:$18M/year. 2020:$17M club option ($5M buyout)
award bonuses: $50,000 each for All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, LCS MVP. $0.1M for WS MVP. $0.1M for MVP ($75,000 for 2nd place in vote, $50,000 for 3rd)
limited no-trade protection (may block deals to three clubs)
perks: suite on road

Hanley Ramirez
4 years/$88M (2015-18), plus 2019 vesting option
signed by Boston as a free agent 11/25/14
$3M signing bonus (half by 1/15/15, balance by 3/15/15)
2015:$19M, 2016:$22M, 2017:$22M, 2018:$22M, 2019:$22M vesting option, guaranteed if Ramirez has 1,050 plate appearances in 2017-18 and passes club physical after 2018 season
award bonuses: $50,000 each for All Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, LCS MVP. $0.1M for WS MVP. $0.15M for MVP ($0.125M for second place in vote, $0.1M for third)
limited no-trade protection (may block deals to three clubs)
perks: suite on road, may purchase six premium tickets for each game

TL;DR: These contracts seem reasonable to what the market price for these guys would be. It shouldn't inhibit the Red Sox ability to get some top of the rotation pitching. It's not my money, so I don't really care what they spend.

In baseball, I don't mind seeing players on my team get overpaid. In the NFL, NBA and NHL the salary cap structure can be devastating to general managers that do not spend their money wisely. In these sports a bad contract eats up your cap space and inhibits your ability to make deals now and in the future. It's part of why I appreciate Bill Belichick's frugality, long term vision and his ability to pull players off the scrap heap and turn them into solid contributors. It's why I appreciate Danny Ainge's patience as he stockpiles assets and waits for the right player. In Major League Baseball the only limitation on your ability to add free agent talent is the depth of your ownership group's pockets. Most problems in baseball can be solved if you are willing to throw enough money at it. The luxury tax ensures that the more you have to rely on money to solve your personnel problems the more expensive it gets, but the Red Sox have been under the luxury tax for 2 seasons now and Fenway Sports Group has a lot of revenue. A few overpays and some luxury items should be well within their means.  Anyways, on to the contracts.

Pablo Sandoval's deal is essentially the club's choice of a 5 year/$95 Million or a 6 year/$107 Million. The 2020 club option year is essentially $17 Million to keep him or $5 Million to send him packing. The award bonuses are all small enough to ignore. If he hits any of those nobody will complain about it. This is an overpay. Some projections had Sandoval making somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 years/$85-90 Million. The difference comes out to be about $1-2 Million/year more than his projected market value. If that's what it took to get the deal done I'm happy that Fenway Sports Group was willing to step up to make it happen.

Hanley Ramirez's deal is interesting. The vesting option for 2019 kicks in only if he makes 1,050 plate appearances in 2017 and 2018 combined. Essentially, he will have to stay fairly healthy over the course of those 2 seasons to hit his vesting option. In his career, he has averaged about 1171 plate appearances over two years, but in 2013 and 2014 combined he only had 848 plate appearances. It really does seem like that option could easily go either way. As far as the figures themselves, I think it's reasonably appropriate to the market estimates on what his services would cost. The vesting option pushes that average value above what would be expected, but the strings attached there make it reasonable enough.

I like these deals. They're not great deals, but they're not dramatic overpayments either. They spent a lot of money, but they picked up some strong players that should make the team immediately better. There are still some interesting questions to be resolved this offseason with the top of the starting rotation yet to be addressed and the logjam in the outfield.
-Mike

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Catching Up With the Pats

I was out of town last week, but I still got to see the Patriots make it look easy against 2 division leaders. I think the most impressive part of the Patriots 7-game win streak is the way they've been able to step up their game against tough competition. Against the other AFC Division leaders they're 3-0 and won by a combined score of 128-58. They went up against arguably the best defense in the league (#1 in points allowed, #1 in rushing yards allowed) and dropped a season high 34 points on them. The most the Lions had given up prior to that was 24 back in week 2. The Patriots hold a 3-game lead in the division and a 1-game lead + tie-breaker over the Broncos for the top seed in the AFC with 5 games left to play.

Tom Brady didn't blow anybody's doors off with his numbers, but he had a solid day under center. 38/53 for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns is nothing to sneeze at. I am concerned by Brady's interception. It seems silly to complain about a pick in a game they won by 25 points, but he threw just 3 interceptions in the first 9 games and he's thrown 3 in the past 2 games. The fact that it came on 1st down deep in the red zone shows some uncharacteristically poor decision making as he tried to force the ball to Gronkowski over the middle into double coverage. It's a small nit-pick, but still something to keep an eye on going forward. Brady's ball distribution was excellent hitting up LaFell, Edelman, Gronkowski, Vereen and Wright for 5 catches or more. Tim Wright caught both touchdown passes for 6 on the year.

One of the most impressive things about the Patriots this year has been the players they've picked up mid-season have managed to have a strong impact. Akeem Ayers has managed to pick up 3 sacks in just 4 games since he was traded from the Titans. LeGarrette Blount kept the trend going this week. He put up 78 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 12 carries against the #1 rushing defense in the league. Jonas Gray had 0 touches in this game, most likely a chastisement from Bill Belichick for a late arrival to practice. Shane Vereen was generally ineffective running the ball, but had some good catches.

The Lions offense has been struggling lately. They only managed to put up 6 points against the Cardinals the week prior. Still, they have one of the better passing games in the league with Matthew Stafford, Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. Against the Patriots secondary Stafford had one of the worst games of his career. They made passing to Johnson and Tate difficult with just 8 completions to those two in this game on 21 targets. Logan Ryan had his second pick of the year that set up the easy score to put the game out of reach for Detroit.

The Special Teams had some important contributions in this game as well. Ryan Allen had an impressive 66 yard punt after a low snap early in the game. Stephen Gostkowski hit 35-yard and 43-yard field goals. He's 26/27 on the year and has more points than any kicker in the league. Danny Amendola ran back a kick for 81 yards to set up the easy touchdown to make it 14-6. Julian Edelman ran back another one for a touchdown, but had it called back on a penalty.

We're on to Green Bay! The Patriots are rounding out a brutal 4-game stretch with a trip to Lambeau Field in a game that some feel could be a Super Bowl preview. The Packers sit alone atop the NFC North at 8-3 thanks the Patriots victory over the Lions. The Packers have one of the sharpest passing attacks in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. It will be another big test of the Patriots secondary. Where the Packers have struggled this year has been stopping the run. After seeing some impressive running work out of Gray against Indianapolis and LeGarrette Blount against the #1 rushing defense in the league it seems like they could eat up the Packers on the ground.
-Mike


Ben Cherington's reaction to the question "Should we sign Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval?"

In my Curious Case of Third Base article I talked a bit about the Red Sox options at third base. I talked about Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, but it was very much a "one or the other" context. If you had asked me before about the possibility of signing both, I think I would have been perplexed. Sandoval has to play 3rd base, so where are you putting Hanley? Putting him at shortstop would seem bad for Xander Bogaerts development and he's too promising a player to be given up on so quickly. You can put Hanley in the outfield somewhere, but between Cespedes, Castillo, Victorino and Craig your outfield is already overcrowded. That's not even getting into the farm system with guys like Nava, Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. I would have thought that money would be better spent on a front of the rotation starter than a seemingly redundant position.

The only conclusion I can draw from the Red Sox getting both is that more moves are coming. The addition of Hanley Ramirez has made a number of players on the roster expendable. Perhaps you can move Mike Napoli and have Allen Craig be your starting first baseman, or just move Allen Craig. Maybe do a quick flip on Cespedes for some assets since he won't sign an extension. Maybe they've lost confidence in Bogaerts and they can get a good return on him from a team looking for a promising young shortstop.

As DP astutely observed, these moves do absolutely nothing to address the glaring holes at the top of the Red Sox starting rotation. It's worth noting that the reported figures on these deals shouldn't prevent the Red Sox from making any moves they would like to. They're still comfortably under the luxury tax threshold by ~$50MM. As I've said before, they can go over the threshold without serious consequences. The Red Sox would only be hit for 17.5% of every dollar above the threshold because they were below the threshold last season. It pales in comparison to the 50% the Yankees will be paying or the 40% the Dodgers will be paying. There is still a comfortable amount of money available to sign front of the rotation pitchers. The Red Sox are reportedly the front-runners for Jon Lester. It will take a bit more time to see how things shake out here.

Another angle on this is that the Red Sox have positioned themselves very well with regards to draft picks. Both Sandoval and Ramirez were extended qualifying offers. When you sign qualifying free agents you are supposed to lose picks, BUT there is a built in protection for the first 11 picks of the draft. The Red Sox sit comfortably at the 7 spot, so they retain that pick. If the Red Sox had gotten any picks from qualifying free agents or competitive balance picks, they would have to forfeit those, but they didn't have any qualifying free agents this offseason and Boston is too large a market for competitive balance picks. So, they didn't have to give up their premium draft pick and with each qualifying free agent they sign the picks they surrender get further back. So they gave up a 2nd and 3rd round pick for Sandoval and Ramirez and any future picks will go back from there. This reduces the sting of signing qualifying free agent starting pitchers like Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Max Scherzer or James Shields relative to other teams that may have to surrender a first round draft pick.

Any way you look at it, it's exciting to see two impact players like Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in Red Sox uniforms. It's encouraging to see Fenway Sports Group spending money to improve their product on the field and it's great to see they have done it in such a way that they haven't had to sacrifice their farm system. They still desperately need top of the rotation pitchers, but I'm confident that they will address that problem in the coming weeks.
-Mike

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Red Sox Spend A Lot Of Money And We Still Don't Have A Pitching Staff


It looks like the Sox jumped onto free agency like some crazy people.

The announced they signed Hanley Ramirez back to a 5 year, 90 million dollar deal and that Pablo Sandoval aka Panda to a 5 year, 100 million dollar deal is right behind him.

I don't know how this is going to work out, but we have too many offensive players. I guess Hanley will be put in left field and the Sox are going to move Cespedes. But as of right now he have Vazquez at C, Napoli at 1st, Pedroia 2nd, Boegarts SS, Sandoval 3rd, Hanley LF, Rusney CF, Cespedes RF (Betts). The line up looks real nice with them though Castillo, CF, Pedroia, 2B, Ortiz DH, Cespedes RF, Ramirez LF, Sandoval 3B, Napoli 1B, Bogaerts SS, Vazquez c.

But to me... this kind of stinks of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. I think Hanley and Sandoval are good players, but not great players and we just committed a lot of years to people who aren't superstars.

I can be sold that the Sandoval deal can be salvaged in 2 years when he gets too fat for a 3rd baseman and is the heir apparent for David Ortiz and when that happens Hanley can either remain in LF or moved to 3rd base. But that's in 2 years from now.

As for the short term, I think the Sox have the most dangerous line up in the AL as is.

Now I don't know if Cespedes has or hasn't been a pain in the ass with the Sox, but he's better then both Sandoval and Ramirez, so if we lose his bat, that's a big loss for the Sox. It would only make sense to deal him if we got Cole Hamels back or some strong SP.

Now speaking of SP, we still don't have any. It's been well documented that Lester and Hanley Ramirez don't like each other dating back to the minor leagues, I don't think that will have a huge effect on his decision, but his decision is going to be real important for the Sox next year.

Either way, I have no idea what is going on... so whatever, buckle up and see whats going to happen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Off Season Predictions


So Bob asked me the other day of my Sox predictions, which I found interesting on why he couldn't get his lazy ass on here and write a 10 minute post, but hell, I'll do it.

I really don't want Pablo Sandoval, so I'm leaving him off.

We sign Yasmani Tomas
We sign 2 of the 3 of James Shields, Max Scherzer, or Jon Lester
We trade for Pedro Alvarez
We Trade Mike Napoli
We sign some token reliever all of us over rate and stinks
We trade Victorino
We sign Fransisco Liriano

so... the defensive line up is

C: Vazquez
1st: Tomas
2nd: Pedroia
SS: Xander
3rd: Alvarez
OF: Cespedes
OF: Rusney
OF: Betts
DH: Ortiz

P: James Shields, Max Scherzer, or Jon Lester
P: James Shields, Max Scherzer, or Jon Lester
P: Fransisco Liriano
P: Clay Buchholz
P: Joe Kelly, Minor league pitcher

RP: Taz
RP: Mujica
RP: Token Guy

CL: Koji

And that's how you win a World Series

Week in Review


Sorry everyone, I was super busy the past week and a half but heres a week in a review.

1. Alabama beats Mississippi St.

I really was unsure about Blake Sims going into the year. He was a RB when joining Kentucky, so he's obviously athletic but could he pass. Up until last week I STILL wanted Jacob Coker to start, but I'm in with Blake. On the season he has thrown for 2454 and 18 TDs and 3 picks and rushed for 280 yards and 5 TDs.

Last week he won the game with his legs on consecutive 3rd down clutch runs. Alabama is ranked 1 (rightfully so), followed by Oregon, FSU and Miss ST. Which I'd be fine with, although I want to see FSU and Oregon play the SEC teams instead of each other.

2. Steelers beat a bad team
It may not have been pretty and a lot closer then it needed to be. LeVeon Bell is just incredible. Over 200 yards and a score. The Steelers are currently 7-3 and slotted for the 6th playoff spot making them a darkhorse to win the title.

3. Blount is off Pittsburgh
LaGarrett Blount is an asshole. Apparently he was a bad influence on RB Leveon Bell and has been a lockerrom cancer since early oct. He walked off the field during the Titans game and just became too much of distraction. I'm glad he's gone if that's the case, I expected more from him. I guess this is why he has been on 4 teams in 5 years.

4. Celtics blow a bunch of close games
The Celtics could really be 8-3 if they new how to properly close, however, they don't. So what we have now is Mike's dream of close, entertaining games, but lose. Rajon Rondo really needs to get his free throw shooting up, I used to make an excuse for him saying, "he hits them when he needs too" however, this year he's not. He went 2-10 against the Suns and currently is the worst free throw shooter in the league. His consistency with his mechanics looks worse then ever. It stinks losing all the time, however after watching last nights Kentucky game..... we may want to lose more.

5. UK dismantles KU
Wow, what a showing. Calipari has 2 full squads he plays with a white and blue squad and does full substitutions. It's kind of funny to watch. You have 5 starters, then he subs them out for the 5 bench players and repeat. This Kentucky team should not lose a game. They beat Kansas 72-40 and they looked like the Monstars out there. Everyone is huge and athletic. They blocked 11 shots last night, however they must have altered every shot Kansas tried to within 13 feet. It was just amazing.

6. Adrian Peterson suspended for the year
What a crock of shit this is. No I'm not for beating your kids, but this is obviously Goodell just being an asshole. He swung and missed (unlike Ray Rice), when it came to Ray Rice. So then he goes on his soapbox and starts shouting about responsibility and whatever, then suspends Peterson for the year. It's all so fucking fake. It's all for show. Goodell shouldn't even have a job, yet he still has the power to do this. Am I condoning beating kids... no. But I think he's missed 8 games, I think the rightful punishment would have been to fine him as much as you can and time served.

7. Giancarlo Stanton gets paid
Stanton just signed a 13 year 325 million dollar deal by the Marlins. Good for him. However, the Marlins can be bought for 550 Million dollars, Stanton is 65% there. This deal will obviously blow up in the Marlins face because they don't have the support from the fans or culture. My guess is that Stanton will be great but he will be asking off the team in 2, 2.5 years when the Marlins can't afford him. Also, it's a little odd they signed Stanton after not seeing how he reacts to in game pitching since getting hit in the face.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Curious Case of Third Base

One of the most intriguing story lines from this offseason is how the Red Sox plan to address the position of third baseman. In my Mike the GM article I talked a little about the need to upgrade here.
I'm done with Will Middlebrooks. He had half a good rookie season and acts like he still owns the job because of that. He was bad last year and he was worse this year and he's always hurt. The reason this falls into the "Want" category is because there are some reasonable internal options to fill this slot. This could be a nice spot for a guy like Brock Holt or Garin Cecchini in the future.

If you wanted to spend some money you could go and get Chase Headley or Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval.
Conclusion: It seems risky to bank on Cecchini, Holt or Middlebrooks being able to fill in this job as the every day 3rd baseman. It was this sort of relying on unproven rookies that caused much of the mess that was this season. Depending on the price tags for Headley and Sandoval, it could be a good place to spend some money to get a solid major leaguer in there.
Another name has been thrown into the mix with Hanley Ramirez. I initially had not considered Hanley because he had been a shortstop for his entire career, but he expressed a willingness to switch positions in the hopes of increasing his marketability. Let's take a look at some of the Red Sox options at this position.

1) Do nothing.

You take a pass on Sandoval, Headley and Ramirez and you hope that either Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini or Brock Holt can step into that role and produce.

Pros
This plan has a minimal cost. They're all still under team control and currently making peanuts for salary. There is no long term commitments and it gives you more financial flexibility to improve the team in other areas and in future years. They're all young players and should be hungry to start producing to earn a big contract extension or a big contract in free agency when they get out from under team control.

Cons
Baseball isn't a salary cap sport and Fenway Sports Group has a lot of money. They have ample room under the luxury tax and they've been below the luxury tax threshold for a few seasons now, so even if they did go over the luxury tax the penalty would be nowhere near what the Yankees and Dodgers are paying. The Red Sox are a big market team with a big budget. They should be able to make some big free agent signings to shore up a shaky position. Signing a big name might limit the opportunities for guys like Cecchini, Holt and Middlebrooks; but it adds another layer of depth at that position. Cecchini will still need time to develop. Holt can play almost anywhere on the diamond, it doesn't have to be 3rd base. Will Middlebrooks has been coasting on half a decent rookie season for too long. He had his chance to lock up the job and hasn't done anything since.

2) Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez was once the crown jewel of the Red Sox farm system. Not unlike Xander Bogaerts is now. The heir apparent that was supposed to come in to replace Nomar Garciaparra and save us from the Edgar Renterias and Julio Lugos that have held the position since then. Instead, the Red Sox sent Hanley, Anibal Sanchez and some other prospects to the Marlins for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Lowell and Beckett were crucial to the World Series win in 2007. Hanley won a rookie of the year award, became a perennial all-star, won some silver slugger awards and a batting title. Anibal Sanchez won the ERA title in 2013, holds the Tigers franchise records for strikeouts in a game and threw a no-hitter back in 2006. The Red Sox have had trouble filling the spot at shortstop ever since, but a World Series win is a World Series win. Sounds like a solid win-win deal. Anyways, Hanley's contract is up and he's on the market. He has also stated that he's willing to switch positions and 3rd base seems like the obvious move to make from there.

Pros
The Red Sox should have some familiarity with Hanley from his time here. John Farrell's time with the Red Sox did not overlap with Hanley, but there should still be some people in the organization who played with him or coached him. He beat out Sandoval and Headley in terms of individual numbers and accolades. His career Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging and OPS are all better than Sandoval and Headley. Although Sandoval has the reputation for being a postseason performer and the Dodgers as whole have disappointed, Hanley actually has better postseason averages than Sandoval. Although not a budget option, he should come cheaper or shorter on years than Sandoval will.

Cons
He's the oldest of the bunch. He's "30" and he'll be "31" in December. The reason those figures are in quotes is because the birth dates of players from the Dominican Republic, like Hanley, are always a bit suspect. Hanley turned down the $15.3 Million qualifying offer which means he won't come cheap and signing him will cost the Red Sox a draft pick. This may sting a little less if the Red Sox sign multiple qualifying offer free agents like Max Scherzer, Ervin Santana or James Shields. He's been reasonably durable, but had some injury problems. He's missed significant time in 2011 with shoulder surgery. In 2013 he missed half the season with thumb surgery and a hamstring issue. He's played his entire career as a shortstop and might have trouble transitioning to a new position.

3) Chase Headley

You probably haven't heard much about Chase Headley. He's the most understated of the bunch, but he's been quietly getting the job done out in San Diego for a while. His breakout season was in 2012 when he won the NL RBI title. He came back down to earth in 2013 and was traded to the Yankees near the deadline last season. 

Pros
Headley will probably be the cheapest of the free agent options. On top of that, his midseason trade makes him ineligible for the qualifying offer and he would not cost a draft pick to sign him like Sandoval and Ramirez will. He also has some recent experience with the AL East in his 58 games with the Yankees in 2014. He has had some injury problems, but has always managed to bounce back quickly and missed minimal time due to them. He's a reliable, above average 3rd baseman.

Cons
Headley has the lowest ceiling of any of the free agent options. His career numbers don't compare favorably to either Sandoval or Ramirez and there is a reason all of his MLB accolades came in his breakout 2012 season and he has never been selected to an all-star game. It's hard to compare Headley's postseason numbers to Sandoval and Ramirez because he doesn't have any. The Padres never made the postseason with Headley on the roster and he wasn't able to get the Yankees there either. Although he hasn't missed many games due to injury, he has had a few surgeries and limited effectiveness while trying to play through injuries. 

4) Pablo Sandoval

The "Kung Fu Panda" is coming off of his 3rd World Series Championship with the San Francisco Giants. He recently set the MLB record for hits in a postseason with 26 and hit 3 back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Tigers in game 1 of the 2012 World Series. He hits the market as the most sought after free agent 3rd baseman.

Pros
Sandoval is the youngest of the free agent options at 28 years old. He is still in or near his peak production years and fits with the Red Sox philosophy of avoiding free agents over 30. Although his career averages are not as good as Hanley's, he is much closer to his production levels than Headley. Although Hanley's postseason averages are better, Sandoval has been able to maintain those high numbers over a much larger sample size(39 games for Sandoval, 13 for Ramirez). His postseason production puts him on the David Ortiz level for Giants fans. He's young, he's consistent, he can handle the big market and the big stage.

Cons
Sandoval isn't going to come cheap. He'll get the richest and longest contract of this group. On top of the money and the years you'll also have to surrender a draft pick due to the qualifying offer. He's had some serious issues with getting his weight under control which brought about his nickname. He has never played with another organization and there may be an adjustment period as he gets used to a new city and a new team. 

Conclusions
I know for certain that I'm not comfortable with option number 1. Relying on the unproven youth to produce on offense is part of what got us into the mess the 2014 Red Sox were. If Fenway Sports Group goes cheap at 3rd base I had better be blown away by the quality of the pitching talent that comes in. If they get Scherzer and Lester and decide they are done spending I can live with a budget third baseman. Ideally, they'd get Lester, Scherzer and Sandoval; since it's not my money. It's tough to say without knowing who they're going to get on the pitching side of things and how much they're willing to spend. It's up to Ben Cherington to make the right calls on these things to put the Red Sox in a position to turn things back around again.
-Mike

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quick Hits on the NFL Week 10

The Patriots were on a bye this week. They gained another half game in the AFC East thanks to losses from the Bills and the Dolphins. The Patriots now lead those teams by 2 games. Denver matched up the records with a win, the Patriots still have the upper hand based on the head-to-head tie-breaker. The Browns, Chiefs and Colts are all right in the mix at 6-3.

Browns 24, Bengals 3
The AFC North is an incredibly competitive division this year. There isn't one elite team, but they're all rock solid. The difference between the division leading Browns and the last place Ravens/Steelers is a half game. Andy Dalton's numbers were historically bad. After a hot start, the Bengals haven't looked the same since they got a reality check in Foxboro in week 5.

Chiefs 17, Bills 13
The Bills had a 10 point lead going into the fourth quarter, and then promptly shit the bed by giving up 14 unanswered points. The Bills are now a full 2 games back in the AFC East. This win keeps the Chiefs in play for the AFC West, the bye and homefield advantage; especially with the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Patriots.

Lions 20, Dolphins 16
A tight game. The Lions scored a touchdown with 29 seconds left to play to get the win. The Dolphins are also 2 full games behind the Patriots. The Lions improve to 7-2 and lead the Packers by a game in the NFC North. The Cardinals are the only team in the NFL with a better record at this point.

Cowboys 31, Jaguars 17
This game was played at Wembley Stadium in London. Tony Romo looked good coming off of a serious back injury. It's hard to tell if this is a result of Tony Romo's good play or the fact that Jacksonville is a dumpster fire of a football team. The Cowboys head into the bye trailing the Eagles by percentage points for the NFC East.

49ers 27, Saints 24 (OT)
The Niners and the Saints might be the two most disappointing teams coming into this game. With such high expectations in the preseason they both limped into this game at 4-4. A last second hail mary touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham was overturned on a soft Offensive Pass Interference call. There was minimal contact, but the DB sold it to the refs and got the call. The Niners managed to wrap it up in overtime to pull out the win. They still trail Seattle and Arizona in the division. The Saints still hold a slim lead in NFC South at 4-5 because it is the worst division in the NFL.

Ravens 21, Titans 7
The Ravens aren't really a last place team. If they played in the NFC South, they'd be in first place with a game and a half lead. Ironically, the Titans ARE a last place caliber team, but they happen to play in the same division as the Jaguars. The Ravens managed to not screw it up and came out with the win. They trail the division leading Cleveland Browns by half a game.

Jets 20, Steelers 13
It seemed like everything that could go wrong for the Steelers did go wrong for them in this game. Big Ben completed a lot of passes for a lot of yards, but two interceptions and two Antonio Brown fumbles is too many turnovers, even against a team as incompetent as the Jets. Shaun Suisham also had the worst FG miss of the NFL season thus far on a 23 yard chip shot. To work it down to the Jets 5 yard line and come away with no points is brutal. The Jets most likely played their way out of the first overall pick race and the Steelers missed an opportunity to take a slim lead in the AFC North.

Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17
Both of these teams suck. The Falcons are now only 1 game out of the NFC South lead at 3-6 because the whole division is a dumpster fire. The Buccaneers are still in the hunt for the 1st overall pick. Maybe that 4th rounder we got from Tampa for Logan Mankins will come at the very top of the round.

Broncos 41, Raiders 17
If the Raiders had managed to win this game it would have been the biggest upset of the season. No contest. The Broncos keep pace with the Patriots for best record in the AFC and the Raiders keep pace for the best draft pick in the NFL. I'm sure even if they get the #1 pick they'll manage to mess it up somehow. They have a very good chance to be the second team to go 0-16 along with the 2008 Lions. Just win baby!

Cardinals 31, Rams 14
The Cardinals have quietly put together the best record in football at 8-1. Nobody is really noticing because they never put up impressive numbers and got whipped by the Broncos. They won't talk about it going forward because Carson Palmer probably tore his ACL and he's out for the year. He literally signed a 3-year extension with the Cardinals on Friday and went out for the year 2 days later. I guess $20.5 Million of the money is guaranteed. Good timing for Palmer. Awful timing for the Cardinals. Oddly enough, the last time Palmer signed a big contract with the Bengals he tore his ACL just 10 days later. Anyways, the Cardinals are still in a great spot in the standings, it will be interesting to see how the team looks without Palmer. The Rams are dead in the NFC West and welcome the Broncos next week.

Seahawks 38, Giants 17
The Seahawks ran for 350 yards against the Giants. Marshawn Lynch went full beast mode with 140 yards and 4 touchdowns. Seattle has fallen down in the pecking order with losses to the Chargers, Rams and Cowboys; but they're still a very good team. Their defensive play has suffered with the way they are aggressively calling DPI and D. Holding, but they're still one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Giants are dead in the NFC East after losing 4 straight. That's too much ground to make up on the Eagles and Cowboys.

Packers 55, Bears 14
If you thought it was impressive when the Patriots beat up on the Bears 51-23, how impressive is it when the Packers drop 55 on them and give up just 14? If you're impressed when Big Ben throws 6 TDs in a game, how impressive is it when Aaron Rodgers does it in a half? Just complete domination of this Bears team. This set some franchise records for both clubs and Rodgers tied and NFL record for touchdown passes in a half. The Bears managed to break some of the shameful records they set in the Patriots game. Matt Flynn took over for Rodgers halfway through the 3rd quarter and they mostly ran the ball to run out the clock. Rodgers might have broken some records if he had stayed in the game and they kept passing the ball.
-Mike

Friday, November 7, 2014

LEAVE JAMEIS ALONE... OBVIOUSLY HE DIDN'T SHAVE POINTS


The new trend in college football is trying to find something against Jameis Winston weekly. This weeks accusation is a point shaving accusation from the Louisville game. From TMZ:

New reports have surfaced alleging Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was involved in a point shaving scheme to help an old high school teammate win a $5,000 bet.

According to the report, Winston tanked the 1st half of the FSU vs. Louisville game on October 30th ... after his buddy Chris Rabb allegedly placed a bet for Louisville to be winning at halftime.

Winston's play in the 1st half was atrocious ... and FSU was down 21-7.

FSU eventually came back and won the game -- but according to the report, the final score had no bearing on Rabb's bet.

A couple things. Yes, Winston struggled in that Louisville game, threw 2 picks and was down 21-7 at half. However, he threw a pick with in the beginning of the 3rd (which he got back) and then led FSU to the win, basically playing unblemished from then on. What makes this story make no sense is the dollar amount. It was 5K. You think Jameis would risk 5 years in prison for 5K when he is going to make 5 million in a couple years. Yes, Winston has done some dumb things in the past, but this is just another way someone can take Jameis down.

I feel like you can say anything about Winston and some people would believe it. I could write a post that is completely fabricated and said Jameis robbed me and it would pick up legs because of Winston's past.

Leave him alone and let him just win please.

Haters gonna Hate

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Response To Mike's Unprompted Attack


Yea, yea, yea. The Celtics are 1-3. They had an outstanding 1st game, they got beat wire to wire by Houston, they nearly had an epic comback against Dallas, and lost a game they should have won against Toronto due to some sloppy turnovers. However, I don't mind these losses. The Houston loss stunk, but other then that they have played extremely competitive and with time, they will be a force to be reckoned with. The Celtics have an MVP candidate in Rondo and a lot of rookie and 1/2 year players.... it's going to take time to gel. It will. Just like Cleveland starting slow, the Celtics are going to need time to find the right rotation, the right style of play, they will have their moments of growing, but with the growing pains this team will come together and be very competitive.

Smart has played well (minus that turnover last night), Rondo is nearly averaging a triple double, Kelly Olynik has impressed in more games then none, Sullinger just had his best game of his year, Bradley has shown that he can score. Their is too much talent on this team to not be competitive. And they play too hard to be a bottom 5 team in the NBA. Once the rotation clicks (I would love to see James Young take some of Thornton/Turner time), they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Losing is for losers and this group that they have are not losers. We aren't in a black hole like Philly or the Lakers, if you watch this team they have their moments of brilliance and moments of head scratching. That's what people should expect from a very young team. However, they will gel and they will be an above .500 team and be in the playoffs. I'd rather see my team fight for a 6th seed and pick out of the lottery then lose every game.

Fuck tanking.

Are We All Back Onboard With The Tanking Now?

After the opening day win against the Nets DP, ever the optimist, was so encouraged that he boldly declared in his game recap "Fuck Tanking". You'll notice that we haven't heard much follow up from DP since that time. That's because the Celtics promptly went 0-3 in their next 3 games. We need to stay the course on this tank job. We can't drop the tank job every time the team doesn't look like complete garbage. Danny Ainge needs time to accumulate resources and pick his spot. I'm not crazy about another year of tanking either, but it's the best thing going forward for building a champion.
-Mike

Monday, November 3, 2014

Patriots Embarrass Broncos

The Patriots have had me digging deep into my thesaurus for ways to describe a lopsided victory. I think embarrass is the right word here. The Broncos are a fully loaded, legitimate top of the AFC team and Super Bowl favorite and they couldn't even give the Patriots a game. I expected a good game. I knew the Broncos are an exceptional team. I knew the Patriots had the hot hand and they were playing at home. I knew that Brady and Belichick had this game circled on their calendars when the 2014 schedule came out. I knew nobody was going into this game overconfident and they were going to be ready to play. I didn't see them blowing Denver's doors off for a 20 point lead at the half. With this win they take the top spot in the AFC at 7-2 into the bye week. This puts them a half game up on Denver and gives them the all-important head-to-head tie breaker. They'll need it as the Patriots are still in the midst of a tough stretch in their schedule where Denver still gets to enjoy 2 games against the winless Oakland Raiders. The AFC East is still tight with the Bills and Dolphins sitting at 5-3. They'll both have the chance to cut the Patriots lead down to a game while they are inactive on the bye next weekend.

Tom Brady was true to his recent form. He was 33 for 53 going for 333 yards 4 TDs and an interception. One of the biggest questions going into this game was how the offensive line would hold up against the Broncos defensive front. The 1 sack for -1 yard is a little deceptive. There was an intentional grounding that most likely would have been a sack if Brady hadn't grounded it and plenty of other hurries and near misses. Brady had to move often to buy himself more time and threw away a few passes. I think you could attribute part of that interception to the pass rush. Brady was heavily under pressure and was a bit off target to Danny Amendola. The ball took a funny bounce off of Amendola and fell directly into Bradley Roby's hands. The silver lining is that despite these protection break downs, Brady was still able to function effectively. Again, the ball distribution has been a key part of their success on offense. Rob Gronkowski lead the charge with 9 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, but 4 different receivers caught TD passes from Brady in this game and 6 players had multiple catches. There was a heart stopping hit on Gronkowski early in the game from TJ Ward. It looked so similar to the hit Ward put on Gronkowski's knee last year that took him out for the season. Thankfully, Gronk was just fine.

Jonas Gray and Shane Vereen didn't provide anything special on the ground. With the wind and weather predictions I thought the offense might lean on the running backs more heavily, but this game was the Brady and Manning show. Their performance was adequate to chew up some clock and provide a credible running threat to take some pressure off of Brady. Given that Denver has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL, that's good enough.

The Patriots defense stepped up in this game. This was their toughest test this season and they passed with flying colors. Two big interceptions from Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Browner set up the offense deep into Broncos territory. The offense quickly capitalized on those turnovers by putting up 14 easy points. It was a huge swing in this game and helped the Patriots to put this game out of reach early. Beyond that, the Patriots defense was still very good. They stifled Denver's running game and forced them to lean on Manning and his receivers. They still gave up over 400 yards passing, but you have to take into account that Denver started slinging it when they got behind and late in the game the Patriots were playing to prevent the big play and giving them easy completions over the middle. They've really cracked down on Brandon Browner's style of play. I thought the DPI they called on him to set up the first Broncos touchdown was a bit ridiculous. There were some soft calls for the Patriots as well, it's not that they weren't consistent. It's very difficult to play physical defense in the secondary they way they've been calling these defensive holding and DPI lately. Akeem Ayers has had a huge impact since his trade from the Titans. He's come up with 2 big sacks in just 2 games with the Patriots. His sack in this game came on 4th and 6 in the second quarter and set the Patriots up with another short field to add another touchdown before the half.

To really hit home with the whole complete team win there was a special teams touchdown to complement the 4/4 night by Stephen Gostkowski. Julian Edelman tied the franchise record with his 4th career punt return for a touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski drew first blood for the Patriots with a 49-yard field goal. Given the windy conditions I think the two 40+ yard field goals were very impressive. The contrast to Broncos kicker Brandon McManus's 41 yard field goal banging off the upright really makes you appreciate Gostkowski's consistency. We don't talk about him often, but his 24 field goals is 5 more than any other kicker in the NFL right now and he's hitting an impressive 96%. New acquisition Jonathan Casillas made an immediate impact with 3 tackles on special teams and a downed punt. Casillas isn't a big pickup, but it's a nice depth signing with some fringe benefits on special teams.

We're on to Indianapolis! The Patriots get to enjoy an extra week to rest and prepare with the bye before traveling to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck and the top passing offense in the league. The Colts have been leaning heavily on Andrew Luck as he leads the league in pass attempts and passing yardage. This might be a bigger test for the Patriots secondary than the Broncos. The good news is that the Colts are a somewhat 1 dimensional team. Their running game is mediocre and their defense is soft against the pass. In Luck's 2 games against the Patriots the Colts were on the receiving end of 2 blowout losses with a combined score of 46-102 and Luck was intercepted 7 times.
-Mike

Name A QB Better Then Big Ben In The League.... Hint... You Can't


Big Ben set all types of records last week when he threw for a million yards and 6TDs last week against what was formerly the best defense in the league. This week he was playing a heated rival in Baltimore who has only let up 5 passing TDs all season, so surely Ben can't do it again, right? Wrong... Big Ben torched the Ravens to the tune of 340 yards, 6TDs and 0 picks. All Ben has done in the last 2 weeks is throw 12 TDs, 0 picks and set an all time NFL record for 12 TDs in consecutive games beating the QB in NE and others.

On the year Ben has thrown for the second amount of yards in the league at 2,720 yards with 22 TDs to 3 picks, with a 68% completion percentage and 110 QB rating. Just incredible.

It's also worth noting that the Steelers organization has been able to have a 6-3 record in the best division in football record wise and doing it with multiple first and second year players. The way this team has been able to draft and develope talent is incredible. Against the Ravens homegrown talent in Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Leveon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Matt Spaeth accounted for all the TDs Ben threw. The Steelers should be known as WR U.

Also, you have to love the new game plan that Haley has had the past couple of games. If you watch the passes they are a lot less conservative and he has opened it up and Ben has proved that's what they need to do to win.

And a big shout out to James Harrison who was in Joe Flacco's ear.

Friday, October 31, 2014

LeBron Self Proclaims Opening Night For Cavs Is Biggest Game In The History Of The NBA...... Promptly Has Worst Game In Career



Last night was a crazy sports night. You had my guy Jameis Winston getting destroyed in the first half of the FSU/ Louisville game and then leading the Noles back with 3 TD passes and ice water in his vain. Yes, he had 3 picks, but here in NE all that matters is a W/L record and Jameis' W/L record is 22 or 21-0. Just a stud.

Then you had the Saints led by Mark Ingram (finally) beat the hapless Panthers. You have to feel bad for Cam Newton. He has Greg Olson, but after that he only has rookie surprise Kelvin Benjamin (Jameis' old friend) to rely on.

But the game I was excited for the most was the Cleveland game. I think self proclaiming the game as biggest in NBA history is just a token dumb LeBron statement that he sometimes does. However, this game had a lot of interesting stories. 1. LeBron back in Cleveland. 2. How LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love play together. 3. Blatt's first game as a coach. 4. Gauge how bad the Knicks truly are.

LeBron admitted that the pressure took him over this game which would make sense for his bad game. LeBron finished with 17 points, 5-15 from the field, 1-5 from 3, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 8 TOs. Which is unheard from LeBron and us as NBA fans shouldn't get used to that. Kevin Love had a respectable game with 19 boards and 15 rebounds. He was hot in the first half and in the second half didn't do much. Kyrie had a weird game 22 and 7 assists.

In the 4th the Cavs made a comeback, but in crunch time they looked very disorganized. Blatt will eventually make those adjustments.

FYI... The Celtics are currently a 1 seed, lead the league is scoring per game aka best offense in the league. Meanwhile the lowly Cavs wouldn't make the playoffs.

For all the people that think the LeBron commercial is so great... check out this Rajon one out:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Sox re-sign Koji Uehara

In my Mike the GM: Looking Towards the Off Season article last month I discussed the closing situation for the Red Sox.

Koji Uehara is a free agent after this season. He hit a rough patch from Mid-August through early September that got him removed from the closer role. Prior to that, he was still on the roll that started last year with a 1.27 ERA. They mentioned that he had hit some mechanical issues. He seems to have worked them out. He's given up 1 hit and no runs in his last 3 appearances.
Conclusion: Bring Koji back. He's been effective and at 39 years of age nobody is going to be breaking the bank to sign him. It shouldn't be hard to bring him back on a short term deal for reasonable money. It wouldn't hurt to have a Plan B in case Uehara's age catches up with him.
Today the Red Sox did exactly what I suggested. They signed Koji to a deal for 2 years and $18 Million. The money is a bit more than I would have guessed for Koji. It doubles his annual salary from 2013 and 2014 and puts him in the same range as some of the best closers in baseball (As a point of comparison, Jonathan Papelbon is getting $13 Million from the Phillies). What I like about the deal is the years. It's a short term overpay, but it's not a crippling long term commitment.  At age 39 it's dangerous to be handing out lengthy contracts. If he keeps up his level of production it will be a bargain for the Red Sox. If he turns into a complete bust it won't sting for too long.

As a fan, I love this signing. I've always enjoyed Koji's enthusiasm and the way he pitches. He comes right after them and he works fast.I don't know how that affected the clubhouse, but after the disastrous seasons in 2011 and 2012 it was great to see a guy other than Pedroia who really cared about what was happening on the field.
-Mike

Fuck Tanking.... Celtics Are Going To Win A Lot Of Games This Year



If anyone watched the 121- 105 destroying of the Nets last night, you saw the potential, you saw the defense, you saw a lot of good players that are in a roll right now, but could evolve into really good players.

The excitement starts with the return of the Captain and best PG in the league Rajon Rondo. Rajon absolutely killed the Nets with the pace of the game and his passing, offense and defense were incredible. I'm sure the Rondo haters will wave their HE MISSED HIS FREE THROWS HE NEEDS TO BE TRADED. But the old Rondo is back, he was an absolute beast and got our bigs a ton of easy opportunities and our perimeter players a lot of open 3s. Under Doc Rivers he wasn't able to run as open as he has been, but under Brad Steven's he gives him a lot of control to run it in his terms. He's also a big reason why the Celtics were able to shoot above 60% for 3 quarters of this game.

The Celtics as a team were incredible. Their perimeter defense is going to be a top 5 team and their pace is going to lead a lot of points from a lot of people. The Celtics had an astonishing 8 players in double digits with points. Incredible, I think I heard that hasn't happened since 2002.

You have to be excited with Kelly Olynyk's offensive game. He led the team with 19 points and he is extremely polished on the offensive end. Where he will struggle is on the defensive end, when he has to guard more physical players.

Avery Bradley has become a great shooter. He is very consistent and is incredible with his cuts. He will always open up the court with his back door cuts. Jeff Green also seemed to play motivated. He will score around 17 ppg, but he was putting a noticeable effort in the rebounding department.

Also their has to be a lot of excitement with Marcus Smart. He is an incredible defender, he had 4 steals and his offense is going to be consistent with his aggressive way of play. I really see him being a great player.

Evan Turner also impressed me in his limited time.

I know it's early, but I'm pretty sure the Celtics are going to win the Championship.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things For Celtics Fans to Root For This Season

In my last Celtics article I wrote about why you should be rooting for the Celtics to lose every game this year. I suppose that's not the ideal scenario. There are a few other draft pick considerations that should be taken into account. In addition to their natural picks, the Celtics have some draft picks from other franchises coming up in 2015.

2015 first round draft pick from Philadelphia
Philadelphia's 2015 1st round pick to Boston (via Miami) protected for selections 1-14; if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Philadelphia will instead convey its 2015 2nd round pick and 2016 2nd round pick to Boston [Miami-Philadelphia, 6/28/2012 then Boston-Golden State-Miami, 1/15/2014]

What this means: This pick came to the Celtics in the Jordan Crawford/MarShon Brooks for Joel Anthony trade. The ideal scenario is the Sixers finishing right in the middle with the 15th pick. If they do better the pick slides back in the first round. If they do worse and fall into the bottom 14 the pick slides back to the second round. It could be notable down the stretch if the Sixers are in that neighborhood. A game or two could be the difference between the 15th pick overall or the 44th overall for the Celtics.

2015 first round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
L.A. Clippers' 2015 1st round pick to Boston [Boston-L.A. Clippers, 6/25/2013]

What this means: This pick is from the Doc Rivers deal. There are no strings on this pick. You should be pulling for whomever is playing the Clippers. The "Beat LA" chant should be in full force.

2015 second round draft pick from Washington
Washington's 2015 2nd round pick to Boston protected for selections 31-49 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Washington's obligation to Boston will be extinguished) [Boston-Washington, 7/19/2014]

What this means: This pick came to the Celtics from the Kris Humphries trade. This is another tricky one where you want the Wizards to do well enough to fall outside of the range of the protection on the pick but not to do so well as to move the pick back. Unlike the Philadelphia picks, there is no alternate option. If it doesn't happen the pick just goes away.
-Mike

Celtics vs Nets Preview

Depth Chart

 
BKN (PPG)
BOS (PPG)
PG        D. WilliamsR. Rondo
SG        J. JohnsonA. Bradley
SF        A. KirilenkoJ. Green
PF        K. GarnettJ. Sullinger
C        B. LopezK. Olynyk

It's my favorite or one of my favorite nights of the year. The Celtics opening night. I am on the Mike bandwagon where I wouldn't mind losing all the games and getting the number 1 pick, however, I think this year is more intriguing then just being bad. We have a lot of young talent and Rondo and it will be interesting how all this stuff comes together this year. Either way Brad Stevens has a big task ahead of him.

Rondo will be ready tonight, or so I'm assuming. Rajon Rondo in my eyes is the best PG in the league and I can't wait to see what he looks like with the ACL injury in the rear view mirror. Beyond Rondo, I can't wait to see how Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynik, Marcus Smart, James Young and Evan Turner play. The pre season gave me a lot of confidence in 4 out of 5 of those players minus Olynik. If the Celtics do tank and are a really bad team, what Celtics fans need to root for is progression for those 5 players so they gain trade value for the Celtics to pull off a move to make them better in the short term. I'm a big believer in Marcus Smart, I see a lot of Wade in his game, and although those expectations are unrealistic, I do.

The Nets must be scratching their head after the biggest trade the Celtics with them. KG is a shell of himself and Paul Pierce is on the Wizards. I'm not a Deron Williams fan, I think he's overrated and just sucks. Joe Johnson is getting older and Brook Lopez is out.

I think the Celtics will have a great game and their 3 point shooting will carry them to the win.

Celtics win 95-87
Tommy Award: Rajon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten years after the day after the Red Sox won the World Series

Thursday October 28, 2004. It was sometime around 2 in the morning in a dorm room, in a college town in Upstate New York. My body didn't feel like sleeping and my mind didn't feel like I was in New York. I was wide awake and my heart was in Boston. Hours after the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 years, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stay put, I had to go home. And so did two other Massachusetts expats in my dorm, one from North Reading, the other from Newton. So that night/early morning, we made the 350 mile drive home.

I could wax poetically about the sun rising on a new kind of Massachusetts that day, but I'll skip all that. We had finally won the World Series, and it was a completely new kind of feeling as a sports fan.

In retrospect, we Red Sox fans had spent years torturing ourselves, in a Calvinistic hope (give credit to Dan Shauhgnessy for the comparison between Sox fans, and the predestination believing religious folks who colonized Massachusetts centuries earlier) that with each painful experience, we would somehow be rewarded with greater amounts of joy if, AND ONLY IF, our team ever won. The more pain we went through on Earth, the greater joy Heaven would bring. That was the hope.

I'll come back to that torture/reward thing later. Returning to October 28, 2004...

I got home just as the morning commute was peaking. The Sox were the only story on the local news. The plane carrying the newly minted Champions landed at Logan. There were videos of grown men in business suits with briefcases, running alongside the team bus on its way to Fenway, jumping up and down for joy. There was a massive parade and I took the first Red Line train into Boston to get a good spot for it.

That unadulterated release of joy was something that had been building inside of us fans for years, even decades. And with each heartbreak, with each close call, with each Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, the frustration built up. As the frustration and need for release increased, so did the feeling of gratification and joy that would be felt if release would ever occur. In other words, we Sox fans had a horrible case of Blue Balls.

2004 was the epic release of that frustration, and also that joy. No sports moment will ever feel like that again.

That's why we no longer live and die with each pitch. That's why Red Sox fans went from religious zealots, to the people who only go to Church at Christmas and Easter.

John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and the Fenway Sports Group didn't help. Continuing the religious metaphor, imagine being the Pope the year after Jesus Christ came back to Earth. How would you get people fired up about anything?

You'd probably renovate the Vatican, and hire a bunch of high-priced Bishops and Cardinals (Renteria, Drew) to get people's attention.

I'll give Fenway Sports Group all the credit in the world for breaking The Curse. I'll also criticize them for not understanding what Sox fans were feeling, and still now not understanding how regular fans feel about this team. We couldn't have the same cultish devotion to the Sox after all our prayers had been answered. Henry and FSG didn't get that.

They didn't get a lot of things.

The same owners who hired The Epstein also chased him out of town. Twice. The same owners who hired Terry Francona also hired Bobby Valentine. The same owners who renovated Fenway Park also lied about sellouts and we still can't figure out why. Every 2 years they seem to acknowledge their mistakes and change their philosophy, and yet somehow they maintain a smug arrogance as though everything they do is right.

And perhaps most vexing of all, they kept Jerry Remy but dumped Jenny Dell. Giggly analyst who enabled his woman-beating son vs. attractive sideline fluff reporter who still has more interesting things to say than Remy.



Seriously? NESN and the Red Sox decided to take her off the TV screen. Good call, guys.

Everything changed after the Red Sox won the World Series. Red Sox fans changed. We went from anxiously anticipating an overdue release, to being normal fans of a normal big-market baseball team. Ownership didn't want our fandom to change, though. They wanted the same rapt attention, the same hopeful highs and desperate lows. It's like we fans were bipolar before the Sox cured us by winning the World Series. Yet the owners still wanted to prescribe us Prozac and Paxil.

We didn't want that after 2004. We just wanted a baseball team. And that's all I want now. We don't need to have owners and GMs who spend on JD Drew but skimp on Jon Lester. We don't need lavish ceremonies where lions are released and someone pulls the string on Kevin Millar's back so he says something country.

We just want a baseball team. Please.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Jim Davis/Boston Globe

WTF Yoenis


Apparently there is some shit going on with Yoenis Cespedes and the Red Sox organization. It's gone as far as these comments coming out:
Two other reasons the Red Sox are open to dealing Cespedes are his open disenchantment with Boston and his refusal to pay any heed to their coaches. “He marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him,” said a Red Sox insider.

Well then.

I really like the deal when we got him (assuming he was going to hang around and we would sign a couple pitchers) and thought that he would be a long term fixture at Fenway and he/ Castillo and others would revamp a petty offense this year. In 51 games as a member of the Red Sox he had 5 hrs and 33 rbis and batted .270. I thought he was pretty good and exciting for a Red Sox team that otherwise wasn't. However, it looks like the dream could be coming to an end with him. The dreams of him hitting 35+ HRs and tossing everyone out from the outfield could be over.

If he is that big of an asshole and could be a detriment to the lockerroom your hands are tied and you have to get rid of him, however, if this is all just some over reaction I would love to see him back for a 4-5 year deal. Either way I want this to be solved sooner then later.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Patriots Clobber Bears

I didn't know how to feel about this game going in. Teams react differently to stress. The Patriots looked like a mess coming out of the Kansas City game. The media had declared Tom Brady's career  and the Patriots dynasty over. The Patriots have been good at using a loss to motivate them to play better. It's why they so rarely lose back to back games. Coming into this week the Bears were in a similar position. They had a tough loss to Miami and things seemed tumultuous in their locker room. Instead of bouncing back and showing some resiliency, the Bears continued to be a dumpster fire. By the time the Bears got anything going on offense, the Patriots were just trying to wrap the game up efficiently without anybody getting hurt. The Patriots played one of the most dominant halves in Bears history. The 38 points the Patriots scored in the first half of this game is the most ever allowed by the Bears in franchise history. They hit a number of other embarrassing franchise records in the process. Just an all around ass whupping.

Tom Brady had his best game of the season. All his throws were right on target. He went without a sack in this game. He spread the ball around to a number of different receivers with Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright all having big games. Jonas Gray, recently promoted off of the practice squad to replace Stevan Ridley, had a strong game averaging just over 5 yards/carry. The Patriots accumulated such a substantial lead that Tom Brady was pulled for Jimmy Garoppolo in the 4th quarter with 10 minutes left to play. The protection, the execution and the balance were all there for the offense in this game.

On top of the encouraging play on offense, the defense was also very sharp against what had been an effective Bears offense. The Bears managed to have one good drive in the second quarter before the score got out of hand. Even that drive required an interception to be overturned by an illegal contact penalty in order to keep rolling. Matt Forte had a good game, but it wasn't nearly enough to bridge the gap in this game. The Bears managed to score 2 garbage time touchdowns to try and salvage some pride. I am not concerned by these as the Patriots defense was just trying to avoid injuries, penalties and not give up any quick scores. I think if it had been a closer contest you would have seen more of the early game form.

We're on to Denver! The Broncos are the early Super Bowl favorites with an impressive 6-1 record to start the season. In those 7 games they've faced 5 playoff teams and one of the non-playoff teams was giving the Cardinals their only loss on the season. They should be well rested and prepared after having the long week off after playing the Chargers on Thursday night. What else can I say about the Broncos that hasn't already been said? They're the measuring stick in the NFL right now. They look just as potent on offense as they did last year and the defense seems to have improved significantly. They will have to carry the momentum from this game if they are to have any chance to beat the Broncos.
-Mike