Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bruins Only Getting Stronger

After the first game I think a lot of people got very nervous about this series, including myself. The Red Wings are a team that were pretty hurt all year, and got healthy just coming into this series. It is really a pretty strong 8 seed. That being said there were things behind the scenes that effected that game. Many of the Bruins players had the flu, and from what I have been reading spread like crazy.

The good news is that it has passed, and with each game the Bruins look faster. The Bruins are different than a lot of teams. They aren't just about a top line, or top players, they win eroding away at you. They are deep, so deep that they can bring kids up from their minors and they are good.

The Bruins are like waves, every line is similar, but they are relentless and eventually wear you out. It has been years now of basically not having a true #1 line. There are a ton of teams with better ones, but this team has a bunch of #2 lines. They just keep coming at you, and they never have to over play a line, which means these guys are coming out 100% each time, which teams with top lines get tired if they are over played.

Every game as the Bruins get healthy they are getting faster. The Red Wings are going to have to come out strong tonight, because if they lose this one they are screwed. That being said if the Bruins get through the first 10 mins of this game tonight either tied or with the lead this game won't be close.

It's amazing how good this team really is. Imagine if they had Dennis Seidenberg too? By the way, him and McQuaid are skating again. No word on when or if they will be back, but the playoffs are long...

Red Sox Beat the (Pine) Tar Out of the Yankees

I don't judge cheaters. As a New England Patriots fan, it would be bad form for me to act all high and mighty when a team I don't support is caught breaking the rules. I will not morally judge Michael Pineda or the New York Yankees for rules violations. Some in Boston are already acting all morally outraged, as if Pineda is the only pitcher who uses a foreign substance to treat the ball, and as if the Red Sox pitching staff isn't obsessive-compulsive about the sunscreen they use.

What pisses me off is how brazenly Pineda sported his pine tar cologne. It was a massive "fuck you" to the Red Sox and to the art of cheating. It's like Jose Canseco getting steroid injections in his butt during the 7th inning stretch, or Sammy Sosa weighing his corked bat in the dugout in front of everyone.

I'm also pissed at the game of baseball. I hate how the umpires can clearly see this and yet won't do a single thing unless prodded by a manager. Isn't it the umpire's job to enforce the rules? And doesn't this policy of "See Something, Say Nothing" allow for rampant cheating to occur? Isn't that essentially what happened with steroids and HGH? No team called out other teams for using PEDs, so baseball turned a blind eye. And yet now the game is being sanctimonious about purity when it comes to Hall of Fame voting. "You were cheating, nobody called you out because they didn't want to expose their own players who were cheating, but nevertheless, you can't come to Cooperstown!"

I'm sure the Red Sox have pitchers who use foreign substances. After this game when John Farrell was asked about teams scrutinizing his own pitchers, he never once said "We have nothing to worry about, our pitchers don't do this."

None of the assembled media had the stones to ask "How come you did this when John Lackey was on the mound and not Clay Buchholz?" That was THE question to ask. Nobody asked it.

Also, how hypocritical is it for Jerry Remy to criticize Joe Girardi for letting his pitcher go out onto the mound with pine tar on his neck? Remy let his woman-beating son go out into the world and beat the crap out of women, eventually killing one. And now Rem-Dawg is going to take a moralistic stand on letting a pitcher go to the mound with pine tar on his neck?

I don't blame the Red Sox for calling out Pineda. He was blatant, he was disrespectful to the ancient art of baseball cheating. Baseball cheaters are to American history what ninjas are to Japanese history. Cheating is an integral part of baseball.

Have you ever heard of Mike "King" Kelly? He was the first truly big baseball star, playing back in the 1880s, and played for a few years in Boston for the team that would one day become the Braves. Back when there was only one umpire on the field, he would run from first to third, right across the diamond, when the ump wasn't looking. He's praised for that now, lauded and applauded. Revered and cheered. Cheating and baseball have been partners since baseball came to be.

At the same time, being caught cheating in baseball is one of the game's mortal sins. Most of the time.

In the case of Michael Pineda, I think the punishment of ejection fits the crime. The crime wasn't cheating, it was the way he cheated. He could have slathered pine tar inside his glove, on his hat, underneath a sleeve. Anywhere. He was lazy. He cheated in plain sight.

It's like if you've snuck a few nips into a sporting event or concert, and instead of buying a Coke and going to the bathroom to mix the soda with your Jim Beam, you do it in front of a security guard or a cop. What do you expect after that?

Breaking the rules is part of the American Way. Our country was founded by rule breakers. But be discreet about it. Paul Revere didn't tell the British in Boston "Hey I'm going for a ride for a few hours, see you motherfucking lobsterbacks tomorrow!" The American Way is to break the rules without being obvious about it. The American Way is to write your own rules and to not be caught breaking any other rules.

Welcome to America, Pineda, where cheating is tolerated, so long as you're not obvious about it.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Sox Win, Michael Pineda Isn't Very Smart

The first time the Sox played the Yankees Michael Pineda pitched incredibly, however there was some weird substance on his hand. Now this time, the Sox got to Pineda in the first inning to the tune of 2 runs and then in the second inning he had the same or similar substance on his neck. John Farrell brought it up to the ump, the ump inspected it and the threw Pineda out of the game. I have heard numerous rumors he will be automatically suspended, he won't, but I'm assuming that he may miss a game or two.

Anyways, those 2 runs in the first were all John Lackey needed as he went 8 innings letting up 1 run and 11Ks. An incredibly needed start based on his past couple of starts.

Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, AJ and Holt all knocked in the RBIs for the Sox.

Koji nailed down the save and that was that.

Also, how funny is it that the ball that went through Jeter's legs and not being called an error.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bruins 3, Red Wings 0 - Bruins Lead Series 2-1

This game was over before it started. It was over during the National Anthem when an octopus landed next to Tuukka Rask and the unflappable goalie's reaction was something like 'Oh, an octopus. Back to the Anthem.' Rask wasn't even startled by the slimy projectile landing so close to him. He was totally unfazed. Nothing could distract him from the focus he had on the game.

This was as close to a Flawless Victory you can get in the playoffs.

The B's had their share of sloppy moments. They took a few dumb penalties, including a too many men penalty when they were already shorthanded. Fortunately, Detroit's power play isn't very good. Meanwhile, the Bruins power play scored again. Dougie Hamilton went end to end, was hardly challenged, and he beat Jimmy Howard to put the Bruins on top 1-0.

Special teams has been the decisive difference in this series. The Bruins have scored 7 goals, 6 when Detroit has had a goalie in net. Of those 6, 3 were power play goals. Without power play goals and empty-netters, the Bruins are outscoring the Red Wings 3-2 in this series. The B's have also killed all 9 Detroit power plays.

Game 1 was the least penalized of the series. And it's also the game the Bruins lost.

The Bruins are taking full advantage of their edge on special teams. Tuukka Rask is also an edge. His composure, especially against some Detroit flurries in the 2nd, is a stark contrast to Jimmy Howard. Howard hasn't played poorly, but at times he's looked like a spaz.

The Bruins are the better team, the more complete team, and for the last two games they've been playing better. They need to continue at this level and make quick work of Detroit. At this point the B's are the only ones who can prevent themselves from winning this series.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand Are the Same People

Flop City Yall.

Last night Marchand went down and held his left leg and acted like he was going to be out for a while drawing a penatly. However, he came back after a shift or 2 and was fine. And after the game he was complaining his right knee was hurt.

My point of this post is before Bruins Nation and the rest bash Subban and Montreal, you have one of the biggest flopper/ instigators in the league.

BTW, I don't know if the Captain or Bob write anymore so this is our hockey news.

The Celtics Have The 5th Pick In the Lottery

The Celtics lost the coin flip with Utah and will be picking 5th in the NBA Draft.

This means that Boston will have a 10.3 percent chance at the first pick in the draft and a 33.4 percent chance at a top three selection. However, if they don't land a top three pick, their next best possible selection will be fifth.

This is crucial, because they only have a 51.7 percent chance at landing a top five pick as opposed to only a 80.9 percent had they won. In fact, there is a 66.1 percent chance that the Celtics land a pick between fifth and seventh.

Worst case scenario is we pick 8th, we can't pick any lower then 8th. But if we get from 4-7 pick that means Exum, Smart, Randle, Vonleih, Aaron Gordon will most likely be on the Celtics next year. Which isn't bad as I predict that there are 6-8 potential all stars in this draft. Yes the players night be as sexy as Wiggins or Parker, but the jury is still out on them.

I, unlike Mike think that the Celtics are in good position. I disagree with him saying he isn't a franchise player and/ or leader and I'll let Steve Bulpett's, end of the year grade, explain this: Rajon
Rondo: B+

The opening line to the story about his birthday absence was, “The Celtics are not taking it as a major issue...” But that didn’t stop others from doing so. What mattered is that he came back from ACL surgery and proved he hadn’t lost anything. He’s already an All-Star, but he showed improvement from the outside. He’s a better leader in private than in public, and the C’s would still like him to be more consistent with his intensity. At his best, he’s one of the few transformational talents in the NBA.

So with Rondo (whom I believe will be re-signed) in the fold I really believe that Kevin Love is coming to town. And if hypothetically we draft a Julius Randle we will have a log jam there which makes either Randle, Sully or Olynik expendable. That topped with a ton of picks and young talent the Celtics can make a big splash.

Either way the future is bright with them.

Also, big, big, big props to the Boston Celtics fans who sold 92% of the tickets this year and 90% attendance rate. It really shows that the Celtics have the best fans in Boston. Even in a bad, bad, bad year the Garden was bumping. That rarely happens to other teams in this town. So good job Celtics fans.

9 Yankees, 3 Red Sox

Well, that sucked. I don't know how to act right now when the Red Sox are sucking. I don't know whether to panic and start pointing fingers or whether to just be happy they won last year. Either way this game blew.

This was Jon Lester's worst start of the year and he was extremely fortunate to only end up with 3 ER on the game figuring he let in 8 runs. He let up 11 hits, walked 4 in 4.1 innings. It was just awful. Meanwhile, Tanaka looked pretty good. He went 7.1 innings with 7 Ks and 2 runs. If not for back to back home runs from Napoli and Ortiz he would have blanked us.

I'm not making excuses for Lester's shitty day, but the errors really hurt his stats. The ball off of Napoli's glove was especially bad. Yes he let up 11 hits and walked 4, however, those wouldn't have happened if those errors didn't occur.

Old Friend Jacoby Ellsbury, who got mixed claps and boos, had a hell of a night. He had a highlight catch in the field and had 2 hits (a double and triple) and 2 RBIs.

Oh well, I hope the Sox can pull things together in the next 10 days or it's being blown up.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bruins Even Series With Red Wings

I wonder if Reilly Smith thanked Zdeno Chara after the game for not murdering his brother Brendan and then drinking his blood.

Game 1 looked like one team had been playing meaningless games for a few weeks and the other had been playing under pressure while fighting for a playoff spot. One team played at regular season pace, another at playoff pace. Guess which team was the Bruins and which was the Red Wings.

In Game 2 the Bruins fully shifted into playoff gear. Every play had just a little more speed, a little more power. They took advantage of Detroit's mistakes, they took advantage of power plays, and they outmuscled the Red Wings.

It's so refreshing for the Bruins to have a potent power play in the postseason. Reilly Smith scored a power play goal in the 1st and Zdeno Chara scored one in the 3rd. Of the 6 people involved in the goals, 4 weren't regulars last season and 3 weren't on the team at all (Krug, Smith, Eriksson, Iginla). The Bruins have an improved power play because they have improved power players. How well they maintain that production with a man advantage throughout the playoffs will dictate how far they advance.

It helped that the refs called Detroit for their obstruction plays. We'll see if that continues in Detroit or if Mike Babcock is able to lobby the officials to call something on the Bruins.

The B's have the superior power play and a tighter penalty kill. The Red Wings don't have good special teams, so the Bruins find themselves in the unfamiliar position of wanting the refs to be more involved.

Game 3 is in Detroit on Tuesday night. The Red Wings should be back with a strong effort, and they'll learn from the lessons of Game 2. It's important for the Bruins that the Krejci line be productive. Detroit's been able to limit them. The Bruins shouldn't rely on officials and power plays for the bulk of their offense. They need their best forwards to score 5-on-5.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Red Sox Offense Painful to Watch, Especially for 14 Innings

The Red Sox beat the White Sox 6-4 early Thursday morning. Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 2-run double in the 14th was the game winner. The Red Sox only got 1 hit in the 8th and 9th innings, yet somehow managed to score a run in each inning.

In fact the Red Sox were held completely hitless from the 2nd until 1 out in the 9th. The Red Sox only totaled 6 hits overall, and only of those 5 came against actual pitchers. JBJ's 14th inning game winning double was off utility infielder Leury Garcia. Garcia had never pitched in the Majors or minors.

It's alarming that an infielder was on the mound and the Sox went 1 for 3 with a double and 2 walks. Sizemore and Pedroia each grounded out. Pierzynski flew out. Against a second baseman.

I'm not worried that the Red Sox offense will be this woefully powerless all season long. Pedroia and Ortiz haven't been doing what we know they'll do. And there are some decent bats sidelined with injury. It will get better.

For the time being, however, this offense blows, and blows quite comprehensively. No hits whatsoever in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th innings. Two of the 6 total hits were infield singles, 1 was off a second baseman, and it was the only hit they got off him. The Red Sox are 23rd in runs scored and 24th in team batting average.

It will improve. It can't not improve. What I'm beginning to wonder is if it will improve enough. The Red Sox scored the most runs in baseball last year (853). Then they lost Jacoby Ellsbuy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who were 3rd and 5th, respectively, on the team in OWAR.

With Ellsbury they lost 172 hits, 246 bases, 48 extra-base hits, 52 steals, 92 runs. With Saltalamacchia they lost 116 hits, 198 bases, 54 extra-base hits, 14 homers, 65 RBI, 68 runs. If you include steals, the Sox lost exactly 500 bases when they parted ways with these two players.

They have been replaced by decent players. Grady Sizemore has so far done all you could hope to expect of him. JBJ has looked good although he has less power than Ellsbury had, which wasn't much to begin with. And A.J. Pierzynski's OBP is just south of .300. It's silly to think that you could lose two of your top 6 offensive producers (one who leads off and the other who anchors the middle/bottom of the order), replace them with guys who you don't even expect to be as good, and then believe your offense won't get worse.

Oh, and don't forget that Daniel Nava, who had a career year last year, is hitting .137. And I'm sure that will improve. But will it improve to the .303 average he had last year, with an impressive .385 OBP? This is a guy who at 31 has only 1 Major League season with over 300 at-bats. What's more likely in 2014, that Nava finishes 15th in baseball in OBP again, or that his performance drops? There's optimism, then there's hope and prayer.

Maybe I'm sleep deprived, and that's why I'm writing such a downer of a post. The Red Sox still have a very good offense. It's just not as good as last year's, nor is it the best in baseball.

This means that the pitching staff must step up. It means that the bullpen has to work hard to squeeze out close games like Wednesday night's/Thursday morning's 6-4 win. In that game, the bullpen combined for 8 innings, allowed 4 hits, only 1 earned run, only 1 walk, and struck out 9. That's a strong effort by 5 good relievers, although Edward Mujica almost ruined it.

The offense will get better. Ortiz and Pedroia will definitely hit. Nava will probably hit, Victorino and Middlebrooks will return. Runs will score. Just not as often as last year.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Tankapalooza Over, Celtics Finish Tied For 4th Worst Record

Despite 2 costly wins in the last 4 games, the Celtics managed to drop their last two games to secure a tie for the 4th Worst Record in basketball along with the Utah Jazz. It would have been nice if they could have lost out and tied the Magic for 3rd or been in sole possession of 4th, but what's done is done. ESPN's Chris Forsberg wrote a little blurb about where this leaves the Celtics in terms of picks in next year's draft:
The Celtics and Jazz will split 207 ping-pong ball combinations with a random drawing to see who gets the leftover combo (and the higher pick in the event neither vault into the top 3 spots). Both teams will own roughly 33.7 percent chance at a top-3 pick and a 10.4 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. Boston can pick no lower than eighth in June's draft.
The Celtic entered the final night with the fifth-worst record in basketball, but were aided by a Los Angeles Lakers victory over the San Antonio Spurs as well as Utah's double-overtime triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What's more, with Washington's win over Boston, coupled with Brooklyn's loss in Cleveland, the Celtics will pick as high as 17th in June's draft with the Nets' pick received in last summer's swap. A coin flip will break the tie between the Nets and Wizards, who both finished at 44-38, meaning Boston will pick 17th or 18th overall with that selection.
This season was doomed from the start. It was a sacrificial lamb to give the Celtics all the resources they would need to reload. Rajon Rondo isn't a leader, he's not a centerpiece, he's not a cornerstone, whatever word you want to use for it. He can be part of a big 3, but he's the Chris Bosh or the Ray Allen not the LeBron James or Kevin Garnett. There is promise on this team, but not nearly enough raw talent to be a viable contender.

I had to hold my nose and look the other way for 82 games, but now that it's over I'm excited for the future. There's a very realistic chance of getting a high pick in a draft with some potential to be the next big thing at the top. If that doesn't work out, the Celtics still have a ton of flexibility to make moves. I think it's entirely realistic to think we'll see some "fireworks" this offseason followed by a dramatic improvement next season.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2 White Sox, 1 Red Sox

First and foremost, classy move by the White Sox by honoring the Boston Marathon victims by wearing Boston Strong shirts in the pregame. I'm sure the whole "Boston Strong" thing has been watered down for most in the country, however, being from here, it does mean something, so thanks Chicago.

Now to the game, Jake Peavy has pitched incredible this whole season and in his homecoming to Chicago he pitched pretty good. He pitched 6 innings, striking out 8 and only letting up one home run to Adam Dunn. Peavy on the year has pitched 18 innings with 20Ks and a 1.93 era, but due to a shitty start from the Sox he has not one a decision. Unfortunately for the Sox Erik Johnson acorss the diamond had just as good of a game going 6.2 letting up 1 run and striking out 9.

I am extremely concerned about the Sox in this early season. I see no urgency, I see no fire and a lot of stuff that made last years team so special and to be honest, I don't know how to fix it. Luckily Pedroia is fine, but this team just seems to have lost some of the clutch gene they developed last year.

I don't know what Farrell is doing, but I'm pretty sick of Burke Badenhop. All he does is come in and let up runs. He has pitched 6 innings this year, while giving up 6 runs. I want him demoted ASAP.

Anyways, hopefully the Sox can turn things around quickly.