Wednesday, December 31, 2008

AP Rookie of the Year

Jerod Mayo is the AP Defensive Rookie of the year. I am going to be honest with you, I am not surprised to be typing those words. You knew that for the coach to draft a LB with the 10th overall pick(that he stole from San Francisco and traded to New Orleans) he had to be a special player. Here is a little bit about Mayo that I have gathered together from reliable and unreliable sources on the internet.

Mayo played his High School ball at Kecuoghtan High school, where he lettered three times in football as both a linebacker and a running back. He was the 2003 Defensive player of the year in the Virginia Peninsula area, the following year he was named all state and first team all district. In 2004 he redshirted at Tennessee and saw brief action in 2005 recording 13 tackles in 6 games. In 2006 he became a starter recording 83 tackles, with 5 sacks, and in his final college season the coaches of Tennessee decided to spread a little Mayo and move him to middle linebacker where he records 140 tackles and became an All American.

We all got to witness his rookie season. The most impressive game had to be against the Jets when the Pats lost in overtime when he had 23 tackles, 17 solo. He ended up leading the team in tackles with 128, and was a snub for the pro bowl team in my opinion, but could still find his way on when since all of the linebackers on the roster are playing in the playoffs and could still be injured or could be tired by the time the pro bowl comes around.
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AP Rookie of th e

Jerod Mayo is the AP Defensive Rookie of the year. I am going to be honest with you, I am not surprised to be typing those words. You knew that for the coach to draft a LB with the 10th overall pick(that he stole from San Francisco and traded to New Orleans) he had to be a special player. Here is a little bit about Mayo that I have gathered together from reliable and unreliable sources on the internet.

Mayo played his High School ball at Kecuoghtan High school, where he lettered three times in football as both a linebacker and a running back. He was the 2003 Defensive player of the year in the Virginia Peninsula area, the following year he was named all state and first team all district. In 2004 he redshirted at Tennessee and saw brief action in 2005 recording 13 tackles in 6 games. In 2006 he became a starter recording 83 tackles, with 5 sacks, and in his final college season the coaches of Tennessee decided to spread a little Mayo and move him to middle linebacker where he records 140 tackles and became an All American.

We all got to witness his rookie season. The most impressive game had to be against the Jets when the Pats lost in overtime when he had 23 tackles, 17 solo. He ended up leading the team in tackles with 128, and was a snub for the pro bowl team in my opinion, but could still find his way on when since all of the linebackers on the roster are playing in the playoffs and could still be injured or could be tired by the time the pro bowl comes around. Read more!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Quick Note on the Patriots

One quick note on the Pats that I forgot to mention earlier:

When inevitably a few big name running backs and receivers come available this offseason or are there in the draft, remember that the Patriots finished the year 5th in total offense, 6th in rushing offense, and 8th in points per game. In short, they don't need help there. Once again, it is the defense that needs work because for the third year in a row their failure to get a stop when they absolutely needed one - in this case the infamous 3rd and 15 against the Jets - cost them their season. Defense folks, defense. Even if Larry Johnson can be had. Spend the cash - and all of the cash - on defense. Read more!

10 Thoughts on the Pats and Other Things

1) First and foremost, I still standby my "deserve go nuthin' to do with it" post. That doesn't mean that I am not bitter though. It sucks that this team is missing the playoffs and yes I was pissed Sunday night. I really thought they had a run in them.

2) The more I think about it, the more I think my idea of swapping out conference playoff teams if a team that misses the playoffs in one conference is one game better than the last team in in the other is a good idea. I mean, imagine the possibility of New England going to New York to play the Giants in the Divisional Round if they could escape Minnesota? No need to harp on what-ifs though.

3) Us New Englanders are going to be pretty harsh on Brett Favre for the next few days and rightfully so. With that in mind, let me just say that the guy is one of the 10 or 15 best quarterbacks of the past 20 years so we should pay him some respect.

4) Backhanded compliment? Of course! Here are the QBs:

Way Ahead of his Class:

Distinctly Ahead of his Class:

In his Class:
Jim Kelly
Kurt Warner

Slightly Below his Class:
Drew Bledsoe
Vinny Testaverde
Steve McNair
Mark Brunell

5) Brad Penny signing? Sounds good to me! If I had to guess I'd predict 150 innings, 10 wins, and an ERA in the low 4's. I'll take that from a cheap, back of the rotation starter.

6) Do you know who the Dolphins remind me of? The 2001 Patriots. They have the stingy defense, an efficient offense, and a Troy Brown type in Ted Ginn who can break a play either as a receiver or in the return game. AND they even have their own Bryan Cox in Joey Porter. Also, let's not forget that Chad Pennington as a quarterback now is very similar to what Tom Brady was then. In fact, Pennington's 2008 was actually better than Brady's 2001. Pennington started 16 games to Brady's 14 that year which skews the counting stats, but he still completed 67% of his passes to Brady's 63% while accumulating about 800 more passing yards (3,653 to 2,843) and having a better TD:INT ratio (19:7 vs. 18:12). Long story short, if you think that the Dolphins can't win a Super Bowl with a quarterback like Chad Pennington, that is incorrect.

7) I love how the Red Sox are seemingly tackling the catching position with their real team exactly as I do with my fantasy team. In other words, they are going to throw a bunch of mediocre players against a wall and hope one sticks and if that does not work out then probably try to swing a trade for an upgrade at the position from mediocre to average. I guess this could work, but coming from somebody who has never successfully implemented the strategy in fantasy, I would not advise it.

....And now some quick hitting Celtics items before we wrap this up

8) Looks like Tony Allen has reverted back to his old form and by old form I mean a running, jumping, and turning the ball over machine. I thought he may have learned some actual basketball skills over the summer but turns out I was wrong.

9) There are two things I do not think I have ever seen while watching a Celtics game. The first is Rajon Rondo finishing the layup when he does his fake behind the back pass and then lay it in move and the second is Big Baby hitting a jump shot.

10) Speaking of Big Baby, the guy just looks awful whenever I see him play. Keeping that in mind, put me in the camp of people who say that any move the Celtics make between now and February should involve a backup big that can play the 5 in a pinch. In other words, if the Celtics could get PJ Brown back and know that he could give them close to what he gave them last year, then that is the move. While I like the Mutumbo idea, I'd prefer a guy like Brown who can at least hit the open shot when he has it as a compliment to Leon Powe who is a master of garbage points. Baby gets the garbage points too, but Powe is much better than him at it so therefore Baby is the odd man out and the position in most need of an upgrade unless he can figure out how to hit the jump shots he is more than happy take.

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The season is over

It is time to start the countdown to when the giant truck with the CVS logo departs from Fenway towards Fort Myers. The football season came to a close on Sunday after Brett Favre sucked it up again against Miami costing the Patriots the AFC east title. I don't understand how a 8-8 team gets in while the Patriots sit at home but I digress here are some notes from the past couple of days.

- Cassel will be on the move. When Brady went down Cassel got a very special Lottery ticket that he will cash in this off season. The question is how much is that ticket worth? Is he franchised and traded? or is he franchised and spends another year with a clipboard in New England just in case Tom Curran's story about Tom Brady and his knee is true. I will point out that Carson Palmer had a very similiar injury and has never seemed to be the same.

- How do we make our defense better? First they need to get younger, they should get a pick or two for Cassel and they should have money under the cap. Another theory, get rid of Dan Pees, I hear that our former Defensive Coordinator is on the market and is in need of a new job, and after his tenor there is no way Romeo gets another head coaching job at least not right now.

- The Mangenious has been fired, I don't care if he ever lands another job in football.

- So next year they are moving the Pro Bowl to the week in between the Super Bowl and the AFC and NFC championship games. While we lose the players that would be preparing for the big game, most of them don't play anyway they just take a vacation to Hawaii. I think this is a great idea, first it will get more people to watch it, and second all the players go to Super Bowl week anyway so they will be there anyway might as well get them playing.

- I know that no one is paying attention but the BC Eagle basketball team is 11-2 and heading into what will be a tough ACC schedule. Also the BC Eagles football team looks to wina nother meaningless bowl game tomorrow at the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

- Finally the Red Sox are picking up the pieces after they lost out on Teixiera by signing another crappy hitting catcher in Josh Bard, and injury prone Brad Penny. I was talking to my friend Jeff and we both agree that they will end up doing something to bolster there lineup. Whether they trade away some of there young pitching for someone like Joe Mauer, or when the A's fall out of the playoff race Matt Holiday. I am not worried, IN THEO WE TRUST. Read more!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Wire and the Patriots

"Deserve got nuthin' to do with it".

That quote look familiar? If you are/were a fan of HBO's The Wire then it absolutely should. In case you cannot place it, that lead the penultimate episode and was said by Snoop to Michael, when Michael "mouthed off" and questioned the necessity of killing a man just because he bad-mouthed their boss, Marlo. Of course, the irony of that quote and how the story played out ***and spoiler alert if you have not seen The Wire all the way through and plan on doing so*** was that Snoop was using this hit as a setup to ambush Michael and get him, only Michael caught wind of it first and made a preemptive strike on her. So in the end maybe "deserve" did have something to do with it? I don't know.

But I digress.

The reason I wanted to lead with that is because you could use that quote to sum up the Patriots entire 2008 pretty much to a T.

Did the Patriots deserve to get their historic 2007 season highlighted with a Super Bowl victory and a 19-0 record? Yeah, they probably did. They were after all indisputably the best team in the NFL weeks 1-17. Plus, isn't the point of a championship to crown the best team? That was the Patriots in 2007 right? Well a funny thing happened en route to that. They played the Giants in the Super Bowl and lost. And yes, they were very close to winning the game and achieving historical greatness and all the rest, but if they had won that Super Bowl, would they have actually deserved the victory in that specific game? Clearly the Giants outplayed them and deserved to win. So if the Pats had stolen the game would that victory which would have lead to a title deservedly been theirs? The victory no, but the title yes? I don't know. Confusing right? "Deserve got nuthin' to do with it."

As fans, did we "deserve" to have our first memory of the 2008 season be the Tom Brady injury? Of course not! All spring and summer we dealt with moving on from that horrific Super Bowl loss. And what happens half a quarter into the first game of the season? Exactly. Now granted things have worked out far better than anybody could have anticipated, but after all the heartache with how the previous season ended, seeing Tom Brady go down almost immediately in 2008 was certainly nothing that could have been anticipated. Literally, it was the absolute worst-case-scenario. Sure, maybe they ran up some scores last year, but did they deserve that?

And that brings me to the main point of this little post, which is whether or not the Patriots "deserve" to be in the playoffs. Most people, myself included would point to "YES", especially when an 8-8 or maybe 9-7 team will come out of the AFC West, and the Cardinals are in the tournament in the NFC.

But let's just re-think this a touch. OK?

First off, the Cardinals are in the NFC. There is nothing we can do about that unless the NFL enacted a radical rule where if one Conference had a team that was shutout of their Conference's playoffs, but had a better record than a Wild Card entrant in the other Conference, that team could then play out the playoffs in the other Conference. For example, this year if the Patriots finish 11-5 and out of the playoffs and Dallas finishes 10-6 with the 6 seed in the NFC, under this radical idea, the Patriots would then take the Cowboys spot in the NFC playoffs and the NFC playoffs would proceed per usual except with an AFC team included. That would be a cool rule change I think. To keep it simple, we would also say that tie-breakers do not matter in this situation. In order for a team to be eligible to switch conferences, their record MUST be superior to the team they would be replacing.

Now as fun as that would be and could be, that is just a made up situation. The Patriots still need help to make the playoffs.

And again, we get to the question of deserve. Some people may say that they deserve to be in there more than the AFC West champ. That could be true. But what about when you consider how easy the Patriots schedule has been? Of their ten wins, 7 have come against the aforementioned AFC/NFC West and the other three against division foes. Furthermore, if San Diego defeats Denver this week, that would mean that the Patriots record against playoff teams would be 1-3 with the one coming against the mighty Cardinals. That could move to 2-4 however if the Dolphins take the Division and the Pats get the Wild Card. Either way, we're not talking about a sterling record here against the top of the line teams.

Meanwhile, the Ravens, the team that could potentially block NE out of the last playoff spot should both them and the Dolphins win has had to play 7 games against playoff teams where they went 2-5. That record does not set the world on fire either, but isn't it fair to consider that if the Patriots played their schedule and the Ravens played the Patriots, the Patriots would not even be in the Wild Card conversation? We like to say the Patriots "deserve" to be in the playoffs, but did they "deserve" receiving a cream-puff schedule with only four of ten out of division games against teams currently above .500. Meanwhile the Ravens breakdown was eight of ten? Of course not. It was just how things played out this year. Nothing about deserve/underserve so let's not kid ourselves into thinking that all things have been equal if it comes down to the Pats vs. the Ravens for that Wild Card spot.

All things weren't equal though. The Ravens played the tougher scheduled. So if you are choosing between 11-5 teams, don't the Ravens arguably "deserve" the last spot more because of that? I say yes. All of us Pats fans know perfectly well that if roles were reversed we would be crying foul over the possibility of losing out on the Playoffs to a team that played a far inferior schedule. Tie goes to the Ravens then and we need to be okay with that.

But again, I know it is not the Ravens potential inclusion over the Pats that has people chirping with fair/unfair and deserve/undeserve chatter. It's the AFC West. And I want to close with dilemma.

It is probably fair to assume that the AFC West at least partly aided the Patriots in being where they are now. After all, if the division did not suck so much, the Patriots may not have been able to go 3-1 against it. Therefore, I think we can call it a push in the fairness department. Their division champ can get into the playoffs but our team at least gets to play their crappy division. And same deal for the NFC West which produced 4 more wins for the Pats. Division champ gets a playoff spot but we get to play you all too. Fair? Fair. Done, done, and done.

I think you get the point by now. Once we start making arguments based around shady logic which features words like "deserve" and "fair" in them, we inevitably end up talking ourselves into a corner. The fact of the matter is, the Patriots are probably a better team than whomever makes it from the AFC West and are definitely better than the Cardinals out of the NFC West. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that we wouldn't have to be making this "deserve" talk if they did not give away the game in Indy and the game at home against the Jets. Shoot, who even knows what happens against the Steelers if Randy Moss doesn't have those two huge first half drops. If you want a closing thought from me it is this; give away more than one winnable game during a 16 game season and you don't deserve the right to play that card when some cruel twists of fate come and get you down the road.

Like Snoop says, "deserve got nuthin' to do with it".
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Remember Vernon Gholston?

Do you remember Vernon Gholston? He was the guy a bunch of people wanted the Pats to take with their first round pick simply because draft guys like Mel Kiper Jr. said he wowed at the combine and blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, I feel very vindicated by his performance this year because I thought from the start that people only were pining for him because they heard he was supposed to be good and not because they had actually seen him play. Meanhwhile I watched my boy Jerod Mayo play all through college and announced back in April that he would be Defensive ROY. Nothing is official yet, but he is looking good for that.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gholston has played in 14 games for the Jets this year starting none of them and recording 4 tackles.

On the flip side, Mr. Mayo has 121 tackles.

That's it. Read more!

Rootbeer and Bacon the League

About 4 months ago we started the Rootbeer and Bacon Fantasy Football league which included the writers of the blog along with fans and family in our inaugural season. It all came down to the final game of the fantasy season as Cutlegs Crew beat Obama Rules!!! 141 to 131 on the performances of Phillip Rivers and Dallas Clark. So congratulations to Cutleg, since we have no trophy I thought instead I would post this slightly embarrasing picture of her instead. I am not bitter even though I lost in the championship game, I swear. Read more!

Monday, December 22, 2008

10 Thoughts for Monday!

1) Hey, did you hear? We all need to root for Man-Genius and the Jets on Sunday. How gross!

2) So the Celtics won against the Knicks on Sunday contrary to my prediction. Obviously I am cool with that. So when will the streak end now? My guess is it hits 20 with a win in the Big Lakers Game, but ends the next night in Golden State. If however, the Celtics can come out of their impending 4 games in 6 nights West Coast swing with the streak in tact then I don't know what to tell you. That would just be incredible.

3) I will go out on a limb and say that the Patriots will sneak into the playoffs after beating down the Bills in Buffalo when the Jags upset the Ravens on Sunday and the Dolphins beat the Jets. Hello Wild Card!

4) So there is a rumor out there that the Yanks may bring on Manny with a 3 year/$75M offer. That terrifies me. I know it crushes them defensively and they have logjam of corner OF/DH types, but you KNOW that Manny would just terrorize the Sox every time the teams met. If you thought Johnny Damon wrought havoc, I can't even imagine what Manny would do.

5) Do you know who I bet signs Jason Varitek to a 3 year/$30M offer? The Washington Nationals. As a DC resident, I know how truly awful an organization they are. So why sign Tek? Because the ownership is so stupid/arrogant they think that by signing a "name" free agent who they can make the face of their franchise, people will want to go to a beautiful stadium near nothing of interest in the city and watch a 95 loss team play on a 95 degree night in July. No thanks. But I promise you, they would think Tek could be a cure-all.

6) And yes, I do believe the JD Drew/Dice-K conspiracy and fully believe that Boras is trying to pull the same trick with Teixeira and Varitek. Only problem is, Boras so overplayed his hand with Teixeira that now bidders are dropping out of the fray left and right and he is in no position to say, "...and while you're at it, how about inking Tek to a multi-year offer".

7) Gotta say, I really loved the heart that the Cowboys D showed on Saturday night. Twice they had chances to put their team in position to win - and give a big time assist to the Pats of course - by just stopping the Ravens on the running plays that they knew were coming and force a punt. Instead they gave up 82 and 77 yard touchdown runs on consecutive offensive snaps. Awesome. Everybody in New England REALLY appreciated that.

8) If the Pats post the 11-5 but still miss the playoffs, you know what haunts us all offseason? Jabar Gaffney's drop and David Thomas' penalty in the Indy game, but more than that allowing the Jets to convert that 3rd and 15 in overtime. Ugh.

9) It is an absolute godsend that both the Ravens and Jets/Dolphins will be playing at 4:15. If the Ravens played at 1 and defeated Jacksonville, would you put it by Eric Mangini to have his team roll over as yet another F--- You to the Pats? Exactly. Now at least they have something to play for too.

10) One cool thing about the Celtics; that they are 26-2 and only Rajon Rondo (8th in assists/game) is in the top 10 in the league in any of the triple-double categories. Very cool. I love balance.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Move Over A-Rod, Tex is the New Number 1 A-Hole!

Do you know who should be sending Mark Teixeira a big old Harry and David gift basket plus maybe a new Escalade for his struggles? Alex Rodriguez. You know why? Because now, thanks to Tex, Rodriguez is no longer the most loathsome player in Major League Baseball. Even more amazing is that Tex seemingly came out of nowhere to steal this crown.

I bring up the A-Rod comparison because last year, as Scott Boras was pulling out all of the unseemly tricks from his big old bag of them, A-Rod finally put his foot down, "fired" Boras, stated his desire to stay in New York and then immediately hammered out a monster contract. Say what you will about A-Rod (and I will!) but this was a very crafty move on his part because a) it was an over-the-top move to endear himself to the NY fans which kind of worked and b) he knew that he would stay there anyway so why not take the money and be done with it. Teixeira could have done the same. He could have told Boras to screw, stated where he wanted to play once the final bidders had their bids in place and then been done with it. But of course that did not happen.

So how did Tex get here?

It all started back when the Red Sox drafted him out of high school but he did not sign with them because Scott Boras advised him that he could get more money down the line if he went to college, dominated, and then re-entered the draft after a few college seasons. Players do this all the time so it is really tough to fault him for going this route. Plus it worked. You gotta give the guy a pass there.

Fast forward now to 2007.

The Rangers offer him an 8 year/$140M contract. And he turns it down. With that, they trade him to the Braves mid-season. The Braves playoff push that year falls flat with him. In 2008 they try again to use Tex for a run at the NL East but injuries and other issues made it clear that it just wasn't happening for them so they traded him in July to the Angels. Upon his arrival in Anaheim it was supposedly pre-ordained that he would be THE guy to push them over the top.

Their lineup was thin and a bat short. They were winning the AL West with or without Tex, but he was the guy to finally push them past the Sox in the playoffs. And you know what, he almost did hitting .467 in the ALDS.

Or did he? Because we remember that that .467 was about as empty as a .467 could be as it included 0 extra base hits and 0 hits with runners in scoring position. What would happen to A-Rod if he did the same thing? He would get CRUSHED, that is what. But somehow, with his pending free agency everybody focuses on the .467 with him and not the dubious zeros.

The other thing that nobody mentions; for a supposed cornerstone franchise guy, he could very well be on his fourth team in three seasons in 2009. Yes, all of his trades were dictated byhis impending free agency, but the other big elephant in the room is that in each of the last two seasons he was acquired by teams making a playoff push and neither time could he push them over the top, even with impressive numbers. Baseball is not basketball, you cannot bring in just one position player and expect him to bring you from point A to point C. Maybe he can get you to B, but he can't get you to the next, next level.

Does any of the above really make him that bad of a guy? No, not really. Sure, turning down that 8 year/$140M contract is a little jarring, but he was advised - and advised correctly - that he could make more money if he just waited a year and hit the open market. Again, he is not the only player who has done this but when you consider the recent trend of young stars inking team friendly extensions with their current teams to money that guarantees them long-term financial comfort it does make you wonder just a bit. Especially when a good bulk of those young players are guys BETTER than Teixeira. If I asked you to choose between Teixeira and any of the below guys, do you go with Tex over any of them? I am not sure.

Consider some notable young position players who have signed team friendly relative big money extensions in the past few years:

David Wright
Jose Reyes
Hanley Ramirez
Ryan Braun
Evan Longoria
Dustin Pedroia

Maybe I missed a couple of guys there (I'm just going off the top of my head) but wouldn't you rather have any of those guys over Tex for the long haul? Do you know who has the biggest contract of that lot? Hanley Ramirez. At 6 years, $70M. Is he the best of that bunch? Maybe. But that really is not the point. The point is that those are six arguably superior players to Mark Teixeira all making less than half of his potential salary. In most cases far less than half.

Am I begrudging Teixeira for chasing the money? Most certainly not. If he wants to leverage his skills into the richest contract possible that is absolutely his right and I say more power to him. I have done that in my own professional life so it would be hypocritical for me to rail against him for doing otherwise.

So why then am I calling Mark Teixeira the new most loathsome player in baseball, a moniker he is stealing from A-Rod?

Here is why? Because he has had four and maybe five ENORMOUS contract offers in front of him for close to a week now. All of the offers were legitimate enough to be deemed serious by both parties (him and the team offering him the money). So why then the s-l-o-w deliberations? Make up your mind already! Right now it seems like the choices are, play in Boston for a winner and get back to the east coast, stay in Anaheim and re-sign with the Angels, or play for a team in your home-town region t who will suck initially but at least in the case of the Orioles may become pretty good in a few years. Those are the choices. I am not saying they are easy choices. What I am saying though is that he is a big boy and needs to make them. It's like when Brett Favre indulges himself for weeks on end about whether or not he will retire. At some point you need to just say to yourself, "F--- it, this is my decision and this is what I am going to do". Don't painstakingly drag it out. By doing that you make every single person involved in bidding on your services re-evaluate whether or not you are really worth it. That's what Teixeira has done. Two months ago, everybody was completely gung ho about bringing the guy on. Now, it seems like people just kind of want him to go away.

If Teixeira had signed a contract with Boston swiftly, he would have been ushered into town like Manny was years back, a hero's welcome with the whole city opening their arms to the new offensive savior. Instead, even if he does wind up in Boston, everybody is already so revolted by the ongoing shenanigans that they may need to hold the press conference at 2 AM EST on Christmas Morning like outgoing presidents, pardoning white collar criminals. It should not have to come to that.

With the Red Sox being the Red Sox it of course won't. They'll pretend like it never happened but you can bet there will be a lot of bad blood from the fans. Of course Tex can erase all of this by starting the year on fire a la Manny in 2001. But if he finds himself with a .250/7/20 line around June then watch out. Things will get nasty. Actually, Teixeira if he winds up in Boston will be in a complete no win situation because the only way he can live up to his contract and the expectations is to suddenly start out-producing the way he has produced his entire career to date. Unlikely. I'd like to say I feel sorry for him, but I really cannot. He brought it upon himself.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Celtic Notes

Two things real quick, both about the Celtics.

1) In my post the other day comparing the Celtics to the '96 Bulls I made a stupid. I stated that that team opened their season with a loss in Boston in Game One of the Rick Pitino Era. Nope, that was the next year's team. Why am I beating myself up over this? Mainly because I remember so well that 1996 Kentucky team which Rick Pitino coached. That team was loaded with NBA talent, headlined by Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Tony Delk, and I Love Waltah and spent their whole season it seemed crushing their competition trying to make amends for their early season loss to UMass.

UMass was the clear cut Number 2 that year, lead by Marcus Camby. The two were on a collision course to meet for the National Championship. But then the NCAA being the NCAA put them each on the same "side of the bracket" so they could only meet in the semifinals and not the finals. Smart thinking there. So as Syracuse and Missippi State (lead by former Celtic gunner/great Dante Jones) played in one semi, the two best teams in the country for the entire season played in the other. A complete screw job by the selection committee. It is one thing in the NFL or the NBA when a Conference final is a de facto championship simply because those are the breaks some years. But in the NCAA Tournament? Where it is totally avoidable? Come on now. The end result probably would have been the same either way (Kentucky as National Champion) but UMass should have at least had the chance to play them for it in the final round instead of in the semis.

And that is my long-winded way of saying that I should have remembered that Rick Pitino was coaching Kentucky in 1996. Not the Celtics. He waited a year to go in and sink that ship.

2) Another thing I want to bring up is the Celtics and their quest to beat the 1996 Bulls regular season record of 72 wins.

This is something that I think many of us - myself included - think is a very strong and real possibility assuming health.

After their game on Friday the Celtics will at best be 25-2 and at worst be 24-3. 27 games in is the 1/3 mark of the season and win or lose the C's will be on pace to beat the Bulls record. And here is where reality sets in. In order for them to get to 73 or more victories the C's need to keep up their current pace for the rest of the year. That is going to be really, really tough. I am not saying it is by any means impossible but winning 24 out of every 27 games is an insane pace to keep. Do I think they can do it? Yes. Do I think they will do it? Yes, I think that too. Do I worry that maybe KG or Paul Pierce might push themselves a little too hard with a nagging injury or something to pursue this record and help keep the pace? I worry about that also even if they would never admit it.

So what is the best way to 73+?

I say they are in great shape if they can sweep their next three games heading into the Christmas Showdown in LA. This puts them at 27-2. Then, even with a loss (I think they will win that game honestly) to drop them to 27-3 they will "only" need to go 46-6 over their final 52. It's not like that will be easy, but then again winning almost 90% of your games is not easy. Nor should it be for that matter. All the more reason to really, really appreciate the team if they can do it. Just no "73 Regular Season Victories" banner please if they don't win it all.

Oh, and if you want two fearless predictions about their next few games, here they are:

1) The streak will end at home against the Knicks on Sunday.

2) The Celtics will beat the Lakers on Christmas Day. Read more!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Rant

I tend not to care about color commentary outside of my well documented love for Tommy Heinson and my even more well documented loathing for Jerry Remy. I understand why you want a play by play guy and how a color guy adds to the overall broadcast. I rarely listen to sports on the radio, but have from time to time caught the Celtics on WEEI.

Prior to starting this site I had a long conversation about the Celtics retiring any number they could in order to try and get asses in the seats. I felt this reached it's most rediculous when they retired Cedric Maxwell's number, whom I never considered to much more than a role player on those teams. Now, I was very young, and most of my opinion is based on what I have learned long after Maxwell retired. So, I could be wrong on that end. When they installed him as the color man for radio broadcasts, I thought that at the very least he brought with him a vast knowledge of knowledge about the historical Celtics teams, which is something that Celtics fans and the front office value. But again, I really didn't care all that much.

I remember him getting some heat about some comment he made off the cuff last year, but still I really didn't care all the much. Then, while making a much needed and deserved run to the border (Taco Bell) the other night, he made a comment that is just plain insulting, and whats worse is noone has called him on it.

Well Rootbeer & Bacon is here to call him to task. Mr. Maxwell, on Monday evening you commented on how on your way to the garden you had to stop so a woman could cross the street who was pushing a shopping cart with everything she owned in it. Then you said, and I quote " Take your whole living room with you why doncha?" Mr. Maxwell, I am pretty sure that makes you an asshole. The woman you were talking about is clearly homeless, and if she had a living room she would keep her things in it. Whats worse is the vast majority of homeless people in MA are also suffering from severe mental illness. It was not funny.

My mother asked me to swear less on the site, so like a good son, I have been trying to keep the language to PG-13, but now I am going to go up to R, so get ready. Mr. Maxwell, you are a retired professional athlete with your number in the rafters at the garden, and you are on your way to a cush job telling anecdotes about your playing days. I would guess you make well over a 100,000.00 a year telling those anecdotes, which leads me to believe you live a pretty charmed life. But while doing your cush story telling job, you make a joke about a homeless women who delayed your arrival at a sporting event you were getting paid to attend?

That makes you an asshole Cedric Maxwell, fuck you.
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The Sox and Free Agents

This is a very unimaginative blog posting and I always am hesitant to direct traffic from our small blog to a big, behemoth site like, but today I've got to do it.

I think I have mentioned before how much I like Tony Mazz' blog over there and the other night he made a post-Winter Meetings post which I thought was great on a number of levels. Mainly, he nailed the point on the Sox handling of signing their own guys to long term extensions versus what they will give to free agents on the open market.

Also he brought up a couple of interesting side items about the pursuit of Teixeira. First, that the Sox are greasing the skids for the whopper contract they will offer Tex by bringing up and rationalizing their past major contracts and secondly that with NESN's ratings down last year they are looking for an external spark to bring more viewers back to Sox games. With the last point you really need to give props to the Sox owners as business men, but of course the first illustrates how recklessly they have over-spent in many free agent cases. Let's focus on the good though because I think it is more interesting.

If they throw a few extra million per year at Teixeira and that bumps their ratings back up they can therefore increase the cost of advertising on NESN and win in the end. It's a risk but it is also how rich people can get richer. Spending money to make money. The Celtics owners did the same type of cost/benefit analysis when assessing the risk involved in paying tons of cash to Ray Allen and KG and that of course worked out great.

With all this being said, the amount of money that Tex stands to receive from the Red Sox really unsettles me. Not in a high-horsed, "I can't believe athletes are getting paid like this in these times!" kind of way, but more in a "a .300/30/110 corner infielder is really worth $25M???" kind of way. And that brings me to my final point and one I think Mazz subtly gets at too. The more these Teixeira talks drag on, the more it seems people are starting to re-evaluate things. As I have said before, his pending free agency has all of a sudden elevated him to being perceived as a top of the line player. The player that he should be most naturally compared to in this light is Albert Pujols, an outstanding defensive first baseman with a big bat. The thing is, Pujols laps Teixeira as a player. For Pujols' 8 year career, his OPS+ is 170. Tex' is 134 over six seasons. That is not bad by any means, but again, you are paying him to be Albert Pujuols and the fact of the matter is he is not.

For the last time, I am not saying that the Sox would not be a better team with Tex. They absolutely would be. I just don't think he is worth anywhere close to the contract he is going to get. From them or anybody else for that matter.

One final point and it is again something that Mazz brought up in his blog.

At what point do the Sox farmhands get sick of signing below market contracts to stick with the team while they see big name free agents either their lesser, equal to, or slightly superior come in for way more than them? I understand the allure of long term financial security and all that, but what happens when one player - and I think it is going to be Youk - says, "screw you, you are offering me a 5 year/$50M contract when you offered JD Drew $20M more total 2 years ago and you just paid Mark Teixeira almost 4 times that when he had only a slightly better year than me last year?! Let me say it again, SCREW YOU!" And what about when it comes time to pay Lester, Papelbon, and maybe Beckett again? What happens there when pitchers in their neighborhood are making $15M a year? I am not saying that the Red Sox should go there with them, but what happens when they offer Jon Lester less of an annual salary than they pay Julio Lugo? How will that sit?

I am not saying that they should overpay their own talent by any means. What I am saying though is that at some point the front office will be made to pay by their own players for all the reckless spending they have done in free agency. At some point, won't it rankle somebody to see the massive dollars being thrown at guys like Rent-a-Wreck, Matt Clement, Julio Lugo, and JD Drew while below market contracts continue to get put in front of their face? I say it's only a matter of time and the solution lies in selective free agent bidding, not massive in-house over-payment.

The Red Sox farm system reconstruction has clearly produced massive dividends, but I do fear a comeuppance of sort on the horizon if they continue to burn cash on and overpay out of town free agents while low-balling their internal players when it comes to contract time. There are not too many MVP players out there willing to get paid less each year than Julio Lugo and at some point something has to give.

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2009 Predictions

So we are getting to the end of the year here, and I thought I would borrow a page from Neil's playbook and run through some fearless predictions for the 2009 sports year. So without further hesitation:

The Sox will Sign Texiera- I think that the idea to play for a contender so close to home, coupled with a comparable offer will be enough to bring him to Boston.

Varitek will not be wearing Red Sox in the Spring- Someone will give him some money, and I think that there are some hurt feelings out there too.

The Celtics will beat the Bulls record- They are just rolling right now, and everyone is firing on all cylinders. Powe has made most people forget about Posey, and the Big Baby has taken Powes role from last year nicely.

Everyone will know who Gabe Pruitt is by the end of the season- I like the kid, and his outside shot.

The Patriots will not make the playoffs this year- Let's face it, injuries eventaully catch up with you. When people were yelling "We can't afford to lose Louis Sanders!" last week, you knew it was over.

The Bruins will win it all- This one is for the guys at work. But hey, they look good.

Cassell willnext year have a Dolphin on his helmet - Pennington was only ever meant to be a stopgap, and they will have a late draft pick, meaning Tebow and others will most likely not be available. Plus, Cassell would be a fool to go to Detroit or to Kansas City, thats where football players go to die.

Brady will be back, and thus the stock market will correct itself- The recession will be over, and Obama will be President, all will be right in the world.

Bruschi and Harrison will call it a career- Both will go into the Pats hall of fame, and Harrison may get into the Actual hall. Thanks guys, we'll miss you.

Papi will underwhelm next season- I fear the best is behind the big man. Between a wrist injury, chronic knee issues, and the fact that he is at least 4 years older than he tells people he is, makes me think that he will bat about .272 next year with 24 dingers. Not Big Papi numbers more like value size Papi numbers.

Thats all I got for now.

-B Read more!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Appreciating the C's

So the Patriots famously and painfully blew their chance at perfection last year. No need to revisit that. Well this year, a similar thing is going on except with the Celtics. Sure, they are not going to go undefeated nor will they run their season's table. But what they can do is challenge the 1996 Bulls as the best team of the last 20 years or so.

That is no small feet. I for one felt that if any NBA team would challenge that mark it would have been the Shaq/Kobe Lakers of the earlier part of this decade. Yes, that team did roll off possibly the most impressive playoff run I have ever seen - they were an Allen Iverson Game of a Lifetime away from sweeping the postseason in 2001 - but that team "only" won 56 games during the regular season.

When you think about it, this Celtics team is actually somewhat similar to that '96 Bulls team. The biggest difference to me is the fact that the Celtics are defending a title while the Bulls were marching towards one which they felt entitled to.

As for similarities I three main ones:

1) What makes/made each team great was the fact that they took one year to figure out the order of things in a new situation and then in year two absolutely exploded.

For the Celtics, they actually started the gelling process late in the playoffs last year and were able to ride it to a title. Now, in Year two they look to be out for blood and destined to absolutely demolish their competition from November through June. Their three stars but namely KG and Ray Allen know their rolls now more than before and thanks to that the 72 win landmark and back to back titles seem to be the almost inevitable end result.

The Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference Semis the year prior to taking off. The next year, after losing opening night in 1995 to a laughably bad Celtic team in year one of the Rick Pitino Era they plowed their way through the rest of their schedule, ultimately beating a very good Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton lead Sonics team in a six game Finals.

2) Both teams were based around three stars. MJ/Pippen/Kukoc and Pierce/KG/Allen of course. The similarities are deeper than that though. Each team had a clear go-to, crunch time guy (MJ/Pierce), a clear #2 who was a lockdown defender (Pippen/KG), and a great third option who could nail the open shots and attack the rim when need be (Kukoc/Allen). Furthermore, each number three guy could carry the team with his shooting if need be. Yes, the scoring was much less balanced on the Bulls (MJ averaged 30 a game, Pippen 19, and Kukoc, 13) while the Celtics three will all average between 17 and 20 but the general idea was the same.

3) Finally, each team had a massive X Factor which took them from being very good to historically good. For the Celtics, it is Rajon Rondo. I've written so much about Rondo's effect in these spaces that I will not revisit it so I will just say that if you are looking for the main physical difference between last year's Celtics and these ones, it his leap to borderline stardom.

For the Bulls, they had Dennis Rodman. Remember him? Honestly, I blocked the guy out of my mind but the fact of the matter was that he averaged 15 boards a game and could shutdown your opponent's best player at will. He also won 5 rings as a player. The guy was an asshole but the end results of his career were pretty damn impressive.

It's always tricky comparing a current team to a historically great one, especially when you are talking about basketball and it isn't even the new year yet. Still, the more I watch and follow this Celtics team the more impressed I get. Yes a key injury could derail them, but beyond that do you see anything else? I guess if I had one concern it would be how they handle Lebron James without James Posey, their Designated Lebron Stopper last year, but I think they'll be okay. Why? Because honestly, beyond their inconsistent free throw shooting and knack for occasional sloppy play (both legitimate problems by the way) I honestly think that this Celtic team is the best team in any sport we have seen around here probably since the '86 Celtics (whom I was too young to really remember/understand).

Better than last year's Pats? I say yes, even without the Super Bowl loss because everybody knew the dirty little secret of that team was that their defense could be had. That is a glaring weakness. This year's Celtics only have those two, smaller obvious weaknesses mentioned above and unlike last year's Patriots if you absolutely, positively need a stop from them, don't you feel about 100% positive that they will deliver? I know I do.

So what is the point of all this? Simple. I know that it is early in the season and I know that the Patriots are fighting for their playoff lives right now and I know that the Sox are pursuing a big time free agent pickup and I even know that the Bruins are making themselves relevant for the first time since Cam Neely retired, but I want you to please pay some mind and really, really appreciate what the C's are doing. Much like Manny's brilliant career, mentioned last week I think we all need to relish in what the C's are doing because there is a good chance they could be having the season of a generation.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Bobby Abreu and Some Thoughts on Teixeira

I really want to beat the drum for the Bobby Abreu to the Red Sox hype. So far there is zero interest on both the part of the Sox and their fanbase. I am here to change that. Keep in mind that in order for this to work, Bobby Abreu would need to figure out first base. I trust he can do that.

Now the plan:

Use the RF/3B/DH spots in the lineup to shuffle JD Drew, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Bobby Abreu in and out.

How it works:

Simply slide Abreu to first when Mike Lowell can't play and shift Youk to third. If Ortiz or Drew cannot go, shift him to DH or RF respectively. The additional plus is that Drew can play a decent CF and can take over the reigns there when they want to give Ellsbury a day off, and Ellsbury can play left (with Drew in center and Abreu in right) when they want to rest Jason Bay. Wouldn't you rather have Abreu filling the super-sub 1B/OF/DH role than a guy like Brandon Moss?

The other big part of this of course is finding him enough at bats to make him happy. Well given the injury history of Drew, Lowell, and Ortiz I do not think that should be a problem.

First off, figure about 600 at bats a year to be filled by each of the three positions mentioned. All told, that is 1800 at bats a year that need to be occupied. Well last year, Drew, Lowell, and Ortiz combined for just 1202 at bats, leaving about 600 at-bats to give to guys like Coco Crisp, Sean Casey, and Mark Kotsay. Not awful players, but not Bobby Abreu.

Yes, I understand that they may not necessarily need to fill up that many at bats again next year but at the same time are you really so certain? What if Mike Lowell does not come all the way back from hip surgery? What if Ortiz' production continues to drop? Can you really count on JD Drew for 150 games? And furthermore, what if Youkilis sustains the first major injury of his career? I know there are a lot of ifs in there but the AL East is only getting stronger. Better to be prepared with a proven commodity like Abreu than caught with your pants down trying to filter in waiver wire players and guys off the scrap heap. Call me crazy but I think I'd be happier with Abreu at 2 years, $15M than Tex at 8 years and $180M.

Oh, and one more reason to like the idea of Abreu on the Sox.

It keeps him away from the Rays. No joke. The Rays are one of the teams hot on his trail right now - and rightfully so. Could you imagine adding him to their lineup? Pretty big upgrade right? Last year they filled the DH/RF role with castoffs and scrubs like Cliff Floyd, Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, and maybe future Red Sox, Rocco Baldelli. For next year, they have already added Tigers youngster Matt Joyce, he of a 116 OPS+ in 242 at-bats last year who turns 25 in August. Can you imagine if they tacked Abreu on to that as well? All of a sudden that team got MUCH better and did so by trading away their fifth starter, Edwin Jackson and spending a little bit of cash. Yikes. I don't care what additional moves the Yankees make, the Rays if they can add Abreu will be clearly positioning themselves as the favorites in the division next year.

Finally, one last note on Teixeira.

Everything I have said about him maybe makes it sound like I don't think he is a good player. Quite the contrary. I think he is a very good player. What I don't get is how he has all of a sudden become the greatest player in baseball which is how people seem to talk about him.

The last time the Sox doled out a contract on par to what they will probably offer Tex, it was to Manny Ramirez. Not to be flip, but Mark Teixeira of today does not even come close to how good Manny was in the years prior to him signing with the Sox. You can check out the numbers below and try and argue with me, but they really are not close. Yes, Manny was hitting in historically good lineups with the Indians which inflated his RBI numbers but it's not like his entire value was based on RBI either. And while I understand that Teixeira is a far superior defender to Manny, it's not like we are talking about a middle infielder or a centerfielder here. We're talking about a first baseman.

Again, this is not to say that I don't think he will help the team at all. He will be a huge help and assuming they in essence replace Mike Lowell's bat for his I'd say the upgrade should be huge. (Sorry Mikey, I love you but a 35 year old coming off hip surgery is not somebody I hold high hopes for moving forward.)

I also want people to realize that Mark Teixeira at his best - offensively - is Manny Ramirez at his near-best. That's no knock on Tex, but let's just temper our expectations here a little for the guy. He's good, but he is not Manny good.

Mark Teixera Three Year Average (2006-2008):

150 games/.299/31 HR/112 RBI/142 OPS+

Manny Ramirez Three Year Average (1998-2000):

138 games/.326/42 HR/144 RBI/168 OPS+

Manny Ramirez Average Season (2001-2008):

142 games/.316/36 HR/115 RBI/158 OPS+

I think the numbers speak for themselves. It's not a knock on Tex. It's just that Manny was historically good and thinking that Tex could duplicate what Manny did and is his equal is ill-informed. Yes a Tex addition would be great, but don't think we will see Manny Part 2. Instead we'll see Manny-Lite. Not that that is a bad thing, but despite how it all ended we got treated to possibly the greatest 8 season offensive run by a player in a Red Sox uniform we will ever enjoy in our lifetimes. Chances are, nobody will be that good for quite some time.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I am really happy to right this, I have been waiting since the middle of November to write this, C.C. Sabathia is officially a Yankee. This thrills me, in the past when the Yankees have signed the top free agents I have been concerned of course, but this time I am relieved. I didn’t want him for the Red Sox and even though I may eventually eat my words on this one I am thrilled that he is a Yankee for the next 7 years. Here are some reasons why.

1. CC is 28 years old, he will be 35 by the time this deal is done and there is a good chance that by that point he will be roughly the size of the goodyear blimp. He is a big guy, there is no way around it, and he is a very good pitcher but there are plenty of examples of fat pitchers who eventually just lose there stuff. Unless he goes on some kind of crazy workout regiment like Clemens(without the various performance enhancers) he could be good for 2 or 3 seasons and then end up pulling a Carl Pavano while pulling in double the money.
2. Have you seen how many innings he has pitched. Even if his weight wasn’t a problem he throws an enormous amount of innings. In 2007 he threw 241, and in 2008 he threw 253. While this is abnormal for this day in age you could say that it was fine as long as it didn’t start to falter in the playoffs. In 2007 while with the Cleveland Indians he ended the year with a record of 19-7, an era of 3.21 and beat out our very own Josh Beckett for the Cy Young award. As we all know the Indians were in the postseason that year. As his teams ace he managed to go 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA. What good is a pitcher if at the most important time of the year he bombs? I won’t even discuss his postseason numbers from 2008 he lost the one game he pitched and pitched only 3.2 innings and gave up 5 ER.
3. Is he going to be able to handle the bright lights of New York(It is just as bad in Boston)? I dont think he is very well prepared, Milwaukee and Cleveland are not exactly the hotbeds of baseball that Boston and New York are. It’s gotten to a lot of players, Edgar Renteria, Roger Clemens(in NY), Chuck Knoblauch, Arod, and Julio Lugo to name a few. Is C. C. going to be able to keep his head on straight?

That is all I have for now and at some point I may regret every word. He may win 100 games over the next 7 years and win 5 world series titles, but something tells me that this is not going to work out the way he or the Yankees want to. Read more!

Explaining the Hollinger Stuff a Bit

OK, I need to talk Pricing Boy down a bit here. Pretty much what John Hollinger exists to do is be to the NBA what Rob Neyer is to the MLB. In short, he is using a complex mathematical formula to assign point scores and rankings to teams - and players too - to figure out who is the best. He takes into account the following:

strength of schedule
victory margin
home/road victories and defeats

This is by no means a perfect system (full description here), but I do think it serves it's purpose well when relatively predicting future performance. What it says is that a blowout is more impressive than a close victory and a road victory trumps a home victory. Not rocket science but these are things that typical standings don't take into account.

Sure you can argue that close wins build character and toughness - which is probably true to an extent - but you can also say that they are often dictated by one fortuitous bounce or a shot that can either go in or out. For example, if Eddie House does not get that rebound on Sunday and Paul Pierce does not hit the ensuing three, the Celtics lose. In the end, so what they won and good for them but in a 15 point victory, two plays happening in succession like that more than likely will not account for the difference between a W and an L. Therefore, you put a bit more stock in the big one than the close one. Less luck and chance involved in the big victories meaning that is a result more likely to repeat itself.

So what does this have to do with Cleveland v. Boston? Well, the reason why they are ranked ahead of Boston is primarily a result of victory margin. Cleveland has won 18 games and 15 of those victories have been by double-figures. Boston has won 20 games but with just 11 by double-figures. So if you are a computer or a mathematical equation, which team do you put more stock in for keeping up their current pace? Cleveland because 83% of their victories have been "big" victories as opposed to Boston who only has a 55% "big" victory percentage.

I'm not saying the above is a perfect solution by any means but it is meant to reflect both current and future performance and right now, if you take all subjective analysis out of the equation, Cleveland looks statistically to be the superior team to the Celtics. How that manifests itself between now and April and even more importantly through April and June is to be determined but from where we stand now, I can see where Hollinger makes his point. Read more!

John Hollinger FRAUD!!!!

I dont know if any of you ever get bored at work and end up clicking around on just to see what they have outside of there top ten stories and Bill Simmons latest 10,000 word essay on how the Road Rules/Real World challenge is an actual sport. I from time to time end up clicking on random things, I end up reading stories about the Asian Football Confederation, or stumble upon the latest Webisode of Kenny Mayne's new feature Mayne Street. I always seem to end up at the standings for whatever sport is currently in season and this is how I stumble upon John Hollinger's playoff odds.

Now for those of you who don't know who John Hollinger is here is a little background direct from the infalliable wikipedia. John Hollinger is a 37 year old graduate of the University of Virginia(doesn't say what he graduated in and what exactly makes him qualified but I will skip over that for the moment). In 1996 he created and started to spout off his big mouth. After spending time at hotbed of NBA basketball apparently), and he was hired away but ESPN where he now creates his supposed Mathematical rankings and playoff odds. If you would like to read a slightly more unbiased view of his life I direct you here..

So you say to yourself why is Mike writing about him? Doesnt he have something better to be doing? Christmas Shopping? Work? The answer is I have none of those things to do, but I do have time to rant about a man who will never read it. I have no idea what qualifies this man to make these rankings. Below I have posted his current playoffs odds.

Can someone explain to me how he has the Cavs ranked above the Celtics. Last time I checked the Celtics were 20-2 leading there division, have three of the best players in the NBA, have won 12 games in a row, and most importantly BEAT THE CAVS. I dont know what his formula is but what is it that makes the Cavs more of a favorite? a 52.7% chance to win the Championship. Really even with the Celtics and Lakers?

I will stop here in an attempt to keep from swearing.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Side Note

I know that we are a sports blog but I just had to post this ridiculous article. The Nanny Goes to Washington. Seriously, Fran Drescher thinks she is qualified to be a Senator. Read more!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back in Beantown

So I am back from my Honeymoon, it was nice to get out of the cold Northeast for a week, but it was also good to get back. I tend to forget the animosity that exists between Boston Sports Fans and everyone else. It was amazing how many glares I got or snide remarks as I walked around in my various Red Sox shirts and Patriots Sweatshirt. Anyway thought I would wrap up the weekend.

- Varitek declined arbitration. Who cares I am willing to go and help him pack, one of the articles I read actually said that he most likely has a multi year offer, if he does that is great. You have served us well, let us now send Clay Bucholz to Texas and get us a good young catcher.

- The Patriots won, barely. I was shocked to be honest with you, they did not play well at all and as the game dragged on they looked worse and worse. Bruschi, Vrabel, and Wilfork all went down. They maybe able to squeak into the playoffs, but as I stated last week I am still not emotionally invested in the team, although I will continue to watch, especially since I bought a house and don't have money to do anything but watch TV.

- The Celtics are on a role. What is up with the Pacers? They are 7-13, and in last place in there division, yet they play the Celtics hard every time they battle. It is good to see Ray Allen lighting it up like he never did last year. 35 points last night is pretty sweet.

- I need all 20 of our daily readers to get out there and vote for the NBA All Star starters, some how Yi Jillian is projected to be leading the voting in the Forwards category. This of course means that either Lebron James or Kevin Garnett will not start. Make sure you take the time in vote, the craptacular Yi from China shouldn't make the team, he is not even leading his team in ANY CATEGORY.

- You have to figure that Kevin McHales days in Minnesota are numbered, he is not behind the bench and I doubt he is going to be able to turn things around.

- The BC Eagles got smoked on Saturday and will end up in heading to Tennessee for the the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. This adds to the long history of great bowls the Eagles have gone to in recent years, including the Champs Sports Bowl, the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the MPC Computers Bowl, and the Continental Tire Bowl

- Finally if you want to read the obvious head on over to and read Tony Massarotti's Top Five the Sox need to do while at the winter meetings.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Celtics Season to Date

Heading into Sunday's game against the Pacers the Celtics are roughly a quarter of the way through the season. What better time to take stock of where things are right now.

Oh, and unless you were hoping for an 82-0 campaign, there really is not too much to be down on but tons to be pumped about.

We'll start with their record:

19-2 to date and on pace for 75 wins or so.

Wow. That is just awesome. Even more exciting to me is an idea that was brought up by's John Hollinger the other day.

His thought was that because the Celtics and Cavs are so far and away better than the rest of the East they could legitimately push each other to hit 70 wins. While normally gunning for 70 would be a more or less pointless pursuit assuming the team gunning for it would have the 1 seed locked up, this year it could be different with both team's figuring to be in the neighborhood and both wanting the 1 seed. Imagine if this year ended with two teams in the same conference finishing with 70 wins? How awesome would that be?!

Answer to the rhetorical question above: only awesome as long as the Celtics finish with the 1.

Best Player to Date

Would it be crazy for me to say that to this point this year, their best player has been Rajon Rondo? Well, he leads the team in assists, field goal percentage, and steals. Secondly, since his play has really taken off over the past three weeks the team has taken off also. And what has been the difference? As you've probably heard ten million times he has finally started to use his speed as his number one attribute and the results are just stunning. Sure Steve Blake isn't exactly the fastest point guard in the league, but Rajon destroyed him on Friday night. Sodomized him even.

Simply put, when Rajon is destroying people with his quickness he opens the entire floor up for the rest of the team and gets KG but I'd say even more importantly Ray Allen WIDE open looks which they will convert more often than not. Amazingly, it seems like he can get his teammates fast break looks out of half court sets and when your point guard possesses a skill like that then you are in really damn good shape.

OK, but what about KG, Allen, and Paul Pierce?

OK, fair question.

Pierce is still the guy you lean on in close games. Just because Rondo may be the team's MVP to date it does not mean that Pierce has done nothing. Seems to me that in pretty much every single game they have needed a big fourth quarter or late game jolt to get over the top that Pierce has been that guy. If you are asking me if I think Paul Pierce is the best player in the NBA my answer would be no, but if you are asking me if he is in the conversation my answer would be yes, and if you are asking me if I like having him on my team's side for late game and big game situations my answer is an unequivocal F*** YEAH.

Then there is KG who seems to have figured out that he best serves the team offensively, hanging back and draining wide open J's when Rondo gets them for him and then picking and choosing a few strategic times per game for him to attack the rim and come up with that huge dunk or two. Would I like KG to be a bit more of a post presence? Of course I would. But at this point I am done bemoaning the fact that he does not play down on the blocks. What I give him credit for this year though is that even if he leads the team in field goal attempts per game by about one each over Pierce and Allen, it seems like his touches are not forced and they are coming within the flow of the offense. What this tells me is that he is completely fine with averaging the 16 and change per game he is averaging this year and does not care about being a 20 and 10 guy which is of course the magic number for big guys in the league. Of course this is not a surprise seeing as KG really is the ultimate "I WANT TO WIN!!!" guy, but I still thinks it bears mentioning.

(With all of that being said, KG is 7th on the team in free throw attempts per game. Of the ten guys that average over 10 minutes per game, only Eddie House and Scales average fewer free throw attempts. I know I said I don't want to bemoan the point, but you really would wish that a 6'11" power forward that shoots 80% from the line would actually get there a bit more.)

Finally, we get to Ray Allen who I think has been outstanding this year. Every time he plays I still marvel at how great he is at attacking the basket and finishing around the rim. Honestly, I always took him as kind of a soft Reggie Miller type jump shooter but the guy gets to the rim and he can finish like nobodies business. I can't say enough about that skill and I honestly believe he is the team's most consistent finisher when you factor in the tendencies of Pierce, sometimes KG, and especially Rondo of missing layups.

What I wanted to say about Ray for this year though is that it seems like he has benefited the most from Rondo's improvements. I mean, how many WIDE-open looks does this guy get? It's jarring actually and when you combine that with his aforementioned sneaky good finishing and attacking skills you put it all together and are able to get the best of Ray Allen. And did you realize that at this one-quarter point he leads the team in scoring by a smidge over Paul Pierce at 18.4 per to 18.3?

Biggest Strength

I think I outlined pretty much all of their strengths above. They seem more cohesive this year and with the vastly improved play of Rondo and how much he helps the whole team especially Allen and KG it seems like once again the sky is the limit.

Oh, and the defense is still great.

Biggest Weakness

One million times I have said it, but their free throw shooting is their biggest weakness. At 76.4% they are right at the middle of the pack as far as percentage goes (16th in the NBA). I know this is not terrible, but shaky free throw shooting can and will cost you big games and other than Ray Allen there really is not a person on the team that I trust to hit two out of two with the game on the line. The same was true last year and they survived. So there certainly is a precedent, but it does make tight games even more interesting.

Most Maddening Habit

This one has not changed either. The Celtics seem to play their best when they are down by six or so and then extending the lead to ten or twelve. However, once a lead gets into the high teens they start trying to showboat and get away from their offense which allows their opponent to get back into the game. You know something is wrong when I root for the Celtics lead to stay in the 8-14 range so as to avoid the sloppiness that comes when it stretches into the 20s.

A good problem to have I guess, but I cannot underscore how maddening it is when in a game like Friday against Portland the starters are forced back into a fourth quarter in which they have no business appearing in.

Most Maddening Habit (runner up)

Rajon, I love the fake behind the back pass and then lay it up move. One problem. I have NEVER seen you actually convert the layup. This drives me absolutely insane. The move is awesome and you know it would be all over Top Plays the following day. You always deke your opponent out of his shorts and get a wide-open layup for yourself. Now finish the damn shot!!!!

A Few Random Thoughts That Have Nothing to do with the Celtics

1) That cell phone commercial with the faces on the fingers of the person while they text message creeps me out to no end. Seriously. I hate it. It is weird and mildly horrifying. I know I am not alone.

2) I saw an ad the other night during the Celtics game which also weirded me out in a different way. I think it was a local ad so you have probably never seen it but the gist was a woman found a contractor online to do some work on her basement. The contractor went way over his time estimate and it annoyed the woman. So one day she went downstairs to check on him and found him lounging on the couch in the basement watching movies. Innocent enough. BUT, earlier in the ad you see him ordering a movie through On Demand. What else you see is him highlighting and selecting the "Adult" option of the On Demand movies. WTF? You know what this implies right? It implies that not only is this dude slacking off at this ladies house when he should be working, he is making himself so comfortable down in the basement that he is ordering porn and jerking off. Filthy. We all know what the end result of an ordered porno movie is and it is not a polished off bag of Sour Patch Kids.

That's enough for today.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcome Back Junior Seau

On a scale of 1-10 I think you could put my excitement level for this at about a -8. Nothing against Junior Seau, but you know your defense sucks when your idea of a fix is bringing in a guy that got cut by the Texans in training camp and pulling a 50 year old linebacker with a gheri curl out of retirement.

Seriously, between Teddy Bruschi, Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison, John Lynch, and Jason Varitek I really cannot be antagonized anymore by bringing players in/back just because they are "cagey veterans" and have know-how. I always thought the cold-hearted Patriots were above this, but as the past 3 years have attested they clearly are not.

Because with the Pats we really need to be in a "next year" mode, the only way things can actually improve is to replace almost everybody on the defense except for Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, Mayo, and that undrafted rookie from Georgia Tech, Gary (any relation to Myron?) Guyton. That's the only way folks. I know that Seau and Colvin too are meant to be bandages, but at some point the entire D needs to get overhauled. Even though I have said it one thousand times, the defense is why the Patriots won their first three Super Bowls and have not won the last two.

What's the old saying, "offense wins divisions, defense wins championships?" Well it's something like that anyway and so very true. Read more!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

5 Thoughts for a Thursday

1) Sad news about Rodney Rodgers. The Celtics don't make the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002 without him. I also feel that by not re-signing him in the offseason of 2002 the Celtics obliterated the good-feelings they gradually built up that entire year. Maybe it would have been a little stretch financially, but sheesh. To let Rodney go and then bring on the Not-So-Functional Alcholic himself, Vin Baker was just a catastrophic chain of events for the franchise at the time. Sure all of those points are moot now, but let's not forget what Rodney was for the stretch-run of 2002.

2) Welcome back Rosie Colvin. To be totally honest I did not realize that he got cut by the Texans prior to the season. I am sure he can help the team in some capacity although I do get a nagging "too little, too late" feeling. The real question with Rosie though is always "what could have been" if he had never had that Bo Jackson injury in his second game with the team back in 2003.

3) Depressing blog post so far. Let's brighten it up some.

4) I say there are "triple doubles" and there are "TRIPLE DOUBLES!!!". Well my boy Rajon Rondo had a TRIPLE DOUBLE!!! last night. 16/13/17!! Are you kidding me?! Remember last year when I had a creepy man-crush on Rajon and I joked that he had to take out a restraining order? Well this year it could get "stalking him on Facebook and asking him to meet me a Salem Willows" style weird with him on my fantasy team too.

5) You know who I would love to see the Sox make a run at? Bobby Abreu. Don't laugh. You realize that last year he hit .296/20/100 with a .371 OBP and 22 steals right? Wouldn't he look mighty nice in that lineup somewhere? Admittedly they do not have a natural position for him, but with the inevitable JD Drew injury, the now inevitable Big Papi injury, the seemingly inevitable Mike Lowell injury, and still some questions about Ellsbury as an everyday player I am positive that if he could figure out first base they could find 500 ABs for him between RF, 1B, and DH. Maybe I'm crazy but I think he would be great for the team. Read more!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whole Lotta Rosie

So, in what should be a move that surprises no one the Patriots resigned Roosevelt Colvin today. Indeed, the only thing that should be surprising about this is that it didn't happen the Wednesday after Thomas broke his arm. Here is a guy that knows the system, and everything else, and is just sitting on the couch. Even if he has lost a step, he still would be a better option than Pierre Woods was, or at least provide depth. I would expect him to see some significant time this weekend against the Seahawks, and it should increase as the weeks pass, since as I hear it, we wont be seeing much if any of Thomas for the rest of the season, unless the Pats make it deep into the playoffs. But to do that, we need to make it to the playoffs first, and we will need a whole lotta Rosie to do that.

-B Read more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two Things


Read the tea leaves folks. The Sox offered Jason Varitek arbitration which basically says take our one year deal or we'll see you later. Varitek - and Scott Boras too - will not take arbitration because they want a longer term contract than just one year. Yes, the Sox and Varitek can still negotiate a contract down the road but the guess here is that Varitek is as good as gone. Who knows what Tek will think of the arbitration offer but my gut tells me he takes it as a slap in the face. "After all I've done for you, you won't even personally negotiate with me?! You'll let a judge decide?! Screw you, I'll find my multi-year deal elsewhere!"

Personally, two things strike me about this.

One, it is a classic Sox PR move of them being able to say, "see we tried to reason with The Captain but he wanted more than we were offering so we had to part ways." And two it now allows the Sox to get a first round compensation pick for him if he is to sign with another team. Truth be told, I think this is the real reason they are doing this. They probably figure that they will sign another Type A Free Agent at some point this winter and by letting one walk they will then not lose a draft pick in the deal. Consider this move to Varitek a move to cancel out a future loss.

And hey, if they get Varitek on a one year deal that is not too bad either. As long as they keep him in the neighborhood of 300 ABs.

So that is that. It looks like the Varitek Era could very well be over. Sad because now the only leftover vestiges from 2004 - that played any type of major role at least - will be Papi and Wake. Still, the time is now to cut the chord with Captain 'Tek. The A-Rod mauling is one my and millions of other Sox fans all time favorite moments. And the supposed, "we don't throw at .260 hitters"....beyond classic.

A great run indeed.

College Football

I really got a kick out of Pricing Boy's little blurb. Mainly because he is commenting on being temporarily thrown into college football country while I live right in it. Seeing as it seems like approximately 95% of Northern Virginia went to VA Tech and 95% of DC and Maryland went to Maryland you get a lot of intensity from those factions. Factor in the smattering of southern transplants with deep-seeded school loyalties from growing up plus all of the people around here who attended ACC and SEC schools and I think you can get the picture.

Oh, and did I mention that my wife and her father are season tickets holders at the University of Tennessee?

So, since being inundated with all of this has there been one set of fans that have stuck out from the rest and made me say to myself, "you know what, from here on out I am adding Team X to my Notre Dame and Duke Short List" AKA teams that I will ALWAYS route against no matter what. Yes, actually! Virginia Tech, come on down.

My reason for disliking them is quite simple. The team is consistently above average but for whatever reason their fans have decided that they should be considered and treated as National Championship contenders every single year. Not only that, but if they win then it was a foregone conclusion anyway and if they lose then woe is the world. Whatever though. If their goal is to finish every season ranked 15th in the final polls then they are winners in that regard.

So yeah, I'll have extra-ammo in routing for BC this weekend. Not like I am a die-hard fan of them or anything but they are the one college football team I have consistently rooted for for as long as I can remember. Glen Foley Era baby.

You may think from all this that I dislike college football. Far from it. I have actually taken more of a shining to it in the past few years. Because of that and understanding full well that most of the readers around these parts have probably paid the college football season passive interest at best to date, I'll give a real quick primer to prepare you for the major bowls.


Don't get fooled by the big name schools in the conference. Currently there are three teams ranked in the Top 25 from the conference (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia). Of those three teams, Alabama has beaten a whopping one team in the current Top 25 (Georgia) and Florida has beaten two (Georgia and Florida State). Again, those wins look good on paper but Georgia is currently ranked 16th and Florida State is ranked 24th. Remember this when one of these two teams is going up against Texas or Oklahoma in the National Championship Game.

As for who wins the big AL-FL showdown on Saturday I am really not sure. My money would be on Florida but with their best playmaker, Percy Harvin questionable I could see anything happening. My gut though says Florida in a romp.

Big 12

This is the money conference this year. To me, Texas and Oklahoma are the two best teams in college football and whichever one of these teams is in the title game should be and will be favored. Again, Florida and Alabama have beaten a combined 3 teams in the current Top 25 while Texas and Oklahoma have 8 wins against current Top 25 competition between the two of them. The Big 12 is the bet this year folks.

And that is enough college football talk for today. I'm only margainally qualified to talk on it and I think I got my point across. Don't fall for the big names in the SEC. Go with the Big 12. Unless the SEC is playing the ACC or Big East. Because those conferences are pretty mediocre too.

....and I'm out!
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College Football Country

I am still in Florida. It is weird to be in a place that cares so much about college football. I went to a Division 2 school in Massachusetts that has only had a football team for ten years and it's best sports team wears funny pants and rides horses. Anyway down here it seems to be an obsession everywhere I look I see people dressed in Gator colors,or with a FSU license plate. Granted I am 2000 miles away I didn't even realize that BC was in the ACC championship again. So I encourage all of you to tune in on Saturday and watch the Eagles battle the Hokies of Virginia Tech maybe these Southern Rednecks are on I something, probably not though. Read more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Some Fun With Ben Watson Jokes

First, something I need to get off my chest:

When I was sitting down to do my post last night there were two things I really wanted to put out there about the Pats game.

1) That all the nitwits who were saying "trade Brady, let's ride Cassell!" finally have been silenced moving forward. (of course everybody and their mom wrote that too, namely Ben and's Eric Wilbur...Ben in a much better way in my opinion thanks to his throwing a cockpunch into the mix)

2) That yesterday's Pats game was a stone-cold reminder of the 2005 Divisional Playoff game in Denver where they blew chance after chance to take control of the game in the first half and then self-destructed in the second. This one was a little less obvious, but's Chad Finn beat to the punch there. Oh well. I thought that too, and I could have been first out of the gate with it. I promise that is the truth.

And now for the main reason of my little post tonight.

I want to bring everybody up to speed on my favorite running joke that I like to submit towards my least favorite Patriots player, Ben Watson.

This joke had it's genesis two years ago when the Patriots played another slop-filled game over Thanksgiving weekend at home. That time it was against the Bears as you may recall. What else you may recall from this game would be Ben Watson having approximately 15 drops and 8 fumbles, a modern day record for a 4 quarter game. OK, those numbers are blatantly false and while I would normally look up his real stats from the game, I am going to pass this time because I refuse to give Mr. Watson the benefit of the doubt.

We've all seen A Few Good Men. One of the crucial early - pre Nicholson - courtroom scenes in that movie has Noah Wyle's character Cpl. Jeffrey Barnes testifying that a Code Red was ordered against him after his service rifle slipped out of his hands during formation. He said they pounded him good and blah, blah, blah but he never dropped his service rifle again.

Does this sound familiar? Of course it does! Don't you think Ben Watson needs a Code Red? Of course he does! Nobody needs one more than him. During that aforementioned Bears game, I texted my roommate Matt after I believe his 4th unforced fumble and wrote, "somebody needs to give Ben Watson a Code Red". After that a legend was born. The joke still holds up because Ben Watson sucks so much and it still provides humor because it is so damn true.

So what is the next step of this movement? I say it is making custom Patriot t-shirt jerseys with Watson's number 84 on the back and putting for the name "PFC Santiago" in honor of the famous murdered via Code Red marine in the movie, PFC William Santiago. Can we get some traction here? Doesn't Watson deserve this? I say we get this going because even if the jersey does not catch on, the Code Red joke should spread. It's just too much fun. Plus you can even send texts when other people catch Ben Watson Disease like Randy Moss yesterday along the lines of, "Get Hal Dawson in here, Randy needs the Watson treatment!". I'm babbling now.

One more Ben Watson thought....

This sounded a lot better before the Celtics season started because Tony Allen has been SO much improved this year, but I still think you will get the idea.

Ben Watson is the Tony Allen of football players. Why? Because he looks like a football player, he is as athletic as any player in the NFL, and all of his combine skills like running, jumping, and lifting are off the charts. So where is the disconnect? The disconnect is the fact that he does not have any discernible FOOTBALL skills. You know, just like before this year Tony Allen's only real skills on the basketball court involved dunking and turning the ball over. Allen has seemingly come around now though but Watson I have no hope for. The only thing Watson is really playing for at this point is to try and shed the dubious moniker of "Neil Williams' all time least favorite Patriot". That is big time.

And now for fun, a few of my other "Least Favorite" athletes from Boston teams. The qualifications are simple; they have to be or have been guys that are/were supposed to be good but sucked or infuriated for whatever reason.

A sampling...

Sam Cassell - check the archives and read ANYTHING I wrote during the playoffs last year...he took 10 years off my life easily

Tony Allen - he has turned the corner as I said, but before this year...yikes

Cliff Floyd - sure he was only on the Sox for two months but he F&&&ing SUCKED! The master of the bases empty single and the reason why I fear a potential Mark Teixera Era.

Ben Watson - see above

Marion Butts - master of the two yard run!

Scott "Missin'" Sisson - remember him?

Ugie Urbina - what an erratic closer, even before he killed his entire gardening staff

OK enough!

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