Archive for September, 2009

Anticlimactic
September 30, 2009

There’s no other way to describe tonight’s bizarre scene at Fenway Park. It didn’t help that despite a valiant comeback, the Red Sox lost AGAIN to Toronto (and the streak is now at 5). The Blue Jays were just teeing off on Clay Buchholz, and David Ortiz shouldn’t be too happy at dogging it down the line, allowing Kevin Millar of all people to turn an allegedly acrobatic double play. But that’s besides the point – the Sox LOST.

This was like a bizarro 2007, where the Red Sox won their game and then waited out the Yankees loss to Baltimore before celebrating their AL East title. Only this time, the Red Sox lost, and then had to wait around for Texas to lose to the AAA team the Angels fielded in Anaheim. Many of the players stuck around, although many of them, Pedroia and Bay included, told us they left and spent some time with family before coming back for the final innings of the game that wrapped up around 12:45 AM eastern. David Ortiz joked that he was going to a bar and expected some free drinks while he watched the game.

We went upstairs to the press box and watched ourselves, and sure enough Texas lost. But unlike 2007, there would be no delayed champagne celebration, no communing with fans (who had long since gone home). The clubhouse was closed, and despite hearing the thumping hip hop beats in the background, and the occasional champagne-soaked clubhouse attendant sneak out, we didn’t really get a glimpse of what was going on.

Instead, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, and Mr. Old Hat Tim Wakefield (who may be making his final major league start Wednesday night) came out to briefly chat with us in a very-low key manner, save for some Papelbon party jokes (which were later proved to be unfounded – we watched him pull out of the Fenway garage and drive off around 1:30 AM, kind of early for someone Mike Lowell described as “probably in a thong right now with goggles and drinking Budweiser.” Maybe he knows the best closer is a well-rested one).

It’s not so much that only a few players came out. There are few things more fun than running into a champagne soaked locker room and interviewing jubliant players as they rain booze down upon you. It’s the pinnacle of sporting events, even if you’re a team with 2 recent World Series titles essentially celebrating finishing in fourth place.

In years past, the Sox have defended (and it’s a good point) their Wild Card clinching celebrations by saying it’s more a celebration of surviving a brutally long season and making it to the postseason, an accomplishment in and of itself. Maybe tonight’s closed door affair is an acknowledgement from the team that this is old hat – they’ve been here before, and they are supposed to be here now, so really, this isn’t cause for a massive celebration, rather, a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.

And so we went home dry tonight. Not such a bad thing, but it could have been better.

–SI

Who Are Those Guys?
September 30, 2009

You may have noticed the hilarious “fan umpires” sitting two rows behind home plate during Tuesday’s Red Sox game. They are actually cult heroes on the big league circuit these days. Toronto Stock Exchange traders Joe Farrell and Tim Williams are Blue Jays season ticket holders who got ahold of some legit umpiring gear and travel the baseball world calling balls and strikes along with the real umpire.

These guys are 100% the real deal. They have actual equipment, including spare balls, a brush for home plate, and a clicker to keep track of the count. There is a great write-up (with video) on their exploits here. They’ve even been featured on ESPN.

In a game where the Blue Jays were pounding the Sox for 7 of the 9 innings, these guys provided some much needed comic relief. I snapped this picture of them after the game, but only after waiting about 20 minutes for seemingly every fan in the ballpark to take a picture with them!

–SI

crazy umpire guys

Beckett, Garnett and more
September 28, 2009

Kevin Garnett healthier than Josh Beckett? That appears to be the case as Beckett has been scratched from Monday night’s start due to a slightly sore back he got from last night’s flight back from New York(isn’t that just a 45 minute flight in a nice cushy charter?). Funny, the rest of the team was slightly ill as well, suffering from an upset stomach after being swept by the Yankees).

Beckett will skip tonight’s start and probably start Wednesday or maybe thursday. He said that he could pitch tonight and would if it was the playoffs, but with the playoffs scheduled to start next thursday (possibly Wednesday) now is the time to make sure that he is ready to go next week.

Now what about Garnett? Garnett, whose season ended prematurely last year and then had knee surgery, said today at Celtics media day that he has been cleared to play and in fact has already played 5 on 5. Paul Pierce said Garnett just showed up last week and announced that he was going to play after the teams had already been picked (I wonder who he bumped to the bench). Pierce said Garnett looked pretty good and even played a little point guard bringing the ball up the court a couple of times.

It is an exciting time for the Celtics. And what about the Bruins- They start their Regular season this Thursday at the Garden against the Washington Capitals. Bruins Coach Claude Julien mentioned Marco Sturm, who missed most all of last season after having surgery on his knee, as the player who should take up most of the slack of Phil Kessel’s 36 goals traded to Toronto.

And oh yah, the Patriots, It’s a great time of year around here.

-MD

Have you had enough of Byrd?
September 23, 2009

I hope you aren’t getting too tired of Paul Byrd because you are going to see him every 5 days (2 more times) the next week and half. Why? Simply to make sure the real Red Sox starters get the rest they need in preparations for the playoffs.

Don’t count on seeing Tim Wakefield again this year. As a true team player he went out there Monday night when he should have been home in bed. He is done for the rest of the year. The only question is if the Red Sox bullpen can give the Red Sox some much needed innings as the starters try to get their rest going 5 or 6 innings in most of the rest of their starts.

Take a look at the innings pitched by some of the top 3 starters-Beckett, Lester, and Buccholz (I know most of us were minor league innings)  and they are high compared to other seasons. The Red Sox know this and will do their best to gear their innings down the next week and a half since, at this point- 7 games back, they can back their way into the wild card spot while winning the AL East would require a total collapse by the Yankees which is not going to happen.

So do not look for anything too spectacular the last 12 games of the season. And please, Please, Red Sox don’t again have one of your over the top celebrations for clinching the wild card playoff spot. Wait until you really win something.

-MD

College Football Schedule For 9/26
September 22, 2009

Noon: Fresno at Cincinnati

3:30: Miami at Virginia Tech

8:00: Iowa at Penn State

How much should Pats fans Panic
September 21, 2009

Repeat after me- It’s only 1 regular season game. One game by itself in the regular season means little unless, of course, you see a trend. And the 2 game trend, besides the final 5 minutes of the Buffalo game is that the Patriots offense is not clicking. And Pats fans were worried about the defense.

The defense has been better than alot of experts predicted. I am not ready to say that the Pats defense is good, but it has kept the team in the 1st 2 games. The teams offense was supposed to carry the team. It has not even carried it’s own weight.

Everyone knew that the Jets were going to blitz and blitz often. Everyone that is, except the Patriots by the looks of how things went. Seriously, let’s give the Patriots credit for the fact that they must have prepared for the blitz, but take that credit away for not preparng for it in a way that they could contain it. That is disturbing especially considering that Bill Belichick is supposedly the defensive genius. Does that mean that coaching is a bit overrated (or did he get outcoached) and that this game still just comes down to talent and so the Patriots overall talent is relatively even with both the Bills and the Jets?

Not having Wes Welker for the Jets game obviously hurt the Patriots but I don’t think that his appearance alone would have made the difference in todays outcome. Having watched 2 weeks of games in the NFL you can begin to see who looks to be the cream of the crop and most those teams (such as Pittsburgh and the Giants) have excellent defenses.

So what’s next for the Patriots?- 2 very good (and undefeated) teams in the Falcons and the Ravens (fortunately both games are in Foxboro). One led by a pretty strong offense and the other by a strong defense-both with young solid quarterbacks. These are going to be 2 major tests for the Patriots who had better improve in a hurry. A 1-3 start may have some people heading to the Tobin Bridge.

-MD

Welker out, Patriots-Jets Prediction
September 20, 2009

Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker reportedly will not play in todays game with the Jets which should be a relatively major factor with the jets blitzing defense bound to force Tom Brady into quick decisions. So who will pick up the slack?

-I do not see Randy Moss having a big day because Brady will look to complete quick passes. Could #11 rookie Julian Edeleman, the Wes Welker clone, step up? I think he needs to be a factory for the Pats to be succesful. And look for the Pats running backs, namely Kevin Falk to step up as well.

OK, now to the predictions. I saw this game going 1 of 3 directions. 1)A convincing Patriot win, 2) Patriots/Brady pull out a close one, 3) the Jets win a close one.  Well, with Welker out, so goes option #1 which leaves us with Options 2 or 3……

The percentages lie with the Jets finally winning a game down here, after 8 straight losses to the Patriots here at Giants stadium, the final Pats-Jets game here at Giants stadium. The aggressive Jets defense has got to cause problems for Tom Brady so my head says the Jets will finally turn the tables.

….but my heart keeps on saying Tom Brady, if he is really all the way back to the old pre-injury Tom Brady. My head says he is not, not yet anyway. And remember this- individual regular season games mean little in the long run (2007!). Losses can make a team work harder and more focused, something this team may need with the loss of so many of its leaders.

-MD

Don’t try to fool Brady
September 16, 2009

A few of the assembled media horde at todays Patriots media availability tried to goad Tom Brady into responding to a few controversial remarks by members of the Jets.  Please. Those media members must be rookies.

Today Brady responded to the media questions in a manner that would make his coach proud (and maybe even smile). He said nothing at all controversial or adversarial.

Brady said it was good to have the 1st game behind him and get “into the real regular season”. He also said that he expects a tough game from an aggressive Jets defense. Brady said that the Jets are confident and that they should be after Sunday’s convincing opening win against Houston.

What about the comment new Jets coach Rex Ryan made about not being here to kiss Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl Rings? Brady wouldn’t touch that one with a 10 foot pole as he gave an answer that had virtually nothing to do with the question (Bill must have been so proud).

How about the comment the Jets made that this game will be like a Super Bowl (1st of all how would the Jets know what a Super Bowl feels like?? then again this may be as close as they get to a Super Bowl playing a Super Bowl contender). Brady said quickly- “this is NOT a Super Bowl. They take place in February”  He knows.

Brady said he would “not guarantee anything, until next week”…then he took back that comment to say he wouldn’t be guaranteeing anything anytime.

More coming up this evening on SportsCenter5 at 6.

-MD

Brady’s magic is back
September 15, 2009

The old red Uniforms looked great. Even Tom Brady’s old school (Johnny Unitas) high black cleats fit the part. But it was the finish of last night’s game that everyone will remember most. Tom Brady is back.

Randy Moss said after the game that Brady came into the huddle with 5 :25 to go, down by 11 points, and told his teammates that “It’s time to get going. We’re going to win this game”. How can you not believe him after what he has done over his career except for the fact that to that point in the game Brady had been kind of normal.

For the final 5:25 Brady was anything but normal, or should I say “Normal Brady”, completing 12 of 14 passes for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sounds Normal Brady to me because that is what we have come to expect from the 32-year-old. For someone who has led this franchise to 3 Super Bowls, what is a little comeback regular season win, tho it did look pretty improbably with 5:25 to go.

Brady looked a little rusty to start his 1st regular season game in a year. Maybe it was the black hi-tops that were making him look out of sync. Maybe he was worrying about Gisele’s morning sickness. Randy Moss called it 1st game jitters, tho this is Moss’s 12th year in the league and you would think that he would be over that. Maybe it was the Red Uniforms.

For the last 5:25 of that game it looked as tho Brady’s pulse never wavered, his heartbeat never increased. Like performing a mundane task like making copies. He methodically put his original onto the glass screen, closed the cover and hit the copy button, tho he needed about 100 copies in about 10 seconds. No problem. they came flying out, and were correlated perfectly-4 passes to Welker, 2 passes to Moss, 2 to Falk and 3 to Ben Watson, 2 of those for touchdowns.

Brady is back. He said it felt good to get the 1st one over. Next up is the Jets. What is next for Tom Brady? Whatever it is-it is bound to be good.

-MD

Not a great start for Pats
September 14, 2009

I know I’m a little late in my prediction but I have been thinking about it for awhile and I had decided on 34-13 before this slow start. (if I was a cheater and I changed my prediction after this slow start I would have said something like 21-20).

Pats offense(namely Brady ) has looked rusty. Gostkowski misses a 31 yard field goal(bring back tony Franklin) whats with that??

and the Patriots defense? They look inexperienced.

I’ll give you my observations at halftime

MD