Tag Archives: john lackey

Congratulations to the Cubs

In reviewing what the Chicago Cubs have done this off-season, there has to be a lot of hope for fans of those ‘lovable’ Losers. They added John Lackey on a low-risk, short-term deal12 years/$32 million.. Ben Zobrist came aboard with a club-friendly 4 year, $56 million contract, and everyone’s2Except mine, apparently favorite defensive outfielder, Jason Heyward3I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.. These additions, along with what they already had leftover from their NLCS run in 2015 puts them in prime position to end 108 years of suffering. Continue reading Congratulations to the Cubs

References
1 2 years/$32 million.
2 Except mine, apparently
3 I’m just assuming it’s his defense that garnered the $23 million he’ll earn on average for the next 8 seasons, unless he’s foolish enough to opt out of his deal. It certainly wasn’t his big bat, as he has garnered a total of 38 HRs in 1502 ABs over the last 3 seasons. He also has only put up 156 RBIs over that time frame, and his OPS for that stretch hovers around the .770 mark.

Looking At the Red Sox 2014 Deadlines Deals With 20/20 Lens

I write this particular article, because it is highly unlikely that the Red Sox will make any significant moves as the MLB trade deadline comes to pass this afternoon.  This is the problem with handing out bloated contracts to players that do not have the talent to back them up.  The best move they have to make at the moment is to place Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, and Rick Porcello on irrevocable waivers, and hope that some GM foolishly grabs one of them.

On to today’s thought – It was just about one year ago that I was ecstatic over what Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was able to do with his 2014 deadline deals.  At the time, I thought that Cherington did the absolute best that he could, and gave his efforts with an A- rating.  With 364 days to dwell on the deals, and with the Red Sox floundering through the 2015 season that seems destined for another last place finish (their 3rd in the last 4 seasons.), it is only prudent to engage in a bit of a re-think.  If I had known then what I know now, I may not have regarded Cherington so highly in 2014.

Continue reading Looking At the Red Sox 2014 Deadlines Deals With 20/20 Lens

Ickey Woods Has Lost a Step

…and other thoughts I’ve had while trying to avoid jinxing the K.C. Royals

I don’t know what to do with the recent Ickey Woods GEICO commercial.  On the one hand, it’s absolutely brilliant.  It won’t make me forget “Jake from State Farm”, but it’s a close #2 for ads that I don’t consider changing the channel on.   On the other hand, it completely destroys one of my favorite sports moments from my youth.

For those who have forgotten, Woods burst on to the NFL scene in 1988, scoring 15 TDs while garnering 1,066 yards on only 203 attempts, while leading the Cincinnati Bengals on an improbably run to Super Bowl XXIII.  Along the way, the “Ickey Shuffle” was born, and was superior to the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle” if for no other reason than I didn’t have to hear members of the Bears’ ‘rap’.

In 1988, there was no Directv NFL Sunday Ticket to liven up our Sunday afternoons, so I didn’t get to see the Ickey Shuffle all that often, except in highlights from live game breaks, or shows on other 4 letter networks.  It made it seem all the more special whenever there was a break to Woods scoring and then shuffling than what it might otherwise have been.  Watching an obviously not nearly as in shape Woods[1. I’m being kind.] shuffle while hawking auto insurance takes away from that memory just a bit.

Looking back at the moves the Boston Red Sox made at the trade deadline

When I looked at Ben Cherington’s moves at the MLB deadline, I gave his overall effort an A-.  There were a couple of moves he made, however, that gave me pause.  The first was the deal that sent Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez.

While Rodriguez put up better than average numbers for the Portland Sea Dogs (AA), Miller continued to build on his breakout season.  In 23 regular season appearances for the Birds, Miller posted a 2-0 record with one save, a 1.35 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP in 20 innings.  His work in the post-season has been limited thus far due to the fact that the Orioles swept the Tigers, but his presence could play a key role in whether or not the Orioles are able to advance past the Royals.

The other deal that concerned me more than I liked to admit was the John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly trade.  In the moment, my concern was that Lackey might pitch the Cardinals to a World Series, and then have another excellent season in 2015 while pitching for the MLB minimum.  I comforted myself in the moment with thoughts of Kelly stepping up as the Sox began to rebuild their rotation, and Craig returning to form.

Kelly’s performance was about in line with what I might have hoped for, considering the climate he was coming in to, and the adjustments he’d have to make.  Craig, was an unmitigated disaster, however.  When the Sox traded Lackey away, one of the things I didn’t concern myself with was that he might actually be a better hitter than the position player he was dealt for, yet the numbers say he is.  In his time with the Red Sox, Craig batted .128 and slugged .191.  Meanwhile, Lackey went .133/.133.  It’s a limited sample, but if this trend continues, Cherington might have to ask for a refund.

In case you missed it, Eli is still Elite

As a N.Y. Giants’ fan, I’m almost afraid to talk about the run that Eli Manning has been on over his past 3 games.  During that stretch, he has rung up a completion percentage of just over 70%, tossed 8 TDs against only 1 pick, posted at least a 104.9 QB rating, and oh-by-the-way, has led the Giants back from the brink with 3 straight victories.

While their 3-2 record is only good enough for 3rd place in the suddenly revitalized NFC East, it does put them in the mix for a wild card spot.  In case anybody forgot how that worked out for the Giants in 2011, make sure you read Josh Flagner‘s Super Bowl XLVI Running Diary.

Thursday’s Trade Deadline: Baseball Nerds' Christmas in July

Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is a prime example of why the sport is so unique. Trades simply don’t happen as frequently or with nearly as much magnitude in other sports as in baseball.

Four O’clock PM Eastern Standard Time on July 31st is the annual deadline to finalize any non-waiver trades. (To be clear, players can still be swapped if they are passed on by all MLB teams, hence clearing ‘waivers’.) Ultimately the decisions to pull the trigger on deals are telling enough that by the next day fans have a good understanding whether their squad is chasing this year’s pennant or gearing up to make a run next season.

The final hours leading up to the deadline were the most active of any in recent memory with twelve deals being made on Thursday. Each general manager has a plan, some more thorough than others. Those intentions I cannot quite speak to because of extremely limited access. I can, however, speculate as to why certain moves were made while defending those I like and ripping the boneheaded ones.

Let’s start with the Twins stealing away a potential top of the rotation guy in Tommy Milone from the Athletics, giving up only Sam Fuld. Milone is a huge addition for Minnesota. Fuld can play a part in the Oakland outfield equation going forward but Milone might already be the best Twins starter.

There were a few deals made with the present in mind more than the future. Although it may appear one team got the better of a deal, that could very well change as prospects further develop. The Brewers and Mariners also added pieces to their outfields. Milwaukee acquired Gerardo Parra who won’t set the world on fire but is another solid option for the Brew Crew. Seattle upgraded in the form of Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson via the 3-way David Price deal which they simply piggy-backed on, completely lucking out.

David Price
David Price

Left-handed Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller was dealt to Baltimore. The O’s would have done well to grab a starter but Miller is money out of the ‘pen. The Yankees acquired a good hitter and utility man in Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks who didn’t need him the way they’re playing this summer.

There were plenty of puzzling deals too. As good as the Prado addition was, the Yanks had me seriously scratching my head with the Stephen Drew for Kelly Johnson transaction. This one might be a case of both players needing a fresh start. It’s still odd to see Boston and New York trading with one another just before facing off in a weekend series in Fenway.

I was under the impression that Asdrubal Cabrera would be a building block in the current Cleveland configuration. Apparently I was wrong as he was sent to Washington for Zach Walters. His sudden departure might be the result of wearing out his welcome as I know was the case with the seemingly-indifferent Justin Masterson. The Tribes sent their former Opening Day starter to St. Louis for James Ramsey. That brings us to the Cardinals.

I cannot believe what the Cardinals did on Thursday. Allen Craig and Joe Kelly are heading to Boston in exchange for John Lackey and a prospect. Trading these two guys away shows you how deep the cardinals are at all positions. Craig is a victim of the Oscar Taveras craze and Kelly was just a number in the shuffle of fantastic young pitchers that St. Louis is hoarding.

Lackey has a pretty good track record in the postseason going back to his rookie season in 2002 with the Angels. He pitched and won Game 7 in that Series against San Francisco. Last autumn, after losing Game 3 to the Cardinals, he won Game 6 to again clinch the Series. The dude literally WINS the World Series. The Cards have seen it themselves and apparently decided he’s a guy they want on the mound for their side. He is owed a fair amount of praise, but all those games were in American League parks. Now we’ll see if he can do it in the Senior Circuit.

Jon Lester
Jon Lester

The BoSox dealing away ace Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the A’s for Yoenis Cespedes was a blockbuster Thursday morning splash and early sign how exciting deadline day would be. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is going to look like a genius when he re-signs Lester to a new multi-year deal in the offseaon.

The 3-way cannonball deal that sent David Price to Detroit; Jackson to Seattle; Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin and Willy Adames to Tampa Bay was undoubtedly a direct answer to the Athletics landing Lester. And although the originally reported text from Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to A’s GM Billy Beane about the deal was false it’s still a nice little storyline. Either way, I think it’s cool to see competitors acknowledge each other instead of ‘coach speak’ oozing from everyone who steps in front of a microphone.

Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski with owner Mike Ilitch in background.
Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski with owner Mike Ilitch in background.

Certainly the Tigers strengthened their starting rotation for this postseason but I think the deal was truly made as an insurance policy. Max Scherzer’s contract expires at the end of the season, he’s playing at an incredible level and he is a Scott Boras client. I can easily see him wearing Yankee pinstripes next year. Now that scenario wouldn’t hurt the Tigers nearly as much. The price Detroit had to pay was an everyday centerfielder. Jackson was pulled off the field minutes before the deadline. Sitting in my seat at Comerica Park I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. Never have I been to a game where the starting pitcher and centerfielder don’t finish the game on the same team.

After letting all the ideas marinate in my head I think it’s clear the deadline day winners were the Red Sox and the Braves. Boston made moves for their future, Atlanta acquired for an immediate impact. They picked up the antithesis of every player they have in Emilio Bonifacio. His style of play can really help them going forward. Boston fans should be thrilled though. They’ve now got their corner outfield spots set up for years and a solid middle of the rotation pitcher with a high ceiling.

Boston’s 2014 is looking a lot like their 2012. Of course they won the World Series last year. That’s just something for your baseball brain to snack on going into next season.

For a more in depth look into the Boston Red Sox trade deadline activity check out Matthew Kline’s column.

Rating the Boston Red Sox MLB Deadline Deals

As yesterday moved on, it began to feel less like that the Boston Red Sox were capitulating their World Series title three months early, and much more like Christmas in July.  Yesterday’s MLB Deadline (for non-waiver trades) was certainly an active one, and the Boston Red Sox were seemingly involved in nearly every deal.  I’ll rate each deal going from the end of day back to the Jake Peavy last week.

  • Stephen Drew to the Yankees for Kelly JohnsonJust to make sure I fully understand this deal, the Yankees on purpose took Stephen Drew (along with the rest of the money he is due for 2014, if reports are to believed), and not only that, gave back a player who can play the position the Yankees will ask Drew to play (2B.  I assume it goes without saying that he can do it better, too.)?  Now I’ll grant, Johnson will be likely never see the field for the Red Sox, but if they had got back a stale bag of chips along with half of a flat Diet Coke, they would have won this deal.  Not only are they finally rid of Drew (permanently, one can hope), but Xander Bogaerts will be able to return to his natural position of SS, and Will Middlebrooks comes back to Boston to man 3B.  The only losers in this scenario are fans who were going to Pawtucket tonight to watch Will Middlebrooks handle 3B.  That, and the New York Yankees and their fans, but who cares about them, anyway?  Grade for this trade:  A+.
  • Andrew Miller to the Orioles for Eduardo RodriguezThis deal I’m not as sold on.  Many people seem to be sold on Rodriquez as a guy who can eventually step in to the rotation as a number 3 or 4 guy.  If he can do that, then I guess this trade is alright, but Miller was one of the guys I didn’t want to see sent off.  Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Miller has pitched 113 1/3 innings for the Red Sox, striking out 168 (13.34 Ks/9 IP), while walking only 50 (a bit high, but greatly improved this season.  He’s down to 2.8 BB/9 IP.)  Rodriguez has, according to the numbers at least, regressed from his 2013 season.  I’m giving this deal a C in the moment, because I think the Red Sox should have been able to get more, but perhaps it really was the best deal they could get.
  • John Lackey, $1.75 million, & Corey Litrell to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. There are a couple of reasons I don’t like this deal:  I don’t like the thought of sending Lackey away, not after how he has performed since the beginning of the season.  I also don’t relish the thought of his $500K 2015 team option being sent away, either.  As a fan, there really was no losing with what Lackey might have done in 2015.  He has stated on the record to the Cardinals that he intends to honor his contract (another reason to like him), but if he helps the Cardinals to a World Series title, and they decide to pick up his option, perhaps he decides he’s changed his mind.  That would be fun to watch.  The other, better option, is that Lackey goes out and has another stellar season in 2015, playing for the MLB minimum.  That’s winning, every way you look at it.  On the other hand, there is a lot to like about this deal.  Both Craig and Kelly have shown in the past that they are better than they have been so far in 2014.  Kelly has dealt with injuries, which have limited his opportunities.  He also cannot be a free agent prior to the 2019 season.  While Craig has underperformed thusfar in 2014, he has a three year track record of being a fairly dependable bat with decent pop.  As a right handed hitter, he should learn to wear out the Green Monster in left, which should juice his batting average, and may even improve his power numbers.  Also, he is under contract through the 2017 for $25.5 million (plus the remainder of his 2014 salary.), and the Red Sox will have a club option for 2018 at $13 million.  Compared to some of the deals the Red Sox have handed out lately, this one is a winner, as long as Craig is able to take the field.  Final grade on the trade:  B+.
  • Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and the Athletics competitive balance pick.  This is the deal that surprised me the most, not because Lester was dealt, which was fully expected, but the fact that the Athletics were involved, and that the Red Sox were able to acquire a front-line MLBer in exchange.  While it’s true they will only have Cespedes under their control through the 2015 season, in my opinion, that is a much better haul than prospects.  Cespedes shine has worn off a bit, especially after his lackluster July, but the hope has to be that by getting him in a lineup with David Ortiz, along with a (hopefully) rejuvenated Allen Craig should improve his numbers, to say nothing of playing in Fenway Park half of the time instead of the Oakland Coliseum.  Jonny Gomes will be missed, but outside of his heroics, the production really hasn’t been there.  He was a key contributor to the Sox 2013 title, and I wish him the best in Oakland.  Red Sox final trade grade:  A. If Lester comes back to the Red Sox on a -4 year $100 million deal, this deal gets bumped to an A++.  I don’t expect that to happen, however.  Lester grabs the most money he can, and good for him.[1. In light of what the Tampa Bay Rays were able to get for David Price, a pitcher who is 2 years younger than Lester, a level above him in terms of ability, and under team control through the 2015 season, I’m upgrading the Sox to an A+ on this deal immediately.]
  • Felix Doubront to the Cubs for a PTBNL.  I really don’t know what to make of this deal, but the highly intelligent Rich Mahoney had this to say about the deal:“Dubront must have made himself odious to Farrell and the front office, otherwise, why ship him out for a ptbnl.”Dubront was having a down season in 2014, but I generally like his attitude.  Apparently that’s where Red Sox staff and I part company.  Of course, I don’t have to deal with him on a daily basis, but  I think he’s a guy that eventually figures it out and sets the league on fire.  Final grade on the trade:  Not able to be determined at this time.
  • Jake Peavy to the Giants for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree.  I know very little about Escobar or Hembree, outside of what their baseball-reference.com pages say.  I know they’re supposed to be fairly highly regarded prospects, but I don’t even care.  Unloading Peavy and getting anything in return has been huge.  I’ve listened with a smile on my face all season long as commentators, both local and national, have bemoaned poor Jake Peavy’s lot in life.  While it’s true he’s had the lowest run support in the league, it’s also true he leads the league in home runs allowed (20), and had an A.L. ERA (4.72) that had him 41st among eligible starters.  A return trip to the N.L. didn’t help, as he gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in his Giants debut on Sunday night in a loss to the Dodgers.  The man who cost the Red Sox the services of Jose Iglesias might not crack the two win barrier in 2014.  This is a huge win for the Sox.  Final trade grade:  A.
  • Overall, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington made the best of a terrible situation, and made the Red Sox better not only in 2015, but in this moment.  He acquired the power bats the lineup desperately needed, acquired some prospects who may pan out, and got rid of some dead wood.  While doing so, he also gets to survey the roster for the final two months, including young pitchers Webster and Ranaudo.  The rest of the season may not be fun for Sox fans, but it gives everyone a chance to see what’s coming in 2015.  Final grade for the MLB Deadline Deals:  A-.  I don’t think it could have been done better.

[Matt]

I Can't Pass Up a Good PEDs Argument

Last Friday, I once again took on PEDs cheats.  My target was current Baltimore Oriole Nelson Cruz, who is posting even more eye-popping numbers this year than he did last year.  You know, when he failed a PEDs test and was suspended for 50 games.  I’ve previously profiled Bartolo Colon in the same manner, and any time the opportunity presents itself, I’ll make sure to have something to say.

Continue reading I Can't Pass Up a Good PEDs Argument

Red Sox Pitchers: 2013 – 2014

I was going to save the Red Sox pitcher prediction report until just before the start of the season, but seeing as there’s so very little going on this week in Massachusetts sports, what the heck. It’s not like I’m excited for UMass basketball (they’re pretty good, I guess, but oh so boring). Rooting for the Celtics to lose has become too tedious to even watch for more than 10 mins at a time. And do I really need to write another love song to Bill Belichick during NFL free agency (I don’t, but I will write one soon. Bank on that).

 

So it’s back to spring training and the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox. If you want to read my thoughts on how their lineup will perform in comparison to last year, they are right here for your perusal and lamination.

 

Same setup as last week. We’ll go pitcher by pitcher, from most important on down.

 

1. Jon Lester – UP.

Lester is easily the most important pitcher on this staff because he’s the ace. I realize this is not groundbreaking news, but teams don’t generally win with frequency unless they have a pitcher at the top of the rotation they can count on. Roger Clemens was the first guy I ever heard referred to as a “stopper”, but I have to imagine that having a guy like that is huge from a mental perspective. For a team to know that no matter how bad things get, when we get around to Lester they will improve? That’s a giant bit of mental peace.

Lester has never seemed like a guy too focused on his contract (at least publicly, and that’s all I can ask), but it’s up after this year and I would bet you a dollar he’s aware of that fact. I don’t think he’ll be at the dominant levels he was in the playoffs, but I think he’ll improve on last year’s 15-8 1.29 / 3.75.

 

2. Clay Buchholz – DOWN

I’ve never bought into Buch, even during last year’s 11-0 start. I think he’s a talented pitcher without some of the work ethic that it takes to be a level above where he’s always been. And I hate to keep bringing money up (I really don’t, but I know most people hate reading it), but he’s under club control through 2017. It’s conceivable he’s not as motivated to pitch through pain and/or recover as quickly as possible.

Having said that, obviously the talent is there. 12-1 1.02 / 1.74 isn’t happening again, but if he can remain reasonably healthy I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he has numbers similar to Lester in 2013.

 

3. John Lackey – DOWN

TBone Kline once told me, during the height of his “Meet the Parents” fame, that Ben Stiller was a terrible, unfunny actor. I laughed him off and went back to quoting the movie. Turns out that, with the exception of “Greenberg”, I completely agree with him.

I tell you that to tell you this: my “Meet the Parents moment” with TBone was last year around this time when I told him John Lackey was the key to the Red Sox playoff hopes, and I expected him to eat innings, save the bullpen, win some games, and generally be a good fellow.

I don’t think the big man is quite as good this year, but I think he’s still an ideal #3 or #4 pitcher, and an excellent guy to have around.

 

4. Koji Uehara – DOWN

Last year’s playoffs MVP (bullcrap, I call, on anyone who suggests someone else) can’t possibly be as unhittable as he was last season, right? He was flat out Mariano Rivera in his prime as the Sox mowed through Tampa, Detroit, and St Louis, and I say that without the slightest bit of hyperbole.

The down prediction is only because I’m going to need to see another few months of that kind of dominance (and health) before I start predicting a Satchel Paige – like late career performance out of Koji.

 

5. Felix Doubront – UP

Way up. This is my guy this year. I don’t know that he’s actually the 5th most important guy on the staff right now, but I think he will be at least that by season end. I think the 11 win total from last year becomes 15, I think the ERA and WHIP both drop fairly dramatically, and I think he becomes one of the favorite players at the Fens.

 

6. Edward Mujica – DOWN

Ben Cherington finally figured out the bullpen in Boston, and I love him more for that than for anything else he’s done. I can honestly say that last year was the first in my lifetime that I felt comfortable with a lead as a Red Sox fan. We’ve gone through Lee Smith, Heathcliff Slocumb, Jeff Reardon, Bob Stanley, Calvin Schiraldi, Tim Wakefield, even Jonathan Papelbon – these guys are freaking heart attack pitchers (and that list could have gone on for about 130 more names). Most were often unsuccessful, and even when they weren’t, it was excruciating. Not last year.

Whoever is the setup guy for Uehara is easily one of the most important guys on this team. I think it’ll stay Mujica, and I think he’ll have a good season, he just won’t save 37 games again.

 

7. Brandon Workman – UP

Like Doubront, Workman is a guy I’m looking for big things from this year. With Workman it’s more of a hope than an expectation, though. And what a hope it is.

If John Farrell finds himself with an above average #6 starter who has also proven to be dynamite out of the bullpen? If Ben Cherington finds himself with an up and coming 25 year old pitcher who has proven he can get it done in the playoffs, and has less than 1 year of accumulated MLB service time? Look the f out.

 

8. Junichi Tazawa / Craig Breslow / Andrew Miller – DOWN

Such is how it goes with journeymen middle / late relievers. I don’t expect all of them to decline from last year, but I expect to see some turnover. Good thing for Sox fans, Benevolent Ben Cherington has stocked the pen like a trout farm, and there are plenty of guys like Burke Badenhop, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, and Drake Britton ready to step in if need be.

 

9. Jake Peavy – DOWN

Peavy had a very good season, statistically speaking. 12-5 is a good record (albeit in a too small sample size), and no one is going to complain about a 1.15 WHIP or .238 Batting Average Against. I don’t see those numbers continuing, and I expect at least 1 or 2 stints on the DL.

 

10. Chris Capuano – DOWN

Hometown pride, baby. I’ve played against Capuano at various points during my less than illustrious baseball career, the last time being while he was rehabbing an injury at Duke and I was swan-songing in an adult league. I’m rooting for him, but I think this might be his last cup of coffee.

But hey – I’ve been very wrong on Capuano before. Namely every time I attempted to hit his curveball (or fastball or change up or eefus or whatever).

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Spreading the Floor – Winter 2014

There’s a guy who’s written for the Springfield, MA newspaper since long before I was delivering it in the 5th grade. His name is Garry Brown and he’s written a column titled “Hitting to All Fields” for as long as just about anyone around here can remember. It’s certainly not exclusive to Garry, I’d guess that a lot of local newspapers have a quick hit column of less-than-fully-brewed opinions like his, but I always had fun reading it.

 

I’m going to borrow from Garry today, although I will most definitely be snarkier and paid less for my knockoff I’m going to call “Spreading the Floor”. My hope is that you find it fun to read and I find it fun to write.

 

  • I don’t think I say this nearly enough (and I’ve said it a lot): the fact that the NFL officials are part time employees is ludicrous.

 

  • Only slightly less ludicrous is the idea that the NBA is going to use a 4 point shot. This is a league that’s on the fast track to becoming the place for stat-geeks to get their fix, now that baseball’s records are one big mess. Why mess with that?

 

  • I don’t think the Red Sox make the playoffs this year, and I don’t think Xander Boegarts finishes in the top 4 for Rookie of the Year.

 

 

  • Still waiting patiently for the NHL season to begin. Playoff opening day has to be coming up sometime soon, right?

 

  • I give ESPN a ton of crap in this space, and they deserve every bit of it, but most of their documentaries are a lot of fun to watch. They aren’t going to win Pulitzers or start a movement, but they’re entertaining. I rewatched a couple over the past week – Guru of Go and Winning Time. It’s nice to watch a sports doc that doesn’t try to make you feel evil for watching sports and just tells a story. And they do some very good “serious” ones too: The Two Escobars is phenomenal.

 

  • Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess of Grantham is very possibly the best character on television right now. Roger Sterling is going to need to come out swinging this season.

 

  • Professional athletes who tweet strike me as morons, but I’m willing to be shown why I’m wrong. It seems to me that there are about 1,000 ways social media can ruin an athlete’s day, and the only “good” reason for twitter can also be accomplished through email (booty calls) (not that I’d know).

 

  • The Atlanta Falcons have the 6th pick in the upcoming draft, they don’t need a QB, and all the teams in front of them “need” or “could use” one. Like I said all year in my picks column, 2013 was a successful one for Matty Ice and the boys. 10 wins is the current over/under for 2014, and I’m definitely over.

 

    • Let me take the chance not to reiterate how amazing the Patriots’ consistency under Bill Belichick has been. Please read this if you’d like to hear further on the matter.

 

  • I would definitely pay to know how calculated a decision like Michael Sam’s coming out of the closet was. I honestly have no idea whether it was just something he always planned to do once college was over or if there’s some team of scumbag agents trying to calculate just how profitable it would be to come out now. The truth probably falls somewhere in the middle, but it’s something I’d love to hear someone speak candidly about.

 

  • Guys who don’t show up for fantasy drafts are the worst.

 

  • I’m interested to see where this “let’s clean up professional locker rooms” thing goes. It looks right now like league officials are going to try and legislate morality to a bunch of adrenalin fueled, roided up (at least a lot of them) guys in their mid-20s. That does not strike me as an easy thing to do.

 

 

Let me know if any of this interests you or sparks some ideas (even if that idea is “Mike Pellegrino is a straight up jackass”).

 

Thank you for reading.

The Highlights of 2013

As we roll in to 2014, all the while looking forward to the day that pitchers and catchers report (43 days), it seemed like the right time to look back at a few of the things I managed to get right in 2013. Sure, there enough things I got wrong to fuel discussions for weeks to come, but that’ll keep for another day. In my opinion, it’s good to start the new year off thinking positive thoughts. Below are three items I believe I truly got right during 2013.

Continue reading The Highlights of 2013

Playoff Baseball – It's Like Opening Day

Confession time. I have not watched much baseball this year. I have to assume that the majority of you do not find that odd – the game is losing fans in droves (yeah, yeah, you can make the stats say whatever you want. Bottom line is that less people 1on a % basis care about the game today than 10 years ago, and it’s lost its cemented place in the national consciousness). I’m not proud of this. It’s always been my favorite game to watch, and I think it’s the second best athletic competition ever invented.

Much has been written discussing ways to make the game better (read: shorter) in the hopes that its popularity will return to the stratosphere. But even if you made the game shorter (easy to do – eliminate some commercials, jackasses), baseball is not the sport for Generation I. It’s not fast-paced, it’s usually not played in a climate controlled environment, and it doesn’t go well with a soundtrack.

I don’t mean to rail on the youth of today. I am simply resigned. The world changes, the old goes out. I’m sure baseball will remain viably popular throughout my span on this earth, so I’m not all that concerned with the problem. It just is. By the time I’m shoving off (assuming I live to the average), kids will be playing some hybrid form of basketball and football while dressed in flak jackets, motorcycle helmets, and hockey pads. It’ll be called Harmony Ball or something like that. Alright, so I’m railing on the whippersnappers just a little. Please don’t sue me, Moms and Dads.

This year’s been different. I haven’t turned on NESN (home of the Red Sox) every night around 7:30 like I always used to. There are plenty of reasons, although none related to the two paragraphs preceding this one. I’ve got 2 young kids (and, boy, do I go to that well whenever I need an excuse for something), plus Flagner locked me in a room and refused to let me leave until I’d cranked out 10 Celtics columns, and I decided that I’m winning my damn fantasy football league for the first time in over a decade. So baseball got the shaft.

Anyway, to the point. What I’m saying is that I’m coming into this year’s MLB playoffs relatively fresh. I’m not full pink hat (ask a Masshole what that means if you don’t know), but I’m fuchsia at least, maybe even fandango. And I’m kind of excited. I’ve followed the Red Sox pretty closely via BIG Media (meaning I probably think I know something, when it’s actually something else), I watch plenty of highlights, and have a general knowledge. But I haven’t been watching a lot of games. These playoffs will be like a beautiful mix of opening day and October.

I’m excited to watch Koji Uehara pitch. I can’t wait to watch Jacoby Ellsbury steal a few bases (my Jacoboner isn’t quite at Pat Hack level, but he’s damn fun to watch). And most of all, John Lackey. I’ve defended that guy for 4 years now, consistently telling TBone to wait until next year – that his contract was going to pay off at some point. This is Lack’s shot to pay me back.

There’s nothing like playoff baseball and playoff basketball. Everything is tight and perfect. Managers and Coaches shorten rotations, long relievers and 9th men are rarely used, and there’s a sense of urgency with every pitch / possession. There’s no greater thrill for a baseball fan than the bottom of an extra inning – every pitch carries different meaning than the one that preceded and each one has higher stakes than the last.

It helps that Boston is favored to come out of the AL. I think Detroit ultimately bests the Beantown 9, but it’s fun to be in the catbird’s seat. I’ll be on pins and needles from the time Clay Buchholz throws the first pitch of the ALDS until the painful or exhilarating end.

Frost has reached New England. My basil plants are covered, getting in more than 7 holes after work is a memory, and the Sox are in the playoffs. Unlike our dearly departed JT, I’m excited for this time of year. The lessons of 2004 and 2007 have stuck with me and I now know October belongs to the Red Sox. Pink hats all the way.

References
1 on a % basis