Friday, May 09, 2008

Quick thoughts

Meant to mention this the other day. A big shout-out to Joe Andruzzi who recently got the news that he is now cancer-free. Less than a year ago the former Patriots offensive lineman was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of lymphoma.

With everything else that has happened in New England sports this last year - World Series Championship, undefeated regular season, best record in the NBA, an Ivy League football championship, a college bowl bid after flirting with being the number one team in the nation - this might be the best news. It's not going to cause the euphoria with the fans that, say a Celtics Championship will. But Andruzzi healthy again...that's great news.

Starting rotation

Sixteen of the Red Sox 23 wins have come from the starting rotation (well, the regular starting five of Matsuzaka, Beckett, Wakefield, Lester, and Buchholz).

The Dice-man is leading the way with five wins and a 2.43 ERA.

Wake is second in ERA with a 3.33, and third in wins with three.

Beckett is at four wins and 3.70, Lester two and 3.94, and Clay at two and the only ERA over four at 4.50.

By comparison, Baltimore has had seven pitchers with at least two starts. Of the five with a minimum of four starts, there are eight wins between them and only two with ERA's below four, with another two with ERA's over seven. The Rays have 13 wins from their starting five, but only one starter with a sub-four ERA. Like the Sox, the Blue Jays have 16 wins from their starting five, but have two pitchers with ERA's over four, including AJ Burnett's 5.19 ERA. The Yankees have been slightly better than the Rays with their starting five, getting 14 wins from them, but they've had three guys with ERA's over four, and none below three. Two of their starters (one now back in the minors, and the other on the disabled list) have ERA's over eight.

If these ERA numbers stay fairly consistent, it's only a matter of time before the Sox starters separate from the pack.

"I know the writer and I think very highly of him"

-Bob Ryan on John Tomase, Friday morning appearing on Mike & Mike in the Morning

Ryan wasn't excusing the whole Spygate thing. He was explaining how writers roll the dice whenever relying on unnamed sources.

The Herald is already feeling enough negative feedback that they have deactivated the comments sections following Tomase's articles due to the shots being taken by Herald readers in those forums. Without the direct route to Tomase, readers displeased with the Herald and Tomase have begun voicing their displeasure in the comments attached to other writers.

Regardless of how good Tomase may or may not have been in the past, if he cannot produce something tangible to back his story, his career as a Patriots beat writer might as well be over. I would be shocked if his access to Patriots events weren't extremely limited.

Backs to the wall...

Down two games to none with one of the worst two-game shooting stretches in playoff history coming from their star, the Cleveland Cavaliers have their backs to the wall. The question out there is - what did the Celtics learn from their struggles in Atlanta in the first round?

I would be surprised if LeBron James had a third stinker in a row.

That said, it's interesting to note that the C's strategy in this playoff series has been - we're gonna stop LeBron. If the rest of the Cavs can beat us, then so be it, but we don't think they can.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


The Sox spit the bit against the Tigers...well, Julio Lugo did, and to some extent, so too did Papelbon. While the lion's share of the blame rests with Lugo's error, Pap's cannot be held blameless. Lugo's error was not responsible for the men on base who crossed the plate. Pap's was.

By the same token, maybe the Sox get out of Detroit with a 9-8 win instead of a 10-9 loss if Lugo doesn't screw up at a crucial moment.


Former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh is turning over eight tapes. None, reportedly, are a taping of the Rams practice before the 2001 Super Bowl.

The most interesting item that came up was the denial issued by Walsh's lawyer -

"Mr. Walsh has never claimed to have a tape of the walkthrough," Levy told The New York Times. "Mr. Walsh has never been the source of any of the media speculation about such a tape. Mr. Walsh was not the source for the Feb. 2 Boston Herald article."
From the Herald -
“Mr. Walsh has never been the source of any of the media speculation about such a tape,” Levy added. “Mr. Walsh was not the source for the Feb. 2 Boston Herald article.”
He might not have been the original source, but he didn't, until now, deny having a tape of the walk through. And he certainly fueled the story with intimations that he knew more than what was previously disclosed and that he had evidence in his possession that was damning to the Patriots.

This raises any one of a number of potential questions -
  • Does said tape really exist?
  • If so, who has it?
  • Why did Walsh wait until now to issue the denial?
  • Did Walsh really tape a Rams practice (the lawyer didn't actually deny that)?
  • If he did and claims in his meeting with Roger Goodell, without the evidence of said taping, what is Goodell's recourse? What's Walsh's credibility?
  • Where do the Patriots go from here (in regards to the Herald story)?
  • What is the Herald's recourse in regards to their "unnamed source"?
Let's face it, here are some of the scenarios that could still play themselves out -
  • The Patriots, fearing the report was indeed accurate, rattles their sabers and then let's the story die out.
  • The Kraft Family sues the pants off the Boston Herald. The Herald saves face, and redirects the Pats' ire by doing the only thing available to them - naming the source.
  • The Herald issues an apology to the Patriots, and performs its own investigation into John Tomase's story and the source.
Now, the really interesting thing to note, Chris Mortensen of ESPN mentioned that a number of media outlets, including ESPN, pursued these allegations for months before the Boston Herald reported on it,"and it just didn't meet the standard in terms of" reporting the story.

For many this was expected to resolve the whole Spygate thing. For some, they will lock onto the lawyer-speak and believe, no matter what evidence to the contrary comes out, that the Pats taped the Rams' walkthrough. For others, this won't be done until the situation with the Boston Herald resolves itself.

Still a long way from a climax.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Whether directly involved in the shooting in Philadelphia or not, Marvin Harrison is a baaaaad man. And I don't mean that in the slangy good way.

While Harrison has not been named a suspect in the shooting of three men in North Philly in the proximity of a business he owns, appearances aren't good. To wit -

  • Harrison recently had a heated fight with one of the men.
  • Harrison's custom handgun was used in the shooting.
  • Harrison released a statement saying that neither he nor his gun were involved in the shooting. Ballistics says otherwise in regards to the gun registered in his name.
  • The handgun was recovered from under rags in a bucket at a car wash owned by Harrison.
  • What was the wealthy Harrison doing back in North Philadelphia, one of the poorest, highest violent crime neighborhoods in the United States? I know it's where he grew up, but isn't returning to neighborhoods like this part of what got Pacman Jones in trouble?
  • And Harrison's handgun raises all sorts of questions about Harrison's character...
    why does anyone (not a criminal) need to own this - from an Associated Press report, "In November (2005) the Homeland Security Department issued an 'Officer Safety Alert' regarding the (BFN 5.7) with the headline 'body armor defeating handgun. The alert said the Trumbull, Conn., police department had seized such a pistol and noted that its bullets were 'advertised as being able to penetrate 48 layers of Kevlar at 50 meters.'"
Unless you plan on firing a gun at someone wearing, oh, a cop or a soldier, why does anyone need this firearm?

Not ringing true...

I have questions, from both sides, regarding the Cedric Benson arrest for drunken boating. If what Benson says about being on the boat with his family is accurate, it puts some of the Austin police's actions in question.

However, it must also be noted that the following summary from NBC smells of cow manure -
Benson said he was carried and dragged to a squad car once reaching land, but not because he was resisting officers. He said it was because his ankles and feet were kicked out from under him, and so he couldn't walk. Benson said he pleaded with police. "Please sir, let me just walk off the boat like a man," Benson said he told the officer.
Somehow I don't buy that a man who was hot-headed enough to end up in jail for eight-days for breaking into somebody's house over an allegedly stolen television is level-headed enough to remain polite while dealing with police brutality.

I'm not absolving the police here. They very well may have done things that they shouldn't have. But I do know that there are things about Benson's story that don't add up either.

Don't want to go there anymore...

But Mike Lupica has it covered in spades.

T'ain't broke, don't fix it...

The BCS has voted down a proposed playoff format.

This is going to upset a lot of people who feel that the BCS' national championship is purely arbitrary. The fact that in the NFL we have seen a six seed (Pittsburgh) win the Super Bowl has had no influence on those who can change the way the BCS operates. But why should they?

What people don't understand is, by the thinking of the BCS, the system isn't broken.

The system isn't about choosing a national champion, much like in television, the product isn't about the television show. The bowl series is a delivery mechanism as are television shows.

In television, shows are designed to deliver audience to advertisers - which is what television stations sell - advertising time. They need to appeal to companies that want audience for their product.

The BCS is about making money and they do that hand over fist in the current format. The proposed change was to have a four-team playoff system. Assuming for corporate naming rights/sponsorships to the playoffs, that would set the BCS up for a total of three post-season games. Right now the organization has five games, so in theory, instituting the four-team system would cut into approximately 40 percent of the organization's profits.

Make no mistake, the National Championship isn't what the BCS is about. Money is. And as a money maker, the BCS isn't broken.

Monday, May 05, 2008


It was a good weekend to be a Boston fan. Some quick thoughts on the weekend...

He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue...

The Celtics played a series against Atlanta that saw both teams hold serve at home. The C's just lacked the intensity on the road that they had at home. They gave a sub-.500 team hope.

Then they crushed them.

The closest the game ever got was when the Hawks went up 3-0 in the first quarter. It was over by the half.

With more than a quarter to go, the Celtics went up 70-34.

Early in the third the Hawks Marvin Williams put Rajon Rondo on the floor with a flagrant foul and was kicked out of the game. Kevin Garnett went old-school. Larry Bird would have been proud. Garnett put a vicious screen on the Hawks' Zaza Pachulia, putting Pachulia on his ass.

The bottom line, the game was never in doubt and maybe, just maybe the Celtics have figured out what they need to do going forward to put another banner in the Garden's rafters.

One last note - big time players come up big in big games. Atlanta's Mike Bibby, a one time all-star, was a virtual no-show in the games in Boston. His line in game one - 5 points, 1 assist; game two - 12 points, 1 assist; game five - 6 points, 1 assist; game seven - 2 points, 2 assists. Atlanta lost those games by an average of 25.25 points.

Now, I will admit to not being the biggest basketball fan, but I seem to recall that point-guards like Bibby are the guys that set the offense and rack up the assists. He averaged 1.25 per game in the Garden to go with his 6.25 points per game average in Boston.

To put that in perspective, Bibby, on his home court, averaged 5.67 assists per game and 15.67 points per game. Way to be clutch.

Rays rocked by Sox...

In the weekend's three game series Tampa scored ten runs - an average of 3.3 runs per game. Not great, not terrible. Certainly good enough, if their pitching is solid, to come up with two wins in three games.

Didn't happen.

After a brutal stretch in which the Sox had trouble scoring runs, they absolutely exploded against the Rays. Through the three games Boston put up 26 total runs - just under nine per game.

Jon Lester had possibly the best outing of the Sox' starters, going six innings while giving up one earned run on four hits. It was his second straight quality start. A day earlier, Josh Beckett went eight innings, but gave up four runs, and in the first game rookie starter Clay Buchholz was good in giving up only one run, but was lifted with one out in the sixth inning.

All told, however, Sox starters gave up six of Tampa's ten runs, with four coming from Beckett. Lester and Buchholz combined for a 1.46 ERA in their two starts. It can be dismissed that it was done against the Rays until the following is considered - the second place (yeah, you read that right) Rays are 6th in the AL in RBI's, home runs, and 9th in batting average. Overall, 14th in RBI's, 13th in home runs, and 15th in average. They are, indeed, a solid, middle of the road sort of team with pitching (through this weekend) comparable to the Sox (4.12 staff ERA to the Sox 4.13)

Different directions...

This is the Jets-Patriots relationship in microcosm...

Since Victor Hobson (signed this off-season by the Patriots) was drafted by the Jets in 2003, the linebacker has been solid, racking up fewer than 50 tackles only once (45 in 2004). He has averaged 68.6 tackles per season, racked up 11 sacks, and 3 interceptions. He has appeared all 16 games all but once in his five seasons.

The Jets let him go to free agency without a fight. Then they went out and signed Calvin Pace away from the Arizona Cardinals. Pace, drafted in the same year as Hobson, has appeared in all sixteen games in in three of his five seasons, racked up an average of 37.2 tackles per season, 14 total sacks and 1 interception. If you discount the 98 tackles he had in his contract year, Pace averaged 22 tackles per season, had a total of 7.5 sacks and no interceptions.

I can't help but think that it's going to be another long season for Jets fans with signings like that.