Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Three, it's a magic number...

Last night the three active Boston area spots teams - Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox - won their respective games.

The Bruins were first up and the first one's done, winning their playoff game to knot their series with the one-time Whalers at three games a piece. By the time the Carolina Hurricanes scored their second goal, the B's already had a three-goal cushion. The Bruins have now won two straight after dropping three. They are now 3-0 against the 'Canes when scoring at least three goals and 0-3 when the 'Canes have scored at least three goals.

Now the Bruins are returning to Boston and going for a third straight win in order to wrap up the series.'s a magic number.

The Celtics were second on the docket, for the third time mounting a comeback from a double digit deficit in order to go up on the Magic 3-2. In all three of the games in which Boston trailed by more than ten the winning margin has averaged 3.3 points. In the three games Boston is 2-1. With Orlando returning home for a third game in Florida and their backs against the wall, the pressure is squarely on the Magic.

Speaking of three, a beat up and bloodied Celtics team is doing it not just sans Kevin Garnett, a member of the team's nouveau Big Three of Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, but without their second option at the position - Leon Powe. This has left them with their third option at the power forward - Glenn "Big Baby" Davis.

They are doing it with the two aforementioned forwards on the bench with knee injuries, and with their point guard playing on two bad ankles.

Three times in this series a guard not named Ray Allen came up big for the Celtics. In their blowout win Eddie House led all scorers with 31 points including 12 on 4 for 4 three-point shooting. On the night that Davis hit the buzzer-beater, Rajon Rondo scored 21 and led the Celtics in rebounds with 14. Then last night, when Rondo struggled and got into foul trouble, Stephon Marbury may have scored only 12, but it was all in the fourth quarter, igniting the Celtics' 33 point fourth quarter.'s a magic number.

Over on the West Coast in a third different city the Red Sox were busy giving up one run every three innings only to score three in the last two to complete the comeback win. The Sox used three relievers over the last three innings to hold the Angels in check while the Sox finally got to the Angels' third reliever of the night for their third run off the Angels' bullpen with the winning knock coming from Jason Varitek in the bottom third of the Sox' order.

Yup,'s a magic number.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where to start...

Okay, so I've been incommunicado for a couple of weeks - that doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention.

Mixed in with all the articles - magazines, the Brewing News and such - there have been a couple of weeks of interesting New England Sports. Jason Bay is tearing it up for Boston, a wounded Celtics team is looking like they might arrange for a date with the Cavaliers, the Bruins are fighting their way out of a hole, and our old friend Manny is being Fe-Maley.

I don't know what's going on with Red Sox pitching, but Josh Beckett looked better in his recent outing against the Rays than he has all season, but he still had the rough inning. Well, rough-ish. Somehow, in spite of less than sterling starts to the season from Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Brad Penny, the Sox still have managed to win 20 games, good for second best in the American League and tied for the third best record in the majors.

Currently de-facto Ace Tim Wakefield, yes, you read that right, is leading the team with 20 percent of the team's wins and a 2.93 ERA. Mixed in there Wake has had the pitching staff's only two complete games.

One of the other encouraging things about the Red Sox - even though they have played almost 25 percent of their games without Kevin Youkilis, with David Ortiz batting a measly .224 and Jason Varitek picking up where he left off last season with a rousing .227 average, the team is second in the majors in RBI's and runs scored in large part to Jason Bay who leads the team and is second in both the American League and the Majors with 34 RBI's. Bay is also tied for third in the AL with nine home runs. Bay hasn't done it without help.

He's been helped by a now healthy Mike Lowell. Lowell is second on the team with 28 RBI's and six home runs.

Good to see in the absence of a functional Big Papi.

Speaking of Papi, it seems I'm not the only one who doesn't buy his former battery mate's explanation for utilizing a female fertility drug/hormone. It seems almost no one believes that Manny was taking HCG to increase his sperm count. An aging slugger whose production had slipped for two and a third seasons before forcing a trade, suddenly goes on a freakish tear with his new team at an age when no one (that isn't juicing) has ever gotten better.

Do the math.

I'm not saying it isn't possible he was juicing before last season - hell, it would certainly explain some of the boneheaded mood swings and inexplicable behavior.

It took long enough, but it was nice to see the Bruins finally show up for another game in their series against the one-time Whalers. Hopefully it's not to late.

Is it just me, or are the Celtics like a zombie movie at this point? Bodies keep going down, but they just keep coming and coming and coming. Who would really have believed that Glenn "Big Baby" Davis, Eddie House and Rajon Rondo would be the weapons other teams had to account for?

I'm still not convinced that the Celtics have the horses to make it to the finals, but I don't know that I would be all that surprised if they do. Chicago pushed them to the brink, Orlando had a chance to stick a dagger in them and couldn't.

Each series thus far the experts have predicted the Celtics' demise due to match-up issues. If they survive Orlando the talk is going to be about how the Celtics are old and tired from their long series against Orlando, and their even longer one against the Bulls. They will talk about who defends who and how the Cavs have been rested and how they have been destroying their opponents. And all of it will be true - they should cause match-up problems with the Celtics, and they should be Boston handily.

I'm just not convinced it's going to happen that way.

I'm not saying that I think the Celtics are going to make it to the finals. I think it's unlikely, particularly given the team's injuries. But I don't think that it's going to be the cakewalk that Cleveland's first two series have been.