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Random Notes (2003)

December 7, 2003

Newspapers and websites are burning up with talk about a possible Alex Rodriquez for Manny Ramirez trade. If you can believe what you read, Rodriquez would like to come to Boston and Ramirez is willing to head to Texas. If the Sox pulled off this trade, they would receive the best player in the game and a guy that could easily bash 55 homers and drive in 150 runs in the middle of a potent lineup. With all due respect to Nomar, A-Rod would also be a defensive upgrade at shortstop. The trade would allow the Sox to rid themselves of Manny’s Ramirez’s poor attitude, which is not likely to improve if he’s forced to remain in Boston. The downside is an extra $5 million per year in salary over the next five years and an extra $27 million per year in 2009 and 2010. The Sox may also need to give up a pitcher in a deal with Texas. This would be a reasonable request from the Rangers given that A-Rod is a better player than Ramirez. What is unreasonable is any request by Texas that the Red Sox subsidize a portion of Manny’s contract. This trade would save the Rangers about $86 million over the next seven years. To ask for more money is outrageous and I don’t think the Sox would consider it.

If an A-Rod for Manny trade does become a reality, the Sox would quickly turn their attention to working on trading Nomar Garciaparra, more than likely to Los Angeles or Anaheim. The Dodgers are pursuing Japanese shortstop Kaz Matsui and the Angels are a possibility for Miguel Tejada so if both LA area teams landed shortstops, the market for Nomar would dry up quickly. The good news is that Matsui appears to be close to going to the Mets and Tejada is talking seriously with the Mariners. In a best case scenario, the Angels and Dodgers would be competing for Garciaparra. The Angels have several offensive players that might interest the Sox, though it is unclear which players the Angels would be willing to part with. Based on what I have read, the Angels have severely overvalued their talent. Both the Angels and Dodgers could offer pitching, either in a trade for Garciaparra or as part of a three-way deal involving Texas and both Garciaparra and Ramirez.

Speaking of the Dodgers, I heard rumors this week of a possible trade that would send Kevin Brown to the Red Sox. I cannot think of anything worse. Kevin Brown is by far the biggest jerk in baseball. I would rather have two Carl Everett’s on the roster than one Kevin Brown. He is a microcosm for everything that is wrong with today’s athlete and is an injury waiting to happen. I have faith in the new Red Sox management and I know that he would never consider a trade that would leave the Red Sox with Brown and his $15 million per year contract. Previous rumors had Brown heading to the Yankees. This makes perfect sense. Brown and Gary Sheffield fit the Yankee mold perfectly.

The dunces that run Major League Baseball once again made it clear that they will do whatever they can to help the Yankees win. Last week, the MLB Expos sent one of the best young pitchers in the game, Javier Vazquez, to the Yankees for Nick “.284 average, 14 homers” Johnson and two lawn gnomes. The Expos received 30 cents on the dollar in this deal and everyone knows it. To give up Vazquez for anything less than Alfonso Soriano is criminal. I can’t deny that Major League Baseball is a healthier business when the Yankees are winning, but does the league need to be this obvious about helping to ensure that it happens? Did I miss the memo where the Expos became the Yankee AAAA minor league affiliate? “Conflict of Interest” does not even begin to describe what is going on with Major League Baseball and the Expos.

If you use the Vazquez deal as a barometer, the Red Sox should be able to acquire Jose Vidro from the Expos for Jeremy Giambi, Ramiro Mendoza and Damian Jackson.

I am getting very tired of hearing the inaccuracies coming from New York Newsday regarding trade talks in major league baseball. I would love to know who these “sources” are that they reference in the paper. Huggy Bear? Sporty James from Hunter? People on internet message boards inventing fake trades? The two worst major newspapers in America are both published in New York City. Coincidence? I think not.

There were so many things to like about the Curt Schilling trade/signing. I love the fact that Theo Epstein and Larry Luchino were able to sell the Red Sox to Schilling. There is absolutely no way that Dan Duquette could have closed the deal. I was also astonished that Schilling spent several hours after midnight on the Sons of Sam Horn Sox message board chatting with fans and finding out about the team and the city. Schilling’s decision may have actually turned because of his positive experience with those diehard Sox fans. Best of all was the fact that Schilling represented himself in the contract negotiations. The Sox and Schilling will have a little more money in their pockets because no agent was involved. Schilling even indicated that he didn’t think an agreement could have been reached had an agent been involved. I hope that more players follow Curt’s lead and dump their agents. It makes me feel better knowing that some snake won’t collect $2 million because of Schilling’s hard work on the mound.

In one of the stranger stories of the year, a naked man suffering from a gunshot wound appeared at Cal Ripken’s front door on Thanksgiving night, pleading for help. The man claims that he was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day, held captive for nine hours, forced into the trunk of a car, ordered to strip off his clothes and run, then shot as he ran away. Ripken called 911 and help arrived immediately. The man was released from the hospital the next day.

On Friday, Ripken’s streak of consecutive days in which a naked man with a gunshot wound appeared at his front door ended at one.

As of right now, the road to the Superbowl goes through Foxboro. If the Patriots win their last three games (all against teams with losing records) they will guarantee themselves the #1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. If both the Patriots and the Chiefs win their final three games and finish 14-2, New England would get the #1 seed because of a better conference record. If the Pats win two of their final three, they will clinch a bye in the first round of the playoffs which comes with a home game in the second round. The Patriots hold the tiebreaker against Indianapolis thanks to last week’s victory.

The Patriots are now 7-0 against teams with records of 8-5 or better (Miami (twice), Indianapolis, Tennessee, Denver, Dallas and Philadelphia). Clearly, the Patriots fear no one. They are playing with incredible confidence both at home and on the road. In the last four games at Foxboro, the Patriots have given up just nine points (Nine!) and no touchdowns. The 2003 Pats are the first team since the 1930's to go four games at home without giving up a touchdown. On the down side, the Pats have scored only 50 points in those games (12.5 per game). They seem to be a better defensive team at home and a better offensive team on the road.

The Patriots may have received some good news when Virginia Tech Junior Kevin Jones announced that he will make himself eligible for next year’s NFL Draft. The Patriots will almost certainly look to get a running back in the first round and Jones will probably be the second best back in the draft, after Steven Jackson of Oregon State. The Pats will have their own first round pick plus a first rounder acquired from Baltimore in the 2003 Draft. Most Pats fans didn’t realize it, but the referee who failed to restart the clock in the Seattle-Baltimore game two weeks ago (which gave Baltimore a win that they did not deserve) may have hurt the Patriots draft position in the process.

Former Boston College quarterbacks started in three NFL games for the second consecutive Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck’s Seahawks lost to Minnesota while brother Tim Hasselbeck (Redskins) and Doug Flutie (Chargers) led their teams to victory. Brian St. Pierre did not see any action for the Steelers.

Is there a more arrogant person on the planet than Jim Calhoun? Boston College’s shift to the ACC may or may not be a good move, but I couldn’t be happier about separating ourselves from Calhoun, whiner-extraordinaire Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and UConn’s beer-can throwing students and fans. Calhoun stated that he will not play Boston College again once they leave the Big East as if the decision is completely up to him. I’ve got news for you Jim, it’s Boston College that wants to leave you in the rear view mirror. I wish nothing but the worst for your program and your gargantuan ego.

It is always nice to see Notre Dame get their domes handed to them as they did against Syracuse in the season finale (38-12), but it was particularly satisfying given the ending of last week’s Stanford-Notre Dame game in Palo Alto. In case you missed it, the Irish ran a fake punt ahead 57-7 against Stanford. Ty Willingham appears to be following in the classless footsteps of Lou Holtz who called for a fake punt against Boston College in 1992 while ahead 37-0 (I should know because I was there). To be perfectly honest, I have always liked Tyrone Willingham and was very surprised and disappointed by his actions last week. Notre Dame finished the season 5-7, but they were very lucky to have that many wins. I wonder if it will be the conferences that will reject Notre Dame this time around. Note to the Big Ten: if you decide to expand to twelve teams, do yourselves a favor and take Pittsburgh.

What can I say about the BCS? USC finished #1 in both polls but will not be participating in the BCS “Championship Game” at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. This is yet another embarrassing situation for the NCAA and the people involved with college football and the BCS. I’d like to believe that this will be the final stake in the heart of the BCS, but I know better. The NCAA seems determined to stick with a system that 98% of the fans, and probably an equal percentage of coaches, despise. I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I feel terrible for Pete Carroll. His Trojans were the best team in America at the end of last season, but because there is no playoff in college football, they didn’t get a chance to prove it. Today, both the coaches and sportswriters agreed that USC is the top team in the country, but again the Trojans will be left out in the cold because of a bunch of guys that have probably watched Lord of the Rings more times than they have watched college football over the past three months. I couldn’t care less about USC one way or another, but I know a travesty when I see it. What’s worse is that USC’s one loss was in overtime. As much as I love the excitement and drama of college football’s overtime system, it is a terrible way to decide an important game. The polls take this into account, the computers do not. Please visit later this week to see my 2003 Playoff Proposal and matchups.

My 2002 NCAA Playoff Proposal

November 21, 2003

What is most upsetting about the Manny Ramirez situation is that the existence of his bloated contract may force the Red Sox to trade Nomar Garciaparra. I'm sure that the Red Sox would much rather have Nomar at around $14 million per year than Alex Rodriguez at $25 million per year. Clearly, A-Rod is a better player than Nomar both offensively and defensively, but given the choice between A-Rod alone or Nomar plus an additional $11 million to spend in other places, the Sox would clearly take the latter. On the other hand, if Texas were to offer Rodriguez straight-up for Manny Ramirez, the Red Sox would be foolish not to accept the deal. Getting rid of Ramirez would be a dream come true for Theo Epstein and getting the best player in the game in return isn't a bad deal even at $25 million per year. It would also allow the Sox to trade Garciaparra and get something very substantial in return. The Angels could offer any number of players that the Sox would love. They could do a straight-up for Garret Anderson who would take Ramirez's place in left field. They might offer Jarrod Washburn and either David Eckstein (who could be moved to second base) or Adam Kennedy. They may even part with closer Troy Percival or one of their great middle relievers plus a prospect or two. The Dodgers might be interested as well and have pitching to give up. The rest of the league might be hesitant to make a trade for Garciaparra for fear that he will bolt when he becomes a free agent after 2004. If he doesn't resign with Boston, just about everyone expects him to be playing for a Southern California team by 2005.

Just when I think I can't be any more disgusted with Manny Ramirez, he raises the bar a little more. Manny claims that he is unhappy in Boston and wants to be traded, yet he is unwilling to restructure his contract to facilitate a trade. The Red Sox offered to tear up Manny's contract and allow him to become a free agent but he refused. If Manny would take a pay cut from his current $20 million per year to $15 million per year, Texas might be willing to bite on an A-Rod for Manny swap, especially if the Sox threw in a decent prospect. I'm sure it isn't worth it for the Rangers to downgrade from A-Rod to Manny to save only $5 million per year, but if they could save $10 million per year, it might be a different story. The numbers would be as follows:

  • Ramirez has already been paid $60 million by the Sox and probably earned $30 million during his time in Cleveland, putting his career earnings at $90 million. If he plays for the Red Sox for the next five years, he will earn another $100 million for a total of $190 million by the time he's 36 years old.
  • If he agrees to a $5 million per year pay cut, he'll still earn $75 million over the next five for a total of $165 million by age 36.

A major part of the problem is Manny's agent/snake Jeff Moorad. Manny was close to resigning with Cleveland in 1999 for $135 million ($25 million less than Boston offered) but Moorad talked him out of it. I'm sure Moorad is putting his own agenda ahead of his client's interests once again.

The other problem is the Player's Association, which may not let Ramirez reduce the value of his contract even if he wanted to. Talk about greed.

I sincerely hope that the Red Sox are not serious about signing Andy Pettitte. Didn't Theo Epstein learn anything from the Ramiro Mendoza debacle? Andy Pettitte has been a solid major league pitcher for nearly a decade, but I'm sure that he would fall apart the minute that he put on a Red Sox uniform. I'm also trying to figure out why Pettitte is commanding so much money. This is a guy who had a 4.02 ERA last season and has a total ERA of 4.13 over the past five years. Let someone else tie up $55 million dollars. I'd rather have Bartolo Colon or Curt Schilling.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Pedro Martinez this winter. As I've said before, the Red Sox would love to extend Pedro's contract but they cannot afford to give him more than a three year extension because his durability remains such a question mark. It is difficult to determine how much per year Pedro will demand. He seemed rather upset when the Sox excercised his $17.5 million option for 2004, claiming that the team was costing him money. No one seems to know what he meant by this but I can almost guarantee that he won't get that much from Boston or anyone else in 2005. Pedro is still a great pitcher but his value has diminished because he's only good for about 30 starts per year and 100 pitches per game. He can still dominate for six or seven innings but can't finish a game like Bartolo Colon or Kerry Wood. I haven't heard it mentioned yet, but if Pedro is resigned, wouldn't it make sense to move him to a closer's role in a couple of years? These days, a seven inning outing is sufficient for a starter, but at this rate Pedro will be fading out in the fifth or sixth inning within a couple of years. At that point, he will not be a successful starter no matter how dominant he is over the first five innings. As a closer, Pedro could come in and throw fire for an inning or two. His control is exceptional, which is a great asset for a closer. Is this scenario in Theo Epstein's mind? I hope so.

I think the Red Sox should petition the league and request a transfer to the National League East. The Sox have finished second to the Yankees in the American League East in each of the past six seasons. This is infuriating. If New York and Boston had the same payroll, the Sox would have won at least three of those division titles. Truth be told, no one should have to compete for a division title with the Yankees. The Yankees are in a league of their own financially, so why not put them in a league of their own literally? Below is my restructured version of the American and National Leagues, but instead of separating the teams geographically, I have separated them according to financial means. Under this plan the Yankees are a one-team division (they are going to buy a playoff spot anyway, so why not just give it to them up front?). In my new scenario, the American League will have four divisions and no Wild Card. The National League will retain the Wild Card. I have named the Divisions based on automobiles and placed the teams based on how I think they would finish in 2004.

American League
Obnoxious Hummer Division Mercedes SLK Division Honda Accord Division Chevy El Camino Division
Yankees Red Sox Indians A's
  Mariners Angels Twins
  Orioles Blue Jays Royals
  White Sox Tigers Devil Rays
National League
BMW 7 Series Division Volkswagen Passat Division AMC Pacer Division
Braves Astros Marlins
Cubs (Wild Card) Cardinals Expos
Phillies Giants Brewers
Dodgers Padres Pirates
Mets Rockies Reds

Is it my imagination or are football referees getting very lazy? Lately I've noticed that the officials often fail to bring out the chains even when it looks like the ball may be short of a first down. It seems that anything close to ten yards is called a first down. Referee laziness hit a new low point during last Monday Night's Patriots-Broncos game. In the first quarter, Tom Brady quite clearly pounced on his own fumble before a Bronco could get near the ball, but the officials gave Denver possession without even bothering to check who had recovered.

With so many draft picks next Spring, I think the Patriots can afford to take a punter/kickoff specialist in one of the later rounds. Ken Walter is awful and I'm getting a little tired of Adam Vinatieri's kickoffs landing on the 15-yard-line. Not only has the Patriot defense been stingy when it comes to surrendering points, but they have done it with the opponent being given great starting field position on nearly every drive.

Speaking of comparisons, the AFC North Division reminds me of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. All the candidates are pretty lousy but in the end someone has to win.

Graduates of Notre Dame, appropriately enough, are starting to remind me of the French. Both Notre Dame grads and the French government have retained a superiority complex despite the fact that they have absolutely nothing to feel superior about. Both Notre Dame and the French are denial about the fact that they are no longer superpowers and have been mediocre (at best) for a long time. Both love to live in past when questioned about the present. Both are disgusting ingrates (Notre Dame to the Big East who resurrected their basketball program and France to the United States who has saved their cowardly behinds on more than one occasion). Lastly, both are prone to delusions of grandeur. There are differences, however. I've never known a Notre Dame graduate to smell bad and I'm sure no member of the French Army would participate in anything as dangerous as football game.

There has been a lot of talk about college football's overtime rule of late. My feelings on the subject are mixed. On one hand, college football's overtime is extremely exciting. I have seen two of the Arkansas Razorback's seven-overtime classics (one against Ole Miss a couple of years ago, the other against Kentucky this season) and loved every minute. On the other hand, the current overtime system is a ludicrous way to determine the winner of an important game (such as last year's championship). Also, the overtime rule distorts team and player statistics. The Arkansas 71-65 win over Kentucky was 24-24 going into overtime. The overtime rule also allows a quarterback or running back to stock up on touchdowns. For instance, a quarterback could set a school record with six TD passes even though he had just two in regulation. That just isn't right. My solution would be to play a regular overtime period like the NFL does, but require that each team has at least one possession. If the team that receives the overtime kickoff scores on their first possession, they would be forced to kickoff to the opponent. If the second team to get the ball ties the score on that possession then the game becomes a sudden-death overtime. If they don't score, they lose. If they score more points than the first team did, they win. If a team fumbles an overtime kickoff and the kicking team recovers, that would be considered a possession for the receiving team. However, if the kicking team recovers an onside kick, the receiving team would not be charged with a possession. An onside kick would be defined as any kick that does not go at least 25 yards.

How is it possible that Subway is still doing Jared commercials? The American public was sick of this guy three years ago. I wonder if Jared threated to get really fat and go on the talk show circuit if Subway took him off the air.

I have never really cared about the University of Michigan, but tomorrow I will become a huge Wolverines fan for a day. The thought of Ohio State reaching another championship game sickens me. Ohio State football is by far the dirtiest, most classless college athletics program since the late 1980's University of Miami football program. Ohio State leads the world in player arrests over the past three years, lowlighted by the actions of star running back Maurice Clarett who falsified a police report concerning items of his that were supposedly stolen from a car he had borrowed. More recently there have been reports that Clarett may not be eligible to play next season because he is flunking his classes. I think my dog could graduate from Ohio State with honors so how Clarett could be flunking is a mystery. Maybe he is being tutored by Andy Katzenmoyer. What is most disturbing of all is that Ohio State suspended linebacker Robert Reynolds for just one game for violently choking Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi on the field earlier this season. One game is the price you pay for nearly choking a person to death if you play for Jim Tressel. I wonder what kind of suspension Reynolds would have received had he actually killed Sorgi. Two games? The Ohio State football program is a disgrace. Students and alumni should feel ashamed to be Buckeyes. Residents of Ohio should be ashamed by the university's complete lack of morals. Tressel and Ohio State have made it clear winning is all that matters.

Ohio State is also undeserving of their success because they have survived on dumb luck for so long. No team in the history of sports has ever had a run of luck like the Buckeyes have had the past two years. Eleven of OSU's last 17 wins have been by seven points or less, many of those against bad teams. Not only have they won close games, but they have received every break imaginable. Any good team will win some close games, but Ohio State's run has been ludicrous. I can't imagine Michigan winning by less than 20, but if Ohio State somehow survives the game against the inconsistent Wolverines, we may see Oklahoma put up 100 on the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl. Then again, with Ohio State's limitless good fortune the entire Oklahoma team may get food poisoning the night before the game.

Is there a new Screen Actor's Guild bylaw that states that all single actresses in their thirties must date talentless punks in their early twenties? Are Demi Moore, Naomi Watts and Cameron Diaz really that desperate to be noticed by the 18-25 demographic? When Tim Robbins got together with Susan Sarandon it was a little creepy. I miss those days.

The Celtics are almost too upsetting to even talk about. Danny Ainge's first major move as Celtics President was to trade his second best player with a two-year contractual obligation for another team's eighth best player with a six-year contract obligation. It looks like Ainge is more than ready to follow in the footsteps of M.L. Carr and Rick Pitino. I was not entirely against trading Antoine Walker, but this move makes no sense especially when you consider that Walker came into this season twenty pounds lighter and his stock could only rise after last year's miserable season. Ainge could have waited until next year to make a deal with Walker, but he let his personal feelings cloud his judgement (at least I hope that's the case). Ainge certainly didn't need to take on Raef LaFrentz for six years and $60 million.

Happy Thanksgiving.

October 2, 2003

Well, the Red Sox were kind enough to give Dan Shaughnessy another chapter for his next “Curse of the Bambino” book. The A’s had the Sox exactly where they wanted them – ahead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The only surprising thing was that the A’s tied the game with two outs and one strike, not two. In the bottom of the 12th, the Athletics won the game on a two-out, bunt single by the catcher. Only the Red Sox.

Here are a few more observations:

  • It says a lot about the Sox bullpen that Grady Little felt the need to use his Game 3 starter in the 11th inning of Game 1 despite having one reliever already in the game and four others still available.

  • It says even more that Grady felt compelled to remove his “closer” with two outs in the ninth when he hadn’t given up a run. Alan Embree gave up the game-tying hit, but the fault lies with “Korean Calvin Schiraldi” who walked the #8 batter then hit the #9 batter.

  • Manny Ramirez is now 0-for-9 with one walk and no sacrifice flies this season with the bases loaded. No wonder Manny had only 104 RBI’s despite batting cleanup on a team that set the major league record for slugging percentage.

  • The home plate umpire was very consistent in Game 1. He consistently screwed the Red Sox in the first nine innings, then consistently screwed the A’s throughout extra innings.

  • The “Third Knuckleheaded Ex-Jock in the Booth” Award goes to David Justice for suggesting that the Red Sox should pinch-hit for Todd Walker who was already 3-for-3 with a homer. Walker promptly blasted a two-run homer to right field.

  • Some members of the media actually think Grady is obligated to start Pedro in Game 4 if the Sox are trailing in the series. This came up in 1998 as well. Their argument is that you cannot get to a Game 5 if you don’t win Game 4. This is very dumb logic. In either case, you need to win two games. Pedro is going to pitch one of them. He has a much better chance to win on four days rest than three and your odds of winning Game 5 with Tim Wakefield cannot be that much better than your odds with John Burkett in Game 4. The A’s are smart to start Tim Hudson in Game 4, not because it matters whether your best guy pitches in Game 4 or Game 5, but because they would rather have Zito pitch twice than use Zito once and Harden once. It is your #2 and #4 starters that impact this decision, not your #1 guy.

  • The Sox not only lost Game 1, but the manner in which they lost hindered their chances of winning in Game 2, 3 and 4 as well. Game 2 becomes a problem because the jet-lagged Sox will have to play just 13 hours after a devastating loss that ended at 3am East Coast time. Game 3 is jeopardized because Derek Lowe had to pitch in extra innings and will clearly not be as rested for his start on Saturday. In Game 4 (or 5), Pedro Martinez will probably not be at his best after throwing a season-high 130 pitches in Game 1. I think Grady needs to allow John Burkett to start Game 3 which will allow Derek Lowe to pitch Game 4 with an extra day of rest then Pedro can pitch Game 5 on a full four days rest.

  • Both the Red Sox fans in Oakland and the Cubs fans in Atlanta made their presence felt. I guess it helps when the home team can’t even sellout their ballpark for playoff games.

  • The Sox loss to the A's in Game 1 makes them 0-10 in one-run playoff games since the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. In Boston’s five playoff wins since 1998, they have won by an average of 9.2 runs. The Red Sox have outscored their opponents by 14 runs in their last 15 playoff games. They are 5-10 over that time.

More Random Notes

Let me see if I have this straight: In college football, Washington State walloped Oregon, Oregon easily took care of Michigan and Michigan pounded Notre Dame. Yet Notre Dame beat Washington State. You've got to love the unpredictability of college football.

The 2003 Patriots were starting to remind me of the 1989 Patriots. That season, the Pats lost three key defensive starters – Andre Tippett, Ronnie Lippett and Garin Veris – to season-ending injuries in the final game of the preseason. The Pats nearly reached the playoffs in 1988, but fell to 5-11 in 1989.

During the off-season, Theo Epstein not only needs to sign Nomar Garciaparra to a long-term contract, but he should also sign Nomar and Mia Hamm’s first born son. Their kids have a chance to be freakishly athletic.

Speaking of Mia Hamm, I have a few comments about the return of Women’s World Cup Soccer:

  • I noticed that a woman is now coaching Team USA. What happened to Freddie Mercury?

  • Some argue that women’s sports are not on par with men’s sports. Where soccer is concerned, I totally disagree. Women’s soccer is every bit as dull as the men’s game.

  • I was so disappointed to hear that golden girl Brandi Chastain is injured and may not play in the World Cup. I imagine that this will significantly reduce the number of male viewers who were anxiously awaiting a second installment of Girls Gone Wild: Soccer Style.

The Raiders need to trade for the Cowboys Darren Woodson. That would give them a secondary that includes Rod Woodson, Charles Woodson and Darren Woodson.

There is one mistake that college and pro football coaches make repeatedly. If your team is down by 15 points early in the fourth quarter, you know that you need two touchdowns and one two-point conversion to tie the game. The problem is that nearly all coaches will kick the extra point to cut the lead to eight points after their first touchdown instead of going for two after the first TD. In either case, if you score two touchdowns and make one two-point conversion you tie the game. But what if your two-point conversion fails? If the two-point conversion failure happens after the second TD, it is probably too late to get another score (unless the desperate onside kick is successful). If the failure happens after the first TD, you will know that you need two scores and will have time to plan accordingly. I’m not sure why coaches don’t employ this strategy.

September 12, 2003

Sox in Good Shape for the Wild Card, Poor Shape for the Division Title

The Red Sox needed to win at least four of six games against the Yankees over the past two weekends to have a legitimate chance to win the American League East title. Despite outscoring the Yanks by a total of 13 runs in those six games, the Sox could manage only a 3-3 split. Not only did the Sox leave New York down three in the loss column with three weeks left, but New York secured the tie-breaker in the AL East should the two teams finish the regular season with the same record. The tiebreaker only applies if the second team (in this case Boston) is assured the Wild Card spot. The Sox outscored the Yanks by 15 runs in their head-to-head meetings this season but were 9-10 thanks to a 2-5 record in games decided by one or two runs. Fortunately, the Sox have a two game lead on Seattle for the Wild Card and the Mariners have a much tougher road over the final two and a half weeks. Boston plays 14 of their final 17 games against Cleveland, Baltimore and Tampa Bay (plus three with Chicago) while Seattle must play Oakland six times. The bad news is that the Sox are a meager 5-8 against the Rays and O's since July 1st.

Ramirez Enters Gutless Wonder Hall of Fame

What can you say about Manny Ramirez? He is a complete and utter disgrace. In the span of ten days he (1) announced on television that his dream is to play for the Yankees, (2) missed the entire (huge) series with the Yankees because of a sore throat, (3) was out at a bar with a member of the Yankees in the middle of his "illness," (4) didn't show up for his appointment with the team doctor, (5) refused to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Phillies because of his sore throat and (6) responded to the media that he didn't care that Grady Little kept him out of the lineup the day he finally agreed to play. Since Ramirez has arrived in Boston he has put up solid offensive numbers (not $20 million per year numbers), but has also been the epitome of lack of hustle and lack of heart. Even before Manny's recent actions, the Red Sox had to be wondering what it would take to trade him. Now I'm sure Theo Epstein will do everything he can to move Ramirez this winter. Unfortunately, few teams have the money to even think about acquiring Ramirez and National League teams will be less interested because Manny is a liability in the outfield. Even if Ramirez's attitude were not a problem, the Sox would be well-advised to move him and free up that $20 million per year to resign players like Nomar, Pedro (if that's possible), Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe and Trot Nixon. Nixon's contract expires after this season, the rest are under contract through the end of 2004.

I've been wondering what type of conversation Manny Ramirez would have with an NFL quarterback like Steve McNair. Would it go something like this?

  • Steve: "I played last season with back spasms, a sore shoulder, bruised ribs, a bad toe and sore thumb. It hurts even more when those lighting-fast 300-pound monsters drive me into the turf 15 or 20 times a game. My injuries were so bad last year that I couldn't even practice."
  • Manny: "I couldn't pinch-hit because I had a sore throat."
  • Steve: (speechless)

Will Nomar win the American League MVP Award?

Nomar Garciaparra is in the thick of the AL MVP race. As Red Sox fans know, Nomar has failed quite often in late inning clutch situations in the latter half of this season, but his numbers are clealy MVP-quality and there is no clear-cut choice in the American League this season. Here is my top ten with analysis:

  1. Nomar Garciaparra: .313, 25 HR, 96 RBI, 113 runs, 13 triples, 16 SB -- Nomar has the most well-rounded MVP resume, including his defense, which has been outstanding after a terrible April. Diehard Sox fans know that Nomar has failed in the clutch quite often of late and some savvy voters will know that as well. He may need some big hits over the final two-plus weeks.

  2. Maglio Ordonez: .324, 27 HR, 88 RBI, 43 doubles -- Maglio's numbers are very similar to Nomar's but he might be considered a more valid MVP because the ChiSox don't have quite as many offensive weapons as the BoSox.

  3. Brett Boone: .289, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 99 runs -- The only negative in Brett Boone's MVP resume is his batting average. If he can raise that number to .300 or better and the Mariners reach the playoffs, he may grab the award.

  4. Alex Rodriguez: .300, 42 HR, 103 RBI, 114 Runs, 16 SB -- If this were the Player of the Year award and not the Most Valuable Player award, I wouldn't be writing this. On numbers alone, A-Rod wins hands down. But, the Rangers are 21 games out of first place and it would be ridiculous to award the trophy to Rodriquez with so many worthy candidates on good teams.

  5. Garrett Anderson: .313, 29 HR, 125 RBI, 45 doubles -- Anderson is having another spectacular year and has MVP numbers, but the Angels have collapsed in the second half and so have G.A.'s MVP chances.

  6. Carlos Delgado: .300, 35 HR, 125 RBI, .428 OBP, 105 runs -- Delgado looked like a runaway winner at the All Star break, but he and his team have had a very weak second half and though his numbers are excellent, I'd say that he is out of the running.

  7. Ichiro: .315, 44 extra base hits, 30 SB -- Ichiro has been mired in a terrible slump which has been bad news for the Mariners. Ichiro's value to his team can't be questioned, but he simply doesn't have the numbers to be an MVP this season.

  8. Carlos Lee: .291, 28 HR, 100 RBI -- Carlos Lee is the best hitter that you have never heard of. Hopefully, for Carlos' sake, the MVP voters have.

  9. Miguel Tejada: .273, 25 HR, 93 RBI, 88 runs -- Thanks to a terrible start, Miguel Tejada's bid for a second consecutive MVP will likely fall short. His power numbers are solid, but like teammate Eric Chavez, the Yankees Jorge Posada and Chicago's Frank Thomas, he doesn't have an MVP caliber batting average.

  10. Manny Ramirez: .325, 32 HR, 95 RBI, .428 OBP, 107 runs -- Manny's numbers combined with the Red Sox success would normally put him at or near the top of the list. Though Manny's numbers are very MVP-like, his actions are just the opposite. Manny's poor attitude will cost him plenty of MVP votes. I wouldn't be shocked if he fails to finish in the top ten.

Milloy Waived Over $1.5 Million

It is absolutely inconceivable that the Patriots would waive Lawyer Milloy six days before the start of the NFL season. I was of the opinion that the Patriots deserved a "get out of criticism free" card for at least two years following their Superbowl Championship, but this was move was so dumbfounding that it called for the revocation of said card. Not only is Lawyer Milloy an All-Pro caliber player, but he was the spiritual leader of the team. There is a reason why 14 teams inquired about Milloy's services after the Pats released him last week. If they Patriots had a legitimate heir apparent at Milloy's position, we might have understood. They don't. If Milloy had been traded prior to draft day for a high draft pick or two, we might have accepted it. They didn't. If the Pats had traded him last week to fill a need at a more crucial position (specifically the offensive line), we grudgingly would have understood. But, the Patriots received nothing in return except an emotionally deflated team. Things got even worse when the Buffalo Bills signed Milloy and used him to defeat a deflated Patriots team in Week One. Clearly, the Patriots would not have beaten the Bills on Sunday with Milloy but I'm fairly certain that they would not have been blown out by 31 points. The emotional let-down of seeing Milloy across the field played a huge role on Sunday. Most disturbing of all is the lack of loyalty the Patriots organization showed Milloy in asking him to take a pay cut and then releasing him. In sports today, it is usually the players that are devoid of loyalty to their team and its fans. In this case, it was Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick who failed to recognize a player that has meant so much to the franchise and played such a key role in the team's march to their first Superbowl victory just 20 months ago. It's hard to imagine how a team could botch its salary cap planning to a point where they needed to release one of their best players. It's equally hard to believe that they couldn't trim the fat someplace else. The Patriots were the one franchise in town in which I still had faith. Now I'm not so sure.

The Pats ignominous dumping of Lawyer Milloy made me think about some of the worst personnel moves made by Boston sports over the past 20 years. I realized that there should be two categories:

  1. The worst moves at the time they were made These are the moves that immediately made you wonder how the team could possibly be that stupid. The Lawyer Milloy release is one of those.
  2. The worst moves in retrospect These are the moves that may have seemed reasonable or even intelligent at the time, but turned out to be disasters for our teams.

Here is my list off the top of my head. If you think I missed any big ones, please let me know.

The Ten Worst Moves at the Time They Were Made (Last 20 Years)
  1. Pats Waive Lawyer Milloy -- I have awarded this the worst "At the Time" move in Boston sports over the past twenty years. Only time will tell if this becomes one of the worst moves, period.

  2. Bruins Don't Re-sign Bill Guerin -- If there was ever a time that Jeremy Jacobs would pay market value for a player, you would have thought that it would have happened for Bill Guerin. Guerin embodies what a Bruin player should be -- talented, hard-working and tough. He liked Boston and the fans loved him. For me, this was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. I longer follow the Bruins or the NHL.

  3. Dan Duquette Lets Clemens then Vaughn Leave and Gets Nothing -- I don't have a problem with Duquette letting Clemens and Vaughn leave Boston. Clemens had been out of shape and not winning during his last three or four years in Boston and Vaughn's salary demands and waistline were expanding by the minute. The problem was that The Duke did not trade these guys a year before their contracts expired. He could have received some good talent in return, but when they became free agents, he lost them for nothing. This is a dilemma that Theo Epstein will face this winter with Nomar and Pedro who become free agents after the 2004 season.

  4. Sox Sign Jose Offerman -- The Sox gave Offerman a grotesque four-year, $24 million contract following Mo Vaughn's departure. Jose had played very well in the season prior to joining the Sox, but most baseball fans knew not to expect that type of production ever again. They were right.

  5. Sox Trade Phenom Dennis Tankersley for Ed Sprague -- Dennis Tankersley (not to be confused with former tanker Dennis Eckersley) is one of the brightest prospects in all of baseball and should be a fixture in the Padres rotation before too long. Ed Sprague didn't even last through the season in which he was acquired. This trade may haunt the Sox in years to come.

  6. Celtics Trade for Vin Baker -- For some bizarre reason, the Celtics traded an important member of their team in Kenny Anderson (along with Vitaly Potapenko) to the Sonics for Baker, a player whose talents were diminishing each year. What's worse, Baker carried another four years and $50 million-plus on a contract that I'm sure the Sonics never thought they could move. Baker recently admitted to having a serious alcohol problem and was suspended by the Celtics for that reason last season. The Celtics unloaded Potapenko's $9 million per year, but this was still one of the worst moves of the past two decades.

  7. Sox Trade Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen -- Even at the time, most Red Sox fans felt that the Sox gave up too much for a 37-year-old set-up man. Andersen pitched fine for the Sox, but Bagwell was one of the Red Sox blue chip prospects (a third baseman at the time). The fact that the Sox had Wade Boggs and Scott Cooper at third base in AAA is no excuse for allowing the Astros to fleece them.

  8. Celtics Trade First Round Pick for Vitaly Potapenko -- In March of 1999, the Celtics traded a first round pick and Andrew DeClercq to the Cavs for Potapenko. The Celtics knew that they would be in the lottery that season, but Pitino made the deal anyway. The Cavs used the pick (#8) to grab point guard Andre Miller.

  9. Celtics Exercise Their Option on Denver's Pick in 2001 Instead of 2002 -- The Celtics could have waited another year to take Denver's pick (#11 in 2001) which made all the sense in the world since the Nuggets had a good chance of getting worse and the Celtics already had two first round picks in 2001. The #11 pick turned into Kedrick Brown, but could have been the #5 pick in 2002.

  10. Celtics Draft Joe Forte with Jamaal Tinsley on the Board -- The 2001 NBA Draft was a full-fledged disaster for the Celtics. They basically wasted picks 10 and 11 on Joe Johnson and Kedrick Brown, then took shooting guard Joe Forte at 21. Tinsley was the obvious pick - a better player than Forte with a bigger upside. Rumors are that Red Auerbach wanted Forte. The Celtics also could have taken Tony Parker or Gilbert Arenas who, along with Tinsley, were chosen within ten picks of Forte.

The Ten Worst Moves in Retrospect (Last 20 Years)
  1. Sox Trade Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen -- If not for selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees, this would probably be the worst trade in Sox history. Bagwell will be in the Hall of Fame in about ten years. Larry Andersen pitched in 15 games for the Red Sox in the stretch run of 1990.

  2. Sox Don't Resign Clemens -- Who knows what Roger Clemens would have done had he stayed in Boston. He had won only 40 games in his final four years with the Red Sox and seemed to have lost his edge. Still, you can't deny that it would have been nice to have him over the past eight years.

  3. Sox Trade Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg -- At the time of the trade, no one could have predicted that Jamie Moyer would become one of the best lefthanders in the game for the next eight years. Since leaving Boston, Moyer is an eye-popping 129-58 and has won at least 13 games in every season.

  4. Celtics Draft Len Bias -- At the time, drafting Maryland's Len Bias with the #2 overall pick in the NBA draft seemed like a brilliant move for the Celtics. The Celtics had just won their third championship in six seasons and now they had one of the best young players in the country. When Bias collapsed and died from a cocaine overdose two days later, everything changed. The Celtics haven't won a championship since.

  5. Sox Trade Dennis Eckersley for Bill Buckner -- This was actually a great trade at the time. Buckner was key reason why the Sox reached the World Series in 1986 and Eckersley looked to be on the downside of his career. Then everything changed. Buckner's error in Game Six will forever be remembered as the play the cost the Sox the Series (which isn't entirely true) while Eck became the greatest closer in Major League history and played for the A's teams that beat the Red Sox in the 1988 and 1990 ALCS. If Eck hadn't been with Oakland, Boston may have been in the World Series in those two seasons.

  6. Celtics Hire Rick Pitino -- I loved this move at the time. Many of us thought that Pitino was the savior that would return the Celtics to past glory. Well, the results were just the opposite. Pitino proved to be a mediocre pro coach and could be regarded as the worst GM in history (if not for ML Carr). Pitino's endlessly rotating roster (he made twice as many roster moved as any other GM during his tenure) was pure idiocy.

  7. Pats Don't Match Offer on Curtis Martin -- While GM of the Jets, Bill Parcells used some trickery to sign restricted free agent Curtis Martin from the Pats. Parcells offered Martin the choice of a one-year option (which would make him an unrestricted free agent the next season) OR long-term deal with a clause that prohibited a team from designating him as their franchise player. It was a contract that Bob Kraft could not really afford to match because he would probably lose Martin the next year while getting no draft picks in return. Essentially, Parcells had added a "poison pill" to the contract so it is difficult to criticize the Pats for not matching the offer. However, New England's running game has been a weakness since Martin's departure so in retrospect this has to be regarded as a big mistake.

  8. Sox Trade Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker -- Mike Boddicker played a large role in the Red Sox AL East titles in 1988 and 1990, but in the long run the Red Sox would have been better off with Anderson and Schilling, who was an unknown minor league player at time.

  9. Celtics Trade Chauncey Billups -- It took Rick Pitino about five minutes to give up on his first draft pick (#3) in the 1997 draft. Billups played a key role in Detroit's playoff run last year and could be a future NBA star.

  10. Sox Expose Jeff Suppan in Expansion Draft -- Not only did the Red Sox lose a solid starter when the exposed Suppan in the Expansion Draft, but they had to trade one of their top prospects in infielder Freddy Garcia to get Suppan back for the pennant chase this season.

The Ten Best Moves in Retrospect (Since 1980)
  1. Celtics Acquire McHale and Parish for JBC -- In 1980, the Warriors traded 5-year veteran Robert Parish and the #3 pick (Kevin McHale) for Boston's #1 pick (Joe Barry Carroll) and #13 pick. The Golden State Warriors can be credited for playing a vital role in creating the Celtics 1980's dynasty.

  2. Sox Trade for Pedro -- The Sox gave up some good talent in Tony Armas Jr and Carl Pavano to get Pedro, but who would ever argue with the results.

  3. Bruins Acquire Cam Neely for Barry Pederson -- The Canucks dealt Cam and a first round pick (which turned out to be Glen Wesley) to the Bruins for Pederson, who was never the same player in Vancouver.

  4. Sox Get Varitek and Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb -- This trade continues to pay benefits for the Red Sox and more than makes up for giving the Mariners Jamie Moyer.

  5. Celtics Trade Rick Robey for Dennis Johnson -- For the second time in three years, the Celtics made a great trade with a Pacific Division team. DJ flourished in Boston and was instrumental in the Celtic championship runs in 1984 and 1986.

  6. Celtics Get Paul Pierce at #10 -- It's hard to imagine that Paul Pierce slipped all the way to the #10 slot in the 1998 NBA Draft. By the way, Dirk Nowitzki was taken with #9 pick. Several foolish teams passed on Pierce. Luckily the Celtics, who have turned drafting poorly into a science over the past ten years, did not.

  7. Pats Hire Bill Belichick -- I was completely against giving up a first-rounder for Bill Belichick but as it turned out, Belichick's abilities to gameplan, especially on defense, helped bring the Pats their first Superbowl.

  8. Sox Sign Nomar to Long-term Deal -- One of Dan Duquette's few crowning achievements was to sign Nomar to a seven-year, $44 million contract in 1998 (that's an average of only $6 million per season). Best of all, Nomar has honored his contract, never whining about being underpaid. We'll see if he makes the Red Sox "even things out" when he negotiates his next contract.

  9. Sox Don't Resign Mo Vaughn -- Mo Vaughn has been a money pit for both the Angels and Mets. While in Boston, Mo vehemently denied that his weight was a problem, but that and injuries have all but ended the big man's career. The Red Sox are very happy that Mo refused their final $12 million per year offer.

  10. Pats Hire Bill Parcells -- It is very hard to say anything good about Bill Parcells given the way that he left New England, but you can't help but admire his remarkable coaching abilities. Parcells turned around a Patriots franchise that was on a collision course for Bengalville. Unfortunately, the great coach Parcells was stuck with a below-average GM -- himself.

A Few More Random Notes

I'm glad that Jeff Suppan is finally coming around. He was unhittable in the month prior to joining the Sox but was tattooed in his first three Sox outings. Scott Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson have become the latest in a long line of players that are successful right up to the time that they put on a Red Sox uniform. If the Sox acquired Barry Bonds, he'd bat .255 with 17 homers the next season.

The Yankees won the makeup game against the Blue Jays that was originally scheduled for July 22nd. That game was postponed 30 minutes prior to game time because of a "bad forecast." Roy Halladay was scheduled to start the last game of the series that night. The Yankees got Kelvim Escobar in the makeup on Monday and beat him 9-3.

Is there anything in the world more painful to watch than the Red Sox W.B. Mason "Who Knew" commercial?

Vin Baker finally admitted that he has had an alcohol problem dating back to 1998. Baker claims to be sorry, but apparently not sorry enough to give back any of the money that he has basically stolen from the Sonics and Celtics over that time. If Vin Baker had any dignity whatsoever, he would play this season for a salary of $1 million and agree to terminate his contract if he cannot solve his problems with alcohol (he'll get $44 million over the next 3 years). The good news is that Baker has lost weight (I can't call him Vin Bakery anymore) and claims to have been sober for six months.

I think the 2003 Red Sox bullpen is the worst aspect of any Red Sox team in the 25 years that I have followed them. I don't recall a Sox offense that was too far below average over that time. There were some bad starting rotations in the early 1980's but I don't think any were as hopeless as this year's bullpen. The Sox defense has never been a strong suit, but I don't remember the D costing the team as many games as the 2003 pen. I didn't count team speed, otherwise my theory goes down the drain in a hurry.

July 31, 2003

The trading deadline has now passed and Theo Epstein has put the Red Sox in a position to win their first American League East Division title since 1995. With Johnny Damon finally playing up to his potential, the lineup has no holes. The defense is suspect - Damon's arm, Walker's range and Manny in general - but as a team, the Red Sox have cut down on errors as the season has moved along. The Sox are stealing bases for the first time in my lifetime and the bullpen, which was an unmitigated disaster early in the season, looks pretty solid with the acquisitions of Sauerbeck and Williamson. The starting rotation isn't exactly the 1993 Braves, but with Suppan in the mix and a healthy Pedro, the starting five will be more than adequate as long as the team continues to score runs at a healthy clip. Unfortunately, Oakland won't go away and it may take close to 100 wins to reach postseason play this year.

The Playoffs are a different animal of course and Red Sox rotation will be a concern in October. I would take my chances with Pedro against anyone, but how could any Sox fan feel confident about Lowe vs Clemens, Suppan vs Wells, and Wakefield vs Petitte? Lowe vs Hudson, Suppan vs Mulder and Wakefield vs Harden seems like even less of a bargain. Lowe and Suppan are certainly capable of matching up against those other pitchers but the postseason experience gap is difficult to ignore, especially in the first round where Lowe and Suppan would be making their first career postseason starts.

Speaking of Derek Lowe, Sox fans should be rooting against the Minnesota Twins. Lowe's career ERA is 5.71 on artificial turf and 3.07 on grass and Minnesota is the only team left in the American League with a legitimate shot at the playoffs that plays on turf.

Right now Mussina, Clemens, Wells and Petitte is a much better playoff rotation than Martinez, Lowe, Suppan and Wakefield. However, the top four starters in the Yankee pitching staff are, on average, five years older than the Sox top four. The playoffs are still two months away and the odds of the Yankee staff remaining 100% healthy seems remote. If you remove Clemens or Wells from the rotation and add Jeff Weaver, all of the sudden the matchups look much more favorable for the Sox.

I feel more relaxed now that the trading deadine has passed, not because the Sox were able to acquire a much-needed starter, but because the Yankees were not able to pile up on All Stars as they have done at past trading deadlines. I almost fainted when I heard rumors of New York's pursuit of Vladimir Guerrero. I give Major League Baseball credit for not handing over Vlad and Javier Vasquez to the Yankees for a bag of used baseballs as I thought they might. Major League Baseball would love to see the Yankees return to the World Series and adding Guerrero would have improved their chances exponentially. As it stands, Boston, New York and Oakland each improved over the past two weeks. Seattle, for the second consecutive year, did not. That could very well leave the Mariners as the odd man out come playoff time.

I will not be a bit suprised to see Shea Hillenbrand and Freddy Sanchez battling for a National League batting title in a year or two. Both players have enormous potential and it was difficult to see the Red Sox part with them. I am particularly disappointed to see Sanchez leave the organization. Todd Walker's lack of range at second base has been killing the Red Sox this season (case in point, Friday night against the Yankees) and Sanchez may have been a logical replacement at second base next season. On the other hand, in Byung-Hyun Kim and Jeff Suppan the Red Sox have two young players (24 and 28) that could not only help the Sox win the pennant this season, but also contribute for years to come. My frustration with previous Sox General Managers stemmed not from the fact that they gave up top prospects, but that they received so little in return. I'd be willing to bet that Dan Duquette or Lou Gorman would have given up Freddy Sanchez for a player like Chuck Finley or Andy Ashby. In fact, Dan Duquette did trade top pitching prospect Dennis Tankersley to the Padres in 2000 for Ed Sprague. Ed Sprague! Epstein appears to understand the delicate balance between doing what it takes to win now, but not mortgaging the future in the process. This is something that Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette could never grasp.

Even though the Red Sox have played better against the National League this season (10-7), they continue to be haunted by interleague play. So far this season, the Red Sox have lost 2 1/2 games to the Yankees in the standings because of interleague play (New York is 13-5). Coincidentally, the Red Sox trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the AL East. Last season, the Red Sox were a dreadful 5-13 against the NL. If you removed the results of interleague play, the Red Sox would have been the American League Wildcard team. In 2000, the Sox lost 2 1/2 games to New York in interleague games, the same margin by which the Yankees won the AL East. In 1999, the Yankees edged the Sox by four games to win the division - three of those games can be attributed to Boston's inferior interleague record. I am a fan of limited interleague play, but it has absolutely killed the Red Sox.

I read an article on a couple of weeks ago that listed the top 20 NBA free agents and the teams that might make an attempt to sign them. Not surprisingly, the Celtics were not in the market for any of the top 20 players. What a sorry state of affairs it is when your team's big news is the re-signing of Mark Blount. It is sad that the greatest NBA franchise of all time has been reduced to an incompetent, penny-pinching, mediocre ballclub. I think Danny Ainge will prove to be a nice addition, but the specter of miserly ownership and a $13 million paperweight in Vin Baker leaves little reason to believe that the Celtics can be a championship contender in the next five years, especially with fellow Eastern Conference contenders like New Jersey, Detroit, Philly and Orlando making moves to improve their teams.

I commend Gary Payton and Karl Malone for giving up millions of dollars to sign with the Lakers and give themselves a better opportunity to win a championship. A similar move occurred in the NHL where Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne signed with the Colorado Avalanche for a fraction of their market value. These actions are very refreshing in today's world of professional sports where money seems to be the only thing that the athletes and owners consider. However, it is damaging to the competitive balance of each league that a handful of teams are able to corner the market on the top talent. Gary Payton and Karl Malone have earned that right to play in whatever city they would like, but why should the Lakers get them for a total of $6 million per year when the rest of the league would have to pay around $25 million for the duo. Paul Kariya's asking price to Anaheim (a team that was one win away from a Stanley Cup last year) was $10 million, but he signed with Colorado for about $1.5 million. Like Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL are becoming societies of rich aristorats and lowly peasants. It is great that some players are driven by winning and not money, but will we see a trend where the top players in each sport move in unison to create semi-Dream Teams whose success is almost guaranteed, rather than staying with their present teams in an attempt to build a championship team. As in baseball, drafting wisely, making shrewd trades and developing talent seems to be out of fashion in the NBA and NHL. Why go to all that trouble when you can wait for free agents and buy a championship? This is a very disturbing trend if you are not a fan of one of the four or five elite teams in the NHL or NBA.

I've never been a fan of Jay (Jason) Williams, but I sincerely hope that he makes it back to the NBA. Still, I am shocked each time that I hear about a high-priced athlete putting his career in jeopardy by riding a motorcycle or engaging in another high personal injury risk activity. If my physical well-being was worth a few million dollars per year, I would probably cover myself in bubble wrap and never leave the house. I can't believe that these guys take such foolish risks in the prime of their careers. I guess they can afford to act like Evil Knievel because most teams are fearful at what might happen if they try to withhold the injured player's paycheck.

Generally, I like Barry Melrose, but he made one of the most erroneous comments I have ever heard last month:

"But [the Boston Bruins] have a superstar in Joe Thornton, they're a strong defensive team and are young. And most importantly, they have an owner who is not afraid to spend money to better this team. That's incredibly important to the success of the franchise."

An owner who is not afraid to spend money? I guess Barry is finally living up to the intelligence level you would expect from a guy with a mullet.

There will no Idiot List this month despite a plethora of candidates: the aforementioned Mr. Melrose, Randall Simon, The Chicago "presented by Bank One" Bears, Bud Selig and the Marlins Manager who was angry at the Red Sox for tagging up on fly balls in the 25-8 game. The reason that there is no Idiot List is because one group's idiocy, or more appropriately chicanery and lack of ethics, was so far beyond everyone else that to have a list from 2-10 made no sense at all. That group is the scoundrels from Virginia Tech. In case you are one of the few who missed it, Virginia Tech joined Connecticut, Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh in a lawsuit alleging that Boston College and Miami, who had been picked to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, had participated in secret negotiations to destroy the Big East Conference. With help from the State of Virginia, the University of Virginia and North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech was eventually invited to join the Big East in place of Syracuse and Boston College. The unscrupulous dirtbags that they are, Virginia Tech quickly accepted the invitation to the ACC, in effect joining the defendants that they had sued just a few weeks earlier and taking the place of Boston College who they had criticized and sued for considering a move to the ACC. College sports has of course been filled with scandal over the years, but Virginia Tech's actions are surely the most dastardly of all. The blood of the Boston College football program is on Virginia Tech's hands and that will never be forgotten. If there is a college football god, they will be punished severely. If I were in a position to negotiate with those college football gods, I would surely accept the return to glory of Notre Dame football in exchange for a promise that Virginia Tech football would never have another winning season. I wish for nothing but failure and misery at Virginia Tech. They are the lowest of the low.

July 16, 2003

Despite a couple of handfuls of heartbreaking losses, the Red Sox reached the All Star break in first place in the Wild Card standings and only two games behind the Yankees in the American League East. As expected, the chief Wild Card competition resides in the West with the A's only one game behind the Sox in the Wild Card race and the suddenly hot Angels just 5 1/2 back. The Sox stack up very well with the Yankees at this point in the season, but that is nothing new. If the past is any indication, the Yankees are on the brink of their usual midseason shopping spree. Don't be surprised if George Steinbrenner picks up three All Stars in the next two weeks. The A's have the best 1-2-3 starting rotation in the majors, but they lack the offensive firepower of their chief American League competition. The Angels are very dangerous, but they have been very inconsistent this season. They will need to sizzle the rest of the year to return to postseason play in 2003.

The Red Sox and Yankees have similar schedules the rest of the way.

Boston's scheduling advantages over New York are:

  1. The Sox play four more home games than New York in the second half
  2. Six of the nine remaining games between the two teams will be at Fenway
  3. The Yankees have six games remaining against the first place Royals. The Red Sox are finished playing Kansas City in 2003.

New York's main scheduling advantage over the Red Sox is:

  1. The Sox have 14 games in the second half against Oakland and Seattle. The Yankees play those teams only six more times.

Boston's scheduling advantages over Oakland are much more apparent:

  1. The Red Sox will play 41 of their 69 second half games at home where they are 28-12. Oakland will play 40 of their 69 remaining games on the road where they are 18-23. Most of this difference occurs over the next two weeks with the Sox on an 11-game homestand and the A's on a 12-game road trip. The Red Sox will play 30 of their next 43 games at home so this is clearly the time to press their advantage.
  2. The Red Sox have a total of 11 second half games against the lowly D-Rays and Tigers. The A's play that duo only nine more times.

Oakland's main scheduling advantage over Boston is:

  1. The Red Sox will play the Yankees and Mariners a combined 16 times in the second half. Oakland will play those teams only 11 more times.

If the Red Sox can match their first half home and road winning percentages, they will finish the season with a record of 98-64. If the Sox split their games with New York, Seattle, Oakland, Philadelphia and Anaheim and win two-thirds of their matchups with the rest of the league, they would also finish 98-64. That should be enough to at least capture a Wild Card spot given Oakland's high road to home game ratio and the number of games that Anaheim would need to make up.

Clearly, the Red Sox need to acquire a legitimate #3 starter before the July trading deadline expires. The Sox could possibly survive the regular season and earn a playoff spot with Wakefield, Burkett and Mendoza at the end of the rotation, but clearly Boston could not feel comfortable heading into a first round playoff series with Tim Wakefield and John Burkett pitching Game #3 and Game #4 in a five game series. I doubt that Pedro would pitch on three days rest in the first round. Ironically, Jeff Suppan may be a logical acquisition for the Red Sox. Other names rumored are Chuck "Tawny Smacks Me Up" Finley, Sidney Ponson, Kris Benson-Benson-Benson, Steve Trachsell and Andy Ashby. With the White Sox back in contention, Bartolo Colon appears to be off the trading block unless the ChiSox fall quickly in the next two weeks.

It looks like the Yankees are close to acquiring Armando Benitez from the Mets, who they will use as a set-up man for Mariano Rivera. Leave it to the Yankees to pick up an All Star closer to use as middle reliever. But it's not about the money, is it Yankee fans? As Dr. Evil would say "Riiiiiiight."

I will of course be very happy if the Red Sox get to the World Series and play Game 7 at Fenway Park, but I will never defend the foolish policy that allowed the American League to steal home field advantage in the World Series by winning the meaningless All Star Game. It will be a dark day for baseball if a National League team loses Game 7 of the World Series to an American League team with an inferior regular season record. Offering home field advantage on an alternating basis is stupid as well, but at least it is a fair system. Giving the home field advantage to the team with the best regular season record is the logical solution, but Major League Baseball and logic seem to be on divergent paths.

This week's sign of unabashed greed comes courtesy of the Seattle Mariners who began promoting a legalized ticket scalping page on their official website last month. The website enables Mariner season ticket holders that reside outside of Seattle city limits to resell their seats to the public for any price they wish (I visited the site last week and noticed tickets selling for more than five times face value). The Mariners collect about 25% from each transaction. That's 25% on tickets that they have already sold once. Meanwhile, if you are unwilling to pay the scalper's rate and would like to buy Mariner tickets online or over the phone, you must go through Ticketmaster. The Mariner box office will not sell individual tickets (other than to large groups) over the phone. If you want to buy tickets from someone that actually knows the layout of the ballpark, you are out of luck. The Seattle Mariners are not alone. The Diamondbacks and Giants also allow greedy season ticket holders to scalp their seats online. I'm sure it won't be long before every team in the majors with high demand for tickets is doing the same thing.

The Red Sox 25-8 win over the Marlins last month was one of the most awesome displays of hitting that I have ever seen. The scary thing is that the outcome could have been much worse for the Marlins. First of all, since the game was played at Fenway, the Red Sox did not bat in the bottom of the ninth. The Sox also had two players thrown out at home plate, two Sox batters flew out to the warning track and the Marlins saved another hit and at least a couple more runs with a diving catch in center field. The Sox could have easily been the first major league team to score 30 runs in a single game.

Here are my All Star Break baseball awards:


  1. Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays): Delgado may be a hard sell for MVP by the end of the season if the Blue Jays continue to fall out of contention. Otherwise, Delgado is the clear-cut choice. He has already hit 28 home runs and driven in 97 while batting well over .300. The Blue Jays would be fighting it out with the D-Rays for last place without Delgado's presence in the lineup.

  2. Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners): Ichiro doesn't hit homeruns or drive in many teammates, but his contributions at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths have been phenomenal. Ichiro is leading the league in batting average at .352 and has 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts. The Mariner offense does not possess the power that it once did and Ichiro's ability to get on base is critical to Seattle's success.

  3. Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox): Nomar has been mired in a horrible two-week slump, but prior to that period, he was swinging the bat with the authority I had not seen since the wrist injury two years ago. Despite the prolonged slump, Nomar is batting .319 with 13 homers and 51 RBI's and has well over 200 total bases already. After a terrible April, Garciaparra's defense has been nearly flawless. The Red Sox have the best offense in baseball and Nomar is the catalyst.


  1. Albert Pujols (Cardinals): Was there any doubt? Albert Pujols has put up sensational numbers during the first half of the season, helping the Cardinals stay near the top of the National League Central. Pujols is batting .368 with 27 homers and 86 RBI's. It's hard to believe that this is only his third year in the majors.

  2. Barry Bonds (Giants): Barry won't hit 73 homeruns this year nor will he win the batting title, but he will have a great chance to win yet another MVP award. Bonds reached 30 homers and eclipsed 60 RBI's by the break while batting .316. With Jeff Kent now in Houston, Barry's value to the Giants is immeasurable.

  3. John Smoltz (Braves): John Smoltz has now officially completed a "Full Eck." That is, he has made the transition from great starting pitcher to untouchable closer. Smoltz has 34 saves for the first place Braves and an infintesimal 0.95 ERA. Fellow Brave Gary Sheffield is an MVP candidate as well, but I think that the Braves could survive without Shef. I'm not sure the same could be said for Smoltz.

AL Cy Young

  1. Esteban Loaiza (White Sox): Nothing has been more surprising than the brilliant season that journeyman Esteban Loaiza is putting together. With an 11-5 record and an ERA of only 2.21, the Cy Young is Loaiza's to lose at this point. It won't hurt his chances if the Sox can stay in contention for the rest of the season.

  2. Roy Hallyday (Blue Jays): Roy Hallyday has been pretty much the only bright spot on a terrible pitching staff. He has won 13 consecutive decisions after starting the season 0-2. His ERA of 3.41 does not compare with Loaiza's but is good enough to merit Cy Young consideration.

  3. Jamie Moyer (Mariners): Little did the Red Sox know when they traded Moyer for Darren Bragg in 1996 that he would be one of the most successful pitchers in baseball for the next 7 years. The crafty lefthander is 12-5 and has an ERA of 3.02. He could steal some Cy Young votes from Loaiza and Hallyday if the White Sox and Blue Jays fall out of contention. Team success isn't as important in the Cy Young voting as it is in MVP balloting, but it can make a difference. Just ask Pedro and Derek Lowe.

NL Cy Young

  1. Woody Williams (Cardinals): Williams has managed to win 12 games despite pitching for a team whose bullpen has turned blowing saves into an art form. His 3.01 ERA is equally impressive.

  2. John Smoltz (Braves): See above

  3. Dontrelle Willis (Marlins): The rookie phenom is 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA and is not first on my list only because his win total may end up a bit low for Cy Young consideration. Willis will probably start 14 times in the second half. If he can win nine of those, he will get serious consideration for the award.

Rookies of the Year

  • AL - Hideki Matsui (Yankees): I hate to give any award to a member of Ring-Buyers, but Matsui has had a great rookie season both at the plate and in the field. I hope the Yankee fans appreciate Godzilla's .299 average and 66 RBI's, even if the boss doesn't.

  • NL - Dontrelle Willis (Marlins): By a landslide.

Managers of the Year

  • AL - Tony Pena (Royals): I had the Royals pegged for a 90 loss season and here they are running away with a weak AL Central Division. Pena was the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year in 2001 and is a lock to add an American League Manager of the Year Award to his trophy room this season.

  • NL - Bob Brenly (Diamondbacks): The NL race is still wide open, but right now I would have to vote for Brenly. Despite an endless string of injuries, including Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the D-backs have positioned themselves for a Wild Card berth and even a Division title with 70 games remaining in the season. Felipe Alou, Larry Bowa, Bobby Cox and Frank Robinson are all contenders for this award.

May 5, 2003

Celtics Notes

  • To the chagrin of all of their critics, the Celtics advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, defeating the more-talented, but poorly-coached Indiana Pacers in six games. The Celtics had their way with the Pacers after the Game 2 loss in Indianapolis. Boston was never really challenged at home and if not for Tuesday's legendary meltdown, would have taken care of Indiana in five games. Jim O'Brien outcoached Isiah Thomas with X's and O's, motivation and preparation. The Celtics played with heart while the Pacers - save for Ron Artest - did not. That was the difference in the series.
  • Three-point shooting percentage will be one of the key factors in determining Boston's success in any seven game series. Against the Nets, three-point percentage will be even more critical. The New Jersey offense is probably more reliant on the fast break than the Celtics are reliant on the three-point shot and nothing will get Jason Kidd and Company more fast break opportunities (and thus easy buckets) than long rebounds that inevitably follow missed three-pointers. This means that Celtic misfires from the arc will not only cost the Celtics three points, but in many cases will provide New Jersey with an easy two points at the other end of the floor. If the Celtics cannot minimize these five-point swings, they will be in for a long series. If the C's can hit a high percentage of their three-point shots and establish an inside game (thus reducing the number of outside shots), they should have a great shot to upset the Nets, who often seem lost in half court offense. Ironically, Boston's season-best three-point shooting performance (56%) came in their one regular season win over New Jersey. The Celtics shot 32%, 29% and 5% (a season-low) in three losses to the Nets.
  • Just how reliant are the Celtics on the three point shot? Here are some stats:
    • Boston averages 96.1 points per game when they take 28 or more three-pointers. They average only 89.4 points per game when they attempt 25 or fewer trifectas. They average 26 attempts per game.
    • The Celtics are 21-7 when they shoot 34% or better from the three-point arc, but only 10-23 when they convert less than 30% from three point range.
    • Ball movement is clearly a key factor as well. This year, the Celtics were 27-9 in games where they had 20 or more assists. They were 17-29 when they fell below 20.

  • I don't think any professional athlete in history has ever given back part of his salary after a miserable season. It is my strong opinion that Vin Baker should be the first. I'm not sure if anyone has even "stolen" money from an organization quite to the degree that Baker did in 2002-03. Injuries are one thing, but collecting millions while drinking yourself out of your sport in quite another. If Baker has any pride whatsoever, he will offer to give back about 80% of next season's salary, provided the Celtics spend the money to bring in players that will improve the team.
  • Former Celtic Chauncey Billups scored 40 and 37 points in the final two games against Orlando in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to carry his Pistons to a seven game series victory. It took Rick Pitino all of about five minutes to give up on Billips, who the Celtics selected third overall in the infamous 1997 NBA Draft. The Celtics traded Billups for Kenny Anderson then traded Anderson in the deal for Vin Baker. How much does that hurt?
  • I think it is safe to say that the three worst NBA executives of the past ten years all belong to the Celtics. M.L. Carr, Rick Pitino and now Chris Wallace. Given the outrageous incompetence of this trio, we should probably feel blessed that the Celtics have the heart to reach and advance in the Playoffs. Thank you to Paul, Antoine and Coach O'Brien for that.

Other Notes

  • I've set the over/under on the date that the first fan falls off the top of the Green Monster to July 10th. Coincidentally, July 10th is also the over/under for the first date that a Red Sox reliever pitches a 1-2-3 inning.
  • Iowa State head basketball coach Larry Eustachy is on the verge of losing his job after incriminating photos of the 47-year-old coach drinking and partying with college students from the University of Missouri were published last week. Meanwhile, new Alabama head football coach Mike Price was dismissed from his job for putting himself in a questionable situation involving a stripper while at a golf tournament in Florida. Price's actions violated the morals clause included in his contract. I guess Price and Eustachy should have pursued a career where morals are irrelevant ... like politics.
  • If I ever start a techno band, I will have a difficult time deciding whether to call my group Wolf Blitzer or Hans Blix.
  • The most frivilous suit in legal history was filed last month when the Oakland Raiders asked a judge to prevent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from wearing their pirate-themed uniforms while playing games in California because Tampa's logo "is likely to dilute the distinctive quality of the Raiders' mark, thereby lessening its capacity to identify the Raiders and causing irreparable harm that cannot adequately be compensated by an award of damages." The Raiders also sought a similar ban against the Carolina Panthers because Carolina's uniforms include the colors silver and black. It is foolish enough to think that the Buccaneers skull logo infringes on the Raiders "guy with eye patch" logo, but to include the Carolina Panthers in the suit because their uniforms include silver and black proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Al Davis has now reached full-blown senility. Does Davis think he owns the color combination of silver and black? Does Gangster Al feel that he should have control over all things pirate? Compared to this lunacy, Davis' demented claims that there is a league-wide conspiracy against him seem plausible. At this rate, Davis will be having conversations with the endzone pylons by the end of next season. Simply astounding.
  • I've been wondering, if a vampire sucks the blood of a person with high pressure, does the vampire himself get high pressure?
  • Penny Hardaway is the .com stock of the NBA. Maybe the Phoenix Suns should ask for a capital gains loss deduction on Hardaway against the team's salary cap.
  • Has anyone seen "Joe Millionaire" and Java Man in the same place at the same time?
  • It is great to see some new blood in the latter rounds NHL Playoffs. Four of the final eight teams did not even exist in 1990 - the Ducks, Wild, Lightning and Senators. Maybe if the Sens win the Cup they will be able to afford a decent logo.
  • I'm willing to bet that the Mets are trying feverishly to trade for Braves pitcher Jung Bong.

April 10, 2003

  • These have certainly been tense times of late with the country at war and most of the cowardly, inept, envy-stricken world criticizing every move the American government makes. The end of the war is near and that should provide great relief to Americans, no matter what your opinion of the administration's actions. Americans, for or against the War in Iraq, should also be very proud of the job performed by the American Military. These men and women showed great courage, skill, determination and humanity and made sacrifices that most of us will never understand. The War proved that the American Military is not only the most powerful in the world, but also the best trained. The world owes the United States and Great Britain an enormous debt of gratitude for ridding the world of one of the most evil dictators in history (or at least removing him from power). Unfortunately, most of the world's nations are ungrateful weasels so no one in the Armed Forces should hold their breath.
  • There is of course nothing funny about war in itself, but it did provide a backdrop for some comic relief.
    • Is there anything funnier than a watching a collection of war protestors sprawled out on the street, covered in red paint and white makeup pretending to be war victims? Most of these people have their hearts in the right place, but I cannot begin to imagine where their heads are?

    • Almost as funny were the daily appearances of the Iraqi Information Minister. He continued to make outrageous claims that the Americans were being soundly defeated and were not within 100 miles of Baghdad even as American tank artillery could be heard in the background about one-half mile away. This man is a walking, talking Saturday Night Live skit.

    • I think everyone received a chuckle or two from the whole Saddam Hussein lookalike thing. Would a person write "Saddam Hussein Lookalike" on a resume? Are these guys aspiring actors? Did Saddam ever place a call the guy that played him in Hot Shots, Part Deux? I can't think of a better war-related 60 Minutes story than a piece on the Saddam lookalikes.

    • Speaking of jokes, was there a bigger one than Saddam's Republican Guard. The Republican Guard was so pathetic that it makes me wonder if it was not Saddam Hussein, but Colonel Klink running the show.

  • I was thrilled to see that Robert "The Chief" Parish will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. When I first heard the story, I needed to double-check and make sure Parish's induction was for the Basketball Hall of Fame and not the High Times Hall of Fame.
  • Ironically, France is starting to remind me of the University of Notre Dame football program. Both France and Notre Dame still regard themselves as superpowers while the everyone else recognizes that they have fallen deep into the second tier. I guess the difference between the two is that the French Army would never participate in anything as physically demanding or dangerous as a tackle football game.
  • Clearly, Theo Epstein is not well-versed in Red Sox lore. Any true Sox fan knew that picking up longtime Yankee reliever Ramiro Mendoza was exceptionally bad for team karma. Does the name Mike Torrez ring a bell? I imagine that if the Sox had picked up Babe Ruth during Spring Training in 1927, the Babe would have batted .212 with 9 homers that year.
  • I love the addition of the speedy Damian Jackson to the Red Sox bench. It will be a wonderful thing to have a guy that can come off the bench and steal a base in a tight game in the late innings. The Sox haven't had a player like that since ... well, forever.

Now on to the New Idiot List

Martha Burk

Martha Bark (oops, I mean Burk) has become a household name for her endless attacks on Augusta National for not allowing women to be members of its presdigious golf club. Burk's true idiocy stems not so much from the fact that she is attempting to force Augusta to accept female members, but because she equates the private club's exclusion of women to the exclusion of minitories. Any person with a shred of sense knows that those are two very different issues. There are probably thousands of health clubs in the United States that exclude men. I wonder if Martha's group would protest that? I think not.

The Portland Jail Blazers

No team is a bigger waste of god-given talent than the gang of thugs known as the Portland Trail Blazers. Blazer player names have been on the police blotter almost as often as the box score this season. This reminds me of a joke a heard on sports radio this week -- Question: Ruben Patterson, Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire are all in a car, who is driving? Answer: The Police.

San Diego Chargers

I have always rooted for the San Diego Chargers, from the great teams of Dan Fouts to the lovable losers of recent years. That is why I was deeply disappointed when the Bolts spent $47 million to sign former Ohio State dirtbag (funny how those last three words always seem to end up together) David Boston. Apparently, Boston's drunk driving arrest and positive tests for both cocaine and marijuana didn't scare away a San Diego team longing for offensive firepower. To sum it all up: Junior Seau out; David Boston in (at least after his four game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy). What is wrong with the world?

United States Basketball Olympic Selection Committee

They are idiots for even suggesting that Allen Iverson be invited to play on the United States Olympic Basketball Team. Iverson is clearly one of the twelve best American players in the NBA, but how can anyone suggest that he is the type of person we want representing our country?

The New York Rangers

For the sixth consecutive season the New York Rangers, with the highest payroll in the league, will fail to earn a spot in the National Hockey League Playoffs (let's not forget that more than half of the league qualifies for the NHL playoffs). Given the consistent failures on the ice and their bulging bank account, I would have to say that the Rangers are the most poorly run organization in all of professional sports, including the Cincinnati Bengals.


The French remain at #5 on the Idiot list. Not only have the Cheese-eating surrender monkeys (as Homer Simpson calls them) stabbed America in the back to protect their own self-interests, now they have indicated that they will withhold humanitarian aid that would go to the Iraqi people. We can only hope they don't trade the humanitarian aid for wine, cheese and Jerry Lewis DVDs.

Pedro Martinez

I can't believe that I'm saying this: Pedro Martinez is acting like a first class idiot. Pedro has cried and whined about one thing or another since the day he arrived in Boston, but most of what he has said in the past has been excused because of what he has given the Red Sox and their fans on the mound. Pedro's comments of late, however, are inexcusable and cannot be ignored. He complained all Spring because the Red Sox had not exercised his 2004 option for $17.5 million, claiming in the press that he might leave the Red Sox at the end of his contract if they didn't exercise the option by Opening Day. In an amazing show of good faith (and probably poor judgement) the Sox exercised the option a season early, putting themselves squarely on the line for an extra $17.5 million if Pedro suffers a career-ending injury this season. No franchise that I can recall has done such a favor for an athlete. Shockingly, Pedro responded to this unique show of good faith by complaining even more because the Red Sox have not extended his contact beyond 2004 (Pedro will earn $32.5 million over the next two years). All this while the country is in the middle of a war. His comments make no sense other than to illustrate that he has become one of the greediest, most spoiled players in all of professional sports. I for one, am getting tired of this garbage and I imagine that the Red Sox are too.

Martin Sheen

We have heard plenty of anti-war sentiment (or more appropriately, grandstanding) over the past few months from loud-mouthed celebrities, including Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks and Sean Penn. For some reason, these people feel the need to step out of their limos and mansions to explain to all of us why they know so much about the plight of the underprivleged. Among these celebrities, no one has been more annoying than Martin Sheen. Sheen endlessly criticizes the Bush administration and never fails to find the cameras while doing so. What I find hardest to believe is that a man who cannot even properly raise his own son (Charlie's exploits are legendary) feels that he has the right to tell others how to run an entire country. Maybe his role as the President on The West Wing has gone to his head.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Selection Committee

Last month, you heard me sound off on the atrocious job done by this year's Committee, led by Chairman Jim Livengood. The Committee's snub of Boston College in favor Alabama was easily the most ludicrous selection any committee has ever made. So outrageous in fact, that I think there is a legitimate reason to believe that someone was paying off a favor. There was also the BYU debacle and the bizarre placement of #3 seed Syracuse closer to home in the Regional Semifinals and Finals than #2 Pittsburgh, a move that helped pave the way for a Syracuse Championship and an early exit for Pitt.

Flag Burners

I don't have a huge problem with American citizens protesting the War in Iraq. The "do nothing and hope it all works out" platform doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I can appreciate someone's right to peacefully and legally make their opinions heard. After all, what could be more American, or a better example of freedom, than that? What I cannot tolerate is Americans burning American flags as a form of protest. The American flag represents the hard work of the people that built this country and those that have given their lives to protect it. Words cannot fully describe the contempt and utter disgust that I feel for American citizens who purposely burn the Stars and Stripes. The only down side of our freedom is that is gives ungrateful human garbage the right to commit such an act. I think it is safe to say that if you are at the stage where you are burning an American flag, it is time to find a new place to live. I hear France is nice this time of year.

March Madness Notes - March 19, 2003

  • I was literally shaking in anger after the NCAA Tournament brackets were unveiled on Sunday night. I could not believe my eyes - NC State, Gonzaga, Auburn and Alabama in; Boston College and Seton Hall out. NC State had a lower RPI, more total losses, a far worse road record, a weaker record down the stretch and a poorer conference record than BC. Add to that the fact that the Wolfpack lost to BC on their own home court. The only advantage NC State had on paper was one more win against the RPI Top 50 (2-8 vs BC's 1-5). You see, it's all about politics and the Committee never fails to kiss a little ACC rear end whenever possible. Then there's Alabama. The Crimson Tide were 7-9 and in 8th place in the SEC (Scandal Everyday Conference). They are 7-10 since the 10th on January, finished 1-8 on the road and didn't even reach the quarterfinals in their conference tournament, losing in the first round to an awful Vanderbilt team. Yet the Committee decided to take the 8th best team in the 12-school SEC over not one, but two teams tied for third in the 14-team Big East because the Tide won a few games over some good teams three months ago. Apparently, the Committee thinks Bama's 5-7 record against the RPI Top 50 is so stellar that it erases the fact that they fail in every other category. Auburn didn't exactly light the world on fire either, finishing 5-9. The scary part is that Alabama is seeded 10th which leads you to believe that they were far from the last team to get in. Would the Tide have been in had they finished 6-10 in conference play? 5-11?

TeamRPIOverallConf RecRoad RecLast 10RPI Top 50
Seton Hall4217-1210-63-77-32-7
NC State5318-129-73-75-52-8
  • To be honest, I wasn't overly surprised to see NC State's name on the brackets, especially after listening to Dick Vitale lobby for them nonstop for two days. But, Alabama's inclusion (and seeding) is bizzare. So bizzare in fact that even Dick Vitale was critical of the selection and he thinks everybody deserves to be in the Tournament. The fact that Alabama is in the NCAA Tournament tells me that one of two things be true:
    • Someone on the Committee has a connection to Alabama or owed them a favor.
    • Someone (or some group of people) on the Committee has an axe to grind with the Big East.

  • Unfortunately, the NCAA seems to encourage incompetence and favoritism so we will probably never know why this happened.
  • Once my anger subsided, I searched the internet for Selection Committee Chairman Jim Livengood's phone number, which I found on the University of Arizona's web site. I called Livengood's office, but of course received his voice mail. I left a message voicing my shock and chagrin and told him that "I hope Alabama's check clears." I didn't get a return phone call. Big shock.
  • The other villian in this whole mess is Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. Over the past decade, Tranghese has turned the Big East from one of the premier basketball conferences into a conference where a team can be four games over .500 in league play and be left out of the Tourney in favor of teams like Butler, Gonzaga and Southern Illinois. The Big East was once thought of as one of the six power conferences (along with the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac Ten and SEC). The fact that two teams could finish 10-6 in conference play (one a division leader) and both be left out of the NCAA Tournament tells me that there are now five power conferences with the Big East in limbo next to Conference USA and the Atlantic-10. Tranghese's weakness and inability to fight for his teams has occurred regularly over the past ten years. Three years ago, Notre Dame was able to steal a football BCS Bowl spot from Virginia Tech (among others). In 2001, Boston College was 26-4 and won the Big East Regular Season and Conference Tournament, yet was given a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This year, Pittsburgh duplicated BC's effort and wasn't even considered for a #1 seed. Then there is the fact that Notre Dame was allowed to join the Big East in basketball without being required to join in football. I could go on for days on this subject. I think it is clear that the Big East needs a change in leadership immediately.
  • The Selection Committee's seemingly endless supply of blunders didn't stop with the BC's snub:
    • The clear-cut top two teams in the country (Kentucky and Arizona) were placed on the same side of the bracket and will meet in the National Semifinals, not the Finals, should they both reach the Final Four. Committee Chairman Livengood claimed that this was done because Kentucky would play their Regional games in Minneapolis which is closer to Kentucky than San Antonio (850 miles away vs 1,150 miles away). Does he really expect people to drive to these locations or does he think the extra 30 minutes of flight time will keep Kentucky fans from attending?
    • Texas was given a #1 seed instead of Kansas even though the Jayhawks won the regular season title, advanced one extra round in the Big XII Tournament and beat Texas during the season. The Committee componded its mistake by matching Texas, the weakest #1 seed, with the winner of the play-in game which matches the two weakest teams in the tournament.
    • Pittsburgh, a #2 seed out of the Big East, would play their Regional games far away from home in Minneapolis, while #3 seed Syracuse would stay very close to home in Albany, New York.
    • Worst of all though is the Committee's montruous blunder of setting up BYU with a possible Sunday game in the Regional Finals. For religious reasons, BYU will not play on a Sunday. This means that should the Cougars advance to the Sweet Sixteen, they would need to be switched with a team in another bracket. The best part of this is that Selection Committee Jim Livengood is a BYU graduate. I think it is safe to say that Jim Livengood is the dumbest man on the planet.

  • The NCAA is certainly not doing its job if it does not remove Livengood from the Selection Committee before next year's selection process.
  • What is wrong with Billy Packer? He interviewed Livengood and his biggest issue was that Texas Tech was not invited to the Tournament. Texas Tech? Bob Knight's Red Raiders were 6-10 in conference play, but Billy thought that they should be in ahead of BC and Seton Hall? Thank god that clown isn't on the committee.
  • I am also sick of hearing how Butler was snubbed last year. I am certainly of the opinion that RPI is overrated but Butler's was RPI of 77 last year was too high for consideration. I think their biggest win was a two point victory over Waltham High School. Yet television commentators continue to talk about the injustice of Butler being kept out last March. It amazes me how these people jump on the soapbox without doing any research.
  • I think it is now time for the NCAA Tournament to expand to 68 teams. This setup would increase the number of 16/17 play-in games in four - one in each region. With this year's at large selection of Butler, Gonzaga and Southern Illinois, the Committee has demostrated the desire to include more teams from the so-called mid-major conferences. In the expansion to 68 teams, I would add a requirement that the Committee must choose at least two at large teams from mid major conferences provided that those teams have an RPI of 75 or less. With more good teams in the mid-major conferences, the overall quality of teams in the NCAA Tournament would not suffer with three additional at-large teams. The second benefit of a 68-team NCAA Tournament would be that the first rounds 2 vs 15 and 1 vs 16 games would be more competitive because the teams that are now 14 seeds would be 15's and the teams that are 15 seeds now would be tougher 16's.
  • Finally, I couldn't end this version of my notes without commenting on the horrible state of officiating in the Big East conference. Nearly every time I tuned in for a Big East game this season, the performance of the officials was putrid. In a game in January, the referees absolutely handed a key Big East game to Notre Dame at Conte Forum. Had the Eagles won that day, as they deserved to, they would probably be in the Tournament (though even 11-5 in the conference may not have been good enough for Dopey Livengood). Georgetown's Craig Esherick nearly blew his stack on numerous occasions and every coach in the league outside of the favorite sons Calhoun and Boeheim have a reason to criticize the league's officiating. Hopefully, this problem will be dealt with before next season.

Idiot List - February 20, 2003

Basketball Court-stormers.

I miss the days when the act of storming the court by fans at a college basketball game was reserved for momentous occasions, such as winning a championship or when a downtrodden program toppled one of its chief rivals. These days, any victory seems to be a reason for fans to rush the court. Recently, I saw the St. Louis Billiken fans rush the court after a victory over Louisville, a team that hasn't won a meaningful game since the Reagan administration. Just about every night some set of fans at some college in America is storming the court after a relatively meaningless win. Give it a rest people.

LeBron James' Mother

With all of the attention and hero-worship that is coming his way, I imagine that LeBron James must have an ego the size of Alaska. As we have seen in the past, the careers and lives of many promising young athletes have come crashing down because people of that age are typically not mature enough to handle the inevitable criticism after years and years of listening to everyone tell them how great they are. You would think that the one person in the world who would make the effort to keep LeBron's ego in check would be his mother. Well, think again. LeBron's mother decided that what her eighteen year old son needed was a $50,000 Hummer, complete with three televisions, so she bought him one for his birthday (with his future earnings of course). It seems that Mom is more eager to get her hands on her son's money than anyone.

Hummer Owners

There are only two reasons why someone would drive a Hummer: (1) You are in the military. (2) You are an arrogant, obnoxious idiot. Let me first say, that I have no problem with people who drive SUV's. Granted, they are a safety hazard to the rest of us, but I am willing to accept that they are very practical for many people, specifically those people with clildren and those who live in climates with a lot of snow. However, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be driving around in one of those gigantic, status-symbol, overcompensate for some shortcoming SUV's and Hummers that are about four times the size of a typical midsize sedan. Hummers, Escalades and the rest of the "cars" in the terrorist funding program are the bane of every other driver's existence, especially when the driver of one of those tanks is wielding a cell phone, which seems to be the case about 90% of the time.

Jeremy Shockey

Jeremy Shockey embodies the traits of so many NFL players arriving via the University of Miami football program: arrogance, lack of class, lack of intelligence and a ton of physical talent. Shockey spent the better part of the season dancing around and taunting his opponents. So much for rookies knowing their place. On the sidelines, Shockey amused himself by throwing objects at the fans. Off the field, he has been in trouble numerous times and I'm sure that will only escalate as as time goes on. I suspect that just about every defensive back in the league will have Shockey on their hit list next season.

Matt Millen

As anyone who has read my Random Notes in the past knows, I am not a big fan of Matt Millen. Millen was a dirty football player, a horrendous commentator and is now living up to his billing as a god-awful NFL executive. Millen's latest mental blunder was his failure to abide by NFL rules and interview an African-American candidate for the Lions head coaching job that eventually became Steve Mariucci's. Millen claimed that five African-American head coaches turned down an opportunity to interview for the job. Now, it is possible that the Lions will be penalized by the NFL because of Millen's idiocy. But can you really blame Millen? He can't count past five.


It so pains me that France has such a major voice in the decisions made by the United Nations. Whenever there is conflict, the French cower with their tails between their legs. Whenever there is funding needed, the French government zips their wallet tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge. The only time France ever gets involved is when they want to criticize someone else's policies. If rudeness and perversion were weapons of mass destruction, it would be France and not Iraq that the rest of the World would need to worry about. I wish there was a way to get this pathetic second world country to shut its trap.

George Steinbrenner

Big George gets the 4th slot on this month's idiot list for criticizing Derek Jeter. I, of course, am a hater of all things Yankee, but I have always had a deep respect for Derek Jeter. With the exception of money, Jeter has been the single most important factor in New York's success over the past seven years. He has been the catalyst for the team's offense and a quarterback on defense, bailing the Yankees out time and time again. George's criticism of his best all around player is dumbfounding. Then again, that's George being George.

Manhattanville Basketball Player Toni Smith

In case you don't know, Toni Smith is the basketball player that has gained national fame for turning her back on the American flag during the national anthem played before each basketball game. Although I wholeheartedly defend her right to do what she does, her act sickens me. There are plenty of anti-war protesters, but few would condone turning their back on the American flag. Protest is one thing, disrespect for America is another. The irony is that the very flag from which she is turning her back is the same one that represents her right to turn her back. I also doubt that Ms. Smith understands that if she were to pull the same stunt in Iraq, the country that she is evidently so eager to protect, she would undoubtedly be tortured for her actions.

Jeremy Jacobs

The Bruins miserly owner is a guaranteed first ballot Idiot List Hall of Famer. I'm sure that you have read many of my verbal attacks on the man that forced me to abandon my once beloved Bruins at the beginning of this season. The latest talented young player to be forced out of town because of money is Kyle McLaren, who was traded to the Sharks as part of a three team deal in January. McLaren joins Guerin, Allison, Carter and others on the long list of players the greedy Jacobs has let go because they asked for market value contracts. The disgraceful Jacobs is succeeding in ruining one of the great franchises in sports. It's sad ... very sad.

Kevin Brown

No one fits the profile of idiot better than Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown. Last week Brown rolled into Spring Training late with no excuse other than that he wanted to spend more time with his family. There is of course nothing wrong with a man wanting to be with his family, but this is a hollow excuse. Brown has had four and a half uninterrupted months to spend with his family yet he cannot arrive on time for his $2 million per month job. What's worse, Brown has been injured for the better part of the last two seasons so, if anything, he should be arriving to Spring Training early. Brown has won a whopping 13 games in the past two years ($2.3 million per win in case you a wondering). Let's also not forget that part of Brown's $15 million per year contract stipulates that he is allowed to leave the team a few times per year. What a team player. Kevin Brown embodies everything that is wrong with today's pro athlete and that is why he is the #1 idiot in the World of Sports this month.

January 29, 2003

  • There is of course no sure thing in sports gambling, but the Bucs +4 in the Superbowl was the closest thing that I have seen. Unfortunately for me, I was not in the vicinity of Las Vegas last week and I still do not trust online sports books so I was not able to cash in. One of the more interesting proposition bets last week was 35-1 odds to bet on Tampa to win by 25 to 30 points. In case you don't know, the objective for those folks setting the point spread is to choose a line in which half of the bettors will choose each team. The fact that the line didn't move more than 1/2 point during Superbowl Week tells me that these people did their job correctly. However, how could the general betting public possibly think that the Raiders were a better team on a neutral field than the Bucs?
  • First of all, the Bucs were coming off a convincing win over one of the best in teams in football on the road. Without the benefit of a couple of late first half fumbles by the Titans, the Raiders may have lost to a somewhat average and injury-riddled Tennessee team at home. Secondly, most football fans would agree that a great defense will stop a great offense. In last year's Superbowl a solid, though unspectacular, Patriots defense was able to subdue the Rams potent offense for most of the game. Third, John Gruden probably knows Oakland's tendencies better than anyone, even the Raiders themselves. The fact that Oakland was favored baffles me, but I can only assume that most of that occured because Oakland is a more popular and well-known team than Tampa Bay and therefore would be the more popular pick for those who don't follow NFL football that closely. The bigger the game, the more bets that are made by the casual fan.
  • The referees wasted little time in making fools of themselves in the Superbowl. On Oakland's second kickoff, I was practically able to make a sandwich between the time Lee Stecker's knee touched the ground and the time the ball came out of his hand, yet the refs ruled the play a fumble and forced Tampa Bay to waste one of their two challenges. Later in the game, the zebras called pass interference against Oakland on a Johnson throw that was at least five yards out of bounds. Yao Ming could not have caught that ball. There was also confusion on the coin flip as to who was the home team. The NFL is multi-billion dollar business, yet they will not hire full-time, competent referees. It's mindboggling. Thank god for instant replay.
  • Having said that, I still must commend Walt Coleman for knowing the tuck rule in last year's Pats-Raiders Playoff game. I'm willing to bet that 90% of NFL officials would have blown that call.
  • One of my favorite Superbowl moments was seeing Al Davis (aka Al Soprano) nearly asleep late in the second quarter. It was nearly 8pm, which I'm guessing is well past his bedtime.
  • What was the deal with the annoying NFL logo painted on the net used to keep field goals and extra points out of the stands? I am so glad that the NFL decided to unveil that bright idea this season and not last year. Can you imagine how the great highlight of Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-winning field goal in last year's Superbowl would have been tainted if we had been limited to an obscured view of the kick through an obnoxious NFL logo? I hope the person that came up with that idea is looking for a new job this week.
  • I wonder if Raiders Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan and Head Coach Bill Callahan go out to bars and try to pick up chicks by telling them that they are Gary Busey and Beau Bridges.

  • Greg Spires. Why don't we get players like this? (Copyright, Bob Lobel)
  • Oakland rioted when the Raiders won. Oakland rioted when the Raiders lost. Nice to see that the people of Oakland show the same amount of class win or lose.

January 15, 2003

  • If the Raiders and Eagles do meet in the Superbowl, is it possible that the game is just a front for a giant law enforcement sting operation. Of 50,000 or so Raider and Eagle fans expected to show up in San Diego, I'm sure at least 40,000 have outstanding warrants. I wonder if cops will show up at Superbowl events pretending to be Jim Plunkett and Harold Carmichael, not unlike the scene in Sea of Love where Al Pacino's character traps criminals by impersonating Phil Rizzuto.
  • The fact that a mediocre Ohio State team could win a National Championship is another indictment on the current BCS system. In winning 7 games by 7 points or less, avoiding Iowa and taking advantage of five turnovers, an injury to Miami's best player and a bad call in the Championship Game, the Luckeyes managed to take home the still-mythical championship. But, clearly Ohio State could not have survived a 16 or even 8 team tournament. I'm not claiming that the best team always needs to win the championship, but they should be required to beat more than one good opponent over the course of the season to claim the title.
  • When it comes to college football, crime does in fact pay. In the 1980's and early 1990's, the University of Miami became synonymous with criminal activity and took home four National Championships. In the mid-1990's, no college team had more players on the police blotter than Nebraska but coach Osbourne turned the other way and the Huskers won three titles. Over the past couple of years, Ohio State has led the NCAA in player arrests and guess what ... they are now the National Champions. It would be nice if the NCAA would show some guts and crack down on degenerate programs like Ohio State, but I suppose that is about as likely to happen as an NCAA Division 1-A Football Tournament.
  • I ran into Vin Baker at the park the other day. We played some one-on-one hoops and I beat him by two points. He blamed the refs.
  • Speaking of blaming the refs, I heard Phil Jackson complaining about the referees after a recent Lakers loss. Phil, give me a break! About four of your championships (and two of the last three) were won almost exclusively because of fortuitous officiating. Phil Jackson complaining about NBA officiating is like Enimem complaining about offensive lyrics.
  • I imagine that players and coaches from the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks wake up screaming in the middle of the night thinking about the possibility of facing a #7 or #8 seeded Lakers team in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
  • Dick Stockton is now well into his fourth decade of horrendous broadcasting. Last Saturday, he called the Eagles the 76ers, then later in the game showed his utter lack of knowledge when he needed someone to tell him that the punting team cannot recover a fumble by the receiving team when the punting team is the first to touch the ball. I still can't believe that this clown landed a BC girl.
  • Big AL East questions heading into Spring Training.

    • Will the Red Sox trade Shea Hillenbrand for a pitcher?
    • Will the Orioles young talent finally blossom?
    • Who will be the Yankees 8th starter?

  • News flash: The Tigers, Devil Rays and Royals have been eliminated from the 2003 Playoffs.
  • Humorous LA moment. I saw a nativity scene outside of a house in Pasadena just before Christmas. It featured Baby Jesus, Mary and Mickey Mouse. Only in California ...
  • B-list celebrity sighting. On my recent flight from LA to Chicago was none other than 'Booger' from Revenge of the Nerds (aka 'Herbert Viola' from Moonlighting). I almost didn't recognize him because I had never seen the guy clean shaven and, as my friend John pointed out, over 30 years old.
  • Is it my imagination or is CSI (Original or Miami) on about nine times per week. I imagine that CBS will milk this for about as long as it takes to have a CSI: Waltham.

January 1, 2003

  • The final Sunday was bittersweet for the Patriots. On the positive side, they won the game that almost everyone in New England thought they couldn't win. On the negative side, the win was not enough to enable the World Champions to get into the Playoffs and defend their title. On the positive side, New England's win knocked the hated Dolphins out of the Playoffs. On the negative side, the win knocked the even more hated Jets into the Playoffs. On the positive side, we can take solace in the fact that the 9-7 Patriots did not really deserve to make the Playoffs. On the negative side, neither did the 9-7 Jets, who the Pats outscored by a combined 61-37 in their head-to-head battles this year. On the positive side, Kevin Faulk has emerged as a major offensive and special teams weapon. On the negative side, the Pats need to upgrade in at least six positions on the offensive line and defensive front seven.
  • When the Buffalo Bills choked away their Week One game with the Jets, I just knew it would somehow come back to haunt the Patriots.
  • I am totally sickened by the collection of ingrates that called WEEI Sports Radio the week before the Dolphins game to vehemently bash the Patriots. Have you clowns forgotten what happened last January? We're all disappointed and the team deserves some criticism, but some of you are completely out of control. The Patriots suffered one injury after another this season and still managed a 9-7 record and came within a third tie-breaker of winning the division title. Yes, they could have and should have been better this season, but after last year, no one has any right to rip this team. If the Patriots are so upsetting to all of you digruntled fans, maybe you should root for another team. I hear that the Detroit Lions are accepting applications.
  • Speaking of the Lions, Matt Millen is now 5-27 as Detroit's General Manager. This is very surprising. That is about three more wins than I thought the Lions would have under Millen through two seasons.
  • Question: Which of these players is the All-Pro Quarterback?

    • A. Chad Pennington -- 3,120 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT
    • B. Tom Brady -- 3,764 yards, 28 TD, 14 INT
    • C. Peyton Manning -- 4,200 yards, 27 TD, 19 INT
    Well, the answer is (C). Hard to believe.

  • Isn't it about time that Dave Wannstedt is inducted into the Bad Coaches Hall of Fame? The Dolphins have the best defense in the AFC and this season picked up an 1,800 yard running back, yet Wannstedt still couldn't get the 'Phins into the Playoffs in the mediocre AFC. Against the Patriots, the Dolphins had the ball on first down with 2:30 left in the game and ahead by three points. Ricky Williams had sliced through the Pats defense like a hot knife through butter all day. What does Coach Dave do? Three straight incomplete passes and a late Christmas present for the New York Jets.
  • I think we now know that Jay Fielder did not get accepted to Dartmouth because of his brain. Against the Patriots, Fiedler used a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty with his team on its own 1/2 yard line. Jay, next time you are in that situation, save the timeout and take the 9 inch penalty. While I'm on the subject, is there anything on the planet more overrated than the Ivy League? Well, maybe the 2002 Notre Dame football team.
  • Adam Vinatieri improved his career field goal accuracy to 81.7% by hitting 27 of 30 this year. He has never missed a field goal inside a dome (27 for 27) or in overtime (11 for 11). Last season, he made the greatest clutch kick in NFL history when he nailed the game-tying field goal in the snow against the Raiders and then topped it all off by winning the Superbowl on the game's final play. Vinatieri's numbers compare favorably to all of the game's top kickers of all time, many of which played the majority of their games inside dome stadiums.
  • Clearly, the Patriots have several holes to fill. They need a big, physical receiver, a couple of offensive linemen, two new linebackers, another interior defensive linemen and some depth at cornerback. But most of all, they need a pass rush specialist. The Patriots have ended each season for the last 15 years needing to fill this patricular hole and each year they failed to deliver. Please, for the love of Andre Tippett, do what it takes to find us a legitimate pass rusher.
  • My 2002 NFL Awards

    • Biggest Choke -- No, not the Dolphins. It's the New Orleans Saints who lost their last three games to teams with a combined record of 11-32. Two of those games were at home! Last year, the Saints lost their final four games by a combined score of 160-52 after heading into Week 14 with a record of 7-5.
    • Most Amazing Play -- Michael Vick's 50-yard TD run through the entire Vikings defense in overtime.
    • MVP -- Rich Gannon, by a landslide. I wonder who whiny Raider fans will blame this year if Oakland blows it in the Playoffs?
    • Rookie of the Year -- Jeremy Shockey. With all due respect to Shockey's old teammate Clinton Portis, 74 receptions for 894 yards from a rookie tight end is quite amazing.
    • Player I'd Most like to Club Over the Head with a 2 by 4 -- Jeremy Shockey. Shockey is as arrogant as he is good. As usual, Miami = No Class. Lifetime Achievement Award in this category goes to Randy Moss. Nothing sums up Moss better than the game against Atlanta last month when, as the Vikings were frantically trying to tie the game (or take the lead) with under one minute left in the fourth quarter, Moss strutted around showing off for the crowd and pointing to his biceps after a catching a five-yard pass. Winning the game was obviously the last thing on Randy's mind.
    • Most Amazing Current Streak -- Brett Favre is now 35-0 in games where the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or less. Unreal.
    • Most Amazing Streak to End -- Tampa Bay's win over the Bears was their first in 22 games when the gametime temperature is below 40 degrees. This will be a huge confidence boost for the Bucs if they have to travel to Philly for the NFC Championship Game.
    • Most Improved Patriot -- Kevin Faulk. Faulk rushed for 5.2 yards per carry and caught 37 passes this year, but I suspect that he will become much bigger part of the offense next season. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season.
    • Most Disappointing Patriot -- Donald Hayes. Hayes averaged 59 catches for the Carolina Panthers over the past two seasons, but hauled in only 12 passes for a meager 133 yards this year.

Notes Archive

Superbowl XXXIX
Superbowl XXXVIII
NFL Sunday

March Madness
Red Sox