Sunday, October 21, 2007


We've wanted to Believe in You, J.D. Drew

Thanks for finally coming through.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Don't Mess with Bill

Over the course of a wild off-season, we watched Reche drop from the top to the fringes of the Patriot's depth chart. At the beginning of camp, my father predicted that Caldwell would end up among the team's final roster cuts. "I betcha Bill (Belichick) decided, after watching that tape, that he didn't want Reche Caldwell to make the team this year," my father speculated, "and he's been loading up on receivers ever since to make sure that happens." In defense of his position, my dad pointed out the hallmark of Patriot players during the Belichick era: when the stakes are highest, these players step up their performance and exceed expectations. By missing two "easy" catches (as perhaps unfairly deemed by the couch experts, but wide open, nonetheless) in the second half of last season's AFC championship game, Reche did not fit what we have come to expect as "the mold". He inspired resentment within the hearts of Patriots fans, and quite likely a quiet rage within Bill himself.

In the past I've seen the Patriots release good players early out of courtesy. When the numbers indicate little chance of making the final cut, Bill will often let a veteren go with plenty of time for him to stick on another squad. The timing of this cut was intentionally cruel. Here is where B.B. struck his revenge for missing a fourth Super Bowl in six years. Bill knows better than most when the worst time to be cut is, and it's not quite when most would think... See, he could have made the call the other day. Instead, he made Reche believe he had made the team. He let him relax for two days while teams around the league scrambled to find room for the best of the rest made available on Saturday. Only then, when the final sqeezing had already been done by most teams, did he let the gauntlet fall. Sure, it's likely that the Jets or the Chargers might make a run for him, hoping for a little insight in their upcoming matchups, but they won't be able to do it without losing some other key cog... and Reche won't catch onto a team in time to actually play this week, and perhaps even the next few.

Somewhere in the back of B.B.'s mind is the grim satisfaction that he got even, and the added sense of security that this player that he could not trust with the game on the line is no longer on his team. Somewhere in the back of Reche's mind is an angle we never saw of those two balls, coming at him over and over and over again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


O Sweet Wild Thang

The following planned posts have been cancelled: The Great Closer Debate: Parts II & III, due to the official appointment of A CLOSER. As long, of course, as this is reliable information, and Curt does seem to have the inside track for information here. (thanks Ernie, for the head-up!)

Don't worry, kids, there's still a ton of stuff to write about!

Oh, like I suppose y'all wanna know what I think of all this, and who's gonna take Pappy's spot in the rotation, etc. Of course.

To be honest, I'm surprised. I think this decision was helped along by a fair amount of begging by sir John, for one thing. Maybe his curve isn't coming along as well as he'd like, or maybe he misses the adrenaline rush that comes with the role... it does take a certain temperment. Maybe John got suckered into the media hype and actually began to fear that without him in the ninth, his team was doomed. Poor kid IS young and impressionable, you know.

I've been told by more than one chiropractor that I am not strong enough to do all the things I am doing on a semi-occasional basis (i.e. lifting ladders and paint buckets and whatnot) and that I really oughta work out a certain muscle group so I can do all these things without injury or fatigue. It seems there was a similar type of situation with some of Jonathan's shoulder muscles and thank the great flying spaghetti monster that he is slightly less lazy and/or slightly more committed to his career than I am. He has actually taken their advice, and (so it has been claimed) built up said group of muscles to the point where there is now no longer any danger in using him with a closer's frequency.

Do I think this is true? Sure. But more importantly, Pappy has learned (the hard way) the importance of taking a day off, and is a lot more likely to take himself out of consideration if feeling fatigued. There was a time last summer when he was the only thing we could call out of the bullpen with any confidence, and we can't let that happen again. Those guys need to step up and demonstrate themselves capable of getting outs (ahem, is this not what they are being paid for) so we don't get in the habit of relying on the kid too much again. That extra out in the eighth we needed from him so many times last year may not seem like much to us, but I'm sure having to sit for awhile after a quick warm-up puts unnecessary strain on the arm.

In short, I think this could work very well for us, as long as we get good production out of our other relievers AND the slot he has abandoned in the rotation. If it does work, I think Pappy's hooked on the rush of the save, and could command big bucks for it his entire career. Would he have developed into an even better starter? We may never know OR theo may make the move to find out as soon as Hansen or Delcarmen or the young aussie kid Cox shows up ready to take over.

As for the starting slot, I think this could make for an interesting April. I would prefer they just throw Kyle Snyder in there, but I have a feeling they'll give Julie a crack at it first, and we might get better quality out of him there as opposed to out of the 'pen. Kyle will be happy to compete and not land on the waiver wire, I'm guessing, and Tavarez will likely feel slighted if he doesn't get the chance, making this a better move for clubhouse dynamics. In the long run, assuming no injuries, this job actually belongs to Jon Lester... and you can be sure a certain Texan just sharpened his focus in this direction as well.

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The Great Closer Debate - Part I: The Obvious Suspects

I haven't been with you, my friends, for quite some time, and the writing topics have been swooping around my brain lately, eying me curiously to check if I'm dead. Not so. Although I HAVE wondered if my blogging days were... but I miss it, and I miss you, my digital friends, and I realize it more with each word I type.
As it's often happened in the past, I started typing a comment to some kind of article or post, and three paragraphs later decided I'm better off just writing a post of my own. The thing that's been holding me back from blogging of late is a feeling that I lack the expertise in sports analysis to be helpful - yet I also lack the talent to be truly side-splittingly funny as so many of my fellow bloggers are, so why do people bother reading? In so many ways I trouble that my opinions are just stating the obvious, and then I wonder why the obvious isn't being stated... Well I haven't been reading blogs lately, that's probably why.

Anyway, I've been pondering about the closer situation lately, just like everyone else in Red Sox Nation, and as usual I've become disgusted with the lack of creativity and doomsday mentality brought to this issue by our typical WEEI-caller-type fans as well as national beat-writers. Oh, what a shock, the more obvious veteran candidates brought in to compete for the job have been inconsistant at best, each with outings that could kill a vote of confidence from the guy's own grandmother. It's easy for us to look at the pitching line and automatically float a guy out on our mental waiver wire, but we don't really know what's going on. There's a lot happening in Florida, and winning is not a priority- nor is looking good. Major adjustments are being made on the mound in every area from mechanics to communication, and what we've seen in the last few weeks may bear little resemblance to what we will know about our bullpen by June.

Still we must speculate.

The Obvious Suspects

Mike Timlin

There's something quite fortifying about the bad-assery that IS Mike Timlin, striding across the outfield to begin the eighth inning. That's right, eighth. Somehow the magic aura fades away if we save him for the ninth. He just doesn't inspire the same "gotta bed of coals? where? here, take my shoes" kind of confidence that we got spoiled with last year. You know, the kind that made us scribble GAME OVER in our mental notebooks as the first notes of our closer's song played on the loudspeakers. Maybe I ought to take a magnifying glass to the numbers, but it just doesn't feel like Timlin closes the door, and isn't that what a "closer" is supposed to do? If we bring him in with two men on base, one of them will score. If we give him a clean slate, he's sure to let one or two on just to pump us all up before he fans the last batter to get out of the inning.

On the other hand, it sure does make me feel safer just to know he's packin' out there in the 'pen, ready to march out to the mound at any time and shoot a glare over to the guy at the plate. Lately this league had created demand for the role of "set-up man", something Mike seems better suited for. It also better compliments his less visible role as "backbone" of the bullpen. Since he will be starting the season on the DL, I don't think we'll be seeing Timlin close a game until May, and we all hope someone better has emerged by then.

Julian Tavarez

Julie sure had a tough crowd when he first got here, and it would be heartwarming to see him redeem first impressions by becoming someone we rely on and cheer for loudest. But I don't think that's going to happen. He certainly has the fire required to close, but perhaps too much; he can tends to self-destruct or even spontaneously combust in a tight spot... not what we need for a nightcap in RSN, I assure you. He has shown flashes of brilliance both internationally and for the Red Sox in the past year, but in a starting role; this makes me suspect Julian needs his full arsenal to be effective, which pitchers need more time to warm up for and often don't use in short relief stints.

Tito may try him out to start the season, but Tavarez will likely blow two out of ten save attempts if (he gets the chance) before someone else rises to the top. Then he will settle into the role he is best suited for, long relief fireman.

Brenden Donnelly

Remember, dude's only here because the Angel's bullpen has too many untouchables to fit him in. Not a power pitcher, but he finesses with the best and wants the ball when the game's on the line, much like our old friend Keith Foulke. Some say that Donnelly's lost a step, but his gamer attitude should fit well in Boston. He will be a key cog for us, but more likely in the sixth and seventh innings.

Joel Pineiro

It's hard to predict what will happen with Joel, considering he has gone through his delivery like an Extreme Makeover plastic surgeon with a scalpel this Spring. All we can do is look at his last two years' numbers and HOPE that if he changes absolutely everything, he'll get much different results. Sure, Joel could be our next closer. Theoretically, anything could happen, and it will take the first two months of the season to assess what we have here. By June we ought to see Joel mopping up meaningless innings and on the trading block, hanging out at Blockbuster while on the DL for a "sore shoulder", riding the waiver wire, or buffing up the last bit of polish on his new role as STAR. We'll just have to wait and see.


In my next post, I'll discuss the rest of our bullpen. This will include our lefties, who likely won't get considered for the job, our future closers who will end up in Pawtucket waiting for someone to get hurt or blow up, and my personal fave, someone who I think has been virtually ignored in this discussion, Kyle Snyder. Then in part three, I intend to discuss our starters (which ones could make the switch) and all the unrealistic trade options out there. Of course at my rate, we'll have picked a closer by then. But just so you know, I wrote all of this and had it blown away by Blogger because of some supposedly missing html two days ago, and I REWROTE IT FOR YOU TWO PEOPLE WHO STILL VISIT MY BLOG. (you know who you are) I think that shows dedication. And love. And promise, eh?

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Monday, January 22, 2007


A Healthy Helping of Crow Pie

Ok, so I was wrong. I don't mind saying so. After all, I have a blog so I can voice my opinion, and I guess that's what I deserve for not blogging in over two months.

I'm actually stunned, but perhaps no less than last week when our boys in blue beat the Chargers. What's most shocking to me is how outdone Master Bill was in the halftime adjustments... almost as if Tony Dungy had a video feed from their locker room and knew exactly what to expect. Or the flu bug finally hit B.B. and the great brain wasn't functioning during the game. Getting the better of Bill Belichick from halftime adjustments is something you'd never expect... something I've seen only a few times over the past six years, and not in the playoffs.

Of the worst aspects of being knocked off at this point is that I believe one of our coordinators may now be considered for a head coaching position. Aye, here we go again. One can only hope the young Josh McDaniels can see the value in two or three more years under B.B.'s tuteledge... or at least the dangers of working for the notorious Al Davis.

And so we tip our cap to Peyton Manning, hoping he can finally win the big game and quiet the whiney voices of his fans (who were really starting to get on my nerves.) The bro-in-law, who was posing in a pats shirt last night, declared it "the end of an era" as the colts walked into the endzone with a minute left. Readers of this blog already know that the bro-in-law is prone to spew diarrhea and cannot be taken seriously. Our boys in blue proved once again this season that as long as the two-headed beast of Brady and Belichick are at the helm of this team, you cannot count them out of contention. As we turn our heads now to the upcoming college draft, Scott Pioli's quick and no-nonsense rebuff of the Giants organization's advances grounds our expectation of excellence for the forseeable future.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Wistful Thinking

Last Sunday was another heartracer right up to the end, a thing I've gotten used to in twenty-one years as a Patriots fan. I didn't expect to win, but anytime we can keep the game close, I like our chances with the ball in Brady's hands at the end. It was earlier this season in which we saw each of our fearless leaders make a rare tactical error as time was expiring in Foxboro against the Colts. As predicted, the outcome of that game holds major significance as the Patriots' Offense now prepares to call and execute plays amid the deafening crowd noise at the RCA Dome.

All week I've been watching reports in anticipation of this game, and it strikes me as amusing that the Patriots can still whip out that old and worn disrespect card- not that they are making it of public issue, of course. I can agree with public sentiment that man-for-man, the San Diego Chargers were a better team this year, and most likely the best team in the NFL, but sometimes it's the men in charge that make the difference. It was the leadership of Brady and Belichick that tipped the scales one week ago, just as it has so many times before.

The Indianapolis Colts are NOT man-for-man a better team, in fact I believe they've been playing horribly for the past two months. While one might say the same for the Pats in some ways, the Colts have eked through thus far in spite of themselves. It amazes me that so many sportscasters, paid to make a prediction, are making the emotional choice this week. Out of all the analysis I have watched (and there's been quite a bit) I've seen only four men pick the Patriots to win this game: Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth, Skip Bayless, and "the Swami", Chris Berman. All four made their picks with apologies to Payton, but no doubt in themselves like the rest- mostly wistful and hopeful and sympathetic. I can understand their desire to pick Manning, just as I can understand my own desire to root for the Saints this afternoon. There's just one difference: I'm picking the Saints to win, not just because I want them to, but because I think they are the better team. As much as I respect Payton Manning as a player and National role model, the effect of this game on his place in history will not propel him to victory; if anything, it will prevent it.

This morning on Sportscenter:
"Is Adam Vinitieri a bigger gain for the Colts, or loss for the Patriots?"


Are you people kidding me? He's not some lucky charm, he's just a kicker, and tonight he'll be kicking where his skill and experience levels matter least: inside A DOME. In addition, Adam has had back problems on and off for the past several years... his days of automatic are over. Adam knows that, which is exactly why he harbors no ill will against the Pats organization as he takes Indy money and runs with it.

We all admire Payton Manning's athleticism and abilities... now can we just get over it and stop dredging up any possible excuse for him to win because we feel sorry for his team's seemingly futile playoff chances? These teams are fairly well matched, as they have been for years. I would feel a lot more confident heading into the game with some extra defensive advantage, namely Harrison and Seau, but the biggest edge is the one we haven't lost: preparation. The factor that has won every game we had to win over the last five years, the method which makes our New England Patriots peak at just the right time, the X-factor that no one is bothering to talk about this week because it's been said so many times (and mostly in hindsight) is this organization's ability to execute the details when they matter most. If this game comes down to a few plays, and I think it will, I like our chances. And frankly, so does anyone else who knows a thing or two about the pigskin, even if they don't want to admit it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Gripes from Gary

Poor, poor Gary. Nothing ever seems to go right for him. He spent a great deal of time this spring belly-aching over how Cashman had better pick up his option for next year, and it's finally been done. The nerve of those Yankees, insisting on paying mr. nasty $13 million next year. Imagine that.

"This will not work, this will not work at all," Sheffield told the newspaper. "I don't want to play first base a year for them. I will not do that."

I'm sure sheff will have no problem banking the $13 million, and he maintains his commitment to uphold his contract with the effort and attitude consistant to his level of approval for the task and uniform involved. "...there's going to be a problem," promises Sheffield.

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