25 days until pitchers and catchers

The translation of that headline is that football season is over — at least in these parts.

As a long-time follower of Boston sports, I can only find a few other losses that could be comparable in terms of pure gut punchers. Two of them are Red Sox and one of them is Celtics.

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series — enuf said.

Game 4 of the 1987 Finals — Celtics-Lakers. Does anyone remember how in control of this game the Celtics were? They led by something like 17 points late in the third quarter and were still up by about eight with under two minutes left. Does anyone remember that Kareem actually missed a free throw to set up Magic’s hook shot? If McHale had just gotten the rebound instead of batting the ball out of bounds, the Celtics would have had the game won. Instead, Laker ball, and Magic did the rest.

the other one was Game 7 of 2003 — Red Sox-Yankees. No need to rehash this one.

Seriously though, a 21-3 lead? How do you let that get away? Does anyone remember that they were on the verge of another field goal at that point only to have a penalty get them out of field goal range? how did they lose this game. How does a team like the Patriots commit a too many men on the field penalty and a roughing the passer penalty in the late stages of such a crucial game?

Maybe that somewhat lucky win over the Chargers did take too much out of them. They just didn’t have that same focus, mentally or physically that they usually have in games like this. In hindsight, how big was it losing that regular season game to the Colts? If only they had won that game, yesterday’s game would have been in Foxboro. I think we all know how it would have turned out in that case.

Another side note is that they really missed Charlie Weis in this game. I thought the offense was WAY too conservative down the stretch. I’m going to see those passive third down draw calls in my sleep. Go for a bomb downfield like Brady threw to Caldwell last week in SD. Where was the aggression? It was like the Colts were trying to win the game and the Pats were trying not to lose it.

Belichick needs to go back to the drawing board and add a few more horses. Brady needs a couple of downfield threats. Gaffney and Caldwell can only fake it for so long. They also need one or two more difference-makers on defense. The defense looked a little old yesterday.

All in all, I give the Patriots credit. They were a gutty team in a year they didn’t have the same depth of talent that they had during the Super Bowl years. I wouldn’t bet against Belichick and Pioli putting this thing back together. Remember, the 49ers won five Super Bowls in 14 years. The Pats need to just win two more over the next eight years to match that run.

And that, my friends, is the last words of football wisdom you will hear from me until next year’s Hot Stove season. From now until then, it’s all baseball all the time. Unless, of course, you want to dissect the wonderful Celtics and their 1-14 record since Pierce went down :)

Can’t wait for Fort Myers.

45 Comments

As much as losing to the p*nsy-as* Colts s*cked last night, I don’t think it comes ANYWHERE close to the Sox in ’86 or ’03. For me, anyway, past success has really mitigated future disappointments, at least as far as the Pats are concerned. No matter what happens from now on, Beleichick and Brady’s reputations are secure.

And you’re right about the defense. It sure needs to be shored up, because the second half they looked ‘way tired.

As much as I like the Patriots, you cannot take anything away from Tony Dungee, Peyton Manning or the Colts. It was a very closely contested game, and it was just Indy’s time. Now we here in South Florida can look forward to the Media Blitz for the next 2 weeks. And to the additional traffic on the roads and in restaraunts… Oh yay, I just can’t wait.
NOW, can we get onto the business of baseball??? Its appx 19 days until Spring Training and I’m looking forward to going to see Our Beloved Sox at City of Palms!!! Only drawback??? What else, it will be minus the Dirt Dawg!

All in all, I have to say that Tony Dungy and Lovee Smith are two of the classiest men in ALL of sports. They are BOTH deserving of winning the Super Bowl.
Rick

The Colts deserved to win. Now, they will thrash the Bears and we can move on to spring training. Just as the Steelers, my lifelong favorite team, will be back among the AFC’s top teams next season, so will the Patriots. This loss does not lessen their reputation as one of the NFL’s best. They still have a talented roster, and a mastermind coach. This is AFC football – a class above the NFC – so it is extremely difficult to reach the Super Bowl. Kansas City is the only AFC playoff team this season who wouldn’t have reached the Super Bowl if they were on the NFC side. I am glad to see Dungy in the Super Bowl. He is a classy guy, and a former Steeler!

My Super Bowl pick: Indy 34, Chicago 17.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

By the way, kudos to the Rooneys for giving Mike Tomlin, a Tony Dungy disciple, a chance in Pittsburgh.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

By the way, Ian, I saw the Celtics here in Orlando – minus Paul Pierce. They looked woeful. It’s time for Rivers and Ainge to be shown the door. The Celtics have a core of solid young players – Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe, Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen (if he can recover from his knee injury) and Sebastian Telfair. I think they should deal Kendrick Perkins. They maybe should consider trading Paul Pierce as well, if they can get 2-3 solid young players in return. I’m all for dealing Szczerbiak, too. They need a lot of work. They’re just as bad as the Knicks, which is just plain awful.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Sure, that was a brutal 2nd half, but so far, a loss to the Colts in the AFC final is not nearly as hard to take as any playoff loss to the Yankees or losing to the Lakers in the mid-80′s.
That said, I’ll be cheering for da’ Bears or more acurately against Manning.

Being a Giants fan I prefer a team that goes to the superbowl defense first. So I’ll root for the bears. I don’t know if they have enough to beat the colts but let’s see if they can do it.
Soon we can get down to being real sports fans and follow baseball!

It seems like lately the AFC Championship has become the game of “Whoever wins gets to beat on the NFC”, which I dont mind because once my Jaguars pick up the superstar type player they need, they WILL be a superbowl team. But oh well, no more football talk, its time for baseball!! I cant wait until spring training when I can drive a whole 15 minutes from college and see this years Sox. WOOOOO!!!! Anytime Im not in class, I’ll be at City of Palms (as long as the sox have a game). To anyone coming down to SW Florida, enjoy fort myers, and Go Sox!

BosoxMonsta, which college do you attend? I agree. I’m ready for football to end and spring training to begin. Maybe J.D. Drew will be signed by the time position players report!

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Any truth to the rumor that Drew hasn’t signed yet because you actually have to have a pulse to sign a binding contract?

Its going to be wierd with no huge sports celebration in Boston. They’ve almost become annual in the last several years. (semi-annual in ’04)Man o man, everybody in greater boston is a wreck right now. 2006 has been a disasterous sport season on all fronts.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I have trouble considering one-game-from-the-super-bowl a disastrous season for the Patriots… I’m pretty happy with their success still. They went this far on a REBUILDING year! Disastrous? Can’t go that far.

Jeff, I go to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. Ever heard of it?

do you really think beckett would lower his era because he doesn’t like getting hit around? Does any pitcher actually enjoy not doing well?

pedro in his prime with the sox had a lower era than matsuzaka did in Japan, it would be extremely difficult for anybody to copy those antics for a long time.

Ian, do you think beckett, schilling or matsuzaka will have the best season? I personally think matsuzaka.

Vince, you’re missing the point about Beckett. The point being, he already has nasty stuff. He was knocked around last season because he had the same approach in the AL as he did in the NL, and that approach doesn’t work. If you look at his numbers, he was strong in hits per innings, innings pitched and strikeouts. He just surrendered too many dingers because of trying to overpower all hitters. You will see him use a mix of pitches this season, and I have no doubt he will be dominant. I think Beckett will be the Sox best pitcher statistically in 2007.

BostonMonsta, I have heard of Florida Gulf Coast University.

Jeff http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

When I said disasterous, i didn’t just include the Patriots. I included the Red Sox, and the Celtics. No winners over in that front. And I doubt the Bruins will pick up slack and win us a Stanley.

Ian, You know what a big fan that I am of Trot. Well I went over to the Indians blog to see what was being written about the subject. Nothing. And not just about that subject. The blog hadn’t been updated since October. And only a few comments since the beginning of the year.
I want to thank you and tell you how much I appreciate Brownie points and the work you do to keep it fresh even during the off season.

David and I will be on our west coast to see The Sox in Spring Training. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop in and say Hi and thank you for all you do! Thanks Again Ian!!!

I’m truly looking forward to the ’07 season and a better outcome than last year!!! LET’S GO REDSOX LETS GO!!!

Yes, Ian, good job! I guess you take your job more seriously than some and we should be grateful. Thanks!

Ian, great reference with the ’87 Celts-Lakers game. Obviously ’86 and ’03 Sox are a no-brainer, but the pain from that Celts game was about the most heartbreaking non-Sox loss I can remember. If memory serves me correctly, I think the Celts were up by 19 at one point. And I think Bird missed a final shot after Magic’s hook. Man, that hurt bad. And I’d almost fully repressed that game, too. Thanks a lot for reminding me . . . ******.

Douglas up above, you are right on. Peyton Manning played 32 minutes of near flawless football. That may have been the best game of his life and that’s what it took to beat the Patriots. I’m proud of the Pats. They went further than anyone thought they would, and they never quit. They were beat up, and sick, and still gave the Colts all they could handle. If the Red Sox show half that charater this year, nobody will touch them.

Beckett’s got great stuff. Let’s not forget he did win 16 games last year. Don’t forget, he’s still a baby in the scheme of things. Think of how good he’s going to be when he learns to pitch. Reminds me a little of Nolan Ryan and Curt Schilling, who only got better with age. He’s a tough kid. I like him for 18-20 wins this year. He’s very Patriot-like. Speaking of Patriot-like, look for Schilling to get 17 wins or so if he stays healthy. That’s a pretty fine one-two punch in the starting rotation.

Time to start a new chant. Undo Drew, undo Drew, undo Drew, undo Drew. Theo and the boys must have some serious apprehension about paying this guy a guaranteed $70 million. Somethng just aint right about that whole situation. Hey, I have an idea. Let’s pay him $50,000 per RBI, $10,000 per hit or sacrifice and $100,000 per home run. So if he drives in 120 runs, that’s $6 million, 200 hits is $2 million, 40 homers is $4 million. Hmmm, that equals about $12 million. Well, maybe we could throw in some defensive incentives for a couple of million. He gets his $14 million and we get a pretty fine ball player who has incentive to not get hurt and play every day. Yeah, right.

Wonder if we can trade someone to Cleveland for Trot Nixon? I heard he was a pretty good ballplayer.

Even though it would be totally unethical on Boras’ part (although no more unethical than Boras contacting teams while Drew was still under contract with the Dodgers,) there’s no doubt in my mind that Boras tied Drew in with Matsuzaka. “I’ll cave on Dice-K, but you have to sign Drew.” I think we’re stuck with Drew.

nah i think Boras got what he was really looking for in Matsuzaka’s contract.

Look, it’s not like Theo’s giving Matsuzaka the minumum wage, u know… on the contrary, his deal broke several records!

Drew is an excellent player when healthy, and can easily hit 30 Home Runs at Fenway. In a bloated market, Drew’s 5-yr 70m deal doesn’t seem bad at all. Just look at what guys like Gil Meche are getting paid… simply ridiculous!

As I recall, Meche got more money than Matsuzaka. Trust me, Boras was expecting Zito money for Matsuzaka.

As for Drew, bloated market or not, this is the “poster child” for bloated, unearned contracts. 30 home runs at Fenway. I’d settle for him playing 30 GAMES at Fenway.

I can hardly believe that at halftime I was thinking about how good it would be for the Pats to avenge their Super Bowl loss to the Bears. Dang.

I read that the Sox are still working on the language of Drew’s contract in terms of potential injuries. What do you think, Ian?

well Matsuzaka is a better pitcher than Zito, but because of the way the posting system works, Boras had virtually no leverage when it came to negotiations. 6 yr 50m was a record breaker for a foreign import, no small accomplishment considering Matsuzaka’s predecessors: Ichiro, Nomo, Matsui…

Drew is healthy. His last few injuries have been flukes, and even though his body is rather brittle, injury is still unpredictable in ALL hitters.

I believe that Drew’s line for 07 will look something like this:

.305/.420/.550, 25HR, 100RBI, 145games, 525AB

That’s worth 14m in this day and age.

Jamie, those are optimstic numbers for Drew but I’ll take ‘em. I’m finding it difficult to like the guy. I suppose I will cheer for him, reluctantly. Well… maybe I should give the dude a chance. OK, talked myself into it. So when he’s at the plate in May, I’ll be yelling,” C’mon Drew, you dolt, get a hit!”
If he hits .350 with 50 HR and 165 RBI and wins the gold glove, I’ll marry him,… but I’m thinking my chastity is safe.

I’m also thinking this cold is making me delerious, or maybe it’s the decongestants, anyway, gotta go.

uh my throat’s killing me and i have homework and essays coming out of my ***… looking forward to baseball is pretty much the only thing keeping me from a total breakdown!

fantasy baseball magazines are starting to come out… who do u guys think are the sleepers?

I’d take .285, 25 homers and 85 RBI from Drew is he can play 135-140 games. He is a solid defensive player as well. If Drew is ever signed, we should give him a chance to prove himself.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

By the way, I plan on hosting a free fantasy baseball league through Yahoo, and I will invite regulars on this blog and my blog to participate. Anyone interested?

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Jeff I would surely be down for a fantasy league. Let me know

Jeff I am a major fantasy baseball player…..But don’t count on me not taking sox players, I absolutely love the idea of being happy when they fail but when i’m miserable from a solid sox performance, seeing my fantasy players perform is fun.

Soriano will probably be the biggest sleeper if you consider that, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went first in some leagues playing in wrigley now and maintaining base running ability. I think Cano will add power this season as well, and I would look for howie kendrick to go wild.

I think I’d like to try the fantasy league, if someone can explain things to me. I’ve never been involved in a fantasy league. Any one care to help me??

Vince, I have the same policy with not drafting Yankees players. I could not stomach having to root for anyone wearing Yankee pinstripes. I imagine most people on this blog feel the same way. We love the Red Sox, and (for that particular day)any team that is playing the Yankees.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Ellen, fantasy baseball is not difficult. SImply put, there is an online draft where everyone logs in and selects their team. If you are interested, I will forward you to an explanation of the rules when I put the league together on Yahoo. It is all automated, so there is not much time involved (no need to keep your own stats; the computer does that!). It’s like the NCAA Tournament pool. Sometimes, people who know the most about baseball finish at the bottom of the standings because they overanalyze!

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

jeff, i would definitely be in for the draft. i just love it when my 20-something round picks completely break out… like Papelbon and Atkins!

and yea, analysis can sometimes make you paranoid… just go with ur gut instincts. Baseball is a game where you have to predict the UNpredictable. You never know when your first rounder might blow up in ur face (Derrek Lee was mine from last year… i’m still reeling from that blow lol)

Jeff, I would really appreciate it if you could forward the info to me!! That would be great. Thanks!!!

Jamie, what is your current GPA?, and how much sleep do you get?? You sure seem to be able to to alot of different things!! I wish I had the energy to do 1/4 of what you do!! Dang boy, what’s your secret??? LOL

haha Jeff I think you misunderstood. I draft a lot of sox players for the exact reason that if they do poorly i’m happy and if they do well, well at least it’s not a complete loss for me.

A lot of people have a lot of methods for constructing a fantasy team, I would share mine, but it would not be until after draft day.

That’s an interesting philosophy for fantasy baseball, Vince. Personally, I could not bear to have to root for a Yankees player to do well, thus my no Yankees draft policy! I do have a “draft Manny and Big Papi” policy.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

The globe is reporting that Drew’s deal will be announced today or tomorrow. The sox have an out after three years if he suffers a very specific injury. No injury, the five year deal we’ve all heard of stands.

I’m ready to give him a fair shot. Bring on spring training!

I agree. Give him, and this team, a chance. I think it will be a special and exciting season.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

I was looking at the changes made it to the Red Sox schedule and noticed that now the Fox Saturday afternoon game is being played at 3:55, rather than 1:25 like it used to be. Anyone have any answers as to the reasons for this? I always enjoyed watching those games in the early afternoon, and Fox might lose an audience around the conclusion of the game when most people start to go out on Saturday nights. It doesn’t make much sense to me.

lol actually Ellen I don’t do as much work as you think I do =)

I procrastinate alot usually, so that’s why I sleep late… if I actually had some decent ability to plan my work and maybe not watch like 3 hours of TV per day (that’s not including baseball during the season), I might be able to sleep at 10 every day!

My GPA’s somewhere between 3.7 and 3.9 unweighed (4 = A, 3 = B) and 4.6-4.8 weighed (5 = A in Honors, 4.5 = A in “normal” curriculum).

SATs are like 6 weeks away. I’m dying!!

(1) I take exception to the “overachieving” thing, although San Diego was clearly better, personnel-wise. The talent in the defensive and offensive lines, the core of any football team, is better now than it was in any of the Super Bowl years. I don’t see how the receiving corps (as it was configured by the end of the year) is any worse than it was in 2001; it was never GREAT, and the tight ends have more versatility and upside than ever. The offensive backfield talent is excellent, and defensive backfield was poorer than usual only because of safety injuries — which we’ve had before on Super Bowl teams. Linebacker is the problem that needs addressing first, last and whether they do anything else or not.
(2) Beating a team that’s better than you apparently does take a lot out of you. The defense was tired, exhausted and beat-up, and it cost them against the Colts. The problem with the big defense Belichick likes is that they wear down — see the end of Super Bowl games against St. Louis and Caroline, for example. But, despite the uncharacteristic mistakes, the offense could have won the Colts game; all it had to do was complete a 3rd-and-4 — as usual. Didn’t happen. Nobody’s perfect.

(3) Fix the linebacker situation and the coaching and team discipline and game planning and ambient talent level will take care of itself. The Pats are still in great shape. The thing is, they are CONSTANTLY retooling, anyway. And they know how to do it better than you or I do.

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