It’s a good time of year for a sports fan. Baseball is coming to a climax. Football is beginning. Basketball and hockey aren’t far off. We’ve even got the best golfers on the planet hanging out with us.
Let’s examine a few odds and ends, OK?
I have long believed that in the matter of Truth vs. Fiction it is wise to take Truth, plus the points, every time. Exhibit A is the case of Aaron Hernandez.
The revelations in the Rolling Stone article, if true, are very damning for the Patriots. It’s not just what they knew about the tight end’s scary life away from Gillette Stadium, but why they didn’t know more. Here was a valuable employee requiring 24/7 surveillance, period. I think we can now understand what Matt Light means when he was quoted as saying he wasn’t on board with what Hernandez “stood for.” I’m guessing a lot of his teammates felt the same way. I keep wondering if the players are even remotely creeped out by the thought they interacted for a year with a man who may wind up being implicated in three murders. This is a long way from showering next to someone serving a suspension for elevated testosterone.
And yet Bob Kraft lavished a $40 million contract on this wayward individual? If it was with the knowledge that Hernandez was a major social deviant, shame on him. If it was in ignorance, shame on him. Either way, I think he needs a do-over news conference to retract the “I was duped” line.
As for the coach, more and more he is starting to embody Lord Acton’s famous pronouncement that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Bill Belichick badly needs a post-Spygate Super Bowl victory. Diehard see-no-evil Patriots fans are the only ones who don’t understand why.
Yes, it will be a disappointment if they don’t make the playoffs. That’s a line I never thought I’d be writing in April.
But even if they don’t make it, they will have accomplished a necessary goal, and that is to restore credibility. They had to prove that what happened in September 2011 and all of 2012 was an aberration, that they were not a woeful, dysfunctional organization, but one that had gotten off the track a bit and that had been hit with key injuries (e.g. Jacoby Ellsbury, Big Papi) and that had made an almost disastrously bad judgment in selecting a manager, a move, I must admit, I thought had a very good chance of working out.
I speak now as a 20-year season ticket-holder. I would have been satisfied with 81-81. I didn’t have great playoff hopes, even with the addition of the second wild card. Toronto was a Mortal Lock, remember? Tampa Bay had that pitching. I couldn’t see the Rays winning fewer than 88 or 90. I thought the Orioles would have a market correction, if only because that one-run/extra-inning thing was not sustainable, but I thought they were solid. You couldn’t predict this nightmare of an injury-riddled season for those guys in the Bronx. And that’s just the AL East. No way I was thinking playoffs.
OK, so if they do make it, and assuming we’re talking about more than just that insane Coin Flip game, there is only one relevant question and that is, “Do they have enough pitchers who can win playoff games?”
And my absolute, definitive answer is, well, kinda, sorta, maybe. Wait a minute. Take a stand, Bob.
Yes, they do. It’s not Detroit, and it’s not Tampa Bay, but it seems to be all right, even without Clay Buchholz. The second-half Lester, the (hope to God) healthy Peavy, and the season-long Lackey are all capable of giving you the six, seven innings of quality work that can win a playoff game against anybody, and I wouldn’t hesitate to hand the ball to Doubront, either. And in the playoffs, three are all you need. Teams have won with two (check out the ’87 and ’91 Twins). Three good starters can get the job done.
Now they have to get there.
That wasn’t a slap-on-the-wrist punishment. That was a teeny-weeny pinch of the cheek.
Could the NCAA have done more to look foolish than invoking a one-half-game suspension on Manziel for a game against Rice? If it really wanted to hit him where it hurts, it could have made him go to a class.
The NCAA couldn’t find the money. I understand. That was always going to be an issue. That being the case, too bad. Say it didn’t have sufficient proof that he was paid to sign whatever, and tell him not to do whatever it is it couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt he did, and move on. It’s a safe bet he will postpone any such activity until after the new season, and then we can play the same game all over again.Continued...