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On Mankins, the Red Sox, and more

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  July 20, 2011 08:42 AM

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Hitting on an array of topics from the sports world as if skipping rocks on a hot summer day…

Logan Mankins and the other plaintiffs in the NFL antitrust lawsuit may no longer be requesting special consideration, but that hardly means they were wrong to ask for it. In the case of Mankins, especially, it is difficult to find a player more victimized by the terms of the NFL bargaining agreements, old and new.

First, because of an uncapped season resulting from the owners’ decision to opt out of the last CBA, Mankins has now twice lost his right to become an unrestricted free agent. Along the way, he was saddled with the franchise tag. Now he may end up with nothing more than a one-year deal, albeit for greater than $10 million, still only that half the guaranteed money he might receive in a long-term deal.

Meanwhile, Mankins has never missed a game to injury and has been elected to three Pro Bowls.

Last year, in their first eight games – Mankins joined them for the eighth – the Patriots averaged slightly more than 107 rushing yards per game. After Mankins returned, the number increased to just under 140 yards per game. That number is even more impressive when you consider that the Patriots’ second-half schedule included the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and New York Jets, teams that ranked a respective first, second and third in the NFL in rushing defense.

And people still think Mankins would have been selfish to hold up a labor deal?

Please.

Love Tiger Woods or hate him – and many now choose the latter – golf needs him back. The last 12 major championships have produced no repeat winners and the list of recent major champions now includes Y.E. Yang, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl and Schwartzel. Foreign players now have won the last six of the majors and seven of the last eight.

Meanwhile, as Tiger deteriorates, so, too, does the PGA.

In the 2005 draft, the Red Sox had five selections in the first round or sandwich round, using those choices on Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden. Four of those players are still with the organization and all four have contributed in the major leagues this season, suggesting all have value to the franchise either on the roster or as a bargaining chip.

In the four subsequent drafts, from 2006-2009, the Red Sox had nine selections in the first round or sandwich round. Only one (Daniel Bard) now has any value to the organization. And while the Sox used many of those picks to acquire players like Victor Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez – good deals both – one cannot help but wonder if this all means that the club must now protect many of its more recent, higher selections in the draft.

Translation: don’t expect any blockbusters at the deadline, no matter what you read or hear. The Sox have invested a great deal in this team, both financially and otherwise. Theo Epstein should add some depth before 4 p.m. on July 31, but his emphasis on the player development system suggests he will now guard his prospects more closely.

Of course, if Clay Buchholz has a more severe injury than the Sox are letting on, all bets are off.

By the way, when the Red Sox and Indians were negotiating the Martinez deal in 2009, Buchholz and Lars Anderson (remember him?) were among the names discussed. Cleveland officials privately indicated at the time that the Red Sox were overhyping Anderson, and Indians officials also were concerned about Buchholz’s durability.

Since the start of the 2009 season, Masterson now has pitched nearly 100 more innings than Buchholz. He also currently ranks among the American League leaders in ERA.

With all due respect to the United States women’s soccer team, they sound like a bunch of excuse-makers in trying to justify their choke job against Japan in the World Cup final. For men and women both, the standards are the same on this sort of thing.

If it looks like a choke, sounds like a choke and feels like a choke, it’s a choke.

Just a reminder that the Patriots open on Monday night, Sept. 12, against Dolphins in Miami. That means you’ll have to wait longer than most to see another NFL game involving your home team.

The good news? You won’t have to wait as long as the folks in Denver and Oakland, the teams that play the later game on Monday night.

If you’ve already seen the Bruins championship DVD, you are encouraged to post a review at the end of today’s blog. Please refrain from things like, “It’s awesome!” or “I got chills!” or “I almost cried!” Please offer constructive criticisms about what may have been lacking, what worked, and what didn’t.

Just sayin’.

As good as the Red Sox have been of late, they are still in a virtual dead heat with the Yankees. As of this morning, the Sox and Yankees are separated by one game in the loss column. Boston and New York each have outscored their opponents by precisely 114 runs, and the clubs have strikingly similar records at home and on the road.

Remember that the next time you start rambling about how the Yankees are old, or that they lack depth in the starting rotation, or that they have bullpen issues.

By the way, for what it’s worth, Adrian Gonzalez last night grounded into his 21st double play of the season, second most in the major leagues. Given that the only player to have grounded into more double plays that Gonzalez is Albert Pujols, this is hardly something to worry about.

But it does indicate, if nothing else, that Gonzalez is not perfect.

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The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
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For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
3
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
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Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
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You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
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Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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