If this isn’t a sign that we’re on the verge of the Winter Meetings, I’m not sure what is.
Here’s one trade proposal courtesy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Bob Sansevere, who suggests that Twins GM Terry Ryan get Theo Epstein on the phone stat and offer the following trade proposal: Johan Santana, Carlos Silva and Joe Nathan for Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
Is that all? It’s a wonder the deal hasn’t been made yet. I’m not sure what Silva might think of the deal, seeing as he’s a free agent and all, but whatever. Take a shot.
Fire Joe Morgan (Google, naughty words prevent the link) has a field day with the idea, of course, as does Keith Law. We’re assuming Sansevere meant all this tongue in cheek, but just in case, might we offer to throw in Mo Vaughn, Danny Heep, and Dom DiMaggio as well? See if they bite.
In his latest annual Baseball Bible, stats guru Bill James has projected a 10-10 season for pitcher Jon Lester in 2008, a year which could prove to be the lefty’s first full-time foray in the starting rotation.
But whether that will that take place in Boston, Oakland or Minnesota is the question.FULL ENTRY
When Bill Belichick says "jump," you tend to jump. National TV is apparently no factor.
In case you missed it, following last night's 31-28 win over the Eagles, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker abruptly cut short his interview with NBC's Andrea Kremer, telling her that he was being summoned by the HC. Awful Announcing managed to find the clip.
"He's the one man I take in front of you," Welker said. So, there's the order of importance:
Al Michaels doesn't seem amused with the interruption, lampooning Welker with "Coming, Mommy." Funny. But mess with "Mommy" and you get grounded. Sort of like Laurence Maroney, for whatever reason. We're sure Welker doesn't want any of that.
Here's amatuer video straight from Madras, Ore., where hometown hero Jacoby Ellsbury was honored with a parade recently, fresh off his status as World Series champ with the Red Sox. Sort of has a "Friday Night Lights" feel to it, as though this would be a similar scene in Dillon, Texas if Crash Williams returned one day with the Lombardi Trophy.
Gordon Edes also wrote about Ellsbury's homecoming in yesterday's Globe.
I guess when we assumed the Yankees were the only team that could afford Alex Rodriguez, we were highly mistaken.
Turns out the AL MVP did receive at least one other legitimate offer. And it just so happened to be the 10-year, $350 million deal that agent Scott Boras had originally sought.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the Toldeo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate for the Detroit Tigers, called and made the record-setting offer after Hank Steinbrenner said to the paper, “Does he want to go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee or a Toledo Mud Hen?”
The Mud Hens took that as their window to make a call. With some conditions.
"Rodriguez would have to hit over .350 with at least 75 home runs, and lead the team to an International League title every year of the contract, as well as collect more than 1,500 runs batted in over its course.”
Obviously this would be impossible. Rodriguez has never led any team to a title.
Add up the spreads of this weekend’s Denver-Chicago, Tennessee-Cincinnati, Oakland-Kansas City, Houston-Cleveland, Seattle-St. Louis, New Orleans-Carolina, and Washington-Tampa Bay games, and you get 21.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are favored by 22 points - more than the favorites in seven other NFL games combined - over the Eagles Sunday night.
Only the Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by anything considered a digit in the same ballpark, a line of 16 over the 0-10 Miami Dolphins. The Eagles are 5-5.
Five games remain for the 10-0 New Englanders after this weekend, and that line is certain to only go up, as Vegas tries to figure out what in the name of Nick Papa Georgio they can do to slow down bets on the Patriots. It might take 30-point spreads against the Dolphins and the Jets. Perhaps 40 on the latter.
Maybe there’s a bit of hyperbole injected there, but would a line of 30-plus be out of the question against Eric Mangini and Co.? Certainly not.
Not the way the Patriots have been bludgeoning their opponents, winning by an average score of 46-18 over their last five games against Dallas, Miami, Washington, Indianapolis, and Buffalo, a 28-point margin. And keep in mind, that 46 is actually weighed down with the Patriots only putting 24 on the board against the Colts.
The 22-point spread is the largest since 1976, when the Steelers were favored by 24 over the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pittsburgh won the game the only way that New England has somehow managed not to this season thus far; by a shutout score of 42-0. The closest the Patriots have come to a shutout was in the Oct. 28 contest against the Redskins, Washington scoring a late touchdown in a 52-7 New England rout.
With the Ravens, Dolphins and Jets still on the radar, don't bet against it.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see this weekend's Patriots-Eagles game:FULL ENTRY
Forget New Year’s Eve, what are you doing Dec. 29?
Indeed, we are still six games and more than a month removed from the Patriots’ regular season finale against the New York Giants, but with the lackluster Bryant Gumbel and the portentous Cris Collinsworth set to invade the living rooms of hundreds tomorrow night for the first time this season, it might be high time to bust out the panic meter.
The Patriots could be 15-0, and you might not get to witness history.FULL ENTRY
Now, this just isn’t like the Red Sox at all.
It’s Nov. 20 and our local baseball champs are, for all intents and purposes, finished with all major offseason agendas. With plenty of time yet left on the clock, the Red Sox have put down their No. 2 pencil, turned in their work, and face a quiet offseason from here on out, something we're not exactly used to in these parts.
Curt Schilling -- signed. Mike Lowell -- done deal. Did Theo’s wife fear that he'd be running off to some undetermined location to recruit and demand they spend their first Thanksgiving as a married couple together?
Aren’t they one bit concerned that the Patriots might steal headlines?
Nice scene these days in the Meadowlands. The Jets are 2-8, Mangenius is a nickname not often utilized, and halftime at Jets games has become a weekly ritual of sexual harassment.
The New York Times’ David Picker details the ongoing behavior of Jets fans who participate in obscenity-laced tirades bordering on violence in trying to get females to expose their breasts.
When Picker asked why the fans pay more attention to coaxing women to take off their tops than, you know, the football game, one told him, “This is the game.” In fairness, they do have to watch the Jets.
Sunday’s scene played out for about 20 minutes, and at least one woman granted the men’s request, setting off a roar as if the former star running back Curtis Martin had just scored a touchdown. Martin was actually nearby, being honored on the field in the official halftime show, which had a far less intense audience.
Throughout halftime, about 10 security guards in yellow jackets stood near the bottom of the circular, multilevel ramp, located beyond the stadium’s concourse of concession stands and restrooms. One of the guards was smoking a cigarette; many fans do the same during halftime on the giant ramps, which are located at each corner of the stadium. Another guard later said they were not permitted to do anything about the chants at Gate D because of free speech laws. Yet when a reporter tried to interview two security guards after halftime, he was detained in a holding room, threatened with arrest and asked to hand over his tape recorder.
Gee, where have we heard this before?
In a season that has not only teetered on the edge of boredom, but forcefully plunged into its very depths, the New England Patriots – the 10-0 New England Patriots – presented Exhibit J last night as to why they the rest of the NFL should have a hopeless outlook.
Six regular season games remain for the Patriots, and not one scheduled opponent has any realistic chance of derailing the express of perfection. None. Philadelphia? Baltimore? Miami? The Jets? Right.The spread could be 43 on that game, and you’d be a fool not to lay a few bucks down on New England.
Prevalent thought says that the only two teams standing in the way of 16-0 are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants. The Steelers got embarrassed by the Jets yesterday, losing on an OT field goal. The Giants might have everything to play for in the season finale on Dec. 29 (a game half of New England won’t see thanks to the nifty NFL Network-cable battles) but they might want to start padding their win total prior to that game if they want to keep their wild card aspirations alive. Because if it comes down to that night, sorry, Eli. Better luck next year.
Oh, somebody may indeed come along and beat these mighty Patriots.
But it won’t be until 2008.FULL ENTRY
Maybe Roger Goodell knows what he’s doing by trying to introduce the NFL overseas, as this British yuckster needs all the help he can get, confusing the Boston Red Sox for an American football team.
As for the joke...well, we hope everyone under the age of four enjoys it.
Those pesky Bills.
If it weren’t for the upstarts from Buffalo, New England fans would find themselves wearing new championship T-shirts before having to even wash that Red Sox World Series apparel.
With seven weeks to go in the NFL season, the Patriots hold a nine-game lead on the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East, eight on the New York Jets. But then, there’s 5-4 Buffalo, doing its best to throw a wrench into the Patriots’ plan of winning their division before Thanksgiving.
If it weren’t for the Bills, it would already officially be theirs.
But no, these Bills refuse to quit, and the nation is starting to notice. Why, NBC even switched around the schedule just to see how the Patriots could handle this band of plucky players from upstate. You don’t get any bigger than J.P. Losman under the lights in Buffalo. Even Dick Ebersol knows that.
Still, the Bills are a good story, or are at least a story in a division severely lacking any sort of competition. Sure, it might be more nail-biting were the Bills 8-1 and on the heels of the Pats, but we’ll have to take 5-4. An upset cuts the division lead to three games. Which would only mean Bill Belichick has to wait an extra week before his annual, “It’s good to be back in the playoffs, but we haven’t won anything yet,” speech.
I suppose we should thank the Bills for at least making all this somewhat interesting. So, thanks, Buffalo, for all you do. In a Patriots season teetering on the brink of boredom, it is you who have stepped up and spared us from early rewards.
Unless you really wanted another T-shirt.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see this weekend's Patriots-Bills game:FULL ENTRY
We walked along the pavilion overlooking McCovey Cove as the roar of crowd grew, the blustery chill of the San Francisco evening limiting the number of awaiting kayakers and boaters, hoping for another mark in baseball history to call their own.
When we looked up, the ball seemed to hang in the stiff, swirling wind for what seemed a a very long moment, eventually darting down, bouncing off a railing and splashing into the adjacent drink. It was No. 761.
Barry Bonds, the greatest home run hitter the game ever saw, would go on to hit only one more homer in his career, at Colorado the following month. But it was during an August sojourn to whatever they call that park these days that I witnessed the final one that would be celebrated by a yahoo fan base, one that ignored his past and celebrated a tainted and farcical mark with which baseball is now forever stained.
Three months later, Bonds is celebrated no more in the Bay Area, the last base he could call a safe haven. Even they have now turned on him, charges of perjury and obstruction of justice now far more his legacy that 762 ever will be.FULL ENTRY
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So, there. A monumental day. Can you feel it?
Color me suspicious, but doesn’t this A-Rod development seem all a bit too easy?
By most accounts, Alex Rodriguez’s new contract with the Yankees -- a reported decade-long deal worth around $275 million -- is “imminent,” but I’m not buying it. Imminent for Scott Boras usually means sometime around Christmas Eve.
Now all of a sudden the Yankees third baseman is willing to eschew the agent who made him the richest man in baseball history?FULL ENTRY
Deep down, be honest: What makes more sense?
Whatever the hatred level is today for Alex Rodriguez and the prospects of him replacing Mayor Mike Lowell in a Red Sox uniform, shouldn’t Theo Epstein and company be more comfortable backing up the Brinks truck for him in lieu of committing long-term to their incumbent?
Even with a potential record-breaking contract attached, Rodriguez makes all the business sense for Boston that Lowell simply does not. In a lineup that includes David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, he might put up even more astounding career numbers playing in a park where he has had more home runs (nine) and runs batted in (25) than any other park outside of Yankee Stadium the past three seasons.
He’d make his assault on the all-time home run record in a Red Sox uniform, in our own backyard. And when the Red Sox find themselves without Manny Ramirez in one, two, or three seasons from now, they will have assured themselves of a top-dollar marquee attraction for years to come.FULL ENTRY
Devil Rays no more. Tampa’s faux major league baseball team is now officially known as the “Rays.” A new era indeed. Plan the parade.
"I think this gives us, as an organization, an identity," owner Stuart Sternberg said at a downtown Tampa rally to introduce the team’s new uniforms. "It was something where we were tied to the past, and the past wasn't something we necessarily wanted to be known for.
"Nobody's running and hiding from it, and we're proud of certain aspects of it, but this was something that the organization was really able to put their arms around."
The Rays did indeed need an identity. And who can fault them for deciding to go with new unis over a competent baseball operations staff?
Yesterday’s rally drew about 7,000 fans for the laundry unveiling, or about the average crowd for a non-Red Sox or Yankees appearance at Tropicana Field. But now that the “Rays” are in town, Tampa-St. Pete is all abuzz. Why, check out this clip of manager Joe Maddon being interviewed on local news, or as we like to call it, yahoo hour. As embarrassing as some of our distinguished news desks handled themselves during Boston’s World Series run, give them credit: entire news crews didn’t don the home whites on set.
Among the other finalists for a new name were the Cannons, Renegades, Tropics, Wave, and Dukes. The Tampa Elijah Dukes we assume was not in the running.
Writes the Tampa Tribune’s Marc Lancaster: “Any trepidation the team might have felt about maintaining a nominal link to the past it was trying to shed was tempered by one factor in particular: It wasn't the Rays that seemed to keep people at a distance; it was the Devil.”
Ah, it was the Devil that kept people away, not the perennial last-place finishes. Good to know.
What’s most baffling about the name change is how they got there. Lancaster writes that the team started with more than a million computer-generated possibilities. A million. And they end up with “Rays.” The team hired a New York corporate image maker for this, and they got “Rays.” Obviously this is the easiest company in the entire world to work for.
Everybody else in the world has had an opinion lately on the dominance of the Boston sports scene, but I know what you were thinking: When is thrash metal going to latch on?
Your wait is over. Boston.tv caught up with GWAR member Oderus Urungus, who was in town over the weekend in Worcester, and spouted off on the filthy riches that are the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics these days. Well, maybe not so much the Celtics since he hears Kevin Garnett “might be coming here.”
Still, we’d like to see Urungus and Don Shula* go at it in a PTI sort of forum just for kicks. Except there’s the very real possibility Urungus might up and eat the former Dolphins coach.
Side note on GWAR: In college, my freshman year roommate liked to set his boom box on MAX and wake up to the soothing sounds of the metal band. I came closer to a heart attack on each of those early mornings than I did with four years of late night pizza combined.
Don't they learn?
I can just imagine how many of Don Shula's former Dolphins players are calling him today, wondering just what he was thinking with his inane asterisk talk. For all intents and purposes, he pretty much assured the Patriots are going to run the table this season -- matching the perfection done only by Shula's '72 squad -- by calling into question the validity of their accomplishments.
This is a team that finds disrespect when they're not a two-touchdown favorite. Bring up asterisks, validity, and cheating accusations and, well, you're actually watching what happens: A convincing 9-0 mark and very few standing in the way of perfection. The 2007 Patriots will go down as the best team in the history of the NFL, a powerhouse in the dynasty they've already created for themselves this decade.
But...oh, right. The camera stuff.FULL ENTRY
We all love Mike Lowell. Really.
But if we’re talking $60 million over four years for the Red Sox to retain their third baseman, well, thanks for the memories.
Three years, $36 million? Let's talk.
Still, as much as it seems that the Red Sox may indeed have an interest in re-signing Lowell, it would indeed be an upset in that it’s the kind of deal the team has opted not to give its other aging superstars (Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez) in the past. Lowell has hit .300 just once in his career (this season), and at the age of 33, doesn’t project to improve offensively. It likely won’t get any better than it did in 2007, and the Red Sox’ long-term forecasts are sure to show that. Unless you’re a franchise catcher, guys who are going to be 34 when the next season starts aren’t likely to get a $60 million deal from this regime.
On the other hand, what’s $60 million when your next-best free agent option is going to be seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years and $300 million?FULL ENTRY
Did the Colts get busted?
It’s no secret that the opposition has suspected the Colts of turning up the crowd noise at the RCA Dome (if not the heat, too), but during yesterday’s Patriots win, it sounded like the PA staff forgot to take a damp cloth to the CD much in question.
A few folks have written in, and it's all the chatter among Pats fans on the web, wondering if the noise heard over CBS' broadcast toward the end of the game was in some way connected to chicanery on the part of Indy.
Writes the Sporting News’ Mike Florio: “During the first play of the fourth quarter, the noise from the crowd contained a strange effect. It almost sounded like my kid was working the 'Whammy Bar' while playing Guitar Hero…We don't know whether that noise could be heard in the stadium, but it was obvious on the television broadcast. And it invites speculation as to whether the Colts are indeed piping in phony music -- and whether there was a malfunction of some sort on Sunday that offered proof of it.”
Indeed. Scroll to the 2:25 mark of this NFL highlight package to hear it, almost like a ray gun in some cheesy Saturday morning sci-fi show. It could be written off as a CBS audio problem, perhaps, except that Jim Nantz appears to have no problem speaking over it.
Here it is in mp3 format.
Note: CBS has chimed in and taken the blame for the 'unusual audio moment'.
It’s been dubbed. “The biggest game in the history of the NFL.”
“The Perfect Bowl.”
“Good vs. Evil.”
It’s impossible to escape the hype machine that surrounds Sunday’s showdown between the Patriots and Colts, if only for the reason that these two teams signify the best rivalry in today’s NFL with no close second even in sight. Sunday will be the latest in any NFL season that two undefeated teams have faced off, with essentially home field advantage for the AFC title game in the balance. The winner has what amounts to a two-game lead over the other, with head-to-head the second criteria for deciding any tie-breakers.
The last time these two teams met, of course, the Patriots held a 21-6 lead on the Colts at halftime of the AFC title game, eventually falling to a Colts offense that scored 32 second-half points in a dome that may or may not have had a higher heating bill that month.
Of course, if the Pats hold a similar lead on Sunday at the half and dare to try and score more in the third and fourth quarters, get ready for another week of “running up the score” nonsense.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see this weekend's Patriots-Colts game:FULL ENTRY
Two points in regards to yesterday's piece...
1) As one reader pointed out, the Texans did, in fact, find some fault with the Colts running up the score against them in 2004. This from the Indy Star: “The Texans found it offensive and disrespectful that, long after the game had been decided, the Colts kept running their offense. Houston players and television analyst Randy Cross were particularly upset that the Colts, rather than running the ball in the fourth quarter, continued to pass - a move Cross referred to as having "no class.”
2) Bob Kravitz responds to our claim here yesterday that the Colts might have been running up the score in 2004 as well. Au contraire, according to Kravitz (and hundreds of other Colts fans in the Inbox).FULL ENTRY
How's this for a four-game stretch of NFL greatness?
That quartet of one-sided scores comes to you courtesy of the 2004 Indianapolis Colts from a November-December period during which Peyton Manning and Company annihilated the Texans, Bears, Lions, and Titans, respectively. And, you know it's funny, I don't remember one person whining about them running up the score.FULL ENTRY