This is just what the Patriots needed, an extra day to this terrible month.
In an offseason that can at best be classified as tumultuous since the worst choke in franchise history, it’s certainly a tossup as to which Patriots storyline is most in need of going away quickly.
- The ongoing spygate scandal
- The impending loss of Asante Samuel
- The potential loss of Randy Moss
- Kevin Faulk busted for ganja
- Tom Brady set to release his inner Kramer as a Calvin Klein model
Look, I understand the nature of being optimistic when it concerns an exciting young team as we hurtle toward Opening Day. Last spring, I was one of the many who jumped on the Milwaukee Brewers bandwagon and thought they would be able to sustain the long run in the NL Central. They didn’t, but finished just two games off the pace, at 83-79, a marked improvement over recent years. Now they have Eric Gagne. I’m not as high on them.
The consensus is that this year’s surprise team will be the Tampa Bay Rays. New look (kind of), new name (not really), new attitude (Elijah Dukes, we hardly knew thee). OK, I’ll bite.
The Rays boast a healthy amount of young talent, including Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, and former Cape Cod League MVP Evan Longoria, who could make an impact this season. Carlos Pena had a major rebound season in 2007, swatting 46 home runs. James Shields and Scott Kazmir provide a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.FULL ENTRY
In case you haven’t kept up with the offseason happenings of Tony Dungy, perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that the Colts coach is lending his likeness to a new video game, NFL Head Coach 09, in which EA Sports hopes “to help usher in a smarter generation of football fans, fans who can design their own plays, run a draft, balance the salary cap, and take a downtrodden team to Super Bowl glory.” Matt Millen has ordered multiple copies for the entire front office.
GameTap: Are there going to be any cheat codes in the game where I can spy on my opponents?
Tony Dungy: [laughs] I don't know about any cheat codes. They say that's really a big secret around here, it's like Spygate. I don't know if they put that in there or not or what the penalty would be if you entered any cheat codes, but we'll probably only let New England have cheat codes.
Fine. As long as there’s also a feature where you can whine to the league about defensive rule changes.
In other, "Can this offseason get any worse?" news, you may have seen these already, but I'm convinced the top one should serve as the ultimate motivational tool for 2008. I'd love to see Richard Seymour and that clown throw down.
Doesn’t it just get you all tingly?
I don’t know about you, but after reading today’s Red Sox notebook, I’m not sure if there’s any bit of information that can negatively affect me for the remainder of my waking hours. In a move that is sure to awaken Boston baseball geeks to some lively spring training breakdown, Red Sox manager Terry Francona listed his starting lineups for tomorrow’s exhibition openers against Boston College and Northeastern, which means we’re literally just hours away from actual, real, honest-to-goodness, live baseball.
It might be just a pair of exhibition games against collegians more apt to be star struck than focused, but it will be at least some level of competition for the champs of hardball. Josh Beckett will get the opportunity to blow away the BC kids, while prospect Justin Masterson will hurl against Northeastern students not much younger than his 23 years.FULL ENTRY
It’s now obvious that Marty Barrett has become Jim Rice’s Cooperstown counterpart when it comes to the Red Sox Hall of Fame selection committee.
Congratulations go out to this year’s honorees, which include the worthy trio of Mike Greenwell, Mo Vaughn, and Bill Lee. Lee’s inclusion is surprising only in that he wasn’t already a member of the now-13-year-old club, but the club’s decision to induct Greenwell and Vaughn in the same calendar year is certain to raise some eyebrows. Maybe they’ll set up a batting cage at the ceremony and try to recreate one of their finest moments. For old time’s sake.
While their 1991 Anaheim dustup was one of the more infamous moments in a less cuddly Red Sox era barren of Sweet Caroline and membership privileges, both are perhaps more in the crosshairs these days thanks to their bit parts in the wonderful world of steroids. Vaughn, of course, was named in the Mitchell Report, while Greenwell wants the MVP that Jose Canseco stole back in 1988.FULL ENTRY
So what if the only thing Bartolo Colon refuses to stick a fork into is himself?
With the shoulder injury to Curt Schilling, the Red Sox obviously felt the need to seek out another overweight starter to add to their arsenal of pitching, agreeing on a minor league deal with one-time stud Colon that could shake up Boston's starting staff, or at the very least, Boca Grande's estimated 2008 profit margin.
Theo Epstein could have a steal on his hands with the 34-year-old Colon, three years removed from a Cy Young Award, or he could have the next Wade Miller. Either way, it will cost Boston next to nothing. Low-risk, high reward. What’s not to like?
In all likelihood, Colon’s best days are behind him. The roly-poly righthander has just 7 wins to his credit over the past two seasons, during which the Angels paid him $26 million, or $3.71 million per victory. To put that in some perspective, Grady Sizemore, the young Indians All-Star who was the centerpiece of the Expos-Indians trade for Colon back in 2002, made $750,000 last season, and will get a raise to $3 million in 2008. That's two seasons of Sizemore for what the Angels dished out per win over a two-year span.FULL ENTRY
It’s been a riveting start to spring training.
So far we’ve come to find out that Craig Hansen no longer snores and Hideki Okajima has a secret.
In the coming days and weeks, stay tuned as we bring you fascinating updates on why Dustin Pedroia switched toothpaste brands and which video games Clay Buchholz played over the winter. Hey, NESN has two hours to fill tomorrow morning. If it comes to it, we'll start breaking down the debate over Brandon Moss vs. Bobby Kielty as fifth outfielder. Now that's Saturday morning TV.
Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon showed up yesterday and stopped just one step short of telling airplane and pull-my-finger jokes. Because if Hansen’s recovery from sleep apnea was going to be the big story of camp, we were going to start praying that Manny Ramirez wouldn’t show up until March.FULL ENTRY
After 4½ hours of embarrassing questioning on Capitol Hill yesterday, here is what we learned.
Either Roger Clemens or Brian McNamee is lying.
We already knew that.
Our elected representatives proved to be a bunch of unprepared grandstanders, able to be influenced by fame and unable to push aside party politics in an effort to dig down to the truth.
We already knew that, too.
The Clemenses once had a hot nanny. Either that, or McNamee likes older women.FULL ENTRY
We can give Roger Clemens this: He’s apparently dumb enough to believe himself.
If Clemens hadn’t made a second career out of talking out of both sides of his mouth for more than two decades, perhaps it might be easier to believe him heading into tomorrow’s congressional hearing. Maybe.
After all, it’s not like Clemens’ appearance in the Mitchell Report was exactly a “Crying Game” moment. Many had long suspected that he had dabbled in some sort of performance-enhancing drugs based on the dramatic upturn in his performance as he grew older and the way he doubled in size over the past decade. That’s what we loved about Clemens, we got older…he stayed the same age.FULL ENTRY
It's hard to believe that ESPN would feel the need to pull this ad for "ESPN the Weekend" at Walt Disney World. I mean, Roger Clemens and Dana Jacobson in the same spot? Who's going to have a problem with that?
Now that the truck is on its way, following our ridiculous annual overtures to bid the rig bon voyage, we can rest assured in the fact that baseball season is but seven weeks away, and for the second time in the past four Opening Days, the Red Sox will be honored as World Series champs. Terry Cashman, stay away. Far away.
Up until last week’s startling news about Curt Schilling's spaghetti shoulder, it had been a relatively quiet offseason for the Olde Towne Team, odd by any stretch of a normal Sox winter in town and certainly the polar opposite of the last time they were champs. That was an offseason highlighted by Johnny Damon’s “Idiot” promo tour, public sniping directed toward Alex Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez’s defection to the Mets, Derek Lowe’s signing with the Dodgers, and the whereabouts of the World Series ball.
This time around ... well, they re-signed Mike Lowell and Schilling and might or might not have had serious interest in Johan Santana. Beyond that, the Red Sox seemed content to allow the spotlight to shine on the undefeated Patriots. There was no cross-country chase for Daisuke Matsuzaka, no Thanksgiving Day deals to speak of. Glenn Geffner and Charles Steinberg both left for more temperate climates, with a mixture of sadness and good riddance in particular circles. Sean Casey signed on in a backup role, generally regarded as a nice move for the team. Doug Mirabelli re-signed in a backup role, a move nobody really applauded except for Tim Wakefield.FULL ENTRY
I suppose it wouldn’t be February without some Curt Schilling drama.
So, Schilling is out until at least the All-Star break with a shoulder injury that apparently, just suddenly came up. If it’s in any way related to carpal tunnel, well there’s a PR hit for G38 Studios.
As Nick Cafardo alludes to today, this may actually end up helping the Sox in the long run. Would you rather have Schilling putting more strain on the shoulder in meaningless April and May games, or have him down the stretch? Forget the All-Star break, come back in September and work your way toward October. By that point, Clay Buchholz could have 14 wins and be on track for the Rookie of the Year award, and Schilling will have to shout over the excitement to announce he’s returned. Which, we understand won’t be an issue.FULL ENTRY
Maybe some of us needed this.
I mean, let's face it; the Boston Sports Fan hasn't exactly shed him or herself in the most endearing light as of late.
A few short years ago we were generally considered the most knowledgeable and passionate fan base in America. Today, we're greatly perceived as obnoxious loudmouths who spit on the psyche of all other sports fans who dare not sport the shades of the local fandom.
The former and the latter are generally gross generalizations, for sure, as Boston indeed possessed plenty of each in separate eras of winning and losing. But it is the perceived arrogance that ultimately characterizes the fan base today on a national level.FULL ENTRY
Here's how that Reebok "Perfectville" commercial might have looked...if.
Hey, Pats fans. If you hurry - and have a spare $185 laying around - perfection can still be yours.
You still have time to order your own special, limited edition Waterford Crystal XLll Super Bowl Champion Football, complete with the Patriots logo adorned with 19-0, Super Bowl XLII champs. Perfect.
"Patriot perfection!" reads the description on Macys.com. "Nineteen wins. Zero losses. Football history has been rewritten, and the New England Patriots have won it all! Commemorate every bone-crunching tackle and triumphant touchdown with this limited edition Waterford Crystal football."
You have to allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery. Shouldn't be a problem though, right?
Whether this was the most heartbreaking loss in Boston history boils down to a matter of personal opinion of cowhide over pigskin, or vice versa.
Whether it was the worst loss is certainly up for debate. In time, the Manning Escape will go down in Boston sports infamy, like Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, and Aaron Boone before it.
But to ask whether it is the biggest choke in all of New England sports history is a no-brainer: It absolutely is.
With all that was at stake, the 18-0 Patriots coughed up a chance at perfection by failing to adjust to the Giants’ speed rush attack on Tom Brady, and found themselves making the curious mistakes that they usually force out of their opponents. Gone is Lombardi, 19-0, and NFL coronation, replaced with the ignominy of being the first 18-0 team in history to collapse at the most inopportune time.FULL ENTRY
The moment had been detailed so meticulously, just as any other athletic march to history might be, that its inevitability seemed never in question.
Such is not the case with 19-0. No asterisk needed, New York.
The New England Patriots are no longer perfect.
Never has 18-1 looked so lame a mark.FULL ENTRY
If you’re planning on watching tonight’s Super Bowl on anything larger than a 55-inch TV, you’d better hope it’s a limited guest list. The NFL might hunt you down.
The league is cracking down on big-screen church gatherings to watch the game because it violates the NFL’s copyright laws. In Washington DC, that means 200 members of the Immanuel Bible Church will have to disband to smaller, private parties, with smaller TVs.
The Washington Post’s Jacqueline L. Salmon writes, “The league bans public exhibitions of its games on TV sets or screens larger than 55 inches because smaller sets limit the audience size. The section of federal copyright law giving the NFL protection over the content of its programming exempts sports bars, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.”
But isn’t this rule a bit antiquated considering the advent of super-size, HDTV sets? Models that are 55-inches and higher are the norm these days, not the exception. What’s the big dif? Cash, of course.
The Baltimore Sun's Bill Ordine points out: “one person watches the game on an 18-inch screen, it counts the same in the ratings as 200 people watching on a 60-inch screen. So, as usual, there's more than a whiff of money involved here.”
So, do the NFL a favor. Watch the game alone. On a separate TV. It’s the least you can do.
If Randy Moss weren’t playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl, here is where he’d be more than likely watching the game:
(Charleston Daily Mail)
That’s “The Shed” of longtime friend Sam Singleton in Charlestown, West Virginia, where the Patriots wide receiver kicks back and relaxes when he returns to his home state. And as the Charleston Daily Mail points out, it really is a backyard shed.
Seven television sets hooked to cable and satellite dishes, stereo surround sound, a microwave oven, a refrigerator and memorabilia from Moss' professional career adorn the walls.
It's a property owned by Sam Singleton, a longtime friend and self-proclaimed "personal chef" to Moss.
"This is his place to kick back," said Singleton, 57. "It's his home away from home."
The shed was built by Singleton more than 10 years ago. It has taken on a life of its own because of Moss' affection for it.
Although Moss, 30, makes an estimated $8 million a year in the NFL, you wouldn't know it by the chair he chooses to lounge in.
He relaxes in an ordinary black, metal office chair. It doesn't recline, nor does it have any armrests.
On the bottom of it, four gutted tennis balls are placed on each leg to keep the chair from scratching the floor tile.
This place looks like Doc Brown’s workshop. As for how Moss likes his BBQ wings: "He doesn't like a lot of sauce," Singleton said. "So, I when I cook it, I just sauce one side of the wings."
The more you know.
Because it’s Friday, by now there’s nothing more to bring to you as we lead up to Super Bowl XLII other than the long journey of the Giants punter or the weekend plans for the Patriots team barber, so we present to you this riveting first-hand account of a former Michigan female classmate’s encounter with Tom Brady:
I had a class with him at University of Michigan, and we were in the same 20-person discussion section. I was surprised how deep his voice was. Very manly.
One day, as we were leaving class, Tom was ahead of me. I may or may not have waited until he left class to follow him. Of course it could have just been coincidence that he was right in front of me. Or fate.
He held the door for me! I said, “Thanks” in a tone just above a whisper. What I really wanted to say was, “Oh my God thank you so much I love football and I love you and can we go somewhere and cuddle and we would just have the cutest babies!!?”
I was a loser though and had to get to my next class, so I didn’t even get to follow him that day. Um, I mean I had to go to class, so we parted ways.
If this doesn’t tear you up, you do not have a heart.
Who they're picking
How folks from around the country see this Sunday's Super Bowl between the Patriots and Giants:FULL ENTRY