Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you ...
1. The chance to watch the Patriots end Ray Lewis's praise-the-Lord-but-keep-the-camera-on-me charade is almost too delicious to contemplate. In defeat on the road, would he dare to do one final dance, perhaps called "Squirrel to Hibernation and then ESPN,'' in which he orders the Ravens' p.r. guy to put extra turf and random acorns on the field for him to toss around? He belongs in the NFL and the Self-Promotion Hall of Fames, joining Deion Sanders among others in both. But he's much better at the latter than the former, and has been for years.
2. If the Patriots go with their accelerated offense -- and if they don't immediately against an aging, injured Ravens defense that is coming off a double-overtime game in Denver's high altitude, you have to suspect John Fox has somehow taken over the play calling for Josh McDaniels -- Lewis will be completely exposed, particularly if Aaron Hernandez plays with the explosiveness and consistency he did against the Texans. With Rob Gronkowski out for the playoffs, the Patriots need Hernandez to be steadily excellent -- he wasn't in last year's Super Bowl loss -- and he'll get a great opportunity Sunday to prove he's as dependable as he is talented.
3. I'm not sold on Mike Morse as a Plan B if the Mike Napoli deal falls through. He's never played more than 146 games in a season, which he accomplished during his his 31-homer, .910 breakthrough season in 2011, and he's played more than 102 just twice. There's some appeal in watching the 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound former shortstop take aim at the Monster, but he's no safe bet to be durable, and acquiring him would cost legitimate prospects and/or roster players. Signing Napoli on a one-year deal seems like a better plan, even with the questions about how long his hip will hold up.
4. Wouldn't mind the Red Sox bringing back Casey Kotchman as a lefty option/defensive replacement. While it's probably fair to presume at this point that he's never going to live up to his pre-2005 billing as the sixth-best prospect in baseball, he's excellent with the glove, is one year removed from an .800 OPS season in 563 plate appearances with the Rays, and he won't be 30 until February.
5. I mentioned on Twitter a week or so ago that on the back of Dennis Eckersley's 1992 baseball card -- the one pictured here -- he lists his favorite singer as Richard Marx. Good thing I let it stand on its own and resisted the usual snark or I might have had a story to tell along the lines of this one. (Is it me, or does the writer come across as the real jerk in this piece? I'll be right here waiting for your answer.)
6. Enjoyed my colleague Fluto Shinzawa's item in his notebook Sunday on Chris Bourque's quest for a spot on the Bruins' third line as he tries to establish himself as a member of the team for which his dad starred for so long. Figure it also has to be the first story in the Globe archives in which the phrase "Bourque's defensive shortcomings" appears, wouldn't you say?
7. Ed Reed was the 24th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. Players chosen ahead of him included David Carr, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams, Wendell Bryant, Donte' Stallworth, William Green, T.J. Duckett, Ashley Lelie, and, by the Patriots, Daniel Graham. I suspect Reed, not Lewis, is the most respected opponent among the Patriots this week, and he's a free agent after this season. Though he's 34 and injuries have taken a toll, here's hoping Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium is a precursor to Reed playing his home games in Foxborough next season.
8. Even with Jared Sullinger's emergence as a legitimate starter on a good team -- his instincts, intelligence, and extraordinary hands, especially rebounding in traffic, have made him a favorite already -- the Celtics are going to require another rebounder if they're going to play on as far as they hope. Danny Ainge will make a trade. I just hope it can be consummated without giving up Courtney Lee, who after an ugly start has really found his niche as a dogged defender who can run on the break with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. He fits more than Jason Terry does at this point.
9. Bradley is so tenacious and matrix-quick that he's the rare player whom you look forward to watching play defense. He recently tormented James Harden so relentlessly that late in the game the Houston star probably half-expected Bradley to leap out of his beard to poke the ball away. And his ability to force turnovers and turn them into easy scoring opportunities is essential on a team that goes through weird droughts in its halfcourt sets. So we can say it, right? His value to the Celtics was not exaggerated whatsoever in his absence.
You might recognize him as the stoic assistant coach usually seated a few seats down from Doc Rivers on the Celtics bench, but he preceded Doc as the Hawks' point guard (and feeling the four-letter-word wrath of Hubie Brown) and was briefly his teammate during 1983-84, Doc's first season and Hill's last.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.