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On Brady's absence, Wallace's comments, and a Red Sox trade that never happened

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  January 14, 2014 03:14 PM

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Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you ...

Patriots Football.JPEG-0e981.jpg1. After many panicked minutes wondering why Tom Brady wasn't spotted at the media portion of practice this morning, I can come up with only two plausible explanation: He's either working with long-snapper Danny Aiken on holding for extra points and field goals with Ryan Allen injured. Or, the guilt finally overwhelmed Bill Belichick a dozen years after the fact and he's finally decided to give Drew Bledsoe his job back. OK, one plausible explanation, though I do have to ask: Why in the name of Scott Secules can't Ryan Mallett hold? Isn't that what backup quarterbacks are supposed to do? Also, if Brady does end up holding this week, does that increase the possibility of a fake field goal?

2. Found this while poking around in the SI Vault the other day. It's Peter Gammons's list of "Ten Trades That Should Be Made'' from the April 1986 edition, and it's as retroactively awesome as it sounds. Here's one he suggests for the Red Sox:

Outfielder Jim Rice and pitcher Sammy Stewart from Boston to Milwaukee for third baseman Paul Molitor. Molitor can play center and would give Boston a leadoff hitter. Rice could use the change as much as the Brewers could use a cleanup hitter, and reuniting him with his best friend, Cecil Cooper, would be good for both.

molitorpaulfinn113.JPGImagine if that had happened? The Sox might not have made it to the '86 World Series -- that was Rice's last excellent year, when he hit .324 with 20 homers and an .874 OPS and we all missed the harbinger that he no longer pulled the ball anymore. He was done three years later. Molitor was just OK in '86, putting up a .281/.340/.426 line with 9 homers and 20 steals, but he played just 105 games. But the next season, he began his ascent toward Cooperstown. He played just 118 games, but went .353/.438/.566 with 16 homers, 45 steals a league-best 114 runs and 41 doubles, and of course, a 39-game hitting streak. Molitor played another nine years beyond Rice. When you look at it that way, you kind of wish the trade happened, don't you?

3. Gerald Wallace seems like a decent guy. Watching him play, I can't help but think he would have been a great sixth- or seventh-man on contending Celtics teams of the past few years. (Forget that he was getting paid like a superstar.) But his blunt postgame criticisms of the Celtics' effort, while entertaining, aren't really fair. It's not effort. They generally play hard. It's a lack of talent -- most nights, they're lucky to have the third-best player on the court at any given time. He should know that, unless he wants to start calling out Jeff Green specifically.

4. The Jordan Crawford point guard revolution was fun while it lasted, but I'm glad he's moving along to become the Warriors' Martin Lawrence-looking unconscionable chucker now. Can't wait until he looks off an open Steph Curry to fire a contested 25-footer from his hip.

5. Tom Brady has as many trips to the AFC Championship Game in his career, eight, as Peyton Manning has postseason one-and-dones. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it means something.

rodriguezalexfnn.JPG6. Must have been awkward Randy Levine high-fives all around the Yankees front office when word came that Alex Rodriguez was essentially suspended for the rest of his career. At the end of his 162-game ban, he'll be entering his age-40 season having 44 total games since 2012. It's over for him. It doesn't seem right, though, that the Yankees benefited from him taking PEDs -- he hit 309 of his 654 home runs as a Yankee -- and not they benefit financially from having his salary wiped from their books during his suspension.

7. Been going back and forth this morning on Twitter with a Patriots fan who claims they're better off without Rob Gronkowski because Brady forces the ball to him. I mean, no one really believes this, right? Sometimes I wonder how some of these people even manage to open a Twitter account.

8. The Bruins will be fine. Just a January speedbump en route to June for Tuukka and the boys.

9. Who knew that it was indirectly Jody Reed's fault that the Dodgers ended up trading away Pedro Martinez? Look forward to reading more about this in Jonah Keri's upcoming book on the history of the Expos.

10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

sadlerdonniefinn5.JPG

Nomar Garciaparra was the No. 1 prospect in the Red Sox organization in 1995 and '97 according to Baseball America's annual rankings. He fell to No. 2 in '96. Who topped him? Sadler, the speedy second baseman/outfielder who hit .202 with a .546 OPS in parts of eight major league seasons. I'm pretty sure Nomar could hit .202 with a .546 OPS now.

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.

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