Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you . . .
1. We all know it’s good policy to give it at least two or three years before ultimately judging an team’s draft class – it helps to actually see them play an NFL game first – but at the moment it’s easy to be encouraged by the Patriots’ picks for two reasons. 1) They added youthful talent at two positions on defense (cornerback, linebacker) where they needed it most. 2) Bill Belichick seemed absolutely giddy – well, for him – during his press conferences the last couple of days, and it’s pretty obvious he thinks Jerod Mayo could be a special player.
2. I admire Al Horford’s relentless style of play, and if I had a rookie of the year vote, he’d probably get it over inefficient Seattle scorer Kevin Durant. And I don’t blame him for getting in Paul Pierce’s face at the end of Game 3 – don’t you want your young players to play the game with such passion and confidence? That said, I have a feeling he’s going to learn a lesson in humility from ol’ No. 34 and the rest of the Celtics in Game 4 tonight. Horford may have the game to back up the talk, but I’m fairly certain he picked the wrong hornets’ nest to whack with a stick.
3. Call me a Tito Apologist if you must, but I don’t blame him at all for leaving Clay Buchholz in during the eighth inning Saturday night, when his spectacular performance was spoiled by Akinori Iwamura’s two-run homer. Seems to me the same people who were charbroiling Francona for leaving Buchholz in are the same ones who would be yowling if he pulled him and either Hideki Okajima or Jonathan Papelbon had coughed up the game. The kid was cruising, and he was beaten when a good hitter hit a good pitch. Sometimes that happens.
4. Felger pointed this out on his radio show the other day, and frankly, it terrifies me: According to baseball-reference.com’s Similarity Scores, the player most like David Ortiz at ages 25, 29, 30, as well as tied for the most similar through age 31, is Maurice Samuel Vaughn. Now, provided Papi’s knee problems aren’t worse than we are led to believe, he should have a longer career than Mo, who was doomed at 35 by injuries, his addiction to bacon, and his Foxy Lady lifestyle. But just the thought of Papi suffering a similarly rapid decline is almost enough to make you pop in “Faith Rewarded,” just to catch a glimpse of him when all was well.
5. Right about now I’m missing the punchline Devil Rays of Victor Zambrano, Ryan Rupe, Tanyon Sturtze, and 12-3 losses to the Red Sox. This sweep was not a fluke, folks. The Rays are stacked with young talent – the long-term signing of rookie Evan Longoria was brilliant and progressive – and while the Sox should still beat them more often than not, I’m convinced they’re the third-best team in the AL East right now. And they’ll only get better as their young pitching arrives and develops.
6. I’ll feel a little bit more confident about the Sox’ bullpen once Mike Timlin finally retires to his possum-huntin’ lodge and either Craig Hansen (so that’s the famous slider he had at St. John’s) or Justin Masterson slides into that sixth- or seventh-inning role. Timlin has more lives than Michael Myers (the “Halloween” killer or the lefty reliever, take your pick), but the way he is throwing the ball, I’d be surprised if he makes it through this season. An 86 mph fastball won’t get it done, especially since his location isn’t what it used to be.
7. One blessing from Bobby Kielty’s hand injury, which is expected to keep him out for at least a month: The Sox have little choice but to retain Coco Crisp for the time being. While I’m officially aboard the Jacoby Ellsbury bandwagon – the two-homer-plus-a-bunt-single game against Anaheim sold me for good that he should be the starting center fielder – Crisp is a valuable player who is showing signs that he may hit again like he did in Cleveland, and the last thing I want the Sox to do was trade him for some second-tier relief pitcher just for the sake of satisfying his wish to play every day. The Sox are a better team with Crisp and Ellsbury, even if the playing-time situation isn’t what both players would like it to be. I’m glad they’re both here, no matter how long it lasts.
(Parade Magazine photo)
8. C’mon now, you didn’t really think I’d abandon the Official Muse of TATB (Non-Wife Division) just because we have fancier digs now, did you? Actually, I was considering passing the honor on to Mindy McCready, but then I read that she’s been taken since puberty, apparently. And for what it’s worth, I thought “The Office” has hit its heartfelt/humorous stride again the last two weeks, particularly with this week’s episode. It’s such a better show when Michael is understated and sympathetic (calling his mom from the club) rather than over the top with the improbable antics (I cringe when I remember him driving the car into the lake).
9. Fascinating story in ESPN Magazine this week on the feud between Venezuelan [edit: Colombian. Duh.] countrymen and fellow shortstops Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria. The piece leaves it unclear as to who is responsible for their falling out – actually, it seems like they never could stand each other in the first place – but based on their individual performances in Boston, I think I know whose side Sox fans would come down on.
10. As for today’s Completely Random Football Card:
Based on what we’ve heard about Pats fifth-rounder Matt Slater – special-teams demon, outstanding speed, potential game-changer as a kick returner – could he possibly have a more different set of football skills than his old man? His mom must have been a free safety or something.