Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: Bruins should soak in resounding Game 5 win, not Thornton-Subban silliness

Word to your mothers.

Speaking of which, have to keep the ‘box lead brief today since this the one day of the year I can’t in good conscience dodge yardwork or any other Mrs. TATB-requested assignments. Gotta give the moms a break today. We must collaborate and listen. She can still clean the litter box, though. Not going near that nuclear test site.

Anyway, concise-for-once thoughts on last night’s thoroughly enjoyable hockey game:

— Carl Soderberg is an odjuret. (That’s Swedish for beast.)

— Nice to Loui Eriksson get one past Carey Price. He’s been flying around in this series without a lot to show for it.

— Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. But it sure looks like Tuukka Rask is raising his game at the right moment.
— Have to figure Shawn Thornton is happy to pay every nickel of his $2,820.52 fine for squirting P.K. Subban with his water bottle. Talk about getting your money’s worth.
— And Subban is absolutely right that it would be a North American crisis for three weeks if he’d done the same thing. For putting up with that, he’s allowed two free dives in Game 6. OK, one. And it can’t result in a power play. I think that’s fair.
On to …
I have to give props to Don Orsillo. Not that there are lot of people who don’t recognize he’s a great play by play guy but it seems often when he’s been paired up with different analysts, we’ve spent more time lauding them (Eckersley, Lyons), which is easy to do. And no doubt, that’s been kind of the story there- the “who is filling in for Remy now?” story. But there’s something to be said for the way Don carries himself and gels with anyone he has worked with. Especially given what Remy was coming back from and how Don also had to manage that along with Jerry, it makes me realize more than ever just how good Don really is at his job.
— Dan

Truth. It’s funny, he’s very good with Remy, but there are other analysts — Eck for one — with whom he is even better. I think that reflects very well on him, his flexibility in bringing out the best in his partner, and a relative lack of ego. Some of the criticism early in his career was fair — he did sound a lot, maybe too much, like Sean McDonough. But he’s proved over time, in various assignments and under difficult circumstances, that he’s one of the best baseball announcers in the country. Listen to him on TBS every fall when the playoffs come around; he’s as good as they have, even calling games involving teams he probably doesn’t see a whole lot during the regular season. He’s a national voice, and NESN is lucky to have him.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what ends up on Gerry Callahan’s head once he removes the hat.
— Brian

Not sure I’ve ever laughed longer at a question. Well done. How scandalous would it be if he’s hiding a bag of jelly Munchkins under there?
Statistical projection systems love Will Middlebrooks, and thus, so do I.
— Guest


As someone who generally encourages optimistic thinking when it comes to sports (and still enjoys when its rewarded), I dig where you’re coming from. Pecota offers comps to Chris Davis and Pedro Alvarez (and, ugh, Ian Stewart) while projecting a .769 OPS. Another well-known projection system did like Middlebrooks a lot entering the season — the Bill James Handbook had him down for an .800 OPS, 32 homers, and 104 RBIs. Others aren’t quite as favorable — the updated ZiPS projection puts him down for a .241/.299/.415 slash line with 17 homers. Steamer is right in the same range: .255/.304/.450 with 15 homers. Not bad, but not exactly Next Troy Glaus numbers, either. And with the James projection, I do wonder if something is lost in the calculus or algorithms or whatnot. It seems to favor his per-162 game numbers (.752 OPS, 30 homers, 94 RBIs) to greater degree than it acknowledges that he spent July in Triple A because he was struggling so much. His production hasn’t been linear. Also worth remembering: the James projection loved him last year (.316 with 29 homers).
You’ve said in the past you have a rule on no local radio appearances. I thought your appearance with Alex Speier to talk about the prospects series was great, was just curious as to why you broke the rule.
— Anonymous

Thank you. The reason was pretty simple. I was really excited to talk to Alex and Gammons about this; I’d have regretted it if I turned down Alex’s offer. So I made an exception. And it was as fun and fulfilling as I’d hoped.
Let’s pluck one from Twitter:

I think you just have to assume there wasn’t a tight end available that they were thrilled with at that particular point in the draft. I was as surprised as anyone at the Jimmy Garoppolo pick in the second round — thought they’d go with Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz, who drew mini-Gronk comps (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and had that Belichick tie in that he played for Kirk Ferentz. But I’ve said this more times over the last few weeks than Mel Kiper has referenced “hand size,” and I’ll say it again: We have no idea about any of these guys. We don’t. We can read up on them, figure out which players might fit best with what the Patriots seem to do … but you really are just playing a guessing game, not only regarding what the Patriots covet, but what they are thinking and how good particular players might become.
As for why they didn’t draft a tight end. Well, they did sign three as undrafted free agents. And I hope Alex is on to something here:

What would Chad Finn’s walk out music be if he got drafted in the first round?
— Guest

Until next week, the mailbox is almost closed. Exit and entrance music, please!

That’s right. “Shadow Dancing.” Andy Gibb. He died of a broken heart, you know. Figuratively (Victoria Principal was a devil woman) and literally (he did so much coke it was a surprise that he didn’t play for the 1978 Kansas City Kings).
You may think I’m kidding. But you’re not sure. Neither am I. But I’m serious about this: “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” would also have to get major consideration. 1977, man.
I wish I could go back, just for a day, just for the laughs. And also to see Butch Hobson hit 30 homers.

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