Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you …
1. How many more Sundays will it be for Patriots fans (and media) before Tim Wright convinces The Logan Mankins Admiration Society that it was actually a worthwhile trade even without considering salary-cap implications? I say another month. Tops. Upon further review, I think it’s foolish to believe — and I was one who believed this — that the Patriots traded Mankins without having a suitable replacement plan in place. I’m convinced now of two things. 1) Wright, who had 85 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Bengals, is going to be a genuine asset. 2) Bill Belichick believed Bryan Stork would be a more-than-capable starter once he got healthy and acclimated. I mean, the Patriots plan for everything, right? Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind on all of this if Kyle Williams and the Bills stampede Brady.
2. I’m glad the Bruins have apparently decided to keep Loui Eriksson on the third line rather than shoehorning him onto the first line in a misguided attempt to replace Jarome Iginla. He has chemistry with Carl Soderberg that just hasn’t been there with David Krejci. Stick with what works, especially considering that it took so long for Eriksson to fit in correctly last season. Better to let him begin his second season here in a comfort zone.
3. I’ll remember Josh Beckett well despite the defiant and borderline insubordinate nonsense toward the end of the Red Sox career. He was downright brilliant in 2007 and for much of 2008 as well; he played the leading role in one championship and might have helped win another if not for injury. And he also had ancillary connections to some other meaningful moments for Red Sox fans. His brilliance in the 2003 World Series in leading the Marlins over the Yankees blunted some of the pain from what transpired in the ALCS. And of course the August 2012 trade to the Dodgers was crucial in allowing the Red Sox to get a fresh start — and a remarkably quick third championship in 10 years.
4. But it is fitting that his reason for retiring is apparently that he doesn’t want to go through with the arduous rehab necessary to come back. I suppose when you’ve banked $116,465,624 in your career, you can make such decisions. I’m not saying Beckett didn’t have a work ethic. I’m saying he was selective about it, and it kept him from fulfilling his immense promise.
5. Beckett could have been Tom Seaver if all broke right and he possessed a relentless work ethic. Instead, he was Kevin Millwood (his most similar pitcher at each age from 27-32) or John Lackey (his most similar at 33 and 34). Good company, for sure. Just something less than great, which is what he should have been.
6. Matt Adams’s vertical leap — more of a horizontal hop, really — after his NLDS-clinching three-run homer off Clayton Kershaw was pretty much the opposite of Dave Henderson’s spring-loaded jump after his legendary home run in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.
7. Looking forward to watching Marcus Smart on the defensive end. And I’m starting to believe he’ll be fun to watch offensively as well, even if his shot is a work in progress. He reminds me of Marcus Banks athletically, but with a much higher basketball IQ and a far superior work ethic. He’s not the player we wanted the Celtics to get, but he’s going to be one we’re happy they have.
8. The success of the ace-less Royals and Orioles may support Ben Cherington’s comments earlier this season that a No. 1 starter isn’t a necessity for a team with championship aspirations. But I’d much prefer to have one than not, and I am all for pursuing Cole Hamels and James Shields as starters 1A and 1B.
9. Lou Whitaker’s career bWAR in 19 seasons: 74.9. Derek Jeter’s career bWAR in 20 seasons: 71.8. Whitaker is 78th all-time, right behind Johnny Bench and ahead of the likes of Frank Thomas, Reggie Jackson, Barry Larkin, Tony Gwynn, and, yeah, Jeets. It will forever annoy me that he got 2.9 percent of the vote in his one year on the Hall of Fame ballot.
10. As for today’s Completely Random Football Card:
Aaron Dobson isn’t a bust. This is a bust.