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Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:31 pm
 

Celtics vs. Nuggets: Time to go Streaking

Have you watched a Celtics game since the beginning of last season where Boston was as streaky as they were against the Nuggets?

After laboring to no avail throughout the first few games of the season to try and put up solid first quarter numbers the Celtics finally throw down 29 in the openning period against Denver only to post a putrid 13 in the second and go into the lockerrooms down by 6.

Although the Denver lead ballooned to 15 at one point in the third, when the Celts started to turn it on with clutch shooting from Allen, House, and Pierce, and took the lead going into the fourth, you thought for sure this was going to be just like Atlanta where the Cs stormed back from an early 16 point deficit or the game before against Toronto where the green and white were stymied in a 14 point hole for a good portion of the second and third periods before taking over down the stretch.

But it was not to be so.

There are two main factors which contributed to the Celtics' downfall in that fourth quarter and the first was Boston's inability to put the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce. The man who has been the hero in the fourth for the Celts every game during the young season (dropping 22 on the Raptors two nights before to give the C's a divisional win) scored 0, yes that is ZERO, points in the fourth. In the final period Pierce only attempted 2 shots, the first a transition three ten seconds in, and the second a mid-range jumper that clanged of the rim for a long rebound to Allen with 7:12 left of the clock. Why wasn't the ball in the hot hands of Paul Pierce when the game was on the line? That brings us to the second fourth quarter issue:

When the game is close in the fourth, your starting point guard shouldn't be on the bench.

You have to know your personel. House is a shooter. Rondo is a disher and a defender. After Ray Allen hit the three from the corner to put the Celts up 83-81 with 4 minutes to play Rivers should have had Rondo on the court to not only shut down the Denver offense, but to put the ball in the hands of the Celtics playmakers on the other end of the floor. There is a time and a place for Eddie House, and that is when the Celtics are struggling to score and need a spark. House provided that spark tonight in the form of 13 points in 19 minutes...but it is those last 5 minutes of playing time that killed the Celts; House was 0-3 from the floor and was burned on the defensive side of floor by the less than stellar Anthony Carter. Put Rondo on the floor for those minutes and those are three more shots in the hands of the big three with a chance to do some damage.

I love House, but at the end of the game I want to see Rajon Rando with his goofy, upside-down headband carrying the ball down the court in his monster hands, dishing it to Paul Pierce so he can give the opposing team a good dose of The Truth and send us all home happy.

Posted on: November 12, 2008 8:10 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2008 8:15 pm
 

AL MVP Predictions:Vote No to Francisco Rodriguez

If the Los Angeles Angels' closer Francisco Rodriguez wins the AL MVP I might cry.

The only solid statistic he has is 62 saves. All that stat is saying is that the Angels played more close games than any other team in the league. There isn't a legitimate baseball fan out there that would argue against the fact that if any of the top 10 closers in the game today were in Los Angeles this year that they wouldn't have saved the same amount of games.

It would be a travesty if Rodriguez won because he had his worst statistical season of his career. His ERA was a solid 2.24, but his WHIP was the highest of his career at 1.29. Compare that to Jonathan Papelbon (0.95), Mariano Rivera (0.67), or Joe Nathan (0.90). You might say, "WHIP is a worthless category", but the fact is that runners weren't just getting on base against him, they were scorching him for a .314 batting average. That is horrendous!! That .314 OBA is .034 points higher than his career average.

And don't throw me the arguement of, "Well he was actually the Most Valuable person to his team", because although he blew 7 saves (7 more than Brad Lidge who has eerily similar numbers but isn't even considered in the NL MVP balloting) if he had blown 20 his team still would have won their division!

The real winner here is going to be Josh Hamilton (.304 AVG, 32 HR, 130 RBI, 35 2B, 98 R, .538 SLG). While second place might seem like losing to most people, for the Texas Rangers, perennial AL West cellar dwellers, it is a huge step in the right direction, and they couldn't have done it without Hamilton. He has the best stats in the American League which makes him the player of the year, and that is really what this award has become.

The other candidates for the award all play on the same teams and will inevitably split votes and come up short. So congratulations in advance to Josh Hamilton, this year's AL MVP.

The final standing should look something like this:

Josh Hamilton OF, TEX

Dustin Pedroia 2B, BOS

Francisco Rodriguez RP, LAA

Justin Morneau 1B, MIN

Carlos Quentin OF, CHI

Alex Rodriguez 3B, NYY

Kevin Youkilis 1B, BOS

Joe Mauer C, MIN

Honorable Mention: Grady Sizemore OF, CLE, Evan Longoria 3B, TB, Miguel Cabrera 3B, DET, Vladimir Guerrero OF, ANA.

Posted on: November 11, 2008 9:03 pm
 

GM For a Day: The Most Boring Topic in Baseball

The Boston Red Sox have a lot of question marks in both their lineup and starting rotation for the upcoming season; How will Oritz produce? Who will follow up Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Lester? Who will be the catcher on openning day? All of which are topics that could keep an enthusiastic baseball fan talking for hours.

I'm here to talk about something much less interesting, but not necissarily less important: The back end of the bullpen.

Last year 43 year old Mike Timlin, once the pivital set up man for Keith Foulke during the historic 2004 playoff run, singlehandedly lost several games for the Sox, not the least of which being an extra inning battle with the Tampa Bay Rays late in the season. A win in that game alone would have given the Red Sox a share of first place and at least a chance to play into home field advantage against those Rays, something that would have come in handy when playing game 7 of the ALCS.

While this may not be the thing on the minds of every Boston fan this off-season, there are several top-notch relievers on the market that won't have you sitting on the edge of you couch moaning, "oh no, not him" when he walks out of the bullpen doors:

Juan Cruz: 4-0, 2.61 ERA, 12.5 K's per 9 innings. Cruz had a breakout season with Arizona in 2008. He's relatively young (30) and his success in 2008 was his second successful season in a row out of the pen, which means he's not a one hit wonder. The only problem with this fireballer is that he likely to be pegged as a cheap closing option for teams with smaller payrolls and will get more money from those teams than the Sox are willing to shell out for a set-up guy.

Joe Beimel: 5-1, 2.20 ERA, 6 K's per 9 innings. This guys is possibly the best out there right now. Over the last 3 years he is has averaged a 4-1 record with a 2.95 ERA and 34Ks. The Sox have a few southpaws in the bullpen at the moment (Okajima and Lopez) but a team can neve have too many effective lefties. Because he does throw left handed, however, his price will be higher than a righty with those same stellar numbers.

Jeremy Affeldt: 1-1, 3.33 ERA 9 K's per 9 innings. Affeldt, after having a somewhat mediocre start to his career as a starter in Kansas City (ERA around 5 and a half), has posted a 3.41 ERA combined pitching in the bullpens of Colorado and Cincinnati the last two years. Again, Affeldt is going to be priced a little higher than a normal reliever with those numbers because he's a lefty, but his 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio might be worth the extra dough.

Keith Foulke: 0-3, 4.06 ERA. Just Kidding...

A couple other options the Red Sox might want to take a waiver on, but on a short term basis only because of their age (38 or older) are Russ Springer (2-1, 2.32), Doug Brocail (7-5, 2.93), Brian Shouse (5-1, 2.81).

Posted on: November 10, 2008 1:30 pm
 

Red Sox Young Gun Yardsale?

Am I the only Red Sox fan who is going to be really upset if Boston ship off a bunch of their young tallent in order to aquire big bats or make room for free agent signings?

Don't get me wrong, I think Mark Teixeira is an amazing first baseman, both offensively and defensively, but I would be heart broken to see Kevin Youkilis starting at firstbase somewhere else next year after the numbers he put up in 2008. Youkilis could get moved to third, but then that means getting rid of Mike Lowell, a guy who is a year removed from being the World Series MVP...granted he had his fair share of injuries last year, but I'm not ready to give up on him yet.

I'm also hearing rumors swirling about possibly aquiring Khalil Greene from the Padres. I know he has played his entire career in a pitcher friendly ballpark and his numbers could improve by moving to Boston, but Jed Lowrie is one of these guys that offers more than just hitting statistics. He has an amazing glove, hustles, and hits for average from both sides of the plate...is it really necissary to go out and trade for a mediocre replacement?

Finally, and this may be the hardest decision the sox have to make all off-season: What to do about the Matt Holliday sweepstakes. The latest news has been that the Rockies would want Bay, Buchholz, and possibly another minor leaguer for the top five outfielder. I love Bay and giving up on Clay Buchholz is going to come back and haunt the Sox like a Hanley Ramirez-ish nightmare.

If there is anyone in Red Sox nation that isn't overwhelmed with enthusiasm by the prospect of watching Youkilis, Pedroia, Beckett, Lowrie, Lester, Papelbon, Ellsbury, Masterson, and all these other young studs play in Boston for the next 10 years, I don't know what is baseball is going to do it for you. I want to keep the youth of the Red Sox intact and show everyone in baseball that the Sox aren't one of these teams that has to go out and buy a championship, but that the strength of the organization is its ability to produce quality, home grown winners.

Posted on: November 9, 2008 11:45 am
 

NFL Predictions Week 10

Upset of the week: Lions 24 - Jaguars 20

The lions are not as bad as everyone thinks they are.

Everyone will tell you, "you're only as good as your record", but those people are the ones who don't know enough about sports to actually analyze the games to determine the actually ability of a team.

The Lions havn't lost a game by more than 8 points in their last 4 and they've had 4th quarter leads in 5 of their 8 games this season. At times their defense is suspect, but in their last 4 contests they've averaged 24 points against, which isn't exactly stellar, but is a managable number.

A lot of times all an offense needs is a little spark to get the points rolling and the signing of Daute Culpepper might just be what the Detroit Lions needed. I know, Daute Culpepper hasn't exactly been the quarterback the lead the Vikings to a 15-1 record, but then again look at the offenses he has played in since then; Miami and Oakland. Detroit has weapons on offense and Culpepper will have an opportunity to, ready for this? Lead the Detriot to a 4-4 record in their last 8 games.

After beating the Jags this weekend, Detriot will also post wins against the Vikings and Colts back to back weeks in December. Their 4th win will come on Thanksgiving, the upset of THE YEAR over Tennessee.

The 0-8 Detroit Lions will finish up the season 4-12.

The rest of my picks for week 10 are as follows:

Saints 27 - Falcons 30

Seahawks 13 - Dolphins 24

Bills 17 - Patriots 23

Rams 24 - Jets 31

Packers 27 - Vikings 24

Ravens 20 - Texans 27

Titans 26 - Bears 16

Panthers 31 - Raiders 17

Colts 24 - Steelers 30

Cheifs 27 - Chargers 42

Giants 24 - Eagles 21

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 6, 2008 6:44 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2008 6:46 pm
 

Happy with the Patriots' season

Tom Brady, the single most influential person in Boston sports, goes down in the first quarter of the first game of a highly anticipated NFL season and I am utterly pleased and overwhelmed with anticipation about New England Patriots football.

That's right, I am just as excited about this Patriots' squad as I was with last years' team at this point in the season and there are 3 reasons why:

It's exciting to watch regular season games again. Over the last few years it has be expected that the Patriots would win every game. You would sit down on Sunday and not wonder "will the Patriots win", but "how much will they win by". There was never a sense of accomplishment when they won, only dispointment when they lost. The joy of watching Patriots' regular season games was lost.

The fact that I can now cozzy up in my recliner and not lean back lazy boy style but balance tenderly on the edge of my seat while the Patriots fight for every victory (or suffer a well faught loss as it may be) is really satisfying. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but watching an inferior version of last years Patriots is more fun...which brings me to my next reason for being excited about the 2008-09 Pats.

Matt Cassel is Solid. Is Matt Cassel going to be a pro-bowler? No. Will he lead the Patriots to the Superbowl? Probably not. But could he be a viable back up for the Patriots or starter somewhere else next year? Absolutely.

Patriots fans have been spoiled over the last half decade with Tom Brady at the helm to the point where solid tallent at the QB position isn't recognized. "He's no Tom Brady" I hear people say all the time. No kidding. Who is? But next year when Matt Cassel is starting somewhere else in the league (Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota) and possibly playing winning football I think people are going to realize that they gave him the shaft right off the bat here in Boston.

Finally, It's fun proving people wrong. I can' t tell you how many blogs and threads were ready to write off the Pats after the loss of Brady. The majority of people were saying they believed the Patriots would "be lucky" to win 4 or 5 games this season. Well, guess what, they have won 5 thus far and we are merely at the halfway point. If Jabbar Gaffney holds onto a gimme TD pass against the Colts last week they are staring 6-2 and sole possesion of first place in the AFC East right in the face.

I know some New England fans who would have sold their first born child to have the Patriots be in this situation halfway through the year after the loss of Brady. The best part about this season is that the Patriots havn't even come close to maximizing their potential. They are going to improve more over the second part of the season than any other team because they have a QB who is still learning the ropes, a RB corp which hasn't been healthy yet, and a very young secondary that gets better every week.

Watch out NFL, the Pats are on their way to playoffs, and once they're there, as they say, anything can happen.

Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com