Run for your life Johnny Football! Manziel bombs against the Bengals
Greetings from the Hoodwood where the locals are hoping for another Fantasy Football title.
NFL: Manziels Big Flop
The hype was palpable. Johnny Football was going to get his first start in the NFL, the much ballyhooed 2012 Heisman winner and first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns was going to get take the stage and possibly shine against a vunerable Cincy squad that had suffered a painful 4th quarter collapse against the Steelers. But the Bengals came out running and the Browns came out…flat. Far from being inspired by their crazy crowd, Manziel looked scared. He looked tentative. The Bengals seemed to be everywhere on defense and Manziel was getting beat on like a rag doll. Manziel finished a pathetic 10-18 for only 80 yards. 80! Manziel and the Browns only had the ball 38 plays and barely 20 minutes as the Browns were hammered 30-0 to be formally eliminated from the divisional and for all intents and purposes the AFC playoff race. Manziel said he was “humbled” by his performance. You think about it, Manziel had been chirping to get the start and when Brian Hoyer finally played his way out of the starting position, the natives figured Manziel was going to be ready to step in. Instead, Manziel looked confused, unprepared. He threw two interceptions and was sacked three times and his QBR? 1.0 That’s it…it wasn’t like his counterpart Andy Dalton was that much better but he didn’t really need to be. He had the redoubtable running of Jeremy Hill who ran for 148 yards which was more yards by himself than the Browns had in the entire game. Manziel may look back at this inauspicious start of his career and laugh. I doubt that though.
NFL: Reseed the playoffs?
Here we go again, the whining commences because the NFC South is the bastard child of the NFL this year. Remember when the NFC West champ won the division with a 7-9 record? That team was the Seattle Seahawks they won the division and hosted a playoff game while the NFC South had three teams win 10 games or better and the Tampa Bay Bucs with the New York Giants both won 10 games and were on the outside looking in. This year it’s the reverse. The NFC South is the weak team and there is a chance that a team with a worse than .500 ledger will win the division. Commence the whining, reseed the playoffs. Now this has quieted some as the chances that the Cowboys might win the NFC East, but there will likely be a team that will win at least 10 games and miss the playoffs. Now who will it be? Detroit? Green Bay? Philly? Seattle? Dallas? Keep in mind that Arizona has already taken one playoff spot off the table. There are five teams but only four spots left. Someone is going to be left out in the cold and the crying will commence. Lets be clear the playoffs don’t need to be reseeded, you don’t need to add an extra team. The playoffs are fine the way it is. This isn’t every one gets a trophy. Some teams are going to get left out, you have to have a division winner and that winner hosts a playoff game as reward. Yeah the NFC South is weak but the game is cyclical.
Six Divisional Titles in a Row for the Pats
Is Peyton getting the noodle arm?
The end of the Jets-Titans game was a madhouse
The Pacers were up on the Lake Show at one time 53-19
Kobe passes MJ and his sycophants go nuts, I say big deal
Damn, Jay Cutler is that bad…
The Bandits win in the GMFL Playoffs and are going to the title game.
While chuckling at the pretty accurate description of me in the pic below...
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The game may have lacked offensive explosiveness but after Tom Brady and the Patriots spent the first three quarters of the game suffering under the pressure of the San Diego Chargers defense, it was nice to see them get things going in the fourth quarter. The resiliency of the offense in that fourth quarter helped the Patriots come back and beat San Diego 23-14.
Brady (pictured below 1st) ended up with 317 passing yards for the game. He had 2 TD passes. While he was sacked one time, you can generally overlook that. What you can't overlook is how the one interception he threw (picked off by Manti T'eo, pictured below 2nd) was another one of those gawdawful-what-the-hell-was-he-thinking variety picks. He had nothing on the throw and if any Patriot player had caught that ball it would've been an early Christmas miracle.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals in the game while Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski supplied the touchdown scores. Edelman caught 8 passes for 141 yards including the career long 69 yard catch and run for the score (see below 1st). Gronkowski also caught 8 passes for 87 yards and his TD (see below 2nd).
The run game was once again relatively ineffective. That is, when the Patriots bothered to use it at all. They totaled just 87 yards on the ground for the game. Thankfully the Patriots defense stepped up big time. They held the Chargers to just 53 total rushing yards.
Akeem Ayers picked off Chargers QB Phillip Rivers. The "D" also sacked Rivers 4 times. Jamie Collins picked up 2 of those sacks while Rob Ninkovich (see below) had one.
The Patriots play the Dolphins today and with a win can wrap up the AFC East division. Despite their struggles with the Chargers, I think the win demonstrated that they can play a tough, tight game and come out on top when everyone is working together.
In other NFL news, Greg Bedard had a piece on TheMMQB.com about the New Orleans Saints and their lack of leadership and professionalism. You can check out the piece via this link.
For anyone worried about the career prospects for now ex-Florida coach Will Muschamp, I think you can hold off on the charity telethon for a bit. According to an article on SI.com, he's been hired as the new defensive coordinator at Auburn. He's the fourth guy to hold the job in the last five years.
Army-Navy Game - Despite a rather game effort from Army, the Navy came out on top in the Army-Navy game for the 13th straight year. Led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds (see below far right) the Midshipmen won 17-10. He had 1 passing TD and ran for another score with his 100 yards rushing.
Congratulations to the Midshipmen!
Bowl Games - The full list of this year's bowl matchups can be viewed HERE.
While I will be interested in the semi-final bowl games that lead to the matchup, particularly the Alabama-Ohio State game, there really isn't a whole heck of a lot of games that scream out for me to watch them. Sure, I'll probably watch a game here and there as I happen to come across them. But besides the title playoff games, the only game that instantly draws me in is the Boston College-Penn State matchup in the Pinstripe Bowl on December 27th (ESPN, 4:30 pm).
There are some games featuring teams that have a storyline that might interest some people though.
In the Las Vegas Bowl, will Colorado State rebound after being jilted by coach Jim McElwain for the Florida job?
The Independence Bowl has Miami and South Carolina. Both teams are a disappointing 6-6 going into the game and will be looking for any little kind of bright light to point to for this season, particularly South Carolina who started off the season with some very high hopes.
The Holiday Bowl features Nebraska, and you have to wonder how they'll play after firing Bo Pelini.
The Outback Bowl has Wisconsin which is a topic I'll address below.
Wisconsin - The coaching situation at Wisconsin took a weird turn this week. After just two years in charge, Gary Andersen stepped down as head coach in order to take the job at Oregon State. That's like going from the penthouse to the outhouse in terms of support and facilities. The move surprised everyone.
Rumors of Andersen's disatisfaction with pay packages for his assistants and unhappiness with the admissions policies in place at Wisconsin have popped up but there's been nothing confirmed.
The Badgers still have the Outback Bowl to play, so I think it is another example of a coach not finishing the job before leaving for the next one. As always that irks the hell out of me.
Stranger still is that Wisconsin AD (and former football coach) Barry Alvarez is going to coach the team during the bowl game. this is the second time in 3 years he's done this. The looming shadow of Alvarez was another rumor that popped up this week as well. My question about this move is why does Alvarez need to coach the team. You mean to tell me one of the coordinators, coaches who've actually been with the team all season long can't step up to coach the team on the 1 game interim basis? Alvarez was quoted saying that the seniors on the team asked him to coach the game. If that's true, is it an indictment of how the players feel about the leftover coaches or are they really that fond of Alvarez?
Meanwhile, on Friday came reports that the school will hire Pitt coach Paul Chryst (shown below) as their new coach sometime after December 17th. You can read more details about that HERE. He was the Badgers offensive coordinator from 2005-2011 so he does have good ties to the school. It would also seem that he understands how things work there too.
Whatever happens, after losing to coaches in the space of three years, the Badgers had better hope they get this hire right. Otherwise, people are really going to start asking questions if coaches keep leaving what is considered a high profile job for new posts that are clearly a step down.
A lot of the teams I root for played during the course of the week and don't have another game scheduled until later this afternoon. You can read what I had to say about those games that were played in my latest Mid Week College Basketball Update. Five of the six teams I've been writing about so far this season will play their next game this afternoon.
Boston College Men - The Eagles played Maine on Thursday night and ended up coming away with an 85-74 victory to improve to 5-3 on the season. Aaron Brown (shown below) led the team in scoring with 21 points.
The surprising contributions from Dennis Clifford (pic below) were a huge factor in powering Boston College to the win. While he's been working hard, his offense has been a work in progress. But against Maine, his struggles seemed to clear up as he poured in a career high 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He also blocked 3 shots. If he can become a consistent offensive threat, it gives BC yet another scoring option and they become that much more dangerous.
Patrick Heckmann (shown below 1st) scored 13 points and had 4 steals, while Dimitri Batten finished with 12 points. Olivier Hanlan (shown below 2nd) had 10 points and 6 assists.
Looking at the box score, another component of the win was the Eagles outscoring Maine 30-8 in the points off turnovers category.
(all pics from BC game photo galleries)
Here's the video highlights:
You can read my latest Celtics Report blog post HERE.
For my take on the moves the Red Sox made to shore up their pitching rotation, you can checkout my blog post HERE.
When Bret Lawrie was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays, the reaction of one of his young fans set Youtube ablaze. It appears there was a somewhat happy ending to the story though. Read it HERE.
Former Chicago White Sox outfielder Mark Gilbert became the first ex-player to be named an ambassador for the United State. You can learn more about him HERE.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Check out this story on the Sports Illustrated High School Athlete of the Month for December, New Hampshire soccer player Kate Marshall.
Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - B-P ended up losing to Diman Voke by 10 points (48-38) in their season opener. I was told they were ahead for much of the first half but had poor shooting and picked up lots of fouls.
Wareham Girls Varsity - I went to the third and final scrimmage for Wareham this past Wednesday. They were up against Upper Cape and while Wareham didn't look particularly good, they were a lot better than Upper Cape. They played four quarters and Wareham won two of them while tying the other two. When I first got to the gym, I dropped off some Boston College women's basketball tickets I picked up for one of my ex-players to her father. I also gave the father of another player the letter of recommendation his daughter asked me to write for her National Honor Society application thing.
In the scrimmage, Gabby drained a couple more three pointers. There's six girls on the varsity that I coached in the past. Gabby, Erica, Kali, Tieyanna, Brianna and Kiara.
The Vikings went on the road to play Bishop Stang in their season opener but fell flat, losing 56-29. Tieyanna led the Vikings with 12 points. But the team's poor shooting and 27 turnovers were key factors cited in their big loss. The starting five for Wareham featured 4 players that I had a hand in coaching at some point during their youth league days. Gabby had 3 points in the game, while Brianna had 2 points and Kali added 6.
By the way, here's a team candid photo I totally stole from Gabby's FB page.
Upper Cape Girls JV - It was a rough and tumble kind of game against South Shore Voke Tech. The game was full of uncalled physical play that should've resulted in lots of fouls (on both sides). But Upper Cape came away with a 27-8 victory to start their season off right. I've got two players on the team. Laurina started and served as captain. She was the point guard when she was in the game. She was 1-2 from the floor for 2 points. She forced a jump ball call, had an assist, an offensive rebound and a steal to go with 2 turnovers. Ann Marie started as well. She was 2-7 from the floor for 4 points. She missed two foul shots as well. She had an assist, 4 steals and a defensive rebound. She also committed 4 turnovers and a foul.
Upper Cape Girls Varsity - After watching Upper Cape scrimmage on Wednesday and look absolutely awful against Wareham, I had no idea what to expect. But since South Shore Voke Tech is not a good team, I guess the final score of 68-12 in favor of Upper Cape shouldn't have been much of a surprise. The game was a blowout from the start as the Rams were up 19-3 after the first quarter and just kept rolling.
It's actually hard to decipher how the team looked on a technical basis given they were playing a team so clearly inferior. But all the defensive lapses they had in the Wareham scrimmage were held to a minimum and the team worked together in passing the ball and getting it to the open player.
Michaela had an off game to start her season. She was 1-12 from the floor for 2 points. She had 4 steals and 2 rebounds to go with a turnover and a foul.
EX-PLAYER LEGAL NEWS
While all my ex-players still in high school are making a good showing for themselves by staying involved in athletics and not being arrested, there's news on a couple of my former players who have been IN court instead of ON one.
One of the four ex-players charged in connection with a murder here in town saw his charges reduced and got out on personal recognizance. I'm sure one can guess that he's making a deal and that's why he's suddenly out of prison. You can read more HERE.
Another of my ex-players, Eric, got arrested in connection with a robbery of a local restaurant. This is a new charge for him but he's no stranger to run-ins with the law. That story is HERE.
As always, I'm left shaking my head at the inherent stupidity these former players of mine continue to show in their decision making.
It's been 15 years since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hush" was broadcast. TVGuide.com ran an oral history article on the episode this week. You can check it out HERE.
Movies - I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD this week. I loved the movie in the theater and watching it again was a thrill ride. It will be featured on my Best of 2014 movie list that I will be writing up soon.
In the meantime, you can check out the Honest Trailer for the movie below, it is rather funny.
Grantland.com had an oral history article on the making of the film Boogie Nights. It is an entertaining and extremely long piece. You can check it out HERE.
Books - I finished reading the Janet Evanovich / Lee Goldberg novel The Chase this week. It's the second book in the Kate O'Hare / Nick Fox series that teams up an FBI agent with thief to take down other bad guys. While the premise is clearly something akin to the TV show White Collar, this has a bit more of an international thriller vibe (although retaining the more lighthearted feel of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series).
I really enjoyed the book a lot this time around and can't wait for the third book The Job to make its way to paperback.
Comics - Free Comic Book Day is almost six months away, but the Gold Sponsor level books that will be available on the first Saturday in May 2015 have been announced. You can see the list HERE.
Music - The new U.D.O. album Decadent is due out in the US on February 3rd. The official video for the song has been released and you can see it below.
The new group Revolution Saints features Night Ranger bassist Jack Blades, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and Journey drummer Deen Castronovo. Their self-titled debut album is due out February 24th. But you can see the video for the song "Turn Back Time" below.
My 2015 Calendar - I know it is a bit old fashioned given how most people use the calendar feature on their phones nowadays, but I always use REAL calendars. Usually I grab one up from the local pizza place, or from Dunkin Donuts. Or I take one of the few that we get from my job. But this year, I picked up one for the TV show Firefly so I'll "Keep Flyin'" with them all year long.
Greetings from deep in the heart of Red Sox Nation. I know the Gab has covered the Jon Lester / Red Sox free agency debacle well yesterday with O.H. and Lanz helping keep the East Coast Bias alive and well.
Just my two cents here: The Red Sox strung along their fans and stayed on the back-page by staying in the Lester negotiations with no intention of signing him. They had to make what looked like an attempt, but they had two opportunities earlier and passed on them both. In spring training they failed to make a reasonable offer and insulted Lester and his agent with an extreme low-ball offer. If they wanted him at all costs, he would have been signed before opening day.
Second, if they wanted to give him a real offer they would never had traded him to Oakland. If they had kept him, they would have had an exclusive window to negotiate and sign him. They passed on that as well unloading him for a player that did not fit their philosophy and was always intended to be traded (Yoenis Cespedes). After the season, the Red Sox made enough of an offer to look interested without doing what it would take to keep Lester.
In fact, I kind of feel like Lester should be upset at himself for letting himself be used by the Red Sox front office. The Red Sox slapped Lester across the face with a low-market offer. The Red Sox traded him. Lester--in a point missed by many yahoos on social media and calling in to the sports talk radio stations--has every right to go out in a free market--after playing for years at a below market level--to make as much money as he can for himself.
How many of us have left a job for another that pays better? Or allows us to be in what we think is a better situation? Or go to work for someone we are familiar with or more comfortable with? Did anyone slam us on social media or the radio? Would we be insulted if someone said that we weren’t loyal? That we were selfish? (I know what I’d say to them!)
So the Red Sox let out a collective breath that Lester did not take the deal they offered that they did not want him to take and just offered to appease the fanbase, then immediately got down to doing exactly what they planned on all along: Rebuild the pitching staff with talented young hurlers who have upside. They did it, and they gave up NOTHING to get three quality starters.
With chips leftover from their house-cleaning when they dumped over $200 million in bad contracts on the Dodgers, they sent the two future middle relievers they got from Los Angeles to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange for ground-ball tossin’, best pickoff move in baseball dealin’, big upside lefty Wade Miley the Red Sox gave away Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster. De La Rosa and Webster are not frontline starters, but can contribute in a weak bullpen or be a fringe starter on a bad team (hello, Arizona).
The Red Sox then swung a deal with the Tigers for young starter Rick Porcello who is still only 26 years old and has...upside. Porcello pitched over 200 innings, won 15 games, and had an ERA under 3.50. All the Red Sox gave up was Cespedes (who was NEVER anything but trade bait with his sub-.300 on base percentage), another future middle reliever/fringe fifth starter Alex Wilson, and a 19-year old prospect who has already had Tommy John surgery and has not pitched a game above rookie league (sub single-A) yet.
Finally, the Red Sox got “the one who got away” back by signing former farmhand Justin Masterson back after he blossomed in Cleveland. Yes, Masterson was injured last year and cost himself some money, but for less than $10 million on a one-year deal, the Red Sox got a pitcher they know well and who was the number one starter for a team that made the playoffs back in 2013. Masterson is another ground-ball machine who should enjoy the long infield grass and Gold Glove second baseman (and underrated Pablo Sandoval at third base) of Fenway Park like Miley will as well.
Somehow, the Red Sox are one big starting pitcher (James Shields? Trade for Cole Hamels? Trade for Jordan Zimmerman or Doug Fister?) from finishing a complete rotation rebuild and finishing the off-season with strong depth and affordable pieces. With Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and a return to health for Dustin Pedroia, the lineup should be back to its usual on-base percentage and slugging ways. Now they can focus on filling in the bullpen.
Finally, they did not sacrifice a single top prospect: catchers Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart, shortstops Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero, second baseman/outfielder Mookie Betts, outfielders Manuel Margot and Rusney Castillo (is the 27-year old CUban considered a “prospect”?), starting pichers Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Edwin Escobar and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Sox still have their farm system, did not overpay for starting pitchers over 30 (yet!), and have a deep staff and punch in the lineup. I never thought Lester was coming back to Boston, so the work done so far is a good start for the Red Sox so far.
Hello folks, and welcome to this week’s Grumble with IHM. Been a long week for yours truly… mostly because of the wait I’ve been dealing with since Monday, when I got a call with a potential job offer making a hell of a lot more money than I’ve ever made thus far in my “career”. As of the time I’m writing here, I still haven’t heard back… but I’ll keep the hope alive until I hear otherwise!
Been a big week in baseball hot stove news, as the winter meetings are in full swing in San Diego. This week’s biggest players have been the A’s, Dodgers, and Cubs; all of whom made big splashes in one way or another. The A’s seem to be in the midst of yet another firesale… first trading Josh Donaldson last week, and this week trading away Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox for a gaggle of low level prospects (the Sox also added closer David Robertson) and All Star 1B/OF Brandon Moss to Cleveland for a prospect. With a shitty stadium, shitty ownership that refuses to spend a dime, and a GM who seems to enjoy rebuilding more than any fan can stand, how does this team maintain any form of a fan base? Good lord!
The Dodgers were all over the place this week. On Tuesday they made a move to bring in Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins. Wednesday they made another series of moves… acquiring a handful of prospects from the Marlins for All-Star 2B Dee Gordon, SP Dan Haren (who is allegedly retiring, in which case the Marlins receive $10 million from the Dodgers), and SS Miguel Rojas. They then parlayed parts of the Marlins trade into All-Star 2B Howie Kendrick (formerly of the Angels, much to DVT’s chagrin), then made another deal moving former star Matt Kemp to San Diego in exchange for C Yasmani Grandal, cleaning up the mess that was their crowded outfield situation. The team is also allegedly near a deal with SP Brandon McCarthy… who will likely parlay a good 15 game run with the Yankees last year into a 4 year, 48 million dollar contract!
The Cubs made their first move on Tuesday, trading a pair of pitching prospects to the Diamondbacks for All-Star C Miguel Montero. The next day they made their biggest splash, signing SP Jon Lester, considered by some to be this year’s biggest free-agent prize, to a six year, 155 million dollar deal. James Shields has also been mentioned as the Cubs next potential target. With the surplus of young position talent this team has in the minors and Majors, expect to hear a lot more from the Cubbies before the offseason ends.
As for the Tigers, they were in the category of “watchers” until just a few moments ago, when they traded RHP Rick Porcello to Boston for power hitting, power armed OF Yoenis Cespedes. The Red Sox also added Wade Miley in a trade with the Diamondbacks earlier in the week, and signed Justin Masterson. Doesn’t do a damn thing to shore up the bullpen (aside from a pair of minor league pitchers who might end up in the pen), but still, nice to get some added protection for Miggy and VMart in the lineup. Plus, the Tigers added Shane Greene in a three-way trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks earlier in the week, which sent DiDi Gregorious to the Yankees to replace a retiring Derek Jeter, and some minor leaguers to the Diamondbacks.
The Tigers just made another deal, this time acquiring 2014 All-Star Alfredo Simon from the Reds for IF Eugeno Suarez and minor league P Jordan Crawford. Simon was 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA for the Reds last year. The best part is his nickname… he loves it when you call him “Big Pasta”. The Reds then traded SP Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins for SP Anothony DiSclafani and C Chad Wallach.
Two guys I was hoping the Tigers would make a move for to shore up that bullpen, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, were signed by the Astros on Wednesday.
As for Max Scherzer, the Tigers, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants and Nationals are among teams mentioned in speculations as to where he will land. I’m guessing the Tigers are out (kind of hoping, actually), since they already have a solid rotation with Price/Verlander/Sanchez/Greene/Simon… but I’ve been wrong before, and I know how much Scott Boras enjoys bending Dave Dombrowski over the negotiating table!
Over in the NFL we have three big stories this week: Johnny Clipboard is now Johnny Starter, and Roger Goodell and the NFL’s owners have decided on a new conduct policy… without the input of the NFLPA, and Cam Newton was injured and likely shelved for the rest of the season after being involved in a car crash…
As for Johnny Football/Cashsign/Scumbag/Douchebag/Clipboard/Starter… it is probably best for the Browns to go this way, especially after the horrendous play of Brian Hoyer the past four weeks. In those four weeks, he ranks at or near the bottom of the league in the majority of NFL Quarterbacking stats, including throwing only one TD pass and a league high eight interceptions. At this point, they’re still in the playoff hunt, but Hoyer simply isn’t making the plays needed to help that defense win games. Will Johnny make it any better? Well, he can’t really make it much worse at this point! Besides, with two first round picks in next year’s draft, the Browns need to know if this guy’s play making ability translates to the NFL or not… and whether or not they need to go after yet another name for the long, long list of starters for the team since 1999!
As for Johnny’s first start… it comes against Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. When asked about Manziel, Lewis apparently called Manziel a “midget”… which sent the world of little people into an angered, adorable frenzy. Lewis apologized for the comments later… sad when midgets can force an apology out of a full sized man. Just goes to show you the PC hellhole we now call reality.
The new NFL conduct policy is set… highlights include:
Embracing the use of independent investigations; the NFL will hire a special counsel for investigations and conduct who will oversee initial discipline.
The policy will implement an element of leave with pay during investigations of people charged with violent crimes.
The commissioner still has some role in the appeals process, but may appoint a panel of independent experts to decide an appeal.
Doesn’t sound like all that bad of a deal, but I’m sure the NFLPA will find something to cry about in there… most likely about the fact that they weren’t able to collectively bargain for any part of the policy. Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa… fucking unions.
Cam Newton was injured when he was cut off by another driver and rolled his truck a few times on Tuesday. Newton was in the hospital overnight, and suffered a pair of fractures in his lower back, similar to the injury Tony Romo suffered at the end of last season. Best wishes to Cam on a full recovery.
This week’s games include: The Lions hosting the Vikings… a team that always gives them trouble. The Packers travel to Buffalo to face a tough Bills D. Hopefully we get a little help from Gym Shorts and the boys. The resurgent Falcons (despite the loss to the Packers on Monday night) host the Steelers. The 49ers and Seahawks face off in the afternoon and the Cowboys and Eagles battle for first place in the NFC East on Sunday night. On Monday night, the Saints travel to Chi-town to face the Bears.
In college football, the debate continues over the playoff teams and the slotting of the rest of the bowl eligible teams… but this weekend we get a chance to see football in its purest form. The Army vs. Navy game on Saturday at 3. Only game on the schedule… as it should be. These young men deserve the spotlight, even if only for one week. Make sure you tune in if you get the chance.
Over in the NBA, LeBron James caused a stir early in the week with his perpetuation of the “I Can’t Breathe” slogan on a t-shirt (he among other athletes around the country), then caused an international incident by daring to touch the duchess when he met the royal couple (don’t remember their names, don’t give a shit either). Apparently nobody is to touch the future queen… not even “King James”. Neither the duke or duchess seemed very offended by it, but apparently the tea suckers overseas were quite upset. LeBron scores major points in my book if he comes out and tells the uptight citizens brigade to sit on it! Fuckin limey Brits!
The Warriors won their 14th straight over Houston Wednesday night, improving to an impressive 19-2 on the season in the process. Does this team finally have it together enough to make a serious run at the NBA title? I’d love to see it, personally.
The NHL is apparently in the grips of a mumps outbreak… Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson have been diagnosed with the vaccine-preventable disease, as have players for the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and St.Louis Blues this season. Looks like somebody missed their shots growing up.
This week marked the ten year anniversary of the night Dimebag Darrell Abbott was shot and killed while playing in a Columbus, Ohio club. RIP to one of the finest guitar players this world has ever known:
Well, that’s all I’ve got for today folks. Thanks as always for reading and for any comments you leave on the way out. Enjoy your weekend, Gabbers!
It has been more than a day now since the Jon Lester Sweepstakes came to a late night/early morning conclusion.
And the winner is...Jon Lester. Oh sure, the Cubs are co-winners because he'll be wearing their uniform for the next six seasons. But Lester got a 6 year, $155 million dollar deal from Chicago so there's just no way he isn't the winner in this story.
And once again, the Red Sox completely flubbed things up when it comes to dealing with Lester.
To be clear, the Boston Red Sox quit on the 2012 and 2014 season. Not just the players, but the entire organization. After trading away 4/5 of their starting rotation from the beginning of the 2014 season, the Sox found themselves in need of rebuilding their 5 man starting staff.
In a nod to needing to regain the faith of a rather ticked off fanbase, falling ratings on both TV and radio and a Boston sports media asking what the hell was the team doing, the Red Sox were looking to bring Lester back after trading him to the Oakland A's for the last two months of the season past.
The team even broke with their policy of not offering long term deals to over-30 players and made an offer of 6 years.
But all this could've been avoided at the start of spring training if the Red Sox hadn't overplayed their hand with Lester and his agents. Lester had publicly stated that he was willing to take a hometown discount in order to stay with Boston.
Ownership and GM Ben Cherington forgot their dictionary apparently because they didn't know discount meant small amount of cash less than the market value of a dominant lefthander starting pitcher who is the staff ace. Instead, they lowballed Lester with a 4 year, $70 million dollar deal that in baseball economics was an over the top insult.
Now that they have officially lost Lester, Cherington is spinning things to the team's liking saying that the 4 year deal was just a starting point. It ended up being the end point as Lester cut off negotiations.
I read in the Boston Herald that Sox owner John Henry went to see Lester in Georgia on Friday and while making clear they wouldn't go above their 6 year, $135 million offer ($20 million less than the Cubs), he also played up the notion of Lester "finishing his legacy" with Boston.
To me, that seemed a bit of a sadly pathetic desperate last attempt at getting Lester back to Boston. If the team had so much concern for Lester's legacy, they never would've lowballed him in the first place, much less trade him to Oakland. When I read that story, I was instantly reminded of the scene in the last Rocky movie when the manager of the current champion said "don't talk to me about your legacy...a legacy is what you get instead of getting paid."
The winter meetings have seen Lester's deal set the market for the remaining pitching free agents and has left Boston with egg on their face. Why? Well, take a look at the rotation they currently have as of this morning. Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and a bunch of unproven and barely competent young guys.
Does that strike any fear into you?
Now, the Red Sox did strike a deal yesterday with the Arizona Diamondbacks that will add Wade Miley as a starter. The deal sees Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster (two of those unproven young guys I just mentioned) head for the desert.
From what little reaction I've heard about the deal as I write this, Miley projects as a bottom of the rotation guy that will eat innings. He can go for 200 innings in a season. This would be a good thing since neither Buchholz or Kelly have ever pitched 200 innings.
But that's basically your third through 5th man in the rotation right there. None of those guys is a #1 starter. Hell, you'd basically be fooling yourself to call them a #2 guy.
A lot of team beat writers have basically given up hope of the team landing a #1 starter of any real stand out variety for this upcoming season. It doesn't seem like an unrealistic feeling to have either.
Look what the Red Sox have to look forward to on the open market...
They've already made an offer to Justin Masterson, which was accepted today (1 year deal for $95 million plus incentives). He was with the Red Sox at the start of his career before being traded away. But he's a #2 AT BEST and is coming off an injury riddled year that saw him turn in the worst ERA of his career.
Also today, the Sox swapped pitcher Alex Wilson and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for Detroit's Rick Porcello. He's 26 years old. Of course, his addition means the subtraction of the only other power bat in Boston's lineup besides Big Papi. I know his on base percentage was low but damn, it is feast or famine for the construction of this team, isn't it? No arms, plenty of bats. Get an arm, give up a bat...ARGGGHHH. Plus Porcello isn't a long term solution as his contract expires after this upcoming season. If he has a good year, the Red Sox will be right back where they started in having to deal with a free agent pitcher they won't give a long term contract to.
One name that I saw at the start of all this talk that might be available in a trade was Chris Sale, but that has seemingly dried up.
Cole Hamels is a name that has stayed in the mix for a trade, but the package the Phillies want in return is prospect heavy and the rest of Hamels' contract. Oh and there's the matter of Boston being one of 21 teams on the no-trade list that Hamels has in his contract.
The Nationals could trade Jordan Zimmerman, the Reds might deal Johnny Cueto. I saw one article that said Detroit has said David Price is available. Boy, David Price in Boston, wouldn't that be interesting given the bad blood between him and David Ortiz.
James Shields is a free agent and he has a lot of 200 inning seasons in his past. Given his age (33), a five year deal that he is likely looking for seems a stretch for Boston, given they really didn't want to give a 6 year deal to a guy 2 years younger.
And then we come to the top name on the free agent market, Detroit's Max Scherzer. I sure hope he's sending a nice Christmas card to Jon Lester because he's about to get an even larger deal now than he was before the Cubs signed Lester.
And he's almost certainly out of the Red Sox plans given that a 7 year $200 million dollar deal is the probable starting point for any realistic negotiations.
Remember that old Red Sox saying "Spahn, Sain and pray for rain"? Well, thanks to the 9 month battle the Red Sox waged with their own shortsightedness, they are going to be hoping for a lot of rain when they trot out a rotation without a real #1 starter.
I mean a rotation of Porcello, Masterson, Buchholz, Miley and Kelly...does that sound like a duckboat parade is in the near future?