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Tag:Boston
Posted on: January 3, 2009 9:09 pm
 

Boston Fans: SMARTEN UP!

I live in New York, but for the holidays I went and stayed with my parents near Boston for a week. While I was driving around Massachusetts I got to listen to WEEI (which is a treat, because I only get ESPN radio in NY), but what I heard from most callers was very disapointing.

People were calling into the radio station talking about complete nonsense, which made me realize, "this is why sports fans from other cities hate us". Here are some of the things Boston sports fans were calling into WEEI to talk about that are absolutely ridiculous:

RED SOX:

"Come on Theo and do something already!" - Why do the Red Sox need to do something just for the sake of doing something? What does he really need to do? The Sox made it to within a game of the World Series last year and he has all the same players as last year, plus a healthy Lowell and Ortiz. The only pressing issues were (1) signing a 4th starter, which he did signing Brad Penny, (2) sign a catcher, locking up Varitek is just a matter of time, and (3) maybe strengthening the bullpen, which he has done as well.

"We should trade everyone we have for Jake Peavy" - Why? So we can forfeit or future like the Yankees have been doing? Peavy would legitimately be the #4 starter on this team, and the Sox don't need a team full of All-stars. Just because the Sox have money doesn't mean they have to go nuts in the off-season.

"The Sox need to do something the improve the bottom of the lineup" - Come on people, Lowell, Lowrie, and Varitek are going to be just fine. We're talking about the WS MVP from 2007 and the guy who got the ALDS winning hit batting 7th and 8th, not too shabby. And if Varitek happens to struggle at the plate again, so what? What team has a really good #9 hitter?

Patriots:

"The Patriots got screwed out of the playoffs, the NFL should change their system" - Is there a rule that says an 11 win team is automatically in the playoffs? If the Patriots really deserved to get into the playoffs then they would have beaten a playoff team. "But the Chargers were only 8-8!" Yeah, and they beat the Pats. If Patriots had beaten the Bolts, Colts, Steelers, or Dolphins (twice) they would have been in. If you can't beat playoff teams, you don't deserve to be the in playoffs.

"Franchise Cassel and just piece together the rest of the team with whatever money is left over" - great plan...spend 1/3 of your total cap on a single position. The Patriots NEED help in the secondary, and if they franchise Cassel there is no money to bolster their defensive backfield.

CELTICS:

"The Celtics have no shot of winning the championship with their current team make-up, the need Stephon Marbury" - Nobody NEEDS Stephon Marbury. This town just got rid of Manny Ramirez, now we want him right back. Unless the Celtics put a claus in his contract that reads, "if Stephon distrupts the team in any way he will be immediately cut" I don't want to see him. Do whatever it takes to get P.J. Brown out of retirement or start developing Patrick O'Bryant because we don't need a PG, we need a big man. ----Ps. If the Celtics sign Marbury, all you crazies would go nuts whenever Scalabrine touches the ball are going to start crying because guess whose playing time the little guy is going to steal....

I know there are very well educated Boston sports fans out there, because I see their posts on this site all the time (yes, I do see the dumb ones too). I just wish more people, who I have no choice but to be associated with, would do a little homework before running their mouths about things they don't understand.

Posted on: December 18, 2008 3:22 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: 'Win out' for the Holidays

      

On December 8th during the producation of Pardon the Interuption, when Wilbon and Kornheiser were playing the percentages game, Tony Reali asked the two hosts what percent chance the Celtics had of making it to Christmas without losing a game. Wilbon said 40% and Kornheiser 60%, but both explained that the tough stretch for Boston would come when during a three game streak they faced the Hornets and Jazz at home and then went on the road to Atlanta. They added that If the C's could get by those teams successfully, then they would have a 100% chance of winning their next three games against Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

According to the PTI crew, chalk the Celtics up as 27-2.

Although the upcoming three games won't challenge Boston as much as the previos trio, they shouldn't necissarily be a cake walk either. Yes all three are at home against teams that currently have a losing record, but here's what we're looking at for matchups:

12-19 vs. Chicago: The Bulls, for the second straight year are underachieving. Two years ago they were seen as a positive example of what patience and player development could do; draft well, don't spend on big-time stars, and you'll be successful. Well, it's not working so well anymore. Yes, the Celtics should win this game, but if Ben Gordon shoots out of his mind (which he is capable of doing), Derrick Rose controls the offense, and Tyrus Thomas can somehow contain KG (unlikely, but who knows) the Bulls can make a game of it.

12-21 vs. New York: This is a totally different team than the Celtics saw a month ago in Madison Square Garden. The additions of Al Harrington and Tim Thomas give the Knicks a legitimate inside game that can match up with Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnet, not to mention that Chris Duhon has become well adjusted to the Knicks offense and is thriving. The name of the game is going to be score early and often. New York has 8 players (7 discounting the retired Cutino Mobley) who average double figures in scoring and the boys from the Big Apple were close to out dueling the Lakers two nights ago (losing 114-116). Don't be surprised if the Knicks make it close in a shootout.

12-23 vs. Philadelphia: After signing Elton Brand in the offseason to compliment Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, The now 11-14 76ers were supposed to give the C's a run for their money in the Atlantic Division. With Philly already 12.5 games back and Brand sidelined with a dislocated shoulder the Sixers are fading fast. Boston beat the 76ers soundly in Philly 102-78 in November, now, playing at home in a tune-up game for a Christmas day matchup with the Lakers, and with the Sixers' best player wearing street clothes with his arm in a sling, I would expect the Celts to take this one by at least 20. What could make this a close game is if Boston uncharacteristically looks past the struggling Sixers to LA and somehow get caught with their pants down. Far fetched, but I've heard of stranger things.

While the Celtics don't have to go on the road and play in a brutal atmosphere like Atlanta (PA announcer starting all the cheers was really tacky), or go up against the NBA's best pointguard like New Orleans, the three upcoming Eastern Conference matchups shouldn't be complete blowouts. Hopefully Boston can give their fans a 20 game win streak for Christmas.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2008 12:28 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The new "Big Baby" is Chris Paul

                                                         

After watching the Celtics win their 22nd game of the season last night against the New Orleans Hornets three things became very obvious to me:

1) Paul Pierce is at his best in big games. During the four games prior to Friday night Pierce was shooting a sub-par 33% from the field, connected on only 3 three pointers, and averaged over 3 turnovers per game. But then the Hornets came to town. Against a team that is the best the Celtics have faced all month, a team which was a pre-season favorite to go to the NBA championship from the Western Conference, and on national television Paul Pierce dropped 28 points (9-17 from the field hitting 2 from downtown) while also contributing 6 boards and 6 assists as well as only 2 turnovers. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both future hall of famers, but when the game is on the line, I want the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce.

2) Chris Paul is still the same old cry baby. Last season when the Hornets visited Boston in late March they got whacked by the Celts 112-92. During the beginning of the fourth quarter Chris Paul walked around the court like he was lost. Byron Scott eventually sat him down and everyone watched as Paul sat quietly on the bench with a towel over his head and defeated look on him face. The same exact thing happened last night in the fourth. Paul started committing stupid fouls and throwing up prays down the stretch instead of acting like a leader. Could you ever see KG, Pierce, or Allen pulling something like that? Paul has a little work in front of him before he is able to lead his team to a title.

3) Rajon Rondo still has a ways to go. Rondo has no doubt played at an all-star calibur so far this season. Last night, playing arguably the best pointguard in the league in Chris Paul, Rondo struggled mightily. Rondo can afford to shoot poorly from time to time (4-12 last night), but when that happens he needs to revert to being a point, dishing balls out, playing tough D, and energizing his team. His 2 assist, 2 turnover, 1 steal performance last night wasn't getting the job done. While I have high hopes for Rondo, I think "Rondomania" may have swept Celtics nation a little prematurely. He has to learn how to be composed in big games if he is to reach elite PG status.

While last night was an big win for the C's, I'm not convinced they have it all over the Hornets. Yes, they did hold New Orleans to 35% shooting from the floor, but that was without center Tyson Chandler in the lineup. When Boston travels down South in February I think we'll all get a better idea of how these two squads will matchup come (dare I say it?) championship time.

Posted on: December 11, 2008 3:58 pm
 

GM for a Day: Smoltz + Red Sox = Perfect Couple

Throw a Sox hat on this guy      

For the first time since his successful shoulder surgery in June, righty John Smoltz climbed to the top of a pitching mound earlier this week. Not only did he snap off his full repertoire of pitches, but he turned some heads as well.

One of those heads sat on the shoulders of Theo Epstein.

Smoltz, who is a free agent and on record as saying Boston is one of a very few places he would be willing to sign, is favored to land back in Atlanta where he has spent all 20 years of his career. The Tigers, who are of special significance since Smoltz is a Michigan native, are also interested in the future hall of famer.

Despite his allegiance to Atlanta or reveries of a heart-warming homecoming in Detroit, Boston is the best place for Smoltz.

In my estimation, by stating that he only wants to return to the Braves if they have a realistic chance of winning a World Championship is another way of saying, "Sorry Atlanta, but you are rebuilding and I'm gonna work the market and play for a winner". And who better to fit that bill than the Red Sox who came within one game of returning to their 3rd world series in 5 years?

One selling point is that the Sox have a specific void which needs to be filled: the fourth spot in their rotation. At 41 years of age (42 in May) Smoltz would be asked to be the ace in both Atlanta and Detroit. Putting that kind of presure on a surgically repaired arm can't be healthy...but Boston offers a low-risk option. Even if Smoltz doesn't return to Cy Young form, which is likely the case, he would be considered a success in Beantown if he went 14-8 with a 4.00 ERA...with those numbers he would be considered a flop elsewhere.

The Red Sox also have to think of the future of their rotation. Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are supposedly still a little ways away from starting the season in the big leagues, but are both penciled in to be in the 2010 rotation. So where can Boston find a decent arm willing to sign only a one year deal? Tah-dah! John Smoltz, because of his recent arm problems, is only looking for a single year deal.

But Smoltz is a former Cy Young winner, isn't it going to cost an arm and a leg to sign this guy? Not so. Where as other 2nd tier hurlers like Oliver Perez (5 years $75 mil), Andy Pettitte (extended contract, $15 mil per year), and Ben Sheets (upwards of $14 mil) are all looking for around $15 million per season, Smoltz is testing the waters at $10 million! That has "steal" written all over it.

Just close your eyes for a minute and picture a playoff rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, and Smoltz....beautiful, isn't it? And unlike all the Peavy go-getters out there, this is actually realistic!

This deal makes perfect sense for both next year and the future...not to mention that fans will go nuts with such a big name signing. Don't expect Smoltz to be a 20 game winner, but he would, hands down, be the best number 4 starter in the league.

Posted on: December 6, 2008 2:03 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2008 12:21 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Getting lax after big leads

When the Trail Blazers came to Boston Friday night they were supposed to give the Celtics a game. Portland was "faster" and "more athletic" which would lead to a bunch of transition points and easy baskets. The team that was ranked 4th in CBS's NBA power rankings didn't give the C's any sort of trouble. In fact, it was Boston that took advantage of what seemed to be a very lethargic Blazer defense to outscore Portland on the fast break and beat them at their own game.

It has become rather redundant to praise Boston for their continued success, but since they are playing so well it is difficult (and honestly rather tedious) to find something that the Celtics have done poorly recently. But I have done it! The last two games the Celts have had large leads in the third quarter (over 20) and have managed to somewhat waste them away. Yes, the lead last night never dropped below 11 after the half, but there was a point where the Celtics bench went on a cold streak which resulted in a 16-3 Portland run.

So my one criticism of the Celtics is perhaps they should work on their closing skills. Putting the nail in the coffin. Twisting the daggar. Telling the other team to start warming up the bus.

When the bench has entered the last few games, their body language tells me that they think they are the mop up crew. They are given such large leads that they don't play strong defense, march down the court, and take the first mediocre shot they find. The fact that they lose leads impacts the team because it forces the starters to play unnecissary minutes that they could be resting. Rivers has said time and again that keeping the five core guys fresh plays a major role in the success the Celts will be able to have down the stretch and with Pierce and Allen being forced to play 37 minutes last night, the bench isn't getting the job done.

The Celtics biggest challenger, Cleveland, has been able to sit LeBron James for the entire fourth quarter in 5 of their last 7 games in order to keep him rested. The last things you want to see is King James at 100% in a seven game series where Paul Pierce is tired due to over playing him.

I know the playoffs are far in the distance, and the Celtics at 19-2 are far from in trouble, but like I said, I'm just grasping at straws here, If they continue to play the way they are Boston will be fine, if maybe just a little more worn down.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 1:44 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2008 1:49 pm
 

GM for a day: Lowell/Teixeira "Not about money"

I know that Major League Baseball is a business, but I also know that sometimes the game and the players in it have more at stake than just the bottom line.

I love the thought of having Mark Teixeira in the Red Sox lineup next year and with the winter meets right around the corner that might very well become a reality very soon. But at what cost?

When I say cost, I'm not referring to a dollar amount, but I'm speaking about the way the organization will be remembered for years to come. With the signing of Teixeira the Red Sox will most likely be shipping Mike Lowell off elsewhere as Youk makes the move to third. This is the same Mike Lowell who was the MVP of the 2007 World Series and signed with the Sox for $10 million less than he could have elsewhere.

Are we so fickle that we are willing to turn our back and end a relationship with a person who was our hero only a year ago and threw away $10 million to maintain this relationship? He said he stayed because of the teammates, the fans, and the town. He stayed because we are supposedly the best fans and organization in baseball, and if we want to prove that and earn the respect of players around the league so they might do the same as Lowell did, we shouldn't settle for throwing Lowell out the door.

Signing the best free agent out there doesn't make us a good team, having the right mix of guys that complete their roles perfectly is the formula for success, and Lowell is one of the pieces that helps the Red Sox succeed. Keeping that in mind, I'll leave you with Lowell's words from a year ago when he signed his 3 year $37 million deal with Boston:

"I have financial security so I'd like to believe I'm not all about money," Lowell said. "I feel like I'm more of a baseball player than a businessman. I kind of weighed where I felt comfortable, where I thought I could produce the best with the team that has a chance to win a world championship, and it was Boston. On top of that, we just won and I think I played with a set of teammates that are unparalleled and with a manager the same way and with a fan base that's unbelievable.

"I think all of those came into play. I really don't believe that everything should be about money. I've had teammates in the past that have gone to other places and sometimes they have second thoughts because they took more money elsewhere. I just didn't think my happiness should just be bought by dollars."

Doesn't that sound like a guy you want playing for your team?

Posted on: December 2, 2008 3:14 pm
 

Jim Rice Hall of Fame bound?

Perhaps I'm merely biased and simply love the idea of another Red Sox star being inshrined into baseball's holyland, but when faced with the question as to whether or not Jim Rice should be voted into the Hall of Fame this year my answer is a resounding Y-E-S!

The voting writers claim that in order to be considered as a candidate for Cooperstown you must be a "dominating" player of your generation. Here are several reasons why Jim Rice was just that:

Career Prime: During the 12 years of Jim Rice's prime (1975-86), he hit at a .303 clip while averaging over 30 HRs and 107 RBI a season. He hit over .315 4 times, 4 times had more than 120 RBI, and also hit 39 or more homeruns 4 times. That is outstanding.

All-star teams: Jim Rice was selected to 8 All star teams during those 12 years in his prime. The four years he wasn't selected were 1975: finished 3rd in MVP voting and 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting; 1976: common Sophomore slump (still hit 25 HRs); 1981: injured, only accumulated 451 ABs; and 1982: WON THE MVP.

MVP Caliber: In addition to winning the MVP in '78, he earned a top-5 spot in the MVP voting 5 other times as well as votes in 2 other years (13th and 19th place).

Other honors: Rice twice won the silver slugger award for best hitter at his position and in his only World Series appearance against the Mets in 1986 hit .333 with 6 walk, 6 runs, a double, and a triple in 27 ABs.

15 years has been a long time to wait, but a 1st ballot Hall of Famer and 15th ballot inductee are both inshrined together. Let the anxiety begin.

 

Posted on: November 27, 2008 11:31 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Warrior Woes and Great Guard Play

In a game where the Boston bench for the first time this season noticably underperformed, shooting only 4 of 12 from the field and largely contributing to the C's 13 point deficit at halftime, the Celtics' starters rose to the occasion to help lead the the green to a 119-111 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

All five Celtic staters played well above their season averages in minutes and the increase in playing time was reflected in the stats as Allen (25), Rondo (22), Pierce (21), and Garnett (21) all dropped more than 20 points. The story of the game, however, was two sided; the gigantic holes in Golden State's game showing in the second half and Rajon Rondo's offensive surge in the 3rd quarter.

The Warriors' large halftime lead was due in large part to their shooting 55% from the floor in the openning two quarters, and contrary to popular belief, that inflated fieldgoal percentage isn't necissarily a product of poor Celtics defense, but the Warriors' willingness to settle for long jumpshots and, at the same time, the ability to knock them down. On the fast break in the first half the C's played solid D by clogging the lane and forcing Golden State to take tough shots, and the trigger happy ballers from the west coast just happened to get them to fall.

That wasn't the case in the second half.

Golden State's inability to pass up long, open shots in exchange for developing a play to the point where they can get inside for an easy hoop hurt them, shooting only 39% from the floor and scoring a total of 38 points in the paint for the game (compared to the C's 66). In defense of the Warriors, their only inside threat, Andris Biedrins, was abused during the second half, forcing more ill-advised shots from perimeter players, but the fact that the Warriors are undersized isn't going to change without personel changes and their inside game (or lack there of) will lead to them being exposed game after game because they can't win unless they shoot out of their minds like they did in the first half last night.

Another drawback to the Warriors' lack of any inside presence is that they can't crash the boards on either end of the floor, ultimately resulting in the Celtics outscoring them on second chance points 24-6.

The Warrior's inability to stop the Celtics in the paint in the second half, interestingly enough, didn't lead to a big game for Garnett or Perkins, but to the Celtics' most consistant player so far this season; Rajon Rondo. In the third period the Celtics' point guard was able to drive the hole and match the entire Golden State team by scoring 16 points and singlehandedly erasing a 14 point hole. Rondo, along with putting up a season high 22 points, took down 8 boards and added 7 assists, all of which led to Paul Pierce saying after the game that, "I think when he's on [Rondo] like he's on tonight, we're unstoppable".

The Celtics, now 14-2, playing a strenuous schedule with more games against winning teams in a shorter length of time than a year ago, have the same mark as they did last season through their first 16 games. I know you're all thinking it, so, Is it too early to crown the Boston Celtics Atlantic division champions?

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