Random Sunday Sports Thoughts
February 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Some mindless Sunday musings from the week that was and the week that’s to come…
- Baseball activities have started in Fort Myers. The Red Sox have a lot to prove after what happened last year whether they are sorry or not, as I wrote about on Friday. Jon Lester has headed many of the team activities during the first unofficial week. Apology or no apology he gets it. He was joined by Andrew Miller, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andrew Bailey, and injured pitchers Rich Hill and Daisuke Matsuzaka among others. The fun begins today when new manager Bobby Valentine arrives in Fort Myers. The official report date for pitchers and catchers is next weekend but you can expect more early arrivals during the course of the week.
Speaking of Matsuzaka it now appears that he is still about a month ahead of schedule on his recovery from Tommy John surgery. That would put his return to the Red Sox rotation sometime in May. For all of the talk about a weak rotation Dice-K could be a wild card. Perhaps the Red Sox are holding back when it comes to acquiring another starter in the hopes that one of the reclamation guys like Carlos Silva or Vicente Padilla can hold a spot until Dice-K is ready to re-join the rotation. It will be also interesting to see the differences in how Valentine, a veteran of the Japanese baseball scene, differs in his approach in handling Dice-K from that of former manager Terry Francona. Remember that Matsuzaka is in the final year of his contract and it could be an “all hands on deck” approach to his season when he is finally healthy.
- It’s good to see Mass. native Rich Hill early and working hard to come back from Tommy John surgery himself. He could be a useful member of the Sox bullpen when he is healthy.
- I was sick of hearing about the Giants/Patriots Super Bowl match-up about a week into the prep and I am starting to get sick of the post coverage of the game as well. Here’s the gist – Yes, Eli is elite, no, Brady’s legacy isn’t tarnished. I’m not sure why so many pundits need something one way or the other. Why can’t Tom Brady still be one of the best quarterbacks of all-time while we work Eli Manning into the conversation of upper echelon QB talents in the league?
Things should heat up in the next few weeks for the NFL off season with the combine and the cutting of veteran players. Cornerback Stanford Routt, who was just signed to a 5-year, 51 million dollar extension before last season, was cut by the Raiders in what looks to be the first of many moves by the new Oakland management to overhaul the team. Just because these guys are getting cut from their trademark crazy Al Davis-signed contracts doesn’t mean that they won’t be assets for other teams. Routt has already received interest from at least 5 other teams and will be in Buffalo on Monday for a visit with the Bills. New GM Reggie McKenzie will build the team his way which might flood an already full FA market full of vets from the silver and black.
- The aggressiveness that the Bills have pursued Routt makes you wonder if GM Buddy Nix is changing his approach to the off season. The Bills have shied away from an aggressive approach to free agency in Nix’s first two years on the job but you wonder if they think that they are close enough that a few big ticket guys and another draft away from getting over the hump. That starts with keeping your own, an approach that Buddy Nix has stressed since he got the job, but Stevie Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler are big pieces of last year’s team that need to be addressed. Still Nix has re-signed 3 starters (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Williams, and Erik Pears) and 2 key special teams players (kicker Rian Lindell and long snapper Garrison Sanborn). If Nix can get Stevie and Chandler signed up it will be the first time in what seems like forever that the Bills will go into the off season not having to fill holes that opened up by letting their own players walk. You could look around the league and put a playoff team full of free agents or traded players that the Bills have lost. Guys like Marshawn Lynch, Jason Peters, Jabari Greer, Nate Clements, Donte Whitner, London Fletcher, the list goes on.
Linsanity is the talk of the NBA this week. Jeremy Lin is a great story but spare me the comparisons to Tim Tebow. Jeremy Lin wasn’t a blip on the radar when he played at Harvard. He was waived by his first team, the Golden State Warriors, on the first day after the NBA lockout and barely stuck with the Knicks out of training camp. Conversely Tim Tebow was one of the most celebrated athletes in college sports history, became a 1st round pick despite questions about how his talent would translate into the pros, and was a fan favorite from Day 1 in Denver, even as he was sitting on the bench. It’s basically like comparing apples and oranges. Lin is such a great story because he seemingly came from nowhere to star for the basketball team that plays in the biggest city in America.
- The Celtics seem to be in a transitional phase right now. The big 3 is still playing for a championship and there is not enough good teams in the Eastern Conference to push them out of contention. They have many young players who are not quite ready to contribute but need the minutes to improve. Avery Bradley and the two Purdue rookies, Etwaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, look like future contributors but how do you divide minutes while still trying to compete in the Eastern Conference? They let the game against the Lakers slip away on Thursday night and then came out flat against the Raptors in Toronto the next night. They are surely headed to the playoffs but they need another guy to step up and contribute. Will it be Bradley, Moore, Johnson, or someone else?
This is probably the best college basketball season in a long time and nobody knows it. I haven’t watched much myself but the big buzzer beating shot by Austin Rivers of Duke to defeat rivals North Carolina last week was a reminder of how great regular season college basketball can be. Sure, everyone will be tuned in during Match Madness but the NCAA should find a way to market the regular season better. The NCAA has opposite problems with football. In football the fans love the regular season but they loathe the shoddy and murky post-season bowl set-up. In basketball all that anyone cares about is the playoff tournament. Maybe both sides should get together and figure it all out.
- The Bruins had a big win yesterday that can get you out of a slump. Milan Lucic’s game-tying goal with less than two minutes remaining followed by a shoot out win is exactly the type of game ending scenario that can put this team on another run. Still you get the feeling that this team will be no worse than a #3 seed by season’s end. It’s all keeping healthy and in shape by time the run for a second straight cup begins in April.
- I leave you with the best National Anthem at the Super Bowl ever, sung by Whitney Houston at the 1990 Super Bowl, also the greatest Super Bowl ever by my rankings, in the middle of the first Gulf War.