Friday, September 25, 2009

Should Varitek Sit During Playoffs?

A thought sparked by Tim's Tweet.

Assuming that Mike Lowell is healthy you have to sit Varitek and have Martinez behind the dish...right?

Now I know Lowell isn't hitting all that well, but having Varitek at the bottom of the order is nearly like a NL team hitting the pitcher.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Playoff Starting Rotation?

The playoffs are all but a certainty at this point and due to our lackluster play in KC it will be as the Wild Card. Let's start to look ahead at the starting rotation against the Angels and realizing that the Yankees (best record) get to choose this year the playoff schedule they will take. This means they will go with schedule A giving them a day off between Games 1/2, thus needing only three starters. Forcing the Angels and Sox to go with four starters.

Lester
Beckett
Buckholz
Wakefield

Agreed?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sporting bookmarks

Bryan Person's iPhone bookmarks of sports websites

Which sports blogs/websites do you have bookmarked on your mobile phone (or laptop or desktop)? Here's my iPhone 3G list, in no particular order:

(note: For usability reasons, I'm embedding the web-based links to these pages and sites.)

1) ESPN.com
The Worldwide Leader in Sports features an iPhone-friendly version of its site. The pages load quickly and navigation is a breeze. I've alternated this bookmark between the main ESPN site and the MLB landing page.

2) Boston Sports Media Watch
Bruce Allen's blog is one of the first that I ever read. And since 2002, his site has been a daily staple of my online reading (I even contributed to the site for a while back in 2005).



Bruce rounds up daily links to Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins stories, but it's his coverage of the Boston sports media that really stands out. Bruce has called out Ron Borges and others for their plagiarism and hypocritical writing, and he blasts WEEI for some its moronic talk and antics, too. But it's certainly not all critical commentary from Bruce. He'll praise reporters and media members when they deserve it.

As an added bonus, BSMW has also added a mobile-friendly version of its site in the last week or so.

3) Cricket.org
My debut column for Big Papelbon saluted South African cricketing captain Graeme Smith, so it's no secret that I'm a cricket fan. Cricket.org offers the latest news and results from the cricketing world, and I check in to the site almost every day.

My only suggestion for Cricket.org? A mobile version of the site is sorely needed.

4) Boston.com Sports
Whether on the web or on my phone, this has been my No. 1 online destination for several years running. A recent mobile version has actually made finding articles more difficult, but I still head here without fail for the headlines.

5) Chad Finn's Touching All the Bases
Finn is my favorite Boston.com/Boston Globe reporter/columnist/blogger--and by a country mile. His generally optimistic outlook and killer sarcasm and wit are the perfect combination for this reader. Not that I'm one to throw stones, but my only complaint is that Finn doesn't blog often enough. Guess those other pesky commitments to the Globe keep him busy!

One other note: If you're into how the media covers our favorite sports teams--as I am--Finn has a weekly sports media column for the Globe that's always a good read (no direct link that I can find).

Screenshot of RedSox.com on the iPhone

6) RedSox.com
The official site of the Boston Red Sox. Works great on the iPhone!

7) Mike Reiss' ESPNBoston blog
It's no exaggeration to say that Reiss has been a trailblazer in mainstream media sports blogging. He's been at the bleeding edge using new media in his coverage since 2004 or 2005, when he first launched "Reiss' Pieces" for the MetroWest Daily News. Reiss then brought the blog with him to the Globe, where he worked from 2005 until earlier this month. Now Reiss plies his trade at the recently launched ESPNBoston.com

Reiss' coverage of the Patriots is, without question, the best in Boston.

8) The Rap Sheet
This is the blog of Ian Rapoport, the new Boston Herald beat reporter. Longtime Herald writer Karen Guergian also chimes in on occasion.

The reporting is good, and the look-and-feel is as well. The Rap Sheet incorporates a photo or graphic into nearly every post, which is almost never a bad thing.

9) Extra Bases
This is Boston.com's Red Sox blog. It's updated frequently on game days and during the games themselves.

10) Extra Points
Boston.com's Patriots blog has lost some of its oomph--and changed its name--with the recent departure of Reiss, but Christopher L. Gasper's reporting is very good.

As a personal side note, I once successfully pitched Gasper on a Malden High School boys' soccer story back when he was writing for the twice-weekly Globe North section, and recorded a phone interview for an episode of my long-since-defunct Around Town Sports podcast. Gasper certainly has the chops to lead the Globe's football coverage now, and I'm thrilled for him!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Falling into Place

No, I'm not ready to declare that the season is over yet. Nor am I ready to say that the Red Sox are a lock for the playoffs. But what I will tell you is that they went a LONG way over the past few days at solidifying their chances for a deep playoff run. Two weeks ago, I wasn't sure this would be the case with Beckett struggling mightily, Buchholz looking good but having little track record behind him and the Sox bats wavering between scoring 10+ runs a game and none.

Fast forward to Saturday night's gritty five plus inning gem by Beckett (with the Sox bats erupting in the third inning for nine runs) followed by game one of yesterday's double header where poor Matt Garza pitched his heart out, only to get kicked in the crotch by Ortiz and Pedroia in the seventh. This combined with Lester's "ice water in the veins" eight innings of shutout ball in game two was a real shot in the arm.

So why am I so jazzed all of a sudden? Well, the Sox have a four game lead on Texas and Tampa Bay is all but eliminated from the Wild Card. And the Sox still have an outside chance at catching the Yanks (I know, I know, I sound like Kyle Flaherty here). Most importantly, Boston is looking like the dangerous offensive AND defensive team that we thought they might be at the beginning of the season.

With Beckett, Lester and now Buchholz as a solid 1-2-3 punch (yes, it would be great to see two more solid starts out of Beckett), we're in good shape to match up with the "always hapless in the playoffs" Anaheim Angels of LA. And who knows, lightning may might rise up and strike Detroit who matches up pretty well with the Yanks and deliver us an ALCS party with Detroit and Boston as the lucky entrants. The bullpen is now back to form with a much needed shot in the arm from Billy Wagner and you have weapons like Martinez, Gathright, Green or Kotchman coming off the bench. Not a bad place to be. Most importantly, all the key guys are healthy (yup, just knocked on wood after saying that).

Am I being a bit cocksure? Yes I am. But hey, I've seen Francona work his magic under more adverse conditions. I like where we are and feel bullish going into October. Who knows, this could be the year where we do actually see Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots world championships in the same year.


image courtesy: http://www.maniacworld.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Show Your Colors


As the official NFL season kicks off this week, I dug out my Patriots jersey to get ready for Monday night. I started to recall how I came upon the jersey and thought I'd see how our crew thinks.

When you decide you're going to buy a team jersey (in any sport), what's your M.O.? Do you go with a current player? Do you choose "blank"? Do you avoid it altogether given the transient nature of superstars in all sports these days?

If I'm going to shell out the clams for a real player jersey (not just a t-shirt), I like to dig out the "old school" vets that are reminiscent of what I recall as a kid. I also like to go with a little bit obscure star. In fact my first choice for a Patriots jersey was Mosi Tatupu, but I couldn't find one. Steve Grogan was a solid 2nd choice, although a more accurate representation would have been one covered in grass stains on the back. What's your jersey of choice and how'd you decide?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Imagine the conversation.

Bill: Richard, can you please step into my office?
Richard: Sure, coach. What's up?
Bill: Have a seat. We've traded you to Oakland.
Richard: Whaa....
Bill: You've done a bang up job here with the Patriots, don't get me wrong. But the opportunity came up to fleece them again and I couldn't resist.
Richard: Wait. Please. Hold on a minute. Let's not do anything rash.
Bill: They gave us an unconditional first round pick in 2011. Thanks for the hard work but you need to go pack your things. Tom Cable should be giving you a call.
Richard: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Talk about a worst possible landing spot for a good guy - at least a year in the 9th circle of Hell, given it's the last year of his contract (due $3.7 million, by the way). Of course, lots of upside opportunity (read: no place to go but up) there but Oakland is sure to win at most 7 games? 6? ...giving the Patriots a high pick. I think Belichick has stones the size of... a football field. A quote from Belichick on day two of Seymour not yet reporting to Raiders' camp:

"There's a lot of things that Richard did well," Belichick said in his first remarks since Sunday's written statement announcing the trade for Oakland's first-round draft pick in 2011, "but that's the way it is and we're moving forward and our team's moving forward."

Wow. A smart move, in my opinion, on a big name before the last year of a big contract. Short term it hurts the Patriots, but I really like this move long term. I think very few coaches would make a move like this, yet Belichick has made these moves an art form. What say you?

photo credit: pkeleher via flickr

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We Can't Let Today Go By...

...without talking about the namesake of this blog and what he did last night!

Last night, Papelbon earned his first six-out save of the season in Boston’s 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, extricating the Sox from a bases-loaded quandary in the eighth inning and then slamming the door in a dominating ninth. He struck out three, pumping fastballs for strikes and never straying from his standard operation.

WOW!

Paps is having an unreal season, even when seemingly taking the "bend, don't break" approach to closing games. But watching last night you saw why the guy has never given up an ER in the playoffs (and let me tell you, Francona is treating this like a playoff series). Baseball is a beautiful game, especially when the majority of the cogs seemingly come together at the same time.

6.5 games back with 31 to play, 3 of them at home against the Yanks. Take a look at the schedule:
  • 13 of the Sox games are against Cleveland, Kansas City and Baltimore;
  • 15 of the Sox games are at home;
  • The Yanks still have a West Coast trip to play LAA and SEA, with a day off on September 24th in Boston;
  • Boston has days off on the 10th and 14th, so they will play NYY in their 11th straight game without an off day, but having been at home;
By September 25 is it conceivable that the lead is down to about 4 games? Yes. Sweep it up at the Fens and suddenly you are watching a mad dash to the AL East crown.