After watching the Rays embarrass the Red Sox with a series sweep over the weekend, the voice of a favorite film character echoed around inside: Captain Quint from the thriller, Jaws, "Their eyes are lifeless, like a doll's eyes..."
It was a four game zombieland out there, a slaughter that will be known forever in Red Sox lore as the Patriot's Day Massacre... and if they weren't lifeless and dead going into the weekend, they sure were when they came out, judging by the post-massacre locker room interviews. Someone has better fix the "Papi Problem" and right pronto, whether it's David Ortiz or the brain-trust, or else this team is destined to fall asleep on the express train to Nowhereville.
The Boston Red Sox need to hire Quint if they ever hope to catch the Tampa Bay Rays.
While the Nation reels and makes a beeline for the panic button, Terry Francona acts as if there's nothing's wrong and nothing to be done, sort of like the Pope and the abuse scandal.
Hello... Terry? Theo? Someone better Mister-T some life into this miserable platoon of walking dead or the curtain will be down on the 2010 season before the All-Star break.
First, the ivy climbing toward the peaks of many of the tall, spindly ash trees that ring our yard has gone scarlet, one of the better years for color.
Secondly, the Boston Red Sox make their way into the American League playoffs once again, making 2009 the sixth out of the last seven years; their two Wold Series wins achieved when they enter the end-of-the-year sweepstakes as the wild card entry, as this year.
Before you know it, people will be putting out pumpkins, dressing like denizens of Zombieland and riding Duck Boats around the common.
My son Mark and his wife Catherine are home from Virginia for ten days or so. Since they're both big sports fans, on Monday I'd thought we could take a ride down to Foxboro and see one of the open practice sessions at Patriots training camp.
Turns out Mark hadn't been to the new stadium yet. I haven't been there since they started surrounding the place with enormous shopping malls. It's impressively, massively tacky around there now... too little green and way too much asphalt.
The practice session, was way cool. Though the afternoon was hot and humid, there was a nice breeze to tone it down and the clouds gathering by the time we arrived eventually gave way to blue sky. I'd guess there were somewhere around 1,000 to 1,500 fans and media watching from the small stadium set-up and grassy knoll surrounding the twin practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.
The big question this year, of course, is the health and recovery prognosis of Tom Brady after last season's knee surgery. Tom, the best quarterback on the planet, sure seemed like his bad ol' se'f during the passing drills.
To help Tom get through a very difficult off-season rehabilitation regimen, every morning Gisele took a break from writing her thesis on alternative fuel sources for inter-stellar travel to make breakfast: a pair of soft-boiled eggs which she would then secrete somewhere on her person and force Tom to hunt them down and consume them while hand-cuffed and blindfolded.
Number 12 was one of the last players on the field; easy to spot in his red practice jersey as every eye went to him. The Pats have four QB's on the roster at this stage: Brady, Mike O'Connell, Andrew Walter, a free-agent cut by Oakland, and rookie Brent Hoyer. To begin practice, the four alternated throwing sideline passes to the running backs. Though Walter can really wing the ball, it was easy to see why Brady is Brady. Hard throws with perfect timing and on the money, time after time.
Effortless... Tom somehow makes it all look easy. Attitude has a lot to do with it, and if Tom has lost even an ounce of confidence with that season-ending injury, you'd never know it. His teammates love him, gravitate to him. At the end of the 90-minute practice, Tom was standing in the middle of a group huddle, screaming at the top of his lungs and pumping his fists. I think Tom will be back, and so will Mr. Lombardi.
I was disappointed Randy Moss and Wes Welker were held out from the afternoon practice. I really wanted to see Randy doing his thing close up. I was also impressed by young Brandon Merriweather, who came to the sidelines after practice to sign autographs. The way he spoke with the fans, he just seemed like a great kid... a great kid who happens to hit like a ton of bricks, mind you.
I've always enjoyed watching Rasheed Wallace play. He's often killed us, one of only a dozen or so NBA players who has the complete game. Some of the others: Bryant, Duncan, Pierce, Garnett, Billups. These are guys who not only appear all over the stat sheet night after night, but have enough head-game to recognize what the team needs when they need it.
Though Rasheed isn't usually among in the league top ten in any category except 3-point FG percentage and technical fouls, he excels at every facet of the game, has a high basketball IQ, plays the team game and leads in the locker room.
I can't believe we picked up this guy. It's like a goddamned miracle.
The NBA has funny rules about free agency that evolved through the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA Player's Association and the league. Under the current rules, an unrestricted free agent like Wallace will get the same money no matter who they sign with, so it becomes a matter of situation, not compensation.
Along with his cool game and hot temper, Rasheed Wallace brings to Boston an amazing tattoo depicting himself, his wife Fatima and their three children as ancient Egyptian royalty
That the Celtics would go after 'Sheed was pretty much a forgone conclusion. The day free-agent season opened, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge and owner Wic Grousbec bee-lined it to the Motor City and went a-rappin' on the Wallace's door. I'm proud of how they did that... an all out blitz on the guy, and I wouldn't want to be the one to refuse Kevin Garnett.
Danny Ainge is riding a high and mighty horse. You never know about injuries, but barring any big loss to the disabled list, he leap-frogged the Celt's Eastern Division foes with this move. Shaq' in Cleveland? What will he do when Perkins, Garnett and Wallace are the floor at the same time. Boston, once again, has too many weapons.
Rasheed is James Posey, only taller. Like Posey he'll likely come off the bench as the sixth man and I can't help salivate thinking about Bill Walton in that role in the '86 championship year. Rasheed, with a similar range of skills, can have the same game changing impact as the legendary Redhead did back then.
Totally psyched. This signing is almost as good as getting Garnett, since it fills so many of the missing pieces.
Now let's hope they can resign Leon Powe and Big Baby.
We really didn't get into watching hockey much until we entered the HD age. As a matter of fact, it was while watching a Bruins game in great HD at the Watch City Brew Pub in Waltham that I decided I had to have one. We got into the Bruins last seaason, and were faithful fans this year.
The B's seems to have finally caught up with the other successful sports franchises in Beantown. Dead, down and counted out only three-years ago, they now have what could be the best team in hockey.
There seems to be a formula here in Boston, highly influenced by Kraft and Belichick, I suppose. It seems the root of it is balance in all things, mixing old and young, nurturing young players within your system, and whenever possible, go for the characters guys and savvy vets. After years of frustration, the Bruins turned things around by adopting this Boston model.
I can't know if they will win their game seven against Carolina tonight and go on to win Lord Stanley's Cup, but we enjoyed the season, the ups and downs and the mayhem. We wish the boys the best, no matter how or when the season ends. They gave up their blood, crashed through breaking glass and took pucks in the face for us.
May Creation love 'em as much as we do.
Bruins coach Claude Julien is a real cut-up in the Bruins Locker room, and often pretends he's Homer Simpson. He once hired a Marge Simpson look-alike to chase around the locker room, to the delight of his squad.
I consider Paul Pierce the ultimate basketball warrior. Through heroic acts, driven on by sheer will, he somehow manages to raise his game to meet every challenge. It hasn't always been pretty or perfect--Paul's only fault is that he sometimes tries too much--but if I were choosing sides among the pros for just one game to take it all, Paul would be my first choice, hands down.
Tough to pass up LeBron, but last time I checked, LeBron James hadn't won squat.
I've watched Pierce his entire pro career, as lean rookie out of Kansas, through the train wreck of the Pitino era, the Antoine Walker years and finally, the marked improvement under Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge. For more than a decade, Paul's has upped his game every year. Not only his physicals skills and conditioning, but his mental game as well, both on and off the court.
He's so much craftier, more game savvy now, but Paul has always been a killer. He makes the plays the team needs when they need it. When he pulls the out dagger, his aim is as true as his name.
Paul Pierce is an advanced practitioner of Basuketo no Bushidō, the Roundball Art of War. His classic mano-a-mano with Lebron in last year's Eastern Final seventh game earns him the highest rank in Samurai Legend as... The Truth
This year, with Kevin Garnett among the fallen, it will take a epic string of Paul's heroics for the Celtics to repeat as NBA Champions. It will be hard... really hard, and against all odds, but I wouldn't count out The Truth just yet