How Bad Do You Want It?

It seems a bit odd to be considering this question regarding the Red Sox, in Boston it has often been far better suited for the Celtics, but how far can tradition and expectations carry a team through the playoffs?  A few short years ago, 2003 or 2004 to be exact, we hoped against hope that this was finally the year our beloved Red Sox would win it all, but were generally overjoyed just to make the post-season show.  Times have changed.  We are no longer happy to just make the playoffs, we want to win, we have a team that is built to win, and we expect to win.  Unfortunately, the Yankees and their fans exhibit the same characteristics.  Both teams are expected to win their respective ALDS series and meet up in the ALCS for another classic showdown.
The beauty of sports is nothing can be decided until the game is played.  We come back season after season, game after game, because even when we think we know what’s going to happen, we never really do.  The Angels are not going down easy, remember how much fun it was to be the underdog in 2004? The Angels have to be feeling some of that spirit right now, it would do us some good to re-capture it.  Intangible is a word we’ve heard a bit too often on the Red Sox scene this year.  I bring it up again here because it seems what we need is intangible.  We’re not the perennial underdog anymore, but we need to play like we are.
There was a lot of negativity surrounding the Red Sox clinching of the Wild Card.  We backed our way into it.  There was no fan frenzy, no big celebration, no joy at making the playoffs. Sure, we were happy, but it was the sort of happy you feel when you get the email saying it’s Pay Day and your direct deposit has gone through.  You definitely wanted that money, but you knew it was coming, you expected it, and while you would absolutely be pissed off if it didn’t show up, you weren’t overjoyed to get it.  You know why Dustin Pedroia is so good?  He plays every. single. game. like he has something to prove.  The Red Sox may or may not realize it, but they have something to prove here.  They have to prove they still want it.
The Red Sox got a wake-up call last night.  You can’t win ball games if you don’t score runs, end of story.  Sure, C.B. Bucknor didn’t help us out any, but the Angels out played us, and they played like they wanted it more.  Tonight we better play like we want it.
Let’s Go Red Sox!

Beckett & Sox Look To Bounce Back In Game 2

Boston Looks To Avoid Two-Game Hole Heading Into Sunday

The Boston Red Sox will look for Josh Beckett to be Josh Beckett on Friday night as the Sox look to rebound from their 5-0 loss in Game 1 to the Los Angeles Angels.

Terry Francona has elected to stick with the same starting lineup as last night, even though the Sox hitters managed a meager five hits against John Lackey and Darren Oliver.  The only change in the Angels lineup is that Mike Napoli will be catching Jered Weaver instead of Game 1 starting catcher Jeff Mathis.

Here is Friday’s Red Sox lineup…

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Victor Martinez, C
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Jason Bay, LH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Alex Gonzalez, SS

-Josh Beckett, P

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Mayo On The Comeback Trail

Linebacker Status Moved To Questionable For Sunday

It’s going to be the matchup of the cut-off sweatshirts as Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots face Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos on Sunday. One key in this weekends matchup is the availability of defensive stalwart, Jerod Mayo.

Mayo has been upgraded to questionable on the injury report after a week of limited practice.  Other questionable players are Nick Kaczur, James Sanders, Shawn Springs, Wes Wlker, and Vince Wilfork.  The Broncos will be without Correll Buckhalter and safety Brian Dawkins is questionable as well.

Roster Set, Lace ‘Em Up…

Red Sox Finialize ALDS Roster

There are always some surprises when it comes to teams finalized playoff rosters. This proved true on Thursday, as the Boston Red Sox announced that Rocco Baldelli will be left off the playoff roster in favor of Brian Anderson.  

Now Baldelli has been suffering from a strained hip flexor, so Terry Francona probably wanted to guarantee that his bench is healthy enough to contribute, if need be, in the ALDS.  The other surprise went to the final pitching spot which Paul Byrd received instead of Manny Delcarmen.  Byrd will serve as an emergency starter or long-relief man and has replaced Delcarmen in the bullpen, who has struggled mightily in the last two months of the season.   

Other notable roster members are Joey Gathright (in place of George Kottaras) as the speedster will fill the same type of role that Dave Roberts did in 2004.  Daisuke Matsuzaka is also on the roster, in the same capacity of Byrd, but is believed to be the next starter behind Clay Buchholz but may not be used in that capacity in a five-game series.

Red Sox starting lineup for tonights game…

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Victor Martinez, C
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Jason Bay, LH
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Alex Gonzalez, SS
-Jon Lester P

Fred Taylor Set For Surgery

Patriots Leading Rusher Requires Ankle Surgery

Fred Taylor wont be carrying the ball anytime soon for the New England Patriots as the 11-year-pro has elected to have surgery on his injured right ankle.  

Taylor injured his right ankle in his last carry of New England’s 27-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens and was held out of practice the past two days.  The timetable for Taylor’s return is uncertain but the 33-year-old is expected to be back with the Patriots at some point this season.  

Taylor is the only New England running back to register an 100-yard game and the injury to Taylor will require the likes of Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk, to step up in his absence.  Don’t be shocked if you see more of BenJarvus Green-Ellis who has impressed in his short time in Foxborough and could displace the ineffective and oft dancing Maroney in the backfield.

Are You An Alex Gonzalez Fan?

Take A Look At Gonzo’s Life Beyond Baseball

Yes, the Boston Red Sox are in Anaheim, preparing to take on the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the ALDS.  Even with the importance of playoff baseball in these parts, one needs to remember that there are more important things in life than playoff baseball or sports in general.

This is true for Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who holds a heavy heart daily as he has an ailing 3-year-old son in a coma, stricken to a hospital bed in Miami.  I just read a great piece about Gonzo from Amy Nelson.  Read it here.  And remember, although we may all be caught bent out of shape in the next couple of weeks, anxiously cheering and hoping through these grueling baseball games, there are more important things to life than baseball.  With that being said, Go Red Sox.

B’s Lock Up Lucic With New Deal

Bruins Award Punisher Lucic With A Contract Extension

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli wanted to lock up forward Milan Lucic for the long-term.  And that’s exactly what Chiarelli did by signing Lucic to a three-year contract extension, which will keep the hard-hitting forward in Boston through the 2012-2013 season.  

If Chiarelli hadn’t signed Lucic to an extension, he would have become a restricted free agent at the end of this season.  Lucic had a career high in goals, 17, and assists, 25, last season and lead the team wit a plus-12 rating in last year’s playoffs.

The 21-year-old Lucic signed a deal believed to be worth $12.25 million in which the left winger will make $4 million in the first two years of the contract with the final year netting him $4.25 million.  

Sox Fans Await The News Of Rocco

Baldelli Had An MRI On Monday

With the Los Angeles Angels throwing two lefty starters at the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS series (assuming that the series goes four games), the health and availability of Rocco Baldelli could be crucial to the Sox success against the dynamic lefties and Angels.

Scott Kazmir is dealing for the Halos and Joe Saunders is always Mr. Consistent.  Rocco Baldelli has feasted on left-handed pitching this year batting .290 against southpaws with 15 RBI’s and 4 HR’s, compared to a .193 average against righties, with only 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s. Although Baldelli may not be a substitute for J.D. Drew as a starter, his value is still high from off the bench for a pinch hit against the two starters, or reliever Darren Oliver, or closer Brian Fuentes.

Baldelli strained his left hip flexor on Friday and received an MRI Monday before the Sox boarded a plan to California.  So with the injury and Baldelli’s rare health condition, his status for the ALDS is up in the air which could place Josh Reddick or Brian Anderson on the roster as the team’s fourth outfielder. 


Welcome Back Junior

Patriots Expected To Sign Junior Seau This Week

After losing Tedy Bruschi to retirement, Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs, and Jerod Mayo to the injury bug, the New England Patriots thought it was about time to give Junior Seau a call.  

Well, Seau has been spotted at Foxborough, taking a physical and laying the groundwork for a deal that would bring the veteran linebacker for his 20th NFL season. Seau hinted at a comeback earlier this season but cautioned that it would be later in the season.  Well, with the Patriots in need of more depth at the linebacking position, Bill Belichick and company obviously are willing to welcome the return of the Tasmanian Devil.

A return in the midst of season isn’t anything new to Seau, as he returned to the Patriots in December last year.  The 40-year-old may need a couple of weeks to re-acquaint himself with the playbook and get into football shape but we should be seeing Seau sooner rather than later.

Amsey5- Pats and 1/4 way thoughts

Something a little different this week- Why just limit my loyal readers to just five thoughts…

  • Jamarcus Russel, not Tom Cable is the one who should be arrested; For Fraud.  I touched on this during week 1 but this guy is worse then Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, and Tim Couch combined.  Limitless athleticism does not outweigh a brain and decision making skills. The Raiders have a serviceable defense and a strong running game. The problem is that when you have 9 in the box, you’re forced to pass. When your receivers are 2 rookies (1 grossly overpaid sprinter, Heyw0od-Suck-Bey) it’s predictable what the results are going to be. Yes, Jeff Garcia would be a terrible option right now. Of course when the keys to the ’71 Chevrolet Chevelle are dangling by the hands of the least qualified owner in the league bad things are going to happen. Wouldn’t it be cool if the NFL was like the British soccer premier league where the top 4 teams of the lower division moved up for the next year, and the bottom 4 moved down? We’d never see the Browns, Raiders, Chiefs, or Rams again.
  • Get your own fashion statement, Josh McDaniel. The raggedy sleeve removed monk look belongs to Billy B.
  • Why does Wade Phillips always look so shocked? He seriously looks as if there is consistently a ghost appearing in front of his snow white hair all the time.  Maybe that’s the fear of the unemployment line he is  seeing.
  • Phil Simms is the biggest idiot announcer in the league, and we get him for the Super Bowl this year! ” You can’t do enough to protect the quarterback’ says the former quarterback.  No. These roughing the passer, errrr brushing the passer calls are truly killing the game. I wrote about this three weeks ago after the debacle against the Bills, but week after week, game after game this pussyfooting rule is awful. Philly Boy’s statement about how players can adjust to the rules is primarily true but what is a D lineman supposed to do when he reaches up to bat down a pass and his hand grazes the helmet of the passer. 15 yards.  Read Mike Wright’s quote this morning about his 2nd sack, where instead of dragging Flaccoto the ground, he holds him up.  I seem to remember another certain sack in the Super Bowl a few years ago where Eli Manning broke free to send the miracle pass to David Tyree.  If the current rule structure was in place, I guess in theory Manning would have been sacked since they tagged his jersey.  Also, why do these rules only apply to the quarterback? Please don’t feed me the ‘marketable position’ or gamebreaker nonsense. All the players should abide by the same rules. Running backs are vulnerable but players often hit them in the helmet.  This rule is literally sucking the life out of the game, at least for me.
  • How fast is Brandon Meriweather?
  • Lawrence Maroney cannot pick up a blitz. He’s not strong enough.   How is this hole-dancer getting reps ahead of Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk? I’m not sure. 
  • When Brady ran to the locker room, Sugar plum dreams of watching undrafted Brian Hoyer playing quarterback was not overly encouraging. Is Jeff Garcia that bad that he doesn’t warrant a roster spot? 
  • The Broncos are not for real and will finish 9-7. They’ll win the division but lose in the first round of the playoffs. (Unless it’s snowing and the wild card team is a warm weather team coming to Denver)
  • What’s wrong with the Titans? No, Vince Young is not the answer.  No, Albert Haynesworth doesn’t make THAT much of a difference. 
  • 8-8 finish for the Jets.
  • 3-13 finish for the Bills and Dolphins. (Wishful thinking!!)
  • Not a single heavy favorite lost this week and only 1 person dropped from my suicide pool.
  • Pats 34, Broncos 26 prediction next week

Starters Announced

Francona Shows His Hand With Rotation

The cards are out on the table, it’s now time to play some ball.  Terry Francona announced his starting rotation for Boston’s ALDS series with the Los Angeles Angels. Jon Lester will start the opener against the Angels in Los Angeles with Josh Beckett going next, followed by Clay Buchholz.

The move wasn’t much of a surprise due to the emergence of Lester and the recent inconsistency of Beckett.  Whichever way you put it, the two young Red Sox hurlers form one of the best 1-2 punches in all of baseball and the addition of Buchholz gives Boston a scary front three. 

Francona said Tim Wakefield will not make the roster for the first round and both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Paul Byrd will not be used as starters in the ALDS.  This means that if the series goes to a Game 4 or 5, Lester and Beckett would be lined up to throw again, with Lester on short-rest and Beckett on regular rest.