Sunday, February 27, 2005

Star power?

You know, I liked Mo Vaughn a lot better before he had the surgery, took the name of his favorite Foxy Lady entertainer, and stole Joan Rivers's award-show gig . . .

(Note to my dozen readers: The next column should be posted sometime midweek, probably Tuesday night. I'm using what free time I have over the next few days to mess around with some HTML stuff. I'm assuming the photo of lovely Maurice/Star will tide you over til then. Perverts. - CF)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Guard gone wild

The Celtics are in Phoenix tomorrow to take on the rising Suns, a run-fun-'n'-gun crew that is everything Danny Ainge wants his team to be.

I mention this because, while the suddenly intriguing Celtics are point-guard-free at the moment - Love the Glove! Come back, GP! - Phoenix, the best team in the West, is led by the best in the ballhandling business, MVP candidate Steve Nash.

Ask me, this is bound to be one of the varsity vs. jayvee blowouts - Phoenix beat the Boston by 9 on Jan. 28 at the FleetCenter, and the Celtics are far less formidable on the road.

In fact, I'd say the Celtics only chance of winning this game is if Nash is spending his Saturday night doing . . . oh . . . say . . . something like this . . .

and this . . .

A confession: I threw together this silly little post with the sole purpose of posting the now-legendary blasted-at-the-bar photos from Dirk and Steve's Excellent Adventure. Damned if they don't crack me up every single time.

I'll leave you with two questions:

Who's the plump, frat-boy-looking dude in the ballcap? (He's referred to as "Cheeks" in most captions, but I'm pretty sure he's not the Sixers' ex-point guard.)

And: How did we ever survive without the Internet?

Friday, February 25, 2005


News: The Patriots release veteran cornerback Ty Law, clearing $12.5 million in cap space.

View: This is one of those things about sports that, as Rick Pitino might say, stinks and sucks and stinks. Ty Law spent 10 seasons with the Patriots, tied the team record with 36 interceptions, psychologically tortured Peyton Manning to our endless delight, had a starring role in two championships and a supporting part in a third, and never failed to play his best under the brightest lights. After his MVP-worthy performance in Super Bowl XXXVI, he even inspired a new term in this sportswriter's Book of Jargon: "Clutch Cornerback." So far, he's the only member of the club.

Law may someday be a Pro Football Hall of Famer - I'd call him borderline at this point - but he's undeniably a Patriots Hall of Famer. In a perfect pigskin universe, he should have spent his whole career with the franchise that drafted him, developed him, and enjoyed so many magical moments with him.

Instead, he's an ex-Patriot and an expatriate, a 15-inch story on the sports wire and uncermonious line in the agate type. And why? For one reason - the usual reason: $$$$$$$.

Law made too much money, was obnoxiously vocal about his unwillingness to sacrifice more than a handful of Benjamins in a contract "restructuring," and the Patriots needed to whack roughly $8 million to get below the salary cap. Someone, or more than someone, had to go; it is no shock that the someone is Law, especially since his agent reportedly requested such a move.

With one vicious slash, the Pats are now under the cap, and they can justify the move further by holding up the shiny new addition to their Lombardi Trophy collection and noting that they won the thing while their 31-year-old cornerback missed the final 12 games of the season with a broken foot. As great as he has been, they will survive and thrive without him. They already have.

Yeah, I understand it why Law is now a former Patriot. I just don't like it. I hate bidding a premature farewell to a player who has been an integral part of the greatest run in NFL history. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the NFL and the Players' Union needs to come up with an addendum to the salary cap, one that makes it easier for a team to retain expensive veteran players that it has drafted and developed. My idea is rudimentary (hell, I am rudimentary) but I think the addendum should be something like this:

Any player who has spent six or more seasons with the franchise that originally drafted him will have just 75 percent of his salary count on the cap.

The Finn Save-The-Veterans Plan is simplistic, but you get the gist. With a rule such as this in place, a fan of, say, the Titans wouldn't have to watch the bloodletting as Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle are released for reasons having nothing to do with performance and everything to do with the bottom line.

There's no doubt Law will get his megamillions elsewhere, and his family (including the cousin with the duffelbag full of goodies, I presume) will not starve. Provided the busted wheel heals properly, he'll be a fine Raider/Raven/Cowboy/Argonaut. You know the Fat Blonde and Plastic Face down there in Dallas already have speed-dialed his agent.

It's just too bad he couldn't have gotten his money here, where his career began and where it should end. After all, it's the place where Ty Law proved time and again just how valuable he could be.

'Toine: The Sequel

So here's the thing. Call it my Daily Mea Culpa if you will.

I really did write that column I promised a day or two ago. Honest. It was on the stunning return of CyberToine, my unexpected admiration for Gary Payton, and a bizarre email I received from Wyc Grousbeck after I ripped the Walker/LaFrentz deal in which the Celtics owner told me I wouldn't like Antoine Walker so much if I really knew him.

Considering that last night I was feeling about as healthy as Marge Schott - not a good sign considering the ol' bat has been dead for a year - I was feeling rather proud about my near-death dedication to this here blog space.

So, yeah, I wrote the thing. It just didn't make it this far. It seems a few moments after the column was completed, my mind began wandering. The memory is hazy, but think I was either looking for my sweet poochie-woochie Schottzie to give him a smooch, searching for my daily carton of Marlboros, or perhaps making a mental note to call Eric Davis a grossly inappropriate slur. Can't recall which.

In my oblivious state, I somehow hit the back button on my computer . . . then the forward button . . . and lost every last overwritten word.

You might say I was pissed. Defeated by technology and my own world-class stupidity, I turned off the computer and cried myself to sleep on my giant pillow.

I was going to re-write the danged thing today - I was, honest - but then the Pats dumped the best big-game defensive back in NFL history, and Ty Law became my obvious topic du jour. Still, I knew I had to post something on the return of 'Toine, the most polarizing player in Celtics history. And that's where my man T.O. comes in.

(Not, not that T.O.)

T.O. is Tim O'Sullivan, another of my peeps/boyz/cronies from my days at the Monitor. He is one of the most creative writers I know, and as a fellow HoopsHype alum, he's never lacking for wit or wisdom when it comes to the NBA, and the Celtics in particular.

Tonight I fired off a short email to him:

What's your take on the trade? I was bummed at first - I really dig Payton's old-school game - but I'm kind of geeked to see ol 'Toine play tonight.

T.O.'s reply did not disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed his usual clear-eyed perspective immensely, perhaps because it's remarkably similar to what I had to say before the &$**@# computer totally &*$#% me over. The %&%$$%%!

Uh . . . yeah. Sorry about that. I'll be PG-13 from now on, promise.

Anyway, here's T.O.'s take.

(Enjoy it, you #**&#@#s.)

The trade? I think I'm still in shock. But, as you know, I'm a 'Toine fan, like you. I think it will be great for Pierce, maybe snap him out of the perma sulk. And I think, or rather hope, that 'Toine has been humbled the last couple of years.

I also think that management has more leverage with him now. Ainge traded him once, so getting a fat new contract is no guarantee. And Rivers has shown he isn't afraid to lower the hammer on his stars (Pierce found that out the hard way) and he doesn't have the history that O'Brien and Walker had - the time at Kentucky and all the time as an assistant coach, who are usually the confidante and shoulder-to-cry-on type guys. He is the boss and he'll demand 'Toine's respect.

So I have hope that this will be a new and improved 'Toine, one less likely to jack 3s at every chance, one willing to play in the post and maybe make an outlet pass every now and again. He is in better shape. And he still has that extra large heart. No one cares like Employee No. 8 (how much will he pay Big Al for that?). He should also put more asses in the yellow Fleet seats, which I'm sure is part of Grousbeck's motivation.

As for Payton, we'll all miss him. They are now a rudderless ship. 'Toine as point forward works for maybe 10 minutes a game. Maybe. I love West, but its too much to ask of him I think to be the full-time point. It could stunt his growth instead of foster it. He may thrive, but you never know. Forget Banks. Now, if Payton gets bought out and comes back to Boston, then Ainge is a freakin' genius and the Celtics could be in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This really doesn't impact the future all that much. Payton, while a good teacher and leader, wasn't the future. And 'Toine is off the books after this year. The future, to me, looks pretty much the same, and if West does thrive, than it actually looks better.

As you can see, I'm thinking about doing a column on this.

I say he damn well should, don't you? The guy brings the insight full-blast even when he's writing in a stream-of-consciousness format. Respect!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sledgehammer my laptop to smithereens. When I'm done there, I think I'll obey this sudden urge I have to try to kiss my doggie on the lips (hack) while smoking 46 Marlboros (cough, cough). Signing off (wheeze) . . .

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dallas reunion

Got an email here from my buddy Nuts, a damn talented sports dude at the Monitor who happens to be cursed with one tragic character flaw: He has the same tingly feelings about Troy Aikman that Siegfried has for Roy. Yep, he's a Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Even bid for Leon Lett's game-worn "undergarments" on eBay once. Poor, confused fool.

Anyway, Troy's Boy says this:

nice updates on the blog lately. i suppose tomorrow there will be some lame-ass joke and photo of bledsoe. real (expletive) funny.

Well, okay then. I'm nothing if not accommodating . . .

As far as jokes go, I believe the photo stands as its own punchline, given a little support from an old Bledsoe quote:

"I can't wait until Sundays because I can get on the field and he can't be yelling at me. You're out there in front of 70,000 fans and it's the quietest it's been on the field all week." - Bledsoe, on playing for Parcells, 1995.

You know, I'd pay good money to find out what Bill Belichick really thinks of Bledsoe's and Parcells's decision to renew their vows. Good money.

Note: I'm hoping to have a real column up sometime tomorrow, on either the Bledsoe/Tuna Rockin' Reunion Tour 2005 or something else of greater relevance. I'll know it when I think of it. 'Til then, thanks as always for checking in. - CF

Barry Bonds press conference transcript

(Or at least a rough translation:)

Reporter: Hi, Barry. You're a no-nonsense guy, and I know you want to get this over with, so I might as well cut to the chase here. Did you or did you not use steroids or human growth hormone?

Barry Bonds: "Steroids? You think Barry Bonds is on steroids? Seriously? C'mon. All you racist, Sanford-and-Sons hatin' liars in the media can't really believe that Barry Bonds uses anything other than hard work, flaxseed oil and Tang to improve Barry Bonds, can you?

"Think about it. If Barry Bonds were on steroids or HGH, Barry Bonds's head would be huge. You know, giant. Mammoth. Gargantuan. Colossal. Immense. Jumbo. Massive. Enormous. Whopping. Bulbous. Maybe Barry Bonds's head would even be this big . . .

"Is Barry Bonds's head this big? Barry Bonds does not believe it is. Barry Bonds rests Barry Bonds's case. Any more questions?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

He's the Manny

To repeat my sentiments from Saturday . . .

It doesn't take much to make me grateful that The Trade never happened. The first shot from Ft. Myers of Manny Ramirez - whoops, make that World Series MVP Manny Ramirez - wearing his disarmingly goofy smile should do the trick just fine.

Sure enough, the trick's done. Manny's in the house, and suddenly, I find myself grinning like a jackass, savoring the recurring flashbacks to last year and becoming increasingly geeked/giddy as I ponder what joys the new season might bring.

Yeah, life is good, Sox fans. The World Series MVP has arrived, and spring should be pulling into the parking lot at any moment.

It's days like these when this Sox fan can't help but daydream about repeating something else.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Nine innings: Springing forward

I had this - well, I guess you'd call it a riddle - rattling around in my sports-saturated brain a few days ago. It goes like this:

If hope springs eternal, as we Sox fans like to say this time of year, then what should our mantra be now since all of our hopes were fulfilled last fall?

The best possibilities I could think of:

~ Hope is for dopes, Myron Cope, and also the Pope!

~ Who needs hope when you have Schill, Manny and Tizzle!

~ Hope this, A-Rod!

Pardon me for lame sarcasm, but I'm guessing you get the point. The start of the new season means the last one is officially over, and I for one am not quite sure how to handle that. Considering that 2004 was the best season of your lifetime, your dad's and your granddad's, it's human nature to be a little reluctant to move on, to tuck last year away in the scrapbook of your mind and make room for some new memories. I believe it was the great philosophers Boyz II Men who put it best:

It's so hard/To say goodbye/To yesterdayayayayyyyay!

Yeah, I do wish we could savor last year just a little longer. But then I see postcard-perfect pictures like the one atop the page and even this hard-boiled cynic can't help but look forward to another summer of sunny days and the Sox. I suppose you could say it gets your hopes up.

Now let's just move on to Nine Innings now before I think of any more pitiful rhymes, shall we? , , ,

1) I really don't care whether the Sox get their World Series rings on Opening Day against the Yankees - but I damn well do hope Dr. Charles Steinberg and the Sox honchos put on the party of all parties during the pregame festivities. I have a few suggestions:

I want Ray Charles brought back from the grave to sing "America, The Beautiful" one more time, and if he's unwilling to be resuscitated for the occasion, I want Alicia Keys.

I want Bucky Dent - the real thing, not a silly effigy - dangling from the Coke bottles near the very spot where his dinky-ass home run landed in '78.

I want Yaz, Rice, Dewey, Pudge, Looie, Boomer, Lonborg, The Eck, Clell Lavern Hobson Jr., Chico Walker and any other legendary Sox of the past on the field, just so they finally know how it feels to be saluted as a champion.

I want Billy Buckner prominently involved, just so he can hear the cheers and remember that we forgave him long ago.

I want Star Wars footage on the big screen, especially the scene when the Death Star blows up. (Symbolism, you know.)

I want highlights of Games 4-7 played on an endless loop on the big screen.

I want Bronson Arroyo to walk over to the Yankees dugout, beeyatch-slap A-Rod, and say, "The name's Bronson. Not Brandon. Bronson. Remember it, Assclown."

I want Dave Roberts to appear as a special guest star. The Padres can wait.

I want the "2004 World Series Champions" banner to be the biggest and most beautiful I have seen, and I want it to say "2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox" on everything from the Green Monster to the hot dogs.

I want Georgie Porgie there, in the same box seat he sat in in '78, just so we can watch him spotaneously combust . . .

2) . . . and I want Johnny Pesky throwing out the first pitch. And if for some reason Mr. Red Sox can't do it, then let it be Mr. Patriot, Tedy Bruschi.

There. That's all I want. I don't think it's too much to ask.

3) I have no doubt that at this moment the Sox are a more talented ballclub right now than the one that concluded last season with a joyous pigpile on the Busch Stadium pitcher's mound. My only concern is that much of the new talent comes with a "Fragile: Handle With Care" label. If David Wells, Matt Mantei and Wade Miller, among others, can stay out of the trainer's room, this is going to be one heck of a baseball team. But I'm not sure we can count on it at this point.

4) I'm on record with my belief that Japanese import Roberto Petagine will be a valuable contributor, this season, but he's not the only intriguing player among those stuck wearing the high jersey numbers in camp. Three other sleepers:

Jeremi Gonzalez: Always has had good stuff, rarely has had good health. He's a superior alternative to the Joe Nelson/Jamie Brown/Jimmy Anderson meatball specialists that found their way onto the roster during the darker times last summer.

Shawn Wooten: The player Andy Dominique hoped to become. Just plain looks like a hitter, and was a productive one at times (.312, 8 homers in 221 at-bats in' 01) during a five-year stint with the Angels. Might wind up being a valuable stick off the bench.

Billy McMillon: Yep, my ex-Sea Dogs favoritism shines through again. The former top prospect of the Marlins has never established himself during several stints with several ballclubs, most notably with Oakland in 2003, when he hit 6 homers in limited time. But he has some interesting qualities - a Griffeyesque lefthanded swing, for one thing, and more importantly, Bill James's belief that his best days are ahead of him. I'm pulling for him.

5) It's a good thing Pedro didn't leave behind his personal mini-me, Nelson de la Rosa, when he left the Sox. Were the little feller still hanging around as the Sox's "mascot," I suspect David (Fat Bastid) Wells would be waddling around after him around the clubhouse, hollering, "Get . . . in . . . mah . . . belly!"

(Editor's note: Not David Wells. Just an uncanny likeness.)

6) You know Wells wishes he were in Pinstripes - he practically said as much during His State Of The Boomer address in Ft. Myers the other day. But when all is said and done, I think we'll be glad he was here. Wells has 212 career victories - just 34 fewer than the great Randy Johnson. Contrary to common perception, it's entirely possible that Wells, the epitome of the Portly Lefthander, could gain some ground on his achy-kneed fellow 41-year-old this season. All right, I'll say it: David Wells wins more games than Randy Johnson this season. Remember where you read it first.

7) It doesn't take much to make me grateful that The Trade never happened. The first shot from Ft. Myers of Manny Ramirez - whoops, make that World Series MVP Manny Ramirez - wearing his disarmingly goofy smile should do the trick just fine.

8) It's not like we needed Trot Nixon and Curt Schilling to remind us that the Sox don't consider A-Fraud a true Yankee, but Derek Jeter's halfhearted reaction to the Sox's verbal salvos did prove revealing. By saying little and acting less than enthused at the prospect of defending the Purple-Lipped Preener, it seems to me the Yankee captain basically said this: "You think you don't like him? Hah. Try playing with him."

A-Fraud and Captain Jetes in happier times . . .

. . . hey, who's the short guy with the beak?

9) One interesting byproduct of A-Fraud's emergence as Public Enemy No. 1 is the Sox fan's newfound appreciation for all that Jeter means to the Yankees. Oh, sure, the "Jeter Sucks" shirts will still make a killing, and you can't help but want to smack the ever-present smirk off his face - it's not like we actually like him. But the Nomar/Jeter debate is now in the past tense, which cooled our smoldering disdain a little, and it doesn't hurt that the Sox finally beat the Yankees when it mattered. Truth is, the respect for Jeter has always been there, below the surface - while A-Fraud's stats are far gaudier, Jeter is the guy who scares the bejeezus out of you when the game is on the line - but we just couldn't risk giving a Yankees fan more ammo by admitting as much. Now we can. Because A-Fraud is dragging him down.

My buddy CJ articulated the Jeter-Doesn't-Suck-So-Much-Anymore phenomenon pretty well in a recent email:

A-Rod sure managed to fool a lot of people for a while . . . with his glossy, Jordan-esque public persona, but he's been exposed now. What's funny is I actually like Jeter a lot better now. I saw him on "Best Damn Sports Show" (maybe the first time I've ever seen a whole show -- I swear) and he just seemed so much more genuine. And he's certainly not willing to fight A-Rod's battles, which I respect. The other thing is, I was watching Game 5 of the ALCS the other night (I taped 4-7 when they were rerun on NESN), and I just came to the conclusion I don't hate the guy at all. Bottom line is, he's a winner, and A-Rod's a loser . . . oh, and don't let anyone know I said this or I'll break your (expletive) legs.

CJ also sent me his all-time favorite picture of his beloved Captain Jetes, the one he keeps in his wallet:

In a related story, does anyone know where I might get a motorized wheelchair, one of those tricked-out ones that has spinning silver rims, metallic paint, and a PlayStation II in the cockpit? I'm hearing I may be in need of some new kneecaps soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tedy Bruschi suffers 'mild' stroke

If this is as serious as tonight's breathless newscasters are making it sound - and at this point, I think they are trying to give me Reggie Lewis flashbacks - I hope Tedy Bruschi takes his three rings and his legacy as one of the most beloved Patriots of all-time and calls it a career. The Patriots will miss him, and so will we. But not nearly as much as his wife and three boys would.

Greenie, with envy

News item: Former Boston Red Sox outfielder/kamikaze Mike Greenwell, the runner-up to Oakland A's juice guy Jose Canseco for the 1988 American League Most Valuable Player award, told the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press that he should receive the award now that Canseco has admitted using steroids.

Said Greenie: "Where's my MVP? [Canseco's] an admitted steroid user. I was clean. If they're going to start putting asterisks by things, let's put one by the MVP."

Canseco hit .307 with 42 home runs, 124 RBIs and 40 stolen bases while winning the '88 MVP award unanimously. Greenwell batted .325 with 22 home runs and 119 RBIs.

Greenwell told the News-Press he never used steroids in his 11-year big league career, all but confirming that the only thing he injected into his butt was his own head.

(Footnote: Greenwell's MVP candidacy apparently wasn't hurt by his reputation as a defensive spaz. Sox centerfielder Ellis Burks took more hits from Greenwell than Drew Bledsoe takes on a typical Sunday. To this day Burks's face begins twitching at the mention Greenwell's name. You think we're kidding.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Nine innings: Spring fevah

Uh, yeah, so here's that column I promised yesterday. What can I say? Guess I had a case of the Mondays.

(Obligatory "Office Space" reference leads to an obligatory "Office Space" Jennifer Aniston photo . . .

. . . don't you just love her flair?)

With that out of the way - I consider myself forgiven now - let me welcome you to the Dead Zone of the sports calendar. There's not much happening at the moment, especially if you consider the Beanpot as insignificant and overhyped as I do. (Throw Maine and UNH in the mix, and then you have a hockey tournament.)

In these uneventful post-Patriot days, it's always reassuring to know that equipment truck has made its way to Ft. Myers without getting hijacked somewhere around Newark. Yes, baseball is closer than it appears - pitchers and catchers for the World Champion Boston Red Sox report for duty tomorrow. And not a day too soon.

With spring training looming, it seems like the appropriate time to introduce the Red Sox "Nine Innings" column, which I suppose is the baseball version of my Patriots "First And 10" column, right down to the silly-ass play on words for a title. It seemed the "First And 10" format went over well with you, my 11 readers, but mostly it's an easy way for me to opine/rant/snivel about a number of Red Sox-related topics in a short time.

So let the opining, ranting and sniveling begin. Or better yet: Play Ball! . . .

1) If you have any doubts about whether Derek Lowe truly wanted to remain with the Red Sox - and you shouldn't, considering the new Dodger has bizarrely chosen to work out with his old teammates at the complex in Ft. Myers - check out this quote, courtesy of the Associated Press:

"I'm going to be sitting in San Francisco (on opening day) watching them play on TV. Now I'm a fan watching these guys play. Now you've got to watch Schilling and Johnson, opening night, Yankees-Red Sox, and not be part of it ..."

Awww. The big goof is going to miss us. Don't know about you, but to be honest, I'm going to miss him too. While Lowe was an enigma who had more than his share of peaks and valleys here (his career progression goes something like this: lousy fifth-starter, outstanding setup reliever, dependable closer, flammable closer, 20-game winner, mediocre starter, demoted starter, postseason hero), he may have been the most versatile Sox pitcher of any recent era, and unfortunately, his value was often taken for granted.

Sure, he sometimes moped around the mound like he'd lost his dog, and he occasionally vented about the unyielding pressure of performing in Boston. But Lowe got it. He understood us, or at least tried to. On his worst days, he rarely dodged accountability, and he was as genuine and grounded as anyone in the Sox clubhouse.

Lowe lacked the casual arrogance that is characteristic of virtually every world-class athlete. The man is just . . . normal. A columnist friend of mine once marveled that Lowe not only answered his questions honestly and without cliches, but looked him in the eye when doing so. It may seem silly, but in a sport increasingly populated with vacant, egomaniacal millionaires, trust me, it's rare enough that you notice when a ballplayer treats you like a real human being.

Yeah, I'll miss him, and even as Gidget goes to Hollywood, he'll miss us. But as long as those "Faith Rewarded" DVDs are kicking around, Lowe will remain the pitcher who one-upped Lonborg and Tiant and Hurst, a Red Sox in spirit for all time. That will have to do, for him and for us.

2) As far as that other departed Sox starter goes . . .

Why do I get the feeling that Pedro Martinez, Mets ace, will spend more time this spring talking about his former employer than his current one? We've moved on, Petey. Time for you to do the same.

3) While the burden ostensibly will fall to David Wells and Matt Clement to replace Lowe and Martinez, the key to the starting staff in my opinion is Bronson Arroyo. His 4.07 ERA last season was better than that of any Yankees starter, and tellingly, he won the complete trust of his manager in the postseason, pitching in several crucial moments. He even survived getting slapped by a purple-lipped man with a purse. If Arroyo progresses as much this year as he did last season, I can envision him winning as many games as Lowe or Martinez did last season - somewhere from 14 to 16. In fact, I'm planning on it.

4) Bill Mueller has played more than 127 games in just four of his eight full seasons, recently had surgery on a knee that hobbled him for much of last season, and turns 34 years old next month. It's reasonable to assume that Kevin Youkilis will not lack for opportunities to establish himself as an everyday big-leaguer this season.

5) Trot Nixon looks 20 pounds lighter and five years younger this spring. Such a development should be cause for optimism, but in this day and age of steroid testing and relentless innuendo, it's also cause for suspicion, sadly enough.

6) If you've even been to Hadlock Field, the quirky and quaint home of the Sox's Double-A club, the Portland Sea Dogs, you might have spent some time lingering in the concourse and checking out the giant team photos of past ballclubs, including some from when they were affiliated with the Florida Marlins. If you have, you probably spotted a comical sight in the 1995 team photo: one ballplayer, clearly freezing his Sea Biscuits off during a typically frigid "spring" day in Maine, has his black turtleneck pulled all the way up over the top of his head. (Trust me, it's funnier to see than my semi-comic desciption makes it sound.) It seemed like New England in April was the last place on earth he'd want to be. The player? A promising 20-year old shortstop from Venezuela named Edgar Renteria.

His past history considered, I hope someone has told Renteria to wear his performance-fleece longjohns on opening day.

7) The difference between a good bullpen and a great bullpen could depend on Matt Mantei - or more accurately, on whether the Sox can depend on him. If Mantei (pictured below during his Sea Dog days) is the equivalent of Scott Williamson, circa '03 Playoffs, the Sox could have the deepest relief corps in the game. But if he is Williamson '04 - and the latter is at least as likely as the former - that role of flame-throwing set-up guy for Keith Foulke will remain unfilled.

8) One of the underrated aspects of the Red Sox last season was their depth, particularly during the postseason. Pokey Reese, Doug Mientkiewicz, Dave Roberts, Doug Mirabelli and Gabe Kapler formed the strongest bench in recent franchise history. Three of the five will be everyday players elsewhere this season, and Kapler and Mirabelli probably could have been. And there's the rub: only Mirabelli returns, and this year's bench can't possibly be so capable. Jay Payton (below) could be equal to, if not an an upgrade on, Kapler, and Ramon Vazquez is a versatile utilityman, though far from Pokey's class defensively. Roberto Petagine is intriguing - I really do think he could be a steal - and Youkilis and David McCarty will be in the mix. The bench could be decent, just not what it was last fall. I'm curious to see how it all comes together this spring. This much I do know: I miss Pokey already.

9) Just finished Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan's book/diary of the 2004 Sox season, titled "Faithful." Here's my quickie review, which probably won't be used on the dust jacket anytime soon: It swung halfheartedly and missed. There were too many careless errors (referring to Brian Daubach, an inexplicable favorite of the authors, as an ex-Devil Ray, for one), their general knowledge was strikingly lacking at times (perhaps because neither author made much of a committment to watch late games) and one got the sense that King wasn't fully devoted to the project until the Sox tore through August (he contributed about half as much text as O'Nan up until that point). And while King's writing is engaging - his style gives you the feeling you're corresponding with an old friend, albeit one who doesn't know as much about the Sox as you - O'Nan, a born Pirates fan who brings his baseball glove and net to catch foul balls, seems like just the kind of moderately informed know-it-all you'd dread sitting next to at Fenway. I suppose the book is worth reading, if only to jog your memory of some forgotten moments from the greatest season in, oh, 86 years. But when you close the cover, it's hard to not think that, unlike the team they wrote about, it could have been so much better.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Peyton's place

Peyton Manning, Pro Bowl MVP. Perfect. Just perfect.

And considering the sh*t-eating grin on Tom Brady's face in this picture, I'm guessing he's thinking the exact same thing.

(Note: I should have some sort of Sox column posted Monday night. Thanks for the patience, peeps. I'll remember you well when I win the Pulitzer Prize for Sports Blogging. - CF)

Friday, February 11, 2005

TATB Notebook 02.11.05

Touching all the bases while suddenly wondering if Jose Canseco's old buddy Roger Clemens is a freak of nature or a freak of chemistry . . .

~ I think most Sox fans will agree that the two defining moments of the championship season were: 1) Rallying to beat the Yankees after Jason Varitek gave A-Rod the leatherface treatment, and; 2) Dave Roberts's season-saving steal in Game 4 of the ALCS. I find it interesting that neither situation would be remembered so fondly without the clutch contributions of Bill Mueller. His homer off Mo Rivera won the 'Tek game, as I'm sure you recall, and in Game 4 his single that plated Roberts with the tying run. (Off Rivera again.) It's not that his crucial contributions have been forgotten . . . more like overlooked. Then again, under-the-radar hero role kind of suits him, don't you think?

~ Regarding Rivera: Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't get that Nike commercial, the bizarre/freaky/ridiculous one where he and several other prominent athletes (LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher and Albert Pujols, among others) wear "warrior" masks that look like leftover props from "Eyes Wide Shut." That thing on Torii Hunter's head looks like a decomposing clam shell. That's supposed to be . . . intimidating? Ask me, wearing a bivalve mollusk for a hat is just plain goofy.

~ I'll bet you dollars to bloody sweatsocks that Curt Schilling is toeing the Fenway rubber on opening day. The man loves the spotlight almost as much as he loves spinning a good, if slightly exaggerated, yarn. (Admit it: there is a certain amount of b.s. to his personality.) He wouldn't miss this matchup against Big Unit and the Empire if he were an amputee.

~ No one says it because he's a nice guy, but I'll say it because I'm not: Joe Castiglione blew the call.

~ Delonte West made more smart, instinctive plays in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' fun come-from-behind-victory over the Clippers Wednesday night than Marcus Banks has made in two years.

~ I will not miss Waltah, Tommy. And frankly, I don't know how you could justify your love for him while he was hoisting all those hideous threes.

~ I consider myself a basketball junkie, and of course I was aware of Gary Payton's talent - the dude was headed for Springfield long before arriving in Boston. But his play for the Celtics this season has come as a revelation - I had no idea he was such an intelligent player. Sure, he's lost a step or two from his SuperSonics heyday, but he makes up for it by a step or two ahead mentally. It really has been a joy to watch him run the team, keep Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis from brawling over the basketball, and play the point the way it was meant to be played. I hope his stay in Boston is longer than expected.

~ Roberto Petagine (that's him, above) is just the type of low-risk, high-reward signing that flies under the radar in February but could make all the difference in August. (Think: Bellhorn, Mark.) In other words, it's a classic Theo move.

~ The lovely and talented Summer Sanders wore more clothing as a swimmer in the '92 Olympics than she does as the host of FoxSports' "The Sports List." Do not take that as a complaint. Did I mention that she's lovely and talented? Hmmm. I wonder if she needs a stalker.

~ One more reason to respect Tom Brady: He blew off an interview attempt by that obnoxious, cloying fool Tom Arnold of the "Best Damn Sports Show" after the Super Bowl.

~ Then again, if anyone paid a higher price to become famous than Arnold, I don't want to know about it. The man made his name by, uh, "marrying" Roseanne. Yeeesh. That's some paid dues right there.

~ Is anyone else beginning to suspect that we won't see Wade Miller on the Fenway mound 'til June, if at all?

~ Two beliefs that have been reinforced while watching NESN's replay of the 2004 ALCS: 1) Tito Francona did not get enough credit for the shrewd and aggressive way he managed this ballclub in the postseason. 2) Keith Foulke has "guts" the size of baseballs.

~ Hey, didn't there used to be a pro hockey team around these parts? I'm not sure even the Gallery Gods miss the Bruins at this point. If the NHL greedmongers sincerely want to save their game, they'll disband a half-dozen teams (hockey in Nashville is the equivalent of beach volleyball in Anchorage), move another half-dozen back to Canada where the sport's soul resides, and implement a salary cap. Then, the NHL might be relevant, and maybe even entertaining.

~ So Karl Malone has decided to retire from basketball. Guess that'll give him more time to dedicate to his favorite sport: hunting little Mexican girls. (Hey, those are his words, not mine.)

~ I'm looking forward to that glorious day when I can watch "SportsCenter" without being force-fed the latest He Said, She Said between Kobe and Shaq. Can't have a show without a breathless Lakers soap opera update, apparently.

~ I'm also looking forward to the day when Linda Cohn (looking old-school matronly a few years ago, above) doesn't feel obligated to dress like Britney (or at least Britney's mom) and quote Jay-Z. I mean, she name-dropped Cash Money Millionaires last night. It's kinda pathetic; she's not even fooling Suburban Stu Scott, and contrary to what Captain Boo-Yeah tries to sell us, that buffoon doesn't have street cred on Sesame Street.

~ With every championship Bill Belichick wins, Bill Parcells's resume becomes a little less impressive. The truth is, Tunaphiles, he hasn't won anything of historical importance without Belichick at his side. And remember, it's Belichick's game-plan from the Giants' Super Bowl victory over the Bills that's on display in Canton, not the head coach's. I'm just sayin'.

~ Someone else said this first (mighta been Peter King, coulda been Ken Powers) but it bears repeating. When Rodney Harrison says we get no respect and everyone wrote us off, he means I get no respect and everyone wrote me off. The guy was cut by the Chargers, for cripes sake. No wonder he's so vengeful.

~ Words to mark: Freddie Mitchell will be out of the NFL next season.

~ It takes a true idiot to make Dan Marino look like an unbiased football analyst, but Cris Carter managed to accomplish the improbable feat on HBO's "Inside the NFL" this week. Carter was praising the performances of Harrison, Matt Light, Deion Branch and Richard Seymour in the Super Bowl, which was all fine and good until he finished his statement by referring to them, with a straight (albeit monster-browed) face, as "average players." Even Marino, whom I've long suspected wears his Dolphins jersey under the three-piece, had to come to the Pats' defense on that one. "Average?" Marino said, incredulously. "Yeah, they're so average, they have three Super Bowl rings." And with that, he beat Carter down like he'd just dropped one of his passes. I think I'll lay off Danny Boy for a while.

~ After hearing the rumors about pitchman Donovan McNabb's tummy issues in the waning moments of the Super Bowl, Chunky Soup takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

~ Jason Giambi has always seemed like a good guy, and I give him credit for facing the music, as controlled as yesterday's dog-and-pony show was. Unfortunately, now that he's wearing the scarlet S on his jersey, every other player who gets caught in a steroid controversy is going to lie and deny until his dying day, because the pathetic "flaxseed oil" defense causes you a lot less grief in the long run.

And that's our steroid-pumped segue to . . .

~ Not that Barry Bonds has changed in appearance over the years, but while I was watching a 1993 episode of "This Week in Baseball" this afternoon - a personal TiVo favorite, because I am a nerd - my wife catches a glimpse of the skinny Bonds and says, a little too hopefully: "Hey, is that Bobby Brown?"

But the best part was watching Bonds being interviewed alongside fellow Players' Choice award winner Dennis Eckersley. Of course the Eck looked exactly the same then as he does now, god bless his flowing mane. Hell, he looks the same chillin' with Tom Caron as he did in the summer of '78, when the look was actually in fashion:

~ Every time the WEEI blowhards start patting themselves on their plump backs for their high ratings - meaning every 30 seconds or so - I find myself having this recurring daydream. It goes something like this:

Stephen King, noted novelist and Sox fan extraordinaire, throws some of his millions at a Boston radio station with a strong signal and switches it to an all-sports format. (He did that exact thing in Bangor, Me., with sterling results.) Then, he hires Michael Holley, Ryen Russillo, Michael Smith, Jackie MacMullan, Bob Ryan, Gordon Edes, Dave Jageler, Gene Lavanchy, Wendi Nix, Kevin Dupont, Fluto Shinzawa, Chris Snow, and any other local media talent that is either banned from 'EEI or can't crack their B-list-level roster. (Hell, he'll even hire me, since we're both UMaine alums and it is my daydream and all.) Then, with such a talented, knowledgeable crew, he'll demand that his station's shows feature intellegent discourse rather than shouted insults and junior high-level jokes; he'll realize that fans listen because they love sports, not because they love the hosts. Later, he'll refuse to be outbid when the Sox and Pats current radio deals expire, adding them to his empire. And then, say, two or three years down the road, his master plan will bear fruit, and he'll sit back and laugh as maniacally as one of his villainous fictional creations as 'EEI's ratings gradually sink like Pete Sheppard in the deep end. And Boston sports fans, thrilled to have another alternative, will laugh right along with him.

Unlikely? Unfortunately. Then again, he does know something about fulfilled dreams . . .

Monday, February 07, 2005

Guest column: An Eagle-eye view

A note from my old buddy Aaron the Eagle, whom I mentioned in yesterday's post:

Hey Chad. I vented a little bit (Monday) morning in a discussion on the Eagles' website. I thought your readers might do well to be reminded that they should enjoy these heady times to the fullest. Or maybe they'd just enjoy laughing at another vanquished foe.

Two things should become readily apparent after you read his rant, which I'll post here in a second:

1) If this post wasn't on a thread titled The Clinically Insane Bleatings Of A Soon-To-Be-Divorced-Cheese-Steak-Chompin'-Madman, it should have been.


2) The enemy really is just like us.

Here's the written proof. Read on, and tell me you don't get flashbacks to those not-so-long-ago days when our beloved teams strung us along, let us down hard, yet never could quite shatter our faith. (See: Oct. 16, 2003.)

Hell, I almost started feeling bad for the guy. Good thing I got to see a parade today. Parades always cheer me up.

(Gratuitous parade photo here . . .)

(And here . . .)

(Yes, I am a dink. Enjoy the column.)

By Aaron Bowden

So, my wife and I were at the typical Super Bowl party yesterday in Manhattan Beach, California: lots of food, booze and people who aren't fans of either team.

I had resolved before the game to try and enjoy the party as much as possible. Win or lose, I figured an Eagles Super Bowl was something to be celebrated.

My wife, well-aware of my propensity to punch things during Eagles games, was worried that I would embarrass her. Being polite and midwestern, she just doesn't understand the relationship Philly fans have with their team. In any case, I promised that I would take it easy and that I wouldn't correct the announcers or bore people with Eagles anecdotes like I do at home.

I've got a pretty good buzz going as we hit gametime and most of the partygoers have been gracious about their intentions to root for the Eagles because they're underdogs.

First quarter, things are going well. I've told everyone to expect a low-scoring game and I'm very much enjoying being right as the quarter ends 0-0.

Second quarter. LJ scores and I go nuts. I lead everyone in a whiskey toast and then flap my wings TO-style. Disregarding my wife's disapproving look, I stand up and launch into a loud diatribe about how wrong all the analysts were who said the Eagles had no chance in this game. Some of the girls at the party look like they're a little afraid.

End of the half. Lito decides not to cover David Givens in the end zone. The guy who's got the 7-7 block cheers wildly and I shoot him a murderous look that compels him to say "Hey man, I'm still on your side but that's 75 bucks." I almost kill him then and there.

Third quarter. The Pats offense starts to move the ball at will. I am certifiably drunk now and rocking back and forth on the couch with my hands folded in front of my mouth. I keep muttering, "Heart, heart, heart. Show some heart, guys." My wife says, "Why do you keep saying the same thing over and over?" I'm considering divorce.

McNabb completes a touchdown strike to Westbrook off his back foot, through two defenders. I jump up and emit a gutteral sound from what must be the bottom of my soul. I hear someone say under their breath, "That was a lucky play." I explode. "LUCK! Are you kidding me? That was pure heart and ability. HEART!" I am beating my chest with my fist as I scream "HEART! HEART! HEART! WE WANT THIS GAME MORE THAN ANYONE!" No one says a word. You could hear a pin drop. I sit back down and my wife looks like she's in one of those Southwest Airlines commercials. "Wanna get away?"

My face is red. The Patriots score again. My wife tells me that she's pretty sure people are laughing about my "Heart" tirade. But somewhere, deep down, I still believe. In my mind, everyone is against me. Even my wife.

McNabb hits Greg Lewis to pull the Eagles to 24-21. I stay seated, making eye contact with no one. I pound my chest softly, thinking, but not saying it out loud. "Heart."

The onsides kick fails. McNabb throws an interception. The game is over. I stand up and say that I'm proud of my boys and the season they gave me. I say that we will be back. But even as I say it, I hate myself. This is what I'm always saying. I realize that I've gotten good at this speech. Every year ends like this.

I'm surprised at how much it hurts this time. I thought I would happier, this year being better than the last and all. I'm not happier. I feel quiet and defeated. I realize I didn't enjoy the party at all. I hardly talked to anybody . . . just screamed at them after key moments in the game. I made a donkey out of myself.

This is what it feels like to be a Philadelphia sports fan. I gave them everything and I absolutely believed in them when everything in their history told me not to. Today, I don't feel a lot better. I'm trying to focus on the good. TO's amazing display of heart. Undrafted free agent Greg Lewis never flinching under the bright lights. McNabb's off-the-back-foot frozen rope.

Tomorrow can't come soon enough. I need the combine and the draft and free agency. I need training camp. I know I will be ready to do this all again . . . And I can't wait.

Postscript: As far as I know, Aaron is still married as of today. And recovering quite nicely, from what I can tell, because he is already plotting ways the Eagles can pluck David Givens as an unrestricted free agent. "Just to stick it to the Patriots," he says. I do hope his wife leaves him soon. - CF

First and 10: The best there is, the best there ever was

Three Super Bowl championships in four years. A league-record 21 consecutive victories. A 34-4 record spread over back-to-back seasons.

Your New England Patriots are not just any dynasty, football fans. They are THE football dynasty, the one against which all others will now be measured.

And the scary thing, for Peyton Manning, Bill Cowher and the rest of the AFC wannabes, is that these Patriots could actually be better next year.

Dan Klecko, Tyrone Poole, Tom Ashworth, and Ben Watson (a freakin' manimal of a tight end, you just watch) will return from injuries. Ty Law is hinting he might be willing to stay at a significantly reduced rate, and Rosey Colvin showed encouraging signs in the Super Bowl that he may return to his pre-injury form.

Certainly the departing coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, will not easily be replaced, and Roman Phifer, steady and unsung through his entire 14-year career, may retire. But there is a very good chance that the roster the Patriots open with next season is superior to the one that rejoiced in Jacksonville last night.

But then, the future is a story for another day. Today is all about . . . today. And yesterday. And with that, it's first-and-10, Super Bowl champion Patriots . . .

1) Tom Brady is 27 years old, famous, GQ-handsome, is a multi-millionaire, has, by all accounts, a loving and supportive family, is dating a classic-beauty movie star, is synonymous with the word "winner" and is now among the best of all-time at his glorious, rewarding profession. My question: Has anyone in the history of the Milky Way had a cooler life? Even if he sold his soul to the devil for all this, he made out with a hell of a deal. I think I'd hate him if he weren't so damn likable.

2) Mike Vrabel, tight end. Five career receptions, five career touchdowns, including two in the Super Bowl. Not a bad second job, huh? Vrabel's fingertip catch of a slightly off-target Brady toss was positively Winslowesque. (That's Kellen Sr., not Jr. I'm praising here.) His time at tight end often comes at the expense of the capable Christian Fauria, as well as solid pro Jed Weaver. Makes you think Vrabel could have made the Big Show as an offensive player had he not made the grade at linebacker.

3) It would be swell if Eugene "The Hittin' Machine" Wilson could make it through one of these Super Bowls without tearing or busting a body part. It's been my contention all season that he is right there with Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi as the most indispensible player on the New England defense. When he was K.O.'d with that shoulder/arm injury late in the first half, it was no coincidence that the Eagles' downfield passing game suddenly became effective. It was all too reminscent of last year's Super Bowl, when Wilson tore a groin muscle (just cringed, didn't ya?) against the Panthers, and his replacement, the immortal Shawn Mayer, had a bull's-eye tacked to his jersey by Jake Delhomme.

4) I must have missed it. When did Andy Reid hire Herm Edwards to be his assistant in charge of clock management? The Eagles had absolutely no sense of urgency in those final six or so minutes. Where was the two-minute drill? Where was the no-huddle offense? Perhaps Josh Miller did officially seal their fate with his dead-on perfect punt inside the five-yard line with 46 seconds left, but had they played it smarter - or at least faster - during the preceding possessions, Donovan McNabb might have had enough time to try and pull an Elway. The Eagles had a fine game plan and were well-prepared, but that was not a championship-level coaching performance down the stretch by Reid.

5) Who knew Terrell Owens's heart was bigger than his mouth? The talking heads are eagerly comparing his inspirational performance in the face of serious injury to Willis Reed's legendary one-legged effort for the New York Knicks in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. It's an obvious comparison, but ultimately I think it sells Owens short. First of all, he was playing football, against lunatics, human missiles, and Rodney Harrison. That's a hell of a lot riskier than taking a 20-footer from the top of the key, and no one mentions that Reed scored just 4 points in that game before "inspirationally" going to the bench for good. Second, Owens was the star of the game for the Eagles, catching 9 passes for 122 yards. He even put that rarely seen "oh-bleep!" look on Belichick's face when it became apparent that Owens was going to be a serious factor, something I'm not sure the Patriots were completely prepared for. T.O. may be a self-promoting assclown, but he is one hell of a tough football player.

6) Yet T.O. was not the premier receiver in this game . . .

. . . That honor went to Deion Branch, whose 11-catch, 133-yard performance was so crucial to the final outcome that the NFL was forced to give him the MVP award. (C'mon, you just know Paul Tags and his starchy minions wanted to give it to Brady, the poster boy for everything right about sports.) If my buddy Aaron, a former teammate of mine in the Concord Monitor sports department and a lifelong and yet oddly rational Iggles fan, is a fair indication, Philly fans were properly impressed by the unsung Branch's ability. Here's a snippet of his note that arrived in my inbox this morning:

Brady completes all those underneath balls to Branch because he's a great quarterback who makes all the right decisions when he's under fire. And speaking of Branch, I have to give it to you. You've been telling me all year how good he is. That one catch he made that seemed to go through Sheldon Brown's hands was incredible.

You've gotta like opposing fans like that. They give your team respect. Then they give you respect. Respect! (Note: Aaron will be weighing in on the Eagles here Tuesday. I think you'll relate to where he's coming from. That is, if you're still humble enough to remember the time when Boston wasn't the City of Champions. Like, say, the year 2000.)

7) Freddie Mitchell: Caught one Donovan McNabb pass.
Rodney Harrison: Caught two Donovan McNabb passes.
And so now we know what Mitchell planned to give that No. 37 guy: The last word.

8) Gotta share one more email I got last night, this one coming sometime during the third quarter. I'll protect this buddy's identity just in case he actually follows through on this and ends up taking the cops on a six-state car chase, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman bound and gagged in his trunk:

Why did Ruppert Murdock and the (expletive deleted) HORRIBLE Fox network ever have to get involved with sports? Huh? Why? They're ruining EVERYTHING, and I'm not even talking about how football is the filler between stupid-ass promos for their lousy shows. They treat the game like a video game. Their camera angles suck. I hate them. And every time Cris Collinsworth starts running his stupid inbred mouth about something he knows nothing about - like the Patriots - I start daydreaming again about beating him to death with Tim McCarver's rotting corpse. Is that wrong? Because it sounds pretty appealing right now.

Um . . . okay, then. Let's move on before I give this more thought and wind up as an accomplice.

9) In case you missed it, there was a sweetly emotional scene there in the final seconds when Belichick joined Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis in a triple hug. (Kind of sounds like something from "MTV Spring Break: Uncensored," now that I see it in print.) It's apparent that their relationship goes deeper than their shared affinity for coming up with devious game plans. I always find it fascinating when Belichick reveals his sentimental side. From what I understand, it happens more than some certain media folk let on. Just check out this quote that Belichick gave Peter King last night. (Yes, Peter King - you know, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette's ace football writer.):

"There's a lot of love between us - me, Charlie, Romeo. We've been together with the Giants, the Patriots, the Jets and the Patriots again. For it to be able to end this way . . . the only word I can think of is 'special.' "

Awww. Isn't that just . . . special.

10) Belichick's not the only one who's going to miss those guys. Weis may frustrate us at times with his tendency to get cutesy, but that's merely a nitpick: he raised Brady from a pup, and he's an innovative and shrewd coordinator, probably the best the Patriots have ever had. (Yep, even better than Ernie Zampese.) And you have to be genuinely happy for Crennel. He's 57 years old, a lifelong assistant coach, a professional grunt, really. He had to figure his time as a head coach may never come. It's a tribute to his patience and talent (and perhaps also to Belichick's selflessness, for he ALWAYS credited Crennel first when a game plan was successful) that he is finally getting his shot to run his own show. I hope he gets to the AFC Championship game every year.

By the way, I heard Crennel took a page from 'Dr. Phil' Belichick's book and got a little verklempt as he bid farewell to his Tedy, Rodney and the rest of the loyal fellas on his beloved defense last night. Even sang 'em a song. It went a little something like this:

In the mornin' I'm leavin'
Making my way back to Cleveland
So tonight I hope I would do just fine
And I don't see how you could ever be
Anything but mine

(Oh Romeo, Romeo . . .)


(My sincerest apologies to Kenny Chesney. As well as to the unfortunate few who read this far.)