Ten free minutes for me, 10 free half-formed thoughts for you . . .
1. I'm not a skilled enough writer to approach such topics without sounding trite and melodramatic, so I'll keep it brief: David Ortiz is the best thing ever to happen to the Boston Red Sox, and I cannot articulate the sadness I would feel if his heart scare turns out to be something more serious than the exhausting effects of carrying this baseball team all summer. Be well, Papi.
2. Deion Branch needs the Patriots if he's ever going to cash in on the payday he desires. And despite what the Smerlases of the world might tell you, the Patriots need Deion Branch. Which is why they'll get this thing worked out before the season's opening kickoff.
3. You know a player created a lasting legacy when he spends nearly three times as many years with the Jets as he does the Patriots, and New England fans still admire him unconditionally anyway. If this is the end, thanks for those three wonderful seasons, Curtis Martin, and we'll see you in Canton. You left long ago, but you'll always be one of New England's own.
4. Carl Pavano could drive his Porsche off the Brooklyn Bridge, make a public proclamation that Derek Jeter smells way better than Alyssa Milano ever did, and sever his right arm off with a hacksaw just for the sport of it, and I'd still wonder if the Yankees might consider taking Matt Clement for him in straight-up swap of overpaid enigmas.
5. And in a related note, players I hope will turn in their Red Sox gear for good come the conclusion of Game 162: Clement, Mark Loretta, Javy Lopez, Doug Mirabelli, Coco Crisp, Javy Lopez, Mike Lowell, Julian Tavarez, Javy Lopez, Jermaine Van Buren, Gabe Kapler, Javy Lopez, Javy Lopez, Javy Lopez, and Javier Lopez. (Temporarily spared for sentimental reasons: Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, and Trot Nixon.)
6. Back in his New England days a decade ago, do you think Bill Parcells ever thought there'd come a time when Terry Glenn was the more professional, mature and mentally stable of his starting receivers? She's come a long way, baby.
7. Seems to me there are few things more aggravating to a Boston sports fan than a smug, ill-informed contrarian with a pulpit. (And somewhere, Gary Tanguay is disagreeing with me just for the hell of it.)
8. The Bruins rarely get much more than a passing mention in this space, but between the rave reviews of new boss Peter Chiarelli's roster-building skills and the cool news that longtime Friend of TATB Fluto Shinzawa is now the pointman on the beat for the Globe, I haven't looked this forward to the dropping of the puck since Neely was in his prime.
9. Seems to me the same people who were breathlessly comparing Al Jefferson to Elton Brand just a year ago are now the same fickle folks pushing the Celtics to include him in any reasonable deal for a veteran. Give him time, people - sophomore struggles and aching ankle aside, he's still only 21.
10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
There is absolutely no way the Sox should permit Jonathan Papelbon to pitch for the MLB All-Star team that will tour Japan after the season. I may be mistaken, but the last Sox closer to go on this trip was Tom Gordon in '98. You might recall he tweaked his elbow during the tour, and was a lost cause in '99. The Sox should write Papelbon a check for $100,000 - the coin he'd make for participating, and admittedly, the reason he wants to go - and tell him to get some R-and-R. After this grind of a rookie season - it must be grueling, being a one-man bullpen - it's the best thing for him and the ball club.