Ten free minutes for me, 10 free half-formed thoughts for you . . .
1. Might as well face it, my man Ryan was right: Jeter's winning the MVP. (Fist pump! Smirk! And why not . . . another fist pump!) And you know what? Other than the fact that it gives the Bleacher Buttafuocos and Jeterphiles more reason to prance around in their reflected glory, I've got no problem with it - this season, the Captain's stats actually justify his reputation. He has the second-highest VORP in the league behind Travis Hafner, his production in the clutch is typically dazzling, and you, me, and Timlin know he did his part to shovel dirt on the Sox during that five-game debacle. I'm not really sure why Papi felt the need to diminish his accomplishments - maybe he tried some "Driven" and it gave him a killer rash? While I understand Papi's frustration - Jeter, for all he has done, never has and never will be been burdened to carry an offense the way Papi has - he came across as petty in his criticism, no matter what his tone or the context. If he doesn't regret airing his grievances now, he will by the time this series in New York is over. It's going to get ugly. (For the record, my MVP vote would go to the Twins' exquisite lefty, Johan Santana. There is no one more valuable than him.)
2. So a year ago, Tom Brady puts his money where his mouth is, taking a below-market 6-year, $60-million contract to remain a Patriot, explaining that he's willing to forego the Peyton bucks in order to help keep the core of his team together . . . and then his two favorite receivers say sayonara barely a year later while the team remains roughly $10 million under the cap. And you wonder why this Branch thing was weighing on his mind last week.
3. It's a bummer to see Francisco Liriano shut it down for the season, not only because you never want to see such a charismatic and gifted young pitcher derailed by arm problems, but because I thought his return made the Twins the only legitimate challenger to the Yankees.
4. I suppose it's prudent business for the both the Patriots and the Sox to place a specific value on a player and refuse to exceed that number even if it means losing him, but I can't help but wish they should leave themselves just a bit more flexibility in certain situations. For example, I don't understand why the Red Sox, with their vast resources, were willing to give Johnny Damon $11 million per year, yet were reluctant to go a million or two higher than that. And had the Pats predicted the market better and attempted in good faith and logic to sign David Givens a season or two before he became a free agent, I suspect they'd have him at a much cheaper rate than the Titans ended up paying.
5. You know how it pains me to write these words, but at the moment I have no doubt they will be proven true over the winter: Manny Ramirez has played his final game for the Boston Red Sox. And if the thought of trading him for 75 cents on the dollar pisses me off like this, I can't imagine how Papi will feel when it all goes down. (By the way, is it weird that I find myself almost hoping Manny needs knee surgery just to spite all the WEEI wannabe med students who refuse to consider that he might not be jaking it?)
6. What the Sox should do, of course, is retain Manny then go out and get proven No. 5 hitter with 30-homer potential. (I enjoy the Wily Mo Experience, but he's got a long way to go before he can help anchor a lineup.) So I offer you this suggestion: Alfonso Soriano . . . second base . . . Boston Red Sox. Whaddaya say? I know he's Offermanesque defensively, but he wants to play second again, and I might be willing to sacrifice some glove to get that phenomenal bat in the middle of the Sox' order.
7. Don't tell Mrs. TATB, but I'm pumped and jacked like Trojan Pete that I just led Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson and the rest of my Seattle SuperSonics to a 69-13 record on ESPN NBA '05. Hey, did I mention I'm 36, with two kids, a mortgage, and for now, a wife? Yeah, I know, I'll make a note to grow the hell up and re-evaluate my priorities . . . right after my Sonics' playoff run ends.
8. From the Brushes With Fame (If Not Quite Greatness) file: Back in our Concord, N.H. days, TATB logged many turnover-filled hours on the Green St. hoop court with a live-wire named Mike Carri . . . whom you may now know as Mike "Boogie" Malin, the hipster doofus who just connived his way to the $500,000 grand prize on Big Brother All-Stars. We're glad to report he played that game pretty well, too, and in the real world he's much nicer guy than the character he plays on TV.
9. I'm convinced that if Gabe Kapler's involvement with the Sox next season solely consists of sitting to Tom Caron's left during the postgame show, Tito would still find a way to get his dead bat into the lineup twice a week.
10. As for today's Completely Random . . . er, Media Guide Mugshot:
From party-hearty linebacker, to master of the long snap, to sycophantic bully of a co-host, you are a real man of genius, Steve DeOssie.
(And with that I fully expect to get the following message in my email box later today:)
"DID YOU EVER PLAY THE GAME, BLOGGER? HUH? DID YOU? DID YOU EVER PLAY THE GAME!? ALL RIGHT, THEN! DON'T POST GOOFY HEADSHOTS OF ME UNTIL YOU CAN SAY YOU PLAYED THE GAME, BLOGGER!!!"