Ten free minutes for me, 10 free Coney Island hot dogs for you . . .
1. The more I see of Kevin (37 and 23) Durant, the more I pray that M.L. Rivers and the Celtics keep Paul Pierce locked up in a broom closet until this season is safely tanked. Since few free agents consider Boston a worthwhile destination, the only chance to break free from this cycle of mediocrity is to hit it big in the lottery. and with Texas freshman Durant, a breathtaking amalgam of Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady, and game-changing Ohio State big man Greg Oden likely available this spring, now is the time to win by losing.
2. What's happened to Ted Johnson is beyond tragic, and judging by his doctor's ominous words, this story is only going to get worse. But even as I sympathize with a man whose life has been shattered by the culture of football, I can't help but think that more of his plight is self-inflicted than he's willing or able to admit. After all, Johnson is blaming Bill Belichick for altering his career and his life by forcing him to practice with a concussion in 2002 . . . yet earlier this year, Johnson expressed frustration that the Patriots didn't sign him after Junior Seau was lost for the season.
I suppose we have to chalk up such contradictory illogic to the sad fact that his brain has been rattled beyond repair.
3. Mike Ditka and a few other notable former players have been on a media crusade this week, demanding drastic improvements in the pension program and the medical and financial benefits for the NFL's alumni. It's certainly a worthy cause, for there are many more Ted Johnsons out there whose lives have been devastated by the aftereffects of their violent occupation. But it must be noted that there is a certain amount of ironic hypocrisy in all of this. Had the NFL Players' Union shown any kind of unity during the strikes of '82 and '87, the players who crossed those picket lines and didn't consider the future would be living better lives today.
4. Speaking of Seau, it kind of felt like he was the Special Guest Star to this Patriots season - it was fun to add such a famous face to the cast, but we knew, given his age and injury history, that his stay was probably only temporary. I bring this up because I kind of forgot about him after his injury . . . yet, in rehashing the Pats/Colts game in my mind over the last week, it kind of dawned on me that his presence might have made a huge difference in the second half of that game. Not only did he outplay Tedy Bruschi against the run earlier this season, but he was far and away the teams best linebacker in pass coverage, particularly against tight ends in the seam. I can't help but think that had he not Theismanned his arm all those weeks ago, we'd never have heard of Bryan Fletcher.
5. Words to mark: Todd Helton will be batting second and playing first base for the Boston Red Sox on opening day. Pay no mind to that jabbering Rockies owner - the fact that Colorado was willing to pick up half of the $90 million remaining on his deal tells you all you need to know about the ball club's desperation to get a deal done. Kudos to the Sox for refusing to part with Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hansen. They'll get this thing done in the spring, on their terms.
6. Curt Schilling's Sign Me Now Or Lose Me Later antics are remarkably similar to the routine Pedro Martinez pulled three springs ago. I'm glad both Shaughnessy and Seth Mnookin called the disingenuous windbag out on it.
7. It's a good thing the Bruins are completely irrelevant, or someone with some clout might start noticing that the Joe Thornton trade will go down as one of the absolute worst in Boston sports history. Maybe once Brad Stuart is traded for a sack of pucks and a couple of fourth-liners, those who applauded this trade will come forth and admit their idiocy.
8. For the first time as far as I can tell, ESPN allowed comments on a Bill Simmons column yesterday . . . and man, it didn't take long for it to quickly escalate into a highly entertaining, Deadspin-fueled evisceration of all things World Wide Leader. I'm thinking ESPN is probably going to go back to the drawing board here. At any rate, it made me appreciate the handful of regular commenters here, who by and large piss me off only when they make my point more eloquently than I do.
9. All right, Officephiles, answer me this: What in the name of Mose Schrute was Pam up to last night? Those lunchroom conversations with Jim and Karen were just plain weird, and even after (obsessive nerd alert!) checking out a couple of Office fan sites last night, I'm still not quite sure what was happening there. Was she trying to flirt with Jim (and failing miserably) with that whole REM thing, of which there certainly were suggestive undertones? Why was she so distracted while Karen was pigeonholing her, and why did it seem she was trying to act that way? Is she just frustrated and lonely and on the verge of a breakdown . . . or worse, getting back together with Roy? And if she's trying to send Jim signals that she digs him, well, why doesn't she just come out and say it? Answers, people. I need 'em now. Next Thursday is too far away.
10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
No relation to the horse.