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Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you . . .
1. The Red Sox lineup tonight had better have Kevin Youkilis and/or Dustin Pedroia at the top, and Coco Crisp-Tinsley and Julio Yugo at the bottom. I realize that Tito Francona stands by his players and gives them every opportunity to swing their way out of slumps, and sometimes, such as in the case of Pedroia earlier this season, that's an attribute. But for both Crisp and Lugo, this is no longer a slump; they've both been wretched offensive players for over a full season now, and their inability to get on base ahead of Papi and Manny is murdering the Sox offense. It's time for a shakeup, hopefully starting tonight.
2. If the Celtics hang on to the No. 5 pick, I vote for choosing Florida's Corey Brewer. I don't think he'll be a superstar, but he is adept at just about everything a player can do on a basketball court, and he strikes me as one of those guys who's going to be a key component on a winning team, sort of like Josh Howard in Dallas.
3. Remember when ESPN Classic actually showed, you know, classic sports? Now it's a drab mishmash of poker reruns, bowling, and Stump the Schwab marathons, with an occasional game mixed in, usually one that promotes something on the network that night. Back when you could click it on and randomly catch, say, the '86 NBA Finals highlight film, or a This Week In Baseball from the '70s, or the Kellen Winslow Chargers/Dolphins playoff game, I was gleefully addicted. Now, it might as well be the 24-Hour Rosie O'Donnell Network for all that I watch it. Chalk it ups as another great idea slaughtered by ESPN's marketing suits.
4. I'll always appreciate Mike Timlin for what he meant to the Sox in 2003 and '04, but it's gotten to the point where I dread even seeing him warming up in the bullpen during a close game. I appreciate Francona more than any other Sox manager of my lifetime, but his current blindspot for Timlin drives me nuts; why can't he realize he's no longer the pitcher who was so effective in the eighth inning a couple of seasons ago, and refrain from using him in tight situations? Wasn't he paying attention last August?
5. The national media, almost unanimously from what I can tell, came away from Patriots minicamp raving about Randy Moss. Certain members of the local press are predictably yowling that he was dogging it. So excuse me while I give Peter King credence for once.
6. A few posts ago I linked to a Bo Jackson column written by the great Kansas City Star columnist, Joe Posnanski. I should also have mentioned then that he maintains perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most well-written baseball blog you'll find. Ostensibly it's to promote his book on the legendary Buck O'Neil, but Posnanski veers off in various fun directions all the time, such as his recent post on the icons for every major-league franchise. It's become a must-read for me, so check it out if you get the chance. If you liked his Bo column, you won't be disappointed.
7. I suppose this could work in a Frasier-spinning-off-from-Cheers sort of way, but man, I just can't imagine the antics at Dunder-Mifflin being as funny without Dwight K. Schrute.
8. After watching the brilliant "Sopranos" ending 25 times on YouTube (before HBO yanked it for copyright reasons, apparently), I agree with the theory that Tony got capped in the restaurant. I just can't help but think the conversation earlier in the season between Tony and Bobby in which Bobby ponders what it's like to get whacked and finally concludes, "Maybe everything just goes black" was David Chase's way of foreshadowing the show's (and Tony's) final moments.
9. The hunch here is that Asante Samuel will sign the week before the season opener. It's understandable that he's frustrated that he can't cash in Nate Clements-style, but he's still due to make nearly $8 million this season, which is about $7 million more than he's made in his career up until this point. He'd be a fool to waste a pretty decent payday and a season of his prime in a hissy-fit of a holdout.
10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
This is most blatant airbrushing job I've ever seen . . . that is, until Amanda Beard.