Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I think I'll go to Boston/I think I'll start a new life

Some nearly coherent wee-hours thoughts on today's nearly completed blockbuster trades . . .


CELTICS TRADE FIVE PLAYERS AND TWO DRAFT PICKS TO MINNESOTA FOR KEVIN GARNETT

Do I like it? . . . Let's put it this way: It's late July, the Sox are in first place, the absolutely stacked Patriots are kicking off training camp, and all anyone was talking about this afternoon was the Celtics . . . C'mon, how can any Celtics fan not love this? All I've wanted these past few years was for this franchise to again become entertaining, good, and relevant, and Garnett makes them all three the very first minute he puts on a green and white uniform . . . Yes, we all liked Al Jefferson a lot, and there is a chance that the T-Wolves could get a franchise-salvaging bounty out of this deal, particularly if Gerald Green ever has the maturity and dedication to match his ability . . . And yes, we know there is more than a little risk in trading the future for a 31-year-old who has worn a lot of tread off his Nikes . . . But I tend to think the majority of people who are skeptical of this trade are the same ones who stopped following the Celtics around the time the Bad Boys Pistons began to reign . . . They're okay with the Celtics' descent into irrelevance, and they probably know Garnett only from the "SportsCenter" highlights, and maybe a commerical or two ("All nude. But tastefully done.") . . . They don't realize that Garnett might be the most dedicated superstar in the game, a selfless, driven, all-around force who plays as hard in a mid-January grinder in Utah as he would against Tim Duncan in the second round of the playoffs. Garnett cares, dammit, and he plays his heart out every freakin' night no matter what . . . Maybe this is hyperbole brought on by the joy and magnitude of the moment, but no matter, because I believe it to be true: Through sheer force of will, Garnett is capable of restoring Celtic Pride, and the alleged and lapsed Celtics fans who don't know this about him are going to be leaping on the bandwagon once they realize what a treat it is to watch this guy play night after night . . . And it will only benefit the Celtics that for all he's accomplished individually in his career, you get the sense that the situation in Minnesota was eating away at him. Despite his most valiant efforts, Minnesota was always undermanned against the iron of the Western Conference . . . With the exception of his brief run with Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, he was always trying to battle the Spurs and the Lakers and the Suns while stuck playing with the Troy Hudsons and Marco Jarics and rosters full of second-tier talent . . . It wasn't fair. And now he comes to Boston and gets to play with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who immediately become the two best teammates he's ever had, and who also should complement his skills beautifully? Can you imagine how motivated he must be to prove that he can be a champion if given the proper support? I never, ever thought I'd say this in July, but I simply cannot wait for the NBA season to begin . . . So then, what prompted him to decide that Boston wasn't so bad after all? . . . The Allen deal changed everything, obviously, not only regarding the Celtics' approach to the future - Youth movement? What youth movement? - but with Garnett's perception of the franchise. I think once he knew for sure he wasn't going to his first choice, Phoenix, once he realized there was an easier path to playoff success in the Eastern Conference, once the Celtics dumped his old nemesis Wally Szczerbiak, and once Pierce and Allen began badgering him relentlessly about being their third amigo, he came to the conclusion that this might be a fine fit for him after all . . . Now, of course we do feel bad for Big Al, who by all accounts is devastated by the deal, probably in part because it dawned on him that he'll have to play with the one and only Tyree Ricardo "Ricky" Davis and that scumbag Mark Blount again . . . I'll miss watching him, too. His instincts and old-school moves around the hoop made him something of a throwback. Is it any wonder that Kevin McHale adores him? . . . And I do wish they could have made the deal work without including Ryan Gomes. While he'll never be a star, his smarts and versatility make him appealing, and I thought his ultimate niche would be as a valuable seventh or eighth man on a championship contender . . . The pressure just intensified on Rajon Rondo, that's for sure. Garnett has a low tolerance for youthful screwups, and for all of his breathtaking ability as a playmaker, slasher and defender, Rondo is maddeningly inconsistent, and he remained so in the Summer League. I hope he's ready for this . . . Kevin Garnett, power forward, Boston Celtics. Amazing . . . So when will Michael Wilbon be issuing his apology?

* * *


RANGERS DEAL MARK TEIXEIRA TO BRAVES; RED SOX PURSUE JERMAINE DYE

Looks like my hope that Teixeira would come to Boston and help Manny and Papi anchor the Sox lineup through October and beyond is a few dotted i's and crossed t's from being nothing more than an unfulfilled daydream . . . (Sigh) . . . I have to admit it appears Rangers GM Jon Daniels made out pretty well, all things considered. He got Atlanta's top two position prospects, and apparently will also receive two of their top three pitching prospects. And Saltalamacchia, one of the few elite catching prospects in baseball, is a better player than anything the Sox should or would have been willing to offer, though my hunch is that if the Sox had been willing to give up Clay Buchholz, Teixeira would be having a press conference at Fenway Tuesday afternoon . . . Not that I'm suggesting the Sox should have done that, of course . . . The fascinating thing will be seeing how this all pans out for the Rangers in a few years. While the Braves were clearly dealing from a position of strength and probably gave up Saltalamacchia only because of the presence of young All-Star incumbent Brian McCann, Atlanta GM John Schuerholz rarely makes a wrong move when it comes to deciding which prospects to keep and which ones to deal. (Somewhere, Andy Marte nods his head in agreement while engulfing a creme horn for breakfast). Saltalamacchia looks like the real deal, but Schuerholz's sterling track record should cause at least a shadow of a doubt . . . So with Teixeira headed for the Braves, where do the Sox turn? . . . My prediction is that White Sox GM Kenny Williams will blink and the Red Sox will get Jermaine Dye for a second-tier prospect at or around 3:59 p.m. today, though I wouldn't be shocked if Theo compromised and offered, say, Michael Bowden, who I think has been passed by the ascending and untouchable Justin Masterson on the prospect scale . . . Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the reason the Sox allegedly assured Dye that he would play five days a week in Boston is not because they're going to bench J.D. Drew, but because Dye's arrival might preclude a trip to the disabled list and/or the operating table for David Ortiz. Papi is such a mess right now at the plate that it's disconcerting, and there simply has to be more wrong than we are aware of. I would not be shocked if he has that torn meniscus operated on should Dye come here. Dye would, theoretically, ease the temporary loss (four weeks, most likely) of Papi from the lineup, and Boston's cushion in the division is big enough that they might at least consider shutting down Papi to have him healthy for the postseason . . . One more thing about Dye: He is not, contrary to reputation among certain members of the media, a good defensive outfielder. Yes, he won a Gold Glove, and he has a right fielder's arm, but years of leg problems have resulted in him running like he's on stilts, and he's been an adventure at Fenway Park for years dating back to Game 4 of the 2003 ALCS. Now, I'm not suggesting he's as inept as Wily Mo, but he's not good. Fortunately, if he does come here and Papi doesn't end up going on the DL, then the Sox will have a certain $70 million defensive replacement to help him out . . . Bottom line: Give me Dye and, oh, Eric Gagne for a couple random Sea Dogs and PawSox by 4 p.m. today, and maybe that will take my mind off basketball for a few moments.

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