Friday, August 03, 2007

Nine innings 08.04.07

Playing nine innings (multi-sport edition) while feeling bad about ripping on J.D. Drew now that we know what he's going through . . .





1. Yup, apparently I'm making Kevin Garnett photo collages now. I guess it's still just surreal that perhaps the most likable NBA superstar of the last decade is on the Celtics, and I'm still savoring the whole thing, four days after the trade. It's funny, I've been trying to explain how significant this is to the lapsed Celtics fans I know, and I just keep coming back to the same point: Kevin Garnett will restore Celtic Pride. I guarantee it. He is the perfect player in the perfect place at the perfect time. He's a superstar who plays with the hunger and desperation of a 12th man. He's maniacal about winning. He's selfless, sometimes to a fault, though with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen as his wingmen, he won't always be counted on to take the last shot. He's a genuine leader who gets bonus points for once socking Wally Szczerbiak. His charisma, as those only vaguely familiar with him learned at his introductory press conference, is off the charts. He will thrive in the Boston sports atmosphere, and the city is going to adore him. There's nothing not to like about this deal, for the Celtics matter now, and if it took trading five players (including the admirable Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes) and two draft picks to make that happen, I say it was a bargain price to pay. Of course there's no way the Celtics should be getting 9-1 odds to win the championship, and of course they need to build some semblance of a bench before they can even be considered a contender. But you've heard the the buzzword we've been throwing around the last few days - "relevance" - and no matter whether Danny Ainge's plan to restore the franchise was by luck or design, he has made the Celtics relevant by bringing Garnett to Boston. I simply cannot wait for opening night. When was the last time any of us said that?

2. I'm not saying this Barry Bonds "chase" is dragging, but by the time he gets to 756, his ubiquitous daughter is going to be married with a family of her own, Greg Anderson will have escaped from Alcatraz or wherever he's rotting away with his misplaced loyalty, and Bud Selig and his snap-on toupee will have long since gone to the great used-car lot in the sky.

3. Assuming Randy Moss's hamstring is okay - and wouldn't that be a bummer to you, me, and Mr. Brady if this thing lingers into the season? - here's how I rate the Patriots' bounty of receivers. 1. Moss (He's still got it.) 2. Wes Welker (He's already on the same page as Brady, who raves about him.) 3. Jabar Gaffney (Smart, and the longer he is here, the better he gets.) 4. Donte Stallworth (An injury-prone tease.) 5. Troy Brown (They wouldn't have brought him back if there wasn't a guaranteed place for him . . . right?) 6. Reche Caldwell (Stop staring at me!) 7. Kelley Washington (Too skilled not to catch on elsewhere). 8. Chad Jackson (Take the year off, kid, and learn the playbook.)

4. Eddie House is the definition of an NBA vagabond, but he's going to be a popular player with the Celtics. He can shoot it (and as a Garbage Time All-Star, he's not shy about doing so), and as anyone who read ":07 Seconds Or Less," Jack McCallum's excellent book on the '05-'06 Phoenix Suns, can attest, he's a clubhouse comedian, armed with countless hilarious anecdotes and one-liners. He'll be a good fit here, and I bet he's an honorary member of Garnett's legendary posse in no time.

5.Just when you thought the pink hat-pandering Red Sox couldn't get more crass, you discover they are selling autographed Jon Lester "Survivor" baseballs on Red Sox.com - and donating only 10 percent of the profits to the Jimmy Fund. Shouldn't, say, 100 percent of the profits go to the franchise's signature charity? I hope there is a genuinely philanthropic reason for this, but right now it sure looks like an shameful money grab by the Sox marketing minions, and one that takes advantage of Lester's status as an inspiration.

6. Watching a droopy-faced Roger Clemens lumber off the mound in the second inning Thursday to a chorus of Bronx cheers, I had two thoughts: 1) Thanks goodness he's finally in the twilight of his career there and not here, and, 2) Of all the dramatic things you've evah seen, Suzyn, where does this rank?

7. I'll admit I'm hooked on "The Bronx Is Burning," not that I think it's any good. Oliver Platt's portrayal of George Steinbrenner is way too cartoonish (yes, that's possible), the emphasis on the Yankees' clubhouse drama relegates the fascinating Son of Sam and NYC blackout subplots to haphazardly tacked-on footnotes, and the actor playing Reggie Jackson really looks like Jackie Chiles in an Afro wig. At least the guy playing Thurman Munson is a ringer for the aeronautically challenged Yankees captain (ouch . . . too soon?), though his portrayal fails to capture Munson's chronic grumpiness. It's a fun, mindless diversion, I suppose, especially for a child of the '70s, but more than anything it's made me want to read Jonathan Mahler's well-regarded book.

8. In my typically ham-handed way of begging you to read this week's Fox column, I've got a hypothetical for you. Say the Twins make Johan Santana, a free agent after '08 who recently voiced his frustration with the front office, available in a deal this offseason. Put on your gorilla suit and pretend you're Theo Epstein for a moment, then ask yourself this: What would you offer Terry Ryan in exchange for the two-time Cy Young Award winner? Obviously, the bidding starts with Clay Buchholz. But who else is in the package? Jon Lester? Justin Masterson? Jacoby Ellsbury? Buchholz, Lester, Masterson, and Ellsbury? What do you think it would take . . . and what would you do? Discuss.

9. Today's completely random baseball card:


This one's a hat tip to TATB writing binky Joe Posnanski, who reminded me with this piece why I fell for baseball 29 years ago, and why it's still such a part of me despite my working in a profession that turns fans into cynics.

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