Friday, December 02, 2005

TATB Notebook: 12.02.05

Touching all the bases while wondering if the Red Sox will sue Josh Beckett for the 2003 World Series ball, too . . .

I don't spend too many words in this space on college football, but my Globe gig requires that I pay attention, oh, at least as closely as a nitwit like Lee Corso does, and so I can say this with the utmost certainty: USC's Reggie Bush is the most electrifying college player to come along since Rocket Ismail, and he has the talent and tools to have 10 times the pro career. A skeptic might think those increasingly frequent comparisons to Gale Sayers are based in hyperbole, but after watching Bush's 513-yard tour-de-force against Fresno State, this skeptic doesn't. He might be that good. Seriously. Even Sayers reportedly has said so. Here's hoping the Jets win a few (after losing to the Pats Sunday) and play their way out of contention for the top pick in the NFL Draft. I don't want to see Bush, a No. 1 pick so obvious even the Jets couldn't screw it up, running wild in the AFC East for the next dozen years.

While Michael Irvin's "Oh, that? That's my brother's friend's cousin's uncle's fiance's nephew's pipe, officer" alibi has more holes than the Patriots' defense, I wouldn't entirely blame him for falling off the weed wagon, if that's what happened here. If I had to work with Stuart Scott, I'd probably turn to drugs, too.

Speaking of DJ Stewy Boo-Yeah: After catching his spoken word "poetry" narration over the highlights for what I'm pretty sure was an NFL game the other night, I've spent the last few days wondering if rhyming is a sign of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It was so jaw-droppingly awful - and Adult Urkel was so smugly serious about it - that I found myself more annoyed with his hubris than humored by his stunning lack of self-awareness. I fully expect him to change his name to Maya AngelStu by the end of the season.

Shrewd move by Joe Torre, throwing it out there that Derek Jeter might make a good center fielder, then when the story gets the big type in the headlines, he claims he was misunderstood and was just tossing around some crazy ideas. Torre knew exactly what he was doing: floating a trial balloon. The Yankees have obviously considered this; Torre was trying to see how it would be received, not only by the public, but by the player himself. If Jeter had come out and said, "Mr. Torre, although my identity is as a shortstop, well, I am the captain, and gosh darn it, I'll move to center for the betterment of the team," you can be damn sure his mighty intangibles and truly incredible instincts on popups would be situated between Matsui and Sheffield in the Yankee outfield next season. Then, A-Rod would be back where he belongs, and a capable pro such as Joe Randa or (say it ain't so) Bill Mueller could be signed to play third base, and the Yankees would actually do something that makes sense for once. Instead, they are contemplating trading for Juan Pierre, who is a season or two away from being Tony Womack.

I'd suggest signing this, but I suspect the more publicity it gets, the more determined Larry Lucchino will be to trade him. Personally, I fully expect Manny to be an Angel in the next 10 days, with the rotting carcass of Steve Finley, the washed-up remnants of Darin Erstad, and two or three supposed prospects coming to Boston in return. And then I will puke.

The only contract more ridiculous that three years and $17 million the Yankees gave fireballing headcase Kyle Farnsworth-Whitson-Rogers-Weaver-Wright-Pavano is the three years and $18 million the Phillies shelled out for 76-year-old Tom Gordon. The crazy money being spent on relievers in free agency is making the Sox's acquisition of Guillermo Mota look better and better.

Words to mark: Ty Law will be starting at cornerback for the Patriots in next season's opener. And about that other best old ex-friend coming to Foxboro this Sunday: Eight years and 10,273 yards later after he jilted New England, I still think of Curtis Martin as a Patriot first and foremost. I doubt Patriots history would be better had the Krafts had the good sense to pay Martin before they infuriated him by giving priority to Max Lane and Todd Rucci - hell, after three Super Bowls in four years, it's hard to lament anything in the past. But it certainly would be different. I, for one, could have lived without the Terry Allen Experience.

Monty Beisel's whiny verbal altercation with Providence Journal reporter Tom Curran got a lot of play in the media, particularly considering every reporter who has ever stepped inside a locker room has found themselves in a similar confrontation at one time or another. It's not like Beisel tried to hit him. Which, come to think of it, is probably a good thing: Curran surely would have cut back, left Beisel sprawling on the locker room carpet, and run for an extra 20 yards.

How Dungy-esque and Manning-like it would be if the Colts went undefeated in the regular season and winless in the playoffs. I say Seattle knocks them off the day before Christmas, and if that doesn't happen, the '72 Dolphins take the entire Indy team hostage until they are forced to forfeit a game.

Two points for the Celtics: 1) I was in hoops heaven watching Kendrick Perkins channel Paul Silas and maul his way to 19 rebounds the other night. Perkins, who has gone from fat to fit while completely transforming his body from his rookie season, has soft hands, fights for every rebound, sets a mean pick, and could give a damn about getting his touches. In other words, he's the anti-Blount, and I hope his coach starts giving him the minutes he deserves. 2) I'm not saying Dan Dickau is slow, but I suspect Doc Rivers could take him off the dribble.

I was glad to see Paul Konerko re-sign with the White Sox. He'll forever be identified with the franchise after all they accomplished this season; it's where he belonged, and it's to his credit that he realized as much, even with bigger piles of cash from the likes of Baltimore on the table. We can only hope Johnny Damon has the same sense of loyalty and history and realizes that the Red Sox are as good for him as he is for the Red Sox. As Gammons says, he's not a rock star anywhere but here.

You know it, I know it, and Jerry Jones's team of plastic surgeons know it, so why not just tell ESPN now so it can dedicate the next six weeks of programming to it and get the mind-numbing hype over with: Terrell Owens will be playing for the Dallas Cowboys next season.

Is it too soon to wonder if Tedy Bruschi will ever be Tedy Bruschi! again? The instincts are still there - he still has the uncanny knack for being in the right place to make a play - but save for a touchdown-saving pass deflection against Miami, he hasn't made many plays. And yes, I feel lousy for even mentioning this.

Trade your best player for two quarters and a dime on the dollar? It's called Bruins. Pelted in the streets, mocked in the bars . . . In all seriousness, it seems to me that Joe Thornton is a victim of unrealistic expectations. While he is a very, very good hockey player, the happy-go-lucky centerman never quite became the elite, franchise-altering superstar that his skills and early press clippings suggest he should be. Ultimately and unfairly, the notion that he was an underachiever made him an easy scapegoat when his team underachieved. Hey, Mike O'Connell and Harry Sinden having stuck around this long by blaming themselves.

Not that I hold it against my mom for giving me a prep-school sissy-boy's name, but I'm pretty sure a D'Brickashaw kicks a Chad's ass every single time.

As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Here's hoping this is the year the American League's most feared hitter for the better part of a decade finally gets the call from Cooperstown. Jim Rice absolutely deserves to be a Hall of Famer, and a weak ballot (Gary DiSarcina, anyone?) combined with the backlash against this generation of chemistry-enhanced cheaters makes his candidacy as appealing as it has ever been.

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TATB recently celebrated its first anniversary, and while we're not saying the birthday party was wild, let's just put it this way: we had Michael Irvin take care of the "refreshments," and our guy Buckethead woke up the next morning in an ice tub looking like this and missing a kidney. So while we recover from the festivities, we just want to take a moment to say . . . well, thanks. Year 1 was far and away more successful than we ever imagined, and that's entirely due to all of you doofuses who for some reason make this place one of your regular cyberspace stops, even when I've been AWOL from posting for a few days. Your loyalty and correspondence is greatly appreciated. You're all invited to next year's bash.