Sunday, April 16, 2006

A quick word

Ten free minutes for me, 10 free throwaway lines for you . . .

1. TATB's annual Bruins comment, a.k.a., It's Called Ruins: I thought the Joe Thornton trade was phenomenally stupid when it happened. The old adage says it's always a bad idea to give up the best player in trade, and the addendum is that you damn sure don't trade a 25-year-old with more talent than 99 percent of the players in the league for a good defenseman, a second- or third-line forward, and the lesser of the Primeaus. You just don't, even if your young superstar hasn't yet met all of his potential and seems a reluctant leader. Why Boston sports fans - and in this case, team management - are so reluctant to downsize their expectations of a player when its clear he was overhyped early on remains a mystery to me. So what if Thornton wasn't the second coming of Mario Lemieux or didn't command the locker room respect of Mark Messier. He's still a damn brilliant hockey player, one the Bruins were fortunate to have, and unless they are so terrible in the coming seasons that they end up with the No. 1 overall pick a few times, it's going to be a long time before they have anyone like him.

2. I was as bummed to see Adam Vinatieri, David Givens and Willie McGinest go as the next Pats fan, but the reasonable voice in my head assures me that the news that Richard Seymour signed a long-term contract makes this offseason an unqualified success. Vinatieri, Givens and McGinest, though admirable, were role players. Seymour is irreplaceable, a superstar in his prime. The Patriots are spending their money in the right places, still.

3. David Wells is doing his best to make sure there's a rotation spot available for Roger Clemens whenever the Hall of Fame-caliber attention whore finally makes up his mind. The guess here is that Boomer packs it in and beaches himself somewhere in sunny San Diego by June.

4. It's not officially baseball season until Trot Nixon pulls a muscle. Play ball.

5. I'm aiming to weigh in with a player-by-player take on the Celtics in the next few days, but for the moment let me say this: Paul Pierce, Ryan Gomes, Delonte West, and Gerald Green made watching a 30-something-win team much more enjoyable than you'd think it would be. Now if Wally Szczerbiak gets healthy, Al Jefferson grows up, Kendrick Perkins keeps working, Brian Scalabrine realizes he's more suited to lumbering around in the Concord, N.H. Men's League, and Doc Rivers stumbles upon a damn clue, then we really might have something to get excited about here.

6. Gotta say, it strikes me as a little curious that the sports-radio banshees are so eager to scapegoat Wily Mo Pena. Seems to me he's been pretty much as advertised: strikes out like a long-lost relative of Rob Deer, plays the outfield like he's being swarmed by bees, flashes intriguing 40-homer potential, and is a nice if slightly goofy kid with an excellent work ethic. Seems like someone you'd want on your ball club, especially in a supporting role. What? Oh, right, my bad: But he has fewer homers than Bronson Arroyo! Why didn't we just put Arroyo in right field? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) (Sigh. Excuse me a minute while I pound my head against the keyboard.)

7. The early returns on Alex Gonzalez suggest he has a chance to be the second-best defensive shortstop the Sox have had in the modern era (in TATB jargon, that means post-1978, which is when I started watching). His slick yet steady style is very similar to Orlando Cabrera's, and he might even have a little more range. No one, of course, is in Pokey's class. At the plate, however, he seems to have a bad case of Sorianoitis: Get two strikes on him, and he'll chase the low-and-away slider every time. All in all, no complaints.

8. You, me, and Mel Kiper Jr. have no idea what the Patriots are going to do on draft day, and don't even pretend to tell me you heard of Ben Watson (first rounder, '04) or Logan Mankins (first rounder, '05) before Paul Tagliabue called their names on draft day. Hell, I'm not ever sure they knew the Patriots were interested in them. But that said . . . I get a distinct feeling that to the Patriots braintrust, Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter is to highly touted teammate A.J. Hawk what former Buckeye Mike Vrabel was to Andy Katzenmoyer a decade ago, and I don't believe that needs any further explanation around here. I think Carpenter is their guy, and while there's a very high probability that I have no idea what I'm talking about, I have at least as much credibility as Kiper's ridiculous four-round mock draft. So there. That's the prediction I'm going with for now.

9. Man, if I knew you guys liked goofy pictures of disco-era ballplayers so much, I'd just put up a random shot of someone like, oh, say, Hosken Powell here and call it a day. Seems the whimsical little picture quiz I posted Friday has pulled down over 10,000 hits in the last 48 hours, an astounding number considering it wasn't that long ago that tumbleweeds blew through our little ghost-town corner of cyberspace. We owe a tip of the ballcap to Will Leitch at Deadspin for throwing a link and a taste of national exposure our way, and we owe you guys a guarantee that we will make That '70s Show a recurring feature. I've got a couple hundred of those ridiculous photos stashed away, and let's just say there are plenty of porn-star mustaches, blindingly gaudy uniforms and skyscraper Afros to come. And one more thing: As always, thanks for checking in and making TATB a labor of love (well, okay, like) rather than just a labor.

10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Just noticed tonight that Destrade, a classic Quadruple A slugger who never really found his niche in the big leagues save for one season with the expansion Marlins, is in the mix in the ex-player/so-called analyst role on "Baseball Tonight." So far, early returns are good - he seems understated, articulate and knowledgeable - though subconsciously I might be giving him bonus points simply because he's not one of the Three Stooges: John Kruk, Harold Reynolds or Jeff Brantley.