Monday, February 11, 2008

In prison, you have to carry your own bags

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

1. Oh, you know I can't get enough of the Clemens trainwreck. It's like every blatant lie he has gotten away with and every indulgent ego trip he has taken in his unaccountable life was setting up this moment of grand comeuppance. I just hope the reports are true and Andy Pettitte, who we've always been told was a decent, God-fearing man, told the full truth as he knows it about his former teammate and training partner. Should make for some must-see TV tomorrow morning, that's for sure. I'm sure Clemens will be as articulate and believable as ever, even as he sweats like his last name is Giambi. For your entertainment, here are two excellent takes on the subject: Jon Heyman's comprehensive analysis of the situation on, and this biting piece by the Herald's Gerry Callahan, who remains a hell of a compelling columnist, something I tend to forget since his radio persona seems to be an amalgam of every characteristic I despise in a human being.

2. Heard recently that Rajon Rondo - now officially TATB's second-favorite Celtic to watch, after KG - ended up attending Kentucky only after the Louisville native and lifelong Cardinals fan got the runaround from Rick Pitino, who was putting the full-court press on a more touted prep point guard and considered Rondo his fallback option. That other player? Sebastian Telfair, who of course skipped college altogether and went straight to the NBA, leaving Pitino with neither future Celtic. Funny how those things work out.

3. I can't remember where I read this theory - if one of you sent it along, shoot me a note and I'll pay appropriate credit - but I'm beginning to wonder, in the puzzling absence of a long overdue contract extension for Terry Francona, if there's some credence to it: Is it possible that the bright and coveted John Farrell turned down jobs elsewhere this offseason because he's the heir apparent here and knows his day in the manager's chair will come sooner than anyone outside of the Red Sox front office realizes? Given Francona's worrisome history of health problems and the fact that there are few logical explanations as to why baseball's best manager doesn't yet have the contract he deserves, it's fair to at least wonder if he already has his escape route planned. (Edit: The always enjoyable Fragile Freddy first came up with this thought. I knew I'd seen it somewhere.)

4. While I suppose there's a chance he could be J.T. Snow redux, I really like the Sox' signing of Sean Casey. He's a relatively productive, if powerless, offensive player, a slick glove a first base, and as you may have heard from the already smitten media, one of baseball's good guys. Casey's a true pro, and you can never have too many of those on the bench.

5. Yes, I know his goody-two-shoes radio persona sometimes makes Ned Flanders sound like Sam Kinison by comparison, and I realize it's probably not good for my remaining shred of Boston media street cred, but I'll admit it anyway: I like Dale Arnold and am glad he landed the fill-in radio gig for the Sox. Granted, my appreciation for him dates back to fifth grade, when Arnold, then the radio voice for the late, great Maine Mariners, showed up at my church for some charity event with a couple of players (Yves Preston and Rick St. Croix, if I recall correctly, and you know I do) and couldn't have been nicer to a certain shy, sports-obsessed 10-year-old. Celebrity didn't get much bigger in Bath, Maine in 1980. So yeah, I've always rooted for him to do well, and I think he'll be just fine in this role - unobtrusive, informed, square as a box, and deferential to Uncle Joe. What, you would have preferred Meterparel?

6. Might Dan Morgan, the talented if multi-concussed linebacker who was cut by the Panthers Monday, be a good fit as a situational player with the Pats? I wouldn't mind them taking a flier if he'd agree to a Ted Johnson/Brian Cox-type role. (Yes, there's a cruel Ted Johnson/concussion joke here somewhere, but I'm not looking for it.)

7. Rusty Hardin, Clemens's Evil Matlock of a lawyer, has the worst rug since Morrie in "Goodfellas." I can't stop staring at it. It's mesmerizing, like a little boy's regular crossed with a bus-flattened squirrel. I will give him credit for this - it takes a man of great confidence to wear that nest in public.

8. There's nothing that gets me more fired up for the new season than the thought of Manny Ramirez gearing up for a salary drive by working out like a madman all winter. I realize the likes of Rob Neyer can offer reams of numbers showing that power hitters generally don't bounce back big from a down year at age 36, but I have a hunch Manny will be the exception, in part because he finally looked like himself last October.

9. If Danny Ainge wins the NBA Executive of the Year award, and you have to figure he's a McCain-like frontrunner at this point, it will mainly be because of franchise-resuscitating, headline-stealing trades for Kevin Garnett, and to a much lesser extent, Ray Allen. But Ainge's greatest accomplishment this offseason might be piecing together such a deep and diverse bench, especially when the general consensus was that the talent level on the roster fell off a cliff after the three stars. Leon Powe, James Posey, Glen Davis, and Eddie House are all doing a fine job earning their keep in their various roles, and even Tony Allen has limited his patented Headless Chicken routine lately and begun letting the game come to him. It's a versatile, cohesive group, one that complements the starters effectively, and it may be the most encouraging sign yet that Ainge really knows what he's doing when it comes to building a team.

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

Showtime in less than 24 hours, Rog. What say we go do us some perjurin'!