Friday, March 21, 2008

Cornering the market

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

1. Loved the Pats' signing of Fernando Bryant today, not only because he's a smart, proven veteran cornerback who's an upgrade on Randall Gay at the least, but also because he indirectly inspired probably the most heartfelt column I wrote in my time at the Monitor. He struck me as a great guy then, and I was glad to learn today that my initial perception was correct. And one more thing: This transaction convinced me beyond a doubt that the Patriots will not use the No. 7 pick to reach for one of the cornerbacks (McKelvin, Talib, Rogers-Cromartie) who are more qualified to go at the back end of the first round. You, me, and Mel Kiper's hairdresser really have no idea what they will do, but I suspect their priorities looks something like this: 1) Trade out of the spot, preferably for Dallas's two No. 1s. 2) Grab Vernon Gholston if he gets past the Jets at No. 6. 3) Take someone they like who no one is considering right now. (Well, except for Mike Reiss, who might be on to something with his educated speculation that they might covet Florida's Derrick Harvey.)

2. Either Glen Taylor doesn't know the definition of the word "tanked," or he's intent on battling James Dolan for the top spot in the NBA version of the Idiot Owner Power Rankings. And given that he oversees a franchise that lost five - 5! - first-round picks for trying to circumvent the salary cap in a shady free agent deal with Joe Smith, I'd say the latter is more likely. It's a damn disgrace that he'd ever question anything Kevin Garnett did for that mismanaged, undermanned franchise.

3. Three semi-sleepers I really like in fantasy baseball this season: 1) Phil Hughes, Yankees: He has to prove he can stay healthy, but every time I have seen him from Double A on up, he's looked like a future No. 1 starter, and that future is near. 2) Jeremy Hermida, Marlins: One of the best prospects in baseball two years ago, he lived up to his talent in the second half last season, hitting .340 with a .956 OPS. 3) Dustin McGowan, Blue Jays: Seven wins and a 3.67 ERA in the second half, he's a much smarter bet than A.J. Burnett to be the Jays' No. 2 starter.

4. In case you missed it, Joe Posnanski had a Q-and-A with Bill James recently on his blog, and it was just as entertaining and informative regarding baseball matters as you might expect. But my favorite part? This:

Q: In The Office*, were you happy or ultimately disappointed that Pam and Jim got together?

Bill: Relieved. They couldn’t have kept that going any longer; it would have fallen flat. If they hadn’t gotten together it would have ruined the show because it would have turned into a cliché.

*It just so happens that The Office is both of our favorite TV show. I was skeptical about The Office because Margo and I loved the original British Office so much. More than skeptical. The first year of The Office — which was a virtual frame by frame copy — was, I thought, awful because it was so derivative. But then the American Office found its voice and took off in my mind, because of the writing, because Steve Carrell’s so great, because of the secondary characters and because I believe it is humanly impossible not to fall in love with Pam.

I tend to agree with that last sentiment, as you probably suspected. And who would have thought Bill James liked "The Office"? I love it when my little obsessions collide like that.

5. Well, looks like we can pinpoint the first time Peter King verbally fondled Brett Favre. Seriously, the Sports Illustrated archives are going to be irresistible - I can see myself losing a couple hours there in the same way that I do on - and I'm kind of amazed that they are making such a cool and valuable resource available for free.

6. Gotta figure if Sports Guy's wife ever reads one of the columns that he writes in her voice, she's going to be seriously annoyed at how vapid he makes her seem. (C'mon, the tone, the structure, the pop culture references . . . it's gotta be him, right?)

7. I'm as glad as anyone that Doug Mirabelli is gone - he's the .202-hitting personification of the arrogant jock stereotype, one of the few true jerks on the Sox - but I hope fans realize he's Johnny Bench at the plate compared to the salami bat who is replacing him. Kevin Cash is a fine defensive catcher, but he's not only a inept hitter, he's historically inept. In 359 career at-bats, he has a .167 batting average (45 points higher than the average of the pitcher he'll be catching) and a .488 OPS. Watching him attempt to hit every fifth day is going to get old fast.

8. I'm not a Bobby Knight fan - he was a brilliant coach, sure, but he's also nearly as accomplished as a bully and a hypocrite - but I have to admit, watching him break down the tournament with his no-nonsense style on ESPN has been compelling TV, and I give him bonus points for picking fourth-seeded Pitt to win it all when, from what I saw, the likes of Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas took the easy way out and sucked up to the top seeds and usual suspects. (Which reminds me . . . god, I wish Duke lost to Belmont.)

9. I had the sound on the TV down for much of the Celtics game tonight, so I have to ask: Did Reggie Miller mention anything in regard to how close he came to taking up Danny Ainge on his preseason offer join the green? While the everyone obviously has to be content with the way things worked out - especially since Eddie House has mostly been outstanding as the designated bomber -I am curious if he has any regrets now that the Celtics are exceeding even the wildest expectations.

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

Didn't realize the former Celtic - and one of few players Red Auerbach misjudged - was one of Avery Johnson's henchmen until I noticed him on the Dallas bench tonight.

* * *

Couple of quick programming notes: 1) The long-promised Celts column should be posted sometime early next week. I'm absolutely giddy at how legitimately great this team is - after sweeping the "Texas Triangle," as Sean Grande calls it, no one can deny that they are THE favorite to win it all. And they're as fun and likable as they are good. I'm at the point where I'm bummed when they have a day off. I wish they played every day.

I'm also planning on writing division-by-division baseball preview caps in the same format as a last year, though those probably won't all be completed until the season is underway. I'll aim to crank out the Sox capsule Monday.

Finally, if you didn't notice the link on the righthand column, we're now on Facebook, so stop by and say hi. TATB could always use a few friends.

Until later . . . sayonara from TATB's favorite goodwill ambassador: