A BRIDGE FOR SALE; MOTHER NATURE & THE PATRIOTS

December 11, 2009

Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe about the pessimistic outlook of the Red Sox front office. “Storm the gates of Fenway Park. Cancel your NESN
package. Stick your head out the window and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!’’
Do not buy the bill of goods the Red Sox are selling.
John Henry and Theo Epstein are preparing you for the Big Slide. While they continue to raise ticket prices and drain every dollar out of Fenway, they are
telling you to put your expectations on the shelf. No more “championship-driven’’ campaign for your Red Sox. The Sox are building a “bridge’’ for the future.
They are giving up on competing with those big, bad Yankees.
What a joke. First we had Sarah Palin’s Bridge to Nowhere. Then we had Bob Kraft donating thousands to Deval Patrick in an obvious (thus far, failed) effort to get the government to pay for a $9 million bridge to connect a couple of his parking lots. Now it’s Theo selling his bridge between championship seasons.
Please. Sounds to me like a bridge over troubled waters.
In an e-mail to the Globe’s Amalie Benjamin last month Henry explained that the Sox might not be as good this year, writing, “Those reali ties are a function of available talent and age-related transitioning once again, as we did prior to 2007.’’
Tuesday at the winter meetings in Indianapolis, Epstein hammered at the same theme with “we’re kind of in a bridge period. We still think that if we push some of the right buttons, we can be competitive at the very highest levels for the next two years. But we don’t want to compromise too much of the future for that competitiveness during the bridge period.’’
Translation: Don’t expect us to make any big deals. We don’t want to spend any more money on payroll. We’ve already blown enough on the likes of Matt Clement, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Smoltz, and Brad Penny. Let the Yankees spend the money. We’re not going to compete with them anymore.
So keep ponying up the dough for those Fenway tours and wait for our “kids.’’ You’re gonna love Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Westmoreland, Casey
Kelly, and Lars Anderson, but they are a couple of years away.
Just like Juan Bustabad was always a couple of years away.
I’m not buying. The Sox have the dough to sign Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. Just like they had the money to bag Mark Teixeira last winter. But they keep
getting beaten by the Yankees and then they cry about it.
Stop. It’s hideous of the Sox and their fans to complain about the Yankees buying championships. Sure, the Yanks can afford Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett, just like the Sox were able to afford Matsuzaka and Drew. The Sox got Curt Schilling and Victor Martinez the same way the Yankees got Curtis Granderson this week. The Sox are not the Pirates. They are not the Brewers or the A’s. The Sox are Haves, not Have-Nots. Like the Yankees, the Sox are happy to raid the rosters of teams that can’t afford high-priced talent.
Oh, and last time I checked the Yankees developed Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain. They developed the players they traded in the deal that brought Granderson.
Nothing is more pathetic than the Red Sox crying about the Yankees – unless it’s Henry crying about revenue sharing. Henry loved commissioner Bud Selig when Uncle Bud delivered the team to him in the bag job sale of 2002. Here we are seven years later and Henry is doing something the Yankees never did; he’s complaining about his luxury tax money going to the Royals and the Pirates.
The Yankees blew past the Red Sox in 2009 and New York just got better. Granderson is an All-Star leadoff hitter, a defensive artist in center field, and a 30-home run guy in his prime. Meanwhile, the Sox are standing still and holding the line on their four-year offer for Bay. If Bay winds up in New York,
Anaheim, or Seattle, the Sox are going to have to deal with Scott Boras for Holliday. Or do nothing and remind us that the kids will be available to help in 2012.
It’s nice that Theo has a passion for player development, but asking fans to take a year off is outrageous. Henry is a billionaire and the Sox are making bundles of money. If you don’t believe that, call their partners at Ace Ticket and try to score a few tickets.
Red Sox fans love their team unconditionally. For eight seasons, Henry and Co. returned the love, rebuilding Fenway and overtaking/embarrassing the
Yankees.
Now the Yankees are back on top and it feels like the Sox – happy with their trendy, ever-filled ballpark – are giving up. The ballpark is done (thanks for
helping, Janet Marie Smith, now take a hike) and the championships have been won. Loyal fans can keep coming to Fenway and singing “Sweet Caroline’’.
Just don’t expect the Sox to compete with the Yankees this winter or next season.
Sorry. Not OK.”

I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the Red Sox or the Patriots and any trouble they experience brightens my day. Shaughnessy suggested that the
Pats were a little like the Jetsons when he wrote, “Boston sports lore is peppered with cartoon characters. The Red Sox had Bob “Beetle’’ Bailey taking strike three and Bill Buckner playing Charlie Brown with the ball skipping between his black high-tops. The Celtics have Tommy Heinsohn playing Fred Flintstone on Comcast SportsNet New England. The Patriots once featured Bill Parcells as Charlie the Tuna.
Now the Patriots have Adalius Thomas as George Jetson.
Along with three other players, Thomas was late for work at Gillette Wednesday morning. Bill Belichick/Mr. Spacely sent them home.
Yesterday, Thomas said he got stuck in traffic because of the snow.
“There’s one thing about Mother Nature – you can’t control that,’’ Thomas said. “You can’t run people over getting to work. There’s nothing to apologize about. I wasn’t trying to be late.
“You leave home, there are people there, cars sitting in the road, you’re sitting there, what are you gonna do? It’s not the Jetsons. I can’t jump up and fly.’’
Beautiful. Wonder if AD had his dog, Astro, riding shotgun.
I can imagine Astro taking a look at the snowy backup on Route 1 and saying, “Ruh-roh.’’
A talk-show caller suggested Bob Kraft build a ramp from Adalius’s house to the stadium – something to go with the bogus bridge the Krafts are trying to
wring out of the federal stimulus package.
But seriously, folks, the Carolina Panthers are here in a couple of days and there’s a bad moon rising over the House of Belichick.
Sure, the Patriots are still in great shape to make the playoffs. They have a one-game lead in the division and four tomato cans lined up for the final month (OK, technically Jacksonville could be a playoff team). They have yet to lose a home game, and if they played Denver here in the first round of the playoffs (which is the way it would go if the tournament started today), I’d put my money on the Belichickmen.
But who has a good feeling about the Local 11?? They have yet to win a legitimate road game and they’ve lost three of four for the first time since 2002. They blew a 17-point lead in Indianapolis and a 14-point lead in Miami. They’ve blown three fourth-quarter leads. The 6-6 Steelers have won two Super Bowls since the last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl.
Locker room grumbling traditionally goes hand-in-hand with losing, and the Patriots are no exception.
Several players did not appear to be taking the loss too hard in Miami Sunday. Three days later, four players were late for practice. Yesterday, Thomas made light of the matter, refused to apologize, and issued what appeared to be a challenge to his coach.
“Motivation is for kindergartners,’’ Thomas said, echoing what he said the last time he was punished (Thomas was inactive for the snow game against the
Titans). “I’m not a kindergartner. Sending somebody home, that’s like, ‘You’re expelled until you come back and make good grades.’ Get that [expletive] out of here. It’s ridiculous.’’
For the first time since Super Bowl XXXVI, a player is calling out Belichick. Thomas is a veteran and a union guy and he does not appreciate old-fashioned tough-love tactics from his coach.
It’s a departure from the Patriot Way, a mark of this whole season. Last year’s 11-5 was a far more noble campaign than this year’s 7-5. The Patriots of 2009 have showed no spine. They’ve done the easy things but none of the hard things. They’ve lost too much leadership and too much talent, and now Belichick is losing control of his locker room.
We don’t know what’s up with Randy Moss. He regularly checks out of games. He can’t seem to get open. When Tom Brady was picked off in the end zone
Sunday, Randy for the most part just stood back and let it all be – like Springsteen’s poets in “Jungleland.’’
Moss was one of the tardy guys who was sent home Wednesday. We don’t know how he feels about it. But we know how Thomas feels.
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who watches more film than Martin Scorsese, says he has observed Patriot players loafing on defense. Dollars to doughnuts he’s talking about Thomas.
Finally, there is the Brady problem. In a week of hysterical headlines, this might be our most underplayed story. During the Miami loss, QB 12 looked like a man in considerable pain. He seemed especially dazed after the loss and said there’s not enough fight in this team. There’s something wrong with his finger, ribs, and shoulder. He did not practice Wednesday or yesterday.
It’s all very un-Patriotic.
Adalius Thomas is George Jetson. Bill Belichick is Mr. Spacely. And the Patriots are Lost in Space.”

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