Saturday guest links from Tiny (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Red Sox / MLB
My first time doing the links (filling in for the vacationing Len) and the Sox get rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader today starting at 6 p.m, with Bronson Arroyo pitching the first game and Pedro Martinez the second. I wonder if the rain out will impact how Terry Francona sets the rotation for the playoffs? Steve Buckley will likely work out the scenarios on the Sunday baseball show on WEEI.
I thought Red Sox links would be light today due to the rain out, but Pedro saved the day with a rant that is sure to keep the sports radio phone lines humming next week. The Globe’s Bob Hohler has the story, which has Pedro closing the door on contract negotiations with the Red Sox while accusing the management of playing “dirty” (by raising questions about the condition of his shoulder) and suggesting they are lying about how serious an effort they are making to sign him and their other high profile free agents Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, and Nomar Garciaparra. Pedro stopped short of playing the “Yankees card”, but did not close the door either.
I'll play for anybody, but I'm not going to say I'm going to try to play for the Yankees before I give Boston the opportunity to sign me," he said. "Boston has probably the same chances the Yankees will have."
Michael Silverman of the Herald also has the story, including quotes from Pedro’s agent Fernando Cuza saying nothing would get done contact wise between Pedro and the club this year. Nick Cafardo weighs in on the issue and says that the Pedro situation is not as dramatic as the Ty Law one because Law had an offer, just one he felt was beneath him, while Pedro does not even have an offer. Cafardo also wrote that Cuza “returns calls only to media outlets sympathetic to Martinez’s situation” and speculated that the Sox may let all of “the big four” free agents go and replace them with cheaper players (sound familiar?). The Herald’s Karen Guregian notes the odd timing – fresh off a six game win streak – for this latest salvo from the “Duke of Drama”.
Hohler’s notebook examines the Sox fast start, a visit from John Burkett, and has Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz on record as having no interest playing for the Dominican team in next year’s World Cup tournament, with Ortiz saying it sounded too “boring”. Silverman’s notebook has Francona saying he no intentions of keeping Arroyo in the rotation, and updates the injury status of Nomar, Nixon, Ramiro Mendoza, and Ellis Burks. The Providence Journal’s Joe McDonald’s notebook has Ortiz debunking a report out of the Dominican Republic that said he is close to signing a contract extension. Gordon Edes mailbag from yesterday hits on a variety of issues.
While the Sox were idle, the Yankees won their 4th straight and moved to 4 games behind the Sox in the standings. Imagine if they had Roger Clemens, who won his 5th straight start this season, and is sporting a 1.95 ERA. Insert “twilight of his career” joke here.
Buster Olney wrote a piece that will be appearing in ESPN The Magazine asking whether the Red Sox “moneyball” style (“never bunt, don’t take chances on the bases, sit back and let your hitters hack away and do the work regardless of the game situation, regardless of the identity of the opposing pitcher”) may hurt them given the injuries to Nomar and Trot Nixon , and the fact that they replaced Todd Walker with light hitting Pokey Reese. He uses a specific example from last Sunday’s game against the Yankees where the Sox were nursing a 2-0 lead in the 8th and had Johnny Damon on first and Mark Bellhorn (batting under .200 and 0-11 against lefties) up, but opted not to bunt. Bellhorn flew out. Olney’s argument is flawed on 2 levels. One, the Red Sox strategy is based on probability. You can’t pull out one single example of something not working and indict the whole strategy. As a reader noted, hitting on 18 occasionally wins, but that doesn’t make it a sound strategy. Two, even when analyzing this one case, Olney omits the fact that Bellhorn had a .450 OBP, therefore had a 1 in 2 shot of getting on anyway.
Celtics / NBA
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett revisits the well publicized disputes Doc Rivers had with his GM, John Gabriel, in Orlando. He also has Ainge getting a laugh at Rivers effort throwing out the ball at the Sox game Thursday, saying he “chicken-winged” it. Columnist Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel (subscription required) weighs in on the Rivers hire, and questions Doc’s “revisionist version” of the “profound personnel failures” during his tenure. Bianchi also says Doc never developed players, and “they got better only when leaving Orlando”. The Providence Journal had to post a correction because in Friday’s paper they referenced Ainge biting Tree Rollins finger. It’s bad enough that 95% of the country thinks Ainge bit Rollin’s, not the other way around…can we at least get it right in New England?
Former Celtic Antoine Walker’s new team was eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night. In an interview in the The Dallas Morning News (subscription required), Mark Cuban says he would do the Walker deal again “in a heartbeat”, and asks “How many games did Raef (LaFrentz) play?”. Page 2’s Bill Simmon’s disagrees:
Walker worked against them -- he didn't complement the other players or fill in any of the gaps they were missing. If anything, he took too many big shots away from Nowitzki and Nash, something that reared its head again in Game 5. They just didn't need him.
Walker did not live up to expectations in Dallas, and will almost certainly not see the “max” contract extension he hoped to get. Toine averaged 28 minutes, 9.8 points, and 10 rebounds in the 5 game series against the Kings, shooting 36% from the field (including 1 of 10 from three point land). He spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench due to his defensive liabilities. This must have been a hard pill to swallow for a player who averaged 43-45 minutes a game in 5 playoff series as a Celtic.
Jayson Williams was acquitted of manslaughter yesterday, but was convicted on four of the six lesser charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 13 years in prison.
Patriots / NFL
Patriots Rookie Mini Camp started Thursday and goes through the weekend. The Metrowest Daily News Mike Reiss writes that Benjamin Watson is already turning heads, and that, as expected, the coaching staff had Vince Wilfork over the nose. The Globe’s Michael Smith notes that PK Sam already learned a little lesson from Brad Seely. The Herald’s Michael Felger says it is probably unrealistic to expect the same production out of this year’s rookies that the Pats got from last year’s, but anything is possible. The Providence Journal’s Tom Curran writes that to secure a spot on this team, Bill Belichick said you must “play better than the competition” and cited David Givens, Tom Ashworth, and Tom Brady as examples. Kevin Mannix writes that Sam showed good hands, Watson had some drops, and Cedric Cobbs did not make anyone forget Kevin Faulk. Eric McHugh of the Patriot Ledger says that Wilfork has his role model already – Willie McGinest. The Herald’s Rich Thompson profiles New Bedford and Harvard’s own Dante Balestracci, trying to make the team as a linebacker. Felger’s notebook has Brady laying low. Smith’s notebook speculates about Anthony Pleasant joining the coaching staff. Curran’s notebook says that Belichick did not change anything about the routines of minicamp to prevent injuries. At last year’s minicamp, Bethel Johnson and Asante Samuel suffered injuries that limited them until the summer. A full transcript of Belichick’s press conference yesterday is available on Patriots.com. There are also transcripts of interviews with Watson and Wilfork.
In the 3rd part of a 3 part series on free agency, KCChiefs.com columnist Rufus Dawes cites the Patriots as a model of how to do business in the free agent market. Interesting in light of the angst expressed by some media/fans when Damien Woody, Ted Washington, and (to a lesser extent) Antowain Smith parted ways with the Pats.
In the face of what was reported by some media to amount to a playerAdvertisements