The Red Sox go for the three game sweep of the Angels this afternoon at Fenway. The place will be rockin’. Stephen Harris says the Sox don’t want to let the Angels back up off the mat. Kevin McNamara notes that things a little different this postseason that last year. Paul Doyle also notes that contrast, and Alex Speier has Johnny Damon dreaming of an 11-0 postseason run. Bob Hohler looks at Bronson Arroyo, cast in the role of closing out the Angels for the series.
If you passed a newsstand and saw the cover of the Herald today, you know what the theme of Gerry Callahan’s (subscription only) column is. Go Yanks. While it might be natural to cringe at such a statement, Callahan is subscribing to the (ridiculous) theory that a World Series win without beating the Yankees wouldn’t be as good. It would lack the “same sense of accomplishment”. I don’t agree. The only downside I see is Yankee fans trying to make that point in the future…”Well you never beat us….” For that reason alone it might be worth it to beat the Yankees. Bill Simmons touched on this on ESPN.com yesterday. He says at this point in the game, Sox fans just want to win one, we’re not caught up in “degree of difficulty” just yet. Ron Chimelis also agrees that we should all just be looking at the big picture. Ed Berliner agrees…the ring is the thing. Dan Shaughnessy also wants to bring on the Yankees. He’s feeling good about things, as he says:
I say bring on the Yankees. This is the best Red Sox team in a generation. Except for the abject sloth and total disregard for rules and authority, they are almost Patriot-like. They are built to win. They will not choke.
Abject sloth? Whatever. Still, how quickly things change, not even two months ago, on August 10th, Shaughnessy was saying this about the “best Red Sox team in a generation”:
Hang down your heads, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Theo Epstein. You too, Terry Francona. And all you guys in uniform - you just keep telling yourselves that any day now you'll take off on a hot streak. You are 45-44 since May 1 and you have a chance to be remembered as the biggest pack of frauds ever to don the Sox uniform.
Tony Massarotti says that Pedro sent a message to all with his performance on Wednesday night. Paul Doyle says that Pedro gave himself a boost with his outing. John Tomase also has an article on Pedro removing any doubts about what he has left. Jackie MacMullan looks at Trot Nixon, who very badly wants to have a huge postseason role for the Sox. David Borges adds that Nixon wants to make amends for his frustrating, injury-filled season. Sean McAdam writes about the Red Sox bullpen thus far once again coming up big in the postseason. Alex Speier and Garry Brown have more on this same topic. Tomase also looks at the performance of the Sox bullpen. Nick Cafardo looks at Johnny Damon’s migraines.
Howard Bryant (subscription only) says that the Sox are certainly in a good position right now, the best, in fact, of any team in the postseason. He calls the team “a superpower, stacked financially, with overwhelming talent.” Kevin Paul Dupont looks at now or never for the Angels. Steven Krasner looks at the reasons for the Angels downfall to this point. Rich Thompson writes about the confidence of the Red Sox as they return to Fenway. John Tomase looks at the emergence of Manny Ramirez as a playoff leader for the Red Sox. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that last night was a night of peace for Red Sox fans. Life is good right now, but he reminds us that it can come crashing down at anypoint for the Red Sox and the fans. As he says:
Again, it all means nothing. As Michael Corleone once said, "If history has taught us anything . . . it's that you can kill anyone,'' and that surely applies to playoff hopes.
Thanks, Buck. Michael Gee (subscription only) says that Terry Francona hasn’t had to do much managing at all in this series, as he’s been in the lead, a position of strength pretty much throughout. Joe McDonald looks at how Bronson Arroyo finds himself here, starting game three of the playoffs. Michael O’Connor and Garry Brown each also look at Arroyo. O’Connor also profiles the Angels starter today, Kelvim Escobar. Bill Reynolds writes that everything is going according to plan for Theo Epstein’s ballclub. Lenny Megliola and Jon Couture look at the buzz and booming business around Fenway. Nick Taveres looks at the lie that is “the curse”.
Cafardo’s notebook looks at the determination on both sides going into this afternoon. Harris’ notebook looks at a stiff neck for Johnny Damon. The ProJo notebook looks at a low key, but confident trip back to Boston. Doyle’s notebook has more on Damon.
Michael Felger says the Patriot defense is working to ensure that there is not a repeat of the 2002 season. Alan Greenberg wonders if the Dolphins have any self-respect left. Tom E Curran says the only trouble Corey Dillon has caused this year has been for opposing defenses. Michael Vega has a profile of Stephen Neal. Hasn’t this story been written before? Michael Parente looks at Ted Johnson, a guy of which Bill Belichick says “I would like to have more guys like that”. Hector Longo thinks North Andover native Rob Konrad could be a key for the Dolphins. Tom King says that the matchup Sunday almost seems like a letdown.
Ian M Clark and Chris Kennedy look at the Patriots need for improvement on special teams. A story on Pro Football Talk says that Matt Light is furious with Ben Dogra for talking to Nick Cafardo about his new contract. As I said on Wednesday, Dogra is a noted publicity hound, and Light wants nothing to do with him. The Herald is going to be running excerpts from Michael Felger’s book “Tales from the Patriots sidelines” and today they print the legend of “The man in the trench coat” who ran across the field during the final play of the Patriots first ever home sellout. On NESN last night, Ron Borges continued his cry for attention by calling anyone an “idiot” who would take Tom Brady over Payton Manning – even though he was forced to admit that if he wanted to actually win a big game, he would take Brady. The incident is chronicled on Cold Hard Football Facts.
Vega’s notebook says Bill Belichick just doesn’t see what the Bills are all worked up about regarding supposed cheap hits from Patriots rookie Vince Wilfork. Felger’s notebook hints that Belichick might be a little frustrated at how fragile some of his wide receivers are. Curran’s notebook looks at the Dolphin offense.
Shira Springer looks at the progress of Raef LaFrentz. The Celtics and their fans had better hope the big man is able to contribute something, otherwise he’s just a 5 year, 55 Million dollar albatross on their salary cap. The early results are encouraging and the knee feels “better than expected” according the LaFrentz. Christopher Price also reports on LaFrentz. Steve Bulpett reports that Marcus Banks is making progress, in fact the second year point guard reports that he’s learned more in three days then he probably did all of last year. He credits the new coaching staff as well as Gary Payton. You’d think the Vermont papers would have something about the Celtics here and there, seeing as how they’re training up there. The only piece that I found was from Tom Haley who writes about the Celtics enjoying being able to get away from it all up in Vermont. Bulpett’s notebook looks at the progress of Al Jefferson and the other Celtics rookies.
John Howell has Fox Sports Chairman David Hill saying that the Red Sox, not the Yankees are the number one in the ratings…so why do the Yankees get all the prime time games? Good question. Bill Griffith looks at the late night Red Sox ratings and some of the highlights of the coverage. Jim Baker reports on ESPN Radio coming to Nashua NH, (900 AM) and also looks at the Red Sox coverage. David Scott took another trip to Philly, where they’re watching Terry Francona pretty carefully.
ESPN has Red Sox/Angels at 4:00 and Yankees/Twins at 8:00.