It’s a Tuesday in early December, but in New England it looks like New Year’s morning after you wake up with a hangover to find the party’s over. Tom E. Curran puts it best in describing this as a natural evolution that is going to get worse because, as he says, the Patriots don’t even suck yet. Loss by successive loss, Bill Reynolds sees the Foxborough dynasty ending and their emperor naked.
Ian R. Rapoport has Laurence Maroney and teammates trying to establish a new identity. Karen Guregian thinks something must be drastically wrong for Tom Brady to call out his teammates like he did. Bill Burt calls out Tom Brady, saying every one of the five losses this season has his signature on it. Robert Lee looks at lost opportunities on both sides of the ball.
Speaking of both sides, Jeff Howe still figures the Pats are a game up with four winnables remaining, and Lee has Maroney insisting the Pats are in the AFC East driver’s seat, which, of course, is pretty much where they sat in Denver, Indianapolis, and Miami. Boy, I’m feeling good. Mike Petraglia has Coach Bill Belichick proclaiming this to be a four-game season, but Rich Garven says that, if answers haven’t come after twelve games, don’t expect any in the last four. Chris Warner says the Pats seem to be gettng worse as they play into December.
Ron Borges’ Patriots Report Card is out and he’s going to need to replace a couple of keys on his board after this one. If you need a clue, try De- Fense. In his own report card, Steve DeOssie is not so high on the oFFense. Jeremy Gottlieb is much kinder, using ‘D’ to spell Defense and with a conspicuous absence of any F-bombs.
Garven’s Patriots Notes thinks CB Darius Butler would do well to forget his first start, while Petraglia has Belichick hoping CB Darius Butler has a short memory. As Michael Vega tells it, the defense is now being counseled by the inactive Shawn Springs. I guess it’s a matter of if you can, do; if you can’t, teach. Hey, did anybody have a cleaner uniform than Springs on Sunday? Christopher Price says Miami QB Chad Henne did.
And Rapoport closes out with Belichick realizing diminishing returns on fourth down conversions.
The winter meetings are in full swing in Indianapolis this week. Tom Caron reports on business without urgency, in stark contrast to last year’s meetings and not exactly what we Sox fans want to hear.
Daniel Barbarisi has the latest in the Jason Bay watch after the slugger turned down arbitration yesterday. Nick Cafardo has GM Theo Epstein being coy about the prognosis of signing Bay during the winter meetings. Daniel Rathman adds the California Angels to the Bay watch. Sean McAdam says the Angels may force Boston’s hand because Theo’s two viable alternatives aren’t so good. Alex Speier plays with statistics and sees life without Bay as not so bad now that Marco Scutaro is on the roster. Michael Silverman considers the options for a Bay-less Sox, who would be served up on a platter for Matt Holliday and agent Scott Boras.
In other rumors and speculation, Rob Bradford is reporting interest in former A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer. John Tomase states his case for Miguel Cabrera, who has a long history with Sox owner John Henry.
John Beattie has top farmhand Casey Kelly giving up the slash in his position. The P /SS will now be just a P after Theo invaded Florida last week. Barbarisi and Joe McDonald have the decision to become a full-time pitcher being all Kelly’s. However, as Amalie Benjamin tells us, this marks a complete reversal from Kelly’s stated desire during last season. Good thing Theo knows a thing or two about shortstops in helping Casey with “his” decision. Tomasi and Silverman have Kelly jumping on the pitching train and fast-tracking to the majors.
Finally, Peter Abraham has an improving rapport between the Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which can’t be good news for Dice-K personal trainer Takanori Maeda.
The C’s put their seven-game winning streak on the line at TD Garden against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Evans Clinchy calls it a pivotal game for the Eastern Conference and looks forward to the Rajon Rondo / Brandon Jennings matchup. Bob Ryan tells you why Jennings should be indebted to the human toothpaste that is Kevin Garnett.
Gerry Callahan says that, when it comes to self-destructive behavior, the Patriots are mere club pros compared to Tiger Woods.
Brendan Hall has Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick collecting pine after a bad game in Montreal.
Thanks as always for starting the morning with us. I’ll be back on Thursday but Morning Links will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted with any breaking news. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter.