Monthly Archives: January 2015

Are we done…

…with Deflategate already?

At first, I thought the whole thing was ridiculous.  After the initial information came out, I then became a little angry.  Even though I said that there were a lot of unanswered questions, that the reports were coming from “anonymous sources” and weren’t officially confirmed and that I wanted to wait until the investigation was over and see what the results were, I just assumed the New England Patriots were guilty along with thousands of others.  Because they ALWAYS push the limits.

And maybe they were guilty.  But again, does it matter?  More importantly, did it warrant almost two weeks of non-stop coverage?  Before the most important game of the year?  Nope.

The reporting didn’t help.  First all the footballs were deflated by more than 2 lbs.  Then it was only 1.  Then it was D’Qwell Jackson of the Colts who was the one who started it after he intercepted Brady and thought the ball was light.  But no, it was actually John Harbaugh and the Ravens.  Nope again, it was some personnel guy that used to work for the Jets that now works for the NFL was the one who blew the whistle.

Former players spoke out…but those seemed to be only the ones that suffered losses to the Pats in the past…Mark Brunell and Jerome Bettis, to name a few.  They could tell the ball was underinflated in studio, but the refs couldn’t on the field.  OK.  People like Ray Lewis and Jim Irsay were talking about protecting the integrity of the game.  Those two morons should definitely be the ones speaking about integrity…of anything.  Right.

Then the scientists came out.  Some supported the Pats, some didn’t.  Bill Nye, the Science Guy, came out against the Pats.  Probably helped that he is a Seahawks fan.  Others disputed Bill Belichick’s description of the science behind it.  That’s not very hard to do, as last time I checked, Belichick is a football coach, not a scientist.  He likely was just explaining the science side as best he could in his press conference.  I don’t think he meant it to be gospel.

The NFL hasn’t draped themselves in glory here either.  Their statement said virtually nothing.  Then the Dean of Officials came out yesterday and said they did not log the readings from before the game against Indy.  They inexplicably had not interviewed Tom Brady before his press conference last week.  I haven’t seen the NFL say anything of substance since their statement either.  I’ve heard that a locker room guy ducked into a bathroom for 90 seconds with the footballs.  And I’ve heard people level charges that 12 footballs can be deflated easily in 90 seconds.  But what if he just had to use the bathroom?  Seems logical.

Seems to me the NFL should have been more transparent during this whole process.  Didn’t Roger Goodell claim he was going to be more transparent in one of his major press conferences this year…you know, the one that involved the whole Ray Rice and domestic violence cases in the NFL this year?  I get that investigations take time.  But I am not only talking transparency for the fans, but also the organizations involved.  The fact that Belichick, Brady and Robert Kraft had their press conferences to dispute this whole mess tells me that even they are out of the loop.

Some of the personal conversations I have had the past 2 weeks have been downright comical as well.  Mostly from non-Pats fans, so what did I expect?  One person said that if the officials passed through the footballs in the inspection before the game, doesn’t matter if they were deflated before that (as most QB’s like to doctor their footballs before the inspection, as I am sure most everyone has learned recently), they are good to go.  Kind of like Aaron Rodgers inflating them and having them pass inspection (if they actually do so…they probably do though, since we never hear about that).  I thought that was a fair point, something that probably a lot of teams/QB’s try to get away with, among other things.

A couple of responses to that?  Well, they still say that it’s cheating.  Cheating is kind a strong word here, but whatever.  It was the examples they used that absolutely slayed me:  “If I punch my wife in the face and the police don’t see it, then it doesn’t count right?”  “If I carry a kilo of cocaine through airport security and the detectors don’t catch it, then that is fine, right?”  I paraphrased a bit here, but are we actually comparing a football deflated by a pound to domestic violence and drug smuggling?  Wow.  I see what they were trying to say, but more relevant examples should have been in order there, I would say.

The fact that this is a lead story on national and local news is insane.  I listen to the local sports radio program here in Boston in the afternoon, the new one that is better than the old one.  And I generally find the show entertaining, despite not always agreeing with the hosts.  I had to actually stop listening earlier this week.  #1, they were coming down pretty hard on the Pats.  Based on the information available, maybe that was the way to go.  But it seemed as if they were overcompensating and going a tad overboard.  #2, they spent maybe 15 minutes combined over the first 6-7 days talking about anything other than Deflategate.  Too much…just too much, regardless if a lot of the callers wanted to talk about this subject.

Right now, this whole thing is laughable.  Maybe they did do it.  But you couldn’t overblow this story any more than it was.  On something that really doesn’t matter.  Unless you are that clown Indy writer who compared this to the 1919 Black Sox scandal.  Just another head-scratcher.  Let’s let the facts come out and make judgments from there.  I’m embarrassed I came out last week and jumped to some conclusions as well.  We will see what comes of it and then make proper conclusions.  Of course this being the NFL, that could mean July.

In the meantime, there is a game to play.

Oh, and didn’t Aaron Hernandez’ trial start this week too?  Something else a little more important, eh?

Deflategate…ugh…

…my first impression when this first arose?  STOP THE INSANITY!!  To steal a popular phrase from the 1990’s.  I was like…are you kidding me?!  The ball was lighter than it should be.  Ok, maybe it was easier to grip, but could the ball travel more erratically or something if there was less air than normal in it?  Or some other negative factor to balance the positive?  I mean, what’s the difference??  It’s a pound or two…big deal.

Now…it is I that is deflated…along with thousands of New England Patriot fans it would appear.  Controversy around the team…AGAIN??!!  Right before the Super Bowl?  Ugh…

It’s really unbelievable.  There is no other way to describe it.

I really want to wait until the investigation (or “investigation”?) is over and all the facts are in to form a final judgment on this situation.  But the dribs and drabs coming out from “anonymous sources” are certainly not promising.

Part of my first inclination was also that everyone hates the Patriots.  Belichick is an arse.  Brady is a pretty boy.  People are jealous of Brady’s life as a whole I guess.  Spygate still looms overhead, the Pats have not won a title since.  The Patriots, and Patriot fans, can be overwhelmingly arrogant.  The Pats have been extremely successful since the Kraft’s bought the team…they win over 10 games and the division every year, and are about to go to their 7th Super Bowl in just over 20 years of owning the team.  Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are close and everyone hates Goodell now, so by the transitive property…etc., etc., etc.  This was just another thing to pile on.  Just because.

There’s no doubt that all of the items in the above paragraph play some sort of role in this whole scandal.  But that overshadows the likelihood of what actually happened:

The Patriots are guilty…again.

The troubling thing is that the Pats did not need to do this to beat the Colts.  And it’s my opinion that every team/player/coach/manager/etc. does something to push the edge of the rules/limits of good sportsmanship to gain a competitive advantage, whether it be spying, deflating, freezing out the visiting locker rooms, turning off the AC at the old Boston Garden for a June basketball game, watering down the base paths against speedy teams, stealing notes out of the visiting locker room trash cans, PEDs, salary cap shenanigans, kneeing someone in the junk at the bottom of a pile, corking bats, scuffing a baseball (or adding Bullfrog, if you will)…the list is endless.  The stories today rehashing how Aaron Rodgers likes to overinflate the balls and “try and get away with it”; Eli Manning and what he does; Brad Johnson paying someone to doctor the balls before his Super Bowl, etc…these stories are just a miniscule sampling of the hijinks that occurs in sports.

I absolutely do not blame parties for looking for their particular edge.  But the simple fact is that the Pats need(ed) to be more careful than everyone else, since they got caught once and are under the microscope waaaaaaaaay more than other teams.  The fact that they are so brazen and figured they weren’t going to get caught, well…it’s just surprising.  Or is it?

Stories coming out today indicate that the Colts had brought this up to the league after their November game.  If they did, shouldn’t the Pats have been aware of the complaint?  And presumably the league told them to stop?  And then the Patriots clearly did not?  Similar to the whole Spygate thing…where every team videotaped as a rule, the league sent out a memo telling all teams to knock it off and the Patriots clearly didn’t?  That’s part of the problem, they didn’t stop after being told to.  Maybe other teams didn’t stop either.  But since teams look a little more closely at the Pats, they needed to be smarter.

I still have many unanswered questions, or clarifications of some of the information that has been thrown out there already.  Were the Colts balls definitely tested, and when?  Were the balls re-inflated at halftime, or were “backup” balls used?  If backup or re-inflated balls were used in the second half, how could it be 28-0 Pats in that half and only 17-7 in the first half with the supposedly advantageous balls?  If Mark Brunell, Jerome Bettis and Louis Riddick can have a whole ESPN segment being adamant that a deflated ball was better and then showed by example how they could press their fingers deep into a deflated ball, how come the officials on the field did not notice it?  I mean, they handled the ball before every play, how was that missed?  Was all the testing done like has been reported, with gauges and not “feel”?  Is the weather during the game a factor, as well as weighing indoors and testing outdoors after being in the cold and rain for a few hours?  And then some.

So we shall see.  I assume that the NFL will try and wrap this up quickly, so next week’s focus can be on the actual game at hand.  But can they really wrap this up that quickly and have definitive answers?  Not so sure.

Either way, it’s a loss for the team and the fans.  If the Patriots win, they cheated.  If they lose, it’s because they couldn’t cheat.  It’s unfortunate for the football world actually.  Because this Super Bowl actually could be a good one.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, regardless of the final results of the investigation, that Bill and the team will use this as more motivation for the Super Bowl.  The whole “no one believes in us” kind of garbage that underdogs usually like to rally around.

But the stain that never went away with Spygate is now infinitely bigger.  The legacy is forever sullied.  It’s never going away, even if somehow they are exonerated in this particular case in the end.  That’s unfortunate, to say the least.

ASSETS!!

I think Trader Danny has made a deal every day this week.  Seems like it anyway.  But you know what?  AWESOME!  Hope he keeps it up.

So most of these deals have not been blockbusters.  Apologies to the Jeff Green fans that think his deal was one.  But each deal seems to have some sort of positive outcome for the Celtics.

Look, we are not going to know for possibly several years how this “era” of trading and tanking will eventually turn out.  But based on how today’s NBA works and what the roster looked like before last year and then into this year, would there be a better way for Ainge to navigate the waters?  I personally think not.

The biggest move was obviously the Rajon Rondo trade about a month ago.  My distaste for all things Rondo is well documented, so admittedly there is a huge bias in this space.  I think it was a great trade, based entirely on the circumstances.  Many do not, based on ANY circumstances.  But, in reality, can we judge the trade accurately at this very point in time?  Probably not.

I’ve never really liked Rondo’s game from Day One.  He is a very good player, no doubt.  I’ve often been accused of saying he has sucked, but that is untrue.  Just never a fan.  I personally like my point guards to hit an open jumper and to hit free throws.  After all, if one is going to handle the ball all the time, especially at the end of games, shouldn’t these be prerequisites?  Why do you think that during the “Big Three” era, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce handled the ball at the end of games and not Rondo?  Yup.  He was a nice fit for those teams, since he was the 4th option or more.  Not a great fit for the current squad…whatever variation you see out there each passing week.

Rajon even admitted that he basically stopped playing defense in recent years.  Since he came into the league as a kind of defensive specialist…even dynamo at some points…this is kind of important to digest.  Especially since the Celts inexplicably made him a captain last year.  Not the type of leader I want for my team.  Moody.  Skipping a game to celebrate his birthday, when the team did not give him permission,  Bad attitude.  Etc.

For some reason, people did not remember (accept?) that he was in the last year of his contract.  He wanted a max deal, the team wasn’t giving it to him.  He was leaving and the time to deal him was any time this year (actually it was like 2-3 years ago, but again, just my opinion).  People wanted to wait until closer to the deadline.  For what?  Did they think the C’s would get more at that time?  Not likely.

Of course the return for Rondo was underwhelming.  Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, first round pick & second round pick.  Yuck.  AND they had to throw in the immortal Dwight Powell as a sweetener to get it done!!  But they somehow turned Wright into a first rounder (ok, likely 2 seconds, but still).  And they were able to shed Nelson’s salary next year (when he exercised his player option…since no one is giving him 3.2 mil this offseason) by swapping him for Nate Robinson’s expiring deal…and then bought out Robinson to save more dough.  Crowder may or may not be a bench rotation guy for the C’s, they seem to like him.  But with all the picks acquired, can people say this really was a BAD deal?  Who knows yet?  Hell, maybe Powell becomes a stud.  Some jackass writer in Dallas apparently thinks he could be a good player, apparently after a 29 minutes stint in ONE game.  Little early to get excited about a guy who has bounced around the league already after one game…but to each his own.

As for the Green deal and Green himself…well, Jeff’s tenure in Boston was certainly polarizing.  Actually, not really, because most people hated him.  Everyone was always frustrated with him because they thought he could have been so much more of a player than he was here, heart issues notwithstanding.  A lot of people held the Kendrick Perkins trade for him against him too.  Not me, I supported that trade, despite Perk’s obvious fit with the Big Three (similar to Rondo’s fit, for that matter).  Story for a different day.  Green always seemed to have the talent to be more in my eyes as well.  But if it hasn’t happened by now, it looks like it will never happen.

You may think the Green deal was somewhat underwhelming as well.  Maybe.  But again, the C’s got a first rounder.  And two guys that will turn into more as well.  Austin Rivers has been shipped out for 2 bags of poop (Shavlik Randolph and Chris Douglas-Roberts) and a 2nd rounder.  But it’s another pick.  Side note:  I wonder what the hell happened to Rivers?  His 2.5 years in the NBA have been average, at best.  Actually, not even average.  But he is still only 22 and was highly touted going into and coming out of college.  Not sure what’s up there.  They also got Tayshaun Prince for Green, but as soon as they buy him out, there’s more cash available.  All indications were that Green was going to opt out of his deal after this year and was not likely to come back either (if they even wanted that).  So I guess that’s about as good as you can do for that bum.

One of Danny’s biggest deals this year was well before this recent binge.  People don’t remember, since it happened in the summer.  He was able to turn a 2nd round pick into a 1st rounder, Tyler Zeller (a serviceable backup big man…or a “sell high” candidate?) and Marcus Thornton (yet another trade bound to happen over the next few weeks).

And there is about a month before the trade deadline still.  Along with completing buyouts with some of the recent new guys, and Thornton likely out, Brandon Bass seems to be a nice trade candidate as well.  I actually like Bass.  Think he’s a good bench guy, though how many of those can you have?  His contract is up and I would think he has some value around the league, so I imagine he’ll be gone soon.  Maybe Ainge can package some of the 2nd rounders with Gerald Wallace’s corpse and get someone to take that contract?  Wishful thinking probably, but I bet he is trying!

The bottom line is, we are a looooooooong way from finding out how this will all come together in the coming years.  The Celtics have a multitude of picks.  They have many trade exceptions.  They will have plenty of cap space and money to spend.  They have some young talent on the roster currently, most that have shown promise to at least contribute somehow in the future.  Not to mention that, although they are inexplicably only 2 games out of a playoff spot as I write this, they still do have the 6th worst record in the league.  Could be another high draft pick upcoming from their own failings on the court.

It’s obviously what Danny does with what is outlined above that will tell the story.  Can’t keep all the picks.  He will probably offer max deals to some players…of course we know NBA free agents don’t love to come to Boston…but maybe with overpayments, money will talk?  Lot of moving parts that won’t settle for years possibly.

We shall see.  We all often joke about that Ainge is accumulating “assets”.  He has “assets” to work with.  And all that.  Just not any real players coming in that can help, it seems.  Right now anyway.  But answer me this please:  Was there a better route to take?

 

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