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A Little Bit Of Everything…

Tying up the rest of the loose ends:

*Boston Bruins.  So the NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching.  Some trades have already happened.  But things should head toward fast and furious in the coming days.

What will the Bruins do?

Last season, GM Don Sweeney went out and got Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, which admittedly was more than I thought he would do.  I mean, it wasn’t like getting Jon Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak, like he did one year.  You can argue the merits of handing Coyle a 6 year extension for huge bucks this season.  But the moves from last year worked out pretty well, I think we can say.

Unfortunately for Donnie Hockey, that hole on the right wing of David Krejci (and Jake DeBrusk) still exists.  Seems like it has existed for years.  And I guess it has…other than the Johansson stint.

In my opinion, that’s almost the only move to make.  The “Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is all set.  Wait, I still need to know where that moniker came from.  No one but people on the NHL Network seems to call them that.  I don’t ever remember hearing that nickname until the playoffs last spring.  Mostly out of Doc Emrick’s mouth.  Annoying…but whatever…

The gaggle of third and fourth liners the Bs have would probably suffice.  Coyle/Anders Bjork is a fine start to the third line.  Sean Kuraly/Par Lindholm/Chris Wagner/Joakim Nordstrom/Anyone is certainly acceptable as a fourth line.

Karson Kuhlman may very well be an NHL player.  But I am beginning to think that isn’t this year.  And I am totally done with the Danton Heinen Experiment.  On any line.

If you added some beef to the bottom six and a somewhat of a scoring RW to the second line, I think we are good.

Wait…defense anyone?  I am not sure they need it.  Well, no one will stop any kind of upgrade attempt of course.  But I think the 2nd line guy is more important.  The 9-10 guys in the mix now on D would seem to work.  Perhaps Jeremy Lauzon is the real deal.  Or perhaps he is being showcased for a trade.  He did just sign a cheap extension after all.  And you ain’t getting rid of that John Moore contract.

But if they stood pat on D, I actually wouldn’t mind.

Who to give up?  Anyone!  Maybe Sweens can soak someone into taking Heinen.  Or even better, “The Player Formerly Known As David Backes”.

Ummmmm…yeah, I know those ain’t happening.

But the time is now to make another run.  Patrice, Marchy, Z, Krejci, Tuuks, etc aren’t getting any younger.  As much as I would like to hang on to guys like Bjork, Kuhlman and Jack Studnicka and hope they develop, if the package is right, Donnie has to consider dealing those guys.

After all, guys like JFK, Peter Cehlarik, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Zboril, Anton Blidh, etc. have or will ever make it.  And those are “kids” that Sweeney had high hopes for.  Among many others.  So who is to say the likes of Kuhlman will either?

*Tom Brady.  Everyone sick of this talk yet?  Still a month away from free agency.  It will be an absolutely fascinating process once things start going down.  But I’m a little exhausted from it all at this point.

How much more can we talk about it?  Hasn’t every angle been covered thus far?

Is there really any NEW news?  Or just idiots like me speculating?  I say it’s the latter.

Wake me up on this one in a few weeks…

*Dustin Pedroia.  I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again:  PLEASE GO AWAY!!

The guy was a good player for a long time for the Boston Red Sox.  But he seems to be the only one that doesn’t realize that his career is over.  We keep hearing he has setback after setback.  And how he needs to “regroup and consider his options”.  We hear it seemingly hear it every day.  And will through Spring Training, most assuredly.

I appreciate his zeal to get back and play the game.  But that ship has sailed.

If it’s all about getting the 25 mil plus left on his deal, well that is all guaranteed, so he’s going to get it anyway.

Step aside Dustin.  It’s long past time.

*Kobe.  His death was certainly tragic.  As was his daughters’.  But so were the deaths of the other seven on board that helicopter.  I think the general public loses sight of that waaaaaaaaay too many times when it comes to celebrities.  But I am never going to win that fight, ssssssooooo…

As my man Colby recently posted, along with most assuredly several others, a little bit of a cloud still kind of hung over him as his career went on.  Yes, the rape accusations were 17 years ago.  But it’s funny how that all played out.  Charges dropped, case dismissed, civil suit being settled, Kobe buying his wife like a 4 million dollar ring while this was all going on…and everything else…how soon we all forget.

Listen.  There’s no argument about Kobe’s basketball ability and the fact he was one of the greatest of all time.  He also may have remade himself into a quality person as he got older.  Maybe he was a quality person all along but made at least that one mistake.  I don’t know.  I never knew the guy personally.

But that’s my problem with putting all these athletes and celebrities on a pedestal.  No one knows “how great a guy” that any of these people are.  Am I supposed to take other athletes’ or performers’ words for it?  Who knows about those people either?

Recognize his greatness in the sport.  But let’s not get carried away with some of the nonsense that has been spilling out about him “in tribute”.

That’s all I am saying.

*XFL.  There’s been a request to comment on this.  So here goes:

I have watched very little of the first two weeks.  But what I have seen is a lot of disorganization across the board.  Officials, coaches, players, etc.  And I haven’t exactly seen great football either.

That’s not much of an analysis.  And since I’ve only seen a fraction, it may be totally erroneous.

One thing is for sure though:  If teams are already firing coaches and team captains after the first week of games, that has to raise a red flag.  ONE GAME?  A little hard to believe.

Maybe Vince McMahon sent down the orders.  That’s a little scary to think about, no?

In any event, despite the Blowhards’ love for the game of football, we really haven’t been inspired to watch much of it.  That seems like a problem for the league if we aren’t the only ones.

I could probably sum up the lack of desire in two words:  “Matt McGloin”.

‘Nuff said.

*Super Bowl.  As we all know by now, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl and Jimmy Garoppolo peed his pants in the 4th quarter of the game.  Does that mean that Jimmy Football now sucks and that he isn’t considered a franchise quarterback anymore?  I don’t have the answer to that as of yet.

What I do know is that if your coach does not trust you to with plenty of time left to move down the field at the end of the first half, then that could be a problem.

So maybe the jury is still out on Jimmy G?

No need to comment further as the game was over two weeks ago and I suppose we are all on to the XFL.  And…I passed on watching the halftime show and most of the commercials.  So I don’t have any intelligent analysis there.

I really just needed a few words on the game to wrap up the picks portion of the season.  As poor as they were, we still have to recap, right?

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  10-7

Season (against the spread):  136-131

Season (straight up):  171-96

Foaming at the mouth…conclusion…

So…I said I was far from done with some random observations.  Here’s some more good stuff!

*I actually don’t mind that the Dallas Mavericks are kind of opposed to that silly little pregame dance that Russell Westbrook and Cameron Payne do.  In all honesty, I haven’t seen much of the actual dance.  But my thought is…don’t you actually have to be good to be doing stuff like this?  Westbrook is one of the better players in the league of course.  But who in the hell is Cameron Payne?  Russ, my friend, if you want to do some dancing with Kevin Durant, by all means please do so.  But do us a favor and keep the scrubs off the floor please.

Side note:  Is this the type of stuff Bryce Harper wants to bring to Major League Baseball?  I’m not old school like Goose Gossage where I don’t want to see any of this type of stuff.  And I am all for celebrating big moments.  I had no problem with the whole Jose Bautista bat flip “incident” last year.  But please do not advocate for these ridiculous dance routines on the baseball field Bryce.  We may have enough already with the handshakes.

*Note to John Farrell:  When you warm up Junichi Tazawa and/or Koji Uehara, please get them in the game.  Do not waste any more of their bullets in the bullpen.  You will already overuse them during the course of the year, so you may as well get their best on the mound as much as you can.  Especially when you are in a tie game and someone named William Cuevas is on the hill.  Thank you.

*Christian Vazquez’ first 6 games for the Red Sox this year has resulted in a .190 average thus far.  Ok, with Vasky (Vazqui?), it’s not about the hitting.  I get that.  But wouldn’t it help to get SOME hits?  He hit .240 as a rookie, helped a little at the end of the year by getting hot against most assuredly a gaggle of minor league callups.  But then he missed all of 2015.  Then was brought along slowly in 2016 Spring Training to the tune of getting 14 at-bats.  Then he got 13 more in Pawtucket.  Is that enough to be “back”?

Listen, I have no issue with Vazquez.  Although I think many catchers are overrated historically for things such as “calling a good game” and the like, the kid very clearly has a defensive presence.  If he can hit even that .240 consistently, he will have a long career.  But what I do feel like is that he was rushed up because the team panicked.

Blake Swihart struggled a little bit defensively the first week of the season.  Couldn’t corral a couple of foul popups where the batter eventually made the pitcher pay after getting the new life.  Among other defensive deficiencies.  All offseason and throughout the spring (and even previous to that), all we heard that he is untouchable because he was a potential All-Star catcher.  His defense still needed some work, but he could hit and he would be a real stud at the position.

Now, 8 games in, he all of a sudden can’t play defense and got shipped back to Pawtucket…to also get reps in left field.  LEFT FIELD?  Wow…seems a little rash, no?  So we hear now, “Well, he is a converted shortstop, so he gives us flexibility in the field.”  And “Well, both Swihart and Vazquez can’t be every day catchers, we are looking at some other options to keep Blake’s bat on the field.”  Etc.

If this was an option, why wasn’t Swihart playing winter ball in the outfield?  Or at least during Spring Training?  Seems like an overreaction.  Last year, when Joe Kelly was going 8-0 down the stretch and when Rick Porcello pitched better after his return from exile, Swihart seemed to catch them just fine.  Now he sucks?  How about the pitching just sucks?  That’s a better explanation.

Or else what is the explanation on how Vazquez caught David Price’s last brutal start with 8 runs allowed against a terrible lineup?  I’m just not sure what the plan is here…and that worries me.

*Note to Marcus Smart:  Please stop your flopping.  Embarrassing.  Pathetic.

*I know this was a couple of weeks ago, but was anyone surprised that Kobe Bryant’s last game featured him firing up 50 shots for his 60 points?  21 threes hoisted (6 made).  I was a little surprised that he didn’t take every shot actually.  Isn’t this vintage Kobe?  Yeah, I know he’s got his championships, but he also had his free rein.  And he was also kind of scumbag, but now we have to celebrate him?

I don’t know.  He is of course one of the NBA’s all-time greats for sure.  But I just had some inner conflict on how to handle his half-season farewell tour.  But that’s me.

*Note to John Farrell:  Please do not cater to Chris Young to make sure he gets enough at-bats.  Try to win the game.  Young is a backup player for a reason.  Let him get the practice in the cages, like other reserves.  And if you publicly say you are trying to keep him ready so he doesn’t sit on the bench for long stretches, then why doesn’t the same logic apply to other bench/back-end of roster guys like Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez or Tommy Layne?  Even Rusney Castillo before he was optioned out.  Or Pablo Sandoval before he got “hurt.”  Makes no sense, but not surprising.  Thank you.

*Why aren’t the Carolina Panthers getting skewered for letting high-priced cornerback Josh Norman walk?  You know, like the Patriots would…for being cheap and not wanting to pay guys.  Instead GM Dave Gettleman is being praised as making a smart decision, despite the fact that his current defensive backfield is underwhelming at best.  Sure, Bill Belichick may eventually be lauded for making the right decision if it works out.  But he would be getting blasted right now for not wanting to pay the best players what they are worth.  Not hearing any of that from anyone talking about the Panthers.

*Note to Johnny Manziel:  WAKE THE F UP!!!  I have no love for him as a player.  I certainly have no love for him as a person.  Hey, everyone does stupid stuff when they are young.  Well, I guess most of us don’t do it at the level he does.  And most of us don’t do it with a pro football career hanging by a thread.  Other than Aaron Hernandez, I guess.  Anyway, it’s pretty telling when your agent fires YOU.  And the whole thing kind of seems sad the way his life appears to be falling apart.  But I guess if he doesn’t care, why should I?

*So the Golden State Warriors have the best NBA regular season record of all time at 73-9.  Congratulations.  We will see if it was worth it.  I applaud that you went for it.  And it didn’t seem that you taxed your players in getting there at the end.  But now Steph Curry has a bum ankle?  (And now apparently a bum knee that happened since I initially wrote this paragraph earlier.)  Related?  Probably not.  But there is a reason (besides age) that Gregg Popovich rests his players down the stretch for the San Antonio Spurs year in and year out.  Plus…I still have nightmares of the New England Patriots fading down the stretch and not playing their best ball late in the 18-1 season of 2007.  Including blowing the Super Bowl against the better team that day, but not the better team overall.  Best of luck anyway.  If you win or lose I guess it really won’t affect me.

*Note to John Farrell:  When you are swapping 12th pitchers on your staff, just say that you needed a fresh arm.  Kind of humorous, and ridiculous, to go into detail that you needed Heath Hembree here while optioning down Noe Ramirez a few days back because you needed “a little more of a top to bottom breaking ball than Noe can give us and a different arm angle at this time” or some idiocy like that.  Enough please.  Thank you.

*Can’t ever count out those Chicago Blackhawks, eh?  Down 3-1 in games to the St. Louis Blues, they have rallied to tie it at 3-3.  Not to mention they came back from 3-1 deficits in both of the last 2 games.  Would not be shocked to see them win Game 7.  Chicago seems to be one of the ideal organizations in the NHL, of course winning 3 of the last 6 Cups.  But weren’t they in salary cap trouble at one point recently and climbed quickly out of it?  Shouldn’t the local team be able to do that too?

Of course it helps if you keep your best players.  If Patrick Kane was in Boston, they likely would have shipped him out-of-town long ago because he is apparently a scumbag off the ice (see Seguin, Tyler).  But we don’t need to go back down that road, do we?

 

Not quite ready for Prime Time…

So there were plenty of fans around the region last week that were convinced that the Boston Celtics were going to hand the Golden State Warriors their first loss last Friday.  And with Golden State near the end of a road trip, without Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, being bound to lose at some point…maybe the stars had aligned?  I didn’t think so…of course that is easy for me to say nearly a week later…but I didn’t!  I did think the Celts would be able to hang in there anyway.

Hang in there, they did.  And they had a shot to win the thing a couple of times.  More on that later.  Sure, they didn’t get any help from the officials.  But what did they expect?  This is the NBA!  All the superstars and the great teams are going to get the majority of the calls.  This is the way it has been since the beginning of time.  So though you may have heard many Celtic fans complain about the refs, you didn’t (and won’t) hear it from me.

Since then?  A lackluster win against a mediocre Charlotte Hornets team.  A stinker against the Cleveland Cavaliers, without Kyrie Irving, but still easily the cream of the crop…in the East anyway.  And what appeared to be an abysmal defensive effort in a loss to the also mediocre Detroit Pistons…where someone named “Kentavious Caldwell-Pope” scored a career-high 31 points.  Ok, I suppose Caldwell-Pope must actually be ok if he is averaging about 14 points per game…but still.

Time for the next move Danny.

Listen, I have been a fan of what Danny Ainge has done to get the Celtics back to where they rightfully should be…among the NBA’s elite.  A little pompous to say that they SHOULD be among the elite?  Maybe…but they do still own the most Championship Banners…so I’m sticking with it.

Ainge has gathered up a lot of serviceable players (if not stars) and an extensive array of draft picks.  He has the services of a young coach, Brad Stevens, who seems to be universally respected.  The current lot of players play hard for Stevens, and rarely utter a blip about inconsistent minutes or anything of the sort.  They are buying in right now.  The Celtics are a competitive team, that will battle on almost every night, no matter how far they get down.  They’ll play until the buzzer and play hard at that.  They probably have a shot at being the #2 seed in the East, when viewing the vast mediocrity of the rest of the conference outside of the Cavs.

But they also have a shot at being the #11 seed.  Seriously.

Right now, they seem to be stuck in a little bit of no-man’s land.  Therefore, the perfect time to take the next step.

What is the next step?  Damned if I know.  But Danny, Brad and all the other front office insiders should.  And with the way the rebuild has gone thus far, I trust that they do.

Going back to having a chance to win against the Warriors, the C’s just couldn’t close them out.  They don’t have a guy or two that can make THE shot at the end of the game.  Isaiah Thomas is your best player.  But SHOULD he be?  Nope.  He is a very nice piece.  But they need more.  Avery Bradley seems to be continually improving offensively, but is still inconsistent.  Other “shooters” the team has?  Erratic, at best.  They gave minutes to R.J. Hunter earlier in the year and since he got hurt James Young seems to be getting those.  But they are either not ready and/or are not the answer.  5-15 minutes per game for those two isn’t going to help in any event.

The big guys?  Jared Sullinger is rebounding well…but shooting like crap.  Including at the line…62% for a career 75% guy?  David Lee and Amir Johnson?  Useful, but…Tyler Zeller?  Nice burst last night, but otherwise 11th man timber.  I’m still not exactly sure what Jonas Jerebko does besides run around a lot and hit a couple of threes every once in a while.  Speaking of threes…I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…WAY TOO MANY!!  Sully has thrown up 52 of them…at a .288 clip.  At least he has gone from .269 to .283 to the current .288 the last few years.  But yeah, please stop Sully!  How is anyone letting Johnson shoot 26 of them so far (7-26, .269)?  Yeah, one a game shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is to me.  Why is a guy like him out beyond the 3 point arc at all?

Anyway, I’ve said a lot of the above more than a few times, I know.  So I should have some answers, I know that as well.  But I don’t.

What I do know is that you can’t possibly use all of the draft picks in stock.  Of course other teams know that as well.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t have value.

The question is, do those Brooklyn Nets picks have as much value as we all think (and have been told) they do?  Maybe.  I am aware that there are 50 plus games left.  But the Nets currently are tied with the Pelicans for the 3rd worst record in the league at 7-18 (Lakers are 4-21…side note…that always makes me smile…and the 76ers are an almost unbelievable 1-26…which after harkening back to the rivalry in the 80’s, also makes me smile).  There are a couple of other less than mediocre teams that could affect things, but I suppose the Nets pick would ideally be Top 5 anyway.

Is that a good pick?  Who the hell knows?  I admittedly do not know the impact players in the NCAA right now (and which will change once players start declaring for the draft and all).  But the scuttlebutt I am hearing is it is that Ben Simmons kid from LSU and not much else.  At least there isn’t much chatter about anyone from what I have seen.  If it’s the “Anthony Bennett” draft of 2013 (Caldwell-Pope at #8!!), what good are the picks?  Ok, so Victor Oladipo (#2), Ben McLemore (#7), C.J. McCollum (#10), Michael Carter-Williams (#11) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (the “Greek Freak”…I should’ve just said that) (#15) may very well work out long-term, to name a few.  And yes, I just looked those all up.  (The Celtics?  Kelly Olynyk at #13 and Colton Iverson (!) at #53).

Anyway, the Celtics have never had much luck with the ping-pong balls.  And if the talent coming out is questionable, maybe it’s time to start shopping the “coveted” Net picks?

NBA veterans?  You want DeMarcus Cousins?  I don’t.  Talent is undeniable.  But I am done with Rajon Rondo type players on my team.  You may say that there are boatloads of those in the NBA.  I would probably agree.  But I’d try to stay away from that ilk if I could.  Just takes one to bring down this thing Danny and Brad are building.  Dwight Howard?  With some of his recent comments, one may assume he is heading down that “bad attitude” road as well.  Kobe?  Haha…kidding.  At this point, it’s hard to know what NBAers are/will be available.  Things are pretty tight in the East and other than the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs, the same can be said in the West.

At least the Celtics are more entertaining to watch this year.  But let’s hope Danny can swing something relatively soon to keep the arrow pointing up…

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