Sunday, December 10, 2006

It Goes To Show You Never Can Tell

"'Cause once I get started I go to town..."

Observations from the weekend:

Vince Young could have won at Duke. He could have gotten them nine wins easy. Seriously though, all this guy does is win. His 39-yard run on Sunday further implemented that, and made me think about the draft in general. Yes, the Texans messed up to some degree that I think exists. Whatever degree it is, it's way out there. But it made me think about drafting quarterbacks from big schools, and some not-so-big schools, that were winners in the college ranks. I now think that their overall ability, in the long run, may not matter as much as a winning attitude. Now, if they've been on six or seven win teams, go to the Humanitarian Bowl, and are somewhat used to being underwhelmed, then they have a clear disadvantage from a guy who goes to a Texas, Ohio St., or even a smaller school like a Boise St. A guy like Troy Smith may not be a regular in the NFL, but the guy is just not used to losing, and therefore, has a decided advantage in the way he carries himself on the field. The top quarterbacks right now all went to "BCS" games in their careers. Brady, P. Manning, Brees, McNabb, all of them played in the spotlight in college. Anyway, Vince Young has guided the Texans to one game under .500, which is improbable considering Tennessee has lost three of its intrical components in the last couple of years that led them to within a yard of beating the Rams in the Super Bowl (McNair, George, Kearse).

The Patriots are complacent to the fact that they believe they can win with anyone. Eventually, you are going to be put too far behind the 8-ball for the aura of Belichick to matter. Look, Belichick as a good coach...just good. You cannot tell me he's the best coach in the league. There have been plenty of teams, who have had much less than the Pats had in their Super Bowl runs, that have made serious pushes toward a championship. A perfect example of this in the current NFL is Sean Payton in New Orleans. Ok, he has Reggie, but Payton has used his offensive knowledge to pass on a new found confidence in Drew Brees, who is now considered a top-5 QB, and launched the career of seventh-round pick Marques Colston in the absence of star-receiver Joe Horn. Also, the defense has played just well enough, using Packer castaway Mike McKenzie, who is a top 5 shut-down corner in the league, developing former first-rounder Will Smith into a feared pass rusher, and discovering unknown linebacker Scott Fujita, who has 77 tackles and two picks. The Saints have jetissoned themselves into the national spotlight and have an eye on the #1 seed in the NFC. The Pats' offense and defense have experienced far too many exits in the last few years, with it being completely evident in their shutout loss to Miami. Tom Brady was rushed all day long by Jason Taylor and Co. The O-Line was absolutely horrendous today. Corey Dillon, who had to shoulder the entire running game in absence of Laurence Maroney and his hurt back. Dillon has a very nice day, rushing 16 times for 79 yards (4.9 per), but Brady was being flustered all game long, and the Dolphins took advantage of three fumbles by the Patriots. In the end, it was just a very sloppily played game by New England, who came out flat-footed at the outset of the game, and never recovered at any point in the game. Luckily, the Bills were able to upset the Jets at the Meadowlands, so the Pats remain two games in front in the AFC East, a division they should win by default every year. However, with injuries to both Rodney Harrison an Eugene Wilson in the D-Backfield, and Junior Seau going down for the year, coupled with a possibly Vince Wilfork injury, the Pats are going to be in real big trouble. It also became apparent that the Pats need a star on offense besides Brady. They definitely need to explore the market next year and spend some of that money. Remember, they are nearly $20 million under the salary cap. Next week, they host the Texans at Gilette. Can we please get something going against Houston, who will be playing without Reggie Bush, who for whatever reason is still MIA from the Texans roster. They did draft him didn't they?

The Rookie of the Year race is as tight as it may have ever been. About three weeks ago, it was Marques Colston by a landslide. Now, four other names can be thrown into the race. Young, Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew, and the shocking emergence of Devin Hester on the Bears. Hester had two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the Bears' victory over the Rams on Monday Night Football. Hester now has the single season record for most returns for touchdowns in NFL history, and that alone gives him the credentials needed to contend for the title. Also, in the absence of Nathan Vasher, Hester has been thrown into playing starting CB on arguably the best D in the NFL. Although he got burned on the first Torry Holt TD, he still has been able to hold his own. This guy is the new Dante Hall, who has faded off the Earth after having that amazing season a couple of years ago, where he had three consecutive games with return TD's. This will be interesting to keep an eye on as the season unwinds in the next three weeks.

Now onto some baseball news. The Matsuzaka thing has taken on a life of its own. There have been amazing twists and turns in these negotiations. The highest posting rate for any player before Dice-K was Ichiro, but that was only for around $13 million. This is $51 million. Anyway, it's three in the morning, and still, no signs of anything happening has been reported. However, Theo and Larry are, as we speak, out in Cali meeting with Boras to try and iron out a deal. Everyone, and I mean everyone in Red Sox Nation absolutely hates Scott Boras. Always have, always will. Unfortunately, this is why he gets his clients. He is ruthless in negotiations, always getting the top dollar for his clients. For years, he has driven up the price on free agents. His landmark deal represented the apex in the history of professional sports as far as value of a total contract. Now, Boras is embarking on the largest contract for a player to have never played in the major leagues. His initial asking price was reported as being somewhere between $15-20 million a year. That's a big hunk of change. It also doesn't help the Sox that the free-agent pitchers this year have been pulling down some incredible contracts, topping off, for the moment, with Jason Schmidt getting $46 million over three years from the Dodgers. Boras believes Dice-K should be compensated at around those kind of figures, given that he is regarded as one of the top pitchers available. The Sox came out with an offer of around $8-9 million a year over four years. The reason the two sides are so far apart is the initial posting fee the Sox had to put up to negotiate with the Japanese star. The Sox feel that they should be given some kind of "discount" with Dice-K after paying over $50 million just to talk with him. Here's my feeling about the whole thing: The Sox are going to cave. They have to. They have made such a splash with this whole thing, they now need to seal the deal. I mean you know they're trying to be the Yankees now, and when has spending ever been an issue for them? Also, there is a very real possibility that the Yanks will have both Pettitte and Clemens coming to them from Houston next year, as they already signed Pettitte to a one-year deal worth $16 million (wait, it gets better) with a player option for 2008 (OMG, you have to like New York. Hello, spending isn't the answer, and they know it. Andy Pettitte getting 16 a year is an absolute joke. And then, they give him a player option for 16 mil more the next year? When are they gonna learn?). By the way, I know in an earlier post, I stated that the posting fee was non-refundable. Of course, now I know that it is. At the time, people in the MLB offices were reporting that the Sox could not claim that money back if a deal wasn't struck, which is obviously false.

The closer front is still wide open, with the latest rumor being the Sox have interest in Pirates closer Mike Williams. Why can't we get guys like him? Oh wait, we did four years ago, then traded him back to the Pirates for...Brandon Lyon? Wow. Also the Yankees have reportedly had discussions with the Bucs, because let's face it, their bullpen...ehhh, not too good. It's actually one of the very few battles we are winning right now. I think the Yankees may even be winning the character battle now.

The Sox have also been reported to have interest in Roger Clemens if a deal doesn't get done for Dice-K. I don't know how I feel about this. I'm feeling that this is the Boston media betraying Sox fans again by blowing something way out of porportion. Remember, Gordon Edes and Nick Cafardo, they are baseball writers. That's all they do. So when there are no games being played, they have to look for some kind of issue to continue to get a paycheck. So all this speculation about the Rocket wanting to come back to Boston, to me, is totally bogus. I think the way he left, absolutely ashamed and determined to give the Sox hell. He was a different pitcher then. This was a guy who did not have the workout regiment that he does now. He was simply awful in his last year, posting a 14-14 record. Then, the next year, he goes on to win the Cy Young in one of the most dominating pitching seasons ever put together. I mean I don't see it, but I've been wrong before.

The final note, and of course, I have to bring this up being a Celtics fan. It's official, AI's tenure in Philly is over, and the rumors have been swirling around about Boston's interest in Iverson's services. This can't be deemed as "surprising" considering their pursuit of him over the summer was pretty intense. Ultimately, this is what it will come down to: Gerald Green. It is all about how much stock the Celts put in the future of Gerald Green. Will he be a Joe Johnson or a Ron Mercer. Many first-round picks have come and gone, and for every Johnson and Chauncey Billups, there has been a Mercer and a Marcus Banks. So it's fair to say that there has been a large disparity in the effectiveness of the former lottery picks. Green, although he was not a lottery pick (18th overall in 2005), he certainly has the potential to be a great player in the league someday. But the question remains, when do you want to be good? Now or later? And if you choose later, do you really know what you're getting? This is why I think it's in the best interests of the Celts to aggressively pursue Iverson, offering a Gerald Green/Theo Ratliff/Delonte West package for AI. Basically, you would be shipping off three guys who come off the bench for a legitament top-10 player in the league. I think Green will be an ok player in the league, but I don't see him living up to all the hype. Another rumor has been a 4-for-1 trade, with West, Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and Al Jefferson for Iverson. I would not do this trade. I repeat, not. Here's why. Right now, the Celts have absolutely no size down low. If they packaged Big Al in a trade, who would play center? Perkins is out for another three weeks, and you would be including Ratliff in any potential deal. So I cannot say I would approve any deal with Jefferson in it. Don't get me wrong, I would love to have Iverson, and he would have an instant box-office impact, but to give up that much of the future of this team for him just seems to be a little too much to offer.

I will be updating this more frequently once the insanity dies down. Until the next pne, have a good week. Peace.


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