Friday, July 06, 2007

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

"If I can't be my own
I'd feel better dead."

Maybe it's the heat, or maybe it's just that there really hasn't been too much to write about in the world of sports, but lately, I have a big dose of writer's block here. Seriously...what is going on? The Sox swept the D-Rays...oh wow. Yeah, there's tons of stuff there. I will say that Jacoby Ellsbury was fantastic and showed why he was a first-rounder. There's fast, and there's Jacoby Ellsbury fast. The Sox haven't had this kind of speed since Otis Nixon...except Otis was like 40, and still, he was the fastest guy in baseball. When I heard he got called up, I immediately ran (walked in a slightly quicker-than-normal pace) down to the bar to check it out. His first at-bat was very forgetful, but after that, Ellsbury made the most of his brief stay in Boston, with his most memorable moment being when he legged out a wild pitch and scored from second. How often does a guy go from second to home on a wild pitch? That was outstanding. He was sent down to Pawtucket before tonight's game, but he was able to make his mark in just three games. In addition to helping his stock out, Ellsbury seems to have lit a fire under Coco, because now, he actually seems like he's playing for his job, which he should have been doing all along. Clearly, the Sox were less than thrilled with Coco for the year and two months he played out in center for them. So playing with a bit of a spark, Coco's hit .330 since June 1st, bumping his average from .229 to .265. Still, even with the great defense he's played, and his hot hitting, I still think this team will be looking to dump Coco over the off-season and go after one of the trio of All-Star center fielders that will hit the market (Torri Hunter, Andruw Jones, Ichiro). Think about it: In terms of the long-run, when has defense mattered to this regime? Sure, in 2004, they went out and got the OC and Minky, but where are they now? Minky is doing...something for the Yankees, and Cabrera is currently the biggest All-Star snub in baseball. See, when the geeks get together to talk about potential guys to come in on this team, defense is a distant second in the equation. So despite Coco making great plays in center, it likely won't be enough for him to be wearing a Sox uniform next year. Anyway, that's about all there is to report from the Sox. They're still in first by a lot, but they are playing the Tigers this weekend in Detroit, which likely will not be a lot of fun.

Of course, I couldn't go too much longer without mentioning Denny Hamlin finally getting his first victory, and of all places, it happened in New England at Loudon in the Lenox Industrial Tools 500. What was even better was the way he won it. His crew actually helped him in a year where all they've been doing is making mistakes and costing him victories. His two-tire stop gave him the race lead, and was just enough to beat out Jeff Gordon in the final lap. Unfortunately, Gordon did finish second, meaning Denny did not gain too much ground in terms of the standings. Still, it was good to see him finally get over the hump after so many close calls this season. Going into Daytona and the Pepsi 400 this weekend, Denny sits 156 points behind Gordon, and has run the most laps of anyone on the circuit (surprisingly, Kevin Harvick is second...who knew?), and with his spot in "The Chase" secure, Hamlin and his crew will continue to gamble in an attempt to get to victory lane. I love when a driver just comes out and says "hey, we got all the points we need, now let's get some wins." That was such a breath of fresh air considering how concerned everyone is with the standings and racing conservatively to maintain their position. Anyway, it was a great feeling when that FedEx car crossed the line in New Hampshire on top...actually, it was more of a relief than anything. See, I just saw all those races where something happened down on pit road, or another driver did something to cost Denny the race, but last Sunday, he broke through, and no one can say that he doesn't have enough to take the checkered flag. Denny will be starting 2nd in the 400 due to a storm that washed out qualifying, so look for him to be very aggressive in his attempt to win back-to-back races...sophomore slump this!

In summer league games, I guess anything goes. The Celts played Portland tonight in Greg Oden's professional debut, and there was no way Oden was coming out of the know, even if he had ten fouls! Seriously, at any level of competition, how can you get ten fouls in one game? Sure, this was Oden's first time playing against guys in the NBA, but is it that much different than college to the point where he has to hack everyone that goes down the middle? Now I think Oden will have a good rookie year, but honestly, I don't remember a professional debut like that happening in a long time. In terms of what I saw from the C's, it was basically everything I expected. Gerald Green was the slasher and had some nice dunks, Glen Davis was good down low despite going up against Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, two guys that have about four inches on him. What I found interesting was Rajon Rondo's absolute unwillingness to shoot the ball. I realize that Rondo's goal is to distribute the ball, but that doesn't mean he can't take an occasional shot here and there. His numbers were not great last year (41.8% FG, 20.7% 3-PT FG), but at some point, someone had to start working with him in the off-season to improve his shot, meaning that it is unlikely he'll be shooting 20% from least I hope he won't. The hope here is that Rondo is able to sure up his all-around game, because now that he's the man in Boston, he's going to have to bring more to the table than just being able to pass the ball off. They have scorers, but Rondo needs to help out as well.

Again, not too much going on. Hopefully it stays that way for the Sox. It's nice to wake up in the morning and say "the Sox still have a double-digit lead...yawn." Take care everyone, and thanks again for reading. Peace.


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