Postgame Spread
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Monday, November 26, 2007

The State Of Boston    

Things are good!

Red Sox
They signed up their only two potential offseason losses, and did so cheaply. It's a testament to the Red Sox organization that a couple of smart guys like Curt Schilling and Mike Lowell, both of whom had enormous market value, took less to stay. After watching the Dan Duquette era, this is maybe the best part of the revival: that Boston actually is a city where ballplayers will sign for less, and that the previous statement isn't just something the fans tell themselves to justify their cruel treatment of the local losers. Anyway, it's positive news w/o any qualification on it.

I'm still curious what they intend to do with Coco Crisp, and whether they intend to toss their hat into the Johan Santana derby. Theo Epstein is usually active at the winter meetings, so I'd expect one of those two things to become a major hot stove story.

They had their C-game last night (especially on defense... wowee!) and still won pretty effortlessly. I found that quite comforting, actually. They popped out a turd and won anyway. Good on them.

More urgent/important is the purported "discovery" by Andy Reid that the team's weakness is its secondary and short coverage by the linebackers. DUH! Once you get past Asante Samuel, it's a hell-hole in there. Even Rodney Harrison has been awfully silent. If there's no pass rush, then of course they will be exposed. While the whole "blueprint" meme is pretty on-target... the notion that Andy Reid "discovered" this strategy is just stupid. Yes, the way to beat the Patriots is to stop their four unstoppable defensive linemen (including the soon-to-be-very-rich-elsewhere Jarvis Green) and not throw towards Samuel. Also, I just discovered that the "blueprint" for preventing typos is to use a spell-checker before hitting Send. COMPLIMENT ME JOHN MADDEN FOR BEING SMART AND FAT

The other troubling thing was to see Randy Moss shut down so effectively. Wes Welker stepped up, but seeing Moss get shut down in the cold brings a lot of late-season Vikings collapses to mind. Something to stow away for later.

They are playing like garbage. Really. Paul Pierce in particular is leaning back on his old tricks... take the ball, ram it past double-team, hope they don't strip me. Low-percentage shots. What made me fall back in love with the team was their ball movement, not Pierce's scoring aggregates. When the C's go on their scoring runs, it's because they're finding open shooters; when they drop behind, it's because they get lazy with their shot selection. Between Ray, KG and PP, they WILL move the ball if they choose to. It's that simple.

Anyway, the other message is that America had better not sleep on Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, because they're both making the most of their newfound job security. This season is shaping up to be Rondo's coming-out party; he makes plays, and he's hitting open 18-footers with the greatest of ease. Perkins has brick fingers on offense, but his always-tight defense is all that will really matter.

In conclusion, last Saturday's fuck-you buzzer-beater was absolutely beautiful, for so many reasons. The bush-league Bobcats talked shit all through the timeout leading up to the inbounds pass. I sat there, watching Jeff MacInnis shoot his mouth off to fucking Kevin Garnett, and thought "they're gonna steal the ball, and they're gonna win." And sure enough, Eddie House stole the ball, and forgotten man Ray Allen sent the Bobcats to bed. What a moment.

Amazingly, even the Bruins are growing on me. They aren't going anywhere, but I have to tip my cap to favorite whipping-boys Tim Thomas and Dennis Wideman.

Thomas is a hockey verison of David Eckstein; too short, nobody wanted him, what a competitor, blah blah blah. So I hate him, and I truly detest when his fans give him credit for winning and look the other way when his mediocrity returns to the surface. But this year, Thomas actually is the reason they're winning. He has to save 30-35 shots a night for the team to win (because their blue line situation is so atrocious)... and he's actually doing it. So I give credit. It may not last, but I'll take it while we have it.

Wideman, meanwhile, is already visibly better than he was in October. He's starting to mix net-positive plays in with his trademark bonehead turnovers. More credit given there for starting to get his act together. Still not seeing much value (he's not even remotely physical as a defender) but any improvement is welcome.

The last thing I want to say is: Marc Savard. Can you Bruin bastards PLEASE play up to this guy's level? Or at least hit the empty nets Savard gives you twice a night? This guy's got worth-the-price-of-admission passing skills, and they're lost on offensive doofuses like P.J. Axelsson and Old Man Murray. Pearls before swine.

Sorry, boys... I'm pretty much done with you. The "choker" business may be overblown, but that collapse was just awful. And you could see it coming. It really was a choke. Ugh.

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