"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Monday, October 27, 2008

Movin' on up, on the East side...

(Photo from Boston.com)

And just like that, they're tied for first.

Maybe it's been the seeming up and down nature of the season. Maybe it's been the fact that Cassel's performance, despite the two INTs, qualifies as "good." Maybe it's that one week Randy Moss catches all the passes and the next week, he either drops them or disappears entirely. Maybe I'm making all of that up. But even with the AFC East as wide open as it is this season, I still, somehow don't think I expected to see the Patriots tied for first with Buffalo halfway through.

Because: Tom Brady.

Tom Brady's knee and the inner workings thereof have become possibly the biggest elephant in the room in New England and I still can't really talk about it without curling into the fetal position and being spoonfed applesauce. I miss him like nobody's business and want him back yesterday and might've already started researching ways to attach a robot leg from the Iron Giant to our QB, but failing that, I'm still trying my hardest to throw all my support behind Cassel. After all, it takes a village to raise a quarterback. And a good, ole' inferiority complex never hurt anyone. The Matt Cassel Confidence Camp Express continues.

That said, perhaps more than half the credit for yesterday's victory goes to Kevin Faulk. No spring chicken, surely, Faulk, the Pats' normal third down back, has been forced (or, I'm sure, asked nicely), to serve as the running back on all downs. Because, you know, you might've heard but the Pats players are dropping like flies.

Which is why I'd humbly request that they all be packed in bubble wrap and put away after use, please.

I really am being quite Zen about this season, though. Well, Zen for me. I haven't thrown anything yet and I haven't been asked to leave any local drinking establishments for arguing with anyone about Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tom Brady. (There have been a few close calls though, I'm not gonna lie). But the way I figure it, the worst has already happened. Might as well just watch some football.

The Patriots, it seems, are operating under a similar mindset as the announcers over the course of the past two weeks have been talking about how they're the "fun" team now. Frankly, I'm not sure Belichick can crack a smile without a pulley system but if the team's having fun, I'm all for it. Also: winning. Winning = fun.

Here's hoping my Zen attitude carries over through next Sunday night when the Pats take on the Colts which they are doing two days before my birthday because the Pats have to play the Colts on my birthday weekend for the billionth year in a row because the NFL hates me or something. I am calm. I am collected. I am rational.

We'll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dear Diary...

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

In light of last night's performance, I thought I'd make you aware that the newest InSite piece by Amy and yours truly is out.

Behold: Matt Cassel's Diary.

An excerpt:

9/30/08 – Um well, people like to make a lot about how I haven’t started a game since high school. Know what else I haven’t done since high school? Gotten an atomic wedgie.

Pick it up at your local drinking establishment.

Any Given Sun-, er, Monday

(Photo from Boston.com)

I swear to you, nothing that happens during the course of this NFL season would surprise me. Kerry Collins could be the Second Coming in Tennessee. Vince Wilfork could announce plans to retire and take over for Al Roker. An x-ray could determine conclusively that Ben Roethlisberger's brain is made of cream cheese. Belichick could rip off his hoodie to reveal mechanical robot parts. The Patriots can lose by 20 to San Diego one week and drop 41 on Denver the next. Seriously, nothing would surprise me. 

What does surprise me, I guess, is that this Patriots team is still capable of games like last night. Apparently there is some truth to the rumor that Denver is the most fradulent 4-2 (now 4-3) team in the NFL but that gives little credit to the Pats and the way they handled things. 

But it was that kind of game. In fact, due to the fact that he appeared to be constantly ass backwards on the ground, it was the third quarter before I realized that Matt Cassel was having a nice little game for himself with a pretty stellar passer rating. Right around the time Tony Kornheiser said "Tom who?" And I yelled, "You shut your mouth, Anthony!" did I notice that Cassel was turning in an efficient and mistake-free (thanks to a Belichick challenge) performance. I don't know why. Maybe after the past few up and down weeks, I'm conditioned to think the worst. But I owe an apology to Matthew. You done well, sir. 

Amy: I am so proud of Little Matthew.

Me: Did you see how he just nonchalantly threw that Gatorade cup on the ground like he's QB1 and y'all can suck it? (He probably picked it up and placed it in a proper trash receptacle when they cut to another camera).

Amy: And apologized. 

Of course, wins seemingly never come without losses around here as it was announced that Laurence Maroney was put on Injured Reserve, thus ending his season and Rodney Harrison went down with an apparent knee injury and had to be carted off the field. I've seen Rodney in that position before. It didn't end well that time. Let's hope this is minor though, you know, expecting the worst. 

Additionally, am I the only person previously unaware of the existence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis? I swear I have never heard of that gentlemen before last night. 

Me: Wait, there is a Jarvis Green and a BenJarvus Green-Ellis?

Amy: Maybe he got married in the offseason?

Me: I'm checking the official roster to get to the bottom of these shenanigans. Okay, apparently Jarvis Green is a defensive lineman, which we knew, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a running back.

Amy: I'm glad THAT'S the reason they're not the same person.

Me: Welcome, young BenJarvus!

Amy: That is a name and a half.

Indeed it is. And now he has a touchdown to his name. Like I said, nothing surprises me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

World's most bipolar football team

Loves it. More, please.

Must sleep. More tomorrow. But I look forward to the postgame interview where, as Amy says, Randy Moss holds forth in a Tek-like fashion about how Matt Cassel was a boy, but now he's a man.

And also perhaps the offensive line would like to explain how they managed to don uniforms and cleats and such while made of marzipan.

Also, Tedy Bruschi comforting a prone Rodney Harrison who was in need of the dreaded cart is killing me. NO MORE INJURIES, PLEASE.

However...winning. Yay. What a thing.

Happens to the best of us

(Photo from Boston.com)

What can you say? Sometimes Fate plays for the other side.

I'm of the mind that Red Sox fans have nothing to complain about. We can be disappointed, sure, as you are when your team loses in any fashion. More so in a playoff race after coming back in an epic fashion (again). But Tampa Bay - despite how weird it still seems - has been this good all year. We don't get to claim bullshit umpiring, flukey play, clear bias or karmic intervention. The Rays flat out won. It is the way of things. I'm not, you know, happy about it. But nor am I breaking things. (People are going to start to claim that the Super Bowl that didn't happen has left me dead inside and unable to feel human emotions anymore). But I think it's actually just a matter of perspective.

Sure, I've rolled my eyes at the sad Rays fans in the Trop with their hangdog faces and hand wringing over the past few games because, dudes, you're baseball infants. You have to earn that look. But that said, that look no longer belongs to us, as Boston fans. We gave that up last year. We don't get to claim it anymore.

What we should do, I think, is congratulate Joe Maddon and his misfit band of pre-teen baseball Wonder Kids for taking the defending champs this far. Because the way I figure it, the Rays won the division by two games which, if I have my baseball math correct, translates into a seven game series and a two-run win in Game Seven. So they're just following the script. Can't fault them for that. (Doesn't mean I have to like Matt Garza though). And it doesn't mean we have to root particularly hard for them - or at all - in the World Series. Doesn't even mean we have to watch it. But we do have to be the bigger person in this instance and congratulate the team on outplaying us. This was no 83-win St. Louis Cardinals 2006 team. The Rays won it fair and square. Also, we should congratulate my grandmother because she's happy and she's a great lady. The best. And she really likes that Carl Crawford.

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, who wants to be petty and make fun of the fact that the Rays are eleven and can't drink the celebratory champagne so will have to resort to getting stupid on the sparkling apple juice before hearing a bedtime story from Grandpa Joe?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Once more for all the marbles

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Not a whole lot to say that hasn't already been written over the course of the past four seasons. Backs against the wall, shoulder pinned and pulling a Lazarus all over again. Almost seems as if Terry Francona's Red Sox have patented this behavior.

So, you know, these boys have been here before. They're old hats at this. They know the drill.

Let's hope they can pull the Houdini act one more time.

See you on the other side.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Drama Kings

(Photo from Boston.com)

Are you freakin' kidding me? Seriously? These Red Sox are bigger drama queens than any 13-year-old girl I've ever met. Next they'll be issuing folded notes to the fans demanding "Do you like me? Circle yes or no."

They are just not comfortable unless they're playing Houdini and initiating the Great Escape are they? Insanity.

One wonders if this is when the Rays fall apart, after blowing a 7-run lead. Or perhaps it's just a hiccup, an aberration on the way to their eventual ALCS win. But as dramatic as it is, it's not like we've never seen this before. This is old hat for the Red Sox. Or don't you remember last year?

The way I figure it, the Sox pretty much had no business getting past the Angels (now there's a team with a self-fulfilling prophecy) so any games beyond those were gravy. And any games that end the way last night's did are just especially delicious gravy. Like the homemade Thanksgiving kind your grandmother whips up. (Speaking of my grandmother...) So really, we should just be excited we get at least one more game. And to those fans who are booing? Knock it off, you ingrates. This team doesn't owe you anything. Stop being assholes and enjoy watching more baseball than 28 other teams are getting. Suck it up.

And go Sox!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


That, uh, that is not quite what I meant.

Stop it.

So help me, I will get this entire region to care about football, er hockey. Don't test me, I'll do it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Attention must be paid

(Photo from Boston.com)

Okay so, sometimes you just need to, you know, not be where you are for a few days. So you up and head to New York over Columbus Day weekend. And when you come back, the Sox are in a 2-1 hole in the ALCS and the Patriots went all Pop Warner and forgot how to play professional football. So evidently I was wrong when I assumed that they'd be fine without me and they'd remember how to play like big boys and take care of the matter at hand.

So FINE. I am back! I am paying attention. Now, can we please stop sucking? Please? I promise I won't go anywhere for a while. My god, gentlemen, get it together.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Right back where we started from

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Oh I am going to get SO MUCH shit from my grandmother.

But for tonight, we're just going to celebrate our second straight ALCS berth and sing a few bars of "O, Canada" in honor of Jason Bay, who, were they to award an ALDS MVP, would surely be in contention along with Jon Lester.

Not gonna lie. Did not expect this. But I will take it. Turns out wins with house money are just as sweet.

And the quote of the evening thus far goes to Tom Caron in re: the irrepressible Jonathan Papelbon. "That guy would celebrate a win in April like this if they'd put the plastic on the lockers."

Let's play another one

(Photo from Boston.com)

Sure, okay, great. We'll play another one. I mean, at this point, I really should be thinking that any extra baseball is gravy since I absolutely did not expect the Sox to take both games in Los Angeles. Or Anaheim. Or whatever. So I should just be happy with everything. But now they've gone and got me caring. Got me invested. Given me Playoff Stomach. You know what that feels like. Playoff Stomach is when you're in extras and the bases are loaded and you develop a sudden blinding, white hatred for Francisco Rodriguez and his ridiculous follow-through and you are willing Jed Lowrie to get a hit, just a little hit, and you might've yelled at the TV "Your legend begins now, Jedders!" and you feel a little nauseous and your fingers start tingling and you're so full of adrenaline than when Lowrie doesn't get the hit and strands the runners, you know you won't go to bed despite the fact that you've been threatening to do so for an hour because don't these people understand that you have to work tomorrow?

That's Playoff Stomach. And it's back.

Oh, also, can someone please follow Mike Lowell around with a La-Z-Boy? He just looks like he's in some severe pain and while I admire his whole teeth-gritting, grinding it out mentality and the fact that he's playing at all, it makes me wince every time he dives for a ball and has to haul himself off the basepath or when he swings and misses. Take care, Mikey, Boston needs you.

So...see you tonight?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Victory cupcakes for everyone!

(Photo from Boston.com)

Matt Cassel, I am delighted to tell you, is maturing in front of our very eyes. Or so today's announcers told us, um, approximately four-thousand, eight-hundred and twenty-four times. I have no choice but to take them at their word.

Of course, one presumes it is easier to mature in this manner when you have Randy Moss available to haul in 60-yard bombs for TDs. That'll help. Reports out of Foxboro this week told us all that Moss and Cassel were striving to develop a rapport and work together on watching tapes of upcoming opponents. Which, you know, is necessary, clearly. But is also kind of adorable if you just picture Cassel on the phone with his mom expressing his doubt about being cool enough to talk to Randy. And then sort of sheepishly approaching him and asking if he's, you know, not busy or anything, if maybe he wants to watch some 49ers film together. But, you know, he's probably busy and just forget about it. It was stupid to ask. And then Cassel starts to shuffle away and Randy calls his name and throws his arm around Cassel's shoulders and tells him that he thinks that's a great idea and, in fact, they should do that every week. And Cassel beams.

You guys? I might be just a little too invested in Matt Cassel's mental state. But, as Chrissy pointed out, his performance this week surely means that he won't protest when his mother gives him frosted cupcakes in a care package. Not like two weeks ago when he claimed that he didn't deserve frosting. And his family is out in California this week and you just know he scuffed his foot all "Thanks, mom" and she was all "Matty, the linoleum" and then she made him take his shoes off.

(I realize that Matt Cassel is a grown man with a wife and all that but my brain refuses to wrap itself around the notion that he's a grown up who doesn't need care packages of baked goods and "Hang in there, baby" kitty posters from his mom and that he doesn't sleep in footie pajamas in a bunk bed. This is the world I need to live in, people. Let's just go with it.)

Things were touch and go there for a while with the teams trading interceptions and what have you. But eventually, the Pats figured it out and got into a rhythm and we didn't have one of those "Houston at the end of today's game against Indy" situations because DAMN. Ball control, gentlemen. Jeez.

ANYWAY, our boys will be spending the week on the West Coast as they've got San Diego next week and it wouldn't make a terrible lot of sense for them to be jetting back and forth across the country. So any of y'all out there who happen to run into our football playing gentlemen, please give them a fist bump for me. Except for Matt Cassel. Him you can hug. And maybe offer him a handkerchief until he gets that postgame press conference sweating thing under control.

Now, onto the matter at hand. Josh Beckett, what are you doing? To be continued...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Surprisingly surprising

It was late...and now it's early. Up at the crack of dawn for a 10-miler with Katherine (masochist, yes, yes, I am), and hardly slept at all because of the whole Red Sox winning thing. Which thing, I don't mind to tell you, I really did not expect. This one could legitimately have gone either way.

Because: Matsuzaka. Whom I STILL don't believe has managed 18 wins this season (wins being a ridiculous stat, yes, but nevertheless), because of his constant infuriating way with the pitching.

I would, however, like to thank JD Drew for proving what we've all been thinking for a while, K-Rod isn't THAT freakin' great.

And Jason Bay who seems utterly unimpressed by this whole postseason thing. Like he's just kind of looking around going, "Okay, so, it's baseball. Just a little colder. I know how to play baseball. What's the problem? This is what the big deal's all about? Okay, sure, here's a home run." I'm sure Dennis Eckersley feels quite vindicated. Now, let's all thank Pittsburgh again for their friendly Canadian. THANK YOU, PITTSBURGH.

At this point, do you kind of have to wonder if this whole "losing to the Red Sox in the ALDS" thing is turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the Angels? Not that the series is over by any stretch of the imagination but 2-0 is certainly a "boot on the throat" type situation and we have been here before. I guess time will tell.

Two more days until the next installment of the Mike Scioscia Face. I wait with bated breath.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One in the bag

(Photo from Boston.com)

Jon Lester will thank us to stop underestimating him. You'd think we, as a fan base, might stop doing that but the amount of ink spilled over the past few days regarding Josh Beckett's mysterious oblique would lead any outsiders to imply that we didn't have that much faith in Lester. I'd venture a guess that nothing could be further from the truth. And I'd have said that before the game. The bottom line is that Lester's good. Very good. And I don't think it's a coincidence that, when trying to expound upon his personality (as we are wont to do), we often conclude that he's the kind of guy whom you'd try to impress with your wit and humor and he'd just stare at you, seemingly not getting the joke and subsequently making you feel like a babbling idiot. Because, you know, Jon Lester isn't flustered by much. Not cancer, not postseason baseball apparently, and certainly not nervous girls making inappropriate fart jokes (I'm guessing). But that is, evidently, what makes him so good at his job. And we are the better for it.

Also unblinking in the whole bright lights of the postseason thing is everyone's favorite friendly Canadian, Jason Bay. Apparently some of the talking heads were expressing their doubt about Bay's impending performance prior to the game due to the fact that he was a postseason virgin and Dennis Eckersley took some issue with that. Essentially saying, I hear, "It's not his fault he played in Pittsburgh. That should be punishment enough without you railing against the dude." Perhaps the only thing better than Eck's angry defense of Jason Bay and Jon Lester is the way he acts like a spurned lover in regards to Manny Ramirez. "Thanks a lot, Manny, for showing up and playing like this. Thanks a LOT." That might be a direct quote.

And then there’s Jacoby Ellsbury who seemingly has no intention of suffering a sophomore slump in his second postseason appearance. “What people forget” Buck Martinez said in perhaps his sole lucid moment of the night “is that Ellsbury is still just a rookie.” Huh, I guess he is, isn’t he? Seems like that kid’s been here forever.

So despite the fact that I kind of expected the Angels and John Lackey – he of the “We are the Knights who say ‘Ni!’” visage to take Game 1, I am surely pleased at the outcome. Because that is the thing about postseason baseball, it’s pretty unpredictable. For instance, you could have predicted that Amy and I would spend five minutes feeding every coin we had on our persons into the self-checkout at Stop N’ Shop in order to purchase chips and cheese dip for the game. (Seriously, the people working there clearly thought we were potheads). But you could not have predicted that Jason Bay would be your hero or that someone in a Red Sox uniform could actually atone for their errors at shortstop by continuing to hit instead of falling to the ground and thrashing about due to the injustice of it all. (Though concern was expressed that Lowrie was up past his curfew). You probably also would not have predicted Vladimir Guerrero’s positively Jeff Suppan-esque baserunning blunder. But, you know, postseason baseball. Gotta love it.

Friday’s game starts half an hour earlier which is wise considering that it’s Matsuzaka and, as Jerry Remy expressed in his trademark exasperated state, “he, uh, is known to throw a lot of pitches.” That’s putting it mildly. But one game in the bag is one step closer. I’ll take it, sleep deprivation and all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

So, Los Angeles, we meet again.

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

The Huggy Bunch up there appears to be very excited about this imminent playoff thing. Possibly because, hey, more baseball. And maybe because, as Bob Ryan attested a few days ago, they're playing with house money this year as no one on that team really has anything left to prove. Plus, the Red Sox are the walking wounded right now what with everyone's obliques going fucko bazoo and labrum tears left and right. Let's just try to keep everyone's ACLs attached, yes?

Those aren't excuses, mind you. The Angels are a killer team. They certainly have been this season as relates to their matchups with the Sox. So if they take us down, well, tip of the cap to them, they're an excellent baseball team. But, I mean, in recent history an 83-win team has won the World Series and Derek Lowe has been a postseason hero. Stranger things have happened is what I'm saying here.

That said, playoff baseball is playoff baseball and we'll enjoy it for all it's worth. Plus? We're guaranteed at least three games of the Mike Scioscia Face. You know, the Mike Scioscia Face, the one that, as Amy describes, "makes it look as though Scioscia wet his pants three innings ago and is standing there in his urine-soaked uniform pants and willing himself to power through." Truly, the Mike Scioscia Face is one of the best parts of postseason baseball. It's the little things, people.

Stupid West Coast. I'd recommend starting the caffeine IV or crystal meth drip posthaste. You're gonna need it.