A Boston Sports Fan Holiday Guide

Song of the post: THIS & Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from me to you. Those of you in the New England area and New England sports fans globally, have had many Christmas wishes come true over the past 15 or so years.

This year we have a very specific Christmas wish list that would make us all happy in the long run for each of our favorite teams. Starting with the men who play Sundays, following with the Boston Celtics, leading into the Red Sox and then the Big (Bad) Bruins.

For the New England Patriots all we wish for Christmas for them is health, and to retain their level of play. It is no secret that without one of the cogs in the offensive machine that is led by Tom Bradyrob-gronkowski, they aren’t at their peak performance level. Blount and Gray are a dangerous tandem that when healthy can run on just about everyone. Lafell and Wright are similar towards the production in that they help Brady get the first downs when checked upon. Amendola and Edleman are another tandem that is necessary in the Pats successes. As we saw against the Jets, Amendola can be a feature wideout, although it would be nice if he wasn’t the premier target. Edleman has shown time and again that he is the Brown, Branch, Welker type of choice for Tom Brady and as we could tell on Sunday that his absence was felt in the struggle against their New York foe.

Lastly for the offense would be all-time health for Brady and Gronk, without them our ship has no captain or sail to lead us to victory. Without Gronkowski the past several years the Patriots have stalled and not made it where they need to. If he remains healthy with his QB then maybe his QB can party like Gronk until the misses calls Brady home. Four defensive standouts that the Pats wish remain healthy are Collins, Hightower, Jones and Revis. They need their top D-men to keep roughing up the opposition.

The Celtics are next on tap, and we wish for only one thing, tanking. Rondo is out and the Celtics are filled with young talent, but still miss that superstar they need. They need the no. 1 pick overall and the team will be complete. Expiring contracts coming off the book plus young stars coming of age, will be enticing for future free agents. Stay the course Danny Ainge.

We have a few wishes for the Red Sox this holiday season, and that is no more moves. I personally want to hold onto the talent they have and not trade to get Cole Hamels. He is not a necessity as ownership seems to believe. The other wish the current prospects break onto the scene and stay competitive. As a side wish, health for Papi would be well received.

The lackluster Bruins are winners of two in a row going into Christmas and for them we wish they’d get a top six right wingerSochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men and a brand new fourth line. As has been noted since preseason the Bruins need a top-line RW and the Blues are looking to move TJ Oshie according to sources, the Bruins have a need for his talents and could fit well with playmaker David Krejci. A move for him would certainly avoid the forbidden movement of lines in Julien’s system. He could slot in the top line next to Lucic and Krejci, leaving the Bergeron line intact along with the Soderberg-Eriksson line that has been potent as of late. He would shuffle things towards the right path they belong on. However given the Bruins cap situation and the Blues desire to retain Tarasenko they could attempt to deal some of their unnecessary contracts, such as the current fourth line, which hasn’t produced much in quite some time. Moving the likes of Campbell, Paille and even Kelly would free up cap space for the Bruins and offer roster spots for the touted prospects in Providence. Obtaining Oshie would be a giant leap in getting back into the playoff picture, as well as allowing prospects to grow in the Bruins system.

Although one thing we can all wish for is lower ticket prices and less traffic in going to watch our favorite teams. A (Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus) Miracle it would be.

-Lomonte

+

Too Much Talent

Song of the post: I’m Not Sorry by Mike Stud & No Diggity by Blackstreet

Movie Scene that’s applicable: “Ya suspect

There’s no right spot to start with analyzing the Red Sox multiple signings in the wee hours last night. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are the top tier free agent hitters this year; and the Sox got them both. I should be excited, yes? dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

Well I’m not. This just feels wrong to me. This feels like the time we almost had A-Rod, or Texiera. I don’t like it. Maybe these deals aren’t legal but because Bud Selig is on his way out he doesn’t care. I feel dirty thinking about the Sox incoming talent. I just want Lester back. Is that wrong of me to think? The amount of talent on the opening day roster before these two signings was more than enough, not to mention the talent in the minors. Now I’m just confused.

Where is this team heading with these moves? Who is getting traded? What is going on at Fenway Park?

I am complaining that the Sox have too much talent coming into next year. There will be clashing between the forces in the lineup. The young guys, Xander, Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini, will be bitter at the fact that the front office, who had been promising them playing time and starting spots has seemingly abandoned ship with them.

The players they brought in will be resentful that they were moved to beautiful Fenway Park. Craig, and Cespedes maybe blocked out of spots in the lineup and will probably cause a stir. Cespedes, it has been said, already is a drama queen in the clubhouse. Likewise, the new players that have signed recently may not get the ‘rightful’ amount of playing time that they signed for.

The Red Sox signing all these players may have a reverse effect that is desired. The Giants are already hard at work trying to steal Lester from the Red Sox, we took their big guy. Who says they won’t try the same. The Yankees are the Yankees so look for them to overspend to compete. The Dodgers may want Lester, Scherzer or Shields, so again, look out west to take a few prime starters from the Red Sox viewpoint.

What these few moves have done is scare pitchers away from the AL East, and make it enticing to play for the Red Sox as well. That’s what we hope at least. The best case scenario is that the Red Sox land Lester, and trade away for another proven pitcher to compliment Jon for the next few years as the young pitchers come into their own.

The bright side is they can make moves and are somewhat set up for Papi’s predecessor.

This bipolar post is brought to you by Confusion.

-Lomonte

+I am a little bitter that Barstool Sports signed Jarred Carrabis, I wanted that job and Jarred is kind of self centered. When the Sox won the Series in ’13 he talked solely about his “journey” and feelings with the team. Almost completely ignoring the Boston Marathon in his write up. He thought he was the driving factor behind them winning. Or so it seemed.

+Also sticking to the Barstool writers openings, I’ll write in Jerry Thornton’s place if needed.

Someone Get The Pitchforks Ready, The Celtics Are Winning

Song of the post: Ready For This Steve Aoki Remix

The Boston Celtics have won four games in a row. That’s right, count ’em four (1-2-3-4) wins. That’s a quarter of the wins I personally think they should strive for. hi-res-183712255-head-coach-brad-stevens-of-the-boston-celtics-meets_crop_650

They beat the Jazz, an equally awful team, they beat the Magic twice, a team that sucked last year and will this year too. And they beat the Heat; the only win I approved of. That made them 4-4, too far ahead of the curve of where they should be. Brad Stevens has this team believing they can win, and they are streaking; which is a terrible thing for any team with as great of a chance at the lottery as they do.

I condemn anyone who thinks that the Celtics should NOT tank this year. They have a grand opportunity in their laps several first round picks in the next six years. This is the year to tank, this is the year to suck, this is the one to get that coveted young superstar. The Celtics have good complimentary pieces as of now, Sullinger, Green, Olynyk and Bradley. They also have assist-happy Rajon Rondo healing up.

That doesn’t mean go for the title this year Brad [Stevens]. You cannot and will not get past the Knicks, Nets, Pacers or Heat. Zero chance Brad. If you don’t get the lottery this year you will have effectively sent the Celtics into the abyss of mid-round picks the next 5 years. This is the perfect time to suck, you have the aforementioned players who are all younger than 27. If the Celtics land a lotto pick then he can blossom to a superstar at the right time. It will be the passing of the torch from Lebron to (future pick) just as it was Pierce to Lebron not too long ago.

If the Celtics do not land the lottery pick this year they might just get a wee bit better the next several years and never have this golden opportunity again. This is a blessing for the Celtics. I do not agree with ‘green-teamers’ that think to package several players to get an Anthony Davis or Andre Iguadala. There is a core in place that would be perfect to compliment a budding superstar.

The case is they need the lottery pick this year, preferably a gifted scorer that Rajon Rondo can pass the ball to for the next few years. Then once you have Rondo and STBNL (superstar-to-be-named-later), you can get the third wheel (Kevin Love?) and complete the next big three.

Bottom line; this is the year to tank because of timing and this wonderful opportunity handed down to them. It would be utterly foolish and a showcase of Danny Ainge’s ineptitude to not pursue this year’s lottery draft.

The NBA isn’t like the MLB we don’t want a miracle story, we want dynasties.

-Lager

Win The Series and Fall Into a Rut: What Not To Do in the Offseason

Song of the post: Dancing with Avicii

Not even a week removed from the superb Sox World Series win, we have reached the simmering of the hot stove. Rumors already bouncing in here, there and everywhere.

The latest and most disturbing to me is the Brian McCann rumor. He and his agent have already started to muse about Fenway and its faithful fans, some Sox representatives have mentioned his name in passing. STAY AWAY! I’ve heard he’s asking for 3-5 years for upwards of 40 million guaranteed.

Have we learned nothing? Stay away. You have 2 serviceable catchers between Ross and Lavarnway, plus a few prospects in the system at the catcher position. We set forth last offseason straying from the big, bloated contracts as well as building from within; why falter from that plan?

I’m not even a fan of bringing back the same team as last year. Yes, the pieces you must bring back can stay there; however the 2013 Red Sox should remain that, the bearded heroes who brought a city back to Boylston Street.

No Salty, no Drew, no Ellsbury, and Napoli may be an exception for a 1 year deal. If we try to bring back the same team we will only be disappointed and let down. The team will compete no matter what and the Sox will be in the hunt but there is no need to repeat history. The free agent market is bleak this year and I think the fans would be perfectly content standing pat, as it were. The city and the fans fell in love with this team; and it seems as though the ownership did even more to the point where it might cripple your chances going forward.

Build from within and extend the players before they reach free agency. We have a great farm system.

-Lager

The Talented, but Troubled Tampa Bay Rays and Where They Should Move

Song of the Post: Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley || Aw Naw by Chris Young || The Greatest by Kenny Rogers

I feel bad for the players in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. They have wonderful scouts and wonderful players and they have plenty of talent. However, they have no fans, and those fans that are there are not very passionate. Baseball, all sports rather, are better when the teams have passionate fan bases. The Tampa Bay Rays have a young, talented and stocked farm system and should be given a chance to play in front of fans that care. dt.common.streams.StreamServer

I can look close to home to all the way West, and North and South; all of the Boston teams have the best fans, and is obvious by the sheer masses that come to the parades. Then you can look out West to the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders fans, loudest on the planet. I hate to say it but Montreal and Toronto have great fans; and then look at the southern college fans, ‘Bama and LSU have great fans that stay for life.

Tampa has none of those characteristics, but their players deserve better. And they can’t keep their players long enough to build on the team and retain the veterans to perhaps win a championship and maybe some fans. Not to mention their stadium is a dump and a rat festered area.

They need to move. Look what it did to the Expos organization. Now the Washington Nationals they have some fan interest and are nearly there to contend every year. The Rays are there every year (as of late at least) and a change of scenery would be best to jumpstart a fan base and keep some players there.

I am biased and want them to lose to the Sox perennially. However, they are too talented and deserve a better place to play.

I have often dreamed of winning the lottery. You know the huge one that’s like 300 million or more? Well I’d want that in one sum and buy out the Rays and move them somewhere nicer.

A place like Nashville, Tennessee. Random, sure but the facts about that city would be suitable for a baseball team. Known for country music and their whiskey Tennessee has one thing missing from being the most “American” city and that is a baseball team. Look at the Nashville Predators, a hockey team with fans in a southern town. I’d bet that Nashville has more people that are knowledgeable about baseball than they do hockey.

I believe that Nashville has a minor league team but they can switch places with Tampa.

A name change could be in order as well as a new color scheme. I’d call them the Nashville Pioneers with a gold, red and bronze color scheme; their logo an “x” made up of an axe and a rifle.

The players and manager would remain the same, just new colors and better fans. Opening day would feature Nashville-based artists singing the National Anthem. Maybe its just a dream but I think it’d be good for baseball.

-Lager

Once a Bully, Always a Bully

Song of the post: Days of Gold by Jake Owen

Richie Incognito has always been a bully and always will be. I’d imagine in his youth he beat kids up and made fun of their appearance. In high school he probably shoved kids in lockers and made fun of teachers. Now in the pros he picked a quiet rookie guard and made his life hell.

It is just disgusting what he said to Jonathan Martin and what is worse is that the Dolphins teammates and coaching staff did nothing about it. Yes it’s one thing to not know about the texts and voicemails but you can see when some one is being bullied, the way they act around that person is not the same as normal.

Now perhaps Incognito took him under his wing a year ago and Martin never knew anything but this torture so he thought everyone was in on it. He was threatened for a long time and it takes a brave person to stand up to it. Martin made a move to get away from his personal hell and we should applaud him for that.

We should also punish the Dolphins organization for turning a blind eye to it and for the way many have responded. From coach Philbin’s written response, Mike Wallace’s words saying Incognito is still a good teammate, to Incognito’s initial reaction; the organization should be held responsible, tenfold for Incognito.

This case shouldn’t remain in the locker room, it should make its way into court. The way this is shaping up it could be called a hate crime. Incognito needs to go and the Dolphins need to be held responsible, simple as that.

-Lager

The Return Of Ty Seguin

Song of the post: Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry

July 4th, 2013 fireworks exploded above the TD Garden, Tyler Seguin’s apartment, and the NHL buzz followed suit. The Boston Bruins had sent their 21 year old forward to the Dallas Stars in addition with Rich Peverley and in return would get Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and another prospect. tyler-seguin-dog-nap

The word was Seguin was either sleeping past practices or having too much fun after games and during the playoffs. The Bruins were fed up with their under performing star. The players in return were all supposedly good players and had the potential to be great. The one proven veteran was Loui Eriksson, considered the most underrated player in the Western Conference at the time.

The Bruins moved on from Tyler Seguin and were sticking with their game, their philosophy; not being begging for the kid to show his real talent.

It’s now about a month into the Seguin-less era and results are looking muddled. Seguin has been showing that talent we touted and had hoped for. And Reilly Smith has been what we asked of him, a goal scorer with some speed. Eriksson, has followed Seguin’s path and been unproductive and under performing, not so much underrated. He hadn’t found the system before the hit heard ’round the NHL and it’s unlikely he will after.

There are whisperings from the Boston fan base that perhaps the brass pulled the plug on the kid too early. That perhaps he needed a warning not a change of scenery. However, they went with the latter and can’t look back on it. The Bruins are right in the thick of it and will be, so long as they don’t see John Scott anytime soon.

Seguin will be this era’s Joe Thornton; won’t get any significant accomplishments until later in his years, if at all. Speaking of San Jose, they (as in most years) look to be early season favorites for the Cup.

Those who are worrying about the trade need to know two things; its early and that the future is still bright on many of our players. The Bruins will be fine, barring any significant injuries of course. The Krejci line is beyond what would be expected. Iginla has shown promise as his career wanes, his numbers haven’t. Bergeron has looked sharp, unfortunately his linemates have not. Brad Marchand has lost whatever he had and seems to be just swinging his stick out there. Eriksson had the head injury and that has set him back but he had looked more like he was floating as he was out there. The third line players, Kelly, Soderberg, Spooner, Caron and Smith have all looked fast and promising; and if there was a better showing from the second line they could see more results as well. Merlot line is at their par, can’t ask any more and wouldn’t expect any less from them. ????????????????????

The defense has been as advertised; a rotating door at the young position between Krug, Hamilton and Bartkowski. Also as expected is Chara and Seidenberg their decreased minutes and at times decreased skill, and increased age. One problem I don’t like out of the D core is the “non-Krug-Hamilton-Bartkowski” defensemen carrying the puck deep. One good thing is Krug was not a flash in the pan. One bad thing is that Bartkowski can’t be out there more.

Tuuka seems like the number one we will have him be for 8 years.

The penalty kill is shaky and that is uncharacteristic of this group. I don’t fret however, they will come around. The powerplay is also uncharacteristic. They have been buzzing all around the ice and have a new dimension–several dimensions actually, whether its Krug and Krejci toying with defenders or Iginla on the quick shot and Chara with the tip in, the powerplay is much improved.

No worries at the hub, at least not from me. They are running into a tough patch right now but with virtually 2 of the top 6 forwards missing that is natural. They will be on track soon enough. Seguin is going to be a Star (pause for drum kick) but the Bruins will raise a banner before he gets back to the show.

-Lager

+That Seguin picture doesn’t make it look all bad