Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Sox, the Pats and Recapping the Handicapping

First things first, seeing as how we are a baseball blog. The big news from this past weekend is that the Red Sox were not eliminated from postseason contention, and they didn't allow the Yankees to clinch anything on their home turf. Our boys took three of four in the Bronx with the likes of Kevin Jarvis, Kyle Snyder and Julian Tavarez toeing the rubber, and got key hits from youngsters like David Murphy and Dustin Pedroia. Can't say I watched much of the action -- beautiful weekend plus college and pro football -- but I think the Sox and Tito should be very proud of how they've handled themselves over the past few weeks. They've had every reason in the world to roll over and play dead and they've continued to play hard. Big Papi hit his 49th in New York and the nation now awaits No. 50.

One other baseball note. Did you see what happened in the Red Sox West (Dodgers) game last night against the Padres? Four homers in the 9th inning to tie the game, and then Nomar cranks one in the 10th to win it, off... you guessed it, old friend Rudy Seanez. He's giving up bombs from coast to coast. Alan Embree and Cla Meredith also pitched for San Diego.

Now, onto football... since we're officially a two-sport operation here. I went a gaudy 11-5 in my pro picks this weekend, with Buffalo and San Francisco being my best upset specials. I actually thought this was a pretty easy weekend -- if I had some serious cash to blow, I would have put a lot on San Diego, Cincinnati and Chicago.

As for our Patriots, they looked terrific in the first half against the Jets, and then looked pretty bad in the second, allowing the inferior Jets to actually put a scare in them. Some notes and observations from the game:

- We all know how lucky we are to have Tom Brady as our QB, and I understand that it's going to take him some time to gel with his new receivers, but I didn't like the way he looked and played in the second half. Some of the beat writers mentioned his defeated body language at times, which I definitely noticed. He also continues to underthrow on the long ball, which he supposedly practiced all off-season (with Deion in mind, but that's another story). Just some things I've noticed - he's still the best in the game, and that drive at the end of the game was vintage Brady. He's also got this going for him...

- It was pretty funny seeing the horde of cameras and media types scurrying to mid-field after the game to capture the much-anticipated Belichick-Mangini handshake. Judging from the moment, it does seem like Belichick is pissed at his young protege for some reason. It was a very abrupt shake, 'good game', and that was it - from two guys who have spent an awful lot of time together, both coaching and away from the field. Belichick can be a supreme d-bag - he learned from one of the all-time best in Tuna - but three Lombardi Trophys make you look the other way.

- Of course, we all know how the Patriots are the Kremlin when it comes to injury news, and that all starts with Coach Bill. Did you see toward the end of the game, when Corey Dillon had to come out of the game and the CBS cameras tried to get a shot of him on the bench with the training staff? Some young peon stood up on the bench, shook his head, crossed his arms, and blocked the shot. I guess I understand it, but the pose was so smug and off-putting. Pretty lame.

- The Pats' secondary looked like bullfighters at times - OLE! - but the D-line was absolutely immense. This unit doesn't get a lot of respect, but that's going to change this year.

- Chad Jackson played his first game for the Pats and looked pretty good, catching a TD pass from Brady. Doug Gabriel also played, or was that Bob Marley back from the dead? Surprised someone hasn't yanked those dreads right off his head. Gabriel didn't have an impact, but maybe he just needs a little more quiet time with the playbook.

- Revenge game coming up this Sunday night against Denver. The Broncos are 1-1 but are struggling. They lost to a bad Rams team in Week 1, and barely squeaked by the Trent Green-less Chiefs last Sunday. Jake the Snake and the offense have scored a grand total of 19 points in two games. Doesn't bode well for what is sure to be an amped up Pats squad and a crazed Gillette Stadium crowd.

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