Friday, August 22, 2008

Checking Back In

Rested, refreshed, and re-charged for what should be a pretty good pennant race...

Lots to catch up on after my two-week hiatus from posting. I was sequestered in the woods of Maine for most of that time, where cell phone and wireless internet signals go to die. But we're back, and ready to roll. We'll rename the site today Volleyball Heaven in honor of our outgoing commander in chief, who spent some quality time in Beijing last week with our champion lady v-ballers (left).

Thought I'd just do a quick around-the-horn with some local issues that have been debated over the past week or so:

- Everyday Jason Bay is holding his own against that walking (jogging?) consumer fraud now playing with the Dodgers. The tale of the tape since the big deal went down - Manny's hitting .406 with six homers, 21 RBI's, 12 runs, and, get this, one steal. Everyday Jason Bay, meanwhile, is hitting .347 with 4 homers, 18 ribs, 19 runs, 3 SB's, and oh yeah, as his nickname implies, he's playing every day and not shoving elderly people to the ground. The Manny sycophants are still out there, but the more I see of Bay, the more I think Theo did a hell of a job under extreme duress. Here's a piece from T.J. Simers in the LA Times that will give you a good guffaw. Most amazing takeaway for me: Manny knows how to operate an iPhone? He's probably got his own techie guy. Like L'Montro his own personal hairstylist, this guy's name is L'Pod.

- I like to take stock of the Patriots after the third game of the pre-season each year, but we still may not have a clue about this team after tonight's game against Asante Samuel and the Eagles at Gillette. We may not see Tom Brady for this one, as the organization continues to rightfully protect its Faberge egg. So it could be another dose of Backup QB Derby. I'll probably tune in and watch at least a couple of quarters. I still think the Pats go 14-2 this year with the easy schedule and they add another trophy to the case.

- I must say, the Olympics are alluring. I mean, where else can we see our Commander in Chief galivanting with bikini-clad women in public? Honestly, I think the attraction for me is the stories and the smiles. The raw human emotion of the whole thing. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. I'll shut up now. But it's been fun watching Phelps and that lightning streak sprinter from Jamaica. I guess not everyone in that country takes their time getting places.

- It's YEP time, otherwise known as the Yankee Elimination Party. That team is all done, friends. Hank Steinbrenner's already on record as saying they're the team to beat in 2009. The white flag is waving from the Empire itself.

- One of Brett Favre's first requests to Stool Pigeon Mangini was to simplify the offense a little more. Not a good sign.

- Rumors are flying around the Hub about Jason Varitek's divorce - actually not so much his divorce but who he may be seeing. My moles are telling me it's NESN's own Kathryn Tappen, who I must say is quite fetching. Still, doesn't this smack a little of the Derek Lowe situation?

- My fantasy football team: QB: Brett Favre, Philip Rivers; RB: Marshawn Lynch, Willie Parker, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones; WR: Randy Moss, Dwayne Bowe, Anthony Gonzalez, Darrell Jackson; TE: Jason Witten, Zach Miller; K: Phil Dawson, Martin Gramatica; OFF: Arizona, Detroit; DEF: NYG, NYJ. Thoughts?

- Still not sure how I feel about NBA players playing for Team USA in the Olympics. Then I realize they haven't won gold for a while and I'm more okay with it. I do wish someone from the Celts was on the team, though I realize they played the most post-season games, like, ever. So I guess a rest is warranted.

- Just tried to think of something to write about hockey and came up completely empty. Sad.

- Where's Bill Simmons over at ESPN? Talk about a long hiatus. Rick Reilly's starting to take over as the lead draw, at least for me.

- Gotta love the vicious Boston sports media. After his latest poor outing, I half-expected to see Clay Buchholz dangling from a tree on Boston Common. I understand that everything is amplified in Boston, but the level of outrage over this guy - and the way people take it so personally - is ridiculous. Much like the weight of perfection wore on the Pats last January/February, Buchholz' dalliance with perfection - his September '07 no-no vs. Baltimore - could be affecting him right now. The way I look at it is some people develop more slowly - he mastered Double-A, and after mixed results at Triple-A, he eventually got into a groove before being called back up. It's a process, people. Give the kid some time.

- That said, you have to be concerned about the current state of the rotation. Josh Beckett has some sort of mysterious numbness/tingling going on in his pitching hand, though anything serious has been ruled out. Wake's on the DL. Buchholz is headed up to Portland to get it all back. Really, if you think about the guys you trust on the mound right now for the Sox, it's Dice-K, Lester and Papelbon, and maybe throw in Masterson. If that isn't worrisome, I don't know what is. The Sox did pick up Paul Byrd for the stretch drive, and he goes tonight against a familiar foe in the Blue Jays. Byrd's last two starts - one for the Indians, one for the Sox - have been against Toronto.

- And finally, let's end on a political note. Who is Obama going to pick as his VP candidate? It's a fun parlor game to watch, and kudos to his campaign for somehow keeping his choice quiet. Not easy to do in today's media age. I'm going to go against the grain and predict that his selection will be a complete surprise.

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