Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Maledictions

Well, it’s Monday on a holiday week, and I think we all know exactly what means…No, not people taking vacation or people complaining they don’t have any vacation left to take (well ok, that too) but another edition of the Monday Malediction’s. With that snazzy little intro, let’s get to it.

Patriots Hang On in Buffalo

I don’t want to sound like negative Patriots fan here, but what exactly was the offense I saw in the second half? The Patriots used to be able to take charge in the second half, and make adjustments on the fly. It’s what made them so good. Now, a halftime lead means “Let’s run everything we ran in the first half again, and in exactly the same order.” The second half should have been a mix of runs and short, short passes. How about using Julian Edelman in a wildcat formation? How about a direct snap to Kevin Faulk? Screen pass to Moss? Option pass with Welker? I just cannot fathom how bad this offense is, when it’s supposed to be the strong-suit of this team. Mercifully, the Buffalo Bills were starting their 9th different offensive line combo yesterday (Deirdorf said it was the 8th yesterday, but Weekend Warm-up guest Mark Kelso said 9th on Saturday. I’m going with Kelso). I am not saying empty the playbook, but the fact the Patriots can’t close a team out in the second half, especially against a defense like Buffalo’s is very telling to me. This team will probably host a playoff game against the 5th seed, most likely Denver (which is coming off of a stellar effort against Oakland yesterday. By stellar I mean horrendous), which will be no cake-walk, and now they get a trip to San Diego in round 2 if they win. Normally, Belichick and Brady versus Norv Turner and Phil Rivers would be exciting, but instead it makes me queasy. They will beat Jacksonville next week, lose to Houston, beat Denver, and lose in the next round. On the bright side, maybe they can get plenty of second round picks in next year’s draft.

Could Roy Halladay get Cole Hamels back on track?

Jeff and myself spoke with ESPN’s Jayson Stark this weekend, and I asked him if the Phillies acquired Halladay in part because they think his work ethic, which has been praised for making AJ Burnett a better pitcher. Stark agreed that it was a big reason, and for proof, check out this quote from Burnett in the NY Daily News in early December:

"You're going to get a guy you can learn from," Burnett said. "When you're around him, he encourages you to get better. You watch him make himself better and it inspires you.”

Think Cole Hamels could benefit from that? It’s one thing to have Jamie Moyer on your staff as a mentor, it’s another to have Roy Halladay. Although I am sad to see Kyle Drabek go, this trade has brought an energy to the Phillies that may carry them right back to the World Series, and if Halladay and an untracked Hamels are at the top of their game, they might win their second World Series in three years.

How do you solve a problem like the Mike Lowell situation?

Well, this isn’t awkward at all. The Red Sox tried to trade Lowell (who took less money in 2007 to stay in Boston, only to have the love unrequited. It’s like Martha Jones and the Doctor if you are looking for a science fiction corollary) to Texas, and it wasn’t to make the team better, it was to unload him off the roster. The Red Sox have made it clear they don’t want Mike Lowell, who is a classy individual with great communication skills in the clubhouse, yet now they have to wait 6-8 weeks for things to clear up. The logjam of corner infielders is back, the logjam at DH is back, and that mild migraine Terry Francona had throughout last year is slowly returning. I don’t think Lowell will be on this roster on opening day, but the Red Sox will also be paying the full 12 million left on his contract instead of just 9. It’s too bad he couldn’t stay and be the DH but the resident softball player is gumming up that position with his lack of defensive ability.

Jimmie Johnson-AP Male Athlete of the Year, wait WHAT??

This, right here, may be the biggest load of horse crap I have seen in a long time. No disrespect to Jimmie Johnson, who I am sure is a helluva guy and is a great race car driver, but how could he win this award over Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt, Tim Tebow, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira (seriously, stop me when I name someone less deserving)? This is a failure of epic proportions. Are AP writers still shaking off the after-effects of Tiger Woods? I demand a recount.



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