Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Random Thoughts (September 30, 2015)

One year ago today, football fans across the country and especially in New England, were talking about the end of Tom Brady's career.

You remember it clearly.  The Patriots were thrashed on Monday Night Football in Kansas City, losing 41-14 to the Chiefs.

Brady struggled like he had never struggled before, completing just 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown pitted against two interceptions.  It was so bad that Brady found himself on the bench in favor of rookie Jimmy Garoppolo.  In his first NFL action, Garoppolo went 6-of-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

The night of the game and the days that followed were filled with obituaries for Brady and the Patriots.  The medium for those declaring that Brady was done and that the dominance of the Patriots had come to a close ranged from the talking heads on ESPN, columns in the Boston papers, and crazy rants on social media.

Obviously, Brady and the Patriots figured things out quickly.  They bounced back a week later with an impressive 43-17 beat down of the Bengals and their season culminated with Brady winning his fourth Super Bowl and his third Super Bowl MVP trophy.

At some point Brady will decline and end his career but those that called it for him following one terrible performance could not have been more wrong and they only provided Brady with more motivation for him to continue to perform at the highest level, which he continues to do now into his sixteenth NFL season.


The 2016 Red Sox are going to win the A.L. East and contend for the World Series.

Baseless claim?  Far from it.

The Red Sox have some of the best young talent in baseball and that talent has already started to leave its mark on the big league level.  No other team can boast of two talents under the age of 22 like the Red Sox can with Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts and the rest of the pack includes promising players like Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr., Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Travis Shaw who can either help this team win in 2016 or be used as trade chips to add the pieces the team needs to contend.

The Red Sox also have vested veterans like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia who would love to do nothing else than turn around the franchise following consecutive last place finishes.  I expect Pablo Sandoval will also have a bounce back year following a poor initial season in Boston.

What they need is at least one top of the rotation starting pitcher, bullpen depth, and a new home for Hanley Ramirez.

Dave Dombrowski, the new President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, will likely throw big bucks at a free agent pitcher like David Price - who he once traded for in Detroit - to solve the first issue.  Money and prospects will also likely solve the bullpen problem as well.

Getting rid of Ramirez, a mega bust of a free agent signing, will require Dombrowski to get ownership to eat a good portion of the $66-million that is owed to him over the next three years and also probably entice a potential trade partner with a young prospect or two.

Based on his track record of success in Montreal, Florida, and Detroit, I trust Dombrowski to solve all three problems and use the talent already on the big league roster or in the minor league pipeline to have the Red Sox in contention at this time next year.


The twist up between Nationals teammates Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon is a case of both players acting foolishly.

Papelbon was critical of Harper for not running out a pop-up and as the two exchanged words in the dugout following the play, Papelbon initiated a fight by grabbing Harper's neck.

First off, Papelbon was correct in calling out Harper.  At 22-years-old, Harper is equaled in talent only by the Angels' Mike Trout and is likely going to ride his National League leading .334 batting average and 41 home runs as well as his major league leading 1.120 OPS to his first MVP trophy. That does not give him permission to not hustle on every play and kudos to Papelbon for calling him out.

The issue for me is the setting for calling out a teammate.  Papelbon would have been much better served to quietly approach Harper well after the game in the quiet confines of the clubhouse.  Although Papelbon has never been known for doing anything in a quiet fashion, a real veteran leader would have let Harper cool down after the game before telling him that as the game's best young player that he has a responsibility to his team and to his fans to go hard on every play.

By failing to do so, and by initiating the fight, Papelbon is justly the "bad guy" in this altercation and the season-ending suspension of the Nationals closer by the team is well deserved.


Put the Celtics down for 48 wins in the 2015-16 season and they will win at least one playoff round in the Eastern Conference.


Enjoy Xander Bogaerts tonight.

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