Thursday, July 14, 2016

Random Thoughts (July 14, 2016)

Now that we know that Tom Brady's appeal will not be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and therefore will have to serve the four-game suspension handed down to him by Roger Goodell for his supposed role in the "Deflategate" controversy, it's time to move on to the reality that Jimmy Garoppolo will be the Patriots quarterback for the first month of the 2016 season.

Or is it?

Brady's last shot at clearing his name in this fiasco is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  There are several legal wrinkles to this last hope for the MVP quarterback but basically he will file a petition with Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a stay on his suspension while waiting to see if the Court will hear his appeal.  The hope for Brady is that the stay will be granted by Justice Ginsburg - who will hopefully ignore Brady's friendship with the presumptive Republican candidate for President who she counts as an enemy - based on the argument that if the Court does agree to hear Brady's appeal and he is successful in his case against the NFL, there is no way for him to make up for the four games that he would have been wrongly suspended for to start this season.

This is Brady's "Hail Mary" in this ridiculous case.  Putting my Patriots bias aside, it amazes me that Goodell would fight this case over findings that Brady "more probable than not" knew that team employees intentionally lowered the air pressure in footballs prior to the Patriots 45-7 win over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.  This case is certainly more about the legal power of the commissioner over the players than it is about air pressure in footballs but it looks like Goodell is sacrificing one of the legends of his sport to ensure his power to arbitrarily wield power over the league.

Expect Brady to take this route and while I can't blame him for wanting to clear his name (and for the NFLPA to want to fight the power they gave Goodell in the last CBA they agreed to in 2011), in the end it might not be in the best interest of the team.

Let me explain.  Bill Belichick knows right now that Brady will be out the first four games which gives him all of training camp and the preseason games to get Garoppolo ready to take the reigns as the temporary starter.  If Brady gets the stay and the Court decides not to hear his appeal, the suspension will land somewhere in the middle of the season and Garoppolo will be thrown to the wolves without the benefit of several weeks of repetitions as the first team quarterback.  Having the time to get Garoppolo up to speed and prepared for the first four weeks is in the best interest of the team.

It seems crazy to think that having Brady sit the first four weeks is in the best interest of the Patriots but the alternative of losing him for the four games at a later point in the season without having enough time to prepare Garoppolo is not worth the risk.


When the Celtics used their second first round pick in this year's draft to select 20-year-old Guerschon Yabusele from France, it raised quite a few eyebrows.  Yabusele was projected as no better than a late first round pick so going at the 16th pick was a surprise move by the Celtics.

Now, after watching him play in both the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues, I'm convinced that the 6-7, 270-pound forward is going to be a player in the NBA.  Summer league is not to be considered the perfect forum to evaluate a player's abilities due to its nature as a showcase for rookies and fringe NBA players but the makeup of the Celtics roster makes this a different form of evaluation.

Danny Ainge has stocked the Celtics summer roster with five of the team's six 2016 draft picks as well as with 2015 first round picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, 2015 second round picks Jordan Mickey and Marcus Thornton, and 2014 first round pick James Young in addition to a few fringe players looking to catch the eye of any NBA talent evaluator.

Considering the team is putting so much stock into summer league, it's important to note that Yabusele has started every game and is averaging right around 24 minutes per game (each summer game is 40 minutes long).  This is an indication that Ainge is considering Yabusele for a spot on this year's roster despite the initial judgement that he'd stay in Europe for at least another season.

Yabusele is not ready to be a consistent contributor to what should be a contending team in the Eastern Conference but he would provide the C's with good end of the roster depth and would benefit from training with and practicing against NBA players on a daily basis.  He has shown the ability to handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter, finish in the paint, and pass and in today's NBA having multi-skilled forwards is a necessity to be successful.  His defense does leave much to be desired but that is all the more reason to keep him in Boston to develop that area of his game under the watchful eye of Brad Stevens.

For some video clips of Yabusele's summer exploits, check out the breakdown of him from Celtics Blog this morning.


Celtics fans also got a good look at the team's top pick, Jaylen Brown, in summer league.  Brown struggled early on with a knee injury but in Las Vegas he was able to showcase his athleticism, defense, and ability to get to the basket.

Brown is a physical specimen who should be able to make immediate contributions to the Celtics success this year.  Even as he learns the nuances of individual and team defense at the NBA level, his athleticism, size (6-8, 225), and instincts will allow him to earn minutes.  Offensively, he does need to improve his outside shot but he can get to the hoop and that should allow him to contribute.

Ainge's decision to take Brown with the 3rd pick and pass on players such as Kris Dunn, Dragan Bender, and Buddy Hield was criticized throughout the league but Brown's strengths fit with the style of play in today's NBA and the things he needs improvement with can be accomplished.


The Red Sox open the second half of their season tomorrow in New York.  They will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound on Friday, followed by All-Star Steven Wright on Saturday and David Price on Sunday.

This will be a critical series for the Red Sox.  They can put additional space between the Yankees and a playoff spot while also strengthening their own status as a playoff team.

The eyes of Red Sox Nation will be on the pitching staff this weekend with the non-waiver trade deadline being just 17 days away from Friday.  Good outings from Rodriguez, Wright, and Price will briefly take pressure off Dave Dombrowski's search for an additional starting pitcher on the trade market while a good weekend from the bullpen will allow Dombrowski to not have to make a panic move early next week.

No matter what happens this weekend, the Red Sox will need pitching.  Adding at least one starter and one reliever will be paramount to their hopes to qualify for the playoffs and make a run at the World Series.

Two veteran starters they will take a long look at are Oakland's Rich Hill and Minnesota's Ervin Santana.  Adding at least one, if not both, would provide the team with enough depth in their rotation to qualify for the playoffs as well as make a serious run at the A.L. East title.

Bullpen help is necessary as well.  Getting Brad Ziegler from Arizona prior to the All-Star Game was a move in the right direction but that was off-set by losing closer Craig Kimbrel until at least the end of August with a knee injury that required surgery.  Moving Joe Kelly from the starting rotation to the bullpen could prove to be helpful but Kelly's inconsistency as a starter makes me pause before declaring he's ready to be a difference making relief pitcher.


Enjoy all the legal talk on sports radio today.

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