Yup. That’s about it.
Author Archives: hurricanept
In 2007, I was unemployed and living in my parents house outside of Boston, a college graduate with no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life.
It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, by any means – I get along with my parents, I had my own space, and my girlfriend still went to college, so every weekend I could slip away to Somerville for a few days. But after putting in four years at a “prestigious” university it felt like my job prospects were the same as they were out of high school. Partly it was my own fault – instead of securing a job during senior year, I decided to take two months and tour around Asia with my girlfriend. Surprisingly, not a lot of people were looking for just-out-of-school-hires in August. Or September. Or October. Or…
Well, you get the idea. The truth is, I had three things keeping me sane that year: my girlfriend, my band, and the Patriots.
My friends will be quick to tell people that I am, and I admit this, kind of a freak about the Pats. But I wasn’t always like this. I’ve always been a football fan, the son of an Indian immigrant who fell in love with the game early on and whose sister can school you on random football trivia. But I actually grew up a Niners fan (Montana to Rice, baby – can’t tell a 5 year old not to front run) and came to the Pats when Bledsoe did. And I was a fan, throughout, and a big one, especially as I got older and the Pats, somehow, became the class of the NFL.
But 2007 was different. During that season, that magical, amazing season that we all now dread remembering, my fandom changed from a hardcore fan to someone who really, truly lives and dies with the season. Partly its the internet- the discovery of blogs and the wealth of info that went up there, the analysis and strange stories of the players that let you feel closer and closer to the team. (Mike Reiss’ old globe blog, in particular, was key to bringing things like Donte Stallworth’s Martian Alter-Ego to the fore.) But more than anything, it was that the Pats were winning.
In 2009, the Ravens came to Foxboro and dominated from the first snap. That’s not an exaggeration: in the first play of the game, Ray Rice took the ball to the house. It was demoralizing, brutal, and a fitting way for a disappointing year to end.
And it has literally as much bearing on what will happen Sunday as what underwear I put on that day.
Here’s the reality. That 2009 Patriots team was critically flawed. They didn’t especially like each other and didn’t play well. This is the team that will be immortalized by that 4th and 3, the play that led a frustrated Belichick to tell Brady “I just can’t get this team to play the way I need them to.” This was the worst Patriots team since 2002, both in terms of talent and chemistry.
More importantly, the team that took the field that day was decimated by injuries. There was no Wes Welker; instead, the Patriots put forth rookie Julian Edelman and career special teams player Sam Aiken as the receivers, alongside perennial disappointment Ben Watson and the completely forgettable Chris Baker at tight end., driven by the backwards running game of Laurence Maroney. All the Ravens had to do was double team Randy Moss and there were no real offensive options for Brady. Meanwhile, the defense was being anchored by hall of famers like Darius Butler, Brandon Merriweather and Gary Guyton.
A couple of beat writers have mentioned this, but it’s worth noting. There are only 16 people left on the 2011 Patriots squad who played that game. On offense, you go from Watson/Baker to Gronk/Herndo, with Welker replacing Edelman and Branch/Ocho replacing Moss. There’s also a running game with Lawfirm/Ridley/Woodhead replacing Maroney. Oh, and Brady isn’t recovering from ACL surgery, a process which took the entire season in 2009. The defense, while inarguably porous, is a more veteran group that is not being torn apart by the sulking of Adelius Thomas and Derrick Burgess.
What happened in 2009 sucked. But these are two very different teams now. Whether the Ravens can win again in Foxboro is arguable, but won’t have anything to do with what occurred two years ago.
(You know what DOES scare me about the Ravens? The fact they have Bernard Pollard on their team. Dude took the ACL’s out of Brady in 2008 and Welker in 2009. We know Gronk is too dumb to get hurt but I feel like Belichick might want to wear protective gear this game. Just sayin’.)
With their sweep of the hapless Orioles, the Sox finished up the first half of the season. They go into the break a game ahead of the Yankees and six up on the Rays for the Wild Card, despite our starting rotation looking like a bad episode of MASH.
So what’s the problem?
Well, we now have four days of All Star festivities. Five days, actually, since I’m watching the Futures Game on ESPN at the moment (Will Middlebrooks, the Sox heir apparent at third, hit a single in the 2nd), with the Home Run derby tomorrow and the All-Star game on Tuesday. And then… nothing.
That’s right. We’re in the Dead Zone. The two days a year when there is not a single game being played in any of the Big 4 sports of North America. For two days, we have nothing to watch on TV. ESPN will show women’s softball while NESN will resort to old episodes of “Sox Appeal.” Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
If we’re strong, we can make it through together. We do every year. But in the middle of summer, a few days without baseball just seems… wrong.
As much fun as watching the Sox beat up the O’s – and Papi completely miss in his attempts to beat up Greggs – it should be noticed that Al Michaels and Bob Costas are currently doing a baseball game on MLB Network.
It’s worth flipping over. And remember: Someone decided we needed Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing most games, instead of guys like these. And that someone is not your friend.