Author Archives: Satchell

Super Bowl XLVI: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly… from the Pats Perspective

I finally feel as though enough time has gone by where I can actually talk about the Super Bowl. Obviously, from a Pats fans perspective, the result is absolutely sickening. However, there were some bright spots.

The Good

There was a lot to like as a Pats fan in that game. First of all, the defense was awesome. That’s saying a lot for this year’s team. Among the brights spots was a healthy Pat Chung. It was good to see him flying around and sticking people all game long. His hit on Hakeem Nicks on the sideline was unreal. I didn’t think Nicks was getting back up. A healthy Chung would have meant a lot to the Pats throughout the year. Hopefully, he can keep himself healthy going into next year after two injury plagued years. His style of play is quite similar to that of Bob Sanders, a guy who when healthy can be a game changer. However, you have to wonder if his uber-physical style of play is going to have him dinged up and out of the lineup on a regular basis. Mark Anderson also looked pretty decent as he was able to get some consistent pressure on Manning. I don’t know what his contract status is, but I would like to see him back to play a situational 3rd down pass rushing roll next year. Shaun Ellis also made a guest appearance at the Super Bowl. I had forgotten that he was even on the team. He was the anchor that helped that D-Line control the run for a better part of the game. I thought that Sterling Moore played a good game as well. It will be interesting to see what role he will play next year with Arrington and McCourty healthy and the possibility of a Bodden return. The best part of the D for me was Brandon Spikes. He was an absolute animal. He was everywhere and he was laying the lumber. Much like Chung, I think a healthy Spikes in the line up on a regular basis makes this a whole different defense. It allows Belichick to do a lot more with Mayo and it helps our run D tremendously. Offensively, I thought the O-Line played really well. Brady had a great game too. The Giants had no answer whatsoever for the hurry up offense and I felt that we really should have kept our foot on the gas pedal and stayed aggressive rather than go conservative as a means to protect the lead.

The Bad

Gronkowski, where were you bud? I don’t want to hear anything about him not being 100%.  It just didn’t seem like Brady was looking for him. The ankle looked fine, especially on the backpedaling reach up catch he made. He also looked rather limber on the dance floor at the post game party He also was smart enough to get up field behind Blackburn in what turned in to the worst play of the game when Brady drastically underthrew him. Also in amongst the bad was the complete absence of Vince Wilfork after one of the best games of his career in the AFC Championship game against Baltimore. The only time I heard his name mentioned was when the commentators talked about how the Giants O-Line was completely handling him. Big Love was also a complete non-factor. When Gerard Warren is playing the best out of all your D-Line, you got issues. There were a couple of bad penalties as well. The 12 men call on the Sterling Moore force fumble was a killer and lost in all the Welker talk was the fact that Ninkovich’s offside penalty gave the Giants a second chance after the D stopped the Giants on third down. That was unfortunate because I thought that Ninkovich was finally getting it and the Vrabel comparisons were finally coming to fruition.

The Ugly

For me, now that the audio has been released is the fact that the Giants did exactly what Belichick wanted and it killed us. He was imploring his D to let Manning to Manningham, which Eli did to kill us. Coaching killed us in this game. Belichick’s decision to let Manningham beat us was a bad one. He made the unbelievable catch, but there were a few other occasions where he was wide open and Eli kept going to him and BB failed to adjust. Bill O’Brien, gone by choice, should have been fired if he was staying on. Why he went away from the no huddle when the Giants admittedly had no answer for it is beyond me. The two penalties mentioned before, the 12 man and the Ninkovich offsides were beyond ugly. The mental toughness and intelligence that are usually the hallmark of Belichick defenses, especially in big games, were replaced by serious mental lapses. Finally, on to the most ugly was the Welker drop. We can’t blame Welker for the game because there were a number of other things that just didn’t go our way. How do you force three fumbles and not recover one? How does Sterling Moore let Manningham behind him and how does Chung not get over fast enough to help out? It was tough to watch Eli Manning do his best Tom Brady impression at the end of the game. It pains me to say it, but Eli is a great quarterback. Not great in the sense that he is going to put up ridiculously gaudy numbers, but Derek Jeter great. Eli is the new Derek Jeter. He’s not elite, he’s not flashy, but he’s just so damn good and he does everything right. He does what he needs to beat you, again and again. Disagree if you want, but the throw to Manningham was absolutely perfect. Manningham made a great play, but you have to admire the throw. He floated it over two defenders, hit Manningham in stride, and basically dropped it right into his outstretched hands. I just puked in my mouth.

The Future

I think that the future is bright for the Pats. I think that the defense really matured in the playoffs. I think that if we can stay healthy our defense will make a meteoric rise. I think that it is imperative that the Pats use one of those 1st round picks on a stud D-End. Carter is old and coming off of injuries. Ellis was a complete non-factor all year long. Mark Anderson is best suited a pass rush specialist. We need a big guy that can not only hold the edge on running downs, but also a guy that can create a pass rush on his own. We have relied on our sole pash frush from our outside linebackers for too long. We need a Ty Warren type to come back in and give us an edge presence. I also think that we need to use the other pick on a stud receiver. Alshon Jeffrey out of South Carolina and Michael Floyed out of Notre Dame are to physical freaks that would wreak havoc on the outside. I have seen a few mock drafts that have the Pats taking one of the two on a few websites. I think we need that outside threat to help open the middle up and take the focus off of our tight ends. I think having an outside threat will also allow Welker to operate in the spaces underneath where he is most effective like when Moss was in town. I truly hope that BB won’t trade out and will use some of that cap space to A. Sign Welker and B. Bring in some elite, NFL ready talent with the two #1 picks. Our rookie free agent projects have worked out in the past, after a couple of years in our system,  but bringing in big program elite talents will help right away (see Chung, Spikes, Mayo, McCourty). All of the picks in the lower rounds can be used to add depth. While the loss was crushing, I think we’ll be back. I think Brady still has some good years left in him and we still have the best coach in the world. From what I understand, most of the team’s core will be back. The O-Line is still all under contract and Koppen will be back to anchor that unit. Adding a studdly outside receiver to our core and resigning Welker will give Brady even more fire power. Ridley looked good and Vereen will be healthy next year giving us a lot of matchup options out of the backfield. Defensively, health is the biggest issue. I think we need to use a majority of our picks on defensive depth especially in the linbacker corps in defensive backfield. We need help at safety big time. I can’t take another year of James Ihedigbo getting burnt and getting hurt every single game.  As bad as the Super Bowl loss felt, I can’t help but be optimistic about the good things to come in Foxboro. We have come to a level of expectation that we will be in it to win it every year. It didn’t happen in 2012, but next year is another year and it will be business as usual. For now, let’s go B’s and C’s and spring training is a couple of weeks away.     -Satch

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My idea for blowing up the Celtics… have Ainge jump on the grenade

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The fact that the Boston sports fans are talking about “blowing up the Celtics” makes me ill. You know what I think we should blow up? I think we should shove a grenade up Danny Ainge’s ass and throw him into the Mystic River. What is this? Rhode Island blasphemy? Nope, let’s look at Ainge’s career as the Boston GM.

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Ainge took over as the Celtics GM in 2003. The first thing he did was sign Jim O’Brien to an extension through the 2005-2006 season. Then he traded Darius Songalia for two second round picks. Not bad right? Then he spun a deal with the Grizzlies on draft night to pick up Kendrick Perkins and Marcus Banks. We all know what what Perk turned into, six years later.. but he was a project. Right away we see a disturbing trend with Ainge. He likes to pick guys that would be projects rather than guys that can come and help right away. Perk was 18 years-old, skinny, and “raw.” He also resigned some bum vets like Walter McCarty, Mark Blount, Brandon Hunter, and Mike James. He also spun a trade with the Cavs for Jumaine Jones. Yikes. Three months later he traded Delk and Twan Walker for Jiri Welsch, Chris Mills, and Raef LaFrentz. We all know how that worked out. He also extended the contract of Kedrick Brown.  To top the year off he traded Brown, Tony Battie, and Erick Williams to Cleveland for Ricky Davis and two other bums. He finished the 2003-2004 season by putting us through the Vin Baker saga, firing Jim O’Brien and his interim replacement.

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Keys to the AFC Championship

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Hello everyone and welcome back from our various chemically induced comas, apparently the Boston Sports List is back in action. What a great time too, especially if you are a football fan. The road to the Super Bowl runs through Foxborough and Pats are ready for revenge against the Ravens. Here are my keys go the game.

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1. Big Love, Big Daddy, and Brandon Spikes need to dominate the middle like they did last week.

Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork were men last week. It was awesome to watch. Not to mention, Brandon Spikes is healthy and the results were both impressive and immediate. Every time Spikes blitzed the middle, the entire center of the pocket collapsed and forced Tebow out to either side. That’s not usually what you would want to do with Tebow, but with Flacco, I think it will work. Flacco isn’t exactly the most mobile quarterback. I think that the pressure in his face will force him out of the pocket. I like the idea of him being uncomfortable and having to throw on the run. Torrey Smith is the type of straight line speedster that our secondary has struggled with all year. Forcing Flacco to move won’t give him the opportunity to keep his feet under him and deliver the long ball. I’m honestly not that worried about the other Ravens receivers. Anquan Boldin is the second most overrated WR in football (Sorry Ocho!) and Ed Dixon was not what the Ravens thought he would be when they let an aging Todd Heap go. Having that push in the middle will also allow Ninkovich and Mayo to do their thing outside and hopefully keep Ray Rice in check on any screens or off tackle stuff.

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2. Getting the Wide Receivers Involved

If there is a weakness to this Ravens Defense, it would have to be their corners. Therefore, Brady needs to get the wide receivers involved in the passing game. Deion Branch had a good game last week. Why? Mainly because our tight ends required safeties to come up and cover, leaving one on one matchups on the outside. That’s what we need to do. There has been a lot of grumblings about Ochocinco.  A lot of Pats fans have said, “They are just saving him for the playoffs.” Hopefully, we’ll see Sunday.

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3. Tight Ends

See above, really. Our tight ends will keep Ed Reed and the other Ravens safeties busy and that should open up some one on one matchups on the outside. Ed Reed will go down as one of the best safeties of all time, however, I’ll take him matched up on Gronk. I’ll take Hernandez on him too. Especially after being hobbled a bit last week, I’m not sure that Ed Reed can keep with him. Ray Lewis used to be able to cover the tight end too; but he, like Reed has lost a step. Continue reading

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Ten Recent Red Sox Observations

So here are a few observations I’ve made on the Red Sox lately.

1. The Red Sox 9-game NL Roadtrip

     If you listen to sports radio, you’ve heard a lot of calls and a lot of guys on WEEI talking about how ridiculous it is that the Red Sox are on a nine game, NL road trip. We’ve been listening about the possibility of seeing Adrian Gonzalez in Right field. How are we going to get Papi the at bats… etc. Today I heard them saying that someone in the league office needs to look at how unfair this is. They were asking what idiot came up with that idea?

   The fact of the matter is Red Sox Nation, our team is a huge draw. MLB and Allan “Bud” Selig knew exactly what they were doing. Let’s bring the Sox to Pittsburgh. Any coincidence that tonight’s attendance at PNC Park was the highest it’s ever been? I’ll take it a step further. Major League Baseball may have wanted the Sox to lose. Think about it for a second, if the fans say, “Hey we beat the Red Sox, maybe our team is pretty good. I’m going to go to more games.” The Pirates sell more tickets and pink hats for the rest of the year. The team makes more money, the league makes more money in the Pittsburgh market, the t.v. companies (in cahouts with MLB) make more money. Genius.

 

Above: Pink hats for sale this weekend at PNC Park for all the fake Pirates fans that showed up for the first time all year when the Sox were in town.    

    Then we’re going to send them out to Philly. World Series preview? Think of the ratings, think of the moolah. It’s marketing friends. You bring these two teams together, ticket sales are crazy, t.v. ratings are crazy, merchandising, concessions, you know the drill.

      Then they head to Houston. Same deal, you bring the Sox into a smaller market, struggling with attendance, etc and you have a few sell outs. It’s also a reward (hopefully) to the Sox for taking it for the team. They get three games to pound on Houston.

2. J.D. Drew… I hate you, more than ever.

     It is time to cut our losses with J.D. Drew. This is been the worst that he has ever been. It’s pretty sad when I care more about Red Sox games than he does. His numbers are horrible and I have literally never seen anyone strike out looking as much.

3. Mike Cameron is showing his age.

     What is this guy on the team for? He can’t do anything. We need to cut, that’s right, I said outright release Cameron and/or Drew.

4. The kids are alright.

     I want to see Josh Reddick in right field for the rest of this trip. If we have to play Drew or Cameron in right, I want to see Reddick in left. I’ve already said what I needed to about Drew and Cameron, but I don’t want to seen Darnell McDonald in there either. In fact, he should go too. I think that they should bring up Kalish. He is supposed to be our Right Fielder of the future, why not bring him up. Then use Reddick as the fourth outfielder.

Above: Kalish breaking Carlos Santana’s leg late last year

5. Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield.

     No, absolutely not. I’d rather see Papi sit. I’m sorry, I love Papi. I love his bat, he was hitting well, but I want Adrian at first and I want his bat in the lineup. Adrian Gonzalez is a gold-glove caliber 1st baseman. He is also one of the best hitters in baseball. I don’t want to see him chasing a looper and pulling up lame with a hammy strain.

6. John Lackey going to the 60-day DL for mental leave

     Remember a few years ago when Zack Greinke, Ian Snell, and Joey Votto went on the DL for mental reasons? We should do that with Lackey. His wife is leaving him, he’s having the worse year of his life. He’s a mess. Let’s shut him down and keep either Andrew Miller or Alfredo Aceves in the rotation.

7.  Alfredo Aceves is showing how important the “long guy” can be

I can’t believe how good he has been and I also can’t believe that the Yankees, who are having serious bullpen problems, let him go.  This is a guy that can start if we need him to, can pitch the seventh if Bobby Jenks doesn’t work out, he can also come in and bail us out when one of our other pitchers gets in trouble early. I think his role for the rest of the year depends on Andrew Miller’s next couple of starts. The first one wasn’t too bad, but in my opinion, the  jury is still out. Miller is really the wild card now. I think Daisuke is gone, if Lackey continues to suck, we need another starter. Miller was a high pick for the Tigers, then went to the Marlins in the Miggy Cab deal. His has a history of control problems. But to have a fireballing lefty is a hot commodity. I think Aceves will stay the long guy and Miller will work out of the bullpen and be our left specialist come playoff time.

8. Salty is finally working out.

     Jared Saltalamacchia’s bat is finally starting to come around. This guy has some serious power and has been hitting some ropes lately. This is comforting because earlier in the year he was taking some of the ugliest swings that I had ever seen. His defense is also coming around. He doesn’t do that stupid split when he goes into his set, which was pissing me off. But he has also thrown a few runners out and (for the most part) seems to have found his comfort zone with out pitchers.

9. What the hell can we do at Shortstop?

     Jose Reyes? Hanley Ramirez? We need to do something, but I don’t know how much more in money and in prospects that we can send anywhere this year. Scutaro can’t reach first base anymore. I think it safe to say that we can hit Lowrie with the “injury plagued” tag now. It may be time to bring Iglesias up.

10. Jacboy Ellsbury is not really a good base “stealer”

     Jacoby Ellsbury has 24 steals this year. He has been caught 10 times. Not exactly the percentage you would expect with an elite basestealer. I honestly don’t think that he is a good base stealer. He’s a decent base runner, but not a stealer. In the past few years, he’s not taking good leads, he’s been fooled  few times by lefties, and he just doesn’t seem to be getting good jumps. He basically just relies on his speed to steal bases, but it’s more than speed involved. Just for some persepective, the year he stole 70, he was caught 12 times. The year before that, he was caught 10 times with 50 steals. I think Dustin Pedroia is out best base runner. He has 14 steals this year. He always works leads, gets great jumps, and you don’t see him thrown out much. Pedroia stole 20 and was caught 8 times. The next year he stole 20 again and was only caught once. This year he has 14 steals and has only been caught twice.

Just some thoughts. Let me know what you guys think.

-Satch

 

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Why Boston Loves Its Teams

      On Wednesday night, Boston sports fans were treated to their seventh title since 2001. Boston has truly become Title Town, U.S.A. As a sports fan, I feel that the way that we have gone about winning those championships has made them all the more impressive. There is a common core to our sports teams. They are all well coached. Our ownership has been willing to spend money and make moves to improve the team before, during, and after seasons. But perhaps the most amazing thing about all of these championship banners hanging from the rafters of the Garden, on banners along Yawkey Way, or hanging from the upper decks of Gilette stadium is the make up of the teams that won them.

     There are undoubtedly similar threads among the rosters of every single one of these teams. Boston, for some reason has become a place where old veterans come to play, hoping that the passion this city has for it’s sports teams and our team’s commitment to winning will reinvigorate them and give them their first or last shot at a title. The best example of this is obviously the Boston Celtics, when a few years ago, three aging superstars united, shed their individuality, bought into a team concept and brought relevance back to the parquee floor of the Garden. How can we forget Curt Schilling coming to the Red Sox and invigorating a talented team and convincing them that not only could they win a their first World Series in eighty six years, but there was no way that they wouldn’t. There is no doubt that the Patriots relied heavily on their group of old men Troy Brown, Kevin Faulk, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, Mike Vrabel, and Rodney Harrison to win a string of Super Bowls. Of course, we can’t forget Mark Recchi and thirty-eight year old journeyman Timmy Thomas leading us to our first cup since the 1970’s.

     Another common thread to all of these championships is our own collection of scrappy little guys that just tear sh*t up. The superstar among this group is Rajon Rondo. Higher slotted teams avoided him in the draft because of questions about his size. He is six-foot-nothing, one hundred and nothing, but plays basketball at times like a giant. His dive, stealing the ball from White Chocolate, and lay-in are the types of plays that these often less heralded guys make all of the time. Although Scal wasn’t exactly little, he was the epitome of scrappiness and he had a cult following amongst loyal Boston fans. Look at the Patriots, for example. Troy Brown wasn’t the fastest guy, but he turned in great seasons as a receiver. He was a return guy and was even playing defensive back during a championship run. Tedy Bruschi, an undersized college D-End comes in and becomes the lynchpin of a Patriots defense at Middle Linebacker.  After years of making plays, he has a stroke, then comes back from it to be as good as he ever was. Wes Welker came to the Patriots after not making the Chargers and being traded, in the division mind you, from the Dolphins. I’m sure we all know what he has done for us. Finally, we have Danny Woodhead, a guy cast off by the Jets that made amazing plays all year. As far as the Red Sox go, we have Dustin Pedroia. At 5’3” (although he is listed as taller) he hits lasers, plays gold glove caliber defense, and is an animal on the base paths. If you ask me, when Tim Wakefield retires, I think that his number 49 should be up with 1, 4, 6,8, 9, 14, 27, and 42. Some of his pitches couldn’t break a window but he goes out there every fifth day and eats up innings and has been doing it for years. The Boston Bruins have supplied us with our latest undersized, scrappy hero; Brad Marchand, the Nose Faced Killer. Who will ever forget him using Daniel Sedin’s face as a speedbag, his bone-jarring hits, or his eleven goals as a rookie in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

     Perhaps the most amazing commonality between our sports teams is the way that every member of all of our teams buys into the team notion. They buy into the team philosophy, they buy into their coaches’ game plans, and even the superstars among them seem willing to shed their individuality and realize that they are not bigger than the team. Pedro Martinez will go down as one of the greatest pitchers of his era, as will teammate Curt Schilling. But they were great teammates. Aside from Manny Ramirez late in his Red Sox career, the Red Sox cast of characters were a shining example of comradarie and teamwork. Tom Brady will be in the argument for best quarterback of all time. However, never once in his career has he put himself above the team. He is a master at giving his teammates or his coaches credit for some of the amazing things that he has done. The original “Big Three” were all superstars and will all undoubtedly have plaques in Springfield some day. They were willing to put aside their individual numbers in order to come together and win a championship. Which they did, with other guys that came to the Celtics like James Posey and P.J. Brown for less money than they could have made elsewhere. Zdeno Chara is one of the best defenseman of his era, but he was given a C on his sweater because of the way he plays, the way that he leads, and his love of this game. Tim Thomas is a superstar, but seems to shun the glory and talk about how much fun he has, how much he loves this team, and how happy he is.

     Every single one of our teams and their players recognize how much we love sports in Boston/New England. They understand how connected to our teams we are, how we live and die by them. When they win they always say how happy they are for us. They, like us, relish “the moments” that were a part of all of our championships. We have Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, Dave Roberts’ steal, and of course Varitek’s shot to A-Rod’s pretty face. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have hit a number of shots that iced games. We will never forget Vinatieri’s field goals or Brady’s game winning drives. The Bruins gave us polarizing moments, in my opinion Thomas’ stick save against Tampa Bay is probably the biggest one. Yet there are other moments that we relish just as much as the game winning goal. I have a picture of Tedy Bruschi throwing snow in the air after a touchdown against the Dolphins on the wall of my “man cave.” I will always remember  Orlando Cabrera’s handshakes, Manny coming out of the monster after a few bong rips mid-game, the spit hanging from Big Baby’s mouth while Nate Robinson hung from his neck like a cheap gold chain, and most recently Nathan Horton not so stealthily pouring ice from the Garden onto the rink in Vancouver. I get goosebumps every time I see the replays, hell I have them right now just thinking about this stuff.

     As a sports fan, looking back on the last decade of Boston sports, I realize that we have witnessed something that no one before us has. For most of us, our grandfathers and great grandfathers never got to see the things that we have. Mine never got to see the Red Sox or Patriots win a Championship, but I’ve seen two and three titles respectively. We are living in an unprecedented time in Boston sports and in sport in general. Never before has any city seen such success over a sustained period of time and who knows how much longer it will last. I like to think that as long each organization continues to do what it’s doing; bring in guys that know and love the game, have the perfect mix of age and youth, and hold on to the coaches in place for as long as they will stay that success will stick around. I know that as a fan; I will watch, I will hang on every moment, and I will celebrate each and every win like it’s a championship because that’s how Boston fans are whether they are eighteen or eighty.

-Satch

 

 

 

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