Stupid Is As Stupid Doesn’t

What me, the Red Sox Front Office, and Emma Watson have in common.

The new logo for Red Sox Nation

I want to Believe in this team. I also want to date Emma Watson. Fortunately for my love life, Emma Watson seems more plausible right now. Unfortunately, both of these feats are realistically incredibly hard to accomplish. The Trade Deadline looms less than two hours away right now, and one thing is glaringly obvious: in a trade market more active than in recent years, the Red Sox have done nothing.

On paper, they’re unbeatable. This Red Sox team, before looking at records, statistics or anything else, should be at worst a contender, at best a run away favorite to win big now and for seasons to come. Instead, they stand a game over mediocrity with a 52-51 record and 59 games left. Teams have called asking, inquiring and pushing for trades for the majority of our roster. Thus far, we’ve remained sentimental and blinded by what looks good on paper.

On paper, I’m the best boyfriend any girl could ever dream of scooping up. I’m charming, sincere, handsome, funny, intelligent, love cuddling and will watch The Notebook without complaining. However, upon further examination, I lack the now-ever-important six pack (Thanks a lot, Channing), am subtly, emotionally scarred by the terrible relationships of my past, and would happily give up all material possessions and money I have to live as a poor person and somehow change the world. Perfect? Maybe. Practical? Debatable. Single? Yes, yes I am. Thus far, I haven’t even gotten a reply on Twitter from Ms. Watson, and as far as I know she doesn’t have a clue I exist.

Both the Red Sox Front Office and Emma Watson need a reality check: The Sox aren’t going anywhere but golfing in a few weeks because their lackluster chemistry and poisonous clubhouse atmosphere are hurting them. Emma Watson is missing out on the greatest guy she doesn’t know exists, and should really hire some better secretaries and boyfriend-scouts (side note: do you think that’s a real position? Could I actually get noticed? Does anyone have a connection? anyone? Hello?!) to allow me to save the day and fly into her life with my cape, smile and ‘Mr. Right’ headlines in Perez Hilton’s next article.

That’s why I’m proposing two radical ideas: I’m officially moving to England to pursue my quest of being noticed by Emma, and the Red Sox need to sell high on one or two of their superstars to restock the system with the stars of tomorrow who still love the game more than money and simply want to play their hearts out day-in and day-out in order to send a message and shake up the clubhouse vibe.

So to my life in Massachusetts and my favorite Red Sox players, I bid you farewell and leave you with this quote from All Time Red Sox Great Nomar Garciaparra upon hearing he was traded for the betterment of the team on this day eight short years ago:

“They can take the shirt off my back, but they can’t take away the memories”

It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

…actually, I should probably take that advice….

Okay, so, I’m not actually moving to England but, hey, I can dream.

And so can Red Sox fans.

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BREAKING NEWS: Lucic Staying In Boston

Milan Lucic: Bruin for life?

On the verge of a potential lockout and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement whose terms and conditions and are still unknown, the Boston Bruins have made a move for their future. A trusted source told Blind Obedience today that 24-year-old first line winger Milan Lucic has agreed in principle to a new contract extension with the Boston Bruins. Originally believed to be a six-year extension, the source clarified that terms of the deal were still in negotiation, but the deal would be a “franchise contract”, which was explained as a deal that would “allow Milan to play for Boston until he retires”. Because the deal has not yet been completed, nothing official has been released by the team. Financial terms of the deal were not explicitly disclosed, however the deal will likely include a full no-trade clause. This would seemingly end recent speculation that Lucic may be traded, as he was rumored to be part of the potential asking price from the Anaheim Ducks for their star wing Bobby Ryan.

At the end of this upcoming season, several members of the Bruins core currently stand to be free agents, including Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask. This combined with the uncertain future surrounding the rules of the new CBA makes this move by the team even more important. Boston has been criticized by some this offseason for their lack of big moves, but in a recent radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz, Bruins President Cam Neely stuck to his guns, defending his lack of moves and core players saying:

“We do have to be better but I think our players can be better. We still have a young group of core players that can improve,” he added, mentioning Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic and David Krejci by name.

It’s nice to see the Bruins sticking to their young, tough core of talented stars. The Bruins needed to make a big move, and this seems to be step one in what will hopefully be a process of locking up their team to stay in Boston for a long time.

The Girl You Hate To Love

“You love the Sox, but have they ever loved you back?”

Falling in love is easy. Loving the fall? Not so much. Everyone dates the wrong person. You have to, because, if you don’t, you’ll never know the right one. Sometimes, the wrong person and the right person are the same, separated by some semblance of time, space and contingency.  Sometimes, you only ‘date’ that person in your mind. Sometimes you’re thirty, in your parents’ basement, and your lunch still has no crust. Sometimes, you’re spoiled with an incredible relationship, incredible person, or incredible stipulation. Sometimes you’ve settled for less than what you deserve, others you deserve much less than has been settled for. Sometimes you win, other times you don’t. Sometimes circumstance trumps what is earned, and sometimes what is earned trumps circumstance. Sometimes it’s perfect, so it’s not; others, it’s not perfect, therefore it is. Sometimes the world is just not ready for what you have to offer, what you want to give, what you long to love and be  part of. More often than not, the ‘world’ is not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’.

 

And then there’s that one person. Not ‘The One”. No, the other one. The one you’re not supposed to be with. On paper, it’s great; in person, it’s greater. You laugh, smile, skip through meadows and fields and maybe even listen to everything the other has to say and enjoy it. Your chemistry is undeniable, unmatchable, and makes up for the terrible grade you got in Chem 101 your freshman year of college. You have all of these wonderful, incredible and glorious things, until you don’t. Suddenly, the sun begins to hide behind something you can’t see. Laughing is no longer happy, smiles fade away and meadows turn to thorn bushes. It’s as if the world is spinning on a different axis and the atmosphere has completely changed. You’re lost in a place you used to call ‘home’, but this home is certainly not where the heart is. No, certainly not, because the heart has gone missing: ripped out, stolen quite literally from under your nose, tossed aside and trampled.

As you wander along this new, paradoxical world you once thought you knew, you question what you believe. Were the laughs, smiles, skipping and fields true, or just a dream glorified by inception of something you thought you had and wanted? Are the rainbows really what is beautiful, or is storm that brought them to light the real holder of beauty?

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”- Hunter S. Thompson

Just when it appears there is nothing left to hold on to you find hope, no longer abstract and suddenly tangible, and cling to it. Lost in a world they call ‘love’ is a wonderfully, terrifying predicament, depending on the day. So you go back to what you know, or what you think you know, or what you think you once thought you knew, and look for more tangibility. Upon searching, however, you can only grasp to enigma, and, as your only option, you choose to do so. In time this grip loosens and eventually is lost all together, so you fall. On the way down the process is repeated, and to those viewing from the looking glass the efforts have become futile, if not altogether fallacious. You can’t explain it to them, though, because they haven’t yet gone over. So you keep falling, endlessly, repeatedly grabbing at hope, hoping for different results.

 

The Red Sox just got swept by the lowly Blue Jays, are last in the division, and through 96 games have lost as many as they’ve won. Times have changed, folks, but time hasn’t ended. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, don’t call me crazy. Call me a lover. A fighter. A Red Sox fan.

 

When you’ve reached the end of your line, tie a knot in it, and hold on. Hope.

Drink the Kool Aid

“Don’t worry about losing. Think about winning.” – Coach K, who owns a 52-1 record as Head Coach of Team USA

118-78. I guess that’s what happens when you question a team filled with the greatest players a sport has to offer, led by one of the greatest coaches of all time. Team USA was on a mission Wednesday afternoon, thumping the British National Team by 40 points in their third of five exhibition games. And while I don’t exactly think anything I, or any other arm chair coach, analyst or ESPN Expert, had to offer made a difference, it looked as though everything we said, criticized and wrote, Coach Mike Krzyzewski took and implemented a new strategy for. Either that or he concocted his own formula of “Mike’s Secret Stuff” and made his players drink it. So no, I’m not saying I helped make Team USA Basketball any better. But, well, you be the judge…

They Actually Have Big Men

Did Coach K channel Patrick Ewing? The Plumlees?

Okay, so Coach K didn’t import some freakishly tall Monstars…that we know of. What he did do, however, was play Tyson Chandler fewer minutes than anyone else on the team, essentially forcing him to play Anthony Davis and Kevin  Love. Unlike the Brazil game, which saw Davis and Love play a combined 5:35 (Davis earned a DNP), this time around Coach K let loose his secret weapons, and by the time the final horn sounded, they hadn’t disappointed. Both Love and Davis, however, checked in mid second quarter and immediately showed why Coach K had them on the end of his bench, floundering around like dead fish in an ocean of sharks. Almost immediately, Kevin Love channeled his inner Brian Scalabrine, picking up 3 quick fouls that sat him down until the game was far out of reach. This was exciting news though, as Kevin Love seemingly remembered he was bigger than everyone else and that maybe it might give him an advantage and/or intimidation factor. Spoiler Alert: it does. And it worked. Whatever was said to him is worthy of a gold medal itself.

The Transformation of Anthony Davis

The kid has never played pro ball. He is barely 19 and has spent approximately one year away from Mom and Dad. So naturally, playing international basketball against seasoned veterans and old men who have, ya know, seen the world, been there and done that, and any other cliche you want to insert, seemingly isn’t such a great idea, right? Actually, it is. The kid is an animal. When he checked in during the second quarter after not getting any action against Brazil, he did what every other 19-year-old on a basketball court with the greatest players on Earth would do: ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. He looked confused (rightfully so), nervous (rightfully so), but most nerve-enducing: uneducated. He looked like someone who didn’t have the skills to play college ball, let alone lead his team to a National Championship as a freshman, get drafted number one overall, and then replace an All Star on the American Olympic team. And then it happened. When Davis checked into the game in the fourth, suddenly everyone in a US uniform shifted their attention to him. He was getting the ball, following orders from his point guard and suddenly – WOAH! A monstar (see what I did there?) dunk here, a key block there, and all of a sudden he was the same force he was all season at Kentucky, just facing elite competition on an international stage surrounded by the greatest players on Earth. Suddenly, he was one of them. It was terrifying and awe-inspiring all at the same time. This kid is the real deal and a force to be reckoned with.

C’mon, you were thinking it too.

Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemistry

Coach K to Melo: “You’re despicable!”

Carmelo Anthony played terribly against Brazil. He didn’t play defense, took seven bad shots, and missed six of them (and two free throws). Chris Paul, a reluctant scorer who has grown to accustomed to throwing lob passes to the his high-fliers in LA, while not turning the ball over, played an overall poor game. Kevin Durant, the teams best pure scorer and for the time being backup center, couldn’t get going and had to focus all his energy on guarding bigger centers. So, Coach K made a change that hopefully is permanent: pulled  Anthony and Paul from the starting lineup and inserted Durant and point guard Deron Williams. Williams, a stealthy scorer who can get hot on a moment’s notice, can penetrate defenses with lightning-quick agility, and has the ability to pull up and drain threes in transition a la Ray Allen, was the perfect compliment to a starting lineup already stacked with scorers LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Durant. The move allowed Kevin Durant to get his offensive game going early, so by the time the big bruisers came in he was already in a rhythm. On the second unit, Anthony suddenly only had to worry about himself and took higher percentage shots, got hot and played well the entire game, ending tied with a team-high 19 points. Chris Paul’s electric defense sparked the second unit as well, as they set the tone defensively for Team USA who forced 27 turnovers, including 16 steals. And let’s not forget Williams, who took some pressure off the big guns and scored 11 straight points to start the second half for the good guys. A little shake up goes a long way.

They Played Like a Team and Had Fun Like a Team

In their game against Brazil, the US squad not only looked over matched, they appeared apathetic. It was as if the team had come down with a bug that rapidly spread through out the locker room. That bug was overconfidence, fueled by Dream Team comparisons and winning their first game as a unit by 54 points. When the going got tough, the tough never got going against Brazil. Those struggles, though, may have been the best remedy for the problem. In just a few short days, USA players and coaches realized and embraced the value of a balanced attack, a team game on both ends of the floor and the possibility that if they didn’t take their heads out of their gold-sniffing asses they just embarrass themselves and the country they play for on a national stage and lose. Instead of a selfish attack, the Americans relied on each other and put themselves on the line every play, trusting that their teammates would do the same. This strategy proved useful as they efficiently drove to the basket, effectively open the floor for their shooters to take and make better shots. Every player on the team scored, 11 of 12 had an assist, only one player had more than 20 minutes on the floor (Durant, 21), no one scored more than 19 points and six players scored in double figures. They improved drastically in several areas, namely shooting 60% from the floor, 46% from downtown, and having 39 assists on 47 made baskets. When you play like a team, you win like a team. And let’s be real: it’s no fun unless you win.

Drink the Kool-Aid. You’re Welcome.

And to think I ever doubted them. Drink up, men.

Going H.A.M. or…

Breaking: All Red Sox Momentum Ends Cold Turkey

“I can’t say that I’m looking at a whole lot of positives from that outing…” – Josh Beckett with the understatement of the day after Friday night’s loss to the Blue Jays

After a momentum-changing walk-off home run Thursday night to cap off a 4-game series with the White Sox that saw Boston take the series 3-1, things came to a sudden halt very early on Friday night. Once again a Red Sox starter struggled in the first inning, as Josh Beckett quickly gave up two runs. However, with one out and Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus on third after a triple, Beckett and the Sox were out of luck as the Home Plate Umpire missed a call at the plate. Instead of having 2 outs with no runs on the board, the Sox were now down one with only one out. Beckett went on to give up 3 more runs over the next 1.2 innings pitched, which was more than enough for the  Blue Jays, who won the game 6-1. For all his struggles, Beckett as usual settled down after the early going, giving up only one unearned run in his remaining 4 innings.

The bigger story was Jays starter, southpaw Aaron Laffey who despite giving up 9 Boston hits, held the team scoreless over 7 strong innings at Fenway. It was the second time in the last month Laffey has baffled the Sox in the last month, tossing 6 scoreless innings against the club back on June 26th. The Red Sox went 0-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving 8 runners on base.

Winners of 5 of their first 7 games since the All Star Break, The Red Sox appeared to be going H.A.M. Instead, they might just be eating it.

Stay tuned tonight to the interesting match up on the mound between Aaron Cook, one of the Red Sox’s surprisingly most reliable starters to date, and Carlos Villanueva – a reliever-turned-starter for the Jays who has thrown 12 scoreless innings in his last two starts.

Meet The New Guys, Same As The Old Guys

The stars are aligning for the Sox with returns from CF Jacoby Ellsbury (top left), LF Carl Crawford (top center), 2B Dustin Pedroia (top right), 3B Will Middlebrooks (bottom left) and SP Clay Buchholz (bottom right)

As the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches and teams are scrambling to make deals to improve their chances of making the playoffs, the Red Sox are sitting on cloud nine. Most teams are sick over the thought that just one or two little pieces – a corner outfielder here, a starting pitcher there – could drastically, positively influence their (or their rival’s) pennant races and playoff hopes. The Sox, however, have been blessed with immunity to the problems around baseball. If any contender landed a superstar center fielder, a perennial All Star left fielder, an MVP-caliber second baseman, an up-and-coming third base slugger, and a pitcher who when healthy has number 1 starter stuff, they would be the “winners” at the deadline. Now imagine if, somehow, a team acquired all of these pieces. Well, somehow has become reality because that’s exactly what the Red Sox have gotten since the All Star break, with the return of five of their studs from the disabled list or injury.

Ellsbury ((11-31) .355 avg, 5 runs, 3 doubles, 7 games) and Crawford ((6-14), .429avg, .500 OBP, 6 runs, 3 sb, 4 games) in particular have been dynamic at the top of the lineup since their return, while the reliability of Middlebrooks (HR, 2B, 5 RBI in 7 games) and Pedroia (hit, run in 9th last night in first game back) in the middle of the lineup has provided a balance and stability to the Red Sox offensive attack. Combine that with strong performances from Clay Buchholz (14 SO, 0.77 WHIP in 2 starts) since the break, and the Red Sox now have a pitcher to help shoulder the load the offense is currently bearing.

Of course, Adrian Gonzalez has been rumored to be dealing with some secret injuries all season that have plagued his power numbers and batting average, but over the last 3 weeks he has been one of the best hitters in baseball:

“Gonzalez went 2-for-4 and has now hit safely in 23 of his last 24 games. Over that stretch, the first baseman is hitting .408 (40-for-98) with five doubles, three home runs, 19 RBI and 14 runs. Gonzalez has had two hits in the five games he’s played since the All-Star break…”

After last night’s terrific walk-off win for the Red Sox, manager Bobby Valentine said in his press conference: “That’s the most fun the guys had in a long time…It’s a great feeling.”

Sit back, relax and bring on the Blue Jays.

5 Reasons Team USA Is In Trouble

When Kiss Cam is the biggest attraction at a game featuring the greatest basketball players on Earth, you have a problem

Team USA Men’s Basketball took the court for their second exhibition game Monday night, fresh off their 54-point tune-up drubbing of the Dominican Republic Men’s National team that barely missed Olympic qualification. Just last week, Kobe Bryant, the unofficial co-captain of this squad, was once again thrust into the center of the sports world, this time claiming that the 2012 version of USA Basketball could defeat the original 1992 Dream Team. However, after Monday night’s near shocking upset, USA Basketball should keep any dreaming off the court. Here’s a breakdown of why Team USA Basketball may be in for some trouble.

1. They Have No Big Men

Of the 12 players who made the team, only four stand at 6’9″ or taller. One of those players (6’9″ Kevin Durant) can in no way be considered a “big” man (by NBA standards) outside of his height, has a lackluster post game (albeit he is a bonafide superstar), subs in off the bench as the sixth man for their one true center, Tyson Chandler, and is then forced to play either the 4 or 5 (power forward or center) against bigger, stronger competition; another (6’10” Anthony Davis, 19-year-old number 1 overall draft pick out of Kentucky) has never played a minute of professional basketball and sits at the end of Coach K’s bench. The only other big man remaining, 6’10” Kevin Love, is inexplicably buried on the bench (he played exactly 5:35) and in limited play has become solely a spot up shooter a la Carmelo Anthony (who missed 6 of the 7 bad shots he took, and two of three free throws, for the record), instead of a banger on the glass as he is known to be.
To be fair, this team is missing some of the key cogs in its front court with the losses of Dwight Howard (best Center in the league), Chris Bosh (one of the top Power Forwards in the league), and Blake Griffin (up and coming superstar Power Forward, phenomenal rebounder). That front court alone has warranted 15 All Star appearances, 4 All-Defensive teams, 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a former Rookie of the Year. However, let’s remember what’s more important than those three: the big guys actually on the roster: Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and (apparently) Kevin Durant.

The fact of the matter is that our front court got banged, bumped, and bruised by the Brazilians, who boast a front court of serviceable NBA big men Nene Hilario (Wizards), Tiago Splitter (Spurs), and Anderson Varejao (Cavaliers). Their play in the paint limited the American squad to just two blocked shots, as well as out-rebounding their American counterparts (38-30) for good measure. Bryant commented on his team’s performance on the block after the game, noting “We have to do a better job with our rotations on the back side”, but knowing it isn’t enough, as playing a complete game for all 40 minutes of the FIBA competition is vital to victory at this level of competition.  At first thought, it’s easy to give the Americans a pass on their performance, because unlike the majority of other international teams, Brazil features a number of NBA-quality players. However, if this is how they play against sub-par NBA big men, what in the world is in store for this team when they inevitably play a rematch of the 2008 Gold Medal Game against Spain? Don’t forget the Spanish National Team features perennial All Stars Pau (Lakers) and Marc (Grizzlies) Gasol, as well as Oklahoma City’s Shot Blocking Machine, Serge Ibaka, who just came off of facing USA’s best player, LeBron James, in the NBA Finals, plays alongside USA Superstar Kevin Durant in OKC, and alone averaged more blocks per game (3.7) last season than the United States managed as a team (2) against Brazil. This front court needs to figure itself out sooner rather than later.

2. They Were Losing By Double Digits

When asked about their offensive struggles early in the game, James admitted “we worried about our offense early on, which messed with our defense” and inevitably led to the end of the first quarter arriving with the USA squad down by 10. President Obama, who was arguably more entertaining than the USA team itself for much of the game, was interviewed at half time and was sure to mention “I suspect that Michael and Sir Charles [Barkley] and others [on the 1992 Dream Team] would point out that they were probably never down at any point in any of their games” and although he finished that statement calling the 2012 team an “unbelievable talent”, the point was duly noted: The Americans were playing terribly and needed to step up their game. Durant also weighed in on the problem, pointing out some obvious problems: “we missed some easy lay ins, some easy 3s”. Exactly. These are the greatest players in the world, and they’re missing easy shots. Don’t get me wrong, it happens. But the point is that going 1-12 from 3pt range in a half and missing seven free throws in a game is simply unacceptable for The Best. Granted, had they even shot a still mediocre 4-12 from three, they leave the quarter with a small lead. Heck, they did outscore the Brazilians 20-5 (FIVE!!) in the next quarter, asserting their dominance. They have not only the potential, but also the ability to destroy their competition. But if they were down 10 to the Brazilians, who missed a number of easy shots themselves, they could just as easily find themselves down 20+ in the gold medal game to a much, much better Spain team, who also feature reliable point guard Jose Calderon (Raptors) and slightly above average NBA journeymen Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro. Don’t forget that the US team is also missing two of the best all around offensive and defensive players at their position in Derrick Rose (PG, Bulls) and Dwayne Wade (SG, Heat).

3. They reminded me of the 2011-2012 Boston Celtics…in a bad way

So much talent, so much experience, so much potential. Great big men who play small (Garnett [until the playoffs]; Chandler/Love), terrific point guards who can carry the team (Rondo; Paul), but sporadically turn up short (only 11 team assists for the game), bad turnovers leading to points in transition (10 total), and despite all the team potential and ability to integrate the inside game, relied too heavily on shooting (which was poor overall for team USA, shooting 40% from the field, 25% from 3). When their shooting failed, so did the team (despite pulling out a win).

4. They reminded me of the Miami Heat…from last year

Too much of this:

…and not enough this:

But seriously, is it that far off? They don’t run an intricate offense, instead relying on transition baskets and, when forced to play half-court, five-on-five street ball which relies on a one-on-one isolation style, hoping for a good back cut to catch the defense off guard. Defense is the same story: all one-on-one, no system, no traditional help. Instead, they rely on breaking up the passing lanes and trying to make transition buckets, evidenced by their impressive 19 steals against Brazil. However, If you slow the game down on offense, make USA play 24 seconds of defense against you, running around off screens, tiring them out, etc. then their transition game comes to a screeching halt and their one-on-one, “hero ball” style of offense flounders before your very eyes. Too much flash, not enough grind.

5. They played the game like an All Star Game…

Most players will tell you that when it comes to the All Star game, the first quarter/half is for fun and show, and the fourth is where you play to win, which is exactly how Team USA played Monday night. Somewhere the Spaniards are drooling…

No offense to Anthony Davis but, well, God Bless America. Please.