I never thought I'd say this, but the Yankees just took a big step towards making up for their meltdown in the 2004 ALCS. Sure this wasn't the playoffs, but coming into Fenway and pounding the Sox in 5 straight games isn't too shabby. And make no mistake about it, it was a pounding. When you get out scored 49-26 at home, you simply tuck your tail between your legs, and pray that your family still accepts you at the dinner table. It would have been bad enough if the Yankees just won those 5 games instead of dismantling the Sox and exposing their biggest weakness, pitching. Boston only got 2 good starts in the series, from Wells and Schilling, and neither of them walked away with a W in the win column. The pen couldn't hold Schill's gem, and the offense didn't manage a run until after Wells left the game in today's 2-1 loss. The bullpen and the starting rotation have flat out fallen apart, and the usually potent offense just isn't enough to save it. Josh Beckett has been disappointing to say the least, and the parade of young arms that have been touted all year long (Lester, Papelbon, Hansen, Del Carmen) are sputtering down the stretch, with Hansen even being sent back down to Pawtucket last night. So what are the Sox to do after this epic collapse at the Fens? I said after the All-Star break that they had a lot of advantages, but they haven't taken advantage of any. They had a long stretch against sub .500 teams in which they were swept in KC and dropped 2 out of 3 to the D-Rays. And what about playing more games at home in the 2nd half than any other squad? Well they are 11-14 at Fenway since the break, and were only 11-9 before the Yanks busted out the 5-game broom. I'd hardly call that taking advantage. The only thing Francona and his boys can do now is win and hope. When you put yourself 6.5 games out of the division and 4+ out of the wild card with fewer than 40 games left, that's pretty much all you can do. I expected the Sox to make the playoffs when the season began, but now it's becoming harder and harder to imagine that as reality. I'm not giving up hope, but 9 games on the West Coast usually isn't the cure for a team coming off 5 straight losses at home to their arch rival and free falling in the the standings. And for all of you that were glad Theo didn't make any moves at the trading deadline, how did you like new Yankee Bobby Abreu hitting over .500 for the series and Corey Lidle tossing 6 scoreless in the finale? And one of those guys we were all glad wasn't dealt (Hansen) is now in The Bucket to try and find whatever it was he lost. My guess is it's his confidence, but maybe it was just his lucky pair of Pumas.
Red Sox Update
Last 2 Weeks: 4-10
Standings: 2nd place by 6.5 games
Dr. Woods Gives Another Free Clinic
It's times like these where you just have to sit back and marvel at what you're seeing. That's how it's been the last 2 majors for my man Elderick Woods. After destroying the field in the British to claim major title #11, Tiger put on another clinic at Medinah to best the field by 5 strokes en route to his 2nd major this year and 12th overall as a pro. Having 12 majors means that Tiger is alone in 2nd place on the All-time list, and two thirds of the way to his idol Jack Nicklaus, who has 18. I have to remind myself every time Tiger wins a major that just because he looks like he will never lose again, it's bound to happen. But this time seems a little different. Obviously I don't expect him to win every major from now until he retires, but I do think he's about to increase the pace at which he wins them. I've heard a lot of predictions the last 24 hours or so about when he will pass Nicklaus, and most of them have it in like 2010 or so. Personally, I have him pegged at winning #18 at the 2009 Masters, the first major of the golf year. That means he will have to win a combined 5 majors in 2007-2008, and I actually have him winning 3 next year and then 2 in 2008 before grabbing #18 in 2009. And I've also heard about an over/under for total majors listed at about 25 or so. Well if 25 is the over/under, then let me go on record as being over. While I think he may lose a little incentive after passing the Golden Bear, I feel his competitive nature will force him to try and truly put the record out of reach. So I'm going to say that when all is said and done, Tiger Woods will finish with 27 major titles. Chew on that one for a while, because that's just nutty.
Last Week: New England 30 Arizona 3
*I'll be the first one to admit that you can't take much out of pre-season games, but I have to admit that the Pats looked pretty damn good in destroying the Cardinals this weekend. I'm still very concerned that Deion Branch hasn't signed, but like I said before, he's hurting himself more than the team right now. Hopefully he and his agent will come to their senses sooner rather than later, because we can play without him this season, and by holding out he is only hurting his value for when he hits free agency in 2007. Here are some of the positive things I've seen though as training camp and the pre-season have been rolling along:
*Running back Laurence Maroney is the real deal. Not only has he been tough to bring down, he's shown the quickness and agility to attack the hole right away.
*The offensive line, which spent most of last season in shambles, healthy and ready to perform this year. Rookie standouts Logan Mankins and Nick Kazcur return along with a healthy Matt Light to support much improved Stephen Neal and the line's stalwart, Dan Koppen. Combine these guys with a healthier Corey Dillon and the addition of Maroney and we could be looking at one dangerous running attack
*The addition of Junior Seau doesn't surprise me, not because of who they signed, but at which position. While Seau might not be the player he once was, it's nice to have a veteran to mix in with inexperienced and tentative players like Monty "Holy Grail" Beisel and Tully Banta-Cain.
In the Trenches
*So, Bill Parcells has taken to referring to Terrel Owens as "the player" or "the receiver" instead of using his actual name. And he's also said that until "the player" practices more, he won't see any action in games. Now I respect Bill Parcells as a coach, and I understand that he didn't even want TO on his team, but now that Owens is there, Bill is going to have to change his tune. By being so standoffish with Owens, it seems to me like Parcells is just begging for the star WR to step out of line. My advice would be to try to gain his trust, so when he does have issues with Bledsoe or the coach himself, Parcells will have some past good will on which to draw. If that good will isn't there, it will make it all that much easier for Owens to explode and ruin yet another franchise.
*Apparently, after the cancellation of his wildly popular show "Gumbel to Gumbel", Bryant Gumbel has found new ways to get himself in the spotlight. Gumbel's new job with the NFL network, in which he's scheduled to work 8 games as a play by play announcer, is in jeopardy after he made some disparaging remarks about NFL Player's Union chief Gene Upshaw to incoming commish Roger Goodell. "Before he cleans out his office," Gumbel said. "Have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash. By making the docile head of the players union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch." Tagliabue naturally fired back with comments basically saying that Gumbel was a moron and had made nothing but bad career moves since leaving the Today show. He then added that even while he was on the Today show, Tags was convinced Gumbel was a complete idiot, so he's not surprised that he had such poor judgement in making those remarks. Ok so maybe he didn't say the second part, but he did tell Gumbel he was out of line, as he should have. I mean seriously, how are you going to bash the man who helped build the most powerful sports league in the world when you have a show seen by like 50 people a week? That would be like some punk with a blog criticizing people every week and expecting them to notice. Come on now...
Last Week: 14-5-3
Overall: 207-173-60 (21 games back)
Week 21 vs Borat's Dirty Jews (156-214-70)
*Not only has my team put together two strong weeks in a row, but combine that with the recent struggles at the top of the standings and I may have some life left in me yet. But let's take it one week at a time. This week is yet another opponent that I should steamroll, so let's hope I continue to Take Care of Business.