Though I am a proud member of Red Sox Nation, I am also a proud citizen of this country and a resident of Massachusetts. I have already voted today. No matter who your candidate is, go out and vote. This is what you can do for your country. This is how your voice can be heard.
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was a hallmark year for the top two sports teams in Boston. The Patriots went
16-0 and fell one David Tyree drop away from perfection. The Red Sox, of
course, won their second World Series of the decade. Since then, both teams
have headed for the cellar.
Sunday afternoon, when the Patriots were walloped by the Ravens, they showed
that their capabilities this season revolved around dominating weak teams while
choking or falling to good teams. They lacked talent on defense and a
versatility on offense (the Moss/Welker pair does not count as an abundance of
options) that ultimately put them in their place: on their sofas watching the
season, the Patriots lost Tom Brady in the first game of the season and still
went 11-5. While that’s all well and good, a team with a 16-0 record the
previous season should be able to win with or without their quarterback. The
Patriots fell short of the playoffs, but instead of raising expectations for
this season, they engaged in a series of inexplicable moves.
Cassel’s performance in Brady’s absence was excellent for his stock, yet the
Patriots ended up trading not only him, but also Mike Vrabel for draft picks
that they subsequently traded away. They also traded away all of their first
round picks and passed on highly touted linebackers the team so desperately
the time the Patriots showed up to training camp, they were missing Richard
Seymour, leaving only Vince Wilfork as a big name on defense. There was no
talent there, and while Belichick is a defensive-minded coach who does have the
capability to build himself a defense, he simply didn’t give himself enough to
Patriots seem to be in the throes of rebuilding a championship caliber team,
yet they have not taken that last step in finding enough talent to lead them to
glory for unknown reasons. The prices cannot be too high. After all, the Kraft
group just built a majestic shopping plaza in Gillette Stadium’s front yard. So
why the mediocrity?
since winning it all in 2007, the Red Sox seem unwilling to pay or acquire the
type of players necessary to bring baseball glory back to Boston. During the
summer of 2008, Manny Ramirez forced his way out of Fenway, so the Red Sox
brought in Jason Bay as a replacement. Bay was phenomenal in Boston, the kind
of quiet, team player that everybody needed in the aftermath of the Manny
removing Manny from the roster meant the lineup card would be missing the
hugely important intimidating bat. The Red Sox had a bunch of players who were
good, but none capable of greatness the way Manny was. Ortiz has watched his
numbers drop over the last few years, and while Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell and
Bay are good hitters, they do not have the power to change the course of any one
game with a single swing of the bat.
the off-season after the 2008 post-season (where the Red Sox played above their
capabilities before eventually falling to the Tampa Bay Rays), the Red Sox
refused to spend the money to upgrade their team. Why? I could not tell you. All
I know is that the Red Sox began the season with a mediocre line-up, a
question-mark-filled pitching rotation, and a shaky bullpen. They exited the
season in much the same way.
line-up where most of the power is coming from J.D. Drew? No thank you. Jed
Lowrie and Julio Lugo platooning (until Julio was traded and Lowrie was injured
. . . again) at short? Shoot me now.
off-season, the Red Sox are starting to spend money. They acquired John Lackey,
Adrian Beltre and Mike Whoever-he-is, which is an improvement over last year,
but they still have not found that much needed bat for their lineup or a
bullpen that looks like it can hold a lead.
this is just a play-off loss hangover, but it seems that the winning ways from
the first half of the decade are but a distant memory. Sure, I’m lucky that I
was able to witness so many championships in such a short time, so I shouldn’t
wouldn’t complain if I saw a good reason for both teams to low-ball it
financially and put together a half-hearted roster. The Patriots and the Red
Sox have the resources to do more, attract better players, coach stronger, yet
neither team is fully taking advantage of those resources.
I felt the NBA had any redeeming qualities, perhaps I would just move on to the
Celtics, yet I don’t foresee much basketball-worshipping in my future. I guess
for these next 36 days before Spring Training starts, I’ll dwell on my fan-hood
It’s an even numbered year . . . olympics or bust!
Standing at a $165 million payroll, $5 million below the luxury tax cap, there have been questions abound about whether the Red Sox will continue their hunt for players like Adrian Beltre and Adrian Gonzalez. Theo Epstein and Co. answered those questions in a big way today by coming to terms with Beltre in a 1-year, $9 million contract with a second year option.
The Red Sox had a mediocre lineup last season. Losing Manny Ramirez meant losing an explosive bat in the lineup that Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia could not recreate. While Beltre has not come close to replicating his 48 home run season in 2004, he does have the potential for a 20 home run season or more every year. His 8 home runs last season were a bit of an aberration, especially considering he was playing with injured shoulders and a torn ligament in his thumb. Beltre also hits home runs heavily towards left field, so he is sure to make friends with the monster.
Beltre brings quality defense to an already defensively strong team. If the starting infield consists of Youkilis, Pedroia, Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre, the Red Sox will have four golden glove caliber players right behind the pitcher. Beltre’s most glaring weakness on defense is his tendency to not wear a cup.
The years and money could not be better for the Red Sox. $9 million is a decent price for a statistically declining Beltre, who earned $13 million from the Mariners last year. A second year for Beltre is worth even less, which works well for both parties. If Beltre does not improve this season, the Red Sox will only owe him $5 million should he choose to stay next season. If Beltre does improve, he can earn more money either here or elsewhere, giving him the incentive throughout the season to perform at his very best.
The Red Sox also escape an awkward situation with Mike Lowell. Casey Kotchman has not yet proven himself as an improvement over Lowell and Youkilis at the corners, but with the Red Sox foiled attempts to trade Lowell, it’s clear that Lowell does not figure heavily into their plans for 2010. Yet starting Kotchman over Lowell would be unwarranted, as Lowell did prove himself as a solid player when healthy with the Red Sox, even earning the 2007 World Series MVP honors. With Beltre, however, the Red Sox have a more defensively sound, younger, and somewhat healthier starter who is statistically comparable to Lowell over an extended period of time. While the Sox could try to trade Lowell again, not too many teams will jump at the chance to sign a player who has already failed one physical and has had an increasing history of injury. Now, the Sox can use Lowell off the bench more legitimately.
Overall, the Beltre signing, if he passes his physical, can only mean good things for the Red Sox. Sure, they will exceed the luxury tax threshold, but based on comments from Epstein, Henry and Warner throughout the off season, that seemed to be the plan all along. Beltre may just be the final check on the check list for the Red Sox’s winter shopping.
Dear your sir highness Theo Epstein,
The last time we corresponded, I believe I expounded the importance of a catcher to a baseball team. You took my advice last time and signed Jason Varitek, and then you continued to improve the catching situation by trading for Victor Martinez during the season. Both Varitek and Martinez will continue their tenure with the club this coming season.
Thus, please know that I do not believe you must still acquire a catcher. From my understanding, an upcoming deal between the Red Sox and Rangers is in the works. You plan to send my love, soul and cherished third baseman, Michael “Mr. Double” Lowell to Texas in exchange for some minor league catcher named Max Ramirez. Additionally, you plan to eat much of Lowell’s $12 million contract in order to do this.
I am fully aware that our good friend Mikey’s hip is not the most . . . stable joint around, but I still do not think this warrants a trade for a minor leaguer whom we will effectively be paying millions of dollars for. Perhaps you are confusing the name “Max” with the name “Manny.” This fellow from Texas is not, indeed, Manny Ramirez, and thus I don’t see why he is worth all of this money. Sure, he performed well in single-A and double-A ball, but this kid has only played in 17 major league games (where he went 8-46) and hit .243 at the triple-A level. Is he worth almost $12 million as well as a clubhouse leader? I fail to see your logic here, although I am sure, as you seem to be a prodigal general manager, that there must be some logical explanation.
While there are whispers about Adrian Beltre, who would definitely be a more longtime improvement over Lowell at third, the focus this off-season should be on our good servant, Jason “J-BayBay” Bay. Why waste money on getting a catcher (when the team already has two) or a third baseman (when the team already has one) instead of acquiring a highly touted outfielder (which the team lacks)?
You answered my queries last time we spoke with appropriate action, and I hope you can do the same with this humble request: stop the Lowell trade, or do something that will redeem you of what looks to be a huge judgement error.
Yankees suck forever and always,
This is something I wrote for my school newspaper. I can extend this for a journalism class I’m taking, so anybody have any suggestions of what they would want to see more of or improve in this piece?
Gryba the Goliath
by Arielle Aronson
On Friday night at Agganis Arena, 21-year-old men’s hockey senior Eric Gryba scored his third collegiate goal.
A little more than four minutes into the second period, sophomore
forward Corey Trivino led a rush up the right side and into the zone
before passing to sophomore forward Vinny Saponari at the left faceoff
dot. Gryba, eschewing his normal place on the blue line, crept
unnoticed to the right doorstep of the goal. Saponari saw Gryba and
fired a pass toward the defenseman, who tipped the puck in for Boston
University’s first goal of the game, en route to a 3-3 tie against the
University of Vermont.
The goal was Gryba’s first on the season. As a defensive defenseman,
Gryba is a force on the ice, albeit not an offensive one. Gryba’s
checks often leave opponents crumpled at his feet like a heap of dirty
laundry. At 6-feet-4-inches and 220 pounds, Gryba is seven inches
taller and 50 pounds heavier than his defensive partner, sophomore
“He definitely makes himself present out there,” Warsofsky said.
Gryba’s brutish play has earned him a spot in Dog Pound lore as a
caveman-like figure. When he scored, shouts of “Gryba score!” and
“Gryba goal!” resounded through section 118.
Despite the persona created for Gryba by the Dog Pound, the defenseman
is more than just a bear-like defenseman. Off the ice, he acts just
like any other BU student, speaking with an ease reflective of his
affable yet strong-willed personality. This strong will served him well
in his youth.
Gryba grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the oldest of three children.
He began skating at three years old and was playing hockey by the time
he was five. At age 15, Gryba began playing triple-A midget hockey for
his local team, the Saskatoon Contacts.
In 2005, Gryba won his first national championship with the Contacts.
Gryba’s 40 points in 32 games that season, as well as his physical
play, attracted attention from colleges as well as Canada’s Western
Hockey League, a major junior hockey league. Playing in the WHL,
however, would have made Gryba ineligible for NCAA participation.
Gryba initially attempted to play in the British Columbia Hockey
League, even temporarily transferring guardianship to an aunt who lived
there, yet new rules prohibiting interprovincial transfers left Gryba
unable to play in the BCHL. At 17, Gryba had to make a tough decision
between playing major junior hockey and foregoing a collegiate career,
or playing in lower-level juniors in order to be able to go to college.
“Either way, I was going to get my education, whether I got it now or
later on.” Gryba said. “I thought I could play a year of juniors, which
is a little bit lower than playing in the WHL, but after that play at a
much higher level and get my education at the same time.”
“He wanted to go to university and he was pretty stubborn about it,” BU
coach Jack Parker said. “It was, ‘Are you people kidding me? You aren’t
going to go let me play in the BCHL? Kids have done that for 50 years,
and you’ve come up with this new rule to keep me from playing college
hockey?’ So he left.”
BU discovered Gryba while he was playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of
the United States Hockey League, a league from which the Terriers
recruit heavily. BU asked Gryba to commit for the next fall. Because of
the sports-centered nature of Boston, his comfort on campus and the
level of the facilities at BU, Gryba turned down offers from many elite
programs in order to play under the tutelage of Parker.
Entering his freshman year, Gryba was far from the defensive stalwart
he would become at BU. Gryba was laying down big hits for BU, but he
was also spending a lot of time in the sin bin.
“He got a lot of stupid penalties,” Parker said. “He was being
physical, doing what we wanted, but he was playing over the edge. I
think it took him a while to figure out just where that edge was.”
Gryba also had to accept his role on a team where he was expected to be
more of a stay-at-home defenseman than an offensive presence. The days
of 40 points in 32 games were over.
“That’s a big part — accepting the role and running with it,” Gryba
said. “When I was in midgets, I wasn’t a stay-at-home defenseman. I was
a good defenseman, I was physical, but I played a lot more of the
offensive game, too. Starting in juniors and then here, the offensive
game became less and less and I started focusing more on the defensive
part of the game.”
By his junior year at BU, Gryba had made clear progress in taking
smarter penalties and playing a more solid defensive game. Gryba
finished 2008-09 with a plus-21 rating, the highest of his career.
Although he tallied no goals for the Terriers, Gryba registered six
assists and played in every game during the Terriers’ national
BU’s victory over Miami in overtime to win the title ranks as Gryba’s favorite hockey memory.
“Winning the national championship is up there,” Gryba said. “The
parade was awesome, and that actually happened to fall on the day of my
birthday, so that was pretty cool. And then throwing out the first
pitch of the Red Sox game, that was a lot of fun.”
With departed co-captain Brian Strait headed for the Pittsburgh
Penguins organization, Gryba learned shortly before leaving for the
summer that Parker was making him and junior Nick Bonino assistant
“Once Shattenkirk was just the captain, I knew I was going to appoint
two assistants,” Parker said. “It was pretty easy to pick Gryba because
of his intensity and his enthusiasm. He’s a vocal guy that can offset
Shattenkirk, who’s kind of a John McCarthy-like captain — a quiet type
of guy who’s not going to be getting into guys’ faces in the locker
room. Gryba will do that for you.”
This season, in addition to his captain duties, the senior continues to
lead BU in big hits. Unfortunately for the Terriers, Gryba’s 2009
victims include teammates David Warsofsky, who was collateral in a
Gryba hit laid on an opponent, and freshman forward Alex Chiasson, whom
Gryba injured in practice.
“I had a little string there of bad luck,” Gryba said of injuring his
teammates. “Obviously, I’m not out trying to hurt guys on the team, but
it comes with my game. Sometimes, things happen like that, and you just
pray it doesn’t happen again.”
Warsofsky does not blame his injury on Gryba, but he did acknowledge
that playing on the ice with Gryba can occasionally get dangerous.
“It’s pretty scary at times, not knowing what he’s going to do out
there,” Warsofsky said. “You have to be aware of where he is and then,
hopefully, when you do see him coming in for the big hits, you have to
get out of the way.”
Players sometimes try to stay away from Gryba in the locker room as
well. Before games, Gryba means business, but any other locker room
time is open season. Freshman defenseman Sean Escobedo learned that
lesson quickly when he threw soap on a freshly showered Gryba.
“He thinks he’s a real funny guy, throwing soap on me after I got out
of the shower,” Gryba said. “So I took a pair of his brand new shoes
and hid them in the ceiling. He’s looking around for it for a while,
and finally I said I’d give them back to him. I went up there and they
After a few days, Escobedo found the shoes, but Gryba was not yet finished with him.
“[Last Tuesday], he put a chocolate shake in Scooby’s shoes,” senior forward Luke Popko said.
At last check, Escobedo’s shoes were in the laundry.
When not stealing people’s shoes, Gryba is focusing on turning the struggling Terriers’ season around.
“We just keep preaching to the guys, keep working hard, keep doing the
right thing, keep having that effort game-in and game-out,” Gryba said.
“Things will start to click and we’ll start winning six or seven games
in a row. That, I feel, will happen for us.”
Until that point, however, it’s probably best that the Terriers keep
their bodies out of Gryba’s way on the ice and their shoes out of his
sight off it.
Thanksgiving is over and we are now in the throes of one of my favorite times of year: Christmas season! I’m Jewish, but there’s nothing like some good Christmas music, the giving spirit, and hopefully some snow to put a girl in a good mood.
Unfortunately, December means the hot stove is heating up as well. Yes, I said unfortunately. I love the idea of getting new guys, but I hate seeing guys go, and I hate the rumors that accompany the hot stove. I am very, very attached to my boys. It’s always a bad day for me when someone leaves the Red Sox.
This year, JBayBay (it is imperative to call him that) is a free agent, and though the Red Sox did offer him arbitration, there is a very real possibility he could walk away from this team. It will take a lot of money and a good amount of years to sign JBayBay, and Theo isn’t well known for those types of contracts. Theo has, however, made it clear that JBayBay is his top priority.
See, despite the fact that he’s a Canuck, JBayBay is just a phenomenal human being who has earned a special place in my heart. First of all, his name can be skewed to sound like that Hurricane Chris song A Bay Bay (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4tnlRQGyH0). Additionally, he loves hockey, especially the Bruins. Third, he’s a great team player, quiet and productive. Fourth, he’s JBayBay. He can’t leave me. It’s not allowed.
I’m incredibly busy right now with the final two weeks of my fall semester. My mother has made it clear that anything below an A- will be unacceptable. If I had been conscientious enough throughout the semester, this should not have been a problem, but I’m unfortunately a slacker, so I’m racing to catch up in these last seven days of classes. I’m hoping that if I ace my finals, I’ll be able to get As in every one of my classes, but I have to worry about acing them in the first place so it’s going to be great.
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and is doing well. Enjoy the season and people of Boston, cross your fingers for snow!
You would think that because the Red Sox season is over, I would be done attempting to defenestrate myself for the next six months. After this weekend, this is not the case. We’ll discuss the horrors team by team here, since, you know, it’s no fun only rooting for one team or one sport.
Oh the hangovers from national championships! BU hockey has been, well, fallible this year. Most games they’ve been playing just short of wins. They’re really into doing this thing where they shoot the puck a billion times into the goalie’s chest, which obviously does not really lead to too many goals. BU also is a big fan of not playing defense, and not playing in the second period. Because of this, the team is now 3-6. They are in 9th place (out of 10) in Hockey East and completely tumbled out of all national rankings.
Despite this, I made the decision to travel up to Merrimack on Friday to watch the Terriers take on the Warriors. 2007-2008 was Merrimack’s only double-digit win season since 2003-2004. Needless to say, they’re a powerhouse.
BU struggled mightily with the Warriors. Or, well, BU actually didn’t struggle, as they did not show up for the game after the first period. In the words of BU coach Jack Parker, “We stopped competing.” Great, right? The score is deceiving. Merrimack won 6-3, but the final score may have well been 9-0. Additionally, my least favorite player on the team, Colby Cohen, fought two guys. Fighting is illegal in college hockey. He was ejected. This was great, because Colby is a defenseman and at one point, BU had 4 defensemen in the penalty box at once.
BU had six minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage. They didn’t score. Nobody fails to score with six minutes of a two man advantage. Defending national champions do not play the way BU did on Friday night. There was no effort, no spark, no leadership. It was disgusting. I was actually nauseated. After the “game,” the three other people I traveled up there with and myself went to Friendly’s for some comfort food. It was that bad.
Saturday night, BU took a 4-0 advantage in the first period. After that, BU felt that the game was over and it was time for them to partake in Saturday evening festivities. They ended up winning 6-4, but it was more of a “they didn’t lose” than a “they won the game” situation. The good news from Saturday is that two of our injured players returned, including the star and assistant captain, Nick Bonino. Also, BU scored six goals, so perhaps they finally figured out that you need to score goals in order to win games. We’ll see how they rebound this weekend against UNH.
Last week, I went to the Bruins game against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins at the Garden in Boston. The Bs played terrific, shutting out Sidney Crosby and friends 3-0. On Saturday night, the Bruins traveled to Pittsburgh for a rematch. This one didn’t go so well.
The game was hard fought, and the Bruins never gave up. They came back from multiple deficits, most remarkably in the third period when they were trailing Pittsburgh 4-3. With 5:47 left in regulation and the Bruins holding a two man advantage (listen to this one, BU), David Krejci swept in on a Zdeno Chara shot and roofed the rebound towards the goal, where Marco Sturm tipped the puck in to tie the game, 4-4. Three minutes later, with 2:29 left in regulation, Zdeno Chara showed off his hardest shot skills, firing a slapshot from just above the left circle past Pittsburgh back-up netminder Brent Johnson. The Bruins were on their way to another victory.
Not so fast. With 4/10 of a second remaining, ex-Bruin Bill Guerin slipped a wristshot from the top of the right faceoff circle past Tim Thomas to send the game to overtime. The Bruins were exhausted, and a little over a minute into overtime, Pascal Dupuis netted the game-winner for the Pens.
After a good, hard effort like Saturday’s, you would think the Bruins would come out confident and strong against the Islanders last night.
Six minutes into the game, Matt Moulson capitalized on a turnover in the Bruins offensive zone and some poor defense at the hands of Dennis Widemann and Patrice Bergeron to give the Islanders an early 1-0 lead. The Bruins had a chance towards the end of the first to tie the game with a 5-on-3, but like BU, the Bs did not feel the need to take advantage of their opportunity and squandered the chance. Moulson ended up just shy of a hat trick, scoring two goals and briefly getting credit for a John Tavares goal to start the third. The Bruins lost 4-1, and Patrice Bergeron, who has been one of the best players on the ice this season for the Bs, finished the game with a -4 rating.
Claude Julien admitted after the game that the Islanders “wanted it more than we did.” Is there anything more frustrating in sports than when your team does not put forth their best effort? Come on.
Speaking of best efforts . . . I’m not sure if I should title this section The Patriots or Bill Belichick. By now, most people know the story. The Pats were leading the undefeated Colts by a solid 13 point margin coming into the fourth quarter. With a little more than two minutes left, the lead was whittled down to 6. A touchdown could win the game.
On 4th and 2 with 2:08 left in the game, Bill Belichick inexplicably decided to send his offense back out and go for it. Belichick had no challenges left in case he would need them (which he did). Brady threw a short pass to Kevin Faulk who was standing right on the 30-yard line, which is where the Pats needed to get to for the first down. The Patriots got a poor spot, as the referees decided the Patriots were about a yard short of a first down. This gave Peyton Manning two minutes to go 29 yards for the game-winning touchdown. That’s a series he will execute every time.
People are saying that the move says Belichick did not have the confidence in his defense to keep the Colts from covering 70-yards in 2 minutes. However, I believe Belichick has to have enough confidence in his defense to be able to hold the Colts from 29-yards out if the Pats do not convert on fourth down. Belichick is a defensive-minded coach. He most likely has faith every game in his defense, because ultimately, it is the defense Belichick himself creates. Any failure on the defense’s part is a reflection of Belichick himself.
Additionally, why were the Patriots throwing the ball so short? Why are they throwing for exactly two yards? Why not give themselves the insurance of a few more yards and throw a five-yard pass? Converting there is crucial, and they never should have given the referees the opportunity to decide whether or not the play was long enough for a first down. It’s the offense’s job to earn the first down, not the referees job to give it to them.
did Belichick waste a timeout at the beginning of a drive? He ended up needing that timeout if he had wanted to challenge the spot of the ball, because when the Patriots did not convert on third down, confusion about whether to punt or not forced the Patriots to use their final timeout to prevent a delay of game penalty.
The bottom line here, though, is that Bill Belichick made the completely wrong decision. With Peyton Manning leading an offense, you must punt the ball on 4th and 2 with 2:08 when holding onto a six point lead. Had it even been a seven point lead, this may have been slightly more understandable because the Colts would have to decide between a two point conversion to win or kicking the extra point to head into overtime. Going for it in this situation, however, gift-wrapped the game for the Colts, a game the Patriots players worked hard to win. A game that was negated because of poor coaching from one of the best coaches in NFL history.
Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi, both former players, criticized their coach. For them to say things like “this was the worst coaching decision I have ever seen Belichick make” (Harrison) and “the decision to go for it would be enough to make my blood boil” (Bruschi) means that they had to 150% believe both in what they were saying and in Belichick’s complete and total error.
In my mind, Bill Belichick is still one of the best coaches in football history, but this gaffe definitely mars his reputation. Before Sunday night’s game, Belichick was infallible. He was inhuman. He may have lost important games, big games, playoff games, but never because of such a momentous decision on his part. You cannot let one decision decide a career, yet at the same time, you cannot overlook this one decision in judgement of Belichick, because this one decision takes him down that notch from infallibility to simply extraordinary.
It will be hard to get over this game because it most likely cost the Pats home field advantage in the playoffs, but at the same time, the season goes on. This is not Grady Little. This is not going to cost Belichick his job. This is the regular season. Yet at the same time, it is November, the Colts did, by virtue of their win, tie the Patriots for second in consecutive wins (18), the Colts are a rival. This is a game that I will never forget.
Quotes and Patriots picture from boston.com. The other two pictures are mine.