You’ll get a bye week mailbag and like it.
Sorry, but two stress-free games and a week off equal a 'bag that may not be as Patriots-heavy as the last few weeks, but not to worry. We tackle the Pats (pause for huge laughter) a little as I’m accused of not being able to quit Tom Brady. We also debate the value of Rajon Rondo, draft Goldie Hawn over Kate Hudson, figure out where S.D. Jones should rank on the jobber scale and get to play ombudsman and act superior to the producers of Dennis & Callahan.
All that and, yes, a little Clown Shoes. So to the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to email away at email@example.com).
Take a stand, would you? After the Baltimore game it was “The Pats can win the Super Bowl.” After the Jets it was “Hello 8-8.” Now they win two games by a combined score of 100,0000 to 4 and you’re not really sure what kind of team this is. Like one of the guys wrote last week, time to grow a set. Show some stones right now and predict if this team is going to win the Super Bowl. Enough with the hemming and bull--it.
A: Not well known, but “Hemming and Bull--it” was the working title for Bob Eubanks’ autobiography, which was later released under the more sensible “It’s in the Book, Bob!” One of the few books that gets better the fourth and fifth time you read it.
I think I’ve been OK with the Pats this year, Tim. Pretty consistent. For the last four weeks or so, I’ve put them in the group that has a chance to win the Super Bowl. One of the half-dozen. But slapping around two lousy teams does nothing for me. Sure, it means they can still put up 50 points, but does anyone think they’ll be able to do that at Indy or Pittsburgh in January? Or even at Denver? Of course not.
Stone-showin’ time, I guess. Works out well, as I will once again be Dirk Diggler for Halloween. Gun to my head, does this team win the Super Bowl this year? For me, the answer is “no.” Why? I think the defense is a year away and the Pats haven’t shown that they can run the ball. I think the Colts and Steelers are better teams (though I think that’s about it. On a neutral field I’d take the Pats over anyone else.) Not by much, but by enough. I don’t see this team winning two road games against Denver, Indy or Pittsburgh. And that’s what will have to happen in all likelihood — tough to see the Pats doing any better than the 3 seed in what will be a brutal AFC playoffs. No kidding, Baltimore could miss the postseason and I could make a case that the Ravens are as good as any team in the NFC. So, yeah, I think this isn’t the year. I think they win a 3-6 game at home, beat Denver in the second round and lose a close one at Indy in the AFC title game. But I reserve the right to change my mind (kidding, sort of.)
I agree that the Titans and Bucs suck, but it's not like they were squeaking by, 13-10. Give them a little credit. Plus, how can you write that thing last week about Tom Brady? According to you, these games don't matter. How can Brady have a historic game during a meaningless game?
A: Full credit to the Pats, Todd. They looked great in the snow and pretty good in London. I thought they were as sloppy as a team can be while destroying an opponent. Those two picks by Brady particularly. It’s all laughs when he does it against the weak sisters, but that kind of junk kills you vs. the Colts.
I’ll confess to getting caught up in the moment with the Brady love letter last week, but to put up those kind of numbers in the snow and wind is great, great stuff. Would it have meant more against the Steelers? Sure. But this wasn’t so much about the opponent as it was the moment. Does that make any sense?
God, you love Brady. Funny, why didn’t I read about the two INTs against the Bucs, including one in the end zone that was about the worst he’s ever thrown. Is it the eyes? The chin? The poise?
A: Dave is a huge Jets fan (he sent me an e-mail after Week 2 predicting the Jets would finish 14-2 and the Pats 6-10) and a world-class Brady hater, but he’s not the only one to suggest that perhaps I wouldn’t be opposed to booking a weekend at Brokeback with Brady. What can I say? The end zone pick, while not the worst of his career (that would be the falling-down, no-look pick in that crazy Monday night loss at Miami in 2004) is somewhere in the top five or six. He’s been up-and-down so far this season, but my point all along has been that we’ve seen enough to know that the pre-Pollard Brady still exists. And, yes, there is a post-Pollard Brady that has surfaced frequently as well. I just think he looks pretty close to the old Brady the last two weeks (throw out those two picks on Sunday — I know, I know — and he’s 23-for-30 for 308 yards and three TDs.) If you want me to say that means nothing in the grand scheme of winning the Super Bowl, I’ll agree. He has to show it against a top defense. I’m on board with that. But I stand by his game vs. the Titans as a signature Brady game.
And it’s the eyes, Dave ... and he’s just a fishing buddy.
I like your weekly Pats column. Funny and well thought-out (I laughed out loud at "The Amazing Race" reference.) But just a minor criticism. You spend a couple of hundred words a week on Laurence Maroney. Why? We know what he is by now, don’t we? He’ll have a good game every month or so but the rest of the time he’s going to stink. I just think you (and me as a reader) would be better served focusing on some other players or coaches. Just a thought.
A: Done, Mike. How about a six-week ban?
There’s still something kicking around in my head that thinks Maroney could still be the guy everyone thought was going to be a can’t-miss star after 2006. He’s done nothing to support such a thought, save for an occasional run here and there. But with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor out and Kevin Faulk in his usual role of “part-time back being kept fresh until really needed,” there is a real need for someone to step up and take over as The Guy. Not 30 carries a game (not needed in this offense) but somewhere in that 16-20 range. And with apologies to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I still think Maroney is the best bet for that job. Will that happen? Probably not (I’d bet on more nine carries, 34-yard games from Maroney), but it’s something to watch over the next couple of weeks. I think it’s his best back-to-back weeks in two years, whatever that’s worth.
Has anybody checked out the hated Colts and their schedule? They will be undefeated when the Pats visit, and if the Pats don’t beat them then they will run the table.
A: Could happen, Czar. Can’t believe how easy the Colts' schedule is this season. After the New England game I see three chances for Indy to get picked off: at Baltimore in Week 11, at Houston in Week 12, and home vs. Denver in Week 14. But they’ll be favored to win all three games. I think they’ll drop a game somewhere, but I’d be surprised if they finish the season anything worse than 14-2.
This is why you can’t get too into looking at a schedule before Week 1 and predicting wins and losses. I think that before the season started a lot of people thought that the Pats' toughest game before the bye would be home vs. Tennessee and the easiest game would be at Denver.
(And if the Colts win the Super Bowl this season I think you have to reopen the Brady vs. Manning debate. I’m not sure that one Super Bowl makes up for a pretty clear edge statistically plus what will be at least a 3-1 lead in MVPs. It’ll be an interesting couple of years from Manning as he chases both Brett Favre for most career passing records and Jim Sokolove for most appearances in terrible commercials.)
"... some Steve Phillips (Kazmir for Zambrano doesn’t seem so bad now, huh?)."
If I'm not mistaken, I believe it was Jim Duquette that made that trade and not Phillips. Granted, it wouldn't surprise me if he made a move like that, so I can see how that mistake would be made.
A: Nope, it was Duquette. One for the Moron File.
What’s with the “Kazmir for Zambrano” line and Steve Phillips in the same sentence? Phillps may be a moron, a horrible baseball analyst, a philanderer and lousy former GM, but he did not make that trade. That honor belongs to Jim Duquette. You should know this.
A: Got it, Tom. But in my defense, I’m not so sure something as insignificant as the truth should get in the way of my trying to cram a mediocre joke into a column at the last minute. Just saying. Speaking of l’affaire Phillips ...
As a fan of WEEI.com I was a little disappointed that you chose to show all those pictures of the intern that had an affair with Steve Phillips. Even worse, there were hundreds of comments under the photos that really had some terrible things to say about a young woman that, yes, made a mistake but wasn’t the one that cheated on a spouse. I enjoy reading your work, as well as Rob Bradford, Chris Price, Alex Speier and others,, but I do think that this was an unnecessary move toward TMZ and other sleaze that is beneath your site.
A: In case you missed it (and you probably didn’t), the producers of D&C put up a bunch of pictures of Brooke Hundley last week. I’m not sure how this happened, but it seems that we were the only ones that initially had the photos. And yes, the comments after were brutal. And yes, if I had a blog on the site and someone gave me the photos, I’d probably pass on running with it. That being said? I have ZERO problem with it on our site. Why? Couple of reasons …
1. She’s 22 years old and made her own bed, so to speak. I’d feel bad if she were just some girl that got caught up in the middle of an affair, but she
A) wrote a letter to Phillips’ wife that included statements such as “He enjoys me because I have more of a passion and drive to really do something with my life,” and “We text all day when he’s at work and talk via hotel phones on the road,"
B) Struck up a bogus Facebook friendship with Phillips’ 16-year-old son in order to find out information about the family, and
C) Showed up at their house to confront Marni Phillips over the whole deal after weeks of text messages and phone calls to her. My point, I guess, is this isn’t Madame Curie we’re talking about here.
2. We don’t like to admit it, but in the 2009 world this is a sports story. A lead baseball analyst for “Sunday Night Baseball” loses his job for the same reason that played a key factor in his firing as Mets GM? That’s a story. Plus, if ESPN wants to be known as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” then it better expect to be covered like it.
3. I don’t think that WEEI.com has ever claimed to be home of moral virtue. Sure, guys like Alex and Rob and Chris and Paul Flannery are terrific beat writers and give WEEI.com a “straight news” feel that I think is the dominant voice for the site, but there is a place for some of the lighter stuff that you find on some of the Deadspin-type sites. Let’s try to remember, also, that we are part of the radio station, a station that will spend time on a story like this. We aren’t the Wall Street Journal, in case you haven’t noticed. But we aren’t TMZ either. The truth is that we run very little of that kind of stuff. That’s good. Our strength is actually covering and analyzing the games. But once in a while some other stuff will get run, and there is room for that also.
(Look, am I dying to say that this girl went into this with her eyes wide open and that if she didn’t want this level of ridicule she should have had an affair with an assistant manager at the Bristol Subway and not a public figure? No comment. Hey, Phillips is the worst kind of scum, but I really have a hard time mustering any sympathy for Hundley. I’m just pissed that Joe Morgan might be all alone in the booth next season. Phillips was no Jon Gruden, but at least he’d challenge Li'l Joe every once in a while. She should have thought of THAT before she started texting and writing letters.)
Did you see this story about Rondo?
Sounds like he might be going the Shawn Marion route -- forcing his way out of town so he can be the top guy on a crappy team.
A: Look, I understand Rondo is an all-world defender and maybe one of three guys in the NBA that can throw a 12-16-16 line at you, but there is no way — no way — that I would ever give him a max contract. Ask yourself these three questions:
1. If Rajon Rondo is your best player, do you have a shot at winning an NBA title?
2. Do we have any proof — any — that Rondo could be the kind of player he has been the past two seasons if Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t around (which of course they won’t be for nearly all of Rondo’s max contract?)
3. Has there ever been a “great” player that opposing defenses, at times, simply ignore?
If you answered “no,” “no” and “no,” then you’ve got your answer.
And this isn’t a knock on Rondo (well, I guess it kind of is, but you know what I mean.) He does some things as well as any player in the league. But there are still huge weaknesses is in his game, and the “I’ve already accomplished all I need to accomplish to be seen as a great player” vibe that he gives off is more than a little troubling. I just can’t give him $85 million. If I’m Danny Ainge, I can stomach maybe five for $50 mil, but nothing more. And if that’s not enough and Rondo wants to sign with Memphis or wherever for the max, then what can you do? The truth is that he has already been good value for the 21st overall pick.
Great job on the column and mailbag. Your insight is always a refreshing change of pace. Unlike Todd, I'm actually a fan of your Top 10 lists. Since Mark McGwire refuses to talk about anything from the past, I'm wondering what words of wisdom he might be willing to share with the Cardinals hitters. Can you speculate the top pieces of advice he might offer [Albert] Pujols?
A: I can just see it now …
Colby Rasmus heads back into the dugout after striking out against Johan Santana. He makes his way to the end of the bench where all 145 pounds of Mark McGwire sits.
Rasmus: Fooled me.
Rasmus: What did you used to do against a guy with a tough changeup?
McGwire: I’m not here to talk about the past.
Rasmus: Um, isn’t that kind of a big part of your job? Didn’t you ask your old hitting coaches about their playing days, what they would do in certain situations?
McGwire: I’m not here to talk about the past.
Rasmus: (slowly walking away) Got it, thanks Mac.
Tony La Russa walks over, takes a drink of water.
La Russa: Good lunch today, huh Big Mac? How was your sandwich?
McGwire: I’m not here to talk about the past.
La Russa: Great. That’s what I like to hear …
Boy, I wouldn’t want to be the guy on the Cardinals that has a random power spike in 2010. I’m rooting for Skip Schumaker to hit eight homers in March.
I’m so down on La Russa. He has done nothing but blast Bob Woodward Canseco over the last five years while acting like McGwire is a victim. I’m not saying that McGwire is a bad hire — he could be turn out to be a terrific hitting coach. But he better be ready to talk that first day of spring training. Unless he’s a total dope, he’ll give the press enough to give him some space. But if he plays the “I’m not here to talk about the past” act then it’s going to be a long season.
(And, yes, once again I make a plea for Pete Rose. Put him on the Hall of Fame ballot. I don’t want him anywhere near the game in any real capacity, but tell me why what he did was worse than what McGwire did? It’s been 20 years. At least let the voters decide.)
I agree with you. You have to be happy with 8-4 and those three AFC East wins over the next five games. I’d take my chances as the third or fourth seed in the playoffs.
A: That’s the thing, Ryan, while I don’t think they can beat both Indy and Pittsburgh on the road, I do think it is possible that either of those teams could get picked off by a 5 or 6 seed. You’re telling me it’s impossible that the Chargers or Ravens could go into Indianapolis and win a game? That’s the kind of break the Pats would need, I think, to get back to the Super Bowl as a 3 or 4 seed.
To quote Paulie from "Rocky IV," “Are you nuts?” Don’t compare Iron Mike Sharpe to S.D. Jones. S.D. was at least a tier or two higher on the “jobber scale.” He was Andre’s tag-team partner in the infamous “Hair Cut Match” and wrestled at WrestleMania I. Mike Sharpe would just take his jacket off and lose to The Missing Link every Saturday. Come on, no comparison.
A: Well, if we are really going to get into it, let’s at least be accurate, Matt. S.D. Jones was part of WrestleMania I, but losing to King Kong Bundy in NINE seconds (though, to be fair, Bundy did not ask for the five count) isn’t exactly going to remove you from the Jobber Hall of Fame. But I get the point, I guess. S.D. is a notch higher, at least. In the 1982 WWF world, would S.D. Jones beat Mike Sharpe? I think he would, yes. Probably seven times out of 10. Throw in the fact that he had an action figure and Sharpe didn’t, and I’ll move him out and put Barry Horowitz in. Good enough, Matt? But Jones falls short in the two categories that were a must to be at least considered at least a mid-carder in the 1980s — no finishing move and no appearances on “Piper’s Pit.” But let’s move on.
What?!? No Pats game, no Food Network recipe for Au Jus Kerry Byrne this week? Reason for concern: If the Pats don’t play a game, I am forced into a weekend of Steak-umms and Red Baron pizza.
Cold Hard Kerry gave us a week-by-week dossier of buzz-word analysis for all remaining Pats opponents. Regarding the Saints and Colts … couldn’t agree with you more, lunch box. I think the majority of New England has no bleeping clue how good both of those teams have looked on defense. I suspect that an improving Patriots defense is going to have its temperature taken circa the 2001 St. Louis Rams regular season. One of those instances where the Pats are weighed and measured and found to be just a hair below the mark ... for now. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the young defensive backfield learn from the first shootout what it needs to win the second. Either way, I am fascinated to see guys like [Darius] Butler and [Brandon] Meriweather tested against two of the league's best. I don’t expect them to hold either team under 14 points, but if the Pats jump on New Orleans early, I wouldn’t expect a collapse of Dolphinian proportions, either.
One thing for lunch box to consider regarding the “pathetic, loathsome Red Sox fans incapable of rational analysis of their team's capabilities” — It ain’t 2001 any more, and Yankees fans for the last eight years have sounded just that irrational the entire time. Hell, my brother just returned from being stationed in Germany to hear this year's incarnation of Yankees douchebags and thought based on attitude alone the Pinstripes must have won five of the last six World Series.
I don’t think Pink Sox Nation is the same since ’04, and the analogy to the Jets is absolutely terrible. Even when the Pink Sox and Yankees fans are sounding like clowns, the players have never been caught up in it. That Jets TEAM was acting like it won the Super Bowl, which is entirely more alarming to me than four drunk chicks on the B train with Ellsbury jerseys and BoSox tramp stamps acting the fool while on their way to the “Fenway stadium.” Teams like that typically cannot sustain that level of play consistently over the course of a season or playoff run, when you are more pumped and jacked than Pete Carroll after a round of Vince McMahon's “power shakes.”
I think you tend to make mental mistakes, which both [Mark] Sanchez and [Rex] Ryan have proven are they are prone to. Sanchez may grow out of it, whereas Ryan appears to be pushing maximum density as it is.
Beyond that, my one and only statement regarding a Phillies/Yanks World Series is that it is like a choice between rooting for scabies or head lice. I couldn’t watch this series without a scrub brush.
A: Speaking of Yanks/Phillies, It’s 15 minutes into the pregame for Game 1 and I’ve already vomited six times. No kidding. And that’s before my first look at Joe Buck. By the third inning I may be reaching “Karen Carpenter in 1982” levels.
I’m getting some of the same stuff from Yankees fans, Jake. Listening to them, you’d think A-Rod has three World Series MVPs. My brother-in-law told me after Game 6 of the ALCS that “this win puts 2004 to bed forever.” Really? How does that work?
But to be fair, Red Sox fans have been equally unbearable over the last six years or so. It’s just that the Yankees fan now has a reason to stick his chest out.
(And is it me or does Kate Hudson looked a little worn-out for a 30-year-old? Lot of miles on those tires. A lot of 250-inning seasons. If A-Rod is still with her in, say, 2012, I’ll be stunned. When Goldie Hawn was 30, it was 1975 and she still had that thing going that made her Goldie Hawn. I’d even argue it was her peak. Rent “Shampoo” and I think you’ll agree. The truth is that Kate already looks more like “The Banger Sisters” Goldie than “Protocol” Goldie. And that doesn’t bear well if you’ve got eight years in your Kate/A-Rod couples pool. )
Enjoy your bye weekend.