In December of 1982 I watched a man dressed as Santa Claus vomit all over the counter of a Papa Gino's in the Billerica Mall. Since then it's been kind of tough to wrap my arms around Christmas.
But I tried this week to be as giving as possible in the mailbag. Something for everyone, I think. We limited the Pats talk as much as we could, but we do touch on Randy Moss, Vince Wilfork and if the 4 seed is actually better than the 3. Rajon Rondo is dissected yet again, and Dan Dierdorf makes an appearance and pleads his case for Richard Dreyfuss. Plus I get to release my inner Rex Reed (that could have been phrased better) and list my 10 favorite movies of the decade while taking more shots at "The Departed."
So to the 'bag we go (and as always, feel free to fire away at email@example.com)...
Redemption? Really? One game vs. a crappy team makes up for the defense vs. the Saints, Dolphins and Colts? One game makes up for three seasons of inconsistent play from [Laurence] Maroney? One game makes up for Moss tanking it, giving up on his teammates? I don't think so.
A: Come on, Todd. A little nod to sarcasm, right?
The defense has played well the last two weeks against a couple of lousy teams. Does it mean anything? We'll see soon enough. I don't look at Jacksonville as a real test for the D but if the Patriots can go into Houston (second in the league in pass offense) and slow down the Texans then maybe -- maybe -- it might lead to something. But I agree that in a "big picture" sense we know nothing more about these guys than we did after the Saints game.
The Maroney thing, I think, is different. He should get full marks for what he has done the last two months. Have to be fair, we have done nothing but kill him over the past, what, two years? And for the last nine weeks he has been the player we always expected him to be. Great to watch, and for me the best story of the season for the Patriots.
Moss. What I've written before about other subjects applies nicely when it comes to the tanking stuff. And it is simply this:
A) You don't know
B) And I don't know, either
Only he knows. And it is one thing to blast Moss for doing nothing in the games previous to Sunday (and that would be also be correct -- six total catches in three games). Totally fair game. But it is another thing to call a guy out for tanking. How can you really do that with any confidence? You better be sure. Stuff like this, I don't know.
(Full disclosure: I was going to use a quote from a Ron Borges column from a week ago, but the Boston Herald charges for stories more than a week old. There is no punchline needed, is there? I mean, how is a guy supposed to find the best price on a 1998 Nissan Altima?)
Point is, guys like CHB Dan Shaughnessy and Michael Felger and Borges should be 100 percent sure Moss is "jaking it" before they go ahead with that kind of character assassination. That kind of stuff sticks, so I'm sure they thought of that and watched each and every play a couple of times on tape before destroying Moss in print. Truth is, I'm not even sure these guys actually believe what they are writing anymore when it comes to Moss. But they know it will mean page views and phone calls, so they do it. But there is one thing that you and I both know: If Moss has some injury that will require offseason surgery or rehab, there is NO WAY that any of those three guys will ever write a column apologizing. Three men who I'm sure between them have never once mailed in column. I mean, in the words of John Belushi's character from "Animal House" …
Again, I have no clue if Moss quit vs. the Panthers. But I do know that he hasn't missed a game in his nearly three years with the Patriots. When Brady went down last season, everyone (me included) assumed Moss would throw in the towel. Didn't happen. Forty-six games with the Patriots, 44 touchdowns. Three more than Andre Johnson (one of the three best receivers in the league today) has in his 100-game career. As I wrote Sunday, if you going to get that level of production, you can live with the occasional half-effort on a play. That's the reality of the NFL today. And I've heard stuff over the past 10 days that suggested the Pats can't win a Super Bowl with "dogs" like Moss. OK, I'll buy that. But we can all agree that the Pats are good enough to go 18-0 and lead a Super Bowl with under one mimute left in the fourth quarter with Moss, right? I mean, it must have been his attitude that made Asante Samuel drop that INT in the final drive. Probably his sulking on the sideline that helped David Tyree bring that ball in.
(I will plead guilty to bashing Moss for the sulking, though. A grown man of 32 years shouldn't be acting like Steve Martin's kid in "Parenthood" every time something goes wrong.)
The idea that the Pats miss guys like Deion Branch and David Givens is frankly bordering on moronic. If the 2007-09 Patriots had the defense of the 2001-04 Patriots there would be no complaining about Randy Moss. Moss and Wes Welker are 50 times the duo Branch and Givens were. You take out Givens and Branch and put in Welker and Moss, you don’t think the Patriots win Super Bowls?
What drives me nuts (and again, I have no idea what the truth is here. I haven't watched the game film) is that the same people calling WEEI and wanting Moss out of town will be the first people to call and complain when whatever stiff they bring in to replace him isn't Randy Moss. And I'll give you three guesses as to which members of the media will be doing the same thing the first Monday of the 2010 season after, I don't know, Josh Morgan has three catches while Moss has two touchdowns for the Falcons.
There's not a lot that I disagree with.
Jacksonville will be in trouble, if only because of the cold weather.
A: I think you'll see more of the same from the Pats this weekend. Pretty simple stuff, I would think. A 24-17 kind of win.
(Any thoughts on the No. 3 seed vs. No. 4 seed? I would want to avoid two teams -- San Diego and Baltimore. The Ravens are at Pittsburgh and at Oakland. Want to give them a split? That puts them at 9-7 and probably the 6 seed (there will be at least one 9-7 in the AFC playoffs this year). So do you want the 3 seed and a first-round game vs. the Ravens and then a cross-country trip to play the Chargers? I'd take my chances vs. whoever gets the 5 seed and another shot vs. a Colts team that the Pats led by 17 points (on the road) in the fourth quarter.)
It's nice to hear that Paul Pierce considers Boston his home, and his ideas for changing the game of basketball are interesting and I suppose noteworthy. But between updating his blog and tweeting, the guy is going to have less time for playing basketball and living the rest of his life. Where is the demand coming for athletes to share their thoughts on everything from pizza to politics? And how do we know that these blogs are sincere, and not just another attempt at getting us to buy some endorsed product? Maybe I shouldn't be such a skeptic, but for those of us already tired of shoveling snow, 'tis the season.
A: I've actually enjoyed Pierce's blog so far, to be honest. Do I think that he's actually writing any of it? Of course not. He probably talks to Julian Benbow for 10 minutes twice a week. But it does read pretty well.
The real question is this: If I go to Pierce's blog eight months from now, will the last post be six weeks old? Is he really into it? Because if he is, it could be a useful place for Celtics fans. We shall see. As we at WEEI.com have learned, pro athletes may not be the most consistent bloggers in terms of producing daily (or weekly, or monthly) content.
But I have no problem with athletes sharing their thoughts on anything. If you don’t care what Paul Pierce thinks about politics or music or even basketball, don’t read it. Some people might care, so they can read it. I don’t see the problem with that. If I can write about what I think, I sure can’t tell anyone not to do the same thing.
(But I must confess that some people may need some censorship. How about this Facebook post from a kid I went to high school with: “Sometimes in the darkness all you can have is faith. She is my light, I trust her and my heart. We shall see. On a lighter note, I did 100 pull-ups today.”)
Like you, I am a passionate advocate of " 'The Departed' is the Most Overrated Movie of the Last 25 Years" movement. Every time I catch a few minutes of it on FX, I can't help but think of all the worthier films that Scorsese has done ("Goodfellas," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," even "The Aviator") that should have got him the best director Oscar. In fact, it seems as if everything "The Departed" was acclaimed for rang false for me. Best editing? Most of the scenes seem as if they were cut by Lindsay Lohan after a three-day binge. Best script? There are plot holes in this film large enough to drive a Humvee through. Best supporting actor nod for Mark Wahlberg? Come on! While I have much love for Marky Mark's indelible portrayal of Dirk Diggler, his performance in "The Departed" is one-note and perfunctory, not helped by a terrible haircut. And answer me this: If Dignam (Wahlberg character) is supposed to be missing for the latter half of the film and nobody in the Boston Police Department can find him, then how does Vera Farmiga's psychiatrist manage to track him down? I assume she's the one who gives him the evidence that Matt Damon was the rat all along, which of course leads to Wahlberg shooting Damon at the end of the film. Am I missing something, or is this simply a matter of Hollywood taking mercy on poor Marty and giving him the Golden Guy as a makeup call?
Studio City, Calif.
A: If this movie were exactly the same (I’m talking shot-for-shot, same script, same cast, everything) but had been directed by Michael Bay instead of Scorsese it would have been destroyed by critics and would be totally forgotten today. But people got all jazzed up by Marty and Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio and just ignored the massive plot holes, lazy direction and a performance by Nicholson that was straight out of the Marlon Brando school of late-career embarrassments. Maybe if people took this movie for what is was — no more than a fun action romp, a “Face/Off” for this decade — I wouldn’t hate it with such zeal. But I have had people tell me that this was the best movie they have ever seen. And again, the reviews were almost unanimous in lavish praise. It’s even on a bunch of critics' Top 10 Movies of the Decade lists. Unreal. Subtle ending, though. A rat walking across the balcony. Get it?
Anyway, this is as good as place as any (actually it’s the only place that makes any sense at all) to list my 10 Best Movies of the Decade. And no, the Kim Kardashian/Ray J sex tape did not make the cut, sadly.
10. "You Can Count on Me" (2000) (not, as some had hoped, a 90-minute documentary on the making of the “My Two Dads" theme song)
9. "Letters From Iwo Jima" (2006)
8. "The Squid and the Whale" (2005)
7. "Hotel Rwanda" (2004)
6. "Michael Clayton" (2007)
5. "Almost Famous" (2000)
4. "There Will Be Blood" (2007)
3. "No Country For Old Men" (2007)
2. "Sideways" (2004)
1. "Zodiac" (2007)
And for TV (with the year the show debuted) …
10. "Pardon the Interruption" (2001)
9. "The Office" (U.S. version) (2005)
8. "Big Love" (2006)
7. "The West Wing" (1999-2006)
6. "Mad Men" (2007)
5. "Lost" (2004)
4. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2000)
3. "The Office" (UK version) (2001)
2. "Arrested Development" (2003)
1. "The Sopranos" (1999)
And music …
4. "The Rising" (Bruce Springsteen, 2002)
3. "The Seeger Sessions" (Bruce Springsteen, 2006)
2. "Devils and Dust" (Bruce Springsteen, 2004)
1. "Magic" (Bruce Springsteen, 2007)
Sad but true, I listen to nothing but Springsteen. Only albums I bought this decade. I don’t have the energy to pretend to like Gnarls Barkley or the Killers. I am out of touch. A good sign that I am out of touch is that I am now singing “Out of Touch” by Hall and Oates. Come on, join me.
“Shake it up is all that we know
Using the bodies up as we go
Waking up to fantasy
The shates all around aren't the colors we used to see
Broken ice still melts in the sun
And times that are broken can often be one again
We're soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Take a look around
You're out of touch
I'm out of time (time)
But I'm out of my head when you're not around
Reaching out for something to hold
Looking for a love where the climate is cold
Manic moves and drowsy dreams
Or living in the middle between the two extremes
Smoking guns hot to the touch
Would cool down if we didn't use them so much
We're soul alone
And soul really matters to me
You're out of touch
I'm out of time (time)
But I'm out of my head when you're not around”
Adalius Thomas definitely didn't play very well, but he was involved in two or three of the sacks against Ryan Fitzpatrick/Trent Edwards.
A: Not unfair, Jay. He played better. But I think he could have 15 sacks over the next month and still be gone at the end of the season, though. But yeah, he was as active as he’s been all season.
Had to laugh at the Dierdorf comment. My dad and I were watching the game and thought the same exact thing. Does he really think this is Bill Belichick’s best coaching job? And I don’t even hate Dierdorf, he’s actually one of the very few announcers that I can say that about. But that was a serious head-scratcher.
A: Ah, how my life would be different if my name was Jake. I mean that, really. You know what I mean. Guys named Jake never get pissed when they are stuck in traffic. They can always pull off that Matthew Fox sort-of-beard sort-of-not look. They always have a cabin in Maine or New Hampshire. It’s just a better life, I think. If it had been up to me, my daughter would have been named Jake. Huge head start.
But back to Dierdorf. I really think only one of three things could have led Dan to make such a statement on Sunday ...
1) At least once a game he mentions that a coach is doing the best job of his career.
Possible. Seems like he’s always laying on the love for the coaches. He was a big Pete Carroll fan, as I recall. If someone could locate a tape of the Patriots-Cardinals game from Nov. 25, 1990, it would go a long way toward solving this. Dan was the color guy for the game, and it was a Joe Bugel vs. Rod Rust matchup. If he broke out the “best job of his career” line for that one then we have our answer.
2) Belichick turned on the charm during the Saturday meeting with the announcers.
Well, he is a smoothie, as we all know. He has the media in the palm of his hand. Who can forget the time he managed to sell $15,000 worth of Amway products to Kenny Albert?
3) Dierdorf believed it was 2001.
I think we have a winner. This would at least explain this awkward 30-second exchange between Dierdorf and Greg Gumbel on Sunday:
Gumbel: Tuesday, a pair of drifters with no past give the crew at "NCIS: Los Angeles" a look at their own past. The biggest new drama hit of the season — "NCIS: Los Angeles."
Dierdorf (in disgust): Biggest new hit of the season, huh? So, what, exactly, is “The Education of Max Bickford”? Where is the loyalty? Guess I know the CBS credo. Hump ‘em and dump ‘em.
Gumbel (long pause): Uhhhh, third-and-6 from the 32-yard line….
I think your use of parenthetical asides may be at maximum density sir.
The past two weeks I saw the Pats do something I haven’t seen since before Tiger Woods started trolling Bickford’s for more than just a short stack of pancakes. Win Ugly, Baby!
Just because a team has Moss and Welker on the offense, I don’t need or expect to score 35 points. The one thing that crypt keeper lookalike Al Davis had right, besides trading Derrick Burgess for a third and fifth, was “Just Win, Baby.”
The moo-cow defense returned and so did a sack- and penalty-filled afternoon of football so ugly it made me want to yak on my shoes.
This team used to win ugly all the time. In fact you can make a case that the Pats offense has progressed in a pattern disturbingly parallel to Tom Brady’s lady friends.
First it was Tara Reid. Sloppy. A hot mess. Every once in a while you’d see an embarrassing jugs-a-poppin’ moment. Not terrible at the time, as we had no expectations and hey, a win's a freaking win.
Bridget Moynahan. Effectively good-looking, talented, versatile, you could take her to the White House or a Hollywood premiere and she’d adapt and fit in. Also kind of boring. But certainly, a win is a win.
Then Gisele. Smoking-hot supermodel who, earns, cooks, surfs and is athletic and looks fabulous doing all of it. Now we are spoiled and caught up wanting to have our humble pie and eat it, too. Not only do we expect the Pats to win, we expect it to look fabulous even when it is freezing and windy in Buffalo.
Whatever happened to a win being a win? In the end I realized I don’t give a rat’s ass about style points and looking pretty. Save the style points for date night. As far as a football team goes, I’ll take the win even if it looks like Ugly Betty.
A: I like the parallel from the women in Tom’s life to the success of the Pats, Jake. If someone can dig up a picture of Brady going to an eighth-grade dance in 1990 with a 200-pounder then you may have cracked some sort of NFL version of Oceanic Flight 815.
I need to see the Pats beat a good team this way before I jump on board. Doing just enough to beat a couple of 6-10 teams isn’t nearly enough to take away the stink of the fourth quarter at Indy, the Monday Night debacle vs. the Saints and the Cantonization of Chad Henne.
Jake, my New Year’s resolution is to cut down on parenthetical asides. Way too many, I agree. Of course, as I write this I am watching “Celebrity Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew” and remembering that my New Year’s resolution for 2009 was to stop watching garbage on TV. But I will try my best, just as Amber Smith is trying her best not to wake up in the morning with four members of Winger in her bed.
The year is almost over and I will give you one more chance to jump on the Rajon Rondo bandwagon. I understand that he’s a terrible free throw shooter and talks more than he should, but come on. There is literally no player like him in the NBA today. Fourth in the league in assists, first in steals. Meet me halfway at least and admit that he should be on the All-Star team
A: I’m there, Ryan. I was one of the first guys on the bandwagon. I just don’t think Rondo is a perfect player, is all. I also don’t think it is unreasonable to expect a point guard that signed a $55 million contract to make 55 percent of his free throws.
But he is an All-Star this year, no question. And don’t think he is the Celtics' most valuable player (for me that is still Paul Pierce) but you can make a pretty solid case. He’s the only player in the NBA that can attempt two shots in a game and still dominate (in a win over the Bulls a few weeks back, two points on two shots, but 16 assists, eight rebounds and a steal. In 29 minutes.) Plus I think he’s a legit candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
But a couple of things still linger for me. The things he does well he does really, really well. But the things he doesn’t do well he has yet to improve on at all. Rajon Rondo is a terrible shooter. Just awful. Ask yourself this question: If the Celtics come out of a timeout up one point with 20 seconds left in Game 7 of the NBA finals, is Rondo on the floor? I don’t think he is. To me, that eliminated any suggestion that he is a great player. Again, he doesn’t need to be Mark Price, but even if he turned into an average jump/free throw shooter you would be looking at an MVP-type of player. And right now it’s not the end of the world that he can’t shoot. But when Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kavin Garnett are gone, things will change. He will absolutely have to become an 18-20-point-per-game scorer.
Even though the first drive was a disaster for replacement Vince Wilfork, for the rest of the game Ron Brace played fine. So is it safe to assume the Patriots will let big Vince walk and giggle slightly when the Kansas City Chiefs give him a $90 million contract? Then sign/trade for another 400-pound man for the middle?
A: My gut (which is not in Wilfork’s league, but still) tells me that Wilfork will sign a long-term deal to stick around after the season. I don’t know about the Chiefs, but I do remember Bill Parcells — working for ESPN at the time — saying that Wilfork was his favorite player in the 2004 draft. Thought he was a steal at No. 21 (and was he right). Something to watch in the offseason.
Pats 24, Jags 17. Enjoy the AFC East clincher and the holidays.