Monday, October 12, 2009

SportsCenter's Top 10 Things ESPN Can Do to Keep Mentioning the Red Sox Even Though They're Out of the Postseason

It's no secret that there's a Mariana Trench-sized gap left in the SportsCenter and ESPN programming schedule in general now that their beloved Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs.  Luckily for the Worldwide Leader, that fateful event happened on a Sunday, allowing them the benefit of conveniently burying the coverage of the Sox's beatdown and the Yankees' triumph underneath 30-40 minutes of regular season NFL coverage.   This actually benefited them two-fold: one, it allowed even more time for ESPN's gaggle of football "analysts" to verbally jerk off Brett Favre, and two, it gave Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian time to stop crying in each other's arms and regain their composure for Baseball Tonight. 

But the fact still remains that the ESPN baseball cupboard is bare without the Sox, so here's their plan to keep the Sox at the forefront of their postseason coverage in tonight's SportsCenter Top 10, sponsored by Miller Lite.  Great Taste, Less Filling.

10) Focus on Pedro Martinez's performance throughout the remainder of the postseason, since he is the most prominent former Red Sox player still in the postseason.

9) Pay the Red Sox to have Bill James come up with new formulas that can sabermetrically prove that Boston actually won their ALDS series against the Angels.
8) Break down Jonathan Papelbon's career stats against Mariano Rivera's to show that, by the time he retires, Papelbon will be remembered as the greatest closer that ever lived.
7) Have a 2-hour Baseball Tonight Special where Karl Ravech, John Kruk, Tim Kurkjian, and Peter Gammons all break down Red Sox players chances of winning every single award from MVP to Cy Young to Rookie of the Year to Comeback Player of the Year (even though it's already been awarded) to awards that don't even exist but were created by ESPN for the sole purpose of being able to give them to Red Sox players.
6) Force all ESPN temps and interns into a small conference room and give them only water and bread until they discover 20 random, quirky, unimportant baseball stats or records that the Red Sox set this year for Tim Kurkjian to orgasmically yelp about on the next installment of "Coors Light Cold Hard Facts."
5) Blatantly replace every hat on every baseball player's headshot for the remainder of the playoffs with a Red Sox hat.

4) Show old footage of Papelbon closing out a game against the Angels from last year's playoffs and pass it off as what happened on Sunday so they can pretend Game 4 is actually tomorrow night. Secure an interview with Terry Francona where he is asked who his starter will be for Game 4 to really sell the ruse.

3) Work mentions of and comparisons to the Red Sox into coverage of other players and teams and topics that ESPN has a hard-on for, i.e.- Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.

2) Cancel next week's Monday Night Football Game and have Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski call the play-by-play and provide commentary for a replay of the 2004 ALCS Game 4.

1) Replace the remainder of the "ESPN: 30 For 30" specials with a new, 1-hour, 29-week series devoted to the story of Jon Lester miraculously recovering from cancer.
Or they could just get over it and focus on the fact that the Yankees are the best team in baseball, have been for the majority of the season, and are the clear cut favorites to win the World Series and would have still been the favorites even if the Red Sox were still in the playoffs.
Don't fight it, ESPN, let your hate out.  Give in to  the powers of the Dark Side...

Let Us Know How The Courses Are Playing

The thrill of victory.

The agony of defeat.

No dancing around in your compression shorts?  No cigar?  No Dropkick Murphys?  What happened, little buddy?

Seriously though, Jon, you did the right thing.  It would have been even more embarrassing to get torn apart by the Yankees for a fourth series in a row.  Deep down you know that and your team knows that.  Dustin Pedroia may have said he wasn't ready for the series to be over yesterday, but you clearly were.  So enjoy the rest of the postseason from the armchair.  Watch Mo and take some notes, asshat.

AB4AR's Week 5 NFL Wrap-Up

Week 5 Recap

Cincinnati 17 Baltimore 14

Cincy's offense surprisingly dominated by racking up 413 yards and holding down Joe Flacco and what had been an explosive Ravens' offense as the Bengals vaulted to the top of the AFC North, knocking Baltimore down a few pegs in the process. Carson Palmer is suddenly the king of the 4th-quarter comeback drive for the Bengals who make the "Hard Knocks" curse look more and more obsolete each week. Any if anybody says they had the Bengals at 4-1 and atop the division after 5 weeks, they're fucking lying.

Carolina 20 Washington 17

Jake Delhomme actually completed more passes to his team than the opposition this week and Carolina's defense got the remedy it needed to get back on track by facing the bumbling Redskins and soon-to-be-official bust, Jason Campbell. Washington just never seems to stay consistent, even within games; every week they find a way to blow games they are leading and come back to win games they're losing.

Philadelphia 33 Tampa Bay 14

Donovan McNabb showed no rust in his return to the lineup (see how it's done, Tom Brady?) as the Eagles ransacked Tampa. Jeremy Maclin's 6 catches, 142 yards, and 2 TDs helped McNabb's cause. Kellen Winslow was given the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart after the game for his soldier-like 9-catch, 102-yard, 2TD performance in defeat.

NY Giants 44 Oakland 7

Oakland is absolutely pathetic. They would lose by fewer points if they just forfeited each game at the beginning. Head Coach Tom Cable should probably think about threatening to kill himself rather than his assistants after the way his team has performed in the early season. It's not often you see an NFL game playing out like a USC-San Jose St. game (QB only playing the first half; RB gaining 110 yards and 2TDs on just 11 carries).

Minnesota 38 St. Louis 10

Turnovers actually killed the Rams in this game more than their usual suckiness did as they actually outgained Minnesota. Brett Favre is having more praise heaped on him after another solid performance, but let's be honest here; you could throw Terry Schiavo out there and she'd be putting up good numbers if she was playing against the Browns, Lions, Packers, and Rams in 4 out of her team's first 5 games.

Dallas 26 Kansas City 20 (OT)

Tony Romo discovered that if he throws the ball to Miles Austin (10 catches, 250 yards, 2 TDs) instead of the other team, his team stands a chance to win the game. It still doesn't say much about the Cowboys being contenders when it takes overtime to beat the lowly Chiefs though. Chiefs coach Todd Haley was so upset after the game that he took everyone's reserved parking spots away at the team facility, including his own.

Pittsburgh 28 Detroit 20

The Steelers finally manage to do something that they, and I, have struggled with all season, sealing the deal. The Lions were game behind backup QB Daunte Culpepper, but in the end the Steelers managed to hold on and get a much-needed win. Ben Roethlisberger, clearly inspired by his teaming up with D-Generation X earlier this week on WWE RAW, carved up the Lions' secondary to the tune of 300+ yards and 3 TDs.

Cleveland 6 Buffalo 3

I'm still trying to convince myself that this game didn't actually happen because the numbers are way scarier than anything you could experience at Halloween. Browns' QB Derek Anderson finished with a 2-17 day with 23 yards. Let that really sink in for a minute. They guy played 60 minutes of football and managed to complete 2 passes. AND HIS TEAM WON THE GAME!!!!!!!!!! What does that say about how bad Trent Edwards played??? For the sake of the league, Commissioner Goodell needs to mandate that all Browns and Bills games for the rest of the season be played out in simulation mode of Madden so that nobody has to experience something this awful again.

Seattle 41 Jacksonville 0

Matt Hasselbeck dominated the Jags' D in his return, making it a clean sweep for QBs coming back from broken ribs and possibly inspiring some other QBs to break their ribs just to help their teams win. More incredible than Seattle's offensive output was the revelation that their team actually does have a defense. I'm not kidding, they shut down Maurice Jones-Drew and everything. Who woulda thunk it?

Arizona 28 Houston 21

Arizona's defense pulled a Mariano Rivera and saved the win for their team with a late interception return for a touchdown and a goal line stand. Of course this was after they did their best Jonathan Papelbon impression and blew what was a 21-0 3rd quarter lead, but hey, what else did you expect from Arizona. This just in, Andre Johnson is good.

Atlanta 45 San Francisco 10

Matty Ice was back in business yesterday and he made the Flavor-of-the-Week 49ers look like a steaming helping of brussel sprouts with the help of his receivers and defense. The Matt Ryan-Roddy White combo is starting to look like the next Montana-Rice right now, which bodes well for the Falcons moving forward. '9er coach Mike Singletary, invoking memories of last season's pants-dropping incident, teabagged QB Shaun Hill in the locker room after the loss to show his players that this type of performance was not acceptable.

Denver 20 New England 17 (OT)

Champ Bailey proved once again that he is still the best cover corner in the league, even at age 73, with his shutdown of Randy Moss yesterday. The Pats continue to be an enigma as the offense can't decide when it wants to execute and score and the defense can't decide when it's going to shut opponents down or give up huge chunks of yardage and extended drives with the game on the line. On the positive side for Coach Belichick, at least one of the branches on his coaching tree finally seems to have sprouted fruit.

Indianapolis 31 Tennessee 9

SuperManning puts on another embarrassingly good performance for the 5-0 Colts and the Titans put on another embarrassingly bad defensive performance as they drop to 0-5. Since they clearly have shown they aren't willing to hand the keys back over to Vince Young, they have to be content knowing their awful play gives them a good shot at Sam Bradford in the 2010 draft. But still, the Titans' offense is so bad right now that they're...(don't say it)...even...(fight it, fight it)...deader...(bite your tongue)...than...(come on, that's a low blow)...Steve McNair. There, I said it. 2 Steve McNair death jokes in a row. How do ya like them apples?

MNF Prediction

NY Jets 27 Miami 13

Rex Ryan is going to have his defense ready to play on the team's first Monday night appearance this year, especially coming off a loss. Miami has to be hoping the Jets won't mind if they put Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn, Chad Henne, and Dan Marino in the backfield all at once to try to score some points. Braylon Edwards got acquainted with his new teammates by punching them all in the face at a team dinner Friday night.

MNF Predictions for the season (Winners): 4-1

Game 3/Series Thoughts

* Andy Pettitte probably just earned himself another one year deal for next year, and at more than the $5.5million bargain bin price the Yankees got him for last season, if he decides he wants to come back after his performance last night. It was like watching Andy circa 1998 or '99; his fastball was lively and he wasn't afraid to throw it up, in, or both, and his cutter and off-speed stuff had plenty of bite on it. There were only a handful of good swings off him all night and in a regular season game there's no doubt he finishes the 7th and maybe beyond.

* It obviously wasn't the way I and many other Yankee fans envisioned facing Carl Pavano last night, but after thinking about it, it's almost better that they beat him the way they did. After saying he had something to go out and prove to NY fans, Pavano was lights out through 6 innings before getting a few balls up in the zone that cost him. In the end, he did prove something to the Yankees and their fans; he proved that even at his best he still isn't good enough to hack it for New York. It will be interesting to see which team gets blinded by the first 6 innings and decides to throw a 3-year contract at him which they'll end up regretting. My money is on the pitching-strapped Mets, who were practically picking people out of the crowd to throw at the end of the season.

* Funny how all the Nick Punto ball-sucking by Caray and Darling stopped after he got thrown out at third, huh? Guess the million intangibles he brings to the game don't include picking up your third base coach. My uncle brought up a great point while we were texting after that play that definitely warrants mentioning here; The reason A-Rod was so excited after tagging out Punto on that play was because he never would have thought to do that; he just doesn't think on his feet the same way Jeter does and he knows it. My money would have been on A-Rod making the play in the hole and trying to force the out at first, throwing the ball away in the process and allowing the run to score. It's those kind of plays (throwing home on Punto, calling for the ball to tag out Gomez at 2nd) that separate Jeter from his peers. There's no way to document them in the statistics, but those 2 plays had just as much to do with the Yankees winning than A-Rod's home runs did.

* The demons of bad starting pitching were exercised in this series as all 3 starters turned in solid performances that allowed the Yankees to score the runs they needed to win. Combined, CC, A.J., and Andy went 19 innings, allowing just 14 hits and 6 walks, 3 earned runs, and 21Ks for a 2-0 record, 1.42 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP. When you have a deep bullpen and get starting pitching like that, you don't need to score too many runs.

* And it's a good thing the Yankees didn’t need to score too many runs because they didn't. Take away Jeter and A-Rod and the Yanks were a combined 14-82 in the series (an awful .171 average) with 2 home runs and just 7 RBIs. They got the hits when they needed them, but the Yankees patience played into the Twins' strategy in this series as they were always swinging from behind in the count and not putting good swings on the good pitches to hit that they did get. An offensive output like that might not cut it against the Angels, whose 1-7 in the batting order is just as dangerous as New York's.

* Phil Hughes has finally come back to Earth in his first big-time playoff experience. 2 innings of work in the series, 5 hits, 1 walk, 2 earned runs, and 3 strikeouts on 60 pitches. I don't care who you are, 60 pitches in 2 innings of work is not good and it's been Hughes' inability to put guys away with 2 strikes and get out of the inning quick after getting 2 outs that has hurt him. He's been too picky out there with 2 strikes, trying to overthink the play instead of just attacking the hitters with gas like he has all season. The Yankees need to get him back on track for the next series.

* I can't say much about his ability as a late-game stopper out of the bullpen, but with that badass neck tattoo, Jon Rauch would certainly fit in as a member of the MC on "Sons of Anarchy."
* Looking forward, the Yanks are set up perfectly to have their rotation intact for the beginning of the ALCS and now that they have committed to Joba in the pen, it should be a no-brainer picking Chad Gaudin as the Game 4 starter. He was a better starting pitcher down the stretch for the Yanks anyway and if Joe can manage the bullpen and off-days as well as he did this past series, he can make sure he has plenty of arms available if Gaudin falters.

The most important thing, however, will be to get the offense going. Damon looked lost out there in this series, Melky looked overmatched, and Swisher was downright awful. I know he's pushing for another contract next season, but I would give series consideration to sitting Damon in favor of Brett Gardner for a game to try and get a spark if Damon continues to struggle. Otherwise, we could be looking at the beginning of the Austin Jackson Era next year.