Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Sox Lose Victor Martinez to the Detroit Tigers

Last offseason, the Red Sox front office lost Jason Bay to free agency largely due to phantom health concerns. This year's free agency period is still young but today, according to a few media outlets, they lost free agent Victor Martinez to the Detroit Tigers. Needless to say, this is a major loss for Boston.

I was hoping this was not going to happen but saw it coming a long time ago, which is why I felt the Sox needed to get a longterm deal done with him prior to the start of last season. Still, I didn't expect the team with the second-highest payroll in baseball ($170 million payroll in 2010) to get outbid by any team (not named the New York Yankees) for V-Mart, let alone an average club like the Tigers.

This is a Red Sox team that is, after all, overpaying Daisuke Matsuzaka as well as the best DH in the game, David Ortiz, the latter by about $6 million. If you have to overpay for V-Mart, so what? Dice-K and Ortiz likely won't be around a few years into a new V-Mart contract anyway. And, owner John W. Henry just bought an international soccer team (Liverpool F.C.).

Therefore, money should not be the issue here, but that and apparently longevity was, since Detroit reportedly offered V-Mart $50 million over four years, while the Red Sox gave him a choice of $36 million over three years, or $42 million over four years. If these figures are true, Epstein has some explaining to do, as this makes the Sox organization look cheap.

He was willing to overrate J.D. ("DL") Drew and give him $70 million over five years ($15 million per year) at the age of 31. Yet V-Mart, at this same age and with much more durability (despite his thumb injury in 2010 that kept him out of 22 games), flexibility on the field and leadership skills, gets no more than three or four years? This doesn't make any sense.

This article was first published earlier today and can be read in full at Blogcritics Magazine

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Colin Campbell Owes Marc Savard A Big Time Apology

Former NHL defenseman, head coach, and for the past 12 years, Director of Hockey Operations and chief NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell is in hot water this week. Former NHL official Dean Warren has filed a complaint against his termination to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and he believes Campbell had a lot to do with it.

Angry emails by Campbell to other NHL executives are starting to be released online. The other day, Yahoo Sports, via a blogger named Tyler Dellow, analyzed some of them, saying they "reveal the candid, petty assessments by an NHL executive on the league's on-ice officials' performances." More than that, they pose possible conflict of interest issues and bias against certain players.

Dellow narrowed down some of the scrubbed out player names from Campbell emails dating back to 2006 and for Boston Bruins fans, the most alarming email allegedly involves a (Florida) Panthers-Bruins game from February 24, 2007, when three minor penalties were called on one player.

The opposing player who drew one of them was called "that little fake artist." The penalized player was his own son Gregory Campbell, and the "fake artist" was Bruins center Marc Savard. Warren, who called the penalty on the "biggest faker going," was said by Campbell to have fallen for Savard's act and as a result needed to go, or at least not allowed to referee any more of the (redacted) "club's" games.

Three years later, on March 7, 2010, Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins cold-clocked Savard. Having a reputation as a head hunter didn't apparently matter to Campbell. He could find no NHL rule violations by Cooke and therefore did not suspend or even fine him, to the shock of the hockey world.

This article was first published and can be read in full at Blogcritics Magazine

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tom Brady and Patriots Beat Up Steelers, 39-26

You are lying to yourself if you call yourself a Patriots fan and seriously saw this one coming. Yes, Tom Brady is now 6-1 in his last seven games against the Steelers (playoffs included). But after the previous week's pathetic performance against Eric Mangini's Cleveland Browns, a 39-26 New England blowout win against one of the best AFC teams is hardly what anyone expected.

In fact, I expected the Steelers to win a close, low-scoring game. Had I been made aware beforehand that the Pats under Bill Belichick were 22-2 in games following a loss since 2003, I might have thought differently.

In the end, I'm glad I was (and am sure plenty of other New England fans were) wrong.
The score and final stats were hardly indicative of how the Pats dominated most of this game Sunday night, especially up front on both sides of the ball. Guard Stephen Neal was out but with Logan Mankins back for his second game (after sitting out the first seven), Tom Brady had all the protection he needed as he threw for 350 yards (spread out to eight different players), three TDs and emphatically ran one into the end zone himself for one more.

It was the first 300-yard game of the season for Brady but more noticeably, his most emotional game in years. Maybe he didn't like the way Steelers players were hitting him under the pile, or maybe their cheap shots over the years (Lee Flowers) were still sealed in his mind. Or perhaps he just wanted perfection, meaning no dropping easy throws (Wes Welker) or poor blocking on unsuccessful third-and-short situations. Whatever it was, he extra furious at his teammates when things went wrong, and all smiles when success went his team's way.

Photo credit: thirtysecondsurvey.com

This article was first published in full earlier today at Blogcritics Magazine.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music Review: Idlewild - Post Electric Blues

Far removed from its early days of prime R.E.M. and Pavement-like melodicism mixed with loud, Nirvana and Fugazi-inspired rock, Scotland’s Idlewild is a band in transition.

For most of its 15 years, it was on a record label—Parlophone/EMI for a majority of them—and released five albums, including its 2000 breakout (second full-length) release, 100 Broken Windows, which SPIN called the “number one album you didn’t hear” that year (and which is being re-issued this week).

In 2007, after releasing fifth album Make Another World on Sequel/Sanctuary, the quintet went ahead without a label and decided to try something different in having fans pre-order the next album so they can have the sufficient funds to record it.

After raising a substantial amount of funds and giving its thousands of loyal fans who ordered it some web-exclusive access to the recording sessions, Idlewild released its sixth album last year, entitled Post Electric Blues, first to its fans and later through the UK independent Cooking Vinyl label. Last month, it finally became available stateside and in digital form through Nice Music Group.

This is an excerpt of an article first published earlier today at Blogcritics Magazine

Monday, November 01, 2010

Brett Favre: Texts Dicks, Throws Picks & Exits As Pats Beat His Vikings, 28-18

There was no shortage of hoopla surrounding yesterday's much anticipated New England Patriots-Minnesota Vikings game at Gillette Stadium. It was supposed to be focused on Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss coming back to the team he was traded from just a few weeks ago. Instead, it was all about the notorious Brett Favre.

Given the 40-year-old's mounting injuries, will he play against the Patriots on Sunday? Will the NFL suspend Favre for sexual harassment stemming from the alleged lewd photos, voicemails and text messages sent to former Jets reporter Jenn Sterger that the headline of this article (humorously) refers to?

The latter situation hasn't been resolved yet, but by kickoff yesterday afternoon at around 4:15 pm ET, everyone inside and outside the stadium knew Favre was going to start at quarterback that day, for an NFL-record 292nd straight time. What they didn't know was how long he would last out there or how effective he would be.

In the first half, both Pats quarterback Tom Brady and Favre didn't take many chances deep. The result was a 7-7 tie at the half, with Danny Woodhead doing his best Kevin Faulk impression with his second quarter three-yard TD run and later 45 yards receiving on five catches.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson got his team's only score by barely getting the nose of the football to the goal line at the start of the second (after, ironically, he appeared to have run it into the end zone at the end of the first quarter but was considered just short of it by the refs).

In the second half, play opened up for the Pats, as youngster wide-out Brandon Tate caught the longest pass by Brady of the season for a 65-yard TD to put the Pats ahead for good at 14-10 nearly midway through the third quarter.

Favre, meanwhile, had a pass thrown to Percy Harvin go off his hands into young Pats cornerback Devin McCourty's, who ran it back to the Vikings 37. So the all-time NFL leader in interceptions can't be entirely blamed for that one. BenJarvis Green-Ellis then quickly ran it into the end zone during the ensuing Pats drive, and after the extra point, the score was 21-10.

This is an excerpt from an article that was first published earlier this evening at Blogcritics Magazine