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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NFL Playoff Preview

     The NFL regular season is already over and, for the most part, with limited surprises. The Patriots, Broncos, and Seahawks all with week one bye's. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are your front runners for MVP. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the clock for the 2015 NFL draft. But the road to this point wasn't exactly how we predicted. The Patriots and Seahawks both had points in their season where the world counted them out of contention. Peyton Manning has been deemed useless by the masses. Perhaps most shocking of all, there are people who aren't considered clinically insane when they suggest Tony Romo as an MVP candidate. All of this really adds up to tell me one thing. None of us know what we're talking about.
     Over the next few days we will hear about who has no chance at winning a Super Bowl and who is a sure thing. But let's go back to week for when the New England Patriots got smoked by the Kansas City Chiefs. Talk radio was going crazy with people advocating for the benching of Tom Brady and telling us that Bill Belichick ruined the teams season by trading Logan Mankins. Not long after, the Seahawks were thought of as a flash in the pan with an overrated Richard Sherman and a mediocre record. During this time everyone said the Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in football and that no one could beat the Denver Broncos. Here we are going into Wild Card Weekend and those same Patriots and Seahawks are odds on favorites for the Super Bowl and everyone thinks Peyton Manning is finished.
     I guess what I'm saying is that it's hard to ever count anyone out in the NFL. While it does look like the Patriots broke Peyton Manning, he could just be going the same rough stretch that Brady went through early in the season. The Cowboys are stomping on everyone they play, but who's to say that Tony Romo won't realize it's January and that he's supposed to be throwing picks instead of touchdowns. We've all dismissed the Colts as a true winner, but Andrew Luck could assert himself as the new face of this league with a great playoff performance. The NFL has always been a game that is impossible to predict. So why do we keep talking in such certain terms? None of us really know what we're talking about. So my advice this January, toss back a few beers, relax, and don't lose your mortgage betting on the Lions on the road. There are no guarantees in the NFL...Except for the Bengals. Bengals will lose big. Write that down.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Goodbye Rajon Rondo

     Last night, the Celtics made the best basketball move available. Rajon Rondo is a player who is at his best with stars around him. That was not the case the last two years in Boston. Rondo was a guy that was largely considered selfish, a problem in the locker room, and a guy who doesn't get along with coaches. His jump shot couldn't hit anything other than the first row of the stands. He isn't a guy who can change a team and he's not a top five point guard in the league. Despite all that, I'm sad that Rajon Rondo is no longer a Celtic.
     Rondo was a part of the only championship Celtics team I've seen in my lifetime. He was a star on the only competitive teams this town has seen in two decades. And he was the last shred of talent remaining on this rebuilding project. He single handedly kept the Celtics in the series against the Miami Heat in the 2011 playoffs when he dropped 44 points. He's a guy who was fun to watch and made players around him better. While Rondo may have been selfish off the court, and even at times on, he elevated the play of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and made them look better in the twilight of their careers. People in the media got on him for going after assist records rather than trying to win. While that's not the mentality you look for in a player, let's not kid ourselves. Rondo wasn't doing that in games that mattered. In fact, the last year, plus, he was doing it in games, those same media members were advocating for Celtics losses. And say what you want about the guys attitude, he's not a Carmelo Anthony whose style of play is at the detriment of his teammates. Rondo was a big part of winning teams. Dirk's play will improve because of Rondo And yes, I just said Dirk because I was too lazy to make sure I was spelling Nowitzski correctly.
     The Celtics did make the right move. In fact, they probably should've traded Rondo last year, while he was actually worth something in return. In all likelihood they kept him around because they felt they had a real shot at Kevin Love. Well they didn't, and this is what they're left with. A team with no stars to speak of and praying that all the draft picks they have pan out. It was smart to trade Rondo. The high school Mike Geary in me, that watched Rondo light it up with the Big 3, is sad to see him go.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NFL MVP Race: Why Tom Brady Would Not Be My Pick

     Despite people freaking out after four weeks of football, worrying that Tom Brady had sprinted over the hill, he has quickly turned that nonsense around. By the end of the NFL's week 14, he is largely considered to be the frontrunner for the league's MVP. Even being the Patriots homer I am, I wouldn't give it to TB12. Many would consider Aaron Rodgers of J.J. Watt. But I refuse to stray too far from my homer ways. My vote for MVP would be Rob Gronkowsk.
     This isn't to suggest that Tom Brady isn't the best or even most important player on the New England Patriots roster. Without Brady, the Pats would still be fighting for the division and not a serious contender for the Super Bowl. But Gonk adds a dimension to the Patriots offense that even his great numbers can't quantify. Set aside that he's scored touchdowns at a rapid clip. He's Brady's most effective target and also opens up coverage for guys like Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright and allows Julian Edelman to be a true slot receiver instead of the number one option. Throughout his career, Gronk has been compared to Jimmy Graham. I think we're starting to see there's no comparison. I'm not even counting Graham's struggles this year. But Gronkowski's blocking skills and ability to physically dominate defenseman puts him a cut above any tight end in the league right now. Gronk's only demerit in the past has been his injury problems. He's stayed on the field this year and, once he got his feet under him, has had some of the best games I've ever seen him play.
     I'd say, more than I really want Gronk to win, I'd just like someone outside the quarterback position to get consideration. Yes, it's the most position in the game and maybe in all North American sports. But guys like Gronk and J.J. Watt deserve heavy consideration. Watt's been, perhaps, the most dominating player on defense that we've seen in 20 years. Not to mention his Mike Vrabel impersonation on offense. If that Texans team wasn't working on their third QB and in serious contention, I think you'd be hearing a lot more serious talk about Watt getting the award. It will likely end up going to Rodgers or Brady, which I won't mind. Tom Brady's chiseled jawline deserves praise at every turn. But I think what Rob Gronkowski adds to this team deserves some recognition, outside of New England.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Red Sox Rotation: Home of Meciocrity

     Since the Jon Lester negotiations fell apart, or turned out exactly how the Sox wanted, depending on who you ask, they've been busy. Last night they acquired Wade Miley from Arizona for Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Then in the last few hours they've unloaded Cespedes, getting Rick Porcello in return from the Tigers and during my original attempt to write this signed Justin Masterson. People are and will overreact to this in both directions. Some people will complain that they're signing all #3 starters and that's all they'll have. Others will overhype these guys and look at the potential. These deals will likely fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. I just question their strategy.
     In all likelihood the Red Sox will acquire an "ace" by Opening Day. If by ace, you mean a name we've all heard before. The names Shields, Hammels, and Cueto will be tossed around, at least for a few days. But why are the Red Sox operating like this? These moves happening so immediately after Lester signed with the Cubs proves that I was right about the Red Sox true feelings, in never wanting to sign Lester. And when you break it down, probably for good reason. They saw a league full of aging pitchers with beg deals that weren't performing. I don't agree that Lester would have been that guy, but they have history on their side. So are you going to give 5 years to James Shields, who is older than Lester? Or do you sell the farm for Hammels or Cueto? A farm systemthat has taken a couple years to rebuild to the level it's at now. I'm all for trading prospects, but are those really the guys you want to do it for? Neither of them have ever had to pitch in the American League. And as for Shields, we saw him underperform in the playoffs this year, and while he's been a serviceable pitcher, no one could argue that he's a true ace.
     It may be a hard pill for the Sox and their fans to swallow, but the second they traded Lester, they should've gotten into rebuilding mode. The signings they made will likely keep them out of the basement this year. But unless they bring back Johnny Gomes and Kevin Millar to perform whatever witchcraft they did in '04 and '13, they aren't a championship team. And yes, they have a lot of men who are able to make a major league roster, offensively. However it's not the offense everyone is making it out to be. The core of your lineup is a, nearly 40 DH, an MVP second baseman whose had trouble staying on the field and underperformed the last few years, and a brand new, overweight 3rd baseman who has never played in this environment. They're taking the approach of the Yankees in the early 2000's, without the name recognition.
     They have a mish mosh of systems and philosophies that have created one giant shit storm of a roster. They have a group of young guys waiting in the wings with nowhere to play. A core of veterans, some still in their prime, some just over the hill. And a group of role players who would be nice on a championship caliber team, but instead have to be top of the rotation or middle of the order guys. The Red Sox need to decide which direction they're heading. Do they want to give the young guys a chance and see what they can do? Or are they all in on making a championship run? Because they obviously can't handle both.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jon Lester, It's Been A Pleasure

     Now that I've had a few hours to watch "Bridget Jones' Diary", cry into my gallon of ice cream, and tell myself there are plenty of other fish in the sea, I'm ready to handle this breakup like a man. Jon Lester didn't sign with the Red Sox. And there's a simple reason why. Management didn't want him here. Whether it be owndership, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherrington, or the front office as a whole, the organization decided it was best to part ways with Lester. That is all that can possibly be taken from the way things went down early this morning.
     Ben Cherrington said about Lester today, "We would've like more of a dialogue". This would suggest that Lester's camp didn't communicate with the Sox when they were thinking about taking the Cubs offer. Sounds oddly familiar, no? That's because it's the same tactic they used with Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez. Henry and the boys have become notorious for giving offers just high enough to appease the fans but just low enough for the player to leave. They didn't want Lester for any more than 4 years. That's why an offer that big was never made while Lester was under the Sox control. Then when offers came flying Lester's way, they jumped at the chance to save face with their fans and offer something that everyone can agree is about what a player like Lester is worth. Seems fair enough. But when you lose out to Theo, Larry's arch nemesis, by $20 million dollars, fans should view that as a slap in the face.
     Now, some fans will say, Lester couldn't sacrifice $20 million to come back here? He's still be getting $135 million. I've never understood those people. Would you sacrifice that large a percentage in your career? Would you take less than you feel you're worth just because you like some of the people you work with? And would anyone reading this ever turn down an extra $20 mill, no matter the circumstance? Of course not. I'm not saying that no ego went into it on Lester's side. He felt disrespected by that offer in spring training and he wanted to feel the love this time around. If the Red Sox really wanted him, they could've done it a long time ago. They chose not to.
     The Red Sox do still have options. Rumors have been circulating about Cole Hammels and Wade Miley. In different way, both of their numbers could be compared to Lester's. But there's a big key factor to a lot of guys that the Red Sox miss, time and time again. The ability to play in Boston. It's fair to say that's overrated. But if you look at the laundry list of guys like Carl Crawford, Matt Clemente, Edgar Renteria, Eric Gagne, and others, there might be something to it. Keeping a guy who has not only proven he can perform here, but enjoys doing it, is so crucial that it amazes me the the ownership of this team continues to have it's head in the clouds and think they can just plug anyone in and get the same result. My only question is, why would Jon Lester or any other premiere player want to be here?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tom's Potty Mouth

     I watched last week's New England Patriots loss to the Green Bay Packers and this past Sunday's win over the San Diego Chargers. I saw the intensity of Tom Brady on the sidelines. If it even registered in my mind at all, I guess my only thought would've been, I'm glad the quarterback that I root for still has that intensity this late in his career. He obviously still has a passion for the game and a desire to win. Apparently that makes me a monster. Because, from what I hear, civilized people look at that and ask, how could he use such language? Doesn't he know kids could be watching? The simple answer to that is, he doesn't give a fuck... Excuse me; He doesn't give a f***.
     The only way you are able to succeed in professional sports at the level of a Tom Brady is by being competitive. There wasn't an athlete on that field that was wondering if the children at home were getting the right message of sportsmanship from their game. The goal is to win. Football is an emotional game. For anyone to try to scold Tom Brady or the networks for being able to read lips is absurd. It's childish. These people are the very same that would tattle on you during recess. They're people who want society to parent for them rather than having an actual discussion with their kids. People couldn't believe when Charles Barkley said that he shouldn't be viewed as a role model. But in the age of social media and 24 hour news coverage, that becomes more and more true. These are guys who are good at a sport. They aren't here to make sure their mouths are covered every time they drop an F bomb.
     To those people, who have written letters to the FCC and tweeted about how Brady should be fined, look at the league you're watching. Go beyond the obvious problems they have now in dealing with domestic abuse. It's a league where a man who has served times for dog fighting has been a starting QB for multiple teams. Another two-time Super Bowl winner has had multiple rape allegations against him. There are current and former players in the league who have multiple DUI's or have even killed someone behind the wheel in a drunk driving accident. Ray Lewis went through a murder trial and, not only had a Hall of Fame career after that, is now breaking down the games on ESPN. These are some of the characters that make up the cast of the TV show that is the NFL. So doesn't it seem a little silly, in that environment, to make Tom Brady explain where he found the audacity to say "Fuck" on the sidelines?
     I guess the real reason it angers me is because it says so much about our society. In this new "everybody gets a trophy" age, you see this more and more. People aren't allowed to be outspoken or stray from the imaginary list of rules that seems to change everyday. I realize it's a minority that feels this way. But it's a very loud minority. A minority that, for whatever reason, networks and advertisers seem to listen to. If we keep kissing the toes of these babies, entertainment will become so watered down that it doesn't reflect real life. But instead a world where everyone thinks the same and no mean words are said. You have the ability to change the channel. If you don't watch the Patriots, you'll never have to read the salty language coming out of Tom Brady's mouth. But that's on you. Not on Brady. Not on CBS or NBC. Not on the FCC or the NFL. If the word Fuck is so shocking to you that you need to write an outraged letter of complaint, maybe the NFL just isn't the league for you.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Who To Blame For Lester Leaving Town

     Let me preface this by saying, Jon Lester has signed nowhere yet. Inside sources usually conflict with each other and in the Twitter age, it's more important to report something first than report it accurately. Now having said that, it doesn't look like Jon Lester will be coming back to Boston. The money being offered has gotten pretty high and the Red Sox likely aren't willing to match the figures being tossed around. This will leave Red Sox fans wanting to blame someone. But who should we bash endlessly online and sports talk radio? The Red Sox or Lester?
     In the early winter months of 2014 Jon Lester told us that he wanted to stay with the Boston Red Sox for the rest of his career and would even take a "home town discount" to do so. But when the Sox used the business 101 tactic of lowballing him, by all accounts, Lester's camp didn't come back with a counter offer. You can scream "I want to stay" from the mountaintops day and night but if you do nothing about it, how badly do you really want to be here? Perhaps Lester was beating the Red Sox to the punch , in that he got the fans on his side before Lucchino could gossip with all the girls about how Lester was a bad clubhouse guy he doesn't recycle or whatever other bullshit they'd pull out of their ass to try and save face. It's possible that Lester was lying to all of us and wanted to jump ship as soon as free agency hit and he could grab the biggest pile of money.
     The Red Sox, coming off of a World Series Championship, seemed very content with their success and did seemingly nothing to improve their club that was viewed as a group of overachievers. When they had the chance to lock down their ace, instead they slapped him in the face with an offer that they'll probably end up spending on another member of the Drew family. They seemed to be sticking to their philosophy that they won't sign pitchers over 30 to long term deals. But when the fans groaned loudly enough, the front office reversed course and offered him 6 years at $130 million. Once they decided they were all in for Lester, teams started lining up to outbid them.
     I've tried to give both sides in as unbiased a fashion as I could. So given the circumstances, who is to blame? There is a segment of fans that will boo Lester when he comes in to Fenway, throw out his jersey, and call him a traitor. To that group I'd like to explain why you're wrong. Jon Lester is not a Red Sox fan. He was an employee who felt disrespected by management. If you aren't being paid what you think you're worth and could earn elsewhere, do you stay out of blind loyalty? Or do you move on to a place that is willing to pay you? While Jon Lester probably does love and appreciate Red Sox fans as a whole, he has no connection to you as individuals. His job is not to make sure you don't get your feeling hurt. It's to pitch. And do so for whatever team wants his services the most. The Red Sox have made it clear, that isn't them. So don't boo Lester when he returns or call him greedy. The greedy ones are those with the extra 3 0's in their bank account that only dust off their wallets when NESN ratings are down and the team needs "sexying up".

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thank You NCAA

     The NCAA is one of the worst, most crooked organizations that is still allowed to operate in these fine United States. They have reaped the benefits of hard work from young men and women for decades while not giving the a cent. Meanwhile, telling those same kids that while we are using your name to grow our brand and line our wallets, if you sign that name on a jersey or a ticket stub in order to get a discount on tattoo's or a free meal, we will ruin your reputation and hinder your ability to progress in your sport. They allow coaches in basketball and football to lie, cheat, beg, borrow, and steal in order to dominate their sport. Then by the time they decide to investigate, that coach fled town long ago and they punish the current athletes who had nothing to do with the violations. Any time the argument comes up that if they pay athletes, whose lives are consumed by the Division 1 sport they play, they take a page from my dad and hold the newspaper up to cover their faces so we just go away and leave them alone. Despite all that, I'm here to thank the NCAA for a job well done today.
     Finally there will be a College Football playoff in the coming weeks. For years, people begged for a better way to determine an NCAA National Champion than the BCS system. The NCAA always wondered, well how could we possibly do that? Hmm, let's put our thinking caps on here fella. Why not take a page from basically every other sport on the planet? But I have no more to bitch about. They finally did it. There will be four teams this year, likely expanding to eight going forward. This will eliminate any wonder of whether a team like your Boise State's or TCU's should be considered.
      Now I'll admit, like most people in the Northeast, I'm an NFL guy. I'll take a look at college football here and there but for the most part  never give it my full attention. But the new playoff system will get people like me to watch. It provides the ability for upsets and gives smaller schools a greater chance. It has amazed me for years that an organization that created March Madness couldn't see the benefit of a tournament setup. One of the excuses, for years, was, well, we can't let these kids miss their winter break. Really? There have been countless stories of student athletes not going to class. D1 sports consume your entire life while they're in season. And going home for a couple weeks is more important than fulfilling their goals of getting a chance to play for a national championship. But enough bashing the NCAA. They will do something soon that everyone acknowledges is awful, do nothing to fix it, and proceed with business as usual. When that day comes we can rip on them. But today I thank the NCAA. You finally got something right.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why Abstaining From the Hall Of Fame Vote Is The WRONG Thing To Do

     The Baseball Writers Of America have a problem. Who gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame? The "Steroid Era" was a great time for baseball. But the sport is still, in some ways, trying to recover from the damage it left in it's path. The Hall of Fame is the one area where PED's still loom large in baseball. Guys who crushed long standing, career and single season records are being left off ballots. Other guys who are clear cut HOF's aren't getting consideration, simply because they played in the 90's and early 2000's. I'm here to say, let them all in.
     The guys who the committee will deem fit to get induction are guys like Pedro, Jeter, Maddux and Glavine. Guys who don't have the build nor attributes of your typical roided up athlete. Also, other than Pedro, all guys who were media darlings. But after all the baseball writers went through with Sosa and McGuire, are they still silly enough to think no one can surprise them? Now I personally think that the guys I listed were certainly clean. But, I would've probably said that about Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Ryan Braun and others, just a few years ago. I also would've thought it about Alex Sanchez, the first guy who got suspended by MLB for steroid use. And if you're wondering who Alex Sanchez is, he's a guy that I could've made a run at in a home run competition.
     Now if you're reading this and thinking "Yeah but there are guys we KNOW did steroids". To that I say, who cares? The business that is Major League Baseball made billions off the Barry Bonds' skull reaching the circumference of a Great Oak and from Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire hitting more home runs than entire lineups. The McGuire/Sosa home run race brought fans back from the strike. Roger Clemens doing whatever it is that Andy Pettitte "misremembered" basically renewed what would've been an otherwise dead rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. And it was a time where people got excited to watch baseball, rather than complaining that it's too boring and the games are too long.
     To anyone that says it isn't "fair" to the guys who did it the "right way", this isn't little league where everyone gets a trophy and no one does anything wrong. It's not a new idea that athletes do whatever they can to get an advantage. It's the sports fault for turning a blind eye while they counted the money they were raking in. And if baseball writers really are outraged, why didn't you guys do a little more questioning when Jason Giambi's biceps were the size of my head? Or when Nomar Garciaparra was on the cover of Sports Illustrated looking like he was chiseled out of marble? You have only yourselves to blame, Baseball Writers of America. Don't punish the players for a sloppy job by you and the league.
     If you want a hall comprised of family men who play by all the rules, it's never gonna happen. In this age of social media and everyone having a camera at all times, no one will live up to that. The days of telling ourselves professional athletes are role models is long over. They're people, just like the rest of us. Do punish the masses for something the sport didn't even acknowledge until it became headline worthy is just childish. These were the greatest players of their era. They deserve to be in. It isn't the Hall of Humanitarians, nor the Hall of Rule Followers, nor the Hall of Guys We Can Trust. It's the Hall of Fame. And you, Baseball Writers of America, are the ones who made them famous. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Do The Red Sox Really Want Jon Lester?

     It's been reported today, by every 8th grader in Eastern Massachusetts, that Jon Lester has signed with the Cubs. Well, at least while I'm typing this, no one with a big boy job has confirmed such a story. But while we all wait for Lester to make a decision, I'm wondering; Do the Red Sox really want him to sign here?
     While it seems like decades ago, it really hasn't been that long since Larry Lucchino waspopping Champagne and decided that any pitcher over 30 can hit the bricks. This philosophy actually made some sense. You'd be hard pressed to find an aging pitcher that got a big deal and lived up to the contract. But when the Sox front office saw that the kids at the cool lunch table were mocking their original offer to Lester, like any unpopular kid at school, Larry just wanted to fit in. So suddenly they claim they're willing to throw anything at Lester. Or at least that's what they're telling us.
     The Red Sox have made the declaration that they will "Go hard" after Lester. But is that what they're doing? There are only two offers out there as of now and the Red Sox losing out to the Cubs. Why not really break the bank for Lester? I suspect it's because they don't actually want him. They did it with Nomar, Pedro, Damon, and Ellsbury. They made an offer that, to the fans, seems reasonable. In reality it's a deal that they know the player will never take. This way they can come to us and say "Hey guys, we tried." and we just pat them on the head and tell them they did their best.
     Personally, I have no problem with the Sox thinking a pitcher of Lester's age isn't worthy of a long term deal. Facts would back them up. Just don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining. I've had enough of Red Sox ownership trying to adopt the Patriots, no nonsense philosophy but then go back on it every time Michael Felger or Dan Shaughnessy criticizes them. Even if the Red Sox do surprise me by upping their bid for Lester, it won't be for the right reasons. Like so many things they've done over the years, they won't do it for baseball. They'll do it for NESN and to launch another nonsensical sell out streak.

It's A Real Blog Now!

Some of you, (and by that I mean all 8 of you that will read this) may know me from The Mike Geary Show on . Well,the show is only on once a week and that just isn't enough Mike Geary to satisfy the public. So I'm going to start blogging. Here you'll be able to get my thoughts on stuff I don't get to on the show or stories that come up during the week while I'm not on. Contain your excitement.