Posts Tagged ‘2010 Season’

Patriots Week 12 Recap: Detroit Lions on Turkey Day

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

After a close victory against the Indianapolis Colts 89 hours earlier in New England, the Patriots had to prepare and fly out to Detroit for their traditional Thanksgiving game against the Lions.  This had “trap game” written all over it.  Similar to the Cleveland Browns game, this seemed like a game that would be overlooked.  Just after playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts, and the rival New York Jets coming up next week, a losing team could have been an easily ignored and forgotten.

And for the first half, it looked as though the Lions were at least going to hang with the Patriots if not completely out-gamed.  The first half saw the Pats were down by 11 and ended down a touchdown.  The third quarter ended with the game all tied up at 24 each, but Tom Brady was starting to heat up.

Then the final quarter went completely New England’s way with three touchdowns against the no points scored for Detroit.  Brady was absolutely carving up the Detroit defense without throwing a single incomplete pass.  He scored three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the other one was in the third; with two of them going to Deion Branch and the other two going to Wes Welker.  And to stay with the powers-of-two, BenJarvus Green-Ellis had two rushing touchdowns.

The biggest fear that I have with these 2010 Patriots is their inability, it seems, to close out games.  Indy made it close because the defense was letting the Colts easily march down the field in the fourth quarter and score touchdowns at will while the offense was just going three-and-out with no time off the clock.  The same happened to the defense against the Steelers, though the game was well in hand and it was clear that they were in a prevent defense (as well as the offense was scoring; though I would like to point out that if the offense didn’t do anything, we would be talking about how the young defense let Pittsburgh win the game).

But in a span of 12 days, they have played three tough games that may start to define the 2010 New England Patriots.  Following a 34-14 loss against the Cleveland Browns that just became a real head-scratcher, the Pats have reeled off wins at the Pittsburgh Steelers, at home against the Colts, and in Detroit.  It seems that year in, year out, the Pats are always playing meaningful games against the Steelers and the Colts for top-dog of the AFC, so to win them back to back this year at least gives them some sort of measuring stick.

And now they practically have a bye-week with 11 days off until they play the Monday night game in Foxborough against thew New York Jets, a team that has been keeping pace with the Patriots (or vice versa).  A lot has been made about many of the Jets latest victories, though they seemed to handle the struggling Cincinnati Bengals fairly well on Thanksgiving day.  And with them also having 11 days off as well, two well rested teams will be duking it out for the top position in the AFC East, and will likely decided how the playoffs will setup (with the one-seed being either team).

Patriots Week 11 Recap: Indianapolis Colts

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

There was just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, and I decided that maybe the best place to watch the rest of the game was on my hands and knees… praying… to the porcelain vortex.

Okay, maybe I really didn’t watch the rest of the New England Patriots game against the Indianapolis Colts from the bathroom.  But a nauseating sensation of déjà vu wasn’t just creeping in – it was flooding in.

The Patriots missed a great opportunity to score a touchdown at the start of the final quarter and settled with a field goal to go up 31-14 with over ten minutes remaining.  And then what followed has happened many times in the last few meetings between Indy and the Pats: no lead is safe with that Guy across the field.

In the next 2:26, Peyton Manning marched down the field and scored a touchdown.  The Patriots responded with a 40-second three-and-out. The Colts then scored another touchdown in 2:18 (which also included a very helpful unnecessary roughness penalty by Tully Banta-Cain).  That’s 14 points in 5:24 to make it 31-28.

So, with 4:46 to go, I was looking for a nice old fashioned staple of the New England Patriots: the clock draining drive.  Get first downs.  Make the opposing team use timeouts.

Instead, the Patriots got one first down and punted on the next set of downs to kill 2:21 of clock.  That allowed Indianapolis to have 2:25 with all three timeouts and the two-minute warning.

And there was Manning driving yet again.  Going to do it yet again against New England.  Then with over 30 seconds left, the Colts had first down on the 24 yard line.  With an Adam Vinatieri game-tying field goal already in their pocket, Indy decided to go for the glory and get the seven points for the lead (and essentially the win).

And then the young defense finally got a little pressure at the right time.  Jermaine Cunningham came around the edge and made Manning hurry a throw (and I thought that he got a finger on his arm just enough to make his throw alter ever so slightly).  The pass was off the mark and James Sanders was able to pull down the interception.

A win is a win is a win, I suppose, and this one is over Indy at that.  But boy do they make it interesting.  And at 8-2, they now lead the NFL with the best record along with AFC East rival New York Jets (why won’t they ever seem to go down), and the Atlanta Falcons.

Red Sox Officially Out

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For the last few weeks, the Boston Red Sox were hanging on to the slimmest of hopes to remain in the playoff hunt.  But as the New York Yankees were able to win a few games recently, the magic number has finally reached zero.

With a chance to end up with 90 wins this season, the Sox are going to finish third in the very tough A.L. East.  There record with five games to go in the season has them in a dead heat with the Texas Rangers in the West and five games behind Minnesota in the Central.  But that is the curse of playing in the toughest division in baseball.  Without a doubt the wildcard will be either New York or Tampa Bay as they are half a game apart, and Minnesota also vying for home field advantage.

I know that I’ve stated this before, but it was impressive that the Sox made it last this long.  I thought for sure that they would have been eliminated a while ago after having key player after key player either be lost for the season or have a stint on the DL.  Yes, of course I get the fact that a team like the Red Sox who had $168M in salaries (including players who were on the books but on other teams) should be able to to have other players on their team who should still be better than the more frugal teams.

And I also know that I have brought this up earlier, but in the end it was the pitching that did them in.  Very highly paid starters had terrible seasons:

Player Salary
(millions)
Starts W L ERA
John Lackey $18.7 32 13 11 4.47
Josh Beckett $12.1 20 6 5 5.77
Daisuke Matsuzaka $8.33 24 9 6 4.72

Jon Lester $3.75 31 19 8 2.96
Clay Buchholz $443K 28 17 7 2.33

The first three cost over $39M this year (add about another $8.5M for the amortized posting fee for close to $48M) and combined for a 28-22 record.  On the other hand, the saving grace hasn’t been the pitchers acquired via free agency or trades, but the two homegrown kids who totaled a record of 36-15 while hardly a burden on the ownerships’ wallets at just over $4M.  Lester will end up around second in the league in wins and fourth in ERA, and Buchholz will finish second with his ERA just a few points behind leader Felix Hernandez.

The bullpen was spotty as well as the season progressed.  When Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t blowing saves (similar to Sunday night against the Yankees), he would make the outing an adventure; there never seemed to be an easy 1-2-3 ninth for him.   Daniel Bard provided some energy in the setup roll, and is apparently the heir to the closing roll.  For the most part, the rest just weren’t good.

To go along with all of these issues were some bad loses down the stretch.  From September 10th, Boston lost two-of-three games in Oakland, to Toronto and to Baltimore (a .395 team they were 9-9 against this season).

But the injuries definitely was thing that kept them out of the postseason.  They played a good chunk of the season with Mike Lowell at first, Bill Hall at second, newcomer Ryan Kalish in the outfield, and a slew of other minor leaguers to fill in.

And we that, the baseball season in Boston will go quietly into the night, with nothing more than gobs of trade and free agency rumors that will over saturate the airwaves and blogosphere… I’m sure I will be writing one soon anyway.

Patriots Week 2 Recap: New York Jets

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Well, that didn’t go according to plan.

And not a single thing I thought would happen ended up being the case.  New England’s offense and defense were very good in the first half; that was about the only thing that I got right.

Then the second half was anything but.

[Before I forget, that catch to with a minute left in the first half by Randy Moss was unbelievable.]

Watching Brady throw two picks, trying to exploit a Darrelle Revis-less Moss instead of continuing to use Wes Welkers and his new toys, the tight ends, just was too much to watch.  The running game gave them nothing, forcing third-and-longs on every series in the second half, and then not converting.  Then the Jets looked like the Patriots in the first half offensively, just marching down the field at will.

I know that the Patriots aren’t going 16-0 (again) and weren’t going to run the table in the AFL East this season, so maybe in the grand scheme of things, a road loss to the Jets might not be something to keep them out of the playoffs.  But if the defense can’t keep a supposed-suspect offense from constantly marching down the field, and if the offense gets shutout with 3 major players on the Jets defense out, then the wins might be hard to come by with their schedule.

Patriots Week 2: New York Jets

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

The season opener for the New England Patriots is in the books and ended much better than I initially thought it would.

Yes, everyone has been saying that the offense was going to be fine, though there are questions in the running game.  And since then, they traded away their former first-round draft pick and a sixth-round pick next year, for a fourth-round pick.  With Laurence Maroney now gone, there is an abundance of old running backs to go along with the younger BenJarvus Green-Ellis (25); Sammy Morris (33), Fred Taylor (34) and Kevin Faulk (34).

But the idea that there is not one but two viable receivers at the tight end position is what I think makes this offense extremely powerful.  In the end, I think that there will be just too many options to cover that Tom Brady can just stand there and pick a defense apart.  He was able to do just that in Week 1 over the Cincinnati Bengals, but a true test will be this weekend against the New York Jets.  The key match that will be the focus of attention will be Randy Moss (who is apparently going to play harder for a contact) versus Darrelle Revis (who just got his payday after a long holdout).  Assuming that Wes Welker (who looked like he never had ACL surgery in the offseason) will draw Antonio Cromartie, that would leave plenty of options still for Brady.

The defense was the big question mark coming out of the preseason, with a very young crew of in the backfield.  Against the much-ballyhooed Bengals offense, they practically shut them down for the first half.  I don’t know if Cincinnati was able to figure it out in the second half, or the fact that the Pats went into a prevent-defense since they were up 31-3 very early in the half, but 3 touchdowns were scored.

So the week 2 matchup between these two rivals will line up as these two questions: Can the high-powered New England offense out-gun the great New York defense?  And, can the struggling Jets offense put up enough points against a young Pats defense?

I don’t think that New York will be limited to field goals all season long.  Baltimore has one of the top defenses in the league, so it can make any defense look terrible.  But on the flip side, I don’t think that the Baltimore offense is that great, so it made the Jets defense look fantastic.  So with the shortened week to give both sides less time to heal, this should help the Pats with the trip to the Meadowlands.

Red Sox Racing for their Tee Times

Monday, September 6th, 2010

With 20 games left in the 2010 season, the Boston Red Sox are limping their way to the finish line of what will be remembered as a miserable season that was marred by injuries but was seemingly within reach until the end.

John Lackey Dejection

John Lackey has underperformed for the 2010 season.

The most frustrating part was that despite it all, it wasn’t the injuries that finished them.  It was the players who were on the field and couldn’t perform that did them in.  Josh Beckett and John Lackey both received large contracts and both shown otherwise on the field.  Jonathan Papelbon will likely end up with stats that will show he was an above average closer, but everyone will remember the save chances that were blown.  And while the injuries forced Boston to use bench players or Triple-A players, hitting seemed flat all season long.

Now on one of those dreaded West Coast trips, the Red Sox have dropped two to the Oakland A’s; the first game getting shut down by surprise started Trevor Cahill while Boston’s own ace this year, Clay Buchholz couldn’t even get an out in the second inning.  The second game Lackey actually pitched well, except he couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead in the seventh, and closer-of-the-future Daniel Bard couldn’t seem to get an out.  One more game in Oakland, three in Seattle, and then a slew of tough games at home and on the East Cost… the Yankees aren’t playing the rest of their games in Texas for anything to change.

While they are not mathematically eliminated, there is no way that the Sox would be able to catch up to the Rays for the wildcard spot nor the Yankees for the division.  And because of this, the roster is mostly made up of Pawtucket players who are looking to get some major league time for the Sox to either a) showcase them for potential trade-bait in the offseason, or b) look to see if these players can help the Sox in the future.

There’s always next year.  Again.

Red Sox Always Playing from Behind

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

From the category of “for what it’s worth,” the Boston Red Sox seem to always be playing from behind.

Through the first 15 games, here is the number of runs scored by inning:

That means on average, the Boston Red Sox are going to have a 2-1 disadvantage after the first three innings.  The rest of the games, they seem to score runs on par with their opponents.

The final three games of the Tampa Bay series, in which the Sox were swept in four games, is pretty evident of this.  In these three games, the first three innings of each game (in terms of runs) were 4-0-0, 0-2-2, and 1-0-5 (with 2 more in the fourth on Patriot’s Day).  The Sox score zero.  4+4+6 > 0+0+0.  I do have a math degree, but I don’t think it’s necessary in this case.

Then in the first two games of the Texas series thus far, the Rangers go five runs in the first four innings the first night, and four runs in the first two innings last night.  Yet again, the pitching and defense has put them into the hole where they have to come back from multiple runs.  Thankfully a few lucky breaks (Hamilton overrunning a fly-out, or getting a home-field call on the throw to home) and some clutch hitting from minor leaguers has finally given Boston a few Ws.

It would be nice to see a starting pitcher go seven-plus innings without giving up a run once.  There has still yet to be a sub-three-run game played.

On another note, I think we can just give anyone who gets on base, just let him walk to third, because they’re going to steal the bases anyway.  Tuesday night’s game was disgusting: nine stolen bases.  And it isn’t even the nine that were the worst to take.  It was that two of them were by Vladimir Guerrero.  The man can’t even walk anymore, and he had two.  And those two matched the steals total he had in 2009… All of 2009.

The Newly Defensive-Minded Red Sox

Monday, April 19th, 2010

It is just twelve games into season, and it is very common for teams to start off slowly.  Last year the Red Sox began great and the New York Yankees were struggling with their reformed team, and that seemed to not be the case by the time the playoffs rolled around.

Just twelve games into the season, and a lot of those have been against teams who are supposed to be very good; projected 2010 playoff teams.  Opening against the world champion New York Yankees, out to Kansas City (okay, they should be an easy one), be the first opponents in the new stadium for Minnesota, and then back to Fenway for Tampa Bay.  They took two against the Royals, only one from each the Twins and the Yankees, and have thus far put up a bagel against the Rays in the first three of a four-game series.  Giving the Boston Red Sox a 4-8 record thus far in 2010.

Bruce Jenner - Then and Now; Just as different as the new Boston Red Sox lineup.

There are a lot of new faces to get used to.  Of what was supposed to be the starting line up, there are three new faces: Adrian Beltre at third, Marco Scutaro at the revolving door that is shortstop, and Mike Cameron in centerfield.  If you include Victor Martinez acquired at last season’s trading deadline, and Jeremy Hermida filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury (who was injured last Sunday), more than half the line-up are more of the unfamiliar names compared to the days of olde (like 2008).  It’s as if you remember Bruce Jenner’s face when he was an Olympic Decathlete and then turned on the TV today.

The theory of the direction that general manager Theo Epstein is using is very logical: a run that the defense prevents the opponent from scoring is equal to the run that your offense needs to score.  Why bother trying to pound out five runs, when all you need is three if your defense gives up two.

Twelve games this year; and the runs scored by the Red Sox: 9, 4, 1, 3, 8, 8, 2, 6, 0, 1, 5, 1. That’s 48 runs scored for 4 a game.  Not including the 19 runs scored against Kansas City, that’s 29 runs in nine games for just over 3 runs a game.

Not scoring as many runs on offense: check.

In twelve games this year, the pitching and defense have given up runs: 7, 6, 3, 4, 3, 6, 5, 3, 8, 3, 6, 7.  That’s 61 runs for 5-plus runs a game.  A team that is built around great pitching and defense has never given up less than 3 runs a game.

On top of that, there have been nine errors, seven occurring in the last four games.

And to add to the troubles, whenever there are baserunners, chances are they are going to advance. There have been 21 stolen bases (9 by Tampa Bay already).  That’s 21 stolen bases on 22 attempts.  There have also been a few judgement errors made by the catchers as well: such as the double steal by the Yankees, and the relay throw to the Marinez who threw it back to second against the Twins which allowed a runner from third to score.

Anyone can look like Willie Mays Hayes when running on the 2010 Red Sox catchers.

With twelve games down, there are only 150 left to solve all of these issues.  I think there’s still time.  I’m sure the pitching will finally start to calm down (at least the starting rotation).  And the errors will probably not be as frequent (or as atrocious).  The stolen bases are going to be a problem.  The catching is going to make everyone look like Willie Mays Hayes (the second half of the movie, not when he slides 10 feet short).

After the Monday matinee for the final game against the Rays, there twelve games against the Rangers, Baltimore (twice), and Toronto.  That seems like a nice stretch of games to at least climb back above .500.