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Jerry Ballgame weighs in on a busy sports week from the Hub, including the state of the Red Sox, the Bruins’ elimination, the Celtics’ playoff push and the Patriots draft day triumphs.

If there is one thing I’ve learned to count on when it comes to professional sports in the Boston market, it’s that there are very few dull moments. Occasionally, the media is forced to create a story where one does not exist (as recently happened with the Bobby V./Youkilis affair), but generally it’s simply a matter of waiting. One of the great things about the Fall here (besides the foliage) is that you can have all four teams playing at the same time. This requires the Sox to make the post season, so it’s not something we’ve experienced in a while. But this past week or so has been very memorable, even without everyone in action.

It started with the early exit of the defending Champion Bruins from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the usual postmortem that follows such an event. Although neither the fans nor the media in general were expecting we would need the duck boats for a victory parade come June, there was an expectation that they would get by the Capitals. The fact that they didn’t means that certain areas of the team will be given even closer scrutiny then usual, starting with the goaltending. Most of the discussion centers around whether or not they should try to get another season out of the 38 year old Tim Thomas, or trade him, save $6 million, and put their fate in the hands of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin. I expect that they will float his name out there and see what, if any, value it still has. Although his political beliefs were getting annoying, I really think it will be a hockey decision based on his value and Rask’s readiness.

The Patriots traded up in the draft and got some good pieces, like Jake Bequette. (Flint Harris/HolyTurf.com)

Speaking of value, the new rookie pay scale in the NFL apparently caused Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick to rethink what he considers “value”. Long known for his tendency to trade down and collect multiple draft choices (with which he seemed to do very little), he generated a great deal of excitement amongst fans by trading up and selecting Chandler Jones, a DE from Syracuse, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower of Alabama in the first round. In addition, the selection of  6’5″ 300 pound Jake Bequette of Arkansas, has also revived hope that the Pats will once again fill the elephant role last effectively held by Willie McGinest. I believe it was very obvious to just about everyone that last season, the Patriots were sadly lacking genuine impact players on both sides of the ball. It appears that Coach Bill set out to rectify this through the draft as well as the free agent signings of  DL Jonathan Fanene, and receivers Donte’ Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, and Brandon Lloyd.

At just about the point when the post draft analysis was calming down, Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh had to go on the radio and resurrect ‘Spygate’. I found the reaction to his interview, along with the expression of regret by former Pats assistant and Jets’ coach Eric Mangini, interesting, to say the least. There are still some Patriot-haters out there (you know who you are) who are always going to try to make more out of Spygate then it was.  But there seemed to be enough negative reaction aimed at Harbaugh that he felt the need to backtrack, clarify, and apologize.

Personally I think he was trying to deflect attention away from the fact that he mishandled the end of the AFC Championship game, by bringing up the Spy- and Bountygates. I don’t believe it worked. It’s also possible that he just remembered that he actually might owe his job in Baltimore to a phone call made by Coach Bill. As for Mangini, he seems genuinely upset that his whistle-blowing of his former friend and mentor turned out so badly. Maybe it’s just people’s general reaction to “snitching”, but for the first time, I’m hearing criticism of Mangini for his tipping off the NFL. It will be interesting to see how long people remember, and whether or not he gets another NFL coaching gig.

Can Will Middlebrooks fill in for Kevin Youkilis? (Ken Babbitt/Four Seam Images via AP Images)

As  relatively well as things went for the Red Sox on their recent road trip, they are still in last place in the AL East. I saw an interesting fact in Peter Abraham’s column in today’s (5/2/12) Boston Globe, that may do well to explain their situation. It seems that, at this point, the Sox lead the majors in both runs scored and allowed. Not a recipe for success. They have brought up Will Middlebrooks to replace the ailing Kevin Youkilis, as well as Aaron Cook to take Beckett’s next schedule start. We shall see if that helps.

Time will tell whether Tuesday’s defeat of the Hawks by the Celtics says more about Paul Pierce‘s leadership or Atlanta’s inability to close the deal. Despite recent playoff success against Boston, the Hawks would likely be down 0-2, if not for the unfortunate display by Rondo on Sunday. The expectation is that he will explode for a triple-double against the Hawks this Friday to make up for letting his team down. It appears that Ray Allen‘s troublesome ankle will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the playoffs. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to believe that with a healthy Allen, as well as Kendrick Perkins, the C’s might well have made one last drive for a title with the “Big Three”.  But obviously, we will never know.

Featured image courtesy of: By Elise Amendola/AP

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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