The last time we talked, the Sox were on a roll and I hadn’t begun to think about real games without Tom Brady. Well, things have changed, so please allow me to do some catching up.
In my last submission, I talked about how the Red Sox seemed to have found their collective “groove”, as they were putting together a string of well played games which resulted in Boston being in first place in the AL East. They were on a difficult road trip that had seen them win seven of nine, with just two more games left against the last place Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, before I had the chance to hit “Submit”, the wheels seem to come off the bus, as the Sox dropped the remaining road games, wasting well pitched games by Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz in the process. In addition, rookie sensation Andrew Benintendi (.324, 10 RBIs, 11 runs) who had helped spark the offense, was lost to the 15-day DL with leg injury, the result of a very awkward move on the base path.
Despite all this, as well as only going 6-7 since then, they still find themselves tied for first in the division, as well as having a leg up in the Wild Card race. I’m still sticking to my prediction that they will win the AL East, but I know that there is a very good chance that they could end up on the outside looking in. With about 24 games to go, they are in a battle with Toronto and Baltimore for first, while at the same time trying to keep an eye on Detroit, Houston, New York and Kansas City, all of whom are playing well, and very much in the Wild Card race. To top things off, they may not have the services of the knuckleballer Steven Wright (13-6) again this season because of an shoulder injury sustained as a pitch runner. That injury has made it necessary to put Clay Buchholz back into the starting rotation despite the fact that they really need to keep him in the bullpen.
It would really be something if, in the end, the fate of the 2016 season came down to the performances of Clay Buchholz as a starter, and Joe Kelly as a reliever. Apparently, it’s never too late to live up to your potential.
I never thought for a moment that preparing Jimmy Garoppolo to take Tom Brady’s place for the first four games of the 2016 season was going to be easy. After all, in his previous three seasons, most of his real game experience consisted of “taking a knee.” I am surprised, though, by how awkward the experience seems to have been. The Patriots appear far more intent on reminding everyone that it’s still Tom Brady’s team, than they are in preparing Garoppolo for the games; of which they really need to win at least two of if they hope to salvage the season. Between the big Brady banner in Gillette, his teammates not wanting to “cheat” on him by talking about Garoppolo as their starter, as well as making him split snaps with Brady in the important third preseason game, it’s difficult to believe they are as committed to being as ready for the start as you would expect from a Bill Belichick coached team.
Before this last week or so, I had been mentally preparing a piece that I was going to call “The Matt Cassel Effect.” I think everyone, including me, was of the mind that if Coach Bill could go 11-5 with a QB that hadn’t started a game since high school and then turn around and trade him for value, he would certainly be golden with someone with real ability. The theory was that Garoppolo could easily go 3-1, then be traded in the off season for a high draft pick, and that rookie Jacoby Brissett, after a few more years of watching, would be the QB of the future. After all, the 6-4, 235 pound Brissett came recommended by Bill Parcels, of all people, and has received glowing reports in the preseason.
It certainly would be ironic if the same legendary insecurity that still drives Tom Brady after all these years, helped to undermine the team’s preparation for the season and causes them to have a start from which they cannot recover. At this point, the only thing I can say for certain is that we are not going to have to wait long to find out.
- The “Roger That” Edition - February 28, 2017
- The “Nice Ring To It” Edition - February 3, 2017
- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016