Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Patriots' players have the day off. Rust never sleeps.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick held a conference call with the media today. Here is an excerpt, as reported today by The Boston Globe:

Pittsburgh is a hard team to prepare for. What I don’t think you want to do is give your team a game plan and then as you do more work on the team, find out ‘this isn’t quite what we want here’ and you have to change it. We thought it would be better to take a little time ourselves from a coaching standpoint, a staff standpoint, to make sure that with the extra time we’ve had this morning that we could get things as close to exactly the way we want them, so when we do give them to the players, we don’t have to go back and change them.”


“We are currently analyzing all the conversations we were able to obtain from our hidden microphones at Steelers headquarters and the wiretapped phones of Steelers coaches and players. We’ve also been busy going over the intercepted e-mails our IT guys forwarded to us, as well as their game plans that our in-house hackers have been able to pick up from the Steelers’ computer systems.”

“We’re confident we know what the Steelers plan to do. We have a few surprises planned for them. I'll just say this: Daniel Sepulveda, their punter, better get his kicks off a hell of a lot quicker than he’s been doing. Methinks a blocked punt early in the game would rattle his cage, set the tone and really get our fans involved."

"I’d like that. I really would.”

Hot Stove Musings & Monday Night Revisited

What’s New? Really, with the Pirates, what is new?

On the one hand, Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls want to give the Pirates’ new management team a chance. On the other hand …

For a team that espouses “a new direction,” the Pirates sure seem to be taking safe, familiar baby steps. On Tuesday, new GM Neal Huntington signed a veteran journeyman, backup utility infielder Chris Gomez, who seems like a decent chap and may well be an upgrade over what they’ve had the past few years. But signing the 36-year-old Gomez sure seems like a lot like previous signings the Pirates have made over the past 10 years or so: Jose Hernandez, Chris Stynes, Doug Strange, Matt Kata, Mike Edwards, Doug Strange, Mike Kingery and so many others. Yawn. Add to that, the lack of major change in the front office, and you wonder whether this franchise really is moving in a new direction.

As noted recently by Dejean Kovacevic in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“However anyone wishes to characterize the Pirates' recent front office changes, do not call it a housecleaning. All six of Dave Littlefield's special assistants -- Pete Vuckovich, Jax Robertson, Jackie Bowen, Louie Eljaua, Jesse Flores and Roy Smith -- are staying on board. Littlefield's assistant, Doug Strange, was shifted to special assistant.”

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

Anyway, there’s much media speculation the Pirates are looking to trade Jason Bay – who is probably at the low point of his trade value right now, coming off his worst season. This seems like a bad idea, as the return for Bay appears to be middle-of-the-road players with little upside. Granted, Huntington’s hands are tied, but still. Let’s hope he doesn’t panic and make an ill-advised deal, just to make a deal.

Sure we’d love to see the Pirates re-tool their roster. But the Bucs don’t have all that much to offer. Pitcher Matt Garza, recently traded by the Twins, would have looked terrific in the Pirates rotation. Toronto’s Alex Rios is being dangled in trade talks with the Giants but sure would look good in right field at PNC Park. The Jays supposedly want San Francisco’s Matt Cain, a starting pitcher. To obtain Rios, the Pirates probably would have to give up one of their emerging star starters, Ian Snell or Tom Gorzellany.

In most cases, to get a good player (or three), you’ve got to give up "something" of value. Bay has value, but his poor showing last season almost mandates he should be retained rather than dumped now for players of even lesser value. Just sayin’.

Monday Night Revisited

In reviewing Monday night’s game, this entertaining column from The Betting Fool (San Francisco Chronicle) notes how hard it was to root for either side, and considers both sides of the unsavory equation, “Lucky Patriots / Thuggy Ravens” …

“The Patriots were lucky. Their quest, bolstered by cheating, should be over.

I also can't stomach the Ravens. They are out of control, violent and nasty, incapable of composure and should be heavily fined or kicked out of the league for their actions.

What a great game, though.

As the game began to heat up, I was hoping the Ravens would win. But after I saw Rodney Harrison mouthing off to the absurdly arrogant Brian Billick, who blew kisses toward Harrison, I had a few pangs of tolerance for Belichick's bandits.

In the final minute, as The Ravens melted down, I was pleased that the Patriots' quest was still intact and not at all surprised by Baltimore's petulant, disgusting, bratty behavior, which was punctuated by incessant post-game whining.

Play DB in the NFL and take your chances. Especially if you're a Raven. Their coach acts like a bratty teenager, so do his players, and the refs react accordingly.”

The Betting Fool almost always provides a terrific read. Check it out.