Garnett, Gagne, and Bonds

As most of you know, I am a pretty avid sports fan. The odd thing is that I hardly ever post about it, and I guess the reason is because I know that most of you would not care to read about my musings and thoughts in the sports world. But yesterday was too good of a day to pass up commenting on. In one day, the total landscape of Boston shifted with a couple acquisitions. A giant that has long been sleeping has been awoken, and a giant that has been lurking was given more strength. And a third, genetically aided giant was crawling to a finish line.

The Celtics

The first giant, is the Boston Celtics. Growing up, the Celtics were my first love when it came to sports. My mother raised me to cheer for the 80’s Celtics. I remember saying good night to Chief, DJ, Bird, “Armpits” McHale, and Danny, who looked down on me from a poster on my door. I distinctly remember watching the playoffs, watching games from a recliner, wedged in with my mom and using binoculars so I could see better. My friends and I would go down to the court in my dad’s warehouse and pretend to be different Celtic players.

Then Bird started falling a part before my eyes, and unfortunately, I have more memories of him lying on the side of the court, trying to stretch out his back, which betrayed him at the end of his career. But then came Reggie. Reggie was my favorite. His poster made it up on the wall, and I even remember painting a slate with his jersey for my art project at summer camp. Then the day came when my mom woke me up and had to tell my that my hero, Reggie Lewis, had died playing basketball. I just couldn’t believe it, and since then, being a Celtics fan just hasn’t been the same for me.

It seems like we’ve always been looking at potential with the likes of Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Joe Johnson, Ron Mercer, and Chauncy Billups, only to see most of them dealt away. Then there were the forgettable types like Eric Montross, Acie Earl, Joe Forte, Kedrick Brown, Jerome Moiso, Dino Radja, and Vitaly Potapenko. Then there were the retreads that they brought through town, hoping to capture their former glory. Dominique Wilkins, Vin Baker, Gary Payton, Raef LaFrentz, Kenny Anderson.

Throughout that time, all a Celtics fan could do was to ignore the failures, tolerate personalities like Rick Pitino, and cheer for fan favorites like Dana Barros, Rick Fox, Eddie Pinckney, the Sherm, Dee Brown, Kevin Gamble, and recently, Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Ryan Gomes.

The period also was a time of loss. Gone was the expectation of contending for the championship. Now, we’re just happy when we can get to the playoffs, never mind out of the first round. Gone is Red Auerbach, the original Gahden, and the passionate crowds. Instead, they have been replaced by a cookie-cutter arena, mercifully renamed TD Banknorth Garden, a non-stop rotation of young players learning on the job, and ever cheerleaders.

The saddest thing is that it has probably been the cheerleaders that I’m most upset about. You knew Red was going to die. Thankfully, it was after Pitino left and he was brought back into the fold. But cheerleaders? That’s not Boston. That’s not the Celtics. This isn’t the Celtics.

Then yesterday happened. Before the draft night, Boston was listed with 100-1 odds of winning the championship in Vegas. Today, they are 5-1. That’s a turn around. Now they are three stars surrounded by riff-raff. That hasn’t worked out well for other teams, but they weren’t playing in such a bad conference as the Eastern Conference.

The greatest thing about these three guys is that they have been fighting almost by themselves for years. I’ve heard a criticism that they’ve never done it themselves and don’t make their teammates better, but there is only so much you can do with flotsam. What you can’t challenge is their heart and desire to win. Garnett plays all out no matter what the date, and Allen is a stand up guy that will be able to sink the shot that the team hasn’t been able to hit for the past few years.

So now its exciting to be a Celtics fan again. But they need to do this in the next couple of years. All three are getting older, have huge contracts, and will be getting more mileage in the next couple years because they have no bench. The dropoff when they are done will be huge. They will be back where they were a couple years ago, so they better win something before that.

The Red Sox

It has been great seeing this team win like it has, but there is still a sense of uneasiness. It’s one thing to win in the regular season, its a whole nother thing to win a 7 game series in October. They’ve had the starting pitching, and a great end of the bullpen. But Papelbon wore down last year, and if he goes, it gets real scary.

Enter Gagne.

Now we have almost limited games to 6 innings. Get your starters through 6 innings, then Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okijima, Eric Gagne, and Papelbon. We all know that the playoffs are about pitching, and the Sox now have the pitching to win it again. They have had the hitting, and just haven’t put it all together yet, but hopes remain high that they’ll bring it around.

Bonds

Out here on the west coast, a soap opera being played out on the field where Bonds will capture what is considered the most hallowed record in American sports. I have very conflicted feelings on this.

1. we made Bonds the monster that he is. When Sosa and McGwire were slugging balls out of parks, we cheered and hailed them as heroes. They were co-sportsmen of the year that year. Bonds saw what was happening, and buffed up himself. We all cheered when it was happening and have since had a change of conviction.

2. steroids were not against the rules of baseball. They were illegal in the country, but not against baseballs rules. he never broke the rules. Now they are, but there is no way of getting a positive test from him. he pays too much money to get caught.

3. Barry Bonds has been a punk for a long time, and no one has ever liked him. The sad thing is that he was an incredible hitter before hit started hitting his prime at 38 years old. He didn’t need to do this, but felt he had to.

4. as Mark Grace said, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Cheating has been a part of the game for a long time, but not so much anatomically. Bonds has gone outside of the game to get an advantage, while others have doctored baseballs to get a little more movement, or added a little extra pine tar.

So I guess I’m against Bonds breaking the record, just because he has taken baseball to a place where it doesn’t belong, the illegal laboratory. Baseball is all about purity of the game, and while that is highly considered to be a myth.

They’ve been talking about what to do when Barry comes to bat in Dodger stadium.  He’s spoken about how he loves to be booed in Dodger stadium, because he knows it means that he is really good.  So if people want to show their displeasure towards Bonds, how about they turn their back to him when he comes to bat.  It goes quiet, and everyone is ignoring what he is doing.  If people aren’t going to consider him the home run king, why would they watch it happen?  What better way to show that you don’t approve of him than to just turn your back and be silent?  Sounds good to me.

Sports Snapshots

I haven’t actually written about anything sportwise in awhile, and thought this might be a good time. Here are a few of my thoughts as far as my teams go:

Red Sox

PAPI!

ahhh…. the beginning of a new year! I love how every Spring Training brings the basic same stories. You have the young kid looking to prove himself, the star looking to have a better year, the older guy trying to make it one last time, the other older guy trying to restore his greatness, the player that’s switching positions, the guy that’s had to deal with trade rumors, the guy coming back from major injury, the longshot kid from nowhere, plus some random story of a new coach or staff member. They’re usually the same stories and the new ones are rare to find.

But this sox team should be a good contender. I love the pitching staff, though the bullpen has me scared. The rotation has an incredible blend of speeds, styles, and ages. You have Schilling who is closer to the end, and then you have Papelbon who is at the beginning. You have Matsuzaka who is totally mysterious and potentially dominating. You have Becket who has almost been forgotten in the shuffle, yet is a potential #1 on most teams. Then you have Timmy ballgame Wakefield, who is so versatile because of his arm. And if something happens, Jon Lester is waiting for his chance, bringing a lefthanded option in.

The bullpen, though, is a crapshoot. You got Timlin dealing with oblique issues, Hansen, who is our supposed future closer, dealing with back issues at such a young age, plus a cornicopia of other relievers trying to make their mark. Hopefully our starting rotation will be consistent and we will be able to only use the bullpen for the 8th and 9th.

The lineup is great. I really liked the signing of J.D. Drew, unlike many others. I think he’s great in the role he’ll play. He’s a great protection for Manny, and I actually think his attitude will work in Boston, because he doesn’t really care what people think. He may be fragile physically, but not mentally or emotionally. The only question is what Pedrioa will do at 2nd base. He started off rough last year and finished hitting under .200. but in the last couple of weeks he started to come around. He lost some weight in the offseason, but that could go either way.

That’s another funny thing about Spring Training. If they lose weight its good, if they put on weight its good. Losing weight means less injury, quicker, and more flexibility. Gaining weight means more power, and endurance through a long season. So who knows.

My mother-in-law is coming out ON OPENING DAY!!!! I’ve been thinking of sending Leah to the airport or getting a cab. She can meet us at Dave and Busters. Come April 2nd!!

Celtics

Gerald Green Dunk

Its really sad when your two greatest victories in a season is a dunk contest (notice the homage to Dee Brown in the picture. He’s somewhat imitating his dunk and wearing his jersey. I bought a pair of Reebock shoes to get a poster of Dee Brown’s dunk when I was younger. That was awesome.) and losing for higher draft picks. I’m totally on board with losing all the games we can so we can make this team better. They lost 18 games in a row (a team record) but have now decided that getting on of the top two picks isn’t as important. They’ve won 4 in a row, looking like they’re playing their way into a worse pick.

Sad Al

Look, by winning you are moving yourself out of a good pick that will be good for the team in the long run. we have two guys coming out (hopefully) in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Either guy would be incredible for this team and winning just moves us further away from them. We can’t even win for winning!

Oh, and I hate the cheerleaders. I’m glad Red didn’t have to see this.