The Red Sox made the biggest splash of the offseason, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I couldn’t just be happy, of course.
So remember how I said the baseball offseason could be in trouble with the impending lockout? Well, I screwed the pooch on that one. Not only did the CBA get signed and labor peace continued, but the Boston Red Sox have added plenty of logs to the fire of the hot stove before Christmas time.
With that said, I’m not ready to plan the parade yet. I dive into the four major sports and college football, per usual, as I take my hot take palooza around the states. Here’s hoping it’s not too hot for you.
(Holy shit that arm angle/delivery is scary)
1. So what exactly is the direction of the Boston Red Sox?
I’ll be frank: I’m a fan of the Red Sox acquisition of Chris Sale. Anytime you can add a bonafide ace (not named David Price) to your roster without giving up any big-league roster players I’m on board. I think Dave Dombrowski did well in driving down the White Sox reported asking price from last July, and pulling the trigger on a deal that immediately makes the Red Sox favorites headed into 2017.
Boston should be competing for a World Series title almost every year now. They have the money, they
have had the farm system, and they have the manager right makeup of a team pursuing a title. They have veterans, they have young guys coming to fruition. This team should be good for a while.
And yet, here I am, wondering what in the hell the Red Sox are actually doing. Ever since this ownership group took over, there has never been a consistent message of how they were going to build this team for long-term success. And I’m not talking about a 2-3 year bursts of a World Series, followed by a collapse and a last place finish. Sorry, but that shit shouldn’t cut it in Boston anymore.
I’m talking about prolonged success. A period where it’s quite obvious, this team will be competing for playoff berths and ideally World Series every year. Take a look at what the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rangers have done. Instead, the Red Sox are the definition of Jekyll and Hyde. Great one year, terrible next two. Good one-year, free agent splash, record TBD.
At first, they were a veteran team, then the youth got infused by patiently retooling the farm system, and then dealin’ Dave Dombrowski trades basically anyone without a B last name, and you end up with Carson Smith, Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg.
I’m excited about the move, but confused at the same time. Dombrowski said the other day that they weren’t looking to spend over the luxury tax and that they didn’t think they needed to make another move.
Less than a day later they’re acquiring Sale and rumored to be in the mix with Mitch Moreland and other free agents. What the fuck is the message?
I’m one for consistency. I’m also one that enjoys not getting lied to. The Red Sox have the capital where spending over the luxury tax should mean absolutely nothing. They bend fans over the barrel to attend games at the dump that is Fenway Park. They’re making billions, and then say we don’t want to spend money. Are you fucking serious?
Just have a consistent message. If you’re going for it by emptying the tank on prospects that’s fine, don’t just sell it to me as you are thinking of doing the exact opposite, and that your fat third baseman is skinny and healthy. Big deal.
Editor’s note: Everything is actually fine, I am not a living embodiment of the “everything is fine” dog meme wearing a Yankee hat, let’s just move on to the next topic.
2. Thank God the College Football Playoff got it right
I wasn’t hovering around Twitter on Saturday clamoring for the reveal of the four teams in the College Football Playoff. That’s not how I role. But when I saw that the committee rightfully chose Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington, I couldn’t help but smile. The four best teams in the country got into the playoff and will have a chance at raising the weird-looking gold/black football/penis trophy.
Wasn’t the exact reason behind getting rid of the BCS just this? If you crunched the numbers, I’m sure a team like Penn State would have gotten into the final four because they won their conference championship. Instead, human beings figured out that one fluke game (on the road for the Buckeyes) and another for Washington weren’t enough to justify a two-loss Penn State team despite a shiny trophy after a conference title game. The system sure is shit isn’t perfect, but at the very least they used more than just numbers to pick the final four.
Oklahoma and Penn State have gripes, but they also have flaws that left them on the outside looking in. You can’t have egregious losses and then come on hot at the end of the year and bitch about not getting into a national semifinal. Both Ohio State and Washington took losses against quality competition and rebounded resoundingly to earn their spot.
Penn State had to erase a big halftime deficit to beat a Wisconsin team that shouldn’t have sniffed the final. And Oklahoma still plays in the Big 12, which despite their pissing and moaning, is still a much weaker conference than the ACC, Pac 12, Big 10 and SEC. They can form together whatever arguments they want, but at the end of the day, Ohio State and Washington were more consistent over the entire season compared to Penn State and Oklahoma.
And when I’m looking for a national semifinal, give me the four best teams all season. Not just the ones playing the best at the end of the year.
Editor’s Note: Like so many things in life, Tim is fundamentally wrong about this. I described how the college football playoff should work in detail on Monday so I won’t retread here. But suffice to say, there needs to be some objective determination of what “the best four teams in college football” means. Otherwise it turns into another screaming match a la the baseball MVP award. Without a standard of qualification, any ranking, especially one in college football, will descend into homerism, self-interest, and pre-existing bias. Give me six teams, five automatic bids and a wild card.
3. Speaking of playoffs, it’s time to get rid of NFL division champions automatically getting in
This is a pretty specific take and only comes up every couple of years, but this year is definitely worth considering. Let’s take a look at the dumpster fire that is the AFC South. The Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts are all 6-6 and tied atop that God-awful division. One of those teams is going to make the playoffs and host a Wildcard game. That should not and cannot happen in 2016.
Why is a mediocre division rewarded for having three shitty teams battle it out so one shitty team can get walloped in a playoff game? Teams like Pittsburgh, Denver, Kansas City and even Miami get penalized for being in a division with a team with a winning record, while one of the three shit boxes gets in and gets a playoff game? Why is this still a thing?
If the NFL won’t just take the top six teams, regardless of division, and put them in the playoffs, I’m willing to work with an alternative. If all four division champions need to be in the playoffs, along with the two wild card teams, simply rank them based on wins and losses. If three AFC West teams have the three best records, then they should be the top three seeds, with everyone else coming in behind.
Travel is no longer, and issue, and home field advantage is so important. Let’s stop the madness of a .500, or worse, a sub-.500 team hosting a playoff game because they won their terrible division. Put the six best teams into the mix, rank them and go from there. No more terrible football teams hosting playoff games. That’s a movement everyone should be able to get behind.
Editor’s note: I am no longer a blogger, just a broken record. Say it together now, “division/conference records matter!” NFL teams play more than a third of the games against teams in their division, and if division champs don’t get an automatic entry, all it will do is hurt teams who play in strong divisions and reward teams like the Pats who get six weeks of cupcakes a year. If you want to strip the byes from division champs and allow the #2 seed to go to a wildcard with an excellent record, that’s a different argument. But removing the bid altogether is insanity.
4. The Boston Bruins need to sign David Pastrnak this second
Roberto Luongo, babe, pick your jock off the ice because the 20-year-old kid just undressed you and spanked your ass. I know as the Bruins homer on this site I was watching the Boston-Florida game on Monday night, and enjoying David Pastrnak for what I hope won’t be his final season as a Bruin.
Consider me cynical (I am), but as a Boston fan, I’ve seen this song and dance before. Young player, goal scorer, has a great year. Puts the puck in the back of the net on the top line. Inches closer to a contract year, and then gets dealt for pennies on the dollar for some unknown reason. Sound familiar?
I think the old adage of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me fits into play here. The Bruins got swindled for Tyler Seguin. All that’s left is Jimmy Hayes and Joe Morrow from that abomination of a deal. (That REALLY sucked to type) Now you have a kid who is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, playing on the top line, and on pace to score almost 40 goals. The Bruins have to, nay, need to sign Pastrnak before he even sniffs free agency.
He’s the type of player that you put in next to Marchand (thank God they resigned him) and Bergeron for the next five years and not worry about. He’s continuing to grow, playing better along the wall and on the defensive end and most importantly, putting the puck into the net.
At this point, I’m willing for Boston to offer the kid a blank check, and pick up the pieces after that. He’s a player where you get off your seat when he has the puck. They can’t let someone go, again.
Editor’s note: Ryan Strome+Calvin de Haan+2019 draft pick for Pastranak, who says no?
5. Marcus Smart actually got hit with an elbow, but the calls won’t come if he continues to call wolf
So, I think for the first time in his professional career, Marcus Smart didn’t flop. When he got smoked by James Harden’s elbow in Monday night’s game in Houston, he went to the hardwood clutching his face. Harden was hit with a flagrant (rightfully so) before Al Horford stiffed a bunny layup that saw the Celtics lose by one.
If a player gets hit in the mouth with an elbow, it’s a foul. But how much longer are NBA officials going to buy Marcus Smart’s flailing to the ground with phantom hits to the body? I think that time is inching closer, as NBA fans get a dose of Smart flopping almost once a week.
You can only fake/call wolf on an elbow so many times before you’ll get drilled but not get the benefit of the doubt. Sure replay can help, but is that really worth it when you’re bleeding or spitting out teeth? I get that Smart’s antics are a part of his game and he does a damn good job of getting under the opponent’s skin with his dives, but he won’t continue getting calls for his sell jobs the more frequently he does it.
Flopping/diving is an epidemic across pretty much all sports, and it’s part of the game. But when someone does it as frequently, and does a damn good job of it like Smart, he’s not going to get the benefit of the doubt for much longer. And nor should he. A flop/dive is an attempt to show up the official. You do that enough, and you’ll be the one getting shown up when an actual call doesn’t go your way.
Editor’s note: Tim finally starts to make sense. It’s not fair, but it’s the way of the world. Odell Beckham has undoubtedly incurred some penalties or seen foul play against him go uncalled because of his reputation, and now it’s Smart’s turn. It shouldn’t happen, but referees are human too. I’ll defend to the death the right of guys like OBJ, Smart, Cam Newton and the rest to dance and say whatever the please when they find success—but that doesn’t mean it’s always the smartest decision, and there are consequences for all our actions, fair or unfair.
6. Camel of the Week: Anyone who bought tickets to the Colts-Jets game.
The temperature was a balmy 34 degrees in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Monday night. There was a cold breeze in the Northeastern air. People had work and school the next day. It’s Christmas time when spending money and spare vacation time is reserved for the holiday.
And yet, while there were also plenty of empty seats, there were still thousands of fans at the game, for who knows what possible reason.
According to writers like Darren Rovell, you could find yourself a ticket for just $5 for this week’s Monday Night Football game. To be honest, you couldn’t have paid me to sit out in the dark and the cold to watch the Jets, perhaps the worst franchise in football, records be damned, stumble their way through an all but meaningless game against a probably still concussed Andrew Luck and the Colts.
Maybe you already paid for the tickets as part of an advance purchase or season ticket pack, and you knew you couldn’t get your money back. Maybe you had long-standing plans with rarely seen friends to attend the game. Maybe someone handed you a free pair of seats to a primetime football game, and you didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
I’m here to tell you that none of those reasons are good enough to attend that game, and almost no reason, short of “my brother/son was making his NFL debut” could get me there. Even if the tickets were free, there’s the transportation and parking cost, and the very real opportunity cost of spending your Monday night bundled up in a horrendous green color to cheer on mediocrity at best and disaster at worst.
If you ponied up some of your well-earned cash to sit in MetLife Stadium on Monday night, you’re the Camel of the Week. Now feel some shame.
That’ll do it for me. I’ll be back next week with some more hot takes for your Wednesday reading enjoyment. Follow Tim on Twitter@culvey13 for more, or to tell me I’m a moron. Matt has a December birthday and “remembered” that Stonehill basketball won a game one year on it. Tim can’t really recall if the Bruins played/won on his June birthday in 2011 or 2013. Oh well.