Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's not every day that one gets a chance to witness sublime, transcendent courage on a playing field. Tonight, for those lucky few who subscribe to the New England Sports Network, we had that chance. Josh Beckett pitched what can fairly be described as the best game since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Hell, he only allowed five runs to the mighty Orioles. And in the process, he managed to confine himself to one hissy fit.

I sincerely hope Major League Baseball is going to launch an investigation of tonight's proceedings. I simply am not prepared to live in a world where Brian Roberts dares to swing at the first pitch of the game and drive said pitch into the seats. If only responsible agencies had sent out memos to remind the rest of the league that Josh Beckett is not to be defeated, tragedies like this could be averted.

Beckett should be entitled to special treatment. He's obviously lacking in intelligence. If he weren't he wouldn't be sporting that ridiculous growth on his face and trying to pass it off as a beard. I suspect, however, that his silly facial hair comes in handy. I imagine a good number of hitters have been so amused by his ridiculous appearance that they find themselves distracted when it comes time to bat against Beckett.

But I am getting to far away from the main point of tonight's post. I need to thank Theo Epstein for his marvellous performance at this year's trade deadline. What this team desperately needed was bullpen help. Forget the fact that JD Drew is making an awful lot of money to be hitting less than .250 and Julio Lugo makes a fair bit to hit less than .230. Why would an American League team need consistent offensive production?

Eric Gagne is the pickup of the century, even if they couldn't get Jermaine Dye. Of course, if a team should score more runs than the mighty Red Sox, having the best bullpen in recorded human history might just end up being a cold comfort to the citizens of Red Sox Nation if the end up listening to Crowded House sing Don't Dream It's Over while a team like the Tigers or the Angels plays in the Fall Classic. I doubt they'll be much joy in Mudville should the team need a pinch hitter and find themselves forced to rely on Wily Mo or Hinske or Alex Cora.

I think they brought in Gagne as a scare tactic for Papelbon. That's what's in store for Papelbon if he doesn't take care of his fragile arm now. He's two years away from being a journeyman trying to claw his way back from injuries. Of course, Papelbon needn't worry too much, as he can always fall back on his stellar Mississippi State education and his native intelligence. But it wouldn't hurt to have an investment guru try to turn that $450,000 a year salary into a tidy little nest egg.

At the end of the day, perhaps Theo wanted to do Danny Ainge a favor. Maybe he didn't want to take any of the luster away from the closest thing to a good move that has come to light in Ainge's Celtics tenure. If that is the case, then it's awfully decent of Theo. I hope Ainge buys a bunch of Theo's CDs and a slate of tickets to that Hot Stove Cool Music hootenanny in August.

I realize now that my intial reservations about this trade were ill-advised. Bill Simmons has shown me the error of my ways. This trade is awesome. All that remains is for the Celtics to make some nice moves picking up a role player or two and Banner 17 becomes more a fait accompli than a faint hope. After all, when a roster is supposed to have 12 players, it makes sense to commit more than the salary cap to three guys, right? Between Pierce, Allen and Garnett that has to add up to somewhere very close to $60 million. The cap is $57 million, if I remember correctly. I might not have my MBA, but I'm thinking that's not good business.

Of course, it's tragic that the team had to give up on Al Jefferson, right? According to Simmons, he's the best young post player in the game. I don't see it, myself. I think Jefferson is slow. He's also a terrible defender and his range isn't great. So it's good to unload him for any kind of value and watch the next ten years of his career turn into a long march toward mediocrity. I'd be willing to bet money (if there were a place that you could make these type of bets) that he'll never be appreciably better than he was this season.

I think when this trade is all said and done, it will end up being Ryan Gomes that the Celtics miss the most. I am not crazy about Gomes as a player, but I think he'll have a more successful NBA career than Al Jefferson. I have a habit of being wrong, so feel free to dismiss that statement. But just remember, I am due. One of these days, based on the law of averages, I'm bound to be right about something.

Before I wrap up this post, I want to pass on two final thoughts. Never in NBA history up until now has a team given up so much to bring in one player. Celtic fans better hope there wasn't a good reason for that trend. Considering the previous record return for a single player came in the deal that brought Scottie Pippen from Portland to Houston, I wouldn't be too optimistic. And finally, could this Garnett deal be a mere diversion so that Danny Ainge can sign his son Austin without taking too much heat?

No comments: