Monday, August 13, 2007

Today was a banner day for New England sports fans. Most importantly, the Red Sox basically increased their lead over the Yankees, even though it won't show in the standings. So Steve Phillips and the Mike and Mike crew have jumped the gun by scheduling their discussion of whether or not it's time to press the panic button in Red Sox Nation for tomorrow morning. Tim Wakefield went eight innings and Paps closed it out in the 9th. Meanwhile the Yankees overcame a Rivera blown save to win in the home half of the 9th. For all intents and purposes, the lead might as well be back up to ten, maybe twelve games.

While it may be an impressive feat to hold any given 9 men who are paid to hit a baseball without a hit for 6 solid innings, let's not forget that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are not exactly the 1927 Yankees. It's true that getting BJ Upton to end the game when you're up by three and there isn't a soul on base is the basic equivalent of fanning Ruth and Gehrig with the bases loaded.

Unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that they just dropped 2 of 3 to the Orioles. Nor does it change the fact that Eric Gagne looks a lot more like a mistake now than he did when the CHB mushed him with this puff piece. One can only hope said article brings the same magic to KG that it has to the Sox to this point.

The real triumph came in the form of an Esquire magazine piece naming Tom Brady the best dressed man in the world. Call me old fashioned, but who gives a damn? What exactly is the methodology that produces lists like this? Was any consideration given to the day when he was photographed looking like an unmade bed and rocking a Yankees hat? I must confess that I was a little disappointed that they included the pope on the list. Not so much that His Holiness didn't top the list, but it seemed like they were making fun of him a bit. Benedict XVI wears the same papal vestments that Popes have worn for quite some time, right?

Of course, I only bring up this monumental achievement of Brady's to express the hope that this small victory and the fact that the team won the offseason will keep Patriots fans warm when Randy Moss and Stallworth come up short, the thin secondary gets thinner and the inside linebackers get their AARP cards. Of course, I was also the guy who spent much of the spring angry at the amount of hype given to the Lance Briggs holdout while one hardly dared whisper about the Asante Samuel contract situation. So what do I know?

Among the several things I know at the moment: Lance Briggs has since signed with the Bears. Asante Samuel has yet to sign with the Patriots. For me, it's fascinating to watch this situation unfold. Samuel is looking for a massive deal like the one Nate Clements signed with San Francisco, and I can't say I blame him. Why not shoot for the stars? The team certainly seems to need him, since Chad Scott went down for the year in the first week of camp, and defensive back was not a strong point from jump street.

But the team has a valid point, as well. Samuel has 16 career INTs, but he picked up 10 of them last season in his contract year. While ten interceptions is, in the grand scheme of things, a very productive season for an NFL defensive back, one must still temper one's desire to throw bags of money at a guy who broke out in a contract season. One also must temper one's admiration of a ten interception season when 3 of those picks came during Rex Grossman's inexplicable effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on the brand new field turf in Foxboro last November.

Too often, cornerbacks in the NFL have shown flashes of brilliance only to burn teams who sign them to big contracts down the road. However, the Patriots do not have much depth in the secondary. Rodney Harrison is a year older, and his injury history is not encouraging. The rookie from Miami needs to show he can behave like a human being in the event of a fight. Eugene Wilson in adequate, maybe. Chad Scott was old, now he's on the shelf. Randal Gay probably grew up tough as hell because of his last name, but hasn't proved himself over the course of an entire season to the point where he deserves to be the number one cornerback on a contender.

I guess what really bothered me was that the Bears were ripped for not signing a linebacker when their linebacking corps was still in good hands. Urlacher is Urlacher, the overplayed vitamin water ads notwithstanding, and Hillenmeyer is quite good. Jay Mariotti even went so far as to suggest that the Bears should have dealt Briggs to the Redskins for their number one pick and then used said pick to draft Ted Ginn Jr. (in case you're wondering, I will be tracking Ginn's performance as one more way to show my solidarity with the anti-Jay movement).

Of course, Belichick will work some magic, and maybe our old friend Vladimir Putin can get another crack at a Patriots Super Bowl ring. So none of this will have mattered.

I want to end tonight with the first random thing I hate in quite some time. Tonight, it's Carrie Underwood. The other day, I happened to be listening to Mike FM, the station with no DJs and totally random music. They happened to play Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats. That song bothers me because of the line: "right now, he's probably buying her some fruity little drink cause she can't shoot whiskey."

Every time I've heard that song, I ended up going back over the list of things I look for in a woman. And wouldn't you know, the ability to shoot whiskey just isn't there. Maybe I'm crazy, but what the hell do I want to spend time with a woman who drinks like I do? So I can share a his and hers moment where we both exit through the screen door without actually opening the damn screen?

The sad thing is, there are people in this world who do think that a woman who shoots whiskey is an ideal mate. I could only imagine the horrified looks on my parents' faces if I were to bring such a woman home. I wonder how the introductions would work: "Whiskey-drinking Annie, I'd like you to meet my mother and father."

I have to say that it might be refreshing to go to a wedding and not worry about whether I would be the biggest drunk there, unless of course it were my wedding and the other contestant just happened to be the bride. That would, indeed, be a sad day in my world.

I would like to be a guest at that wedding, though. Especially if I got to sit in the back row and make bets with other guests as to whether the bride or the groom would make the biggest drunken spectacle of him or herself. Imagine that, offering odds or setting up a system of squares to see who passed out first, or who fell into the cake, or who threw the first punch at whom?

Plus, to get back to the song, based on my experience, a woman who shoots whiskey is very likely going to be cheated on at some point in her life. The women I know who knock back a shooter or ten tend not to be at the top of the aesthetic spectrum. They tend to lack polish, sophistication, and, to be frank, manners. So the song becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You warn a guy not to cheat when you're doing something that might drive him to cheat... It seems like you might have missed a step somewhere down the line.

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