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Football is a game for men- tough men.  Unlike many American males, I don’t lie to myself and others.  I could not play that game professionally.  It requires a physical toughness that I lack.  It also requires an emotional toughness that I am familiar with as a pastor.  In football, you have to deal with the emotional aspects of the game- remaining consistent when there are great hills and valleys.  Remaining stable in the face of constant obstacles.

Enter Jay Culter, the pouting All-Pro.  Jay can’t seem to understand that Pro Football is a business.  The goal is two-fold: compete to win the SuperBowl consistently, and make lots of money in the process.  The closer you are to the first, the easier it is for a team to accomplish the second.  As a result, the business-side, just like the game-side, is not easy on a person’s ego.  During the game, fans might boo you.  And during the off-season you might be linked with trade rumors.

Jay can’t imagine that the Broncos might entertain offers for a QB that 1. his new coach knows, and 2. had a better QB rating than he did.  Yes, Cutler had a record setting season.  But his team folded in the crunch (Cassel’s team when on a strong run that would have earned them a playoff spot in most divisions).  As QB, some of that falls on his shoulders.

But Cutler is pouting and demanding a trade- feeling so unwanted.  He’s is proving that they should have traded him.  First, he lacks the mental/emotional toughness required to flourish in professional football.  Trade possibilities have sent him into an epic, public freefall.  He just gave fans on other cities ammo with which to bait him and boo him.  Second, he is more concerned with himself than team.  This doesn’t sit well with any associated with the Patriots and their success over the course of this decade.  Individuals play, but only teams can win.  Teams are made of people who believe “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one” to quote the fictitious Spock from The Wrath of Kahn.  Cutler is focused on himself.  Not a good sign.  He demands his ego get stroked instead of submitting his ego to the needs of his team.  He also refuses to see that a few teams WERE really interested in him (I’m not sure why at this point).

Jay needs to take his meltdown where it belongs- behind closed doors- or no team will want him, including the one he’s on.  And while he’s there he may want to invest in some Daniel Goleman books on emotional intelligence.

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Pedroia Strikes it Big


The little big man for the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, has now seen the payoff for all the hard work and stellar play.  The Red Sox have locked him up for 6 years.  He’ll get $40.5 million over that time frame.  The Red Sox get a hard-working, inspiring sparkplug who puts up some pretty significant numbers.  He’s one guy that won’t be moving on soon.  With a revolving door at shortstop, Theo has solidified the other middle infield position.  And you have to wonder how long it will be before a “C” is sown onto his uniform to go along with the 2007 A.L. Rookie of the Year award & World Series champion ring, and his 2008 A.L. Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and MVP awards.

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Remains to be Seen       Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Remains to be Seen Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

A second Red Sox post in 2 days?  Yes, because the Hot Stove is overheating!

Coco Crisp is now a Kansas City Royal (sorry, dude).  I’ll miss his superb defense despite his weak arm.  Obviously Theo and Terry think Jacoby will make the necessary adjustments to return much better next season after going through some disappointing slumps this season.

Ramon Ramirez is now a Red Sox.  He pitched well in relief for the Royals last year with a 2.64 ERA and 70 Ks in just over 71 innings of work, giving up only 2 HRs (a key stat).  He can help solidify that Red Sox bullpen which struggled before Justin Masterson joined it.  The Sox may have plans to return Justin to the rotation (I wrote this before reading the Buzz).  But maybe not…

Reports are that the Sox are making a run at A.J. Burnett, a John Henry favorite from his days as Marlins’ owner.  This may trigger a bidding war, which may be exactly what the Red Sox want (though the Yankees may return the favor over Teixeira).  I’m not sure why the Sox want him.  He’s often injured and can’t seem to put it together despite having great stuff.  Without ‘Tek, this would be an even riskier move.  I’m not so wild about this.

Nothing yet on the rumored trade of Julio Lugo to the Tigers for an equally bad contract on a pitcher.

Tony Mazzarotti thinks the Red Sox will offer Mark Teixeira the biggest contract in Red Sox history.  The Red Sox want him.  Afterall, they once drafted him.  He is productive, patient, a great defender and a great clubhouse guy who can lead.  In other words- Manny without the baggage.  This is why they didn’t pick up Manny’s option- they’d rather spend $20 million on a guy who is younger and low maintenance.  They might not get him, but it won’t be for a lack of effort and resources.  Both teams remain mum on Teixeira.  They want to work behind the scenes, much like the Yankees did with Damon.  That’s how Theo likes things too.  The Yankees have far more to spend, even if they drop $150 million on pitching.

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Reason to Smile         Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Reason to Smile Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Dustin Pedroia’s professional career so far.

  • May 2007- fans want rookie Dustin Pedroia benched for lack of production.
  • 2007- World Series Champion
  • 2007- A.L. Rookie of the Year
  • 2008- One win away from the 2008 World Series.
  • 2008- Golden Glove Award: best fielder at his position in the A.L.
  • 2008- Silver Slugger Award: best hitter at his position in the A.L.
  • 2008- A.L. MVP

Not a bad way to begin your professional career.  Perhaps Dustin is the new Derek Jeter, without the glitz and girlfriends.  I’m talking the guy who makes a team go, who works hard and is just plain a winner.

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We Red Sox fans have gotten a bit spoiled in the last few years.  With much better teams, they’ve won a few more Gold Glove awards than in years past.  Dustin Pedroia became the first Red Sox second baseman to win the award since 1972.  Yep, 36 years.

Dustin had more errors (6 to 4) and a slightly lower fielding percentage than the A’s Mark Ellis (.992 to .993).  But he also had 165 more chances than Ellis.  He made great strides in the second half of the season.  Remember, this guy moved to 2nd base not too long ago after playing shortstop most of his life.  That reminds me of Youk, who played 3rd most of his life before having to learn 1st in the big leagues.

Speaking of Youk, he didn’t repeat at first base.  I’ve never thought of Carlos Pena as an outstanding defender- but he’s made improvements.  Better than Youk?  Doubt it, but Kevin spent a fair amount of time at 3rd this season due to Mike Lowell’s injury.  So I completely understand the choice of Pena over Youk.  This is not like last year when I thought Coco got robbed.

Dustin has a good mindset about this.

“I really didn’t think much about it,” Pedroia said on a conference call. “I was kind of still a little upset after the way the season ended, watching the World Series. I’m definitely excited. I’ve been getting text messages all day.”

Here’s hoping this is the first in a number of them for Mighty Mouse.  But he might not be done with awards this season- as he is one of the leading candidates for the AL MVP.  And just think, in May of 2007 most people thought this guy wouldn’t make it in the majors and were ready to give up on him.

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First it was Tom Brady.  His knee injury ended his season and their hopes for a return to the Super Bowl.  Prior to Monday’s game it was announced that Laurence Maroney was done for the year with a shoulder injury. His injury is not as crippling to the team since they have plenty of running backs.  If Sammy Morris did a bigger number on his knee than he did on the Bronco’s defense (racking up 138 yards in the FIRST HALF), then New England is in trouble.  But if he bounces back, Jordan comes back, and they don’t have to rely on an undrafted rookie free agent, the Patriots’ running game can still be very productive.  That means that Matt Cassel can be productive despite his superb ability to take a sack instead of dumping the ball off.

During the game Rodney Harrison was carted off the field.  Word today is a torn quadriceps, and he’s done for the season- and perhaps his career.

Football is a brutal sport.  The Patriots are not the only team to suffer so many season-ending injuries.  They can quickly put a cap on championship hopes (unless that player is Jeremy Shockey).  There are no guarantees in life, and especially in sports.  Injuries are part of the game, and affect the outcome of many a game or season.  They humble us, or should.  They display the fleeting nature of life, and the precarious nature of success.  They also provide obstacles that can build character, or reveal weakness of character.  Injuries also allow someone else the opportunity to rise to the occasion (think Tom Brady or Lou Gehrig).  Life is just as unpredictable of those sports we follow.

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He doesn’t put up the most spectacular stats.  But J.D. Drew just happens to come thru at the right time.  Bad back or no bad back.  His grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS last year.  His key home run against the Angels this year.  His power surge while Big Papi was on the DL this year.

Last night was just unbelievable.  I was getting ready to turn off the game and hit the hay.  I was going to give the Red Sox one last half inning.  After a whole series of utter futility with RISP, Pedroia came up with an RBI hit that opened the floodgates.  Papi cleared the bases with a long overdue home run.

In the 8th it was Crisp’s lengthy at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch, that finally resulted in an RBI single to tie the game.

In between Papi and Coco, you had Drew driving a rocket into the right field seats to drive in 2.  Then, after walking Bay to get to Drew (and the lefty on lefty match up) Drew got his 5th hit in 8 tries (if I remember right) off Howell to win the game.

He gets paid a good chunk of money.  He’s not flashy, but he plays great defense in right field.  And he gets important hits (leading the Sox in game winning hits this season).  Here’s hoping that Drew and Papi have rediscovered their swing, and that last night was not a fluke.

The young, resilient Tampa Bay Rays are confident they have what it takes to close out Boston in the AL championship series.

In fact, they find it humorous anyone would believe the team’s psyche might have been irreparably damaged when the Red Sox kept their pennant hopes alive with the second-biggest comeback in postseason history. …

Thursday night’s loss is the type of defeat that might destroy some teams. But the Rays have rebounded from difficult situations all season and believe they have the makeup to complete the job against Boston.

I’m sure the 2003 A’s, 2004 Yankees and 2007 Indians all thought the same thing.  They all thought there was no way the Red Sox could beat them.  This is not any of those teams.  No Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Manny etc.  Now there is no Lowell, and Beckett is hurt too.  I can understand their confidence- they are a good team and the Red Sox are a damaged team.  Sometimes things happen like we think they will, and sometimes strange things happen.  I’m hoping for the strange things.

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