Sports and music both generate heated debate and passionate opinions. What sounds good to one person sounds horrible to another. So, it’s time to fire up the iThink and put my sports thoughts on shuffle.
This edition dedicates Lupe Fiasco’s song “Superstar” to Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and his first-round arm talent. Mallett would do well to heed Lupe’s words: “Want to believe my own hype, but it’s too untrue.”
I think the Patriots are on a mission to get something for Mallett before he leaves as a free agent (and a wasted third-round pick) after this season. There are lobbyists in Washington who wish they could spin as favorably as the Patriots and their national media supplicants are on Mallett’s ability. The campaign continued Thursday night with the Patriots holding out Tom Brady in their preseason opener against the Washington Redskins with the dual purpose of protecting the franchise and showcasing Mallett.
I think it’s incredibly hard to judge whether a quarterback can play in real games from faux ones. In 2008, Matt Cassel led the Patriots to just two field goals in 17 preseason drives. Then when Brady went down in the season opener, Cassel proved himself to be a competent NFL quarterback. But if Mallett were so good, don’t you think that Bill Belichick would be fighting to keep him as Brady’s successor, and not pumping Mallett’s trade value the way it was getting pumped up around May’s NFL Draft?
I think Jon Lester has played his last game as a Red Sox. The Fenway Fairy Tale of Lester returning in free agency sounds nice and would be welcome, but it’s not going to happen. The only way Lester ends up back in Boston is if he or the Sox take their public relations posture and make it their actual negotiating stance. The Sox have to love, admire, and respect Lester so much that they’re willing to give him a market-level deal. Lester has to take the discount he has alluded to in interviews and apply it to the negotiating table. Both sides are likely to find terms more to their liking elsewhere.
I think the Sox have to wean themselves off Daniel Nava. John Farrell’s insistence on playing Nava over Mookie Betts, and starting Nava on Wednesday instead of Jackie Bradley Jr., is counterproductive. Betts was sent down Thursday, after starting two of the Sox’ first five games since the Great Purge. Nava, not in the lineup Thursday, started four of those five. The 31-year-old Nava was great last year with an .831 OPS, but the Sox know his ceiling. They have to find out what Betts can be and whether JBJ can hit.
I think the calls for the Red Sox to avoid Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp like the plague were off base. If we were to believe that Grady “Griffey” Sizemore was going to revert to his 2008 self, then why is Kemp consigned to doom? Contract size should not dictate the ability to recapture form after career-threatening injury. Sizemore is hitting now with Philadelphia, but Kemp is raking. Since the All-Star break, he has a slash line of .344/.425/.672 in 18 games and has hit as many home runs as David Ortiz (6). His 14 homers on the season equal the Sox’ outfield total.
Entering Thursday, there were 16 qualified outfielders in the majors with an OPS above .800. Kemp is one of them (.819). He has a higher OPS than Matt Holliday, Adam Jones, Alex Gordon, and Yoenis Cespedes.
I think the first NFL preseason game is overrated. Every year we get all excited for the return of NFL football and the first preseason game. Then you watch it. It’s devoid of action, full of ennui, and a far cry from the regular-season product. It’s like expecting to eat filet mignon and getting Steak-umm. Remember Zach Sudfeld, the tight end who was the star of last year’s Patriots preseason? He is a paragon for reading too much into something that means so little.
I think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell whiffed on the Ray Rice suspension. The Guardian of the Game was defensive last Friday in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame trying to justify his two-game suspension of Rice for being charged with an assault on his fiancee, now wife.
It came off as insensitive when Goodell cited Rice’s status as a first-time offender of the league’s conduct rules, as if Rog were saying that Rice had to have been involved in another domestic violence incident to warrant a harsher penalty. Goodell should have suspended Rice for six games, with the possibility (probability, really) of having the sentence commuted to three.
I think Baseball Hall of Fame ballots should be public. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Baseball Writers Association of America announced a series of changes to the voting process last month. They include voters having to sign a code of conduct and having their names made public.
As sportswriters, we constantly demand accountability for decisions and actions from athletes. It’s hypocritical not to reciprocate that accountability, especially with something as important as the Hall of Fame.
I think Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams is going to have a lot of balls thrown his way next week, when the Patriots and Eagles hold joint practices in Foxborough.
Williams, a former Baltimore Raven, called the Patriots “cheaters” last Friday, and said it’s a fact that they haven’t won a Super Bowl since “Spygate.” Thanks for the history lesson, Cary. Belichick feigns that he doesn’t hear this stuff, but he’ll have Brady send a retort loud and clear.
I think it’s all quiet on the West End front for the Bruins. The Presidents’ Trophy winners are manacled by the salary cap. But no forward upgrades and resting on your roster equal a tough case for improvement.