Monday, December 13, 2004

Shocking News

Hold on to your hairpieces, according to Peter Gammons, Pedro Martinez is now extremely close to being a New York Metropolitan. I guess he doesn't want to win anymore. Honestly, if he's that dumb, good riddance.

Friday, December 10, 2004

No Parcheesi

Somehow the Bengals are getting lumped in with the Browns, and that ain't right. These guys aren't so bad, and they can really score. More specifically, they can score in the one fashion that New England can't really defend at the moment, deep passing. It's deceptive to look at the futility Baltimore and Cleveland experienced against the Patriot secondary and think that Belichick and Crennel have fixed their no-name backups. They haven't, it's just that the Ravens and Browns were not built to exploit them. No matter how mediocre Earthwind Moreland is, and man is he ever, you've still got to be able to get him one on one, run a pattern correctly, and hit the receiver in stride. And if that's how you plan to win the game, you've got to do it over and over, and you've got to do it down field. New England's most recent opponents just weren't those kinds of clubs. If your offense has played "bang away with the running game and use a conservative pass when you have to" for two months, it's pretty hard to become the '88 Chargers overnight. As much as I'm sure Baltimore and Cleveland would've liked to play that game, they just couldn't. It's not their style, and it wouldn't have worked. For Kansas City - it worked, and if Eddie Kennison had better hands the Pats would praying for two Pittsburgh losses instead of one. The Chiefs know how to attack a team through the air, and so, sadly, do the Bengals. When Carson Palmer is on his game, he can air it out. Chad Johnson is a step down from the TO's and Mosses of the world, but it's not a huge step. And Tim Houshkiewicz ain't so shabby either. So this will be a bit of challenge for the New England's on Sunday. Do I think they'll lose? No, but that 11 point spread is a little crazy. And if not for the Corey Dillon factor, I could see this game being a real tough one. Thank God for the zone defense. And Ritz crackers. So good.

The Ninth One, Patriots vs. Bengals: Corey Dillon. It's too easy. You get the feeling CD would Keyser Soze the entire Cleveland organization if he thought he would get away with it.

And finally, news from a Ninth Insider (of which there are so, so many): Pedro Martinez signs with Boston before midnight. Heard it here first. Ok, maybe second.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Breaking Sox News

Red Sox pick up their first free agent, Matt Mantei.

Basically, he's a Scott Williamson replacement. When healthy, he has dominant stuff. Killer fastball and a nasty little slider. Problem is, he's pitched more than 50 innings only once in the last 5 years. His shoulder's been reconstructed more times than Bush's cabinet. But it's probably a low-risk, high reward contract, so if healthy he'll be a force, if not, no major. These moves should be called "Pulling A Theo" from now on. Is anyone better at this?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Caleb Meyer

Ok, ok, enough flowers. It's starting to look like a funeral in The Ninth Home Office. And really, the cakes and chocolates are nice, but it's hard enough to stay in shape. I'll write, I'll write, I don't need to be bribed. Your concern and interest is appreciated, and I'm sorry I had to return the car. To accept it just wouldn't have been ethical. Also, I prefer horseback.

Anyhowzers, how 'bout that Hot Stove! The baseball offseason has suddenly turned into a Mormon high school - ain't nobody hooking up with nobody. Save for the San Francisco Giants, who are one or two crazy signings away from fielding the New York Knickerbockers in 2005, precisely nothing has been going on. Our bold prediction that something exciting would happen by Thanksgiving was thwarted, unless you count Jim Bowden rediscovering his fascination with the irresponsible contract. The Yankees are trying to convince the world that they aren't interested in Randy Johnson, which is about as likely as Ben Affleck's next movie not sucking. Believe me, by February, RJ will be in New York, Vazquez will play in the desert, and Surviving Christmas will still blow. The Mets are making a bizarre run at Pedro Martinez, which will be an interesting test of humanity. Is Omar Minaya dumb enough to offer Pedro 4 years? Don't know. Is Martinez stupid enough to sign on with the Metropolitans? Could be. Was he lying all along about his loyalty to Boston and desire to sign merely an equitable deal? We'll see. It's like the end of one those cliffhanger Batman episodes - find out next week how dumb your favorite baseball player is! Selecting the Mets would earn Pedro an extra year's salary, but cost him at least 5 wins a year and a whole lot of headaches. Can't imagine it happening, but they said the same thing about Bruce Hurst. Varitek is getting closer and closer, and it looks now like a voidable 5th year could get this puppy done. The Ninth predicts Varitek in red stockings by christmas morning. The shortstop hole is a complete mystery, with names like Jose Valentin and Placido Polanco looming as potential signings/disappointments. Actually they're both fine players, but not what I'd call confidence makers. Really though, the whole thing is so quiet that everything is guess work. No one has made a move - not even for Carlos Beltran. I mean, that guy's real good. December 7th, the arbitration deadline, should be an action date on some players, so look out for that. But really, you don't get the feeling big things are looming.

The Celtics, on the other hand, are an interesting little bundle of action. They've lost a lot of close ones this season, so they're record should look better than it does, but I'm telling you, they're learning. Danny Ainge's ludicrous two year plan actually looks like a two year plan. If Boston is able to keep progressing into a fast break team, they could make some noise. Not championship noise, but playoff noise. For now. The draft picks have been outstanding - Tony Allen, Al Jefferson, and Delinjury West have all shown flashes of excellence. You know how hard it is to get three players like that in one draft? Just ask Joe Forte. If you can find him. The story of this season is going to be Paul Pierce's ability to adapt, as highlighted Wednesday against Milwaukee. Doc Rivers is trying to get away from Paul's isolation in the corner style of offense, and so far Pierce has been resistant. It's not that Paul can't dominate in that kind of situation, it's that no one else on the team can. And it creates exactly zero easy baskets. Ok, that's unfair, I should say approximately zero. The Celtics are now very athletic, and they need the entire squad to run, at all times, to take advantage of that. When Paul ignored this against the Bucks, Doc benched him. Correctly. Rivers so far has gotten Payton and Ricky Davis (playing the best basketball of his NBA life) to convert, but he needs The Truth on board. When Paul takes a game over, he scores some points, but he takes bad shots, makes a ton of turnovers, and ignores his teammates. If we wanted Antoine Walker, we would've kept him. So can Pierce become a little more Scottie Pippin and a little less Michael Jordan? If he does, Doc should get his way into another Coach of the Year discussion.

The Ninth One, Patriots vs. Browns: Reason and Logic. Cleveland doesn't have a prayer.