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.