Every once in a while you have to clear away some of the clutter in your basement or up in your attic, the accumulation of objects, articles, and artifacts that are stacked on top of each other like Jenga pieces, just taking up space. Many of us possess that stockpile of stuff that is overflowing, overwhelming, and needs to be tossed out.
That’s how my sports-observing conscious feels. So, I’m uncluttering my mind by throwing out 10 thoughts. Then it can be empty as usual. Beat you to the punchline, didn’t I?
1. Let me get this straight, Adalius Thomas and Shawn Springs are unforgivable scofflaws because they dare suggested Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t infallible. But Albert Haynesworth, who since May has dealt with a road rage assault case that was dismissed after he reached “accord and satisfaction” with the accuser and groped a waitress, is a good guy who deserves a clean slate here, no questions asked? This just proves my theory that there are certain aspects of life -- sports, politics, and parenting -- where people override logic and fairness based on unwavering fealty.
By the way, the no contest plea Haynesworth entered to a charge of simple assault to make the sexual abuse case disappear was essentially offered to him back in May. He rejected it. I guess he applied innocence the same way he did effort in D.C. -- conveniently.
2. It raises a red flag that the Red Sox feel the need to bat Carl Crawford seventh consistently -- behind the likes of rookie Ryan Larvanway -- with David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup. Big Papi is supposed to come back tonight, but Youkilis is still out. The aim may be to protect Crawford's fragile confidence, but it prompts deeper examination of it. What is Crawford supposed to think knowing that even decimated by injuries the team doesn’t think batting him higher than seventh gives it the best chance to win? Crawford’s numbers against lefties are abysmal this season (.180 batting average, .281 slugging) and batting him behind Lavarnway Monday night made perfect sense because Crawford entered the game with a .111 career average against Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. But hitting him seventh against righties, like he did last night and Saturday night, is disconcerting. Crawford needs more at-bats to get untracked, not fewer.
3. If Sir Isaac Newton had been a baseball fan he might have named the law of gravity after Josh Reddick. Reddick’s batting average has plummeted like the Dow Jones since the start of the second half, from .393 at the All-Star break to .291. He is 5 for his last 40 after his walk-off hit against the Yankees on Aug. 7. Reddick is a nice player -- although his defensive prowess has not come as advertised -- but J.D. Drew still has a role on this team.
4. Remember way back at the beginning of the season when the Sox intentionally aligned the rotation so Josh Beckett didn’t have to pitch against the Rangers? Now, he is reason to believe the Sox can win two straight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which is a baseball Bermuda grass triangle for the boys from Boston. Beckett has regained his ace card this season. Only Justin Verlander (5.97) is allowing fewer hits per nine innings than Beckett (6.42), and Beckett is fifth in fewest baserunners allowed per nine (9.11). With more run support (3.73) he'd be in the Cy Young discussion.
5. Should the Sox have any non-buyer’s remorse on Oakland A’s righty Rich Harden? They struck a deal to obtain Harden and then reneged after reviewing the pitcher’s medicals, which were voluminous and ominous. The team didn't think Harden's arm, held together by duct-tape, paper clips and Juicy Fruit, would last until October, and didn't want to part with Lars Anderson and a better prospect for damaged goods. Instead, they made a deal with Seattle for Erik Bedard, who was coming off a knee injury.
In his last start, Harden mowed down the Blue Jays, striking out a career-high-tying 11 in seven scoreless innings. He has gone seven innings in two of his last three starts, while Bedard has not gone more than six in any of his four outings. Boston's medical evaluations have been off the mark before. The Sox will be watching with interest -- and possibly regret -- when Harden faces the Yankees Thursday in the Bronx.
6. Inimitable colleague Bob Ryan once famously asked Sox general manager Theo Epstein what the fascination was with J.D. Drew. I’d like to know what the fascination with Andrew Miller is. The Sox have contorted themselves like Nadia Comaneci to keep Miller on the roster until Sept. 1 roster expansion. He is too unreliable to relieve and too unsteady to start. Is there a third kind of pitching I'm not aware of? Mothballed as a starter since July 31 before he took the bump against the Royals last Friday, Miller is going to start again tomorrow in Texas. He has a 5-1 record, but hasn’t beaten an opponent with a winning record. The lithe lefty has big-time upside, but it's possible that might be all he has.
7. Don’t blame Scott Boras if Jacoby Ellsbury walks away from Yawkey Way after the 2013 season. It’s supposed to be baseball gospel that Boras always takes his clients to free agency. Well, Boras client Jered Weaver, who would have hit free agency after next season, signed a five-year, $85 million deal to stay with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of Southern California. At the end of the day, Boras still works for his client, not the other way around. We saw that here with Jason Varitek. If Ellsbury really wants to remain with the Red Sox, he will. If following Rib-Gate last year, his feelings are as bruised as his back or he wants top dollar he will hit the market, with Boras as eager auctioneer.
8. The best save Jonathan Papelbon has made this year is that of his free agent value. Pap has been on the money all season, and now he’s going to get some of it in the offseason. Papelbon has converted 24 consecutive save chances and tossed 14 straight scoreless innings. With his next save, the quirky closer will become the first fireman in baseball history to record 30 saves or more in each of his first six seasons. He is making $12 million this season. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is making $15 million. Papelbon’s asking price should split the difference.
9. All you have to do is look at the Indianapolis Colts quarterback quandary, sans a healthy Peyton Manning, to understand the idea of trading Patriots backup QB Brian Hoyer and turning the reins over to rookie Ryan Mallett makes little sense now. The Patriots have invested too much in this season. While Hoyer playing means the season has detoured in a dyspepsia-inducing direction, he is the type of backup the Patriots could survive with for three or four games if Tom Brady got hurt. That could be the difference between making the playoffs or watching them on TV.
10. This could be a tough season in Kansas City for old friend Scott Pioli. His No. 1 pick, wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, allegedly got served a knuckle sandwich by veteran Chiefs running back Thomas Jones. Then his abrasive, thin-skinned coach, Todd Haley, had a hissy fit about the Ravens scoring too much on the Chiefs in a preseason game.
Plus, Charlie Weis, largely responsible for the development of Matt Cassel, fled to the University of Florida in the offseason. Coming off a 10-6 season, a division title and a home playoff game, expectations are high in KC. But so is the tension. That’s a recipe for Humble Pie.
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.