< Back to front page Text size +

A little spring cleaning on the sports front

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  March 23, 2012 10:03 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Sprinkling the infield with a little sunshine, a little rain, and a whole lot of fertilizer ...

In the wake of their collapse, beating up on the New York Jets is the fashionable thing to do, just as it was to beat up on the 2011 Red Sox. The teams share some similarities, and they still share them entering their respective 2012 seasons.

Which is why neither should be dismissed.

Let's start with the Jets, who are now being mocked for being so downright stupid as to take on Tim Tebow, whom they acquired from the Denver Broncos for essentially a fourth-round pick. Why is this so dumb? The Jets have an inconsistent quarterback in what is now, more than ever, a quarterback league, and they failed in any pursuit of Peyton manning, however brief. So what were they supposed to do? Go into next season with the same situation at quarterback and offense that has proven insufficient for three years?

Here's what Tebow gives the Jets: options. New York isn't going to win a Super Bowl solely with its passing attack, and the Jets still may not win one now, either. But if the Jets are being truthful by saying about Drew Stanton is still their backup quarterback, then Tebow could provide them with an offensive wrinkle the way Kordell Stewart once did for the Steelers.

And there are these factors: Sanchez, who has been babied since he arrived in New York, needs competition, be it from Stanton or Tebow. And the Jets clearly need character in a locker room that badly lacked it, which something Tebow absolutely, positively possesses in bulk.

After all, look at the impact Tebow had on last year's Broncos, who quickly became believers once he began to play.

* Some of us still would have liked to see the Patriots invest in a true impact player on defense, but it's hard to argue too much with what the Patriots have done thus far in free agency. While retaining Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Dan Connolly and Wes Welker, among others, the Patriots now have added Brandon Lloyd, Daniel Fells, Robert Gallery, Jonathan Fanene, Trevor Scott, Will Allen, Donte Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez, Steve Gregory and Spencer Larsen. Some of those players will prove to be nothing more than names in a pile of bodies, but the New England passing attack suddenly looks as prolific as ever.

At the moment, three questions remain -- two more significant than the other: the defense, the left side of the offensive line and, to a lesser extent, running back. (Fare thee well, Benjarvus Green-Ellis.) With Logan Mankins injured and Matt Light potentially calling it a career, Tom Brady's blindside is currently in question, with or without Gallery and Nate Solder. As for the defense, one can only hope the Patriots are planning to be aggressive in the draft, where they have two first-round selections and two second-round selections.

Could that be at least part of the reason the Patriots asked Brady to restructure his contract and free up even more salary cap space?

* We all have every right to criticize the Red Sox and question their character in the aftermath of last season, but let's not get silly. The Red Sox are not going to go 83-79. From May 13 through Aug. 31 of last season, the Red Sox went 66-32, a .673 winning percentage that translates into a 109-win pace over a 162-game schedule. There is plenty of talent to win. What this all comes down to is attitude and health, both of which are legitimately in question.

But talent? The Red Sox have plenty. In fact, they still have far more than most.

* Given Bobby Valentine's recent remarks about criticizing his players, can't help but wonder when Valentine said Yankees manager Joe Girardi wasn't very "courteous" in pulling the plug on Thursday night's tie game, was that a fact or an opinion?

* Maybe it has something to do with the preponderance of people in this business from the Newhouse School of Communications, but does anyone else find Syracuse alumni to be disproportionately annoying? We're not saying Syracuse folks have quite entered the arena of Boston College, Duke, and Notre Dame folks, but for a school and program that has been smeared by a succession of scandals of late, Syracuse alums ought to be more red faces and fewer of that unsightly orange clothing.

* The New Orleans Saints got what they deserved, plain and simple. Placing prices on the heads of opposing players is disgraceful to begin with, and lying to cover it up is just as bad.

But as long as Drew Brees stays in uniform, the Saints are going to be a huge factor in the NFC South, especially when New Orleans' out-of-conference schedule features the AFC West.

Of course, New Orleans also has to play the NFC East.

* Peyton Manning immediately makes the Denver Broncos the favorite in the pathetic AFC West, but Denver's schedule in 2012 in hardly a cupcake. Thanks to its first place finish, Denver will face New England and Houston this season. Additionally, the Broncos have both the NFC South and the AFC North on their schedule, which means meetings with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati. New Orleans and Atlanta, among others.

* We all know that Jose Iglesias probably is not quite ready to hit consistently in the major leagues, but many of us believe the Sox should give Iglesias the nod to start the year with the big club. The Sox can carry one fewer pitcher in the early going, anyway, and the team would benefit a great deal from having a young potentially dynamic player on its roster -- even if Iglesias is only dynamic on defense -- to start the season.

Think about it: when was the last time the Red Sox had a rookie everyone could truly get excited about? Jacoby Ellsbury certainly comes to mind, but that was four years ago. When the Atlanta Braves were at the peak of their reign during the `90s, the Braves liked to integrate about two new starters every three years, turning over the stock and keeping the team infused.

Particularly in the wake of last year, the Red Sox could use the positive energy and bounce Iglesias would bring. The team has too many overpriced veterans to begin with. If Iglesias proves overmatched offensively, the Sox can subsequently send him down to the minors, still leaving open for the possibility of a return late in the season.

What would be wrong with that?

Tony's Top 5

Favorite blog entries

The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

Talk to Mazz