You know that spring is just around the corner when Truck Day has come and gone. Truck Day was yesterday, so that must mean we don’t have much longer to go. It’s been a long, cold winter, folks, and we’ve been without baseball for way too long. There have been some interesting decisions and some interesting non-decisions made this offseason; I don’t know how this season will turn out. It may be better or worse than we expect. All I know is that Pitchers and Catchers is coming – in fact, Lester is already down there – and soon we’ll be talking about Spring Training! Finally!
Speaking of Pitchers and Catchers, just so everyone knows what we’re getting into, apparently Bobby V. doesn’t believe in pitch counts. He says that they’re completely arbitrary and cites his experience in Japan as evidence. As Dice-K has amply informed everyone who will listen already, in Japan there essentially are no pitch counts. But this is not Japan, these are not Japan’s players, this is not Japan’s six-man rotation, and this is not Japan’s schedule. All I’m saying is that if something’s not broken, Bobby V. should not attempt to fix it. Discarding the legitimacy of pitch counts is not a way to account for the fact that we still need two starters, and he seems to think that moving Bard and Aceves from the bullpen to the bench as starters wouldn’t be a big deal for either. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal if it were done properly, but I don’t think discarding pitch counts completely constitutes “properly.” At most, Bobby V. should be approaching this issue on a case-by-case basis. There may be some pitchers who are naturally inclined to throw more, and there may be some pitchers naturally inclined to throw less. If the pitch count has to be ignored, it should be ignored in a situation where it’s within a pitcher’s natural comfort zone and ability to do so. Otherwise he runs the risk of running all of our pitchers into the ground because a good pitcher will stay out there and compete for as long as he’s allowed to do so. I don’t even want to think about all the games we would have lost if Tito didn’t pull people at the right time; I venture to guess that total would be more than the games we would have done by doing the exact same thing.
Speaking of pitchers, Roy Oswalt is still on the market, and we have indeed made it an offer. The offer itself is acceptable, but someone from his camp has stated that, geographically, he just doesn’t want to be in Boston and would rather play in places like Texas or St. Louis which, as I’m sure is readily recognizable, are warmer and potentially National League and therefore more pitcher-friendly. As they say, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. But if you can’t take the cold, don’t even think about coming into the kitchen in the first place.
Last but not least, congratulations to Kevin Youkilis, who apparently is engaged to Tom Brady’s sister, Julie. Two great Boston sports franchises unite.
In other news, the Super Bowl was obviously a painful disappointment, quite literally in fact. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. During the offseason, this Patriots team was touted as the Patriots team that differed from other Patriots teams in recent years due to its defense. It’s no secret that, while the Patriots have had a good defense, the defense has been just that: good. Not great, and certainly not extraordinary like the offense. This team was supposed to be a step in the right direction of addressing that issue. When we barely squeaked by the Ravens, we knew the Super Bowl was going to be a close game. And it was. I personally just never thought it would be close not in our favor and that we would lose, 21-17. It was 2008 all over again: the Giants’ defense was better than ours, and it matched evenly against our offense, which meant that they were able to make more plays. Honestly, I still thought we had a chance even after that last touchdown. There was less than a minute on the clock, but that would have been enough for a successful drive downfield had we not been put in a position where we had to waste time getting another first down after that string of three unsuccessful attempts, the last of which was a sack. It was painful to watch, and it forced Brady to have to deliver a Hail Mary that would have won the whole game instantly, right then and there, had it been caught. And it almost was. But it wasn’t, and that’s how wins and losses are determined, isn’t it. And it’s not like it’s all the defense’s fault either. They did well, given the circumstances, especially on the Giants’ third down. The offense also made its fair share of small mistakes that added up big time. It seemed like a million of Brady’s passes were just a little off this way or that way or that this one fumbled or that one should totally have caught it, and that would have given us the points necessary such that the fact that the defense allowed the twenty-one points wouldn’t have mattered. We all know Wes Welker should have made that catch with his eyes closed – he led the NFL with 122c catches – but obviously it’s ridiculous to attribute an entire loss to only one play. In the end, we made it to the Super Bowl, we kept it a close game, and Brady set a Super Bowl record for consecutive completions. We lost, and it was crushing and devastating and, as I said, painful. But we’ll be back. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that we’ll be back for sure. And the B’s beat the Caps and Predators and dropped a 6-0 shutout to the Sabres.