Patriots Day … Eve

A bit of a change this Sunday with a nightime posting of thoughts and links.

We couldn’t have asked for much more this weekend, as the Red Sox swept away the Devil Rays, and the Celtics collected wins against the Heat and Raptors to capture their first Atlantic Division crown since 1991-1992, Larry Bird’s final season (unfortunately, technical difficulties on FSN tonight meant we missed the closing seconds of a 103-98 win).

It was a perfect conclusion to a memorable week in Boston, highlighted by Opening Day at Fenway Park last Monday. Count me among those who had the shivers during the ring ceremony and the raising of the 2004 championship banner in center field. One of the most interesting – and passionate – recaps of the festivities was delivered in Chad Finn’s Touching All The Bases blog entry called “The best day ever.”

Apart from the nonsense “curse” lyrics, I actually enjoyed Terry Cashman’s song. As Bill Griffith points out in his Sunday column this morning, Cashman’s effort brought “the only mention of many of the Sox old-timers who thought enough of Monday’s flag-raising ceremonies to be on hand.”

Pete Gustin, the voice guy for WEEI’s in-show parodies, pokes fun at Cashman on his production website. Go to the “TERRY CASHMAN SONG PARODY” link. Gustin’s bits don’t usually work for me, but this one should give you a chuckle or two.

Moving forward to today’s papers, I’ll just mention a handful of articles.

The Globe’s Bob Hohler has an in-depth report on the rampant use of amphetamines, or “greenies,” in Major League Baseball, as well as the league’s struggles to grapple with the problem. Hohler has a separate, shorter story on the potential role of Congress in shaping a revised drug policy for baseball. Given the millions that MLB has spent in lobbying and making federal campaign donations, there’s certainly reason to be skeptical.

Also in the Globe, Nick Cafardo writes about a hard-working Manny Ramirez.

And this from Tony Massarotti today:

The Sox had played only nine games when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays [stats, schedule] arrived at Fenway on Friday, but their starting pitching over the first 12 days of the season left a great deal to be desired. Red Sox starters ranked 23rd in baseball with a 5.02 ERA entering the weekend series with the Devil Rays, a number that ballooned to 6.34 without the contributions of Tim Wakefield [stats, news] (1-0, 1.32 ERA), who is the only starter to have turned in two solid outings.

And lest anyone forget, Wakefield is the only member of the group eligible for free agency at the end of the year.

Of course, the season has only just begun, though there has been little seen to ease the concerns about the Sox' starting rotation.

Another case of the media playing up statistics far too early and attempting to incite controversy when there is none. Tony either had a Friday afternoon deadline for his Sunday notes column, or simply decided not to at least mention the seven shutout innings tossed by David Wells in the weekend’s opening game against the Devil Rays.

After Wells, Matt Clement, and Tim Wakefield combined to allow just three runs over 20 innings in three wins over Tampa Bay, Boston’s starters now sport a respectable 3.88 ERA, which undoubtedly has vaunted the group well above the 23rd spot in baseball.

This season’s rotation may ultimately prove to be weaker than the 2004 edition, but might the media be capable of waiting until May or June before issuing such a judgment?

On the football front, Ron Borges offers an uplifting profile of Lofa Tatupu, son of former Patriots fullback and special-teams standout Mosi Tatupu.

Kevin Mannix, meanwhile, warns that the early part of the 2005 schedule could pose major problems for a Patriots team in “full-blown transition,” and reminds us that “[f]or all his obvious skills as a head coach, [Bill Belichick] doesn’t have the best track record when he handles one of the coordinator jobs.” Sounds like trouble, huh?

Fortuantely, the ProJo’s Tom E. Curran offers us a more positive story, as he catches up with the Super Bowl MVP, Deion Branch.

Patriots Day schedule and feedback
Are you ready for the Boston Marathon? The women’s race goes off at 11:31am tomorrow, while the men start 12:00. Channels 4 and 5 have TV coverage, and WBZ broadcasts the event on radio beginning at 11:15. On WEEI, “Dennis and Callahan” and “The Big Show” are likely to cast the competitors as tall, skinny freaks of nature.

The traditional 11am Patriots Day game for the Red Sox is always fun. Enjoy it.

Thank you for your feedback yesterday. More is always welcomed on today’s posting: [email protected].