Feeling the Heat

A hot day in Chicago leaves the Red Sox wilting. The buzz around the Patriots picks up as they prepare for their first days of training camp. A review of a few Sunday articles and Lance Armstrong completing his quest make up this Monday edition of the links.

The Red Sox went into yesterday’s game attempting to take three of four from the team with the best record in the American League. They had to settle for splitting the series as Bronson Arroyo struggled early and the Red Sox fell to the White Sox 6-4. Chris Snow takes note of the oppressive heat out in Chicago, hottest in at least ten years at U.S. Cellular Field. Paul Doyle says that the four game series revealed nothing about either team’s postseason chances. Steven Krasner notes that neither team was really able to make a statement this weekend. Michael Silverman notes that the Red Sox squandered plenty of opportunities yesterday. David Borges says that we can’t point to July 24th of this season as a turning point.

Turning point. The above articles from Borges and Krasner both reference last July 24th, which has gone down in legend among fans and media as the “turning point” of the Red Sox season. It was indeed perhaps the most memorable day of the regular season, as Jason Varitek scuffled with Alex Rodriguez and then Bill Mueller hit a game winning home run off of Mariano Rivera. John Tomase wrote a whole feature on the game and it’s significance yesterday. It’s been mentioned in this space before, but today is a perfect time to mention it again. The media loves “turning points”. Go back over the coverage of the team from this season or any season, and note how many times a writer will speculate that THIS game could be the turning point of the entire season. Whether it is a need to simplify things and be able to point to and anoint an exact moment when a team came together or just simply overanalyzing the impact that singular games and moments have on a club, I’m really not sure, though I suspect the former.

It has pretty much been universally accepted that the July 24th game of last year was the turning point for the 2004 Red Sox. It may have been, at least for the club’s own confidence against the Yankees. But in the big scheme of things was it? Well in the two weeks following the brawl, July 25 – August 7th, the Red Sox went 6-5. They went 11-8 until August 16th, which if you solely look at the standings and W-L records, might be called the true turning point of the season, as that is the date they started a 16 of 17, 19 of 21 streak which propelled them into the playoffs. So really it was about three weeks after the so-called “turning point” of the season when the Red Sox fortunes really did turn. But it’s a much better story to put the turning point on that July 24th game with the Yankees. That game might’ve given the Red Sox a spark to believe they could beat the Yankees, but it took a little while longer for things really to kick in for the Red Sox in 2004.

Tony Massarotti writes that the White Sox are “simply not that good” and should not scare the Red Sox and their fans. Gordon Edes looks at Bronson Arroyo and others sweating it out as they await the trade deadline this coming Sunday. Silverman looks at Arroyo, who while warming up yesterday discovered that he was without his trademark pitch, his sweeping curveball. Massarotti reports on how the Red Sox players were able to deal with the heat yesterday.

Snow’s notebook reports on rookie closer Craig Hansen, who signed over the weekend and is reporting to extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida to begin work on his pro career. Silverman’s notebook looks at Alex Cora playing well at shortstop while giving Edgar Renteria a day off. Krasner’s notebook examines Arroyo having a bad feeling while warming up, and realizing he had no curveball. Doyle’s notebook looks at the Red Sox heading down to Tampa next, hoping to cool off a little bit.

Jerome Solomon looks at the Patriots rookies running around as they reported over the weekend for training camp. First round pick Logan Mankins remains unsigned. Michael Felger examines the tight ends and receivers for the Patriots, an area of strength (like many others) for this team. Felger has already predicted at least a couple times that veteran tight end Christian Fauria will be a casualty of camp. Michael Parente looks at the offensive line, for the most part a group of veterans that should keep Tom Brady safe and open holes for Corey Dillon. Alan Greenberg says that despite losing Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, the Patriots still have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and that might be enough to allow them to make history this season. Other than the always entertaining Willie McGinest, Nick Cafardo’s Pro Football Notes in the Globe yesterday held true to form, praise for Tom Donahoe in Buffalo, plenty of agent and contract talk, and speculation of Roman Phifer returning to New England, something that Felger has been talking about for months. I love the Daniel Graham comment, claiming that he only got a five year deal because the Patriots weren’t sold on him. And yet they moved up the draft to select him.

Also be sure to check out Jackie MacMullan’s feature yesterday on Doug Flutie and the battle his son and family face with Dougie Jr’s battle with autism. You might think you’ve heard this story before, but you haven’t heard it to this degree. A great job by MacMullan, and a glimpse at what we used see from the Sunday Globe on a regular basis.

Yesterday’s NBA notes held an interest contrast in conclusions. The negative Peter May writes that the young Celtics will never develop into more than just Clippers East, while Steve Bulpett, who was actually in Vegas and saw these young players with his own eyes…something May didn’t do…says that; “The more one sees of the young Celtics, the more it seems the best thing that could happen to this team would be for 2007 to get here in a hurry.” That seems to indicate that there is plenty of promise for this young team.

The Bruins got what they wanted out the labor deal, now the question is going to be whether anyone wants to play for them. Russ Conway attempts to answer that question in his Sunday NHL notes.

Bonnie DeSimone looks at Lance Armstrong finishing his quest for a seventh straight Tour De France and riding into the sunset as a champion. There are plenty more Armstrong stories on the New York Sports News page.

NESN has Red Sox/Devil Rays at 7:00. ESPN has Orioles/Rangers at 7:00.

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