Quick – which is the bigger story:
A) David Ortiz benched again against a lefthanded pitcher amidst a deep slump.
B) Malcom Butler has to sit out offseason field drills in June for a few days because his flight was cancelled.
Based on reaction yesterday, it was B, definitely B.
What does that say about the state of the Red Sox and Patriots, respectively? For all the insistence from the old guard that this is a Red Sox town, even with the Celtics and Bruins out of the playoffs, and the Patriots still about seven weeks away from the start of training camp, the Red Sox are mostly an afterthought.
The Butler news, first broken by Jeff Howe, immediately set off reactions on Twitter and sports radio. It continued into the evening on television. National guys like Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport weighed in.
While the initial report was three weeks, it actually is more like two, and we don’t know how many actual on-field practices the team had in that span. They’re allowed up to 10 days of OTA’s in total, plus a mandatory minicamp.
Patriots.com has their OTA schedule thusly:
Bill Belichick’s team will hold its 10 OTA sessions on May 26, May 28-29, June 1, June 3-4, June 8-9 and June 11-12, leading up to the mandatory mini-camp June 16-18.
I’ve heard, but not confirmed that Butler was on the field this week. June 8-9. He is supposed to be on the field today and presumably tomorrow.
So it would seem, at most, that Butler missed six days of on-field OTA sessions.
Malcolm Butler said he has been practicing all week (Monday, Tuesday, today), so his official tally of missed practices was six.
That was the one detail I couldn't nail down yesterday, which led to me writing "nearly three weeks" just in case you're keeping score.
A little different than:
If you hold Malcolm Butler out for 3 weeks of oTAs just b/c of a missed flight (due to weather!) then I don't know what you're doing
OK, six days. And the whole time he was in facility, working out, watching film, etc etc.
Still, you might say, holding a guy out for 60% of the OTA sessions because his flight was cancelled?
I take it like this, the Patriots think Butler is a pretty special talent. They also know that since the Super Bowl, he has been lauded and fetted and fussed over wherever he’s gone. This sends a message that that time is over. It’s time to focus, it’s time to be fully committed. Would they do this to Tom Brady? Probably not. Would they do it to Daxton Swanson? I don’t think so either.
Butler is a guy they’re going to need to contribute and they need his complete focus. This sends that message.
Edit: Tom Curran says it much better than I: Butler helps Belichick gets message out
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