Time Out for Sports Talk: Pre-Thanksgiving Leftovers
Todd: Before we take a couple weeks off to recover from our respective tryptophan-induced food comas, I have a few sports-related thoughts.
Starting with the Red Sox, kudos to Dave Dombrowski for pulling off his first trade of the hot stove season. Craig Kimbrel is 27 years old and one of the premier closers in baseball. I don’t think the asking price of four lower-level prospects was that high to shore up the bullpen, and it takes pressure off both Koji Uehara (recovering from injury) and Junichi Tazawa (general overuse).
2016 will mark the beginning of Kimbrel’s career with the Sox, but will also be the last hurrah for David Ortiz. Last week on his 40th birthday, Big Papi decided he’s rather go out at or near the top of his game and not hang around too long like some Sox sluggers of the past. I admire his take, but the way he’s performed the last few years it’s going to be hard to replace that bat come 2017.
The news of Ortiz’ impending retirement also makes me wonder if the Sox will now try and put up with Hanley Ramirez for another year in the field before shifting the 21st century version of Dr. Strangeglove to the DH spot. I suppose the desire to deal Hanley off isn’t as strong now as it may have been a week ago.
Another interesting aspect of the Ortiz announcement was that it took place on a website and not during a Fenway Park news conference. Not that Fenway hasn’t been busy enough this month, which is pretty unusual to say for November.
How about Boston College playing a ‘road’ game four miles from their campus? They can thank the Notre Dame football Shamrock Series for that, although it was strange seeing ‘Notre Dame’ and ‘Fighting Irish’ painted in the end zones. But it was cool to see football return to the Fens for the first time since Gino Cappelletti and Jim Nance (no relation to the CBS announcer) were donning the old red uniforms of the Boston Patriots.
Even cooler than the pigskin getting tossed around was the return of Irish hurling to Fenway for the first time in six decades. I was fortunate enough to attend the Galway-Dublin match in person on Sunday. Even though they were playing a modified version of their sport, it was still very entertaining to watch, combining elements of lacrosse, hockey and—appropriately enough since they were playing at Fenway—baseball. Also fun for Boston fans to watch was the occasional skirmish between the rival teams.
No brouhahas broke out between the Patriots and Bills last night, but just about any other possible delay took place in a game that ran over three and a half hours. The Pats survived with their tenth straight win, but might not have had Rex Ryan’s Bills stopped shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and other gaffes. On the other hand, I was impressed with New England’s defensive effort, which won the game for them last night and will definitely need to be counted on to keep playing well down the stretch.
Life after Julian Edelman certainly looks like it’s going to be a struggle, and if Danny Amendola’s knee injury is serious at all, the offense is in big trouble. How about the Bills’ D holding Rob Gronkowski to two catches? Gronk definitely needs to step up his game with Brady’s options dwindling to a precious few. The fact I’m also holding my breath on Aaron Dobson’s status is not a good sign. I’d have more to say about last night’s game, but I have to stop because of the inadvertent whistle…oops!
So now the Pats head to Denver for a matchup that doesn’t quite have the luster it did a few weeks ago with Peyton Manning out due to injuries and ineffectiveness. The 6-foot, 8-inch Brock Osweiler will make his second start at quarterback for the Broncos, and he did a fairly serviceable job in a win over the Bears last week. Combine that with the Denver defense and the mile-high altitude always posing an obstacle for the Pats and this game will hardly be easy.
Based on the Pats’ short week, injuries and the fact I don’t think they’re finishing 16-0, I’m leaning towards an upset here, even without Peyton playing: Broncos 19, Patriots 17. At least the Pats have a 2-game cushion for the AFC’s top seed.
Week 12 Picks: (2-1 last week, 17-13 season): As is my annual tradition—especially since they added a third Thanksgiving game—I’ll predict all the Turkey Day outcomes and go with the Lions over the Eagles, the Panthers over the Cowboys and the Packers over the Bears.
Mike: Not much to say this week, I'm still recovering from the slog that was the Monday Night Patriots game. Wow, that game just seemed to take forever and a day to play, and it had to be one of the worst-officiated games I've seen in recent memory.
Anyway, as I get out of here for an extended Thanksgiving holiday, I'll leave you with the thought that we may have already seen the last Brady-Manning matchup. Think NBC will be looking forward to a Manning-less Broncos team?
Pats win 24-17.
Week 12 Picks (2-1 last week, 15-15 season): Since Todd went with Thanksgiving games, and I would pick mine the same way, I'll go with some different games. I'll take the Bengals over the Rams, the Seahawks over the Steelers and the Jags over San Diego!