Time Out for Sports Talk: September is the Sweetest Month
Todd: A point I’ve emphasized many times over the years through this blog and on our TOST show is to appreciate how good we have it as sports fans around these parts, despite what the talk show yakkers say. Remember, they typically have to fill 3-4 hours of airtime a day, and apparently it’s easier to do that by yelling at the top of their lungs.Who knew that old friend Rick Pitino was right about something? Fellowship of the miserable, indeed.
But back to my point—name me another city/region right now that can boast having a pro football team that’s perennially a legitimate Super Bowl contender and a pro baseball team that’s on the verge of making the postseason? Welcome to September, my friends!
Let’s start with the Red Sox, who have managed to seize control of the American League East thanks to 21 wins in their last 33 games, while the Blue Jays and Orioles have been playing .500 ball. The capper came at Fenway Park last night in the bottom of the ninth when Hanley Ramirez took a 99 mph Dellin Betances fastball and sent it deep into the center field bleachers at nearly 107 mph, giving the Sox their first walk-off-win-by-home-run in nearly two years.
While the Sox’ bats have run hot and cold and they’ve gone three weeks without winning a game when they’ve scored less than five runs, Rick Porcello and David Price have been rocks in a fairly solid starting rotation, and the bullpen this month has actually had a sub-1.00 ERA, best in the majors. Now if someone between the trio of Pomeranz, Rodriguez and Buchholz can pitch consistently well enough to be a third starter, this team could be a real threat in October.
Then there’s David Ortiz. What more can be said about what he’s doing in his swan song season? At the moment, Big Papi is appropriately sitting on 34 home runs for the season and 537 for his career to pass the immortal Mickey Mantle for 17th all-time. It may be baseball blasphemy to say this, but for the incredible career he’s had in Boston, combined with all the clutch hits (he had another last night to keep the game going for Hanley’s heroics) and the THREE CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS, Ortiz may be the greatest Red Sox player ever. Of course, this argument would be much more of a slam dunk if #34 wasn’t a designated hitter.
Now on to the Patriots, who won what I like to call a ‘gravy’ game because I never expected them to go to the Arizona desert and beat a good Cardinals team without their starting quarterback, tight end, defensive lineman and a patchwork offensive line. For them to win under those circumstances was remarkable.
BTW are the football karma gods finally starting to pay back the Pats? All of a sudden, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ has become a place of good memories for our local gridiron guys. After being denied 19-0 due to a crazy catch and a defense that couldn’t make a key stop, all they’ve done in this building (which also followed that event involving the air in the footballs) is win a Super Bowl because a former Patriot coach out-thought himself and win another game due to a botched snap and missed field goal?
Overall, I have to hand it to the defense who did not get beaten once on a Carson Palmer deep pass, and to Jimmy Garoppolo for not getting rattled in his first career NFL start. Other than a fumble and a couple of overthrows, Garoppolo was up to the challenge throughout, and on those fourth quarter throws to Danny Amendola (on 3rd-and-15) and James White (threading the needle on a 3rd-and-3), I’m not sure Tom Brady could have completed them any better. But before anyone starts accusing me of saying I’d rather see JG10 behind center than TB12….PUH-LEEZE, don’t be ridiculous.
Double shot of previews this week with the Thursday nighter in Week 3. While I’m sure Jimmy G. may experience a few butterflies making his first start at Gillette Stadium and going against a decent Dolphins defense that held Russell Wilson in check last week, Bill Belichick realizes the importance of this huge divisional matchup and that the Pats can take a two-game lead over both Miami and Buffalo just two weeks into the season. They will be focused and ready to go Sunday. Patriots 24, Dolphins 19.
If there is a spot where the Patriots could have a letdown (although they’ve rarely shown them in the Belichick era), it’ll be their game four days later against a good Houston Texans squad led by coach and old friend Bill O’Brien. These Thursday night games tend to turn into clunkers where any outcome is possible, and in the interest of full disclosure, I did predict a 2-2 start with Garoppolo at QB. It probably won’t happen now, but if it did this appears to be an obvious setback. Texans 22, Patriots 17.
Mike: Yup Todd, I agree we've got it going good here in New England! It's a far cry from the late 80s, early 90s when we were "Loserville," and the Patriots were on their way to St. Louis.
Hey, every fan under 30, enjoy this run while it lasts, because it can get much worse. You can't imagine how lucky you are. Trust me, I remember the 2-14 Pats, I don't want to go back to being one of the NFL's irrelevant.
As for your comment about the reversal of fortunes surrounding University of Phoenix Stadium Todd, as long as they aren't playing the Giants, they should be OK.
Speaking of the Pats, color me surprised that they pulled out a solid win in the desert in Week 1. I went into that game with a strong feeling that they would have a tough time against one of the NFC's top teams, especially without Brady and Gronkowski, and I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong!
Turns out Jimmy G can run the offense, and do it quite capably. I'm sure part of it is because he's such an unknown factor to other teams because he simply hasn't played a game of any significance, but still, it was good to see.
One thing is for certain, Jimmy is poised to make himself a lot of money in the coming weeks, either with New England, or with a team desperately looking for a QB. He's got a 4-game audition before he goes back to the bench (and face it, there will be no controversy, he's going to sit when Brady comes back), and then he can let the bidding begin when his current contract runs out.
It's a pretty good place to be in. And hopefully he can lead the Pats to a 4-0 record so Brady can finish the march to another title and the most awkward Super Bowl trophy presentation in the history of the NFL.
Looking forward to the next 2 games, I think New England has the chance to get a good roll started against Miami at home. Even if Gronk is out again (and it looks like he may be), I think the Pats will get past the Fish here. New England wins 27-10.
As for Week 3 against Houston, it's hard to get a feel for that game, but I don't think there will be a letdown in a prime time game at home. New England over Houston 24-13.
Our next live TOST television show is on Wednesday, September 21 at 8:00pm, which you can watch here. Tweet your questions or comments using the hashtag #TOSTsep21.