The Boston Red Sox were on a tear, winning games by a margin of at least 10 runs per game. They won two-thirds of their games in May and lost only two games before interleague play when everything changed.

David Ortiz has been consistent with his run production with 48 runs behind only Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ortiz is the designated hitter, which is not used in National League ballparks. Taking away that kind of production can put a team back a step, but it was Carl Crawford’s injury that made the team suffer. Carl was struggling in April (batting .155, 1 home run, 6 runs, 15 hits, 17 strikeouts) and turned it around in May (batting .304, 3 homeruns, 19 runs, 34 hits). Crawford's production continued in June (batting .278, 2 homeruns, 8 runs, 15 hits) until his injury during the first game of interleague play hosting the Milwaukee Brewers. It was Crawford being out that took the Red Sox a step back. Losing Ortiz at DH made it little worse.

The Red Sox played their normal ways in game 1 against the Brewers, winning 10-4. Ortiz had 3 hits and 1 run while Crawford got injured at first base ain his only at bat. The Brewers went on to win game 2 and the Red Sox won game 3, but struggles were becoming noticeable without Crawford.

Next up was the San Diego Padres, who swept the Sox at Fenway. Ortiz had a productive game 1 (2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk), but did nothing but make a plate appearance in the next two games. The Red Sox then went on the road to Pittsburgh, where the DH was not allowed and played as if they were scared of crime in the Steal City.

With Crawford out, Red Sox Manager Terry Francona put Ortiz in for one at-bat in 2 of the 3 games as a pinch hitter. The Red Sox are going to lose if Ortiz does not produce and Crawford does not play. Those two are the heart and soul of the team, even with Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Eilisbury playing well. The Red Sox need their team back intact to play at their potential.

*All stats as of June 28, 2011 & from CSNNE & ESPN.

Every year right around this time, Red Sox fans become nervous, anxious and scared that we're going to take our yearly dive after the All-Star break. This week has proven nothing different than the past as we've lost three out of four to the AL West leading Texas Rangers in the first series since the break.

The Sox are currently 6.5 games back of the first place New York Yankees and fell to 3.5 games back of Tampa Bay for the AL Wild Card. This is nothing new for Boston since we're used to playing from behind and making a late run in August to pull into the Wild Card spot or even steal the division from the Yankees. The big difference this season is all the injuries that the Red Sox have sustained over the length of the season.

Not Playing Hurt

Aside from the multiple injured Red Sox, the media in Boston has begun to single out and attack centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Among the other seventy-six players on the DL including everyday players and starting pitchers, something has to click in order for the team to pull it back together and get back in the race.

The Tobin Bridge Theory

There's plenty of time and games to make up room in the AL East and we're not even close to thinking that we're out. Get back on the 111, ride it to the top and take the elevator down to the bottom and take a stroll through Charlestown. Take a breath, remain calm, just like we did last season and the season before and wait for the cards to fall into place. The Yankees and Devil Rays will eventually hit a skid of their own and that's when we need to get hot. Josh Beckett will begin the return from the infirmary on Friday and others will continue to follow. Think twice, don't jump.

Thanks to dougtone for the view from the Tobin Bridge.

It’s been more than a week since Jimmy Garoppolo led the New England offense out onto the field at Arrowhead Stadium, with living legend Tom Brady sitting morosely on the bench with an exasperated look of frustration and defeat on his face.

Getting benched in the fourth quarter is not that unusual for Tom Brady in reality. The circumstances last Monday night, however, were drastically different from all the times Brady has taken a seat after building large leads. It is difficult to recall, even, the last time Brady was benched in and because of an out-of-reach game.

During that night a historic loss for the Brady-era Patriots took place. The 41-14 blowout was the second-worst loss of Bill Belichick’s and Tom Brady’s career together (the worst being a 31-0 shutout loss to Buffalo a decade ago).

When asked about the defeat at his Wednesday press conference, Belichick had no answers (or simply refused to give them), as he responded to any question with “We’re on to Cincinnati.”

Belichick’s “explanation” leaves a lot to the imagination. In a world in which Olivia Munn can be blamed for a bad game by Aaron Rodgers, anything goes. Realistically speaking, however, it is unlikely that Gisele Bundchen (Brady’s supermodel wife) is at all at fault for Tom Brady’s recent decline. The more likely explanations are much more obvious and sensible.

For one, Brady’s receiving corps is terrible. Julian Edelman is a good receiver, but he should never be anyone’s go-to guy. Edelman is at his best when a better receiver—or two—draws the bulk of the coverage, allowing Edelman one-on-one matchups. He usually wins these with his precise route-running. But with no No. 1 receiver ahead of him on the depth chart, Edelman is drawing more attention from safeties and being bottled up on routes beyond ten yards.

Meanwhile, tight end Rob Gronkowski is a constant target for over-under coverage from a combination of linebackers and safeties, even at partial health. As Gronkowski’s health and usage return to tops, the New England offense should improve.

Then there is Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, who have both been healthy scratches in multiple games this season. Thompkins was an undrafted free agent, and really any production New England has gotten out of him exceeds expectations, but Dobson, who was a second-round pick, has struggled with injuries and personality issues. Dobson’s “inactive” designations apparently result from a shouting match with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Rounding out the disappointing receivers, Danny Amendola has been an epic free-agency bust. The man who was supposed to be the next Wes Welker has not recorded a reception since week one.

The offensive line is a serious issue as well. Brady is taking more hits and pressure than ever this year. Tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer have been routinely beat by edge-rushers, while the interior has been woefully manned by a hodgepodge of inept and clueless youngsters like Jordan Devey and Bryan Stork. In retrospect, trading all-pro guard Logan Mankins looks like a terrible transaction on New England’s part.

Brady’s horrific performance in 2014 cannot be entirely blamed on his colleagues. Brady himself is inaccurate, he is tentative and jumpy in the pocket, and his throws have become decidedly less powerful. At times, it looks like Brady is shooting a three-pointer rather than chucking a deep ball. He does not look like himself.

Earlier in the season, Brady said “When I suck, I’ll retire” and that he didn’t plan on sucking (retiring) anytime soon.

Things do not always go according to plan. Brady, in his own word, sucks this season, and things are not going to get any easier this weekend against Cincinnati’s stout defense.

Thankfully, both Brady and the Pats bounced back during the last game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In a night that New England dominated on the field, achieving a 43-17 victory, Brady completed 22 out of his 35 passes for 292 yards and also two touchdowns.

With Brady’s abilities, he could turn the season and his performance around at any time, but if he wants to end his career gracefully, and not watching from the bench with a clipboard in hand, it needs to happen soon. He needs to continue putting up performances like his last one.

About The Author:

Ron is the lead editor of FantasyFootballOverdose.Com – prime source of NFL news and rumors. You can follow his NFL updates at this Facebook page.

 

English Premier League Trophy - As seen June 2011 in Dorchester, MA

EPL Championship Trophy - As seen June 2011 in Dorchester, MA

The last day of the English Premier League season is Sunday morning, and for Queens Park Rangers, Bolton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle, it will determine where they will play next year.

Unlike American sports, there are no playoffs or draft position to be concerned about.

Five out of the 10 fixtures will still have major implications.

Who will be crowned champion?
Who will play in what European competitions next season?
Who will be relegated to the NPower Championship League?

The biggest game is Manchester City/Queens Park Rangers, and it has massive implications.

  • Queens Park Rangers win, they will avoid relegation… PLUS
  • Manchester United wins against Sunderland, United crowned champions.
  • Queens Park Rangers draw or loose, Manchester City crowned champions.
  • Manchester United and Manchester City loose or draw, Manchester City crowned champions.

The other team competing to avoid relegation is Bolton.

  • Queens Park Rangers win, Bolton relegated.
  • Bolton wins and Queens Park Rangers loose, Queens Park Rangers gets relegated.

Regardless what happens to Blackburn, and Wolverhampton, they will be relegated to the Championship League.

The top 4 play in the Champions League next year, while one will compete in the Europa League.

Regardless what Manchester City and Manchester United do, they will be in the UEFA Champions League next year, but Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, will be competing for European bids.

  • Arsenal & Tottenham win; both go to the UEFA Champions League next year.
    Newcastle go to the Europa League
  • Arsenal & Tottenham loose, Newcastle wins, Newcastle & Arsenal go to the UEFA Champions League.
    Tottenham go to the Europa League
  • Arsenal & Newcastle win, Tottenham loose or draw; Arsenal & Newcastle go to the Champions League.
    Tottenham go to the Europa League
  • If all three loose or draw, Arsenal & Tottenham go to the Champions League.
    Newcastle go to the Europa League

No matter how you look at it, it has been a tremendous turnaround for Newcastle, who were in the Championship League only two years ago.

The good news is for the American European soccer fan.  FOX Sports will be showing every game on many of their networks, starting at 9:30am est.

Enjoy, because it will not be back till August!

Photo From: USA Today - Former Boston Red Sox manager & University of Arizona Wildcat, Terry Francona

Former Red Sox manager and new ESPN Sunday Night Baseball commentator, Terry Francona, took sometime to give back to his alma mater, University of Arizona.

Since Red Sox Nation still think highly of him and been giving endless praise for what he did during his 8 years as manager, this video is appropriate to share.

He starts joking about no beer and wings in the locker room, then gave some life and college lessons.  He also shared a few stories about a few times he played at the Cats' new home field, Hi Corbett Field.

 

University of Indiana Freshen, Cody Zeller

University of Indiana Freshen, Cody Zeller

The storied program at the University of Indiana has gone through a rough decade since Bobby Knight left, but it appears to be reemerging.

I am convinced with this team, but not all fans and pundits are. They are lead by Tom Crean, who spent the past 4 seasons, since taking the throne at Indiana, to rebuild it back to what it once was.

Indiana has a 15-1 record, with its only loss was at Michigan State. That’s part of the problem though. They have played only four games outside of Assembly Hall (Evansville, NC State, Michigan St Penn St).

Indiana is now in Big 10 play, the conference pundits say is the toughest conference this season, per conference RPI rankings. Indiana is currently ranked 5th in the RPI. KenProm.com has them ranked 8th.

I been sold on this team since they beat Kentucky mid-December, but there is still a reason to be optimistic. March is still a long ways away.

There is still room on the bandwagon, and expect more to hop on win after win. The next ranked team they face on the road is on January 15 when they visit #6 Ohio St and January 26 at #16 Wisconsin. Guaranteed more will join the bandwagon with wins.

* All rankings, and records as of January 8 night.

The architect of the 2011 Boston Red Sox was general manager, Theo Epstein.

He became manager in 2003, one year before they won the title in 2004.  He has been praised with fanfare from fans, and owners.  After the debacle the last month (and first month) of the season, missing the post-season for the 2nd year straight, fans are becoming more critical about his time with the Red Sox. Is his time up?  I think so.

It is the manager’s job to keep the players focused to succeed, which did not happen.  It is the general manager’s job to get players that are good, blend into the team, and sign them to an appropriate contract.  That was not accomplished as time has gone on, and showed since the 2007 World Series.

A general manager’s job is not viewed in a year.  It’s a multi-year mindset, and it is every evident the tam has declined every year since 2007.

The Red Sox have been notorious for signing free agents to outrageous contracts, since ownership has the money to do so.  The problem is most of them did not add up to a team that blended together, and probably caused the gradual entitlement mentality in the clubhouse.

2006

  • Alex Gonzalez – 3 years $14 mill
  • JD Drew – 5 years $70 mill
  • Julio Lugo - 4 years $36 mill
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka – 6 years $52 mill

2007

  • Matt Clement – 1 year $1.5 mill
  • Mike Lowell – 3 years $37.5 mill
  • Mike Timlin – 1 year $3 mill

2008

  • Brad Penny – 1 year $5 mill
  • John Smoltz – 1 year $5.5 mill
  • Jason Veritek – 1 year $5 mill

2009

  • Adrian Beltre – 1 year $10 mill
  • Mike Cameron – 2 years $15.5 mill
  • John Lackey – 5 years $82.5 mill
  • Marco Scutaro – 2 years $12.5 mill

2010

  • Adrian Beltre – 1 year $9 mill
  • Hideki Okajima – 1 year $1.75 mill
  • Carl Crawford – 7 years $142 mill
  • Bobby Jenks – 2 years $12 mill
  • Jason Vertiek – 1 year $2 mill

Theo has already stated the he wants to stay on as Red Sox general manager next year, the last year of his contract, to “clean up the mess.” Sorry Theo, you caused the mess, it will be someone else will clean it up.

Reports and rumors have been going around the Chicago Cubs have expressed interest on hiring him as the next general manager on Chicago’s north side.  If he is offered, and accepts the opportunity, I will not complain.

 

Beginning of the season, the 2011 Boston Red Sox was being crowned as possibly the best team ever assembled, with projections of 100+ victories.  Things did not pan out that way.

Fans were starting to blame the start if they missed the playoffs by 1 or 2 games (which did happen) after winning only 9 games in April.  They had a good summer, but the end turned into the biggest collapse in history.  They were up 9 games in the wildcard in the final month, only to loose it on the final day with only 7 wins in the month.  The collapse has accelerated the speculation to a fever pitch on the status of Boston Red Sox manager, Terry Francona.

Based on official reports Francona quit as manager of the Boston Red Sox, although the real story is up for debate.

After the poor performance that cost the team to miss the playoffs, it was right, not only for Francona, but also for the Red Sox club for him to leave.

For the record, I like Francona.  He will be viewed as the greatest Red Sox manager ever.  He had 8 great years there.  He won 2 World Series, including the first once since 1912.  I have nothing against him as a person or a manager.  There is just a time and place for everything.  It was time for him to leave.

Francona looked more worn then normal for this time of the year.  Managing in Boston for a year is like 2-3 years most other places.  I am giving him the benefit of the doubt he was burned out at the later part of the season.

What the Red Sox did this season is get some of the best players in the game, and paid them outrageous contracts.  They are one of a small number of teams who have such luxury. 17 players earned at least a million dollars last year.  Six players are earning at least 12 million, 3 of them are pitchers.  As a result, there was a feeling of entitlement in the clubhouse.  Players were complaining about the “grueling schedule., and about the buses.  There was also drinking by some of the pitchers on there off day (how about watching the game, examining the players so you will have an idea of what to do when you take the mound?) in the clubhouse.

Ultimately, it is the job of the manager to get continuity in the clubhouse, and get the players focused.  There was next to zero discipline, a lack of focus.  What happens on the diamond is a team effort, not individual.  They are there to win the game.  That did not happen.  Frnacona is at fault, and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein also takes part of the blame.  He signed the players and has to work with the manager day-to-day on making the team successful.

Regardless of salary, players should be selfish, but it is ultimately the manager’s responsibility to set the player straight, and have them focused at the task at hand. That is to win games. With that talent, there is no excuse for them to miss the playoffs.  Sorry Terry, time for someone new.