The blame game

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The blame game

By Michael Felger

A few pearls of wisdom to brighten up your Tuesday morning:

The real shame of this Red Sox season hasn't been the injuries. It's been the play of Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon (left) and John Lackey. Had those three not crapped out, the Sox would probably be neck-and-neck with the Yankees and Rays injuries and all.

The Red Sox are just 8-5 in games started by Beckett (3-2, 6.51 ERA) this season. They are only 12-12 in games started by Lackey (10-7, 4.54). Papelbon has six blown saves and has five losses (theres some overlap there, obviously). Those three are combining for 40 million in salary in 2010.

Not exactly what you would call great value.

But whatever the price, the fact remains: Those are the guys who are going to keep the Sox out of the postseason.

The more you hear and read about how officials went out of their way to inform golfers of the local rules at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last weekend, the worse it looks for Dustin Johnson.

Heres the most damning item, in my opinion:

In an interview with ESPN.com on Monday, David Price, the rules official walking with the final pairing of Johnson and Nick Watney, said Johnson and his caddie asked him for trap-related rulings on the 14th and 16th holes, just minutes before they neglected to do the same on the crucial 18th. The first question was related to practice swings and the second had to do with removing stones from near his ball. On both occasions, Price offered rulings before Johnson or his caddy did something that violated the rules. Price said he would have done the same on 18 had someone spoken up.

"All he had to do was ask," Price said. "He'd asked me before that. He'd been in a bunch of bunkers. You don't remind a player on every hole that you can't ground your club."

Why didn't Johnson ask? Simple. He lost his head. He choked. Same with his caddy.

If you're looking for a real villain from the Jets' Hard Knocks show on HBO, dont focus on Rex Ryan (right). He's been fun.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum has been a different story.

At one point, the cameras show receiver Santonio Holmes making a terrific catch along the end line. Tannenbaum responds by beating his chest.

"Number 10? Number 10? Man, who trades for him?" asks Tannenbaum, who acquired Holmes from Pittsburgh in the offseason. "Smart . . . that guy is.''

Tannenbaum did the same thing with corner Antonio Cromartie.

"How he could have been available . . . a guy with those attributes?" he says. "They are so hard to find.''

You just know those clips have been saved down in Foxboro. Tannenbaum had better hope those players work out.

Finally, here's hoping the Pats do all they can to get Julien Edelman and Wes Welker (left) on the field at the same time this season. Forget size, speed or any other measurable. These guys get open and catch the ball, which in the glory years (i.e, the Deion Branch era) was the only thing required of Pats receivers.

I would certainly prefer to see the Pats go small and work the possession game with the little guys from the slot as opposed to continually butt their heads against the wall with tight ends. That hasnt worked in New England since the Ben Coates era.

Since Belichick got here in 2000, hes drafted 11 players at the tight-end position and signed countless more in free agency. He's taken them high and low. He's gotten them after trading up and trading down. And he has yet to find the guy who can consistently exploit matchups against linebackers and safeties. I don't know if hes even come close. The most prolific season any Pats tight end has had under Belichick came in 2006, when Ben Watson had 49 catches. Thats been the only 40-plus catch season by a Pats tight end since Coates left.

In the preseason opener last Thursday, the Pats targeted tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Alge Crumpler seven times. They completed only three of those attempts.

Sounds and awful lot like the Dan GrahamBen Watson era to me.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts. 

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.