Hats and t-shirts? 'Absolutely,' says Wilfork


Hats and t-shirts? 'Absolutely,' says Wilfork

FOXBORO -- Sunday is what some like to call a "hat and t-shirt game" for the Patriots.
With a win in Miami over the Dolphins, New England can clinch the AFC East title. And as a result, they'll each receive a hat and a t-shirt that reads, "Division Champs."
At least one Patriot acknowledged that to be true, after Thursday's practice at Gillette Stadium.
"Hats and t-shirts, absolutely," said Vince Wilfork. "You kiddin' me?"
Wilfork says he gives those hats and t-shirts to his wife. But he also knows they won't be getting them without a win. Which is when the veteran defensive lineman got back into his Patriots mindset, saying that he won't be thinking about the implications of winning the division, entering Sunday's game.
"Not at all, not at all," said Wilfork. "We do a real good job about just taking it one game at a time out here. That's how we approach it. Every week we wanna win. I want to be undefeated every year, but it doesn't happen. But we never look at it like that. Take it one game at a time, but hopefully that one game at a time is good enough at the end."
A good 10 lockers down, to Wilfork's right, stood wide receiver Wes Welker. He said he's aware of a potential division title if they defeat the Dolphins, his former team.
"Absolutely," said Welker. "It shows you how big of a game it is. It's still early in the year, but this is a big game for us, and one that we really have to play well in and executing the way we need to, and playing the way we need to."
Meanwhile, all the way down the end of the locker room, to his right, stood linebacker Jerod Mayo. When he was asked about thinking of winning the division on Sunday, Mayo compared it to "any other game."
"We're approaching this game like any other game," said Mayo. "We're trying to win, obviously. And the guys are out there practicing hard, and all of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins.
"To be honest with you, we're just trying to take it one game at a time. Right now, all of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins. And they have a good team. This isn't a 'gimme' win by any means. All of our focus is on the Miami Dolphins."

First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0


First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

What was Jackie Bradley thinking in the fifth inning? He wasn't, apparently.

Trailing 4-0, the Red Sox had runners on first and second with two out and Christian Vazquez at the plate.

Inexplicably, Bradley broke from second base in an attempt to steal third. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore simply pivoted and threw the ball to third, where Bradley was tagged out for the final out of the inning.

Not only did it end the threat, it guaranteed the weak-hitting Vazquez would lead off the next inning.

It was the first time in his career that Bradley was thrown out trying to steal and one that he -- or the Red Sox -- won't soon forget.

David Price didn't like the strike zone.

On at least two occasions, Price made a detour from the mound to the dugout after innings to confer with home-plate umpire John Hirchbeck, presumably about the latter's strike zone.

It may be true that Price got squeezed on some pitches, but when you give up four runs to a light-hitting lineup that had lost 12 of its last 13, it's not a good look to be placing any of the blame on the umpiring.

The Red Sox aren't the worst team in baseball with the bases loaded; it just seems that way.

The Sox threatened in the sixth when Vazquez and Mookie Betts singled and, after a flyout by Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts singled, too.

But David Ortiz couldn't handle some fastballs in the strike zone, popping up in the infield, and Hanley Ramirez hit a ball off the end of the bat for an inning-ending flyout to right.

For the season, the Red Sox are 18-for-70 for a .257 batting average with the bases loaded, ranking them 17th -- or just below the middle of the pack -- in baseball.

Still, it seems that the Sox have been particularly inept in those situations of late, most memorably when they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth against Chicago two weeks ago and improably came away with nothing.


Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger


Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.

Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed...Time for a rematch!'


Brady to Amendola on Facebook: 'Paddle's fixed...Time for a rematch!'

When Danny Amendola told the world on Tuesday that he's better than Tom Brady at ping pong, the quarterback must have been listening. 

On his Facebook page, Brady published a snarling image of his face Photoshopped onto the body of a table tennis player. That paddle he broke after losing to Amendola three years ago? It's fixed, Brady explained in the caption. And he's ready for a rematch.

Talk about intimidation.