The Ides of March Madness

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The Ides of March Madness

Goal: Paoletti (1, 1)
Assisted by: Hart (1, 1), Shakespeare (0. 1)
CSNNE.com

ACT I, SCENE II. A public place. Like a Denny's.

Flourish. Enter CAESAR; BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer: ZOLTAN MESKANOV.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Caesar!
CAESAR
Whaaaaat? I'm in the middle of a Grand Slam over here.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
Huh?

BRUTUS
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

CAESAR
That wasn't a "Huh" like, "What did he say?" It was a "Huh" like, "What the hell is he talking about?" Is "ides" a type of cholesterol? . . . Get that crazy punter out here.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
It means March 15th. Beware March 15th -- today. And, I'm not the Patriots punter, our names are just really similar.
CAESAR
Whatever you say, weirdo. I'm outta here; I gotta lock everybody's brackets in the safe.
Exeunt all except BRUTUS and CASSIUS

CASSIUS
Hey. So, what's up with you this week?

BRUTUS
Just having a hard time with the March Madness this year. Florida a No. 2 seed? Are you kidding me? Pat Forde putting Kansas State in the Final Four threw me off, too. I'm conflicted.

And it doesn't help that Caesar thinks he's Jay Bilas and gets all cocky about his picks. His rules are ridiculous; does he really have to lock our brackets in a safe? I'm not going to back out of the pool. He's just a jerk.

CASSIUS
You're totally going to beat Caesar.

BRUTUS
I can't beat that guy. Caesar rules, man.

CASSIUS
Naw. You're gonna kill him. Seriously.

ACT 3, SCENE I. CASCA's crib.

A crowd of people; among them, the Soothsayer, ZOLTAN MESKANOV. Flourish. Enter CAESAR, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and a bunch of other guys. There's beer everywhere. Ev-ery-where.

CAESAR
To Meskonov It's March 15th and I'm fine, sucka!

ZOLTAN MESKANOV
Whatever, dude. Still some daylight left.

CASSIUS
Hey, Caesar, I'm on my knees here. Can you please let my bro, Publius Cimber, back in our group? That was a dick move to kick him out of the pool.

CAESAR
No way. Listen. The rules of our March Madness pool have been the same for 10 freaking years. I have never -- not once -- bent those rules for anybody. I'm like the North Star of bracket challenge commissioners. I'm consistent like Gary Bettman. I'm fair like Tim Higgins.

As the great MC Hammer once said: "You can't touch this." Cimber shouldn't have tried to white-out that Princeton upset over Kentucky. That's cheating. Your brother stays OUT.

CINNA
Caesar, you dick. Come on.

CAESAR
I SAID NO.

DECIUS BRUTUS
For real, dude?

CAESAR
DID I STUTTER?

CASCA
Enough of this.

CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS kick CAESAR in the testicles.

CAESAR
Et tu, Brute! Aw, God, what the HELL!

Vomits

CINNA
ONIONS! Ahahaha! That was NOICE! The March Madness tyranny is OV-AH. Tell eeee'rybody!

BRUTUS
He had it coming. Looks down at Caesar, who is clutching his groin The bracket challenge is supposed to be about fun. And money. Not you being a bigger jerk each year.

ZOLTAN MESKANOV To Caesar
What'd I say?! What. Did. I. Say?! But did you take me seriously? Nooooooo.

McAdam: It's make-or-break time before the break for Red Sox

McAdam: It's make-or-break time before the break for Red Sox

Not long ago, the final homestand of the first half of the 2016 season looked like an opportunity for the Red Sox.
      
Now, however, it looks more like a survival test.
      
Are they contenders or pretenders? 
     
Is this a month-long downturn or a preview of coming attractions? 

      
The Red Sox still possess a winning record and are tied for one of the wild-card spots in the American League. The season isn't shot. Yet.
      
But it could be soon if the Red Sox don't execute a turnaround and thrust themselves back into the divisional race. At the precise moment the Red Sox are in freefall, the Baltimore Orioles are streaking, and doing what the Red Sox have failed to do: take advantage of some breaks in the schedule.
      
While the Red Sox dropped two of three to a Tampa Bay team which had lost 11 in a row -- four at the hands of the Orioles themselves, it should be noted -- the Orioles have steamrolled over lowly opponents to go 7-1 against a steady diet of nothing by the Rays and Padres.
      
That delivers some additional urgency to this upcoming homestand, which features three games each against the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers and the Rays again.
      
While Dave Dombrowski continues to hunt for pitching help, how the Red Sox play over the next nine games could either intensify his search or reduce it to unnecessary.
      
Should the Red Sox lose further ground while at home, it might result in Dombrowski refusing to mortgage any of his organization's future for a team that hasn't proven worthy of an upgrade.
      
Why sacrifice prospects in exchange for a starting pitcher or bullpen piece when the playoffs drift out of reach? And, yes, the Red Sox are going to need reinforcements to the rotation and the bullpen for next year either way, but if the Sox don't show signs of life soon, that effort can be put off until after the season.
      
Due to simple laws of supply and demand, the already exorbitant cost of pitching skyrockets before the trade deadline, since there are a handful of needy teams convinced that one additional arm could spell the difference between a trip to the World Series and missing the postseason altogether.
      
If a team isn't in need of immediate help, it's best to wait for November and December, when there's less of a sense of desperation to the whole exercise.
      
Beyond the matter of determining whether the Red Sox go all-in on 2016, there's the matter of job security for manager John Farrell.
      
Should the Sox continue to stumble, the All-Star break might give Dombrowski time and cause to evaluate whether it's time to make a change in the dugout.
      
If Dombrowski determines that the season can still be salvaged with a change of voice in the dugout, Farrell would be vulnerable. And if he decides that, regardless of playoff aspirations, he's seen enough in a half-season of observation that  Farrell isn't his choice to lead the club going forward, the four-day break would be time to reflect, then act on that evaluation.
      
Farrell challenged his team in a postgame meeting Monday, exhorting them to play to their potential, to trust in their teammates and play hard.
      
If that push doesn't yield tangible results in the next 10 days, a dark uncertainty -- for himself and the team he manages -- lies ahead.
      
The All-Star break offers upper management and ownership a time to take stock in what they have. If they don't like what they see in the next week and a half, the consequences could be felt soon.
      
       

 

Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

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Brady, Gronkowski make Top 10 of NFL Network's Top 100

Ask a football fan in New England, and he or she might tell you that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the top two players in the NFL. A random NFL player might not be as generous, but on balance, Brady and Gronkowski's peers consider the Patriots stars to be among the top 10 talents in the league. 

The NFL Network announced the final 10 players to be included in their annual Top 100 list, a list voted on by players, and both Brady and Gronkowski made the cut.

The order of the top 10 has been determined, but has not yet been announced. Brady and Gronkowski are in the running for No. 1 alongside Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt. 

The weekly series, which has counted down Nos. 100-11, will end on Wednesday, July 6 with two, one-hour episodes on NFL Network at 8 and 9 p.m. Highlights of each player will be featured, as will interviews with some of their teammates and competitors. 

"He plays with a chip on his shoulder he’s always had," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said of Brady, "that really separates him."

Of Rob Gronkowski, Texans corner Charles James II said, "He's a glitch on Madden."

The only other Patriots players included in the Top 100 were Julian Edelman (who came in at No. 87) and Chandler Jones (No. 48). Jones, now a member of the Cardinals, was the only Patriots defender involved. 

Corner Malcolm Butler, linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty all had an argument to be included but were left off. 

NFL.com contributors Gregg Rosenthal, Chris Wesseling, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ike Taylor put together their own individual Top 100 lists to supplement the one voted on by current players. Rosenthal included Collins (No. 64), McCourty (No. 73) and Butler (No. 99) in addition to Edelman (No. 84). Wesseling included Collins (No. 43), McCourty (No. 88) and Hightower (No. 91), but not Edelman. Jones-Drew included both Edelman (No. 62) and Butler (No. 95). Taylor included only Edelman (No. 89).

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

Bruins buying out veteran D-man Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins placed veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on waivers on Thursday for the purposes of buying the veteran defenseman out of the final two years of his contract.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Seidenberg, who turns 35 July 18, still had two years remaining on a deal that would have paid him $4 million in each of the seasons. The move will save the Black and Gold roughly $4.6 million in cap space over the next two years.

Seidenberg confirmed the contract buyout to CSNNE.com and confirmed one other thing: "I going to miss it."

The extra space should theoretically allow the Bruins to spend big money on Friday when free agency opens, but the Bruins really haven’t been the lead suitors for any of the major available players to this point.

With the way buyouts work, however, the spread over four years means that the Bruins will still be including $1.16 million cap hits from 2018-2020, and are now down another experienced D-man who was a stalwart warrior for them over the years. Seidenberg clearly lost a step after blowing out his knee in the 2013-14 season and was a minus player for the first time in Boston last season with one goal and 12 points in 61 games.

The skating speed was noticeably slower and Seidenberg had trouble keeping up with the pace even as he continued to block shots and throw opponents around in the defensive zone. Seidenberg finishes his seven seasons in Boston with 23 goals and 117 points in 401 games as a rugged top-four defenseman. He will always be cherished in Boston for his marvelous stretch en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Claude Julien pairing Seidenberg with Zdeno Chara midway through their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens changed the tide of that playoff matchup and was the combo used by the B’s for the playoffs when they again made it to the Cup Final in 2013 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The German-born defenseman was a respected and tough veteran leader in the B’s dressing room and will be missed for his toughness and accountability whether it was good times or bad in the room.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Seidenberg was being placed on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his contract.