Light, Faulk as honorary captains: Nobody more fired up

984117.jpg

Light, Faulk as honorary captains: Nobody more fired up

FOXBORO -- The Patriots announced Thursday that former running back Kevin Faulk and left tackle Matt Light would serve as honorary captains for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens. Media availability for both was held the following day. 
The pair stepped before the podium after a brief introduction by Robert Kraft. 
Big as he is, Light could hardly contain his good humor. 
"As a fan I've never seen anything but a win at Gillette Stadium. Besides what some of you know is a guy who isn't the biggest sports fan off the field, there's nobody that's going to be in this stadium that's going to be more fired up for this one than this guy right here," he boomed. "And, secondly, the guy that's getting the honor alongside me right here, Kevin Faulk if there's one guy I'd want to walk out on the field one more time with, it'd be the guy who did it on third down, and every time he touched the field I felt better at my position.
"It's just an awesome thing to be back here, to be alongside Kevin Faulk, to have the Kraft family honor us in this way, to share in this special moment at this time of the year when everybody is amped up, is just truly a blessing."
Faulk was asked if the Patriots postseason run, happening just three months after he officially retired, is a mixed blessing. Of course he's thrilled for the team's success, but is it bittersweet to watch from the outside? 
"I don't know if it's a blessing or what," Faulk laughed ruefully. "It's a good thing in a way, but as a competitor, you want to be out there because you just left the locker room, you've just been with all these guys. Like last week, to see the excitement on Shane Vereen's face after the game that he had that's what I miss. And I know that's what Matt misses, too. I miss going in the locker room after a game like that when a guy I spent the whole year in the meeting room with has a game that really boosts his confidence for, probably, the rest of his career."
Light agreed, noting how much he respected the commitment and drive of his former teammates.
"Everybody talks about the system and everything else, but you have to have individuals that are really better than anybody else to make that work. You have to have the top. And I'm not saying they're better than everyone in the league, but you have to have people that really understand what it means to be selfless, and spend a lot of time working and never be satisfied. And that's one of the things I miss the most from my playing days because that's hard to find in the real world."
But though both admitted feeling nostalgic, Light made it clear he's not itching to suit up on Sunday. He's perfectly content to support New England from his seat in the stands. 
"I'd probably make it through the warmup. About that time I'd probably fall out," Light joked before sharing his answer. "I'd just be crazy to think that any former Patriot, any guy that's spent any time in this organization knows what it's like to be here, to not just be overly excited for this opportunity, and what these guys are going through, and all the work that that they've put into it."

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Former Celtics and current Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is up to his old tricks, apparently.

The Bulls have suspended Rondo for Monday’s game due to conduct detrimental to the team, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical saying that the suspension is the result of a “heated exchange” the 30-year-old had with a Bulls assistant during or after the team’s 107-82 loss to the Mavericks Saturday. 

Rondo clashing with others is nothing new. He once shattered a television on which the Celtics were showing him game footage to critique him and had to be carried out kicking and screaming by Kevin Garnett. Chris Sheridan reported in 2013 that Doc Rivers had an “intense dislike” for Rondo and that the two almost fought.

After being traded out of Boston, Rondo was suspended for a game by the Mavericks after a shouting match with Rick Carlisle. Last December, he was suspended for calling referee Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur, leading to Kennedy coming out as gay. 

Interestingly enough, there's something of a pattern of Rondo's bigger infractions occuring in games against former teams. The Kennedy incident came in a game against the Celtics, while this recent one was against Dallas. 

This is the first season of a two-year, $28 million Rondo signed with the Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging 8.2 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds a night.