From Comcast SportsNetPORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Paul Allen insists he's not going to sell the Portland Trail Blazers, but says this season is the most disappointing he's had in 24 years as the team's owner.The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft posted an open letter to fans on the Blazers' team website on Tuesday evening. In it, he reiterated what he's said all season long, that the team is not for sale."I'm working hard to get this team back on track," he wrote. "No offers have been made to buy the team and none have been solicited."The Blazers wrapped up the lockout-shortened season 28-38 and out of the playoffs. Portland is operating with an interim general manager and is looking for a head coach -- but the team has also collected up to four picks in the upcoming NBA draft and has freed up considerable cap space for free agency.Allen said he will be financially sensible with the moves the team makes."One thing we are not going to do is to spend money like there is no tomorrow, and calls to do so just don't make sense," Allen said. "I've tried that path before -- it doesn't work and is not sustainable. We will follow a judicious and sustainable path going forward."When the Blazers opened training camp in December, they were hit with bad news. All-Star guard Brandon Roy announced his retirement because of ongoing issues with his knees, former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden had suffered another setback with his knees, and forward LaMarcus Aldridge needed a procedure to treat a heart condition.Portland answered by signing free agent Jamal Crawford and making some other moves before Aldridge returned and the team got off to a fast start. But soon losses started to mount, and at the trade deadline the Blazers dismissed respected head coach Nate McMillan. The Blazers also traded starters Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace, and waived Oden after five disappointing seasons."These things happen in sports. Injuries are part of the game. Sometimes you have bad luck. But as the 2011-2012 season played out, I was asking myself the same question I know a lot of you were asking: What happened to a season that had such promise?" Allen wrote. "There are no easy answers for that."Allen confirmed he has interviewed one candidate for the general manager's position personally. President Larry Miller said recently that acting GM Chad Buchanan would be considered."We're moving forward thoughtfully because we must ensure we have the right fit," Allen said. "Ideally, we'd like to have someone in place before the draft and before we decide on a permanent coach, but finding the right executive may take time."
Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.
All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.
I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.
What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.
All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?
"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''
Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.
Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.
“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”
On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.
Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.
In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.
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After a 3-0 start, the Ravens dropped a 28-27 decision to the Raiders in Baltimore. That started a four-game skid for Baltimore which included back-to-back losses at the Jets and Giants. But they got back on track against the Steelers and have won four out of five with their only being to the Cowboys. It’s hard to get a clean read on who they really are.
They had narrow, early-season wins over crap teams like Cleveland and Jacksonville. They had a narrow loss to an outstanding Raiders team and were close with the Cowboys but got run over late with Dallas scoring on its last five possessions. They are coming off their most impressive team win, a 38-6 triumph over the Dolphins.
This game is a big one in the AFC race not just because it’s a divisional leader but also because it will be a common game between the Patriots and Raiders. The Raiders already beat Baltimore.
The Pats need to keep pace in a tiebreaker they currently trail. Weird schedule quirk? The Ravens have had only one road game that required a long commute since September. That was the game at Dallas. They just played six of their last nine and four of their last five at home.
Ravens 21, Steelers 14
Ravens 28, Browns 7
At Cowboys 27, Ravens 17
Ravens 19, Bengals 14
Ravens 38, Dolphins 6
OFFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON
More than half of Joe Flacco’s 323 completions have gone to three players: tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57) and wide receiver Steve Smith (54). Those players are 31, 30 and 37 respectively so it’s a veteran group.
Flacco is 114 of 159 (72 percent) with nine touchdowns and three picks in Baltimore’s last four games. He has 15 TDs and 11 picks this season.
The Ravens don’t run it much: 502 pass attempts, 287 rushing attempts. Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon are the lead backs. West has carried more than 15 times in a game on three occasions this season.
Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been playing very well as has the rest of the Ravens offensive line in recent weeks. Still, Baltimore is just at 34.1 on third down conversions.
DEFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON
The Ravens have allowed 207 points this season, tied with the Patriots for lowest in the AFC and just behind Seattle (194) overall.
Baltimore’s allowing just 33.3 percent conversions on third down and only 3.4 yards per carry.
Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their passes and have 21 touchdown passes and 14 picks against the Ravens defense. Ten of the Ravens 14 picks came against the Browns, Jaguars and in last week’s rout of Miami.
WHERE ARE THEIR HEADS AT
"I just think they've got a great team. They've got Tom Brady. They've been the best team in the conference, and it's going to be our toughest challenge of the year." – John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, on Monday night’s matchup