Yankee drama could be on its way to Boston

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Yankee drama could be on its way to Boston

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Here in Boston, we love whats shaking down in the Bronx the way Bartolo Colon loves a thick, bacon-flavored milk shake.

And Im not even talking about the on-field struggles. Forget the fact that the Yankees have lost six of their last seven, and 10 of their last 14 games. That only two of their nine position players are hitting better than .265, that Phil Hughes' arm doesnt work, that A-Rods oblique isnt much better and all the other on-field issues that have led to New Yorks recent slide.

Dont get me wrong. All that stuffs great.

But nothing about the Yankees dip is quite as satisfying as the behind-the-scenes drama. The bitching, the moaning, the subtle and not-so-subtle jabs; the fact that this teams making a legitimate run at surpassing the McCourts as baseballs most dysfunctional family.

That's truly been a joy to watch.

You have 37-year-old Derek Jeter, with a bad hip, a worse batting average, the inability to field his position (I smell another Gold Glove!) and a Bartolo-sized chip on his shoulder over the slap-in-the-face, three-year51 million contract he signed in the offseason. Or more, the details from those negotiations that the team revealed to the media.

You have Jorge Posada, nearly 40, with a head of hair thats so salt-and-peppered he actually Shoops around the base paths. He cant catch anymore, he can barely hit, but much like Jeter, Posada (at least publicly) isnt as concerned with his declining skills as he is with how the clubs treated him amidst the decline. If he comes to the park and doesnt like his spot in the order, Jorge just might decide not to play. And if thats the case, dont count on the captain to swoop in and restore order. Jeter understands what Posadas going through; hes been through it himself. Hes been wronged by the front office, and doesnt want to be their talking head anymore.

These are two pillars of the Yankee community. Two men who will someday be immortalized in the shadow of Lord Steinbrenner out in Monument Park. But right now they're two aging superstars, unhappy with how theyre being treated. Two men whove spent their entire careers being treated like Gods, now having a hell of a time adjusting to life on Earth.

Meanwhile, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman are taxed with the job of balancing these egos; doing whats right by the legends, but at the same time, doing whats best for their team. Not that Jeter and Posasda arent both very aware that theyre not the players they used to be. The players are always the first to know. Its just that Cashman and Girardi are the ones burdened with revealing this to the public. They have to say, Derek Jeter is only worth this or Jorge Posada can only bat there and this isnt an easy thing for players to deal with. Even if they know the end is near, the coach andor general manager are in charge of tearing off the Band-Aid. And that always hurts (especially if youre as hairy as Posada).

Now the Yankees are bleeding, and as a Red Sox fan, you love it.

However, as a Celtics fan, maybe it should give you some pause.

Listen, Im not saying these scenarios are identical.

Baseball isnt basketball. The Yankees arent the Celtics. Jeter and Posada arent Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (although there is a slight Big BabyBartolo resemblance). Apparently, Posadas problems with Girardi go back long before this season, and the Big Threes relationship with Doc and Danny has for the most part been copacetic. Jeters issues intensified over the negotiating table, and thats something that the Celtics likely wont have to deal (or not on that level). Im not saying that this is Final Destination 7 and that everything were witnessing with the Yankees is an identical preview of the Celtics inevitable future.

Im just saying that this is the risk you take with aging superstars.

Its the risk Cashman took when he refused Jeters contract demands, and then jabbed him in the media; that Girardi took when he dropped Posada to ninth in the lineup. Maybe Jeter didnt deserve that money. Maybe Posada was lucky to even be in the lineup. But that doesnt make it any easier, or the risk any lower.

You'd like to think that the Big Three's above that. That they're immune to some of the drama that's haunted the Yankees. But then again, you never would've imagined Jeter and the Yankees would be here either. You just never know. These are strong, prideful personalities, at a time when they're more sensitive and insecure than ever.

So, thats the risk Danny Ainge takes when he hops on the radio to suggest that his captain might be better coming off the bench (without speaking to him about it first) or that he wouldnt rule out trading any of the Big Three or that Their days of carrying a team night in and night out might be over . . .

The fact that its true (aside from the Pierce nonsense) doesnt take away from the potential danger, and one fact about superstar athletes that extends across all professional sports.

Their fall from grace is rarely graceful.

Its a phenomenon that Boston might have to deal with in the not-so-distant future.

But one that, for now, we can sit back and enjoy like a thick bacon-flavored milk shake.

Or whatever youre into.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

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CSN's Buckets List: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!

After a Saturday for the ages came and went this past weekend, it's clear offensive efficiency is ruling the college basketball world. Villanova, UCLA, Creighton, Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and a slew of other teams are shooting the lights out early in the season. In a rare switch, offensive efficiency is proving more valuable than defensive efficiency early on this year. We aren't used to seeing shooting quite like this, but it makes for great basketball watching. We also have some surprise teams making big moves in the rankings, and I'm sure the shake-ups will keep coming week-by-week with no slowing down.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Villanova (8-0) - The defending champs spent a nice week destroying fellow Big 5 teams. On top of that, the Wildcats watched Kentucky fall (more on that later), which moves them up to the top spot. I can make a great case for the two teams behind them to be ahead, but I'll reward a defending champion going undefeated every day of the week.

2. Baylor (8-0) - SURPRISE! The Bears just keep on winning against really good competition. Scott Drew's club has now beaten four top 25 teams in Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville and, most recently, Xavier. (I understand it's likely two of those teams won't be ranked this week, but they're still really good.)  This is the most impressive early season resume in a long time.

3. UCLA (9-0) - It's one thing to put up massive offensive numbers against lowly competition. It's a completely different thing when you go into Rupp Arena and put up 97 points against Kentucky. Lonzo Ball had a rough go in the first half but he was helped by fellow freshman T.J. Leaf, who is absolutely balling.

4. Kentucky (7-1) - I'm keeping the Wildcats right here because I still saw a lot I liked in the loss to UCLA. Mainly, I think De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk make up the best backcourt in the country. This team still has so much room to grow.

5. Kansas (7-1) - Shockingly, Kansas has decided to go with a small, four-guard lineup as of late.  The Jayhawks have benched Landen Lucas and it's working having Lagerald Vick join Graham, Mason and Jackson in the backcourt. I applaud Bill Self for the outside-the-box thinking.

6. Duke (8-1) - Great to finally see the Blue Devils get some of their freshman back, albeit against Maine. The Dukies will probably shoot further up the power rankings next week as they get their fresh legs under them. As of now, I'm still slightly underwhelmed by the overall product (which is being harsh), but I love what I'm seeing from Luke Kennard who -- shhhhhhh -- is a better overall player than Grayson Allen.

7. Gonzaga (8-0) - They haven't missed a beat, putting away frisky Arizona on Saturday.  The Dogs are now on cruise control and have a real shot at being the last undefeated team standing this season.

8. Creighton (8-0) - Speaking of undefeated, the Bluejays of Omaha are maybe the hottest offensive team in the country, led by three of the best guards in all of college basketball.  (They may even be better than Kentucky's backcourt.)  Creighton will be a force in the Big East this year.

9. Indiana (7-1) - The hardest thing about doing rankings is Jekyll-and-Hyde teams like the Hoosiers. What can you say about a team that beat Kansas, lost to Fort Wayne, and then rebounded with a win over North Carolina? You rank them 9. That's what you do.

10. North Carolina (7-1) - Speaking of North Carolina, last week I thought the Tar Heels were the hottest team in college hoops and now they're licking their wounds after being beaten pretty good by Indiana. They're still extremely well-rounded, and should still be in the Top 5 conversation later in the year.

11. Virginia (7-1) - For the first time in years, the Cavaliers lost a home non-conference game. The slugfest with West Virginia went as expected as the two unique defenses went at each other.  Hard to drop UVA too far, as they still boast the nation's second-best defense.

12. Butler (8-0) - Hard to believe we're into December and still have three undefeated Big East teams and none of them are Xavier. Butler has looked really balanced this year in wins over Arizona and Utah. I would still like to see more scoring from the guards.

13. Louisville (7-1) - The Cardinals successfully rebounded from a not-bad-at-all loss to Baylor and took down Purdue in a game they tried very hard to lose. Louisville's biggest issue is offensive consistency, which has grinded to a halt at times this season. Defensively, however, there are no issues.

14. Xavier (7-1) - Hey, look, it's another team that lost to Baylor.  The loss isn't necessarily bad, but the way X is playing hasn't been totally solid.  They're getting almost all of their offense from three players, and their depth hasn't been great. They will still be a really good team, but are starting to look less like a dark horse Final Four team.

15. West Virginia (6-1) - What a win for WVU in Charlottesville. Huggy Bear's press continues to give opponents problems and keeps the Mountaineers in games even when they aren't hitting their shots.  They were 25th in the AP poll last week, but are now No. 9 in kenpom.  Expect a move once the pollsters read this column.

LOCAL FLAVOR 

Providence - What a week for the Friars.  They took out previously ranked in-state rivals Rhode Island and are now 6-2 with a quality win.  Rodney Bullock is carrying the scoring load, and I have to say I'm very surprised by the development of Kyron Cartwright. His ball-handling and passing have been phenomenal. Ed Cooley is doing wonders with this group..

Rhode Island - Speaking of the Rams, they'll be just fine. A true road loss (albeit still in-state) is nothing to worry about. Now they'll hope Providence becomes a Top 50, or at the very least Top 100, RPI team, and the loss won't even look bad. What Rhody does need to worry about is finding a way to beat good teams. They now have three losses -- to Duke, Valpo (road), and Providence (road). They do have a quality win over a very good Cincinnati team, so they'll just need to take care of conference play and find a way to get a little more from their bench.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

  • Tuesday December 6: Florida vs Duke (at Madison Square Garden)
  • Saturday December 10: Villanova vs Notre Dame (Prudential Center); Michigan at UCLA

POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH

Jayson Tatum - Duke finally has a couple of its freshman back, and this is the guy to watch. I was pumped about him prior to the season because he's a 6-foot-7 wing player who does everything effortlessly. Tatum had 10 points and 8 rebounds in his opener despite being very rusty. It's only up from here.

De'Aaron Fox - Kentucky's point guard is the real deal and is so fun to watch.  He's a 6-6 bean stalk, so he doesn't necessarily look like a point guard . . . until you see him pass.  Fox can also get to the rim and play suffocating 'D'.  He's still working on his jump shot, but it's coming along.  NBA teams will drool over this guy.

Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.