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

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.