Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

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Bailey healthy; will do anything to win championship

FORT MYERS, Fla. Andrew Bailey knows the comparisons and the questions are inevitable. Replacing the most prolific closer in Red Sox history is not an easy task.

Bailey, the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, was acquired in a December trade from Oakland. He has 75 career saves in three seasons with the As, while Papelbon has 219. Bailey, the two-time All Star, just wants to be himself.

Yeah, thats it, Bailey said. Paps obviously himself. Ive met him a couple times, and hes a good dude. So, hes moved on. Were two totally different pitchers. My goal is to kind of have the media ask the guy who follows me those questions. How are you going to replace Bailey? Thats kind of my goal. So, if I stick with that, Im sure Ill be all right.

Papelbon said Saturday from Bright House Field, spring training home of the Phillies, whom he joined as a free agent in October, he believed Bailey would be successful with the Sox.

Hes one of the best in the game, so its an honor coming from him, something like that, Bailey said. Hes done it here for a while. He knows what it takes, and If he believes in it. I know I can do it, Im looking to have the Fenway Park crowd on my side running out of those gates instead of rooting against me. So, coming out of the bullpen is always an adrenaline rush and Im looking forward to doing it in that uniform.

Bailey, who turns 28 in May, enters spring training fully healthy for the first time in his big league career. He did not make his first appearance until May 29 last season, sidelined by a strained right forearm.

Health is good, he said. Finished strong last year. Obviously, had a little battle, had to miss two months in the beginning of last year. But thats behind me and this is honestly the first healthy offseason Ive had in the big leagues. So looking forward to that and was able to start throwing a little earlier and not having to rehab anything until the middle of December.

Bailey grew up in New Jersey, went to Wagner College on Staten Island, and now lives in Connecticut. He knows as well as anyone the expectations put on a Red Sox pitcher.

Im a closer at heart, but Ill do anything to help the team win, he said. I said that in Oakland, whatever it takes. You look at my games, one, two innings, one plus, whatever the team needs.

I have that mentality of being aggressive. I live and die by strike one. Its the best pitch in baseball. I just kind of go out there, throw the ball as hard as I can. Theres nothing fancy about what I do. So thats kind my mentality. I think that fits the closers role pretty good.

Many of his college buddies are now former Yankees fans, Bailey said, jumping on the Sox bandwagon with him. One of the most common questions hes heard since joining the team: What will his entrance music be?

No idea, he said. I dont know how that works here. Supposedly they chose it for Pap. So I dont know whats going to go on. But, for me, I like to feed off the crowd, the adrenaline. So, if I get to choose, itll probably be something rock. Maybe Ill throw a little Boston twist in there with Aerosmith or something. But, well see. Maybe Godsmack.

Bailey admits theres one comparison to Papelbon he doesnt mind. Asked if he would dance in his boxer shorts on the Fenway lawn if the Sox won another World Series, Bailey replied:

Ill do anything to win the World Series. So you guys can keep me to that, too. Whatever you guys need me to do to win a World Series, Ill do it.

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

Curran: In the end, everyone stood because of the game

FOXBORO – The boos and demands to “Stand up!” rained down just as the Star Spangled Banner began. The players on the Patriots sideline who knelt – the ones boos and invective was directed at – stayed down. Others stood, locking arms with teammates while others stood with their hands over their hearts.

By game’s end, everyone was on their feet. Players. Coaches. Fans. Together.

Unless they left early because of traffic and a late Patriots deficit. Or because they couldn’t bear the thought of watching an NFL game on a beautiful September Sunday because the entertainers didn’t do what they wanted them to do before the performance began.

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The whole thing’s complicated. I understand why people take offense at those who don’t stand for the anthem.

I understand why others want to deliver a symbolic message about their American experience.

I completely understand why, two days after President Trump thought it appropriate to use the phrase “son of a bitch” to refer to someone making a silent, reflective statement, many NFL players felt challenged, backed into a corner and somewhat dehumanized. The message delivered was, in essence, “Shut up and dance.”

Personally, I prefer to stick to sports. I don’t think I’m equipped to talk politics because I don’t know policy, legislation, constituencies and special interests – all the things that I define as politics – well enough to drone on at anybody.

As for sociology – which is what this is about rather than politics – I have my experiences and others have theirs. I’m trying to mow my own lawn over here. You do you. I’ll do me. As long as you don’t encroach on me doing me while you do you, I’m fine. When I’m not completely self-absorbed, a respectful exchange of ideas can make me see things in a different light.

It didn’t surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling. The pot was brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over.

But the irony of how the afternoon played out – that Brandin Cooks, a player booing fans were screaming at to stand three hours earlier brought them to their feet with his toe-tapping last-minute touchdown – was perfectly symbolic.

Ultimately, everyone was there for the football – the players, coaches, media and fans – and in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game.

“That’s what sports is,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “That’s what sports does. That’s what makes them great. They bring out what we have in common.

“I don’t think people look at us as human,” McCourty said. “I don’t think they ever have. We’re just the entertainment. They don’t understand that there’s a human behind it. People want to shake your hand or have their picture taken with you but they don’t want to know you. That’s reality.”

Maybe. Or maybe people feel their voices aren’t heard. They don’t have a column they can write or a TV or radio show to spout off on. They don’t have the chance to demonstrate their individual feelings at their cubicle before the workday starts.

All they know is they spent $500 or more to get to and into with a belly full of steak tips and beer and they don’t need to feel like being reminded about somebody else’s societal oppression on their day off, thank you very much.

It’s not so much about who does what during the Star Spangled Banner as much as it is that a lot of people don’t appreciate the intrusion. That, and they’re tired of hearing how bad everyone else has it when it’s really no damn picnic for most people these days.

Believe me, there’s not unanimity of opinion in the Patriots locker room any more than there is in your office, home, dorm or neighborhood. Players of different races, backgrounds, economic circumstances and ways of expressing themselves are thrown in a pot together and told to work for a common goal and rely on each other.

The mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty’s opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions and Bill Belichick’s comment that he would “deal with that later” all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole.

It’s complicated for them too.

But in the end, it was the football that bound them together. It was the game that left them jumping on each other and the fans standing and screaming and nobody thinking at all about who did what when the song played before the game.

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Redskins put it all together in prime time to rout Raiders

LANDOVER, Md. - Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score and the Washington Redskins sacked Derek Carr four times and held the Oakland Raiders to 128 yards in a dominating 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995.

Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.

Oakland's rushing offense, which came in ranked fifth in the NFL, managed just 32 yards.

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