The Boscars: Wrapping up the weekend in Boston

The Boscars: Wrapping up the weekend in Boston
March 3, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Last night was the Oscars. Today, I bring you the Boscars — a review of this past weekend in Boston sports, inspired by this year’s nine Best Picture nominees.
Just to get the party started, here’s a live TwitPic of some of the Boscars most famous guests. Please RT.
Captain Rondo: My favorite part of this movie was when Rondo screams at Tom Hanks, “Look at me. Look at me! I’m the captain now.” And then throws himself a birthday party while the rest of the pirates take the lifeboat back to Somalia.
But even better than the actual movie was the epilogue, filmed on Saturday night at the Garden, where Rondo played his most impressive game of the season. I won’t say it was his “best” game because he was still a -5 (yeah, I know) and shot 4-for-12 from the field. But I’ll say most impressive because Rondo looked healthier, more comfortable and confident against the Pacers than he has at any time since before his injury.
He played a season-high 38 minutes on the night. When he started the fourth quarter (of a two-point game) on the bench. I wondered, “OK, when does Stevens put him back in? Maybe he has six good minutes left? Maybe seven?” Stevens subbed in Rondo at the 9:59 mark, and he was out there for the rest of the game. That’s a very good sign.
So is his jump shot. In only 15 games, Rondo’s made 16 three-pointers, which is one short of his career high. His current .364 three-point percentage dwarfs his previous career-high (.313). He hit three against the Pacers, and that’s only the third time he’s ever hit that many in one game. He’s also shooting a career-high 74 percent from the foul line. (I should also mention that he’s averaging a career-worst 1.8 foul shot attempts per game, but hopefully that will improve once Rondo gets into a better groove.)
Just in general, say what you will about his maturity as a human being, but Captain Rondo continues to grow as an NBA player. He worked hard on that jump shot during his rehab, and there’s no doubt that it’s paying off.
Duckboat Buyers Club: Last summer’s acquisition of Jake Peavy may not have had the on-field impact that the Sox had hoped for (related: who cares?), but everyone still loves Peavy. It’s impossible not to. He’s the anti-Josh Beckett, a guy who came in last year and inspired the staff with his relentless competitiveness and professionalism.
Peavy’s personality was contagious. He’s just a hard-working, fun-loving country boy trying to enjoy life and soak up his last few years as a professional baseball player. You know, the kind of guy who would buy a duckboat after the championship parade, and use it to give tours around his ranch in Alabama.
But of course, with a guy like that, there’s always the distinct possibility that he’ll slice himself with a fishing knife during Spring Training. It just comes with the territory. And unfortunately, that’s what happened this weekend. It left Peavy with sizable gash on his left index finger and forced the Sox to scratch him from his first preseason start (which was supposed to be today).
Thankfully, Peavy escaped serious injury, but he needs to be careful. There’s some freaky Final Destination stuff going with the Sox starters right now. First, Ryan Dempster just disappears out of nowhere. Shortly after that, Peavy gets drilled in the hand with a stray baseball while minding his business on the sidelines. He survived that, and now the knife almost got him.
I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m guessing that Alfredo Aceves is somehow involved.
American Muscle: Adam Silver was in Boston this weekend, where he participated in one of the many great panels at the Sloan Analytics Conference. During his session, Silver was asked about and touched on a bunch of topics, but the one I found most interesting was his take on PEDs.
I have no reason to believe the use of PEDs are widespread in the NBA,” he said. “Both because we test and because, No. 2, it's not part of the culture of the NBA.
“Whether it's supported, I'm not sure, but there's a perception that it's helpful in other sports. I don't have that sense [in basketball]. Again, I've been in the NBA for 22 years. I talk to players all the time. I talk to retired players all the time. I don't hear about it.”
This is ridiculous on so many levels. Silver’s ideally trying to become the next David Stern, but he sounds like the next Bud Selig. Did he really say that PEDs aren’t helpful in basketball? That his players wouldn’t benefit from taking something that makes them stronger and helps them more quickly recover from injuries?
Silver correctly points out that the NBA tests for PEDs, but the truth is that they don’t do it well. ESPN’s Henry Abbott wrote about the massive holes in the league’s drug policy back in 2012, and this past week at Sloan, Abbot caught up with Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
"Unfortunately, I think the athletes are being let down by the system," Tygart said about the league. "Really, I've said it before. If there's no chance of getting caught, and you're overly competitive, you're going to do anything possible to win. That includes using these dangerous drugs because they will give you a performance-enhancing benefit.
When asked about the league’s insistence that PEDs aren’t a problem, Tygart had this message to Silver:
“Don't be naive to the pressures. Take your head out of the sand.”
Philomanziela: Johnny Manziel was in Fort Myers with the Sox on Saturday, and wore a jersey with Jacoby Ellsbury’s old No. 2. It was a bold move by J. Football to risk fate with Ellsbury’s number. He’s lucky he didn’t pull a hamstring. But he escaped without injury, and will move on to live a full life of hearing crotchety analysts criticize his personality.
Manziel was there because of his association with LRMR marketing. That’s the company that also represents LeBron James, has a partnership with Fenway Sports Management and was the source of a lot of criticism (“They’re in bed with LeBron!”) over the last few years.
But this partnership is starting to grow on me. First of all, LRMR’s brand is stronger than ever, because LeBron’s brand is stronger than ever. Now, if they can do good things with Manziel, it won’t be long before other big time athletes join in. Who knows? Maybe a few baseball players. And when it comes to free agency, that kind of relationship can only help.
Nebraska House of Corrections: Alfonso Dennard finally reported to jail this weekend to begin serving his 60-day sentence for breaking probation for breaking a police officer’s face. Thanks to time served and good behavior (aside from that whole DUI thing), Dennard should be out in 35 days.
That makes for an April 4 release, and if he hurries, should give Dennard just enough time to get back to Boston in time for the Sox home opener.
12 Months No Shave: Most of the heavy beards from last year’s World Series have been buzzed off, but Mike Napoli’s still representing pretty well. In related news, Napoli jacked his first home run of the spring yesterday afternoon.
It's way different than last year," Napoli said. “I don't have any restrictions on me. I think I started running when we started playing games (in spring training) last year. This year, I ran the whole off-season and got my lower body in shape. It's a lot different. I'm free to do what I was doing earlier in my career. My lower half definitely feels better coming into this spring."
John Farrell added: “The biggest thing is, (Napoli’s) come into camp without having to go through all he went through last offseason, and it’s freed up his mind. There’s no question on how his hip is feeling, with the games played (last season), the transition to first base. All those things are behind him. He comes in in really good shape, he comes in, probably the bigger case, with a free mind of everything he was contending with last season.”
This is the time of year where you have to be very cautious about how much you buy into what you see from and hear about a player. Right now, everyone has a new lease on life. Everyone is in the best shape of his career. The first few weeks of spring training are like a baseball fairy tale.
But in Napoli’s case, I kind of buy it. It makes a lot of sense. Of course, feeling healthy and staying healthy are two very different things, but I’ve got a hunch that the bearded one will get it done.
Him: Giving up three goals in an NHL game isn’t typically something to be proud of, but Tuukka Rask deserves some love (virtual and otherwise) for his performance last night against the Rangers. Tuukka stopped 19 shots in the first period, as New York totally dominated the B's. But they went into the first intermission with only a 1-0 lead. Rask kept the Bruins in it, and open the door for the late game explosion and 6-3 victory.
The closer the Bruins get to the playoffs, the weight on Rask’s shoulders continues to build. Of course, he’s got a great team around him. At the very least, the Bruins have as good a chance as anyone to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in four years. But at the end of the day, you get the sense that they’ll only go as far as Rask can carry them.
Gravity: Tiger Woods was once floating high above the universe, but these days he can’t get off the ground. Yesterday, Woods withdrew from the final round of the Honda Classic because of back spasms, and this isn’t a new injury. His back has bothering him since last season, and a back injury doesn’t typically just disappear. It’s persistent. It’s nagging. It’s bad news for a 38-year-old golfer who’s fast approaching the five year anniversary of his last Major.
The Wolf of Causeway Street: “My name is Jeremy Jacobs. And let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man, and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every f---ing time.”
OK, so maybe Jacobs has never been a poor man. But much like Jordan Belfort, Jacobs’ greed always gets the best of him; he can never leave well enough alone. And last week’s massive season ticket price increase is just the latest example.
What a joke. Pass the Quaaludes.
And I hope you’ve enjoyed the Boscars.
Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine