Brady considers past, content to focus on present

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Brady considers past, content to focus on present

INDIANAPOLIS -- Super Bowl XLVI is Tom Brady's fifth trip to the Big Dance. In his first Indiana media session he was asked how Number Five compares to the others.
Dangerous idea. It is the Patriot Way to avoid comparisons of any kind, whether teammates or seasons. To elevate one is to -- at least in the public eye -- denigrate another.

Brady addressed the subject broadly with careful enthusiasm.

"They're all pretty special," he said. "I say it every week: It's pretty hard to win a football game in the NFL. Every week there's a certain level of quality of competition that you face. Thirty-two teams throughout the year, really, with hopes of being in this situation. I think we're very fortunate to be here. We've overcome quite a few things, quite a few adversities to get us here.

"We're really honored to represent the AFC. I think we've certainly earned it; the Giants have earned it. It makes for a great game. One week from now we'll be about to kick off at about this time. We'll spend the time getting ready, but I know all the players will be very anxious to get the game going."

Now take the same theme and hold it under a different light.

Of course he's happy to be in another Super Bowl. Of course he's grateful for your team's resilience and conscious of the hard work. But how do the feelings compare between the former rookie quarterback and the current record-breaking field general? Are the emotions tinged by time? Does he ever allow himself a lingering look backward?

While Brady didn't eulogize his career, he neither denied his NFL mortality.

"I think, for all the players, you don't know if this is your last time taking the field," he said. "This is a very physical sport; there's a lot of players who go out there one day and the next day they don't have the opportunity to play again. That's part of this sport."

It would be impossible to feel invincible in Indianapolis. Brady will be playing in the house respected rival Peyton Manning built; there's no escaping Manning's absence here. The neck injury and surgeries that kept him an impotent spectator this season hang over Lucas Oil Stadium. His younger brother Eli, whom the Patriots face next Sunday, will be asked about it. The fact Brady missed a season with that 2008 ACL tear make he and Manning a morbid pair of brothers in missed time.

Once the subject of time is raised, it's like people can suddenly hear the clock ticking.

"You wish everybody the best of health when they take the field, but a lot of things you can't control," said Brady. "It was really a bummer for me when I missed the season. I've spoken to Peyton several times and I know how disappointed he is to miss a season, but if anybody will be back, it will be him."

A diversion from himself, from the questions of his own future. But with a Super Bowl one week away Brady is perfectly content to focus on the present anyway.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.