Boston Red Sox

The saga begins . . . again

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The saga begins . . . again

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Jets Week, Vol. 3 officially starts Monday, but it wont take long for the hype to reach maximum velocity.

Actually, in the time it took for you to read that first sentence, it happened.

HYPE.

Lets get it going with a four mini-columns (some mini-er than others) on four story lines born from the Wild Card Weekend. Think of it as a quick refresher until the Jets re-open their mouths and crank up the machine. And away we go . . .

Its Not Put Up or Shut Up

Back in 2004, Curt Schilling sought out to shut up 55,000 New Yorkers.

On Sunday, the Pats will settle for silencing one New York coach.

But when it comes to quieting down Rex Ryan, you have wonder:

Is it even possible?

Since the playoff started, some in the New York media have called this postseason Put Up or Shut up time for Ryan. Basically, theyve questioned, and perhaps justifiably so, how anyone can take his act seriously if hes sent home early for a second straight year. No ones suggesting that hes coaching for his job, but instead, that if the Jets lose, Ryan will have no choice but to scale back the big talk.

To that, I say, Disagree!

Far be it from me to pretend like I can predict Rex Ryans behavior. I mean, when you're talking about the James Cameron of the foot fetish industry, you're talking about a serious wild card. Who knows what he might do? But with that being said, I dont think anything that happens this season will change who Ryan is. Even if the Jets go out and get killed on Sunday, youll have a better chance of convincing Bill Belichick to take the podium in a bikini top than you will of seeing Rex pipe down. Its just his way. Its all he knows, and its damn sure what he believes in.

And not only will he continue to talk, but hell continue to bring in players who fit that same mold, too. Basically, he has his vision for the Jets, and its instilled too deeply to just pump the breaks and hope for the best.

Its too late for put up or shut up. Now its sink or swim.

Dont mind LT. Hes just being LT.

The funny thing is, I remember late in the fourth quarter as the Patriots were talking and yapping about the game that night, and I said to a couple of guys, 'Guys, we'll be back. You guys got us tonight, but we'll be back.' And so for us, we're waiting on this opportunity.
Ladainian Tomlinson, after the Jets 17-16 win over Indianapolis.

OK, let me start with a disclaimer: In his prime, Ladainian Tomlinson was probably the deadliest running back Ive ever seen. I recognize that he was an all-time talent and is a Hall of Famer. Yada yada yada. End disclaimer.

But with all due respect to his greatness, is there anything funnier than LTs ever-expanding role as the Paper Champion of the Patriots Dynasty?

First, hes never beaten New England when it mattered most. A few times, he hasnt even showed up. In fact, besides Joey Porter, no other player in the league has been embarrassed by the Pats with more consistency.

On top of it all, LTs obsessed with this embarrassment. When hes trying to give his bulletin board material, its never: This is our game! Were the better team! Instead, its usually They were mean! They have no class! They ran up the score! They stole my friends dance!

Theres always something the Patriots have done to earn his disapproval, but theres nothing he can do about it except make passive aggressive threats about getting even for something that only he cares about.

Braylon has something to say (again)

All you hatin a people.... J-E-T-S. And let new England know we are coming.

Braylon Edwards via Twitter

So, Braylon Edwards is already talking his game. Fair enough. I guess thats about what youd expect. But heres my question: Do you think he remembers how close he came to fumbling away the entire season? Not that he should harp on it; after all, he did have the huge play down the stretch. But do you think there was any point where he thought, Damn you know what? I was one funny bounce away from letting everyone down . . . maybe I should just hold off on this ridiculous tweet and enjoy the moment.

Who knows? Maybe he did. Maybe his attitude isnt as entirely awful as it comes across. But either way, on the field, Edwards does create some scary match-ups for the Pats, and because hes such a royal pain in the ass, theres no one on that team who Patriots fans will be less excited to see in the end zone. He is salt to the wound.

Hell have to catch the ball first, though.

Spread Em.
The Patriots were favored by eight or more points three times in the regular season both games against Buffalo (-14.5 and -9 points, respectively) and in the Sunday night game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers (-14). In those games, they were only 1-2 vs. the spread.

Why do you care? Because the Pats are favored by 8.5 points on Sunday.

At first that seemed a little high. I was thinking maybe somewhere around 6.5 considering the familiarity, the fact that Revis is healthy, Shonn Greenes running better, the Jets have a ton momentum and so on but after one week hiatus I guess its easy to lose sight of just how dominant the Patriots have been this season.

I'm sure we'll be reminded all week. You know Rex will probably bring it up a few times. You know that every analyst on every station is going to pick the Pats to win. You know that Mike Mayock's going to do a 20-minute film session breaking down Tom Brady's near perfect decision making. And after all is said and done, by the time Sunday rolls around, 8.5 might not feel like enough.

Either way, glad I'm not picking until Friday. And in the meantime, enjoy the hype.

From here, it's every man for himself.

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

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

MORE:

The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their main takeaways from the Patriots win over the Saints and discuss the injuries sustained during the game, specifically Rob Gronkowski's.

6:23 - Holley, Giles, and Smith talk about David Price pitching his first innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, but Holley thinks it is a mistake that he is not starting.

11:21 - Abby Chins joins BST for a discussion about Kyrie Irving's appearance on First Take.

14:43 - We go around the NFL for week 2 of the season and talk about the most surprising and best teams in the league.