Yankee drama could be on its way to Boston


Yankee drama could be on its way to Boston

By Rich Levine

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

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

Celtics co-owner pleased with present, future of team

BOSTON – Like most of us around New England, Wyc Grousbeck heard all the early praise doled out on the Boston Celtics as being one of the elite teams in the East prior to this season starting. 

“I felt before the season that maybe we were being overrated,” Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, told CSNNE.com. “That we were maybe a top-10 team in the league and the top few in the East, maybe. But it still felt like a longshot.”

And here they are, preparing to play Game No. 75 this season, against Milwaukee, with the best record (48-26) in the Eastern Conference. 

“They’ve grown into themselves,” Grousbeck said. “They’re playing better than I probably thought.”

But Grousbeck has been around the NBA long enough to know there is still much work to be done. After all, the Celtics’ focus remains on winning an NBA title. But Grousbeck is wise enough to know that while that is the goal, it often takes longer to accomplish than anyone – himself included – would like. 

It’s even trickier when you consider how the East is still relatively close despite their being just a handful of games remaining. 

“There’s a bunch of teams scuffling around in the East, and we’re scuffling around with them,” Grousbeck said. “We gotta do something in the playoffs.”

This will be Boston’s third straight season advancing to the postseason. Each of the first two appearances ended with a first-round exit. 

But this year is different. The Celtics are on pace to finish with home court advantage at least through the first round of the playoffs. But if they’re able to win the games they are favored throughout the remainder of this regular season, they will finish with the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

And as we’ve seen of late, home court has indeed been an advantage for Boston which comes into tonight’s game having won its last seven at home, which includes the first four games of a current six-game home stand. 

The success Boston has had thus far has raised the expectations of many. 

And while Grousbeck certainly wants to see the Celtics have more success than they have had the last couple of years in the playoffs, there’s no mistaking he is pleased with the direction of the franchise that just four years ago was a lottery team.

“There’s no reason to put a ceiling on the season,” Grousbeck said. “I think this season already looks good to me. I love our coach. I love our young players. I love our draft picks and our potential cap room (this summer); all of our fans. So I’m already happy with where the team is going.

Grousbeck added with a grin, “If we can speed it up all the better.”

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."