By Michael Felger
Three nuggets to chew on as we come out of the dog days of summer.
Are you beginning to get the picture on Josh Beckett yet? Hes pretty good. But hes not great -- and those who think otherwise are simply ignoring the facts.
Beckett is completing his fifth year with the Red Sox this season and has made 134 starts in the American League. That's a good sample size, more than enough to accurately pass judgment. And over that time his ERA is 4.22. That's it. 4.22. That's what he is.
Obviously, Beckett has had some stellar postseasons (7-3, 3.07 lifetime). I'd take him in October -- no question about it. But getting there has become a problem. His failure in New York on Sunday versus Dustin Moseley wasn't all that hard to predict. Beckett's last five starts against the Yankees have produced an 0-3 record with a 10.54 ERA and 32 earned runs over the last 27 13 innings. Brutal.
So that's the deal with Beckett right now. Hes a guy who will bully the dregs like Cleveland and Seattle, but will get lit up by the iron. Sunday should have been a clear advantage for the Sox, and if Beckett had done his job the Sox would have walked away from the weekend with three out of four wins against the division leaders, setting themselves up for a very interesting final seven weeks.
But he wasn't up to it.
The chatter surrounding possible movement on Tom Brady's contract is increasing heading into Thursdays exhibition opener against New Orleans, which makes perfect sense. The Saints game is a meaningful threshold.
Without a new contract, Brady is assuming a huge amount of risk by playing football this month. His next contract will probably include around 50 million in guarantees, and since he's set to make just 6.5 million this year, that means Brady's exposure is north of 40 million. This is where his situation is dramatically different from that of Peyton Manning, who is making 16 million this season and has earned around 30 million more than Brady since the two signed extensions in 2004-05. There's just more at stake for Brady.
Which is why it would behoove the Patriots to mitigate that risk for Brady prior to Thursday's game. If a long-term extension is too complicated in the current labor environment, then a one-year raise should be in order, something to tie Brady over until the CBA comes into focus.
It's one thing for Brady to be participating in training camp practices wearing the red (non-contact) jersey. It's another for him to be lining up against the defending champion Saints, who will be hitting him for real. Taking care of him before that point is just the right thing to do.
Maybe that's what he and Bob Kraft were discussing on the golf course the other day.
So it turns out that the same year a sketchy Canadian doctor by the name of Anthony Galea is charged with trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs, two of his highest-profile clients Alex Rodriquez and Tiger Woods suffer the worst seasons of their careers. Hmmm. Just a coincidence, right?
Woods certainly has other factors at play in his slump, but he still deserves the speculation. No one would be surprised if it turned out PEDs were a big part of his story.
Then theres the case of the NFLs reigning defensive rookie of the year, Houston's Brian Cushing, who is claiming his positive test last year was the result of over-training. It turns out, according to Cushing, that he suffers from a rare syndrome called "over-trained athlete syndrome," which can trigger hormonal spikes after breaks in training. And thats why he tested positive for a female fertility drug.
Right. Thats it.
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