Time Out for Sports Talk – Yakety yak, they always talk back
Todd: Typically the bye week during an NFL season is seen as a positive, as teams try to heal up for the stretch run and fans have a stress-free week watching games and knowing their team can’t lose.
But for a sports radio talk show host, a week without recapping and rehashing the prior week’s game is one giant negative which creates a huge void of airtime that must be filled with some sort of ridiculous rant. The final result can be lethal to the ears of the listening public.
Case in point—two of the biggest topics being bandied on the Boston sports stations this week were so inane I listened longer than I should have just to verify they were actually discussing them.
The first involves the Red Sox hot stove season, which started immediately after the final duck boat was emptied of baseball players (and after Jake Peavy finalized his purchase of one to bring to his home in Alabama). General Manager and 2013 MLB Executive of the Year Ben Cherington (a much deserved honor) elected to offer a one-year tender to shortstop Stephen Drew in order to receive draft pick compensation should he sign with another team.
Of course, the other possibility is that Drew would accept the tender and play for the Sox in 2014 on a one-year, $14.1 million deal. While I would prefer to see the Sox insert potential rookie sensation Xander Bogaerts at the shortstop position next year, it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing if the veteran Drew returned for a one-year deal. It would likely create a positional logjam in the Sox infield, but again it would only be for one year.
Then there’s the extremely obvious part of this scenario that most of these radio blowhards chose to ignore, that being Drew’s agent is none other than Scott Boras, who I’ve affectionately referred to in this space as Lucifer, Mephistopheles or whatever word you prefer to use to describe the slimiest sports agent in the biz. There is no possible way Satan Boras would allow Drew to accept the one-year tender from Boston when he knows there’s a team or two willing to offer multiple years at significant dollars.
But listening to the sports radio yakkers, you would have thought the Sox were crazy to even think about bringing Drew back after his woeful performance at the plate during the postseason, of course conveniently forgetting about all the run-saving defensive plays he made out in the field.
Example number two of idiotic topics that merely fill radio air until the next commercial break would be the recent release of NFL veteran safety Ed Reed by the Houston Texans less than a year after they signed the former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler to a three-year contract.
It was suggested that since Bill Belichick has always admired Reed as one of his favorite players, why shouldn’t the Pats take a chance and sign him after he clears waivers? So what if word got out that Reed was a disruptive force in the Texans’ locker room? The radio hosts blathered on and on how the Pats have enough positive guys in their locker room to keep Reed from being a distraction, but once again chose to ignore the obvious reason the Pats did not Reed, who subsequently signed with the J-e-t-s, coached by his former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
What am I missing? Reed is 35 and coming off significant hip surgery last offseason after finally winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens. He has lost a step defensively to the point that the Texans suddenly had buyer’s remorse and decided they didn’t want him around. If Reed still had some talent and Belichick thought he could have helped the Pats’ defense, he would have been brought on board. SO SHUT UP, RADIO HOSTS!!
Ok, my rant is over. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but if that’s what a sports radio host has to do to keep his job, I’m glad I don’t make a living that way.
Actually, I think the biggest reason the Pats opted not to sign Reed was because he’s doesn’t play defensive tackle or inside linebacker. With Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly all on injured reserve, the Pats need more help in their front seven than they do in the secondary, and I can’t even remember the last time I ever thought or typed that.
Not having been able to check out Pats practices over the last two weeks, I’m curious if we’ll continue to see Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia employ more of a 3-4 base instead of the 4-3 front the Pats have primarily used the last few seasons. I’ll also be very curious to see not only if Aqib Talib is back on the field, but how effective he’ll play as he deals with his chronic hip issues.
While the defense is forced to make adjustments in personnel, I think it’s going to be up to Tom Brady and the offense to be more productive and consistent than they were at the beginning of the season. That appears to be the case after the Pats put up 55 points in their last win, but let’s see if they can look as a good against a defense that actually puts up more than a little resistance.
That brings us to this week’s MNF tilt down in Charlotte against the suddenly surging 6-3 Carolina Panthers. These are not your father’s irrelevant or mediocre Panthers, but instead a team that has won five straight and are playing great defense. Last week at San Francisco they held the 49ers to three field goals and sacked Colin Kaepernick six times in a 10-9 upset win. Carolina’s defense is ranked second in the league against the run allowing just 82 yards a game, anchored in the middle by former Boston College linebacking standout Luke Kuechly.
Traditionally the Pats perform well right after their bye week, going 10-3 in those instances in the Belichick era. But the defense they’re facing this Monday night is the best they’ve played against all season. The offensive line struggled over the last few weeks and now faces their biggest challenge to date—can they open up holes for Stevan Ridley to run through and can they give Brady enough time in the pocket to find his receivers?
This should be a low-scoring affair and my prediction is being made partly because I expect the Pats will lose one of their next two games. Given that this week is against an NFC opponent, I’d prefer they come up short here instead of at home next week against the Broncos. Panthers 20, Patriots 19.
Mike (who is keeping his remarks brief this week because he is sick with a cold and in fact, his brain is fogged in somewhere over Cincinnati): Thankfully, I have been able to avoid most of the inane sports talk this week.
Though, I do get into the Hot Stove season, and while it does go on forever, I am intrigued at how the Red Sox will rebuild their team after winning a World Series. I personally think Jacoby Ellsbury is gone, likely to Seattle, and the Sox will end up resigning Drew and Mike Napoli.
The question mark for me is at catcher. Salty was solid last season, though he did lose the starting job in the World Series, the sticking point for me is the length of the deal. There are reports he is looking for four years, and I think that’s too long. I’d resign him at two, but I don’t think the Sox want to be stuck with him for four years at relatively big money.
Turning to the Pats, I think they are going to have a tough time this week, but they will pull it out on the road, Pats 23, Panthers 17.
OTHER NFL GAMES WE LIKE THIS WEEK
Todd (2-1 last week, 15-12 season): Still plenty of time for me to make a run at Mike, so let’s go with the Bears over the Ravens, the Saints over the struggling Niners and the Broncos to fittingly knock off the Chiefs from their lofty 9-0 heights since the game will be playing one mile above sea level.
Mike (1-2 last week, 18-9 season): I’ll take the Lions over Pittsburgh, Houston over Oakland and what the heck, the Chiefs over Denver.
Our next LIVE show is on Monday, November 25 from 8-9pm. You can post your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #TOSTnov25.