Sunday, April 23, 2017

When Did Rajon Rondo Become the Villain

Rajon Rondo was one of the keys to the Celtics' 2008 Championship.  He was the de facto captain of the Celtics after KG and Paul Pierce were exiled to Brooklyn before the 2013-14 season.  During his Celtics' tenure, he was a troubled but transcendent star.  He would fight with coaches, and then lead the team in points rebounds and assists.  Even after he was traded to the Mavericks, we fans celebrated him because his trade brought Jae Crowder and a first round draft pick.    I personally have not thought about him for quite some time and when Rondo showed up on the Bulls this season,  had no idea how.

When the Bulls were struggling mid-season, everyone in Chicago wanted to trade Rondo (although they wanted to trade Butler too.)  Rondo was floundering, blaming Wade and butler and generally looking disinterested.

But then the 2017 Playoffs started and things changed.  Really changed.  After the Bulls raced to a 2-0 lead, all the credit was given to Rondo for playing like his old self.  Danny Ainge even lamented that they were seeing "Playoff Rondo."  People were comparing this Rondo to that of the 2008 and 2009 Rondo.  Huh?? 

Look, My Thumb is Fine
Then for reasons I still don't understand, Rondo broke his thumb and he was out of the series.  Oh well, I thought.  I really didn't think he was the reason for the Bulls winning or losing anyway.  I thought that his involvement int eh series was over.  Put on a suit, Rajon!!

And then during Game 3, after Jae Crowder was celebrating a made 3 in front of the Bulls bench, you could see Rondo stick his leg out as Crowder was walking by.  All of a sudden, he was vilified in this area.  C and G both remarked to me how much they hated Rondo.  And int eh span of about 30 minutes, they both asked me if I had seen Rondo trip Crowder.

And after Rondo was fined $25,000 by the league for the "Trip" everyone seemed glad that he was caught and punished.  Forget about the fact that he is saying that he plans to appeal that decision even though he really didn't deny doing it

To go along with this, the intensity of the games seemed to ratchet up.  Watch Game 4 with G and DLG, they are both wondering why the teams seem to be playing so hard.  Even Mike Gorman was saying that things were crazy. 

All this because of little Rajon.  Ray Allen is somewhere shaking his head.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Joe Kelly is the Key to the Red Sox 2017 Season

Would you believe me if I told you that Joe Kelly had a 19-8 record in his 57 games with the Red Sox since he was traded along with Allen Craig and a bag of donuts from the Cardinals for John Lackey.  Now his ERA and his WHIP are not that great, but at the end of the day, those statistics don't win games.

Kelly had spent his first couple of years as a starter trying to parlay his plus curveball and straight 95 MPH fastball into lasting success.  That success was not forthcoming and he was relegated to the bullpen at the end of last year.

As 2017 rolled around and Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith remained laid up (of course guys named Tyler and Carson are not the toughest), Joe Kelly's role went from after thought to genuine set up man.  Koji isn't here anymore and Matt Barnes is really not that good when the game is on the line, so Kelly inherited the set up role for Craig Kimbrel.  I'm here to tell you that Joe Kelly is now the key to the Red Sox 2007 season.

Now the Red Sox have not been know for having lights out set up men in their most successful of seasons.  2013 saw Junichi Tazawa set up Koji.  Where did Tazawa go anyway?  2004 and 2007 both say Mike Timlin as the set up man - For Keith Foulke and Jonathan Papelbon, respectively.  Now, he was a nice addition to those teams, but he was not a lights out reliever by an stretch of the imagination. He seemed like a guy you could get a beer with, but not the kind that you could have a stress free beer with.

But times have changed.  Set up men are becoming more important these days.  In fact, you'll see a team's best relievers be set up men who come in with the bases loaded in the 7th inning.  Andrew Miller is a perfect example of this in Cleveland.  Oh yeah, he used to be with the Red Sox...

This is where Joe Kelly steps in to be one of the most important players on the team.  The relief pitching is thin, and we need someone to come in in the 7th and 8th innings. Kelly has been on successful teams in his 6 year career.  He just needs to sustain his confidence and throw strikes.  I for one think he's going to do it.  And the Red Sox will make the playoffs because of it.