I was saddened by the death of David Patten, only forty-seven-years-old, from a motorcycle accident. He was a vital contributor to the early portion of the Patriots' dynasty. How can I put this? He was a cog. Never one of the better players on those rosters, but someone you needed. I think what stands out most to me from the 2001, 2003, 2004 Patriots teams is just how many good players they had. Their percentages of good players.
The only comparable I know of in this way is the dynastic New York Islanders. The Edmonton Oilers, for instance, did what they did with high-level talent, rather than that kind of depth of good players. The Boston teams that ought to be the most beloved, and are, for the most part, are the '67 Sox, '69-'70 Bruins, 1985-86, Celtics, 2004 Red Sox, and those '01 Patriots, but that Super Bowl team is obscured by all of the success that followed. It stands out less, and it shouldn't.
I also don't think there are Patriots fans the way there are Bruins and Red Sox fans. The Patriots get more of the fair-weathers. They have much bigger numbers. But they don't have the same dedicated core base. The Red Sox core base is older. It's a family thing, a generational thing. The Bruins get a younger base (younger can be fifties--I think a lot of people in their seventies and eighties are the Red Sox' base). That's the nature of hockey--those who are into it are into it hardcore, and a lot of the Bruins' base is made up of hockey families. The adults used to play the sport, or their kids do, or both.
It occurred to me the other day that Mike Krushelnyski, of all people, was a part of the most successful single season line in NHL history, in 1984-85, when he skated with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri.
Here's a Wayne Gretzky stat that borders on the alarming: in 1981-82, he averaged 3.08 points per game at home.
The Rays own the Red Sox. They dominate them most games, and they can come back on them in the others. One good thing about this Red Sox season, paradoxically: they should be accustomed to awful losses. It's kind of their norm. They shouldn't be derailed by one at this point, or the next one. Whatever. Shake it off. Sucks, but you're here. You still have a chance. That's how I'd look at it.
If the Red Sox hadn’t dipped, then Rafael Devers could well have copped the MVP. He’s going to get one at some point. OPS is a little low. When he becomes more selective he’ll go to another level.
Another fascinating stat: Graig Nettles has the highest WAR (67.9) for a player with a career batting average under .260 in baseball history. He hit .248.
I saw posts on Twitter from people who know nothing about baseball--including people who are paid a lot of money to talk about baseball--saying that the Red Sox could use Jackie Bradley, he was so great in centerfield, etc. Jackie Bradley is having one of the worst seasons in twenty-first century baseball. It might be the absolute worst. He's hitting .169. His OPS is .521. His OPS+ is 40. In fact, he's having one of the worst seasons in the entire history of baseball. He's a real contender for the worst anyone has ever been. No defense makes up for that. He was also overrated defensively.
But yes, Alex Verdugo is terrible in centerfield. The Red Sox obviously have analytics people who tell them that defense doesn't matter. That defense will cost them ten wins on the season, easily.