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Saturday sports thoughts

Saturday 1/15/22

Jon Lester retired. Not a Hall of Famer, but an excellent pitcher. A championship pitcher. If he was your best pitcher, you could easily win a championship. Full-on #1. The guy. I saw someone who was billed as an expert--which is usually BS, because there are hardly any real experts in this world about anything--on some baseball site claim that he was the best postseason pitcher of all-time. Nonsense, of course. Not even close. The best postseason pitcher of all-time is Christy Mathewson, which is also not even close. No one knows this. Funny how I don't have these jobs. Mathewson appeared in 11 postseason games in four World Series. Each appearance was a start. His record was only 5-5. His teams won that first World Series, and then dropped the other three. But consider: Mathewson pitched 101.2 innings in those 11 starts. That's right: he averaged more than 9 innings per start. His ERA was 0.97. In that first World Series, he made three starts, recording three three shutouts. In those three shutouts, he gave up 13 hits and 1 walk. These numbers are insane. They are virtually unmatchable. Lester, though, was a bonafide postseason stud. I saw him throw Game 1 against the Rays in the 2013 Division Series. I was there by myself, because I had lost everything in my life and of course I have no friends and didn't then either. There was this drunken fat woman who kept screaming in my face, "Why are you so sad, we're fucking winning!" My surmise from her teeth was that she had never flossed in her life. It was awful. But Lester was great. There are postseason series where you know that every time one guy gets the ball, he will dominate. Schilling in 2001, Beckett in 2003 and 2007. That was Lester's year to be this way. His career postseason record was 9-7 with a 2.51 ERA. He's not the best postseason pitcher ever, but he's in the top ten or twelve.

I saw people arguing on a hockey history discussion board if Mike Bossy or Wayne Gretzky was the better goal scorer. I liken Bossy's goal scoring to Dan Marino's throwing ability. I've never seen a better thrower of the football than Dan Marino. Pure thrower. Bossy was a pure goal scorer in this regard. On the stick and then boom, in the back of the net. He was a machine like Larry Bird could be a machine as a shooter. In that way, I think Bossy stands alone. Gretzky was different. He scored via his hockey playing, rather than his goal scoring, if that makes sense. He was not a machine. His goal scoring was more improvisational, fluid, dictated by other factors, one being how he read and dictated the terms of a game. He was water flowing into cavities; Bossy was the machine that got plugged in.

But these people were talking about how Gretzky focused on playmaking and Bossy on goal scoring. They made Bossy sound one-dimensional, like someone who'd pot 58 goals and 34 assists. I don't think any of them had a clue about Bossy's passing. He was one of the great passers, and this he did as a wing, which is rare. The man had 83 assists one season. That's the third highest total ever for a right winger. More than an assist a game. What people also fail to consider is that one's playmaking game impacts one's goal scoring game and vice versa. They don't exist in isolation. If you fear my ability to thread a perfect pass on a 2-on-1, that can cause the goaltender to cheat to the weak side, and I can rifle one into the top corner on the short side, to give one example. Likewise, Bossy's quick release would have generated a lot of rebound opportunities for his linemates to rack up the garbage goals.

I'm expecting the Patriots to get crushed tonight. Nothing I saw all year suggests to me that they can win this football game. They can't stop the run. Josh Allen routinely beats them, they've been a wreck since the bye, Matt Judon is non-existent over the last month, Mac Jones doesn't have the game. They are sloppy, make mental mistakes, and look like a team that lacks energy. To win, they'll need a lead, field position advantages, takeaways. Things are going to have to go their way. A pick-6. Their woeful special teams game has to be flawless. I just don't see it happening.

Saw Aaron Rogers was the first team All-Pro selection, as he should have been. He'll win the MVP. The Packers almost always blow the big game, but I think they'll win the Super Bowl this year. Rogers gets his second, and last, title. He's too good to retire with just the one. I'd say it's the Packers' to win more than in any other year, even years when it seemed decently set up for them. Dallas could make some noise. The Rams. Would like to see the Steelers give the Chiefs a game. The Steelers are good at this kind of thing--that is, making it interesting, and even pulling the thing out, when they are nowhere near as good as their opponent. They're good at playing loose, I guess you could say, when they should be obliterated.

As I wrote on Twitter, it's hilarious that Brad Marchand was not an NHL All-Star. He is the Bruins' best player since Ray Bourque, as effective as he has ever been, and far and away the most complete forward in hockey. I will tell you something else--he's a better defensive player than the regularly overrated Patrice Bergeron, and Bergeron (who is an All-Star for some reason) has never come within shouting distance of Marchand's offensive game. He is an A player as a goal scorer, playmaker, power play guy, on the penalty kill, and at 5-on-5.


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