UPDATE: Malden Men Who Recovered Red Sox Banner Will Not Face Charges

CBS Boston – There will be no charges filed in the case of the mysterious discovery of the Boston Red Sox American League East champions banner…

The company that made the banner didn’t believe the tale. The owner filed a report with Somerville Police in an effort to discover if the item was stolen.

On Friday, Somerville Police said no charges will be filed after the company asked to end the investigation.

Well, well, well. The company asked the police to end the investigation. That’s a far cry from what Tony Lafuente, the owner of the company, had to say to the Boston Globe just two days earlier:

“I’ve been doing work for the Boston Red Sox since 1992. Nothing ever happened like this.”
“[These guys] should be ashamed of themselves… those guys stole my banner.”

The story of the guys who found the banner was definitely far fetched, but Lafuente seemed a bit quick to point the finger at them. He probably should have thanked them for recovering an object that fell out of a moving vehicle and could have injured someone, rather than accuse them of stealing it.

We’ll see if Lafuente has anything else to say about this matter, but I doubt it. It’d be interesting to find out if this item truly did just fall off the truck, or if maybe it was “pushed” off the truck by a man on the inside. That’d be embarrassing for Lafuente. We’ll probably never know, though. Either way, I stand by my original position that these guys got hosed by the Sox.

Come on, John Henry. How many extra clicks did Boston.com get out of this? A couple of standing room tickets would be well worth those clicks. You shouldn’t penalize these guys just for being worse dealmakers than Barry Zuckerkorn.

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ESPN Ranks Jayson Tatum as the 23rd Best Player in the NBA and I Feel Some Sort of Way

So the Celtics have been getting a lot of love on ESPN’s Top 100 Players ranking they’ve been slowly releasing over the past couple of weeks with 6 (and counting) players cracking the list. But, what has me all jazzed up is the hype around my boy Jayson Tatum. After an excellent rookie season, Tatum looks ready to take the next leap into superstardom and ESPN seems to agree.

A quick explanation of how ESPN ranks these players:

“NBArank is a prediction for the coming season. Dozens of panelists from across ESPN, The Undefeated and FiveThirtyEight — TV analysts, reporters, editors, producers and researchers — voted to forecast which players would be best in 2018-19, taking into account both the quality and the quantity of their contributions.”

Before we get to Tatum, lets take a look at the full breakdown of every Celtics players that made the list. (ESPN has yet to release the Top 20 players yet so obviously Kyrie Irving is in there somewhere.)

  • Terry Rozier – No. 82
    • Rozier went from fans complaining Danny Ainge wouldn’t throw him into trades for rentals like Serge Ibaka to a lethal scorer off the bench that even spawned an iconic nickname in Scary Terry.
  • Marcus Smart – No. 55
    • Smart is the ultimate enigma as a player that is an average to awful shooter who doesn’t put up big scoring numbers, but is a defensive savant and is the energy guy to end all energy guys. It’s tough to rate a player that makes all the little plays, but the Celtics sorely missed him when he was out last year.
  • Gordon Hayward – No. 40
    • This is a 20 spot drop for Hayward, which seems like a bit much, but thats almost entirely due to uncertainty after missing all of last season. How will Hayward mesh with the Celtics was an interesting question last year and that was before the emergence of Tatum and Jaylen Brown. A good problem to have indeed.
  • Jaylen Brown – No. 37
    • A HUGE jump for Jaylen as he wasn’t even on the list last year. With a career best 39.5% from 3-pt range, 18 PPG in the playoffs, all while becoming an elite defender, Brown will be a huge factor for the C’s this season. He just may need to adjust to less playing time with the explosion of Tatum and the return of Hayward.
  • Al Horford – No. 34
    • Say it louder for the people in the back, ESPN. “Average” Al is the 34th best player in the league according to this survey. Horford may thrive this year as he’ll be asked less than he already is to be a leading scorer, which should allow him to facilitate until the cows come home.
  • Jayson Tatum – N0. 24
    • Obviously last year was Tatum’s rookie season so he wasn’t on this list before because he was still playing at DUKE. To go from playing for Coach K to being ranked the 24th best player in the NBA at the age of 20 is unreal. This truly has me feeling some kind of way. As I said over and over again last year, Jayson Tatum is a future 1st Team All-NBA player and he only got better as the season went along.

Here’s what ESPN had to say about Tatum as we gear up for his sophomore season.

Tatum evolved from role-playing starter into playoff closer, calmly averaging 18.5 PPG in 19 postseason games, looking like a longtime star in the process. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back, it will be interesting to see if Tatum is asked to take a backseat.

Given Brad Stevens’ willingness to put his five best players on the floor regardless of position, I wouldn’t expect Tatum’s minutes to decline. He can play some small-ball 4 and has proved he can remain efficient without volume. With that said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get fewer opportunities given Boston’s multitude of weapons”

Now before we all crown the Celtics champions lets remember it’s still September so anything can happen. Guys can take a step back, players can shatter their ankles, or another Super Team could rise out of the ground, but this Celtics team looks special. Not only are they chock full of talent, but they are so, so flexible that its scary. Just about every guy in their starting 5 can switch onto almost any position on defense. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum could probably stand next to each other and cover the entire width of the basketball court. Or just give them the ball and get out of the way as we saw in the playoffs last year. Horford is the ultimate facilitator and we haven’t even seen this team play with Gordon Hayward yet.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe is even more hyped about this team‘s potential than I am:

This quintet is the most exciting group since Golden State stumbled into the Death Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.”

Them fighting words. The Death Lineup is essentially the most efficient lineup in NBA history by most metrics. The Death Lineup is just lethal from any position as it features a starting 5 of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green. So to be compared to that?

Still not enough Celtics love for you? Alright lets pump their tires even more with these excerpts. Anddd go!

Brian Windhorst: “I’m bullish on Jayson Tatum’s future. (I know, join the club.) I think he has an outside shot to be a top-10 player next season.. I think the guy is an absolute stud in the making…I think he’s still ranked too low. I see him and the Celtics as having huge seasons.”

Kevin Pelton: “Tatum is nearly [a top 20 player] at age 20, making him a safe bet to reach the top 10.

Not to mention Tatum has been studying and practicing with some guy named Kobe Bryant so that may help him improve even further. Kobe has embraced the mentor role much better than I thought he would in retirement and thats a game changer for Tatum who has essentially modeled his entire game around the Hall of Famer.

Just a quick reminder that the Celtics are back on the court and playing organized basketball once again in just seven days. Then the regular season, and the sky high expectations that go along with it, kicks off October 16th at home as the 76ers come to town.

 

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Mister Rogers Gets the Google Doodle Treatment

Google is the de facto homepage of the internet, but their Google Doodles rarely catch my attention. With all due respect to Gerda Taro, Google’s celebration of her 108th birthday last month didn’t make much of an impression on me. Oftentimes it feels like Google goes out of their way to celebrate someone they found by clicking the “Random article” link on Wikipedia. Today’s doodle, though, might be their best yet.

Mister Rogers passed away 15 years ago, but he is currently experiencing a revival in popular culture. Maybe it’s millennial nostalgia, or maybe it’s a just a general longing for kinder, simpler times. Either way, today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 51st anniversary of the taping of the first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can watch that episode right now. Obviously it’s aimed at young children and a bit dry for anyone over the age of six, but it’s fascinating to see that his show was pretty much the same for 30+ years.

In addition to the Google Doodle, the Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor was released in June and is superb. It’s currently at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and is a surprisingly entertaining look at a seemingly simple man. Rogers is easily one of the best broadcasters of all time. I highly recommend seeing it. Rogers got his own postage stamp earlier this year, a new biography, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers was published just this month, and Tom Hanks is set to star as Rogers in You Are My Friend, which is scheduled to be released in 2019.

Mister Rogers may have passed away in 2003, but he and his legacy have not been forgotten. Good work from Google today.

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BAKER MAYFIELD IS PLAYING COMPETITIVE FOOTBALL TURN ON YOUR TV’S RIGHT NOW

….Ok so it is half time so he isn’t playing right this second. However as of right now the hypothetical QB1 under center for the Cleveland football Browns is Baker Reagan Mayfield. Spurned Texas Tech walk-on. Oklahoma Sooner Legend. Sworn enemy of Domestic Violence Bowl Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. He’s a gamer, he has it, he is Baker Mayfield.

I have NEVER seen the Cleveland Brown’s stadium (dk the name of it) have energy. I normally would say “that much energy” but I’ve never seen it/felt it have any at all. Even during the decent Derek Anderson/Braylon Edwards year it had an air of tragic inevitability. You knew the success was fleeting. BUT NOW IT IS BAKER TIME. The place was rocking. He threw a seed for a first down. Then another. Then fumbled. It was recovered by the Browns. Then he threw another 8 yard strike. Then had one batted down that would have been complete and led his WR out of bounds had he gotten it just thiiiis much closer to the sidelines. To complete the miracle drive, the Cleveland kicker actually made a Goddam field goal. Baker manifests points.

I can’t remember being this excited about a rookie QB. It’s not even the Patriots. Let’s fucking go indeed.

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Patriots Lions Week 3 Game Preview, Odds, and Things to Watch For

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I may have been off by about five points in terms of point differential, but I pretty much nailed last week’s game prediction. The Jags simply look like the team to beat in the AFC right now, and I am not surprised at all that Brady & Co. took an L down in the Sunshine State in Week 2.

Fortunately, the Pats have a good chance at a bounce-back game in a prime-time matchup against old friend Matt Patricia and the 0-2 Detroit Lions this Sunday – which also just so happens to be the date on which ya boy Mattes graced the world with his presence 29 years ago, so it’s only right that they’ll be victorious on such an important day.

(Also, I know everyone is all excited about Josh Gordon. Settle down; we’ll get there.)

Before we get into the game preview, here’s a quick look at where, when, and how to watch the game along with the latest lines:

  • Location: Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
  • Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC (Check local listings)
  • Odds (via Odds Shark): Patriots: -6.5 (spread)/Patriots: -265 (moneyline)/51.5 (total)

As you can see from the 51.5-point total, which is the fourth-highest total in the league this week, this game figures to be high-scoring. Both teams have a potent offense which overcompensates for a mediocre defense that is susceptible to giving up a lot of yards and points. Basically, if you got fantasy players on either side this week, feel free to go ahead and put pretty much all of them in your starting lineup.

So, who are some of the weapons that Detroit has? Well, they’re found mostly in the receiving corps, and their success all hinges upon the play of much-maligned quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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After an abysmal Week 1 performance, during which he threw FOUR picks in a loss to the New York Jets, people were calling for Stafford’s head (including our very own Red, who has him as his fantasy signal-caller this year). However, I thought it was a bit much. For as much as he turned the ball over during his first few years in the league (four seasons with 15-plus interceptions), he has an 89:37 TD-to-INT ratio over the past four seasons, which includes 2018. He’s also one of only five players to ever throw for over 5,000 yards in a season, and I bet you didn’t know that he was the fastest quarterback ever to reach 20,000 yards, 25,000 yards, AND 30,000 yards on his career. The guy’s also coming off of a 347-yard, three-touchdown, zero-pick performance against San Francisco.

The point is: this dude can sling the rock, and the only reason he gets so much criticism is because he’s yet to win one playoff game in 11 NFL seasons. (I get it, Detroit; you’re hungry.) And with Detroit’s nasty group of receivers, coupled with the fact that the Pats have given up the fifth-most passing yards in the league through two games, Stafford could do some damage on Sunday.

Of the receivers, I expect Golden Tate to have the most success. The game’s most underappreciated slot receiver has 14 catches on a ridiculous 28 targets through two games so far as Stafford’s No. 1 guy. The Lions also have two big boys on the outside in Marvin Jones (6’2″, 198 pounds) and Kenny Golloday (6’4″, 214 pounds), both of whom use their size and unfair athleticism to gain big chunks of yards in a hurry, averaging 13.5 and 15.6 yards per catch, respectively. The Pats are definitely going to give up some real estate through the air this week – especially if either Trey Flowers and/or Patrick Chung, who both haven’t practiced this week due to being in concussion protocol, are ruled out.

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Sure, I’m excited about Gordon. But MAN, I really wish those Golden Tate trade rumors weren’t just all talk. This dude can BALL.

Fortunately, they could have success containing Detroit’s very lackluster running game. Right now, the team is using a three-pronged “attack” of Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount.

Riddick has been one of the Lions’ key offensive pieces for the past five seasons as the team’s third-down/pass-catching specialist. While he is not built to be any team’s primary ball-carrier, he does have 234 (!) receptions since 2014, including 14 already this season. He’s going to be targeted and used a lot.

Johnson, a rookie, is by far the most talented back of the bunch from an overall standpoint, but for some reason he has been sharing the load with Blount between the tackles so far. Truthfully, Johnson – who also has eight receptions on the year and is by no means a one-trick pony – should have been given the starting role right out of the gate, and maybe this is the game he finally takes a stranglehold on the role for good. It’s only a matter of time until Blount fades away entirely. Either way, I don’t expect the Lions to kill the Pats on the ground.

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Johnson will be a household name soon enough, giving the Lions their first good back since Barry Sanders – and Mattes’s fantasy squad a much-needed boost.

On defense, there’s not much to talk about besides the fact that the Lions are expected to be without stud corner Darius Slay, per Kyle Meinke of MLive, which must be music to Brady’s ears. After a brutal dogfight against the Jags vaunted secondary last week, things won’t be nearly as difficult for the offense on Sunday night. (Especially if Flash Gordon is ready to go!) (UPDATE: Slay did return to Lions practice in a non-contact jersey on Friday, but he is still unlikely to play [h/t Rotoworld].)

Storylines to Keep An Eye On

(What Will We See from Josh Gordon?): This is obviously the biggest storyline heading into the game. Pats Nation is absolutely giddy with excitement over this week’s acquisition of the uber-talented but oft-troubled 27-year-old receiver. He has the skills to make a Randy-Moss-level impact on the team’s offense, or he could easily succumb to past transgressions and fade out in a “Flash.” I’m remaining hopeful, but I’m also not expecting a huge impact from him in Game 1. As we’ve discussed before, the Patriots system has claimed the careers of many former standout pass-catchers in the past, and while Gordon has practiced the past two days, he’s going to need a little more time to get up to speed. He’s also dealing with a minor hamstring issue, so don’t expect him to be truly unleashed until at least next week. If Bill does decide to throw him right into the fire, though, I’d say 4-5 targets, max, isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

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Apparently, Flash is going to be rocking No. 10 as a Patriot.

(So…Maybe Sony Michel is the Guy Now?)After missing basically all summer plus the season opener, Michel was immediately granted 11 touches (12 if you include his kick return) in his debut against the Jags last Sunday. He was even thrown to on two separate occasions. Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead rushed the ball six times and wasn’t targeted once in the passing game. (James White also got eight targets and seven receptions, but that’s always going to happen. He’s basically our Riddick.) Typical. Friggin. Belichick. Some believe it’s because Burkhead was dealing with concussion symptoms earlier in the week and the team was taking it easy with him; I believe, in typical Belichick fashion, he likes to choose which back will be the horse each week depending on the matchup. Until one of them, likely Michel, busts out and locks down the role as top dog, I’m done trying to project anything regarding the team’s group of backs. (My Burkhead for offensive MVP prediction could be in some serious doubt. But hey, at least the rookie finally got on the field!)

(Reunited and It Feels So Goooood): For the 21st time in his Patriots career, Belichick will face off against one of his former assistants, against whom he has a combined 14-6 record. This time it’s former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who’s currently suffering through a tough start to his NFL head-coaching career. There’s really not much to be said here, as it’s really only a fluffy storyline being used to try and create some more drama and intrigue. Still, it’s always fun to see if the grasshopper can successfully take down the master…even though he probably won’t.

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Always remember the good times, boys.

Prediction

The Pats are able to come out and establish the run early on. Detroit’s defense has been absolutely GASHED so far on the ground, giving up 179.5 rushing yards per game, which is good for dead last in the league. (I know it’s only been two games, but the next-worst mark is Oakland with 154. The Lions run D is horrendous.) Brady is also able to move the ball pretty well through the air and puts up over 20 points before the half. Not to be outdone, Stafford also has his way with the Pats defense, but the Pats clock-killing offensive game plan doesn’t give him a ton of opportunities to keep up. In the end, the game will be close and high-scoring, but the Pats will ultimately tame the Lions, 38-28.

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Disney Confirms That Marvel Will Take Over X-Men

OMG OMG OMG it’s happening and I am having a gigantic nerdgasm. So a few months back Disney acquired FOX, which I blogged about back in December, and after some anti-trust concerns, Disney finalized the deal. Now its been confirmed that Kevin Feige will oversee the X-Men, which is huge news as he is the president of Marvel Studios. Feige is basically the architect, the godfather, the puppet master of the $17 billion dollar industry that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He got people to see TWENTY movies over more than a decade and care about characters like Iron Man and Thor, who were absolute D-List superheroes back in 2007. Feige essentially created shared universes in cinema as we know it today. Very few, if any, movies were combining IPs to tie into one gigantic story across different franchises like Marvel.

Marvel’s success has only made the failures of company like DC and Sony loom even worse. Sony had a decent run with the first two Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies, but the third one was trash, and then they rebooted it with Andrew Garfield, which was trash, only to have it saved once they rebooted it yet again with the help of Marvel for the current iteration of Spidey.

Now X-Men has been much more of a mixed bag in terms of quality. There have been excellent movies like Logan, Deadpool, and X-Men 2 as well as some truly garbage ones like X-Men 3: The Last Stand.

Most recently they’ve run into trouble as two very publicly announced movies have been pushed back time and time again to the point where I don’t know if we’ll ever even see them. There was the Sophie Turner Dark Phoenix movie and the Maisie Williams X-Men movie, The New Mutants. Both seem to be stuck in purgatory, which says volumes about the overall quality of them both. I mean New Mutants already had a trailer drop a year ago for christ’s sake.

I think the biggest problem with X-Men though has always been seeing the bigger picture. The movies always jumped around without any bigger map of where it was all heading. They never really know where they’re going with anything aside from the one movie they’re currently in. Thats how you end up killing off one of the biggest X-Men ever in Cyclops in the first 20 minutes of X3 (spoiler alert) only to have Days of Future Past completely retcon the whole thing and fix it with some tricky time traveling.

See? Not confusing at all.

Now, enter the GOAT of universe building in Kevin Feige and we’re cooking with gas.
And thats BEFORE we even mention the inevitable crossover events. After Avengers 4 comes out next summer, a movie in which most expect to be the final film for guys like Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Hemsworth, Marvel will be banking on younger players like Black Panther and Spiderman to carry the studio. Just imagine the possibilites with all of the X-Men characters finally available on the roster? It’s going to be truly amazing to watch. Plus they might even be able to reboot Fantastic Four, which was an absolute disaster.

TWICE.

So this is awesome news for fans of comic books and blockbuster movies. Everybody wins. We can start imagining the movies we never thought possible due to bullshit exclusive contracts.

The only downside? It took too long. The greatest character in the 11 movie history of the X-Men universe is dead and retired in Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. Unless….

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There are Rumors Abound That the Pats are Going to Sign Colin Kaepernick

I know that this is not the most reputable source but this is the same account that had the Gordon news before just about anybody than Rap, you’ll have to just trust me.

When I saw this I sat back and kind of just said, “well how about that.” Believe it or not when I hear Kaepernick’s name the first thing I think of is still a 24 year old Joey B watching him carve up the NFC and come within a pick of making it to the Super Bowl. He could run, he had an arm, his choice of pet was a turtle, the whole shebang.

Now, sticking to football, he could have not given less of a fuck about learning to read defenses or look off his receivers, which is a tad bit of an issue in the NFL. There was some SERIOUS flaws to his game. With all of that said I still always thought he could be a reclamation project if a team could lock him in the film room.

So how do I feel now that he may be New England’s new back up/3rd string. I feel fine. He has a similar skill-set to Brissett and I am sure the Pats could come up with some McTrickery to include him in. TB12 could show him how to be a professional, possibly excluding the rub and tugs from Alex Gonzalez, and who knows, at 30(ish?) he still could have a few solid years left. Maybe at least become a trade piece.

Ball is ball.

-Joey B.

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