While the Red Sox are still trying to find their groove and keep pace in the division, the Celtics and the Bruins spent this week worrying more about the future than the present with their respective drafts. It was a pretty exciting week on all fronts, so let’s get right into it.
Boston Red Sox
As the only team to actually play games this week, the Red Sox split their six games with a 3-3 record. However, the week started on a much higher note than it ended. The Sox went into Minnesota as winners of five straight games to play one of the best teams in baseball this year in the Twins. The series was definitely a success, as they won two out of three with the only loss being a 17-inning marathon.
Rick Porcello pitched seven shutout innings in Monday’s 2-0 victory. Then on Tuesday, the Twins won 4-3 in 17 innings in a game that lasted almost six hours. Max Kepler was the hero in that game, as he tied the game in the eighth and 13th innings and then won the game with a walk-off single in the 17th. Boston got right back on track the next day though, winning 9-4 and the series. Brock Holt recorded three RBIs in the series finale, and Michael Chavis added two more.
After an off-day on Thursday, the Red Sox were back in action at Fenway on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. They went down early due to an uncharacteristically poor outing for Chris Sale in which he lasted just five innings and let up four runs. The Sox showed tremendous fight though and erased a 5-1 deficit with three runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth. Rafael Devers delivered the game-tying hit as a pinch hitter, and the game went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Christian Vazquez sent the Boston crowd (including myself who was in attendance) home happy with a walk-off two run home run to give the Red Sox their eighth win in nine games.
The rest of the weekend failed to live up to the excitement of that first game. The Sox lost one of their ugliest games of the year on Saturday with the bullpen squandering an early 6-0 lead. The Blue Jays scored seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings, the final two coming on bases loaded walks, to take an 8-6 lead. They would end up winning 8-7 after a ninth-inning rally fell short for the Red Sox. Boston’s bats didn’t even bother to show up for the final game of the series on Sunday. They got seven hits but none of them were timely as they fell 6-1. Porcello let up five runs in his six innings of work.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad week for the Red Sox but it could have been a lot better. They still sit eight games back in the AL East at 42-37. Next, they welcome the Chicago White Sox into town before traveling to London to play the New York Yankees in the historic first MLB games ever played in Europe. That will definitely be a fun series.
The Celtics got some bad news early last week when Al Horford opted out of the last year of his current contract and then decided not to re-sign with the Celtics on a long-term deal. He is now a free agent and is expecting to sign a four year, $100+ million contract elsewhere. This is a crushing blow to the Celtics, as Horford was the most consistent player on the roster over the past three years. He was a tremendous player and teammate and will certainly be missed.
The draft became even more important after the announcement of Horford’s departure because with two of the Celtics best players (Horford and Kyrie Irving) likely not returning, the team will have a completely new look next year. The Cs made the first step towards that new look on Thursday night with the NBA draft. They made a few draft-night deals involving picks and one that sent Aron Baynes to the Suns, but here are the picks and players they ended up with:
Round 1, Pick 14: Romeo Langford G, Indiana
Round 1, Pick 22: Grant Williams F, Tennessee
Round 2, Pick 33: Carsen Edwards G, Purdue
Round 2, Pick 51: Tremont Waters G, LSU
There’s a lot to like about this group. Langford played all last season with a thumb injury, so his numbers aren’t amazing but he has a ton of potential. Williams is probably my favorite pick because of his team-first mentality and great work ethic. He is a bit undersized for a power forward at 6’7, but he is a two-time SEC Player of the Year for a reason. He has the potential to be a star. Edwards is an unbelievable scorer and shooter, as he showed with multiple 42-point games in this year’s tournament. He may be the steal of the draft. Waters is another guy with a ton of potential. He is small at 5’10 but he can do everything a point guard should very well: shoot, pass and dribble. He is also an elite defender for his size, which is a huge plus.
In addition to these four, the Celtics also signed Tacko Fall to an Exhibit 10, non-guaranteed deal. Fall stands at 7’7 and became an internet sensation during his time at UCF due to his unbelievable size. He has a chance to make an impact this season with a depleted frontcourt if he performs well in summer league.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what all of these players have to offer in the upcoming season.
The Bruins didn’t have much time to mourn their Stanley Cup loss, as they had to prepare for the NHL Entry Draft which took place this past Friday and Saturday. Here are the five players the Bruins selected:
Round 1, Pick 30: John Beecher, C
Round 3, Pick 92: Quinn Olson, LW
Round 5, Pick 154: Roman Bychkov, D
Round 6, Pick 185: Matias Mantykivi, C
Round 7, Pick 192: Jake Schmaltz, LW
Beecher is the biggest selection, both in size and importance. He stands at 6’3, 210 pounds and is a tremendous skater. He will have to work on his offensive aggressiveness as he recorded just 15 goals for the US National Team Development Program last season, but he has some serious potential to be a key contributor to the Bruins in a couple of years. He will play his college hockey at Michigan.
Olson is another interesting selection. He is smaller (5’11) yet plays with a lot of feistiness. Sounds a lot like Brad Marchand to me. He will be going to Minnesota Duluth for his college hockey. The other selections are secondary and far from sure things, but who knows? Maybe they will pan out and be fixtures on the roster in a few years. Only time will tell.
Regardless, the draft is a good time to put the disappointing ending of last season behind us and look towards a hopefully bright future with these young talents.
New England Patriots
There is not much news about the Patriots this week, but there is some. Sony Michel is reportedly running at full strength now after his knee scope that kept him out of offseason workouts. Also, Tom Brady worked out with Josh Gordon last week, which was really cool. Gordon is out indefinitely after violating the NFL’s drug policy, but Brady is clearly expecting him to be back in action at some point this season and is helping him stay in shape.
Finally, the Patriots organization is reportedly angry with former executive Jack Easterby for his actions this offseason. He spent the last six seasons with the team before jumping ship in late February after the Robert Kraft controversy. Then, he supposedly tried to recruit Patriots Director of Personnel Nick Caserio to his new team, the Houston Texans. The Patriots have since filed charges against the Texans for tampering, and they stopped pursuing him. But I think it’s safe to say Easterby doesn’t have many friends left in Foxboro.