Patriots

Bobby goes with Bard

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Bobby goes with Bard

Tough loss for the Red Sox, and in the aftermath, the biggest issue we'll all be talking about aside from finding a seeing eye dog for umpire Larry Vanover is Bobby Valentine's decision to leave Daniel Bard in the game.

You know the deal by now. It was the top of the seventh inning in a 0-0 contest, and the bases were loaded with Rays. There were two outs. Bard already more than 100 pitches into his day was on the mound. Evan Longoria was at the plate. Matt Albers who's had success against Longoria in the past was ready in the pen.

And at this point, everyone thought Bard was done.

Everyone but Bobby Valentine.

He left Bard in, Bard walked Longoria and the winning run crossed the plate.

Final score: 1-0, Tampa.

Boooooo!

That was the Fenway crowd reacting to Bobby V. after he eventually did remove Bard from the game. And believe me, I felt the same way. I don't think there's anyone who was watching that game who thought it was the right move to let Bard keep going. Afterwards, Valentine himself said it was a bad decision.

He should've taken him out!

We can all agree.

But before we move on, and write off Valentine's decision as the reason the Sox lost the game, it's probably worth bringing up last week.

I'm talking about Daniel Bard's first start. A 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

This time, it was the start of the sixth inning, and the Sox trailed 3-1. Bard kicked off the inning with a walk to Edwin Encarnacion. Then, he gave up an infield single to Brett Lawrie. So, it was first and second with no one out. Bard had thrown 96 pitches, and like this afternoon, he looked a little tired. Bobby Valentine came out and gave him the hook.

Bard was upset. Visibly upset.

I can't find the video online, because Bud Selig doesn't understand the Internet, but Bard was miffed enough over Valentine's decision that Orsillo and Remy were forced to comment on it. One of them said something along the lines of: "And Bard does NOT look happy out there! He's going to have to get used to the hook now that he's in the rotation. It's not something he ever experienced out of the bullpen."

So, what happened after Bard's exit last week?

Justin Thomas (nee Thompson) came in and walked Eric Thames, gave up a two-run single to JP Arencibia and then a sac fly to Colby Rasmus. Suddenly, it was 6-1, and five of the runs were Bard's. If he was upset before he left, you can only imagine how he felt after.

Anyway, today, unlike in his first start, Bard got the chance to work out of his own mess. It went just as miserably as it did when Valentine let the bullpen handle it, but in the long run, maybe it was worth Valentine giving Bard that chance.

After all, he's new to the starting game. He still needs to get a hold of that mentality. To understand what it's like when you run out of gas, and why sometimes a manager needs to give you the hook.

Now, maybe next time Valentine does remove Bard, and does so at a time when the hurler wants nothing more than to stay in the game and finish his own mess, he'll remember today, and understands why it's the right move.

Ultimately, how Bard feels about getting the hook shouldn't matter. The manager needs to make the decision that's best for the team. And today, Valentine didn't do that. But in the long run, maybe it's a learning experience for Bard.

One that will help him along the road to converting from reliever to reliable starter.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said, “you have to love challenges.”

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