Red Sox

A real Top Ten

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A real Top Ten

By Michael Felger

A top-ten for your Monday perusal:

1. Fraud of the Month award goes to Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, who on Sunday blasted the league over its handling of the Islanders-Penguins brawl that netted 346 penalty minutes and 10 ejections on Friday in New York. Lemieux said the league failed to send the proper message by not handing out tougher suspensions. We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players,'' said Lemieux.

This from the man who employs Matt Cooke.

Funny how we didn't hear these comments after Cooke sent Marc Savard to the hospital last year. Funny how we didn't hear them after Cooke viciously boarded Columbus' Fedor Tyutin last week. Funny how Lemieux continues to sign Cooke's checks.

Fraud.

2. And some people still believe LeBron is a more dangerous player than Kobe? Please. Is there any question what Bryant would have done with those two free throws on Sunday?

3. Anyone who deluded themselves into believing the Bruins were an elite team should have been set straight this weekend, when they were rocked in a pair of games by the Red Wings. The aggregate score was 10-3. The shots were 70-51. Lidstrom. Datsyuk. Zetterberg. Bertuzzi. Holmstrom. Rafalski. That's what a true Stanley Cup contender looks like.

The Bruins, meanwhile, still look like two-and-done fodder. That's for now. The trade deadline is two weeks from today.

4. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I expect a big year from Jonathan Papelbon. He made a conscious effort a few years ago to change his mechanics so as not to throw out his arm. The reason he did that was to make it to his walk year. Now that he's here, something tells me he's going to open it up.

5. Interesting decision by NBC not to roll video during a discussion about fighting in the NHL during the Bruins broadcast on Sunday. The stated reason was that they didn't want to "celebrate'' it. Sigh. Then why spend two segments talking about it?

A more important question is why the league continues to be ashamed of itself. Here's an idea: Stop trying to sell the sport to people and places who don't get it and, frankly, don't want to get it. Focus on those of us who DO love the sport, and give us what we want. And that includes fighting.

6. Remember all those people who said last year that Tiger Woods would be able to brush off his fall from grace and continue to dominate pro golf? Over 12 months later, it still hasn't happened.

7. I keep getting emails that say things like this:

-- Steven Stamkos through Feb. 14 as a rookie in 2008-09: seven goals.

-- Tyler Seguin through Feb. 14 as a rookie in 2010-11: Nine goals.

Hey, whatever makes you feel better.

8. I know Logan Mankins is going to be upset if and when the Pats apply the franchise tag to him, but there's got to be at least part of him that would like to call the Pats' bluff and play a season under the tag. That's because the franchise number for offensive linemen this year is 10.7 million. That's an absurd number for a guard, but because tackles are used to compute the number for all linemen, Mankins benefits. Again, over 10 million, guaranteed, for one season to play guard. That's more than the franchise numbers at cornerback (9.5 million), defensive tackle (7 million), running back (8.1 million) and receiver (9.5 million).

So if I were Mankins I might be tempted to say: You want to pay me 10 million guaranteed to play guard for one year? Go right ahead.

9. It's just fun writing bad things about LeBron. So it took him 21 shots to score 22 points in a have-to-have-it game . . . with a point guard checking him?

Tremendous.

10. Go Huskies!

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

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Werner: Red Sox feel pressure to keep up with Yankees, Astros

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski may not be looking closely at the Yankees' and Astros' rosters, but chairman Tom Werner was on Friday.

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“Sure there’s pressure,” Werner said at Winter Weekend when asked about the Yankees’ pick-up of Giancarlo Stanton and the Astros’ addition of Gerrit Cole.  “Houston was formidable last year. I thought we played them competitively in Fenway Park. They’ve obviously improved. But if we have the kind of performances I expect from some of our players this year — obviously we’re looking for some more improvement from certain players. Hopefully, a healthy David Price will be very important to that. 

"I think we have an excellent team, but anything can happen in a short series. The Yankees have improved, there’s no question about it. They have a deep bullpen and a great offense. But I like our chances.”

At the Boston baseball writers awards dinner on Thursday, Sox president Sam Kennedy cracked a joke about Dombrowski presenting Yankees general manager Brian Cashman with an Apple Watch as a gift.

“I’m sure that when Judge and Stanton come to Fenway Park this year, it’ll be electric,” Werner said.

It’s not exactly an offseason punch-for-punch dynamic with the Sox and Yankees, though, as it was circa 2003-04.

“Not specifically,” Werner said of countering Stanton. “It’s important for us to be competitive with them, but we’re not trying to play chess with them.”

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

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Red Sox notes: Yawkey Way cannot be named for living person

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Yawkey Way will not become David Ortiz Way, for those who may have been holding out hope for the street to be renamed after him, or any other recent star.

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“We’ve talked about several different names,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said on Friday evening at Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “There’s been talk about the possibility of returning to what the original name was, which was Jersey Street. It’s been made clear in our research and due diligence that you can’t currently petition for a living person when there’s other property owners on the street. There’s a provision that allows you to petition for a name of a living person if there aren’t other property abbuters on the street. So living person is out of the question. So we’ve had a few different ideas, but we’re not quite there yet.”

Kennedy said the Sox are in conversations with the city and neighboring property owners on Yawkey Way about renaming the street. 

“We have to have a sponsor of our petition, so we’re engaged in those discussions right now and would anticipate a petition being filed,” Kennedy said. “The mayor has been terrific and his staff understand our desire to formally petition, but we’ve got to get a resolution on a few logistical items — like a name, for one — that we’re going to formally petition for.”

A next step could come within a couple weeks, although Kennedy wasn’t firm about that timeline.

“But I’ve said that before, and it’s just a lot of behind the scenes steps that you have to take getting formal approvals from property owners and elected officials,” Kennedy said. “The club can petition for the name and then ultimately as John Henry said back in August, [it’s] a public process. … it’s our decision to request a name.”

• More netting is coming to Fenway to protect fans from batted balls and such.

“Before 2016, we expanded to the inside wall of the dugouts and we’re going to beyond that in 2018,” Kennedy said. “All the way down to about Field Box 79 down the left field line, and then all the way down to almost canvas alley in the Field Box 9 area. So we’re still finalizing the exact dimensions, but it will be a dramatic expansion of our netting … beyond the dugout down the third base line and the first base line.”

  • Sox chairman Tom Werner supports pace of play initiatives, and said he’s heard from Red Sox players who support it as well — even though the players union decided to shoot down a proposal from the league, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. MLB can unilaterally make changes but ideally, the union and league would come to an agreement together.
     

“As you know the commissioner is having ongoing talks with Tony Clark and the union,” Werner said. “I think it’s pretty clear that there’s too much dead time in the game. And as I’ve said, it’s really not about pace of play but like trying to have less dead time. Last year the average game, the time was higher than it’s ever been in history. And I think we have talked about some common sense ideas. We’re not the only league as you know who is looking at dead time. 

“But just for an example, I think that to have the managers or the catchers go up, or the second baseman just be able to talk to the pitcher whenever they want, we should address that. So we’ve addressed a pitch clock in the minor leagues. I think it’s working. But I’m hopeful certainly that the union and owners will come together on this. Because I think it’s something that the fans are expecting.”

  • Sox ticket sales are not doing quite as well as they were a year ago, Kennedy said. 
     

"We’re very healthy and humbled by the fan support,” Kennedy said. “We sold [out Winter Weekend] faster than ever before, about three weeks. There will be between 6,000 and 7,000 people here, which is really a testament to Red Sox fans. You’ve got an unbelievable sports market as we all know with the Patriots and what they’re doing, the Bruins and Celtics at the top of their games. 

“We’ve got people buying tickets [for games] at a pace consistent with 2015 and 2016. We are slightly down from last year, I think there was a big bump from Chris Sale, understandably, so about 6 percent down from last year, which is understandable given it’s been a very slow moving offseason in terms of baseball news. But we continue to be grateful and humbled by the support we get.”

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