Haskell's Hot Stove

In professional sports, change is inevitable

By Mark Haskell | Nov 01, 2012
Mark Haskell

With the high school fall sports seasons winding to a close with only two Midcoast teams (Belfast football and Camden Hills boys soccer) still in contention for state championships as of Thursday afternoon, Nov. 1, my brain has finally freed itself to really think about professional sports, which I haven't had much time for lately.

• It was nice to see the Boston Celtics back on the court in Tuesday night's season opener, even if we had to watch the Miami Heat receive their championship rings in the process.

I love the makeup of this year's Celtic team. They replaced Ray Allen with Jason Terry, while the additions of Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee, along with Jeff Green and rookie Jared Sullinger, will make this team fun to watch.

And before we know it, there likely will be a Fab Melo sighting by season's end, the Celtics' other first-round draft pick out of Syracuse. It looks like the 7-foot Melo will start his NBA career with the Maine Red Claws, which tips off in a few weeks.

And for the record, I could care less that Kevin Garnett snubbed Allen in Tuesday's game. In fact, I'm delighted.

Garnett represents all that is right with the old-school National Basketball Association fans, the most important thing being fraternizing with members of the opposing teams.

For me, the golden age of the NBA was the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the rivalries were fierce, tempers often flared and players on opposing players were not going out to dinner or yukking it up after game.

You never saw Larry Bird and Kevin McHale exchange pleasantries with Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas or Ervin "Magic" Johnson and James Worthy, just like no one should care if Garnett gave Allen "the cold shoulder" before the game.

You're with us, or you're against us. You're helping us win a title, or you're hindering us. And if it’s the latter, look out. That's the way it should be.

• The Boston Red Sox finally got their man in John Farrell, replacing Bobby Valentine, who was, to put it nicely, an absolute disaster in his one season as manager.

My feelings for Farrell are lukewarm, since he was, by far, the most vanilla of all the candidates as he's been on Boston's radar since Terry Francona was forced out of town one year ago. But it’s a step in the right direction.

The choice was made by general manager Ben Cherington, which is probably the first decision he's been allowed to make without being undermined by Larry Lucchino, since he took the job. So we're that much closer to reestablishing what a management hierarchy is supposed to look like.

Baby steps guys.

The Red Sox lost Mike Aviles in the trade that brought Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays to Boston, but Aviles, as talented a hitter as he proved to be, was not the long-term solution at shortstop with limited defensive range.

I like that it appears that Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias are going to battle it out in camp for the right to be the team's No. 9 hitter next season. Not every player on the team has to bat .300 if they can be patient at the plate. And having speed players like that and players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and David Ortiz ready to knock them in, I'll gladly take that.

• While I love the Celtics and Red Sox, my National Football League allegiance lies with the Philadelphia Eagles, which brings me to my biggest rant of all.

I've been in Andy Reid's corner for years. Despite his many shortcomings as a coach, his multiple National Football Conference championship game appearances and his one Super Bowl loss, Reid looks lately like a coach who has simply lost his way, and perhaps, the locker room.

With an ultimatum like he received from owner Jeffrey Lurie, essentially saying an 8-8 season will not be good enough to save his job, Reid is coaching like a man that knows the hammer is coming and his head is the nail.

His most recent statement that Mike Vick will remain the team's starting quarterback for me was the last straw.

When Kevin Kolb was named the starter in 2010, was concussed midway through the first game of the year and gave way to Vick, who subsequently wowed us all, Reid initially handed the reins back to Kolb before calling an audible and giving the job to Vick, who led the Eagles to the playoffs.

Now, Reid, the longest tenured coach in the NFL, is staying with Vick, who has turned the ball over himself 13 times in seven games, in hopes that he will save the season and, in turn, his job.

Reid already started to throw luggage overboard by firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo two weeks ago, so why wouldn't he continue to do so with Vick and give rookie Nick Foles a chance at the job?

Some say it's because Reid is loyal. I say its because he knows both he and Vick are in this together. If Vick succeeds, Reid succeeds. If Vick fails, Reid fails.

Reid's about to risk his job on a real long shot, namely that Vick will the Eagles to, at the least, the NFC championship game. Reid is playing conservative when he should be on the attack.

Philadelphia's record is 3-4, and the Eagles have won those three games by a combined four points. They are a few plays here and there away from being the only winless team in the NFL.

Sometimes, such was the case with Francona in Boston, it's just time for a change. And for both Reid and Vick, that time should be now.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.