Jeff Covitz’s Road to the NFL

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Ian Bonner

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When you meet a superior person or athlete, their presence is extraordinarily impressionable. When you meet someone who fits both of those titles, you have met Jeff Covitz. He is a man with remarkable character, an infectious zest for life, and an incredibly talented football player. Set to graduate next month, Jeff Covitz made his mark during his time at Bryant University. The 6’1, 245 pound defensive end from Reading, Massachusetts put the finishing touches on a decorated career at Bryant this past fall.

Despite all of his success, Covitz has no intent on slowing down as he continues to work to achieve his lofty NFL aspirations.

“I have a constant belief that what I am doing is never good enough. I want to earn it every single day. Nothing is given.”

Jeff and I recently spent some time reflecting on his outstanding career at Bryant while looking ahead to the next chapter.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has always maintained the notion that reliability is just as important as ability; Covitz exemplified the value in reliability. In a sport where many players spend more time in the training room than the field, Covitz never missed a game in his 46 game career. While on the field, the two-year captain accrued 191 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 66 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. The smart, fundamentally sound, high motor type of player that he was, Covitz feasted on opposing offensive tackles and tight ends. He was named First Team All-NEC three times and earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year his senior season.

Despite all of Covitz’s individual success, the impassioned leader’s proudest moment as a bulldog was “beating Maine on Homecoming my senior year.. That brought me to tears.” During his senior year, there were plenty of moments to be proud of en route to a school best 8-3 season. Victories over Maine and Stony Brook highlighted a strong year for the black and gold. Much of the success can be attributed to strong leadership from the captain Jeff Covitz: “I was honored to have been voted by my peers and that means so much. The responsibility was very important and something I took seriously.”

While Covitz and his teammates enjoyed a successful season in 2014, there was a fair share of tribulations early on in his career: “I hate losing. In 2012, we lost six games in a row to start the year. I did not know what to do with myself. I was at a loss for emotions and feelings.”

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In addition to a disappointing sophomore campaign, Covitz lamented his Senior Day shortcomings: “Losing three Senior Days at home, including my own was unfathomable. How could I let a senior class lose their last home game and final game ever?”

Ultimately, Covitz enjoyed his time at Bryant University and understands what a special four years it was. “There are so many things I will miss. The long road trips where we bonded as a team; spending countless hours traveling together, eating great food, and getting ready to beat someone in their own house are things I will cherish forever.”

As the fall turned to winter, Covitz began to prepare for his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL: “Right after the season I signed with my agent and started training in the beginning of December. I also consulted people who have been through the process before and know what things to do to give myself the best chance possible. I have enjoyed this process so much because this is what I love to do and I have an extreme passion for it. I think about it nonstop every day.”

Covitz’s journey took an unexpected twist when he was told that a switch to fullback or linebacker would be most conducive to landing on an NFL roster. Unsurprisingly, Covitz has kept a positive attitude about the transition: “In addition to long snapping, I did both position drills at my pro days. I love running routes and catching the ball at fullback and moving in space at linebacker. My training and diet routine has helped with my weight and body composition and ability to move in space. I will play any position. I love football.”

Much of Covitz’s success was predicated on hard work. Over the past few months, his workouts have intensified: “I have been working on getting bigger, faster, stronger and quicker and working on the combine specific drills I would perform at my pro days. My training regimen is 6 days per week, 2-3 hours per day after classes. I also watch film and spend time with my coaches to prepare mentally.”

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As for nutrition, don’t expect to see him signing any endorsement deals for fast food restaurants. “I have a strict diet that eliminated a lot of extra saturated fats and focused on having a lot of proteins, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fruits. I hit a lot my physical and body composition goals including losing about 5-8 pounds from my college playing weight and decreasing my overall body fat. Overall, I want to model my training and daily routine in a very precise and exact fashion so I can achieve the best results possible. I want to be a consummate professional in everything I do because this is what I love to do and very focused one.”

The pre-draft experience has been taxing, more so mentally than physically. The unknown is daunting; whether or not a team will sign you, where you will be living, for how long, and other unknowns are the nature of a business cleverly coined the “Not For Long” league. Covitz reiterated the difficult part of this journey: “The process, starting in December, is a very long, complex process that takes a lot of patience and focus. There is no room for error or to relax. It is more or less a waiting game that requires a lot of focus and maturity.”

Covitz was invited to Pro Days at Harvard and Brown back in March. There were roughly eight NFL scouts at each workout. In addition to the pro days, Covitz has met individually with teams. For all you stat heads, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds, did 22 reps on the bench press (225 pounds), and posted a 32-inch vertical leap. He also ran a 7.04 in the 3-cone drill, an 11.9 sixty yard shuttle, and a 4.43 5-10-5. Impressive numbers from the former defensive end.

Earning a spot on an NFL roster is one of the more impressive athletics achievements. Years of hard work, discipline, and development must come to fruition and even then nothing is guaranteed. The reality is, only elite football players earn a roster spot. While Covitz would love to hear his name called during next week’s draft, he will readily accept and embrace any opportunity to prove himself. He plans on watching the NFL draft with his family and girlfriend at home in Reading, Massachusetts. “I would not be the person I am today without the support of my family. Period. There is no place I would rather be than with them.”

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A passionate New England sports fan, Covitz would obviously prefer to practice 25 miles northeast of Bryant. If not, it might surprise people to hear that his next choice would be a relocation to the Bay Area to play for the San Francisco 49ers: “I have always liked the 49ers. I have been always been a huge advocate of Jerry Rice and the legacy of their organization.”

I can say from experience, Jeff Covitz is the kind of person you want in your locker room. There are many different ways to be a leader, but in my own personal opinion, nothing is more powerful than leading by example. In his four years at Bryant University, Jeff Covitz did everything with his ultimate goal of winning football games in mind. Whether he was on the field, in practice, in the film room, or off the field, the goal was clear and the dedication was unwavering.

With the multitude of legal problems and one tumultuous offseason after another, never has character been so paramount to NFL talent evaluators. For a high character, hard-working kid, the future will be bright for Jeff Covitz.

Asked what motivates him to play in the NFL, he said: “The feeling of being mediocre or weak is something that I cannot live with. That feeling drives me to work harder, fight, and claw for perfection. I cannot live with that feeling. I want to earn it every single day.”

We will continue to document Jeff’s journey to the NFL. The NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 30th and concludes on Saturday, May 2nd.

Would You Rather

Posted: April 16, 2015 in Old Sull

WYR

Not sure how many of you had the number 1 for “weeks in a row before Old Sull gets too lazy to do a WYR” but sorry for knocking you out of the pool.

SO, for this week I wanted to discuss your ideal foursome.  No that’s not what I am talking about, get your mind out of the gutter.  I mean if you got to spend the day and night with 3 athletes (either modern or present), who ya got?*

I realize there are thousands and thousands of people to consider, so I have developed a system that I think helps when considering who is going to make up this “Core 4″.  My system is one that relies on choosing three distinct different types of people.

Person 1- The first type of person you want to bring on the trip is someone who you most identify with.  When you watch a sporting event, what person do you most say, “God, I just wanna have a beer with that guy”.  This person tends to be from one of your favorite sports teams and has provided you with a number of memories that you believe has forged an unbreakable bond between the two of you.  I wrestled with this one for a long time. Shaq? Tim Duncan? Troy Brown? Nomar? Bird? Originally I thought for sure that I was going to go with Tedy Bruschi but at the end of the day I had to go with the #1 idiot: Kevin Millar.

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Just seems like a guy I could get buck WASTED with and just have a blast.  He will have a ton of stories (03/04 Sox), jokes, and will be up for whatever (shout out to our sponsor Bud Light).

Person 2- The second type of guy you want in your foursome is the partier.  The guy who will not under any circumstances let the night end calmly.  The athlete who aspires to make every night legen-wait for it-dary.  Who is gonna blast the beats when energy starts to dip? There are a few contenders for this but in my mind there is one that stands alone.  Rob Gronkowski

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I am a Patriots fan so I’m not sure how the rest of the world views Gronk but I don’t think I am being biased with this choice.  I really think he may be the most fun athlete on the planet right now.  Gronk, you’re coming with!

Person 3- For the third and final member of the party, I think you are gonna want some one who has all the stories.  Someone who has seen everything.  Someone who has a sports secret that you always wanted to know, or could just give wisdom and advice.  This pick was by far the hardest.  Do I want to talk with Babe Ruth? Mike Ditka? MJ? Bo Jackson? John Wooden? John Daly?  For me personally, only one person came to mind.  Mr. Pete Rose.

Pete

Not only was Pete a HOF baseball player which I would love to hear about, but he was an addicted gambler.  I don’t wnat to meet him simply to discuss gambling or get advice, that would be dumb.  I want to know the truth about what he bet on and how much?  Did he ever throw a game?  Additionally, I would talk to him about how ludicrous it is that he is banned from baseball and black balled but steroid users are forgiven.  I may never understand that, especially if he truly didn’t gamble on games he was in.

There you have it, me and my clique- Kevin Millar, Gronk, and Pete Rose.  What a squad.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts and opinions.

P.S. I can already picture Gronk listening to Pete with his mouth wide open and tongue out like a dog

*I realize that this is in no way a would you rather but idgaf.  Part of the perks of being the blogger and not the reader.

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

Bruins season was a massive failure. I have seen a lot of talk calling for Chiarelli and Julien’s heads. Let’s first break this down: there are ultimately three elements that comprise a team. Front office roster management, coaching, and the players. The players play, the coaches coach, and the front office guys construct the best possible roster. The 2014-2015 season was a failure on all three fronts. The roster had glaring holes and horrendous cap management, Julien’s voice was not being heard, and the players underperformed. Veterans, rookies, everyone. Failure.

Let’s start with the players. Rask, a guy who earned an 8 year, $56 million contract after one real postseason was pedestrian at times, occasionally excellent, and subpar for stretches. Dougie Hamilton did not make “the leap” we heard about all of last summer. Chara and Seidenberg showed their respective age. Carl Soderberg was placed on the back of milk cartons for much of the season. Reilly Smith joined him. Milan Lucic felt the burden as the only consistent forechecker and showed his offensive ineptitude and lack of touch more times than not. Paille and Campbell scored 12 goals in a combined 141 games. Ultimately, Bergeron, Marchand, Eriksson, Pastrnak and Spooner provided much of the offense but even they were not perfect. Now that we have settled that, let’s keep the accountability train moving.

Claude Julien arrived in Boston as the sixth coach in nine years when he took over in 2007. Julien inherited a mess of a team, helped right the ship and won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and almost won another in 2013. Under Julien, the Bruins had made the playoffs seven consecutive years. He deserves credit for what he has done in Boston.

However, his vehement loyalty to a defense first, dump and chase, heavy style of game hurt the Bruins at times and drove elite talent out of town (among other things). His stubbornness to switch up lines and play young talent have been legitimate points of contention. Ultimately, I believe Julien is far better at his job than Chiarelli. He is by no means perfect and in many instances has been given an incomplete roster to work with but it is time for him to go. Three days ago he alluded to the main problem that is Peter Chiarelli: “I don’t think we have the same team we’ve had in the past. You guys can talk about that; have a look at the roster. It’s not the same. We can’t live in the past. That’s what we’re trying to do here: work with the guys that we have. We’ve got a lot of young players and we’ve got a lot of players that haven’t played for expectations right now.” Julien is an above average coach whose message has gotten stale within the locker room.

Peter Chiarelli is terrible at his job. He drove a Stanley Cup team into the ground. The 2014-2015 Boston Bruins had no business missing the playoffs. A roster with 12 players from the 2011 championship team and 18 from last year’s President’s Trophy winning team failed to make the fucking playoffs. I struggled with the many ways I could emphasize Chiarelli’s disastrous decisions so let’s break down Chiarelli’s failures into three pillars (that seems to be the magic number): the draft, offseason trades, and midseason trades. It should be noted that his reluctance to deal his own players and instead, sign them to above market value deals is equally as detrimental to the team.

NHL Draft:

Since 2007, Chiarelli has made 48 selections in the NHL Draft. Of those 48, three were on the 2014-2015 roster: Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, and David Pastrnak (Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas; don’t worry, we will get to that.) Flash back to last year, a season with lofty expectations and Dougie Hamilton was the lone draft choice.

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In SEVEN years, this is all that Chiarelli has to show for the draft. Pastrnak and Spooner didn’t play until this year. It is pretty challenging to sustain success when you can’t backfill with ANY young talent. No wonder they were tight against the cap. This is atrociously bad output from the draft. Cam Neely deserves blame as well; he is cast in a much more positive light around these parts but he co-signs on everything. Poor talent evaluation across the board.

Offseason trades:

If you are skimming, here is what you need to know: Chiarelli in essence traded Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin for Dougie Hamilton, Loui Erikson and Reilly Smith. Laugh out loud funny. Here is a look back at his most significant four offseason trades:

1.) September, 2009: Phil Kessel to Toronto for two 1st round picks (Tyler Seguin & Dougie Hamilton) and a 2nd round pick (Jared Knight). Advantage: Toronto

2.) June 2010: Dennis Wideman, a 1st round pick, and a 3rd round pick to Florida for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. Advantage: Boston

3.) July 2013: Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button to Dallas for Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser. Advantage: Dallas.

4.) October 2014: Johnny Boychuck to New York Islanders for two 2nd round picks and a conditional third. Advantage: New York.

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If you are not going to build through the draft, and continually lose your offseason trades, you had better be making some moves during the season…

Mid-season trades:

Chiarelli has been glaringly poor with his mid-season deals especially over the past four years. In many instances, the Bruins were a piece or two away from making a serious push (2012, 2014) and Chiarelli came up empty handed. Many teams use the trade deadline to fill that final void en route to a deep playoff run (see Marian Gaborik). Not Peter. Not even close.

2012: Acquired Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau, and Greg Zanon.

2013: Acquired Jaromir Jagr (0 goals in 22 postseason games) and Wade Redden

2014: Acquired Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter

2015: Acquired Brett Connolly and Max Talbot

Gulp.

Let’s conclude at the risk of redundancy. Chiarelli has done a poor job drafting, lost the off-season trades, and acquired C and low B players at the deadline. So how have the Bruins been in the playoffs each year? Bergeron, Chara, and Rask were or are top 5 at their position. Chiarelli got fucking complacent with a solid core and rested on his laurels. He overpaid for his guys because 2011 validated his “eye for talent” and ability to put together a roster. Not once did he consider that Tim Thomas played unbelievably, the Bruins caught some puck luck, and won DESPITE Peter Chiarelli. Rather than build upon his strong nucleus, he depended on them to mask a bevy of horrendous roster decisions, lack of young talent, and awful trades. It is disgusting that he even has a job right now. A team with Rask, Bergeron, Chara, Lucic, Marchand, Eriksson, and Seidenberg should never miss the playoffs. Ever. Chiarelli sat there like a clown each offseason counting the money from playoff ticket revenue when he should have been musing another missed opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins marketing department will tell you that they are big and bad, not to poke the bear, and that this is a tough, physical team that humiliates its opponents.

Mark Recchi, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, Andrew Ference

Bullshit. Maybe in 2011. Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuck, Shawn Thornton and Mark Recchi aren’t walking through that fucking door. Long gone are the days when Boston wore its opponent down by the third period. This was a soft, listless, uninspired group of underachievers and it starts at the top. Peter Chiarelli didn’t give his team a chance to win because he didn’t think he had to. The Bruins had been to the playoffs seven years in a row and sold a bunch of playoff tickets and merchandise. Ho hum. Accountability in sports is paramount. It is time that Peter Chiarelli is held accountable for the mess he created. Heads need to roll, and with any luck they will.

NHL Trash Talk Mic’D Up

Posted: April 10, 2015 in Ian Bonner

Bit of an impromptu blog here but after watching this video I felt like I owed it to the loyal readers. This will not be a well thought out, long, grammatically correct blog. Fortunately, I don’t think that will upset anyone.

My overall thoughts from this video are as follows:

1.) The relationship between NHL players and the refs is hysterical. They take a back seat while two guys are brawling and slamming each others heads with closed fists. Additionally, the players are constantly bitching and yelling at the refs but the refs give it right back. It’s so hockey of them.

2.) Shawn Thornton is an awesome trash talker.

3.) These clips are largely regular season games. There is already an enormous amount of shit talking and scuffles. That is why playoff hockey is amazing.

4.) Crosby is a bitch.

5.) The dynamic between two players fighting is interesting. Sometimes they are standing up for a teammate or reacting to a slash or late hit in which case the fights can be intense. Other times, it’s just two fourth line grinders who understand their role and drop the gloves. Very impersonal in this instance.

6.) Some highlights:

0:20: Claude Giroux asking Phil Kessel if he drank a coke today. Kessel is notoriously known for two things: a talented goal scorer and a fat face.

1:45: PK Subban hitting Patrice Bergeron in the head and saying that he thought it was “Marchy”. The Nose Faced Killah has a horrendous reputation around the league and it is hilarious that Subban used that line.

2:30: I love how pissed the Flyers get when Michael Rupp scored and did the Jagr salute. Really cool that guys respect that kind of stuff. Jagr is a stud, has been in the league forever, and deserves to be treated as such.

3:30: The ref just saying “Fuck both of you guys” and sending them both to the box. It’s like a parent getting pissed at having to deal with their kids bickering and just sending them both to their room.

5:38: Maybe it’s because I have a man crush on Drew Doughty, the best defenseman in the league but I think he is such a stud and I love how he gets right down to business. It’s not playful banter either. I genuinely felt like he was going to fuck him up.

6:45: The most classic Shawn Thornton quote: “You can pick the hand I beat the fuck out of you with”.

 

 

Would You Rather

Posted: April 9, 2015 in Old Sull

WYRCalm down, calm down, Old Sull is back.   I know that I haven’t been blogging frequently enough for our fan base and I have heard your complaints through thousands of emails/texts/phone calls.  Trust me, I take all your complaints very seriously, so I think its time I put all the cards on the table.  Although I cannot fully disclose my identity for fear of paparazzi and fanfare what I can tell you is I am a senior in college which means my days of partying are numbered.  I hope you can understand that given the circumstances my blogging may decrease while I enjoy my last few days of freedom, but only for a short amount of time.  In this difficult time period, I do not want to simply abandon you, like a member of the staff who shall remain nameless (Uncle Chuck).  So to combat this lack of free time I will be publishing quick “Would You Rather” articles to incite drunken debates between buddies.  I will try to write hard hitting articles also, but no guarantees.

So for my first WYR, I want to know if you had to choose between keeping your favorite memory as a sports fan, or your favorite memory as an athlete, which one would you choose?  When this question was first proposed to me, I felt as though I was in a rush to choose one.  Like there had to be a loophole or a way to examine the question in which all arrows would point to an obvious answer.  But truth be told, I really can’t decide.  I didn’t win any state championships in high school and my greatest accomplishment is probably my 8th grade lacrosse championship.  Granted, if you have a state championship, or collegiate for that matter, the choice may be more obvious for you.   With all that said, I would either have to select my best athletic memory as my performance in football my senior year against Minnechaug, or my game winning lacrosse goal against Amherst.  But those are just high school memories and I have other good ones to fall back on.  Would I really give that up for the Sox comeback in 04?  For Malcolm Butlers interception solidifying Tom Brady as the G.O.A.T?  Keep in mind the elimination of the memory means it never even occurred. I think all things considered I would have to choose keeping my favorite memory as a fan.  Although I am proud of what I accomplished, they seemed much bigger in the moment than they are today.  I could live without that goal now that enough time has passed.  The Sox in 04 was bigger than me and created a legacy that will last much longer than I will.  It captivated an 11 year old Old Sull, and I think I simply value that more.  But that’s just my opinion.

So let me know your thoughts and any recommendations you have for future WYR.

***Full disclosure I wanted to post pictures side by side of me playing lacrosse and Malcolm Butlers int but when you type my first name+local newspaper+lacrosse into google the first result was my brother s yeah I feel like shit.

P.S.  I know I have a tendency to pronounce things the best/worst thing ever, but I truly think that the Malcolm Butler pick was the greatest moment of my life.  So that is why I use it so frequently as the benchmark for memorable sports moments.

Ramirez-Sandoval

Today marks the beginning of a 162 game marathon formally known as the 2015 MLB regular season. Baseball is that desperate girlfriend in an abusive relationship with the casual viewers. There are purists, diehards, and weirdos who adore baseball, sign up for multiple fantasy leagues, can compute the OPS+ statistic, and likely update their match.com profile on a regular basis. However, for the rest of us, baseball serves as the desperate girlfriend. There when you want her, there when you don’t want her. Opening Day? Want her. Random Tuesday night when you’re watching playoff hockey? There during commercials. Lame Friday night? Want her. July 4th BBQ? She is there in the background when you go to the fridge to restock the cooler. NFL season begins? Not so much. Playoffs? Want her. Over the course of the seven month season, the casual viewers relationship with baseball has its peaks and valleys. However, at no point is it acceptable to be ignorant to the team’s players. Even pink hats. So I have compiled a list and brief (ish) background on each of the new faces on the Red Sox official Opening Day Roster.

Keep two things in mind. While the Red Sox, despite 3 World Series titles since 2004, are constantly in the shadows of the New England Patriots, they are the anti-Patriots when it comes to contracts. Big money gets thrown around. They get the horses not the ponies. Or at least spend horse money on ponies. Secondly, this year in particular, the Red Sox were more prudent with the length of their deals. Outside of Ramirez and Sandoval, many of their signees were brought in on short deals. The base salary is high for guys like Porcello and Masterson but if they underperform, they will be off the books quickly  (on Monday night, Porcello signed a 4 year deal worth $82.5 million thru 2019.) So much for that.

Without further ado, the new faces of the 2015 Boston Red Sox:

Infield/Outfield

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Hanley Ramirez: 4 years/$88 million

In the winter of 2005, Hanley Ramirez was dealt to the Florida Marlins with three prospects for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota. In retrospect, despite Ramirez’s successful years in Florida and Los Angeles, the trade has to be considered a win for Boston who won a World Series in 2007 thanks large in part to Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.

Quick sidebar: in 2007, Mike Lowell hit .324 with 21 HRs, 120 RBIs, and 37 doubles including 15 RBIs in 13 postseason games. Additionally, Josh Beckett was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 200 innings. More impressive was his postseason performance: 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA. Case closed.

As for the now 31 year old Ramirez, the Red Sox signed him this offseason to a four year deal worth $88 million thru 2019. Ramirez spent seven seasons with Florida and the past three with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At his best, he hits for average, moderate power, and steals bases. If Boston gets this player, he will serve as a catalyst for a potentially potent offense. However, if recent history holds true, Ramirez will spend more time on the disabled list than atop the league leaders in any offensive category.  Over the past six seasons, Ramirez has played more than 100 games just twice. Gulp.

Defensively, Ramirez will have to prove himself as a dependable left fielder. He has played shortstop for his entire career but if Manny was able to learn the intricacies of the Green Monster, one would certainly hope the newest Ramirez would as well. Ultimately I am not thrilled about the Ramirez signing but since I am not cutting the paychecks; it’s an upgrade over a Daniel Nava/Johnny Gomes platoon so I suppose I can feign excitement.

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Pablo Sandoval: 5 years/$95 million

Similar to the Ramirez signing, Pablo Sandoval’s 5 year, $95 million contract comes with a host of questions. Can he stay in shape? Are his postseason accolades overshadowing a fairly pedestrian regular season performance? Why didn’t the Giants try very hard to bring him back? Can he stay in shape? Oh, I said that one already. Fresh off a World Series title (three in seven years with the San Francisco Giants), Sandoval will play the hot corner for Boston and his “big left handed bat” will be slotted into the middle of the order.  Don’t get me wrong, Sandoval is an enormous upgrade over the Will Middlebrooks/Ryan Roberts platoon. But, Pablo Sandoval hit 16 home runs last year. I know we are in the post-steroids era but Sandoval hit as many home runs as Melky Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jayson Werth.

Okay, so for some positivity. The two time all-star has a history of good health so assuming similar luck, anticipate a .285/20/90/.330 line for Sandoval. Additionally, hitting in a lineup with Pedroia, Ramirez, Ortiz, and Napoli will certainly help his run production. Moreover, he has proven himself as a superb postseason contributor with a lifetime .344 average which is even more impressive when considering his 167 plate appearances and the magnitude of the games. I like Sandoval and think he is a good player but like with Ramirez, the money changes my perspective on him. To whom much is given, much is expected and I am not so sure we will get $95 million worth out of the Panda (except for Panda merchandise).

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Ryan Hanigan: 2 years/$7 million left on his contract with SD

Hanigan was brought in to serve the token role of backup catcher with limited power but strong defensively. The Red Sox received Hanigan in exchange for 3B Will Middlebrooks. This was formerly owned by David Ross who departed for the Chicago Cubs with his buddy Jon Lester. Hanigan is 34 years old and has played seven years with the Cincinnati Reds in a part time role before signing with Tampa Bay and ending the season with San Diego. With the news that Christian Vazquez will require Tommy John surgery, expect Hanigan to compete for more a starting job with the newly signed Sandy Leon and eventually AAA prospect Blake Swihart. 2015 is very much a transition year as Christian Vazquez (out for the season) and Blake Swihart (not quite ready) are highly regarded catching prospects. Last season, Hanigan hit .218 with 5 home runs and 34 RBI in 263 plate appearances.

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Sandy Leon: 1 year/$1.02 million

In lieu of the worst case scenario news from Christina Vazquez, the Red Sox signed catcher Sandy Leon, a former member of the Washington Nationals. In three seasons, he has only 107 plate appearances and has hit .189. The 26 year old was brought on as depth while the Red Sox find out what they have in Hanigan. He will almost certainly be on the Opening Day Roster by default because Vazquez is out for the season and the organization has reservations about rushing Swihart to the big leagues (see Jackie Bradley Jr.)

Starting Pitchers

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Rick Porcello: 1 year/$12.5 million

The Red Sox were busy this offseason and at the top of their priority list was dealing the disgruntled Yoenis Cespedes and improving their starting rotation. They killed the proverbial two birds with one stone when they struck a deal with Detroit to send OF Yoenis Cespedes in exchange for RHP Rick Porcello.

The 6’5, 200 pound 26 year old was overshadowed by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer but has some upside. In six years with the Tigers, he recorded double digit wins in each season. Unfortunately, his ERA has been mediocre and if it weren’t for strong run support, his numbers would likely be uglier. With that said, Porcello has been highly touted by those who closely follow the team as a pitcher with three ”out” pitches. He will likely be the #2 starter behind Clay Bucholz. With the offensive talent on this Boston roster, don’t be surprised if Porcello earns 13-16 wins despite a 3.80 ERA.

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Justin Masterson: 1 year/$9.5 million

Masterson is another familiar face who spent some time down on the farm before a couple of seasons on Yawkey Way. He earned some time as both a starter and reliever in 2008 and the first half of 2009 before he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians. On the trade deadline, Masterson headlined a trio of prospects sent in exchange for catcher Victor Martinez. Just when it appeared Masterson was starting to piece his potential together in 2012 and 2013, he struggled mightily last year prompting Cleveland to trade him to Saint Louis. Like much of the 2015 Red Sox pitching staff, the thirty year old Masterson has flashed potential but has never put it all together. He will be given ample opportunity this season but expect something along the lines of his 2013 (14-10, 3.45 ERA) campaign.

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Wade Miley: 3 year/$19.5 million

Wade Miley is the third member of Boston’s projected five man rotation who was not with the team last season. The 28 year old joins Boston after four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Typically, mediocre pitchers in the National League fare even worse when they move to the American League void of pitchers in the number 9 spot. Last season, Miley was 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA in 201.1 innings. Not exactly awe-inspiring production from the southpaw. Porcello, Masterson, and Miley will have opportunities to revive their careers but a feel good revival is far from a certainty. All three are young enough to avoid being written off but old enough to feel the pressure of an underwhelming start to their careers.

Bullpen

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Anthony Varvaro: 1 year/$577,000

Varvaro was signed after four seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He will add some veteran experience to the Red Sox bullpen. The right handed pitcher will join Edward Mujica, Alexi Ogando, Junichi Tazawa, and Kohi Uehara as the right handed arms in the pen. However, Varvaro will serve a valuable role on this staff because he is one of the few multi inning relievers. With the starting rotation filled with more question marks than a text from an over aggressive girlfriend, Varvaro may play a vital role. The five year veteran posted strong numbers last year: in 54.2 innings, he had a 2.63 ERA, allowed 46 hits, 13 walks, and 50 strikeouts. He has improved with additional workload over the past two seasons.

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Alexi Ogando: 1 year/$1.5 million

Ogando joins the Red Sox after five seasons with the Texas Rangers. The 31 year old RHP has experience as a starter and with bullpen duties. His versatility makes him an attractive choice for Boston. In 2014, he pitched out of the bullpen but was sidelined with injuries for much of the year and failed to regain his form. Prior to his injury laden 2014 campaign, he was very effective for Texas. In 104 IP in 2013, he allowed 87 hits with a 3.11 ERA. Ogando will need to improve his control in order to earn valuable playing time.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics

Robbie Ross: 1 year/$576,000

The 25 year old lefty will likely spend more time in Pawtucket than Boston this season. However, with Koji Uehara not quite ready to play, Ross will begin the season with the big league club. Over the past three seasons with the Texas Rangers, 2014 was the first year in which he gained starting pitching experience. He started 12 games, pitched 78.1 innings and finished with a 3-6 record and 6.20 ERA. He has pitched well this spring and won the admiration of John Farrell. He is also the only lefty in the bullpen besides Craig Breslow so he has some added value.

Brewers Reds Baseball

April is a terrific month for a myriad of reasons; the weather gets nicer, Easter, daylight savings time starts to kick into full gear, kids K-12 enjoy an April vacation, and of course, there is great sporting entertainment. Like a buffet at a ritzy country club or a quality porn site, April has something for everyone. From college basketball to golf to baseball and the NFL Draft, April is as diverse as it gets. As the weather gets warmer, you will find yourself tempted to spend more time indoors watching a host of sporting events and tournaments. See below for your unofficial April calendar.

April 4th: NCAA Men’s Final Four

The brackets are busted by this point which means your online betting accounts have stolen your focus. At 6:09 PM on Saturday, Tom Izzo and Coach K will battle it out (stop me if you’ve heard this before) for a trip to the championship. At 8:49 PM, the 38-0 Kentucky Wildcats will attempt to move one win closer to an undefeated season and an imminent 30 for 30. Just kidding. Championships are not necessary for 30 for 30’s. Ask the 1991 Michigan Wolverines also known as the “Best Recruiting Class Ever”.  Regardless, Wisconsin vs. Kentucky, a rematch from last year’s Final Four thriller is likely to be one for the ages.

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April 5th: Opening Day

Just a day later, the MLB begins their season (I know what you’re thinking, didn’t the season just end?) with a Midwest matchup between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Chicago can’t catch a break. Opening Day in the Windy City in early April? This is why flat screen televisions and La-Z Boys were invented.

April 6th: Opening Day (for the rest of the league)

This is the beginning of the MLB Marathon for the other 28 teams. Fresh starts, new faces, and insanely high ERA’s for starting pitchers who hit the showers early. Two games of notoriety around these parts: Blue Jays vs. Yankees at 1:05 and the Red Sox vs. Phillies at 3:05. For Yankees fans, this will be the first year since 1995 devoid of Derek Jeter on Opening Day.

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April 6th: NCAA Men’s Championship

Nothing like the unofficial MLB Opening Day and the Men’s NCAAB Championship to cure a case of the Mondays. The winner of Michigan State/Duke and Wisconsin/Kentucky will square off in Indianapolis for the title. A look at the past five winners for this weekend’s alcohol fueled argument:

2014: Uconn over Kentucky

2013: Louisville over Michigan

2012: Kentucky over Kansas

2011: Uconn over Butler

2010: Duke over Butler

Moral of the story? Sucks to be Butler.

April 9th-12th: Masters Tournament

A tradition unlike any other. Green jacket? Gold jacket? If Tiger Woods isn’t playing competitive, who gives a shit? Well, for the small percentage of real golf fans, the new wave of talent such as Jordan Spieth, Rory McElroy, Matt Kuchar, and others are plenty of reason to tune in for a slow-paced, relaxing four days of golf. If that is not enough, Jim Nantz’s soothing whisper should be.

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April 15th: NHL Playoffs begin

Not much to say about the NHL Playoffs that these videos can’t. Beards, hard hits, and white-knuckle nights

April 18th: NBA Playoffs begin

Time to care about the NBA. Gone are the lackluster performances and NBA-All-Star-game-level defense. Historically, the NBA kills it with their marketing around this time so be on the lookout.

April 20th: Boston Marathon

A historic event has taken on a new light since the horrific bombing that took place in April of 2013 figures to be extra emotionally charged given the dovetail of the Tsarnaev trial with the annual event. On a lighter note, this day serves as a reason for college kids in the city to get piss drunk and a reminder that running sucks.

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April 30th: NFL Draft: First Round

The draft is like The Interview. Entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously, hysterical if you throw all sense of reality out the window. Mel Kiper Jr. putting LA Looks on backorder until August. Roger Goodell getting booed over and over. Enormous 22 year olds wearing outrageous suits. And perhaps the funniest part is all of the experts pretending like they know what they are talking about (cue the Tom Brady example.) With that said I will be reading approximately 30 mock drafts and parking myself in front of the couch on April 30th.

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BONUS:

Okay, not really. Both of these events are in May but only 48 hours after the great month of April concludes:

May 2nd: The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the ideal day for couples. Women get to dress fancy and take tons of pictures in large hats and dresses. Men get to bet on horses, get drunk, and quote that line in Wedding Crashers about the lady in the proper hat. All is right in the world.

 

May 2nd: Floyd Mayweather & Manny Pacquiao Fight

Long after the Kentucky Derby party is over and the afternoon heroes become night time zeroes, the real battle begins. This highly anticipated fight will feature a few things: tons of money on the line, a ridiculously high pay-per-view fee, and an admittedly boring fight (based on their fighting “styles” which I know nothing about.)

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So there you have it. Something for everyone. April yet again proving to be a phenomenal month of sports despite being devoid of the most popular sport in the America: Football. Hats off to them. They throw an amazing party without the hot group of girls. To that point, I have always maintained that June is Friday, July is Saturday, and August is Sunday. Well, sometimes Thirsty Thursday trumps them all.