In this space sits the debut of a new feature we’ve cooked up just for you. Once a week, we will dole out The Knuckles, theoretical bronze, silver and gold medals given to the previ0us week’s biggest, most blithering, well… knuckleheads. The Knuckles aren’t limited to just human beings either. Inanimate objects and abstract concepts are very much in play, as you will see below. And while we will try to skew local when handing out The Knuckles, if someone or something on the national scene proves worthy of these prestigious honors, a Knuckle will be bestowed, geography be damned. Also, if you have a potential nominee in mind, please feel free to shoot over an email. Just click on the mail icon right there on the left hand side next to that funny looking photo of me.
So with that, here’s the inaugural edition of The Knuckles. Prepare to shake your heads disapprovingly.
Patriots Hall of Fame Voting Rules – Ty Law was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame yesterday and there is nothing even remotely wrong with that. Law is an all-time Pats great, arguably the best corner to ever play for them, at the very least in the Top 3 along with Mike Haynes and either Raymond Clayborn or Asante Samuel. What is wrong is that Bill Parcells was shut out of the Pats personal Hall at the same time. And that is beyond absurd.
Blame the voting criteria for the Parcells snub. Fans are only allowed to vote for one nominee from a list of three every season, which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Again, it’s not as though Law is any less deserving than Parcells. He’s an excellent choice. But as Boston.com’s Eric Wilbur laid out yesterday, none of what the Pats are now or have been since that otherworldly night in New Orleans in early February of 2002 would have been possible without the Tuna. Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in Patriots history. But there’s an argument to be made that Parcells is the most important. The Pats were the absolute laughingstock of the league when he arrived in 1993. Roughly four years later, they were in the Super Bowl with a defense that included Law, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Lawyer Milloy. Belichick took the Pats to the greatest of heights. Parcells got the ball rolling.
So how about a voting rule change? Why only have three nominees per year? If there are more than three notable candidates in a given voting cycle, include them all. If there are less, just put that number on the ballot. And why limit the number of nominees to be enshrined to just one? Raise the limit to as many as three. Do something. Because denying someone like Parcells (who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, by the way) a spot makes zero sense.
TD Garden – Now that some of the venom, anguish and other various emotion-y responses to the Bruins’ inglorious dismissal from the playoffs at the hands of the hated Montreal Canadiens have subsided, let’s give a Knucklehead Award not to any particular players or coaches but to the TD Garden, the Bs home ice. Last week’s Game 7 loss marked the fifth time in the last six years (with 2011 of course not included) that the Bruins have been eliminated from the postseason at home.
In 2009, they lost a Game 7 at the Garden to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Semis. 2010 was the year of the great collapse, the postseason in which they dropped four straight to the Philadelphia Flyers after taking a 3-0 lead again in the conference semis, with the final nail being drilled into their coffin in Game 7 at the Garden. In 2012, the then defending champs, dropped Game 7 in overtime to the Washington Capitals in the first round, again at the Garden. And last year, despite not having home ice in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, they still couldn’t protect their house, dropping Game 6 in Boston despite leading with under 2:00 to play.
And then there was last week’s Game 7 loss, rendering the President’t Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the postseason that the Bs worked so hard for all year completely meaningless. Look, the new Garden isn’t the old Garden, but it’s a perfectly satisfactory arena in which to enjoy a game. There’s nothing wrong with it aesthetically. It’s just that the Bs seem allergic to winning their biggest, most important games there. Maybe next time they earn home ice advantage, they could just decline it.
A.J. Pierzynzki and Mike Carp – Low hanging fruit just calling the Sox a bunch of Knuckleheads simply because they’ve been unable to catapult themselves out of this morass of mediocrity yet this season. So instead, let’s focus on a column by the Globe’s Nick Cafardo from the weekend in which he points out that, in addition to losing five out of six and playing their worst baseball at the friendly confines of Fenway Park (their home record is a mind-boggling 10-14) in eons, now some players have begun to bitch about playing time. Man, was that a depressing factoid to see.
Cafardo points out that catcher A.J. Pierzynski, whose reputation as a league-wide jerk preceded his arrival in Boston by a wide margin, “was upset that he didn’t start Friday night because he’s 11 for 33 against (Detroit Tigers starter) Max Scherzer.” Hey A.J., no one cares about your stats.
Then, Cafardo goes on to note that none other than Mike Carp, the last guy on the roster, the same player who has never appeared in more that 86 games or accumulated more than 290 at-bats in any of his first five seasons and who thrived as a lefthanded bat off the bench for a championship winning team last year, “has been upset about playing time , but on Saturday, bench coach Torey Lovullo had to put out a fire with Carp when the lefthanded hitter was inserted in the lineup without much notice.”
Let me get this straight. Carp is pissed off that he doesn’t play much even though he represents the dictionary definition of a part-time, bench player, but then is also pissed off when he indeed is in the lineup because he found out on short notice? It’s difficult to quantify how truly ridiculous this is. Carp is lucky he’s even still on the team. The only reason he’s not in the minors or anywhere else is because Daniel Nava started the season so cold and also isn’t as fluid a backup first baseman. Seriously, when a guy like Mike Carp is whining, something is really rotten.
It’s easy to blame the losing on any and all discontent. Guys that don’t play much, like Carp, are far less likely to complain about when the team is winning and contending, like last year, than when the team is losing and looks powerless to do anything about it, like this year. But still, part of what made last year’s Sox so endearing was the atmosphere around the team, how there were no egos, no complaints and no division. Bringing a noted bad seed like Pierzynski was bound to cause some kind of ripple sooner or later. But Carp? The 25th man on the 25-man roster? There is no explanation and no answer beyond simply telling him to shut up.