Welcome back to another edition of News and Views, the latest online sensation that has swept the nation and has the entire blogosphere Twittering, or something like that. (Pope Benedict XVI: “I never miss a day without it. But I wish he would write more about soccer.”)
Where was I?
♦ NEWS: John Smoltz’s final scheduled rehab start for Pawtucket was rained out in Syracuse Thursday night and has been rescheduled for tonight. (UPDATE: I copy/pasted a couple of stories from Smoltz’s Friday start down in the comments section.)
♦ WHY SHOULD YOU CARE: Because this could affect whether he faces the Braves next week in Boston.
♦ VIEWS: Pawtucket is a really dumb name for a city. Just saying.
♦ OTHER VIEWS: This is the way the math worked out in a five-man rotation before Thursday’s rainout: Smoltz would be activated by the Red Sox Friday. He’d make his first start for Boston against Florida next Tuesday at Fenway Park. He’d make his second second start against the Braves the following Sunday (June 21). His potential third start also would be against the Braves, June 26 at Turner Field. But now everything’s up in the air. I know some people are sick of hearing about Smoltz (and Tom Glavine). But folks, Smoltz vs. the Braves would be a classic showdown.
Boston manager Terry Francona is not giving any hints as to what might happen. His team is playing great and the pitching has been strong (although there has been speculation that No. 5 starter Brad Penny is on the trade block). “We’ll sit down with [Smoltz] and just make sure we’re all on the same page,” Francona told the Boston Herald. “When you activate somebody, there has to be another [corresponding] move. He understands that. Our next move is to wait for him to get done pitching, sit down with him, see how he comes through his start and then go from there. … We’re not going to [announce] next Wednesday’s or Thursday’s or Friday’s pitcher. We just need to do it in the proper time frame. I don’t blame anybody for asking [how we’re going to handle it]. It’s a really interesting subject.”
♦ WHY SHOULD YOU CARE: Because it has been at least 2 minutes, 14 seconds since anybody on AJC.com has posted something on Vick. (Coming later this evening: If Vick gets rich again, should he buy out Steve Belkin as the next Atlanta Spirit owner? Tell us what you think!!!)
♦ VIEWS: OK, seriously. Sort of. Vick is free to sign with any team. But don’t expect anything to happen right away. Three reasons: 1) He remains under NFL suspension, and there’s no hint from commissioner Roger Goodell as to when that might end; 2) He is still in bankruptcy court. Vick certainly is not going to sign any contract and accept any significant income — $10 a hour for a construction job doesn’t qualify — until the courts approve how to clear his existing debt. His attorneys aren’t that stupid. At least, I don’t think they are. 3) No team is going to sign him until after extensive conversations to gauge his maturity and mental state, to say nothing of his physical condition. All of that will take some time.
But since Vick is free to sign anywhere, here are the three most likely teams that could show interest in him and where he might be a good fit. I’ve given this some deep thought for at least several minutes.
ST. LOUIS RAMS: First of all, this has been a backwards organization for some time, so predicting what the Rams might do is risky. But the team’s new general manager, Billy Devaney, is the former Falcons’ personnel guy. He knows Vick and it’s believed he has kept in contact with him. The Rams are a dome/turf team, where Vick excelled with the Falcons. The big question is whether new head coach Steve Spagnuolo (the former Giants’ defensive coordinator) and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur (who worked with Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia) are on board.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: This organization has taken on other teams’ problems before, notably Randy Moss and Corey Dillon. The closed-door, militaristic atmosphere around the Patriots would be good for Vick, as would coach Bill Belichick, who would find some way to exploit his talents in the offense. Vick obviously wouldn’t be going to New England with the idea of taking over for Tom Brady. But he certainly could be used in goal-line situations and other formations, such as the “Wildcat” offense. Then if Vick excels and returns to the top of his game — and if Brady is still around and healthy and not preoccupied with Gisele Bundchen — he can always move on to another team.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: They’re certainly familiar with Vick in New Orleans from the NFC South. The fanbase down there would go nuts for him if he took off. Like the Rams, the Saints play in a dome. Further, head coach Sean Payton has one of the better offensive minds in the league and would find a way to utilize Vick’s skills. Like the Patriots, the Saints have a strong incumbent in Drew Brees. But it might be best to go to a team where there’s little chance of Vick creating a quarterback controversy (at least for now)
So there you have it. My three picks.
What do you think?