Mazz: Stuffing the stocking with thoughts on Brady, Boston, the Bruins and Betts (and more)

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

I like Christmas, and by that I mean the day itself. Christmas Day. I even like Christmas Eve. But let’s be honest: the week leading up to it might be the worst week of the year.

With that in mind, a whole lot of stuff has been swirling through my head over the last week – some of it good, some of it bad – and I’m not sure any of it is connected.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t remember the Patriots playing a regular season of this magnitude, this late, against a division opponent, in a long, long time. If the Pats lose tomorrow, we’ll view the loss as a sign that the Tom Brady era is coming to a close. But if they win – and if N’keal Harry and the offense continue to improve, against a legitimate Buffalo Bills defense – we’ll wonder if Brady and the Pats have yet another Super Bowl run left in those hip pads.

And that is quite a dramatic contrast.

Jun 12, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) battles for the puck with St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (4) during the third period in game seven of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In this way – and in this way only – the Bruins of today are exactly like the Cam Neely and Don Sweeney Bruins of the 1980s and `90s: they’re a goal scorer short. If the Bruins can get themselves a legitimate, top-6 forward to play on the second line, they’re in business. If they can’t, well, we all saw what happened last year when David Pastrnak and the first line dried up.

That said, these Bruins are faster and more skilled than their Neely-Sweeney predecessors.

But those Bruins were bigger. And tougher.

Is there any chance Gordon Hayward is just one of those guys who is always hurt here? I mean, really. Maybe Jae Crowder put a curse on him or something.

A major Red Sox move is coming, as we all know, and Christmas used to be a deadline of sorts in the world of Major League Baseball. I’m not sure that is true anymore. But after adding Martin Perez, the Red Sox have a payroll of roughly $225 million and have to be under $208 million when the season starts and when the season ends.

Which brings me to this:

Sep 23, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (50) on deck to bat during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’d rather move David Price than Mookie Betts, too. But ask yourself this question: let’s say Betts actually wants to re-sign here, but that it’s going to take something close to a Mike Trout contract – call it a minimum of 10 years and $350 million. Are you doing that? Because I’m not.

And if that’s true, don’t you almost have to trade him?

Want to know how you’re wasting energy? When you wonder if the Red Sox if would have better off signing Brett Anderson for $5 million (like Milwaukee) instead of Perez for $6.5 million. Anderson is a better pitcher. Perez feels more durable.

And that second thing feels more important given the tenuous state of the Red Sox starting rotation.

Sep 8, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) reacts after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Not sure why this crossed my mind the other day, but on the list of Patriots you’d hold up as a model for your kids, Devin McCourty is my choice. This got me thinking. McCourty, Patrice Bergeron, Al Horford and Xander Bogaerts would be my Mount Rushmore for the most dignified, professional and likable Boston athletes of this decade.

Oh, and let’s be honest: the Patriots offense doesn’t deserve to be represented in the Pro Bowl.

Note to the national media: Brady isn’t declining as much as you think he is. The numbers belong to him, but the performance belongs to the entire group. The offensive line has been unstable. The pass catchers have often looked clueless. The running game stinks. Not sure many quarterbacks can win with that hand.

I’m not telling you it means anything at the moment, but it bugs me that the Bruins have blown some late leads. Of course, they’ve erased some late deficits, too.

And if that gets me more 3-on-3 overtime, I suppose I’ll take it.

Man, that is fun to watch.

The Brooklyn Nets are 4-7 with Kyrie Irving in the lineup, 11-6 without him. Where have I seen that before?

Happy Holidays, Boston. I don't know about you, but I keep wondering if the next year in Boston sports can possibly be as good as the last 19 in what has been the greatest run American sports history.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.