Heart and Soul
Theo Epstein said today that "In the end, after a long period of reflection about myself and the program, I decided I could no longer put my whole heart and soul into it."Welcome to Major League Baseball, Theo. Tons of people don't put their heart and soul into the game. It's what you're supposed to do. Guys like Milton Bradley, Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, and the entire front office of the Royals have been dogging it and collecting paychecks for years without giving a crap. Remember, caring about the game is for losers. Losers like us.
Dirtdogs? Nah. More Like Boston Dirtbags.
You know, all the Red Sox fans are always getting on our case, talking about how George Steinbrenner is a P.O.S., how we have an "Evil Empire", and how we aren't so much a team, but a group of overpaid individuals. Well, guess what? So far this offseason, you're no better than us. In fact, you're worse! To wit:1. Luccino selling out his protege with a press leak.2. Manny asking (again) to get traded.3. Schilling piping in to every radio staion and rag everytime news hits.4. Johnny D promoting himself relentlessly the day the Sox get knocked out.Stop throwing rocks and start running for cover. It's kind of like watching a train wreck up there in Boston. There is NO WAY that that team is going past the ALDS next year. There are simply far too many distractions and the changes are far too drastic. Think about it. Your main man Epstein is gone. And, you don't even have the assistant GM, who is familiar with the system and how it has been set up, to take over, since he jetted to Arizona. Then, you may have a whole new outfield. Who's playing left when Manny leaves? What bat can possibly replace Manny? Who takes over for Damon in center? What leadoff guy do you get instead? And, are you really going to stick with the Trot/Millar platoon in left? Ugh. It's just nasty. On top of all that, you need to figure out who's on first, what's at second, and I don't know is on third... It's a comedy and a tragedy all at once. Good luck!
And Then There Was One...
1918 went away last year. 1917 went away this year. I wonder if next year we'll have the opportunity to shut up the last group of whiney bitches... Probably not, but there's always hope. There's always hope.
When Pujols smoked that thing, I thought it was Baylor/Hendu all over again, with Brad Lidge playing the role of Donnie Moore. I watched the 7th-9th innings with a chili burger in a placed called “The Dive Bar” on 96th St and the place went CRAZY. I thought that would wake up the Cards and carry them all the way in. Guess not.
I think you’ve gotta love this Series. Both teams are good guys that have the whole loveable loser thing going. So someone who needs it is gonna get it. I won’t know for sure who I’m REALLY rooting for until the games start. (And I’ll let you know.) At this particular moment, I still feel the Stros have the much more painful history, and as a Red Sox fan that seems to be the best way to make the call in this situation.
That is, if you’re past the whole Roger thing, which I definitely am. In fact, Roger’s continued overachievement is clearly more of a stick in the eye to the ole Yankees. Pettitte too. And Contreras. And El Duque. And…
But having said that… Man, it is hard to look past the whole 1917 thing. That’s a mighty long time kids, and I’m here to tell ya: that’s 1918 plus one. Or minus one. Or whatever. But you know what the difference is? There was never a stadium filled with 50,000 drunken, angry rivals chanting “1917” at all the crucial moments in the game. The White Sox historically never threatened anyone. And who are their rivals again? Detroit? Cleveland? Did they ever chant “1917” in the Homerdome? And where did the Brewers go?
The ChW are more the team of exploding scoreboards, elephants in the infield, Bermuda shorts, disco demolition night, and midgets – a very weird recurring midget theme. Midget astronauts, midget pinch hitters, midget win totals. Midgets. Little people. It’s as if they were trying NOT to threaten anyone. Isn't it? Say it ain’t so.
But having said that… I will definitely get choked up the moment the ChW win it all and Fox starts showing their fans celebrating. And it will bring back some niiiiiice memories of our own.
The Umpires Strike Back
Man, everything I watched over the weekend featured bad calls that changed the game. Not just the Halos-ChW, but Notre Dame-USC, Penn State-Michigan, NYG-Dallas. Was it the full moon? WHAT'S GOING ON??
It all started with that deal with Robinson Cano running inside the baseline and now it's out of control. It was an accurate call, but not in the "spirit" of the rules since he was really running toward the base. You'll remember Jeter last year who was called out because he was trying to block Mirabelli's view. THAT's when you call it. Whatever the reason, it has now come back to slap the Angels' in the face.
It'll be funny if it's the Stros vs. the ChW, considering what I wrote last week. Part of the problem with me is the ChW aren't as cuddly as the Rastros. Carl Everett makes me ill and Jermaine Dye and Konerko are personality challenged. And somebody should slap AJ Pierzynski - what a complete retard. That Rowand guy is a weasel in the same vein as Spike Owen. Crede is pretty cool and I'm warming up to Podsednik. Garland is a monster. Ya like to root for him.
What kind of juice has Contreras been drinking? He's like a different guy. He used to be a reliable gopher guy in the playoffs. More dirt I have to eat because I completely dissed the Contreras/El Duque and Garland/Buehrle foursome back in July or August. Now they are the 4 kings.
I know I said I would be rooting for the White Sox to win it all. But I have changed my mind, which is my prerogative as a woman. (I know, I know. What EVER. Just keep reading...)
Somewhere during the Sox-Sox series, it hit me: Have the White Sox REALLY endured any pain since 1917? Not counting the Shoeless Joe thing, I don't think so. Have they been brought to the brink of victory generation after generation, only to have it snatched away at the moment of redemption? Naah. Not even close.
They had 1959 where they lost to the Dodgers, back when everybody lost to the Dodgers. They've made the post-season once each in the 80s, 90s and 00s, but they have disappeared silently, without a trace. No Buckners, no Bucky Dents, no billy goats, no Bartmans. Just silence. This has to be the most boring curse in all of sports.
Now compare them to the Astro's. In the past 25 years (we won't count the 60s or 70s), the Rastro's have been in the playoffs EIGHT times. That about 1 of every 3 years. They've been tantalizing close in the NLCS several times, most notably a horrifying luck-fest by the Mets in 86. In many of those years their pitching was by far the best in the NL, if not in all of MLB. Nolan Ryan, JR Richard, Mike Scott, etc. You could argue there's more of a curse going on here than with the White Sox, and certainly much more pain for the fans. You know what I'm saying. Seriously: how much does it hurt the ChW fans to finish 4th in the AL Central every year? You and I both know they're not paying attention by August 1st. They're just going to the ballpark for the beer.
Three years ago, I could have favorably compared the Angels to the White Sox as well. But no longer. The LAA of A act like what they are - a team of champions. And as I watch their games against the ChW, I realize there's no way I can root against them. You'll recall the Halos kept me company through a lonely O.C. stretch in the 80s, when I was the NKOTB, and I'll never forget them for that. And watching them this year, as recent champions with a chip on their shoulders, they remind me of what the Sox (the Red ones) SHOULD HAVE BEEN this year. Especially when you factor in Orlando Cabrera. Man, is he AWESOME to watch, or what? CLUTCH! I don't think I knew it until this week, but the Angels are my #2 team. Solidly. (And I didn't even know I was allowed to have a #2 team.)
Which brings me to the Cardinals, a team with a history of very little heartbreak and more WS titles than any team except the Yank-ems. And the Cards, truth be told, are probably going to win this thing anyway. Which won't break my heart either - as you know, I have a family connection to StL-KC. (OK, you got me. Long story short, I'm OK with any of the 4 teams winning it this year!) 8^)
Anyway, back to the ChW. Granted, I'll give you that the White Sox are the coolest team in Chicago. And it'll be great if they win. But I don't think it will be the moment of redemption for the city or the fans that people are expecting. No way. But if the Astro's win, i think you'll hear some hallelujah's. So give me the Astro's and Angels in the WS. And then ask me the same question again next week ...
I have to eat some dirt, because I repeatedly picked the Yankees to win it all this year. They had the best line-up, they had playoff experience, and their pitching was as good as anyones, except maybe the Astro's. I also was under the mistaken impression that they wanted it the most. In fact it was my mantra. Based on the outcomes of '01-'04, didn't it make sense that the Yankees would be the hungriest?
Guess not. In those 5 games against the LAA of A it became pretty obvious which guys didn't care. Let's name names, shall we?
A-Rod - didn't care.
Sheffield - didn't care.
Big Unit - didn't care.
Mussina - didn't care.
Torre - That's right, kids! Joe Torre DID NOT CARE and will continue to NOT CARE! Disagree with me? Think about this: How many heads would Lou Piniella have bashed by mid-May had he been running the show? And how many mouths would he have shut? Do you think A-Rod would perform in the clutch for Sweet Lou? Yeah buddy! With Joe, there are no consequences.
In fact, I think Joe hates George so much that he loves when the Yankees lose! What's George gonna do ... fire Joe? Truth is, it's George that has to take the blame for all 5 of these head cases. The lesson of the year is, free agent mercenaries with guaranteed monster contracts won't win you World Series championships (unless of course their name is Manny... or Curt). The point being you can't build a team around the mercenaries; the mercenaries should fill in the gaps of your existing core team. I'll take it one step further. The Yankees won't win another one until they dump 2 or 3 of these 5 guys. Anyway, as long as we're naming names, let's talk about who DID care:
Jeter - Amazingly, he raised his game in the clutch AGAIN.
Giambi - Just like Jeter with the clutch hits. A medical superstar, but a superstar nonetheless.
Posada - Played gritty and great, starting in September (and it hurts my pancreas to say it).
Mariano & Flash - Why do people ever doubt these guys? Only the Sawx can beat them!
Matsui - He slumped, but he cared - you could tell by the hustle.
Chacon - In retrospect, the rotation should have been set up for him to pitch twice.
Bubba - That's right, I said BUBBA! Put 9 Bubbas on the field and the Yankees would have won. Kind of like 9 Trots.
9 Bubbas vs. 9 Trots! That's our strategy for next year. OK Blue? You'd watch.
The Day After
Like Teddy KGB said in the movie Rounders, "I feel so unsatisfied..." I also feel gypped, mad, and sad. Arrrgh. This team is not a team. It's just a bunch of individual, overpaid, underachieving losers. I'm sick and tired of it. Where the hell was A-Rod in this series? I've stood up for him God knows how many times, saying that he's clutch. He was clutchin' only one thing - his ballsack. Hey Hideki, could you have been any worse? I mean, you muffed so many easy plays in the field while doing almost nothing with the bat. Yeah, Tyler or some other wiseacre mook will say "He made a nice play in foul territory", but I don' t give a crap. If he misses it, it's still freakin' foul - no real harm there. But, God forbid someone hits a liner towards him. Bubba, ya gotta call Sheff off!!! Sheff, ya gotta trust the kid! Mussina shouldn't be called Moose, he should be called the Cooler. If the Yankees have a winning streak, he'll end it. If they need a win, he won't get it. Speaking of which, wasn't his first season 2001? Pffft.Hey Randy, thanks for showing up last night. Too bad you couldn't do that when you started Game 3... Bernie, you're only a shell of your old self. Have fun in Toronto. Ruben, you did me proud in Game 4. If only you could stay healthy.Robinson, how could you have tried to steal second in the 2nd with no outs and Santana scared as a kitten? How?Flash, you were great.Jeet - Nice hitting. Too bad you couldn't carry everyone. Too bad everyone needed the ride.Hey Joe, why the hell did you start Jaret Wright in the last game of the season against the Sox? If you really wanted to win it, you would have put Aaron Small in there. Umps - Nice calls. Did you have money on the game?I wish we had been swept like our rivals. It would have been easier on my heart. Ok, now that I got that out of my system, I've got this to say:It was a good baseball season, though $220 million should get you fewer headaches, no? It was tons of fun watching the last two weeks of the season play out. I'm happy the Yankees got to the playoffs. It was great to see them compete in Game 1. Cashman deserves to go to the Orioles. He'll be happier there and Angelos will let him breathe.If Torre wants out, let him go. Have Girardi take the job. He can do it.I am happy we gave Cano a chance and didn't trade him. He'll be here for a long time.Despite my issues with A-Rod this postseason, I do think our infield is second to none. The outfield will work itself out next year. Maybe Matsui will be here, maybe he'll be gone. We'll see. We will definitely have a better center fielder next year. Can't get any worse, can it?I think a nice starting rotation would be Big Unit, Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, Chien Ming Wang, and Mussina. If possible, trade Jaret Wright or Carl Pavano. They're National Leaguers. They don't belong in the hitting league.Get rid of Embree. Sign Leiter to be our left-handed specialist and possible starter fill-in. Give Flash whatever he wants. Give Flaherty more time behind the plate, allowing Posada to rest a bit more.Keep Tino around on the bench and as a defensive replacement for Steroid-boy. We need some of that old Yankee blood around, even if he's only hitting .241Jettison Womack. He blows.Bubba stays. That's all for now. I'll be checking in during the offseason.
Game Not Over!
At the very least, the Yankees have one more to go. After underachieving and blowing the past two games, the boys in blue decided to actually put up a fight last night. Now, we leave it in the hands of Mussina. That's a scary thought. He isn't exactly a choker, but he's not exactly clutch. He's somewhere in between. I'm predicting 5 inning outings by both he and Colon, with a bullpen catfight and a couple of timely dingers to end the game. Not sure who will come out on top, but I'm very glad we have the lineup we do.
Now, regarding my predictions... I'm very disappointed I only got 2 out of 3 right. Honestly, I really wanted it to be a Yankees/Sox ALCS. The problem is that it's the WRONG Sox. How epic would it have been to repeat last year? Oh well, I guess we'll just have to do it in 2006.
Now, some random comments:
* Bernie, we're gonna miss you. But, we're not gonna miss your legs and weak-ass arm.
* I feel bad for the Atlanta Braves. They're like the girl who everyone wants to fool around with, but no one wants to date.
* Cardinals look really tough.
* I'm not upset about Clemens being on the Astros. It's Pettitte that I really miss.
* Chacon is a stud.
* I really hope we don't have to rely on Tom Gordon tonight. If we do, I pray that he keeps the buffet down.
* If the Yanks get past the Angels, I wonder if their knowledge of El Duque and Contreras will help them. Regardless, they'll need something...
* Yankee bandwagon people can go to hell. Apparently some of them had the nerve to go and taunt Red. That pisses me off. Particularly because our team hasn't done squat yet. The rules are: (1) Don't taunt; (2) If you have to taunt, don't do it until your team has won something. Like a World Series ring. Pfffft.
* Why did Johnny D go and have to run his mouth? Now he's truly an idiot. I don't want him on the Yankees. Give me Andruw Jones or Juan Pierre instead...
Well at least now we know what that Fortune Cookie meant. And in other news, there was a 7.6 earthquake in Pakistan...
2005 was the 1990s all over again. Not the kind of season where we had the best team and lost it at the buzzer by some Wagnerian plot twist (i.e., '46, '78, '86, and '03). And not the kind of season where we may - or may not - have had the best team, but certainly had enough spunk and grit and teamsmanship and DESIRE to actually pull it off (i.e., '67, '75, and '04).
No, this was like the playoff teams of '95, '98, and '99. The kind of season where we had a 2-man team that was just good enough to squeak into the playoffs (i.e., Nomar & Mo = Manny & Papi). And by the end, everyone else on the team was game, but not worthy of contributing something BIG. They seemed more like cheerleaders than players. Spectators.
I'm reminded of Theo saying that his goal is to get the team to the playoffs every year and then see what happens. Suddenly that doesn't seem like a lofty enough goal. RSN deserves another title or two out of this core team.
Let's get to the email:
- No, I really wasn't very upset last night, and I'm still not. (No busted remotes.) The Sox just weren't giving us any reasons to believe - not as many reasons as the other 6 teams are giving anyway (omitting the Pods of course).
- Having said that, I will be irreversibly depressed if the Yankees win this puppy. IRREVERSIBLY DEPRESSED. I was chanting "Beat the Yankees!" with the Fenway crowd.
- The thing I AM sad about right now is that we might be closing the book on the Manny and Johnny D chapters. DON'T LOSE THEM THEO!! PLEEEEEEEEASE DON'T LOSE THEM!!
- And three core dirt dogs are probably out of here as free agents - Timlin, Billy Mill, and Millar. I understand Timlin is 40, but MAN, he did everything we asked of him and more. Billy Mill - I love you and that was a nice September, but a championship team needs more consistency at the corners. Millar - I love you too and I want you on my team forever, but you dug your own grave, bro. You looked like you were running on empty. But I appreciate that you gave it everything in '04.
- People who would even THINK to compare Graffanino's error to Buckner's error are idiots who understand nothing about Red Sox history. IDIOTS! Shut up about it.
- Being a part of RSN isn't about winning. It's about being a part of RSN... and winning. That was the common theme of our conversations with people in Philly, Minneapolis and Baltimore this year. (That, and "HOLY @#$%!, CAN YOU BELIEVE WE'RE THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS??)
- No, I don't understand Blue's thing with Schilling. He's explained it 40 times and I still don't get it. Nada. Zip. Let's move on.
- Yes, I think Francona could have gone deeper into the pen during September. It seems like our last solid winning streak was that week in early Sept when each starter went 9 innings. Hmm. And there were enough underused Delcarmens and Hansens out there to make me wonder why we kept beating the same mediocre middle relievers into the ground.
- To those of you Yankee fans who came out of the woodwork to email or call me after we were down 2-0, I have nothing to say to you. You know who you are. I've been here all season - post a comment or something!
End of Season Up/Down -
Sox officially up: Manny, Papi, ER, Papelbon, Wake, Boomer
Sox officially down: Clement, Arroyo, Millar (should I add Miller and Mantei?)
Sox we survived without: Pokey, Menkawitz, Cabrera (but just barely on all counts)
Sox we didn't survive without: Pedro, D Lowe, Roberts, and (gasp) Jay Payton.
Supporting Sox that can bring us another title: Tek, Mirabelli, Trot, Olerud, Myers, Graffanino... and Hanley Ramirez!
Not on the list: Schilling and Foulke. Where were you guys? Nobody ever said we'd have to do this without YOU! Get in shape for next year, will ya?