Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fantasy League Opening Day Roster

Evan and I are in a Fantasy Baseball league with a bunch of whip-smart college kids from Vassar (read: heckling, trash-talkin', shysters who love beating up on poor, defenseless old guys like us) , as well as a father of one of the league members (he's in something like a dozen fantasy leagues) and a friend of another. The league was set up by Evan's nephew Andrew whose other genes must have come from the Selig family. After all, he decided to change the rules after the draft. He's like a little Bud in the making...

In any case, here is my opening day lineup, complete with commentary. There are a few guys who I picked up after the draft and a few I jettisoned. I'll discuss this too.

Albert Pujols (StL - 1B): I got first pick in the draft. To be honest, I was torn between Randy Johnson, A-Rod, and Pujols. I decided on this pick because (a) I wanted youth, (b) I didn't want a pitcher, (c) I didn't want an outfielder, and (d) I didn't want a Yankee.


Adrian Beltre (Sea - 3B): This goes along with my drafting strategy of getting the good hitting infielders first and worrying about the outfield later, since I believe there's more parity out there. I was torn between Beltre and Rolen, mostly because Beltre had only one good year and he switched leagues. However, I stuck with Beltre because of his youth and I truly feel that last year was his breakout year, and not a flash in the pan season.

Derek Jeter (NYY - SS): Another infielder. Tejada was already gone. And, because of our scoring system, Jeter fit better than the other top shortstops. He's going to get me points in hits, runs, stolen bases, OPS, avg, and, because of his limited range, he'll have relatively few errors!

Ben Sheets (Mil - SP): This is where I got scared. The draft order dictated that with 10 fantasy league members, I had to wait for 18 players to go between picks (I picked 1st, 20th, 21st, 40th, 41st, 60th, 61st, etc), and here I was, last to pick in the 4th round with NO pitchers. What to do? Well, here's what you do: Get the best damn pitcher that is left. Oh, and get the second best that is left (see below).

Tim Hudson (Atl - SP): See above. Also, he's going to be even better now that there's no DH. He'll win 17 this year. Just watch.

Armando Benítez (SF - RP): Now, it's the 6th round and I'm stuck with no relief. What to do? Get the best reliever that's left. By the way, I think Benitez can definitely compete on the same level as Gagne and Rivera. Just as long as he's not facing the Yankees or Red Sox, he'll be fine and will get me a solid 40-50 save season with a low ERA and WHIP and a high strikeout total.

Billy Wagner (Phi - RP): The second best closer left in the draft and I had to get him. I like 100 mph. I like southpaws. Am concerned with his location, but he should still be good for 40 saves or so and a whole mess of strikeouts...

Bret Boone (Sea - 2B): Boone is a tough one. Part of getting him was my theory about getting good hitting infielders. However, Boone had a crap season last year. Hmmm, steroid withdrawal? Or, maybe it was just an off-year. In any case, he's got some good protection with Beltre and Sexton. I have high hopes for Bret.

Jorge Posada (NYY - C): Ugh. I might have screwed up on this one. In retrospect, I think I should have taken Varitek, Joe Mauer, or Jason Kendall. I pretty much got blinded by the fact that he's hitting in a lineup that has Jeter, A-Rod, Gary Sheffield, Jason (Comeback Kid) Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, and Tony Womack, which means runs and RBI's galore. And, I panicked. We'll just have to wait and see how this turns out. Who knows, maybe those other guys will have mediocre seasons or, better yet, will get hurt (I'm talking 'bout you, Mauer!!!)...

Sammy Sosa (Bal - OF): Time to get an outfielder or two. Sammy was the highest ranked and last year, a year in which he got lambasted for not achieving, he still popped a mess of HRs while spending some time on the DL. Now, he's hitting in Camden Yards which should be even more conducive to his stupid little first hop and stupid finger kissing. Yeah, I hate that showboating, but I think Sammy will do me good. Particularly smack dab in the middle of Mora, Tejada, Javy Lopez, and Palmiero.

OF D. Roberts (SD - OF): I'm on the fence about this one. No, I didn't get him because he put the stake in the Yankees heart last year. I got him because he can have 70+ steals this year playing every day and leading off for the Padres. That is, if he can keep his groin in check. He may start off the season on the DL, and that makes me mad.

Torii Hunter (Min - OF): Torii and I are having issues. His numbers aren't spectacular and defense doesn't really help in the fantasy scoring (errors only count). However, he can hit some dingers, steals a bit, and will be consistent. I think he'll end up being an everyday guy and will rarely be on my bench. Just as soon as I get used to the fact that he isn't a big bopper and he's not an offensive machine.

Freddie García (CWS - SP): Needed more pitching and Freddie has the Strikeouts, Innings, and Wins. Plus, there wasn't any other better starting pitcher out there.

Ken Griffey Jr. (Cin - OF): High risk. High reward. Maybe I'll donate a hammy (or two) to him. If he goes on the DL, I may have to go out and get another outfielder. Arrgh.

Larry Walker (StL - OF): High risk. High reward. He's getting old. But, he can hit and his OPS is over 1. And, he's got Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds right behind him. That's gotta work out, right? Of course, if he slumps, he's getting the bench or the boot.

David Wells (Bos - SP): I love Boomer. I think he'll get consistent strikeouts, his WHIP will be low, and he has the Boston Boppers helping him get wins. He just has to stay healthy. And sober.

Miguel Batista (Tor - SP, RP): Originally drafted Lyle Overbay, but decided that he just wasn't a good fit. Dropped him and got Frank Thomas. But, I realized I couldn't just put him on the DL and wait for him to come around. So, I decided to lose him and pick up a reliever. Got Mike Gonzalez of the Pirates and found out that he had a dead arm in spring training. Too big of a risk for too little reward. So, here I am with Batista. He's the new Toronto closer. Should be good for 40 saves or so. His big problem as a starter wasn't the first 3 innings, it was 4th - 7th. So, this should be a good fit for him. Hopefully.

Erubiel Durazo (Oak - Util): Originally got Milton Bradley. Didn't want to deal with those high/low swings that he always brings to the field. And, Erubiel hit .322 last year with 20+ dingers. Should be strong. Will NOT play the bench. He's my everyday utility man.

Orlando Hernandez (CWS - SP) : I originally got Kevin Brown. But, Brown is a head case. I don't like head cases. He's gone. El Duque could be a really nice acquisition, as long as his control is good. Hopefully he and Jose Contrares will become good buddies and he'll work out just fine. And, hopefully he'll stay healthy. If not, I'm dropping him. Fast.

Yhency Brazoban (LAD - RP): Yhency is MONEY. People made fun of me for this one. Maybe it's because he was ranked 716th. But, they're just ignorant and that's ok. I guarantee that he's going to be Tom Gordon's equivalent (without the playoff yarfing/meltdown). In fact, if Gagne gets hurt, Yhency is the Dodger's closer. He's money. He will get me holds and/or saves, strikeouts, and maybe a few wins. His ERA and WHIP are small, too. Yhency is my ace in the hole.

Headlines You Don't See Every Day

Link: March 30, 2005, Tampa, Fla. SKY CHIEFS BOMB RANDY JOHNSON

Here's a letter from the homestead. File under the category of David vs Goliath. The Sky Chiefs are my hometown team. They've been the Jay's AAA team for about 20 years, playing in the International League with Pawtucket and Columbus. It's probably much funnier if you're the .017 percent of the country who are Sox fans from Syracuse:

"The Syracuse Sky Chiefs beat the Yankees' Randy Johnson in spring training game. Yanks didn't want to show him to the Red Sox yet, so they had him pitch agains the Sky Chiefs. Score: Sky Chiefs 12, Columbus Clippers with Johnson 10. That's fun. Love, Mom."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Red Sox Rotation

The Yankees have Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and Mike Mussina going 1,2, and 3 against the Sox. It is my understanding that in the absence of Curt Schilling, Boston will likely have David Wells, Matt Clement, and Bronson Arroyo going up against the Yanks.

Riddle me this: Why don't the Sox throw Wakefield in the first game against the Yanks, then use Boomer against Pavano and Arroyo against Mussina? Wakefield will absolutely stymie the Yankees on opening night. Think about it: Opening day. A night game. A packed statdium of screaming Yankee fans. Players amped up. Then, you run into a knuckleballer. Patience is key. Adrenaline gets you nowhere. The Yankees would have no hope at all. They would get shut out because they'd be swinging out of their shoes trying to hit the ball to Manhattan. It would take all the wind out of their sails and set the tone for the whole series.
In addition, the Sox then get to set up a better rotation against the #2 and #3 guys of the Yankees.

I know it's only a theory, but I bet that if they went against conventional wisdom and did this, the Sox could sweep the Yankees to start the season. Just imagine: 11 wins in a row. Wow.

Sox 7 Yanks 2

I just wanted to see yesterday's score in print, especially if the Yankems go crazy on us next week. I can feel the suspense building. It's heightened by the fact that spring training has resolved NOTHING... the teams split their games, and they're both 13-13. Getting goose bumps just thinking about Boomer-Randy next week.

I liked where Ortiz said the Yankees "play the game right" and Millar said "last year is last year" and "we're the underdogs." Predictions coming soon, but I think I'll be happy just to be a wildcard again. I keep thinking the season could come down to these three things:

1. #2 pitcher - Without Pedro, the Yanks have the clear edge.
2. #5 pitcher - I'll take either Arroyo or Miller over Brown right now.
3. Middle relief - With Mantei and Halama, maybe the Sox have the edge now? Nah, let's call it a toss-up.

It also crossed my mind that the Yankees may have THE BEST LINE-UP IN HISTORY. A-Rod batting 2nd? Tino 8th? Dear God!!
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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Countdown

5 Days, 7 Hours, 12 Minutes until the season begins.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Poor Widdle Barry

After watching the 5 minute pity-party interview with Barry Bonds this morning where he blames the media for making him sad and down and broken, I'm confused. So very, very confused. You see, I don't know which Barry I hate more: Martyr Barry or Angry Barry. I guess it all comes down to whether or not I want to hear wah, wah, wah or arrrgh, arrrgh, arrrgh. Guess I'll take the arrrgh, 'cause nobody likes a whiner. NOBODY.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Tales from the Crypt

Well folks, March Madness is over for me. On to baseball. Blue my boy, before we begin for real, I have a couple more pre-season Tales from the Crypt to share with you. Your Yankee brethren will enjoy this:

I was at the Bucky Dent game. REALLY - NOT KIDDING!

There, I said it... whew.

In mid-September 1978 I went down to Fenway and bought 6 tickets to the tie-breaker. On that day, the Sox were still 5 games behind. So of course it was raining cats and dogs and there was no one in line. I got 6 seats in row 31 behind 1st base. Awesome seats. I was a hero to my dorm buddies, especially my best friend Brandon T, who shared (and still shares) my world's worst case of Sawx Fever. "T-Man" and I bonded on the first day of freshman week - he was wearing a Sox cap and I was wearing a Sox shirt. Guess where we spent freshman week.

It was an incredible see-saw game, but it ended very abruptly. When Yaz came up with two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th, we ran down and stood on top of the Sox dugout, ready to charge onto the field. A single could have done it. And Yaz had already smoked a homer to right off Guidry earlier in the game. Yaz was the clutchest hitter EVER... he had NEVER let us down!! This was THE MOMENT!!

He popped to Nettles (aargh!) on the first pitch, before suspense could build. I smashed my red plastic batting helmet on the railing around the field-level seats. I'll bet that really impressed the chix we brought with us. Fun date!

OK, that's out of my system. But T-Man and I were also at one of the BEST post-season Sox games ever. Fast forward to 1986:

We were beach bums living in Manhattan Beach, Calif. during the ALCS with the Angels. T-Man and I scored tix to Game 5, Sox trailing 3 games to 1. We sat in the FRONT ROW of the upper deck, left-center field. So of course we brought a sign. We spray-painted SOX IN 7 in red on a yellow bedsheet. The letters were 5 feet tall, with a slightly bigger 7.

Of course the Reagan country Nazi security patrol made us take it down in the bottom of the 1st. We had the last laugh as you know, since the Sox DID go on to win in 7, after a 9th inning and THEN a 10th inning comeback on that day.

In the 8th inning, some renegade Sox chix from the upper deck squeezed into our seats with us, and that was all the karma we needed. Baylor and Hendu pulled out a miracle with back-to-back 2-out 9th inning bombs, and then Hendu hit a sac fly to win it in the 10th. Donnie Moore, who was one of the top 2 or 3 closers in the AL, committed suicide after that. Not joking, kids... he really did. He took major abuse from the fans and media and was so despondent that he offed himself. (Why hasn't someone made a movie out of that yet?)

Of course the Sox won the two games in Fenway, then advanced to an even larger-scale choke-a-thon of their own in the '86 Series. Let's not go there today. Instead, let's remember the party we threw at our house that weekend, with the giant SOX IN 7 banner draped across our garage.

For the record, here are some other key Sox events on my resume:

1. Yaz’s 3000th hit game. Went with T-Man. We had to go 5 out of 6 nights before he finally got the hit. The funniest side story is that we couldn't make it to night #5 - but he had an oh-fer AGAIN that night. When he finally got it, it was a very anti-climactic roller under Willie Randolph's glove. We were standing at field level behind home plate screaming like banshees. Obnoxious college kids.
2. Reggie Jackson's 500th homer game. I was in the Big A, in the upper deck again (my home for 4 years), with random buddies from my office.
3. I was at the 1998 Cleveland divisional series dedicing game 4 with my wife, my bro and my nephew Andrew. Andrew scored front-row tix next to the Pesky Pole by hitting redial 9,000 times. Pretty cool even though they lost. Not fun seeing the Indians celebrate on our turf.
4. Was at the Orioles season finale last year, with my wife, T and Mrs. T. Camden Yards was 50% packed with Sox fans to send them off to the playoffs. We watched 2 of the weekend games at the ballpark, and the other two on TV at pubs on the inner harbor.
5. Flew to Boston for the PARADE on Boylston Street, the week after the Series. With Wendy and the T family. It just might be my best in-person Sox memory of all. It rained the whole time and nobody noticed. PAR-TAY!!!! (The downside: with a million people jamming North Station, we missed my nephew Dan's theatrical debut. Major bummer. Yet another unnecessary life lesson in taking the good with the bad.)

Well, Blue, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Which big Yankee games have you been to?
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Friday, March 18, 2005

Girlie Men

I wish Ah-nuld had testified instead of those sniveling crybaby girlie men. Oh boo hoo, boo hoo. You caught me cheating and now I look like an idiot. Please don't give me an asterisk. Poor me!

LOSERS.

Here's what Ah-nuld would have said: "Yes, I have taken the steroids for 40 years. They ah GREAT. I inject them directly into my pituitary gland with a giant needle twenty times a day. My muscles ripple like the Austrian Alps. I look terrific. I have a billion dollahs. I am the most populah movie stah in the world. I am guvnah of Collifornea. I am betta looking than you. I am richa than you. I am more famous than you. Women let me grope them all the time. So this is what steroids have done for me. Without steroids I am YOU. Vaht ah you going to do about it? Put the asterisk on me? Put me in jail? You can do nothing. You ah WEAK. You ah PATHETIC. Now I go. You waste my time. Hasta la vista."

Real men were watching the Dance last night anyway.
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Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's a Boy!!!

On Tuesday, Yankee pitcher Kevin Brown and his wife, Candace, welcomed into the world a beautiful baby boy. As soon as he was delivered, newborn Jacob Maclain spit on the doctor, wailed at a nurse, and punched a wall, breaking the third and fifth metacarpal bones in his right hand. He was last seen running out the side door of the operating room to avoid questioning.

When asked about the incident, Candace Brown was puzzled, stating "I've never seen behavior like that before. I wonder which side of the family he got that from..."

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Bets

We have a second weblog. It's called The Bets. You might think of it as the farm-blog of The Rivals. Check it out.

Lucky Charms

In the spirit of honesty in bloggery, I feel compelled to come clean about all my superstitions. Some of them are sick and twisted. But hey - THEY WORKED!

Most of them I pull out only when we really need a win. By Sept/Oct last year, I had perfected the following "Rain Man"-esque routine:

- Morning groom routine, in this order: brush, floss, mouthwash, shave, shower.

- Wear a t-shirt representing one of my teams under my regular shirt. Must have white in it. SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY 2003 NCAA CHAMPIONS works best. PATRIOTS-RAMS SUPER BOWL XXXVI also successful.

- While scanning the radio dial, I will not go past 880 AM, home of the Evil Empire and "The-e-e-e Yankees win" guy who suffers from a debilitating triple-threat combination of Tourettes, Alzheimers and Down Syndrome. So to get from 660 (The Fan) to 1050 (ESPN), I'll actually scroll backwards.

- Though I live in NJ, the car radio is tuned to 1080 Hartford, the nearest corner of Red Sox Nation (even though it's mostly static when it's cloudy).

- By the same token, on TV I will not surf past channel 70, the YES cable network, which the Evil Empire uses to hypnotize and brainwash people in the tri-state area. (Note: Though YES is now part of basic cable, the Evil Empire still charges you $2 extra per month.)

- Within the NYC city limits, I bear no obvious expressions of my allegiance (i.e. no Sox caps).

The following is my routine during games. (This part is scary - recommend you move the kids to the other room before continuing on):

- Must always be within boundaries of living room carpet while game is on.... That means return to the carpet before the commercial ends... No guests in the house for penultimate games (will waive this rule in the future now that curse is broken)... Always seated in far left corner of the blue chaise with feet up... Always seated on backrest cushions, not pillows... Beverage on the armrest when we're rallying... No answering the phone unless caller ID shows family member... Only approach the TV screen when WINNING RUN IS ON BASE (for either team)... Pacing is permitted behind the couch, but only after the 7th inning.

The lucky clothes combination for 2004:

My beautiful blue "RAMIREZ 24" Houston All-Star game AL jersey... Lakewood Blue Claws Class A baseball cap (Phillies farm team)... white 'Cuse t-shirt... tie-dye boxer-briefs... NO PANTS.

And my number one superstition: Electricity.

Let me define electricity: At crucial moments, Wendy has to be on the couch with me - she has to actually be paying attention to the game - and WE HAVE TO BE TOUCHING. An electrical connection. The more places we're touching, the more good karma we create. If we've already clinched the wild-card, we only need to have electricity with toes or fingers. But if it's the 8th inning of game 7, we're intertwined like Bavarian pretzels. For maximum electric energy.

So sports analysts, speculate all you want, but Wendy is THE REASON the Patriots have won 3 super bowls (3!), Syracuse won the NCAA hoop championship, and the Sox won the World Series. She is the lucky charm. Maybe I don't need these superstitions anymore now that we've broken the curse. I'm not sure. We won't know for sure until we get to crunch time. And March Madness starts Friday.

And as Forrest Gump would say, That's all I have to say about that.
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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Idiots of Yore

Our man Millar is going to be on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" later this month. That's good marketing strategy on somebody's part because I would never think to watch that show - but I'll definitely watch that episode. Johnny D was on SNL and at Daytona. Schilling is testifying to Congress. The Sox are front and center in the national zeitgeist. It's great, but now of course I'm swinging the other way and starting to fret about off-field distractions. Is anybody thinking about baseball? Nothing seems too far-fetched anymore. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to hear Manny is co-hosting "The View."

Which reminds me: Over the weekend, when the president greeted the Sox at the White House, he said: "No one really expected the answer to the curse of the Bambino would come from a group of players that call themselves idiots, except for maybe idiots who don't understand baseball." I think he's right. (But I'm pretty sure he just called us all idiots.)

Which reminds me: When I was little, the coolest team was the Oakland A's. They were long-haired scruffy idiots with several all-stars, a lot like the 2004 Sox. They made conservative crew-cut teams like the Sox, Yankees, and especially the Reds, look like complete jarheads.

The A's had bright yellow uniforms and, perhaps to compensate, a great cast of colorful characters. Even their names had colors. I remember thinking, why can’t the Sox be cool like Vida Blue... Blue Moon Odom... Dick Green... Catfish Hunter... Joe Rudi... Rollie Fingers... Sal Bando... and those guys? Come on Rico, at least grow some sideburns. THAT’s how you win games - by having fun playing baseball! Well, I wished for idiots and got idiots. 30 years later of course.

Which reminds me: David Wells seems to fit right in as the newest idiot. I read that he admits he's an idiot but doesn't think he's anywhere near as big an idiot as Millar. That's the type of Oakland A's-flavored karma I'm talking about. After all, they won MULTIPLE World Series.
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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: RANDY SHELLED BY LARRY

Yes, Randy got rocked by ol' Chipper Jones. Truthfully, I wanted to write "RANDY JOHNSON K'S TWO IN GREAT BEGINNING!" just to get Evan's goat, but I decided to go for something that Red Sox nation would enjoy. So, enjoy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blue, Blue, Blue...

I know you didn't just put that home run headline in all capital letters. I'm worried your head may explode once the season starts. You're like a teenager on the first date. In honor of Giambi, let's call it premature innoculation. I don't think you belong here in the office today - you'd be happier sleeping in the rain with the Spring Break rats on the concrete. (Maybe I'll join you.).

Monday, March 07, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: GIAMBI HOMERS AGAINST SOX

Yes, it's true. Giambi hit one out against John Halama during the split squad game. When Giambi's name was announced, the crowd went absolutely bananas, giving Giambi more than an earful. It was definitely a sign of what Giambi can expect before every road game. Guess it didn't bother him that much...

Friday, March 04, 2005

.667 OBP - How Do You Like Them Apples?

That's right - a .667 on-base percentage for Jason Giambi. He's back and he's a factor. Sure, his batting average is a solid .000, but give the guy a break! He's coming down off a 5 year steroid high, for cryin' out loud. Two walks are two walks are two walks. Yeah, baby! I bet you all wish your DH was getting paid a cool $82 million and batting seventh, too... HA! IN YOUR FACE!!!

Regarding Matt Clement

I have one good thing to say about Matt Clement this pre-season: He finally had the good sense to shave that bizarro chin-thing off his face. Then again, as creepy as his beard/goatee was, at least he looked like he had an X and a Y chromosome, which is a heck of a lot more than ol' Bronny Arroyo could say last year...

Sox 4 Twins 3

Nine game winning streak - woo woo! OK - JUST KIDDING! 8^)

I know it's just the first game of spring, but we can already say one thing with certainty: Matt Clement extends Roger Clemens by one whole letter of the alphabet. Which reminds me: how can we lose with Miller, Mueller, and Millar?

The Sox and Twinkies play 5 games in March for the glorious "Mayor's Cup" of Ft. Myers. These days, no team wants to take a bus ride that's longer than an hour. That's just lazy. Hey I have an idea - why not have all the teams play in the same city?
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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Officially Mad at A-Rod

So I'm sitting in the can (aka The Executive Washroom), reading Baseball Digest. The Rules Corner has an article on interference, particularly as it refers to A-Rod getting all slappy with Brandon Arroyo. I always gave him the benefit of the doubt, in that it was such a split-second decision that he didn't really know what he was doing. But, while in the toilet, not more that 15 minutes ago, I decided once and for all that I am officially pissed-off about that play. I've always felt that A-Rod should have run ol' Cornrow-io over. I thought he should have done it when the play was developing. I thought he should have done it during the replays. I thought he should have done that throughout the fall and most of the winter. The difference now is that I'm mad about this. I am no longer going to give him that benefit of the doubt. I'm mad that he didn't take out the little shit. Lower the shoulder and crush him, Alex! You did that earlier in the year during a bang-bang play at the plate and you scored. You knocked the snot out of the catcher and you had even less time to think about it. If you had no problem doing it then, why did you choke in the playoffs? Why? I think I know. It's because you're a pussy. A damn pussy.

The Big Dogs

Here's my belated list what drives me nuts about the managers, GMs and owners.

Nothing drives me nuts about Theo. He's the best in baseball. He hasn't taken credit for the idiot strategy and chemistry, but I think he should. I like John Henry too. The "Evil Empire" comment should be on his grave stone. It was beautiful. Two dashes of FDR and a pinch of Obi Wan. Having said all that - he REALLY gives me the creeps. (Should mention: minus ten points for the VP who didn't want to have the ring ceremony on opening day. Boooo.)

Brian Cashman is a marionette with access to deep pockets. Poor guy always looks like he's scared. I laugh out loud whenever he's on TV. He has the same expression on his face as those battered wives on Law & Order. He needs to step up LIKE A MAN. He's proven he's got a good eye for talent but he ain't callin' the shots. Now the strategy is just to get the best available guys regardless of cost, which probably isn't any fun. They had chemistry in 96-00, but I don't see it now. The trick is finding the Cabreras and Roberts, the diamonds in the rough. He's probably wasting his talent. I'll bet he'd be happier anywhere else.

Steinbrenner? I'm impressed that he spends as the rules allow and disappointed that others don't do the same. The game would be better. I respect his Series titles, his respect for tradition, his win-at-all-costs mentality, and the continuation of Yankee pride. But don't ask me to like him.

The managers. Not much to add to what's been said. Torre is a Hall of Famer, period. Francona was more than shaky all year but was letter perfect from about Sep 28th onward. Great job on clubhouse management. But dude, what's with the obsessive rocking back and forth... with the arms crossed and the blank stare? Ai caramba. Ten minutes til Wapner.

And is it my imagination or does Torre ALWAYS have his fingers up his nose? Between the two of them it's like watching "Dumb and Dumber."
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Teams I Don't Like and Why (Red Version)

1) The Yankees and 2) The Mets. Because they're 1) The Yankees and 2) The Mets.

And no I don't have a problem with NY teams. All the rest are OK with me (although you'd never catch me in an Islanders jersey). On top of that, I'm on a 12-phase program to learn to appreciate teams based in NJ, my adopted home state. (I'm on phase 3.) Also: minus 20 points if you play in a dome and minus 50 points if you play outside but still have astroturf. Minus 100 points if Barry Bonds plays on your team. Pools are bad, coke bottles are OK. That about covers it.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Teams I Don't Like and Why

* Arizona Diamondbacks: What's up with that damn pool beyond the center field fence? I don't dig teams that cater to dumb, pasty-white, overweight yahoos who would rather splash around with their corporate/fraternity pals instead of watching the game. I pray for home run balls to hit those losers. Hard.

* Chicago White Sox: Will always be in the shadow of the Cubs. As they should be. Talk about a middlin' team with a management team that is just as middlin'. They'll go and get some great hitters, but can't ever put any good pitching with it. Or, vice versa.

* Cincinatti Reds: Why can't Ken Griffey, Jr. stay healthy? I'm sorry, but he's a professional frakin' athlete - he shouldn't be pulling hammies every other month. I mean, it's his job. I don't go and get writer's cramp whenever I need to write an email. And, I don't suddenly forget how to do math whenever I need to do our accounting. Sheesh. But, there's an even bigger reason why I can't stand the Reds - it's because of Joe Morgan. He can't go for more than 10 minutes without talking about the Big Red Machine. In the middle of the night he probably blurts out the box scores for games 1, 2, and 4 of the 1976 World Series. And, instead of saying his wife's name in the middle of intimate encounters, I bet he breathily pants: "Ohhhh, Johnny... Johnny Bench... You're the greatest catcher slash first baseman slash 19-error third baseman of all time and I'm so glad that you made it into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot and... and... and... I... Love... You..."

* Florida Marlins: Hate the name (see Evan's Anaheim rant, below). Still bitter about them decimating their 1997 team which is so unfair to their fans it makes me sick. Plus, Miami is just too damn hot in the autumn, during the playoffs. Post-season games should only be played if it's 50 degrees or below. If it's hot out, it's not post-season. It's season.

* Kansas City Royals: Two words. (1) George (2) Brett.

* Milwaukee Brewers: The sausage races are classic. And, they have a great name. But, I hate the Selig family even more. Trying to sell out the Expos and the Twins while refusing to touch the Brewers. To this day, I can't believe no one stood up to them and started SCREAMING about conflicts of interest! No one! Unbelieveable.

* Toronto Blue Jays: They play in a stadium that never seems to open up the roof. What's up with that? And, they haven't had a decent crowd there since 1992. Maybe the hockey season cancellation will put some bodies in there. Probably not, though. Blame Canada.

Less Than Inspired

Tomorrow's the day that spring games start (Sox-Twinkies 7:05pm), but I'm feeling less than inspired. I'm less than inspired by a photo of David Wells that keeps popping up on redsox.com where he looks more like the reincarnation of Chris Farley than the ghost of Babe Ruth. Maybe a little of both. The forensic evidence says he spent the winter using the kind of juice that's fermented.

I'm also less than inspired that the scrimmage getting all the media play in the tri-state area today is the Mets-Nationals. GIVE. ME. A. BREAK. Part of it is, D.C. doesn't deserve a 3rd chance at a team when there were more worthy candidates out there. Like Buffalo. And Columbus. And I loved the Monterrey idea.

But a bigger part of it is that the Mets make me physically nauseous. I can't look at one more picture of Pedro. I hope they are out of it by June 1st, and the tabloids start running Pedro's crybaby quotes about lack of run support. Why don't we save time and give him his bottle right now?

Are you with me on that one, Blue?

I'll feel better on April 1, I promise. Maybe it's just menopause. A couple weeks of March Madness and I'll be ready to rock. Bleeding Syracuse Orange for now...

Right Back Atcha...

I see your fat Wells and raise you a gimpy Unit. Yes, I'm worried. Is it too early to be worried? Probably. Does that mean that I can't be worried? No. I'm worried.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Devil in Anaheim

I need to go on record on the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” debacle. I lived in the OC for three years of my life (before it was called the OC) and would not have survived without the companionship the Angels provided me. So I have a strong opinion on this one.

I don’t care what reasons this creep has for changing the name. I don’t care what it means for owners of the Dodgers or the Angels (it will NOT help TV ratings). All that matters is what he’s doing to the Angels fans, and he’s slapping them right across the face. Hard. I can tell you from personal experience that these are excellent fans, very loyal, and they stuck with the team through a lot of heartbreak before they won the big one. They’ve reached the magic 3 million in attendance. They’ve supported one of the 5 or 6 best franchises in the bigs since 2000. What more can you ask of fans... then this is how you reward them?

Marketing 101

1. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
2. Make your customers proud to be customers.
3. Don’t poop on them.

Let me be very clear: THE ANGELS ALREADY HAVE AN EQUAL SHARE OF THE MLB MINDSHARE IN SO CAL. The Dodgers came to Southern California in 1958, and the Angels were right behind, in 1961. The Dodgers were someone else’s team with Hall of Famers everywhere; the Angels were a home-grown expansion team starting at rock bottom. The Dodgers were better until about 1985; since then the Angels have been better overall. Both teams have pennants and titles; both teams have Hall of Famers; both teams have a rich history of marquee players.

The fans in the OC love the Angels because they are their home team. And they love their home. Most of them can’t imagine living anywhere else (ESPECIALLY Los Angeles). For better or for worse, Anaheim is the biggest town and the industrial center of the OC. So the new owner just has to deal with it. This isn’t like throwing a New York team across the river because it’s cheaper (i.e. The New York Giants of New Jersey). Not even close. In fact, this is a great hand to be dealt: the OC is a growing, prosperous, exciting region with it’s own identity, distinct from LA and San Diego. Now more than ever. Have you heard of the Mighty Ducks? They LOVE them here.

I was glad when they changed the team from California to Anaheim – that’s what it should be. On that subject: I don’t mind pro teams that are named after states or regions, as long as there are NO OTHER TEAMS in that state or region. Therefore, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, New England, Carolina are OK in my book. California, Florida and Texas are not OK – not when there are other teams in the state. (Golden State: hands down the dumbest name ever.)

My plea to Angels fans: BOYCOTT. Don’t buy the new t-shirts and caps. Start chanting “An-a-heim” at the games. Boo every time the PA guy introduces “Your Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.”

I see the Dodgers have countered with caps that say “The Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles.” I gotta get me one of them.