Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Birds are Chirping

Spring is in full bloom and we are oh so happy. The days are lasting longer and the air grows warm. The trees are blossoming and the flowers are peeking out. Even the animals are happy. Dogs are frolicking, squirrels are scurrying, and the birds are singing. That includes the biggest bird of them all: Curt Schilling, or as I've started to call him, 'Chirpy'. He can't go more than a week without sounding off about something. He's starting to sound like a really, really annoying chick (see: Kathie Lee Gifford). You know, I used to dig him. That was when he would hit the Sons of Sam Horn message board, call in to the radio stations to simply chew the fat, and do video game reviews that ended with the word 'Woot!'. But, those days are over. Nowadays all we hear is preaching and whining and bitching and moaning. Why doesn't he just shut up? Well, I'm thinking that there's several possible reasons for the increased level of chatter from Chirpy McChirp-Chirp:

1. His wife and kids ignore him at home.

2. He's trying to draw attention away from the fact that he doesn't recover as quickly from injuries now that he stopped doing 'roids.

3. He's realized that he his chatter-quota has to increase exponentially in order to maintain relevance and stay ahead of the curve.

4. He is over-compensating for the loss of the other squawker, Pedro.

5. He knows he won't make it to the Hall on stats alone.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Know your role, shut your hole. And by the way, words have a heck of a lot more impact when you're pitching some lights-out baseball instead of tossing beachballs to the hitters and/or hanging out on the DL with Mr. Donut.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Haiku for A-Rod

a swing in full bloom
during showers of april
but gone with autumn

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Which Reminds Me...

That reminds me, Blue. There was some EXTREMELY amusing sports television this weekend, especially on the Vijay/Daly playoff hole at the Houston Open. Daly was positively Homeresque - and by Homer I mean Simpson. I think he and Wells were separated at birth.

First, Vijay can barely bring himself to look at Daly when they shake hands before they tee off. It's as if Vijay is utterly repulsed by even the thought of playing alongside the mayor of White Trashistan. Then with his hands trembling, Daly inhales a cigarette in 3 seconds flat. And he holds it like it's a joint. Then he flips the butt into the grass, as if he's making himself at home at Sam's Driving Range on County Road 905. Then of course, he smacks his tee shot into the soup (the announcers didn't say anything but it looked to me like it took a sideways hop). Then his drop rolls back into the water. A second drop rolls to within a couple feet of the water, but settles. Once his ball is stable, he smacks it over the green and all the way down the backslope into Hades. No practice swings or anything, just *whack*. Then, before they can determine who's away, Daly chips up. I thought Vijay's colonial British head was going to explode. Vijay willed his winning putt in the cup so he wouldn't have to deal with Daly for one more second. He shook Daly's hand like he was picking something out of the toilet.

OK, so maybe I'm easily amused. But like Wells, Daly is s-o-o-o-ome kind of white boy.

No More, No More

I can no longer empathize with Boston fans. You see, during the 5th inning of last night's Red Sox/Orioles game, I decided to jettison the only Boston player on my fantasy baseball roster: David Wells. I had great hopes for him. Not only do I love his personality (in that John Daly kind of way), I fundamentally love the way he pitches. He's a southpaw with a huge overhand curveball that gets mixed in with a sneaky-quick fastball, works quickly, and doesn't walk guys. Unfortunately, this was overshadowed by too many things:

1. He gives up too many dingers.
2. He pitches in a hitter's ballpark.
3. He pitches in the American League (aka The 27, not 24, League)
4. He pitches in the hardest division in baseball (19 against the Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays and those pesky Devil Rays has got to weigh on you)

Oh yeah, one more thing: With the exception of his rubber arm, he's just about ready to fall apart. He's like the opposite of Achilles. Achilles' lone weakness was his heel. Wells' lone strength is his left arm. God only knows when he's going to have a hernia, sprain an ankle (Yahtzee!), yank a hammy, need a major organ transplant, or develop full blown coronary heart disease... It's just about time to hang up the spikes and put on the donut eating pants. You know the ones. They have a really stretchy waistband and are impervious to stains. On both the outside and the inside.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The #1 Team in NY

I've been doing something this Spring that I've never done before - watching the Mets. Mostly because Beltran is on my Fantasy team. But there are only two teams to watch here in the Tri-State area, and I don't really enjoy watching the other one - even when they're losing. And I'm amused by the fact that the Mets are getting better ink locally than the Yankees right now. Maybe this is my year to pay attention to the NL? Must be all those American Leaguers over there that are making it interesting...

Top 10 observations:

10. Beltran is a god. When he's not hitting HRs, he's stealing bases. When he's not stealing bases, he's making SICK catches.
9. Pedro made a good move for Pedro. No DH and, by comparison, no big line-ups in the NL East.
8. Piazza is TERRIBLE. The Nats stole on him at will all weekend. Pretty embarrassing.
7. Speaking of the Nats, Vinnie Castilla is fun to watch. He looks like a weekend softball slugger/beer chugger, in the mold of Gorman Thomas or Uncle Steve Balboni. (OK, so this one's not about the Mets.)
6. Looper is a disaster, they need a real closer.
5. Other than Mientkiewicz - who is on his game - their infield is rather POROUS.
4. I listen to WFAN, which is the Mets flagship radio station. I love when callers have a comment about "that new 1st baseman. You know: Menk-a-witz." It's happened a dozen times. That's actually what they call him in Queens I guess. Menkawitz. The announcers don't bother correcting them. Classic NY.
3. The Mets game announcers on radio are the best I'VE EVER HEARD. Gary Cohen and Ed Coleman. Super professionals. They make the Yankee announcers sound like amateurs and homers. Oh wait - they ARE amateurs and homers.
2. No, I'm not turning into a Met fan.
1. But I will actually watch when Pedro pitches against the Yankees. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. Did I just say that?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Ooh, That's Gotta Hurt

Poor Nomar. In the time it takes to fall on the ground and grab one's crotch, he singlehandedly made Theo Epstein look like an even bigger genius, the Cubs look like absolute losers, and Mia Hamm look like she ain't gonna get none too soon. Ouch.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yankees 143 Rays 2

Well, I guess they listened to George, Blue.

And how bout Tampa Bay? Wow, they look sharp this year, huh?

And how bout Manny! I LOVE Manny highlights! 2 dingers and 2 zingers. He's steadily catching up to Yaz as my all-time fave, albeit probably for the wrong reasons. A living legend, you can't deny that. Kids, enjoy it while we have him... because there's never been another Manny and there never will be another Manny.

Tough call as to whether I'd rather watch Manny or Sheffield play the outfield these days... maybe Manny is Goofy to Sheffield's Daffy?

To quote Roy Hobbes, "Gosh I love baseball."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Yankee Doodling

Two ways to look at this, I guess. 1) The jury's still out for me, but at the moment I'm leaning to the fact that something might be fundamentally wrong with the team DNA. 2) On the other hand, this kind of start may be exactly the kind of wake-up call they need. Still, something's missing and it doesn't have anything to do with talent.

Only two teams in history have fielded an opening day line-up with 10 all-stars (including the DH): The 1977 Yankees and the 2005 Yankees. That's not even counting guys who don't start, like Rivera, Flash, Tino, etc. The 1977 Yankees won it all in dominant fashion. The 2005 Yankees are much better than 1977, and SHOULD win it all without ever having to even look over their shoulder. They still might, but the losses since Oct 20 seem to be revealing some kinks in the armor.

For the past 9 years the Yankees have established a blueprint of staying within reach the whole game, then squeezing the life out of you in the 8th and 9th innings. Their wins always seem inevitable. They've lost that magic right now and it's going to be tough to get back. It could be Jeter and Mariano aren't hungry enough any more. It could be that the guys who haven't won rings but are the core studs of the team - i.e., Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield, Matsui, even Mussina - are great All-Stars, but aren't really ring-worthy. The things A-Rod and Sheffield have done on the field in big moments aren't things that champions do.

I wouldn't worry about the hitting. It'll come. At the moment, I think a bigger problem than the hitting is the emergence of a consistent 2 and 3 starter. That's what they'll need in October.

George Steinbrenner Speaks

I will paraphrase King George's 'missive' to the troops:

Blah blah blah
Highest paid this, highest paid that
Not doing what they should be doing
Yada yada yada
Disappointed
Not warriors
Torre better fix
Or I'll be pissed


I totally agree. Not only that, Posada and Jeter are on my fantasy team. Time to get hitting, fellas. I'm dyin' here!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sheffield, Take 3

Counterpoint(s)...

A) He misplayed the carom.
So? Is it that big of a deal? Fenway is probably the hardest outfield to play. Between the Green Monster, the super low walls, and the jigsaw-like corners out there, it's a veritable minefield of errors waiting to happen. I'd let you have this argument if he was playing on his home field, but he wasn't.

B) He had a convenient excuse for screwing up the play when the guy took a swipe.
I don't buy it. See D, below.

C) The swipe didn't hurt.
Agreed. But it probably surprised the crap out of him.

D) Most importantly, because Sheffield has Daffy Duck's anger management skills, he dealt with the fan before he dealt with the play. This is not good baseball instincts or good baseball, period. It's really stupid.
Should he have fired the ball into the infield? Yes. I'm glad you pointed out the obvious. But, if you were typing up a blog entry, and I came up behind you a smacked you in the head, would you finish the sentence or would you react? Frankly, I think Sheffield did what was human and he reacted.

E) Sheffield is not a hero because he restrained himself from slugging the guy.
Agreed. Never said he was.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sheffield, Take 2

No, I wasn't embarrassed. The drunk guy wasn't related to me or anything. There are hooligans and Steve Bartmans in every ballpark. There was a little snot-nosed kid in the Bronx who stole a home run for the Yankees yet became a hero. Instead, I was entertained. And I agree with Blue, and Dirt Dogs and my idol Bill Simmons (who somehow determined the drunk guy's motives by watching the video), that yes, the drunk guy is an idiot. So what?

The story isn't that a drunk guy interfered with play - it happens every day and IT'S PART OF THE GAME. They have rules that cover it. The story is how Sheffield reacted - I'd be embarrassed about THAT if I were a Yankee fan - and I can't believe that in the bandwagoning that people are ignoring this.

A) He misplayed the carom. B) He had a convenient excuse for screwing up the play when the guy took a swipe. C) The swipe didn't hurt. D) Most importantly, because Sheffield has Daffy Duck's anger management skills, he dealt with the fan before he dealt with the play. This is not good baseball instincts or good baseball, period. It's really stupid. E) Sheffield is not a hero because he restrained himself from slugging the guy. No, no, no. Give me a break. Is that all we expect from our athletic role models these days?

Let me ask you this: Would Jeter have reacted that way? Or would Jeter have thrown the ball back to the infield as quickly as humanly possible, and then walked calmly away from the situation?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Idiots, indeed.

I'm embarassed that my colleague Evan isn't embarassed. In fact, in the previous post he's gleefully joyous that this Dorchester jerkweed was able to help get his beloved captain an extra base. That's pathetic.

At least the Dirt Dogs got it right:

Foul Play by Dorchester Chooch Fraud-Fan Chris House Embarrasses the City of Boston

This is what happens when Red Sox Nation "cardholders," who don't know enough to keep their hands in the stands, go to games instead of real baseball fans, who can't get tickets to Fenway anymore.

Sheff should have clocked the assclown who, even if Sox fanboys and girls blindly give the punk the benefit of the doubt, was trying to turn Tek's triple into a double at best. Inexcusable. Ban him from Fenway for two years.

"He just said he was going for the ball." -- Chris House's dilusional fiancee in denial

Roid Rage

On the plus side - Nice play by Sheffield on the carom. And good decision to go 'roidal on the fans rather than throw the ball back into the infield. Shades of Knoblauch holding the ball as he argued with the ump - #1 and #2 on my personal highlight reel. It wouldn't have been as funny if it were Giambi. I prefer Sheffield's rage suppression/explosion routine - he perfectly channels Richard Dreyfus/Daffy Duck when he does that. Also: 5 points for whoever made that woman spill her beer. ROFL.

On the minus side - Schilling and Johnson were both useless and oddly pathetic, as if the weight of this whole Rivals deal has already beaten them to a pulp. So much for my theory on the importance of the 2nd and 3rd starters. At the moment, 1-5 look more or less balanced. In that lineup yesterday, the Yankees were better than the Sox at just about every position, except maybe catcher and DH. Shouldn't they have wiped the floor with them?

Replies

1. Um, or Mountain Dew. 2. Wrong 3. Er, you skipped 3! 4. Doesn't really bother me. 5. Not as much as I should. 6. Yes! But it will be back. 7. BINGO! Although I was motivated enough to throw a water bottle when Vermont beat Syracuse. 8. Hey, that's MFRE you're talking about (My Favorite Republican Ever). 9. Death to The Vix! 10. Common misperception.

You're thesis is backwards: The anticipation was the WORST part. My heart could NOT have handled another close one. The winning is INCREDIBLE! Don't you remember? 8^)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Why Evan Doesn't Care

1. Because there are more important things to worry about in this world of ours. Like beer.
2. Because it's hard to root for a team that lost so many players, including Pedro, D-Lowe, and Mahow.
4. Because Wade Miller is going to be on the DL forever and you have a jelly-doughnut eating, under-achieving drunkard named David Wells in your rotation.
5. Because you miss NO-MAH!
6. Because Brandon Arroyo got rid of his Bo Derek hairdo.
7. Because you're just so gosh-darn tired of how your teams just keep on winning and winning and winning (see: Boston Red Sox 2004, New England Patriots 2002, 2004, 2005 and Syracuse Orangemen 2003). Jerk.
8. Because Schilling openly shills for God and Bush. Not necessarily in that order.
9. Because you have a new obsession: Fantasy baseball.
10. Because you miss the heartbreak and heartache. You really do.

It was fun while it lasted, but now the Red Sox are just like any other team that has won one over the past three quarters of a century. The problem is that the anticipation is the best part. The actual winning is good, but holding out for that long has a tension and the potential for release that will never happen for you again. Ever.


Hmmm... Maybe it's time for the two of us to root for a different baseball rivalry. I'll take the Cubs and you can have the Sox. The White Sox.

Nah.

April Pennant Race

I'm trying to figure out how we can be in last place and it doesn't bother me. I watched that game last night with the passion I would usually devote to a Reds-Brewers game. I think the Sox and Yankees feel the same way. Manny clearly does, and I don't blame him. And as long as the Yankees don't seem to care, I'm going to have trouble getting motivated. Only Tanyan seems to be bringin' it.

Here's my self-analysis:

1. I got my banner which I never thought I'd get, so I'm taking a mental vacation.
2. 19 games a year is way too many. It's like going to see fireworks every Friday night. Or having Playboy Channel.
3. I'll be gone in 2090. My nephew Dan will be 99. He'll be one of those guys on TV talking about how he remembers the bloody sock.
4. Schilling is pitching pretty well, he just doesn't have his legs yet. Plus, I have the undeniably cocky feeling we can beat Mariano when we really need to.
5. The thought of the Blue Jays winning the division is more amusing than horrifying. Jays-Nats series anyone? I could get motivated for THAT.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

David Wells: Musings

From SI: "The Red Sox played a ragged opener behind a ragged pitcher, floppy-shirted Yankees expatriate David Wells, who in less than five innings gave up 10 hits and four runs, hit Giambi twice with pitches, balked home a run and was booed off the mound by his former faithful fans."

From me on our Fantasy Baseball message board, right after Saturday's game: "David Wells...SUCKS! He just killed all of my pitching stats. Jerk."

From Evan: "Well, it's hard to be a good pitcher if you look like John Goodman."

Biased Play-by-Play

Since last October, all I hear is Boston so great this, Boston so great that. Everyone loves those lovable losers. Well, lovable winners. There are no fewer than 2,459 books out about the Red Sox win. And, there's a hit movie out about a Sox fan that everyone is writing rave reviews about. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. This even includes my co-worker and his best friend. Sheesh.

Now, I can handle some media interest in this story. And, I can deal with all the hooplah. But, there's a line that shouldn't be crossed. And, that line was crossed yesterday while I was watching the online play-by-play of the Yankee/Sox game. Here's a sample that I've cut and pasted (read from bottom to top):

End of top of the 3rd. Bring on Big Papi!!! Woohoo!
J Giambi popped a pill. Er, popped out.
J Giambi booed relentlessly.
J Posada moseyed to first. Again.
T Martinez fouled out to the one, the only, our glorious captain, Jaaaaason Vaaaaaritek!!!
H Matsui grounded out to second. Japanese nation distraught.
G Sheffield reached on infield single to shortstop, denies using the cream. A Rodriguez scored, G Sheffield to second on throwing error by shortstop E Renteria, G Sheffield denies using the clear.
A Rodriguez slapped shortstop. Bushleague.
A Rodriguez stole second.
A Rodriguez singled to right center.

Start of 3rd inning.

Lords of the Rings

Wow, that was a big banner. I think they must have used material from David Wells' uniform pants.

I was one of the 43 thousand people who they offered to fly in to receive my ring. Even though I'm just a front office guy and I now play for a different team. But my teammates told me they wouldn't respect me if I put the old uniform back on again. Plus Nomah and Pedro decided not to go, so that made my decision easy.

I think Yaz was choked up and he didn't even get choked up on Yaz Day. And who do you love more than Johnny Pesky? Also, quick question... were Dom Dimaggio and Bobby Doerr there? If so, why didn't they show them? We needed them there...

Class acts as always: Torre and Jeter. (BTW, I keep forgetting to mention: my friend Bob the Yankee fan thinks Torre should be fired.) Mariano seemed to be enjoying himself too much - what's up with that? I think he got a peek at what his pitching line did for my Fantasy stats last week. And this bugs me... why are we booing Giambi? Why aren't we booing Sheffield?

Good call on Bill Russell and Bobby Orr. Wait, one more thing... Mirabelli is the best 2nd string catcher in the history of the world.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Fevah Pitch

SPOILER ALERT!! DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE!!

I saw the Sawx flick this weekend. I'm not going to write a review because I know you've already made up your mind whether you're going to see it or not. So I'll just give you my Top 10 Cliff's Notes:

1. There's no way it could ever live up to the hype. And so it doesn't. Especially if you're not a Sox fan. But will I buy the DVD? Duh!

2. I had tears streaming down my face at the end, but not because Drew and Jimmy hooked up. I had tears streaming down my face because it's the happiest ending EVER. In the history of motion pictures. It will never be topped. Ever. EVER!! Did I mention the ending? IT'S REALLY REALLY HAPPY!! Happy, the ending is.

3. Drew Barrymore was good because she comes across as juuuust dumb enough to date Jimmy Fallon. We've already seen her hook up with idiots like Adam Sandler and Tom Green in movies, so she's believable with this looza. Also, HER friends are way funnier than HIS friends. But if they'd done it right, it would have been the other way around.

4. Jimmy Fallon, not so much. Both sides of his character (the "Winter" and "Summer") are very well written. But the character should have been more Boston-y, i.e., with a South Boston accent. Why not Mahky-Mahk Wahlberg? He's actually cute enough for Drew. Also - and this is nit-picking - it would have been funnier and pulled more at the heartstrings if the guy was in his late 40s or 50s and had REALLY REALLY suffered. A Boston guy like Dennis Miller or Colin Quinn. The chick could have been played by someone his age too. (Pamela Anderson! Woo woo!)

5. Having said that, the screenwriters and directors did a GREAT job with the Sox stuff - much better than they did with the romance stuff. The historical details in the conversations... the nuances of the obsessed fans... the patience and frustration of the chick... are all pretty much right on.

6. There are a couple of great scenes that will help this movie crack the Top 10 of All-Time Baseball movies. THE classic, however, is when Jimmy Fallon finally snaps. He turns off all the lights and plays the Yastrzemski song while replaying the Buckner video. Over and over and over. LOL LOL ROFL. Also, a non-sequitur with a razor that gets cheap laughs belongs in a different Farrelly brothers movie.

7. The Sox are used wisely too... none of them have to speak. In one batting cage scene set in the late 70s, The Eck and Jim Rice play themselves. And the screen doesn't even do that out-of-focus fuzzy thing. They look exactly like they used to! And there's an excellent turning point scene where Johnny, Tek and Trot are enjoying a relaxed late-night dinner... just hours after the Game 3 ALCS debacle.

8. In terms of The Rivals, the Yankees are pretty much respected and feared - not at all hated. The (sparse) crowd with which we saw the movie in NJ laughed on cue every time the Yankees were mentioned. They even laughed at the end of ALCS game 7, when the screen showed A-Rod pacing the dugout, glaring at the Sox celebrating on the field.

9. Nice touch when Jimmy Fallon sells his season tickets for $110,000 - the same price the Sox received for selling Babe Ruth.

10. Lots of Yaz and Ted in this movie. Not to mention, Rico, Tony C, Pudge, Dewey, etc. (Can't remember any Nomar though...hmm.) And finally, I thought it was a real nice touch to have the whole thing end on a Yaz joke. What could be better than that?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Yankees 5, Red Sox 0

No, that's not the score of a game. That's the HBP tally of this past series. Giambi got hit three times by pitches and Jeter got hit by two, once in the head. Hey, I'm cool with it. Pitching inside is definitely part of the game and I believe the Yankees understand this (hence the lack of retaliation). I just hope the Red Sox and the Boston faithful remember this little stat next time the Yanks are up in Fenway and the Big Unit and Kevin Brown decide to dust off a couple of hitters. Unfortunately, they probably won't. The fans (and Boston beat-writers) will probably get all martyr-riffic and bloodlust-tastic and some idiot player will likely pull a Manny and go flying towards the mound. *sigh*

Prediction: One haymaker, three rabbit punches, four suspensions, two guys on the DL, and a whole mess of fury.

The Baseball Gods

The Baseball Gods are laughing at me (not with me), because Mariano is the closer on my fantasy team. And what does it mean that I'm suddenly concerned for the fragile psyche of A-Rod?

Which reminds me... Is it me, or was that series a microcosm of last year? And what is the greater symbolism of the very real scares involving both Francona AND Jeter? Is the Pope somehow involved? As Yankee fans suggested last October: ARE WE NEARING THE APOCALYPSE?

Which reminds me... My erstwhile college and OC roommate, the afforementioned Brandon T, reviewed Fever Pitch in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune. He had a great line: "In my opinion, though, the real Red Sox story of 2004 trumps the Hollywood version by a mile."

Which reminds me... There is also a great line on Boston Dirt Dogs: "Does Johnny Damon get a ring or a Pulitzer Prize on Monday? (And, does the wife get a WS ring, too?)"

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Um, Mariano?

I'm not panicking. It's all going to be ok.

I hope.

Haiku for Johnny D

cover shoots best-sellers
talk shows magazines premieres
will you play ball now

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Mah Per-dictions for 2005

American League - Long story short, it will be the same 4 boring teams.

AL East
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox (wildcard)
Sox win 95, but finish 20 back. O's make a legitimate move, winning games by 12-10. If Schilling goes head-to-head with RJ in the playoffs, he'll win that one game. But overall the Yankees are WAY too strong and want it too badly this time. I don't want to be them if they don't win it all.

AL Central
1. Twins
2. Injuns
And watch the Tigers.

AL West
1. Angels
2. A's
LA (or Anaheim or whatever) will have it sewn up by Labor Day.

National League - WHO CARES

1. OK, here's a per-diction: The NL will field 3 completely different playoff teams than last year.

2. The Braves will go to the Series and lose to the Angels. OK, the Yankees. But the Angels are the only team that will threaten the Yankees. And people besides me will call the 2005 Yankees the Best Team Ever.

3. Yankees win season series over Sox, 11-8. Three bench-clearing brawls, including two in one game (at Fenway). "Roid Rage" Sheffield and "Wild Man" Mantei at the center of the fracas. This time there are real injuries to both teams.

4. Matsui wins the AL MVP over A-Rod thanks to mondo total bases and RBIs. RJ wins 23 for the Cy over Santana. Matsui wins RBI title by a dozen over Sheffied and Tejada. Jeter has his best year ever with the bat, and 6 Yankees go 25/95.

5. Manny-Ortiz battle for HR title. Schilling has an off year (17-11) but comes alive in Aug-Sep to lift Sox to wildcard. Clement also wins 17, Arroyo 15, Wakefield and Wells 13, Miller 12. But not having Pedro and Lowe will be the difference in the playoffs.

Ex-Sox Per-dictions:

1. Nomar will be the Cubs MVP, but they'll come up short. Might make the wildcard.
2. Cabrera will become an All-Star with the Angels.
3. Pedro will go 17-7, Mets will contend until the Break.
4. Lowe will go 16-8, Dodgers will contend until late Sep.
5. Mientkiewicz will bat 8th but still get 18/80 and a gold glove.
6. Roberts will steal 66, 3rd in the NL.
7. Banished to Yomiuri, Gabe "Welcome Back" Kapler will date the goofy food-taster actress chick from Iron Chef.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Yankees Lineup

There is only one thing that I really gleaned from last night's game, and it's this: The Yankees lineup is, to say the least, formidable. It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out over the course of the season. Certainly, there are many opportunities for injury (Sheffield's shoulder, Bernie's back, Giambi's everything) and fatigue will definitely be a factor later on (Posada, like every other catcher, always has a crappy August and September). But, top to bottom, it's a really nasty group of hitters there. David Wells wasn't able to catch his breath once. Not once. I wonder if he misses pitching in the NL...

Yanks 9 Sox 2

I was remarkably serene during this butt-whippin'. No superstitions, no tears, no nothin'. Just glad to get started. Nice to be World Series champion, ain't it? And it was wicked nice just to see Johnny D and Manny and boyz. I LOVE THEM SOOOO MUCH!!

More than anything it seemed dumb to play an opener on Sunday night in the pouring rain. Openers should be day games. They couldn't have started at 4pm? Almost as dumb as going to Japan. Another issue: the Evil Empire's YES network is abysmal, top to bottom. I can't believe ESPN was blacked out here. Seriously considering satellite now - both radio and tv.

Randy Johnson looked good, but he's hittable. A bigger surprise for me was Sturtze. The 2005 Yankees are the best team ever to play baseball - EVER. I can't believe more people aren't saying it. Exactly where are they lacking? They're going to win 117. My theory is that since 2000, the team that has wanted it the most has won it. This year the Yankees want it most. If I'm a Yankee fan, anything less than dominance will be devastating.

David Wells is just FAT and I don't think his heart is in it. He was focused for about an inning and a half. He and Varitek were on different pages. Until he puts up a W, I think he should start reading Varitek's page. Having said that, Pedro would have lost this game too. Matsui is great, which is OK by me since he's on my Fantasy team. Part of me would like to see Ichiro and Matsui rip the league to shreds this year. Sort of the baseball equivalent of the NBA guys getting creamed in the Olympics. They play the game right.

I liked the way Francona gave all the new guys an inning each to give them a taste of it. Mantei is a wild man, he needs some schooling. Halama pretty much stinks, I don't think he has anything. I like Jay Payton a lot. They should figure out a way to keep him in the lineup.
.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Uh, wait. Scratch that.

I've reconsidered. If there's a rainout tonight, they'll reschedule the game for tomorrow, which is an off-day. And, inevitably, some of the 55,000 people or so won't be able to make it because they'll have to work or travel or do something other than go to the Bronx. And, they'll be selling their tickets on Craigslist. And, my good pal Evan and I will be there to buy them. Just think, opening day at Yankee stadium. The Bronx Bombers and the defending World Series champions the Boston Red Sox. Holy crap. If we can pull this off, it will be epic. Bring on the beer!

Are you there, God? It's me, Nathan

If you get this message, dear Lord, please, please, please don't make it rain in New York!!! Yes, the rest of the country is praying for it because they are dead jealous of the Yankees and Red Sox. But, they don't understand. This game should be played. This game needs to be played. My reasons are as follows:

1. Because we need to get the foul taste of steroids out our mouths.
2. Because my fantasy league team is optimized for a Sunday game and not a Monday game.
3. Because spring training doesn't count.
4. Because I don't want to have to choose the Yankees over the NCAA basketball final.
5. Because I can't imagine listening to Joe Morgan for 3 hours during a rain delay.

Just do this one thing for me, a Yankee fan. It's not really asking all that much. After all, you gave a freakin' WORLD SERIES to the Boston fans last year! Sheesh. Give me a break, willya?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy

This year Blue joined the Fantasy League with me. If anything interesting happens, we'll write about it. Last year I finished 2nd in the regular season, drew a bye, then lost horribly in the 2nd round of the playoffs. So I am what you might call a LOOZAH.

I didn't think I'd have the time every day to keep my team current, but somehow I found 5 minutes every morning to change my pitchers and bench the bums. You begin to feel responsibility for your team, sort of like caring for a Tamagotchi. Having said that, there's a strong possibility that I'm going to be so busy with work this summer that I'll fall way behind - same with Blue. But hey, I still like having a team. At worst, I'll be like the Tigers or Orioles. I don't think I'm the Blue Jays. (Knock on wood.)

The team I drafted this year (in a fit of panic) is, unintentionally, a lot like me: 40-ish guys past their prime, some underachievers, and guys stuck in New York who made their name somewhere else. Oddly, I have 5 ex-Red Sox and 7 Mets and Yankees. Yes sports fans, this season I will be rooting for Roger... Pedro... and, even more agonizingly... for Piazza (yuk!)... Matsui (nooo!)... and (gasp!) Mariano. It's like sleeping with the enemy.

Thankfully, I have a pair of Sox to keep me warm: Johnny D and "Brandon" Arroyo.

This year there's 10 players in the league, up from 6 last year. 10 should be more fun. The core players are 6 kids from Vassar College, taking a break from the extreme pressures of the Ya-Ya sisterhood. They include 5 Sox fans (see photo below) and 1 Yankee fan. The Yankee fan is Ryan (team name Petrograd Bolsheviks), who I'm certain has endured post-season abuse of Jesus-esque proportions.

The four left-overs are:

- Katie's off-campus friend Mooch. Not sure of his Sox-Yankees orientation. My only gossip is that I hear he sports a triple Mohawk. (Yet he didn't draft Joe Charboneau). Mooch's team is called GoingGoingGonorrhea , but it will always be 3G to me. (Or is that G3?)
- Kelly's dad. His team is the Havana Daydreamers.
- My Boy Blue. His team is the MUY MACHO Lock and Load.
- And moi. My team is Who's Your Dealer.

All in all, it's like a bad episode of The Surreal Life. After reading those names, don't you feel like washing your hands?

Blue takes it seriously, because after all - it's baseball. He does his homework (very well) and is a relentless trash talker. On the trash talk page I started calling him "The Load" - and now EVERYONE calls him The Load. (Heh heh.) But I think he might get the last laugh - it looks like he drafted one of the best teams. He'll definitely be in the top 2 or 3.

Of course, the trash talk in the league is already way out of hand. It wouldn't be any fun without it. Let the record show that:

A) I started it
B) I have been rewarded by being called a "crack whore"
C) I have launched an underground movement to impeach the commissioner (because he changed the categories after the draft... TWICE)
D) And that despite my campaign, I have been accused of secretly condoning the commish's underhanded methods, though they clearly hurt my team.

Maybe it's because the commish and I finished 1-2 in the regular season last year. Or maybe it's the fact that we're related. Not sure. I have noticed, however, that the commish punctuates his own trash talk with ominous evil laughter, i.e. "bwaa ha ha!" Which is kinda cool.

The name Who's Your Dealer was, of course, intended to honor Fenway's legendary bleacher chant, which was directed at Balco Sheffield during the playoffs ... and remarkably never mentioned by the Fox broadcasters (despite their round-the-clock focus on the humorless Who's Your Daddy chant). In trash talk however, I quickly devolved into a slimy character called, simply, "The Dealer," who blithely doles out steroids and other recreational narcotics, apparently targeting not just the Yankees but America's youth. My team, however, is devoid of abusers (as far as I know). And probably because of that, I fully expect to finish in the middle of the league - somewhere between 5th and 7th. Or maybe 8th. Or 9th. Or...

Anyway... here is the cast of characters, lumped into 3 groups. The 1st group is the teams to beat - CLEARLY the two best teams. After the top two guys the field seems VERY VERY tight and hard to predict. The other two groups are according to their drafting tactics: People who focused on bulking up a couple key categories (i.e. power, speed, starters) vs. people who tried to maintain balance across the categories.

Group 1 - The Teams to Beat

The Liberal Elite - Surprise! Fittingly, the Liberal Elite is a real-life Liberal Elite who also happens to have a Liberal commish-ing style (or should I say borderline radical fascist) and about a dozen Elite players. He's fixed the rules so he can't lose, plus he's got a sick squad with monster numbers, i.e. Rolen, Ortiz, Berkman, Kent. He's got four monster starters (i.e. Randy Johnson) and four monster closers (i.e. Jose Mesa), blah blah blah blibbety blah. Like Bonds, he didn't need to cheat. The balance on his pitching staff is PERFECT. Thankfully, as we learned last year, anything can happen in the post-season. (Bwaa ha ha!)

Lock & Load - My Boy Blue's team is DEEP and he'll contend in the post-season. He's a poor man's Elite. He also gets A for effort, which will be important when things get ugly with injuries and pennant races in July and August. The Load landed lots of low A-listers and high B-listers in the draft, so he's extremely deep. Beltre and Pujols are supported by guys like Sosa, Walker and Jeter. He has a nice sleeper in Griffey. The pitching is the same way - loaded with almost top-tier guys like Sheets, Hudson and Benitez. Plus he took Dave Roberts in the round that I was gonna nab him. @#$%!

Group 2 - "Focused" Strategies

GoingGoingGonorrhea - G3 is STACKED on offense with six 30/100 guys. His AVG/OPS is excellent too. He would be on the other side of the line if the pitching matched. After Schmidt and Lidge there's a drop off, but still lots of Ws. Nice sleeper with Jared Wright too. G3 is just one trade away from the top tier.

The Manic Photons - This would be a pretty cool team in real life, built around batting average and speed. The Photes have guys like Ichiro, Pierre and Abreu who will bring lots of wins in the SBs, Rs, and AVG categories. She's thin on quality starters but has focused on relief pitching with A-List closers Cordero and Isringhausen. It's doable, but definitely an uphill climb.

The Rebel Alliance - I have to open the season against the Alliance, and I'm not feeling good about it. Her pitching staff will be frustratingly inconsistent over the long haul - relying on Colon, Mussina and Prior (already on the DL) - but they'll be dangerous on any given week. The key Alliance weapon is her hitters. She is 30/100 crazy wild insane with dudes like Guerrero, Thome, Alou, etc. Not bad in the speed categories either. Fun team to manage too, because it's stocked with Sox.

Nucleophilic Attack - The pitching staff is built around 6 really good relievers, which is definitely creative. He's guaranteed the S and WHIP categories every week. The Nuke's lineup has no true A listers outside of Soriano - but like the Load's team, it's deceptively deep. There are excellent SBs and Rs and 30/100 guys like Aramis Ramirez, Aubrey Huff, and Chipper Jones.

Petrograd Bolsheviks - The Vix are the flip side of the Nukes (ha ha). Rather than relievers, the pitching focus is on quality starters - maybe the best in the league after the Elite. Only Gagne is there for relief - which may be good enough to beat any team except the Nuke in the S category. The Vix strategy could definitely work, especially in the playoffs. His hitting is huge with A-Rod, Edmonds and a bunch of 30/90 guys. If anyone can crack the Top 2, it's the Vix.

Group 3 - "Balanced" Strategies

Havana Daydreamers - The Dreamer clearly knows what he's doing. He's got a solid starter at EVERY position. The top half of his staff is ridiculous, with Santana, Beckett, K-Rod, and Percival, and ya gotta love his sleeper pick, Andy Pettitte. Unfortunately the Dreamer has been creamed by hard luck: He had a crummy draft position... he was hurt the most by the Commish's highly questionable category changes... then he lost Bonds for half the season. I'm keeping my eye on him though.

Embodied Systems - The Systems are closest to my team in terms of strategy, balance and talent. Like the Dealers, the Systems can win in any category in any given week. He is anchored by Manny and Schilling with heavy support from guys like Teixeira and Mora. Very nice pen with Nathan and Kolb. And I like the loyal Sox picks of Matt Clement and Wade Miller - I didn't have the guts to choose them. It's gonna be a war when we play each other.

Who's Your Dealer - My stud is Beltran - same as last year - but I have many many question marks after that. The marquee names on my team look better than their numbers. Essentially I'm relying on the aforementioned old guys to repeat big years. Hence my basement potential. My sleepers are Kazmir, Halladay, Smoltz and Andruw Jones. And I'm secretly thinking Matsui could have an MVP season. (Shhh!)

There you have it, Blue.

Vintage Vassar, just minutes after Foulke-to-Mientkiewicz. L-R: Katie, team name Manic Photons... Andrew, Liberal Elite (and commish)... Tyler, Embodied Systems... Adam, Nucleophilic Attack... and Kelly, The Rebel Alliance. Posted by Hello