Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hate to Say It, but...

The rumored Mike Cameron for Gary Sheffield trade kinda made sense. The Mets would get a natural right fielder to go with Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltran, and the Yankees would get a natural center fielder to go with Hideki Matsui in left and Ruben/Bubba/Bernie taking over in right. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning this trade, because I'm a huge fan of Sheff. But, it does make sense, providing Cameron keeps up his nice homerun/ribbie/OPS numbers. And, the Yankees would get to start paring down salaries, getting new blood in the clubhouse, etc. Now, with all that said, it's not going to happen. And that's just fine with me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Backup Catchers: Know Your Role, Shut Your Hole

Evan was just giving me hell for never writing about John Flaherty, the Yankees' backup catcher. I think it's because he doesn't want to be the only one with a crush on a backup backstop...

In any case, here is what you want from a backup catcher:

1. He'll call a good, solid game. This guy pays attention and studies every batter so much and spends so much time with the pitchers on the bench that they inherently trust him. You won't see anyone shaking him off. I guarantee it.
2. You want someone who won't complain about playing time. He'll take what is given to him.
3. You want a guy who goes out there once, maybe twice a week, who doesn't want the spotlight. He doesn't seek the airtime after the game, either. However, he will be articulate and unfailingly polite when he gets it.
4. He will never take credit for anything. Rather, he will talk about how all those around him work hard and that his own success is all owed to them.
5. He will take the fall for a bad outing, simply to save the ego of the bigtime pitcher.
6. He doesn't get in big contract or arbitration battles. He'll sign his $800,000 - $1,500,000 a year contract, say thank you, and never speak about it again.
7. He'll get a hit or two, staying above the Mendoze (aka Thome) line at all times. He may even get a game winner (see: July 1, 2004 against the Sox aka The Jeter game)
8. If he's a veteran, he'll help the kid out, discussing pitch selection, footwork, and how to not be a dick.
9. He'll help the coaches out, offering insight on the opponents and strategy.
10. He'll be in the bad baseball network shows (read: Kids on Deck, YES Network) when all the other superstars don't want to be.

All I can say is that John Flaherty fulfills this role. He goes about his business professionally, with grace, and without complaint. He helps out the younger guys when needed. He'll cover up a pitcher's bad outing or even take the fall himself. He's the consumate team player. I salute you John. Like I salute a trusted wingman.

Responses to your Emails

No, it didn't seem worth mentioning that the Sox are now in 1st place. The point being, IT'S STILL JUNE PEOPLE!!

Yes, I was at the Friday nite game in Philly when they moved ahead of the Os. Section 206, 2nd level next to the RF pole, right smack in the midst of a very vocal Sox Nation (which accounted for 50% of the crowd). AMAZING NIGHT! Manny was making crazy catches and bopping taters, so I was in baseball heaven. Shout out to my boyz Sully and Sam from Walpole.

No, I don't agree with Dan Shaughnessy that the Sox are now going to run away with it. In fact I'm at the point where whatever Dan Shaughnessy says, my brain will reflexively create the opposite opinion. Given the salary imbalances, I can't explain how parity got here, but it's a blessing. It looks to me like we're going to have thrilling division, wildcard and pennant races all across the board.

Yes, I'm WAY down on Boston Dirtdogs. For example, why they have been picking on Manny this season is beyond baffling to me. The all-too human savior is in our midst and the Romans are nailing him to the cross. Just stick to funny headlines and Yankee-hating, guys. Please.

No, I don't hate Bellhorn, I'm just wondering out loud why we aren't giving some other guys a shot at his job. There are definitely some gaping holes in his game.

Yes, Foulke freaks me, and last night's Injuns debacle is Exhibit #241-D. As Blue has noted, the whole notion of a closer whose Out pitch is a change-up is scary to me. It all seems to hinge too much on a constant, delicate, fine-tuning of the arm motion. But when he's on, he's on. You know and I know he was the MVP of the World Series. It's worth the wait. In the meantime, try to enjoy the Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride. Keep telling yourself that the journey, not the destination, is the adventure.

No, I don't think the Yankees are done. Even though they've stunk, they're only 6 back, a gap they can easily close in a 10-game span. I'm not doomsaying. Several teams have done EXACTLY that already this year, and we're not even halfway. And the Yankees still have the best team on paper.

Yes, I voted for Johnny D over Ichiro for the 3rd AL outfield spot (after Manny and Vlad). Just compare their numbers.

Sox down: The Bullpen, The Millers
Sox up: Everybody else

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tony Womack and Joe Torre: Driving Me CRAZY

Joe Torre drives me bananas. Particularly as it pertains to one Tony Womack. Why the hell is this guy out there? He SUCKS! I know that. You know that. We all know that. Does Joe know that? I think he does. I think he's keeping him out there to prove some god-awful point, cutting off the nose to spite the face. He's saying: "Hey, I wanted you guys to keep Miguel Cairo around, but noooooo, you didn't. You went out and got me Tony Freakin' Womack. Well, if that's how you want it, fine, I'll play him. Every day. It doesn't matter if he's got a grand total of 5 extra-base hits. It doesn't matter if he's got all of eleven RBIs all season. It doesn't matter that if he's got an OBP of .273! You got him even though I didn't want him. Tough shit. Deal with it." And, he won't put a rookie in the outfield because he fundamentally has a problem with doing so, as evidenced by that notoriously quick hook of his. God forbid he lets any of them play more than one game in a row to prove themselves. Man, I'm so pissed off about this. It's driving me absolutely crazy!!! ARRRGH!!!!

Memo to Tito, RE: All-Star Lineup

Dude. The power to get home field advantage is in your hands. This is a very winnable game. Follow these simple instructions and we’ll be looking at a Game 7 in Fenway. I know you have to start the pretty boys who the fans voted for, but get the gamers into the lineup as fast as you can! Here’s the ideal scenario:

C – If you want to win, start Varitek. And you’re doing well with I-Rod off the bench. But don’t go deeper than that. No Pierzynski, no Mauer, no Victor Martinez. Don’t mess with anything like that.
1B – Take Teixera as far as you can go with him. Konerko comes in later in the game. No Travis Hafner or Erstad or any of those lightweights. OK, if you have to, use Erstad. But no Palmeiro.
2B – Brian Roberts has to start, but get Soriano in the game as fast as you can, and leave him there. No Bret Boone, no Chone Figgins, no Tag Iguchi.
SS – Tejada baby. Jeter comes in later, but get Tejada three at-bats. If you have to go deeper, go with ER or Cabrera for the experience.
3B – It has to be A-Rod. He could homer early. But since we’ll need clutch hitting later, bring in Mota off the bench. Keep Blalock and Huff on the pine. Don't invite Chavez.
OF – Manny, Johnny D and Guerrero. After a couple of swings, bring Ichiro in for Manny. If you have a lead, bring Torii Hunter in for Johnny D to protect the alleys. If you’re behind, Matsui or Sheffield can go deep. And just in case you need to manufacture one run, keep Crawford on the bench. Podsednik has to sit.
DH – Papi baby. And leave him in the WHOLE GAME – no substitutes.
SP – Halladay starts, you’ll get 3 flawless innings. Trust me on this one. Then get 2 from Santana. I know you have to play the White Sox, so give Buehrle and Garland each an inning. But put them on a short leash.
RP – Give the Big Unit an inning, he knows how to get tough hitters out. PLEASE don’t play Clement, it will mess up his head for the rest of the year. And the following guys could implode, so don’t let them ANYWHERE near the mound: Shields, Bonderman, Bartolo Colon, Wickman, Guardado, F-Rod. And I know you’re not thinking about using Foulke… Right? RIGHT? Don’t use any middle relievers like Timlin, either. Go with the real starters for 1 inning each. Close with Mariano… don’t use anyone else, even if they have twice as many saves. They’re all pretenders.

Thanks. See you in October.
E

Monday, June 27, 2005

Red is Ready

Open Ended:
1. What is your current state of being, as it refers to baseball?
Never enjoyed a season more. Come to think of it, I never enjoyed a season.
2. Do you think the Red Sox will win it all again this year?
They can do it, but it depends if they're still hungry. Right now, the ChW, LAA and StL all seem hungrier.
3. If you had to build a new franchise around any single Red Sox player, who would it be and why?
Varitek. Because he's a leader and his presence can make or break an entire pitching staff.
4. What do you miss about being a fan of the team that "hasn't won since 1918"?
Nothing.
5. If you had to choose between Boston never winning another World Series or Syracuse never getting to another final four, which would it be?
Syracuse never getting to another final four. Only because my Sox allegiance started a few years before my SU allegiance... if we're splitting hairs, it runs a little deeper.
6. Do you think anyone on last year's Red Sox team used steroids? If so, who?
Yes, every team has 'em. Performance trends and injuries would point to Kapler, Millar, Nomar, Mientkiewicz, Pokey, Williamson, Embree. And (gasp) Schilling.
7. Cubs or White Sox?
Is that like Ginger or Mary Ann? White Sox.
8. Why do you hate the Yankees?
From 1977-82, player arrogance. From 1970-76 and 1983-95, there was no reason to hate them. From 1996-04, fan arrogance and bandwagoning. In 2005, fans backstabbing the players.
9. How do you feel about A-Rod?
A sure Hall-of-Famer who could be remembered as an ALL-TIME GREAT if he looks in the mirror and finds - instead of a pretty boy - his inner clutchness.
10. If you could have dinner with any 4 baseball players, alive or dead, who would they be and why?
Joe Carter - to find out how a season-ending walk-off feels. I practiced it in my backyard for 17 years. Manny - for being Manny. Millar - for some LOL about '04. Shoeless Joe - to find the truth!! Can I bring Yaz and Ted to pick up the tab?

Word Association:
1. John Henry
Just another Thurston Howell III buying himself toys. Two points for the Evil Empire comment.
2. Theo Epstein
Jimmy Neutron. Nothin' but love.
3. Tito
Hey, he never stopped believin'. Nothin' but love.
4. Tek
Glad he's on my team. Nothin' but love.
5. Manny
I love him so much IT MAKES ME CRY. Nada pero amor.
6. Big Papi
Clutch with a hug. Nada pero amor GRANDE!
7. Millar
Glad he's on my team. Nothin' but love.
8. Johnny D
Love on several levels...
9. Schilling
THE REASON WE ARE COMPLETE. If I ever meet him I will hug him and kiss his lacerated ankle.
10. Wells
Donuts. Big oozing grape jelly donuts. With spam.
11. Jeter
Gamer. Captain America.
12. Steinbrenner
Thurston Howell - with WS rings.
13. Hideki Matsui
Underrated - master of the little things.
14. Fenway
Home away from home.
15. 1918
Woodrow Wilson.
16. Green Monster
Those seats!
17. Boston DirtDogs
Funny... until somebody gets hurt.
18. Sam Horn
Old school.
19. Dave Roberts
Jay Payton.
20. And to close it out: Foulke
Indiana Jones.

Questions for Red

Open Ended:
1. What is your current state of being, as it refers to baseball?
2. Do you think the Red Sox will win it all again this year?
3. If you had to build a new franchise around any single Red Sox player, who would it be and why?
4. What do you miss about being a fan of the team that "hasn't won since 1918"?
5. If you had to choose between Boston never winning another World Series or Syracuse never getting to another final four, which would it be?
6. Do you think anyone on last year's Red Sox team used steroids? If so, who?
7. Cubs or White Sox?
8. Why do you hate the Yankees?
9. How do you feel about A-Rod?
10. If you could have dinner with any 4 baseball players, alive or dead, who would they be and why?


Word Association:
1. John Henry
2. Theo Epstein
3. Tito
4. Tek
5. Manny
6. Big Papi
7. Millar
8. Johnny D
9. Schilling
10. Wells
11. Jeter
12. Steinbrenner
13. Hideki Matsui
14. Fenway
15. 1918
16. Green Monster
17. Boston DirtDogs
18. Sam Horn
19. Dave Roberts
2o. And to close it out: Foulke

Friday, June 24, 2005

Blue's Answers

Here you go...

1. Summarize your overall state of being here on planet earth.

Pleasantly buzzed...
2. What is your current thinking on order of finish for AL East, and AL playoff outcome?

Finish order: Boston, Yankees, Orioles, Toronto, Devil Rays
Playoff outcome: Minnesota beats Boston, Texas beats Chicago, Minnesota beats Texas
3. If I had asked you on April 1, how many Yankee wins would you have projected by June 24?

47. Thanks for rubbing it in.
4. Top 3 things/people you blame; Top 3 things/people you don't blame

I don't blame people. Dirtdogs do. Just kidding! I blame Steinbrenner, Cashman, and Torre. They should have known that 3 NL pitchers would get shelled in the AL. They also should know that you can't keep mucking with the lineup! And, what the hell is with the Tony Womack experiment? Enough, already!!! They guy stinks. Put Bernie back in center and get your lineup solidified! Sheesh.
I don't blame A-Rod. I don't blame Bernie. I don't blame Giambi.
5. What can they do to get their mojo back?
Get rid of Womack, choose a lineup and stick with it. Play that lineup every single day, with the exception of Posada. Rest him twice a week. Flaherty can handle it and it will keep him fresh for August and Septemeber.


Word association game:
- Giambi
Sad
- Randy

Overpaid (and not Beltran)
- A-Rod

Underappreciated
- Womack

Shouldn't be playing
- Tino

Better than Russ Johnson
- Posada

Toad
- Bernie

Put him back in center!
- Sheffield

Napoleon
- Godzilla

Great DH
- Jeter

Money
- Cano

Tradebait
- Long Duk Dong (or whatever)

Quit making fun of my people!
- Mariano

Number 1
- Flash

Gives me ulcers
- Bullpen

Blecchh
- Starters

Blecchh / I miss Lieber, Pettite, Vasquez, and Weaver
- George

Best Owner in the game
- Mets

Why can't they get good pitching?
- New stadium
Current stadium is old, old, old. Plus, why give money to the owners of the Royals and Devil Rays? After all, they don't spend it on their team, they just put it in their pockets...
- Manny

With the possible exception of Brandon Inge, he's my favorite player
- Rotisserie

Chicken

Blue's Clues

Well Blue,

Baseball is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, cloaked in wonder, and found in a box of crackerjacks. We're almost at the halfway point and against all preconceived notions of the 2005 season, I'm wondering if you might slash your wrists. I'm glad you are kicking everyone's butt in the fantasy league. As your resident pop-psychoanalyst, I think that's keeping you glued together. As for me, I'm not ready to daydream about a matching set of rings yet, and I'm sinking in the fantasy league standings like an angry camel in quicksand. Having said that...

I'm standing by my original playoff picks. I still say the Yankees finish with the best record in the AL, but only with 99. They will put it together big-time in Aug and early Sept. How can they NOT with that lineup, plus a steaming hot Unit? They ARE very weird, what with the 20-run blow-outs, followed almost every time by 5-run losses. But the Yankees are neither down nor out. In fact, considering everything, they are FRIGHTENINGLY close. However, they won't be able to handle Bos, Min OR Tex in the playoffs. And for the record, I do NOT believe in the Os or the ChW. But I do believe in StL, mostly due to their pitching.

Q&A for Blue:

1. Summarize your overall state of being here on planet earth.
2. What is your current thinking on order of finish for AL East, and AL playoff outcome?
3. If I had asked you on April 1, how many Yankee wins would you have projected by June 24?
4. Top 3 things/people you blame; Top 3 things/people you don't blame
5. What can they do to get their mojo back?

Word association game:
- Giambi
- Randy
- A-Rod
- Womack
- Tino
- Posada
- Bernie
- Sheffield
- Godzilla
- Jeter
- Cano
- Long Duk Dong (or whatever)
- Mariano
- Flash
- Bullpen
- Starters
- George
- Mets
- New stadium
- Manny
- Rotisserie

Thursday, June 23, 2005

We Sweep-um Injuns

The Sox-Injuns were, surprisingly, broadcast on the Ocho last nite. And it was, unexpectedly, a really good one. And the Sox, remarkably, got the sweep in a game they shouldn't have won. By the 6th, the Injuns, shockingly, looked like they didn't want to be there. And finally, serendipitously(!?), the Os and Yanks were losing to the Js and Rays.

Highlights:

- There were some small signs of life from each of "The Millers." But even better was that the game was won outright by the holy newcomer trinity of Payton, ER and Olerud.
- Payton did a dead-on impersonation of Dave Roberts, legging out a clutch triple late in the game. ER has hit his stride - he's now Steady Eddie in the field and has a consistent, reliable power stroke. Olerud is a pro baby. He's Charlie Brown, but he's a pro.
- Just when I though Tito would be happy with 2 out of 3 - mainly because I would have been happy with 2 out of 3 - he pulled the big dogs out of the bullpen to go for the jugular and the sweep (he brought in Foulke when it was tied... hmm... zen master or zoo mudster, you make the call).
- Tito was also Mr. Nick-of-time. Miller was just about to implode (badly) when he yanked him. Against all expectations, Embree escaped unscathed from bases loaded no outs... then in the next inning Tito yanked him just before HE was going to implode. Then Timlin and Myers (yes Myers!) were money. And Foulke was a one-man Indiana Jones adventure again, but somehow it works. Go figure. Two points for Tito for keeping the faith in all of them.

About Miller - I don't like his pitching mechanics or his mound demeanor. He reminds me of the way my buddies pitched in high school. He gets my vote for long relief when Schilling comes back.

High point of the game - When Olerud hit his 1st Sox dinger - a clutch one - and had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT TO DO when Big Papi gave him the bear hug. Could he BE any whiter?

Please add to the MLB death match wish list - David Wells vs the fat closer from the Injuns. I'd pay good money to see it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

To Use or Not To Use?

Whenever Red and I talk about players, we always question whether or not they used/use steroids. Whether it's because they're not peforming the way they used to, the way their bodies have changed, or if they're always injured, the steroid era has made us ultra-aware of baseball players and keeps us wondering if those players decided to get a little extra boost. Here are our findings:

Definites:
1. Jason Giambi - He admitted using without admitting. Plus, he sucks now.
2. Gary Sheffield - He did admit it.
3. Barry Bonds - C'mon!

Probable
1. Curt Schilling - Why can't he pitch? Why can't he heal?
2. Scott Rolen - What's up with injury and lack of production?
3. Adrian Beltre - Last year vs. this year = Jekyll vs. Hyde
4. Rafael Palmiero - Just because he had to testify.
5. Sammy Sosa - Performance, injury, etc. Plus, after corking, what's a little juice?
6. Nomar Garciaparra - He's always hurt. Always.
7. Armando Benitez - Ouch.
8. Jim Thome - Season Stats: 5 Dingers, .218 Average, .724 OPS - 'Nuff Said!
9. Kevin Millar - As streaky as they come.
10. Bret Boone - From first to worst.
11. Mike Lowell - Compare the stats from the past 3 years to this year.
12. Jeff Bagwell - Lost around 35 pounds between 2003 and 2004.

Maybe
1. Mark Prior - If it's not one injury, it's another.
2. Andy Pettitte - Nothing like when he was with the Yankees. Nothing.
3. Eric Gagne - Blew his arm out because his body couldn't handle the strain.
4. Juan Gonzalez - HAHAHAHHA
5. Ken Griffey, Jr. - I don't care if you're always active, your hammy's should heal.
6. Dan Kolb - Blech. Either it's 'roids or he's a head case. Either way, he blows.
7. Pudge - Have you seen the after pictures?
8. Kerry Wood - Forget about 20 K games. Where are the 8 K games?
9. Mike Piazza - Poor guy can't even throw to second!
10. Lance Berkman - Injuries and a huge performance dropoff
11. Kevin Brown - Anger issues = Roid rage

Masking Agents
1. Brian Roberts - Where did he come from? Brady Anderson, here we come!
2. Roger Clemens - The guy is a dinosaur and he still keeps pitching like a madman!
3. Derrick Lee - Triple Crown? He's hitting .100 above his career!
4. Carlos Lee - Huh? Where did he come from?
5. A-Rod - Just because he can afford it!



Acid Flashback

This is kinda weird: We were also 40-30 on this date last year. How do I know? It's my birthday! Seems like we were recovering from a serious swoon and just starting to head in the right direction. Then July ended up being ugly anyway.

For reference, I noticed this morning that we are back in the wildcard slot, and we'd also be the wildcard in the NL. We would be 2nd in every division, but 1st in the NL West.

The Yankees did another monster Run pile-up last nite. Seems they do that once a week. I guess that's how they work out all their anxieties. Overall, it's kinda getting interesting. The Js are beating up on the Os a little bit which is making things tight. Whatever. It beats the Yankees already being ahead by 14 games (which is what is should be). And yes, Arroyo beat the Injuns last nite and is back to being Arroyo.

Today's theory: If we can fix the Millers we'll be sittin' pretty. And by Millers, I mean Miller, Mueller, Millar. And Bellhorn. He's a token Miller.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Injuns

Nice win last night, because Cleveland is arguably the hottest team in the AL right now. Whaddya bet they can catch the ChW? I have a good feeling that Bronson can keep it going. This is a good test for him. I'm also pretty happy with the starters right now, for the most part. Over the weekend, Wake pitched like a Greek God but got no support, while Mr. Miller was shaky and the bats had to bail him out. And don't listen to the idiots on TV - Manny is Money. Embree and Foulke both have a couple of decent outings under their belts now, so maybe the worst of that is over. But probably not - I'm starting to emotionally prepare for the 2nd-half roller coaster!

Another plus sign - we're suddenly within 2 games of the Os. I'm really looking forward to playing them head to head. In fact, we may have to go to Baltimore for the next series. Another possibility - Sox/Phillies in the Ballpark this weekend!

But don't look over your shoulder folks - I think I hear a freight train comin'! Until last night's loss to the D-Rays, the Yankees were winning, and winning all types of games. Nailbiters, blow-outs, even a few 7th inning comebacks that set up Flash and Mariano. Kinda like the real Yankees used to do...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Around the Bellhorn

Tonite, Miller can make it 5 straight butt-kickin’, ginger-snappin’, Tabasco-flavored starts. How cool would THAT be? He was the last one to get shelled, against ChiC last week. And Schilling’s back with the team. So right at this little snapshot in time in Sox history, things are lookin’ rosy.

1B – We’re lucky to have Olerud. Did I already say that? For whatever reason, Millah can’t seem to shoulder the load for a full season. Having said that, I’ll be glad to have BOTH of them come Sept.

2B – I am Mr. Positive this year, but this is a weak spot. Why not give Vazquez a little more PT? And Youk doesn’t look too bad there, either. Come on Tito, it’s not as if Bellhorn’s a genius with the leather. Can Hanley Ramirez from Portland play 2nd? I know he hasn't been hitting well, but he's probably frustrated... why not bring him up now to get a taste?

SS – I’m happy. Yes I am. 5 points for Theo. And we know ER is clutch because he got the season-ending walk-off hit in the Marlins series.

3B – Billy Mill lives! But I’d still like to see him win a game or two single-handedly, just to make sure he still can. And why not get the AVG up to at least .300? I love you bro, but bring me the AVG.

Queer Eye

A bunch of people asked me about the Queer Eye episode, and I remember promising a review during Spring Training, so I’ll oblige. The coolest thing about it was how much personality the Sox bring to the table. They are legitimate international rock-stars. But other than the fact that it was about the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox – which makes me grin like the Cheshire cat and shake my head in disbelief– it really wasn’t all that much funnier than a regular episode. Not that I’ve ever watched a whole episode.

Some thoughts:

- Varitek is underachieving with that wife. Holy Precolay. Follow Johnny D’s lead and go for the upgrade, bro.
- Millar is one guy on this planet I would LOVE to hang with, even for 5 minutes. What a great teammate. But what was up with that fairy dance? Once maybe. But over and over?
- I realize that I know nothing about this – but didn’t those clothes SUCK? I laughed out loud when Mirabelli said he wouldn’t wear it. And 3 points to Johnny D for correctly questioning the stripe-on-stripe look. He looked like pimp daddy.
- High moment #1 – Carson Kressly (sp?) copping a not-too-subtle feel of Johnny’s supple, rippling, muscled pecs. And Johnny not objecting.
- High moment #2 – The look on the little leaguers’ faces when they found out they were scrimmaging the Red Sox – I actually choked up on that one.
- High moment #3 – Johnny D moonwalking.
- Low moment – Where were Manny and Papi? How can we even THINK about getting a makeover without those guys? Man oh Manny - the comedy he would have delivered just by being Manny. It makes my face hurt just thinking about it. I’ll trade you Wake and Belli for Manny and Papi. Right now, and do the whole thing again.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New Stadiums

Here are some things that are bouncing around my head. I listened to this on sportstalk radio driving home last night, and I don't think callers were asking the right questions.

- The Mets and Yankees are getting new stadiums. Do the Mets & Yankees NEED new stadiums? Are they having trouble making their #1 and #3 payrolls? Don't cities have rules about tearing things down that are currently useful and fully functioning?
- I remember a chunk of concrete fell in the bleachers in Yankee stadium the year before last. Did they ever fix that?
- Tell me if I heard this right: There's a loophole in the luxury payroll tax rule that says that instead of putting the excess tax in the league salary pool, the Yankees - since I think they are the only team that pays luxury tax - can instead "invest" that money in the local community. For example, by building a new stadium in the Bronx. Am I hearing that right? Yes/No
- Exactly how does building a stadium bring new jobs to the community? Won't the same people be selling hot dogs and t-shirts? Maybe it brings new construction jobs during the year it takes to build the stadium... but would those construction workers otherwise be out of work? Wouldn't they just be building something else?
- If I were a Yankee fan I would want them to call the new stadium Yankee Stadium. Why would they consider anything else? As a Sox fan in search of the elusive "amusement" factor, however, Verizon Park or Steinbrenner Field would be highly enjoyable. (As for Shea Stadium... WHO CARES?)

BTW - as long as I'm goofing on New Yorkers, here's a story on me. If you had asked me one year ago today, I would have voted to build a new stadium in Boston. I particularly liked the idea of turning Fenway into a museum and park across the street from the new stadium - with the Mawnstah intact. My reason: because I believe the left-field wall yields too many cheap doubles and blocks too many homers. It changes the game too much, and I think has historically been a disadvantage to the Sox. Plus, admit it, it's pretty grungy. Especially underneath.

But now that we got our World Series championship ring? KEEP FENWAY FOREVAH. OK, so... I'm a hypocrite. What are you?

Monday, June 13, 2005

The June Swoon

I can't wait until we're past this National League nonsense and back to reality. I could whine and say the AL East's draw of the NL Central - with an imbalance of home/away games - will adversely impact the wildcard race. (It will... but I won't.) And after we're done with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, we have to go visit our red-hot "rival" in Philadelphia - a team that, like the Braves, no one else in the AL East has to play. Hmm...

Having said that, if there was one series I would have liked to go to this year, it was the Cubs-Sox at Wrigley. It looked like a blast this weekend - even Nomar was smiling. Gee, do you think we might have anything in common with Cubs fans? I guarantee we would have made some new friends and would have been chatting non-stop. A baseball rivalry based on commiseration and mutual affection - imagine that!

Theo went on record this weekend as saying he's running out of patience. But I have to think he's just talking to make it look good. Hey Theo - you let Pedro and Lowe go, now you have to pay the price. You know better than anyone that the Sox can actually be worse than they were last year and still win it all! If he's like me, Theo won't REALLY begin to fret until either the Orioles or Yankees start to put it together. And neither of them are showing even the slightest sign. Even if the Big Unit really is back, who picks up the slack on days 2 through 5? And Sidney Ponson? Puh-LEEZ.

In many ways, this season is playing into the Sox' hands. I know it's not text book, but they are clearly still hung over from last year and pacing themselves. Thankfully, they've proven that they can summon the energy - and the magic - whenever they need it. And that makes me feel good about August and September. Remember, it's all about pitching, kids. And since we may not be able to count on Schilling at all this year, the million-dollar question is whether Clement, Wakefield, Arroyo, Miller and Wells will be there to answer the call. Does that rotation look weak to you? Funny... because the only pitching staffs that look any better to me are in the National League.

Sox up: Johnny D, Wells, Youk, Mike Myers
Sox down: Bellhorn, Arroyo, Halama, Mantei

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

*sigh*

Monday, June 06, 2005

Evan and Nathan's Monday Morning IM

Evan: the 2005 yankees are an UNBELIEVABLE greek tragedy
Nathan: yes
Evan: you know who they kind of remind me of though? the 2004 Red Sox, who were also at .500 and falterning at this point last year
Nathan: and they unbelievably suck
Evan: faltering
Nathan: sucking
Evan: they started an impromptu chant of yankees suck at the mets game last nite on espn... didn't know that was a mets thing
Evan: maybe they are one game better at the moment and feeling superior? hmm

Nathan: yeah
Nathan: and, the yankees suck
Nathan: I'm a little miffed at torre
Nathan: he's pulling a freakin' bobby valentine move this year
Nathan: shuffling and shuffling and shuffling the freakin' lineup
Nathan: quit it, JOE!
Evan: agree
Nathan: I'll blog my lineup
Evan: if they released giambi - do you think anyone would pick him up?
Nathan: no
Nathan: someone will not
Nathan: here's my order:
Nathan: leadoff - jeter
Nathan: a-rod second
Nathan: matsui third
Nathan: sheff fourth
Nathan: DH fifth
Nathan: posada 6th
Nathan: tino 7th
Nathan: cano 8th
Nathan: womack 9th
Evan: who are the dh's
Nathan: who knows?
Nathan: :)
Nathan: bernie, sierra, and giambi
Nathan: all can bat leftie
Evan: sheff 3rd, matsui 4th - sheff deserves more ABs
Nathan: so it mixes it up rightie/leftie/rightie
Nathan: can’t do 3 righties in a row
Evan: he sierra comes back hot, that could be a sparkplug
Nathan: YUP
Nathan: he just needs the bats
Nathan: and torre needs to give them to him
Nathan: he can get SUPER hot
Nathan: williams isn't going to get hot
Nathan: and giambi isn't
Nathan: they've proven it
Nathan: sierra is MONEY
Evan: how about bernie in left... bench womack... cano at 2nd
Nathan: I like that
Nathan: womack and cano can platoon
Evan: one of those 3 has to go
Nathan: yup
Nathan: left is tough, though
Nathan: because it's so big
Evan: if they release giambi, do they have to pay him? was his contract guaranteed?
Nathan: it's not like fenway where you only have 200 square feet to patrol... ;)
Nathan: they do pay him
Nathan: they'd be better off trading him
Nathan: and eating a HUGE portion of his contract
Evan: yeah, but shorter throw than from the monuments
Nathan: they could probably trade him to oakland
Nathan: true, dat.
Evan: they shouldn't wait til july 31... they could be done by then
Nathan: williams throws like a freakin' girl.
Evan: they are gonna go on a massive winning streak... they are the 2004 sox... all this potential roiling beneath the surface
Nathan: we'll see
Nathan: :)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Charlie Brown

Jon Olerud is now a contributing Sox guy. And I'll bet you $1,918 - no wait, $2,000 - that the Yankees wish they had him as a backup for Tino. He's not going to quite be Men-ka-witz with the glove, but close. And he'll be better with the bat. Apparently Millar has been very professional with the whole thing... which he'd better be given his mighty .230-2-22 numbers. (Robert the Yankee fan says Millar has steroid withdrawal - and it's hard to dispute.)

But whenever I picture Olerud hanging out in the Sox clubhouse, I laugh out loud. It's like Charlie Brown stumbling into a Harley-Davidson rally. During Smith & Wesson season.

Playing Favorites

It's June and we have resolved nothing. We don't even have a trend that points toward something being resolved. Which is fun. We played the Yanks and O's dead-even this week and even made some dramatic statements along the way. We're pretty much even with both of them head-to-head, and all three are reasonably tight in the standings. At this point, the whole thing is far more plot twisty - and entertaining - than I could have imagined.

Here's what we know:

The O's - The O's are pretty scary. OK, very scary. They are also a very cool team. Two things I have to say about the O's: 1) Tejada. As he proved with the A's, he's the best on-field leader in the bigs. 2) Pitching. I thought it would be Ponson and the idiots. But Ponson happens to be their FIFTH-BEST starter this year. Get used to the O's, folks. They're going to gain more ground in June since the Sox and Yankees have such brutal schedules.

The Yankees - If you check back to my pre-season predictions, I thought the Yankees were embarking on a historic season. I thought they would have 40 wins by now and the Unit would have 10 Ws, and the Sox would already be thinking wildcard. If you had told me A-Rod would be leading the majors in every category, I would have said "game over." In April, I said the Yankees wanted it the most. But do they? Do the teams that want it most keep getting swept by the D-Rays and Royals? I don't know, I'm asking. Do they??

The Sox - We're a couple of games behind where we should be, which I'm fine with. We could have easily completely collapsed by now, especially with Schilling out and the Pen so inconsistent. But here's what matters: Like last year, the Sox are still #1 in clutchness, #1 in resiliency, #1 in loving each other, and #1 in picking each other up. I like that they're not as streaky as last year. This year the Sox are very consistent, which I'll take as a sign of maturity.

Handicapping - At the moment, none of these 3 have the pitching to make them a safe playoff bet. (You could reasonably argue that the Blue Jays staff is the best in the East.) The question is, does anyone out there really have better pitching? Luckily for the Sox... NO ONE DOES! Not in the AL, I don't think, though Tex, Chi and Minn are all better than last year. Not in the NL either, though Atl, Fla, StL and SD can look unhittable on any given day. (Hmm.. well maybe Florida.)

It's a wide-open field like the Kentucky Derby, where the 50-1 shot could win.

Sox up: Big Papi, ER, Miller, Olerud (yes, Olerud!)
Sox down: Arroyo, plus Millar, Bellhorn and Mueller (and a collective sigh as we survey our starters at 1B, 2B and 3B)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Called Shot

I'm looking at my fantasy baseball team and saw that Mike Timlin has no chance of getting a hold against the Orioles because Foulke blew up again in the ninth. Evan is on his way out the door with Johnny D at bat, down 4-3, a count of 2-2, no outs, and no one on base. I mention to him that Foulke stinks and he shrugs: "They'll win it in the bottom of the ninth..." Here he is... All the confidence in the world... Not a shred of doubt in his mind. What happens? Sox win it in the bottom of the 9th on a 3-run Ortiz dinger. Unbelieveable.

Insomnia

So, I couldn't sleep last night. Why? It's because I was playing the game that I really know I shouldn't. It's called the "What If" game. Here's are the rules:

* I wonder what happens if we didn't get Randy Johnson
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Javier Vasquez go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Brad Halsey go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Carlos Beltran go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't get Kevin Brown
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Jeff Weaver go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Yhency Brazoban go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't get Jason Giambi
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let David Delucci go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Mike Lowell go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Andy Petitte go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let El Duque go
* I wonder what happens if we didn't let Jose Contreras go

*snore*

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Juan Gonzalez - My Hero.

Juan Gonzalez. Here's a guy who played in a big fat 70 games in 2002, 82 games in 2003, and 33 games in 2004. In those three years, he picked up $28,000,000. That's a cool $151,351.35 per game. Just so you know, I had to use the calculator on my computer since the desk calculator I use for accounting doesn't have enough room to handle that many zeros. I'm serious. In any case, I suspect his family doesn't have to eat leftovers...

Why do I bring this up? Well, it seems he played his first game of the season yesterday, because he was recovering from yet another injury. Guess what happened? Guess. I dare ya! Well, like clockwork, in the top of the first, he hits a groundball and comes up lame running to first base. He didn't even make it to the bag!!! BWAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA!!! Genius. No matter what he says, he's laughing inside. Laughing all the way to the bank. I would call him a loser, but then I'm the sucker who makes about half of what he makes per game... *sob*