Friday, September 29, 2006

The More You Know...

I take it by Jere's silence that the metaphorical wisdom of "Saved by the Bell" has convinced him that Manny should go, and he's taking this time to pen a concession speech that sounds just the right maudlin notes, while at the same time, incorporating an allegorical truth evident only to those who spent their Saturday mornings watching "California Dreamin'"...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Get out of my school, Rod

First, I don't sound anything like this. Second, I am of the opinion (born from the fact that I can't do it myself) that badly (yet comically) overdubbing MY voice with a badly (yet more comically) overdubbed Cosby voice is the blogging equivalent of Jetes leaping into the Dunbar stands after making a not-as-good-as-Pokey catch. There I said it. I compared Jere to Jete...afterall, there's really only one letter different...hmmm.

Anyway, I was gonna write this great, mind-bending/changing post comparing Papi and Manny to Richard(Papi) and Rod(Manny) Belding, and how Richard was always there for the kids of Bayside (The Red Sox), never called in sick, always willing to help, and how the kids just took him for granted sometimes, then Rod stepped in and was "cool" and "hip" and "mercurial" and was gonna take the kids on a sweet white-water rafting trip(the World Series), but then totally no-showed at the last minute, and Richard stepped in to save the day and take the kids rafting even though it would have been dangerous and he didn't have an overnight bag packed. Or I was gonna mention the episode where Lisa Turtle (the Sox) sprained her ankle, and her dance partner (Manny) totally quit on her because he didn't think she could win, then Screech (Papi) stepped in because he really loved Lisa, and they won the dance contest while Kasey Kasem (Remy) was calling the action and everybody did The Sprain (the 2006 World Series Parade) at the end. But then I thought the metaphors involved in all that would be too difficult to decipher. And that the references themselves might be lost on Peter and Michael and John. You know, cause they're (shhhh) older.

Or I was gonna sit here with all these stats to prove that Manny was replaceable, or that he's not as good as we think he is, or that he had no RBIs in the 2004 ALCS, or that blah blah blah. But I'm not good at using Retrosheet, and really, this is what it comes down to: it's not Manny that's irreplaceable, it's his numbers that are, maybe. Let's get that straight. None of you care about Manny Ramirez. You care about Manny's OBP, homers, RBIs, etc. You don't care about the person, no matter how many stories you've read in the Globe trying to figure out who Manny really is. Manny Ramirez has never done anything for any of us, short of maybe signing an autograph, or in my case, giving me the double Manny point at Camden Yards when I drunkenly yelled his name repeatedly during a pitching change. So it's not Manny that any of us care about keeping. It's his offensive production. And it can't be replaced very easily with one guy. A couple guys, maybe, but probably not one guy. And none of us have ever been in the Sox clubhouse, and maybe Manny is such a cool, hip guy that he brings something "intangible" to the room. But maybe he doesn't. Youk, and Loretta and Lowell and A-Go and Cora, and Trot and Tek and Schill and Wake- these guys seem like blue-collar (I hate using that term when guys are making millions) players who would be annoyed by Manny's "antics." I would like to think that they would agree with me when I say that Manny being Manny is Manny being Lazy. And yeah, we don't know exactly how badly he's hurting, but his history with us has shown a willingness to play when it suits his purposes, and a hesitancy to play when it doesn't. Maybe that's just artful stringing together of coincidences to form an opinion. And maybe it's not. All I know, all we CAN know is that Manny has missed work during some pretty important stretches over the last few years, that he's refused to pinch hit (Philly, extras, '04) and that he's publicly asked to be traded more times than I remember.

He has said he does not want to play for us. What more incentive do you need to get rid of the guy? You don't think we can't replace his production with two guys who are actually happy and honored to be playing in front of fans like us every day? I know you all laugh when I make restaurant analogies (and you're right- it's a bad comparison. I actually have a job, and they play a game) but I had a bartender once that, upon being called out for rule-breaking, told the GM and me to, "Just fire [him] already!" So what'd we do? We lined up a replacement, and we fired the guy. Did it hurt the restaurant short-term (not making the playoffs in 2007)? Probably. But it set a tone that nobody is bigger than the team. And the true, dedicated professionals that work for me appreciated it. It honored the great job they do every day by refusing to tolerate the lazy and self-serving actions of someone who does not share their work ethic or loyalty or professionalism.

Did Manny make the walk-off, the clutch hit, his signature move? No. Does Manny play the game with joy and passion and humility and appreciation for the physical talent he has? No. Does he play it with appreciation for those who help pay his salary? No. Maybe I'm being too analytical about this. Maybe I'm being to heartless about all of this. I totally appreciate the numbers Manny puts up every year. I just wish we could find a person or persons not named Manny Ramirez to put these numbers up. I think he's bad for the ball club, and he doesn't want to play in Boston anyway. It's time for someone else to take us white-water rafting.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

An Evening on the Couch

As my frustration with the statistically gaudy, but fundamentally inept Patriots offense, and my abject hatred for all things Jake Plummer grew simultaneously tonight, my friend Kim asked me the following text-messaged questions which I think are very valid ones for Pats fans to consider at moments like these:

"Are we delusional? Or are we spoiled...have we won too much?"

Answers: Yes, sort of, and FUCK NO.

Of course we're delusional. When Victor Kiam owned the team, hell, when Tony Eason quarterbacked the team, I still hoped we'd win every week. When we were down 23-3 at the half in XX, I still thought we'd come back. I was not quite 10 years old, so maybe it wasn't insanity, but rather naivety, that drove that one, but still...any true fan must be a little delusional, especially at the worst of times, because it's that delusionality that drives you to watch, to keep being a fan. If we were rational about it, we never would've watched against the Rams in XXXVI because what chance did we have? Right? We were 14 point dogs to the Greatest Show on Turf but we dove over couches into the waiting arms of our delusional friends when Adam split 'em straight...you have to be insane to stitch yourself into the fabric of a season and a team as deeply as most of us do. You're just setting yourself up for future heartache. It's almost guaranteed. But we do it anyway. Because it feels so good when they don't break your heart. It's a fucked up sort of risk/reward management, but what the hell?

We are a little spoiled, but not as much as the players and coaches and owners. Yes, there is a culture of winning in Foxboro that was unheard of until about 3 years ago. As decidedly mediocre as we've been as a franchise (and we just got over .500 for the team's history like a week ago), we've certainly taken to our winning ways awfully quickly. We expect the Pats to win. I always hoped they would, but there was never that expectation when I was younger. Just getting to the playoffs after the way we started in '85 was huge, getting to the Bowl was unthinkable; same in '96; just an anomaly. Now, when Tommy doesn't lead us to glory, or when the kicks go astray (as I'm afraid they will much of the year- I'm not sold on this kicker just yet)), we're not quite sure how to handle it.

Bigger problem? The Pats, as an organization, have reached Bill Simmons' much ballyhooed and condemned "Keith Hernandez Status." You know: "Wait a minute, I can do whatever I want; I'm Keith Fuckin' Hernandez." I hate to echo what Madden said tonight, but you can't just go around cutting people, not extending contracts for loyal vets, not rewarding multiple superbowl heros; you can't just assume that your system is so foolproof that it will work no matter who you plug in there. You can't just replace Joe Andruzzi, the WR Davids, Deion, Adam, Willie, all those kinds of guys. You can't cut Troy Brown and just hope he'll wait and re-sign for less money because he loves you. He'll do it, but it sends a bad message. You have one of the best quarterbacks signing a deal for 30mil less than he could make on the open market, presumably to help the team save money to sign a great supporting cast, and what do we end up with? Stephen Gostkowski? Doug Gabriel and Reche Caldwell? James Sanders and Chad Scott? I miss Ty Law for fuck's sake...like we couldn't use him now?

Winning, especially when you feel like it's the product of an inherent system or way of doing things, always carries the risk of bloating the ego of said system's creator(s) to the point that they think the house stands up because of the blueprints, rather than because of the bricks and mortar. And I know it's classic Boston journalism to build someone up just to knock them down, and I don't want to pile on because we have won three superbowls, but Pioli and Bellichick (and Old Pink Tie/White Cuff himself up there) are operating this franchise with an arrogance that does a disservice to the all for one vibe of the XXXVI guys, while at the same time insuring that there won't be an XLI crew for us to celebrate. Right now, we don't have the personnel to operate our gameplan. It's that simple. Caldwell and Gabriel don't scare anyone, and if Graham and Watson continue to drop balls, they won't scare anyone either. I got sick of listenening to everyone harping on the Branch issue, but he was Tommy's guy, and it's pretty fucking obvious that the whole team misses him.

As for the winning too much, well, it can never happen. We have three SB rings in the last five years; a fucking Boston gold rush, the likes of which hasn't been seen since Johnny Most only smoked a pack a day. And you know what? Being eliminated from the playoffs, or losing a revenge game to the "Ohhhhhh....the Denver Broncos...." still makes me sick to my stomach. If it didn't, I wouldn't be a delusional fan. Or I'd be so spoiled that occasional disappointment wouldn't scratch the surface of my supposed post-championship glow. If losing ever doesn't bother me the way it does now, well, My Wife can call that growing up, but I'll call it dying young. So what if we're delusional, Kim; I'd rather that than just not caring enough to even watch the games. And if we have a heart attack or three along the way, well, we'll keep jumping up and down on Sundays anyway. Though they cause anxiety and grey hair, the Pats keep us acting pretty fucking young.


*Many thanks to the good folks at Three Floyds and Rogue for making this game remotely tolerable...


**Heidi, if you're reading this, and the twenty I gave you is still wet, you'll know it takes longer than that for pee to dry...

***Does anyone know when Studio 60 or Heroes will be on? I kept waiting for NBC to say something about those two shows...did I miss something?

Monday, September 18, 2006

80% of New York Sucks

Five chances to win and what happens? Yankees lose, Mets lose, Jets lose, Yankees lose again. What a great day. If the Eagles hadn't been plagued by "Donovan McNabb Signature Throw the Ball Into The Ground Action- New and Improved!" then the Giants should have lost, too, and the day would have been perfect.

My friend Kim was texting me reports direct from the Scummolands, letting me know that, "Don't worry, Matty, Jets fans are still the biggest assholes out there, worse than Yankee fans," which is a theory I've held true for years. Jets fans are like Yankees fans except they're blue collar and care about their team. But the assholeness is pure Dunbar. If I ever see Fireman John or whatever that douchebag's name is on the street, I swear I am swerving my car. J....E....T....S....Suck! Suck! Suck! Apparently the Jets fanboys were screaming at every Pats fan/female type person to, "Show us your tits!" Typical. It's Jets fans' way of suppressing their Oedipal complexes and dealing with the fact that Momma gave the last meatball to Daddy instead of them. I was thinking for a fleeting second about driving up to East Suckerford for the game, but I'm glad I didn't. I've got enough stress in my life; I don't need to get into fights with monosyllabic wannabe toughguys from Joisey, whose greatest accomplishment in life is to spell a four-letter word, one letter at a time, and then get 79,000 other monosyllabic wannabe toughguys to actually pronounce said four-letter word correctly. Wow. Your New Jersey public skool sytem everybody. Anyway, that's seven in a row for the Pats v. the Sucks, and I don't see that streak stopping anytime soon...so, if you're a Jets fan, and you stumbled across this site by accident, please hit your back button, return to the New Jersey State Correctional Institutions homepage, where you were trying to find out if it's ok to bring stuffed shells with you when you go visit your extended family in prison, and go fuck yourselves.

As for the Sox, two inspired little bits of come-backery there. Thank you for not laying down. Now the Yankees can clinch in Canada, and we all know that, techinically, that doesn't count, because, you know, it's in Canada and all. They should have to clinch again when they come back across the border. It's like rich kids of yuppy parents who spend a semester abroad in Prague before they turn 21, drink the whole time they're there because it's legal, but then have to throw a huge 21st birthday party because now they can legally drink!!! Or something like that. Anyway, who cares? I almost wanna finish third at this point, just so we're not "second to the Yankees for the ninth year in a row." Better yet, keep winning Toronto, because then the Yankees will have to clinch in Tampa Bay, which may just be worse than Canada. I don't know, I've never been to Tampa, but man, it sounds bad.

I'm still not sold on Eli Manning. That's all I have to say about that, because it's the NFC.

The Mets are getting a pass, because of my friends here who are Mets fans. I don't really care about the Mets, except for the whole '86 thing, but they haven't bothered me lately. I'd just worry about a team's ability to win the big game when it's taken them like a week, and they still haven't clinched. Behooves them to remember they won't be trying to clinch the Series vs. Zack Duke and the Bucs...

I'm off from work today, which is unbelievably weird, since I'm usually off Tuesdays. I can't remember the last time I watched Monday Night Football at home. Plus it's the Stillers tonight, so I can watch My Wife freak out and gnash her teeth, and yell her own particular brand of profanely creative venom at "Jerksonville" and the refs and whoever else pisses her off. There is nothing like a rabid, pregnant Stillers fan. I am planning to get smacked with her Terrible Towel a few times for comedically reminding her that Joey Porter still has schrapnel in his ass, or that Polamalu used to spoon, I mean room, with Carson Palmer at USC. And if Big Dumb Ben is playing, I might as well sit in a different room. I just can't not make fun of that guy. Which I really shouldn't. You know, because he's "special." (I love you honey, I just hate your team!)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Face meet Egg

So of course Becks leaves with the lead, 3-2, after 6 arduous innings. 112 pitches, five walks, but the defense bailed him out a couple times. He just might get win #15 in spite of himself...

Let's Go Shopping!

Here's a short list of things the Red Sox could buy with $30 million instead of using it for Josh Beckett's contract extension:

Mystery Box!!! - Sanjay is bringing it down the aisle right now!!!

Some land for Theo's hideout - probably just a little cheaper than Brookline...

416,840 Copies of The 2004 World Series DVD Collection - hey, remember when?

A Derek Jeter Mini Baseball for every citizen of New York City - "Leading Candidate for MVP!!! Great Christmas Gift!!!"

Or, you know, maybe a better pitcher...but what do I know?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Don't worry...nobody's listening anyway..."

I didn't see or hear the game, but I have this dream that Trup was in the EEI box, swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniel's, dropping a "Goddamn," and Castig tells him you can't say that on the air...

And on a personal, and personally cheesifying level, I just want to say that I think we all make up a pretty cool little community...everybody "hugging" Quinn the last couple days, Jere finding videos to make us smile, Peter's unassailably positive spin on everything, Michael's cummingsesque post structure...to quote Woody, "you guys are like family. In fact, you're better than family. You guys don't call me Huckleberry..." On that note, everybody drop FINY a happy thought...she could use some right now...

Back to our regularly scheduled angry, biting, jaded and sarcastic commentary tomorrow...

Oh, and fuck you Kevin, for yelling "Yankees Rule!" while driving past me walking into work today...

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Memory to Heal

Seventy-two degrees that day
in Arlington, Virginia
when a knocked-on door at ten past nine
ends my peaceful dreams.
"Get down here, right now
look at this...
I just don't believe..."
Confusion reigns on TV screens.

I rub my eyes then
stretch my back
Lighting cigarettes in the sun
on our balcony.
We smoke in silence glancing in
the half-opened sliding door
and strain our ears to hear the sounds
of far-off misery.

Then suddenly a muffled boom
one mile down the road
as we flinch giggling naively
over the din of CNN.
The Camel through, the coffee done
we barefoot back inside
then suddenly we "get" the boom
those men have struck again.

Five hours later eating lunch
still watching the TV
turned up loud enough to mask
the sirens of the Arlington FD.
Five years later eating lunch
still watching the TV
still sitting thinking trying
to understand this pointless tragedy.

It's sixty-seven degrees today
in Alexandria, Virginia
three miles and a lifetime
from where these verses started.
The drum's beat and the ringing bell
are cast into the wind
blowing slowly gently cool
to soothe the broken hearted.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

5 Sporting Reasons to Kill Yourself This Weekend

5. Penn St. vs Notre Dame. Pretty much the two college football teams I hate above all others. This is the reason ties were invented. Unfortunately, they don't have them in college football anymore. I think it was Eric Wilbur who said something like, you either love or hate Notre Dame. And if you're ambivalent, spend ten minutes with an Irish fan and you'll hate Notre Dame. So true. Although I still love "Rudy." Weird. And Joe Paterno is my fifth cousin- true story. But I still hate Happy Valley and that stupid "God is a PSU fan; otherwise, why's the sky blue and white?" Go fuck yourselves, both of you. Remember the "Catholics vs. Convicts" Miami-ND rivalry? Go convicts...

4. Maria Sharapova's Nike commercials. And tennis in general. And the fact that you can't sleep with Maria. But basically, tennis. Man, is that a boring "sport." I guess I just don't get it. Adding to WelshSoxFan's rip-off of Bill Simmon's ways to improve sports, here's my rule. You must immediately cease calling anything a sport that involves a forced quieting down of the crowd prior to action. I'm looking at you tennis and golf...can you imagine if everyone in Fenway had to shut up before Rivera pitched to Papi? Fucking ridiculous...let's see how great Tiger is with a gallery full of people chanting, "overrated" as he lines up an 18th-hole putt at Augusta on Sunday. Also, if you break for tea, you're not a sport either, cricket. Don't think I didn't know about that...

3. It's Redskins overhype time!!! That glorious time of the year when the entire DC-metro area drinks the kool-aid and convinces themselves that anything owned by Dan Snyder will ever amount to anything. Oh yeah!!! Joe Gibbs won three SuperBowls with three different quarterbacks, but none of them were Mark Brunell. I've been down here long enough, that I guess the 'Skins are my NFC team (although the NFC is the equivalent of the National League- completely irrelevent and quad-A in quality), but I don't buy into the nervous frenzy that cripples this area during football season. Dan Snyder sucks, and the Redskins go 8-8. Heard it hear first. Meaning the 8-8 part. Everyone knows Snyder's a douchebag.

2. Your balcony is surrounded by trees and you can't get DirecTV, meaning that tomorrow at 1PM, instead of watching the Pats-Bills game, you're stuck with the fucking ass-bad Ravens, cause that's your "local" AFC team. Bullshit. However, it's always funny to see Steve McNair with a helmet on. Look closely. His eyes look just like Wicket the Ewok from Return of the Jedi. I'm serious about this...

1. "The Manning Bowl." The whole NFL can go to hell. This is the most contrived thing I have ever seen. It's like the NFL suddenly realized what all of us already know- no team led by a Manning will ever go to the Superbowl, meaning that without the league's intervention, there was no way these two idiots would ever play each other. That family sucks; all five of them. I'm looking at you, Archie and Olivia, and Peyton and Eli and you, too, dumb looking younger guy hanging around in the shadows of your choking dog family. First-time blow jobbers don't choke as bad as the "superstars" in this family. They've never won anything and they never will. They suck. Speaking of resemblences...I've said this for years. Timm-ay from South Park's head was modeled on Peyton's. Seriously. Same forehead, same hair, same chin. I'm telling you...you'll thank me later.

If you've made it through all that unscathed, just remember that Julian Tavarez is now a regular starting pitcher for us...yup, that should finish off the rest of you...have a nice weekend, kids...Go Pats!!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"Wish we had him two years ago..."

"We did."
"Four years ago then..."

So Anibal Sanchez pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins on a night that Kyle Snyder got rocked. Sanchez is now 6-2 since being called up at the end of June. Not bad for a fifth starter on a .500 team...oh, and the last out was fielded by Hanley Ramirez. I'm just saying, is all...not that I'd not want Lowell or, I guess, Beckett, on the team...just sucks watching people you did have do well elsewhere before they're ever given the chance to do well with us. I'll let all of you argue about that. Oh, and Bronson looked great yesterday, by the way, ya know, while we're just sayin'...

Three hits last night, four hits tonight...with basically our full line-up...can't win 'em all 1-0, I guess.

Haven't been on much cause I've been sick since we got back, and I don't really have much to say. I wish Lawerence Maroney was playing on Sunday for the Pats, and I wish I could watch the game, but alas, nada on both accounts. I guess I'll try to catch the replay on NFL Network during the week. Still pissed about the DirecTV thingy...

My Wife and I will be at Camden Yards next Tuesday to see our moribund nine take on the always exciting O's...couldn't be less excited about it, but hopefully the weather holds and the sitter shows and the beer is cold...later...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Georgia Can Go Fuck Itself

Atlanta and Savannah- you suck. The people in your airports suck, and I'm looking at you, Sharon, from Airtran, especially, you hateful, conniving bitch. Everytime we fly with The Kid, we bring her carseat, ask if the flight's sold-out, and if it's not, we ask to be moved to a row where we can put the carseat in an extra seat. It's a lot easier to fly with her when she's strapped in, than trying to hold her on our laps. Never had a problem with this. Till yesterday, when the aforementioned Sharon in Savannah, GA, didn't see the need to accomodate us despite the fact that the flight was barely half full. Maybe because I gave her a hard time about charging us the extra $25 for a suitcase over 50lbs (nobody has ever done that!!!), or because I gave her a hard time for not checking our IDs when we checked in (hello terrorism!!!). Either way, she was screwing us, said she was just following what her supervisor said. So of course, I asked to speak to the supervisor, who told me that per FAA regulations, all occupied seats must be paid for, then told me that it was up to "the agent's discretion" to allow carseats to occupy an empty seat "for free." Apparently it's up to the agent, Sharon, to decide when FAA laws can be broken. Carlos, the supervisor, didn't see the opportunity for discrimination this concept presented. Either way, squeaky wheel got the grease, we got the extra seat, and I never even paid for my beer on the flight from Atlanta to DC. Oh, and then it took an hour to get our bags in DC. If you ever see me on an Airtran flight, or in the state of Georgia, you know I really fucked up. Feel free to ask me how my lobotomy went if you ever see me in those situations.

That said, we had a pretty nice time on vacation...the Kid went nuts with her grandparents and the beach and the pool and the ice cream and had an awesome time. I'm not a beach guy, and man, the weather in South Carolina in the summer is worse than here. And the bugs. Bad stuff. But at least we weren't at work, and I haven't shaved since last Saturday. So small blessings, I guess.

Sort of followed the Sox, but not really, just looking at sportscenter tickers and two USA Today's. Who isn't hurt, by the way? Are we still fielding nine players, or are we doing to corporate slo-pitch thing, and sharing a player with the other team? And the Lester thing is too much to grasp. I wish him the best. Hopefully, the cancer has thrown 110 pitches in 4 2/3's and is ready to be pulled...

So, back into the flow of things. More later after I've digested all your blogs and a week's worth of whatever newsy type stuff. Oh, and one book recommendation. "The Old Ball Game," by Frank DeFord, who is a great writer anyway. It's about John McGraw and Christy Mathewson and the early 20th century New York Giants, and how they "created modern baseball." Interesting stuff, with lots of funny old-timey language and anecdotes. A fun, quick, informative read...