Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ketchup

I'm not jinxing it, am I? The Sox have been doing pretty well without me commenting on their games...

Thirteen and a half is a big number. New York is imploding. Torre and Cashman are on the fast lane to the short bus to Firedsville- population? Them. So am I the only one who is still nervous? I don't even remember '78, and still, I keep thinking that if the Yanks start hitting, they can carry that big ERA around and still win 95 games. Of course, we're on pace to win 113 games. But still. Maybe it's just me.

Quick catch-up- I have left the wine sales job and am back with my old restaurant company, this time with DC Coast. (Sorry, Jere & Rick Vaughn- no hats in there either...) Consequently, I haven't had a lot of extra time on my hands like the last few months. Plus, my parents came down this past weekend to see the kids...I did hear Trot's ovation last night on the ol' radio on the internet thingy, but otherwise, I've been pretty out of touch except for daily box scores and standings checks...

I'll try to be around more often. Also, RIP Marquise Hill- not a Patriot for long, but a Patriot nonetheless.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the Hamster

A list of eight people, in no particular order, who sucked in tonight's game against the Lord Baltimorts...

1. Wily Mo Pena. Ok. I lied. Obviously Willie goes in a very particular order on this list. Watching him play the outfield is like watching an epileptic hamster off his meds and on the bottle try to navigate a butter-slicked running wheel that's been set on fire.

2. Third Base Umpire Guy. You know why he's on this list. He, on the other hand, would probably look at this blog and tell you it's a reuben sandwich. That's apparently how closely he pays attention to anything.

3. Home Plate Umpire Guy. The strike zone ends at the knees, not the calves. Check the rule book.

4. Buck Martinez. Or should I say Buck MAR-tinez. If you saw the MASN broadcast, you know what I mean. Right, David OR-tiz?

5. Gary Thorne. From calling Willie Mo, "Carlos Pena" (not that Willie's one pitch first at-bat gave Thorne any time to correct himself) to about a half dozen factual inaccuracies, many involving stats currently being displayed by his employer on my tv, well, let's say he didn't redeem himself any in my book.

6. The Fenway fans. Waves are not good luck charms. They should not be started, nor participated in so gleefully, down 5-2. You just look like idiots. Also, to the folks in the Kap row who left with two down in the ninth, you suck. And to the four idiots who raced down from row four to take the abandoned row one seats, you suck, too. Don't be so greedy.

7. Any Red Sox player batting with the bases loaded. And Julio Lugo all the time. Not my favorite by any means.

8. Miguel Tejada. He Jeter-ized two liners at short. Pulling your legs up to your waist does not fool me into thinking you're Ozzie Smith when I can clearly see that the ball is never more than six inches over your head. You're not gonna win a gold glove doing that; the guy you learned it from will steal that gold glove.

A list of people who didn't suck in tonight's game...

1. My wife. For toughing out seven innings on the couch with a Harry Potter book paying no attention to the game at all, while suffering through the second day of a brutal case of hives, then finally asking me upon hearing Dustin Pedroia's name in the fifth inning, "You hate that guy, right?" Which was quickly followed up by Seizure the Wonder Hamster missing that sinking liner in right, causing me to grit my teeth and say, "No, I hate that guy."

2. Dusting Pedroia. Sparkling defense tonight. If he keeps doing that and can hit .250, you'll start seeing a lot of number 15 shirts around the Fens.

3. Me. I managed to watch the whole game and find time for E! who was showing two consecutive Lindsay Lohan hosted SNL's. Didn't miss a thing except for Lugo getting picked off first after the pitching change, but really, that wasn't my fault. It was during the "Hermione's got boobs" Harry Potter sketch featuring Lohan in a skimpy Gryfindoor uniform.

4. The good folks at Green Flash Brewing Company in Whale's Vagina, California. When the Sox lose games I watch on tv, I like to give credit to anything that made it easier to watch. Tonight, it was GF's West Coast IPA. You stay hoppy, San Diego.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Three Thoughts

I just read a press release from MASN, the network that broadcasts the Orioles, and they've just hired their new announcing team: Rush Limbaugh will be joined by Michael Richards in the booth, and they're thawing out Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder to be their new sideline guy.

Ok, I just made that up. But seriously, what is the problem with the Orioles' announcers? First there was Thorne-gate. Now, ol' Slip 'n Slidin' Rick Dempsey makes a joke about domestic violence while hosting in the booth the wife of resident Oriole Ginger Kid, Jay Gibbons. The Ginger Mullet's wife was there, by the way, to talk about the charity she represents that raises money for domestic violence awareness and prevention. Nice, Rick. While I appreciate poking fun at The Red-Haired Brady Anderson's anemic batting average, it was still way out of bounds. MASN of course, to remain consistent with their irresponsible journalistic policies, has no intention of punishing Dempsey. It does say something, though, that when Gary Thorne tells a bald-faced lie regarding an on-field issue, it's national news for three days. But Rick Dempsey belittles domestic violence and it's page D24 stuff. Go figure. Either way, if you get MASN, check your facts and your sensitivities at the door.
..........
My two cents on the number 21 Red Sox jersey issue: lots of people are saying the Sox should give the number to some young kid, or give it to Lester or something, but I think the Sox should retire it. Not to hang up with the ol' "1-4-8-27-42" pantheon, but just so nobody else ever has to be associated with Clemens. I mean, what does it say to some hot-shot prospect- "Hey, we love you so much, we're gonna give you the number of the most vilified player to ever wear the B..."? People think giving the number to someone else is a slap in Clemens' fat face. I disagree, because seriously, do you think he'd care? It'd be better for the Sox to just come out and say,
"Since ALL of our fans hate this guy, and will always associate the number 21 with deceit, lying and greed, we've decided to make sure that no one in our organization ever has to be compared with that sort of behavior, simply because they wear his old number. We've decided to retire the number 21, and we will be placing round, number 21 emblems, much like those of the celebrated retired numbers, but smaller, in every urinal throughout Fenway Park. We feel this is the best way to recognize his unique legacy within our organization."
..........
The jarring jolt you may have felt earlier this morning was caused by the Earth ceasing to spin on its axis, as the Boston Globe printed a column from CHB that included a sentiment I actually agree with:

"Didn't we all like Alex Gonzalez and Mark Loretta a whole lot more than Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia?"

God help me, but I do agree. I just can't warm up to Lugo, much as I try. Maybe it's the way he unfurled the entire neck of his turtleneck undershirt during the cold start to the season, which turned the two Sox logo on the neck inside out. It just really bugged me, and made him look like a frigid little kid. Come to think of it, Pedroia was bitching about the cold, too, remember? Sissies. God help us all, though, if Rick Dempsey gets to interview Lugo when the O's are in Boston next.

Dempsey: "So, Julio, what do you say to a woman with two black eyes?"
Lugo: "Two black guys? What, is this a racist joke?"
Dempsey: "I guess it could be, I do work for MASN afterall. Gary, back to you in the booth..."
Thorne: "Thanks, Rick. Back to what I was saying to Jim Palmer earlier...everybody knows Big Papi corks his bat. Are all those homers legit? Nah. I mean, Curtis Leskanic told us that a couple years ago, everybody knows it..."

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm Not Gonna Do What You All Think I'm Gonna Do...

So, I assume ol' Georgie-Boy took a page from John Henry's book and re-signed Clemens for all "the fans of [the Tri-State area] who love the game and adored him even when he wore a [Red Sox] uniform"?

I know that at least two out of the three of you who read this blog with some frequency are probably waiting for me to drop an atomic bomb on Clemens, Steinbrenner, the Yankees and the Hendricks brothers. Well it's not going to happen. The fact of the matter is that I just can't get that worked up about it. Does adding an almost 45-year-old, five-to-six inning pitcher to a 14-15 ballclub really merit my frothing at the mouth? I don't think so. I'll leave the analysis and breakdown of the NL to AL transition, pitch count averages and ERA to those more qualified to, or interested in, doing it. It's not my area, nor my care.

The last time we faced Roger was on October 16, 2003 and frankly, I doubt he's gotten any better since then. The last thing I wanted was a situation where I had to root against our starting pitcher while rooting for our favorite team. I was dreaming about how many ways we could find to go scoreless through six then come back to win games in the later innings. And now I don't have to worry about such predicaments. And my summer will be better for it.

Making a 44-year-old part-time player the highest paid guy in the game (yes, I know he doesn't get the whole $28mil) is the sort of laughably ludicrous personnel decision that has made an ironclad habit of backfiring in the Bronx since 2001. So I don't know why anybody is worried. This is only the second worst thing that's happened this week. The first was the Yanks firing their inept DOPE, Marty Miller. That guy could've single-handedly saved our season by crippling nearly every effective Yankee player. As it stands now, I expect the Yankees will cripple themselves throughout the year by making desperate, panic-stricken decisions like yesterday's. Hopefully they all won't come with their own seventh inning stretch nonsense like yesterday, cause man, the stretch at the damn Stadium is long enough, what with them parading out every jug-eared, fake Irish bastard they can find to slog through the entire cannon of patriotic songs in their ongoing and ever-increasingly sad attempt to capitalize and profit off of 9/11. They didn't win the Series that year for the people of New York, nor will they this year.

So, no atomic bombs. Maybe some 2,000 pound bunker busters, but no A-bombs. The Yankess are like an aging Hollywood starlet gone to seed who is constantly trying to make the front page again with just one more facelift, just a little more botox and some fake tits. At first, you might think it's an improvement, but then you realize that Roger Clemens just doesn't feel right when you squeeze him. Ewwww.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day! May Day!

Or, what Joe Torre might be shouting into the radio, if the Yankees were a sinking ship. Oh wait...

All premature gloating aside (although I notice that many fellow bloggers are guilty of the same), let's talk about the Patriots for a moment. I'll give the 99% of you who come here looking for grumpy, sarcastic Red Sox analysis a minute to navigate away from the page...for those one percent of you left interested in reading my grumpy, sarcastic Patriots analysis, here we go...

I have nothing grumpy to say. Deciding to embrace the "new" Patriots has been the best decision I've made in awhile. When I called my dad and told him we traded for Randy Moss he said, very disgustedly, "Oh man! C'mon! Randy Moss? Are you kidding me? Randy Moss? That jerk? He's not a Patriots-type player! Randy Moss?" That was probably, verbatim, the reaction of every white, over 50 Pats fan in America. And I'm not sure that reaction doesn't have some merit. To be completely honest, that was basically my first reaction, too. Bear in mind, like I said the other day, this came on the heels of drafting Brandon Merriweather, who, when he's not engaged in NCAA-sanctioned Ultimate Fighting (look for number 19), is, apparently, a hell of a football player, with the occasional character issue. So that, plus trading for Moss, makes it look like that Pats are moving away from their no-stars, team-first philosophy. The CHB certainly thought so in yesterday's Globe, as do a lot of people probably.

Those people are right: This isn't the way the Patriots have worked. But it's the way they should be working. Obviously, their plan of attack has been very successful. But as always happens (see other teams grabbing at the Moneyball brass ring), once a team shows that a certain business model can be successful, other teams start to copy it, sometimes with greater success. The A's have never been able to overcome that hurdle, due to financial limitations. Other teams can scout and sign players as smartly and efficiently as the A's, but ultimately outspend them to bring in marquis players that fit the mold. In the NFL, though, a team can't simply buy their way to the Superbowl. Each team plays on a level playing field, at least financially in terms of salary. It's up to each team to maximize the salary cap in the most efficient, and yes, ruthless way possible. This is where the Pats fell short last year- they finished the season under the cap. I addressed this issue, with some venom, last fall.

After re-reading that post, one sentence jumped out at me: "It's frustrating to be such a passionate fan of a team managed in such a dispassionate manner." Now, in that case, I was speaking more to the decision not to resign long-time stalwarts and fan favorites, but really, the Pats front office handled most of their affairs in a similar "dispassionate manner." Well, this off-season is a departure from the past in the sense that, for once, Coach B and Scott Pioli, and even Ol' White Cuffs/Pink Tie himself, seem to be running this team with loads of passion. They have attacked free agency, trades and the draft like a fantasy owner. "Who's the best linebacker out there? Adalius Thomas? Go get him. We need receivers- get me Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Kelly Washington. And oh yeah, get me Moss, too. We're getting old in the secondary. What about that Merriweather kid? What, he stomped on someone, and he carries a gun? Shit, we can fix that..."

It's been ridiculously exciting to watch, because finally the team is openly gunning for a Superbowl ring. They've finally decided that, like the fans, three is not enough. While it was fun watching seemingly undermanned Pats teams overcome the likes of the Rams, Colts and Chargers, in games in which we were given no chance, I can't wait to watch other teams try to deal with us being the heavyweight, the ultimate powerhouse. I've always had tons of confidence in the coaches, and their schemes and plans. Bill Belichick isn't a god in New England for nothing. But the last two years it's become obvious that even his particular genius can't make up for not having enough talent. At some point, you need players capable of executing your masterful gameplan. Well, I think we've got those guys now. Plus, how re-energizing is this to Tom Brady? He must be beside himself. Instead of Reche Caldwell, he's throwing to Randy Moss.

In that post last fall, I complained about the arrogance of Patriots' leaders in believing that the system will always work. Well, we're about to find out if their system can have the same effect on Merriweather and Moss as it did on Corey Dillon. Granted, he didn't have quite the same kind of baggage as those two, but he was widely thought of as a disgruntled, me-first, locker room cancer and all he did when he got into a positive, winning environment was run for 1,700 yards and win a Superbowl. Maybe that's all Moss and Merriweather need- to be surrounded by positive, winning veterans who make it very clear that you play their way, or hit the highway. It is arrogant to think that your system can change the basic personality and behavior of someone. But, I'd rather that sort of arrogance than the kind that thinks you can win with questionable talent.

So far, everyone involved is saying the right things. Moss sounded genuinely humbled to be part of the organization, and the Pats basically told him that he's gone at the first sign of trouble. And Merriweather's just a kid. I think a little tough love from Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel and Teddy Bruschi is just what he needs. My only concern is that guys from The U never seem to leave that life behind. Kind of like that old saying that you can take the boy out of The U, but, well you know what I'm saying.

The Pats have always won by assembling a group of blue-collar guys who are willing to sacrifice individual glory for the good of the team. It's easy to get a guy with middle-range skills to buy into that- in that case, team accolades might be easier to attain than personal kudos. But, what if, just what if you could get a supremely talented, but obviously selfish player to buy into the same philosophy? How good could the team be then? Could it work? Dillon was a mini-experiment. This season will be the full-blown clinical trial.

For the record, I think it will work magnificently. We all know how powerful the Flying Elvis Kool-Aid can be. Can it tame Randy Moss? Like Coach B and Scott Pioli, I'd sure as hell wager a fourth-round draft pick that it can. I don't see a down-side here. So Moss is a jerk and doesn't buy into the team? Cut him. He can't be cancer in Foxborough; the veterans won't let him. I'd be more worried about Merriweather, as the Pats used their first round pick on him, a much bigger gamble than using a fourth-round pick on a guy who's willing to cut his salary and take a one-strike-and-your-out contract in the hopes of winning a Superbowl. I don't know about you, but I'll take my chances with a guy like that any day. especially if that guy's as talented as Randy Moss. We've all yelled at him, complained about him, called him a jerk and a prima-donna. Well he's our jerk now, so embrace him. Maybe all Randy Moss ever needed was a big hug.