Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Draft Thoughts    

3:10 PM
Just got back home... plenty of wreckage to sift through. This has been, by far, the most intrigue-ridden first round in the NFL Draft I can remember. Even when you remove the sheer idiocy behind Houston's selection of Mario Williams, lots of interesting stuff has happened. But the Texans are obviously the catalyst behind everything else that has happened.

Mario Williams
Klosterman summed this up pretty nicely on Page 2 today. I will add one thought... I've never seen a running back like Reggie Bush, and that's not the generally-accepted position on Williams and his play at defensive end. Williams may pan out, but this was the worst use of a #1 pick since Kwame Brown.

Reggie Bush to New Orleans
The Texans screwed over the Saints' prospects for 2006 in a big way. This was the correct pick for New Orleans, but I don't know how they plan to resolve the situation.

[10:36 edit... didn't finish this thought. I guess you just let Deuce McAllister play out the season, have him prove that he's healthy, and trade him as soon as his stock rises high enough. 2006 becomes a big, fat "trade me" carrot for Deuce; the better he plays, the more likely he is to name his destination. Or maybe New Orleans trades Bush. It would be unheard of to do so after so many picks have been made, but not outlandish. Who knows.]

Vince Young to Tennessee
I like this. I'm not a huge Matt Leinart fan, but I still think you take Vince Young over Leinart.

Vernon Davis to San Francisco
Alex Smith was momentarily deafened by the sound of him shitting himself in joy over this pick. Tight ends are like catnip to young quarterbacks. This might help Smith get on the right track.

Leinart to Arizona
This is a draft pick made in heaven. Arizona is a real team now, and Leinart has upper-echelon talent to throw to. It's the absolute best thing that could have happened to Leinart, though. He has absolutely no pressure on him for the coming season, but given his arsenal of weapons (Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Edgerrin James) and the fact that he's not as raw as your average rookie quarterback, he has the pull a Roethlisberger this season.

Cutler to Denver
I dunno about this guy. If you're gonna give a project to anybody, it might as well be Mike Shanahan, but it doesn't change the fact that he's never done anything to warrant his draft status. So I guess I'm glad he's in Denver, because I hate their guts.

3:40 PM
The Patriots just picked RB Laurence Maroney. 5'11", 217. I know absolutely nothing about him, but if Belichick and Pioli think he's good enough to spend a #1 on, then I'm satisfied. In fact, I'm kinda glad they surprised me. Gives me a little more faith that they're not on autopilot to the extent that it's seemed for the last month or two. So I'm happy.

More on this way, way, way later.

7:15 PM
The Pats just traded up to grab Chad Jackson in the early 2nd round. In a weak year at RB and WR, we got two of the few talented gentlemen at their positions. Excellent.

10:25 PM
First day's over. The Pats' third-round pick is a tight end (David Thomas), who doesn't really fill a need. While I'm a little surprised that the top three Patriot draft picks are all offensive players, Belichick and Pioli tend to get good value out of their later picks, so I'd imagine they'll grab a linebacker or a DB tomorrow. Maybe not someone who can start, but probably someone they can grow over a year or two.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Jets Are On The Clock...    

Sports Guy said he'd seen a video montage of disastrous Jets first-round picks, including Jets fans' reactions, on YouTube.  I found it, and it's pretty excellent.  Nothing better than watching your football team mismanage itself in person.  My favorite year was 1995, when future Super Bowl champion Warren Sapp unexpectedly dropped from the upper tier, and was sitting there at #9 for the Jets...

Jets Fans: We want Sapp!
Jets Fans: We want Sapp!
Jets Fans: We want Sapp!
Jets Fans: We want Sapp!
Jets Fans: We want Sapp!
Commissioner Tagliabue:  The Jets select... tight end, from Penn State, Kyle Brady.
Jets Fan with mustache: [puts head in hands and says nothing]

J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS!!!  I bet they draft Jay Cutler at #4 tomorrow, causing Jets fans in attendance to break the world record for the largest group seppuku.

Bernie's Fork, Beautifully Illustrating Sickboy's Theory    

So the past two days, Bernie Williams has gotten the start in CF for the Yankees, with Damon at DH, because supposedly Damon is banged up a bit. This had me wondering about Bernie's non-sentimental value at this point, given that he's maybe the worst center fielder in the game defensively, and is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past his prime offensively.
Which, unfortunately, made me look up his numbers so far. Bear in mind, he's played nearly full-time, and usually as a DH.

The top line is Bernie so far this year, the lower lines are our two mystery guests.

Bernie: .224
Mystery Man 1: .249
Mystery Man 2: .276

Bernie: .264
Mystery Man 1: .276
Mystery Man 2: .333

Bernie: .245
Mystery Man 1: .280
Mystery Man 2: .327

Bernie: .509
Mystery Man 1: .556
Mystery Man 2: .631

Now, clearly none of these players are going to be challenging A-Rod for the MVP, nor Ortiz for the Edgar Martinez award, but still, even a 10 year old could do this math. Assuming that defensive ability is a non-factor, given that 1- Bernie/replacement would be mostly playing DH, and 2- When Bernie plays CF, he's the worst CF in the history of the game.
So, clearly, player #3 should get the DH spot, and Bernie should get a graceful invite to join the Yes Network.

Who are our mystery guests? Since neither of them has seen meaningful PT in 2006, I cheated slightly and used their 2005 stat lines.

Mystery Guest 1:


Mystery Guest 2:

Bubba Crosby, NYY Bench Warmer.

Brian Ch-Ching!    

According to this report in the Post, I make about as much as the six D.C. United rookies do... combined.  I'd be the 9th-highest salaried player on the Kansas City Wizards.  Jesus.  I assumed there was a hometown discount, but I didn't realize it would be that low.  You know your league is fledgling when your fans make more than your players.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gotta Love Processed News    

The Jon Papelbon Era, in brief.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Man Can Do No Right    

Alex Rodriguez has reached Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt territory.  Innocuous actions take on a whole new meaning when attached to A-Rod and his celebrity.  For example, take this short video clip.  If someone like Royals center fielder David DeJesus had dried his bat that way, would anyone care?  Of course not.  Maybe a raised eyebrow or two, but that's about it.  But DeJesus didn't do it.  A-Rod did.  Thus an innocent bat-drying adventure turns into the most transparently closeted moment in the history of baseball... a sport whose players congratulate each other by spanking each other.  A-Rod made that video at least ten times worse than it would have been.

Not to bring back the 2005 MVP debate, but would David Ortiz have rubbed his bat like that?  Of course not!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Just When You Think They Can't Get Any Cheaper    

The Bruins just held open tryouts for the coming season.  Open, meaning anyone was welcome to try out.  200 amateurs turned up, looking for a shot, and the B's will invite the top three to real, honest-to-God Bruins training camp.  It's like fantasy camp, except there's an enormous prize at the end of the tunnel.  Sounds like a feel-good story, right?

Here's what they're really after.

* They charged $100 a head for a tryout.
* A reality series will air on NESN this fall. 
* If one of these schmucks actually makes the team, he'll make league minimum.

What does all this prove?

a) The only way to get Bruins fans to pay the team anymore is to dangle a friggin' roster spot.
b) Only 200 people showed up?  Can you imagine what an analogous contest for the Red Sox would look like?  It'd be another Fenway sellout.
c) What better way to sum up life as a Bruins fan... there's only two hundred loyal fans left, and the team rewarded them by scamming $100 from them and kicking their asses all day.  Nice.
d) All of the above.

Monday, April 24, 2006

YPOS update    

Let's hear it, everyone, even you in the back...


Globe Sports: U Suck    

Great write up over at Boston Sports Media Watch, examining the conflict of interest regarding the New York Times (owner of the Boston Globe) and its 17% ownership stake in the Red Sox.

The major revelation is the Times's use of an accounting method in a non-standard manner.  Their use of "equity method" in this situation, instead of "cost method," shows that the Times feels it has a significant, concrete influence over the rest of ownership, resulting in power that exceeds its 17% minority stake.  It's doubtful that a corporation of the Times's size would never do this without a tangible justification, albeit an unofficial one.

I wonder if that justification has anything to do with the manner in which the Globe covers the Red Sox!  Could it possibly???

Sarcasm aside, I consider this to be irrefutable proof of something that has long been suspected: the Boston Globe is a puppet of Red Sox ownership.  There are several troubling quotes in the BSMW piece, all of which indicate that the Times is uninterested in mutual exclusivity between newspaper and sports property; synchronicity between the two has always been their goal.  Pretty insidious.

But still, it's tough to take this kind of thing too seriously.  While it's bad news to acknowledge the gaping disconnect between the reality of sports and sports journalism (incestuous business) and the perception of sports by fans (their birthright), conflicts of interest in sports journalism are a relatively trivial symptom of the overall failure of journalism as a whole.  When you consider that the front page suffers from the same lack of integrity as the sports page, the consequences are staggering.  All you can really do is take what you read with a grain of salt, and pray that eventually someone with an ethic and a pair of brass ones will cover your team.

Paps' Myriad Positive Qualities    

As if America haven't got enough reasons to like Jon Papelbon, here comes another:

Nice job. I don't quite understand how this was the result of him winning a bet, but whatever works. It does mean we should track his pre- and post-mohawk statistics separately...

BEFO'HAWK: 10G, 11.1 IP, 9 K, 6 H, 2 BB, 0.00 ERA, 8 SV

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fun With WPA    

Just to amuse myself, I scored tonight's Sox/Rays game with Dave Studeman's Win Probability Added (WPA) spreadsheet. You can download the spreadsheet via FTP here. He did a really excellent job making it easy to enter data. All I had to do was bang in the plays as they happened, and log data shot out. You can view the resulting graph here, with annotations for major plays.

The State Of Boston    

No, I'm not talking about my stock response when people ask whether I'm actually from Boston or just the suburbs.  I'm talking about the state of my five local sports teams.  Let's start with the undeniable bottom-feeders:

5. Bruins
This franchise gives a whole new meaning to the word "vomit."  At one time, they were the cheapest team in hockey for years, and one of the most stubborn and pig-headed when it came to player personality issues, but at least they were well-run.  Now, they're cheap, they're pig-headed, and poorly-run.

The trades made this season are the worst in recent memory.  In the old days, you could bitch and moan about Adam Oates or Jason Allison being run out of town by Harry Sinden over money, but at least Sinden always ended up with the best player in the trade (Allison and Glen Murray, respectively).  The dump that sent Joe Thorntonto San Jose, however, netted us two nice players in Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart, but neither can, or ever will, replace the Big Banana.

It all goes back to the pre-lockout decision to sign... nobody.  Brian Rolston (34G, 45A), Mike Knuble (34G, 31A) and Michael Nylander (23G, 56A) could have been signed for market value, and then had that market value reduced by 25% as part of the new CBA.  The team would be intact, there would have been no unnecessary reliance on emerging stars Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes, and the team might have contended for a playoff spot.  Instead, they have a team with a gaping leadership void, gutlessly losing OT games like they wanted to set a record.  Disgusting.

4. Celtics
Given their roster's constant state of flux, due a combination of injuries and trades, they could never have competed for a playoff spot.  But this is actually a tale of two seasons... before, and after, the Blount/Banks/Davis trade.  Without having to give unproductive minutes to Blount and Banks, this team has had nothing but good news.  Wally Szczerbiak has proven a perfectly good complementary player.  Kendrick Perkins has shown he can be a starting NBA center.  Ryan Gomes has burst onto the scene.  Gerald Green has a Ricky Davis clone, but with a better shot.  And perhaps most importantly, Paul Pierce became a leader.

Given some good health, and some additional veteran leadership via trades or free agency, this team can make a Clipper-like leap next season.   I have obvious reservations about Doc, and will continue to have them until he is fired, but Pierce seems to be OK with him now.  I will defer to Pierce for now; anything that keeps him from leaving after next season is fine with me.  But once The Truth signs a deal, if Doc starts up with his 15-man rotation crap again, I want his ass out of there.

3. Revolution
"Jeff," you may think, "you jackass.  Put the Celtics up there.  You haven't removed their jocks from your mouth since the Wally trade, and now saying they're beneath a soccer team?  Schmuck!"  Well, I never!  But I mean no disrespect.  Well, maybe in the Bruins' case I do... listing the B's ahead of the Revs would be a totally unwarranted insult.  (Like dropping a "c-bomb" on Mother Teresa.  I mean, seriously, what for?)  Anyway, I could see listing the Celts above the Revs, but the Revs were one goal away from a championship last year.  The Celtics were 33-49 this year, well out of playoff contention, which is an achievement in the Eastern Conference.  End of discussion.

The Revolution's turnaround from laughing-stock to perennial contender has not gotten its fair share of local attention.  They sport a young, ridiculously deep front line of Taylor Twellman, Clint Dempsey, and Pat Noonan.  Steve Ralston mans the middle, and continues to be as talented a distributor as MLS has to offer.  Their defense, featuring midifielder Daniel Hernandez, fullbacks Jay Heaps, Shalrie Joseph, Michael Parkhurst and Joey Franchino, and goalie Matt Reis, is as good as it's ever been.  It's a lineup without an obvious weakness, which says loads about their growth as a franchise, and about coach Steve Nicol.

The argument can be made that the Revs are as well-assembled as the Patriots, or even better than the Red Sox.  Until they actually do something, though, they can't beat out the recent champs.  But the fact remains that the Revs have built a franchise as strong as the Red Sox and Patriots, if not stronger.

2. Patriots
I actually thought about whether the Pats should be #3, solely because of the Adam Vinatieri fiasco.  But despite the hyperbole and spleen-venting seen elsewhere on this blog, there's no reason to think the Pats won't be as good this season as they usually are.  They're still vulnerable in certain areas (secondary, wide receiver, running back), and I'm somewhat surprised by the team's continued failure to address their areas of need, but this is no different than any other offseason, and they always manage.

The question is whether they should be satisfied with simply treading water, instead of dealing with their weaknesses proactively.  Vinatieri's departure, in retrospect, is not a reflection on the team's competence as much as a reflection on the team's interest in remaining elite, as opposed to competitive.  This team has regressed over the last 12 months from an immortal dynasty to a plain-old playoff team.  From a contender to a competitor.  It's not time to panic in the streets, but one would think an "elite" franchise like the Pats would take steps to halt that regression, to return to what made them great in the first place.  As opposed to, say, jettisoning the player who best personifies the team's image as clutch, unflappable, and invincible.

Furthermore, Bill Belichick is acting like a coach on autopilot.  Now, don't misconstrue this.  He deserves a break, especially at his age.  But the fact is that the 2001-05 Belichick wouldn't have made the media/PR rounds during the offseason like the 2006 Belichick has.  When you see the last vestiges of the 01-05 teams leaving town, and your coach not doing the things that allegedly led to his own success, it's reason for concern.  What happened to all that no-rest-for-the-weary, singular-focus, no-BS stuff?  The way that team played in Denver, I didn't expect Belichick to act like he'd thrown in the towel.

Maybe that's why Vinatieri's departure bothers me so much... the Denver loss, the departure of Vinatieri (and to a lesser extent Willie McGinest), and the public vacationing by Belichick have deflated the whole notion of Patriot Mystique.  It just seems hollow now.

So, until further notice, I think this is a franchise heading south.  I am contractually obligated to endorse this regime, but I'm doing so in an "OK, but if you fuck up it's your fault, not mine" way, not an "I trust your judgment and believe in this team" way.  Allowing them to act this way is not equivalent to them not teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

1. Red Sox
So far, so good.  There's not much to say that I didn't say already in February, but there's still plenty to say.  This is the best shape the organization has been in since I started following them 20 years ago.  Never, ever, has this roster been so well-executed, and with young players pushing the envelope to boot.  Amazing.

Most of my commentary has to do with the lineup, because there's been so much moronic talk about how the lineup has been mediocre.  Understand that their recent "struggles" have been in the absence of Coco Crisp, Trot Nixon, and, frankly, Manny Ramirez.  When Manny's slump ends, and Coco returns, people will shit themselves over this lineup.  Goofier-than-necessary permutations aside (Tito cashed in all of his political capital last week by putting Cora, Stern, Snow, Bard AND Gonzalez in one lineup) the lineup is doing fine.

Despite all the reasons to calm down and hold back, there's been an awful lot of "stories" lately.  Lots of talk about Mike Lowell's slow bat, despite a solid start to the season.  Plenty of kvetching about Josh Bard's struggles with knuckleballs, despite knowing that Doug Mirabelli had just as much trouble early on in his Sox career.  And there has been an ungodly amount of complaining about Wily Mo Pena's offensive buffonery, defensive tomfoolery, and miscellaneous other ooleries.  The Sox are 11-4... do we really need to be raking ANYBODY across the coals right now?

The scapegoatery with Wily Mo is particularly galling to me.  We all knew what the deal would be... he makes Manny look like Andy Van Slyke in many ways, and his development will be painful to watch, but the guy's as talented as anybody in the entire organization.  This is the deal that makes up for losing Andy Marte, and people hate the friggin guy like he's some kind of stiff.  He's 24 for God's sake.  Not every game is life and death.  And to everyone saying the Arroyo trade was a mistake in light of Fatty Arbuckle's stint on the DL... get a goddamn life.

Matt Clement and Fat Boy clearly are not the long-term answer in the rotation.  Clement has been his usual Jekyll-Hyde self, but he's probably not going anywhere now, not with Jonathan Papelbon so firmly entrenched as the closer.  And Fat Man will be better than he was... you may recall he was this bad last April as well, but eventually became a crucial member of the rotation.  I do think we're seeing our 2006 rotation, pending a major injury, Wells' retirement, or Jon Lester's promotion from the minors.  The likeliest of those scenarios is Lester.  I could see him being so lights-out in AAA that he unseats Wells, a la John Lackey in 2002.

Can we please give the Seanez/Riske/Tavarez bellyaching a rest?  This team pitched fucking Jeremi Gonzalez in the 8th inning last year.  The shittiest Seanez is equivalient to the best Jeremi.  This bullpen is light years ahead of last year's edition, to say nothing of the Yankees' current crop of stiffs and Proctorologists.  Papelbon has been untouchable, Foulke is on the mend, Timlin is struggling a little but not terribly.  Lenny DiNardo is the best long-man/spot-starter we've had in a long, long time.  The return of Tavarez and Riske will help keep Timlin fresh, and Seanez will improve.  I see success for these guys, and if they don't work out, we've got a couple more guys in Pawtucket and Portland (Delcarmen, Van Buren, Hansen) who can take a crack at it.

Best Sox team I've ever seen.  Honest.  Better than 2004.  I can't see them failing.  They're 11-4 with half an offense and two guys hurt.  I shudder to think about how much better they can be.

Felix's popsicles    

One benefit of my subscription to the cable package that gives me most every game at home is that I get to check out pitchers I wouldn't normally get to see.
#1 on the list?

King Felix. I caught his start against offensive powerhouse Texas on Tuesday night. His line?
5 IP, 6H, 4ER, 2HR, 1BB, 9K. He took the loss.

Observation 1:
His stuff, particularly his breaking stuff, is filthy. 9Ks in 5 innings. Yowza.

Observation 2:
He was falling off to the left of the mound on every pitch. Awkwardly. The pitching coach should try to get this fixed. Maybe it's been part of his mechanics all along, in which case maybe you let it go, but it really does look awkward. My guess is that this could lead (if it isn't already) to three things:
1) Bad positioning for fielding comebackers. So he won't be winning many gold gloves. No big deal.
2) Leaving his fastball up, and tailing right. At least that's what was happening Tuesday. This could be a problem.
3) Injuries. Again, a possible problem.

Observation 3:
He is petulant. He stomped around arrogantly after every retired batter, even after most strikes thrown. That doesn't bother me that much though. More worrisome is that he sulked whenever things didn't go well. I mean, really sulked. Chalk this up to his age, I suppose, but it is something he's gotta get rid of, in my opinion.
And I wonder how much these personality "flaws" could be solved by a good mentor. The obvious choice is a grizzled catcher, a la Crash Davis. And there's the rub. I love Johjima as much as anyone, but does anyone really think Jo's gonna get through to Big Baby Felix? I hope I'm not just making horrible assumptions based on race, but I see a barrier in the way they interacted. Felix looked really pissed any time Johjima came to talk to him. I can't imagine anything is really getting through. Could it be that the kid's just cocky, and will learn? Maybe. Could it be that he's a fierce competitor, and his youth makes me misconstrue this as sulking? Maybe. But it would be a concern for me if I were the pitching coach.

Observation 4:
He wears baggy bellbottoms. Awful. Get this man a real uniform... please. Cause currently his dress makes him look like a bi-polar cocky/sulky, sweatpants-clad manchild. Not that this matters at all if he develops into the best pitcher in baseball... but coupled with the attitude he had on display, it hurt my appreciation of him. Am I turning into a fogey?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hail To King Gerald    

The Celts just got eliminated from the playoff picture by Indiana.  They've slipped back into the mid-lottery with their recent return to mediocrity, though injuries have played a part.  Just as well.  Danny Ainge had to draft in the lottery eventually, right?

But those injuries have uncovered yet another rising star, joining Delonte West and Ryan Gomes.  This time, it's high schooler and D-League alum Gerald Green.  That guy can play.  He can certainly dunk; this leaves no doubt about that.  But he can shoot too, when he's actually given playing time (50% FG, 44% 3FG).  Tonight he dropped 22 on the Pacers, on 10-16 shooting.  Pretty remarkable for a guy who's like 19 and not named LeBron.  Granted, he's being fed the ball and told to shoot, and likely isn't holding up his end of the deal on defense, but so far so good.  He's no stinker, that's for sure.  If GG learns his defensive rotations, and continues to soak up Pierce's one-on-one moves like Keanu Reeves absorbed Jujitsu, look out.  Mr. Szczerbiak might not want to buy that condo in the North End quite yet.

And here comes the broken record... what a fascinating roster.  You'd have to go back to the 2000-01 Bruins to find such a complete, all-encompassing youth movement, and with such promise!  If Ainge keeps this group together... Pierce, West, Szczerbiak, Green, Perkins, Jefferson, Gomes, Tony Allen... things could get really, really fun in a hurry.  But again, they need a veteran to slap them around.  Either a point or a big, doesn't matter much to me, but they need a wizened old grown-up in a major way.  Right now the Celts are very much like the last few Clippers editions.  Tons of talent, bonafide superstar, athleticism up the wazoo, no leadership.  The Celts need their Sam Cassell if they want to take a leap forward.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Whoopsie Mo    

Wily Mo Pena had an interesting way of responding to Cornroyo's power display.  But I think the Fenway Faithful would have preferred that he create a home run with his bat, not his glove.  On the positive side, Wily Mo distracted the Faithful from Keith Foulke, who gave up the "home run."  Sounds like the peanut gallery was civil towards Foulkie, which is (hopefully) a sign of tolerance to come.

The Kid's Got Nuts The Size Of Saturn    

Bronson Arroyo just homered again.  That's two dongs in two starts for Saturnballs.  Bronson has now cemented his status as a) folk hero, b) permanent status amongst broadcasters as "a guy who can hurt you with the bat too," and c) this week's cute baseball story du jour semaine.  What a fluke, but it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy... this is obviously something he wouldn't have done in Boston.

Oh, and for the record, Wily Mo Pena hasn't hit one out yet...

God Bless Chuck Klosterman    

From his Page 2 article today, in which he puts his deconstructive skills to work on Barry Bonds and his legacy:

We are all familiar with the story of Babe Ruth; it's the classic American narrative. He was born inside a burning saloon. As a teen, he was persuaded to become a southpaw pitcher through the guidance of a priest impressed by the boy's ability to consume entire turkeys during brunch. As he matured, Ruth found he was able to hit 600-foot home runs for dying children without the use of a bat. His on-field excellence was punctuated by an ability to drink whole kegs of beer while making love to nine women simultaneously, none of whom was his wife. When the Red Sox traded his rights to the Yankees, 560 people died in a mud slide. Ruth served as Warren G. Harding's secretary of state, albeit briefly. He also weighed in the neighborhood of 18,000 pounds and once won a best-of-three-falls wrestling match against Man o' War, the horse he later ate.

Gotta love sarcasm.


Gotta love a classic joke.  Sure, anyone can make a Beaver-related comment, but the choice of pictures is what does it for me.  Nicely done.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Foulke 'Em In The Eighth    

Yesterday wasn't exactly a red-letter day for stupid Red Sox rumors.

1) Josh Bard had a seamless day catching Tim Wakefield.  So much for that crap about the Mirabelli/Loretta trade being a rip-off for Boston, or for Wakefield being nothing without Mirabelli.

2) Keith Foulke looked really good for an inning.  I couldn't see too well from section 342, but he made the O's hitters look really stupid.  Jon Papelbon, on the other hand, looked kind of overmatched, after having worked on Saturday as well.  He was hitting 93-94 on the gun, but his location was terrible.  After preparing for the season as a starter, he might not be ready for back-to-back saves quite yet.  These developments should be a reminder to Idiot Nation that Foulke will eventually work himself back up to closing duties, and the Paps Experiment will cease.  Eventually.  All it will take is a season-ending injury to one starter, and Paps will be pitching every five days.

So, with the top two hot button issues squared away, the fear-mongers may now fill the void of idiocy by obsessing over Coco Crisp's finger.  (10 days in a splint!  They'll never survive!  Vomit!)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Paps: Mere Band-Aid, Or Permanent Closer?    

Again, I hit you with the subtlety. Never in the history of Western civilization (to borrow a phrase from Bill Walton) have two words had so much untapped pun potential.

Curt Schilling said it best when he said, in reference to Papelbon, "someone who can pitch 200 innings is going to help us more than pitching 60." Red Sox Nation would do well to keep that in mind before giving the Mandate of Heaven to Paps as their closer. RSN is going bananas over Papelbon's lights-out 9th inning last night, as well they should. But the nervousness surrounding Keith Foulke's first appearance on Monday should be tempered. As good as Paps looked last night, the Sox' best-case scenario does not have him closing. They are far, far better off with Paps starting and an effective Foulke closing.

If Foulke does not regain his 2004 form, then the status quo becomes the best-case scenario. But if not, and Foulke gets back his capabilities and confidence, slowly but surely, then I have to insist that he take over as the closer. A lights-out Foulke will make me happier than the lights-out Paps does. We already know Paps is lights-out... that's why he should be pitching 6 innings every 5 days. Using him as the closer just wastes him. Sure, if Foulke fails and Paps closes, the 2007 bullpen situation simplifies itself nicely... Hansen gets the reins, Foulke gets the door, and Paps takes the #5 rotation spot away from Fatty Beltbuckle. But Foulke can help us, and he deserves better than to be demoted after a single poor performance (which, by the way, he did survive).

What bothers me the most is the argument about Foulke's change-ups being inferior to Papelbon's 96 mph heat. That's just revisionist bullshit, from fans who are so insecure about the late innings that they need a flamethrower in order to feel comfortable. Fact is, Foulke's changeup was entirely unhittable in 2004, moreso than Paps' fastball. Now , Foulke's ineffectiveness is being blamed on his changeup. NO! It wasn't the problem in 2004, and it isn't the problem now. The problem is his health. If he's healthy, he can close; if not, then he can't. End of story. It's not because his out-pitch is a changeup.

It just makes me sick that Foulke destroyed his knees (and perhaps his career) for us, and it's STILL too hard for people to give the guy a chance. Like it's his fault. Grow up, people.

Arenas Finally Explains Himself    

The mystery of why Gilbert Arenas hates the Celtics so much has finally been solved:

"That pain from the Celtics is still in my blood," says Arenas, who added eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals. "When they said they'd pick me with the 10th or 11th pick, they got my hopes all high. I usually hold a grudge for that."

And you know what?  I totally agree.  Allow me to do not just a 180, but a 540, on Mr. Arenas.  I now approve whole-heartedly of his anti-Celtic antics.  This is news to pretty much everyone in Boston.  It explains absolutely everything... well, maybe not his hatred for Doc Rivers, but hey, who doesn't have a good reason to hate Doc Rivers?  Maybe Doc said something stupid on TNT when Gil was a youngun.  Anyway, in honor of Gil's validation, allow me to present, once again, the double-deuce.

I don't think anyone can defend the morons in charge of the 2001 draft.  When a draft goes so poorly that Red fucking Auerbach gets shut out of the Celtics' brain trust, you know it was bad.  Who needs Tony Parker or Gilbert Arenas when you could have Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte?  Even the one success, Joe Johnson at #10, was wasted by trading him for Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk... Rogers never re-signed, and Delk spent the next season showing the Celtics why he keeps getting traded.  Just thinking about that draft makes me want to barf.

(Aside: the Spurs' two best players, Parker and Tim Duncan, should both, by all rights, be wearning green.  Albeit for different reasons, but still.  Just sayin'.  I mean seriously, how the hell did the Spurs win that lottery?!?  Anyone who thinks NBA teams don't tank it in order to win the lottery, I present exhibit A: the 96-97 Spurs.  Injuries my ass.  I'll never respect Gregg Popovich as a coach, just because of that season.)

Memo to Joe Torre    

Dear Mr. Torre:

I feel compelled to write this missive in response to an alarming trend that I have suspected in evidence for the past two years, and which has become clear in the past two days.

In your past two games, your Yankees have found themselves in close games late against the Oakland A's. In both games, you kept Mariano Rivera (henceforth referred to as The Greatest Relief Pitcher of His Generation) in reserve, to be brought in only in the bottom of an inning should your offense claim a lead.

Two nights ago, Scott "Dr. Brownthumb" Proctor was the pitcher of record.
In last night's game, Jaret "MF" Wright was left in for a THIRD inning in the eighth. If he could really be effective for three innings, he'd have deserved to keep his job as a starter.

In neither game did your free agent setup man and replacement for Tom Gordon, Kyle Farnsworth get to start his own inning. Last night, brought in with the bases crowded, no one out, and the game on the line, he looked about as comfortable as David Wells in a Yugo.

In both games, The Greatest Relief Pitcher of His Generation never saw the field.

In both games, you lost.

A suggestion... when it's close and late, put Farnsworth in for the eighth, and Rivera for the ninth. If you lose in extra innings cause you have to trot out Proctor, I will forgive you every time. If you continue to leave The Greatest Relief Pitcher of His Generation in the pen, I will boo.

In conclusion, remember this guy? Maybe he should get some PT.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Huhhhuh... He Said "Buttocks"    

From the AP via KFFL:

The Associated Press reports New York Yankees SP Carl Pavano (shoulder) threw for the first time Wednesday, April 5, since bruising his buttocks last week when he played catch for 10 minutes.

Kids, this is why legal grammar alone cannot convey a thought correctly.  Are we supposed to think Pavano bruised his ass while playing catch?  Unless he backed into A-Rod's face by accident, I don't see any way it could have happened.

The Wakepire Strikes Back    

Oh, Wakie, Wakie, Wakie.  With all the question marks on this pitching staff, how could I have forgotten about the Human Question Mark?  I'm not gonna let one game dictate my Wakie Policy for the rest of the season, nor am I going to start hating him again (still can't)... I'm just saying.

At least the Sox didn't blow a game because they pitched Scott Proctor in the 9th inning with the score tied...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opening Day    

Didn't get to see much of the Sox yesterday.  I got home around 4:30 and caught the tail end of the game, but it was well in hand by then.  Still, I managed to catch some good intelliinformation

* Schilling looked like Schilling, Papelbon looked like Schilling, and Foulke looked like Calvin Schiraldi.  Foulke may need a few games to get the kinks out, but I'm OK with that.  Let him get his confidence back.  I just hope the Fenway Faithful (read: douche bags) give him a break, because the booing clearly bothered him last year.

* Coco made a nifty grab in center field to bail out Foulke.

* Mike Lowell lucked into a HR on a hanging breaking ball, but 19 more of those and his acquisition is a success.  He's replacing the production of either Kevin Millar or Bill Mueller, so he doesn't need to be Mike Lowell in order to succeed.

Other observations from the day:

* Jimmy Rollins kept his streak alive by nailing a 3-0 pitch down the line.  Good for him.

* A-Rod also kept his streak alive.  He still sucks.

* Derek Lowe was getting booed so badly that Grady Little, coming out to yank him, got cheers.  You know you suck when you make Grady Little look good.  But to paraphrase Jason "Phat Buds" Mewes, goddamn this was one wacky baseball game.  You know, typical Chavez Ravine pitchers' duel, 11-10 Atlanta.  If I was Bobby Cox, I'd be... well, I'd probably be drunk, but I'd also be concerned that my ace (Tim Hudson) just coughed up a stinker to the friggin Dodgers.  Would Leo Mazzone ever allow that?

Monday, April 03, 2006


Dear Roger,

There are some who don't want you to return to Boston.  They want to see you fail.  They want to see you enter a playoff atmosphere in Fenway Park, Game Seven, series on the line, and fail, like you always do.  They want to laugh and delight in your misery, in the cementing of your legacy as the biggest playoff choker in Cooperstown.  They want you to prove, once and for all, that you're a six-month wonder who can't be relied upon.  They think you're some kind of gutless, cowardly choke artist who rode the coattails of his Yankee teammates to his only World Series rings.

Don't let those other people say that about you.  Your legacy is already cemented!  How much more can you be asked to do?  Retire, and enjoy teaching your children how to look after blisters and hangnails.  Safety first!

J. Linwood Doucette

P.S. I hate you.

A Hall of Fame View    

A few highlights of my experience yesterday, sitting in comped seats in Philadelphia Phillies exclusive "Hall Of Fame Club" seats.

1) The seats are only accessed by entering the Hall of Fame Club, which is guarded by lots of overly friendly ushers checking your tickets. You pass through them, and you're in a special inside area of the park.

2) This indoor area has lounge seats, TV monitors (which showed a Flyers game in progress), expanded souvenir shops, lots of memorabilia displays, and fully stocked bars (no idea what a shot of Absolut goes for, as I was nursing a hangover). In short, everything someone with no interest in the game itself could ever want. But at least there were no lines for food, and the food looked better than usual.

3) This indoor area was decorated just like a movie theater lobby... not good.

4) The seats themselves were mezzanine level, which disappointed me at first, cause I'm used to sitting field level left field bleachers. I grew up loving the Yankees left field bleachers, and part of me just finds the bleachers to be the perfect spot to watch a game. San Francisco's right-center bleachers are maybe the best spot I've ever found.

5) That said, the seats had the bonus feature of being cushioned, which is sweet, and the usher toweled off each seat for us, which you'll appreciate if you've ever been to a public event in Philadelphia.

6) The view of the game was dead perfect. Wowsers. A little further away, but a perfect view of everything. Awesomeawesomeawesome. The view of the city, however, is horrible- because there's a circa 1960 Holiday Inn that sits in center field. I've been told that in the videogame version of Philadelphia's Ballpark, they've edited it out. This prompted the suggestion by a fellow fan that they convince the hotel to hang a tarp over the place during day games. I'm in favor of the idea.

7) Ryan Madsen pitched 6 scoreless innings for the Phils, and looked great doing it. Found out later that he made the rotation. Bravo. Found out later still that Philly had traded away swingman Robinson Tejeda. Booooooooo. This team needs pitching, and I like the cut of Tejeda's jib.

8) One last note on the Hall of Fame Club- the bathrooms are INCREDIBLE. Immaculately clean, and relatively empty (3-4 other patrons each time (2) I was in there). But the real thing is this- the tile has a grass pattern in it. Sounds horrible, right? It's not. It really felt like you were just relaxin in the backyard, having stepped away from the grill a moment to recycle some high life. Fantastic. As one elderly fan commented, "They're pretty similar to the old bathrooms, only they've got hot water and no one's pissin' in the trash cans." This man should be doing color for Fox broadcasts.

9) From the behavior of Philly's female fans, Chase Utley is either faithfully married, gay, or soon to become a member of the Ron Mexico All-Stars.

10) Ryan Howard looked good all game, and was the only regular to go the full 9. I made the comment in the first inning that I thought this would be a growing pains year for Howard, who last year looked to be worse than Trot Nixon at hitting lefties, and worse than a uniformed garbage can in the field. Of course, not only did he make a couple decent plays with the glove, but in the 8th, faced a lefty whose name escapes me, and MURDERED the ball. A 450-foot bomb to dead center. By far the longest homer I've seen in Philly.