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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Chatter on a Smattering....

Yes, that was the reassuring tones of Joe Castiglione and Jerry Trupiano, coming our way on Thursday night; the Grapefruit League has begun, finally. For the Red Sox, everyone knows this is a much-anticipated season, yet it is of course much too early to handicap the outcome. A few musings on what's happened so far:
- While the Sox and the Yankees do indeed meet tomorrow, with TV coverage and lots of press attention, I for one am not that excited about this matchup. Torre and his crew are far too experienced to let an early Grapefruit League game be anything more than what it is: a warm up. OK, we'll get to see A-Rod at third, but we will see plenty of him this year. Like the NFL, my concerns about the Ft. Myers experience relate to having the team's key players emerge from Florida without serious injury.
- The Berkshire Eagle reports that Dan Duquette has been told by the local Planning Board that he has two weeks to apply for a special permit that would allow games played by his NECBL franchise, the Dukes, at his sports academy in Hinsdale. Yet there seems to be a major disagreement between the town and Dan as to whether Duquette needs a permit at all, and what, if anything, the town can or should do about activities at the Duquette Sports Academy. Stay tuned: Dan's communications skills are about to be tested again.
- Speaking (ahem) about communications, The Boston Globe reports that Manny Ramirez will be launching his own Web site, using a name similar to M.R. Make-a-Wish, a site apparently designed to serve as a focal point for his charitable foundation. When Manny signed with the Sox he pledged to donate $1 million to programs aiding disadvantaged Latino children in the Boston area. Manny says the site is being designed by his sister. Though he won't say so, we're guessing the site will become Manny's equivalent of Albert Belle's locker door: the place where he will communicate (one-way) with fans and the press. Last night, I saw Schilling being interviewed by Don Orsillo - a segment where Schilling again said that he felt that communicating directly with fans through the Web circumvented the Boston writers and media, some of whom he accused of having their own agenda or of reporting what served their opinions best. Tough talk folks. This move by Schilling and Manny will really piss-off some of the elitist Boston baseball writers and the even more arrogant WEEI talk-show hosts. These media personalities lose power, influence, and importance when players can communicate directly with fans. While we don't relish having to compete for eyeballs with Manny's new site, being able to communicate directly with the Distant One should be fun. Can't wait!
- Some of the PawSox alum have looked good so far in Ft. Myers - anyone watching Andy Dominique? yeah, he could lose a few but he is a catcher.
- The New Haven County Cutters are trying to see if a Northeast League team can survive in New Haven and Yale Field when AA hasn't been able to. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, formerly the New Haven Ravens (AA Toronto) gear up to make their debut in Manchester. Several NECBL franchises have moved cities, including the Dukes. The "churn," - franchises coming and going, birthing and dying, at the minor league and independent league level is always both sad and exciting. We are guessing that the Fisher Cats will ultimately be successful; they have relatively deep pockets, a new stadium coming, and attention right now. New Haven's new entry may have a tougher row to hoe, though if they can live on about 1,000 to 1,200 per game, they might survive for a while. Good luck to them.