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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Nomah Tries to Deke MLB GMs

So did you hear the one about newly-freed Agent Nomar G. telling people that he is only looking for a one year contract because "he wants to prove to everybody that he is healthy enough to merit a [big] long-term deal?"
[How many baseball players have you heard recently say they are looking for a one year deal.....um, Yeah.]
Gimme a break Nomar and Arn! You have gotten out in front of this issue so it does't hurt too much as somebody sticks it to you in the wrong place: the Real reason you are "looking" a one-year deal is that:
a.) nobody thinks you have proven you are healthy enough to commit big dollars to a long-term deal
b.) Everybody thinks that you are past your most productive prime and long-term deals for fading stars are way too risky
c.) for much less dough than you are asking, buyers can choose new WS Champion SS Cabrera - who showed he can hit damn well in the clutch along with that golden glove of his - and he doesn't whine.
d.) Your trade has prompted many to look closely at your numbers - and they are unsettled by what they see.

Uh, Duh.............Nomar, Nomar, Nomar.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Zeitgeist Spring Prediction Review: Not Bad Folks

OK, time to 'Fess up and dredge out our '04 Season Predictions from Saturday, April 03, 2004 (see Archives); We predicted the following: Here is what we said then: (bold for Today's assessment)

"AL West: gotta go with Oakland - pitching wins, even without Foulke, in a weak division. (close, no cigar)
AL Central: KC - Tony Perez will find a way to win (a hunch). (That's why hunches are called hunches as opposed to analytical estimates)
AL East: Boston - despite an ineffective and struggling season from Pedro, Schilling and Arroyo step up. (partial credit - didn't win the East, Pedro was good, Schilling and Arroyo did close the Season out strongly)
AL Wild Card: Yankees - Vasquez wins 19 or 20 finally playing for a good team. (obviously overrated the Yanks, again)
NL West: Arizona - Brenly finds a way, Randy still a horse when it counts. (bad prediction and team, Randy is still a horse though)
NL Central: Cubs - Prior comes back, Bartman stays home. (Didn't know at the time: Curse of the Mamma Mia!)
NL East: Phils - even with Bowa, Millwood has a strong year. (wrong about the Phils, right about Bowa)
NL Wild Card: Houston (Nothing but net on this one folks)
NLCS: Cubs vs. Phils; Phils beat Cubs in seven - It was Dusty's fault last year, not Bartman's, and he'll fail again in the clutch. (n/a: No Cubs/Phils - no credit)
ALCS: Boston vs. Oakland: Boston in six - Sox have too much all around for the A's. (or the Angels)
WS: Red Sox vs. Phils: powerful Sox down gritty Phils in great seven game Series; lack of strong Pedro compensated by horse Schilling and stellar performances from Arroyo, Wakefield, Varitek. (partial credit on this one folks, but they did win it all)
Having won it all, Theo makes little effort to re-sign the Big Four in a weakened player salary market, but signs Varitek and Lowe."
Gee, I hope the final prediction still comes true.
Final Grade: I would award a B or B+ (of course, it is self administered!).
Comments invited.

Dan - You Won't Have The Curse to Milk Anymore

Tim is Oh So Right - Shaughnessy outed and unmasked himself in today's Globe as a self-appointed trend creator and iconic sportswriter who gleefully mined the 86 year misfortune and misery of a region into a lucrative career. What Shaughnessy actually regrets losing is any semblance of relevance or importance to the Boston sports scene, overtaken by a combination of a (finally) winning team, omnipresent 'EEI sports radio, and growing sports journalism alternatives.
No horse to ride anymore, Dan?
Let's be honest: there was no curse, never was. Made good copy though, didn't it.
But the worst part about perpetuating the curse myth is that it hid the Truth.
What was the Truth: this was a franchise that was mismanaged for decades:
- in the 30s and 40s, a team obsessed with hitting and not pitching and defense;
- in the 50s and 60s, a franchise crippled by ownership's strident racism, the last team to integrate and employed policies to limit minority representation - missing the opportunity to sign great black and Latin players (Bob Gibson comes to mind, BTW, remember him?);
- in the 70s, 80s, and 90s a franchise led by uninspired non-baseball executives and a lingering organizational emphasis on hitting, stats, and individual "stars" and not TEAM, pitching, and defense.
Once the emphasis changed - to a more well-rounded team featuring strong pitching and a solid defense, well, you know the rest. The Nomar trade illustrates the new regime's clear choices: having the courage to trade a beloved "star," for several solid if apparently unspectacular players - one of whom stole the most important base in franchise history, one of whom delivered outstanding SS defense during a stretch drive, and a first baseman who is still clinging to the final WS putout baseball.
No curse Dan; nice marketing while it lasted though.

You won't have the curse to kick around anymore

This today from Dan Shaughnessy:

"Personally, I already miss the old Red Sox a little.
"The Red Sox as we have always known them are gone forever. They never again will be the cuddly team on a near century-long, quixotic quest. They are no longer cursed and they will cease to be America's team as soon as the hangover wears off. The ghosts are purged. Buckner and Friends are off the hook. All of them.
"Now the men who play at Fenway Park are simply the World Champion Boston Red Sox. The best team in baseball.
"I guess we'll have to settle for that."

Wistful, huh? Wonder why?

It is the end of an era (and an industry): The Era of Dan Shaughnessy, Emperor of the Curse. And it could not happen to a more bitter guy.

"Cuddly team?" Has anyone made a better living than Shaughnessy off flaying the team and players and managers, et al.? How cuddly was Roger Clemens when Dan skewered him ceaselessly for being overweight, etc.?

Shaughnessy must be lost without an opponent as easy to attack as a team that never won the World Series in 86 years. Where else will he find such a target?

Ah, I have a suggestion. Cuddly immediately makes me think of the Cubs. They are a prickly bunch that he could really make a living off of. They attack the broadcasters, for heaven's sake, for telling it like it is. And their curse is not going to lifted soon -- Shaughnessy could retire in Chicago before he runs out things to say about the Cubs.

Why should he have to "settle" for bland food like a World Championship team and organization when he can dine on the filet mignon of the Cubs?

Bye, Dan. Don't let the Commissioner's trophy stab you in the ass on the way out.

Tim

Thursday, October 28, 2004

No talk about the future

The phrase "one day at a time" has never had much meaning for me - it was just too ephemeral, too intellectual for me to appreciate.
Not anymore.
The Red Sox' approach to the situation they were in after Game 3 (as it will forever be known in colloquial parlance) has convinced me that you really can succeed by taking one game -- one day -- at a time, putting all your energy and focus and skills to work the best you can that day and succeed.
And, as much as I appreciate the way the Patriots have made "one game at a time" and "team" part of the vision statement for every other NFL team, doing one game at a time 16 or 18 0r 21 times is not the same thing as doing it 176 times, as the Red Sox did. They really are apples and oranges, baseball and football; the only similarity is that they are games.
To John and every other lifetime suffering Red Sox fan, congratulations on being alive to witness this year.
To the media, and the fans, take it one day at a time for the next few days anyway. Forget about next week, next year, who stays, who goes. The word "savor" is overused and misused, but one definition -- "to delight in" -- applies here. Let's just savor this event, until it no longer has a taste or smell or texture. Let's not leap over the present to wrangle about the future.
The World Champion Boston Red Sox.
Tim

The Faith of Our Fathers is Redeemed: Free at Last

As with many of us, I learned my love of the game and the team from my father, a man who religiously watched (or listened to in those days) every game, with Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman, The Hawk, et. al. He never lived to see this day.
My father-in-law, who also followed every game, sat next to me on the couch during the seventh inning of Game 6 in 1986 and sternly proclaimed, " They will find a way to blow it," - and though I calmly disagreed, he was right, they did. He is now, unfortunately, in a VA hospital, suffering the latter stages of Alzheimer's
- and so he will never know this day either.
But my sons, both of them - and my daughter - have seen this day.
Martin Luther King's words come to mind: one day we will will look down from the mountain top and be able to rejoice because we are free at last. It was a long and terribly painful climb, but the view is beautiful, breathtaking.

Things I am Happy Will Change Department:
- I have now learned that the phrase "since 1918," is actually two separate words - not one inextricably mixed set of letters. Free at last.
- To the print media: Please drop the Curse thing; it was old, tired, and trite anyway. Nobody believed it, it was just cheap and easy copy fodder for lazy sportswriters. Free at last.
- To the electronic media and those covering baseball: Please drop the cliched compilations of suffering Sox videotape clips including Buckner, Pesky, Ruth, Frazee, Gibson, Dent, etc.; it too was old, tired, and uninteresting. Nobody wanted to see it anymore, it was just cheap and easy video fodder for lazy producers. Free at last.
- No more photos of a smiling Babe Ruth; No more inane trivia questions where the answer is always "No, No, Nanette," No more Bucky "F___" Dent references, and best of all - as the great Schilling wonderfully pointed out, No More dark side comments about truly great Red Sox players who have only been remembered for gaffes or failures and not for their contributions to the team and the game. Free at last.

Free at last, Free at last,.....Thank God Almighty I am Free at Last.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

And how do we FEEL now?

I cannot ignore the feeling I've had since the Yankees series that the WS -- so far -- is like a disappointing dessert after a great meal. It tastes okay, goes down well, but does not have the zing of the main course.
I guess this is inevitable given the intensity, year in and year out, of the Yankees - Sox rivalry. Before I moved to NH 16 years, ago I was a Yankee hater who lived in Virginia and rooted for the O's for years. The Yankees have perennially been the enemy, so moving north did not start that emotion, but did intensify it.
Now, on the verge of, dare I say it, this admirable Sox team winning the Series, I don't exactly know how to feel -- elated is not it (that was beating the Yankees the way the Sox did) -- and frankly, to beat a very dilapidated phrase right into the ground, it doesn't get any better than that.
There will be an inevitable denouement of emotions -- a crash, if you will -- when they do win. Several of these guys won't be here next year, and no one knows exactly who they are. I hear Pedro actually had a little catch in his throat talking about this year during an interview last night.
So be it.
Again, play hard, guys, just like it was the 7th game all over again.
Tim


The '04 Cardinals: Same as the Old Red Sox - What Do We Do Now?

Pedro did show up last night, did he ever. Shaky at first (seen a lot of that from him this year), but he settled down and appeared resolute - and even mean at times. If he leaves Boston, this Game 3 performance will be the one which is remembered most.

Tim says it's over; he's right, and it is too bad. I feel somewhat cheated, don't you? I was expecting a Rock'em Sock'em, Down-to-the-Wire World Series between the Manny/Ortiz/Damon/Schilling/Perdo Sox and the imposing Edmonds/Rolen/Renteria/Pujols/Walker lumber-swinging, defensively perfect Cardinals. The Birds Offense flew south however. The Old Baseball Saw applied: good pitching beats good hitting (ask the '67, '75, and '86 Sox BTW), as odd as it is to say about the traditionally pitching-deprived Red Sox franchise.

Why are The New Red Sox winning in a walk? The Cardinals are this year's National League incarnation of many Old Red Sox Teams: an unbelieveably good hitting lineup with just so-so pitching and a pretty good defense.
The New Red Sox are beating the Old Red Sox. As they say on Madison Avenue, New and Improved - and we Approve.
At the end of the Robert Redford movie "The Candidate," a newbie candidate surprisingly wins a U.S. Senate election he never expected he could win; the last line in the movie reveals the winning Candidate asking his Chief Strategist "What do we do, Now?" [that we have won]
My question indeed, which may come up about midnight tonight - I hope.

I would have told you so but . . .

Jeff Suppan?
Please.
Released by the Sox years ago, brought back last year, released again, not even on the playoff roster in 2003. Suppan could not play in Boston, could not deal with the intensity of the media, fans, history, expectations, yada, yada, yada. Why did anyone expect him to be better last night than he was, against a team that knew him as well as he (supposedly) knew them?
The baserunning gaffe was a bonus.
The situation is this:
The Cardinals have not (and tonight against Lowe will not) hit Boston pitching.
The Red Sox have (and will again tonight, against Marquis or Williams or whoever) hit St. Louis pitching.
Unless good defensive plays count as runs, St. Louis will be in tough shape again tonight. Lowe has much to prove, was back in his old form last time out, and I expect will be in the same form tonight.
Of course, I could be wrong. I'll just keep in mind how Steinbrenner must have felt after game 3 and check my optimism at the gate.
Play hard, Sox, just like you have been -- one game at a time.
Tim

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Defining Moment

Ever since Pedro arrived on Yawkey Way, this is the vision we had for him (and he for himself as well, I suspect): taking the mound on the grandest stage of all - a World Series game - as part of bringing a Championship to Boston. Pedro is no longer the overwhelmingly dominant force he was in 1997-1999, a veritable "Force of Nature," with the ability to both humble and humiliate an opposing team by the sheer force of his focused will and physical talent. Still, he has more than enough talent and skills to subdue this tough Cardinals lineup and put the Red Birds in a terrible Three Games to none hole.

This is a defining moment for Pedro; he may never get this opportunity again. He has had plenty of rest, is healthy, and is better equipped than many Sox pitchers to throw in a National League park and rules set; he's been there, done that.
Time to show us what you are made of Pedro, and earn the $17.5M you are making.
If you don't have anything left in your tank, then don't be surprised or "hurt," if Theo et. al. don't offer you more big buckos over the off season.

Monday, October 25, 2004

And now for a touch of reality about our society

From today's Baltimore Sun:

"Does red sock on Schilling's foot pass the blood test?"

Laura Vecsey

Pertinent Excerpt:

"But there's a contingent of baseball watchers, including Red Sox Nation faithful, who wouldn't put it past Schilling to embellish the theatrics surrounding the management of this ankle problem.

" ' It could have a little blood mixed in there, but we'll have to check it out with the trainer,' " Red Sox director of public information Glenn Geffner said.

"On that score, we give you the New York Yankees - not that they're a totally credible source, considering their postseason misery at the hands of Schilling and the Red Sox.

"Manager Joe Torre did posit the idea that the Yankees didn't bunt more on Schilling in that fateful Game 6 of the American League Championship Series because they weren't really sure how hurt he was.

"Even factoring in the sour grapes, word out of New York is that some Yankees players wouldn't put it past Schilling to dab his sock with red magic marker, or apply generous amounts of Mercurochrome - anything to amplify the Red Sox's amazing postseason run and, of course, to hoist his stature.

"We've seen this kind of gloriously entertaining act before: Hall of Fame athletes doing whatever it takes to guarantee not only victory, but also the long and glorious shelf life of their legend.

"We give you Joe Namath and the January 1969 Super Bowl.

"At the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, after the Canadian Olympic hockey team won the gold medal, there was Wayne Gretzky, impish grin unleashed, digging at the rink ice.

"From beneath the surface, the Great One chipped out a Canadian coin. It was a looney, which Gretzky said he had buried there to ensure good luck for the Canadians."

Hey, Laura, how do you like this: "You are a liar." Now prove you are not.

And, a point of logic, how could Namath have been embellishing his reputation when his reputation was made only after he actually fulfilled his prediction?

Newspapers will let anyone on their staffs these days, especially, I gather, people with a famous last names.

Tim

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Finally, the Wound is Healed

It has been 26 years for me, since that chilly day at the Fens when a wound was opened - raw and searing. It wasn't really the Dent HR that got to me that day. I was just to the 3B side of home plate, a dozen or so rows back - which means I could clearly see the face of a LH batter at the plate. And I did.
I was a chilly day as I recall, but sunny - one of those cold, clear fall afternoons when the sun goes down very quickly. I was dressed warmly in an old Army fatigue jacket and gloves, a sweater, and heavy sox (not red, BTW). It was the last time I would go to Fenway for several years.
The loss hurt, but what hurt the most that day was the Look; the awful, pained Look on Yaz' face when he popped up to third to end the game. He had been my favorite player as a boy growing up; I was too young to recall Teddy Ballgame. I will remember that terribly hurt expression all of my days. And over the years, nothing has been able to salve that wound - nothing.
Now, it is healed. The scar is till there, but it no longer hurts. It is now something that just happened.
Thanks boys.
Time to do some bird hunting.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A Full Gloating Zone of Post Posts and Quotes

What the NY press is saying today (Gloat away!):
from the NY Post (www.nypost.com)
"The Red Sox have their Waterloo, 1918. Now the Yankees have theirs, 2004. This was the Ultimate Choke."
"This was the night the Empire fell."
"...the Red Sox have destroyed the Evil Empire.
The Olde Towne Team danced on Babe's grave last night at Yankee Stadium. Their former House of Horrors is now their house.......On this night, the Red Sox were so confident they would beat the Yankees, they didn't even bother to take batting practice. That would come later against Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez."
"...there was so much blame to shovel around the Yankee clubhouse they needed to pay the grounds crew overtime.....the most stunning choke in the history of baseball, an egregious gag. "
"...what this newer generation of Yankees has become: a whole pile of gaudy numbers, with not a hell of a lot to show for it in the end."(reminds one of generations of Red Sox players, eh?)
"...The Curse of the Bambino ....is over now, ending in The House that Ruth Built."
"...The Red Sox were Michael Corleone in the final scene of "The Godfather," settling all scores accumulated over 86 frustrating years."
"...starting last night a new reality had swept baseball -- The Curse of A-Rod."
"...Yankees are supposed to make history, not be history.
Curt Schilling was right: Aura and Mystique are topless dancers, and Destiny showed up last night and danced on a pinstriped grave. "
"This monumental upset in front of the monuments was the symbolic equivalent of Pedro Martinez throwing not only old rhino Don Zimmer, but every Yankee and every Yankees fan to the ground. "
"October 20, 2004. A date that will live in Yankees infamy."

At least they can write folks.


All in one night

Beat the Yankees . . .
in Yankee Stadium . . .
in Game 7 of the ALCS . . .
by a wide margin . . .
to go the World Series . . .
and made real history -- 100-year kind of history . . .
Now, name me a more important day in Boston sports history. Go on.
Cannot be done.
On to wherever and whatever.
Buy the hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts, stickers, shot glasses, pennants, et al., folks. This time, all are worthy of being called artifacts of history.
No point in recounting the details - every one of you saw them or you would not be visiting this site. But for me this is the most insightful, meaningful comment on the nature of this team. I think it was Derek Lowe, but it might have been Millar, I just cannot remember, but someone on this team said that Dave Roberts was the most valuable player for stealing second and scoring in game 4. Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is not your average team -- and most definitely not 25 guys, 25 cabs.
Praise to the Belichick-led Patriots for showing the way to building a TEAM in pro sports.
Now, let's have some fun!
Tim

Is It Possible? How sweet it is!

Is It Possible that a pitcher judged not good enough to be in the starting playoff rotation could be the most valuable pitcher in the ALCS?

Is It Possible that the Red Sox could win a seven game series from the Yankees in which Manny Ramirez does not get a single HR or RBI?

Is It Possible that the Red Sox could win a seven game series from the Yankees in which Pedro Martinez does not win a single game?

Is It Possible that the Red Sox could win a seven game series from the Yankees in which the Sox lose the first three games, display sloppy base running, and embarrass themselves trying to execute a simple bunt?

Is It Possible that the Red Sox could win a seven game series from the Yankees in which their Number One starter is shelled in Game One, appears to be gone for the year with a severe tendon problem in his ankle, but returns to pitch a dominant Game Six with a sutured and bleeding ankle ?

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and we have received two great gifts this year:
- the Red Sox are in the World Series
- By beating the Yankees four straight, causing the Biggest Choke in History, bar none.

As the Great One used to shout: How sweet it is!
Who's Your Daddy Now, Georgie Porgie?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

And you think Red Sox players say dumb things

This from the Jim Caple article on ESPN.com:

"I don't want those guys [umpires] to meet anymore," Alex Rodriguez said after he was called for runner interference for his bush league play when he knocked the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's hand. "Every time they meet, it goes against the Yankees. I told John Hirschbeck: No more meetings."

"I told John Hirschbeck: No more meetings."?

And to think some people in Boston actually wanted this jerk to play for the Red Sox! Give me the idiots, the "my daddy" remarks, and every other goofy thing the Sox players may have ever said or may ever say -- even the Mo Vaughan line, "It's not about the money." Rodriguez had a big head when he got to NY -- I didn't think it was filled with apple strudle.

Let's just put his picture in the dictionary next to the word, "arrogance," and skip the definition.

Is there any more discussion necessary about the sense of entitlement Yankees (and their bottle-throwing fans) have about the World Series and the pennant? I think not.

Here's hoping "they" get all the calls right again tonight.

Tim

Real "Natural" Blood; Best Game 6 Quote

For those who were wondering, yes that was real blood on Schilling's ankle last night - talk about exorcising ghosts! Holy Roy Hobbs! Sparks fly next!

And from Jim Caple at ESPN.com: the best quote from the Red Sox on the prospect of Game 7 pressure: "Boston first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said, "We've been playing Game 7 since Game 4."

Tighten your seat belts folks..... it's going to be a bumpy night (Thanks Betty!)

Here we go again

It is probably heresy in Red Sox Nation territory to begin any sentence with "Win or lose Game 7," but lots of heretics throughout history were right.
Win or lose Game 7, has this not been the most energizing, exciting, and exhausting baseball contest you have ever witnessed? (Well, for me, it might be a close second to watching my son's 12-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars win an 18 inning game over two days in the district tournament four years ago, but that's a personal list, not one for the history books.)
How long before a "blood on the sock" photo of Schilling ends up on t-shirts and in posters hanging in kids' bedrooms?
How long before the photo of Rodriguez slapping the ball from Arroyo's glove becomes the favorite symbol of Yankee haters everywhere? Did that not look like an act of desperation worthy of an 8-year-old T-ball player? And this is the greatest shortstop of the last decade? I am willing to bet that Cal Ripken Jr. threw up in his living room at that play.
How long before the Bellhorn Lives! shirts turn up online?
How long before the nickname "Francoma" disappears from our vocabulary?
When do you think you will go to bed tonight?
And how do you think you will feel tomorrow? If you have any self-respect, you better feel pretty damn good -- win or lose. This is history in the making. For Manny's sake, enjoy it!
Tim

Boy, Was I Wrong......A Gutty Team Indeed.

In the wake of the disheartening 19-8 debacle in the ALCS Game 3, I wrote on these pages that this Red Sox team had choked and appeared gutless.

I was obviously wrong - very wrong - and seldom so happy that I have been. I apologize to the Red Sox and RSN. This team has guts - win game seven or not - maybe more guts than any previous Sox team.

With the opportunity to completely crush the Red Sox for good, already down three games to none, it has been the Empire that has blinked, choked, and folded in Games 4, 5, and 6. Whether the outcome was ultimately a Win or a Loss in Game 6, Schilling's gutty and completely dominant pitching performance has to go down as one of the great clutch appearances in baseball history - akin to a hobbled Kirk Gibson's immortalized pinch-hit HR against Oakland. Schilling, often a public lightning rod because of his propensity to say what he thinks, offered the ultimate backup for that behavior, and has earned the right to say anything, anytime in my opinion. The Horse, and the leader this team has needed - he leads by doing.

Men In Black

And credit is due to the umpiring crew - after blowing several calls in favor of the Empire so far this Series - they caucussed about Bellhorn's HR and A-Rod's groundout/interference play. They took the time and care to get it right, in a critical situation, so the player's could rightly decide the outcome. Nice job.

Tito

Kudos to Tito: he has rallied this team when they could easily have folded after taking a humiliating Game 3 beating, has made the right pitching moves when needed, and gave his players a chance to stay in it. Theo may have been exactly right: he was the right guy for this frenzied town, obsessive press, and freaked-out franchise. Good job - win or lose game 7. Nice job, Tito. I think you earned a return engagement in '05.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

And one more thing

No way Lieber pitches the same way again tonight. He is known as a journeyman for a reason.
Watch out for two things: weather (it is going to suck tonight -- better for rugby than baseball) and fatigue. This game could be ugly right from the start. You know the stats -- 26 innings, more than 850 pitches, 13 pitchers, blah, blah, blah. In any other sport, performance expectations would be low given the fact that these guys (both teams) are playing the equivalent of 4 games in about 48 hours. Sorry, but given that all of them are probably wrung out emotionally and physically, this will be a game where pitching is likely to be more dominant and important than ever.
Let's hope Schilling is not all balls and bluster . . . (see my last post).
Tim

Home, Home on the Range . . . oops, that was last year

Cowboy Up may be dead as a rallying cry, but it seems like the attitude lives on in the 2004 Sox players.
More than 100 years of baseball history says it cannot be done - you cannot win four in a row after losing three in a row in a playoff series - not because of history itself, mind you, but the history is as it is because coming back from a 3-0 deficit is just very, very, very hard - too hard for any single team to ever have done it.
Nevertheless, the last two nights of Red Sox-Yankees baseball makes Cowboy Up come to mind and makes you wonder whether this is the year that breaks not only curses, but tradition.

Okay, sentimentality aside, to the wonders of the last two nights (both exciting and not so exciting).

Exciting:
  • David Ortiz: The Red Sox paying this man $6M a year to play baseball is downright fraud on the team's part. They lied to him about his value and he believed them. Two game-winning hits in the ALCS in back-to-back games? If history is made, and the Sox get to and win a game 7, is not David Ortiz the new Mr. October?
  • Derek Lowe: Remember, this guy had to put aside or forget about a pretty miserable season where he lost control of his sinker and could not begin to figure out where to find it, suffer the indignity of going from super starter to end of the bullpen bench guy (he won more games than any other ML starter in 2002-2003), then recover his pitch and his dignity almost overnight to pitch when Schilling went down -- and pitch well enough to keep his team alive in the game.
  • Orlando Cabrera: Sign him and the Sox are guaranteed every routine play and many, many outrageous plays, at short. There is no more important position after pitcher, and if Derek Lowe (and players to be named later) are no longer with the team, find a way to pay him. Sorry, but Omar Vizquel won't do. Cabrera also is hitting when it counts.
  • Pedro Martinez: Yeah, he's probably going to New York or Anaheim next year (my personal bet is against it), but he has pitched the best games by starters so far for the Sox in this series, and got hung out (again) last night beyond what he is now capable of. The facts are indisputable about the magic number of 100, so why continue to imagine or hope that he is 1999-2000 Pedro? He did what he was capable of doing -- he cannot do anymore. Get used to it -- I will bet that his next manager will grasp the facts quickly.
  • Tim Wakefield: Heart, heart, heart. The guy is all heart and a flutterball. Voluntarily giving up a start to pitch in a bloodbath, and then pitching three shutout innings last night, including retiring the heart of the Yankees order - what more can you ask of a teammate?
  • Keith Foulke: Now you see why he is here -- his record against the Yankees speaks for itself. Amazing performance Sunday night, another one last night. And with no real heat to speak of, just guile and a great change-up.
  • Bill Mueller: Some great fielding and smart hitting. He is perhaps more valuable for his defense in this series than offense (but that's subjective).

In the middle somewhere:

  • Curt Schilling: If he is 85% of the real Curt Schilling tonight, the game (like the last two) will be an instant classic. The man has heart, and balls. Let's hope he can be brutally honest with himself if his ankle hurts too much to pitch and give the ball to someone else.

Now for the not so exciting:

  • Johnny Damon: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn how to bunt.
  • Manny Ramirez: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn how to run the bases.
  • Mark Bellhorn: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn the strike zone.
  • Mike Timlin: Shaky, shaky, shaky lately. Last night was much better. Perhaps you should stay angry all of the time.

Yeah, I'll keep watching -- but turning my head in the scary parts.

Tim


Monday, October 18, 2004

Winners Win, Losers...............

Matsui is a winner, a guy who has looked better each time I have seen him this year. He is not spectacular, he just gets it done - very workmanlike - and plays hard.

Are the Red Sox "rebuilding" now (without Lowe, and possibly Pedro and Varitek and Cabrera - all free agents)?
So who are the five starters next year? :et's see: Schilling (surgery permitting), Wakefield, Arroyo, .........,..............
You may like him, but for me, it is time to get rid of Millar - the only possible way to shut him up. Let him have streaks elsewhere and play Doug M. at first and let him develop his bat.

Is Grady Little smiling somewhere right now?
I hate to think of facing these Yankees next year if they sign Carlos Beltran.

Don't you hate the way Fox plants stars for its series in the stands and then subjects us to shameless plugs as the camera watches them try to act as if they are interested in the baseball game? And ditch the in-diamond cam - adds nothing to the broadcast.

Ever wonder what Jerry Remy does over the winter (all soaps all the time)??

More later............



Sunday, October 17, 2004

Musings of a Miserable Fellowship

- When did you give up and shut the TV off? (Sixth for me - only because I was eating dessert. It would have - and should have - been earlier.)
- OK Grady Little haters, you have to admit that he did get them at least to Game 7 of the ALCS instead of this embarrassing and humiliating Yankees whipping we are enduring.
- What's the opposite of stepping up in a pressure situation? (hint: it rhymes with broke)
- Arroyo did not have it tonight. A disappointment, but neither did Pedro - and he makes $17.5M. (Have I ever mentioned that Pedro makes $17.5M.........???)
- Sometimes baseball is so simple: like, er Duh, base running.
- Aren't you glad you didn't fork over your next mortgage payment to get a seat to the game tonight?
- Blessings in Disguise Dept.: Friday's rainout ticketholders can now likely get a refund when the Hose get completely hosed in four straight!
- Will you be eager and willing to pay even higher Red Sox ticket prices in '05?
- Got a sinking feeling, a black pit in your stomach? So does Theo, and John Henry, et. al.
- Will heads roll? Unlikely - though Grady got canned after blowing last year's ALCS.....
- What would comes to your RSN mind? For me, it is PATHETIC; for both the $129M payroll team's performance and the broadcast team working the Fox telecast. Somebody please stuff a sock in McCarver's mouth! The Twins gave the Yankees a tougher time that these pansies.
- Will you watch Game 4? If so, WHY?
- I hope St. Louis or The Rocket kick the Yankees ass. That is the only way to redeem anything from this miserable fall, knowing at least that Georgie is miserable too.
- Do what I do: Boycott Fenway and spend your hard-earned money in Pawtucket, Nashua, Norwich, Lowell, Portland, etc. They appreciate their fans more, play hard, and don't charge $50+ for a ticket.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Which "C" Word - Curse, or, Choke?

Enjoying the ALCS so far? (see the Post below - Empire Respect, and a Warning for an I told you so)
Bomber fans and sportswriters are - lots of grist for the obsession and taunting mill.
Pedro did pitch well in Game Two - but journeyman Jon Lieber pitched even better. If you are making $17.5M and with Pedro's experience, you should be better - but this is perhaps as well as a typical Number 2 starter can do, which is all Pedro really is.
Now, the Red Sox chances are left in the hands of those judged less than capable of even starting the first two games: Arroyo, Wakefield (who did pitch in relief already BTW), and much maligned Derek Lowe.
[Hey sports fans, even the Minnesota Twins managed one win against the Empire, and at the Stadium to boot. I hate to think these Hose don't have enough stones to eke out a single win.]
Even trailing in a close game such as the second one, the $129M payroll Sox declined to play any real small ball and instead relied on lost swingers such as Kevin Millar to wave at Lieber's breaking balls.
Where's Dave Roberts, Kapler, and Mirabelli for a change of pace? Don't try to tell me they will perform any worse than the lineup in the last two games; how can they?
If this team has any real guts, they will win one or two before finally folding.
And if they don't, as was written the other day on another Web site, this could qualify as The Biggest Choke in History.
Don't like that characterization? Hurts doesn't it. OK then, What would YOU call it?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Another Curse? Mike Celizic & The Curse of Zim

Mike Celizic, a contributor to NBCSports.com, on why the Red Sox WILL win it and the others won't.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6169225/

Worth the trip! Mike does a nice job on these pieces.
BTW: Wouldn't Ellis Burks be a good candidate for Manager at Single A Lowell?

John

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mamma Mia! Cabrera Wins By a Nose!

Cubbies were eliminated today - screwing up one of my pre-season picks. Oh well.
But, time for my favorite, easy lay-up sporting event: Nomar Bashing!!!
This Special Annual Cubbies Wake Edition: Nomar vs. Cabrera, Just the Facts, Ma'am.
[Since THE Trade]
AB: Nomah 134, Cabrera 224
R: Nomah 22, Cabrera 32
H: Nomah 40, Cabrera 66
2B: Nomah 10, Cabrera 18
3B: Nomah 0, Cabrera 1
HR: Nomah 4, Cabrera 6
RBI: Nomah 16, Cabrera 30
BB: Nomah 10, Cabrera 11
SO: Nomah 12, Cabrera 23
SB: Nomah 2, Cabrera 4
CS: Nomah 1, Cabrera 1
B-AVG: Nomah .299, Cabrera .295
SLG: Nomah .463, Cabrera .464
OPS: Nomah .817, Cabrera .785
Total Chances: Nomah 159, Cabrera 230
Errors, FPCT: Nomah 3/.981, Cabrera 8/.965
RF: Nomah .405, Cabrera .415

Surprise folks - Nomah played better SS for the Cubs (statistically anyway, though look at the differences in Chances) while Cabrera outhit and outslugged Nomie. Mamma Mia! Who woulda thunk it!
Yes, I know Nomie was hurt, Nomie fans. But he would have been hurt if he stayed here as well (maybe worse?). Now, he has plenty of time to rest up during the free-agent lottery season to see which idiot GM will pay him $16 or $17M.

Bottom Line: Cabrera outplayed Nomar because he played when his club needed him to, hit better than was expected of him, hit for both decent power and decent average, and didn't cause distractions.
And, he hasn't asked for $17M yet - and probably won't. He's also going to be busy for most of October.
Thanks for your time and attention folks!
Bashing Now Ended. You may resume your normal programming.

John's Regular Season Scorecard, Sox

One of the great attributes of a 162 game baseball season is the ability of fans and observers to monitor a team's and an individual players performance over that grueling stretch, and then summarize it. It is a fun and interesting analysis because over such a long stretch, almost any great player or mere mortal will reveal periods of days, weeks, or even months of lackluster or worse performance and yet still be judged a success considering other days, weeks, or even months of consistent and timely contributions. It's like life folks - you better do good on some days because you know there will be other days when you are going to whiff at it, and look ugly.

- Schilling: A; lived up to high expectations on the field, dealt with Boston's oppressive media circus in his own way, and brought leadership to the clubhouse. The Man, and The Man for October (we hope)
- Pedro: B+: The Old Pedro is not walking through that door folks, but the solid Number Two starter we had this year got it done without another major public controversy - in a contract year as well. Hope he comes back, but not for $15M - $10-$12M is more like it.
- Manny: A; delivered the numbers, no dumb off-field controversies, played better defense, and completely ignored the off-season A-Rod trade quagmire which killed off Nomar's relationship with the club. The MVP, team and AL.
- Damon: A; whatever you do, keep the hair Sampson, it's working. Not many steals, but that is a managerial decision. Played a good (not great) CF, and had great RBIs for a leadoff man. Finally lived up to the big contract he signed.
- Lowe: D; had stretches in the mid-to-late season where he had quality starts, but clearly not the pitcher he was in '02 or '03 with enough terrible starts to put him on the High Risk list. Won't be back in '05, and that is OK, He needs a change of scenery.
- Wakefield: C+; how does one rate Wake at applying the Black Magic art of the knuckler? He showed up, made all the starts, eats up innings, plays well against NY, will finish over .500, and win 11 or 12 games. That's OK from your Number Four starter in today's MLB folks.
-Arroyo: B; for his first Major League season, better than most expected from the Number Five starter. Aren't you looking forward to watching this kid mature in '05? Will replace Lowe in the rotation next year, and be solid.
- Cabrerra: B+; walked straight into a fan firestorm and emerged as the shortstop we want most to re-sign for '05. Great defense, hit a surprising .280, and a solid, gutty citizen.
- Bellhorn: B; better than simply a refreshed version of Todd Walker, provided a generally solid if unspectacular second base, consistent but sometimes bi-polar offense. However the colossal "K" tally from a No. 2 hitter keeps me from ranking him higher. Helped carry this team during its summer .500 doldrums, a notable achievement.
-Foulke: B+; generally delivered on his contract and expectations, though showed two stretches of unreliable mediocrity we are hoping don't emerge again in the playoffs.
- Varitek: A-; still the "unofficial" team leader (even though he doesn't want the job), great handling of the pitching staff, good plate numbers, and stayed healthy - an achievement for a catcher who plays 120+ games. An absoultely "must sign" in the post-season.
- Timlin, Embree: B; about as expected - mostly good outings with occasional stinkers thrown in. Asked to do a lot this year as the starting pitching, schilling aside, often failed to get past the fifth or sixth.
- Rest of the Bullpen: C-; Lots of bodies here, gladly many won't make the post-season roster or be back in '05. Unfortunately, at mid-season we traded a very good-looking prospect (John Hattig at AA) for Toronto's Terry Adams, who may not make the post-season roster.

Rest of the Team: in Part II.