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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Giving Thanks and Recognizing Sacrifice

Thanksgiving - a day set aside for the express purpose of giving thanks for all the gifts and blessings we have received this past year. Here are a few:

- At long last, we, the humble baseball fans of New England, can say we are the unquestioned World Champions of the baseball universe. After much suffering, sacrifice, and patience our harvest has come. Enjoy the bounty! Thanks Theo, John H. and Tom W - and Terry F.

- Ditto for the World Champion New England Patriots, clearly the best coached and best managed franchise in all of the NFL. Thanks to Bob Kraft and Bill B. and Scott P.

- Thanks to all the great minor and independent teams in New England - offering great and affordable baseball any night of the week, all summer long, all across New England.

- Thanks to the men and women in our Armed Forces serving everywhere - especially in harm's way - who missed not only the baseball season but sharing the table on Thanksgiving Day.

- Our thanks and hearts go out to the families of those killed or wounded in our Armed Forces; we will offer a prayer for you today.

- Thanks for living in the greatest sports town in America, and the prospect of a new and wonderful season just a few months away.

A Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to all our readers and their families.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

You talkin' to me?

Yeah, me, the RSN fan?
Then I say: Get rid of 'em all -- Martinez, Cabrera, Varitek, Lowe, Mirabelli, et al. Who needs those money-grubbing SOBs anyway? They want too much, and we can win without 'em, we can win with Johnny, Manny, Trot, Mark, David, Bill, Pokey, and any old catcher and any old shortstop and Carl and Al and maybe even Barry (as in Zito). Cut 'em all loose. We don't need 'em.
And we can do it cheaper than last year, too. Hey, we got Mastermind Theo -- he'll find a way. It's our destiny, our time.
And while the Sox are at it, add some more seats with the money they save.
I want my players to play and shut up. I want to go back to the 1950s when we did not know about all the bad stuff the players did and they did not want to talk to us. It's "Just win, baby" for me, and that does not include any whining or bitching or backtalk. I don't let my kids do it, and neither should the Sox. I want character guys, like Schilling, a good Red State guy. Maybe a few more like him would be good. It's okay when he talks, though, 'cause he says things I want to hear.
#1 RSN Fan, that's me.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Spend Your Refund at McCoy

Mark Your calendar - Opening Day at McCoy for the 2005 PawSox Season is Friday evening (7:05pm of course!) vs. the Buffalo Bisons - April 15th. So, go on down to McCoy after you mail in your 1040 - and remember, PawSox tix are not deductible, unfortunately. The PawSox start the season on the road at Indianapolis before coming home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Fan Paradigm Shift: Winning, Not Stars

It is disappointing to hear that Jason "$50M+ and No Trade" Varitek is likely gone as a Red Sox, but I can live with it. I learned to live without Nomah, Clemens, Mo Vaughn, Lawyer Milloy, and Drew Bledsoe as well. And in all the cases except possibly Clemens, team management was right to trade them or let them go.
So, while I am very fond of 'Tek and Pedro ($15M for a 6 inning pitcher?), Georgie Porgie can have him if he is willing to tie up $60M in a fragile arm and (another) irritable personality.

Theo Epstein and Bill Belichek have been teaching star-obsessed Boston area fans a lesson in sports team management and leadership the last few years:
- it is about the team and winning, not exhaulted and beloved personalities;
- it is about value for payroll dollars (especially in the cap-driven NFL) across the entire roster;
- it is about focus on the dimensions of sports that don't make the most interesting highlight clips on SportsCenter but win you championships (like defense and pitching in baseball, and defense and execution period in football);
- and like any successful large business, it is about having a strategy to run the business and accomplish your goals, and sticking to that despite losing key people, and making sure you - and not your employees - run the business.
Sports is, after all, a business. Besides making money, for the fans the business of sports is winning - which makes the best entertainment.
'Bye Jason and Pedro.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Free Agent Derby Gets Interesting, and, Scary

- It may seem like a minor thing to you, but are you as worried about losing Doug Mirabelli as I am? Not only is he perhaps the best backup catcher in the AL, but who is going to catch the knuckler if he bolts?
- Omar Visquel and Christian Guzman are both off the SS market now - and both signed for about $4M annually. For the Red Sox, the choices would appear to be pay somebody (like Cabrera) - with both a bat and a glove - in the neighborhood of $6M-$8M per year, or sign somebody just for the glove (Pokey, for example) in the $2M-$3M range, and use the leftover dough to add pitching or somebody like Troy Glaus.
- Free agent arms? Yeah, lots of them out there. Here's a pitch for Al Leiter: lefty (nice!), went 10-8 last year with a BAD Mets club - 30 starts, 173+ innings (138H, 16HRs, 117Ks) 3.21 ERA and a .218 BAA. Leiter will probably cost in the $8M range - the Mets decided he wasn't worth a $10M option. My pitch: with a solid offensive and defensive team like the Red Sox, the ERA and other stats tell me he could win 15 - replacing the Lowe factor; and he's a southpaw.
- Pavano is coming to dinner, at Curt's: if it works, good luck to Curt and Shonda. I think Curt has taken a real liking to the Boston baseball scene; it is as intense as he is and that's the way he likes it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Nation's Mind on Various Topics

We run various polls on this site to take a guage of RSNs current thinking - or other baseball topics as the time dictates. This fall our site visitors have spoken:
- for New England minor league team favorite, the Pawtucket Red Sox easily won our poll, which included all affiliated and non- teams in the area. No surprises there: a great venue and excellent baseball, with nice people running at McCoy to boot. You gotta go.
- Red Sox MVP: Ortiz, baby, beating out Manny and 'Tek. A tough call but how can you argue?
- Reaction to winning a World Series Championship? It is wonderful says RSN, but now we are ready to win it again. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't - it feels so good we gotta do this again.

When the Nation speaks, well, there is baseball wisdom in those fingers and wrists friends.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bring Back The Pokemon!

Yo! Theo! Of course we trust you, but if I had your ear for a moment: Here's a pitch to bring back free agent Pokey Reese for '05. These are my reasons:
1. Short money, really.
2. Versatile: Can play short and second, or perhaps third if needed.
3. Speed. Nice-to-have on the bench, as we found out in the ALCS.
4. Unlike most of your position players, can actually bunt.
5. We learned in '04 how important defense really is - for the pitching staff especially. We can get a bat for the bench almost anywhere.
6. How many times does a team go through a full 162 game season with a completely healthy infield? Very few, if any, I would speculate. Very comforting I think to know The Pokemon is on the bench, ready and waiting.
7. Think Vacuum Cleaner.
8. Seems like a good clubhouse guy.
No, he really can't hit and maybe belongs in the National League because of that, but, see No. 6.

Collective Wisdom and Observation vs. Replay

The GMs have decided, for now, to shelve the possibility of using Instant Replay technology to mitigate umpiring decisions in baseball, a decision - for now - I agree with. However, the GMs missed an opportunity to apply the umpiring lessons learned this post-season, namely that mandating every umpiring team to huddle, compare notes, and focus on getting the call right when there is a dispute should be the order of the day.
As it is, it appears to be the decision of the crew chief whether to have umpires compare opinions or observations, and that is wrong. Some crew chiefs are open to discussing calls, some are definitely not; it should be consistent and an open process.
Discussing calls should be the rule.....and while not strictly a "challenge," a manager should have the right to request a review or umpiring discussion for some of the events envisioned for a review by replay (fair/foul HR, basepath issues, etc.)

Today's Associated Press story notes that MLB's Sandy Alderson says that according to the QuesTec computer system, umpires correctly called more than 93 percent of the 120,026 pitches that were either judged balls or strikes. And they said that all 68 umpires met the expected standard of at least 90 percent. And they got the post-season calls mostly correct, without replay.
So, for now, let's go with the collective (not individual) experience and judgment of the umpires and keep baseball replay free.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Projecting the future

Roger Clemens' elevation to his own, probably unreachable pedestal with 7 Cy Young awards made me think about the past, his past with the Sox, and how, in my opinion, he was rejected by management for all the wrong reasons.
The argument, as I recall it, was that he had been a mediocre (especially for him) pitcher the previous three years and that he had gotten fat and lost his desire and his pitching (not throwing) skills, all of which, visibly, was accurate, and that he had a bad attitude (which is debatable, in my opinion).
But the scourging he received in the media (Dan Shaughnessy in particular loved to wield the whip) also comes to mind. The power of the media (read: guys who cannot play but who talk about guys who can as if they were slugs, unfit to wear a uniform) combined with a weak-kneed and unapproachable ownership and management led to the now famous proclamation that they were letting go (not trading, letting go for FREE) a player in the twilight of his career. Amazing how quickly they went from shrewd judges of talent and value to dolts. (The doltishness kept up when Dan Duquette tried to shed his parsimonious image by overpaying Manny Ramirez.) (Dan and Dan -- interesting)
So, anyway, tell me now that they were right. Tell me now that they did not confuse their personal feelings and did not get influenced by the personal feelings of the media and fans when they did not even try to get a player for Clemens. Tell me that was good business. Tell me that there are not dumb deals made everyday among teams for mediocre players.
Now tell me: Is the current management going to be swayed by fans and media when they make their decisions about whom to keep for next year from the ridiculously large crop of Sox free agents? Are they going to let the bleatings and boastings from Scott Boras on WEEI influence their decision on Varitek? Or the bleatings and whinings of the EEI wizards or the callers?
Let's hope there are not dumb moves here, ones based solely on economics, that ignore the realities of how important certain people are to the future success of the Sox. Fair offers made and accepted or rejected are all I want to hear about these coming few weeks.
And let's hope the players choose the team above their own dollar dreams. They began to play as kids because they loved it and they kept playing because they wanted to win and they won because they played together better than anyone else. I do not hear Mark McGwire complaining about the millions he left on the table by staying in St. Louis because he loved it there. How many more millions does one need to ensure the economic well-being of the next four generations of his family?
Tim

Roger: What a Ride!

It seems I am apologizing a lot lately for being consistently wrong, so here goes another: Sorry to Roger Clemens, I wish things between you and the Sox had worked out differently.

Like many Sox fans, the idea of you in Pinstripes, competing against the Red Sox in post-season, just rubbed me the wrong way.............and i could not get over it. Also, it was apparent that, to be nice, you could be a real prick sometimes.
I guess I never understood you until recently. I have to admit two obvious facts: you are one of the greatest pitchers of all time (maybe not THE Best as some are saying - I don't believe in comparing eras, but you are up there certainly in the Top 10), and you are the fiercest of competitors; a modern-day Ty Cobb perhaps. Somebody who may lack real personal graces and qualities, but who is just an all-out competitor and warrior - and sometimes prick du jour.

It was those personality characteristics or traits that made you the Man hard to like, and we tend to ingore or diminish the achievements of people we don't like. Your achievements are so substantial they cannot be hidden by personal blinders.
Roger - Sorry you had to leave; your fault or Duquette's fault, it doesn't matter now.
Congrats on a Seventh Cy Young and a truly great, great career.
I am still not sure I would like to be a personal friend of yours, but you are a player for the Ages.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

MLB: You Have No Clue, and, Stick Your $5 You Know Where.

By now you have probably seen or heard about MLB's plans: they will be "offering" an "official," wallet-size membership card to ''Red Sox Nation," for only $5.

Five bucks to join RSN, think about that for a minute. This is a new low for those greedy and arrogant morons at MLB, a sports marketing organization with the savvy of a squashed slug. What do these meatheads think - that because the Red Sox finally won the WS that we have all turned into brain-dead, slavish souvenir buyers (well, OK some of us have.) What's next: an "official" Red Sox logo Kevin Millar signature shot glass? An Official Dale Sveum Third Base Coach secret decoder ring (gives the proper advance sign when aligned with the ladder on the Monster and the Citgo sign)? An Official Curt Schilling Autographed Bloody Sox - matching left and rights?

Folks, MLB has no clue. Becoming a member of RSN takes more than simply forking over $5. It takes sitting for hours in right field's 1930s-era wooden grandstand seats with your head twisted toward the infield so you can see what is happening. It means frantically tuning up and down the AM radio dial as you drive south/north at night, trying to find the next station on the Sox radio network before the inning is over. It means you are willing to pay exorbitant ticket, concession, parking, and other prices to see your team. It means waiting in line in February for next September's tickets. I could go on but you get the picture; funny, MLB doesn't and they are paid to.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

1 Week Later: Have You Come Down Yet?

Are you enjoying the omnipresent 2004 Officially Licensed World Series souvenirs, the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated, and scattered store and business signage congratulating the World Champion Boston Red Sox (nice ring to that phrase, isn't there?)
Have you settled down yet?
Does it seem real to you yet?
The No. 1 poll on our site indicates that as much as people are enjoying this - they can't wait for next year to do it again. Now we know why Yankees fans are the way they are (in part, anyway).
Well, for me one week later, it still feels pretty damn good, thank you for asking.
And like Manny, I can't wait to raise the flag and observe the distribution of the rings in full view of Jeter, A-Rod, et. al. What a delicious moment - worth enduring a long cold winter for.

A Suggestion to the Nation: We should start a collection among the Red Sox Nation, a nickel here, a dime there. It adds up.
What for? i suggest we use the money to rent a luxury box at Fenway for Opening Day, and invite Georgie Porgie and his staff up for the game as the free guest of RSN to see the championship flag hoisted and the WS rings given out.
Delicious!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

VOTE

And, for you hard-core fans, voting today may be a little less convenient, but it is a hell of a lot more important than voting Schilling onto the All-Star Team.
Tim

Monday, November 01, 2004

Drunken Idiots? OK with Me Folks; It Works

No it isn't an example for the youngsters - in fact I don't think what these players do a lot of the season (especially on the road) is fit to hold up as an example to be followed. (remember "Ball Four," anyone, or other baseball memoirs?)
So what. They're adults,... rich (and single) adults in the public eye, and they do nothing very much different than other atheletes or pop icons (rock stars and movie stars anyone?)

The problem is media-hound Kevin Millar; said before on these pages: SHUT UP, jerk.
Besides, if all it took the last 86 years to win it all is a few stiff shots in the clubhouse before the game to get things going and win - THEN WHY THE HELL DIDN'T WE DO IT BEFORE?

Why argue with success? Set'em up barkeep! It's on me!

New England: Put down your Bibles

and your Official Politically Correct Handbooks.
The fact that Kevin Millar said the players and the manager drank shots before a game -- IF that is true and not just Millar's tendency toward hyperbole -- does not bother me a bit. That he announced it to the world on The Best Damn Sports Show violates a key team principle - not to talk in public about locker-room events, and that does bother me. Players have virtually no privacy anyway -- the locker room should be a refuge not a place to intrude on them.
That the moralists are already out in force berating the Sox, Millar, etc., and thumping their OPC Handbooks and wringing their hands (some, of course, in glee over the chance to bring down happy Red Sox Nation) is nauseating.
Find me one person -- one -- and that includes yours truly -- who has nothing in his or her background that he or she would not be mortified to see or hear in public and I'll let the criticism go on.
The outrage that is already flying around talk radio about nine-year-olds hearing Millar say this and what a horrible example this is -- what are they doing watching something called The Best Damn Sports Show late at night anyway? -- is so utterly bogus and disingenuous that it surpasses all reason. They give all nine-year-olds a bad name -- I think most kids have more common sense than to follow the Red Sox example. (That said, we now have 27 Boston area reporters on the lookout for copycat high schoolers . . .)
First, find out if what Millar said is literally true.
Second, if it is true, let the Red Sox deal with (or deal) Millar.
Third, worry about who's running the country, not what's happening in the Sox locker room.
Fourth, get a life.
Fifth, live it.
Tim
PS: Oh, yeah -- I guess this event will resurrect Dan Shaughnessy's status -- he will get another decade's worth of cynicism and sarcasm from this one.