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Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Truth of the Mud(der)

Do you know what Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud is? If not, you should. It coated is on every MLB ball. See this discovery piece from Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger.


Staying at Fenway

Was there any real doubt about this outcome from the Henry management team (especially when you learned the playing surface was being completely dug up and rebuilt)? Building a new stadium, solely with private funds anywhere in downtown Boston, was a terrifically expensive and risky proposition for any ownership group - the Yawkey Trust management or the Henry partnership. Financially, this is the smart move folks if you were interested in "turning" your purchase investment in the club in a few years; much easier looking for a buyer or investor while not holding a three or four hundred million dollar-plus debt sheet for your facility.

Besides, rehabilitating Fenway, previously judged impractical by the Yawkey regime, likely also enhances the intangible assets associated with one of the most storied franchises in sport. The Henry group has demonstrated a deft managerial touch so far with respect to operating Fenway (Red Sox Nation cards are another matter), with the Green Monster seats one of the best examples. And now, the welcome prospect of a dismantling of the sterile, overbearing and downright ugly .400 Club glass façade behind home plate offers the chance to restore some of the park's original and traditional appearance lines.

Truth be told, the Henry group has done more in terms of trying to fixup and re-engineer Fenway, in just a few years, than the Yawkey regime did for decades - so they get a pass on this subject (and they won the World Championship to boot.)

Let's just hope any refurbishment of Fenway finds a way to eliminate the Rubber-Necking Experience associated with the right field seats.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

And now for something much funnier than baseball and steroids and Bonds whining . . .

From today's Borowitz Report (www.borowitzreport.com):
Krispy Kreme Calls Government Hearings "A Witch-hunt"
Miami Heat star Shaquille O'Neal will testify before a Congressional committee investigating rumors of widespread doughnut abuse in the National Basketball Association, the chairman of the committee confirmed today.
With a new study showing that 200 out of 426 NBA players are overweight, the probe into doughnut abuse is "long overdue" said Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.
"The NBA is an important contributor to the U.S. economy," Rep. Davis said in Washington today. "If NBA players are getting easily winded after one minute of play, the public has a right to know why."
Rumors about Mr. O'Neal's alleged doughnut abuse started in training camp this year, when, according to one source, "Shaq showed up looking really big."
In Miami, a spokesman for the perennial NBA all-star said that Mr. O'Neal was amenable to testifying before Congress, "as long as there's a break for lunch."
But even as some NBA fans applauded Congress's decision to initiate the doughnut probe, a spokesman for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. called the congressional hearings "a witch-hunt."
"Whenever athletes get fat, it's always 'blame the doughnuts,'" said spokesman Carlton Lacroix. "But what about the role that pizza plays, or loaded nachos?"
For his part, Rep. Davis remains unconvinced by such arguments: "When NBA players come out on the court with white powder under their noses, that means only one thing."

Friday, March 18, 2005

CC's - Closed Congressional Minds for the Thinking Impaired
Fill'er Up

McQuagmire, or, Heads You Lose & Tails You Lose

Was Mark McGwire right when he said - If he admitted using steroids, he would have been hounded and condemned forever.....

But if he denied it, he would be called a liar.

He did neither,............and is being hounded and condemned.

Many fans are rejecting the denials offered by the others who testified.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Big and Strong......Naturally

It is a terrible shame that the sudden passing of a great baseball figure like Dick "The Monster" Radatz will likely be overshadowed in today's media coverage by the Congressional hearings being held today on steroid use in baseball. Radatz, a certified member of the Old Bastard Baseball school, was a fearsome and dominant player in his day, and he did it the old fashioned way - without steroids. Actually in the lore of Old Bastard Baseball, Dick did it despite being a heavy smoker and substantially overweight. The last several years, Dick had served as the pitching coach for the Can-Am League North Shore Spirit. Dick played hard, and never shamed the game, his team, or the fans.....and shame will be on display in Washington later today.
When Radatz was called from the 'pen, he generated the kind of fan anticipation and excitement that we seldom see today, like Mariano Rivera perhaps only more so. For those that forget, the Red Sox teams Radatz played with were bad teams, and only a few players - including Dick and Yaz - made watching those games worthwhile.
R.I.P. Dick, and thanks for the memories.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Primaries and Tornadoes: The Tricks of Naming

The new Worcester Can-Am League franchise is wrestling with its first public controversy: the name it has chosen for the team - the Tornadoes. According to the AP, some Worcester area residents think the name is disrespectful of the 94 people killed in the famous tornado which ripped through Worcester over 50 years ago.
According to the AP, Tornadoes general manager Mike Lieberman said most of the feedback on the name has been positive and that the choice "by no means trivializes a tragic event,...but rather celebrates how the people of Worcester have prevailed and prospered in the years since." Spin city, Mike. [It was only a year ago that the previous EL AA New Haven Ravens made a glaring public faux pas in their relocation to Manchester N.H. by initially selecting the name "New Hampshire Primaries,"a name selection which was greeted by howls of public protest - ultimately forcing the team to withdraw the name within a week and start over (the team is now called the Fisher Cats).

There are other precedents for teams using such naming conventions or relationships; the most obvious is the Miami Hurricanes, again a situation where tragedy is recalled by the naming exercise. We can't forget that many Native American organizations and others still abhor the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and Washington Redskins names, logos, or inferences.

Yet, Worcester residents with a connection to the past can understandably be upset. Would we find it in good taste to name a team from Johnstown PA the "Wave?"

The past aside, the Tornadoes name is as perfectly good as any other I suppose. In this PC era it is hard to please everybody, yet that is not an excuse either. The Tornadoes management might want to find a PR strategy for diffusing this issue so it doesn't derail the team's efforts to get off to a good start in the local market.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Name is Blowin' in the Wind

Though neither the CanAm league site nor the Worcester Franchise site acknowledge it officially as an announcement, the new Worcester team will apparently be called the Tornadoes. An image of the team's new twister-based Logo is on the Worcester team page at the CanAm site. I saw the story originally in the MetroWest Daily News. A new team URL is also reserved: www.worcestertornadoes.com


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Best AM/AM Choice? Tune Out D&C

Despite the repetition of WBZ radio's all-news format, or the sometimes too-serious morning PBS news coverage on WBUR/WGBH, I am forced to go back to listening to them; I just can't stand another day of WEEI's strident, arrogant, and decidedly un-entertaining Dennis and Callahan.

Dennis is the less offensive of the two, and the clearly better prepared for every interview and general discussion. Yet he seems mesmerized by Callahan, playing the obedient lap dog for Gerry in any issue debate. Good thing too - he has learned that the overbearing Callahan will shout down anyone disagreeing with the Great Himself.

Callahan, however, seems to simply roll out of bed and show up for each day's program, ready to dismiss any disagreeing opinion, attitude, or class of people as it is necessary. The last two days were the breaker for me: on one day he loudly and angrily berated a generally reasonable caller who dared to try to discuss steroids in baseball as "a moron,"the next day Callahan was making sweeping and mean-spirited pronouncements about the character values of people who own Boxer-type dogs. Is this the kind of person you want to share a morning cup of coffee with?

All of this would be permissible or even excusable if:
- Callahan made any meaningful or insightful comments about any sport; he doesn't and hasn't for a long time.
- Callahan actually tried to engage callers in a discussion instead of browbeating, talking over, and usually blowing up those with differing views (it is a talk show isn't it, not a shout show?)
- Callahan was the least bit entertaining or funny in how he does what he does; he isn't.
- Callahan ever acknowledged he was wrong about any prediction or assertion. He seems to be more wrong than right (pun there folks?), never truthfully acknowledges it, and shouts down those that try to hold him up to the light.
- Callahan ever said something about any social issue without reading from the approved script from the Republican National Committee. It is not interesting or entertaining at all folks when you know exactly what your on-air personality is going to say, day after day. Incredibly Boring. If you want the same thing over and over, listen to WBZ or an Oldies station - both are more intelligently produced than D&C.

Why anyone with a different opinion would call the D&C show baffles me. For all the others it is to pay homage to the right wing, conservative agenda being relentlessly peddled there along with highly questionable sports "talk."

Do yourself a favor - try escaping to WCRB's classical sounds (102.5FM), leaving the droning D&C for the frustrated and skittish commuter in the car next to you. Your whole day will go better, I assure you.

The Muscles May Be Fake but not the Grass....

Interesting NY Times piece today illustrating how hitting, base stealing, and related baseball statistics are changing again as many new stadiums revert back to natural grass surfaces from the Astro-turf carpet craze of the 1970s. The article points out that "10 National League teams, including the Mets, will play all 162 regular-season games on... real [grass]......In 1985, when stadiums were bigger and turf was more prevalent, an average baseball game had 1.5 stolen bases and 1.7 homers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. By last year, steals had fallen to 1.1 a game and home runs had risen to 2.4, although many people believe home run totals have also been affected by............... "
Sorry - 'ya gotta register to read this one.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Juice? Grapefruit Actually: 1.6M expected for spring training

Read a "juice" story without any testing references - Spring training snowbird fans are apparently woth an estimated $450 million to the Florida economy, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal. See the piece by Carl Cronan:

Future Shock: The Las Vegas Luckies?

What would really happen if MLB ever awarded a franchise to Las Vegas? The AP's Tim Dahlberg, tounge firmly in his cheek, looks at how that might "play" out, only in Vegas.............from the Fresno Bee:

Monday, March 07, 2005

Managing Free Agents & Options: The Twins Excel

Like contract analyses and numbers? Not especially, but if you do then see this nice '04-'05 Baseball Free Agent cost tally and option management analysis by Studes; "Reading the Fine Print," at The Hardball Times.

Pendulum swings

This first exhibition game with the Yankees is sold out - and tickets are being scalped at many multiples of face value - for a game that Damon and Jeter say they will not even attend. How long ago was it - 2-3-4 years - when you could fly down to Ft. Myers for a weekend and pick up tickets at the gate?
It is nice to see the pendulum swing our way for once, but I'd just as soon see it swing back a little from the extreme. Get too high, go too low for a damn exhibition game.
Great satirical piece, by the way, by Kenny Mayne on the importance of this game to the players. Saw it on ESPN last night.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

It Is Different.......and Better.

Do you still remember how it was? You fretted and worried over every trivial injury, every error, every lineup move, every trade, and every free agent signing. Why did we pray and worry so mightily? Because it had been 86 years, that's why - and we learned in that time that any little mistake, problem, or issue could mean the difference between winning, and, another miserable year of failure.

But that is all over now, isn't it. We can sit back and enjoy it all now - every little part of the entire baseball experience. The exhibition game gaffes and possible injuries, inevitable clubhouse problems or squabbles, and slumps-errors-miscues-lapses. They are now just part of the game and a typical season - not the next excruciatingly bizarre event in the intergalactic gothic conspiracy to torture us for another year.

It's over. Thank God.
Joe Torre says he's not sure how the Sox-Yanks rivalry will unfold now that we have won. In my opinion, it is even better. Now they (and he) have to worry about us.

It's over. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Grandpa's Hidden Baseball Cards

What would you do if you found a box of almost 100 year-old baseball cards (including multiple copies of Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb and Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson) hidden in the floor joints in your basement?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Still Glowing - The Year After

Pick of the Week: terrific piece by Jason Stark at ESPN.com on what life is like now for Red Sox fans.
Take ten and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jose Vidro

Wanna read about an old-time baseball guy? Here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64067-2005Mar1.html?referrer%3Demail&sub=AR.
You will have to register, but it's free.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Everybody does it . . .

I've been away but was still thinking about baseball, so in no logical or other order, here is what's on my mind today:
  • Baseball been Barry Barry good: Bottom line is the prodigious numbers might not (and I say, might not because you cannot prove a negative) have been what they are for Bonds without chemical help but that's the only thing that would have been different and, honestly, I don't care as much as I would have if Canseco had put them up. The man can play. Too bad he is so insecure and needed to have some help with an already superb set of abilities.
  • Stay-roid: Bet some of the boys stay on the juice, somehow, masked up for some portion of this year. You cannot change human nature nor avoid the inevitable behavior of people who either a) are too insecure to fail or b) too arrogant to fail. I'll be looking for guys who snap tendons and pull muscles AND for pitchers who recover way too fast and too strong. Not fair? Nope, but I am just like any other Joe.
  • Ass-terisk: Fuggedaboutit. Like Gammons online at espn.com, I do not know how to asterisk the numbers. Hell, people already have the asterisks in their heads now, no need to put them into a book. I especially like Gammons' point that black players were formally excluded from baseball for decades and there is no telling what the best Negro League players would have done in MLB.
  • Going Going GONE: Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, Roger Clemens. Please, let's do what all other big league towns do when players leave. Stop talking about them and asking them questions about Boston. Move on with your lives. They do not owe you anything and vice versa.
  • Watch the grass grow: Only a wish up here in New Hampshire where it snows and snows and snows some more.
  • Wait until next summer: We have formed - make that, "two dedicated parents" have formed - a new American Legion team in our towns starting this summer, so we do not have to travel to different states (except maybe MA) to watch our sons play baseball for the next four summers. Pure excitement for us . . .
  • Thanks for the memories: Sox and Pats. These things run in cycles, so I don't plan on getting used to winning it all, but, damn, if you really want to lift the mood around a region or a city, just have a couple of winning sports teams. Who says that sports don't matter?

Thanks, John, for keeping this place alive while I lost my way in work, etc., the last few months.


How great Aaron, Mays and Robinson really were...

Who better than Peter Gammons on ESPN.com to put some historical perspective on the steroid issue, and remind us "just how great Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson really were." If we are giving out asterisks, then these guys get two or three, for as Peter puts it, "All three had to fight through segregation, hatred and double standards to get to the major leagues. They played in an era when pitching so dominated the sport that they lowered the mound by five inches..."