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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Next for the Senior Circuit: DCP?

The AL has the Designated Hitter (DH), and the old ball game hasn't been the same since it was instituted. Here's a look at the history and playing issues with Coors Field in Denver, and the potential (tounge-in-cheek) for a DCP, and how the Rockies may be the next Expos.

Hey Coach, Check Out These Tips......

Great collection of articles for baseball coaches (and those aspiring to be), covering every phase of the game, from some very qualified and insightful contributors. Something for everybody here - well worth the trip and worth referring to someone you know.
www.baseballtips.com

Friday, April 29, 2005

New Yorkers and A-Rod: $25M Worth of Criticism

While the hue and cry of Red Sox Nation can be both cruel and relentless when the team is not winning, it is just possible that New York Yankee Nation is identical in their response to failure. Besides, usually Yankee Nation is led into the criticism frenzy by the team's owner, who can't stomach losses any better than the average bleacher bum.
In NY, they eat their young when the Yankees are losing, and right now is a good example. See this piece from the Daily News - New Yorkers and A-Rod; it's not a Love-In.

It's only April but . . .

The Sox will be hard-pressed to succeed again this year, even to get to the Wild Card, with another middling mid-season performance, because they do not have the horses to get to the front in September and October. Let's hope the Brewers continue to stink and that Ben Sheets is available in mid-season, because neither Wells nor Clement will be the savior this year. Oops, forgot about George - he may get to Sheets first, with his pitching staff in shambles already.
Hey, folks, Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez are not coming to the mound this year when it counts.
Clement-Wells: 4.5 ERA, 4-3, 5 HR given up so far, one good game for each (vs. Baltimore), both on the DL. Last year, Pedro and Lowe never went on the DL, if I remember correctly. That's right, PEDRO never went on the DL.
Until Clement and Wells step it up, and justify their signings, or Pedro and Lowe implode, you will be hearing from me about the bad decisions on Pedro and Lowe. If the Sox really wanted to win again this year, they find a way to make those deals and keep the pitching staff that came through when it counted. I am not giving Theo a pass on this one, not just yet.
Tim

Fisher Cats update

Last year's Eastern League champions, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, stand in 3rd place at the moment, with a 10-10 record, 4 games back of the Portland Sea Dogs.

Joshua Banks, a right-handed pitcher for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, is the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Week for the week ending April 24th. In a pair of starts last week, the 22-year old went 2-0 with 14 strikeouts and a 1.32 ERA. His ERA for the year in 4 starts is 1.40, and his record 3-0. In his first start of the week the 6'3", 195 lb. hurler gave up one run on three hits while striking out six batters in 6.2 innings of work to pick up a win against the Harrisburg Senators at Commerce Bank Park. The Arnold, Maryland native was equally impressive in his second start of the week, striking out eight batters and giving up just one run on two hits in seven innings of work against Binghamton at Fisher Cats Ballpark. Banks is a second-round pick by Toronto in the June 2003 draft out of Florida International University.

So far, on the offensive side, no one is killing the ball. Outfielder Maikel Jova leads the team with .279 average, followed by infielder Vito Chiaravalotti at .276 and second baseman Carlo Cota at .257. Cota is the slugging leader at .414, followed by Chiaravallotti at .379 and catcher Erik Kratz at .375.

The team has drawn just under 39,000 fans to their 12 home games, for an average of 3,249 per game, but the weather up here has been miserable for a lot of the spring and attendance at the brand new ballpark in Manchester will pick up once spring actually arrives up here, sans all the rain and the cold air.

Tim

Thursday, April 28, 2005

DLs, Beaning, Pale Hose, Pedro & Shea

I have been....no posts despite much doings in these parts. Making up for lost time....

1. Tim, you are out to lunch on this Pedro kick. He's gone, and for $54M, I am glad. He might look good now, but how do you think he will look in year four? How do you think his shoulder will be holding up then? He's had a few good outings. The woeful Mets can have him and his Prima Donna attitude as well.

2. Schilling and Wells lounging on the DL? Yep, we knew age was a big risk for this pitching staff going into the season. Wells will be back, he's a gamer. For now, Wakefield, Arroyo, and Clement will have to carry the load. It's only April folks. Don't start worrying until the All Star break. It could be worse: Theo could have signed Kevin Brown and Jared Wright.

3. Nomah? Too bad. Glad he's not here on the DL. Maybe a star-crossed star - perhaps he will never be back to what he once was. That one year - "I will prove I am healthy" - contract ploy is not looking too good right about now. Hope Mia's got a full-time job. [Nomah & steroids? Don't care, and it doesn't really matter.] Next: one year stint with the Nashua Pride?

4. Schilling and Pinella? They are both wrong: Schilling should stick a sock in it half the time (but he never knows which half), and Pinella should find a way to deal with perpetual losing other than having his staff go headhunting. MLB needs to have a talk with Lou.

5. AL Wild Card: if the Sox don't win the East, they better hope the White Sox and Twins beat each other to a pulp so the WC is still available on October 1 or the WC playoff slot will go to one of these two Central Division teams. Yes, we get to play Tampa 19 times, but they get to play Detroit, Cleveland, and KC nineteen times each. That's 57 games with, well.............

Friday, April 22, 2005

And another thing

Pedro
Yup, I hear the echoing refrain, "twilight of his career" coming down the halls in the Sox offices . . .

DavidMatt = DerekPedro

Maybe after the last two very well pitched games by Wells and Clement against a contenda we will be able to draw some conclusions. Two consecutive shutouts of a team that crushed and swept the Yankees is not like beating Tampa Bay.
Tough-minded pitching in both cases, with some decent closing as well, make me optimistic. The Sox will hold their own against the Yankees because they usually have the last few years. It was 10 losses to Baltimore last year that really hurt their chances for first place. This year, that should not happen again. They beat a Sox-killer last night in Vasquez, which bodes well, even though they only scored one run.
Match the Yankees, kill the Os is a better formula for success than trying to go 19-0 vs. those boys from the Bronx.
Tim

Nomaroid?

I hate to say it but as hypersensitized as we are these days to all things roidish, I had an involuntary thought: Based on what I have read about the after-effects of steroid use, the very nasty tear of muscle from bone in Nomar's groin seems like the kind of injury that is caused by steroid use.
There, but I don't feel better.
I've read about Nomar's fanatical and intense off-season workouts and I believe that his body is the product of those workouts and nothing illegal or dumb. But read the latest SI for a piece by Will Carroll, author of a forthcoming book called The Juice, about steroids, and you may get the feeling for how steroids can be used and not detected. The piece is based on an interview with a man who claims (and it sounds legitimate) to have invented "the clear."
In any event, this is a terrible injury to a man who was terribly maligned in Red Sucks Nation. No one in the Cubs organization can figure out what it was that put Nomar in the persona non grata state he was in when he left, and where he still resides for many in the Nation.
Future imperfect, for sure; this is a big-time injury - ask Mike Piazza. Nomar can and probably will come back, just to prove - again, prove once and for all - that he is what he claims to be: a hard-working, play the game right kind of guy. He may miss the HOF now, but I would not count him out.
Still feeling guilty about the steroid thoughts,
Tim

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Favorite Sox Gets an Extension.....Honor Lives.

Tim Wakerfield is a gutty competitor, a class act, a reliable teammate, and not at all like the modern-day stereotype of a professional athelete, which is often physically gifted but spoiled, self-centered, overpaid, and indifferent to the everyday fan.

From the Red Sox Official statement: "In agreeing to the new deal, Wakefield announced he will donate $100 to charity for every strikeout he records in 2005, with $50 going to the Franciscan Childrens Hospital and $50 to the Jimmy Fund.

"For the last 11 years, Tim Wakefield has represented the best of the Boston Red Sox," [Theo] Epstein said. "His continuing contributions to the success of the franchise on the field are matched only by his dedication to community service. This agreement virtually guarantees Wake will retire as a Boston Red Sox, which is fitting. In the long, proud history of this franchise, few men have brought greater honor to the uniform."

Amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Bull Durham (Portland Beavers)....in Portland, OR

Nice piece in The Oregonian by Amy Martinez Starke: Mom, corn on the cob, and baseball....a profile of Alice Spackman and the Portland Beavers.
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1113645389174850.xml

Just one Word.....

Wakefield.

Faithful, Yes

I am constantly amazed at the unquestioned loyalty and homage (not to mention dollars) that Red Sox fans are willing to offer to the Fenway Gods. Today, at Pawtucket, PawSox Nation had the opportunity to line up and see the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series trophy. The trophy, located near the first-base side tent, created a viewing line stretching around the outfield, and into the main McCoy concourse. A woman who took her seat in front of me in the seventh inning of the game reported that she had been in line for 2 1/2 hours. For that kind of wait, I guess I'll settle for seeing the golden emblem from a distance, without the waiting.

The PawSox also delivered a 9-4 win over Buffalo. If you haven't seen PSox rightfielder Mike Lockwood, do so before Theo trades him; he hit a pair of line drive home runs and an RBI single. Another kid to watch: Alejandro Machado - had two doubles and a triple, and a stolen base.
Trophy displays also bring'em out: the PawSox drew 10,140 on an absolutely perfect day for baseball.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

PawSox Opening Friday

New England's second most popular professional sports team (measured in attendance,...bigger than the Celtics and Bruins folks) kicks off its 2005 Home Season tomorrow night, in Pawtucket. See this interesting piece by Jon Baker in the Pawtucket Times about PawSox history: "For openers, these McCoy games were memorable."
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14344902&BRD=1713&amp;PAG=461&dept_id=24490&rfi=6

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pitching On The Way?

Worried about the age of the Red Sox pitching staff? Yeah, it is a concern.

But, true to their word, Henry management has been filling the pipeline in the minors: Guess which team is leading, by far, the AA Eastern League in pitching?

The Portland Sea Dogs: The 5-0 'Dogs have a league-leading 1.40 ERA, with 35 Ks and 8 BB in 45 innings. The 'Dogs are also second in the league in batting at .296, with the fewest Ks of any EL team.
See you at Hadlock!

Don't Get Me Started!!!!!

Sox fans..............Want to get annoyed and angry FAST? Read this piece from Chicago on Curt Smith's new book on baseball broadcasting, "Voices of Summer, " ranking baseball's 100 best announcers.

Lowlights:
- No Sox announcers in the Top 10. None.
- Ranking Tim McCarver ahead of Bob Costas?
- Ranking Dick Engberg ahead of Sean McDonough? (Aargh!!!)
- Ned Martin doesn't make the Top 20?
-
Joe Castiglione No. 74, behind...........Dave Campbell? (Triple Aargh!!!!!)

Gimme a break.
Who the hell is
Curt Smith anyway?
The article and full list:

A-Fraud: Is He a Phony?

Interesting piece on A-Rod By Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News today at MSN, probing how he is viewed by teammates, other MLB players, and people in baseball. I think we know what the Red Sox players think.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7409506/

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Knowing How to Lose

It is easy to look good when you win, and most winners don't screw their perspective and attitude up so badly that you wish they hadn't won at all (I can think of a few though). It is harder to look good, and graceful, when you lose. But that is just what we saw yesterday in Mariano Rivera, a winner if there ever was one.
The guy gets ridiculed and razzed, on the road - by a stadium full of fans of his toughest opponent, for blowing four straight saves, his primary job. So what does this future first ballot HOFer do? He smiles gracefully, tips his cap, and offers us a sly little laugh, showing us he knows full well he blew it, but that he's still around, and he's won his share as well. Yes, he was saying, I know what it is like on both sides.
Yankee or not, a class act and a great player.

Another who knows how to lose so gracefully, and did so for over 50 years until last season: Johnny Pesky. 'Ya gotta love Johnny, one of the nicest people I ever met.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why Not 40 or 50-Win Pitchers? The Physics of Flamethrowing...

If you worry about esclating statistics in sports - baseball in particular - see this nice piece by By Noam Scheiber on Slate.com; Why can't anyone throw a baseball faster than 100 mph? And, think about steroids and the 80 Newton-meters of torque acting on a pitcher's elbow when he throws a fastball.
http://slate.msn.com/id/2116402/

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Minor Tidings

- The Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League have finally gotten a semblance of a Web site up and running. There is not much on the site or working there just yet, principally the team's schedule. The team has about 45 days to get everything else squared away before the home opener. Note to the Webmaster: Change the Can-Am League standings table illustrating the now departed "Aces" road team and insert the Worcester or Tornadoes name. If every team has a 0-0 record so far, I'm sure it will be OK. - The PawSox have started the season 0-4, with the first game a sacrificial loss in support of a rehab start for Curt Schilling (11 hits and 7 runs over six innings of work; Sox lost 7-6 to Indianapolis). The PSox make their home opener Friday night against Buffalo. - Better news at AA: The Portland Sea Dogs completed a season-opening four-game sweep over the Norwich Navigators on Sunday afternoon - 5,665 fans at Hadlock Field. This is the first 4-0 start to a season for the Dogs in the 12-year history of the franchise. - In Manchester, the Fisher Cats - 2004 Eastern League Champions - , opened their brand new ballpark on the banks of the Merrimack River with a sellout crowd of 7,605.
-
Free vasectomies on Father's Day? Leave it to Mike Veeck (yes, the son of) in an interesting interview with Inc magazine, on the circus and challenges of running a minor league franchise.
"How I Did It: Mike Veeck" is his new book.
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20050401/how-i-did-it.html

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The FBI & Baseball? It's not about Steroids

San Francisco Chronicle piece by Dwight Chapin on the FBI's war on bogus baseball collectibles. Too bad they weren't as focused on bogus baseball players as well.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2005/04/07/SPGB6C4DR31.DTL

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

On To Toronto......Feel Better?

Random Flashes:
- AFraud: playing in the Big Apple has always been about being able to play in the spotlight, the Biggest Stage in Sports (Mr. E5). With $250 million, he certainly ain't Broke, but .......
- Wakefield: Did anybody guess last week that The KnuckleMan would post the best starting performance so far this season? You have to like him against the Yankees....he's a gamer, can take the pressure, always.
- Renteria? A few brain-damaged fans, whipped up by the season opening frenzy around here, were questioning whether Renteria was worth the $40 million. He is, and he'll prove it. Wait.
- Mariano Rivera: the Sox have his number, no doubt about it. He knows it, Torre knows it, and the Sox know it. Do you think Torre has the confidence to call him in during a pressure-packed ALCS game 7 at Fenway Park in October? Do you think Rivera has the confidence to pitch in that situation? Gotta fork?
- Thursday: The NH Fisher Cats open their new AA Stadium in Manchester. And don't forget: Congrats to the 'Cats, 2004 Eastern League Champs. Boffo. Hope the snow is cleared.
- Francona: Take it easy for a while. This gang of Idiots can get along for a bit without you there. Get well. Put your feet up. Listen to Joe and Jerry from the SkyDome. You have earned it.
- Johnny Damon: How many ways can you spell Overexposed?
- Doug Mirabelli: picking off Jeter stealing third (Yes!), catching Wake, good job as usual, on base twice. The best backup catcher in MLB. Period.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What's Two Games?

Actually 1.234% of the season, that's all, still 98.7% to go.
Take a nap.
Take two asprin and watch again tomorrow.
It is baseball.........now aren't you glad spring training is over and the Real Stuff is happening?
I'll ask you again tomorrow if the Sox lose a third one at the Stadium.
Then, let's see how you feel.

You know what?
We're still World Champs.
(But doesn't Tony Womack look like he is really going to help the Pinstripers this year? Damn!)
Wake tomorrow.

Just one thing to say . . .

Pedro

Keeping the fans from the bridges . . .

From Andy Borowitz. The last graph is for "The Sox Suck" crowd unhappy with the season after just one game.

ANGRY CLEVELAND INDIANS FANS DEMAND TEAM TAKE STEROIDS
Threaten Boycott of Roid-free Squad

Opening Day, a spring ritual greeted with joy by baseball fans across the country, was marred somewhat in Cleveland today as a mob of angry Cleveland Indians fans massed outside Jacobs Field, demanding that the players take steroids.

Displeasure with the championship-starved squad reached a boiling point last month during Congressional hearings about steroid abuse when not a single Indian, past or present, was called to testify.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Chuck Goulardi, 49, a leader of the protest. "It became clear that the Indians aren't going the extra mile to compete with the big boys."

On the dissident fans' lengthy list of demands is a call for the Indians management to swing a trade for Alex Sanchez of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, suspended this week for steroid abuse.

"That's the kind of winner we need in Cleveland," Mr. Goulardi said. "At the very least, Alex could set a good example for the other players."

But getting the Indians to start taking steroids may be easier said than done, said former slugger Jose Canseco, the author of the controversial book "Juiced."

"On more than forty occasions I sneaked into the Cleveland clubhouse, offering to shoot those guys up with 'roids," Canseco said today. "No takers."

For his part, Mr. Goulardi bristled at Mr. Canseco's remarks: "Every time Jose opens his mouth, it's more bad news."

Elsewhere, in their home opener on Sunday night, the New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox by 57 million dollars.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

An Opening Unlike Any Other.....Still, In Theo We Trust

Still feels different and Twilight Zone-ish, doesn't it.....starting out the season as World Champs, and, picked by more than a few baseball pundits to repeat as well. One thing is likely very different: several thousand Red Sox fans will certainly not be ready to jump from the Tobin Bridge tomorrow morning if the Sox lose the opener to the Yankees tonight. Sanity, in one small sense, has been restored by the awarding of the W.S. Trophy to the local nine last October. [Also feels kind of strange starting the season without Pedro on the mound.]

Have you had your picture taken with the trophy yet? Seems like everyone in Massachusetts still above ground has had the pleasure so far. Don't believe what the commentators tell you - we are still the World Champs until at least late September. Continue to enjoy.

My picks - well, as loaded as the Yankees are, I still think they are a dysfunctional lot and remind me more of a stocked Fantasy league team than a cohesive bunch that wants to play with each other. The team that does worry me is California/Anaheim/Los Angeles; because they have a strong manager, good talent, and play like a team.

The Red Sox: the field team is as good as any in baseball, the bullpen may be the best in baseball, Francona proved last year he can get the most out of the strange mix of personalities on hand (this year - David Wells and Damon!), but the starting pitching has more question marks than Batman's nemesis The Riddler's costume. Still, In Theo We Trust........If this staff isn't getting it done, I trust Theo to go out before the deadline and make a deal. The bullpen may keep this group in the hunt for the first half of the season until the rotation gets sorted out.

I like the Sox to repeat to get to the World Series. But this year, the emotional edge that carried them over the Cardinals in a walk last year may not be there. A great season anyway.
Let the Games begin................