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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Night Sky at McCoy

It doesn't get much better than this folks.

-[click on the photo to get a full size picture]

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Beautiful Lowell

Another nice night at the best Single A park in these parts, despite a poor outing by the Red Sox affiliate, the Spinners. A few notes:
1. The Spinners have added a video display; that's good and bad. They really didn't use it to embelish the game experience at all, but they use it liberally for fan/kids camera mugging. OK, but drop the between pitches video commentary and clips - no class. Between the innings - OK.
2. Lowell still has the best sausage sandwich of any baseball park in NewEngland.
3. My favorite minor league act - the Blue Dog Group - a Frisbee catching dog act, again delighted the crowd.
4. One thing hasn't changed in Lowell: sold out as usual.

-[click on the photo to get a full size picture]

Kick George When He's Down? With Pleasure!

The staff at EPSN.com Page 2 have a tounge-in-cheek piece today........."Let's Fix The Yankees," a day-by-day guide to fixing what ails the team - for the management of the world's most expensive basebal team.

Monday, June 27, 2005

More on Moonlight

Nice AP piece by Ben Walker in the Austin American-Statesman about the real Moonlight Graham......yes, he really did exist.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

See My Point?

Great photo collection at the Boston.com site today - revealing the view from worst seats in Fenway, and they are BAD folks. I know Manny is making $20 million, but Mr. Henry, can any reasonable or honorable person accept that you should charge $45 for a seat that ca't see the batter or the pitcher?

"Would you pay $45 (full price) to sit behind a pole? Susann Krzyminski can't see the pitcher, the batter, or the entire right side of the field....." Don't miss this....
More at:

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Elusive Memories Drive Announcer Popularity Poll

We have been running an All-Time Red Sox announcer popularity poll for some time now; today with a decent sample size we call it done. The Winner: Current Color Analyst Jerry Remy. The official count has Jim Woods of the Martin and Woods radio team as the biggest vote getter, but we note that a single site visitor entered about half Woods' total votes (like we wouldn't notice.....). Curt Gowdy finished second, followed by Ned Martin, with a tie between Joe Castiglione and Sean McDonough. Wally beat out current PBP NESN anchor Don Orsillo and Ken Coleman. Hawk Harrelson finished last - a finish I am sure he would object to (we didn't list every former announcer - Hawk was for fun).

Does the poll mean anything? Probably not - though it is certainly hard twenty or thirty years later (maybe forty in the case of Gowdy) to accurately remember how good an announcer really was, and, standards and expectations for those behind the mike have also changed. There is no question Remy is good, much better than most - if not all - of his nationally featured counterparts. I have no doubt though that if Gowdy was announcing and in his prime today, he'd be better than he was then and better than most others today as well.

Personally growing up listening to Martin and Gowdy myself in the '60s and '70s, I am disappointed with the showing of
Castiglione - a great announcer with a sharp eye for and a love of the game. The team of Jerry Troupiano and Joe Castiglione are every bit as good as the legendary Martin and Woods were. If you don't think so, wait until the that team is broken up and see how fast you are longing for them to return to the mike.

Oh, and congratulations to Wally - an on-air presence who never wastes words.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Four in a Row but . . .

who did the Red Sox actually beat?
The Cubs? 34-30, .279 team batting average, 4.07 team ERA - not a bad team, but they beat them only once with a great pitching performance by Wakefield with Mirabelli (finally) catching.
The next three games were against Cincinnati: 26-39, .257 team batting average, team ERA 5.57. Again with three excellent pitching performances, but this time against a bad team.
How they do against Pittsburgh (30-33 record, .260 team batting average, but a decent 4.00 ERA); Cleveland (33-30, .249 team batting average, 3.56 team ERA), and Philadelphia (36-30, .272 team batting average, 4.60 team ERA) will carry more weight with me and have a greater predictive impact on how they do the rest of the summer than the last four games.
As for Baltimore, I am with John: I don't see them fading anytime soon. They have better than average pitching, a good chemistry, lots of confidence, and Brian Roberts, who seems to be driving the team to take itself seriously.

PS: Having grown up in the D.C., area, I am getting a real kick out of the Nationals' performance so far, and paying attention to them. I always admired Frank Robinson, as a player and manager, and after his dissing of Mike Scoscia, who behaved like a kid caught with a porn magazine under his bed when Donnelly was kicked out, I like Robinson even more. At 69, he is just as tough and feisty as ever.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Orioles vs. Nats.......First Place, Cross-Town Rivals

Looking at the impact of the arrival of Nationals on the Orioles...........by David Teel of The Daily Press. Hey - they are both in First Place.

A Wanderer Finds the Experience in Norwich

"A Day at the Ballpark" by Matt Thomas. I agree with the sentiments, but Norwich is better than he describes.

Mediocre = No Wild Card in the A.L.

Why are most people expecting Baltimore to fade in the second half while the same folks sing the praises of the White Sox and the Rangers? Be careful folks - somebody has to light a fire under the Red Sox - preferably by (a) the return of Curt Schilling, (b) an awakening of the slumbering Manny,(c) a more consistent David Wells, and (d) a more consistent bullpen - or they will be sitting this October.

As of today, here are the projected wins for the top A.L. teams prorated for a 162 game season:
Chicago White Sox: 109
Baltimore - 96
Minnesota - 97
Texas - 86
LA Angels - 93
Boston - 85

Both Minnesota and Texas would beat out the Red Sox for the Wild Card in the A.L. as it stands today. While texas is not that worrisome, a 97 win Twins team should be. No, I don't expect the White Sox to win 109 games, but they may well win 100 or better, driving the Twins to keep pace. Will Baltimore fade? Probably, .......but unless the Red Sox kick it into gear, it won't be them passing the Orioles in August or September.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Funny how a guy 42 years old (or whatever his age) can sit around for 3-4 hours to wait to pitch and then be able to say, "I don't think I made a bad pitch" after the game was over and he'd thrown 94 pitches in 8 innings. He may be unpredictable on and off the field, but there is something about Wells that makes you pay attention. And something that seems to fire him up at times when a team needs him to throw his best.
Thanks, Boomer, for rescuing a small amount of pride for your mates from their otherwise boring and lackluster trip to St. Louis.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The word "flat" comes to mind

Flat is not a word I'd use in connection with the Red Sox over the last year or so, even when they were in the win-one/lose-one mode for much of last summer. But the games in St. Louis, so far, make me think of that word.
Perhaps it is the fact that St. Louis scores first, and so easily, that makes the games seem not worth watching. I checked in a bit early in the game, but when it got to 6-1, I stopped. I knew they were not going to come back and even make it interesting, and I am not prescient. The mood of the team comes through the radio and the TV and I can hear Tito explaining away the loss with comments about great pitching and we just got beat, and they make me uncomfortable. When Manny came up throwing to home and threw accurately, but too weakly (a 2-hopper instead of a 1-hopper, as Remy noted) and the runner scored, I felt deflated and turned to something else for a bit. The fact that they Sox knew the throw was late, and did not protest, sent a message, I think, to St. Louis that they would have no trouble again last night.
Is it just me, or do the Sox seem uninspired at this point?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Steroids: Is There a Case FOR Them?

Think you've heard enough about steroids, huh? Try this piece from Aaron Steinberg at Reasononline and then try to imagine what we will be arguing about in, maybe, five years (elective Tommy John surgery?)

Walking for Ron Santo

This is something most sports fans have already read, but it is worth the time to read it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=drehs/050606

Monday, June 06, 2005

His One Eye Sees Things We Can't..........

What kind of game would you get from a one eyed umpire? Maybe a lot better than you expect, and perhaps a lesson or two about life and baseball for free. See this story from the AP's Jim Litke:

The Turns of a HOF Career

This weekend showed two different sides of having a HOF career: the continued success of manager Frank Robinson and the firing of Eddie Murray.
Robinson, still underrated by many even though he is in The Hall, continues to impress with his managing feats, previously with the forlorn and forgotten Expos and now with the newly christened Nationals. With the smallest payroll in the tough NL East, Frank has managed his way to a first place standing here in early June. Quite a feat for a franchise nobody really seemed to want or care about; yet over 40,000 showed up at creaky old RFK yesterday to see the Nats win again. The Nationals payroll, managed by MLB, is about $48.6M, and competes with the payrolls the likes of the lamentable Phillies (over $95M), Florida Marlins (over $60M), the well-run Braves (over $85M) and the ponderous Mets (over $104M).

Sunday started with a potential distraction for Robinson's team: T. Ohka was fined for walking away from the mound and Robinson without giving him the ball when being lifted in Saturday's game. According to the AP, Robinson held a closed-door meeting before the Sunday game, after the fine was announced. "This is what I'm saying when we talk about chemistry....The chemistry is very high right now on the ballclub. One person can damage that chemistry to where it hurts the team." says Robinson. Do you think the players in Washington have any doubts about who is running that team? Frank played the game hard, to win - and he manages exactly the same way. The Nats are 6-1 against quality teams like Florida and Atlanta in the current homestand. Well-done Frank, well-done.

In Cleveland, the Tribe decided to cut ties with HOFer Eddie Murray as their hitting coach. The Tribe's hitting stats are terrible and obvious; Murray's sins, however, are not. Most of the player quotes published today are complimentary to Murray, including those in the home-town Cleveland Plain Dealer. A story by Paul Hoynes in that paper though hinted that Murray's disinterest in PR duties may have helped push him out the door. Hoynes writes today, "Derek Shelton, Indians minor-league hitting coordinator [Murray's replacement], arrived in Chicago before Sunday's game to replace Murray. The former minor-league catcher has been in the system for three years. He does not have 3,000 hits or 500 homers like Murray, but he apparently is going to talk to reporters regularly, something that never fit into Murray's job description." "Communication is important for a hitting coach," Shelton said. "You have to have the ability to listen and give feedback."
Manager Eric Wedge says of the move, "I try to make decisions based on what is best for the players. That's what I did here...."
Murray was never very talkative as a player, some in the press criticized him for it over the years. Perhaps Murray is a lousy listener as well. There has to be a place in the game for a great such as Murray.....Let's hope somebody finds it for Eddie.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Seeing the Seams?

Piece by USA Today on how new technology in optometery is helping batters see what Ted Williams could without aids.

What's better than an Ortiz walk-off HR?

As incredibly self-centered as this will sound, what's better is watching my son stretch for and dig out of the dirt a low double-play throw to end a 2-1 state high school tournament preliminary game against the arch-rival team that loves to beat us.
That was the only play he made in the game after coming in as a defensive substitute in the inning. A great stop at second - lying on the ground - led to a nice throw to the SS covering and then to a rapid-got-to-get-him throw to first that was online but low.
My son has really improved at first over the years and it was nice to see the coach have the confidence in him to put him there for just that kind of play in case it came to pass. He's just a sophomore, and he does not expect a lot of playing time after being called up to varsity in mid-season.
Okay, away from the obsessive focus on my family, and back to the really important stuff.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Baseball In the Sunshine?

- Pedro was dazzling again tonight for the Mets, and getting the Big Apple publicity wave, not Randy [Can't beat KC] Johnson. I am happy for Pedro and for Mets fans. Still, for the $54M, they can keep him.
- Ortiz: The Real Deal, isn't he? I don't remember anybody performing at the plate in the clutch like that since Reggie Jackson. It was a great at bat, and Then he hit the HR. 'Ya gotta love the Big Pappi. Another good Theo move, twice: Once to get him, secondly to re-sign him for short money. In Theo We Still Trust.
- Shoppach: a bit early to bail on this kid, though he's probably not ready for the Bigs yet. He's only up because Mirabelli is hurt, or, possibly because Theo was hoping to showcase him. Look for Theo to trade Shoppach for an arm this summer now that Varitek is penned to a long term deal.
- WEEI Hosts: Gimme a break guys - PLEASE........mercilessly talking for dreary hours about the substitution of Varitek for Shoppach, or some other trivial topic instead of intelligently analyzing, just for example, why the Orioles are in first place (What are they doing right?) or some other analysis of the game. Tiresome and Boring. Did I say Tiresome and Boring? Yup. The most interesting feature the station has is the Whiner Line, and that is entertaining because of the imagination and creativity of the callers - not the self asorbed and repetitive hosts. (Listening Ordway?).
- PawSox: on a roll, just swept Norfolk four straight at McCoy. Keep your eye on A. Machado, a switch hitting 2B with speed, ready if Bellhorn continues to struggle.
- Herald lays off writers: we are headed for a one newspaper town folks, sooner or later. So, get used to the Globe writers, or find an online source you like. The good news: when the Herald folds, Gerry Callahan will be out of a job and a pulpit. Maybe he can call Bill Frist and ask for a government PR job, perhaps as Official News Officer for the Guantanamo guest hotel?
- WWZN: could somebody please buy this turkey and shut it down as a mercy killing, so Eddie A. can go home and sulk in private?

Roids Redux

I watched a few minutes of outside the lines yesterday; subject: the impact of steroids. Big topic, for sure. The guests were Juan Williams, formerly of the Washington Post, now of NPR but never a baseball or sports writer; Gwen Knapp, sports reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle; and some guy with a title like "President of the Baseball Bloggers Association" or something along those lines.
Williams moaned about the impact of steroids use on little kids who look up to major leaguers. Get over it. They do not care and will not care if their parents parent and don't act like little kids about the entire subject. He also wanted to throw out the records posted in the past few years and cried about the poisoning of the game.
Gwen Knapp was honest about closing (or blinking) her eyes to the fact that she knew people using Andro did it to boost the effects of steroids, not because Andro did anything dramatic on its own, and that she did not follow up during the home run-record-breaking year of 1998, a year baseball desperately needed to restore fan interest.
The blogger fellow noted, among other things, that fans go to the ballpark to enjoy the game and get away from their day-to-day lives, like to see the long ball, have a hot dog and beer, and don't really care about the steroids issue.
Which leads me to this thought: I don't care either. Yes, using steroids is cheating, but baseball essentially condones or winks at cheating until people get caught; only then, does it punish them and only then does anyone really care. Did anyone actually LOOK at McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, et al., and not think their bodies had some help other than great nutrition and weight training? Of course we did, but the competition, the race to the records, the sheer thrill of it all for hard-core (and soft-core) baseball fans was more compelling than wondering how they did it. Even after McGwire gave it up on Andro and threw it away, did anyone really care? Did anyone really care that he might have been taking a LEGAL, OTC supplement? Nope, because whatever you do to get an edge, especially if it's LEGAL, is okay by most of us.
And let us please get over ourselves and our "the baseball records are dogma" attitude, that anyone screwing with the records is the Antichrist. We have no way of knowing 1) just how many of the existing records are 100% accurate, especially the ones from the earliest years of baseball; 2) whether the competition among 16 teams up, eight per league (up to 1960) was really better than or even as good as the competition now - we wax poetic about the old days of baseball, when no one wore batting gloves and everyone was a tough, hard-driving player, but we have no way of knowing whether, for example, there were just as many easy outs then as there might be now; doesn't having a DH actually make it tougher for pitchers now than when every 9th player was a pitcher whose average probably hovered below the Mendoza line?; or 3) what those old timers did to even the odds (spitballs, scraping the ball with tacks and sandpaper, corked bats, etc.). The bottom line is: Is there anyone who can positively attest that all the records pre-1998 are 100% valid - attained only by sheer skill and determination? I doubt it.
We are on the verge, for the first time, of having the government intrude into how professional sports manage themselves - a very slippery slope. Is the next step to start tinkering with the rules? We have laws already banning the sale, distribution and use of steroids, so whatever these guys did to obtain and use the drugs was an illegal act. Enforce that law before you pass other ones that put the government INTO the game.
Enough with the moralizing about steroids' impact on society. What about the impact of war? poverty? shitty educational systems that guarantee a slide to mediocrity for the US in the next decades? We, typically, attack the pop-up target, the easy mark and manage to ignore the less visible, but more insidious problems that, let's be honest, do not lend themselves to an easy solution.
Steroid use in baseball is not the proximate cause of the downfall of US culture. The energy devoted to steroids may make us feel good, but the problems lurking outside the walls of every stadium should be the ones we try to solve first.