Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Blogging will be non-existent because I'll be on a cruise with my wife for the next few days and we'll have better things to do.

Be sure to check out some of the links in my blogroll while I'm gone. I know many of you just come here to visit me but you're sure to find some quality stuff at just about any of the links.

David Wells

Wells may be out for a month but this could be a blessing in disguise.

With Wade Miller coming close to being ready, a decision was going to have to be made to put one of the current starters in the bullpen. That means either Tim Wakefield or Bronson Arroyo were going to be taken from the rotation. Truth is - both deserve to be in the rotation more than Wells based on early season performances but because of Wells' contract - he can't be moved to the bullpen without causing a hub-bub in the hub.

Many writers will expect Wells to complain about his contract which is incentive laden but he's got a contract for next year which is more than Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and others can say. He'll quickly learn to keep his mouth shut not because of what the sportswriters will write but because what will be said in the clubhouse.

When Wells is ready to come back - Miller may have a set back or Wakefield or Arroyo may cool off. Who knows what the circumstances may be but having depth problems like this are better than what's going to happen in the Bronx with Wright on the DL.
Red Sox / Orioles - Game 21
Tonight's game looks like a pitchers duel in the making with Lopez and his 1.91 ERA going for Baltimore and Clement with his 2.13 ERA going for the Sox. That means it will probably be a slugfest.
Slugfest it was.

19 runs, 3 HR and Lopez saw his ERA double from 1.91 to 3.98 while Clement's went from 2.13 to 3.90. Unfortunately the Sox came up on the wrong side of an 11 to 8 score.

The Sox had leads of 5-1 and 8-3 but couldn't hold off the birds. I'm kinda disgusted with the pitching and I blame it on Blaine Neal who didn't pitch last night but sets a bad example for the other pitchers by allowing so many runs to score.

Anyway - let's turn our gaze to the Bronx where Alex Rodriguez hit three HR and drove in 10 runs. This came from nowhere - which is my point. Earlier when the eyes of baseball were upon him in the series against the Red Sox - A-Rod made the key error late in the game that cost his team a win. So far he's won one game with his bat and lost one game with his glove. Driving in 10 runs for a last place team is not impressive to me. Let's see how he does in a game with playoff implications.

As a Sox fan I can tell you that Jeter and Matsui scare me far more coming to bat in big situations than A-Rod does.

Put it this way - he's not Tony, he's Big Pussy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Heh Heh
A very classy lady walked into a Lexus dealership to browse, and spotted the most beautiful, perfectly loaded Lexus she ever seen. She walked over to inspect it closer. As she bent forward to feel the fine leather upholstery, an unexpected little burst of flatulence escaped her. Very embarrassed, she anxiously looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Sure enough, there standing right behind her was a salesman. With a pleasant smile he greeted her, "Good day, Madam. How may we help you today?" Trying to maintain an air of sophistication and acting as though nothing had happened, she smiled back and asked, "Sir, what is the price of this lovely vehicle?" Still smiling pleasantly, he replied,

"Madam , I'm very sorry to say... if you farted by just touching it, you are gonna shit when you hear the price."
H/T American Infidel via LGF
John Bolton Analogy

Nobody has given shape to what makes a good Democrat better than Aaron Sorkin who may be best known as the creator of the hit show The West Wing. Before Sorkin created Josiah Bartlett - he created President Andrew Shepard in the movie The American President.

Near the end of the movie, Michael Douglas as Shepard gives a speech that I can't help but think of whenever I read about the circus that has become the John Bolton nomination process. Michael Douglas as Andrew Shepard gives a powerful speech that says:
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, I promise you, Bob Rumson [the Republican nominee] is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: Making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it.
Douglas / Shepard continues and ends with this
We've got serious problems, and we need serious men, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious men, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name's Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President.
You have to understand that the whole speech was set in motion when the Republicans tried to make political hay out of a picture of the president's girlfield (played by Annette Benning) shown burning an American flag 20 years before. Today in real life Democrats are trying to make political hay out of some people who claim that John Bolton was mean to them 20 years ago.

I can't help but think that these are serious times that call for serious people and yet we are getting Sen. Barbara Boxer, Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich and Sen. Joe Biden and this is just on a nominee to be ambassador to the UN. I'm scared to think of how these people would react to a really serious problem. All they seem interested in now is making us afraid of John Bolton and telling us who is to blame for things.

Sounds familiar.
Red Sox / Orioles - Game 20

Yuck! Orioles 8 - Red Sox 4.

There seems to be a good David Wells and a very bad David Wells. Last night we got the very bad David Wells. He pitched 3 2/3 innings while giving up 6 runs. Yuck!

Wells' 4.91 ERA puts him 110th in the AL. For context - Mike Mussina is at 103 with a 4.50 and Brad Radke is 113th with his 5.08. Wells 29 1/3 innings ptched however is 8th in the AL. Wells ability to be a workhorse may be hindered by whatever injury he sustained last night. It looked like he pulled up lame on a grounder by Lopez.

Johnny Damon went 3 for 3 in the game and is now hitting .358 (good for 7th in the AL).

Last night was an ugly game to watch for a Sox fan. Time to put it behind us.

Tonight's game looks like a pitchers duel in the making with Lopez and his 1.91 ERA going for Baltimore and Clement with his 2.13 ERA going for the Sox. That means it will probably be a slugfest.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bobby Orr on the State of the NHL
With the unacceptable lack of progress and the continued bickering, I am no longer convinced that there was a genuine interest in getting a fair deal done.

The win-at-all costs attitude of both sides in this process has been disastrous.

Both NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players Association Executive Director Bob Goodenow have wasted time and squandered goodwill. They now have a responsibility to either lead or get out of the way.

Because of what has happened, our sport is in danger of becoming irrelevant unless both sides immediately put an end to this nonsense.
Read the whole thing.
What about the fans? What about the down-to-earth working families who support our game? Don't they count anymore?
Bobby Orr for permanent Commissioner of Hockey.
Beer Sales at Fenway

Yesterday the Boston Globe ran a hit piece on beer sales at Fenway. I call it a hit piece because it only shows one side of the story and has to be the result of either sloppy journalism or of only wanting to see one side of an issue.

The piece was written by Andrea Estes who says misleading things like:
The volume of beer sold at Fenway last year jumped roughly 20 percent from the year before, according to information provided by the Red Sox.
She does not put that into context. She does not explain to the reader that the increase in beer sold is mostly attributable to expanded capacity at Fenway and also to the fact that last year was the first year that the Red Sox had an outside pavilion on Yawkey Way.
Concerns over alcohol consumption at the ballpark have triggered complaints from some fans and Fenway neighborhood activists who say home games have become marred by rowdy behavior. The recent altercation between a fan and New York Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield has drawn attention to a problem that some say has grown worse in recent years. Boston's Licensing Board has scheduled a hearing with Red Sox officials May 10 to investigate alcohol-related complaints.
Anyone who has been to Fenway over the years will tell you that fan behavior is excellent compared to the 70's when you would needed both hands to count the number of brawls in the grandstands. "A problem that has grown worse in recent years" could also be applied to steroids and "roid rage". There is just as much circumstantial evidence to suggest that Sheffield was suffering from roid rage as there is to suggest that the fan in question was alcohol impaired. As Far as Fenway neighborhood complaints - that's not a new story. People buy or rent in Fenway and then are shocked that people go to the games in droves and that parking, congestion and littering are a problem. I could go back every year I've been alive and find a similar story from the Globe.
A Boston police officer who regularly works paid details during games at Fenway, who asked not to be identified, said drinking at the park has spiraled ''totally out of control."
Unnamed sources - the mothers milk of hit pieces. I wonder if you compared the police blotters (which are available to the public and to "reporters" like Ms. Estes) from the years prior to the new ownership to the years since the new ownership took over - I wonder if you would find an increase or decrease in alcohol related arrests in the Fenway area on the day of a game. My guess is that there would be a decrease. I went to my last game at Fenway with a cop friend and he was impressed with both the security and the way the owners are both treating and handling the crowds. And he has been going to Fenway for 25 years.

I call "shenanigans" on Ms. Estes unnamed supposed "cop".
Since police started keeping records of the number of fans ejected from games in July last year, 541 have been kicked out. Fifty-four of those were during the eight home games so far in 2005. Five fans have been charged with drinking, trespassing, or being a disorderly person so far this year.
Again lack of context. She does not mention that those 8 home games included 3 against the Yankees and she makes no mention of how many of those fans ejected were from out of state. Even a passing fan knows that tensions run high when the Yankees are in town. People being kicked out is not evidence of increased problems of alcohol soused patrons but evidence of a management that will not tolerate fans ruining the game for the other fans around them. Notice that she was able to cite 5 people charged so far this year. That's less than one per game. How about checking the police blotters from other years or comparing the number of like arrests at say Yankee Stadium for contrast. Shoddy, lazy, sloppy journalism Ms. Estes.

Estes makes no mention of the expanded seating capacity at Fenway in her entire article. More people at the game equals more hot dogs sold as well as beer sold. I guess this fact was inconvenient to her premise.

She also does not interview anyone at any of the surrounding bars in the neighborhood to see if the new pavilion on Yankee Way has effected their pregame beer sales. I can tell you that many people mill around outside Fenway in the new pavilion and drink beer who formerly would have been crowded like sardines into the Cask n Flagon or Copperfields. Again shoddy, lazy, sloppy journalism Ms. Estes.

Fenway Park has added more seats and has added an outside pavilion where fans congregate before, during and after games. Is it surprising that more beer is sold because of these changes? No. Is it news? No - unless that news happens to be a hit piece.
Red Sox / Tampa Bay - Game 19
And the man at the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz
- Sweet
Three things

1. The Red Sox and Devil Rays really don't like each other. The Yankees are hated because they are the guy who stole our girl (26 times). The Devil Rays are the guy who just for matters of chemistry - you hate on sight.

2. OK - I'll say it! The Devil Rays are racists. They have a hate of slow white first basemen. First they used Brian Daubach as a pin cushion and now Kevin Millar. Slow white guys like me are people too. If you prick us - do we not bleed?

3. Who knew it was "Ballroom Blitz"? All these years I thought they were singing "Barroom Blitz".

I bet part of the hate between these two teams stems from the fact that half the fans at the Trop are rooting for the Sox. That has to sting the home team.

Yesterday the Sox won 11-3 on the strength of 3 HR (solo shots by Manny and Ortiz and a grand slam by Jay Payton) and the fine start by Bronson "Death Wish" Arroyo.

Two quick stats snippets from the game:

1. Johnny Damon went 4-5 and has quietly rased his batting average to .333 (good for 11th in the AL)

2. Kevin Millar's OBP is an excellent .447 (5th in AL) but it is more than 100 points higher than his slugging (.328). I can't remember ever seeing a discrepancy that high. Some guys like Jason Kendall will have OBP about equal to their slugging but 100 point difference? That just looks strange.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bigger than the Dan Rather Fake Memo

It is high time the British gave the BBC the boot. Let them survive as a private concern if they can but things like this show that there is no longer a reason for public money to be spent on blatant partisanship.
FURIOUS Tory chiefs have accused the BBC of trying to sabotage their election campaign by sending hecklers equipped with microphones to a meeting addressed by Michael Howard.

The Conservatives have made an official complaint to the corporation after the hecklers - who were ‘miked-up’ by corporation technicians - were caught at a party event last week.

The Tories accuse the BBC of a "premeditated" attempt to disrupt the meeting and say the corporation should not be involved in creating news.
The admission that hecklers were equipped with microphones for a programme that will be viewed before polling day on May 5 leaves the BBC open to allegations that staff showed political bias, in breach of corporation regulations.
These people no longer live in the real world where there are consequences for their actions. I bet they will howl if anyone is fired over this blatant misuse of the public trust.
The slogans [the hecklers used] included "Michael Howard is a liar", "you can’t trust the Tories", and "you can only trust Tony Blair".
Disgusting. I like Tony Blair but my contempt for the BBC at this point knows no bounds.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations:

- I was a fan of the trade that sent Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to Florida and Hee Seop Choi and Brad Penny to the Dodgers. When the trade was made - I thought the Dodgers got the best of the deal because they needed a solid starter for the playoffs and Lo Duca was getting too old to give a big contract to. Now I think the Marlins got the best of the deal. Encarnacion has 3 HR and 19 RBI, Lo Duca is hitting .353 and Mota has 2 saves and a 1.86 ERA. Meanwhile Choi is hitting .220 and Penny comes off the DL today.

- The Yankees's starters suck and the cupboards are bare as far as prospects are concerned. If Wright is hurt for any length of time then the Yankees will have to pick up a starter. One player who may be available is the pitcher who beat them yesterday - Chan Ho Park. He wouldn't cost much (as far as prospects are concerned) and the Rangers would be happy to be free of his contract. Just sayin' - it is something I bet the two teams discuss.

- Mark Mulder went 10 shutout innings for the win yesterday in St. Louis. Mulder is now 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA for the season. Meanwhile, Danny Haren is 1-2 with a 4.56 ERA and Kiko Calero is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 7 innings of relief. Too soon to call on this trade (especially when you consider that Calero may have elbow issues) but I think Oakland wins in the end (especially when you consider that they probably couldn't have afforded to re-sign Mulder).

- Mike Piazza is done. Stick a fork in him. This year he's hitting an even .200 with 2 HR and since last All-Star game he's hitting just an even .200 with only 6 HR total. The Mets can't afford him clogging up the line-up in the number 4 hole. Moving Piazza in the order may be Willie Randolph's first big test as a manager.

- I say that catcher David Ross will out-homer Piazza this season even though Ross is only part time with the Pirates. Right now Ross leads 3-2. Any takers?

- Zack Greinke is 0-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 4 starts for the Royals. He will be a stud but will anyone notice outside of Kansas City?

- The reason the Indians are struggling offensively is because they miss Framingham's Lou Merloni. I will not argue this point.

- If the NL Cy Young voting were held today I think it might be 1. Pedro Martinez, 2. Josh Beckett, 3. Roger Clemens, 4. Tim Hudson, and 5. Jake Peavy
Red Sox / Tampa Bay - Game 18

Really hard to find anything redeeming about last night's game but since I'm trying to be an optimist - here are two silver linings to remember:

1. David Ortiz hit 2 home runs. Big Papi is setting himself up for another MVP type season.

2. The Tampa Bay win coupled with the Yankees' loss gives New York sole possession of last place. Ladies and gentlemen - your last place New York Yankees.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Top 5 - Shakespeare Plays

Today would have been the 441st birthday for the Bard. Here are what I consider his top plays:

1. Hamlet
2. Romeo and Juliet
3. Macbeth
4. Julius Caesar
5. A Midsummer's Night Dream
NFL Draft

I haven't wriiten anything about today's NFL draft for 2 reasons:

1. Pre-draft stuff is generally boring and nobody correctly picks what the draft order will be.

2. The only players I care about are whoever the Patriots pick and Ryan Fitzpatrick from Harvard.

You have probably never heard of Fitzpatrick but he will make some team very happy as a back-up QB for a year or two and then I think he will blossom into a very good starter. Fitzpatrick has a strong arm, is surprisingly quick and he is obviously pretty smart (duh - he went to Harvard). I watched Matt Hasselback and Glenn Foley when they were at BC and Fitzpatrick is better than both of them.

Fitzpatrick should go down as the best NFL QB to ever come from the Ivy League but that just means he has to be better than Jay Fiedler.
Big League Chew

Yesterday I was down at the local little league field and my son asked me to go to the snack shack to get him some Big League Chew bubble gum. The problem is - the shack is no longer carrying Big League Chew because of its resemblance to real chewing tobacco.

This is a little much if you ask me. I like Big League Chew.

When I grew up we had candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars. They didn't make me want to grow up and smoke (although I do enjoy a good cigar now and again but never in front of the wife or the kids because they can't stand the smell). Personally, most of the people I know who smoke - smoke because they saw their parents smoke. I honestly can't think of a single person who smokes cigarettes that didn't have a parent who smoked. It wasn't because they were subjected to candy cigarettes as a kid.

The difference in taste between Big League Chew and real chewing tobacco is no different than the difference in taste between gummi worms and real night crawlers and yet the snack shack still has gummi worms. Aren't they concerned that the kids will grow up to be like Frank Burns and eat worms?

Maybe the makers of Big League Chew could have gone more PC and renamed the product Big League Shredded Gum. That worked for the folks who changed the name of the cereal Sugar Smacks to Honey Smacks back when sugar was proclaimed the root of all children issues.

I'm not sure why this little intrudance of the PC world into my world has ticked me off - but it has.
Red Sox / Tampa Bay - Game 17

The Red Sox lost 5-4 last night. Most people will focus on the walk-off home run by Edwardo Perez on the first pitch of the 9th but the real reason the Red Sox lost last night is because Scott Kazmir has their number.

Kazmir pitched 7 innings and gave up just one run. The Red Sox hitters never seem able to anything against this kid. Kazmir is a little wild - he walked three and 42 percent of his 108 pitches were balls but even this wildness seems to add to his unpredictability and to the inability of the Sox hitters to hit this kid.

In four starts against the Red Sox - Kazmir has a miniscule 1.69 ERA. Compare that against Johan Santana who has a 3.98 ERA against the Sox or Roy Halladay who has a 4.66 ERA against the Sox. No pitcher in the American League handles the Sox better than Kazmir.

One word of warning to Kazmir though - the next time you hit Manny Ramirez with a pitch - you better be ready to run off that mound because I think he's had enough of you plunking him.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Top 5 - Jack Nicholson Movies

Today is Jack's 68th birthday and here are my choices for his best five movies:

1. Chinatown
2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
3. The Shining
4. Prizzi's Honor
5. (tie) The Last Detail (tie) As Good as It Gets
Gleeman's Picks

Aaron Gleeman knows his baseball. He will be quite an addition to any sportswriting staff when the time comes. Gleeman also has a knack of picking winners gainst the spread in baseball games.

So far this year he is 21-11 for a profit of $1,100. That's damn good.

I don't think Aaron is a secret to any fan of baseball blogs out there but his betting prowess just might be. I follow his picks and only refrain from jumping on them when his picks conflict with those from Mike Ganis.

The reason I'm bring him up this afternoon is because his pick today of the Dodgers (-$127) with Jeff Weaver pitching over the Rockies has me a bit concerned.

Obviously, the Dodgers are the better team but even the Rockies and Devil Rays are dangerous at home (just ask the Rangers). Normally I love home underdogs in baseball just on principle. What really has me concerned though is the fact that Weaver (even though he is having a fine season) is a bit of a head case and he has never pitched at Coors Field. In fact - it looks like he's never faced the Rockies. How can this be?

How can a guy who pitches in the NL West manage to avoid the Rockies? He's been there more than a season already. This is just strange.

Anyway, this blog is a place for me to share my thoughts and this conundrum is what I'm thinking about right now.
Morning Links

- The IRS used for politcal purposes by the Clinton Administration. Now John Kerry is trying to keep the findings from becoming public.

- Good piece on the state of the NHL by Russ Conway (one of the best hockey writers in the business):
This is the biggest farce in the history of pro sports, business, contract negotiations, and anything remotely close to caring about people who have ever supported a business as fans or workers.
- VDH on the American system and the obstacles it faces today and have faced (and defeated) in the past

- VDH on the lessons we've learned in the war

- Honoring Pat Tillman
Red Sox / Orioles - Game 16

Matt Clement pitched a gem last night as the Sox won 1-0. What were the odds that two of the best offenses in baseball would be limited to just 1 run between them?

Matt Clement's gem made me think of this comparison:

Matt Clement - 2-0 / 25.1 IP / 23 K / 11 BB / 2.13 ERA
Derek Lowe - 1-1 / 28.1 IP / 17 K / 8 BB / 1.27 ERA

Given that the ERA difference between the AL and NL is worth half a run - these numbers are very close. Given that Lowe is 32 and Clement is 31 and that Lowe signed a 4-year - $36 million contract and Clement signed for 3-years - $25.5 million (plus incentives) - you will probably see these guys compared alot around Boston for the next few years.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations:

Hypnotized Fish would be a good name for a band... The early leader for NL rookie of the year has to be Clint Barmes of the Rockies who is hitting .463 with 4 HR and 12 RBI as a shortstop... Gustavo Chacin of the Blue Jays and his 3-0 record and 1.42 ERA has to be the early leader for AL rookie of the year... The Sports Pickle strikes again. "I think it might be Welsh"....
Red Sox / Orioles - Game 15

Last night the Sox won 8-0 behind a pretty evenly distributed offensive attack and a very good start by David Wells who went 8 innings giving up just 3 hits. The performance by Wells made me think of a comparison:

David Wells - 2-2 / 25.2 IP / 16 K / 2 BB / 3.51 ERA
Randy Johnson - 1-1 / 26.1 IP / 27 K / 5 BB / 5.13 ERA

It looks like the Sox are getting better value out of their 40+ lefty. The people making excuses for Johnson start with the cold weather and then add in his age. None of them state the obvious that the expectations were just too high and that going to the AL hurts a pitcher's numbers and that pitching for the Yankees really hurts a pitcher's numbers.

I've said it all along - Johnson will be lucky to go 14-10 with a 4.30 ERA.

The big hit last night was a three run HR from Jason Varitek but it was Johnny Damon who made the news by shaving off his beard. I'm half way through Damon's book Idiot now and I'll give a report on it when I'm done.

I do think it may be time to bring up a problem I've been observing all season with the Red Sox. That problem is a lack of production out of Kevin Millar. So far this season Millar's numbers look like:

Millar - .267 BA / 6 R / 0 HR / 6 RBI / .424 OBP / .289 SLG

The saving grace is his .424 OBP but if the Sox wanted a decent OBP guy with no pop in his bat they would have opted for the Gold Glove caliber fielding of Doug Mientkiewicz. I'm not saying it is time to push the panic button on Millar but I am saying it is a situation that should be monitored.

Millar is in the final year of his contract and he's not making the case to bring him back. If his slump continues into mid-May - put me at the head of the line of the "give the job to Kevin Youkilis" committee.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

I have not written anything on the election of Pope Benedict XVI and I will not because there is no way to top what the Anchoress has written on the subject.

The other day I compared Kyle Korver to Eric Stolz in Mask. That brought this response from old buddy John McQurk:
Thank you for the Kyle Korver/Mask reference. Certainly more novel than the Ashton Kutcher thing. Believe it or not, I have a frat brother (who's still a friend) whose nickname when he was pledging was "Mask," because he had a long face and wavy hair. I'm not sure I've ever heard a worse nickname.
Sorry John but I have heard of a worse nickname.

In my pledge class at my frat we had this kid John who had acne, greasy hair and a heart condition. The brothers were afraid of cutting this kid because they thought they'd be sued and they were afraid of hazing him because of his heart condition. So while the rest of us pledges had to do push-ups - John would sit there and watch us.

One night the frat had a big party and a couple of alums came to drink some beer. When one of the alums heard that John was going to be a brother - he exclaimed "that stinks!" And the nickname Stinky was born.

Both Mask and Stinky are pretty bad nicknames but I think what puts Stinky over the top is "the Stinky Claw".

John couldn't handle his beer and when he had a few he got both easily drunk and horny. At parties if a girl would speak with him - he'd put his arm around her shoulder and refuse to let go. For a kid with such a slight build - he had a Stinky Claw grip of steele. It was amusing to see a horrified sorority girl try to release herself from the Stinky Claw. It was just as amusing to watch a girl make the mistake of making eye contact or speak with Stinky and get the Claw put on her for her trouble.

Don't even get me started on the kid we called "the Squid".

For the record - my nickname was (and still is) a very boring "Lynchy".
Red Sox / Blue Jays - Game 14

The Red Sox lost a tough one last night - 4 to 3. I'm not upset by the loss though because its early in the season and these things will happen. I kinda even expected the Sox to lose last night.

Roy Halladay was pitching for the Blue Jays and he's one of the five best starting pitchers in baseball. Him and Johan Santana may just be the best two starters in the American League.

Halladay handled the Red Sox last night with the exception of two pitches - one to Manny Ramirez that someone from MIT will have to work out how far it was hit and one to David Ortiz which came with Manny on first base after a semi-intentional walk. Halladay only gave up three hits all night. It just so happened that two of them were home runs and those home runs cost him 3 runs and almost cost him the game.

Bronson Arroyo pitched a decent game. He only allowed 1 run in seven innings of work. Arroyo left the game with a 3-1 lead but the bullpen couldn't save the game for him. Alan Embree gave up two runs to allow the Jays to tie the game and then closer Keith Foulke gave up a run to lose the game.

Toronto moved back into a tie for first place with the win. Whats really impressive about that is the fact that of the 15 games they have played - only 5 so far have been at home. The Jays are tied with Baltimore right now but unlike Baltimore - Toronto has the starting pitching to compete the entire season. Halladay, Lilly, Bush and Chacin are a decent rotation. It should also be kept in mind that Toronto has a number of prospects in the cupboard available for midseason trades should the Jays need a midseason shot in the arm.

Manny Ramirez continues to be hot and I would like to point back to something I wrote seven days ago:
Manny Ramirez has gotten off to a slow start this year.

Ramirez .214 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI / .290 OBP / .250 SLG

However, you know that Manny will bust out soon and have a streak of something like 6 HR and 12 RBI in 10 games. Manny is just too good a hitter to keep down.
Since I wrote that Manny has had 5 HR and knocked in 12 runs in just 7 games. Just wanted to point this out.

I know that people will gripe about Francona taking Manny and Kevin Millar out of the game too ealy last night (in the seventh). It is these kinds of moves that led Steven King and Phony Red Sox Fan Stewart O'Nan to knickname Francona "Coma" last year but who had the last laugh? Francona has to manage the game but he also has to manage playing time. McCarty and Payton needs innings too. Lets not start micromanaging Francona's decisions.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

James Taylor Interview

Interesting interview of James Taylor by SI. I had no idea that Seiji Ozawa was such a big Sox fan. John Williams may be a better composer but Ozawa is the better conductor. I will not argue that fact!
Happy Birthday Rooster

Today is Rick "the Rooster" Burleson's 54th birthday. No body played harder than the Rooster.

Red Sox / Blue Jays - Game 13

Patriots Day at Fenway. Four of the most beautiful words in the English language.

Yesterday was a great day to be at the park.

Our seats were up along the first base side about 30 rows back. This meant that we were in shadow all day and that where we were sitting was about 25 degrees cooler than the field. I should have brought a jacket.

The seats were about the same as the ones Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones sat in for Field of Dreams. I kept glancing out to the scoreboard hoping to catch something about Moonlight Graham.

There are some things you get from being at the park that you just don't get from watching on TV. For example:

- when they drop down that giant American flag - they had about 30-40 Air Force personnel at the base of the Green Monster to properly roll up and fold the flag after the anthem is played. I had never thought about how they fold the flag back up but after seeing it in person - I was impressed with the care the owners show for all the little details.

- there are only Coke bottles on one set of light stands. I thought the Coke bottles were on both light stands in left field but I was wrong. Were they on both last year?

- Fenway is one of the few places where the crowd still does "the wave". I know this bothers some purists but to me its great. It is only because the crowd is so involved and aware of what is going that the wave is possible. No crowd is more aware of what is going on than the crowd at Fenway.

- this brings me to the booing of umpires who don't give Sox pitchers the close calls on strikes. The fan reaction HAS TO be a factor on umpire calls. A true home field advantage. The fans also force the umpires to be more consistent because the fans have a great memory. If he gives the opposing team the call on a pitch - he better be prepared to give the same location call to the Sox pitcher or face a ton of boos.

Maybe the funniest thing that happened yesterday was something that Baseball Tonight tried to touch on last night.

In the fourth - the sun got in Manny's eyes on two plays. He was given an error for one but the second was later judged to be a hit. A third ball was hit to Manny that he caught for the second out. When Manny made this catch he was given a huge ovation by the crowd. The ovation was universal throughout the park and it was good natured. Manny responded good naturedly because he knows the crowd loves him.

Last night on Baseball Tonight John Kruk spoke about the incident and how he was at first upset at Manny's reaction to the crowd but then called a pitcher on the Sox to see if the pitchers were bothered by the way Manny acts in the field. Of course the pitcher Kruk reached out to was David Wells who is an expert on Manny because he has started three games for the Sox [sarcasm off].

Remember when Mariano Rivera smiled and waved his cap to the crowd after getting a big ovation at the Fenway opener? I don't recall anyone saying "that's just Mariano being Mariano". Yesterday I also don't recall anyone asking the Blue Jay pitchers how they felt about Frank Catalanotto's miscue in left (exact same situation as Manny but different set of rules on reporting I guess).

John Kruk is a buffoon who really doesn't bring anything to the table. Dennis Eckersley and Gary DiSarcina on NESN are so much better at analysis than Kruk who increasingly only serves as the butt end of slob jokes.

Manny had two home runs and five RBI's. That would have been a career day for Kruk but just another day at the office for Manny.

OK enough about Manny and about what a fool John Kruk is. Let's turn our gaze to the other story of the day - Curt Schilling.

Schilling struck out the side in the first and five of the first six outs came via the strikeout. I admit that after the second I started thinking about 20 strikeouts and was bemoaning the fact that I wasn't keeping score. I was also wondering about Curt's pitch count because it was over 50 after 2 innings. Schilling ended up going 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs, striking out 10 while throwing 118 pitches.

Two quick things about Schilling. TV does not do justice to how slowly he walks off the mound at the end of an inning. Curt definitely has some Fred G Sanford going there. Secondly, I'm pretty sure Schilling hit Shea Hillenbrand on purpose. Was there some history between those two? Did Schilling hitting Shea cause Dave Bush to hit Bill Mueller?

Anyway - great day! Lots of fun and a Red Sox 12-7 victory.

13 down - 149 to go.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Patriots Day

Today is an official holiday in Massachusetts. The holiday commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord and the "shot heard 'round the world". Unofficially it is known as Marathon Monday because today is also the running of the Boston Marathon. To top things off - the Red Sox traditionally play a morning game (first pitch 11:05 am).

I'm going into Fenway this morning for my first game of the season. Blogging will be non-existent. So to tide you over - here's a picture of a hot babe.

Red Sox / Tampa Bay - Game 12

Yesterday was a wicked nice day in Massachusetts (and yes I do use the word "wicked" on a regular basis). It was sunny and about 70 degrees. That's funny because the night before it was below freezing.

I didn't see the entire game because it was too nice a day. I walked the mile to the local American Legion, had a beer and watched an inning and a half. I then walked another mile to a local Chinese restaurant, had another beer and watched an inning. Then I walked the mile back to the American Legion, had another beer and watched another inning. I caught the end of the game back at home.

Tim Wakefield continues to have a Cy Young caliber season. Yesterday he went 6 innings and only gave up one run. For the season he's 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA. If the season ended today, Wakefield would probably be in the top 5 for the AL Cy Young voting.

Speaking of "if the season ended today" - if the season ended today of the top 10 teams in terms of payroll - only three would make the playoffs (St. Louis, Atlanta and either Seattle or Anaheim but with the possibility that Oakland would drop both Anaheim and Seattle out of the playoffs). None of the top 4 teams in payroll would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

Edgar Renteria hit his second HR of the season yesterday and he seems to be settling in nicely. Just for the sake of comparison - look at these numbers:

Renteria - .255 BA / 2 HR / 8 RBI / .271 OBP / .468 SLG
Garciaparra - .182 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI / .245 OBP / .205 SLG
Cabrera - .233 BA / 1 HR / 6 RBI / .327 OBP / .419 SLG

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Kyle Korver and Eric Stoltz in Mask
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations:

- Old friend Shea Hillenbrand is among the AL leaders in batting with his .362 average. Hillendrand has been especially hot against lefties - hitting an even .500 with both his HR coming against Southpaws. Hillenbrand even has a walk.

- Maybe the most impressive thing about Brian Roberts hot start for the Orioles is the fact that he leads the majors in total bases by 12 over the closest player in the AL and 10 over the closest player in the NL

- Randy Winn has tried to steal a base three times this year and has been caught each time. Maybe Randy should give base stealing a rest.

- Mark Bellhorn continues to lead the majors in strikeouts. His strikeouts were tolerated last year because he was among the league leaders in OBP but this year his OBP is just .325. It may not be long before the fans start calling for Ramon Vazquez to be given a shot at second. If Bellhorn hits a HR soon it could lessen fan dissatisfaction.

- Carlos Beltran needs just one more hit for 1,000 in his career.

- Surprising - the Blue Jays and Dodgers are tied for the lead in runs scored with 67 apiece.
Red Sox / Tampa Bay - Game 11

Manny! Manny! Manny! Manny Ramirez broke out of his early season slump in a big way last night. Manny hit a 2 run bomb and a grand slam. He was THE story of last night's game.

Manny's grand slam last night gives him 18 for his career - which is good for 3rd place all-time (behind Eddie Murray's 19 and Lou Gehrig's 23). I wonder if Manny has more grand slams than Tampa Bay?

Matt Clement finally got his first win of the season last night. Coincidently, it came when he finally got some run support from the offense.

The loss last night dropped the Devil Rays into a tie for last place with the New York Yankees.

Speaking of TV and last night - I watched Tom Brady on SNL. I have to believe that a big reason behind Brady agreeing to host the show was the fact that his idol Joe Montana also hosted the show. Brady did a good job and looked fairly natural and relaxed. The sexual harrassment film was pretty funny and I'm sure Brady will get some ribbing for "being able to kill a horse with his bare hands."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

My Next Vehicle

When we were kids - we were promised flying cars. Well it looks like the day of the flying car is upon us.

Pictured above is the single seater Moller M150 Skycar. Moller is also coming out with M400 Skycar model that would seat four people.

The Skycar is supposed to be featured on tomorrow's 60 Minutes.
Red Sox / Devil Rays - Game 10

The Red Sox scored 10 runs on 10 hits and David Wells didn't allow a run in 7 innings pitched last night. A laugher.

The big hit of the night was David Ortiz's grand slam in the third inning. Ortiz has retaken the team MVP title from Jason Varitek who had taken it from Ortiz the night before.

With the 7 shutout innings, Wells dropped his ERA to 5.09 (mild sarcasm was used to write this sentence).

However, to me the big story was Hideo Nomo.

Nomo had a no-hitter going through 2 innings and don't think the thought that there might be another Fenway no-no for Nomo didn't cross my mind. Nomo is a career 119-102 with a 4.08 ERA. doesn't list Tim Wakefield among the most similar pitchers to Nomo but to me - Wakefield and Nomo are almost the same and I feel the same about seeing Nomo struggle as I would to see Wake struggle.

Consider the following:

- Nomo was a rookie sensation. He went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA on his way to winning the rookie of the year crown. Wakefield went 8-1 as a rookie with a 2.15 ERA.

- Both have unusual pitching styles. Nomo twists so much that he got the nickname "the Tornado". Wakefield is a knuckleballer.

- Nomo is a career 119-102 with a 4.08 ERA. His ERA+ is 102 and his career winning percentage is .539. Wakefield is a career 129-111 with a 4.27 ERA. His ERA+ is 107 and his winning percentage is .536.

- When either pitcher was "on" they were virtually unhittable. However, both have experience as many valleys in their careers as peaks.

To me both players seem to project a sort of quiet dignity. Even after getting rocked last night - Nomo sat in the dugout and stoically took it in. Both players are the sort of guys you would be happy to have as neighbors.

Hideo Nomo is hanging on to his professional career by his fingernails and I'm saddened by that. Nomo was the guy who showed that Japanese players could succeed in MLB. Somehow I think that Nomo deserves better than his current lot. I'm pulling for him this season the same way I pull for Tim Wakefield.

To me they are almost the same player.

Friday, April 15, 2005


I saw the above picture of Susan Ward at Bodog Beat and I was just stunned.

Stunned I say
Heh Heh - Dr. Kimball Could Not Be Reached for Comment

I'm sorry but this story about Federal Marshalls rounding up people with outstanding warrants had the following line which I must assume the writer put in as an homage to the classic movie The Fugative:
One armed suspect was found beneath a trap door in his kitchen, they said.
Emphasis added.
Red Sox / Yankees - Game 9

Yesterday Sandy asked how I could say that a pitcher who gave up 5 runs in five innings still pitched a good game. Randy Johnson was an example of just that very situation last night. Johnson ended up throwing seven innings, giving up five runs (all earned - all in the first five innings) while walking two and striking out nine before giving way to THOMAS Gordon.

Yesterday I complained about the Red Sox blowing scoring chances and leaving men on base. Last night was the opposite. The five runs they scored off Johnson came off just five hits (three just happened to be home runs). If it wasn't for those three home runs, Johnson could have had a shutout going but then again if my aunt had balls....

Before moving past Johnson let me say that I don't think he'll handle a full season of the pressure of playing in New York very well. I grant that Gibson behind the plate didn't do a very good job of calling balls and strikes last night but that happens and Johnson didn't handle it very well. Volcano ready to erupt, ticking time bomb, use whatever metaphor you want to describe Johnson's demeanor. Let me suffice it to say that Randy Johnson is heading towards a very ugly situation sometime this summer.

Oh and also let me say a premature "I told you so" regarding the Big Unit. Some scribes suggested that the Cy Young should be engraved with Johnson's name before the season but I said that Johnson would be lucky to match the numbers Roger Clemens put up in his first year in New York (14-10 with a 4.60 ERA). After three starts Johnson is 1-0 with a 4.74 ERA. Premature - I know (if I'm wrong then you get to tell me "I told you so").

Thursdays have traditionally been poker night. So after watching the first five innings I drove off to our secure location only to find that because the firemen and cops who play in the game were working - no game. Not one to waste a kitchen pass where my wife didn't expect me home till 2:30 - I decided to drive to Foxwoods.

Listening to the Red Sox radio broadcasters on the way down I was struck by one thing; every time a certain Yankee reliever was mentioned - it was always "Thomas" Gordon. Not the familiar "Tom" or "Flash" but "Thomas". I thought this was strange. Did Gordon make a request to be known as "Thomas" after all these years? If so then he should go back to just plain "Tom" because "Tom" was very reliable whereas "Thomas" has a 7.71 ERA and took the loss in last nights game.

Halfway down to the Connecticut casino the Red Sox signal petered out and I had to switch over to the Yankee broadcast. I was struck by one thing - the Yankee radio broadcasters suck. I mean they are really bad. Sterling and Waldman just suck. Sterling rambles incoherently like a 80-year old trying to order the early bird special at an unfamiliar restaurant. Waldman screeches. I wonder if they are somehow part of some mad-scientist experiment where confusing information is coupled with the distracting sound of nails on a chalk board to break the spirit of the listener.

Unfortunately, I had to rely on the un-dynamic duo for my game information and for the description of the Gary Sheffield / fan altercation. I couldn't wait to get to the Foxwoods poker room to see what actually happened.

My take is that the fan was making a reach for the ball not trying to hit Sheffield and that Sheffield did not show "great restraint" as he is today being credited for. To me, though, the big story is how quick that security guard went on the field, ran to the situation, hopped the fence and got between Sheffield and the fan. That was a really quick reaction.

For the longest time the Red Sox have used Boston College hockey players as security guards. The arrangement stems from ex-Red Sox CEO John Harrington being a BC alum. The hockey players are quick, athletic and unafraid to throw down if called upon. I wonder if that security guard last night is a BC Eagle hockey player.

Two final things.

1. Jason Varitek has passed Ortizzle as the team MVP this year.

2. I think Edgar Renteria may have finally given a performance that allows him to stop pressing and trying to impress and allows him to just relax and be himself. Last night Renteria had a HR a double and three RBI.

Oh - as far as Foxwoods is concerned, I dropped a Benjamin at a 4 / 8 Hold'em table. I play it tight but it just wasn't my night.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Peter Gammons - Plagiarist?

EDIT: Gammons has posted an apology and a clarification. I for one believe that this was an honest mistake by Gammons but I do think it shows that with all the work ESPN asks Gammons to do - he badly needs an assistant to do both remedial editing and checking for these types of ommissions. If Bill Simmons gets an intern then Gammons should rate a full staff.

This doesn't look good. Yesterday Peter Gammons put up a new column at that had a sidebar that read:
Reaching out

Milton Bradley and close friend C.C. Sabathia had a candid discussion about Bradley on Super Bowl Sunday.

Bradley said Sabathia was still angry because Bradley's behavior prompted the trade to the Dodgers before last season. "C.C. is like my brother and when he said, 'You left me and I'm still upset,' that was real," Bradley said. "We wanted to turn Cleveland into a powerhouse, and I see now that my actions were wrong and hurt people."

When the Dodgers traveled from Vero Beach, Fla., to Winter Haven to play the Indians in spring training, Bradley made sure he was one of the few regulars to make the two-hour bus ride.

"By trading me they made a big statement about the direction the organization was going," he said. "I understand they had to do it. I needed to go to Winter Haven to talk to some people. I needed to go for closure."

Fascinating. Bradley is a very good person who has long dealt with demons, and this acceptance of responsibility may signal that he is on the right path. Everyone who knows him hopes so.
Compare that to what Steve Henson wrote for the LA Times on Tuesday:
Former Cleveland teammate and close friend C.C. Sabathia had a candid discussion with Bradley on Super Bowl Sunday, saying he was still angry because Bradley's behavior prompted the trade to the Dodgers before last season.

The final incident in Bradley's tumultuous 2 1/2 years in Cleveland came at the end of spring training when Manager Eric Wedge thought Bradley did not run out a pop-up.

"C.C. is like my brother and when he said, 'You left me and I'm still upset,' that was real," Bradley said. "We wanted to turn Cleveland into a powerhouse, and I see now that my actions were wrong and hurt people."

When the Dodgers traveled from Vero Beach, Fla., to Winter Haven to play the Indians in spring training, Bradley made sure he was one of the few regulars to make the two-hour bus ride.

"By trading me they made a big statement about the direction the organization was going," he said. "I understand they had to do it. I needed to go to Winter Haven to talk to some people. I needed to go for closure."
The sidebar from Gammon's column has been taken down. This doesn't look good for Gammons or for ESPN.

I've seen some people try to blame this error on the attribution to the sidebar being inadvertenly cropped out. My guess and this is only a guess is that either:

A: Gammons cut and pasted the Henson piece meaning to attribute it with a comment on the outlook for Bradley but in his haste Gammons forgot or

B: There was a link but the editors at ESPN got rid of it because they normally don't link to outside news sources (being the World Wide Leader and all).

No matter what - this is shoddy journalism. I actually think the taking of the sidebar down and pretending like it didn't happen is probably the worse offense.

It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

Hat tip to Dodger Thoughts

EDIT: This is also being discussed at
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations:

- Right now perhaps the best fantasy baseball player in baseball is Oriole 2nd baseman Brian Roberts who has 4 HR, 10 RBI and 2 stolen bases to go along with his .394 average and 1.322 OPS. Oh and Pat Burrell hasn't been bad either.

- Toronto and Milwaukee are both in first place. Who knew?

- This won't last. The starting player with the best batting average for the Indians is light hitting shortstop Jhonny "Dyslexic Parents" Peralta at .286. Most of the big hitters for the Indians are hitting .250 or less. That .286 is 55 points above his career average for Peralta BTW (I wasn't kidding about the "light hitting" crack).

- Just sayin' - Jose Contreras has had two starts this year and he has averaged 6 and a third innings per start with 7 total strikeouts and a 3.55 ERA. Randy Johnson has had two starts and has averaged 6 innings per start with 10 K's total and a 3.75 ERA. Contreras is no Randy Johnson but this comparison could end up much closer than people think.

- Nomar Garciaparra is batting .171 and slugging just .171. That may be symetrical but it is not what you'd expect from Nomar. Kevin Mench for the Rangers also has the symetrical deal going with a .231 BA and a .231 SLG.

- What a difference a year makes! Last April Scott Rolen hit .337 with 8 HR and 27 RBI. This April he is hitting just .143 with no HR and just 1 RBI. Yikes!
Red Sox / Yankees - Game 8

Last night the Red Sox wasted a fine start by Curt Schilling. They left men at second and third in the first with one out and they got only one run from three walks and a double in the third. That was the game right there.

It looked like the Sox would put Jaret Wright on the ropes early but minimal damage was done. The Yankees were patient and got to Schilling in the fifth (two runs) and sixth (three runs) and that was all she wrote.

A very disappointing game.

Yankee fans have to be encouraged by the home run Jason Giambi hit in the fifth. It was a no-question-about-it shot. Right now Giambi is hitting just .240 but his OBP is .387 and his SLG is at .480. Those are decent numbers for a guy who was a huge question mark to start the season. And they look even better compared to Alex Rodriguez who went 0-5 last night and is now hitting just .229 with an enemic .270 OBP and .314 SLG. Boo! Boo! A-Rod you suck!

On the Red Sox side - Manny still continues to struggle. He got a double last night but it was a bloop job in the first. When Manny does break out he'll carry the team for half a month. So no worries (as Paul Hogan would say).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Just Thinking

Yesterday was a big day in American history but you would be hard pressed to realize it if you relied on the main stream media or even public schools or universities for your information.

Yesterday was both the anniversary of the opening of the Civil War and the anniversary of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Did you happen to read or hear about either event yesterday?

I love the fact that ours is a forward looking country. We tend to look to the future much more than we dwell on the past and on the whole - that's a good thing. However, at some point it changes from ignoring the past to being ignorant of the past.

Ignorance is bad. Can we at least agree on that?

As a country - we are pretty much ignorant in terms of our history.

One reason yesterday holds a special place in my heart is because yesterday was also the day on which Harry Truman became the President of United States. Truman and Roosevelt (Teddy not Franklin) are my two favorite 20th century presidents. It is interesting to me that both became president via the office of the Vice President because of the death of the duly elected president. Both were chosen for the office of Vice President because they were good men who as history would have it - had greatness thrust upon them.

Harry S. Truman was a regular guy writ large. He liked his glass of bourbon and his poker games. He was an honest politician and he was probably more proud of his service to his country as an officer in the Army in WWI than he was of his time as President.

Truman dropped the bomb(s) on Japan and I bet he didn't lose much sleep over the decision. Anyone who has studied the bloodshed on Iwo Jima or anyone who had a relative who was in the Pacific during WWII would tell you that Truman did the right thing.

I'm not sure there are many Democrats left who would have the stomach to do the right thing today. Truman wasn't popular. His polling numbers at the time were very bad. Truman did some unpopular things but he did them because they were the right thing to do. Truman recognized Israel. Truman integrated the Armed Forces. Truman dropped the bombs. These decisions were very divisive in many circles of the day.

History has been kind to Truman because he was almost always right in his ethical choices.

I wonder if Harry Truman would be able to recognize today's Democratic Party.
Art Howe - The Aquaman of MLB Managers?

EDIT: I made this observation last year and even though Art Howe is no longer managing a MLB team - I still think its amusing

Aquaman is definitely the most useless of all the Super Friends. I bet Wonder Woman used to kick his ass. I also bet that the other Super Friends got kinda tired of him having to hitch a ride everywhere because he couldn’t fly. At least Batman and Wonder Woman owned planes – was Aquaman too cheap to pony up for a ride of his own?

For whatever reason - I look at Art Howe and I see the Aquaman of managers. Can't you just picture Howe in that orange scaley shirt and green tights that Aquaman was always wearing?
Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez has gotten off to a slow start this year.

Ramirez .214 BA / 0 HR / 4 RBI / .290 OBP / .250 SLG

However, you know that Manny will bust out soon and have a streak of something like 6 HR and 12 RBI in 10 games. Manny is just too good a hitter to keep down.

Historicaly, Manny is one of the best hitters to ever play the game. Currently he is tied with Graig Nettles for 43rd place all-time with 390 HR but Manny got to his HR in 38% fewer at bats than Nettles. With any luck Manny will finish the season either tied or ahead of Cal Ripken's 431.

Adjusted OPS+ is a stat that is often used to compare players from different times because it takes into account league levels and park factors. Manny has the 19th best OPS+ of all time. He's tied with Dick Allen and Willie Mays and just ahead of Hank Aaron and Joe DiMaggio. Talk about good company.

Manny is also in the top 100 all-time for RBI. Currently he is tied for 96th place with Gil Hodges but by the end of the year he should be up around another Red Sox great, Dwight Evans, for 63rd place.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Misc. Links

Here are some links I had bookmarked but never posted.

- Excellent Ben Stein column on the real heros in this country

- Who wants to sex Mutumbo? Come on - you heard me. Who wants to sex Mutumbo?

- How many 5 year olds could you take?

- Do you remember those decks of cards with the most wanted Iraqi's? Here's an update (though I'm not sure how fresh the info is).

- The Medal of Honor citation info for Paul Smith

- Barry Zito's Strikeouts for Troops
Blogroll Cleanup

I cleaned up the blogroll a bit by removing some of the blogs that have been abondoned (as blogs sometimes are). If I removed your blog and you want me to put it back - just let me know.

If you have added me to your blogroll and I have not returned the favor - now is the time to let me know.

Like a Cheese Cracker

The new Miss USA - Chelsea Cooley of North Carolina.
1982 Baseball Draft

David Wells was taken in the 2nd round of the 1982 baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. This little tidbit made me want to take a look back at that draft.

Shawon Dunston was the first overall pick. He was taken by the Cubs and he had a very decent career - playing for 18 years in the big leagues. That's 18 more seasons than what the number 2 pick - Auggie Schmidt managed. Auggie was taken second by the Blue Jays (who rebounded very nicely in the second round by taking Wells).

Dwight Gooden was the third pitcher taken in the draft. He went fifth to the Mets just after the Padres took RHP Jimmy Jones and the Twins took LHP Brian Oelkers. Do you think Gooden's career might have been different if he was taken by Minnesota instead of heading off to the bright lights, big city of NYC?

The rest of the first round of the draft is mostly forgetable though it is interesting to note that the Red Sox took the world's worst in-studio analyst Sam Horn with the 16th pick and the Brewers took current Red Sox third base coach Dave Sveum with the 25th pick. That's pretty cool that a guy picked before Wells in the same draft is now one of his coaches.
Red Sox Home Opener - Game 7

Here are the top 5 things from yesterday's Home Opener and ring ceremony.

1. Members of the military who were wounded in Iraq bringing in the rings. What a nice move by the Sox. It got a little misty in the bar when they were filing in. I also thought it a was classy move by Trot Nixon and another player who went over to where the vets were sitting after the banner was raised and went down the line shaking each vet's hand and thanking them for their service.

2. Mariano Rivera getting a huge ovation when he was introduced. That was maybe the funniest thing I've ever seen at a ballpark. Rivera is now officially owned by the Sox.

3. Speaking of "owned" - Tim Wakefield owns Mike Mussina. I think its something like five straight decisions over Mussina for the knuckleballer.

4. Where was Jim Rice and Carlton Fisk? Someone said they saw Rice but I was looking for him and didn't see him. I think Rice should have helped Yaz and Pesky raise the banner.

5. Alex Rodriguez's nickname will soon be changed from A-Rod to E-Five. How long before he gets booed before every at bat in Yankee Stadium? In case you missed it - at the end of the moment of silence for Dick Raditz someone yelled out clear as a bell "A-Rod sucks!" Kinda the reverse of "we love you Couz" (obscure reference to Bob Cousy's retirement at the Garden).

Monday, April 11, 2005

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations:

- The Toronto Blue Jays are in first place. I wonder when was the last time you could say that?

- Carl Everett is off to another hot start. He's hitting .364 with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Is it me or does Everett always seem to get off to a hot start? He seems like a fantasy sleeper who should be dumped prior to the All-Star break.

- Shea Hillenbrand is tied for 2nd in runs scored in the AL. This is an indication of the strength of the Blue Jay line-up. There may not be a single All-Star in the line up but there also doesn't seem to be an easy out (except for the catcher).

- Pedro Martinez leads the NL in strikeouts with 21. With Randy Johnson now in the AL - Pedro could lead in this category from wire-to-wire. In the AL - Johan Santana leads with 17. I don't think the Big Unit is going to lead the AL this year. I think that Santana takes the strikeout crown for a second straight year.

- Nomar Garciaparra is off to a very slow start for the Cubbies. So far he is hitting just .143 (4 for 28) with no HR.
Red Sox Home Opener

That means these get handed out to the players...

... in front of the Yankees!

As Jackie Gleason would say, "How sweeeet it is!"
The Burger King Mascot Has It His Way

The morning began like any other morning. I went to the front porch to get the paper but when I opened the door I noticed what looked like a ceramic garden gnome wearing a crown in my driveway. I bent down to pick up the paper and when I stood back up there was this 6'5" being with a giant paper mache head made to look like a king standing not 2 feet from me.

In his right hand he was holding a silver tray and on this tray was a delicious looking breakfast sandwich. He gently pushed the tray in my direction to indicate that this sandwich was for me. Like a fool I took the bait.

With both hands I took the sandwich and then I took a bite. Just for a moment did I close my eyes to savor the taste of this morning treat.

That's when he put the ether rag over my nose and mouth.

I awoke laying on my stomach in the hospital. The nurse explained that it had taken 65 stitches to sew up my anus. I had been anal raped by the Burger King mascot!

I must admit that it was a good sandwich though.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Red Sox / Blue Jays Game 6

Sox lose another. Matt Clement has to be asking himself where all the run support he was supposed to get is going to show up. So far this season - if the Red Sox were a TV Show they would be Matt Houston.

I'm having trouble picking a theme for this post. I also had trouble watching today's game because for most of the time it was up against the Masters on CBS and the John Smoltz / Pedro Martinez duel on TBS. Let's be honest - other than the 9th inning - this was a pretty boring game to watch.

Matt Clement had another solid start for the Sox. Not great but solid. However, the two big things to take away from this 4-3 loss for me were:

1. Edgar Renteria came up with a big 2 out, 2 run single to tie the game in the 9th. Hopefully this will ease the pressure off Renteria and he'll relax a bit at the plate.

2. Ted Lilly is a good pitcher. I've been saying this for a long time but not everyone is convinced. Of course having said this - Lilly will give up 8 runs in 2 innings his next start.

I'm a fan of Lilly not just because his full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly but also because to me he represents what's wrong with the Yankees way of doing business. Lilly was originally the thrown in player to be named later when Hideki "Fat Toad" Irabu was sent to Montreal. He then was traded by the Yankees for Jeff Weaver who was then traded for Kevin Brown. Oh yeah - Jake Westbrook was also part of that Irabu deal. So the Yankees could now have Ted Lilly and Jake Westbrook in the rotation for short money instead of Kevin Brown for $15 million.

Thinking about that always brings a smile to my face and it makes me like Lilly all the more.
Separated at Birth?

Tiger Woods and Mariano Rivera
Top 5 Things About the First Week of Baseball

1. The Closers Implode: Blown saves seem to be the big story of the week. Mariano Rivera is Exhibit A but it seems to be a wide spread phenomenon. If you took the top 5 in saves from both leagues last year you would see that so far this year they have 9 saves and 3 blown saves. That's not a good ratio but their combined ERA is even worse. Not counting Eric Gagne who is on the DL or John Smoltz who is now a starter - the top performers from last year have a combined ERA of 5.51. That's not good. This is probably just an example of the hazard of small sample sizes but it is probably something that bears watching because my guess is at least one of these top closers will just completely melt down.

2. Cincinnati was the last team to lose a game and then they promptly lost two in a row. Currently they are in third place in their division and that's probably where they'll end up at the end of the year (if they are lucky). They will be a fun team to watch with plenty of offensive fire works though.

3. The Astros are the last team to hit a home run in MLB: It took till yesterday for the Astros to hit their first home run and they ended up hitting two - one by Jeff Bagwell and one by Jason Lane. The Astros have a pretty solid pitching staff (especially if Andy Pettite can stay healthy) but their offense looks anemic. The Astros lost the bats of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent; Bagwell's shoulder isn't getting any better (robbing him of most of his power) and Lance Berkman is still on the DL. With this offense the Astros are probably a .500 team at best. That second HR yesterday vaulted the Astros from last place in HR in MLB to 29th - passing the Pirates who only have one dinger so far (but who expects anything from the Pirates?).

4. David Ortiz is making a push to be the first DH to win the MVP. I know it is really early in the season but Ortizzle has been hot, hot, hot. He's in the top 5 in all the major offensive categories. Can a DH be the MVP?

5. The A's pitching staff. So far the A's starting pitching has had a dazzling 1.59 ERA - oh wait a minute - I forgot to add in the stats for former Cy Young winner and supposed anchor of the staff Barry Zito. Oops! When you add in Zito's numbers the staff ERA balloons to 5.13. What's wrong with Zito? Did Beane trade the wrong guy? Tim Hudson is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA for the Braves and Mark Mulder is a little better than Zito with a 6.00 ERA. This is definitely something people will be watching all season.
Red Sox / Blue Jays Game 5

Where to start with this one? The Sox lost 12-6 after falling behind 5-1 then tying the game and then giving up 6 runs. Ugly game to watch.

Last year David Wells only gave up ten hits in a game twice the whole season. So far this year he has given up ten hits in one start and nine in the other. Three of those nine hits given up yesterday were home runs. So far this year Wells has given up 10 earned runs in little over 10 innings.

The above is a long winded way of saying so far this year David Wells has sucked.

I'm sure he'll improve and I don't buy into those who believe that because he got a two year contract that he's just waiting til the second year to really try. Wells contract this year is incentive laden and I'm sure that with some small adjustments Wells will be a very servicable number 3 starter. Two starts is too little to judge how Wells will pitch for the 2005 Sox.

Hey speaking about sucking - how about that Blaine Neal? When I called him this year's Bobby Jones after the first game I was being kind. I'm looking forward to the Sox taking Curt Schilling off the DL and giving Neal his outright release. I know I just got done saying two games isn't enough to judge a pitcher but I'm making an exception for Neal. I'd rather see McCarty pitch.

Yesterday both Johnny Damon and Edgar Renteria were absent from the starting line-up. Damon is still out due to the stitches in his arm and Renteria was given a rest because he seems to be pressing.

At Monday's Home Opener there will be moments of silence for Pope John Paul II and Dick Radatz. I don't know why but the pairing of the Monster and the Pope while appropriote just struck my funny bone.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Can't Buy Me Love (or a World Series Championship)

Here are the MLB payrolls for 2005. Please notice that the Yankees payroll is greater than the bottom five teams combined (Tampa Bay, KC, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Cleveland).

To be fair - the Red Sox payroll is greater than Tampa Bay, KC and Pittsburgh combined.

Hat Tip Pearly Gates
NHL Thought for the Day

Here's something that's been bugging me all week.

Last Sunday Jackie MacMullan had an interview of Harry Sinden in the Boston Globe. In the interview Sinden said that the Bruins lost money in their last season. This is pure BS and a prime example of how the owners cook their books to make it look like the league is worse off than it is.

Jeremy Jacobs is the owner of the Bruins and he also owns the Fleet Center, the concession company that services the Fleet Center (and many other venues) and also owns 20% of regional cable channel NESN. The money earned from these other ventures all increases when the Bruins field (ice?) a competitive team but yet the owners never use these additional revenue streams when speaking about the health of the league.

All things considered - the Bruins are probably the most financially healthy team in the league and yet Harry Sinden can say they lose money with a straight face? This is reason 1A why I'm supporting the players in this battle. I'm starting to hope that next year the players refuse to play just to stick it to the owners who locked out the players this year.
Red Sox / Blue Jays - Game 4

The Red Sox won 6-5 last night behind the solid starting pitching of Bronson Arroyo and an offense that went 9-34 with 2 HR. Trot Nixon hit one of the HR - so hopefully that gets him off the snide.

Two areas continue to be a bit of a concern for the Red Sox:

1. Edgar Renteria's slow start. He went 0-4 last night and is now just 2-17 for the season. He's a career .267 hitter in April - so a slow start doesn't seem to be anything new. I guess we just have to be patient. Meanwhile Orlando Cabrera is also just hitting just .167 (2-12) - so maybe a slow start is some sort of Columbian tradition.

2. Keith Foulke had some struggles last night and so far his ERA for the season is 9.00. I'm not worried about Foulke but I am intrigued with what the possible cause of the rash of closer problems might be. League wide - all the closers seem to be having problems.

I happen to think that Toronto is really a team on the rise. I think JP Riccardi has done a very good job in putting the pieces in place to field a young competitive team. They may not be in the hunt this year but next year when they get some cash to add some mid-level free agents I think they will contend for a playoff spot.

Riccardi is smart enough to grab some Millar, Mueller, Ortiz type players and I'm bothered by people who take shots at him for the job he has done so far. These are the same people who criticize Toronto for letting Carlos Delgado go. Having one or two big names on a roster does not a winner make. Oh and just for comparison sake here's what Delgado has done so far compared to what his replacement, Eric Hinske, has done:

Hinske: .333 BA / 2 HR / 4 R / 4 RBI / 1.301 OPS
Delgado: .375 BA / 0 HR / 1 R / 3 RBI / 1.000 OPS

I'd expect Delgado to outpace Hinske over the long term but I think it will be close enough to more than justify the huge difference in salaries. One last Delgado thought - I always thought of him as sort of a Mo Vaughn type player and I'd expect maybe one more excellent season, one mediocre season and then one season where Marlin fans all complain about his huge contract.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Just Thought I'd Share This

BST in a wig?
Have a Lousy Birthday Kofi

Today is Kofi Annan's 67th birthday. He has to be on my top 5 list of loathesome people in the world.

Have a lousy birthday you dirtbag.
The Bain NHL Takeover Continues?

Have you read anything recently about the proposed takeover of the NHL by Bain Capital? Me neither and I find that strange.

When the proposed $3.5 billion takeover bid was announced it was viewed by some as just a PR stunt but isn't publicity normally part of a PR stunt? I have to assume that the folks at Bain could have gotten more PR out of their bid if PR was really what they were after.

We are talking about a $3.5 billion takeover here. The fact that there hasn't been more written about it makes me think that some things must be happening behind the scenes. I've written about the Bain takeover before and my feelings on the subject have not changed. In fact some of the recent developments have made my belief even stronger.

Weeks ago USA Today ran an article about a fan who wants the fans of the teams to buy the league. The fan idea seemed idiotic but the fact that they tried to compare it to the Bain offer seemed more geared to smear the Bain offer than to present this fan offer in a good light.

The NHL filed two complaints against the players association (NHLPA). Both complaints are geared toward making replacement players in the fall a reality. If the NHLPA is successful in blackballing replacement players and if the agents are told that if they represent a replacement player then they will be decertified by the NHLPA - then it becomes harder for the NHL owners to field replacement players that will be anywhere near acceptable to the paying customers.

If the level of talent is less than or equal to an NCAA college level then why wouldn't the fans just skip the NHL games and go to a local college game?

Replacement players are the linchpin of the owners plan to drive the players association into a deal that is acceptable to the owners. Without replacement players then the league is shut down for a second season or a deal has to be made that will make people wonder why the league shut down for a whole season just to return to a status quo.

If the replacement players plan increasingly looks like a non-starter then the owners on the fence become more and more susceptible to an offer from Bain Capital.

Everyone refers to a team as a franchise. And who happens to be experts in franchises? Yep - Bain Capital who along with Texas Pacific Group and Goldman Sachs Capital own Burger King (one of the grand daddies of franchise operations).

There are 30 franchises and Bain just needs 15 to wrest control of the NHL. With 15 franchises Bain could elect their own commissioner and do lots of stuff to make their dream a reality.

Think about this. Currently there are nine franchises with values below $117 million, which include teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks (who recently sold for just $50 million). If Bain was to offer this lower tier of franchises a premium for their clubs - say an average of $150 million per franchise - then it would cost them just $1.2 billion to gain control over better than 25% of the league (I'm assuming that Anaheim wouldn't change hands because their ownership change has yet to be approved).

Some teams would never sell because the NHL has been a cash cow for them but you have to think that Bain could get 15 teams to agree to a deal behind the scenes. I think this behind the scenes dealmaking is going on as we speak.

Bain has to keep negotiations silent because they need to announce a solid block of owners willing to sell in order to make their hostile takeover of the NHL a reality. This may be a case of the less you read the more that's going on.
Top 5 - Top Right Fielders in Baseball

1. Vlade Guerrero Angels
2. Lance Berkman Astros
3. Gary Sheffield Yankees
4. Bobby Abreu Phillies
5. Carl Crawford Tampa Bay

Sometimes I take things too literally. I can understand someone exclaiming "Wow!" or "Damn!" but I really don't get "Hot damn!"

Hot damn! almost sounds more like a food than an exclamation. Yes can I have the Hot damn and a sideorder of fries? I know this probably makes no sense to 90% of the people reading this but I just find the literal meaning of hot damn! to be amusing. And what is a blog really for if not for the bloggers own amusement?
A-Rod the Phony?

Nice piece on A-Rod by Ken Rosenthal.

Probably the nicest thing I can say about A-Rod is at least he isn't as phony as John Kerry.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Top 5 - Russell Crowe Movies

Crowe turns 41 today - so here are what I consider his best roles:

1. Gladiator (as Maximus)
2. LA Confidential (as Bud White)
3. A Beautiful Mind (as John Nash)
4. Master and Commander (as Capt. Jack Aubrey)
5. (tie) Proof of Life (as Terry Thorne) (tie) Mystery, Alaska (as Sheriff John Biebe)
Morning Links

- One of the best examinations of steroids in baseball you can find anywhere and it was done by a blogger.

- Speaking of steroids in baseball - I never would have thought Bo Jackson but a paper did and now that paper is getting sued

- Peggy Noonan on the Pope in Poland. Nobody writes better than Noonan when she brings her A-game.

- Jay Nordlinger has a new Impromptus up.
Red Sox / Yankees Game 3

The Red Sox lost 2 out of three against the Yankees but won the season opening series. The Sox head back to Boston one game behind the Yankees but without any serious question marks except David Wells who most fans are willing to grant one or two bad outings to.

The Yankees are loaded with question marks after yesterday's 7-3 loss.

The biggest question mark is Mariano Rivera who was actually booed when he came off the mound yesterday. Rivera has become a 50/50 proposition when it comes to the Red Sox and that's not going to cut it with Steinbrenner. Rivera will be the talk of New York today and for the foreseeable future. He will have to have 10 straight converted save opportunities to make people think he doesn't have a problem with his elbow or worse yet - has lost it in his old age. If Rivera blows a save in the upcoming series in Boston - then make that 20 converted saves to stop the talking.

The Sox got lucky (well I think it was something other than luck but I'll get to that a further down) when A-Rod mishandled a grounder to third in the 9th. If he handles that cleanly then the Yankees probably win the game. But he didn't and they lost and now all the talk is about how the Red Sox have Rivera's number.

Stuff like that is bound to get into the head of Rivera and the rest of the Yankees. It is something that can get worse. Rivera might start thinking too much on the mound. Other teams will watch the film of the Sox at bats to try and duplicate what they do against Rivera. The Yankees may end up looking to bring in another closer to share the load with Rivera.

Uggie Urbina and Mike MacDougal are probably available now and Octavio Dotel may become available closer to the trading deadline. I think it would be great if the Yankees had to empty their cupboard of prospects to bring in a closer because that will preclude them from filling other needs which are bound to come up as the season progresses.

Some other question marks for the Yankees that are simmering just below the surface include:

- Jason Giambi's hitting. He's already shown he's a liability in the field and now he looks like he has nothing to offer with the bat. Giambi's batting only .143 with three strikeouts in three games. The fans love Tino Martinez and will have little patience with Giambi. If Giambi drops out of the DH position - who do the Yankees turn to? Ruben Sierra? Cashman may have to call Arizona about Tony Clark before too long.

- A-Rod as a clutch performer. Jeter hits a walk-off HR the day before. A-Rod's HR yesterday came with nobody on base early in the game when there was no pressure. When the pressure was on - A-Rod made an error in the field which cost his team the game. Don't think these things go unnoticed. Last year A-Rod hit only .248 with runners in scoring position and a measly .206 with RISP and 2 outs. Yankees fans and sportswriters are aware of this and pretty soon A-Rod will be called into account for it. If the Yankee season goes bust - look for one of the fingers to be pointed at A-Rod

Of course the Red Sox also have the question marks of Tito Francona and Kevin Millar to deal with but these are things that can be dealt with. I'm hoping Francona is OK and I'm sure that will work out and the Sox have plenty of depth to cover Millar's absence if he has to go to the DL.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Top 5 - Best Centerfielders in Baseball

1. Carlos Beltran Mets
2. Jim Edmonds Cardinals
3. Juan Pierre Marlins
4. Andru Jones Atlanta
5. Vernon Wells Blue Jays
Odds to Win the Masters

Here are the odds on the front-runners for this week's Masters:

Tiger Woods 4-1
Phil Mickelson 9-2
Ernie Els 6-1
Vijay Singh 6-1
Retief Goosen 11-1
Jose Maria Olazabal 15-1
Sergio Garcia 22-1
Padraig Harrington 22-1
Adam Scott 22-1
Mike Weir 25-1
Flotsam and Jetsam

Some miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

If the Vatican put the Popemobile on eBay - it would sell for at least $10 million... Who knew Eric Gagne had a Spanish accent? I thought he was Canadian... Daddy - where do baby Ents come from?... Michael Vick is on the verge of becoming as marketable as Kobe. Ron Mexico? WTF? Between this and the shoplifting posse and the junk his brother has been getting into - I'm sure Madison Avenue is rethinking Vick as a spokeman for anything... Who knew Joe Mauer was so big? I thought he was Craig Biggio size but he's 6'4" and 225 lbs. I'm guessing a move to second is probably not in his future...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Uber Harpy and Masters protester Martha Burke and newsman Jim Lehrer
Happy Birthday Carbo

Happy 58th birthday to the man who made Carlton Fisk's historic HR in the 1975 World Series possible by hitting one of his own to tie the score. Bernie Carbo - always a fan favorite.

Red Sox / Yankees Game 2

Whew - that was a tough one.

It was a tough one to lose. The Yankees hurt Clement mostly due to a Edgar Reneria error in the third (Nomar, Omar or Pokey would have had it - just kidding). The Sox out hit the Yankees but couldn't plate any runners. By the way - I knew that Varitek was going to go yard on Mariano Rivera in the 9th (no I don't have any witnesses).

It would have been a tough one for the Yankees to lose too. Carl Pavano looked very sharp. So did Gordon but something about the Sox takes the cape off the Superman closer Rivera.

As far as hitting is concerned - I have two observations:

1. What's up with Manny? He's looked awful so far. I'm sure he'll bounce back in a big way but right now he's killing my fantasy baseball team.

2. What's up with Jason Giambi? Has Giambi decided that his penance for using steroids is to get hit with as many baseballs as possible this year? That's three HBP in 2 games.

I think Giambi is intentionally not getting out of the way of those high and inside pitches. In the book Moneyball there was a chapter called Giambi's Hole (which come to think of it would be a good name for a gay bar in New York). That chapter spoke about how the best place to pitch Giambi was high and inside. Maybe Giambi has decided to take away that hole by simply not getting out of the way of the pitch. As they used to say when I was in Little League - a hit by pitch is just as good as a walk.

Giambi struck out twice and left 4 men on base today. The Yankee fans have tried being supportive but how long is that going to last if Jason Giambi continues to hit like Jeremy Giambi?

The Red Sox officially now have the worst record in baseball (at least for a few hours). Fiddle-de-dee - tomorrow is another day.
NCAA Title Game

Last night's game was a great one but it wasn't among the all-time best. Illinois wasn't in it during the last 10 minutes of the first half or the all-important last 3 minutes of the game and that made all the difference.

If I'm a fan of Illinois then I'm upset at these lapses. I'd be upset at the coach for not calling a timeout to make sure the players refocused or got rested - just something to stem the tide of the North Carolina onslaught. Finally, I'm upset at the referees for calling five ticky-tack fouls on James Augustine.

If I'm an Illinois fan - there's no way I'm happy about last nights game.

Sure Illinois showed great heart coming back from that huge deficit but it has to be remembered that they helped cause that deficit to begin with.

Having said all the above - North Carolina was the better team both on paper and in the final score / analysis. I'll admit that part of me was wishing that Roy Williams would never win a National Championship but in the end I guess I'm happy for him. Wait a minute - no I'm not. Sorry, but something about Williams just strikes me as completely phony.

The story of last night's game though was Sean May. Do people call him Baby Shaq? That should be his nickname. He's only 6'9" and I'm curious how he'll do in the NBA. He can bull players and he has soft hands and a soft touch on his shot but he's only 6'9" and he doesn't seem to have much "ups". I'm pulling for him though because if you replace the 6'9" with 6'1" we have similar games (similar in the sense that my baseball swing is also similar to Manny Ramirez's).

One final note - last night was the first time I ever saw the "Shining Moment" song / montage. Every year prior to this I either watched the game out at a bar or would turn off the game because I'm not big on trophy presentations partly because I hate the fact that immediately after every sort of championship these days the players immediately have to don championship hats and shirts whose sole purpose is to get people to buy those same shirts and hats. Anyway, I watched "Shining Moment" and I really don't understand the big deal. Seriously. Its a highlight reel set to a cheesy song.

Sorry - I know that to some people "Shining Moment" is the highlight of the tournament but I doubt I'll stay up to watch it again.

Monday, April 04, 2005

MMQB Review

Here are the five things I think I think about today's offering from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback:

1. King makes some good points about the NFL's testing program and how the three Carolina players caught with steroid prescriptions show that the program is not working. King points out that these players weren't using any undetectable synthetic steroid - they were using Stanozolol. That's the same stuff Ben Johnson was caught using years and years ago. I thought this was interesting:
One more problem with the system. Most men's bodies produce testosterone and a hormone, epitestosterone, in about equal amounts. The NFL has followed the Olympic standard regarding raised levels of testosterone; if an athlete has testosterone levels six times the level of epitestosterone, it's viewed as a positive test for an excess of the former. Last January, the World Anti-Doping Agency reduced the ratio for a violation to 4:1, and the NFL is attempting to follow suit. The NFLPA likely will agree to the change, but hasn't yet.

I posed this question to Birch: If a player had a doctor who could tell him how much testosterone cream, for example, he could use while still staying within the legal ratio, why wouldn't he do that? Especially if he knew he'd never flunk a steroid test but still get a good kick from the extra testosterone.

"There would always be an inherent risk,'' Birch said. "You'd have to find an unscrupulous lab to measure your testosterone. But if someone calibrates how much to take, and succeeds, then no program would catch that violation.''
I'm starting to wonder how players are ever caught. The more you look into it the more loopholes there seem to be. If a player had a competent doctor and a lab to test before they are tested then it would seem rather easy to cheat. I'm really losing faith in any of the testing programs.

2. Pot calling the kettle black:
One other interesting point: The four Browns linemen I've mentioned played in a total of 44 games for Cleveland last year. They had 132 tackles and 13 sacks in 2004. But if you look at, you'd never know they suited up for the Browns last fall. On the page with defensive stats for 2004, the exploits of Brown, Warren, Ekuban and Myers have been stricken. Their stat lines don't exist.

I've heard of rewriting history, but that's ridiculous. And very small.
A couple of weeks ago King led off his Monday column with a prediction that Pittsburgh would be facing the Patriots in Foxboro to open the season. When that prediction proved false - SI or King erased the prediction.

3. King pimps Dan Shaughnessey's new book. I wonder if King realizes the disdain in which most Red Sox fans hold Chinless. There's a reason a "Shaughnessey Sucks" chant broke out in St. Louis the night the Red Sox won the World Series.

4. Not for nothing but college football coaches get fired for this:
I'm picking North Carolina, for one reason only: If the Heels win, the dumbest person ever to cash in on a college basketball pool (me) will win the one that I annually throw $20 away on. My secret: Just pick the faves. If you don't know anything, just go with the faves
5. This pretty much means that Ty Law signs with a different team:
I think Ty Law will end up with the Jets.