Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rodney Dangerfield IS Phillip Hughes

So the Yankees phenom Phil Hughes has stunk so far this season.

Nothing to be alarmed about... a lot of terrific pitchers start off horribly.
Greg Maddux finished up his rookie status with an 8-18 mark and a 5.59 ERA.

Between Tom Glavine's debut in August of 1987 and the end of the 1988 season, he compiled a 9-21 record and a 4.76 ERA.

And not to let their parter in titles get away Scott free... John Smoltz started his career 2-7 with a 5.48 ERA.

All three are going to the Hall of Fame.

Who knows if Hughes will join them, but right now he seems like a guy who is overwhelmed by the pressure and is 0-4 record with a 9.00 ERA and allowing 34 hits and 13 walks in 22 innings (less than 4 innings a start).

The Yankees have only 2 options:

1. Stick with him and gut it out and say "Hey, it's a transition year. There's nothing left for him to do in the minors. These are growing pains."


2. Send him to the minors to get his confidence back and to take him out of the glare. He WILL be an ace... he's just not ready yet.

Well, of course I forgot the third option... the Joe Borowski option.

Pretend he is hurt!
Yeah... that's it.
They aren't sending him down... that would make Prince Hank Steinbrenner even more angry that the Yankees didn't send Hughes to Minnesota for Johan Santana.

We didn't rush him up... he's hurt. Yeah, that's the ticket.

When I read he was being sent down (a day after saying he felt fine) all I could think of was the scene in Caddyshack when Rodney had the ball hit him on the arm while he was playing lousy. I almost expected Hughes to pause awkwardly and say "Ow my arm!"

I LOVE winning in the bottom of the 9th!

In fact if there is something I love more than 9th inning wins, it would be a low scoring 9th inning win.

When you win 8-7 in the 9th, it's awesome and everyone goes nuts... but it also means your starting pitching sucked.

When you win 1-0 last last night or 2-1 like tonight, it means the pitching was damn good.

So Lester and Dice-K combine for 15 shutout innings and Papelbon gets 2 wins.

Yeah DelCarmen's slump is disturbing... but anytime the bats score only 3 runs in 2 games and yet win both games. Oh it is god.

On to May alone in First Place!

Hey Roger... here's a tip from your pal Sully

Learn to use the phrase "No comment."

When someone asks you anything at this point, say "No comment."
Did you use 'roids? No comment.
Did you have your wife use HGH to look hotter in a Sports Illustrated photo shoot? No comment.
Did you have an affair with a 15 year old country singer? No comment.

I know you are a bad ass who never likes to lose, but it's got to the point where if you said "Texas is south of Canada" I'd have a hard time believing you.

And chances are someone will come out of the woodwork to prove otherwise.

I love that Roger denied having an affair with then 15 year old Mindy McCready and when asked, McCready confirmed it faster than Clemens chucked that bat at Piazza.

Rocket... dude. A 15 year old?
Are you truly a combination of Nolan Ryan and Humbert Humbert?

What there weren't enough hot girls hanging around Harvard Square for you?

Good luck with that defamation of character suit.

On the plus side, I'm sure this will help Mindy McCready's record sales.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The first place Tampa Bay Rays went into Baltimore to play the Orioles, who are also in first place.

Read that sentence again.
Trust me it was strange to type.

Yeah I know it is early... but not THAT early.
It's April... but it's late April. If the Orioles sweep the Rays, they will go into May no worse than tied for first place.

If you told me that the Rays and Orioles would be tied for first at any point in the season, I would have assumed they were both 1-0.

Man... if both the Rays and Orioles are actually good, what would that do to the Yankees and Red Sox who need those 18 games against Tampa and 18 against Baltimore to beef up their win total.

Well, this is a clash of titans... without that strange mechanical owl.

Man, I am a greedy greedy man

Man I love winning 1-0 games in the bottom of the 9th. I love seeing Lester out duel Halladay and I love seeing Youk come up big in the 9th.
I love seeing Lowell back in the line up.
I love knowing that with a win by Dice-K, the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox will be at worst tied for first going into May.

So naturally I was talking with some of my Red Sox pals about the team and we determined that we needed bullpen help.

I wrote about how I thought it was time to have Timlin hang them up and my buddy and I agreed the pen needed some reinforcements.

Timlin has an ERA floating in the 13's, Javier Lopez is a left hander who can't get left handers out and Julian Tavarez is a human white flag.

Now keep in mind we know that the Sox have a great closer in Papelbon.
And a great lefty set up man in Okajima.
And we know new comer David Aardsma is doing well.
And Manny DelCarmen was doing well until pitching poorly his last 3 games, but he should rebound.

Also remember that Varitek has gotten some big hits and is handling the starting staff perfectly...
Youk continues to hit...
Pedroia has been a spark plug and made a great defensive play last night...
Lugo of all people has gotten some hits...
Lowell is back...
Manny might win the MVP...
Ellsbury is putting some hits together after a slow start...
Drew has slowed down but still is capable of some pop...
Crisp is playing great D and his average is hovering around .300...
Ortiz seems to be out of his slump...
Cash and the kid Lowrie have given them some depth off of the bench...
And the rotation of Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Buchholz and even Wakefield have been getting the job done.

So what were we complaining about?

We were complaining that the 5th, 6th and 7th options out of the bullpen weren't to our liking.

That is being very greedy.

And we Sox fans had better get used to seeing at least Timlin and Tavarez.
Timlin seems like a good clubhouse guy and with a lot of young pitchers on the staff, it pays to have a veteran in the pen... even one with a 13 ERA.

As for Tavarez... he's Manny's buddy. And with Manny hitting the way he is, I want him as happy as possible.

Oh well... maybe I can find peace thinking 22 of the 25 on the roster can contribute!

Man, the folks at the Newsday Yankee blog can be a tough crowd

I was reading the live blog of tonight's Yankee game at my favorite Yankee blog, the Newsday Blog that is usually written by Kat O'Brien.

Well today my pals there were in rare form. They were cursing and spewing venom towards one particular Yankee in general....

A-Rod? Not today (It's not October yet.)
Jeter? Please. He can do no wrong!
Cashman for putting Joba in the pen?
Phil Hughes and his 0-4 record?
Mussina for being toast?

Nope, the anger was pointed directly at the head of Chris Stewart.

Now unless you are a member of the Stewart family, I can only guess your reaction to the previous sentence was "who?"

Well, with Posada hurt and Chad Moeller designated for assignment less than 10 days after killing the Red Sox, the Yankees needed a catcher to back up Jose Molina.

So up from Scranton came this poor schmuck with 23 games of big league experience under his belt... all with the White Sox and Rangers. He's a 26 year old catcher playing for his third team in as many seasons... clearly not the next Johnny Bench. Essentially a warm body to make sure all the pitches don't hit the ump square on the chest.

3 innings into the game, with Phil Hughes getting rocked, the buzz on the Newsday board was replacing Stewart in mid game (always a confidence booster) who could the Yankees trade for... who is available... should they sign Mike Piazza... Doug Mirabelli...

I asked if maybe they could let the guy catch a big league game before feeding him to the wolves... or at least make it to the 4th inning before declaring his career dead.

Enjoy your time in New York, Mr. Stewart.
You've already become a villain and you've been there one day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Boy did my sports weekend SUCK!

The Red Sox got swept by the post exorcism Rays.

My San Jose Sharks drop two playoff games at home to the Dallas Stars.

And my Celtics lose a game to the Atlanta Hawks, who have as much business playing in the NBA playoffs as actual hawks.

Come on! I want that championship grand slam!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hey Dodgers... don't let Nomo-mania die like this!

Last week I was driving in Los Angeles and I saw one of many Dodger billboards that have popped up around the city celebrating the 50th anniversary in LA.

This one caught my eye because it was playing on the Dodgers' unique history of playing a hero to a specific ethinic or racial group.

I don't remember the subtitle, it was something like "Remember who inspired you?"
But it featured pictures of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park.

And it's true that if you were a black baseball fan, Jackie would have been your big hero.
Sandy Koufax (along with Hank Greenberg) is the biggest Jewish name in baseball history.
There had been many Mexican players before, but none captured to adoration nor the imagination of Fernando Mania.
And Chan Ho Park was the first Korean player in Major League history, and also the first Korean player to use Scott Boras to get him an insane contract.

And of course there is Nomo.
It wasn't that long ago that Nomo mania swept Dodger land.

I was reminded of this when I saw that billboard... because earlier that day I had read that Nomo was cut by the Kansas City Royals.

Nomo hadn't pitched in the bigs since a horrible 2005 stint with the Devil Rays.
I remember that tour of duty in Tampa well because of one game against the Yankees.
The Devil Rays took an early 10-2 lead with Nomo on the mound... and he couldn't make it out of the 5th.

The Yankees went on to win the game 20-11.
If the Yankees had lost one single game more, the Red Sox would have been division champs in 2005 instead of the Wild Card team. Thanks for the help Hideo.
(Let it go Sully)

But Nomo's career should be celebrated and should be remembered as a fascinating, culturally important and impressive run.

Let me list the ways:

1) He was the first Japanese star to come to America.
2) He showed up during that bizarre post strike, post replacement player spring training and gave people something to buzz about besides labor strife.
3) His first big league game he threw 5 shut out innings letting up only one hit.
4) He had that bizarre twisting motion and crazy delivery that made him seem like a freak of nature.
5) He rattled off 6 straight wins where he went 8 innings or more in each start including back to back complete game shutouts.
6) He started the season 10-3 before finishing the shortened year 13-6 and leading the Dodgers to the 1995 NL West title.
7) He was the first star to have the massive Japanese press corps following his every move.
8) He was the first star that people in Tokyo would watch live at 5 AM in huge public screenings.
9) He was the first star to bring huge crowds from Japan waving flags and holding up Japanese signs during the game.
10) He was the first star to make the rest of baseball sit up and notice that perhaps a way to deal with thinning pitching staffs was to tap into the Asian market.

That first season was magical, even if it ended badly for Nomo by being bombed by the Reds in the Division Series.

And he had more highlights...

He is one of the few pitchers to throw more than one Major League no hitter.
And one of 5 pitchers to throw a no hitter in each league.

The other 4?
Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Jim Bunning and Cy Young.
Not bad company to be in.

His first no hitter in September of 1996 was in a pre-humidor Coors Field...
Quite a feat in itself.

His second no hitter was his debut game for the Red Sox in 2001... and it was the first Red Sox no hitter since 1965.

He led the league in strikeouts in 1995 and 2001 and had three 16 win seasons.

And the language barrier not withstanding, he seemed to have a sense of humor about himself as well. It was fun seeing him phonetically say "I bleed Dodger blue" to Tommy Lasorda. And as a member of the Brewers, raced in the sausage race.

And most importantly, he helped change the face of baseball... literally.
Nomo's early success led to a stream of talent from the Far East creating the greatest sensation of new players since the integration of baseball.

Players like Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Diasuke Matsusaka wouldn't have made their impact on the game had Nomo not come before them.

The last 3 World Series winners have all had at least one Japanese player on the roster and no doubt more are on the way.

A pioneer like Nomo deserves a better send off than 1/3 of an inning mop up work in Oakland and a pink slip.

Which brings me back to the Dodgers billboard.

Each one of the faces on that billboard besides Nomo has been honored in this celebration of the Dodgers in LA.

Jackie has passed on, but Rachel Robinson was on hand for Jackie Robinson day.
Both Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela took part in the opening day festivities.
And Chan Ho Park is back on the Dodgers roster.

Why not sign Nomo for one day?
Seriously, how much damage can he do in one day?
Give him a start on the Dodger mound... kind of like what the Braves did for Phil Niekro when they gave him one start in 1987 before he retired.

You could have one of the starters ready in the bullpen in case he can't make it through 5... maybe even current Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, whose path to the big leagues was blazed by Nomo.

Dodger fans, wouldn't you want to salute Nomo one more time?
In this year of celebration, wouldn't it be fitting to give Nomo his standing ovataion he deserves? Wouldn't it be perfect if he threw one last good game and had Takashi Saito save it?

Nomo might not be a Hall of Famer, but his importance in the game shouldn't be belittled.

I want to hear from you Dodger fans about this.
I know not all of you show up in the 3rd inning and leave in the 7th.

I want to hear from True Blue LA.
The folks at Dem Bums obsess over the Dodger past... surely they are on my side.
What about Alex at
Or Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts?
Wouldn't the Sons of Steve Garvey want one more night of Nomo Mania?
Or would the Trolley Dodger want another start from Loaiza?

Come on!
You had the Nomo poster in your bedroom?
Let's hear you cheer for the Tornado once more!

The Exorcism worked! The Devil has been cast out of Tampa

The Rays removed the Devil from their name... and next thing you know the team whose name was synonymous with a bottom dwelling fish looks like an actual team now!

Maybe they will put some legitimately memorable moments to go with my Top Ten moments of their sorry history.

Man, just a year ago I equated a series with Tampa with going to a spa.

Now they swept us... with pitching and timely hitting.
With the Orioles playing well and a post exorcism Tampa Bay, where are the tomato cans of this division?

Hope you are happy, Pat and Christin!

I guess I can't complain about yesterday's game

I have complained about Francona treating pitchers like the Egg in Risky Business and I bitched and moaned about not letting the kid Masterson pitch the 7th...

So I guess I can't complain when Francona let Buchholz pitch the 8th inning of a 1-0 game...

Let's go Beckett. I would kind of like to
not be swept by Tampa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hey Francona! Let the kid pitch!

Look, I understand we're not supposed to stretch pitchers out.
I understand young pitchers need to be treated like Fabrege Eggs.

But why the hell didn't Justin Masterson start the 7th inning?
This isn't a second guess. I was yelling this at the screen inbetween the 6th and 7th.

Think about all the positives that could have happened with a win yesterday:

- A series win over the Angels... always good to beat contenders.
- A series win where Varitek, Beckett, Youk and Dice-K all had to sit out with the flu. (Seriously, get some Day Quil and suit up!)
- A series win where David Pauley starts one of the games.
- A series win where Coco Crisp comes back and contributes to the offense.
- A series win where Papi's bat has completely caught fire.
- And oh yeah... a series win that includes a solid debut by rookie Justin Masterson.

Holy crap, the team is loading up on the young pitchers! Buchholz, Lester, Papelbon, DelCarmen and now Masterson!

The kid was throwing a 2 hitter and getting out of the few jams he found himself in.
And yeah, anyone expecting him to do better than 6 innings 1 run is greedy... but let's be greedy?

Send him out there to face Kotchman. If he let's up a homer... fine, take him out and get a standing ovation.

But Francona has been going to the Lopez, DelCarmen and Timlin well almost every night. Let the kid pitch and see what happens! What are you saving him for? He was already back in a Portland uniform by the end of the 7th inning.

Instead Lopez comes in and does his best Mark Clear impersonation and walks the only two he faces and DelCarmen makes sure the bases are loaded with nobody out for Okajima.

Then the game falls apart and all the positives are flushed down the toilet.

Everyone talks about preserving the arms of the rotation... but what about the bullpen? I'd rather see the starter wiggle out of a jam or two and get his 5 days rest instead of expecting the pen to throw 3 to 4 innings a night.

Anyway, hope to see Masterson up again soon. I like these young arms.

Monday, April 21, 2008

All Hail Hank Steinbrenner!

I'll say it. I've missed George Steinbrenner. He made Yankee hating so easy and so much fun.

Yeah he was an arrogant A-Hole.
Yeah he was guilty of shady dealings with Nixon and hiring private investigators to get dirt on Dave Winfield.
Yeah I'm sure he was awful to work for.

But do you know what?

He was also fun... from a distance at least.

It was fun seeing how predictable he was.
It was fun seeing how you could set your watch to when he would fire a manager... or a pitching coach... or chew out his best player.
It was fun thinking about him watching Patton over and over again

And in the end he was a big kid playing with the biggest set of toys.
And despite the fact the he was probably in person a repugnant human being... he also had fun with his personality.

You can never accuse George of not having a sense of humor about himself. He did those Miller Lite ads with Billy Martin (Martin's suit should be in Cooperstown)

He also appeared on SNL, he was practically the only good thing in The Scout, he seemed to get a kick out of being a character on Seinfeld and those Visa ads he did with Jeter and the other one with Torre were pretty funny.

Steinbrenner evidently was a pro wrestling fan and he understood the need to have a good villain. He seemed to relish being the bad guy and in his own logic he was helping the team with his rants, his tinkering with the manager and gobbling up super star players.

In fact during Joe Torre's run from 1996-2001 when the Yankees could do no wrong, you almost got the sense that Steinbrenner was chomping at the bit. He wanted to make big splashy moves but the team was winning... the stadium was full and the Yankee dynasty was reborn. But Torre was getting the credit.

When Rivera collapsed in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Steinbrenner said "There are going to be some changes for next year."

And the old Steinbrenner emerged briefly with gobbling up Giambi, Matsui, Sheffield and A-Rod.

But over the last few years, George has faded into the background. George is obviously sick and fading... and chances are he is sicker than the Yankees are letting on.

The public appearances have dwindled and the only public opinions are expressed in carefully released press statements that were clearly written by subordinates. Yeah it's funny to hear Mike and the Mad Dog read them with the Patton music playing.

But I missed the rage... I missed the spontaneity.
At one point after watching The Bronx is Burning I thought maybe the Yankees should just hire Oliver Platt to play Steinbrenner in press conferences.

George now stays in Tampa sheltered from the press. Some people compare the situation to Weekend at Bernies. I think it is more like the Diving Bell and the Butterfly with George watching the games but unable to do anything about it.

Like Lear, Steinbrenner's kingdom is being split up.
First it was going to go to his son in law Steve Swindal, but as I said earlier, he turned out to be even stupider than Carlo in The Godfather.

He has two daughters, but King George isn't going to hand the keys over to them... this is a man's job. (Not my opinion, no angry e mails please.)

There's Hal Steinbrenner, last seen hogging the stage after the 1996 World Series from Bob Watson. He evidently isn't a big baseball guy.

And finally there is Hank.
Evidently Hank watched those old clips of his dad and said "I can do that!"
He's been in charge for less than one season and already he has run a Hall of Fame manager out of town.

Now he is screaming to have Joba moved from the bullpen to the rotation... now.
As if making the switch from the pen to the rotation is so simple.
As if the Yankees have an army of relievers who can nail down the 8th inning.

And he is saying Mike Mussina needs to pitch like Jamie Moyer.
No doubt he said that because he just saw Jamie Moyer pitch and probably would recognize Jamie Moyer if he showed up in full uniform.

Rejoice Yankee haters! There's a new Steinbrenner in town!
And the proud tradition of front office meddling could last for 2 more generations.

Now why do I want Hank to be the next George?
Because a meddling Steinbrenner running the show is the worst thing to happen to the Yankees.

I can hear people saying "What are you talking about, Sully? The Steinbrenners sign all of those superstars and win all of those titles."

Well let me say something that will no doubt make my many Yankee friends shake their heads:

The worst thing to happen to the Yankees for nearly 20 years was winning the 1978 World Series.

This isn't left over angst from a Red Sox fan (even though I will NEVER forgive Don Zimmer.)

The Yankees won the AL Pennant in 1976 due mainly to the creative trades by GM Gabe Paul (all he did was trade for Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles, Lou Piniella, Micky Rivers, Oscar Gamble, Ed Figeroa, Dock Ellis and Dick Tidrow... not bad.) But George got the credit for bringing in Catfish Hunter.

The Yankees won the World Series in 1977 when George brought in Reggie and rode Billy and Gabe Paul all season.

In 1978, Gabe Paul had enough and quit. And George brought in a big free agent (Goose Gossage) to replace a Cy Young award winner (Sparky Lyle). He rode Martin even harder and then fired him in midseason... and of course the Yankees went on their great run, beat the greatest Red Sox team to not make the playoffs and won the World Series again.

So what could be wrong with that?
I'll tell you.
Steinbrenner always looked at 1978 as the example of his meddling being productive.
"It worked in 1978."
So the manager position kept being changed. The coaches were moved around. The GMs were fired. Big players were trashed publically and signed and dealt with no rhyme or reason.

During the 1988 season, the Yankees had Don Mattingly at first and Jack Clark at DH. Steinbrenner dealt young Jay Buhner for another DH Ken Phelps... who literally had no position to play. Don Mattingly, the best defensive first baseman in baseball had to play games in left field.

From 1979 to 1993 the Yankees made 16 managerial changes.

From 1982 to 1993, the Yankees spent more money than any team and never once made the post season.

Yankee fans love George now... forgetting the George Must Go chants of the early 1990s when the Yankees were losing (yet still signing big free agents like Danny Tartabull) and Yankee Stadium was attracting 15,000 a night.

In fact the latest Yankee dynasty was formed when Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball allowing Gene Michael to piece together young players like Pettite, Posada, Rivera, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter (whom Steinbrenner wanted to trade to Florida for Bryan Harvey.)

A new Steinbrenner meddling could lead to yet another decade of big priced free agents, a merry go round of managers, prospects like Willie McGee and Jose Rijo shining for other teams and who knows? Maybe another decade of quiet Octobers in the Bronx.

So I think I speak for all Yankee haters as the team moves to the new stadium next year when I ask...

"What would YOUdo with the team, Hank?"

I have very bad timing watching Red Sox games...

I listened to a few innings of the Red Sox game yesterday and when I left, it was 5-0 Rangers.

When I came back to the game the Red Sox had won 6-5.

Today I took my sons for a drive and it was no score after 3.
When I got back into the car it was 8-0 Red Sox after 5.

I missed 14 Red Sox runs in less than 24 hours!
The best thing I can do for this team is to turn the game off!

I'll take a 4 game sweep over anyone.
Yeah I know it was only the Rangers... but a 4 game sweep over the NEW YORK Rangers would be impressive.

Bring on the Angels

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Big Hurt is out there...

Call me crazy, and I've been called worse, but I personally think Frank Thomas could play a big part in determining the AL West race.

Bear with me.

The Blue Jays determined after 16 games and 60 at bats that it was time to cut the future Hall of Famer leaving up out there to sign, almost free of charge.

Now it is true he is off to a crappy start (10 for 60 stinks for anyone in the business) and he blasted management for sitting him (and possibly costing him an option.)

Well guess what? He is available and the man who finished 4th in the 2006 AL MVP voting and got some MVP votes last season can be plugged into any line up.

And he'll have a big chip on his big shoulder!
Think he'll won't want to prove Toronto wrong?

And even if he won't produce as well as he did last season, his prescence in the lineup should improve the pitches for the guy batting ahead of him

Where should he go?


Man, I still think that is a stupid name. Why can't they just be the California Angels? Oh well...

All last year they needed more pop in their lineup to protect Vlad Guererro. Well here's a cheap and dangerous solution. He would flourish in the relaxed California... sorry I mean Anaheim... whoops I mean Los Angeles of Anaheim sun. And playing for a team certain to be playing meaningful games in September should provide even more incentive if that is possible. Plus Gary Matthews Jr and Juan Rivera aren't exactly the most terrifying DHs in the league.

The Angels have too many outfielders as it is. They need to find at bats for Garret Anderson, Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr, Juan Rivera and Reggie Willits... and throwing the Big Hurt in the mix means 2 of them would basically be wasting on the bench. And the Angels problem isn't necessarily their bats but their suddenly depleted and hittable bullpen.


The A's are off to a surprising start but have very little pop in their line up. Mike Sweeney is the every day DH and Jack Cust hasn't shown the same power from last year. Putting the Big Hurt in the line up could give the A's that potential sense of doom lurking on deck that just isn't there now. Besides, Thomas played for the A's in 2006 when they got to the ALCS and finished 4th in the AL MVP votes. Plus he will come cheap... which will suit Billy Beane just fine.

Not many. Maybe he didn't leave on good terms with the A's or maybe Billy Beane is really going to rely on the DH Platoon of Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney.


Jose Vidro is the Mariners' DH. Let me repeat that in case you missed it. The Mariners, a legitmate pennant contender, is using Jose Vidro as their designated hitter. Also their right fielder is Brad Wilkerson. In other words two of their power spots are being filled by automatic outs. Nobody questioned the Mariners pitching going into this season but the offense was a source of concern. Why not just plug in the Big Hurt?

Nobody questioned the pitching before the season... but now new ace Eric Bedard is on the DL as is All Star closer J. J. Putz. Suddenly fixing the once strong staff has to take priority.

So there are my thoughts...
Frankly (no pun intended) he needs to go to either Oakland or Seattle... unless the Angels snatch him up to keep him away from the other two.

Watch him go to the National League!

This is starting to get silly

I spent this morning with my kids playing in the playground and taking them to lunch at the terrific Palo Alto Cafe...

It is a beautiful day today, not a day to be inside listening to the XM. But I was listening to the game in the car on the way to the cafe and the Red Sox were losing 5-0 in the 7th... and like the other day, I didn't feel nervous.

After lunch and taking a nice walk with my boys we got back in the car... and of course the Red Sox scored 6 runs and won 6-5.

Maybe I'm just getting cocky... but right now I just think they are going to win every night.

I need to remember this post for later in the year when they inevitably start slumping.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A's fans... you can't possbily be happy about your TV situation

As a sports fan, this is the second coolest time of the year to sit down and watch TV.

The best time will always be October and seeing playoff baseball.
But watching baseball and the NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup playoffs all at once is a close second.

So today I had 3 hockey games, 4 basketball games and 3 baseball games to choose from.

Now seeing that I live in the Bay Area, you'd think one of the games I'd be able to see would be the surprising Oakland A's playing the equally surprising Kansas City Royals in Oakland at 1 PM.

If you thought that, you'd be wrong.
Oh I could watch the Dodgers and Braves play... and the White Sox and Rays play (always a tradition filled game.)

But a baseball game played 40 minutes across the Bay from my house was not shown.
It said right there in the schedule... No TV.

That makes no sense to me. No TV should be said to my kids when they are acting up, not to a Major League team.

I have 400 someodd channels on my cable system.
Kick that replay of the poorly miked Mountain View City Council meeting off the air and show the A's!

Last year I expressed my disbelief over the lack of TV coverage.
And my buddy Liam tried to do something about it on The Nosebleeds...

But the A's have nearly one game a week not on the air!
Next week they have two non televised games.

And this isn't a new thing either... in 2006 the A's won a wild game against the Angels when Frankie Rodriguez missed the ball being thrown back from the catcher. And it wasn't on TV! That A's team got all the way to the ALCS and still can't get all of their games on the air.

If this was happening in Boston, there would be death on the streets.
If this was happening in New York, someone would compare it to September 11th.

Where is the outrage?
I need to hear it from passionate A's fans. The product is a good team so far and I know there are loyal fans out there.

Does it piss you off?
Are you resigned to it?

I want to hear from the Elephants in Oakland!

I need to hear from Big Al Gonzales, one of the funniest comics in the Bay Area and a big A's fan. It MUST piss you off!

The podcasters at Mean in Green must be angry.

What about Ken Arneson at Catfish Stew? Are you going to take being second class citizens?

There are hundreds of people posting at Athletics Nation every day... so why aren't they screaming at Comcast to show the games?

Let me hear from you. I know you fans can be passionate. I've been in the Collesium for 3 different Red Sox/A's playoff games and I know you love your A's.

But now, I want to hear some anger!

So far I just don't worry with this team

I checked the scores before having dinner with my wife, kids, my parents and my cousins Josh and Julie tonight.

It was a family dinner night... not a night to be glued to the XM or the Yahoo Sports ticker, but I needed to know how my boys did before sitting down for the meal I helped cook.

Sox were losing 3-2 in the 8th inning.
And no part of me was worried. I sat down for dinner thinking "We'll win it."

In years past seeing that score would make me shake my head and murmur something like "f---ing Lester. Can't you beat the Rangers?"

But now I am the product of seeing my team win 2 of the last 4 World Series.
The gland that produced instant negativity is no longer as productive.

And lo and behold when I was clearing the table, I checked the scores again.
Sox won.

I thought "I bet Manny hit one out."
And he did.

I know it is early, but it is nice having this confidence in my team.
It makes the need to check scores during family dinners less urgent.

If the Angels win the division by one game over the Mariners...

... then you had better remember the catch Torii Hunter made to end the game last night.

Richie Sexson hit what was going to be his third homer of the game, this one giving the Mariners the lead with two outs in the 9th... and Hunter pulled it back and won the game for the Angels.

I know it isn't Red Sox-Yankees... but Angel/Mariner games this year will go a long way to determine the AL West.

Torii Hunter got into a minor car accident before the game... and went 3-4 with 3 runs batted in and a game saving catch.

If I were Mike Scoiscia I run my car into him before every game!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who stayed all 22 innings?

I love baseball obviously and I get pure joy watching baseball live...

But 22 innings at night... on the Thursday!
Only to see your team lose!!!

The Padres should have given a prize to anyone who stayed until the end.
And I'm not talking about a free hot dog or even a ticket.

They cut off beer sales in the 7th inning... and it went on for 15 more!
Drunk guys were sober by the end of the game!

I'm talking season tickets!
I'm talking about throwing out the first ball at a game!

An Open Question To Pittsburgh Pirate Fans

This is the 16th season since Sid Bream slid past Spanky LaVailliere's tag and crush the Pirates' dreams of the 1992 National League pennant.

If you were born that night you'd almost have your driver's license now.
And if you factor in that your don't really follow baseball closely day to day until your turn 6 or 7, think about this:

You can be a 23 year old Pittsburgh Pirates fan and have NEVER seen your team play .500 ball!

Now as I wrote last year... there is no excuse for the 15 year slide. None. Not payroll, not market, not ownership.

If the Expos could have winning seasons in 2002 and 2003 even though they didn't even have an owner, then the Pirates could have snuck in an 82-80 season along the way.

So I have a question for you Pirates fans out there...
How do you do it?

And let me say I've always liked the Pirates. My first World Series memories was watching Pops Stargell beating up the Orioles to the tune of Sister Sledge.

But that was a long time ago.

When I was a kid, the Red Sox went on a stretch where they didn't contend...

But they had exciting players like Lynn, Fisk, Rice and Evans. They had links to the past like Yaz and hope for the future like Boggs, Gedman and Clemens.

And eventually they won the 1986 AL Pennant.

What fond memories do young Pirate fans have?
Forget We Are Fam-A-Lee... I'm sure young Pirate fans don't even remember Bonilla, Bonds, Van Slyke and Drabek!

Forget Dave the Cobra Parker and John Candelaria.
The memories of pre hooker Denny Neagle are faint.

And be honest... do you grind your teeth knowing Marlins fans have won 2 World Series since Bream scored?

So seriously... Pirates fans 22 and younger... what are your memories?
Who were your favorite players? What makes you a die hard Bucs fan?

Clearly I know you have great Steeler memories of the Super Bowl and the Penguins have a real shot at the cup... and even if they don't, you can build memories of Sidney Crosby.

But which Pirate poster did you have growing up?
Jason Kendall?
Kris Benson?
Todd Ritchie?

Which games were your fondest baseball memories?

What I am saying is, if you are a Pirate fan who only knows the post Barry Bonds years... then you are as good and as loyal a fan as possible.

I admire fans like Erik Hoeke, who wrote the terrific 10 Positive Things About Being a Pittsburgh Pirates Fan

Or devoted fans like Sara Legarsky, who loyally breaks the team down.

There are devoted folks at the ironically named Mighty Pirates, and the bitter guys at Raise the Jolly Roger, and Cliff at Pirates Home Plate, and Pat at my favorite Pirate blog name Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke.

So write in... tell me your favorite memories of the post Bonds era... and tell me those of you who don't shiver at the name Francisco Cabrera why you love your team.

I LOVE wins like this!

Almost everything worked perfectly last night...

Manny hits two bombs, J. D. continues to hit and Beckett shows exactly what an ace is supposed to do.

Oh we lost a crappy game to the Yankees and had to wear out our bullpen? I'll just throw 8 solid innings and shut them down.

So we have a 3-2 lead in the season series with the Yankees... which is important. The Yankees won the season series 10-9 in 2005 and that's why they were the division champs that year even though they had the same record as the Red Sox.

Kudos to Kyle Farnsworth for brushing Manny back.
Savor that moment, Kyle. It's the last time Yankee fans will cheer you.

Meanwhile... on April 18th of last year the Red Sox took over first place for good.
This year the Red Sox are in first place on their own a day earlier... 1/2 a game ahead of Baltimore.

I know it is early...but

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I hate losses like last night...

The Red Sox bomb Chein Ming Wang out of the game and pound out 9 runs without hitting a single homer... and lose by 6.


As I said before, I'd rather lose 10-0 or 1-0.

If only our pitching was MEDIOCRE!

But then again, when you are facing Chad Moeller... how can you ever hope to contain him?

Beckett tonight.
Win tonight and leave with a split. We'd all take that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I think it is time for Mike Timlin to hang them up

Let me just say right off the bat... I love Mike Timlin. I've been a Mike Timlin fan since he was a Blue Jays and lived my childhood dream of being an unknown reliever coming out of the pen in extra innings to clinch the World Series.

I used to do that on my front lawn in Weston Massachusetts.
Mike did that in Atlanta to close out the 1992 World Series.

He has 4 World Series rings (2 with Toronto and 2 with the Red Sox)

He pitched well in the 2003 playoffs and rotted in the bullpen while Grady fiddled and Pedro's arm died.

He was one of the pitchers who contributed to the 8 shutout relief innings in game 5 of the 2004 ALCS.

He's been a great Red Sox reliever and evidently a good guy.

This is his 18th big league season and he has played in the post season for 10 of his first 17 years.

But it looks like it is over.
He got clubbed his first two games and tonight gave the Yankees breathing room where they could rest Mariano.

Yeah he got the win in Cleveland the other night, but when a 42 year old pitcher comes out of the gate with a 27.00 ERA in 4 appearances, it's time to look to Pawtucket.

They gave Kyle Snyder the boot and he's 12 years younger than Timlin.

Middle relief might be the Achilles heel of this team... and it's no time to be loyal.

Mike, I love you. I love all members of the 2004 squad.
You lived out my specific childhood fantasy... but I think it is time to get him a gold watch and make him the pitching coach at Lowell.

Man this sounds familiar...

A fan base worrying about curses?

Doing silly things like digging up a uniform from concrete to help their team?

Obsessing over the past instead of the present?

Have Yankee fans finally become Red Sox fans?

I don't know, but it's fun to see THEM do the equivalent of diving for pianos!

Wait... didn't we JUST play the Yankees?

Don't get me wrong... I love a Red Sox/Yankee series... especially after taking 2 of 3 and winning our last 4 games.

But shouldn't there be a few more days between series?
If for no other reason to build it up and give me some ammo for my friends at the Newsday Blog?

Alrighty... better get my game face on as the Defending World Champs go to the Bronx.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Note To Anyone Who Wants To Take Joba Chamberlain Out Of The Bullpen...

How did you like last night's game?

Seriously... I know it was a Yankee win and in the end counts as much in the standings as a perfect game.

But did you see the bridge to Mariano?
It was less stable than the bridge Indiana Jones cut in half!

Let me put it this way... when you are an elite team and you have a 7-1 lead against Tampa Bay, you should not be bringing in Mariano Rivera to record a 4 out save.

If Kyle Farnsworth (the living argument against reading radar guns), LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Bruney and the immortal Billy Traber are who you are bringing in before Mariano... you BETTER be scoring 8 runs a game!

I don't know why this is so hard to understand (heck there were people last year who thought Papelbon was being wasted in the bullpen!)

But the Yankees NEED to have that 8th inning stud and the 9th inning stud... especially with the young pitchers in the rotation.

Some people at my favorite Yankee blog say its wasteful to have Joba in the 8th because Mariano is signed for 3 more seasons and he'd be setting up those 3 years.

Yeah, what a tragedy it would be for the Yankees to have the 8th and 9th secure for 3 seasons.

They haven't had a bridge to Mariano since they broke up Nelson, Stanton and Mendoza... now they have a second stud in the pen and they want to move him to the rotation.

Meanwhile the pen is blowing leads to guys like Evan Longoria.

I mention that only because his name of course is almost the same as Eva Longoria and it gives me an excuse to put her picture on this blog.

The other day I put Jessica Alba's pic on a posting.
Maybe I can get some more horny guy traffic to my site!


It's Jackie Robinson Day... the day we celebrate Jackie's courage, Branch Rickey's vision and the deliverance of baseball from racial bigotry and boring station to station baseball.

I for one think if everyone and anyone wants to wear #42 today they should...
If a parent is at a game with their kid and the kid asks "Why is everyone wearing 42?" then that can only lead to a healthy and productive discussion.

Yahoo's Big League Stew doesn't exactly agree with me... and maybe they are right. Maybe we are celebrating Jackie TOO much. (Cue eye roll.)

Last year I talked about how Jackie Robinson made the baseball talent pool deeper than ever.

And I refuse to let the Yawkeys off the hook. Tom Yawkey had the chance to be a pioneer... and instead he extended the "Curse" for 2 more generations. Explain to me why Yawkey is revered in Boston!

But enough negativity!
This is Jackie's day!

(Imagine him in a Red Sox uniform!)

Did I mention that I love Manny?

I mean I know it is early... but doesn't this seem like an MVP like season?

He's already got 3 game winning hits including last night and is doing it with Ortiz off to a Timmy Lupus like start.

I don't want anyone to talk about him being bad for the game or this or that... he is simply awesome and hilarious.

Meanwhile Cleveland's alleged closer Joe Borowski got put on the DL after blowing the game last night.

I for one think they are putting him on the DL in anticipation for the asswhuppin' Cleveland fans want to give him.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How are you liking the job so far, Joe?

Maybe that Orioles job doesn't look so bad now.

Maybe you shouldn't have yelled at the Marlins owner.

You wanted the Yankees job and guess what comes with the territory?
Every move you make gets ripped apart... like pitching to Manny in a big spot... or having Posada catch the 8th even though he has a worse throwing arm than Bob Dole.

Giradi's honeymoon was shorter than Victor Frankenstein's.*

And the more his young arms like Hughes and Kennedy have ERAs with area codes on them the louder the chatter will be.

And keep in mind, Steinbrenner has pulled a King Lear and divided his empire up between Hal and Hank Steinbrenner. If Hank continues to flex his new found muscle, he might fire Girardi and replace him with John Turturro.

Either way, you know Joe Torre is having a nice laugh and enjoying the sunshine of LA.

* I promise you this will be the most obscure Frankenstein reference I will make on this blog.

I'll take it!

THIS is why you want Francona managing the team and not your friend Sully.

I would have treated this game as a must win for the Red Sox. (Lots of must win games in baseball before Tax Day!)

I would have started Big Papi and when the Yankees were rallying, I'd have had Okajima and Papelbon in there in a heart beat.

But Francona thinks about the big picture... and Papelbon and Okajima needed a night off and Ortiz needs to clear his head.

And the Red Sox won the must win game anyway!

First series goes to the Champs.
1/2 a game behind Toronto and Baltimore as they head to Cleveland for an ALCS rematch.

That's right, I'm already checking the standings

Gabe Kapler just hit his 4th home run

You know it's the same Gabe Kapler, right?

It's the former backup outfielder for the Red Sox who injured himself rounding the bases on a homer.

It's the same guy who was in right field for the 9th inning of game 4 of the 2004 World Series and caught out #1.

It's the same guy who retired and was managing the Greenville Drive last season.

Well, somehow he is on the Milwaukee Brewers and has as many homers at this point in the season as David Ortiz, Prince Fielder, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera combined.

What are the chances of him being able to say that at any point in the season?

I would have given Gabe Kapler the same chance as Gabe Kaplan!

Good for Gabe... I'll always root for a member of the 2004 Red Sox.
And he is one of a handful of Jewish players in the Majors.

I mention that only because it gives me an excuse to play this clip of Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke visiting the Red Sox broadcast booth.

Since we're talking Marlins baseball (when was the last time you said THAT?)

Saturday's loss not withstanding, the Marlins are off to a solid start... and with both Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis hurting for the Tigers, MAN they look smart for making that trade!

While looking up Marlins fan sites for my last posting, I came across someone who had some good common sense.

Henry Gomez posts a Marlins blog called Fish or Cut Bait.

His post on April 11th about what he believes owner Jeffrey Loiria's motives are, the current business of baseball and the realistic expectations of a low revenue team should be was one of the best and to the point pieces of analysis I could imagine on the subject.

It is worth a read.

My favorite part of the post was this hypothetical question...

"Let me put this another way. If I were omnipotent and could offer you as a fan these two alternatives which would you take?

A. Win a World Championship and keep the team together for 5 years with diminishing chances to win another one each year


B. Win a World Championship and dismantle the team immediately with the idea that in 5 years it would be competitive again with the likelihood of winning increasing toward the tail end."

In many ways that is the ultimate question for a fan.
Just today I was telling my wife that I really wanted the Red Sox to keep the whole 2004 team together... even if it meant overpaying for Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, Orlando Cabrera and not dealing Dave Roberts.

And she responded by nodding politely while not looking up from her magazine.

And it turned out I was dead wrong.
Letting them go gave the Sox the draft picks to get Ellsbury and Buccholz and the money to acquire Beckett, Lowell and Dice-K.

Instead of a 2004 reunion tour, we got another World Series parade.

And this profound question is one to ask each fanbase.
Would you rather have stability or a legit chance to win a World Series every 5 to 7 years?

What I am saying is the Marlins should sign Henry Gomez and make him their spokesman.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hey Marlins fans... clear some stuff up for me

Don't be fooled by the empty seats... there are indeed passionate Florida Marlins fans out there.

The folks at Bright Orange Seats show their love for the Fish.

I am convinced Fish Stripes know the Marlins better than the front office does.

Fish Chunks, Fish@Bat and The South Florida Fan all show there those who live and die in teal.

So I am wondering about a few things and I'm hoping my Marlins compadres can help clear things up for me.

I think the Marlins are the strangest franchise in any professional sport.
They are a poster child for small revenue woes. They play in a bad park with small crowds and let their big players go constantly.

And yet since their first season, they are the only team other than the Yankees and the Red Sox to win more than one World Series title.

I encouraged my Cubs, Indians and Giants buddies to become Marlin fans so they could be happy.

But I wonder how those two titles have affected your fan base.
Do you watch and rewatch those playoff and World Series games in your head?
Do you close your eyes and see Edgar Renteria line that shot over Charles Nagy's head?

Do you have the clip of Pudge Rodriguez holding onto the ball to eliminate the Giants on your desktop?

Is there a picture of Alex Gonzalez's walk off shot against Jeff Weaver on your wall?
Is Josh Beckett tagging out Jorge Posada to clinch 2003 your cell phone ring?

Do you chuckle when people mention poor Bartman?

I know that I have watched the games of 2004 more than I care to admit.
And I also own the Sox post season wins on iTunes and rewatch the best parts.

Sometimes I actually stop and exhale and think to myself "I've seen the Red Sox win TWO World Series!"

Is it the same for you?

I've seen Yankee fans thump their chests winning during the Torre years.
I've seen Oakland A's fans proud in 1989, but their celebration subdued by the earthquake.

I've seen Randy Pearlstein, my college buddy, go nuts when his beloved Blue Jays won back to back titles.

I've seen my cousin Dave loving life when the Mets won in 1986. (I don't recall who they played.)

But I also know those fans lived and died and cried with their team for a while.
The Marlins were formed... stunk for 4 years and then suddenly won a World Series.

Was that too much too soon?
Kind of like losing your virginity to Jessica Alba?

Then of course the team was dismantled so fast that 90% of them were on different teams during the victory parade... they stunk for 5 more seasons and won ANOTHER World Series.

Seriously, how do you guys relish those titles?
Forget Billy Goats... Cub fans would sacrifice first born children for one of those.
Same with Cleveland fans... and Giants fans.

You guys have experienced more World Series titles than the Phillies!
And that's a fan base that needs one soon.

Someone e mail me and let me know.

Oh... you do know that you are going to win another World Series very soon, right?

Fatherhood, satellite radio reception, the weather, Fox Sports and the Yahoo Ticker all conspired against me today

The Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox played the Yankees again today on a nationally broadcast game.

No way I was going to miss it, right?

Well I didn't, but let's just say my enjoyment of the game was constantly being derailed by forces bigger than myself.

First of all today my wife and I took our boys to their friend's birthday party in Santa Cruz.

We drove from our home in the Silicon Valley over the hills to Santa Cruz... listening on my trusted XM radio to the Brewers/Mets game, wishing the Defending World Champions were playing earlier.

At the birthday party there were plenty of 3 year old boys and girls (including my twins) which means there was screaming, laughing, running around, fighting over toys and a giant blow up jumping tent.

To my utter salvation, there were also enough dads who were interested in the game to put it on the flat screen TV. So I was able to watch my kids and the game at the same time.

Of course one of my boys and a little girl wandered off and I had to keep them in view... so I did the fatherly thing of following them and then catching them turning on a bathroom sink and trying to splash each other.

I dragged them both out and looked at the TV in time to see I had missed a home run by Manny Ramirez.

We left the party and started driving up the hills separating Santa Cruz from the SF Bay Area. The Yankees had taken the lead but the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox were rallying. Second and third with 2 outs and Manny at the plate.

And my satellite reception started going in and out.
I kept trying to adjust my antenna but my wife reminded me that we were driving on a windy mountain road and I should pay attention to driving.

The reception came back.
I had missed Manny's 2 run double.

We arrived at my in law's house where my mother in law was preparing a feast.
She is sympathetic to my Red Sox obsession and told me to sit in the living room and finish watching the game.

The drama is reaching a fever pitch as the Defending World Champs cling to a 4-3 lead but the Yankees have 2 on, 2 outs in the 8th... Papelbon on the mound and A-Rod at the plate.

And then the rains came.
And a 2 hour plus rain delay.

I of course didn't know it was going to last 2 plus hours and I couldn't bring myself to completely leave the living room.

It... might... come... back... on.

So I sat through Jeannie Zelasko, a NASCAR pre game show and the end of the Rockies/D'Backs blow out.

All the while ducking my head into the kitchen to ask how I could help.

Finally, after a delay roughly as long as the movie Amadeus, the game was back on.

Joe Buck openly wondered about Papelbon's effectiveness with the delay and whether or not he should be used... and then he struck out A-Rod on three pitches.

On to the ninth... 1 run game... the two rivals facing off...
Papelbon strikes out Giambi and then Posada.

Despite missing the two big Sox offensive plays and having the gaping delay, I am now into the game big time.

And I could tell my mother in law was almost done cooking...
And my kids were awake from their naps...
I needed this game over because pretty soon I would HAVE to help!

Papelbon gets the count full on Robinson Cano with Matsui getting ready to pinch hit.
The biggest pitch of the year coming up...

And FOX cuts away.
They go to lap one of the Subway Jared Is No Longer Fat 500 NASCAR race.

There are 499 more laps of these hillbillies driving their car and they are pushing the potential last pitch of a Red Sox/Yankees game off the air.

I am informed the game is on FX.
I start flipping looking for FX but I can't find it.

I hop onto the internet and click the Yahoo Sports Game Tracker.
It's still 3-2 on Cano.

I'm staring at the ticker waiting to see it change.
And I see that little Mac pinwheel spinning.

The computer is freezing up.
I force quit out and click on it again.

Now the game is listed as a Final Score... Sox 4-3.

So I followed the whole game using three pieces of technology and STILL missed the Ramirez homer, Ramirez double and the end of the game.

Oh well... my boys won and the dinner was terrific.
Dice K tomorrow

Friday, April 11, 2008

Round 1 goes to the Yankees...

Tip your cap to Wang.

He shut down the Sox and it just wasn't our night.
And did you notice something odd about the game?
I did.

Wang was kicking butt and the Red Sox couldn't get a hit in a relatively close game.
And instead of taking Wang out in the 8th for Joba and the 9th for Mariano... Girardi did a very strange thing:

He let Wang pitch the whole game.
My GOD! Have you ever heard of such a thing? A complete game? Has that ever happened before?

Why not match up lefty against lefty while the guy is throwing a 1 hitter?
What a maverick that Girardi is.

Beckett up tomorrow...
Time to be an ace.