Baseball Thinking

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Let's put things in perspective.

I have met few people who haven’t enjoyed taking in a baseball game at historic Fenway Park. It’s an experience that everyone should immerse themselves in during their lifetime. Occasionally we experience such life changing events that put our daily habits and joys on hold. Times like these tend to shift and re-align our priorities, actually putting them back into their proper order. Today’s event is the heart wrenching catastrophe that hit the southern part of the country in the form of Hurricane Katrina. Watching helplessly from afar we have witnessed tragedy on a grand scale. Never before has this country grieved from a natural disaster of this magnitude. As we surf around the various news outlets, we are presented with a plethora of heart wrenching stories due to earth’s wind, water & fire. With despair on the faces of those being rescued from the tops of their homes, our hearts want to jump into action and do whatever possible although we are so far away. We feel the need to be right in the midst of the rescue efforts, hoping to save a life that otherwise might expire. Our good sense tells us that while we can’t immediately assist, our prayers will have to suffice until our goodwill takes place using the recommended methods, such as donating canned foods and clothing. Entire families and their material possessions have washed away with the outgoing tide, while we still have ours. It doesn’t seem fair. As we lay our heads down on our dry pillows this evening, pause for a moment and reflect on how good we have it today, right now! May God be with all the victims.

Monday, August 29, 2005

If Tommy was being Tommy ...

The signature theme to the 2005 Red Sox is Manny being Manny. Sure, it might have been cute for a week or so, but come on, are we going to tolerate this BS? If Tommy was being Tommy, Tommy wouldn't have a job, family, or much of the life he is accustomed to. For example, during a recent game at Fenway Park, Manny Ramirez ducked into the manual scoreboard out in left field. For some reason, he thought there was going to be a pitching change. It turns out the Manny had to “relieve” himself. He barely got his fly up as Wade Miller was delivering a pitch to the plate. Manny being Manny. If Tommy was in a work meeting and ducked into the closed to wizz in a coffee cup, needless to say Tommy would be standing on the outside looking in. During another mental lapse by number 24, he failed to hustle down the first base line in a close game in Kansas City. What initially appeared to be an easy double play turned into a closer play. Manny was out but the play would have been a lot closer had he actually hustled down the first base line. If Tommy was working on a key project at work, a project that could result in a potential profit for the company, and Tommy decided that he wasn’t going to put any effort in the project, once again, Tommy would be on the outside looking in. If Tommy said he needed a day off during the deadline of an important project, Tommy would find that he would eventually have many days off in a row. Remember that Tommy isn’t making 20 million dollars per year. Tommy’s salary is around $19, 990, 000.00 less, give or take a couple bucks.
If Tommy can’t get away with this erratic behavior in the real world, then why would Manny Ramirez be able to get away with this act in Boston, a town known for it’s unparalleled worth ethic? Is it due to his charming, even unctuous public manner? Sometimes the consensus totally baffles me. Sure, Manny might be a boy in a man’s body, but I personally think he could be a poster boy for ADD. Has anyone in the Red Sox organization actually checked this childman for this condition. Tommy has a strong feeling that Manny will be Manny in another town next year. Well, Tommy is going back to being Tommy, as I work the world in an effort to establish my own millions!
This date in baseball history: 1934 Tiger Schoolboy Rowe, after sixteen consecutive victories, finally loses. The A's chase him after seven innings in a 13-5 final. 1948 In St. Louis, Jackie Robinson hits for the cycle, drives in two runs, scores three times and steals a base helping the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals, 12-7. 1965 Giants centerfielder Willie Mays breaks former Pirate Ralph Kiner record for home runs in the month of August when the 'Say Hey Kid' connects for his 17th round tripper in an 8-3 victory over the Mets. 1966 At Candlestick Park, the Giants' home in San Francisco, the Beatles play their last concert. The 'Fab Four' will never perform in public again. (Historical data courtesy National Pastime/Photo courtesy ESPN)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yankee's Suck? I don't think so.

Today the executive branch of the Boston Red Sox announced that any t-shirts that deliver a little schadenfreude at the cost of the New York Yankees will not be tolerated. Yes, I read today and found that to be a really cool word. What this means is that any shirt with the New York team name and/or team member, followed by the words suck, swallow, etc, will not be tolerated. Any fan attempting to enter Fenway Park with a shirt of this type will be asked to remove it and turn it inside out. I would love to be an attendant at the gate and spring this news to Jennifer Garner! Hubba hubba hubba!! While walking outside today I witnessed a couple rather large flies hovering over some dog poop. Having the attention span equal to my daughter's while she's on the computer, my mind strayed and focused in on this everyday happening of nature. One would guess that after thousands of years some teenage fly in his late teens, on his way to an Ivory league school, would rebel and say “Dude, this is so wrong!” That being said, how many times have you been to Fenway and heard the crowds chant “Yankees suck”, among other truculent verbiage? When the Sox visit the house that Ruth built, it is not uncommon to hear similar chants, including the very popular 1918. Dude, that is so wrong! I have witnessed vendors hawking their 5 dollar shirts (and not the good quality Champion shirts, but the type that rips after the first wash!) before and after Sox/Yankee games. And we have all seen the vendors selling Yankee Suck shirts after the Bronx Bombers beat us! If they suck and beat us, then how bad were the Red Sox? The Sox don’t suck. The Yankee’s don’t suck. Both teams have performed very well over the past ten years, haven’t they? Hmmmmm….
That being said, this announcement should be met with a positive response. The Sox brass are being very proactive with their initiative to create a more family oriented experience at Fenway Park. Fans will still shout epitaphs at various Yankee players from now until eternity. I embrace the idea that young children, perhaps attending their very first MLB game, will no longer have to read the various slurs on t-shirts. I encourage every fan to think twice before purchasing or wearing one of these shirts. I wish that the boss of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, would release a similar press release discouraging fans from wearing similar shirts at Yankee Stadium. I’d love to know how you feel about this. Do you feel this violates our freedom of speech? Do you disagree with the announcement? Are you a vendor who will be making a couple grand less per game? Please click the comment button below and let me know.
Today in baseball history: 1984 "They shouldn't try to compare Dwight to Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan or anyone else because there is no comparison. They should be comparing the others to Dwight." Davey Johnson, as Met manager – and this was before crack was invented! 1922 In spite of a fourth inning lead of 25-6, the Cubs need to hold on to defeat Philadelphia 26-23 as the Phillies leave the bases loaded in the ninth. The total amount of runs, 49, is the major league mark for most tallies scored in one game. 1956 Prior to the Old Timer's Game at Yankee Stadium, shortstop Phil Rizzuto is asked to consult with general manager George Weiss and manager Casey Stengel concerning a player move necessitated by reacquiring Enos Slaughter from the A's. After making several suggestions about who should be cut from the squad, the veteran infielder is told by Weiss he is the player about to be let go. 1967 Twins' Dean Chance throws his second no-hitter of the month defeating the Indians 2-1. On August 5th he threw five perfect innings in an abbreviated game against the Red Sox. 1985 Met phenom Dwight Gooden becomes the youngest (20 years, 9 months. & 9 days) pitcher to win 20 games in a season. Bob Feller was a month older when he accomplished the feat in 1939.(An arrest warrant has been issued for Dwight after he fled police while allegedly drunk.
Go Sox! (Photo courtesy Yankee Hater (go figure), stats courtesy National Pastime)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kevin Millar did what?

I am in the process of putting together a little su'um su'um about Anthony Nomar Garciaparra and had to put it aside when Kevin Millar did something he hasn't done in almost 3 months. Yes, he DID hit a home run! It was barely a long ball as it grazed off the left field foul pole. Talk about squeaking one in. With a slight breeze coming out of the south, well, it would have been just another loud strike. As soon as he connected his eyes lit up like deer in the headlights. I am pretty sure he asked the Kansas City first baseman, Mike Sweeney, how to run the bases because he hadn't done that in a long time. Unlike HR hitters like David Ortiz, he literally flew around the bases like he was chugging to stretch a single to a double. And he was as graceful and coordinated as a two legged antelope! As he was running the bases, there was scrambling in the dugout. Manager Frito Francona was instructing everybody to take a seat and give Kevin the silent treatment when he came back into the dugout. I'm pretty sure Millar was keen to it because as he jogged down the steps of the dugout, he placed his batting helmet on backwards and covered his eyes. For a few seconds his teammates ignored him, until the 230lb captain of the Sox, catcher Jason Varitek, jumped on his back as he was walking by. If the homerun didn't wake up Millar, the monkey on his back did. I have been a fan of Kevin Millar ever since he was taken off an airplane headed for Japan and was literally bought for cash from the Florida Marlins in 2003. He has been such a great teammate everyone in the Red Sox organization. He has had some big hits for the Sox during his 3 year stay in Boston. And we all know how much he has struggled in 2005. Francona has stuck with him during much of the season, to the dismay of many in The Nation. With the emergence of veteran John Olerud, Millar was delegated to ride the pine over the past 3 days. During an interview on WEEI Wednesday afternoon, Francona stated he had spoken with Millar and that Kevin would continue to be a positive influence in the dugout. That characteristic of Kevin Millar is invaluable. So hang your cups high for tonight we toast Red Sox first baseman, Kevin Millar! May you hit a homerun in every at bat!!
This date in baseball history: 1905 In Philadelphia, the Cubs defeat the Phillies in 20 innings, 2-1, with Ed Reulbach going the distance for Chicago. 1940 In the Tigers 12-1 victory at Fenway Park, Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams pitches the last two innings against Detroit allowing one run on three hits. 1941 A rag tag group of five musicians, dubbed the Dodger SymPhony, by announcer Red Barber, make their Ebbets Field's debut. This band, none of which could read music, perform their zany antics at all evening and weekend games. 1951 A thousand fans behind the Browns dugout are given yes and no signs to vote on decisions to be made by the coaching staff. Owner Bill Veeck's idea appears to work as his team beats the Phillies, 5-3. 1963 The Little League World Series is televised for the first time . With ABC's Wide World of Sports providing coverage of the championship game, Grenada Hills (CA) beats Stratford (CT), 2-1. (Photo courtesy MLB / Historical data courtesy

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Tale of the Irish Pekka.

Today it was announced that the NHL Nashville Predators signed goaltender Pekka Rinne. I know it isn't baseball related and I think it is kinda funny. If you do the unmentionable and mouth his name while you are reading it, you will smile. Next, say his name out loud. Then yell his name. Now make believe he is Irish and call him O'Pekka! If that doesn't make you smile, nothing will. On to baseball.
When the Red Sox finish the ten game road trip they are wrapping up in Kansas City, they will begin the stretch run with 24 of the remaining 36 games at home. This portion of the schedule has been well publicized since the schedule was released last year. The key is if they take advantage of it. Sixteen of the final 36 games are against teams with sub .500 record. Of those remaining 20 games, six are against New York, 4 against Oakland & 3 against the Angels and Blue Jays. Against the sub .500 teams, this year the Sox are 17-12. Against the remaining teams, the 2005 Red Sox are 17-20. The Blue Jays have had their number all year by taking 8 of 11 so far. The New York Yankees have 16 home/20 road games remaining once they finish their series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Twenty-one of the 36 remaining games are against sub .500 teams. Against those teams, the 2005 edition of the Yankee's are an incredible 13-19, including a 3 game sweep at the hands of the Royals. The Sox are 7-6 against the Yankees, and the remaining teams are 11-4. At first it appears that the Sox have the clear edge to win the American League East, but other tangibles have to be factored in. How a team is currently playing, how hot the starting pitching has been, injuries, which team will mail it in as the season comes to a close are all factors that can't be determined at this time. Even so, the Sox must realize that they are in the driver’s seat and control their own destiny. Win the games you are supposed to win and don't scoreboard watch, well, at first anyway! Go Sox! This date in baseball history: 1906 At American League Park in Washington, D.C., the White Sox win their 19th consecutive game beating the Senators, 4-1. 1936 The Indians' seventeen-year-old rookie pitcher, Bob Feller makes his first major league start striking out the first eight batters he faces. 'Rapid Robert' will finish the game with 15 strikeouts as Cleveland beats the Browns, 4-1. 1952 Bob Elliot of the Giants is tossed from the Cardinal game for protesting a strike two call and his replacement, Bobby Hoffman, is also thrown out for arguing the third strike of the same at-bat. 1982 Gaylord Perry of the Mariners is ejected from the game for applying a foreign substance to the ball. Although the right-hander has been suspected for years of loaded up the baseball, it is the first time he has been caught by the umpires. 1989 Cincinnati manger Pete Rose agrees to a lifetime suspension from baseball due to allegations of betting on baseball. (Historical data courtesy Photo courtesy dnamaali/mokke.html)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Offseason: A need for a first baseman.

Today is an off day for the Red Sox but not for the bloggers of Red Sox Nation. "There are no off days in baseball!". Well, the movie line was similar to that, except funnier. I would like to take this opportunity to look past the coming week & playoff races. I would like to address the first base situation for the Red Sox. I'd like to take a look at who's available, beside me, next year. For some reason, the Boston brass refuses to return my calls. There are several free agents that will become available, as well as the possibility of a trade. Let's take a look at who's out there. In no particular order, there is Kevin Millar, Paul Konerko, Dimitri Young, Tino Martinez, Scott Hatteberg, Erubiel Durazo, Travis Lee, Eduardo Perez, Julio Franco, Wes Helms & Doug Mientkiewicz. Millar will not fetch much in the market and should be offered a minor league deal, maybe even with the Sox. Personally, I feel he can make at least &16, 200. If you go to a comedy club and get pinched for two fins, well, that is what Millar is worth, at least, for 162 games. He can keep the team losey goosy with his sense of humor. Hopefully he will provide the ultimate punch line when he finds his stroke. Mientkiewicz (spell checker loves this name) has been here, done that. Besides, he just might take his ball and go home. Konerko has publicly stated that he enjoys the pressure free environment of playing for Chicago's 2nd favorite ball club. East coast ball is too stressful for him. Good for him. Young has been displaced at first by Chris Shelton and Carlos Pena. Besides, his best years are behind him and he can't lay off the Scooby snacks. Martinez might not play again in 2006, and if he does, he'll probably be spraying lemon pledge on the Yankee's bench. Julio Franco, that freak of nature. He will turn 48 before the end of the 2006 season. Your not sure if this guys' gonna be alive on a day to day basis. I believe his minor league teammate was Satchel Paige. ;-) Wes Helms? Who cares? Actually, who cares about the rest of them? If I was allowed one vote, I would suggest the local boy, Carlos Pena. He has been riding the shuttle between Detroit and *****. First, he can be acquired in a trade and come relatively cheap. He is steady at first, showing flashes of brilliance, but also bumbling the occasional routine play. He has HR power, especially when fed an off speed diet. He knows the strike zone pretty well and doesn't get cheated on swings. His beautiful left handed stroke is made for Fenway's right field. The problem pitch for him is a hard fastball, which he has trouble connecting. Well, so don't I! With the strong Boston lineup, he could in the 7 or 8 hole, where there is no pressure. He is not an All-Star, he is not a household name, but he is a true first baseman who provides an upgrade over every player Boston has auditioned there over the past few years (Ortiz, Millar, Petagine, Youk & Olerud). He has played ok when coming home to Fenway, and has hit some memorable HR's. If memory serves me, he has had multiple HR games against the Sox. He could be acquired for some picks or minor leaguers. Of course the minor leaguers would be players we have never heard of and hope to never hear from again, unlike Jeff Bagwell. This sounds like a great idea, or total lunacy. Perhaps the Sox brass might listen to me after all!
This day in baseball history: 1886 Louisville's Chicken Wolf hits a game-winning home run thanks to a stray dog tearing at Reds' Abner Powell's pant leg causing the center fielder to miss the ball. Damn dogs. 1939 At Comiskey Park, the Yankees win their first night game in franchise history as the Bronx Bombers defeat the White Sox, 14-5. 1965 Juan Marichal thinks Johnny Roseboro throws too close to his head returning the ball to Sandy Koufax and attacks Dodger catcher with his bat. The Los Angeles backstop suffers cuts on the head during the 14-minute brawl. 1989 On a 96 mph fastball, A's Rickey Henderson swing and misses to become Nolan Ryan's career 5000th strikeout. The 'Ryan Express' strikes out 13 and gives up only five hits, but loses the game to Oakland, 2-0. (courtesy Photo courtesy MLB.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Six weeks till Sunday.

Six weeks till Sunday. MLB is officially in the stretch run. The dog days of August are coming to an end. The race for the playoffs unofficially begins today. Six weeks from today, Sunday August 21st, the regular season will end. All MLB teams will play in October this year. Every single one of 'em. But only 8 will be able to play after October 2nd. The final six weeks will determine who is invited to baseballs' second season. In the AL, along with the 3 division leaders, there are an additional 5 teams in the hunt for the final playoff spot, while the NL has seven teams within 5.5 games of the last spot. These final six weeks of the season should be memorable as no one is guaranteed a shot at the World Series Championship. Some division leaders are looking over their shoulders as well. The Boston Red Sox have failed to put away the New York Yankee's, even with the well documented pitching woes plaguing the Yankee's. Boston holds a slim 3 game lead and has 6 games remaining with the Yankee's. Boston's Little League defense has allowed the dreaded NY team to remain in the race. The Oakland A's are the feel good story of the year, but have faltered lately and are 2.5 games behind the LA Angels. The National League's version of the feel good story, the Washington Nationals, are also stumbling and 1.5 games off the wild card pace. I don't know anyone living in this country who doesn't want to see the Nat's in the playoffs. Each team plays 162 games for a reason, and that reason is now clearer. The push for the playoffs can be more exciting than the playoff games themselves. Less hype with more excitement. But this is what every ball player wants - the chance for a shot at the championship. Anything can happen once a team reaches that first milestone. This is one of the great components of the American pastime. Only six weeks till Sunday. Let the games begin!
... This day in baseball history: 1902 Joe McGinnity of the National League's Baltimore Orioles is thrown out of the league for punching and spitting at an umpire. Due his popularity, 'Iron Man Mike' will be quickly reinstated; 1908 On the third try, Senator Gabby Street catches a ball thrown from the top of the Washington Monument. Scientists estimated the 555-foot drop the ball traveled had a force between 200 and 300 pounds; 1931 Babe Ruth becomes the first major leaguer to hit 600 career home runs as the Yankees defeat the Browns, 11-7; 1947 The first Little League World Series tourney is held at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. With a .625 team batting average, the hometown Maynard Midgets easily win the tournament, 16-7; 1986 Spike Owens becomes the first major leaguer in 40 years to score six runs in a game as the Red Sox rout the Indians, 24-5.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The LA Angels are a bunch of crooks.

If Orlando Cabrera steals a base, and nobody is in Angel Stadium of Anaheim (that is the name this week, isn't it?), does anybody hear it? Someday that will be explained to me. OC, who had 15 steals coming into the 8/19 game against the Red Sox, had been caught stealing just twice this year. In his career, he has 112 SB's and has been caught 32 times, good for a 77% success rate. He led off the bottom of the 8th with a single. Erstad popped out to Edgar Renteria. Mike Timlin was now on the mound for the Sox and paid no attention to the speedy Cabrera, who promptly stole second base. Manager Frito Francona intentionally walked Vlad Guerrero. This move would come back to haunt the tired looking Francona. Before you could say "hey, these guys are stealing bases", OC & Vlad successfully completed a double steal, ending up on 2nd and 3rd. The Boston defense looked mildly surprised as the runners didn't even draw a throw from All-Star catcher and Sox captain Jason Varitek. Although I am not a professional MLB manager or coach, nor do I have pipe dreams of being as such, I was pretty aware that stolen bases were in order. The Angels are 2nd in SB's in MLB, just one behind the mighty Mets. Why, oh why, didn't the baserunners draw any attention from the pitcher, catcher, and more importantly, the coaching staff of the Sox? Didn't Frito Lay Francona know that the Angels love to run the bases? Didn't he get the slightest inkling that this might be a remote possibility? What was going through his head after walking Guerrero? No signs from the dugout. No attention from the Sox battery. Double steal, base hit, game tied. Oh why, oh why didn't Tito properly react? To his credit, the Sox did come back to win it in the 10th, and Francona was let off the hook. Imagine the reaction if they had lost the game? In some circles, my view of Terry Francona appears negative. The human tendency leans towards negativity. I can't help it! I am just a concerned fan with forward thinking. Will Boston win the AL East? Will the Yankee's win it? Will the Sox even make the playoff's? No one can answer these questions, and with Francona at the helm, the answers lean towards the negative. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Friday, August 19, 2005

I am a fan, that's what I am.

I consider myself a true baseball fan, a definite Red Sox fan. I catch almost every game on tv. I listen to spring training games on the radio or I have been to most of the Opening Day Sox games since I was 12. (It's getting tougher to get tickets since the 'wine & cheese' crowd have taken the good seats - the Sox are 'in'.). During Thursday nights game against the LA Angels, I had a decision to make. Should I begin yelling at the game on tv (again)? Or should I change the channel and not wake up the kids? It was a west coast game, it was late. I changed the channel for the first time this year, and hopefully the last. What could make such a diehard fan do such an despicable act? Consider this. Manny Ramirez and Edgar Renteria collectively earn 30 MILLION dollars this year. In the same inning, both failed to bend over to stop balls on the grass. This resulted in two errors, extra outs for the Angels, and a very bad loss for the team, the Red Sox team. Renteria couldn't bend over to catch a ball thrown by Mirabelli in an attempt to throw out the would be base stealer Orlando Cabrera. The ball went under his glove, resulting in a two base error. Later in the same inning, Ramirez couldn't bend over to stop a ball coming straight at him. It rolled all the way to the fence, resulting in another 2 base error. The inning continued, the Sox lost 13-4. I refuse to watch this much money play with so little heart and desire, will & determination. Yes, I turned off the game. I have to admit that I turned it back a couple times just to get an update on Tim Wakefield, who left the game after taking a line drive off his ankle. He is fine. The Sox are still in first place. I don't' know how, but they are. Frito Tito Francona turned his head like nothing happened. A lot of coaches would have benched these two for such lack of effort in the field. Alan Trammel did this same thing a couple games ago. I couldn't yell this late in the evening. I couldn't scare the dogs this late in the evening. The good news is that it counts as one game in the standings. We live to play another day. For how long, who knows? If the fielding continues like this, Renteria and Ramirez will be watching the post season on their respective couches.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Millar is the man!

It is well documented that Kevin Millar is having his struggles this year, both offensively and defensively. He is in a well publicized home run drought, not going yard since early June. This is amazing since he is a player who has earned his living with his offense. A troubling stat is how he performs with a runner on second base. Before the All-Star break, Kevin hit .083 with 2 HR's and 3 RBI's, half his current home run total. He has heated it up a bit after the All-Star break hitting .375 to date, with 3 RBI's. With runners on second and third, the numbers get even uglier. Before the All-Star break, Kevin had 10 AB's. He had just 3 RBI's and batted a woeful .100. After the break, he is .000. Whoa. Also, when there are two outs in the inning, Millar is hitting just .143 since the break.

I am a big Millar fan, but his prolonged slump, as well as his fielding woe's, have shortened my patience. Sitting down for a good week might do the job, as well as bolster his chances of landing a contract for 2005, since he in the final year of the 3 year contract. He does have the ability to carry a ballclub when he's hot, but that has yet to happen. Perhaps he is on the cusp of attaining a sore back? Carry us Kevin, carry us to the playoff's and to the promised land once again!!!