This is not an X-rated blog, so if you want the whole story behind this:
then you will have to go here. Rumor has it that right after this pic was snapped, Joe was heard to scream, "I WAS IN THE POOL!!!!!!"
Precious memories, sacred scenes unfold...
Most of us have been watching the floods out in the midwest with detached interest and empathy...man, it must stink to lose everything you've worked your whole life for, and in an instant. but every now and then we get a story that brings things a little closer to home. Baseball fans the country should be mourning the loss of history that went down with Art Pennington's house:
His skin color cost Pennington a shot at the major leagues as a young man. He flourished instead in the Negro, Cuban, Mexican and Venezuelan leagues in the 1940s and, when baseball in America finally opened the door to blacks, in minor leagues across the country.
Six decades later, the water came and carried off nearly every bit of proof that Pennington was the equal of just about anybody who played anywhere he went.
Newspaper clippings, programs, autographed photos from Mickey Mantle, Sal Maglie and a dozen other big leaguers who assured him he would play alongside them someday, scrapbooks that gave his living room the look and feel of a baseball museum.
Not only did we lose the historical articles in Mr. Pennington's house, we also lost part of our own national heritage...the part we don't like to talk about and the part that privileged people like to deny exists...the part that is reflected in the ubiquitous presence of the Confederate flag in the back window of pickups registered south of the Mason-Dixon and even over some state capitals (it's display should be grounds for treason in my book-it is, after all, the symbol of an attempted uprising against a sovereign nation for the purposes of enslaving human beings-but I digress)...the part reflected in polls suggesting that three out of 10 Americans will admit to racial bias, meaning there's a whole lot more out there...the part that means that Mr. Pennington, not that long ago and within the living memory of many Americans, was not allowed to play baseball in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field or the Polo Grounds. As far as I'm concerned, that can't be allowed to fade from our national consciousness, and the loss of Mr. Pennington's priceless collection needs to be mourned by Americans everywhere, whether or not they love baseball. A little part of our national conscience went down the river with those photos and scrapbooks.
In happier news, it appears that Dice-K is, in fact, on the mend, that perhaps he was just brought back from the DL a start too early last weekend. Five innings, two hits, no runs...you can't ask for more than that, really. Hideki Okajima, however, is rapidly pitching himself into Mike Timlin territory, which is depressing, because I really like him. I hope he can turn it around soon.
J.D. Drew is going to his first ASG, mark my words. He won't win the fan voting-Manny Ramirez, I think, is the current leader in the outfield-but I can't imagine that Terry Francona won't reward him for stepping up so big with Papi down. Besides, he's earned it on his own merits. He's been huge this month.
I just heard this, even though it's a few days old...
In a Sports Illustrated survey of 495 Major League Baseball players in its June 23 issue, Jeter was voted the most overrated with 10% of the vote. Struggling Giants lefthander Barry Zito was second at 9%, while Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew were tied for third with 7%. Mets third baseman David Wright and Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis tied for fourth at 4%.
That brings a smile to my face, because I've been saying that since, well, probably 1996. It isn't that Jeter is a bad player (although I've never considered him a first-tier shortstop-how many times have you heard "past a diving Jeter" as opposed to "caught by a diving Jeter?" And nowadays, at age 34, he doesn't even bother to dive most times) it's just that in nauseating Yankee style, he's been elevated to a status far beyond what his on-field performance merits. I'm not saying he's not a HOFer, or a great postseason performer-he's just not the Second Coming, which is what Yankee fans would have you believe and what makes non-Yankee fans (most ML ballplayers) focus on his shortcomings. Thus, "most overrated." Before this season, I would have said they were correct about J.D. Drew as well, a guy for whom the word "potential" was conceived. But Youk? My guess there is that's a reflection of the fact that perhaps he isn't very popular in his own circles, as Manny can attest.
Game 2, Lester vs sub-.500 Bahke. here's hoping Jon can continue his June resurgence, and that the Sox don't really, really need Coco for anything.
The Pats are the odds-on favorites to win it all next year, currently at 5-2 odds.
The Giants are 12-1.
I'm just sayin'.
Oh, and Bill? I want the videotape of that ignorant prick Strahan played on a loop before EACH AND EVERY GAME next season. Got it? Good.
And Tom? Flash a little bit of that legendary discipline, would you? Why don't you put this up in YOUR clubhouse, so your players know that, yes, it's possible to show a little class and respect after a big win, even if your first name is Michael:
In case you slept through yesterday, Tom Brady made a visit to New York and was photographed wearing a walking boot on his right foot. (It was prominently circled in red by the morons at the NY Post, who were probably paying deference to the fact that most of their reading audience doesn't know their right from their left.) Anyway, to say it ruined my morning and the morning of my loved ones is an understatement of epic proportions. In between trips running to the bathroom to throw up blood, I got calls from both my mother AND brother, saying, "Did you hear about Brady's foot!?!" I would have preferred to begin the morning with a subpoena and a broken tooth. Thankfully, Tom Terrific showed up later walking tall in pointy-toed cowboy boots, probably hoping to stave off a mass suicide of New Englanders.
Anyway, during all this I had a flashback to a similar episode a lot of people won't even remember unless they were diehard Sox fans back in 1986, the year Roger Clemens really arrived. Yes, I know I can't speak of him now without spitting nails, but this was back in the day before he became a bloated caricature of himself and a national punchline. He was 23, young and slim (really!) and we were going to ride that golden arm to the promised land. He was absolutely amazing to watch, and had as dominating a year as I have ever seen before or since. So what happened? It's funny, because I really couldn't find any web references to it, and I had to go to my Red Sox Century book to refresh myself on the details, although I remember the emotion like it was yesterday. It was almost the last regular season game of the year, the Sox were playing the Orioles, and Clemens was on the mound. Second inning-whap! Clemens gets nailed in the elbow by a line drive off the bat of John Stefaro. Gave us all-and I mean the entire states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and half of Connecticut-a collective heart attack. We couldn't've been more panicked if Godzilla had been strolling through town. I was in agony-THE PLAYOFFS WERE ONLY A COUPLE DAYS AWAY, AND OUR BEST PITCHER MAY BE OUT!!!!! (It didn't help matters any that the Sox FO then threw it in Clemens' face, saying-on the eve of the playoffs, mind you-that they wouldn't give him more than a two-year contract because of concerns about the injury.) X-rays were negative, and Clemens did pitch in the postseason...but he really was nowhere near the pitcher in the playoffs that he had been during the season, although how much can be put down to the elbow injury, overuse during the season (he threw ten complete games that year) or just him being pissed off at Gorman is hard to say.
So, yes...I saw all of that within seconds of seeing the boot on Brady's foot yesterday, most glaringly the part about the dropoff in performance that came after being hit...are Tom's cowboy boots the equivalent of Roger's clear X-ray...? But Tom said he was going to be all right. Tom's dad said he was going to be all right. Every orthopedist in Boston has weighed in on this, and they all think he is going to be all right. There are absolutely no parallels between an injury to the star pitcher 21 years ago just before the World Series-and the worst championship loss in Boston's history-and an injury to the star quarterback just before the Super Bowl, right?
From a 1978 Time article about my all-time favorite Red Sox player, James Edward Rice:
But it is power, lean-muscled, quick-wristed power, that stirs excitement when Jim Rice comes to the plate. In Fenway Park, where the fans have a connoisseur's appreciation of the slugger's art, the cheers begin when he strides to the on-deck circle. Rice has sparked Boston to its best start since 1946, when Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio returned from World War II to win the first Red Sox pennant in almost three decades. Says one Sox fan: "They can be down six runs in the ninth inning, but if Rice still has a chance to bat, nobody leaves."
What crowds wait to see is one of the smoothest righthanded swings in recent baseball memory. With his bat held letter high and his head arched over a cocked shoulder, Rice explodes with a compact swing. Says he: "My strength comes from my wrists and legs. But then I bring my left shoulder back so that, all my momentum jumps out to the ball. It's like a rattlesnake —he coils and then he springs out." Rice springs eternal: his force is lethal to pitchers, who admit that the rattlesnake swing is the most formidable in the big leagues.
This is Jim Rice's 14th year on the ballot, one removed from his last chance to be elected before he goes to the Veterans' Committee. There is no one in baseball I have more respect and affection for than Jim Ed, the man most responsible for sucking me wonderfully and inexorably into Red Sox Nation, a place from whence I have never looked back and from whence I will never return. That regal bearing, that beautiful compact swing, that sense of the moment...not to mention that drop-dead gorgeous face and smile (he still fills out a suit pretty nicely!) At 14, I was completely enamored of him. At 44, I still am.
Jim Rice is worthy of enshrinement. Has been from Day One. It's more than annoying than marginal guys who played a long time (like Gary Carter) have plaques and Rice still sits on the outside, looking in. Consider the following, from mlb.com:
Rice's 382 homers and 1,451 RBIs were tops among all American League hitters during his 16 years. Furthermore, Rice topped 20 homers 11 times, 100 RBIs eight times, was an All-Star eight times, hit .300 in seven seasons and he finished in the top five in the AL MVP voting six times. Also, Rice hit 39-plus homers four times, the most of anyone who played during his time period.
Rice, who hit for average and power, and to all fields, was a dominant slugger.
Clearly, the thing that has held Rice back thus far in his quest for Cooperstown is the longevity stats. The home runs are just shy of 400. The hits (2,452) are a few seasons short of 3,000. And, oh, the batting average. If only Rice hadn't taken a free fall in his final three seasons, that .298 career average would have been well over .300.
But what means more? Longevity or dominance?
Remember, there are a lot of players who didn't play a long time but whose dominance has garnered them HOF credentials, and not just in baseball. Sandy Koufax, for example. Jim Brown. But maybe they were nicer to reporters.
Besides, the story of Jim Rice's time in Boston is powerful, especially if you ever read Shut Out, which I highly recommend you do. Sports writing is fine, but I always find myself much more drawn to the human stories in the game, of which baseball provides a plethora. Jim Rice's journey is one of the most compelling baseball human interest stories ever.
He belongs in the Hall, especially as his career is considered in the light of Bonds and MacGwire and Canseco. Jerry Remy said it best: “There’s got to be a place for him in Cooperstown. People have to understand what he was.”
Let's hope this time, finally, those with a vote did understand it.
(Photo lifted from nice story on Rice's hall chances on SI.com)
Although 9/11 is remembered as a day of tragedy and fear, all of RSN remembers 10/11 in a much more positive light. For it was 10/11/99 that one of the most epic games in post season history was played in Jacobs Field, Cleveland. Pedro was originally shelved as being too injured to pitch, and Bret Saberhagen was sent in his stead. Didn't work out as well as one might have hoped, and the Sox were already down 5-2 before the third inning. Troy O'Leary (I always liked him!) pulled a Manny after Nomar was intentionally walked, loading the bases-it was one of two pivotal shots he would hit in the game, both after Nomar was intentionally walked to get to him (like he was saying, eff you, Mike Hargrove...)
But of course, the story and now the legend was the night of Pedro Martinez, who practically crawled out of the pen to pitch six innings of shutout ball, earning the win but nearly dying in the process.
The loser? None other than Paul Shuey, who on August 22 of this year allowed nine runs in two innings in that infamous 30-3 Orioles loss to the Rangers this year.
So, we plan to square off once again tomorrow, and you know the Indians are dying to return the favor. Let's hope it doesn't take another Pedro-and-O'Leary-esque performance to stave them off this year!
Dan Shaughnessy wrote a nice tribute yesterday to longtime Globe sportswriter Larry Whiteside, who died Friday at the age of 69, apparently after a battle with Parkinson's disease. Now, unlike many Boston sports fans, I don't live and die with the words of local sportswriters (you know, the fans who profess to detest a guy like Shaughnessy but can quote his column verbatim every day), so I'm not terribly familiar with Whiteside's day to day contributions, although I've certainly read him often over the years. But he was featured prominently in a favorite read of mine, Howard Bryant's Shut Out, as a pioneer in sports journalism for African-Americans, a guy who took the heat and stayed in the kitchen for more than 30 years. I smiled at Shaughnessy's mention that Jim Rice was asking about Whiteside-according to Bryant, the two of them went toe-to-toe on occasion and got physically aggressive with each other at least once. But ultimately, respect won the day. Even the equally surly Roger Clemens held Whiteside in esteem, saying,"That's kind of shocking. I'm sad to hear that. They're good people there, guys that followed me when I was young in my career. ... Larry, he was always good to me."
In another vein, it's interesting to note, in a culture that frequently denies there's any vestiges of racial inequity left, that Whiteside died at age 69. That is actually almost exactly the life expectancy for men of color in this country, a staggering eight years less than the overall American life expectancy of 77.6 years. The illness that killed Larry Whiteside, for example-Parkinson's, a nasty disease to hit anybody-has been demonstrated to affect proportionately more African-Americans than whites and to kill them more often when they do get it.
The world has lost a good and interesting man. RIP, Larry. You'll be missed.
(AP Photo/The Boston Globe)
The news is not all dreary today. The sun is shining, as old friend Dave Roberts makes his way back to Fenway tonight as a member of the San Francisco Giants. There's no doubt his presence will bring down the house and energize the crowd, and Terry Francona had this to say about the upcoming moment:
"People here really took to Dave, and I'm sure he'll get a big welcome (tonight). I hope he gets an ovation, then pops up and sits down. But we'll never forget that he was involved in such an exciting baseball moment. Typical of him. He came here and handled the role he was given. We told him to stay ready, and he sure did."
In case anyone needs to be reminded, it was Dave's role in this:
that led directly to this:
Thanks to that moment, as Rick said to Ilsa, we'll always have Paris. I, for one, will be standing and applauding in my living room, right along with the Fenway crowd.
Welcome back, Dave.