What would it cost to get this guy in a Red Sox uniform? Because whatever it is, I'll pay it. C'mon, Cards, everybody has their price. What do you want? Buchholz? Lester? Youkilis? All three? A black market kidney? A ticket to the Mir space station? Fine. I'll pay it, we'll work out the details later. Just sign here, son, and your #21 will be ready and waiting for you.
It is a privilege to be in the generation of fans that can say we saw you in your prime. Congratulations, Prince Albert.
(And btw, I would love to know which writer gave Yunel Escobar a fifth-place vote.)
The Sox had an off day yesterday. Let's hope they used it to do something productive. I mean do something more productive than reminisce fondly about May, when they were actually a really good team in the American League.
Not so much anymore. They are 12-17 since the All Star break. While they have looked good in short bursts-their 3/4 stretch vs Detroit, for example, or that inspired ninth inning in Texas-for the most part they are playing as if they were pack mules weighted down with lead climbing Mt. Everest. It is now mid August. Despite all the assurances of Terry Francona in April and May, it is clear the old David Ortiz is not going to show up, probably never again. Neither, to any degree, is the old Jason Varitek-although in actuality he exited the building a couple seasons ago, his downward spiral into Marc Sullivan territory has still been impressive. Jason Bay has improved of late, but it is hard to say if it can make up for his two and a half solid months of breathtaking, lifealtering suckitude. J.D. Drew is simply fourteen million dollars worth of china doll useless (and if I hear another announcer squawk about how well he performed in June of 2008 I am going to hurl). There are *two* real starters on this team (Beckett and Lester and please, dear God, three days of rain). There hasn't beem a decent SS since the Clinton era, although you can probably count on AGon not to turn the position into the Chuck Knoblauch Comedy Hour the way Nick Green has. Theo, you can make a roster move a day, make five of them if you want, but you are just not going to find Mark Teixeira-probably not even Orlando Cabrera-on the scrap heap. This is *not* The Old Country Buffet. You cannot make up for poor quality with variety.
So, what's next? The Sox are seven games back in the division (imagine where they would be if they hadn't taken the first eight games from the Yanks!) and a game back in the wild card, and it doesn't get any easier going forward. The Sox start a three-game set at the Rogers Centre tonight, in recent years a surer death trap for Red Sox teams than the La Brea tar pits. There is a glimmer of hope tonight because Beckett is starting, but history indicates he's going to need to throw a no-hitter if he wants to notch another W., but all in all the upcoming stretch has .460 written all over it. Mr. Intensity himself, Kevin Youkilis, is back tonight. Maybe that will help.
And maybe someone just needs to put a glove in ARod's face again.
Fans point out that 2004 was not much different than this, that that team also played like shit pretty much up until late August, when they caught fire, cut the Yanks' 10-game lead to two, and then went on to make history. There is a real difference, I think, is in the makeup of the two teams. While Josh Beckett is currently playing the part of Curt Schilling, no one is playing the part of David Ortiz, the two guys from 2004 who made it their personal mission to put the team on their backs and carry it if they had to. Nobody except Beckett is doing that right now. And there is nobody in the lineup, even when operating at top speed, who gives you what Manny Ramirez gave you. Even when he was in a slide, his mere presence gave pitchers and managers pause. There is just nobody who fills those shoes anymore.
Bottom line? The playoffs will be an uphill slog, and the team needs to play with more inspiration than they have all year. For starters, it would help if they could actually throw out a basestealer.
But you have to start the comeback somewhere, and it might as well be with a win tonight. Beckett vs. Romero, 7:07pm, Rogers Centre. Be there.
The New York Times seems to be suffering a few pangs of guilt for it's role in publishing names on "the list" that were supposed to remain anonymous, and has been running an interesting series of op-eds on the ongoing steroid saga and what it actually means to baseball.
First, there is Tyler Kepner...
Perhaps it means that if an asterisk sticks to one group of champions, it could also apply to all. And if every great team of an era has an asterisk, what is the point of the asterisk, anyway?
Then, there is Charles McGrath...
...“cheating,” like it or not, has always been a part of baseball — before there were syringes there were amphetamines, or “greenies,” and bats that were corked — and that for the Boston faithful it makes little sense to dwell in the past or don sackcloth and pack up the World Series banners. We fans deserve them, even if the players don’t. And whom should we send them to, anyway? The Yankees? Don’t think so.
Good points all, and ones I made far before I knew Ortiz tested positive for steroids. If nothing else, these revelations have made one acutely aware of the beam that is in thine own eye. Yes, Roger Clemens is an ungrateful, arrogant, miserable, lying fuck; and yes, ARod is practically made of celluloid. They are worthy of scorn on their assholiness alone. But the basic difference in their doping crimes and oriz and Manny's is only a matter of degree. Clemens' long history of drug use is well chronicled by the Daily News crew; and given his recent suspension for PEDs, it's safe to assume Manny just found a way to beat the system for six years. It's less clear, however, whether or not ARod or Ortiz was using past 2003, and without a Brian McNamee or Jeff Novitsky in the wings to spill the beans, we may never really know. But in the end, does it matter? With a confirmed asterisk on every roster of nearly every team over the past two decades, does it really matter?
Baseball has become essentially a WWE event, and I suppose needs to be assessed in that context. So, the new line for Sox fans? Even with their perennial golden boy ARod and probably more than half their roster doping, the PED-fueled Yanks still couldn't beat the PED-fueled Sox. At least the doped Red Sox performed when called upon to do so. The Yankees suck even while doping.
From a player's perspective, we get Doug Glanville...
The tests were contingent on some semblance of confidentiality. No player in the game would have ever agreed to a collectively bargained drug policy if they had been told beforehand that the results would end up in the public domain. Sure, if the government found a way to bypass that, then we would have had to comply, but instead we got this chronic leaking of confidential and anonymous information after five years, with only selective players being “outed.” Kind of shady. Well, if this is for such a good cause, then why the negative approach? Why pick and chose who gets the center square stockade? How about we start leaking the names of the other 1000 players that didn’t test positive? That would be nice change of pace, but whoever is leaking this information isn’t playing nice, at all.
He's got a point, but from the public's perspective, this is really a red herring in my opinion. Stuff leaks all the time-just ask any occupant of the White House. (The Nixon administration even had a name for guys it employed to stop leaks-"plumbers".) The fact that the union didn't properly cover it's ass in this case is not really a fan's issue, especially when one considers the MLBPA viciously fought steroid testing for more than a decade. Now, I agree that Manny and Papi and ARod and the Player's Association should be pissed off, and as a union supporter in general, I agree that there are ramifications here that could reach beyond baseball. But that's a separate issue. As a fan, I don't care about who leaked or why. It doesn't matter. What difference does an agenda make to the facts of the case? I think people are focusing on that to deflect from the fact that this is really, really painful and they are looking for someone else besides their favorite player to be angry at. Right now they are angry that they know the information, not the information itself.
I am down from the ledge. I love my team and am just as entitled to the '04/'07 championships as any Yankee fan is to their steroid-soaked '96/'98-'00 ones. I hope Mark Teixiera is correct when he says that this post-90s generation of ballplayers is coming up clean, but he has a bit of a watermelon head himself so I am skeptical. I think it will take more than the change of millenium to totally clean baseball up.
"She chosed baseball for me. I guess Mom do knows best." -- Rickey Henderson, during his HOF induction speech today.
Good thing you were quick, Rickey.
1. I am spending my day doing one of the things that makes me happiest of all-marinating in baseball. Watch the Red Sox win in the early afternoon, listen to the Yankees currently losing in the late afternoon, and tonight I'll watch the Cubs and Cards without having a horse in the race. In between I'll take the pooch for a walk and listen to mindless sports talk. Yes, tomorrow I will probably go straight back to my regular news-obsessed, neocon-hating self, but for just today I am in baseball bliss.
2. Speaking of neocon hating, did you see who is throwing out the first pitch at the All Star Game? None other than President Barack Obama. Did you see who will be catching that ball? Likely 2009 MVP and Triple Crown contender Albert Pujols. You gotta know, the combination of the black president and the Latino first baseman taking center stage at baseball's annual society ball is going to be driving some people insane. Gulp. I just hope they have tons of tight security at Busch Stadium...
3. Watching Tim Wakefield talk about how grateful and humbled he is to be going to the All Star Game makes me realize what complete jerks some of these guys are who are looking for any reason they can to avoid going (yeah, Manny, I'm looking at you, for one). They all should be down on their knees thanking their lucky stars for making them good at swinging a bat or throwing a ball instead of washing dishes, and they should be kissing the fans asses for continuing to support their dirty, drug-addled sport. And that means showing up to the All-Star Game every year you are selected without fail or excuse. Got it? Good.
4. John Smoltz must be wondering if every night he pitches is going to have to be a complete game in order to keep any semblance of order on the mound. Why does Manny Delcarmen suck all of a sudden? Or Justin Masterson? I am going to just take a breath and hope that there is nothing wrong with either of them that a good four days off won't cure.
5. Two out in the bottom of the ninth at Anaheim, Angels up by one, and who is up to the plate but the Steroid Boy Wonder himself. Walk him. Just walk him, and take your chances with Matsui...(jesus, a four-seamer right across the plate, what are you guys doing to me???) Ball...ball..SWINGING STRIKE!!!! NO HEROICS FOR AROID THIS TIME!!! ANGELS SWEEEEEEP, SOX UP THREE AT THE BREAK!!!! Seriously, between ALDSes and killing the Yankees, the Angels have given me some of the best baseball times of my life the past ten years. Give those men a Klondike bar.
6. Emotional halfway point of the season has the Sox in really, really good position, second only to the Dodgers in terms of record, Beckett and Lester looking like Spahn and Sain and Big Papi's power back, if not quite the average. Wooo-hoooo!!!! Bring on the second half!!!
(Pres Obama lifted from Rolling Stone)
Reactions are dropping like rain...
"If you love baseball, Manny MUST GO. Until they make a big public example of a destroyed career, steroids are here to stay. As long as you know you get a mulligan for a first offense, it is still worth the risk."-a rather shrill and self-righteous Brian Ross, acting as though this were the first he'd heard about it.
"Will Ramirez, now busted, act more like his baseball age? Or will he continue to be a hitting savant bucking the trend of baseball skewing younger? We just don't know, in part because even with a failed test, we don't know the extent of Ramirez's PED use. On Friday night, and for the foreseeable future, most people didn't care, either."-Tom Verducci
"Because Ramirez* is more cuddly than Barry Bonds*, or more goofy than Roger Clemens*, or less intimidating than Mark McGwire*, it's as if he's being graded on the curve. And that is disgraceful"-Scott Miller, who is also apparently on the verge of a breakdown
"Manny Ramirez is yesterday's boos. He's a sure sign of society's steroid fatigue and baggy-pants proof of Karl Marx's postulate that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce."-Tim Sullivan
If Manny's return to cheers and well-wishes drives you stark staring insane, then all I have to say is...find another hobby, dudes. I've been watching this saga unfold for nearly a dozen years now, and the fact of the matter is, the average fan doesn't care. No more than they ever cared about Bill and Monica despite the shrill moralizing and name-calling from others who should've known better. As long as they are being taken care of and their team is winning, they don't care. Sure, it's fun to be able to look at a hated rival and say their team is "tainted" when a big name is caught using, all the while knowing your team is just as bad and maybe worse. And, yeah, it's really fun to watch the house of cards come crashing down around some of the biggest pricks on the planet, guys digging their own graves with their intransigence who just don't get that all would have been forgiven had they just said, ala Andy Pettitte, "ooops, whoopsie, my bad," and moved on. Or cultivated an image of sainthood like Lance Armstrong. It's the arrogance and the insults to our intelligence after you've been caught that pisses us off, not the fact that you've been using.
You know why that is? Because the average fan has a job he is insecure about, two kids that drive him crazy, a boss he hates, a wife who nags and probably twenty years to retirement. He knows the deck is way stacked against him and that many others are playing by unfair rules in games which affect him far more directly than does some juicer's, like the guy who sold him the ARM or drained his pension account. Baseball is an escape; it's secondary. Yes, he'd prefer a clean game, but it's just not that important in the grand scheme of things. He respects Andy Pettitte and even enjoys watching that goofy Manny Ramirez. He thinks, hey, Manny's right-he didn't rape or murder anybody, and for $25 mil, our average fan might just shoot up, too.
I found this telling statement from a brutally honest blogger that absolutely nails that average fan"s feeling...
All this talk about the sanctity of the game, of the history of the baseball, of the stats - total garbage to me. I care about watching the game, and seeing amazing things being done that I've never seen done before. I care about the most incredible season I'll probably ever see, a .370 with 46 HR season in which a man was walked 198 times. Most on purpose. This after a 73 home run season. Two years after that, a 232 BBs season, with a .362 BA and 45 HRs in 373 official ABs. 4 straight MVPs, and only teammate Jeff Kent's MVP in 2000 preventing Bonds from 5 straight.
He'll never win another award in all likelihood, but his career will go down as the greatest career we've seen since Babe Ruth. And they might try to add an asterisk to it like they did to Roger Maris, but someday that asterick and those haters will be gone, just like the Maris haters all disappeared, and all that will be left is the amazing numbers. That's the beauty of the baseball - it's numbers.
And I'm glad I'll be able to say that I saw it all, instead of say how great he would have been if he didn't get injured.
So, folks, baseball police and purists-if you're waiting for us to turn our backs and force the game into submission through our indignation and wounded sense of fairness, well, it appears you've got a long wait coming. It may not be fair, it may not be right...but it is what it is. In the overall scheme of life, fans just dig the long ball.
I think that's going to be my new name for this team. Jon Lester has justifiably borne the brunt of this mantle thus far, but this is something Tim Wakefield has always been prone to, as he reminded us with a five-run meltdown in the fifth last night before being out out of his-and-our-misery with two out. No starter has been immune, although Beckett is showing glimmers of old lately and Brad Penny is becoming a serviceable fifth starter, actually one of the more reliable guys as of late. Of course, it would be more than helpful if the bats could actually produce some runs on the road as well. Drew has yet to be an enormous upgrade over Ortiz in the three-spot, and I don't recall the last solid two-out RBI I saw. The only really bright spot on this trip has been Ellsbury, who snapped a 22-game hit streak Thursday and started another one on Friday. but the boy can't carry the entire offense by himself.
Second place right now, half game behind the Skanks. It's kind of scary to think that a big reason the Sox are even in the position they are is because of Jason Varitek's bat. He can't possibly keep this pace up all season, can he (the past being the best predictor of the future)? And what about Mike Lowell? Guy's hitting well (well, nobody is hitting well on this road trip, but overall), but he looks like the 2,000-year-old man when he's on the basepaths. I can't imagine he's not going to need some time off when things really start to heat up later on in the summer, which meaqns Youk will have to go to third. Dear sweet Jesus, how many games am I going to have to suffer with Jeff Bailey and his .700 OPS in the lineup? I'd rather see Nick Green at first, and he can't even play a decent shortstop! Oy vey...No depth...while you may not always get what you pay for, it's even more rare that you get something for free. Oh, and by the way, Theo, Jason Bay is not going to be free. And the fact that the Yanks will have glaring outfield holes this off-season should not be a surprise come negotiation time. Prepare for it and budget accordingly.
Peggy Noonan said not too long ago that "some of life has to be mysterious", and she was right, of course. You don't need to know everything. You don't need to know what your parents did in your room while you were off that week at summer camp, for example. Or the ins and outs (literally) of a friend's colonoscopy. Or what your new boyfriend really thinks about your mother. Peggy, of course, is a complete fucking moron who was not talking about minor TMI stuff like this, but near drownings and sleep deprivation. But that doesn't make her general point any less valid.
I mention it because I just read an interview with Keith Foulke over on boston.com. Now, I would like to remember Foulke as nothing more than the guy who had an amazing 2004 season, who was on the mound when that final out was recorded, and who ended 86 long years in loser wilderness for the Red Sox. Do you think he would let me do that? Nah, had to throw it in my face just what a horse's ass he is. Doesn't care about anything. Rips on the minor league team that was kind enough to let him back into the game. Practically wears his assholeness as a badge of honor (I've never understood why people are proud of being jerks.) "Why do I always get in trouble with the fans for speaking my mind?" he asks. That's an easy one, Keith; it's mostly because you-like Schilling, whom you also take the time to dis-don't have a mind capable of converting to verbiage anything that's particularly pithy or otherwise worth hearing. (I'll never understand why people with nothing worthwhile to say think "speaking their mind" is such a virtue.) You have one talent, and it doesn't involve your mind, just your arm. That's all anybody really wants from you.
In Foulke's defense, he's not a complete snarling prick in this piece-he stands up for Manny Ramirez, which is more than any of the rest of that 2004 team who rode his golden bat to the promised land have done. He reminds us that he didn't take the money when he knew he couldn't play, which is more than a lot of ballplayers (including Curt Schilling) have done. He's an asshole, for sure, but at least he's a principled asshole. And that's gotta count for something.
Bottom line, despite the losing the congeniality crown, he has my everlasting gratitude and I wish him nothing but the best. Because everytime I think of him, I don't think of Johnny form Burger King, I think of this:
Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it-The Boston Red Sox are World Champions!
Too bad he couldn't be a hero and less of a jerk, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
A much better weekend. I approve.
Jon Lester, when he is on, is as good or better than anyone in the league, and that really is no exaggeration. Josh Beckett, however, is still considered the "ace" of the staff...but let's be honest here, folks. As good as Beckett has shown he is capable of being, he will never be Pedro-a dominating, intimidating presence, and that inconsistency leads to things like the four-run inning on Saturday. He's now 29 years old, in his tenth season in the bigs. I'm not sure we'll ever see another 2007 out of him.
We haven't missed much out of the cleanup spot-I expect to see dreadlocks and Spanish coming out of Youk any day now. What we have missed is production from the third spot. The top of the order is starting to warm up a little bit, but if Ortiz continues to whiff every time he goes up there, it won't matter much. Ellsbury can't steal home every time he gets on base. He needs someone to drive him in. Good karma to Papi, folks. He needs us.
Speaking of Manny-and we were, sort of-I have to say I was a bit surprised to see #24 on Takashi Saito yesterday. Yes, I know it's not new, I just hadn't noticed it before. Riddle me this, folks: Who accomplished more for the Red Sox during their tenure, Manny Ramirez or Roger Clemens? Who was the World Series MVP? They both left the team under ugly circumstances. So why is #21 still so jealously guarded like the tape of a Bush torture session, but #24 gets thrown out to the first schlub who gets a five-dollar contract? I'm not necessarily advocating holding on to #24, but I find the incongruity annoying. Number 21's luster faded many years ago, it's owner an exposed fraud and liar, not to mention a class A, #1, gold-plated asshole. It's time for the team-and the fans-to extend their arms, open their hands, and let it go. If we can wash our hands of Manny so quickly, we can surely do the same of Clemens.
Another thing that annoyed me this weekend? I was watching the Yankee/Cleveland game Saturday (if you can call it a game-it looks like the rest of the league is catching up to what the Red Sox have always known about Wang, that he sucks) and Joe and Tim were focusing on Nick Swisher, saying he couldn't be smiling out on the field while his team was getting absolutely murdered in their own park. For Christ's sake, why not? Did someone's dog die out there? Is he being forced to watch Doocy and Carlson on a loop? (Talk about torture...) This is baseball, guys. It isn't as serious as cancer. It's not the end of the world. Part of what makes guys like Swisher fun (and I like Swisher, although I liked him more with the White Sox and A's than I do the Yankees, for true) is their ability to hang loose and have a good time no matter what's going on around them. The fans were interacting with him, making their own fun in a horrible game they looked forward to seeing and paid too much for. Why rip on him for responding, even if just by smiling? Not everybody is Derek Jeter, Stepford Yankee. Lighten up, folks.
Patriots' Day, game starts in an hour. Lucky for me, I get the day off and can watch the game! Another great reason to be from Maine...
Let's go for the SWWWWEEEEEEEPPPPP!!!!!!