Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Damn Yankees

Misleading title, sorry. It should read "Damn Macha", but that just doesn't have the same ring. And, it doesn't have that unintentional 80's hair band reference going for it either. In any case.... I'm watching the A's-Yankees matchup, and I've been left slackjawed at the A's and their bullpen (mis)usage. Bottom of the 8th, Oakland replaces Tim Hudson with Jim Mecir. Hes scheduled to face Williams, A-rod, and Giambi. Here's the game log for what ensues:

Williams singled to right.
Rodriguez singled to left, Williams to second.
Giambi walked, Williams to third, Rodriguez to second.

With Sheffield due up and slow runners on first and third, I expect Macha to call Bradford from the pen. No dice. He leaves Mecir in. Carnage ensues:

Sheffield reached on an infield single, Williams scored, Rodriguez to third, Giambi to second.
Posada singled to left center, Rodriguez scored, Giambi to third, Sheffield to second.

Now, to Mecir's credit, he didn't get hit that hard. I just have to question why Bradford, the ground-ball specialist was left on the bench. Rincon gets the call. He walks Matsui and forces in a run, whiffs the immortal and terrible Tony Clark (yes I'm still bitter about his time on the Sox), and then gives up a pinch hit double to the immortal and terrible Ruben Sierra. And now for the final insult: Macha then gives the intentional pass to Jeter. Thats right - he intentionally walked a man mired in the worst slump of his career. Who, as he walked to the plate, was 0 for his last 28 I believe. It boggles the mind.

Still, Rincon was left on the mound. He gives up another run on a fielder's choice to Williams, and finally gets the hook for Bradford, who will face A-rod. He mercifully put an end to the inning on a weak pop fly to right. Oy. Vey.

This was an almost Grady-esque case of bullpen mismanagement. Half of me expected to see Chad Fox trot out of the gates in left-center and proceed to toss sliders at everything but the strike zone for as long as anyone was willing to watch him.

Twenty games in...

I apologize for my absence. No excuses. Lets get right into it.

We're almost 1/8th of the way through the 2004 season. It still seems a little bit early to start talking about which teams are good and which are terrible, but patterns have begun to emerge, and there certainly are quite a few interesting stories. I'm going to ignore the Yankees story for now - the mainstream media has covered it amply, and theres not much I can add. Instead, I'll just rattle off some of the things that have really caught my attention.

The Sox bullpen - this is a complete 180 from the performance of the Sox bullpen during April 2003. People talk about how the Yankees used to shorten games, but this group is looking just as imposing through the first month.

Francisco Rodriguez - 18ks through 10.2 innings. Anyone with Extra Innings has seen him in action. Hes filthy.

Randy Johnson - Looked every bit hittable and human until his game against the Cubs on 4/26.

The Blue Jays Offense - MIA.

The Dodgers Offense - MI....wait. They got one. The first two months of DePodesta's tenure have quite a shine to them. The team is in first, and pulling away from an incredibly weak NL West.

Barry Bonds - this guy is ridiculous. Hes struck out swinging just 5 times (I think....), and hes batting 500.

Terrible Uniforms - I liked Toronto's uniform better when it was worn by the Devil Rays. Awful.

Mariners - I wasn't a big fan of the direction that Bill Bavasi took the club in his first offseason as GM, but even my most pessimistic appraisals of his performance wouldn't have thought the M's would be 6-12 through 18 games. I guess thats what happens when two of your three starters in the outfield are Randy Winn and Raul Ibanez, and you play your first 18 games primarily against the AL Mashers division.

The Big Three of the A's - Joe Sheehan of BP commented in his Prospectus Today column on 4/27 about the fact that the A's pitchers are striking out fewer batters and relying more and more on the defense behind them. He's gone on record to state that he believes the A's should trade Barry Zito. I'm gonna throw out my prediction of the year: Zito will be a Yankee before the trade deadline. I have no idea who the principals will be in the trade, but its just a gut feeling.

Uh...thats all I've got right now. More as it becomes available.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Cowboy Down, bitch.

But what accounts for this newfound willingness to reach out more publicly, to become Manny Ramirez, media go-to guy?

"You're welcome," Kevin Millar said to an inquisitor posing that very question.

It was Millar's way of saying he has encouraged Ramirez to step out.

This is a quick one because I do have to work today, but Millar needs to shut the hell up. I've grown very tired of his Dr. Intangibles act, especially considering that he seems to still be in his second half slump. If you want me to deal with your crap, hit like you did in the first half of last year. Hell, hit like you did your last season with the Marlins. Gah, I wish I didn't have that damn Millar shirt.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

SFFCI

Apparently the fan cost index has been released for this year, and Pappas has written a story on it. For those of you too lazy to read it, the highlights:

the FCI "tracks the cost of attendance for a family of four." This year, TMR says this hypothetical family's day at the ballpark would cost an average of $155.52. The price would range from $108.83 in Montreal to $263.09 in Boston.

TMR defines the FCI to include two average-priced adult tickets and two average-priced children's tickets--but also two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular hot dogs, two programs, two of the least expensive adult-sized adjustable caps, and parking for one car.


Pappas then goes on to discuss the flaws of the system and takes some alternate approaches. For your reading pleasure, here's my SFFCI (Super Fan Fenway Cost Index):

*1 outfield grandstand ticket, $25. I'd prefer to use bleachers, but since I couldn't get decent bleacher to more than a couple of games this year, I'm going with the most typical game for me. Service charges are excluded since I split up season tickets, but these can run pretty high (about $6 or so per ticket).
*2 pre-game beers at Copperfields, $10.
*1 pre-game sausage from the Sausage Guy, $5. After a relatively amusing trek up and down and back up Landsdowne, Derek and I were able to snag genuine Sausage Guy frequent buyer cards that had been ignorantly tossed on the sidewalk. That knocks the knockwurst down to $4 a pop, quite the deal when you consider that I'll probably eat close to 30 of them this season (current count 4).
*6 beers, $36. This is plus or minus 2, but I feel like 6 is probably average. I'm factoring in the new and improved $5.50 per beer Fenway price, and a $1 tip for each of the 3 trips to the beer line. They claim the beers are 18 oz this year. That doesn't seem to change my per game count. Sidenote: there is an opportunity cost here from missing the inevitable inning or so standing in the beer line. This has been left out of the calculations.
*Fenway Frank $4. This could just as easily be any other non-beer concession, but I decided to stick with the meat product theme. Peanuts, soft serve, cracker jacks, etc. All that shit just looks and smells damn tasty when you're at the park (and rapidly getting more wasted).
*Post-game sausage from the Sausage Guy, $5. See above. So good.
*Post-game bar cover, drinks, etc, N/A. I decided to leave this out of the calculation since it varies so much and doesn't happen every game.
*Post-game taxi, $10. I'm thinking $20 fare split 2 ways. Who wants to pack on to the T like cattle after drinking 6-10 beers and eating all that pork? Certainly not I.

Total SFFCI for 2004 is $95 per person per game. Ouch. Counting the games I've already been to, I have tickets for 17 games this year. I will now debate on my own time the wisdom of spending $1,615 on my own brand of "Fenway magic" this season. Play ball.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The 889, the weekend, the condolences.

First off I would like to offer my deepest sympathes to Colin's teams. 1 win is not good, especially when some of those losses mean that your hockey team gets eliminated. The bright side of all this is that while the Red Sox did go 3-1 against the Yankees this weekend, it's only April. The only thing I take from this weekend is that I know that once the Yankees start playing like they are going to and once the Sox get back to full strength, look the fuck out.

To all the people that predicted that the Orioles or the Jays might sneak in ahead of the Sox or Yankees, I think that you are sorely mistaken. If April is any indication, the AL East title goes through either Boston or New York this season. Hell, I might even throw in the Wild Card in there as well. To look at it objectively (i.e. not waving a fake Jeter head from a pike), the Yankees troubles should pretty much right themselves in time. This team has too many proven stars to fail. (The thinking that they might fail just for that reason is a whole other, non-fact based article) Regardless, Mike Mussina will not pitch this way for an entire season. While I think Javier Vazquez will not put up as good numbers as everyone is expecting, he's still better than he was against the Sox. A-rod is A-rod. Once he settles down and gets over his starry-eyes period, he should start putting up the numbers we've come to expect from him. Kevin Brown can still choke on a rage fueled dick and die, but I'll admit he's a good pitcher. The Yankees won't stay mediocre for long, so the Red Sox fans better enjoy it while it lasts. It ain't going to be *that* easy this season.

To toot a little Red Sox horn for a second, I'm really pleased with the results of this weekend. I mean honestly, with Nomar, Trot and Kim out, no one could have predicted this first series would have come out the way it did. Coming out 3-1 against the premiere team in your league (albeit in April) with out your starting shortstop, right fielder, and fifth starter is pretty good. Note to the Sox management: Do not let Derek Lowe pitch on 10 days rest again. Ever. Never ever ever. Also, I'm a bit concerned that I've seen Keith Foulke in 8 out of 12 games already. I know the guy is durable, but come on, this isn't the 1930's. "I saw Keith Foulke start game one of a double header and close out the second, on his way to appearing in over 140 games this season. He also threw batting practice on his off days." It's a marathon not a sprint. Hopefully when Kim comes back they move Bronson to the bullpen. That should shore the pen up a bit and help make sure that I don't have to see Keith's radius and ulna fly out of his fingers on a pitch in October.

Bets part of the weekend: OMGWTF, Frank Castillo is warming up! It's so comforting to see him back with the Sox! Hahahahaha, just kidding. Fuck that douche bag.

Yes, I came up short on the 9-9-9. The reason: I sprinted. It was like I was 4 miles in to the Boston Marathon and I started running as fast as I could to the 3/4 mark. That's not a recipe for success. Death. Also, yes I *heart* PBR. In fact I would drink PBR over most beers out there due to a. it's price and b. it's delicious taste. Keep your $13.00 12 packs of Sam Adams. I'll spend $2 more and get a 30-pack of delicious PBR. Oh, and all you motherfuckers who claim that PBR was the hipster beer of choice last year can screw. Back when I first turned 21 I enjoyed 1.75 bottles of PBR at the Brendan Behan pub near my old apartment. PBR for legal life.

Two things about Jason Giambi: 1. I don't care, the BALCO chant makes me chuckle. (Start it for Sheffield too, you nimrods.) 2. Read any of Ted Williams' books so you can understand how beneficial it is to learn to beat the shift. Word to the wise; just trying to crush it over the shift is probably not the best strategy.

Dude, holy shit Corey Dillon! Yeah he's a dickhead. Yeah his comments about going to the Patriots leave much to be desired. "Everyone broke even!?!" You are going to fill one of the only holes on the reigning Super Bowl champs. I would say your ass just hit the jackpot. Whatever, this guy can run and immediately improves the Pats. The best part about this deal is that the Pats gave up very little to get him. They essentially drafted an NFL proven back in the second round. Crazy. So with the RB hole filled, they can now use their two first round picks as well as their 14,000 other picks to try and patch up the rest of the roster. This deal could end up being an even better move for the Patriots than it looks like right now. Which is pretty unfathomable because right now it looks pretty fucking good.

Cetics fever! Catch it. I just found out this weekend that they made the playoffs. Good thing I don't follow basketball.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Day 2

Over the course of the winter I had managed to forget the extent to which fantasy baseball drives me nuts. Yes, its only the first day of the season. What? Yeah fine - third day of the season. Whatever. The point is, I'm already scouring cbs sportsline every 5 minutes, checking on my players, complaining when they ground out weakly to second or "fly out hard" to left. I'm already tearing my hair out because Ozzie Guillen's first day with the ChiSox bullpen was like Arnold's first day teaching Kindergarten, because Jimy Williams is still trying to figure out how to put the square peg into the circle hole with his lineups, and because...well, because Matthew LeCroy can't get around on a 94mph heater right down the middle of the plate. God help me, its gonna be a long season.

Speaking of which, Dan Shaughnessy, aka the Curly Haired Boyfriend (lets all thank Carl Everett for that nickname) is already up to his usual shite (see here and here). Is it me, or does the CHB personify everything thats wrong with the Boston media? One game into the season, and hes already writing speculative stories about Pedro and his supposed attitude problems. I'm not the biggest fan in the world of Pedro as a person, but come on....this seems like a total rip job. Its pieces like this that drive the negativity and character assassination on sports talk radio, and its already worn out its welcome with this blogger.

Ouch!

It was a bad time to be an opening day starter in the AL East the past week. It seems like just about every big name pitcher got knocked around in our lovable division. Notice I said big name pitcher. Sindey Ponson is merely just big and Victor Zambrano would get more press if his first name was Carlos. Mike Mussina kicked it off half a world away by getting lit up by Tampa, Pedro followed with a shaky second inning, and Halladay is lucky he's playing in Canada during hockey playoff time. Candians don't remember they have a team until the Prime Minister has returned Don Cherry to his magical starch fort for a summer of pressing shirts.

I personally watched most of the Sox opener, save for a window where I tuned in to the Sopranos. Hey, it didn't look like it was going well and besides, Celeste needs to be impressed by Steve Buchemi's grasp of massage therapy terminology. Overall, I think it was a decent game as far as Game 1 of a season goes. The Pokey play to get Mora at third was incredible. That dude ran all the way from second on that short fly, and beat Mora there. At this point, if he can make a play like that a game, I'm comfortable with his .240-.250 in the 9 spot. Plus he gets pumped up about plays like that, which is entertaining. Speaking of Melvin Mora, he always looks like he's on the verge of tears. Everytime they show him it looks like someone off camera just told him that he has a brain tumor or that his wife is homosexual or something. Funny shit. Also note: I never realized how much of a bad mouth Tejada had. The mike caught him at least once saying "Goddammit" after an at-bat and I would bet on several occasions his Darren Lewis like mutterings contained all sorts of "fucks, and shits, and cock-snot bastards." That's what you call irony, folks. When I have children, they will not be allowed to watch such an offensive man because he will kill their souls. On an slighty related note: Remember when Darren Lewis "jump kicked" (I use the term loosely) Jaret Wright? That was hilarious.

So, when did the Bruins get so good? This doesn't mean I will watch them in the playoffs or anything. I'm just saying, um, yay hockey fans!

Here's my thoughts on the Bradley deal; fantasy wise: what the fuck! I have him in one of my leagues and I feel that a move to that lineup and that park is not the best thing for a guy I had pegged to have a really great, rage-filled, tantrum of a season. I know Colin shares my sentiment, as he had to drop him in the AL only league. Reality wise: I think it's a good deal for the Dodgers, if only because Dave Roberts should not be your starting CF. Seriously, not ever. Entertainment wise: Bradley in a shit lineup, with the only other threat being Shawn "My shoulder muscle looks like a tent flap" Green, in a pitcher's park, with a pitching staff that has Nomo as a number 1 starter, is going to make for some hilarious spats. The only way this season could get more entertaining for non-Dodger fans is if they hired Larry David and that prostitute to announce all the games while high.

Why do I not feel comfortable have Justin Speir as my only closer in the Francesca league? 1. I'm not even sure that I spelled his name correctly, and I don't feel he's even worth a fact-check. 2. I drafted like I had hooves. Right, right it's all clear now.

Peter Gammons released his predicitons for the upcoming season over the weekend. This means that you should go down that list and immediately drop any player he says will have a big year because they have just received the mark of death. For someone who has such in depth knowledge and access to every team, you'd think he'd have a bit more success picking winners. Thanks for the hot tip last year on Kyle Loshe, you douche. Taking him with a high pick really came through gangbusters for me. Of course I drafted him again this year. Why? Because I don't fucking listen.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Opening Day?

Well, I guess I'll take this opportunity to introduce myself and write a little about opening day. Red Sox opening day that is. Not Yankees opening day, or the rest of MLB opening day, wait, I'm confused, I'll just write about the last night's Red Sox game. So here it goes. First off, I'm pretty much just a random stranger who happens to work with Derek and watch alot of baseball. It's a pleasure to be a part of this collection of great sport minds and insightful columns.

Last night's game: alot of worries coming into last night amongst all the high expectations for this team. How would Pedro pitch? How would the Sox compensate for the losses of Nomar and Trot? But after all is said and done, I would say that yesterday's performance was relatively positive (for the most part). Pedro started out incredibly shaky. After seeing Ponson clocked at 97 (surprising everyone) and Pedro firing heat in the upper 80's, it looked as if old Pedro was gone and a new, less fearsome Pedro would be at the top of the Sox rotation. Pedro was hit hard by the bottom of the Baltimore lineup in the 2nd inning. But after getting fired up, hitting Segui and firing pitches at a couple Baltimore hitters, Pedro assumed his typical command and control and pitched well the rest of the way (up in the low 90's, a positive sign).

Other positives: Pokey played well, drawing two walks and playing stellar defense. Bellhorn's bat looked great, smacking an extra-base hit and good contact on several other at-bats. Kapler played well, with a couple hits. Manny looked his normal self, except for the fact that he ran down a short fly ball in left-center field. Everyone was surprised with that one. And I thought Williamson pitched well.

Overblown issues: (1) Timlin in the seventh. Aside from the walks, which are very un-Timlinlike and should elicit concern, Timlin was making some great pitches and just getting screwed. He pitched Tejada very well, jamming him into a little bloop single over Pokey. Then, playing that stupid shift on Palmeiro and making a great pitch down and away, can only result in a basehit in a weak groundball to short. Follow that up with the blown play in centerfield with Damon picking his ass and Kapler worried he might overrun the ball b/c he's too strong to play baseball, and Timlin just got the short end of the stick. (2) Pedro's outing: overall, Pedro pitched very well...the entire staff gave up a lot of shitty, end of the bat, soft hits. No big deal. (3) A Sox lack of hitting - the Sox got a lot of hits. Everyone looked pretty good, a nice fact considering that two of their best hitters are out all of April. No concerns here, Damon just needs to get on base.

Serious issues: (1) Millar at first. No questions, Millar is probably the worst player on the Red Sox. Going back to the 2nd half of last year, the guy does nothing at the plate. Even worse, he tries to do things in the field and fucks up. Pedro is still raring mad about the throw he made, that a good first basemen would have got. Similarly the throw Crespo made, an easy short-hop, botched by Millar. Get rid of him! (2) Strike-him-out, throw-him-out...remember the playoffs last year...enough said. (3) What's this shit about Pedro leaving early? Who does this guy think he is? He pitched a subpar game, his team lost, and he goes to pout.

What to take from all this...well, not much at all. It's game one of a 162 game season. I saw nothing here to make me think any less of this team's chances. I like how Francona is starting to sculpt his bullpen immediately (Timlin, Williamson, and Foulke) despite the negative reactions he might get to that. Remember the chaos and confusion last year. Also, I think I'll really like Pokey and Bellhorn. The two are very important over the next month and I hope they'll keep up their strong play.

Until next time.

My Sox are On (???)

Red sox started out with a pretty crap showing - some poor plays in the field, Grady Little Re-Dux on the basepaths and in the dugout (strike-em out throw-em out in the first), and a pretty average Pedro showing. Silver linings - Pokey drawing two walks, Bellhorn cracking a double, Ortiz et al making Ponson throw alot of pitches. Take away a few defensive blunders and cheap hits, and the game is a respectable 3-1, pitching-dominated performance. Not bad stuff.

I've invited a new blogger, Brian Harley. Perhaps he'll grace us with his first post later today??