Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Damn and tarnation

I came into this week with a choice. Be a vaguely normal human being, and wake up and sleep at normal times, making sure baseball does not become an unhealthily large aspect of my life. Or, be a gigantic nerd and wake up at 5 the past two days, getting a grand total of 4 hours of sleep since Monday morning. Having said that, here's the recaps of both games before I go collapse into bed and attempt to die for the next 8 hours.

Game 1

  • Derek Jeter's obviously not used to the leadoff position, as he not only went 0-5, he also looked horribly uncomfortable doing it, as if Mike Piazza had been visiting the clubhouse, squeezed his ass, and then said "Go get 'em tiger, I'll be waiting for you after you're done" right before he went up to bat.

  • A-Rod struck out looking twice, no one cared. A-Rod then doubles for his first official hit as a Yankee. The Comissioner of baseball (not A-Rod or anyone) decides "My God! We must save this ball for posterity! Who knows how many more people A-Rod's first Yankees-hit ball will bring to the baseball hall of fame!" Have I ever mentioned hating the Yankees on this page? Because I do.

  • A bunch of crap happens, Mike Mussina proves yet again that the reason he doesn't win 20 games isn't bad luck, he's just not very good anymore, several Yanks get hurt (Quantrill possibly seriously), and the Devil Rays beat the Yankees 8-3. This marks the first and only time in the history of mankind the Devil Rays will have sole possession of first place in the AL East.

    Game 2

    I actually woke up at 5 AM to watch this game, hoping the Yanks would begin the season 0-2. Let's just say Kevin Brown looked good and I was back asleep by 5:30.

    Now for some Sox news. Ugh.

    Nomar's on the DL to start the season. And he's out for a "minimum" of three weeks. So that leaves Nixon AND Nomar with early-May return dates. Also this gives Pokey Reese the starting shortstop job (eh) Mark Bellhorn the starting 2B job (ugh) and David Ortiz the cleanup spot (help us). Someone pencil the Sox in for a 9-19 April, all right?

    I heard an ugly rumor that Derek Lowe was shooting his mouth off AGAIN and whining, bitching, and generally complaining about his contract situation. I decided to check out this unfounded rumor myself and read the Globe Article.
    Lowe said yesterday "it's a hundred percent clear" the Red Sox will not sign him before Opening Day. Citing what he described as an unacceptable contract offer he received two weeks ago, the righthander also indicated that it's unlikely the Sox will sign him before the end of the season
    "Hmmm", I said, quickly scanning the rest of the story. "Surely that's not Lowe, the same guy who in 2002 acknowledged that he bore the fans who booed him in 2001 no ill will, because he completely deserved it? Surely this whiny brat isn't D-Lowe!"
    "From a positive side, they've made it easy," Lowe said. "They offered me less than what they did last year, so it wasn't a hard decision to make."

    He described last year's offer as "a low number and the wrong way."
    Obviously Lowe is aware that there's a process called "negotiation" whereby neither side offers the highest amount they are willing to take or pay right away. This must simply be a misconstrued quote
    "It's frustrating, but then again I'm over it because they made it so easy," he said. "It wasn't like it was a decision where you had to sit down and think about it for more than a second. Now you just go out and play the game because I think if somebody wants you, they're going to put out an effort, an honest effort."
    Poppycock! That sounds like Gary Sheffield, not our beloved good natured Derek! Whoever got these "quotes" is obviously some kind of dischord-spreading monster!
    "I've expressed a desire to play here and stay here, but unfortunately in some instances they hold it against you, so all you can do is keep playing," he said. "I don't hold grudges. I don't get mad at any situation.

    "You're eventually going to go where you're wanted, and I think that's the biggest thing. You have a contract through the year with this ball club and you're going to do everything you can do to pitch well. But you're going to go where people want you."
    Goddammit, no one would have the balls to make up quotes like these. This is actually Derek Lowe talking, isn't it? Man, what a diva
    "All indications are that we may not talk until the end of the year," he said. "That's the feeling I get."
    You've got a feeling about baloney, asshole.

    Screw Derek Lowe. 30 years old with absolutely no ability to strike guys out, with one good relief and one good starting season under his belt, combined with a LOT of mediocre-bad seasons. I'm not usually the kind to let one bad interview sour me on a player, but any leftover affection I had for Lowe due to his 2002 season is gone. Cut Fatso loose.

    Oh and Pedro got shellacked. Again. I hear tennis is a very relaxing sport to follow...

  • Sunday, March 28, 2004

    Mets Game Recap (ST) 3/28

    Orioles 7, Mets 3


    Fran Healy Talks!

    During the pregame portion of this lovely contest, Art Howe was interviewed and revealed that his major area of concern was the defense. He offered a completely valid excuse for his hapless squad, saying that many teams have problems in Spring Training because the quality of the fields is not up to par. Laughing at that pretext served as my introduction to this latest mockery of the game and quickly turned to sobbing when the defense performed its best impression of last year’s.

    Before I get started jotting down some thoughts, I’ll offer an excuse of my own for the team’s poor play: It must have been nearly impossible to maintain what precious little focus they had while playing behind Steve Trachsel. Watching him pitch with runners on base is a more agonizingly protracted task than setting a pot of water on the sidewalk and watching it until global warming brings it to a boil.

  • Kaz Matsui, proud bearer of an increasingly shaggy rust-colored mullet, was completely shut down today by Rodrigo Lopez. The fans were so excited to see him make contact late in the game that they cheered his final groundout more loudly than most Met hits. I’m very worried about his ability to adjust to American pitching and mores governing haircut regularity.

  • Ty Wigginton was his usual sturdy self. Kaz picked up a grounder and chucked it for a tag play at third, a good throw sliced in neatly between the runner and the bag. Ty just missed it. If the Mets were a recreational softball team, Mike Cameron would’ve flipped and started cursing him out until Cliff Floyd reminded everyone, "Guys, it’s just a goddamn game. Christ. Shut up, man."

  • Piazza had an awful day. He made a couple of throws on basestealing attempts that were surprisingly aimed in the general vicinity of second base, yet had less zip on them than a pair of button-fly jeans. To compensate he launched a throw well over the second baseman’s head in a bid to stop one of the Birds from taking an extra base. Luckily Mike Cameron was right there, or we would’ve been treated to another shot of Piazza faintly grimacing yet trying to pretend no one is watching him suck it up.

  • Fran Healy certainly didn’t help to make the game palatable. I’d like to say he was in rare form, but sadly that’s not the case. Here are a few of his less lengthy ramblings:

    "Joe McEwing is now the backup centerfielder for the Mets. That really just increases his value for the team."

    "The first park where fans paid to get in and watch was in Flushing. The name of the team was the NY Knickerbockers. I could be wrong. But that would be a good story."

    "Andruw Jones is so relaxed because he comes from that island." -- followed by inexplicable giggling

    "...and the players will tell you, no one wore a uniform better than Lee Mazilli." -- delivered matter-of-factly into the silence after a video of an earlier interview with Mazilli was shown.

  • Friday, March 26, 2004

    Stop watching us

    Sorry folks, you're dealing with me again. Mike's computer has succumbed to the "vx2 betterinternet" virus which allows him to go on AIM to wax philosophical about how much The Hardball Times sucks but not bother updating the site.

    I think a little more explanation is in order for yesterday's post, in specific Dan Shaugnessy's latest steaming pile of puke that the Globe printed for some reason. Usually I ignore his stuff, much like I ignore Mike's nonsensical ravings about how much he hates Andruw Jones because he occasionally likes to go for the goodnight kiss on a first date. However, that article I mentioned touches a nerve for me lately.

    The Sox/Yankees rivalry used to be just that. The Sox and Yankees. We hated the Yankees, and the Yankees bemusedly hated us mostly from reflex. If you walked up to, say, a Detroit fan and started talking about how the Yankees suck and Jeter swallows, you'd got a polite laugh before the fan went back to Comerica park and began sobbing hysterically when they read the program for that year.

    Now, though. I know the 2003 ALCS was an exciting game, and it ushered a new era of Sox fans into the blindingly painful purgatory known as "Sox fanship", but ever since then EVERYONE likes the Sox/Yankees rivalry. Some people are even saying that baseball's "best hope" is the emotion and excitement the rivalry stirs up in baseball fans.

    This bugs me. Kansas City fans shouldn't care about the Red Sox and the Yankees. But due to the fact that:

    #1. The media covers even the smallest, most pointless news bits from 6 different angles and crams this "excitement" down the public's throat.

    #2. The Sox and Yankees engaged in a baseball jihad war of sorts over the offseason, making the rivalry step even further to the forefront of the baseball landscape

    #3. The "East Coast Bias" several people speak of obviously exists

    KC fans are aboard the Rivalry Bandwagon in spades.

    That's ridiculous. Other people should regard our little spat as pointless, one sided, and boring. I've been a Sox fan for awhile now and have accumulated a healthy despisal of the Yankees over a period of years, and random people who aren't even really fans of baseball talk about hating the Yankees "way more than you do, dude!!!!"

    I don't want our dumb little contest to be viewed as something everyone can understand and enjoy, for one thing. But that's probably just jealousy talking. However, it IS dangerous for people to be relying on this rivlary to be the kick start baseball needs to get its fan base and popularity back in order. No one should try to understand what it's like to be a Sox fan.

    Except for Cubs fans. Man, it must suck to be you guys.

    Thursday, March 25, 2004

    A-Rod takes it in the eye

    Although it unfortunately did no permanent damage, seeing Hideki Matsui's bullet relay to Alex Rodriguez carom directly into his vastly overpaid face was still quite exciting. It apparently left a big ugly bruise but his vision seems fine, so I guess the Sox don't really benefit from the incident other than the fact that it was really funny. What's funnier about the play, however, is that it shows just how horrible A-Rod still is at third base. A-Rod was reaching down to grab the ball without checking to see where the runner was, which you can usually get away with at 2nd base on the occasions you're covering it, but people slide into third pretty often, buddy. A great way to get hurt is to play the hot corner with no idea of what you're doing.

    Speaking of new faces on the 3B scene, Gabe Kapler has recently been showing off some more than competent work there. Seeing as how we've lost Lou Merloni, it's a good thing that we've got him doing that, considering I can't think of anyone other than Mueller who's proficient at third. Kapler's a big athletic guy, which seems to work in his favor, but he also played quite a bit of third in college ball, so at least he has some slight clue as to what he's doing. His hitting's not too shabby either, so the more positions he can play, the better.

    Pedro Martinez needs to stop gibbering about his ability to throw 100 MPH and start throwing at least 90 today against the Twins. Pedro, seen in this file photo attempting to cram a baseball up into his nose, has not topped 90 MPH in any of his exhibition starts thus far, despite claiming he feels he could easily throw the 98 he hurled easily in his prime. There's been several theories why, most of them kicked around by SOSH members at 3 AM, which would almost certainly anger their girlfriends if they existed.

    I certainly understand and agree with the logic behind the theory that he's talking up his arm to help his contract talks. However the people who are saying that he's deliberately holding back on his velocity because the Sox management has not signed his long term contract are frankly frightening me, either because they are much much smarter or much much stupider than I am. That would be like Sammy Sosa walking around Cubs camp claiming he can hit 60 homers again any time he wants, but is deliberately only hitting singles and pop ups until he gets a contract. Maybe Pedro can still throw at his old velocity, but I very much doubt it. I hope I can have enough faith in Theo Epstein to rest assured that he won't fall for Pedro's obvious trap.

    On to injury news, Nomar's looking better and better for being ready for the season opener. Trot, however, has been experiencing horrible pain in his back and had only these calming words to say about his condition
    I'm just hoping I'll wake up tomorrow and feel a lot better," Nixon said. "I was told there might be days like these. I just hope it's the fact my body is a little bit worn down because of what I've gone through. I think the big thing for me is to make sure there isn't any numbness going down my leg because that wouldn't be good."
    I'm not going to start confidently predicting surgery on his back happening this season, but I can't really say I'd be surprised if it happened either.

    I, like every other true Sox fan, hate Dan Shaughnessy. His latest article has so many snide comments and doomsday predictions that it made me want to retch far worse than his usual "Okay Sox fans, please commit suicide in an orderly fashion but only after you've bought my book, please" printings that he writes after a bad loss. I don't even have anything funny to say about it, this is just a terrible article and he's a terrible writer.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    There's a Reason You Played Right in Little League has an article up by Kevin Cserwinski detailing the right field situation. Karim Garcia has a cast on his arm because of a case of tendinitis. My guess is he picked it up at the team chapel, after keeping his hands locked in prayer for seven days and seven nights in thanks to whatever merciful deity was responsible for putting him on the only team desperate enough to put up with his classless behavior. It also has a great shot of Shane Spencer (the second one down) in which his resemblance to Rudy Giuliani’s bulbous and irritating offspring is unquestionable. The article also fills us in on Cedeno’s struggles by pointing to his weak batting average, and says that Timo Perez is still being talked about as trade bait (although no one seems to be offering examples of the specific batting practice equipment he could be dealt for), while Raul Gonzalez has almost no shot to make the team despite a good start.

    Now, I know that Spring Training statistics are usually fairly meaningless, as the level of competition is much lower due to player and team experimentation. Yet there are always some situations ever year in which roster spots are determined by Spring performances, tainted and useless or not. Here’s what those five have done so far:

    R Cedeno 11 G, 32 AB, .125 BA, 1 2b
    T Perez 10 G, 21 AB, .143, 0 extra base hits
    S Spencer 15 G, 35 AB, .229 BA, 1 HR
    K Garcia 13 G, 29 AB, .276 BA, 2 2b, 1 HR
    R Gonzalez 14 G, 19 AB, .368 BA with only one extra base hit (2b)

    It certainly appears that Raul Gonzalez is hitting well. Jorge Velandia remarked recently (after being praised by Duquette as the kind of backup second base bat he was interested in) that year in and year out, he would put up great numbers in the Spring and get nothing for his troubles. A closer look at Gonzalez’ at bats in the Spring reveal some reasons for the inflation of those numbers and why they’d be ignored. You can see by his ratio of G/AB that he’s not starting much, so obviously he’s subbing in late in games against pitchers with very little chance of playing in the majors this season. It’s true that his ABs so far are a small sample size, but considering the way the Mets are playing him it’s obvious his performance will have no impact on his role for the upcoming season. He could hit .400, slug 10 homers, and even urinate only in bathrooms, and it wouldn’t make a difference.

    Timo Perez has gotten a similar number of 1 AB appearances, and has performed dreadfully anyway. Doesn’t he know he’s being shopped? Shouldn’t he be trying to pull a Kieschnick at this point, or even a McCarty? Oh Timoniel, whither will Duquette’s love of flamethrowing underachievers send you?

    That brings me to a moment here at East Coast Agony more special than when Kyle admitted he was stalking Edward Cosette and sought counseling. (You can do it, bud! Please, readers, e-mail with your support!) That’s right, it’s time for my last lame reference to the pizza-gate incident. I’m tearing up. Ahem.

    You could say that Spencer and Garcia appear to be pissing away their chances, if it weren’t so obvious that the Mets can no longer have any intention of giving anyone else playing time.

    Both of them have been given a handful of starts, and mostly made spot appearances later in games against the likes of Tanyon Sturtze and other future minor league pitching instructors. They’ve been the best of the lot so far, which obviously isn’t saying much. Cedeno, on the other hand, has sucked just about as everyone predicted (or hoped?) he would. Roger has been starting an awful lot, with awful being the operative word, though in his defense he’s been facing the Oswalts, Dotels, and Gagnes of the world, while his competitors have mostly been pitted against the Narvesons, Horgans, and Parontos. (Yeah, me neither.) Because he’s been starting, it looked like the Mets were hoping he’d build on his finish to the previous year so they could justify overpaying for him. He hasn’t performed, so my guess is they’ll just go with their platoon, and occasionally give Roger a start to take our minds off of Glavine’s failed comeback bid. It’s gotta be tough to make a decision based on suspect figures and subjective analyses, but I guess the Mets executives are fairly experienced in that area.

    Monday, March 22, 2004

    Place humorous red text here

    Recently Theo Epstein regained a lot of the respect he held in my eyes before he made 5 consecutive poorly considered waiver claims recently. Reporters say that Theo was on the field in Ft. Myers when cheerful a cappella music began playing in the background. Epstein stroked his chin thoughtfully, then popped a Mento and his face lit up as he said "Heyyy....wait a minute! Tony Womack sucks!" He therefore traded Womack to the Cardinals for grade D+ 29 year old "prospect" Matt Duff, a spectacular failure of a player with 5.2 major league innings under his belt. I heartily endorse this trade, seeing that Tony Womack could theoretically bring the team down for 140-160 games, while Matt Duff can only ruin at most 100 or so innings for us. It's the lesser of two evils.

    Remember wayyyyyy way back in the past when I claimed that the Sox needed to win the division or face the very real possibility that the wild card would come out of the West? No? That's cool, I tend to avoid reading my old posts too, I definitely went through some growing pains before I became the only slightly below average Internet journalist I am today. Next stop: Mediocrity.

    Well, Peter Gammons has recently echoed the statement, noting that any of THREE teams in the AL West could theoretically win 100 games. It's probably fatalistic to assume that the Sox don't have much of a chance at the wild card berth, but it's setting me up for a lot less heartache than harboring insane illusions that my team is one Alfonso Soriano away from contention.

    Nothin' else much to report in Sox land. Leiber's out till May apparently now. Hopefully he and Trot get caught bar hopping together or something. I could use some excitement around here.

    Kids doing an internet search for Half Assed Job for a school project will hopefully be sent here, this update would make a great example.

    Sunday, March 21, 2004

    Mets Game Recap (ST) 3/21

    Dodgers 4, Mets 1


    Edwin "I'm unapologetic Ms." Jackson 1, Mets Defensive Eyesores (innumerable)

    Before I divert energy from my will to live and funnel it into my latest painful elucidation of Mets baseball, allow my ego to expand to Gleeman-length so I can tell you what you should be reading, er, I mean, point to some blog writing I’ve enjoyed recently.

    Kaley of Flushing Local has a fairly sympathetic post up about everyone’s favorite lovable loser, Roger Cedeno, in which she advocates the Wilpons cutting ties and letting Speed Racer’s Mets career accelerate into the sunset.

    Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society agrees, yet feels that the antagonism fans have been directing Cedeno’s way is justifiable.

    They’re both remarking, by the way, on this NY Times article that shows Roger to be a pretty decent-sounding fellow.

    "...I want to win so badly," said CedeƱo, who will be relegated to a backup right fielder this season. "I've taken the heat, and I truly believe that if we start to win, everything will be O.K. It's so hard when you are losing in New York. It gets bad. Real bad. You get no support. It's hard for me because 90 percent of the reason I play is for the fans. You don't want your own fans to boo you."
    Even considering his struggles this Spring, I’ve found it’s getting tougher to slam him. Not impossible, obviously, but tougher. Tack my name onto the petition to cut him loose and send him somewhere he can regain his confidence and his family can watch him play.

    Finally, here’s a preview of the NL East written up in a roundtable format by the blogging collective. It’s just a bunch of good baseball bloggers together in one place unified by a sleek design, and is considerably less pretentious than this similar project:

    What exactly is The Hardball Times? Well, in short, it is a place where you can come to find great writing about baseball. In addition to Aaron and Matthew, THT's lineup includes some of the most intelligent and gifted baseball writers around.
    After reading that, I would seriously rather enjoy Red Sox Yip Dawg’s handful of posts over and over than subject myself to the self-important natterings of...well, some dudes who happen to have a website.

    (On a related note, Kyle and I have been posting here for almost three months now, which according to the Universal Blogging Filler Accord makes it OK for us to devote close to 30% of our posts to talking about blogging instead of actually blogging. Expect that annoying trend to continue until the five month mark, when we will earn the right to shamefully beg you for Paypal donations and/or cover our site with animated gifs of Mo Vaughn eating things our sponsors want you to buy.)

    I can’t delay any longer. The agony:

  • Heilman looked good in four innings and change. If you didn’t watch, you might be a little dismayed by his line (4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 earned). In the first inning he let Bubba Trammel take him deep, which I’m only mentioning because he has a slight problem allowing the longball, and because it’s nice to see the name Bubba on the blog without having to wade through an execrable account of a Big K family reunion. The second inning was where I started watching, and I happily settled in on the couch to see Kaz Matsui make a bad throw which should’ve been ruled an error but wasn't. Ty Wigginton was his usual hard-nosed, hard-pressed self, and followed that up by firing a rocket at least a foot above Mike Piazza’s creme-rinsed locks. Heilman ended up throwing over thirty pitches that inning, which both limited his time in the game and allowed for the creation of a pressure situation in which he momentarily struggled. He looked very good the rest of the outing, throwing a ton of breaking balls and making Dodgers already pedestrian hitters look even more foolish. If our defense is really improved and baseball enacts legislation to prevent the offical scorer’s dog from stepping in for an inning, I think his line would’ve been a bit more favorable. I don’t have BB/K numbers in front of me, but I know he continued to strike batters out. Unfortunately, our defense behind him continued to show just how important that facet of his game will be.

  • Got another chance to see Piazza at first, and this time with the added bonus of Keith Hernandez shouldering color responsibilities. He emphasized Piazza’s preoccupation with setting himself up to receive throws at the bag, and we were treated to replays of Mike looking over his shoulder to make sure his foot was on the base, and hurrying over a little too much to make sure he got there. He didn’t look horrible by any means, but definitely like someone who is learning a new position and doesn’t know it well enough to patrol it by instinct. After seeing Wigginton hurl a throw off-target early, and watching Piazza somehow lift his stocky frame off the ground in an attempt to snag it, I was worried about that particular connection. Ty made another long throw to Mike spot on later, and Hernandez noted that Piazza had been in “picture perfect” position for it. I hope Mex works with him in some capacity.

  • Danny Garcia hit very well, with a pair of deep doubles in a huge ballpark. The Mets faced great young pitcher Edwin Jackson for the first handful of frames, and he predictably baffled many of the Amazin’s, so it was good to see one of our young guys succeed -- even if the most Garcia can hope for is to win the utility spot on the roster and eventually get mistaken by a vengeance-minded posse looking for the fat unruly teammate who shares his surname.

  • I have yet to enjoy a Kaz Matsui at bat. Looking at the way he swings I can only infer that in Japan hitters are taught that it doesn’t matter if you get a hit as long as you hit a groundball directly at a fielder. The Battle of Two Matsuis might be a little different than I had originally conceived; perhaps the outcome should be determined by a tally of sharply hit grounders. Is it possible that our Matsui is just like their Matsui, except without the homeruns? Sono ritsuzen desu ka!

  • It's all coming apart

    The Red Sox express train service to Healthyville, USA derailed recently, with Nomar, Nixon, and Kim all succumbing to horrible injuries and being listed as "unlikely" for the start of the season. Let's look at these injuries in order of the amount I cried when hearing the news.

    Nixon: Out till May at least. But we all know that's figured in "Let's avoid mass hysteria and suicide problems" time. More realisticly, Nixon might be back in the swing of things by mid-June. He could theoretically be back in the lineup before then, but Nixon's a slow starter and I don't think he'll be hitting in a useful capacity before then.

    Time like this I'm even more glad to have Burks than usual. Burks is completely capable of hitting as well as Nixon. I honestly believe that. Therefore, Burks displaces Ortiz at DH, Ortiz displaces Millar at first, Millar goes into RF and hopefully hits well enough to make his comical "Help dear Lord what am I DOING out here I'm gonna die oh God oh God oh God" expression on his face acceptable. Seriously, watch him out there some time, he looks like a deer caught in headlights.

    Nomar: I TOLD you Nomar's Achilles injury was more of a big deal than was let on. Luckily, Nomar somehow got his PHD at Georgia Tech and explained the situation for us
    "The good news is, there's nothing wrong with the tendon," Garciaparra said, sounding very much like a physician. "What [the MRI] did show was some swelling around the tendon, some fluid that gets caught around the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the bursa sac area that's right below the Achilles' [tendon]. When you're dealing with an area like that, where there's not a whole lot of skin, it just takes a while to get rid of that inflammation."
    I had three immediate thoughts after reading this:

    #2. Hee hee hee, he used the words "sheath", "sac", and "swollen"
    #3. Bullshit

    Nomar's not going to be ready for the start of the season. He might be forced into playing anyways, but he has 9 at-bats this whole year and won't be healthy enough to even start swinging a bat until a day or two before the season starts. Hopefully it won't be a lingering thing, but......

    Byung Hyun Kim (Last time you'll ever see me write out his name): The back apparently isn't the issue anymore, now we just have to deal with a sore shoulder and his crippling emotional problems. I'm less high on Arroyo than I was a few weeks ago, seeing as how he's gotten nuked like week old Chinese Food recently, so let's hope Kim can come back sometime vaguely soon and earn his ridiculous salary. Hey, anyone's better than Charcoal.

    Ladies and Gentleman, Manny Ramirez is completely, utterly insane. Not just "goofy" or "Being Manny" like everyone says, this is a man who if he couldn't hit a baseball would be locked in the cellar and fed mashed potatoes and table scraps through a doggy door. He recently talked to the press, tongue in cheek, about his chances of making the team after a relatively poor spring training:
    ``I need help, man,'' said Ramirez, laughing heartily at the idea of him helping others. ``I ain't trying to help nobody, I need help myself. I'm trying to help myself. I don't even know what I'm doing here, like I'm going to help somebody - like (Carlos) Febles, comes up to me, `Hey, what am I doing wrong?'

    ' "Hey, you're talking to the wrong guy, I've only got two hits in spring training.' ''
    Manny then went on to incoherently babble:
    ``I'm trying to make this team, there's only one spot left,'' Ramirez said. ``New manager, I've got to surprise him, that's the way I think. I've got to surprise him, man, that's the way I think. Every year's a new year, whatever you do next year, it's all over. This is the year, man.'' '
    Ramirez then took off his shoes and ate them, screamed that Gummy Bears were inside his head and chewing on his brain, and ran through a wall leaving a Ramirez-shaped hole in the plaster. God I love this guy.

    Despite the injury problems the Sox spring training record is 9-6. We've got some people hitting well and great pitching so far, and what's looking like a great team come April 4th. Let's roll.

    Saturday, March 20, 2004

    March Indifference

    My rabid enthusiasm for baseball took a stroll one fine Spring morning and tore a hamstring. I should have seen it coming. I felt twinges some weeks back when I read about Mike Cameron’s bone spurs and Cliff Floyd’s internal health meter getting stuck on an "80%" reading. It acted up again when Mike Piazza faced the rigors of playing first base groin-on and showed that a steady diet of pomegranate seeds and coral dust do not a healthy season guarantee. When I sat down with the sole purpose of being entertained by the Mets younger players in a Spring Training game and saw my favorite, Reyes, limping off the field after what looked to be a routine play, well, that’s probably when they penciled my name in on the Disgusted List and let Kyle run this place. For that consequence, and not my absence, I do heartily apologize. The recent and inevitable spate of preseason injuries have been getting me down.

    Everything looked good a few weeks ago when our first taste of baseball was savored like a fine wine, and predictions for our favorites were made as if by a wino. But the promise of Spring Training is as meaningless as the vows Chipper Jones swears when he gets married, because a team that’s good on paper isn’t worth a damn when God throws scissors. The preseason has devolved for me from a brilliant and hope-inspiring display of skill to a macabre game of attrition, wherein fate, luck, or an inability to withstand the Big Mac wreck players’ bodies and rob us of witnessing the best competition possible.

    A case in point: Word is Trot Nixon will be out until May, and Nomar was questionable for the season’s start. Bernie Williams has just recently quit expelling useless organs and started putting balls in play. With Pedro and Kevin Brown yet to succumb to the injury bug, the Yanks and Sox are engaging in a different sort of arms race (whose stays on the longest, perhaps), which further magnifies the regrettable importance health has on a baseball season. I’d love to watch those two behemoths battle it out at full strength for an entire 162, but we all know that’s not going to happen. It’s sad that the most significant storylines so far in that contest are about Yankee injuries and the likelihood of more to follow. Say Giambi goes down, New York’s rotation goes lame at just the wrong time, and Boston wins the division. Do the mitigating injuries preclude Red Sox Nation from squealing a collective "Cowboy Up!" and momentarily removing the gun from its head? No, sadly, no. There’s no asterisk for injury-abetted conquests, and there probably shouldn’t be. After all, we’ll need to save some for those bastard juicers, right?

    Injuries also make for some terrible stories. There are many bad trains of thought departing from the mechanical minds of baseball writers, especially at this time of year, and even though the history of the sport and sheer length of its season seem to beg for recurring themes, there isn’t a formulaic plug-in less satisfying than the tale of the injured seeking redemption. This article about expectations for JD Drew by’s Jacob Luft sidesteps that path, yet still merits a groan for Luft’s pragmatism about great players performing well even in shortened seasons. We can be happy with what we get if the numbers are good enough, Luft says, but I say the numbers be damned. I derive value from Ripkin-esque consistency, though a stathead might not be able to quantify the enjoyment of a baseball fan who can count on watching his favorite players regularly. If Reyes goes on to hit .300 with 10 homers and 65 RBI in 100 games, my dance for joy will be tempered by the what-ifs of injury time that are filed away in the same soft-focus dream sequences Kyle reserves for dates with beautiful female celebrities or females period.

    So I’m frustrated with the Mets and baseball in general these days. I’m rooting for the comeback players even as I wince at their setbacks, and I’ve resigned myself to the knowledge that getting hurt for no good reason is the nature of the game. Hell, it’s the nature of humanity -- I earned my dismissal from the evolutionary roster by slamming my hand in a truck door at work this week, and the thing turned colors so awful I expect to see them on a major league uniform soon. I can’t stay disillusioned with baseball for very long, though. Rest assured I’ll be watching -- and hoping that my winces at bloated digits come from the effort of crossing my mangled fingers and not Braden Looper’s prodigious ERA.

    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    Tragedy with the Cap'n

    Sorry folks, but Mike died in a horrifying cereal factory accident. We were touring the General Mills facility when he saw the Captain Crunch/Crunchberries machine in a corner, he then screamed "OOPS! ALL BERRIES!!" and pulled the "Don't Pull" lever. However instead of humorously changing the contents of the cereal to solely disgusting red and blue pieces of crunchy roughage, boiling hot hydraulic fluid spewed forth and melted his face off. His last words were "Never sent" before he expired. I quickly checked his outgoing mail and sure enough there was a letter to Reyes in his pile of post to be sent out, however I'm not going to be mailing it. The poor kid has enough to worry about with learning second base without also looking over his shoulder in terror in every dark alley.

    Or Mike was abducted by space aliens. I really don't know. Hopefully he'll be back soon though, in the meantime please enjoy another hot injection of Big K Bloggin', to be administered in the most uncomfortable of places!

    Some good news to report from Ft. Myers, Trot might still be out with a strained left ass or pride or whatever he hurt, but Nomar came back into the lineup to go 0-2 with a walk, increasing his on-base percentage infinitely. (from .000 to .111 with a repeating bar over it) He has a muscular 0-8 batting average as well, lending further evidence to the "how you end a season is how you start the next one" theory.

    Curt Schilling has declared himself ready for action as he pitched 6 scoreless innings with 74 pitches, wearing a ridiculous green jersey all the while. I for one am a fan of it, I think the Sox away uniform should be this very color, because nothing says "We as a team disrespect you" to the home team better than wearing the most unsightly ugly uniforms possible in their stadium.

    Speaking of Green, Bud Selig has recently turned green himself, tearing off his shirt and bellowing "Selig MAD!!! Selig smash weak ineffective drug policy!!! ROAR!!!!" I wasn't sure where to put the link in that horrible sentence, so I'll put it here instead. I've never really been one to get on my soap box and self righteously weigh in on baseball's various foibles, although if that's what you're looking for feel free to check out 70% of Edward Cosette's articles. (You see that Cosette? Twice in as many updates. You can't ignore me forever.)

    Having said that, I vote Selig's in the right to do this. Baseball seems to embarass itself horribly every other month, so step in and DO something about it this time. The Union can whine about "invasions of privacy" because its millionaire clients will have to prove they're not horribly cheating every day they step on the field, and they'll certainly file a grievance to try to block it, but at least make the effort to do something, Bud. (It's easy for me to say this because there's no one obvious on my team to point the Steroid Finger at. Other than Tim Wakefield, but that one's a given). Rant over.

    Finally, in a rather surreal moment, I noticed an interview with Grady Little in GQ. I forget what GQ stands for, but knowing their usual target audience (Hip young men) and knowing Grady (Man with hip that is younger than he is) it very well could stand for "Grady Questionmark" (Grady?) A more suitable name, then, would be GQWTFQ, but I really need to stop this joke. Some of Grady's more memorable quotes:
    "I knew that if we didn't win the World Series this year, somebody was gonna be the goat."
    Gee, who woulda thought it'd be the guy directly responsible for making sure we didn't go to the World Series? What a wacky place we live in, huh Grady?
    "If Boston plays 170 or better games next year, then maybe the result of their decision was the right one (referring to the number of games his team played, regular season and playoffs combined.) But, they better not forget they have to play those games with some human bodies. And they have to play 170 or better. And that's a lot of games."
    I WAS going to make a "Grady can count to 170? Wow!" joke, but instead I'll leave you to ponder why it's not his fault that Game 7 got blown, but it IS his doing entirely that we went into the playoffs at all.
    On new Red Sox manager, Terry Francona: "I just hope he knows what he's getting into."
    Nahhh, I'm sure he just thinks it'll be a nice 162 naps on the bench and a sweet office to screw his sister in, like you did when YOU took the job.

    Sorry, that got progressively more and more poisonous as it got written. What can I say, until the regular season starts it's all I've got to think about.

    Anyways, stay tuned for an eventual update by Mike. I hope. Lord knows I can't keep this place running forever, I'm really more the eye candy than the brains around here.

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    Blogosphere Malaise

    The Bloggin' world seems to have taken a nap lately, as most blogs are posting less often and making shorter posts when they do. And when their posts are of a normal length, it's usually about something fascinating and completely baseball-related, such as complaining about pollen counts and placebos. Metropolitan himself is not immune to this, writing yawn-inducing blog entries that have way too many HDTV references and not nearly enough Mo Vaughn ones. I'd continue on this line of thought but since 99.9% of the people on this page either were searching either for a new Mike update or for Red Sox Infant Clothing, I digress.

    Speaking of Big Mo, recently the Hartford Courant made the asonishing discovery that Mo Vaughn and David Ortiz are similar in some ways. I'd link to the story, but I live in a glass house regarding my stone throwing at other Bloggers feeling lazy lately, and don't feel like spending the 5 neccessary minutes to register for a free account with them, so I'll merely cut and paste ESPN's quick blurb:
    He looks like Mo. Swings like Mo. Hits like Mo. It's no accident that David Ortiz, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound DH/first baseman, resembles the now retired Maurice Samuel Vaughn. In an interview with The Hartford Courant, Ortiz recalls the first time he met Vaughn. "I came to camp with Minnesota and he knew that Mo was my favorite player," Ortiz told The Courant. "Everybody would say, 'Man, you look like Mo. You're the same kind of player and everything.' One night Rudy (Pemberton) told me, 'Hey, let's go to dinner. One of my teammates is going to come with us.' I didn't know who it was. I walked in and saw Big Mo. I almost choked. I couldn't even speak."
    I really have to take back my earlier comment about Ortiz gaining weight over the offseason, if anything he's lost some. Let's just hope he doesn't discover the Mo-Licious sandwich.

    11 games into Spring Training and the vast majority of the Sox are still not hitting. We're leading the rest of our division with a 7-4 record, however that number is about as meaningful as the phone numbers I get from women at parties that suspiciously resemble the one for Domino's Pizza. The pitching is coming along, with some minor bumps like Kim being shut down for arm troubles and will almost certainly not be ready for season opener. However Francona and crew note that the Sox won't need a fifth starter until roughly April 11th, so if Kim recovers from the evil spirits attacking his back and shoulder he could conceivably still make his first scheduled start.

    Speaking of pitching, the Dave McCarty experiment has been mercifully shut down for the immediate future, with Terry Francona saying
    "We're certainly not going to quit on the idea of him pitching, but we're going to make it more on side days for a while so he can concentrate on playing the field. Physically, he feels like he's been hit by a truck."
    Read: McCarty is done like dinner. Peter Gammons notes that he was topping out at 81-83 MPH, and if we need a fastball in an emergency at that speed, we can simply summon Wakefield.

    For those of you looking for info on pitchers who can throw some serious heat, look no further than Pedro's most recent "This has nothing to do with my contract situation, I'm not winking it's just a nervous twitch" ravings about how great his arm feels. Please note, if you were worried about him walking 3 people, giving up 2 hits, and a run in 2 innings, it's not because Pe-Mart (Say it like K-Mart... See? It's funny!) is rusty or inneffective, but rather he's so damn strong that his fastball is rising. Because, you know, a 4 seam fastball (the kind Pedro throws) obviously hasn't been called a "riser" for the past 80 years. An odd sight was seeing Pedro gleefully claim he could throw 98 MPH, with a completely straight face, despite apparently being aware of what he was saying. His fastball has topped out at 92 MPH this spring and I haven't seen him throw higher than 96 (usually in a 2 out, 2 strike scoring situation, right before crumpling into a heap and sobbing while he tried to coax feeling back into his arm) since 2001. But, once again, I'm probably just being needlessly cynical due to Pedro's contract situation and propensity for being a blowhard. I'm sure we can expect the 230 innings, 300 K's, and less than 2 ERA he used to hand out like candy.

    I'm not sure what to make of the two big Sox injuries this spring. Nomar's Achilles tendon injury, if handled correctly, is probably not a big deal. It's being described as "bruised" right now, which isn't too big a deal. What worries me slightly, and Mike will know exactly what I'm talking about, is sometimes Achilles tendon injuries never entirely go away. I'm of course talking about Cliffy Floyd, 3 month Sox veteran and a good offensive threat when the wrong cloud doesn't pass in front of the sun and injure him. Nomar's never been a particularly fragile dude though, so I think he'll come back from this.

    Trot's back, on the other hand, worries me. First of all, a nerve being impinged by a disk is something I am well aware of the consequences of, as my dad personally had the same injury over 5 months ago. Granted, it was slightly more severe, however it's not a problem that just "goes away". Nixon's a power hitting outfielder, his back is the most important part of his body after his hands, eyes, legs, and bad haircut. He says he's getting better and might even be ready for the season opener, however he's not guaranteeing anything. Again, I'm slightly worried.

    Nothing new to report from Yankees Land other than the fact that Jon Leiber is being, well, Jon Leiber, and has hurt his groin yet again. Yankees fans, I give you your fifth starter: Donovan Osbourne

    No comment is neccessary.

    Sunday, March 14, 2004

    Mets Game Recap (ST) 3/14

    Mets 6, Twins 5


    Leiter 0, Reyes' Hamstring -1

    The game started off innocently enough, with gratuitous shots of the beautiful Floridian afternoon the producer was more than happy to beam up to cold, miserable Mets fans. We filed into our living rooms, flipped past the YES network and its incessant broadcasts of Lou Gehrig's "I Have a Dream" speech, and settled on WPIX, where we endured thousands of monotonously-voiced inducements to buy Mets ticket packages juxtaposed with ads for pills that caution us to seek immediate medical attention if we "catch the energy" for an absurd four hours.

    But second-rate channels and painful exchanges between commentators Dave O'Brien and Tom Seaver aside ("That's you out there on that boat" "Would you look at that water, I got in a little fishing before the game"), all was forgiven when Leiter reared back and grunted like a female tennis player as he threw his first pitch. He looked pretty good in the first, too, lulling me into the false sense of complacent happiness especially dangerous to those living in a state of nature or Mets fans. The sun, the surf, the orange and blue all combined to inflate my optimism to a level you're familiar with if unlike me you read Kyle's posts. I wasn't even bothered when on a routine grounder to short, Joe McEwing decided to see if he could field the ball and then deposit it somewhere in his jock instead of throwing it to first. I chuckled and nodded when Seaver intoned, "Super Joe can play just about any position on the field" and didn't even silently tack on the requisite "horribly" to that statement.

    Then the Amazin's came to bat and Reyes ruined everything.

    Kaz Matsui led off. Our crack broadcast team showed a split-screen image of his swing alongside Ichiro's, and they look identical except for the slight difference in that Ichiro's bat connects with the baseball. I think one of the reasons it's taking Kaz so long to recover from his finger injury is that he's using his torn fingernail to personally cultivate his countryman's wispy, intricate facial hair. Combined with his Manic Panic near-mullet, his straggly beard is the worst Mets hair fiasco since Piazza decided that blonds just have more fun (and press conferences to discuss their sexuality), or when Rey Sanchez turned the dugout into SuperCuts. That there is more than one hair-related disaster in recent memory should evoke something, but I'm afraid I'm inured to recording embarrassing episode after episode.

    After Kaz swung at the first pitch and grounded out, Reyes renewed my faith in our table-setters and worked a walk. He promptly bested the arm of prized Twins catching prospect and also their starting catcher Joe Mauer, and stole second easily. Then Cliff Floyd roped a single into right with such force that if I had been watching HDTV I suspect I would not be sitting here today writing this. Everyone is cheering, I'm psyched, and then I hear:

    "Something is wrong with Reyes, he's limping into third. He's dropped his helmet. Looks like he's clutching his hamstring. Yes, that's definitely the hamstring. The same one that bothered him last year in the minors. Oh, this is no good for the Mets."

    They replayed the injury about five or six times, and thankfully it was innocuous and nothing like Johnny Damon slamming his already bloated Neanderthal noggin into his teammate's. Reyes runs, suddenly pulls up, and grabs the back of his leg. He hobbles off the field on his own, if that's any comfort. (It isn't.)

    The rest of the game is a blur. Can you blame me for not charting the awesome plays turned out by new Mets electrifying DP combo Joe McEwing and Danny Garcia? Shortly after the Reyes injury, Floyd drew a bead on a sinking liner to left and flung himself bodily at the ball as if his glove were an afterthought, sunglasses flapping onto the grass like a limb rendered useless by reckless play. Leiter blew up for five runs in the fourth, Cameron homered, Piazza crushed one of his own, and I didn't watch the end of the game but somehow we managed another meaningless Spring Training win.

    Here's hoping Reyes is OK. Otherwise, I might have to forego a ticket package in favor of pills of another sort.

    Thursday, March 11, 2004

    Oh those laughy, daffy Sox

    Thank goodness for extensive empical evidence supporting the idea that spring training W/L records are completely meaningless. The Sox regularly lag behind the Jays and Rays around this time of year, however that's not often the case come September.

    Having said that, the Sox simply aren't hitting or pitching very well in ST. Pitching has been acceptable, with several fringe bullpen player implosions marring quite a few good pitching performances. However, hitting is simply not coming along at this point. Last spring, here were the numbers a few of our regulars ended up with at the end:

    Nomar: .373/5/10
    Manny: .490/5/14
    Ortiz: .333/3/10
    Millar: .328/4/11

    Here's their stats thus far this spring:

    Nomar: .000/0/1
    Manny: .100/0/0
    Ortiz: .400/2/3
    Millar: .125/0/2

    I am NOT suggesting that this is clear evidence that our offense is going to collapse this year (Rob Neyer seems to think it will, though) I've been watching all those guys lately (not so much Nomar as he's just coming back from a heel injury) and they all look pretty frantic and useless at the plate right now. I'll just feel a lot better about stuff once they're hitting fairly well and not weakly hacking at the ball with their bats like a gay lumberjack would cut down a tree.

    I can't find a link to it, however ESPN has a fairly distressing little blurb on the Sox team homepage
    The Red Sox made their third contract-extension offer to Nomar Garciaparra last week, the Providence Journal reported March 10. The offer, which was not accepted, reportedly is for four years ($13-$14M per year), and may include a fifth option year.
    What the hell else does he want? Even the low end of that contract is for 52 million over 4 years. If Sox management ups that offer I will strangle them. I'm not a huge stat head, but I really believe OPS is a good measure of a hitter's overall usefullness to a team. Guess what Nomar's OPS was? Actually, don't guess, it was .870. Doesn't sound so good, does it? Okay, guess this one: What rank does that give him in the AL? (Not baseball, JUST the AL)

    If you guessed "In the top 20, but JUST friggin' barely", then you're right. 20th in the AL. That's not such hot stuff. Good, no doubt, but not 14 million a year good. There's always a chance ESPN blew this one in the same fashion as a inept television reporting sprinting out of the Martha Stewart courtoom frantically waving her "Red for not guilty on count 3" scarf, and if that's the case I'm still not worried, but if Nomar's really stonewalling on a potentially 5 year deal for 69 million, then he's either A) an idiot or B) has no interest in playing in Boston at all anymore. 2005 has some decent shortstops on the FA market if I'm not mistaken, including slightly below top tier names such as Renteria, Furcal, and Cabrera. Any of them would suit me fine, if Nomar makes 18 million dollars a year to play 2B for the Yankees then good for him. I suppose he could always hit a 9th inning game winning home run against us in the playoffs sometime soon, but if that happens there's so many effective ways to kill myself I'm not even worried about it

    With how much I like Bronson Arroyo and how much Kim's incessant whining and under-achieving bothers me, this article is no surprise and hopefully further evidence that Arroyo might actually grab the 5th starter's slot out of spring training. Kim's numbers actually aren't all that horrible this spring, however if there's one person whose pure numbers cannot be trusted, it's BK. His numbers for us included a 3.18 ERA, 8-5 record. and 16 saves. However, and anyone who actually watched a game with him pitching knows this, those are merely evil, lying statistics of the worst kind. He was very rarely in control of a game and always seemed one bad break away from a horrible blowout inning. There's no numbers I can find to back it up, but he came out of a lot of games with 2 or 3 runners on base that the relief pitching did a great job of cleaning up for him. With his fragile body and mind, I wouldn't shed any tears if he ended up our long man out of the bullpen and Arroyo was starting, is all.

    Johnny Damon is doing his best Brian Daubauch impersonation by admitting he's a bit of a free spirit and might have had the occasional chardonnay, what of it? I'm all for players staying out till 2 AM and getting sledged, waking up with an ugly groupie, and complaining to the umpire to "make the pitcher stop spinning the stadium like that". As long as it doesn't affect his performance, who gives a crap what players do? Johnny's overpaid and not all that great a leadoff hitter, but he's decent and his hitting woes come from just plain not being that talented, not from boozin' it up. I say he should take the advice and be a little more agressive at the plate, and if he happens to be in really bad shape and sees three balls coming at him, swing at the one in the middle, Johnny.

    Because I can't resist taking a parting shot at the Yankees, I'll publicly delcare the clubhouse shenanigans in full swing thanks to Gary "G-Money" Sheffield. Cashman said this is a non-issue, and it probably is, but it's a wee bit early for Cashman to have to be going out and doing damage control. I think I might be taking out a subscription to the Post just to keep abreast of this stuff.

    In closing, here is a picture of Todd Zeille making a playful grab for Mike Piazza's manliness.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    Toilet Humor, or Why I Love the Mets

    Judging by the number of people who have come to this site after searching for Anderson Bourell, Piazza's quack yoga guru, I think it's safe to say that many of you out there enjoy the Mets' embarrassing episodes as much as I do. Which is to say, we dig them a lot more than we do humdrum losses and injury reports and basically 95% of the information that swirled down the tubes from Flushing last season.

    This year is supposed to be different. ("We have a plan," says the owner. "We're sticking to it," adds the GM.) We make a few favorable free agent signings, set our expectations for the youth movement a little too high, and suddenly Tom Glavine is not the only one who thinks he is still a good pitcher. It's Spring Training-itis, and it's not such a bad disease. I don't mind coming down with a bad case of optimism, because even if Mike Cameron's heel spur goes "Passion" on his foot, even if Leiter comes back down to earth, and Trachsel slides right through to the molten center -- even if the season completely tanks -- it's going to tank the Shea way: ugly as hell.

    Spring Training is in its infancy, and so far our list of shame reads like this:

    1. Piazza's adopts bizarre potion regimen under the tender ministrations of oddball Anderson Bourell
    2. Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer kick the marinara out of a 20-year-old pizza delivery kid after Garcia drunkenly pisses against the pizza shop's wall in full view of the players' wives

    And they say the Mets don't have character. They're right -- we specialize in characters. Subtle but really important screw up on that memo. Look, I'm not saying I like to root for a bunch of assholes, or that I believe everything I read in the paper. I'm just saying that if my team has a good chance of being mediocre or even awful, I'd rather they hold the class and give me plenty to laugh about along the way.

    Honestly, what would you rather read:

    Roberto Alomar smiled politely when asked why he was struggling at the plate with the Mets after a Hall of Fame career. "I'm just giving it 100%, maybe even 105%, some days 110%. I just can't seem to put it all together. It's just a matter of finding my stroke." He added with a shrug, "I'm the least interesting man on the face of the earth. God bless us everyone."


    Karim Garcia broke his silence on what has become known in some circles of people who should be drawn and quartered as 'Pizzagate'. "Well, see, Shane and I, we go way back. So when I was relieving my starter against that wall there and I heard someone say "Hold it" I thought it was just Shane offering, you know? But it wasn't. Turned out it was this punk kid who thought I was disrespecting his place of business. And I was, you know, but my wife was there, and Shane's wife, and we didn't want to look like losers in front of our wives, right? So I called in the guys I can count on, my team. I may piss yellow, but I bleed orange and blue. Shane came out of left field just punching the kid (but he got hurt and lost his spot early), Alomar came by to watch but took a nap, Rey Sanchez gave the kid a [messed up] haircut, Cedeno stole his delivery car and drove it into the sound barrier, and big Mo ate the kid's [gosh darn] pizza. Can you believe that? I love New York!"

    And thankfully we've got an owner and a GM who are completely unwilling to lance the boil and expel the funk. Is it because we'd have Timo Perez playing in right field and might lose a couple more games? Don't kid yourself. The Mets' image of rebellious stupidity is carefully cultivated. We are the anti-Yankees, always good for a funny, never counted on for a victory. And that's how we'll be until we start winning and have the luxury of choosing players based on intangibles and willingness to shave unprofessional facial hair.

    Now, what's this I hear about Kazmir really digging the New York nightlife?

    Sunday, March 07, 2004

    I hate you, Jason Shiell

    I've already officially had it with spring training. I saw the first game, I saw the first Sox-Yankees game, and now I'm done with watching it until it's played for real. Although, to be honest, there were a few instances where I thought perhaps these games DO count

    #1. Four stolen bases? Whole teams go through the entire month getting 4 stolen bases in total. Players don't tend to steal much in the spring, because the games don't count enough to make the injury risk worth it. You could make an argument that fringe players need to do it to showcase their basestealing ability to help them get a job, but Gabe Kapler stealing 2 bases in 2 innings was a little overkill. He's got a guaranteed spot, he was stealing because it was against the Yankees.

    #2. The media circus was incredible. They had three cameras set up on the outfield wall, which according to Sox broadcasters has never happened in the Sox spring training stadium. Before game time there were crews from all over the place milling about, asking people retarded questions about whether the rivalry had been kicked up a notch this winter.

    #3. People camped out for standing room only tickets the night before. Scalpers were getting 80 bucks a seat outside. Doesn't that sound a little ridiculous? The Sox-Yankees rivalry seems to be coasting on its own momentum lately, there's really been very little to perpetuate it. It's like people are passionate about it because they SHOULD be, which hopefully will die down soon. Watching the game on TV is bad enough, camping out for tickets to see two innings of recognizable people playing is just plain sad.

    All right, so the game itself. Not a really great game for the Sox by any means, losing 11-7. However, the blame for the Sox loss goes squarely to two pitchers who let in 10 of the 11 runs and should be hunted down like animals. Let's take a quick look at some of the interesting performances

    GREAT Performances

    Bronson Arroyo: 3 innings pitched with one hit, he still faced only 9 though because of a nice 5-4-3 double play ball he threw in the third. He only struck out one guy, but the kid still looked really good out there. First, he's got a nice changeup to go along with his slider and fastball, which he'll need if he wants to start. Second, he only threw 21 pitches, and this was all against the Yanks best players, not the scrubs they trotted out later. I don't get how this guy was such a failure for the Pirates, he's pitched a perfect game in the minors for us and dominated major league hitters every time he faces them for us. I love the guy.

    Jose Contreras: Well, great for the Sox. 2 innings pitched, 5 hits, 4 earned runs. Also he gave up a home run to POKEY FRIGGIN REESE. I don't care how well he does against the Detroits and Devil Rays of the MLB world, the man is absolutely horrible when it comes to pitching against decent teams. NY can shuffle the rotation to make sure he doesn't face us all they want, eventually he's going to have to.

    Tony Clark: Words cannot express how much this man angers me. Today he had 1 less home run than he hit ALL SEASON for us. His three hits all chipped and wore away at the already tattered and ulcer-filled lining of my soul. Today that man took between 3-4 months off my life. Is it something in the water in New York? I just don't get it.

    Good Performances

    Brian Daubauch: Went 1/2 and struck out spectacularly for his out. He's currently the frontrunner for the 25th man slot, although Dave McCarty and his 84 MPH heater and 10 home run potential should not be discounted. I'd really like to see Daubauch come back, if only for sentimental reasons.

    Mariano Rivera: What the hell is wrong with this guy? He threw an inning and made every single hitter he faced look avsolutely silly. As much as I despise and hate him, it's really really difficult not to also respect the hell out of this guy.

    Unholy Bad performances

    Derek Jeter: Someone explain to me why Jeter's still at shortstop? Seriously. Gape Kapler hit a fairly easy grounder to Jeter, but not ridiculously easy. If Jeter had missed it, it probably wouldn't have been an error. However, Jeter then wound up, fired, and threw the ball about 10 feet short of first base. It was the worst throw I've ever seen him make, and he's made some bad ones. How big a team player can this guy really be if, knowing full well that he's a Godawful defensive shortstop and Rodriguez is a gold-glove winning one, he didn't offer to play third and let A-Rod play short?

    Mark Bellhorn: 3 times up, 3 strikeouts. Not only did he get the hat trick, but he also did it in nine pitches. AND he was swinging every time. It was the worst three plate appearances in a game I have EVER seen, it almost beats out Bret Boone for "worst offensive showing ever" (Last Year Boonie had a game where he went 0-5 with 4 strikeouts and an inning ending double play with a man on third. The bat he was holding that night belongs in the hall of fame)

    Performances that made me seriously consider building a time machine to go back in time to stab the player as an infant to prevent him from ever stepping foot on the mound in a Red Sox uniform

    I officially completely and utterly hate Jason Shiell. After Contreras got roughed up badly and Arroyo was done schooling Yankees hitters, Shiell sauntered out with this look on his face, like "I'm going to single handedly erase any memories of my last game where I immediately let in 2 runs to blow the lead for the Sox" And boy-howdy, did he ever. I inning, 6 earned runs, 2 home runs, and to make sure you people don't think I'm being unfairly harsh to the lad, 2 strikeouts. He now has an ERA of 36. Pitchers like Jason Shiell neccesitate some kind of mulligan rule in baseball, perhaps for 3 earned runs. "Well, the only pitcher we've got left is Jason Shiell, and it's the bottom of the ninth with a 3 run lead, so we'll just take a mulligan and go to extra innings rather than have this mutant scumbag immediately blow the game for us". I always make jokes about a hitter having a good day and driving in 5 runs in one plate appearance, I know this is physically impossible but I bet Shiell is going to find a way to allow it to happen. He has officially been designated my Official Pitcher to Direct Irrational Hatred At. You're safe for now, Reynaldo Garcia.

    In other Sox-related news:

    * El Duque has re-signed with the Yankees for a million base salary and quite a few incentive clauses. The Sox had also been interested in him, however it's going to be 2-3 months before he's in shape to be pitching, he's 38, and, oh yeah, he sucks. Postseason notwithstanding, the man is barely mediocre, and with 6 decent starting pitchers we don't need him.

    * Speaking of starting pitcher, BK Kim is apparently being somewhat murky about his current health, saying his back hurts a lot but still pitching, and alternately saying his shoulder really hurts or that it feels fine. Remember, it's his shoulder that gave him so much trouble from late September on last year, so this could be a problem. Hopefully it's one of those things that just goes away over spring training, like A-Rod's neck problems last year

    * Nomar and Manny will be hitting 4th and 3rd, respectively. This lineup switch is something stat heads have been clamoring for for a few years now, the logic being that Nomar hits a lot of doubles, which left 1st base open for Manny to be intentionally walked. Also, now Nomar can steal more and Manny will start seeing better pitches. I like it, hopefully it'll stick for the regular season and help out the offense a bit

    * Maybe you already heard about this, it's kind of old news, but apparently Curt Schilling doesn't like having home runs he's given up being thrown back in his face, even if it's in a joking, innocent, and somewhat stupid way like Kevin Millar did. I'm not sure what to make of this. Obviously Schilling wasn't trying to hit him. Having said that, he A) should have told Varitek he was going to do it and B)probably didn't need to. I love that this guy is going to be the clubhouse leader that our team desperately DESPERATELY needs, however throwing at your own guys with no explanation isn't the way to go about it. I know he's got great control, but he could have put Millar out for awhile with that stupid pitch, and like him or not, we need Millar. Apparently somehow this was all to prove that come crunch time, Schilling's got his teammate's backs and he's not afraid to give some retribution, however personally I've gotta say that was a pretty dumb-ass way to do it.

    * Last but not least, John Henry Williams died at age 35 today from leukemia. A part of me is obviously sad that the 35 year old son of Ted Williams died. Having said that, the much larger bulk of me doesn't care a great deal, seeing as how this is the same sicko who had his dead dad cryogenically frozen and convinced his senile alive dad to wear a baseball hat instead of a Red Sox hat for the 99 All-Star game at Fenway park. He also turned Ted Williams into a small business of his own, having thousands of bats and gloves signed to be auctioned off at insanely high prices. So yes, it's obviously a shame that he died so young, however we didn't lose a great baseball icon or anything.

    Mets Game Recap (ST) 3/6

    Dodgers 6, Mets 2


    Edwin "Action" Jackson 1, Pedro Feliciano 0

    I'm not sure what this says about me, but my entire day was made when I got home from work and verified that the VCR had decided to accept my sacrificial offering of a DVD player in lieu of devouring my tape yet again, and had successfully recorded the afternoon Spring Training game.

    It was a particularly long day, so it was nice to pop the tape in, sink into the couch, and just relax to the familiar sights and sounds of Mets baseball, which tonight manifested as garish orange blurs and Fran Healy exultantly mispronouncing "Encarnacion". With that fond backdrop for an evening in mind, imagine my irritation when the picture locked on an image of an almost certainly fake palm tree in front of predictably ugly Tradition Field. "We're having some difficulty with the feed," I hear the non-Healy voice admit. "We're working on it." My spirits took a hit after listening to the TV broadcasters attempting to offer radio-quality descriptions of the game, exposing the difference between the two as roughly equivalent to that between a blank canvas and a beautiful painting. I was still hopeful for a pleasant viewing experience until that same disembodied voice chimed in with, "You know, what I find surprising is that the Dodgers are breaking the rule for ST games that says at least four regulars should play in each game. They're not playing any tonight!" He quickly dashed the last of my hopes by adding, "Surprisingly, James Baldwin will be starting the game for the Mets tonight, as it looks like Jae Seo was hit by a ball during the warmup. It's nothing serious, just a little precaution to make sure he's OK and you folks at home continue to be disappointed with the quality of this game."

    Finally they got their transmission fixed or persuaded Ralph Kiner to wear pants, and I got to see most of an entertaining if not very satisfying ballgame. Here are my thoughts:

  • Reyes cracks a single early down the right field line and the ball rolls over into the expansive foul territory and warm-up mounds. He tries his patented move of stretching what is for anyone else a single into a no-doubter double, and fails because the right fielder - Franklin Gutierrez, I think - navigates the mounds, scoops the grounder cleanly, spins and uncorks a perfect bullet a step ahead of our hero. It took an amazing play to get him; that's how fast and aggressive Reyes is. I'm more awed than worried by his attempts. They provoke the same invigorating shock that a basestealer does when he starts his charge, and I hope he has the judgment for both moves.

  • Piazza made a nice stretch off the bag at first, splitting himself awkwardly in a lunge toward home plate after an errant McEwing throw. It was a good play, nothing more - yet because it's Piazza all I could think of was him busting something. (This reminds me: there are several phrases I'm already looking forward to hearing every five seconds while watching Met games this year. One is "organizational philosophy" - particularly when described erroneously as a single word, as in "If I can sum up Rick Peterson's contributions in one word, that word is organizational philosophy". Another is "groin area", when used in reference to Piazza's horrific injury last season. Apparently there's a need to fill the uncomfortable silence that crops up after the word groin is spoken aloud. Honestly though, tacking on "area" to groin actually makes me take more time to think about it, which is probably the opposite of the speaker's intention. Hopefully Piazza's "crotch region" will remain intact and I will never write about this again.)

  • Baldwin looked hittable yet not particularly horrible. He made some nice pitches, too. Shouldn't be a candidate for the fifth spot, even if the only qualification necessary to nail it down is looking hittable yet not particularly horrible.

  • Legion Commander Cornelius Cliff Floyd stepped up for his first at bat with the intention of hitting a home run. Every swing was designed to kill the ball. He grimaced after fouling off a few fat pitches, then promptly connected with the same all-or-nothing swing and rocketed one over the fence in right field. Afterwards he threw on a headset and talked about feeling healthy and how he enjoyed being a dad, how his "girl" let him come down to Florida without her and the baby for a few days to get into the "whole Spring Training thing", how she was coming down soon. He was smiling and candid despite a quick, muttered way of speaking, and flashed a sense of humor. Healy brought up something about replacement umpires for some reason, and Floyd started to say, "Yeah, well, it's good to have these guys here, they're doing a good job -" and then the Met pitcher was squeezed on a strike call - " - except for that last call," he finished, not missing a beat.

  • In his first at bat, it looked like Jason Phillips squared to bunt with no one on. Frozen water runs faster than Phillips. I'm going to assume my eyes must have been mistaken. That, or he missed the initiating signal "Under No Circumstances Should You Ever" and only caught "Bunt".

  • Our defense's middle appears about as solid as Don Zimmer's, but the bad thing is it also seems to have the same probability of catching and holding onto a baseball. Reyes and Cameron both made errors today, legitimate ones, chucking the ball away with their gloves. Cameron also had a chance at a play at the plate, but launched what the broadcaster described as a "rainbow". What always impresses me about major league outfield arms is their ability to throw very far yet keep the ball's arcing to a minimum. I can chuck a baseball pretty far, but most of the time I fire off "rainbows" like the one Cameron showed off. Not a good day for him. I know Reyes is learning a new position, but he still makes too many mistakes on simple balls hit right at him for me to think he'll be very good defensively this year. Once he can combine solid defense with the quickness and rifle arm he's displayed at times, then I'll jump on his defensive phenom bandwagon. Then, or when someone proves my casual observations wrong by showing me his UZR is point five oh niner squiggly line x.

  • Edwin Jackson, the Dodgers' best pitching prospect, is the real deal. He throws heat, and his offspeed stuff has crazy movement. He threw three perfect innings, and not Scott Erickson innings (ie, lucky ones) - he made the Mets look stupid. I think I hate strikeouts and foul pop-ups more than any other outs. Hopefully we won't face Jackson much.

  • I'm a big Pedro Feliciano fan. He had a crummy day today, but I'm confident he'll turn into something good for us. I'm slowly learning to recognize our young pitchers by their deliveries, and in Feliciano's case, awful facial hair. Pedro looks like he hammered a black squirrel to death with his chin at some point in the offseason, and hasn't removed its carcass because he either hasn't noticed it's there or is just waiting for someone to comment on it so he can go Karim Garcia on them.

  • John Franco came on a little while after Feliciano struggled (Pedro started off well but hit a batter and unraveled after that) and gave the crowd something to cheer about. He struck out the side. I'm as skeptical about Franco's chances for success as anyone else, but he looked good. Afterwards he strapped on the headset and fielded some questions. Franco's a great talker, doesn't use too many cliches and isn't afraid to joke around. He was asked about Peterson's influence and said something I found surprising, which was that Peterson had helped him tweak his mechanics (by keeping his hands lowered, or in sync with his legs if you're curious), and also revealed that Peterson had been working with Leiter's as well. I always looked at Dr. Rick as someone who'd help our young guys out a lot, but who probably wouldn't have much to offer to the veterans. Or maybe I thought that the old guys wouldn't want him messing around with their mechanics or sticking glowing ping pong balls on their shoulders. It's cool to see that even the older pitchers are willing to work with him; maybe his techniques can wring a few more surprising seasons out of our aging staff.

  • Jeremy Hill looked very good in two innings. His delivery is very recognizable- it looks like he pushes the ball with his arm, like he's throwing his body at the plate. Someone to watch, even if his success came at the expense of the scrubs of the scrubs of the worst-hitting team in the majors.

  • I got another chance to see David Wright at the plate. He couldn't handle breaking pitches at all, and struck out to end the game. But he's young and he'll hopefully have plenty of time to adjust, if Wigginton can keep hitting frozen ropes (anyone else hate that expression? Makes me think of a Russian circus act). I'm sure he'll get better with time and effort, two missing ingredients that might have improved my ability to weave disparate and irrelevant thought chunks into a cohesive post.

  • Thursday, March 04, 2004

    2 oz. maple syrup, 1 oz. flaxseed oil, garnish with lies and lemon wedge

    With the steroid controversy alternately looming and hovering over the glorious first days of Spring Training, the Mets' unwillingness to improve their performance illegally (as well as traditionally) is a welcome breath of fresh air.

    Or it would be, if the reason our team's premier slugger doesn't use steroids is that his attendant yoga guru is more Balki than BALCO and has him convinced special potions containing flaxseed oil are what he really needs to give him an edge.

    Piazza said he offered to catch yesterday, but Art Howe declined and planned to hold him out until tomorrow. Piazza partially faulted dehydration - curious since his yoga instructor/nutritionist, Anderson Bourell, trails him with a jug filled with a special potion containing apple-cider vinegar, Grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper and flaxseed oil.
    Anderson Bourell breaks the first rule of hiring dependable lackeys, namely that you can't trust anyone whose first name is really a surname. It could be worse, however. He could use a first initial (T. Anderson Bourell) or have a hyphenated last name (Anderson Bourell-Smith).

    I hope you appreciate the contempt with which this portrait of Mr. Bourell has been drawn. Rubin makes him sound like he scurries around after Piazza with twin clay jugs balanced on his head, his hands busy grinding up pixie dust and bat guano in a pestle and mortar inscribed with Celtic runes. Oh, sure, just because the guy's "unconventional" and "uses Grade B maple syrup", he's suddenly a crackpot. That's the kind of immature headhunting I've come to expect from New York journalists. Surely if writer Rubin could hear what Mr. Bourell had to say about nutrition, he'd come to respect the man's unprecedented authority in the nascent field of sports potion-brewery.

    Maybe not.

    "The difference is like having a dry piece of spaghetti or wet piece of spaghetti," said Bourell, who carried an extra jug containing water yesterday, referring to dehydrated muscles. "The main thing is diligence - be as hydrated as you can."
    Who is this guy? Why does our star player employ such a goddamn useless charlatan? Cayenne pepper? That's refreshing! Nothing speeds the body up like maple syrup! Apple-cider vinegar - does a body good!

    Jason Giambi's trainer is no longer allowed in the clubhouse, so Jason will have to get his tubes of testosterone cream or whatever it is sane baseball players use before he gets to the ballpark. I'm hoping the Mets go one step further and take out a restraining order on Mr. Bourell before he has Mike turning his bats into Wiccan totems and seeking spiritual reconciliation after sleeping with his girlfriend.

    Well, at least there's still time to head off the totem thing.

    There is a spring in my step (Get it??????)

    12 PM: Today's the very first Sox spring training game of the whole entire season, so look forward to a blog entry today in a style blatantly ripped off from The Sports Guy It's D-Lowe versus the Twins, and while the recognizable non-Japanese players who are older than 19 will be gone by the 3rd inning, it'll still be fun to watch.

    7:00PM Sp far my entire day has consisted of waking up at 12, and watching the entire first season of Seinfeld with my friend Dan. That's literally it. Also there's currently a brawl of sorts going on over the TV, because a pointless Bruins game will be on at the same time as the Sox game, so look for an occasional update on the B's game to appease the whiney bastard enough for me to check on the Sox game every once in awhile.

    7:05 PM Kyle Lohse is on the mound, 2 pitches into the at bat Gabe Kapler grounds weakly to first. He still looks ripped though! Trot Nixon is out tonight with a strained buttocks, Damon has a strained elbow. Coincidence? God I hope so. Also we've got Jerry Remy commentating tonight, so it looks like he came out of his back surgery fine and dandy.

    Bill Mueller's doing a better job, fouling off balls with that ridiculously long swing of his. His out was somewhat more impressive, a crushed ball to center field that Torii Hunter pulled in easily.

    Third up we've got Manny, Lohse seems terrified to pitch to him. Walked him on four pitches. What're you doin', Lohse? Nomar, on the other hand, he's going right after. And, of course, he served up a wicked hanger of a curveball that Nomar fouled straight back to the backstop, right before he struck out. Thank goodness it's early enough in the season that Nomar's horrible timing and ackward looking swings can still be brushed off.

    7:12PM Wow, Derek Lowe only struck out 110 batters in 203 innings last year? AND he had a 4.4 ERA? How the hell did we win all those games? At least the first inning is looking like a quick and easy one. Also, D-Lowe is throwing 94 MPH somehow. Fix the damn radar gun.

    How much do I love Sean McDonough? Nomar actually got called out on a check swing that he moved like an inch, horrible call. They showed a replay after D-Lowe finished his 1-2-3 first. Sean's comment "Wow, Chuck Merriweather (Home Plate Ump) is already in his midseason form, I see"

    7:22 PM 1.5 innings in the books, no hits. How the hell am I supposed to write a blog entry about this crap? Also David Ortiz appears to have swallowed Carlos Baerga over the offseason. That "Mo Vaughn Junior" crack better not come back to bite me in the ass.

    7:27 PM Lowe's velocity is down to 83-85 MPH. Splendid. It's working though, still no hits for either side. Part of hte problem may be that the umpires all seem to have better things to do tonight than call a baseball game, as any possible oppurtunity to call an out is being used.

    7:32PM Lohse is out, Brad Thomas is in. Pokey Reese promptly struck out at a chin high 93MPH fastball. Way to go, Theo.

    Kapler just busted up the no hitter for the Twins. Does Bill Mueller not understand sign language at all? He always stares at the third base coach for at least 2 minutes while chewing his gum slowly and thoughtfully. Perhaps he took a long time because he was confused as to why the third base coach would flash the sign for "Hit a popup as far as humanly possible"

    7:47 PM Jason Shiell has relieved and let in two runs so far. How is he even practicing with us? Did no one watch him at all last season? He'd always come out in the 6th or 7th inning of a blowout game and would either turn it into a ridiculous blowout for the other team or a save situation for us. End of the third, 2-0 Minnesota. Thank you very much Jason.

    7:53PM I take back that mean comment about David Ortiz, I've still got an open position for an official hero this year and Ortiz is the frontrunner. He CRUSHED a ball to far right field and stood there admiring it for a few seconds until he realized it was a line drive that was also going to be about 4 inches too low for a homer, so he thundered over to second just barely ahead of the throw and came up with a sheepish look on his face. Also, perhaps it was a bad camera angle, but he didn't look as fat after that double.

    7:56PM Bases loaded, two out, Adam Hydzu at the plate. TOTALLY unexpectedly, he fails to drive in a run with a weak fly out. Pinch hit Daubuach or something, dammit. Who's feelings are you going to hurt? Hydzu's one of the dozen 30-34 year old AAA losers we keep around for if the Sox charter plane goes down in flames or something.

    8:04PM Some pitcher with the last name Brown is currently on the mound. Who's this guy? It's tough for me to keep track because apparently in some alternate universe I've accidently crossed into, a Bruins-Rangers game is more important than the first organized Red Sox game of the year and therefore should get the bulk of the TV time. Something tells me Nameless Brown won't be someone I'm seeing a lot of, as he's given up two straight hits to start the 4th.

    8:10 PM Now Brown has loaded the bases with one out. I seriously hate this man, get him off my team. To change subjects Joe Mauer is at the plate and I like the way the kid looks, he's not swinging at anything outside the strike zone. Unfortunately for him, he IS swinging at the only decent sinker Brown threw, resulting in a Crespo-to-McCarty double play that got us out of a jam. Nice.

    8:14PM YEAH POKEY, YEAH BABY!!! Same pitch (Collarbone level fastball) and Reese singles cleanly into center. Maybe he'll be all right after all. It's really weird seeing Daubauch up to the plate again in a Sox uniform. First at-bat he hits a ball right down the line and scores Reese, 2-1 Twins now. Daubauch is indeed my daddy, once again.

    Cesar Crespo's AAA numbers: .267/7/56. Those are HORRIBLE. What on earth is this guy doing hanging around? We've only got 40 roster spots open, can't we just give an honorary one to Wally the Green Monster or something? It'd mean more to the team than Crespo's spot. He DID kind of-sort of fly out well enough to score Mueller, but that's mostly because whoever's currently manning right for the Twins has the worst Noodle arm I've seen since Johnny D. Also any Sox scoring threat is over as Kevin Youkilis, in his first at-bat I've ever seen, popped up to the catcher. Pop ups are going to be a problem for the Sox again this year, methinks. 2-2 Sox.

    8:28PM Current LOOGY candidate and frontrunner for "Worst Last Name Ever" award Tim Hamuylack started the bottom of the 5th by striking out Matthew "Wait, isn't this beer league softball? Oh well, I hit a homer anyways" LeCroy. The rest of the inning went just as easily, an easy 1-2-3 affair. Mark me down as a Hamuylack booster.

    For those of you who searched for "Boston Bruins" on Google and came to this site accidently, two bits of news for you.

    #1. Halfway through the game the score is Bruins 0 Rangers 0.

    #2. You watch the worst professional sport ever created.

    8:40PM 1-0 Bruins now, Joe Thornton lasered the puck past hapless Rangers goalie Mike Dunham. This marks an NHL record of "Players involved in a play whose last names I can pronounce".

    Reynaldo Garcia is on the mound for the Sox now, you might remember a recent post I did regarding his future with the team. If I recall, I was cautiously optimistic about his effect on the team. I couldn't bear to watch his inning so I instead watched Thornton easily score a 2nd goal against the Rangers, making the score 2-0 in that game. Coming back for the top of the 7th I saw it was still a 2-2 score, which means that Garcia obviously has been taking his chicken tongue and lizard gizzards as was prescribed by the Haitian medicine woman he consulted during the offseason.

    8:51PM Jeremy Owens just struck out on the most bullshit check swing strikeout I have ever seen in my life. Chuck Merriweather is already up to his insane antics behind the plate and I can only sincerely hope that he's not going to end up blowing another critical call for us during a Yankees game. Kevin Youkilis grounds out, Daubauch strikes out. This is officially the most boring spring training game in recent history.

    9:03PM DAMMIT Minnesota scored. Randall "Kolter" Bean is currently on the mound, he gave up a moonshot to Torez to make the score 3-2 Minnesota. I'm going to go storm off for awhile and try to remind myself that this game will never, ever make a smidgen of difference no matter how much I'd like to think meaningful baseball has started.

    9:12PM Got back just in time to see Terry Francona have Dave MacCarty attempt a bunt. Seeing over management in SPRING TRAINING like that doesn't give me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at ALL. I'm waiting with baited breath for the first inning we use 4 pitchers in, or the first strike-out throw-out double play on a botched hit and run during a big inning. Grady Little was great for those. And yes, I know I just ranted about Francona UNDER managing and not pinch hitting for Hydzu earlier. Just shut up.

    Speaking of Hydzu, he just drove in a run with another weak grounder that the Twins third baseman booted like a clingy groupie out of the bed. 3-3 game now. Do extra innings happen in spring training?

    9:20PM Some guy named Medrano walked after swinging late on three 84MPH fastballs from former Sox farmhand Kevin Tolar. This is why you're getting shuffled from AAA team to AAA team, big guy. You can't walk nameless scrubs with the bat speed of a 45 year old crippled turtle. Bases juiced, 2 out.

    Owens got an infield hit, 4-3 Sox! This is also the worst rally in the history of Grapefruit League baseball, the crowd is mostly asleep. (Granted, it's 9:20 at night in southern Florida, the elderly who didn't die from the heat are all probably pretty tired at this point) We're at the middle of the 8th. time to start warming up Foulke.

    9:24PM Who the hell is Anastacio Martinez and why is he coming in in the 8th to preserve a 1 run lead? Williamson and Foulke need work too, dammit. Okay, my crack sources inform me he came over in the Scott Sauerbeck deal. Weren't all the players the Sox received in that deal dumped into the Charles River and forgotten about? That trade still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Update: Martinez has an EVIL curveball. Kevin Youkilis just made a sick play at third. What a great 8th inning, so much different than the 8ths I recall from last year.

    9:31PM Bruins still lead 2-0 and are still boring. Just in case you were interested.

    9:36PM 4th string catcher Andy Dominique just hit the 1st Red Sox home run of the season. Good to see it was him and not 5th string catcher Michel Hernandez. Seriously, who the hell has a fifth string catcher? Screw you Theo. 4-2 Sox.

    Bruins are up 3-0 on a goal Segei Gonchar, a recent Bruins pickup. I have been assured that someone, somewhere, gives a shit.

    9:40PM Some dude with the last name "Hebson" has come out in the bottom of the ninth to save it for the Sox. First out, a bobbled one hopper back to him that still beat the runner at first by about 20 feet. Players not hustling down the line down 2 runs in the ninth during spring training? THAT'S what's wrong with this game.

    Second out, a CRUSHED foul ball resulting from either a hung curveball or a throw back to the ump for a new ball, not sure which, followed by a strikeout on a John Burkett-esque hanging meatball.

    Third out I missed, but I'm getting sick of this anyways. Sox win 5-3, with the loss going to Kevin "Fatso" Tolar for a bit of extra pleasure. All in all, a great game (from what I saw) I saw a Manny Ramirez walk, a Nomar Garciaparra popup, and Derek Lowe pitch 2 scoreless innings in March instead of sit at home and try to scratch his cancerous nose off. I'd prepare to see a lot of this posting pattern, a justifiably angry Mets posting followed by a semi-pompous Sox posting.