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Preview: 3,079 Miles to Fenway, 3,448 miles to Yankee Stadium

3,079 Miles to Fenway, 3,448 miles to Yankee Stadium

The distance between the two Neil's homes and their favourite ballparks as they continue to argue over all things Yankees and Red Sox. 2005 brought no success, nor did 2006, will 2007 be the year for one of us to gloat about winning the World Series?

Updated: 2017-09-29T10:17:58.772+01:00


We have moved!


Hey Guys n Gals.

We have moved and relaunched our baseball musings for the 2009 season. If you are interested in reading what we have to say then please go over to our new home at Down to the Final Strike.

Our new home will still be concentrating on what is going on with the Yanks and the Sox but it will also have lots of general baseball chatter as well as a good healthy sprinkling of fantasy baseball chat and both of us are huge fantasy guys.

I hope you have enjoyed the blog over the past four years (well to be honest - mostly 2005-2007) but now I'm free of my contractual obligations elsewhere I can return to blogging. I hope you come over to our new home and enjoy reading what we have to say.

Beaten to the punch


One of the reasons I have been blogging less is that by the time I get home, read my daily selection of blogs for most teams in the league, most things I have wanted to say, have been said.

But some times, I want to say something so badly, I don't care that someone has beaten me to the punch...
We want to like young players, right? Sometimes they don't make it easy for us, though. Jonathan Papelbon, who seems like a pleasant enough fellow, has now joined the chorus of young players whining about being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know it's unfair to expect these guys to know how lucky they are, compared to coal miners and teachers and ditch diggers and shoe cobblers. But at the very least, Papelbon and Prince Fielder and Cole Hamels might look at their peers in the other professional sports and realize just how good they've got things. They'll enjoy longer careers and will, after serving their six-year apprenticeships, enjoy almost complete freedom. Oh, and after retiring they'll never have to work another day in their lives.
The above is taken from Rob Neyer's Monday Mendozas (sadly behind the Insider curtain).

When I read Prince Fielder's quote...
"my time is going to come. It's going to come quick too"
I screamed (silently), and grumbled like the old man I am becoming, and muttered to myself that I should blog about this because it drives me crazy...

When I read Cole Hammels quote...
"It's about respect, and when people don't show that to you, you're caught off guard. I thought it was a low blow"
The low blow in question was a $500,000, 1 year deal. Again, I screamed (not so silently), and grumbled... oh ok you get the picture.

But then when the Red Sox own character closer joined the rising chorus, I could resist no longer...
“Asked what would be a fair salary for this year, Papelbon had his answer ready.

“Ryan Howard got $900,000 in his third year,” said Papelbon. “There it is. It’s staring (the Red Sox) right in the face.”
So Papelbon, now used on a restricted basis because his shoulder wasn't able to stand up to regular usage in his first full year in the majors believes that Ryan Howard's 3rd year in the majors is a comparable benchmark? Well that is something we can test...

Using the Hardball Times as my source, let's just compare the win shares...

2007 Papelbon 12
2007 Howard 26

2006 Papelbon 18
2006 Howard 31

So, Howard was renewed at $900,000 having produced 31 win shares in 2006...

So actually, I agree with our dainty dancer, renew him at the same rate as Howard - at $29,032 per win share... or an annual salary of $522,000. The good news for Papelbon is that Howard's 26 WS were rewarded in arbitration with $10,000,000 or $384,615 per WS, so that would suggest a salary of $4,615,000 in a year.

Papelbon has shown himself to be money centric from the moment he came up - and it appears a WS win has done nothing to change his outlook on life.

Now players are clearly entitled to look out for themselves - his arm could fall off and he would be in trouble... but equally he could sign a 6 year deal, and have his arm fall off... would he volunteer to repay his salary at that point?

A slow news Sunday


Two interesting news stories for the Sox on Sunday.

Firstly, Terry gets his contract... as much coverage as you need can be found here, here and here - no details of what he is being paid, but the honest truth is, what does it matter? Presumably the Sox ownership team think their manager is worth whatever they have coughed up, presumably money assigned to pay the on-field management team is never affecting whether or not we can afford to sign any player - whatever level they are at.

And then the second story of the day - this one...

A former Cy Young winner signs up with the Sox - I think most Sox fans would have rather had this former Cy Young award winner, but this is a nice interesting insurance policy. I can't imagine we will be getting much from him, but as an insurance policy to allow Clay to be effective in September and October... good job Theo!

What a difference a day (or two) make!


Does this count as news?

In 2003, we would be in full, full scale panic at this point.

But now, we can get excited about the prospect of some kid who has achieved so very little taking the mound every 5th day or so...

Who says two world championships in four years don't make a difference!

Neil M chiming in


As my colleague hinted at the other day, I am now working professionally as a writer. I am the man who has been charged with launching and growing the Network - a group of around 50 sports websites. I however will return to the blog to keep jotting down my thoughts on the Yankees and Red Sox (amongst other MLB related issues) throughout the season.

There is a baseball site on the network - Talk Baseball which is still being built. I have just commissioned work for pages about all the clubs in MLB - and I have done the New York Yankees page myself.

If anyone has any ideas or thoughts then please pass them on to me. Otherwise I shall try to follow my colleagues excellent recent blogging record and return to my old ways.

Overpaying as a strategy


Well the Mets got their man... a 7 year, $150m + contract will do that it seems.

3 years ago, the Mets overpaid for Pedro , which was justified by the Mets organization because Pedro made the Mets "serious" to other free agents in the market... the Mets seem to believe that it worked - I seem to remember that Beltran made noises that Pedro helped sway his mind (although he only came out with that after his agent was rumored to have offered the Yankees a discount) and I think Delgado made similar noises, although after a .258 / .333 / .448 line in 2007 for $14.5m, maybe the Mets would rather he hadn't.

So 4 years later - I think the Mets have overpaid again.

They traded away four prospects to obtain the opportunity to pay Santana as much as he would have gotten in the free market, and included a signing bonus to make sure he doesn't feel underpaid this year. The only argument against this is that he might have gotten marginally more in free agency next year - which is a maybe, if he had a fully healthy, no question mark year in 2008, but don't the Mets prospects outweigh that additional $x a year?

Will over-paying in 2008 have a better outcome than in 2005?

If he was a politician...


Rob Neyer's opponents would be using today's blogging output against him in attack ads by now!

Not surprisingly, Rob blogged quite a bit about the Santana trade today (sadly, all links take you behind the Iron Curtain... sorry the Insider fence).

In his first post today, Rob said:
I like what Baron Von Awesome said about the (pending) trade sending Johan Santana to the Mets for a quartet of prospects ...

"The Twins just nailed their own coffin shut today. They're doomed to irrelevance for the next five years, at least. This is the worst baseball trade I've seen since... I don't know. Kearns and Lopez for a bunch of relievers, I guess, but even then, Kearns and Lopez turned out not to be much to worry about. The Astros trading Dan Wheeler for Ty Wigginton and then releasing Morgan Ensberg comes to mind, but there wasn't nearly as much at stake; the Astros were already doomed to suck for the rest of the decade.

This trade is horrible."

I agree.

So just to summarize... the trade is horrible, Rob agrees - seems fair, I happen to agree as well!

So it was a bit surprising to read later in the day...

Don't be too quick to judge Twins

Didn't we do the judging already?

If I had waited a day


So it only needed one more click of the refresh button - Johan Santana appears to be on his way out of the AL, with the Mets winning an elongated battle for his services.

Considering the initial reports were that the Mets had no chance unless they included Jose Reyes, it seems that the Mets have gotten Santana for a steal - four prospects headed by Carlos Gomez and Deolis Guerra - all of whom feature highly on John Sickels' listing of the Mets prospects, but none of whom fall into the surefire 'A' rating.

On the surface this seems like an insane trade by the Twins - in order (if the Twins had actually been committed to the asylum and made me GM instead of Bill Smith) I would have taken the Yankees package headed by Phil Hughes, the Red Sox package headed by Ellsbury, the Red Sox package headed by Jon Lester, then the Mets package - but then we don't really know if any of these packages were ever truly on the table, and we certainly don't know whether any of them were on the table today.

But as a Twins fan, I would have to be thinking - this is all you could get for the best pitcher in baseball - really?

From this Sox fans perspective, this really is the best of all worlds - Santana is no longer in the AL, he is most definitely not heading to the Bronx - but he does get to pitch in NY (so I will get more chances to watch him), and the NY media will tweak the Yankees every time Santana has a great game and Phil Hughes has a stinker (not that I actually expect that to happen too often - the stinker part anyway).

And equally, while I am sure that the Mets are very happy to have Santana in their rotation - the Mets rotation before this trade was a heck of a lot of question marks, now it is one true ace and a lot of question marks. I am sure I am under-rating Pedro, Perez, Maine and Hernandez, but if Santana does push the Mets into the World Series, I am not sure that I worry facing that rotation (again, not to under-estimate the impact Santana has, clearly I fear the rotation more than I did yesterday).

A Power Outage


So if the heart of the Red Sox order was on strike, what on earth has happened to the pens behind this blog?

And clicking on the links in our UK Baseball Links, we are not alone - what has happened to British baseball blogging?

Well Neil M has a good excuse - his work in the written world is being done on a far bigger scale... me - not so much. I will get back to writing, although it may stray from the Red Sox and Yankees at times.

How can I not have written up the 20,000 words that I have shared in various IM sessions and blog comment boxes on the Texas Con Man? How can I not have written up the 50,000,000 refresh buttons that I have hit searching for news on Johan's trade... to anywhere in the world outside Minnesota? How can I not have written about the 3,400 hours I have spent in the Virtual Waiting Room, wondering why tickets that the Red Sox supposedly haven't put on sale yet (those wonderful Green Monster seats) are available for every game on StubHub... and wondering why at the end of those hours I still don't have any Red Sox tickets?

So I will get back to this soon - first steps first, if there are any British baseball blogs out there that I should be reading, and that we can link to the on the right hand side, please let me know!

A power outage


#3: 20th June
#4: 20th June
#5: 20th June

The heart of our order is on a HR strike!

There is now a widespread perception -which isn't really supported by the evidence (unless a sample size of 1 - that is, Abreu, Bobby - is acceptable to you) - that participating in the HR derby is bad for a power hitters swing. Given the power outage, maybe we could persuade Ortiz and Manny to take part in the derby, and get the opposite effect?

A long month


Neither Neil has had the energy to post in the last month - maybe because it has been a pretty uninspiring month of baseball from both teams?

The Yankees had surged since Neil M called the Yankees season over, but just as quickly found reverse gear and lost the ground that they had made up.

And since I last posted, the Sox have just been blah - a marginal losing record in June, means that the Sox remained at around 20 games over .500 at all times, and despite the first jitters that accompanied the Yanks pulling seemingly closer, a zen state has been re-established as they just as quickly retreated.

What has been evident in the last month though is that these Sox aren't quite the perfect team - but did anyone ever think they were?

When you are running out a rotation of Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield and Tavarez, you have one view of the world, when the rotation includes Wakefield, Tavarez and Gabbard, your view (or should that read my view) of the world is slightly less rosy.

When you look at a line-up on paper that includes Ortiz, Manny and Drew at its heart you have one view of the world, when you watch that trio on grass the last couple of weeks (albeit that Drew has been better, he has been better than he has been, not better than we expected), your
view of the world is less rosy...

When you take off on a seemingly difficult road trip and win series in Atlanta and San Diego, you have one view of the world, when you then get swept in Seattle (and have to search deep in your memory to think of the last win in Seattle) and then can only split a series against the Rangers (and proceed to make Kenny Lofton look like a dangerous threat), your view of the world is slightly less rosy...

And yet...

The Red Sox lead in the AL East has remained unchallenged, the best record in the AL has only come under threat by the Angels in the last couple of days... so who is complaining?

And when you look at the roster, what could Theo be looking at to improve? An upgrade at SS? In the OF? In the bull-pen? Well aside from the bull-pen, I don't really know that any of these are realistic positions to upgrade - when you look at how much better our players in these areas could perform, are we really going to get an upgrade at a realistic price?

Anyway, enough complaints from a guy whose team is 19 games over .500 as he types... I really need to learn how to be a relaxed Red Sox fan...

Perhaps I can learn that as I enjoy the sound of July 4th fireworks... on July 3rd... ? Any questions to Playland!

Happy July 4th!

Start the car - this one is over


I sat there last night watching the Yankees figuring out how they would lose the game. I knew they would find a way and boy they did. Two unearned runs, a straight steal of home plate, more un-clutch pathetic hitting and another lacklustre performance from the highest payroll.As Neil H pointed out to me last night after the game 'I just can't believe that they (the Yankees) are just this bad'. The way I see it on paper this is a terrifically talented team, what we are in isn't real life, we are sat in a computer game where the Artificial Intelligence has stepped in and decided that after so many great years - the player has learnt the game too well so the AI is taking over and crushing the poor player to choking loss after choking loss.Every little thing is going against the Yankees, I mean a straight steal of home by a guy with nine career swipes. You have to give credit to Posada who saw him coming very early but couldn't get Pettitte's attention and by the time the pitcher worked out what was going on, it was too late as Hill slid underneath Posada's tag.However the Yankees were still just one down and after two errors by the Blue Jays D in the 8th, the Yankees tied it up on a bloop RBI single by the aforementioned Posada - without him and the April version of A-Rod - this team would be toast - whereas at the moment they are just toast - d'oh. So the Yankees have two on against the Jays closer with Giambi and Abreu up but neither would do anything so the game stayed tied.A sac fly in the 8th by Rios off Proctor (run credited to Pettitte's record) saw the Jays take the lead for the third and final time and the Yankees never even looked like levelling it up again. A five game losing spin after a good series win over the Sox and this team is done. I don't care that there are over 100 games left to play - this isn't the NL where a bad team can win the wildcard - this is the AL where there are good teams.On paper this team is good enough to challenge for the AL East crown but in reality just too many players are playing well below themselves. You have to wonder who is to blame but it is hard to put a finger on it - some are pointing the finger at Torre but you know I won't. He isn't the best in-game manager - we all know that but being manager of the Yankees is about far more than that - it is about managing the clubhouse and the media and he does it better than anyone. Has he made mistakes? Sure, but so has every manager in the league, how do you manage a team with an oft-injured spark in Damon, a falling off the cliff Abreu, a free swinger who swings at strikes that might land in the Azore Islands in Cano, a vacuum at 1st, a banged up Giambi, and a patched up pitching staff?If you haven't got the chips then it is hard to win in poker unless you are a great bluffer - in the past we've bluffed with guys like Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon but those bluffs haven't emerged this season. The fault does not lie at the feet of the manager. Things have been spiraling out of control ever since the injuries started mounting up, is the blame at the former strength/conditioning coach? No - but that is where the chain-reaction started and we haven't been able to break the chain and move on to a level footing.More baseball tonight anyway - I wonder how we'll lose tonight - maybe a pitcher - possibly Farnsworth will of taken note of the games in NY last night and bulk in the winning run - that sounds like a new way for us to lose - we have pretty much used all the conventional ways to lose so we'll need to start stealing ideas off other teams.I am sorry to say but the Yankees suck - they really do.[...]

Blogging the Yankees - A Sox perspective


It really is difficult to know what to make of these Yankees - they still have a $200 million roster, that looks like a $200 million roster on paper, but the reality is such that you have to wonder whether this team is playing to its actual talent level.

Before the season started there were a significant number of question marks - the rotation being the main one, but also the lack of depth on the bench, and the potential for a team of 30+ year olds to start getting old at the same time. But did any of us, even the most rabid Sox fan really think that so many things could go wrong so quickly?

If you look at the hitting side - the Yankees were once again predicted to become the team that broke the 1,000 runs barrier, and yet here we are on Memorial Day with the team 6 games under .500 - should the hitting take a good share of the blame for the status of the Yankees? Well the team has scored 254 runs, good for 5th in the majors, and has put up a .275 BA / .353 OBP / .431 SLG, good for 5th / 4th / 11th ranking - at the current pace of 5.3 runs a game, this offense would rank no worse than 6th over the last 5 years, more than good enough to take the team to the play-offs. How does that deserve any of the blame?

I would imagine Yankee fans are not giving the hitting side a pass is the uneven distribution between players - if it weren't for A-Rod's start to the year, for Jeter's continued excellence and for Posada's surely unsustainable start... where might they be? Looking at the opening day 9 that posted 9 runs against Tampa, and comparing 2007 BA / OBP / SLG with career numbers, we can see that Damon (-15 / +15 / -122), Abreu (-67 / -89 / -203) and Giambi (-36 / -31 / -100), have really been hurting the team against their career numbers, particularly given their limited ability to help on the D. Now is this simply reflective of the fact that we are only 48 games into a 162 game season, or a sign that these 3 players have entered a marked downside in their careers?

On the pitching side... where to start? The team has clearly been unlucky - with injuries to established players and rookies alike, but you also need to ask whether or not some of the under performance could have been predicted. Pavano was always an injury risk, Igawa was always a performance risk, and Mussina, I would argue, was clearly at risk of both injury and performance - yet these three players were expected to provide 60% of the innings this year. While Mussina is likely to provide the innings, Pavano is done for 2007 and 2008 and Igawa has gone from Saturday afternoon hero in the Bronx to cold story in less than a month.

While Clemens can reasonably be expected to provide stable innings, the other miscalculations have led to an accelerated timetable for Phil Hughes. This may not in itself be a bad thing, but it may heighten the risk of him not developing into the pitcher projections have him as (not the injury, but the lack of development time in the minors).

One ray of hope - since 2002, there has only been one year in which the Red Sox did not have an advantage at this stage of the season - that ray is pretty dim given the largest advantage the Sox had held at this stage of the season was 2 games. Does that ray start to get brighter though when you consider that in 2006, between this date and the end of the season, the Yankees pulled out 13 games on the Red Sox...

How many games back are the Yankees right now?

This isn't very good


When those pesky Angels come into town - you worry as a Yankee fan. Three losses and a sweep later and things don't look very bright in the Bronx.

The Yankees have wasted two terrific outings from Chien Ming-Wang and Mike Mussina respectively. Tonight we saw vintage Moose getting ahead early in the count and expanding the strike zone, he left after giving up a walk in the 7th and gave the ball to Scott Proctor. The Yankee reliever had not allowed a run in ten outings but gave up a double, a walk, then a bases loaded walk followed by another bases loaded walk.

Proctor left with a 3-2 deficit to a Bronx cheer but then came the real big shock. As Joe Torre left the mound - he too was given a Bronx cheer. At no time in my life did I ever expect to hear Torre get booed at the stadium. As regular readers will know, I am a huge Torre guy and even today I could understand why he made the move he did. Mussina may of been throwing his best game of the season but his season high is 99 pitches and he was at 95. Proctor had ten scoreless outings on the spin but he did have a career record v Kendrick of 2 ABs and 2 doubles, I may of gone with Big Bad Brian Bruney.

Another disappointing defeat and the season is falling away but it isn't over yet. The offense still isn't clicking but one of the guys we need to hit is turning it around in Robinson Cano - who is riding a season high ten game hitting streak. Jorge is still hitting the ball well and A-Rod has hit four round-trippers in the past seven games. We need Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi to start seeing pitches well again and getting those free passes - if there are guys on base then pitchers need to be more careful and pitches will be crushed.

So the Red Sox sweep Texas and we get swept by the Angels - not exactly the best outcome for the Bronx Bombers - but tomorrow is another day and Matt DeSalvo goes for the Yankees.

Double Digits


Ten games back now and I think we can safely say the Yankees have been a tad sluggish out of the starting block. The pitching has turned around but the hitting has fallen off a cliff.

A-Rod has returned to that long swing after such a great April with his shorter, quicker, more compact swing. Bobby Abreu has been involved in a Quantum Leap episode and Dr. Sam Beckett has infested his body, Robbie Cano's plate discipline is on a par with Alfonso Soriano's and Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon are both battling injuries.

If it wasn't for your AL batting leaders, Mr Hip Hip and plain old Mr Hip then this team would be ugly.

I have been a cock-eyed optimist for a long while, saying there is a long way to go, which there is, but things have got to change soon, very soon.

Keep those wagons rolling...


Well both Neil's are happy this evening, though the one constrained by 5 hours and the lack of a Yankee's game doesn't quite know it yet! A very good win over the reigning AL Champs for NH, and the joy of owning Daisuke in a 6x6 fantasy league where the 6th pitching category is complete games for NM.

The last two starts from Daisuke have been the quality we hoped for as Sox fans during the winter hoopla - a combined 16 innings pitched, 2 runs (both solo shots), 3 walks (all in the Toronto game) and 13K - we would probably all have signed up for an average outing that lasted 8 innings with those kind of stats. More importantly, these two starts have been devoid of that one "inning" that had blighted his previous 4 starts - the Tigers had 2 men on in the 4th, but aside from that (even including that) there really was very little drama, no spots where you felt that one pitch may make the difference between the game unraveling and what we ended up with.

As a Sox fan who has never experienced the Sox win a division title - my starting point was 1996 - this team really does seem to have a quality that no other team in my Sox lifetime has had. Even in 2004, the team really didn't come together until the 2nd half, and if truth be told, it always seemed that the wild card was the route to the play-offs that year, even if it did get quite close at times.

And that quality is of course deep starting pitching - the 9 inning effort tonight continues the streak of strong outings by our front 4. You really do feel that every time out, these 4 will give the team a genuine chance to win that game. In Pedro's single year with Curt, we had that 2 days out of 5 (though if I am being honest, Pedro's 'decline', relative though it was, meant that I never really had that feeling with him at that stage of his career with the Sox), but never to this depth. I don't really expect this to continue all year - I think Beckett, Schilling and Wakefield may all regress at points during the year, but given health, it is hard to imagine all of them regressing at the same time, or for a prolonged period...

As I posted earlier in the season, it may be early but it is better to sweep, than be swept... well it is still early (and I may still be saying that in September), but it is better to lead by 8.5, than trail by 8.5! The Sox have had better records at this stage in previous seasons, 26-9 as recently as 2002, but have never had the Yankees this far back in their rear view mirrors. But the stark reality is, there are still 125 games to go, and a heck of a lot can go wrong in those 125 games - see Josh Beckett's hand for all the evidence we need.

One that got away...


Well that game was all wrapped up and safely in the loss column... and then, the O's manager made a big blunder.

That is the second time in recent weeks that our AL East opponent's manager has decided that he would like to give the Sox a helping hand - the first to do so was John Gibbons in Toronto, pulling Roy Halladay and allowing the Sox to get at the Jays pen.

Like that night in Toronto, there just didn't seem any need for Sam Perlozzo's decision today - Alex Cora had led off the 6th inning with a single, but three innings later, the Sox hadn't recorded another hit, and Guthrie hadn't allowed another base runner since issuing a walk to Crisp, also in the 6th.

In his post game, Perlozzo seemed to suggest that Guthrie was tired, but given he was effectively one ground ball to second away from the CG, wouldn't the sensible call to have given him one more batter - even if that batter had hit a HR, the O's would have still had a three run lead, even if he just allowed another base runner, a HR still has a 2 run lead... and Guthrie may have been a bit tired after throwing only 91 pitches, but the pen wasn't fresh after the day before either.

But who am I to complain - anytime the opposing manager wants to gift wrap us a W, I will just say thank-you, and move on.

Apparently though, if you follow the opposition team, you don't feel quite so charitable.

The Waiver Wire - Podcasts


Whilst the Yankees are getting a big L to take with them over to Seattle I thought I'd let you know about my latest venture.

I have gone and got myself involved in podcasting. Last Saturday Pete J from over at The Spurious World of Baseball and myself sat in a studio after I did a show and produced six podcasts. These were our first efforts but we are hoping next time to expend the features and the show itself.

This time around we just spoke about every division and how things are going. We sat there for nearly an hour and a half before deciding on a show name so we weren't exactly the most professional but we'll get better after a few stabs.

The AL East and Central are already on the site and then the other leagues will be drip fed in over the next fortnight or so. We think the next time we'll get together will be Saturday 26th May as we live a fair way apart so alas we can't do it weekly as it currently stands.

Ideas we have for next time include things such as discussing specific issues, listeners e-mails, fantasy stuff etc...

If you want to hear our ramblings/thoughts (in erm...sexyish English accents) then please visit the website. Any thoughts/feedback is most appreciated and if anyone want to contribute in any way then they can get in contact via our e-mail.

You never know - one day Neil H might join in the fun!

PS: I'm the rambling idiot speaking at a zillion slurred words a minute - you'd never guess I was voice trained by the head of the BBC voice training dept!

More on Clemens (has this blog ever had more blogging?)


The fact is with Roger Clemens is that he is a baseball player. 95% of Sportsman play for a team not because they love the club but because they want to earn a good living. There are those that have dreams of playing for one team and want to be known as a great Yankee/Red Sox/Portsmouth player but they are few and far between. Players want to earn money and want success, should they be held up to the same standard that we'd like to think we'd provide? No doubt I'd like to think I'd happily play for Portsmouth for 5k a week but if Fulham came in for me at 10k a week I wouldn't be surprised if I accepted it.As fans we'd do pretty much anything for our team and believe that the players on the field should be the same. The fact is though very few of them will and they will come and go to whoever offers them the biggest bit of silver. I have long accepted that this is the case, players come and go, manager come and go, chairmen and owners come and go but the clubs will remain.If in a hypothetical scenario a Portsmouth player did as you described then first of all I'd go annoyed at the club for not signing him to a contract, if they did offer one and the player chose to go then that is his right. No-one should be tied down to a club beyond his contract and that is why we have free agency on baseball and the Bosman ruling in football. As long as players give their all during their time at the club then who is anyone to get annoyed when they move on?My 3,079 Miles... colleague put forward this example, 'The analogy here for, lets say a hypothetical Portsmouth fan, is a player that Portsmouth brought through the ranks... who achieves dizzying success - one of the most sustained high level performers the sport has ever seen - but who gets stale from having been with the team for a long time... who states that he wants to move to Manchester to be nearer his family... then moves to Fulham... but who it turns out had an illegal agreement with Fulham to ship him to Southampton after a couple of seasons - you are telling me that the hypothetical Portsmouth fan would have just shrugged their shoulders?'Most Portsmouth fans would do their nut - I wouldn't. Player plays, sees out his contract, moves on. I had the same conversation many years ago with the former editor of Spurs FTT when he was putting together a protest when Sol Campbell returned to White Hart Lane. He saw Sol's move across North London as treachery but if you are a free agent they why shouldn't you take what you think is the best deal on the table for you?My colleague believes that I shouldn't expect rational behaviour from Sox fans but why not? He left and you won a World Series, a World Series without him.The best bit though in all this is if the Yankees did do the improbable and win the World Series, everyone will say the Yankees went out and bought it by spending all this money on the Rocket, yet as Simmons says, 'Honestly? I don't think Clemens will be that good for the Yanks.' So we've made a bad deal and Clemens won't be very good for the Yankees, so if we win it all then it has nothing to do with our $18.5m splurge on the Rocket as he won't be very good.And as Neil H pointed out, 'But heck I don't blame the Yankees - if the Red Sox had gone this long without a World Series I am sure we would be pretty desperate as well.' It's been six World Series since we won it all, it's an age, and if we are pretty desperate after six, how bad was Red Sox Nation waiting three generations?Pretty damn desperate would be my guess...[...]

Clemens is back - Part 2 - a (partly) emotional response


Well I think having a dig at Simmons for this is a bit rich - not quite as rich as Roger, but still.

Bill has jumped on Roger's Boston grave often enough to know that he is simply repeating a position that he has held since Roger first wanted to be closer to his family in Texas... and promptly moved to Toronto.

You can claim to love bitter fans all you like, but what do you expect? They shouldn't be bitter? They should act rationally because if he had signed with our team things would be different?

What can diehard Red Sox fans who actually witnessed Roger coming through the system, who witnessed the highs - and the very real lows - of following a hero for a very long time actually make of his behaviour? We are talking about a generation of fans who were in their early teens as he made his debut with the Sox, who considered Roger their player, who will have idolized him irrationally given their age and the impact that sports had on their life at that time... what do you actually expect?

The analogy here for, lets say a hypothetical Portsmouth fan, is a player that Portsmouth brought through the ranks... who achieves dizzying success - one of the most sustained high level performers the sport has ever seen - but who gets stale from having been with the team for a long time... who states that he wants to move to Manchester to be nearer his family... then moves to Fulham... but who it turns out had an illegal agreement with Fulham to ship him to Southampton after a couple of seasons - you are telling me that the hpothetical Portsmouth fan would have just shrugged their shoulders?

And then having actually moved to Manchester to have that final homecoming, he starts suggesting that maybe after all he would like to bury the hatchet, that one final hurrah with his old team would really be quite cool... and then... you know what, Southampton offered him more money, so he is going back there for one final stab at the Championship, in direct opposition to Portsmouth... given how fans react to local rivals... I am sure that the hypothetical Portsmouth fan would have just shrugged their shoulders and said... I love bitter fans, I really do!

I will update this post later for the links - but if you don't think that Roger has impacted how he is received in Houston, you need to do a bit more reading! If you think that Roger didn't impact his reception in NY the last time he left then do a bit of searching for NY Post and Daily News headlines from the time, or even Cashman's quotes on how Roger left without arbitration protection costing the Yankees a high draft pick... you may be the ultimate Clemens fan, but that doesn't make his behaviour any more pleasant to those of us who don't quite see his actions in quite the same rose tinted light.

As for his reception on Sunday in the Bronx... seriously? Those fans have been asked to watch pitching of such pathetic quality for a month that if Kevin Brown had stood in the owner's box and said he was coming back he may have gotten a half decent cheer.

But heck I don't blame the Yankees - if the Red Sox had gone this long without a World Series I am sure we would be pretty desperate as well.

Simmons weighs in on the Rocket


So I read Bill Simmons latest blog this morning and you've got to laugh. Red Sox Nation despises Roger so much and yet you know full well if he had returned to them things would've been oh so different.

3. He burned his bridges with yet another city (Houston). Love when that happens.

Yep - he certainly burnt his bridges with the Yankees when he left, he would never be welcomed back there, no way, no how - oh wait - wasn't he given a standing ovation by the crowd when he announced his return on Sunday?

Also he still has a ten-year contract with the Astros after he finally gives up pitching in 2019 or whenever it will be to work for them.

'8. We're coming closer and closer to my dream of Clemens' Hall of Fame plaque featuring a cap with a dollar sign on it. I feel as if that's a genuine possibility at this point.'

That has as much possibility as me asking out that 40 year-old nurse I'm lusting after and then her saying she's been waiting for me to ask her out for the past six months. It just isn't going to happen.

What I really love about everyone dragging up how much he's being paid is that everyone else in the world wouldn't get as much money as possible as they could for doing their job. If Bill is offered the same job with the same perks for SI or Fox or CBS at more money than he's currently on by a vast percentage then are we to believe he'd turn it down?

Rightly or wrongly here in the western world earning as much money as possible is kind of important. He doesn't need the money as he's set up his family and his kids kids, and their kids and their kids for life but heck if someone wants to offer him $18.5m or so for five months work with excellent perks and to pitch in the limelight and for a man he respects and with team mates who want him, then it is kind of a no brainer.

However, that isn't right, Roger is an evil money grabber blah blah blah.

I love bitter fans - I really do.

PS: For the record I don't expect miracles but I don't see Clemens falling off a cliff just yet...

Clemens is back - part 1 - correcting the errors


Well so many words have been written about the return of the prodigal Yankee, and I guess the sane way for me to break it down is to take it into smaller parts - otherwise you are reading a 10,000 word essay that will spiral between an emotional response and a factual analysis - both of which I will try and get to.However, one of the ways to respond is to look at some of the more ridiculous statements that have been made today... although sadly I cant give you a link to Michael Kay turning to Al Leiter in the YES booth tonight and asking, sincerely, 'So Al, what is the difference between the AL and the NL?'... and then even more remarkably, the letters D and H didn't feature in Al's response!They just had horrendous pitching. Until now, that is.SI.comThat all said: There's no question that the Yankees are a better team today than they were Friday morningBuster OlneyI appreciate these guys are going for hyperbole, but they do know that the Yankees roster is exactly the same today as it was yesterday right? Well not quite the same.Any Red Sox fan that tells you this doesn't make the Yankees a more dangerous opponent in a month's time is fooling themselves - but lets be honest here - a lot can happen in a month. In the same way that in the first month Wang, Mussina, Pavano and Hughes found out what the DL looked like, they could all do so again in the next month (except Hughes of course, who is likely to still be on it in a month)... and equally, so could one or all of Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield etc... and if the Yankee scenario plays out, then Roger, regardless of how he pitches, is not able to keep filling rotation spots. Nor does any of this account for the fact that Roger himself can get injured as he readies himself for the big leagues.And given that his return is a month away, where will the Yankees be in a month? We have four more weeks of the number 4 and 5 spots in the rotation being an absolute question mark every single time out - and it needs to be remembered in these 'better days' for the Yankees, that they are currently feasting on two of the worst teams in the worst league in baseball - hey not my assessment, Buster said so in that same chat today. When the Yankees finish this two week stretch, they will have to face the White Sox, the Mets, the Red Sox (possibly twice), the Angels and possibly the Blue Jays before his return - that is a number of very decent offenses that will enjoy the non - Wang / Pettitte / Mussina nights.But the best response to the signing came from one of Boston's own finest:After the Sox beat the Twins in Minneapolis yesterday, Schilling was asked his reaction to the Rocket's re entry into the Yankees clubhouse. Ever the blowhard, Schilling declared, "We don't need him" -- a comment of stupefying arrogance that is sure to come up a couple of million times between now and the end of the 2007 postseason.Boston GlobeI mean quoting the guy properly would have been too difficult?"It would have been nice to have him, but we didn't need him. We DON'T need him"AP Sports / YahooI appreciate that every Red Sox blogger has said this at some point in time, but the "author" of that article is the biggest hack that Sox fans have to put up with on a regular basis - why does the Globe believe that his talent is worth the utter garbage that he spews out on a regular basis?Anyway, remember when I said I would break this into bits so that it wasn't a 10,000 word esay... maybe I should have said, break it down into a serie[...]

Clemens thoughts


So when Roger Clemens took the mic and announced his return to the Yankees during the seventh inning stretch of the Yankees/Mariners last night, suddenly the balance of power shifted in the AL East.Lots of people have their opinions on the Rocket, from what I've read on various websites and message boards in the past 24 hours or so it seems pretty split. Yankee fans are pretty much overjoyed, they believe they've got an ace pitcher who can give them 20 or so very good outings for the rest of the season. He will probably take over innings that were going to be pitched by Kei Igawa or Carl Pavano, it would be hard to contend that the innings Clemens will provide wouldn't improve on those these two pitchers would've provided.Red Sox fans though are mostly seemingly quite happy they've dodged the Clemens bullet, they see him as a six-inning pitcher who'll get lit up in the AL East after facing weak NL line-ups for the past three years. I wonder if they would be saying the same thing should he of re-joined them for one final stint. That is something that we'll never know but I know what I think.It is a staggering amount of money and he has the special perks that he had in Houston. This doesn't seem to bother his team mates so why as a fan should I care? I have longed believed that the Rocket would return to the Bronx, Andy's return and Cano's number switch only furthered my belief.The question is now whether or not a staff of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens and Philip Hughes is a strong enough staff to compete for the AL East title and beyond. If everyone is healthy and pitching to potential then on paper, it is an incredibly strong rotation. Couple that with the Yankees everyday lineup and you have a team that look very impressive. The Bullpen though is of some concern but should the starters start to go further as health improves then the 'pen will get more time off. Rivera, Farnsworth, Proctor, Henn, Myers and Bruney look strong to me if they aren't being overworked and throw in a long man who can go a few innings of a time in mop-up duty, a Rasner or Igawa then the team is starting to look good.Baseball Prospectus has him going 127.2 innings with a 3.16 ERA. Rotowire at 122.0 IP and a 2.73. Baseball Think Factory has him at 179.0 IP and a 2.77 with Bill James 156.0 Innings and putting up a 3.12 ERA. These numbers were put together before the season started so even if you add a run for Clemens pitching in the toughest division in the league then it's still numbers that most Yankee fans will sign up for.However Clemens won't be back for a month, Hughes probably until until around the A/S break, and according to observers, by then the Yankees season will be all but over so it'll be a gigantic waste of time and money by the club.Personally though, I'll wait and see how it plays out.[...]

My boy the Rocket is back


Roger Clemens is once again a New York Yankee. The 44 year-old has announced to the crowd in the seventh inning stretch that he has returned to the Bronx for a second stint in the Bronx.

I am over the moon, help is on its way. Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Clemens, Hughes. That is how the rotation should stack up after the All-Star break.

I shall put together some more consise thoughts on the matter after the game.

Phil Franchise thoughts


I decided to stay up real late to catch Phil Franchise's start at Texas. Neil H is currently in Texas but had a work dinner he had to go to, otherwise he had planned to squeeze in the game and had things gone as well as they might - then he might've really regretted it.

Lets get this out of the way quick smart - Hughes was awesome. The Rangers through 6 1/3 had hit just one ball with any type of authority - and that ended up in a 5-4-3 DP off the bat of Kinsler. His fastball was blowing past hitters, the change-up that he is supposedly 'working on' was flat out nasty. All-Star and stud first baseman Mark Teixeira was thrown three straight change-ups, he swung and missed the first two by a foot and stood and watched the third blow over the heart of the plate.

The pitch count was low - 77 pitches through six innings and the way things were going - he was staying in until he gave up a hit. Then disaster struck, if you're reading this then you'll know what happened. He dug deep to pitch the best curveball he had to finish out Teixeira in the 7th and felt his hamstring pop.

It was a very sad end to a potential historical evening. Hughes was flat out dealing and had his hamstring not gone then I genuinely think he had a real shot at pitching the no hitter. It isn't like there were any fine defensive plays behind him, any time they got wood on the ball then it was either a lazy fly-ball or a ground ball straight at an infielder.

Hughes looks like he'll miss four to six weeks - and that is the best case scenario. People have been discussing whether or not Hughes should've been up but you all saw what he did last night - this kid is ready for the big leagues and I know he got injured - but injuries can happen anywhere at anytime whilst doing almost anything.

I feel for the kid but we got a glimspe at the future last night and the boy Hughes is most certainly for real. Maybe resting that arm for a month plus will be of great benefit later in the season, should we get to play in October but as they say **** happens and you just gotta get on with it.

But still - that kid can deal.