Preview: An Editor's Rant
An Editor's Rant
By The Editor-In-Chief Of FenwayNation.COM
Last Build Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2014 03:58:50 +0000
Tue, 08 Jan 2013 16:19:00 +0000
Regular visitors to Fenwaynation will all agree that I’m no baseball genius – I often have to ask someone to explain things to me and today is no exception. This year’s Hall of Fame voting results have just been released by the venerable Internet Baseball Writers’ Association of America (of which I am privileged to hold membership) and to this Internet Baseball Writer, one result is quite surprising – Barry Bonds received almost 51% of the vote.Pardon me? The Baseball Writers’ Association has a charter and that charter lists the rules for Hall of Fame selection – Rule 5 simply states: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played. Winstrol notwithstanding, it can’t be denied that Bonds possessed significant playing ability and it is a fact that he amassed some impressive stats, (including the single season home run record) – and all this crowned by what should have been a most joyous occasion throughout the baseball world – the Career Home Run Record. But this is not his legacy – nor should it be – the manner in which he attained those hallowed milestones has irreversibly damaged the game and I would expect that any right-thinking writer or analyst couldn’t help but recognize that fact. Yet, Bonds has received a not-insignificant proportion of the IBWAA vote his first time out and this confuses me.Take another look at Rule 5. Right after ability, you’ll see integrity and sportsmanship. In January 2007, it was reported that Bonds had tested positive for amphetamines. Under MLB’s weak-kneed amphetamines policy, which had only been in effect for a year, anyone testing positive would be required to submit to an additional six tests and undergo counseling. When Bonds was made aware of his test results, his immediate reaction was to blame the whole unsavory mess on a teammate – he asserted that the test results must’ve come from a substance he’d taken from the locker of his fellow Giant, Mark Sweeney. And even though Bonds later retracted this claim and apologized to Sweeny, it speaks volumes about the man’s integrity – or lack thereof. Incidentally, this is the same guy who withdrew his membership from the MLB Players’ Association licensing agreement, believing he could make more money elsewhere. He is, to date, the only player to do this.I’m sure that Bonds apologists – if they exist – would argue that cheating has existed in baseball pretty much since the Elysian Fields. And that’s true - cheating has even been tolerated to a certain extent, but as far as this writer is concerned, there can be no reasonable comparison between spitballs and sandpaper and The Cream and The Clear. I’ve been privileged to visit the Hall of Fame on several occasions and each time, I’ve been mightily impressed with the reverence applied to the true heroes of America’s Game. There now exists a tenuous, yet tenacious connection between Hall-worthy achievement and the recorded feats of those who used drugs. Enshrinement of Barry Bonds – indeed, of any player tainted by the steroid era will only serve to strengthen that nexus and weaken the prestige of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, not to mention the Game itself. And for this baseball fan, that would be a catastrophe, made all the more tragic by being completely avoidable. If it eventuates that Bonds does do well on the ballot, I would hope that those journalists who understand and appreciate Integrity and Sportsmanship will ask some hard, unvarnished questions of their voting colleagues. Because, sportsfans, this is one issue that will not simply fade away.[...]
Tue, 09 Oct 2012 19:58:00 +0000
Tue, 09 Oct 2012 17:46:00 +0000
The Canyon Of Zeros
Thu, 05 Nov 2009 20:42:00 +0000
Curt Schilling On WEEI:"Oh, let's all cheer up because A-Rod's come full circle now. He's got his ring, he's complete, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Listen, they’re used to it, and they have to accept the fact that no one outside New York is even remotely happy today. OK, the Yankees won. Move on. When does spring training start? When do we sign free agents?”
Fans, Not Mainstream Media, Have Long Memories
Tue, 07 Jul 2009 18:28:00 +0000
The adulation showered on Nomar Garciaparra on Monday night at Fenway Park says a lot about the gulf between the Red Sox fan base and the mainstream sports media in Boston.
In stark contrast to the minute-and-a-half standing ovation given by the crowd, the grudge mavens in the local sports media were still spewing the "Moody Nomar" propaganda and insisting that his 2004 departure somehow alienated fans.
Of course, it's always been all about the media on the Red Sox beat. You know, how the players treat them; how their reputations are helped or hurt by the success or failure of the team. They are as clueless today (as they scramble to find some readership on the Internet) as they were in the days when they harassed Ted Williams.
Thank goodness Red Sox fans are not so self-absorbed. They appreciate the Hall of Fame caliber career Nomar delivered while in Boston. They recall the spectacular plays in the field, the clutch home runs, the multiple batting titles, the constant hustle. Most of all, they remember the respect he had for the game and the Red Sox uniform.
Thank you, Nomar. We remember, even if they do not.
Thu, 30 Apr 2009 18:11:00 +0000
Initially, I hated them. Actually, I hated the idea
of them. The notion of changing one of the most iconic road uniforms in baseball was abhorrent to every "stick-in-the-mud" fiber of my being.
Why change the familiar red "BOSTON" script? (Bad enough that we lost the old Blue "blocky" lettering years ago) Why alter the overall simplicity of the road look? And adding a cartoonish "hanging sox" logo on the sleeve? Gag me with a fork-ball!
But then, as I followed the late night adventures of our Carmine Hose in Oakland and Anaheim and Baltimore and Cleveland, the darn things started to grow on me. Especially
the "hanging sox" on the sleeve! The way it was set off from the otherwise drab look gave the uniform a colorful dash. What was happening? I still had a little problem with the blue Old English script that replaced the red letters, but not really. Geez, the lettering kinda looks good, too. Uh-Oh!
OK, OK...I'm holding out on the stupid "hanging sox" on the hat. That's going way too far. The "B" is the "B" and will always be the "B". So, I guess if they bag the hat thing, I'm on board with the new look. Now, about those lousy new Fenway Franks.....
Frankly, New Dog Is A Major Disappointment
Fri, 10 Apr 2009 18:25:00 +0000
The Red Sox New Ownership Group (NOG) kept it under wraps all Winter. The Stealth Campaign to usher in the "New Fenway Frank" was an operation worthy of Ian Fleming.
If you're going to go the secrecy route to protect an exciting new idea, it better actually be exciting. Problem is, the product is not very good. In fact, it's pretty bad.
Last Wednesday night, a team of FenwayNation food tasters made a careful sampling of four New Fenway Franks—from different concession sources. This gives our research a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 wieners (at the 95% confidence interval).
OK, let's cut to the chase. The New Fenway Frank is meatier, longer and greasier than its beloved predecessor. However, contrary to the pre-introduction warnings, the taste
is not materially spicier or smokier. That is, until you get home, and the spiciness (now coagulated as extra grease) hits you like a lead box full of Hebrew Nationals.
Now, we have nothing against the KAYEM company (local makers of the new dog). In fact, we like
the idea of the meat source being closer to the end venue. But, NOG, please, give us back our less meaty, shorter, and cleaner-tasting Old Fenway Frank. It flat out tasted better. Lots better. Sometimes, "filler" is better than greasy substance.
If our Wednesday night test is any indication, your dog revenue is about to take a major dive.
It's The Sox—By A Smidgen Over The Rays
Fri, 03 Apr 2009 15:41:00 +0000
The consensus among the baseball cognoscenti is that the three best teams in baseball reside in our American League East. That may be a bit of an exaggeration—but not much.
For a number of reasons, we are picking the Red Sox to narrowly capture the AL East flag by a single game over the defending American League Champion Rays. The also-rans in the $1.5 billion mausoleum in the Bronx will finish out of the post-season for the second straight year—but will only be 2 games off the pace of the Wild Card Rays.
Our reasoning: First, the Red Sox possess the deepest 1-12 pitching staff in baseball. And, if you count the 2 or 3 slots in their minor league system, they are ridiculously well-positioned with up to eight legitimate starters. This has two benefits in a long, close-fought season. They can call up any of these kids to back-fill injuries or bad performances and they can deal any of them at the trading deadline for bargain-basement "Stimulus Era" help. Second, the Red Sox offense should generate just enough "Post-Manny" run production to complement the dominant pitching. Third, what should be one of the league's best defenses will allow for a lot of 1-run victories.
On the flip side, the Rays—while a wonderfully talented blend of youth and experience—are due for enough of a swoon that they will fall short of another Division Crown. The main reason will be the inability of their bullpen to put up the sick numbers they did in 2008—it just can't happen two years in a row.
Finally, our good friends in Gotham City will suffer from a non-existent bullpen (outside of Rivera), and the weight of the A-Roid fiasco. Add to that the excessive pressure on Teixeira to perform big in New York; the brittle $85 million body of A. J. "Burn-Out" and you have a recipe for splendid disaster. They're just so last century.
Bad Breaks Could "Injure" Sox Chances
Mon, 16 Mar 2009 14:26:00 +0000
When a certain third baseman from the Bronx went down with his hip surgery, the chances of your 2009 Red Sox capturing the AL East gonfalon went up exponentially. After all, we already had the best pitching staff in the division 1-12 (or 13); an offense (despite being "Manny-Free") that was as tough as they get 1-7 and, lastly, the "You Can Call Me" Rays were bound to have a sophomore swoon.
Ah, but then the dreaded Curse Of The Nurse hit. Julio Lugo tore up his knee; Dustin Pedroia strained an abdominal muscle at World Baseball Lite (we told you so!), and all of a sudden the Red Sox infield is about as deep as the lead baritone's voice on the Vienna Boy's Choir. Some guy named Nick Green is probably going to make it out of camp as the new Alex Cora. Nick Green
? Oh, my.
So, the lesson to be learned, Red Sox fans, is that (forget starting pitching) you can never have enough back-up infielders. What does all this mean in the grand scheme of things? Probably, that the Sox revert to an even shot to take the AL East—with the Empire about as likely to finish first. That's assuming that the Curse Of The Nurse doesn't re-visit that third basemen when he returns in May.
WBC Is Anything But!
Thu, 05 Mar 2009 15:11:00 +0000
Remember the great "New Coke" controversy of the 1980s? Well, for those of you too young to recall (or, old enough but with a life), Coke decided to foist a "new" taste on consumers that quickly became a marketing nightmare--turned out people liked the "real thing" just fine, thank you. The Coke people had to re-trench and re-brand their original product "Coke Classic"--which survives until today.
Which brings us to the World Baseball "Classic". Sorry, Bud, this monstrosity isn't truly world-wide; it sure ain't "classic" and it's barely baseball. First of all, the eligibility rules are so lax, that pretty much anybody could qualify to play for Team Uzbekistan if they dug hard enough into their ancestry. Second, the only thing "classic" about this is the classic disaster that could befall any number of clubs when their ace pitcher or stud first baseman pulls a hammy for God and Country (there are 15 Red Sox who could meet this fate). Third, with dumb rules like automatically placing runners on first and second after the 13th inning, it's more attuned to NCAA football than Major League Baseball.
Can we please all grow up, acknowledge the first WBC as kinda cute and all, and move on to adult stuff like the 2009 MLB season? And don't give me the "it's good for global baseball" baloney. Did anyone else notice the robust crowd of 2,405 who turned out for the Blue Jays-Team Canada exhibition yesterday? And that's in Dunedin, Florida, where there are more Canadians than anywhere else outside of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Please, let's end this silliness this year and get back to real baseball.
Pedro Ex Machina
Thu, 26 Feb 2009 20:12:00 +0000
While I have often been critical of the Red Sox New Ownership Group (NOG), their stewardship of the New England Sports Network (NESN) has been stellar to say the least. In particular, they understand the never-ending hunger of Red Sox fans to watch historic games over and over—be it in July or January.
I had the good fortune to watch a large chunk of one such recent telecast of the August 29, 2000 Pedro Martinez "1-hitter brawl game" at the Trop in St. Petersburg. In the midst of perhaps his most dominant year, Pedro ignited a classic brawl by plunking Gerald "Ice" Williams on the fourth pitch of the game. After the melee', (in which 5 Devil Rays were ejected), Pedro retired 24 batters in a row—coming within three outs of his first no-hitter (which eludes him to this day).
But Pedro's awesome display (routinely mixing 96 MPH fast-balls with devastating change-ups) was not what caught my attention. Rather, it was what occurred in the midst of a tough at-bat by once-and- future Red Sox catcher John Flaherty to lead off the 9th inning. As Pedro prepared to deliver his 2-2 offering, he paused to notice that his religious chain had broken and was dangling precariously from his neck. He grabbed at it, looked curiously at the detached icon and gathered it into his hip pocket. Can you smell what's coming?
On the very next pitch, Flaherty roped an opposite field base-hit into right-center on a blistering Pedro fast-ball. Said Pedro after losing the no-no: "I think my career is more interesting than one game". Holy smokes, I don't know about that!
Why John Henry Wants A Cap
Sat, 21 Feb 2009 16:25:00 +0000
How ironic that Red Sox principal owner John Henry is (once again) advocating a salary cap for Major League Baseball. This is the same guy who has made multiple millions (even in this crap economy) by leveraging hedge funds—arguably the ultimate in capitalism. So, why is he calling for a socialist solution to MLB spending?
Simple. In a rare literal analogy, he wants to force a "level" playing field by penalizing other successful franchises that have had the foresight to move into the 21st century by building new stadiums—something he will not or cannot do. That
is what now separates the Yankees from the Red Sox. That
is why the Yankees can afford half a billion in new player acquisitions. John Henry has seen the future and he is scared hitless. He sees his investment slipping away because he needs to squeeze 38,000 fans into a 1912 sardine can. Meanwhile, the Yankees unveil a state-of-the-art new venue this year that will reap a financial windfall and allow them to separate even more from the Red Sox.
John Henry's solution? Follow the logical lead of every other franchise (except the hapless Cubs) and build a New Fenway? Wrong, Fenway Frank breath! He calls for a Soviet-style cap on spending to protect his capitalist investment. Shame on him!
Beautiful People Discover Red Sox
Sat, 07 Feb 2009 14:08:00 +0000
It's OK, Trust Fund Babies, it's safe to like the Red Sox now. Keith Lockhart has sprinkled his cultural Holy Water on the local baseball nine, so now you can even show up at Fenway! Just think, the lush tones of "Shippin' Up To Boston" will now resound off the hallowed walls of Symphony Hall. "Sweet Caroline" will be heard with even more strings than when Neil Diamond recorded it.
Call me cynical, but frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a rat's you-know-what that the Pops have recorded a bunch of Sox favorites. Who invited them to the party? Oh, I forgot, there is a serious elitist strain that runs through our esteemed NOG—from their political leanings to their annoying "green" fetish.
I can hear it now from all the Beautiful People, "I say, Muffy, I believe that team over in Kenmore Square has won two of their championship things lately, perhaps we should pay more attention now that the Pops are involved". Pull-eeeze.
Fenway Opening Day: 2062
Fri, 06 Feb 2009 16:19:00 +0000
Recently, Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino stated that the final phase of FenwayPark renovation by the NOG (New Ownership Group) would be, in part, waterproofing the 1912 and 1934 "bowls" in the field itself. This would, he boldly proclaimed, keep John Updike's "lyric little bandbox" up and running for "fifty more years." Fifty more years.
So much for any hope I had of expanded leg-room (or any leg-room for that matter) in my cramped Grandstand seat. And completely forget about cup-holders and unobstructed views. At this rate, my son might not ever see these base amenities in his lifetime. It may fall to our grandchildren to have even a whiff of a state-of-the-art, 21st Century baseball experience in Boston.
I can just see it now, the Grand Opening of the New Fenway in 2062--the 150th anniversary of the old ballpark's debut. John Henry IV, and 89-year old Theo Epstein are on hand to cut the ribbon that will usher in a new era of Boston baseball. All across the region, orthopedic specialists bemoan the loss of a steady stream of gimpy knees, misaligned backs and stiff necks that were the loving gift from the Grand Old Lady on Yawkey Way.
So, let's enjoy the "ambiance" while we still can. Fork over the 85 bucks and drink in the discomfort!
Captain Tek Is Back!
Sat, 31 Jan 2009 15:55:00 +0000
Admit it, the whole Varitek Saga was starting to get a little annoying. Petulance and bad feelings seemed to be lingering on both sides of the negotiating abyss. But, deep down, you knew he had to come back. A bad market and a bad 2008 meant that no other team was going to cough up a 1st round pick for a 37-year old catcher.
But, of course, to us he is much more than just another old catcher. He is the Captain, he is the embodiment of what it is to be a Red Sox lifer. For God's sake, he literally went to battle with the
Icon Of Evil—mano y diablo. And that watershed event kicked off 2004's miracle championship run. Sure, his handling of the pitching staff might be a little overstated—but not by much. Just listen to Papelbon and Timlin and Schilling. This is not just blind loyalty they're spouting. They talk about a battery partner that knows more about the opposing lineup than they do—and about their own strengths and weakness against that lineup.
His offensive skills may have diminished, but his leadership skills are as keen as they were 12 years ago when he arrived with Derek Lowe in one of the biggest swindles in MLB history (thank you, Dan Duquette). I, for one, am thrilled that Tek will be patrolling behind the plate for at least one more year. The stars are now properly re-aligned.
Retire "The Babe" At Fenway
Sat, 24 Jan 2009 21:48:00 +0000
Lord knows, the NOG (New Ownership Group) has never been bereft of new and innovate ideas to promote their $700 million investment. But, since the departure of Dr. Charles for the Left Coast, they seem to be dragging a little bit on the creativity end. So, FenwayNation is coming to the rescue. Why don't we acknowledge perhaps the greatest all-around player to ever don a Red Sox uniform—one George Herman Ruth—by retiring his name (he never wore a number with us) on the right-field Wall Of Honor? OK, OK before you berate me for suggesting that we pay homage to a guy who is best remembered as a Yankee legend and the creator of a mythic curse, hear me out.
First of all, the curse was sheer nonsense—conjured up in the fertile mind of the CHB. And besides, it's broken already! Second, Babe Ruth was a major contributor to two of the three Red Sox World Championship teams he played on (1916 and 1918). In those two World Series, he pitched a total of 31 innings—notching a 0.87 ERA and 3 wins. And the one hit he got in the 1918 tilt was a triple knocking in 2 runs. In the regular 1918 season, in addition to winning 13 games as a pitcher (including 18 complete games), he batted .300 and clouted 11 home runs. But he won so many rings with the Empire, you say. Oh really? Actually he won exactly one more ring with the Yankees than the Red Sox (4 versus 3).
So, after we place #14 on the board next year some time, I say we add "The Babe" in 2012—the 100th Anniversary of the Fenway Park in which Ruth enjoyed his first taste of glory.
Masterson Is OK With Any '09 Role
Sat, 10 Jan 2009 18:56:00 +0000
In an exclusive interview with FenwayNation.com, Sox pitcher Justin Masterson said he was fine with the Red Sox plan to "stretch him out" as a starting pitcher, since he has had the mind set of a starter his whole baseball career. Despite pitching mostly out the bullpen in 2008, and despite plans to have him work in relief again in 2009, the Red Sox have indicated that Masterson will be working out this Spring Training with an eye toward possibly starting as well. With the myriad of injury-possible arms on the staff (Smoltz, Penny, Beckett), and the uncertainty of 2008's heavy innings load on Dice-K and Lester, having a strong young arm like Masterson at the ready (and Buchholz if he's not traded for catching) seems prudent.
Masterson, who was only scheduled for a "cup of coffee" role last year, became a major contributor in the club's run to the ALCS. He began his big league stint as a starter and was later moved to the bullpen. In 36 appearances (and 9 starts) last year, he compiled a 6-5 record with a 3.16 ERA. He yielded 20 fewer hits than innings pitched--often regarded as the best barometer of a pitcher's dominance--and improved his ERA later in the year after the switch to the 'pen. In the post-season, he was a revelation--posting a 1.86 ERA in 9 appearances.
The young right-hander spoke to FenwayNation during a break in his participation in a Jimmy Fund charity event at Jillian's Boston-- around the corner from Fenway Park. Masterson is a legitimate candidate for the "head-screwed-on-right" award, stating, "Start, relieve, it doesn't really matter to me. I just think it's cool being able to pitch in the Major Leagues." Actually, his presence at the Jimmy Fund event on a cold Saturday morning in January is really all the evidence you need.
More Than Ever, We Need A New Fenway Park
Thu, 08 Jan 2009 22:10:00 +0000
The dramatic and depressing loss of free-agent Mark Teixeira again throws the spotlight on the 800-pound gorilla that may tarnish the otherwise brilliant legacy of this new ownership group—the failure to provide a 21-century venue for the fans of the Boston Red Sox. If you needed further proof of the economic necessity of a New Fenway, just read John Henry's words: "... with a new stadium filled with revenue opportunities, they have leaped away from us again." Indeed. And what does that mean on a practical basis? No matter how lustful Young Theo is for a given player, the Empire has the financial wherewithal to blow us out of the water. They can charge $1200 for one box seat in their palatial new digs, while we slave-drive Janet Marie Smith to creatively shoe-horn 38,000 into a near 100-year old relic. A cool relic, to be sure. But a relic nonetheless. I love Fenway Park as much as anyone—I grew up watching Ted Williams and Frank Malzone and Jackie Jensen play there. But even my experiences were half a century ago! When will we finally face up to the need for a bright, new spacious replica of Fenway Park? Perhaps, when the next ownership group finds itself perennially in the cellar of the AL East with no fans and no future.
Sox Winter Of The Whiff
Fri, 19 Dec 2008 13:57:00 +0000
Unless the Red Sox are pulling a "Dice-K Feint" and not an "A-Rod Flop", this off-season could be the worst ever since the NOG arrived in Beantown. As the Empire re-tools with half-a-billion dollars worth of starting pitching, the Red Sox have added a mediocre middle reliever—and nothing else!
They absolutely had to sign Mark Teixeira. The reason they lost the 2008 ALCS was the lack of a "Manny-Bat" in the line-up (and the loss of another bat in Mike Lowell). They had to add another fearsome piece of lumber and (apparently) they have not.
Wake up, Nation. Ichabod Henry has already warned you that the economic downturn is going to affect bids for players. Get used to it. This may be the opening volley in the NOG's disengagement from Boston. John Henry's fortune is likely a lot less than it was before September 15th. They may flee with a billion dollars in their pockets and leave with two world championships (obviously a good thing) and a decrepit 100-year old relic of a ballpark (not such a good thing).
In any event, your 2009 Stand Pat Sox may be looking up at the Rays and
the Yankees in late September.
Time Is "Rice" For HOF
Tue, 02 Dec 2008 14:25:00 +0000
Jim Rice is on the Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame ballot for the 15th and final time. It is a travesty that he has not yet been elected, and the voters should make it a point to insure that he makes it in this time. There are a library full of well-documented arguments as to why Rice should be enshrined. Long-time Red Sox official Dick Bresciani (one of the classiest and most knowledgeable baseball men anywhere) has put together the most comprehensive portfolio in support of Jim Ed's case.
But, in truth, there is only one set of facts that—to this writer—is overwhelmingly compelling: During his 16 years in the major leagues, Jim Rice had more home runs and RBIs than any other player in the American League. That kind of dominance is enough evidence for me. Put Jim Rice in the Hall where he belongs. Now.
Youk Charity A Winner
Sun, 30 Nov 2008 15:03:00 +0000
The charitable works of Red Sox players like Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield are well known to most fans. But, many probably don't know of the tremendous work done by Kevin Youkilis and his wife, Enza. Their "big idea" was to focus attention on the smaller, but no less worthy, charities that serve kids in the Greater Boston area. By raising awareness and funds for these groups, Kevin and Enza have allowed them to flourish and serve the needs of even more kids.
Organizations like the Italian home for Children, Christopher's Haven, the Joslin Diabetes Center, the Nativity Preparatory School, and Birthday Wishes are among the organizations that get an extra boost from the fundraising efforts of "Youk's Hits For Kids". As Enza Youkilis stated last night at the gala fundraiser at Mohegan Sun, "Last year, we raised our first million". Not bad for a relatively new charity that is gaining steam by the minute. Other highlights at last night's event were a "Family Feud" face-off between the Youkilis Family and the Francona Family. The most noteworthy piece of news? Terry Francona thinks Mariano Rivera is the "sexiest" member of the New York Yankees. Let's not go there.
If you'd like to help out Enza and Kevin Youkilis in their efforts to help kids in need, go to their website, Hits For Kids
, to find out how.
Sox Fans, Give Thanks
Thu, 27 Nov 2008 16:17:00 +0000
Aside from the really important reasons to give thanks today (a healthy and safe family, living in the greatest country in human history), Red Sox fans can rejoice in the fact that they can root for a franchise that is among the truly elite in all of sports. With two World Championships in the last 5 years and the prospect of perennial contention, ours is an enviable position. In seems silly now to think we were in league with Cubs fans not long ago.
Much of the credit for this goes to the ownership group of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino—and, of course, the brilliant and gutsy Theo Epstein. I've occasionally been critical of the "NOG"—but only for its unwillingness to build us a 21st Century, state-of-the-art New Fenway Park. Everything else they have done has turned to pure gold. And, if I have to sit in a creaky near-century old ballpark, at least it has become fan-friendly.
So, let's sit back in our Trytophan-induced stupor and say "thank you" to the Baseball Gods.
Tazawa Signing End To Pro Ball In Japan?
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 13:54:00 +0000
The imminent signing of Junichi Tazawa to a Red Sox contract will have ramifications far beyond the confines of Fenway Park. In fact, the so-called "Tazawa Rules" (allowing an amateur player to request not being drafted by Japanese pro teams) may set in motion a chain of events that lead to the demise of professional baseball in Japan. As baseball fans, should we care?
It's a tough one. On the one hand, the addition of the 22-year old right-hander (probably to the AA Portland roster in 2009) will make a deep Boston pitching landscape even deeper. On the other hand, it will be another major splash by the Red Sox into the insular machinations of the Japanese marketplace. First, we plunked down more than $50 million in "posting fees" to land Dice-K, then wangled Okajima to Boston, and now we are the first team to set a new precedent by preventing a young amateur from ever playing pro ball in his home country (the new rules allow such a player to come back after 3 years in MLB, but, realistically, this will never happen).
If Tazawa is successful, it is likely that every other top-level amateur will look to America to score their fortune, and Nippon Professional Baseball will wither and die. Despite the phony protestations of Brian Cashman (the Yankees would never
violate the unspoken non-tamper agreement with NPB), the truth is the Yankees have been burned by their Japanese excursions (with the possible exception of Matsui) and are therefore gun-shy in the Far East. So, despite the impact on Japanese culture, I say the Red Sox are just playing to the realities of the international marketplace of baseball talent. The NPB will just have to get used to it.
Baseball Writer's Cramp
Wed, 19 Nov 2008 14:59:00 +0000
In the wake of Dustin Pedroia's remarkable MVP year, one little annoying thing lingers on—like that kernel of popcorn that gets wedged between your teeth for a week after a really good movie at the concrete Cineplex at the end of the Mall (you know, like High School Musical 3). The annoying kernel of popcorn in question is one Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News—the guy who left Pedroia completely off his MVP ballot.
The first thing that should tip you off is that he's a baseball writer in Texas—kind of like being a Republican in the Obama "Team Of Rivals" Cabinet. You're nice window dressing, but superfluous. Nobody really cares. "MVP ballot? What's that? Who the 'Boys playing this weekend?" And yet, after hearing Grant's explanation of why he left Pedroia off the ballot (his OPS was four one-thousandths of a percent lower than Justin Morneau's), one has to raise the serious question of who should be eligible to vote on these things. Let's face it, the print media is quickly becoming the horse and buggy of the 21st Century. Would you really spend 75 cents to read Dan Shaughnessy's latest outrage? Even if you do like the CHB, you can check him out on Boston.com (damn, I hate plugging them). This Grant moron was probably on a scant few of the Rangers road trips and has no clue how indispensable Pedroia was on a day-to-day basis for the Red Sox. Not only were his numbers eye-popping (2nd in batting, lead the league in doubles, as many walks as strike outs, 20 of 21 stolen bases), but he was the de facto leader of the team.
The idea that, for example, Vin Scully can't vote on the MVP, but Evan Grant can is outrageous. So, MLB, let's re-think allowing anyone with a hack job at a two-bit print outlet getting a vote. Give it to people who know what they're talking about. You know, like Internet guys.
No Manny, No Mike, No Ring
Tue, 21 Oct 2008 14:20:00 +0000
Even the most ardent Manny-Haters among you know it's true. The principal reason the Red Sox did not repeat as World Champions was painfully evident: not enough punch in the middle of the line-up. And, the main reason for that was the absence of the M&M boys from the ALCS equation—Manny and Mike (Lowell). Let's take a gander at some combined numbers of the "M&M" tandem in 2007. Between them in the '07 ALCS, they combined for a .367 average, 3 home runs and 18 RBIs. In the 2008 ALCS, our 4 and 5 tandem hit .296 with 3 home runs and 9 RBIs. Not chopped liver, but not the stuff of championships—despite the outstanding performance of Kevin Youkilis. Even if you throw in Jason Bay's ALCS numbers, they still don't total the production of just Manny and Lowell in 2007. Just a little more offense might have put us over the top in a tight, 7-game ALCS. We need to upgrade the middle of the 2009 Red Sox offense or get used to the "You Can Call Me Rays" being called AL Champs again.