Monday, February 26, 2007

The Mystery of the Gyroball

The Gyroball…real pitch or just a myth? This is a question I’ve been borderline obsessing over for the last few days. I’ve read Jeff Passan’s Yahoo! Sports story about the gyro, I’ve read Patrick Hruby’s E-Ticket story and I’ve read every single post relevant to the gyroball on Sons of Sam Horn, but I still don’t really understand what it is.

I’ve heard all kinds of crazy rumors. That it is a sinking change up reverse slider, that it breaks far more drastically then a curveball or a slider and it’s supposed to be the first new pitch since the splitter, which is essentially just a variation of a fork ball (thrown harder and with a different grip).

I know that it’s not a demon, or miracle or magical pitch and I know it doesn’t break three or four feet like some BALCO Slider but does it exist at all?

The Gyroball as defined by
This is a baseball pitch that gets the kind of spin similar to a spiral thrown by a quarterback in American football. There is much debate as to whether the pitch actually exists, but Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka allegedly throws such a pitch, similar to the slurve(cut fastball/slider) but he is usually extremely vague, saying that he has only seen the gyroball-- in japanese comic books.

The idea behind the gyroball sounds simple enough…when you strip away all the computer models and advanced physics that went into “inventing” or “discovering” it anyway…maybe I need to make friends with some MIT kids.

The basic idea of the gyroball is that the ball spins like a bullet or football. This ‘bullet spin’ theoretically would mean the ball would face less resistance as it traveled through the air then it would if it rotated end over end as traditionally thrown.

One school of thought is that the gyroball utilizes ‘double spin mechanics’, meaning that the bullet spin causes the ball to break sharpely. However one of the ‘creators’ of the pitch Kazushi Tezuka claims that if thrown correctly the gyroball shouldn’t move at all. It would then be just a strait up fastball thrown differently, which, in all honesty makes the most sense.

It doesn’t sound like much of a phenomenon, but upon further review, the bullet spin would make the pitch look like a slider as it left the pitchers hand. It gets the batter thinking slider but has fastball speed so the hitter gets crossed up and ends up throwing a feeble hack at a pitch that is already by him.

That’s the reverse change up part. If this is the case the gyroball could certainly prove to be a devastating pitch assuming the guy on the mound has a serviceable slider. If the hitter has to respect the pitchers slider and the pitcher has a fastball that looks like a slider he can mix that in and really confuse hitters.

If this is really what the gyro is, just a fastball or reverse change up, fastball that kinda looks like a slider...I see why they went with gyroball…it would be a great addition to a pitchers arsenal and the more and more I read the more this makes sense.

It seems like the story with the least hole in it and who knows maybe creating all this mystery about the gyroball is just a smoke and mirrors tactic, get everyone thinking about a crazy new breaking ball instead of thinking about how to pick up the gyro as opposed to a slider or a fastball.

In my opinion, and it’s simply my opinion, (I don’t claim to be a physicist or anything but I’ve watched my far share of baseball and it is a game that I fundamentally understand) I think that the gyroball is what Passan talked about and what Tezuka described. It’s most likely just a fastball that is disguised like a slider. I guess that would make it a reverse change up, fake slider, fastball.

I think the biggest factor in the gyroball is the mechanics of the Japanese pitchers. That is the major reason why we haven’t heard a great deal about bullet or football spin on baseballs in the US until recently.

If you look at video of Japanese pitchers they all have a distinct motion, it’s unlike the way pitchers throw here in the US. The Japanese pitchers use more of their hips and torque their whole body when they throw.

It is said that this set of mechanics puts less stress on the arm, that’s another discussion, but regardless I think the mechanical differences between Japanese and American pitchers plays a large role in the fact that we don’t hear a lot about bullet spin with American pitchers or latin American pitchers for that matter.

After doing all the “research” that I’ve done about the gyroball there is something that is more interesting to me then whether or not it exists or whether or not it’s a slurve or a knuckle-curve. I haven’t seen much about it, even on the SoSH boards it hasn’t been talked about too much. It’s the idea that Ichiro throws the ball like a football, utilizing gyroball bullet spin to get more on his throws, despite his smaller frame.

It was mused over in the Hruby piece but something like that could have just as big if not a bigger impact on baseball than the gyro pitch, especially for the Red Sox. If it’s true that Ichiro throws with bullet spin from the out field and the fact that the bullet spin allows the ball to travel through the air with less resistance then the Red Sox should start working with Coco Crisp.

Crisp doesn’t have a great arm in center but if this bullet spin thing is as effective as it is supposed to be it could ad another dynamic to Crisp’s game. I’m not saying it would make him Ichiro or Roberto Clemente or something but it could make people think about stretching singles into doubles or scoring from second or first on deep balls.

At any rate I will be attempting to develop a gyroball from wiffleball this summer. I’ll keep everyone posted on my progress.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Countdown 39

Thirty nine days until the season starts and only six days until the first spring training game, I’m starting to get very excited for baseball. Dice-k is even scheduled to pitch two innings against Boston College tomorrow and the first half of the game will be on NESN. With all that in mind there has been a lot of off the field news going on in Boston sports.

I can’t hold back, I really have a problem with the Sox not signing Curt Schilling. He said that if they didn’t get a deal done he was going to file for free agency, but he didn’t want a pay raise wanted the same money for one more year.

Simple enough right? Just sit down with Curt, who doesn’t have an agent so you aren’t dealing with someone like Scott Boras trying to rape you, get this deal done. I understand the Red Sox saying they want to wait and see how he pitches this season but it seems like a no brainier from me.

In a time when mid-level pitchers like Gil Meche are getting 50-plus million dollar contracts. On weei the other day they were talking about how Gil Meche keeps getting brought up in all the pitching talks. Well that’s because he is a mid-level starter, a number three guy in my opinion, and he got a huge deal. Why wouldn’t you lock up Schilling for the extra year?

Even if he starts to regress at worst you are going to have a number three starter to go along with Beckett and Dice-K. If Schilling goes out and wins 12-15 games this year his value in the free agent market will sky rocket. It doesn’t seem like it’s worth the waiting to see if you want to sign him after this season. At worst you have another Wakefield who can go out and win 12 games.

Could this end up like the Pedro deal and be a smart move on Theo’s part, absolutely. Schilling could easily get hurt, he could pitch terrible and it could out fine, the Sox could free up some money to sign a younger free agent pitcher like Zambrano. I have faith in Theo but this isn’t really on par with their recent financial moves.

Signing Schilling seems like a low risk move but we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out. For now all this news does is create a media mess. Every time Schilling pitches we’ll here “this is why the Red Sox should have signed him” or “this is why the Red Sox should not have signed him”. While I don’t agree with the decision I would like to watch the 2007 season with out having to deal with this contract crap every time Schilling takes the mound.

Everything always seems to get blow out of proportion this time of year with the Red Sox and this Schilling thing is not going to be any different. I hope Theo is right, I disagree with the decision but I hope I’m wrong.

Dice-K pitched a 100 pitch bullpen session yesterday guy does not mess around. The most concerning thing about Dice-K was the fact that he’s never pitched in the majors before but now I think it’s the fact that the translators he has are awful.

They take forever to tell us what he is saying and they are terrible English speakers, so when they start to translate they leave out articles and have bad grammar so you can’t understand them. They spent over 100 million dollars in contract and posting fees to get him but they can’t find a serviceable translator. Although at least they got rid of the first guy that didn’t seem to know what was going on, what Dice-K was saying or what the members of the press were saying.

Are you excited that he’s pitching Friday night at 6pm against BC on NESN…I am.

On to Manny, ‘Manny Being Manny’ right, we haven’t heard that before have we. Ok so Manny isn’t going to show up to spring training until the mandatory reporting date of March 1st. Big news right…maybe not that big of a deal. To be quite honest as long as Manny shows up and puts up the numbers he puts up he can come to camp on March 1st as long as he wants.

Manny doesn’t like the media but the media loves Manny especially when he is pulling ‘Manny being Manny’ stuff. Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten Julian Tavarez to be his PR guy but his mother is sick so lets give him the benefit of the doubt this time.

He’s a total whack job, he’s nuts and he is completely ridiculous but I think that’s why I love him so much. He’s unlike any player in the league, he has the temperament of a child, which at times can totally be a pain in the ass, but he’s also the best hitter in the major leagues seems to enjoy playing the game.

He’s wanted out of Boston a couple times but it hasn’t happened. People dog him for being spacey and not always playing hard but like I said he’s a child, you have to ride out his temper tantrums but it works out in the end. He has been one of the best hitters in the game and has been instrumental in the Sox success. Ask yourself this question. Have you ever turned a game off when Manny was at the plate? Didn’t think so.

Manny has permission to arrive late from the Red Sox, so it doesn’t really matter if he goes to a car show in Atlantic City or if he stays with his mom. As long as Manny is batting in the four-hole behind Big Papi on opening day I am alright with him showing up late.

20 Second Time Out

Welcome to my 20 Second Time Out...from now on anytime I write any NBA or basketball related column it will be filed under a 20 Second Time Out...Michael Holley is giving them out so I'm taking them.
Gerald Green’s win of the dunk contest was awesome. Anytime you have three props for one dunk and that dunk pays homage to the Dee Brown ‘Reebok pumps, cover your eyes dunk’ you should automatically win, especially when you jump over Nate Robinson.

I’m not sure how Nate Robinson was in the finals, his dunks were cool but Dwight Howard’s sticker dunk was awesome it should have been Howard vs. G-Money in the finals that would have been a great final. Also why was the NBA against bringing in a 12 foot hoop, that would have weeded out Robinson, who as I said before, eats, but it would have been a great show between Green and Howard.

Gerald’s first two dunks were awesome, his two dunks in the finals were also excellent but the fact that he didn’t miss once almost made it less exciting. Then again when you think about it, it just shows how much better he was then everyone else. Boy it’s a sad day when the most encouraging thing about the Celtics is the fact that one of there players won the dunk contest…woof.

The NBA needs to bring HORSE into the All-Star Saturday that would be incredibly entertaining to watch; more so than watching some guy I’ve never heard of win the three-point shootout or watching Lebron and Kobe half-ass the skill competition.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pitchers and Catchers Report

Pitchers and catchers report today. That sentence is one of the most beautiful ever created in the English language. Dice-K has been in Ft. Myers for a few days and the Globe and Dirt Dogs already has pictures up of a bunch of the Sox working out including Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett and even Kevin Youkilis.

Youk has a wicked lumberjack goatee thing going on too, which already has me excited for the three best running subplots of the Red Sox season. Manny’s hair (at this point the possibilities are literally endless), team facial hair (the whole dirt dog thing really got going with the facial hair) and the absurd array of necklaces that players will wear (yeah so what if I own a phi-ten titanium necklace).

I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on spring training yet, I’m sure that will change as it gets rolling but do we really have to start with the negativity right off the bat. Boston fans get this ‘they are miserable and always looking for the worse possible scenario’ stigma, so why are we perpetuating it with this Dice-K is fat talk?

I will admit that when I first saw pictures of him I thought he was a little more portly then I had previously anticipated but seriously do you really think he is fat and out of shape? I didn’t think he looked all that different from the pictures I saw earlier but I guess the obligatory Akashi beer jokes are easy lay-ups, I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of that this year.

Pedro was frail, David Wells was a lard ass, Schilling is portly and Beckett is a good size guy. I’d say Dice-K is alright, he’s got a little spare tire action but he’s not running the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day, he’s either going to be on the mound pitching or chilling in the dugout with a cheek full of seeds. Or dip if he wants to fit the Sox profile. Fat or not, I doubt that he would have escaped scrutiny from the Japanese media horde if he was so out of shape.

Come on people think good thoughts, spring training hasn’t even started yet lets not get down on our $100 million dollar man yet.

Once pitchers and catchers report I usually wake up from the sports induced coma that is the month of February between the Super Bowl and Spring Training and switch gears into full on baseball mode. After the debacle that was the AFC Championship game and the insufferable Super Bowl I figured this year would be no different. Then I remembered Kevin Durant and Greg Oden.

I’ve been starting to follow college basketball again, mainly because the Celtics are so bad and have potential for franchise player in the draft, hell I even watched the BC, Duke game the other night. And those are two teams that I historically don’t like.

My point is that I’m on a little bit of a hoops kick right now. To the point were I’ve been playing College Hoops 2k7 a lot (ok, ok I cheated a little and put Gerald Green on the Texas Longhorns more on G-Money in a bit).

I usually don’t dive into college hoops until the NCAA tournament rolls around (unless it’s KSC basketball, I was always an avid Owl supporter) so this year has been fun. I’m thinking Santa Clara might be my George Mason team whose bandwagon I shamelessly pile onto because of their Cinderella potential.

Anyway, I have enjoyed this whole Durant, Oden thing it’s been fun. Of course the Celtics will probably be the worst team in the NBA and get the fourth or fifth pick and miss out on those two but such is life. Here I go with the negativity again.

The shots of City of Palms Park (which is a really cool place to watch a game by the way) in the Globe have officially marked the start of ‘get excited for the Red Sox’ but that won’t be in full effect till I’m flipping channels and I either see a random MLB Spring Training game on TV or a Big XII College Game on FSN. Until then we have a little bit more of this lull to get through.

The lull isn’t so bad if you are in a city unlike Boston whose baseball team is what the entire summer is about. If you have a serviceable hockey or basketball team you’re probably doing alright but like I said the Celtics and Bruins stink. What is going to get me through the doldrums of February until spring training gets in full swing and the NCAA tournament tips off?

Well constantly checking dirt dogs and all the Red Sox blogs is obvious and Deadspin is always good for some sports related comic relief. I could start a fantasy league and go through all the players I think could have big years, which I probably will but this weekend offers us a little respite from the icy winds and mind numbing boredom of the February sports schedule, the NBA All-Star game, ok not so much the game as the dunk contest.

Ok, so not the game at all but the dunk contest. The only reason I really care about this years dunk contest is because of G-Money. It will also be interesting to see how Las Vegas handles the event since they are trying to show off what a prime location they are for an NBA franchise.

Gerald Green, a.k.a. G-Money will make the dunk contest a must watch even. His dunks from the high school dunk contest from 2005 were absurd (check them out here) he out dueled the likes of Josh McRoberts, who might be the captain of the Uber-Dork team.

Green has already told the Boston media he’s got something special up his sleeve and Paul Pierce said one of the dunks he unloaded in practice last week was the best he’s ever seen. On a side note about the dunk contest, the judges are Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, and Dr. J. I think G-Money has the best chance of showing these guys something special.

On weei the other day Dale Arnold and Michael Holley asked Gerald what the most memorable dunk contest of his childhood was. He said it was Vince Cater, so I think we can expect a couple homage to Vince dunks, maybe an elbow in the rim?

I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a running diary for it, yes it’s an idea I stole for Bill Simmons but I’ve used it before for Super Bowls and I think it might be cool for the dunk contest. Whatever happens I’m saying G-Money takes the title and becomes the first Celtic since Dee Brown (who rocked the ‘cover my eyes dunk’ and pumped up his reeboks for a dunk) in 1991 to win. I bet Tyrus Thomas will be second, I liked him at LSU, I don’t think he should have come out but he is a leaper (as Tommy Heinsohn used to say).

I’ll go with Dwight Howard to get third, he’s a big man so that will hurt him and I don’t see him being as creative as G-$ and Thomas. Nate Robinson can have fourth, I’m over Nate Robinson, it was cool that he won last year the whole Spud Webb little guy thing but I’m read to move on from him. In short (literally) Nate Robinson eats.

Back to baseball real quick the, Red Sox first spring training game is February 28th when the Twins make the trip across Ft. Myers to City of Palms Park. Until then I’ll be ritualistically watching sports desk for Spring Training updates with Tina Cervasio.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Spring Training is nearly upon us but there is only so much speculating you can do, obviously if things go right there are a bunch of teams that could be World Series champs. Given enough time I’m sure someone could make a case for any team to be paper champions but that’s why we play the games.

(My Valentine for you this photo of the lovely Tina Cervasio)

Since we really won’t know anything about the upcoming season until opening day, which should be a national holiday along with the day after new years and the day the new Madden comes out, is giving us something else to think about, just in time for Valentine’s day.

Who do you love? Every day, until Valentines Day, is asking fans who their favorite Red Sox of the past 40 years are to compile an All-Beloved team. Naturally looking at this got me thinking, who are the most beloved players. I’ve always been a bit of a baseball history buff but there is so much emotion attached to the 2003 and 2004 teams. I voted on these but after thinking about it for a while I feel like these are questions that deserve closer thought.

Leading off, most beloved catcher – There are a number of choices offered by but it really comes down to just two players. Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and Jason Varitek, the case for Fisk is pretty solid. He’s got one of the most defining moments in Red Sox history the homer that he waved fair, he’s got a foul pole named after him and he is from Charlestown, NH (Live Free or Die!). He’s a Hall of Famer and no. 27 was retired in 2000. My mom loves him and if I grew up watching the Sox when pudge was playing I might feel differently but for me it’s Tek.

Varitek was part of one of the greatest one sided trades of all time, Derek Lowe and Tek for Heathcliff Slocumb, winner Red Sox. He is also only the third player ever to be named captain of the old towne team. And he ruined Alex Rodriguez in that huge brawl in 2004 that helped spark the Sox stretch run and eventual World Series win.

One more thing…he said "If a player is not a 'dirt dog,' it will be difficult to fit in into this city." It’s a tight battle between these two and it might be generational but I’m sticking with Tek.

Next up…first base. This one is a little bit tougher, Mo Vaughn, Bill Buckner, Brian Daubach or Kevin Millar. A lot of people will automatically rule out Buckner since the whole Mookie Wilson thing but I was only two years old when it happened and with out Buckner the Red Sox wouldn’t have made it that far anyway. However if we are talking about fan’s love for players then he’s out.

Dauber ruled, I used to get into constant debates with my old roommates, Preston and Wee Man as I referred to them, about whether or not Daubach was better than Tony Clark. I say yes Dauber was better Tony Clark eats. He was also one of the original dirt dogs and one of my buddies has a Daubach is my daddy t-shirt, so the Sox were all over the daddy thing before poser Yankee fans. Dauber definitely had the fan love as role players like him often do but he was outshined by Mo and Millar.

Millar is definitely my favorite first basemen of the last few years, not only does he have the cowboy up thing and all his other ridiculous antics, he also brought the attitude and persona to the 2004 team that really carried them through the playoffs and made them incredibly fun to watch. I’d love to see Millar back in Boston again as a back up just to see him loving life and pulling every thing, I’ve never seen a guy pull more balls to left then Millar, kids playing waffle ball don’t pull that much.

As much as I liked Millar, Mo Vaughn gets the nod at first for my All-Beloved Red Sox. He was a fixture at Fenway when I was growing up watching the Red Sox. My parents used to get third base line seats for the Sox on my birthday every year (they always played the Tigers and I hate Alan Trammel to this day) but I always wished we had first base side so I could see Mo.

On the stat side of thing he was the 1995 AL MVP and perhaps the most important thing for a young fan, he had a unique batting stance that if you could imitate correctly made you look cool. Also his batting stance is still good for a laugh when you are with friends, even at 22 years old.

Granted he did leave for the Angels in 1999, back when they were just the Anaheim Angles, but he left us with some great memories and he was the first home town homerun hitter that I can vividly remember and as a kid that’s something that catches your eye.

I’m just going to get this out of the way right now even if I am batting out of the order but the most beloved DH is Ortiz, no argument. Literally there is no argument anyone could possibly make for me to change my mind, it’s Big Papi end of story. agrees since they have fans voting on “DH not named Ortiz”…see I told you. Now let’s move on.

Second base has long been a lost position for the Red Sox. Guys like Jeff Frye, Craig Greybeck, Jose Offerman, Freddy Sanchez not the strongest of players. However there are a few that standout. The RemDawg (Jerry Remy incase you are an artard) Mark Bellhorn and Jody Reed (yep Jody Reed next time some one brings up an obscure baseball player drop a Jody Reed on them that or Arcamedies Poso).

As much as I want to say Bellhorn, he went to the Yankees and that is a huge minus. I mean sure he was third in RBI’s behind Papi and Manny in 2004, he had some huge hits that year and he pretty much either struck out, walked or homered you had to love him and his twin ear flapped helmet and grimy hair but the Yankees dude, the Yankees.

I was a little unhappy with Todd Walker being left off but he only played one year so I guess he is out as well, even though he’s my favorite second baseman of the last 40 years. The winner is obviously RemDawg there is no other real choice, especially with Bellhorn going to the Yankees.

I never saw him play but he is hugely popular in New England thanks to NESN and he is a great broadcaster, I hate it when the Sox play on ESPN or Fox. I’d pay to see an Orsillo, Remy vs. Buck and McCarver cage match, wouldn’t you?

Who would be RemDawg’s double play partner you ask. John Valentin was one of my favorites and I loved what the OC brought to the table in 2004 but there’s only one choice for me, Nomar. I know he left town in a bad way and everything fell apart with the whole A-Rod thing but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Nomar.

Nomar was a five time all star, he was Rookie of the Year in 97, he won the AL batting title in ’99 and 2000 batting .357 and .372 and was a legit threat to hit .400 at some point in his career. Then he was on the cover of Sport Illustrated with no shirt on and it all went to hell. He was traded (bringing in the OC which in the end was a good thing) to the Cubs and has struggled since. Still he was the biggest star in Boston sports for the better part of my development of a Red Sox fan.

Third base sparks a debate, a big debate. I pick Bill Mueller, hands down but I’m sure many would reply with Wade Boggs. I used to be a huge Boggs fan, the guy won five batting titles and went to the All-Star game twelve straight years, that definitely makes you a fan favorite.

I really genuinely liked the way he played and the fact that he ate chicken before every game, woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 150 ground balls in practice, had batting practice at 5:17 and ran wind sprints at 7:17 and he drew the Hebrew word for life in the batter’s box before each at bat…even though he’s not Jewish. Sounds like I should be picking Boggs, but nay I refuse. First of all he went to the Yankees, strike one and two right there. He also gets credit for teaching the Yankees their pitch selection technique of only swinging at perfect pitches (according to wikipedia)…d-bag.

Strike three, after he played his final two years with the Devil Rays he insisted on being inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Devil Rays cap. Excuse me? Sure you got your 3,000th hit with the D-Rays but I doubt that you’ll be remembered as a Devil Ray.

Yankees or Sox you have to pick one and show us all wear your loyalties lie, no taking the easy way out as a Devil Ray. Luckily the Hall stepped in and declared he would go in as a Sox (it’s Sox even for the singular, we’ve gone over this) so with all that said funk you wade Boggs.

Side note: Some how they left Tim Naehring out of this whole thing…not sure how you can forget him, come on ‘feed the gator’.

I pick Mueller, professional, dirt dog, batting champ, easy guy to root for, loved watching him play, he wins. He also gets bonus points for that “it’s not Ferris Biller” commercial from when he first got to Boston and people didn’t get why m-u-e-l-l-e-r is miller.

Dirt Dogs has a most beloved bullpen guy, I’ll go with Lowe. He was great as a closer for a while then he imploded but then he came back and was a good starter. Oh yeah then he came in as a closer in the playoffs and threw the two best pitches I’ve ever seen in my life. He also was lights out in the 2004 playoffs.

Batting next, most beloved right fielder, I think you know the answer since I already paid homage to him in an early column. Trot Nixon. I probably would have been a big Tony C fan but I never saw him play. My dad hates Dewey Evans so I’ve never given him much thought.

Kind of weird my dad dislikes some odd sports stars, like Dwight Evans and Doug Flutie (I know blasphemy ah! But I don’t like BC so there). Any how Trot is my pick he’s a dirt dog and I fell for that type of play and demeanor in 2003 with Millar, Trot, Mueller and company.

Left field is another one that it almost too close to call, like the Mo Vaughn, Millar situation. Manny, Jim Rice and Yaz, that is definitely the toughest position to call. Jim Rice was a great player, he was kind of a jerk to the media, but I’ve met him and he seems like a nice enough guy. I like him on NESN and he hits the piss out of a golf ball.

Yaz is another one of those guys that if I had seen him play he might be my favorite. My parents loved Yaz and he’s one of the players that sparked my interest in baseball history, along with Ted Williams and co., so I do have a deep appreciation for Yaz.

Manny is another guy that I love he is a pain in the ass but he’s fun to watch he always brings something different to the game and he’s a great hitter. His ‘Manny Being Manny’ attitude might cause some distractions but it’s far better to watch and follow then the business like cold efficiency style of the Yankees.

I’d love to pick Manny here but there are a couple other guys you can’t count out. Mike Greenwell and Troy O’Leary, I was a big time Greenwell fan when I was little he’s one of the first Sox players I remember vividly. I think I might actually be about to pick Greenwell over Manny. I love Manny but Greenwell was one of my first favorite players, how can you go against that?

Alright, alright, I’m going with Manny. Not just because he is a better player but because he is incredibly fun to watch and he gives the Sox a chance to win every single game. What’s not to love about that? I like Mike Greenwell, I really do but for most beloved I’m going with Manny, although if he has any ‘Manny Being Manny’ moments I’m bringing in Mike Greenwell.

Look at me, I can be, Centerfield. This one hurts. Johnny Damon was my favorite player for a long time. I was a big Damon fan when he was on the Royals and A’s and when he came to Boston I was pumped. He was awesome here, definitely the most beloved before he went to the Yankees. He totally sold out and ruined his legacy for a couple extra million. That even nearly ruined sports for me. It definitely made it clear that it’s about the money.

Ellis Burks was one of my favorites but I’m going with Freddie Lynn here. I never saw him play but he was my mothers’ favorite player so I’ve heard a lot about him and I know he was a fan favorite as a player, he’s another guy I wish I could have seen play. This should be Johnny but he sold out.

Finally who is my most beloved starting pitcher? There are certainly plenty of options but it comes down to two, Pedro and Schilling. Curt gets big props for making that Ford commercial were he says “I’ve go an 86 year curse to break” and then he did it. He also had the whole bloody sock thing, which ruled.

Unfortunately for Curt, Pedro takes it. Pedro was one of the core guys that solidified my passion for the Red Sox. Every game Pedro pitched was an event. You’d talk to your friends about every time Pedro was starting and if you had tickets you’d count out the days to try and figure out whether or not there was a chance that you’d get to see him pitch.

I only got to see Pedro pitch in person once and it was in his final season, 2004 in a game that I think propelled them to winning the wild card, but that’s another story. My point is that Pedro was a phenomenon and he resonated with fans and was the most dominant pitcher in baseball for a long stretch. As awesome a Schilling was in 2004 my relationship with Pedro was longer and I will never forget him coming out of the bullpen in Cleveland and pitching six innings of perfect relief in the ALDS.

Last but in no way, shape or form, most beloved unsung hero, if you even have to think about this one there is something wrong. I shouldn’t even have to say his name but that wouldn’t do him justice. Dave Roberts, I maintain that his steal of second base in the 2004 ALCS is the most important play in the history of the Boston Red Sox. You could argue but I am not listening.

There should be a Dave Roberts statue outside of Fenway and I truly hope that one day I can tell my kids the story of Dave Roberts’s stolen base in front of that statue. Everyone in the world knew he was going to steal second and he did it. There’s nothing really more to say.
I have to add in a All-Beloved NESN field reporter. I'm assuming you already know but this is my excuse for running a picture of Tina Cervasio. She easily trumps Eric Frede. Don't start with the Hazel Mae talk, she's the All-Beloved SportsDesk Anchor.

This was one of my longest Red Sox columns ever, it's also one of the few stories on this blog that I've taken a few days to write, so here is a quick wrap up.

My All-Beloved Red Sox team:

C – Jason Varitek
1B – Mo Vaughn
DH – David Ortiz
2B – Jerry Remy
SS – Nomar Garicaparra
3B – Bill Mueller
LF – Manny Ramirez
CF – Fred Lynn
RF – Trot Nixon
Bullpen – Derek Lowe
Starter – Pedro Martinez
Unsung Hero – Dave Roberts
NESN Field Reporter - Tina Cervasio’s All-Beloved Red Sox team:

C – Jason Varitek
1B – Mo Vaughn
DH – David Ortiz
2B – Jerry Remy
SS – Nomar Garicaparra
3B – Bill Mueller
LF – Carl Yastremski
CF – Fred Lynn
RF – Dwight Evans
Bullpen – Derek Lowe & Rich Garces (oh El Guapo)
Rotation – Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield
Unsung Hero – Dave Roberts

A couple of additional spring training thoughts:

The Red Sox equipment truck left for Ft. Myers monday and while it might have got a little bit too much coverage, it’s still pretty exciting news. It’s think good thoughts time.

Pitchers and catchers report on friday, which is very exciting news, especially since ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian wrote today that the Red Sox could have the best rotation in baseball. With Dice-K, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield…also Jon Lester (possibly) and I highly doubt it but Roger Clemens is still lurking around.

Even with all the questions looming, like Lester’s cancer, Schilling’s age and contract talks and the fact that Matsuzaka hasn’t thrown a pitch in the MLB yet that is still a pretty formidable rotation. I am a firm believer in the ‘you can never have too much/enough pitching’ creed, motto…creedo…so I like the fact the Red Sox six potential starters and have other guys in the bullpen that can make spot starts. Like Joel Piniero and Julian Tavarez.

The biggest question is obviously Matsuzaka, but in Kurkjian’s article he quotes Bobby Valentine saying that the most important thing for Dice-K will be his relationship with his catcher. Well is catcher is Jason Varitek who happens to be one of the best catchers in the game and is well known for being very good with young pitchers.

One more day until the heralded phrase of ‘Pitchers and Catchers report today’ is uttered.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Hello JD Drew

On the line, Red Sox right fielder JD Drew…

JD Drew is a Boston Red Sox and we finally heard from him. He talked with weei’s Dale and Holley. Here are my impressions of the interview, as it happened.

JD Drew sounds like one of the kids on two-a-days, which makes sense since he’s from Valdosta, GA. He talked a lot about spending money and doing things to keep himself healthy but he didn’t really say anything other than he “used devices to try to perform at a high level and get healthy.” Taken out of context that could sound bad but I think I know what he meant.

He actually sounds like what you’d think a dirt dog would sound like, which is pretty exciting, if that makes any sense.

He said he opted out of his contract in LA because he and Scott Boras were concerned that he was going to be traded at some point and the Dodgers wouldn’t renegotiate his deal with a no-trade clause worked in. he also threw in the obligatory I’m excited to be here and play for a great team and organization etc, etc.

His response to people saying he won’t fit in with the Sox and he won’t fit in, in Boston was actually pretty good. He said he thinks the most important thing is that you “go out there and play the game hard” and “when it’s all said and done and the season is over when you look at the numbers hopefully everything will be there.” I like that answer, going out and playing hard everyday will help him be successful in Boston, in the fans eyes anyway.

He apparently likes Curt Schilling, despite the fact the two have had their differences in the past.

He said he didn’t want to feel like he had to be the savior of any team so he likes the fact that Boston has a solid line up. Basically he sounded like he was excited about the possibilities that if he comes up “empty” in a situation there are other guys that can pick it up.

I just hope that he will come up big more times than he comes up empty. I know he won’t be David Ortiz but he’s the kind of guy that should be able to come up big when it needs to be.

He’s not a very emotional player. He’ll need to work on playing the right field corner, last time he played at Fenway he ate the right field bleachers on a flare down the right field line by Nomar.

He hit 19 balls to the warning track to left field in LA, say hello to the green monster JD, and should add a couple more hits to your highly touted stat sheet.

Initial reactions, he was pretty much nothing like I was expecting him to be like. JD Drew was supposed to be hard to talk to and not be somebody that is willing to talk about their issues. He was nothing like that.

He opened up pretty easily and he didn’t shy away from topics. At first he gave a couple of standardized answers but he was surprisingly candid.

Still the question remains will he be able to stay on the field? If you want to be cynical about him fine be cynical but Drew is a solid player and he could be a great addition to the Sox lineup. As much as I loved Trot Nixon, a healthy Drew is an upgrade.

I’ve been trying to ignore all the bad publicity he has gotten for a number of things. Hearing his interview has made me think twice about hating him before he takes a swing. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

t-minus 10 days till pitchers and catchers report.

The Lost Boys go to a Celtics Game

Incase you haven’t noticed the Celtics are terrible. They weren’t very good to begin with but they had the potential to be a playoff team and now most of the Celtics fans I know are more concerned with whether or not Kevin Durant and Greg Oden will go to the draft and what pick the Celtics will end up with in the lottery.

I had the err…pleasure of taking a C’s game on Friday and it turned out to be pretty much exactly what I was expecting. A 100-89 loss to the LA Clippers, the Celtics hung tough for most of the game but fell apart in the fourth quarter…huh weird.

February was a late date for my first C’s game of the season but regardless I was excited to see them, granted I was fully expecting a loss but seeing Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston play sounded cool and it’s always fun to see a game even if your team is miserable.

Things got off to a rough start when Boston announced their starting small forward, Brian Scalabrine…woof. However there were a few positives amid the suffering. Rajon Rondo played 42+ minutes and scored 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, that’s 63-percent, who says he can’t shoot.

Okay so that is sugar coating the loss since Elton Brand lit up the Green and it was the Celtics 14th loss in a row, a franchise record (and I was there!). There is more to attending a game then just the final score so I enjoyed myself and noticed a couple things I’d been missing out on since I started rooting for them to lose.

For starters the biggest problem is the Pierce injury, obviously. Since he went down it’s been rough and at this point it’s almost so bad that he might as well just stay out until he is absolutely 100 percent healthy even if it’s the rest of the season.

The other big problems, Bassy Telfair is playing awful, Wally is still hurting so he can’t play big minutes and that leaves guys like Ryan Gomes and Rondo playing 40 minutes a game. Both are solid players but they are role players. Gomes would be great off the bench but he’s not the kind of player that can log 40 minutes a night.

D-West is the same way he’s a good role player to complement Pierce but he’s not going to carry the load. There are a couple of positives that I’ve noticed and the biggest one is Big Al. He’s been playing well and he continues to develop into the player everyone though he would be the last two years.

Unfortunately watching the Celtics falter over the final 12 minutes from the balcony of the Fleet TD Banknorth Boston Garden Center or whatever it’s called now showed one thing very clearly. Things are not going to be getting better anytime soon. The kids will be better for being thrust into this position but the management needs to do something.

Assuming the Celtics get one of the top two picks and they get Oden or Durant. Okay so they have another young guy that has the potential to be a star. The C’s need to give Pierce some help. They went out and got Wally but a ton of the guys on the team are younger than me or right around my age. The Celtics really need to make a move as much as I like the kids but they might have to take a chance they need to find an impact player, whether it’s Oden or Durant or they make a move.

I think I’d rather see them get the number one or two pick and that’s probably what they’ll be hoping for two. Unfortunately what will probably end up happening is that they’ll end up with the worst record, they’ll have the most balls in the lottery but they will end up with the fifth or sixth pick. I feel bad for Pierce, as a fan I’d love to see him on another winning team before he is done in Boston.

On a weird side note, there were a lot of people there. I mean a lot of people. I figured it would be pretty empty and we’d be able to move down at half time. We tried and failed thanks to Joey bobbling Jon’s attempt to pull him down into a seat when we got asked to move.

There were plenty of open seats but for the most part the place was pretty packed, I’m not sure how they do it, especially in Boston but despite the 14-game losing streak people are still going. Like I said there’s more to going to a game then the final score.

For me going to the games is almost a surreal experience, Friday night’s game I had a good time with some friends, we went to half-time pizza got some 32oz beers went into the game cracked jokes and genuinely had a great time. But anytime I go to a game, as dorky and lame as it sounds, I always take a minute or two to just look around the stadium and take it all in. No place feels the same as Fenway but I love the way going to a game of any kind can make you feel like a kid again.

There will definitely be more of that theme coming up as the Red Sox start playing. As crummy and decrepit as Fenway Park might be, I love the place and I can’t get enough of it.

Final thoughts on the Celtics; I hope Rondo develops into a solid point guard, Friday’s game gave me hope! The best Celtics news of the year…G-Money, Gerald Green has been added to the dunk contest. That is going to be great he has a great shot at being the first Celtic to win since Dee Brown in 1991.

I thought my friends and I were the only ones that called him G-Money but the Celtics webpage had the headline “G-Money gets Vegas nod” for the story of him being added to the dunk contest. God do I hope that nickname sticks.

Friday, February 2, 2007

'Mooninites', Schilling, Dice-K and Prince oh my...It's the Ramblings

It’s Friday and there isn’t a whole lot going on in the world of sports. Granted the Super Bowl is Sunday night but how many more inane, pointless super bowl stories can you read or for that matter can people write?

Does anyone outside of Chicago and Indianapolis really care about the Super Bowl? Uber-dork Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman awesome, I can’t wait to see one of these two celebrating, bring out the commercials and let raspberry beret blast.

(this picture is courtesy of cause stealing is totally not cool)
Anyway here are a couple of ramblings on what has been going on lately…in bullet point form.

Welcome to The Ramblings...
  • Ted Johnson is bringing some allegations against Belichick, saying that Bill made him practice with post concussion syndrome in 2002. Sounds ugly, paints Bill in a poor light but it’s hard to take it to heart when Johnson wanted to play for the Patriots this December. Not buying it Teddy, plus I meet Ted Johnson when I was in high school and he was a dick, so there.

  • Since I’m going to the Celtics tonight and they are probably going to set a franchise record for losses I’ll throw in my two cents on the Oden/Durant thing. I hope the Celtics get the #2 pick so they don’t have the pressure to take Oden and they get Durant. Granted they might not come out this year but assuming they do I hope the Celtics end up with Kevin Durant. 37 and 23 against Texas Tech…welcome to Boston Kevin, you look great in green.

  • Red Sox sign Schilling for 2008, seriously just do it. You spent $50 million just to talk to Dice-K. I think you can pony up $18 mil for Schilling. SIGN HIM! Gil Meche got $55 million. GIL MECHE. Sign Schilling. Here is my sole piece of evidence why this is a good idea. John Burkett, former Sox pitcher, bought some skis from Reynolds and said “I can’t believe jackasses like Gil Meche are getting 55 million that pisses me off.” Do you know anyone that would say that about Schilling?

  • More Dice-K news, his add debuted yesterday. No he isn’t wearing a mustache and he’s not chanting ‘cut that meat’ although I guess they could be saying that, it’s a Japanese beer commercial so I have no clue what they are saying. Check it out here. Isn’t it great how he can actually drink the beer in the commercial, oh Japanamation.

  • CTU Boston learned that the suspicious devices planted around the city were in fact ‘mooninites’ from Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force thanks to top notch reporting from WBCN’s Toucher and Rich. Also the flag will remain at half mast in honor of fallen agent Curtis Manning.

  • A recent trip to the cultural and technological center of the universe, Acworth, NH revealed that Prince does in fact rule and his halftime show has all kinds of potential. I am setting the over/under for price making ridiculous sexual noises at 1,500. Is it weird that I want to know if he is as good at football as Charlie Murphy claims he is at hoops?

  • Um did I mention Prince is a Jehovah’s Witness and once sang "I'm not a woman. I'm not a man. I am something that U'll never understand." Yeah that’s what I thought…half time don’t miss it.

  • Madden 07 already decided the outcome of the game; the Colts beat the Bears 38-27. Peyton Manning is going to Disney World after his 28/36 383 yard 3 TD performance.

  • Final Super Bowl note: While I haven’t paid much attention to the build up, I will still wager a prediction. I really can’t formulate any good opinions since I hate Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman but I will say Colts 27 Bears 21. I’m going six points because if Adam Vinatieri kicks a game winning field goal my head might explode.
Alright it’s time to start preparing myself for tonight’s Celtics game. It’s my first one this year, pretty late in the season for my first game actually, but I’m pretty excited despite the fact that the green could lose their 14th straight. I will have the digital camera and I’ll have something for you after the game. After all the Lost Boys will be in attendance.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Careful the stove is hot

Now that I got the X Games out of my system it’s time to turn some attention to the Red Sox hot stove which has been glowing red hot in the past few days.

The Red Sox stove chose a good time to start heating up since the Celtics are about to set the franchise record for longest losing streak (I will be at the game Friday so I’ll have something Celtics oriented this weekend) and other than that there really isn’t that much going on this week…other than Barbaro dying of course, so sad, so sad.

The hot stove week kicked off with a Saturday morning phone call from none other than Joseph P. Reynolds. He sounded a little distraught and told me that he had heard some people talking about the Red Sox trading for Todd Helton. He was nervous that they’d ship Manny off to Colorado and get Helton in return and since he was calling from CTU Park City, Utah he had no way of confirming or denying these rumors.

After hearing this I was instantly jolted out of an early afternoon daze so flipped open the laptop and started checking out some of my “sources”. After a day of phone calls back and forth and constantly checking out SoSH and Dirt Dogs I finally saw something on ESPN’s 11pm Sports Center.

Six Degrees of Hating Peyton Manning: We still can’t escape the Pats-Colts loss - Helton started at quarterback over Peyton Manning in his senior year at Tennessee, granted he got hurt Manning took over and never looked back, have I mentioned I hate Peyton Manning.

Unfortunately to my dismay ESPN decided to rehash the old SNL skit where Jerry Seinfeld is a night time news anchor and he just keeps reading teases about a life threatening thing that you could be eating for dinner and saying things like “up next: it’s deadly and it could be your dinner”.

Every time ESPN went to commercial it was “are the Red Sox going to add a $90 million slugger…” or “up next good Rex vs. bad Rex and who’s in the trade talks for the Red Sox” it was seriously killing me.

They did an especially good job scaring the bejesus out of me by showing clips of Manny with every tease, not cool. Turns out the Sox were in trade talks with the Rockies for Todd Helton after all. They may not allow music in Utah but apparently they are on top of their hot stove baseball in the local ski shops.

By now this is old news but in hindsight it would have been a pretty decent addition to the Sox lineup especially since the trade talks involved Mike Lowell and Julian Tavarez and maybe someone like Delcarmen or Hansen.

I wasn’t big on the idea of trading away Lowell and having Youk move back to third. The infield isn’t going to be as solid this year mainly because Julio Lugo isn’t Alex Gonzales (defensively) and it’s still not clear what you’ll get from Dustin Pedrioa.

I like having gold glove caliber defense at third and I think Lowell provides a pretty good amount of pop (solid doubles hitter), not as much as Helton would but in the end it was probably a better choice to stick with Lowell rather than move Youk again and take on Helton and his six year contract. With that said I’d have no problems moving on from Tavarez the guy really hasn’t shown me much other than that he can pitch ok when it doesn’t matter.

As for Hansen and MDC I would have been ok if the Red Sox had moved on from them, they have shown promise but have been unable to take that next step and jump up to being effective on a consistent basis. There are some guys I don’t want to see dealt, like Jacoby Ellsbury or Daniel Bard, and I think it’s safe to say the Sox aren’t willing to move them. However if you are going to get an established guy like Helton then it makes sense to take a chance in giving up a guy like Hansen or Delcarmen.

In the end it was all for show as the Sox and Rockies broke off talks, rumor has it Theo was pretty unhappy with the Rockies for throwing out the names of the Sox players the two teams were talking about. I guess he didn’t want Lowell, Tavarez and company to know they were on the block, can’t say I that I blame him after the way the whole Nomar thing went down.

No Helton but there is plenty more Sox stuff going on. Theo got married and his dad tricked Gordon Edes into thinking Theo got hitched at Nathan’s Famous hot dogs on Coney Island, which made for a pretty good story on the radio and internet yesterday.

Things to be excited about:

Dice-K is throwing in California which is exciting news but I want to see some video, just over two weeks till pitchers and catchers report. Also he has told the Sox new pitching coach that he does in fact throw a gyro ball and he is working on a new pitch, maybe a cut fastball no real word on that yet.

Jon Lester arrived in Ft. Myers today. Granted I wouldn’t expect Lester to be ready to go by opening day never mind when pitchers and catchers report in a couple weeks, but this is still encouraging news. According to the Globe he says he isn’t 100 percent yet but he is optimistic and is looking to return as soon as possible.

He also said that he will start where ever and whenever the team feels is necessary. I know the Red Sox have a good amount of pitchers but you can never have enough pitching and having a healthy Lester available for long relief or spot starts will really make the Sox bullpen or starting rotation better.

Check out Nick Cafardo’s brief article about Lester here.

The newest news...Curt Schilling wants another year, but the Sox haven’t really said much. Schilling said he wants to get a deal done before the season starts, if not he will head to free agency. Here’s my two cents. Sign him and sign him now.

I think that’s what the Red Sox will do but seriously Schilling, a one year deal for the same money he is getting right now. Even if he becomes your number three starter, I don’t care you still sign him. He had a better year last year than Gil Meche and he got a huge deal. The guy made a truck commercial in which he said and I quote “I’ve got an 86 year curse to break” and he f’n did it. When I first saw this commercial I was upset, why jinx us right off the bat, but then he came in and helped the Sox win the World Series that alone is worthy of a one year extension.
Two Words: Blood, Sock (or Blood and Sox if you want to play with some words)

I’m sure this will be the talk of the town for the next couple of weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Some people are painting Schilling as whining for more like Pedro did but I say sign him right now, get a deal done there is no need to wait. This is the same team that offered Coco Crisp an extension after the first two weeks of last season so why not extend Schilling another year.

Pitching is always at a premium and if you can get Schilling for a discounted price, even if he falls off a little and becomes a third starter, he is one of the best pitchers out there and if you let him go to free agency he will definitely be more expensive. Sign him and sign him now!