Friday, November 16, 2007

Have you seen this? Have you heard about this?

Tired of hearing about A-Rod and Barry Bonds yet? It’s been one day since A-Rod started working on another deal with the Yankees and Bonds was indicted and I already feel like I’d be ok if I never heard about either story again, ever.

Lets start with old BALCO Barry…

I know it’s a big story but what is the point of wall-to-wall coverage if you are not presenting any new information. It’s one thing to have a portion of SportCenter about the Bonds story and if you see that same story six times its your own fault for not changing the channel but to focus solely on that one story if there is no new information, like ESPN did yesterday, is pointless.

The other thing that is odd is that whatever the story is the station will get every person they can think of to call in and talk about it. News networks do this all the time and I don’t get it. Now when ESPN had legal analysts and the ‘Game of Shadows’ author on that’s fine because those guys are telling me more than just he got indicted over and over again. The same goes for Buster Onley and Steve Phillips because they talked about the potential baseball ramifications of the situation – but what in the hell does Steven A. Smith have to add to this story?

I get it he yells to make his point, okay, but what does he know about baseball, perjury, or indictments? I thought he was a basketball analyst? If he wants to go on and talk about the Celtics that’s fine but what does he have to do with the Bonds case? Is he operating under the Dave Chappelle “every black man is a qualified paralegal” idea?

This actually reminds me of a lot of another Chappelle-ism. In his special in San Francisco he talks about how on 9/11 MTV had Ja Rule call in to talk about the events. His reply is “I want some answers that Ja Rule might not have.” I think that’s actually a good way to approach this situation. I want some answers that Steven A. might not have.

I feel like I’m picking on Steven A. it’s not really his fault and he brought up some interesting points about other athletes that have broken laws and not faced what Bonds has faced. To some extent he makes good points it does feel like everyone piles on Barry Bonds. I would have been fine with him setting the record then going quietly to live his post baseball life however he chooses.

However if he broke the law he should be adequately punished, I’m just saying I’m not going to lose any sleep over Barry breaking the home run record and there are plenty of that have done steroids and lied about it.

While we are on the subject of Barry…I don’t think its fair to send the 756 ball to the Hall of Fame with an asterisk on it. That is not up to the fans to decide. It is a piece of the history of the game and that decision is up to the Hall. Just like players can’t choose what cap to wear into the hall.

You as a fan can choose not to accept Barry Bond as the home run record holder and I think a lot of people will do that. The fact of the matter is that he hit more home runs in his career than anyone else. If he did cheat then it would be up to the Hall of Fame to decide not to recognize him as the home run king.

No matter what his personality of how he is perceived he shouldn’t have to threaten to boycott his Hall of Fame induction. And if he sticks to that line of thinking then it would be the job of the baseball writers to not bestow the honor on him.

I don’t know what to think of Bonds, his work with BALCO screams guilt because of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative has been involved in so many other doping and ‘roid scandals. If the public is going to be outraged at anyone they should be outraged at people like Victor Conte…if anyone provided fuel to the steroid era fire it was Conte.

A-Rods Super Sweet 16

I’m not sure who was the bigger douche in the announcement of A-Rod opting out during the World Series…was it A-Rod’s doing or Scott Boras or if Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are to be blamed for devoting so much attention to it…what I do know is it turned into a complete and total cluster-fuck.

One part of me says good for A-Rod he finally grew a spine and said “shit I wish I didn’t do that I’m going to fix it because I want to play in New York”…but another part of me thinks he panicked and thought “oh shit no one is going to sign me for 300+ million dollars and I’m going to be the laughing stock of the league and have to play in Japan for a year…Christ who am I Kevin Millar? I better see if I can patch things up with the Yanks”

If the first one is true then Scott Boras has lost his negotiating ridiculous contracts touch. Think about it the Sox got Dice K for way less than was originally asked (don’t count the posting fee) and now the Yankees are going to get A-Rod for 25-75 million less than what he was reportedly asking for. That’s a big blow to Boras if that’s the case.

It’s possible that the owners weren’t interested in doling out that kind of cash and if so good for them but I can also imagine scenario where the next contract Boras gets for someone like Andruw Jones is unreal because he’s – one – pissed at the owners for squashing the market on A-Rod or two – pissed at A-Rod for getting scared and not staying the course.

Part of me feels like Boras knew that someone would pay a ridiculous sum for A-Rod. Not 350 million but by rumoring 350 million you make 300 million sound like a deal. I think A-Rod got nervous and that’s why he’s gone crawling back to New York. Think about it…Boras and A-Rod where definitely locked into selling high. He’s going to be the MVP, so that’s two in his tenure with NY, and he had a monster statistical year.

What then is the point of opting out of a 252 million dollar deal and announcing it during the World Series if you are going to go back to New York when they are offering you way less then what you ‘reportedly’ wanted just to sit down? It makes no sense. Boras had to know that there was a market for what he was asking for other wise why would they opt out?

Why not stay in New York for the last two years of the deal, open up the new stadium and become the irreplaceable player on the roster, that’s the only other way he could command 350 million.

I think A-Rod got nervous and backed out on the plan. His legacy is going to be that of a mercenary, a solider of fortune. He might one day get the “he finally won a championship treatment” but most people are going to remember him as a guy that was all about the paycheck.

One thing I do know…

Is that I’m glad the Sox stayed away from signing him for a king’s ransom. No doubt he’d be impressive in Fenway and a line up of Papi, Manny, A-Rod would make pitchers shit themselves but I’d rather see the Red Sox spent that money on locking up their young studs.

A-Rod is an unbelievable player but in my mind locking up guys like Pedroia, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Lester, Beckett and picking up the option on Manny is a much better value. Especially when Pedroia and Ellsbury have shown they can get it done on the biggest stage, something A-Rod cannot claim. Also Pedroia played the entire playoffs and probably all of September with a broken hand. People aren’t going to miss Trot’s grittiness anymore.

Lock up the Young Guns, pick up Manny’s option and please at least give Lowell a team option for a fourth year. The option doesn’t cost the team anything, it gives you good flexibility and it shows that you are at least trying to keep him around.

However, if the Sox do stick to their no four year deals for players in their mid-30’s it will be hard to fault them. After all it has worked out pretty well so far. I’d be sad to see him go and uber-bummed if he ends up in pinstripes but I have faith in Theo.

I am a little worried at what will happen if he does leave and it doesn’t look great. He’s got two rings and he just had a career year…does he go the Ty Law route and get paid or stay and be a hometown discount hero…

If he goes…

Do the Sox really even entertain the thought of moving Yook, who just won a Gold Glove? And no offense but Joe Crede doesn’t exactly fit the OBP model of the Sox…a .305 career OBP and in ’07 he had an OBP of 258…oosh…Miguel Cabrera could be an answer if they can put in a weight clause like they did with Schilling.

Cabrera would be a solid addition to the lineup and would most likely fill the void left by Lowell but he’s going from the NL to the AL and he kind of looks like lard ass from ‘Stand By Me’…Come on Mikey, come back to the Sox…you know you love that 37 foot wall in left field.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why Tito Should Have Won

Eric Wedge, AL Manager of the Year…I can live with that. He’s done a good job in Cleveland especially when you look at what the Indians have done the last two years a little closer. They nearly snagged a playoff spot last year and this year they fell one sub-par Josh Beckett performance from going to the World Series.

In addition to that they also boasted one of the most potent lineups in the league, even if Hafner struggled they still had something like 5 or 6 guys with 20+ homers. Not to mention the Cy Young winner and the decision to move Fausto Carmona to the rotation worked out pretty well. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting after a less than stellar 2006 season in the bullpen. Plus he’s a Massachusetts guy so I can’t really fault him for that.

Now with that said here is why I think Terry Francona should have won. This is similar to what I wrote about Mike Lowell being the MVP. I understand that people will disagree but this is why I think Tito is just as deserving of the honor.

The voting takes place before the playoffs so obviously seeing him out manage Wedge in the playoffs would have chanced some peoples votes but such is life. Since the playoffs don’t count you have to remember his decision save Paps & Okie for the playoffs, which worked perfectly, can’t be counted but you have to like or at least respect his long-term focus. Things would be different if the Sox didn’t win but he’s very good at seeing the big picture and that’s why I think he’s the best manager in the game.

His team won an AL East crown and that’s something that hadn’t happened in the hub for the previous 13 summers. That is a major feather in Tito’s cap, especially when you consider he is managing in the AL East where the Yankees are always a virtual playoff lock even when they start out miserably they still find away to play almost .700 ball down the stretch. While the playoffs might not count, winning in the AL East is big points.

Tito’s ability to see the big picture is what makes him the best manager in my mind. I always say this when people ask me what I think of him or when people get on him. His short-term decisions might cost the Sox a run or even a game here or there but in the long run he’s been just about perfect.

He stuck with Pedroia, which might have been the best decision he’s made in his tenure in Boston. Even before the season there was a lot of talk about how we shouldn’t have let Mark Loretta go, he lead the team in hits in ’06 and was a great veteran presence. I even wrote here that I wanted them to keep Loretta with a one or two-year deal and bring Pedroia along slowly like they did with Yook. Turns out Pedroia didn’t need to be brought along slowly.

Despite initial struggles Mighty Mouse broke out and hit .317 with a .380 OBP, eight homers, 50 RBI and a team low 42 strikeouts. And he played solid defense at second. He might not be a gold glover but I think his fielding is underrated - all en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. One could certainly make the argument he could have been World Series MVP. He also saved Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter. I don’t think the level of excitement surrounding him would be what it is without that no-hitter and without Pedroia’s diving stop and great throw the no-hitter wouldn’t have happened. I’m not saying Pedroia is directly responsible for the hype about Clay but he certainly didn’t hurt Buchholz’s cause.

Early in the year people here were killing Pedroia. I was at a game and people were actually chanting “DON’T SUCK PEDROIA’ – ouch! WEEI was full of people calling in and calling Tito a moron for not putting in Alex Cora. Really, looking back, what the hell were we thinking? Cora seems like a great guy, he’s been a solid utility guy and he’ll be a good manager some day but if in everyday lineup would he really have made a big difference?

Tito also stuck with Lugo and Drew in the face of constant criticism, much like what he faced with Pedroia. I’ll be the first to admit that those two were disappointments in their first seasons in Boston but what were the alternatives, Cora and Eric Hinske? Yikes. Before you jump on me and say Ellsbury should have been in over Drew, that wasn’t an option in the early going. To be honest it wasn’t an option until the called him up to play for an injured Manny.

Here is to hoping Pedroia doesn’t go the route of Hinske after winning the rookie of the year…geez even in all this joy I’m still so cynical

No matter how much you hate JD Drew I find myself wanting to like him. When he makes contact he looks like one of best hitters in the game and he hit the 14 million dollar grand slam so all is forgiven…unless he plays miz again next year…people will be giving him the Coco treatment and trying to run him out of town.

Speaking of Coco he really just got unlucky. He plays great defense but his bat slumped at the wrong time opening the door for Jacoby. This is the one spot were I do fault Tito, for not making the switch in Cleveland in game four.

He gave Coco one more shot at turning it around in the Beckett game when he knew that the team wouldn’t need a lot of offense but I do like the fact that he made the change. And again that’s playoffs so even if the voters didn’t like it, it has no bearing on the award.

So lets recap – at the time of voting – AL Champs, Rookie of the Year Candidate, Cy Young Candidate – Best Record – Home field advantage (which was huge) – all despite making decisions that Boston fans ripped him for – i.e. shutting down Paps and Okie – going with Gagne and keeping Jacoby in a backup role.

No matter what you think of Tito he puts his team in a position to win. He’s willing to sacrifice certain battles in order to win the larger war, so to speak. I’ve always been a fan of players getting individual award but I’m also a Patriots fan so to me the team winning trumps all and I’m sure Tito would rather have an other World Series ring than a Manager of the Year trophy – and I’m willing to bet Eric Wedge feels the same way.

Side note: I’m not taking anything away from Wedge I think he’s done a great job in Cleveland and if I was an Indians fan I’d be pretty happy with what he’s done and where the team could go…

Now, for some reason Tito still gets no credit from Boston fans. I don’t understand why people don’t come around and at least respect the fact that he knows what he’s doing I think he’s proved that much hasn’t he? How when he’s won two World Series are people still calling him a fool? It makes no sense.

The Red Sox don’t win in spite of him either, I’m sorry but that’s dumb. I’ll certainly willing to admit the occasionally makes a call that costs them a game here or there but those gambles have paid off haven’t they? What more do you want from the guy?

The reason why I wrote this is because for some reason a manger that easily could have won the Manager of the Year award in the AL gets no credit from the fans. It’s fine if you don’t think he’s the best manager I am no problems with that but I think what he’s done for this team certainly require some form of respect of the fact that he knows what he’s doing.

The things people say about Tito could be said about Theo as well but in the long term their plans, moves and decisions have worked out pretty well. If we are willing to let some of the bad moves Theo has made slide because of the results of the big picture then why aren’t we willing to afford Tito the same?

This isn’t to say no everyone dogs Francona thought. I was at the Celtics game and he got a well-deserved standing ovation. The standing O has been a little overdone in the past but it was a genuinely deserved standing ovation and made me proud to be a Boston sports fan.

Two days, two posts we are getting back on track here at The Red Seat.


Talk about running up the score
The Celtics are truly something to behold right now. KG, Jesus and Pierce are so much fun to watch and they are destroying teams…they beat the Nets by 30 last night…they never beat the Nets by 30! I really think they are going to show everyone they are for real beyond the first seven games of the year. I think we see them in the Eastern Conference Finals…at least.

The Patriots haven’t lost to the Bills since the Lawyer Milloy Bowl…the team is 8-0 against Buffalo in their last eight meetings…Tom Brady is 31-2 on artificial surfaces and something like half the league plays on FieldTurf now (Dallas plays on SportTurf and Denver plays on a hybrid called DD Grassmaster – insert obligatory stoner joke here)…Brady’s two turf losses were in the Milloy game in Buffalo and last year’s AFC Championship game…a.k.a. he went more than four years without losing a game on turf.

What Now Peyton?
Not to be a glutton and not to say Peyton Manning isn’t one of the best quarterbacks ever but it will be interesting to see if Manning continues to struggle without Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark…in true my-dad-could-beat-up-your-dad fashion I’ll say this - Tom Brady won three Super Bowls with just ok receivers to throw to (with the exception of Troy Brown in 2001 and Dieon Brach in ’03 and ‘04) – It’s fun to spark debate isn’t it?

Really with the ticket prices
Come on Sox, I understand there are reasons you have to jack up the price of tickets but you have to meet us half way…if we have to pay more you have to keep fielding a World Series caliber team…ok? All right then deal Howie.

The F You Non-New England Sports Fan Moment is…Could be the MLS Cup this Sunday…think about it if the Revs win wouldn’t that just be the ultimate “we’ve had enough of these New Englanders and their damn winning teams” moment…. we could be looking at a legit revolt…everyone hates us as it is if the revs win we are officially the Galactic Empire…if the Pats run the table we’ll have blown up Alderan and if the Celtics win…we are you’re father

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm Back

How bizarre I’m starting a post of with the words ‘it’s been forever since I posted’ but I’m sorry new jobs will do that to you. Unfortunately other than this summer’s layoff due to my NECBL broadcasting duties this has been my longest absence, which needless to say is lame because a ton has gone on in New England sports since my last appearance.

Not that you need it but let’s recap. The Red Sox did end up coming back from down 3-1 in the ALCS and then swept the upstart Rockies out of the World Series so fast Fox could hardly even play up the ‘Sox and Rocks on Fox’ thing. I literally almost missed game four after being at the Pats-Redskins game (if you can call it a game).

This is going to sound pathetic but since I was at the Pats game and I had to work early the next morning I ended up watching the Sox clinch their second World Series Championship in four years all by my lonesome. It’s not that it was depressing or anything I shared plenty of phone calls and text messages of joy but it was a far cry from 2004’s raucous celebration and near ruin of the old Pine St. apartment in Keene.

Obviously it was a different win in 2004 the Red Sox and their fans were a growing swarm not quite the ‘nation’ they are now, we were coming off Aaron ‘effing’ Boone in ’03 and the team had executed the greatest comeback in baseball history against the archest of arch nemesis (I don’t think that made sense but you get the point). On top of that it was the first World Series win since 1918. I can’t tell you how tiresome it was getting hearing Yankee fans chirp about 1918. All that rolled into the fact that you had a team of guys that fed off the position they were in.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining at all, in fact at some point I need to devote a lot of time to talking about how much we need to cherish what is going on right now. I am just saying 2004 had a different energy than 2007. 2007 was just a little different. In some respects it was more fun to watch because I feel like I’ve matured as a sports fan and I’m not as ‘live an die with every pitch’ as I was in 2004. Of course I’d be singing a different tune if they had lost to Cleveland or Colorado.

That’s why it’s so important to appreciate what is going on right now. I don’t get nauseous anticipating a let down or a loss with these teams anymore. I almost forgot what big losses felt like and might not remember if it wasn’t for last years AFC Championship. We’re spoiled and I love every minute of it.

I was working on doing more posts and just cutting down the length of some of them so in an attempt to prevent a Pete King style 14 page post here’s a bullet point run down of stuff I want to touch on now and in the future

· Can anyone but Tito Francona win AL Manager of the Year? The guy has two more World Series rings then any Sox manager from 1918-2003 and his decisions to go with Pedroia and save Paps & Okie for the playoffs worked out pretty well…oh yeah and he won an AL East crown…something that hadn’t happened in the hub for the previous 13 years.

· This deserves it’s own separate post and probably will get one (along with an ArmChairGM feature) but Tito is the best manager in the AL right now. I always say thing when people ask me what I think of him or when people get on him…his short term decisions might cost the Sox a run or even a game here or their but in the long run he’s been just about perfect. He stuck with Pedroia, Lugo and Drew in the face of constant criticism. He shutdown Okie and managed Paps much smarter this season despite people (including me) calling for Gagne’s head. He gets the most out of a lineup you expect to succeed and there is no way the Red Sox win if you or I are at the helm…we’re not dropping any knowledge on Tito.

· Hey Eric, I’m sure you cost yourself plenty of money over the final two months of the season but I still think you owe Red Sox fans something…maybe you could auction off your World Series ring and give the proceeds to the Jimmy Fund or something. I’ll tell you what keep the ring - just donate your playoff share to the annual telethon or something.

· Oh and we can officially call it the Hub now…I used to be skeptical about the whole Hub of the universe thing (don’t people think we are arrogant enough?) but now I am all for it…in sports terms you can’t dispute it World Series Champs, 9-0 and 6-0 (easy I know they’re not going 82-0)…so yeah we’re officially the Hub…how do you like them apples guy!

· If Yook wasn’t my favorite player it’d be Dustin Pedroia, run away winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award…I’m not sure how Delmon Young got any votes over Mighty Mouse since Young is the one that helped Big Papi get his groove back after he totally botched a catch-able ball that barely landed in the first row of the right field corner for a walk off Red Sox win…sparked their stagnant offense

· Celtic Pride Baby! 6-0…this would be unbelievable but oh yeah we traded a bunch of lovable losers for KG…and then got Ray Allen and we still have Paul Pierce (who is outrageously underrated by fans outside Boston – yeah you Ferenc). Don’t even get me started on GLEN “BIG BABY” DAVIS…I really wish he would just yell all the time like Samuel L. Jackson that could be so effective for him.

· My favorite things about attending Celtics games in 2007 are the following...the disco dancing clip they play on the jumbotron featuring the one and only Gino...if you've been to a game you know what I mean if you haven't get yourself to one...second the clip of Glen Davis at the beginning of the fourth quarter when he says in a cajun bayou accent "IT'S ME BIG BABY DAVIS IT'S THE FOURTH QUARTER" - priceless - I hope we're not too far away from David Stern allowing him to wear Baby or Big Baby on his jersey like Rod "He Hate Me" Smart did in the XFL...where is Vince McMahon when you need him.

· The Celtics are even more impressive to me because I’ve been to the Garden twice and not only are they killer to watch but there is new life in place. Opening night when the C’s took the floor and KG came out the place was so loud, I’m talking RCA Dome pumping sound in loud…and it was almost the same a week later against the Hawks…who are going to be scary…and Al Horford is going to be a baller.

· One piece of advice to C’s fans…we get it you were here when they sucked…so was I, in fact I probably won’t go to as many games this year because it’s going to be harder to get tickets but you just have to roll with the fact that there are a ton of people at the games now.

· No one cares if you were there last year and didn’t have to wait in line to get a beer because the rest of us are in line waiting for beers too…calm down, you should be excited that people are excited about the Celtics. Getting pissed at bandwagon fans is fine but don’t act like the holier-than-thou pricks that say bands have sold out as soon as they get played on the radio. I’d rather see cute chicks in pink Celtics gear on the Jumbotron than you with your face paint and silver dollar nipples dancing to Soulja Boy…YOU!!!

· The Pats are codes…see Codes Theory…it needs some refining but seriously this is as close to a video game season as you get in real life…it might even be better than a video game season because the Colts game could have been the “there’s no effing way you’re winning this game” game and the Patriots still won.

· Think about it - most of the calls went the other way…Brady tied his season total for interceptions…Joseph Addai went 76 yards to the house on a check down…and the Patriots still won…I hope that was the ‘no effing way game’ because I’ve never seen anyone win a no effing way game without shutting the game off then replaying it. Maybe that’s what happened…coach got pissed and hit reset at half-time…or his genetic code is U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, B, A Select, Start.

I’m not sure how many people care but the Revolution are in the MLS Cup again too…would that be the Chris Farley in Tommy Boy when the bench collapses “could have done with out that” moment for the rest of the sports world?

Until next time...