Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Blocking the plate was Barajas!"

Impenetrable.

But then came Manny, and with him victory.

Numbers through April:
5th in runs with 136; Cubs lead with 171.
2nd in hits with 278; Cubs lead with 279.
15th in home runs with 24; Phillies lead with 41.
6th in total bases with 416; Diamondbacks lead with 449.
13th in walks with 103; Cardinals lead with 144.
5th in OBP at .353; Cubs lead at .375.
9th in slugging at .422; Diamondbacks lead at .468.

How about the NL, leading the way in all offensive categories! Sox walks should be much higher with the lineup they've got. All in all these numbers look pretty solid considering the injuries and the absence of runs over the last five days or so.

19th in ERA at 4.32; A's lead at 3.22.
10th in hits allowed with 232; Diamondbacks lead with 206.
20th in runs allowed with 130; A's lead with 96.
21st in home runs allowed with 28; White Sox lead with 15.
3rd in strikeouts with 216; Reds lead with 224.
27th in walks allowed with 123; Twins lead with 68.

Hmmmm, third in strikeouts and tenth in hits allowed. Take care of them walks and the scoreless innings will follow. I was crunching some numbers and I feel pretty confident that if the starters continue to go seven or eight innings, allowing one or zero runs, the league rankings will probably improve. Probably.

So long, Lobel

I can hear you now, "But Ben, why are you linking to a stinking column about Lobel by Sh*********?"

Can it, Greek chorus!

I grew up with Lobel. As did Bryan, to a far lesser extent. You see, Bryan had this teriffic invention called cable television in his household. My house had an antenna that occasionally blew off the roof. When Bryan complained about how bad SportsCenter anchor Larry Biel was, I just assumed Larry Biel was his algebra teacher. When he mourned the death of Tom Mees I figured Tom must be a cousin or a friend of the family. All I knew was Bob Lobel.

I used to sit through the early news report and watch twenty long minutes of Liz Walker and Jack Williams just to steal a couple of moments with Lobel and perhaps catch a snippet of highlights from the previous night's game that I was unable to watch because it had aired on NESN. Around the trade deadlines or in the thick of free agent signings, Lobel was must see TV for little me.

Lobel told me that the Pats hired Parcells, he told me that Reggie Lewis died, that Greenwell was leaving to drive race cars, Mo Vaughn won the MVP award, Clemens signed with the Jays and on and on. So you see, I depended on the man for an awful lot.

These days, with the Internets and the ESPNews and whatnot, there are very few sports fans who are at all reliant on their local sports anchors. And so it happens that Bob Lobel has been kicked to the curb by an ownership getting rid high-priced talent. Can't say I blame them. Still, I wish it weren't so. Anyway, thanks, Bob.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The bats are back!

Mike Lowell returns and just like that an offensive explosion to the tune of 5 (five) hits. And we're rolling.....

What is a lineup without Mike Lowell?
What's Ronaldo if he ain't smokin' pole?
What is Youk and he ain't really clutch?
What's Andruw Jones if he ain't really Dutch?
What is Obama if he ain't schooling locals?
What's the base if it's taking from the vocals?
What's Little Dusty without his little lady?
What is the Rocket if he ain't being shady?
Not a not a not a, not a damn thing
What's Adrian Beltre without that swing?
What's Garfield without Garfield?
What's A-Rod if he ain't really healed?
What's a ballplayer if he ain't knockin boots?
What's a manager without the disputes?
What is Barry Bonds if he ain't still waiting?
What is Bob Costas if he ain't always hating?
Oooh ooh, it's like that you keep goin
Freak freak y'all cause you know that we showin
What to go what to go what to go what to go what
to go what to go what to go what to go WHAT!

But seriously, how 'bout that Jonathan Lester!

The Bell Curve

I was explaining to my Not Quite Yet Girlfriend last night the recent history of Boston sports during the waning minutes of the Celtics/Hawks game, mentioning that the game on the television fit the disturbing recent pattern of Boston fans getting bit in the ass by complacency. I mentioned how good our teams had been over the past eight years, prompting her to ask,"But weren't they really bad before that?" I lied and said yes, when the truth is they were on one hand (Sox) frustrating and on the other three just recently terrible. Worse than the performance of the teams themselves was the knowledge that every year was going to be the same as the year before it. And then Drew Bledsoe got hurt.

Now, I loved Bledsoe. But when Tommy Brady took over the Patriots, our sports experience took a sharp turn upward, where it stayed through the three Patriots titles and the Sox 2004 championship. That was the top of the bell curve, which was extremely steep. Even four years ago our teams were generally beloved by the media, the only arbiter that really matters; the Patriots were seen as the "model" franchise, and the Sox were the good guys versus the Yankees. The final out against Alan Embree in the 2004 ALCS was the tipping point, and you may not know it, but things have been downhill from there. The performances haven't always indicated it, but the new ethos of Boston sports took over and started to poison the results and our reputation in the country at large. In a nation that can't agree on anything except that Dennis Kucinich is crazy and Roger Clemens is an asshole, Boston fans are loathed by anyone. Why?

We expected to win. And with "only" one more title since 2004, we're not putting our money where our mouth is. The thing is, almost nobody could. Have we lost the passion? Yes, we have. Bravado about the Patriots' skills and declaring you hate Peyton Manning isn't the same as getting pumped up for your team's game. Last year, I texted an old friend before game 7 of the Cleveland series. No response. When we beat the Rockies, I got a couple phone calls. We expected to win. No big whoop. Then the Patriots season happened, and it was, at the bitter end, God's gift to everyone Out There who hated us and the first sign the sun was setting on our decade of triumphs.

Then Kevin Garnett came along, and we thought we had another hope. The problem is we were still cocky, when the 2007-08 Celtics are still a tenuous experiment. They could still win the title, but we have to remember the games are played on the court, not in the battlefield of "who can be a bigger asshole fan." If the Celtics lose to the Hawks — still unlikely, but plausible — we'll be back near the bottom of the bell curve, hopefully in a spot that encourages us to root for our team based not on a false sense of superiority, but because of our love of the region and the game. Same thing with the Sox. That's why we started this blog, to show that Sox love has little or nothing to do with the Sox winning. We've won. Let's get over it and root like real fans, and prepare for what might happen at the bottom of the bell curve in Atlanta this weekend.

Hey Celtics

Let's just go ahead and win it all now.

Good, I'm down with that too.

Ben: You know what my favorite part of last night's game was? When Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers came off the bench and nailed all of those 3's. Say what you will about the Chris Wallace era, that was a great trade!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Devil of a weekend

They're excited in St. Petersburg. And why not? This was the biggest weekend in Rays' history since Rolando Arrojo defected from Cuba. Not only did they sweep the defending champs in grand style, they also assured themselves of an above-.500 record through the first month of the season for the first time in franchise history.

Fitting that Me & Pedro was silent for the better part of three days because so, too, were Boston's bats. Five runs! Three losses, each one maddening in its own way. The missed opportunities of Friday night, staying with Clay just a bit too long on Saturday, wasting Beckett's 13 strikeout effort today. Brutal. Oh and did I mention they face Roy Halladay on Tuesday? Just the medicine they need! Boo.

Five losses in a row and yet the Sox are tied for first place. This glass be half full.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Week in Review: California Love



The Sox are feeling the Golden State this week with beauty queen Heidi Watney, who will replace Tina Cervasio when not skydiving, taking boxing lessons or dating me.

Woodland, CA's own Dustin Pedroia brings the laser show to Fenway to dispatch Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Former Oakland star Miguel Tejada sets the stage for the first real internal Me and Pedro argument over ESPN's "gotcha" TV program.

Fairfield, CA's Joe Thurston starts on Patriots' Day after a harrowing escape.

Sox fan Conan O'Brien looks to Burbank, while the douchey forces of Fallon sign to take over his chair. Heidi said she'd rather turn off the TV than watch. So I probably shouldn't complain.

(Greatest. Beat. Ever.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jimmy Fallon Replacing Conan O'Brien is like David Archuleta Replacing David Ortiz

Good God, is this real?

This can't be real. Jimmy Fallon? Jimmy Fallon is going to be on television five nights a week? Whatever, NBC is digging its own grave.

I'm still not convinced Leno is going anywhere, and that's good news for Conan. Make the switch the CBS, big buddy, and keep it going down Sox Fan In New York style. I guess Leno counts as a Sox fan, so then we'd have both 11:30 shows. But I'd rather not count Leno.

On the bright side, at least Fallon will give "Douchebag Yankees fans who played Red Sox fans horribly in a movie" a worse name.

(Yes, the title is an American Idol reference.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fact or Fiction: Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson has been called up from Portland. He will start tomorrow night against the Angels. Let's get to know him with a little Fact or Fiction:

  1. He is the first Jamaican-born member of the Red Sox.
  2. At 6-6, Masterson is the tallest pitcher to start a game for the Sox since Derek Lowe.
  3. Weighing in at approximately 250 pounds, Masterson is the heaviest Sox picther since El Guapo.
  4. He is one of seven Sox on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list.
  5. He likes to grill asparagus, film it, and post it on YouTube.
  6. He is the great-great-great grandson of gunfighter/lawman/sports writer Bat Masterson.



1. True. The three other Jamaican-born major leaguers, Chili Davis, Rolando Roomes and Devon White, never suited up for the Sox.
2. False. Kyle Snyder is 6-8. And remember Jason Johnson? Yeah, he was 6-8 and
3. False. David Wells is listed at 248 lbs, but that's probably generous.
4. True. Masterson came in at No. 63; the six others are RHP Clay Buchholz (No. 4); CF Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 13); 1B Lars Anderson (No. 40); 3B Jed Lowrie (No. 73); RHP Michael Bowden (No. 94); and CF Ryan Kalish (No. 96).
5. False. This is not Justin Masterson, major league pitcher.
6. False. But Bat Masterson is the great-grandfather of Robert Ballard, the marine scientist who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.

An Ode To Little Dusty

I was at at bar in Manhattan with my softball team last night when I made an offhand comment about the greatness of Little Dusty, referring to him as such. There was outrage! from a Yankees fan, who had never heard such a foolish nickname. "Little Dusty!?" he asked, incredulous, and rolled his eyes at my nod. I repeated the name throughout the (glorious) night to get the response, and yep, turns out he really hates the little bugger.

All of which means Dusty's doing something right.

Oh yeah, it's HITTING .364

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen....

I present Heidi Watney, "California beauty queen who was suddenly dumped from her last job at a FOX affiliate in Fresno," who will takeover sideline reporting duties of the departed by Tina Cervasio:


I know good journalism when I see it, and this is it. Alas, it would appear NESN took a net loss on this one. But I'm willing to be patient.

See also: skydiving, whitewater rafting, and fighter jet flying!

Why I'm Pro E:60

Of all the things Me and Pedro disagrees about internally, it looks like nothing was more immediately divisive that ESPN's "outing" of Miguel Tejada as a 33-year-old. Blogging partner Be Gold described the interview as a (my words) pointless ambush, whereas I applauded.

Well, the fallout from the story is beginning, as ESPN has published a piece about what Tejada's false birth certificate means for him, mostly in the context of steroids investigations. ESPN has to walk a fine line when it comes to celebrating sports and covering them, and often it does a horrible job of letting fans know where fun begins and news ends. My blogging partner wasn't the only one who didn't like the Tejada interview; my roommate saw it and was nonplussed by it. And I understand this reaction to a point, even if it wasn't mine: "ESPN has gone out of its way to be fun and hip and non-confrontational, and now this?" is what I imagine was going through people's heads. Again, not mine: I know good journalism when I see it, and this was it. ESPN had Tejada cold, and they sat him down, presumably by invitation, and asked him about it. He didn't answer. What's the big deal?

I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but I think we've got the wrong idea about what is and is not important in baseball because of the steroids scandal. We don't mind seeing Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens attacked, because they're jerks, but the others aren't worth dealing with. So when we see Miguel Tejada get attacked by an institution that caters to MLB so relentlessly like ESPN, we get confused. At its core, ESPN should be about covering sports as news, and whatever you think of Miguel Tejada, the fact that he — or someone — doctored his birth certificate so that he could earn millions of millions of extra dollars seems like sports news to me. If the New York Times broke this story, we'd applaud them for it, only that happens behind closed doors. It's the old sausage factory saw here: you might like journalism, but you might not like how it's done. This is how it's done. Good job, ESPN.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The sweep and the standings in a nutshell


















If you need words, try this.
Lugo!

Blogsville is bustling!

McGriff and McGwire
Joe Posnanski Interview
Nine best baseball uniforms
A history of multi-stretching
The fan fight to end all fan fights
Yep, Wang is definitely NOT an ace
Worst GM Poll: Jon Daniels vs. Bill Bavasi
Prospect Smackdown: Masterson vs. Bowden
Black Sox Pitcher Says 1918 World Series Was Fixed

BLACK SOX PITCHER SAYS 1918 WORLD SERIES WAS FIXED!!!!!!!!!

So much for the Curse of the Bambino. Kidding. But speaking of the Sultan of Swat, I leave you with a Dire Tune:

Joe Thurston Escapes From Evil Clutches of Yankees, Starts on Brady Day

Ah Patriots' Day. We once went to a Patriots' Day Sox game... and the Sox lost, 18-0, to the Minnesota Twins. I think we stayed three innings. Probably not going to have a repeat of that today, as the Sox are quite good these days and I'm behind a computer screen in New York. Batting ninth today? Joseph William Thurston. He's come along way. Here's a tidbit from his Wikipedia page:

On July 29, 2005, he was sent to the New York Yankees as part of a conditional deal. He played for their Triple-A team, the Columbus Clippers and was granted free agency after the season.

There's nothing more patriotic than escaping the Yankees. USA! USA! Go Sox!

Three weeks of numbers

Heading into this morning's Patriots' Day tilt with the Rangers, the Sox the sit at 13-7, tied for the most wins in the baseball with the 13-5 Arizona Diamondbacks. Having won four in a row and eight of their last nine, the Sox have made it through what was thought to be a difficult early-season schedule in pretty great shape. The offensive production has been plentiful and timely. Four games last week were won with late-inning rallies. The pitching, on the other hand, has left a lot to be desired. Here is how the Sox rank in several statistical categories:

3rd in runs (104)
1st in on-base percentage (.367)
1st in batting average (.295)
2nd in total bases (304)
6th in slugging (.446)
16th in home runs (18)
3rd in doubles (41)
10th in walks (73)
27th in runs allowed (97)
15th in hits allowed (163)
2nd in strikeouts (143)
29th in walks allowed (87)
24th in home runs allowed (20)

Beginning Tuesday, a three game set with the 12-8 Los Angeles Angels, who are second the Sox in average (.293) and lead the league in total bases (305).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Rangers refuse to win baseball games

Another day, another eighth in rally. It was an often maddening but ultimately rewarding game in which we witnessed:

  • Manny get ejected
  • The Sox strand 25 men on base
  • A rare Sox double steal!
  • Wake go 8 innings on 86 pitches
  • Ortiz tie the game with his speed
  • Wilson walk in the winning run
  • Lugo play the ninth in left field

The Manny ejection was inexcusable. Perhaps the pitch was a little low and outside, but you can’t get tossed in the second inning of game where your lineup is already without three regulars. But, you know, he's been pretty good lately, so we can cut him some slack. Frustration with Manny mounted when his replacement in the cleanup spot, Joe Thurston, stepped to the plate in the fifth with Lugo on third and Ellsbury on second and promptly grounded out to Michael Young to end the inning. The following inning Ellsbury popped out with the bases loaded and it seemed like it was just one of those days where no matter how many base runners the Sox got they would not score.

Then came the Rangers bullpen and the second eighth inning rally in as many games. C.J. Wilson, who entered the game a perfect five-for-five in save opportunities, gave up two runs on two hits and three walks without retiring a batter. Brutal. Credit due to Drew and Casey who had great at-bats against the lefty, both of them working a walk.

The Sox caught a break in the second when Ron Washington opted to have David Murphy sacrifice bunt. This was odd for a couple of reasons. It’s the second inning of a game you’re leading 1-0 and you give an out to Wake, who is prone to big innings and has just surrendered consecutive singles, and you’re putting two men in scoring position and leaving it up to Gerald Laird and Ben Broussard to take care of business. Laird grounds out, scoring the lone run of the inning, and Broussard strikes out. But let's not pile on Washington, he's got enough detractors as it is.

A perfect 5-0 weekend
And the Yankees grow more hilarious by the day
More on our pal Tommy Holmes

Sunday papers

Updating two stories below, Frank Thomas has been released and Hideo Nomo has been designated for assignment. My first though, any team in need of a DH that might have been considering Bonds could now scoop up the Big Hurt and avoid a PR hit. On Nomo, whose career is probably over, thanks for the no-hitter, that was special.

Pedroia sits today, Lowrie at second. Ellsbury leading off, Lowrie batting second. Youth! Aaaaand, Kinsler has just lead off the game with a home run. Anyway, enjoy the Sunday papers.

Arizona lefty eyes swift return from cancer
Cards are in odd spot with their offense
Yost not sure whether ace will miss start
Wrigley overtakes The Cell as nuthouse
Lackey ready to begin rehab assignment
Lester's goal was to strike first
Mets take shots at Phil fans
Tejada was better Oriole than many thought
Central may be open for White Sox
Helms rescues Florida in 9th
A's counter perception with support of RBI program
Rockies really cookin' on road
Japan had a love-hate relationship with Royals Nomo
Big Hurt cries foul over being benched by Jays
Ex-teammate Marzano's death rocks M's clubhouse
Another growing pain in Yanks' young arms
Hampton encouraging in bullpen session
Twins' win shows value of superior glove work
Familiar formulas falling short for Pads
Recovering Lopes pays a visit to Phils
Content Upton is just trying to win
Dodgers' Andruw Jones ends homer drought
Pirates must be held accountable
Reds lose arguments, game
Indians ace tries to get groove back
Rangers' pitcher makes outfield debut (huh?)
Giants call up Burriss, Davis is out
Turnaround for Astros unlikely, not impossible
Verlander still feeling good despite slow start
For Nationals, there's something in the error

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Like 60 Minutes, only terrible

“A trip to the Dominican Republic uncovers Miguel Tejada’s secret and shadowy past."

Bravo, ESPN, bravo! That was very funny. Oh, wait, you’re serious? He lied about his age and we caught him! But wait, there’s more! Not only did he lie about his age, he also lied about HIS IDENTITY! In the mid-nineties Dominican doctors combined Félix Fermín's brain, José Uribe's hands, Pascual Pérez's love of banned substances, and Izzy Alcántara's nefarious nature to create Miguel Tejada. Kinda like RoboCop, but on the juice.

If I had any faith in that clown I saw ambushing Tejada on SportsCenter, I'd think maybe this feature would take the issue seriously and attempt to get to the root of why it is that Dominicans are so desperate to get a contract that they lie about their age. You know, instead of playing gotcha with elderly shortstops. But I doubt it.

Manny might get to 600 by August

Joaquin Benoit? Please. It's disrespectful, having Benoit face one of the best all-time hitters with a man on in the eighth inning of a 3-3 game. Manny took his displeasure out on a pitch low and in and cranked it over everything in left. A no doubter the second he stepped in the batters box. Really, I started composing this paragraph before a single pitch was thrown.

That's three late-inning wins this week by my count. Moxie! The lifelessness of the first few weeks of the season is but a distant memory.

Of Lester's start we can say that he threw strikes and he battled. Making it into the seventh inning was great to see and although he allowed 10 hits he was able to limit the Rangers to three runs. Lester came up large in the third with two runners in scoring position when he struck out Murphy and Laird to end the inning. All in all, a step in the right direction.

We must also give some reluctant praise to Javier Lopez, who in the eighth inherited two men in scoring position and got Josh Hamilton to line out (on a screamer) to Ellsbury, ending the inning and keeping the deficit at one. He picked up the win for his one pitch of work.

Pedroia double. Ortiz single. Tie game. Manny. Game over.

Congrats to German Duran for collecting his first big league hit, a single in the second inning.

Jason Jennings kept the Boston bats very quiet in the middle innings. After an awful start to the season, and an ugly start to this game, he cruised.

Lugo extended his hitting streak to five games, but geez, he really is atrocious. He ended a budding rally in the seventh by hitting into an easy double play on the first pitch he saw.

Millwood and Wake tomorrow.

Jefferson on baseball

Reading this piece in the New Yorker, I was struck by something Thomas Jefferson in response to the oft-used query, "What would the Founders do?"

In 1816, when he was seventy-three and many of his revolutionary generation had already died, he offered this answer: “This they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. . . . Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.” The Founders believed that to defer without examination to what your forefathers believed was to become a slave to the tyranny of the past. Jefferson put it this way: “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.”

Naturally, my thoughts turned to the anti-Jamesian sect and their near religious fervor to protect popular baseball statistics of days gone by. Believing, it seems, that the introduction of new statistical concepts strips the game of all its history and charm, and viewing those who propagate treacherous ideas like secondary average as a threat. Bah!

I possess no more mathematical wizardry than a 40-year-old sports columnist who drives a Lincoln Town Car, eats at Applebee's three nights a week, tells his little league charges to "go up there swignin," and takes George Will's Men At Work with him wherever he goes. And yet, I appreciate progress of the human mind. I like Ideas. I can't make heads or tails of most of the numbers, but I'm trying, dammit.

Sad news, friends

John Marzano, 1984 first round draft pick of the Sox and member of the Silver-medal winning U.S. team at the 1984 Olympics, has died. Marzano played in 167 games at catcher for the Sox from 1987-1992. As a member of the Seattle Mariners, Marzano fought Paul O'Neill, which earns him major brownie points here. More recently, he worked in his native Philadelphia as a baseball analyst and sports radio personality. He was 45.

Dennis is angry

Blue Jay Frank Thomas is not happy about being benched in favor of Matt Stairs. And the same is apparently true of a man named Dennis, whose facial features are vaguely reminiscent of the Big Hurt.

Staying with the Blue Jays, yesterday I said David Purcey had a "decent start." I was wrong. Couldn't have been more wrong, really. It was late, I was zipping through the night's games, ignoring important statistical categories, like walks, for example. I'm sorry. Me and Pedro regrets the error.

Obligatory Wily Mo Update

Wily Mo has 6 strikeouts in 18 at bats for the Washington Nationals (zero moonshots). A Wily Mo strikeout once in every three AB's is the only scientific constant that I know of in sports. The Modesto K/AB Ratio is to baseball what Planck's constant is to quantum mechanics.

Alas, the K's aren't the worst part of his game. The Nationals Report discusses:

If you go back a couple posts you will see me waxing poetic about the great defense that our team had been putting on display through the first two weeks of the season. Well the day Wily Mo Pena came back into the lineup, that all went to hell. I think he's drugging the water cooler with suck-ness. For a guy so large, WMP moves extremely well. But, all the speed in the world can't make up for taking bad routes. Also, his running stride seems very bouncy and I think it may be causing him to lose focus of ball when it's in the air. I dunno maybe I'm just imagining things.

Bouncy stride! I love it. More physics! I have a very scientific suggestion for Wily Mo that might lower his refractive errors.

Eye on the pups

We've already discussed Hansen's recent success:

Hansen has pitched 9 1/3 scoreless innings in his first six appearances for the PawSox, after finishing last season with 14 2/3 scoreless innings. Overall, opposing batters are hitting .065 (2 for 31) against him this season, with most of his success coming against righthanded hitters, who have one infield hit in 24 at-bats. One Sox official said the team is impressed with the way Hansen has been asserting himself on the mound - the surgery for sleep apnea may be a factor - but they want to see him continue his early success before making any moves.
But another prospect who has taken a few steps back since becoming a professional is beginning to put it together:
In low Class A Greenville, converted reliever Daniel Bard must be getting close to a promotion. He pitched two more scoreless innings (1 BB, 2 K) and has a 0.00 ERA over 11 2/3 innings ... Don't know how long he'll stay in Greenville. Red Sox must hope he gains confidence as a reliever before sending him to Lancaster.

Bard, of course, was a college teammate of Andrew Miller at UNC. Miller has been walking a lot of dudes and allowing an assload of hits for Marlins this year.

Justin Masterson has been masterful(!) for the Sea Dogs. The 22-year-old native of Kingston, Jamaica, has struck out 13 and walked 2 in 14 innings, allowing just 2 runs. George Kottaras has five round trippers for Pawtucket. Lars Anderson, thought to be the Sox' lone power prospect, has 3 home runs and an .879 OPS for Class A Lancaster. No word yet on whether Oscar Tejada is really 18 years old.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Transcontinental ownage

So I'm watching a Celtic-Rangers game from earlier in week (think Sox-Yanks with a religious element, more racism and, loads of sectarian violence) and I'm thinking about how interesting it is that a Japanese fellow named Nakamura is an Old Firm veteran. Then he goes and scores an incredible goal, and it dawns on me, Matsuzaka beat the Rangers too! Remarkable. Take a look at the goal:



Back to Dice-K. Two walks this evening. We can live with that. I'll say it now, if Dice-K averages two walks a game he wins the Cy Young. Still, 101 pitches through 5.1 innings is a bit of a concern. Less walks is a start. Now throw more strikes!

Wouldn’t you know, Papi busts out of his slump with a guy named Mendoza on the mound. A grand slam and an RBI single. Patience paid off. Eventually you knew something would happen. And boy did it ever.



Jed Lowrie is batting .429 (coulda been higher if he weren’t called out on a highly questionable third strike) and he has zero errors. Be afraid, Julio Lugo, be very afraid. Or maybe Alex Cora should be afraid. No, not likely. Baseball 101 dictates that when Cora comes back Lowrie goes down to play every day.

Conflicted on Aardsma. Throws very hard but doesn’t strike a lot of guys outs and has control issues. If Timlin can't turn things around Aardsma could become an important part of the pen. My confidence in Timlin is such that when I saw him warming in the eighth inning of a 9-3 game I took pause. But remember, Timlin was dreadful in the early going last season, posting ERAs of about 6.00 through June, before having an incredible July (14.1 innings, 0 ER, .111 AVG) and holding opponents to a .192 average post-All Star break. All hope is not lost. Not by a long shot.

Around the AL East
Today was a banner day in Rays history. They signed Longoria to a long term deal and claimed Dan Johnson off waivers. Then they went out and lost to white Sox.

Perennial disappointment Daniel Cabrera held the Yankees in check this evening. Meanwhile, Phil Hughes struggled once again (0-3, 8.82 ERA). That's what happens to 21 year olds. It just is. He'll be fine. So will Clay, for that matter.

The Blue Jays? Barajas, looking beauteous in the powder blues, played first base and socked a solo home run. But the homer and David Purcey's decent start were wasted when Jeremy Accardo took his third loss in relief.

The rest of them teams
Torii Hunter doubled thrice and yoinked Richie Sexson's bid for a third home run to record the final out in the Angels' 5-4 victory.

Ben Sheets looked sharp, allowing two hits over five, but was forced to leave the game with a sore triceps.

With Sabathia struggling, Cleveland's other lefty continues to shine. Cliff Lee outpitched Francisco Liriano to improve to 3-0 and lower his ERA to 0.40.

David Wright collected four hits and Johan Santana struck out ten to lead the Mets over the Phils by score of 6-4.

Derek Lowe struggled in Andruw Jones' return to Atlanta as the Braves bested the Dodgers 6-1. But the real story is Glavine, who is going to the DL for the first time in his 22-year career.

Friend of Posnanski Brian Bannister had his first sour start of the season, allowing five runs in the A's 13-2 victory.

Dan Haren blanked the Padres over seven and Connor Jackson drove in four runs in the D-Backs 9-0 win.

There are more teams. Some of them won, others of them lost.

Week in Review: High Five



Manny: High Five
Javier Lopez: High Five
Royals!: High Five
Tommy Holmes: Sad High Five
Craig Hansen: High Five?
Lugo: ... nope, can't do it

And one more round of applause for Manny, who's really just out of his mind right now.

(And thanks to Funny or Die for making their videos an unwieldy size... yeesh.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Your crew is featherweight

That was a well-timed ode to Manny by Bryan. Tonight was Manny's night. By the third inning he had smacked two home runs off Mussina, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff on the all-time home run list in the process. Manny now has 495 career home runs, 55 of those have come against the Yankees. In the seventh, future hall of famer Kyle Farnsworth chucked one past Manny's ear. The Bronxfolk cheered, Manny grinned. Following the game Manny put a quarter in the clubhouse juke box and dedicated this classic piece of American songwriting to Messrs. Mussina and Farnsworth:



The anthem of the A-Rod era.

Manny was asked if he was excited to be approaching 500 career home runs. “Not really,” he said. “Because I’m going to 600.”

Also, Beckett was good. The middle relief looks dazzling when the starter goes 8, don't it? They're quite good sitting down, spitting sunflower seeds into a receptacle.

On Baseball Tonight Gammons gave creedence to something I had been thinking about just this morning. Craig Hansen and his 0.00 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in 9.1 innings at Pawtucket is likely to be up with the big club sooner rather than later. Gammons claims Hansen has rediscovered the delivery he had at St. John's. To which we can only say:

That He will guard thee by His might,
And be thy shield in every fight,
Thou champion of sacred rite,
Old St. John's! Our dear St. John's!


Gammons also added that Crisp could be headed to the Cubs, who are without Soriano and aren't getting any production from Pie. He mentioned Cubs' 22-year-old Boston native Sean Gallagher as a guy the Sox have interest in. I'll say again, we should not trade Coco Crisp.

Slow day in Blogsville

Beane v. Sabean
Perplexed Over C.C. Sabathia
Why the Tampa Bay Rays should sign Barry Bonds
Miguel Tejada needs two more birthday candles this year

Your Profanity-Free Thursday Afternoon Post

There's plenty I could be doing today that's not writing for the 40 or so of you who log on, dutifully, every day, to hear what two guys you may or may not know say about the Red Sox. Hell, I run a semi-respectable business magazine (Though that's all I'll say about it lest I end up like XMas Ape). But no: I'm going to talk baseball, or at least talk something. And before I continue let me just say I appreciate it, especially our Icelandic following, which, lest you think I'm kidding:

Though I worry a bit about the Icelandic economy in light of this week's New Yorker article that indicates the subprime disaster in the U.S. might take a toll on the island nation; like most of James Surowiecki's articles, I admire the writing and reasoning even if I'm straight bankrupt, intellectually speaking, on the subject.

If all of this is supposed to be a lead-in to some Red Sox thoughts... well, I'm not sure what to make of the team yet, except they're freaking awesome, and Manny is on a tear, and I can't believe this is probably his final year as a Sox. Or at least potentially his final year. For all that's happened in the last 10 years to transform the Cursed Sox into the Model Franchise, there was nothing bigger than when the Sox signed Manny. It's hard to remember now, but absolutely no one wanted to play in Boston in the late 1990s. Say what you want about Clemens' rampant a$$holitude, the man wasn't exactly breaking news when he said players hated the Sox' management. Add to that Boston's unsavory racial history, and suddenly a lot of people are using the "Fenway's locker rooms are too small" excuse not to play here. There was a time, in 1999, when we signed Jose Offerman and Sox fans got atwitter. That was the free agent we could get, that's the type of franchise we were, and nothing was going to change that.

Then the winter of 2000/2001 came along and fundamentally changed what it meant to be a free agent in baseball. The big names were A-Rod, Manny and Mike Mussina, though Darren Dreifort got a 5-year, $55 million contract too. Everyone got paid. Mussina went off the blocks early, but A-Rod and Manny dragged on and on and on. ESPN.com had a page where it would have all the free agents and the news of the day next to their faces; I must have reloaded this page at the college newspaper office once every five minutes. It just never occurred to me that a player could want to come to Boston, and yet the Manny saga dwindled to a two-team race between Cleveland and the Sox. I just assumed he would go back to Cleveland, but he didn't. One day, at my non-cable television home, my roommate came in and told me it was a done deal. I flipped on the radio and listened to the all-news station for an hour, waiting to hear the announcement every 10 minutes: "Manny Ramirez has signed with the Red Sox for 10 years, $200 million."

The next year, Manny hit a home run in his first Fenway Park at-bat, and it was on. People hated him from the get-go, though, because he didn't look like the typical Boston ballplayer, but all he did was hit and hit and hit. Through the years, people have attacked his spaciness, his oversized uniform, his dreadlocks, his tendency to admire home runs and doubles, his defense, his baserunning, his phantom injuries, his real injuries, his late-night drinking habits with Enrique Wilson, his trade demands, everything, and the guy just goes out there and hits like he's in a time warp. He's 35 years old now, but he might as well be 25. I chuckled when I read Baseball Prospectus' preview this year, because for all their number-crunching, they flat out blew it. They wrote that it was "fundamental that he is in decline." This based off one bad season, which increasingly looks like it's going to be sandwiched between two typically hall of fame years. So it goes.

At this point, Manny will leave the Sox as the second-greatest hitter in their history, and, like the first, he was not always beloved by the press. And in truth, David Ortiz has stolen some of Manny's thunder the last few years, but here's Ortiz, faltering for the first time in five years, and Manny keeps raking. Let's realize what we have before it's gone and give Manny the appreciation he deserves. To the best Sox hitter in 50 years. Hear hear.

Keeping up with old friends

Ken Rosenthal on former Greenville Drive manager, and current Brewers' RBI leader, Gabe Kapler:

The crazy thing about Kapler's return is that it could end as unexpectedly
as it started.

"I reserve the right to change my mind," Kapler says. "There are no rules
to this, absolutely no rules."

He had established a foothold with the Red Sox, laid the initial foundation for a fast-rising managerial career.

What happens next is anyone's guess, including his own.

In the past, Kapler says, he would try to plan the rest of his life in a single day. Now, he's reveling in the simple joys of playing baseball again.

"Let's not be naïve;: A lot of it has to do with the start," Kapler says. "But riding the subway to the park, thinking about the game, preparing for pitchers, watching video, putting on my socks, drinking the coffee, the whole buildup to the game ... I realize how much I love it."

Kapler and Braun, best Jewish duo in baseball history? Discuss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Moon Over Parma

No wait — that was just Manny's home run ball. Still:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Encore for Lugo

Manny's tie-breaking blast? Yes, of course, it was glorious. But let us not forget the double by Lugo that got things going in the eighth. He used his speed to do it, taking advantage of the weak arm in left. Then a nice bunt by Coco to move Lugo to third. Then a deep fly to left by Pedroia to score Lugo. Tie game. The announcers are giving all the love to Manny for the game-winning two-run shot. The blogsmiths will be sure to do the same. It's only natural. But here we applaud Mr. Lugo. Lopez one day and Lugo the next. If we rail against Papi, perhaps... no, we shan't. We can't. He doesn't need it anyway. With his two hits tonight the big man is batting over .100!

Borowski. Why? Are the Indians and Tigers engaged in some kind of ruinous Gooden-Stevenson-esque wager wherein the first to empl0y a real closer must relinquish a hefty sum of dollars? It's not worth it, friends. Might I suggest a synthesis of the two bets to spice things up? Each side takes an aged, bewhiskered closer: Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter to the Indians and the tragically under-medicated Jeff Reardon to the Tigers. At the conclusion of the season the team whose closer owns the best Beard Mass Index* shall be declared the winner.

*(Beard mass/Body mass)÷(Blown saves + Losses)

Tommy Holmes is dead

Who is Tommy Holmes? In 1945, as a member of the Boston Braves, Holmes hit in 37 consecutive games. This modern N.L. record would stand until 1978, when Pete Rose hit in 44 consecutive games. So that's cool. But I find the following much more interesting. According to the sponsor of Holmes' baseball-reference page (and why would he lie?), Tommy was "the only player to lead his league in HR and fewest K/AB in the same season. Also the only OF to end his career with more DP's than errors." Both of those achievements seem kind of remarkable. The latter is perhaps a bit superficial, but for our amusement let's compare Holmes with some guys who have won multiple Gold Gloves:

Tommy Holmes: 37 Double plays, 33 Errors
Roberto Clemente: 42 Double plays, 140 Errors
Willie Mays: 60 Double plays, 141 Errors
Al Kaline: 29 Double plays, 73 Errors
Curt Flood: 28 Double plays, 54 Errors
Dwight Evans: 42 Double plays, 59 Errors
Ken Griffey Jr.: 42 Double plays, 84 Errors
Andruw Jones: 24 Double plays, 44 Errors
Jim Edmonds: 29 Double plays, 51 Errors

I've always thought it's sad that kids who grow up in New England these days don't really learn anything about the Boston Braves. I know virtually nothing. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn a little about the 1945 N.L. MVP runner up. Unfortunately it only came about due to the man's death. RIP.

I want to talk about the Royals

Yesterday Brian Bannister tossed a complete game against the Twins. He is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA. Today Zack Greinke tossed a complete game against the Mariners. He is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Tomorrow the Royals trot out something named a John Bale. He is 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA. Just my luck that it's Bale's game I attend. The Bale-Batista matchup is certain to have me up late this evening as I consider the potential magic that is witnessing a combined twelve innings from two mediocre bullpens.

But back to Bannister and Greinke. Young Zack is reaching his potential after being felled by social anxiety disorder in the past. Good stuff. On Bannister, ah, Omar, does your Ambiorix hurt when you think about him? Is it a dull pain or is it humonburgos?

Alas, unless these gents keep the ERA's below one they might not be racking up the wins for long. Take a look at the Royals' offense: Last in the majors in runs (38), tied for the last in the majors in home runs (5!), last in the American League in total bases (143) and OBP (.309). None of this is surprising. Jose Guillen, Gil Meche turns his lonely eyes turn to you.

That R.A. Dickey throws a mean knuckler. And he mixes in some much harder stuff than Wake. The M's just called him up today along with Arthur Rhodes. I recall when Dickey was with the Rangers, Remy was fond of discussing "the thang." This Wikipedia tidbit (unsourced and perhaps apocryphal) is something I did not know:

His early success was considered to be due in large part to his wide array of pitches including: a fastball, changeup, curveball, and a special knuckle-combination pitch known simply as "the thang". There was some speculation that Dickey actually "stole" the pitch from Stoughton High School pitcher Paul Snyder, however after a brief dispute and failed lawsuit Dickey was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Incidentally, not long ago Omar Minaya was cleared of any wrongdoing after a brief dispute and failed lawsuit. It seems Jim Duquette claimed that Minaya "stole" his blueprint for building a championship ballclub.

Revenge

After taking two of three from the hapless Tiggers and the beat-up Yankees respectively, the Sox head to Cleveland for a two game set. With last season's ALCS defeat still fresh in their minds the Indians are going through the "it's just another series" song and dance. But is it really even that? What's with these two-game series? I hate 'em.

Lester vs. Westbrook in Game 1 and Wake vs. Byrd in Game 2. Westbrook has been quite good in his first two starts, allowing 2 runs in the first and 3 in the second. He's coming off a complete game victory against the Angels. Mr. Byrd has been in the news recently. Good for him. Perhaps he'll celebrate by lowering his 11.05 ERA.

And and yes, there's this, one scribe in Cleveland is calling for Manny's head (or ribs): "He needs to be knocked down -- at the least." But is Jake Westbrook really gonna put fear in Manny Ramirez? Please. Paul Byrd? HaHA! No, the only things that frighten Manny are barbers and clowns. So unless the Indians plan to reincarnate Sal Maglie or trade for Julian Tavarez, all payback attempts shall prove ineffectual.

Old friends Shoppach, Marte and Breslow are on Cleveland's roster.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Standing O For Lugo

From me, after his catch in the third inning. Feel (/field) the love.

Ben: A fine catch indeed. But any Lugo-related post requires at least a tinge of negativity. Thus, a note of concern from Extra Bases: Neither Papbelon nor Okajima are available tonight.

Ben: Did Gammons just call Cashman and Epstein "courageous"? No, no, Dayton Moore is courageous. Cashman and Espstein are resourceful. And very smart. I suppose a modicum of courage is required to pay Carlo Pavano $40 million, but still.

Ben: My oh my, Gammons is on a roll tonight: "The Yankees are going to have a lot of money at the end of the season." I love ya, Peter, but that was silly.

Ben: By the way, at this point the Sox are up 7-1 in the fourth. Since Bryan might not be back (I turned his Lugo post into a game blog, which is almost definitely against protocol) I might as well add that Lugo did something else good! He took a pitch that got by Jose Molina and scored Sean Casey. Then he walked.

Bryan: Speaking of Gammons, he seems older and cheerier since the aneurysm, which makes sense, but it really shows how old he is. Between the always sunny joy about baseball and his love of rock 'n roll, I think that his age kind of got obscured; I get the sense now that he's soaking up every moment for what it's worth. I'll return the favor w/r/t Gammons himself. For every Boston sportswriter of a certain age, including this one, he is THE inspiration, and not just for the writing: for the TV, all of it.

Also, good God, this game is long.

Ben: That a Sox-Yanks game is inordinately long is about as surprising as David Aardsma not being able to throw a strike. Argh. There's nothing that can make a long game even longer quite like the soft underbelly of the Sox' bullpen.

Way to go, Aardsma! I knew you could do it.

So you get through Aardsma's two innings unscathed and you breath a sigh of relief. Then it's Timlin's turn in the eighth. Home run. Single. Single. And then it's Javier Lopez's turn to try and save our bacon with two on and nobody out in a two-run ballgame. Gulp.

Javier Lopez has saved our bacon.

Red Sox batting stances


Via Deadspin. Youk taking a third strike is special.

Reminds us of this fellow, who assembled a more diverse cast of characters. The commentary, the office setting and the fact that he's doing it with a golf club add a nice flourish. His Boggs belongs in a museum.

Wily Mo made his season debut today

0-for-4, three K's, one double play, one error. Ouch. Ladies and gentleman, I move to christen that statline "The Modesto Cycle."

We watch the Masters and we ramble

J.D. Drew is batting .429 and David Ortiz is batting .070. The Orioles are in first place in the East and the Tigers are in last place in the Central. Gabe Kapler has four home runs and Prince Fielder has zero. Kyle Lohse is 2-0 and Justin Verlander is 0-2. Down is up and up is down. And yet, was there ever any doubt that Papbelbon would enter yesterday's game after a two-hour rain delay and K A-Rod on three pitches?



I had little interest in the curse of the buried shirt nonsense until this:
Steinbrener: "I hope his coworkers kick the shit out of him."
Castignoli: "Tell Hank he can come meet me if he wants to try - and tell him to bring Posada, because he's the one Yankee I can't stand."

Castignoli and Paps vs. Steinbrener and Posada. Pay-per-view! Let's make it happen. For charity, of course.

Meanwhile, back on the field, Phil Hughes and Dice-K face off in the rubber game this evening. In four starts against the Yanks last season, Dice-K was 2-1 with a 6.12 ERA. He walked 13 batters, hit two, surrendered 23 hits, and struck out 13 in 25 innings of work. Not too pretty, but we've seen hints that perhaps '08 Dice-K ain't the same guy he was in '07. Hughes has had two starts in '08, the second far better than the first. In all, 9 innings, 5 runs, 10 hits, 5 walks, 6 K's. Fun matchup. Can't wait for Joe Morgan!

Zach Hayes of Fire Brand of the American League is on board with championing Javier Lopez's extraction from the roster:

The Red Sox made two bullpen moves in the past week: designating both Kyle Snyder and Bryan Corey for assignment. I was high on Corey after an impressive call-up last season for Boston before he hit a major wall early this year, surrendering seven runs in just over four innings. While I would have departed with Javier Lopez, who does absolutely nothing well (do you trust him to ever retire a right-handed or left-handed hitter? Of course not. He’ll give up a hit or walk the guy), I can understand the Corey dump. Snyder’s departure was long overdue. The back end of the Red Sox bullpen is pretty weak, overall. Lopez and Tavarez are well below average, Timlin will remain effective but you never know when he’ll reach the end, and Aardsma has control issues.

Did you know Don Baylor, who blasted 31 home runs for the '86 Sox, had 52 stolen bases for the A's in 1976? I had no idea. Even more remarkable, the A's had three players with more than 50 stolen bases that year (Bill North with 74 and Bert Campaneris with 54 ). To put that in perspective, in the history of the franchise the Red Sox have had two players steal 50 bases in a season. In 1973, Tommy Harper swiped 54 and then we've got to go all the way back to 1912 when Tris Speaker stole 52 bags. Otis Nixon (42) is the only other Sox player to steal more than 40 in a season.

Sunday papers

Friday, April 11, 2008

Week In Review: Nostalgia



"Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It's a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship. It's a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel. It's called a carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels, around and around, and back home again... to a place where we know we are loved."

Doug Glanville!

Op-Edding in the Times on Clemens. Great stuff.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

That had not occurred to us, Dude

Stumbled across this at the Herald:

David Ortiz before and after the heart palpitations:

Before heart palpitations: 665 AB’s/68 HR = 1 every 9.78 AB’s
After heart palpitations: 658 AB’s/43 HR = 1 every 15.3 AB’s

As far as we know, the torn meniscus in his right knee that plagued Papi for all of last season was unrelated to the heart palpitations. And while we are not doctors, we feel safe in concluding that the the bum shoulder and strained quadriceps that nagged him throughout '07 were not caused by the palpitations. His .083 average in 2008? Now that's clearly the work of the palpitations.

Blogsville

Bruce Bochy Screws Up
Looking at the 2005 Draft
What's wrong with Barry Zito?
I Envy Others Who Still Can Hate
If The Office met Major League Baseball ...
Why the Rays are Better than The Yankees...right now
The most inaccurate baseball column you will ever read

Young AL East arms be dealing

26-year-old master of the changeup Shaun Marcum struck out eight A's and allowed one run in the Jays' 12-inning loss. Marcum has 16 K's in 14 innings of work.

Tampa Bay's Edwin Jackson, a 24-year-old with 5 years of big league experience, improved his record to 2-0 and his ERA to 0.64 with eight shutout innings against the Mariners.

Meanwhile, Adam Loewen is not dealing. The 24-year-old lefty went five innings, walking four and allowing four runs on six hits. Looking at the ERA's of a few of the the Orioles' starters (Cabrera 9.00, Loewen 7.45, Guthrie 5.11) I was wondering how they're 6-3. Then I looked at the ERA's of several of their relievers: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00. Not bad.

Tomorrow Clay faces the Yankees.

JD Drew is batting .440

Sometimes I watch Baseball Tonight. It's a serious character flaw. This evening Buster Olney told me the Sox are "looking around for a third baseman." Huh? Yeah, what say we trade for Crede so he can fill in for a fortnight? No. With Mike Lowell on the 15-day DL, Youk goes to third and Casey plays first. You know, like the lineup looked this evening, when the Mayor went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs in the Sox' 12-6 defeat of the hapless Tiggers.

How bad are things for the Tiggers? They have signed Casey Fossum! Remember him? The one the Sox were unwilling to part with in a proposed deal with Montreal for Bartolo Colon, but who was later sent to Arizona along with three others* in exchange for Curtis Montague. Yeah, turns out he's not a good baseball player. I see you Jon Lester. Jokes. It's all jokes.

*Others included in the package:
Brandon Lyon, Arizoa's closer (for now).

Jorge De La Rosa, who was soon traded by the D-Backs as part of a deal for Richie Sexson and was later traded for Tony Graffanino. One could say his desirability is trending downwards.

Michael Goss, who may or may not be the author of this book.

The Sox and the Homers They Hit

1. Dusty Pedroia: Lasers
The Little Pony doesn't hit'em often, but when he does, they get out in a hurry. Get ready for the laser show. Shockingly, the Caballero's most famous laser wasn't even a laser, but a shot (see: Ramirez, Manny) in game seven of the ALCS. And what a f*cking shot it was.

2. Kevin Youkilis: Dingers/Dongs
Youk isn't known for his power stroke, so when he hits one, it's time to ring the bell and buy a round of drinks for everyone. Youk went deep. Yooooooouk!

3. David Ortiz: Blasts
Big Papi's home runs threaten to hurt children as far away as Charlestown and to tear Boston from its foundation on the Earth. There's always a crater waiting to happen, be it in Boston, the Bronx, Anaheim, Japan, wherever. Hold on to your butts.

4. Manny Ramirez: Shots
Manny puts 'em out to all corners of the ballpark, whenever he feels like it, and he's going to his admire his shots. You are, too, unless you're K-Rod.

5. Mikey Lowell: Bombs
That pull stroke produces one result: bombs out to left field. A Mikey Lowell bomb is a no-doubter from the get go. Watch the classy guy bow his head and run around those bases. There's a curtain call waiting, friend.

6. J.D. Drew: Grand Slam
The one, the only, the best.



7. Jason Varitek: Jacks
JayVay just jacks it, from either side of the plate. (Yep.) When 'Tek comes'a'knockin', there's no doubt about it, just sit back and enjoy. You can set your watch to that flat top and about 15 of these per year.

8. Jacoby Ellsbury: If Jacoby Hits HRs, Just Give Us The Trophy
The boy who can do no wrong isn't supposed to go deep, so if he does, just run and hide. You're done. That swing is made for liners to center and doubles to left, so if he pulls one outta here, you might as well give up. So what if he's hitting .200. Everything will be fine. I said EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.

9. Julio Lugo: GIDPs
Just being honest.

Honorable Mention
Former Sox Dougie Mirabelli: Taters
Nothing was more perfect that a Dougie tater. The way the rounded K-machine just blasted those things was tatertastic. Let your soul patch glow. Good night, sweet prince.
Alex Cora hits Miracles
Kevin Cash hits Paydirt

Know Thy Enemy: Baltimore Orioles

It's never too late to jump back into our season previews. OK, perhaps the All-Star break would be pushing it, but for now we venture on. Today we look at a team that nearly every human projects to finish last in the American League East. Buoyed by a hot start to the 2008 season, Jon Fletcher gives his take on the Baltimore Orioles.

Lawyer jokes were created for Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Ten years too late, he has decided its time to blow up the O’s and rebuild. It seems the Birds finally have themselves a competent GM in Andy McPhail, as he got a quite a haul of young talent in dealing both fan favorites Bedard and Tejada in the off-season. Brian Roberts will likely be dealt before the all-star break if Petey doesn’t block a deal as he has often been known to do. The Orioles would love to finish 4th in the AL East again this year even though they have ended up there 8 of the last 9 years. That said odds are this is a 100 loss team. If there is a bright spot it’s that there is finally some young talent to look forward to in years to come. And fans still have the Crab Shuffle and Boog’s Bar-B-Q to distract them from the on the field product, in what still remains as one of the best stadiums in MLB, Camden Yards. O’s skipper Dave Trembley plans to use more situational hitting this year As of this writing the Birds are currently the best team in baseball at 6-1, and I had to put that in ink considering it probably won’t be said again as long as Angelos is alive. Let the Natty Boh flow, and ain’t the Beer cold!

The Lineup
Brian Roberts 2B
Melvin Mora 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Kevin Millar 1B
Ramon Hernandez C
Aubrey Huff DH
Luke Scott/Jay Payton LF
Adam Jones CF
Luis Hernandez SS

Millar keeps telling the media that this is a World Series team. Kevin has a wonderful sense of humor as Sawks fans know. Scott and Jones should post respectable numbers even though expectations are tempered. Millar in the clean up spot has worked out thus far (7 games in). Orioles’ fans dream of the future of a Markakis, Jones, and prospect Nolan Reimold OF. With any luck Reimold will possess what Jay Gibbons didn’t, a consistent power bat with good plate discipline. Scott Moore had an impressive spring and should see some playing time at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. Huff needs to improve drastically from last year.

The Rotation
Jeremy Guthrie
Daniel Cabrera
Steve Trachsel
Adam Loewen
Brian Burres

Along with the Nats, Rangers and Royals this is probably the worst rotation in the bigs. O’s fans gotta keep believin’ that this will be the year that Cabrera will gain control of his filthy stuff. One can dare to dream. Loewen has yet to show much improvement and I would still call him a project. Jeremy Guthrie the Indians throw away is the ace of this staff. I cringed wiring that.

The Pen
Randor Bierd
Matt Albers
Dennis Safarte
Chad Bradford
Jamie Walker
Greg Aquino
George Sherrill

The lefty Sherrill brought over from the M’s in the Bedard trade has never closed before. He will be given a long leash but if he falters look for Aquino to step into that role. Bradford (R) and Walker (L) are the pens top setup men. Safarte who came over in the Tejada deal, has control issues but looks to be the long reliever. The coaching staff is high on Albers who throws gas in the upper 90’s. The bullpen thus far has been the strength of the team and looks much improved over last season. Fatigue could be an issue as the starters will seldom go deep into games.

Jon Fletcher fondly recalls the days of Chuck Thompson, EBW, and the 1983 World Series champs. As a youngin’ he fondly remembers hearing Phils LF Gary Mathews being called words he never heard before in the bleachers of Memorial Stadium. He currently coaches his nephew’s machine pitch Astros squad but refuses to wear the cap still protesting the 1991 deal for Glenn Davis.