5.29.02: Manny thoughts. Two-cents while trying to program my Tivo to
record Lou Merloni vs. Ben Affleck, Celebrity Boxing III on Fox next
Sunday night. Lou, you gotta be thick-skinned like Manny. He would love
getting roasted by a celebrity if he knew it was happening. While Ben's
busting chops was quite funny, his muffed play-by-play was as wooden as his
acting. And nice comebacks from the clubhouse over the Affleck flap, Lou can
quit his part-time day job anytime.
6:00pm is the deadline for submitting your resume to become a
Fenway Ambassador. Successful candidates "are intended to be the
pinnacle of customer service, good will, kindness, and helpfulness. These are
people who inherently go out of their way to meet and help people, to solve
problems, to thrill children, and to spread the magic of baseball throughout
New England." We've been taking care of this job outside the park since last
July. I guess the check is in the mail right Larry :-) ? They're going
to get about 10,000 resumes from blanketing Boston.com all week for the three
open positions. Nice grassroots database building guys. And what
happens to all the cranky white-hairs clogging up the aisles already?
Deep breath, repeat after me... "he just crushes the ball... he just crushes
the ball." Hey send us a postcard at least will ya' IronManny?
Don't you have friends in the old neighborhood that you wouldn't mind seeing
in Gotham City this weekend? What the hell are you doing down there?
Better not be recording a new single, that won't work. Hope you're just
setting up Nintendo GameCube's all over the house, planting your tomato
garden, or watching South Park. See you in July buddy, don't worry about nothin'.
The statute of limitations just ran out. You can no longer refer to Juan
Pena's two starts in '99 as a reason to call him up. But you can reference his
towering ERA and the fact that he's given up more home runs that the Yankees
hit this month as reasons not to put him on the bus.
Alright Grady, I get it. Pedro should probably sit on Sunday. Hey Buckley,
yeah Buckley, where was your know-it-all rant about Pedro starting in New York
yesterday? Pure genius calling for him to sit after last night's game
blowhard. Had those of us who "know nothing about baseball, know nothing about
Pedro... or both" known that he had complained of a heavy arm during long-toss
on Sunday, the decision would have been as obvious as your elitist Monday
morning quarterbacking. Nice grift Grady. Bonus points for keeping it
Sat two seats over, one back from Peter Gammons at the Pedro/Yankee game at
Fenway last week. He was affable to the fans behind home plate, shrugging when
asked if Tony Clark's swing can be saved, and telling me that Wells was all
set to go on Saturday. He stood up for every two-strike count along with the
rest of us, but he wouldn't physically clap when Pedro got the K. Gasbag
stares at his cell phone more than a Marblehead girl in an Irish bar. Is he
just checking the sports ticker or waiting for Mike Hampton to call to confirm
his trade to the Red Sox for Ramirez?
Derek Lowe has the biggest start of his career Friday night.
5.28.02: Good move, bad move. Thank God Grady came to his senses and has decided
to sit Darren down for a bit. I'm not convinced that Oliver is a piece of ju...
err uh... is totally hopeless... as a player (note: Darren is a wonderful
person). But it was time to make the switch, albeit a day late to
salvage the Yankees series.
Moving on to Pedro: Bad move. They may not get swept in
the Bronx with a rotation of Lowe, Arrojo, Castillo, but they could
easily lose two of three under Grady's plan. But then we've got Pedro
pitching against the Mighty Tigers in Detroit on Monday, ugh! I don't like
it one bit. How about a Little Carpe Diem?
Seize the moment Grady. Get tough Grady. And suck it up Pedro, you can get five
days of rest over the next three starts by going Sunday and then next Saturday
(using the two off days June 13th and 17th to "protect" him again). Keeping
Pedro on schedule this week will also allow him a second start in New York on
Sunday July 21st, instead of starting against Tampa at Fenway the game after.
Never mind the psychological side of the situation, the full game gain in the
standings is huge as this race seems destined to go down to the wire. And New
York doesn't seem to lose to White Sox of the world as easily as the Red Sox do.
A game swing in the standings now = a game swing in the standings in September.
The math don't lie. No one is asking Pedro to pull a Bob Gibson here, just
asking him to go about his normal routine for one more week.
Go for the green Grady, just like you would on the 16th at Pinehurst. You are
playing for first place in the American League's Eastern Division. This is no
time to settle or talk wildcard. Success against the Yankees is your choice. If
you choose to sit him on Sunday, fine. But as Rick Pitino used to say, it stinks
and it sucks.
5.26.02: Trash talk.
"I don't know him as a person. I wanted him to explain himself as a
professional athlete and tell us what he was trying to do up there."
Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe
confirmed on WBZ-TV 4's Sports Final last night that the "piece of junk" line
from his column on Sunday referred to Jose Offerman the player and was also
related to the fact that Off decided not be accountable to the Nation after the
defeat on Saturday.
far as Dan saying he wants to get the answers for the fans, he's absolutely
right. The huge majority of Red Sox Nation wants the Junkyard Dog to explain
what happened with that 8th inning at-bat.
heard Nomar, Johnny, Oliver, even Willie Banks take the heat, blame, and/or
responsibility for their performances after a game, why not Jose Offerman? I'm
offended that I paid $60 to watch him perform but he won't even talk about his
failure to execute the critical bunt on Saturday, punting instead. After the
loss, I wanted some closure and peace-of-mind via some direct answers to the
obvious questions: What was Offy thinking about going to the plate? Did he
try to drag bunt for some reason? Did he really want to bunt? Has he been
working on bunting in practice? How is it going? And what about the second
strike? I don't have access to the clubhouse to ask those questions, Dan
Shaughnessy does. He, like it or not, is your liaison to Jose Offerman when
Whether or not Offerman executed the play, he should be willing to explain
himself to the fans who have supported him at the gate, watched him on NESN, and
purchased those MLB "Offerman" shirts from Twins Souvenirs, both of them.
the over-the-top "piece of junk" phrase is just an old-school term. I sat near
an old-timer the other night who called another player "a piece of garbage" and
I knew what he meant. You can argue the semantics to death but what's the point?
tragedy, beyond our 'On-the-Decline-Since '99' first-base DH-man, was that
Gordon Edes wrote the funniest column of the year about Miami Beach Manny
yesterday. But Shaughnessy's Jose junket (maybe he just should have said Jose
stunk) continues to jettison all other sports talk, Celtics comeback included.
5.23.02: Bigger than a breadbox.
Happens every time. New York comes to town, and everybody wants to know if the
Series means more than every other series against any other team. The players
publicly say they weren't looking ahead when they were asleep at the wheel
against Chicago. Grady will tell us they ran into another upstart pitcher and
got caught up in his "hornet's nest." Maybe they did, maybe they didn't.
The players will play these four games pack their bags, and head off to battle
Toronto, simple as that.
But it's not that simple. This Yankee Series is
huge. After all the talk of record setting starts, the New Boston Red Sox find
themselves only one game up as the For-Real New Bronx Bombers, of 74 home run
fame, come to town again. With Manny out, the Olde Towne team still has to
make its move on the home grass. So this Series is really BIG (just don't talk
about it in front of the players).
And the next 6 Sox/Yankee games are in New York
with only two more left at Fenway. Two Red Sox/Yankees at Fenway for the rest
of the summer after this weekend. Ridiculous scheduling.
Manny won't be around for the next series and Boston can't expect to
win four out of six in the Bronx.
This weekend however, the pitching match-ups
are going our way (except for the Mussina mismatch on Sunday). Burkett over
Clemens, no problem. Rocket fizzles on Friday. Lowe is always set to go. Three
out of four expected again.
This is Gigantic. Gargantuan. But hopefully not
We know what happened there.
5.17.02: Deep Thoughts. No one is really talking out loud about Nomar's average season (some would say slump) so far. Is the problem just the
long layoff? The wrist isn't bothering him but all the clutch pop-ups are
starting to bother some whispering citizens of Red Sox Nation (RSN). His
On-base-Plus-Slugging (OPS) is way off, but more importantly, where have all
the long balls gone?
I have no problemo with Manny's Miami vacation
this time around. The guy is on the DL and won't be back until July. He cannot
pinch hit like he could have when the season ended in Texas during last
summer's infamous stretch-and-spa. The Animal Group takes care of all the
cheerleading, and we've got Nomar, Nixon, Jason, Pedro, Rickey, and Carlos to
lead the team now.
The Daubach trade watch, Offerman release watch,
Rickey retirement watch, Nomar wrist watch, Damon's Boston adjustment watch,
Burkett's American League return watch, Coleman call up watch, Derek Lowe
stamina watch, Hillenbrand's horrible OPS watch, and Sanchez' bat will kill us
watch are officially over. But keep your eye on Pedro and Jason.
slightly-tipsy-from-the-watered-down-Bud-Lights father hysterically berated
him all night from the first-base box seats on Tuesday (I think even Clark was
laughing), I'd like to stick with Long Tall Swing Tony until the All-Star
break. These are the things you can do when you're 27-10 and enjoying the
early ride. The crowd nearly broke into a legitimate standing ovation
Wednesday when Clark struck the 420 foot triple to the Deepest Part of the
Ballpark (DPB). It can happen for Clark. Let the $5M bet ride, and let Little
roll the lineup dice.
The Trot move was smooth all around. Trot can
throw a bat and hit a particular knuckle on a pitcher's hand if he wants to.
Grady and the team endorsed Trot's bat-slip, knowing the Rupe was on fire then
decided to go headhunting three times. There was no other way to get to him.
And if Rupe thought Trot was throwing at him, he should have charged the plate
right? There was no danger of anyone getting hit by that bat. Trot's
really-sick-leave against the lefty pitching lineup worked out perfectly
suspension wise. Nixon returns tomorrow and gets his 25HR, 90RBI or better
when the season is all said and done.
Hermanson is going to be huge upon his comeback.
Barring a complete meltdown by Darren Oliver, there is a good possibility
Dustin replaces so-so Castillo in the rotation and makes his debut June 1st...
in New York to face the "under-the-radar-screen" Yankees.
5.13.02: Finger pointing. The Boston media dares you to blame Mike Cubbage for Manny's injury. They're ready to give you the finger just for
having the thought pass through your head. Go finger.
OK, fair enough, Mike's a great guy and he did not
directly cause Manny's injury. But, along with Grady, did he indirectly cause
the damaged digit?
They both claim that they "try" to teach these
guys how to properly slide. But if the students ain't learnin', the teachers
ain't so good are they?
How about our Rickey? Is he a role model for
Manny? Henderson only has about 2,000 head first slides under his belt, and is
a ring leader of the four amigos. He should say adios to the headfirst too,
but you're not going to teach the oldest dog safe tricks.
And we can get a couple of MIT freshmen to show us
that head first sliding isn't any faster than feet first. And even Manny may
know that it's a 160 million percent more dangerous for a baseball hitter to
fly through the air into a full-metal-jacketed catcher, in the raw at full
sprint, fingers first.
So why is it not a team rule that you cannot slide
hands first into a catcher, never, ever? Enforceable by a hefty kangaroo-court
fine? Put it in the contract (The Player's Association would love it yes).
But even if Manny didn't know best, and didn't
learn a thing from Harper, or Cubbage, or Grady himself, they knew he would go
head first given the situation. Once he rounds third with his newfound hustle,
they all know he's going to head in hands in. So how can you send him in the
It's not about being aggressive, or that he would
have scored without a bang-bang play. If you send him, he's sliding, and all
the evidence points to him sliding in hands first.
The Manny in the mirror is 100% responsible for
his slide decision. But Grady and Cubbage are 100% responsible for putting
Ramirez in a position to be injured, baseball faux pas aside. They knew how he
was going to slide.
5.12.02: The Panic Room door is wide open.
The streaks, records, and coasting talk is back on
the shelf. The soft schedule and Tampa Bay beatings are a distant memory.
Tonight becomes a psychological Must Win as the plot suddenly thickens.
What will life be like without Planet Manny? A
four-play of Rickey, Daubach, Offey, and Clemente in left? Where's Izzy when
we need him (tearing up the IL again)? Is there a trade to be made?
If Nomar moves up to bat clean-up, who bats third
now? Will Grady force Trot up top now? Or is Offey the man after Rickey and
Johnny? Is Carlos Baerga the missing link?
First things first, can we handle more Clark at
bats, another trickle down effect of Cubbage-gate? I don't think so, that bat
is so damn slow. Can you also imagine the cries across the Nation now if
Offerman had been let go?!?
And we'll leave the four and five starter concerns
for another day. The Panic Room door is wide open without them.
The Sox are failing the real test of the west and
they'll get a steady diet of Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, and New York over the
next month along with a boatload of lefties. Without Manny.
Where are the Dirt Dogs when you need them?
5.10: They're out there.
Yes, even now, the Fellowship of the Miserable is
alive and well and they're not happy. And they number more than a few. Having
the Best Record in Baseball and being seven losses ahead of the Yankees is not
a cheery place for many citizens of Red Sox Nation.
Despite the 24-7 "pinch me" start, 312-2 record on
the road, nine in a row and counting, there lurks doubt about the future
because of the past.
They say we've been here too many times before.
The infamous Red Sox fast start, which is usually the harbinger of the
September swoon. "What about being up 14 games on the Yankees in '78?" What
about it? Forget about the past. The future is now. But life isn't good living
in the now for the Miserable fellows.
They'll say "Oakland is not that good anymore."
Well, they're right about that. The A's have clearly lost some Swagger in the
Hatteberg/Pena for Giambi swap. But what will the excuse be when they put
Seattle to sleep? Don't tell me "they didn't have to face Freddy Garcia."
And there's "you can't count on Oliver and
Castillo holding up, we'll need more pitching in August"... "Rey Sanchez'
career OPS will catch up to him someday ya know." The paranoia knows no end
for some tortured souls of this war torn Nation.
They can't handle winning because they can't live
without loss, anger, and controversy. They cannot live with the Best Record in
Not today, not in May.
5.6.02: Is this Duke's team? The short answer is no, and yes. There's
a large contingent out there that wants Dan Duquette to get 100% credit for
anything that takes place on the field in 2002. Nice try.
Yes Dan did spend John-Gone's $160M to get Manny.
And he did give Johnny Damon the amount he asked for. But is there talent in
those moves? Or just a wide open wallet? Yes, Darren Oliver was a great
pickup, but wasn't Dan just cleaning up his own mess by introducing us to Mr.
Everett in the first place? But I'll give him credit for signing Sanchez and
Baerga and trading for Pedro, Lowe, and Varitek. No question.
Duquette did sign nearly everyone on the 2002
roster, but that does not mean the game stops there. Granted there were major
injuries in 2001, but this team fell completely apart under Duke's watch
last season. And he also has to take credit for $25.5 million of salaries that
were only worth minor league money in Bitchette, O'Leary, and Lansing.
And human relations is not just "PR." People
matter. Duke dropped the ball badly on that front. Why couldn't Dan have fixed
the clubhouse area the way the new group did in about 30 days? Duquette would
have us believe that since Fenway is 90 years old, there's nothing you can do
(except of course rip out the couches as he did when Joe Kerrigan took over
last August). Small item, but it means a lot to the players. They have been
heard, actions were taken, and it makes them want to be on the same page as
everyone else in the organization.
Like Rick Pitino, who you can make the same
argument that he built the Celtics, Duquette had to leave before things got
better. The looseness, togetherness, and new attitude that personifies the
2002 edition would not have been prevalent with Mr. Stiff at the helm. The
team is more than its collective signings.
And have you listened to Larry Lucchino speak to
the fans on the radio? Straight-forward, engaging, affable, informative. Do
you remember how plastic and disingenuous Duquette was for the past eight
years? Did he ever really give us a straight answer to a question?
The answer is no, and no.
5.03.02: And they're off. In the
spirit of the Kentucky Derby tomorrow (please, no wagering), if the some of
Red Sox were horses, they'd be named:
- Bettor Offerman
- Lowe Down Dirty Shame
- Can't Stop the Clark
- Hot to Trot (loves the slop)
- Jason X
- Johnny Come Lately
- Dau-Back of the Pack (but closing on the rail)
- Whoa Henry!
- Martinez of Manoguaybo
- Nomar Comin' in Second
- Manny's in the Money
- Lucchino's Lucky Day
- No Stoppo El Guapo
- The Hermanator II
- Urbina Berry Bad Boy
- The Shea-Hey Kid
- Just Call Me Rickey
And in honor of Boston and the Red Sox, I'm laying
it all in on 'Came Home' and local boy Chris McCarron. But it will be 'Came
Home' sliding, not standing up.
5.02.02: Hats off. Sorry for the late post... I just stopped
laughing from watching Manny fool everyone, including himself, on that warning
track pop-up. Thank God he hits a ton.
That was a huge night for Jose Offerman. I'm On
Again Offerman Again. But I'd like to see Dauber more at first.
Maybe Offie can be the new Rickey? Henderson may
be heading west this weekend if he doesn't get 43 at bats per week. But unlike
Bitchette, Lansing, and O'Leary, the old goat can still go. He actually makes
Manny look slow going up the first base line on ground balls. Thank God
they're 17-7 and no one cares what Rickey says right now.
Larry Lucchino gave big props and kudos to Duke
and Kerrigan for their contributions to this year's team. He is mindful that
the success of the team is built upon some of the moves the previous
administration made, e.g., acquiring Sanchez, Lowe's conversion to starter,
But, the success of the new Red Sox is also a by
product of the new energy and enthusiasm throughout this organization. As Shea
Hillenbrand said on NESN's Extra Innings "it's not just the new players, or
the new attitude in the clubhouse, it's the entire organization working
together as a unit. It's Mike Port, Larry Lucchino, John Henry. It's fun to be
a part of this, and those guys put us in the best situation to succeed."
5.01.02: Are the dirt dogs in Grady's dog house?
No? Then how do you explain why part-time DH Dauber, the starting first
baseman last year coming off his third consecutive 20+ homer season, is now
relegated to third-string first baseman? It don't add up Grady. Especially
when Brian is putting up the third best OPS on the team at .971 in very
And again, Little thinking caused Trot's slow
start. He should be in the two or five hole, period. Everybody and their
grandmother got a day in batting second but not the guy who did it the most
last season? It don't add up Grady, and unfortunately Nixon's 20 strikeouts in
Best thing about the Bruins getting bounced? No
more foolish, phony "AAAhhh Team, One Dream" battle-cry ads on NESN.
What was up with that? Any corny Dream themes are reserved for the Red Sox
anyway. Nightmare. "Hello? ...cool dogs... Hello?"
Corsi's Corner: Jim's starting to get Extra
Ornery... after trying to spin the old "you never played the game" crap on the
fans and Bob Rogers on Monday, Jim's jab last night was "maybe this will SHUT
UP all the Manny criticizers out there." He must have been talking about
Manny's clean play off the Wall, not his slow crawl to first on the grounder.
Note to Grady: "I Love that Kid" too, but a little hustle goes a long way at
John Henry on Darren Oliver's performance last
night "that wasn't really a fair trade was it?" Call me a lap dog, but I love
Congratulations to Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino who
tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend Stacy Ballard at the ripe young age
of 56 (Mom, Larry just set the new Bachelor Benchmark at 56, sorry).
Bites - Current
Barks and Bites - March/April 2002
2001 Barks and Bites