Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
It looks like another one of my favorite players may be on his way out of Boston. The Red Sox and the Rockies are having "serious upper level" discussions about a trade. The guy in the picture, Mike Lowell, along with Crazy Julian and maybe prospects, to the Rockies for Todd Helton. Seems like the only hitch in the giddyap is what prospects and how much of Heltons roughly $90 million he is still owed the Rockies will pony up for.
I know Mikey has only been here one year, but man, do I love to watch him play. Just like the guy he replaced, Billy Mueller, Lowell brought his lunch pail to work every day. He played a mean 3B, and the time he DOVE flat out for a pop up bunt early in a game was one of the best defensive plays I saw all year. He turned the Green Monster into a landing zone for doubles, doing exactly what Epstein thought he would: became a doubles machine.
I may not be qualified to talk about how I don't like change. I drive my wife nuts when she moves the furniture around, or we have to get a new car, or she moves my socks to a different drawer. In fact, to say I don't like change is the equivalent of Reagan did not really care for the USSR: a BIG understatement. It's just when there are 7 guys by my count left from the 25 who won it all just 3 years ago, that seems like A LOT of change. Think about this, from last years starting 9, Loretta, Gonzalez, and Trot are already gone. Wells, Foulke, and Jason Johnson are gone from the staff. (OK, I should not have said that. Jason Johnson pitching for the Red Sox NEVER happened, you hear? It NEVER happened.) You get my point.
When I was a kid, guys stayed with teams their entire career. In football, you had L.T. and the Giants, Staubauch and the Cowboys, and Bradshaw and the Steelers. In baseball, 2 guys going into the Hall of Fame next year, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn spent their entire career with the organization that drafted them. Even the Yankees (And I HATE writing this) have consistently signed their own guys to extensions, even when they maybe did not deserve it. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Rivera, etc... Meanwhile, the Red Sox ran Pudge Fisk out of town, "forgetting" to forward his contract to him on time. So this is nothing new for them.
I'm a grown up (well, I am 36 years old and we'll leave it at that), so I can see the business side of all this. The Red Sox do not make decisions based on warm feelings or what the fans want. See Nixon, T. and Damon, J. as examples of this. As long as they put a good team on the field each year, with a shot at making the show, I'm ok with that. Who I feel sorry for are the kids, especially my own. Ciera had the hardest time figuring out why they traded Nomie, or why Pedro and Damon did not re-sign. I buy all these things with Papi and Manny on them for Rakes and Trot, and know that one day it'll break their heart when they go.
I'll support any man wearing the Red Sox jersey. And while I'll tell myself not to do it, I'll be teaching Rakes how each one stands in the batters box by May 1st. And come next winter, I'll be disappointed when we don't resign this guy, or trade that guy. I'll get to try to explain to Ciera and Rakes why this has to happen. And I don't really know how I'll do that. How do you tell a child that real life sucks, as opposed to what you wish it was?
I guess all I can do is try to teach them what I tell myself: It's not about the name on the back of uniform. It's about the name on the front.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
I had a world class migraine yesterday afternoon and all night long. One of those that it takes all your effort to just hold your head still to keep from getting sick. If you have never experienced these particular joys of life, imagine someone hitting you repeatedly about the head with a ball peen hammer. Then times that by 50, and you get the idea. Back before I had any of the rug rats, and it was just Angie and I, when these headaches would come on, the solution was easy. Go to a dark room, lay perfectly still, and a pray to God they would go away, or that someone would just shoot me, whichever came first. This was from 1992-1998. During that same time, the Boston Red Sox were mediocre at best, finishing in 7th, 5th, 4th, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 2nd place during those years, with one division title and one wild card berth.
Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give up
Ciera came along, and immediately wrapped her Dad around her little finger. I spoiled her rotten, and still do, with the firm belief (Prayer?) that if I treat her so well, and baby her so much, that no man will ever be good enough for her. I know this is HIGHLY unlikely, but if she does get married, I'm at least making sure the little weasel who is the lucky fella is going to have to WORK at it. He's got a lot to live up too. Whenever the headaches came during this time period of 1999-2002, I pretty much could do what I did before Ciera came along. Being that she was a girl, and close to perfect, I could just go lay down and wait for relief or death, it didn't really matter which. Things, coincidentally, started looking up for the Red Sox. For the next 4 seasons, they finished in 2nd place each year, with one wild card berth.
Remember when thirty something seemed so old
Now looking' back, it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are,
where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
In 2003, Rakes was born, seemingly with a built-in megaphone. This boy even sleeps loud. He yells everything, laughs like a drunk hyena, and runs everywhere. Then, last March, baby Trot came along. And while he's a good baby, he has developed his brothers in your face way of communication. Just recently he's figured out how to scream when he's hungry, rather than his old method of just crying hysterically until he got his food. Trust me, the new way is NOT better. Last night when I got the migraine, I could not lay down. The boys are like Tommy Lee Jones character in "The Fugitive". There is not a bathhouse, gas house, or out house you can hide in. So, I just sat in the chair doing my best not to throw up for 3 hours, while the 3 of them ran around whooping it up at a volume I can only describe as being close to the sound a jet makes at Mach 3.
For the Red Sox during these last 4 years, unless you've been living in lower Mongolia, you know things have been good, great at times. 2003 they win the wild card, have the epic ALCS with the Yankees, and Aaron Boone becomes a figure in history. 2004, same finish, same ALCS, only this time the baseball God's were smiling, and after the greatest comeback in sports history, the World Championship came home to Boston. For the first time in 86 years.
Do I think my children coming along had anything to do with this? Nah. I just know that them entering this world has brought me more happiness and more joy than at any time in the 28 years before. The Red Sox winning the World Series? Just icing on the cake.
Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
Remember what we had
Think I'll still be sad when that happens. And there are a lot of baseball seasons left ahead.
I've got at least 18 more years where at least one of my children will still live at home, and I'll be 54 years old then.
Anybody know how old you can be and still adopt?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I understand baseball is a business. And the objective of any business is to make a profit. But, according to everything you read, that objective is already being met. Last year, most teams posted record revenues, attendance was up, ratings, etc... Just take a look at some of the money being tossed around this off season: Soriano gets $136 from the Cubs, Zito and the Giants, Gary Freaking Matthews getting $50 million from the Angels. Even the Red Sox hopped on board the insanity bus, giving Daisuke Matsuzaka, a man who has thrown exactly 0 pitches in MLB, over $50 million dollars. That does not even take into account the $40 plus million they forked over just for the right to TALK to him about playing for Boston.
I'm not some guy who gripes about how much athletes and owners make: Somebody offered me $100 million dollars to do something, sign me up. And I'm all for the owners putting a little in their pockets. But for MLB to basically say "Screw You" to every fan that buys the package through something other than DirecTV is asinine. I LOVE baseball. And anyone else who spends $150 dollars to watch the games does too. And MLB could care less.
I'll give you an analogy: My daughter Ciera, is the most precious thing I have in this world. From the day she was born, she has been Daddy's girl. I read the stories at night, I say the prayers and tuck her in at bedtime, and I'm always the one she comes to when she falls and skins her knee. I walk her into school every day, all the way to class, and she kisses me good bye on the cheek in front of all her class. Yeah, I know it'll change one day, but I hope we can always be close.
I love her more than I can put into words, and I'm sure any Dad would feel the same way. So lets say one day, when she is ready to get married (when she is 40 preferably) she calls me up and tells me: "Dad, I appreciate all you've done for me over the years, how loyal and protective of me you were, how you always told me you loved me when you left the house, but if you want to come to the wedding, you have to suddenly become really rich and be a member of the "I'm a Rich Knob Country Club" and buy a Bentley."
MLB is essentially telling all the loyal fans who buy the extra innings package (you think the band wagon jumpers are gonna shell out $150 bucks a year?) Thanks. We appreciate you devoting so much time and effort to watching our games. Now go take a flying leap. You spend $150 dollars, we just got $700 million. Who cares if you are upset?
They don't care about the fact my daughter is mad at me for 6 months because I'm monopolizing the main TV while she wants to watch "The Suite Life of Zac and Cody" for the one millionth time. Or that I've kept us from going out to eat for over an hour because the dad gum Sunday day game has gone into extra innings. Or that during the west coast trips I wake up for 10 days strait looking like Rocky the Raccoon because I'm working on 3 1/2 hours of sleep. They could give a flip that my wife has me sleeping on the couch and going to marriage counseling because, her words, "You are OBSESSED with the Red Sox, and our marriage is falling apart."
OK, the last one I made up, but you get the point. Once again, the everyday fan is getting squeezed, while the Man just lines his pockets. And I'm disgusted with the whole thing.
By the way, I went and talked to the DirecTV folks today about when they can come hook me up.
I'm disgusted, but I'm also obsessed, remember?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I'm torn on the "Steroid era" guys. Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, etc.. I gotta admit, when Sosa and Big Mac were bashing home runs in 1998, I was glued to the set. It was awesome: here were 2 bigger than life superstars hitting home runs as fast as the pitchers would throw the ball. Are they saviors of the game, or are they nothing more than a garden variety cheater?
How are Sosa and Mcgwire any different than someone like Gaylord Perry, who would laugh about how he cheated? Perry is in the Hall of Fame: I have my doubts whether Sosa or McGwire will ever get in. Perry won over 300 games by mainly throwing a spitter, an illegal pitch by MLB rules, yet no one cares. Sosa, McGwire, and Palmiero are either accused of, or guilty of, using steriods, and everyone is ready to get a rope and find the nearest tree. Yet everyone kinda laughs at Gaylord, and looks the other way.
I asked myself this question: If someone told me that if I took a pill, or got a shot, and it would make me a better salesman, would I take it? The chance to greatly increase my income, give my children a better future, insure they would never want for anything, would I take it? If I could take care of my children, and my children's children for the rest of their lives, would I take it?
What if that pill would make me sick, or cause acne, or impotence? What if that pill or shot take years off my life, making sure that my time with my family was cut short?
If I could ensure that my wife, and my 3 children would never want for anything. That my children could have the education they deserve, the life I want for them. And my wife would never have to worry again about a bill, insurance, or money ever again? If I had the chance to make more money than I had ever dreamed of, and take care of my family for the rest of their lives, would I do it?
What would YOU do?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Pumpsie Green played for the Boston Red Sox from 1959-1962, during which time he hit .244, with 12HR, and 69 RBI's. Basically, he was an earlier version of Alex Cora.
Why am I writing about him? Because he was the first African-American to ever play for Boston. He made his debut 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color barrier. The Red Sox were the last team to integrate in baseball, and after former owner Tom Yawkey passed away, stories began to leak out about Yawkey's racism, not only toward black players, but Jewish ones as well.
In 1945, Jackie Robinson was given a tryout at Fenway Park. Obviously, he did not sign with Boston. The Red Sox also had a chance to sign Frank Robinson a while later, and chose not too. I'm not naive enough to think that racism was not on every team back then, but Yawkey's idiotic policy probably set the team back at least 5 years behind the teams that were integrating when he wasn't.
Monday, we celebrate as a country, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. My daughter Ciera, 8, brought home a book on Dr. King, as well as one on Rosa Parks this week from school. She was shocked to read about white-only resteraunts, schools, and water fountains. Could not get her mind around the fact that a person could not sit anywhere they wanted to on a bus, but had to instead sit all the way in the back. These are kid friendly books, so it'll be a few years before she sees the really dark history of racism and integration.
Dr. King had a vision of racial equality, and over the years, America has made huge strides toward that goal. It ain't perfect yet, but it's progress. And 48 years after Pumpsie made his Red Sox debut, the team looks nothing like the one he joined. Led by Big Papi and Manny, the 2007 Red Sox are about as ethnically mixed as you'll find. Dominicans, Japanese, Black, and White players fill the roster of the team. As a parent, you try to teach your children to not see color, just character, and I'm trying to do that with my 3. When they see the Red Sox, they see the color of the jersey, not the color of the man. Yeah, I'm bragging, but I'm proud of them.
I can't imagine what Pumpsie Green had to endure during his short career, but given the team and the city's history, I know it was not pretty. We have all heard and read about the vile crap that was shouted at Jackie Robinson, not only by fans, but players as well. Pumpsie more than likely heard the same song, different verse.
So, as you remember Dr. King tomorrow, remember Pumpsie, Jackie, and all the other players who paved the road for guys like Mays, Aaron, and Pops Stargell. Who paved it for guys like Ortiz, Pujols, and Bonds. And remember the men who never made it, but should have: Josh Gibson, Buck O'Neil, and Satchel Page, who made it, but too late.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
What followed over the next 10 minutes or so was watched by me with unmitigated joy: Tek trying to bodyslam Rodriguez, Gabe Kapler and Tanyon Stuertz going at it, and general mayhem. I don't remember where Manny was in all this: probably heading out to the Monster for a bathroom break. Anyway, point is it was a AWESOME fight.
Best part is this: later, much later ( And why is it that when these 2 teams play, they have to last no fewer than 4 hours, most stretching toward 5? Just curious.) Billy Mueller sent Fenway home happy with a walk off, 2 run dinger of Rivera. Not immediately after this game, but soon, the Sox went on an absolute tear, clinched the wild card, and the rest is history.
I remember a lot about the day that game was played. I remember I watched it in my bedroom, because my wife and daughter were watching some all day "Ann of Green Gables" marathon, or something equally as exciting in the living room. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, alternately going from extreme joy, to feeling like I was gonna throw up as the game went back and forth.
And I also remember this: that was the first game I ever watched with my son, Rakes. He was not quite 8 months old, so I doubt he remembers much. But he spent the whole game in that room with me. Laid on my chest for nap time, ate a bottle, and watched his first Sox game. Poor little fella cried for 4 minutes after it was over: coulda been from joy, although I think the fact I screamed like some demented Bo Duke when Billy hit the home run seems more likely.
He's 3 now, and this past year watched a lot of the games with me. His attention wanders, but he loves to watch Papi and Manny hit, and will run around in circles, sliding into imaginary bases, and flipping his bat, because, "Dat de way Big Papi doed it, Dad". He loves baseball and the Red Sox, and I could not be happier about it.
I'm sure he and I have a long list of baseball memories ahead of us, and I look forward to all of them.
But that picture at the top of this page?
I will NEVER get tired of it.
It was the day my son and I watched our first Sox game together.
Monday, January 8, 2007
I see alot of Henry in my son Rakes: he marches to the beat of his own drummer, always in trouble with a glint in his eye and a crooked grin, kinda like he's winking at you. About 2 months ago he found his sisters lipstick. Faster than the 06 Sox bullpen could blow a lead, he had made the prettiest lipstick hand mural on the wall, and had even found time to grind a 2 ft patch into the carpet, as well as paint his torso. When my wife found him, he looked up at her, grinning, and said: "You not whip me hard, Otay Mommy?" You just can't stay mad at him. (Although we were able to stay mad longer at this little art project than usual).
The Red Sox front office has developed some sort of obsession with JD Drew over the past couple of years. I see a guy who refused to play in Philadelphia when they drafted him, went to St. Louis, and while a good player, never reached his potential. Then he went to Atlanta, where he had a career year. After one year, signed a $55 million dollar deal, and opted out when he could. The Red Sox then sign him to a $70 million dollar deal, but have yet to finalize it over health concerns. Drew has missed significant time over his career due to injuries, and has the reputation of a guy who won't play hurt and plays without any kind of passion toward the game.
Contrast that to the guy he'd be replacing: Trot Nixon, a first round draft pick, who while battling his own injury problems, played hurt, dove for anything in the NE part of the country, never complained, and was the ultimate teammate. An added plus, the man has the filthiest cap and batting helmet ever seen in MLB. I named my son Trot, so that should tell you what I think about the man.
But I'm just a fan. And I believe in Theo and the front office: they know baseball. And I hope, once the legal crap is worked out, that JD Drew plays a great RF for the Red Sox. I'm just worried that, in the end, they'll only be doing one thing.
Touching the stove to see if it's hot.
For their sake, and mine, I hope that stove is as cool as David Ortiz.
And Uncle Henry: We all miss you.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
I don't know Terry Francona, but I'll bet you one thing: He is a good Father. My theory is, to be a good manager, you are also a good Dad. Because what a manager does is just what a Dad has to do. You have to get to know several different personalities and recognize what kind of action to take.
My son Rakes is a headstrong, 3 year old bundle of energy. 5th gear and stubborn as a mule,all day long. You can talk to him until you are blue in the face, and he just goes on like the Energizer bunny. Only at a VERY high volume. The only way to get him to slow down is MAKE him slow down. Francona has to do the same thing with his players at various times during the year: whether is Jason Varitek wanting to play the day game after a night game, or maybe Mike Lowell is a little slow with the bat speed, and Francona will give him a couple of days off, knowing Lowell won't ask for it himself.
Now my daughter, Ciera? Totally different ball game. Sensitive, caring, and has her head in the clouds half the time. I have to treat her very gently, because if I don't, I lose her. She starts getting upset at the way I got her attention, rather than the reason. Ciera is like Manny: Francona can't talk to Manny about jogging to first or pimping at the plate after a Home Run the way he could to Varitek or Kevin Youkilis. Manny would shut down, and then you have lost him. He's gotta handle him with kid gloves.
And it's not just the game: he has to manage egos, agents, and reporters. He has got to keep up with their lives away from the game as well: wives, kids, the new house, and the worry about the new contract. Groupies, drugs, and late night partying as well. (Thank God I'm not there yet).
I've only have 3 children, and my other son Trot is only 9 months old. And I am constantly EXHAUSTED. I have no idea how Francona can deal with 25 different human beings at one time. How he knows what to say to this player, what not to say to that player. My children will always be my children: His change on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Injuries, poor performance, trades, etc. change the clubhouse constantly. So not only must he keep managing the players he knows, he has to learn the new ones on the fly. It'd be like my wife and I adopting a new child each month, with no idea what they like, do, and how they react to certain things.
If a man can do that for 6 months a year, day in and day out for 162 games, and keep both the 25 players, coaches, trainers, and his sanity together, he can handle a few kids.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Anyway, "where we doin" is usually followed up with "we doin' outside and play bat and ball Dad?" The boy LOVES baseball: playing it, watching it, just loves it. Today he asked me that, and while we were outside, I got to thinking.
I wonder where the Red Sox are going this year? After finishing in 3rd place in the A.L. East last year, a lot of moves have been made by the front office: Signing Matsuzaka, Lugo, Donnelly, and eventually JD Drew. Stocking up in the bullpen with some quality arms to go along with the young guns. Letting Loretta, Gonzalez, and Trot leave. And, Thank God, not trading Manny.
Are they better than last year? On paper, yes. And if the team can stay relatively healthy, they are gonna be right in the thick of things all year. A lineup of Lugo, Youk, Papi, Manny, Drew, Lowell, Tek, Crisp, and Pedroia is pretty dadgum impressive. And a rotation of Schill, Beckett, the Papelbot, Dice K, and Wakefield, with a bullpen of Timlin, Delcarmen, Donnelly and Pineiro is as deep as it's been since 2004.
So, where are they going? Division Champs? Playoffs? World Series?
I hope I get to say this come October:
Son, the Sox are doin' to the dance.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
As I watched my 3 year old run, bounce, jump, fall, and generally act like some demented tree monkey on acid for the last three hours, I found myself thinking, man, what a character. And as I typically do, I started thinking about baseball. Do you remember when the sport was FILLED with characters? Back in the 70's, 80's, and early 90's, they were everywhere.
Guys like Sparky Lyle, who for some reason liked to jump buck naked onto cakes. (He played for the Yankees, so that may explain his fetish for icing.)Or Steve Lyons, who once, in the middle of a game, dropped trou in front of the paying customers. Guys like Oil Can Boyd, Mark Fydrich, and Rick Dempsey.
Turk Wendell was a character: He used to eat black licorice and brush his teeth between every inning. Bill "Spaceman" Lee, after Don Zimmer accused him of smoking marijuana told Zim "I just sprinkle it on my cereal every morning". These guys, and many others, were CHARACTERS.
In the 90's, baseball lost the characters, little by little. As the money grew baseball became more "corporate". The owners did not want to pay a guy millions of dollars a year and have him act like a idiot. Piece by piece, baseball lost a little of the wackiness that had always been woven into the fabric of the game.
Now, in 2007, there are a few characters left but not many. The Boston Red Sox have led MLB in characters the last few years, culminating with the "Idiots" of 2004. Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, O.C., and Johnny Damon among them. But the biggest character of all, who is still with the team? Manny Ramirez.
When you do the following, you are THE character in today's game:
Take the field wearing an IPOD and you have a water bottle in your back pocket. Or if you eat pudding in the dugout, mug like Paris Hilton for the camera, and point like someone with Tourette's syndrome at everyone and everything in sight.
Characters go into the Green Monster to take a leak in the middle of the game. Characters go into said Green Monster and retrieve signs that say "Manny being Manny". Characters, upon dropping a lazy pop fly, return to the dugout and say "There goes my Gold Glove"
With Manny, you get the yearly trade request, lollygagging down to first on a ground ball, and defense that makes Charlie Brown look like Ken Griffey Jr. You also get 40 HR's, 130 RBI's, a .300 avg, and about 50 laugh out loud moments a year.
And Manny's proof.