Saturday, September 21, 2002

To sleep, perchance to dream

So last night I have a bizarre dream (like there's any other kind) in which I'm friends with Derek Jeter, and he gives me a tour of the stadium, introduces me to other players ("Hey, Giambi you big oaf wuzzup? Great catch, Bernie."), and leaves me will call tickets (just behind the dugout) for all the Yankees' games. And in one of those peculiar little details that seem to consistently appear in one's dreams, across the bottom of each ticket is embossed in 9pt font in Yankee blue "Courtesy of Mr. Derek Jeter."

And through it all in the dripping Dali time that marks the hours and days in dreams, I can't stop thinking about the Red Sox -- But it's like they don't exist. No one mentions it. It's like the very notion of a team from Boston is but a dream I had within the dream -- nonexistent.

Either I had to many chile pequins with dinner last night, or all this anti-Manny, anti-Nomar talk the past couple of weeks is really starting to take its toll on me.

Friday, September 20, 2002

One Step Beyond

OK. So I wake up this morning to read some baseball news and find that two nut jobs, a father and son no less, had attacked the 1st base coach of the KC Royals last night.

One second the Kansas City coach [Tom Gamboa] was standing near first base, and the next he was slammed to the ground. A father and his juvenile son, both shirtless, were on top of him and pummeling him repeatedly.

"I felt like a football team had hit me from behind,'' the 54-year-old coach said Thursday night. "Next thing I knew, I'm on the ground trying to defend myself" (ESPN).

Then I turn on the TV and the Today show is running film from a surveillance camera in the parking lot of an Indiana Kohl's department store of a woman beating the living crap out of a little girl (presumably mother and daughter) in the back sear of a car. And I'm not talking a slap, no, this lady is punching the poor kid repeatedly in the face.

Madness. Pure madness.

And you know, you just know, that most likely all of perps above grew up with violence, were probably beaten themselves as kids. And it's this awareness in the back of my mind that has me filled with trepidation about the whole Iraq thing. Yes, of course, there is a time for the sword. My years playing youth hockey taught me that without a doubt you must on occassion stand up for yourself and fight back. (You may even need hold a grudge, seek revenge, etc. but that's another story) -- Yet when using violence as a means to an end, such actions will have repercussions. The cliché is true: violence breeds violence.

I do not want to turn this into a discussion about the pros and cons of going after Saddam Hussien, I only want to point out that we all need to really think before we act.

What exactly were the father and son who attacked Gamboa thinking?

Baseball is meant to be our paradise, our noblest hope, our daily acting out of community and freedom. Why do we call it home plate and not fourth base after all? And our home is where we act with passion and intensity yet with sanctity. Civilized, noble people do not fight in their homes; they do not beat their children; they do not break the rules or use violence indiscriminantly.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

On the Radio (whoa oh oh)

Tough crowd:

Boston is different. And the Sox have let it get to them down the stretch. The Sox held one of their players/coaches/front office ''round tables'' Tuesday and the ballplayers spent almost the entire session complaining about media treatment. Finally, coach Mike Stanley stood up and told them to knock it off: It comes with the territory if you play in Boston. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. Don't pay attention to it. It's not going to change. And whatever you do, turn down your radio (Shaughnessy, Globe).

So with the Buckley article,then, Nomar is like the protagonist in the Donna Summer disco hit "On the Radio"?

Someone found a letter you wrote me, on the radio
and they told the world just how you felt
it must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat
they never said your name
but I knew just who they meant.

Oh, I was so surprised and shocked, and I wondered too
if by chance you heard it for yourself
I never told a soul just how I've been feeling about you
but they said it really loud
they said it on the air
on the radio whoa oh oh
on the radio whoa oh oh

Seriously, all joking and disco's golden years references aside, I'm glad things appear to have been reconciled.

"I have never said I wanted to play anywhere else," said Garciaparra. "Absolutely, I want to stay here. I want to play my whole career here. I love the city. I love the fans. I try to show that to the fans every night out there. I want to play as hard I can. That's what I can control. I have a sense of pride when I put this uniform on. There's no better place to play than here. The fans are unbelievable" (ProJo)

Another crisis averted. And there is no doubt that the media scrutiny in Boston is especially intense and different than most other cities (with the big exception being New York).

However, all the reciprocated player + fan love in the world can't sweep everything under the rug.

Regarding Garciaparra's future in Boston, the Red Sox have a serious decision to make. If the Sox believe they cannot re-sign Garciaparra before his current contract expires following the 2004 season - and yes, there is real doubt about that - then they should seriously consider trading him this winter. Garciaparra is 29 years old and signed for the next two years, and the Sox can get more for him now than they can later, particularly with new ownership facing an obvious economic dilemma (Massarotti, Herald).

The conventional wisdom holds that at least one of the big three -- Nomar, Pedro, Manny -- is going to be playing somewhere else next year. Tough choice, eh?

All I know is this whole Nomar bashing debacle and the remarks that an athlete can't have "thin skin" and succeed in Boston, is yet another reminder of how I could never handle being a Major League ballplayer even if I had the skills. Talk about thin skinned. I'm horrible at taking criticism. (Remember how I boo hoo'ed after my work review? And that turned out to be all paranoia on my part as I ended up with a glowing review after I got the facts straight.)

I'd have to be institutionalized if I was given the full blown Buckley or Shaughnessy treatment. That's why I'll just sit in my little cocoon over here and content myself with listening to Ms. Summer. Whoa oh oh.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Grass is Greener Syndrome

Remember on Gilligan's Island how every so often you'd hear the distant drums of cannibals on a nearby island beating in preparation for a headhunting ritual?

Boom. Boom. Boom. Slowly and surely. Boom. Boom. Boom.

That's what I think of whenever the Boston Media decides to go after someone.

Looks like Nomar Garciaparra is getting fitted for a shrunken head. The drums have been present for several months, but starting on Sunday they started to beat more loudly:

He carries a chip on his shoulder the size of the Green Monster …

Factor in Garciaparra's increasingly public dislike of Boston, and it's conceivable the Red Sox could trade him as soon as this off-season, with his value at its highest.

Should that day come, this is all you'll need to know: no one will be happier than Nomar (Tomase, Eagle-Tribune).

Today, Buckley joins the fray:

Hey, Nomar Garciaparra, do you want something to really complain about?

Here goes, hotshot: You don't deserve to play in Boston.

You don't deserve to play in a baseball hotbed. You don't deserve to play for a team that somehow manages to attract 30,000 fans for a Monday afternoon makeup game against the Cleveland Indians (Buckley, Herald).

Boom. Boom. Boom.

I'm trying to not get caught up in the headhunting rhythm, but I must admit I've had a sour feeling about Nomar all season. The whole who cares about losing one game out of 162 it's early yet record Nomar kept playing in July and August really is coming back to haunt us all now (as we feared it would).

And I don't have the same affection for Nomar that I've confessed to having for Manny. So if Nomar goes, he goes.

What I find particularly interesting, though, is how it's the guys who come up through the Boston system who end up wanting out. Look at the list: Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn and now, possibly, Garciaparra.

Hurst and Vaughn, after leaving Boston, came to regret it. And I'm certain Clemens would have, too, had he not ended up with the Yankees.

Is it a case then of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? With no experience playing in a city with a less exuberant fan base, are these all Boston nurtured players lured by a naive romanticism of the unknown?

The #3 for '03

Tim Wakefield.

Over eight innings [last night], he threw 101 pitches, 74 for strikes. He estimated he threw 80-85 percent knuckleballs, the norm. At one point, he retired 14 straight, and he improved his overall record to 11-5 - 8-2 since he rejoined the rotation July 23 (May, Globe).

He's a keeper.

``(Team president and CEO) Larry Lucchino told me (Monday) they want me to retire as a Red Sox,'' said Wakefield. ``That's been my dream since I've been here for eight years. I've always wanted to stay with one team and hopefully we can get something done this offseason or prior to this season ending that will keep me here for a long time'' (Silverman, Herald).

Pencil him in.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Pyrric Victory

Pedro just keeps getting better:

Martinez allowed only two hits and a walk, while striking out four batters before being replaced following a 72-minute rain delay, but the effort was still good enough for his 19th win. That leaves him within one victory of 20, which may be the benchmark that Cy Young Award voters are looking for to validate selecting him over Derek Lowe and Barry Zito (Horrigan, Herald).

Of course I'm happy that Pedro wears a Red Sox uniform and that he's recovered from his shoulder problems and that he's in contention for the Cy Young this year -- But it's bittersweet at best. In my gut I know there are a finite number of throws left in Pedro's arm. It just really stinks that his victories are not going toward winning games that matter.

To paraphrase the linguistically challenged former VP Dan Quayle:

What a waste it is to lose one's arm. Or not to have an arm is being very wasteful. How true that is.

Will Pedro be dominant next year? That's all I can selfishly wonder when I read his stats:

Martinez (19-4) leads the American League in ERA (2.23), strikeouts (195), winning percentage (.826), road ERA (1.82) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.9).

Something tells me it's going to be one long winter of wondering. How true that is.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Those who can, do

I may as well begin taking Sunday and Monday off from posting here to the Bambino's blog because, let's face it, does anyone really care about the local nine when the Patriots are showing the world what it means to be winner?

At this point, the Red Sox don't even come in second in my list of things to consider on a Sunday. It's like this on Sundays for entertainment:

  1. Patriots
  2. Sopranos
  3. Curb Your Enthusiasm
  4. Sunday Post
  5. assorted reading
  6. nap
  7. Red Sox

And I may be generous putting the Sox at #7 above. At least they come in higher than yard work.

I'll admit I don't have the New England Patriots in my blood, the way I do the Red Sox, but the football team can't help but steal my heart and attention.

Regarding the Sox, this says it all:

The Angels, in particular, are the Anti-Sox -- a team that looks better on the field than it does on paper. Quite simply, the Red Sox have a superior to roster to that of the Angels, which leads us to conclude only one thing about why the Sox and Angels are in their respective places today.

Anaheim wanted it more (Massarotti, Herald).

And I think it's safe to say the Patriots are the Anti-Sox. The Pats don't have any superstars of the caliber of Pedro, Manny, or Nomar, yet they win. The Patriots want it more.

I find myself looking forward to mathematical elimination for the Sox, so I don't have to read things like this anymore:

"As long as we have a pulse, I am maintaining hope," manager Grady Little said.

Oh, brother. Six days 'til Sunday.