Thursday, November 1, 2007

Simply Fantastic

This is courtesy of and is awfully good. The video itself would be good enough but the subtitles are pretty brilliant. I especially enjoyed "Now poop on them Oliver." Kudos to whoever took the time to set this up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Am Fuckin Smart

As if you didn't know.

This is gonna be fun.

Back in April I was listening to the old AM radio when Michael Kay came on and starting shooting his big fat mouth off about how he disagreed with all the pundits who were picking the Red Sox to win the AL East and the World Series. Kay argued that the Yanks were much better and went through a point-by-point analysis of just why he believed what he did. His speculation about both teams enraged me, so I wrote about it and shot off my own big fat mouthvia a blog post. Today, I get to re-review that post. And wouldn't you know it, through the art of selective review, I was right and Michael Kay was way the fuck wrong. I am delighted to present that recap to you today.

First, Kay started by suggesting that the Yankees lineup had no holes while the Sox were chalk full of them. Here's what I wrote:
1. Doug Mientkiewicz is not a hole in the yanks lineup
Kay went through the lineups and asked where the hole in the Yanks lineup. He compared it to a Red Sox lineup that apparently looks like the Bengals secondary (I'll address the Sox lineup holes later). He concluded that the Yanks have no holes in their lineup. Erroneous. Mientalphabet is perhaps the worst offensive first baseman in baseball. He didn't rank in the top 30 for any positive hitting statistic last year amongst first basemen. Over the last 3 years, he's hitting .230 against the AL East. I think everyone can agree that he's horrible.... The larger point is that Kay would have gained more credibility had he conceded that Mientalphabet is the hole and moved on. He didn't.
Pretty sweet, eh? Well, as it happened Dougles got hurt and only put together 166 ABs. Prior to the injury he was hitting a robust .226 and was a GLARING hole in the bottom of that lineup. After the injury, he put together a terrific September (hitting over .400) and ended the season with a .277 average but mostly in a platoon and late inning sub role. Doug went 0-6 in limited postseason play. I think it was safe to say that Doug was not a roaring success and was the largest hole in the lineup. I'm not taking a full victory there but I think I was more right.

Kay's second point was this: 2. The Red Sox lineup is full of holes, namely Crisp, Varitek & Pedroia
To that I said this:
Let me start by saying that I have no idea what to expect out of Tek or Crisp, so I'm not going to defend them. I'll say that I'm fine with Crisp playing crappy because I want to usher in the Jacoby Ellsbury experience as soon as possible. Tek is a whole 'nother ballgame. They don't need Tek to be great, they just need .250 and a .350 OBP, that's it (that'd be a miracle). But to knock Pedroia? Why? I'd circle Pedroia as a question mark for sure, but a hole? Kay supported this assertion by correctly noting Pedroia hit .200 in the majors last year. What he failed to mention is that it was over the course of 31 games and 89 ABs as the Sox nosedived out of playoff contention last year. I don't say that to make excuses for him, just to point it out (and maybe to offer some context).... Through his amateur and minor league career, Pedroia's never hit below .300 when given 100 or more ABs and he K's about half as many times as he draws walks. Don't get me wrong here, Pedroia has proven nothing and is a question mark for sure. His progress will go a long way towards determing the fate of the Sox this season. To argue he's a "hole" in the lineup in the number 9 slot and then say that Doug Mientkiewicz is not? Let's be reasonable.
I am going to stop and give myself a LARGE and LONG slow clap for these remarks. I mean, that was pure genius because EVERY SINGLE THING I SAID WORKED OUT AS I SUGGESTED. Coco played crappy, Jacoby was ushered in. And that looks like it will work out ok. All Tek needed to do was hit .250 and .350 OBP, Tek hits .255 with a .367 OBP and they win the world series. Pedroia hit .317 with 520 ABs and is likely to be the AL rookie of the year. Again, my point wasn't merely to predict how I thought these guys were going to do (though I did a fine job), but was to responde to the idea that these guys were "holes in the lineup" while the Yankees had no holes. I win.

This will be quick. Michael Kay said that Julio Lugo would have 35-40 errors this year. Here's what I wrote:
Kay said Julio Lugo could make 35-40 errors this season. Really? Is that even possible? It's been almost a decade since the last player had 35 errors. Julio Lugo is not a great defensive shorstop by any stretch of the imagination. He gets to a lot of balls but his throwing mechanics border on shameful. That being said, the most errors he's ever had in a season is 25. Over the 150+ games he'll play this year, he'll likely get close to that again... If he had just said that Lugo is a downgrade from Gold Glover Alex Gonzales, I'm on board 100%, but he was on a roll I guess.
Lugo had 19 errors.

Isn't this fun? It's fun for me.
Kay next stated that Johnny Damon would hit 30 home runs this year. I laughed. Now, Kay didn't know that Johnny's body would break down like Redskins secondary, but he should have (I did). Let's see what I said:
3. Johnny Damon will hit 30 home runs this year
When I first heard this I was shocked. 30? That's Giambi territory. I checked the stats and realized that Damon had hit 24 (I thought it was closer to 20) last year and was hurt most of it. So I guess I'm less shocked than I was initially. The fact remains that Damon's hit more than 20 home runs only twice in his career and he's not a 27 year-old 3-hole guy. He's a leadoff man who's turning 33 this year, misses ten games due to injuries every year and plays the other 150 hurt. I like Damon and love how hard he plays, but if he hits 30 home runs this year I'll walk down Broadway nude and dish out free reach arounds.
Let's just say my weekends have been reach around free. Damon hit 12 home runs in 141 games and looked every bit the 33 years he's walked this earth.

Kay was FAR from done. Here's where he went next:4. Yanks bullpen is light years better than the Sox. To which I responded:
With apologies to Brian Bruney and Jeff Karstens, how the F is the Yankees bullpen that much better than the Sox. I'm not blaming Kay solely for this one. Everyone is saying it, but then they aren't explaining why the Sox bullpen is so bad. The Sox have Brendan Donnelly, J.C. Romero, Okajima, Lopez, Pineiro and long-man Kyle Snyder, with Papelbon closing. Of course Mo is light years better than Papelbon, but how is the combo of Farnswoth, Proctor, Meyers, Vizcaino and whatever other scrub they go to next any better than what the Sox are throwing out there? Meyers is a one hitter guy and he can't get that one hitter out (Ortiz says hello). Kyle Snyder can pitch 5 innings out of the pen if necessary while Scott Proctor was so overused last year that while warming up for a game against the Orioles his arm actually flew into dead yankee alley, or whatever it's called back there. Let's reserve judgment on this one. Both the Yankees and Red Sox have bullpen question marks. Fair?
No need to really get into this, but I was right. Except for the part about Mo being light years better than Paps. But well, as we can see, people make mistakes.

Kay said Posada's production will not drop off. I actually said:
Kay may be right here.
We were both wrong. He was better. 50 points over his career average, 50 points over his OBP average and 50 points over his slugging percentage average. An absurd season.

Moving on, Kay noted:6. The problems with the Yanks rotation are overexaggeratedI laughed:

Holy shit. This one made me laugh out loud. Ok Michael, how would you characterize the Yanks rotation? Solid? Stable? How about Clusterfuck? So far, they lost their best starter for a month due to a hamstring injury (and that's if they don't panic and bring him back too soon when they fall into 3rd place going into May), they have two starters on the downside of their careers who are both coming into the season with significant injury concerns in Mussina and Pettitte, their uber-prospect looked shaken when he realized that you can't just throw a flat 97 mph fastball past a major leaguer and now he's not even the first pitcher they'd call up if necessary, and the last time they're opening day pitcher pitched in a major league game Brad and Jennifer were still married. I've got a question: What is positive about this staff? Name one thing. I'll even give you a minute... ready? I didn't think so. If the Sox lineup has holes, then the Yankees' rotation is a hole. One giant stinking septic tank of a hole.
Again, dead right. They started horrendously because of this staff and the team only put things together when they started killing the ball. Even after the staff got healthy and added Clemens they were in the bottom half of the league for starters ERA the rest of the way and lack of starting pitching (again) as the excuse for bowing out in the playoffs.

Kay came out of nowhere (literally nowhere because he used no facts) and finished with this gem:7. Schilling can't pitch late into games anymoreAgain, I REALLY laughed:
This one is comical. First, Schilling hasn't pitched fewer than 5 innings in any game he started since May of 2000. That's the longest such streak in the majors. Of his 31 starts last year, Schilling pitched 7 innings or more 17 times. Comparing that rate to some of the other horses from last year: Wang 19, Mussina 14, Bonderman 18, Sabathia 18; he doesn't look half bad. Is he the 9 innings and 130 pitch guy he was even 3 years ago? Nope. Is he still the guy who'll get you into the 8th and ninth inning with a lead and very few walks, most likely.
Now, "late into games" is a subjective standard, but using my standard above, he got through 7th inning in 11 of his 24 starts. A dropoff from his previous year but still not too shabby considering he missed a month with an injury and showed up to camp 30lbs overweight (Wang only went 7+ 12 times). The biggest thing for me here was that Kay made this claim despite the information I provided EXACTLY TO THE CONTRARY originally (not that he was relying on the information I provided). His claim was actually completely wrong.

Anyhoo, that's about all of that. I can't believe how much I cleaned house with that analysis and given that these days I'm so rarely right about much of anything, I needed to point out how right I was for my own ego. Lord knows I don't really want to get into some other predictions I made.

Between The Strange Signs And The Public Indigestion, Jacoby "The Unicorn" Ellsbury Had A Strange Day

At some point this week I'll get off the "all Sox all the time" business here, but I'm not quite over it yet. I didn't have a chance to properly express myself in 2004 (though I did get a quote about my grandmother into the "Win It For" book about the Sox). But for now, I'm still on the Sox kick. So it's because of this that I posted the above picture and I ask that you take a look at it and answer me this: Why is there a unicorn on that sign the girl in that photo is holding? I'd understand if it was a very small child holding it but to me that person looks like a teenager at least if not a full-fledged adult. Regardless, the unicorn doesn't make a ton of sense to me. Unless Ellsbury's nickname is going to be "The Unicorn." Which is something I think I can get behind. He's fast, magical and mysterious (maybe?). But let's move on because I think I'm beginning to cross that fine line between general rambling and rambling with homosexual undertones. I'm explaining why a 23 year-old guy resembles a unicorn. Might be time for me to take a timeout...

But to get back to the title of this post, the below photo strikes me as incredibly absurd. In July, Ellsbury was recovering from an injury in the minors and his name was being tossed around on Sox message boards, but other than that, he was pretty much unknown. Yesterday he is eating a Taco in front of a couple dozen reporters while hundreds of fans watch from outside. When a couple hundred people watch as you give yourself the beginning stages of diarrhea, that's when you know your life will never be the same.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Umm, Dude?

The idea of a "man-crush" is funny when you say it in jest, but when you craft a sign and hold it above your head... I don't know, maybe it's just me but it seems kinda gay.

Let's Take It Easy On The Sap, Stan Grossfeld

Maybe my eyes ain't so good, but this guy doesn't look like he's feeling like a "champion."

One of the harder things I've encountered in writing all this crap over the last 6-7 months is how to end a post. You always want to write something with bite or wit to cap off your incredibly insightful or hilarious post. It's often tough to capture the spirit of the entire post or write something that really offers that clever ending leaving people to say, "Man, that guy nailed it" (Mike Lupica, for all his failings, is the master of the final sentence dig). So I guess I can forgive Boston Globe writer Stan Grossfeld for writing this quote about the Red Sox triumphant return to Boston:
The team piled into buses. Police stopped traffic in the Ted Williams Tunnel and on the Southeast Expressway at 4:50 p.m. to let them pass. People climbed on cars on local streets and held up signs and cell phones. The turnout en route was less than it was in 2004 but the team got a standing ovation from some homeless souls on Melnea Cass Boulevard. On this day, they too were champions.
They were? That one may have missed the mark a little. Explain to me how those dudes are "champions." Is it because they sleep on the side of the road? I mean, these guys have probably never seen a Sox game on TV or even listened via radio. How are they in anyway impacted by the Sox victory. I'm not knocking homeless people, I read The Mole People, some of those people are doing better than some people with homes. In Santa Monica, the homeless are treated better than the homed! But "champions?" I'd wager to bet that the homeless dudes freezing their asses off on the side of the Melnea Cass Blvd felt less like champions than freezing people looking forward to their next meal (perfect example of an awfully weak closing sentence).

Oh Manny...

It's gonna be tough to spend the next 4 months without this big lug.

At this point I can find absolutely no reason for not having cameras and a microphone around Manny Ramirez at all times. Everything the guy does is just comical. According to the Globe's account of the Sox flight home (yes, there is a newspaper account of an uneventful 4 hour flight), Manny asked for and received a ride from a Massachusett's state trooper from the Tarmac to Fenway. Upon reaching the vehicle, and right on cue, this happened:
He (Manny) tried to open the back door, which is reserved for bad guys. A trooper moved in quickly. "No Manny, you can't go in the back," said the trooper, smiling and opening the front passenger door.
Manny is "that guy" on every sitcom ever that does ridiculous things and leaves the regular cast members shaking their heads and smiling. He's Richard Boner Stabone, Dauber Dybinksi, Woody and Ralph Wiggum all wrapped up in a mangled english speaking, dreadlocked, hitting machine.

And lastly, check out Manny's getup getting off that plane.

Go Team Gooooeww!

Every blog (via Awful Announcing) and their grandma is posting this clip but it's so good that I don't feel the least bit bad about coming late to the show. It's not everyday you see a homecoming queen cheerleader get trampled and then walk it off and finish the day (I especially enjoy the multiple replays in a row near the end of the clip. The guys in the editing room must've been absolutely losing their shit putting that together).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Um Bill, Was All Of That Really Necessary?

I didn't get a chance to watch the Pats game because I was forced to watch the Jets and Bill limp wrist it around the football field for 3 hours. Those two teams are really not very good. Dropped passes, missed tackles, missed assignment, bad coaching, you name it. The Jets blitzed corner Darrell Revis 10 times in a row (maybe more) before Jauron changed his protection package to pick him up. And even then his solution was to throw a TE screen to Rob Royal on the blitzing side (that'll learn em!). And sadly that was an improvement over what went on in London. Holy FUCK that game was painful. I have honestly never watched a worse played game than the Giants v. Dolphins. Cleo Lemon's performance by itself could fill an entire blooper reel for the next Sports Illustrated offer. Plaxico and Amani dropped half a dozen touchdown passes and Eli threw an 8 yard pass to a WIDE OPEN Toomer in the end zone through the fucking uprights. I know it was raining, but it has rained before. It's not like the players looked up in the sky in awe and were remarked, "My word! What is this beaded moisture falling from the heavens? Is it possible that it will affect my ability to grip the spheroid coming my way?" CATCH THE FUCKING BALL. The thing hit Plaxico in the pads about 4 times. He barely got a paw on it. God that was ugly...

Anyhoo, I was able to keep track of the progress of the game via CBS Sportsline's GameCenter (while also keeping track of how badly my fantasy team was getting it's ass kicked). After awaking from a nap, I flipped open my CPU and saw the score of the Pats - Skins match: a ridiculous 38-0, and the Pats had the ball. I giggled a little and watched as the interweb slowly tracked the progress of what I figured would be the Pats running out the clock as best they could. And then I saw this:

1-10-NE-49 (12:50) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass deep right to R.Moss pushed ob at WAS 16 for 35 yards (S.Springs)
I thought to myself, "well, that seems a little much." I looked again at the score just to make sure it wasn't like 38-20 or something and I am just blind as a bat and again, loud and clear it read:
Patriots 38 - Redskins 0
So up 38-0 in the 4th quarter on the 50 you're throwing a deep sideline pattern from the shotgun...? Really? Yeeesh.

Now the rest of it I can understand. The two 4th down plays in the 4th they went for, whatever. The alternative is to kick a field goal, which is almost guaranteed points (the second one would have been a 54 yarder, so maybe not "guaranteed" per se). At least the Pats gave the Skins a chance to get the ball back unscathed. But on that drive to start the 4th quarter, I'm not sure I see the need to setup in the shotgun and let the two best players on the planet throw sandlot sideline routes. The total length of the drive was 8 minutes, so the Pats were running the clock down to a degree but Brady threw the ball 8 times on that drive and it all just seemed so unnecessary. Just imagine if either guy had gotten hurt (a scenario that is becoming increasingly likely as the season rolls on and the Pats play teams with absolutely no hope and not a ton to lose). I think it's pretty clear that at 38-0 going into the 4th quarter that the Pats are men against girls out there. Why risk an injury for the sake of showing people just how good you are? It's a little over the top in my mind.

With all that being said, I'm in no way apologizing for the final score or for Belichick is doing. I hope he runs up the score on every fucking team out there. I don't think it disrespectful to the game or other teams or anything. There's a real easy way to gain the respect you feel is being stripped from you by getting your ass kicked or at least grab the Pats attention: PLAY WELL AND HARD AND STOP BEING INTIMIDATED. Don't fucking complain like a bitch, Godfrey (whoever the fuck he is). Take a cheap shot at someone. Don't try and injure anybody but maybe knock Brady down after a whistle or hit Moss a step out of bounds. They'll pull his ass in a heartbeat. But by complaining that the Pats are playing too hard and are scoring too much makes you look like a complete pussy. You have to understand that the Pats don't give a fuck about you. They are still settling the score from earlier this year. For a week the media hyped this taping scandal as if it exposed the Pats as being dependent on nefarious behavior for success. Ladainian Tomlinson was laughing at them (and then crying after the Pats beat the bag out of them). So the Pats want to show that those people are fucking idiots. And they're doing a damn good job. The Pats are pissing on people after straight jabbing them in the nuts for 3 hours. You really have two options after that. You can grow the balls to punch them back or cry about it afterwards and call it unfair and unsporting. Buck up or shut the fuck up. And honestly, I hope someone punches them in the next couple of weeks because I don't want to see Brady's knees taken by Channing Crowder in the 4th quarter of a meaningless week 16 game because Belichick wants to put up 100.

The Globe Wants You To Express Your Excitement For The Sox In Metered Verse

Not sure how to best congratulate the Sox for their World Series victory? Why don't you try writing a poem about it.

The world is a strange and beautiful place today. Winning the 2004 World Series was surreal and beyond belief. It really ranks right up there with the better moments of my life. This one was sweet because all year this team looked like the best team in baseball and they still won it. I feel a little more relieved this year than I did in 2004 because back then I didn't even know how to deal with it. I'm having a tough time gathering the words to properly put into perspective my mood on the subject. Fortunately, there are those who are not quite as tongue-tied.

The Boston Globe has asked elated Red Sox fans to post their poems and songs about the Sox on the Globe's website. And remarkably, some people are doing it and the results are predictably absurd:
He carried an urn
filled with infield grass
forged from melted spikes
hammered by southpaws yielding black fungos

He roamed, but unlike Romanian Gypsies or Jews
more migratory, a lone fowl
urged by the changing seasons
of waiver options
who came to perch on the chalk line
two hundred and twelve feet from Pesky’s pole
ninety feet from home

Replaced, but never last
first on base and first at bat
no photo op pin-up, proto lead off hitter
those aren’t boos you are hearing
"Youk! Youk! Youk!

There may not be tomes written about the 2007 Red Sox like the '04 team spawned, and the victory may not make death more peaceful, but some people are clearly moved.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You May Be Rooting Against The Sox Tonight, But You'd Be Hard-Pressed To Root Against The Kid On The Mound

Sometimes people get dealt a dose of reality. Jon Lester downed the whole fuckin bottle.

On August 23rd, 2006, Red Sox rookie lefty Jon Lester shook hands with his teammates in Anaheim after yet another imperfect victory. The 22 year-old kid was now 7-2 but was winning ugly with a ton of walks and a knack for getting into and out of bases loaded jams every time he stepped to the mound. He had the gift of guile. He'd shake off Red Sox hero and universally respected Jason Varitek to throw a 3-2 curve with the bases loaded in a one run game and nail it. While many questioned the kid's command, no one questioned his guts. Four days later Lester was scratched from his next start with a sore back and four days after that 22 year-old Jon Lester wasn't worrying about whether he'd make his next start, he was worrying about whether he'd make his next birthday. Jon Lester was diagnosed anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Those guts of Jon Lester would come in mighty handy.

Flash forward to Spring Training and Lester is running wind sprints and throwing long toss. There's now no traceable sign of the disease in the kid's body but he spent so much time treating it and recovering from it that he isn't in regular baseball shape (ironically, Curt Schilling showed up more out of shape than Lester and he entered the offseason as healthy as he'd been in years). Stories are written and ESPN is calling (Chris Connelly probably was probably nocturnally emitting all winter waiting for this story) and Lester shrugs it all off. He just wants to be treated like everyone else. He's not unaware of the gravity of the disease he conquered he just wants to be one of the guys. He's not looking for excuses and accolades, he's looking for a roster spot. To a man, the entire staff told him to slow down. He basically told them to go fuck themselves. When Tito Francona suggested that Lester take an extended Spring Training and that he'd probably start the year in the minors, Lester told Tito not to make any decisions about him until they broke for the regular season. He wanted the same shot as everyone else. While he ended up starting the season in the minors, Lester didn't get cheated out of a day. Some would have just been satisfied just to make it back to the mound, any mound. This kid wasn't satisfied until he was back in the majors. And when he did get back to the majors on July 23rd--less than one year after being diagnosed with lymphoma--he throws 6 innings of 5 hit ball giving up 2 runs and striking out 6 in a win over Cleveland. That's not a comeback, that's a come-all-the-way-back.

I've struggled with the idea of whether I'd be rooting for this guy so hard if he wasn't my guy or was on a team I hated. I can only speak for myself but all I can think of when of think of Lester's situation is myself in his place. 22 years-old and ripping through lineups in the majors with almost unlimited upside in a town that treats their baseball players like latter day Greek deities. Your entire life is comped and you are riding on frickin air. If there's a better life, I'd love you to tell me about it. And then a sore back becomes a life threatening disease and instead of receiving public pats on the back and shout-outs you're whispered about and eyes are averted. How do you come down from that high to deal so immediately and so viscerally with your own mortality? The hardest parts of dealing with your scariest private moment are now public consumption and it's impossible for people to treat you like a regular guy let alone the athlete they'd come to worship. For me, it's unimaginable. And to even have the balls to attempt a comeback after that sobering event is admirable. Some people would've just taken their money and packed it in and moved on. To have the physical ability to overcome those odds is remarkable in and of itself. And to step on the mound in a major league park and stare down superstars whose toughest offseason moments included whether to bang the blonde, the redhead or the two asians, and to rip through that lineup as if nothing happened is absurd. The mindset it takes to put that stuff behind you and focus and compete is something I find extremely compelling and worthy of praise. It's tough for me to find a reason not to root for the guy even if you can't root for his laundry.

So I guess I'm saying that I understand if you want the Rockies to comeback and shove this series right up the Sox ass. If the tables were turned I'd want that too. But maybe in a place you don't talk about at parties (I've been waiting 6 months to use that line) you will be pulling for the kid who was knocked off the top of the world and is being given the opportunity to climb back up.

(UPDATE: Jon pitched pretty well. His parents certainly approve.)