Friday, July 05, 2002

Ted Williams died today. Take a moment and ponder that one.

With that, ESPN has one of the finest articles I have ever read by them. As do all newspapers and media outlets, they had articles ready for this. They do it for any individual who is older or in failing health. Maybe that's why they did such a fine job with it.
There are a few other articles posted about Ted. One by Tim Kurkjian, another by Larry Schwartz, and a third by John McCollister. All are worth reading.
Mike O'Connell is a joke. Some of his quotes in Nancy Marrapese-Burrell's column today are ridiculous.
''I asked him what they wanted,'' said O'Connell. ''He didn't tell me what he wanted. I never knew what they were looking for. I knew they were looking for a [long] term, they didn't give me a number of what they were looking for. I asked for the numbers and they wouldn't give them to me and that's OK. I don't want to sound like it's sour grapes or I'm ticked off, because I'm not. We thought Billy would give us a chance to win the Stanley Cup but it didn't work out, so move on.''
''Of course I'm disappointed, but it's a situation where he's got a chance to make as much money as he can and he's done it,''
''It is about the money at this time.''
Bruins management just continues to insult the fans. O'Conell implies the B's would have done a lot better without Guerin and Dafoe in the lineup. Bruins fans should be disgusted and should do something to show it. Why not boycott some games? As much as die-hard fans enjoy going to games, if you sacrifice it for one season and show management that you won't spend for an inferior product, maybe they'll do something to improve the product.

Shaughnessy does his normal thing and tries to be negative and knock the Sox down a few notches. He basically questions if the Sox are a good team because all they do is beat up on the really bad teams. He mentions their record against the Yankees, Mariners, and A's, but is sure to bring up their National League record too. Such a happy go lucky guy, that Dan.

Keep the possibility of a strike in the back of your mind, says Steve Buckley. The players association is meeting on Monday, possibly to set a strike date. Buck asks if we are all just being brought along for a ride this season. If a strike happens, then I guess we are.

Interesting story in Jeff Horrigan's notebook today. Evidently there was a family of 4 at the Sox game that John Henry noticed while walking around the park. They were struggling to see the action so Henry gave them his 4 front row tickets near the Sox dugout. They didn't find out who gave them the tickets until later.

Shea Hillenbrand makes Alan Schwarz's piece for being one of the biggest surprises of the year. Schwarz does however point out that Shea had zero walks in June. That is a big part of the reason his average has dropped so much.

There's controversy at the National hot dog eating contest. Did Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi vomit before or after time had expired? Should he be the champ? Should he have been disqualified? Eric Booker thinks so and feels that he should have won. These questions need answers. A Nations integrity is at stake.

Finally, it's not really sports related, but it could be sports bar related. The Victorian town of Shepparton in Australia now has in place a vomit tax. They are planning on using the extra money to clean up the streets from people that vomit after leaving the pubs. Could Boston use a similar tax?

Thursday, July 04, 2002

July 4th. 4:18 PM. 104 degrees on the thermometer. Yikes.

The Sox swept a 5 game series for only the 5th time in their history today. At the same time, they handed the Jays their first ever 5 game sweep. It also improves the Sox to 23-19 at home after they had fallen below .500 there earlier this week. It also pushes the Sox back to 20 games over .500.

So it's official. Bill Guerin is gone. The Stars signed him today to a 5 year deal. It's fun being a Bruins fan, isn't it? Can't the team just be sold or moved to another city or something so we don't have to deal with this? I'm sure Boston would get an expansion team within a few years. Maybe then we'd have owners who care about winning.

So shortly after I posted the story in the Toronto Star about J.P. Ricciardi yesterday, the topic came up on both sports radio stations in Boston. Did I tip them off about the story? Hmmm.....
With that said, you'd have to know that there would be a follow up story today. And so, here it is. J.P.'s quotes today:
"I have a job to do and it isn't finished. I don't plan on going anywhere."
"This whole thing has taken on a life of its own and I wish I could stop it because I'm not leaving,"
"It's a challenge I look forward to.When I signed on for three years, I committed myself to three years."

I was at the beach earlier today and didn't realize until I got there that I had forgotten my frisbee. Forgetting to bring a frisbee to the beach should be some kind of felony.

And with that, I'm going to go sit in a bucket of ice.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Ugeth Urbina was added to the All-star team today to take the place of Pedro Martinez. This is Urbina's 2nd All-star appearance.
The Red Sox have made up a full game on the Yankees in the last 2 days even though the Yankees did not lose over that span.

The Sox won the nightcap last night behind a strong performance by Sunny Kim. Alan Embree saved both games of the double header, the first Sox pitcher to do that since Tom Gordon.

Johnny Damon is going to the All-star game. He was voted in by the fans in an on-line poll, beating out Jim Thome by 26,000 votes. Damon had a funny line after the game when he said, ''If Jim Thome will decline his no-trade and come to Boston, 'I'll be willing to let him take my spot.'' Thome may be coming to Boston either way.

Bob Ryan checks in with a column about Tony Cloninger. It was 36 years ago today that Cloninger became the only pitcher to hit 2 grand slams and recorded 9 RBI's in one game, both records for a pitcher. Tony had also hit 2 HR's in a game earlier in the year.

In Tony Massarotti's Red Sox notebook, he mentions how Grady Little has told Offerman he won't be playing much anymore. A funny line by Little about his chair in the Managers office:
"Little on the chair in his office, which doesn't exactly have the softest seat in the world: ``They don't want the manager of the Red Sox getting too comfortable.''"

The Toronto star has an interesting article today. Evidently Blue Jays GM J.P.Ricciardi has an out clause in his contract that says he can leave at any time. Rumors in Toronto have been circulating that J.P. wants to come to Boston next year and that is why he wanted the clause. J.P. himself said, "I don't want to live in Cincinnati. I don't want to live in Los Angeles. The only place I would go is (Boston)." The article mentions 3 possible conspiracy theories. One is that Ricciardi dealt Mondesi to the Yanks in the hope that the Yanks would bury the Sox the rest of the way thus prompting the Sox to fire Mike Port. The GM job would then be open for Ricciardi to take.

John Henry Williams is done. You've got to read this.

There is still no sign of any deals out of the Bruins camp. Dafoe and Guerin remain unsigned, although Dafoe may get some offers now that the 2 big name goalies, Joseph and Belfour, have signed. Still no word on Teemu Selanne signing with the B's. Selanne wants a multiyear deal, but surprise surprise, the Bruins don't want to be saddled with long term deals. Turns out O'Connell's not so different from Sinden after all.

Shira Springer has a very good article today about Celtics draft pick Darius Songaila. It talks a little bit about his background and obstacles he has overcome to make it where he is. This clip is from the article:
''I'm just glad to maybe be a part of the Celtics and be a part of this program because it's definitely one of the hottest programs in the league right now,'' said Songaila. ''I wanted to work out with the coaches, let them take a look at me and see what they've got. That was the purpose of this visit ... Honestly, I was expecting to be picked a little earlier, but once I got picked by Boston, I was like, `All right, I'm the only Boston pick.' I was pretty happy about that. Other teams have three or four guys who have to fight for attention. I don't have to do that. I'm the only pick. I looked into who [the Celtics] have got in the program and I'm really happy about it ... I think it can be a good fit.''
and...
''It seems like every time I've had a goal set for myself to reach something, I always had an obstacle to overcome,'' said Songaila. ''When I was leaving Lithuania, I had people saying, `Why am I leaving? I'm not ready. I haven't achieved anything. I should stay and play in Lithuania, blah, blah, blah.' So, I came here. I did well and proved them wrong. Now, I'm done with college and I have people saying, `He's not going to be good enough to be in the league. He's not going to make it. He's just the 50th pick, second round.' Now, I have another thing to prove that I am good enough. I think those kind of things are good because it gives you motivation."
I for one am excited about this guy playing here. I don't ever remember so much attention being given to a guy drafted at 50. Usually, you would hear his name on draft night, maybe a brief article in local papers the next day, and that's it. The Herald has pretty much ignored the guy, but the Globe has had a number of articles about him. Remember, he was supposed to be a first round pick. He slid all the way to the Celtics though, and they should take advantage of it. There's a reason he slid, you may say. Well Paul Pierce slid too. Anybody complaining about that pick?
PLAY DARIUS.

Mark Coffman of the Herald has the Celtics Notebook today. Chris Wallace has been in contact with most of the free agents that played for the C's last year. The summer league roster is pretty much all set.

ESPN Page 2 has an article on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the fact that he can't seem to get an NBA coaching job. This brings a big smile to my face. I hated every player on those Lakers 80's teams. I don't wish any of them success. Why would I want anything good to ever happen to Kareem? Just seeing the picture of him in those goggles shooting that sky hook stirs up anger inside of me. And he is still as arrogant as ever:
"Everything on the court came easy for me,"
"The sky hook was like my sniper shot, They couldn't get to me. I knew I could get it off whenever I wanted."
As much as I hated seeing the Lakers win (steal? buy?) another championship this year, it was thoroughly enjoyable to see Byron Scott lose. If for no other reason than he played for the Lakers. I'm not providing a link to the Kareem article because I don't think it's worth a read, but it's there if you want to bother.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

A nice moment for Johnny Damon in the 5th inning of tonights game. As he was on 1st base, it was announced that he had made the All-star team as the 30th man. The crowd gave him a real nice ovation. Congratulations to Johnny and a nice job by fans who voted to right a serious wrong commited by Joe Torre.
The Red Sox have won Game 1 of today's doubleheader by a score of 2-1. Tim Wakefield pitched 6 shutout innings before giving way to Willie Banks and then Alan Embree. Lou Merloni accounted for the offense with a 2 out-2 RBI triple in the 7th. Game 2 is tonight at 7:05.
Bill Simmons has posted his latest Ramblings. Nobody rambles better than Bill. There's some funny stuff in there. For Instance:
"I can't remember ever having a bad experience with Cool Whip. "
"This will be the first Fourth of July where you can wear an American flag shirt without having everyone think you're a big dork."

What I wouldn't give to be able to think like that.
The Sox have 3 of their last 11 games. The 3 wins came in the games Pedro pitched. As well as Derek Lowe has pitched this year, and as great as he has been, this team still lives and dies with Pedro. If Pedro pitches well, the team can go far. If not, the team will not go anywhere. Pedro showed his mastery last night. He showed why he is the key to this teams success.

Pedro also showed why he is brilliant after the game by declining to go to the All-star game. We all remember the All-star game at Fenway a few years back when Pedro was so pumped up that he threw too hard and hurt his arm. Many people feel that that game was the beginning of his troubles with the arm and shoulder. As enjoyable as it was to watch, you just kind of had a feeling at the time that he was giving too much, that he didn't need to be throwing as hard. He went on the disabled list after only 1 more start.
But now he makes the right decision. He has matured. His postgame comments last night were very encouraging. He said that this is the time of year when his arm usually starts to feel heavy, but right now it feels good. He feels strong. It's an honor to be selected for the All-star game, but he wouldn't trade a World Series for an All-star game. He doesn't mean it to be cocky, it's just the way he feels. He said that he talked to his brother Ramon before deciding to skip the game. Also said that he needs to listen to the 'old men' in the clubhouse because they have much more experience. He was talking about Grady Little and Tony Cloninger.
Pedro's demeanor is getting back to what it used to be too. Remember the stare he would give batters after he struck them out? That has been missing all year, save for a few instances. Last night he stared down every one of his strikeout victims. As if to say, "go sit down... how dare you even try to hit against me?". And was I the only one who got goosebumps after that fist pump after the 8th inning?
Who knows if he'll stay at this level? He won't strike out 14 every outing. He was not the dominating Pedro of 99 and 2000. But last night Pedro was among the elite again.

Dustin Hermanson has declared himself ready to pitch. He will pitch a simulated game before the break and should be ready to go right afterwards. Also some comments about Baerga's injury in Bob Hohler's notebook.

Steve Buckley has an article about the Yankees acquisition of Raul Mondesi. He takes some shots at the Sox for not making a move yet. Tells a joke that the Sox are tracking John Henry Williams progress in the Gulf Coast league rather than making trades. The problem is, the joke isn't funny.

Gerry Callahan and Buckley must have discussed their articles before hand and decided to go after John Henry Williams. Ironic that Callahan compares JHW to Tony Clark the same night that Clark has 2 hits and 2 RBI's in helping the Sox to a win.

Larry Bird made his first public appearance in Charlotte. In the back of my mind, I think Bird must have a trick up his sleeve. I mean, Charlotte?? Come on now. Larry must have thought this out and somehow he figures this will enable him to be able to buy the Celtics. I know the team did well last year, but Gaston has to go. I can't picture Larry owning any team except the Celtics. This reminds me of the whole Bob Kraft taking the Pats to Hartford thing. Kraft never had any plans to go to Hartford, and Larry has no plans to go to Charlotte.

Speaking of the Celtics, Chris Wallace met with Rodney Roger's agent, Butch Williams, yesterday for 3 1/2 hours. Both men came out of it saying there is a lot of work left to be done. Williams will now take offers from other teams but said a decision will be made by July 15th.

The Bruins are looking at Teemu Selanne as a replacement for Bill Guerin. Looks like it back to mediocrity for the B's.

The Herald runs down the list of free agents that the Patriots have brought in and gives a brief blurb on each one.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Peter Gammons says in his mailbag that Jim Thome is most likely staying in Cleveland, at least through the end of this year. Thome sat down with his agent on Friday and gave his reasons for wanting to stay in Cleveland, one such thing being his wife's pregnancy. That doesn't bode well for people who were hoping to see Big Jim in the middle of the Sox lineup for the 2nd half of the season.
ESPN page 2 did an article on the 10 most overpaid baseball players. Interestingly, there are 3 former Sox on the list, including the recently departed Darren Oliver and the man he was traded for, Carl Everett.
An article by Scott S. Greenberger in todays Globe hints that John Harrington was lying when he said that Fenway could not be renovated. Harrington said every part of the park was outdated and that it would be dangerous for workers to try and renovate. In contrast, the new owners see renovation as a strong possibility. Why the discrepancy? Was Harrington fibbing just to try and get a new park built? His answer is that ''The economic picture inside their walls is drastically different, and the economic picture outside their walls is drastically different". Does it really matter what the economic picture is? Harrington said in 1999 that ''It would be easier to straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa,'' than to renovate Fenway. So back then he said it was impossible to renovate Fenway. Now he says it is only possible for the new owners because they have money. So why didn't he just say at the time that they couldn't renovate because they didn't have the money for it? It's because he wanted a new park and was willing to say whatever it took to get that park.

Five Sox players (Ramirez, Hillenbrand, Garciaparra, Lowe, Martinez) were picked for the all star team. You could make a strong argument that they should have had seven. Urbina and Damon deserved to be there. Damon is the MVP of this years Sox so far. It is not surprising that Joe Torre made sure the team had more Yankees on it than any other team. He is notorious for that. Damon could still make the team because fans are voting in the 30th player. Make sure to go here and vote for Johnny because he should be there.
On the same theme, enough already about Manny stepping aside and letting Johnny play. It's not Manny's decision. Even if he were to step aside, there is no assurance that Johnny would get picked. Torre would have to pick a replacement and chances are he would pick a Yankee. It's just Joe's way. Besides, maybe Manny wants to go, and what's wrong with that? It's an honor to go to an all-star game. Who knows if he'll ever have another chance? Injuries or other things could affect him down the road and maybe he never gets picked again. So let him enjoy it. Get off his back. Stop making up junk just so you can complain about Manny.

Johnny Damon says all the right things in Bob Hohler's notebook. Says he doesn't care and that he is only focused on winning. His teammates disagree and say he was snubbed. Manny's earring has been found.

The Bruins offered Bill Guerin a 2 year deal at 9 million per year but he turned it down. Guerin is looking for a long term deal. The Rangers are reportedly going to make him a big offer.

Rodney Rogers remains the Celtics top priority. Chris Wallace is traveling to North Carolina today to meet with Rogers agent, Butch Williams. The Celtics will be over the luxury tax with or without Rogers, so just sign him. A few million dollars won't make a difference to "Thanksdad" Gaston. Peter May had a terrific article in yesterday's Globe about this very subject.

Despite today being the first day of free agency, and the Celtics having an important decision to make on Rogers, the Herald has no Celtics coverage today, yesterday, or Saturday.

It looks like Roman Phifer will be in New England for more than just one more year. He will most likely be here for at least 2 more and possibly 4 more.

At what point should I get rid of the feature on the left side of this page that compares the Red Sox record to that of the 98 Yankees and 01 Mariners? Early in the year, when they were on fire, it seemed like a good idea. Now... who knows? Maybe I should switch it to be a countdown until they are a .500 team.
18-19 at home is embarrasing and shameful.