Wednesday, February 02, 2005

February 2, 2005

THE GAME OF THE CENTURY:

OK, that is a bit of hyperbole, especially in the week of the Super Bowl. But what a great match Tuesday night. Final score Manchester United 4 – Arsenal 2. In Arsenal, where they hadn’t lost a Premiership match in almost two years, tensions were running high. It was a riveting match. Even Kat was drawn into it, which had to be a first!

Arsenal jumped out to an early one-nil lead and then after ManU tied it at one-all, they scored again right before the break. But the second half was all ManU. Two goals by Ronaldo gave them the lead. After a red card put ManU a man short for the final 20 minutes and extra time, they not only held on, but added an insurance goal in the last minute of extra time.

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PATS, PATS, PATS:

I love the week before the Super Bowl. So much news & hype to read that I can’t even get through the Globe & the Herald. I’m saving my super analysis and predictions until Friday or Saturday.

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RED SOX NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:

The Red Sox invited 16 non-roster players to spring training. I’ll go out on a limb and say two make the roster. Dave McCarty will again fill the 9th inning defensive replacement at first base (and hopefully pitch a few innings during blowouts). Among the other semi-notable signees (many of whom will end up at Pawtucket) include Josias Manzanillo who was signed by the Sox in 1983; Jeremi Gonzalez who pitched for the Devil Rays; George Lombard, a former prospect in Atlanta; Billy McMillon, a backup outfielder for Oakland; and Dave Berg, formerly a utility infielder for Toronto.

The other not-so-big news involved the Sox signing a 37 year-old Japanese relief pitcher, Denny Tomori. I don’t know what to make of this move. It doesn’t cost much to give him a shot at Pawtucket.

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STROS N’ FROS:

There is a Houston Astros fan web-site named OrangeWhoopAss.com (Check it out at: http://www.orangewhoopass.com) Who knew, there are Houston Astros fans out there! Whoo-hoo, Enos Cabell’s afro still rules.

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RED SOX PITCHING:

Your World Champion Boston Red Sox have overhauled their starting pitching staff this offseason for a myriad of reasons: economic, balance, talent, and necessity to name a few. Many have argued that this is cause for alarm, although I believe the staff is better this coming year than in 2004. Granted, there is no Randy Johnson or another Curt Schilling joining the staff this season to replace Pedro & D-Lowe, but the Sox should have the arms to make a run at another World Championship.

RED SOX PITCHING PART ONE - I ONLY MISS YOU WHEN YOU’RE GONE:

What is being replaced is, of course, the major concern. Pedro Martinez & Derek Lowe have won a lot of games for the Red Sox since the late nineties. Lowe, in my opinion, is addition by subtraction. Lowe has maddened Sox fans over the years with his inconsistency. He goes from unhittable to helpless on the mound in the blink of an eye. Yes, he turned in an amazing off-season in 2004. But keeping him around for nostalgia’s sake does not improve the team. I’m glad Lowe got his money. I’m glad he’s off in la-la land without the pressure of rabid New England sports fanatics hollering at him incessantly from the bleachers, but he is not a 16-21 win pitcher anymore in the American League and to pay him that kind of money is senseless.

Talent-wise, Pedro Martinez is irreplaceable. But there is no doubt that the ego that drives Pedro would not allow him to stick around and carry Curt Schilling’ s golf bags. Yes, Pedro’s shoulder is a major concern. Yes, the fact he could hit 95 MPH in the World Series but not any other time over the past 2+ years is rather disconcerting. Yes, he was a prima donna who does not fit ownership’s “team first” mantra, but damn he can pitch when he’ on his game.

The problem is the when he’s on his game aspect. The 1997 through 1999 version of Pedro is gone forever. What an honor it was to watch him pitch during those years. You literally were on the edge of your seat until he gave up that first hit because you knew that any game could be a no-hitter. He was just so dominant. I remember sitting in the bleachers with Kat and watching him pitch during that time you could hear every person in attendance audibly groan with disappointment when he gave up that first hit.

But Pedro wanted the guaranteed money. It’s his right. I don’t think it’s the right decision, but Pedro is the only one who has to live with it. The Sox will move on and the Sox will not miss a beat. We still have Schilling.

Part Two will follow tomorrow.

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