Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I WISH THERE WAS MORE SOX ON TV

Midway through the second week of April and the Red Sox are 2-2 against the Yankees, and 1-2 against the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that the win on Monday against the Yankees convinced a few of the over-anxious, over-caffeinated, and over-bearing callers and hosts on WEEI. The Sox are 2-4, cancel the World Series plans, take the women and children to the bunkers, and bitch and moan about what a mistake it was to let Pedro and D-Lowe go. Enough already!

Pedro on a two or three year contract is a decent deal. Anyone who is paying Pedro in 2008 is going to be the loser in the deal, end of discussion. The Mets were willing to take that chance. The Red Sox made a calculated business decision and let him go for the long-term future of the team. Good choice, in my opinion, whether Pedro goes 45-2 over the next two years or not, still a good choice not to give him the fourth year. Lowe is finally realizing that he is going out on top, and it is difficult to top that. Forever in Boston he will be remembered for winning the 2004 World Series. Imagine how tarnished his image would be if he followed up his post-season accomplishment with three years looking like 12-15, 9-16, and 8-14.

Letting Lowe and Pedro walk and signing Wells to an incentive-laden contract, picking up Matt Clement, who just needs a few nuts and bolts tightened by Dave Wallace, and taking a flier on Wade Miller and saving enough money to lock-up Varitek long-term and not have to trade Manny to get under budget makes good business sense. That is how the Patriots have had success, and the Red Sox would be fools not to follow the model laid-out before them. Sure there are inherent differences between the football and baseball management, structure, philosophy, etc, but it sure beats throwing a ton of money at Jack Clark and Matt Young.

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NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE:

OK, no more Twisted Sister references anymore, ever again, I promise. In the American League East this season, I firmly believe that the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays have improved enough to be stiff foes for the Red Sox and Yankees this season. Toronto is an exciting young team with a staff ace (Roy Halladay, some young power hitters (Vernon Wells), and a great general manager (J.P. Riccardi, a Billy Beane Moneyball disciple). Baltimore, though lacking in starting pitching, has a very strong bullpen and power galore in their lineup. They may win a lot of 9-7 games, but they will win more games than last season. Finally, Tampa Bay continues their youth infusion that will eventually show some dividends. Lou Piniella is inexplicably managing Tampa Bay, not managing the Yankees (Ok, they cannot fire Regular Joe until they lose the Division, we have established his death grip on the position). Piniella is exactly what they Yankees need, but I will be glad to continue to watch Regular Joe wear his team down as they race for the all-important division crown.

The improvement of these three teams, and the fact they each play the Yankees and Sox (and each other) nineteen times this season sets up an exciting division race the entire season. I cannot imagine anyone from the Central stealing the wild care away from the Yankees or Red Sox, but Oakland or the L.A./Anaheim/California Angels could threaten.

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DANNY AINGE SPOTTED WITH ACCELERANT:

The Celtics are heading for the home stretch in need of a spark. Without the number three seed in the playoffs they are destined for an early exit. They must win four of their last six at minimum, as their lead over Philadelphia is precarious to say the least. With New Jersey playing better than anyone but the Heat (Disclaimer: with Shaq) since the All-Star Break, the Celtics have some work cut out for them over the next two weeks. Personally, the spark is going to come from the Young Guns, and anytime they can get Marcus Banks and Delonte West on the floor together, or Tony Allen and West, or Kendrick Perkins or Big All with Raef LaFrentz and Ricky Davis they are an exciting team. Rest the veterans, give the kids some minutes, and see what good can come from youthful exuberance and energy.

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MASTER-FUL!

Tiger on 16…I am still speechless. What a chip, what a roll, what a match.

I saw the Sunday paper when I got up and checked the masters.org site to see where Tiger was in the standings. Imagine my surprise when after getting home from the wedding shower for Jen and Tim that Tiger had stormed back into the match and was up three strokes.

Hal was watching the Masters with me in the living room and when Tiger chipped it and it sat on the lip of the cup before dropping in and the crowd roared, He shouted out: That is the way we like it! And when he saw Tiger high-five his caddy he ran to the TV and smacked the screen to give him a high-five.

Credit Chris Dimarco for taking that body shot from Tiger on sixteen and still hanging in there to force a playoff. I think Tiger was obviously a little too pumped and jacked (as Pete Carroll would say) after sixteen and that accounted for his wildness on seventeen and eighteen. Great drama for what had started out as soggy mess on Thursday and Friday and looked like it was going to be a dismal showing.

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WILD SOX:

Opening day and I get stuck in the office. It is nice to get home to watch the replay on NESN and flipping to the Marlins-Phillies game on the MLB Extra Innings package (an early Fathers Day gift). Of course, the first year I do not have Brett Myers on my fantasy team, and there he is pitching great.

Lost in all the ring ceremony hoopla was the fact that it was a nice win for the Sox in their home opener. It was nice to see the Sox bats finally wake-up; Wakefield looked very comfortable out on the mound reprising his recent Yankee-killer role; and Hamburger Helper A-Rod making another key error for the Yankees. I thought the tears were going to flow there for a minute or two as H.H.A-Rod stood at third dejected after the error and the jeers rained down upon him.

It would be remiss not to mention the class shown by the Yankees, especially Regular Joe for getting the troops out to watch the ceremony. Kudos to closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera, who showed class and good humor by accepting his standing ovation from the Fenway faithful with a smile and good grace. In honor of his classy showing, I will shelve my classless comment about not wanting to be the pool boy at his estate.

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JORGE DE LA ROSA:

Now, you cannot argue against the move, because the kid was traded from the Red Sox as part of the Curt Schilling package, and Arizona cannot complain, because they turned him around in the deal for Richie Sexson, but I saw De La Rosa this weekend pitching for the Brewers, and WOW! They lost the game to the Cubs, but De La Rosa, a fire-balling young Mexican lefty, struck out five in two innings. This was on the heels of his first win two days before when he went two hitless innings. Future closer or future starter, either way, the kid looked alright.

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ERRATA:

A quick correction: Rick pointed out to me this weekend that in my Johnny Damon Must Go rant last week, I misidentified the skinny little utility second baseman that leveled Damon in the 2003 ALCS. It was not Rey Sanchez, it was Damien Jackson. With my memory, I guess it was good that I was close. I could have said Manny Alexander.

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