Friday, April 15, 2005

DRENCHED IN BEER, PUNCHED & SLAPPED AROUND: WELCOME BACK TO FENWAY, SHEFFIELD

What a game, what a travesty, what a night, what a knucklehead, what a finish. That about sums up last night and the final game for a month of the emotionally taxing April series with the Yankees.

I would first like to say to everyone and anyone who sits or has sat in the front row at Fenway Park: IF THE BALL IS NOT FOUL SIT DOWN AND DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO GRAB IT. There is nothing more humiliating as a Boston sports fan than watching the supposed intelligent Boston fans trying to interfere with a ball in play. If it is foul, then by all means lean over the barrier and try to scoop it up, I could care less and when you fall on your head it is extremely amusing. But for these yahoos to attempt to interfere with the ball or the fielder when it is in play? That is bush league to put it politely.

Also, would someone tell Gary Sheffield that as I learned playing waffle-ball in the front yard, you pull the ball out of the mouth of the dog first, then you throw the ball in to the fielder, and then you chase off the offending dog. That applies to yahoos trying to get the ball, hit you in the face, or knock your hat off.

Second, overlooked by all accounts of the game was a very good job by Bronson Arroyo on the mound. Yes, he lost a bit of composure after the ridiculous non-strike call on ball four to Gary Sheffield (everything was about Sheffield yesterday!), but I was very impressed how he bounced back and retired the next five batters in a row. Kudos to Terry Francona as well for sticking with Arroyo after that one bad inning. Many managers are so quick with the hook that the pitchers never learn to deal with adversity. For Bronson to have a total meltdown inning and then come back and respond by retiring the next five batters is a great sign for his future development as a front-line pitcher.

Finally, a great job at the end of the game by Keith Foulke. No doubt lacking his signature sharpness and control, Foulke gutted out the last two innings to pick up a well-earned victory. More kudos to Terry Francona (even though he was ejected at this point, I am sure he had made the decision) for pitching Foulke the final two innings. First, Foulke needed the work. Without steady, consistent work Foulke, as evidenced by last night, needs to pitch a lot to be effective. In addition, Foulke showed why he is one of the elite closers in the game, not just by keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard, but also by working out of situations with runners on base. Even without his best stuff, Foulke did what needed to be done to get the win.

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THE NEW JERSEY GENERALS WILL RIDE AGAIN:

Nice catch by Doug Flutie on a foul line drive in the Sox-Yankees game. Someone sign this guy to a contact. Patriots, Red Sox, who cares. He is an athlete!

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EARLY BIRDS:

Amid all the complaints about the Sox and Yankees playing in April as being too early, I say hogwash. Start the season off with a bang. I say get the competitive juices flowing early in the season. Really, who would rather watch the Sox play the Kansas City Royals instead of the Yankees? It is good for baseball in general (national television and media picking up the Sox and Yankees games), it is good for Sox as it assures a sell-out at the only time of the season they have to worry about the games being 99% capacity (those cold spring evenings), and they have to play nineteen times anyway, why not spread the games out over the course of the season?

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THE BIG EUNICH:

The Randy Johnson honeymoon in New York is officially over. Two sub-par performances in a row? Giving up three home runs to the dreaded Sox? I would go on, but I am trying to turn my attention away from the Yankees and towards the spunky Devil Rays who roll into town this weekend. As Mark McGwire said, I am not here to talk about the past.

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WHERE WAS MY DASHING HERO?

I was extremely disappointed this morning. I was crossing Newbury Street on my way to work and A-Rod did not jump out and grab me and save my life. What, he only saves Yankees fans?

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OH NO, MORE T.O.

Terrell Owens, one season after signing a seven year, forty-nine million dollar contract has the audacity to claim he is severely underpaid, signed the contract under duress, and now that he has leverage wants a new deal done. Wow, some people just do not get it. Philadelphia made it to the Super Bowl without Owens while he was injured, and could have lost the game without him. Obviously, ala Ty Law a few years ago, his new agent is trying to get him a new contract because the agent understands he gets nothing from having Owens as a client without a new deal. What will be interesting will to see if Owens is stupid enough to hold out this summer. I hope that Andy Reid is smart enough to ignore T.O. and let him come crawling back with his tail between his legs once he loses a game check or two.

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BLOODY SOX

BLOODY SOX:

Why is it that for the second time in so many weeks I am coming out of a loss to the Yankees with a smile? Much like game two of the previous series in New York, game two in Boston saw the accursed Bronx Bombers taking a victory from the Sox in a game they had no right winning. Still, I was pleased with the outcome. Am I suffering from World Series and Super Bowl Hangover, still dazed from the beating I am taking from Chazer in fantasy baseball this week, or just finally not dying a slow painful death at each Sox loss?

The earlier loss was the game where Varitek took Rivera deep in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game before it was lost when Timlin gave up a home run to Derek Jeter in the bottom of the ninth. The home run obviously rattled Rivera who was dreadful the next game. Last night the silver lining was Curt Schilling’s performance through the first four innings of the game. Sure, he should have been out of the game after five innings with the score tied at two after Trot Nixon homered. Of course, the Sox should have scored eight runs in the first six innings as Jaret Wright was simply horrible, but the Sox and cold bats saved him inning after inning by not taking advantage of their opportunities with runners on base.

I think the reason I was satisfied despite the loss was that Schilling looked so good in what was basically his third preseason start. No ankle problems, no lingering injuries, just his usual dominant self for the first four innings. I think I rested easy due to the fact I did not have to worry about whether Schilling would have this lingering ankle problem all season long. I am not worried that the Sox left a ton of runners in scoring position. They will hit, they are just too talented and too deep not to turn it around in a hurry.

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GEE-WHIZ TIME AT THE HERALD:

If anyone has not seen the hilarious Red Sox press corps flap this past week let me give a quick recap. First, Seth Stevenson of Slate Magazine (Slate.com), part of the mob of outsiders who descended upon the Fenway Park to cover the cultural significance of the Ring ceremony (personally, I was extremely upset that Gallagher never returned my call so he could dress up as Frodo Baggins and I could dress in a Gollum costume and run out on the field during the ring presentation ceremony and wrestle the rings away from the Sox ownership group shouting, My Precious! My Precious!), reported that a Red Sox beat writer (name withheld to protect the guilty) was visibly agitated that the game was dragging on and leaving him scant time to finish his column before deadline, even at times cursing because a Red Sox player got a hit to extend an inning. Well, I, along with 99% of the readers from the Boston area, just assumed it was Dan Shaughnessy and did not give it another thought. But, David Scott, a writer at independent online media blog or site or page or information source or article linker and collector Boston Sports Media was kind enough to out the complainer as Boston Herald writer Michael Gee. Gee then responded via emails to the site Editor and his emails and the responses from David Scott were later posted to the site. It was simply hilarious stuff.

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GET OFF MY THRONE:

Of course, none of all the above is as funny as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays owner having a sportswriter thrown out of the park for using his private bathroom. That is almost too funny to be true. It sounds like something out of an old Seinfeld episode. I can just picture Steinbrenner having Costanza throw the offending sportswriter out of Yankee Stadium and then the rest of the show has Costanza obsessed with getting into the Steinbrenner executive toilet.

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SNL? SORRY, I THOUGHT YOU SAID S&M:

Tom Brady on Saturday Night Live? Well, it cannot be any worse than Johnny Damon prancing around in his underwear for those hideous Puma commercials. Sorry, but that is way too much Johnny for anyone to be exposed to. At least we do not have to wonder about steroids. I thought it was only guys playing in softball leagues that were allowed to have those beer bellies and pretend they are athletes. Of course, I am sure that his new wife was very supportive of the commercial. I mean, she danced around in her underwear and she is the wife of a millionaire now.

Well at least with Brady there are no worries about him humiliating himself or the team while on SNL. Personally, I think it would be great television to just put Brady and musical guest Beck together in a room for the hour and a half; talk about pairing apples and oranges.

Of course, I am on the wrong side of thirty and have two kids. The next time I watch Saturday Night Live will be when I get a Tivo (which, sadly, is not going to be for some time. I watch too damned much television already).

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