Wednesday, June 22, 2005

SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST

C.C. Sabathia versus David Wells: somehow, I expected that game would be closer to 2-1 than the 10-9 final as it ended. Wells, as usual, is as consistent as oil in water, as Good David took a seat to allow Bad David to pitch the first game of the series against the mighty Chief Wahoos. In fact, Sabathia did not look well either in this battle of the girth. Of course, for all we know, cheeseburgers, Doritos, and beer were the post-game spread in the clubhouse and C.C. and Boomer just could not wait to hit the buffet.

While the Red Sox offense and Manny Ramirez were hot against the Indians, the bullpen, outside of Mike Timlin, struggled. Alan Embree and Keith Foulke, after both looking good recently, returned to their troubling struggling ways, or did they? Embree gave up a homer on a 3-2 fastball, other than that one pitch, he did not look bad. Foulke was hit hard and his fastball was lacking bite, which in turn limited the effectiveness of his change-up. If this was a physical issue (back, knees, etc) a little rest could be all that Foulke needs. The most vexing issue of the Sox bullpen woes is that they struggling relievers are not Lenny DiNardo and Anastacio Martinez, but the proven veterans like Foulke, Embree, and Matt Mantei. Management is in a tough spot because they expect the struggling veterans to turn it around, but how long can they wait?

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TEMPEST IN TAMPA:

The Devil Rays beat the Yankees for the fifth time in their opener. Last season, the Devil Rays beat the Yankees four times all season. I like the idea that the Yankees and Sox cannot pencil in a 50-7 record against the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Devil Rays this season like they could in years past.

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BENCH PRESS:

The Sox strength rides on the pine. The one thing that will separate them from the Orioles and Yankees down the stretch is their ability to overcome injuries and give players a rest with their deep bench. John Olerud should be starting at first as should Kevin Youkilis at third. The infield depth also boasts Ramon Vazquez, who, do to injuries, has yet to show off his decent fielding and hitting abilities as a back-up to Renteria.

The outfield boasts a third major league starter on the bench in the disgruntled Jay Payton. Payton, while understandably upset at his lack of playing time, is necessary to the team (see: Roberts, Dave in 2004) as with Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez, and Johnny Damon all dinged up, the need for a fourth outfielder is of extreme importance (I certainly cringe at the thought of Kevin Millar in the outfield for an extended period of time). In roughly one-third the at-bats, Payton has matched the power numbers and RBIs put up by Gabe Kapler last season. Is it a coincidence that major improvement in 2004 coincided with the arrival of Dave Roberts via trade and Trot Nixon from the disabled list and moving Gabe Kapler back to the bench? Somehow, I doubt it.

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NBA PLAYOFFS - FANTASTIC:

YAWN! Are they still playing? I doubt I have watched three minutes total, and I want those three minutes of my life back!

If the Shaq and Wade Heat or the Phoenix Run and Gun Suns were in the finals, I would stop by occasionally for a game or two, but with the boring Spurs versus the dreadfully dull Pistons, I will continue to pass on these snooze-fests.

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A-ROD TALES:

For this anecdote you need to know that my boss, Jim, at work is a huge Yankees fan. From 1997 to 2004 I was heaped upon with non-malicious abuse from him for my allegiance to the Red Sox. Anyway, he usually will refer to me as Theo (as in Epstein), Nomar, or Manny when addressing me in correspondence and I usually refer to him as A-Rod, Jeter, or Steinbrenner. OK, on to the hopefully humorous anecdote.

So my boss sends me an instant message the other day at work that reads: Hey Red Sox, its A-Rod here. I responded: A-Rod, aren’t you late for your therapy?

The man was in hysterics; it made his day, to say the least. I thought it was pretty funny myself, but, alas, I am also afraid it was funny in the had to be there kind of way.


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