Monday, June 04, 2007

Picking up the Pieces

A few vacation days after Memorial Day, downing Pabst Blue Ribbon at the Central with Gallagher on a Tuesday night, and the Sox are up on New York by 13 1/2 games (seriously, does any one care if Toronto or Baltimore are only 11 1/2 games back? Of course not). Life is good and it is good to be back writing about the Sox and everything else under the sun that shines brightly on the Boston sports scene (even though Daisuke got roughed up again) and looking forward to a three game set against the Yankees.

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Went to my first Nashua Pride game this past weekend. What a hoot. Got to see El Guapo on the mound and Butch Hobsen managing and coaching third base. The starting pitcher was a big skinny lefty from the old hometown (he gave up six runs in two plus innings, which shows the Middleboro training right there) who went to high school with my sister-in-law. A furious comeback got us to the eleventh inning when the kids finally had to pack it in and head back. Saw a poor kid get a ball in the chest in the next section and just missed two foul pops.

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Hmmm. What was the worst A-Rod action this week? Was it Slappy McHamburgerHelper showing off his fine skills on the basepaths shouting at the infielder for Toronto trying to catch a foul pop-up? Or was it off the field where the married man-about-Toronto was photographed checking out the strip clubs with a buxom blonde (i.e. NOT his wife).

As far as A-Rod shouting MINE or HAH or whatever he said at Blue Jays 3B Howie Clark, it was in poor taste. Was it illegal? Not really. Was I hoping SS John McDonald re-arranged the face of A-Rod ala Jason Varitek? You bet. Have I ever done that in 25 years of Little League, Jr. High, High School, Babe Ruth League, or Fast-pitch softball? Never. I will go into second base hard, I will run over a baserunner in my way, I will block the plate or base, heck I have even bowled over catchers and spiked idiot infielders who kept their foot on the bag too long, but I would never do anything so crass as to deliberately shout something like that. Yes, hall-of-famers John McGraw, Ty Cobb, Gaylord Perry, and Pete Rose (well he should be in there) probably did worse, but this is about A-Rod and the image he cultivates of being so much better than everyone else in every way. If he does anything in frustration that is outside that image, it is highlighted. If Dustin Pedroia did it, we would love him for it and he would be ducking his next time up at bat and then it would be a non-issue. But since it is A-Rod being A-Rod, it is big, big news.

The NY Post was kind enough to blast the picture on the back cover and give the Yankees front-office one more issue to worry about. Seriously, if a guy is going to throw a few ones at a stripper on an off-day or after a game, who really cares? I mean, Big Mo Vaughn was the Lord of the Thighs down at the Foxy Lady, and Ty Law was well-known for his partying ways in New England. These guys get a chuckle and a boys-will-be-boys shake of the head. A-Rod gets lambasted. Of course, the difference is that A-Rod is so image-conscious that this makes him look bad. Hell, Ty Law wanted everyone to know he was hitting strip clubs because it helped with his street cred. A-Rod would have been best served to just say so what everyone in baseball does it and it is no big deal. Heck, he would have been smart to invite some of those idiot sportswriters along with him and maybe get some good press. Boom. Instant non-issue But A-Rod gives off the impression that he is better than everyone else and therefore it turns into a mess. Controversy and A-Rod: a match made in heaven.

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Let me be crystal clear with this comment: Jason Giambi is scum. A high-profile superstar who cheated and lied and got caught in his web and he can only issue weak apologies for unsaid issues and then try to divert the blame to major league baseball. Jason Giambi, it is important to remember, drove in two runs before the Aaron Bleeping Boone home run in 2003, so remember that a steroids-free Yankees would have never been within reach to tie the game. Giambi is the epitome of the modern athlete: pampered, fawned-over and out of touch with reality. The fact that it is the fault of MLB, and not him, sickens me. HE (and anyone else who used illegal supplements of any kind) obtained them illegally, and HE stuck the needle in his ass knowing that he was cheating. His lame half-apologies hold no water. This foot injury is poetic justice as far as I am concerned.

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