Wednesday, October 10, 2007


OK, anyone not expecting this match-up between Boston and Cleveland to go less than six or seven games is nuts. These teams are both great, have solid line-ups, and great pitching. Since I have not seen Jim Baker do his Playoff Prospectus on the ALCS yet, I guess we go to the he-to-head match-ups:

Boston: Jason Varitek
Cleveland: Victor Martinez
OK, this is a no-brainer, even if you factor in all the Varitek intangibles (after the Yankees-Indians tilt, I am starting to think that intangibles is a synonym for grounding into a double-play in a critical situation, right Captain Clutch in Pinstripes?) Victor Martinez rakes at the plate whereas a Varitek season is equal to a bad year by J.D. Drew (not that anyone would boo the over-paid Captain like they boo J.D.).
EDGE: Cleveland

First Base:
Cleveland: some guy named Garko
Ryan Garko may not be quite the leather-man like the Greek/Jewish God of Walks, but he one of those surprising power guys on the Indians. If Youk was the Youk of June, Boston would have the edge.

Second Base:
Boston: Dustin Pedroia
Cleveland: Asdrubal Cabrera
OK, Asdrubal, is that or is it not some potion from Professor Snape in an early Harry Potter book? Beyond points for the great name, Cabrera has done a very good job at second base for the Indians. As great as Pedroia has been this season, it is only a seven game set. But remember, Pedroia had a VORP greater than Manny this season!
EDGE: Boston

Third Base:
Boston: Mike Lowell
Cleveland: Casey Blake
Before everyone goes off half-cocked, compare the numbers between Lowell and Blake. Oh, OK, forget it.
EDGE: Boston

Boston: Julio Lugo
Cleveland: Jhonny Peralta
Seriously, is that a typo on the birth certificate? I like saying it: Jah-Hon-nee! (with the emphasis on the JAH). Peralta is a good fielder with very good hitting skills (having bounced back like we all expect Lugo to do next season). Lugo is the model Replacement Player for shortstops this season when stat-heads go on about VORP (Value-Over-Replacement-Player).
EDGE Cleveland

Left Field:
Boston: Manny
Cleveland: Kenny Lofton
Sure, Lofton killed the Yankees, but remember what happened to him the last time the Sox and Indians faced-off in the playoffs? (Kenny will ever forget)
EDGE: Boston

Center Field:
Boston: Coco Crisp
Cleveland: Grady Sizemore
See, there was a reason that the Indians wanted to unload Coco.
EDGE: Cleveland

Right Field:
Boston: J.D. Drew
Cleveland: Franklin Gutierrez
I was talking about Franklin Gutierrez the other day and I think the person though I was talking about Roosevelt Franklin, the purple muppet kid who inexplicably disappeared from Sesame Street over the 20 years from when I watched the show until my kids watched it. Seriously, is he locked in the basement of Hot Topic being tortured like the cartoon characters on Drawn Together the other night?
EDGE: Boston

Designated Hitter:
Boston: Big Papi
Cleveland: Pronk
OK, first off, bring in Orsillo because at least he does not call Ortizzle “Big Poppy” like he was a gigantic flower. Still need to get a Pronk Chocolate Crunch off eBay one of these days. If Pronk keeps looking like 2006 version, this could be even. Of course, if I weighed as much as I did in high school, I would be back in 32 waist pants.
EDGE: Boston

Starter #1:
Boston: Josh Beckett
Cleveland: C.C. Sabathia
I think my wife has officially shamed each and every person she knows who ragged on Beckett last season. That said, the big C.C. (sorry C.C. Deville) we saw in game one versus the Yankees looked nothing like the one who stoned the Sox in June. In fact, he must have been an optical illusion, or else he had some bad shrimp (30 or 40 pounds worth from the look of him) that night
EDGE: Even

Starter #2:
Boston: Curt Schilling
Cleveland: Fausto Carmona
Carmona is the da bomb. Nuff said.
EDGE: Cleveland

Starter #3:
Boston: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Cleveland: Jake Westbrook
Check the VORP, Baby. All Daisuke; All the time. Seriously, what is all the hating on Daisuke. 37 VORP to 21 VORP. Chalk up that game three win on the road.
EDGE: Boston

Starter #4:
Boston: Tim Wakefield
Cleveland: Paul Byrd
This is the 13-11 game. Ughh.
EDGE: Even

Middle Relief:
Boston: Mix and matches (Manny Delcarmen, Mike Timlin, et al)
Cleveland: A cast of nobodies (Aaron Fulz, Jensen Lewis)
Middle Relief? Am I serious? Who cares?
EDGE: Even

Set-up Men:
Boston: Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne
Cleveland: Rafael & Rafael (Perez & Betancourt)
I am sorry, but the Rafaels are NASTY.
EDGE: Cleveland

Boston: Jonathan Papelbon
Cleveland: Joe Borowski
Borowski may have saved me 40+ games for my fantasy team, but this is not even a question.
EDGE: Boston

Manager & Coaches:
Boston: Terry Francona
Cleveland: Eric Wedge
Listen, Francona is a good manager. He has good coaches. Eric Wedge is a good manager. He has good coaches.
EDGE: Even

BONUS CATEGORY: Best Hall of Fame:
Boston: Umm, hold on, I am trying to think of one
Cleveland: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Even though KISS was inducted, I guess it is pretty one-sided.
EDGE: Cleveland

BONUS CATEGORY: Best City Theme Song:
Boston: Shipping Out to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
Cleveland: Cleveland Rocks - Theme song from the Drew Carey TV Show
I know, I know, I know: it is a great song. But my four year old daughter never walked around the house singing it about the cat (Mimit is shipping out to Boston, Whoa-oh-oh) and I never heard it as the theme song on the Discovery Channel (Lobster Wars).
EDGE: Boston

Boston: 8
Cleveland: 6
Even: 5
What does this show us? These teams are closely matched, and any injury, freak weather, bloops, etc can swing this series. It will likely go six or seven games, but I think that the Red Sox have a better ninth inning game-ender and a bit more power in the line-up. Sox in six (or maybe seven). It will be a classic series.

Millions of Pieces (Part 2)

Miscellaneous Sports edition:

* What happens if the Bruins kick off a season and no one notices?

* I hope the Revolution are cruising and getting Taylor Twellman healthy for the playoffs. I do not care if they win the CocaCabanaCup or whatever, it is the MLS Championship that matters. Anything else is just another season coming up short.

* The best development for the Revs has been Adam Christman as that third striker to come off the bench for instant offense or step in for an injured Twellman. Can we officially petition to refer to him as Microwave ala Vinnie Johnson for the Pistons in the mid-eighties?

* Kevin Garnett is on the Celtics. Nope, it still feels like a dream.

* I know that I underrate Ray Allen, and I am not the only one. Until watching the preseason Celtics game versus Minnesota at the O2 in London, I forgot that he can stick a jumper from ANYWHERE on the court.

Millions of Pieces

Oh geez, where do I start? OK, baseball-only edition:

* Manny is a bad man.

* What stands out with the Red Sox pitching staff this post-season is the ability by the pitching staff to make hitters swing and miss. Maybe not everyone has superior strike-out numbers, but the entire rotation (well, the big 3) have been able to stay away from contact at critical times (runners on base, etc) or be able to effect a pop-up in situations where a fly ball, grounder, or a bloop single bring in a run. Long a point of emphasis by the Bill James Sect (or whatever the media jerks who bad-mouth sabermetrics call the Sox front-office), a pitcher can logically get out of trouble easier if there is no contact made. Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and even washed-up Curt Schilling have been able to get that big strike-out or pop-up when in need. In fact, having Jon Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne, and Manny Delcarmen are all capable of coming in and striking out a batter in a critical situation. In the post-season, where runs are always at a premium, because you rarely see the number four starter--let alone a number five, a staff that can get outs without advancing base-runners is a huge advantage.

* I love the fact that Diamondbacks General Manager Jon Daniels had front-office experience with three teams prior to landing the job in Arizona: Boston, Cleveland and Colorado. You cannot make this stuff up!

* The problem with facing the Indians is that there is no hatred/jealousy as there would be playing the Yankees. I like the Indians. I fondly remember going to see Indians Manager Eric Wedge catch for the PawSox; Kenny Lofton has the best commercial (DHL) on TV even though he never appears in it; Mark Shapiro is a great General Manager who is great friends with Patriots GM Scott Pioli; EVERYONE love Pronk (Travis Hafner); Mr. Red Sox Trot Nixon is there; Grady Sizemore carried my fantasy team this spring while I waited for Albert Pujols to break-out (I am still waiting, Albert!); and how can anyone not love big C.C. and Dr. Fausto? Not that my love and ferver for the Sox will ever waver, but playing the Indians is like watching the Patriots go up against Willie McGinest and Romeo Crennell: you just cannot not like them.

* As usual, the post-season has proved the axiom true that good pitching will beat good hitting and vice-versa.

* Is there anyone who seriously looked at the Angels signing Gary Matthews Jr. this off-season and thought: Oh yeah, this is the guy that will put them over the hump and back into the World Series?

* Who in 2004 thought that Terry Francona would outlast Regular Joe Torre (granted, Tito has about ten more years of dealing with Dan Shaughnessy before he outlasts Regular Joe, but you know what I mean!)? Seriously, what a DICK move (I cannot think of any better way to classify it, so I stick with what I wrote, just think of it in the voice of Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: “I know, guys, and I said it was a dick move on my part so I am paying for your meal to make up for it”) by Herr Steinbrenner, kicking Regular Joe when they were down 2-0 in the ALDS to the Indians. I am no fan of the Yankees, but what a late 1970s George Steinbrenner move. I guess watching the ESPN mini-series the Bronx is Burning rekindled some old mannerisms.

* As a Sox fan, my fervent hope is that the Yankees are stupid enough to fire Brian Cashman. CashMoney has been one of the best GMs in baseball since he wrestled control from the Tampa faction in 2005. He has the team on-track to be a juggernaut for another dozen years and Sox fans can only hope George dumps him in the Torre mess as well for the sake of competitive balance in the AL.

* Well, Joe Torre can get back to hanging out with Mel Stottlemeyer and drinking those delicious gin and tonics Mel would whip up for him. I mean, that is the reason G&T Mel was pitching coach all those years, right? It was never because he could do anything to improve a staff, manage a bullpen or develop young pitchers, right? It had to be drink mixing skills. New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

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