Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Boston Sports Moment of the Decade

Ten years is a long period of time in any persons life. In best case scenarios it may be 10% of your existence, but in many it is much less. Therefore it is important when you reach the end of a year to reflect and the sense of this reflection is maximized at the end of a decade. Obviously the importance of the decade is measured in personal accomplishments, family and health. But for sports fans we also have the opportunity to look back at what happened during the past ten years.

As a Boston sports fan I've ended each decade of my life with mainly pain. Remember the end of the 70s, 80s and 90s? Not much to really celebrate. Of course the Celtics' championships in the 80s stand out and the Patriots, one of the laughable NFL franchises at the time, reaching the Super Bowl as a wild card in 85 and 96 were highlights. But when you think of the past decades you think of losing one-game playoffs, ball through the legs, locker room scandals and more negatives.

Well, we sit on the cusp of a new decade and this time we get to look back and nearly laugh with glee. Three Super Bowl Championships, a perfect regular season, two World Series Championships and a NBA Championship. Hell, you could add in the fact that the MLS team in New England has gone to three of their championship games, Boston College went to a bowl game nearly every year (and was even ranked #2 in the country at one point) and won a hockey NCAA Championship, as did BU and UCONN.

On the eve of the '10s I ask you, what was your favorite MOMENT from New England sports during the past ten years. Tell us the story of the moment, not just "when the Sox won it in '04". I'll start us out:

Climbing up into our truck parked out on Beacon Street my wife and I both looked at each other with pure amazement. The snow was coming down hard, there had to be at least five inches on the ground already. The street was completely covered, on a Saturday night, yet there was not a person around who really could be bothered to be bothered. The snow was the reason we were happy, the snow was the reason that what we just witnessed was so amazing, the snow was the reason we now have something we can call "the snow bowl".

Watching the game we had little expectations at the time, just happy that we had some playoff football to watch on this cold Saturday night in Boston. Only a small sampling of the typical Sunday crew had made their way out to my friend Mike's apartment for the game, the pending snow a deterrent. During the first quarter the snow was already starting to fall and cover the now ripped up field at the old Foxboro (Schaeffer Stadium to some of us) and the snow really made the game a spectacle. Not to mention that the New England Patriots were facing one of their long-time rivals, the Oakland Raiders.

Band-wagon jumping fans (you know who they are) of the Pats probably don't realize the enormously bad blood between these two franchises. But let's just say, when your owner gets in fist-a-cuffs with an opposing player after a game...there is some bad blood. That bad blood would not only continue after this monster game, but it would mark the end of a great franchise in Oakland and the blossoming of a new dominant NFL force in quiet little Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The game is a blur at this point, minus the tuck and the kick. But it was the snow outside after we left the celebration that is my favorite sports moment of the '00s. A fresh snow had blanketed the entire city and people were just running around high-fiving each other, realizing that what we had just witnessed after so many sports disasters was perhaps an inkling of some much needed luck. This moment, standing in the snow, I called my Dad, like I do after every game, and he immediately blurted out:
"Boston teams don't win those games!"
And if you are a fan, you know he is right. But in that moment we knew a Boston team HAD won one of those games, and it was the Patriots who had made it happen. The team that had been relegated fourth in the pantheon for decades. A few weeks later they would cement the foundation of a dynasty in New Orleans, but the shift in Boston sports started that one Saturday night in the snow when we all started to believe that our teams could start winning "those games".

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Magic and Bird

Cover image of *When the Game Was Ours* book, from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson

Is this book on your reading list?

Ready for the Winter Classic

ice skating at Fenway Park ahead of the 2010 Winter Classic

I'm not much of a hockey guy, but even I'm excited about this year's Winter's Classic.

Outdoor hockey, at Fenway Park, on New Year's Day? Absolutely brilliant (arguably one of the few brilliant marketing moves from the NHL over the years).

This will be the third annual installment of the Classic (with plans to expand to two outdoor games per season soon), and the Bruins and Flyers will have draw plenty of eyeballs this Friday starting at 3:00pm 1:00PM Eastern. Mine will certainly be among them.

Photo courtesy of my sister, Jill Person, who had a gig shooting a family on the Fenway ice last week.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Affirmation of Tom Brady's Dominance



Hat tip to Jim Storer who tweeted this post out regarding Tom Brady and the Patriots i.e. they might be a lot better than you think when you look at the pass defenses they played this year (toughest by a long shot). See the excerpted chart below for validation:

Quarterback    Passer Rating    Opp. Rating    Difference
Drew Brees               109.4               83.8               +25.6
Philip Rivers              102.8               83.4               +19.4
Tom Brady                  93.7               74.6               +19.1
Brett Favre               104.1                85.6               +18.5
Matt Schaub               98.9                82.8               +16.1
Peyton Manning        101.2                85.4               +15.8
Tony Romo                 97.8                83.3              +14.5
Ben Roethlisberger    100.6                86.2              +14.4
Eli Manning                96.0                82.6               +13.4
Aaron Rodgers          102.4                89.6              +12.8
Donovan McNabb        93.6                85.1                +8.5
Kurt Warner               93.0                89.0                +4.0



The author of this article, Kerry J. Byrne, goes on to explain...


The performance of New England’s opponents, its 74.6 Defensive Passer Rating, leaps screaming off the list. It’s a gauntlet far tougher than that which any other team in football has faced this year. In fact, it’s not even close.

The league-wide Defensive Passer Rating in the NFL this year is 83.7 — which means the average defense surrenders (and the average quarterback produces) an 83.7 passer rating.

Most of the game’s elite quarterbacks have faced defenses in that range. In fact, as you might expect from teams that face the game’s best quarterbacks, their opponents trend slightly below average, from the 82.6 that Eli Manning and the Giants have faced, to the cushy 89.6 defensive passer rating of Green Bay’s opponents.

Bottom line: given the cushy schedule faced by the likes of Peyton Manning or Kurt Warner, Brady’s numbers would be much, much better than they are already. 


What's most comforting about this article is the reminder that assuming the Pats make it into the playoffs, their likelihood of playing a top 5 passing defense again (minus maybe the Ravens) is nil until the Superbowl where they could face a rematch vs. the Saints.


Photo Credit: NBCSports

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cow Down?

Phillips said the team doesn't feel a sense of desperation going into this game [Saints vs. Cowboys].

"We have confidence in our football team. We're not going to cow down to these guys. We think we can win. Every game we've been in so far, we thought we could win. I believe we feel the same way going into this one." http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/news/story?id=4751288

Is this a Southern version of kowtowing? Does this require something other than bowing? Perhaps it means that they won't be taking off their chaps and bending over for the Saints. Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Runs are runs.


John Lackey isn't the sexy name you'd like to hear connected with the phrase "is finalizing a deal with the Red Sox." You'd rather it were Roy Halliday, or Albert Pujols (ha!), or . . . you know, somebody big.

But 175 innings of pitching that's 15 - 20% better than average -- which is what you can expect from Lackey -- is nothing to be sneered at, especially given the rotation the Sox started with.

If we sign Mike Cameron to play left and/or Adrian Beltre to play third, the story will be much the same. I'd hate to overpay for either of those guys (even though Cameron has been a sentimental favorite of mine for many years), but if we understand that they represent adequate bats with super gloves and pay accordingly, we'll be fine.

Here's the thing: runs are runs, and it counts just as much to keep a run off the board for the opponent as it does to tally a run for the good guys. Impact bats are few and far between -- if not completely absent -- in the current free-agent market, so there's no way the Sox can replicate the Scary Monsters lineup of 2004 - 2007. It makes sense, in that setting, to push the run differential in the right direction using the other levers available.

You think?

~

(Image source.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Take Off The Hat Tom and LEAD

This week Adalius Thomas, having been disciplined for the second time by Bill Belichick, retorted:
“Motivation is for kindergartners,’’ Thomas said, echoing what he said the last time he was punished (Thomas was inactive for the snow game against the Titans). “I’m not a kindergartner. Sending somebody home, that’s like, ‘You’re expelled until you come back and make good grades.’ Get that [expletive] out of here. It’s ridiculous.’’
One of the other players to arrive late? Randy Moss. There is no question the guy is a talent and last year he rose to the occassion. But if you saw five minutes of that Miami game and New Orleans game it is fairly obvious that he decides to pack it in when he chooses.

I expected this team to win the AFC East with 12 wins and lose in the Divisional Round. They won't get 12 wins, but it is more than likely that they will now lose to Indy in Round 2. I'm not surprised by what they accomplish this year since Belichick made it obvious in August (and I wrote) that this was a rebuilding year. That is OK and fans should be OK with it too.

What I hate to see is the fact that the locker room is apparently falling apart just a bit and rather than seeing quotes from Tom Brady demanding accountability, we get this:Perhaps the new cap for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Um, no...If you can't see it, the logo is his initials, "TB", but also his number "12". Just check out his new website. The last time I was so appalled by a cap the great Ted Williams was wearing it during the 1999 All-Star Game. Perhaps I'm over exaggerating because of my frustration about this team, but there is an issue in the Patriots locker room and it is because it is devoid of true leaders.

Tom Brady is an amazing player and this is NOT some Dan Shaugnessey recreation of history. The guy has done more for one organization than perhaps any football player in history. But this past week I saw his chiseled jaw on three magazine covers...the week after an embarrassing loss to Miami. The same week four players were kicked out of practice for arriving late (including the aforementioned Thomas). I don't blame the guy for being a cover model or pimping his personal brand, but I'd like to see him begin to lead this team off the field.

However, I have not seen or heard about him taking his teammates to task. Perhaps it is all happening ultra privately? I find that hard to believe as we heard constantly about how Ted Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour and Troy Brown would take on leadership roles in the locker room.

But I wonder if Tom Brady has what it takes to succeed in what may be his largest challenge to date?

This Decade's World Series Winners


At some point in time, I "okay-ed" some sort of sports app in Facebook and so from time to time, I remember to look at the notifications. Most of them are shit but today's asked an interesting question... "Can you name the World Series winners from this decade?" Amazingly, I not only knew everyone of them but I also remembered who they played against.

Without looking, can you name all ten winners? And as an extra bonus, the losing team? For an extra, extra bonus, name that year's MVP.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Best Name" Red Sox Line-Up (All TIme)

With the recent Red Sox acquisition of Boof Bonser, it got me thinking of the best names we've had in the history of the franchise. I'm sure I missed a bunch, so fire away in the comments and I'm sure we'll hammer out a solid All Time team.

Starting Line-up:
LF - Rip Repulski
CF - Coco Crisp
RF - Catfish Metkovich
1B - Walt Dropo
2B - Denny Doyle
SS - Pumpsie Green
3B - Rip Russell
C - Birdie Tebbets
P - Fritz Ostermueller

Bench:
Hoot Evers
Faye Throneberry
Skeeter Newsome
Ski Mellilo

Bullpen:
Boof Bonser
Dick Drago
Pinky Woods
Red Ruffing

Trading of Mike Lowell

Anyone have any thoughts on this trade? http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4730311 Sad to see him go, but his defense at 3rd was about as good as a lamppost's. No range at all. Sounds like they are trading him for a catcher who can't catch, but I guess at least they are getting something for him.

Hot Stove Sox talk as Winter Meetings wind down

Plenty of interesting tidbits and questions surrounding our favorite baseball team:

1) News broke late last night that the Sox had agreed on a deal to send aging third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers for catcher Max Ramirez.

Although the 25-year-old Ramirez looks to have some pop in his bat (here are his minor league numbers), this strikes me as more a salary dump than anything else. Lowell is scheduled to make $12 million in 2010, and Theo Epstein & Co. clearly didn't think the 2007 World Series hero had enough left to play third on a full-time basis. I understand the decision, but will certainly miss having Lowell around. He's a guy you can't help but pull for.

2) Boston.com/The Globe is having a field day with Theo's line about the upcoming season serving as a "bridge" to more prosperous 2011 and 2012 campaigns.

Step down from your ridiculous high horse, Dan Shaughnessy. Most Red Sox fans are smart enough to understand that the team won't be true World Series contenders every season. A "rebuilding" year for this club still means 85-90 wins, and not dealing away too many top prospects does set the franchise up for better long-term success. And ... hello! The team has won two titles, been to two another ALCSes, and only missed the playoffs once in the last seven seasons. Let's keep it in perspective.

3) The Red Sox won't be opening 2010 in Australia, despite a report last weekend in the Sunday Telegraph that just such a deal was in the works.

While pulling for the story to come true (I lived in Australia for two years), I was certainly skeptical. You just know that Terry Francona and his staff would like a "regular" spring training for the first time in a while. The team played in Japan in 2008, and the World Baseball Classic threw off some plans last year (right, Daisuke?), so I'm betting the mere thought of taking his team halfway around the world again had to send Tito's blood pressure rising. Now the Red Sox ownership seldom sees a marketing scheme it doesn't like, so don't rule out the possibility of the team playing Down Under in 2011 or 2012.

4) With Lowell on his way out and Jason Bay still unsigned, there are still plenty of question marks about Boston's 2010 everyday lineup.

Who plays left field if the Sox don't/can't re-sign Bay and find the asking price for Matt Holliday too steep? What about signing Adrian Beltre to replace Lowell at third, or trading for first baseman Miguel Cabrera and moving Kevin Youkilis back across the diamond? Neither option looks particularly wise to me--Beltre would cost a ton while not putting up numbers much better than Lowell's, and Cabrera is a dangerous hitter but a guy whose contract would be just as obnoxious as Manny's was (plus, Cabrera just might eat his way out of the game at his present pace). So, just how does Theo plug the gaps?

5) And just can't resist this line: If form holds, the Sox will have three Ramirezes--none of 'em named Manny--and a Boof on their 2010 Opening Day Roster.

Man, gotta love the Hot Stove chatter, huh?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Twitter Lists and the Winter Meetings

Here's one way to keep up with the latest tidbits, signings, and rumors from baseball's annual Winter Meetings: Create or follow a Twitter List of plugged-in MLB reporters.

Twitter list of posts from MLB reporters at 2009 Winter Meetings



This list from user @ConorGlassey--@conorglassey/winter-meetings--is one of the first ones I stumbled on, and it's a good one. Conor's collection aggregates tweets from the likes of @GordonEdes, former longtime Globie and now Red Sox beat reporter for ESPNBoston.com; @IanMBrowne, who covers the Sox for MLB.com; @SI_JonHeyman from Sports Illustrated; and FOX's @Ken_Rosenthal.

Any tricks you're using to satisfy your Hot Stove fix? As always, informative and entertaining suggestions are encouraged in the comments section.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Liking the Bruins More and More These Days...

Following up on Kyle's great post the other day about people's alliances to Boston teams, I'm starting to like the Bruins more and more. Want to know why? As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words...


Image courtesy: Boston.com & NESN.com

Friday, December 04, 2009

Boston Team Allegiances

A Twitter communication (see how I did that @twalk?) last night about the Celtics made me think about the Celtics for the first team all season. I simply don't really follow the Celtics that closely, never have, even back in the 80s. Of course I root for my hometown team to win, but it is never with a bunch of passion or caring. It really is simply because they have the city name on their jersey's. Now this is not to say I don't like the NBA, I actually love pro ball. However, it is the only sport for me that I can watch all the teams play and really not care who wins/losses.

There are several reasons for this, but the real question that popped in my head when I had this realization was, "How do you rate your sports allegiances?". I take several factors into consideration:

1) Pain you feel after a loss.
2) Amount of times you'll re-watch a single game.
3) Percentage of games you'll watch during said season.
4) Amount of time you take discussing off season moves.
5) Money you spend on tickets/shirts/etc for said team.
6) Emotional pull to team unknown to common man (Dad went to UNC, Stan Musial donated a kidney to you).

Going through this list I weighed everything and put together a few lists, which I whittled down yet again after reviewing each. There were some surprises:

1) New England Patriots
2) Boston Red Sox
3) Boston College Eagles Football
4) Boston Bruins
5) St. Louis Cardinals
6) Boston College Eagles Hockey
7) U.S. Soccer
8) Boston Celtics

The first two are a no-brainer, and I've stated to many of you that I've always placed the Pats #1 and Sox a very close #2. I'm guessing most of you flip that around. But the rest of the list makes sense...but only after I thought about it a lot. Rather than dive through my reasons for the way the list is, I want to see your list in the comments.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jason Varitek's Upcoming Charity Dinner


This charity dinner, put on by none other than Mr. Varitek and his charity, sounds like a solid event. Details below:

Jason Varitek's Captain's Dinner. The proceeds for this raffle will benefit the Celebrities for Charity Foundation. The raffle includes


Winner and three (3) guests will enjoy Dinner with Jason Varitek, on December 17, 2009, in the Greater Boston Area with an intimate group of fans
  • Winner and each guest will recieve an autographed baseball from Jason Varitek
  • Winner and each guest may bring up to 2 items to be autographed by Jason Varitek
  • Winner and each guest will be able to take a picture with the Captain, Jason Varitek
Tickets are only $2 each (min 5) and the proceeds once again benefit the Celebrities for Charity Foundation. Find more information about the raffle or to purchase tickets here.


Photo credit: http://kylepdiddy.files.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gut check.

Not that anyone needs to hear it again, but the Pats got killed last night. Whipped.

As always, Belichick and Brady took cold, hard stares at the results -- as captured in this ESPN writeup:
"There's obviously a big gap between us," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said.

Drew Brees made the Patriots' defensive backs, who had been thriving lately, look like a bunch of XFLers. He bombed them for five touchdowns, something that has never been done to a Bill Belichick-coached team.

"They were better than we were in every phase of the game," Belichick said in the postgame news conference. "I don't know any other way to put it. They were better coached. They played better on offense, defense, in the kicking game, they covered better than we did."

Belichick punctuated his response with incredulity at the questions about how his team failed to compete.

"They were obviously the better team," he said. "You guys had to see that. You were at the game."
So . . . where do the Patriots go from here?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Patriots Offensive Coordinator 2010?

With Charlie Weis going away as Notre Dame's head coach is there any possibility he returns in the coordinator role in New England? If it were a possibility would you even make this move?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's your favorite sports book?


Aaron touched on this in a post back in April. Elsewhere, I've trumpeted Moneyball and The Blind Side long and loud. But it's a topic worth returning to again.
  • What's your favorite sports book -- or your shortlist of favorites?
  • What do you look for in a great sports book?
  • Which sports are ripest for book treatment?
Part of the reason I'm thinking about this: my eagerness to read Bill Simmons's new Book of Basketball. (Dig this A.V. Club interview with Simmons.)

Another part of the reason: one of these days, I'd like to write a great book on sports, and this crowd is a great place to start tossing around ideas for that.

So, what say you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

4th and 2

The facts are clear, the Patriots had a better chance of winning the game by going for it on 4th and 2 than if they punted.

In fact it is a 78% winning probability going for it on 4th and 2 versus a 70% WP when punting.

Here is the math.

Still hurts though, huh?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unanswered Questions Starting to be Answered?

Commissioner Gammons has a great column on the Sox, hitting a bunch of topics from Varitek, to Bay to the latest in a long line of shortstop prospects:
"Perhaps the most encouraging news thus far this winter has been the play of shortstop Jose Iglesias, a 19-year-old Cuban defector whom the Red Sox signed in July, in his first American experience in the Arizona Fall League. They thought he'd defend, and one National League scout says "He may have the quickest hands I've ever seen. Get a closet for his Gold Gloves."

It is fairly obvious to me, and others smarter than myself, that the Sox are going to sit on the sidelines this year. 2010 is going live or die with the team they pretty much currently have. But 2011 and beyond seem to be really huge years in terms of the depth coming up from the farm and the free agents available. Let me be the first to say it...the '10s will be the Red Sox decade.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hot Stove topic #2: Patriots.




(Note: It's topic #1 for Kyle Flaherty.)

The Patriots, I'm sure you've noticed, are 5-2, and sit atop the AFC East. Their remaining schedule looks like this:
  • Miami
  • at Indianapolis
  • NY Jets
  • at New Orleans
  • at Miami
  • Carolina
  • at Buffalo
  • Jacksonville
  • at Houston

I see a lot of winnable games in there, but you tell me: which of these games do they win, and which do they lose? Where do they slot into the playoffs? And how far will they go this year?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Hot Stove League is now in session.


Some starter topics:
  • What's your ideal starting rotation for the Sox next year?
  • What kinds of free-agent acquisitions should the Sox make in the off-season? Which particular players do you have in mind?
  • Any Sox farmhands you're looking forward to seeing with the big club next year?
  • How seriously should we scheme to put together a BigP Spring Training trip?
Thoughts?

~

(Image source.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I have the ball

photo of 2007 Red Sox championship baseball, signed by Jonathan PapelbonOK, not THE ball (we hear the dog ate it), but at least an official replica.

An early birthday gift arrived in the mail over the weekend. And it what can only be termed a so-crazy-that-it-MUST-be-true coincidence, I had been sent a 2007 World Series baseball, signed by ... Jonathan Papelbon himself. No way I could make this up.

Mom and I had a good laugh on the phone on Sunday, when I told her that I "penned" the occasional column on a blog named after the same Sox closer who had autographed my birthday present. She had had no idea.

One other funny twist that ties in here ... I was a 7-year-old in the hospital recuperating from minor surgery in the spring of 1984 when I was given a "best wishes" signed baseball from former Red Sox, Dwight Evans.

I always liked Evans' timely hitting and cannon arm in right field. Plus--and this was probably a bigger deal when I was kid--he and I share the same birthday: November 3.

So, happy birthday, Dewey! And thanks for the ball, Pap! No dogs in my house, so it's safe with me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Three thoughts on three days' rest.

1. For most of baseball history, three days of rest was the norm for starting pitchers, not some sign of super-duper-awesome-super-toughness.

2. If I had a horse like C.C. Sabathia or Cliff Lee in my rotation, you're damn right I would plan on using them in Games 1, 4, and 7 of an LCS or World Series. At a maximum, that schedule would go on for two rounds of the playoffs, i.e. three weeks, after which the pitcher is guaranteed a winter of rest.

3. Three days' rest isn't for everybody, and I certainly wouldn't force it on, say, today's Pedro Martinez. But would it really be that hard to go with your horse for Games 1, 4, and 7, then apportion the other starts for Games 2, 3, 5, and 6?

Your thoughts?

Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Things I Think I Think


Anyone here read Peter King of Sports Illustrated? I'm assuming most of you have. He writes a weekly column called Monday Morning Quarterback -- a must read if you follow football at all. My main reason for mentioning him is that within his MMQB column, he has a section called "Ten Things I Think I Think." Given my lack of contribution to Big Papelbon (other than in the comments section), I felt like I needed a more substantive post with some current thoughts on the Boston sports scene. Here goes:


  1. Missed the Celtics season opener the other night. Saw the highlights on ESPN though and I'll tell you what... the 2009 Celts are going to be a tough team this season provided they stay healthy. What a great combo of veterans (Pierce, Garnett, Allen, 'Sheed, House and Daniels) and youth (Davis, Perkins, Allen and Williams).
  2. Following up on point number one, LeBron IS a human highlight film. However, I'm going to reiterate that if he doesn't learn to be more reliant on his teammates (Shaq might help that), championships are going to continue to be elusive.
  3. Cliff Lee. Game 1 of the World Series. WOW. Enough said.
  4. Sounds like the Red Sox might make a run at Ben Sheets. Yeah, I know that the last few science experiments with Mssrs. Penny and Smoltz didn't work out so well. But this one's got nothing but upside considering the fact that they've already got three legit studs in Beckett, Lester and DiceK and a stud in the making with Clay Buchholz. Sounds like the Sox interest in Adrian Gonzalez is also heating back up. The idea is that Gonzalez (40 HRs in 2009) would play first and Youk would bounce back to third.
  5. What about them Patriots? True, they last two teams they've played are a combined 0-12 but good teams beat bad teams soundly. And the Pats have done just that winning 59-0 and 35-7 respectively -- both times in bad weather. Looks like Brady's fate will rise and fall based on the presence of his security blanket, Wes Welker. Nice to see them at 5-2 going into the break. I pity the next nine teams that have to play them.
  6. University of Texas has two teams ranked number three in the country right now. Everyone in Austin knows that the men's football team is one of them. How many Longhorn fans/Austinites know that the men's basketball team (preseason coaches' poll) is the other?
  7. Good to see the A-Rod we all know and love (kills it in the regular season/chokes in the post season) resurface for the World Series. He's batting a stellar 0-8 with 6 strikeouts. Even if the Yankees win, this makes me oddly happy.
  8. If Garnett, Allen, 'Sheed and Pierce can all stay healthy this season (yes, that's a huge IF), the Celtics could win 70 games. Just sayin'.
  9. Regarding the Bruins (5-5-1), I hope they do well this season. Beyond that, I got nothing for ya. Not the biggest NHL fan.
  10. Best wishes to Brad Mills, former Red Sox bench coach, who was named manager of the Houston Astros. Hopefully he'll bring a little of that Boston/Philly mojo to the 'Stros. It would be nice to see them get back into the hunt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

THAT's why they say . . .

. . . "Good pitching beats good hitting."

Cliff Lee: complete game, zero earned runs, 10 K's in the house of the best offensive lineup baseball has seen in years. Shades of Beckett in the 2003 World Series or the 2007 ALCS -- or, dare we say it?, Hershiser in the 1988 Series.

Even better: he did it with complete insouciance. Did you see that smile he was wearing?

One down, three to go.

Thoughts on Game One? Predictions for Game Two?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A thought on the verge of the World Series.

I'll be happy for the Yankees to win their 27th World Championship . . . right after every other team wins at least one since the Yankees collected their 26th.

Monday, October 26, 2009

World Series predictions?

Same approach as last time -- first you say what you WANT to see happen, then you say what you think WILL happen.

Go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Should Gus Johnson call every important game in every sport?

I'm thinking yes, and -- given his comments on the previous post and our discussion last night on Twitter -- it seems that Tyson Goodridge agrees with me.

At this point, I'm looking for two things:

1. Any persuasive argument that Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Al Michaels, et al. should be allowed to keep blocking our enjoyment of Gus's calls for big games.

2. Examples of how Gus Johnson would have called great plays that were underserved by other sportscasters. Start with Tyree's Helmet Catch and go from there. May I suggest your extend your consideration to Y. E. Yang's victory over Woods at the PGA this year?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Playoff Predictions?

Time to exercise your baseball prognostication powers . . .

In the comments, please list TWO things:

1. What you WANT to see happen in the rest of the playoffs.
2. What you PREDICT will happen in the rest of the playoffs.

Go!

Monday, October 12, 2009

We forge ahead.

Pioneer spirit, my friends.

It's easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight, but I was leery of the playoff chances for the Sox a while before the playoffs even started. When Kyle posted about Paps a month ago, I couldn't get on board. Sure, I wanted him to be great, but I'd seen a couple of outings too many where the "bend, don't break" approach went too far. Is he a great pitcher, even after yesterday? Of course. Was he the freaky, control-the-weather, out-making machine we've seen in the past? No -- and not just yesterday.

We're spoiled. Two World Series wins this decade (plus three for the Pats and one for the Celtics), and a franchise built to go to the playoffs every single year. Changes will come during the off-season, for sure, but the engine is still in place.

So, tell me what you think about these Hot Stove questions . . .
  • What happens to Varitek?
  • What happens to Lowell?
  • What's the everyday starting lineup next year?
  • What's the ideal 2010 rotation?
  • What are you most excited about for 2010?
Eager to have your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Who's it gonna be: Tigers or Twins?

Which team are you cheering for in today's AL Central one-game tiebreaker (TBS, 5:07pm EDT start)?

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Red Sox versus Angels: Vote Now

Red Sox versus Angels

Red Sox in 3
Red Sox in 4
Red Sox in 5
Angels in 3
Angels in 4
Angels in 5

View Results

Friday, September 25, 2009

Should Varitek Sit During Playoffs?

A thought sparked by Tim's Tweet.

Assuming that Mike Lowell is healthy you have to sit Varitek and have Martinez behind the dish...right?

Now I know Lowell isn't hitting all that well, but having Varitek at the bottom of the order is nearly like a NL team hitting the pitcher.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Playoff Starting Rotation?

The playoffs are all but a certainty at this point and due to our lackluster play in KC it will be as the Wild Card. Let's start to look ahead at the starting rotation against the Angels and realizing that the Yankees (best record) get to choose this year the playoff schedule they will take. This means they will go with schedule A giving them a day off between Games 1/2, thus needing only three starters. Forcing the Angels and Sox to go with four starters.

Lester
Beckett
Buckholz
Wakefield

Agreed?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sporting bookmarks

Bryan Person's iPhone bookmarks of sports websites

Which sports blogs/websites do you have bookmarked on your mobile phone (or laptop or desktop)? Here's my iPhone 3G list, in no particular order:

(note: For usability reasons, I'm embedding the web-based links to these pages and sites.)

1) ESPN.com
The Worldwide Leader in Sports features an iPhone-friendly version of its site. The pages load quickly and navigation is a breeze. I've alternated this bookmark between the main ESPN site and the MLB landing page.

2) Boston Sports Media Watch
Bruce Allen's blog is one of the first that I ever read. And since 2002, his site has been a daily staple of my online reading (I even contributed to the site for a while back in 2005).



Bruce rounds up daily links to Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins stories, but it's his coverage of the Boston sports media that really stands out. Bruce has called out Ron Borges and others for their plagiarism and hypocritical writing, and he blasts WEEI for some its moronic talk and antics, too. But it's certainly not all critical commentary from Bruce. He'll praise reporters and media members when they deserve it.

As an added bonus, BSMW has also added a mobile-friendly version of its site in the last week or so.

3) Cricket.org
My debut column for Big Papelbon saluted South African cricketing captain Graeme Smith, so it's no secret that I'm a cricket fan. Cricket.org offers the latest news and results from the cricketing world, and I check in to the site almost every day.

My only suggestion for Cricket.org? A mobile version of the site is sorely needed.

4) Boston.com Sports
Whether on the web or on my phone, this has been my No. 1 online destination for several years running. A recent mobile version has actually made finding articles more difficult, but I still head here without fail for the headlines.

5) Chad Finn's Touching All the Bases
Finn is my favorite Boston.com/Boston Globe reporter/columnist/blogger--and by a country mile. His generally optimistic outlook and killer sarcasm and wit are the perfect combination for this reader. Not that I'm one to throw stones, but my only complaint is that Finn doesn't blog often enough. Guess those other pesky commitments to the Globe keep him busy!

One other note: If you're into how the media covers our favorite sports teams--as I am--Finn has a weekly sports media column for the Globe that's always a good read (no direct link that I can find).

Screenshot of RedSox.com on the iPhone

6) RedSox.com
The official site of the Boston Red Sox. Works great on the iPhone!

7) Mike Reiss' ESPNBoston blog
It's no exaggeration to say that Reiss has been a trailblazer in mainstream media sports blogging. He's been at the bleeding edge using new media in his coverage since 2004 or 2005, when he first launched "Reiss' Pieces" for the MetroWest Daily News. Reiss then brought the blog with him to the Globe, where he worked from 2005 until earlier this month. Now Reiss plies his trade at the recently launched ESPNBoston.com

Reiss' coverage of the Patriots is, without question, the best in Boston.

8) The Rap Sheet
This is the blog of Ian Rapoport, the new Boston Herald beat reporter. Longtime Herald writer Karen Guergian also chimes in on occasion.

The reporting is good, and the look-and-feel is as well. The Rap Sheet incorporates a photo or graphic into nearly every post, which is almost never a bad thing.

9) Extra Bases
This is Boston.com's Red Sox blog. It's updated frequently on game days and during the games themselves.

10) Extra Points
Boston.com's Patriots blog has lost some of its oomph--and changed its name--with the recent departure of Reiss, but Christopher L. Gasper's reporting is very good.

As a personal side note, I once successfully pitched Gasper on a Malden High School boys' soccer story back when he was writing for the twice-weekly Globe North section, and recorded a phone interview for an episode of my long-since-defunct Around Town Sports podcast. Gasper certainly has the chops to lead the Globe's football coverage now, and I'm thrilled for him!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Falling into Place

No, I'm not ready to declare that the season is over yet. Nor am I ready to say that the Red Sox are a lock for the playoffs. But what I will tell you is that they went a LONG way over the past few days at solidifying their chances for a deep playoff run. Two weeks ago, I wasn't sure this would be the case with Beckett struggling mightily, Buchholz looking good but having little track record behind him and the Sox bats wavering between scoring 10+ runs a game and none.

Fast forward to Saturday night's gritty five plus inning gem by Beckett (with the Sox bats erupting in the third inning for nine runs) followed by game one of yesterday's double header where poor Matt Garza pitched his heart out, only to get kicked in the crotch by Ortiz and Pedroia in the seventh. This combined with Lester's "ice water in the veins" eight innings of shutout ball in game two was a real shot in the arm.

So why am I so jazzed all of a sudden? Well, the Sox have a four game lead on Texas and Tampa Bay is all but eliminated from the Wild Card. And the Sox still have an outside chance at catching the Yanks (I know, I know, I sound like Kyle Flaherty here). Most importantly, Boston is looking like the dangerous offensive AND defensive team that we thought they might be at the beginning of the season.

With Beckett, Lester and now Buchholz as a solid 1-2-3 punch (yes, it would be great to see two more solid starts out of Beckett), we're in good shape to match up with the "always hapless in the playoffs" Anaheim Angels of LA. And who knows, lightning may might rise up and strike Detroit who matches up pretty well with the Yanks and deliver us an ALCS party with Detroit and Boston as the lucky entrants. The bullpen is now back to form with a much needed shot in the arm from Billy Wagner and you have weapons like Martinez, Gathright, Green or Kotchman coming off the bench. Not a bad place to be. Most importantly, all the key guys are healthy (yup, just knocked on wood after saying that).

Am I being a bit cocksure? Yes I am. But hey, I've seen Francona work his magic under more adverse conditions. I like where we are and feel bullish going into October. Who knows, this could be the year where we do actually see Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots world championships in the same year.


image courtesy: http://www.maniacworld.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Show Your Colors


As the official NFL season kicks off this week, I dug out my Patriots jersey to get ready for Monday night. I started to recall how I came upon the jersey and thought I'd see how our crew thinks.

When you decide you're going to buy a team jersey (in any sport), what's your M.O.? Do you go with a current player? Do you choose "blank"? Do you avoid it altogether given the transient nature of superstars in all sports these days?

If I'm going to shell out the clams for a real player jersey (not just a t-shirt), I like to dig out the "old school" vets that are reminiscent of what I recall as a kid. I also like to go with a little bit obscure star. In fact my first choice for a Patriots jersey was Mosi Tatupu, but I couldn't find one. Steve Grogan was a solid 2nd choice, although a more accurate representation would have been one covered in grass stains on the back. What's your jersey of choice and how'd you decide?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Imagine the conversation.

Bill: Richard, can you please step into my office?
Richard: Sure, coach. What's up?
Bill: Have a seat. We've traded you to Oakland.
Richard: Whaa....
Bill: You've done a bang up job here with the Patriots, don't get me wrong. But the opportunity came up to fleece them again and I couldn't resist.
Richard: Wait. Please. Hold on a minute. Let's not do anything rash.
Bill: They gave us an unconditional first round pick in 2011. Thanks for the hard work but you need to go pack your things. Tom Cable should be giving you a call.
Richard: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Talk about a worst possible landing spot for a good guy - at least a year in the 9th circle of Hell, given it's the last year of his contract (due $3.7 million, by the way). Of course, lots of upside opportunity (read: no place to go but up) there but Oakland is sure to win at most 7 games? 6? ...giving the Patriots a high pick. I think Belichick has stones the size of... a football field. A quote from Belichick on day two of Seymour not yet reporting to Raiders' camp:

"There's a lot of things that Richard did well," Belichick said in his first remarks since Sunday's written statement announcing the trade for Oakland's first-round draft pick in 2011, "but that's the way it is and we're moving forward and our team's moving forward."

Wow. A smart move, in my opinion, on a big name before the last year of a big contract. Short term it hurts the Patriots, but I really like this move long term. I think very few coaches would make a move like this, yet Belichick has made these moves an art form. What say you?

photo credit: pkeleher via flickr

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We Can't Let Today Go By...

...without talking about the namesake of this blog and what he did last night!

Last night, Papelbon earned his first six-out save of the season in Boston’s 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, extricating the Sox from a bases-loaded quandary in the eighth inning and then slamming the door in a dominating ninth. He struck out three, pumping fastballs for strikes and never straying from his standard operation.

WOW!

Paps is having an unreal season, even when seemingly taking the "bend, don't break" approach to closing games. But watching last night you saw why the guy has never given up an ER in the playoffs (and let me tell you, Francona is treating this like a playoff series). Baseball is a beautiful game, especially when the majority of the cogs seemingly come together at the same time.

6.5 games back with 31 to play, 3 of them at home against the Yanks. Take a look at the schedule:
  • 13 of the Sox games are against Cleveland, Kansas City and Baltimore;
  • 15 of the Sox games are at home;
  • The Yanks still have a West Coast trip to play LAA and SEA, with a day off on September 24th in Boston;
  • Boston has days off on the 10th and 14th, so they will play NYY in their 11th straight game without an off day, but having been at home;
By September 25 is it conceivable that the lead is down to about 4 games? Yes. Sweep it up at the Fens and suddenly you are watching a mad dash to the AL East crown.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Which Do You Choose?

Assume, if you will, that the Red Sox sweep the Sox of White during this series.

Do you root for the Rangers to sweep the Yankees and lessen our deficit in the East or for the Yankees to sweep the Rangers and increase our Wild Card lead?

Your answer will tell us all about what type of person you truly are...just kidding, I already know all about you.

So what is your answer?

Friday, July 31, 2009

David Ortiz...What to say?

I'm not surprised, none of us should be, we all knew in our hearts that this was most likely true.

But I do have some questions:

I'm shuffling through all of my thoughts, but ultimately I'm more disappointed because he lied so vehemently. Ortiz took such a strong stance against the steroid users in order to prove to us that he was not only a better player, but a better person, than those caught. Ultimately though, he is just one of many who tried to get a leg up through a needle, he's no longer special.

Today, he's just David Ortiz and no longer Big Papi.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Winning = More Facial Hair

Let's face it folks (pun intended), the Red Sox don't have enough facial hair to win right now. It is scientific fact:

Sports + Facial Hair = Win

Furthermore...

Sports + Retro Facial Hair = More Winning

Year after year in the NHL who wins Lord Stanley's Cup? That's right, the best playoff beard, how else can one come to grips with the Ducks winning the trophy? (Image Courtesy of SunTimes.com)

Don't believe me? OK, let's look at the NBA. The only year Lebron has made the finals what did he grow...that's right, the infamous neck beard (Image Courtesy of FanIQ.com):


Let's get to baseball and all I need to tell you is that watching the Cardinals/Dodgers game last night I saw something remarkable, well two things. First is that Julio Lugo is something like 12-18 since being traded to the Cards...I mean, that is just staggering.

Asked why the sudden turn around Lugo pointed across the locker room and said simply, "Rick Ankiel's Mustache" and thusly I saw remarkable item number two. (Image Courtesy of MLB.com...oh, and Lugo didn't actually say the above quote, but he should.)


The Cardinals just swept the best team in baseball, including a walk-off 15 inning win last night. Do you need anymore evidence that the Red Sox need to go Johnny Damon/Kevin Millar and throw out all the razors in the clubhouse?

And please note that the facial hair corollary also works in reverse when said facial hair has been on said face for too long and a slump ensues:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Red Sox are Simply Not Contenders

On a night when Jim Rice was honored for his greatness and hard work, the Sox simply fell apart in spectacular fashion. Our short term memories may not let us remember, but there is much blame to be thrown around for this loss and it all comes out of the bullpen. Ramirez, Okajima and Pabelbon could not get through innings unscathed. Surely Pabelbon's 9th seems to ring as the worse, but Ramirez and Okajima have blame on their hands by even making it a close game. And Nick Green, don't think I've forgotten about your 0-4 and 2 error performance.

Ultimately it is never one player's fault, baseball has a knack of equaling itself out over 9 innings and certainly over six months. The fact is that this team has a lot of great parts, but is simply not a good machine working together. This, I think, has been apparent from the beginning when we referred to them as "boring" or "workman like". At the time, because they were feasting on bad, beat up and not settled teams it all seemed find and dandy.

It's nearly August and we have a very good team in Boston, but it's not a team that can contend for a World Series. Period.

Injuries are hitting the pitching staff hard. Some of the elder players are worn down (no surprise). Jason Bay left his bat in the first half. And it seems as if nobody wants to step up and become the team clown to help loosen this clubhouse up a bit, which is a critical ingredient they lost with Kotsay leaving. A few more losses like last night and we may see another Boston Massacre like in '06.

Is a Halladay trade the answer? I'm on the record as wanting to be rid of Bucholz from the beginning of the season, I think he has a bright future ahead of him, but that is all upside. You know what you get with Halladay. Either way, if the Sox want to win a World Series in '09, they have to do something dramatic before close of MLB business on Friday.

Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AL Stars P0wn NL's Best... Again!

Growing up, I remember watching nearly every MLB All Star game and if my recollection serves me properly, the games weren't scheduled to fit Fox or ABC's "Prime Time" schedule so I was able to stay up for the entire thing. Back then, I had my heart broken nearly every year because as a fan of the Red Sox, I was an "AL" guy. Yup, you know what I'm talking about. Between 1950-1987 (I was born in 1968), the NL won 33 of 42 times with one tie. That's A LOT of dominating.

Now it seems like the AL is equally dominating having not lost since 1996. And the good news is that the game now means something since it determines home field advantage for the Fall Classic. That didn't help the Rays last year but certainly helped the Red Sox in 2007 and 2004. If the Sox can hold on and have a shot at the World Series this year, it's a HUGE advantage to them to be able to play games one and two in Fenway.

So what's the deal withe recent AL domination? Is the AL really that much better than the NL? Does good hitting actually trump good pitching and defense? Inquiring minds want to know!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So Assuming We Don't Empty the Farm for Halladay...

A big THANK YOU to friend, Derek Peplau, for stepping up and asking the question, "How Badly Do You Want [Doc Halladay]." We were definitely on the verge of tumbleweeds blowing through Big Papelbon so we needed the injection of fresh content.

In the comments, Kyle Flaherty teed up the idea of the Red Sox needing a bat. Several of us agreed -- especially with Youkilis in a nasty slump (2 for 26), Lowell on the DL and Papi just starting to emerge from this spring/early summer's hibernation -- but who to go after?

While we'd all love to make a play for Pujols, he's most likely even more out of reach than Doc Halladay. Speaking of Halladays... how about Matt Holliday who has dropped off the planet for the A's. I'm guessing that a change of atmosphere could do him good and he could be had for a solid AA pitching prospect and maybe Kotsay.

What do my fellow GM-wannabe's think?

How Badly Do You Want Him?


Reports indicate that J.P. Riccardi and the Blue Jays are shopping one of the premiere pitchers in the game, Roy Halladay.

A Beckett, Lester, Hallady rotation would surely make the denizens of Yawkey Way the prohibitive favorites to win the World Series. It almost seems unfair to the rest of the league.

It's still early days as the news broke only yesterday, but here's the question for the BigP cognoscenti:

What would you be willing to give up (and, by extension, what do you think it will take) to get such a premiere hurler in the prime of his career and bolster a pitching staff which is already one of the best in the major leagues?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Should we go ahead and worry about Youk?

Yes, he was hitting like the maximum Ted Williams when he went on the DL.

Yes, his overall numbers are still good.

But in 3 1/2 weeks since returning from the DL, Youkilis has lost .042 in batting average, .062 in on-base percentage, and .109 in slugging. He's batting .220 for June.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

How good was Jim Rice?

My earlier posts on all-time Sox lineups and rosters got me thinking: how good was Jim Rice really?

I don't ask out of any disrespect to #14. He was a great player. He was better than the other two guys in the picture here, which is saying something.

But he's no better than third on the all-time list of Sox left fielders, because Williams and Yastrzemski were simply better. It's no shame to come in behind those guys.

And if we include all Sox outfielders who played at least, say, five years with the team and had a big impact on its fortunes, Rice wasn't as good as Tris Speaker -- who was, in the judgment of Bill James, better than Joe DiMaggio.

And then there's the question from the current day: was Rice better than Manny?

My thumbnail guess: considering all phases of the game, Rice was the sixth-best fifth-best [note: I can't count] outfielder the Sox have had. (Oh, and he wouldn't crack my lineup at DH, either -- Foxx was better.)

Or am I missing something?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Most Pleasant Surprise of 2009...so far


Tell me your most pleasant surprise thus far in 2009 for the following:

  • Red Sox Player
  • Non-Red Sox Player
  • Team other than the Red Sox

I'll start us off.

For the Sox I'm pleasantly surprised with the play of Hideki Okajima. After such an amazing 2007 we saw Oki go down a notch in 2008, but now he's made 23 appearances with 22 innings pitched and has only given up 6 ER for a 2.45 ERA. Very similar to his 2007 numbers. If the Sox are going to go deep this year he's got to be the man in the 7th/8th.

Non-Red Sox player is easy for me, Zack Greinke in Kansas City. SICK. I mean 8-1 with a 1.10 ERA...we haven't seen something like this since Pedro days.

As for the team I'm pleasantly surprised to see, maybe it's the heat but I have to go with Texas at this point. I know the Angels have been struck by bad luck and horrible tragedy, and the AL West is weak in general, but the Rangers have still won 30 games, best in the AL. Give them their due, even if all the Rangers fans I talked with this past weekend told me that there was a better chance of three days of rain than that team keeping up the pace ;)

Bonus if you can name the ex-Patriot in the picture above...the eyes certainly give it away.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A-a-and the Sox take first place.

Everybody in the East except the Sox lost today. The Jays have come back to earth with a six-game losing streak. The Yankees lost deliciously, at home, to the defending World Champions.

Yet only four games separates the Sox from the fourth-place Rays, who are probably a little better than their record indicates.

Thoughts? Where do things go from here?

(Oh, and unless you're Doug, the other Tim, Warren, or Kyle, make your picks for the all-time Sox team in the comments thread for the previous post.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Best All-Time Sox TEAM

Okay, fellas, that seemed to go well, but now let's get down to it for real. This time around, you need an entire team:

* 8 starting position players
* 1 DH
* 5 starting pitchers
* 6 relievers (bonus credit: designate long relief, setup man, & closer)
* 5 bench players (preferred mix: backup C, utility IF, PH/corner IF, 4th OF/defensive sub, PR/5th OF)
* manager, bench coach, hitting coach, pitching coach, 1b coach, 3b coach

Offense counts, defense counts, baserunning counts -- everything counts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best All-Time Sox Batting Lineup?

List them off, please -- a proper nine-man batting lineup drawn from across the entire history of the Red Sox franchise. Please put them in your preferred batting order, with position or DH noted.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Trivia

What Red Sox pitcher holds the record for lowest ERA for a single season?

Hint: He wasn't born in the Netherlands.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Papelbon on Manny


I love Gary Tanguay's interviews. He's got a sense of wit that makes guys relax and lighten up.  Here is a transcription of his pregame chat with Paps from Sports Tonight on FSN.  My favorite line is highlighted.

JP:  Manny's doing good, man, you know, he's got like a low 1 ERA, you know, he's throwing the ball well [smirking] and, um, he's been great in our bullpen this year.

GT: You know, you really don't need any media training, do you... You are the king of dodgeball.  You can dodge questions better than anybody...

JP:  I thought you talking about Manny DelCarmen [laughing]
...

GT: Let's talk about your old friend, Manny Ramirez.

JP: I don't know Manny Ramirez. No, I don't know who that guy is. You know, he quit on me, he quit on our team, and... I don't know who he is.  Who is he?

GT: So is this karma?  Is this karma, finally, justice being served on Manny Ramirez?

JP: Well I don't know if it's justice or karma or whatever, but I think that it's a situation where I'm glad he's not in our clubhouse or we have to deal with it.  I'm glad he's over there on the west coast, and those guys, Joe Torre and his teammates and coach and staff can deal with all that...Things like this take a toll on you and I'm just glad we don't have to deal with it... Every year in spring training, they give us a long list - in Spanish and in English - what you can do and what you can't do, so to fail a test and it be presented to you what you are being tested for, there's no excuses.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I love Paps' confidence to come out and say what he thinks, that Manny still deserves to be in the HOF, no one should question the '04 or '07 series, and that everyone was doing steroids.  If more folks get caught, they pay the price though - legally, publicly, whatever.  I am also relieved this isn't happening in the Sox clubhouse right now though.

 

Manny being Steroid User

I have to say that I was very surprised to hear that Manny was caught using a banned substance. Having followed Manny through the years, he just didn't seem to care enough to take PEDs. That is not a knock on Manny, but he struck me as a player that enjoyed playing the game, enjoyed making money, but if he didn't play, then that was enough. Anyway, to me, this means one of two things:

1. Manny being Manny, it wouldn't surprise me if he really didn't know he was taking a banned substance. Remember, this is the man that left thousands of dollars in checks in his car and locker.

2. If Manny is taking drugs, then everyone in baseball is taking drugs.

I am very hopeful this will be cleared up, but have a feeling this is just another dark chapter in baseball's "Steroid Era" - which despite baseball saying otherwise, is clearly not over.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Question of the Day (Redsox/Yankees Style)

My friend, Tim Walker, asks, which active players, if they were to retire today, would be sure-fire, no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Famers?

Keep in mind that, by Hall rules, a player must be active in the Majors for 10 seasons to be eligible for the Hall. Therefore Albert Pujols, for example, is ineligible.

Discuss...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Big P Friday Quiz




Look what happens when I go away for a few weeks - no posts, no comments... Big Papelbon is on virtual life support. Thankfully, the Red Sox have picked up the pace and won a good percentage of games (85% to be exact) since you all have been on sabbatical. Well, it's time to get back to it.

Three Questions for Friday

1. Who is the last Red Sox player to hit for the cycle and when did he do it? Follow up - who would you put money on to hit the cycle in 2009?

2. When was the Red Sox last 100-win season? Follow up question for the comments is what is the liklihood that the Red Sox will reach 100 wins in 2009?

3. Who won more Cy Young awards as a Red Sox player, Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens? Follow up - should they retire either of these guy's #'s in Fenway Park?

Looking forward to your comments.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What, me worry?

As a former manager once said, "there's a problem in Boston".

Or more specifically, there are several. My sense of optimism at the start of the season (which, let's just get some perspective here, is only eight (8) games ago) has been severely dampened over the course of the last several days. To review some of the lowlights:



  • Youkilis is the only one who is consistently hitting the ball.
  • Only the Texas Rangers have scored fewer runs in all of baseball.
  • Ortiz has yet to collect an extra base hit.
  • The shortstop position has been baseball's answer to the Spinal Tap drummer.
  • The $100 Million Man from Japan (sporting an ERA of over 12) pulled himself out of last night's game and may go on the DL, apparent collateral damage from Bud Selig's pet project, the World Baseball Classic.
  • Beckett has been suspended.
  • Lester looks fallible.
  • We are 4 games back of The Baltimore Orioles, and have taken up residence in the basement of the American League East.

On and on.

But there is good news as well. The Yankees (the filter through which we tend to view everything as Red Sox fans) have also looked awful (Wang has been a disaster so far, no A-Rod, Baseball Prospectus has suggested that Jeter change his first name to "Past The Diving"). New York has only won two more games than Boston.

I am confident there will be a righting of the ship. It looked like it was going to happen last night after a 3-run first for the Red Sox (a lead that was promptly relinquished by the MVP of the WBC). The team is going to get back on track, and will be in the hunt, but it's not hitting the panic button (a graphic I deliberately chose NOT to use for this post) to say that there are some areas of concern which, if not addressed, could turn into more significant impediments to making it deep into the playoffs.

If I had to pick one, I'm picking the lack of a game-changing bat in the lineup. Ortiz is really concerning me. How worried are you in general, and what's the biggest problem facing the team in your view?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today's Trivia Question: April10

From Mr. Baseball, Tim Walker of Hoovers:

BigP trivia Q: Name the top five batters in career hits . . . who never got 200 hits in a season.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Opening Day: Beckett Back

Finally we reached Opening Day, something we've all been looking forward to for a long time, particularly with the extended spring training and the debacle that is the WBC. Parties, or as the kids call them "TweetUps" were held throughout Red Sox nation to celebrate the fact that we could once again hear Don and Jerry call a game. Here in Austin we had a decent turn out for our first meeting of the ATX Red Sox Nation, along with our new friend Nick on the bagpipes, but the real story was Josh Beckett, king of the hill.

In HD you can now practically see the ice water running through the man's veins. On a day where the crowd and the players are so pumped up to get started Beckett went out onto the green fields of Fenway and mowed them down. The final line was 7 innings pitched, 93 pitches, 2 hits, 1 earned run and TEN STRIKEOUTS! Ten strikeouts on opening day, on a chilly afternoon. I failed to find any stat on average strikeouts for an Opening Day pitcher, but I'm going to guess this day was on the upper end. You could see the movement on his pitches throughout the game and when he wanted to Beckett seemed to be reeling back for that extra bit of speed. One of the most annoying statements by sports writers is "mid-season form", but you have to admit as you watched Beckett hurl yesterday it seemed like June not April.

The lineup did it's part with Pedroia the Destroia (NOT pictured to your right) showing why he is the MVP and folks manufacturing runs when needed. This is not a lineup that is going to bash 10 runs a game, but it they remain healthy and smart on the basebaths (I'm looking at you Sir Youkillis) they will always be throwing down 4-6 runs a game. Ultimately, like it always does in baseball, it will come down to the pitching. And if we see the likes of Mr. Beckett each fifth day we will be looking good.

Now, let's get to Game 2 and see what Jon Lester has in store for us.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Question of the Opening Day: Take Two


Today's question comes from Natanya Anderson, new baseball fan and inquiring mind.

What do you think of Ortiz? Was last year a slump or the beginning of the end?

Please expand your responses to include your projection for his next three years (the final years in the club's current deal with him). Thanks!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Question (s) of the Day: Opening Day

Behind the Plate

I thought it would be fun to get you thinking about the game a little early this morning with three quick questions about the game. Let us know how you plan to celebrate Opening Day in your comment.

1. Will the Red Sox hit a home run today and if yes, who will hit the first one?
2. How long will Josh Beckett last and who will come in to relieve him?
3. Will they pull the tarp over the infield at any time during the game and if yes, during what inning?

Play ball!!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Baseball Summer Reading

Looking to get more up to date on baseball? Here are some "must reads" by two big baseball brains...

Tim Walker says, "Possibly the three best books ever written about baseball":
Other excellent reads Tim recommends:

And from Kyle Flaherty:

Will the real Terry Francona please stand up!

About a month ago someone started following me and my fellow Red Sox fans on Twitter. His handle was @TerryFrancona and we wondered if he was the real deal. He sounded real, but it wasn't clear. Then he went on a hiatus for a while (during spring training) and now he's back. He's amassed a pretty good number of followers

Now another Terry Francona has joined as @real_tito and I'm wondering WTF? I understand it's fun to goof around and impersonate someone for a little while, but with public celebrities (and I think Terry qualifies) it seems out of line.

I'm wondering what you think of all this and also who is the real Terry Francona? I don't want to talk with a fraud.