Saturday, May 09, 2009

Game Thirty One: Thanks, Tom Verducci!

The Verducci Effect is a theory posited by Sports Illustrated and MLB Network writer Tom Verducci. Verducci claims that any pitcher who increases his major league innings pitched by more than 30 innings under the age of 25 is due to suffer from decreased effectiveness.

Jon Lester is 25 years old. Jon Lester increased his major league innings pitched from 63 in 2007 to 210 in 2008. Jon Lester, after giving up 10 hits and 8 runs in less than 5 innings today, has a 6.31 ERA in 2009.

Thanks, Tom Verducci!

Needless to say, the Red Sox were on the wrong side of a 14-5 score today. The Desperate Third Baseman hit his 11th home run of the year, while in the "Where WERE You?" file, we have Rhode Island's own Rocco Baldelli hitting one, along with Julio Lugo.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Birthday, Billy Joel

Tomorrow, May 9, is Billy Joel's 60th birthday.

I don't think any single artist has meant more to me than William Martin Joel. He has been there for me in good times and bad, and his music speaks to me in a thousand different ways.

Happy Birthday to the Piano Man.

Game Thirty: Sixes Come Up Lucky Again

Trailing 3-0, the Red Sox came up lucky in the sixth again, erupting for 5 runs off of Big Game James Shields in the sixth to give them a 7-3 win. Brad Penny did a passable impersonation of a major league pitcher, for once, and Jason Bay rocked a homer, his ninth of the year.

Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Manny)

Ah, bliss…

After finishing a meaningless errand, I turned on a local rock station, which I seldom do. Pierre Robert, who is a little bit of an old timer, and who also spends time emceeing on our PBS station when they are showing old concerts for fundraising purposes, is on the radio. He has a segment during his radio show where he plays a song on vinyl, sort of a shout out to the old days. Some people say you can hear differences in the music-it’s warmer and richer. Neil Young, for instance. I’m not smart enough to hear the difference, though.

So I step into the car, and he’s finishing the introduction to the vinyl segment, and I hear a very familiar repeating series of piano notes.

It was Billy Joel’s “Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)”-track 4, side 2 of the Turnstiles album. Beautiful. I sang along, of course, and loved every note of it.


The news of the week, of course, is the story of Mr. Manuel Ramirez, who received a 50 game suspension for drug violations. From what I have been able to gather, the substance in question was hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is pretty interesting, actually-it is the hormone that pregnancy tests detect, and, in both sexes, it serves to “turn on” hormone production by other organs. In the steroid subculture, HCG is used to restore natural testosterone release after a steroid cycle. (When a person uses steroids, their body stops making some natural hormones.)

In baseball, of course, it is a no no. It is possible Manny has a legitimate medical need for that drug, but I would file it under “Not Bloody Likely.”

Now, what does it mean?

It makes the Dodgers’ lives more complicated, of course.

But what does it mean for my team, the Boston Red Sox? Ramirez, of course, played an integral part in Boston’s World Series wins in 2004 and 2007. Does this sadden me, and take a little bit of luster off of these trophies for me? Of course it does.

Does it make me like the Red Sox less? Feel ashamed of being a fan? No.

Steroids are usually described as ruining the integrity of the sport by distorting its statistics-which are more important in baseball than in any other sport. But baseball statistics are just records of what happened-nothing more-and these records-ALL of them-have their own biases and corrections inherent in them-the era in which they played.

I’ve said this before, but this is my blog, and you can’t stop me, so I will say it again.

Every era of baseball has bias in its statistics. 1876 (the year the National League was founded) until 1893, the distance to the mound was 50 feet, not 60 feet 6 inches. 1900-1920 has enormous amounts of corruption, culminating in a thrown World Series, and a ball that was roughly as elastic and springy as a Nerf ball, plus any manner of now illegal deliveries being permitted. From 1920-1947, you have the Ruth-fueled advent of the home run offense, plus not all the best players were in the league, pre-Jackie Robinson. Arguably, integration did not fully take place until the mid 1960s. And so on and so on-new stadiums, divisional play, the invention of the slider and the relief pitcher…etcetera, etcetera.

Steroids are a sad addition-players like Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens, and Ramirez were great without the assistance of chemicals-to this long story.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Game Twenty Nine: Missing Offense Found

Trailing 2-1 to the mighty Jeremy Sowers of the Offensive Nicknames, Boston put their hitting shoes on, scoring 12 runs in the 6th to blow out a 13-3 victory, supporting Old Man Wakefield.

Boston welcomes the Naughty Fish into town tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Game Twenty Eight: Carl Pavano?

Apparently, unless the other team has "New York" on their chest, we have issues. Carl Pavano, who until this year couldn't walk across a room without going on the 15 Day DL, threw 6 fine innings for the Offensive Nicknames, while the Nicknames chipped away at Bat Masterson, reaching the Young Gun for 8 hits and 6 runs.


So we lose. To Carl Pavano? Seriously?

I can't believe I'm really writing about this...

Bill Simmons, "The Sports Guy", wrote the following:

"4. I woke up six minutes into "The Hills" and the Sports Gal refused to change the channel because Audrina slept in Brody Jenner's bed in Hawaii and Brody's Playmate girlfriend was furious about it. These are the moments when Bruce Jenner feels proud for all the sacrifices he made trying to win that Olympic gold medal in 1976. But this led to an awesome moment in Twisted Female Logic when Audrina's friend LC then blamed Brody for not sticking up for Audrina and siding with his girlfriend because it was Brody's fault that he didn't kick Audrina out of his bed because he was in a relationship and Audrina was single, so, really, it was up to HIM to do the right thing. No blame for Audrina for going after someone else's dude? Really, LC? I sided with Brody, the Sports Gal sided with LC, and I'm ashamed to admit we actually argued about this for 20 minutes."

This is a topic that my wife and I have differed on for years. Basically, you have four people, Person A, Person B, Person C, and Person D. A and B are in a relationship. C and D are friends. C seduces B. A is furious with B. B blames C for doing the seducing. D is angry at B because he should have resisted the charms of C.

Women (including my wife and the Sports Gal) seem to blame C more than B-C shouldn't have made a play for B, because C knows B is taken. I disagree. I blame B, and hold C almost blameless. C, being single, is entitled to make a play for anyone. It is B, the one in the relationship, who is responsible for resisting the charms thrown at them.

What say you, Bloggiverse?

Say Hey!

Happy Birthday to Willie Mays, The Say Hey Kid. Possibly the greatest catch ever made by one of the greatest players to ever lace 'em up.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Game Twenty Seven: Good Enough!

I joined tonight's game in the 9th, Boston leading 6-3. Staked to a 4-0 advantage, Josh Beckett apparently tried hard to give it back, trimming the lead to 4-3. But a late inning uprising gave Boston 2 more insurance runs off that dependably awful Yankee bullpen, and that is where matters stand now.

According to the bits and pieces I have been hearing, both Youkilis and Ellsbury are not playing tonight-Youkilis didn't start, and Ellsbury left in the 4th with some kind of soreness. According to another, somewhat dicey, source, Dice K's return is not as imminent as we once thought. So that's not great, but a Yankee win cures all ills. Almost all, anyway.

The question now is who will pitch the ninth. Papelbon and Ramirez are reportedly unavailable, so it's probably Saito, who scares me a little because he has a tendency to give up the jack this year, it seems to me. So hopefully the Sensei can lock this one down for us.

Boy, Yankee Stadium is half empty-for a Red Sox game? Wow.

It scares me just a little bit that these games are so close without ARod playing for New York. If he is being himself, that's going to make them a lot harder to beat.

The Yankee reliever, Mark Melanson, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of a "strike", has now walked the bases loaded in the top of the ninth. Poor Jack O has to be tearing his hair out by the roots.

New York has called on David "Admiral" Robertson, who gets two Sox but walks The Mayor of Pawtucket, Chris Carter, to push across another tally. 7-3 Sox.

It is Saito to start the ninth. The Yankees go 8-9-1, so a nice 1-2-3 inning would be mega sweet.

The Okey Doke went two innings, which is impressive against any lineup, but especially this lineup.

Saito gets some kid named Pena for the first out, and then faces Brett "Matsui's Legs" Gardner, who is hitting for the Lesser of Three Molinas. (Both of his brothers went deep tonight, but Jose did not.)

The Sensei locks out Gardner on a backdoor curve for the second out.

Now it's Captain Intangibles, the infamous Pastadiving Jeter. And Jeter grounds out to second to end it! Victory is Ours!

Back home to face the Offensive Nicknames tomorrow.

Game Twenty Six: The Aftermath

Our Favorite Canadian, Jason Bay, homered to extend the suddenly perilous lead to 6-3, and even a late homer, his second of the game, from Big Tex, that cut the lead to 6-4, couldn't spoil the singin' in the rain. Boston pulls out the win, the first of the wierdo two game series. Tonight, we have Joba facing off against the Bizarro World Josh Beckett.

That's not really true-I read somewhere that Beckett has had phenomenally poor luck-his batting average on balls in play is hovering near .400 or so, so he's due for a correction.

We'll see.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Game Twenty Six, part one: Wet and Wild Sox on Yank Action!

In the House that Mammon Built, Boston leads New York 3-0 after 3 innings. A run scored on a passed ball in the first, a homer by Mike Lowell, American Hero in the second, and a bloop single in the third. Ugly, but we'll take them. On the other side, Big Jon Lester is moving through the Yankee lineup like Sherman moved through Georgia, so things are looking good.

Then in the fourth, Big Papi hooked another double into the right field corner for another RBI and another run, 4-0 Boston.

But Johnny Damon and Big Tex hit a couple of back to back jacks, and suddenly I'm throwing up in my mouth and it's 4-3, after 5 innings.

Since it's been raining since 1975, the game was delayed by an hour-as such, there is no bleeding way I am finishing this game. I will update in the morning.

After changes, we are more or less the same...

Thanks to Miss ( for today's Meme Theme

Who was your last text message from?
A coworker.

Do you and this person have a good relationship?
A strange one. We're men, so we don't talk much.

Have you ever gotten butterflies from someone?

If the last person you kissed saw you kissing someone else right now, what would their reaction be?
Violent and immediate.

Where were you at 7:17PM last night?

Besides this, what are you doing right now?
Paying bills.

Will you be up before 7AM tomorrow?
Not really.

What is something you disliked about your day?

What are you listening to?
Doug Benson's "I Love Movies" podcast

Did you wake up in the middle of the night last night?
I don't believe so.

Is it easy for someone to make you smile/laugh?

Did you have a dream last night?
Not that I can recall.

Did you get anything off your chest today?

What are you thinking about right now?
Whether or not the Red Sox/Yankee game will be played.

Last place you hugged someone and who?
In this room with my wife.

Is there anything stressing you out currently?
How much time do you have?

Do you remember what you were like a year ago?
Not really.

Who are you missing the most right now?
Free time.

Who was the first person you talked to today?
My son.

What are you NOT looking forward to?
Working tomorrow.

Are you a forgiving person?
I think so.

Do you wish on 11:11?
Depends on whether or not there are stars out.

Do you hate the last girl you had a conversation with?

If your ex called you right now, would you answer?

What is something that you're looking forward to?

Do you have any plans for tomorrow?

Do you wish you were with someone somewhere else right now?
Hell yes.

Do you have an older brother?

Think back to the last person you held hands with, would you kiss them?
But of course.

Are you wearing socks?

Is it cute when a boy/girl calls you baby?

Have you ever kissed anyone whose name started with a D or T?
Yes. D.

Relationship status: Single? Taken? Complicated?

Is it easy for others to make you feel awkward?
Heck yes.

When someone says "we need to talk", what goes through your head?
Uh oh.

Do you need to say anything to someone?

Do you know anyone named Trevor?
A classmate in highschool called himself "Trebor".

How many people of the opposite sex do you trust?
Most of them.

Are you friends with someone who's older than you?

In the past week, have you felt stupid?

Were you happy when you woke up today?
Heck no.

Do you ever leave messages on people's answering machines?
People still have answering machines?

Are there any stressful situations in your life?
No, but only because "all of life" is not a situation.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Thinking more about ARod and cheating...

According to Selena Roberts' new book,( Alex Rodriguez reportedly engaged in a pitch tipping scheme with other players while on the Rangers.

Supposedly, Rodriguez would signal the pitch type and location to the hitter during a game that was no longer in doubt. In return, the hitter, from his place in the field, would do the same for Rodriguez.

As is usually the case in such things, nobody knows the truth except Rodriguez and perhaps a few compatriots. I don't know Rodriguez, or Roberts. I do know that Roberts was eager to convict the defendants in the Duke rape case, and did not apologize when they were freed, and Rodriguez, based on everything I've heard and read about him, seems capable of such a thing.

Of course, if you're one of Rodriguez' teammates, especially a pitcher who may have seen their ERA inflate because the hitter knew what was coming, you're going to be upset about this. And if you're a fan, who paid your hard earned American cash on the presumption that both teams were trying as hard as they could, you're not going to be very happy about this.

Is this really a big deal? Supposed cases of pitch tipping, sometimes for competitive advantage, sometimes not, have occurred before. Rangers pitchers didn't exactly cover themselves in glory when the hitters didn't know what was coming, so they don't have too much to complain about. If the game was truly out of reach, and the score was 10-3 instead of 10-1, what's the harm, right?

I'm not buying it. The fulcrum of sport is objectivity-I'm trying my hardest to beat you, and you're trying your hardest to beat me. Anything that puts that into question-from an NBA player letting a defender glide past in a blowout, to a pitcher grooving one to an aging slugger-is bad for the game.

Game Twenty Five: Call Them Fish Our Daddy

To paraphrase the great Pedro J. Martinez, I guess we just have to call the Devil Rays our Daddy.

Boston finished up a downright emetic weekend series with the mighty Rays, dropping a 5-3 decision in Tampa today. Brad Penny was very un-Brad Pennyish, turning in a downright adequate six innings, but the usually dependable bullpen surrendered two more runs while the "Too Little, Too Late" offense came up with a few more tallies to make the score respectable.

What a disaster.

Tomorrow, Boston heads into Gotham for their first visit to the New Yankee Stadium (aka Coors Field East) (aka the Empty Cash Drawer) for a series with the Evil Empire. Jon Lester takes on Phil Hughes in the opener.

This is a little bit disturbing...

One of the allegations in Selena Roberts' book is that ARod has tipped pitches to opponents, expecting a quid pro quo when he comes to the plate.

I don't know how you prove this, but baseball has to take this seriously. Baseball without the integrity of its results is pro wrestling held outdoors.

Onto the next 1300....

That last post was number 1300. And to think, nearly 15 of them have made sense!

This link ( is to a positively gorgeous excerpt of a letter from English comedian and actor Steven Fry, addressed to his 16 year old self from the present.

While I don't share his sexual proclivities, I can certainly appreciate a sentiment like this:

"How I admire your arrogance and rage and misery. How pure and righteous they are and how passionately storm-drenched was your adolescence. How filled with true feeling, fury, despair, joy, anxiety, shame, pride and above all, supremely above all, how overpowered it was by love. My eyes fill with tears just to think of you. Of me. Tears splash on to my keyboard now. I am perhaps happier now than I have ever been and yet I cannot but recognise that I would trade all that I am to be you, the eternally unhappy, nervous, wild, wondering and despairing 16-year-old Stephen: angry, angst-ridden and awkward but alive. Because you know how to feel, and knowing how to feel is more important than how you feel. Deadness of soul is the only unpardonable crime, and if there is one thing happiness can do it is mask deadness of soul."