Saturday, March 29, 2003
Friday, March 28, 2003
Baseball: The International Pastime
As so many in the world at this moment seem prone to sneering at the very notion of an "American Ideal" founded on democracy and freedom, I'll let baseball do the talking:
In a country that is proud of its melting-pot roots and ideals, baseball's demographics come much closer to mirroring the country as a whole than any other major sport�
The sport as a whole, and almost every team, has a roughly equal mix of white, black and Latino players� In this new century, the major leagues seem to receive a new gift from Japan almost every year.
Baseball is a sport that evolves by inches and by inspiration. It's a game of details, but of sudden insights into new methods, too. As more nations and cultures fall in love with the sport, then bring their subtle alterations of the pastime back to us, baseball grows richer as it grows broader (Boswell, Washington Post).
And so does America. A field of dreams, a nation of dreams, and a world of dreams� Keep the faith.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Fossum accomplished his goal of rediscovering his lollipop curve, at the suggestion of player development consultant Bob Tewksbury. Fossum was clocked in the low-90s on a fastball he kept low in the strike zone…
"I talked to Tewksbury about the curve, and he said to me, `You throw it, but you're not throwing it.' That's how he pitched," said Fossum. "If I can throw a curve between 68-78 miles per hour, even if it's not for a strike, it plants a seed in the hitter's head" (Hohler, Globe).
On that note, I need to break into song.
My pitch Lollipop,
you make my heart go giddy up.
You are as sweet as candy,
you're my sugar dandy.
Ha, ho my pitch Lollipop,
Never ever leave me,
Because it would grieve me,
My heart told me so,
I love ya, I love ya, I love ya so*
But just so you know I'm not a complete sucker, I stand behind these sentiments from a NESN interview with Epstein:
Q. Derek Lowe was saying that if you're depending on Casey Fossum to win 15 games for you, you're not going to win anyway; those are not the kind of expectations you put on a No. 5 starter…
A. … Derek's right. You don't put expectations of winning 15 games on a second-year pitcher. What you do when they're 25 years old, you've got to get him to continue his development. He's going to be here for a long time, not just this year.
Right on. You gotta lick it, before you kick it.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Michael Gee has a thought provoking column on luck in today's Herald (subscription required). Gee, after reading an essay in Friday's Wall Street Journal in which Allen St. John suggests the Red Sox were victims of bad luck with regard to their horrible record in one run games, takes St. John and any other followers of the luck theory, including Red Sox owner John Henry, to task.
Luck is a word losers apply to winners. The teams alleged to have been the ``luckiest'' in history are the Yankees, John Wooden's UCLA teams and Russell's Celtics, the most triumphant dynasties of their respective sports. …
All I know about luck in sports is that those who believe in it never have any.
For the most part, I'm in complete agreement with Gee. As Thomas Jefferson said, "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."
Yet it's surely absurd to suggest that luck, or better said, random probability, doesn't play a very active role in deciding winners and losers. Look at the overtime playoff coin toss in the NFL to decide who gets the ball first? Certainly, there is no skill, no amount hard work that can guarantee that you'll win the coin toss. Yet, statistically, the team that wins that coin toss and get the ball first in overtime has an overwhelming chance to be the victor.
And what about when an official, umpire or referee, makes a human error and issues a game deciding bad call? It happens. We've all seen it. The Orioles v Yankees playoff series in '96 comes to mind here with the now infamous fan interference homer that cost Baltimore the game. Yes, you can argue that the Yankees were the better team so would have taken the series anyway, but in that one game, something other than team skill decided the outcome.
With that said, yeah, I don't want the Red Sox to depend on it. Like Gee, I believe that "the trick to becoming champions is to identify and collect such rare specimens… clutch performers [who] defy math."
But I'll take a little luck as well.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Sock It To Me Biscuits-Now*
Reading the ongoing media accounts of the war in Iraq where one day it's euphoria "the war is already won," to the next day doom and gloom "quagmire" talk, it's as if the war is being covered by the Red Sox beat writers. You know, one day a particular player is God's gift, the next day they are running him out of town.
Luckily the skills I've acquired over the years as a Red Sox fan, ie. the ability to completely ignore the media hype as necessary, is coming in very handy as I wade through the coverage from Iraq.
Things are never quite as good or as bad as they seem.
But, of course, facts are facts, such as,
Nomar Garciaparra continued to tear up the Grapefruit League, going 3 for 4 with a home run and a double to improve his average to .400 (18 for 45). He also played crisply and confidently in the field, prompting Little to declare him ready for the season and well ahead of his pace last year, when he was recovering from wrist surgery (Hohler, Globe).
And Massarotti in the Herald concurs: "Breathe easier and soften your fears, Sox fans, because the real Nomar appears to be back."
Let's just sit back and see how it all plays out through 162 games.
Monday, March 24, 2003
Up, Up and Away
Today featured a seasonal milestone event: The first day of sping in which I'm going to work without a jacket. Don't need one, it's warm and mudlicious.
And if that's not enough sign that the weather is finally settling in, I saw not one but two hot air ballons over head during this morning's ritual dog walk. Now Butch doesn't like the balloons one bit, growling as he does when they are above, but hot air balloons are one of those things that never fail to put a smile on my face.
Well, the Fifth Dimension said it best:
The world's a nicer place in my beautiful balloon
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon
In other happy news, the always excellent Baseball Musings celebrates its first year anniversary with a clean design and a new URL. Congratulations to Dave Pinto for the new look and a blog year under his belt.
Finally, if you're not already in a good mood, there's this:
"The Red Sox are a dangerous, deep offensive team." -- Peter Gammons.
Repeat it to yourself as you go about your day.