Saturday, May 03, 2003

Adjusting My Tin Foil Cap

"… Ramiro Mendoza, perhaps the greatest disappointment of the young season…"

Bob Hohler nails it with that one, though, I'd scrap the "perhaps." For me, there is no question that Mendoza is the biggest disappointment of the season.

Ramiro Mendoza was the off season acquisition I was most excited about. It's killing me to see him struggle so.

Remember this foreshadowing though from late February?

"I would think," one club executive said last week in Arizona, "that George [Steinbrenner] would sooner pay Mendoza $5 million to stay home than allow him to sign with Boston, if he was afraid Mendoza could still hurt him."

Now here is conspiracy theory for you.

Remember those stories and movies during the Cold War between the USSR and the USA regarding the paranoid belief that the Soviets had planted sleeper agents in the USA who had undergone some great and evil hypnosis such that if they heard a certain phrase it would turn them into assassins or terrorists of some sort?

The 1988 movie Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! parodies this fear of diabolical mind-control schemes (with a brain-washed baseball player from the Angels no less in a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth).

surreal tone, shadow of man in suit walking toward eye ball in middle of spider webWhat if Mendoza is a sleeper agent of the Yankees? See, in this scenario, the Yankees didn't just let Mendoza go. No, first they put him under deep hypnosis, of which Mendoza has no recollection, and planted a suggestive seed in his head that somehow disrupts his ability to pitch.

Maybe, just before he's to take the field in relief, an agent provocateur gets a seemingly innocent message to him like "Miles to go before you sleep." Maybe it's yelled into the bullpen from the bleachers, maybe it's subliminally hidden in the music coming from the PA system, maybe it's via cell phone directly to Mendoza… See what I'm sayin'?

OK. Enough of that paranoia. It's Saturday, time to go work on my backyard bomb shelter and bio/chem safe room.

Keep your tinfoil on!

Friday, May 02, 2003

Short Fuse

umpire ejecting player umpire ejecting player umpire ejecting player

Umpire Phil Cuzzi had a wicked hair across his ass last night:

  • Casey Fossum, ejected (13 pitches into the game)
  • Grady Little, ejected for arguing Fossum's ejection.
  • Royals catcher Mike DeFelice, ejected, 8th inning, reason unknown.

Must have been one of those nights. In my own humble abode, we started beaning each other with words, and then we all charged each other's mounds, so to speak. Not a pretty sight. Embarrassing, really. And the animosity has continued into today´┐Ż No one ever said life would be easy.

At least the Sox won.

Over at Alex Belth's Bronx Banter blog an interesting thread is developing on the issue of gay baseball players ignited by the recent comments from the Rockies' Todd Jones. Alex is inviting readers to email their own perspectives on the issue.

[Image above altered from original appearing at MLB.com]

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Error in All Its Lurking Multiplicity

Man, I'm so glad the Red Sox managed to eek out the win last night. After what transpired in the bottom of the 6th, I wanted to pound my head against the wall.

Boston Bottom 6 Inning

  • Bill Mueller walked. Runner on first with none out and Todd Walker due up.
  • Todd Walker struck out looking. Runner on first with one out and Nomar Garciaparra due up.
  • Bill Mueller advanced to second on a wild pitch by Darrell May.
  • Nomar Garciaparra singled to left. Runners on first and second with one out and Manny Ramirez due up.
  • Manny Ramirez singled to left. Bases loaded with one out and Kevin Millar due up.
  • Kevin Millar struck out swinging. Bases loaded with two out and Shea Hillenbrand due up.
  • Jason Grimsley enters the game for the Royals with the bases loaded and two out.
  • Shea Hillenbrand struck out swinging to end the inning.

And if that isn't enough, they did it again in the 7th and 8th! Aargh!!!!

In all my years of watching/listening to Red Sox games, nothing, I mean nothing infuriates me more than the bases loaded with one, or worse, no outs, and the inning closing with ne'er a run scored.

Praise be that the team got the lucky breaks (three hit batsmen?!) in the 9th, or I'd have completely lost it.

On the other hand, there is a great life lesson to be gleaned in the futility of leaving the bases loaded with nothing to show for it. Simply put: Things don't work out. Or, as was a popular expression a few years back, "Shit happens."

Does it ever. How many times in life have you have everything lined up perfectly only to have it fail miserably? Probably more times than you can remember. It's what Giamatti puts forth as

… all neatness denied and ambiguity affirmed by the incredible power of the random, by accident or luck, by vagaries of weather, by mental lapses or physical failure, by flaw in field or equipment, by laws of physics that operate on round or oblong objects in their own way, by error in all its lurking multiplicity ("Take Time for Paradise").

So it is with baseball, so it is with life.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Celebrate, Good Times, C'mon!

map showing Louisiana PurchaseI'm happy. Let's party. What should we celebrate? How about the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase on this date in 1803?

Think about it. If no Louisiana Purchase, then no Kansas City Royals. If no Royals, no Red Sox win last night. If no Louisiana Purchase, then no Seattle Mariners. No Mariners, no one to shut out the Yankees last night and drop them to only 3 games up on the Sox.

Yeah, yeah, I'm stretching it a bit with my causal connections, making it seem as if I spent last night locked in a New Mexican sweat lodge with three hairy legged hippie chicks and a patchouli soaked shaman ("Dude, don't bogart the peyote…"), but that's not the case; I'm just happy.

And I'm not the only one.

Edes is happy: "For all the bullpen-inspired crises this month, the Sox are not only afloat, they're cruising."

Well, Edes is generally in good spirits, so nothing earth shattering there. But take a look at this will you: Our own Axis of Snivel, consisting of one Dan Shaughnessy and one Steve Buckley are also high.

Shaughnessy writes,

… the Sox are back in the hands of guys who love baseball (you never know when John Henry might be taking grounders at short during BP) and address every small issue involving the club.

Even better, Buckley calls Nomar "gracious," Manny "calm not sullen," and has this to say about player v media relations:

Things are starting to loosen up everyone [players and reporters] here has one thing in common. We all love the game.

Wow. Group hug, everyone. Show me the love. Seriously, enjoy the mood, maybe it's contagious, maybe together we can make it last a while.

 

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

"It's just a one, two, three, four
five, six, seven, eight, nine, wah"

It's one part comforting and two parts pathetic to realize that Boston fans/media aren't the only ones who, when their team is doing well, sit around waiting for the inevitable shoe to drop them on their asses.

After Kansas City's stunning loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, Rob Neyer confesses,

Today was the beginning of the end. …I don't believe that one game turns a season around, and so I'm not going to attach a huge degree of importance to this one. But I do think this game was more representative of this team's ability than most of those that have come before. So maybe we'll just remember this game as the first in which the Royals played like… well, like the Royals.

And Rob Dutton of the Kansas City Star echos a refrain familiar to Boston fans,

Were the Yankees or the Giants to interrupt their blazing starts by throwing away a sure victory, it probably would be viewed as nothing more than a hiccup. A temporary setback.

But those are the Yankees and Giants. It's different for the Royals, losers of 100 games in 2002.

The Royals realize the baseball world is watching to see whether Sunday's 10-9 loss in Toronto -- a fiasco in which they coughed up a five-run lead in the ninth inning -- is the beginning of a plummet back to a more familiar, less successful reality.

Well, they don't call it the Kansas City Blues for nothing. And as it goes, either the Red Sox or the Royals are going to come out of this series on a down beat. At which point, one set of fans can try to find some solace from Janis Joplin in her rendition of "Kansas City Blues,"

I been rockin' and reelin',
Lord as long as I can be
Lord, the team that I love
tryin' to make a fool out of me

Now well I used to drink
and I'm gonna buy a gallon…

Hell, yeah, if the Red Sox blues was whiskey, I'd be drunk all the time.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Red Sox Thunder Sticks It to Angels

Praise be to the long ball.

Ortiz took a 2-0 sinker from Mickey Callaway and deposited it over the left-field fence for his first homer in a Red Sox uniform. The blast snapped a 4-4 tie and erased the bad taste created when Chad Fox blew the save in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jason Varitek followed Ortiz with a homer to right, providing insurance (Browne, MLB.com).

Nice win. Pedro looked sharp (whew! wiping hand across brow). Just wish getting the win didn't mean having to dip into the bag of labeled late inning tricks in order to get it done. I've always believed that the baseball gods, if you will, dole out a finite number of these sorts of deus ex machina game winners. It'll be a real shame if the Red Sox have to use up all their allotment in the spring in order to counter a shoddy bullpen leaving no last gasp heroics for the fall.

How bad is the bullpen? You know it's bad when a guy like Grady Little, mister calm, cool and collected is saying,

"It's got to stop I can't afford this feeling every night" (Hohler, Globe).

Neither can I.

How do you spell relief? N-O-T-B-O-S-T-O-N

Yeah, you'll need something stronger than Rolaids or Zantec75 to subdue the knots this bullpen ties in the gut.

Meanwhile, is it just me, or do some of you get a sick feeling when you see the crowd shots of Ben Affleck at the game bedecked in his Red Sox regalia? I guess my animosity is born of jealousy, but there is something about the de rigueur television shots of stars in the audience, be they Ben and J-Lo watching the Sox or Callista Flockhart watching the Yankees, that cheapens the whole experience for me. I want all the attention focused on the players and the game and not on the glitzeratti. Makes me feel all puny and insignificant, exactly the opposite feeling I'm looking for when I watch a game.