Friday, July 31, 2009

Monster Disappointment

Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Absolutely.

I heard the news yesterday morning at work: my boss, knowing what a fan I am, asked me what I would think if Papi turned out to be a juicer. I shrugged, and honestly told him it would upset me, but no one is safe from suspicion. Of course, I was immediately tested on this claim, as he informed me of the New York Times report (that he had first heard on ESPN).

I was a little bit blindsided, but the reaction I had predicted to my employer was impressively accurate. I am absolutely not surprised. I don't think there is a name in the game that would shock me anymore, and that, more than anything, speaks volumes about the integrity that baseball has lost. I'm a politics major, and the very basis of the American legal system is that you are innocent until proven guilty. This is no longer the case in America's pastime. If you played anytime in the last twenty years, you're a suspect, and that's just sad.

I realized today that I have never experienced the game of baseball free from juicers. I was born in January of 1990, and by the time I was an engaged and cognizant fan the Steroid Era was well underway. As much as Bud Selig and MLB would like us to believe that era is coming to a close, we know better. Until they have some sort of proven test for HGH, we'll always wonder who's using. Is the batter who hit that walk off doing it clean? What about the pitching prospect who's throwing 100mph? Or the veteran who has a bounce back season?

Mike Lowell said it best when he cited the pure numbers from the 2003 "anonymous" testing: 104 players are on that list, out of over 1000 who were tested. Less than 10% of players tested positive, this at the so-called "height" of the Steroid Era, and yet all we hear about are those who used. Part of this is due to the way the names keep coming out... As one or two names trickle out every three months or so, we have to wonder: "Is my guy next?" If the names are going to come out, let's see them all and be done with it; no more of this slow hemorrhaging of [former] heroes.

The Papi news hurts a lot, if only because he was such a great story: the poor boy from the Dominican, shut out of the Twins organization, then becomes a hero in the baseball mecca of Boston. Ortiz regularly lambasted steroid users, demanding a full-season suspension of those who are caught. There's nothing to say Papi didn't stop using after 2003, when the mandatory testing regimen was instated: I'm guessing a lot of guys did, whether from fear of suspension or humiliation. Until we know more, I can't say anything else about it... Papi seemed blindsided by the news, but that doesn't mean anything.

And to those who think this taints the '04 and '07 World Championships: do you honestly believe that even a single team was devoid of cheaters? We KNOW New York had a few of their own, and anyone who believes the other playoff participants were completely clean is either stupid or lying to themselves. I'm not excusing anyone - cheating is cheating - but the Series' wins mean as much to me now as they ever did, and NO ONE can take that away.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The fan gets what the fan wants...

While watching the intro to the ESPY's (hey, it's an off-day), host Samuel L. Jackson said something intriguing, namely, "This is all about the fans. The fan gets what the fan wants." How often do we hear owners/managers/athletes say something to that effect, and how often does it actually happen? Of course, Jackson is talking about the winners in his awards show, which are actually voted on by fans, but even within the ESPY's, if the fans got what they truly wanted, there would be more highlights and fewer commercials. Of course, there's no way that every fan could physically get what they want, as everyone has their own opinions about what would make their team better. Below are the events that would take place if the sports world oriented itself around THIS fan's fancy (most are Red Sox related - there's a shocker!).

  • JP Ricciardi decides that what he really needs to do is trade Roy Halladay and Marco Scutaro to Boston for Julio Lugo and a packet of grape flavored Big League Chew. Merci!
  • Brian Cashman decides that instead of overpaying for yet another free agent, he'll donate the money to a small yet overwhelmingly deserving charity. The Yankees fall out of first place when CC Sabathia eats himself into a coma at one of New York's fine restaurants.
  • Ticket prices at Fenway Park suddenly find themselves within the realm of possibility for a college student with a limited income. Trinity College consequently decides that Major League Baseball games qualify as excused absences.
  • Dustin Pedroia realizes his love for me. We live happily ever after.
  • NESN releases the footage of the beatings Josh Beckett handed down to the Sox offense following the epic FAIL on Tuesday night. Special attention is given to the post-game swirly awarded to Lowrie, and the atomic wedgie suffered by JD "I don't care that my underwear is up my ass" Drew.
  • Heidi Watney gets a clue, or, failing that, NESN hires someone with tact and passion to do her job.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury learns to take a walk, and produces in the leadoff spot. Actually, I won't even wish for that. It's impossible.
Feel free to add your wildest sports wishes in the comments!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I am JD Drew

For all of my jabs about Drew and the fact that he seemingly has no feelings, I like him a lot. I don't really rank my favorite Sox players, after the obvious (Pedroia is number one in my book), but Drew would definitely be in the top half. I never really could have explained to anyone just why that is, short of citing the ridiculous production he had last June. Drew is as advertised, missing a significant amount of time due to injury in the last two years, but very consistent when he's on the field.

One of the reasons many Sox fans were slow to warm up to Drew is that he had the misfortune of replacing one of the most beloved right fielders in recent memory, Trot Nixon. Unlike Jason Bay, who replaced a petulant and whiny import who forced his way out of town, Drew replaced a homegrown dirt dog who was a fan favorite during his tenure in Boston, and lacked those traits that had made Trot so admired. Drew doesn't dive all over the field (the fact that he rarely needs to is often overlooked - he gets to almost everything), and he doesn't get visibly upset or excited, except in very rare circumstances.

Unlike a lot of other Sox fans, I have never been bothered by Drew's even-keeled approach; I figured that if it works for him, it works for me. My high school softball coach, on the other hand, (who has a dog named "Trot") didn't like Drew (or his attitude) from the very beginning. I never quite understood why we couldn't see eye to eye on the issue, until yesterday.

As many of you know, my sister got married yesterday, and I, of course, was a bridesmaid. The bridal party spent the morning getting primped and polished, and while $70 hairdos aren't usually my thing, I was enjoying myself somewhat. Everyone was chattering about how nervous they all were, but I assumed they were exaggerating to make the blushing bride feel like she wasn't alone in her anxiety. The complaints of nerves mounted, culminating in the five of us (the bride, maid of honor, and three bridesmaids) gathered in the back of the ceremony hall. I looked around, and my four companions looked absolutely green. One claimed she was going to be sick.

I didn't get it. I felt fine, even when I looked out and saw all of the people watching. That's when it clicked. I am JD Drew. Clearly, I don't have any feelings in big situations, either, and that must be why it never bothered me that Drew was so nonchalant. Thrilled with this realization, I shared it with the girls. None of them had any idea what I was talking about, not being baseball fans, but I was still thinking about it as I stepped out to walk down the aisle. Was there something wrong with me?

I decided that the emotionless feature could be a good one: with me, it allowed me to walk in front of a hundred plus people in unstable shoes without flinching, and it allows Drew to stare down ace pitchers in clutch situations in the playoffs like it was Fort Meyers in February. The moral is the story is this: it's not Drew's fault he has no feelings - it can happen to the best of us. For any holdouts still left, give JD a chance.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

AL All-Stars (Starters edition)

A list of the American League starters for the All-Star Game, complete with reactions, and the best picture I can find.

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

This one was the Albert Pujols of the AL. A complete no-brainer. Mauer is lauded by teammates and competition alike, is a solid defensive catcher, and is flirting with .400. The hometown boy of the Twins, you can't help but like Mauer. As a plus, he's got a killer smile.

First Base: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

Couldn't help myself with this picture. All I have to say about this can be summed up in the Youk vs. Teix post I wrote last month ("Let's Settle This"). When He was announced this afternoon, I was in the kitchen cooking, and swore loudly. My mother came running in, sure I had cut my hand off or something worse. The only players in baseball I dislike more than Mr. Leigh Teixeira are his teammates A*Roid and Joba. Ugh.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

Okay, you know how I feel about this one, and I'll admit that hearing Pedey announced directly after Marky Mark made me feel marginally better. If I'm being honest with myself myself, I know Pedroia's numbers don't exactly back up his selection, but I can't bring myself to care. My love for number fifteen is no secret, and I am thrilled he was selected for the ASG.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Jeter is another shoe-in, but because of sentimentality, not performance. Captain Yankee has severely deteriorated as a defensive shortstop since the glory years of the late nineties. His bat is still there, now aided by the launch pad also known as the new Yankee Stadium: the day of reckoning is coming for Jeter.... but it's not here just yet.

Third Base: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria isn't my favorite player ever, but there's no denying that he's a quality choice skills-wise. Mostly, I'm just glad A*Roid wasn't selected. Not as a starter, or a reserve. Vindictive? Yes. But I couldn't care less if I tried.

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

This one is ridiculous. After the sensational performance at last year's All-Star Game (specifically the homerun derby), Hamilton has been underperforming. His numbers so far leave a lot to be desired, but he won't be playing in any case, as he is currently on the disabled list.

Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners

I LOVE Ichiro. I often wish he could be slightly less awesome when he's in Boston, but he definitely deserves to play in St. Louis, and I can't wait to watch him dominate the National League squad by running all over the outfield and sucking up every ball that comes near him.

Jason Bay Boston Red Sox

Bay is RAKING this year, and leads the Sox in several offensive categories. MLB's newest American citizen will be patrolling the outfield during the All-Star Game, and, as a total homer, I couldn't be more thrilled for him.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

TTT & The Eternal Awkwardness of A*Rod

Since I have to work today and will not be able to Tweet the game, here's a countdown of the Top Ten Tweets from last night's game, complete with illustrative pictures and elaborative commentary. Enjoy!

10.) "A game after an offday is like a mini Opening-Day all over again... the offday sucks, but I'm so glad to be watching baseball again!" I'm a baseball junkie, and every time I can't get my fix, I have withdrawals. Offdays are terrible, and I don't know what to do with myself. But then, there's the light at the end of the tunnel - the offday ends, and there's baseball again! Needless to say, I'm a total mess in the winter. (Below: my Spring salvation.)
9.) "'A*Rod is a dirty man.' I love the NESN booth guests." This, of course, was a reaction to Lenny Clarke's rant about A*Roid and his dates while he joined DO and The Mayor in the booth last night. I don't think this type of awesome needs more explanation. (Below: the eternal awkwardness of A*Rod.)8.) "Hey Theo, The Mayor wants you to #signjasonbay !!!" For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, the "#" denotes a hashtag, which is a clickable link to other Tweets of the same topic. Obviously, #signjasonbay is pretty popular among Sox types. Casey starting waxing poetic about the clear advantages for having Bay in the lineup and the clubhouse, and I just had to chime in. (Below: Jason Bay being Jason Bay.)
7.) Bad inning... 4-2 Sox... Loved the Fenway Faithful chanting "All your fault" to that fan who got in the way of a potential catch." If the catch in question had been made, the runs in question would not have scored, as Wake and the Sox would have been out of the inning. In essence, that fan cost us the game. (Below: hasn't that fan ever heard of Steve Bartman?!?)
6.) "HAHAHA! RT @GlobeChadFinn I find Julio Lugo funnier than Lenny Clarke, though to his credit, Clarke is better defensively." Okay, so I didn't write this, Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn did, but it's so hilarious that I had to share it with everyone I knew. (Below: E6. Enough said.)
5.) "I LOVE YOU JD! You don't have to have feelings, I'll be excited on your behalf!!!!!" This, of course, was when No Feelings Drew belted a homerun to pull the Sox within a run late in the game. JD didn't react with the excitement I wanted, so I decided to be ecstatic for him. (Below: JD Drew's strikeout and/or walkoff homer face.)4.) "@Gabs1468927 I worry about Youk's heart sometimes... he and Drew should find a happy middle ground." We were discussing Youk's propensity to overreact, and Drew's somewhat infuriating tendency to underreact... Needless to say, averaging them out would produce the perfect baseball temperament. (Below: No Feelings Drew and Kevin "I will fight you over my intensity" Youkilis.)
3.) "@Rob_ish I LOVE Casey. I told my coworker he was as slow as Sean Casey today. He didn't get it. I told him we couldn't be friends." Seriously, you have to love The Mayor, but if there's a slower man in MLB than Casey, I would be shocked! The man couldn't leg out a double to save his life - even on balls hit to places where Papi would be standing at third. (Below: Casey gets thrown out at second... and injures the Jays' shortstop in the process - The Mayor doesn't waste outs!)2.) "I get texts to my phone telling the final score of the Sox game. When we lose, I want to chuck it out a window when it buzzes." In retrospect, I didn't really need to subscribe to this service, as I watch at least 155 out of 162 games during the season (only missing for extenuating circumstances, like class, or my sister's wedding). When we win, the texts make me smile... but when we lose, especially when I just watched a comeback fall short, it deflates my mood even more. (Below: my phone, minus its Red Sox wallpaper.)
1.) "Fenway chanting 'MVP! MVP' Pedroia is my future husband... he just doesn't know it yet." Though Pedey grounded out to end the game, I love him anyway. It's a borderline obsession, but I deal with it. (Below: Dustin with my competition... erm... I mean his wife, Kelli.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Good karma:

Apparently the funny pictures of the Red Sox worked yesterday (not that I got to watch, due to work - darn you, real world!), so I decided to court good karma once again today. Enjoy the following pictures:
There you go, a full day's dose of smiling Sox! Hope everyone has a good Thursday, even though it's an offday...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So that sucked...

I had to go to bed right about when play resumed last night due to a wake up time of 6:00am. Normally, the game would be over at that point, but due to the rain delay, it was only the middle of the fourth inning. Needless to say, I figured the Red Sox lead would be safe. Not so. I woke up this morning to a text message relaying the bad news, and I couldn't believe it. I immediately got online to check the game recaps, and was forced to accept that the so-far almost infallible bullpen had absolutely imploded. Ugh. So I decided that today deserved a funny "Photo of the Day," because, in addition to that disgusting FAIL by the Sox last night, it's STILL raining in New Hampshire. Really, really, hard. And somehow, I need to figure out how to entertain around 50 4-8th graders inside for eight hours. I stumbled upon this gem, and just had to post it: it obviously is a paid endorsement for the wine pictured, but the photo(s) are priceless!From old friend Bobby Kielty with a double serving to JD Drew showing some emotion (even if it is awkward and obviously contrived), this grouping is all kinds of awesome. Manny and Papi are reunited in their former glory, which just has to put a smile on your face... I know I would be lying if I claimed that I didn't enjoy Manny's antics in the glory days. However, the best part, hands-down, is Youk "drinking" the product in question, with serious gusto. Or, in reality, pretending to drink it, since close inspection of the picture reveals that the seal is still firmly in place.

Yesterday's debacle convinced me that the players were ... erm... indulging... during the rain delay. At least, I would rather believe that than find an alternate explanation for why the bullben was an epic bucket of SUCK last night.

That's it for now, but here's hoping the game this afternoon is better, and also that I'll find some way to watch it, as I'm supposed to be watching the kids until at least five...