December 31, 2007

Something Else #1 - Happy New Year!


Almost one year ago, I posted about the Rolling Stones' 1972 double album Exile on Main Street.

I've been thinking of posting some musical links every so often (mp3s probably), but I'm going to kick things off -- and say goodbye to 2007 -- with some video of the Stones from their 1972 US tour. (With any luck, this series will last longer than my idea for a '72 Stones blog.)

These two clips were filmed in Texas for the amazing Ladies and Gentlemen concert film:

Tumbling Dice (in which Jagger sings the correct "tasty" first line, something he did for only this tour, I think, before changing it forever to the inferior "crazy")



Chuck Berry's Bye Bye Johnny



Here's a live vocal of Brown Sugar from a 1971 Top of the Pops appearance (not only does the unknown sax player have to mime Bobby Keyes's near-perfect solo, but he has to stand down off the stage).



Finally, Street Fighting Man -- an encore from Madison Square Garden on July 25, 1972. The tour ended the following day -- Jagger's 29th birthday!



*******

And two posts from WFMU's Beware Of The Blog:

In November, the legendary New Jersey radio station held a Rudy Giuliani 9/11 Remix Contest. Some highlights: Tommy McKay's "Rudy Can't Fail To Mention September Eleventh", the TZA's "RudyXXX", Norelpref's "Sept Timbre", the opening of Gary Lambert's "Revolution No. 9/11", and the winner -- Mr. Fab's "Wake Me Up When September 11 Ends".

And some songs from a duo called The Death Killers:
Hardly anything is known about this cassette except that it's rectangular. The Death Killers is a brother/sister duo. A six year old vocalist and lyricist, who also named the band, and her thirteen (?) year old brother providing the music.
The WFMU blog is great -- where else are you going to find album cover art like this?

***

Check out webcams of New Year's Eve celebrations around the world tonight, including 16 (or maybe 25) different shots from Times Square. (I love how NYC-centric this site is! Not only do you have Times Square, but there's also a downtown shot from the Empire State Building, a shot of midtown looking (they say) north, and a camera in Little Italy.)

No Toronto -- but there is a feed from Niagara Falls.

December 30, 2007

4 World Series MVPs

Reader Brett writes:
This might be well known but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else. Next year with Lowell, Ramirez, Schilling and Beckett the Sox will be starting 4 world series MVPs - has any other team ever been close to that? I checked the 1990 Yankees but those MVPs tended to be leaving. Just a little bit of trivia.
I checked here and it looks like the 2008 Red Sox will be the first team in baseball history to have four World Series MVPs on its roster (Lowell 2007, Ramirez 2004, Beckett 2003, Schilling 2001).

Maybe Boston has only 3.5 MVPs, since Schilling was a co-MVP in 2001. Even so, no other team has had 3.5. (However, since two of them are starting pitchers, it's highly unlikely they would field all four in the same game.)

At least four teams have had three former WS MVPs:

2001 Yankees: Derek Jeter 2000, Mariano Rivera 1999, Scott Brosius 1998

1975 A's: Rollie Fingers 1974, Reggie Jackson 1973, Gene Tenace 1972

1963 Yankees: Ralph Terry 1962, Whitey Ford 1961, Bobby Richardson 1960

1962 Yankees: Ford 1961, Richardson 1960, Bob Turley 1958

John Wetteland was the Yankees' 1996 MVP, but left that winter and was out of baseball by 2001. Terry won in 1962, but then Turley was not with the Yankees in 1963. Since the World Series MVP award goes back only to 1955, I don't think I missed any other possibilities.

Edit: The 1977 Reds had two MVPs (Joe Morgan 1975 and Johnny Bench 1976), but they also had a 24-year-old part-time infielder named Ray Knight, who would later win the MVP in 1986. But since we are talking past winners, they don't count. Eff you, Big Red Machine!

December 28, 2007

A Quiet Week

2007 recaps from RedSox.com and the Herald (actually, Jeff Horrigan has two).

The team's site also has Christmas-related Q&As with Jacoby Ellsbury and Joe Castiglione.

Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal has some info on infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson and some background on the Sox's pitchers' off-season work.

Also: Jim Leyritz was arrested Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale on charges of DUI manslaughter and DUI property damage after allegedly running a red light and crashing into another vehicle, killing its driver.

December 26, 2007

Pass The Popcorn

Well, this is interesting.

Rusty Hardin, Roger Clemens's attorney,
said Tuesday night that he and other attorneys working for his firm have begun their own investigation into allegations that link Clemens to the use of steroids and human growth hormone. ...

Hardin said the investigation of the allegations had found several individuals had not spoken with Mitchell's investigators, but who were around Clemens during the time in which he is alleged to have been using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

"We are convinced the conclusions in Mitchell's report are wrong and are investigating the findings ourselves," Hardin said in a telephone interview.
The only way Billy can win this is if he's 100% innocent -- and that seems highly doubtful. The allegations are way beyond anything for which Clemens can offer some Pettitte-esque "I did it once (or twice) and didn't like it" BS.

A total assault on the charges may be the only way he can fight this. It's more than a little risky. This should be one hell of a crash and burn.

December 25, 2007

Christmas Traditions

Stephen Nissenbaum, in his fascinating cultural history of Christmas -- "The Battle For Christmas" -- shows us the long-past traditions of the holiday in the United States: "excess, disorder, and misrule ... heavy drinking, and loose sexual activity"*.

At the time of the Puritans (early part of the 1700s), that disorder took on a clear ritualized form:
Christmas was an occasion when the social hierarchy itself was symbolically turned upside down, in a gesture that inverted designated roles of gender, age and class. During the Christmas season those near the bottom of the social order acted high and mighty. Men might dress like women, and women might dress (and act) like men.
There was charity -- though in a much different way than we might expect.
The poor -- most often bands of boys and young men -- claimed the right to march to the houses of the well-to-do, enter their halls, and receive gifts of food, drink, and sometimes money as well. And the rich had to let them in -- essentially, to hold "open house." ...

Christmas was a time when peasants, servants, and apprentices exercised the right to demand that their wealthier neighbors and patrons treat them as if they were wealthy and powerful. ... whether it was a gracious offering or the forced concession to a hostile confrontation -- probably depended on the particular individuals involved as well as the local customs. ...

Wassailers -- roving bands of youthful males -- toasted the patron's well-being while drinking the beer he had been kind enough to supply them.
The wassailers sang songs that "usually possessed an aggressive edge ... concerning the unpleasant consequences to follow if the beggars' demands were not met". A sample:
We've come here to claim our right ...
And if you don't open up your door,
We will lay you flat upon the floor
Nissenbaum also reports how (in Boston from 1760-1800) poorer people, wearing masks and dirty clothes and referring to themselves as the Anticks, "demanded (or forced) entry into the houses of respectable Bostonians at Christmas. Once inside, they engaged in a dramatic 'performance' and demanded gifts of money in return." This activity was a type of wassailing known as mumming. (Not to be confused with MUMS!)

A December 20, 1793 letter to the Boston Police Inspector offered a warning:
The disadvantages, interruptions, and injuries which the inhabitants sustain from these gangs, are too many for enumeration, a few only must suffice. When different clubs of them meet in the street, noise and fighting immediately commences. Their demands for entrance in house, are insolent and clamorous; and should the peaceful citizen (not choosing to have the tranquility of his family interrupted) persevere in refusing them admittance, his windows are broke, or the latches and knockers wrenched from his door as the penalty: Or should they gain admittance, the delicate ear is oftentimes offended, children affrighted, or catch the phrases of their senseless ribaldry.
(When right-wingers talk about the need to return to the old traditions of Christmas, I don't think this is what they have in mind.)

Society began to crack down on public drunkenness and vandalism by suggesting that Christmas should be more of a domestic holiday -- something that a family would celebrate by itself, indoors. The transformation took years, but it worked.

However, as Nissenbaum writes:
Making Christmas an indoor family affair meant enmeshing it in the commercial marketplace. ... When the [old wassailing] gift exchange [of food and drink] was brought inside and limited to the family circle, such gifts no longer made sense. The wife and children of a prosperous man already ate the household's best food ... What made Christmas special for them had to be a different sort of gift, the sort of gift that soon became known as a Christmas "present". And that was precisely the gift that could most conveniently be procured through a purchase. ...

It is commonplace, nowadays, to hark back to a time when Christmas was simpler, more authentic, and less commercial than it has become. ... As it happens, such musings have been commonplace for a long time -- for more than a century and a half.
A character in a holiday story written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1850 (before she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin): "Oh, dear! Christmas is coming in a fortnight, and I have got to think up presents for everybody." She remembers back to when she was 10 years old -- when "the very idea of a present was new" and a child would be "perfectly delighted" with even one piece of candy. In those days, she recalls, "presents did not fly about as they do now."

In this instance, Stowe was actually telling the truth. Stowe was born in 1811 and commercial Christmas presents became common during the 1820s, though Nissenbaum also found explicit advertisements from 1806 (Salem, Mass.) and 1808 (Boston and New York). Indeed, another reason for making the traditions of wassailing and mumming illegal was to make the streets safe for shoppers.

Finally:
The Puritans knew what subsequent generations would forget: that when the Church, more than a millennium earlier, had placed Christmas Day in late December, the decision was part of what amounted to a compromise, and a compromise for which the Church paid a high price. Late-December festivities were deeply rooted in popular culture, both in observations of the winter solstice and in celebration of the one brief period of leisure and plenty in the agricultural year. In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior's birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been. From the beginning, the Church's hold over Christmas was (and remains still) rather tenuous. There were always people for whom Christmas was a time of pious devotion rather than carnival, but such people were always in the minority. It may not be going too far to say that Christmas has always been an extremely difficult holiday to Christianize.
*: fuck yeah!

December 23, 2007

Fat Billy Makes A Video

ESPN:
In a video posted on his official Web site, Roger Clemens said that he has become "almost numb" to the steroid accusations against him in the Mitchell report and that he has granted an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" [after Christmas] in an effort to clear his name. ...

"It's amazing to me that I'm going to lengths that I'm going to have to defend myself. ... I faced this last year when the L.A. Times reported that I used steroids. I said it was not true then. Now, the whole world knows it's not true now that that's come out.

"It's surfaced again later now with this Mitchell report. Let me be clear: The answer is no, I did not use steroids, human growth hormone, and I've never done so. I did not provide Brian McNamee with any drugs to inject into my body. Brian McNamee did not inject steroids or human growth hormone into my body, either when I played in Toronto for the Blue Jays, or the New York Yankees. This report is simply not true."
Someone -- Clemens or McNamee -- is lying through his teeth.

December 22, 2007

True Grit

Flotsam Media proposes a new composite statistic: General Requirements of Intangible Talent (GRIT):
GRIT incorporates four basic components: dirt, determination, talent, and opportunity. ...

The most important factor in determining a player's GRIT is his uniform. A player who is "containing, covered with, or resembling grit" will show visible signs of his grittiness on his uniform. Dirty uniforms are good; bloody uniforms are better. A true team player, the gritty player is prepared to sacrifice his body at all costs. This is one of the few ways gritty players are efficient, since they probably aren't as well compensated as their genuinely talented teammates. ...

It is my contention that "grittiness" is a subset of talent that cannot translate well statistically. Two players may very well have the same raw amount of grit, but one player may have more tangible talent, making him appear less gritty because the grit is too diluted. Gritty players are those who have the largest concentration of grit. As such, to find the grittiest players, we should look for players who have as little tangible talent as possible ...
Pure brillance. (Thanks to FJM.)

December 21, 2007

Santana "Update"

Nothing really new.

Rocky Mountain News:
Boston remains the expected destination for Minnesota lefty Johan Santana. The two teams have agreed on three of four players the Red Sox will give up - Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson. The Red Sox, refusing Minnesota's request for Jacoby Ellsbury, are adamant the fourth player be outfielder Coco Crisp.
On the MFY side of things, Brian Cashman wants Hankenstein to pull Phil Hughes off the table.

December 19, 2007

Clemens Denies Using Any Banned Substance

Billy's statement:
I want to state clearly and without qualification: I did not take steroids, human growth hormone or any other banned substances at any time in my baseball career or, in fact, my entire life. Those substances represent a dangerous and destructive shortcut that no athlete should ever take.

I am disappointed that my 25 years in public life have apparently not earned me the benefit of the doubt, but I understand that Senator Mitchell's report has raised many serious questions. I plan to publicly answer all of those questions at the appropriate time in the appropriate way. I only ask that in the meantime people not rush to judgment.
No wiggle room there, that's for sure. A cynic might note that "I did not take" could mean "It was my trainer that shot me up", but I don't think that parsing will fly at this point.

The denial did not impress the New York tabs.


Earl Ward (Brian McNamee's lawyer) has issued a challenge to Clemens. "It's one thing to issue a statement. It's another to testify under oath."

Congress will hold two hearings on steroids and PEDs in mid-January.

December 18, 2007

WS Ball: Papelbon's Dog Ate It?

After Jonathan Papelbon struck out Seth Smith to clinch the 2007 World Series title, Jason Varitek pocketed the baseball, then gave it to the pitcher.

Later, Papelbon's agent said the Bot did not have the ball. No one cared all that much -- Theo Epstein: "I hope that's a recurring problem for us" -- but the mystery may have been solved. Papelbon:
"My dog ate it. ... He plays with baseballs like they are his toys. His name is Boss. He jumped up one day on the counter and snatched it. He likes rawhide. He tore that thing to pieces. Nobody knows that. I'll keep what's left of it."
This could be true. Who knows?

The newspaper gets two thumbs down for failing to tell us what kind of dog Boss is or print a picture.

If not Boss, maybe this guy ate it:

December 16, 2007

Your Turn, Roger

John Harper, Daily News:
So now it looks worse than ever for Clemens. He can't follow Pettitte's lead and come clean because he is accused of being a hard-core steroids user for at least a significant period of years. To admit to such usage would make his remarkable late-career success look fraudulent, largely the result of cheating, and would likely keep him from ever gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame.
Teri Thompson and Michael O'Keefe, Daily News:
Baseball's gossip mill has been pumping out rumors that disgraced Yankees ace Roger Clemens is considering suing Major League Baseball for his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. ... Attorneys close to the game say the rumors of a possible Clemens lawsuit are most likely fueled by frustration and amount to little more than an empty threat from Clemens, especially now that Pettitte has confirmed the information contained in the report.
George King, Post:
According to Rohan Baichu, Brian McNamee has severe problems. Baichu believes those problems led McNamee to fabricate stories about injecting Roger Clemens with performance enhancing drugs.

Baichu, a massage therapist with the Astros who served as a workout partner for Clemens from 2004-06 and lived on Clemens' Texas property in order to be on hand for late-night workouts and massages, unloaded on McNamee, a former personal trainer of Clemens.

"He is a piece of [bleep]. First of all, he is an alcoholic," Baichu told The Post from his New York area residence. "He is a troubled soul and has got so many demons in his closets. He has a lot of problems in his life. ... If Roger is guilty of anything, it's that he has a big heart."
Clemens is scheduled to give a presentation -- "My Vigorous Workout, How I Played So Long" -- next month at the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association conventation. Jim Long, the group's president, said: "Our officers are going to meet next week and we're going to see what he does. We're going to try to contact him and let him tell us some things."

December 15, 2007

Two Apologies

F.P. Santangelo:
I did something absolutely wrong. I shouldn't be made a hero. I made a bad decision against everything I believe. I admitted it and I faced the music. And if by me being embarrassed helps generations to come not have to make the difficult decisions that I had to make, then it's good that this all came out.
Andy Pettitte:
If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize. I accept responsibility for those two days. ... In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow. I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped. ... I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.
(Emphasis mine.)

One nice thing about Pettitte's mealy-mouth statement (if what I did was a mistake -- it might not be) is it increases the pressure on his training buddy.

December 14, 2007

Jon Swift And Steroids

Jon Swift, on the Mitchell Report:
Just as law-abiding citizens don't have guns to defend themselves against gun-wielding criminals when guns are banned, baseball players who don't take steroids are unable to compete with those who do. Distributing guns to everyone and requiring everyone in the community to know how to shoot levels the playing field and gives everyone a fighting chance against criminals. In the same way distributing steroids to all baseball players and requiring every player to take them would level the baseball playing field and give everyone a fair chance to compete. ...

Young people are being sent the message by those who refuse to use steroids that you shouldn't be all you can be, that you should settle for being second-best to someone who cared enough about winning to take steroids. ... What are these [non-steroid using] players going to say to their disillusioned young fans who looked in vain for their names on the Mitchell Report list: "Sorry, kid, I just didn't want to win bad enough"? ...

I think that the records of player who did not take steroids should be the ones that are asterisked. Clearly, these players were not playing to their true potential. Shouldn't those who refused to take steroids be asking themselves if they could have done better?

Bulletin Board

The Home for Little Wanderers is holding its 3rd annual holiday online auction. Bidding continues until December 16, 2007. Items include:
* A chance to be a batboy/girl for a spring training game in 2008 and four tickets to the same game
* A signed baseball by Daisuke Matsuzaka
* A physical set of Bleacher Seats from Fenway Park
Phyllis Hanlon is writing an article for Road King Magazine on "Truck Day" and would like to talk with
fans who've actually been present when the equipment is being loaded for the trip to Ft. Myers. I'll be talking with drivers of these 18-wheelers but would like fan reaction/input.
Email her: polishpen at mac dot com.

Hmmmmmmm ... truck day .......

Schadenfreude 38 (A Continuing Series)

Mike Vaccaro, Post:
You want to complain that there aren't many Red Sox on the list? You want to rail about the obvious juicers on those teams, maybe link that to the fact that Mitchell is a director of the team? Go ahead. Or simply understand: The Sox were spared because the men who did this investigation couldn't nab whoever it was who supplied the home clubhouse at Fenway Park. That guy was out there. He's out there still. He was luckier than McNamee, luckier than Radomski.





December 13, 2007

Mitchell's Report On Steroids Released

Mitchell Report (PDF, 409 pages)

***

1:45 PM: No matter how many names are in Mitchell's report, it will not be a complete list of users. Any suspected player not on the list will continue to be suspected. And there will likely be some clean players named in the report who have been falsely accused. We will have no way of knowing who they are.

So what's the point of this exercise? Drug use is rampant in baseball. And ....? I suppose MLB (who hid its head in the sand for more than a decade) is hoping that this will show how super-duper-concerned it is about getting PEDs out of the game? But who the hell over the age of six is going to believe that?

P.S.: Mitchell's report will say nothing about amphetamines -- a drug with a far bigger role in baseball history than steroids.

And if you think the sports media -- which also stuck its fingers in its ears and yelled "la-la-la-la, I can't hear you" for more than a decade -- has been self-righteous and moralising on this issue in the past, well, just wait another 15 minutes ....

***

At 2 PM today.

ESPN's Buster Olney quotes an agent as saying the Report includes "landscape-changing names. Names that will change the way we look at the sport."

A former Yankee strength trainer says Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are in the report. According to the Bergen Record: "It's going to be a rough day in the Bronx." An unconfirmed list making the rounds via email (and being discussed at SoSH) includes Jason Varitek.

I'm wondering if the entire report will be released as a PDF to the public.

December 11, 2007

World Series DVDs

It's here! The 2007 World Series box set hits stores today.

Its eight discs include the four World Series games, ALCS Games 5-6-7 and a bonus disc. One fantastic highlight: three audio options -- the radio teams from both the Red Sox and Rockies, in addition to the Fox TV team.

MLB joined the television box set craze in 2004 by releasing (through A&E) a 12-DVD Red Sox collection. A total of nine World Series boxes have been released to date: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1986, 1987, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

(Disclosure: Earlier this year, A&E asked me to review a couple of the collections. They sent me 1986 and 2004. The 2004 was a mistake; I was supposed to get 1975. I used 2004 as part of the prize in the JoS W-L contest and bought 1975 on my own. I'll be ordering 2007 soon.)

More box sets are on the way. An A&E spokeswoman told me that the 1978 and 1988 World Series will be released next year (for the 30th and 20th anniversaries, respectively). She didn't know if the sets will go back earlier than 1975, but it sounds like every year after that will be available eventually. (I would think that a 1969 Mets box, even if the games are not 100% complete, packaged for the 40th anniversary, would sell quite well.)

After 2004, MLB produced a Yankees Fall Classic box covering 1996-2001. There are five World Series games -- 1996 Game 4, 1998 Game 3, 1999 Game 3, 2000 Game 4, 2001 Game 4 -- yet none of them are series-clinchers. At the time, I thought it was an interesting statement of how MLB viewed the purchasing habits of Red Sox and Yankees fans. Now, with the concept humming along nicely, and the Yankees/Dodgers 1977 World Series available in its entirety, I assume that each (sorta) recent Yankee championships will be getting its own box. MLB has also released collections of Cubs and Cardinals games (including Game 1 of the 1968 World Series) and a Cal Ripken-themed Orioles set.

I love these collections. They are beautifully boxed and reasonably priced for the amount of discs included. Every so often, I have the urge to buy them all. Would I actually sit down and watch every game of the 1979 World Series? Probably not, but the urge to own the box is strong. The chronological flow of the spines appeals to the collector in me, as it probably does to many other fans as well.

Each game disc is packaged in a thin, clear plastic case containing various bits of trivia about the game/series, with the box score on the back cover and the play-by-play on the inside of the case. The menu features the game's line score so viewers can start at any half-inning.

The 1975 box contains all seven games between Cincinnati and Boston. Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, Dick Stockton and Ned Martin call the action for NBC. It's a joy and a revelation to watch these games -- minimal replays, laughably crude graphics, no quick-cut close-ups from pitcher to batter to fan to bench to pitcher (a horrible disruption to the game's natural flow and tension) and an astonishing lack of hype, even at the start of Game 7. ... Actually, it's not a total joy; Larry Barnett can burn in hell.

For bonus material, the 1975 set features 30 clips, including a few pre-game interviews, an on-field interview with Fisk after his Game 6-winning home run and Cincinnati's championship rally. Most of the clips are interviews conducted specifically for this set.

The 1986 set includes the Mets' 16-inning, pennant-clinching win over Houston. The bonus disc, in addition to the lockerroom celebration and interviews, has highlights from the NLCS. It's also a bit uncomfortable to watch Bill Buckner stutter and fidget during the first few minutes of his interview. I've also always wondered if the "Congratulations Red Sox" message on the Shea scoreboard was a myth (to my knowledge, no photo exists), but both Knight and Dwight Evans acknowledge looking up with two outs and seeing it.

An Interesting Discovery: 2004 and 2007 have allowed me to watch the 10th inning of Game 6 (and listen to Ray Knight talk about it) as a normal baseball fan. No serious anger or sadness -- more of a mix of wistful disbelief and wonder. Did that really happen?

Re 1986: In the 10th inning of Game 6, 1918 is mentioned only once -- right after Boston secures the second out -- in an on-screen graphic showing how many years have passed since the Cubs, White Sox and Red Sox each won their last title. Vin Scully's only comment is to mention the vast financial differences in the players' shares of 1918 versus 1986. That's it. Nothing about Boston's championship drought or how Red Sox fans are so long-suffering -- and certainly no mention of a curse. The media had not yet invented that. Even in the intro to Game 7, two days later, and during Buckner's first at-bat, there is no direct mention of the error and no replay at all. (There is plenty of curse talk in the voiceover to some bonus clips, however.)

The sets, while wonderfully packaged, are not perfect. First, while I have not had any issues with any of the games I've watched so far, I have read complaints about the sound and video quality of some of the sets.

Second, there is very little pre-game coverage on the 1975 and 1986 sets. All of the discs begin with the broadcast already underway, joining the announcers for the starting lineups or as the home team takes the field. I can't think of any reason why MLB could not include the complete broadcast.

The play-by-play on the 1986 cases is imprecise, with vague descriptions such as "Evans makes an out to left" and "Hernandez makes an out to right". The 1975 and 2004 sets rightly include "flies out", "lines out" and "pops out". I understand this many not matter to most people.

In the 2007 World Series, Fox missed several pitches because it was trying to cram extra commercials in between innings. This is inexcusable and I'll assume that the recent box includes the pitches Fox failed to show us in October.

There is also the issue of completeness. Because of the historical importance (and complete awesomeness!) of Boston's ALCS comeback and its long-awaited championship, including as many games in the 2004 collection made sense. But why did MLB omit the ALDS? The set was already 12 discs -- why not 15?

For the 2007 set, only the final three (must-win) games of the ALCS are included. Why not the entire Red Sox post-season -- or at least Boston's other four victories? The answer is likely cost: more games = more discs = higher price and presumably fewer customers.

But the vast majority of people buying this set (or receiving it as a gift) will be Red Sox fans! And the serious fans among us want the entire thing. MLB is selling individual DVDs of the 2007 World Series games at its website, but not any other post-season games. Why not? If those other Red Sox playoff games were available for separate purchase, obsessed fans could happily own the entire post-season.

I have my issues with many things MLB does, but considering the inability to please everyone with a project like this, MLB has done a fantastic job making these games available at a relatively modest price.

The older boxes are a godsend. Red Sox fans can re-watch the 1975 series (and younger fans can watch the games for the first time); Yankee fans can go back in time to 1977; and Pirate fans can enjoy 1979. And the addition of the enhanced audio on the 2007 set shows that MLB is open to improving the sets as time goes on.

Twins/Sox Still Talking Re Santana

Joe Christensen, Star Tribune:
The Twins continued exploring potential trade options for Johan Santana on Monday, picking up where they left off at last week's winter meetings.

While no deal appeared imminent, there were indications that in their talks with the Red Sox, the Twins were focused on a package ... of Ellsbury, infield prospect Jed Lowrie and relief prospect Justin Masterson, with the sides haggling over a fourth player. ...

Meanwhile, the Twins' talks with the Yankees remained dormant. ... Mets General Manager Omar Minaya sounded optimistic about his team's chances of landing Santana late last week, but others have all but ruled the Mets out ... because he won't part with shortstop Jose Reyes and has limited pitching prospects.

December 10, 2007

Pining For Puke

Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers longs for the winter meetings of yore, when GMs were vomiting, fist-fighting, oversleeping drunks.

FJM cleans up the mess.

December 9, 2007

Color Movies Of Larsen's Perfect Game

There were 64,519 fans in Yankee Stadium on October 8, 1956 for Game 5 of the World Series.

Two of them -- Saul Terry and Al Mengert -- brought movie cameras. What they filmed has been rarely seen.

December 8, 2007

Timlin Deal Finalized; NESN DVD Due

Mike Timlin's $3 million contract for next season was finalized. After a rough start in 2007 and a five-week stint on the disabled list, Timlin returned in mid-June and finished strong.

After June 26, Timlin made 34 appearances (38.2 innings) and had a slim 2.09 ERA. He did not allow a run in 31 of those 34 appearances -- and allowed only three of 21 inherited runners to score. Opponents "hit" .177/.243/.246.

In addition to the 2007 World Series DVD box set (out next week), NESN is releasing "Champions Again: The Story of the 2007 Boston Red Sox". According to the Globe:
In addition to the 80 minutes of baseball content, there are bonus features such as the best of broadcasters Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo, the entire ninth inning of Clay Buchholz's no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles Sept. 1, and NESN's trip with closer Jonathan Papelbon during a moose hunt.
The Red Sox announced their spring schedule. ... Coco Crisp does not see himself as a fourth outfielder next season. His agent says having Ococ "looking over his shoulder at (Jacoby) Ellsbury would be unacceptable." ... Eric Gagne may be close to signing what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says could be a $10 million deal for next season.

December 6, 2007

Beckett On Santana's Next Contract

Josh Beckett, on a possible Red Sox mega-deal for Johan Santana:
It doesn't matter to me. I make plenty of money. I'm starting Opening Day, though. ... There are a lot of people who make more money than me who I had better years than. I'm happy where I'm at.
The Globe says that after today's Rule 5 draft, Theo Epstein is leaving the winter meetings.

December 5, 2007

Wednesday With Johan Santana

Some MFY news re: Cashman, Hughes and Santana:

Bob Klapisch: "It wasn't money, it wasn't Ian Kennedy, nor was it the haggling over a third prospect that kept the Yankees from acquiring Johan Santana. When GM general manager Brian Cashman called the Twins at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to withdraw from the Santana sweepstakes, it was because losing Phil Hughes had become too great of a trauma for the Yankees to absorb."

Bill Madden: "Believe it or not, the final decision not to go through with a deal that was on the table - one that would have sacrificed Hughes, Melky Cabrera, 23-year-old Double-A righthander Jeff Marquez and 22-year-old A-ball third baseman Mitch Hilligoss - was based on money. ... [Cashman] never wanted to do this Santana deal, never wanted to get tied up in another expensive long-term contract for a pitcher and, above all, never wanted to give up Hughes."

And the Herald says: "The Red Sox have told Ryan Kalish's agent that his client's name never came up in talks with the Twins."

Sigh. Dozens of updates and reports, yet we really seem to be flying blind.

Sox Consider Extending Varitek

McAdam:
Sometime between the end of these winter meetings and the start of spring training, the Red Sox would like to talk to Jason Varitek about a contract extension.

Varitek's four-year, $40 million deal - signed after the 2004 World Series - expires after the 2008 season and the Sox are unsure whether they have a suitable replacement in their pipeline.
The Red Sox may have little choice here, considering the dearth of catching talent out there. For Varitek (who will be 36 next April), no other team will (over-?) value him as much as Boston does. So ... something like 2/18?

December 4, 2007

Tuesday with Johan Santana

Overnight postings:

Hank on including Hughes and Kennedy: "That's not going to happen. To give up two of the three, there's no chance, not for anybody." (P.S. If A-Rod opts out, that's it. He's gone. I mean it.)

Heyman: "The Twins told the Yankees they would accept a deal without pitching prospect Ian Kennedy but want both pitching prospect Alan Horne and outfield prospect Austin Jackson in addition to top young pitcher Phil Hughes and outfielder Melky Cabrera."

Rotoworld: "The Twins have reportedly asked for Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester and Jed Lowrie from the Red Sox for Johan Santana."

Globe: "The Red Sox have traded medical information with the Minnesota Twins on Jon Lester, which means that talks between the two teams have progressed." (Other reports have the Twins asking for the info and the Sox providing it.)

Fox: "The Twins adjourned their discussions with both clubs at approximately 1:30 a.m. CT."

ESPN: "Buster Olney reported early Tuesday that ... If the Twins were satisfied with Lester's medicals, it's believed they would accept a swap of him, Coco Crisp, shortstop prospect Jed Lowrie and either highly regarded pitching prospect Justin Masterson or another player. Or if the Twins reversed field and decided they wanted center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury instead, it's believed that would be a 3-for-1 trade -- with only Ellsbury, Masterson and Lowrie going to Minnesota.

New Jersey Star-Ledger: "According to an official of an American League team, the Boston Red Sox have made a significant increase in their proposal for Johan Santana, offering the Minnesota Twins pitcher Jon Lester, outfielders Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury and minor-league infielder Jed Lowrie. The official, who asked not to be named because he is not directly involved, said the Twins were going to sleep on it."

ESPN: "'If the Red Sox get Santana,' said an executive of one NL team that's grateful to be in the other league, 'they might be the best team in the history of the frigging universe.'"

Times: "The Yankees’ pursuit of Johan Santana showed a flicker of life early Tuesday morning when the Minnesota Twins backed off their demand that the right-hander Ian Kennedy be added to the Yankees’ trade offer."

Star Tribune: The exchange of medical info "could mean that the Red Sox and Twins have reached agreement on a deal involving Johan Santana. ... Around 2 a.m. I contacted someone with knowledge of the negotiations. That person had heard that the deal was for four players: Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson. Notice that Jacoby Ellsbury is not part of the deal. I didn’t run with it then because I really wanted to be sure. But I want to let you know this morning that’s what I’m hearing.

December 3, 2007

Special Instructions To Players

In the late 1890s, the National League attempted to get its players to stop using obscene language during games. Here is a memo -- which also offers no less than nine examples of what fans often heard at the ball park. The document may be up for auction.

Bob Watson Is An Embarrassment To Baseball

Bob Watson, MLB's Vice President of Rules and On-Field Operations:
There's going to be, for lack of a better term, a "Francona Rule". You can only wear your uniform top or jacket. You can't wear your night-shirt, or whatever it is. You can wear it before games, or after games, but not during games. You have to have your uniform top at all times.
Good work, you clown. It's about time you addressed one of the true evils ruining the national game.

It's unprofessional to jokingly name the rule after one particular person, since many managers wear pullovers or short-sleeved jackets (Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre, Bruce Bochy, Eric Wedge, Jim Leyland, John Gibbons). And it's childish to refer to it as a night-shirt.

Francona wears the fleece for medical reasons, which he has explained to MLB in the past. He is often cold because of the blood thinner he takes. "I don't want to get into sob stories, but all the stuff I wear underneath, I feel cooped up. I have two pair of tights. I get a little claustrophobic. [Watson is] aware of that."

This silliness started when a New York police lieutenant spoke to Francona about his clothing in the dugout while the Yankees were batting during a game at Yankee Stadium in late August.

December 2, 2007

More Santana Talk

Buster Olney says the Red Sox have changed their offer for Johan Santana, putting Jacoby Ellsbury into the pot, but pulling Jon Lester out.

According to Olney, Boston will not include both players in the deal. (Of course, they might include them both later.) Olney also reports that the Yankees have told the Twins that "they are going to pull their offer off the table soon -- perhaps by Tuesday at the latest -- unless they get an answer".

So perhaps Theo is stalling here -- moving some pieces around, keeping the Twins interested -- while the MFY's clock ticks down. No idea if the deadline is real, but perhaps Epstein can get New York to toss in one of its "untouchables". And if the Yankees truly walk away -- which seems unlikely (and who can believe anything they say this off-season?) -- Theo can rachet down his offer considerably.

The nice thing here is that Theo will not panic. He knows (and has known for a long time) exactly what he'll offer for Santana and he will not go over that. He knows what his top final final offer is.

Sources expect a decision within the next 72 hours.

Also: the Red Sox offered arbitration to Eric Gagne, but not to Bobby Kielty, Eric Hinske, Doug Mirabelli, Royce Clayton and Matt Clement. The Sox can still negotiate with those players, though.

November 29, 2007

The Battle For Santana

Reminder: Trade rumors continuing in comments.

Buster Olney, ESPN:
The Red Sox and Twins are discussing the framework of a Johan Santana deal that would have Boston sending four players to Minnesota in return for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, including center fielder Coco Crisp, pitcher Jon Lester and minor-league shortstop Jed Lowrie, the trio that would to anchor the deal.

Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden has been discussed as a possible fourth player, sources say, but the identity of the fourth player is in flux.
Bowden's a bigger chip than Masterson, but if we can get (and obviously extend) Johan and still keep Buchholz and Ellsbury ... do that deal! And don't make any plans for next late October.

Olney says that Buchholz and Ellsbury "are considered untouchables" in the negotiations, as are Cano and Joba on the MFY side. Does that mean that New York has tossed Hughes into the pot with Milk Dud (and Kennedy?)?

If the Yankees up their offer, Theo can switch Ellsbury for Crisp, but then both Bowden and Masterson would likely be pulled off the table.

November 28, 2007

Hitler Hated VORP

Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Bill Conlin believes that Jimmy Rollins was the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Rollins was decidedly not the MVP (as FJM points out), but that's not important.

A Phillies fan who writes the Crashburn Alley blog emailed Conlin and made the case for David Wright of the Mets. Conlin was not very polite in his responses. Indeed, during the discussion, Conlin wrote:
The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler's time on earth – I'm sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called "Pamphleteers." They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO.
A commenter asks:
By the way, does Conlin realize that the "Colonial pamphleteers" he's comparing to bloggers were the ones who instigated and led the American Revolution? So he's placing bloggers in the company of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton ... and siding with Hitler and King George III.
And while we're chatting about the Third Reich, remember when Michael Kay compared the idea of an announcer "jinxing" a no-hitter with the Nazis marching people into ovens?

(Audio? You better believe there's audio.)

November 27, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for spring training on February 14. Happy Valentine's Day!!

Position players are due on February 20, with the first full-squad workout on the 22nd.

Theo, on who the Sox might part with for Johan Santana: "There are no untouchables. If there's an opportunity to get better, we'll do it."

On dealing Manny Ramirez: "There's nothing happening with him at all, because he's happy in Boston."

November 26, 2007

Beckett To Ellsbury: "Don't Screw It Up"

The Red Sox have sent a bunch of stuff to the Hall of Fame, but a bag of Mike Lowell's eyebrow trimmings is not among the items.

(Note to Gordon Edes (who wrote the above story): the 1998 Yankees did not go 11-0 in the post-season. They lost two ALCS games. No team has gone 3-0, 4-0 and 4-0 since the three-round format began in 1995, though the 1999 Yankees and 2005 White Sox both went 11-1.)

General manager Theo Epstein says the team is set with the regular lineup and starting pitchers and will turn its attention to the bullpen and bench.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: "As a team, [winning the World Series] was the best. But as for personal accomplishment, it was not up to my standards. I feel that my command was something I need to improve."

2008 is the final year on Terry Francona's contract and the team hopes to sign him to an extension before spring training.

This is why bloggers like myself and Jere will never clutter our sites with ads for ticket brokers. Since this is specifically against Red Sox policy, the front office should make a serious effort to permanently revoke the season tickets of anyone found selling tickets this way.

The small town of Madras, Oregon held a parade for Jacoby Ellsbury.
When he spoke in the gym at Madras, Ellsbury referred to his big-league debut [June 30], how he was so nervous he almost threw up ("by far the most nervous I've ever been in my life for anything") and how Josh Beckett, who was pitching that night, approached him with a message: "Don't screw it up."

Later, he was asked if Beckett was just kidding with him.

"I didn't get any joke out of it," Ellsbury said, unsmiling. "Maybe if you ask him, maybe he'll say, 'Yeah, I was just joking,' but he didn't give me a wink or a smile or something. It was, 'Don't screw it up.'

"He came up to me and said, 'Is this your first game?'

"'Yeah.'

"'Is this your debut?'

"'Yeah.'

"'Don't screw it up.' That's what he told me, right before the game."

November 25, 2007

Reading Level

yankees suck

Since I did not go to college, does this mean I may not understand my own writing?

Back Home

It looks like it was pretty quiet on the Red Sox front.

From the papers:

Mike Lowell seems like a pretty cool guy, even if he refuses to hate the Yankees.

November 20, 2007

Lowell Resigns With Red Sox

Mike Lowell has resigned with the Red Sox for 3/37.5.

The Globe says there were reports that the Phillies offered him 4/50, but Lowell chose to stay in Boston.

Also: In the AL MVP voting, David Ortiz finished 4th and Lowell was 5th. Full voting here.

November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Break

From Monday to Saturday, L and I will be in New Jersey for Thanksgiving.

My access to a computer will be limited -- probably mornings and evenings. So things will be quiet around here for a few more days.

Some Thanksgiving music:










This may be a Red Sox blog, but you won't be seeing Mr. Dry Your Eyes here. That is the movie's built-in bathroom break. (Thanks, Martin!)

After Diamond walked off stage, he (allegedly) said to Dylan, "Beat that!" Dylan looked at him and said, "What do you want me to do, sleep?"

November 17, 2007

Gammons: Yankees Withdraw Lowell Offer

Newsday:
With A-Rod back, the Yankees don't have any interest in signing Mike Lowell as a first baseman.
Why should that matter? Slappy wasn't going to play 1B. And wasn't it thought that Dumbo might be moved to first for the final year or two of his contract? Why would NY sign Lowell to a mega-deal also?

Ahhhhh, whatever. The Red Sox front office can't possibly be fooled by this silliness.

As of about 11:30 PM, this was posted on SoSH:
WBZ: Gammons reporting Yanks yank their offer.
WHDH: Lowell still weighing offers from the Sox and other teams.
WCVB: Yankees have 4 years 60 million deal on the table. (??)
The Chokers are apparently willing go with a Shelley Duncan/Jason Giambi platoon at 1B.

November 16, 2007

Lowell's Choice: Good Or Evil?

It looks like Mike Lowell has two contract offers to choose from: the Red Sox or the Yankees. Boston has offered 3/45. WBZ-TV reports the Yankees have offered 4/56-60, as long as Lowell moves to first base.

Curt Schilling:
If it's three years and $45 million here and three years and $49 million or $50 million somewhere ... he's staying here. I would bet my bottom dollar he's staying here, just in knowing the man. But if someone offers him four at $58, or four at $60 and he's at $40, do you blame him? No, you don't, and you can't.
G38 is right. I would not blame him. In fact, I would encourage him to take it and wish him well.

Boston's offer is too high for me, both in years and $. Was Lowell's 2007 season worth $15 million? I say no. But if you think it was, then the Sox are willing to paying him that amount to have a 2007esque season in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Getting that kind of value for their money is highly unlikely.

Rob Bradford reports that "Lowell said earlier this year that he wouldn't be adverse to making the move to first and has no problem joining the Yankees, who drafted him."

If the Chokers sign Lowell, he would not play third, because Alex Rodriguez has signed a 10/275 deal to remain in Gotham. Fruitbat, looking at Slappy's deal and Dumbo's recent 4/56 payday, wants a fourth guaranteed year added to the team's 3/45 offer, which would pay him about $15 million at age 42. CI may have some tax problems (SoSHer Mike in CT has dubbed him "Captain Untaxables"). Shemp had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but should be fine by camp.

Here's the tentative 2008 schedule. The Red Sox play their first five games in three different countries. They end the regular season at home against the Yankees.

November 14, 2007

NYY: A-Rod at 3B, Lowell At 1B?

Fox/MSN:
In a startling turn of events, Alex Rodriguez spoke with the Steinbrenner family and New York Yankees officials Wednesday and told them he wants to stay in pinstripes.

The two sides are currently working toward a 10-year, $275 million contract, a source with knowledge of the talks told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The deal also would include incentives that could push the total value higher. ...

Recently, however, the Yankees have been talking to [Mike] Lowell not just about replacing Rodriguez at third base, but also about playing first, major-league sources tell Rosenthal.
WTF?

In case you are wondering, Lowell has played more than 10,000 innings in 1,262 games and has spent not even one minute at first base.

I have no idea what this is about. Isn't a lot of Lowell's value tied up in his glove at third? Can he learn a new position at age 34? And are the Chokers serious about playing him $14 per for three or four years to do so? Does Lowell even want to play first?

Bizarre. One thing is for sure: the "Hank and Hal" era is off to an entertaining start.

Other reports have the Yankees and Angels interested in Lowell, but neither team really wants to offer Lowell a four-year deal (this early in negotiations).

Who Omitted Beckett?

Josh Beckett was not named on two AL Cy Young Award ballots.

Paul at YFSF passes on the info that Mark Feinsand (New York Daily News) and Jorge Ortiz (USA) each listed C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey and Fausto Carmona on their Cy Young ballots.

Kevin Sherrington (Dallas Morning News) was the one writer who did not include Sabathia, putting Beckett, Carmona, and Johan Santana on his ballot.

***

AL MoY: Eric Wedge, followed by Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre and Terry Francona (3 votes for 2nd place and 4 votes for 3rd place).

Red Sox Open 2008 In Japan

The defending World Series champion Red Sox will begin the 2008 regular season with two games against the Oakland A's in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 25-26.

The regular season will continue, after five days off, on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 1-2 with two games in Oakland. The A's will be the home team for all four games.

The Sox and A's will also play two exhibition games -- on March 23-24 -- against Japanese teams.

Also: Yook with a clean chin. "I'll start it up again, because a lot of people seem to like it."

November 13, 2007

Sabathia Wins AL Cy Young Award

                          1st 2nd 3rd  Pts
C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland 19 8 — 119
Josh Beckett, Red Sox 8 14 4 86
John Lackey, Angels 1 5 16 36
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland — 1 4 7
Eric Bedard, Orioles — — 1 1
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays — — 1 1
Johan Santana, Twins — — 1 1
Justin Verlander, Tigers — — 1 1
MLB story.

Not that it mattered, but Beckett was left off two ballots and Sabathia was left off one. (I'll bet one of the non-Beckett ballots belongs to George King of the Post.)

In ERA and WHIP, Sabathia (3.21, 1.14) and Beckett (3.27, 1.14) were just about identical, and CC held that impressive (and slightly-lower) ERA while pitching an additional 40.1 innings.

That is very significant and likely made the difference. Plus, those extra innings may have contributed to his downfall in the ALCS (in which Beckett won the MVP).

Yook To Lose Goatee

Kevin Youkilis will have his goatee shaved off at 5 PM this evening at the Cask 'n Flagon near Fenway Park. The event is free and open to the public.

Gillette is donating $5,000 to Yook's Hits for Kids organization.

Lowell On The Open Market

Mike Lowell can now hear offers from any of the other 29 teams.

That the midnight deadline of Red Sox exclusivity passed last night should not be read as a sign that Lowell is leaving. The chances that Lowell would not even see what the open market could offer him for the next four years -- the last big contract he will sign as a major league player -- were very, very low.

In his mind, he may like what the "very strong" three-year deal the Red Sox offered him, but I can't blame him for being curious about what is out there.

The Herald says the Sox originally did not want to guarantee a third year, but they agreed to do so -- at $12 million a year. The Journal says the contract was approximately 3/40. So the deal was at least 3/36.

It sure sounds like the Sox are dead set against a fourth year, which I agree with. There are players you overpay for -- but Mike Lowell, who will be 34 years old on Opening Day 2008, is not one of them.

If another team (MFY?) offers Lowell a four-year deal than ends up being a good $20 million more than Boston's -- 14 per for 4/56? -- I won't blame him one bit for taking it.

Lowell has made comments about how wonderful it is to pay in Boston -- after toiling for several years in 1/3-filled parks with the Marlins. Whether he believes that is worth leaving several million dollars on the table remains to be seen.

November 12, 2007

AL Rookie of the Year

Yes!

                           1st  2nd  3rd  Total
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 24 4 — 132
Delmon Young, Devil Rays 3 12 5 56
Brian Bannister, Royals 1 8 7 36
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox — 2 6 12
Reggie Willits, Angels — 2 5 11
Hideki Okajima, Red Sox — — 3 3
Josh Fields, White Sox — — 1 1
Joakim Soria, Royals — — 1 1

NL RoY is Ryan Braun.
                           1st  2nd  3rd  Total
Ryan Braun, Brewers 17 14 1 128
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 15 17 — 126
Hunter Pence, Astros — — 15 15
Chris Young, Diamondbacks — — 10 10
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies — 1 4 7
Yunel Escobar, Atlanta — — 1 1
James Loney, Dodgers — — 1 1
***

Will be announced at 2 PM.

MLB has a look at the favourites.

If Dustin Pedroia is the winner, he will hold his press conference at Arizona State University, where he played before the Red Sox drafted him in 2004.

November 10, 2007

Awards Are Coming

Beginning on Monday:
November 12: Rookies of the Year
November 13: AL Cy Young
November 14: Managers of the Year
November 15: NL Cy Young
Then next week:
November 19: AL MVP
November 20: NL MVP

Clay Buchholz Has A Blog

... yeah, but who doesn't these days?

Buch Wild -- Clay has not posted anything since October 2, but someone named The Baseball Insider has posted a video interview with Buchholz answering questions submitted by blog readers.

Pedroia Played Last Two Months With Broken Hamate Bone

Dustin Pedroia tells the Herald's Rob Bradford that he played the final two months of the season with a cracked hamate bone in his left hand.

The injury was first discovered during an MRI/bone scan on September 10. DP underwent surgery last Tuesday and is now wearing a soft cast. Herald:
"Some days I would wake up and it would be hard to grip a bat. I changed my grip a little bit on the bat and went from there. It was just one of those things you know you have to take care of after the season, but you have to play through. A lot of guys have done that." ...

The surgery was performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Scottsdale, Ariz. According to Pedroia, when Sheridan went in to remove the bone it crumbled, suggesting more activity might have led to further complications.

November 9, 2007

Loaded

Baseball Reference's Stat of the Day notes that in 2007 Jason Varitek led all major league players in plate appearances with the bases loaded with 32 (he batted only .200).

Mike Lowell was second with 31, and Julio Lugo was not too far down the list with 26.

The Red Sox loaded the bases 239 times in 2007. The second-best American League total was Oakland -- at 185. Fifty-four fewer times. Cleveland was third (178) and the Yankees were fourth (175).

More SOTD fun:
Trying to answer the question of how often a cleanup hitter hits a "natural" grand slam with the 1-, 2-, and 3-spot hitters on base ahead of him

Players with 100 (!) extra base hits in a season
The 100 XBH hits list is solid evidence that despite the greatness of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, they remain light-years away from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

MLB Alert On Main Download Page

MLB now has a notice on its main download page, in a red, bolded font:
Having trouble viewing downloads purchased prior to 2007 – Click Here
This is excellent!

(However, there is nothing on the main download page of 2007 games -- which is where fans are directed when they click on Buy Now option for World Series game downloads on MLB's main page. There should be something there, as well. Fans who go to order 2007 games might very well have ordered games in 2003-06.)

Still, based on what I have seen over the last two days, MLB is taking quick and correct steps to fix this problem.

The Washington Post Weighs In

Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post called me earlier today and now has posted a very good piece on this MLB-DRM debacle for his Faster Forward column at the WaPo.

MLB's Email Alert

This email from MLB just appeared in my inbox. It includes the same information I quoted yesterday. I'm assuming this was sent as part of a mass email effort to any previous digital download customers.

Has anyone else out there received a similar email?

November 8, 2007

MLB Follows Up

Contrary to what I posted earlier today, it appears that, according to an email I received, MLB:
will be disseminating emails to customers who had purchased downloads prior to 2007 in a proactive effort to alert them of the issues and provide immediate remedies so they can access the previously-purchased content they are entitled to.
If I receive permission to post more of the email, I will do so.

MLB's Response re Faulty Downloads

MLB has replaced the error message that appears when customers attempt to play files of games purchased and downloaded prior to 2007 (posted here) with the following message:
Attention Valued MLB.com Digital Download Customers:

It has recently come to our attention that a small subset of our MLB.com Digital Download customers are unable to access and watch certain games that they purchased prior to 2007. MLB.com is committed to ensuring that all non-functioning MLB.com Digital Downloads that were previously purchased are again made available at no additional cost to our customers.

If you are unable to view any MLB.com Digital Download game that you purchased prior to 2007, please contact MLB.com Customer Service by either (1) sending an e-mail to customerservice@website.mlb.com listing the games that are no longer accessible, or (2) by calling 888.800.1275 to speak to a representative.

We will then send you an e-mail containing information on how to re-download and reassess these games. Please note that all Regular Season games will be available, in the original format, within three business days of your request. All post-season games will be made available, in the same format currently used on MLB.com/Downloads, within seven business days of your request.

We regret any inconvenience, and value your continued support.

Sincerely, MLB.com
This is a start, but it is still unacceptable.

During my telephone discussion with MLB representatives yesterday, they assured me that MLB would be emailing customers who had paid for game downloads that were no longer accessible. According to this statement, MLB has already reneged on that promise. They are now putting the onus of discovering this problem, then contacting MLB, on the consumer.

As far as I can tell, this message cannot be found on MLB's website. Rather, it appears only when a customer attempts to play an old game file. Therefore, customers currently accessing MLB's download page (who may also have downloaded games in previous years) still won't know this problem exists before they purchase games. [This has now changed. See more recent posts.]

We can assume MLB realizes that if it posts a notice about how badly it screwed up with its old DRM system -- and fans see that MLB is still using a DRM system -- fans will rightly be reluctant to spend their money at MLB.com.

This problem was caused solely by MLB, and it's up to MLB to solve it -- by taking the lead and contacting the customers who are currently being defrauded. They should have the decency -- and good business sense -- to publicly announce that a huge problem exists and that they are working to solve it.

MLB representatives told me they would be "pro-active" in solving this debacle. It appears that promise did not last even 20 hours.

***

I have sent another email to MLB VP of Communications Matthew Gould (he's identified here, so I think I'm free to mention him).

Japan Opener Still Uncertain

Will the Red Sox and Athletics open the 2008 season in Japan on March 24?

Theo Epstein says the team has not yet reached a decision. "It's up in the air. ...[I]f you want to speculate enough you could say approval of our players is the primary factor ..." The Globe reports that according to "at least two prominent members" of the team, the players do not want to make the trip. (The A's want to go.)

Negotiations with Mike Lowell continue. The Globe's Nick Cafardo has heard that the Sox are willing to go three years to keep the Doctor operating in Boston.

More from Cafardo:
Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are being put on Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder-strengthening program and likely will visit with Josh Beckett to see how he performs his routine. The Sox will have a minicamp after Thanksgiving to go over the strength program.
Theo:
There's a reality in baseball that if you try to keep things the same by not making changes, things will change on you anyway. In other words, players change, players age, chemistry changes, rosters and payroll structures change. It's better to be proactive and try to find the right mix for now and for the future rather than let it happen to you while you sit and watch and protest and wish it were still 2004.
Theo, on the ball used to record the final out of the 2007 World Series:
I have no idea where the ball is and don't really care. I hope that's a recurring problem for us.

November 7, 2007

My Conference Call With MLB

MLB is clearly concerned about my/its downloading problem -- or, more likely, about the uniformly negative attention it received today. I received an email from a VP of Communications at MLB this afternoon and was part of a conference call this evening.

During the call, MLB agreed that it had handled this issue in an "sub-optimal manner". Whatever it had done to alert customers to the potential problems during the DRM platform switchover was an "inelegant solution" and MLB "did not effectively" get the word out about the old DRM platform. I'd say it was a non-existent solution. To my knowledge, MLB changed DRM platforms and did absolutely nothing to inform its customers about the switch.

I have my suspicions that the solution put forth by MLB during the conference call would not have come about had my post not received the attention it did. The MLB representative heading the call did not confirm it; indeed, I didn't even ask. However, after thinking about my past dealings with MLB, I find it hard to believe that MLB knew about this problem, was concerned about it and was hard at work independently to find a solution that would satisfy its customers -- and that MLB was ready to roll out this solution at the exact moment that I posted my complaint.

In any case, whether for altruistic reasons or selfishly trying to save face, I appreciate MLB taking this issue seriously and working to find a decent solution.

What I was told is this:

Everyone who purchased a game download while MLB was on the old platform (prior to 2007) will be receiving an email (possibly within 48 hours) with a link that will allow the customer to re-download the game again -- for free. The MLB rep said they are working with a database of everyone who had ordered a game(s) and would be sending out emails very soon. It was unclear if, for example, you had purchased five games if you would receive five emails or one email with five links.

I was told that MLB is in the process of making all of these games -- both regular season and playoff games -- available again. The playoff games will take a little longer to restore, as they will be in a higher resolution.

Assuming all goes well, I will be happy to have the games again. However, this solution is far from ideal.

These new downloads will still have DRM protection, so customers will have to go to MLB.com for a license, as they always have. I asked if, since MLB allows customers to receive a license at only three separate computers, that as people upgrade or replace their machines over time, they eventually could be left with no way to play the files on their fourth computer, the MLB rep said "Yes, that's a problem."

Which means that the really cool games -- like the four games of the Red Sox 2004 ALCS comeback -- games that you revisit and replay many times -- are the most vulnerable to being lost in the future.

I suggested that MLB could simply make the files available for a strict download -- and if a few fans made an extra copy or two for their friends, just chalk that up to the cost of doing business. MLB pricing the current games it is selling at $1.99 per download and not the previous $3.95 would go a long way to prevent that. Most people would not balk at paying two bucks for a copy of a favorite game. But give them the game without any DRM strings attached. It would save MLB from any possible future headaches (like the one they are experiencing now) and will make the fan happy.

The MLB rep conceded this was a "valid point" and while it will not be MLB's policy in the foreseeable future, it was an argument that he said would likely have a lot of support, at both this evening's conference table and throughout MLB.

I asked the MLB rep if he could send some official statement to me about what the company will be doing, so I could include it in a blog follow-up. That should be arriving tomorrow.

Pitches Great! Less Schilling!

Boing Boing has picked upon my MLB download troubles. Spread the word.

Schilling $8 contract for 2008 includes as much as $6 in incentives (not the $2 I mentioned yesterday), including a weight-related clause -- suggested by G38 himself.
I inserted the weigh-in clause in the second round of offers. Given the mistakes I made last winter and into spring training I needed to show them I recognized that, and understood the importance of it. Being overweight and out of shape are two different things. I also was completely broadsided by the fact that your body doesn't act/react the same way as you get older, even after being told that for the first 39 years of my life.
(That's a pretty horrible post title, isn't it?)

Kevin Youkilis is only the second first baseman in Red Sox history to win a Gold Glove (George Scott, the real "Boomer", is the other). Much is made of Yook's 1,080 chances without an error, but really, if Yook had made an error or three along the way, would his work at first been any less valuable?

Theo Epstein, on the Mike Lowell negotiations: "We're working at it and hopefully moving the ball forward each day." ... Damn it, Theo, NO football metaphors!!!

Daisuke Matsuzaka became the first Red Sox pitcher since Babe Ruth (Game 4, 1918) to have two RBIs in a World Series game.

Interesting take on the Slappy Opt-out from the Times:
From a bargaining perspective, however, the story up to now shows strong evidence [that] Rodriguez wants to stay a Yankee — albeit after proving his open-market value — and has gone out of his way to make it possible for the Yankees to climb down from their posturing and match any offer.
In NYC: The Mets are meeting with Alex Rodriguez. Right now, Wilson Betemit is pencilled in as the Chokers' 3B next year. That will likely change by March, but whoever they get will be a huge downgrade from Mr. McBluelips. ... Jorge Posada says he'll listen to other offers before making any decision re the MFY. Sources say the Chokers are considering offering 3/40, while Dumbo is looking for four years. ... Andy Pettitte turned down his $16 million option for 2008 and he may decide to retire. ... And finally, from CI: "If someone came out twenty years from now and said they released those bugs on purpose, I'd believe it."

November 6, 2007

Ortiz Has Knee Surgery

Globe:
Red Sox DH David Ortiz underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today, according to a statement released by the team. The surgery, performed by team physician Dr. Thomas Gill, was done to address a cartilage problem in the knee. The surgery went well, according to the statement, and Ortiz is expected to begin rehabilitation immediately.
Flo should have plenty of time to rehab before spring training. It likely wouldn't hurt if he dropped a pound or 15 over the winter.