February 28, 2009

Saturday Doubleheader

A good time was had by all as Boston routed the Reds 16-5. In 14 innings of baseball today, the Red Sox scored 30 runs on 30 hits.
Reds    - 000 100 220 -  5  8  1 
Red Sox - 462 100 03x - 16 20 0
Ian Browne:
Julio Lugo, trying to win the starting shortstop job, went 2-for-3 from the leadoff spot. Captain Jason Varitek drove in four runs, including a two-run double. All of Varitek's production came from the left side, where he hit just .201 last season. J.D. Drew scored twice and had two hits. Jason Bay scored three runs and had two hits. Brad Wilkerson, in competition for a spot on the bench, ripped a two-run homer and added a ground-rule double. ...

Clay Buchholz was sharp in his two innings, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Evening lineup vs Cincinnati:
Julio Lugo, SS
Brad Wilkerson, CF
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Chris Carter, 1B
Nick Green, 3B
Gil Velazquez, 2B
Clay Buchholz will start the evening game -- followed by Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen.


The Red Sox won the afternoon game 14-0:
Northeastern - 000 000 0 -  0  2  1 
Red Sox - 507 200 x - 14 10 0
Third baseman Angel Chavez hit two home runs, including a first-inning grand slam, and drove in six runs. Josh Bard followed the slam with a solo shot of his own. Lars Anderson drew three walks and Jed Lowrie had three RBI. Starter Kris Johnson struck out three and allowed one hit over two innings. Junichi Tazawa notched four strikeouts over two hitless innings.

Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson got booed by the crowd for holding up Jacoby Ellsbury at third base on a long drive to centerfield that probably could have been an inside-the-park home run.

Two split-squad games today:
1 PM vs Northeastern
7 PM vs Reds
Afternoon lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Lars Anderson, DH
Jed Lowrie, SS
Angel Chavez, 3B
Josh Bard, C
Zach Daeges, LF
Josh Reddick, RF

Kris Johnson, P
Clay Buchholz will start the evening game.

MLB To Question A-Rod Sunday

Daily News:
Alex Rodriguez will meet with Major League Baseball's investigators in Tampa Sunday, and when he does, he had better be prepared to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The meeting didn't take place Friday as many had expected it might. MLB VP of labor relations Rob Manfred ... wouldn't speak specifically about Rodriguez's case, but he made it clear that this type of meeting is a whole lot more than window dressing. ...

During his Feb. 17 press conference, Rodriguez admitted that he was injected by his cousin for three years, although his comment that "we knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs" has raised questions about his use of oral drugs as well ...

A-Rod will also be asked to discuss his relationship with tainted trainer Angel Presinal, who joined Rodriguez on every road trip during his MVP season in 2007.
I assume MLB officials will be "allowed" to ask follow-up questions, so for Slappy's sake, I hope he used the 11 days since the press conference wisely -- and figured out how to explain the contradictions and inconsistencies in his various versions of the truth.

February 27, 2009

The Youk-Fu

The Youk-Fu is not as bad as the facial hair of some major leaguers* ...

... but I'm not a fan.

Yook says he thought about going with the Lemmy Kilmister look, but was outvoted at home.

Boo, Enza (note: you coulda been Enzä!).

*: There has to be a blog/site that collects pictures of the worst facial hair in MLB, right? Some wacko who would DVR everything in sight and then grab screen shots. Where is it? ... Note: The 5th MLBer above is Toby Hall -- known in my house during his Devil Rays days as "Scrotum Chin".

What I'm Reading

I am currently reading 2666, a novel by Roberto Bolaño.

2666 - published in Spanish a year after the Chilean author's death in 2003 - has been translated into English and, since its publication last fall, has become a literary sensation, the current "it" novel.

Minh Tran Huy, reviewing the book for Le Magazine Litteraire (Paris) said that Bolaño "borrows from vaudeville and the campus novel, from noir and pulp, from science fiction, from the bildungsroman, from war novels; the tone of his writing oscillates between humor and total darkness, between the simplicity of a fairy tale and the false neutrality of a police report".

Marcela Valdes, writing in The Nation last December, stated that "all of Bolaño's mature novels scrutinize how writers react to repressive regimes ... [and explore] the relationship between art and infamy, craft and crime, the writer and the totalitarian state."

Valdes notes that a large part of the book is "spun from ghastly news: the murder, since 1993, of more than 430 women and girls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, particularly in Ciudad Juarez". The area is called Santa Teresa in the novel. Bolaño had been fascinated by the murders for a long time and his relationship with reporter Sergio González Rodríguez (who investigated the crimes, most of which remain unsolved; see also Salon, 2002) is explored at length in her article.

Last fall, I had read some David Foster Wallace fans stating that parts of 2666 were similar to Wallace's 1996 novel Infinite Jest, though I'm not sure exactly in what way. Then some of them set-up a group read for 2666. That, coupled with the insanely positive reviews the book has received -- La Vanguardia called it "not just the great Spanish-language novel of this decade, but one of the cornerstones that define an entire literature" -- nudged me to get the book (though I am well behind the pace of the group read).

I don't read a lot of fiction, but over the last decade, I seem to have had a weakness for novels that are long, literary, and well-hyped. That was how I discovered Infinite Jest (1,079 pages). The following year I was drawn to Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon (773) and Don DeLillo's Underworld (827) (which I have autographed by both DeLillo and Andy Pafko!) In 2004, I tried Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (800) -- which, oddly, copied the very distinctive ampersand Pynchon used for M&D -- but gave up after about 150 pages.

Now that I think about it, the attraction to big books may date back much earlier. I recall lugging around a hard cover copy of Moby Dick when I was in fifth grade. I read the thing, too. I cannot imagine what the 10-year-old me got out of it.

Impressive Outings For Lester And Saito

Like Josh Beckett, Jon Lester is working on his changeup this spring:
This year, I feel more comfortable with my fastball and my command. I feel that I can spend the time in the bullpen working on other pitches than just my fastball. ... I don't think you ever master a pitch. It's something you have feel for and you have command. That's really all we're trying to get. I'm not trying to have the best changeup in the league. I'm just trying to get a changeup that's effective or one that I can throw behind in the count when we need to.
Terry Francona explained why:
The idea is twofold. One is to incorporate the changeup more and give him another weapon. And in the meantime, staying away from the cutter early in camp helps with arm strength and saves some wear and tear. [The cutter] is a weapon and then all of sudden, it's a very effective weapon. You go to it, you go to it and all of a sudden, your fastball [loses velocity]. ... We understand how good a pitch it can be, but you can lose some of your fastball with it.
Tito was also impressed with Takashi Saito, who allowed one hit and struck out two in his inning of work.
I didn't expect to quite see that out of him today. ... here comes 93 [mph] with a pretty good breaking ball. That was nice to see. The ball came out of his hand real nice. He had good spin on the breaking ball.
Saito has high praise for one of Boston's newest pitchers, 22-year-old Junichi Tazawa:
I think that he is going to become the type of person that's going to change what it means to be a Japanese baseball player. ... I look at Tazawa and I think of when I was 23 years old and I was a rookie. I certainly wasn't that calm and collected. He's here in a camp surrounded by all these famous, major league ballplayers. ... I think he's got it together really well.
Jonathan Papelbon (now scheduled to pitch on Sunday) and Brad Penny each threw 40 pitches of live batting practice. ... Penny will start next Thursday against the Puerto Rico WBC team. ... Francona says Mike Lowell is running at 75-80%.

On the MFY front, Alex Rodriguez has been told by management to keep Cousin Yuri (who picked Slappy up from practice two days ago) away from the team at all times. ... What kind of contract is Manny Ramirez waiting for? He turned down the Dodgers' fourth offer -- $25 million for 2009 and a $20 million player option for 2010. That's amazingly (or insanely) generous.

Baseball's biggest rivalry continues this afternoon as the Red Sox travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays at 1 PM. Michael Bowden will start. Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay and Rocco Baldelli (he'll DH) will be in the lineup.

February 26, 2009

A Change For Beckett

Josh Beckett wants to throw more changeups this spring. Yesterday afternoon, against Boston College, seven or eight of his 22 pitches were changeups.
It's a big feel pitch for me and the more I throw it, the more I can command it, the more I can take speed off it, and add speed to it. It's more of a feel pitch than my curveball is and I want to try to get as many of them in now as I can. That way, I don't have to still be catching up with it in the regular season.
Tim Wakefield (42 pitches) said his shoulder "felt fine", though he was "a little rusty" pitching out of the stretch.

The Red Sox have 14 players (spread out over 11 of the 16 teams) participating in the World Baseball Classic:
Canada: Jason Bay
USA: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis
Dominican Republic: David Ortiz
Japan: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Puerto Rico: Javier Lopez, Fernando Cabrera
Venezuela: Enrique Gonzalez
Australia: Mitch Dening
Chinese Taipei: Chih-Hsien Chiang, Che-Hsuan Lin
Netherlands: Dennis Neuman
Panama: Angel Chavez
South Africa: Justin Erasmus
Jon Lester gets the start when the Red Sox host the Pirates today at 1 PM.

February 25, 2009

Baseball Today (And Tonight)!

Red Sox (ss) - 000 101 000 - 2  8  1
Twins - 030 000 02x - 5 11 0
A Wednesday split.

Wakefield struggled against the bottom of the Twins order, giving up four singles to the first five guys to bat in the second. Toss in an outfield throwing error from Brad Wilkerson and Minnesota led 3-0.

Gumball Bailey's single scored Yook in the fourth and Jed Lowrie's RBI triple brought Wilkerson home to close the gap to 3-2. But Billy Traber crapped the cot in the eighth, allowing four singles and two runs before recording an out.

Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen looked good out of the pen in relief of Wake. Ramon Ramirez pitched a strong seventh inning, striking out two of his three batters.

We have the Red Sox playing baseball again -- so all is well.

BC Eagles     - 000 100 0 - 1  5  0
Red Sox (ss) - 000 061 x - 7 8 0
Water! Nick Green and Yamaico Navarro both went 2-for-2 (Navarro hit a dong). Chris Carter hit a three-run double. BP pitcher Ino Guerrero, 48, drew a walk in the fifth!

Josh Beckett threw two perfect innings (22 pitches, 15 strikes) with two strikeouts (one of them being CHB's son). Clay Buchholz retired the side in order on six pitches in his one inning of work.


Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed five hits and two runs over 1.2 innings for Japan in an exhibition game against Australia on Tuesday. He threw 38 pitches. The game was a tune-up before the WBC.


There are baseball games today!

The Red Sox play their traditional spring opener against Boston College this afternoon, then they play the Twins tonight.

Scheduled pitchers:
BC: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Kris Johnson, Junichi Tazawa, Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard

Twins: Tim Wakefield, Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Billy Traber, Dustin Richardson

The night game will be on MLB.tv (in addition to NESN and MLBN), so I'll be tuning in!

Lineups vs Boston College
1. Julio Lugo, SS
2. Rocco Baldelli, LF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. J.D. Drew, RF
5. Chris Carter, 1B
6. George Kottaras, C
7. Jonathan Van Every, CF
8. Nick Green, 2B
9. Angel Chavez, 3B

Sports Illustrated Exposed Rampant Drug Use In All Sports 40 Years Ago

Two excellent articles on drug use in sports were written by Bil Gilbert and published in Sports Illustrated in June 1969.

John Perricone highlighted them recently (here and here) at his blog Only Baseball Matters. Both of these articles are must-reads of the highest order -- they decimate the laughable Renaultian response of so many sportswriters to the idea of drugs only recently contaminating sports. (And like Perricone, I found it difficult to resist the temptation to quote more of these articles than I did.)

From Problems In A Turned-on World (June 23, 1969):
Among the less startling assertions one could make today would be that we live in a drug culture. The vast majority of us gobble an aspirin here, gulp an antibiotic there, whiff a decongestant now or a few milligrams of nicotine then. We take a little opiate in our cough syrup, a jab of Novocain from the dentist, caffeine to start the day, alcohol to mellow it and a sedative to blank it out at bedtime. However, after it has been admitted that most citizens dope themselves from time to time, there remain excellent grounds for claiming that in the matter of drug usage, athletes are different from the rest of us. In spite of being -- for the most part -- young, healthy and active specimens, they take an extraordinary variety and quantity of drugs (see cover). They take them for dubious purposes, they take them in a situation of debatable morality, they take them under conditions that range from dangerously experimental to hazardous to fatal. The use of drugs -- legal drugs -- by athletes is far from new, but the increase in drug usage in the last 10 years is startling. It could, indeed, menace the tradition and structure of sport itself.

To begin, consider some examples of the role drugs have come to play in sport:

"A few pills -- I take all kinds -- and the pain's gone," says Dennis McLain of the Detroit Tigers. McLain also takes shots, or at least took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine (anti-inflammant and painkiller) in his throwing shoulder prior to the sixth game of the 1968 World Series -- the only game he won in three tries. In the same Series, which at times seemed to be a matchup between Detroit and St. Louis druggists, Cardinal Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle-relaxing pills, trying chemically to keep his arm loose. The Tigers' Series hero, Mickey Lolich, was on antibiotics.

"We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines].... We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal.... We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium.... But I don't think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts," said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals. ...

There are abundant rumors -- the wildest of which circulate within rather than outside the sporting world -- about strung-out quarterbacks, hopped-up pitchers, slowed-down middleweights, convulsed half-milers and doped-to-death wrestlers. Nevertheless, it is the question of motive and morality that constitutes the crux of the athletic drug problem. Even if none of the gossip could be reduced to provable fact, there remains ample evidence that drug use constitutes a significant dilemma, not so much for individual athletes as for sport in general. One reason is that the use of drugs in sport leads one directly to more serious and complicated questions. Is athletic integrity (and, conversely, corruption) a matter of public interest? Does it matter, as appreciators of sport have so long and piously claimed it does, that games be played in an atmosphere of virtue; even righteousness? If not, what is the social utility of games -- why play them at all? Drug usage, even more than speculation about bribery, college recruiting, spit-balls or TV commercials, raises such sticky questions about the fundamentals of sport that one can understand the instinctive reaction of the athletic Establishments: when it comes to drugs, they ignore, dismiss, deny. ...
(In case you are wondering, "I.C. Middleman" -- though it would make a perfect pseudonym -- is the man's actual name.)

Gilbert quotes Dr. H. Kay Dooley, then the director of the Wood Memorial Clinic in Pomona, California, as "well known among athletes as one of the few physicians who openly endorse use of anabolic steroids":
A lot of physicians are stuffed shirts when it comes to sports. Athletes do want to perform better, that is what it is all about. If I know of something which may improve performance, a training or rehabilitation technique, a drug that is legal and which I don't believe involves any serious health risk, I see no reason not to make it available to an athlete. I can't see any ethical difference between giving a drug to improve performance and wrapping an ankle or handing out a salt pill for the same purpose. Athletes hear about these things and they are going to get them one way or another.
More SI:
It would be surprising if athletes were not influenced by the same trends and tendencies that have the rest of us so high on drugs. A Pepper Martin, if plunked in the ribs by a Schoolboy Rowe fastball in 1934, would have trotted down to first base without doing anything about his injury because 1) there was nothing he or anyone else knew to do about it, and 2) he would have thought it a little sissified to have taken medicine for a bruise. In 1969 when a hitter catches one in the side, the game is likely to be stopped while he is sprayed with ethyl chloride to freeze the area, takes an enzyme or (if his medical attendant has come by some on the black market) has some DMSO slathered on the bruise. If he is a particularly sensitive jock he might even take a sedative or a painkilling pill. All this is done, and even demanded, because such aids are available and the consensus is that it is the smart, scientific, modern thing to use them. ...

"I obviously don't care to be quoted," says a New York physician close to the sporting scene. "However, as a generality, team physicians tend to be men of action, not scholarly, speculative types. They are interested in immediate problems: making somebody strong, relaxed, mean or quick and in getting a player back in the game as soon as possible. If somebody tells them there is a drug that might do the trick, they are apt to try it They are not likely to wait around for a double-blind control study to find out if the drug is effective or what it will do to the liver three years later They are interested in today."
The following week, SI published Something Extra On The Ball (June 30, 1969):
The relationship between pain and sports is ancient and close. For some, pain is the prohibitive price that makes games not worth playing; for others it is the secret but ultimate opponent. For most it is a necessary vocational byproduct. Though the image of the athlete as a virile, courageous, uncomplaining pain bearer has been assiduously promoted and popularly accepted, athletes in general fret, worry and complain more about pain than nonathletes. There are several good reasons for this. Games are physical, sometimes violent, and the chances of getting a broken bone, bruise or cut are clearly greater in sports than in less active pastimes. Also, athletes tend to be more dedicated body watchers than most. "They are not exactly hypochondriacs. They are just exceptionally cautious about their bodies," says Dr. Thomas Silva of the Boston Celtics. The normal athlete will immediately note and be concerned about small throbs, aches and twinges that a nonathlete accepts stoically as just part of being alive. Because he is concerned with physical performance, a very little pain can distract an athlete to a significant degree. An accountant with a sore toe is likely to accept the infirmity silently. The same ailment in a baseball pitcher often will be headline news. The player, in turn, will act as if he were threatened by advanced gangrene, and he can hardly be blamed, since his livelihood may be involved in his sore toe. ...

Steroids are a group of complex compounds naturally produced by many plants and animals. The steroids are hormones, and among these are the androgens, male hormones produced by the testes and the cortex of the adrenal glands. Anabolic steroids used by both male and female athletes are derived from male hormones. (Among the most commonly used are Dianabol, Durabolin and Deca-Durabolin, Maxibolin, Anavar, Nilevar and Winstrol.) The androgens have many effects on the body. ... A second major effect of the androgens is anabolic, i.e., body building. They improve the assimilation of protein and thus promote increased weight and muscle mass. ...

"What I wish," says [Dave] Maggard [a shotputter on the 1968 U.S. Olympic team], "is that some reputable scientific group would really study certain drugs and tell us yes or no as to whether they are effective, and yes or no as to whether they are dangerous. Then I'd like to see the NCAA, the AAU, the U.S. Olympic Committee and all the conferences go ahead and put us straight -- tell all of us to either use the drugs, or don't. I think if most drugs were banned -- things like amphetamines, barbiturates, anabolic steroids -- most athletes would stop using them. It's this halfway stuff, the rumors, the idea maybe you have to use them to be competitive that has made it such a mess." ...

"Someday," says Dr. [Allan J.] Ryan [of the University of Wisconsin], "somebody will find a drug that measurably improves performance, is expensive, and is not available to everyone or known by everyone. That is the day when we are all going to have to stand up and be counted on what is right and wrong -- we will have to decide then what sport is all about."

Unlike the conservative Dr. Ryan, a good many athletes, coaches, trainers and physicians believe that we already have found the alchemist's stone; it is anabolic steroids, amphetamines, strychnine, iboyaine, muscle relaxers, B-12, cortisone, etc., etc., etc. Whether it is true or not, the belief and the practices that follow the belief are enough to suggest, as they have to Dave Maggard, that the stand-up-and-be-counted time has already arrived for the athletic Establishment.
As Perricone notes, all of this information -- and thousands of words more -- were published in "THE preeminent publication on sports in America" forty years ago. (Indeed, at the time of publication, man had not yet walked on the moon.) And Gilbert is writing about a trend that he saw as beginning in the late 1950s.

So, Perricone writes,
[h]ow do these [current] sportswriters expect me to believe that they haven't known what's been going on in the world of elite athletic competition over these last four decades? How can they ask me to be outraged when most of them have watched this problem develop, and waited over three decades to start sounding the alarm? ...
Perricone also points out that Bud "I Don't Know Nuthin' 'Bout No Steroids" Selig has been intimately involved in baseball for every single one of those forty years. As far as his own attitude on steroids, Perricone writes:
I'm not saying it's OK, but I'm also not saying it's not. I'm saying it's none of my business. ... We all want to be better, and we all will do most anything to achieve that end. There's nothing new about that. ... We live in a culture that has embraced the pharmacological fix. That our athletes do shouldn't be thought of as wrong; it should be expected.
In a comment to this post, he goes into more detail (which is quite close to my own opinions):
I'm suggesting that the very idea of "cheating" needs to be re-examined. When I consider all of the types of things a player or a team might do to win ... it occurs to me that there's no sense to the notion that using artificial means to improving your strength, stamina and conditioning is THE cheating. ...

The list of things players do -– and have done -– to improve their performance borders on the absurd, and again, for whatever reasons you or anyone want to use, steroids has become THE scourge.

I'd ask you to consider why? Because they're illegal? Horseshit. Amphetamine use has been illegal for most of my adult life, and baseball teams used to keep them in jelly bean jars in the clubhouse. Why wasn't Roy Oswalt up in arms about that? Addiction to speed, which almost always includes an addiction to downers as well, ranks as one of the most debilitating and difficult to overcome. Meth is considered THE community killer, one of the worst drugs out there. Where is the outrage over all of the records that were set in the 60's and the 70's by players who would not have been able to take the field without it?

I'm asking you, asking all of my readers, to consider things differently. Instead of thinking about who was cheating, ask yourself why steroids has become THE issue? ... Curt Schilling helped the Red Sox win a championship in 2004 by using massive amounts of painkillers, almost ending his career, and he was lauded as a hero. Why is that?

Ask yourself who has decided what's OK and what's not.
Perricone's noting the lack of outrage "over all of the records that were set in the 60's and the 70's" by drugged-up players (I don't recall former Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver ever mentioning that Bob Gibson was "gobbling" pills to help him pitch three complete games during the 1968 World Series) reminds me of a phenomenon I find both utterly annoying and fascinating: the evolving indifferent over events that took place "x" number of years ago. The Americans who shrug their shoulders and say "Well, of course, there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK" are the very same people who vehemently deny (and ridicule those who believe in) the existence of any government conspiracies in the present day. Indeed, those same people, thirty years from now, will shrug their shoulders and nod at the mention of shady things from 1995-2004 (to pick a random decade), but will call anyone who suggests government malfeasance in 2039 a kook.

Perricone also points to the sports media's staggering and willful ignorance of history (and their assumption that we, the readers and viewers, have no knowledge of that history):
I'll say it again, if the BBWAA continues to hold these players [Rose, Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Palmeiro, et al.] hostage, if the list of players that they decide to exclude from the Hall of Fame continues to grow, then it won't be a Hall of Fame anymore. It'll be a place where baseball writers can celebrate their righteousness and hypocrisy. ...

Only when steroids became the PED of choice, and the records started to fall did the writers get themselves all up in arms. Why is that? Why did decades of uppers and downers mean nothing to the writers, but steroids and HGH meant everything? Lack of understanding, fear, and more importantly, nostalgia. ...

These writers are defending their childhood memories, and poorly at that. ... Never mind that some of their heroes were drunk on the field, or abused speed, or used cocaine during games. Never mind that many of the records they were seeing fall were destined to fall for reasons far more obvious than the simple choice of strength training enhancers.

Their youth was being debased, and for that, these "cheaters" must pay. Remember this when you read Tom Verducci, or Mike Lupica, and remember that these self-proclaimed experts have forgotten baseball history, if they ever knew it at all.

February 24, 2009

A Challenge For Tony Massarotti

Less than two weeks into spring training and Tony Massarotti sees "continuing signs that interest in the team is waning ... [camp is] devoid of any real buzz".
Could it be that the Red Sox are getting -- dare we say it -- relatively boring?
Mazz was, of course, a central part of the media horde that wanted Manny Ramirez (who he still refers to as "immature and irresponsible") dumped at nearly any cost. Now he laments the lack of drama?!?!?

Check out his latest column:
Before 2004, we never really had such a long-term outlook when it came to the Red Sox. The absence of a world title for 86 years understandably made us short-sighted and impatient. Burdened by past failures, we placed undue emphasis on relatively meaningless events and melodramas, from the late arrivals of spring to ordinary stints on the disabled list to the frustrating losing streaks that are part of any season.

But now? Now we shrug it all off because we know the Red Sox will be good. We just don't know if they will be great. And because that answer will not begin to come until Aug. 15, at the earliest, we chalk up most of the early developments to an accepted part of the journey, only fueling the theory that the Red Sox and their followers finally have reached an emotional maturity.
I followed the Red Sox last summer -- and I recall several "melodramas" during which "emotional maturity" was sorely lacking.

But the bigger point is that Massarotti is claiming that since October 2004, "we" (meaning both the media and the fans) now see these various melodramas as "meaningless events". Fussing over those soap operas (like when someone is due to arrive in camp) -- giving them "undue emphasis" -- is passe, part of the world we inhabited in 2003, 2002, 2001, etc. We have left that old-fashioned thinking behind, however. With the clarity of a world championship in 2004 (and another one in 2007!), we have evolved, and come to understand that "shit happens". We no longer let those silly issues clutter our mind.

Are you f#@%ing kidding me?

Some people think Manny lives in his own dream world, but it looks like it's Massarotti who has no clue what goes on around him.

There is also a subtle subtext of annoyance that Mazz can't simply file gossipy crap. He ends his column:
At this point in time, and in this day and age, the Red Sox are nothing short of a well-oiled machine operating at peak efficiency. They have good ownership, good management, good big league players, and a good minor league system. None of that is really debatable anymore. The entire clubhouse generally seems like a collection of good guys genuinely interested in each other's well being, which makes them all very easy to like and root for.

At the moment, it just makes them challenging to talk about.
So, without the swirling melodramas, doing his job has now become a "challenge". ... Maybe that subtext is not so subtle, after all.

It's not that uncommon for Boston sportswriters to whine about having to actually go out and find some baseball stories. But it's usually CHB who is complaining that he simply can't cut and paste his old material and mail in: "Manny's At It Again #8,306" or "My New Nickname for Carl Everett" or "Stats Are Weird/Bloggers Are Nerds".

There may not be any controversy in camp at the moment, but something will happen this season. Many things, actually. And they will fit Massarotti's definition of a "meaningless event" to a T. And I can pretty much guarantee that Mazz will ditch the wisdom that it's all "part of the journey" and give the issue far more attention than it deserves.

Will he take his own advice? Will he do what he believes has already been going on for 4+ years? I say no. Prove me wrong, Tony!

Penny Feels Great

Brad Penny threw live batting practice yesterday. He says he feels great:
Today, for me, answered a lot of questions, mentally and physically. I didn't know what to expect the first time going out there to face hitters, but everything felt great. ...

I had life on my fastball, felt a good rotation on my breaking ball. The splitter was a little erratic, but that will come later in spring.
Penny is on target to start on March 5 and Jonathan Papelbon, who also threw live BP (video), may see game action on March 3.

Julio Lugo is hungry to "ready to get back to the level I was at. ... That's why I get paid so much money -- to do well." (Keep in mind that among AL shortstops with at least 300 PA last year, Lugo's .355 OBP was 2nd best.)

YFSF: "David Ortiz made some waves this spring by advocating again for the acquisition of a big bat to hit behind him in the lineup -- under the theory that without a Manny Ramirez-esque bat protecting him, he will receive no pitches to hit." Paul SF examines whether Ortiz's worries are well-founded.

All home games previously scheduled for 7:05 PM will now begin at 7:10. Larry Lucchino:
During the week approximately 60 percent of our fans enter the ballpark after 6:30 p.m. Moving the starts by even a few minutes will give them a little more time to make it to Fenway Park ... and reach their seats before the first pitch.

February 21, 2009

(More) Ortiz on Presinal

Amalie Benjamin spoke with David Ortiz today about trainer Angel Presinal. The Globe has audio and a transcript:
AB: Were you ever trained by Presinal?

Ortiz: Of course. Yeah, like I said, I've known him for a long time. All I know from him is he teaches how to keep our bodies ready, working out, teaching how to do the right exercises and things like that. ... He's been doing that for years. ...

AB: So he never pushed steroids?

Ortiz: No, no. Not at all.

AB: Are you worried that people will now associate you with steroids?

Ortiz: I'm not worried about that. I said what I had to say and that's about it.
Flo also took some live BP.

Pitching Matchups

The starting pitchers for the Red Sox's first six spring training games!
Wednesday: vs Boston College: Josh Beckett
at Minnesota: Tim Wakefield

Thursday: vs Pittsburgh: Jon Lester

Friday: at Tampa Bay: Michael Bowden

Saturday: vs Northeastern: Kris Johnson
vs Cincinnati: Clay Buchholz

February 20, 2009

Ortiz Talks About Angel Presinal

David Ortiz spoke to Gary Tanguay and Mike Felger of Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight this evening about his relationship with banned MLB trainer Angel Presinal:
This place, where he work at, is a facility that is like five minutes away from my house [in the Dominican Republic]. So, it's like an Olympic place, where everybody go and hit, run, do all their work in, and that's like in the middle of everybody's house. So we all go there and work out. [pause] He's a good trainer. He's the guy that know how to teach -- he teach you how to train, how to get your body ready to go. You know, but besides that, I have no idea about this.
Video from Comcast SportsNet Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight here.

PECOTA Projected Standings

Clay Davenport, Baseball Prospectus:
...[W]e're playing the entire season from day one, and we're using the depth-chart projections to set the team's strength (though since the depth charts also use a strength-of-schedule adjustment to calculate the records you see, I had to temporarily undo that). We can set a win percentage for each game, and by essentially rolling dice in the computer, we can determine who wins or loses each game. We can do that for an entire season, or a dozen seasons, or a million seasons -- and yes, our usual number is a cool million.
                        Div.     Wild    Total
AL East W L Title% Card% Postseason%

Red Sox 98.0 64.0 38.9 24.0 62.0
Yankees 95.9 66.1 32.1 24.5 56.5
Rays 91.3 70.7 20.3 21.1 41.4
Blue Jays 81.2 80.8 6.4 10.1 16.5
Orioles 73.9 88.1 2.3 4.5 6.8
This is the powerhouse division; they very nearly rated as having the three most likely playoff teams in the AL, even though only two of them can make it. An Eastern team took the AL Wild Card in a staggering 84 percent of the simulations; even the Orioles earn a higher wild-card chance than any team in the other two divisions. All that playing against each other comes at a cost, however, as each team is losing 3-4 games against an average strength of schedule.

Forever Young

In mid-2001, when Alex Rodriguez says he and his cousin were beginning to act "young and stupid", A-Rod was 26 and Yuri Sucart was 38 (he's 46 now). They continued being "pretty naive and pretty young" for (at least) another three years.


More A-Roid lies, according to ESPNdeportes.com:
According to the official in charge of the agency which regulates pharmaceutical drugs in the Dominican Republic, Primobolan was not available for legal purchase, over-the-counter or with a prescription in his country between 2001 and 2003.

Dr. Pia Veras, who oversees the regulatory agency, told ESPNdeportes.com that Primobolan is known as "boli" in the streets of Dominican Republic, and was not legal for purchase during the aforementioned years.

"What Alex Rodriguez stated at the press conference [in Tampa] doesn't make sense," Veras said. "It is important for us to clarify that such substance has not been registered and is not currently registered for legal sale in Dominican pharmacies -- not now and the same applies for the years 2001 to 2003." ...

Veras allowed ESPNdeportes.com to check the official records of the agency, which oversees, monitors and tracks the pharmaceutical inventory that is legally sold in the Dominican Republic. ...

"No pharmacy carries this product; no pharmacy has this product as registered in its inventory," said [Dr. Milton Pinedo, president of the Dominican Federation of Sports Medicine] ... "You can get this but you have to go to the underground market."

A-Rod: More Steroid Links

The Daily News uncovers more steroid links to Alex Rodriguez, reporting that "four independent sources" have said that A-Rod "has had a long relationship with a steroid-linked trainer who's been banned from major league clubhouses".

Angel Presinal, who was banned from private areas of every MLB ballpark after an October 2001 incident involving an unmarked gym bag full of steroids, has been tight with the Yankee slugger dating back to his time with the Texas Rangers, several sources said.

A former New York-area scout says Presinal, whose named surfaced in the Mitchell Report, was with Rodriguez in New York and Miami as recently as this past fall. ...

Another source said Presinal accompanied A-Rod for the entire 2007 season, staying in the same hotel as the A.L. MVP ... The source said Rodriguez avoided being seen in public with Presinal. ...

In addition to A-Rod, Presinal has worked with some of the game's biggest stars: Juan Gonzalez, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, Moises Alou, Jose Guillen, Ervin Santana, Ruben Sierra, Francisco Cordero, Jose Mesa and Juan Guzman, among others.

February 19, 2009

Dustin Pedroia Believes He Is A Better Baseball Player Than Chad Curtis

From Terry Francona's press briefing today, courtesy of the Globe:
Last year, I introduced [Ken] Macha to [Pedroia] and Macha was just making conversation with him and said, "Hey, you remind me of Chad Curtis." Macha meant it like a real compliment, but Pedey was like, "Are you [expletive] me?" Maybe he's right. It went from just trying to introduce him to I had to hold Pedey back ... Good to not introduce him to anybody.

Henry, Lucchino Wrong On Need For Cap

Both John Henry and Larry Lucchino think MLB should consider implementing a salary cap (or "salary zone").

I disagree. There is no need for a cap on players' salaries. When management starts banging the drum for a cap on their earnings or an absolute limit on ticket prices, let me know.

The Red Sox held their first full-squad workout on Wednesday. ... Jonathan Papelbon says he was "starting to kind of break down" during last year's ALCS and hopes that the team's improved bullpen will lighten his work load a bit.


ESPN has identified Yuri Sucart, who lives in Miami, as Alex Rodriguez's drug-smuggling "cousin". ... MLB investigators will soon ask Slappy to "further explain his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs".

Daily News reporter Christian Red needed only two minutes and $19 to purchase "one 100 mg ampule of testosterone enanthate, a 2.5 ml. syringe and a package of 10 Methandrostenolone pills, the powerful oral anabolic steroid known as Dianabol" at a nonnondescript pharmacy in downtown Santo Domingo. No word on whether he also picked up some Tic Tacs.

John Harper of the Daily News thinks it's good that Derek Jeter ("the master of the vanilla sound bite") is now speaking out against steroids, but he wonders
where was he seven or eight years ago? ... If he felt this strongly, why wasn't he out front when the players' union was stonewalling for years on drug-testing? Why wasn't Jeter leading a fight for his union to adopt a policy that would protect the clean players, not the dirty ones?

When asked whether he regrets not speaking out as strongly in the past, Jeter actually used A-Rod's "young and naive" excuse.
I think when you're younger, in terms of young players coming up, a lot of times when you're around the (union) meetings and things, you're really learning. It's a learning process.
Harper points out that by the time A-Rod says he began using banned substances, Jeter was one of the game's most famous players and had been a part of four World Series champions. But, to hear him tell it, Jeter was still learning his way around the game, too shy to speak up around the veterans.

Jorge Posada believes Rodriguez was genuinely choked up when he paused for more than 30 seconds at the end of his press conference statement. Of course, A-Rod had no trouble thanking his teammates and continuing to speak at the very beginning of his statement. ... Well, Pedro didn't call him Dumbo for nothing.

February 18, 2009

Shortstop Competition

So Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie are battling for the starting shortstop job, right?

No, says the Herald's Sean McAdam. He says there is only "the appearance of competition" and that Lugo will be the Red Sox's starting shortstop on Opening Day.
There's no drama here. Unless Lugo gets hurt again or has the most horrific spring of the 60 or so players in camp, he - and not Lowrie - will be the team's starting shortstop when the season opens April 6.
Terry Francona says that while Lowrie will see time at third base -- in case Mike Lowell is not ready to begin the season -- Lugo will not. Tito:
I just think that's going about it wrong. In fairness to him and to Jed, we don't need to start moving guys around. This is a big spring for Julio. He feels like he has a lot to prove and he missed some time. I think the best way to go about it is to let him be a shortstop.
(Lugo has a lot to prove this year, for sure. And with all of this speculation comes the usual caveat that nothing anyone says in mid-February -- though no one in an official position is actually saying much of anything -- can be taken as the way things will be in April.)

Schadenfreude 67 (A Continuing Series)

Mike Lupica, Daily News:
But if you believe his amazing version of his drug history, he wasn't using drugs when he basically went straight from high school to the big leagues, wasn't using them throughout what would have been his college years, only started using them when he got to Texas at the age of 25, going on 26. That was when he finally became "young and stupid."

Joel Sherman, Post:
This was the new story. This should not be confused with the old story, which was just eight days old, but was now treated by Alex Rodriguez and his phalanx of handlers, lawyers and advisers like something wrinkled and useless and in need of being discarded. ...

Brian Cashman tried to explain the inexplicable by saying he thinks A-Rod was being honest, but came across poorly because, "I don't think Alex is very good at communicating, to be quite honest." ...

Bob Raissman, Daily News:
Missing was a combo soundtrack of a sad violin and Suzyn Waldman crying. Except the moment was so hokey, so forced, even the Georgie Girl, who once starred on the Broadway stage, was probably home laughing out loud.

She knows bad acting when she sees it.

February 17, 2009

A-Rod's "Truth" Changes Dramatically In Nine Days

Jayson Stark notes the ever-evolving "truth" being told by Alex Rodriguez:
... He sure didn't tell the same story Tuesday that he told to Peter Gammons a week and a half ago. Did he? Nine days ago, A-Rod didn't know what kind of drug (or drugs) he was taking -- even though he says he took it for three years.

Now, nine days later, he knows it was something called "Boli." Which, best we can tell, is another name for Primobolan, the exact drug he was asked point-blank by Gammons whether he had taken.

Nine days ago, there wasn't one word uttered about any mysterious cousins who were procuring this stuff and helping him inject it. Now, it's time to start poring over his family tree to try to figure out which cousin it was.

Nine days ago, A-Rod was implying that whatever he was taking, he was buying it down at the mall, presumably while he was waiting for an Auntie Anne soft pretzel to come out of the oven.

Now, he's admitting his cousin was the one doing the purchasing. And although he continued to say this drug was bought "over the counter," we now know that counter was located in the Dominican Republic, not outside his friendly neighborhood food court.

Nine days ago, there was no mention of any other "substances." But on Tuesday, Rodriguez admitted to ESPN's Hannah Storm that he also used to take Ripped Fuel, which was later banned -- at least in its original ephedra-based form -- by both baseball and the FDA.

And nine days ago, Rodriguez was angrily accusing universally respected Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts of "stalking" him. Now, it turns out, he just had a "misunderstanding of the facts." So never mind.

Now let me ask you: Would a man whose mission was simply to tell the truth do that much zigzagging in a nine-day span? Sorry. That's tough to accept. ...

What Rodriguez most needed to accomplish Tuesday was some semblance of closure. Instead, he merely unleashed a whole new set of story lines. ...

• He said at one point that whatever he took, whatever his cousin was injecting into his body, he "didn't think they were steroids."

• But he was still so terrified of anyone finding out, it was "one of those things you try not to share with anyone."

• For "all these years," he said at another point, "I really didn't think I did anything wrong."

• Yet just minutes later, he said: "I knew I wasn't taking Tic Tacs. I knew it was something that could perhaps be wrong." ...

One minute, he's continuing to insist he had no idea he had tested positive -- or, apparently, done anything wrong -- until this story broke. The next, he's grateful that this confession was allowing him to lift the boulder on his shoulder he's been carrying around for eight years. So which is it, exactly? I'm confused. ...
Bonus: Brian Cashman, on whether he "regrets" handing Rodriguez a 10-year, $270 million contract a little more than a year ago:
We've got nine years of Alex remaining. ... We've invested in him as an asset. And because of that, this is an asset that is going through a crisis. So we'll do everything we can to protect that asset and support that asset and try to salvage that asset.

A-Rod: The Circus Rolls On

Alex Rodriguez met with nearly 200 members of the media this afternoon. I watched a video of his six-minute opening statement. He read it as though he was seeing the pages for the first time, stumbling over phrases and pausing in the wrong spots.

Some of the text (and my comments):
... [I]n the years 2001, 2002 and 2003, I experimented with a banned substance that eventually triggered a positive test. [Note that I didn't fail a drug test, the substance triggered a positive result].

In September 2004, I had a meeting with Gene Orza. During that meeting, he explained to me that I had been among the players from which people might conclude that I had tested positive ... [or] might not have actually tested positive. ... [Thanks for that info, Gene!]

Going back to 2001, my cousin started telling me about a substance that you could purchase over the counter in the DR known in the streets as Boley or Bole. It was his understanding it would give me a dramatic energy boost and was otherwise harmless. My cousin and I - one more ignorant than the other - decided it was a good idea to start taking it. My cousin would administer it to me, but neither of us knew how to use it properly, proving just how ignorant we both were. It was at this point we decided to take it twice a month for about six months during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 season. We consulted no one and had no good reason to base that decision. It was pretty evident that we didn't know what we were doing.

[I had signed a $252 million contract, so why should I bother to do even one minute of research about this over-the-counter stuff (that had to be smuggled into the US) that I don't even know the actual name of? I'll just get my cousin, who isn't sure how to administer this stuff, which I don't think is steroids anyway, to inject me with it for at least six months. I was young and stupid -- and young. Sure, I had been playing in the majors for parts of seven years, but I was just a formerly poor kid who hadn't gone to college. And it's all GNC's fault.]

It sounds like the Q&A session -- during which reporters were not allowed to ask follow-up questions -- was a train wreck (something about how if you believe in it, water can be as beneficial as steroids?). If anyone sees a video or transcript, let me know.

His opening statement ended with: "And to my teammates ..." Rodriguez then paused for 38 seconds (!!!) in an obvious, and quite pathetic, attempt to force himself to become overcome with emotion ... alas, no tears or even mild lip-quivering were forthcoming, so he took a swig of bottled water, leaned forward and said, quietly, "... thank you".

February 15, 2009

Baseball & PEDs: A 120-Year History

NPR, July 17, 2007:
As the sporting industry exploded in the 1920s, athletic trainers and their charges immediately saw the possibilities of using his [Brown-Sequard's] research. Even the Big Bambino himself, Babe Ruth, injected himself with extract from a sheep's testicles, hoping for increased power at the plate (and in the bedroom). He attempted this only once, and it made him incredibly ill; the Yankees covered the story by telling the press that the Babe just had one of his famous bellyaches. Even though the Yankees tend to celebrate all things Babe Ruth, they have never, to my knowledge, had "Sheep Testicles Day" at the stadium.
This claim comes from page 150 of Dave Zirin's 2007 book, Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports. I don't know his source, but knowing this about Ruth isn't surprising.


Performance-enhancing drugs have been a part of baseball for at least 120 years.

Way back in 1889, James "Pud" Galvin -- then 32 years old -- injected himself with a testosterone concoction derived primarily from the testicles of a guinea pig and a dog.

It was known as the Brown-Séquard Elixir and his use was common knowledge. On August 14, 1889, the Washington Post reported:
Galvin was one of the subjects at a test of the Brown-Sequard elixir at a medical college in Pittsburgh on Monday. If there still be doubting Thomases who concede no virtue in the elixir, they are respectfully referred to Galvin's record in yesterday's Boston-Pittsburgh game. It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.
According to this blog, after the injections, Galvin pitched a shutout and knocked in three runs with a double and a triple.

Galvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965, 63 years after his death.

On August 23, 1889, less than two weeks after the above Post story, the New York Times reported on the controversy regarding the effectiveness of the elixir. According to Dr. Henry Loomis, "the fluid is potent enough to increase the strength of the human organism, presumably in old men, not by structural change, but by nutritive modification ... a consequent recovery of former power by the tissues may supervene". One patient received "four injections of thirty minims each of the elixir every two days".

Another report:
Professor Brown-Sequard recently read a most remarkable paper before the Biological Society of Paris. The aged professor believes he has discovered the secret of perpetual youth. The source is in young animals, guinea pigs, dogs, etc. — from which, while under the influence of anaesthetics, he abstracts organic matter, reduces it to a pulp in a mortar, dissolves all that is soluble in water, then subjects this solution to further chemical action, and finally injects it under the skin of the arm in doses of 1 c.c. at a time. The professor injected the matter into his own arm, and he reports that on the day after he had taken two injections, he felt completely transformed. He could work better, sleep better, and digest his food more perfectly. His appetite improved, and he gained 14 1bs. in weight. It true, these results may well be called extraordinary.
Roger Abrams's book, The Dark Side of the Diamond; Gambling, Violence, Drugs and Alcoholism in the National Pastime, discusses Galvin's drug use. About a year ago, Abrams wrote:
It did not have much of an impact on his performance as he neared the end of his career, at best a placebo effect. For our purposes it is useful to note that no one said a peep about the event. At a time when cocaine was legal and could be ordered by mail or purchased at your local store, steroid-like injections for ballplayers were just matter-of-fact.
Tom House has said he was one of many players in the 1960s and 70s who took amphetamines, human growth hormone and various steroids.
I pretty much popped everything cold turkey. We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses.
House estimated that six or seven pitchers on every staff in were experimenting with steroids in the 70s.

In Ball Four, Jim Bouton wrote:
I've tried a lot of other things through the years -- like butabolidin, which is what they give to horses. And D.M.S.O. -- dimethylsulfoxide. Whitey Ford used that for a while. You rub it on with a plastic glove and as soon as it gets on your arm you can taste it in your mouth. It's not available anymore, though. Word is it can blind you. I've also taken shots -- novocaine, cortisone and xylocaine. Baseball players will take anything. If you had a pill that would guarantee a pitcher 20 wins but might take five years off his life, he'd take it.
Bouton also mentions at one point the players were running low on greenies: "One of our lads is going to have a bunch of greenies mailed to him by some of the guys on the Red Sox."

Drew's Back Still An Issue

J.D. Drew is already having back trouble. His herniated disk has not gotten much better:
It's still pretty stiff. I've fought it all offseason. It's been one of them injuries that has kind of lingered. I've been able to hit, run and all that stuff, but some days I wake up stiff and some days it doesn't seem to be too bad. ... Everything is well enough to play. I just need to isolate it and try to keep it from flaring up too bad.
David Ortiz arrived in camp and was in the cage. The Globe has video. Extra Bases has more info on Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Beckett.

Joe McDonald (ProJo) takes a brief look at the players who hope to win the backup catcher job. Amalie Benjamin spoke to all of them (and Terry Francona); Ian Browne did, too.

As if he thought his job was on the line if the Yankees miss the playoffs, Joe Girardi said "probably".

February 14, 2009

Kottaras Will Skip WBC, Stay With Sox

Alex Speier, WEEI:
Canadian native George Kottaras confirmed that he won't be participating in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada in order to concentrate on making the Red Sox roster. Kottaras, who is out of options, was originally on Canada's provisional roster for the WBC.

"I talked to the Red Sox and they said it would be best for my situation right now to stay here and spend every day here, so here I am," said Kottaras before Saturday's workout at the Red Sox minor league training facility in Fort Myers.
Smart move. While Josh Bard may be the favoured backup as camp opens, his name is written in pencil. There's no reason to be away from camp while Bard and Dusty Brown are showing off their stuff.

Pedroia: "I'm Shredded And Jacked"

Dustin Pedroia arrives in camp today. He's ready to go:
I'm shredded and jacked. We're ready to kick everybody's [butt]. ... I'm fired up. It seemed like a really long offseason. I got about 12 to 14 weeks of workouts in. I got a lot faster and a lot stronger and my body is in a position to hold up throughout the 162-game season.
FY added that Jacoby Ellsbury worked out like a madman this winter.

Jed Lowrie says his left wrist (which he hurt last May) is now pain-free:
I took about a month off to just let it heal. We decided not to do surgery just because there wasn't enough time [before spring training]. ... From the left side, and I'm not one to make excuses, it really hindered my ability to swing with any sort of power. My wrist was just not strong enough to keep the barrel above the ball.

Towards the end of the year it really didn't matter what I did. I just kind of hit that wall. ... [Now] I can't even describe the difference. I couldn't even touch my wrist at the end of the year because it was painful. Now that's not the case.
A happy Jason Varitek spoke to the media today:
I'm ecstatic that I'm a Red Sox. I'm ecstatic that I have the peace of mind that I'll be in this uniform and closer to retiring in this uniform. Not saying I see retirement anytime soon ...

I wouldn't say there wasn't any doubt [about returning], but there was no doubt in what I wanted and what my heart wanted.
Terry Francona was asked about pinch-hitting for Varitek during the coming season:
It's the first day of spring and you got me hitting for him. But to answer your question, I would not look for that. If you're waiting for him to be hit for early in the season, I wouldn't hold your breath.
Tito also spoke with Bob Ryan about his job:
I love the games. "Fun" may not be the right word to describe the sensation every night, 'cause there's a lot of anxiety. What I enjoy is the competition. ... There are always going to be good times and bad times, but I always enjoy going through it with a group you like. It's not always going to be perfect. But I like who we are.
John Smoltz talked about his departure from Atlanta after busting his ass in conditioning drills. Smoltz will not throw off a mound until late March. ... Manny Delcarmen: "Last year my fastball was a little inconsistent and toward my second half I had good fastball command. But I'm going to force myself to pitch a little more in to righties, I think, and work on my breaking ball. ... Jon Lester talks about learning from the veterans.

February 13, 2009

Pre-Season Mags: Lindy's & Athlon

Two more pre-season magazines have hit newsstands. Here are some of their predictions:


AL East        Other Playoff Teams
Yankees Twins
Red Sox (wc) Angels
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Cubs
Orioles Dodgers
Marlins (wc)

AL Pennant: Yankees
NL Pennant: Cubs
MVPs: Mark Teixeira, Hanley Ramirez
CYs: Jon Lester, Cole Hamels

AL East        Other Playoff Teams
Red Sox Twins
Yankees (wc) Angels
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Cubs
Orioles Diamondbacks
Mets (wc)

ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Mets
WS: Red Sox over Phillies
MVPs: Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez
CYs: Jonathan Papelbon, Johan Santana

February 12, 2009

Masterson Will Start Spring As Starter

Rob Bradford (WEEI), on Theo Epstein's press conference this afternoon:
The team will talk with Justin Masterson about his role going forward Friday. Epstein pointed out that the pitcher will know his role by the time camp breaks, although it will most likely be determined definitively closer to the end of spring training. Masterson will start out his progressions as a starter.
Rob also has some video of Jeemer's bullpen session.

Red Sox Open Camp

Spring training has officially begun!

And (naturally) everyone feels good!

Terry Francona is optimistic about David Ortiz and Mike Lowell, as both men return from injury. ... Brad Penny threw off a mound yesterday -- the first time since last September:
The way I feel now I shouldn't have any setbacks. I've just got to stay after my shoulder work, do the best I can to stay in the best shape I can. Everything else will take care of itself.
Also on Wednesday, Josh Beckett threw a 62-pitch session. ... Tim Wakefield feels good and says he gave no thought to retirement.

Clay Buchholz talked about his struggles last season:
I don't think there's any words for it. Never had to really go through any adversity throughout my whole career, my whole life actually in baseball. ... You live and learn and I learned a lot from it last year.

February 10, 2009

Playing Pepper 2009

Daniel, a Cardinals fan writing at C70 At The Bat, contacted a blogger for each major league team and posed five questions about the upcoming season. I got tabbed for the Red Sox.

I like his opening: "You know, at one point I kinda liked the Red Sox." ... Heh, then 2004 happened! Anyway, you can find my comments here. Discuss.

February 9, 2009

Rodriguez Admits To Steroid Use

Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs "for a period of time" while playing for the Texas Rangers (2001-03).

He told ESPN's Peter Gammons, in an interview that will likely be broadcast this evening:
I did take a banned substance, and for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.

When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt all the weight of the world on top of me to perform at a high level every day. I was young, I was stupid, I was naive. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

I just feel that -- I'm sorry. I'm sorry for that time, I'm sorry to my fans. I'm sorry to my fans in Texas. It wasn't until then that I thought about substances of any kind. Since then, I've proved to myself and to everyone that I don't need any of that. It was such a loosey-goosey era, I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty of being negligent, not asking all the right questions.

Bill Madden Writes Some Strange Things

While Alex Rodriguez was "drowning his sorrows with Grey Goose and Red Bull in the VIP area at Aura Nightclub in the Bahamas", Bill Madden, long-time columnist of the Daily News, has some advice for the Yankees' front office:
Cut him loose - no matter the cost.
As difficult as it is to imagine eating $270 million, the Bombers will be making a statement, not just for the Yankee brand but for baseball as a whole.

They will be applauded for it.
Yes, Madden is suggesting the Yankees get rid of Slappy while still paying his contract. Reward him for allegedly taking steroids by handing him $270,000,000 for doing absolutely nothing. That'll show him!

Such is the state of American sports writing.


Meanwhile, what would we do without the New York Post?

February 8, 2009

What Can A-Rod Say?

Assuming these four SI sources are correct, what if Slappy came out on Monday and said:
Yes, I did it. Most players did this -- or are still doing it. It's no secret. And if baseball is truly serious about stopping this, then everyone needs to start telling the truth. Players, management, the union, the media.

I am one of the most visible players in the game, playing in the spotlight of New York, so I feel I have an obligation to take the first step. I will try to be as honest as I possible can in answering your questions. I hope others will join me.
Rodriguez has got to say something soon and although I think there's about a .0001% chance he'll go that route, it would be fascinating. Far more then denying everything, apologizing for "something", or saying he did them only once to recover from an injury.

Ken Tremendous (one of the former FJM crew) wrote a similar script at SoSH:
... I used steroids. I knew it was wrong, and I did it, and no one is to blame but myself. I accept any punishment that might be given to me, and I do not ask for anyone's pity. I accept the fact that this may invalidate me from entry into the Hall of Fame, and I would not blame any sportswriter from voting against me. And for the rest of my career, I will voluntarily travel to high schools and youth leagues all over the country and talk about the dangers of steroids, as well as donate $25,000,000 to start a foundation to prevent steroid use from becoming more widespread.

Schadenfreude 66 (A Continuing Series)

Well, no one will be asking any questions about Torre's book when the Yankees open camp next week!

February 7, 2009

Four Sources Tell SI A-Rod Tested Positive For Two Steroids In 2003

Update: I'm putting newer links to news and commentary in comments.

In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated. ...

The list of the 104 players whose urine samples tested positive is under seal in California. However, two sources familiar with the evidence that the government has gathered in its investigation of steroid use in baseball and two other sources with knowledge of the testing results have told Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez is one of the 104 players identified as having tested positive, in his case for testosterone and an anabolic steroid known by the brand name Primobolan. ...

Primobolan, which is also known by the chemical name methenolone, is an injected or orally administered drug that is more expensive than most steroids. ... Kirk Radomski [writes in his recent book] how players increasingly turned to drugs such as Primobolan in 2003, in part to avoid detection in testing. ...
SI also claims -- and this is perhaps a bigger story than Slappy doing roids -- that three major league players have said Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' union, tipped off Slappy about an upcoming drug test in September 2004. Turning a blind eye to steroid use for years is one thing; assisting players in avoiding detection is quite another matter.

At Shysterball, Craig Calcaterra writes:
Given that it is now inevitable that all of the names who tested positive in 2003 will come out, maybe it's in the union's best interest to release every name now rather than deal with the drip, drip, dripping of names over time. Pull the band-aid off quickly, if you will. ... Doesn't fairness and historical accuracy and all of that demand that we know who else tested positive in 2003?
Here is video of Slappy (three days before the Mitchell Report was released in December 2007) denying ever even being tempted to use PEDs.

Let me add that I fully expect some Red Sox players will be on that 2003 list.

February 6, 2009

Truck Day

The Red Sox last played a baseball game on October 19, 2008 -- 110 days ago, a bit less than 16 weeks. It feels much longer ago than that.

The Globe has the info on today's activities at Fenway Park:
The 18-wheeler that carries the Red Sox' spring training equipment from Boston to Fort Myers, Fla. will depart from Gate D at Fenway Park at 1 p.m. today to make the 1,467-mile trek from Yawkey Way to Edison Avenue.

The truck [photo at link] arrived at a chilly Fenway Park this morning just after 6 a.m. and the packing began at around 7:30 a.m. ... Red Sox Hall of Famer Johnny Pesky will serve as the Grand Marshal of the truck departure this afternoon. ...
The Globe's blog also has some pictures from last year's Truck Day and video of Kevin Youkilis in an indoor batting cage.

February 5, 2009

TSN Predictions

I picked up my first pre-season magazine today -- The Sporting News 2009 Yearbook. Spring cannot be far behind!

Sadly, I am in Region 2 and am stuck with cover boy Roy Halladay, as opposed to getting FY and LBJ in Region 1.

In his AL East intro, Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger writes that the division "may have the three best teams in the league, of not all of baseball. And since no more than two of those teams can qualify for the postseason, it promises to be an all-out dogfight."

Here is TSN's predicted finish:
             Final Grade*
Yankees 94
Red Sox (wc) 93
Rays 92
Blue Jays 74
Orioles 65
*: I don't know what this is or how it is calculated, but it sure looks like
TSN could have listed the top three teams in any order and gone to press.

Comments from rival scouts:

They needed starting pitching and they got it. Those two guys they got, Sabathia and Burnett, they're real No. 1-type guys. So they'll be better, no doubt about it. But for me, the biggest problem they had last year was they were a team that looked like it was getting old. And I'm not sure how well they've answered that ...

Bobby Abreu was a real useful player for them, and they couldn't fit him in their [2009] outfield because they're stuck with Damon and Matsui, who can't do much anymore. Jeter is basically a singles hitter now, and he's a disaster in the field. He actually hurts them at shortstop. Posada's coming off shoulder surgery. Cano ... who know what they'll get from him? ...

They could win [the division], but they're not clearly better than those other two teams at the top.
Red Sox:
They'll score plenty. Ortiz should be back from the wrist [injury] and be the monster he used to be. Everybody's raving about the two No. 1 starters the Yankees got, but they forget the Red Sox already had three of them. Beckett and Lester are as good a 1-2 as anybody has. Dice-K drives you nuts, but he knows how to win the game. And Papelbon is the best closer going right now. I love that kid's stuff and attitude. Like, "I'm better than you and there's nothing you can do about it."
They won the league with the league's lowest payroll. Seriously, that's a GM's dream, right? What GM wouldn't have traded his whole team, straight up, for Tampa's team last October? The whole 25-man roster. And there's more on the way, too. If they're putting David Price in the rotation, he'll be an impact guy right away. ...

They could use another big bat, but they'll probably get one, and they'd do well to make sure it's one that doesn't mess with the good stuff, chemistry-wise, they've got going on there. The starting pitching is rock solid. I worry a little about their bullpen because I don't see a closer. But they have enough arms to figure it out. ...

Guys like Upton and Longoria are just going to get better and better, and they have more guys in the system coming up to help in the next year or two. They make everybody jealous.
TSN's picks for the other five divisions: Twins, Angels, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers, with the Mets as the NL wild card.

MVPs: Longoria / Pujols. CYs: Sabathia / Santana.

World Series: Yankees over Cubs. (In 2008, TSN picked the Red Sox over the Cubs.)